As we enter the second weekend of February, the many horrors of last month’s release schedule now seem little more than a distant memory. This week sees three major movies hitting theaters, each for very different audiences. No doubt Hollywood is hoping that such a diverse selection will bring more people to the cinemas than last week, when the box office results were pretty feeble for everyone.
Fifty Shades Darker
After some intense contract renegotiation, a somewhat embarrassed Fifty Shades cast dragged themselves back to film a sequel to the 2014 smash-hit. Although merely mentioning the series will often trigger eye rolls and nervous giggles in equal measure, it’s important to remember that this sequel earned its right to exist in a very literal way. The first movie did, after all was said and done, make over $570 million worldwide.
And so, here we return to the kinky antics of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, as their unstable romance continues. And other things continue too, which we probably shouldn’t go into detail about here. Early reviews have been negative for Fifty Shades Darker, even more so than they were for the original, and the film is tracking to perform weaker at the box office as well.
Whether the film hits or not, a sequel to round out the trilogy is on its way regardless. An adaptation of the third book in the series, Fifty Shades Freed, was filmed back-to-back with this movie, likely because the two leads wanted to be done with the franchise as quickly as possible. The final movie is headed for a release in February of next year.
The LEGO Batman Movie
After The LEGO Movie turned out to be not only surprisingly successful, but also shockingly good, a world of brick-themed films were suddenly sent into production. Rather than jump into a direct sequel, which won’t be seen until 2019, Warner Animation instead plucked the film’s breakout character for his very own spin-off.
Indeed, Will Arnett’s highly effective voice performance as the caped crusader was an instant favourite, and he takes center stage in this movie which has quickly become the most well-received DC Comics adaptation since 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. The entirety of Batman’s iconic supporting cast is present for this wacky adventure, including Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Robin (Michael Cera) and Batgirl (Rosario Dawson). The team is united for the latest cinematic face-off between Batman and The Joker, voiced here by The Hangover‘s Zach Galifianakis.
Most critics are agreed that director Chris McKay has delivered a follow-up which holds its own against the LEGO brand’s impressive 2014 cinematic debut.
Pick of the Week: John Wick 2
While The LEGO Batman Movie is a fine pick for your cinema outing this week, our personal choice is John Wick 2. Actor Keanu Reeves has hit a rough patch of his career recently, and often that can lead to his projects coming out well under the radar. That was not the case for his first outing as John Wick however, the film about a wronged retired hitman broke out for its stylish look, and well-directed action sequences.
Upon hearing news of a sequel, we were apprehensive at first; history has taught us that many follow-ups fail to measure up to their predecessors, and we couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be the case here. Fortunately though, our fears seem to have been unfounded as early reviews have been very positive indeed.
The film is our pick of the week not only due to the high praise it has received, but also due to the distinct fear that John Wick 2 may not get the attention it deserves. R-Rated action films can be non-starters at the box office in many cases, at least when they don’t star a Marvel Comics mutant in the lead, and Reeves is hardly a box office draw at this point in his career as already mentioned.
The production budget seems to be greater for the second installment of Wick’s story, while the advertising budget apparently had room for a $5 million Super Bowl spot, but we hope that not too much cash has been splashed on this action offering. Similar movies which have proved successful in the past have gone for a ‘less is more’ approach in terms of spending, but maybe John Wick 2 can be the little engine that could.
After all, if the Resident Evil movies can make it to six entries, then surely John Wick can make it to half that number?
What are you seeing this week?