Good media discernment is about guarding our eyes and hearts before we watch or listen. And it's also about grappling with the entertainment we do see or hear. That's why the Plugged In Blog is devoted to guarding, discussing and grappling.
You might say that Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal took no prisoners over the weekend.
The pair abducted an estimated $21.4 million from moviegoers, pushing their gritty crime thriller Prisoners to the top of the box office heap. No matter that the movie pushed two-and-a-half hours, or that its themes weren't exactly the stuff of light September escapism. Audiences were apparently in the mood for something a little heavier.
'Course, it didn't hurt that it had very little competition. In a rather dead weekend at the local multiplex, Prisoners was about as lively as things got.
For proof, all you need to do is take an anxious gander at Insidious Chapter 2. The PG-13 fright-flick suffered from a mild case of rigor mortis this weekend (it lost 64% of its audience) and still managed to breeze to a second-place finish. Insidious Chapter 2 earned $14.5 million, more than double the take of The Family, which had to cool its cement galoshes in third.
Instructions Not Included, the durable Spanish-speaking phenomenon, continued to show that it really doesn't need instructions, at least not on how to make money. After a week outside the Top 5, Instructions increased its weekend gross to $5.7 million to land in fourth place. According to Box office Mojo, it's earned $34.3 million and is now the fifth most lucrative foreign-language flick ever—just a hair behind Pan's Labyrinth.
Besides Prisoners, Battle of the Year (featuring Chris Brown on his ongoing redemption tour) was the only other wide release. But the breakdancing flick couldn't find its groove and earned just $5 million.
Final figures update: 1. Prisoners, $20.8 million; 2. Insidious Chapter 2, $13.8 million; 3. The Family, $7 million; 4. Instructions Not Included, $5.4 million, 5. Battle of the Year, $4.6 million.
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--I saw 'Prisoners' on Saturday, and despite its heavy subject matter, it was a great story. The answers to the moral queries were pretty clear to me, but then I'm not a parent. Still, it was upsetting & hard to watch but the real kicker was the ambiguous ending.
--I finally saw The Butler this weekend, liked it, but thought the stunt casting got in the way sometimes. Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan was hilarious, but Robin Williams doesn't do a good Eisenhower.
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I want to rant about comic books.
Back a couple of weeks ago, the main creative team of the critically acclaimed "Batwoman" series left the book. It turned out that the straw of executive meddling that broke the camel's back is that the top people at DC Comics made it clear that the storyline the writer and artist had been building to for the last two years, in which Kate (Batwoman) Kane marries her fiancee Maggie Sawyer, wasn't going to happen. Despite most people's kneejerk assumption, it wasn't about the same-sex thing.
No, it's worse than that. DC's current policy is that there should not be any married superheroes in their mainstream books. Why? Officially, it's because superheroing is a career you have to "give something up for" and in a slap at firefighters, EMTs and police officers, that something is marriage. Most of the marriages they'd had before had been officially erased in a universe-wide reboot back in 2011 that made the superheroes younger/earlier in their careers.
Fans had thought that Aquaman and Mera, king and queen of Atlantis were still married. After all, they were still living together, were still king and queen of Atlantis, and since Mera is a foreigner we just assumed she'd have to be married to the king to be queen. After the Batwoman thing hit the news, DC clarified that *somehow* Aquaman and Mera weren't married, just lovers. That left DC with a grand total of one married superhero, Animal Man, who's now separated from his wife.
However, DC is A-okay with premarital sex and shacking up. Even for their teenaged characters.
And Marvel is scarcely better. In the notorious One More Day plotline, Spider-Man sells his marriage to the local equivalent of the devil to save his aged aunt's life, so that it never existed. The editorial reason given for this was that "marriage aged Spider-Man, and limited the stories we could tell with him." Except that it was later made clear that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson had lived together all that time, and done everything but the actual official marriage. (Including having a stillborn child.)
Now, admittedly I'm not exactly averse to extramarital sex in my media, and am okay with it being referred to in media that teenagers and older children consume, it doesn't even have to be depicted as the worst possible choice in the world. But I do have a strong bias in favor of depicting a loving, stable marriage as the most appropriate setting for a sexual relationship. So the news that DC Comics takes the opposite view sets my teeth on edge. It's not family friendly by any measure.
--@syd: What do you think the answers to the moral queries of Prisoners are? I think it's fun to discuss movies like this with other people; that's why I'm asking. :) I also saw Prisoners on Saturday, with my husband, and we both thought it was very good. As far as the moral issues go, I feel like I agree with Terrance Howard's character who says that what Keller is doing just isn't right. But I am also not a parent, nor can I imagine what I would do if one of my future children was kidnapped in a similar situation. So even though it doesn't completely justify what Keller did, I can certainly see what drove him to those actions. My husband thought it was interesting that Keller said he was a Christian when some of his actions spoke otherwise. The ending was pretty crazy! My husband didn't particularly care for it, because he felt like it wasn't an ending at all, but I thought it was beautifully done. But then again, I am quite a fan of ambiguous endings if they're done right.
--I want to see "Prisoners", but haven't yet.
@SJamison: I am with you. But then, Marvel and DC clearly have had a moral vacuum going for a while, what with their pushy determination to drown us in gay characters, endorsements of Obama, and backhanded sentiments of other varieties towards Christians. The immoral politics are the reason I don't read almost any of their books anymore (diehard comic geek though I am). At least the movies remain uncontaminated for now.
I thought Keller crossed the line when he started torturing the kid. I was horrified when I saw his swollen face. At that point, Keller lost my sympathy as a character. (Maybe I'm being too harsh but that's how I felt). Kidnapping is one thing but torture crosses the line with me. I wanted to reach into the screen and shake Terrence Howard's character till his teeth rattled....he just STOOD THERE and did nothing & you could see his conscience was eating at him, telling him that it was so so WRONG. It was just disturbing and then I started fearing that Keller might kill the kid.
I loved the ending though, it was great. You get to wonder what happened...
--@AWeaver: If it's any comfort, the Obama endorsements in comics (which should not be confused with Obama *appearances*) have died down as he has shown himself to be far less liberal than many comics creators were hoping. (I at one time had a near-complete run of 2000 AD and it was fascinating to watch the stories go from Margaret Thatcher worship when she first came into power to "typical politician" to outright loathing as the effects of her policies became more obvious.)
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