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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Green Hornet Gets The Green light

Now this is awesome news, read about it at Comingsoon.net

Stephen Chow, one of Asia's most popular box-office draws as the award-winning star and director of such films as "Kung Fu Hustle", "CJ7", and "Shaolin Soccer", will direct Seth Rogen and star opposite him as Kato in Columbia Pictures' "The Green Hornet", set for release June 25, 2010, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, presidents of Columbia Pictures.
Chow is an awesome director of action, "Kung Fu Hustle" was both funny and had great action sequences, "Shaolin Soccer" was more of the same. I don't know about casting Seth Rogen as the Hornet, he is good in comedies, but it remains to be seen if he can cut it as an action star. Chow will be playing the role of Kato, the Hornet's sidekick. This was the role that brought Bruce Lee to the attention of the American public back in the 60's, and Chow definitely has the chops to play a good Kato. This is definitely something that can turn into a series of films, my only concern, as I said earlier, is Rogen. To get a taste of what to possibly expect from Chow, rent the two films I mentioned, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jude Law As Watson?

Read about this in an article at Variety.com, this is shaping up to be a very promising possible franchise.

Jude Law is negotiating to join Robert Downey Jr. in "Sherlock Holmes," the drama that Guy Ritchie will direct for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures.
Guy Ritchie is a pretty decent director, and with Downey and Jude Law on board as Holmes and Watson, this could turn into a series of really good films. There has not been a Sherlock Holmes movie in quite some time, in fact, the last one I remember was "Young Sherlock Holmes" and that was not an official Holmes story, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote an official story about Holmes's childhood. So this is basically a fresh start for the detective, and I think Downey will be great as Holmes, he has always been a great actor. Downey is one of those actors who can be the only good thing in a bad movie (like in the so so "US Marshals", no disrespect to Tommy Lee Jones). This is a movie I am definitely looking forward to.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brett Ratner To Possibly Direct Conan

The director every fanboy loves to hate, Brett Ratner, has been offered the director's chair for the upcoming Conan movie. He is mulling it over, as it seems that he is considering a ton of other movies to make. This is a guy who has gotten a bad rap among movie fans, so I am sure the fanboy community is up in arms about this news. Let's take a look at some of Mr. Ratner's movies. He has done 4 movies with actor Chris Tucker, the 3 "Rush hour" movies, as well as "Money Talks". The first two "Rush Hour" movies were good buddy/action movies, #3 was just terrible, "Money Talks" was good dumb fun. He directed "Red Dragon", a remake of the movie "Manhunter" about the capture of Hannibal Lechter. "Red Dragon" was a decent movie, not great, but decent. I think what gave him the bad rep among fanboys was "X-Men:The Last Stand". It was certainly the weakest of the three X-Men movies, a lot of people I know who loved the first two absolutely hated Ratner's film, citing that it totally strayed from the comics. Well, movies almost never truly follow the comics, so I don't see why that is a big problem. They also didn't like the fact that they tried to cram too much into the movie, which I agree with. There seemed to be an effort to incorporate more mutants into the movie, but so many got very limited screen time, and they should have either been left out, or given more screen time. There is no reason that the movie could not have been over two hours long, 2 1/2 to 3 hour movies are more common than ever, and make money. I think Ratner's attempt at squeezing so much into 1 hour 44 minutes when he could have just as easily extended the movies running time is what pissed off a lot of people. Either way you look at it, the guy makes watchable, if not spectacular movies. I understand the concern at letting him helm a Conan movie, it's an epic story and deserves to be told as such. Ratner has not made anything resembling an epic to this point, so he had better step it up if he is going to make a Conan movie that people want to see. Does he have it in him? At this point I am going to say no. But who though Mel Gibson could direct "Braveheart" as well as he did? Something tells me Ratner should stick to what he does best, and epic film making is not what he is best at.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

7 Minutes from "The Day The Earth Stood Still" Remake

Just before the premiere of the new Fox show "Fringe", Fox TV aired 7 minutes of footage from the December 12th release of "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Now I was skeptical about this movie being done from the get go, a classic film being remade with modern themes is always tricky, and usually brings less than stellar results. The original brought a message of the dangers of nuclear war, in the remake it's global warming.....ehhhhhh I don't know. Keanu Reeves is a decent enough actor, but when you mess with a classic there is always danger. I watched the 7 minute clip, and I have to say I am a bit more interested now. I have yet to see much resemblance to the original, but that doesn't mean much right now. Check out the footage for yourself and see what you think.

The Day The Earth Stood Still - 7 minutes of footage at Screen Rant

Looks pretty cool, and I was going to see it anyways, but I have a bit more hope that it will be good after seeing this footage. I have read opinions on other sites about this, and most people who were not thrilled with the original trailer, are still not impressed with it. I don't know why, the extended footage is more complete than the short trailer, and seems to give a better focus on the movie. I guess we will see when the film is released on December 12th. I hope it will be good, the original is one of my favorite sci-fi films, and I hope they do it proud.

Behind The Scenes of "Bolt"

I love animated films. Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, all have quality animated films. In November, Disney brings us "Bolt". The story of a dog who plays a super hero in a TV series, but thinks he really IS a super hero. All that I have seen from this movie so far indicates it's gonna be really good. Today I cam across an article at Comingsoon.net that goes into what's happening behind the scenes for this film.

Meet Bolt. He's the canine star who gives the title to Disney's latest animation; one that boasts an unprecedented 3-D experience and one for which new techniques had to be invented by the studio's ever-resourceful artists. With production just wrapping up, Disney gave ComingSoon.net the chance to go behind the scenes and experience firsthand the incredible level of detail that goes into a project as ambitious as Bolt.

Disney's first fully CG animated film, 2007's "Meet The Robinsons" was a fun, well done animated film. So I have no reason to think that "Bolt" will be any different. This is definitely a movie I will be going to see, with or without my kids, but I am sure I will be seeing it with them as well. To read the full article, click on the link above.

Vin Diesel Returning to "xXx"

I have read several articles confirming that Vin Diesel is making a return to the "xXx" series. A good idea, maybe, seeing as his latest movie, "Babylon AD" is tanking at the box office. I like this guy, but I feel sorry for him, and I will tell you why. In 2000, Diesel had his fist commercially successful film, the awesome "Pitch Black". He then followed that with "The Fast And The Furious" which was also a good film. Then he did "xXx" which was fun, but totally over the top. But then he started a slow downward spiral. He followed "xXx" with "A Man Apart" which did lousy business, then "The Chronicles Of Riddick", which was a return to the great character of Riddick, and a really good sci-fi movie, but it was so different than "Pitch Black" and I think that is why audiences avoided it, and so it did not do well at the box office ($57 million domestic). Then came "The Pacifier", which did well at the box office ($100 million domestic) but his tough guy image was tarnished. Then came "Find Me Guilty" which also tanked. He did not do the sequels to "The Fast And The Furious" or "xXx", and that, in my opinion was a mistake. Sure he had a cameo in "The Fast And The Furious:Tokyo Drift" and although it was the best thing in that movie, it was not his movie. So now with his latest movie bombing, he is returning to a tarnished franchise. As I said before, the first "xXx" movie was an over the top, but fun movie. The second one, "xXx:State Of The Union" was terrible. no offense to Ice Cube, who is a good actor in his own right, but it sucked, and did not do well at the box office. So now the question is, do people really want to see a sequel to a bad sequel? Is Diesel's name enough to make people want to return to the theaters to see this? Sure, it was said in the second "xXx" that Diesel's character had died, but in the spy world that means nothing, and you never saw him die, so he is easily brought back. He is also doing a fourth installment of "The Fast And The Furious", simply called "Fast And Furious", and I have seen the trailer and It looks kick ass. But it may not be enough. I don't want to see Vin Diesel go the direct to video route, but I really think it will take one heck of an awesome movie to bring him back to the status he used to have. His first few movies were hits, and when you start off on top like that, the sad truth is you have a hard time keeping that status, especially if you are an action star. I wish him luck, it is going to be a rough road back.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Movies That Bombed That Shouldn't Have #1

Welcome to a new feature, where I will talk about a good movie that didn't deserve the poor business it did. 2007's "Grindhouse" was a collaborative effort between Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, and it was a tribute to the cheap, low brow Grindhouse films of the 50's, 60's and 70's. These were low budget, badly acted movies, often shown two at a time, probably because no one would want to pay to see just one of these cheapies. "Grindhouse" was actually two movies, "Planet Terror" an insane zombie movie directed by Rodriguez, and "Death Proof", about a sadistic stuntman terrorizing some young women directed by Tarantino. These guys really went the extra mile, making the "film" look cheap and scratched, even going so far as to have other film makers crate fake trailers that would play before each movie. The trailers were just as much fun as the movies themselves. I will say this, that "Grindhouse" is not for everyone. "Planet Terror" has a large amount of gore, and "Death Proof" gets a bit too talky at times, but that is expected from Tarantino. But overall, the experience of the films as a whole is very enjoyable. They were made not to be taken seriously, and that's why the gore didn't bother me. Part of the problem, I think, was that a lot of people just didn't get what they were trying to do with the movie. If you know what the old Grindhouse movies were like, then you knew what to expect from this. Even if you didn't they were just good, fun films, and most film critics liked it (not that film critics know anything, but don't get me started on them). Another part of the problem was the release date of the movie. It was released on Easter weekend, a time usually reserved for more family friendly type fare. The critically slammed "Are We Done Yet" did better than this movie did on its opening weekend. One complaint I heard about this movie was that people seemed to think that the film makers could not decide if they wanted to be funny or scary. But that was the thing about Grindhouse films, they were cheap and poorly made, and were usually laughable as they were trying to be scary or dramatic, and that's what both of these movies were emulating. I think in the end, most people just didn't get it. I saw this in the theaters and I loved it, and so did anybody else I knew who saw it. I highly recommend seeing "Grindhouse", but the experience is best seeing it in its original form, as one long double feature, complete with the fake trailers. Both films had separate DVD releases, and both come with extended footage, but I would not recommend seeing them until you see the original full length double feature. Apparently, the low gross of the movie has not discouraged the notion of a sequel, which is very rare in Hollywood, but in this case, I would welcome another one. Definitely a movie that deserved a better fate than it got.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blast From The Past #2

Welcome to the second installment of Blast From The Past. Submarine movies have always been an exciting genre to me. The confined spaces, the tension of being underwater for such long periods of time, the conflicts that can occur between shipmates. There have been many good submarine movies, and in my opinion, one of the best is 1995's "Crimson Tide" with Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington. The story takes place during a time when a renegade Russian takes control of a Russian base that contains nuclear weapons. The U.S.S. Alabama is dispatched to patrol the seas to protect the U.S. from attack. Gene Hackman's Captain Ramsey is a stubborn, top of the line submarine commander, and from the get go, you can see that he will clash with his new executive officer, Washington's Ron hunter. Right away you can sense the tension between the two men, but yet they seem to work well together despite their obvious differences. As the crisis in Russia escalates, so does the tension on the ship and particularly between Ramsey and Hunter. The situation reaches a boiling point when Hunter relieves Ramsey of command much to the dismay of many of Ramsey's loyal crew. What follows is a tense filled sequence of events that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the climax. Both Hackman and Washington give stellar performances here, and their relationship is what fuels the film. You will see a young, pre-Sopranos James Gandolfini, and Viggo Mortensen (before "Lord Of The Rings"), they, along with the rest of the supporting cast all give good support to the two leads. Directed by Tony Scott, the movie doesn't let up, it succeeds in building up the tension and taking it to the boiling point. This is definitely a movie that warrants repeated viewing. If you have not seen it, see it, if you have seen it and have not watched it for some time, see it again!!!! There has not been a submarine movie since, with the possible exception of "U571" that comes close to being as well done as this was.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Iron Man 2 Info

"Iron Man" was the surprise hit of the summer. A second tier Marvel super hero, with nowhere near the notoriety of Spider Man or the X-Men. Despite that, director Jon Favreau made the movie work brilliantly. The casting of Robert Downey Jr. was a masterstroke. The special effects, both CGI and practical, were superb. So of course it's no surprise that a sequel is being planned. There has been some information let out about "Iron Man 2", and even though it isn't much, it is good stuff. Here is part of an article from Collider.com, talking to Jon Favreau -

While he was a bit cagey about specifics with “Iron Man 2,” he did mention Mandarin a lot and he said we can expect a lot more surprises in the sequel in terms of other comic book characters.

He also said he hopes to keep the story relatively simple in the sequel, but he hopes to raise the emotional and technical side of the story. Meaning, he wants the stakes to be raised for all the characters, but he’s not going to make it hard for a new audience to understand the story or make it so complicated that you have to work to follow it. He actually mentioned “The Dark Knight” and said they can keep that side of the playground. He wants to keep “Iron Man” light and fun.

He did talk about War Machine and mentioned Terrance Howard and his busy schedule. I think he’s definitely going to put on the armor in the sequel….but that’s just my vibe from the way he talked about it.

There was a quick glimpse of War Machine in "Iron Man", when Rhodey looks at the armor and says "Next time" so that should be very cool to see. From what I have read about Mandarin, he seems like a very cool villain. A master martial artist, a scientific genius, and has 10 power rings, one for each finger, and all have a different function. I also like the idea of shooting it in 3D and IMAX. "The Dark Knight" worked awesomely in IMAX, and Iron Man would most likely be just as awesome. They hit a home run with the first movie, and I hope that the next movie is just as good, or even better than the first one, and so far it is shaping up to be. What are your thoughts on "Iron Man 2"?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11, 7 Years Later

Always remember what's important. 7 years ago, a tragedy of immense proportions hit this country. I, along with every other New Yorker, will never forget that day. Although 7 years have passed, the emotions and intensity of that day remain with us all. To this day, I still cannot believe it happened. Every time I go to Manhattan, I still expect to see the twin towers, and I think I always will, i will never ever get used to not seeing them. I visited Ground Zero, and a friend who was there with me said he never saw me look so angry before. Although i did not personally lose someone that day, it was nonetheless a devastating loss. I was at a local park a few weeks ago and they had a 9-11 memorial there that I had never seen. It was a wonderful memorial, and by the time I left it I had tears in my eyes. A few months ago, I tried to watch the movie "United 93", and it took me a few times to actually be able to sit through the entire film. I know that parts of the movie had to be pieced together from what little information was had, so it may not have been 100% accurate, but it doesn't matter. The bravery of those people was staggering, to watch them sacrifice their lives to save others was the true definition of heroism, and there is no way you can watch that movie and not shed tears. This article is dedicated to all the souls lost on that day, we will remember you always, every fight against terrorism we fight for you, and whatever is built at Ground Zero, stands as a monument to you all.

GI Joe Star Talks About Cobra Commander

In an article over at MTV Movies Blog, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks a bit about his role in upcoming "GI Joe:Rise Of Cobra", set to be released in the summer of 2009.......

With a number of iconic costumes in his wardrobe, the look of the character has been first and foremost on the minds of fans. Gordon-Levitt confirmed to MTV News back in April that he does wear a mask, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told us recently that it wouldn’t be the classic hood. But while we’ve been busy speculating over what’s covering his face, would you believe it’s what’s underneath that might be most surprising?
I was pretty excited when I heard there was going to be a live action GI Joe movie. I had all the toys when I was a kid, watched the cartoon, read the comics. So far, I think the movie is shaping up nicely. Dennis Quaid is playing Duke, and I think that is perfect casting. Now the choice of Gordon-Levitt to play Cobra Commander threw me a bit at first, but the guy is a very good actor, and considering that I have been wrong in the past about casting choices (which I won't get into now) I am not going to pre-judge this choice. The article say that Cobra Commander won't be wearing the traditional outfit we are used to seeing him in, and that is fine. They changed the costumes of the X-Men for the movies, and that worked. In fact, all the costumes look different, but again, that's ok. The film is being directed by Stephen Sommers, who did the first two "Mummy" movies as well as the underrated "Van Helsing" which despite negative reviews, I thought was good fun. So I think in the hands of Sommers, this should be a good popcorn summer movie. Any thoughts on this possible future franchise?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TMNT Hybrid movie?

Live actors and sets, CGI turtles. In an article at Splashpage at MTV.com, Peter Laird talks about the possibility of a live action/CGI hybrid film for the next TMNT movie

I can confirm that we have had several meetings with very interested people, and I think we are pretty close to making a deal. As owner of the TMNT property, I want to be the first to announce it at a time of my choosing (hopefully soon)
Now I really liked the first two live action movies, the third one was crap. The CGI "TMNT" was a really awesome movie. I'm not sure how a hybrid movie would work, but it is a good idea. The turtles in "TMNT" moved just the way they should. The live action movies had actors in turtle suits, and as good as the suits were, the actors were limited to what they could physically do. This seems like a natural evolution for the next film, because you would be combining the good elements of a live action movie with the freedom that having the turtles done in CGI gives you. The trick is, it has to be believable. Sometimes you get CGI characters in a live action movie that just look bad, and therefore you just don't buy it, you can't suspend disbelief. They cannot look too cartoony. I hope they decide to go in this direction, done right it could be a really awesome action movie.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Birthday Star Trek!!

September 8th, 1966. A day that is revered by Sci-Fi fans the world over. It was the first episode of season one of "Star Trek" (that episode being "The Man Trap"). It also just happens to be my birthday, so "Star Trek" and I are both 42 today. "Trek" lasted only three seasons on TV, but has remained a significant science fiction entity to this very day. Its popularity may have waned over the past several years, but its impact upon society is undeniable. "Beam me up Scotty" is a phrase used by Trekkies (I despise being called a "Trekker") and non Trek fans alike. It brought mainstream social issues into a science fiction setting, allowing its creators to say what they wanted without actually offending anyone. It tackled the issues of war, racism, economics, sexism, the role technology plays in our lives and our dependence on it. One other thing it gave us, is a vision of the future in which mankind is united, something you don't see that much in science fiction anymore. Yes, there were still problems for mankind to face, but they were faced together, as one planet, one race, the human race. The thing that made Trek great, aside from the stories (which were mostly good but had some real clunkers in the mix), was the characters. They were all people we could identify with, even Spock. The relationships they shared with each other, their humor, and their enduring support of one another. I first discovered Trek at the age of 10, watching it occasionally, but found myself not exactly getting some of the episodes, I seemed more drawn to the action oriented episodes. But as I grew up, I began to really appreciate the series for what it was, and by the time "Star Trek:The Motion Picture" came out in 1979, I was excited about it. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed to see that it was a big budget rehash of the episode "The Changeling" from the series. It was great to see Trek finally make it to the big screen, but I wanted something better, and in 1982, I got it with "Star Trek II:The Wrath Of Khan". That movie was not a rehash of an old episode, but an incredible sequel to one ("Space Seed " was the original episode), and it remains the best Trek movie to date. The movies that followed were good, with "Star Trek V:The Final Frontier" being the lone exception, and as bad as that was, it still had some good moments. The torch was handed off with "Star Trek VI:The Undiscovered Country", as it was the last Trek film to feature the entire original cast. The movies that followed were focused on the cast of "Star Trek:The Next Generation" That show may have lasted longer than the original series, but in my opinion, it was never nearly as good as the original. In 2009, Paramount will release the 11th Star Trek feature film, simply titled "Star Trek". This is a big gamble for director JJ Abrams because he is re-casting the roles of the original characters, in their younger versions. Great care needs to be taken in making this movie, because when you re-cast iconic characters, the audience needs to believe that these people are those characters. One misstep, and the movie will sink. The story, the acting, everything needs to be spot on if the movie is to be a success. I know I will be seeing it, as well as my fellow Trekkies who want Trek to return to greatness. So here's to you Trek, Happy Birthday, and in the words of the Vulcans, may you live long and prosper.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Raimi & Maguire Confirmed For Spidey 4 & 5

Just read this article on Deadline Hollywood Daily, concerning the next few "Spider Man" movies, here is a small piece of it.....

It's time to end once and for all the rampant speculation. Sony doesn't want any info to leak but I'm told that both star Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi will be returning to make Zodiac screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt's script of Spider-Man 4. Sources tell me that Sony has recently locked in both veterans of Spider-Man 1 through 3.
"Spider Man 3" made some good bucks ($336 million domestic) so another Spidey film was inevitable, but many people thought that it was the weakest of the three Spidey movies to date, and I agree. Having three villains was too much, Venom was handled terribly, although I thought Topher Grace was fine as Eddie Brock/Venom. There was some great action sequences in #3, but over all they tried to do too much and the movie got bogged down by all the multiple story lines. What needs to be done, is Raimi needs to go back to what made the first two movies work so wonderfully. Have one, just ONE villain, but this time make him merciless, even more so than the Green Goblin in #1. Sandman was too sympathetic a character to be a true bad guy. Even as great as Doc Ock was in #2, he was not pure evil, I really think Spidey needs to have an adversary that is purely evil. In all 3 films, Spider Man has not had to kill anyone. In #1, he gets out of the way of the glider and the Goblin dies by his own hand, in #2, Doc Ock sacrifices himself, in #3 he lets Sandman go and Eddie Brock dies in the explosion of the Goblin bomb which Peter was trying to get him away from. Spider Man needs to be forced into a life or death situation, because he has never really faced that. Raimi is capable of making great Spider Man movies, as seen by #1 & #2, and #3 was not truly horrible, but compared to the first two it was weak because the bar was set so high with #2. I have not lost faith in Raimi and Co., one stumble does not mean it's over for Spider Man, but # 4 & 5 had better be just as good as the first two were, or else we may wave bye bye to Spidey for a few years. At least until they (and I really, REALLY don't like this overused word) "reboot" it.