Monday, April 30, 2012

Featurette/Trailer: Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus' Will Make Your Brain Explode in Anticipation

I'm trying desperately to avoid any further footage of this movie, and haven't even watched the new 3-minute trailer I included below.  I couldn't help myself with this relatively benign featurette though. I must say, the marketing department behind this movie deserves a serious golf clap. 'Prometheus' now rivals 'The Dark Knight Rises' as my most anticipated movie of the summer.
'Prometheus' hits theaters in 2D, IMAX, & IMAX 3D on June 8th.

Friday, April 27, 2012

First Look: Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in 'Hitchcock'

Talk about spot-on casting... these two share the same initials and the same turkey neck!  Will Hannibal even need to act for this one?!?!

'Hitchcock' follows the making of the Hitchcock horror classic, 'Psycho', and is based on the book, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho.  I haven't read it, but apparently there were several trials and tribulations in getting the film made.  Color me intrigued (which I believe is somewhere between fuschia and robin's egg blue).

I wonder if this movie will get a shot-for-shot remake starring Vince Vaughn in 20 years...

First Look: 'Django Unchained' looks off the hook... see what I did there?

Well that was quick... Entertainment Weekly just released the first images from the set of Quentin Tarentino's new flick, 'Django Unchained'.

Sick overcoat, Christoph.  And Jamie, what is that color on your jacket... olive?  The costume designer for this movie must have been a store manager for Banana Republic.

Quite the ascot there, Leo.  Although I wouldn't suggest doing home improvement projects in a three piece suit.

This movie looks awesome already.  It looks like Quentin is going for a very specific look, which means that he has some serious ideas swirling around in that coke-laden genius head of his.  I loved the Spaghetti Western aspects of 'Kill Bill', so this should be as good or better.

Review: "Safe" Takes Absolutely No Risks

In 1998, there was a pretty crappy Bruce Willis actioner by the name of 'Mercury Rising' that followed an exiled FBI agent (Willis) who takes it upon himself to protect a young Autistic boy from numerous nameless assassins after he cracks a highly-secure government code.  'Safe' is the 2012 version of 'Mercury Rising', substituting action and swear words for the barely detectable heart of its predecessor.  What were producers Lawrence Bender, who has produced all of Tarentino's masterpieces, and Kevin Spacey, who has been tied to some of the best movies of my generation, thinking when they agreed to make 'Safe'?!

Jason Statham plays Bruce Willis, I mean Luke Wright, a tormented former NYPD detective and now undercard MMA fighter in New Jersey (what a backstory).  Wright is such a great fighter with obvious skeletons in his closet that he accidentally kills his latest opponent with one punch after taking a self-imposed beating during a fight he was supposed to throw anyway.  His victory has cost a lot of people a lot of money, namely a Russian mob boss who wants his payment.  The boss's son kills Luke's wife and unborn child, but leaves him unscathed to roam New York City's homeless shelters in anguish, urging him to kill himself.  Interestingly enough, you also find out (all through expository dialogue) that his old police friends don't like Luke's return to the Big Apple either.  For whatever reason, they kidnap him, beat him up, and again, urge Wright to commit suicide.

Meanwhile, a young, smart Chinese girl who is a wiz with numbers is kidnapped by the Chinese gang in NYC to run finances for several of the businesses the gang owns.  You find out that all of her business efforts were simply a test to evaluate her memory, as she is then tasked with remembering an extremely long and evidently important number for the head of the gang.  On her way to deliver the number to whoever, the Russian gang intercepts the motorcade, all hell breaks loose, and the girl escapes.  She crosses paths with Statham's character in the subway, literally on the edge, as he contemplates stepping in front of the next train.  He senses her danger, perceives her as his reason to live, and goes on a killing spree to thwart the efforts of the Russian gang, Chinese gang, and corrupt cops to capture her.  At no time do you care about this girl; she simply exists as a reason for Statham to kick ass.

The dialogue in 'Safe' is many times cringe-inducing, with characters simply used as plot devices to explain what the hell is happening, and Statham delivers one-liners that harken back to the days of Arnold/Stallone flicks (not in a good way).  The action, while brutal and at times impressive thanks to Statham, is rather pedestrian and often falls victim to the standard gun fight.

For all the nay-saying, there is some cool one-take cinematography during the scenes where the girl is abducted.  In addition, Statham does commit to his part in this movie, which encourages you to see the story through. 

Perhaps I'm being hard on 'Safe'; I just saw no reason for this one to be made.  Sorry Lawrence Bender.  'Safe' opens in theaters today, April 27th.

Acting: 4/10

Direction: 6/10

Writing: 4/10 

Movie: 5/10

Verdict:  Rent it if you're a Statham fan or you haven't seen 'Mercury Rising'

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Michael Fassbender is a Robot... New 'Prometheus' Viral Video

This viral marketing for Ridley Scott's new 'Alien' prequel-ish flick, 'Prometheus', has me freaked out.  Now that I know Fassbender is an android in this movie, his stoic appearances in the trailer (below) make more sense.  The viral vid is interesting and creepy as hell, and I am absolutely PUMPED for this movie.

'Prometheus' stars the likes of Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce ('Memento') and Idris Elba (Stringer Bell on 'The Wire'), and is directed by Ridley Scott, the legendary director behind blockbusters like 'Gladiator', 'Black Hawk Down', 'Blade Runner', and obviously, 'Alien'.  The script was co-written by Damon Lindelof, co-creator of 'Lost', so you know this flick is going to be ridiculous.

'Prometheus' hits theaters in IMAX 3D on June 8th.

Gotta love the *BRAHHHMM* sounds made famous by Hans Zimmer in 'Inception'.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Newsflash: Tarentino's 'Django Unchained' Synopsis

On December 25th, Quentin Tarentino will unleash his new flick upon the masses (see what I did there?).  I'll let the Weinstein Bros. tell you what it's about:

Set in the South two years before the Civil War, "Django Unchained" stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.

Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.

Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation where slaves are groomed by trainer Ace Woody (Kurt Russell) to battle each other for sport. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie's trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival...

Written and directed by Academy Award®-winner Quentin Tarantino, DJANGO UNCHAINED is produced by Stacey Sher, Pilar Savone and Reginald Hudlin. The executive producers are Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Michael Shamberg, Shannon McIntosh, and James Skotchdopole. DJANGO UNCHAINED will be released in the U.S. on December 25, 2012, and internationally by Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Christoph Waltz as a Civil War Mr. Miyagi, Jamie Foxx as a bad-ass-former-slave-bounty-hunter, & Leonardio DiCaprio as a villian?!  DONE.  Wake me for 'The Dark Knight Rises', then wake me for this.

Newsflash: Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah' Has A Release Date

Darren Aronofsky's dream project, 'Noah', has been rumored for years now.  The budget was in the hundreds of millions and no studio would finance the biblical epic... until Aronofsky re-wrote the script and revised the budget.  Rumors were for Liam Neeson to star, but most recently, Russell Crowe has been attached to the project.  Paramount announced the production in October, and now we've got an official release date!

'Noah' will be released on March 28th, 2014.

Darren Aronofsky in a recent statement:
"Since I was a kid, I have been moved and inspired by the story of Noah and his family's journeyThe imaginations of countless generations have sparked to this epic story of faith. It's my hope that I can present a window into Noah's passion and perseverance for the silver screen."
I know it's a long way off and we still need to survive the Mayan calendar in order to see it, but this announcement has me PUMPED.

Review: 'The Cabin In The Woods' Is Fresh, Weird, & Cool

It's so hard to write about movies like this without spoiling the plot, which is what makes 'The Cabin In The Woods' such a treat in the first place.  Then again, to say "movies like this" would imply that there are other flicks out there like this one.

I admittedly am not a huge horror fan, so it takes alot for the genre to to peak my interest enough to see something in theaters.  Thinking back, the last horror movie I saw in theaters was 2005's 'The Descent' (which was awesome).  After hearing that 'The Cabin In The Woods' was an original take on the horror movie, I decided to bypass any further details and simply check it out myself.  I was not disappointed.

5 naive college students head to the mountains on Spring Break to get drunk and fool around.  There's a jock (played by a less-Thor-looking Chris Hemsworth), a slut, a nerd, a prude, and a pothead.  They slowly realize that things aren't what they seem... then bad stuff happens.  Sound familiar?  It is... but that's the point.

'The Cabin In The Woods' is both tongue-in-cheek and takes itself seriously; it's something we've all seen before and yet it's wholey original.  Confused?  Good.  Drew Goddard, the director, wouldn't have it any other way.  He expertly deconstructs the stereotypes played upon in every "cabin horror" movie the same way Wes Craven tackled the slasher movie in 'Scream'.  Goddard infuses humor to go along with the scares a la Sam Raimi's 'Evil Dead'.  And those are the two best compliments I can pay to 'The Cabin In The Woods'.

I could dance around the specifics for another 500 words or you could just trust me and see the damn movie.  It's strange, it's funny, it's original, it's cool.  I mean, where else can you watch a dude beat up a zombie with a bong disguised as a travel coffee mug??

Acting: 7/10

Direction: 9/10

Writing: 9/10 

Movie: 7.5/10



Friday, April 13, 2012

Newsflash: 'Sin City: A Dame To Kill For' Officially Announced

None other than Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez distributed a press release today announcing the 'Sin City: A Dame To Kill For' is officially in production.  'Sin City 2' has long been rumored, with stars like Johnny Depp & Angelina Jolie attached to join the already star-studded cast, and with the Weinstein Company producing, who knows where we could end up here.

Obviously, specifics are being kept tightly under wraps, but Frank Miller's 'A Dame To Kill For' graphic novel centers around Dwight, played in the original 'Sin City' by Clive Owen.  Since my favorite scene in the original is the car scene during Dwight's storyline (guest directed by Quentin Tarantino no less), I'm pumped for this.  Evidently, so are Rodriguez & Miller:

Robert Rodriguez:

“I have wanted to re-team with Frank Miller and return to the world he created since the day we wrapped the original, but have felt a duty to the fans to wait until we had something truly exceptional that would meet and exceed what have become epic expectations. 'A Dame To Kill For' will certainly be worth the wait."
Frank Miller:

“The first 'Sin City' knocked out audiences who had never seen anything like it before. Robert Rodriguez and I are going to shake things up and deliver a ferocious film experience that is going to go even further than the first." 
"Ferocious"??? "Go even further than the first"?!  A dude got his nuts shot off within the first 5 minutes of the original.  How much further and ferocious could we go?

Newsflash: Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson Reuniting for 'The Internship'

Awesome news coming in today from 20th Century Fox is bringing the Wedding Crashers back together.  Details still seem to be a bit scarce, but we do know that Shawn Levy, director of Steve Carrell's 'Date Night' & Hugh Jackman's 'Real Steel', is attached to direct.  Vince Vaughn is also producing and co-penned the script, so you know the flick will be worth at least a few laughs.

The film could almost serve as an unofficial sequel, or even prequel to Wedding Crashers as it follows two old school salesmen who, finding themselves suddenly unemployed and passed-by in the digital world, try to reinvent themselves by becoming interns at a major tech company.
I actually hope this is completely independent of 'Wedding Crashers'.  There are very few prequel/sequels, especially in comedy, that actually work as well as the original.  Either way, this should be well worth the price of admission.

Trailer: Joseph Gordon Levitt & Bruce Willis in Time-Travel Actioner, "Looper"

"This time travel crap... it fries your brain like an egg."

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hitman Bruce Willis from the past.  Or does Bruce play Gordon-Levitt from the future?  And they're both trying to kill each other?  No matter who succeeds, doesn't that erase both of them from existence?  I'll be honest, I've been baffled by this time travel stuff since 'T2: Judgment Day'.

Here's Sony's synopsis:

In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented – but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a “looper” – a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good… until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.
'Looper' also stars Jeff Daniels, who is always awesome, and Emily Blunt, who I thought was phenomenal in 'Adjustment Beurau'.

Review: 'Titanic: An IMAX 3D Experience'

15 years after its initial release in 1997 (has it seriously been that long?!), James Cameron is bringing his ultra-successful blockbuster back to the big screen, with the added novelty of 'Titanic' appearing in 3 dimensions.  The big question is-- is this "limited engagement" even necessary, and does it deserve my hard-earned money to see again in theaters?  The answer is almost as big as the ship itself: YES & YES.

In case you were on Pluto when 'Titanic' came out, the film is the tried-and-true story of star-crossed lovers who overcome all odds to follow their hearts and fight for everlasting love on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic in 1912.  With dialogue that's, at times, almost as corny as my previous sentence, this mammoth of a movie could have easily collapsed on a trite story line, bloated budget, and ludicrously high expectations.  But like its main characters (and unlike the ship itself), 'Titanic' rises up to absolutely entertain on sheer human emotion and spectacle.

Jack Dawson (Leonardio DiCaprio) is a poor & happy Wisconsin boy who has made his life as a travelling artist, laying his head wherever he ends up at the end of the day.  Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) is the well-to-do fiance' of an elitist oil tycoon named Cal (played brilliantly by Billy Zane).  Jack boards Titanic after winning a ticket during a lucky poker hand; Rose is on her way back to Philadelphia to wed Cal, albeit against her will, in order to retain her family's position as a wealthy name after her father's untimely death.  Jack meets Rose when she half-heartedly attempts suicide in order to gain attention.  Jack talks Rose off the ledge and also provides her a look at what it's like to sieze the day (which women find incredibly sexy... trust me).  The two inevitably fall for each other and fight for their love... both against the stereotypes of their class, as well as the circumstances destiny lays before them.

Is the story original??  Hell no.  It's Romeo & Juliet with a ship.  But most of today's stories originate at least partly from Shakespeare anyway.  Where 'Titanic' succeeds is in its execution, thanks to the sure eye of James Cameron.  The writing, though sometimes eye-roll-inducing, is largely genuine for kids in love.  The cast is phenomenal all around... Leo & Kate have outstanding chemistry, the supporting cast (especially Kathy Bates) make you care about the other lives on the boat, and the 197 minutes seem to fly by.  The sinking of the ship is as grand and terrifying as you could possibly imagine.  The budget, which at the time was the most expensive movie ever made, goes to good use.  Much of the special effects are done live in-camera, and the result makes for a very visceral experience, one that is as unforgettable as the amount of Oscar noms the flick received.

It's been 15 years since the movie came out and spawned so many pop culture memes, it's hard to believe you would have read this review if you hadn't already seen the flick, so let's get into the IMAX and 3D aspects, shall we?

Firstly, I must admit: I'm a huge fan of IMAX (no pun intended), assuming the film is designed to be viewed on a screen that size.  None of that "same movie on a bigger screen" BS... either actual IMAX footage (see 'The Dark Knight' and 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol') or a digital conversion to IMAX (see 'The Hunger Games').  The picture and sound is far superior and offers a much more immersive movie-going experience that I truly believe is worth the extra dough. 

So how does 'Titanic' match up?  Perfectly.  James Cameron personally monitored the conversion to IMAX and 3D, and the result is fantastic.  The IMAX makes the movie look and sound better than ever, and the 3D adds immersion without becoming gimmicky (no, Kate Winslet's nipples don't pop out of the screen at you).  While I would say that the 3D isn't absolutely necessary, I've never been so wrapped up in 'Titanic' before, and I've seen this flick at least 7 times by now.

In closing, 'Titanic' is one helluva movie that will appeal to all ages and genders.  The film is deeply rooted in humanity, love, and survival, which speaks to why it was so successful.  The IMAX 3D adds even more emotion and high stakes to the ride, making this movie a can't-miss in theaters.  Highly recommended.

Acting: 8.5/10

Direction: 10/10

Writing: 7/10 

Movie: 9/10

Medium (IMAX 3D): 10/10

Verdict:  MUST SEE!