Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekly Top Ten- My Favorite Zombie Movies

Weekly Top Ten-#11

My Ten Favorite Zombie movies

In the wake of seeing "World War Z" last week, I thought I would sit down and share my ten favorite zombie movies. As I mentioned in that review, I love the world of zombies. I love them in every form of media, not just movies..but novels, games, television, all media. I think it's fun how new artists find ways to keep them interesting and unique. I want to celebrate them with a little list.

10. Planet Terror (2007)
Just look at the image above and try to convince me your not interested. "Grindhouse" was one of the most fun and unique film experiences I had in the last ten years, and the very first segment really set the stage of what we would experience. About a military gas that somehow gets leaked to the public, the zombies really aren't the coolest thing. When you've got crazy lesbian nurses, chicks with machine gun legs, and trucker who somehow knows a variety of fighting styles...there is so much to love about this crazy film!

9. Dawn of the Dead remake (2004)
I think I was as shocked as anybody by just how well this one worked. Sure, remakes are tough sells, but somehow Zack Snyder was able to make this remake matter. Featuring a great cast and some iconic zombie moments, the film captures a realistic look of how our world might look if something like this were to happen. And it does with savage mastery of its genre.

8. Evil Dead II (1987)
One of the biggest appeals to the zombie genre is just how much a filmmaker can do with it. Sometimes zombies are menacing and scary, and other times they make us all laugh. "Evil Dead II" and its entire series forms to the latter. There will be other movies on this list with a comedic approach, but there is no argument that this is one of the best examples.

7. Re-Animator (1985)
Like I mentioned above, zombies and comedy walk a very thin line. I believe "Re-animator" had some of the most classic comedic scenes involving zombies. These scenes are not just essential to the zombie genre, but also all of the 1980's. Nobody has tried to imitate images like these, which proves how special "Re-animator" really is. One crazy ride.

6. Zombieland (2009)
Jesse Eisenbery, Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone shine in this awesome zombie flicks. Giving us survival rules, featuring a Bill Murray cameo, and plenty of laughs. This richly imagined zombie flick is a classic among the herd.

5. Zombie (1979)
Probably one of the craziest scenes in all of zombie movies is when a zombie goes underwater and gets into a fight with a shark. The zombie bites the shark, and then the shark goes undead and bites the shark...its one of the geekiest moments out there and that is just one of many scenes to enjoy from Zombie!


4. 28 Days Later (2003)
Another hyper-realistic take on the zombie genre. This is an incredibly intense, realistic looking movie. It feels like somebody had a camera available and shot this whole thing in real time. The movie is amazing with iconic scenes and startling horror.

3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Director George A. Romero is the God of the zombie genre. His first film was not only a zombie movie but a piercing portrait of social commentary. Featured an African American lead actor, which was radical given the time period. This movie had a lot to say about our culture and society. It ranks this high for being relentless and also brainy.

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A hilarious summation of the zombie genre as a whole, "Shaun" is also great because not only does it give us zombies, plenty of them. But we also have a great journey between the characters, and the movie never waivers from their adventure. This movie has a lot of heart and soul, which is something I would not say about a number of zombie movies, that is why it is so high.

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
When I think of zombie movies, this version of "Dawn of the Dead" is the movie that always comes to mind. Once again, George A. Romero creates a horror classic with something to say. About our consumer culture and it displaces a haunting shadow on our society. It's great stuff, hefty for a horror film. But I love every minute of it every time I watch it.










The Essentials- "Young Frankenstein" (1974)

The Essentials- #11

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Of all the comedic geniuses in the whole lifetime of the human race, I firmly believe that Mel Brooks is one of the best. He created comedic cinematic gold nearly every time he sat down in the director's chair. Mel Brooks represents what spoof filming is all about. Somebody can parody a movie and still make it a genuine, intelligent experience with heart and soul. "Young Frankenstein" is a classic of the genre and something that I've proudly had in my life for awhile now.

From the opening titles, listening to the film's score and approaching the old manor in Transylvania, I knew "Young Frankenstein" had me. Turns out at Mel Brooks was only getting started. As we meet Dr. Victor Frankenstein (or is it Frankensteen?) the American descendant of the infamous Dr. Frankenstein from the 1930's horror classic. Brooks turns up the snickers early on, they are sharp, baffling laughs. Seems our young Victor Frankenstein is invited Transylvania to read the will of his great grandfather.

When he gets to Transylvania, he is escorted by Igor (or is it I-GOR?) to his great grandfathers home, where he is tricked (sort of) by the house maid Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman) into continuing his grandfather's work. He creates a monster and well...you get the rest. These spoofs are usually funny retelling of the same stories, but what Brooks could do well is really capture the essence of the story he was parodying. In this case, "Frankenstein" is very well channeled in the story, and Brooks really creates great laughs.

Gene Wilder plays the young Victor Frankenstein. Wilder is a wonderful comedic actor and this film was absolutely one of his career's highlights. Marty Feldman plays "eye-gor" and he nearly steals the show (will get to the film-stealing in just a minute.) delivering a great performance. Cloris Leachman is also a great actress for comedy and her Frau Blucher will make you laugh the whole running time. Kenneth Mars shows up as Inspector Kemp. A man with a fake arm which was ripped out by the first monster the Frankenstein's created. He's got the juiciest lines and mannerisms which will make you impersonate him many months after you see the film. Peter Boyle is great as the monster, and Teri Garr as Inga, Dr. Frankenstein's new assistant is great too.

Who steals the show is Madelin Kahn. A great comedic actress who was featured in other films by Mel Brooks. She creates great comedy energy. Her character is Elizabeth, who is Dr. Frankenstein fiancee. Their farewell to each other before Dr. Frankenstein leaves for Transylvania is one of the film's highlights, absolutely hilarious. Another great highlight is when Elizabeth goes to Transylvania and gets kidnapped by The Monster. Their scene in the woods is so richly bananas that it will make you cry through laughter.

What makes "Young Frankenstein" work is how well Brooks seemed to understand his material. It is clear as you watch this movie how well Brooks absorbed the Universal horror films. This is a fine example of what a spoof movie is all about. In a world where we are mentally exhausted from the new Scary Movie franchise,  "Meet The Spartans," "Epic Movie," "Disaster Movie," "Superhero Movie" and the like of other spoof dreck we get every once in awhile, it is great that examples like this exist to show the true nature of the sub-genre. I know this classic will live on for many years to come. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Oz: The Great and Powerful Review

Oz: The Great and Powerful Review

The 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" is clearly a classic. It's a film that I love very much, it works every time I sit down to watch it. Its a movie I began to like when I was very young and it carried over into my adulthood. As I grew up, I wondered just how all of these Oz characters came to like or dislike each other. And how Dorothy got all caught up in the mix. In 2013, Disney created a prequel story about how Oz became the wizard he is and how a group of witches became either good or evil.

Sadly, for the most part, "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is neither great nor powerful.

First lets talk about the good stuff. Peter Deming's cinematography is lush and beautiful. After all the "Lord of the Rings" and "Avatars" we expect a certain degree of class with our special effects. The film is not lacking in that department and is a visual feast. Rachel Weisz is great as the Evanora, and she'll be great again. Equally good in their role is Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good. The opening credits sequence is cool and nostalgic. And the little aspects which remind us of the 1939 film (i.e. going from black and white to color, and all the easter eggs in between) made me smile.

However, the film doesn't have much more going for it. The story is fairly straightforward. Oscar aka "Oz" is ambitious yet poor and failing magician in a traveling circus. He wants to be the best magician he can but he keeps coming up short. Not only he not too hot in the magical world but also in the world of girls. As a jealous boyfriend chases him into a hot air balloon, Oz is off and running into a tornado. He appears in the world of Oz, where a prophecy states that a wizard that shares the name of the realm will defeat the evil witch and restore order in the world.

Like I said its a pretty easy story to get right, and definitely something that can appeal to both children and adults. Another thing the film does well is directing this story towards the whole family. The only sad part is the movie as whole is not interesting at all. The script by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire is painfully written and doesn't feature a single neat idea or memorable line. Most of the dialogue is rather laughable to listen to. 

This film was directed by Sam Raimi who directed the first Spiderman franchise, a franchise which also featured James Franco. After seeing all three movies in Raimi's Spiderman franchise as well as his "Oz" movie, its clear that Franco is only successful under proper direction. Franco's performance falls pretty flat the entire running time. It's too bad because I know what Franco is capable of it just seems like Raimi can't show us that capability. It's a huge disappointment for lead role in a major fantasy vehicle. Mila Kunis feels drastically miscast as Thedora, who's big revelations I dare not reveal. All I will say is the performance overall isn't worth much discussion.

There are also small decisions made in this film which don't make a lot of sense. Not only does Michelle Williams play Glinda the Good, but also a Kansas girl Oz had a crush on before leaving on his balloon. Zach Braff plays Oz's assistant in Kansas then delivers the voice of a small monkey who befriends Oz. The parallels of each universe are never explained so it just comes off puzzling. The legendary "gifts" that Oz gives his friends at the end of the film are so incredibly weird that my girlfriend and her friends snickered as they were announced. All of these characteristics make "Great and Powerful" a film experience which is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

For a guy that directed both the "Evil Dead" and "Spiderman" series of films, "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is a wrongheaded disappointment. I only hope Disney lets this one go for a while, and consider never letting it resurface. After the live-action debutes of both "Alice in Wonderland" and now "Oz," I don't have a lot of faith in the "Cinderella" movie and perhaps Disney should think about leaving their classics alone.


FINAL GRADE: C 


Overlooked Film of the Week- "The Experiment" (2010)

Overlooked Film of the Week-#11

The Experiment

We are defined by the uniforms we wear. Police uniforms, security uniforms and army uniforms seem to carry power. Even a suit and a tie can carry a certain degree of prestige. While most blue-collar work doesn't seem to carry the respect that it deserves in some cases. The amount of power we have in our personal lives defines who we are in ways I believe most of us don't really understand.

"The Experiment" is a movie about just that, an experiment which takes place in a state penitentiary. (The story itself is based upon a 1971 Standford University experiment which went drastically wrong.) A group of men are tested at random and are randomly selected to be prisoners and guards. They are all assured by scientists conducting the experiment that they will be safe. But come on, you really think that is in store for the characters? All of these men volunteer for the experiment for a two week period, after which they each will be paid a $1,400 fee for their participation.

One of the volunteers is Travis (Adrien Brody) a man who is very down on his luck. He wants to go on a trip to India with a lady friend (Maggie Grace) but has no money to do so. He is one of the men selected for the experiment. As the bus pulls up to pick up the selected candidates, Travis makes small talk with Michael Barris (Forest Whitaker) another selected candidate. They seem to hit it off right away, when the candidates make it to the makeshift prison, Travis becomes a prisoner, and Barris a guard.

The guards are given strict orders to keep order within the prison or the experiment is cancelled and nobody gets paid. However, no violence of any kind can be used. You'd think they would all agree to have a great run with the experiment and treat each other with respect. But of course, that would not make for a really exciting movie now would it?

At first, the prisoners pretty much run the show. The guards completely dumbfounded on how to sustain the situation without hitting someone with their nightsticks. Barris suggests to treat the prison like a frat house initiation, intimidating the prisoners with prank-style punishments. However the punishments get much more harsher for the prisoners. As things get worse, the experiment doesn't end. So is this what the scientists wanted all along? A thesis on human nature? Travis and Barris become leaders of two separate factions which leads to all sorts of trouble.

For a direct-to-video movie, I am shocked at how effective the movie is overall. Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker make the most of their material and create something instantly memorable. The rest of the cast does good work. Cam Gigandet is a young actor who seemed to be apart of everything between the years of 2010 and 2012 then disappeared. He is ultra freaky as a cocky guard who volunteers for the experiment due to his sick animal urges. Clifton Collins Jr is equally creepy as a prisoner who actually spent time in a real penitentiary and was apart of the Aryan Brotherhood. You really got to give to this cast of actors which make this story matter more than it could have.

The film opens with lots of imagery of animals attacking one another. Then quick snippets of humans hurting each other. This movie clearly wants us to think about what drives us to be civilized and what makes us lose complete control. With Barris' character in particular. We learn right away, that he is a strict Mama's boy who never got out much in his 42 years of life. When he finally assumes power over someone, its a powerful experience which he doesn't want to let go of. If we all gained a little bit of unearned power, would we all become corrupt, power-hungry assholes?

Big questions, great acting and tense situations all make "The Experiment" very memorable and worth check out.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

World War Z Review

World War Z Review

I am going to admit something before we get too far in this review: I have a huge soft spot for zombies. They are ridiculous yes, but there is something so fun about them when used right. I have loved just about every George A. Romero zombie movie. I think Zack Snyder did a pretty good job with the "Dawn of the Dead" remake. I love "Shaun of Dead" with a heart of passion. I think "The Walking Dead" is not only a great television series, but a great comic series too. I love Xbox nights with "Left 4 Dead." "28 Days Later" was a clever new take on the genre and so was Stephen King's "Cell."

"World War Z" was an equally unique book. Written by Max Brooks, the son of Mel Brooks. Max has a keen voice and made something outside-the-box with familiar material. If you ever get a chance to get your hands on the book, read it cover to cover. I bring this all up with warning. The 2013 movie "World War Z" is absolutely nowhere in sync with the book. The movie is its own thing, almost completely separate, with the "WWZ" name slapped on it. So don't expect to compare and contrast the parallels if you are a fan of the book.

Since about 2007, there has been a "World War Z" movie trying to get on its feet. After all the script rewrites, production studio battles, and development hell, I was curious to see how this final product would play out. Overall, its not bad. For the summer season, this will surely be a fun ticket to buy. It's just not something I'd call great. Each piece of media I mentioned above I'd prefer to see over "World War Z."

Even though the film is a lot of fun, there are two glaring problems with the movie. I think they are both equally important in bringing a zombie movie to life. First of all, there is a problem with zombies. I don't care if zombies can run. "28 Days Later," and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake made it clear that zombies could run. But when they are running so fast you can't make out what they look like, I think that is a problem. The zombies in this movie travel in supersonic herds. They come off as a horde of CGI ants. Which was something of a letdown. Sure, there are quiet moments, when we get a good look at a few of them. Still, they are quick moments that don't add up to much.

So okay, we have enemies that look phony. If the studio still managed to tell a great story, I could possibly give the zombies a pass. Except this story is pretty episodic and quick. Sometimes I felt like I was watching a friend play a video game. When Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family are attacked by zombies in New Jersey, they quickly leave the state and are sent to shipping vessels in the Atlantic Ocean. Lane was a former UN employee and he chosen to go around the world to find a way to stop the zombie onslaught. Why he is chosen, I don't know. I guess he was "the chosen one" or something.

Gerry Lane goes to about three or four different countries. And I'll be honest, they feel like mission checkpoints. He sets foot off a helicopter and begins running, shooting zombies here and there. He meets a specific character which gives him a small piece of information with which Lane will have to use in another country. Lane will then run back to the helicopter to go to the next destination, and shoot zombies here and there. This to me feels like the very essence of a video game, and we all know that playing the game is more fun then watching someone else play it.

Brad Pitt is fine as Gerry Lane. The only thing is Gerry Lane isn't very much of a character. I know some zombie movies are known to be lacking in character development, but its almost painful with "World War Z." Most characters seem to enter and exit before we really get to know them and I found that to be rather distracting. Even the relationship between Gerry Lane and his family isn't fleshed out at all. These are the characters we are really suppose to identify with. But they are all so lifeless that they end up feeling like zombies too.

By now, your probably wondering what the good stuff is? Some of the big action set pieces are very fun to watch. I really like the opening scene when Gerry Lane and his family are stuck in traffic. There are some memorable scenes hidden in the big action set pieces that I liked very much. I liked that "World War Z" shows the audience the epidemic happening all over the world. The only characteristic from the book that is featured in the movie is that this story is international. That was something I always hoped to see in a zombie movie and I think it was handled fairly well. Even though the zombies are hard to pinpoint, they have some imagery which was pretty memorable. And even though Brad Pitt is a non-character from the start, he has enough charisma to coast through the movie with.

"World War Z" feels like a summer movie, but one with which we will likely forget after a couple more movies later this season. It has good action beats within its running time, but story-wise the film comes up a little short. I also just wished we had some interesting looking zombies, instead CGI undead versions of "The Flash." But don't get me wrong, there is enough fun here for a decent time at the theater, and in the season of dumb fun, "World War Z" may fit the bill perfectly. But if you are a fan of the book, you maybe bitterly disappointed with this movie. I hope in about 20 or so years, a studio actually tries a true adaptation of the book. I personally think it would work best as a mockumentary, but that's just me. I dream that the real story will be done justice. Until then, this is at least a fun start.


FINAL GRADE: B-/C+






Vin Diesel had a meeting today...

Marvel Studios requested a meeting with Vin Diesel

Well this is pretty exciting.

Vin Diesel is an actor I have always enjoyed onscreen. However, I feel like aside from a couple franchises he's linked to, he doesn't work. So because I am a Diesel fan, as well as a Marvel superfan, I was pleased to read an article today from our friends at joblo.com.

According to Vin Diesel's Facebook, the actor mentioned that Marvel Studios "requested a meeting" with him. "Not sure what for...haha you probably know better than me" the actor finished. I am really excited and I hope he can reach an agreement with the studio.

Now who on Earth is he potentially playing? Somebody in MCU Phase Three perhaps? Diesel looks like Luke Cage, could that hero be a possibility? Will he even be a hero, maybe a villain?

Maybe he isn't being attached to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Perhaps one of the Amazing Spiderman sequels? Or the Fantastic Four reboot? Or an X-Men movie? Or something completely unrelated to any of those franchises. This whole thing is pretty much up in the air right now, and that's pretty cool.


I'll be keeping up as this story as continues to materialize.

SOURCES:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Parker Review

Parker Review

The picture above is indeed from the movie "Parker," although I could understand how people could get it confused with every other movie in the actor's career.

I really like Jason Statham as a person. Listening to him in interviews and such, he seems like an intelligent, charming guy. If I had one question for the actor, its this. Why is he inclined to make variations of the same movie? Is it an action hero curse to be apart of the same type every film? Is that what draws each action hero back time and time again for the same stereotypes?

Throw J.Lo into the mix and you've got a stomach-turning mess.

The film is pretty straightforward. Parker (Statham) is a a professional thief who gets talked into a job by his mentor Hurley (Nick Nolte). After the job, the crew Parker pulled the job with turns on him and leaves him for dead. Parker ends up being alive, vows revenge, gets a gal-pal in the form of J.Lo to help him. There's some flirting and kissing. Parker catches up with his old crew, gets his revenge. The end. You may think I have spoiled the movie for you, but the only way I did that is if you have never seen a single Statham movie in your life.

If you like the Statham formula, where he plays a smooth operator who knows seemingly limitless amounts fighting styles. If you like your Statham when he is good with the ladies. If you like it when Statham beats the bad guys and has spouts some one-liners. And if you don't mind Jennifer Lopez as an actress. Then you'll fall head over heels for "Parker."

Seriously, Jennifer Lopez needs to stay with her day job. Acting just isn't her bag, and I've got her entire filmography to prove it. Not one time has she performed in a way that even came remotely close to blowing me away. Not one time has she starred in a movie that I could come close to recommending to anyone. She seems like a movie curse, and its going to take something truly, incredibly special to get her out of Movie Jail. Please, somebody stop her before she acts again.

The rest of the performances are fine. Statham is his usual self, so don't expect anything new or invigorating. Nick Nolte is good in the very small role he has, I really wish he had more screen time. I also like Clifton Collin Jr. who plays a member of the crew who betrays Parker, but again, its not nearly enough screen time to show off his true talents. Michael Chiklis shows up as the leader of the crew that betrays Parker, and he brings uncanny life to the main villain of the film. I just wish the script by Donald Westlake gave his character something good to do.

The thing that really annoys me about "Parker" is how confused the movie seems to be. I can't even pinpoint what genre this movie is. At first, we think this will be a fun action film. Then it shifts into darker territory, similar to a standard revenge thriller. Once J.Lo's character jumps in the fray, I began to think romantic- action comedy. Then by the end, once Parker finds his old crew, the movie as well as logic goes every which way. The movie turns so dark that I felt I was watching an episode of Law & Order. There are random, disturbing scenes of abuse and near-molestation of a woman. It feels very out of place, especially after all we have seen from the movie thus far. I felt I needed to exit my ITunes browser to make sure I was watching what I was watching.

I'm sure Statham will continue to push out similar action thrillers, where he plays the same character over and over again. I guess he doesn't care about character development or acting range when he's being paid millions of dollars. I hope one day, he'll take into account what could make his career better. When and if he does, I think we'll be richer for it.

FINAL GRADE: D-

Jobs Trailer

Jobs Trailer

I have always been interested in the story of Steve Jobs and all he did for Apple Computers. It looks like Hollywood thought the same thing, because a movie about his life is coming late this summer. The stars Ashton Kutcher, in what looks like a role of his career. In the trailer below, I hope you agree that he looks pretty good in this.

Check it out.


I'll be looking forward to this, how about you?

Jobs hits theaters on August 16th 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cast This!

Cast This!
This is another edition of Cast This! Where I look at casting rumors, both true and unconfirmed for movies of all types. Here's whats in the rumor mill as of this point...

The Rock in Terminator 5?
It was reported all over the internet last week that a Terminator 5 was happening and that Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to star. He reported that he would return as the Terminator. However, a conflicting report has said differently. A few days ago, it was reported that The Rock was rumored to join the film as the Terminator...to do battle against Schwarzenegger in the 1940's or 1950's? Yep, I had to check the calendar to make sure we weren't anywhere close to April 1st too. Read the description below:

"Incredibly, Schwarzenegger may not play of a machine in the next film, but a potentially heroic human figure in or close to the Connor family. One theory is that Schwarzenegger's remarkable ability to protect the Connor family in the 1940's or 1950's with antiquated weaponry by today's standards ultimately inspired the machines to develop a terminator in his likeness that was eventually sent to 1984 when Sarah Connor was first targeted for termination"

A big theory if it is true. I personally thought "Terminator: Salvation" was just okay. And I think the Terminator franchise just hasn't flowed the same way without James Cameron. This is a crazy theory, what do you think of it? I love The Rock and him doing battle with Schwarzenegger would be epic to see. We shall find out more as the story progresses. There is no release date for Terminator 5 at this time.




Helena Bonham-Carter to play Fairy Godmother in live-action Cinderella
A couple months ago, I reported that the next big live-action Disney film based on an animated classic would be "Cinderella." It already has Lily James as Cinderella, Cate Blanchett as the Stepmother and Richard Madden as The Prince. Now we have a Fairy Godmother. Helena Bonham-Carter signed on for the role last week.

Bonham-Carter has been in several films including "Fight Club," "Sweeney Todd," "Alice In Wonderland," "Dark Shadows," "The Harry Potter Franchise," and the 2001 remake of "Planet of the Apes." This summer she will appear in "The Lone Ranger." I personally don't care for her as an actress, so my anticipation for this film has toned down a bit. But what do you guys think?

Shailene Woodley out of Amazing Spiderman Franchise...Sarah Gadon in?
We learned last week that Marc Webb, director of "The Amazing Spiderman 2" has dropped Shailene Woodley's Mary Jane Watson from the sequel. He stated that he wanted to focus more on the relationship between Parker and Stacy. However, it is now being reported that Woodley may not return to the character at all.

Her replacement is in talks to be Sarah Gadon. I only know her from the movie "Cosmopolis" with Robert Pattinson. It was a movie I disliked so much that I have pretty much put it out of my memory completely. I don't remember Gadon's character really well, so I can't say if this is a good idea or not. I never cared for Woodley or her stupid teen mom sitcom, although Woodley did look the part a lot more than Gadon does. We shall see if it is true or not.



That's all the casting news I have for today, sound off in the comments section about what you think!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Weekly Top Ten- What I Want To See In Independence Day 2!

Weekly Top Ten- #10

What I Want To See in Independence Day 2
This week, I reported on how a sequel to Independence Day is something that is actually going to happen. And I cannot be happier. The first film has stuck with me my whole life and it is so surreal that we finally are getting a sequel. Especially because director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin have been talking about a sequel for what seems like forever. I am happy that this thing is finally getting started. As a long time ID4 fan, I have fantasized about a sequel. I wondered what it would be like and how it would look. I created a list of things I hope to see in the upcoming sequel. Or sequels, as Emmerich has said that he may create two sequels to make a trilogy.

10. Futuristic Earth

One of the things Emmerich and Devlin have discussed when talking about sequels to ID4 was the change on Earth. The duo has expressed that Earth would look different due to experimenting with the leftover alien technology. I think that is a very cool idea. It would be very imaginative and would help the sequels not become carbon copies of the first film.

9. New Aliens
I think the aliens from ID4 are very scary and unique looking. But if Emmerich and Devlin expand this story and the universe they created, I think it would be cool to see more. I think it would be cool to visit other alien races. Did these aliens create an empire? Was that their goal when they came to Earth? Could the humans find new enemies or perhaps new allies? It's a cool concept and I hope it gets fleshed out.

8. New Alien Weaponry
I think it is possible to see brand new weapons the aliens bring with them to brawl with Earth again. Not just new ships and spacecrafts. But I think it would be cool to see weapons the aliens use for ground warfare. I remember the scene in the first film where one alien used telepathy to get into our heads! What if the aliens had weapons they controlled telepathically? The possibilities are endless, something that could be cool!

7. Jeff Goldblum returns
Let's face it. If something like an alien invasion really did happen, we would need our best minds to help in the effort. Goldblum's character in the first film creates a virus that shutdown the alien's shields so that we could bring the fight to them. It has been confirmed that Bill Pullman will return as President Whitmore and Emmerich says the cast for the sequel will feature half a returning cast and half newbies. I hope one of the returnees is Goldblum. With this and Jurassic Park 4 coming in 2015, it could be a juicy opportunity for Goldblum to return to the mainstream.

6. Judd Hirsch Returns
I loved Judd Hirsch in the first film. His character survived the first film so I say why not. His comic relief never came off cheesy in the first film. He had great chemistry with Jeff Goldblum in the first film. I'd love to see how his character changed from the first film. I would look forward to it.

5. NO WILL SMITH
I know, I know. It has been confirmed that Will Smith will not be participating in the sequel. However, just in case something last minute happens. NO WILL SMITH!

4. Cast Another Star Trek actor!
No doubt, the geekiest part of the first film was knowing that "Data" from Star Trek: The Next Generation played Dr. Okun. It was awesome that someone known from a popular sci/fi was in this movie. I think it would be awesome to get someone else from the Trek universe. Patrick Stewart? William Shatner? Leonard Nimoy? That'd be fun!

3. Adam Baldwin Returns
Adam Baldwin is one of those actors that should be more well known than he is. He has had quite the career so far and ID4 was one of his highlights. His character survived the first film and he obviously has a good relationship with Emmerich (Baldwin was in 2000's "The Patriot" directed by Emmerich). It'd be awesome if his character, Major Mitchell, became an affluent leader of the humans.

2. Modified Military Equipment
The F-18's were cool in the first film. But I don't want the sequel to be a rehash of "Transformers." With the ideas that Emmerich and Delvin are talking about for the sequel, I'd love to see human technology change. Modified military hardware with shields similar to the alien shields from the first film. That would be super cool and something to look forward to.

1. Alien Home world
I don't know about you. But I am wildly curious to see where these aliens came from. What their home planet looks like. What the wildlife and urban structures are like. It would be a great opportunity to go crazy with special effects. Especially after the first film, I really want to see their home planet.


This is what I want to see in a sequel, how about you?









  

Overlooked Film of the Week- "I Melt With You" (2011)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #10

Can a movie be neither good nor bad nor mediocre?

It's safe to say that I have had quite the relationship with "I Melt With You."

On one level, the film is laughably bad. Each of the four men we meet are harboring some kind of secret. Kind of a friendship pact they made in college. When the audience finally realizes what that pact actually is, you hope you misheard it all. Its such a wacky and borderline disturbing reveal that I can hardly fathom how this movie got greenlit. The film's first half is much stronger than its second, as the film begins to tilt towards a incoherent mess, and that big reveal is so cheesy that it makes me laugh. The four friends we meet in this film are not people we root for in the movies, which makes it hard for the audience go along with them and their choices.

On a second level, the acting is wonderful. You can't go wrong with Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay (very underrated by the way) and Jeremy Piven headlining a movie. You just can't. Plus, with Carla Gugino in the mix as well, you've got a great list of actors. This cast really drives this thing, they make this film better than it needs to be. Their performances elevate the material and make it all somehow matter. That's not say that the direction is bad. Mark Pellington is a savage, in-your-face director. It shows with power in this movie. With the direction and performances I could sort of buy into some of the absurdities of the movie.

But let's back up a bit. The film centers around four lifelong college buddies. Their names are Jonathon (Rob Lowe), Richard (Thomas Jane), Ron (Jeremy Piven), and Tim (Christian McKay). Once a year for Tim's birthday, the friends reunite at the Big Sur. They tell stories about former college glories, take lots of drugs, drink lots of alcohol and hit women much too young for them. Each man is suffering from troubles in their lives. Despite, these troubles that haunt each man, one wonders how men in their 40's can party like the men do in this film. Is director Mark Pellington trying to be cool and stylish, or are these men so far brain-dead from their life struggles that they feel they have no other option? It's tough to really get a firm grasp on the answer.

Jonathon is an accomplished doctor, but his divorce has really affected him. He has a young son that identifies with his new daddy and that tears Jonathon apart. Richard was a published author, but several years of writers block now has him teaching high school English. Ron is a successful stockbroker, but is getting in trouble for embezzlement. Then there's Tim, who is an open bisexual. He had a relationship with a man and a woman at the same time, until he caused a car crash that killed both of them. All of these men are very troubled, but are these troubles enough to warrant long nights of drugs, alcohol and acting like complete fools? Its very weird and puzzling, yet so well acted and well directed that it is hard for me to decide if I like this all or not.

The actors bring a lot to the table, and we really feel for the men and their struggle. Even if they do spend their nights partying really hard. Sure, it would be embarrassing to witness actual 40 year old's partaking in such behavior. All of these men have been suffering for a long time, and the performances of the actors I feel really flesh that out. Watching this movie twice, I feel like I have known these men a long time. That feeling is very hard to capture on film so I give the actors credit.

In about the middle of the movie, one of the men commits suicide. Then the audience learns about a pact these friends made in their senior year of college. We don't learn the real description of the pact until the very end of the movie, just whispers of it throughout the film. This is when the film starts to spiral out of control. So much so that I felt there wasn't any merit to end the film with. The pact comes off so silly that it felt like a completely different movie. The characters start making such strange decisions that I almost wanted to turn it off on my first viewing. On my second viewing, I realizes an incredible truth.

There is so much good in this movie that I feel like I should be swooning. Even in the miserable second half of the movie, there is good there. There was bad in the first half and that bad gets more fleshed out in the second half of the movie. The bad is so bad that I feel like I want to vomit. But somehow, I don't feel the film is mediocre. I have always felt that a movie can be more than just good or bad. There are uneven movies that get released every year. In a culture that is very much possesses a  "Love it or hate it" attitude, I find that something doesn't have to be one of the polar opposites. There can be good and bad that can equal a mediocre picture. But with "I Melt With You," its hard for me to say that too. I remember the first time I saw Kevin Smith's "Red State," I felt I was at the same crossroads. However, after watching it three times I found out that the movie was indeed mediocre. Will I feel the same after watching "I Melt With You" more?

I encourage you all to check out "I Melt With You" precisely for this point. I am in dire need of a second opinion. Can a movie be so good yet so bad at the same time that it is not mediocre? Do I need to watch this film more to make a better decision? Or am I just a crazy person who needs a shrink? Am I the only one that has had a cinematic experience like this or does somebody out there know what I am talking about? All I know right now, is that "I Melt With You" is an interesting failure, if I can even call it a failure. It is definitely something I will watch and debate personally for a little while longer.





Saturday, June 22, 2013

Straight A's Review

Straight A's Review

Sometimes, I just don't expect a movie to mysteriously appear and poop right on my face. This is an event which does not occur often. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I am getting into as I sit down to watch a new film. I do not always go into the theater cold turkey. I that can be a fun experiment which I like to partake in every once in awhile, but not all the time. I came across "Straight A's" on Netflix, and got curious. And you know what they say? Curiosity killed the cat.

First of all the story is very bizarre. Scott (Ryan Phillippe) is out of rehab and being stalked by the ghost of his dead mother. His mother's ghost wants him to go back to his hometown and make amends with his estranged brother (Luke Wilson) who happens to be married to Katherine (Anna Paquin) who was Scott's old sweetheart. He comes back to his hometown on a horse ("I got my car taken away" he says). Scott spends a lot of time smoking weed, flirting with Katherine and having his strange visions, all while his brother is away on a business trip.

Predictably, there is also a subplot about Scott getting close to Katherine's kids. At first, as to be expected, they are repulsed by him. Then as time goes on, as to be expected, they start to see him as a father figure. All of this, as to be expected, is happening under Katherine's disaproval. Until Katherine and Scott begin to get close once again. And of course, Luke's character is off doing something he should not be doing as a married man.

I have never been a particular fan of Ryan Phillippe, if you are also not a Phillippe fan either, this film won't turn you over. Its just a null and void performance. Paquin and Wilson do fine, its hard to tell with such a lifeless, weird script that "Straight A's" features. This is just altogether a strange movie that is so boring that it barely feels like a movie at all. It only feels like someone found a camera of strange happenings and called it a movie.

The odd character choices, dull acting and sloppy story all make "Straight A's" a film to progressively avoid. I don't know what writer/director James Cox was thinking. All I know is the next time I see his name attached to something, I will avoid it like the plague.


FINAL GRADE: F

The Last Stand Review

The Last Stand Review

Arnold Schwarzenegger will always be remembered as a legendary action icon. That testament will never cease in my mind for as long as I live. Yeah, he is more of a presence than an actual actor, but he has had some gems in his resume. I love "True Lies." I love Terminator 1 &2. "Total Recall," "The Running Man," "Commando," and "Predator" are all very silly, non-polished films, but there is no denying they are at least fun. When Schwarzenegger went into politics, I never once thought he'd return to film. It kind of felt like the ending of era. But at the dawn of a new decade, perhaps he isn't finished quite yet.

If you go into "The Last Stand" thinking that this will transform Schwarzenegger from who he used to be. If you think this is the start of Schwarzenegger doing darker, edgier stuff. You will be sorely mistaken. "The Last Stand" is a fun movie that is completely in love with itself. Its an imperfect movie with lots of fun, which is basically what we always got from Schwarzenegger. I would not call that a bad thing though.

"The Last Stand" tells a fairly simple story. A former LAPD cop Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has become a sheriff in small town Arizona. He's had rough past, and wanted to retire somewhere with incredibly low crime rates to live out the rest of his criminal justice career. Meanwhile international criminal Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) has escaped FBI custody and plans to drive from Las Vegas to Mexico. Outside Owens' small Arizona town, some of Cortez's henchmen lead by Burell (Peter Stormare) are building a bridge for Cortez to cross once he gets to the state. Cortez has already killed many FBI agents, and no help can get to the bridge site in time to stop Cortez. So Owens and his ragtag group of deputies have to stop Burell and Cortez's plot. It's a pretty straight forward story, if you expect something new and envisioned by Schwarzenegger's big return to major starring action, than you will be disappointed.

I am happy to report that Schwarzenegger is his original self. He has plenty of funny one-liners that will make old fans smile, and he really kicks some ass in this movie. Some of his deputies are played by Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, and Jaimie Alexander (who you may remember for "Thor"). Each of these characters are funny, and have big moments where their characters shine, I like each of these actors and they deserve credit. Forest Whitaker plays a high-ranking FBI agent who keeps Owens in the loop of things. I always like Whitaker and he's become a pro with roles like this. Peter Stormare is one of the great bad guy actors still working, and turns out another mustache-twirling performance. I did like Eduardo Noreiga's work as Cortez. He was able to make a generic, forgettable character produce real depth.

The big action scene at the end is a lot of fun. In fact, that's the big thing with this movie, fun. This is a movie that doesn't try to be anything its not. I like that a lot. I loved the WWII machine gun hiding in the school bus. I loved the cat-and-mouse game with the sports cars in the corn fields. I loved Knoxville's quirky armor he wore to the gunfight. It's a great scene, and it made me smile big.

It seems like Schwarzenegger has found his footing once again, and that is a relief. I do not expect "The Last Stand" to be on the road to the Oscars next year, but its a fun couple hours.


FINAL GRADE: B




Friday, June 21, 2013

Robert Downey Jr. will suit up as Iron Man...after Avengers 2!

RDJ isn't going anywhere for now.

One of the very first things I reported on was RDJ's plans after "The Avengers 2." While I understood full well why Downey Jr. was thinking about moving on to other projects after the big sequel, obviously I was going to miss him. He was born to be Tony Stark, no other actor could capture what it meant to be Stark at the time. I did not want him to go, but I completely understood why.

Soon after that report, it was reported that RDJ was talking to Marvel. He wanted to renegotiate his contract. A light spark grew in the back of my mind and I was hoping for some kind of hope to come from it.

Well there is hope, even if it is a tiny hope. Robert Downey Jr. will return as Iron Man for at least one more movie after "The Avengers 2." That's great news to me, I am glad he will be able to get more mileage out of the character. The next movie RDJ will be in as Iron Man will be...you guessed..."The Avengers 3!"

Gwenyth Paltrow announced in a few interviews that there will not be an "Iron Man 4" any time soon, not anywhere in the foreseeable future. To be honest, after "Iron Man 3," I don't know how bad of an idea that truly is.

All I can say tonight is that I am glad to see RDJ suiting up after Phase Two comes to a close. I am glad that he will play this legendary character one last time. I don't know what is in store for the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Phase Four. (If, by God there is a Phase Four) But the bar has been set very high for these characters.


SOURCES:


INDEPENDENCE DAY II STUFF!

Independence Day 2 is really getting underway

Looks like we will see the long-awaited sequel to the 1996 monster hit "Independence Day." That movie was a movie I watched quite a bit growing up, and it is still a movie I admire quite a bit. I have waited and waited for a sequel. As a youngster, I thought it was inevitable to make a sequel, but for some reason it never happened. Now, finally, in 2015 I will lay eyes to this film.

The sequel is planned for a July 3rd 2015 release.

2015 is already shaping up to be a crazy year for movie geeks everywhere. Not only will we get "Independence Day 2" but also "Avengers 2," "Avatar 2," "Star Wars: Episode VII," "Jurassic Park 4" and potentially a "Justice League" movie. It's going to be a crazy year if each of those films can live up to their true potential. I am already very giddy to see that year play out on film!

Director Roland Emmerich will return to direct the sequel. However, we do not know yet if any of the big cast such as Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum or anybody else will return who survived the first film. Emmerich has already clarified that Will Smith will not be participating. (His role may have been important in the first film, but I for one, am glad he is NOT returning.) Time shall tell us what will come of the actors.

Emmerich has discussed ideas about the sequel. About how the movie will take place in present-day. And that the world has tried to evolve and re-create the alien technology. So expect a very different image of Earth in this upcoming movie. Should be very exciting!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Purge Review

The Purge Review

Imagine if a film like "Ghostbusters" took itself seriously, or if a film like "American Psycho" didn't commit to its satirical style, and you'll quickly see how "The Purge" goes wrong.

In the future, our nation will be governed by a single-party platform known as the New Founding Fathers of America. They will initiate a new law which allows all Americans to commit any crime, including murder, for a 12-hour period one night a year. All police, fire and health agencies will close for the 12-hour period. This event will become known as The Purge. There are only a few rules pertaining to the Purge. No using weapons like nukes and no killing any high ranking government officials, otherwise all bets are off.

That's definitely a clever idea for a movie, but also one which will cause a headache if you think about it longer than 10 seconds. We learn in an opening title card that unemployment is below 1% and crime is pretty much non-existent thanks to The Purge. So drug dealers plan their entire business year around one night? And what about psychopaths in the vein of Dexter Morgan or Dr. Hannibal Lecture? Do they resist their urges to kill for 364 days at a time? The rules make the idea seem even sillier. If no police or law enforcement are working Purge Night, what is to stop someone from stealing a nuke and leveling a city?

But of course, a movie like this throws away all such logic. The movie focuses upon the Sandin family. There's James the father (Ethan Hawke), Mary the mother (Lena Headey), Zoey the daughter (Adelaide Zane), and Charlie the son (Max Burkholder). The Sandin family has become very rich selling security equipment, James uses The Purge as a selling point, which causes friction between himself and his neighbors. James is coming home on the dawn of another Purge Night, smiling that everything will be okay. That night a Bloodied Stranger (Edwin Hodge) is crying for help, and Charlie with his moral compass, decides to let him in.

Before the Sandin's know it, their house is surrounded by rich snobs led by a "Polite Stranger" (Rhys Wakefield), they demand the homeless man be put in their custody or they will break in and kill everyone. So then the film turns into a "Straw Dogs" ripoff as the family prepares to defend their home. Turns out all the hoopla surrounding the Purge was created by writer/director James DeMonaco as window dressing. It seems DeMonaco wanted "The Purge" to not come off like an ordinary home invasion thriller, but it turns out that "The Purge" is indeed just an ordinary home invasion thriller.

That to me is very disappointing. It seems to me that with this film's premise, although silly, can manufacture all sorts of crazy ideas. Turning to home invasion horror is the least common denominator for this type of idea. There are some interesting discussions about morality, but that barely lasts ten minutes. Also there is some discussion about class and political warfare. In a world gone to hell, would the 1% barricade themselves in their fortresses of solitude while the 99% thins itself out? It's a brainy idea, but it isn't explored. All James DeMonaco seems to want to do with his movie is just be ordinary. It's clear right down to the rich bad guys. They arrive at the Sandin's house weary freaky masks. But on a night where all crime is legal, why wear masks at all? You will get away with it no matter what, so why wear them? Easy. DeMonaco wanted his movie to be like all the rest!

On a horror level, "The Purge" is not good nor scary. I believe all of you will be rolling your eyes at all the decisions the characters make in this film. Plus, the ending involving the neighbors almost forced me to laugh out loud. I know lots of people who skip all horror films, simply because they don't like getting scared. I know for a fact that all those folks I know would have a pleasant sleep after watching "The Purge" and that's too bad. Two of my greatest fears are my own home being invaded, but also living in a world that has gone to hell, real post-apocalyptic type stuff always gets under my skin. I like knowing that I am protected and when I lose that feeling its deeply scary. "The Purge" could have easily tapped into those two terrors, but fails completely. 

The acting is okay. I will always like Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady but the sloppy script really makes their characters one dimensional. Rhys Wakefield is never once menacing or frightening. The great monsters of cinematic horror, such as Leatherface, Linda Blair and Mike Myers seemed like real-life monsters. Even when Blair got possessed in "The Exorcist" she was scary. Even when she said such lines like "You're mother sucks cocks in hell!" She made those lines sting. Wakefield is so over-the-top, corny and cartoonish that he's just non-threatening. 

This movie made bank its opening weekend, surprisingly so. And a sequel has already been planned. I hope for the second movie, the studio tries something neater and more satirical. I would love to see a movie where we see Purge Night occur in all the different cultures of our country. How poor, celebrities, criminals, cops, government officials, priests, old, young, urban, rural...how do all these stereotypes react to such a night? How do they prepare? Who do they target and why? If the sequel is just another family being stalked by masked killers...then I'm not interested. They blew this idea already, hears to hoping they don't do it a second time around.




FINAL GRADE: D-

Hollywood Grapevine

Hollywood Grapevine
I got a whole mess of stories today. Check em out

Disney's proposed Star Wars timeline
I posted a few months back about how Disney plans to have a new Star Wars movie released every summer starting in 2015. A pretty hardcore schedule if you ask me! This schedule will include not just Episodes VII VIII and IX but also spin-off movies ala "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." The picture below shows a itinerary of their proposed schedule. 
It seems also that the 2016 and 2018 spin-off films will be based upon Han Solo and Boba Fett. The Han Solo film will focused on the early days of Han and Chewy and their relationship. There are no details about the Boba Fett spin-off quite yet. Apparently, there was a Yoda spin-off in the works sometime ago. However, that has been scrapped for right now. Like I said, a pretty crazy schedule. With all this information today, I can't wait to see what happens next.

MCU updates

Disney has given many updates on a vast number of their upcoming projects, many coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Regarding "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," well it seems like that movie is going to be big. Joblo.com reported the following: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is pretty much the sequel to The Avengers and plays the biggest role in leading to the Avengers 2. In addition, the sequel will go more in-depth with Black Widow's backstory and gadgets." So, the blood on her ledger will be exposed? We shall see!

Regarding "The Guardians of the Galaxy," joblo.com reported the following: "Ronan the Accuser will be the main villain of the film. Thanos will play a major role in the entire scheme of things. The Guardians will operate out of their base of operations, called Knowhere, a space station with the ability to teleport through the universe. No members of THE AVENGERS will appear in "Guardians" but it is indeed the same universe." Lots of interesting tidbits in that bit of news. Too bad there wont be any Avengers appearing in this, but who knows if that wont happen in the future.

The first Marvel Disney animated movie is also on the way. Its called "Big Hero 6" which will be released on November 7th 2014. Here are some details from joblo.com: "Hiro Hamada, is joined by Wasabi No Ginger, Honey Lemon, Fred and Baymax, who is trying to stop Hiro's invention, called "swarm microbots." Which fall into the wrong hands. One of the key plot elements is that Hiro's brother was killed in a mysterious accident."

Very cool stuff indeed!

The Amazing Spiderman 2 updates
Yesterday, it was reported everywhere that Shailene Woodley, who was cast as Mary-Jane Watson, will NOT be appearing in the sequel. Apparently director Marc Webb wanted to focus on the Gwen-Peter relationship, and he plans to work MJ into the next big phase.

What phase? Well, Sony has planned not one...but two more sequels for this new Spiderman franchise. The third film will be released on June 10th 2016 and the fourth on May 4th 2018. It seems like Webb may actually be thinking about introducing the Sinister Six! I don't know how I feel about this honestly. I wasn't a super-huge fan of the first one. I know many people that didn't think to highly of it either. Plus, many fans are getting weary of all the villains getting jam-packed into the second one. It seems to be a pretty big risk to plan two more sequels. What if the second one flops? Or is a film full of villains what you all want? Would an Avengers in reverse really be cool? Time will only tell.


Robert Rodriguez movies get pushed back

2005's "Sin City" was one of my favorite movies of that year and last decade. It was also one of the easiest movies to create a sequel for. Rodriguez has planned a sequel since at least 2007, but nothing ever came of it. Finally the film was suppose to come in October 2013. Well, now its getting pushed back 10 months. I am starting to think that I will never, ever see this sequel. The reasons for the setback are unknown.

Also, Rodriguez's sequel to 2010's "Machete" got pushed back. Originally meant to be released on September 13th 2013. "Machete Kills" will now be released on October 4th. Apparently, some big releases will appear that September weekend. So the sequel got pushed back for less box office competition. Plus, it gives Rodriguez more time for marketing. That's all just my guess, who knows why this keeps happening.


That's all my stories for now, more later.


SOURCES:

www.aintitcool.com
www.joblo.com
www.hitfix.com