Author Archives: Joe Webb

About Joe Webb

Rare commenter and even rarer poster. I don't know why they keep me around.

Review: Cars 3

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Cars 3 is the 2nd sequel no one asked for, coming 6 years after the 1st sequel no one asked for, which came 5 years after the original. If my numerology is correct that means we have Cars 4 to look 4ward (see what I did there) to in 2025. Now, when I say no one asked for it I’m being facetious of course. Clearly the Cars franchise has been the most ‘merchandise-able’ of all the Pixar films so if cranking out a new film every half dozen years sells another billion dollars in branded items then you’d have to be financially crazy NOT to do it.

Beyond the cynicism, however, this film already had another negative stacked against it: Cars 2. Or, rather, the majority critical and audience response to Cars 2. I personally enjoyed that film even more than the first (though it’s been a long time since I’ve seen either so that could have changed) but if you find yourself in the aforementioned majority let me put your mind at ease! As far as I can remember, Cars 3 makes absolutely no reference (not even a whiff) to anything that happened in Cars 2. In fact, I believe you don’t even have to see the original to enjoy this one. Certainly some of the jokes may get lost, but the flashbacks are spoonfed well enough that no prior knowledge is required.

Also, if you have had enough of Mater and/or Larry the Cable Guy you’ll be happy to know that his shtick and character are toned down (relatively speaking) for this film. He definitely has a presence here, but appears in very small doses at well spaced intervals.

When I first heard of Cars 3 my reaction was “Oh no.” Upon seeing the first trailer, however, my mood changed. I was a sucker for Days of Thunder and seeing the sparks fly while Lightning McQueen crashes on the track set my mind buzzing. Maybe it would end up being a grittier comeback story with some consequences that require sacrifice. The first few previews didn’t focus on the humor, and I warmed up to the idea of actually seeing this in the theater.

With those caveats out of the way I can now get to the review (thanks for sticking with me this far).

Cars 3 is absolutely unnecessary. That thought kept playing through my mind during the middle hour of the film. However the ending wraps up Lightning McQueen’s journey so well that I couldn’t help but feel glad that I saw it. I didn’t recognize the names of any of the writers or the director but even before knowing that this definitely felt like a “lesser” Pixar film.

The opening 15-20 minutes are exhilarating as we once again find Lightning McQueen on the racetrack. He’s still racking up plenty of wins and keeping it fun with his friends who always try to one-up each other with pranks on and off the track. It’s a lighthearted easy life until a newcomer – Jackson Storm – arrives on the scene and proceeds to blow away the competition with ease. Comments are made about McQueen’s age and one-by-one his old friends retire (some forcibly so) and get replaced with rookies in the model of sleek ‘next-gen’ racers like Jackson Storm.

The new cars are sleeker and more electronically connected than McQueen. They have a much higher top speed, more sophisticated training methods and know the optimal racing path for the conditions on every track. Lightning isn’t one to go down without a fight but when he finds himself the odd (and old) man out in his latest race he gets distracted and suffers an horrific crash that probably pushed the limits of the G rating. (I thought the fade-to-black here would have been a good place for title card)

Four months later McQueen is still recuperating in Radiator Springs and the question on everyone’s mind is “Will Lightning McQueen ever race again?” We are treated to some terrific flashbacks involving his old mentor Doc Hudson. Doc’s memory is a huge presence in this film and is much of the heart of this film while we witness Lightning’s journey mirroring the great Hudson Hornet’s story. The next hour, or so, is Lightning trying to find his way back to the racetrack for one more try to see if he’s still got the ‘stuff’ Doc said he had in the first movie.

This is where things begin to drag for a while. It’s not exactly boring, but even throwing a demolition derby in the middle of things didn’t quite liven it up to heart-pumping levels. That actually happens in the final 20 minutes of the film at Lightning’s make-it-or-break it race. A decision is made in the middle of that race that almost had me groaning but, as I said, it actually ends up coming full circle for Lightning McQueen and I think elevated the movie as a whole.

Outside of #95, the characters in this film go from mostly woefully under-developed (Storm, and a new sponsor “Mr.” Sterling) to afterthoughts (most of the original cast, some with different voices) to the almost fully-realized Cruz Ramirez. Cars 3 is really the Cruz & Lightning story for most of the runtime. Cruz is hired as a youthful trainer to get the old guy fit enough to compete with the youngsters. Their butting of heads recalls the Lightning McQueen of the original film but he has gotten a little wiser in his old age. And her exuberance is palpable enough to make their onscreen chemistry (non-romantic) believable.

Speaking of reality, the animation is phenomenal. The photo-realism of the racetracks and mountain scenery (a trip to the smoky mountains of the Carolinas was a real treat in 3-D) is unparalleled. Pixar continues to deliver the most amazing animated visual quality around.

PIXAR SHORTS: Lou, while cute and clever, feels like a lesser-short as well. An elementary-aged bully is terrorized by the items he (may have) lifted from other children. When reminded of how he was previously bullied he decides to turn over a new leaf and actually ends up enjoying it.

HAGEBOC 2016 – Week Three (or Two)

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HAGEBOC

Someone STILL needs to come up with a new logo

Juan – 6
Joe Webb – 6 (or 2)
James – 5 (or 3)
Nick – 4 (or 2)
Rob – 2
Jackrabbit Slim – 2
Marco – 1

HAGEBOC – December 2-4, 2016:

Predict the #1 film & gross of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within $500k earns 2 extra points.

BONUS

  1. Will Jackie’s per theater average come in ABOVE or BELOW Natalie Portman’s last opening weekend average (A Tale of Love & Darkness, $18,585)?

LOGO BONUS: Come up with a HAGEBOC 2016 logo. 1 point per entry per person (maximum of 1pt).

Answers are due on Thursday, December 1st by 11:59 pm blog time, except the logo which is due by Monday December 5th 12:00pm blog time.  Good luck!

HAGEBOC 2016 – Week Two

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HAGEBOC

Someone needs to come up with a new logo

Joe Webb – 4
Nick – 2
Juan – 0
Jackrabbit Slim – 0
James – 0
Marco – 0
Rob – 0

HAGEBOC – November 25-27, 2016:

What will Moana gross Fri-Sun? Closest wins 4 points, second closest 2 points. 2 bonus points for being within 500k.

BONUS

Guess the top 3 – in order – movies on Thanksgiving Day only. (1 point awarded for each correct answer)

Answers are due on Thursday, November 24th by 10:00 pm blog time.  Good luck!

Who Is Rey?

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star-wars-7-le-reveil-de-la-force-daisy-ridleyOne of the most talked about unanswered questions of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the identity of the young woman from Jakku – Rey. In previous interviews director J.J. Abrams has stated that last names were kept secret on purpose. Perhaps they were kept secret from the characters as well because if they had just introduced themselves as such (“Hi I’m Rey Skywalker.” “Hello there. Finn Calrissian at your service.”) a lot of suspense would have been removed and plot points would necessarily change. Having seen the film 3 times I think I have an idea about at least one of these newcomers (earlier I said I had cemented a theory, but it’s still malleable, not quite solid rock yet, all speculative).

SPOILERS, of course, TO FOLLOW Read the rest of this entry

AGEBOC – Where do we go from here?

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Congratulations to perennial winner Jackrabbit Slim!

Participation & excitement waned throughout this season, so I’d like to open up a dialogue below to find out what can (or should) be done to remedy this going forward. Thanks to everyone who played!

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Final Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 52.5

James – 44.5
Rob – 40
Joe – 25
Marco – 21.5
Juan – 16.5
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 FINALE September 4-6

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Slim’s victory has been a foregone conclusion for a while, but we’ve got to play until the end!

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Transporter something something…

2. A Walk In The Woods cast from the 80s, blah blah blah

Deadline is Thursday September 3rd 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 50.5

James – 40.5
Rob – 39
Joe – 25
Marco – 21.5
Juan – 16.5
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 August 28-30

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This game appears to be running on fumes at the moment. Time to give away more points!

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Major Action Star of the early aughts Owen Wilson (think Behind Enemy Lines, Shanghai Noon & Knights, I Spy, etc..) finally returns to the genre this week with No Escape. Will it exceed his previous comedy release Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’s paltry $17.1m on opening weekend (FSS only)?

2. Will Zac Efron’s latest effort land closer to his previous opening weekend (Neighbors at $49m) or the one before that (That Awkward Moment at $8.74m)?

The Mario Kart “Bullet Bill” Bonus:

Guess the weekend Box Office total of one or more of the following limited-ish releases:

-Memories of the Sword
-War Room
-Z is for Zachariah
-The Second Mother
-Turbo Kid

Closest guess on each movie gets 1 bonus point. If you are currently in the bottom 3 (Marco, Juan, Nick) take 2 bonus points for being the closest. No extras for being within a certain amount.

Deadline is Thursday August 27th 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 49.5

James – 33.5
Rob – 30
Joe – 24
Marco – 18.5
Juan – 16.5
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 August 21-23

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Slimdog Millionaire strikes again! Only 3 weekends left…

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Will Compton drop ABOVE or BELOW 57% in its 2nd weekend (compared to its 1st)?

2. Which movie will be #2?

Deadline is Thursday August 20th 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 45

James – 33.5
Rob – 30
Joe – 24
Juan – 16.5
Marco – 16
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 August 14-16

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James wins the week by having a less-sucky guess than the rest of us!

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Will Straight Outta Compton best F. Gary Gray’s highest opening weekend (currently Be Cool at $23,450,212 unadjusted)?

2. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feels like Kingsman (opened with $36,206,331) to me. After Sunday, which movie will have the higher opening weekend?

Deadline is Thursday August 13th 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 40

James – 32.5
Rob – 29
Joe – 21
Juan – 16.5
Marco – 16
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 August 7-9

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Slim extends his lead…blah, blah, blah

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Will Shaun The Sheep PLUS Dragon Ball Z (never seen A-Y): Resurrection of F (oh, there’s one of them) have a higher gross than Minions this weekend (Fri-Sun only)? YES or NO

2. Will the new Fantastic Four gross BELOW Fantastic Four (2005, $56,061,504), ABOVE Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($58,051,684) or BETWEEN the two opening weekends (unadjusted)?

Deadline is Thursday August 6th 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 39

James – 27.5
Rob – 26
Joe – 20.5
Juan – 16.5
Marco – 16
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 July 31-August 2

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Juan wins one week!

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Which limited-release movie will gross the most (Fri – Sun): Listen to Me Marlon, Best of Enemies, The End of the Tour, or A LEGO Brickumentary?

2. Which five-quel will outgross the original’s adjusted opening weekend (Fri – Sun) – Vacation vs. National Lampoon’s Vacation ($21,481,500 adjusted), Mission:Impossible – Rogue Nation vs. Mission: Impossible ($83,472,200 adjusted), both, or neither?

Deadline is Thursday July 30th 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 34

James – 27.5
Rob – 25.5
Joe – 18
Marco – 16
Juan – 16
Nick – 6.5

AGEBOC ’15 July 24-26

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Slim further extends his lead. This is quite the repeat of 2014

Predict the #1 film of the weekend.

The one who predicts closest to the total Friday to Sunday gross for the #1 film wins 4 points. Runner-up gains 2 points. Predicting within half a million earns 2 extra points.

Bonus Questions:

1. Which movie will be #2?

2. Which movie will have the better hold (lower percentage drop) in its 2nd weekend: Ant-Man or Trainwreck?

Deadline is Thursday July 23rd 11:59pm blog time

To find out the rules of the game, go to the main thread for AGEBOC 09.

Current Rankings:

Jackrabbit Slim – 33.5

James – 27
Rob – 25
Marco – 15.5
Joe – 15.5
Juan – 11.5
Nick – 6.5