WEEKEND BOX-OFFICE and my review of Oliver Stone’s W.
The action film based on a video game, MAX PAYNE, starring MARK WALHBERG, not only opened to bad reviews but also a venomous reaction among internet fan boys that pretty much seals its fate as a one weekend semi-wonder. It grossed 18 mill to place first. BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA continues a solid run for Disney as the film, geared to the kid crowd, pulled in another 11.2 mill giving it a three week total of 69 mill. It placed second. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES opened to a respectable 11 mill in its first weekend out, to place third. The period drama, based on a best selling novel, stars Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Alicia Keys.
Oliver Stone’s W. pulled in a solid if not stupendous 10.5 mill in its first weekend in release, to place fourth. After just coming back from viewing the film my first impression was that the final product here is not what the marketing campaign had led me to believe. While many of the ads for the film made it seem almost like a parody, that perception was not the reality as W. is a drama, and a pretty good one at that. While not the definitive story on the life of George W. Bush, the movie does a really good job of capturing the man and, I might add, it’s a very fair look at him indeed. If Oliver Stone’s (JFK, Nixon) name wasn’t on the credits you wouldn’t know he had any involvement since the story is more than fair and balanced, it’s respectful.
The movie primarily deals with a few themes that cover W.’s privileged but troubled youth, his decision to invade Iraq, and his demon of always trying to live up to his father’s expectations, which is the centerpiece to the story here. JOSH BROLIN is sensational, literally becoming George W. Bush. This is a real performance that hits not only mannerisms and character quirks, but it embodies the man himself as Brolin literally disappears into the role. I would expect an Oscar nomination. The film also features other high quality turns by James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney who, in many ways, is the villain of the piece, Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell and Toby Jones as Karl Rove.
If there is one weak link it’s the performance of Thandie Newton who plays Condolezza Rice and comes across as the film’s only SNL type impersonation. Her performance was so weak it almost took me out of the film. At a running time of 110 minutes, I was totally into it every step of the way, and came away having respect for the man. It’s clear that his heart was in the right place. His biggest flaws are surrounding himself with the wrong people; not being the smartest guy in the room and, most of all, the fact that he was born a Bush, which put immense pressure on him to try and overachieve. Overall I found W. to be a fair look at a man who admittedly has made mistakes, the biggest being the decision to invade Iraq without definitive proof of WMD’s. That’s a fact that will probably haunt him for the rest of his life which is something Stone clearly agrees with. Well worth seeing and I give W. a 4 out of 5.
Here’s a link to the weekend’s Top TEN
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