FROM MTV MOVIES: By this point, if anyone is still doubting whether "The Hangover Part II" will be a massive worldwide hit, Wednesday's midnight screenings should quiet skeptics. Warner Bros. announced that the follow-up to 2009's record-smashing hit roped in $10.4 million in those early showings, setting a new midnight opening record for an R-rated film on its way to what many are predicting will become a $125 million opening over the five-day holiday weekend.
All this box-office talk gets even more impressive when you note reviews for the film have been decidedly mixed. While the first "Hangover" won over both critics and moviegoers, the sequel is currently languishing at just a 31 percent approval at the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator. Critics have pointed out how the second film follows the plot points of the original far too closely. They've also argued that the sequel simply isn't as funny as the first. Other reviews, however, are still getting a kick out of watching the Wolf Pack flail and fail all over again, similarities are not. Read on for a deep dive into the "Hangover Part II" reviews:
"'The Hangover Part II' opts for the most popular cure: the hair of the dog that bit it. In other words, the sequel is almost identical to the first 'Hangover.' This time, dweeby Stu (Ed Helms), slick Phil (Bradley Cooper) and attention sponge Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are at a wedding (Stu's) in Thailand, instead of Las Vegas, but the rest is pretty much the same. The movie starts with the three waking up after a night of debauchery, with one of their pals missing, with a threatening crook on their tails and with vague knowledge of peccadilloes both sexual and chemical. Oh, and Mike Tyson is tangentially involved (Stu has a facial tattoo just like the former champ's). They spend the rest of the movie trying to make it to the wedding while piecing together clues to what happened the previous night and searching desperately for their missing bud." — Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Read the full story at MTV Movies!
"Toy Story 3" gets the awards-season glory, "Shrek" stands as the most successful animated series of all-time, but I confess one of my favorite CGI flicks of the last several years remains 2008's "Kung Fu Panda." Even when I catch snippets on TV, Jack Black's wild, panda abandon never gets old. The fight sequences manage to be both creative and LOL-inducing. And, as my 10-year-old cousin can attest, there's a potent moral hidden within that's a bit cheesy but also super truthful.
But in breaking down a film into a cinematic laundry list, we shouldn't miss the overall point: as a whole, "Kung Fu Panda" is just so much darn fun. And that's exactly what the sequel is too: a blast. Here are five reasons why you need to check out "Kung Fu Panda 2."
Episode Title: "A Golden Crown"
Story: Ned's consolation prize for being attacked by the queen's brother, the so-called Kingslayer Jaime Lannister, is being reinstated as the King's Hand by Robert Baratheon, who just wants to go hunting and not deal with matters of state. But Ned knows that King's Landing is not safe for him, and tells his daughters Sansa and Arya that they must go south. It is only then that he uncovers the secret that the former King's Hand died to keep from telling...
In the Eyrie, Tyrion Lannister fights to save his life from his captors, Catelyn Stark and her sister Lysa Arryn, in a manner of speaking. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen must juggle issues with her increasingly delusional brother Viserys and the coming of her powerful son who is growing inside of her.
FROM MTV MOVIES: To truly understand the global success of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise — because who, honestly, can wrap his head around a figure as large as $2.7 billion, the series' worldwide box-office haul? — one might do well to pay attention to the slightly smaller figure of Johnny Depp's paycheck for playing Captain Jack Sparrow.
"It must be kind of nice for him to know that he can revisit this every two or three years and be paid more than the national debt of most countries," new co-star Ian McShane joked to the Los Angeles Times during an interview in Cannes last week.
OK, so McShane is exaggerating just a tad, but the point is that over the course of three films (even though the last two had decidedly mixed reviews), the "Pirates" films have managed to stay remarkably popular — especially considering they're based on a hokey, '60s-era amusement-park attraction. The newest installment, "On Stranger Tides," shows little sign of a dent in that "Pirates" popularity, despite once again facing a mixed critical assessment. Its two-day international gross stands at almost $44 million, and domestically, it's expected to reel in around $100 million over opening weekend.
Read the full story at MTV Movies!
Haters, get ready to hate: I believe it's time for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise to sail firmly into Geoffrey Rush's hands.
No disrespect intended towards Captain Jack Sparrow whatsoever — I love the character to pieces and imagine that we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the coming years — but I'm equally enamored with Rush's comparatively underrated Barbossa, and I think we're at the point where the formerly dead pirate needs to get his hands on the franchise. I'll give you five reasons why after the jump.
Episode Title: "The Wolf and the Lion"
Story: The Hand's Tourney is underway with a showdown between The Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane, and the Knight of Flowers, Ser Loras. Ned remains distracted by the conspiracy surrounding Jon Arryn's death, and Varys the Spider reveals a poisonous detail — but this new information doesn't help Ned's cause any more than his quest for the king's bastards. Worse still, based on what Arya overhears while chasing cats, Ned's time as the King's Hand is running out.
Meanwhile, Catelyn continues her journey with Tyrion up to the Eyrie to present him to her sister, Lysa, but the reunion does not go quite as she expected. And when word of Tyrion's kidnapping reaches King's Landing, the Imp's brother Jaime reacts very, very poorly.
FROM MTV MOVIES: Call it a Judd Apatow-for-chicks comedy or his laugh factory's finest effort since 2007's "Knocked Up" — and many critics have done both — but the bottom line is people have been loving "Bridesmaids" in early screenings.
Produced by Apatow, directed by Paul Feig and starring "Saturday Night Live" star Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids" opened Friday (May 13), and while it won't duel with "Thor" for the top box-office spot, it does have the distinction of being one of the most critically adored major releases of the year (currently 91 percent fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator). Critics have lauded the film's consistent laughs, Wiig for her breakout big-screen turn and the cast of uproarious supporting players. Read on for those critiques and more in our "Bridesmaids" review roundup.
"Wiig stars as Annie, the increasingly unhinged maid of honor for her best friend Lillian's (Maya Rudolph) upcoming up-market wedding. They are surrounded by an ensemble of witty twisted sisters who come in all shapes and sizes (both the wit and the sisters, the unrelated kind, just 'doin' it for themselves'), and a director in Paul Feig, who displays a lot of comedic common sense. This creative collective includes most notably Rose Byrne ('Damages') and Melissa McCarthy ('Mike & Molly'), with Wendi McLendon-Covey ('Reno 911!') and Ellie Kemper ('The Office') as the other merry maids. They all work hard to wring the most nonsense out of the clever script. ... The story swings between Annie's everyday struggles and a string of increasingly outrageous wedding plan fiascos [but] what distinguishes the film is the way in which the women relate and the raunch is handled." — Betsy Sharkey, The Los Angeles Times
Get the full story at MTV Movies!
Episode Title: "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
Story: As the title of this episode suggests, this episode centers on three of our favorite characters: Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Jon (Kit Harrington). But the bastards extend into Ned's (Sean Bean) story as well as he investigates what the former King's Hand, Jon Arryn, was doing before his death -- and it turns out that King Robert (Mark Addy) knows a thing or two about bastards.
At the Wall, Jon continues to dominate his class of Night's Watch recruits, but picks up a new friend in the form of Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). The Hand's Tourney finally starts up in a gruesome jousting contest that tests Sansa's (Sophie Turner) ability to withstand violence, and Catelyn Tully (Michelle Fairley) finds an unsuspecting suspect along the Kingsroad. Elsewhere, across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finally, finally stands up to her nasty elder brother, Viserys (Harry Lloyd).
Episode Title: "Lord Snow"
Story: After the long journey down the Kingsroad, Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) arrives in King's Landing to begin his work as the Hand of the King. But it turns out that King Robert (Mark Addy) prefers drinking, whoring and hunting to his actual kingly duties, and has somehow managed to get the country 6 million crowns (their form of currency) in debt. While Ned deals with the repercussions of that discovery, his eldest daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) gets settled into court life and his youngest daughter Arya (Maisie Williams) begins taking sword lessons with her blade, Needle.
Back in Winterfell, Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) can't remember the events that led up to his fall, but the fact that the 10-year-old is now paralyzed from the waist down leaves him wishing for death. His mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) reaches King's Landing and voices her fears about the Lannisters to Ned, while the Lannister twins -- Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) and her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) -- worry about whether Bran will end up remembering it was them who pushed him. Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) makes enemies before friends with his fellow Night's Watch recruits at the Wall, and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has some climactic confrontations with her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd).
Episode Title: "The Kingsroad"
Written By: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Story: Picking up right where episode one left off, the royal court readies to depart from Winterfell and head to King's Landing with Ned Stark (Sean Bean) as the Hand of the King. But no one, especially not Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) and her twin brother Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), are happy to leave the comatose Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) behind before he wakes up and shares why he "fell" out of a high tower. With his mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) watching over him at all times, Ned heads south and his bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) heads north to dedicate himself to the Night's Watch at the Wall.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark) begins to adapt to Dothraki culture instead of just being a victim to her husband Khal Drogo's (Jason Momoa) brutish ways. Her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) does not find it as easy. Word of her recent marriage reaches King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), who is angered to find a Targaryen still alive and posing a threat to his kingdom. He is less worried about the fate of his son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) after he is attacked by Ned's daughter Arya's (Maisie Williams) direwolf, though it is her sister Sansa's (Sophie Turner) pet that must pay the ultimate price.