Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Matthew Vaughn signs on to direct X-Men: First Class sequel

X-Men: First Class was one of my favorite films of 2011, and one of the best superhero films ever made.  Vaughn's directing style elevated the film to the top of the superhero crop that was released in 2011.

There's an interesting history involving Vaughn and this franchise.  Vaughn was set to take over the original X-Men franchise from Bryan Singer, when Singer left to direct Superman Returns.  Vaughn did not believe in the script for X-Men: The Last Stand and did not feel he had enough time to prepare for the film.  So he handed over the film to the eventual director, Brett douchebag Ratner.

I love the news that Vaughn has signed on and look forward to where he can take the franchise.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Grey review; Liam Neeson fights wolves for two hours

Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors in Hollywood.  I enjoy most of films, minus a few outliers like last year's Unknown.  Neeson stars in The Grey this week; he plays a mountain man of sorts, roughing it in Alaska. The Grey is directed by Joe Carnahan, who worked with Neeson on The A-Team.  After a frightening plane crash, Neeson and 6 others must fight for survival as they march to find help.  Chased by wolves for most of the movie, the men must endure to try and get back to their families.  Let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Acting
Neeson is great in this movie.  He plays a troubled man with an internal struggle.  As the movie plays out, we discover his internal battle with religion and the struggle with his wife.  Neeson can act with his eyes alone, and I found that to be the most intriguing aspect of his role.  The rest of the group are played by relative unknowns, except for maybe Dermot Mulroney, who is barely recognizable.  Frank Grillo plays a significant part in the film as well (I loved his work in last year's Warrior).  Director Carnahan also wrote the film, which highlighted some great character development moments for these actors.

The Setting
Alaska never looked so cold.  Carnahan and company put us right in the thick of things.  You can feel how cold the men are, you can feel the snow on their faces.  The scenery was amazing and so too the cinematography.

The Score
Simple and effective.  That is the best way to describe Marc Streitenfeld's score in the film.  With no extravagent action sequences to score, Streitenfeld keeps it simple.  The music is nuanced and fitting of the action on the screen.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Redundancy
This is a big pet peeve of mine, and this movie beat it to a pulp.  The entire film, the only 'villain' are the wolves.  I've seen enough survival shows to know there's a lot more to fear than wolves in a frozen hell.  Sure a few of the men battle illnesses here and there, but the overall arc is to outrun/outwit/outsmart the wolves.  For two hours, they must survive the wolves.  Silly and idiotic.  There has to be more to it than this.

I call it a minor spoiler because, if the trailer hasn't indicated to you already, characters are going to die throughout the film.  The way in which the characters die is also redundant.  They get eaten by wolves.  Some chased down, some while they urinate, some while they fall, enough already.  So stupid, it was reminiscent of the Final Destination films, except those were more creative than this.

The Character Development
I enjoyed the very few character development moments between the men.  Grillo plays a tough guy named Diaz who wants nothing more than to pick a fight... but why?  Eventually we find out his story and why he is the way that he is.  We find out what the men think about their families back home, about religion, about life.  These are the best moments, but there aren't enough of them.  Having a few camp fire conversations is not enough to make us care about the characters, especially when they're being killed off one at a time.  The relationship between Neeson's character and his father is explored, but only for a very short time.  I would have loved to learn how Neeson got into his line of work and why.

The Verdict:
Skip this mess of a survival movie
I did not like the film at all.  I know what it was trying to be.  Carnahan was trying to bring back some of the magic that threw him on the scene in Narc; The Grey is definitely not at the quality level of Narc.  In fact, it reminded me of b-level films that go straight to DVD.  I'm sure it was on purpose, but the production value looks dirty, grimy and low budget.  I enjoy Carnahan's other films, and adore Neeson, but this one was way off the mark for me.  My advice, turn on the Discovery channel for two hours instead.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

UPDATE: Javier Bardem will voice the villain in Despicable Me sequel

JANUARY '12:  It was too good to be true.  Bardem is busy filming the next Bond film, Skyfall.  Most likely due to scheduling, Bardem has dropped out of Despicable Me 2.  We'll see who replaces him. 

Steve Carell and Despicable Me were big winners at the box office a few Summers ago.  I absolutely loved the film.  It was a great movie with an original idea.  Ironically, my only complaint about the first film was the villain!  Jason Segel voiced the villain, Vector.  I didn't like Segel's voice acting or the way Vector was treated on screen.

If anyone agrees with me, they'll enjoy this news tidbit.  Academy Award winner, Javier Bardem, has been cast as the villain in the sequel.  He has quickly become one of the top actors in the game the last few years, and with good reason.  His role as the villain in No Country For Old Men was mesmerizing.  Hopefully some of that rubs off on his voice acting.  So what do you think about Bardem being the villain?  Hit me up on Twitter and let me know.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A true Bruce Almighty sequel being written for Jim Carrey

I was a huge fan of the 2003 comedy, Bruce Almighty.  The film starred Jim Carrey as a man who played God, in place of the great Morgan Freeman.  The movie was a huge success, it grossed over $500 million dollars worldwide.  The studio obviously wanted a sequel, but Jim Carrey was a no-go.  Instead, a then up-and-coming, Steve Carell stepped in for Evan Almighty.  That movie was a more of a spin-off, and a huge flop that was sure to kill the franchise.

Now, Variety is reporting Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel are writing a true sequel to Bruce Almighty, and it will indeed star Jim Carrey.

I have to admit I'm really surprised by this move, if it even happens.  Carrey rose to fame with movies like The Mask, Dumb & Dumber and of course, Bruce Almighty.  All three of those had sequels that flopped, without Carrey.  He's been a good judge of poor scripts, and not making bad sequels for the sake of making sequels.  I'm curious to see how this one plays out.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Man on a Ledge review, entertaining and absurd in one

Sam Worthington was the 'it' actor a few years ago.  He was hired for genre films (Terminator: Salvation, Clash of the Titans), as well as ground breaking films (Avatar).  Before you know it, Worthington was phoning in performances and he quickly fell off the radar.  I was so disappointed by what he could have been, and what he became.  It's not too late, he's still very young and has plenty of time to redeem himself.  In comes Man on a Ledge directed by Asger Leth.  A man desperate to prove his innocence for a crime he did not commit, will go to extraordinary lengths to do so.  With a literal title and an interesting premise, let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Premise
I'd like to be specific, the premise is terrific, the story is ridiculous.  But I'll get to the story later.  The premise is actually very intriguing.  A former police officer, accused of a crime he did not commit, draws the attention of the entire city to prove his innocence.  I really enjoy films that has the audience ask themselves, 'what would you do'?  And this film made me do exactly that.  Well, there's obviously a lot more involved in the finished product, but the premise was great.

The Acting
As crazy a story as it is, the actor deliver sincere performances worthy of their reputations.  Sam Worthington is all in for this one.  He gets to act!  Imagine that, an actor gets to act in a movie.  Elizabeth Banks shows her acting chops as the negotiator who must bring Worthington in from the ledge.  Ed Harris plays the villain and is terrific.  He may be slender in body, but he packs a mean mental punch in this movie.  Jaime Bell and Genesis Rodriguez play Worthington's brother and his brother's girlfriend respectively.  Kyra Sedgwick and Edward Burns are in the movie for really no reason at all.  They serve the purpose of some exposition, but not much.  Great cast overall.

The Editing
Without giving much away, the movie has two simultaneous stories working at once.  The main plot follows Worthington on the ledge, the corresponding plot follows his brother and his brother's girlfriend.  The brother is guiding a heist and required this clever editing.  It was essential to the film's success.  Kevin Stitt did a nice job of helping to keep the movie going.  It had a great pace that was quick and effective.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Script
The premise was great, the story was absurd.  In essence, the film is a thriller.  But when it tries to be more, it starts to fall apart.  The thriller becomes a heist; don't worry the trailer tells you so.  With one ridiculous coincidence after another, the movie lost me.  I love heist films, and I'm ok with one "close call".  I'm even ok with one of those situations that "must happen for the rest of plan to work".  But when every single aspect of the heist is a "close call", or coincidental, I'm done.

The Verdict:
Entertaining and dumb
A movie that primarily takes place in one setting, i.e. Phone Booth, is tough to execute. Likewise, a heist movie similar to the 'Oceans' films are tough to execute.  So when a movie like Man on a Ledge tries to do both, it's almost setting itself up for failure.  The film is fast and fun to watch.  But so utterly stupid in script, that if you think about it, you'll be disappointed in the writing.  I'd say wait for this on video. AtD?

Why the hell have most of the movie cover the heist, if in the end there was nothing there?  Some of the stupidest writing I've ever seen.  And seriously, what if Worthington doesn't get into a fight with his brother at the funeral?  I would think, the cops wouldn't have let him stand next to his brother in the first place.  Pretty dumb stuff.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tim Burton wants to direct Robert Downey Jr. in Warner Brothers' Pinocchio remake

Tim Burton really wants to direct Warner Brothers' upcoming Pinocchio remake.  He even knows who he wants to make it with, Robert Downey Jr.  Funny, I just posted about a DIFFERENT classic that was to be remade by Time Burton, Maleficent.  He's obviously pulled out of that project, but sounds like he's really interested in the Pinocchio project.  The Hollywood Reporter talks about it:
Neither Burton nor Downey has a deal with Warners, but sources say Burton is keen to direct the film and has begun talks with the studio, so it's just a question of whether Pinocchio will be his next movie. 

Neither of these Hollywood players have signed on, but Burton has some major pull.  He can get this film on the fast track, especially with Downey.  Warner Brothers has Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies") working on the script.  Oscar winning producer, Dan Jinks (American Beauty) is set to produce the film.  Now it's a matter of time before it gets started or Burton moves on.  We'll have to wait and see.

Friday, January 6, 2012

First photo of Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy

Nothing all that exciting.  It's the first official photo of Jeremy Renner in the upcoming, The Bourne Legacy.  Who would have thought, Jeremy Renner was the go-to guy to take over movie franchises.  A little over a year ago, I wrote about Renner possibly replacing Tom Cruise in the 'Mission Impossible' franchise.  In the same post, coincidentally, I was talking about the 'Bourne' franchise moving on without Matt Damon.  At the time, I didn't know Renner would be taking over THAT franchise as well.

It's official of course, Renner plays a new character living in the Bourne universe.  The character is Aaron Cross.  The primary villain in the film, will be played by Edward Norton.  Rachel Weisz will join returning actors, Albert Finney and Joan Allen to round out the cast.  Tony Gilroy, who wrote the first trilogy, will director The Bourne Legacy.  I'd like to see a trailer, but all the pieces look to make up a great puzzle.  I'm looking forward to seeing what Gilroy, Renner and Norton can do with the franchise.

Sleeping Beauty 'remake', Maleficent finds a director.... a two-time Oscar winner

So much drama involving this film!  Maleficent is a live-action film based on the evil character from the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.  First we heard Tim Burton was to direct it, then he wasn't.  Then maybe Harry Potter director, David Yates was set to direct.  No signature yet.  Then we heard Angelina Jolie would play the titular character; no signature yet either.  Now a director has been hired, someone you may not have ever heard of.

Robert Stromberg is an Art Director and Special Effects Supervisor with two Oscars (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland).  A Maleficent film will of course require his skill set.  His resume is very impressive.  But does that mean he'll be able to direct a big budget Disney film?  I say yes, and a reason why.

Brad Bird came from an animation background to give us the best action movie in years with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  If Bird could successfully direct his first live-action film, why can't Stromberg?  I'm looking forward to Jolie (or any actress for that matter) to sign on.  Maybe we'll get a chance to see concept art for the film, to get a better sense of the look and tone.  All in good time.

Matthew Vaughn may not direct Kick-Ass 2?

It's been over a year since it was reported Kick-Ass 2 was green lit.  At the time it seemed like a sure thing that Matthew Vaughn would direct it as well.  Now?  Not so much.  Jane Goldman, who co-wrote the first film, with Vaughn, says he may not return.  Here is what she had to say:
I think the only thing that is fairly sure is that right now, Matthew doesn’t have any plans to direct it.  He and I are not currently talking about writing it either.  It may well be that Matthew oversees it in a producer role, and I may also be involved in that capacity.  I know that there is somebody that Matthew has been talking to who would be interested in writing and directing that.  That would be cool.
Seriously?!  Damn it.  Vaughn was the brains behind the first Kick-Ass and made the best Summer film in 2011 with X-Men: First Class.  This is some sad news.  I've been reading the comic book sequel that the film would be based on, and it's pretty good.  Mark Millar has a unique writing style that fits into the film world Vaughn and company created with the first movie.  We'll have to wait and see who this "somebody" is that Vaughn is talking to.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Horrible Bosses 2 is green lit

I absolutely loved Horrible Bosses!  It was a funny concept that translated into a funny film, a tough task sometimes.  The movie did so well, I'm not surprised by today's news...  Horrible Bosses 2 has officially been green lit.  It's reported Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day will all return for the sequel.  Also returning  is director Seth Gordon.  John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the writers of the first film, are writing the sequel as well.

I'm ok with the news, IF... there's a good story to be told.  They can't pull a The Hangover II and make the same EXACT movie as the first, for the sake of making a sequel.  I enjoyed The Hangover II, but disliked the repeat in formula.  Let's hope that's not the case with Horrible Bosses 2!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is Bradley Cooper really going to play Lex Luthor in The Man of Steel?

This was unexpected today.  Bradley Cooper, who rose to fame with movies like Wedding Crashers and The Hangover films, may be in The Man of Steel.  At this point, it's just internet chatter, but "the internet" seems to be pretty accurate when it comes to this kind of casting news.  The Man of Steel is of course the upcoming Superman film, set to debut in the Summer of 2013.

What's interesting is, we know Lex Luthor is not the main villain in the film, General Zod is (played by Michael Shannon).  So if Cooper really is cast as Lex Luthor, it will probably be a cameo setting up a sequel.  I would be ok with this casting, if it's true at all.  I think Bradley Cooper is a much better actor than he wants any of us to know.

He was professionally trained at The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University; more commonly known on television as "Inside The Actor's Studio".  I don't think he's at the point in his career where he can pick and choose what he wants to do, but I believe he's on his way there.  We'll have to wait and see if this rumor is true.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Daredevil reboot on track, first draft of the script has been turned in

Remember the 2003 Marvel superhero film, Daredevil?  It starred Ben Afleck and Jennifer Gardner.  Don't worry, most people don't either.  I was one of the very few that enjoyed this movie.   It's better than some of the other trash director Mark Steven Johnson has put out.  Remember the first Ghost Rider?   Or how about the God awful When in Rome?  If you didn't like the 2003 film, have no fear, Fox studios is giving it a reboot.

The first draft of the script has been turned in, and the search for a director has begun.  From what I'm reading online, the script is supposed to be very good.  I wont hold my breath though, that's what I was 'reading online' about Green Lantern as well.  This version is supposed to be "dark" (the term everyone is quick to describe their superhero movie).

The Daredevil reboot is written by Brad Caleb Kane, who has worked with Fox in the past.  He was a writer on "Fringe".  I'm down for a reboot, because I think the character is interesting and hasn't been totally explored in film.  I wonder if anyone shares my enthusiasm for this character.

DeviantArt Artist: Monk-Art

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie poster and trailer

I am a huge fan of the Lord of The Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson masterfully took us to Middle Earth, where we began to believe in the unbelievable.  Trolls, wizards and hobbits galore.  The trilogy was a huge success to say the least.  The three films were shot back-to-back-to-back; at the time, an unprecedented move.  The author of the books in which the movies were based on is J.R R. Tolkien.  Tolkein also wrote The Hobbit, a prequel to the three books that made him famous.  Ironically, The Hobbit is sub-titled "An Unexpected Journey".  And what an unexpected journey it has been for this film.

First Peter Jackson was in, then out.  Then there were lawsuits between Jackson and the studio.  Then there was a workers strike in New Zealand where the film was set to be shot.  Then Jackson agrees to produce, rather than direct.  Then Guillermo Del Toro was to take over the franchise, then HE drops out.  And what do you know?  Jackson is back in the directors chair.  The book has been split into two films, which will film back-to-back, much like the original trilogy.  Check out the trailer below and my thoughts after.

I love it!, I loved the original trilogy, so this is a bit biased on my part.  What I enjoy the most about Jackson returning?... the continuity in tone.  The original films had a tone that was unlike any other action/adventure/drama.  With just a few seconds of film, you could tell it was one of the three films.  Jackson has managed to bring back that same tone to the prequel.  The score is going to be epic I'm sure.  And what about the creepy shot of Gollum?   That character alone should be worth watching the film.  I'm pumped about the first trailer, how about you?  Let me know via Twitter.

Alan Taylor, officially accepts offer to direct Thor 2

It's been a crazy roller coaster finding a director for Thor 2.  First Kenneth Branagh decides not to return to the franchise after he did an exceptional job on Thor.  Then Patty Jenkins, director of Monster, signs on for the sequel.  Then she drops out due to whatever reason Marvel would have us believe.  And the search was on.  Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan were both considered, with Taylor ultimately getting the job.

Both candidates have directed a lot of television.  Coincidently, they've both directed episodes of the critically acclaimed "Games of Thrones" on HBO.  Taylor has quite a bit more experience.  I'm pretty happy with this selection.  Taylor's resume is impressive, and extensive.

I don't mean to take away from Taylor's qualifications, but really, the movie is going to make a lot of money regardless of who directs.  That doesn't mean we should be ok with anything Taylor shoots, it's simply stating a fact.  Even the WORST of superhero movies (Green Lantern) make money.  Let's hope Taylor lives up to the quality of film Branagh has given us.