Thursday, June 23, 2011

Check out the trailer to Batman Live: World Arena Tour

I'm sure you've read about the Spider-Man play on Broadway by now, and all its problems. Accidents, firings, delays, etc. Well, check out the cool trailer I just found for the Batman Live: World Arena Tour.  Batman is by far my favorite comic book character, I hope the show does really really well.

You have to love the costumes and characters they chose for the show.  The idea of a 360 degree show is just amazing.  I live in Southern California, near Six Flags Magic Mountain, and they have a live-action Batman show there as well.  But it is very restricted, not only due to time and money, but space as well.  Batman has a million gadgets and a great car, he needs somewhere to drive it in a live show.  It's starting in Europe and will later find its way to the United States. If you're in Europe and want ticket information, click here.  I can't wait to see it!

Abduction poster, trailer... Taylor Lautner plays Jason Bourne's mini-me

I haven't really covered this movie on the blog yet. So here's the skinny.  The movie is Abduction, and has a pretty good cast.  The movie stars Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello and Sigourney Weaver.  Twilight alum, Taylor Lautner THINKS he knows who he is and where he's from.  Well, he couldn't be more wrong.  The movie looks like a The Bourne Trilogy crossed with Salt.. a younger, male Salt.  Check out the trailer and see what you think.  I'm iffy about it, you? 

Latest Captain America; The First Avenger poster and final trailer

As you can see above, the new poster feature star, Chris Evans.  It shows his all American side!  I like it, it focuses on the hero at hand.  Check out the final trailer below and read my thoughts after.

A lot of first act action, but still great footage. I like the look and tone of the film!  A very 'Indiana Jones' look to it, which works perfectly in my opinion because of the time in which the film takes place.  We get a tiny peek at Howard Stark, played by Dominic Cooper as well as another peak at Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving.  This trailer also shows us a lot of the character, Steve Rodgers, pre-Super Soldier Serum.  '... just a kid from Brooklyn'.  I love it! 

Julia Ormond will play Superman's mother in Man of Steel

It was just a few days ago Russell Crowe's casting was announced for the Superman reboot, Man of Steel.  He will take over the role made famous by Marlon Brando... Superman's biological father, Kal-El.  Today, Julia Ormond cast to play his wife and Superman's mother, Lara.

Ormond is a lovely actress, I love her casting.  She will be a great addition, and play well along side Crowe.  I hope she has a bigger role than the character has had in the past.  You may remember the British actress from such films as The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonLegends of the Fall and more recently, Che: Part One.

You have to give it to director Zack Snyder.  He's putting together an amazing supporting cast for this film, as well as the lead actors he's already cast.  Here's a quick reminder: Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Clark Kent's adoptive parents and Michael Shannon as the villain, General Zod.  Not too shabby! 

I'm sure Christopher Nolan had a lot to do with all these casting choices.  There was something he pointed out over and over when filming Batman Begins.  You need high caliber actors to compliment the hero, to create the world the hero occupies.  Looks like he's stressing that for Man of Steel as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau DVD review

It's Tuesday, and if you're a movie fan like me, you're probably going to head to your local electronic store and pick up a movie or two.  Today, the new release is The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, directed by George Nolfi.  The movie is about choosing your own destiny, even as others try to stand in your way.

Matt Damon is an up and coming politician, he meets Emily Blunt's character by chance and it threatens to redirect his future.  The adjustment bureau steps in to keep the two apart to ensure Damon's future is what they want it to be.  It's the battle of free will against destiny.  Let's get right in to the likes and dislikes.

What I liked about the movie:
The Actors
Matt Damon is, and has been considered a great talent in Hollywood for years now.  He is versatile and dynamic, he can do it all.  Emily Blunt is also a respected actor in Hollywood.  I really enjoy her work anytime I see her in something.  The two have a great chemistry together.  As an audience, we can easily see why the two characters are attracted to each other.

There is enough to make the audience believe the two should stick together while eluding the adjustment bureau. 

The Premise
I enjoyed the idea that a bureau of men wanted to change the course of Damon's life.  It was interesting to see how they could bend the rules if you will, to make Damon stay the course they wanted him to.  The premise is one thing, unfortunately, the execution is far off.  I'm not really sure how the movie scored a 70+% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it did.  Let me begin my list of dislikes. 

What I didn't like about the movie:
The Adjustment Bureau staff
They're mobsters?  No wait, Government agents?  Angles perhaps (more on that later)?  Who are these annoy ass guys that can't catch a politician and his girlfriend in a foot race.  My main problem is they never really came off like a threat.  I was thinking to myself, I would do whatever I want in that situation and not listen to them.  There was nothing to fear.

The Religious Implications
I don't consider myself a religious man by any means, nor do I balk at a movies with religious themes; but this movie was just too much.  It was a mess.  The script intended on giving winks about the implications, but it just becomes so blatantly obvious what they're trying to reference, it has no payoff.  I disliked all of it; the destiny, the people-angels reference, all that nonsense.

The Doors
I seriously thought I was watching a live-action Monsters Inc.  The doors are a huge part of the film.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the doors are used to basically teleport the main characters from one place to another.  The heroes use the doors in their plot against the adjustment bureau.  The storyline doesn't work at all.  Visually, they pulled off the effect, but it just about ends there. 

The Verdict:
Watch Monsters Inc. or Serendipity instead
Exactly what the title says.  Monsters Inc. uses the "door trick" in a much more creative way than this film does.  Monsters Inc. was an animated film, fine, but it was a lot more creative than this trip to church.  I'd much rather have put my DVD of Monsters Inc. in than The Adjustment Bureau.  Just saying.

And if you want to ditch the "thriller" aspect of facing destiny, and turn it in for a romantic comedy version instead, rent Serendipity.  It stars John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale as a couple that are destined to be together.  It's much better than this film.  Trust me.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo:
Fans of the movie will love it
If you liked the film, you'll like the features.  Here is a list from

  • Feature Commentary by Writer-Director George Nolfi. This is a somewhat haltingly delivered, but overall interesting, commentary that gives a goodly amount of background information on adapting the Dick story as well as the filming, including the rigors of all the location work in New York City.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD; 6:54). Seven scenes are included, several with a supposedly comic Adjustment Bureau character named Henderson who was completely cut out of the final film.
  • Labyrinth of Doors (HD; 33:57 total). This interesting but cumbersome supplement starts with a Google Earth map of Manhattan, with several Adjustment Bureau doors highlighted. Clicking on any door then zooms to a close-up of that location, with a "wormhole" option that takes you to another (often far flung) door, or allows you to view either a film clip or a behind the scenes segment associated with that location.
  • Leaping Through New York (1080i; 7:36) is a nice featurette dealing with the location shooting in The Big Apple.
  • Destined to Be (1080i; 4:51) has Damon and Blunt talking about their characters and the film's central love story.
  • Becoming Elise (1080i; 7:08) should appeal to those who wonder if Blunt had any dancing experience before she took on this role.
  • DVD Copy, Dbox and BD Live Enabled
I don't know what else to say really.  I didn't like the film (that's MY free will at work), and I'm willing to discuss it with anyone who did.  Let me know what you thought of the film?

For fun, just to make me smile

Monday, June 20, 2011

Green Lantern review; flickers more than glows

It's the Golden Age of comic book films, and it was only a matter of time before a Green Lantern film was to be made.  Quick breakdown: Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern, an intergalactic space cop who is in charge of patrolling multiple planets.  He is chosen after one of greatest Green Lanters to ever live, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), crash lands on Earth.  By wearing the Green Lantern ring, you can make your thoughts into reality (including an automatic machine gun).  Jordan is now a member of the Green Lantern Corp made up of 3600 Green Lanterns; Oa is where they call home.

I remember the news coming out about the 'terrific' script, to the casting showdown between Ryan Reynolds and Bradley Cooper to the hiring of director Martin Campbell.  Who better to start up a new franchise than Campbell, he successfully did so for James Bond in the great Casino Royale.  A GL film should have been a piece of cake, not so much.  Let me begin my likes and dislikes. 

What I liked about the film:
Ryan Reynolds
I'm a fan of the man's work, and have been since his sitcom, "Two Guys and a Girl".  Reynolds has had a leading man charisma since the beginning, so it shouldn't have been too difficult a choice for Warner Brothers when it came time to cast the hero.  Reynolds did well creating the character.  Hal Jordan is the fighter pilot that does well to pretend he's fearless, but in reality, battles his inner fear throughout the film.  His comedic timing is as good as ever and so are his abs (which are glorified throughout the movie).  If the movie does indeed become a franchise, he will be great in the next GL tale.

Oa / Eye Candy
Warner Brothers spent millions and millions of dollars on the CG, and I could tell.  They even had last minute touch ups that really enhanced the film.  Perhaps the best part of the movie is seeing how Hal Jordan and the other Green Lanterns turn their thoughts into reality.  Everything from machine guns to swords to catapults; it shows you how CGI has made it possible to make movies of this size and scope.

The planet of Oa looks incredible in the film.  It is completely computer generated and really is eye candy.  The way Green Lantern's suit illuminates, the way he flies, etc. are magnificent.  The supporting characters such as Tomar Re (voiced by Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowag (voiced by Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan) look great.  They are true to the comics and look as real as possible.  Money well spent Warner Brothers.

The Supporting Cast
This includes the aforementioned Rush and Duncan.  But those are voice actors, what about the live actors?  Blake Lively is good in this film.  I am not a fan of the actress at all, and enjoyed her turn as Hal Jordan's oldest friend/love interest.  The primary villain is Hector Hammond, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and he does a great job being as spooky as possible.  Hammond's father is a senator, played by Tim Robbins.  Angela Bassett rounds out the primary cast of characters as a doctor in charge of testing Abin Sur's body.  Robbins and Bassett don't have much to do in the film but could if there is a sequel.

I must point out Mark Strong.  He was THE PERFECT choice for the role of Sinestro, one of the leaders in the Green Lantern Corp.  Strong's performance is something to behold as he keeps us guessing which side he will end up on.  He challenges Hal Jordan and is able to intimidate without yelling, just simply being stern.  Great job.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Script / Story
Remember that 'terrific' script I was talking about?  Yeah, it must not have translated then.  The movie suffers beyond believe due to the script.  The second act is abysmal, there is no other way to describe it.  There is a whole lot of nothing going on for a good 45 minutes before an impressive action sequence hits.  In this second act, the hero is supposed to have some sort of self-discovery that never really formulates.  I was asking myself, "why did they keep this in the final cut?"

Besides the second act, the movie is so unorganized, and it wasn't due to editing.  We're on Earth, then Oa, then Earth, but back to Oa, then he quits, back to Earth, then he un-quits, back to Oa.  What the hell?  I hate when this happens in film.  Campbell should have cleaned up the story and screenplay so there is a smoother flow to the storytelling.  Again, the narrative is so weak, the main character ultimately never live up to their full potential.

The Supporting Cast
I know, I know.  How can the supporting cast be an aspect of the movie I liked AND disliked?  Well, because they're barely in the movie!  Ryan Reynolds must have been in 95% of the film.  Those amazing special effects featuring fully CG characters are barely on display for more than a few minutes at at time.  I wanted so much more.  What makes Green Lantern such a unique superhero is that he is a part of a team, the Green Lantern Corp.  He doesn't fight alone like Superman and Batman.  There is NO teamwork on this film whatsoever, it's all about Ryan Reynolds sporting the suit and nothing more.

The Lack Of A Real Villain
I really like Peter Sarsgaard, I do, but Hector Hammond is just not going to cut it!  He's a spooky science teacher that can read your thoughts and throw projectiles at you.  He's no Two-Face, and definitely no Joker!  Then there is Parallax, the worst possible choice for the first film in the franchise.  It is basically a cloud that eats up the souls of people who possess fear.  Remember when Fox tried this with the Fantastic Four sequel?  IT DOES NOT WORK!  Seeing hundreds of extras run through the streets is not what's scary.  Seeing the Joker threaten to cut someone's cheek off was ten times as affective and didn't require millions of dollars in CGI work. 

The Verdict:
Unfortunately, Pass (until the blu-ray)
I have to be honest, the first few minutes after leaving the theater, I think I convinced myself it was a better film than it really was.  After discussing it with my cousin Robert in more detail, I began to find more and more things that irked me about the film.  I think Campbell had a lot to do with the poor outcome of the film.  He is a very capable director, but just did not come through on this one.  Reynolds will be fine, as well as the rest of the cast, but I doubt Campbell is asked to return after the movie just opened to only $52 million dollars (on a $300 million dollar budget). 

I wish I could say it was the same caliber film as X-Men: First Class, but I can't.  Or even as good as Thor, but I can't.  All the pieces were in place: Ryan Reynolds, Martin Campbell, a cult following, etc.  But they just could not come together for the narrative.  If they're lucky to get another crack at it, let's hope they do a lot better next time. 

Good superhero movies in the Summer of 2011: 2
Bad superhero movies in the Summer of 2011: 1

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Russell Crowe as Superman's dad? Maybe

The title pretty much gives it away, but I'll repeat.  Russell Crowe may play Jor El, Superman's biological father in The Man of Steel.  The movie will of course be directed by Zack Snyder and star Henry Cavill as the caped hero.

The role was originally played by the legendary Marlon Brando in the Richard Donner film, Superman: The Movie.  For those who don't know Superman's origin story (living under a rock much?), here's how it goes:  Jor El is the father or Kal El, an infant boy.  When their home planet of Krypton is threatened, Jor El sends his only son away from harm in a spaceship.  The spaceship lands in Smallville, where Jonathan and Martha Kent adopt the infant, name him Clark, and raise him to be Superman.  Pretty cool right?

This casting news really surprised me.  It's not that I disapprove or anything, I just never really pictured Russell Crowe in a superhero film.  But after thinking about it a bit, I really like it.  I could see him being the commanding figure needed to lead the people of Krypton as well as a sensible father to the future Man of Steel.  Instead of who likes this casting choice, I suppose a better question is, who hates the idea? 

Director of Knight & Day offered The Wolverine

After Darren Aronofsky jumped ship from The Wolverine, every fan boy had a good cry.  The film is the sequel to the terrible X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman as the clawed X-Man. 

It has actually taken a lot longer for Fox to put an offer to a new director than I thought it would.  Well it finally happened and the offer is going to director James Mangold.  You might remember him from last years under performing, Tom Cruise starring, Knight & Day

Mangold is actually a great director with films like Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma under his belt.  I liked Kight & Day, despite it's bad reviews.  3:10 to Yuma is such a great, and underrated film.  I was never really jumping up for joy for Aronofsky directing the film, this will do just fine in my book.  What do you guys think?

Warrior movie poster

Keeping with the sports themed films; Lionsgate has released a poster for Gavin O’Connor‘s, WarriorThe film stars Tom Hardy (Inception), Joel Edgerton (King Arthur) and Nick Nolte.  It's about two brothers who enter a mixed martial arts tournament for redemption in their own lives.  Nolte plays the boys' father.  Check out the trailer here.

Gavin O'Connor is a fitting choice after the great film, Miracle, about the 1980 United States hockey team.  Tom Hardy will no doubt steal the show, both physically and emotionally, as he gets better and better with every film.  I'm not too familiar with Edgaerton's work, but he looks to go toe to toe with Hardy in this great story packed with a human story.  Looking forward to this one!

Moneyball trailer, next sports film to win Oscar gold?

I love sports films.  In 2009 we got The Blind Side.  In 2010 we got The Fighter.  Both of those films went on to win Oscar gold.  Well this year, it's Moneyball vying for Oscar nominations.  The movie stars Brad Pitt as the General Manager of the Oaklands Athletics baseball team.  He is setting out to change the way players are recruited into a system that has not changed in over a hundred years.  Check out Pitt and Jonah Hill in the trailer below, then read my thoughts.

Looks good right?  Critics and movie goers alike, enjoy sports themed films.  Baseball related films do especially well (remember Field of Dreams).  I like the tone and pacing from what I can tell in the trailer.  Pitt will be a nice fit for the role.  I like Philip Seymour Hoffman as the A's manager, Art Howe too. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men: First Class is a first class film! Review...

Matthew Vaughn had a tough, tough task with X-Men: First Class.  He was asked to re-invent the franchise that was the catalyst to the superhero movie genre.  The film is actually a prequel, which has a completely different cast and a much more complex script than seen before in the franchise.  I can't wait to talk about it, so let's go!

What I liked about the film:
The Director
There were so many things working against Matthew Vaughn.  Let's start with a one year schedule from pre-production to release date.  That is unheard of in this superhero genre.  Vaughn quickly put together his cast and was off and running.  He did a lot right!  The pacing of the movie is intense.  Like I said before, the script is complex and has a lot to cover, so it was imperative to get the pacing right.  The editing, costume, set design and score were magical and helped create the world of America in the 1960's.  The casting is perhaps Vaughn's greatest achievement...

The Cast/Characters
James McAvoy plays Professor Xavier; he does a great job of being the leader of the X-Men.  You can see the character is optimistic about the future through McAvoy's eyes.  He sees the world with a bright and beautiful future.  Kevin Bacon plays the primary villain, Sebastian Shaw and does well.  He is a conniving, manipulative character pitting America against Russia during the Cold War. 

The support cast of heroes and villains are good.  January Jones turns in a mundane performance as the villainous Emma Frost, Shaw's right hand woman.  Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique, the part Rebecca Romijn made famous in the first trilogy.  She does well playing the character as tormented and conflicted; she grew up with Professor X.  Rose Byrne is the liason between the CIA and the newly formed X-Men, she was great, I'm becoming a big fan of her work.  The rest of the heroes really only have minor roles in comparison, but did a good job.  Hopefully they will have more to work with in the sequels.   

The man who steals the entire picture is Michael Fassbender.  This man is hypnotizing on screen.  He plays Magneto, a Holocaust survivor who meets Professor X on his journey to kill the people who murdered his mother.  Fassbender portrays the character beautifully.  And I do mean beautifully.  Even though we see the character doing horrible things, we care about him, we see the pain and hurt that has scarred him for life.  He also has a swagger and arrogance; Sir Ian Mckellen showed that when playing the older version of the character.  Magneto knows he is a very powerful mutant, he knows what he's capable of and we see that in Fassbenders face and mannerisms.  I hope Michael Fassbender keeps his momentum going and continues to do great things.  Last time I said that, Sam Worthington became Genre Man with 'hits' like Clash of the Titans; hopefully Fassbender wont follow in those footsteps.

The Brotherhood
We know from the later (earlier) pictures, that Magneto is a character that was very close with Charle's X, as close as brothers.  Their ideals have always been different, but they have always had a mutual respect for one another.  There are a few scenes in the film that show you how that relationship was shaped and how it changed over time.  I loved the scenes featuring McAvoy and Fassbender just talking.  The actors nailed it!  There is just this great chemistry between the two that really helps with the emotional undertone of the film.  The scene when they meet gave me chills, excellent!

The Story
This could have been a much different movie in the hands of another director.  There is a lot that must happen during the film.  The origins of several main characters, the manipulation of Bacon's character on the Americans as well as the Russians, the training of the new recruits, the list goes on and on.  That being said, it is very easy to follow.  A lot of credit must go to the screen writers and the director.  It is a clean story that does a lot with the time he has.

The Fanboy Winks
Even if you haven't seen the original franchise, this film will work for you.  BUT!  For those of you who have read the comics, know the characters, and have seen the original franchise, you will love the 'easter eggs'.  Everything from cameos, to name dropping, to jokes about the obvious future of the character.  I really like how they included the hard core fans and made it accessible to non-fans as well.  FYI, the cameo in the movie is hilarious and I will not spoil the surprise like other idiots on-line.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Sequel Setup
I have to be very careful here not to give anything away.  I believe, by the end of the film, they've given away too much.  I wish there would have been a few open doors for future films instead of rushing to the obvious.  It's like Star Wars Episodes I-III, we know what is going to happen, but George Lucas was able to stretch it out for three films.  Not that I EVER want this franchise to become like that one, but the concept is what I was looking for.  Watch it and then email me if you agree, don't want to discuss too much here.

The Verdict:
A beautiful film in so many ways
The movie will rank among the best in the superhero genre.  The threat of a nuclear attack was very real in the 1960's.  That fear of the unknown worked perfectly for 'First Class'.  Mutants were just being discovered and no one knew what to make of it.  The relationship between Professor X and Magneto is wonderful.  The movie is not perfect, but again, considering the one year turn around, bravo.  Thank you Mr. Vaughn and company for continuing my hot streak at the movies this Summer.  Please see the movie and let us know what you think.