Weekend Movies: Cheap Tricks

This weekend has caused me to write a series words that I never thought I’d string together in this specific order: The biggest release of this summer blockbuster weekend is the ‘World of Warcraft’ adaptation. That, folks, goes to show what kind of weekend we’re entering.

Hot on the tracks of last week’s fizzling #1 movie (‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’) comes an epic-scale blockbuster that won’t make it too hard for the weak Turtles to stay on top. ‘Warcraft‘ lands on 3,400 IMAX, 3D and 2D screens. Much like ‘Avatar’, the videogame adaptation tells the tale of two nations of sworn enemies who must band together to defeat a growing evil force. With Duncan Jones at the helm, I’m intrigued to see what he can do with a massive budget ($160 million), but let’s be honest, the trailers have been awful. With lackluster marketing, despite the fact that the movie’s already quite successful overseas, I get the feeling that ‘Warcraft’ will follow in the footsteps of Universal’s other recent domestic flop, ‘The Hunstman: Winter’s War’.

Two other wide releases take stage, both of which happen to be sequels to surprisingly successful predecessors.

Arriving on 3,343 screens is ‘The Conjuring 2‘, the direct follow-up to James Wan’s 2013 ‘The Conjuring‘. On a budget of $20 million, the original went on to earn $318 million worldwide. With double that budget, Warner Bros. hopes to double the revenue with the sequel. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return to their roles as a couple who investigate paranormal activity. This time, they head to London to help a single mother rid her home of ghastly beings that won’t leave her alone. I’ve yet to see the original ‘Conjuring’, but with the fans of the original equally loving the scary sequel, I’m determined to make a double-feature out of them this weekend.

In 2013, Summit found success with a movie that didn’t have ‘Twilight’ in the title. Made with a budget of $75 million, ‘Now You See Me‘ went on to gross $351.7 million worldwide. Naturally, the studio greenlit a sequel that takes the ensemble from the original and adds even more characters. ‘Now You See Me 2‘ (which I would have titled ‘Now You Don’t’) removes Isla Fisher from the cast, but retains Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. It also adds Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzy Caplan and Jay Chou. Two years have passed since the events of the first film and The Horsemen have been training ever since. In the middle of pulling off their latest heist, they’re foiled by a new group that’s out to expose and exploit them. What follows feels like a knock-off of an ‘Ocean’s’ movie – not just any ‘Ocean’s’ movie, but one of the sequels. It’s not wholly terrible, but it also fails to capture the fun and magic of the first.

Roadside Attractions is putting its latest drama on 16 screens this weekend. ‘Genius‘ tells the story of Max Perkins, editor of such noteworthy authors as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The cast includes Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Colin First and Dominic West.

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