Lucy

20th Century Fox

Far too often, people tend to associate “big movie” with “bad movie.” If I was to wrangle up half a billion dollars for a film about cats that can ice dance, there’s no doubt you’d question my motives in doing so. It doesn’t matter if teaching cats to arabesque really is a hundred-million-dollar expenditure or if doing so would guarantee Two Meows on the Rink as the herald of a new golden age in cinema – with the term “blockbuster” comes phantom thoughts of brainless toy commercial cash-ins. It certainly doesn’t help that this year’ biggest movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, was indeed a brainless toy commercial cash-in. But in 2014, Transformers was the exception, not the rule. This was a year when we went to the movies not just to see things explode, but for movies that would challenge us, intellectually… with explosions. And I’m just talking about December, when everyone’s rushing to see a slew of potential Oscar winners, but during the summer — the portion of the year usually cordoned off for spandex, fireballs and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson challenging Sylvester Stallone to a sheet-metal eating contest. What follows are the 20 biggest worldwide box office earners of the year.

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2014review_performer

Lost In Translation wasn’t Scarlett Johansson‘s screen debut — she had brushed up against leading lady status with a few films beforehand — but it was the first time people took real notice of her ability to hold their attention through her performance. (The underwear scene helped too, but let’s stay on point here people.) The next decade saw her star in twenty one films of varying quality — from the highs of Her to the subterranean lows of The Spirit — across all manner of genres from comedy to drama to action to kids movies. 2014 saw her continue that trend by appearing in four films — four fairly disparate films — that not only earned a collective $1.25 billion worldwide but that also saw her flex a wide variety of muscles, both acting and otherwise. The roles vary in what they demand of her and what she delivers, and they show a performer at the top of her creative, risk-taking game in a way that very few others (male or female) matched this year. (Sorry, but while we love Chris Pratt in The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy they’re both basically just Andy Dwyer with different name badges.) There were better performances in 2014, but none of those other actors found anything close to the critical and commercial success Johansson achieved while moving so effortlessly from blockbuster to art film to supporting role and back again.

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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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summer_diaries_2

There’s no shortage of love for the way Marvel has crafted its Cinematic Universe, especially from yours truly. They’ve created an entire market for themselves by weaving nine — soon to be ten — movies together into an impressive spandex suit. From Iron Man in 2008 to this year’s unofficial summer kick-off movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, every Marvel movie is the next piece in a much larger puzzle. Like clockwork, we wait in darkened theaters through lengthy credits to get to the end, where a little tease usually awaits for what comes next. Each film is built with the next stage in mind. It’s a phenomenon not limited to Marvel, though. They simply seem to have perfected it. Warner Bros. is about to set off on a voyage to build its DC Comics universe. And Michael Bay this summer rebooted his entire franchise and took Transformers in a new direction. Every major summer tentpole film is now trying to hook you years in advance. Studios spend money on these movies specifically because they spawn franchises and propel stars who go on to lead other tentpole movies. They sell merch and home video copies and get endlessly streamed the minute they hit the web. The concept isn’t lost on any of us (more like it’s hammered in), especially this week following Comic-Con. We are reminded that these movies are made within the confines of a well-oiled business machine. With their formula, Marvel has your movie ticket money locked up probably […]

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The Bands Visit Movie

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Universal Pictures

The question of, “What would happen if we used more than ten percent of our brains?,” is one that has been posed before, but Lucy looks to answer it in a way that is both cerebral and action packed. Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is an American student living (and living it up) in Taiwan, but her entire world is turned upside down when a locked briefcase is handcuffed to her wrist and she finds herself in the middle of a ruthless drug ring. After meeting the elusive Mr. Jang (Choi Min-sik), Lucy finds out what is in the briefcase and what Mr. Jang would now like her to do with its contents. Forced to carry the drugs inside her (scenes that will have squeamish viewers turning away), a sudden physical altercation causes the bag of drugs (CPH4, to be exact) to burst and Lucy to go from unassuming drug mule to an emotionless walking superhuman. Set on understanding what is happening to her, Lucy sets out to find Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) who has spent twenty years trying to theorize what Lucy has experienced in twenty seconds.

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summermovieprediction_final

Welcome to the final week of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! We’ve been tallying points all summer long, and now it comes down to this. A strong man versus a smart woman. As a reminder, at the end of the contest — next Monday, July the 28th — the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles that were released throughout the summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). As we’ve already seen the score can shift noticeably week to week, and with one week left that means anyone within nine points of the top three spots still has a chance of winning. All of the still eligible players are listed below the break. Now let’s look at this past weekend’s results! Dawn of the Planet of the Apes held onto #1 bringing in another $36.3 million. That’s pretty much an exact 50% drop from opening weekend and a great hold for the critically acclaimed film. Our bonus question resulted in far fewer of you guessing right as Mood Indigo‘s per theater average ($13k) beat out both Wish I Was Here ($7k) and I Origins ($7k). Keep reading to see the new player rankings and the ten who are still in the game.

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The Guardians of the Galaxy

The summer season may not be the best time of year for film, but it’s usually the most exciting. 2014’s blockbusting period starts this coming Friday with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Unsurprisingly, that will be the first and last mention of the film on this list of our most anticipated summer movies. We polled the staff and tallied the votes to determine the ten summer movies we’re most excited about this year, and while some of the results are expected one or two surprises made (or missed) the list, too. Some of the films that came close to making the list but not close enough include the long-awaited adaptation The Giver, the animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, Disney’s Maleficent and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted follow-up A Million Ways to Die in the West. A title that not a single one us picked as one of most anticipated? Transformers: Age of Extinction. I mean seriously… someone even picked Sin City 2 over Michael Bay’s latest. Keep reading to see the ten films that we’re most looking forward to this summer.

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Lucy

Is “lower tummy” a precise medical term? I’m fairly certain it’s not. But then, I’m also fairly certain that a lower tummy full of super-drugs wouldn’t cause Scarlett Johansson to start using more than 10% of her brain, (mostly because the “we only use 10% of our brains” thing is just one of those urban brain myths). And even if it did, a faster brain probably wouldn’t give her the ability to stop time or magically switch from blonde to brunette. Ok, real talk is out of the way. Now for fun talk; as in, Lucy looks like a giant heap of it. Directed by Luc Besson, the film is more or less the exact same movie as Limitless, from a couple years back. Protagonist (Johansson vs. Bradley Cooper), is exposed to a miracle drug that unlocks the mythical 90% of our brains that’s just extra skull weight. Protagonist is soon on the run from various unsavory types, all of whom want to both destroy him/her and gain access to the sexy new designer drug that can make someone a polyglot genius kung-fu master.

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scarjo

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s mostly just an excuse to post a big picture of Scarlett Johansson. But it also has some news about Adam Sandler’s acting career that actually sounds promising. As if everyone didn’t love Scarlett Johansson enough, the sultry actress just had to go and kick things up a notch by kicking ass as the Black Widow in last year’s Avengers. Now anytime we see her being sexy without also doing a bunch of sweet-looking karate moves, it’s going to feel like a letdown. That shouldn’t be a problem for her next film though, as Heat Vision is reporting that Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) has hired the lady to star in his next big action movie, Lucy, which is about a girl who acts as a drug mule for some sort of super serum getting dosed with what she’s carrying and turning into a super-smart, telekinetic, ass-kicking machine. This sounds like exactly the kind of movie the world needs right now.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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