This week’s MoviePass Member Top 5 is tons of fun and also a bit confusing. The films that seemed to do the best critically ended up at the bottom of our list, whereas films that did not do as well, such as The Great Wall, Fist Fight, and A Cure for Wellness, ended up at the top of our list. This is definitely a fun change and great to see that our MoviePass viewers take their own opinions into their own hands.
Synopsis: In this action-fantasy epic set in 11th century China, two mercenaries from the West (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) are captured by a military organization that is headquartered in a fortress on the Great Wall. In time, the duo get caught up in a battle between the Chinese warriors and a supernatural menace that the Great Wall was built to repel. Jing Tian, Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, Willem Dafoe, and Eddie Peng co-star. Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), this collaboration with Hollywood is the most expensive Chinese film to date.
It appears that our members ignored the critics when deciding which films to see this weekend. The Great Wall came in first place among members with a whopping 15.42% of check-ins. With a start-studded cast and the biggest collaboration between Chinese film and Hollywood to date, one would have thought that The Great Wall would have done amazingly well with the critics. However, a Rotten Tomatoes score of only 35%, makes one wonder where exactly this film went wrong. The New York Times even went far enough to call the feature, a Game of Thrones knockoff stating, “The whole thing plays out as if it had been thought up by someone who, while watching Game of Thrones and smoking a bowl, started riffing on walls, China and production money.”
It must be a disappointing blow for director Yimou Zhang, as this project was not only the largest film ever shot in China, but also Zhang’s first English speaking piece. Many of the issues that the critics have can be attributed to yet another example of Hollywood’s whitewashing, or the issue the Oscars faced last year with #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag, #ThankYouMattDamon, has even gone viral on Twitter and Facebook, giving gratitude to the actor, in a sarcastic manner, for everything that he has done for Asian culture. Not all reviews were so terrible though, with Simran Hans from The Guardian stating, “The country’s most expensive co-production to date is a visual treat, complete with a grizzled Matt Damon…” Once again, however, it was the top movie among our members this weekend. Were you one of the 15.42% who saw The Great Wall this weekend? What did you think?
Synopsis: A mild-mannered high-school teacher (Charlie Day) is accused of getting a fellow teacher (Ice Cube) fired, and is challenged to a fight after the school day ends in this comedy directed by Richie Keen.
As the Oscars loom, so much of cinema has been relatively serious. We’ve missed the goofy comedies that we all love and desperately need to fill the hole left by the 21 Jump Street and The Hangover franchises, as well as, This is the End and Bad Teacher. Fist Fight attempts to fill this hole, and with 14.39% of member check-ins, it has done a great job of attracting goofy comedy lovers. Unfortunately for the feature, the critics were not overly impressed with it. Fist Fight only received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 32%.
It’s refreshing to see Tracy Morgan’s return to comedy. Many 30 Rock fans are thrilled to see how well he has recuperated from his life-threatening accident. What many view as an issue for the movie is its toxic depiction of masculinity, in a world where women are still protesting for equal rights. Joyce Slaton of Common Sense Media writes, “‘Teachers behaving badly’ is a classic comedy premise that often works, but this movie’s toxic take on masculinity and logical plot holes ruin the funny.” This hasn’t stopped others from finding the film entertaining, including Sandy Schaefer of Screen Rant. Schaefer writes, “Fist Fight may be as slight as a half-hour sitcom comedy, but enough of its R-Rated jokes hit their target to sustain the movie’s brisk runtime.” Although this may not be the most intelligent film of our time, it is a fun film in this season of mostly dramas.
Synopsis: A Wall Street stockbroker (Dane DeHaan) travels to a remote location in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO (Harry Groener) from an idyllic but mysterious wellness center. He soon suspects that the miraculous treatments are not what they seem. His sanity is tested when he unravels the spa’s terrifying secrets and finds himself diagnosed with the same curious illness that keeps all of the guests there longing for a cure.
Entering with 14.38% of check-ins, a mere .01% less than Fist Fight, one could say that A Cure for Wellness is tied for the #2 spot. What is even more interesting about the juxtaposition of these two films is that they could not be any more different. Where Fist Fight is wacky and comedic, A Cure for Wellness is dark and scary. The latter truly depicts what would seem to be an absolutely chilling psychological thriller. However, critically, it only faired slightly better than the two films that top our list, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 39%. Many of these problems seem to come from the length of the movie, with Leah Pickett of The Chicago Reader stating, “Seems to last forever and, when it finally ends, leaves a sour aftertaste of overproduced, overblown schlock.”
All of the reviews seem to tell the same tale: even though the movie is masterfully done with beautiful cinematography and a shocking story, it falls apart at the end. Don’t let this deter you from going to see it though. Jeffery M. Anderson of Common Sense Media writes that this “Unsettling, disturbing thriller has bold, striking visuals.” Make sure to check out the camera work of this film before it leaves theaters.
Synopsis: In this next chapter following the 2014 hit, legendary hitman John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is forced back out of retirement by a former associate plotting to seize control of a shadowy international assassins’ guild. Bound by a blood oath to help him, John travels to Rome where he squares off against some of the world’s deadliest killers.
On the other side of the Rotten Tomatoes spectrum, we have John Wick: Chapter 2 coming in at a whopping 90%. Surprisingly, this top-rated film only came in as number four on our list with 9.86% of member check-ins. The John Wick franchise has actually done so well that a third installment is currently in the works. Though many other recent releases have missed the mark on CGI, critics feel that John Wick hit the nail on the head perfectly. Richard Brody of The New Yorker writes, “Despite the long takes and the wide angles, the traumatic violence looks like expertly realized CGI, combined with elaborately sampled stunt work.”
According to Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of viewers who saw the film enjoyed it. Many of them state that sequels often ruin movies, but not this one. Critics agree, including James Beradinelli of ReelViews, who states “This is ‘more of the same’ but, at least in this case, that’s a good thing.” Take time to check out what is seemingly an amazing sequel, something that we don’t often see in the film world.
Synopsis: There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman (Will Arnett) wants to save the city from the Joker’s (Zach Galifianakis) hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin (Michael Cera) and loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) can show him a thing or two.
To everyone’s – and also nobody’s – surprise, The Lego Batman Movie is making a killing at the box office. Not only does it have a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but during its second weekend in theaters, it grossed $33 million, maintaining its #1 spot. Among MoviePass members, it accounts for 8.48% of this weekend’s check-ins. In a decade inundated with superhero films, between Marvel and DC releasing what seems to be a new multi-superhero film every other minute, it is nice to see a spoof on these ever-serious characters, for a change. Plus, everyone from great uncle Steven to baby cousin Sally loves legos – they have been a staple since they were founded in 1932. The way that this company keeps remaking themselves truly is a remarkable feat.
David Sims of The Atlantic seems to agree stating, “The Lego Batman Movie works precisely because it knows audiences are sick of its hero. It’s a reassessment, an intervention, an effort to try and remember what’s fun about him.” Barry Hertz of Globe and Mail writes, “Basically, it’s a standard-issue Batman narrative – arguably better than 50 per cent of history’s other Batman films – that just happens to take place in a Lego-fied world.” This Batman movie is a must see; it may be made out of legos – but interestingly enough, you may not even notice.”
IN THEATERS THIS WEEK
Synopsis: Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
Synopsis: To pay for his girlfriend’s medical emergency while abroad, a man (Nicholas Hoult) hatches a scheme to pull off a drug heist for an eccentric gangster (Anthony Hopkins).
Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the 17th-century Tulip Wars, a married noblewoman (Alicia Vikander) has an affair with an artist (Dane DeHaan) and switches identities with her maid to escape the wealthy merchant she married. She and her lover try to raise money together by investing what little they have in the high-stakes tulip market.