Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reel Facts & Opinions

FACT: In an interview with The L.A. Times, a Warner Bros. exec stated that the studio is looking to move ahead with more Batman films, despite Christopher Nolan’s upcoming THE DARK KNIGHT RISES serving as a finale to a trilogy. Nolan may be involved in some capacity.

OPINION: As long as Nolan is involved, things may be all right. Without him, the studio is a lock to screw things up with a reboot. Sans Nolan, we are guaranteed to get a shallow Batman film, devoid of any character development with brainless action, with Sam (deadpan) Worthington as Bruce Wayne and one of the TWILIGHT kiddies as Robin. It would be filmed in (goddamn) 3D and shoved down our throats via Happy Meals. Warner Bros. would be wise to let Nolan stay involved, or else they would have one hell of a Bat-flop on their hands.

FACT: The (goddamn) 3D conversion of STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHATOM MENACE will be handled by the same company (Prime Focus) who did the god-awful conversion of last year’s CLASH OF THE TITANS. The MENACE conversion is being meticulously overseen by George Lucas and visual effects wizard John Knoll.

OPINION: TITANS will go down in history the worst 2D to 3D conversion ever; with a blurred and shit-dark picture, the film was nearly unwatchable. Hopefully, Lucas and Knoll can keep their standards high and give the fans an excellent conversion that the films deserve.

FACT: The WOLVERINE sequel is still moving ahead, despite the departure of director Darren Aronofsky and the loss of shooting locations in Japan.

OPINION: The studios seem keen on giving people exactly what they don’t want. No one really asked for a (goddamn) 3D conversion of STAR WARS, and no one wanted a sequel to a WOLVERINE film that sucked goat’s nuts. The hiring of Aronofsky was interesting, but apparently too good to be true. The best thing to do here is to let Wolvie go to Marvel where he belongs; where he can get in on THE AVENGERS film, seduce Ms. Potts and then fight Iron Man to the death.

What say you?

Friday, March 25, 2011


SUCKER PUNCH is Zack Snyder unleashed. After a long string of adaptations, the man was finally given free rein to do something original. With the chain off the collar, Snyder delivers a film chock full of all of his favorite genres. PUNCH is a war film, a quest, and a fantasy movie; full of zombie-Nazis, dragons and orcs, topped off with sexy women in mini-skirts fighting with swords and guns. It is 12 movies all wrapped up into one, taking elements from SHUTTER ISLAND and INCEPTION and adding tons of style and video-game level action.

Wrongly sent to a mental institution after the death of her mother and sister, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), is taught to escape within her own mind and imaginations by Ward psychiatrist Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino). Baby Doll discovers a gift of sexy and hypnotizing dancing, which also allows her to retreat into her fantasy worlds, where she searches for items to help her escape her confines. Baby initially re-imagines the hospital as a brothel, and then takes her fantasy a level deeper, taking along with her new friends and fellow inmates Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Rocket (Jena Malone), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), and Amber (Jamie Chung).

The world of SUCKER PUNCH exists on three levels; the first being the real world, the second being the brothel that Baby imagines, and the third are the war-zones and battlefields she conjures up while she dances on level 2. Sound confusing? It really isn’t. The bulk of the film centers upon 2 and 3, and they are meshed together nicely. The audience is challenged to think now and then and the results are mostly fun.

And level 3 is where the film really shines. Led by the mysterious Wise Man (Scott Glenn), the gals take on missions directly related to their semi-real world surroundings. The action sequences are a blast, even though most of them look like cut-scenes from video games. The gals battle oversized robot-samurai while the camera ogles up their skirts. The sexiness, while obvious, is still managed to be done tastefully.

Probably the smartest thing about PUNCH is that we never get to see Baby dance her hypnotizing routine, as the movie shifts right into her imagination just when she begins to gyrate. The audience is left to use their (ahem) imaginations. And perhaps the weakest thing about PUNCH is the lack of a real villain. Oscar Issac turns in a good role as Blue (an abusing orderly), but he comes off as an annoying intrusion more than a real threat.

The finale, while wrapping things up neatly, manages to grind the film to a near halt. It unfortunately cannot overcome the spectacle of the first two action sequences. The ending is only moderately satisfying, and one has to wonder if there were alternate endings the filmmakers might have had in mind. Still, SUCKER PUNCH is a great watch; toying with the eyeballs and the imagination throughout.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reel Posters & Opinions

A movie poster, much like a trailer, can sink or swim a film well before it sees time on the big screen. In the YouTube age, where video is everywhere, the poster may sadly become a dying art. Will light-boxes in movie theatres one day be replaced by HD LED’s, in (goddamn) 3D? Let’s hope not.

In this first edition of Reel Posters & Opinions, we’ll take a look at some recently released posters pushing some upcoming films in 2011:


Opinion: This looks more like the Vigo the Carpathian painting from GHOSTBUSTERS II, but at least they got the tone right. This would be more effective if it was Arnie at the top of the pile of skulls promoting the long awaited KING CONAN film. But one can only dream…

Poster: CARS 2

Opinion: This blogger is one of the few fans of the first film, but this poster is just lame. Granted, Pixar was probably just going for a “less is more” approach in what is likely just a teaser poster, but that doesn’t stop it from looking like a first-year Photoshop student’s project.


Opinion: Lincoln. Redford. Classic. Love it.


Opinion: Someone stop this fuck from making movies.


Opinion: This might have been funny 25 years ago.

Poster: THOR

Opinion: Slapping fonts on the faces of the actors is a revitalized technique brought back by MICHAEL CLAYTON and ripped off by THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU. It’s annoying to see old ideas rehashed over and over, but in this case it seems to work. That plus the red color is a real eye-grabber, and that’s what really counts in movie posters: visual impact.

What say you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reel Facts & Opinions

FACT: recently put together a list of Movies That Should Not Be Made Into 3D. The list included the upcoming re-release of TITANIC, the upcoming THE GREAT GATSBY remake and A CHRISTMAS CAROL (the recent Robert Zemeckis/Jim Carrey version).

OPINION: While the article is well-founded, it missed one thing: how about ALL movies should not be in 3D! The prices are too goddamn high, and most filmmakers don’t know what to do with the 3rd dimension anyway. The last two films this blogger viewed that were intended for 3D viewing were TRON: LEGACY and SAW 3D, and neither film delivered. Now, AVATAR and A CHRISTMAS CAROL both worked in 3D, and some would argue TOY STORY 3 did as well. But let’s face it; TOY STORY 3 carried enough of an emotional punch that did not have to be viewed with dark glasses on. This (goddamn) 3D thing was a gimmick in the 1950’s, and it’s a poorly executed gimmick now. And one more thing: if the 3D manages to screw up the long-awaited HARRY POTTER finale, prepare for an Egypt-style riot.

FACT: It was a busy past weekend in Middle-earth; in an official press release, Warner Bros. and New Line announced that production had finally begun on THE HOBBIT. The release included a new Facebook page and official blog at The blog includes some uber-geeky pics of Peter Jackson on the set of Bilbo’s hobbit-hole. On top of that, the Extended Editions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS in glorious Blu-ray will finally be released on June 28th.

OPINION: The geek world has got to be wet over the LOTR extended editions finally seeing a proper release. The theatrical Blu-rays, which many consider to be inferior versions of the film, rightfully received poor reviews thanks to a shitty transfer. THE HOBBI¬T finally getting underway is a huge chunk of good news considering the problems the project has endured over the past few years. The only disheartening aspect to it is that it’s being shot in (goddamn) 3D. Go away already.

What say you?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Reel Review: LIMITLESS

Years from now, LIMITLESS just may be one of those films that college professors would explore in a film theory class; an example of formulaic, paint-by-numbers, cookie-cutter filmmaking. Take a down and out loser, give him immense power, and watch him screw it up. The film could be used as such an example in a marketing perspective as well; take a young and hunkish actor, pair him up with a screen legend, and push the film as a roller coaster ride. But does it all work on screen?

Eddie, A failing writer (Bradley Cooper), is a depressed slob, watching his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) and his publisher cut ties from his screwed up life. Things change when he runs into his drug-dealing ex-brother-in-law, who gives him a pill which allows him to access all of his brain functions (normally us humans can only access 20%). Creativity and logic becomes easy, and Eddie learns new languages, writes a novel in 4 days, and makes millions on the stock market while catching the attention of power broker Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro).

LIMITLESS is a too-much-power-too-soon story disguised as a story of addiction. The film thankfully doesn’t spend a lot of time on the horrors-of-drugs angle, and focuses more on Eddie has he irresponsibly tries out his new brain powers. LIMITLESS starts off strong, pulling the viewer into Eddie’s brain and giving us a first-hand look at his awakening. Director Neil Burger sets a great tone; the film is seen in darks and grays when he is off the drug and in livid color when he is on it.

However, things start to derail and fall apart around the midway point. Burger, not knowing what to do with a great established character in the form of Eddie, tosses in a shitload of subplots that just distract and derail things. Russian gangsters and a stupid murder plot pop in now and then and just annoy the living hell out of everything, with the murder plot going away just as fast as it came around. A shame, as the story of Eddie should have been strong enough to carry the film.

Cooper shines as Eddie; pulling the viewer right into his shoes. De Niro just kind of shows up for this one; too often showing off that squint-and-grimace that’s quickly becoming boring.

Despite the issues, LIMITLESS still makes for entertaining viewing thanks to some strong pacing and a neat premise. The film never bores, sags or drags; the foot is on the accelerator throughout. Perhaps its greatest fault is that for a movie that is all about brain power, it doesn’t provoke a whole lot of thought.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reel Facts & Opinions

FACT: Ivan Reitman, director of GHOSTBUSTERS, recently said in an interview concerning the long-gestating GHOSTBUSTERS 3, that “there’s a very good script” and “…we’re just waiting for Bill Murray to read it”.

OPINION: Take your time, Bill. We all know that Ivan really wants to get the band back together so he can make the world forget about his past efforts such as NO STRINGS ATTACHED and MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND. Maybe by the time Murray gets around to reading it, Harold Ramis will have dropped the 564 pounds he’s gained since the wonderful GHOSTBUSTERS 2.

FACT: Robert Zemeckis’ planned motion-capture CG animated YELLOW SUBMARINE remake has been scrapped by The Walt Disney Co. Budget issues, plus a dwindling audience for mo-cap films seem to be a factor.

OPINION: All that plus the Zemeckis produced CG stinker MARS NEEDS MOMS tanked at the box office. Maybe all this will bring Zemeckis back into the live action film business, which he used to pretty good at. Just as long as it isn’t GUMP 2.

FACT: Oscar-winning musician Trent Reznor (never thought you would read that, did you?), has opted out of doing the score for ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER.

OPINION: Could have been interesting. This blogger votes for Nick Cave to take

What say you?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Reel Facts & Opinions; Abraham Lincoln: Movie Star

One of the most beloved and revered Presidents in history, Abraham Lincoln, will be featured in no less than three major studio films in the upcoming year. What’s the occasion? A quick check at the ol’ history book reveals that this March is the 150th anniversary of his inauguration. This blogger doesn’t credit Hollywood with that much intelligence, so it’s likely a happy accident, or maybe it was just time. Here are the Reel Facts and Opinions concerning the upcoming films:


FACT: Directed by Robert Redford, starring James McAvoy, Evan Rachel Wood, Robin Wright, Danny Huston and Tom Wilkinson. Set for release this spring, THE CONSPIRATOR seems to revolve around the conspiracy to murder Lincoln, with the center being the trial of Mary Surratt (Wright), who may or may not have been in on the plot (she was eventually found guilty and became the first woman to be executed by the federal government).

OPINION: The impressive cast-list suggests that when Redford comes calling, people answer. The material is probably best suited for Redford’s mature hands, although his last directorial effort (LIONS FOR LAMBS) was little more than a political soap box. Still, THE CONSPIRATOR has a story worth telling, and it’ll be interesting to see if Redford can make the journey to an ending that everyone already knows, worth taking.


FACT: Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (WANTED, NIGHT WATCH), starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Set to begin filming this spring for a 2012 release, HUNTER is based upon the best selling novel of the same name, and centers upon young Abe hunting vampires. Just like the title says.

OPINION: Bekmambetov’s unique vision will be right at home in what could very well be a very gothic-looking 1800 America, especially with Tim Burton producing and Trent Reznor doing the score. With a never-ending string of dry historical dramas every year (coughcoughRedfordcough), HUNTER would be a pleasant comic relief.


FACT: Directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln.

OPINION: Stevie has had this project on his shelf for nearly four years, with Liam Neeson and Sally Field once attached to play the Prez and his wife, respectively. The script is being written by John Logan, who wrote THE AVIATOR, and turned in some Oscar-attention with his work on GLADIATOR. All pieces seem to be in place for a massive American epic, with plenty of room for Steven to flex his once proud Oscar muscles.

Oh yes, and Daniel Day as Abe: what more can anyone ask?

What say you?

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Matt Damon has been very selective over his films in his career; carefully aligning himself with filmmakers such as Scorsese, Soderbergh, and Eastwood. His preference to handpick projects, along with his very good acting chops, has enabled him to make very good movies; for even the ones that aren’t that good still don’t manage to stink up the place. In THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, Damon hooks up with first-time director George Nolfi in a mish-mash tale of love and destiny that becomes a stone cathedral built upon a foundation of toothpicks.

David Norris (Damon) is a NY Congressman running for senator who has a tendency to get into bar fights. On the eve of losing an election, he encounters Elise (Emily Blunt), a charming woman who inspires him to be a more genuine person. The two fall for each other, but are then separated for years courtesy of the mysterious “adjustment bureau”; a collection of guys in suits and fedoras who are revealed to be controlling the destinies of the world. David chooses to defy his pre-determined destiny and chart his own course in pursuit of Elise's love.

With the destinies of mankind in the physical hands of others, BUREAU is a high-concept story brought down to earth with a classic man-versus-monster- driven- by- love tale. The pairing works, as David chooses to chart his own path in defiance of the monster. Things get really interesting when the Bureau reveals to David that Elise’s pre-determined course is better off without him; placing David in a choice between his own political dreams and a life with his true love.

Where things get shaky is the acceptance of the Bureau and their operations. The film is made up of a world that lives by its own rules; rules that don’t hold up to real-world logic, or even worse, movie-logic. Suspension of disbelief only lasts so long, as the Bureau bends the laws of physics with very little explanation towards the why or the how. Good science-fiction is always supported by good science, and the latter is consistently absent throughout. There can be success in maintaning an air of mystery about your villians, but it still needs to hold water.

Also frustrating is the half-hearted attempts to inject intelligence into the mix by occasionally stopping to debate whether or not mankind is-or-should-be in charge of their own destinies. The debates are sporadically inserted between chase-scenes as David goes from one predicament to the next in his pursuit of Elise. It’s only the enthusiasm brought forward by Damon’s acting, along with Emily Blunt’s charm, that manages to keep the film interesting.

The finale arrives with a huge buildup only to pay off with a “poof, everything’s fine now”; the film just collapses under its own weight. There are a few glimmers of great ideas in BUREAU: the notions of whether or not man is charge of his destiny, and if it is worth being with somebody if you knew you would ruin their life. But the film doesn’t stick with that for very long; choosing to change the rules every five seconds and making our heroes run around the city in a DIE HARD fashion. Damon has made one of those films that is not terrible to watch, but not great either. It's too bad the film's ambition doesn't match that of it's actors.


A Reel Review: RANGO

Director Gore Verbinski has quietly become one of the most diverse filmmakers in the business today; having dabbled in horror (THE RING), fantasy (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), black comedy (THE WEATHERMAN), and now animation AND old-west in the form of RANGO. Verbinski throws everything he has ever learned in his career into the film, and the result is a ride relying on fun more than heart.

Johnny Depp provides the voice of a domesticated chameleon who becomes stranded in the desert. Stumbling into a drought-ridden town, he relies upon his talent for acting and spinning yarns to get out of a few jams, and winds up becoming sheriff in THREE AMIGOS fashion. The chameleon borrows the name Rango from a beverage bottle, and sets out to save the town from drying out in a water scandal.

With a high concept of bizarre-looking, talking animals, RANGO keeps the flippers on the ground by keeping the story simple. It’s the tale of one’s search for himself; as Rango is not motivated by justice or morality, but to figure out who he really is. He begins the film with no name, and it is only through the accident of becoming sheriff does he begin to figure things out.

RANGO is an old-western right down to the core. The town is full of stock and cliché old-west characters; from the innocent mouse (Abigail Beslin), to the crooked mayor (Ned Beatty) to the town’s heart-and-soul and heroine Beans (an iguana played by Isla Fisher). The characters fit the setting and the story very well, and the audience can and will find themselves rooting for them.

RANGO only touches on the heartstrings here and there, choosing to pull us in with fun, slapstick and some eye-popping visuals/action sequences; there is a classical-scored chase-scene in the middle section that is just the most outstanding thing every put to an animated film. RANGO won’t make you cry in a TOY STORY 3 kind-of-way, but will instead make you laugh and leave with a big ol’ smile.

Dozens upon dozens of movie references are subtly scattered throughout. Verbinski toys with a thin veil of homages only to whip it back totally towards the end with a whopper of a cameo. Verbinski also doesn’t water things down for an animated flick; there are plenty of go-to-hells, character deaths, and even a suicide attempt. By far this is the most mature animated film seen in years. Kids may have a hard time really connecting with it.

The visuals are outstanding; not only just in the incredible detail of the characters but in the environment as well. Certain characters and scenes are so well realized we half-expect a live-action person to walk through. Depp is perfect as Rango; injecting his own personality into him to the point that he can almost be seen on screen.

RANGO is a triumph in both visuals and storytelling. Verbinski has managed to make a true western epic in an animated world; a feat that is not easy to do.


Friday, March 4, 2011

A Reel Open Mike Huckabee

PROLOUGUE: This blog has nothing to do with politics. This blogger refuses to step foot into that stinking pile of manure. This very first Reel Open Letter is a direct reaction to one asshole stepping foot into OUR pile of manure.


Dear Mike Huckabee,

Fuck you. You pretentious douchbag. Your recent comments regarding Ms. Natalie Portman’s status as a single mom proves that you are self-righteous bastard living off the planet of reality.

If you believe Ms. Portman is a single mom by choice, and you criticize her for it, then fuck you. If she chooses to be a single parent, then that is her goddamn right as given to her by a whole bunch of quill-written words on parchment written 200 years ago. You might want to look it up.

If you believe Ms. Portman is a single mom by circumstance or bad luck, then fuck you. If she chose poorly in who to begin a relationship with, who to marry, or who to sleep with, then it’s none of your goddamn business. Her freedom to choose poorly is also written in that above-mentioned parchment.

Clearly, you have no business flapping your lips against Ms. Portman. You are not her god. Do the world a favor and stay out of her, and our business. Asshole.