Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer movie recap

For a movie fan, summer is the best time of year. It's the season when the studios release the big-budget sequels and action spectacles. This summer had three great movies and a lot of good ones. But there was also some disappointments. I'll go over what was good what was bad and what was just terrible.

Thor kicked off the summer with a fantasy spectacle that was entertaining but was overshadowed by another superhero film. Thor just had too much unnecessary stuff. Agent Coulson and Jane served absolutely no purpose to the story and that dragged the film on longer that what it should have been.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the first sequel this summer and in my opinion, was the worst. It was decent but it was slow, overlong, and boring in some places. It missed several characters from the previous films and didn't use Barbossa as much as they could have. I thought On Stranger Tides was better that 2007's At World's End, but you could argue that On Stranger Tides was the worst in the series.

Kung Fu Panda 2 left me with mixed feelings. Several people I know say that Kung Fu Panda 2 was better than the original, but I thought the original was better and the perfect blend of action and humor. Kung Fu Panda 2 was more action-centered, focusing less on humor. Despite the flawless plot, I felt it could have been better.

Super 8 was my favorite film this summer. It was the perfect mix of Spielberg's E.T and Goonies era style of filmmaking and Abrams sci-fi action style. The young actors were great especially Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning. Super 8 was a great summer movie.

We went from the best movie of the summer straight to the worst movie of the summer. Green Lantern took the superhero genre to an all-time low in a terrible movie with bad acting, bad action, and terrible special effects. There was almost nothing good about this movie.

Mr. Popper's Penguins was an OK movie. There was nothing really bad about it, it just got annoying and was not as good as the book. Jim Carrey had fun in the role and did pretty good. But I could have done with less penguins farting in Jim Carrey's face.

Cars 2 was a change from everything Pixar had done before. It focused on action more than story, which Pixar never does. It was James Bond with Cars, and I think Disney pulled it off. The incredible animation and fun action never got old.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon was an improvement over Revenge of the Fallen but was not as good as the original. It definitely had the best effects of the summer, and the plot was OK too. Dark of the Moon was too long; if director Michael Bay would have cut twenty minutes out, it would have been perfect.

Earlier, I said Super 8 was my favorite summer film. Well, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 came in a close 2nd. Part 2 did everything right and all the actors gave great and emotional performances, especially Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes as Snape and Voldemort.

Captain America was a great superhero movie. It had action, a great hero, a good villian, and basically everything Green Lantern didn't. It was my favorite superhero movie this summer and is also one of my all-time favorites.


Cowboys and Aliens was really disappointing. It was promising at first but it turned into too much of a sci-fi movie. The acting was too grumpy and the cast didn't seem to want to be in the movie. It was a failure for Favreau but I give him props for trying.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes was the last big summer film and I thought it was pretty good. The whole cast was awesome, especially Tom Felton as an even better villain than Draco Malfoy. The action was spectacular and it was a good set up for a new franchise.

So now that I've recapped all of the big movies and my opinions, it's time for my summer movie awards. My awards go to:

BEST MOVIE: Super 8
WORST MOVIE: Green Lantern
BEST ACTOR: Joel Courtney, Super 8
BEST ACTRESS: Elle Fanning, Super 8
WORST ACTOR: Harrison Ford, Cowboys and Aliens*
WORST ACTRESS: Blake Lively, Green Lantern
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
WORST SPECIAL EFFECTS: Green Lantern
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Super 8
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Cowboys and Aliens

*Not that Harrison Ford was bad, his character just was.

That's it for the summer recap. I hope the fall is just as good.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes review

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes movie. The movie stars James Franco as Will Rodman, a young scientist who is testing chimpanzees with a medicine that will cure Alzheimer's disease. When an ape named Bright Eyes breaks out of her cage and goes on a rampage, the chimps are all killed and Rodman can no longer test them. He walks through the lab and finds a baby chimp, who we learn is the son of Bright Eyes. Rodman takes in the chimpanzee and his dad (John Lithgow), who has Alzheimer's, names him Caesar. Caesar grows and grows and he gets very smart and we learn that the medicine passed from his mother to him. I'm going to try to sum this up without giving away any important plot details, I'll just say that some stuff happens to Caesar so that he becomes the leader and rises up against the humans.

The acting in this film is really good, Franco and Lithgow both do really good in their roles. But without a doubt, the best character is Dodge Landon (Tom Felton). Felton takes a step away from his role as Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter and plays an even better villainous character. The only character that doesn't fit in with the plot of the movie is Caroline (Frieda Pinto). She has no essential purpose to the plot, but she doesn't add much extra time to the film so it's not really a problem.

The motion-capture technology that is used for the apes is realistic and spectacular. Andy Serkis is great as Caesar. He really is able to pull off the emotional aspect of Caesar very well. You understand and feel for him even the he is sort of the villain. The film is highly entertaining most of the time, but there where times that it went too deep into some stuff that we really did not need. It was really slow in the middle, but picks back for the final act. The action scenes were ridiculously cool and a lot of fun. The scene on the Golden Gate bridge was spectacular and one of the year's best action scenes.

The film was full of references to the original Apes film. It had apes on horseback, a mission to Mars, and a reference to the apes taking over New York at the end. Of course, Rise of the Planet of the Apes ends with a cliff-hanger and is sequel is definite. But Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a good start for reviving the series.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                          (7.9/10)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mike Myers is in for Austin Powers 4

The highly successful spoof of James Bond is headed back to the big screen for the fourth time. Mike Myers is in for Austin Powers 4, which is still currently unnamed. Myers is the only one who is officially back, but the rest of the cast should return. This is just a brief report and we know virtually nothing about this film except that it is rumored that Myers has already written the script. The film should be released in 2013.

Disney stops production on The Lone Ranger

Disney has been working on an adaption of the TV and radio character The Lone Ranger, a cowboy who fights criminals in the old west. The Lone Ranger just got shot. Disney has stopped production of the film which would star Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto. The film would have been directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Disney cut the film due to budget concerns; Verbinski requested $250 million for the film. Disney tried to cut it down to $200 million, but couldn't. Disney is going ahead with two other untested projects, John Carter of Mars and Sam Raimi's Oz, The Great and Powerful.

As for the budget, it's ridiculous. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cost that much. Transformers: Dark of the Moon cost less. Westerns have lost ground with Cowboys and Aliens disappointing at the box office. So, it should come as no surprise that Disney shut the movie down.

Disney says it's not dead yet, and that the movie could still be made. If they do work it out and The Lone Ranger goes back into production then Disney should move it to another date. Before they shelved the project, the film would have been released on December 21, 2012, and would have to compete with Brad Pitt's World War Z and Ang Lee's The Life of Pi, not to mention Ghostbusters 3 four days later (if that movie is still made). The Lone Ranger should do what Man of Steel did, which is move to 2013. But the only way The Lone Ranger will be made is if the budget goes down.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens review

Cowboys and Aliens is the latest from director Jon Favreau. He directed both Iron Man films so I went in with high expectations. The first hour of Cowboys and Aliens is intense, engaging, and really fun. But then it starts to slow down and then it just loses any sense of plot or fun. Daniel Craig is Jake Lonergan, a cowboy who wakes up with a shackle around his wrist and his memory wiped clean. He wanders into a town called Absolution where he is arrested by the sheriff along with Percy (Paul Dano), the son of  town chief Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Dolarhyde rides into town to bail Percy out. Then the aliens attack and kidnap several people. So Lonergan, Dolarhyde, and Ella (Olivia Wilde) team up to find the aliens and rescue their friends and family.

It's an interesting premise but Favreau makes some parts so slow it loses your interest. It could have cut twenty minutes from the movie if Dolarhyde and Lonergan would have taken more people to start with. Instead they go for the slower route and spend pointless time talking to Apache Indians and Jake's old gang, trying to get them to join them. The Apache serve a better purpose, they help Jake get his memory back and help him remember his experience with the aliens. The acting and supporting cast is solid. Doc (Sam Rockwell) and Emmett (Noah Ringer) are good characters who help the story and bring a small bit of comic relief. Ringer's acting was much better than it was in the terrible The Last Airbender. Craig is good as Lonergan and Ford is good as Dolarhyde. But neither smile once the whole movie. And I'm not exaggerating.

The movie is good up until a completely unnecessary plot twist. I won't say what it is but it made say "Oh, come on! Really!". Then it gets caught up in all this other junk that we have seen a million times in other sci-fi movies. For the first time this summer my attention was not always focused on the screen. I talked more than I had in any movie this summer. At some points you just did not really care what happened. Favreau tried to create a good original film and I give him props for that in the summer of the sequel and the superhero. But I hate to say he did not make a good original movie. He made a poor original movie.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D+


Pixar, Marvel set release dates for untitled films

Disney has released dates for two upcoming films from Marvel and two upcoming films from Pixar. The Pixar films are set for release on November 27, 2013 and May 30, 2014. The movie that is going to be released in November will be an original film that will likely be from Up director Pete Docter. The other film will likely be a sequel though it is not official. Pixar chief John Lasseter says he enjoys doing sequels. So what will the sequel be? They have lots of options. It could be Cars 3, but Cars 2 was not reviewed well by critics. Up 2 is also a possibility. But the two best options for them are The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4. Now, The Incredibles 2 would make the most sense since the ending left room for a sequel. But I have a feeling it will be Toy Story 4. Toy Story 3 made $1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office and even though the ending of the third film summed it all up, Disney will make the sequel as long as they think it will make money. By the way, if it is Toy Story 4 it would be released 4 years after Toy Story 3. The exact same distance was between Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

As for the Marvel films, Disney set the release dates for May 16, 2014 and June 27, 2014. A Captain America sequel is almost guaranteed as one of the films. The other options are an Avengers sequel or adaptions of Ant-Man, Nick Fury, Doctor Strange, or Guardians of the Galaxy. When I read the article that those were the films they were considering I was kind of upset. The Captain America and Avengers sequels were fine with me and so was the Nick Fury film. But when I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange and Ant-Man, superheroes I had barely ever heard, I was just angry. There is a difference between doing adaptions of B-list superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man and doing D-list superheroes like Doctor Strange. My hope is that it will be a Captain America sequel and a Nick Fury film. Disney will reveal the films at the D23 Expo on August 20.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, set for Thanksgiving 2013

The Hunger Games has not even finished filming yet, but Lionsgate is already going ahead with a sequel. The film adaption of the second book in the series, Catching Fire will be released on November 22, 2013. Lionsgate says that they are confident that The Hunger Games will be a hit and I have a feeling it will. The book series is as big as Twilight and the movies could be as big as that series. Last week I posted that Sony is going ahead with a sequel to The Amazing Spider- Man which is not even released yet. I felt that it was not good for the situation the reboot was in. They don't know if The Amazing Spider-Man will be as big as the original. They don't even know if it will do good. The Hunger Games is in a completely different situation, I think. While it is a brand new property in Hollywood, it has a huge fan base and a lot of teens have read the books. It is almost surely going to be a massive hit.

One thing we don't know is where Catching Fire will end. Earlier this year, Lionsgate made the decision to split the trilogy into four movies. They did not say where the stopped. That leaves us to guess when it will end. Will it just do the first part of the book and go deeper into other storylines? Or will it go through the whole book and split Mockingjay into two parts? Or will it complete all three books and do a whole movie about the Bonnie and Twill story which was in Catching Fire but never really went anywhere? We won't know for a while. The Hunger Games opens March 23, 2012.

30 Minutes or Less based on true story

You might have seen a commercial for the comedy 30 Minutes or Less. The R-rated comedy stars Jesse Eisenberg as a pizza delivery guy who is grabbed by two criminals. They strap a bomb on him and force him to rob a bank. Now the family of Brian Wells is coming out and saying that they film is based off of him.

Back in 2003, a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells had a bomb strapped to his neck and was forced to rob a bank. He was captured by police and surrounded. He tried to explain that the bomb was around his neck but the bomb squad was too late and it exploded killing Wells.

While Eisenberg probably won't die at the end people are still upset. Director Ruben Fleischer and the stars said that they had no knowledge of the case until now. The screenwriters claim to have "some" knowledge of the events. Fleischer said in an interview that besides the bomb thing, the movie does not go into what really happened in the Wells case.

In 2007, it was determined in court that Wells was involved in the planning of the event. Still, lots of people on Twitter have vowed not to see the film because of the Wells connection. I can't see the film, because it's R, but I would if I could. The Wells case does not make me not want to see this movie. My question is: If you could, would you? Comment below and give me your answer.

Nicki Minaj cast in Ice Age 4

First there was Justin Timberlake in Yogi Bear. Then there was Katy Perry in The Smurfs. Rihanna is starring in Battleship. Now we have pop-rap singer Nicki Minaj in Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. We don't know who Minaj will be playing but if it is someone crazy, she will probably do okay. But if they try to make her play a normal role, it will end in disaster. Personally, I don't know why these studios cast these singers. They are NOT actors. I guess it works in animation but it seems they are starting to do more in live action movies. Rihanna in Battleship????

Ice Age is a series that has sort of become the new Shrek. The first two Shrek movies were good, but the third and fourth were mediocre. The first Ice Age was good, but the second and third were just okay. But they make a lot of money off them so they will keep on making them. Battleship opens May 18, 2012. Ice Age 4 opens next summer.    

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trailer Central #4

Here are trailers for the Tom Hardy film Warrior, the George Lucas produced WWII drama Red Tails, and Battleship.







Friday, August 5, 2011

Deathly Hallows, Transformers reach $1 billion worldwide

On July 31st,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 reached $1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Potter reached that total on it's 19th day in theater, breaking the record previously set by Avatar. It was the 9th film to reach $1 billion worldwide and is now the 6th highest grossing film ever. Then two days later Transformers: Dark of the Moon became the 10 film to reach $1 billion dollars worldwide. It took 37 days for the movie to reach the total. There have been three billion dollar movies this year; Dark of the Moon, Deathly Hallows Part 2, and Pirates of the Caribbean:On Stranger Tides.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to hit theaters 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man doesn't hit theaters until next July,but Sony is already going ahead with a sequel. Sony has approved a second film in their Spider-Man reboot. Personally,I think that it is a mistake.Back in 2010,Warner Bros.started work on a a script for a second Green Lantern film.The first movie hadn't even been released yet. Then it was a box office flop and Warner Bros.is now thinking twice about a sequel. My message to Sony:You might have done great at Comic-Con but just because the comic books fans loved it does NOT mean everybody else will.I know I'm not loving what I've seen so far. Just don't get too cocky. You can on watch the trailer on the post Trailer Central #3. The Amazing Spider-Man opens July 3,2012.

Nolan reveals Superman, Catwoman

Christopher Nolan is one of today's biggest filmmakers.He directed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, along with the sci-fi thriller Inception. Now he has two other massive projects coming up. First, The Dark Knight Rises, the third film in his Batman trilogy, and the latest Superman film, Man of Steel, which he is producing. Yesterday, director Zach Snyder and Nolan released the first image of Henri Cavill as Superman. Today, Nolan released a photo of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle a.k.a Catwoman.

For copyright reasons I can't post the pictures here but you can check them out at ew.com. My opinion is that the picture of Cavill as Superman is great, the movie looks like it will be awesome.As for the picture of Catwoman, I'm not convinced that Nolan has gotten it right. I think that Hathaway was miscast and that someone else should have played her. If I hadn't known that it was Catwoman, I wouldn't have known.The Dark Knight Rises opens July 20, 2012 and Man of Steel opens June 14, 2013.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Man of Steel moves to 2013

Zach Snyder's Superman reboot has been moved to 2013. Man of Steel was going to be released in December 2012, but Warner Bros. decided that it should be moved to Summer 2013. The film will be released on June 14, 2013. Man of Steel will compete against Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 in Summer 2013. Thor 2 will be released on July 26, 2013 and Iron Man 3 will be released on May 3, 2013. In other Man of Steel news, Laurence Fishburne will play Perry White. Man of Steel begins shooting this week.