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“Aquaman” is a Tidal Wave of Dumb Fun

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Much like Aquaman’s role in 2017’s Justice League, director James Wan is having too much fun trying to find a direction for Aquaman in his first movie. One moment he’s showing off a deliriously wondrous underwater city, the next he has our heroes scurring from armored bad guys on European rooftops. While his hunt for the perfect tone of Aquaman is a patchy one, he does choose the best segments of a pleasingly fast-paced fantasy epic.

While the film runs over 140 minutes, Wan makes sure not to waste our time. He knows we don’t need every spec of detail on the origins of Aquaman and Atlantis. We’re still going to get them but there’s no reason it can’t be diced up in a non-linear fashion, interspersed with great action and visuals. We start with the tale of an Atlantian princess (Nicole Kidman) that came to the surface world to bear her child of Arthur Curry. Fast-forward to present day where Arthur has evolved into a water-friendly and super-strong half-Atlantian played by Jason Mamoa, having as much charisma as he does muscles and tattoos. Later we’ll learn of his training but first a battle inside a submarine where Arthur takes out pirates as though he were at a bar brawl.

Wan takes care never to wink too hard with this material and treat it with an earnest commitment to the fantasy. Most of the film takes place underwater where the many underwater kingdoms are trying to set aside their differences to launch an assault on the surface world that has polluted their home. King Orm (Patrick Wilson) of Atlantis is hoping the other kingdoms will join him but he has a sinister plan as made evident by his Malfoy-inspired haircut. He knows that if the other kingdoms of odd mer-people and sea creatures can join him, he’ll be crowned ocean master, free to control all. Arthur has to stop him but he’s not too keen about ascending to the throne of a kingdom that attacked his mother. But when the lovely underwater princess Mera (Amber Heard) comes to ask for help and realizing his surface home is in danger, Arthur takes on the mission of uniting the underwater kingdoms and get into some brawls along the way. Mera can join too with her great powers of manipulating water to her bidding, adding or taking it away from other organisms.

The film is loaded with so many lavish set pieces but they each feel like different movies. Take Atlantis for example. When Arthur and Mera venture into the underwater metropolis, it’s a neon wonderland of vividly cool colors, structures inspired by sea life, and boasts a 1980s synth soundtrack. It’s quite the sight and the film gives us time to enjoy it. But when Arthur and Mera find themselves in the desert for treasure hunting, the cinematography and soundtrack shift to that of a bouncy adventure film. And the inevitable underwater battle climax is staged with the epic nature of Lord of the Rings. There’s so much going on in the shifting tones that there’s barely any time to mention Aquaman’s nemesis of Black Manta, played by an iron-faced Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Aquaman has all the makings of being a lame superhero film with its standard action-adventure story and a lot of easy gags the film could have had at the expense of the hero’s public image. Yet the film succeeds in being an entertaining enough superhero flick for all the little elements holding it up, from the spectacular special effects to the very strong casting that includes the likes of Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, and Julie Andrews. And much like last year’s Wonder Woman film, it’s a superhero story that stands on its own, never relying on Justice League Easter Eggs or shying away from the sillier aspects. When Jason Mamoa finally puts on the orange and green of the classic Aquaman outfit, he doesn’t make a dorky joke or comment on the color. He’s ingrained enough in the fantasy to make it believable and exciting when giant seahorses attack giant crabs.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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