I thought I’d tweaked the designs of their rabbit forms, also trying to make it close to the show’s style as possible. Added a ladybug for Rapunzel. In the show, Lilly has a ladybug friend named Florence. So.... I guess Pascal’s a ladybug in this Au. 😅
Hope you like it!
Goodbye Christopher Robin interview.
…I just. wanna have a lawn growing absolutely wild-ish with buttercups and violets and dandelions, then in copses clumps of daisies and coneflowers and black-eyed susans and fleabanes and every wild aster imaginable. Stalks of sunflowers in every variety, as well as dahlias. Maybe some zinnias for something “tamer”. And pots of chamomile and other herbs and raised boxes of tomatoes and peppers and strawberries and other produce depending on the season, all surrounded by mums and marigolds of every color planted directly into the ground and allowed to grow wild.
you’re sleeping soundly.
then, suddenly, a loud bang wakes you and you sit up so quickly you get a head rush. there’s a primal fear boring in your stomach. you quietly and frantically search the night table for your glasses, with wide eyes and shallow breath. you’re not sure what to do, but before you have time to deliberate, two menacing and masked home intruders kick open your bedroom door and they draw their weapons. that’s right. firearms.
you don’t have a chance to get your wits about you before they’re holding their guns to your head, barking orders. ‘where is your wallet?!’ ‘where is your amazon tv remote?!!’ it’s a blur but you remember them angrily forcing you to enter your credit card number so you can stream peter rabbit two. they ridicule mercilessly you for not having your prime account already connected to your tv. you’re full of visceral fear. you type the information into your amazon tv with shaking hands.
their guns stay up right on your temples for the whole movie. you begin to cry, wondering if you will ever be able to see your family again. they sneer at you and your terror. be quiet or they’ll pull the triggers they say. they tell you that your whiny, ungrateful ass better laugh genuinely every time james corden says something funny. or you’re getting game ended on the spot. dont fuck with them.
this is how you died.
Congratulations, Sony, you just created my worst film of the year for what will possibly be the second year so far!
You see, if there’s anything Sony doesn’t know what to do nowadays, it’s that they don’t know how to make live-action family sequels. Case in point: I walked out of Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween after it bored me due to how cliche and uninteresting it was. Sony has proved this again with Peter Rabbit 2!
The movie starts off with the wedding of Bea and Thomas, which starts off promising and a little funny with the daydream sequence. But once we get to the main story, it just feels like nothing is happening, really. They also try to do three plots at once, the “Peter thinks he’s really bad plot”, the “book publishing” plot, and the “having children is more important” plot. This is all a mess, and they tend to favor the first and second plots as opposed to the third one, which almost has no relevance to the story. Oh, and the third trailer nearly spoiled the third act! And I mean nearly all of it: the kidnapping, saving the animals, and even the heist! And don’t get me started on the dumbest part of the plot: they actually had the balls to put in a twist villain, who is the other rabbit that Peter meets.
Peter seems to be the only character who actually goes through a change and learns something in the film. Bea and Thomas’ personalities are also uncharacteristically changed. I also couldn’t get into the group of animal thieves, especially the twist villain! But if there’s something I did like, it was the scenery and the animation, which is realistic and cute as always.
Overall, I would not recommend you watch this film this weekend. I would prefer if you watched Cruella, Spirit Untamed, or In the Heights. Don’t make the same mistake I did (even if I do have Regal Unlimited)...
One more thing, this made me yearn for actually good sequels that I enjoyed when I was younger, like the Chipmunks sequels (Ironically, a cover of a song they did as a bonus track for Chipwrecked plays as the end credits song in the film) and The Smurfs 2!
Peter Rabbit premiere
🇵🇷 Sketchbook drawings from the plane ride to San Juan, Puerto Rico ✏️
Peter Rabbit Two : The Runaway
Brought to you by M.M. Multimedia Outlet
June 10th, 2021
The Revenant premiere
Coming Soon Trailers: In the Heights, Peter Rabbit 2. Can a musical or a CGI rabbit break the streak of horror movies dominating the box office?
Can a musical or a CGI rabbit break the streak of horror movies dominating the box office? There’s a lot of possibility in the air this weekend. Musicals are going through a renaissance lately, and In the Heights has tremendous pedigree: an adaptation of a hit Broadway show, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a dazzling visual style from Crazy Rich Asians director John M. Chu. It may be…
View On WordPress
This is going to be a tough week to deliver a full column just because I’ve been so insanely busy doing other things for my real job. More on that below, but first, I totally screwed up last week. I totally left out a movie I had been looking forward to, without realizing it was released last Friday, since I didn’t have it on my release list. I ended up inadvertantly leaving it completely out of my column. Bad Ed. (This week's column is brought to you by Ian McNabb's new album "Utopian" -- a fantastic new extra-length offering from the former Icicle Works frontman -- that just means that I was listening to it while writing this week's column. No $$$ was exchanged.)
That movie I missed last week was UNDINE (IFC Films), the new film from German filmmaker Christian Petzold, who has made some fantastic films, including Phoenix and Barbara. It reunites Petzold with the stars of his last movie, Transit, Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski. It’s a fairly bizarre film that plays around with myths about water nymphs, but it takes some time before you realize that’s what it’s about since it follows Beer’s Undine, as one of her relationships ends and another begins with an underwater diver. After winning the FIPRESCI Prize and the Silver Bear for Ms. Beer at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, it’s now playing in select theaters, including the IFC Center and Film at LIncoln Center as well as on digital and VOD platforms.
The film starts with a conversation between a man and a woman, Undine and Johannes, the latter who is breaking up with the former. From there, we watch a rather strange relationship build between Undine and a diver who she meets when a fish tank explodes all over them in a coffee shop. Yeah, it’s one of those kinds of movies. But Undine is one of Petzold’s more romantic films even if it takes an artier and dreamlike approach to show this romance unfold, and then it just gets weirder and weirder and more enigmatic. Water is definitely a recurring theme in what I could only really call a female power fantasy, but you know what? We’ve seen so many male power fantasies, it’s kind of nice seeing this sort of thing from a female viewpoint, and Beer is quite amazing -- well worthy of the accolades she’s been receiving. Undine is a fine addition to Poltzold’s growing filmography, although it didn’t hit me quite like Phoenix did, and I’m not sure I’d race out to see it a second time.
Before we get to this week’s new wide releases, this week also begins the 20th Anniversary Tribeca Festival -- note the absence of the word "Film" -- which as luck would have it opens on Wednesday with the World Premiere of the biggest and widest release of the weekend, the Jon M. Chu-directed musical, IN THE HEIGHTS (Warner Bros.)! I really haven’t seen much from it yet, so I have very little to say at this time. Hopefully, I’ll have time to watch more over the next week and a half.
In case you haven’t heard, In the Heights is based on the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical that preceded Hamilton, and it focuses on the Washington Heights area of NYC, primarily the LatinX community that has lived and thrived there but is dealing with things like gentrification destroying it. The movie stars Anthony Ramos (from Hamilton and A Star is Born) playing Usnavy, a bodega shop owner who dreams of returning to the Dominican Republic and reopening his father’s snack bar. He also has eyes on the beautiful Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), who wants to move downtown and get into fashion. Meanwhile, Nina (Leslie Grace) has returned to the neighborhood from college and she reunites with her ex Benny (Corey Hawkins) and that relationship is rekindled. Nina’s father (Jimmy Smits) is a big shot in the neighborhood, running the car service, but he’s been selling it off to pay for Nina’s school.
I already reviewed the movie here, but reviews are generally great with 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and people have been chomping at the bit for this movie to be released after it was delayed nearly a year from 2020 due to COVID. Although Lin-Manuel Miranda only has a small role in the movie, he’s probably going to be the film’s biggest selling point, especially considering how many people watched Hamilton when it was released on Disney+ last summer -- that, too, was originally intended for a theatrical release.
For director Jon M. Chu, this is his first feature film since Crazy Rich Asians, which was a huge box office hit, but it also had a similar cultural impact of what is expected from In the Heights. It opened with $26.5 million in 3,384 theaters in August, 2018, but then it had massive legs over the course of the summer to gross $174.5 million total. While it didn’t end up getting the awards love many expected, it did help to make the likes of Constance Wu, Akwafina, and Henry Golding bigger stars, as well as boosting the careers of Gemma Chan, Jimmy O. Yang and other Asian-American actors. One can presume that In the Heights will do the same for Ramos and a few others, although it’s still too early to see if it will have legs when it’s so easy to rewatch on HBO Max.
The movie is one of the summer’s big buzz movies that should continue to bring people back to theaters with the positive reviews leading to inevitable positive word-of-mouth among a moviegoing audience that for a long time brought a ton of business into theaters.
I feel like In the Heights could make a play for $30 million this weekend even with the knowledge that it’s also playing on HBO Max. It just seems like a lot of people are going to want to see this in a theater with other people, and frankly, it’s been so hot outside, especially in New York, that it’s going to be a great option to see in theaters in order to get some much-needed air conditioning, if nothing else. But expect it to do well enough among audiences to have some significant legs, although I’m a little hesitant at calling it to make $100 million even with restrictions being reduced and more theaters opening every weekend. I’d love to see it happen but for now, I’ll stick with around $80 million for its domestic gross.
Also opening wide this week is the family sequel, PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY (Sony Pictures), which has also been delayed a number of times since COVID hit. Once again directed by Will Gluck (Easy A), the sequel had a plum Easter release last year or maybe that was this year. Honestly, I don’t remember. In the sequel, Beatrix Potter’s popular literary character Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) has to contend with the couple from the first movie, played by Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson, are getting married, and Peter’s feeling a bit put-out, because he’s considered the “troublemaker” among the bunny family of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Benjamin (voiced by Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Aimee Horne and Colin Moody). He ends up running away (duh) and getting in with a group of London animal crooks, including the rabbit Barnabas (voiced by Lennie James from Fear the Walking Dead), who may have been friends with Peter’s father.
I only first watched the first Peter Rabbit movie, originally released on February 9, 2018, earlier this week before watching the sequel, and honestly, that first movie was much better than I expected and better than it should have been, and I probably could say the same for the sequel. I generally love Rose Byrne, and oddly, I like James Corden voicing Peter Rabbit more than I have other things he’s done. Maybe it’s just that Beatrix Potter’s character works even when put into a modern setting where Byrne seems to be playing a version of Potter who ends up getting a big publishing deal with David Oyelowo (another actor I like) playing the publishing big wig who wants Bea to change things. It’s just as funny seeing Peter fighting with Gleeson’s McGregor for the film’s physical humor to help sustain a second movie.
Actually, I kind of liked that Gluck’s movie is kind of wholesome rarely going for the easy laughs or things we’ve seen in far too many animated movies (slow-motion and bathroom humor, for instance), and also having jokes that only the parents will laugh at. The film is also quite a technical marvel because mixing CG characters with live action ones is something that rarely turns out well (see Sony’s Smurfs movies, for instance) but CG production house Animal Logic, who also did Happy Feet and The LEGO Movie, really now how to give these furry, cuddly creatures real physical attributes that makes even cynical adults like myself completely believe in them.
Let’s get to some box office thoughts. The original Peter Rabbit movie opened with $25 million, which is pretty good for a family film from the before times. More importantly, it made $115 million in domestic theaters as it lasted through the summer, which shows that kids and families really loved Corden’s take on the popular children’s book character. Even though these are different times, and we are not seeing that many movies opening with more than $25 million, the success of the first movie means that kids will probably not be too old to want to see Peter Rabbit’s new adventures.
I think this one can probably open with $14 to 16 million when you realize there isn’t very much competition for family audiences, at least nothing PG, because even DIsney’s Raya and the Last Dragon is now on DIsney+. (Okay, there's also Spirit Untamed, but that proved to be quite a non-starter, and this seems like an easier sell to a wider group of kids and even adults.) That and the fact that Peter Rabbit 2 isn’t simultaneously on streaming should give it a strong play for second place this weekend, and don’t be surprised if it has similar legs to make $60 million plus just in theaters alone.
Also being released fairly wide is the Deon Taylor-directed horror comedy sequel, THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR: MEET THE BLACKS 2 (Lionsgate), which probably wasn’t screened for critics in advance. I’m not quite sure how wide Lionsgate is planning to go with this, but the original movie opened in over 1,000 theaters in April 2016 and made $4 million its opening weekend and $9 million total. One can assume that the first movie was popular enough to create an audience for the second movie that hasn’t really had what we used to call an “urban comedy” in quite some time, particularly since Paramount’s Coming 2 America ended up streaming on Amazon. Since audiences are generally trying to get back out to theaters, it’s safe to assume that the audience for this kind of comedy feels the same. I probably could see this opening with around $3 million, but it’s hard to say without having a definite theater count. I’ve become quite a big fan of Taylor in the years since the first movie, so I might even venture out to see this if I have the time.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Mark Wahlberg, the sci-fi action movie INFINITE (Paramount+) was supposed to get a theatrical release but is instead being dumped to Paramount+, and sadly, dumped is the operative word here, because it pains me to say that the duo behind Shooter and other cool movies I’ve enjoyed have made a very, very, very, very, very bad movie.
The fairly ridiculous premise -- which to be fair is based on a book called “The Reincarnationist Papers” by D. Eric Maikranz -- involves a cadre of people known as Infinites who can remember everything from their past lives. There are “good Infinites” called Believers, and “bad Infinites” called Nihilists who are sick of living through their pasts so they just want to make the whole world burn.
Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, a good “Infinite” even though he only remembers part of things from the past, and he’s thought to be the reincarnation of one of the Believers’ leaders named “Heinrich Treadway,” who we see die in a car chase through Mexico City in the film’s opening. Treadaway’s mortal enemy is Bathurst, played by Chiewetel Ejiofor, who wouldn’t mind finding and killing Treadaway first because he has an “Egg” with great power that can help end the world.
Okay, the premise could definitely be interesting, despite being an obvious Highlander rip-off, but unfortunately, it becomes very obvious that a movie like this constantly needs to explain to the viewer why this premise is “so cool,” and whenever anyone does try to explain anything, it just sounds incredibly stupid. We’ve seen so many sci-fi action movies like this one, and frankly, I was a little surprised that this one didn’t star Bruce Willis, because it definitely seemed like his thing. (Anyone remember Surrogates? That movie’s director, Jonathan Mostow, is STILL in directors’ jail!!) But more importantly, it reminds me of a much better version of the same idea that was just released, called The Old Guard, which … what the fuck?!? … also starred Chiwetel Ejiofor!! (At least in that one, he doesn't have a ridiculous accent and isn't chewing up every single bit of scenery.)
Yeah, it’s hard to forget that you’re watching an inferior version of The Old Guard when Ejiofor is RIGHT THERE, but this one combines a lame attempt at world-building with some surprisingly decent action scenes, but it’s also hard not to think that Fuqua -- and I say this as one of the director’s biggest fans -- was trying to do his own version of The Matrix. But any opportunity to do something cool in the action realm is destroyed as soon as we get more “splaining” about this world, a lot of it done by Jason Mantzoukas as the Artisan, a mad surgeon who also explains things in a confusing way that it never helps. He’s also the film’s only attempt at humor, and he’s done far better in other things. The film’s only real female character, Sophie Cookson’s Norah, is so bland and generic that you quickly forget what she’s bringing to the movie, if anything. (As you watch the movie, you realize how smart it was for Chris Evans to get out while the gettin' was good.)
By the time it gets to the final climax, we get a somewhat decent final battle on an airplane between Treadway and Bathurst, but by then it’s too late. We get some horrible narration before the movie ends with a set-up for a possible sequel will not make ANYONE (particularly critics) happy if that sequel does indeed happen.
Infinite makes it obvious that remembering one’s past lives could only be made much worse by having watched this movie in one of them. This is horrendously bad, awful crap.
A big release on the streaming series side of things is Marvel Studios’ LOKI (Disney+), the first episode of which is on the streamer now. I’ve actually seen the first two episodes and they’re interesting. Essentially, Loki has been captured by the Time Variance Authority (TVA), an organization that exists outside time and is charged with making sure that variant timelines and people aren’t created by things like Loki’s stunt in Avengers: Endgame where he got out of the Avengers’ grip using the tesseract, essentially changing his own timeline. I watched the first two episodes and thought they were pretty good but not the OMG THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER!!! that everything Marvel does seems to get from the rubes calling themselves “film critics.” I liked seeing Hiddleton returning as the characters, because he’s quite good as Loki, although Owen Wilson (as TVA agent Mobius) basically seems to be playing himself and not really doing anything particularly memorable. Because of that, Loki comes off as a buddy comedy with a lot of conversations between Loki and Owen Wilson, so if that’s your thing, then maybe you’ll like Loki, but maybe it’ll also get better over the next few episodes as WandaVision did. (I mean, one thing I can say as a positive is that the Marvel Studios/Disney+ series have been much more watchable than the Netflix/Marvel series, because I didn’t get through a single one of those.)
Chris Appelhans’ animated WISH DRAGON (Netflix) was originally going to be released by Sony Pictures since it was produced by Sony Pictures Animation as a Chinese co-production, but for whatever reason, it’s now going to be on Netflix. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet but hope to get to it soon.
Also now on Netflix is Mark Raso’s thriller AWAKE, starring Gina Rodriguez as Jill, a former soldier in a world that’s been hit by a catastrophe that wipes out all electronics and eliminates humanity’s ability to sleep. Jill realizes that her daughter may be the key to salvation but isn’t sure if she wants to sacrifice her to save the world. Again, another movie that I just couldn’t find the time to watch if I wanted to get my work done for Below the Line. (Things are very busy right now because Emmy nominations take place over the next couple weeks.)
Jessica Barden (The End of the F*** World) stars in Nicole Riegel’s indie drama, HOLLER (IFC FIlms), playing Ruth Avery, a young woman who sees her acceptance into college as a way to get out of her dreary Southern Ohio town. She decides to take a job on a dangerous scrap metal crew with her older brother (Gus Halper) while stealing metal at night in order to pay her way to college, and she finds herself torn between her future and her family. The movie also stars Pamela Adlon as their mother. After premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Holler will be released in theaters and digitally and On Demand this Friday.
I actually thought this one wasn’t bad even though it treads on rather familiar indie drama territory of wanting to get out of one’s town and get out into the world. Obviously, Barden’s presence is what really drives the film, because she is such a fantastic presence. I especially liked her in Jungleland, but this shows what she can do in a full-on leading role. While I wouldn’t urge anyone to race out to their local cinema to see Holler, it’s not a bad debut feature from Riegel, who built it out from a previous short, which feels somewhat obvious.
I was able to see Prano Bailey-Bond’s CENSOR (Magnet) at Sundance earlier this year and found it to be a nice creepy video nasty. It stars Niah Algar as Enid Barnes, a film censor who watches and rates horrible low-budget horror videos but who is also obsessed with finding her missing sister and seemingly finding a clue in a particularly strange horror film. Censor will hit theaters Friday and then be on digital on June 18, but I’ll have to watch it again to remember if I liked it for more than Niah Algar’s performance.
Starting on Friday up at Film at Lincoln Center is a special “Big Screen Summer: NYFF58 Redux” which is basically showcasing a bunch of movies from last year’s New York Film Festival, which was mainly held virtually, but now you can finally see many of them in the FilmLinc theaters, running from June 11 through August 26, and it includes things like Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe Anthology” (which haven’t been screened theatrically in New York other than at drive-ins). Click on the link above to see when any of your favorites or ones you missed will be screening.
I didn’t get a chance to watch Ty Roberts’ adaptation of Jim Dent’s novel, 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS (Sony Pictures Classics), but it opens in Texas this Friday and then nationwide on June 18. Starring Luke Wilson, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Wayne Knight and Vinessa Shaw, it tells the story of the Mighty Mites football team of Fort Worth, made up of orphans during the Great Depression who barely had shoes or football but with the help of legendary high school coach Rusty Russell (Wilson), gave up a lucrative position to teach and coach the orphanage team. Rusty developed strategies that would allow the scrawny team to beat much bigger players on the football field. I’ll probably try to write something more about this next week.
Some of the movies I just didn’t have time to write about include:
QUEEN OF SPADES (Dread) SUBLET (Greenwich) ASIA (Mnemsha Films) UPHEAVAL (Abramorama) THE MISFITS (Highland Film Group, The Avenue) QUEEN BEES (Gravitas Ventures)
Next week’s big release is another sequel, THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD (Lionsgate), but also Edgar Wright’s documentary, THE SPARKS BROTHERS (Focus Features), will be released after its festival run.