Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Five Not-So-Great Trailers For Great Films

I love movie trailers. They can function as a way to get excited about a film you already know about, as a means to entice you into seeing something you previously had no knowledge about or even serve as singular works of art in their own right. But not every movie trailer can be a winner, even if they're promoting motion pictures of top caliber quality. Inspired by The AV Club's examination of what makes a good trailer, today I'll be examining five movie trailers that I find to be subpar, a sharp contrast to the excellent films they're supposed to be raising awareness for.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Intern Review

To say me and The Intern got off on the wrong foot is a gross understatement. For the first few minutes of this movie, I was pretty much certain I would despite this feature, mainly because the only thing the film was serving up in these early scenes were vapid jokes about the age disparity between the titular intern, Ben, played by Robert De Niro, and his far, far younger co-workers. The moment Ben told his 20-something interviewer he used to work for a phone book printing company, I knew just what the tired as hell punchline was and please Lord, get me out of this movie.

Hotel Transylvania 2 Scares Up Big Numbers, The Intern See's Lots Of Clients And Everest [Insert Mountain Pun Here]

For the first time in over 8 weeks, a new family movie entered the marketplace, and Hotel Transylvania 2 prospered in a landscape sorely lacking family films. This Genndy Tartakovsky film grossed $47,5 million over the weekend, about 15% above the opening weekend of the first film, as well as the second biggest opening weekend of Adam Sandler's career and the largest September opening weekend of all-time (not adjusted for inflation). Interestingly, four of the ten biggest September opening weekends now belong to features from Sony Pictures Animation.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Guardians Of The Galaxy Series Premiere Review

For the majority of comics brought to the big screen, there are a number of previous incarnations of characters like Spider-Man, Batman or the X-Men in the form of traditional comic books as well as television and even past film adaptations. These can provide inspiration on how to properly or improperly treat the character, as well as lend audiences a preconception of the characters they're about to watch in this new movie. For the Guardians of The Galaxy, though the term had existed in the Marvel universe since 1967, the team roster consisting of Star-Lord and Groot has only existed for seven years. Compared to the likes of Captain America, Superman or even Spawn, these Guardians were nobodies in the pop culture landscape.

Hotel Transylvania 2 Review

There are a few parts of Hotel Transylvania 2 to admire, but the structure of its plot is most certainly not one of those positive aspects of the feature. At first, the primary flaw to be found in how it dishes out is story is the rapid pace at which it goes through various plot developments (the marriage between vampire Mavis and human Johnny, then the reveal of Mavis being pregnant, giving birth and then flashing forward to when the offspring is a few years old) that honestly could have filled out further Hotel Transylvania chapters in their own right.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Smosh: The Movie Review

In this day and age, comedians/performers/singers on YouTube are finally breaking over into the pop culture mainstream. Figures on the website like Tyler Oakley have gotten book deals, James Corden and Jimmy Kimmel have featured YouTube celebrities on their late-night programs and now low-budget feature films are being made centered on certain YouTube stars. That final development is what brings us this motion picture entitled Smosh: The Movie, focusing on a comedy duo (comprising of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla) named Smosh. What does the name mean? Like whatever Bill Murray whispered into Scarlett Johansson's ear at the end of Lost In Translation, it remains a mystery.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Synecdoche, New York And The Futile Pursuit Of Control

There are some movies that, once they conclude, leave me with the inescapable feeling of euphoria over seeing something incredible. Others leave me with a stormy cloud hovering over my head, with certain films being so absolutely dreadful that the only proper response to such movies existing seems to be tracking down all existing Blu-Rays of the motion picture and smashing them to dust. And then there's a film like Synecdoche, New York, which, upon ending, left me more perplexed than anything else. I couldn't figure this one out; had I watched something transcendent or a noble misfire?

Film On The Television (9/24/2015): You're Next on Epix Hits

The history of cinema is littered with box office flops that didn't deserve such a dreary financial outcome. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Iron Giant, and a notable entry in that category is of course the 2013 horror film You're Next. It's a crime that the infinitely more cookie-cutter The Purge grossed so much that same summer while You're Next (which deals with a family being attacked by masked invaders) faltered, but whatever, that's in the past. What matters now is that Adam Wingard's excellently frightening feature exists, and hey, you can watch it tonight!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sony Pictures Animation Still Lacks A Concrete Presence Even After Nine Years

While the likes of PIXAR and Illumination Entertainment flourish, Sony Pictures Animation is a North American animation studio in search of that one gigantic hit that'll put them on the map, something like Frozen, Toy Story, Shrek, Despicable Me or even Ice Age that can signal to the world that they've arrived. Unfortunately, in their nine years of releasing feature films, there's only been sporadic box office success to greet the studio and only one of the companies works have entered the pop culture zeitgeist in a meaningful way.

YAHOOO! The First Trailer For The Angry Birds Movie Has Flung Onto The Web!

As weird as this may sound, I kind of get why an Angry Birds movie exists. I'm not saying it's guaranteed to be a masterpiece destined to be hailed as a cinematic masterpiece on par with the works of Jean-Luc Godard, but the franchise has already invaded the realm of animated shorts, so is a feature length film really all that implausible on a conceptual level? Plus, at least this one is aiming to be a family comedy, and not trying to be a dark gritty take on the mobile game fowl. If you're curious how an Angry Birds movie would look, well, the first trailer for it has dropped, and you can watch it below.

Learning To Drive Review

One of the most important lessons that Wendy (Patricia Clarkson) learns from her driving instructor Darwan (Ben Kingsley) is that, in order to do your best driving, one must clear their mind. She cannot be distracted by her recent divorce from long-time husband Ted (Jake Weber) and the numerous fall out effects from that event. That's easier said than done of course, but Darwan has plenty of patience when it comes to being a teacher, so Wendy may just get her license after all when all is said and done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Big Short Trailer Has Big Name Actors And Stock Market Advice To Spare

Paramount just added another motion picture to a crowded Christmas Day release schedule today by announcing that Adam McKay's The Big Short will be released on December 11 in limited release and on December 23 in wide release. It's no shocker for weirdos like myself who obsess over movie release dates, considering Paramount is always doing these sort of last minute announcements regarding the crucial Christmastime frame (who else remembers their public indecisiveness over whether to release The Wolf Of Wall Street or Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit over Christmas 2013 two years back?), and to commemorate the films new release date, the studio has released a trailer for the drama that you can watch below!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Black Mass Review

Johnny Depp has always had a knack for making the outsiders accessible, for twisting the unconventional into the lovable. While his unorthodox protagonist shtick became tired by the time his racially discomforting turn as Tonto came around, characters like Jack Sparrow and Rango were entities that provided immense amounts of humor and enjoyment. What's really surprising in his turn as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass is how much it rails against those sort of characters Depp has played in the past; Bulger is idiosyncratic, no question, but he ain't lovable. He's not even a tragic character who becomes heinous during the story like Sweeney Todd.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Scorch Trials Burns Bright At Box Office, Black Mass Scores While Everest And Sicario Have Massive Limited Release Debuts

Summer may be over, but the sizzling heat of the Scorch was all audiences wanted this weekend, as Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials grossed $30.3 million over the weekend, a 6% dip from the opening weekend of the first movie, but still a decent sum, even if this one's price tag (a $61 million budget versus the first ones $34 million budget) means it won't be anywhere near as profitable as its predecessor. It's also unlikely to hold as well, due to forthcoming movies like The Martian providing much harsher competition for Thomas and his post-apocalyptic chums. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review

Even after watching both of these Maze Runner movies, I still have no idea who the main character of both features, Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), is. Is he a cunning fellow? Is he smart? Is he funny? Charismatic? Cocky? There's nothing here in terms of concrete personality traits, he just lumbers around and leads his ragtag group of 20-something comrades across various generic adventures. There's very little in the way of him connecting on an emotional level to his "friends", and while the very first scene of The Scorch Trials attempts to establish a "tragic" backstory to Thomas (he's separated from his mother as a kid), it never figures back into the films story.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Film On The Television (9/18/2015): John Wick on HBO2

Stinging from the epic failure of 47 Ronin, Keanu Reeves needed a comeback and fast. Luckily, he got one in John Wick, a fast-paced, excellently filmed and light on its feet action film that was one of last years most enjoyable surprises. Mixing a bombastic approach to everything from the action to even the subtitles with the emotional connection between the titular characters deceased wife and a beagle puppy and you've got yourself one helluva potent combo.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

You Want Trailers? We Got Trailers! Check Out The New Trailers For New Films From, Among Other Directors, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard And Danny Boyle

There's tons and tons of new movies coming out over the next few months, a welcome reprieve from the past few weeks where new cinematic offerings were slim pickings. Four of the new movies coming out over the next three months, as well as one feature set for release in the Spring, have released new trailers, so I've decided to condense all of them into one post. Below, you can see the trailers for five forthcoming major features as well as my brief thoughts on them.

Everest Review

From the studio that brought you The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything and Legal Eagles, comes Everest, a harrowing tale of human courage and determination. A group of mountain climbers, led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) begin an expedition to climb to the top of Mt. Everest, a task that proves to be one not for the faint of heart. However, their daunting undertaking proves to be even more challenging once an enormous storm arrives, leaving many of the climbers stranded and fighting for life trying to get down the mountain.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Visit Review

Recent directorial efforts from M. Night Shyamalan have stirred up enough fury that they might as well be a road that Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron drive down. Truth be told, the negative reception for such features has been much deserved; After Earth and The Last Airbender are astounding examples of what happens when a motion picture ceases to merely be a film and transforms into an exercise into discovering how abysmal one film can become. Interestingly, aside from the 2008 feature The Happening, Shyamalan has mainly avoided the realm of horror and thrillers that gave him a career in the first place, instead channeling his creativity into the world of sci-fi and fantasy.

The First Trailer For The New Jungle Book Movie Has Arrived!

The Jungle Book is one of my favorite films of all-time, full stop. It's a magnificent showcase for the incredible hand-drawn animation Disney was capable of in its heyday (every one of the minor mannerisms of Shere Kahn are amazing and even subtle moment like Kaa shrugging shows an immensely inventive spirit), as well as some insanely lovable characters like Baloo and Bagheera. The best part? This isn't all bad on childhood nostalgia; rewatching it last year, I discovered that not only did the motion picture hold up, but there were more subtle elements of it that stood out to me as an adult viewer that only enhanced my enormous appreciation for this 1967 film.

Film On The Television (9/15/2015): The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty on HBO

20th Century Fox released The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty on Christmas Day 2013, hoping to receive awards buzz and the sort of enormous box office to the studios previous Ben Stiller Christmas Day family movie, Night At The Museum. Mixed reviews turned off any potential awards potential, while a little film called Frozen monopolized the family movie-going audience until February 2014. Since then, it's been pretty much forgotten, which is a pity in my book considering how much I enjoyed The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Look At The Deleted Scenes Of Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Allow me to be blunt here; someone uploaded all the deleted scenes from Avengers: Age of Ultron straight from the Digital HD release (that's a fancy word for saying the iTunes or Google Play version) onto YouTube. I watched the video, which has somehow stuck around for four days, but I won't upload it here in this editorial where I'm discussing these sequences. I'll describe the scenes, but frankly, I already feel uncomfortable enough giving such illicit content this kind of promotion by discussing it. The least I can do is not upload the video itself and give it further views. I urge you to skip viewing it and just settle for my descriptions of the scenes in the video.

The Perfect Guy Has A Dreamy Opening Weekend While The Visit Becomes A Horror Movie Hit

After weeks of listless box office, finally some much needed life got injected into the proceedings this weekend, as two new titles overperformed and became the sort of sleeper hits the box office has been lacking lately.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Perfect Guy Review

Complacency is a primary driving factor for The Perfect Guy, moreso than the urge to create thrills or a suspenseful atmosphere. It muddles through its plot in a rigid manner that never allows for twists, surprises or any sort of uncertainty. Instead, every single aspect of the plot flies by in a by-the-numbers method that fails to be out-and-out deficient, but also stumbles at creating a thoroughly absorbing slice of edge-of-your-seat cinema.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fan-Casting The Sinister Six

One aspect of the Spider-Man movies that surprises me is how, even though we've had five films centered around the web-crawler, there's so many parts of the characters mythology we have yet to see in cinematic form. Black Cat, Sinister Six, Kraven The Hunter, Vulture, Mysterio....so many creations from the comics have yet to see the light of a film projector. Part of the blame for these characters staying on the wayside can be attributed  how The Amazing Spider-Man retread an enormous amount of storytelling ground from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, meaning time that could have been spent setting up new characters like The Chameleon and Silver Sable was spent going over the whole Uncle Ben fiasco again.

Welcome To Me Review

Ideally, the career path for Saturday Night Live cast members once they leave that TV show is to become a major comedic movie star, which is just what the likes of Adam Sandler, Bill Murray, Will Ferrell and Eddie Murphy managed to do. Other have gone onto more unorthodox projects, which is what Kristen Wiig has chosen to do as an actor now that she no longer has be a part of Saturday Night Live. After starring in the 2011 hit Bridesmaid, Wiig has opted for more low-key dramatic opportunities, and considering the top-caliber work she's delivered in the likes of The Skeleton Twins and The Diary Of A Teenage Girl, it was a smart move for both her and moviegoers everywhere.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Trailer For Our Brand Is Crisis Has Sandra Bullock Facing A....Well, Crisis, I Guess

After a dynamite 2013, a year where she headlining two $150+ million grossing movies and got another Oscar nomination for her leading turn in Gravity, Sandra Bullock has remained off the radar, sans providing the voice of Scarlet Overkill in Minions. Well folks, the star of one of the worst Best Picture nominees of all-time (yes, I'm talking about The Blind Side) has returned, this time starring in the motion picture Our Brand Is Crisis, which just released a trailer that you can watch below.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Newest LEGO Star Wars TV Special Focuses On Two Parts Of The Franchises Mythology To Varying Degrees Of Quality

Ever since July 2011 rolled around, the world of Star Wars has been brought to life in the form of LEGO bricks via computer animated TV specials that have a comedic tone that poke fun at the various films and TV shows Star Wars has produced over the past 38 years. Considering how parodying Star Wars is almost as much of a pop culture mainstay as Star Wars itself, it's not shocking that these TV specials take the tongue-in-cheek comedy of the LEGO Star Wars video games and transport it to the land of television.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl Review

Minnie (Bel Powley) is such a unique and captivating protagonist, I feel like celebrating her nuanced personality, a triumph of top-caliber writing, with some sort of parade. She's 15, enthralled by everything related to sex and carries with her pervasive feelings of insecurity and a delightfully bold personality. She's the kind of person convinced she's fat and then proudly declaring in a letter to a man that's insulted her that some people enjoy, nay, adore larger women, thank you very much.

War Room Leads The Final Weekend Of The Summer As Transporter Reboot Fails To Load

These late August/early September doldrums are typically some of the worst box office weekends of the year. With no major films like Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron or Jurassic World in sight, this is usually where a number of the years weakest box office performers can be found. I'm sure if an appealing movie was released in this timeframe it would still do just fine, but few, if any, of the new wide release have generated any sort of buzz.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Wicker Man Review (Classic Write-Up)

Allow me to say it once again; Nicolas Cage is a great actor. Films like Adaptation demonstrate the sort of acting accomplishments the man can achieve, making his transition into the laughingstock of the internet in recent years sort of befuddling. Yes, he's been popping up in a number of low-quality films since 2010, but really, it feels weird to boil down the entirety of Nicolas Cages career down to just some memes of him yelling "HOW'D IT GET BURNED???" That line of dialogue comes courtesy of The Wicker Man, a film released over Labor Day weekend nine years ago and one which provides....well, let's call it an interesting experience for now, shall we?

Film On The Television (9/4-9/6/2015): The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle

Many of the films chosen for this column are great pieces of cinema that need to be experienced if you haven't already partaken in them. This is not one of those films. The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle is a bizarre turn of the century oddity, full of Muppet Movie style cameos and a turn by Robert De Niro  that was harbinger of terrible films and performances to come. Its devotion to not "updating" the titular characters in any notable way (though the internet as it existed in 2000 does factor heavily into the plot) might be admirable if the film itself was actually entertaining.

However, if you're an animation buff like me, the motion picture is worth a cursory viewing, at least for the purpose of seeing the most prominent modern day usage of these two characters (Rocky & Bullwinkle did appear last year in both a GEICO commercial and a short film that debuted on the home video release of Mr. Peabody & Sherman). Plus, the movie itself is nowhere near the abysmal level of the modern day Alvin & The Chipmunks and Smurfs movies and it is always a treat to hear legendary voice June Foray.

Like I said, this ones really nothing more than curiosity viewing at best, but I'll freely admit watching Robert De Niro in a monocle intimidate a cartoon squirrel is at least an experience that's....memorable?

The Adventures of Rocky And Bullwinkle airs at 4:25 PM central time on HBO Family.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DreamWorks SKG To Leave Disney And Finally Reunite With Universal?

One of my all-time favorite books centering around Hollywood is The Men Who Would Be King by Nicole LaPorte, a fascinating look at the highs and lows of DreamWorks SKG, a movie studio created by David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg in 1994. The saga of that studio looks to be continuing today, as The Hollywood Reporter notes that DreamWorks is likely looking to bail on their current distribution deal with Disney and go over to Universal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

War Room Review

Let's start off this review with something legitimately positive; Alex Kendrick and his production company can take serious pride in getting a movie with a non-white lead made before far more high profile studios like PIXAR or Marvel Studios. That's impressive to see, especially given how many Christian movies relegate non-white characters to being side characters/stereotypes at best. Unfortunately, a diverse cast is pretty much the most positive aspect of War Room I can bring up, as the rest of the feature isn't so much bad (especially on the order of 2014s abysmal God's Not Dead) as it is just plain o'l forgettable.

Eddie Redmayne Discovers Herself In First Trailer For The Danish Girl

The Theory of Everything was the sort of conventional "Oscar-bait" claptrap that always pops up at movie theaters once the weather turns colder, but I'll say this; Eddie Redmayne was damn good in it. This guy has serious talent and it came through in his performance. That talent looks to be taking him to new places cinematically, as he'll be taking on projects like headlining the Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them trilogy in the future, but this year does bring a new Redmayne project, The Danish Girl, which has just debuted a trailer that you can watch below.