May 2012

'Men in Black III' is a fun ride

Still not as great as the first installment, but entertaining

Question: What do you get when you cross a Will Smith movie with a holiday weekend? Answer: A box office hit! Men in Black III opened over the Memorial Day weekend and guess what? It raked in the bucks. Shocking, no? No, not shocking at all. It was almost a given that the third installment of the MIB movie franchise would take over the number one spot at the box office (sorry, Avengers, but it was a record-setting run!).

And yes, we saw it. What follows is my review of the movie: The good, the bad and the just plain silly. My strong suggestion: Go into MIB 3 knowing you just want to have fun, and you won't be disappointed.

Dangers of remaking an R movie

I just heard that they are going to go a remake of “Robocop.” That seems to be fine, if they do it right. In 1987, “Robocop” was an insanely violent and gory movie. It had to fight for an R-rating and nearly was rated X because of the violence.

 

Long before Kurtwood Smith was the curmudgeonly father on “That '70s Show,” he was the main villain on Robocop. He's the one that put a bullet in Alex Murphy's head, inadvertently creating Robocop. There were no computer graphics only good old fashioned latex prosthetics, metal and a whole lot of blood.

The remake is scheduled for 2013, and I can guarantee that will not live up to the original, especially if they decide to dumb it down. There is a major movement to reach for that PG-13 rating and avoid the R-rating entirely. The film industry considers R too limiting to audiences and will ultimately cut into their profits. Movies have become much more expensive since the days of the original Robocop.

Review: Righteous Ties (2006)

It was late at night and there was nothing to do so, as usual, I turned on the almighty Netflix and browsed randomly to see what the night’s offerings were.  The day before I had watched a Takeshi Kitano film and Netflix decided that I “liked” it so much that there were a great many other films that should fit my tastes.  Sometimes this works out, more often it does not.  This time was one of the “does not” nights.

The film was Righteous Ties, a Korean gangster film.  The basic plot revolves around the main character - a thug of a Korean “company” - ending up in prison for some of the things he does under his boss’s orders.  Eventually, the boss changes his mind about which person he wants to support and in return for helping his former enemy he has to kill off the protagonist.  On the surface this seems like a typical crime-oriented betrayal plot that offers an opportunity for some fun action if not necessarily a deep and moving story.

James Bond movie 'Skyfall' trailer drops

Movie marks Daniel Craig's third turn as 007

The new teaser trailer for the James Bond action flick Skyfall is out, and it's a doozy. Daniel Craig is back for his third turn as famed secret agent 007. Going strictly on the trailer alone, I'd say Bond fans are in for yet another fun ride.

Skyfall is the 23rd James Bond movie, and if recent years are any indication, it could be among the best. And yes, I adore the classics (Goldfinger is my all-time favorite), but I love Daniel Craig as Bond (though yes, I'll confess I didn't like Quantum of Solace), and I have high hopes for Skyfall.

SKYFALL - Official Teaser Trailer

The 3 Greatest Movies Without Any Characters

These films manage to be great without anyone to relate to at all

Normally when we talk good movies, we talk about how successful they are at guiding believable and interesting characters along an engaging storyline. Characters are the bare building blocks of plot. If we're going to care about something happening in a fictional universe, we're going to have to first care about who it's happening to. 

But not all films need fully realized imaginary personalities in order to draw in an audience. Some of the best films ever made convey compelling experiences with nary a character in sight. These are those films--the ones that somehow get us excited and engaged despite the fact that there's no one in them for us to relate to.

 

Fantasia

I guess you could argue that Mickey Mouse is a character in his own right, but he doesn't really do anything as himself in Disney's experimental synesthetic spectacular. He stands in for the Sorcerer's Apprentice and then he provides some comic relief in between segments--that's it. On the whole, Fantasia moves along purely on the engine of its visuals and the beautiful music that inspired them. It's perhaps the only Disney film without a brand to accompany it, existing purely for the sake of its own artistic merit.

 

Koyaanisqatsi

Taking the earth as a whole in its gaze, this time-lapse full-length goes so far as to argue that all life is worthy of starring in its own film. Directed by Godfrey Reggio and scored by Philip Glass, this art film forsakes all the traditional hallmarks of the medium in which it operates. There are no characters, no sets, and no dialogue. There's simply the world, caught on camera. Koyaanisqatsi moves from documenting natural landscapes untouched by human development into a closer focus on civilization and bustling human activity. To see life portrayed on this scale grants you more than just a sense of perspective. It changes the way you think about why we do the things we do every day.

Dracula

Through the years, there have been many films based on the Bram Stoker vampire “Dracula.” They range from the classics like Bela Lugosi to the cheesy i.e. any vampire movie made in the 1970s. In my humble opinion, the pinnacle of Dracula films was the 1992 R-rated “Dracula” directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

The movie didn’t do much new to the legend, but was visually stunning. The story revolved around Count Dracula who came to England to live and fell in love with Jonathan Harker’s Wife, Mina. Dracula kills and turns the young Lucy Westerna, which turns her suitors into a vigilante band of vampire hunters led by Abraham Van Helsing.

Dracula is able to begin to transform Mina, so the hunters follow him back to his castle to kill him and hopefully remove the curse. They succeed, but not without the sacrifice of Quincy Morris, who the Harkers name their child after. His sacrifice single handedly saved Mina and mortally wounded Dracula.

Review: Griff the Invisible (2010)

"The basic story is that the main character, Griff, leads a double life. "

As anyone who sticks around this site long enough to read my reviews probably knows by now, I am a sucker for the super hero genre of film.  I’ll watch pretty much anything that even suggests there’s some sort of super element in it, even if the overall premise looks grim.  So it was only natural that I should eventually stumble upon a quaint little Australian film called Griff the Invisible.

The basic story is that the main character, Griff, leads a double life.  By day he works at a crappy job where he is underappreciated and victimized by his fellow employees.  At night, however, Griff puts on his super hero costume and sets to defending the city from the threat of crime.  He has all the things that your typical super hero could be expected to own, such as nifty gadgets and a high-tech surveillance set-up.  He even has a personal line to the commissioner of the city, in case his services need to be requested in a moment’s notice.

New trailer alert: Period drama 'Gangster Squad' features stellar cast

Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling movie will most likely get an "R" rating

While we were all smack in the middle of the whole Avengers-making-a-billion dollars brouhaha, some of us (including me) missed the new trailer for Ruben Fleischer's upcoming drama movie Gangster Squad. I just saw this today and let me tell you, I'm all over this movie! I love a good period drama, and this movie looks like it'll deliver in a major way.

And then, there's the Gangster Squad cast: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie...I could literally go on and on. Here's the trailer, so watch and enjoy:

Gangster Squad Official Trailer #1 (2012) Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone Movie HD



At this point, Gangster Squad hasn't been officially rated, but given the subject matter, I'm pretty sure it'll get an "R."

Trailer for 'Anchorman 2' attached to 'The Dictator'

Grab the scotch! Time to hit the theater!

For fans who've been in a total frenzy since the announcement that Anchorman 2 was coming, it's time to head to the theater. Apparently, the teaser trailer for the movie will air before Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy The Dictator (which, by the way, is getting fairly decent reviews).

Here's the thing: The teaser-trailer will likely hit the web around the same time as it hits the theaters, so if you have zero desire to see The Dictator, then no worries. You'll get your Ron Burgundy/Channel 4 News Team fix soon enough.

The Matrix

There are few movies that can transcend simple plot to become legendary, but the epic journey of Neo involved three movies, an animated movie, a massive online roleplaying game and several console videogames.

It not only created an entirely new set of rules for special effects, but created an entire computer world that seemed just as real as the one we were living in. The general idea is that Neo, a nerdy computer hacker in the Matrix world, is singled out and woken up to the reality that he’s been living in a computer generated dream world and energy siphoned from his body.

The entire human population lives unconscious in vats while they seemingly live their lives in this dream world. The computer that runs the Matrix has “agents” that wield incredible strength and speed to help keep things running smoothly.

Review: The Avengers (2012)

Like everyone else in the known world with ten bucks in their pocket, I went down to the theater last weekend to see Joss Whedon’s Avengers.  While I chose not to see it in 3D (I have a personal distaste for this format) nor did I drop the twenty dollars to see it in IMAX, the regular two-dimensional version worked out just fine for me.

There was a lot of hype around this film, with a great many people making a great many claims about its utter greatness.  I thought that I would end up disappointed at least a little bit, though with Joss Whedon on the bill I was more optimistic than I might otherwise have been.  As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie lived up to most of expectations that people were raving wildly about.

"The Campaign" Pits Will Ferrell Against Zach Galifianakis In A Political Show-Down

It's really hard with Will Ferrell.  On one hand he was involved in ""Elf," Step Brothers," "The Other Guys," "Zoolander" and "Stranger With Fiction," and on the other he was in "Land Of The Lost," "Talladega Nights" and "Bewitched." 

But add Zach Galifianakis in the mix, and all of a sudden things get more interesting.  Zach has had an interesting big-screen life, with hits like "The Hangover" movies and bombs like "Dinner For Schmucks" and "Due Date."  His solo comedy is spectacular, but I am always iffy about his on-screen roles. But I think I am willing to give his next project a bit of leeway.  

The Campaign official trailer

Hunger Games Parody Coming Soon

Scary movie writers take on the blockbuster hit

I guess we had it coming, Hunger Games fans. Anything that’s this big and this popular (by the way, how about going to see it again to make sure The Avengers doesn’t top it overall? I normally don’t advocate spending so much money on media, but I would love for this female-led, strong young adult movie to remain at the top for the year, if not longer!) is bound to receive some goofy parodies.

I don’t hate parodies, either; there’s a Hunger Games crack!fic piece of fanfiction known as The Starvelypmics that’s pretty funny (warning: it’s full of adult content and language!), as well as plenty of HG parody YouTube videos. But the makers of the Scary Movies franchise have now announced that they’ll be taking on a parody of the series—which will also include spoof of Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, The Avengers, and more. It will be called The Starving Games.

Watch Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn Duke It Out In "The Gangster Squad"

Ryan Gosling has been on quite the streak lately, with "Drive", "The Ides Of March", and "Crazy, Stupid Love", all three of which came out last year.  So it comes to no surprise to me that his newest film, "The Gangster Squad", looks action-packed and compelling.  Starring Sean Penn, John Brolin, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Giovanni Ribisi and Anthony Mackie, this film charts the path of real-life mafia boss Mickey Cohen, with Ryan Gosling and company playing the cops sent to take him down. Watch and see:

Gangster Squad Official Trailer #1 (2012) Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone Movie HD

A Troubling Dearth of Jossomeness - An Avengers Critique

Why the latest movie craze is ultimately written to disappoint

I'm not going to say Joss Whedon has sold out. That would be a cliched oversimplification and an overall unhelpful statement in the discussion about what The Avengers has actually done to Hollywood. Besides, Whedon never committed to pure artistry in the first place. He's always been more than comfortable selling entertainment products to the highest bidder. So I won't say that Joss Whedon has sold out. But I will say this: it feels weird to see Joss Whedon take Disney money to make a glossy and overblown (if spirited) toy catalog. 

As anyone who knows anything about anything already knows, The Avengers broke box office records by drawing a butt-ton of profits on its opening weekend. If there were ever a sign that the movie industry as we know it is alive, healthy, and gluttonous as ever, this was it. Piracy be damned; people will still gladly shell out $30 a head for a 3D midnight opening ticket plus accoutrements. Especially if the film in question is the first shiny summer action flick of the season with an all-star cast of already-loved characters.

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that The Avengers's script drips out as lazily as it does. Whedon didn't have to do any work to make it hook. Just between RDJ's effervescent likability and Scarlett Johannson's, ahem, screen presence, you could make a summer smash hit without writing a single original line of dialogue. Throw in the rest of the crew and it becomes obvious why Whedon's trademark witticisms were tranquilized into easy, family-friendly stock humor. As a director, he gets all the beats to milk the laughs, but as a writer he seems to have left his spine back on Serenity.

'The Avengers' shatters box office records, and it's terrific

Film is a huge hit with critics and moviegoers

You know all the hype that's surrounded The Avengers movie? I just left the theater, and I can tell you that in my humble opinion, it's deserved. I haven't had that much fun watching a movie in a long time. It's a shining example, to me, of what a great Hollywood blockbuster film should be: a star-studded, action-packed thrill ride.

I've said many times that I'm no big fan of 3-D, but I splurged on The Avengers, seeing it in IMAX 3-D. It was worth every single hard-earned penny. Judging from the sold-out theaters here, I figured this film would take in big bucks at the box office, but I had no idea it would shatter records. We truly do love our superheroes!

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Review: Gangs of New York (2002)

I would like to start out by saying that this movie is, in my opinion, one of Martin Scorsese’s greatest masterpieces.  He brings together a cast that kicks butt and creates a story that draws the audience in intensely.  I’ve never been a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, but even he does a great job here.  And, of course, Daniel Day-Lewis brings the character of Bill Cutting to life in such a way that he becomes a haunting image that stays with the viewer for weeks afterwards.

I speak from the assumption that everyone has already seen this movie at least once.  It was so widely popular that there are probably very few true movie fans that missed it in the theater or didn’t manage to at least pick it up on DVD/Blu-Ray.  For those that haven’t seen it, a brief description is probably in order.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

There are few movies that are so awesome they help to define a genre, but 1988’s Killer Klowns From Outer Space helped to make the B-movie a household name. An alien ship lands in the middle of a forest and ends up looking like a circus tent.

It’s populated by alien clowns that want to attack and trap the population in cotton candy. This apparently softens them up so they can be easily drank from a ridiculously shaped straw. The only thing standing in their way is a rogue cop, his exgirlfriend, her current boyfriend and a couple of idiots trying to sell ice cream.

The clowns employ all the standard tricks like funny bicycles, puppets, and balloon animals, but they all have a deadly leaning. They pelt a guard with pies that end up melting him into a large pile of goo. The smallest clown then places a cherry on top.

New trailer for 'The Dark Knight Rises' offers great preview

New preview suggests hard times for Batman

The latest trailer for the upcoming summer blockbuster movie The Dark Knight Rises was released on Monday night, and it definitely offers a lot more details about the film's plot. It seems this third and final movie in the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman trilogy is going to be a tough ride for the caped crusader (that's putting it mildly). Did anyone expect anything less? I didn't think so.

In short, the new Dark Knight Rises trailer is fantastic, and it only makes me wish more that I didn't have to wait until July 20 to see the movie!

The Dark Knight Rises - Official Trailer #3 [HD]