Weekend Movies: Hollywood Needs to Step It Up

The future of the Galaxy is at risk of being upset by Michael Bay’s second waste of time this summer.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ will face stiff competition this weekend from the Bay-produced reboot of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘. Director Jonathan Liebesman (‘Battle: Los Angeles‘ and ‘Wrath of the Titans‘) helms this retelling of the comic book characters’ origins. Megan Fox leads the human cast as aspiring TV reporter April O’Neil, with Will Arnett as her flirtatious and trusty cameraman. When the villain leader of the Foot Clan, Shredder, learns of the Turtles’ existence, he sends out the Foot in droves to capture the “heroes in a half-shell.” April and sewer rat sensei Splinter are only collateral damage getting in the way of Shredder’s deadly plan for the Turtles. William Fichtner co-stars. Whoopi Goldberg has a pointless cameo, and Johnny Knoxville and Tony Shalhoub voice two of the CG mo-cap characters. With a bi-polar identity bouncing between silly childishness and violent adult action, enter this stinky sewer at your own risk.

The other big release of the weekend is the ‘Twister’ knock-off ‘Into the Storm‘. From the director of ‘Final Destination 5‘, the movie follows a group of storm chasers and a family of three whose paths cross when an unusual storm brings a never-before-seen set of wicked tornadoes through a small town in the Midwest. The first 30 minutes are nearly tornado-free, but the following 60 are filled with loud whirlwinds and massive CG destruction. This brainless, yet pretty fun (once the ‘nados strike), thriller stars Richard Armitage (‘The Hobbit’), Sarah Wayne Callies (‘The Walking Dead’) and a bunch of nameless familiar faces.

On a little more than 2,000 screens is the umpteenth installment of the ‘Step Up’ franchise. Despite being handed off from studio to studio, the dance series just keep going. Characters from several of the previous movies (but no Channing Tatum) show up for ‘Step Up All In‘ โ€“ which I would argue needs a punctuating colon between “Up” and “All.”

On just a few screens less than that is Disney’s new light-hearted drama with a correctly punctuated title, ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey‘. The hit-and-(mostly)-miss director of ‘The Cider House Rules’ and ‘Safe Haven’ brings to life a novel about a snooty chef who’s frazzled by a not-so-prestigious restaurant that opens on her turf. Does the devil wear Prada in this Spielberg and Oprah-produced feel-good film?

On the indie front is new seemingly original romantic comedy from the director of ‘Goon‘. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star in ‘What If‘, the charming tale of a brokenhearted guy and a desirable girl who instantly form a strong friendship. The only thing standing in the way of their perfect relationship is the girl’s boyfriend. If you have any interest in ‘What If’, be patient. It’s expected to expand pretty wide next weekend.

Finally, on 304 3D screens across the country is a James Cameron-produced documentary about James Cameron making a documentary. Is it egotistical if a filmmaker hires a documentary crew to document him making a documentary? See what it took for Cameron to make his 2005 deep-sea doc ‘Aliens of the Deep’ in ‘Deepsea Challenge 3D‘.


        • Drew

          Yes, it’s going to obliterate it.

          Very sad ๐Ÿ™

          I really believed that ‘Guardians’ would have much stronger legs.

          What is the deal, with zero films having any staying power, this summer?!

          • Drew

            “The IMAX screens (where I am) are still playing GotG and not TMNT, so that should help GotG.”

            No. Don’t try to pretend like that’s the statement you were making.

            You clearly believed that ‘TMNT’ was playing in IMAX, just not in your area.

            That’s the only reason that you would have said that the IMAX screens in your area are STILL playing ‘GotG’ and not ‘TMNT’.

          • Timcharger

            Drew, I guess my “hence” comment was an affront to you. I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention.

            I didn’t believe TMNT was playing in IMAX or not. I just knew what I saw for my area. I would probably guess that would be true nationwide, but I didn’t want to make that assumption. From my next post, it’s clear that I don’t know that there are “official” IMAX releases and rules to what is or isn’t an IMAX film.

            The comments I was responding to pertained to box office numbers. And my “hence” comment was to continue on that part of the discussion.

            (begin sarcasm)
            But you caught me. I was “pretending” to know more about TMNT’s IMAX distribution deal. Every grade schooler knows this info. I just had to cover up my lack of IMAX lineup knowledge.
            (end sarcasm)

        • Timcharger

          What makes a film a IMAX feature or not a IMAX feature?

          In the sense that 2.35 films are being shown on IMAX screens,
          so why can’t any film be shown on IMAX screens?

          Even if a studio has prearranged that the next 2?3? weeks, IMAX
          will schedule screenings for a film, if that film is a bomb and no
          one is watching it, can’t IMAX show a different film?

          (Maybe I need to post this in the Aspect Ratio debate column.)

          • I will answer this question here rather than clutter up the other thread.

            In order for a movie to play in an IMAX theater, it has to go through IMAX’s proprietary “DMR” process, which involves some tweaking with DNR and sharpening. DMR used to be very crude and looked quite terrible (all of the 35mm portions of The Dark Knight, for example), but it’s gotten better in recent years. IMAX also has its own proprietary sound format, so any movie that plays in an IMAX theater has to be specifically remixed for IMAX.

            The studios sign contracts with IMAX to book specific movies on specific dates. Most of those contracts are pretty firm. However, in the event that a movie turns out to be a big flop, or conversely to be a big hit, IMAX has been known to pressure the studios to change the terms of the contracts.

          • Timcharger

            Is the IMAX DMR process and the sound remixing done
            at the creative artist level? Meaning the director, the
            cinematographer, the sound creator, score/music creator,
            did the work to get the film into the IMAX format?

            Or is that work done at the IMAX level, meaning some IMAX
            intern pushes a computer button and it’s an automated

            And the IMAX sound format, that is inferior to Dolby Atmos?
            Atmos is mixed by the original sound design artists, right?
            So if I am watch a film in IMAX sound, instead of Atmos
            sound, I paid more for less?

          • Drew


            You certainly can’t simply definitively state that Atmos sound is better than IMAX. Each format has distinct strengths. If you’re an LFE-Head, IMAX is going to be more of your cup of tea. If you care more about pinpoint accuracy and superior imaging, while not caring about LFE, Atmos is better suited to you.

            The proprietary IMAX sound format consists of 5 channels upfront, plus stereo in the rear. I’m sure you know enough about Atmos that you’re aware of how it is implemented.

            Can one simply say that Atmos is better than IMAX? I believe that is a question that is too subjective for anyone to be right or wrong. It’s all about listener preference and what they prioritize in sound.

          • Timcharger

            Drew, I didn’t definitely state one was better than the other. I put questions marks on those comments.

            Thanks for sharing some of the differences between IMAX sound & Atmos.

            A theme to my questions was this distinction of which format is done by the filmmakers hands.

            I don’t care for the pinpoint accuracy of the sound in Atmos, if that sound decision is coming from a Dolby intern.

            And I don’t care for the boom, boom LFE, if some IMAX intern thinks it would be great to have this or that explosion be louder.

            I think the Atmos mix is done by (or consulted by) the creative team that put the film together.

            I was asking if that is also true of the IMAX re-mix.

          • Drew

            Tim, you were correct, initially. Atmos mixing is performed at the production level. The audio track that you hear in IMAX is more of an “upconversion”, so to speak. In that regard, I suppose it may be safe to say that Atmos is superior, overall.

          • William Henley

            Do realize that there are other large format screens other than IMAX, and they do show pretty much whatever there. They are becoming more popular because you can show whatever you want there without those stupid IMAX contracts, you can outfit the auditorium with whatever sound system you want (many are going ATMOS) and you don’t have to go through the trouble of alligning multiple projectors. You will notice that several movie trailers now say “playing in Imax and other large formats”. I expect this to become more common place as these competetors become more common place. I think IMAX really shot themselves in the foot by going digital – they had something unique, but now that they have gone digital, people are like “Well, we can just build any large screen, stick in a high lumen 4k projector, and not have to pay the IMAX licensing fees or deal with their contracts”.

            The thing you loose is the Imax DMR, which, I will admit, is pretty darn good, but many (most?) movies are shot digitally nowadays anyways, so it doesn’t matter like it did 10 years ago when they were still shooting on film.

            I do agree with Drew’s statement on sound – Imax has better LFE. Also, most of Imax’s speakers are behind the screen, so you are supposed to have pinpoint-sound of where something is on the screen. rather than surrounding you with sound like you would have in Atmos. Now this works great in a dome with a nature documentary or something, but IMHO it does not work so well for a flat screen at a retrofitted theater that is showing the movie at 2.35:1

            Actually, Drew, in the LieMax screens, are all five channels still behind the screen?

          • Drew


            I’ll concede that there are many other “premium large format” options.

            However, many of these options feature sound that is no better than the first digital auditoriums that you visited a decade ago.

            This is the primary reason that I continue to frequent both IMAX and “Lie-Max.”

          • Drew

            My home theatre features a better audio system than the ones used in some of the other “premium large format” options.

            Why am I going to pay extra for sound that I can match or exceed, at home?

          • William Henley

            I guess this depends on the theater. The LieMax auditoriums tend to be in AMCs and other theaters that have been around forever, so the upgrade there is huge. However, at the other large-format screens in my area, most of those are at buildings that have been built within the past 10 years (most within the past 5 – this is a rapidly growing area). The sound systems in these auditoriums is amazing! The one I usually go to has Atmos in their large-format screen. Also, that theater is $10 for a movie versus $17-$20 at the LieMax theaters, the other large format screens in the area are $13. So the savings here for the other large-format screeens versus IMAX is huge.

          • Drew

            As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t have a single retrofitted IMAX, in my area. I have several IMAX (Lie-Max) auditoriums, and they’ve all been designed and built from the ground, up. I’ve also told you, in the past, that some of these are positively glorious. They’re vastly superior to any of the other premium large format options, such as XD or RPX.

            I’m certain that XD doesn’t have any kind of proprietary audio system. It merely uses the same type of audio that you would find in other “regular” auditoriums. Does RPX offer any substantial audio upgrade?

            The Atmos options in my area (we have three, now) are not considered “premium large format”, as far as I know. (They are all brand new auditoriums, built specifically for Atmos, however). Although, admittedly, one of them does have a screen that compares to some of the smaller IMAX screens that I have seen.

          • William Henley

            I don’t have any RPX in my area, just XD, Xtreme, and CineCapri. CineCapri uses Atmos, and is a $10 admission

            XD theaters do have better audio, according to wikipedia, but exactly what those improvements are, I cannot say.

            I think Xtreme theaters were Rave’s large screen format, and those were bought out by Cinemark

          • Drew

            William, cinecapri is exclusive to a handful of theatres in Arizona and Texas, plus a single cinecapri in Colorado. It’s not one of the “premium large format” options that are mentioned in the trailers. It’s more of a privately owned specialty. I have something similar. A local theatre owner recently built a new cinema, and calls the Atmos auditorium the luxury suite. (It’s the very large screen Atmos option that I referred to, earlier).

            My point is, the other “PREMIUM LARGE FORMAT” options that are referenced in movie trailers are, for the most part, very disappointing. Your own cinecapri is skewing your viewpoint in favor of other large format options. However, you’re also admitting that the cinecapri is the only large format option that you favor, and you’re not impressed with the other ones.

            Keep this (and the fact that you don’t have any true 15/70 IMAX auditoriums, or any newly constructed digital IMAX auditoriums in your area) in mind, the next time you bash IMAX.

          • Drew

            No, it’s not a big difference. Almost all IMAX IS digital, now. There are many tremendous digital IMAX auditoriums that were originally 15/70. There are numerous digital IMAX auditoriums that were designed and built as digital IMAX, from the concept stage. Many of them feature screens much larger than your beloved cinecapri, and mind blowing sound, to boot. Don’t let your bad experiences with retrofitted auditoriums taint your opinion. Check back with me, the first time you visit an awesome 15/70 that is now digital, or when you visit a new digital IMAX that was designed and built as such.

  1. “Finally, on 304 3D screens across the country is a James Cameron-produced documentary about James Cameron making a documentary. Is it egotistical if a filmmaker hires a documentary crew to document him making a documentary? See what it took for Cameron to make his 2005 deep-sea doc โ€˜Aliens of the Deepโ€™ in โ€˜Deepsea Challenge 3Dโ€˜.”

    This is so funny ๐Ÿ™‚ Good one, Luke!

    Gotta say, though: ‘Chocolat’ by the hit and mostly miss director is also quite charming. Lovely film.

  2. Just how many times do we need to reinvent the wheel?
    TMNT animated and TMNT live action, the originals are stil the best.

    And another Twister movie – great. Disaster movies always sell but why the repetition?

    • Drew

      I’ve given specific details, in other threads. Feel free to pull them up. The information is probably contained within one of the Josh/Freak aspect ratio threads.

      In the interest of time, I’ll just give the fundamentals: 12′ screen, Sony 4K projector (recently upgraded), Bowers and Wilkins 11.2 channel (with width and height), Denon receiver and pre-amps, HSU Research dual 15″ subs.

  3. Timcharger

    Now I see ads that TMNT will have an IMAX release this week.

    Obviously, the screen is much bigger than my home theater.
    But I really wonder if this IMAX DMR and audio conversion
    really means I can do the same thing at home by toggling my
    edge enhancement settings up a couple notches, and set my
    subwoofer at 6 instead of 5.

  4. Timcharger

    But do you understand my point that something that wasn’t IMAX
    is soon afterwards now IMAX?

    With a few push of some computer buttons, it’s now an IMAX film!!!

    I think it’s a fair question to ask if the IMAX DMR process is more
    marketing than real improvement.

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