Movie News when it Breaks, Reviews Near the Release Date, Features every Sunday

31 Aug 2010

Movie Review: Fanboys

Fanboys was the dark horse at this year's FrightFest. I went into it thinking a) why was it rated an 18? and b) why was it at a horror movie festival? When I came out, none of these questions were answered.

The plot follows a group of four Star Wars nerds on their road trip towards the Lucas Ranch to find and watch a copy of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. But in true comedy road-trip style, hilarious oddities ensue. And yes, the oddities come thick and fast throughout, providing some genuine laughs throughout. The catch is that one of the members, Linus, has a short time to live due to cancer, and to add to this, constant tension is felt between him and another of the cast, Eric, is a lingering undertone. However, this plot is largely throw-away material, with the end result being jokes overriding the plot.

Sam Huntington and Chris Marquette, who play Eric and Linus respectively, play their rolls well with good on-screen chemistry. However, by the end, you feel like the characters never really reached their potential, with their individual story arcs being rather insignificant to the main arc. As for the rest of the cast, Dan Fogler and Jay Baruchel, who play Hutch and Windows respectively, steal the show, with Hutch being responsible for most of the memorable moments. both characters have varied and individual personalities that shine throughout, without ending up sinking into the background.

However, the movie somehow manages to alienate most of its audience. It alienates it non-Star Wars viewers by including many Star Wars references which may float right over the top many heads. On the other hand, it alienates the Star Wars fans by making them seem nerdy and unlovable. As a result, the movie doesn't quite hit a mark with its viewers and makes you feel somewhat detached from the plot, rather than fully engaged in its shenanigans.

Yet this isn't to say that you won;t enjoy the movie. Far from it. The jokes come thick and fast, and keep your interest from waning in the slower end section.  Other than the jokes that only fanatics will get, most of the jokes put the characters into near-impossible situations (a-la Superbad), for example, a character finally getting his "groove on", only to be chased by an angry man the next scene. Yet a constant joke that gradually wears thin is the constant Trekkie vs Star Wars battles. They turn up throughout, and by the end, it just gets tiresome.

Overall, Fanboys is a good movie, if you just turn off your brain and laugh at the jokes you get. however, the movie is too thin on plot to recommend to people looking for a thought-provoking film, and too full of references to recommend to all comedy lovers. Yet if you go to watch it, you will no doubt come out satisfied.

Total Score: 7 out of 10

Deadpool Movie in Trouble?

20th Century Fox's ideal man to direct the upcoming Deadpool movie is Robert Rodriguez (Machete), apparently. However, this may be troublesome due to Rodriguez's packed directing schedule, and so far he has only read the script.

Robert's next film, Spy Kids 4, is likely to clash with directing Deadpool. Rodriguez told Deadline "We haven't really gotten into the discussion, but they are trying to make a certain small window that's going to be tough because of Spy Kids. ... If they push it back, it would be a lot better for me."

Other than this, Rodriguez is also supposed to be shooting Safe House next year, which stars Denzel Washinton.

The Thing will Die Hard

According to Comic Book Movie, 20th Century Fox is looking big for the voice of The Thing in its upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Apparently, the studio want the one-and-only Bruce Willis to voice The Thing in the entirely CGI-created movie.

However, Screenrant claims that the studio is also looking to Kiefer Sutherland to voice Ben Grimm.

Comic Book Movie also says that the shortlist for the movie's director includes Joe Carnahan (The A-Team), David Yates (Harry Potter) and James McTeigue (V for Vendetta)

Wolverine's Director Nearly Finalised

According to Deadline, David Slade (who also directed 30 Days of Night) has been in talks with Hugh Jackman about directing the upcoming sequel to Xmen Origins: Wolverine.

However, a new contender has also stepped forward to talk the helm of the new movie. Darren Aronofsky has also stepped forward to work with Jackman, of whom he also worked with whilst filming The Fountain. Aronofsky has been long associated with these types of movies, with his credits including the cancelled Batman: Year One and the reboot of Robocop. However, Deadline believes that Slade has a better chance of landing the job.

Previously rumoured Robert Schwentke is no longer in the running, however. Instead, he has opted to make R.I.P.D or the remake of The Osterman Weekend his next film.

30 Aug 2010

Doctor Doom: Ex-Vampire

According to Comic Book Movie, Stephen Moyer is set to play the role of Doctor Doom in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. According to the website, the "offer is currently out" to the actor who played Bill Compton in the True Blood series. Also according to the website, "Doom will be showcased as the ruler of Latveria and a master of the mystic arts." Sounds interesting...

Also for the casting news, Johnny Storm (a.k.a The Human Torch) is looking as if it's going to be played by Kevin Pennington, who appeared in 90210. Adrian Brody and Alice Eve are also currently set to play Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman respectively.

Also according to the website, the film is set for a Summer 2012 release, where it will be pitted up against the Spiderman reboot and The Avengers.

John Woo's Flying Tigers in WWII

I know that heading may be a bit confusing at first sight. Anyway, legendary director John Woo's next film has been announced: Flying Tigers. The film focuses on the 1st American Volunteer Group during WWII.

Woo will direct the film, with Terence Chang producing the Hollywood-China production. Filming will start in Spring 2011.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Woo has one Liam Neeson to play U.S. Army Air Corp Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault (if you didn't know, he trained Chinese fighter Pilots to fight against the Japanese). Liu Ye is also being spotted to play the pilot in training.

If that wasn't good enough, Woo also said "It has always been a dream of mine to explore shooting with IMAX cameras and to work in the IMAX format, and the strong visual element of this film is incredibly well-suited to the tastes of cinemagoers today. Using IMAX for Flying Tigers would create a new experience for the audience, and I think it would be another breakthrough for Chinese movies." Yep, its coming to IMAX!

If you want to prepare for its release, the film was released back in 1942 starring John Wayne.

Movie Review: Cherry Tree Lane

Cherry Tree Lane instantly appealed to me given its themes and genres. This British-made film sets itself firmly within the Home Invasion Chiller genre, with inspiration taken from past movies such as The Strangers and Funny Games.

The plot line, at its core, is a very basic one. Christine and Mike (no surnames are given) are waiting at home for their son, Sebastian, to come home from football. As they sit down for dinner, they are disturbed by a knock on the door and a group of 3 "chavs" rush in and hold the couple hostage. From there, the horror ensues. This is where the films shines. It preys on the middle-class fear of the knife weilding working-class, and throws it straight into your face, showing the pure horror of what people can do. It sure made me a little bit paranoid.

However, the pacing of this film is its main downfall. If you are going into the film to be scared, terrified and frightened on an unrelenting thrill ride with an experience akin to Funny Games, then you are going to the wrong film. Throughout its 80 minute run time, there are around 3 main scenes, each lasting around 10 minutes. This means that the film is made up of primarily 50 minutes of filler.This "filler" is made up of conversations between the house invaders, thus removing most of the thrill. However, this does have the advantage of giving the attackers a more human side, showing through more personality rather than just relentless, stereotypical attackers. In the end, this makes the ending more human, and more realistic, something that The Stangers seemed to lack, thus making the whole experience worthwhile.

To add the experience, the music is kept to a minimum, with just one song being played twice throughout the film, with a low-pitch droning sound protruding through every other sound in the intense scenes. Again, this helps to add to the intensity of the film. One scene in particular shows Christine bound by masking tape, with a long droning sound being played in the background. It worked especially well, with the end effect making me feel slightly claustrophobic.

The acting is varied throughout. The attackers show the needed degree of animalism characteristics, yet they don't quite reach their potential in that the end up seeming lifeless and unrealistic given their motives. Rachael Blake and Tom Butcher, on the other hand, play their scenes will. Given that their lines are minimal (the masking tape being to blame for that), their acting is mainly through the eyes. This is done spectacularly well, especially by Tom Butcher. He manages to convey fear constantly, with undertones of his character planning something else. Tom, who plays Mike, also ends up having the best ride of all throughout the film. By the end, his character changes dramatically. I would say more, but then I would be giving out spoilers.

Yet in the end, this film may be worth your while, if you don't go in expecting a constant thrill ride. The film may get a bit tedious near the middle of the film, but if you stay till the end, then the ending will leave you wanting more, and it will be worth it, even if the main part of the film doesn't quite give you what has been advertised. However, the distinct lack of large set pieces will linger at the back of your mind throughout, and doesn't help to add to the intensity.

Total Score: 6 out of 10

29 Aug 2010

Author Feature: London Film4 FrightFest Day 3

For those that don't know, every year in London, Film4 hold a 5 day horror-themed film festival at Empire Leicester Square, where it shows premieres for new horror films.

Due to tight money related restrictions, I could only visit the 3rd day, on 28th August 2010. But damn it was worth every penny!

On they day that I visited, a total of 11 films were shown over 2 screens, but I only managed to see a total of 5. These films where:

-Cherry Tree Lane [FrightFest Exclusive Preview]
-Fanboys [UK Premiere]
-13 Hrs [World Premiere]
-I Spit on Your Grave (Remake/Unrated/Uncut) [European Premiere]
-Monsters [FrightFest Exclusive Preview]

If you want to hear more from these, look out in the coming days for my reviews of each.

As I entered the door the the [rather over-the-top] Empire Leicester Square, to be honest, I was a bit sad. Not sad because I was there, but people who had turned up seemed a bit... geekier... than what I expected. However, this isn't to say that everybody there was a geek. In fact, this is the complete opposite. It was just the atmosphere in there. Somehow, it just seemed like the room was filled with people who would constantly scrutinise every nook and cranny of the film.

The first film I went to see in the Main Screen was "Cherry Tree Lane." Now, I have never been to this particular cinema, let alone the "Main Screen", or "Screen 1." But let me tell you, that place is bigger than a freakin' theatre! Complete with corrugated walls as to reduce echoes, colour-changing lights for before the film, star lights above the screen and a screen 4 times the size of a normal cinema screen. Watching the horror films on the big screen were amazing, with ear-piercing surround sound meaning that you can feel every squelch as somebody is ripped apart, or the scream as a teenage upper-class woman is chased down by a werewolf.

At the end of every film (other than the rapturous applause as the audience screamed and howled at what they just saw), the director (and in the case of 13 Hrs, some of the cast), would enter onto the stage (if it was shown on the main stage) for a 30 minute Q and A with the host and the audience. this showed the audience how film-making is an art, rather than just a hobby.

I was at the cinema for around 14 hours, and I loved every minute. As a closing statement I have just one thing to say: when tickets become available, get tickets to go next year! It's worth every penny, even if you do come out with some minor mental disfigurements.

Remember, look for my reviews of the 5 films I saw in the coming week!

Yet another apology

Hey all!
Yet another apology for the distinct lack of articles over the past couple of days.
I had my birthday this weekend and so, yeah, it was quite hectic.
However, look back here in the next couple of hours for a special feature!
Thanks all!
Tom

26 Aug 2010

The reason for the lack of posts...

Hey all!
Sorry I havn't posted in a while, I have been busy with uni stuff (or "College" as you Americans like to call it)
Anyway, now that I'm back, I can continue giving you the latest news, reviews and features!

19 Aug 2010

Rapace to go mainstream

Apparently, Hollywood loves Noomi Rapace, who played the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

According to Deadline, Rapace will be meeting with numerous Hollywood execs about high-profile movies, notably Mission: Impossible IV and Sherlock Holmes 2.

Deadline also reports that she "also met with Brad Fischer for the Phoenix Pictures project The Last Voyage Of The Demeter, Jon Amiel on his latest (believed to be titled Masterwork), James McTeigue on The Raven, Tommy Wirkola on Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters, and McG on This Means War. For the latter, McG discussed this juicy villain role."

Gosling starts Driving next month

According to Deadline, Drive will finally start shooting next month.

The film is based on a novel by James Sallis, and the film has suffered for quite a while not being able to get past the development stage.

Also according to Deadline, Ryan Gosling (replacing Hugh Jackman) and Bryan Cranston are to star, with Nicolas Winding Refn directing. John Palermo and Marc Platt will produce.

As for the plot, the book's publisher (Poisoned Pen Press) said it is "about a guy who does stunt driving for movies by day and drives for criminals at night. In classic noir fashion, he is double-crossed and, though before he has never participated in the violence ('I drive. That's all.'), he goes after the ones who doublecrossed and tried to kill him." Sounds interesting...

Paramount's Leaked Projects

The Wrap has received an email about Paramount's upcoming movies. However, Paramount denies that the email is official and says that it has "some correct information and some inaccurate information."

One of the main movies on the list is World War Z, based on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks. The memo says that "They love the new Matt Carnahan draft and it looks like this is coming together. Brad Pitt to star, Marc Forster to direct." This is now extra info from what was released at this year's Comic-Con.

The other main film was a Jack Ryan reboot named just Moscow.Chris Pine plays a CIA analyst, with Jack Bender being sat in the director's chair. However, the memo also says that the movie "Needs a rewrite (looking for a new writer) before greenlighting."

Classic Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

This 1975 film directed by Milos Forman is apparently based on the book of the same name by Ken Kesey. I'm going to be honest, I have never read the book, and after reading some other reviews on this film, apparently this was the films downfall. Apparently, it wasn't as good as its paperback counterpart, but I can't compare.

The film revolves around R. P. McMurphy, a convict sent to an insane asylum. Once he arrives there, he finds it dull, boring and monotonous and thus sets out to galvanise the inmates. In truth, this is the largest problem with the film, and even this is minute. Rather than providing a story with constant turns and twists, Forman (or rather Kesey) opts to concentrate mainly on character development throughout. However, this lack of story is very small, and you will find yourself not caring that much about it anyway.

However, the character development is done superbly, and is by far the greatest strength of the film. During the first 30 minutes of the film, you will feel no emotional attachment to any of the characters. Forman portrays them in such a way as to make you blame them for all the wrong in the institute. But around half way through, this viewpoint changes, with the blame then shifting onto the head nurse, Mrs. Ratched (expertly played by Louise Fletcher). As a result, the initial humour felt towards the patients changes to empathy and sympathy, leading to an in depth character portrayal for all characters, all of whom you will care about in the end.

The characters also runs the gammet of stereotypes, including the silent Indian, the bully and the courageous leader. But this never holds the movie back. Instead, it exceeds all expectations in that each character feels different, each with their own unique personality, rather than all melting into one insane person.

The chemistry on show for all the cast is also a shining star for this film. In particular, McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and Chief (Will Sampson). These two always draw your attention and have amazing screen presence. These two also provide the best and most memorable scenes in the film, including when McMurphy tries to teach the silent Chief basketball, and then watching him smile for the first time.

The music score is also impeccable, using just two styles: 1950s-style or non at all. If anything, this also ramps up how easy it is to love the characters, and how easy it is to hate Mrs. Ratched. Yet another plus for the film.

Overall, this film is the best I have seen in a long while. The director makes your emotions run wild, and you will genuinely care about the ending, even if it does leave you speechless. A true masterpiece, if only the storyline was to progress a bit further in the mid-portion of the film, rather than seem to blossom in the last 20 minutes.

Total Score: 9 out of 10

18 Aug 2010

Author Feature: Child Actors, Horror Films and Age Ratings

Since the movie age rating system was introduced, I have seen one major loophole. Take the recent remake of the classic horror film The Omen, released in 2006. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, who played Damien, was aged just ­­­­­8, with the film itself being rated R. Now, he would have been subject to the same level of violence as anybody who would go to see the film at cinemas.

Firstly, I know exactly what you are going to say to that: “But they can see the film being made. They know it’s fake,” and yes, I would have to agree with you. After all, when a child is on the set of a horror film, then they can see the fake blood being made. They can also see how the actors come out of it alive after their gruelling on screen “death” scene.  Other actors may even make a game of it for them (I can imagine Nick Cage doing this on the set of Kick-Ass). But now you are missing my point entirely. My point isn’t that the child will be scared or show any similar reaction due to the sight of an on-screen death. But rather, it is the sense of being there, in the action. You can’t deny that a child being surrounded by screaming people, covered in fake blood and (on the odd occasion) thunder hitting the background cannot leave some mental effect. I mean, take the aforementioned The Omen. ­Damien is the reason for many, if not all, of the deaths. In one scene, he even witnesses a woman jumping off a building with a noose tied around her neck.  Now this is bound to leave some mental images. Heck, I know it would for me. I even got scarred as a 10-year-old from an obviously fake mechanical dummy in an electric chair that asked you to “Pay a dollar to make him holla”. And yes, he convulsed and drooped as if dead at the end. I could tell that that was fake, but with modern filming techniques, a younger child may have a harder time. And that damn dummy still haunts me...

Another film that instantly springs to mind whilst on this topic is the upcoming Paranormal Activity 2. The trailer can be found here. If you haven’t seen the first one or the trailer for the second, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you do. The first was amazing. Anyway, the trailer for the second features a baby. Given the premise for the original, bringing in a baby, in my opinion, oversteps the mark. A ten-year-old would have been fine, as they could have at least acknowledged [*warning, some small spoilers*] the fishing wire that moves the door, or the guy that cracks the picture frame out of shot [*end of spoilers*]. A baby on the other hand, maybe not. And then there is the constant screaming, surely that wouldn’t help.

Yet, when it comes down to it, these child actors are needed. I mean, Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass would not have been the same if she was acted out by Megan Fox. In the end, child actors need to be in the film for it to work. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean, let’s be honest, which is creepier: a serial killer, or a killer child?

Bigelow and Boal back on track

Kathryn Bigelow (director of the amazing The Hurt Locker) will reunite with script-writer Mark Boal (who, coincidentally, wrote the script for the amazing The Hurt Locker) on the set of their new film Triple Frontier.

As for actors in this film, according to The Wrap, "Bigelow has met with Will Smith." Other actors that Bigelow is looking to (according to NY Mag anyway) include Sean Penn, Christian Bale and Javier Bardem.

The film is an Argentinian-Paraguayan-Brazilian organised crime thriller.

However, please note, The Wrap doesn't use official Paramount documents, and Paramount said themselves that "It has some correct information and some inaccurrate information."

More X-Men: First Class additions

Yesterday, Platt was announced to join the cast of X-Men: First Class.

Today, January Jones, Bill Milner, Morgan Lily and Zoe Kravitz will join the cast.

January Jones will play the telekinetic Emma Frost, Bill Milner will play Young Magneto, Morgan Lily will play Young Raven, and Zoe Kravitz will play Tempest.

Tempest is probably the weirdest mutant on the list, given her powers. She has wings that can vibrate, she lays eggs and she can vomit an acidic substance. Yeah...

As for January, Alice Eve would first thought to have bagged the role of Ms. Frost, but Deadline reported that her contract was never finalised.

So, any views on the updated cast?

J.J. Abrams to reunite with Bender

Moving on, J.J. Abrams will once again reunite with Lost director Jack Bender on the set of his new movie, 7 Minutes in Heaven.

The film revolves around Bender's original idea that "two teens who go into a closet as part of the titular game and find all their friends dead when they come back out."

However, a screenwriter is still to be found.

Personally, this film sounds amazing, and I love J.J.'s work. It should be good!

More Real Steel actors announced

Real Steel, has had some more cast members announced. According to Variety, Karl Yune (Speed Racer) will play "the role of Tak Mashido, a robot boxer designer."

The film is directed by Shawn Levy, with the script being penned by John Gatins, and is based on Richard Matheson's short story Steel.

If you didn't know, Real Steel follows the story of former boxer (Hugh Jackman) who gets one more shot at fame when he teams up with long-lost son (Dakota Goyo) to train a robot for the upcoming Real Steel World Championship.

Yeah, but of a weird one, but could turn out okay.

17 Aug 2010

More teens in for the chop in 5nal Destination

And before you say anything, yes, that is the new title. At least they didn't use that naming method for number 4. I mean 4nal Destination may be a little bit misleading.

Anyway, Arlern Escarpeta (Friday the 13th) has joined the cast, joining previously announced Miles Fisher (Mad Men).

Excarpeta said about the previous film: "It was death, death, death, which is fine because that's what people want to see. But this time we're going to give them a little bit of everything -- good story, great director -- it's going to be good. I think what they're going to do really, really well this time around, they're going to go back -- the story, the plot, a lot of stuff is really going to matter."

The script is written by Eric Heisserer and directed by Steven Quale. It will be filmed in Vancouver, ready for its 26th August 2011 release date.

Platt in X-Men: First Class

Yep, the actor from 2012 and The Big C, Oliver Platt, has been announced to play a character named The Man in Black, who is not a mutant, according to Deadline.

To be honest, I have no idea how this will work out, as I have seen neither.

Anyway, X-Men: First Class will film in London with Matt Vaugh directing.

Jackman hits the gym for Wolverine 2

Hugh Jackman has been bulking up a bit more to play Logan in his upcoming movie Wolverine 2.

He has also dropped out of his comedy Avon Man to hit the gym more often, according to Deadline, which starts shooting in 2011. The film is penned by Chris McQuarrie, but no director has been found just yet.

As for his other movie, Jackman will still produce Avon Man, but the search is still on for the lead role of a car dealer turned Avon-seller.

Ant-Man "Bad-Ass"

According to Edgar Wright on the upcoming Ant-Man movie, he wants Hank Pym (or Scott Lang or Eric O'Grady, depending on which character they go with) to be a "Bad-Ass."

When speaking to Vanity Fair,Wright said "I know there's a bit stigma attached to it, mostly because every movie about shrinking has been about people in peril. I think it would be great to do a shrinking film about a bad-ass secret agent."

Also claiming that the film will be "much cooler than you think," he continued by saying "Even something like The Incredible Shrinking Man, which is a fantastic film, is about a guy in trouble. But this is going to be nothing like that. It's essentially a high-tech spy heist film with somebody with a very particular power."

The first draft for the script is complete, with the second run through being started once the press tour for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is completed.

Angelina Monroe!

UPDATE: Apparently, Jolie has not been cast. At last night's Salt premier, she said she had no idea about the project, and O'Hagan issues some sort of statement that I don't know. Sorry all!

Andrew O'Hagan was at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this week to promote his new book: The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and His Friend Marilyn Monroe. But before you send me hate mail for putting a story about a book, there is a movie link here.

O'Hagan also revealed that this book will be made into a film, with many a-listers in the mix, including Angelina Jolie as Monroe herself, and George Clooney as Frank Sinatra, who became Monroe's close friend.

Jolie has also managed to pull off the blonde bombshell in Life or Something Like It.

So, any views on the so far announced actors?

16 Aug 2010

Summer Movie Blog-a-Thon: It's The Great Escape, but with Chickens!

Chicken Run is a pokey little English film made by the creators of Wallace and Gromit. As an 8-year-old, I loved this film, and it isn’t an understatement to say that this film made my summer. Admittedly, some of the in-jokes flew straight over my head (such as the constant references to The Great Escape and the World Wars), but I didn’t care. I just sat quietly, munching popcorn and staring up at the screen with my naive little eyes as a group of chickens tried to escape Tweedy’s Farm before they are made into pies, with the help of Rocky the Rooster, my hero for the following year.
To an 8-year-old, this movie is as original as it gets, and to be honest, few films have matched this level of originality since. Made with the whole family in mind, watching it again, it still keeps the jokes coming thick and fast, almost all of them hitting the mark. 5 minutes in, and the movie already had me laughing out aloud.  On the other hand, the film keeps a great balance of humour and tastefully-done darker scenes. For example, “murder” of chickens is a constant undertone, with one particular scene showing Mrs. Tweedy holding a chicken (called Edwina) by the neck, raising a butcher’s knife, but the camera then cuts away to the main group of chickens, only to hear a thud seconds later. I can imagine this being frightening as a child, but the jokes keep on coming the scene after, relieving some of the tension. The charm of this film was its mix of problems personified on chickens, but facing them so tastefully, that the whole family can enjoy it. It appealed to me back then, and it still does.
But this isn’t to say that my perceptions of the film have changed. In fact, it is the complete opposite. As a child, I loved the humour, the storyline and varied array of characters, which included a knitting-loving but naive hen, a war veteran and the courageous leader (yep, every stereotype is considered and pulled off flawlessly). As an adult, the in-jokes and darker humour takes precedence, and makes the film even more accessible and enjoyable as it was before.
This film has probably had the most effect on me. 10 years on, and I can still quote some of the lines, one of which has stuck with me during hard times: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” with other making me laugh every time I hear them, such as “My whole life flashed before my eyes. It was really boring!”  As I have said, this film made my summer, but it is always the film I have related to summer ever since, and after watching it again 10 years on, it is still as good, if not better, then the first time i saw it way back in July 2000.

15 Aug 2010

Author Feature: Vixens, Damsels and Action Film Feminism

In most action films, women are the most stereotyped of the sexes. They play either the lead role that will beat everybody down, or the love interest that will eventually need saving, or at the very least a mix of the two.
Firstly, I will take the idea of the action film Vixen. Catwoman, Alice from the Resident Evil series and Lara Croft. All of these women have taken the lead and came out on top. I remember when the female action hero used to be new and exciting, deviating from the masculine hero cliché. But now it has just become a cliché in itself  because of their traits. Every female vixen would be skilled in almost every gun available, as well as every martial art and yoga (given how flexible they are). However, the most notable trait of a female action film vixen is leather. Every vixen you will ever see will be wearing leather somewhere. If they aren’t, then I’m willing to bet anything that their clothes will be two sizes too small. I mean, seriously, where do they shop? Baby Gap?  Then again, I suppose this is what draws most of the film’s male audience. Just once I would like to see a fat woman wearing a tracksuit whilst sucking a cigarette try to take on a fictional country’s National Guard using just a Big Mac and bottle of Budweiser.
Now, as for Damsels, they are even worse. The most exaggerated examples are Mary Jane from the Spiderman trilogy, and Ann Darrow in King Kong. Every damsel will have a long dress, long hair, and an annoying whiney voice that’s used to annoy the heck out of whoever is dumb enough to come and rescue them. The reason said distractions are placed into action films are to give the movie “another layer of depth”: to provide the protagonist with a “love interest” rather than a mindless man hell-bent on killing anything in his way. Yes, they add an extra motive for the action star, and yes, they provide some sort of eye-candy in which would otherwise be a male-orientated action film, but they generally aren’t that useful as a character if all they do is get captured and threatened. Surely, they would snap soon enough. Well one did. They even made a film out of it. It’s called I Spit on your Grave.
Yet this is where movies fall fowl of the believability fence, and into the field of sexism. Taking just the vixen for now, how many women do you know that walk around in tight clothes and leather suits? Excluding those that walk around Red Light districts, anyway. Exactly. I’m sure as soon as Catwoman was released, many feminists were up in arms at how over-sexualised the images were. Then again, I would also imagine how many men were up-in-arms at how covered up Halle Berry was.  And then, at the other end of the spectrum, are the damsels. These characters always portray women as needless, causing more uproar. Why can nobody seem to make a female role seem normal in films?
But in the end, getting rid of these stereotypes will be a hard task. Not because of how deeply they are engrained into culture, but purely because of audiences that go to see the movies. Producing a female character that does not fit into either of these categories would add nothing at all to the film. The only thing that can be done is to remove some of the traits that each group is based on, and so remove some of the cliché attached with it. So, why can’t damsels not be so moany? Or why can’t vixens be slightly chubbier? Let’s break to mould for once...

11 Aug 2010

A Message to all my Readers

Hey all!
Just a short message to say that I won't be able to update this blog until Sunday as I'm off on holiday.
However, to keep you interested, the title of my next feature (which will be posted on the Sunday I return) is Vixens, Damsels and Action Film Feminism.
I hope you look forward to it and I'll catch you up on the news when I get back!
See you all later!

Guest Feature: Films that Deserve Remakes

Written by Ripley McCoy


Modesty Blaise


An obscure British movie based off an obscure British comic strip, this uber-60s flick follows the exploits of retired crime boss turned recruited BI agent Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti, deliciously dry), on her assignment to stop a diamond theft, headed by the rather effeminate Gabriel (Dirk Bogard). Assisting her is long-time companion and master of disguise Willie Garvin (Terrence Stamp).

Where did it go wrong? Playing off the numerous James Bond spoofs of the time, director Joseph Losey gives the whole thing a campy, surrealistic tone that wouldn't be so bad, but for the absolute tedium it provides, absolutely boring for the greater part of the run. They add an ill-advised romance between Willie and Modesty, something the creator of the comic, Peter O' Donnell, condemned. But most of all, Losey seems to regard the original strip with some kind of casual contempt, condescending at the least. The plot is treated as a nuisance, and this would all be besides the point if any of the comedy was actually funny. Some dark gags work--Gabriel's wife ('wife'?) Mrs. Fothergill's muted torture of a mime being among them--but overall, they fall flat. A thoroughly unpleasant theme tune by Johnny Dankworth plays over the opening credits, after a bizarre cold opening involving an Asian manservant and a renegade...paper holder? Something like that. It's just not very good, see. The fantastic actors are wasted, anyway.

So what could we do to fix such a mess of a film? In these modern times, I'm not sure we could avoid the gratuitous exploitation of the otherwise awesome protaganist, or the transport to the CIA as a wronged operative or whatever. But, as I've heard mumblings about, Quentin Tarantino could easily and gladly take the wheel (Pulp Fiction shows he's at least familiar with the material), and there's a whole platter of actresses who might do the character justice. Not sure about the supporting characters, but dammit, why can't at least Terrence Howard stick with the Willie role, anyway? He's still spry, yeah? Play it more as a comedic thriller than a spoof, some affectionate shout-outs to the original, give Monica Vitti a cameo, this shit could happen.

Did you enjoy Ripley's feature? If so, check out his blog here.

Freeman axed as Alex Cross

UPDATE: Deadline has confirmed this, with David Twohy being named as the director.

Alex Cross, the psychologist from many of James Patterson's books, will no longer be played by Morgan Freeman. Instead, Freeman, who played the character in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, will be replaced by Idris Elba (who features in The Wire, Thor and The Office).

The actor informed Black Voices saying "I have been offered to play Alex Cross and if that happens, I'm really excited about it."

The film, based on the book Cross, with be produced by Lloyd Levin (who also produced Watchmen). Paramount Pictures were also have thought to be distributing the film, given they distributed the last two, but Patterson said that they would not.

The synopsis taken from Patterson's Official Site is as follows:

"Alex Cross was a rising star in the Washington, DC, Police Department when an unknown shooter gunned down his wife, Maria, in front of him. Alex's need for vengeance was placed on hold as he faced another huge challenge-raising his children without their mother."

"Then Cross's former partner, John Sampson, calls in a favor. He is tracking a serial rapist in Georgetown, one whose brutal modus operandi includes threatening his victims with terrifying photos. Cross and Sampson need the testimonies of these women to stop the predator, but the rape victims refuse to reveal anything about their attacker. When the case triggers a connection to Maria's death, Alex may have a chance to catch his wife's murderer after all these years. Is this a chance for justice at long last? Or the culminating scene in his own deadly obsession?"

So, did you see the previous films? And if so, what do you think of the actor change? Tell us in the comments below.

Johansson or Lively in "Gravity"?

Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi film is closer to finding a lead role.

Scarlett Johansson, who played Black Widow in Iron Man 2, and Blake Lively, who is the female interest in Green Lantern, have both been screen tested, with results given in the next few weeks.

The role description is of an astronaut who must get back home once her craft is hit by an avalanche of satellite junk and debris.

Angelina Jolie and Marion Cotillard have also had screen tests, but Cuaron is looking for a younger cast, even though Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., has also landed a role.

The film is set for filming early next year, depending on how long it takes to find a lead actress.

Where is Bond #23?

If you hadn't heard, Bond #23 was indefinitely postponed last month. As both Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes have moved on to other projects, it may be more than 4 years until the next Bond hits our screens.

But MGM's debt problems may not be the only thing holding filming back. Well, according to The Los Angeles Times, "creative discussions among the writers and producers have also hampered the process."

The script in itself has also had many problems. The original was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. However, this was retooled by Peter Morgan, who's script has be retooled yet again by Mendes.

However, problems could be solved sooner than possible. According to The Wall Street Journal, Spyglass Studios is close to finalising a deal with MGM as near as this week, as long as MGM restructure their $4billion debt.

On the other hand, The Hollywood Reporter said that MGM, who are also producing The Hobbit, are facing a forced bankruptcy on 15th September, leading to an auction on which MGM could lose the rights to the bond series, which would be bad for them.

10 Aug 2010

Avengers filming dated

According to SuperheroHype, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios will start to film their upcoming big-budget film The Avengers in February 2011 in Los Angeles. The script has been penned by Zak Penn and Joss Whendon, with Joss also sitting in the director's chair.

The announced cast are as follows:
Nick Fury - Samuel L. Jackson
Black Widow - Scarlett Johansson
Captain America - Chris Evans
Thor - Chris Hemsworth
Iron Man - Robert Downey Jr.
Hawkeye - Jeremy Renner
Hulk - Mark Ruffalo

However, some people have been left out. For example, where the hell is The Vision or Scarlet Witch?

Anyway, The Avengers is set for release May 4, 2012. Are you looking forward to it?

Elvis' Granddaughter in Mad Max... Wait, what?

Yes, you heard correctly. The King's granddaughter, Riley Keough, will join the cast of the upcoming film, Mad Max, according to HollywoodReporter.

The actress, who starred in The Runaways, is in talks to become on of the "Five Wives" in Mad Max. Max himself would be played by the ever-so-amazing Tom Hardy. The "Fives Wives" are described as "a group of women that Hardy must protect from the bad guys. Zoe Kravitz, Teresa Palmer and Adelaide Clemens are three of other wives."

The next films lined up for Keough are the lesbian-themed werewolf movie Jack and Diane (which is interesting as she is smoking hot), and The Good Doctor, also starring Orlando Bloom.

The Expendable aren't that expendable!

The UK premiere of The Expendables was held yesterday, and yet there may be a sequel on the way, with the film being given the green light next week.

Claimed by Filmbeat, via HeyUGuys, producer Avi Lerner said that "We all want to do it, we are already working on it and I'm ready to go. Everyone had such a great time making this. I have done over 350 movies in my life and this is definitely the biggest."

However, this relies heavily on the box-office intake for the film, as big-budget films cost alot, apparently.

Excited? Well, you should be even more excited! Lerner continued, saying "We want to line up even more big names next time round and we are already thinking about who to ask."

So, who would you like to see in the next movie, if it happens?

2012: Disney's Year

Disney will be releasing two of its major films in 2012, according to Deadline.  They are as follows:

John Carter of Mars - June 8, 2012
Frankenweenie - March 9, 2012

John Carter of Mars is Andrew Stanton's big-budget film using Edgar Rice Burrough's classic adventure as the source material, and will be released in Disney 3D.

Frankenweenie is Tim Burton's new film, It is a stop-motion film based on his live-action short. Telling a story of a man who brings his dog back to life, the film will be shot in black and white, as well as in Disney 3D.

So, any take your fancy?

Cloverfield 2 still a "priority"

Did you enjoy 2008's smash hit, Cloverfield? I sure did, with it being my favourite film of all time.

Well, Matt Reeves, director of the original, has said to MTV that "It really isn’t the moment for [the sequel] to go any further than it has, but it continues to be a priority for both of us." The "us" referring to himself and J.J. Abrams.

So, whilst they are working on different projects right now, Cloverfield 2 is still on the books to become a movie, but you may have to wait a while.

Right now, Abrams is working on Super 8, which has had a teaser trailer released. So far, it looks to become an amazing film...

9 Aug 2010

Shia back on his bike?

Do you remember Shia LeBoeuf riding that motorcycle in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Well, according to Deadline, the Transformers actor is director Tony Scott's top choice for the part in upcoming film Hell's Angels.

The film will also star Mickey Rourke, who plays Sonny Barger, a real-life biker who started the Oakland sector of the biker gang, and helped them become a national name. Rourke has had some experience with the biker gang as his old boxing coach, Chuck Zito, used to be the president of the Hell's Angels' New York sector.

Apparently, Scott Frank's script is penned as a "Donnie Brasco-style drama. It would be a two-hander with a younger actor playing a cop who attempts to infiltrate the club to investigate alleged criminal activities." Sounds interesting...

Cillian to be I'm.Mortal

Actor Cillian Murphy, best known for his roles in Inception and Batman Begins, is the next actor to join the cast of the upcoming film I'm.Mortal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Murphy is in negotiations to star alongside (*sigh*) Justin Timberlake (who's deal is also not yet final) and Amanda Seyfried.

In the futuristic film, directed by Andrew Niccol, a bum (Timberlake) who inherits a fortune is framed for murder, leading to him somehow kidnapping an heiress (Seyfried) whilst on the run. Apparently, "Murphy will play an officer from an organization known as Timekeepers and described as 'precise as the time he keeps'."

To be honest, it doesn't exactly sound like the best film ever, but then again I hate Justin Timberlake...

Filming Green Lantern is Finished!

Geoff Johns, a comic book writer and movie consultant, tweeted saying "GREEN LANTERN IS WRAPPED!!!! Finished the last shot today!!! Celebrating in New Orleans. :)" And not a moment too soon... I personally can't wait for this film!

However, the news wagon doesn't stop rolling! Variety reports that Michael Goldenburg has been hired to write the script for Green Lantern 2.

Green Lantern is set for release June 17, 2011.

CBS now has The Mechanic

The Mechanic, a film about an elite hitman who teaches his trade to an apprentice, who also happens to have a connection to one of the hitman's previous victims, has now changed hands from Millennium Films to CBS.

The remake of the 1972 film is directed by Simon West, stars Jason Statham (Death Race), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma) and Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job), and is written by Richard Wenk and Lewis John Carlino.

But how does Millennium Films feel about this? Well, "We are very proud of The Mechanic and could not be more pleased to be working with CBS Films on this release," stated Millennium Films' Avi Lerner.

8 Aug 2010

Author Feature: Video Game Movies: The Demented Runt of the Litter

Video games are great. Movies are great. However, their bastard offspring is not. On paper, the concept seems awesome: Massive action + amazing storylines + great special effects = amazing film. But it never quite works out like that...

The main reason I can think of is that most of these films remove one of the most important concepts in a film or video game: amazing storylines. Almost all video game movies rely solely on "this is a gun fight, watch how pretty we can make it", but this leaves little room for stories. Yet even this idea must have stemmed from somewhere. For this, I can blame gamers and game producers. Gamers demand constant action, and this is what game producers give. This vicious cycle continues on and on, until all that is left of a game is player-controlled action with very few cut-scenes. In turn, this gives the directors very little to work on, and so, inevitably, bad video game movies will be made.

But how do good games be made into bad movies? Well, just look at the Resident Evil games and their counterpart films. The games are notable for great stories and have become the leader in the survival horror genre. The films, on the other hand, are notable for dodgy stories and questionable CGI. Well, if we have a look at their scores, Metacritic gave Resident Evil 5 86%, with the latest film, Resident Evil: Extinction, receiving just 41%. So, why the large difference? Well, firstly, games have so much more going for them. Firstly, games are rated on gameplay, which makes this type of media so unique. However, films cannot do this. Instead, you have to watch the action unfold, which isn't as fun. I mean, how fun is it watching your friend play a game, rather than you playing it? Exactly. Films are also notably worse purely because of the source material. As almost all of video games are made using animation and computers, translating this to a live-action film is near impossible. Look at the Super Mario Brothers Movie, for example. In the game, Goombas are big-headed creatures that jump about. In the film, Goombas are small-headed men in leather jackets. Filming from such sources can be only really done by using CGI (see Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children).

Now, I've defended video game movies up til now, but a debate about this topic cannot be complete without the use of one name: Uwe Boll. Uwe is responsible for such tragedies as Bloodrayne and House of the Dead, both of which landed themselves on Time's Top 10 Worst Video Game Movies, with House of the Dead taking the top spot, and with good reason. Every time I see a video game movie advertised, I get excited, thinking that "this one will be different", but then I see the name Uwe Boll. And then I sign in disbelief, thinking "who the heck commissioned him to do another film?" Every film that he makes is always met dreadfully by the critics, and yet he still keeps coming back for more. Yes, he suffers from every single problem I have mentioned above, but he dumps a load of his own problems on top. His films also fail due to bad directing, bad acting and bad cinematography, all of which can be sorted if the actors were changed, the crew were changed, and most importantly of all, the director was changed. Even better, if the whole filming process with Uwe was stopped. Basically, his films have been around 75% responsible for the bad coverage video game movies have gotten.

Yet in the end, video game movies will always be bad. Nothing anybody can say or do (unless they animate it) will change that. The source material is too far astray from the constraints of filming using live-action. It's a bit of a shame given the amazing sequences given in games, but directors either try to stick too close to the source but are restrained by the filming process, or stray too far away that the source is no longer recognisable, leading to an uproar from fans. Either way, video game films are hard to get right, and so, in my opinion, they should just be left alone.

Back-to-Back Avatar 2 and 3?

Did you enjoy last year's massive hit Avatar?.

Well, in an interview with MTV, James Cameron said that, when asked about Avatar 2,  "we're still working on deals and so we don't start the movie until we get the deals worked out." In the meantime, notes are being made for the sequels and a tie-in novel is in the works to browse over Na'vi culture and the world of Pandora.

However, the oscar-winning director also said that one plan for the sequels (which are still at the "if" stage) is to film them back-to-back, claiming that it will make a lot of sense given the film's nature, as they would be able to "bank all the capture and then go back and do cameras over a period of time."

If you don't know what that means, an example is that Cameron was able to film additional deleted scenes for the upcoming Special Edition Blu-Ray/DVD as performance-action footage of the cast had been "banked".

So, are you looking forward to Avatar 2? If it gets made, that is...

Millar's Nemesis Next in Line

It began with Wanted, then it was Kick-Ass, and now it's Nemesis, Mark Millar's next big-screen project.

Fox have acquired the filming rights for Millar's and McNiven's comic, which will be directed by Tony Scott (of Top Gun and Taking of Pelham 123 fame), according to Bleeding Cool. Apparently, Scott will also produce the film along with his brother, Ridley, under their Scott Free Productions company name. However, no screenwriter has been found.

The basic premise of Millar's creation revolves around billionaire Matt Anderson, who dons a tech-covered costume to avenge his parent's deaths. However, his victims are the world's top cops. Throughout the series, he travels globally from Asia to Washington DC.

So far, it looks like it's going to be yet another amazing comic book film.

7 Aug 2010

Jack Black and Linklater return

Jack Black and director Richard Linklater are to reunite on the set of the upcoming film Bernie.

Bernie is a black comedy based on an article by Skip Hollandsworth entitled "Midnight in the Garden of East Texas", which featured in Texas Monthly. The main character, Bernie, forms an unlikely friendship with a widow, which then leads to fatal consequences.

The two previously paired up on the set of School of Rock, which launched Black's career.

Filming is scheduled to begin in Texas in October.

Disney-Pixar's Rescheduling

Disney-Pixar have majorly rescheduled their upcoming films, as follows:

Cars 2 - June 24, 2011
Monsters Inc. 2 - November, 2012
Brave - June 25, 2012

(For those that don't know, Brave is Pixar's first crack at a fairy tale)

However, as for now, their upcoming film Newt has been pushed back indefinitely, and so I am no longer sure if it will get a release.

As for Beauty and the Beast 3D, it is still planned for release, but no date has been set. Originally set for an October 2010 release (along with the Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray/DVD release), then pushed back for the 20th anniversary, then pushed back yet again. The reason for this is "the marketplace is crowded", according to Chuck Viane, Disney's head of distribution.

Wachowski's New Movie Revealed

The Wachowski Sibling's new film has been named: Cobalt Neural 9. This was found out when, according to Deadline, the duo had been inviting actors to meet regarding the film.

The film is about a "taboo gay romance between an American and Iraqi soldier". Not quite what I was expecting...

Reynolds gets R.I.P.D

Ryan Reynolds can now add another comic-book film to the list. This film is R.I.P.D, from the 2000 Dark Horse studio.

R.I.P.D, a limited comic series, follows two zombie-like cops patrolling the underworld, one of which tries to solve his own murder to get into heaven.

However, producer Neal Mortiz has no director for the film, which Universal wants to start shooting in winter, so any ideas welcome.

As for a release date, 2011 may be pushing it a bit, so 2012 is far more likely.

Jigsaw's Legacy to Continue?

Many have said that the latest in the Saw franchise Saw 3D, will be the last.

However, cast member Betsy Russell (who played Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill) has said in an interview with The New York Post that "Before we thought it was ending, the writers came up with an unbelievable idea [for Saw VIII]. It's an amazing story that I would love to see"

She then continued by saying "We want to end near the top. With our integrity intact and not letting the characters die a slow death, so to speak. But I believe in my heart that someday, somehow, [Saw VIII] will happen."

So, what do you think, is it time for Jigsaw to finally hang up the traps?