Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

Before I get to my actual review of the film, I feel that it is necessary to make a statement about the tragic events that occurred in Aurora, Colorado. I woke up on Friday morning with extreme excitement. The Dark Knight Rises is something that I have been anticipating for several years and I was really looking forward to seeing it. I went to Deadline to check the box office numbers and I saw Nikki Finke putting her strong opinions into the articles as usual. But she was talking about something unusual. There had been a terrible tragedy in Colorado, where a mass murderer entered a movie theater and killed twelve people. Suddenly my excitement turned to anger and fear. More information has piled in through the day and it was revealed that the shooter was a man named James Holmes. Every single time I see his smirking face on TV, it sickens me. I've heard some people say that he was extremely planned and thus that means he's just evil and not crazy. That's wrong. He has to be crazy. Sane people, no matter how angry, bitter or violent they are don't shoot up movie theaters. It sickens me. I love movie theaters. They are my home and a place that I hold close to my heart and to think that a man would hurt people there is disturbing. The director Christopher Nolan said something similar and I found it to be fantastic. I hope James Holmes is brought to justice and I hope that without getting into politics, stricter laws on how many weapons people can obtain. There is no reason that a person should own a military style rifle. It doesn't make sense. My sympathies go out to the families of the victims in Colorado and I hope they can overcome the pain that one evil man has caused.

Now, on to the film. The Dark Knight Rises is the highly anticipated conclusion to his Dark Knight Trilogy. The film takes place eight years after The Dark Knight, with Gotham at peace and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living like Howard Hughes in his home. Bruce is thrust back into action after Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) tracks a man into the sewers and is kidnapped by a group of underground terrorists led by the masked man known as Bane (Tom Hardy). Gordon falls into the sewers and drifts out where John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds him. He tells Blake about the army and Bane and Blake urges Bruce to bring Batman back. I had a brief problem here. Several people in the film who are new characters seem to just know that Bruce was Batman. I guess they figured it out but still. Gotham soon falls under siege to Bane and his group of League of Shadows mercenaries and it's up to Batman to save it.

If you think that that is the whole plot then you would be wrong. There is so much going on in this movie, it's often hard to keep track of it all. There is too much plot for one viewing. The acting is top-notch. All the actors give superior performances, including Bale with his best performance of the series. Other stand-outs are Michael Caine as Wayne's butler Alfred and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Now, Selina Kyle doesn't especially fit in to the story all that well and she often treads the line between good and bad.

The film is long, clocking in at 2 hours, 45 minutes. That is long but once the film hits the second act, it blows by. There is so much action in this film and so many plot threads, it's amazing that Nolan keeps it all under control. I don't know how to say all the awesomeness this film has without spoiling it. I guess I will do a spoiler section.

Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic film that is a great conclusion to the trilogy. Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy will go down with Lord of the Rings, the ORIGINAL Star Wars, and The Godfather as one of the greatest trilogies of all time. I will not compare Rises to The Dark Knight or Batman Begins yet because as with all of Nolan's films, I have to see it multiple times to fully assess it.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A                                             (9.7/10)


SPOILER SECTION

IF

YOU

HAVE

NOT

SEEN

THE 

DARK 

KNIGHT

RISES

YET

DO NOT GO FURTHER

*
*
*
*
*

LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK


Alright SPOILERS follow. The Dark Knight Rises is a ticking bomb story. I know people have complained about that but I thought it was just fine. What I really want to talk about is the ending. After Bane breaks Batman's back and sends him to his prison, he thrusts Gotham into chaos and anarchy. After blowing up a football field and snapping the neck of Dr. Pavel, Bane reveals that Gotham will be destroyed by a nuclear bomb in five months. Bridge fall, buildings collapse and utter chaos ensues. There is non-stop action and several twists and turns during the second half of the film. Alright, so after all that Batman returns and fights Bane. Soon it is revealed that his love interest, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) is Talia Al Ghul, Ra's Al Ghul's child and the one who Bane took his orders from. That reveal really puts all the pieces together. She stabs Batman and leaves with the bomb. She orders Bane to kill Batman and he puts a shotgun to Batman's face before Selina Kyle comes in and blows Bane to smithereens. That part was extremely anti-climatic and I was disappointed, but whatever. Batman, Gordon and Catwoman chase down the bomb while John Blake is trying to get the kids from the boys home to safety. Batman knocks Talia into a hole in the ground where she dies. Batman takes the bomb and flies out over the ocean and the bomb explodes, apparently killing Bruce and saving Gotham. There is a funeral and the Batman is hailed as a hero. Then it is revealed to Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) that the Bat was put on auto-pilot. And then Alfred sees Bruce and Selina having lunch in a cafe that he mentioned before in the film. That leaves the question: Did Batman live or die? I think a good point that was made by a listener on the Rope of Silicon podcast (which you should listen to by the way) is that Alfred never met Selina except when she was a waitress and it is not his fantasy and has to be real. I don't know I think it would be hard for him to get out of the Bat that quickly. This is from Christopher Nolan, the man who put the unsure ending in Inception. We will never know.

The other thing I wanted to discuss was the fact that John Blake finds the Batcave at the end and that his full name is Robin John Blake. My question is: will he take up the responsibility of Batman or will he become Robin. And will Warner Bros. continue with that franchise? I think it would be fantastic if they did and did it with Nolan or a different director at the helm it would be great. It is a great ending. It ends a franchise while possibly beginning another. Instead of rebooting, Warner Bros. should continue on with John Blake as the Batman. It will be interesting to see where they take the property, but we shall see. That concludes my review but look for a second opinion sometime in the near future.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ice Age: Continental Drift review

Continental Drift is not a movie I expected to like. So it's really no surprise that I didn't. The fourth installment in the wildly popular animated series is just a retread of previous installments. These movies are all the same. Something bad happens to the animals, and they try to get back home. But this one really proves that the series has run its course.

Continental Drift begins with the Scrat short that has been shown in front of several movies. Scrat's acorn falls to the center of the earth and he goes and retrieves it and starts the continental shake-up. The film then changes to Manny (Ray Romano) who is living his life with his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) and his daughter Peaches (Keke Palmer). When the continent the animals are living on breaks apart, Manny, Diego (Denis Leary), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Sid's Grandma (Wanda Sykes) are stranded on an iceberg. They try to get back home, but run into a crew of pirates who they clash with. Meanwhile, Peaches hangs out with a crowd of mammoths all played by rappers and Ellie leads the other animals to a point where they will be safe and they can meet back up with Manny.

First things first, the voice cast is terrible. Romano and the other leads from the previous films are solid again but rappers Nicki Minaj and Drake along with Keke Palmer are absolutely terrible. I've never noticed such poor voice casting as there was in this film. Maybe, they had nothing to work with, but it sure didn't seem like it. The film is entirely predictable as well. I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen in the movie. There are so many subplots too that don't mesh with the story. The directors and screenwriters throw so many plots and so many new characters that you really don't get to know any of them. Heck, I couldn't name half the new characters in this movie. Grandma  was mildly funny but she was annoying after a while too.

The worst thing about it is that it is not that funny. At all. I don't remember laughing a ton in other animated movies this summer like Madagascar 3 and Brave, but there was a certain freshness and fun about them that I didn't notice any lack of humor. Ice Age 4 is a plain retread of a film that we've already seen three times and therefore there is no fun in it at all. The pirates are somewhat entertaining, but I swear that Jennifer Lopez's character was in the film only so she could have a musical number with Peter Dinklage's monkey pirate Captain Gutt. The other fact is that this plot doesn't make any sense. The iMDB goofs board points out that continental drift happened way before the ice age even happened. I don't know if that is true, but if that is true then that summarizes the film: dumb. Which actually does summarize the humor and story of the film. There are great animated movies that have something to offer for both kids and adults and those are the good ones. This is purely a kids movie with humor only a five year old will find funny. There are snippets of clever humor that I thought was funny and enjoyed but there is not enough. Some of the action scenes star well but don't go anywhere.

Also, there is a Simpsons short that accompanies the film called The Longest Daycare starring Maggie. It is completely silent and has some funny moments but overall I can't recommend that you drop $10 to see this short.

Ice Age: Continental Drift is a below average animated movie. It's boring and tiresome and appeals directly to kids but because there is nothing else out there but I don't recommend it and I think that the series has run its course. I have an idea for a fifth film though: Ice Age 5: Extinction.

THE FINAL GRADE:  D-                                           (2.5/10)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Marvel officially annouces films through 2014

Marvel took Iron Man 3 to Comic-Con's Hall H yesterday evening to make an official announcement about their slate of films through 2014. They announced Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. But first things first, I'm going to deal with the Iron Man 3 footage shown.

It is now confirmed that the film will use elements of the Extremis storyline but the villain was also revealed (unofficially, of course). The storyline involves Tony bonding with his armor to The footage showed some comedic scenes and then Ben Kingsley's voice was heard and Tony's pad fell into pieces in the ocean and then Kingsley came out in full Mandarin gear with the ten rings*. The crowd was reportedly wowed.

Ant-Man has been long in development with Edgar Wright at the helm. The film has been stuck there and never gone anywhere. And while the film still does not have a release date, Edgar Wright showed some unfinished test footage that he shot to show how the hero's powers would look on the screen. The crowd reportedly went crazy and while the film does not have a release date, I think that it's safe to say that Ant-Man will be coming very soon, probably 2015, but it could hit theaters in late 2014.

While Thor 2 and Captain America 2 were already officially announced, Marvel confirmed the films and their titles. The title for Thor 2 is Thor: The Dark World. Marvel chief Kevin Feige said that the film will begin shooting in a couple of weeks, is directed by Alan Taylor and will hit theaters on November 8, 2013. The title for Captain America 2 is much more revealing. The title is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which refers to Captain America's pal Bucky Barnes, who SPOILER died in Captain America. That film will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and will hit theaters on April 4, 2014.

Marvel also revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy will be their other 2014 film. The movie is based off a space set Marvel comic and will likely feature Thanos, the villain who popped up in the end of The Avengers. Feige said that the film will feature these characters: Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Star-Lord, Rocket Racoon, and Gamora. The film has no director or actors attached but will be released on August 1, 2014.

That's it for now for Marvel news, but look for more announcements, casting news and release dates for films like Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and Black Panther (which there has been no announcement for) in the future.

Can 'The Dark Knight Rises' possibly beat 'The Avengers'?

I'm going to throw some numbers out. $18.7 million. $80.5 million. $207 million. $612 million (so far). $1.455 billion. Those are the numbers for The Avengers midnight showings, opening day, opening weekend, total domestic gross and total worldwide gross. Those are massive numbers and in any other year, The Avengers would be guaranteed to be the #1 film of the year. But not this year. This year also sees the release of possibly the most anticipated movie of all time, The Dark Knight Rises. Now, The Dark Knight Rises is big, but will it be 'Avengers' big? That's the question. It's time for five rounds. The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight Rises. Let's start with midnight grosses.

Round 1: Midnight Grosses

The Avengers grossed $18.7 million at midnights. While that is the highest total for a superhero movie, the record still belongs to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 with $42 million. The Dark Knight Rises won't even touch that record as that film was extremely front-loaded. But I do think that The Dark Knight Rises will have more midnight business than The Avengers. The reasons are that it is summertime now and kids that wanted to see The Avengers at midnight but couldn't because of school now have the chance to see The Dark Knight Rises at midnight. They are practically the same audience, despite what Marvel and DC fans say. The Dark Knight had the previous midnight record with $18.5 million and The Avengers barely edged it out. The Dark Knight Rises should blow past The Avengers.

The Avengers: $18.7 million

The Dark Knight Rises prediction: $25 million

WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


Round 2: Opening Day

The Avengers opened with $80.5 million on its opening day which is the second-highest ever. I think that The Dark Knight Rises will be higher than that. It's simple. This is THE movie of the summer and people will rush out and see it. There have been no other action movies that have had broad appeal and that everybody wanted to see. No film that is not a kids movie has reached $200 million yet this summer besides The Avengers and despite the fact that The Amazing Spider-Man has made $176 million so far, The Dark Knight Rises is still the only mega-movie of the summer.

The Avengers: $80.5 million

The Dark Knight Rises prediction: $89 million

WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


Round 3: Opening Weekend

So far, I think that The Dark Knight Rises midnight grosses and opening day will be bigger than the totals from The Avengers. But will the opening weekend be bigger as well. I think it will. Almost everybody went to see The Dark Knight when it came out in 2008 and I would say most people liked it or loved it. There is no reason that won't happen again. There are some different factors. There is no 3D. I get that. But, The Dark Knight Rises is an IMAX film and it's being marketed as a must-see in IMAX. Remember, those tickets cost more than 3D. I don't think Rises will destroy The Avengers record. But I think it will sneak by it.

The Avengers: $207 million

The Dark Knight Rises prediction: $215 million

WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES


Round 4: Total Domestic Gross

The Avengers has made $612 million in the US and Canada so far. That is good enough for third on the list of the highest grossing films ever. That is a very, very tough number to beat. But I think that The Dark Knight Rises has a chance. The Avengers had a second weekend of $103 million. I can easily see The Dark Knight Rises beating that. There is no competition. The Avengers held well even with Dark Shadows, a film that in my opinion has a different fanbase than The Watch, which is what Rises will be going up against. It's first challenge will come in its third weekend. That is when Total Recall is released. But even that won't be a challenge because it seems that there is no interest in that film at all. The first movie that I think will challenge The Dark Knight Rises is The Bourne Legacy on August 10. Another advantage is that The Dark Knight Rises is opening during the summer so it will have stronger weekly grosses than The Avengers. And if Rises is as good as everybody says, then it will have strong word-of-mouth and will be able to match the total of The Avengers.

The Avengers- $612 million

The Dark Knight Rises prediction- $665 million

WINNER: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Round 5: Total Worldwide Gross

This is where The Avengers might win. The Dark Knight made $533 million domestic and $468 international. If Rises has that same international gross then it will make $1.133 Billion. But I think it will make more then that because audiences are kind to the final chapter of trilogies and that means they make more money. I'm not sure if Rises has a bigger international audience than Avengers but then again, most of Marvel's movies made nothing overseas and then The Avengers made a ton. We'll have to see.

The Avengers: $1.455 Billion

The Dark Knight Rises prediction: $1.3 Billion

WINNER: THE AVENGERS

Well, it looks like The Avengers will be the winner overseas, but The Dark Knight Rises will destroy the domestic box office. I will make a final prediction later in the week. But that's it for now.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay split into two parts

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay will be split in two. That news is really not surprising considering the fact that it was rumored before The Hunger Games even came out. But it is annoying. I love The Hunger Games books series and I enjoyed the movie, but there is absolutely no reason for this to be split in two. The book is about 400 pages, which is enough to fit into a two in a half to three hour movie. There is no reason that that can't happen. What we're gonna get is two movies that run for an hour and a half each. Unlike Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and maybe Twilight: Breaking Dawn (I don't know, I didn't read it), Mockingjay does not need to be split in two. If you need to have a three hour movie to cover enough source material, that is fine with me. And if you are Harry Potter and you have a five hour movie from source material, I will be glad to sit through that. But Mockingjay doesn't have enough! There is so little plot in the book as it is. And if you really need to have a Gone With The Wind-sized runtime, then do an intermission! It's simple. But the real reason for the split is not creative reasons, but it is money. Money.

All book adaptations are split in two nowadays and it is because they're an easy sell to the public. If I go out there and split a movie like Battleship in two, nobody goes to see it. Because unless it is something that you are really invested in, you're not gonna spend double the money for one movie. But with things like Twilight and Harry Potter and The Hobbit and The Hunger Games, you have people that are invested in the source material that will gladly pay to see one movie for the price of two. Because they care that much. But there are not really reasons to do it. Maybe it's also because Hollywood things that people are afraid to sit through long movies. I don't think that's the case. Avatar was 2 hours, 42 minutes. Titanic was 3 hours fifteen minutes. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was 3 hours, 20 mins. The grosses for those movies: $2.78 B, $2.185 B, $1.119 B. People will sit through long movies. Mockingjay can easily fit in the three hour window. Look, I'm fine if you really need two movies. But this is where I draw the line. I'm gonna say this again: Mockingjay is not a five hour epic that needs two movies! I'm not a Tolkien fan, so I'm not questioning what Peter Jackson is doing with The Hobbit, but I think that splitting that book into two is too much. Another route Hollywood could take is what Jackson did with LOTR, where he put five hour extended editions on DVD. All in all, we don't need two Mockingjay movies. But I'll see them anyways. Part 1 opens on November 21, 2014 and Part 2 opens November 20, 2015.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jena Malone join The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Catching Fire has a lot of new characters. If you saw The Hunger Games, you know that a lot of the characters were killed off and now they introduce a bunch of new characters in the sequel. Well, now we have the news that Phillip Seymour Hoffman has been confirmed to play gamemaker Plutarch Heavansbee. Plutarch is an important character in not only Catching Fire, but in Mockingjay as well. Lionsgate has confirmed Hoffman, but there is another actor that is reportedly joining the film that Lionsgate has not confirmed. Jena Malone (Sucker Punch, Hatfields & McCoys) will reportedly be playing Johanna Mason, a brutal District 7 tribute. Again, that has not been confirmed by Lionsgate, but it sounds like it will happen.

I like the idea of casting respected, Oscar-winning actors in some of the main roles. That technique seemed to work well in Harry Potter (almost every British actor on the planet) and I like that here as well. The only film I've actually seen Hoffman in is Mission: Impossible III but I know he's won Oscars and is a good actor. I'm less familiar with Malone, but she might work in the role.

I think that Hoffman is a good fit, but I'm less sure about Malone. I haven't seen anything, but I'll assume that she works in the role.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Top Ten Most Anticipated for the rest of 2012

The first half of 2012 was okay. There was one amazing blockbuster in the form of The Avengers, and a couple of other movies I thoroughly enjoyed but there wasn't a ton of spectacular movies. The second half of 2012 could be better and there are ten movies that I am really looking forward to seeing. Starting with number ten, here are the movies I am looking forward to in the second half of 2012.

 10. FRANKENWEENIE

I don't know. I like some of Tim Burton's stuff but not a lot of it. But something about this new film intrigues me. I like the idea of shooting in black in white and doing the stop motion animation. The trailer was funny and I think that the visuals look stunning. That said, I don't think I'll like it very much because I don't like Tim Burton that much. But, eh, it looks decent.


9. THE GREAT GATSBY

Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby doesn't immediately sound like a movie that I would like but that first trailer sold me on the drama and intensity that I think this film will read. I haven't read F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel but I plan on reading it before I see the movie. I like DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire (who I haven't seen since Spider-Man 3) in the starring roles and I think that this could turn out to be a fantastic film.

8. THE BOURNE LEGACY

I've only seen one of the Bourne movies and while I enjoyed it, I was really annoyed by the shaky camera work. Supposedly, this new Bourne film won't feature that and I'm glad. The Bourne Legacy is being sold as an addition to the Matt Damon franchise and not a reboot. Legacy will focus on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an agent who is in the same program as Jason Bourne. I liked Jeremy Renner in Mission: Impossible 4 and I think the pieces are in place for a really good movie from Tony Gilroy, who wrote the first three Bourne films.  

7. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS

This is a really neat concept. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy team up to stop the Boogeyman. I hope that the plot doesn't take itself too seriously because its a movie about Santa Claus and other heroes teaming up, which is ridiculous. But it has an all-star voice cast featuring Chris Pine and Jude Law and it's from the people that created How To Train Your Dragon, which is promising. Overall, I think that Rise of the Guardians is an animated film to be excited about. 

6. LIFE OF PI

Life of Pi is the only film on this list that I have seen no footage from. I will be seeing some footage with Ice Age: Continental Drift which I am excited for. Supposedly, people were wowed with footage at Cinema-Con and I think that it will have some great visual effects. The plot is a boy gets stuck on a boat with a Bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan. It sounds weird but good at the same time. I think Life of Pi looks like it could be an excellent movie.


5. TOTAL RECALL

I was not excited in the least for this film until I saw the most recent trailer. The trailer completely sold me on the special effects and action this film will bring to the table. I have not seen the original with Arnold but I know that this new version will be a lot more serious. I don't know if Total Recall will actually be a good movie but I hope that it's a very entertaining thrill ride like the ads have shown.


4. WRECK-IT RALPH

I'm sold on Disney's new animated film because of the premise alone. The trailer was decent but the whole concept of Toy Story with arcade games seems very exciting. I'm not a huge gamer but that scene from the trailer with the video game villains was amazing. I think that this could be Disney animation's best film yet (they haven't had any really good films so far). The voice cast is solid as well and I think that the animation looks fantastic. Wreck-It Ralph has been on my radar for a while and I think after that trailer this could also shape up to be the year's biggest animated movie.


3. SKYFALL

I would always be excited for a new James Bond film but I think that the concept behind Skyfall and the all-star cast is what is making me more excited for this film. The plot is shrouded in secrecy but it involves an event from M's past coming back to haunt MI6. The trailer was short but amazing and I hope that Javier Bardem can deliver a creepy performance as the villain. The cast also features Daniel Craig as Bond, Judi Dench as M, and Ralph Fiennes. This is one I am really excited for.


2. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

After watching all three Lord of the Rings films recently, I am now very excited to see what Peter Jackson has in store for the Hobbit. The reaction to the footage at Cinema-Con was mixed but the real test is to see what happens at Comic-Con. The most recent posters really show off the atmosphere of the film, which Lord of the Rings had a lot of. It should be fantastic and I am really hoping to see the film in 48 frames per second, the new technology Jackson is using to put more frames in each shot. The Hobbit is really the only film coming out this year at Christmastime so I might get to see it a couple of times, which is great. The Hobbit is a must-see.


1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

My most anticipated movie of the year comes out next week. The Dark Knight Rises is the sequel to two of my favorite movies of the last decade: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The trailers have been spectacular. The early buzz is that it got a standing ovation. I don't think that there is anything stopping Rises from being a masterpiece. I don't think that there is much more to say. I'll be there opening day, watching it in IMAX and I will hopefully watch the film again and again in theaters.




That's really it for this year. There are some other films I hope to catch in theaters, but these are the ten I look forward to seeing the most.







Monday, July 9, 2012

The Best and Worst of the first half of 2012

I haven't seen a ton of movies this year. But I figured that I would still do a review of the first half of the year anyways. This has been a pretty solid year for movies, but there were not a ton of films that blew me away. I saw a total of nine films in theaters this year, so I'm going to split the films into three categories: the great/good, the good/ok, and the bad/terrible. I'll start with the good and lead up to the bad.

THE GREAT

1. The Avengers- The Avengers was an action packed spectacle. One of the best blockbusters in recent memory, The Avengers takes itself seriously while still having a ton of fun. All credit goes to the actors and Joss Whedon, who did a fantastic job with the script. The Hulk was played tremendously by Mark Ruffalo and The Avengers was non-stop popcorn blockbuster awesomeness.

GRADE: A+

2. The Hunger Games- I was excited for this because I loved the book and I think that it is a very cinematic book. The Hunger Games did not disappointment. In some ways, I think that it is the largest and most expensive independent film ever. The performances were good but I don't really think that this is anywhere near as good as Harry Potter. Overall, The Hunger Games was a good adaptation of the novel but I hope the action and scale is bigger in the sequels.

GRADE: B+

3. Madagascar 3- A colorful, bright and action packed animated film that takes my place as the best animated film so far this year. The best of the Madagascar trilogy is fast paced and has good characters that we care about. Madagascar stays true to the roots of the series while also taking the characters in a new direction for the sequels.

GRADE: B+

THE GOOD BUT NOT GREAT

4. The Amazing Spider-Man- The first half of The Amazing Spider-Man is great. It tells a solid origin story and has good characters and actors that have chemistry together. I like the choices of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone for the two leads. But as the film goes into its climax and deals with the action sequences, it disappoints. You can tell that it's not director Marc Webb's strong point. I enjoyed the film, but the next film does not need to be so dark and brooding, which I felt it was. Spider-Man is not Batman.

GRADE: B+

5. Brave- Brave is a solid, but disappointing film when it comes to Pixar's previous efforts. I enjoyed the film and had a good time, but there is too much crude humor and dark elements. I understand that it was a fantasy and it was supposed to be magical, but there are so many different directions that this film could have gone to keep it grounded in reality that it didn't. I was surprised by the lack of clever humor as well. I found that disappointing. Good movie, not great compared to the rest of Pixar's category.

GRADE: B

6. MIB3- I haven't really liked any of the MIB films but I did mildly enjoy the threequel. I think that there were some elements that weren't great and there were things that were boring, but I would say that it's a somewhat entertaining movie.

GRADE: B-

THE BAD

7. John Carter- I wouldn't really call this bad, I would say that it's not great. I think that Disney probably was not the best place for this franchise and I think that the potential for the films really showed through in the movie. But I don't think that Disney and Andrew Stanton were the right place for the property. But I liked some things about it.

GRADE: C+

8. Snow White and the Huntsman- I would describe this film as boring. It's not good. I think that some things about it were entertaining but it was really a huge disappointment. I thought that the acting was cheesy and over the top and the acting was bad. This wasn't good.

GRADE: C-

9. The Lorax- The Lorax was probably the worst film I saw in theaters this year. It wasn't terrible, but coming from the people that directed Despicable Me, a film that I higly enjoyed, I would classify The Lorax as a disappointment. The Lorax is a simple tale about the environment and the producers turned it into a more complex tale than it needed to be. This happens with all Dr. Seuss adaptations and I shouldn't have been surprised. The animation was beautiful but I thought that it was a pretty lackluster animated movie.

GRADE: D+

That was the first half of 2012. Look for a preview of the second half to come later this week.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

'The Amazing Spider-Man' tops box office wtih $65 million opening

Sony's tentpole The Amazing Spider-Man topped the box office this weekend with a $65 million Friday- Sunday opening. The film made around $140 million over its six-day opening which is extremely good. Other franchise reboots such as Batman Begins and X-Men: First Class opened to $98 million and $68 million adjusted for inflation over their first six days. Granted, neither of those films were on a holiday weekend, but it's safe to say that The Amazing Spider-Man is a modest hit. Ted finished in second place with another $32 million. That film has reached $120 million domestically and should finish with around $200 million. Brave finished in third place with a $20 million weekend. Pixar's fairy tale has now climbed to $174 million and will finish in the $220 million range. Oliver Stone's Savages opened to a solid debut of $16.1 million. The violent drama received a C+ Cinemascore, so the hopes of good word of mouth are dashed. Magic Mike added another $15 million and has now grossed $72 million. That film will fall short of the $100 million mark though, because of front loaded excitement. The other release this weekend, Katy Perry: Part of Me made $10.2 million over four days which is a disappointment. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted became the highest grossing film in the franchise this weekend with $196 million. The film is still going strong and could reach $215 million. Moonrise Kingdom, To Rome With Love, and Beasts of the Southern Wild also performed well this weekend.

1. The Amazing Spider-Man- $65 million weekend, $140 million total
2. Ted- $32.5 million weekend, $120 million total
3. Brave- $20 million weekend, $174 million total
4. Savages- $16.1 million weekend
5. Magic Mike- $15.6 million weekend, $72 million total
6. Madea's Witness Protection- $10 million weekend, $45.8 million total
7. Madagascar 3- $7.7 million weekend, $196 million total
8. Katy Perry: Part of Me- $7.1 million weekend, $10.2 million total
9. Moonrise Kingdom- $4.6 million weekend, $26 million total
10. To Rome With Love- $3.5 million weekend, $5.6 million total

Next weekend is the weekend before The Dark Knight Rises comes out. Plain and simple. But there is still a big film next weekend, in the form of Ice Age: Continental Drift. The second installment opened to $68 million but the third installment only opened to $41 million. Now, the trick is that Ice Age 3 ended up becoming the highest grossing film in the franchise. People seemed to enjoy the third film and I think that there is some added goodwill to the franchise. But there were just two major kids films and I don't know if people are going to want a third kid movie right now. But I think that it will still open to $50 million. The Amazing Spider-Man won't drop too far and will probably make another $35 million. Ted will still perform strong but look for Savages to drop like a brick.

1. Ice Age: Continental Drift- $50 million
2. The Amazing Spider-Man- $35 million
3. Ted- $20 million
4. Brave- $10 million
5. Magic Mike- $8 million
6. Savages- $7.5 million
7. Madea's Witness Protection- $5 million
8. Katy Perry- $4 million
9. Madagascar 3- $3 million
10. Moonrise Kingdom- $2 million

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man review

This summer has three huge superhero movies: The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. I loved The Avengers, and am eagerly anticipating The Dark Knight Rises, but I was really skeptical about The Amazing Spider-Man. I am a huge fan of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (yes, even Spider-Man 3), and I thought it was too soon to reboot. But star Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi felt that they had reached a creative dead end, so the reboot was handed over to Marc Webb.

First things first: The Amazing Spider-Man is in no way a reboot. The marketing has shouted tag-lines like "The Untold Story", but it is not. It is a remake of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man with a different villain, a different love interest, and some back-story about his parents. The story is the same. They tinker little things that really don't matter at all and it really is a do-over.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a teenager in high school who lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben (Sally Field and Martin Sheen). His parents died in a plane crash when he was a young boy and he knows nothing about them. When he finds a briefcase containing a picture of his father and another scientist named Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), who works at Oscorp. Peter goes to Oscorp, where he is bitten by a radioactive spider, gets superpowers and becomes Spider-Man. Peter falls in love and begins a relationship with his crush Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). He helps Doctor Connors in creating a serum to help him in his end goal: to grow his arm back. And he fights Connors when he becomes the Lizard.

The first hour of the film is fantastic. It was amazing and totally believable. I honestly think that the origin story of how Peter becomes Spider-Man was told better in this film than the original. Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Peter. It really seems that Garfield is Peter at times and he totally nails the performance. Him and Emma Stone have this weird, awkward chemistry together and I thought it was better than Maguire and Kristen Dunst. Rhys Ifans is an iffy choice for Curt Connors/the Lizard. He did a good job, but I don't think he fits the character as well as Garfield and Stone do. My verdict on Aunt May and Uncle Ben: Sheen was decent and Field did not fit at all. I thought that Denis Leary was good as Captain Stacy but I really missed JK Simmons as Jonah Jameson. The second half is still pretty good but the action never feels very epic and I didn't think the action was nearly as well done as the original trilogy. There are some quirks that don't make a lot of sense but nothing too big.

Director Marc Webb is best known for his romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. That is shown relentlessly in this film. Most of the time it works for the film, but there are some moments where it feels excessive. I think that it is much better done than the original trilogy, but is over the top. 

Did we really need this remake? No. But it is a whole lot better than I thought it was going to be, yes. The 3D is completely non-existent in the first half of the film but comes into full effect and is put to good use in the second half. I was impressed in the second half. I also liked Marc Webb's POV shots that work really well. I think that the best part about The Amazing Spider-Man is that it's not the whole story. There are still places to go, things to be developed and a way to make the story better. Sony has already stated that this film is the first of a trilogy and I am definitely intrigued to see where it's going.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                            (7.3/10)

Brave Review

Pixar has the best track record in animation. They have created modern classics such as The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Up, Monsters Inc., and all three Toy Story films. But they have never had a female lead until now. Brave had a long development at Disney with Reese Witherspoon attached to star as Merida and Brenda Chapman slated to direct. The film was titled The Bear and the Bow. The project then moved to Pixar where Chapman eventually left the project and Mark Andrews stepped in. And now the film has been released.

Brave tells the story of Merida (Kelly MacDonald), a Scottish princess who lives in a kingdom with her parents, Eleanor (Emma Thompson) and Fergus (Billy Connolly). Merida is groomed by her mother to be queen but all she wants to do is go off and explore and fire arrows at targets. Eleanor brings suitors to the kingdom and when here and Merida get into a fight, Merida leaves the kingdom to find a spell that will change her fate. That's pretty much all I can say without spoiling the movie's twist. Let's just say she changes her mother into something that she didn't really intend.

Brave is a pretty standard Pixar film. That doesn't mean that it's bad, I enjoyed it much more than I did Ratatouille and Finding Nemo, but it's not as amazing as some of their other films. The animation for Brave is spectacular and is definitely Pixar's most skilled animation yet. The action is decent but it isn't well choreographed. In some of the fight scenes and the comical brawls, there are people flying all over the place. The humor is sometimes really funny, but this is where I think a major fault of the film lies. For an animation studio that I associate with clever humor and great stories, the humor is really dumb and crude in Brave. There are a few clever jokes but there was a lot more slapstick, low-brow humor than in previous Pixar efforts.

Another major fault of the film is that it is also a fantasy piece. There are some things that it seemed that we were supposed to know about the film's mythology that weren't very well explained. A particular example is that there are several scenes in the movie that take place with seven stones. That was never clearly explained, and if it was supposed to have significance, it didn't.

Brave is a good Pixar movie and I think that it's enjoyable. I think that kids will like it more than adults because it's a movie with an easy plot to understand and I don't think that it is aimed at adults like WALL-E, Up, and Ratatouille. The film is fun but also doesn't feel very epic. I don't know if the filmmakers were intending it to feel that way but it didn't work. I think Brave is a good, enjoyable movie with some flaws, but overall a solid piece of entertainment.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B-                                           (6.7/10)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

'Ted', 'Magic Mike' overperform, take down 'Brave'

Seth MacFarlane's teddy bear comedy Ted massively overwhelmed this weekend with $54.1 million, which beats The Hangover's record for largest opening weekend for an original R-rated comedy. It also places third behind The Hangover Part II and Sex and the City for an R-rated comedy in general. Ted should have strong word of mouth based on an A- cinemascore and could possibly skyrocket to $200 million. In second place was Magic Mike, Channing Tatum and Steven Soderburgh's male stripper movie, which debuted beyond expectations with $39.1 million. The box office was extremely front-loaded for Magic Mike; the film dropped 45% from Friday to Saturday. In third place was Pixar's Brave, which grossed another $34 million. The film has now grossed a total of $131 million. Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection debuted to a solid $26.3 million, which was good for 4th place. Madagascar 3 added another $11.8 million this weekend and the film has reached $180 million. The threequel should finish with a total of around $200 million. Meanwhile Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter dropped 63% to $6 million for a total of $29 million. Prometheus added $4.9 million to raise its total to $118 million. Snow White and the Huntsman reached $145 million with a $4.4 million weekend. Meanwhile, Alex Kurtzman's drama People Like Us debuted to $4.3 million, which is somewhat disappointing. The Avengers raised its total to $606 million after crossing $600 million earlier this week. Overall box office was at $201 million this weekend, which is up from last year.


This week is unusual because its sees the debuts of three films all on separate dates. The Amazing Spider-Man opens on Tuesday, Katy Perry: Part of Me opens on Thursday, and Savages opens on Friday. Projections to come later.