Jun 29, 2013

"Elbow rocket! Now!" - new "Pacific Rim" clip

"Are you ready to rrrrrrumbllllllllleeee?"

Grab the kids, pack a lunch and head down to the dockside cause it's giant monster vs giant robot with no holds barred! In this latest clip from Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" the Jaegermeisters unveil the dreaded "elbow rocket". But wait! The Kaiju counters with the always painful "crane bat"!

"Pacific Rim" opens in a scant 2 weeks, on July 12th.

That's a wrap! Ian McKellen's last day as Gandalf

Ian McKellen began his Gandalfian odyssey in the late 90's when Bill Clinton was President and yesterday it finally came to an end with his last official day of shooting on "The Hobbit" set. Director Peter Jackson has commemorated the occasion by releasing the photo you see at left and the following caption: "Seconds ago we finished our last shot with Gandalf. The end of an incredible adventure that began in 1999. I'm feeling very sad right now.

There are those who are of the opinion that McKellen may return at some point to play Middle Earth's premiere defender yet again but with the rights to Tolkien's remaining works closely guarded by his heirs (who it must be said have never been particularly thrilled with Jackson's cinematic interpretations) it seems more than a little likely that "The Hobbit" trilogy is the end of the filmic line for McKellen-as-Gandalf. (sniff!)

Jun 28, 2013

"Terminator 5" no more: Franchise reboot instead

It's official: the powers that be have formally given up on the existing Terminator timeline and have announced they will go back to the beginning with a complete reboot. To me this is more than a little disappointing as I felt the most recent installment "Terminator Salvation" had put the franchise back on solid footing after the fairly abysmal "Rise of the Machines". But the new owners of the property apparently felt they needed to start fresh in order to maximize their ROI before rights revert back to James Cameron a few years down the line.

While it's not mentioned in the official announcement below it's also common knowledge that Paramount will be bringing back Ahnuld for the reboot though how that's going to work is anyone's guess at this point.

Here's the official press release from Paramount:

Skydance Productions, Annapurna Pictures and Paramount Pictures have jointly announced they will partner on a rebooted “TERMINATOR” movie, to be released by Paramount Pictures on June 26, 2015. 

The first in a stand-alone trilogy, “TERMINATOR” will be produced by Megan Ellison of Annapurna and David Ellison of Skydance. Dana Goldberg and Paul Schwake of Skydance will serve as executive producers. Laeta Kalorgridis (“Avatar,” “Shutter Island”) and Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”) are attached to write the screenplay. 

Launched in 1984 with star Arnold Schwarzenegger as the title character, “TERMINATOR” spanned 3 subsequent films, which have earned over $1 billion at the worldwide box office. 

David Ellison most recently executive produced, along with his partners at Paramount, “World War Z,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” and “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”. A 5th installment of in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise is in active development, along with a 3rd film in the “G.I. Joe” franchise, among other films. 

Megan Ellison most recently produced the Academy Award®-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Master” and executive produced “Spring Breakers” via her Annapurna Pictures banner and has David O. Russell’s “American Hustle,” Spike Jonze’s “Her,” and Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” set for release later this year.

Ahnuld and Sly in first trailer for "Escape Plan"

Formerly known as "The Tomb", "Escape Plan" has Sly playing a professional breaker-outer. His job is to escape from prisons and in so doing provide prison designers with info on how to make their gladiator academies more secure. He's ultimately cast into the newest joint on the block where apparently all his previous recommendations have been put into practice and he's not a happy camper. Stuck in this plastic mega-max horror he befriends Ahnuld and the two decide to use all the dusty old testosterone/geritol laced dialogue they can muster to break on through to the other side (sorry Jim). I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that they succeed.

On the downside this kind of manly-men-take-on-the-girly-world stuff started getting tired about 20 years ago. On the upside the production values look reasonably high and at least Sly and Co are keeping film crews busy.

"Escape Plan" is scheduled to hit theaters October 18th.

Jun 27, 2013

Off the beaten track trailer of the day - "Hell Baby"

It's not smart to ignore the legend. It's not wise to dismiss superstition. It's not at all advisable to stick around when da "b*tches be trippin!!!" cause it can only mean one thing: hell baby is on the way. "Yikes."

"Hell Baby" is due for release this September.

Jun 26, 2013

Peter Jackson talks about "An Unexpected Journey" extended DVD

Probably the most played DVDs in my collection are the extended versions of "The Lord of the Rings" movies. I've loved them from the day they were released and still watch them a few times a year. Well now Peter Jackson has finally broached the subject of the extended version DVD for the first of his Hobbit films in a conversation with Empire.

Regarding just what juicy unseen bits might be included in the extended version Jackson says: "You are going to get some serious Dwarvish disrespect of the elves at Rivendell". While his co-writer Philippa Boyens states: "You are going to get more of Hobbiton... We always wanted to wend our way through Hobbiton, but in the end Bilbo has to run out of the door." Jackson also adds: "We are putting things in the extended cut that are going to play straight into the second film... like this character Girion, who is defending Dale using black arrows against Smaug. And the black arrows play a part in an ongoing story, for they are the one thing that can pierce the dragon's hide."

Sounds good to me. We should be seeing the extended version of AUJ sometime in November so keep your eyes open. 

Jun 25, 2013

New trailer for "Pacific Rim"

Stately, grand, dramatic, ennobling, inspirational, you listen to Idris Elba's call to arms then slowly but determinedly turn to face threat with chest out, eyes focused and mind clear. It matters not the odds, nor the nature of the enemy. Because today we are cancelling the apocalypse!!!! (Is it July 12th yet?)

The top 10 movies for the weekend of June 21 - June 23, 2013

1) Monsters University $82.4 Million
2) World War Z $66.4 Million
3) Man of Steel $41.2 Million
4) This is the End $13.2 Million
5) Now You See Me $7.8 Million
6) Fast & Furious 6 $4.9 Million
7) The Purge $3.5 Million
8) The Internship $3.4 Million
9) Star Trek Into Darkness $3.1 Million
10) Iron Man 3 $2.2 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Pixar's "Brave" which opened in the top spot with $66.3 million in ticket sales.

(Green indicates new release)

Jun 22, 2013

Off the beaten track trailer of the day - "Zombie Shark"

Don't go near the shark tank! For god's sake don't go near the shark tank!!!!

He's a zombie. He's a shark. Maybe most surprising of all he climbs walls and hides in the bushes! Ultimately though he does what any self-respecting zombie/shark would do: he heads for the shark tank next to that PYT's lawn chair and reels her in with some rhythmic splashing.

Jun 21, 2013

The power of editing: a case study

It's Saturday. You've got some extra time on your hands. Take 5 minutes or so and check out the video below. In it 2 cuts of the same film are compared side by side to reveal just how much a film's entire look and feel can be altered in the editing room. The comparison is presented under the banner "What is Neo-realism?" and that's fine because it does an excellent job laying bare the particulars of that genre, but it could just as easily be titled "What is Editing?"

The film being dissected is a 1950s bittersweet romance by Vittorio De Sica originally entitled "Terminal Station". In De Sica's original cut on the left care is taken to stress that the principal characters are players on the larger human stage. It's the European way, the more "artistic" mindset if you will: let the shot linger, pay homage to those other bodies taking up screen space. By comparison the cut on the right was done by American studio honcho David O. Selznick (who renamed the film with the much more moralistic title "Indiscretion of an American Wife") and his agenda is entirely different. Extras? Nobody's paying to see a bunch of extras! Why hold that shot when you could cut it in half and still get the message across that they walked through the restaurant? It's the "time is money" ethos. A shorter film can play more times in a day and bring in more $$$$.

Selznick was of the opinion that Americans were not only more judgmental than Europeans but that they went to the movies to be 'entertained' not 'enlightened' and subsequently they wanted to see stars and exotic locales while De Sica was of the opinion that art takes time and audience members reasons for going to the movies were as varied as the audience members themselves.

"Right" is a matter of opinion in this case but I'm thrilled someone took the time to put this piece together and would love to see many more like it. Enjoy.

"Machete Kills" release pushed back

What's up with Senor Rodriguez? A few days ago it was announced that his long-awaited "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" was being pushed back until next year and now comes word that his "Machete" sequel - the imaginatively titled "Machete Kills" - is being pushed back from September 13th to October 4th. At least its in the same calendar year. No one but Rodriguez seems to know exactly what is going and he's not talking. At least not right now anyway.

Jun 20, 2013

James Gandolfini: September 18, 1961 - June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini has passed away while on holiday in Italy his agent confirmed today. Early reports were that Mr Gandolfini suffered a heart attack, though no one in his inner circle is commenting on the cause of death at this time. Gandolfini was only 51 years old and his passing comes as a total shock to those around him. He had several films in various stages of production and was scheduled to return to HBO in the upcoming season with a new dramatic series "Criminal Justice" though the state of that project is now uncertain.

James Gandolfini made his big screen debut in Sidney Lumet's "A Stranger Among Us" in 1992. Parts in several other high profile projects followed. He appeared in "Get Shorty", "A Civil Action" and "True Romance" a turn that got the attention of David Chase who was casting for his upcoming (at the time) HBO gangster drama "The Sopranos". Gandolfini of course got the part and the rest is American cultural history as he and his cast mates went on to forge on the most unforgettable TV shows ever. After the show ended in 2007 with the famous cut to black Gandolfini didn't simply rest on his residual checks. In the past year alone he appeared in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" took a comedic spin in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and appeared opposite Brad Pitt in "Killing Them Softly".

James Gandolfini was one of the great actors of his time; on par with the likes of Gary Oldman. While his unconventional looks limited the type and number of roles that came his way he poured himself into the roles he got and left everything on the screen. The late Tony Scott perhaps summed up Gandolfini best when he commented that he was "a unique combination of charming and dangerous." That he should be struck down at what is essentially the pinnacle of his career is tragic and disheartening. That his passing should leave his baby girl to grow up without her father is the saddest part of the entire sad affair.

Here he is in his iconic role as Tony Soprano. Lots of cursing and violence here so don't get your knickers in a twist.

Jun 19, 2013

"Prometheus 2" may have a writer

The sequel to the prequel has been lurching about in the development pipeline in search of just about everything. I couldn't imagine a second film without Ridley Scott in the big chair but not even that has been settled. About the only things that have been agreed upon at this stage are that there will be a P2 and that Damon Lindelof won't be writing it (thank the maker). But just who would be taking on the task of righting the good ship Prometheus has been anyone's guess; until now. The Wrap is reporting that 20th Century Fox is ready to hitch their wagon to Jack Paglen ("Transcendence") in the hopes the newcomer will be able to pull a narrative rabbit out of his hat. It's a big risk resting cinematic redemption on the shoulders of such an unknown quantity but one things for sure: he won't have to do much to one-up the last script.

Jun 18, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of June 14 - June 16, 2013

1) Man of Steel $116.6 Million
2) This is the End $20.7 Million
3) Now You See Me $11 Million
4) Fast & Furious 6 $9.5 Million
5) The Purge $8.3 Million
6) The Internship $7.1 Million
7) Epic $6.28 Million
8) Star Trek Into Darkness $6.25 Million
9) After Earth $4 Million
10) Iron Man 3 $2.9 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Paramount's "Madagascar 3" which retained the top spot for a second week with a $34 million haul.

(Green indicates new release)

Jun 17, 2013

First trailer for "The Wolf of Wall Street" with Leonardo DiCaprio

Martin Scorsese is back! Back in the director's chair, back with Leo, back in NYC! The thing that impresses me most about this trailer is that DiCaprio actually seems to be having fun. Well alright!

"The Wolf of Wall Street" opens November 15th.

Off the beaten track trailer of the day - "009-1"

The full name of this, uh, movie is actually the wonderfully meaningless "009-1 The End of the Beginning" and here's the equally meaningless blurb: "The story is set in a world where the Cold War never ended, and the solitary cyborg agent 009-1 operates in the violent skirmishes waged between the two factions. The live-action film will recreate not only the manga's gun battles, but also 009-1's signature breast guns."

That's great (especially the breast guns and the fact that this cyborg seems more than a little bi-curious), but the Cold War was a standoff between the USSR and the US, not between different factions of the Japanese underworld but hey, I'm quibbling.  Enjoy the mindless mayhem.

Jun 15, 2013

Trailer for "Killing Season" with John Travolta and Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro and John Travolta star as veterans from opposite sides of the Balkan Wars who have a hard time burying the hatchet, unless it's in the other's back. De Niro's character is a hunter (a deer hunter?) and Travolta's character tracks him down in the woods and seemingly befriends him, before dropping the hammer. While the premise is a bit thin the scenery looks spectacular and might even be enough to distract me from that C Everett Koop thing JT's got goin' on.

"Killing Season" opens July 12, right up against "Pacific Rim". Good luck with that.

Jun 14, 2013

"Man of Steel" set to break June opening record

As of today the record for a June opening weekend is held by "Toy Story 3" which debuted in 2010 to just over $110 million. Deadline is now predicting a $124 million weekend which, when added to Thursday night screening totals would give the film $134 million +/- through Sunday night. Not bad considering Warners had been predicting $80 (though to be sure that figure was meant to keep your expectations in check).

"Man of Steel" - 2013 - movie review

About 10 minutes into "Man of Steel" I've pretty much forgotten that this is a Superman movie. Instead I'm completely enthralled by Russel Crowe's Jor-El and his fight to save his planet, which ultimately becomes his fight to save his son's future. This is every father's story arc after all. You fight to build a world for your family to inhabit and, if you're lucky enough to live to be a crusty old bastard, you fight to preserve something of that world to pass on to your kids. Jor-El isn't exactly a crusty old bastard but the idea is the same.

This opening is visually rich, wonderfully acted and, as I said, almost made me forget what I had come to the theater to see in the first place, which already in my book placed "Man of Steel" head and shoulders above any other Superman movie I've ever seen, most of which have had me yawning before the popcorn ran out.

We leave Krypton with Jor-El's son Kal-El and follow him to his new home where dad hopes he can live with purpose. Kal-El has taken with him (though he doesn't know it) the Krypton codex. One of those comic book thingys that possesses some form of awesome power and which Krypton's Mussolini wannabe General Zod (Michael Shannon) needs to implement his vision of a better future for his kind. In the wake of Krypton's destruction Zod makes it his mission in life to reclaim the codex, which means that since Kal-El has it, we'll be seeing Zod again.

Once the proceedings land on earth we're in exposition city, as is to be expected with any origin story. Kal-El of course is found and raised on the Kansas farm of Johnathan and Martha Kent. Clark (as his adopted parents call him) suspects pretty early on that he's different from the other kids and it's left to the elder Kent to help him come to grips with his alien nature. Kevin Costner gives a wonderfully heartfelt performance as a loving but wary adoptive father who has little to offer the superbeing in his midst other than common sense and applied wisdom. Clarks childhood with the Kents is presented in flashback as Clark: The Young Man wanders the planet in search of himself, never staying long in one place, never setting down roots. This take on Kal-El as a kind of wandering alien monk is a welcome change from the "Superboy goes to the big city to save humanity" goody-2-shoes take on Superman we've become unfortunately accustomed to. This Kal-El is an outsider and none too thrilled about it.

His "activities" attract the attention of one Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who sets about to uncover the mystery Kal-El has become. While there's nothing here that feels superfluous it has to be said that all the time put in to re-tooling Clark's early years (including the origins of his relationship to Lois) to fit the moodier take does begin to weigh a bit on "Man of Steel" late in the 2nd act. Luckily Clark makes the mistake of paying a visit to ye-olde Fortress of Solitude and in the process alerts one very angry and vengeful General Zod to his presence. Happily Zod arrives just when you're beginning to think that first act was a fluke and when he does "Man of Steel" suddenly takes flight.

From an action and effects perspective the third act is occassionally stunning. Director Zack Snyder has left every penny of his massive budget on the screen. There's nothing antiseptic or all-American about the conflicts here either. Zod wants Kal-El and will destroy (as in Kill With Malice) anything that gets in his way. Superman here is more a force of nature than a good guy who can fly and like a force of nature his actions lead to lots of death and destruction. Unusual for a Superman movie to say the least but not unwelcome. Not that I'm drunk with blood lust but it's about time somebody got under all those goofy smiles and primary colors and showed some consequences along with the actions.

Gripes: Besides the second act seeming maybe a bit too long my other major gripe was the fact that there's more chemistry between oil and water than there is between Henry Cavill and Amy Adams here. It's not Cavill's fault. He's excellent start to finish and manages to convey the difficult balancing act Kal-El must pull off between the moral absolutes he's supposed to stand for and the existential crisis he's living on daily basis. I can't really say Adams is to blame either. She does a decent job with the part. It just seems like they didn't put these two in the same room together to see how they'd react to each other before casting them. One more thing is certain about "Man of Steel": it's going to piss off a lot of purists. While I welcome the grittier portrayal here there are legions of lifelong Superman fans who are Superman fans precisely because of the holier-than-thou persona that's been his stock and trade. That guy has left the building. Maybe for good. This new one sweats and broods and I'm pretty sure entertains some pretty unpure thoughts about Lois from time to time and as such he's a Superman I can finally relate to. Thank you Zack.

Verdict: ★★★★

New trailer for "Elysium"

This new trailer reveals a much bigger film than the first trailer hinted at and also goes more into what's motivating Matt Damon's character to take on the orbiting cruise ship "Elysium" - the place the rich have taken refuge high above the earth in the year 2154.

"Elysium" opens August 9th.

Jun 13, 2013

First trailer for "300: Rise of an Empire"

I don't know if I've ever seen a full length trailer that was almost completely slo-motion as is the case with this first trailer for the "300" sequel. That said, the golden "days-of-yore" look is pretty cool and on balance it looks like it'll be a decent fantasy film. Check it out.

"300: Rise of an Empire" opens March 2014.

Jun 12, 2013

It's here! "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" trailer

I liked the first of Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" films. It was a good film. Not a great film but a good one. This, on the other hand, looks absolutely epic and has given me something to truly look forward to for when those long dark days of December descend.

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" opens wide December 13th.

Jun 11, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of June 7 - June 9, 2013

1) The Purge $34 Million
2) Fast and Furious 6 $19.6 Million
3) Now You See Me $19 Million
4) The Internship $17.3 Million
5) Epic $11.8 Million
6) Star Trek Into Darkness $11.4 Million
7) After Earth $10.7 Million
8) The Hangover Part III $7.3 Million
9) Iron Man 3 $5.7 Million
10) The Great Gatsby $4.2 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Paramount's "Madagascar 3" which debuted in the top spot with a $60.3 million haul.

(Green indicates new release)

Jun 10, 2013

New TV spot for "Pacific Rim"

I don't want to jinx Del Toro's film or anything but it looks like the giant monster movie I've been waiting my entire life for. Will it be? Only time will tell but my fingers are firmly crossed.

July 12th in theaters everywhere.

Promo poster for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

With the first trailer due in under 48 hours Peter Jackson and Co have released this dee-lux poster for the middle film in their Hobbit trilogy to set the stage and get tongues wagging. It's pretty cool looking with that whole depth of field thing going on and Bilbo hangin' in the middle-ground staring into the Lonely Mountain at all that gold. (I'd be careful before I got any closer if I were him.)

Jun 8, 2013

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" trailer will be here in 3 days

The first trailer for Peter Jackson's second installment in his Hobbit trilogy will reportedly debut online June 12 and then be attached to another Warner's product "Man of Steel" set to debut this coming Friday. It'll be interesting to see what Jackson has in store for part II. I for one am anxious to see if Orlando Bloom makes an appearance in the trailer.

"They're taking the who to where?"

"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" is due in theaters December 17th.

Off the beaten track trailer of the day - "Cho Lon"

I'm not a huge fan of endless flying kicks or machete fights but the censors in Vietnam have banned this film so it's good enough for me. Because censors in Vietnam have the same kind of clout as the ones in Communist China banning this film in Vietnam means it's effectively banned worldwide. That's because Vietnamese law forbids films that have been banned domestically from being exported. So here's our Sunday middle finger to all censors foreign and domestic.

Jun 7, 2013

Final (?) trailer for "Man of Steel"

With release just a week away logic would indicate this will be the final trailer for Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel". It certainly pushes the pedal to the metal and goes all-in with the action. Interesting that they chose to include more Russell Crowe (Jor-El) in this one than in any of the previous trailers and still no sign of Snyder's trademark slow-it-down-speed-it-up photography. Will the film play it straight in that regard? We'll see.

"Man of Steel" opens June 14th.

Jun 6, 2013

First trailer for "Paranoia"

Liam Hemsworth is caught between moguls Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman in this tale of corporate espionage gone bad. Robert Luketic directs.

The blurb: An entry-level employee at a powerful corporation finds himself occupying a corner office, but at a dangerous price: he must spy on his boss's old mentor to secure for him a multi-billion dollar advantage.

"Paranoia" opens August 16th.

Jun 5, 2013

New TV spot for "World War Z"

It's global chaos as cockroach-zombies maraud through the streets of the world's great cities in this new, compact TV spot for WWZ. It also includes a couple of previously unseen snippets.

"World War Z" starring Brad Pitt opens June 21st

Trailer for "The Family" with Robert DeNiro

For the better part of a decade De Niro's been taking whatever comes across his desk in order to finance his plans for real estate hegemony in lower Manhattan. Well, finally it seems he's found a project that both he and his audience can embrace. "The Family" is Luc Besson's very dark comedy about a mobster's brood being shuffled around in the WPP and having, let's say, a difficult time adjusting. Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer also star.

"The Family" opens September 20th.

Jun 4, 2013

Hey honey is that Brad Pitt over there?

Say what you will about Mr Jolie but he's a guy who's standing by his picture. The star has taken to popping up at preview screenings of his new wanna-be blockbuster "World War Z" to answer fan questions and just generally get people talkin' about the film. Here he is in London a few days ago...

"World War Z" opens June 21st.

The top 10 movies for the weekend of May 31 - June 2, 2013

1) Fast and Furious 6 $35.1 Million
2) Now You See Me $29.2 Million
3) After Earth $27.5 Million
4) Star Trek Into Darkness $16.7 Million
5) Epic $16.6 Million
6) The Hangover Part III $16.3 Million
7) Iron Man 3 $8.4 Million
8) The Great Gatsby $6.5 Million
9) Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani $1.5 Million
10) Mud $1.2 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Universal's "Snow White and the Huntsman" which debuted in the top spot with a $56.2 million haul.

(Green indicates new release)

Jun 3, 2013

New Autobots hit the road in Monument Valley

It would seem that all the talk about "Transformers 4" going in a radically different direction than it's predecessors may be true, at least from a design standpoint. These photos show the new group of autobot vehicles parading for the camera during a recent shoot in Monument Valley. Of all the changes maybe the most striking is the one that will apparently have Bumblebee a modified 1967 Camaro (with what can only be characterized as a drab paint job) rather than the cutting edge 5th generation Camaro franchise fans have come to know and love. Also on tap are a Bugatti and a C7 Corvette.

New Bumblebee (left)

New Optimus Prime

The new crew (C7 Corvette left)

Ridley Scott's choice to pen "Blade Runner" sequel is...

"You've got to be kidding..."
Michael Green? Really? You're going to entrust the sequel to one of the greatest motion pictures in history to the guy that wrote the incredibly underwhelming "Green Lantern"? Really? The story via thewrap states that nothing has been signed yet and I, for one, hope Scott has a change of heart before pen hits paper. All of the major problems with Scott's "Alien" prequel "Prometheus" were script related and one would hope that an intelligent guy like Ridley Scott would learn from his mistakes and do things right this time around. Wasn't it just last summer when original scribe Hampton Fancher was said to be in talks to rejoin Scott for "Blade Runner 2". What happened? How did we get from Fancher to Green? Is (gulp!) Damon Lindelof next?

I don't like where this is going one tiny bit.