Thursday, February 27, 2014

2013 Awards Circuit: Nebraska Review

2013 Awards Circuit

Nebraska Review
The 2013 Awards Circuit will be a collection of reviews of films that are in some kind of award running within the months of January through March. Not only will this prepare me for the big night (AKA Oscar Night), but it will also allow me to catch up with some of the critically acclaimed films I missed in 2013. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching and writing them.

"Nebraska" is an offbeat  comedy about a man named Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) you thinks he won a million dollars. However, his son (Will Forte) deduces that it was junk mail his father found in his mail box. Woody's mind no longer goes all the up to the top floor and he dedicated to going to Lincoln Nebraska from Montana to collect his winnings. So he recruits his son (named David) so that he can drive him from Montana to Nebraska to collect the money. David ends up learning a lot about his father as they pass through his hometown on the way to collect the fake earnings.

This film was directed by Alexaner Payne and I think this could possibly be his best directoral work to date. I say this as a huge fan of "Sideways," I am so convinced that I want to buy "Nebraska" ASAP so that I can watch it and "Sideways" back-to-back. Payne has always been an overly talented artist, but he hit a high note unlike I have ever seen from him before. There is a style to "Nebraska" that is completely addicting. Told in black-and-white, the texture of the film is wonderful to look at. The certain ticks and camera usage in the film is equally stunning. Watching Payne playing with his camera is just half the fun of watching "Nebraska."

I can honestly say that Bruce Dern has a very good shot at winning a golden statue on Sunday. I understand that Lead Actor is always incredibly competitive and I know Leo and Matthew are the favorites right now, but Dern could be a darkhorse win to consider. His work as Woody Grant is absolutely captivating. Woody has had a tough life. He's beginning to lose it mentally, he's a Korean War veteran, he's had problems with alcohol, etc. Dern makes all of his character come to life and more. The mannerisms Dern creates are shockingly realistic. He is the heart and the soul of the entire movie and he relishes it. 

Will Forte is usually a comedy guy. In fact, one of my earliest and fondest memories of Forte was his work as the German brother from 2006's "Beerfest." With all that said, his work in "Nebraska" is a gigantic leap forward in range and talent. This is the most tame and solemn work we have ever seen from Forte, but that is not a bad thing at all. Forte makes himself completely believable as a son trying very hard to support and help his father. Forte is able to make us buy into the emotions he creates and its stellar work. I can't say that I really knew anything about June Squibb before "Nebraska," but she nearly stole the show. Squibb plays Kate Grant, Woody's wife. She has the best dialogue in the entire film and its clear she had a great time delivering it. She is yet another actor I wouldn't count out of the Oscar running quite yet.

For fans of "Election," "Sideways," and "The Descendants," "Nebraska" is another great piece of art by Alexander Payne. All of his best qualities are on display here and he directs an incredible cast of actors. I can already tell that this Sunday could be a very competitive year for all the major nominations and I can't wait to see how it all shakes out. This is further proof of how delightful 2013 was in the theaters and I am glad to have been apart of it.

Also, look for Stacy Keach in a small but effective role in this, he nails it. I cannot wait to see him "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" later this year.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Piece of Star Wars Episode VII casting

Up to this point, all the casting rumors for J.J Abrams' "Star Wars: Episode VII" have been just that, rumors. There have been no solid evidence to point any actor toward any character. Abrams has been incredibly secretive so far, and I like that. I don't want everything spoiled for me, I don't like knowing everything. In our culture now, we get everything spoiled for us entertainment-wise, but there are still those who don't plan to pull up the curtain so fast.

Abrams does however, like to give us peeks. We got one of those small peeks today. We learned that actor Adam Driver will play a main villain in the upcoming chapter of the Star Wars saga. We are not given a name or anything else, we just know Driver is a main villain and its pretty much all the way confirmed. This is interesting, as everybody under the sun seems to have been rumored at this point. Both Hugo Weaving and Michael Fassbender have been considered for a villain role in the movie so far, which is making us wonder if Driver is really "the main villain" or one of the main villains.

I have never seen an episode of HBO's "Girls," but I loved "Inside Llewyn Davis" and Driver time onscreen was great. I am curious as hell to see how this pans out. If Abrams is anything, he is dedicated and patient. No matter who Driver ends up playing, Abrams did not arrive at the decision lightly. I hope that comforts you all as we learn more about this upcoming, anticipated sequel.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Godzilla Trailer

Okay, Now I am convinced.

I wasn't completely convinced at first. It didn't matter how well the film looked from the first teaser. It didn't matter about the good cast the WB put together. When you've seen nearly all the old-school "Godzilla" films growing up, when you still have bad memories of the horrid American Godzilla version in your mind, its a tough sell. How can a movie studio make a simple story about monsters in a city relevant?

The new trailer for "Godzilla" answers that question for us, tell a great story well. The trailer for this movie sets a creepy tone, a genuinely creepy tone. Bryan Cranston looks like he'll be taking a leadership role in this movie, and it looks like he'll nail it. Overall, there are some big quasi-hints dropped in the trailer too, and I can't wait to see how it pans out.

I never thought I'd get excited for a "Godzilla" trailer again, never say never.

Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King Review

Marvel One-Shot: All Hail The King Review
If you are unaware of Marvel's One-Shot, you need not worry. Just go grab your blu-rays of "Thor," "Captain America: The First Avenger," "The Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" then go to special features on those main menus to catch up. In order to bring The Marvel Cinematic Universe to life, Marvel has dipped into many mediums, including the big screen and the small screen (I feel "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally starting to catch its footing, thank God!). For each of the film's above, Marvel Studios created short films (usually only about 15 minutes long.) set in the MCU to expand the universe.

The first Marvel One-Shot was called "The Consultant" and revolved around a conversation between Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximilio Hernandez), a conversation which led to the final scene from 2008's "The Incredible Hulk." The next One-Shot was called "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor's Hammer" and its exactly what it sounds like. Agent Coulson stops at a gas station and deals with a life-threatening yet humorous situation there. "Item 47" is the third One-Shot and definitely one of my favorites, its revolves around a bank-robbing couple (Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford) who use one of the weapons The Chitauri used in The Battle of New York for their crimes, S.H.I.E.L.D. steps in to stop them and retrieve the weapon. "Item 47" also featured  the first appearance of Titus Welliver's Agent Blake, who made a cameo on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." back around September. The fourth One-Shot was called "Agent Carter," Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter from "Captain America: The First Avenger" and it details how she became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. 

I have enjoyed all of the One-Shots, I think they fun and full of humor. They are a unique and clever way to expand a world that has made over $5 million so far at the box office. Much like the movies, these One-Shots are cast incredibly well, and are treated with the same respect as all of the MCU movies so far. "All Hail The King" details an interview with Trevor Slattery AKA The Mandarin from "Iron Man 3" and Sir Ben Kingsley returns to play Slattery. Slattery has been in prison for awhile now, and the interviewer (played by Scoot McNairy) wants to learn more about the real Slattery and what led him to be the voice of a think tank that nearly got Tony Stark killed.

I have always been surprised that the Iron Man films have led the charge in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's success. The entire series is just the same idea played out three times. We learn Tony Stark is a billionaire, we learn there are other billionaires who rival him (Obie Stan, Justin Hammer, Aldrich Killian). These rival billionaires hire somebody to help him bring down Stark once and for all, and that is the story for each Iron Man movie. Stan used The Ten Rings in the first film, Hammer used Whiplash in the second film and Killian hires an actor to impersonate a terrorist to shadow his real intentions. Its too bad because Iron Man has a very rich history in comic form. To throw the character in the same story three times is quite lazy in my opinion. I thought that trend would change in the third film, as The Mandarin is nothing like any other foe in Iron Man's rogues gallery. But they tried to pull the curtain over the audience to reveal a big surprise revolving The Mandarin in the third movie. It seems for most people, that reversal didn't work.

"All Hail The King" is, like the other One-Shots, pretty humorous. Its funny to watch Sir Kingsley in total burn-out mode. Its funny watching him as a prison inmate. I loved the opening and closing titles and the overall style of the One-Shot, using an old-school 70's theme to supreme effect. As with all the other One-Shots so far, this one is full of familiar actors and familiar faces (look for a cameo made by Sam Rockwell reprising his role of Justin Hammer from "Iron Man 2."). Much like "Iron Man 3," this One-Shot ends with a big surprise and much like "Iron Man 3," I am once again disappointed by it.


So as Trevor Slattery is finishing his interview, we finally learn more about the interviewer. That means he's not who he seems. We begin to get that sense once the interviewer begins chatting about The Ten Rings, the terrorist organization that kidnapped Tony Stark. A terrorist organization that Slattery never heard of. The interviewer suddenly pulls out a gun and kills all the guards in the room. He then tells Slattery that "The Real Mandarin" wants to meet him, all the while we hear gunshots in the background. 

...and that's how the One-Shot ends...

I am sure people lifted an eye-brow at the end of it. But, once again I felt the sting of disappointment. It seems Marvel got the idea that they pissed a lot of people off with their handling of The Mandarin in "Iron Man 3," I am sure they thought fans and general public alike would embrace it. That didn't quite happen and it seems they responded to that anger through their One-Shot. To me, it comes off as phony and stupid though. You can't ruin a potentially cool and dramatic character in a blockbuster film then try to convince me he was real all along in a mini-movie. That just comes off as silly and cruel. Especially if we read into the history. We know Robert Downey Jr. is ending his run at Iron Man, we know he doesn't want to do another solo movie, we know after Avengers 2 and 3 he's out. We have also known for awhile that producer Kevin Feige has an end year in mind to bring this ambitious experiment to a close, and that year is 2021. With all that said, "All Hail The King" tries to convince me that we could see The Mandarin in the future. But do we really want to see a forced fourth Iron Man film with a different actor in the role, a movie that has a big chance of just treading water?

I really wish they would just leave the character alone, admit they missed out on a big opportunity then leave the character alone. I don't want The Mandarin showing up in somebody else's movie. I don't want to see a fourth Iron Man movie where Rhodey steps in for Tony Stark for whatever reason. I definitely don't want an "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." episode where the team goes after The Mandarin. I am fairly certain that most people don't want to see that either. I don't expect everything Marvel does to be great all the time. That's just plain naive. Nobody strikes gold with every movie, nobody. I just want a studio to realize when they screw up, and do better next time.

No matter what the future holds, I hope this One-Shot doesn't lead to anything else. I guess its fun to know the real Mandarin is around somewhere, I hope they just leave it at that. I could live with that. Overall, the One-Shot is fun. If you haven't checked them out, they are more than worth watching. Despite my gripes, so is "All Hail The King."

Monday, February 24, 2014

2013 Awards Circuit: The Act of Killing

2013 Awards Circuit

The Act of Killing review
The 2013 Awards Circuit will be a collection of reviews of films that are in some kind of award running within the months of January through March. Not only will this prepare me for the big night (AKA Oscar Night), but it will also allow me to catch up with some of the critically acclaimed films I missed in 2013. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching and writing them.

Back in 1965, the Indonesian government was taken over by the country's military, they set up a military dictatorship. They then began killing millions of "communists" within the nation, and I put that word in quotes because its unclear whether or not the people were really extreme leftists or if they were people against the new government. Many people died under this dictatorship and many western governments supported this purging. The remnants of this dictatorship are still embedded in the government of Indonesia today. In 2012, a film crew went to Indonesia and caught up with many of the people involved in the mass-murdering of "communists." They challenged these leaders to make mini-films of  their stories and see how their actions effect them today.  

One could read that description of this powerful Best Documentary nominee and be openly repulsed. It honestly took me awhile to successfully wrap my head around this documentary and its content. "The Act of Killing" is not a movie that glorifies evil, its actually a near-perfect example of history being written by the winners. Its shows just how certain facts become true overtime when the people who won tell the story for many years. The movie doesn't glorify these men's acts, these men glorify themselves.

"The Geneva Convention is the world's morality today, but tomorrow? It could be the Jakarta Convention."

In the outcome of anything, whether its a war or a baseball game, the outcome of that match is always realized by both sides, yet the rest of the world believes those who won. During World War II, Hitler made tons of propaganda and had he been successful, we would have understood World War II a lot differently. "The Act of Killing" shows us what it would look like if Hitler did win that war. Yes, the result is horrifying. As the leaders of the former military dictatorship of Indonesia make movies about how he killed people, its sad, sadistic and twisted. Their styles span from gangster movies (which they idolized greatly) to musical dance numbers. As clever as these guys are, there is doubt about the underlining macabre hidden in this film's message. As I think about it, I am immensely surprised that this got a nomination from The Academy at all. There is no doubt though, that this is a powerful look into the minds of disturbed individuals and piercing reminder of what happens to a country of people after a great sorrow.

Easily the scariest part of this documentary was the devotion and dedication these leaders had in creating the mini-movies represented in the documentary. How these guys laughed at their old stories of killing was absolutely terrifying. As these guys watched their finished products, it was sad that none of them were phased by what they did, believing their actions were completely justified. "The Act of Killing" is a painful remind of faith and its power over people. 

I plan to catch "Dirty Wars" before Oscar Sunday this week, but as of right now, "The Act of Killing" could win the gold this week. We'll wait and see.


RIP Harold Ramis

RIP Harold Ramis
Wow. Within the first year of my blog, too many talented and inspiring people in show business have already died. Especially artists that I feel I have a connection too.

I can't discuss the importance of Harold Ramis without mentioning "Ghostbusters." I have discussed that movie already on this blog, but it is one of my favorite films of all time. It has been all my life. I don't mean that to be hyperbolic or exaggerated, it has been on my personal list of ten favorite films literally all my life. When I was barely five years of age, my Grandma Hoelscher and I had a tradition. Every time we got together, we would watch "Ghostbusters" or "Ghostbusters 2" or both. For the longest time growing up, I had a Spengler action figure. I played with that action figure so much that most of the paint rubbed off it and his arm fell off. (The arm I actually duck-tapped back on.) Both of those movies have been apart of my life, connected to my DNA. Those films are not only some of my favorite films of all time, they are some of my favorite things period. 

Part of the reason those films worked for me was because of the work done by Harold Ramis.

Ramis had a central role in both films as Dr. Egon Spengler, the intelligent voice of reason within the group of Ghostbusters. Spengler was the source of smart, offbeat humor. He didn't burst of the screen in the same way that Pete Venkman and Ray Statz did, but he added to the flavor and mythology those films created. Ramis himself also co-wrote the film, which just goes to show just how talented a man he really was. 

But Ramis' merits don't stop at "Ghostbusters," he's not important to me because he was involved with one of my most treasured possessions, he was partially responsible for the first golden age of comedy. Ramis wrote and/or directed "Meatballs," "Caddyshack," "Stripes," "National Lampoons' Vacation," and "Groundhog Day." These are not just great comedies, these movies arguably defined the longevity of the genre in the 1980's and early 1990's. I love each of those films listed above, can't imagine NOT liking them. As I look at comedy today, it doesn't look like a genre anybody can master. But Ramis was able to make comedic films come off as effortless.

He made several appearances in other comedies throughout the late 1990's and 2000's. One of my personal favorites was in "Orange County," which is easily one of the most overlooked and underrated comedies of the new millennium. In that movie, Ramis starred with Colin Hanks and Jack Black. He played the dean at Stanford University and Hanks' character requested his help in getting accepted into the university. Even though Ramis made a small appearance in that movie, he made a long-lasting one.

I can't even imagine looking at "Ghostbusters" in the same way knowing that our beloved Dr. Spengler is dead. Comedy lost a legend today, a true master of the genre. The genre may not be the same again, but I will always remember all of the wonderful work Ramis was responsible for.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Overlooked Film of the Week- "High Fidelity" (2000)

Overlooked Film of the Week-#45

High Fidelity
If you would have told me when I was around 10 or 11 that I'd be writing a blog about movies, I probably wouldn't be surprised, but I'd be a little bit puzzled. Movies have been a passion of mine for so long that I never really noticed it until I was older. As I was growing up, I had a passion for music, especially rock music. I remember when I younger, I could spend a whole day in my room listening to the radio. When the weather was nice (or even if it wasn't) I used to take my CD player outside in a pouch and swing on my swing-set for countless hours. Its amazing how some clever poetry and electric guitars can muster emotions as powerful as Disney movie I have ever seen, but it is possible. Which is one of the many reasons why we connect to films and music on a wide scale.

I feel like that is why "High Fidelity" hit me so hard the first time I saw it and continues to do so as I re-watch it over the years. Back in 2000, when "High Fidelity" was released, it focused on things I was just beginning to focus on in a dramatic-comedic way. It's story revolves around music and girls, which was my life in a nutshell in 2000. I loved music and I loved chasing girls, and of course I took it all way to seriously. Of course, when I look back on it, I laugh at just how serious I took that stuff, and my friends. I think that's why I always identified with John Cusack's Rob Gordon. Gordon is a hopeless romantic who knows more about music, film and other popular culture. "Books, records, films-these things matter. Call me shallow, but its the fucking truth." I love that quote, and from the moment Gordon says that to the camera, I knew I'd watch "High Fidelity" more than once. Cusack gives the performance of his career in this movie and he also created one of the coolest movie characters of all time.

As the film starts, we watch as another girl walks out on Gordon. This is standard operating procedure for Gordon at this point, and the whole movie focuses on Gordon and the five break-ups that hurt him the most, he tracks down these five women and hopefully find out where he constantly goes wrong in relationships. We also see Gordon's work life at Championship Vinyl and meet his two co-workers Dick (Todd Louisio) and Barry (Jack Black). The movie has a fun style as Gordon narrates the story for us, treating the audience as a friend who just happened to show up in Gordon's life as it began to fall apart. Its all very fun though, and it just part of the reason the film works so well.

There are great actors who populate this story and they all are very talented. If you're a Jack Black hater, sit down and watch "High Fidelity," if you're NOT a Jack Black hater, sit down and watch "High Fidelity." Easily one of Black's best performances, Barry is a guy who loves his job, knows too much about his job, and is always in a decent mood. Black makes us feel all of it and sells all of it perfectly. Black also gets some of the film's funniest material and he nails it. The cast also features work by Joan Cusack, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lisa Bonet, Lili Taylor, Iben Hejejle and Tim Robbins. That's a stellar cast, all putting forth great work, no matter how big or small their appearance is. Its a great showcase of talent and the cast really brings this story to life.

So far on this blog, I have championed films that feature a little of everything. I'd be lying if "High Fidelity" didn't have a little of everything. There is comedy, there is well-balanced romance, there is drama, there are small spurts of action, the only thing the movie needed was an exorcism and a flying saucer flying by. With a clever style, great cast and rocking tunes, there is a lot to like and connect to with "High Fidelity."  I hope you all check this one out if you have not already.

The Essentials- "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (1971)

The Essentials-#45

Willy Wonka and the chocolate Factory
When I was in fourth grade, I read Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I was vastly anticipating reading the book as I grew up watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," I couldn't wait to read it and I loved every page of it. It didn't feel like any other children's book I have ever read though, but there is a reason for that. Roald Dahl wasn't like most authors for children. There was an offbeat feeling to his stories and sometimes a pinch of darkness. Somehow though, his stories always had a heart and soul that young people could not resist. I feel like out of the 1970's version of the story and the 2005 Tim Burton version, I feel the 1970's version captured the essence of Dahl's vision the best.

Anybody knows the story like the back of their hand by now. A boy named Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum) dreams of visiting Willy Wonka's infamous factory. Charlie comes from a poor family, and does get access to sweets after school with his friends do. He's a unspoiled, innocent, optimistic boy, and when he hears of a contest to visit Wonka's factory, he doesn't feel like even trying, because what would be the point? How could a poor boy ever get the chance to peek inside a famous candy factory? By chance, he gets in, and the adventure he has inside is more than he could have imagined.

Ostrum only starred in one movie, then eventually became a farmer when he grew up. Good thing too, as we didn't need any Justin Biebers or Miley Cyrus' so early in our world's history. I will be honest though, if he wanted to continue acting, he could have and should have. The whole movie rides on Ostrum's performance as Charlie and he really nails it. We feel every ounce of Charlie's emotional journey and even as a kid, I really connected with Charlie as a character. Not saying he's the only actor who dishes out great work, you can't get too far in this conversation without mentioning Gene Wilder. I'd pay a massive lump-sum of money just to watch Wilder act again. He easily stole every scene in every movie he ever starred in. That is no different in this movie, Gene Wilder gives a ravishing performance that is charming, funny, and slightly outrageous. But every beat feels true to the story in the book and at the same time, Wilder put a unique signature on the character.

I love that the movie features normal children's movie cliches, there is catchy music numbers, bright lights, fanatical sets, big colors and it all pays off greatly in this movie. At the same time too, there is some slight darkness, which was always prevalent in Dahl's stories. The best example of course, is the scene when Willy Wonka takes his guests down the chocolate river in his boat. When they enter the tunnel, everything gets so crazy that I can't believe it ended up in the movie. I think its a great scene though and showcases just how weird Dahl's books got.

"Willy Wonka" pays tribute to a great book while also making something that will be remembered forever. I can't wait to share this experience with my future children.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Green Goblin is...

We have known for quite awhile now that Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Place Beyond The Pines) would play Harry Osborn in "The Amazing Spiderman 2" and that Chris Cooper (The Patriot, October Sky) would play Norman Osborn in "The Amazing Spiderman 2." Then, over the summer we found out that The Green Goblin would show up in some capacity for the sequel as well. This has generated one question, who will play the goblin?

In the comics and the original movie series, Norman became the goblin first then his son. Looks as if this rebooted series will try something different.

Take a good look, its clearly Dane DeHaan. 

I don't mind the new image, but I am kind of saddened by it. I really don't care who became the goblin first, I am just wondering one thing. Is there anything left to tell us about "The Amazing Spiderman 2?" I think if somebody tried hard enough, they could piece together the images and crack the entire story. I hope they kept some of their tricks up their sleeves. But at this point, it seems very solid that the general public will know almost too much before sitting down in the theater. Let's hope there is still a hat with a bunny inside this July!


Potential Fantastic Four reboot cast revealed.

Well, this morning the cast for the much-anticipated "Fantastic Four" reboot was released to the public. While the stars have not actually signed any contracts at this point, the sources I am reading are near-certain this is the cast and that it is a done deal. Out of all the upcoming superhero movies within the next few years, I have every single finger and every single toe on my body crossed for this reboot. The general public will find this hard to believe, but the Fantastic Four are great characters. In comic form, they are some of the most important and influential people in the Marvel Universe and they have been involved in many great stories within the universe. I just wish we could get a film that highlighted that.

Fox has been meaning to reboot the franchise after the first two original films flopped terribly. I was immediately on-board when they told us that Josh Trank would direct the reboot. If you are unaware of Josh Trank, go rent "Chronicle" right now, as it was one of the biggest surprises of the new millennium.  One think Trank proved with that film is that he could handle superhero action well and he create believable relationships with his characters, both of those are central to making a "Fantastic Four" film work.

So then we had a director, and today we get our potential cast. The cast is not at all who I would have thought.
From left to right, Jaime Bell will be Ben Grimm, Miles Teller will be Reed Richards, Kate Mara will be Sue Storm and Michael B. Jordan will be Johnny Storm.

First of all, they had rumored for awhile that Fox was going younger with the cast. I thought that was a big red flag. I feel the Fantastic Four needs to be sophisticated to a degree, I don't want this to become a "Twilight" or a young, melodramatic mess, which tends to happen with younger casts. But, whether we like it or not, Hollywood is obviously trying to make sure they can get these guys for several films if need be. I just hope they know what they are doing.

Despite a young cast, they at least found some good young actors. Miles Teller proved in "21 and Over" that he can be a complete goofball and he also proved in "The Spectacular Now" that he has dramatic depth, which would be big pluses for Reed Richards if handled right. Micheal B. Jordan as Johnny Storm was not surprising to me. He was in "Chronicle" and he has worked with Teller before. I am sure he will be great here as Storm. Kate Mara has received some real traction in "House of Cards," a show I really dig and she's great in it. The biggest question mark of the cast is Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm. Ben Grimm eventually becomes The Thing. Bell, while extremely talented, is not even close to the actor I'd picture for The Thing. Will Fox go the "Lord of the Rings" route and completely mokap Bell? And will Sue and Johnny storm be adoptive siblings in this reboot, or will they be related at all?

There are huge questions circling the choices being made here. All I can hope for is that we finally get a good Fantastic Four movie.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cast This

Here is a big casting decision for an upcoming tentpole film!

You are now looking at the new Kyle Reese.

On July 1st, 2015, we will get yet another new Terminator film, entitled "Terminator: Genesis." Actor Jai Courtney will play Kyle Reese. If you are unfamiliar with Courtney, check out "A Good Day To Die Hard" as Courtney plays Bruce Willis' son. While I didn't think that latest "Die Hard" film was very good, Courtney was one of the redeeming qualities. Courtney also had a central role in Starz' "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" in 2010. Recently you can catch Courtney in "I, Frankenstein" and the upcoming "Divergence." He's a talented young actress who is blossoming into superstardom, just needs the right role.

I am not exactly sure if "Terminator: Genesis" is that right role. I am sure Courtney will nail the role as it is written, I am just not convinced by any of this. What is the point of a new "Terminator film? Where is the demand for it? Why do we need a new Terminator film to kickstart a potential new series, especially a new series that is completely depleted of James Cameron's involvement? Because that is honestly the plan. We are getting a franchise reboot of sorts, which will begin a new trilogy of films. This isn't the first time Hollywood has tried to revitalize the franchise, and the previous times failed miserably. So why try again? I always felt James Cameron was the heart and soul of the franchise, and its been proven over the years that Terminator without Cameron simply doesn't work.

But, Hollywood is going on with a new "Terminator" franchise. Universal Pictures has already cast Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) as Sarah Connor, and Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) who will play John Connor. There is also talk that Arnold Schwarzenegger will also appear in the film to some capacity. While the cast is full of talented people, I am just not sure if it will be worth the effort in the end. I feel I have been optimistic for too long and I am a little afraid to believe again. All I can hope for is this film makes me eat my words and this turns into a promising franchise.


James Cameron Talks Avatar Sequels

I knew a sequel was going to be made for "Avatar," that was pretty much a given. When a movie becomes the most grossing film of all time, it gains some serious prestige. I knew this would become a franchise, the only reason why "Titanic" never became a franchise is obviously because it never could. When a film reaches a certain level of success, its franchise time. I am not saying its good or bad, its just the nature of this business.

I personally had a ball with "Avatar" in 2009. Not only that, but I continue to love it. I discover something new about it every time I watch it. I also love the extended edition, and I continue to soak that up as often as I want. Plus, the film is just dead sexy on blu-ray. I am very excited about the aspect of the sequel...well, really I should say sequels. We are going to get three new "Avatar" films in the coming years and Cameron has given a few comments on the films.

Cameron says that the films are still "in development," Cameron is writing the scripts, he creating the creatures and settings of the films, and developing the software to make this undertaking beautiful. "I'm not directing yet," says Cameron "but I'm doing all the other creative processes that lead up to that."

Cameron has promised "new worlds, new habitats, new cultures" in the three upcoming films. Cameron also said what's been confirmed for years now. Yes, the humans will be the main villains in these sequels, and the man vs. nature theme will be prominent in their plot. But, Cameron says the struggle "will manifest itself in very different ways." Hey, let's be honest. Most sequels, since the beginning of time, have tread water. I can handle familiarity, just as long as the context is great and the story is told well. I trust Cameron and his passion, and I hope you all do too. I hope that rumor of Arnold Schwarzenegger being a primary antagonist will end up being more than a rumor!

The best thing about Cameron's interview today was that he thinks the sequels will be "spectacular" and even though its been a lengthy development, Cameron says everything is "going very well." That's all I want to hear at the end of the day. There are very few directors who can make good sequels to their monster hits. I think James Cameron is one of those directors, he just hasn't had too many chances to prove it yet. Here's to hoping these turn out well!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Reaction to the full-length "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer.

Yesterday, I showed you three images from the upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy" and I loved them. You know from that article yesterday about how excited I am to see this movie. All of that harnessed excitement was temporarily quenched as I watched the full trailer for the film tonight during Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Yeah, as I predicted, this is going to be completely unlike any other film in the Marvel Universe so far. In fact, it doesn't even come close.

The trailer opens in a what I am going to dub "Indiana Jones in space." We see a man walking through some kind of dark tomb and retrieves a sphere object. As soon as the man picks up the object, he is quickly corned by three men, led by Djimon Housnou's character. The man holding the sphere introduces himself as Star Lord and we see Chris Pratt, front and freakin' center!

If the trailer is any indicator, Star Lord is going to be Tony Stark in space, he just won't have as much money. I don't know Marvel's plan for their cosmic movies in the MCU, but if "Guardians of the Galaxy" is successful (and I don't see how it won't be), then Star Lord will be character to lead it. Not only that, Pratt is on his way to becoming a full-frontal leading man, as I also predicted. I think Pratt more than deserves it, and judging by the trailer, he may steal the movie.

I say may because the "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer was smart enough NOT to reveal all the surprises. We didn't get a single look at Lee Pace's Ronan or Michael Rooker's Yondu, or Glenn Close. We certainly saw both Groot and Rocket Raccoon but we heard neither of them speak. (We do see both of them in action, and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!!) We also have nothing on the story so far, and I find that bracing. Too many times before, marketing gives away too much of a film and audiences can guess what will happen before the film is released. But with "Guardians of the Galaxy," there is still so much to learn that its hard to not still anticipate the unknown. That's clever as hell!

We get a great look at Dave Bautista as Drax. We get a fun and somewhat humorous look at John C. Reilly's character. I never read a single issue of "Guardians of the Galaxy," so I have no idea how comedic it was. Judging by the trailer, and how Pratt and Reilly are handled in the short amount of time, some people may think comedy. But I think the comedy maybe the icing on the cake. There is a huge montage of action, big action. This is a Marvel movie after all, so we can except lots of giddy action and the trailer shows that. 

Granted, the trailer shows it while playing Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" in the background.

Yes, that's right. "Hooked on a Feeling" is playing in the background, which points at one conclusion. Marvel has truly decided to be more ambitious and it could pay off in big ways. I can't wait to see how Marvel explores the corners of its universe, I can't wait to see how this connects to the rest of the universe and I just can't wait to see this one. You'll agree that this is nothing like the rest of MCU and that's pretty cool!

Check out the trailer on Youtube sometime after tonight's airing of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

2013 Awards Circuit: Inside Llewyn Davis Review

2013 Awards Circuit 

Inside Llewyn Davis Review
The 2013 Awards Circuit will be a collection of reviews of films that are in some kind of award running within the months of January through March. Not only will this prepare me for the big night (AKA Oscar Night), but it will also allow me to catch up with some of the critically acclaimed films I missed in 2013. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching and writing them.

I have already got a bad habit on this blog. I say the same stuff too much.

If you've noticed, I am truly sorry. I have never meant to sound like a skipping record (pun intended here). I just get overly passionate when I sit down to write on this thing, especially when I am writing about favorite actors, movies or directors. Its not secret, I find the Coen Brothers to be American gems. Their film work encompasses multiple genres, and whether the final project is good or bad, its almost always memorable.

"Inside Llewyn Davis" seems very different compared to the other films in the Coen's library. Its not a piercing thriller nor a in-your-face comedy. I like that the Coen's are trying to branch out into other territory. "Inside Llewyn Davis" is the story of a folk musician Llewyn Davis and his struggles to make money with folk music during the 1960's. As his music career suffers, so does his personal life and how the two collide is the subject matter for the movie. Even though the Coen's are playing with different subject matter, their signatures and styles are laced throughout the entire movie. The smart talking of all their scripts is alive and well here too, and that alone got me interested.

Even though this feels like a normal Coen brothers movie, I think this is one of their more important films they have ever made. I think anybody auditioning for "The Voice" or "American Idol" or the seemingly dozens of other clones of either of those shows should see "Inside Llewyn Davis" before they audition. Usually musical career films like this show the best case scenario, but knowing the Coen's they didn't choose that path. This is the worst case scenario. Davis (Oscar Isaac) is constantly rejected as he tries to make money off his record (entitled "Inside Llewyn Davis"). We view him struggle to really find his big break and I can't help but notice that this parallels real life. Lots of people everyday dream big and try to make it into the big time, but it never happens. I always feel bad and I don't think people should just not pursue their dreams simply because its not realistic. However, this movie features an important reminder, have a plan B of sorts. Not only that, but while the title of his record is called "Inside Llewyn Davis" the movie is actually about him as a person. We learn about his personal life, we learn he used to have a partner in his music career and other insight. I thought it was clever how the title of the record paralleled the story itself.

I feel Oscar Isaac is on a collision course to become a big star, and I wish an Oscar Nod could have helped that. He is the glue of the entire movie, he is in front of the camera pretty much the whole running time. Sure, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Garrett Hedlund, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham and Adam Driver show up, but its Isaac that drives this boat. If we don't believe Isaac's performance, the film would fall flat. But it doesn't, this is the best acting Isaac has ever done, and I've liked quite a many of his performances. The rest of the cast is solid, and I think its interesting how people come and go at a moments notice, similar to random, special people we meet in life.

A lot of Coen style is on display in this film, but that is also a trait that works against it. Many people love the Coen style, while others detest it. An example is pacing, and I think the quiet moments in this film are almost too quiet. There is one stretch of film will Davis is traveling from New York to Chicago by car with musicians Johnny Drive (Hedlund) and Roland Turner (Goodman). The typical bizarre comic we have come to love from the Coen's is on full display in this stretch of film and I certainly laughed at some of it. But it nearly stops the film cold, with a resolution that is overall pointless. I feel even the most supportive of Coen fans will have trouble with this stretch, but it didn't lessen the film a bit.

Of course, there is the music. A movie about music should have great music, right? I am happy to say that "Inside Llewyn Davis" had great music. I am nowhere near being a huge folk music guy, but I couldn't help but connect to the music in this film. I don't know if it compares to "Man of Constant Sorrow" from "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" but I am shocked the film got no Academy attention for the music. These are catchy songs you'll listen to in your head after viewing this film, couldn't ask for more than that.

While the sound mixing and cinematography were both solid, I feel "Inside Llewyn Davis" should have been nominated for more categories, especially for music. There was a lot this film offered, and I think each of you should check this out, even if you're not a Coen fan. It an entirely different genre for the brothers and they ran into it fearless. This movie didn't hit me over the head like Coen brother films do, but I have a feeling that this will be a film that grows on me with repeat viewings. I hope you find the same pleasure too.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Is it too early to get excited?

Last week, I reported on the official shooting schedule for "Star Wars: Episode VII." Just the shooting schedule alone is enough to get all us movie fans in a frenzy. This space opera saga defines movie fandom for many people across the globe, and the aspect of another set of "Star Wars" films is more than bracing.

Its so bracing that a shot of crewmen from the film is getting fans in an uproar.

This one photo has caused more buzz in a few days than I think anything ever has in cinematic history. This a meeting between director J.J. Abrams (far bottom left), producer Kathleen Kennedy (the only woman in the shot) and other production crew and producers for the film. Whats interesting here, and what has been the cause of lots of buzz, is the set of pictures in the background. A picture of the Millennium Falcon is clearly scene. We also get a few shots of terrains.

There are already mad rumors about what this all means. Could it be that the Millennium Falcon maybe used in episode VII? It is very well possible. Nothing is out of the rule of possibility. We have no idea where the story will go, we have no idea which characters are in and which ones are out. Like I said in my article above about the shooting schedule, Abrams and his crew are possibly cooking up a story free from the novels, comic books and video games made about "Star Wars." Another idea though, is that the photos behind this group of artists are just to help mold and brainstorm the story they have in mind. Any of these possibilities are valid, but that doesn't make anything less exciting. Whatever these guys plan, I'll be waiting opening weekend, and I don't think I'll be the only one.

While we are on the subject, I'd also like to bring up something cool. Today, we got two teaser trailers for an upcoming cartoon Disney has planned. The cartoon is called "Star Wars: Rebels," and it will premier on Disney XD sometime this fall. The story will take place between "Episode III" and "Episode IV" and will focus on a renegade Jedi being hunted by the Empire as they plan to destroy the last of the Jedi. The show will also feature the early days of the rebellion. The lead role will be voiced by Freddie Prinze. Jr.

I know its a cartoon and I know its on Disney. But I think I'll give this series at least a look. I am so far in Star Wars overdrive that it would be hard not to check it out.

So what are your theories about the meeting photo? What do you think of the teasers for "Star Wars: Rebels?" Sound off in the comment section below.



Hell. YEAH!

One of the things I have always dreamed of seeing was Marvel going cosmic in some capacity. Marvel has become such a hot brand that the general audience will follow them into anything. Some people may think that science fiction and fantasy maybe for a very particular audience, but I disagree. Any group of collaborators can make any genre appealing. I mean, just look at how George Lucas handled "Star Wars" all those years, or how Paramount handled "Star Trek." The space stuff is always appealing in general simply because when we think of space, there will always be a sense of wonder. The universe is so huge and we on Earth are so small. That's the hook for movies like these, and when their done right, they feel like nothing else in the world.

I know I said this already, but I am willing to bet big money that "Guardians of the Galaxy" is going to surprise everybody poop-less. Its will possibly be the coolest film of MCU Phase Two, and it could end up being one of the very best movies of this entire Marvel project. I am not trying to sound hyperbolic, I am being as serious as ever. I think people are already curious about this adventure, with this group of space surfers. Especially since one member of the group is a wise-cracking raccoon with a gun nearly bigger than he is, voice by Bradley Cooper.

As much as it disappointed me at first, I am glad we didn't see a TV spot for "Guardians of the Galaxy" during the Super Bowl. Because, for me at least, the slow-burn build up gets me more than a quick look at something. I think the three images from "Guardians of the Galaxy" look great. We get a really cool looking glimpse into the world we'll be seeing in the theaters this August. We also get a clearer, magnificent look at the group as a whole.

I think 2014 will be a huge year for Chris Pratt. I think from 2014 forward, you will see Pratt in many more leading roles than supporting roles. I think he's more than primed for the task. I find Pratt to be incredibly charming, quite funny and very talented. I think if there is any person in the Marvel Universe he could really make his own, and still pay respect to the character for the fans, its Pratt. Even though it was merely voice-work, Pratt's presence in "The Lego Movie" is glue to the entire success of that movie. I think he will continue to morph into a satisfying presence and he's one of the many reasons to mark "Guardians of the Galaxy" on your calendars.

We have been told that we will get our first look at the trailer sometime this week. But right now, these few images are more than enough.

Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters August 1st, 2014.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Essentials- "Enemy of the State" (1998)

The Essentials-#44

Enemy of the State
When you are not a fan of a particular actor, its easy to overlook their entire filmography. Sometimes, we spend so much energy disliking something that we can forget how much good and potential that something had. It happens for me with actors all the time. I can honestly say that there are very few actors that I downright cannot stand. I feel each actor has the ability to transform their image, their style, their strategy and their way of evoking emotion. I feel Will Smith's hayday was in the 1990's, before he was grew a big ego. I mean, I am sure that ego was always there to some extent, but it was less evident in the 1990's. This is why, in Smith's early years, was easier to like him. There is no question that Smith is a believable movie star, I'll always give him that much. But there was something addicting about his charm and charisma in his early career.

I loved "Independence Day," and "Men In Black," I also thought "Bad Boys" wasn't too bad on a completely brainless level. But I absolutely couldn't stand "Wild, Wild West." Those were the big Smith movies from the 1990's, but there was also a less flashy gem called "Enemy of the State." I personally think out all the films Smith starred in that decade, it was definitely "Enemy of the State." A movie that worked on a big action level as well as a political thriller level. 

I think its also interesting that if "Enemy of the State" came out now, it would have been slightly more relevant today. Just goes to show how some movie can carry strange omens to the future at times. It revolves around the accidental video taping of a murder. But this isn't any standard murder, it was the murder of a United States Congressmen by the NSA. The act is recorded by an wildlife researcher who is a friend with a big-time lawyer. The NSA comes to the reseacher's place to retrieve the tape, but the researcher goes on the run. By mere chance, the researcher runs into his lawyer buddy and gives the tape to him. Soon enough, the NSA catches wind of this, and the rest of the film is a classic "whodunit" movie as the lawyer tries to clear his name as well as bring the NSA to justice. 

The lawyer is Robert Dean played by Will Smith. Knowing Smith, he could have honestly done this movie in his sleep. He nails being the family man, nails the guy in search for answers and he even throws some of his usual humor in. It all works in an exceptionally perfect way. Jon Voight plays Thomas Reynolds, a high-ranking official at the NSA who murders the Congressman to ensure a new surveillance bill is passed. This was also another great role for Voight. Voight is at his best when he's playing a scheming villain, and this was one of his best performances of that decade. I also have cannot go without mentioning Gene Hackman. Hackman. Hackman plays Brill, a former operative who got blackballed by the United States government and eventually decides to help Dean. Normally, Hackman is good at playing sweet, but its awesome to watch him so hard-boiled here.

The film also features a whose-who of supporting actors who starred in just about every action movie in the 1990's. Actors like Jason Lee, Barry Pepper, Scott Caan, Jake Busey, Gabriel Bryne, Jack Black (yes, Jack Black), Seth Green, Tom Sizemore, Lisa Bonet, Ian Hart, and Jamie Kennedy. Its a great ensemble of supporting actors, all who put out wonderful work. I also loved the work by Regina Hall as Dean's wife. She does the protective, fierce mother very well. 

I love the big action beats in the film and I think the film benefits by the small-dose use of them. This is more thriller than action film, and I think the mixture is well-balanced. If Hitchcock did modern political (and he may have, my brain just isn't working tonight), it would look a lot like this. This movie also works as a brilliant showcase of just how good Smith can be as an actor. Its hard to watch something like this, then turn to E! and look at the guy he's become. But, that's why we always hold on to nostalgia.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Knight Rider Movie

I never saw much of the original "Knight Rider" show with David Hasselhoff, but I did catch a few episodes. The episodes I did see I saw when I was very young, and I don't remember them very well at all. When I was young, I thought it was an interesting idea for a show and it at least kept my interest up. I never thought we'd see a trace of the show ever again in pop culture, but in this day and age, its silly to say never.

Apparently, the idea for a "Knight Rider" movie has been in the works for quite sometime. This is all news to me and I suppose it would be since not much has ever come of the idea at all. But in the 2010's, it looks like we will see the re-emergence of "Knight Rider." The actors being eyed for the lead roles are probably not the people who'd expect.

Danny McBride and Chris Pratt are being considered for the lead roles. Nothing is even close to being confirmed, but its being considered that Pratt would play Michael Knight (the role Hasselhoff played) and McBride would provide the voice of Knight's car. "Arrested Development" vet Brad Copeland is apparently set to pen the script.

Does that mean this movie may lean toward more comedic territory? I say that could be fairly certain. I can't remember the show super well, but I don't remember it ever being overly dramatic. I think "Knight Rider" has the potential to be a great idea for a buddy comedy. I loved "Arrested Development" so if they went more comedic, I think it would be handled just right.

What do you all think of a "Knight Rider" movie?


Friday, February 14, 2014

2013 Awards Circuit: All Is Lost Review

2013 Awards Circuit

All Is Lost Review
The 2013 Awards Circuit will be a collection of reviews of films that are in some kind of award running within the months of January through March. Not only will this prepare me for the big night (AKA Oscar Night), but it will also allow me to catch up with some of the critically acclaimed films I missed in 2013. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching and writing them.

I don't know how much of review this will be. "All Is Lost" while pretty good, is actually fairly straightforward. Robert Redford plays a nameless character who has gone out on his boat and gets cast out in somewhere deep in the Indian Ocean. The movie is about how he survives out on the water, especially after a huge storm that he heads right into.

If you saw 2000's "Cast Away" and if you saw 2007's "I Am Legend," then you have a pretty good idea of how "All Is Lost" shakes out. While I dig both "Cast Away" and " I Am Legend," I am certain that "All Is Lost" features less dialogue compared to both of those films. This a no-holds-barred, survival film about one human being. Either you'll dig that kind of character study or you won't. One of the main reasons why "All Is Lost" remains afloat throughout its running time is the charisma of Robert Redford. Redford barley has a single line in this whole movie, but just how he looks at the camera makes all the difference in the world. I am sure this was a rather difficult picture to make, simply based on Redford having nobody to interact with and its just all on him. But he makes it all worth while and saves this film from caving in.

Aside from Redford's great performance, there is some great scenery in the film. There are several scenes which take place underwater that are just breath-taking. The cinematography by Frank G. DeMarco is some of the most exquisite cinematography in awhile. The movie also features remarkable sound, for which is why it will be represented in The Academy coming pretty soon. We feel the fury of the storm, the whip of the wind, and confusion of the movements. Its actually quite amazing how much of an impact sound really has on films and "All Is Lost" is perfect example of that.

Director J.C. Chandor made "Margin Call" in 2011, a great movie if it weren't for its over-use of Wall Street babble. I feel "All Is Lost" is quite the step up from "Margin Call." I don't think it does anything better compared to "Cast Away" or "I Am Legend" or any other film of its kind. What the movie does do is create a moving, human experience. I think J.C. Chandor will be an interesting voice to keep an ear out for as the years go by.


Overlooked Film of the Week- "Short Term 12" (2013)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #44

Short Term 12
"Short Term 12" is the most sincere and most genuinely heartfelt film I have seen recently. I cannot, cannot believe I was not more ahead of the curve on this one. 

As I get into the synopsis for "Short Term 12," you'll probably wonder why I am so giddy about it. It'll sound like a movie you've seen before. The movie revolves around a white girl named Grace (Brie Larson) who works at a foster-care facility for at-risk children. Grace has many problems in her own life and she tries to deal with them by trying to make a difference in the lives of the richly diverse group of kids that inhabit the facility. By the end of the film, the children and Grace have healed one another. Yeah, its sounds like something you have seen before, I know.

But what makes "Short Term 12" rise among the rest? Well for one, this is one the most contextually authentic films about the subject ever committed to film. I guess it helps that director Destin Daniel Cretton actually worked at one of these facilities before becoming a filmmaker. The attention to detail is astounding, and enriches the storyline of the movie. It also helps that Cretton surrounded the film with a great ensemble of wonderful young actors. After seeing "Short Term 12" I am sure you'll wonder who my favorite kid was and honestly, that's a hard question to answer. These kids definitely poured their souls into their work for this film. No matter how big or small the part, each child shines in their role.

I can't get too much further in this review without talking about Brie Larson. I can't fathom how hard The Academy is kicking themselves right now. How could you nominate Meryl Streep for a below-average performance in "August: Osage County," yet completely overlook Larson's work in "Short Term 12." Yes, Larson is that good in this, and I can only hope she'll be this good again. For the lady who starred in "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," "22 Jump Street" and "13 Going On 30." There is a big difference between that list and the movies she starred in from 2013. Her work in "Short Term 12" is a gigantic leap forward in range, and her scenes in this film continually punch you in the heart. She was the soul that kept this whole story glued down tight and she accomplished her mission.

The work done by John Gallagher Jr. should be equally represented as great. Gallagher Jr. plays Mason. Mason is another employee at the facility and has been dating Grace for quite awhile. Gallagher Jr.'s character has got to be the poster child for perfect partner in a relationship and Gallagher Jr. brings him to life well. Mason is constantly turned away and let down by Grace, yet at the end of the day still tries to make her laugh. After putting their own relationship in jeopardy, Mason only continually sees the best in Grace. They share a tender subplot to the film and it was well worth the effort by the actors. 

"Short Term 12" isn't without its dark edges, but the entire ride is well worth the trip. I think it would be in everybody's best interest to check this out, sooner rather than later.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tammy Trailer

I think Melissa McCarthy has proven after almost four years being a movie star, she isn't some fluke. As great as she was in "Bridesmaids," McCarthy could have easily been a one-trick pony. She proved she wasn't after "The Heat," she proved she wasn't just some fluke. Even though I didn't much care for both "Identity Thief" and "The Hangover: Part III" she was excellent in those and her comedic energy was astounding. I think McCarthy is true comedy gift and I think she has a promising career ahead of her.

Her upcoming film is called "Tammy" McCarthy will play a woman who decides to go cross-country with her grandmother (played by Susan Surandon)  after losing her job and discovering her husband has cheated on her. The trailer looks very promising and it looks like its going to be a fun McCarthy comedy.

I also love the use of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise"

"Tammy" will hit theaters sometime this summer.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Nut Job Review

The Nut Job Review
"The Nut Job" revolves around Surly (Will Arnett) and the haul of food to get before winter. Surly is a purple squirrel who has a cocky attitude. He helps the other park animals gather food for the winter, but after a gathering that goes horrifically bad, Surly is banished from the park by Raccoon (Liam Neeson). To prove he can be an asset to his community, he plans to break into a nut company and retrieve more food than his community could bargain for.

The voice work by Arnett is very well done. In fact, the cast is great all around. If a comedy was made starring Arnett, Neeson, Katherine Heigel, Jeff Dunham, Maya Rudolph, Brendan Fraser, and Stephen Lang, I'd be weeping right now. I think out of all the voice talent though, Arnett really steals the show. Its no surprise he's the lead in "The Nut Job," he's got a bold, commanding voice. The same voice was used to great effect in "The LEGO Movie" over the weekend. Arnett is a powerful presence for live-action and animation and I think filmmakers utilize his talent well. There are some big laughs and big adventure in "The Nut Job" and there is certainly stuff to like.

That good stuff is thin and scarce. I don't think "The Nut Job" is a horrible movie. But I don't think its going to be a particularly memorable animated movie. Even as I watched the trailers for "The Nut Job" months ago, something seemed very odd about the animation itself. It looks very much like it was generated from a computer and at many moments in the film, the animation alone took me out of the movie. However, I can forgive bad animation, I can certainly live with it.

"The Nut Job" is yet another example of an animated movie that will appeal more to children than adults. There is a lot of action and while I think its all well-staged, all I could think about is how it only appeals to children. The humor of the film also seemed aimed at children, as the movie goes for the easy laugh every time. I will admit though, Maya's dog character had some clever laughs but that's it. There is nothing unique or inspiring about the humor. One thing about the movie though is there is a useless, un-needed story about mobsters running the nut company the squirrels tried to break into. This tedium subplot took me out of the movie several times also, and I can only imagine it would take children out of the movie too. Had "The Nut Job" focused solely on the animals, I feel it would have been stronger overall.

"The Nut Job" has a lot going on, yet at the same time, not very much happens at all. An interesting paradox indeed. I'd say rent this one if you have a family, not sure its worth the money at the theater.


The Purge: Anarchy Trailer

Despite being a completely disappointing and mind-numbing experience, Universal Pictures planned a sequel to last year's "The Purge," a horror movie about one night a year where all crime is legal, including murder. If you remember from last summer, I completely hated the movie. I put the film on my ten worst films of 2013 list, I thought it utterly missed the boat on something that could have been an intriguing political/social satire. Why with a premise like the one presented in "The Purge," would you just make a standard home invasion film? Plus, for a horror film, it wasn't scary. At all.

Alas, "The Purge" was a surprise hit last summer, so director James DeMonaco has written and directed a sequel entitled "The Purge: Anarchy." This year, a couple driving home on Purge Night will experience a broken down car on the worst night possible. Again, I can't stand that this idea is being set up for a horror film. Again, I can't stand that the purgers who inevitably happen upon the couple are wearing masks. Why would people wear masks Purge Night is free game on all crime for 12 hours? 

Despite DeMonaco revisiting some of the first film's big flaws, there is still some intriguing stuff going on in the trailer. It looks like the story involving the couple and the broke down car may be part of the film. As there are other scenes that don't seem to really connect to that story. It also looks like this sequel will bring tons more mayhem. Telling from the trailer, it looks like fire, motorcycles and what looks like armored cars will be part of the story in this sequel. This has a chance to be much more fun compared to the original, so maybe its worth checking out.

I am willing to give this sequel one more shot before I officially call it quits on this franchise. This has chance being fun, and sometimes a chance is all you need. There is potential in this idea, and my hope is that DeMonaco carefully digested the negative critical buzz of his first film and created a sequel that improved on it. That's what we as the audience can only hope for. There is still a chance this series could turn around.