“I Wish” I Was Making This Up…

July 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm (Movies)

I don’t think I’m the only one that was familiar with the Nickelodeon show “The Fairly OddParents” growing up. The show was fairly popular and in its first few seasons it was pretty funny and one of my favorite shows growing up. That being said, as with a lot of Nickelodeon shows the series sorta jumped the shark once the baby was introduced (see the pattern cough *Dil in Rugrats* cough). After a one year “hiatus”, known in other places as a cancellation, the show was revived in early 2008 with a slew of new episodes and the show has continued on into its seventh season. The eighth season of the show is approaching and is currently in production, and to commemorate the show’s 10 year anniversary Nickelodeon is doing a live action made-for-TV movie of the series, entitled “A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up Timmy Turner”. After hearing the premise and seeing some of the photos, I can’t help but agree that the result so far isn’t as much fairly odd as it is disturbingly odd.

Now bear with me as I describe the plot. It may be hard to stick with it to the end, but trust me it’s worth it. Note, this is an actual film with an actual script, the word script being used as lightly as it was when George Lucas finished writing Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with actual actors, and is not, I repeat NOT, a joke. That being said, enjoy-

Timmy Turner (being portrayed by Drake Bell from Drake and Josh), plays Timmy, who is no longer ten years old, but is 23. This is where it starts to hit the Academy Award bait, but despite common belief, he is still living at home and is still in the fifth grade. (It seems like Nickelodeon is remaking Adam Sandler movies with their classic cartoons. Billy Madison + Fairly OddParents, I sure can’t wait for Happy Gilmore + Spongebob or better yet Rugrats + Big Daddy.) Timmy is still in the fifth grade because he still wants to keep his fairy godparents, Cosmo and Wanda, despite that “Da Rules” dictates children give up their fairy godparents after a certain age or point in time. It gets better, as it turns out Cosmo and Wanda are going to be played by Jason Alexander (George Castanza from Seinfeld) (can he really not find work) and Cheryl Hines (the Mom from RV, very prestigous career). Now Timmy is forced to choose between growing up and remaining in his childish ways, I wish I had a choice like that, a choice so delusional and seemingly optional between the two, I mean how exactly can he not choose to be an adult, isn’t that called insanity? Anyway, he’s forced to choose as Tootie (remember Tootie, how delusionally psychotic and emotionally unstable you obviously became when your sister was in fact both icky and made people sicky) comes back into town and it turns out she’s hot and (on the surface) is no longer mentally unstable.  So for the kids who’ve lost track at home, he has to choose between godparents or a hot chick, if I had a nickel for every time… All of this is going on while Steven Weber (if you’ve ever watched a complete episode of any TV show, chances are he was the bad guy (radio guy from Monk)) plays an oil tycoon that, AND I QUOTE “turns his attention to capturing Timmy’s fairies and using their power to fuel his maniacal ambition.” All the while we realize Evil Vickie was executed on death row 5 years prior on charges on our judicial system’s most extreme cast yet of child abuse and first ever case to be deemed worthy of the electric chair. Okay I’ll admit I made that last part up. This film has everything, mental disorders, terrible casting, and a discovery of a new source of fuel apparently. So let’s just take a look at a breakdown here of what this movie’s about so we can all be well prepared-

  • The music business apparently didn’t work out for Drake Bell, strut that guitar all you want but Shirley ain’t hiring no more at the movie theater and the “Superhero Movie” well has already gone dry.
  • Jason Alexander is… well… in need of help.
  • Cheryl Hines may top her award-worthy RV performance with this gig.
  • Most importantly, that you can in fact ignore a girl your entire life and treat her like crap and when you yourself are on the verge of a mental breakdown she’ll show up, totally be willing to forgive you, totally hot, and that will be the perfect and only reason to be with her.
  • Mental disorders can be swept underneath a rug.
  • Girls and guys note, stalking can be forgiven if you’re hot!
  • This movie’s teaching two things A) Only attractive people can be forgiven and B) Being an Adult is a Choice
  • That whenever I, along with everyone else, turn 23 I’ll have the opportunity to choose between childhood and adulthood, George Castanza on one side and a Selena Gomez wannabe on the other.
  • That apparently fairies are an alternative to gasoline and oil, and if that’s so than I say we start the conversion over to Cosmo-powered-Toyotas.
  • (Insert Fairly OddParents/BP Oil Spill Joke here)
  • Jorgon Von Strangle is powering a whole dealership of H3 Hummers right about now.
  • I just came up with a whole Adam-Sandler-Nickelodeon-themed films. (Catdog + 50 First Dates, or should I say 25 + 25 First Dates.)
  • Josh Peck might be able to play Tommy Pickles before the year is over, and Crazy Steve might have the Angry Beavers film role all to himself (he’ll play all the characters).
  • What’s better than one mental disorder? Two mental disorders in a relationship!
  • We may get to see the first ever marriage ceremony performed in straight jackets by the end of the film.
  • What ever happened to Crazy Steve?
  • The entire film may be a spinoff of Inception, that he’s gotten the entire audience to have a horrible nightmare.

(I’m barely typing this while laughing really really hard looking at that picture at the top of the post.) If anything else this movie will have provided us with some hysterically awful photos and a pivotal scene where Cosmo has to explain to Wanda “he was in a pool!” The movie premieres on Nick sometime in 2011, so prime your DVRs!

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Josh Hutcherson Spiderman Screen Test

July 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm (Movies)

Although Andrew Garfield won the role of Spiderman about a month ago, a video was released online today of Josh Hutcherson’s screen test for the part. If you remember correctly, Hutcherson was one of the few at the time of the final talks for the role that had not yet done a screen test, which could explain this one standing out. It’s not only interesting to see this video to not just see what’s going on behind the scenes with the project but to see what might have been with Hutcherson’s take on the character, which I think based on this video could have turned out pretty well. He’s got the charisma in a sense but he still has a few moments in the video where he came off a little over dramatic. Bear in mind that obviously this wasn’t a finished scene with a real set, finished effects or even costumes. As the name implies, it’s simply a test to see what the actor could do on the fly with a couple of extras, some wire, and the old Sam Raimi score laid on top.

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RED Trailer

July 27, 2010 at 10:02 am (Weapons of Mass Enjoyment)

Without a doubt this has to be one of my most anticipated films of the rest of the year. Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malcovich, and Bruce Willis star as former CIA agents in retirement that are forced to fight for their lives when Bruce Willis’ character is attacked in his home. Some of the action shots in this trailer are incredibly insane. The film is set to release October 15th.

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Avengers, Assemble!… Please…

July 26, 2010 at 10:19 pm (Movies)

Sure, there are tons upon tons of films at Comic Con and so much nerd bliss, but one film sort of stood out for all the inhaler-sucking, Olivia Munn-pining geek horde, and that was the panel and all the information concerning the development that came with The Avengers, or more specifically, Thor and Captain America. With the success of Iron Man in the past and the business of The Incredible Hulk “taken care of”, the last two cornerstone pieces of the Avengers puzzle are a big gamble for the Marvel crew, and it’s up to directors Joe Johnston (The Wolfman) and Kenneth Branaugh (Henry V) to step up to the plate. Let’s not forget Joss Whedon either (don’t forget your ulcer medication, it’s gonna be a long two years). So here’s a venerable “breakdown” of sorts of what exactly we know about Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America.

THOR-As of now we do know Chris Hemsworth (Kirk’s dad from 2009’s Star Trek) is playing Thor, and that the appropriately Shakespearian director of films like Henry V Kenneth Branaugh is directing the film. Tom Hiddleston is portraying Loki, Anthony Hopkins is playing Odin, and Natalie Portman is playing Jane Foster, a love interest while Thor is on Earth. Joshua Dallas, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobo Asano are playing, respectively, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun of the Warriors Three.

A lot of set designs have been unveiled including a crap ton of costumes. For those of you who are more unfamiliar with the story it follows Thor, the God of Thunder, who is banished from Asgard by his father Odin and forced to prove his worth so he can gain his power back. Word is that a majority of the film will take place on Earth with Thor not having his hammer, as that’s one of the main plot points/conflicts of him trying to get it back. Along the way he’ll have a run-in or two with SHIELD including Agent Coulson from Iron Man 1 and 2. In fact if you looked closely Thor was in Iron Man 2. Loki is set to be the “main villain” of sorts not only for this film but also arching over into The Avengers film. However, during some Comic Con footage shown another villain known as “The Destroyer” was being mentioned for a large villain role in the movie. A trailer of sorts with lots and lots of footage was shown for movie, and below is /Film’s description. What I’ve heard of the movie I’m not entirely sold on it. It could be really great and blow me away, however I’m not convinced that a movie about Thor running around on Earth breaking Natalie Portman’s heart (high five if you got that joke) in denim pants and a tight shirt with no costume and no hammer is going to make for a great film. I love the sound of some of the Asgard stuff, and that first act and last act (where Thor may get his hammer and lay the whooping on Loki/Destroyer) sounds awesome, not to mention all the cool tie-ins with SHIELD. The film is being made for $150 million and will be released by Paramount Film on May 6th, 2011.

It opens with thunder and lightning, and a camera shot that drops directly down into a SHIELD-erected structure. The building is hiding the hammer of Thor, which was found in New Mexico. We hear Agent Coulsen (Clark Gregg) interrogating Thor as shots are intercut of Thor decimating SHIELD agents in rain and mud. Coulsen surmises that, based upon his prowess, Thor must have serious military training. (There’s a pretty cool shot with Thor useing a jump kick to drop one agent.) The interrogation comes to a head with: “who are you?”

Then the camera flies up into Asgard, panning around a huge gold, Jack Kirby-ish palace in which Odin is castigating Thor for being rash, dishonorable, selfish and bringing war to Asgard as a result. Thor, kneeling before Odin (Anthony Hopkins), wears his helmet (looks good!) but Odin bellows his anger at Thor and casts him out of Asgard.

Then the thunder god is lying in the dirt when he’s found by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings). Thor opens his eyes and grumbles “this is Earth, isn’t it?” The women take him in and Darcy cracks wise while ogling the god: “for an insane homeless man, he’s pretty cut.” There’s dialogue about Foster and her team being on the verge of some discovery and Thor promises that she’ll find what she’s looking for if he gets what he wants.

That’s the hammer, and we’ve got to surmise that Coulson’s interrogation comes after Thor broke into the compound to retrieve the hammer. But when we see him approach and attempt to lift it, he fails. Voiceover from Odin, “Whosoever lifts this hammer, if he is found worthy, shall weild the power of Thor.” The young god is obviously not yet worthy.

That leads to images of Loki taking over Asgard and a swirl of combat footage — the Warriors Three battling some threat to Asgard, chaos in the New Mexico town where Jane Foster is working and a big battle between Thor and Loki. Voiceover from Odin says something to the effect that Thor will have to face what’s coming to him. And that’s when the kicker comes in: Destroyer, a huge metal beast, lands in New Mexico. Coulson and other SHIELD agents confront it, with one agent asking if it’s one of Stark’s. Then the Destroyer’s face opens up and unleashes fiery hell on the agents.

(We had a spy photo of Destroyer a while back that was removed at the request of Paramount; below is an official image released today. That’s not a still from the film, but rather a photo from the Comic Con show floor.)

So: the commentary. I liked the footage a lot. Getting beyond the 3D, the stuff on Earth fits in very well with the Marvel movie universe as established in the Iron Man films. When not in the costume, Hemsworth looks powerful, though not insanely massive. (And, for what it’s worth, Branagh said that some elements of the Don Blake story have been worked into the script, but in some surprising ways.)

The footage in Asgard is a bit more fantastic, but I didn’t think it strayed into Flash Gordon territory. Branagh seems to be keeping his camera moving a lot, which might help ease a sense of stiffness that some of the costumes have. Loki’s helmet looks great, but some of the Asgardian armor and costumes will take some getting used to. But the battle footage between Thor and Loki sold me.

The Destroyer stuff is a great kicker as far as the trailer goes, because it is strongly reminiscent of Iron Man. That should help audiences unfamiliar with the characters and story. But I also wonder how big a presence the Destroyer really has — being a lot like Iron Man has a downside, since we’ve already seen climactic ‘big armor’ battles in those two films. This one has to be a smaller part of Thor, otherwise Marvel will seem like it is just relying on proven tactics.

CAPTAIN AMERICA-The other big bet for Marvel in 2012 is Captain America. Chris Evans proved himself to me in what I’ve seen of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The Losers, and now he’s forced to carry an enormous blockbuster by himself. The movie is being developed as a war movie first and foremost, following Steve Rogers as a WW2 soldier who volunteers for the super soldier serum program. A lot of people have compared what they’ve seen of it to Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Hellboy, and the storyline itself to a Casino Royale of sorts, in that we don’t see him truly as Captain America until the last act or so to lead into The Avengers. In an MTV interview it was stated that Captain America’s shield and costume will evolve throughout the movie and change, in the beginning it being a practical uniform for war and by the end it being the costume we all know and love. Hugo Weaving is to play the villain “Red Skull” in the film, and it’s been said the makeup for the villain will be all practical effects. Sebastian Stan has signed on as Bucky Barnes, Cap’s sidekick of sorts, and one of my favorites Stanley Tucci is portraying the scientist who invents the super soldier serum. Dominic Cooper will be playing a young version of Howard Stark, and Hayley Atwell will be playing the resistance-leading love interest. Sam Jackson will be in the film as Nick Fury, Neal McDonough will show up as part of Fury’s Howling Commandos, and even the classic Tommy Lee Jones will lend his part as Col. Chester Phillips. There’s so much potential for this with a truly awesome cast and can be one of the really ingenius ways they can continue to tie the universe together in an interesting way considering Howard Stark’s involvement. This has to be one of my most anticipated movies of the next few years, as it has so much potential. I really like war movies, and Captain America stands out as one of my favorite comic book characters. I enjoyed Joe Johnston’s take on The Wolfman, and he’s definitely a Spielburgian director, so who knows where he can really take this being we’re still almost 2 years away from the film being released. The movie is only a couple of weeks into shooting, and with a July 22nd, 2012 release date and a $140 million budget, there’s plenty of time for the original avenger to make an impact. Below is /Film’s description of the trailer.

They then premiered footage they claim was filmed just last week. The footage was very rough, complete with timecode. The footage begins with the title card “Norway, May 1942″ we see told older men in a stone castle-like interior. The walls are shaking, dust and dirt falling. The wall implodes inward as a Nazi soldiers come rushing in, and examine a crypt in the center of the room. And then Johann Shmidt (Hugo Weaving pre Red Skull) makes his entrance from the huge hole in the wall. He orders the surviving old man to hand over “The Tesseract.” The man tells Shmidt that what he is looking for is just a legend. Shmidt responds, “then why go through so much work to conceal it?” The crypt is opened, and inside is the bones of a crusader holding a misty crystal white cube. Shmidt picks it up, and says “The Tesseract was the prize of Odin’s collection.” But he isn’t fooled. He throws it down on the ground, smashing it to bits. This is not what he was looking for.

He then turns his attention to the wall, which contains a large wood caving of Yggdrasil, the Norse Tree of Life. In the wall he finds a hidden compartment. Hell pulls it out and opens it. Blue glow fills his face. Shmidt says to the man “You haven’t seen this yet, have you?” The man responds, “It’s not for the eyes of ordinary men.”

THE INCREDIBLE HULK-

This is where the good news sorta ends. 2008 was a good year for the Hulk as the series was reinvented with a great reboot of the series, and 2010 has sorta been a bad year for the Hulk. Edward Norton, who was interested and willing to reprise his role as Bruce Banner in the Avengers film, was dropped by Marvel weeks ago due to “money constraints” and a personal conflict with Norton. Trouble had arose years ago when Norton had wrote a script that was drastically altered by Marvel, and Norton was not even credited for his part in writing it for the film. Word was Norton was a more artsy actor that was hard to work with on set, however his performance in the film was what made the film so great and convincing considering the main pull was the focus on Bruce Banner as a person. Now after a casting bout Mark Ruffalo, known recently for his parts in The Brothers Bloom and Shutter Island, has been cast to take his place. I really like Ruffalo as an actor and I’m sure he could play the part in a great way, but things were downright awkward when he was brought on stage to join the rest of the Avengers cast at the panel. It sorta feels like air being let out of a balloon when you have the guy who we know as Iron Man there, the future Captain America, the future Thor, and some guy who’s a last minute replacement. That being said, I’m sure Ruffalo’s gonna give it his best, but that can’t stop me from wishing there was some way Norton could snatch it back.

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Sucker Punch Trailer

July 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm (Weapons of Mass Enjoyment)

One of my most anticipated films of next year is Zac Snyder’s film Sucker Punch, the story of a girl trapped inside a mental institution where she escapes in adventures inside her mind. Soon, the line begins to fade between reality and the dreams and the super violent stylistic world starts to take it’s hold. Definitely check it out, I can’t wait to see what one of my favorite directors (300, Watchmen) can do next.

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Inception Review

July 25, 2010 at 11:02 pm (Movies)

Alfred Hitchcock redefined horror and suspense with Rear Window, The Birds, and Psycho. Judd Apatow and Todd Phillips crafted the comedy classics that have defined our generation like Knocked Up, The Hangover, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Now, Christopher Nolan has broke ground with not only some of the finest storytelling I’ve seen in years, but also discovering a new frontier of film-making when it comes to the world of dreams. The film is set in a world of “dream espionage”, where a mysterious figure known as Mr. Cobb leads his team of individuals who are also quite mysterious on their biggest mission yet. On behalf of a suspicious superior Mr. Saito, Mr. Cobb and his crew must perform “inception”, placing a thought instead of the more common stealing of thoughts, in the mind of a rival businessman to convince him to not take his father’s place in his company. In the wake of the Bale/Jackman pairing in The Prestige and the Bale/Eckhart/Ledger/Oldman team-up in the phenomenon of 2008’s The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s cast for Inception may be his best pairing yet. Ellen Page, Cobb’s Architect/Dream Builder in Training is relatively new to the action genre, but Page perfectly fits as a believable character that often is explaining the deep mythology to the audience in a subtle way. Tom Hardy is one of the coolest characters on the roster  thanks to the guy’s sleek screen presence and smooth talking, and Marion Cotilliard is effectively creepy in her role I can’t help but keep my lips sealed about. Ken Watanabe, playing the villain in the film Mr. Saito, has that classic Bond villain ooze to him. Cilian Murphy, who did some considerably good work as the Batman Begins villain Scarecrow, is a little cramped in his role and doesn’t get to do too much, and even good old Sir Michael Caine shows up to give his respects. The top prize however goes to the team up that was Joseph Gordon Levitt and Leonardo Dicaprio. Levitt serves as the mind thief in training sidekick of sorts who scopes missions out, and proves his acting potential with a few charming and at the same time kick-butt moments sprinkled through the film. He plays so well as an apprentice to Leonardo Dicaprio’s character, in a performance that matches his gut wrenching role in this year’s Shutter Island. Dicaprio perfectly plays a smooth-talking, emotionally wrenched know it all leader who can be just as Bond-esque and action-heavy as he is a memorable mentor to Page’s character, and can even at times be far too experienced with the rules of the game. Just like  we had all hoped, one of Inception’s greatest strengths is its visual power Nolan pours into it. The film’s use of special effects when they help the story and build the world are spectacular (the building folding/cafe-exploding training scene is just as cool as you first thought), and every chance Nolan gets to take us to the dream world it’s an amazing trip, literally. Nolan as a literal take on the state of dreaming unlike other directors’ more fantastical interpretation like Michel Gondry’s spectacular dream film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, each world had a distinct feel to it, especially towards the end. Given the context and “rules” of the film’s universe, the smaller more real feeling of the dreams makes its own sense, and even works in it’s own way in that it can trick your mind so that it’s NOT obvious when a character is dreaming and something can go completely haywire, keeping you on the edge of your seat because you literally don’t know what could happen next. Whenever I think Nolan, I think of his policy of “practical when possible”, and once again in the shadow of the stunning truck flip in TDK the audience reaps the benefits of Nolan’s determination. Nolan creates a multitude of practical effects for action scenes in the film and they inspire a true sense of awe. Nolan has improved his sense of action since the Batman franchise and gets a better sense of shooting chases (including one gorgeously shot chase in Africa), gunfire, and the distinct personality of every bullet fired, but that’s only the beginning of it. Towards the end of the film, no spoilers to be mentioned, Nolan crafts a brilliant car chase, an unforgettable slow motion shot, and an unimaginably wide landscape for a huge scale wintry battle.  These shots and so many others not only further cement Nolan’s appreciation for action cinematography but also helps cement the case that practical is always better, so take that James Cameron. Christopher Nolan shot an entire Everest-style-shootout for real, and there’s not a single real tree in Avatar. There’s one much talked about scene involving Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character in a zero gravity hallway fight that’s being plastered on every trailer and TV spot and for good reason. It’s not just possibly Nolan’s best action piece, but it’s an action setup and execution that couldn’t be any better and stands as an all-time favorite of mine. Nolan also goes out of the way to shoot his film across the world. Even though most directors would opt out for a CGI backdrop to create an illusion of France, Nolan gives his film that old school feel by taking his characters to Tokyo, Africa, London, Paris, and Los Angeles. Nolan had the cajones to fly his team to China in TDK for a 5 minute scene that primarily took place indoors, and the same can be said for Inception, with a similar scene that doesn’t last near as long, but it sure as heck still looks great. If it comes to shooting a  two minute scene that takes place on a helicopter landing pad in Tokyo or if it means building a rotating hallway so that your actors and stunt doubles can really experience the changing gravity, real always beats fake, and Inception’s many stunts and visual flourishes will leave your mind both amazed and simultaneously puzzled as to how it happened, and that is the magic of film. Hans Zimmer composes the impeccable score for the film, and it perfectly accompanies the film’s most frenetic chase with quick guitar riffs, to following gargantuan moments of action with loud, bombastic beats and to the most sultry of piano keys to accentuate the many dramatic moments where these characters become real again, it’s something you have to hear to believe.

The score perfectly accompanies the visual world he creates and the tremendous story he tells. Maybe it’s because we didn’t know how the film was going to turn out, maybe it’s because we didn’t know what was going to happen in the film, maybe it’s because it’s something we’ve never seen before, or maybe because it’s knee-deep in a mythology so well thought out by Nolan himself, but Inception from a storytelling point of view is a dream come true. Nolan tops himself in a way he hasn’t before solely by the world he creates. Gotham’s Gotham, but I’m not even sure Inception takes place in modern times. It’s not Los Angeles or Paris, it’s Inception-world. The world Nolan most definitely hand crafts and sculpts is full of a deep sense of rules (What happens when you dream within a dream? What happens when you die in a dream?) that will take multiple viewings to really get. Too many times the world comes second, but with Nolan his world is as interesting as the characters. As I said earlier, Nolan’s characters in the film are some of his best, and the journey that they take in the film is, just as Nolan himself had stated as his “biggest challenge yet”, one of epic proportions. You really do feel like this truly is “their biggest mission yet”, and as the film goes on and on and character’s layers get peeled back, the stakes get higher and higher. By the end of the film you feel like everything’s on the line, there are certain story elements that have been revealed that definitely broaden your idea of the world, eventually culminating in a final climax that feels just as it should. The. Final. Showdown. One aspect some may have a problem with is Nolan’s pacing of the film. The halfway point sorta feels obvious as there’s a shift in tone, the first half of the film feeling sorta like a training montage and the second half being the execution of that training, however it wasn’t something I had a problem with, as it gave the film a really sleek Oceans Eleven/James Bond vibe, an aspect that I came to love about the movie. Everything from the movie, whether it’s the gunplay, the sharp dressed men (cue music), the attractiveness but at the same time the independence the women have, or the sharp dialogue between the characters all reaching for that “one last heist” it all feels like a Bond movie that got mixed with Eternal Sunshine. Personally, that’s someone I never knew I would have loved. It’s also sort of worth mentioning that, a lot like Nolan’s other films (I felt the same thing in the boat scene in TDK), once the film is pulling in for that third and final act Nolan’s feet start to drag on the floor when it comes to him telling his story but starting to wrap it up. Much like a lot of Nolan’s other works the first and second acts are brilliant, in the “third act curse” you may doubt for a brief ten minutes or so, but then that genius kicks back in and your left speechless (See The Prestige’s last 5 minutes to get what I’m saying) by the time the credits roll, which may be his genius point all along. Another thing that could be nagged about comes in the form of the character arcs. Leonardo Dicaprio has a really touching conflict with his own past that the film spends quite a bit of time on, and the whole story’s arc kinda centers around that considering he’s the main character. It all pays off and it cements an amazing character arc for Mr. Cobb, but the other characters aren’t so fleshed out. I had no trouble remembering distinct characteristics of Ariadne, Arthur, Mal, and Eames, but they don’t get close to the attention they deserve. In the film’s defense though, we should be grateful for the development we had considering the mythology was as well structured and perfectly executed as it was. Throughout the whole film Nolan’s guiding hand is really evident. Nolan writes his characters in a certain way, he builds their conflicts in a beautifully dramatic light so that once characters finally confront eachother it feels real. All the while he injects his own humor, his own dark but exuberantly cool style, and the moment where you can sense the story stepping back before a radical action scene to say “Now watch this…”

As I’m finally starting to close here, Inception is a film. It’s a film that you must see. It’s a film that’s already received critical and commercial success (at this moment it’s already made its budget back, thankfully proving the American audience isn’t brain dead). it’s a film that intelligently and boldly discovers a new frontier of the science fiction genre. It is possible to get lost in the film’s complex world, however compared to his other films, it’s a breeze. As long as you follow the first 30 minutes it’s basically spelled out for  you. Inception is a film that breaks ground, it’s something none of us have ever seen before, it’s awe-inspiring, heart-breaking, mind-melting, it’s just a miracle of a film. I could recommend it based on the action, the visuals, the performances, the score, heck even on the hallway fight scene alone. It’s a wonder this film exists, and it’s truly astonishing that it lives up to the potential it laid out. So go now, take the adventure with Cobb and his team, and as I stated earlier in this review, let’s take a step back before something truly amazing happens, and “now watch this…”

Okay, I know that review was super super long. However this would be the perfect time to try out a new feature for my long rambling excuses for film reviews-

THE GOOD-

  • Incredible Sense of Visuals, Including Dream Worlds, Action Stunts, and Locations
  • Great Cast of Diverse Characters and their Performances
  • Perfectly Written Story with Epic Stakes and Touching Character Arcs

THE BAD (?)-

  • To some, it can be too confusing at being too much too quick.
  • Even though it was for the greater good for the film, not many of the other characters get delved into like Leonardo Dicaprio’s character Mr. Cobb.

5 out of 5

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Predators Review

July 12, 2010 at 10:58 pm (Movies)

There are so many types of horror films in the genre today, in fact it’s one of the most wonderfully diverse and rich genres out there, even if it’s far from its glory days. From the jump out of your skin psychological far like this year’s remake of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, to the action-fueled testosterone horror films, and even to the new classics that will keep you up all night like Paranormal Activity, we are by no means in short supply of horror films. Nimrod Antal displays his take on the Predator film series, and his direction his it’s miss-steps, however he doesn’t forget how macho and cool this series can be. The original Schwarzenegger film was set in South America, however, this rendition of the series takes place on the Predators’ home turf, where the world’s most renowned mercenaries, banditos, yakuzas, bounty hunters, convicts, and soldiers have all been stranded on this alien planet to play a deadly game of hide and seek with the galaxy’s most dangerous hunter, the Predator. While this whole concept seems like a great launchpad for the movie, Director Antal and Writer Rodriquez have some serious trouble creatively executing the idea at times. The pacing of the film is pretty wonky when you compare the first and second act with the third, once we reach the climax about an hour into the film and some real progress starts to happen in ways of story development and actual character deaths (grisly and fun ones might I add), it feels like the film’s already starting to wind things down. The first half of the film feels like it’s all about these extremely unique people coming to terms in this interesting way on this planet and discovering things, and then the last half finally feels like “Hey let’s do something about it!” All of it’s enjoyable in a sense, but you just wish all of the film was as energetic as that last 40 minutes. When it comes to the ending of the film (no spoilers), whether it’s the rushed nature of that last 1/2 or the sheer hopelessness of the situation, the ending for the film completely rubbed me the wrong way. It ends on an unsatisfying note that feels far too satisfied with itself. However, in that same last 40 minutes and at a handful of other times in this film, the movie prides itself on being a callback to the 80s macho action movies with some moments that are undeniably cool. From Adrien Brody’s gravelly voice, to Yakuza/Predator swordfights, to some gnarly spine-snapping kills, this film is full of sweaty, testosterone-drenched, dual-wielding goodness. The film centers around its cast of characters that are slowly picked off. Adrien Brody proves once and for all he has some great range playing the mysterious “protagonist” who is seemingly an expert at survival. Alice Braga kicks butt in her part, Laurence Fishbourne is suitably Tim Robbins-esque in his very limited time on screen, and Topher Grace wasn’t as annoying as he could have been. One of my favorite stars of action, Danny Trejo, also does some brief work looking as awesome as ever dual-wielding sub machine guns. He AND his denim shirt scream American action.

When it comes to a film like Predators, you’re ultimately pitting these ruthless killers that are predators on our planet as prey on another planet, and it’s key that you build the idea that these guys are falling victim to a species that is, as Brody puts it, faster, stronger, and smarter than them. For the first few scenes in the film before we meet an actual predator the movie does do a good job of slowly building that tension as a slow burn. They get you to realize this crew is being watched by something really powerful and they could die at any moment, and through a bunch of quick scenes even before the main reveal of the predators that tension builds higher and higher. The movie does a great job of creating this sense of real hopelessness, that these characters are really trapped there and have no escape but death, but it sorta felt like the writer just sorta backed out of that idea and tried to find a cheap way for them to escape that instead of dive in deeper to that loss of hope notion. But once we actually do get to meet the predators, aside from a few key moments when they’re being introduced, I never was that afraid of them. I was rooting for the characters, I was hoping they got away, but whenever one of the “enemies” was on screen they just didn’t have that fear-striking presence like they could have. The film gets the job done in the category of “fear is reborn” like the poster says, but it doesn’t quite go thatextra mile. One thing the film does get an excellent job of doing is the design of the film. The costumes for all of the characters is some of the best I’ve seen this year, there’s a lot of detail that goes into each gun and every ammo belt. All of the Predators look great, they have their own classic tribal feel and are thankfully not computer generated, giving the monsters the very much needed and desired real and present feel thanks to all the practical effects Antal uses. Even the world that they inhabit looks gorgeous. There’s a scene looking out on the alien sunset that looks great, and many of the portions in the film that take place in ship corridors, in jungle canopies, or nighttime campfires have that feeling of care put into them. Predators is a film full of great ideas, in fact it’s parts are better than the whole. However, there are plenty of great principles going to work in this film, including a great cast and some serious macho flavor, that make this film a shot of adrenaline in the arm for a summer that seemed to be down for the count.

3 1/2 out of 5

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The Class of X-Men First Class

July 10, 2010 at 4:05 pm (Movies)

There’s been a ton of news and decisions that have been made concerning the next X-Men film, X-Men: First Class, and it’s interesting to see how this is playing out. There are smaller directors, more about wit and creativity than than bigger and louder and larger budgets (not that there’s anything wrong with those films), but as this film and the new Spiderman film goes underway with an 80 million dollar budget, It almost feels like we’re entering a new world of superhero films, and I for one am definitely excited for it (post coming soon). However, there’s been a lot of news about the development of this film, and here is the cast that has been chosen so far for the movie-

James McAvoy: Professor X-The actor who has done some great work in The Chronicles of Narnia and Wanted will be playing a younger version of the telekinetic doctor and leader of sorts of the X Men. McAvoy (Age 31) in my opinion is really talented and it’ll be super interested to see what he does with the part.

Michael Fassbender: Magneto-Having done work for 300 and Jonah Hex, Michael Fassbender (Age 33) gave up the role in the reboot of Spiderman playing a villain like the Lizard or The Scorpion to play Erik Lensherr in X-Men: First Class, who many know will eventually become Magneto. Fassbdender did good work in 300, I haven’t seen him in Jonah Hex (and apparently neither did a lot of other people) but it’s going to be inspiring to see him enter the shoes of Sir Ian McKellan’s mastery of the part.

Alice Eve: Emma Frost-The actress (age 28) that’s best known for her role in a number of smaller parts just got her name made in the recent comedy “She’s Out of My League”, and will be stepping into the role of the mutant Emma Frost, capable of telepathy and diamond-shapeshifting. The last time we saw Emma Frost was in a very brief spot in a sequence in the underrated fun romp “X Men Origins: Wolverine”.

Nicolas Hoult: Beast-Nicholas Hoult (Age 20), while not in a huge amount of films lately, is one of the most acclaimed young actors out there from his performance in “About A Boy”. He’s had parts in Nicolas Cage’s The Weather Man, this year’s action fest Clash of the Titans, and last year’s film A Single Man. The last time we saw Beast on the screen was excellently done in X3: The Last Stand by Kelsey Grammar, and considering the role of Hank McCoy is more of an emotionally poignant role, Hoult should be a good choice.

Caleb Landry Jones: Banshee-The character Banshee is one that a lot of X Men fans may be less familiar with, and the idea that they’re including him and other less known characters in this film is hopefully going to be one it’s strong points. Best known as the kid on the bike that helps Javier Bardem’s character get away at the end of No Country for Old Men, Caleb Landry Jones hasn’t had a whole lot of work other than in My Name is Earl and Friday Night Lights. Hopefully though, the 21 year old actor can bring some life to the smaller part.

Aaron Johnson: Cyclops- Cyclops was one of the main characters from the recent X-Men trilogy, and it looks like he’s going to be one of the main characters of this film. With the casting of Aaron Johnson (age 20), his really relate-able performance being one of the best parts of the recent comic film “Kick-Ass”, hopefully the actor can bring the same emotional depth and human nature he had in that film to this film to make Cyclops human once again just like they captured in the first and second films.

Lucas Till: Havok-Now we’re talking. Of course we all remember Lucas Till (age 20) from Taylor Swift’s music video “You Belong with Me”, but the actor has had many parts in films like Walk the Line as Johny Cash’s “saw victim”, Hannah Montana: The Movie, The Spy Next Door, and this year’s Battle: Los Angeles with Aaron Eckhart. Lucas Till in a sense is more of a teenage heartthrob, but he should bring some heart to as the mutant Havok, who has the ability to absorb cosmic energy.

Those are all of the CONFIRMED roles in the film, now to take a look at those who are being rumored or in talks/auditioning/likely to take the other parts.

Amber Heard: Mystique-Mystique was one of the most complicated and in my opinion well done in the original trilogy as a sidekick to Magneto, and it’s being told that Fox is approaching Amber Heard (Age 24) to play the part. Amber Heard is by far the most experienced on the list, having solid roles in Friday Night Lights, North Country, Alpha Dog, Never Back Down, The Pineapple Express (one of my favorite films), The Informers, Zombieland, The Stepfather, and the upcoming Nicolas Cage film Drive Angry. Personally, she’s not that bad looking either, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing her take up the blue paint.

Rosamund Pike: Moira MacTaggert-The London-born actress (age 31) has had a considerable history as a Bond girl in Die Another Day, Pride and Prejudice, the Oscar-milled An Education, and as a lead in last year’s interesting film The Surrogates. In the comics Moira serves a smaller part as a character that has great intelligence in the field of genetics and mutation, and I could definitely see the actress in the part.

Kevin Pennington: Multiple Man-Pennington (age 23) has had almost no roles aside from a part in this year’s upcoming NBC romantic show Love Bites, but does have a confirmed part in the Marvel mashup The Avengers and the upcoming Scream 4. Multiple Man’s power is pretty obvious, but who knows, maybe this guy’s first role in a major tentpole film could prove us all of his talent. If you think hard enough the last time we saw Multiple Man was briefly as one of Magneto’s henchmen in X3: The Last Stand.

Erica Hosseini: Willow-Surfer Erica Hosseini (age 23) obviously hasn’t had too much film experience, but has officially auditioned for the part of Willow, the mutant from the comics with the ability to shapeshift.

KEVIN BACON-Finally, over the past day or two there has been a giant uproar over the news that Kevin Bacon is in current negotiations with Fox to play the villain in the film. Bacon (awesome last name btw) has had a gargantuan filmmography over the past 30 years, including parts in Animal House, Friday the 13th, Footloose, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Tremors (An Excellent Horror Film), The River Wild (Of Which He Received a Best Supporting Actor Nomination), Hollow Man, and Frost/Nixon. Bacon can be a great actor and have a great presence whenever he’s playing the part of a villain, and could be an awesome anchor for this film.

Other Actors Rumored for Some Involvement in the Film Include-

  • Jack Huston, known for his role in the Twilight Series.
  • Eddie RedMayne, who has had several small parts including a role in the 2008 film The Other Boleyn Girl.
  • Stephen Dillane

Matthew Vaughn: Director-Of course, the director stands as one of, if not arguably the most important part of the film. The idea Vaugn is attached is much reason to celebrate as he definitely got the feel for how “young” people act in Kick-Ass (he’s like the Judd Apatow of superhero films), and he’s gotten a great idea of making imaginative filmmaking with 2007’s silent hit Stardust. He directed the film Layer Cake, and will be directing Kick Ass 2: Balls to the Wall in 2012. He also produced a number of films like Harry Brown and Snatch starring Brad Pitt. Vaughn isn’t the best choice for the director’s chair, but there aren’t many other directors that have the same superhero and creative vision that he does. Plus, this guy knows a thing or two about casting as evident by his awesome cast of Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Chloe Grace Muretz. Things could be worse cough cough Shyamalan.

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The Inception Begins

July 10, 2010 at 11:24 am (Movies)

I really don’t do these sorts of posts often, I don’t like being an exaggeratedly over-excited fanboy, but as this summer’s been going movie wise I’ve only been able to do this sort of “excitement-centered” post once before with Iron Man 2. Anyway, reviews have began trickling in for Christopher Nolan’s Inception, and thanks to their overwhelming praise for the film so far (I’m open to the idea that the reviews may nose dive, even though unlikely) my personal anticipation has gone through the roof, and I can only compare it to Nolan’s last film, The Dark Knight. Here are a few quotes from the past 16 reviews, putting the film at 100% at this present time with an average score of 9.3 out of 10.

“…Christopher Nolan is fast becoming synonymous with quality. So great is the man’s ability, so great is his understanding of cinema, that watching him develop on screen has been an absolute pleasure…”-Martin Roberts, Fan in the Fire-5/5

“…Inception is an unusual blockbuster, driven by ideas rather than CGI action, but also excessive and overwrought in the last hour…”-Emmanuel Levy, A-

“…With physics-defying, thunderous action, heart-wringing emotion and an astonishing performance from DiCaprio, Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country…”-Nev Pierce, Empire Magazine-5/5

“…Nolan’s most personal and daring film, “Inception” contains some of Nolan’s most innovative ideas since “Memento.” It’s also his most successful movie in terms of being able to fully realize every nuance of such a rich concept…”-Edward Douglas, ComingSoon-9.5/10

“…Inception could very well be Nolan’s masterpiece.”-Jim Vejvoda, IGN-10/10

“…Inception doesn’t just dream bigger than most movies even dare, but it leaves the audience feeling inspired to do the same…”-Katey Rich, CinemaBlend-4.5/5

“…There are times in Christopher Nolan’s somnolent crime caper where you’ll find yourself recognizing moments from your own subconscious on the screen, to a thrilling, frightening and ultimately inspiring effect…”-Jordan Hoffman, UGO-A

“…I expected a lot,but still walked out hypnotized. Here’s a movie that’s 3 steps ahead of you, on 4 different levels, at 5 blinding speeds. Best of 2010 thus far…”-Steven Snyder, Techland-4/4

“…A wildly entertaining and dazzling mind-trip not to be missed. Kubrick would have been proud….”-Pete Hammond, BoxOffice Magazine-5/5

“…If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood’s most inventive dreamers, given the evidence of his commandingly clever Inception…”-Justin Chang, Variety

“…A devilishly complicated, fiendishly enjoyable sci-fi voyage across a dreamscape that is thoroughly compelling.”-Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter

…Inception is a masterpiece. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels like a miraclenception creates a complete sense of immersion in another world. The screen before you is just another layer of the dream. I don’t even know what’s the most remarkable aspect of Inception. It’s huge-budget filmmaking harnessed to tell a personal story that’s smart and uncompromising. That’s certainly remarkable in this age of Hollywood. It’s a production that brought its cameras to six countries, never allowing a backlot to do when a shot could be achieved in a real location. That’s starting to feel unheard of in this day and age. It’s a movie where Christopher Nolan manages to bring together all of his obsessions and quirks, where his personal issues are the life and death issues at the center of the story, and where he has managed to turn every single one of his directorial weaknesses into massive strengths. That, perhaps, is the truest miracle – the auteur finally completed before our eyes…”Devin Faraci, CHUD-10/10

“…A stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I’ve seen in years….”-Todd Gilchrist, Cinematical

“…Inception is an exhilarating cinematic experience that suggests there is still room, even in the blockbuster world, for big ideas and dangerous emotions, and that may be the single most thrilling thing about it…”-Drew McWeeny, HitFix

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The Last Airbender Review

July 2, 2010 at 11:00 pm (Movies)

After seeing The Last Airbender, I can say in a completely non-biased, non-fanboy way that M. Night Shyamalan is a complete hack. That’s not because it’s popular or fun to hate Shyamalan, not because his choice of projects, but due to his own style (if you can call it that) of film making. And by style of film making, I’m referring to his blatant disregard for character development, the mess he calls action choreography, and dialogue so laughable it must have been supervised by George Lucas. All of these things are glaringly present in his new film, The Last Airbender, the biggest “I Told You So” of this summer movie season. The story (or from what I made out) takes place in a world full of different nations that have different “bending” abilities-fire, water, earth, air. Years ago there was an avatar, someone who had control of all four elements, and could bring peace to the world. 100 years had passed, and after there was no sign of the avatar, two children-Sokka and Katara-discover the avatar, only to find he’s a kid with no mastery of any of the elements aside from air. The fire nation (and more specifically it’s Prince, Zuko) are out to get the avatar so they can continue their domination, meanwhile the avatar and his friends are out to help him master the art of waterbending (in the other two books that will never be made to film he learns earth bending and fire bending).

Let me for starters say that going into this film, I’ve only seen roughly 3 episodes of the series. I enjoyed what I saw of it, but I never appreciated it on the level many other people do. So I’m not grading this film based on being an adaptation mainly, but as what it is, a film. Shyamalan has never been known for effective storytelling, and that tradition carries on into The Last Airbender. The film’s been compared to a cliffnotes version of the series, and nothing could come closer to the truth. The scenes in the film feel incredibly rushed, moving rapidly from exposition to quick-cut fight scenes, often times costing characters’ some serious moments that were required for the audience to connect. In the first 10 minutes of the film we’re moved quickly from blatant narration of the two supporting characters’ backstory to the main protagonist Aang, and before long we’re into the main adventure. Logic is seemingly absent, major decisions are made in seconds without second thought, relationships are more shallow than a pool with a giant plastic turtle, and we’re clumsily moved from set piece to set piece without any sort of narrative structure or support. By the end of the film we’re still being given reasons to care for the characters, and there’s a romance there that’s insulting by how little sense it makes to the audience. Thanks to a truly crappy string of story elements, all the “good” elements of the film falter on a weak foundation. Everything feels as fake as the effects that are so poorly created for the film. You could feel where they shot these scenes as individual episodes of the series, cutting it up into pieces, and then stitching it all together. In theory that’s fine, but there’s no cohesive structure there, and the end product is disorienting and simply messy. By the ending climax that we should all really be excited for, it comes across as dull, just like another scene, and there’s a real problem with that. There are some serious lapses in logic in this film, there were tons that had me in stitches of laughter. “Why doesn’t he just stab the other fish?”-“Sure, leave the guy that’s the main figure of this war that this entire film hinges on, unprotected!” By the time we reached the final 20 minutes, I was begging to leave the theater, mainly because I wasn’t witnessing the culmination of a story, but the last clumsy piece that was following a bunch of other clumsy pieces.

One of the best parts of the show (and one of the aspects of the film I was relying on) was the action scenes of the film. To his credit, he doesn’t completely ruin them, but they still stand along the rest of the components of the film as a tragic missed opportunity. The action scenes are really great in concept, and there is a time or two when they manage to capture the imagination of the idea of bending elements in combat (there’s a shot of a water master taking on a couple of guys that lasts for a few seconds that really surprised me), but more times than not you get the sense they just don’t know what to do with the scene. The scenes of action are often too quick, really shot in a poor sense of location, or simply come down to really awkward coordination. Shyamalan treats the act of bending elements like it’s a display sport, and has a lot of the characters practicing it in montages and other scenes to just look pretty, and boy does he take his time with it. The dramatic music swells, the camera pans in, and it just comes off as goofy. During the battle scenes, the few times characters are using their bending skills and they’re not fighting hand to hand or sword to sword (why would you use a knife or sword when you can shoot fire out of your hand) the bending draws way too much attention to itself and is played off too dramatically to be interesting. The characters take turns in battle, the attacks take forever, and it’s too drawn out to be interesting in practice, and by the time we’ve gotten through 2/3 tricks that looked sorta cool, the fight’s over with. I’ve said this a billion times before, but a film hinges on the performance of it’s actors. Unfortunately for The Last Airbender, these hinges are extremely rusted. Noah Ringer is without a doubt a talented martial artist, but he comes off so uncomfortable in the role, and is insufferably bland in his role when he’s leading the events of the entire film. Nicola Peltz and jason Rathbone do absolutely nothing in their parts for the film, and are incredibly dull and horrificly bad actors throughout the 1 1/2 hour film. Shaun Toub does do some of the best work in the film by far as Iroh, and Dev Patel does the best he can with what the terrifyingly bad script (penned by the director himself) gives him. The most bizarre casting choice to me was the choice of casting a regular on the Comedy Central “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” regular Aasif Mandvi as one of the main villains. He executes his role with a slimy cheesiness that’s really not intended for the role, and throughout the entire film I couldn’t help but laugh at him for all the wrong reasons. The film’s dialogue thanks to Shyamalan’s script is just awful, creating dialogue so unnatural it makes me wish George Lucas was back in the business to write another prequel for Star Wars. As one of the bright spots of the film, the set and costume design stood out to me as I usually have a respective eye for that sort of thing. The sets and multiple real locations had a nice feel for me (although that last location for the climax was terrible) and the many costumes by the different tribes seemed authentic. Now back to being angry at how bad this film is. As a final note, the 3D in the film, in the running trend of post-conversion, is completely unnecessary and not even utilized throughout the film, which is just another nail in the coffin for seeing this film.

In conclusion, noone on the planet should see this film. If you are by some reason an M. Night Shyamalan fan, than you may derive some pleasure from this film. As an adaptation Shyamalan, being Shyamalan, does some incredibly ridiculous things to the characters and continuity that will ensure nerd rage, and to anyone fresh to the series a disjointed effort at storytelling will definitely turn you off from it. When it comes down to it, it’s just a mess of a film. The saddest part is, at the base, at this film’s core, there’s an incredible story just waiting to be told with heart. However, that film is buried in thick layers of terrible efforts at giving us a cohesive tale, a thin sheet of bad acting, a good coat of a bad script, and mounds of poorly executed action.

1 1/2 out of 5

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