Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Twylyt: E*clipz Review

Before I start, I should've realized how disappointing this experience was going to be when the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did not appear during the previews. That could've made the whole experience tolerable, but I'm not going to play around with words. So let me just get right to the point: Twilight is complete and utter bullshit. It's a strong word, but it perfectly captures my feelings on this film series. If I am ever faced with seeing any film in that series again, I'm running as far as I can away. The latest movie is a continuation of the tedious storyline that nobody cares about and nobody can empathize with. After this movie, I want to see Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson die a horrible and painful death.

Lets get to the heart of the problem. Edward is a controlling, boring, and creepy douchebag who doesn't care about Bella's free will. He commands her to do everything, and is completely wasting her life. Then again, Bella deserves it. Despite Edward forbidding her from seeing her friends, she still loves him. There's no logic behind their love. Bella doesn't really care about anybody's feelings except her own. She's self-centered, and I found myself at several points in this movie, wanting her dead.

The only character I can feel any sort of emotion for is Jacob, who should really be the main character of the movie. He goes through exactly the same boring and annoying crap that the audience goes through during the entire movie. Jacob is the audience, and Twylite is Bella, and she's leading Jacob away from something better. Jacob deserves to be happy, and he doesn't ever get it. Everything he believes, I found myself believing. I don't care about the vampires. I don't care about Bella. I just wish there was a backdoor out of this series that he could go through.

And remember that little vampire girl who was featured in a featurette and got so little screen time in the actual movie. She can't act, but she was still one of the only characters whom I didn't want to see killed. And of course, by the end of the movie, the Cullens stand by as she is brutally murdered. They don't show the death scene, probably as they were looking for the PG-13 rating. It's such a strange match, as most of the dialogue in the movie evokes a poorly conceived drama on The CW. It's as if they were writing for a kids movie, but a kids movie in which people die.

Everything else that was wrong with the first two, is still wrong with this one. There's a lot more action in this installment, but I found myself not caring about anything they were fighting for. That's worse than not having any action at all, in my opinion. The cinematography is at its worst. The only good part about it is the music, specifically Jacob's theme. Howard Shore did a good job trying to make this seem meaningful. For that, I give the movie half a star. However, I would never see this movie again, and I don't respect anybody who wants to see this movie. Just don't go to see it. You'll be glad you didn't.

D-

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thoughts on a Travesty: The Twilight Saga

I know that I'm not the only one to believe this, because the Twilight Saga is the worst film adaptation of a fantasy series in history. Lets get past the fact that the books are boring and predictable to begin with. The fault in the movies is the poor casting of people who can't act, their commitment and dedication to the books, and their lack of skill in any shape. I hate that there are actually people out there who love the Twilight series, but hate the Harry Potter series.

I'm in a fragile time in my life when the Potter gang gave me more enjoyment in 2.5 minutes, than Twilight has in four (soon to be six) hours, and if anybody dares say anything against the Potter series, they will be killed. Where Twilight fails is that it never kills off any of its good characters. That's why we can never give fully invest in the movie (besides the hammy and annoyingly predictable characters). We never feel like there is, or has ever been any credible threat.

This has me asking myself, "Why the hell am I going to see the third film at midnight?" So I can get the film out of the way as soon as possible. Then I can go back to my vastly more interesting and engaging life. It allows me to get my review for the film finished quickly. Most of all, I'd like to have the chance to speak out loud in a theatre with a ton of people in it, and not feel at all guilty about bashing the film in public. I hope to emulate the Hecklers from The Muppet Show. And so, off I go into Twylite: E*Klipz.

Trailer Tuesday: The Social Network, Red, Little Fockers

I'm still recovering from that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer that debuted last night. I don't think that a trailer has made me want to see a movie more than this one. Given that Part 1 is 5 months away, and Part 2 is a whole year away, I'm surprised how much visual effects work they've gotten finished. I hate that I have to wait so long to see how everything wraps up, because it all looks so amazing. The Harry Potter franchise hasn't always been known for being action-packed, but it makes me want to see this final installment all the more.

Now that I've worked all that excitement out of my system, I can get to talking about the other new trailers, starting with the trailer for David Fincher's The Social Network. The trailer is very ominous and doesn't really have any actual clips. It's pretty much audio snippets from the film intersperced over a collage of Jesse Eisenberg's face coming together. It gives us the idea that this will be less of a comedy, and perhaps more dramatic than we're expecting. This was a wierd trailer, and I'm still not sure what to expect from the movie.

Then we have Red, which looks like pretty much every other rated-R action spy movie that's ever been made. Proof in point, it has Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich as retired CIA agents. There isn't really much of a point to this trailer, and just from watching it, it seems cheeky, annoying, and just a waste of some perfectly great talent. This is one I'm probably going to skip out on.

Finally, Little Fockers. I'm going to go on point with saying that I've never seen Meet the Parents, or Meet the Fockers. I have no interest in seeing either of them, and this trailer confirms that I never will attain that interest. I'm sorry, but I feel like this film has no reason to actually exist. The first two didn't have a reason to exist in the first place. It pretty much has Ben Stiller saying something, and it's supposed to be funny just because he says it. That's what I hate about him.

The Social Network trailer
Red trailer
Little Fockers trailer

Monday, June 28, 2010

PotterWatch (10 of 77): Teaser Trailer for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"!

Well, the teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that we've all been waiting for is finally here, and how was it? For me, it was a mixed basket. What didn't I like? First of all, I'm not happy that this teaser showed footage from both installments. Make no mistake, because this is a teaser. It's a rather long teaser, but it doesn't really give too much of an idea of the plot for those who haven't read the books. I also didn't like the floating titles that kept popping up. While it's true that it is the finale of a worldwide phenomenon, and it is the motion picture event of a generation, there's a point in which it's no longer simply stating facts, and it's just ego going for all that ego can go.

I also have my recently adopted minor reservations against Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. He seems to be pushing the limits a bit too far in this trailer. Every time I saw him on screen, or heard him speak, I had alternating feelings of laughing at him and crying at what this might mean for the quality of the film. Another little bit I wasn't a fan of was some of the straight forward shots that evoke kids films. The team paired up with a goblin riding some sort of device is one of the first action shots we're treated to. While I know what part of the film it is, from a trailers point of view, it just feels out of place. It may be evoking the whimsy the series started out with, but that worries me.

I know it's a lot of nitpicking, but other than that, I completely loved this trailer. It packs in a whole lot of footage from both installments, and the visuals are very textured. This film could very well win a great amount of technical awards for art direction, cinematography, visual effects, and maybe more. There's an epic quality to it all that's been missing from many Harry Potter films. There are so many things to talk about, most of all the creatures. We see thestrals, dragons, snakes, and so much more action in this trailer. I was really biting my nails at some points in this trailer. Then I realized that I really need to cut my nails.

Finally, for perhaps the first time in my life, I love Daniel Radcliffe as Harry. Much of the time I just see his face, but it doesn't look as wooden as it usually does. It looks like a character I can get behind. And then when he talks face to face with Voldemort, he sounds so much more adult. Even with his face muffled by Voldemorts gripping hand, he completely sells that line. I feel like these films may be the best of the series. I don't expect them to disappoint, but I fear people may get that idea from this trailer. I hope not. It's a far cry from some of the other amazing Potter trailers, but it's a great start. I'm still eagerly awaiting this film, so please comment on your thoughts from the trailer embedded below.


The Amazing and Growing cast of 'X-Men: First Class'

One of the films I'm most anticipating next year is X-Men: First Class, and I keep becoming more and more interested in the film. Lets put aside the fact that it's from the writer/director team that brought us Kick-Ass, and get to the phenomenal cast for the film. The two main characters of the film, Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr (Magneto), were perfectly cast in the original films, so their younger versions demand an equally perfect pair. I couldn't have envision any better pair of actors to take on the roles than James McAvoy (Wanted) as Xavier and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) as Lensherr.

Neither of them are big name actors, which is probably a good thing considering the nature of the project, but they are both more than solid actors. Many of the other actors are less set in stone, but Fox is pretty dead set on getting appealing young actors to play the mutants. Among the names of small time actors are Rosamund Pike, Benjamin Walker, and Amber Heard. The biggest reason this post exists at all, is the most recent news that Alice Eve (She's Out of Your League) is in talks to play Emma Stone. Who the character is doesn't matter as much as what the actress looks like. I'm really liking the cast that they're putting together, so I leave you with an image of Alice Eve on the cover of Maxim.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Box Office Report: Toy Story wins again; Grown Ups takes #2

Toy Story 3 held its own against two new releases this weekend, and if it weren't for the films coming in this week, I'd say it'd have a good shot at doing it again. The threequel took in an estimated $59 million this weekend, but that's subject to change based on how it does for the rest of Sunday. I'm guessing that it'll probably end up just over $60 million. That'd be an impressive opening weekend for any ordinary Pixar film. The film is very likely to beat Iron Man 2's total, and could very well be the top film of the summer.

Moving on to the new releases, Grown Ups took in a better than expected $41 million. However, in all honesty, did we really believe that audiences wouldn't go for this film? It's critical failure, a juvenile comedy, and quick cash in for the stars of the film. Hopefully, the negative audience reaction will kill this film within the next two weeks. As for the other new release, Knight and Day did surprisingly well given the small amount it took in opening day. The action-comedy took in a decent $20.5 million, but things don't look too bright for the film as two juggernauts enter the market this week.

The overall box office pailed in comparison to last year, when Transformers 2 premiered in first place. Things will likely change this week, when Twilite: Eeclips and The Last Airbender release.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Top 5 films of the past 6 months!

It's officially time to lay the disappointing first half of 2010 to rest, and to move on to better things in the next six months. So I've got my list of the top five films from the first six months of this year, and it's definitely not going to change any time soon when Twilite: E*clipse comes out on Wednesday.

5. Kick-Ass

Lets not make the mistake of saying that this film wasn't disappointing. I'm not sure how it got the hype surrounding it that it had opening weekend, but that was the point I stopped trusting the geek community. That said, this was still a pretty good movie in a time of the year ridden with cliche'd junk. Kick-Ass did something bold and new, and actually brought Nick Cage to the screen in a way in which I didn't want him burned alive. It was a fun, energetic, action-packed, semi-realistic (I say semi because of the bazooka and the jet pack), yet expendable pleasure. It set a standard for what a good movie should be. Not a great one, but a good one at least. (3 out of 4 stars)

4. Shutter Island

There's always a certain time slot that a film should be released in, and if it's released at the wrong time, it could hurt. This was one of those instances, when Martin Scorcese's thriller was bumped to late February from its slot in October of last year. Had it released as originally scheduled, I think people would've liked it a lot more. However, times changed and expectations were put too high for the film. I still find Shutter Island to be one of the creepiest films to come out in a while, and even though I was able to see the twist coming about a half hour before it came, I was still gripped as I watched it all play out. Scorcese is one of the greatest directors in the business, and its nice to see him doing such a calculated and entertaining job with what could've been an extreme bore in anybody elses hands. (3 out of 4 stars)

3. Get Him to The Greek

This film didn't have to worry about disappointing, because nobody was really expecting anything special. I was bracing for the worst with this movie, and then it turned out to have a heart behind it. That's not the main reason I loved the movie, but it wouldn't be what it is without it. Jonah Hill tears through any thought of his minor role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and gives a genuinely funny performance. Russell Brand's Aldous Snow is just a perfect mix of star meets character, and these two carry you through the weirder and more disturbing parts of the narrative. With several winning supporting roles, this was a surprise gem. (3.3 out of 4 stars)

2. How to Train Your Dragon

This film had expectations going very well against it, and I think that's what played a big part in its success. I think what made people react so emphatically with it was the abundance of low quality films at that period. People were just looking for a good movie, and this was a good, if not great movie. I've had several debates on the film regarding people placing it in their Best Picture predictions, because it could never be of Pixar quality. I do genuinely believe that this was a hugely entertaining and heartfelt film, which is something that most Dreamworks films have forgotten. Dragon takes a tip from Pixar, and favors story, emotion, and realism before all of its gags, and had it not been for Pixar, it might still be the best film of the year. (3.5 out of 4 stars).

1. Toy Story 3Ridiculously high expectations can kill a film, and usually do. In that respect as well as others, Toy Story 3 is the Dark Knight of animated films, in that it exceeds those expectations. I don't want to oversell this movie, but it gave me just the same midnight experience I got from that Batman film back in 2008. It was a momentous occasion, and you could never guess what was going to happen next. The film is a mix of The Shawshank Redemption, The Departed, and obviously, Toy Story. There are several frightening moments, and I do say that they might frighten children, but most children enjoy the film more because of that. You can feel the threat, you relate to the toys, and it makes you feel a pinch in your heart for all the toys you ever threw away. (4 out of 4 stars)

3 to See in July

3. The Last Airbender
With no reviews to speak for it yet, it's still largely unknown if M. Night Shyamalan's latest will be a collosal waste of time and money. I don't think it will be good, based mostly on the recycled Lord of the Rings plotline it seems to be following, and the corny dialogue that's present from the first second of the trailer. However, I do have to give the film props for what it does have, which is Dev Patel, spectacular elemental visual effects, and an amazing musical score by James Newton Howard. At the very least, that puts the film ahead of most childrens flicks this summer, with one huge exception. It deserves a look, if only to see if Shyamalan could actually do worse than The Happening.

2. The Kids Are All Right
This is the time of year when Oscar contending flicks start cropping up, and this is one of the big ones. The film follows two lesbian parents (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) who had children from the same sperm doner (Mark Ruffalo), and how their children (Mia Wasikowski and Josh Hutcherson) meet their father for the first time. It's an original story, and a very inventive concept. The trailer speaks very much about how these children have had an interesting childhood, and how they feel they've been lacking some sort of parent figure in their lives. This film got raves coming out of Sundance, and it looks like it could be a solid bid for Best Picture this year.

1. Inception
The fact that this movie is at the top of this list should surprise nobody. In fact, I'd be surprised to find a list of top films of July that this film wasn't on. We could go on to list the many reasons to see this movie, stemming from Christopher Nolan, Leonardo DiCaprio, the "existential heist" plotline, whatever emotional backing the film has, the all star cast, the amazing visual effects, and the original concept, but by the end of the day we'd probably have over a billion reasons to see this movie. I don't think anybody could've guessed the road this movie would take a year ago, when the teaser was released with Inglourious Basterds. Even now, I don't know what to make of the movie. When somebody figures out what that spinning top image means, be sure to let me know.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekend Update: 4th Week of June

Halfway through the Summer movie season, and we still have little to show for it. We may have gotten the best and most perfectly made films of the year from Pixar, but what else is new? That happens almost every year, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise anymore. This week, we get right back to disappointment, with Grown Ups and Knight and Day. Lets start with the Adam Sandler comedy, and I'm going to be refreshingly frank in translating the fact that this film was never going to be good. Adam Sandler doesn't make smart movies anymore, and this film, despite its name, isn't likely to treat the audience like adults.

I know that there are more comedians in it than just him, but he's the only one I have the smallest shred of respect for, and that comes from Funny People. Other than that, I hate him. I'm going to say that the film should take in $25 million this weekend, and negative word of mouth should kill the comedy. On to Knight and Day, the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz spy thriller/comedy. I don't have nearly as much contempt for this film as I do for Grown Ups, but the word "disappointing" still comes to mind. The film already failed to bring in audiences on its opening day, only taking in $3 million. The Disneynature documentaries released on Earth Day pitched better opening days than that.

For the weekend, I expect the film to take in around $10 million, and then go on to make around $20 million in total. Now that we've settled that, lets talk about Toy Story 3, which will probably shoot a better second weekend than most openings for Pixar films. Positive word of mouth has been carrying the film throughout the week, and will likely continue to do so during the rest of the summer. With that, I expect a small decrease of around 30% this weekend, leading to a $70-80 total. The weekend definitely won't top the same one last year, when Transformers 2 destroyed the box office with a collosal debut.

Peter Jackson is directing The Hobbit!

Seven years of denial, and we're finally back to the chosen man for the job of directing The Hobbit, Peter Jackson. I'm really glad that he's the man to bring us the final journey into Middle Earth, but I also wish he realized that it had to be him sooner. It feels like more than just chance that Guillermo Del Toro suddenly pulled out of the film at the last minute. That despite his attempts to find a suitable replacement, Jackson decided to take up the job himself. It just feels like some sort of miracle.

However, I do have reservations on how good the film will be, seeing as Jackson's last film was a critical and commercial failure. Maybe it will be good for Jackson to get back to what he knows best, and what made him the Oscar winning director he is today. I hold my own reservations and fears about this announcement, seeing as MGM is still up to its torso in financial hell. The film still may very well never happen, but we're a little closer to possibility that it might. Are you glad that Jackson is the man who will lead us on our final journey into Middle Earth? If not, who would you have rather had take up command of the project. What do you think of the long journey we've taken to get to this point? Will it be worth it if the film finally comes to existence?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

High on Nolan: Insomnia Review

We're getting extremely close to the release of Inception, and I still have one Nolan film that I have yet to see. It's unfortunately difficult to find a copy of his first film, Following. Luckily, I've finally gotten the chance to see Insomnia, and I was a little worried about the film. It's the only film Nolan's directed that didn't come from his own screenplay. This film could've easily turned out to be awful, but it was right up there with the best of Chris Nolan.

The film follows detective Dormer (Al Pacino) who investigates a murder in Alaska, a land where the sun is always present. Dormer starts suffering from Insomnia, due in part to the midnight sun, but perhaps even more so by the guilt of a terrible act commited by Dormer. As the killer gets in contact with Dormer and starts messing with his head, the facts of the case lead Dormer to the choice of exposing the killer, and in so doing, exposing his own dark secret. It follows the theme of moral consequences that stem through all of Nolan's films.

This could've easily been a failure, but the star cast really lifted this film above the norm, with Pacino, Hillary Swank (Boys Don't Cry), and Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting) all turning in amazing performances at the top of their form. Swank's character was pretty simplistic, but she pulled the character off as a nescessity to the story, rather than dead weight. The real success of the film is Williams, who brings the perfect mix of emotional distress, and criminalistic sociopath to have us hating him for his acts, but loving him for his charm.

Nolan keeps this very tightly directed, working over time to make a compelling story, and it often works in the film. The plot does drag a bit in the mid section, as if it doesn't really know where to go next. Fortunately, it's unpredictable enough to keep us guessing until the end. I found myself gripped in a way that a film viewed at home can rarely rip out of me. Wally Pfister brings together some of his best, most textured work here, and it really is a beautiful shot and lit film. At least we know that Nolan is very nearly as good at picking scripts as he is at writing them.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PotterWatch (9 out of 77): The Actors Circuit: Daniel Radcliffe

When we think back to the frog-eyed beginnings of the Harry Potter trio, or for that matter, anything Potter related, our mind drifts to Daniel Radcliffe. In Sorceror's Stone, he was a child actor who, like all child actors, had absolutely no idea what he was doing. Unlike his fellow young actors though, that actually worked to his advantage, because his character didn't either. It was still annoying, but he stayed on for the next few, and he really got a chance at expanding his acting talent.

Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire were real tests for the actor, and quite often he only succeeded at minimum. The extreme emotional behaviorisms became more believable as time went on. The biggest example of him becoming a better actor was, believe it or not, from Order of the Phoenix. It's probably the worst film in the Potter franchise, but Dan worked through the amatuer dialogue and got to its core. He did as good a job as anybody of carrying a not-that-great film on his shoulders, without buckling under the stress of it all.

Amidst all this, he began working with non-Potter related source material, mainly his stint on Broadway in Equus. It helped people see him as another character, and gave him a backdoor for when Potter finally ends. Half-Blood Prince was probably his best performance to date, but also the one with the least difficulty to it. It was largely a comedy, and he dealt with that well. The final film will definitely give him more dramatic material to work with. I wouldn't be surprised if he fails on fully delivering the forrest scene at the end of the film, but if he succeeds, it will definitely benefit the film. The actor's next role, as reported earlier today, is the lead in a remake of All Quiet on the Western Front.

Trailer Talk: Smurfs, Ga'Hoole, Conviction, Narnia, and Green Hornet

We have a massive trailer scoop this week, ranging from Oscar bait to animated kids flicks to action adaptations. Lets get the lesser work out of the way first, starting with the teaser for The Smurfs. This isn't even worth commenting about seeing as it reveals none of the plot, shows no appearance by Neil Patrick Harris, and it features an invisible wave turning national monuments blue. It wasn't even in 3D, which makes it all the more disappointing. And what was with Abraham Lincoln turning blue, but none of the other heads turned blue. This film is shaping up to be more confusing than Inception.

Then we get to the full trailer for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, which takes a simple, self-explanatory titles, and makes it unnescessarily long to make it seem like The Lord of the Rings. Judging by this trailer, it isn't going to be close to that. Zach Snyder's film is going for pure family fare. I haven't read the books, but I've heard that they're really intense. You'd think that the director of Watchmen would be good at that, but he's more focused on making a film his children can see. Anybody who chooses to compromise a film based on a something personal is not a real filmmaker.

Then we get to one of the "Oscar bait" films this year, and I do not use the term to reference anything positive. "Oscar bait" films are movies that pander to the Academy first, and then the audience. The filmmakers try to suck up to the voters instead of focusing on making a good movie. That's what the trailer for Conviction wreaks of. It has two time Academy award winner Hillary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) in a true story about a woman who went into law school to set her brother free from prison based on a crime he either did or did not commit. I really don't care if he did or didn't. The sentimental music at the end of the trailer killed my emotional connect with the film.

We also got our first look at The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is the first Narnia film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox. Instead of the more realistically grounded look of the first two films, they seem to be really gunning for the kids crowd with bright, colorful visuals. With the first two books in the Narnia series, I knew what was going on right from the start. Even after I read the third book, I still didn't know what it was about. With this trailer, I have even less of a grasp on what this one is about. Wasn't the White Witch not supposed to be in this one? Either way, I feel like this one focuses on being too much of a kids film, with dialogue so corny I don't know what to think of it. My opinion may shift later on, but for now, I'm not sold on this one.

The last trailer was one that landed recently, just in time to make this post, The Green Hornet. I haven't known what to think of this film until now, but it looks pretty solid. It's very much like a slacker version of Batman. Replace Bruce's parents with Tom Wilkinson, Michael Caine with an Asian, all those Batman villians with Christoph Waltz, and Batman with Seth Rogen, and you have a good idea of what to expect here. It has plenty of comedy elements to add on to the action, along with some visual flair to go along with it. I'm not completely sold on the comedy, as referenced by Seth Rogen shooting himself in the head, but I like the feeling of this trailer.

The Smurfs trailer
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of whatever trailer
Conviction trailer
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader trailer
The Green Hornet trailer

Oscar Watch: Producers announced; move to January?

Two big news announcements concerning the Academy Awards, the first of which is the announcement of the producers of this year's Oscars, Academy award winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty) and Emmy award winner Don Mischer. I trust them to do a better and less formulaic job than Adam Shankman did with this year's Oscars. We're still waiting on a host for the event, but based on the possibility of the other news, they may be deciding that soon.

The other news is that board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are meeting about potentially moving the awards show to January. This alarms me quite a bit, because it makes the voting process more hectic and uncertain than before. They need the extra month of time to work out who to vote to be nominated. Assuming that they go for a late January show, the nominations would be announced in late December. Therefore, voting would have to be finished by early December.

There are going to be quite a few late boomers this year, not the least of which is True Grit from the Coen Brothers. I hope that this doesn't come to pass, because it just doesn't seem like a good idea. Apparently the backing behind this is to crush The Golden Globes, but are they really that threatening an Awards telecast? There are a few reasons that the Globes fail, one of which is the rushed voting for nominees. Another is that they're just freeloaders who favor excess over quality. Lets hope the Oscars don't meet a similar fate.

Inception: Meet the Characters

I was really worried that after Toy Story 3, all the hype for Inception had become permanently mute. Nothing like two minutes of new footage to put the film back on track for its powerful debut. While I urge most people not to view any footage that reveals this much information about the plot of the film, it does make me as giddy as ever when looking forward to this film. The latest stack of footage focuses on the characters, and gives us a better idea of what roles they fulfill.

I feel sorry for Dileep Rao, who is the only one in this film who doesn't seem to have a catchy nickname. Well, him and Michael Caine, but right now his character's only name is The Professor, so he has that to tide him over. We get a closer look at all the characters, and Marion Cotillard is still as questionable as ever. Who is her character, and why is her persona called The Shade? Where is Ken Watanabe, and what is his motivation? What idea are they planting, and how will it change everything? What are Cobb's motivations, and who exactly hired them? As a few questions are answered, several more are brought up. If you want a fresh experience at the theatre, I hope you don't follow this link to the featurette.

Daniel Radcliffe takes on 'the Western Front'

The first of two Daniel Radcliffe related posts today comes from the news that the young actor is taking on the lead role in an upcoming remake of All Quiet on the Western Front. It's nice to know that the actor is taking an initiative to move past his boy wizard persona from Harry Potter and take on more difficult roles. The remake of the third film to win the Oscar for Best Picture is to be written by Lesley Paterson, and produced by herself and Ian Stokell. If you don't know who they are, nobody could blame you, as they're relatively new to the game. At least they've got some ambition, which is a rare trait in the film industry these days.

Monday, June 21, 2010

'The Social Network' Poster

They've just released the poster for the film from Academy Award nominee David Fincher, due out this October. Check it out below.

Oscar 2011: Where are we now?

Shortly after this year's Academy Awards ended, I posted my year-in-advance predictions for the top race. We still haven't gotten the chance to see most of those pictures, but as you may have noticed, my predictions have changed quite a bit. Lets take a look at what happened, and where to go from here.

Those that fell out: Iron Man 2- My fears about this film may not have been warranted when I first expressed them, but time has proven them wise. While actually taking time to analyze the film, I discovered that the sequel not only was worst than the first, but actually degraded the original. Everything we felt was wonderful in the first film was exposed to be nothing but cold flames. Bright, flashy, loud, chaotic, and enveloping everything in their path. This film may have no Oscar potential. Visual Effects just fell short entirely, and may not even get a mention at the end of the year.
Blue Valentine- I know we should believe that this film is a force to be reckoned with after it got such huge buzz from Sundance, but there comes a time when somebody has to look a little closer at the reviews. With the Oscars, we are looking for the best, and the reviews for Blue Valentine, while good, have not been of outstanding quality. Michelle Williams' performance has gotten the most raves out of the reviews, so we'll likely see an acting nomination for her, but I think this film will miss out on Best Picture.
The American- I'm calling this one guys. For the time being, I don't think this film has what it takes. I'm sure the director has skill, and we all know of George Clooney's acting talent, but I'll let the quotes from the trailers do the talking: "You're a good man, but you have a secret." "A man can be reached if he has God in his heart." "I don't think God's very interested in me father." I may be wrong, but at least until its release, I'm putting The American on the bench.

Locked in: Toy Story 3
Safe for Now: Everything You've Got (formerly How Do You Know)
The Social Network
Hereafter
True Grit
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Awaiting Review: Inception
New to the Board: Tree of Life
Another Year
Black Swan

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Toy Story 3: The last great Pixar film?

I promise that this will be the last huge rave I have of Toy Story 3 for a long time. This is less of a rave of the new film as it is an output of my fears going into the next few years. I know that I've been preaching for a while that Pixar never screws up, and their latest film effectively proves that, but I've become extremely worried looking at the upcoming slate of films from the masterpiece company. I think my fears about Cars 2 are more than justified. The film is supposed to focus on a race spanning five countries while Mater becomes embroiled in a case of international espionage.How do they fit a heart into that story, and how do we get it from the voices of Owen Wilson and Daniel Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy)? Add on to that the death of Paul Newman and George Carlin, two of the stars of the first film, and we lose one of the more heart infused characters of the film and one of the truly comedic characters. We'll know it's destined for something far below greatness if the runtime is as long as the first film.
Then, in two years they have Brave (formerly titled The Bear and the Bow), which is Pixar's first fairy tale. The film focuses on the daughter of Scottish royalty who dreams of being an archer who causes unintended peril upon her father's kingdom as a result of an ancient evil curse. Once again, my worries are more than warranted. The film is from the director of Prince of Egypt (That's right. A Dreamworks film.), Brenda Chapman, who writes and directs the film. Somebody give me a reason not to panic.
Then, later that same year (2 Pixar films in the same year! Overkill?), Monsters Inc. 2 comes out. When I first heard that they had greenlit the film for release I was extatic. One of my favorite old Pixar films was Monsters Inc., and after seeing the great job Pixar has done with the Toy Story sequels, I was sure that they could pull it off. However, I still feel trepidation that the film is not being directed by Pete Doctor (Up), who directed the first film. I guess that Pixar is trying to embellish their newer voices as their past directors go into live-action (Andrew Stanton with John Carter of Mars, and Brad Bird with Mission Impossible 4).

I guess that sense of uncertainty has always clouded the fate of most Pixar films. Maybe it's because they never show us the true heart of the film in the trailers. Up didn't reveal the fact that one of the main characters dies in the first ten minutes. Toy Story 3 left out a few crucial details that I won't go into detail about until I'm sure everybody's seen it. Maybe there's a surprisingly heartfelt signiature behind these films. Pixar somehow finds a way with surprising us with how good their films are, even though that's the way they've done it for years.

Box Office Report: Pixar 'Toy's with the market

So, after a promising opening on friday, Toy Story 3 went on to win the weekend with $109 million, beating Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's previous June opening weekend record. While the film didn't beat Shrek the Third's animated opening record of $121 million, it was still Pixar's biggest opening ever. After the $41 million opening day, the sequel lost a small amount on saturday, taking in $37 million, and then grabbing a strong $31 million on sunday. Judging by how the film is playing with audiences, it may get a little more when the exact numbers come in tomorrow.

The Kung Fu Kid held surprisingly well against the toys, dropping only 47.9% to $29 million. The remake of the 80's film seems poised at getting more than $150 million. The A-Team fell a decent 47.3% to 13.8 million, bringing the total to almost $50 million. Get Him to The Greek held its own against insurmountable odds, getting 6.1 million, and putting it on track to meet Sarah Marshall's final gross of $63 million. It looks like its the end for Shrek Forever After, after the final installment fell 65% to 5 million. The film suffered from Toy Story 3 taking away 3D screens and the target audience of the film.

Meanwhile, on the lower end of the box office alley, Jonah Hex met a premature and grisly death at the hand of its $5 million opening total. The only sadness that grips me is that Megan Fox has had two flops in a row, and doesn't have Transformers to comfort her anymore. A note to the actress for the future: If you're going to be independent, do it when you have better roles to support you. This weekend was up a whopping 31% from the same weekend last year when The Proposal won the box office with a regular $33 million.

What's left this summer?

By now, most of the bulk of the big summer movies have come out. We're still waiting on Twilite: E*Klips and The Last Airbender to close out the month, but so far we've gotten a whole lot of disappointing films (Iron Man 2, Robin Hood, Splice), and a small taste of classic. I already know that Twilite is going to fall into the former category, and despite the beautiful musical score, I have the sneaking suspicion that Airbender will as well. So with the heft of the big summer movies past us, what's there to wait for?

I apologize if I sound like a broken record, by the biggest film for the rest of the summer is definitely Inception. Too often a marketing campaign reveals the plot of the entire film before the release. Chris Nolan is keeping everything pretty tight, only giving us a breif glimpse of what this film is about. We've also got Robert Rodriguez's Predators, which doesn't look too horrible. In fact, it doesn't really look bad at all. Not a great film, but certainly worth a look. Then, at the end of all hope, you could indulge in the self-indulgent Salt.

Safe to say that quite a few of the small gems are being saved for August, like the action comedy, The Other Guys. People may not have such wide spread adoration of director Adam McKay's Step Brothers as they do for Knocked Up or Superbad, but it's hard to go through the film without laughing. I expect a similar experience here. Also, is there anybody who isn't at least intrigued by Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The film combines comic book violence, and comic book humor to great affect even in the trailers. Definitely worth a peek. Or you could just go see Toy Story 3 again. 3 more times.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Friday Take: June 18th

Lets start by focusing on what failed miserably on Friday. Jonah Hex took in a mere $2 million yesterday, boding towards a $5 million take for the weekend, and a $10 million total gross. They probably weren't expecting too much from the dismally reviewed, poorly marketed film going up against Toy Story 3. But there are plenty more interesting hits to hear about, like Cyrus. The indie film starring John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill took in $52 thousand from 4 theatres. It may take in a good $130 thousand for the whole weekend. Isn't that exciting?

So on to Toy Story 3, the final film in the beloved Pixar franchise broke the record for highest opening day for an animated film, taking in $41 million. The previous record holder was Shrek the Third, which opened with 38 million on the first day, and $122 million for the entire weekend. That bodes well for the Pixar classic, which will probably end the weekend in the range of 130 million, given the hype that the film is likely to inspire, as well as the added cost of 3D, which is worth it for Day and Night alone. If that weekend estimate holds up, and the film plays well through the rest of its run, it may hit the $400 million mark.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend Update: 3rd Week of June

Lets face it. Toy Story 3 will be, and fully deserves to be the biggest hit of the summer. Think of the fact that this weekend the film will probably rake in as much as $100-120 million. Then think of the staying power of most Pixar films. Last year, Up brought in just $68 million in its first weekend, then went on to get $293 million in total. Even before the big 3D craze, Finding Nemo brought in $70 million opening weekend and then became the highest grossing Pixar film in history with $339 million. I can see Toy Story 3 beating that total easily.

However, we must remember what the film is going up against. Lets start with parents who, even though they will no doubt love the movie, may feel trepidation in bringing their kids along. You may not have noticed yet, but the film is pretty damn dark. Think of the toy's fears of being abandoned, and then think of their fears of death. Then again, what child doesn't want to see that sort thing. I think you might remember last year when Coraline scared the bejezzus (technical term) out of kids and parents alike, and still became the sleeper hit of the first quarter of the year. Kids really enjoy good and enjoyable movies, and the fact that they're frightening only endears them to those movies.

The other problem the film faces is the raising of prices for 3D. There's been a noticable fall in 3D's popularity since theatres changed the price of admission. It started when How to Train Your Dragon brought in only $43 million opening weekend, despite stellar reviews. The film still went on to become a success and it earned the greenlight for a sequel. Even after that, Clash of the Titans underperformed with $61 million opening weekend, as did Shrek 4 with $70 million. On the other hand, Titans had hugely negative reviews for both the film's quality, and the low quality of the 3D, and Shrek had to rebuild steam after the previous film failed critically.

Toy Story 3 follows up two of the best animated films ever made, and is one in and of itself. We'll have to see how hard these facts come down on the film's box office when tallies come in for the film's grosses on friday. For now, I'm sticking with my guess of $120 million opening weekend, although I hope it gets more than that. In total I'd like to see the film get $400 million. It deserves it, and it could help keep the film afloat until awards season.

So what about the other films this weekend? Jonah Hex will fail in comparison, probably bringing in under $10 million. Kung Fu Kid will hold some of its audience, but not a lot. I'm gonna bet that it'll rake in about $24 million this weekend. A-Team should certainly fall considerably and take in just $12 million. Expect the weekend overall to blast away the same weekend last year when The Proposal came out to $33 million.

Pixar's Day and Night Review

Day and Night, Pixar's tenth animated short to be theatrically released, pushed the technical boundaries of animation. The film featured two 2D animated characters who had different worlds inside them, and those world were computer generated an in 3D. As soon as the film started off, we knew we were in for something amazing. The two characters were Day and Night, and even though they never said a word, they still had very distinct personalities.

The film looks like nothing you've ever seen before, especially in 3D. If you go see it in regular 3D, and you look at the edge of the screen, it almost seems like you're literally looking into another world through a window. The misnomer about 3D is that it has objects bursting out of the screen. In truth, it just gives the picture depth, and this film heavily emphasized that. While it lacked the same narrative drive an story as the other Pixar shorts in the past, it was a highly successful experiment in the use of 3D technology. It serves as a great prelude when you go see Toy Story 3 this weekend. For my thoughts on the main attraction, follow this link!

B+

Toy Story 3 Review!

The only cliché that can be associated with Pixar films is that they're miles ahead of the rest of the year. Toy Story 3 not only continues the trend, but offers something more than what was expected, and the expectations were pretty high. The film focuses on our favorite toys and what happens when Andy outgrows them to move on to college. Through mistake and free will, they end up at Sunnyside, a daycare facility where they meet hundreds of new toys, including the strawberry scented Lotso-Huggin Bear.

As Woody (Tom Hanks) sets off to reunite with Andy, the toys start to learn that things may not be quite so sunny at Sunnyside. A lesser studio like Dreamworks would take advantage of this for strictly comedic reasons, but Pixar adds some edgy realism to the place and the people there. As the film progresses it takes on the structure of a prison break thriller, and an amazing one at that. In terms of quality, there's The Shawshank Redemption, and then there's Toy Story 3. The action elements of the final act feel a lot more fluid and necessary than those from WALL-E and Up. It's nice to know that whatever few mistakes Pixar has made, they are learning from them.

The production aspect of the film is easily better than that of the first two. The world the toys inhabit feels 100% real at all times, and so do the toys. The design of the characters is so nice that after this film, I want to go out and find all the toys from the movies and keep them as collectibles. They probably wouldn't like me keeping them in a glass case for the rest of their lives, but at least they'll have each other. Randy Newman returns to score the film, and after two other exemplary works, he still hasn't lost his skill. It keeps the film's whimsical nature in check along with the darker elements of this installment.
While the film has its lighter moments, most of which dealing with Buzz (Tim Allen) and Jessie's (Joan Cusack) romantic relationship, it's still far darker than the films that came before it, and that adds so much more weight to the climactic sequence of the film. Unlike many other Pixar films, this one has the characters that we already love facing the prospect of a grisly unfortunate death. Lotso (Ned Beatty) could've turned out exactly like Stinky Pete from the second film, but they give him such an amazing background that really makes you feel for the monster. He may be cute and cuddly on the outside, but Lotso is one of the best, most intimidating villains of all time.

All the voice work from the original cast (Hanks, Allen, Cusack, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, etc.) is phenomenal as always, but with the slew of new characters, we've got more great voices to add to the heap. Whoopie Goldberg, Bud Luckey, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, and many others do some great work in minor roles, but the big scene stealer of this film is Michael Keaton as Ken. He's just one of those characters who you can envision being so feministic, and when he finally comes around he surprises you with being even more girly than that.

Director Lee Unkrich and writer Micharl Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) bring together the final episode of the series with an epic quality to it all. There may be a few predictable throw away jokes ("I don't think those were linkin logs"), but for the most part, the audience was laughing throughout. All of the loose strings are pulled together in the end, and when the climactic scene gets right towards the end, it's probably a good idea to have a tissue box at hand. Pixar finds a way of making us cry about things that we wouldn't normally care about, and where they could've used conventional dialogue to sell the scene, the show emotional arcs of the characters through the actions on screen.

So where does Toy Story 3 rank in the end? The film easily beats out How to Train Your Dragon, several other Pixar classics like Finding Nemo and Ratatouille, and even the first two films in the Toy Story saga. The film lands somewhere at the top of the pile of Pixar films. Anybody who thought that Dragon might get more Oscar attention than this one is saddly mistaken. This film is a lock for a nomination, and depending on the competition through the rest of the year, it may stand a chance at taking the top prize. Stop thinking it's so unlikely.

A+

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pixar: A retrospective look at the most critically successful film studio

No other film studio other than Pixar can brag that they've never once made a bad film. The animation studio has created several loved characters across the years, and it's unfair that only one of their films has had the privelege of getting a sequel. That is until next year when Cars 2 comes out, and then we may indeed see an end to the studio's flawless track record. Of all their films, Cars is least deserving of a continuation.Toy Story put the studio on the map, and made it known that they were off to a great start. Did anybody think that their success would last this long? Probably not, and Pixar was never without its flaws. One of the studio's least great films, A Bugs Life didn't really have quite the same heart as later films, and it did drag quite a bit through most of its running time. The entire film was more or less a set up for the final 20 minutes, but they did have some entertaining moments intersperced throughout.
After that, the studio returned to their first set of characters, and set out to make a second Toy Story film with a 60-minute run time, intended for staight-to-DVD release. Fortunately when Disney saw how impressive the animation on the film was, they expanded upon the film and gave it a theatrical date. Between that decision and the film's release, the film was completely rewritten and remade because they felt that the film wasn't up to the quality they wanted. It was a potentially dangerous decision, but the film turned out for the better because of it. As a matter of fact, it turned out to be the rare gem of a sequel that is better than the original.
The team then went on to make a few more heart-driven adventure films that pushed the boundaries for the studio. Monsters Inc. was one of the most high concept films at the time, and its odd premise didn't weigh it down. It proved to be the first film the studio made to be actually revolutionary. Two years later Finding Nemo came out, and that film was one of the studio's brilliant technical acheivements as well as emotional achievements. Is it difficult to make a film set mostly in the ocean with an overbearing father and a scatterbrain with short-term memory loss (who are both fish) seem realistic. Probably, but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at this film.
In 2004, the studio took a crack at making a compelling story using human characters. Make that superhuman, and thus comes The Incredibles, which against all odds became the best action film of that (critically, but not financially. Spiderman 2 still brought in more in the box-office). Each of their films contains a dysfunctional family of sorts, but this was an actual family with everyday problems. The film also took a step into darker territory, actually showing the skeleton of a dead superhero in one shot. That image was frightening as hell to the adults in the crowd as well as the children.
I'm not even going to talk about Cars, because it was really one of their worst films ever. It wasn't bad, but it's not a film I'd ever see again because it's unnecessarily long. Pixar's next film, Ratatouille was also long, but it had a lot more to it than Cars. It had the emotional journeys of several characters, a few nice chase sequences, but it was one of those animated films that didn't feel the need to make it an action film. It had an interesting and realistic plot to it, and that's all a good film needs.
After they pulled off a film about a rat in a kitchen, they went on to make one about robots who fall in love on a post-apocalyptic earth. Hard sell for a kids movie already? Add in the fact that the first half of the film exists without conventional dialogue. Given that, it's a wonder this film made as much as it did. WALL-E had an original sci fi premise, and one of the studio's most thought out and rounded characters at the lead. That little garbling of his name would soon be used by people around the globe.
The greatest thing about Pixar is that they're not trying to top themselves. They're just trying to keep up with the times and give films that are necessary for their release. This year, Up became the first CG animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, and part of that may be because of the expansion to ten nominations. I chock it up to the film delivering emotionally more than any other Pixar film. It carried us on the emotional journey of the character, and we felt what the character was feeling at every point of the film. It made the action that much more intense and real. I remember being worried in the theatre that they'd actually kill off the main protagonist in the end. What other kind of childrens film can trick an audience into thinking that.
Tomorrow, Pixar will no doubt make history again with Toy Story 3, which I'll be leaving soon to go to the midnight release. We're always worried about how good Pixar will do with their next film, and we shouldn't be. They've proven time and again that they know exactly how to make an amazing movie, because they remember what most people have forgotten. The characters and story come first, and everything else comes second. They don't bite off more than they can chew. They release one film a year, and each year it is an event movie to be eagerly awaited. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried about Cars 2. If they've learned from their mistakes, they won't screw it up.
Ranking the Pixar films: 10. Cars
9. A Bugs Life
8. Monsters Inc.
7. Toy Story 2
6. Ratatouille
5. Finding Nemo
4. The Incredibles
3. WALL-E
2. Toy Story
1. Up

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity has 20 minute opening shot!

So, remember when I talked about how I think that Alfonso Cuaron should be the one they pick to direct The Hobbit? Well, that's probably not going to happen, because he apparently has another high profile project lined up. The sci-fi thriller film Gravity, starring Robert Downey Jr. is set in space as a woman attempts to make her way back to earth after a satellite crash sets off a chain reaction of further crashes. What's the biggest news we've gotten from it? The opening shot of the film is likely to be 20 minutes long!

That leaves a hell of a lot to be expected of that opening shot, but I'm sure Cuaron's team can pulls it off. One of the best things about Children of Men was the long shots that artfully pulled off the action going on in the film. It really gives a sense that the events are happening in real time far better than 24 does with the ticking clock. People are comparing the film to Avatar in that the film will be 60% computer generated and in 3D. I'm sure that Gravity won't be as much of a Titanic failure story wise as Avatar was.

What's doing with The Hobbit?

So, the other day we talked about how David Yates was rumored to be directing The Hobbit. Turns out that the studio is still dead set on having Peter Jackson direct the films. Personally, I feel like it's a decision that would be made past its time. If Peter Jackson had decided to direct it right after he finished King Kong, I would've been fine with it. Why am I not now? Three words: The Lovely Bones. I'm sorry, but when a director like that misfires, it's a huge misfire.

Now, he hasn't been confirmed to direct the film, but it's a very likely positive, and for reasons that should soon be known to you, Alfonso Cuaron is going to be too busy to work on The Hobbit. This is a good time for you to give me your suggestions, because right now they need them. Leave your ideas of who should direct the film(s) in the comments section.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sam Raimi directing Wizard of Oz Prequel!

This friday, Toy Story 3 proves that its never too late to make a sequel to a beloved (sequel to a beloved) film that came out more than 10 years ago. Sam Raimi (Spiderman, Drag Me to Hell) is now taking on the task of seeing if it's ever too late to make a prequel to an extremely beloved film that came out more than 70 years ago. Yes, there is currently work being done to put into production a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Currently titles The Great and Powerful Oz, the film stars Robert Downey Jr. as the wizard, and is set to be directed by Sam Raimi in digital 3D. Does it seem a little late for a prequel? Will it manage being enjoyable and not stale? I want to know what you think, so leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Trailer Tuesday: Somewhere, Tangled, Rango

Two news trailers, and one new... wind-up fish? We'll get to that later. Lets start with the only serious film in this batch of trailers, Somewhere. The Sofia Coppola directed film looks to be a story of a father and his daughter, and their relationship while they live... well, somewhere. It's never explicitely stated where they are, but maybe that's the point of the film. Personally, I can't tell what to makeof the film by the trailer. It's a teaser, so it's pretty elusive to the point, but it looks kind of interesting. I already love Elle Fanning infinitely more than her sister Dakota who, lets face it, has passed her better years. The same can be said of any actor currently starring in Twilight.

Moving on to the more whimsical in nature, we get to Tangled, the animated film from Disney (not Pixar). I'm often a little split on Disney's non-Pixar fare, both live-action and animated. Where I really enjoyed Meet the Robinsons, I didn't care much for The Princess and the Frog, and only mildly enjoyed Bolt. So where is this film likely to land? In the lower half of the bunch. I'm sorry, but this one just looks so cute I could puke. There's a point where a film gets too adorable for its own good, and Tangled skips past that. It's a princess comedy, but not in the parodic way that Enchanted was. Just in the not really that funny way.

Finally getting to Rango, which wasn't really a trailer as much as a moving poster. What was it? A wind up goldfish floating across a desert. Interesting concept? Yes. Confusing concept? Yes, again. Then again, what would you expect from the director of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy? This.

Somewhere trailer
Tangled trailer
Rango teaser

Monday, June 14, 2010

The day the film industry stood still

Today was a truly sad day, because for the most part, nothing happened in the world of movies. No big deals were made. No new clips debuted. We got little to no reviews for any interesting movies. We didn't even get a small new image from Inception to gawk at. My day is fine as long as I get the smallest bit of interesting new information. Guillermo Del Toro's departure from The Hobbit may have been sad, but at least it was something big. Today, no such thing happened.

If you want something semi-interesting to think about, and lets keep this strictly under the rumor mill for the time being, David Yates (Harry Potter and the (Order of the Pheonix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows (Part 1, Part 2))) may be being considered for the directorial position for The Hobbit. It'd be an interesting decision, and I feel like he'd do a great job, but I don't feel he's the right guy for the job. Personally, I'm still holding out for Alfonso Cuaron who direct Prisoner of Azkaban. You know, the amazing director who hasn't directed a film for the past five years.

Still, that's not really news, because it doesn't sound real. Anyway, just to tide you over until tomorrow, I posted a few banners from Inception that you may not have seen by now. I hope you like them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Box Office Report: Kung Fu Kid kicks A-Team off top spot

So it seems that The Kung Fu Kid (lets be accurate here) beat expectations of bringing in a more regular amount this weekend, bringing in a great haul of $56 million. Audience approval will lead the film on to get around $130 million by the end of its run. The same success can not be expected of The A-Team, which far from disappointed with $26 million this weekend. The film doesn't stand much of a chance of retaining audiences in the coming weeks, leading to an unsatisfying conclusion of $75 million.

As for holdovers, Shrek 4 got $15 million, bringing its total to 210 million. Expect the film to take an extreme fall next weekend when Toy Story 3 robs it of its 3D screens and target demographic. Get Him to the Greek took a regular fall of %42.5, gathering 10 million out of the weekend. Expect it to finish around $60 million, just below Forgetting Sarah Marshall's haul. In limited release, Winter's Bone brought $85,000 from four theatres, racking up to a per theatre average of $21,00, the best this weekend. Overall, this weekend was up from the same weekend last year when The Hangover and Up continued their long standing tussle.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Design for High on Celluloid!

I'm taking a break off the site this weekend, but before I did I wanted to update the design of the site. I hope you all enjoy it, and it's the perfect time for you to catch up on some of the stories you may not have heard. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'll be back Sunday afternoon with the box office results from the weekend.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weekend Update: 2nd Week of June

Last week was a positive change from the usual week of unqualified films that has been the standard for this year. Said week returns this weekend with the release of two 80's remakes. The one with the most box office chances is The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. First of all, it's not The Karate Kid. It's The Kung Fu Kid. If that isn't enough to persuade you of how stupid the film is, take into account the fact that it's 2 and 1/2 hours long. That isn't too promising for returns in the following weeks, especially not up against Toy Story 3. Expect Karate Kid to get around $40 million this weekend.

If I were to see a film this weekend (which I won't, but if I did), it would be The A-Team. I can ignore the fact that it looks like every action film out today and most likely is for one reason: the cast. This is a different role for Liam Neeson, and when the DVD release comes around, I'd love to see what he does with it. I don't care for the black guy because I don't know the black guy. Brandon Cooper is a likable guy, so I'll give him a shot. However, the person to see in this film is definitely Sharlto Copley. From the clips I've seen from the film, he looks to be perfectly in his element of crazy lunatic charm. I can see The A-Team coming in just under Karate Kid's $40 million.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

7 Best Scenes of Fringe: Season 2

7. Confrontation at the opera house (Over There)
Fringe is definitely a very action heavy show, but the best action setpiece in the series was the battle outside the opera house during the finale. We got some amazing action between the two sides, and it was really interesting for us to be rooting for William Bell, the man who we've had issues trusting for the past two seasons, as he's being shot by (alternate) versions of the characters we've grown to love. Then William Bell making the sacrifice at the end was a noble and touching move, but it should've felt like more of a huge loss than it did. It felt a little bit like an emotional cheat, but maybe William Bell isn't gone after all.

6. Olivia's last talk with Charlie Francis (A New Day in the Old Town)
It shouldn't be a huge surprise anymore what happens to fan favorite Charlie Francis in the conclusion of the season premiere, but it was when we saw it. That made his last talk with Olivia that much more touching. During the first watching you may be listening to the conversation, only half aware of what he's saying, but the event at the end is basically his way of saying "listen up folks. This is important." It may just be another story, but it's one that Olivia will remember for a lifetime, and so will we. By the way, how much are you hoping alternate Charlie Francis becomes a regular character so we see more of him?

5. William Bell and Olivia in the World Trade Center (Momentum Deffered)
What was the biggest cop out of Season 1? The abrupt conversation between Olivia and William Bell. After three episodes building it up, we finally got that confrontation. One thing that should be taken into account in this episode is that Olivia is simply reliving something she's already seen. Therefore the Olivia talking to Bell is that of Season 1, who hasn't had the trauma that season two Olivia has dealt with in the past three episodes. She's angry at William Bell, and suddenly out of the blue, Bell is telling her about a brand new threat that he's helped create. He may have hoped that she'd remember that info sooner rather than later, due to the damage it incurs throughout the rest of the season. Interesting how one unintended accident throws off an entire plan. Furthermore, we got our first in depth look at William Bell, and set up this still mysterious persona of a man like Walter, but without the same mistakes.

4. Peter vs. Walter (The Man from the Other Side)
There are several touching heart to heart moments between Peter and Walter this season, and they all built towards making this scene as crushing as it was. Peter learned the truth about himself in the worst way possible: he figured it out for himself. Walter's plans on telling Peter were smashed to peices in just moments, as Peter finally saw past the cloud that the man he thought was his father created. It was really a moment for Peter to lash out at Walter for all the pain he's caused on the world, and now to him. Walter was shocked and broken, and despite his attempts to make out a positive outcome, he ended up losing Peter.

3. Olivia is captured and replaced (Over There)
It's impossible to match the epic final scene of Season 1 that revealed a still standing World Trade Center, but the Fringe team came close to it in Season 2. The twist that Olivia had been thrown into a jail cell in the alternate universe, while the red head Olivia returned to and infiltrated Fringe division in our universe measured on a deep emotional level. The only problem was that for most of the episode it was obvious that this would happen. It was still disturbing and horrifying to see Walternate staring without emotion at our Olivia, afraid and helpless and worlds away from everything she cares about. The elder Observer from August sure had it right. Things sure have become so hard for her.

2. The cure to Peter is found and lost (Peter)
The entire episode of Peter could've been chosen for the artistry of the episode, the brilliant performance by John Noble, and the mysteries revealed in the episode. However, of all those little moments, this was the one that hit us deepest. When our Walter gets so much joy at seeing Walternate find the cure for Peter, only for Walternate not to see it himself, and Walter's response to that... That was one of the most brilliant emotional moments in Fringe history. We know what's going to happen, and we know that it all could've been simply avoided. Walter could've grown from that to be a better person, but instead he set out save the son he wasn't able to save the first time.

1. Walter Bishop vs. Alistair Peck (White Tulip)
For all the hype and quality around the William Bell and Walter reunion, the greatest moment of this season came from the standalone episode White Tulip, when Walter had a one on one with the "villain" of the episode, Alistair Peck. They were both brilliant scientists, and they both suffered great losses. Walter may be trying to stop Alistair from jumping back in time, but this is also his chance to confide with somebody in a way he couldn't with Olivia. We got a brilliant look at Walter's point of view, and it really raised the bar for genius vs. genius confrontations on the show. It's one of the reasons Bell vs. Bishop didn't turn out as good as it should have.