Movie Reviews

Wild Card: The Biggest Flop of 2015?

Wild Card: The Biggest Flop of 2015?

Jason Statham rarely garners any positive press from his typecast roles but no one expected the extent the damage his recent film, Wild Card would leave in its wake. Set in Las Vegas, Wild Card traipses through some of the leading casinos on the Strip and racked up a sizeable $30 million in production costs along the way.

Although it’s a little confusing where all that money went, the movie’s projections were also a little confusing. The film was made by Current Entertainment and Quad Films with the idea of being one of the highest grossing films of 2015 – they couldn’t have been further from the mark.

Wild Card is the adaptation of 1985 novel Heat, which was written by William Goldman and is a remake of the film that originally starred Burt Reynolds in his pomp. However, after the two productions companies projected that they would make a sizeable return on their outlay, they never foresaw what was about to unfold.

Jason Statham keeps Vegas safe for the little guy in this second low-wattage adaptation of a William Goldman novel…”
– Scott Foundas, Variety Film

The movie had its domestic release on January 30, 2015 and to most people’s predictions, bombed as expected. But few predicted it would perform as badly as it did. In the United States alone, Wild Card took a laughable $3,200 at the Box Office making it a contender for biggest flop of 2015 already.

However, this isn’t such a surprising statistic from a film in the casino genre. Many films over the last 10 years based on casinos and gaming in general have performed extremely poorly at the cinemas regardless of the cast and budget. Films such as Runner Runner, Poker Night, The Gambler and many more have seen poor Box Office takings let alone reviews.

But what is the most challenging is why this movie genre has become so unpopular. Poker is arguably still increasing in popularity with over 40 million Americans playing weekly and online casino gaming is also still on the rise since its explosion in 1997 through InterCasino, thousands of portals have surfaced online and millions play online daily. The stats just really don’t add up.

So, why are these films struggling so much when the industry and culture it appeals to is prospering? Let us know your thoughts below.

Watch the trailer for Wild Card here:

Aliens (with Beer)

Aliens (with Beer)

by J.D. Cook

It’s been ages since I’ve reviewed a live event but I just felt compelled to spread the word about my recent trip to a local theater. It’s called the Midtown Cinema and it’s located on Riley Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As part of downtown Harrisburg’s 3rd in the Burg festival the theater showed the science fiction classic Aliens. As a huge fan of the film I could not resist seeing it on the big screen for the first time, since I hadn’t been born when it was originally released. There was one extra bonus that put the icing on this proverbial cake, the event was BYOB! So I got to toss back a six pack whilst enjoying the film.

Minor Spoilers Below

For those of you who haven’t seen Aliens there are a lot reasons it’s great. The first film, Alien, was a pure horror film set in a claustrophobic ship. In it the lone Alien stalked and killed all of the crew except Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) who managed to survive, escape and jettison the creature into space. This time around there are multiple Aliens and they have overrun a local colony. Enter some Colonial Marines, a slimy corporate type; an Android and a returning Ripley who agrees to accompany the team as a consultant. When the protagonist of a horror franchise returns in a sequel it’s almost always framed by the character facing their fear. Horror films can be reminiscent of our own childhoods in this way because as children we are often told that the only way to defeat our fear is to face it. Ripley does just that in this film as she is the most capable character. She never underestimates the threat and acts with the most awareness of her situation. She’s a stark contrast to Bill Paxton’s amazingly terrified Hudson whose most famous line is “Game Over Man! GAME OVER”.

The major theme of this film is motherhood. Ripley becomes a surrogate mother for the only survivor of the colony, a traumatized girl who calls herself Newt (Carrie Henn). They connect as they are the only two who have previously survived encounters with the Aliens. In her quest to save Newt, Ripley comes face to face with another mother, the Alien Queen. Ripley uses the threat of destroying the Queens’s eggs to allow her and Newt to escape but then attempts to obtain a little violent catharsis by destroying the eggs, the queen and any aliens that get in her way. Unfortunately this leads to the Alien Queen seeking vengeance on Ripley leading to the ultimate Mother confrontation. It’s been over 20 years since audiences first saw Ripley confront the Queen with the battle cry of, “Get Away from Her You Bitch,” but it still brought cheers!

After the film was over the crowd disbursed into the night but we had all shared a great experience as many of us saw it for the first time on the silver screen while others got to re-live an amazing film from their childhood. Hopefully Midtown Cinema’s will be doing some more science fiction or horror classics in the coming months as Friday Night’s event was packed with people. There’s nothing quite as awesome as getting a good buzz whilst watching one of your favorite films surrounded by an audience that is just as enthusiastic about it as you!

X-Men: Days of Future Awesome

X-Men: Days of Future Awesome

by: J.D. Cook

This article can be found at it’s new home on Comics Movies Games.com

Comic Commentary

Past Comic Book Commentaries

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Huge Revelation for Avengers: Age of Ultron

The First Issue of Magneto is Magnetic

The History of the Guardians of the Galaxy

Mass Effect Comics: A Rundown

The Top 4 Comic Stores in Eastern Pa

 

 

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

by J.D. Cook

The second Captain America is an astounding improvement over the first entry. The first film had glimmers of greatness before floundering in its last act. This film keeps the pedal on the gas through the entire ride and just gets better until its climatic end. It’s also got an insightful commentary hidden just under the surface of its Super Hero adventure.

Spoilers Ahead

While this story is titled, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, that title is a bit of a misnomer. Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Winter Soldier (Stan Sebastian) are only players in a much bigger story. The truth is this film is really more focused on Shield. The organization has loomed large over the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since its birth in Iron Man. So it was natural that its foundation and expansion would be detailed at some point. This film does just that, as well as covering its rather shocking fall.

The film picks up with Captain America working for Shield but growing uncomfortable with their willingness to expand their control and surveillance of the world. Eventually things reach a boiling point when Shield head honcho Alexander Pierce (played by the astoundingly awesome Robert Redford) has his plans interfered with by the good Captain leading to an all-out war within Shield.  Pierce is a fantastic part of the film as the Directors never go out of their way to make him a mustache twirling villain. He feels all too real as he deploys three large automated heli-carriers to eliminate threats around the world in an effort to protect it. Don’t those sound a bit like the real life unmanned drones already patrolling the world for similar reasons? On that same note, Shield has invested a huge amount of resources into monitoring the populace in a similar manner as was revealed by Edward Snowden. I don’t think it’s surprising then that the film ends with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) revealing all of Shield’s secrets over the internet. What’s great about Shield in the narrative is that the organization is a stand in for every government and no government at the same time. This allows the writers to freely craft a politically intriguing story without resorting to the cliche ‘U.S. government is evil narrative’ that so many films used during the Bush administration.

Alright moving away from the commentary and into the comic book essence of this film! The Winter Soldier really is a small part of this film but he is used effectively and his revelation as Bucky Barnes comes surprisingly late in the film. That said it is quite Zola powerful when Cap faces him whilst knowing his identity in the film’s climax. The most exciting comic book reference of the film for me was the mention of Steven Strange. Those who know comics were surely as excited by this as me because it means a Dr. Strange film is not far off! Then there was the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) who was done extremely well as Cap’s loyal partner. I also have to note how cool it was to see Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) return as a 70’s style computer. This was a really effective translation of his extremely odd comic aesthetic into a more realistic form without sacrificing too much.  Lastly the audience was treated to a perfect Nick Fury (The Samuel L. Jackson) who faked his own death in true super spy style. I think the story itself borrowed as much from the opening of the comic event Civil War as the Winter Soldier arc.

One of my least favorite parts of Captain America: The First Avenger was that Hydra was portrayed as a huge evil army that splintered from the Nazi’s. They really came off more like the G.I. Joe’s adversaries Cobra, who may or may not have been inspired by Hydra or vice versa. In the comics Hydra is usually much closer to how they are portrayed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They are a true terrorist organization that bides its time in hiding, infiltrating and waiting to strike. Although they do dress kind of conspicuously in green and yellow when they do attack in force in the comics.

Alright time to try and wrap this review up!

I can’t wait to see how the events of this film impact Agents of Shield; can the show even still be called that after the events of this film since Shield is gone? After watching this film I really appreciate the show more because it has really developed Shield and the characters within who became important in this film like Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez)…that Hydra rat! This film really sealed itself at a high place in my book when Captain America rallied the good agents of Shield with his speech near the films end. This was a movie that didn’t paint Shield and it’s militaristic hierarchy as evil sheep like X-Men: First Class did when Russian and American soldiers agreed to mindlessly destroy a Cuban beach. Instead Shield became a war zone as those loyal to freedom fought the Hydra agents within the organization. Where does the Marvel Cinematic Universe go from here?

Well the world needs heroes and last I heard Tony Stark had a pretty cool tower for a nifty group called the Avengers. While I’m on that subject I guess I should point out that Ultron’s motive has always been eliminating humanity because his computations lead him to believe that we are a fundamentally flawed bunch. What exactly was Zola’s algorithm designed to do? Judge humanity to decide who needed elimination! I posit that Captain America: The Winter Soldier gave us the birth of Ultron in the background of all its internal Shield conflicts. Can’t wait to see how it all comes together with Baron Von Strucker, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in the Avengers: Age of Ultron!

Comic Commentary

Past Comic Book Commentaries

Huge Revelation for Avengers: Age of Ultron

The First Issue of Magneto is Magnetic

The History of the Guardians of the Galaxy

Mass Effect Comics: A Rundown

Astonishing X-Men Got it Right

The Top 4 Comic Stores in Eastern Pa

 

 

Other Articles From Around the Web

Ghostbusters 2

Ghostbusters 2

by J.D. Cook

This article has a new home at www.comicsmoviesgames.com

Other Nutshell Game Reviews

02/24/14 – Ghostbusters
02/15/14 – The Last of Us: Left Behind
02/07/14 – The Lego Movie
01/14/14 – Lego: Lord of the Rings
01/08/14 – American Hustle

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Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

by J.D. Cook

This article has a new home at www.comicsmoviesgames.com

Other Nutshell Game Reviews

02/15/14 – The Last of Us: Left Behind
02/07/14 – The Lego Movie
01/14/14 – Lego: Lord of the Rings
01/08/14 – American Hustle
07/23/13 – Pacific Rim

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The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie

by: Oliver Layco

This article can be found at it’s new home on www.comicsmoviesgames.com

Other Nutshell Movie Reviews

01/07/14 – American Hustle
09/21/13 – Insidious: Chapter 2
08/20/13 – Hot Fuzz
08/19/13 – Shaun of the Dead
08/18/13 – Scott Pilgrim Vs the World

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