Quvenzhane Wallis’ Annie trailer premiered. It looks funny, emotional, and the best Christmas movie for 2014.
FOX is renewing a bunch of shows including Brooklyn Nine-Nine. More Andy Samberg on TV is always good news.
Sony bought the rights to develop Max Brooks’ Harlem Hellfighters into a film. This will definitely be a film to see.
Marvel is releasing a new set of documentaries called Tales to Astonish. Starting them off will document Civil War, one of the best Graphic Novels of the last decade.
The Supernaturalspin-off will be called Supernatural: Bloodlines rather that Tribes. It’s big deal for Supernatural fans.
A new 24trailer came out. It looks epic.. but I’m still wondering how 12 hour mini-series should still be called 24?
Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” will be adapted into a five issue comic series distributed by IDW. Trekkies will surely be glad to see the adaptation that Harlan Ellison intended to make.
Genre – Comic Book/Action/Fantasy
Director – Alan Taylor (Thor, the next Terminator film)
Cast – Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba
Alluring element – Rides off the coattails of The Avengers, Lots-o-Loki, Natalie freakin Portman
Check it out if you liked – The Avengers, comic book movies, dry Whedonesque humor
Thor: The Dark World opened with $85.7 million worldwide – not bad for Disney. Acquiring the rights to Marvel films has secured their studios rank among the movie franchise greats. Fanboys can breath a collective sigh of relief. Our nightmares of Professor X sing-a-longs with teacups and woodland creatures can finally be laid to rest. The integrity of our beloved comics has, for the most part, been maintained with only a few noticeable slights along the way, ahem, Iron Man 3.
The story is cliché and simplistic, so lets get that out of the way. There was a war, the bad guys tried to obtain a weapon that would defeat the good guys and when they lost, the weapon was buried deep where no one could find it until an unlikely character stumbled upon it and was consumed by its power. The bad guys searched for it and they found it and before they could wield its true power, then they were defeated again by a brave warrior. So in other words, Thor 2 is basically a 120 minute version of The Lord Of The Rings. It even has elves, but its lack of original script is forgiven, more so tolerated, by its incredible CGI and the always adorable Natalie Portman.
Carrying an entire movie on one name can be a stressful task. Disney was betting on riding Hemsworth’s pecs to a big payday, but the box office can be unforgiving if an A-Lister can’t deliver. Leading roles are becoming exceptionally dull. The overtly moral, one-dimensional character apparently bores writers like Christopher Yost of Dark World. Man of Steel is a perfect example. I can hardly remember Henry Cavill even being in the movie, but Michael Shannon made me a life-long fan with his portrayal of General Zod (“I WILL FIND HIM!”). The list goes on: Kevin Bacon owned First Class, Alfred Molina in Spiderman 2, and we are all aware of Ledger’s glorious performance in The Dark Knight. With that being said, “I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose!” Thor 2 can attribute its success to its villain, played by Tom Hiddleston.
As a prisoner of Asgard he kept our attention, pacing his cell like a lion at the San Diego Zoo. His facial expressions read as predatory. Loki is a thinker. He is planning 3 moves ahead of the game. He took us by storm in Avengers. He stole every scene and was just as entertaining as Downing, if not more. He clearly has mastered the art of delivery, placing a breath where it is needed before a line for dramatic effect. It was such a relief to see an actor jump so effortlessly into a role. He is most definitely the best written character as well. Delivering beautiful rebuttal lines like:
Thor: I wish I could trust you.
Loki: Trust my rage.
In one scene he stabs Thor in a ruse to fool the Dark Elves. It was so well done that even the audience was fooled and we once again had a reason to hate and love his character.
The remaining cast does not disappoint. Idris Elba had my favorite scene as Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. At one point, he jumped from the bridge onto one of the Dark Elves warships in an attempt to thwart their invasion. He is a one man army. Plus his armor is sick! The always sarcastic Kat Dennings delivers a wonderfully dry comic relief role as Darcy Lewis, proving that Zooey Deschanel doesn’t have the market cornered for brunette hipsters. Rene Russo has clearly aged. No longer the MILF of the Thomas Crown days, she plays a great sentinel of Asgard wielding a sword to protect Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman.
The real test of Thor will be whether or not the man with the hammer can defeat The Girl on Fire. The first Hunger Games movie opened at $152.5 million worldwide. Catching Fire will prove to be a good draw and take a large chunk of Thor’s future box office. Traditionally, a Hollywood heartthrob would have little to worry about keeping 14 year old girls and work-from-home moms in the seats, but with the over-all badassery and girl power of Katniss Everdeen on the other side of the aisle it is clear that Thor’s numbers will take a strong dip.
I was super excited for the release of The Dark World, mostly due to the extraordinary job done that was done with his character in The Avengers, so there was an expectation to begin with. Admittedly, I held the film to a higher standard going in. This score is almost all attributed to Hiddleston’s flawlessly deviant characterization of an inconspicuous comic villain. He needs a franchise. Hopefully he will make an appearance in Age of Ultron. I am still a little bummed that James Spader beat out Vin Diesel for the voice of Ultron, but hey, it could have been Affleck.
The blockbusters are coming! The blockbusters are coming! November stars off with a bang and keeps getting better. With some big movies on the horizon, it’s hard not to get excited about the action movies, the book-to-movie adaptations and family films coming your way this upcoming month.
November 1 – Ender’s Game
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis
Based off the 1985 book of the same name, Ender’s Game is centered around a young boy who is enlisted into some weird child army to single-handedly eliminate an alien threat and save the world. This child prodigy, played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo‘s title actor), is a very advanced strategist and thinker for his age, which leads him to be outcasted a lot. The book focused on a lot of battle strategy and the “games” he plays to train himself – many of which I think kids would love to play. I’m thoroughly excited to see this movie and think it will translate into a beautiful District 9/Harry Potter sci-fi mash-up.
Okay, so nobody roots for a turkey to win, but that may change after Free Birds comes out. Awkwardly just a few weeks before millions of pounds of turkey are devoured by Americans, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson will lead an animated revolution to go back in time and “take turkeys off the menu.” TOO SOON. The trailer shows lots of good family fun, and enough jokes for adults to enjoy it as well. It looks worth checking out, but with all the other juggernaut films coming out the next few days, it might have served well to come out a little closer to Thanksgiving. Here’s to hoping their plan works!
November 1 – Last Vegas
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, 50 Cent
Imagine Hangover forty years later. Seriously, that’s about it; it’s a little shallow, but with the star-power that comes with this movie, there should be enough momentum to carry it. Aimed towards a different demographic, expect a lot of old people jokes. Actually, that’s really all you should expect. It’s also time that I accept that Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro are officially old. The scene with Morgan Freeman gathering the courage to jump out of his bedroom window is, and always be, hysterical. Again, with all these action epics out this month, I don’t expect this movie to do well, but will probably be worth a Netflix rental.
The Armstrong Lie begins with a humble story. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, enamored with the story of Lance Armstrong, was filming an inspiring documentary about the miracle comeback of an American cyclist. Of course, it ended up being too good to be true, as Armstrong was juicing/doping/whatever. So instead of calling it a day, Gibney gave Lance two middle fingers and decided to turn the positive documentary into one shaming him (although, I don’t know how much more shaming could be done). It’s a documentary I wish ESPN: 30 for 30 would have done, but I’m intrigued nonetheless.
November 8 – Thor: The Dark World
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba
Here comes Thor! It’s been a while since his forgettable movie debut, but the buzz from The Avengers is keeping this character in the spotlight for the time being. Chris Hemsworth does a convincing job as the Thunder God, but we will need more than just GC’ed monsters and backgrounds to make this a good film. The chemistry, as violent as it is, between Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is among the best in all the comic book movies. Odin willing, there is enough substance in the story and supporting acting for this film to give Thor the props he deserves.
November 15 – The Book Thief
Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
The Book Thief is one of the best young adult novels to come out in recent years. It can seem a little daunting to read because it has 500+ pages, but so do most of the Harry Potter books. The Book Thief is so stellar because it is easy to read, yet incredibly thought provoking. Narrated by Death, we follow a little girl named Liesel who is a German girl growing up under the Hitler regime. She and her adoptive family are harboring a young Jewish man. Liesel works around the town and steals books for she and her Jewish friend, Max to read. Like many wartime stories, especially of such a heavy nature, it can be expected to cry a bit. I highly recommend seeing this film if it has any resemblance to the book.
November 15 – The Wolf of Wall Street
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau
**UPDATE: It was just confirmed Tuesday that the film would be pushed back to Christmas Day so that Scorsese could kill some babies and try to get it from an NC-17 rating down to an R rating. Sad times, but a great Christmas movie awaits us.**
November 22 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland
Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with the film adaptation of the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy. And I’m sorry to still harp on this, but why does Peeta still have BOTH LEGS?! Ok, ok, moving on. I loved that the previews for Catching FIre only allowed us a glimpse of the Victory Tour for Katniss and Peeta, because it purposefully left out the second half of the book. I’ll leave it a mystery here, in case you don’t know what happens to our heroine, but I’ll say that it will be worth it to meet a character named Finnick O’Dair, a winner of a previous Hunger Game. Eeekkk…. nerd girl moment, here I come on November 22!
November 22 – Delivery Man
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt
It’s pretty hard for me to turn down a movie with Vince Vaughn. In Delivery Man, Vaughn plays a man who learns he is the father to several hundred children due to a mix-up at a sperm bank. He makes it his mission to have a little part in his kids lives. The movie is a remake of a French film named Starbuck. In time for the holiday season, the comedy with a little bit of a risque theme will most likely be the feel good movie of the month.
November 27 – Frozen
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Johnathan Groff, Alan Tudyk
The previews for Disney Animated’s Frozen were so creative because they were little short films before the actual movie. In fact, the first time I saw a preview this summer, I thought it was a short before the film. The story is about a girl named Anna (Kristen Bell) who is on the search for her sister who has turned the kingdom into a permanent Winterland. With the help of some wintertime friends, Anna embarks on her adventure. The movie looks super cute and will be the perfect way to start the winter season.
November 27 – Oldboy
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson,
A movie that is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film that is based off a 1996 Japanese manga that stars Josh Brolin. It’s also directed by Spike Lee. Brolin plays a man captured and held prisoner, then forced to watch news update that pin him as the murderer of his wife (surprise!). For twenty years, he watches the world go by from his solitary confinement. Just when he begins to grow a Merlin-scale beard, he is released into the world. From there, it looks like a lot of crazy ensues, and he has sex with hot women and kills a lot of people. The preview kinda made me sad, as I realized that Brolin could easily play a Dark Knight Returns style Bruce Wayne (no knock to Affleck). The biggest story here isn’t going to be Brolin, though, it will be to see if Spike Lee still has the juice. Lee hasn’t really directed a good movie since 2006’s Inside Man and everybody expects big things from everything he puts out.
November 27 – Homefront
Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth
Yet another book-to-movie adaptation of Chuck Logan’s book of the same name, Homefront stars Jason Statham (sidenote: thank God, because it’s been almost six months since I’ve seen Statham shoot anybody in a movie and I was beginning to go through withdrawals) as an undercover DEA agent who is harrassed because his daughter beat the crap out of a bully that happened to be the son of a meth kingpin, named Gator. Gator, played by James Franco, is not Heisenberg. He is a sloppy redneck, and I’m sure there is some elaborate speech where he tells us why his name is Gator. I can guarantee a large body count on Statham’s behalf, and creepily good acting by Franco, but it’s Winona Ryder that will steal the show…. too soon? Anyway, it will be a pretty good movie, but expect a pretty formulaic Statham movie.
November 29 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris,
Finally, Idris Elba gets his first solo starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see The Wire’s Stringer Bell play Nelson Mandela – and not the South African rugby team (Invictus), not the
Finally, Idris Elba gets his first starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see Elba play Nelson Mandela. And it’s not as the head of the South African rugby team, it’s the man behind the revolution. This movie should give Elba much needed respect. Although I am bit concerned, as his trademark mustache was not casted for the part, I am glad that this is not a gimmicky portrayal to portray the freedom fighter; actually, this story is based off of Mandela’s own auto-biography. Cue K’Naan’s “Waving Flag;” it’s a wrap!
This month’s list brings us:
10 based off a true story or book to movie adaptations or sequels
3 “original” ideas
Join us next month, as we cover some of this year’s most anticipated films. Action, mayhem and wonder await us in December. Any other movies you are interested in that we did not cover this month? Let us know!
Genre – Scif-fi, Action
Director – Guillermo del Toro
Cast – Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi
Alluring element – Giant robots vs. giant monsters…come on…
Check it out if you liked – Transformers, Jurassic Park, Neon Genesis Evangelion (Anime)
Suit up Hush fans!! Tryouts have officially started. “Tryouts for what?” you ask! I’m on the hunt for my neural handshake partner. “What’s a neural handshake?” you ask . For those of you that have already seen Pacific Rim – no explanation is required. For those of you who haven’t (…WHY HAVEN’T YOU!!…) I will explain. A neural handshake is the method by which two individuals dive into one another’s minds and memories facilitated and for the purpose of piloting the most bad-ass invention ever thought up by humans – a 250 foot, two-thousand ton, plasma gun wielding combat robot. A Jaeger. “What’s a Jaeger for?” you ask (you’re full of questions today, aren’t you?). Well, what else is a giant battle-bot good for besides fighting monsters the size of skyscrapers. Kaiju, is what they’re called. So, like I said, tryouts are here and I’m sure there’s already a line outside my door. While you make your way to that line, let me tell you why Pacific Rim may be the best movie you’ll see all summer.
Pacific Rim gets to it right off the bat. The film starts with a brief recounting of the worlds first Kaiju encounter. Narrated by the main character, Raleigh Becket (Hunnam), viewers are flashed images of the beast taking down the Golden Gate bridge, F-15’s being swatted out of the air like they were mosquitoes, humble citizens frantically fleeing (Godzilla style), and endless amounts of destruction until finally the Kaiju is downed by all the human race has to throw at it. After taking down one hulking monster from the sea, another one appears some months later. This time on the other side of the world, Hong Kong. After more death, destruction and a slow, nearly unachievable take down of this new terror from the pacific ocean, the people of earth realize that “this wasn’t going to stop.” So naturally, the pacific nations united, bringing together all the coolest scientists, engineers and video game experts (I assume…) and tasked them with creating “monsters of our own…” The Jaeger program is born. While building the walking ninja-mechs was simple enough, what proved to be the biggest obstacle in making the Jaeger’s feasible was finding pilots to guide the man-made beasts into battle. A Jaeger is only as effective as its driver. If one was going to hand a Kaiju’s ass back to him, they had to be able to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Miyagi in real life (the gamers wept at this news). Not only that, but the neurological strain on solo pilots proved to be too overwhelming for sustainable implementation. This is where neural handshakes are important. Instead of one brain to pilot a Jaeger, two would be used. But for ultimate effectiveness paired pilots have to be “compatible.” Not just any two people can share all their thoughts, desires, memories, fears, and emotions and still karate chop Kaiju in the face. Eventually the humans finally got it down, and before you know it, the pacific coast became the new battle-royale arena. That’s where the movies starts and it only gets better from there.
Pacific Rim does an above and beyond job as far as sci-fi and action movies go. By not wasting any time on deliberate build-up or complex plots (but having just enough to carry the story along) the audience is sucked right in from the get-go. It was clear that del Toro and crew understood what aspects fans would be drawn to and they did an excellent job of highlighting them. I’d wager that more than 50% of screen time included either or both Jaeger and Kaiju. Watching the pilot loading process, or Jaeger maintenance and transportation, or Kaiju dissection is so enthralling and entertaining it’s surprising. The scenes between major confrontations are well spent on developing characters and plot with only marginal amounts of that dragging-along feeling. This is especially noteworthy considering the main sequences are larger than life and truly spectacular battles between machines and monsters. Each cast member plays a pivotal role. Each has layers that peel back over the course of the movie. None of it is cliche and all of it makes for very entertaining moments. I especially loved the banter between the two head scientists (portrayed by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) as they theorize why and how the Kaiju are attacking. Idris Elba never fails to deliver a smooth, yet in your face performance of a hardened and passionate leader. Miss Mori’s (Kikuchi) layers are especially epic and very chilling.
Combine all the greatness of the in-between and it still doesn’t come close to Jaeger vs. Kaiju battles (which is how it should be). These sequences were damn near perfect. Anticipation builds to boiling levels every time a show down is imminent. When the bell dings and the lumbering giants charge the rush is practically orgasmic. Each battle holds new surprises. Jaeger’s all have different abilities and weapons, Kaiju adapt and “learn” from previous battles, environment and landscapes vary. The epic-ness is consistently epic. The details in these scenes are icing on top of the cake (your favorite icing, I might add). When a giant robot fist swings and misses it’s intended target (a giant monster’s throat) and careens into the adjacent office building, slamming halfway across a single floor stopping at just the right point and with just the right amount of force to start the pendulum effect of a Newton’s cradle desk ornament is applause worthy. Speaking of punching office buildings… The collateral damage in this movie makes Man of Steel look like a glass of spilled milk. My only grievances with this movie are the sometimes hard to follow cinematography during fights and the “dinosaur” plot twist. Not really a twist, just an unnecessary and distracting element that doesn’t even constitute deeper thought. All in all, Pacific Rim nailed it.
I could write all day about how impressed I was with various aspects of Pacific Rim. This film struck a prominent cord within me and resonated so deeply with what I love about the genre that it’s taken me two weeks just to write this review for fear of leaving something important or awesome out of it. Don’t be mislead by the overall rating I’ve given Pacific Rim. Strict adherence to the grading criteria and personal principles indicates this movie is pretty freakin’ sweet with a rank of 85%. On a very personal level, this film is much closer to 95% for me. It will go down as one of my all time favorite films. I can’t wait to see this movie again and gawk at the shear and pure awesomeness that is Pacific Rim. Please, please, please do not miss this film while it’s in theaters. It may not be the best movie you see all summer, but I’d be willing to bet you a movie ticket that it is probably the funnest movie you’ll see all summer (if not, all year). Now, if you’ll all excuse me – I have tryouts to attend to.