Nov 19, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of November 15 - November 17, 2013

1) Thor: The Dark World $36.5 Million
2) The Best Man Holiday $30.1 Million
3) Last Vegas $8.4 Million
4) Free Birds $8.1 Million
5) Bad Grandpa $7.4 Million
6) Gravity $6.1 Million
7) Ender's Game $6 Million
8) 12 Years a Slave $4.6 Million
9) Captain Phillips $4.3 Million
10) About Time $3.3 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Lionsgate's "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2" which opened in the top spot with $141 million in box office receipts.

(Green indicates new release)

Nov 17, 2013

"Sin City 2" gets a name change

Poster with dumbed-down title for SC2
"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" has been retitled "Sin City: A Dame to Die For" in an apparent attempt to make sure none of those uber-sensitive consumer types get their knickers in a twist and find themselves offended. Oh well. It'll always be "A Dame to Kill For" to me.

"Noah" - trailer

I don't know what's stranger: that they'd make a movie about Noah in 2013 or that a film about Noah would be directed by Darren Aronofsky. It makes a certain amount of sense I guess when you consider Hollywood's penchant for end-of-the-world storylines. I can imagine being in meeting: "Think 2012, but retro!"

"Noah" hits theaters March 28, 2014.

Nov 12, 2013

The top 10 movies for the weekend of November 8 - November 10, 2013

1) Thor: The Dark World $85.7 Million
2) Bad Grandpa $11.3 Million
3) Free Birds $11.1 Million
4) Last Vegas $11 Million
5) Ender's Game $10.2 Million
6) Gravity $8.5 Million
7) 12 Years a Slave $6.6 Million
8) Captain Phillips $5.7 Million
9) About Time $4.7 Million
10) Cloudy w/a chance of Meatballs 2 $2.7 Million

The number one movie a year ago this week was Sony's "Skyfall" which opened at the top with $88.3 million in box office receipts.

(Green indicates new release)

Nov 9, 2013

Justin Lin takes director's chair for Bourne 5

New "Bourne" director Justin Lin
Though rumors have teased the return of Matt Damon to the franchise for a couple of years now it seems pretty clear that the Bourne universe he essentially created is moving on without him. He has stated on multiple occasions that he would not return to the character of Jason Bourne unless director Paul Greengrass was brought back with him.

Well, Universal has pretty effectively hammered the final nail in the coffin of Damon/Greengrass with their announcement that "Fast and Furious" director Justin Lin will take the big chair for the series' next installment. It's hoped that Lin - who turned the lame F&F concept into box office gold - will do the same with the Bourne franchise, which frankly is difficult to justify without an actual Bourne character in it.

Nov 8, 2013

"Mad Max Fury Road" the film that wouldn't be born

The delays on George Miller's fourth Mad Max film had already become the stuff of developmental legend. But a few months ago it seemed that maybe, finally, the film was in the can. Apparently, that's not quite the case after all.

Said star Tom Hardy at the BFI London Film Festival: “[Mad Max] is great, it’s a big old beast, it’s a behemoth. I’m off out there next week to do some reshoots – well, not reshoots, actually, we’re doing more. Building more Mad Max that’s even more spectacular.”

Hardy's words are the kind that those of us who've been waiting on this film for several years now really didn't want to hear and raises the question: is he simply putting a brave face on a disaster or did the studio decide that what Miller had done to this point was so good it warranted an additional investment to put it over the top? I guess we'll know when we finally see the flick.

If we finally see the flick.

Possibly coming some day to a theater near you. Maybe.

Release date set for Episode VII

December 18th 2015. Mark it on your calendar Star Wars fans. That is now the official release date of Episode VII.

Disney studio head Alan Horn made the announcement Thursday and went on to state;“We’re very excited to share the official 2015 release date for Star Wars: Episode VII, where it will not only anchor the popular holiday filmgoing season but also ensure our extraordinary filmmaking team has the time needed to deliver a sensational picture,"

This announcement follows by a couple of weeks word that writer Michael Arndt was leaving the project for reasons that probably won't be clear for a while. It was an announcement that sent shivers through the fanbase many of whom feared there was trouble in a galaxy far, far away and that we might not see this film until 2016 or even beyond. Thankfully that's not the case.

Disney Chairman Robert Iger also chimed in on the issue during an earnings call noting that  December 18th “is also the date Avatar opened in 2009.” It can be safely assumed that associating his film with the biggest grossing film of all time was Iger's way of placating those who fear that releasing a Star Was movie in any month other than May is asking for trouble. It's also notable that the 2 biggest names at Disney felt compelled to tag team the media regarding this announcement. Apparently the departure of Arndt caused some significant ripples on the Disney pond prompting the two to handle the fire extinguishers personally.

Nov 7, 2013

Extended trailer for "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"

They're calling this a "sneak peek" but it's really an extended trailer, and a darn good one at that.

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

"Thor: The Dark World" - 2013 - movie review

Near the beginning of "Thor: The Dark World" Loki is banished forever to the (hi-tech) dungeons of Asgard for his crimes against the 9 realms. (It's never explicitly laid out what he did; instead what the marketing department at Marvel is counting on is that the in-the-know members of the audience will lean over to their less informed theater-mates at this point and quietly inform them of his transgressions from "The Avengers", which, if the marketing department has its way will prompt those less informed theater goers to think: "Gee, I should order the four disc combo deluxe DVD box set of that movie and bring myself up to speed.") Thor meantime is out cleaning up Loki's mess, restoring order to the aforementioned realms; which apparently consists of nothing more than making an appearance on Whateverheim and laying a rock giant out with a single hammer blow. There you go. Order restored. 

Meanwhile back on earth Jane "Fatal Attraction" Foster is finally allowing herself to leave the basement where she's been holed up the past couple of years sticking pins in her Official Thor action figure and has decided to go on a date. Still smitten by a couple of sweet words and a Hollywood kiss in the desert though she can't see the male forest for the Asgardian oak and basically treats her date like a napkin holder. Thankfully Darcey shows up bearing instruments and suggests that strange things are afoot. Jane of course ditches the napkin holder and she and Darcey follow the techno bread crumbs to an abandoned warehouse where some kids from the "Animatrix" short "Beyond" have discovered a gravity anomily, right there in downtown London of all places. And wouldn't you know it just by walking into an adjoining room Jane stumbles upon some aether - a cosmic concoction not so unlike the black goo from "Prometheus". Whatever this stuff comes in contact with it turns to super-aggressive, super-strong, super-evil. Well, Jane comes in contact with it alright and when she does she drops off the intergalactic grid prompting Thor to intervene personally to find out wazzupwidat.

What he discovers after bringing JF to Asgard (hide the bunny rabbits!) against Odin's wishes is that the aether is the preferred weapon of the Dark Elves. Led by the darkest of the dark Malekith these nasty buggers predate the universe and have never forgiven the big bang for happening. They like the dark. Several thousand years ago they had attempted to take over the universe using the aether but were defeated and the aether buried where no one could find it. (Somebody should have told Odin's dad though that that "bury it where no one will ever find it" stuff never works.) As it turns out the reason Jane and Darcey were able to stumble upon that gravity anomily and by extension the aether was that every 5,000 years there is some sort of cosmic alignment whereby the borders between realms become blurred, hence the burial place of the aether suddenly materializes in London. Right down the street from Jane's place. Amazing!

Meanwhile back in Asgard all hell has broken loose with Dark Elves suddenly appearing in great flying ships and wreaking havoc or' the House of Odin. They're hell bent on destruction and before the dust settles from the initial battle Odin will take on aspects of a war criminal (at least according to Thor) and one member of the cast will head for the unemployment lines.

Back on earth Eric Selvig is running around in his underwear (or less) attempting to warn everyone that the alignment is coming. He might as well be railing about global warming though because nobody's listening, except Darcey. Thank god for Darcey.

Maybe you're starting to pick up on the fact that I had a difficult time buying into the premise at work here. It's too convoluted and far fetched, even for a comic book movie. I can see why Kenneth Branagh pulled out of this project citing "creative differences". He obviously saw that the people in charge of the property didn't really understand it, at least in cinematic terms. He knew (and demonstrated beautifully in the first film) that with a character like this one should paint in broad strokes. The settings should be grand, the story should be simple and the characters given room to breathe. Here, Thor is suffocated by his tiny human love interest, Odin allows someone he considers to be little more than "a goat" to speak to him directly (wouldn't happen) and the broad canvas of the desert is replaced by the repackaged-for-consumerism remnants of empire in London. In Asgard we spend a lot of time in the dungeon or listening to the gods speak of their powerlessness. Not exactly the stuff grandeur is made of. (In one thoroughly unwelcome exchange Odin renounces his Godliness outright. This scene has noted atheist Joss Whedon's fingerprints all over it and while I'm personally sympathetic to Whedon's beliefs methinks he should spend less time trying to rewrite ancient mythology and more time letting the characters be what they are, whether he likes what they are or not.) The characters are also diminished by the constant cross-referencing with other Marvel properties and no one is given a chance to really shine amid all the marketing distractions.

I really wanted to like this movie as I believe the original "Thor" to be the best comic book superhero movie yet made. In and of itself there's nothing wrong with "Thor: The Dark World". It's an attractive, well made piece of 21st century entertainment that should keep the less critical overseas audiences queuing up for weeks. However, it never takes off, doesn't really pay off and pales in comparison to the compelling, cinematic opera the first film was. When taken alongside the disappointing "Iron Man 3" it seems to me that the folks at Marvel have begun to lose their way. I'd like to think that they'll snap out of their daze and leave the marketing department out of the script meetings in the future but that's probably asking way too much. At least as long as the goose continues to lay golden eggs.

Verdict: ★★★☆☆

Another note to our readers

There's no doubt we've been remiss with our updating responsibilities the past month or so and particularly the past week. As I explained in an earlier post this is because we have been assisting our friend Rich Chambers in the making of his first feature film entitled "The Shadow Sea". It's been an amazing experience but also a time consuming one. Something has had to give and unfortunately it's been 21st Century Films up to this point. With principal photography nearly 90% complete, however, we expect that over the course of the next few weeks things will return to normal here and we'll get back to bringing you a choice selection of movie news from here there and everywhere. In the meantime please accept our apologies and keep coming back and, oh yeah, don't forget to visit the official facebook page of "The Shadow Sea" (address below) and drop a like on the project while you're there.

Chris and Gigi