April 2012

Bringing the classics 'to life' - how Hollywood markets literary adaptations

Why casting books as dead media is a problem

On my way to work every day, I drive by a giant billboard advertising the new Snow White film Mirror Mirror. Not only does it amplify my fear of Julia Roberts's gargantuan world-swallowing mouth, it also belies a trend I find somewhat disturbing in the way movie adaptations are marketed to the latest crop of media consumers. The film's tagline reads, "The Snow White legend comes alive." Seems harmless at first, but when you're forced to read it twice a day amid the rush of your daily commute, you start to realize that there's something pretty arrogant and insidious about that claim. As in: really? A much beloved 200-year-old fairy tale, and the only thing that can bring it to life at long last is Erin Brokovich? Last time I checked, if you've been around for two centuries, it's not a washed-up middle-aged perplexingly Oscar-holding actress who has the power to make you come alive.

Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Being that I am one of the biggest comic book movie nerds in the world, it seems I should have seen this one much earlier than I did.  I must have been somewhere where there were no movie theaters to have ignored The Incredible Hulk, but this week I was finally able to go back and take a look at this film.  I have to say, I have mixed feelings about it.

The Incredible Hulk starts out well enough, but slowly declines as the film goes on.  The look and feel of the film are great, giving a gritty realism to the Hulk character and an atmosphere of menace that truly makes you feel sorry for poor old Bruce Banner as he runs from those who would seek to capture him and turn his ‘disability’ into a weapon for the government.  Unfortunately, the way the movie is shot and put together is one of the only reasons you feel sorry for him.

A new trailer for Pixar's latest movie, "Brave," is out

Pixar does it again: This is mind-blowingly awesome animation

So far, Pixar's done a bang-up job of keeping specifics about the plot for it's upcoming movie, Brave, completely under wraps. No synopsis released, no interviews explaining what's going on. Now, we finally have a long new trailer that offers a few answers. More importantly though, it visually blows our minds!

Yes, Pixar has done it again, only this time with what seems to me to be a Disney-like tale. Interesting stuff. Here's the trailer, so you can see for yourself:

Pixar's Brave Trailer #3 720HD

Everyone now: "Wow." Am I right? I'm so right.

'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' seems promising

Film boasts a stellar cast and an A-list director

I was all set to write about the fact that I finally saw The Cabin in the Woods over the weekend, but now I realize that I just can't do it. Let's just say that if you want to see it, try hard not to read anything about it before you go. And let's also say that I thought it was fantastic!

Since I'm not going to discuss how awesome The Cabin in the Woods is, let's do a 180 and talk about a dramedy, shall we? I'm talking about the upcoming movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This one flew under my radar until yesterday, when I happened on the trailer and realized that Marigold boasts one of the best casts I've seen in quite a while: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel...and on and on. Intrigued yet?

Looking back at Iron Man 2

 

With the Avengers movie fast approaching, I decided I would go back and make myself watch all the films of the last decade that were leading up to it.  Though I was looking forward to seeing The Incredible Hulk, which I had not seen before, the only one of the set that was up on the Netflix happened to be Iron Man 2, so I guess I’m talking about that one instead.  While it’s definitely not the worst of the five films to precede the Avengers, neither is it the best.  The first Iron Man out-classed it by far.  But still, it’s a decent film that deserves some level of praise for the work that went into making it.

 

This film follows Tony Stark, AKA Robert Downey Jr., AKA Iron Man, as he deals with some real life problems while battling against super-evil foes.  The main bad guy is Ivan Vanko, AKA Whiplash, played by the talented Mickey Rourke.  Unfortunately, many of Rourke’s lines were cut from the film for editing reasons, leaving his character about as two-dimensional as they get.  We never figure out too much about this guy, other than he want to kill Iron Man because of what Stark’s daddy did to his daddy.

Worth watching: Richard Linklater's 'Bernie'

Gifted director and stellar cast make this dark comedy one to see

With all the talk about the blockbuster, big-budget movies that are out now or soon-to-be released, I thought I'd throw in a movie that hasn't gotten a ton of mainstream attention: Bernie. This is a dark comedy that's based on a true story, and aside from the fact that hey, it's Richard Linklater directing, the movie boasts a whopper of a cast.

Bernie is slated for a wide release in U.S. theaters on April 27, 2012. I'm sure it'll get lost in the shuffle between films like The Hunger Games (which is still going really strong) and Zac Efron's The Lucky One (almost sure to be a hit). But for those of us who absolutely adore Linklater movies, Bernie looks like a real winner.

Bernie Official Trailer #1 - Jack Black, Richard Linklater Movie (2012) HD

Review: Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

 

The first thing I have to say about this is film is why, God, why?  Battle Beyond the Stars is probably one of the worst sci-fi films I have seen in ages.  This is some serious Mystery Science Theater 3000 material (come to think of it, I should see if they did an episode on this one).  With scenes directly stolen from movies and television series that came before it, such as Star War, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, except on a much smaller budget, director Roger Corman has done his dirty work all over this mess of cinematic poo-poo.

Robert Englund – The R-rated movie King

Robert Englund will forever be known as the originator of one of the most beloved horror movie monsters of all time, but his R-rated movie roots go further back than Freddy Krueger. Horror master Tobe Hooper cast him in “Eaten Alive” back in 1977 and Englund was off to the races after that.

Before Freddy, Englund was an ordinary actor trying to make his mark in the movie industry. He had parts in television and main stream films such as V, but when Freddy hit, his R-rated movie roots were sealed. Englund began eeking into R-rated horror films while getting guest spots in television shows like Knight Rider, Hunter and Night Court. It culminated in 1988 with his own television series, Freddy’s Nightmares.

Could Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie be teaming up for another movie together?

It's been too long since 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith'

In 2005, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie steamed up the big screen with the spy thriller Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now, nearly seven years later, the pair are considering co-starring together once again. And you just know that whatever movie has them thinking about doing this is stellar, don't you?

Reports surfaced on Thursday that Brad and Angie might star in Ridley Scott's next film, The Counselor. The film is based on a script by none other than Cormac McCarthy (remember No Country for Old Men? Yeah, that level of greatness). And it gets even better: You won't believe who else might be on board for this monster project!

'The Cabin in the Woods' looks promising

Horror thriller written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard gets stellar reviews

I'm not sure how The Cabin in the Woods wasn't on my radar before now, but you can bet it is today. Two things get my attention: One, the movie is co-written by the almost always brilliant Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, and two, the reviews for this horror/thriller are off-the-hook good.

Anyone else planning a theater trip to see this one when it opens on Friday? Me too. I might have to make this a night film too, and I almost always see matinee movies now to save my hard-earned cash.

J. Edgar

A tour de force Dicaprio performance. The life of a sad man.

I watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s most recent project, J. Edgar, the other day for the first time. I’ve been on a little bit of a Leo kick to prepare for seeing the re-release of Titanic (a role he created when he was only twenty-two!), and also on a political biography spree, having watched The Iron Lady last week.

Television reboot of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed on the horizon?

 

There may be some of you out there who remember a little-known film called Nightbreed that came out back in 1990.  This film was based on the Clive Barker book Cabal and tells the story of a group of very different people, akin to monsters or the mutants you might read about in comic books.  On the surface, this was just another horror film, with monsters fighting humans for their survival – a bit of a twist on the genre, but a horror flick nonetheless.  This much under-appreciated story may get a second chance in the near future, as Barker is currently in talks to reboot the movie, except this time as a pay-channel television series.

The Incredible Hulk surprised us

The 2008 movie wasn't as bad as we feared

In anticipation of “The Avengers” coming out this summer, my husband and I have been watching the Marvel movies featuring the characters who make up The Avengers. We’ve seen most of the movies before, but we had never seen 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” or 2011’s “Captain America.”

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Marvel comics. However, my husband and my stepsons are, so, since we’ve been married, I’ve become more of a fan.  I think my favorite movie so far has been “Iron Man.”

Anyway, neither my husband or I really had any desire to see the 2008 version of “The Incredible Hulk.” I’d seen the television show, and knew the story, but that was it. My husband had seen the 2003 version with Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, and he didn’t like it, so he wasn’t expecting much from the 2008 movie.

"The Iron Lady"

An interesting vehicle for a Streep Oscar.

I finally watched the Meryl Streep vehicle, The Iron Lady, the other day. Streep won a well-deserved Academy Award for her performance as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a controversial figure in that country’s history.

District 12 Is For Sale

For the Hunger Games fan with $1.4 million burning a hole in their pocket!
When the Hunger Games movie producers went scouting for a location for the impoverished Appalachian coal mining region District 12, they found a perfect match: Henry River Mill Village, in rural North Carolina. 
 
Best of all, for the purposes of making the movie, the town had been abandoned 25 years ago. Not only would this make it easy to film without inconveniencing the neighbors, it also lent every aspect of the town a run down, ramshackle look - perfect for achieving that elusive quality of "District 12-ness" necessary for a really accurate portrayal of Katniss Everdeen's home town.
 
Now that filming has ended, the town is up for sale. Haven't you ever wanted a whole entire town to call your own? Now you can have one, and with a famous provenance to boot! District 12 is up on for sale for only $1.4 million dollars. Surely you could recoup some of that cost just by running tours to the town for Hunger Games fans!

Top five Peeta Mellark substitutes

Who would you choose?

It’s inevitable – an eagerly awaited movie is released and for weeks or months, the hype lingers around whether it was able to stand up to its expectations. As of recently, the Hunger Games has been the source of this “hype.” I saw the previous post evaluating components of the movie that were left out, in comparison to the book. Since release, the movie has maintained quite the following. I waited for a couple weeks to venture to the theatre…not because I didn’t want to be one of the first to see it, but rather I was not ready to deal with the masses.  Overall, I thought the movie was great. I thought the book was phenomenal. Downfall to reading a book before seeing a movie based on the book, your overall expectations look slightly different.

To me, I agree that some very significant pieces were left out; all of which were pieces I would have liked to have seen. Yet, that may have made the movie four hours long. My biggest struggle with the movie lie in casting. I thought that most of those cast for the parts were a fairly good fit for what I had created in my head, while reading the books. Yet, Peeta Mellark (or Josh Hutcherson in “real” life) fell very short for me.

Donald Sutherland: “President Snow is Not Evil”

Neither are human trafficking pimps, either, I suppose.

In a recent interview about his character, President Snow, Donald Sutherland said that he was not evil. He said that Snow is only doing his job as a lifelong bureaucrat, continuing its way as it has been since before his time, or something like that. That remark made me think, “Oh, so that’s why he didn’t feel as evil as he should have in the movie!” Because while Sutherland was great as Snow, he sure wasn’t evil enough—and in the book, Snow certainly is. I don’t think that Donald Sutherland has read the books. (Spoilers to follow.)

Who Should Play Beetee?

Which actor do you like for the geeky champion?

For those who don’t know him, Beetee is a Hunger Games character from book two, Catching Fire. To avoid any spoilers, we’ll just say that he is a former Games champion who is known for his superior intellect and ability to invent cool new gadgets. Beetee is very clever, a science geek to the core, and described as being middle-aged (I think—that detail seems a little fuzzy!). Other than that, we have no idea what he looks like (though he does wear glasses).

My Hunger Games has posted several of their favorite choices for the character, including seasoned actors like Jeff Goldblum, Steve Buscemi, and Jackie Earle Healey. A few other favorites include Hank Azaria, Andy Dick, and William H. Macy, among others. I like a few of these—I’d love to see Healey as another character called Chaff—but I don’t really love them as Beetee. Why are they all white, for one? I don’t remember what color Beetee is in the book, but we have a heavily white cast already. I’d love to see some more color in terms of the main characters.

The Best Cut Lines of “The Hunger Games”

None of my favorites made the film; did yours?

One of the things that breaks my heart the most when a book is adapted to a film is when my favorite lines are cut. Remember when Ginny Weasley spoke of Harry Potter’s supposed Hungarian Horntail tattoo—and her brother Ron’s pygmy puff? Yeah, it wasn’t important, but it was hilarious, one of the many small moments that build our characters as well as our love for the series.

The Hunger Games was no different here, and I wish that the favorite lines of fans had been taken into consideration before the movie was released. Just about every one of my favorite lines—aside from the simple “I volunteer!”, “Don’t let them starve,” and “Little duck”—was cut from the film, and any fan knows how disappointing that is. You really want to hear the characters say those phrases that we love so much!

So for those of you who didn’t read the book, here are a few of the best lines that you missed.

'Sparkle' movie trailer released: Whitney Houston's final big screen performance

Musical remake promises to deliver

We finally have the first official, full-length trailer for the 2012 musical remake movie Sparkle, and it's a doozy. This is Whitney Houston's last movie (and musical) performance, and there's no doubt in my mind now that it will be stellar. The buzz about this film, and Houston's role in it, was huge -- even before Whitney's untimely death earlier this year.

In Sparkle, Jordan Sparks plays a talented young girl with a dream of performing. Eventually, she forms a Motown-style girl group with her two sisters. Whitney Houston plays Sparks' mother, Emma, a former singer who hopes that her daughters' careers will be more successful than hers. I must confess, I got a little misty-eyed when I watched the trailer, especially when Houston tells her daughter, "Was my life not enough of a cautionary tale for you?"