Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Few Words About 2008

Happy New Year! Here is a few words about some of the highlights on cinema for 2008.

Everyone does a "Best Of" and "Worst Of" at the end of the year so I thought I would do something a little different on top of the usual stuff.


Biggest Suprise
- "Get Smart"

Steve Carell is great on "The Office" and I have found him funny in just about every movie role I have seen him in. For some reason, I was not expecting much from "Get Smart". I knew Carell would be good, I knew Anne Hathaway would be good for the role of Agent 99, but I was really suprised at how much I enjoyed the movie, it turned out to be way better than I had expected, and I would like to see a sequel. Good supporting cast, notbly Alan Arkin as The Chief and Dwayne Johnson as Agent 23. Good action, funny bits, and the blending of action with the comedy was really well done, which is more than I can say for the movie in my next category.

Biggest Disappointment - "Tropic Thunder"

What a letdown. Ben Stiller, someone I always count on for a good funny movie, and usually delievers. Add to that mix Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr. and you have a great comedic cast. The setting, actors in an action movie being thrown into a real life war zone, was a great idea. Too bad it fell way short of its potential. It completely separated the action from the comedy. The action itself was really good, but the comedy was sparse, and not even as funny as it could have or should have been. Downey was the best part of the film, and he was the funniest one in the movie. I didn't even really care for Stiller's character all that much. I have heard raves about this movie on other sites, but I just don't see it. Not terrible, an enjoyable movie, but not even close to what it should have been.

Most Fun - "Iron Man"

2008 was Robert Downey Jr's year, with two standout performances.No disrespect to "The Dark Knight" which was an amazing achievement in film. But let's face it, you cannot categorize it as a "fun" movie. "Iron Man" had a perfect balance of many elements. Drama, comedy, action. Robert Downey Jr took the movie and carried it on his shoulders. He played Tony Stark perfectly, and I cannot see anyone but him as that character. Things never got too serious, the action never got to be too much, in fact if anything was wrong with the movie you wanted just a bit more action. It also did the one thing a good superhero movie should do, it gave you a great movie with a great character that you want to see more of.

An Hour And A Half Of My Life I Will Never Get Back - "Meet The Spartans"

Ok I admit, I paid to see this turd. I like spoofs, and the previews looked kinda good. God how wrong I was. In 90 minutes, I think I chuckled, not laughed, maybe twice. A good comedy should make you laugh every couple of minutes should it not? Nothing about this movie was good. The acting, the story (story? or lack of), the attempted jokes. A good spoof will concentrate on a
specific movie or genre. "Blazing Saddles", "Spaceballs". But this turkey thought it would be funny (in a spoof of "300") to throw in jokes about "Dancing With The Stars", Britney Spears, video games, and way way too many gay jokes. This could possibly be the absolute worst comedy of the past decade. Hopefully the clowns who make these movies (they are responsible for the cinematic abortions "Superhero Movie" and "Disaster Movie") will stop getting money to make these unfunny ameturish dribble.

A Flop That Didn't Deserve It - "Speed Racer"

I don't know what people were expecting from this movie, but obviously it was not what anyone was thinking. Directed by the Wachowski Brothers, the duo that gave us "The Matrix" and its two sequels. It was exactly what it was supposed to be, a cartoon brought to colorful vibrant life. The special effects were top notch, the race sequences were fast paced and exciting. Ok, so it wasn't the deepest story in the world, so what?? It's a live action version of an old cartoon, what else was anyone expecting? The actors were good in their roles, there were some annoying aspects of the film, but overall it was an enjoyable family driven film. Maybe because the Wachowski's directed it people were expecting something more serious and story driven, but I thouroughly enjoyed this movie and it should have fared a lot better than it did.

Now, a quick rundown of some other noteworthy stuff-

Best Movie Of The Year - "The Dark Knight" It Changed the way we see Superhero movies forever, and gave us Heath Ledgers greatest, and sadly, final performance, thankfully it was the performance of a lifetime.

Best Performance - Heath Ledger as The Joker. Like I said already, he saved his best for his last.

Comeback Of The Year - Robert Downey Jr. "Iron Man" & he was the best and funniest thing in "Tropic Thunder", good to have you back Robert.

Best Cameo - Tom Cruise in "Tropic Thunder". Had he rest of the movie been as good as Tom's cameo, it might have been a lot better.

Well that's my little wrap up on 2008, what are your opinions on the best and worst of the year?

Monday, December 29, 2008

20th Century Fox - Big Jerks

EDITORS NOTE:Sorry there have been no entries this month, it's been a topsy turvy time in my life and I have had to put a few things on hold, but hopefully I can get back up to speed here on Movie Talk. Hope you keep coming back!


I used to have a lot of respect for 20th Century Fox, after all, they were the ones who backed "Star Wars" back in 1977, and since then have made a bunch of great films. But the past few months have been spent trying to halt the release of Warner Brother's "Watchmen". Apparently Fox owned the movie rights to "Watchmen" way back in the 80's but never went forward with the movie. When a Fox exec went over to WB, it seems he thought he could take the rights with him. Well WB went forward with the movie's production, and I guess that upset Fox, because they have been making a stink since production started. Now I am not saying Fox should not be upset, but what they have done is just sneaky and slimy. The movie, from what I know is finished, and Fox has just won a judgement saying they have rights to the property, and now the word is that Fox wants to halt the release of the film, scheduled for March 2009. Both sides are wrong. If Fox had the rights, they should have done something the minute WB went forward with the film's production, but they waited until the film was finished, and you know they want to take the film and release it and profit from it, and it would be pure profit because they didn't pay a dime for the movie, and that is just a crappy thing to do. WB, on the other hand, should have made sure they had the rights to the film. Maybe they thought they did, or got assurances that they did, but the proper legal steps should have been taken, and obviously they were not.

So now we are left with a big mess, two studios fighting for the right to release a high profile movie. Who suffers? Everyone involved, as well as the fans who want to see the movie. This could have been avoided, had proper steps been taken. But what could have and what should have happened really doesn't matter at this point. The best thing to do would be to have the studios do a joint release, and both profit. I seriously doubt that will happen, as greed will step in and both studios will probably not want the other to profit. At this point I side with WB. Sure they should have secured the rights to the film, but they went ahead with production, and they want to release their finished product. Fox wants to profit from the hard work of others, and I cannot side with them. Had they halted production from the start, I might be able to give them some support, but not now. Fox is upset because they had a crappy year in 2008, and aside from the new Wolverine movie, it doesn't look to be a good 2009 for them either, so they want to take a movie that has already been made and paid for, and profit from it. Jerks, big jerks. The moviegoers are the innocent ones here, we just want to see a good film, we don't care who the heck releases it. I just hope the movie doesn't sit in limbo and never sees a release, that would be just awful. Hopefully this will be resolved, and to the benefit of all involved....well all except Fox.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Say It Isn't So - A Remake of "Arthur"

Please say it isn't so. I have always complained about the never ending flow of remakes coming out of Hollywood. True, some turn out to be good, most either mediocre or terrible. Well now comes word that my favorite movie comedy "Arthur" is on tap to be remade. Here is part of the article I read over at IESB.net

Russell Brand might soon be caught between the moon and New York City.

The British comedian is developing a remake of "Arthur," the 1981 comedy that starred Dudley Moore, for Warner Bros. as a potential starring vehicle.

Brand is meeting with scribes to write the screenplay, which will be produced by MBST's Larry Brezner, whose credits range from "Good Morning, Vietnam" to HBO's recent "Little Britain USA."

If there is a god, please DO NOT let this one be remade. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY can replace Dudley Moore or Sir John Gielgud in their roles as Arthur Bach and Hobson. I don't care how funny the actors are or how talented they may be. This is as close to untouchable as you can get in my opinion. This is a classic comedy that stands the test of time, I watched it last week and I still laugh hysterically at it. There is no need to remake it. If it seemed stale or not as funny as it used to be, I could maybe understand the need for a remake. But that is not the case here, it is just as funny today as it was when it was released in 1981. I was very upset when I heard that they were remaking "The Day The Earth Stood Still" but the more I see of it, the more I feel that they may have done good with this. That movie was made at a time when nuclear war and Communism were very real threats against the world and the movie played off those fears, so the remake is taking the base story and giving it a modern theme. Fine, it just may work, the original story would not work by today's standards. But "Arthur" is totally different, it would not benefit from a modern retelling of the story, and as stated earlier, there is no way to replace the two lead actors and get the same results, it just isn't possible. This is one remake I will not support, nor will I pay money to go see it. When it's out on video? Maybe, but I doubt it. I just do not see any reason whatsoever to go through with this remake, but that's Hollywood for you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More "Speed" ?

When "Speed" came out in 1994, it was labeled as "Die Hard" on a bus, but those of us who saw it knew it was more than just that, it was a tense exciting action movie that was as close to a perfect action movie since the groundbreaking "Die Hard". I remember walking out of that movie and hoping to see Keanu Reeves return as Jack Traven.

Sadly that did not happen, Reeves decided not to reprise his role for the sequel and that was probably the smartest thing he has ever done because "Speed 2:Cruise Control" was a huge steaming pile of crap. Jason Patric took over as the cop, and while Patric is a good actor, he never seemed to really get into what he was doing on that movie and it showed. Even the usually reliable Sandra Bullock seemed kind of bored. The sequel took place on a cruise ship, not exactly something that goes fast, and really has no place in a movie with speed in the title. The movie bombed, thank goodness and that was the last we saw of the "Speed" movies.

Over at aintitcool.com, I read that they are actually trying to push a new "Speed" movie with Keanu back in the role of Jack Traven. Now you are treading on dangerous ground here. Bringing Keanu back gives appeal to the project, but what will people remember? The slam bang fast paced action of the first movie, or the lame watered down (literally) crap that was the sequel? I personally hated the sequel so much that I don't even count it as part of "Speed", so I welcome the idea of another "Speed" movie, and I am sure if they throw enough money at Reeves he will do it. They just better be sure they go for the feel of the first film, and just forget that a second film was even made.

Despite the appeal of another "Speed" movie, I think this just shows Hollywood's continuing lack of imagination. Remakes of movies barely 20 years old, sequels to movies 10 years old or more, why is it so hard to come up with something even semi original? I guess it's easy for me to complain because I don't make movies, I just watch them like most of us. But I just find it hard to believe that there is absolutely nothing original for Hollywood to do, they are just lazy. I understand the logic, go with established properties, make sequels because they have a built in audience, don't take a chance on something new and original because you cannot know how it will do. But because I understand the logic doesn't mean i agree with it. It's as if all Hollywood cares about is making money, entertainment seems to have taken a back seat. Hey I know that part of the reason to make movies is to make money, but damn, at what cost?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Quantum Of Solace

Went last night to see the new 007 movie, and i have to say it does not disappoint. Like most people, I was hesitant when they cast Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. He was a relatively unknown actor, blond hair blue eyes, not at all how we expect Bond to look. But over the years, I came to realize that you cannot truly judge how an actor will play a part until you see them do it. With the release of "Casino Royale" all my fears were put to rest. Craig is easily the best Bond since the great Sean Connery. I have personally liked every actor who has played Bond, I feel they all gave their own touch to the character, all of them played it a bit differently than the others did. "Die Another Day" was a good Bond film, but the cheese factor was really getting amped up, invisible cars, chases through ice hotels, it was just getting too over the top, even for 007. "Casino Royale" took Bond and started over again, it was his first mission as a full fledged agent, and we were able to see his flaws, he was not the smooth talking debonair ladies man we all came to know, but a blunt instrument, almost a loose cannon.

Well, that continues in "Quantum Of Solace", which picks up shortly after the end of "Casino Royale". The film opens with a balls to the wall car chase, a great pre-credit opening. You can tell that 007 is out for revenge for the death of Vesper Lynd, the woman he fell in love with in the last film. Even though she betrayed him, he clearly loved the woman, and wants to know why everything went the way it did. He tries to convince his superiors that he is motivated by his sense of duty, but we know better. Some people complained that the last film contained none of the humor that was always present in past films. Well, not much changes here, although there are quite a few good funny moments, definitely more than last time. The action in this movie is frantic, and edited in that way. That has been one of the complaints I have heard about this movie. I will admit that it is a bit crazy at times, yet I found myself not caring, the action was so good that it didn't really bother me as much as I thought it would. The opening car chase, a boat chase and a plane chase are all great action sequences. The villain, Dominic Greene, is not exactly your typical Bond bad guy, he is effective though, although I would have liked him to be a bit more menacing, but for what he was in this movie, he was effective. It was also nice to see Jeffery Wright back as Felix Leiter, although I wanted to see him a bit more involved, hopefully the next movie will do that. The climax of the film is great and leaves things wide open to continue with the mystery of what the Quantum organization is.

There is no Q, no Moneypenny, no gadgets, and I don't know if there are any immediate plans to bring them into this new Bond series, but you know what? That's fine, this is a new version of 007 and so far what we have been given has been awesome. If they do decide to bring back some of the traditional characters and the gadgets, I am confident that they will do so with the same grit that they have used in the two films we have been given. This is a new 007, it is not the 007 that our parents knew, or even one we know, but it is a great interpretation of the character, and truer to what author Ian Fleming had wanted the character to be, and I for one, welcome the continued adventures of Bond, James Bond.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Commentary: Know It Alls

I go on many movie sites, always looking for information on current and upcoming movies. Most of the sites I go to have some sort of forum or message board for members to post opinions and comments. Naturally, there are many types of people at these sites. Smart, stupid, funny, annoying, clever, nasty, among others. The ones that annoy me the most, are the "know it alls". These people put forth an image of a person who knows all there is to know about movies, they are never wrong and if you disagree with them, you are just a fool who doesn't know as much as they do. The reason I am writing about this is because of a thread of comments over at Aintitcoolnews.com regarding the trailer for the 2009 release of JJ Abram's "Star Trek". There has been much secrecy surrounding the movie, but we were finally given a full blown trailer this past week, and the reaction has been mostly positive. The trailer itself is only about two minutes long, and doesn't really reveal much as far as plot, but gives us a lot of cool images. I would have liked to have seen a bit more, and the trailer was edited at a very fast pace. But it is the most footage we have seen thus far, and although it was not much it looked pretty promising. Any fan of movies knows that trailers are not always a true representation of a movie's overall quality. They tend to show what the studios feel are the films best qualities, what they feel can lure audiences in. We have seen many movies that had great trailers and what was shown in the trailer turned out to be the best parts of the film, the rest being mediocre, or even bad. But regardless, it is almost impossible to judge if a movie will be good or bad based on two or three minutes of footage. I, like many others, have formed an opinion of a movie based on the contents of its trailer. But I always reserve final judgement after I have seen the finished product.

This brings me to the subject of my commentary. In the thread of commentary over at aintitcoolnews.com, there are many members who have already decided from two minutes of footage that "Star Trek" will be a worthless, steaming pile of crap. There are others who are saying that it doesn't look good, or what they have seen is crap, and that is fine, opinions are just that opinions. But it is the group of individuals that have already decided that the movie is going to suck that really bother me. I don't know what their reasons are, maybe they hate Star Trek, maybe they are Trek fans and hate what has happened to Trek in the past 20 years or so, perhaps they hate JJ Abrams and feel he isn't the right man for this project. The only thing I can understand is Trek haters, and their opinions really don't mean all that much to me anyways, although there were a few admitted non Trek fans who did say the trailer looked pretty good. But it's the ones who like Trek in some form that have already decided this movie will suck that bother me. When you try to have an intelligent discussion with these fools, all they do is tell you over and over how you are wrong and that the movie will suck and that's it. Sometimes they give reasons as to why they think what they do, and even so, things change from trailer to final cut. The funny thing is when they do give reasons, they come across as so arrogant and all knowing it is hard to take what they say seriously at all. They just come across as thinking they know everything there is to know about movies, and that their opinion is the only one that matters. If you argue with them you are wrong, you don't know as much as they do as far as they are concerned, and you will never be able to change their mind or even consider a different view no matter how good or convincing your argument may be. They are so convinced of their superiority that they will most likely go to see the movie they claim will suck, and no matter how they actually feel about it, they will return to the website they ranted on and say things like "It sucked just like I said it would" just to prevent themselves from looking like a total fool. They insult you, going so far as to telling you what kind of movie fan you are, or even the kind of person you are. Obviously these are incredibly insecure people who find some sense of self worth by doing and saying what they do, because what kind of person has a need to make themselves feel superior to a bunch of strangers, people they don't know but need to feel superior too. Regardless of their reasons, this group of people are annoying and their opinions are worthless, because all film is subjective, no one opinion is the right or wrong one, unless of course you talk to one of these self proclaimed geniuses.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blast From The Past #4

Time for another blast from the past, where I talk about my favorite movies from years back.

This time I will talk about a little movie called "The Hidden" an action/buddy/sci-fi movie. Released in 1987 and starring Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri, it is the story of 2 aliens, one a violent, murderous criminal, and the "cop" pursuing him. When the villain's body becomes useless, it transfers itself to another body making it extremely difficult to track. Kyle MacLachlan plays the alien cop, and Michael Nouri is the human cop who gets involved in this crazy hunt. This film went relatively unnoticed when it was released, grossing a meager $9.7 million. I saw this in the theaters and to this day it is a very enjoyable movie, but kind of got lost in a shuffle of 80's schlock sci-fi action flicks. It is not going to challenge your intellect by any means, but it is a fun, exciting ride with plenty of action, thrills and even a it of sentiment. The opening chase scene is one of the coolest to come out of the 80's, and both lead actors give convincing performances. Nouri is of course skeptical about the whole thing at first, but eventually realizes what is really going on. MacLachlan is subtle but convincing in his portrayal of a determined lawman, alien or not, he wants to get this criminal and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. There are a bunch of 80's cliches in the film, but it doesn't take away from the enjoyment of the movie. The characters actually have some depth and aren't typical cookie cutter characters. I cannot understand why this movie didn't do better, maybe the studio just didn't promote it as much as they should have. It really has a bit of everything, action, thrills, humor, sentiment, and none of it feels forced. It is a bit hyper violent at times, but it never feels like the violence or action was put in there just for the heck of it. It's never boring, always entertaining. If you have not seen it, put it in your Nexflix queue, get it from Blockbuster, but check it out. It's one of my favorite films from the 80's, and it's definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Commentary: Digital EFX

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry it has been a while since I posted anything here, life has been topsy turvy lately, and I am hoping to get back on track with posting here.

The world of visual effects has been steadily advancing since they started being used. Digital effects came along and so much changed, and for the most part, the change has been good. I have been seeing a lot said about this topic on other websites, but something that one person said really made me mad, it was something to the effect of "If you complain about digital effects, YOU ARE OLD and can't get past blue screen and obvious stuntmen". I am guessing that statement was meant to say that older visual effects techniques are outdated and useless, and that digital effects are the new thing and should be fully embraced and accepted.

I do applaud the advancement of digital visual effects and their use in film. My problem with them is that they are used way too much in film. It seems like the lazy way out, instead of building something that looks like whatever it is you want it to look like, just make a digital image of it and it will look just as good. WRONG. I was watching a few older sci-fi movies recently, circa 1979-1981, and I noticed something. Spaceships that were made from models and NOT digital images, look way more real, because they were real, the detail, the lighting, was all real, not computer generated. Shadows and lighting just don't look as good when produced digitally. The T-Rex from "Jurassic Park" was real, it looked real, someone took the time to make it look as genuine as possible. Look, I am not opposed to technology improving the way movies are made. There are a lot of things you can do with digital effects that you could never do with bluescreen or stuntmen or models. But just because you can use digital effects for everything, doesn't mean you should. In this years "Iron Man", director Jon Favreau used a nice balance of digital and practical effects, a good example of a director taking the best of both kinds of visual effects and using them where they were best suited, not for everything. Unfortunately, not all film makers take that direction. Even in the new "Star Wars" movies, which I loved, digital effects were overused. I absolutely loved "I Am Legend" with Will Smith, but even in that movie the biggest gripe with a lot of people was that the creatures were very obviously CGI. While that is true, I felt the movie was powerful enough that I was able to overlook that. But that is just another reason why digital effects are overused, for some people it can take away from the overall movie experience if the effects are not convincing. In many movies, explosions and fire are digitally produced, and it is usually pretty obvious. For me, that creates no illusion of danger, and therefore I feel no excitement. Yes when the fire and explosions are real it makes you feel the danger, because it IS REAL, doesn't matter if it is stuntmen or staged sequences, it still looks real.

I don't want to get rid of digital effects, I just want film makers to look at what works best and use it, not just decide that digital is the only way to go. I want to look at a movie and believe what is going on around me, not sit there and say "Oh that is so obviously CGI", which is what I find myself doing now more than ever.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Rant

Hey all, there has not been much happening lately in Hollywood, so I decided to just sit back and rant about random things, with no particular rhyme or reason, be it things I like or dislike, and in no particular order so here it goes.

Video game movies, they almost always suck, why is that? Because games are not supposed to be made into movies, they are supposed to be played.......Romantic comedies are always the same-boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, funny stuff happens, boy and girl break up for some stupid reason, they regret it, fix the problem then get back together, and that my friends is B O R I N G.......Why doesn't anyone realize that Clark Kent Is Superman? He parts his hair differently and wears glasses, THAT'S his disguise, he doesn't even change his voice, yet NOBODY makes the connection, oh and add to the fact that Clark is never around when Superman is, man the people of Metropolis are really stupid.......How many times are they going to remake "The Bad News Bears"??? They made 3 movies with the Bears, then proceeded to make "The Mighty Ducks", "Little Giants", "Ladybugs", "The Replacements", "Rebound", which were all good to mediocre movies, but the formula is exactly the same in every movie.......Do the people who make horror movies realize that making people jump is NOT scary, I have never walked away from a "slasher" movie scared, a horror movie has to induce fear, you have to walk away from it afraid, or at the very least mentally affected in some capacity, THAT'S what a horror movie should do.....I cannot remember a time in the last ten years that I saw a comedy that made me laugh so hard my stomach ached, there have been a lot of funny movies out, but none that made me laugh that hard, the last one I remember was in 1996, "The Nutty Professor".......I miss the days when visual effects were NOT done thru a PC, but with models, masks, costumes, spaceships looked way more real then they do with CGI, everything just looked better. CGI works some of the time and can do a lot that old school visual effects couldn't, but I am sick of CGI being used for EVERYTHING........Christian Bale is the best Batman that has graced the big screen, but he will most likely not be the last.......I will NEVER in my lifetime see "The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas" because they committed the ultimate sin in my eyes, they had the Great Gazoo in the movie and Harvey Korman DID NOT provide the voice which would be bad in any case, but is 100 times worse because Harvey Korman IS IN THE MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew, well I feel better now!!!! This might just become a regular thing here at Movie Talk, it was really fun to write and I hope you enjoy reading it, please feel free to leave comments on anything I ranted about, as always I welcome opinions.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Interview With Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan has made quite a name for himself in Hollywood. Of course, being director of the biggest movie to hit the big screen in quite some time helps, that movie of course is "The Dark Knight". Ever since it became a worldwide phenomenon, there has been talk about the next installment of the Batman series, where the story will go, will the Joker return, will there be new villians, who will play them, and of course, every bit of that talk has been just that, talk, nothing more. The LA Times Geoff Boucher sat down for an interview with the director, here is a snippet of it-

GB: "The Dark Knight" is closing in on $1 billion. How do you get your arms around that kind of success?

NOLAN: I can’t get my arms around it, to be quite frank. It’s mystifying. It’s terrific but at the same time it’s a little abstract, the numbers are so big. The biggest thrill for me would be, with the number of people who have gone to see the film, how "The Dark Knight" stood on the shoulders of the first film, how we were able to build the audience up and build the story up from the first film.
It's a really good interview, one I will be following, because it is in three parts. Nolan is a very good film maker. Aside from the Batman movies, he made the highly acclaimed "Memento", as well as 2006's "The Prestige" about rival magicians, and if you haven't seen either, I strongly suggest you give them a viewing, because the guy has talent that reaches beyond the Batman movies. It will be interesting to see the direction that the next Batman movie will take, assuming there will be one. Nolan seems to indicate that with the right story there will be another, but he doesn't exactly confirm there will be another. There is a part of me that cannot wait for another installment, but then there is a small part of me that says why try to top "The Dark Knight". Think about the pressure and expectations that Nolan and company will be under, how do you top the performance of Heath Ledger, and the overall accomplishment that "The Dark Knight " was? One answer is maybe you shouldn't try. I know most people would disagree with that, but when you try to top what is considered to be your best work, you run the risk of tainting that work. Not that I think Nolan would make a bad Batman movie, but I would totally understand if he wanted to walk away from Batman and do other things.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE INTERVIEW

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The New "Underworld" Movie

I am a big fan of both "Underworld" movies. Most of the time I am reading that a lot of people loved the first, not so much the second. I thought both of them were really good. I agree the first one is the better of the two, but the second is still solid and entertaining.

When I heard that Kate Beckinsdale was not reprising her role as Selene, I was a bit hesitant about a third installment. But after seeing the trailer for "Underworld:Rise Of The Lycans: I have to say that I am a bit more optimistic. It has the look and feel of both movies, and Rhona Mitra looks like she will fill in quite nicely as Selene. The always awesome Bill Nighy will be reprising his role as Viktor, which is awesome, he was great in both films. Well, he is pretty much great in whatever he does. Check out the trailer and see what you think, if you have any comments, as always, feel free to leave them.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRAILER

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Hulk-Villain

Yep, that's what I said. The Hulk was always "misunderstood", but in the comic book series "Ultimate Avengers" he was the bad guy, the one the Avengers had to fight, as he was going on a rampage and had to be stopped. Well it seems that idea is being thrown around as a storyline for the 2011 "Avengers" movie. Read about it in an article over at MTV's Splashpage, in which the reporter is talking to Marvel studios President of Production Kevin Feige-
“Here’s the thing — it is all in the planning stages, but certainly if you look back to any number of ‘Hulk’ comics, or ‘Avengers’ comics, or ‘The Ultimates’ comics or the ‘Ultimate Avengers’ DVD that we released, it certainly makes a hell of a sequence,”
I saw "Ultimate Avengers" and it was extremely cool, in fact you should check it out, it may be an animated movie but it plays out like a regular film, one I would love to see come to the big screen in live action. It was really cool to see the different super heroes fighting the Hulk, and the outcome of it all was.....well I won't spoil it for you but it was very cool. Now, Edward Norton who played Bruce Banner in this years "The Incredible Hulk" has had his problems with the film, and the studios, taking his name off of the writing credit he had for the film and not doing much in the way of promotion when the film was being released. That would seem to be a problem, but in this case it really is not. In "Ultimate Avengers" when we even saw Bruce Banner, it was not for very long. So replacing Norton would not pose much of a problem, even though I thought he did a very good job in the movie. With the exception of a select few, every actor is replaceable. The "Batman" movies have done it 4 times, 007 has been played by 5 actors, and even the Hulk has been played by 2 actors in 2 movies. But "The Avengers" is a long way off so who knows what will happen in that time, we still have a few other movies to introduce us to the other Avengers, but as I have said in previous posts, "The Avengers" could wind up being the ultimate super hero movie, if everything leading up to it is handled right.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sam Jackson & "Iron Man 2"

Read about this in an article over at Movieweb. Those of us who stayed until the end of the credits of "Iron Man" were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, the man who puts together the super hero team the Avengers. It was a really cool, albeit short scene to introduce the character and give us a hint of what is to come, that of course being the scheduled 2011 release of "The Avengers". Well it seems that according to Jackson, Nick Fury will have even more screen time in "Iron Man 2". From the article:
"As a matter of fact, Iron Man director Jon Favreau spoke to me at the Scream Awards last night, and told me that Nick Fury would have a much more prominent role in the second one (Iron Man 2)"
That is great news. Jackson is perfect to play the part, as he was the model for the character in the "Ultimates" comic series anyways, so to have him play it is just what Marvel wants. We should see more information about the Avengers in "Iron Man 2". If Marvel studios does this right, "The Avengers" could turn out to be the ultimate super hero movie. There are two other movies about Marvel heroes in the works, "Thor" and "The First Avenger:Captain America", both of whom are members of the Avengers. So there will be 3 movies to build up to the Avengers movie. That's a lot of pressure on Marvel studios, but if they continue the trend they started with this years "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk", I don't think we will be disappointed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More on "Star Trek"

Well, recently I posted that a new trailer for 2009's "Star Trek" will be hitting theaters next month. Well, now Paramount has released some more stills from the movie, and so far I am pleased with what I am seeing. Keep in mind though, these are just images, I have no idea of the acting ability of the cast, nor do I know much about the story or anything else. But going just on the images, it's looking pretty good so far.

Click here to see the images from movieweb.com

Now, I will say that i was a bit skeptical about Karl Urban playing Dr. McCoy, because Urban is a buff muscular dude, and Bones was a normal skinny guy. But after seeing the pics, I have to say he has the look pretty down. Zachary Quinto, playing Spock, is pretty much dead on as far as looking the part. In fact, most of the cast look like the characters they are supposed to be playing. But that is not enough, I have said it a million times before, they have to act exactly like the characters, something more important than looking the part. I like the look of the uniforms, right out of the original series but with a slightly modern feel to them. The bridge of the Enterprise looks very different from the TV series, which I don't have too much of a problem with. I have said it before, the movie doesn't have to look EXACTLY like the old Star Trek, but it does have to FEEL like Star Trek. The look is important, but, in my opinion, not nearly as important as the feel of the movie. Hopefully more images from the film will start emerging, and I hope the new trailer will give us even more insight into this new vision of Star Trek.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Batman Rumors

Since the mega success of "The Dark Knight", there have been rumors floating around like crazy, making fans drool with anticipation. I, for one, have not believed one word of what I have heard, and for one simple reason. The movie was still in theaters, and already there were rumors about the next movie, it is extremely rare that casting for a future installment of a franchise takes place before the current film is out of the theaters. People got so excited at the thought of Johnny Depp as the Riddler, or Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin, Angelina Jolie as Catwoman, and rightfully so. But no matter how successful a movie is, the people involved usually want to take a break, or do something different before jumping right in and going ahead with the next installment. Reading an article over at MTV's splashpage, screenwriter David
Goyer talks about the rumors circulating about the next Batman movie-

“It’s all B.S.,” he said. “ALL of it.”

That means, no, Nolan has not signed on (yet). No, there is no casting, let alone TALK, of villains, and, no, nobody is certain to return.

“Chris and I haven’t even talked about it. He quite understandably is taking a long, long vacation and wants to purge himself,” Goyer said.
Exactly what I have said all along, it is way to early to start talking about the next movie when the last one is barely out of the theaters. I realize that people are chomping at the bit for another Batman movie, and will jump at any bit of information that starts to float around. But you need to be realistic, and those who have been drooling over all the rumors floating around, time to come back down to earth. When there is an announcement from Warner Brothers, or Christopher Nolan, then I will get excited. Until then, it's all pure speculation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hollywood News Beat

Here are some of the latest tidbits coming out of Tinseltown the past few days.

Recently, I talked about the go ahead given to "Lethal Weapon 5", well, sadly it seems that is not going to happen. The actor most needed for this project, Mel Gibson, has said he is not interested in doing another chapter of the long running franchise. This is really a shame, as all of the "Lethal Weapon" movies have been good fun, and another one would have no doubt been the same. Why Gibson turned it down is strange to me as his star has faded in the past few years, and a return to familiar territory may have been just what he needed to get back into the limelight (in a positive way). Oh well, here is to hoping that Mel made the right choice.

One of the great movies of the 80's was Oliver Stone's Wall Street, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. It earned Douglas an Best Actor Oscar, and deservingly so. I, for one, never envisioned a sequel to "Wall Street", but apparently the suits at 20th Century Fox have, as it seems that a sequel is in the works, tentatively titled "Money Never Sleeps". Michael Douglas is not officially on board yet, but has expressed interest in returning to the character of Gordon Gekko. Charlie Sheen's character, Bud Fox, will not be in this story, with the focus being on Gekko. This could be good, but it depends on the direction the story takes. Douglas is a great actor and it would be great to see him as Gekko again. I just don't understand this trend of making sequels to movies that were released a long time ago. I am not necessarily,against it, I just don't understand it. You take a big chance when you make a sequel to a movie that was released 20 plus years ago, because you not only have to attract the core fans of the movie, but new ones as well.

One of the actors from this years "Iron Man" will not be returning for the sequel. Actor Terrance Howard who played Tony Stark' best friend Rhodey, will not be reprising his role. Apparently, Howard was asking for too much money to return, and the studio decided to dump him, replacing him with the excellent Don Cheadle. Seeing as this was not a major role in the first movie, it really should have no effect on the sequel. Cheadle is a great actor, and will do just fine in the role. See what happens when you get greedy?

I am at a loss to understand all the hype surrounding "Twilight". I have seen the trailer, and was not terribly impressed. The whole good vampire thing has been done before. Personally I want vampires to BE vampires, I don't want to see a bloodsucker with a conscience, that is just not very interesting to me. But regardless, I will still see if just to see if all the hype surrounding it is justified. Apparently, the rabid following that "Twilight" has is apparently so huge, that a sequel has already been greenlit. That indicates that the studio is expecting huge returns on the first "Twilight" movie, being released at the end of next month. Seems that this decision was based on the huge amount of views the trailer has gotten and the fact that the soundtrack is already poised to sell huge numbers, based on pre-sale numbers from Amazon.com. All I can say is that this movie better be as huge, sometimes a movie can get weighed down by its hype, and considering the rabid following and the hype this movie is generating, it had better be everything its fans expect it to be.

Well, that's a wrap for now. As always, feel free to leave any opinions!

Monday, October 13, 2008

New "Star Trek" Trailer Next Month

There has been much secrecy concerning JJ Abrams "Star Trek" movie. The initial trailer was just a teaser of the Starship Enterprise being built, nothing more. There have been posters with the faces of the actors portraying Kirk, Spock, McCoy & Uhura. But that's it, nothing more. Seeing as the film is coming out next summer, that does not seem to be good marketing. The "Star Trek" franchise has not fared well in recent years, and the anticipation and excitement for this film needs to be high, but with nothing to see or get excited about, that cannot happen.

Well, according to an article I read over at screenrant.com, we will actually be seeing a trailer for the new movie in November. Word is the trailer will include both exterior and interior shots of the Enterprise, as well as dialogue from the film. The veil of secrecy is finally being lifted, and it's about time. There is huge risk attached to this film, because it re-casts the iconic roles from the original series with younger actors. The actors need to convince us that they are indeed these characters, there can be no doubt in our minds. On top of it all, the story needs to be rock solid as well. If successful, this could be the launching point for a whole new series of "Trek" films. Being a huge fan, I am skeptical, but I will be seeing it. The problem is not really even the Trekkies, it is convincing the average movie goer that this movie is worth seeing. Sometimes keeping a movie under secrecy is good, it worked with "Cloverfield", but with a property like "Star Trek", the more you see, the better, at least in my opinion. Only time will tell if the marketing strategy for this film will work, Paramount sure has a lot riding on it, so do all involved. The trailer coming out next month is the first step, hopefully it will work the way the producers want it to. I just want the movie to do justice to the Trek name. What are your thoughts?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Movies That Bombed That Shouldn't Have #2

Director Brad Bird, best known for the huge hits "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille" started directing feature films with his 1999 release, "The Iron Giant".

Set in the 1950's at the height of the paranoia of the cold war, it tells the story of a small boy named Hogarth who befriends a giant hulking robot, who we don't really know much about, except that he crash landed from space, but as the story moves along, we realize it doesn't really mater where he came from, he is here and that's all that matters. The two develop a close friendship, almost like a father son relationship, which makes sense seeing as Hogarth grew up without a father. They play together, Hogarth shows the giant comic books, and hides him in barn at his house, but moves him to a scrap metal yard when a snooping Federal agent rents a room at his house. I won't go any further into the story, but it is really great.

This film was grossly mis-marketed in 1999, and everyone involved knew it. It was incredibly well received by critics, and those who did see it highly praised it as well. unfortunately, critical raves and word of mouth was not enough for this film, and what a absolute shame that was. It is one of the most charming, fun and well made animated films, ever. Believable characters, a great story, and animation that is second to none. The relationship between Hogarth and the giant seems unbelievable at first, but it works on all levels. The story reflects the paranoid feeling of the cold war in the 50's, as did most of the science fiction of the time, dealing with themes of fear of the unknown and the fear of war. The film was heavily marketed for its video release, but it really never gained the popularity it so richly deserves. It is a movie that can be equally enjoyed by both kids and adults, and I have watched it with my kids many times. If you don't have kids, doesn't matter, get this movie and watch it anyway. If you do have kids, well of course, get it and watch it with them, either way you owe it you yourself to watch this masterpiece that should have fared wayyyyyy better than it did.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"The Unborn" trailer

Saw this online and had to post it, looks really creepy. It was written by David S. Goyer, whose writing credits include- "Blade II","Batman Begins" & "The Dark Knight", and stars Gary Oldman.

Check it out:



Now I love horror films, but I am not easily scared by them. in fact, the last horror movie I saw that gave me a good scare was "The Grudge" and that was 4 yeas ago. But I have to say that "The Unborn" looks extremely creepy. I realize it is just a trailer, but it is definitely enough to make me want to go see it. Most horror films these days are only worth seeing on video, some are not worth seeing at all. I like the "Saw" films, but come on, "Saw V"??? Talk about milking an idea til there is nothing left. I haven't seen "Saw IV" but after "Saw III" it was starting to get repetitive, so I didn't bother, but I am sure I will see it sooner or later. I think Hollywood needs to start making good, ORIGINAL scary movies again. Enough with the remakes and sequels already, most of them suck anyways. Give us something new, something that will scare us, not shock us, but scare the crap out of us, PLEASE!!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Hollywood News Beat

Well there has been very little going on in Hollywood these days, as it is gearing up for the holiday movie season. Interesting news has been in short supply, so i will go over the most interesting things I have read about in the past few days.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover look to be returning for a fifth installment of the "Lethal Weapon" series, even though the last film looked like it was the last in the series. I have always liked the Lethal Weapon movies and welcome another chance to see Riggs and Murtagh back in action. If Stallone and Willis can do it, so can these guys.

Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter have joined the cast of Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland". The two actresses join Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, in this retelling of the classic children's story. Now I am a bit hesitant on this one. Johnny Depp is a great actor, but the last time he went this route with Burton we got "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory", and although it made a lot of money and people seemed to like it, I thought it sucked. Willy Wonka was made into a pretty mean despicable guy, and the annoying kids from the original were even more unbearable in the remake. Wonka's childhood was an unnecessary addition to the film, it took away from the character. I hope Burton does a better job with "Alice In Wonderland"

Read a really interesting interview with Jeff Bridges, where he talks about "Iron Man", and "Tron 2", among other things. A really great actor and a good interview, check it out. I thought he was great in "Iron Man", and have been aching for a second "Tron" movie for years. "Tron 2" would not be the same without Bridges, and I am very excited that he is doing it, I will definitely be there opening night!

The plot for the movie "The First Avenger:Captain America" was revealed, and it seems it will be taking place in the 1940's, exactly where it should. Cap was a product of WWII, and was frozen and revived many years later, becoming the leader of the Avengers. Taking liberties with comic book characters has always been done, and sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But changing Captain America's origin, taking it into a modern day setting, would be wrong. The movie is coming out only a few months before the Avengers movie is scheduled to be released, so I am sure it will end with Cap being frozen and the Avengers movie will start with him being found years later. Marvel studios is on a roll, and let's hope they continue the standard of quality they have set with "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk". Speaking of the big green guy, as well received as the new movie was, by both fans and critics, there doesn't seem to be a new Hulk movie on the horizon. Apparently Marvel was not happy with the returns on "The Incredible Hulk", as well as star Edward Norton's distancing himself from the promotion of the movie. Too bad because Norton was good in the role and the movie was great fun.

Well that's a wrap for now, any comments are, as always, welcome and encouraged.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mr. 75 Million??

Ok, this is insanity, nothing but pure insanity. There are reports floating around that Johnny Depp will be getting the staggering sum of $75 million for starring in a fourth "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movie. Depp is, unquestionably, the face of the Pirates movies, and nobody could possibly replace him as Capt. Jack Sparrow. The three "Pirates" movies have made in excess $2.7 billion dollars worldwide, so it may seem like $75 million is small in comparison. Even if "Pirates 4" is a sub par movie, like "Pirates Of The Caribbean:At Worlds End" was it will still make a ton of money, just because of Depp's presence. But, is that really enough to justify such a enormous paycheck? Studios constantly complain of rising costs. bloated paychecks, and not enough returns. Granted, "Pirates" is a proven name, but I don't feel that anything justifies this ridiculous amount of money being paid to ONE actor for what would probably amount to about three months work. There are some movies whose entire budget is $75 million, and they want to give it to one guy. I will say that Depp is worthy of a large payday, but no one actor is worth this much. But if he gets this money, bravo to him, and I will not have one ounce of sympathy for the movie studios when actors start demanding ridiculous paydays like this one, because you know once Depp gets this, other actors will follow. You have to spend money to make money, but not like this.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Segal Talks "Under Siege 3"

Well, it seems action star Steven Segal wants to get back into the theaters. After spending many years in the direct to video market, in an interview with MTV, Segal says he is looking to go back to his "Under Siege" series. The direction he wants to take, is a bit, ummmm......stupid. You would think that he would want Casey Ryback to fight terrorists, crazed militants, but no, he wants to go the outer space route. Now I loved both "Under Siege" movies and have always thought there should be another. But aliens? I don't want to flat out say it cannot work, but I don't have great confidence that it would. Check out the video of the interview-



It doesn't seem like anything is set in stone here, but I really hope that the alien thing is avoided at all costs. I enjoy Segal's movies and love watching him beat the crap out of people. So the idea of him taking on aliens is not really appealing to me, and I am going to guess it would not be very popular with movie audiences either. Note to Steven-Stick to what you are best at, give us what we want to see and we may welcome you back to the theaters.

James Earl Jones To Be Honored By SAG

All I can say is it's about time! The great James Earl Jones will receive a lifetime achievement award this year from SAG. Jones, known throughout the world as the voice of iconic villain Darth Vader, has had a long and distinguished career. His voice is what instantly identifies him, as it is one of the most unique and recognizable voices in the world. Oddly, Jones spent much of his childhood as a mute as he had a terrible stutter that he was able to overcome, but not until he reached high school age. Aside from Darth Vader, Jones gave his voice to Mufasa, father of Simba in "The Lion King", played a boxer in "The Great White Hope", was the villainous Thulsa Doom in "Conan The Barbarian", Eddie Murphy's father in "Coming To America", Jim Greer, Jack Ryan's friend and mentor in "The Hunt For Red October", "Patriot Games", "Clear And Present Danger", and so many others. He is the voice of news network CNN. He is one of those actors that can brighten any role, any movie he is in, good or bad. His tiny role at the end of "Sneakers" was a highlight of that film.

I cannot think of an actor more deserving of this honor, it's about time he was recognized for his contributions to the entertainment world.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Michael Bay:The Director People Love To Hate

Michael Bay....just mention the name and your likely to get a strong reaction, good and bad. Among many "movie geeks" he is revered as "the single greatest thing wrong with American cinema", which to me is a bit of a stretch. He is also one of the more successful directors of the past 13 years. So let's take a look at this.

Bay started making movies in 1995 with "Bad Boys". The movie was a modest hit, it had a $23 million budget, and grossed $65 million. Not bad for your first feature film.

Next up was 1996's "The Rock", which pulled in $134 million, and was a good slam bang action movie and showed that Bay was a very capable action director. 1998's "Armageddon" with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck pushed Bay into $200 million territory with a gross of $201 million. It pulled heavily on the heartstrings, and that obviously was part of the reason for the movie's success. That was also one of the things that the film's detractors pointed out, that it pulled at the heartstrings to cover up for what was a totally implausible movie.

In 2001 Bay gave us "Pearl Harbor" his attempt at making a "Titanic" like historical epic/love story. The influence of "Titanic" was obvious from the get go, and that was a big point of criticism. Overall, I felt it was a solid movie, the attack on Pearl Harbor was amazingly well done, and from what I have heard, was an almost perfect re-creation of the historic attack. I will admit I was not crazy about the overt attempts to once again pull at the heartstrings, which worked fine in "Armageddon" but seemed forced in "Pearl Harbor". Regardless of its faults, "Pearl Harbor" grossed a respectable $198 million. Short of expectations, but profitable nonetheless.

Bay did his first sequel in 2003 with "Bad Boys II" which grossed almost twice as much as the first ($138 million), but because of its bloated budget ($130 million) was considered a moderate failure. It didn't have the same charm as the first one, and some people actually complained that it had too much action and not enough of a story to drive it. This pleased Bay's detractors, and his next movie would be his next misstep, pleasing them even more. "The Island" came out in 2005 and grossed a mere $35 million on a $126 million budget. At this point, Bay was considered a master of blowing things up to cover up the fact that he was unable to tell a good story. His detractors were hoping that this was the end of the Bay era, two big budget failures in a row is certainly enough to make a studio leery of shelling out a crap load of money for another big budget spectacle. Much to the dismay of his haters, Bay delivered "Transformers" in 2007, and he was back on top. The film had a gross of $319 million and a sequel, "Transformers:Revenge Of The Fallen" is due next summer.

After all of this I am sure you are thinking I am a Michael Bay "apologist". That is not the case. Am I a fan of his movies? Yes, I have no shame in saying I enjoy his films. Do I think he is a great film maker? No. He can blow things up with reckless abandon, and does it well. As far as story telling, he falls short. Most of the movies he makes are thin on story, long on action. The characters in most of his films are stereotypical, with a few exceptions (one that immediately comes to mind is John Mason, played by Sean Connery in "The Rock"). "Armageddon" was loaded with them, as was "Transformers". I could swear he uses the same music in just about every movie. Yes, I agree that "Bad Boys II" had too much action and not enough story. I know it was an action movie, but it veered so far from the first one that it was just too much, there was not enough interaction with the main characters like there was in the first one. Not that I didn't enjoy it, it just was not as good as it could have been. "Pearl Harbor" tried too hard to be like "Titanic", and while it told the historical part of the story quite well, the love story aspect of the film is what pulls it down. "Transformers" was another movie I enjoyed immensely, but again, it had its flaws. The action at some points was so crazy it was hard to tell who was who and what the heck was going on. But just because I havecriticisms about his movies does not mean I don't enjoy them, and I think that's what a lot of people feel. The people who hate Bay feel he insults your intelligence, cannot tell a story and just blows stuff up when he cannot figure out what else to do, and let me tell you, the people who hate him really hate him. I have seen things said about him on other websites that I cannot even repeat here because of the profane nature of what was said. But his movies are entertaining, and people can overlook flaws in a film as long as it entertains them. Look at "Independence Day" that movie is LOADED with flaws, but it was a fun, mindless ride. People go to movies to be entertained, and sometimes we just want to sit back, turn off our brains and have a good time. I think that is why a lot of people hate Bay, because the movies he makes really don't take a lot in the way of talent. But if actors can get by on minimal talent, why not a director? As long as his movies entertain, he will continue to get money to make more, and, much to the dismay of his haters, his movies entertain. Like him or not, he will continue to make movies. I do think at some point he needs to evolve or he will see his style of movie making become tiresome. But for now, what he does seems to suit the studios and audiences just fine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Eagle Eye" Tops Box Office

Early box office reports say that "Eagle Eye" is the top film of the weekend with an approximate gross of $29 million, giving Shia LaBeouf yet another hit. Say what you want about this guy, he makes good choices. Since having smaller roles in "Constantine" and "I Robot", He has had great success in his leading roles- "Disturbia", "Transformers" and as Indy's sidekick Mutt Williams (dumb name) in "Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull". That roll is likely to continue this summer with the release of "Transformers:Revenge Of The Fallen". I have heard a lot of flack given to this guy and personally I don't think it's deserved. He seems to give it his all in the roles he plays, unlike some young actors who seem to sleepwalk through the movies they are in. He comes across as a normal guy in extraordinary circumstances. He doesn't try to be a glorified action hero, I really think he has been believable in the roles he has played so far. He got a lot of flack for being in the Indy movie, but he did the best with what he had, that movies faults were not because of him. I, for one welcome this young actor's presence and hope he continues doing movies for a long time, it will be interesting to see where his career leads him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Disney, Depp & Developments

Seems that Johnny Depp is quite comfortable in his relationship with Disney, as he will be in at least two upcoming projects for the studio. Disney also announced a bunch of projects in development. From Hollwoodreporter.com-

Move over, Mickey Mouse: Johnny Depp, having buccaneered his way through three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, is becoming the new mascot of Walt Disney Studios.

Depp, taking on the role of the Mad Hatter, has accepted an invitation to join the manic tea party in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland."

In a surprise piece of casting, Depp also will play the sidekick Tonto in the upcoming movie version of "The Lone Ranger."

A daylong preview of upcoming Disney movies and projects, held Wednesday at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland, ended with a surprise appearance by the actor, outfitted as Jack Sparrow, walking onstage to the tune of "The William Tell Overture," the "Lone Ranger" theme.


Other announcements of note include a third "National Treasure" movie, the moving up of the release date of "Cars 2" from summer 2012 to summer 2011, and a return to traditional animation with "The Princess And The Frog" with Oprah Winfrey lending her voice to that project. That one in particular really pleases me. Not that I am all that excited about the movie itself, but it's nice to see that traditional animation is not dead. I love Pixar films, they are the current gold standard of animation, but since the advent of 3D CGI animation, traditional animation has been pushed to the side. There is no reason for this, there is enough room in the entertainment world for both kinds of animation, and I for one would like to see even more traditionally animated movies in the future.

Also on tap from Disney, a return to the "Witch Mountain" series, one of my favorites when I was growing up, a new version of "A Christmas Carol", and the one I am most looking forward to, "Tron 2.0". I remember seeing the original "Tron" in the theaters, and always thought that they should make a sequel. For whatever reasons they waited so long, one is finally in the works. It obviously won't be as groundbreaking as the original, but hopefully it will give us a great story and awesome action.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Blast From The Past #3

Welcome to the third installment of "Blast From The Past". There was a time when Eddie Murphy ruled movies. His first two films, "48 Hrs" & "Trading Places" were both solid hits, then he hit the pinnacle of his movie career with 1984's "Beverly Hills Cop". The story of a streetwise, wisecracking Detroit police officer tracking his best friend's killers in Beverly Hills was a perfect vehicle for Murphy, who had so many great years on "Saturday Night Live" and already had two great movies under his belt. It's hard to believe that the part of Axel Foley was first offered to Sylvester Stallone, because I cannot see anyone but Murphy as Foley, because he is why the movie works. The story itself is your typical fish out of water tale, but it is Murphy and his portrayal of Foley that make you look past the standardizations of the movie. It's his charm that gets him by, along with his wit, and his crazy con man antics . Who can forget the great scene when Foley first meets Bronson Pinchot's Serge at the art gallery ("And what it's pertaining" Serge asks him when requesting to see his old friend Jenny). Foley arrives at a Beverly Hills hotel, claiming to be a reporter from Rolling Stone, conning his way into getting a room in a seemingly full hotel. Inspector Rafferty, US customs service, who he claims to be to investigate a suspicious warehouse. So many great funny moments in this movie, I could go on and on about them. I have always said a true test of a movies durability is its ability to be timeless, and this is definitely one of those movies. I can watch it anytime and still laugh at everything I laughed at before. This is also a perfect example of a movie that was not made with the notion of a sequel in mind, yet when the inevitable sequel did arrive, it was, in my opinion, just as good as the first one. Sadly, the third installment took a nose dive into god awful territory. There is a fourth installment in the works, but I don't have high hopes for it at this point, as Eddie Murphy's movie career is not exactly what you would call in good standing right now. I hope it is good, because #3 was an abomination. Regardless of how #4 turns out, there will always be what should be considered a gold standard for action comedies, if you haven't seen it, see it, and if it's been a while, rent it and remember how great Eddie Murphy once was.

I Am Legend Prequel Is A Go

A Prequel to the Will Smith's 2007 hit "I Am Legend" is gearing up, read about it over at Comingsoon.net -

Variety is confirming what Francis Lawrence told ShockTillYouDop.com at Comic-Con International two months ago, that Warner Bros. is starting to get the ball rolling on a prequel to the 2007 Will Smith blockbuster "I Am Legend", which grossed $584 million internationally.

Now I am a big Will Smith fan, I enjoy all of his movies, and "I Am Legend" was no exception, a exciting, tense, well done movie. But I am not that excited at the notion of a prequel. Obviously a true sequel cannot be done, and as is the norm with Hollywood, they want to capitalize on the success of the first film. The thing that made "I Am Legend" so good was seeing Smith totally alone in New York City, seeing what he does every day just to make it to the next day, his hope, his futility, his loneliness, his determination to cure the human race. A prequel will show us everything that led up to the first movie, but I am thinking that it really doesn't matter what happened, we were given enough information in the first film about that. I really don't care all that much about seeing a full blown movie about the events leading up to the first film. Prequels are a funny thing, in order for them to work, they have to tell a story people want to see because we already know what will happen afterwards. Personally, this is not something I am all that interested in seeing. Will it do well? Probably, because of Smith, but just because you can make a prequel to "I Am Legend" doesn't mean you should.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hollywood Today

Movies are a great form of entertainment. They can take us places we have never been, to the future, the past, great moments in history. Movies can tell us great epic stories, or small meaningful ones. They make us laugh, cry, scare us, excite us. But the last few years, in my opinion, have seen a steady decline in the quality of movies. Sure, technology is evolving and letting movies do things they could not do 20 years ago, but it seems to be an excuse for the lack of a good story to tell. Flash some great visual effects at an audience, and a lot of times they will forget they are watching something with no story, or at the least a thin one that is just an excuse to show the visual effects. Old ideas recycled and not even done well. Remakes of movies that should not be done, too many sequels, no more original ideas, all part of the problem.

In 2007, 6 of the top ten films of the year were sequels. The two biggest ("Spider Man 3" and "Shrek The Third") were sequels. Now don't get me wrong, sequels are not a bad thing, most of the time they are an opportunity to tell an ongoing story with characters we really like and want to see again. What bothers me is when movies are made with the notion of a sequel (or sequels) in mind, therefore giving us a sort of incomplete movie. "Star Wars", "Back To The Future", "Die Hard" were all movies that were stand alone movies, conceived without the notion of a sequel and therefore the sequels that followed were solid films. Now, "Back To The Future" II & III were filmed back to back, and the quality dropped off from II to III and the box office reflected that. George Lucas did want to do a continuation of "Star Wars" when he was filming it, but he never thought the film we be successful, because at the time science fiction was not a popular genre, so he ended the film in such a way that it did not warrant a sequel had the film not been a success. A perfect example of an incomplete film is "Jumper" released earlier this year. The film had it's fun moments, but when it was over you felt there was something missing, like the movie should have been longer. My girlfriend described it as an "hour and a half trailer", and that is just how it felt. It was as if the film makers were trying to get us excited for more, but didn't deliver on it, the movie left you wanting more, but not more as in another movie, more as in more movie, right now. The ending was anti climactic, and left you scratching your head and wondering what the producers were thinking. A good example of a movie that delivers the goods and leaves you wanting more is this years "Iron Man". It was in terms of comic book movies, an "origin" story. Just as the first "Spider Man" was. The thing these two movies did well is tell a complete story, and at the end you don't feel like you did not get a complete movie, but at the same time you want to see more.

Therein lies the problem, Hollywood anticipates that audiences will want to see more and therefore gives us incomplete films. With an established names, like Star Wars, James Bond, Harry Potter, sequels are expected and wanted. When you make a film that is something new, it is always best, in my opinion, to tell a complete story, make the film stand on its own. Even if the intention is to make more than one, make it so that a sequel is not necessary, but can be done.

Another evolving problem in Hollywood: remakes. I know I have talked about this before ("Remakes And Hollywood") but it is a constant irritant to me. Everything it seems is being remade these days. Oh I know they have other terms for it- "reboot", "re imagining" "re visioning", all terms I hate. Even sequels are being called remakes. I have heard rumblings about a "sequel" to "Point Break", and that is just ridiculous. The same story, different actors, that is not a sequel, but a remake. A sequel is a continuation of the first movie, same characters, different story, or a continuation of the first films story. That's what "Dirty Dancing :Havana Nights" was, a remake. Sure, Patrick Swayze had a cameo in it, but that was merely to give it the "Dirty Dancing" name. One of the latest things is a new "Robocop" movie. Which I don't necessarily have a problem with if they are going to make something new out of it and not just remake the original, which does not need to be remade. What else, a remake of "Friday The 13th", "A Nightmare On Elm Street", "Highlander". My point here is that Hollywood is trading imagination for established properties. I understand that movies are a business and are supposed to make money. I also know that the American public is growing more and more undemanding as far as movies are concerned, but Hollywood has lowered its standards and so has the American public. But we need to demand better from Hollywood, because they sure as heck can deliver it if they want to. Originality is almost non existent in Hollywood these days, and being someone who loves movies, I not only want it to come back, I demand it to come back. Most of the movies I love and treasure were made 10 years ago or longer, and while there have been quality movies the last decade or so, there have not been enough of them. I will never stop going to the movies because I love them, but I want going to the movies to be an experience again like they used to be. Wake up Hollywood.