Category: Movie Articles
Some moviegoers are audibly annoyed by the horror film’s final scene. Director’s defense (spoiler alert).
Though the faux-umentary horror flick “The Last Exorcism” raked in a healthy $21 million this past weekend — landing it a hair’s breadth from winning the weekend box office — the movie seems to have royally ticked off a lot of viewers.
“Exorcism” got a strong start on Friday, but apparent toxic word of mouth led to a striking 24% drop in ticket sales by Saturday night. According to the market research firm CinemaScore, audience members gave the “The Last Exorcism” a D.
So what was the problem? Perhaps it’s the film’s jarringly abrupt ending. John Young from EW.com reported that when he saw “Exorcism,” the audience was audibly annoyed when the credits rolled, shouting profanities at the screen.
So what was it about the ending that ticked off so many people? WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS COMING.
The film centers on Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a jaded preacher who does one last exorcism for a documentary crew. The victim, Nell Sweetzer (a very limber Ashley Bell), is either actually possessed by the devil or is suffering from profound psychological issues, which, judging from her rough, remote, and rigid upbringing, wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to believe.
“Exorcism” starts to get weird during the last ten minutes when Marcus and the documentary crew returns to the Sweetzer farm unannounced. They stumble onto a sort of bizarre ceremony before a massive bonfire. It turns out that the seemingly pious Pastor Manley (Tom Bentley) is actually a Satanist. Laying in front of the congregation, Nell gives birth to a red, spikey demonic creature that the Pastor immediately pitches into the fire.
As Cotton walks towards the fire with cross in hand, the camera crew is discovered. While the producer gets axed, the cameraman, with the camera still rolling, sprints into the woods. Soon enough, however, Nell’s brother and fellow Satanist, Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones) catches and beheads him. The end.
The “Rosemary’s Baby” meets “Blair Witch” ending was so out of left field that a lot of audience members felt blindsided. Many felt that dramatic tension centering on whether Nell was possessed or just crazy imploded in the film’s final ten minutes in a shaky-cam jumble of blood and pentagrams.
“Ultimately it’s not clear what the movie wants to say about the way religious thinking makes people easy prey for hucksters and scam artists,” writes Eugene Novikov of Cinmatical. “I’m also not sure the movie ultimately makes sense.”
But where some saw muddled confusion, others saw admirable ambiguity. “The last thing ‘The Last Exorcism’ needed was a tacked-on denouement that tidied up the plot,” wrote John Young of EW.com. “I left a satisfied customer.”
The director, Daniel Stamm, is unapologetic about the untidiness of his film’s final minutes. “People found the ending too abrupt, but you can’t tie the story up neatly if your photographer is killed. If you and I walked into a devil worshiper mass, we wouldn’t know what was going on. We wouldn’t understand where to point the camera, and who the big boss is. We would never understand it. That to me is the meaning of the ending.”
Related Link: The Last Exorcism on Movies Central
Leonardo DiCaprio calls filming a scene for the thriller in the middle of a blizzard “insane.”
“You periodically felt like you were a part of something truly insane, but it was all in a day’s work,” Leonardo DiCaprio told me during a junket for the movie “Inception.” Even if that day’s work includes shooting on a mountain in the middle of a blizzard.
Based on an original script by director Christopher Nolan, “Inception” is a film that defies easy sound-bite descriptions. Its Russian nesting doll-like structure of a dream enclosed within a dream enclosed within another dream virtually demands multiple viewings. Think Philip K. Dick meets “The Italian Job.”
Nolan’s previous silver screen venture was a little movie called “The Dark Knight” — the highest grossing non-James Cameron movie in American history. So for this go-around, the director’s vast, ambitious vision seems to have been utterly unfettered by financial constraints. And it shows.
“Inception” was shot in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Morocco, London, Paris and the Canadian Rockies. It features shots of the French capital folding in on itself M.C. Escher-style, a zero-G fist fight, and a freight train blasting through the streets of downtown Los Angeles. And in one sequence, Leo and the gang stage a raid on a snow-bound Alpine fortress — the aforementioned shoot in the blizzard.
Leo describes an exchange he had with an assistant director during production. “When we started shooting one of the ADs said, ‘Before you get to lunch we want to do some of the avalanche shots.’ ‘OK, how is that going to happen?’ ‘We’re going to blow up a couple mountains and we’re going to start a couple of avalanches and you’re going to get in there and be a part of it and then we’ll take you to lunch.’ And this is kind of what you expect on a Chris Nolan set.”
Co-star Ellen Page agreed. “It was definitely the most extreme environment I’ve ever filmed in.”
And if you thought that cast worked hard, try the production crew. That fortress had to be constructed out of wood and plaster — carried straight up the mountain — without the use of normal construction equipment. It was so cold up there that paint froze on the brush.
For a summer movie season that has proved to be easily the lamest in recent memory, filled with tepid adaptations and tired ’80s retreads, Christopher Nolan’s brand of cinematic insanity might just be what the doctor ordered.
Air, Water, Earth, Fire. Four nations tied by destiny when the Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others. A century has passed with no hope in sight to change the path of this destruction. Caught between combat and courage, Aang discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. Aang teams with Katara, a Waterbender, and her brother Sokka to restore balance.
Starting in 2005, Nickelodeon began airing an original animated series called “Avatar: The Last Airbenderâ€ from co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The show struck a chord with a wide range of viewers. Soon, “Avatar’ fever had spread to become an international phenomenon (the show now airs in more than 120 countries). It soon came to the attention of one of Hollywood’s best storytellers—M. Night Shyamalan. The double-Oscar-nominated filmmaker comments, “Avatar: The Last Airbender’ fell into my lap. It hit me like an epiphany.”
Shyamalan’s daughters had fallen in love with the series, particularly the character of the young female waterbender Katara. Intrigued by their unprecedented fan loyalty, Shyamalan decided to watch the television show alongside them, and then he too was hooked.
Clearly, there was cinematic potential in the series. Yet to adapt the 30-some hours of stories into a feature film would not be a task without significant challenge— including the filmmaker’s entry into a genre he had yet to explore in his previous work. “I knew from the moment I put the first words on the page, that to do a movie of this complexity, you have to put work into it. Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who created the ˜Avatar’ series, spent six years constructing the mythology.
“It has been a real eye-opener and interesting learning curve for me to do something of this scale, while still wanting to maintain a level of perfection,’ continues Shyamalan. “I was scared to death every day of shooting, as it could be so overwhelming, and there were so many unknowns. This movie is two-and-a-half times bigger than anything I have ever done.”
Since the filmmakers of “The Last Airbenderâ€ are devoted fans of the original series, they have one ultimate goal that they hope to achieve. “We want to create a film that will not only live up to the fans’ expectations, but also expand it to a worldwide audience in ways that only a full length live-action motion picture can offer,” says Shyamalan.
“Avatarâ€ creators DiMartino and Konietzko were extremely helpful with the development of the screenplay for Shyamalan, helping to scale down the many stories to feature film size. “I can’t tell you how comforting it was to have them only a phone call or email away when I got in a jam. Their â€˜Avatar’ mythology is so well thought out that they had an answer and a back story for all my questions.”
Shyamalan had toyed with the idea of doing a franchise type of movie for many years, but never connected with any material. But “The Last Airbender” seemed to have all of the elements that fascinated the filmmaker since he was young, when he first saw “Star Warsâ€—epic fantasy, fueled by an inherent spirituality, and featuring martial arts at its core.
Says producer Frank Marshall, who collaborated with Shyamalan previously on “The Sixth Senseâ’ and “Signs,” “Night has such a signature filmmaking style and a unique way of telling a story. He has the ability to touch an audience in a way that is very broad. In this film he is expanding his talent and range, which is an incredibly exciting prospect.”
Adds producer Sam Mercer, “Night had been interested in and offered other franchise pictures before in his career, but until â€˜The Last Airbender,’ he did not find one that he could make his own—organically, from the first words he put on the page.”
Related Link: The Last Airbender Movie Full Production Notes
“Iron Man 2” that Hollywood hopes will start a lucrative summer movie on Friday, but many American critics feel the long-awaited sequel does not have the punch of its predecessor-super hero.
Actor Robert Downey Jr. dons the costume of high technology once again to fight against the nature of evil that has contributed to “Iron Man” to earn $ 585 million in worldwide box office in 2008. Most critics agreed that Downey Jr’s performance as a selfish billionaire Tony Stark has helped to overcome the shortcomings of bigger, more noisy film is pretty good but not better than the original.
“This is the jumble Downey talent that adds grace notes that do something Iron Man 2” remember, “said Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. The film, which opened a week ago outside a high of $ 100.2 million at the box office, obtained a rate of 64 per cent approval rating on rottentomatoes.com film aggregator.
Hollywood Reporter reviewer Kirk Honeycutt said the element of fun that made the 2008 original so terrible had gone into its second output. “In its place,” Iron Man 2 “has replaced the noise, confusion, many villains, stunts and stories unimportant wrong,” said Honeycutt.
Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan echoed a widespread view when he commented, “As suites go, it is acceptable, nothing more, nothing less.”
But Bill Goodykoontz Arizona Republic turned into a much more gentle, giving the film three and half stars out of 5 and to call it, “Bigger, more and more stupid than its predecessor,” Iron Man 2 “is still a lot of fun.”
While Tom Long to the Detroit News estimated there are too many new characters, crossing the lines of history, not romantic enough, he said, “Who cares?” Iron Man 2 ‘still rocks.”
Yet for many films promoted action primarily young, male audience, rarely mentioned, and the film is considered raking in the cash over the weekend to come.
“Iron Man 2” is expected to more than 120 million dollars during the opening in the U.S. and Canada this weekend. He launched four months of movies featuring some of the summer’s biggest stars of the industry that Hollywood studios hope to make $ 4 billion at the box office in North America.
Nelated Link: Iron Man 2 Movie Full Production Notes
There was another photo finish at the weekend boxoffice, as a leggy holdover again appeared to outpace a big wide-opener.
DreamWorks Animation’s leggy How to Train Your Dragon fetched an estimated $20 million to top preliminary domestic rankings. The Paramount-distributed 3D adventure piled cumulative coin to $158.6 million through four sessions.
Just a hair off the leader’s pace, Kick-Ass — a relatively inexpensive pickup for Lionsgate — posted a weekend opening less potent than its name yet hardly a kick in the pants for the minimajor. The well-reviewed romp about a band of not-very-super superheroes rung up $19.8 million, landing on the lower end of pre-release expectations.
The No. 1 and 2 positions could change Monday, depending on final data from distributors. Another wide-opener — Sony Screen Gem’s R-rated comedy Death at a Funeral,” with Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence — settled for fourth place with $17 million.
More positively, Fox’s PG-13 comedy Date Night starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey, used a tiny 31% drop from its week-earlier bow to ring up $17.3 million and grab third place in its sophomore session, and a $49.2 million cume. Warner Bros.’ 3D action fantasy Clash of the Titans — which overtook Date Night for No. 1 in the prior weekend’s race to the wire — finished fifth in its third frame with $15.8 million and a $133 million cume.