Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekend Update: 1st Week of May

This weekend is more May than April, so it technically counts as the first week of May. Given that, it's not going to be nearly as big as the same weekend last year when X-Men Origins: Wolverine came out. This time around we have the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, starring Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), and given the fact that it's a horror remake I don't have really high expectations for the quality of the film.

However, I still think that it should bring in a decent hunk of cash this weekend, probably a little over $40 million. It needs to bring in what it can before Iron Man 2 comes a quelches the competition. The only other release this weekend is Furry Vengeance, and as somebody I trust deeply once told me, "If you see this movie, God will come down and punch you in the neck." I deeply hope it gets less than $5 million so that everyone will know this selboring fact.

The Dark Knight Sequel has a Release Date!!!!

After what has seemed like a lifetime, Warner Bros. has finally announced a release date for the third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman series. After Chris Nolan took to making Inception, I was worried that that would be the end for the beloved franchise. Usually with a film that makes as much money as The Dark Knight did, they greenlight a sequel almost immediately.

Reasons for the wait could be Nolan trying to figure out a direction to go in after his main villain was killed off (in real life that is), or that he just wanted to do something else at that time. Either way, things now seem like they're coming a lot quicker, with the film set for release on July 20th, 2012. Are you as excited that the film is finally on its way as I am? Do you wish it would come sooner? Please comment below!

Fringe: Brown Betty

Fringe has been on a roll lately with several great episodes in a row, and given the circumstances this episode at first seemed like a failure. They've been advertising this episode as a musical for a long time and that certainly raised expectations, but there wasn't too much music in this episode. Brown Betty was ultimately an episode used for comic relief among the darker, more grisly terrain Fringe has been stepping through lately.

Olivia is busy trying to find Peter, and Walter and Astrid have to take care of Ella. Walter, while under the influence of a potent drug, tells Ella a detective story featuring the same characters from the show, but in a slightly exagerated light.

Olivia is a hard-boiled 40's-era detective, Peter is as ambiguous as he's ever been, and Walter is just as evil as he percieves himself to be, which is pretty damn evil. They're all tangled in this musical noir style adventure that may be familiar, but isn't any less good.

I was at first a little disappointed by the minimal amount of music in the episode, but after watching it through a second time I was able to move past it and enjoy the episode for what it was. Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, and Akiva Goldsman delivered their funniest script yet, while still retaining an emotionally touching quality to it.

The musical score was much better than usual, leading me to believe it was done primarily by Michael Giacchino, and not Chris Tilton who has taken over most of the score duties. The episode also does a great job at incorporating several aspects of the show into it, including Rachel, the vessel from The Arrival, the Observers, John Scott, Brandon, and Leonard Nimoy's William Bell, who inhabits an alternate reality in which he is computer generated. Overall this was a hugely enjoyable episode, and I hope that next season they try their hand at a similar episode.

The Final Touch: As Walter and Astrid go home, The Observer calls someone up, telling him that due to Walter's memory loss, he doesn't remember his warning. Hopefully we find out more about this moment in the future.

8.7 out of 10

Thursday, April 29, 2010

J.J. Abrams channeling Spielberg for next project!

It's hard for me accept J.H. Abrams taking on a project that isn't Star Trek 2 right now, but at any other time I'd still be skeptical of this move. J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe) has recently announced that his next project is something of a tribute to Stephen Spielberg films of the 70's and 80's. It'll likely be low-budget, but focusing on "ordinary people who are thrown up against extraordinarily fantastic - and possibly other-worldly - events." It does sound like every Stephen Spielberg film of that era. It also sounds like most fantasy films these days.

I'll have to wait and see what path this film takes, but J.J. Abrams has always been great at creating and executing interesting, and original stories. Production should begin in the early fall. In other Abrams related news, the musical noir episode of Fringe airs tonight, and if the previews are any indication, it's definitely going to be something else.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bill Condon Directing Twilight: Breaking Dawn

As has beem rumored for some time now, Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) has officially signed on to direct the two-part finale of the Twilight Saga, known as Breaking Dawn. I'd say this is great news because he's such a great director, but in all honesty nobody can save this franchise from being the horrific mess it is. They could announce that Christopher Nolan was going to adapt the film and I still wouldn't care. Twilight is as unnecessary as the third season of Heroes. And the fourth season Heroes. And next year, the fifth season of Heroes.

At some point I'm going to make a list of unnecessary media franchises.

Glee: Home Review

After the returning triumph of Hell-O, and the amazing Power of Madonna, Glee takes things down a bit for a more emotional installment with Home. The episode basically covers three different plots strings. Will reuniting with April Rhodes (Kristen Chenowyth) and dealing with everything that comes with her, Mercedes suffering a crisis of self-image via Sue Sylvester, and Finn and Kurt's parents' budding romance causing awkwardness for both of them.

Kristen Chenowyth's return, while fun and entertaining as always, didn't really serve the story so much. Given Glee's unpredictable nature, whenever April Rhodes is onscreen I have a feeling that at the end of the episode she's going to kill herself. If this is the end for her, then I'm glad it ended with such lightly dark comic moment. Will Schuester has really been slutting it up lately with Emma, April, and Idina Menzel, and I'm starting to wonder if it's all disrupting his teaching ability for the glee club.

Perhaps Will needs somebody important in his life to get his shit back together. Then we get to Mercedes' vendetta which really brings forward one of the core themes of the show: equality, and being comfortable with who you are. I'm also enjoying how much more likable Quinn is becoming now that she's no longer a cheerio. But one of the things that I couldn't stop thinking about with this part of the show is how much Mercedes is like Precious. It may just be that their last names are both Jones.

Despite the deficiencies of the other two plot points, the Finn-Kurt storyline definitely brought the episode back up to the standard it usually exists at. We really get a better idea of Finn's relationship with the father he never really knew, and it was all really sweet. What made the story heartbreaking was Kurt's role in the whole thing. We see his plan backfire and his relationship with his father start to crumble and the look on his face at the end will just take you to pieces. This may not be the best episode of Glee, but it's the most emotionally heart-throbbing.

8 out of 10.

Trailer Tuesday: The Last Airbender, Eclipse

We got quite a few new trailers for summer blockbusters this week so lets start with the new trailer for The Last Airbender. I'm really divided on this film, not because I'm unsure if it's going to be good, but because it visually looks amazing, but the script deficiencies show even in the trailers. M. Night Shyamalan may not be a bad director (I think he is, but I'll move past that), but he is a terrible writer, which has condemned most of the films he's released recently (The Happening). I may catch this film just to enjoy the rich visual effects, but one can definitely expect something more in the vein of Transformers than Star Trek. Here's the trailer:

Next is the final trailer for Eclipse, the third installment in the Twilight saga. I'm really glad that after all this time (by that I mean, two years), the series is finally winding down, and in maybe a year and a half we won't have to deal with it anymore. I will be enraged if it turns out that the final film releases in the same time period as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 but I won't start worrying until I hear the news.

In regards to the trailer, I have a problem believing it's the "final" one. The trailer doesn't touch on the romantic triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob. I'm not complaining, because it's a brilliant marketing strategy, but I know that the film will touch heavily on that specific story element anyway. Either way, the action in the film isn't too good either, so I'm not at all excited for this outing. Here's the link for said trailer:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

3 to see in May!

3. Babies

I'm back to three films, because two films doesn't quite do it. After seeing what film is at #3, you might think otherwise, but I don't. I'm not usually one to go for documentary films that do more observing than narrating (Oceans), the trailer for this film was probably the cutest trailer for a film to ever release. As with any of the films at this spot of the list, I wouldn't say you have to rush out to the theatres to see this, but if you're rich and pretentious, you can probably afford to see it and have a great time. I am not rich, so don't expect a review for it anytime soon.

2. Robin Hood

Ridley Scott is one of those hired gun directors who doesn't so much conceive the story as he does execute it, and we know he's great at that. It's where the script comes into play that his pieces lack originality, and Robin Hood is no exception. From what we've seen of the film, it seems like a typical, over-used fusion of Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven. But seeing as Ridley Scott directed both of those perfectly, I'll forgive it. I don't expect this film to be this year's The Dark Knight, but still probably a decent actioner.

1. Iron Man 2

This has been, and will always be the most anticipated film of this month, despite how good or bad it will be. Recently they've started releasing reviews for the upcoming sequel to Iron Man, and while most don't go so far as saying it's bad, they definitely don't state it as surpassing the first, let alone meeting the quality of the first. I personally have no fear at hearing this news, and how it will affect box-office prospects for the film.

Last year Transformers 2 was completely bashed by critics, but it still went on to be the second highest grossing film of the year, and for me at the very least, one of the most entertaining. So even if critics react similarly to Iron Man 2, I have no fear. It may not be the Oscar possibility I had hoped for, but it will do.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Final Destination Signs on Writer for Fifth

In the immortal words of George Carlin, "all destinations are final. That's what it means. Destiny; final." Apparently the producers behind the Final Destination franchise haven't figured that out yet. If they had they wouldn't have just signed Eric Heisserer (The Thing Prequel) on to write a fifth installment. I don't understand film studios' need to continue horror franchises that aren't successful anymore. It just seems irrational in this economy. Then again if film studios were rational they wouldn't fund a $300+ million film based on an awful script (Avatar).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Box Office Report: 'Dragon' kills 'The Back-up Plan'

It looks like people took my advice and for the most part, avoided the cineplex's this weekend. It was still a decent weekend at the box-office. How to Train Your Dragon came out on top on its fifth weekend in theatres with $15 million, beating The Back-up Plan which mustered up only $12 million on its first weekend. Kick-Ass took a steep 50% drop from last weekend, bring in just under $10 million, and making box-office prospects for the rest of its run bleak. The Losers did slightly better, bring in $100,000 more than Kick-Ass, but ultimately still a weak opening.

The rest of the films took modest drops from last weekend, with Date Night bringing in $11 million, and Clash of the Titans taking away $9 million for the weekend. Expect box office results for next weekend to be more promising with the release of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

PotterWatch (1 of 77): Who Should Compose Deathly Hallows: Part 2?

A few months ago it was announced that Alexandre Desplat (The Queen, Fantastic Mr. Fox) would compose the score for the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but they did not reveal if he would be scoring the second part as well. Personally, I believe he'll do a great job with Part 1, because from what we've heard so far, the first part is a more intimate story, focusing specifically on the relationship between our main trio, and Desplat has already proved himself to be great at that.

Now, I'm doubtless that if he did Part 2, it would still turn out great, but if he was going to score both parts they wouldn't have said just Part 1. So it can be assumed that they're going with someone else for Part 2. The obvious choice to many would probably be John Williams, because he composed the first three film, as well as the often reused Hedwigs theme. However, that does make one wonder why they didn't hire him to do Part 1 as well.

So if we were to look at other potential composers, who would be best to musically illustrate the epic second part. The first one that comes to mind is Michael Giacchino (Up, Star Trek), because he's shown on countless occasions that he knows how to effectively score an amazing action sequence. Another composer who'd do great is Hans Zimmer (Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight), who's good at dealing with dark subject matter, and the films have definitely been getting darker. But those are just a few ideas. Who do you believe would be best to score Deathly Hallows: Part 2? I want to know what you think. And yes, I plan to do 77 of these posts between now and the release of Part 2. It's a huge undertaking, and I'd like to give the sense that these films are actually coming soon.

Weekend Update: 4th Week of April

Once again, we have another filler weekend before being thrust into the summer movie season, so I'd suggest avoiding the theatres completely. The Losers looks like every single other joke-of-an-action-flick, ala G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, so skip that, and expect it to get around $10 million this weekend. Then there's The Back-Up Plan which no human being in their right mind could possibly go into believing it could possibly be good, so don't go there, and expect it to get as much as The Losers this weekend.

Oceans came out yesterday, but it isn't really special enough to go and see in the theatres. Take my word for it, and don't see it. It'll probably bring in $5-7 million this weekend. If you really, really want to see a movie this weekend, I suggest revisiting Kick-Ass, or How to Train Your Dragon. Otherwise, just stay at home, and watch whatever you've got there. Wait until next weekend, when Nightmare on Elm Street comes out, or the weekend after when Iron Man 2 arrives.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Oceans Review

I understand that Disneynature releases all its films on Earth Day so that they can get people to care about the planet, but their latest just comes short of doing that. Oceans is a sympathetic, kind-hearted look at only a fraction of the undersea life that resides on this planet. While they do focus on some creatures many are not likely to have heard of before, the execution of these scenes is very much at fault.

The draw for this film is the visuals, and they are quite beautiful. At times I was wondering how they managed to achieve the shots they did without alerting the creatures to their presence. While the images are breathtaking, the narrative leaves something to be desired. As is the problem with many nature documentaries, Oceans struggles to find straight line to follow structurally. It hops back and forth to different locations, and when the ending comes you start to wonder if the film was too short.

Oceans relies too heavily on the visuals, and doesn't offer enough information, or narration to justify the relatively short 90-minute run time. While it's a nice film to pass time on a boring afternoon, it definitely isn't worth the price of admission, and is better left alone until the DVD release.


Monsters, Inc. 2 is officially on its way!!

I'm starting to wonder if it's a rule at Pixar to not make sequels to all its great films for at least a decade (I exclude Cars, because it's not a great Pixar film). Well after all this time they've announced that they're finally going through with a sequel to Monsters, Inc. to be released in November of 2012. The sequel is unlikely to be directed by Pete Doctor, who directed the first film and is currently working on an original project with Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine).

Other upcoming projects from the acclaimed company include Cars 2 in 2011, and Brave (formerly titled The Bear and the Bow), Newt, and the previously mentioned Monsters Inc. 2 in 2012. I can't be sure of how adept Pixar is at making great sequels to their films, seeing as the last one came over 10 years ago, and the next one isn't coming for another 2 months. I still have faith that Pixar will deliver as they always have. What is your opinion of this news? Are there any other Pixar films you'd like to receive the sequel treatment? Please leave comments below.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fringe: The Man from the Other Side Review

The bulk of the second season of Fringe has been building the tension between our universe and the other side, and building the mystery behind Peter's past. Now the secret's out, and it's as devastating as we've hoped it would be. But as with any Fringe episode, there is a bigger story behind the emotion. When two teenagers are murder at an abandoned warehouse, the fringe division comes to find a shapeshifting embryo.

The episode then takes on multiple storylines, with shapeshifters working to put devices into place so they can pull a bridge to our side, and with our main team working to stop them, all while Walter deals with telling Peter the truth of where he came from. Ultimately he misses the chance to do it as he had hoped to, and Peter discovers the truth in the worst way. He figures it out on his own. There are quite a few terrifying moments in the episode that prove the show hasn't lost it's ability to gross us out profusely.

The visual effects of this episode are spectacular, and give just the right feeling of terror in their respective moments. The acting from Joshua Jackson and John Noble in the confrontation between Peter and Walter at the end is superb, and it's a really heartbreaking moment. It would've been truly amazing if they hadn't spoiled the scene in the previews. Olivia isn't the focus in this episode, and I often get the feeling that she really isn't too important to the overall series, despite being the main character. Ultimately the main draw for the series is the sci-fi action, and the complex relationship between Peter and Walter, and the episode is high point for both of those.
9.6 out of 10

UPDATED! Green Hornet delayed for 3D conversion

I understand that 3D is the big thing in the bussiness right now, but this is getting ridiculous. Sony has decided to delay the release of Seth Rogen's adaptation of The Green Hornet to January 2011, so they can convert the film into 3D. As I've said before and am not likely to stop saying, I love 3D. However, from what I've seen and heard, Green Hornet is largely a comedy with action elements.

3D is good device to use for animation and visual effects driven films, but this isn't one of those. It's almost like converting Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire into 3D. It's just unnescessary, and I'm worried that's the way the industry is going. What are your opinions of this? Is it too soon to tell how it will turn out? Are you willing to spend an extra $5 to see Seth Rogen in an new dimension? Please leave your comments below.
UPDATE! Paramount will also apparently be taking the 3D conversion route with their upcoming demonic freak of nature The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. I thought it deserved to be mentioned in this article.

Friday the 13th: Part 2 is "Dead"

It's always refreshing when a once great, but no longer good horror franchise is at last discontinued. Today is one of those days. Producer Brad Fuller announced via twitter that the next installment of the Friday the 13th franchise was "dead." Just more than a week away from the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street remake, one can't help but wonder if it will meet a similar fate. For more news on the story, visit Shock Till You Drop at the following link:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Glee: The Power of Madonna Review

I was really worried that Glee wouldn't maintain the momentum it had after Hell-O last week, but The Power of Madonna effectively showed that the quality of Glee is here to stay. This weeks episode really pushes forward the plot from last episode. Where other shows would wait to develop these aspects, Glee obviously has a lot of ground to cover and wastes no time getting there.

Sue Sylvester unleashes Madonna upon McKinley High in order to pay homage to the woman who shaped her as she is today. Will is inspired by Sue's efforts, and uses Madonna to teach the guys in the glee club to respect the women better. We learn a little bit more about Sue, like the fact that she's actually 29 (and quite obviously didn't age well), and we get a kind of huge development involving Vocal Adrenaline's Jesse St. James.

Overall this was a better episode than Hell-O, and if Glee can keep it up through the rest of the season they may have an Emmy win in their future. Jane Lynch is hilarious as usual, and adds a tiny bit of emotion to her character. The whole Jesse/Rachel relationship continues to confuse me. I keep wondering if Jesse would really go so far as leaving Vocal Adrenaline in order for Vocal Adrenaline to win. Then I remembered that this is Glee, and logic isn't a necessity in their lives.

All of the songs in this episode are phenomenal, most especially Vogue, and Like a Prayer. I can see why Madonna loved this episode, aside from the fact that she's the main focus of it. Like a Virgin was a very interesting and well choreographed sequence, but it's sad that Finn lost his innocence (Finnocence?) in that way. It'll be pretty damn funny and interesting if Santana gets preggers from it. Can't wait for next week when Kristen Chenowyth returns.

9.3 out of 10

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Glee: Hell-O Review

There are only two shows that I follow and analyze to the point of obsession: Fringe and Glee. Had it not been as busy a week as it was I would've turned in a review much earlier, but I thought it best to delay it until now. So the show left off with Will and Emma finally getting together in extremely romantic musical fashion, Finn breaking up with Quinn after finding out about the whole pregnancy scandal, Sue Sylvester getting suspended, and the glee club winning sectionals. So now that they're back what could they possibly do to continue the series any further? Put simply, demolish all the hopes and dreams created after the winter finale.
Since football season ended, Finn has taken up basketball, but still hasn't quite recovered from the whole Quinn thing. Rachel is finally with Finn, but is being kind of high maintenance with their relationship. Will and Emma are finally together, but having trouble developing their relationship after both of their recent romantic failures. Then Will discovers that in order for glee club to continue on, they have to place at regionals where they have to go up against the undefeated vocal adrenaline. And perhaps the greatest news of all, Sue Sylvester is back to her usual schemes.

There was plenty of emotional drama and development this week, much of which was used as an umbrella for hysterical scenes, and fun musical numbers. More than ever, Glee is feeling like an actual musical, and it's really working for them. The actors have all settled nicely into their roles, and can finally flex their acting muscles. Jane Lynch delivers plenty of great one-liners, but it was nice to see her minions Santana and Britney take on a larger role, and finally get their chance to shine ("Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?").

The writers have also thrown some new characters into the mix, namely Idina Menzel as the head of vocal adrenaline, Shelby Corcoran. She does a good job of dropping some reality on Will and Emma's budding romance, but it seemed like it was just too easy for her to seduce Will. Maybe I'm just underestimating how attractive she is. Overall this was an extremely well written and executed episode, and it certainly paves the way for the rest of this season. I'm really looking forward to tonight's Madonna episode, so don't expect me to wait too long to do the next Glee review.

8.8 out of 10

Here's the link for the episode on Hulu:

Trailer Tuesday: Get Low, Beastly

Of the two new trailers this week, one could possibly be up for a few Oscars come awards season, and it's exactly the one you think it is. Lets start with the other one though: Beastly. Geared as a modern day Beauty and the Beast, the plot is more or less exactly the same, except less important. It may be just my compulsive hate of Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), or it may be that they don't show Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) nearly enough in this trailer to actually have you invested in the movie. I just have no faith in this film. Here's the link for the trailer, but take my advice, and don't follow it:

The next film is a little bit further off, but far more worth the wait. Get Low, starring Robert Duvall (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), and Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Rushmore), is about an old hermit in Tennessee who plans a funeral party while he's still alive so he can go. The film was revealed at Toronto film festival last year to a standing ovation, after which it was pushed back half a year to this summer. If this film actually turns out to be completely awful, they've done a good job of concealing it here, and we may be seeing another Oscar nomination for Robert Duvall sometime soon. Here's the link for the trailer:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Next Bond film postponed indefinitely!

I'm getting really tired of waiting for Bond 23, after all the hype that's been surrounding it, and this news certainly doesn't make me feel any better. The producers of the James Bond franchise have decided to postpone the next film in the series indefinitely, depending on the outcome of the prolonged sale of MGM. I hate the use of the word indefitely, because most films that are postponed indefinitely never happen. So this news could possibly spell the end for the longest running on screen franchise in history.

It also makes me wonder what other films could be endangered by this massive decision. The Hobbit has slowly been getting set up under MGM, and we've waited a ridiculously long time for that to come along. If we hear news that that is being postponed indefinitely, just take it to mean forever. Bury your hopes for an adaptation of The Hobbit, and perhaps another James Bond film, because if both of those are pushed to the back-burner it's most likely the end for both of them. The future is bleak.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Box Office Report: 'Kick-Ass' flounders; 'Dragon' conquers

Kick-Ass didn't do nearly as well as expected this weekend, bringing in just over $19 million. Even more surprisingly, How to Train Your Dragon came out on top this weekend with less than $250,000 more than Kick-Ass. These estimates could easily change tomorrow, depending on how much postitive word of mouth traveled this weekend. What is certain is that if Kick-Ass hopes for a sequel to be announced then it will have to fight for it in the coming weeks.

As for the other releases, Date Night dropped 31% from it's opening, managing to edge out Death at a Funeral which opening at $17 million. Clash of the Titans continued it's downward trend, taking in less than $16 million this weekend. All other releases brought in less than $6 million, making this weekend less successful than the same weekend last year.

2010 Trimester 1 Report

We're already four months into the year, and we're only just beginning to touch on the good films of this year. January offered absolutely nothing special, and the only film that could be classified as good was Daybreakers. Then February came around the corner and gave us awful romantic comedies (Valentines Day), failed attempts at Harry Potter (Percy Jackson and the Whatever), and some good psychological thrillers (Shutter Island). Once March dawned upon us, we finally got a decent look at the potential of this year's films.
Alice in Wonderland may not have been the spectacle we all hoped for, but it touched the right crowd, and captured much of the 3D hype following Avatar. After opening to over $100 million, it grew just enough legs to push past the $300 million mark, previously unheard of from a film released so early in the year. Then after a few weeks of inconsequential films, 3D's playability really got a run for it's money. Just after movie theatres upped the prices for 3D movies, How to Train Your Dragon debuted, with a smaller than hoped for $42 million.
While not as high as estimates put it, Dragon definitely benefited from positive reviews and word of mouth, and may grind out a profit in the coming weeks. The following week 3D continued its run of false promises with Clash of the Titans. The film had a lot of excitement going for it and it should have opened somewhere in the range of $90 million. The opening total of $61 million could be blamed on bad reviews, and word of mouth, competition in the 3D market, and a failure to deliver on the 3D affects.

Last week Date Night came close to conquering Titans, but was edged out by a small amount. This weekend it should have no trouble trumping Clash, but considerably more trouble with Kick-Ass entering on a wave of hype and critical praise. We'll find out later today just how well the film played out.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kick-Ass Review

The Zombieland of 2010 arrives this weekend in the form of Kick-Ass. When I caught wind of this film and how wonderful early test screenings played, the first thought that came to my mind was that it couldn't possibly be that good. I was right, but it's still one hell of a good ride. The film doesn't meet up to the ridiculously high expectations, but that doesn't detract from the quality of the film much. There are plenty of flaws in the production, but the film survives them because it's good for the right reasons.

Kick-Ass is about Dave Lizewski, an average kid with no superpowers, no tragic family death, and nothing that typically leads to one becoming a superhero. Put simply, he becomes a superhero because he wants to be the first. It automatically propells him into a world of brutal drug dealers, and even more violent vigilante superheroes. The first gripe some will have with the film is that Kick-Ass isn't the most interesting thing in this movie. I would have a problem with it if they didn't intend to have it that way, but they did.

Lizewski is meant to be a total wuss, and nobody would be surprised if it turned out he was gay. He doesn't have the same determination that Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) have, and he really isn't that good at crime fighting. The film really does belong to Hit Girl, the murderous, profane 11 year old superhero. She makes her grand entrance in an fun, energetic action sequence set to the theme of the Banana Splits. She is the embodiment of everything Dave wishes he could be, but just isn't. Many have said that because of her character they wouldn't bring their kids to Kick-Ass because of her, but I'd definitely bring my kids to see this film. That is assuming I become as horrible a father as I hope I will.

The action in this movie has that comedic flair to it, because despite the violence and moral undertones of the film, this is a comedy. While it takes a while for the film to find solid narrative ground, it bides time with hilarious non-stop jokes. Then the action starts and that propels us through the second half of the film. The acting in the film ranges from solid to straight up phenomenal. Nicholas Cage, whose acting style I usually hate, gives his best performance since Leaving Las Vegas 15 years ago. Aaron Johnson does a passable job as Lizewski, mostly because he is the character.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad) is very close to leaving behind the harrowing title of McLovin. Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes) does a great as the villain, but he gets stuck with this type of role all the time that he is in danger of being typecast. Chloe Moretz (500 Days of Summer) delivers a career making performance as Hit Girl, and I'm looking forward to seeing her in the American remake of Let the Right One in. The problems I spoke of earlier are terrible cinematography, cheesy visual effects, and an overused main theme, but given the fact that the film cost only $28 million, I'm not going to dwell too much on that. Kick-Ass is more than saved by the great acting, story, screenplay, and direction.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Weekend Update: 3rd Week of April

We're almost to the summer movie season, and up until now most of the film released this year have just been filler, and awful filler at that. Still we occasionally get a film that requires our attention like the big release this weekend, Kick-Ass. Early reviews placed it as an unexpected gem of the superhero genre, but the film has recently caught some criticism from those worried that children will be negatively influenced by the onscreen profanity and violence. That's quite possibly one of the worst reasons not to like a movie.

Still don't expect huge box office from Kick-Ass this weekend, but expect it to at least cover the budget, a measly $28 million. As for the other release this weekend, Death at a Funeral, I have no respect for anyone going into that movie. My expectations are for it to get $10 million or less opening weekend. If your going to see a rated R comedy this weekend, at least try to see a good one. Other than that there doesn't seem to be much out there until next week.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fringe: White Tulip Review

One of Fringe's strangest episodes to date, White Tulip is a greatly inventive, and surprisingly enjoyable installment in the series. Written by J.H. Wyman, and Jeff Vlaming (Earthling), this episode focuses mostly on the story of Alistair Peck (Guest star Peter Weller), a man with a tragic past, and a devastating ability to jump back in time. After his ability drains the power from both the passengers, and the devices on a train, the Fringe team is called in to investigate, intertwining the two stories and pushing the plot of the series just a little bit forward.

Of the three members of our team, Walter is the main focus of the episode. Last episode left us with his decision to reveal to Peter the truth of his origins, and this episode is him trying to muster up the courage to do so. When Peck shows up, and Walter sees the similarities between the two of them, Walter pours out his soul to the man he has never met, and has every reason to kill. It's a very emotional episode on both sides of the table, and a surprising twist in the second season of the show.

Peter Weller (Robocop) gives one of the best guest performances of the series, and gives us plenty of reason to empathize with his character. He stands in brilliant contrast with Walter, and the scene between the two of them reveals plenty about Walter's view of religeon, wets our appetite for that Bishop/Bell confrontation in the finale, and adds a new dynamic to John Noble's performance throughout the entire series. If Peter didn't convince people that Noble deserves an Emmy nod, then White Tulip certainly hammered it home, and the season isn't nearly over yet.

This was certainly an improvement from last week. The makeup affects weren't the greatest, but they were better than the caked on tumors in Olivia. In the lab. with the revolver. Peck's theme includes a wonderfully jumpy violin solo, and we all know how Michael Giacchino loves his violins. Apart from Walter, there wasn't much character development, probably a good thing since they would've forgotten it by the end anyway. Given the ending to this episode, I think it's safe to say that next week will be the big unveiling we've all been waiting for.

9.2 out of 10
Follow this link to watch the episode via Hulu:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Martin Scorcese directing 'Hugo Cabret' in 3D

Martin Scorcese has done a variety of different projects in the past, but his next film may be a long stretch from what he's done most recently. The Oscar nominated director has announced that his next film will be an adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a science fiction childrens novel. I've always thought of Scorcese as a diverse film maker, but I never thought he'd actually come to this genre sanely. Perhaps Shutter Island wacked him off the looney bin.

Making this venture an even more surreal experience, Scorcese has opted to film the movie in 3D. I never thought that Scorcese of all people would take the 3D route. Then again I never thought he'd actually make a childrens movie, but I was wrong. I think it will without a doubt be an interesting and unique film, despite the fact that I don't really care about the plot presently. When the first trailer comes out I will care about the plot. This may actually turn out to be better than Scorcese's latest film.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Joss Whedon putting together 'The Avengers'

At first I was sad that Jon Favreau (Iron Man 2) wasn't going to direct The Avengers, but now I think they've found the greatest man they could to direct the project. After short lived talks of Louis Letterier (Clash of the Titans) directing the film, Joss Whedon has come out of nowhere as the triumphant director of the anticipated film that's been coming for years. So far we have only half of the group needed for the film (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk) and the other two are on their way next year (Thor, Captain America).

I'm really glad Whedon was chosen for the job because he has shown great prowess at directing all sorts of genres, and will be greatly adept at blending the comedy, sci-fi, and fantasy aspects of the characters to create a singular vision. I'm looking forward to seeing Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, and Chris Hemsworth coming together for this epic collaboration. Oh and...

Trailer Tuesday: Sex and the City 2, Paper Man, The Other Guys

It was an interesting week in movie trailers, the least of which is the Sex and the City 2 trailer. I'll probably still see it because it unfortunately looks much better than most of the films coming out. Included in this trailer is (in order) cute, but annoying rhymes, annoying monologue, babies, more monologue, a brief look at Penelope Cruz, some random guy in white, the desert (the title lied to us), evil paraphrasing of The Wizard of Oz, about 40 seconds bad jokes, some guy shows up, something happen(!), female bonding, and finally cocktails. If there's something important that I'm missing or not understanding, I don't really care. Here's the confusing trailer:

Next is a sweet little film called Paper Man, starring Jeff Daniels, Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal), Emma Stone (Superbad, Zombieland), and Lisa Kudrow. It's the story of a struggling novelist who isn't played by John Cusack, which automatically makes it different from every other film about a struggling novelist. Another cute twist is that his only friend is an imaginary superhero (Ryan Reynolds), and he starts a platonic relationship with a young girl (Emma Stone). It's a really strange story and if handled as jauntily and energetically as this trailer could go either great or mixed. The link for the trailer is here:

Finally, from the writer/director of Step Brothers comes The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as cops who... alright. I'm not that sure about what exactly the plot for this film is, but from the look of the trailer it's pretty funny. The synopsis for the film paints the characters completely different from what the trailer shows us, but that doesn't really matter. I can't complain too much about this trailer, because it's a teaser, and it has Samuel L. Jackson in it. At the very least it will be 10-times better than Cop Out. Here's the link for the trailer:

Now how long do they expect us to wait for another Inception trailer?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

'Percy Jackson' Star may be the new Spiderman

Sony seems to find content in continually pissing me off by completely ruining the Spiderman series. I personally can find no reason for them to do a reboot of such a lucrative and successful franchise. The only comfort I've had in this project is Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) being announced as the director. I still believe no good will come from this film, and I am vindicated in my beliefs by the news of who they think they'll cast as the new Peter Parker: Logan Lerman.

As per usual I would not know, or care about who this guy is if he hadn't played the title role of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Soon I can call him out as the second actor to destroy his career by playing Spiderman, and this time in a film that won't even be any good. I can't find a reason to go see this movie, because it really seems like the same movie as the first, except again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fringe: Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver. Review

After last weeks monumentally good episode, it was nice to see the writers keeping the momentum going with this episode. I wouldn't want to start watching Fringe with last nights episode though, because it relies very heavily on the mythology of the series. There are names like Intrepis Pharmaceutical, Nick Lane, and Nancy Lewis that only somebody with vast knowledge of the season 1 episodes would be able to fully comprehend. The pacing is rather slow for most of the episode, and the Clue reference in the title only takes up a short 3 minute scene.

It feels like they tried too hard to keep people excited after last week's major episode, and forgot to make the episode exciting. Still this is a quality episode with a solid, if familiar plot. The bad guy in this episode is an old cortexiphan test subject, who has the ability to infect people with his cancer. I wouldn't have been as hooked on the episode if the first person he killed wasn't Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds)! The path of the villain for this episode is much like Nick Lane's in Bad Dreams. He has this great and terrible power that he doesn't have much control over, and he wishes death upon himself rather than killing more people.

This episode also deals with the consequences of the last. Olivia's stance on the whole Peter debacle is very interesting and complex. She's knows that Peter deserves to know the truth, but at the same time she doesn't want to ruin the "awkward family unit" that she, Peter, and Walter have going so well. By the end of the episode she is able to come to terms with the fact that "some Pandora's Boxes are better left unopened", only to find that Walter has decided that it is time to tell Peter the truth. I don't think we'll be getting to that immediately next episode, but we're getting close, and the less prepared we are for when it comes the better. My Grade for Olivia. In the Lab. With the Revolver. is 8.2 out of 10.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weekend Update: 2nd Week of April

High On Celluloid is taking a short hiatus over the weekend, so I thought I'd leave you with my thoughts on this weekends releases, or rather release. The only major new film out this weekend is Steve Carell and Tina Fey's comedy Date Night. The trailers for it have been anything but irresistable, and I can't say it'll be the surprise hit of the season. I still think that it should surprise some people over the weekend. Critics aren't lining up to see it, but they don't hate it nearly as much as some of the other films released recently (Clash of the Titans, The Last Song).

Tina Fey exudes a great amount of charisma with the worst of dialogue at times, and Steve Carell can come across as a complete jerk and still be lovable. Expect their combined effort to haul in an apropriate $30 million over the weekend. Otherwise my only suggestion for this weekend is seeing How to Train Your Dragon before it leaves most of its 3-D theatres. Don't go in expecting a Pixar level masterpiece, but look forward to a better time than you're probably expecting.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

'Cowboys and Aliens' adds Harrison Ford!

I'm really tired of the preproduction phase of this film, which has been lasting an unusually long time. This film is already one of the most highly anticipated films of whatever year it comes out in. Directed by Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man), and written by Damon Lindelof (Lost), Alex Kurtzman, and Robert Orci (Star Trek, Transformers), Cowboys and Aliens has had a rough casting process. After Robert Downey Jr. was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts, he was replaced by Daniel Craig (Quantum of Solace) to star along side Olivia Wilde. Now the latest casting news places Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) in this epic Sci-fi Western. It's nice to know that work is getting done on this film. Just put it into production already!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trailer Tuesday: A-Team, Salt, The Expendables, Step Up 3D

There are quite a few trailers this week so lets get right to it with the new trailer for The A-Team. I find myself somewhat divided on this film. At one time I really want to enjoy it because of its amazingly talent cast (Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley), but then again these trailers suck. It feels kind of like a worse version of The Losers, which itself doesn't look too good but at least they gave us some semblance of a plot. With A-Team, it seems to be action and comedy simply for the sake of action and comedy which they've already tried to, and failed at doing (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). As an added note, can whoever is playing B.A. stop trying to sound like Mr. T? Here's the trailer if you want to see it:

Then there's Salt, which has somehow pulled off what I've long thought impossible: Making a film in which Angelina Jolie is not in the slightest way attractive (or at least as attractive as she usually is). Maybe it's because she is playing a role originally meant for Tom Cruise. All I know is that based on this trailer Salt is shaping up to be exactly the same as every other action movie the actress has ever done. The trailer does leave us unsure of if she is a russian spy or not. It also leaves not caring, and that's pretty much the vibe I'm getting from the trailer, which can be viewed here:

Next is the trailer for The Expendables, the long awaited action film from Sylvester Stallone. With Stallone there is never a guarantee of quality, and quite often there isn't much. The only guarantee is masculine action, and there is plenty of it here. The film focuses on a group of hired guns hired to kill an evil dictator of a South American country, and they are obviously doublecrossed. If this film only exists to get the most bad-ass actors still alive (Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Arnold Schwartzenegger) into one solid movie, I'm okay with that. This film doesn't claim to be anything that it isn't, and for that I'll probably see it. But I'll let you be the judge of this trailer:

Finally, Step Up 3D. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this film won't be good. The first two films failed to give us anything motivating, or interesting, and neither will this one. The thing that makes prospects for this film so bad is that when the other two films were released they didn't have competition with Dancing with the Stars, or So You Think You Can Dance. The only selling point of this film is 3D, and at the rate ticket prices are excellerating I don't think people will be willing to spend that much money on this:

Please leave comments on what you think of these trailers. I could definitely use a fresh set of eyes on these films.

Monday, April 5, 2010

'Saw 7' to End the 'Saw' Franchise!

In my original vision of life 20 years from now, I felt that Saw films would be made until the end of time itself. Thankfully, I was wrong. According to series writer Patrick Melton, after the sixth film in the series tanked in the box office, they decided to scrap the eighth film and fuse plot lines from it into the seventh film. So perhaps the film will offer final heart-stopping revelations along with 3D effects, and "stylized gore". I rather doubt it, but it is comforting to know that we won't be troubled by this long, trivial, and boring franchise much longer. Once Saw 7 is over, to use the term used in every one of the films: Game over.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

(Mid-)Weekend Update: 1st Week of April

Halfway through the weekend, it's already clear who the winner is at the box office. Clash of the Titans has finally hit and is faring considerably better than director Louis Letterier's last film, The Incredible Hulk. Despite bad reviews criticizing the film's poor plotting and false attempts at 3D conversion, audiences are still turning out for the action blockbuster, bringing in nearly $26 million in it's first day. Even the relatively smaller releases are raking in an honest living. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? brought in $12 million, in spite of its confusing trailers. Not to say that I'd ever consider recommending this film. Tyler Perry only ever was involved with one good film (Star Trek), so don't expect that changing any time soon.

And then there's The Last Song. I have long been saying that films like Nights in Rodante and Dear John are only attempts to capitalize on Nicholas Sparks' success with The Notebook, but The Last Song is absolute proof of it. The book only exists because Miley Cyrus wanted to star in a film like A Walk to Remember. She has that much sway in the natural course of events in the world, and it can only lead to hardship and misery. Sure the film brought in $7 million yesterday, but that doesn't mean you should continue seeing it. However if you really want to see an emotionally charged, tragic story just follow this link:

If you seriously want a definitely great film to see in theatres this weekend just go out and see How to Train Your Dragon in 3D, which I assume most of my readers haven't seen yet.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fringe: Peter Review

Fringe has finally returned after its two month hiatus (Now we just need Glee to return and life will be fully restored once more), and from everything I saw last night the next seven episodes are sure to be amazing. Just not as amazing as this episode. The episode for the most part takes place in 1985 looking back upon Walter Bishop's quest to save his dying son. It's needless to say that Walter fails, and Peter dies. But that is just the beginning, and what happens afterwards will no doubt affect the outcome of the rest of the season.

For so long the show runners have been talking about their priority on the emotion behind the secrets of Fringe instead of the secrets behind the secrets, and until now I haven't quite been convinced of this. There's not just one, but several moments during this episode that are far more powerful than any of the forced tragic mishaps of any Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Dear John, The Last Song) novel, and it's all due to the amazing central performance delivered by John Noble. I definitely see an Emmy nomination for him coming from this.

More than that this was just a beautifully heartbreaking episode, and I hope all of the secrets of the series have the same pay-off as this. The episode also sets up the inevitable reveal to Peter of the truth of his origins. And yes this episode does offer us more mysteries, such as how Walter tuned Peter in to our own reality, and whatever deal he made with the observer. It's also quite obvious to anybody that there will be consequences of what Walter did that may or may not have something to do with what's been going on this season.

No matter how unfamiliar with the series you are this episode is a must see. I'd speak about some of the problems with the episode, but I fail to find any except that after seeing this episode you may be motivated to look back at the previous episodes of the series to find something more. Michael Giacchino's score excells as it always has, and the cinematography in particular is quite stunning. The greatest talking points of Peter is its script and the actors who bring it to life. At the close of the episode Anna Torv does her best with almost no dialogue and brings across exactly what Olivia is feeling. This is the once in a lifetime episode that requires little knowledge of the existing mythology to get it's point across, and I'm convinced that anybody who sees will be moved in some way. My grade for this episode is a rare 10 out of 10 and you can see it at this link:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Paul Greengrass Taking a 'Fantastic Voyage'?

I've had little to no faith in James Cameron's decisions lately, but he may be on the brink of doing something that could partially redeem him. Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) is currently in talks to direct the remake of the scifi classic Fantastic Voyage. With Cameron on board we already know that the visual effects will be mindblowing, which may be the only thing Cameron is actually good at. Greengrass could definitely bring something more to the project. He knows how to direct extraordinary action, and can add a touch of realism to the admittedly corny story.

Whether Greengrass will except the job is questionable. Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) turned the film down because he didn't like the script written by Cameron. When Roland Emmerich doesn't like your script you know it's time for a rewrite. Optimistically that's just what will happen and we'll get another amazing action adventure from Paul Greengrass. So in other news Fringe returns tonight and offers plenty of revelations on the mysteries of Peter's origins so expect my review tomorrow morning.