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'Hotel Transylvania 3' Tops Weekend Box Office While 'Skyscraper' Struggles
Sony Animation's Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation continued the franchise tradition of debuting atop the weekend box office and doing so with over $40 million over the three-day. The weekend also featured a strong expansion from Annapurna's Sorry to Bother You, which landed in seventh position on the weekend chart, but unfortunately for Universal's Skyscraper, the weekend's other new wide release, it struggled over its opening weekend, failing to meet the studio's expectations, delive...

Sequels Dominate as Denzel's 'Equalizer 2' Edges Out 'Mamma Mia!' Sequel at Top of Box Office
A different kind of record was set this weekend in that it was the first weekend ever where eight of the top ten films at the weekend box office were sequels. Of those eight, two of the weekend's new follow-up films are locked in a tight race at the top with Sony's The Equalizer 2 pulling off a surprise upset, edging out Universal's Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which looked as if it might top $40 million at one point over the weekend, but settled down well below that mark. Overall, the wee...

Mission to Mars Missin' the Mark
A review of Mission to Mars
by J. D. Rummel

Mission to Mars had a great opening weekend, and that's easy to understand. Prior to release, audiences were primed by well-produced, titillating trailers conveying the right mix of adventure and mystery. If only it could have delivered on the promises that grabbed our attention.

Director: Brian De Palma

Stars: Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O'Connell, Kim Delaney, Tim Robbins

Rating: PG

Release: 03-10-2000

Time: 120 minutes

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Mission is set 20 years in the future and it tells the tale of a group of friends in the Mars space program. The first mission arrives on the red planet and is laid waste by a magnificent special effects sequence. On Earth, a fuzzy broadcast is received, barely relaying the multiple deaths before contact is lost. The second team is put together to boldly go where the last bunch vanished. Likable folks encounter mystery and danger. Classics are built with such materials.

Mission's strong points are the special effects and the lengths it goes to for technical verisimilitude. The film recalls Apollo 13 in its efforts to portray space flight as the dangerous work it is. Scenes such as Jerry O'Connell walking in the rotating habitat ring of the Mars space ship, and the anti gravity dancing are impressive and go a long way toward making the viewer think that it's all real. As in so many films these days, vast amounts of money were spent on appearance, unfortunately, nothing was done in terms of telling a story that included real people.

Mission's crippling weak spot, is its shameful waste of acting talent. On screen are some powerful performers (Gary Sinese, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle) and the words and situations they are asked to portray are textbook examples of Plug 'n Play scene building. The humanity displayed here is pure Hollywood. It's like Touched by An Angel in space. They all love each other, and although at least one of them has faced sorrow in the untimely death of his wife, they are one big, loving bunch of astronauts. No one on screen is even remotely close to anyone you or I know in terms of reality, these are pictures of characters, not real people. Although the actors do the best they can with the material they are given I felt bad for some of the lines they had to deliver. The effects and situations makes us see outer space as dangerous and imposing, the dialogue and human activity make us roll our eyes and feel bad for the waste. Included in a familiar array of cliched exchanges we get to witness the complete failure of years of NASA conditioning when situations become stressful.

I won\'t spoil too much here, suffice it to say the story is not original, but it is not so well trodden that we don't want to see it again if someone had taken the time to tell it right.