Friday, August 24, 2012

Quickie: RED 2 poster

This is just for fun.  RED was one of my favorite action films of the past few years.  It did well enough that a sequel was warranted.  Check out the poster to the sequel.  It stars Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Hellen Mirren.  Did you like the original?  Will you be seeing the sequel?

Disney to reboot The Rocketeer

The title pretty much sums it up.  Disney is planning on rebooting the classic 'superhero' film, The Rocketeer, next year.  It's funny, I just recently rewatched this movie a few weeks ago.  And I have to tell you, it still works today.  Sure the special effects are outdated, but they add a lot of charm to the movie.

The original was released in 1991 and was directed by Joe Johnston (Captain America).  It starred a young, handsome, Billy Campbell donning the jetpack, and Jennifer Connell as his love interest.  Alan Arkin played an eccentric father figure to Campbell and 007 himself, Timothy Dalton played the villain.

I don't like that the studios are just rebooting every property they've ever owned; but I'm interested in this one.  Also, it's been 20+ years since the release of the original (unlike the 5 year break the Spider-Man reboot received).  It's still early, let's wait to pass judgement on this one.  I'll keep ya posted.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hope Springs review; a depressing look at an aging marriage

This is going to be a short review because, frankly, there's not much to say. This weekend I decided to watch Hope Springs with my lovely wife. The trailers promised a tail of a broken married, marred by the sternness of a man who could no longer show his wife he loved her. Meryl Streep plays the wife yearning for an intimate marriage, and Tommy Lee Jones plays the man unwilling to give it to her. They go to a therapist (Steve Carrell) to get help. Let's go.

What I liked about the film:
Meryl Streep
Seriously, at this point, just give her an Oscar nomination for every film she's in. She does an amazing job of portraying this woman who is so emotionally neglected by her husband, she's ready to call it quits. When Streep cries on screen, you can't help but get chocked up. She really is spectacular in the film and I hope she gets nominated when the time comes.

What I didn't like about the film:
It's Just Blah
I left the theater forgetting what I had just saw. It's a very bland and subtle film. Director David Frankel is somewhat of an expert on character peices. He directed The Devil Wears Prada and Marley & Me. But I think this film just misses the mark. The entire movie is made up of the couple going to therapy and then trying to be intimate at home that night. Nothing really happens. And with 5 sessions for the couple to go to, it all becomes a bit repeatative.

I mentioned that Steep is terrific, but what about Tommy Lee Jones? He is fantastic in one aspect; he created a character that is old, bitter and difficult to deal with. That is where the actor shines. But there is no arc to the character. Yes, the film has a happy ending. But there is little to no mention as to why the Jones character is the way that he is. And his "turn" to a better husband is weak at best. Other than chatting with a co-worker, there is no reason for Jones' growth as a character.

And Steve Carrell. Oh my, Steve Carrell. Why on earth did he take this role? His character, obviously an important one, could have been played by anyone. Carrell's talents (both comedically and dramatically) are wasted. He is restricted to a chair resciting diolgue with the other two stars of the film. I was very disappointed.

The Verdict:
Probably better as a play
If the movie was in front of a live audience, I honestly think it would have been a better show. It's depressing and repeatative and does little to explain why the Jones character is the way that he is. I usually enjoy films with older characters falling in love too. For a better film with similar themes, check out Last Chance Harvey or one of Steve Carrell's best performances in Dan in Real Life. For THIS film, pass.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The James Bond film, Skyfall, has us all excited!

MGM has finally got it off the ground.  The Bond sequel that has been delayed time and time again.  The trailer premiered a few weeks ago, but I love it so much I decided to post it anyway.  The rebooted James Bond franchise has been great so far (even with the mediocre Quantum of Solace).  Casino Royale was the edgy reinvention of the character made famous by the likes of Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan.  Daniel Craig gave us our first blonde and troubled Bond.  The trailer below is to Skyfall, the third in the current series.  It's directed by Oscar winner, Sam Mendes; and stars Oscar winners Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem (playing the villain).  Check out the trailer and my comments after.

I really really like what I'm seeing.  The action is reminiscent of Casino Royale with a pinch of the absurd.  But Mendes has created a tone that works will with the actors in the film.  Craig will surely turn in another fantastic performace, as well as the great Judi Dench.  But Bardem just gives me the creeps.  That hair, and that absent look on his face as he intimidates Daniel Craig is crazy good.  I can't wait to see this.  How about you all?

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Bourne Legacy, a fun and exciting change of pace

The Bourne trilogy is among my favorite in the action adventure genre.  Matt Damon played the character of Jason Bourne; a man with amnesia trying to figure out who he is and who made him a killing machine.  The end of the third film was left wide-open.  It was pretty much setup for a sequel of some kind.  But when Paul Greengrass (director of parts 2 and 3) decided not to return, neither did Damon.  So what now?  How about the writer of all 3 films (Tony Gilroy), writes AND directs a reboot set in the same world as Jason Bourne?  I'm in.  This is The Bourne Legacy... let's go!

What I liked about the film?
The Actors
Jeremy Renner has truly become a star in the last 5 years.  After two Oscar nominated performances (The Hurt Locker, The Town), he's become somewhat of a go-to action star.  He was cast in the fourth Mission Impossible film, and is rumored to carry on that franchise without Tom Cruise.  Due out next year is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the re-imagining of the children's tale.  In this movie, Renner is terrific!  His character is much different from Damon's.  He is a bit more human, where Damon played his character much more straight laced.  Renner is a more likeable hero as well.  He knows what he signed up for, he knew the consequences and I believe that makes for an interesting change from the previous trilogy.

Rachel Weisz is excellent in her role as a doctor who is a part of the program that enhances the abilities of soldiers, Renner being one of them.  She could have easily been pushed to the side in this testosterone driven film, but she wasn't.  I really enjoyed her character arc from a weak, scared woman, to confident cohort.  And best of all is the chemistry between Weisz and Renner.  There are some really funny scenes in the film, something the first 3 films desperately lacked.  

Also in the film is Edward Norton.  He plays the creator of the program, code named, "Outcome".  Renner was one of the subjects.  Although I really enjoyed his acting in the film, it felt a bit weird as the character is confied to a room for most of the film.  Still very good.  And what I loved was the return of actors in the original films.  Albert Finney, Joan Allen and others are shown in both new scenes, as well as scenes from the third film.  I thought this was a very clever way to keep the film in the same universe as the previous.

This film is definitely not like the previous 3 films where we are discovering the character's past... with the character.  In this film, it's more about Renner's self-preservation than anything else.  The story is given to us pretty early on.  This is ok with me.  I thought the story was nice and easy to follow.  Again, keeping in the same world as the characters we already know, but adding a new spin.  It weaves together the events of the previous film, with the events happening on screen.  It really is a clever technique that Gilroy used in the writing of the 3rd film, weaving it together with the events of the 2nd film.  And if you read this blog at all, you know I don't discuss much plot; go see the movie for that.

The Action
This could be a dislike in one aspect.  Because there's not enough of it!  The action is limited in this movie compared to previous; but my is it spectacular!  I've said this many times... action should only lend itself to the story, and the film does this perfectly.  I also like leaving these kinds of films with memorable action sequences, and I was not disappointed.  There is a scene involving Renner vs. a number of agents in a house that was done perfectly.  The hand to hand combat, the choreography, the design, the camera angles were all spot on.  A second scene inovling a motorcyle chase (featured in several of the trailers) ends so spectacularly, it had my theater cheering with joy.

What I didn't like about the film:
The Plot Holes
The movie is full of plot holes. Here are a few examples. Weisz' colleague at a lab they work at, has a psycotic episode. It is mentioned he may have been manipulated, but his craziness is never explained. That's as vague as I can be without spoiling things. Another scene involves Renner's self-preservation I mentioned earlier. He and Weisz must break into a facility to steal something of importance for him to survive. There is no clear cut explaination if "it" worked. No exposition to explain, nothing. Again, I'm being vague for the sake of not spoiling the film; but once you've seen the film, leave me a comment whether you agree or not.

The pacing in the film was a big problem for me.  The first act is poorly constructed.  There is a lot of fast paced exposition explaining the program headed up by Edward Norton's character; but at the same time a slow paced montage of sorts, showing Renner's physical capabilities.  This leads me to the ending of the film.  It ended so abruptly, I was truly surprised.  I seriously didn't see it coming.  The film makers left it wide open, of course.  So you can bet on sequels if this movie is commercially successful.

The Verdict:
A Welcomed Change
As I said to start this post, the original Jason Bourne trilogy is among my favorites; but this film was a very welcomed change.  Renner is a more likable spy who portrayed a more human character than Damon.  There were bits of comedy, something desperately needed to lighten up the mood.  Other than a few writing mishaps and editing mistakes by Gilroy, I really enjoyed this film.  Like I said, there may not have been much action, but damn if it wasn't memorable.  Check out the reboot/sequel and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Harry Potter director, David Yates, joins the Justice League rumor mill

That didn't take long.  Two days after it was announced that Joss Whedon would be directing The Avengers 2, and just one day after Ben Affleck was rumored to be attached to the Justice League film, comes this.  Another of Warner Brothers favorite directors, David Yates, has been thrown into the mix.  Yates directed the final 4 of 8 Harry Potter films.

This is interesting to me.  I thouroghly enjoy David Yates' distinct style.  He could easily create a world for these superhero characters to live in.  If you've seen any of the recent Potter films, you know he can tell a story while building character arcs.  And I think that is important to note.  What Christopher Nolan did so well with his Dark Knight trilogy was make us care about the man, before we cared about the mask.  I think Zack Snyder is taking the same approach to his Man of Steel, the Superman film.

This bit of 'news' tells me something... WB is looking to fast track the film.  This is good news for geeks everywhere.  Let's just hope it's not completely screwed up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ben Affleck may direct AND star in the Justice League movie?

It's turning into a comic book movie news kind of day.   Variety is reporting that Ben Affleck is in talks to direct (and star) in Warner Brothers' Justice League movie.  This comes a day after Whedon was officially announced as the director of The Avengers 2.   This is very interesting.  Since The Town, Warner Brothers has wanted to stay in the business of Ben Affleck.  He has been rumored for all sorts of projects at the studio, none as big as this!

Ready for this.... I think Ben Affleck would be PERFECT to direct a Justice League film.  The Town proved a few things.  1, Affleck can direct a very real, very gritty film.  His work in that film was terrific, and there were even whispers of an Oscar nomination.  2, he can direct action.  The Town had several, very well choreographed, bank heists that left the audience speechless.  It would take that same skill set to produce action worthy enough of its main characters.

There's a catch to all this hypothetical news, Affleck wants to also be one of the stars in the film.  Variety does stress the fact that this is all rumor at this point, but it makes sense.  Financially, the movie could be huge for Affleck, if he is to direct and star.  Not sure what role he would take, but it's probably safe to assume it wont be Superman.  Man of Steel, due out next Summer, has been reported to be in the same 'universe' as the Justice League movie.  So what about Affleck directing, a good idea?  Who should he play?

Fox doesn't want to swap Fantastic Four characters for more time on Daredevil

I thought this was an interesting story.  Back in January I posted about Fox rebooting their Daredevil franchise.  The reason they wanted to fastrack the project was, if they didn't, the rights to the character would revert back to Marvel (who as you know, is making their own movies now).  Fox also owns the rights to the Fantastic Four characters, and is working on that reboot as well.  Here's where it gets interesting.

Joe Carnahan
Fox has a director lined up for Daredevil, but needs more time to make the movie.  They tentatively have Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, Narc) attached to direct.  Marvel is ready to throw down their Thor hammer on the issue.  For Marvel to give Fox more time on Daredevil, they want a few characters back from Fantastic Four; most notably, The Silver Surfer.  I have NEVER heard of this kind of negotiating.  And Fox is not going to play ball.

Fox is willing to let Daredevil go, as they have a young and in-demand director lined up for Fantastic Four (Chronicle director, Josh Trank).  So in a few years, we could see "the Marvel version" of Daredevil.  Interesting and compelling.  They don't usually make their movies very 'dark'.  So they would have to change it up a bit for the character to stay true to the comics.  We'll have to wait and see.

Joss Whedon OFFICIALLY signs on to direct The Avengers 2

Can you imagine if the writer/director DIDN'T sign on?  There would be geek riots all over the country.  Ok, maybe that's exaggerating, but this is really good news.  Marvel is setting up 'Phase 2' of their movies, beginning with Iron Man 3 next year.  Signing Whedon is the best thing they could have done for their Avengers franchise.  In my opinion, and something I explained in my review of The Avengers, Whedon knows what he's doing.  He knows the world these characters live in, he knows the mythology, and perhaps most importantly, he knows how to make them contemporary for our times.

Whedon will be writing and directing the sequel, due out in theaters Summer of 2015.  Can't wait!