Jul 31, 2013

Off the beaten track trailer of the day: "Almost Human"

Mark disappeared in a flash of blue light, but now he's back and it seems the blue light therapy has had a somewhat negative effect on his ability to relate to other people.

Mark will be working out his issues at the Toronto International Film Festival in the near future.

Jul 30, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of July 26 - July 28, 2013

1) The Wolverine $53.1 Million
2) The Conjuring $22.2 Million
3) Despicable Me 2 $16.4 Million
4) Turbo $13.7 Million
5) Grown Ups 2 $11.6 Million
6) Red 2 $9.3 Million
7) Pacific Rim $7.7 Million
8) The Heat $6.9 Million
9) R.I.P.D. $6 Million
10) Fruitvale Station $4.5 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Warner Brother's "The Dark Knight Rises" which held on to the top spot for a second week with $62.1 million in box office receipts.

(Green indicates new release)

Jul 26, 2013

47 Ronin

Keanu Reeves if finally back on the big screen with this adaptation of the myth of the 47 Ronin. Lots of slo-mo posing and posturing wrapped in oodles of pseudo-historical-heaviosity. Sign me up.

"47 Ronin" is due in theaters on Christmas Day.

Jul 23, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of July 19 - July 21, 2013

1) The Conjuring $41.8 Million
2) Despicable Me 2 $24.9 Million
3) Turbo $21.3 Million
4) Grown Ups 2 $19.8 Million
5) Red 2 $18 Million
6) Pacific Rim $16 Million
7) R.I.P.D. $12.6 Million
8) The Heat $9.3 Million
9) World War Z $5.19 Million
10) Monsters University $5.12 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Warner Brother's "The Dark Knight Rises" which opened in the top spot with an impressive $160.8 million in box office receipts.

(Green indicates new release)

Jul 21, 2013

Marvel's Comic-Con announcement leaves me with questions

I'm going to drop in a spoiler alert here but if you haven't seen "The Avengers" by now I don't know what the hell you're waiting for. So here goes: SPOILER ALERT: You have been warned.

At the end of "The Avengers" there was a neat little ditty that seemed to suggest in no uncertain terms that Thanos would be the next opponent for the world's mightiest heroes. But with Marvel's Comic-Con announcement this past weekend that the sequel would be titled "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" the ultimate cinematic fate of the Mad Titan has, for me anyway, been thrown into question. Does the Ultron storyline rule out Thanos? Was that enormous tease at the end of "Avengers" just that: an enormous tease? Since Whedon has said the Ultron storyline will divert from published materials does that leave the door open for Thanos' involvement?

As reported over at Comicbookmovie a few months back Thanos creator Jim Starlin backtracked from previous statements he'd made that Thanos would indeed be appearing in A2:

“Setting the record straight: It keeps getting reported that I claimed that Thanos will be in both the upcoming Guardians of the Universe [sic] and Avengers II movies. Sort of true but not really. All I said, in some interview way back when, was that I had heard (as in convention scuttlebutt) that the Titan would be in both movies. I have absolutely nothing to do with Marvel films and not all that much with Marvel Comics. So I am no reliable source to quote on anything to do with what’s happening in any future Marvel film.”

So was Starlin's statement the first act in Marvel's attempt to wipe that post credit scene from our collective memory? I didn't think too much of what he said at the time but now it's beginning to look that was the case. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Just as a refresher here is that post-credit scene from "The Avengers".

Extended trailer for "Riddick"

Though the CGI occasionally seems to be plucked straight from a video game it's great to see this franchise return to its roots with this new installment. Vin Diesel and director David Twohy both spoke to that point at Comic-Con where they appeared yesterday to hype their film.

Karl Urban and Dave Bautista join Diesel in "Riddick" which will open in September.

Title for "Avengers" sequel released

After being shoved to the side by DC/Warner's big announcement about their planned Batman/Superman movie Marvel moved aggressively to steal back the limelight in San Diego by revealing the name of "The Avengers" sequel and here it is: "The Avengers: Age of Ultron". Just how Ultron will fit into the expected Thanos narrative that was teased at the end of "The Avengers" - or if that idea is even still alive - remains to be seen.

Learn more about Ultron here.

Jul 20, 2013

Warner Brothers makes a rather large announcement at Comic-Con

The image below is straight from Hall H in San Diego and follows this little reading from the stage:

I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you. (from Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns")

While it seems pretty clear this will not be a Justice League movie it's a pretty gi-normous announcement nonetheless. There are no particulars at this time who will be directing/producing etc or who will be playing the Caped Crusader as Christian Bale has said in no uncertain terms that he's done with the character. All we really know is that we should look for DC's two biggest superheroes to be sharing the screen in 2015. (Gee, isn't that the same year "Avengers 2" is due?)

Jul 18, 2013

First trailer for Ridley Scott's "The Counselor"

While most of the attention surrounding Scott over the past year or so has been around the dramatically uneven "Prometheus", that film's would-be sequel and the long-rumored second installment in the "Blade Runner" saga the director has been quietly at work putting together this little ditty which looks pretty amazing.

Michael Fassbender plays a southwestern lawyer who decides to dabble in the drug trade to raise some extra cash. Also starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Crus, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt the story revolves around how the lawyer's choice of second jobs will cause him "to come to moral decisions that will take [him] completely by surprise".

"The Counselor" opens October 25th.

Jul 17, 2013

New "Godzilla" poster

Legendary has released a new poster for their "Godzilla" remake (below) just in time for Comic-Con and it looks like we're going to need something a little more substantial than those helicopters to take down this bad boy. Directed by Gareth Edwards the film stars Ken Watanabe and Juliette Binoche and is due in theaters next May.

Jul 16, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of July 12 - July 14, 2013

1) Despicable Me 2 $43.8 Million
2) Grown Ups 2 $41.5 Million
3) Pacific Rim $37.2 Million
4) The Heat $14 Million
5) The Lone Ranger $11.5 Million
6) Monsters University $10.6 Million
7) World War Z $9.3 Million
8) White House Down $6.1 Million
9) Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain $4.75 Million
10) Man of Steel $4.71 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Fox's "Ice Age: Continental Drift" which opened in the top spot with $46.6 million in ticket sales.

(Green indicates new release)

Jul 13, 2013

"Pacific Rim" - 2013 - movie review

While convention tells us aliens come from outer space in ships adorned with colorful lights and are either here to befriend us or enslave us, "Pacific Rim" posits the notion that aliens arrive via a wormhole from another dimension that opens along the border of the Pacific plate and then rise from the ocean floor to wreak havoc for no particular reason. Sounds good to me.

These gi-normous, angry beings are known as Kaiju and it's going to take more than Seal Team 6 (no disrespect intended) to bring an end to their reign of ruin. Indeed the response put forth by humanity's best and brightest is to create massive rock-em sock-em robots known as Jaegers and driven by WWF fans to meet the enemy in the street for a public smackdown.

If this all seems a little short on intellectual gravitas it is. It's not aimed at fans of the tedious and futile SETI program it's aimed at teenage boys: either actual ones or the ones that remain inside most men long after they assume the mantal and responsibilities of adulthood. As such it succeeds spectacularly and manages to completely avoid Michael Bay's frat-boy put downs of women in the process.

The film opens with a kind of "Star Wars" meets "Lord of the Rings" set up wherein we're brought up to speed. We're told about the origins of the Kaiju, the human response (the initiation of the Jaeger giant-fighting-robot program) and the euphoria that followed initial success. Said euphoria doesn't last though and as the opening sequence dissolves into the movie's present (the year 2020) we join a pair of Jaeger pilots preparing to do battle. To say it doesn't go well for them would be an understatement and their defeat signals the beginning of the end for the Jaegar program which is eventually replaced by a new strategy: build a wall and hunker down.

But there are those among the herd who refuse to follow their "leaders" into Allislostville. Chief among these is Stacker Pentecost (Idras Elba) formerly leader of the Jaeger program who believes that we fall down so that we can learn how to get up, not so that we can learn how to crawl under the nearest bush. He recruits one of the pilots from the doomed sortie mentioned above (Raleigh Becket played with fresh faced gusto by Charlie Hunnam) along with a young woman who has her own history with the Kaiju (Mako Mori played to wide eyed perfection by Rinko Kikuchi) to resurrect an obsolete Jaeger and take one more shot at the beasts from 20,000 fathoms (so to speak).

It's all clearly comprehensible, beautifully crafted and devoid of the cynicism and overkill that made the last 2 Transformers movies such abject failures. But it's not just 2 hours of pandering to the adolescent within either for amidst the awe and chaos Pacific Rim remains responsible film making as del Toro and Co present a message that speaks to the values of persistence, co-operation and keeping a positive attitude. All qualities young people must take to heart if they're to face the real monsters of life with their heads on straight.

To his credit (and as visual homage to those films that inspired him) del Toro pulls back during many of the big action sequences and lets our imaginations swim in the context. A giant's only awesome if we can appreciate it's scale and you can only effectively convey that by pulling back. As a result the big set pieces, the battle royales, the rumbles in the (concrete) jungle have a sense of visual conhesion, jaw-dropping awesomeness and believability I've never seen the likes of before. In short they raise the bar for all giant monster movies to come. GDT's natural optimism also serves notice to blockbuster makers everywhere that you don't need anti-heroes navigating Freudian nightmares of the soul to engage viewers in the year 2013. It's clear that the director believes in people both individually and collectively and as such Pentacost's signature line "Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!" could well serve as del Toro's own declaration to his fellow film makers that it's time to reset your gaze on what can be instead of what you fear will be.

An enormous amount of credit must go to Art Directors Elinor Rose Galbraith and Richard L. Johnson along with the rank and file in the effects department for the outstanding job they've done bringing these mythic creatures to phantasmagorical life. In addition the film never swerves into future-as-living-hell visual negativity the would undercut the hopeful message. Sure there's lots of destruction. Sure there's a sense of resignation swirling in the air but at the same time the story here is not being played out in "the desert of the real".   

del Toro dedicates his marvelous giants in the streets film to Ishiro Honda of Godzilla fame and the recently deceased Ray Harryhausen who spoke to and pried open the imaginations of innumerable kids-of-all-ages with their visionary embrace of the mythic some 60 years ago. It's a welcome and fitting dedication and somewhere those 2 giants of the imagination are watching Pacific Rim and smiling.

Verdict: ★★★★★

Jul 12, 2013

"The Grandmaster" trailer

You may disagree but for me the much overused combination of hokey-phoney myth building and super slo-mo cinematography plant this effort squarely in the Yawner column. However "The Grandmaster" has something I simply cannot resist: the incomparable beauty Zhang Ziyi. She's not given a lot of screen time in this trailer but I'll take what I can get.

"The Grandmaster" is due out in the States August 23rd.

It's official: Sam Mendes to return for Bond 24

It's been one of the hottest directorial topics of the year: will Sam Mendes return to the big chair to helm the next Bond or won't he? After the excellent "Skyfall" surged past a billion Washington's at the global box office many a Bond fan was clamoring for him to sign on for another go. But while producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson also made it pretty clear they wanted him back Mendes himself hedged due to a full work slate. Happy to report though that the producers agreed to push back their production schedule enough to allow Mendes to fullfill his obligations and in return he's signed on.

In a statement released today the director said, "I am very pleased that by giving me the time I need to honour all my theatre commitments, the producers have made it possible for me to direct Bond 24. I very much look forward to taking up the reins again, and to working with Daniel Craig, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for a second time.”

Broccoli and Wilson released a statement of their own: "Following the extraordinary success of Skyfall, we're really excited to be working once again with Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes and John Logan.”

The as-yet untitled Bond 24 is due to hit theaters in October 2015.

Jul 11, 2013

One last clip from "Pacific Rim"

In this clip a heavily damaged Jaeger makes a surprise appearance in Alaska in the aftermath of a Kaiju encounter. Looks amazing! Last part of this video is basically a tacked-on mini trailer.

"Pacific Rim" opens tonight.

Off the beaten track trailer of the day: "Sharknado"

"We can't just wait here with sharks raining down on us!" Indeed.

Speaking of Kaiju: "Godzilla" goes viral

With the release of "Pacific Rim" right around the corner the folks at Legendary must be feeling a little left out because they chose now to launch the viral campaign for their upcoming remake of "Godzilla". There's a website and a couple of images connected to fake stories (sourced from ye olde website) that are making the cyber rounds. The Godzilla team will also have a major presence at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con where, presumably, more will be revealed about the story. In the meantime though here are those 2 image/stories.

Full trailer for "Filth" starring James McAvoy

If the full movie is anything like the trailer I'd say it will definitely live up to its name.

"Filth" opens October 4th.

Jul 9, 2013

Final trailer for "Pacific Rim"

Guillermo del Toro's ode to gi-normous, city-leveling creatures from the deep hits theaters in a scant 3 days. Can't wait. In the meantime enjoy this final trailer.

The top 10 movies for the weekend of July 5 - July 7, 2013

1) Despicable Me 2 $83.5 Million
2) The Lone Ranger $29.2 Million
3) The Heat $24.7 Million
4) Monsters University $19.7 Million
5) World War Z $18.4 Million
6) White House Down $13.4 Million
7) Man of Steel $11.4 Million
8) Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain $10 Million
9) This is the End $5.8 Million
10) Now You See Me $2.8 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Sony's "The Amazing Spider-Man" which opened in the top spot with $62.2 million in ticket sales.

(Green indicates new release)

Jul 6, 2013

James Cameron and Alfonso Cuaron discuss film making today

Interesting to hear Cameron talk about how he learned film making and to hear both of them discuss coming to Hollywood as outsiders (Cameron the Canadian and Cuaron the Mexican).

All the world's a train!

I have to say whenever I've indulged my dark side and tried to imagine the post-apocalypse one scenario that never came up was that humanity's remnants would live on a train continually circling the globe through a global-warming induced ice age. But my imagination has been put in its place by "Snowpiercer" from South Korean director Boon Joon-ho. Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton star.

No domestic release date as of this writing.

Jul 5, 2013

New international tv spot for "Pacific Rim"

Haven't seen a weak trailer or tv spot yet for GDT's mega-smackdown. Lots of fresh tidbits in this one too.

July 12th, July 12th, July 12th...

New TV spot for "Riddick"

Looks like the new movie will have a lot more in common with "Pitch Black" than it will with "Chronicles of Riddick", which is just fine with me.

El blurbo: Betrayed by his own kind and left for dead on a desolate planet, Riddick fights for survival against alien predators and becomes more powerful and dangerous than ever before. Soon bounty hunters from throughout the galaxy descend on Riddick only to find themselves pawns in his greater scheme for revenge. With his enemies right where he wants them, Riddick unleashes a vicious attack of vengeance before returning to his home planet of Furya to save it from destruction.

Nothing like a "vicious attack of vengeance" I always say.

"Riddick" hits theaters September 6th.

Off the beaten track trailer of the day - "Antboy"

Ich bin ein Antboy! (Or something like that)

Jul 4, 2013

New trailer for "Pacific Rim"




One short week until "Pacific Rim" hits theaters on the 12th.

Jul 3, 2013

New production video from "The Hobbit"

Peter Jackson starts right off stating that he's not making the trip to Comic-Con this year and gives his reasons (which sound perfectly understandable). He then offers up this feature covering the process of re-shoots, pickups and stuff that didn't get shot due to weather or whatever during principal photography for the remaining 2 films. Laketown and Dale look pretty amazing.

Take your time Peter. I for one will be waiting patiently for the final results.

New "Pacific Rim" featurette turns the spotlight on the Kaiju

This new featurette focuses squarely on the monsters from the deep and has lots of tasty, previously unseen footage. Is it July 12 yet?

Jul 1, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of June 28 - June 30, 2013

1) Monsters University $45.6 Million
2) The Heat $39.1 Million
3) World War Z $29.7 Million
4) White House Down $24.8 Million
5) Man of Steel $20.7 Million
6) This is the End $8.7 Million
7) Now You See Me $5.6 Million
8) Fast & Furious 6 $2.4 Million
9) Star Trek Into Darkness $2.1 Million
10) The Internship $1.4 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Universal's "Ted" which opened in the top spot with $54.4 million in ticket sales.

(Green indicates new release)

"World War Z" - 2013 - movie review

When I saw the first trailer for Marc Forster's "World War Z" I got all tingly at the sight of the undead unchained. Finally freed from their lumbering formula these zombies were rockin' and-a rollin', pushin' and and-a shovin' and climbin' baby, climbin' over each other's rotting corpses driven by that need for the next fleshy treat. (I know, the zombies in "28 Days Later" were also track stars but their tendency to hoof it wasn't properly mined for its potential visual gold the way it is here.)

Each subsequent piece of PR material only scratched that itch I was developing for this project that much more and now that it's here I have to say "Ahhhh.... that feels good! Yeah, right there." The film wastes no time getting to the heart of the matter when Brad Pitt's retired UN nobody Gerry Lane finds himself caught in the center of an undead swarm in downtown Philadelphia. The carnage erupts with virtually no warning and no explanation and that's just fine. Who wants exposition? I'm here to see them zombies run and I'm not disappointed. They're running here they're running there, they're running everywhere and running so fast that in 90 days they'll have overrun the entire planet. In more than some respects they look like consumers at a black Friday Christmas sale and I'm sure the parallels are more than a little intentional. (I've also heard the film discussed as a gigantic metaphor for Brad Pitt's life and while I can understand where that's coming from I'm not going to go there).

Lane and family escape the ravenous horde in Philly and eventually make it to an aircraft carrier offshore where he's recruited to join the team trying to figure out what the hell is going on. After that particulars of the plot as well as details like character development are shoved unceremoniously to the back of the bus as all focus is on the McDead and their over-caffeinated rampage through the world's capitals. In this sense World War Z resembles "Jurassic Park" and that's just fine. No one went to see Spielberg's dino movie to find out if Dr Grant was going to come to grips with having kids in the car, you went to see the f*#king T-Rex bust things up in the rain. Same here. Who cares what happens to some UN bureaucrat who's never had a real job? I want runnin' zombies! I want bloodthirsty, marauding, leapin-after-departing-helicopter zombies and like Spielberg's film of yore World War Z delivers the creature goods.

If I sound like I love this movie it's because I do. Unabashedly. The writing is so-so and the cast only adequate so I can't in good conscience give it five stars but the premise is so well executed that I personally don't care about narrative missteps or the fact that it seems Brad is just flying around the planet so that we can see our lovely sprinting zombies in different settings. The film does slow down a bit and morph into a more traditional style of zombie flick toward the end but the change of pace doesn't undermine what's come before and is probably necessary in order to deliver the final narrative plot twist in a way that gets your attention.

I went into WWZ with the same sort of excitement bubbling up inside that I experienced before going in to see "Prometheus". The difference? I came out of "Prometheus" scratching my head and wondering if it was just me that thought Ridley had lost control of his project and I came out of WWZ with a huge dopey smile on my face. Sure it's not "Lawrence of Arabia", but it's not supposed to be. It's entertainment and boy was I entertained. I should also mention that I saw the film with my friends and their two teenage daughters and the kids reactions were pretty much carbon copy of mine "Oh! That's soooo cool!" Not that it matters for the purposes of this review but their reaction told me this is a film that will probably have some serious legs.

If you're looking for a film that will resonate on innumerable levels for years to come go rent "Lawrence of Arabia". If you're looking for some first class summer entertainment grab the (older) kids and go see "World War Z".

Verdict: ★★★★