Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Preview

2011 is almost over. And now it's time to look ahead to 2012. 2011 was a great year (for the most part). It brought us great films like Super 8, War Horse, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Captain America, The Muppets, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and the final Harry Potter installment. It also brought us disappointments like Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens, The Adventures of Tintin, and Puss in Boots. We can only hope that 2012 is even better. Here is my preview of 2012's biggest films and my projections on how well they will do at the box office.


Selene returns in the fourth installment in the Underworld series. This time she leads the fight against humans as the discover the vampires and Lycans.

Release Date: January 20
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Charles Dance, India Eisley
Projection: The prequel made $45 million, but I think this series might be wearing off. $40 million.


George Lucas produces this film about the Tuskegee airmen and their heroic fight against racism and the Nazi's.

Release Date: January 20
Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Ne-Yo, Michael B. Jordan
Director: Anthony Hemingway
Projection: Depends how it does with the teen crowd. Action looks good but certainly won't be a blockbuster. $55 million.


Daniel Radcliffe's first role after Potter has him as a lawyer who investigates the strange happenings involving a ghost in a small village.

Release Date: February 3
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Janet McTeer, Ciaran Hinds
Director: James Watkins
Projection: The film should bring out Potter fans and horror fans in droves. It looks terrifyingly great. $80 million.


A found footage superhero film about a group of teens that get superpowers and must fight one of their own who has turned evil.

Release Date: February 3 
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Alex Russell
Director: Josh Trank
Projection: It looks intriguing and should bring a lot of teens to the theater, but with The Woman in Black as it's weekend competition and a tough February stacked up against it, I don't see it getting past $35 million.


Dwayne Johnson joins the cast of this sequel to 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth. This film has Hutcherson's character trying to find his grandfather on an island.

Release Date: February 10
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgens, Luiz Guzman
Director: Brad Peyton
Projection: Definitely won't be as big as the first film, but should make decent money. $45 million.


Nicolas Cage's latest attempt at making a good movie is the sequel to 2006's Ghost Rider. This time Johnny Blaze is trying to stop the devil.

Release Date: February 17
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds
Directors: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Projection: Nobody enjoyed the first one even though it made tons of money. I don't think this one will do very good at all for a superhero movie. $50 million.


Loosely based on the Spy vs. Spy segment in Mad magazine, comes this star-studded film about two spies fighting over a girl.

Release Date: February 17
Cast: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon
Director: McG
Projection: This is the perfect film to appeal to both men and women. It's an action packed romantic comedy. Should do very well. $95 million.


The latest Dr. Seuss adaption stars Zac Efron as Ted, who goes looking for the Once-Ler, a man who took down all the trees.

Release Date: March 3, 2012
Cast: Zac Efron, Betty White, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle, Danny DeVito
Directors: Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda
Projection: The second film from Illumination should do very well in a spring where family films are scarce. $125 million


A Civil War vet is transported to Mars to fight in a war between Red Martians and Green Martians.

Release Date: March 9
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, William Dafoe, Mark Strong
Director: Andrew Stanton
Projection: Disney is dumping a lot of money into this project ($250 million) and it's not getting much positive reaction from trailers so far. I would be surprised if it made over $130 million.


Edgar Allan Poe's last days involve him hunting down a serial killer using methods from his books.

Release Date: March  9
Cast: John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans
Director: James McTeigue
Projection: This period piece looks exciting but won't make a ton of money. $25 million.


The first of the two Snow White films next year, has Snow White being hunted by the Prince.

Release Date: March 16
Cast: Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Julia Roberts, Sean Bean, Nathan Lane
Director: Tarsem Singh
Projection: This colorful adaptation should attract families but looks very different. It depends which Snow White movie people think looks better. I think the other looks better. $45 million.


An adaptation of the best selling novel, a young girl named Katniss must fight 23 other teens in the Hunger Games, the ultimate survival game.

Release date: March 23
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Willow Shields, Toby Jones, Amandla Stenberg, Alexander Ludwig, Lenny Kravitz
Director: Gary Ross
Projection: This will be one of 2012's biggest films. The novels have a Twilight-like fan base and this movie should make a ton of money. $240 million. Less would be a disappointment.


The sequel to the mediocre Clash of the Titans, finds Zeus kidnapped by Hades and Perseus making an ultimate weapon to save him.

Release date: March 30
Cast: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy
Director: Johnathan Liebesman
Projection: The original made $163 million, but I'm thinking less for this one. $125 million.


No plot details available at this time.

Release date: April 13
Cast: Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Chris Diamantoupolos, Jane Lynch, Larry David, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson
Director: The Farrelly Brothers
Projection: I smell flop. $20 million.


The Avengers brings together the Marvel heroes who band together to stop Loki from taking over the world with an ancient power.

Release date: May 4
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Clark Gregg, Colbie Smulders, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard
Director: Joss Whedon
Projection: This will be a massive hit. All the Marvel films have been leading up to this film. And it's going to be epic. $375 million.


Tim Burton's adaptation of the '60's horror show. The film is about a family whose uncle is a vampire named Barnabus Collins

Release date: May 11
Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfieffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Tim Burton
Projection: Depp and Burton have star power, but if this gets an R rating, I don't see it going as far as Alice in Wonderland. $60 million.


A crew fights for their lives on a boat against a troop of evil aliens.

Release date: May 18
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgard
Director: Peter Berg
Projection: The first trailer was unimpressive but if it can deliver the action, then let the cash flow. $250 million.


Agent J travels back in time to stop and evil agent from killing Agent K and messing up the space-time continuum.

Release date: May 25
Cast: Will Smith, Alice Eve, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Bill Hader, Emma Thompson
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Projection: MIB 3 will make good money, but if it doesn't make sense, it could lose some money on word of mouth.$170 million.


Two teens fall in love in Hollywood during the 1980's, while an evil group tries to shut down the Sunset strip.

Release Date: June 1
Cast: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary Blige, Alec Baldwin
Director: Adam Shankman
Projection: Although some may be turned off by the fact that it's a musical, I see this doing very well. $150 million.


An evil queen sends a Huntsman to slay a girl who may become fairest of them all.

Release date: June 1
Cast: Kirsten Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Clafin, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Nick Frost
Director: Rupert Sanders
Projection: Universal is really aiming for epic fantasy here. It could bring out both fantasy and Twilight fans. $150 million.


A group of scientists set out for space where they must fight an epic battle for survival.

Release date: June 8
Cast: Michael Fassebender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce
Director: Ridley Scott
Projection: With a huge budget, and supposed ties to Alien and Blade Runner, this film is a sure-fire hit. $165 million.


The gang joins a circus in hopes of making it back to NYC.

Release date: June 8
Cast: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer
Director: Eric Darnell
Projection: The 2nd film was bad but this one will still make a lot. $180 million.


A war between men and giants sends Jack on a quest to save a princess.

Release date: June 15
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Warwick Davis
Director: Bryan Singer
Prediction: In a summer of fairy tales, Jack seems interesting, but depends on how people react to Hoult as a star. $100 million.


The title says it all.

Release date: June 22
Cast: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Projection: Should be interesting but I don't see it getting past $50 million.


Pixar's latest film about a warrior princess destined to end an evil curse

Release date: June 22
Cast: Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson
Director: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Projection: Looks OK to me, but no Pixar film has made less than $162 million and I see this one reaching $245 million.


The sequel to the 2009 blockbuster finds the team fighting Zartan.

Release date: June 29
Cast: Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Ray Park, Bruce Willis, Byung-hun Lee, Ray Stevenson
Director: Jon Chu
Projection: The original made $150 million but I see this one, with added star power, and a prime summer release date, getting to $200 million.


Peter Parker gets bit by a radioactive spider and turns into Spider-Man.

Release date: July 3
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifans
Director: Marc Webb
Projection: It won't be a phenomenon like the original but will still make a massive amount of money. $295 million.

A story about a man and his teddy bear who comes to life.

Release date: July 13
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth McFarlane
Director: Seth McFarlane
Projection: If it's funny, it'll be a hit. $80 million.


The gang battles pirates as continental drift begins.

Release date: July 13
Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Aziz Ansari
Directors: Steve Martino and Mike
Projection: It'll make loads of cash, even if it's not good. $195 million.


The Batman's final mission takes place seven years after The Dark Knight and will introduce Bane, Catwoman, and Talia Al-Ghul.

Release date: July 20
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon- Levitt, Matthew Modine, Marion Cotillard, Josh Pence
Director: Christopher Nolan
Projection: One of the biggest films of all time is waiting for us in July 2012. It's a disappointment if it doesn't make $530 million. 


No plot details available at this time.

Release Date: August 3
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
Director: Tony Gilroy
Projection: Still no trailer, but with Renner's new star power after Ghost Protocol, it should do decent. $170 million.


A boy that can talk with the dead must end his town's curse.

Release Date: August 17
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Christopher Mintz-Plaase, Leslie Mann, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman
Directors: Chris Butler and Sam Fell
Projection: Too scary for younger kids, but too childish for teens. $60 million.


A young boy discovers Dracula's hidden resort and falls for his daughter.

Release Date: September 21
Cast: Adam Sandler, Miley Cyrus, Steve Buschemi, Kevin James, David Spade, Andy Samberg
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Projection: A Halloween comedy from Adam Sandler. Sounds like a hit to me. $100 million.


A member of the mob of the future discovers that his next target is his future self

Release Date: September 28
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano
Director: Rian Johnson
Projection: Definitely an ambitious project, but I'm not sure it will appeal to the general public. $35 million.


A scientist brings his dog back to life only to face a monster.

Release Date: October 5
Cast: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau
Director: Tim Burton
Projection: Another quirky horror comedy from Burton. Should attract decent business but not as much without Johnny Depp. $75 million.


A sequel to the 2009 hit

Release Date: October 5
Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Director: Olivier Megaton
Projection: With lots of Liam Neeson action-fests out this year, I don't see this film doing as good as the original. $95 million.


A group of teens fight off a North Korean army

Release Date: November 2
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Josh Peck, Connor Cruise
Director: Dan Bradley
Projection: After years on the shelf, Red Dawn will finally get on the screen. The cast looks awesome and I see this being a decent hit with the teen crowd. $70 million.


A story centered on an evil video game character who wants to be good but unleashes an army on his arcade

Release Date: November 2
Cast: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman
Director: Rich Moore
Projection: Sound ridiculously cool, like a Toy Story with video games. Should be a massive hit with families and it should make $160 million.


M's past comes back to haunt her and Bond must hunt down a threat that will destroy MI6.

Release Date: November 9
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Helen McCrory, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Sam Mendes
Projection:  After MGM's downfall, Bond is primed for a box office hit. $170 million.


The final chapter in the Twilight saga

Release Date: November 16
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Launtner, Dakota Fanning, Michael Sheen, Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz
Director: Bill Condon
Projection: Primed to be one of the biggest hits of 2012. $350 million.


Two astronauts stranded in space attempt to get back to Earth.

Release Date: November 21
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Projection: By far the most ambitious project of the year; it will be epic, amazing, and groundbreaking, but it won't be huge at the box office. $50 million.


Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and others team up against the Bogeyman

Release Date: November 21
Cast: Jude Law, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher, Alec Baldwin, Dakota Goyo, Chris Pine
Directors: Peter Ramsey and William Joyce
Projection: This film sounds like it will be awesome. $155 million.


A prequel to Lord of the Rings about the adventures of Bilbo Baggins.

Release Date: December 14
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Hugo Weaving
Director: Peter Jackson
Projection: This film will be huge. $340 million.


A United Nations official embarks on a quest to stop the zombie epidemic

Release Date: December 21
Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, David Morse, James Badge Dale
Director: Marc Forster
Projection: If it doesn't stay true to the book, it may lose some business, but I think it will be a hit. $125 million.


A man becomes stranded on an island with an assortment of animals

Release Date: December 21
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Suraj Sharma, Tabu
Director: Ang Lee
Projection: I think it sounds pretty cool, but it's too weird for the big screen. $45 million.


A biopic about the 16th president of the United States

Release Date: December TBA
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jared Harris, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, James Spader, Sally Field
Director: Steven Spielberg
Projection: Spielberg's last historical film, Munich, made $47 million. I'm thinking around $60 million for this one.


A freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from an evil plantation owner

Release Date: December 25
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Christoph Waltz
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Projection: Tarantino's last film made $120 million. $130 million for this one.


A man finds himself intrigued by the life of his friend Jay Gatsby

Release Date: December 25
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Projection: The 3D will certainly annoy audiences, but it should do decent. $80 million.

Well, that's it for my 2012 preview. Check back soon for my 15 most anticipated movies of the year and 2011: A year in review along with more reviews. 

Nominations for the first annual Movie Guru Awards

It's almost the end of 2011 and it has been a fantastic year. We had big budget action films, odes to Steven Spielberg, the end of Harry Potter, and superheroes galore. Now it's time to recognize the best of 2011 with the first annual Movie Guru awards. The nominations are being announced today, and the winners will be released on January 20. For now, here are the nominees for the first annual Movie Guru Awards.

The Muppets
Captain America: The First Avenger
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Super 8
War Horse

Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Joel Courtney, Super 8
Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Michael Fassebender, X-Men: First Class


Elle Fanning, Super 8
Hayley Altwell, Captain America: The First Avenger
Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men: First Class
Emma Watson, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Chloe Grace Moretz, Hugo


Riley Griffiths, Super 8
Simon Pegg, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Tom Felton, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Tyrese Gibson, Fast Five


Kat Dennings, Thor
Frieda Pinto, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Helen McCrory, Hugo
Maggie Smith, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Paula Patton, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol


Joel Courtney, Super 8
Riley Griffiths, Super 8
Dakota Goyo, Real Steel
Tom Hiddleston, Thor
Jeremy Irvine, War Horse


Kung Fu Panda 2
Cars 2
Puss in Boots
The Adventures of Tintin


Michael Giacchino, Super 8
John Williams, War Horse

Michael Giacchino, Cars 2
Steve Jablonsky, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Alexandre Desplat, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


JJ Abrams, Super 8
Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller, The Muppets
Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Chris Morgan, Fast Five


Steve Kloves, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
John Logan, Hugo
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Captain America: The First Avenger
Lee Hall and Richard Curtis, War Horse

Matthew Vaughn, Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, and Jane Goldman, X-Men: First Class


Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Real Steel
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Super 8
Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Ha Nguyen, Super 8
Alexandra Byrne, Thor
Anna Shepard, Captain America: The First Avenger
Penny Rose, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Mary Zophress, Cowboys and Aliens


Steven Spielberg, War Horse

Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Rupert Wyatt, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
JJ Abrams, Super 8
Brad Bird, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol


Green Lantern
Cowboys and Aliens
Puss in Boots
Mr. Popper's Penguins


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Super 8
The Muppets
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol


The Dark Knight Rises
The Avengers
The Hunger Games

If you are wondering, Super 8 led with 13 nominations, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 had 9, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol had 7,Captain America: The First Avenger and War Horse had 5, Rise of the Planet of the Apes also had 5, and Hugo and Thor had 4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Muppets, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Fast Five, and X-Men: First Class all had 3. Cowboys and Aliens and Real Steel had 2, and the rest had only 1.

Friday, December 30, 2011

War Horse review

War Horse is director Steven Spielberg's latest film and his 2nd to come out this holiday season (the other being The Adventures of Tintin). This is a classic Spielberg film that is full of sentimental moments along with devastating and violent battle sequences. The film stars newcomer Jeremy Irvine as Albert. His drunken father buys a horse named Joey that Albert has watched grow up on a nearby farm. His father pays a large sum of money for the horse and their landlord (David Thewlis) demands that they pay back the money that they owe. Albert and Joey must plow the yard for crops to save their farm. After they do, and the farm is saved, the crops are flooded by a rainstorm. To save the farm again, Albert's father sells Joey to Captain Nichols (Tom Hiddleston), who is a leader in England's army in WWI. Nichols vows to return Joey to Albert if possible. So from this point on in the story we follow Joey as he moves from rider to rider and army to army.

War Horse is definitely a sentimental film. But you should not go into War Horse thinking that that is what it's all about. It's really about WWI and all the horrible tragedies that occurred during the war. Yes, the main character is a horse and the heart of the film is about a boy and his quest to find his horse. But it has violent and saddening battle sequences along with the sentimental moments. In fact, Albert is essentially gone in the middle part of the film. It's not until the final act that he returns to a major role in the movie.

When I saw the trailer for War Horse, I noticed that there were a lot of characters that looked like they were going to have subplots in the film. I thought that Spielberg might not be able to intertwine those characters into the story. But he does it perfectly. Basically to put all the characters together, he has the horse move around and meet all these characters until the final act where the horse is back at war after being with two young boys and a grandfather (Niels Arestrup) and his granddaughter.

The acting is perfect and I couldn't think of any of the performances being any better than they were. Jeremy Irvine as Albert is great and could go down as another one of Spielberg's great kid actors. But the best actor is not even a human. It's Joey. How Spielberg got that horse to do what he wanted I have no clue. But his performance is spot-on.

John Williams' score is also used frequently in the film and while it's not as good as his classic scores for E.T., Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Jaws, or Harry Potter, it still is very good and adds a lot to the film. 

War Horse also depicts some pretty intense combat. There are soldiers killed for deserting, piles of dead horse, soldiers on cavalry slicing down other soldiers, mustard gas, and lots of explosions and gunfire. This is a perfect film for teenagers, but too intense for the youngest kids. The film has little on blood and leaves most of the violence to your imagination, unlike Saving Private Ryan. A perfect example of this is a scene where British soldiers are charging a German camp on horses and the Germans get their machine guns and shoot at the soldiers. All you see is riderless horses running by the German machine guns. Spielberg has said that he just needed to find an alternative to the violence he depicted in Saving Private Ryan, that is still intense and upsetting and horrific, but not graphic. He does it perfectly.

War Horse is a perfect film. It's entertaining, it's sentimental, it's horrific, and everything else you would want from a movie. Older preteens and teens are sure to enjoy this film. The film has a long runtime at 2 1/2 hours but it flies by. Spielberg has created another classic with War Horse.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A-                                           (8.6/10)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ridley Scott returns to sci-fi in the Prometheus trailer

Ridley Scott created two groundbreaking sci-fi films in Alien and Blade Runner. Scott has finally developed a sort of prequel to Alien in Prometheus. Scott has attempted to tell the origins of some aspects in Alien without making a direct prequel. The cast and Scott have repeatedly denied that it is a full prequel to Alien but it looks to have a lot in common with that film. Check out the trailer below.

Scott looks to have created another blend of science fiction and horror in his new film. I was excited and interested but I was also terrified throughout the whole trailer. I can't help but feel that this is the film that Avatar should have been. A groundbreaking, action-packed film that has a great story, great characters, scary monsters, and a real story. I'm super excited about this even though any real plot details are scarce. Prometheus opens June 8 and stars Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Patrick Wilson, and Logan Marshall-Green.

Return to Middle-Earth in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most successful film series' of all time. Now after a long time stuck in development, The Hobbit is finally coming to the big screen in two parts. Part 1, titled An Unexpected Journey will hit theaters December 14, 2012, and Part 2 will hit December 2013. You can check out the trailer for Peter Jackson's return to Middle-Earth below.

I've never watched any of the Lord of the Rings films in full, but this film looks underwhelming and childish compared to the others. I know Tolkien fans are going berserk over this trailer but I see it as a film that looks only OK. Maybe it's because I was terribly bored with The Hobbit when I read it for class. Jackson looks to have done a beautiful job with the landscape, but overall it looks only mediocre.The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hits theater December 14 and stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Luke Evans, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberwatch, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Christopher Lee and Stephen Fry. 

The Dark Knight Rises trailer is finally here!!!!!

It's the most anticipated movie for 2012 and one of the most anticipated in history. It is the epic end of Christopher Nolan's massively successful trilogy. And after playing before Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, it's finally hit the internet. The Dark Knight Rises trailer is here. The trailer showcases a lot more than the announcement trailer did back in July and shows off a lot of intriguing and awesome material. Check out the trailer below.

Anything that I was previously skeptical about in the film has been put to rest with this trailer. Bane looks completely amazing and while the voice is kind of hard to understand, it's epic at the same time. Anne Hathaway looks pitch-perfect as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Any doubts I had about her in the role
are gone. Both Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt look to have interesting characters as Miranda Tate and John Blake that I think will be important to the film. The set-up and the special effects look spectacular; especially the Batwing. There are plenty of things to get excited about and I'm sure Nolan won't disappoint. The Dark Knight Rises opens on July 20 and stars Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Anne Hathaway, and Juno Temple.

The Titans return in Wrath of the Titans

2010's Clash of the Titans is one of my least favorite action movies, but it had to stay true to the original and was limited in terms of what it could do. The film still made loads of cash and had now spawned a sequel. Director Johnathan Liebesman of Battle: LA has taken over for Louis Leterrier and has attempted to make a better, grittier installment. Check out the trailer below.

Wrath of the Titans looks to have better action and scarier monsters. It also seems to have a better story that has the titans taking over and Perseus (Sam Worthington) embarks on a journey to save his father and destroy the titans. Wrath of the Titans opens March 30 and stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Danny Huston, and Edgar Ramirez.

A fairy tale with a twist in the Jack the Giant Killer trailer

Bryan Singer is best known for the X-Men series, Superman Returns, and The Usual Suspects. Now Singer heads into dark fairytale territory with Jack the Giant Killer. It looks to take a ton from Lord of the Rings with mythological creatures, a medieval setting, and lots of big armies. Check out the trailer below.

Jack the Giant Killer looks to follow the original story pretty well. Except there's armies, flaming trees, and a lot more Giants. I'm really excited about the prospects of the movie after reading the story synopsis and watching the trailer. And the cast looks fantastic. Jack the Giant Killer opens June 15 and stars Nicolas Hoult, Ian McShane, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Warwick Davis, Eddie Marsan, and Eleanor Tomlinson.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tom Cruise rocks in the Rock of Ages trailer

Rock of Ages is a massively popular musical on Broadway. And now the film is getting a star-studded film from Warner Bros. The film stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta as lovers in the rock 'n' roll '80's, but the real star of the film is Tom Cruise as legendary rocker Stacee Jaxx. Check out the trailer below.

I never thought I would be excited to see a musical but this one looks great. I'm more excited to see Russell Brand as an '80's rocker than I am to see Cruise as Jaxx. The plot seems relatively simple but solid. Rock of Ages opens on June 1, 2012 and stars Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, and Paul Giamatti.

The second trailer for Battleship features more explosions

Back in July, the first trailer for Battleship disappointed me because of it's lack of explosions and action. Now I got what I asked for with the second trailer. Check out the trailer below.

The action doesn't look to disappoint and if you're looking for a good plot, well you're looking at the wrong movie. It looks a bit over dramatic but a lot of movies are these days. In addition, the aliens look spectacular. Battleship opens May 18, 2012 and stars Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, and Liam Neeson.

Sacha Baron Cohen is back with The Dictator

Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for Da Ali G Show, Borat, and Bruno. Both Borat and Bruno were unscripted comedy and from what I could tell The Dictator, Cohen's new film, will not be that way. Check out the trailer below for the spoof of Moammar Gaddaffi and Saddam Hussien.

It looks hilarious in my opinion and I love the Megan Fox cameo and the line about the Empire state building. The story doesn't reveal much plot, but with Cohen starring, I can't imagine there will be much of one. The Dictator opens May 11, 2012 and stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, John C. Reilly, and Megan Fox.

It's all about Dwayne Johnson in the G.I. Joe: Retaliation trailer

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was a modest hit in 2009, but nobody seemed to care for the film. Well, Paramount decided what they needed to do for the sequel: bring in a new director along with Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson; get rid of most of the original cast, have less Channing Tatum and more realistic action and you have a better movie. Check out the trailer below:

Granted that I never saw the original, this one looks pretty good, with a lot more action and less humor. Dwayne Johnson is perfect to star in the film and reducing Channing Tatum (maybe killing him?) to a minor role. We'll see how it works out when G.I. Joe: Retaliation is released on June 29, 2012. Retaliation stars Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Ray Stevenson, Adrianne Palicki, and Ray Park.

The Men in Black are back with MIB3

One of the late '90's most popular films, Men in Black was a worldwide success. In 2002, the sequel didn't fare so well. But after a ton of rewrites and attempts to get this movie on the big screen, next summer Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back with MIB3. Check out the trailer below:


The film looks interesting, but the trailer doesn't give a lot of plot. Brolin looks great as a young K, but I just was not that overly impressed overall. The film looks sort of cheesy but I can't expect anything less from a Men in Black film. We'll all see when MIB3 is released on May 25, 2012. The films stars Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thompson, and Alice Eve.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows review

Sherlock Holmes was a huge hit in 2009, but can the sequel live up to the expectations? The answer is yes and no. A Game of Shadows stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson. Watson is getting married to Mary and Holmes is about to lose his investigative partner. Meanwhile, Holmes is monitoring the acts of criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). Holmes meets Simza (Noomi Rapace) a gypsy whose brother has something to do with Moriarty. Watson gets involved and the trio go off in search of Simza's brother and trying to stop Moriarty from starting a World War.

A Game of Shadows certainly delivers the action, but is light on everything else. Mycroft (Stephen Fry) is Holmes' brother, who I thought would bring some more witty humor into the film does nothing but fill screen time. The plot involving Rapace's character never worked and is the main reason the film is not as good as it should be. Moriarty is a worthy villain but director Guy Ritchie never really makes his motives clear. The plot is straightforward but I didn't understand what Moriarty was trying to do until three-quarters of the way through the film.

Now to the good parts. The action is spectacular, even if it's unrealistic for 19th century Britain. Action fans will enjoy it but true fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's source material will probably slit their wrists. Personally, I enjoyed it. The chemistry between Downey and Law is apparent and leaves you with some pretty funny moments.

If someone asks me how A Game of Shadows was, I'll say it was good but it's the perfect example of a trailer being better than the movie itself. The ending to the film is one of the best I've seen though. Holmes is a fun, enjoyable movie, but it's not as good as it should be. The film also comes with a trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. Let me tell you, that film looks amazing and epic. It is going to be excellent.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                            (5.9/10)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hugo review

Hugo is based off of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Bryan Selznick. The film is also director Martin Scorsese's first 3D film and his first film for kids. Hugo stars Asa Butterfield as the titular character, who is an orphan that lives in a train station in Paris. His father (Jude Law) died and his uncle disappeared. Now he runs all the clocks in the station by himself. He is constantly hiding from the Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). He steals to get food, toys, and pieces for an automaton, that his father and him were fixing before his death. Hugo also believes that the automaton holds a message from his father. One day he is caught stealing by Georges (Ben Kingsley). Georges takes Hugo's notebook, which has drawings of the automaton and he hides it from him. Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz), Georges' goddaughter helps Hugo find his notebook and fix the automaton.

The first half of the film is a real adventure about Hugo, Isabelle, and the message in the automaton. But the film soon turns into Scorsese's movie about his love of movies and that, for me is when it got really interesting. I won't say what happens but it involves a movie director and him trying to forget his past career.

The 3D is very good, with some scenes that seemed to pop off the screen. The 3D didn't blow my mind but the scenes with snow were amazing.

The film has some bad spots though. Firstly it is too long, and there was certainly a lot of stuff that was not in the book that could have been cut. The whole subplot about the Station Inspector could have been cut out of the film along with the subplot about the bookkeeper (Christopher Lee). It also moves very slow in some parts, and small children may get very bored, but for any true cinema fan, it is a true treat to see the movie, especially the parts about Melies.

The acting is very good all around. Butterfield and Moretz are great actors, but the best performances come from Kingsley and Helen McCrory who plays Melies' wife. There are no bad performances. Even Sacha Baron Cohen's the Station Inspector is very good, it's just useless to the plot.

In the end, Hugo is a delightful family film that all movie fans will adore. I can't recommend it for kids, not because of bad stuff, but because they will be bored. But everybody else should definitely see it.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                             (8/10)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Muppets review

The last Muppets film to hit the big screen was 1998's Muppets from Space, which flopped at the box office. Odds are the latest Muppet film from Jason Segal and Disney will do just the opposite. Almost everything about The Muppets is great. It's funny, heartwarming, and a film that can be loved be anybody of any age. It could not have been done any better.

The Muppets stars Gary (Jason Segal), a pretty normal guy, except he has Walter, a Muppet, as his "brother". Gary is going on a vacation with his girlfriend of ten years, Mary (Amy Adams) to California. Oh, by the way, all three are huge Muppet fans. Gary takes Walter along just so he can see the Muppet theater. The three take a tour of the studios and it's a run-down mess with one employee (Alan Arkin, in a cameo) and only a few visitors a day. Walter sneaks into Kermit's office and hears of a plan by Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to tear down Muppet studios and drill for oil, unless the Muppets can raise $10 million dollars by the deadline to save their studios. So, the trio set out to find Kermit and the rest of the gang for a benefit telethon.

The Muppets is probably the funniest movie I've seen in theaters this year. Every single character is funny in some way and it's great. '80's robot is one of the funniest characters I've seen in a long time. The cameo appearances throughout the film are really good. The musical numbers are fantastic. Chris Cooper's rap is hilarious and so is Jason Segal, Jim Parsons, and Walter's song "Man or Muppet". But the best is the chickens rendition of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You". It's pure comic genius.

The only thing I couldn't get out of my head watching the film was the similarity of the film to a little-seen 2002 film, The Country Bears. It has a completely identical plot but it makes the film no less enjoyable to watch.

The film is downright hilarious and everybody with kids or even if they don't have kids should see this movie. It's cute, funny, heartwarming, and the perfect family film. It's one of the year's best. It also comes with a downright hilarious Toy Story short, Small Fry. It tells of Buzz's mix up at a fast food restaurant as he meets a bunch of  thrown away Happy-Meal toys. It's very, very funny. That can be said for both the short and the movie.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A+                                           (10/10)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Puss in Boots review

Puss in Boots is the latest attempt by Dreamworks to recharge the Shrek franchise. This spin off will probably make enough money to get another Shrek-related film out of Dreamworks, but any new film will never be better than the first two films. Puss in Boots is a spin off of the character voiced by Antonio Banderas in the last three Shrek films. The film stars Puss as an outlaw in Spain. He learns of magic beans that two other outlaws, Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) have. The beans have the power to grow a huge tree that leads to land where a Golden Goose poops golden eggs. He intends to steal the beans and get the eggs. He later teams up with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifinakis) and Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) to steal the eggs and get rich.

The animation is dazzling and that is probably the biggest plus of the film. The scenery is great and along with Cars 2, wins my award for best of the year. It also has a lot of fun action scenes. Those are a ton of fun and another big plus.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more bad things about the film than there are good things. Firstly, the movie is not that funny. The Shrek films are typically noted for keeping away from more kiddie humor and having humor that adults can enjoy too. It's more bathroom humor and crotch shots that make you roll your eyes. Secondly, the film's plot is stupid and paper-thin. There were a lot better ways to tell this story but instead they went for a more fairy tale route. The film takes a good amount of time to develop the story between Puss and Humpty, but we learn barely anything about both Kitty Softpaws and Jack and Jill. Characters would also pop in at weird moments and you'll go "hey, where did she come from?!".

Puss in Boots is an enjoyable film to watch but if you're looking for good, quality animation similar to Kung Fu Panda 2 or How To Train Your Dragon, you won't find it here. Kids will surely love the film, but adults won't really enjoy it that much. It's more like the last Shrek than the first two.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C-                                           (5.2/10)

Friday, October 28, 2011

In Time review

In Time is the latest action thriller from director Andrew Niccol, who has done numerous sci-fi thrillers in the past. The story is set in the near future, the year 2025. People stop aging at 25, and must earn the rest of their life. The rich can live forever. Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is 28 (in real time). He lives in the ghetto, and works and lives day by day. Him and his mom (Olivia Wilde), live day-by-day to survive. He goes to the bar with his friend (Johnny Galecki) and meets Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a guy from the richest time zone. He is targeted by a gang led by Fortis (Alex Pettyfer), but Will gets him away just in time. Hamilton explains the system to Salas and then gives him all his time so that he can die. Will moves to the richest zone and meets Sylvia and Phillipe Weis (Amanda Seyfried and Vincent Kartheiser). When Timekeeper Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy) learns of Hamilton's death, he quickly targets Salas. Salas kidnaps Sylvia and tries to overthrow the system by essentially being Robin Hood and giving to the poor.

This movie has a lot of stars, but only a few shine. Timberlake and Seyfried are surprisingly flat for the lead actors. Their romance is forced and takes up time that could be used for better reasons. Olivia Wilde and Johnny Galecki are pretty big stars but the film cant find anything for them to do. The best performances come from Murphy, Pettyfer, and Kartheiser. The movie uses too much time to deal with the relationship to realize that the most dynamic characters have smaller roles. Basically, the film is flat with Timberlake and Seyfried but comes alive with Kartheiser and the villians.

The film has an excellent first act. But around the time Salas and Sylvia start running from Leon it starts to get boring. The film has too much romantic tension and could use a bit more action and drama. The film springs back to life in the third act with lots of action and good drama.

Excuse the time puns in the following paragraph. In Time is not a waste of time, its a pretty solid movie. But some poor execution in the middle makes for a movie that's worth seeing but not the intense cat and mouse thriller it should be.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                            (5.7/10)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Potter", "Super 8", "Apes" to hit Blu-Ray soon

Summer movie season is well over now and the holidays are just beginning. That means that some of the biggest summer blockbusters will be coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. With Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Green Lantern already on Blu-Ray, here is your schedule of remaining Blu-Ray releases.

October 25: Captain America: The First Avenger

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray combo Pack with an iTunes compatible digital copy, and 3D Blu-Ray combo pack

BEST VERSION: Unless you love 3D, get the Blu-Ray combo pack

October 25: Winnie the Pooh

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray+DVD, and Blu-Ray combo pack with an iTunes compatible digital copy

BEST VERSION: Unless you have no Windows or Apple devices, get the Blu-Ray combo pack

November 1: Cars 2

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray+DVD, and a Blu-Ray 3D combo pack with a iTunes digital copy

BEST VERSION: Unless you have to have it on your iPod or are in love with Blu-Ray, get the standard DVD

November 11: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray combo pack, Standard Blu-Ray and numerous exclusives including a Blu-Ray 3D combo pack at Best Buy and a special features loaded DVD at Wal-Mart

BEST VERSION: The digital copy on the combo pack is worthless if you an Apple device, but if you want special features, get the Wal-Mart special edition

November 15: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

VERSIONS: Standard DVD (other versions already released)

November 22: Super 8

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Standard Blu-Ray (only at Wal-Mart), Blu-Ray Combo Pack with iTunes compatible digital copy

BEST VERSION: With hours of bonus features and a digital copy, the Blu-Ray combo pack is the best for Super 8 fanatics (like me!)

December 6: Cowboys and Aliens

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray combo pack

BEST VERSION: The combo pack is probably the best buy.

December 13: Kung Fu Panda 2

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray combo pack with iTunes compatible digital copy and new bonus shorts

BEST VERSION: With two shorts and a digital copy that works with iTunes, the Blu-Ray combo pack is the best buy.

December 13: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

VERSIONS: Standard DVD, Blu-Ray combo pack with iTunes compatible digital copy


Those are most of the major releases. Others include The Smurfs on December 2, The Help on December 6, Crazy, Stupid, Love on November 1, The Hangover Part 2 on December 6, 30 Minutes or Less on November 15, and The Change-Up on November 8.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Real Steel review

Real Steel is the latest film from Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy. Levy has mostly done family comedies in the past, but with Real Steel he goes into more action-drama territory.

Real Steel stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed up boxer who is desperate for cash. Charlie was a world-class boxer, until the boxing game changed. Now robots do all the fighting. Charlie is high in debt and finds scrap metal to put robots together. When Charlie's ex-girlfriend dies, his son Max (Dakota Goyo) becomes his. He sells him away to his Aunt and Uncle, but is forced to take him for the summer. Charlie and Max go through the fighting world until the find a bot called Atom. Atom and Max quickly bond and Atom becomes a likable underdog.

Goyo is a great young actor and has a lot of great chemistry with Jackman. Jackman is perfect for his role. I can't say a lot of great things about the rest of the cast. Kevin Durand has great moments as Ricky but Evangeline Lilly and Anthony Mackie are useless as Bailey and Finn. Meanwhile Ogla Fonda and Karl Yune are good as main rival Zeus' trainers.

Steven Spielberg produced this movie and you can feel his touch on it. Instead of just focusing on the robot-on-robot carnage, he focuses on story and relationships. Max and Atom's bond together was fun to watch, and you could see Spielberg's effect on the film. While the film is mostly serious, it has its funny moments too.

My main complaint is that the movie was too long. It was over two hours long, but it could have been shorter. The robot action was good but it didn't blow me away. There were several scenes that could have been cut out.

The ending is great even though its predictable. It gives a fun, action climax to the film. Overall, I liked Real Steel but it didn't blow me away like some other films this summer.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                            (5.7/10)

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:

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

*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.


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.