Limitless

Universal Pictures

This weekend, Luc Besson’s Lucy topped the box office with more success than expected. You might say that the film performed above its potential. Coincidentally, the film is about a woman (Scarlett Johansson) who, through an unexpected side effect of being a drug mule, was able to access the full potential of her brain. This led her to various super powers, including being a genius in mathematical calculations, having the ability to diagnose medical conditions by hugging someone and controlling radio waves with her mind. The film rests on the belief that human beings only use about 10 percent of their brain’s full potential, and the drugs that leaked into Lucy’s system helped unlock the other 90 percent. It’s not the first time this theory has been brought to the silver screen. Bradley Cooper got similar powers in the 2011 film Limitless. Both the 90s cheese-fest The Lawnmower Man and the more down-to-earth 70s drama Charley feature similar ideas. Even the character of Sherlock Holmes, seen in everything from classic Basil Rathbone films to Benedict Cumberbatch and his “mind palace” in the BBC’s Sherlock, have found a way to access seemingly limitless and unnatural brain power. This got me thinking. We might never be able to look like Scarlett Johansson or Bradley Cooper, but could we think like their characters on screen? What extraordinary things could we achieve if we tapped into our brains’ “full potential”?

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moviesontv

The movie industry has become something of a whipping boy in recent years. Not only have we seen a tidal wave of articles arguing that TV has become the new place to go for real, important art in the wake of high-minded and beloved series like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, but there has also been a ton of sentiment spreading that that movie industry is just plain out of ideas. In addition to the ridiculous amount of sequels and reboots that have filled up the Hollywood release schedule, there have also been a noticeable amount of TV shows that have been turned into feature films recently. Whether this is just an attempt to market consumers something that has a title they’re familiar with or is an admission that TV is the only medium still coming up with good ideas is arguable, but the trend is undeniable. Starting sometime in the 90s and lasting all the way to today we’ve seen an avalanche of old TV shows becoming new movies—The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch, Starsky & Hutch, Mission: Impossible, Charlie’s Angels, Miami Vice, The A-Team, The Man From UNCLE—the list goes on and on. And that’s not taking into account TV shows that made the jump to the big screen without being re-imagined, like The X-Files, South Park, The Simpsons, Sex and the City, or Veronica Mars. A string of news reports from over the weekend makes it seem like this trend could possibly be […]

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John_Dies_At_The_End

Editor’s note: John Dies At The End is now playing in limited theatrical release, so let’s flash back exactly one year to look at Allison’s Sundance review, originally published on January 26, 2012. We all know what it means to be sauced, but John Dies At The End shows audiences what it means to be “on the sauce” – soy sauce that is, a hallucinogenic drug that not only messes with your mind, it messes with how you perceive time. This idea could be fun, but when you know one of your best friends meets his demise somewhere in that disjointed timeline (no spoilers there, as it’s revealed in the film’s title) this time manipulation becomes both stressful and confusing. While at a party, Dave (Chase Williamson) gets into a conversation with a reggae “magician” (Tai Bennett) who Dave doesn’t believe can do real magic. But when Robert Marley (the magician’s name, of course) is able to recount, in vivid detail, a dream Dave had the night before, he gets Dave’s attention. Later that night Dave gets a call from his best friend, a panicked and confused-sounding John (Rob Mayes), who thinks he has called Dave a bunch of times already that night and needs him to come over right away.

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This Week in DVD

I just returned from vacation this afternoon, and yes, I did have a great time. Thanks for asking. I spent most of my days (and some of my nights) outside but still found time to check out this week’s DVD releases to help you determine which ones are worth owning, watching, and avoiding. This weeks titles include Limitless, Peep World, Take Me Home Tonight, Small Town Murder Songs, two TV series from the UK, and more! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Torchwood: The Complete Original UK Series A ragtag group of Brits and their American leader collect and use alien technology to stem the tide of intergalactic ne’re-do-wells. This UK series is a spirited blend of X-Files and Primeval in more ways than one, and as a sucker for both of those series I quickly became a fan of this one. It’s kind of a spinoff from Dr. Who, but that knowledge isn’t necessary to enjoy the action, stories, and fun exuding from many of these episodes. I only discovered the connection after watching the show and then reading up on the Captain Jack character via Wikipedia… something I don’t recommend until you finish the series for fear of spoilers.

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If you love video games and hate David O. Russell, then boy do I have some good news for you. You might have to help me on this one, I don’t really know video games, and I’m not sure what “Uncharted” is all about. But it was my understanding from being around a lot of movie buzz that fans weren’t too happy with Mark Wahlberg starring as Uncharted’s protagonist Nathan Drake. And I also heard some rumblings that O. Russell was taking the property in his own direction and not paying much heed to the source material. While that might have made a good movie, it wouldn’t have done much for video game fans. They need not worry though, because O. Russell is out, Limitless director Neil Burger is in, and it looks like this entire video game to movie adaptation process is starting over.

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The Reject Report

Imagine a quiet, two-story house on a dark small-town street. Inside, a group of teens prepare to watch a movie, something scary, something hi-def. They have wealthy parents. As they drink their respective beverages and the FBI warning sits on the screen unobserved, the phone rings. One of the teens answers. On the other end, a high shriek emits, a shriek the other teens hear coming from outside. They go to the window to look, and flying through the air, headed straight for them, is a tropical bird. It has recently been launched from a giant slingshot jutting up out of the front yard. The bird’s target has been set. The teenagers are unsuspecting. Some of them might die this night. They scream, and thus begins this week’s Reject Report, Rio vs. Scream 4.

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The Reject Report

It was really the battle of the two evils this weekend. Unfunny CG Russell Brand vs. Unfunny Russell Brand in a suit. The kids won out, and Hop was able to pull into the #1 spot for the second weekend in a row. Its drop wasn’t all that insignificant, about what was to be expected with there being no counter-programming for family entertainment. I guess kids just don’t have much interest in Helen Mirren these days. Hop was, however, able to pull ahead of its reported $63-million budget with its second weekend take and shed a glimmer of hope for those wanting more adventures starring the Easter Bunny. We can all pray for the best there.

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The Reject Report

Ah, remember Dudley Moore and how funny he was in Arthur with the top hat and the bubbles and slurred speech? What’s that? You know the name, but you’re both under 30 and can’t stand the classics? Warner Brothers is hoping for that, too, as they’ve now remade the film starring Russell Brand. Now they’re hopes rest on it returning an Arthur-sized fortune. That could be very well what happens here, and Brand will probably have his name splashed all over the #1 and #2 movies this weekend. He’ll have some competition from some pothead knights, a pair of adolescents. One is an assassin. The other is a surfer. The surfer might not be much competition, but that pairing would make one hell of a buddy movie.

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The Reject Report

It ain’t Easter, right? It ain’t Easter. It ain’t white rabbit day. Don’t tell Universal that. They’re looking to bring in the golden egg with the seasonal Hop, and there’s a very good chance of that happening. Duncan Jones’s second film, Source Code, and the new horror film from the guys who brought us Saw – thanks, guys to be named later – may have something to say about that, but whatever that is will probably fall on deaf bunny ears. See what I did there? Well, see some more this week with the Reject Report the hollow chocolate bunny edition.

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The Reject Report

You have to wonder if Warner Brothers is getting a little nervous about Zack Snyder taking on the Superman franchise next. Not only was his latest film, Sucker Punch, trounced by critics, its “sure-fire” walk to the #1 spot in this weekend’s box office was done away with. It wasn’t the latest blockbuster that beat the sci-fi, action movie out. It wasn’t even a comedy vehicle for someone like Adam Sandler. It was the second film in what is sure to be a lucrative franchise for Fox, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid sequel. Sure, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules beat Sucker Punch for the coveted #1 spot. You have to wonder, though, how much of this was the result of Wimpy Kid being such a strong film and how much was the result of Snyder’s latest getting all kinds of poor word of mouth. Diary of a Wimpy Kid opened pretty much in line with expectations, slightly higher than its 2010 predecessor but nowhere near eye-opening. It didn’t even crack $25 million. On the other hand, Sucker Punch performed much poorer than expected. That $30-35-million estimate for the film seemed possible after its $8-million opening Friday. Then its numbers dropped liked a defective blimp. $6.7 million on Saturday and and estimated $4.2 million on Sunday. Likewise, Wimpy Kid’s $7.3 million on Friday rose to over $10 million on Saturday. In fact, Sucker Punch was the only film in release this weekend whose Saturday numbers were poorer than […]

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The Reject Report

Red punch. Green punch. Chilled punch. Spiked punch. We’re big big fans of all kinds of punch here at the Reject Report. We also really like suckers. Just in case anyone out there is in the mood to send us a package of goodies. Sucker Punch, on the other hand, we’re not so sure about. It’s already getting a “love or hate” stench about it, but how that results in box office dollars is another matter entirely. It’s sure to be #1 this weekend, but by how much will take a bit of analysis. Check out how we see it and the other films playing out this weekend. And a preemptive thanks for all the punch and suckers you’re all going to send.

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The Reject Report

Unless that man went from Midnight Meat Train to The Hangover to The A-Team to Limitless. Quite a career Bradley Cooper is making for himself, one that keeps coming with the hits this weekend with the #1 film Limitless. I’m sure there was more at work behind the film’s opening weekend numbers. Robert De Niro might have something to say about anyone claiming Cooper was the sole reason for its success. Neil Burger, too. Regardless of what did it, the film got pushed into the top spot. Limitless didn’t exactly break any kind of bank here. It’s still a long way down on the list of Cooper’s biggest openings, but for a film that only cost a reported $27 million, didn’t have any brand recognition behind it, and wasn’t exactly flashing ad space every five feet, it performed reasonably well.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr starts a new regimen of drugs that comes in a clear little pill. The guy on the street corner told him that it would unlock the full potential of his mind, and he assured Kevin it was FDA approved. Why would this guy lie to him? While waiting for the drugs to kick in, Kevin decided to take a trip across the American southwest and search for skinny little aliens with fat man voices. He knows he’s safe, even if he’s picked up by the cops, because he’s retained a dead-sexy lawyer who runs his practice out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car.

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movie, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a foul-mouthed alien, proof that taking pills making you better, Matthew McConaughey refusing to leave his vehicle to practice law, and a schlubby wrestling coach.

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The Reject Report

You can blame South by Southwest for that, too. While we’re getting loads of cinematic gold thrust upon our senses and very little sleep, the rest of the movie world is still spinning. It’s time to take a gander at how everything looks to be playing out at the box office this weekend, but in a capsule form. The new films are Paul, Limitless, and The Lincoln Lawyer. None of them look to make much of a statement with how well they’ll play at this weekend’s box office, but none of them look to bomb, either. The big winner is likely to be Battle: Los Angeles once again despite the lack of love it’s getting from critics. Audiences want big action. They want it loud, and Battle: Los Angeles definitely delivers both. Character studies don’t make bank unless the word King or the word Speech is in their title. Just ask Michael Bay through his gold, diamond-encrusted cell phone how well big, dumb action sells to the masses. He’ll have a story or two to tell.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them. Strange, we know. How will you know what to watch this month? Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of February drinking tiger’s blood, wandering the Oscar red carpet, and copying by hand every copy of Below The Line in order to keep you informed about what’s coming out in March. You watch movies, so this guide’s for you.

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With any luck, the Holistic Healing League (which I just made up) will be boycotting Limitless in no time. The idea is shockingly simple – a man starts taking a pill that opens up the rest of his mental faculties to his use. He’s a medicated genius, and he uses that genius for personal gain. Then, Robert De Niro gets pissed about it. The lesson here is that as long as drugs are FDA-approved, they’re totally kosher to take (unless De Niro gets mad at you, then you should stop immediately). So remember, kids, don’t do drugs except the ones your government tells you are A-Okay. Limitless stars De Niro, Bradley Cooper, and Abbie Cornish. It was directed by The Illusionist director Neil Burger, and it will see theaters March 18, 2011. Check out the even higher res version of the trailer at Apple.

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