Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Amityville Horror Review

My Amityville Horror Review

Since the dawn of time there have been stories of ghosts, haunted places and paranormal activity. Some of these stories have claimed to be real as others have been shifted into legend. Many people try to investigate the “real” stories but usually come up with very little from where they started.

“The Amityville Haunting” was a shocking incident which happened to the Lutz family in 1975. The Lutz family bought the house on 112 Ocean Avenue for $80,000. The house had been vacant for thirteen months after the DeFeo murders took place in the house. When the Lutz family took it over, very strange incidents began to occur in the house. The Lutz family was horrified to the point that they abandoned the house sometime later. The story went on to inspire a book and horror film series that has been rebooted and remade many times.

“My Amityville Horror” is a new documentary where Daniel Lutz, the oldest of the three Lutz children, discusses what happened in the house. If you are a horror fan of any kind and planning on getting spooked, scared, or creeped out by this documentary, then I am sorry to say that this not that kind of documentary. This documentary really gets down to the nitty-gritty of what happened from Daniel’s perspective. Daniel and his family has been the subject of much controversy and often ridicule since the 1970’s. Some think what happened in the house really shook the family up. While others think the Lutz’s are frauds and their story fiction.

Whether the story is real or not, you can automatically tell that Daniel Lutz has been affected by the incident. But to be honest, who wouldn’t? The story was all over the news for a long time and it shocked the nation. His descriptions are sometimes hard to deny and you have to give director Eric Walter credit for really etching in the details. He seems to ask very particular questions which really flesh out the descriptions of the people involved with his film.

The use of old TV news spots, old talk shows and old pictures really give the documentary a creative edge. It is fascinating to look at all the information collected to root out what happened in the house. The only disappointing aspect of the documentary is that we really don’t learn anything new. We already know there were thousands of flies the Lutz’s thought they killed, but somehow disappeared. We know about the pig face with wolf-like teeth and red eyes. We know about the levitating beds and doors opening by themselves. There are no new insights or descriptions of any spooky activity.

Whether you believe the guy or not though, Daniel Lutz is completely convicted in his retelling of the Amityville story. He believes every detail and you can tell by the look in his eye that something truly devastated him as a young man. A fascinating aspect of the documentary is that it points to two different directions to where Daniel’s trauma stems from. That I feel is the documentary’s biggest strength. It leaves its audience open-ended to the whether or not the Lutz family really was being attacked by ghosts or if George Lutz (Daniel’s stepfather) psychologically harmed his family.

There are a few revelations about Lutz’s family. We learn that George did not treat his family very well while they live in the Amityville house. We learn that George lied on television about not being involved in the occult. Daniel and many other witnesses make it very clear that he was indeed an occultist and Daniel firmly believes that is what led to his old homes haunting. We see it happen in the horror genre all the time. Characters provoke a spirit and the spirit lashes out. But does that happen in real life?

A telegram at the end of the documentary states that Daniel’s younger siblings declined the chance to be interviewed for the film. It also states that after 5 different families have lived on 112 Ocean Avenue, no other paranormal activity has taken place. Which also begs the question, how valid is Daniel’s story?

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, “My Amityville Horror” offers enough description and discussion to have an interesting debate. Are there things that go bump in the night? If we provoke an old spirit will it attack? Do you believe in ghosts? There is enough clear detail here to have plenty to talk about. The best documentaries do just that, give us all something to talk about. This film focuses more upon Daniel and his trauma and less about the spooky detail of the Lutz family time on Ocean Avenue. This documentary is not meant to scare, but gives us eyebrow-raising insight.

FINAL GRADE: B-

The Essentials- The Warriors (1979)

The Essentials- #3

The Warriors (1979)


"Over two millenniums ago, an army of Greek soldiers found themselves isolated in the middle of the Persian Empire. One thousand miles from safety. One thousand miles from the sea. One thousand miles with enemies on all sides. Theirs was a story of a desperate forced march. Theirs is a story of courage..."

This is a quote from The Battle of Cuaxa from the Greco-Persian War during 401 B.C.. It opens Walter Hill’s “The Warriors”, an action satire that became a cult classic in the late 1970s. It was a film that was violent and controversial for its time. By today’s standards, it just looks like ridiculous fun.

Some film lovers don’t like having ridiculous fun. They like their movies to have logic and reason. Everything down to the smallest detail has to make sense and if it doesn’t, the film is automatically stupid. I have always been of the opinion that movies are an emotional response. Films are art, real, pure art. A movie does not have to come off “artsy” in order to be real art. Filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, are all artists. This is all my way of saying that I don’t mind ridiculous fun, just as long as a good story is told in the process.
“The Warriors” takes a very silly idea and has fun with it. If you are able to open your mind and disregard logic and reason, you will have a lot of fun with this film.

The film opens with nine members of “The Warriors,” a notorious gang from Coney Island, New York, meeting up with each other. They are planning to go to a huge gang meeting in Central Park of New York City. Cyrus is the host of this momentous occasion; he is the leader of The Riffs, the biggest gang in the city. Cyrus plans to unite all of the gangs in the city (which apparently number in the hundreds) into one gargantuan crime syndicate.  And why not? This super gang would outnumber the police and organized crime. Plus, they would not have to worry about defending their turf if the whole city belongs to everyone. Cyrus invited nine delegates from each gang of the city and makes them vow to not bring any weapons to the meeting.

The opening credit sequence showing The Warriors taking the subway to the meeting is one of my favorite scenes. There are so many colorful gangs, wearing goofy outfits that make their way to Central Park. This is what I mean by having fun with a silly idea. Obviously in today’s world, nothing like this would ever happen since gangland turf and racial tension are still very much alive in the streets. But seeing all the neat costumes and all these tough guys getting ready to potentially band together…it’s very electric and sets the tone right.
So as you could probably guess, Cyrus’s meeting goes horribly. As the police plan to crash the meeting, nobody (including the police) have any idea that somebody plans to assassinate Cyrus. Luther, the leader of The Rogues, kills Cyrus and put the blame upon “The Warriors.” The Riffs put a price on The Warrior's heads and now every gang in the city are after The Warriors. The Warriors have no choice but to get back Coney Island, anyway they can.

What follows is a sprawling action adventure as The Warriors make their way back to Coney, fighting wave after wave of gangs and police. But the movie never feels like a video game with checkpoints. There are little stories in between that keep you interested and invested in the characters. We learn about The Warriors as they go along too, well almost all of them. I can’t say that this movie shines in character development, but there is plenty of fun to go around.

There aren’t a whole lot of A-listers in this film. The most recognizable star is James Remar, who plays Ajax. You’ll recognize Remar from “Django Unchained”. He also plays Dexter's Dad in TV show “Dexter.” He is an aggressive, hot-headed gangster who really wants to lead the Warriors, but is obviously too tempered to do so. We see about 5 seconds of Lawrence Fishburne, who is seemingly a member of an unnamed gang. This was one of his very first appearances in front of the camera. All the actors do really well in their roles and should be noted for their work.

There is quite a bit of action in the film, but nothing offensive or outlandish. There is actually not any blood at all. If it weren’t for so much vulgar language, the film would have easily been a PG-13 rated movie. Still, the action is awesome and fight scenes are actually quite cool.

“The Warriors” didn’t bring buckets of money to the box office and it didn’t win any Oscars. But it is a landmark for taking a high concept and doing something fun with it. That is much harder to do than one may realize, and director Walter Hill makes it come off effortless. If you looking for nothing but a good time with a movie, then I strongly suggest you give “The Warriors” a shot. Can you dig it?


Monday, April 29, 2013

A collage of new posters!

POSTERS, POSTERS EVERYWHERE!

I have a huge buildup of posters for coming attractions. I think you will get a kick out of checking them out.

RUSH
Rush is the new film coming from director Ron Howard. It will be hitting theaters on September 20th 2013. It stars Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds) and is based on a true story. It tells the story of rival race car drivers. Anyway, early word says this film could have serious Oscar attention come next year! I always like Hemsworth and Bruhl was a real discovery in 2009, so I am curious to see the first trailer.
V/H/S 2
Now this sequel is something I am wildly curious about. I saw the first "V/H/S" last year in October and shocked the hell out of me. Found Footage is tricky, and so in anthology. But all the creative minds around the first film created something truly special. I am hoping for the most out of its sequel. V/H/S 2 will be released on July 12th 2013.

PACIFIC RIM
I just reported on the film's second trailer which gives us more clues to the story and shows off the films epicness. We also have some brand new trailers for the blockbuster as well. All of the fun around today regarding this film is only finalizing my decision that this IS my most anticipated movie this summer. I cannot, CANNOT wait to check this out!


The Month of July cannot come fast enough!

Rip-roaring trailer for "Pacific Rim" has my anticipation in overdrive!

PACIFIC RIM TRAILER!



To be honest with all of you, "Pacific Rim," is my most anticipated film of summer 2013. Yes, I know we are getting "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Hangover 3," "The Wolverine," "World War Z," "Man of Steel," and "Kick Ass 2" that is all fine and dandy, but I feel that "Pacific Rim" may steal my heart.

I love the Robots vs. Aliens story. I love all the actors involved (it looks from the trailer that Idris Elba is going to steal the show acting wise). It overall just looks like a great time at the movies. As far as summer blockbusters go, that is all you can really hope for. 

What also peaks my interest is that Charlie Day from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" will show up in the film, didn't see that coming!

The latest trailer for the movie is posted below, giving us a better, clearer backdrop of the story and mood of the movie, and I think you all will go nuts for it:


It looks big, intense, and fun. This is exactly what a summer movie should be. Once the robot began to use a huge shipping vessel as a baseball bat, I was sold. This film is being directed by the great Guillmero Del Toro (famous for Blade 2, and the Hellboy series). It looks like he's got another winner on his hands!

PACIFIC RIM will wash on our shores on July 11th, 2013.





Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hollywood Grapevine

HOLLYWOOD GRAPEVINE

I apologize for no updates over the weekend, as I was out of town visiting old friends. I did not mean to be out of commission so long, but today I've got some really exciting news for you.

RED 2 Posters
Back in 2009, a spy-action-comedy called "RED" came in October and blew my mind. It starred Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Karl Urban and John Malkovich. It's a really fun movie, and if you have not had a chance to check out, I would recommend that you do so.

In July, RED 2 will be released and a slue of character posters arrived over the weekend, They feature returning actors Willis, Mirren and Malkovich. We also get to see new characters played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Byung Hun Lee (Famous for playing Storm Shadow in the "G.I. Joe" franchise.) Check em out!
















Also returning from the first film are Brian Cox and Mary-Louise Parker. The new cast also includes David Thewlis (famous for playing Remus Lupin in the "Harry Potter" series) and Neal McDonough (played Dum Dum Dugan in "Captain America: The First Avenger). So far, this is a great looking cast and I can't wait to see "RED 2" this summer.

A FEW STORIES FROM MARVEL STUDIOS!


WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS POTENTIAL SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!




There has been quite a bit of fun going on with Marvel the pasted month. All sorts of new images from "Amazing Spiderman 2" appeared online. Brand new TV spots and early reviews for "Iron Man 3" are looking great. And now today, we have some new developments for the future of the studio.

First things first, I don't know how many knew this already but last summer there has been chatter that Marvel will develop a "S.H.I.E.L.D" television show. It looks like the show is for sure going to be happening and Joss Whedon who directed "The Avengers" movie will be developing the show. Whedon got his start on television, creating "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," "Dollhouse" and "Firefly." What is really crazy is what is going to happen in the pilot episode. Below is description of what episode one of "S.H.I.E.L.D" will look like, and it is a doozie. Please be warned though, major spoilers if this rumor is true.

"In the pilot, it is revealed that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the ultimate spy, faked Phil Coulson's death on purpose to motivate the Avengers. Some S.H.I.E.L.D agents were in on it. (possibly including Maria Hill.) but the Avengers were not. Coulson was forced to hold his breath as part of the rouse and it becomes a point of contention among his colleagues. After the fact, Fury moved Coulson to a remote location until things died down, and then Coulson was reinserted into duty at the time of the show..."

All I can say is wow, and as a Marvel fan I am not that surprised. Reading the comics, Nick Fury is a guy who is always waving his own flag, so to speak. Fury's personality and motivation for doing what he does always buts heads with the superheroes he works with. Fury is naturally a good character, but he always up to something, which seems to be the case for the Marvel Cinematic Universe too. Could the studio be edging closer to an adaptation of the "Marvel Civil War?" We will wait and see what happens.





Second, Whedon also discussed some ideas on "Avengers 2" and a new duo of superheroes will be featured in the lineup in 2015. The only question is who?

Whedon was at a press conference for "Iron Man 3" when he dropped the big news. A quote of the conference is below:

   "When you're dealing with the story, when you've got the characters that you love, when you've got the new characters sliding in next to them - it's very exciting," said Whedon. "Then I don't feel pressure, then I feel like I'm reading my favorite comic. I've got these two characters, two of my favorite characters from the comic book, a brother-sister act, they're in the movie. That's exciting! You lock certain things in, there's a fluidity."
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/news/joss-whedon-teases-avengers-2-additions-are-they-quicksilver-and-the-scarlet-witch#qqp2rfjOlmPVjvVv.99 

The "brother sister act" that Whedon is referring to (I think at least) is Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.

In the comics, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were reformed supervillains who joined the Avengers with Hawkeye. They also happen to be Magneto's children. That's right, two ex-members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from "X-Men" became Avengers. This is the Marvel universe and characters get together all the time in the comics. I can't think of another brother-sister team in the Marvel universe that Whedon could possibly be referring to. 

So what does this mean? Has Marvel got the "X-Men" rights back from 20th Century Fox? Can we expect to see an Avengers/X-Men film in the future? Is Marvel REALLY prepping for a "Marvel Civil War" film? We will see as this story progresses.

Remember these are rumors and theories, I will definitely be paying attention to these stories and see how they fan out. All I can say is this is the most exciting time to be a fan of superhero movies.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Early "Iron Man 3" reviews pile up...

Iron Man 3 Early Reviews

What are they saying??

Next week, general audience will finally get to see "Iron Man 3." But thankfully, right now we all can get a little taste of whats to come. From a few websites that I enjoy reading, here are some early reviews for the highly anticipated threequel, and the start of Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase II

From Drew McWeeny of Hitfix.com

" "I am Iron Man."

That was Tony Stark's big announcement at the end of 2008's first film in what has become one of the biggest franchises in the world, the cornerstone of an even larger franchise called The Marvel Universe, a creative gamble that has paid off in a huge way. In that moment, Stark, personified rather than played by Robert Downey Jr., not only flipped the superhero formula on its head by revealing his identity to the world but also announced himself as the owner of the character. He's now played Stark five times on film, and there is no one who would argue that in terms of the pop consciousness, Downey is Stark and vice-versa.

In "Iron Man Three," as it's written during the closing credits, Stark finds himself genuinely tested by the Mandarin, a media-savvy terrorist, and a rival businessman who is angling to take away Pepper Potts. From that simple logline, Shane Black has spun my favorite of the standalone films about the character, including the first film. I think Jon Favreaudeserves all the credit in the world for getting the entire thing off the ground, finding the right tone to play everything at, creating a credible world that has now expanded in ways that would have been unthinkable a mere five years ago.

What surprised and satisfied me most about "Iron Man Three" is just how thematically tight it is. This is a film that overtly addresses the difference between the suit and the person inside it, and not just in the case of Tony Stark. This is a world where everyone seems to have a face they present to the world and a secret face as well, and the tension between those identities is what drives the movie. Tony's simply the most pronounced version of how this plays out, and in his case, one suit isn't enough anymore. Since the events of "The Avengers," Tony has been manic about keeping himself safe and protecting Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow), and he's built several dozen new suits, constantly tweaking and modifying. He has panic attacks at any mention of what happened in New York or the wormhole he just barely survived. He is barely holding himself together, and so when a new threat shows its face, he's not ready for it.

It's almost shocking how much of a Shane Black film this is. I expected him to play around a little but within something that felt like pretty much every other Marvel movie. Instead, I recognize that this is firmly set within the Marvel universe, but the story and the voice in which it's told? Unmistakable. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" fans in particular are going to find themselves howling at the film's framing device and at a few twists and turns in the detective elements of the story. The result of this particular creative alchemy is a film that suggests they are still just starting to figure out what to do with this character, and I sincerely hope that the final credit of the film, "Tony Stark Will Return," is not just an empty promise.
In the film's opening scenes, we flash back to New Year's Eve, 1999, when Stark was at a conference in Bern, accompanied by Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau, decked out like Vincent Vega to hilarious effect). Both Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) are introduced in this sequence, and Tony talks about how he created his own demons through his actions on that evening. I often feel like the tenuous connections between the heroes and the villains in superhero films are mere excuses to bring them together, but in this script, co-written by Black and Drew Pearce, is about cause and effect. We've seen Tony Stark grow quite a bit in these films so far, and it makes perfect sense that the old Tony created the evil that finally lands on him in this film.

The Mandarin is a hard villain to figure out for a modern movie, and one of the real triumphs of the film is the way he's been re-imagined here. He is a media-age terrorist, every word and gesture designed to send a message, and Ben Kingsley seems to relish every word he delivers in the film. It is a surprisingly rounded performance, and there are some real surprises in the way Kingsley approaches the character. Most of the film's villains are realized very well, with James Badge Dale and Stephanie Szostak both making strong impressions as former soldiers who have been modified using the Extremis technology that was developed by Killian. And while fans of the comics may recognize character names or terms like "Extremis," this is not a direct adaptation of anything you've read in the comics, so don't walk in expecting that you know every detail of what you're about to see.

A huge lesson seems to have been learned from "Iron Man 2," and there is basically nothing in this film that feels like they're setting up any other movie. There's no shoe leather for "The Avengers 2," there's nothing that feels like a commercial leading to "Captain America 2" or "Thor 2." Instead, it is a self-contained story, intentionally isolating Stark and forcing him to solve a problem without just leaning on his armor for once. I love movies where you strip away all of a hero's tools and leave him stranded, and I love movies where you just wail on your main character and leave him dented and bloodied by the end, and this is both of those. If you've seen any of the marketing materials for the film, you've seen some footage of the attack on Tony's house, and the set-up for that is tremendous, as is the pay-off. What it does is force him underground to plan his next move, and it makes him human. He can't just strap on his latest uber-weapon and break through the ceiling of the Mandarin's house, so he's forced to become the best possible version of Tony Stark again.

Gwenyth Paltrow absolutely has her best outing yet as Pepper, and she's got some of the movie's best moments to her credit this time. My wife, as active an "Iron Man" fangirl as I can imagine, audibly gasped three times in the movie, and all three times involved Pepper. Paltrow is the one who gets to play her part aware of just how outrageous everything around her is. Pepper has never gotten used to the suits and the villains and the flying and the aliens and the warfare, and she doesn't want to get used to it. Stark recognizes that in her and desperately needs it. It's a very sweet relationship that offers up a lot of natural fuel for the drama that underlines everything else in this film.

Likewise, Don Cheadle's got some great stuff to work with this time, and he seems to have such an easy rapport with Downey. For a Downey scene to work, you have to give him someone who can punch at his weight, someone nimble. Cheadle does it well. Paltrow does it well. Favreau absolutely loves doing it. Ty Simpkins, so good in "Insidious," plays a kid who runs into Tony at his lowest point, and what could be a disgustingly syrupy relationship in the wrong hands is actually very funny and does a nice job of reminding Tony about humility. All of this is done at a gallop, though. This is by far the most action-heavy of the "Iron Man" films, and thanks to the powers of the various people modified by Extremis, it's some big comic-book high-impact action. It feels like "Terminator 2" in terms of how rough it plays things, and I'm still not sure if I'm taking my kids to see it. It gets serious, and the intensity of it is part of what makes it great. It also helps that the script ties things up in a very satisfying way, bringing the series full-circle both thematically and emotionally, complete with a last line of dialogue that seems like the only way this film could end.

As always, stay till the very very end of things, which is a pleasure in this case thanks to a vibrant, upbeat closing-credits montage that looks like it could have been the opening each week for a live-action series called "Iron Man! And Friends! (in color)". It's a little splash of awesome right there at the end. And do your best to avoid any plot details for the movie. I've told you very little here, and that's by design. You're not going to have your mind blown, but with pulp this pure, you want to enjoy the ride the way it was designed. If this is Shane Black as a blockbuster director, then bring on whatever's next, and make sure "Iron Man 4," "Iron Man 5," and "Iron Man 6" are all on his "to-do" list as well.
Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/review-shane-black-and-robert-downey-jr-test-tony-stark-in-action-packed-iron-man-3#JbKXEYHWhius0h4D.99 "


From Jimmy-O of Joblo.com:

" IRON MAN 3 begins with Tony Stark revealing a part of his past through narration. Soon, we are witness to an explosion that is bursting from behind his many Iron Man suits so prominently displayed in his in-house workshop. Something pretty devastating is clearly happening. Yet quickly, the unlikeliest of heroes changes his mind and takes the viewer back to 1999. It is then he meets the painfully awkward and spectacled Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce, who is nearly unrecognizable). He asks Stark, and his date for the evening Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), if they would consider being part of a think-tank of sorts for his invention to better mankind. Promising to meet Killian, Stark forgets about the strange fellow leaving this miserable soul stranded. This decision will most certainly come back to haunt him.

Since IRON MAN 2, Stark has faced something very few mortal men could ever imagine. As part of THE AVENGERS he faced the deadly threat of an alien army and nearly fell to his death - quite literally from outer space. In the latest film from Marvel, this monumentally heroic undertaking has taken a toll on him physically and mentally. This includes a series of panic attacks and wicked nightmares. It has become so difficult that even the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), is feeling the strain. To make matters all the more complicated, there is a deadly string of bombings going on with a dastardly devil named Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) taking credit for it. When Stark’s security go-to-guy Happy (Jon Favreau) is injured during one of the attacks, the Iron Man takes it upon himself to call out this menacing terrorist.
Stark/Iron Man is a unique hero with an edge thanks to another knockout performance by the film's star. After taking this character on for the fourth time now, Robert Downey Jr. continues to create a layered individual who is trying to deal with the awesome nature of what he has become. The references to THE AVENGERS are especially well played here without becoming a crutch or relying on the previous film. Unlike IRON MAN 2, this sequel doesn’t dwell too much inside the world of the Avengers aside from how it affected Stark. As snarky and egocentric as Stark may be, he retains much of the charm he infused into the first film and feels a bit more heroic here than he did in the second film.

The stakes are also much higher for the people in Stark’s life that he holds dear. Clearly Happy finds himself in danger, yet it is Pepper Potts who faces serious danger creating a desperation that audiences can root for. I’ve always appreciated the chemistry between Downey and Paltrow and it is in full effect here. It’s sparked with humor and charm and it makes their relationship much more interesting. She is thrust into his world more so this time around which raises the stakes and also the unpredictability of the entire film. Thankfully both of these talented actors give their all and never feel as though they are simply cashing a paycheck. And am I the only one who finds Paltrow as Potts painfully adorable?
As far as supporting cast, you can’t do much better than Guy Pearce and especially Ben Kingsley. While I won’t go into detail about the role they play in all of this, I will say that Kingsley is utterly fantastic here. He is terrifying when need be and far more layered than one would expect. The actor is so good that he nearly steals the whole damn movie, even though some viewers may not be thrilled with the direction they take the character, there is no doubt that he is absolutely brilliant. Other supporting players that stand out include James Badge Dale and William Sadler - Rebecca Hall’s not so bad either. It is also satisfying to see the very talented Don Cheadle have a little more to do than simply clean up after Mr. Stark.

When Shane Black was first announced as the new director in the series, it seemed to be an intriguing, yet questionable choice. Happily the director brings out some of the intensity that he did with some of his earlier scripts including LETHAL WEAPON and KISS KISS BANG BANG (which he directed as well). There is an urgency that builds to an especially exciting climax, one which is sure to please Marvel fans. As dramatic and dark as it can get, it never loses the humor which has become an important factor in the Marvel Universe. With Favreau’s Happy Hogan consistently requesting “passes” at the workplace or the fun dialogue between the film’s stars, there is a nice balance between the dark and the light.

For anyone who has watched the trailer, when you see Stark's mansion fall, it is just as impressive as it appears to be. Considering this is only Black’s second directorial feature, he handled the effects especially well. All the effects work is definitely on par with the rest of the Marvel films which shouldn't be too surprising at this point as they seem to know what they are doing by now. Even the Iron Man models took on a brand new life in an inventive and thrilling way. By the third film (fourth if you count THE AVENGERS) the IRON MAN formula could have easily become predictable and dull. Perhaps what this particular franchise needed was a new voice and Black is a perfect fit.

IRON MAN 3 delivers on nearly all counts. My only complaint is that it runs a little long and feels like it could have been tightened up, especially as it steers closer to its impressive climax. And if you plan on seeing it in 3D, there is nothing really special about the conversion (unnecessary), although it may be worth it simply to see it in IMAX. In the end, the humor and thrills and everything else that made the original so refreshing and unique is here and then some! The score by Bryan Tyler is befitting as well and is especially nice to hear as the credits roll as opposed to some modern rock or rap song. In every way, this latest chapter is one of the best Marvel features to date. Tony Stark’s latest adventure is an enthusiastically exciting ride that never loses its humor or its edge."
9/10"



The film so far has a 95% rating at Rottentomatoes.com. However, not EVERYBODY is going ga-ga for this third installment. Take a look:



From Stephen Carty of FlixCapasitor.com:

"After the huge-scale, multi-hero antics of Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble (or whatever the hell we were supposed to call it), Iron Man 3‘s mission statement was to take things back to basics. In theory, this was a wise and welcome idea, but in execution it’s only partially successful. For while there’s a genuine effort to rely less on the flying suit (most of the second act sees Tony isolated and out of his Iron Man gear), what we end up with is as cartoonish and outlandish as it is stripped back.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, you understand. It’s just that for something which aims (no pun intended) at a back-to-basics approach, Iron Man 3 is often the silliest in the series. While the first – and still best – Iron Man was relatively grounded (apart from the whole flying-suit-of-armour thing, of course), here there are explosive, self-regenerating henchmen who feel like they’ve wandered in from the set ofHeroes. In fairness, they offer a change of pace after two movies which revolved around metallic-based baddies, but these guys aren’t convincing in the slightest, while the rules for killing or hurting them are blurry to say the least.
Still, Iron Man 3 is likely to please those who like their comic book movies light and comic book-y. There are some nice throwaway touches (such as Tony leaving his Iron Man suit outside a diner like a motorbike), and Robert Downey Jr. is entertaining as always (good luck filling those red boots when he’s had enough). But while director Shane Black and co-writer Drew Pearce admirably take time to focus on Tony, his arc – as in story, not reactor – is perfunctory at best. Like most Marvel movies, the priority here is having fun, so any time we start to touch on Tony’s psychological issues things snap back quickly, as if the movie is afraid to take itself seriously – god forbid – for too long.
Set at Christmas and frequently feeling like an action-comedy from the nineties (see the buddy-kid tag-along section), it’s also very much a Shane Black film. As a replacement for John Favreau (who helmed both the triumphant first Iron Man and the surprisingly disappointing second), Black is an interesting choice. As a screenwriter, his resume is hugely impressive, having penned Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2(IE, the good ones), as well contributing an uncredited rewrite to action classic Predator. But as a director, this is only his second time in the chair and his first since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which, coincidentally, rebooted Downey Jr.’s career). And it shows.
In terms of action, there’s a neat compound infiltration set piece which sees Tony use improvised weaponry, and a thrilling air rescue sequence which briefly poses a moral quandary we’ve not seen a hero face before. Namely, if it’s not possible to save everyone, who do you choose? But elsewhere there’s little in the way of danger or threat, while the climactic dockyard fight is another big, unremarkable battle which explodes through the motions towards a foregone conclusion. In terms of comedy, there are some nice lines, but the constant need to puncture every half-serious moment with a tongue-in-cheek gag grows tiresome quickly.
The performances are reliable, though, even if most of the supporting cast are underused (hello Rebecca Hall). But with even Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper suiting up and kicking ass, the Iron man universe has become a place where everyone has some form of power, which leaves our hero less special as a consequence. Elsewhere, there’s a movie-changing twist which offers a bold and genuinely surprising way of side-stepping a potentially naff character, but it’s also somewhat unsatisfying. Much like the film itself
The idea of going back to basics is welcome in theory, but lacking in execution. In some ways, Iron Man 3is admirably stripped-down, but in others it’s overly outlandish, while the constant puncturing of half-serious moments is overdone."





So there you have it, mostly positive so far, with a couple critics with slight hesitations. My girlfriends birthday is the Friday "Iron Man 3" gets released nationwide, and I have already told her I am taking her to see it as apart of her birthday. So expect my take on "Iron Man 3" very soon.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Essentials- Crimes and Misdemeanors 1989


The Essentials- #2
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

That awkward moment when you find out you were responsible for your mistress' murder.

"The Essentials" is a special column that will feature some of my favorite films of all time and films that I personally feel are classics. The movies featured in “The Essentials” are films that I could not imagine living without. I sincerely hope to open readers up to new, wonderful experiences.

I’ll say this again, the eyes of God see all. Listen to me Judah, there is absolutely nothing that escapes his sight. He sees the righteous and he sees the wicked. The righteous will be rewarded, but the wicked will be punished…for eternity.”

The quote above is from the father of Judah Rosenthal. One of the central characters of Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” This film unravels a story about morality, faith, and making wrong choices for all the wrong reasons. Judah Rosenthal is a success. He possesses great wealth through his medical work. He’s got a wife who adores him, a close family and many friends. What Judah unfortunately also has is a mistress who is edging closer to exposing herself to Judah’s wife.

Judah consults one of his patients named Ben about his personal problems, a man who ironically happens to be a rabbi. He believes Judah should confess his affair to his wife, but Judah feels it will not only ruin his marriage but his image in his community. The audience, however, is compelled to wonder about Judah’s true motives. How much does he really care about his wife versus his image?

Ben, the rabbi, is also the brother-in-law to a documentary filmmaker named Cliff Stern. Stern’s marriage is beginning to go downhill and he’s been out of work for many years. At the start of the film, he is offered work from his wife’s other brother, Lester. Lester is a cocky big time producer who has many Emmys and his success has left him smug. It is clear that Cliff and Lester hate each other, and Cliff only works with Lester for the money. Their feud boils over when they both try to win the heart of the same girl.

The story is a back and forth between the lives of Judah and Cliff. Judah reaches a breaking point leading a double life, and consults his brother who has connections to the mafia. He wants to be free of his mistress. He wonders though, is murder the answer? Cliff is the nice guy, and obviously we want him to get the girl in the end. But how much luck does favor him against a guy who is a rich success?

The cast includes: Martin Landau as Judah Rosenthal, Woody Allen as Cliff Stern, Alan Alda as Lester and Sam Waterston as Ben the rabbi. The film also features Anjelica Houston as Dolores (the girl having the affair with Judah) and Mia Farrow as Hailee Reed (the girl who Cliff and Lester compete for). The whole cast shines in the film and every performance is done just right.

Woody Allen is the key man behind this film. Not only does he play a central character, but he also wrote and directed the film as well. As a lifelong Woody Allen fan, I am pleased to report this is one of his very best movies. The movie is particularly well written and pleasantly stocked with humorous scenes that will make you laugh. Don’t be fooled though! This film falls first and foremost within the drama genre and earnestly commits to its seriousness.

The secret weapon to this movie is the story. It unorthodoxly features a character that views murder in a positive light. Another character goes blind and commits suicide. Divorce and the struggle to obtain love are other interesting side plots that this film depicts. Oddly enough, the only people whom are successful in the film are jerks. Evil and sorrow plague each character we root for in the film. If the eyes of God are on them always, what does that say about God? “Crimes and Misdemeanors" is a blisteringly angry film. A tale which celebrates an existentialist ideal. Yet it is an instant classic which deserves to be seen.

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Emma Watson grows up fast in the new trailer for "The Bling Ring"


The Bling Ring Trailer
It looks like 2013 will be defined as the year when innocent actresses grow up. Earlier this year Selena Gomez appeared in “Spring Breakers,” a film filled with guns and drugs. Today, a new trailer hit the internet: “The Bling Ring”. This film stars Emma “Hermione” Watson and centers on a group of young friends who want more out of their lives. The group decides to crash celebrity parties and rob the stars blind.  Going off of the trailer, it seems the heist goes more wrong than right. Now, if another young actress was playing this role, I’d probably be laughing at this entire plot. Watson, however, might actually bring more depth to this role. That alone is worth checking out!



  
I enjoyed the trailer and I am even more intrigued after I discovered that it was written and directed by Sophia Coppola (daughter of famous Francis Ford Coppola). I will be curious to see the film when it is released.
“The Bling Ring” will be released on June 14th 2013.

"Thor: The Dark World" trailer looks awesome, action-packed, and well...dark



Last week I posted the first look at "Thor: The Dark World" poster and confirmed that the first trailer would show in front of Iron Man 3. Looks like we aren't going to have to wait that long.

Check it out!


Awesome! It looks like its going to be really good. November can't come soon enough!

Thor: The Dark World opens November 8th 2013

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Overlooked Film of the Week- #2

The Master (2012)


Through studying history throughout college and having a keen interest in it my whole life, I know and understand a great deal about the aftershock of men who had fought in a major war, particularly the world wars. Most men did not come back the same. Something was missing. It was as if they lost a part of themselves on the battlefield. One of the most horrific changes came from war. Many men turned to vices (e.g. alcohol). They desperately tried to find something that would help them make sense of the world again. Some men even found religion, or in more unfortunate scenarios, a cult.

"The Master" is the latest film from director Paul Thomas Anderson. It is a sprawling motion picture. The movie feels weird and strange, but somehow addicting at the same time. The cinematography is beautiful and the acting is top notch. 

There were many ideas which brought "The Master" to life. There were lots of bizarre tales meshed together to create an odd yet empowering film. Anderson used omitted scenes from his 2007 picture "There Will Be Blood," stories from a co-worker about his Navy drinking days as well as the early life of L. Ron Hubbard (the creator of Scientology). The early days of Scientology create the canvass of the entire picture. It is interesting how both the real and the fantasy parallel together.

We follow the days of Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a loner, serving in the Navy. Quell mostly keeps to himself, but he has a talent for creating strange cocktails from the most bizarre ingredients. He takes part in a huge series of odd-jobs until one night, intoxicated, he stumbles on the boat belonging to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd takes an instant interest in Quell and begins to initiate him into "The Cause", a mysterious philosophical movement in which Dodd is the creator and leader of. 

This is where I began to draw parallels to Scientology. One of the films first intense scenes is shared between Hoffman and Phoenix. Dodd uses a technique called "processing"(a type of psychological therapy through rigorous questioning) in hopes to cure past traumas. Quell is immediately drawn to Dodd and becomes deeply indebted into "The Cause". 

As you read the name Joaquin Phoenix you are probably wondering where he has been the last ten years. Everyone may recall that he took a "break" from acting roughly in 2006-2010. I put break in quotations because he, in fact, took no break. He told the whole world that he wanted to pursue a rap career. It all turned out to be a front for a faux documentary entitled "I'm Still Here" which came out in 2010. It was definitely a waste of a few years, but something seemed to have woken up deep inside Phoenix. His character Quell in this movie is by far his most exceptional role.  This year during the Oscars, the award for Lead Actor was a close call between Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis. In my opinion, the other three nominees had no chance. Phoenix had to have lost by the inch of his teeth. (And also by his poor award circuit attitude.)

The rest of the cast does incredible work. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as I have stated before, is a National Treasure. Hoffman absorbs himself into the role of Dodd. Amy Adams plays Dodd's wife with absolute fierceness. Laura Dern has had a lengthy career, but is still no household name. She plays Helen, another member of "The Cause". Dern is actually one of my favorite actresses. She has had a great career, spanning from a bizarre avalanche of David Lynch films to the more mainstream "Jurassic Park" then to the thoughtful "October Sky." She is exceptionally good in this role. Laura Dern is name you'll read quite a bit about in my blogs.

John Greenwood, of the band Radiohead, composed the music for the film. The music is both haunting, melancholy, and epic all at once.  The costumes and look of 50's America is breathtakingly realistic. I personally feel the production and costume design for this film was unjustly ignored in the 2013 awards ceremonies.

Overall, what drives me toward "The Master" is the story underneath it all. This is a great character study about a man lost in a world he doesn't recognize. He is doing his best to make sense of the world he left behind to fight the war. There is a scene early in the film where a Naval Commander is telling a room full of sailors about all the possibilities they have after the war. The point Anderson in this scene is making is that the Naval Commander's speech is invalid if the sailors are no longer in touch with the lives they left behind. This is the reason so many people turn to religion. People want answers and will do anything to find them.

Paul Thomas Anderson has had a great career as a director so far. From "Boogie Nights" to "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Magnolia" to "There Will Be Blood," no movie in his entire career feels like anything else he's done in the past. He is unique man and I can't wait to see what he does next.

The Master is now available on blu ray and DVD.


Compelling New "Star Trek Into Darkness" trailer heightens interest...

At the beginning of the year, there weren't too many movies I was anticipating more than "Star Trek Into Darkness." I felt the 2009 reboot was a huge surprise! I loved "Star Trek" quite a bit and this sequel looks grittier, more intense, and more compelling compared to the first. I am A-okay with that.

Back in December I graduated from college.  My Mom, Dad, and older Brother were all in town to celebrate. After much feasting and celebrating, my brother and I caught "The Hobbit" in 3D. Now, I usually don't like 3D, but I HAD to check out the 9-minute preview for Star Trek 2...and it was worth it!

I think this new trailer confirms that we are in for one hell of a summer this year, and I cannot wait to check this out.

Chills...HUGE chills.

This film is marked as something I CANNOT wait for. I hope you have enjoyed this as it has developed as much as I have.

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS will hit theaters on May 17th 2013
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WEEKLY TOP 10- #2

THE TEN ACTION HEROES WHO SHOULD APPEAR IN EXPENDABLES 3- SPECIAL EDITION!

I know, I know. I just posted my first ever Weekly top ten just last night. But this idea I have kept in the back of my mind for a few months now. I reported last week on some casting rumors circling Expendables 3 and felt I needed to blog MY personal, all-star, DREAM Expendables 3 cast!

The following list is pretty simple. There has been a lot of buzz around the casting of Expendables 3. That has become pretty much standard operating procedure for Stallone these days. We learned early last winter about Jackie Chan's confirmed involvement, and last week we learned that Wesley Snipes will be in on the ensemble too. There is small talk of Mel Gibson directing the third film and Mickey Rourke making a return as Tool. So I thought to myself, what if I was Stallone, who would I want to make sure was apart of the third film. With all of the action stars in and out of the two movies so far, it would seem that Stallone has covered all of his bases. Let me tell you, he has barely scratched the surface. There are a ton of action stars, old and new, which make this growing franchise one to remember. Below is a Special Edition! You will be getting TWO top 10 lists: one made up of male action stars and one made up of female action stars whom I believe would make the third installment of this franchise 100 times better.

TOP TEN MALE ACTION STARS FOR EXPENDABLES 3

10. THE ENTIRE CAST OF "SPARTACUS"
There aren't a whole heck of a lot of television shows that I pay attention to regularly, but there are a few. Spartacus is, OF COURSE, among them. It's action packed, sexy, stylish, and has a tremendous amount of acting talent. I feel that all the actors involved are fantastic and have really come into their own throughout the seasons of the show. I also feel, with the right attention, most of them could become exceptional action heroes. I know they have been playing with swords the last few years, but each of them would be just as cool with assault rifles.

9. CHOW YUN-FAT
So far we have had Jet Li appear in these films and Jackie Chan will be in the third adventure. Now... how awesome would it be if Stallone got the third most awesome Asian American action star? Yun-Fat has been featured in some of the coolest action and kung-fu movies ever made, however, he seems to be missing from the limelight lately. What a better way to make a comeback then to become an Expendable?? And wouldn't it be awesome if Yun-Fat, Chan and Li had a three-way fight scene? I think so!

8. DANIEL CRAIG
That's right...Craig, Daniel Craig. Whether you liked his run as 007 or hated it, one thing is for sure, he has made it his own. I personally think he is rocking it! I am hoping he makes as many appearances as the spy as possible. It saddens me to think about the fact that Stallone has yet to include an Bond actor in this franchise. This got me thinking...since Connery and Moore retired, Lazenby doesn't exist anymore, and Brosnan and Dalton aren't really in the action scene anymore, this makes Craig the perfect guy to fit the bill!

7. VIN DIESEL
This to me seems like a no brainer. Besides his "Furious" and "Riddick" franchises; Diesel's career has slowed down quite a bit over the past few years. So why not join a crazy action ensemble with the best of them? It seems like a great way revitalize his career, AND he would fit right in with the boys. This would be a great way to blend some newer age action stars with the old favorites.

6. KIEFER SUTHERLAND
So far, The Expendables franchise has featured the biggest B.A.'s from the 70's and 80's (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme), today (Crews, Statham, Adkins), wrestling (Steve Austin) and sports (Courture, Daniels). So why not bring the biggest action name from TV? Who else would I be talking about other than Jack Bauer himself? And because 24 is not airing any longer, what else better does Sutherland have to do with his time?

5. MICHAEL IRONSIDE
How Ironside hasn't been asked to be a villain in this franchise yet is flabbergasting. In the 70's, 80's and early 90's, Ironside was one of the go-to guys for action film villainy. Nowadays he has just taken small character roles and cameos in random films. I feel its about time for him to get back to his evil roots. What's a better way to do this than standing against Stallone and his band of Mercs?

4. RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON
Come on. If you included the Texas Ranger, Rambo, The Terminator, and John McClane so far, how on Earth has Macgyver NOT been asked? He could be the team's super awesome gadget guy! Am I the only one who has fantasized about this? Sure he's old, but so is more than half the cast! Of course he could do it!

3. SAMUEL L. JACKSON
He is the KING of cool! Most of his career has been within the action realm. So I don't see how he wouldn't be a perfect fit for this franchise. Plus, if you know Jackson at all, you know he does 10,000,000 projects every year. He does NOT say no. He stars in everything that seemingly gets thrown at him. So if Stallone offered, I highly doubt it would be a no. 

2. CLINT EASTWOOD
I know Stallone has been flirting with the idea of talking to Eastwood about the franchise. This spurs hope! I think Eastwood would be an excellent addition to the franchise and would bring some more old favorites to the series.

1. HARRISON FORD
He is Indiana Jones! He is Han Solo! He should have been in the first movie for Christ's sake! Ford is one of those actors that has defined what it means to be a man's man. To me, he is the macho of macho. So where the heck is he in this franchise?? It's about time for him to get recruited into the group...



AND NOW OFF TO THE SECOND LIST.

TOP TEN FEMALE ACTORS FOR EXPENDABLES 3
I feel that the women in this series have been pretty scarce so far. So I decided to make a list of tough actresses who would definitely fit the bill for this franchise. Take a LOOK!

10. ZOE BELL
In case you don't know her. She's a stunt-woman who has been taking short turns in acting, primarily action films. She was Uma's stunt double ten years ago for Kill Bill. In a special, behind the scenes sneak peek for Kill Bill, Bell was shown slicing 5 fastballs being thrown at her in half with a kitana! That ALONE is a resume good enough for a movie like this.

9. MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ
Over the years, Rodriguez has proven herself to be one tough chick. It is blatantly clear how awesome she is in the action genre. She'd fit right into this franchise. Her filmography speaks for itself!

8. ANGELINA JOLIE
Yeah, I know...she is kind of weird, but a slue of her work comes from the action genre. There are indeed little pockets of greatness in her work within genre. Whether you like her or not, she is an iconic face in the world of action cinema and she should be apart of this franchise.

7. MICHELLE YEOH
Yeoh has had quite a career in kung-fu and other action films. She would be a perfect fit for the franchise. Also, a nice reunion between Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat would be a lot of fun.

6. LUCY LAWLESS
OF COURSE Xena the Warrior Princess should be in the third movie! And now is a perfect time for her to join the fun of the franchise. After her career rebooted with her involvement in the first few seasons of Spartacus, she is now ready to jump back into the action genre once more. I can't think of a better movie to revamp her career with!

5. KATE BECKINSALE
The most fun part of Stallone's action series is the blending of old and new action icons. I think it would only be fair to do the same with the female cast. Beckinsale has proven over the years that she is spectacular in the action genre. Her involvement in this franchise would only highlight what she does best, kick some major ass!

4. MILLA JOVOVICH
All I can say is that she is clearly the queen of action cinema right now! Stallone needs to talk to her ASAP!

3. PAM GRIER
If Samuel L. Jackson is the king of cool, Pam Grier would undoubtedly be the queen of cool. She had a great career in action in the 1970's through the 1990s, but her career has hit a void lately. A great way to reboot her career and get back in the action game would be to join Stallone and the other Expendables on their next adventure!

2. LINDA HAMILTON
Yep, I firmly believe that Sarah Connor herself deserves to be apart of this franchise. Although she's been out of the limelight for awhile, she is still a great actress and desperately needs to resurface.

1. SIGOURNEY WEAVER
You can't destroy the mother of all aliens, single-handedly, and NOT win a badge of honor for it. When I think back on all of my personal favorite female action characters, Ripley from the Alien saga is the first one at the top of the list. Weaver is still a phenomenal actress, she still looks great, and most of all she is STILL kicking butt. I think all three of those characteristics qualify her for this franchise.

That wraps up this special edition of Weekly Top ten

Some Honorable Mentions include:

The Rock, Keanu Reeves, Nic Cage, John Travolta, Carrie Ann-Moss, Tom Hardy, Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Luke Gross, Danny Trejo and so many more. I hope this franchise continues to make lots of money and hopefully Stallone will make nine more movies in the series.