Saturday, August 30, 2008

Recap: Summer Movie Edition

What do you know, there were some really good movies out this summer. Despite the tidal wave of bad ones, here were the ones that went above and beyond and lived to their hype, and then some:

1. The Dark Knight

2. Iron Man

3. Tropic Thunder

4. Hamlet 2

5. Vicky Christina Barcelona

6. Mamma Mia!

7. Kung Fu Panda

8. Surfwise

9. Man on Wire

10. Pineapple Express

Honorable Mention: The Promotion, The Foot Fist Way, Wanted, The Visitor, Jellyfish, Speed Racer

The Ones that got away: Wall-E, Indiana Jones

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Review: Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)

Funny. Sexy. Smart. Just a few of the things I look for in a man. Also, all the elements that make up the latest from the legendary Woody Allen. So fresh in a new Spanish setting. Lots of culture, attractive people, a tremendous soundtrack, and wine. Lots of wine.

This is the first thing I've ever liked Scarlett Johanssen in. Bravo.

Grade: A

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Review: Hamlet 2 (2008)

This movie rawks. Steve Coogan has taken long enough to get his face in American movie theaters. Being a lover of all things British, I was already a fan, but I'm so happy that he's in this film.

I'm going to keep it short: Lots of laughs, well developed story, good supporting cast, and an over-the-top inappropriateness that will make you glad you're not anal about being PC.

You know the song already; Rock me Sexy Jesus, so now go and sing it along in the theater.

Grade: A-

Review: Tropic Thunder (2008)

In hindsight, I would've reviewed this as soon as I saw it, more than a week ago.

Let's see what I remember. I wasn't looking forward to this like I was, say, Pineapple Express. That's usually a good thing, because *generally*, you are pleasantly surprised. With Pineapple, I was a tad disappointed. With Thunder, I was mightily impressed.

I think the story was good, but the cast is the biggest part. Seriously. You have a fantastic, fantastic cameo from Matthew McCounaghey, great supporting acting from the likes of Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte, Bill Hader, and Jay Baruchel. Then you have your main actors; Ben Stiller (doing Ben Stiller), Jack Black (doing Jack Black) and Robert Downey Jr., who goes above and beyond as an over-the-top method actor (I don't need to explain this, do I?) You sometimes forget it's really him under that makeup. They all basically act as themselves, which is exactly the key. They are all brilliant actors.

I won't say much about Tom Cruise. He was, just, well, eh. He really seemed to be trying too hard.

Worth while summer movie? Hands down. If for nothing else, see it for Robert Downey Jr. (Who, incidentally, also has the best of the fake trailers. Make sure you catch Satan's Alley!)

Grade: A-

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Random News: Twilight to replace HP on Nov. 21

From Cinematical:

For all you Harry Potter fans who are also devoted to a certain series of teen-vampire romance novels, here's something that should help you deal with Thursday's devastating news about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince being pushed back to next summer. Summit Entertainment announced today that with Harry having vacated the November 21 spot, they're going to fill it with Twilight, bumping it up a full three weeks from its original date of December 12.

While some fans wondered, irrationally, if the Harry Potter move was to get away from Twilight, Summit's CEO says Twilight never had any delusions of being more powerful than the boy wizard at the box office. "With a giant franchise like Harry Potter in the market, we had to stay clear of it," Rob Friedman told Variety -- hence the original date well away from Half-Blood Prince. "Their move created an opportunity to bring the movie to fans three weeks earlier."

Once November 21 opened up, the move was really a no-brainer. As a press release from Summit points out, movie theaters get very crowded around the holidays, and Twilight will be able to open on far more screens on November 21 than it could have on December 12. Now it'll be opening the Friday before Thanksgiving, too, which is nearly always a plus. Its only competition will be Disney's animated Bolt. The only loser here is Entertainment Weekly, whose Fall Movie Preview is now wrong again, before most readers have even seen it. (Or, from another point of view, now that issue is even more of a collector's item.)

What do you say? Are you excited about getting Twilight sooner? To those of you who have been sending Warner Bros. wrathful messages about the Harry Potter move, does this quell your anger somewhat? Will you at least be able to live and function and carry on?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Posters: Dark Knight sequel?

Oh my oh my. This is a glorious, glorious poster. It's not real, just a fan made poster. But still, it's great without giving anything away. Lots of great hints, really clever. Love it.

Random Notes: Harry Potter pushed to 2009

From Aint It Cool News..

Wellity wellity wellity.

I read an article in Empire the other day where David Yates, the director, talks about what changes they've made in the script. Basically I was appalled. They talk about The Half Blood Prince as if it's a throwaway novel, and people just really want to get down and dirty to all the action of The Deathly Hallows.

First, I love HBP. It's my very favorite of the Harry Potter series. To butcher the entire focus of the story would be an abomination. To actually say that skipping over the boring backstory of Lord Voldemort is unacceptable.

I'm hoping that this change of date actually means that the test screenings went very very badly. And "suffering the repercussions" of the writers' strike actually means "we fucked up bad on this one."

I'm disappointed in the news, but all this means is that the movie *better* kick some serious ass next Summer. Am I right?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review: Man on Wire (2008)

Once upon a time, there were two buildings in New York, together known as the World Trade Center.

Even before they were built, there was a young man in France named Phillipe Petit, who had found his ultimate dream.

Man on Wire is a documentary like I have not seen before. It starts out the morning of the "heist", using dramatization in its place of real film footage (I'm assuming because there was none to speak of). Every so often, though, we meet new characters of the story and look at other events that lead up to this astonishing feat.

What am I talking about? Why, the rare event that occurred atop the World Trade Center, where Phillipe Petit wire-walked across.

We see before all this that he is a highly skilled wire walker, as well as a unicyclist and a street magician. One day he saw in a newspaper that the WTC were going to be built, and he immediately made it his goal to walk across the air that separates the two building.

The documentary is rich and charismatic and thrilling and emotional. In the very beginning, it looks like a movie leading up to a complicated bank heist. And it sort of is, in a way. In that they had to plan for months and months to infiltrate the building, bringing with them 450 lbs of wire.

No mention is made of the events that took place on September 11, but watching it, you can't help but get that vibe, as you see the slow construction process of the towers take place, or when you see the spot where Petit signed his name on the tour, and pictures of all the other places he's wire walked, like the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Notre Dame.

Man on Wire is a wonderful work of art, a truly captivating documentary that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Grade: A

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Review: Pineapple Express (2008)

The golden rule in writing: Write about what you know. I have a feeling that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had some trouble with this movie, in comparison to their fantastic teen comedy Superbad. This plot is overly-complicated. Clearly, the two writers don't come from action backgrounds. They come from comedy backgrounds, and more specifically, improv comedy backgrounds.

Action movies don't always have room for improv. It's choreographed and rehearsed. Also, the tricky storyline involving witnessing a murder, being connected to the asian mob, being chased by a corrupt cop... Whatever. I'm still confused.

Pineapple Express is, in many ways, good. Seth Rogen is, as always, solid. Yet, he's playing exactly the same guy he played in Knocked Up, but with a job. His writing is once again superb, and I'd be content with a bunch of guys sitting around talking, making jokes. They're witty guys, and their timing is impeccable. Then, somewhere along the line, there's a subplot involving an 18 year old girlfriend and her parents, and whatever happens there we don't know. Eventually the whole story falls apart.

But I have a hard time criticizing these boys too harshly. I had some good laughs over this script, especially in the beginning with an excellent, excellent cameo by Bill Hader as a military soldier trying Marijuana for the government, and demonstrating the effects. If you check it out for anything, make it that first scene.

Grade: B

Review: Step Brothers (2008)

This movie is vulgar. I know what you're thinking; "Well, it IS a Will Ferrell movie". No. This is much worse. These speakers go to eleven.

But... I still sat through it, and begrudgingly laughed uncontrollably at some parts. Everyone has their immature side, I guess, and Will Ferrell brings out my best.

But why, Will Ferrell, why? You've done serious stuff. You CAN be taken seriously. So why do you take your balls out of your pants and rub them on a drum kit? And why do we need to see it?

When does someone wake up in the morning and think "I need to see a guy rubbing his balls on a drum kit today". I hope never.

STILL... This movie made me laugh. A lot. I have no doubt in my mind that Will Ferrell and John C. Reily are talented. The evidence is there. But their talent is not being utilized to its full extent.

Please, someone help these gentlemen.

Grade: C

Review: Mamma Mia! (2008)

First: If you don't like ABBA's music, you are basically a monster.

I grew up around this stuff. No, I wasn't raised on ABBA, but whenever it was on the radio, my mom would sing along with it and eventually I would know the words too. When I was 12 or 13, I got ABBA Gold (Their Greatest Hits) for Christmas, a personal request.

I was also fortunate to see Mamma Mia! on stage not too long after that.

So yeah, I'm not a monster.

There must be something somewhere, where you can have a bad story, bad acting, bad singing, and still have an enjoyable movie where you can't help but giggle happily.

This isn't true of all musicals based off of classic pop songs. Case in Point: Across the Universe.

But here is a case of exactly that; Mamma Mia! Has a flawed storyline. What kind of girl grows up with no knowledge of her father, then all of a sudden wants a "perfect wedding" where her daddy gives her away at the altar? That doesn't sound like it would be special to me. It would probably be awkward.

Second, the acting. I usually love Meryl Streep, but she was sort of unwatchable in this. Her face was never right, and her singing was way way below par. The three potential fathers? Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth. Of those three, who is chosen to be the main guy whom Streep's Donna has been so helplessly in love with after all these years? Pierce Brosnan? The man looks ridiculous when he sings. Stellan Skarsgard is good as the wild adventurer Bill, but Colin Firth is pitch-perfect as the uptight, conservative-but-wants-to-be-wild, befuddled Englishman that he always does so well. I wish he was one of my three dads.

The only other exception in acting is the great Julie Walters. Donna's friends are sassy and memorable, and Walters fits the bill. A british writerr, who would rather see the world than look at another man.

Still, if this movie doesn't make you smile, it might be a good idea to check your pulse.

Grade: B

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Something Cool: Movie Poster Lettermarks

Empire Online Has created one of the most interesting games ever (in my humble opinion, being a huge fan of movies, and a huge graphic design geek). It's a ransom note spelled out with movie poster fonts. See how many you can get.

My Score: 23/46.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Trailers: How To Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008)

I really hope this is not another Run Fatboy Run. I have no doubt of Simon Pegg's talent, it's just the movies he's in sometimes.. And I really hate Kirsten Dunst. Still, I will have faith. I enjoyed RFR enough, so hopefully this will be just as good if not better.

That is, of course, if the release date doesn't get pushed back 6 months.

Trailers: The Spirit [Full] (2008)

From what I know of the original comic, this movie looks nothing like it. Still, I'm a fan of Frank Miller, and even if it doesn't hold true to its origins, I'm sure in the very least, it'll be an entertaining, visual thrill ride.

Trailers: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)

I don't know how I JUST found out about this, but it looks ADORABLE. I can't wait.