Wednesday, February 29, 2012

REVIEW - One For The Money (2012)

I'm kinda glad to have been passed a DVD screener of that one instead of catching it in theatres. Not so much because it's bad -which I didn't necessary feel it was- but because it felt much much more like a decent pilot for a potentially interesting TV show than a $40M studio franchise-hopeful. Seriously, I'd be keen to tune in next week and catch the further adventures of Stephanie Plum and her quirky entourage, which also showed potential but much too little development as it was. I popped over to Rotten Tomatoes to see if other reviewers felt the same, and HOLY COW those critics DO NOT like Katherine Heigl, to a point where I feel their opinion of the film is tainted by their dislike of its star. Hence the 2% aggregated rating. NOT a typo folks, One For The Money ranks lower than Ghost Rider 2 which already makes my top-5 for worst of the year.

The film is based on the 18-strong series of books by Janet Evanovich about bounty hunting wannabe Stephanie Plum. She's a quirky gal who loses her job as lingerie salesperson and stumbles into the bail bonds business with her first job being to bring in one of her exes, a former detective wanted for murder. Evanovich never hides from her status as a pulp writer, and so the film doesn't try to re-invent the wheel. It DOES try to emulate Elmore Leonard's work, which of course fails - most Leonard adaptations do, except for a trio of 90s flicks produced under the  guise of Lawrence Bender & Danny DeVito. Again, had this been tagged for the small screen, especially with 18 novels worth of material to pick from, the quality would've seemed much more flattering. The fact that director Julie Ann Robinson's resume is almost exclusively lodged in TV work doesn't help in that regard.

"Yup, all the writers on Grey's Anatomy have one of these now."

So the story itself isn't the problem -honestly, does Titanic have that much of a story?- but the fact that, well, it's  a bit dull and colorless in its execution. It lacks the grand spectacle quality that movies should have, and the humor side never generates more than a few polite smirks. Which is probably not helped by the fact that the three lead characters are played by TV stalwarts: Heigl, Terra Nova's Jason O'Meara and Rescue Me's Daniel Sunjata. Don't get me wrong, all three answer perfectly to the casting call of the books, but they all clearly have that smaller-scale ingredient that makes them look like fishes out of water here. That and the fact that it allocates barely enough screen time and material to solid vets like John Leguizamo and Debbie Reynolds to have them be credited at all.

Overall not nearly as bad a film as critics and reviewers made it out to be, and certainly a step up from the usual dead-of-winter atrocities usually dumped by studios in these cold months. Just not worth the increasingly exorbitant cost of a night out at the multiplex. And certainly not worth making sequels out of. I do hope though that someone will have the smarts to spice this up and make it a weekly treat on a cabler like FX or Showcase. It worked for Sookie Stackhouse, Dexter Morgan and Raylan Givens, so should it for Stephanie Plum. Played by someone less disliked than Katherine Heigl, however.

Final Word: 6/10



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tweet of the Day


The Scott Pilgrim Remix FULL VERSION



Posted yesterday on director Edgar Wright's own personal website was this amazing video featuring cool snippets from Scott Pilgrim edited to a combination of the 8-bit rendition to Sex Bob-Omb's "Threshold" with Ludacris' burlesque hymn "How Low". The whole thing courtesy of Audio/Video artist Mike Relm who specialises in remixing songs and videos to great effect.

SO, since Scott Pilgrim has been criminally ignored by audiences even though I said high and low it's one of my all-time favorite movies, well here's the video in question. Enjoy!




Snow-Storm Trooper

Not long ago, in a backyard not far away...

For those not native to my Winterland of Canada, there was quite the snow storm last Friday (Feb.24th), and one young lady named Michelle Young from my hometown of Lachute, Qc, decided to have a little bit of Imperial fun with it. Well done Michelle, now try a wookie mud statue this spring...


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

REVIEW: Ghost Rider - Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

What. The. F@*# did I just watch?!? Critics have been harsh over this belated sequel/reboot/whatever that was, and so my expectations for bad overdone campy fun were high; I was EAGER to see a fun bad movie. Like an old-time Sam Raimi  or Robert Rodriguez or Peter Jackson pre-rings having a blast. But this... this isn't even campy. Nor fun. Or even funny. It's painful. I mean physically painful for the eyes to watch.

There are so many ways this film fails spectacularly that it's impossible to list them all, but the absolute worst has to be Nic Cage. This isn't your typical bad, phoned-in, lazy cliché Nic Cage. This is wig-out Nic Cage quite visibly forcing himself to crank the wig-outness to 11 and then swallow a can of shtrong Columbian coffee grains -without water-  ergo it is so bad I truly, sincerely and 100% honestly hope someone at this weekend's Oscar Ceremony calls on him to get up onstage, apologise on his knees and give his Oscar back. Then clean everybody's shoes with his tongue. You'd think he was contractually forced to do it and acted it out on screen, but reports suggested Cage loved it so much he wants to do a third.  Where he will presumably sit on a pale horse, and Hell followed with him. God help us all.

This is Nic Cage on drugs. Any question?

The positive thing about it is that Cage's brain-scratching "performance" doesn't clash with the rest of the cast who are equally on a braincell-killing rampage, even poor Ciaran Hinds who deserves so much better. When the only credible performance comes from Christopher Lambert in a 35-second cameo, you know your film's got  some deep problems. So directors Neveldine & Taylor tackled those problems by making the editing, photography, soundtrack and special effects just as godawful . Hand-on-heart I do not exaggerate: people in the audience were looking at each other in disbelief. Before walking out. It's a complete mess that I couldn't nor even wanted to  make sense of.

There are so many questions I'd wish to ask to the producers of this film -How did they get THAT to be greenlighted, how on EARTH can Nic Cage be even WORSE than before, how many cases of epilepsy did they get from test audiences, etc- but my main concern is who the heck edited the theatrical trailer for this film? That guy did SUCH a great job of selling a completely different film to me that I fear if the GOP get their hands on him they could get Newt Gingrich elected President in a landslide. Suffice it to say disappointed does not apply; this is a cautionary tale against drug use in Hollywood. They seem to gots some strong stuff over there.

Final Word: 1/10


Thursday, February 23, 2012

SCENE IT: Star Spangled 5-0



THE DISH'S NATIONAL ANTHEM

Neil Amstrong's first step on the Moon and famous blurb that came with it almost never made it to Earth, and wouldn't have if it wasn't for 3 technicians lodged in the middle of a sheep paddock in rural Australia. Sounds like a farce, but then again so did the whole enterprise when you think of it...

HBO's wonderful little film, which went largely unnoticed when released in 2000, tells the story of the small town of Parks, Australia, who agreed to lend a hand to NASA with their radio telescope during the Apollo 11 mission. Full of sweet, funny and touching moments, the epitome of the story to me was the cultural clash expressed in this side-splitting moment where a  band, made up of teenage boys whose only knowledge of America is its pop culture, are ask to play at a ball in honor of the American ambassador on the eve of the fateful day. And are clearly not ready to do so...

Watch and smile, then go out and buy the damn DVD!

The Dish: National Anthem scene from Arnprior on Vimeo.


TRAILER: Chuck Norris vs Communism

I can't say I don't enjoy the odd Chuck Norris pot shot a few dozen times a day, but sadly this title is completely unrelated to those and spectacularly misleading. So much that MANY people might completely overlook this documentary which tells of an amazing story of hope and heroism of the non-buttkicking kind. 


The documentary is actually a project currently seeking financing to be completed, and it's one of these things that really deserve a huge boost from every possible blogger like moi. I remember hearing about this tale back when I was a student, and I honestly thought it was no more than an urban legend...


 It tells the sheer exploits of  Irina Margareta Nistor, a Romanian lady who at the worst of Ceausescu's draconian regime during the 1980s dubbed with her own voice over 5000 foreign films that she distributed via a complex network of truckers and  illegal video clubs. When Television broadcast was narrowed down to a only couple hours a day of Government propaganda, her voice became a beacon of hope and comfort for thousands of families. 


Here is the trailer for the project, while you can learn more over at the Official Site


Chuck Norris vs Communism from ilinca calugareanu on Vimeo.



Friday, February 17, 2012

David Bowie's Movie Poster Mash-up!!!

I've received a few message this week about those David Bowie posters I've been putting up daily on the right-hand side of my blog, and it seems some people actually like it (thanks Mom!) and asked that I make them all available to view.

The idea is actually not mine, sadly. It's part of a weekly competition over at Empire Online where each week a subject is given and participants are asked to modify existing movie posters to fit that subject. And this week was Bowie week. So without further ado, here are my own entries for that contest (I'll let y'all know if I win).  Yes, I did all of those, even the bad ones...











So what'd you think????
Please let me know, sound off right here below!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SCENE IT: The Choppy Ending




FOOR ROOMS' Finger Bet
I must've watched that scene alone 200 times easy, and I still can't stop laughing my arse off every single time.

The film itself is pretty much forgettable stuff. It's 4 sketches, from four directors, all centred around Ted (Tim Roth) whose one and only night working as a bellboy grows increasingly freaky and neurotic. Nothing to reinvent the wheel, and not necessarily funny (except for Tim Roth's deliciously over the top performance) until that final sketch, the Tarantino sketch. in typical Quentin, it's talk-talk-talk all along but builds up to one ultimate moment that shoots you out of your seat.

So here's the set-up. Tarantino, playing a hotshot movie producer, calls Ted to the Penthouse and asks him for a favor. Seems that a friend of his, inspired by an obscure Hitchcock Presents episode, wants to win Tarantino's car in a bet that involves lighting his Zippo 10 times in a row. If he fails, he loses a finger. Since no one is just drunk enough to handle that business, They figured slipping a thousand bucks to the Bellhop would convince him to accept the duty, should the bet be lost. Ted's already had a very bad night and is just about to lose it. And thus....



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MARQUEE SHOWDOWN #5: Vinnie vs Arnie

WHY?
Predator is usually regarded as a much more iconic film due to its already established star (Diesel became known because of Pitch Black, while Arnie already was a Hollywood golden goose at that point), the fact that it came out 25 years ago and eventually hatched a wide-ranging franchise, from spin-offs (AvP) to video games and even comic books. But the truth is both films are extroardinarily similar in style, substance, inspiration and success: low budget Aliens-like hits where characters die until the almost-last one that accomplished the rare feat of combining action sci-fi and horror to a perfect blend. 


THE PLAYERS
Pitch Black : Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Rhianna Griffith, Claudia Black
The film came out completely star-less, which is one of the things I liked so much about it: you truly didn't know what to expect, who will be bad and who good, who will live or die, etc. Diesel came out of absolutely nowhere to give us the most badass anti-hero since John McClane dropped Alan Rickman's stunt double from the 40th floor. Also worthy of mention are Claudia Black then known to sci-fi nuts for cult classic show "Farscape", David Keith who's always a welcome addition to any project, and newcomer Rhianna Griffith who confounded everyone into thinking she's a dude.


Predator : Ah-Nold, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carillo, Kevin Peter Hall.
Let's face it, most people went in to see an Arnold movie, so right there you got star power up the wazoo, but acting?!? hmmm. Surrounding him are known faces but little in terms of actual stardom - Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura and Carl Weathers, not much glitter here sad to say. When all is said and done though, the true stars turn out to be F/X wizard Stan Winston and the Predator himself Kevin Peter Hall whose background as a mime and proficiency in tribal dances (seriously) helped this movie give us a very scary antagonist like we'd never seen before. Hall sadly passed away soon after completing work on the sequel.


Advantage: Tie



RATINGS
Pitch Black : MetaCritic=49%, IMDb= 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes= 55%, Rogert Ebert= 2/5
Predator  MetaCritic=36%, IMDb=7.8, Rotten Tomatoes= 76%, Roger Ebert= 3/5

Advantage Predator

BOX-OFFICE 
Pitch Black :  $23M production budget. Domestic theatrical take of $39M with an addition $13.9M world wide for an estimated attendance of 7,280,300 theatre-sitters. The film's true success though was in DVD rentals and sales, big enough to warrant a $105M sequel 4 years later. Which kinda bombed critically and commercially.

Predator : $15M budget; quite low indeed, but that's in 1987. Domestic take of $59.7M, with an additional $38.5M world wide for an estimated 15,277,600 multiplex dwellers. In  other words, lucrative movie. Though it needed 24 years to generate a decent sequel (2010's awesome "Predators"), with some pretty dismal entries in between.

Advantage: Predator

ANALYSIS
  • Pitch Black came out in the Dead Zone of mid-February with little marketing, no star and no brand recognition, and still managed to crawl its way to cult-classic status thanks to a fresh vision from a very inventive director who pulled off a kick-ass looking film for very little money.      Many films tried to drape themselves in the Aliens cloth, but very managed to pull it off as Twohy did. Maybe not original, but smart, steady and scary. Too bad it's reputation got tarnished by an overblown sequel that failed in most regards.
  • Director John McTiernan, who the previous year had crafted one of the all-time greatest action films with Die Hard, this time offered up the epitome of 80s macho action. Predator is a muscular fare about big guys with big guns being picked off one by one by an invisible enemy in a deadly jungle (a metaphor if there ever was one...). It doesn't waste any time with notions of justice, poetic or other, nor does it try to humanize its monster just as Frankenstein's creation was never named. Its an unapologetic spectacle of testosterone that ends with the inevitable conclusion foreseen by Conor McCleod: there can only be one. Sadly, there were others that tried too hard and failed too badly, while this one remains a milestone in sci-fi, action, horror and Schwarzenegger. 
AdvantageTie



Overall Winner: Predator





Sunday, February 12, 2012

Another tragic tale


Don't know which is the more shocking, that Whitney Houston is dead of that Bobby Brown outlived her. I can't disagree with those who feel he had a very large hand in her downfall, but ultimately, it's another tragic tale of someone who rose too high too fast  and got swallowed by the fame monster. May she finally find peace while the world turns a little more quiet without her voice. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Composites: What book characters should look like

This is an interesting project that I'm surprised hasn't really been done quite like this way before. Often times novelists will describe their characters' principle features, but to the way they look is always left to what their action suggest; I picture them by what I perceive from their dialogues and actions. For some though, it's the way Hollywood portrays them that seals the deal.

So someone (who probably has WAY more time on their hand than I) started a site called The Composites where they use law enforcement composite sketch software to match the author's actual description of the character. Mixed in with some of the artists's impression of the character to complete the task. Here are a couple of examples found on the site.


Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon

"Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The V motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down—from high flat temples—in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan."
And the Hollywood Version




Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley
"…Combed his light-brown hair neatly in front of the mirror, and set off for Radio City. He had always thought he had the world’s dullest face, a thoroughly forgettable face with a look of docility that he could not understand, and a look also of vague fright that he had never been able to erase. A real conformist’s face, he thought…Really it was only his darker hair that was very different from Dickie. Otherwise, his nose—or at least its general form—his narrow jaw, his eyebrows if he held them right…He wasn’t really worried. Tom had at first amused himself with an eyebrow pencil—Dickie’s eyebrows were longer and turned up a little at the outer edges—and with a touch of putty at the end of his nose to make it longer and more pointed, but he abandoned these as too likely to be noticed. The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them. The rest fell into place…He might play up Tom a little more, he thought."
And the Hollywood Version


SCENE IT: How to Start a Gunfight


I would need much more than a blog entry to detail why I think 2003's Open Range is easily Kevin Costner's best, so I'll boil it down to my favorite moment in the film: the start of the climactic gunfight.

This thing has been coming all movie long, and for Costner's cowboy Charlie Waite, it isn't about survival or honor, it's not even about living by a code that he can't find anywhere anymore. His demeanour is sharply contrasted by his most direct opponent, the gunslinger known only as Butler (played by the much underrated Kim Coates) whose dangerous reputation is built up throughout the film without ever meeting him until then. Waite is a workhorse with an ironclad set of values while Butler is your typical glamorous "shooting" star.

Most movies, westerns or dramas or thrillers alike, would build up that moment and take the longest time to bring the tension up to eleven, which is why Costner's action is so jaw-dropping: he's not there to settle a score or clean up the city, this is nothing short of an execution and he won't wait for the composer to give them a cue, he goes straight for the head. If you haven't seen the movie, skip this video and head to the nearest store. Otherwise, here's one of my all-time favorite movie moments. 





Friday, February 10, 2012

REVIEW: Underworld - Awakening (2012)

Well... at least Twilight: Breaking Wind part II won't be the only lousy Vamp/Wolf film this year. But let me start by saying I liked the original Underworld; laughingly bad dialogues and cardboard-cutout characters, but it was awesomely stylish, sexy and had some creative matrix-inspired action pieces. Wasn't funny, wasn't scary, but still very entertaining which is what I'm looking for to unwinde from a long week of 99-percenting it for the man.

Though THAT is the extent of my appreciation for this franchise. The first sequel was a gruelling 90-minute sitting exercise, and the following prequel had nice period costumes. I understand what they were trying to do here -make it not just modern/Gothic but also dystopian/futuristic- but I kind of wish they'd brought back one-hit wonder Kevin Grevioux (the big black dude from the first and third who actually wrote the first movie) to write this one as well; he was on to something there for a minute. Or simply allow Kate Beckinsale's once promising career to die in piece peace and NOT do another sequel.

"..Red hot mama, Velvet charmer, Time's come to pay your dues .."

The story sees Beck's vamp character Selene and her beau Michael trying to get out of dodge when humans learn of the two supernatural races then try to eradicate them. Michael is presumed dead while Selene is caught and kept frozen for over a decade. When she wakes up, she learns that Vampires have cowarded into hiding underground while the Lycans are said to be all but gone (LIES!!!). She'll need to find out why she was being stored in a fridge, why vampire Charles Dance doesn't like her at all,  but more importantly why a Linda Blair clone is calling her mommy. And that, you teenage hormone-freaks waiting for Megaupload to come back so you can download it, is what this film is about.

That franchise isn't meant to dwell into the horror genre so fittingly it ain't remotely scary (aside from, you know, being bad) but it does offer up a healthy dose of gore which some might appreciate while others (moi) will simply find uselessly gratuitious. The pretty much whole movie consists of set-ups to profile elaborate sequences of equally-gratuitous violence and magic gun-play (how DO those guns carry SO much ammunition?) which isn't all that interesting after the first 2 or 3 of those. It mostly limps from one action cue to another without really carrying any point or interest. Luckily, that kind of pace with a 90-something-minutes runtime helps it not fall into the overly boring territory.

Don't know which is the freakiest - her eyes of the fact she needs two guns to hit an 9ft tall rotweiller.

Kate Becksinsale, back after sitting out the prequel, looks just as good as you expect her to, but little more; she's given very little to work with in terms of character development, and this entry forgoes the sexy so she just walks around in her black leather outfit (pointless, put good looking) and shoots at anything that moves a thousand rounds at a time. In her defence, she doesn't look nearly as bored out of her skull as does poor Stephen Rea who once long ago took part in a much -MUCH- better Vampire flick. Michael Ealy and newcomer Theo James do their best with generic support parts, and Charles Dance seems to be quite eager to go back to filming Game of Thrones. Oh, and Scott Speedman's bare chest makes a quick appearance here and there, just like Wes Bentley who gets off'd after his second or third line (why even bother casting him then?!?).

I guess my perception of Underworld: Awakening (who got paid to come up with THAT title? and how much!) comes from high expectations of living up to the first one, though the early-February release date should've been a friggin sign. I don't regret having watched it (it's actually a step up from part II) and it's not the worst way to kill some time on a boring afternoon, but this franchise revival is all but dead on arrival.

Final Word: 4/10





N.B: If you wanna see what Stephen Rea can do with a well-written villain, check out the recent BBC thriller The Shadow Line. Chilling and masterful performance.


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Holy Status Update, Batman!

The guys behind How it Should Have Ended keep coming up with cruel and unusual ways to make milk come out of my nose. Here's their latest: What do Batman and Superman tweet about when they're not busy saving the day?

REVIEW: Man on a Ledge (2012)

I almost passed up screening this one due to its dismal rating on RottenTomatoes (35%) and low-to-no attendance during its theatre run, and for once I gotta say I enjoy my otherwise-annoying tendency to go against the grain. No one here's walking away with a post-party at Spago's, but it's one of the more straight-forward entertaining films I've seen lately.

The story, which I'll admit pro'lly didn't burn a whole lot of brain cells to type down, introduces us to a man who after checking into a fancy hotel and having himself a big pricey meal steps out of his room's window and onto the titular fear factor. We quickly learn that he's a former cop who was wrongfully busted and sent to jail, from which a daring escape lead to his vertiginous predicament. While the media and passers-by gather to see a show and the authorities scramble to avoid one, the real reason for his suicidal behavior is set in motion.

"I was just kidding. There's no spider in here!"

Again this little thing is certainly not award-worthy, especially with the sheer number of goofs and continuity mistakes that pile up form start to finish. But it's absolutely refreshing in that it deliberately avoids being dark and grim like so many of the thrillers we keep getting over and over with the same formula and sense of paranoia. It's far from a comedy, and certainly not an Ocean's wannabe, but the drama is constantly punctuated by moments of pitch-perfect humor and engaging bits of action that's just impossible to resist.

The real fun though is watching an embarrassing array of rock-solid fun to watch actors who when Combined do not even equal what Nic Cage made for any of his last 10 stinkers. Sam Worthington, one of the fastest rising starts of the last 5 years, keeps impressing me with his ability to juggle big-business roles with as many smaller projects as he can (including this one). Elizabeth Banks and Jamie Bell display a contagious fun playing cliché'd roles that lesser actors would simply phone in, Titus Welliver delivers his trademark douchebag to a Tee, Anthony Mackie keeps surfing the Hurt Locker wave as much as he can and my personal favorite Edward Burns adds that perfect mix of antagonism and humor like only he can craft.

"James Bond meets Jersey Shore. Now there's a concept..."

No matter the predictable story and sometimes cartoonesque characters, it never lets you get bored and sustains a tight pace for a quick 100-minute runtime. Mostly because it boasts a perfect sense of proportion; this is a small story with a very confined setting (95 % of the film takes place in no more than one square block) and brings along the feel of a small film made with a lot of fun. Although with a price tag of $42M, I confess I would've expect a much grander spectacle, or at least 3D which would be perfect for a film about a guy running around on a ledge 21 stories high.

Sad that it had to come out so soon after Brett Ratner's not-surprisingly lousy Tower Heist which follows the same nugget - a heist by reps of the 99% who aim to shove it to the evil 1%- and I do sincerely hope DVD watchers will give it a go. It's the kind of flick that even though you know miles ahead what's coming, you still wanna see it come because it's just damn cool to. So screw bad reviews, give this one a try!

Final Word: 7/10






Monday, February 06, 2012

SCENE IT: Pillow Pants will bite it off!


CLERKS II'S LEGEND OF PILLOW PANTS

Every time I watch Clerks II -and that's a lot, btw- I'm taken back to the theatre I first saw it in; the room was full of noisy cellphone-happy teenagers, but during that scene everyone was dead silent and frozen on the screen, myself included. It was a unique mixture of hilarity and creepy disbelief to see that poor kid explain why he can't have sex with his girlfriend. Jeff Anderson does an amazing job of carrying the film almost all on his own, and this scene is the perfect example: his reaction is as priceless as the puddle of pooh he's listening to.

And the cherry on top, what makes this little gem of a scene completely unforgettable, is the barely-noticeable but still effective music, ripped straight from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. One of my top-10 favorite films last decade, and this scene here is one of the many reasons why.



Sunday, February 05, 2012

REVIEW: Chronicle (2012)

I'm definitely not a fan of the Found Footage genre, but at least I can recognise when a director uses it for more than a gimmick and create something special. With Chronicle, first-time director Josh Trank uses every trick in the book, then turns them on their head. And while he's at it defies the entire movie industry by making a $12M movie that looks better than any given Nic Cage blockbuster.

The story centres on friendless loner Andrew, a dead-ringer for a young Leonardo DiCaprio, whose harsh home life is equalled only by the constant bullying he's subjected to in and out of school. Tagging along with his cousin and another school kid leaves them to discover some weird artefact that leaves them with increasing telekinetic ability. What starts out as fun and games to discover their power inevitably turns dark and deadly.

This would definitely be a different movie had it not been for the found footage angle. Many times it distracts and annoys, but director Trank wisely contrasts the genre's limitations as well as it's possibilities.In order to make it work he needs to resort to an outside character who, like Andrew, inexplicably films everything. But soon enough Andrew develops the ability to "levitate" his camera, which allows for a more traditional narrative. Then by the climax, everything called camera is used, from ever present cellphones to traffic cameras, all become part of the storytelling to underline that these "superheroes" live in a much different world than when Superman and Batman first done the tights.


"So wait, who's filming what now?"

Though Superhero is a big word, or at least a genre that gets a much-needed fresh take. Unlike Spiderman, Andrew's new gifts aren't a responsibility but a extension of his impending mental breakdown. Those truly are teenagers who use their powers to prank and "score", and cannot possibly be mature enough to become saviors. At times it feels like putting the X-Men in the harsh reality of a Gus Van Sant movie.There's not a whole lot of development for these characters, but they still feel like someone who lives right around the corner, who have an actual human reaction to their predicament. With some very well placed humor here and there, I should point at.

Even better, the film manages breathtaking superpower sequences without ever reeking of CG. One particular scene has the boys levitating at 20,000 feet and tossing a football around until an airline crashes their party; Michael Bay will have nightmares trying to figure out how Josh Trank made that one look so good on such a skinny budget. Adding to such realism are the actors, especially Dane deHaan as Andrew who does a surprising job of carrying the film on his shoulders, unlike the cardboard cutout who botched the similar hero downfall of Anakin Skywalker... Kudos to Michael B. Jordan (what an unfortunate name...), a kid who cut his teeth with solid work on TV's Parenthood and Lie to Me, and shows here that he deserves a big place on the big screen. 


"It's all in the Cojones."

Overall, Chronicle is a film that I like and respect for it freshness and the vision of a director who not only believes in magic but makes it happen. But it does present a number of flaws and remains one of those rapidly annoying found footage flicks. Definitely recommended, but unlikely that I'll be watching it as often as I did The Dark Knight or Scott Pilgrim.

Final Word: 7.5/10

N.B. The hip-hop song (as also heard in the trailer down here) is called Price Tag by Jessie.




MARQUEE SHOWDOWN #4: Terminator vs. Robocop

WHY?
Because a) they're the cybernetic icons of the 80s, two badass robots that made kids discover the meaning of "Rated R". And b) with the studios once scrambling to pit such iconic characters of the 80s against another (Jason vs Freddy, Alien vs Predator), it's about time somebody threw those two in a cage.

THE PLAYERS:
  • Terminator - Ah-nold, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Lance Henriksen. Legend has it Arnold was being tagged for the hero part and Henriksen for the killer 'bot, until the former convinced Jimmy Cameron to let him be bad which relegated Henriksen to a tiny role; the director made it up to him with Aliens. In any case, all major players became stars after this, Arnold most of all who made it his signature role.
  • Robocop - Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Ronny Cox. I wonder if it was an inside joke to have Ronny Cox face-off against Dexter Morgan last season, after Weller did for a few episodes the previous. Cox was a common sight during the 80s, Smith is an awesome badass, but otherwise little star power was involved in this, and without it Weller would still be a complete unknown. Is Nancy Allen even still alive?
  • ADVANTAGE  Terminator 

BOX-OFFICE: 
  • Terminator   - $6.4M production budget, in 1984. Domestic theatrical take of $38.4M  (Domestic Total Adj. Gross: $90.1M) with an addition $40M world wide.  Attendance estimated at 11,350,400 butts in seats.
  • Robocop   - $13M budget, in 1987. Domestic take of $53.4M (Domestic Total Adj. Gross:$108,4M).  Attendance estimated at 13,663,300 people who didn't have a cell phone back then. 
  • ADVANTAGE:  Robocop(But certainly not for the sequels...)

RATINGS:
  • Terminator  -  MetaCritic= 84%, IMDb= 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes= 100%, Rogert Ebert= 3.5/5
  • Robocop  - MetaCritic= 67%, IMDb= 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes= 88%, Roger Ebert= 3/5
  • ADVANTAGE:   Terminator

ANALYSIS:
  • The Terminator  was followed by probably the greatest sequel of all time, and two more slightly disappointing ones not worth mentioning. For years (actually, until the groundbreaking sequel) it was considered the greatest non-Spielberg action film. F/X are shitty by today's standard, but nobody cares, it's the coldness over Arnold's unstoppable killer that makes the film and gave us one of the most memorable movie characters ever (and catchphrase as well...). He's burned very deeply in our popular consciousness, so much you can't dissociate the powerhouse actor from it - remember how everybody used to call him during his short interlude into politics?
  • Nothing to boast sequel-wise for Robocop, yet Paul Verhoeven gave us something unique that no one truly managed to ever replicate; it works as an action film, but it's not really one. It's chock full of sarcasm, overblown clichés and intentional cheese that hit the target at every shot taken. Doesn't matter that Peter Weller's career never truly amounted to anything on it own, his place in pop culture immortality is assured thanks to this. Now, if only someone could understand how to truly remake or follow it up...


WINNER: Terminator



REVIEW: The Three Musketeers (2011)

Dear God. There are no words. I was almost excited about 2 years ago when Warner announced Doug Liman would direct a Sherlock Holmes/Guy Ritchie-inspired adaptation of the over-done Dumas story to freshen it up, because (I admit) I'm a sucker for Ritchie's fresh take on the characters. But then POS Anderson announced his own intention to do it, and when he managed to cut-corner his way to the finish line and get his film into production way before Liman, Warner -wisely- decided that "F*ck this sh*t, POS ruined it for the next 10 years". And Lord were they right.

Airships? Really?!? With so many adaptation, angles, takes and vision of the novel having been filmed, the one that hadn't been done is clearly the one it didn't need -at ALL- Science Fiction. because folks, this ain't your great-great-great-and so on-grand father's version of history. This is the guy who made Resident Evil telling you that England invaded France with sailboats that float in the friggin air and manoeuvre about as accurately as a 747.  Don't get me wrong, I like me a heatlhy dose of Steampunk -given the right story- but this here is a different kind of punk.

Flying sailboats. Because F*ck You, Isaac Newton.

The film does build on a strong foundation nevertheless: the titular swashbucklers, Matthew MacFadyen, Luke Evans and especially Ray Stevenson as Porthos are pitch-perfectly cast and bring a grounded realism that very sharply contrasts with the ludicrous nature of the "adventure" they face. And the rest of the cast. Orlando Bloom continues to stumble is way out of the shire, Christoph Waltz sadly phones it in -and long distance at that- and Logan Lermann as D'Artagnan reminded me why Percy Jackson was ruined so horribly. But the coup de grace is POS's insistence to keep casting his carboard cutout of a wife Mila Jovovich who turns Milady de Winter into an evil Cirque du Soleil wannabe.

The story starts out pretty faithfully, following D'Artagnan as he tries to join the Musketeers but in the process ends up engaged in duels with all three of his future friends. But then things start to go south with the Evil Buckingham showing up in the aforementioned vessels from a bad animé. Like everything else here, that thing makes no sense and not in a good way. If it was meant to be funny, like everything else here, it's not. Sometimes a movie is dumb enough you can't help like it; not the case. It's overblown, over CGI'd and quite frankly I'm thankful my cellphone has a Silence mode so I could play Angry Birds during the film.

"Hold on boys, we'll start sparkling any second now..."

I would predict that this fiasco, easily one of the worst last year equal only to Season of the Witch and Green Hornet, is a career ender for Anderson, but the dude keeps going even after Resident Evil and AvP. The ending not only suggests but states of coming sequels with "Buck" on his way to France with -get this- a FLEET of flying ships. Thank God it only made $20M in the U.S. out of a $75M budget. Do yourself a favor, forgo this one and track down Richard Lester's quintessential 1973 two-part adaptation instead.

Final Word: 3.5/10

N.B. I know his name is PWS, but POS is a better fit...


Saturday, February 04, 2012

SCENE IT: Greatest Movie Insult Ever!!!



THE SANDLOT'S ULTIMATE INSULT

There's something so fresh and completely pure about The Sandlot (at least the original one; the recent sequels were as unnecessary as they were dissapointing), I could never put my finger on it. Every time I watch it I feel like a kid who's experiencing his very first movie. A simple, silly little film, really, but it just gets me.

AND it has THE greatest insult ever dished out in a movie, hence one of my all-time favorite scenes.








Friday, February 03, 2012

AWESOME FAN ART: Moon Poster

This really cool cat who calls himself OmegaMan5000 over at the DailyFlix forum posted this incredibly cool fan poster he made for Duncan Jones's equally awesome Moon (you wanna talk Oscar snub? Sam Rockwell got ROBBED by not even getting nominated for that one). Good work mate, give us some more!


Thursday, February 02, 2012

REVIEW: Anonymous (2011)

I was eager to finally see Rolland Emmerich's Anonymous, having been curious about the subject for ever, and glad to finally know what the once strictly-blockbuster director can do with an actual story that doesn't rely on visuals. And I have to say the visuals are amazing for a period piece...

The film aims to explore the wildly controversial theory that William Shakespeare's plays were not written by the Stratford bard by bestowed on him by Edward deVeer, 17th Lord of Oxford who's immediate entourage disapproved of staged entertainment. And it is indeed an interesting theory due to the fact that so little is known or tangibly proven regarding Shakespeare and many of his contemporaries; after all, if there is truth to it even in the slightest, wouldn't the actual author deserve that we at least consider the alternative?

The truth is I was expecting a low budget Emmerich film, low as in independent cinema low. $30M isn't it unless you compare it to Godzilla, and the man just can't shake his tendency for brain-light entertainment which he scores on here much more than he did with a few of his more recent grand spectacles. The sets and costumes are absolutely gorgeous, same for the locations and photography for which a keen eye for the grandiose did wonders. It's a lively fable with palpable atmosphere which sweeps you along and never feels the weight of its 130 minutes.

The film however trips itself up when it stops in its tracks and tries to argue its case, which both disappoints and fails at every turn. There are actual historical facts here, but the story presented is at times so lurid that any truth goes spectacularly unnoticed, or we simply don't care for it. Nobody truly believes the "Virgin" Queen Elizabeth went her whole reign without getting some, but here she is said to have had an incestuous affair with her own bastard son,  Edward deVeer himself, with whom she had another bastard son. At which point I was expecting "Edward" to rip his shirt off and show everyone he sparkles under sunlight...

"And zhen Shakespeare becomes a giant reptile and fights weet ze aliens..."

And what about Will himself, here presented as a grotesque buffoon so decidedly gutter-bound that he can't even spell his own name let alone write it; how could anyone even then believe THAT is the greatest English-language playwright of all time? The actors all seem to know this is a 90-minute piece of tabloid gossip, and accordingly ham it up with no restraint. Can you blame them?

Kudos to the mother-daughter team of Joely Richardson and the great Vanessa Redgrave playing two stages in the life of Queen E, both setting the tone for overindulging in what little they were given to work with as quality of dialogue and intrigue. Rhys Ifans still manages to show a side of him no one suspected when meeting his flatmate to Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, and Rafe Spall (Timothy's son) takes the cake in pulling all the stops to make his Shakespeare caricature deliciously deviant. A big raspberry however blown in the general direction of Derek Jacobi who once again shows up for a quick paycheck-only part.

"Dear Santa, about that serious role I asked for last year..."

No answer will be found here regarding whether Shakespeare was a Fraud, but as far as having a good time with a big buttery bag of popcorn, mission accomplished. It's a fun film but it won't win it's central cause any further support, except maybe from the demographics who consider Fox News to be a credible source of information (insert sound of thousands of rednecks screaming for my head).

Final Word: 6/10