Monday, February 29, 2016

Four Ways To Fine-Tune the James Bond Franchise

Let me start this essay out by saying upfront, no, I don't think the James Bond franchise is "doomed" or "busted" or any phrase like that. Financially, the series is doing just fine, and while Spectre was a sloppy mess of a film, it wasn't a Batman & Robin level disaster that capsized an entire saga. Long-term franchises like Star Trek, Star Wars, Batman and, of course, the granddaddy of all summer blockbuster franchises, 007 himself, have high points and low points. When you're around for that long, it's just the law of averages that you'll miss a film every so often. For every excellent Skyfall, there's bound to be a film like Spectre waiting in the wings.

I Love You, Phillip Morris Review (Classic Write-Up)

At the tail end of the first decade of the 21st century, Jim Carrey found himself in a state of cinematic experimentation. The 2005 feature Fun With Dick And Jane would turn out to be one of only three PG-13 comedies the actor would star in in the next decade, a shocking development considering how that exact type of movie had been his bread and butter in box office juggernauts like The Mask, Dumb And Dumber and Bruce Almighty. In the years since that Dean Parisot vehicle, he's participated in familiar territory like family movies, but has mainly stayed on the sidelines to participate in supporting roles in box office non-starters like Kick-Ass 2 and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Deadpool Is King Of The Box Office Once Again As Gods Of Egypt And Triple 9 Bomb

The folks over at 20th Century Fox must be really happy right about now considering that the number one movies in America for the past six weeks have all belonged to them. The Revenant, Kung Fu Panda 3 and now Deadpool, which is going through its third week at the top of the box office with a terrific $31.5 million sum this go-around, a 43% decline from last weekend. Deadpool has now taken in $285 million domestically, and will become the first movie of 2016 to gross $300 million (and the first non-Star Wars movie to cross that mark since Minions) likely by this Friday.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Gods Of Egypt Review

I'm fairly confident that, in the future, Gods Of Egypt will be utilized as the prime representation of what happens when an overwhelming amount of CGI (and surprisingly shoddy computer generated effects at that) is used as a substitute for an actual story or compelling characters. The only caveat I bring to such a prediction is that Gods Of Egypt is so relentlessly dull that it might just vanish from the public consensus in a matter of weeks altogether. That would also be an appropriate fate for this motion picture, which (if you can't tell by my subtle clues in the past few sentences), I just didn't care for one bit.

The Village Review (Classic Write-Up)


If the life of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan were ever adapted into a cheesy documentary, the point in his career when The Village was released would be when the music would get tense and the narrator would intone "And that's when things (dramatic pause) went wrong.". Prior to the release of this movie, Shyamalan had three back-to-back-to-back critical hits and two of those films became box office phenomenon's. It seemed as if the guy could no wrong...until this 2004 feature came along and tossed the director into a decade-long artistic downturn that finally got reversed with last fall's sleeper hit The Visit.

Final 2015 Oscar Predictions (Part Two)

And now, part two of my examination of who will win what in this year's Oscar ceremony.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Final 2015 Oscars Winners Predictions (Part One)

Wow, so, there are only three days until the 88th Academy Awards. For some reason, this entire ceremony just vanished from my radar, but don't you worry, I'm here to deliver some predictions for who's gonna win at the show this Sunday. Just as a heads up, I won't be covering every single category here simply for the sake of brevity.

Let's not waste any time and starts things off with...

Best Adapted Screenplay
This one looks like an easy win for The Big Short, which has gained a surprising amount of momentum in recent weeks as an Oscar heavyweight, though don't count out either Drew Goddard for The Martian and Emma Donoghue for Room. Either one of those two candidates could easily slip into a dark horse victory.

Winner: The Big Short (Adam McKay, Charles Randolph)

Best Original Screenplay
Another Best Picture frontrunner, Spotlight, should take home the gold in this other screenplay category, though this one feels a bit more competitive than its Adapted Screenplay counterpart. I'm not gonna be shocked in the least if either Inside Out or Straight Outta Compton eke out a win here instead of Tom McCarthy's Best Picture nominee.

Winner: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer)

Best Documentary Feature
There are a number of major contenders here, namely the rave-reviewed motion picture The Look Of Silence, though my gut tells me that Amy is gonna be the one who finds a win here, securing indie film studio A24 its first Oscar winner, and the smae honor goes to director Asif Kapadia.

Winner: Amy (Asif Kapadia, James Gay-Rees)

Best Animated Feature
Some unexpected nominees can be found in thsi category (namely, When Marnie Was There and Boy & The World) that certainly took many by surprise. However, few will be shocked by which movie ends up winning this award this's obviously Inside Out's for the taking.

Winner: Inside Out (Pete Doctor, Jonas Rivera)

Best Animated Short Film
Here's the first category to crop up in this piece whose winner feels turly up in the air. Typically, it feels like the Oscar voters don't really watch the Animated Short selections and just select whatever short Disney or PIXAR have made that year (because, hey, I recognize that studio!). That doesn't always happen (the 2011 and 2012 ceremonies both snubbed the PIXAR contenders) but two of the last three years have brought out winners from the Disney-owned animation houses, and this year brings Sanjay's Super Team from PIXAR which feels like it could be an easy winner. That being said, Don Hertzfeldt (whose been nominated here before) may take home his first Oscar for World of Tomorrow, which has cultivated a massive amount of buzz. I'm gonna say Hertzfeldt wins this one, though don't be shocked if the PIXAR entry from this year manages to score a victory instead.

Winner: World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)
Best Supporting Actress
Prior to 2015, Alicia Vikander had only two films under her belt that had received a wide release in the United States of America. Now, she starred in one of the most talked about films of the year (Ex Machina) and is all but certain to win her first Oscar for The Danish Girl. While Kate Winslet garnered a shocker Golden Globe win in this category a month ago for Steve Jobs, that victory hasn't occurred again since then, and the other nominees (Rooney Mara for Carol, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight and Rachel McAdams for Spotlight) don 't seem to have enough of a traction to gain up on Vikander.

Winner: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Supporting Actor
Interestingly, out of the five nominees, it appears the only nominee not also up for Best Picture is also all but assured to take home Best Supporting Actor. Against Mark Rylance (for Bridge of Spies), Christian Bale (for The Big Short), Tom Hardy (for The Revenant) and Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Sylvester Stallone in Creed will be the winner here, giving Stallone his first Oscar ever. Could anyone pose a threat here? Maybe Hardy if The Revenant really picks up steam, and fellow Best Picture frontrunner The Big Short might have its reputation lift Bale up to a surprise Oscar win.

Winner: Sylvester Stallone (Creed) 

Come back tomorrow for my final batch of Oscar predictions, including who I think will win Best Picture!

Finn Jones Is Playing Iron Fist In The Marvel Cinematic Universe!

There are four Marvel superheroes set to get individual TV shows on Netflix before teaming up for a miniseries entitled The Defenders that'll air on the same network. Three of those (Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage) have already been cast for a while now, and the fourth, Iron Fist, after months upon months of speculation, just got cast. Ladies and gentleman, meet Finn Jones, the man who'll be playing the first ever live-action incarnation of the superhero Iron Fist.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Motion Picture Starring Batman And Superman To Receive An R Rating

Last night, word broke out across the interwebs that Zack Snyder's forthcoming motion picture, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, would receive an R-rated cut on its Blu-Ray release. This wasn't an unprecedented move, considering that the Warner Bros. blockbuster, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, had received an R-rated cut on home video. It's also worth noting that past Zack Snyder features like Watchmen, Dawn of The Dead and Sucker Punch have all received extended cuts on DVD/Blu-Ray. So, is this the most unexpected development of all-time? No. And it's also one that likely pre-dated the success of R-rated superhero movie Deadpool too, given the aforementioned Hobbit feature receiving an R-rated version this past November.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Even Scarier Than Any VVitch Is The Disruptive Audience I Saw The Movie With


I had heard the horror stories about other viewers who had gone into screenings of The VVitch this weekend and were shocked to discover the film was being greeted with notable laughter by the other attendees at the showing. Despite my fervent hope that such a situation would not occur at my screening of the motion picture, yeah, my viewing of The VVitch was punctured by notable responses from audiences who decided to make their disdain for what they were seeing pretty damn blatant via the art of cackling and laughing in a disruptive manner in uber serious moments. Hell, two individuals seated directly behind me couldn't stop remarking how "this movie is soooooo boring!".

Monday, February 22, 2016

The VVitch Review

Wow, February 2016 sure has delivered some good movies, huh? Last weekend delivered the more fun than expected Deadpool, while the week prior brought out the Coen Brothers newest successful feature film Hail, Caesar! Considering February in years past has been the birthplace for classics like The LEGO Movie and The Silence Of The Lambs, perhaps it should come as no surprise to see some surprisingly solid releases emerging from this time of the year, but amidst a sea of films like Zoolander 2 and The Choice, one can appreciate that we've managed to get something as great this month as Hail, Caesar! all the more.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Silence Of The Lambs Review (Classic Write-Up)

25 years after its release, Hannibal Lector has become a James Bond-like figure in pop culture thanks to how a number of actors have put their own spin on the character. Before Anthony Hopkins played the cannibalistic intellectual in this 1991 feature film and its two subsequent follow-ups, Brian Cox took the reins of Hannibal in the Michael Mann feature Manhunter, while the 21st century would deliver takes on the Thomas Harris created character by actors Gaspard Ulliel and Mads Mikkelsen.

Friday, February 19, 2016

On The Screen And On The Spectrum: Jim Parsons As Sheldon Cooper In The Big Bang Theory

On The Screen And On The Spectrum is a recurring feature where I examine pop culture depictions of individuals with Autism, Asperger's or other developmental disabilities similar to Autism.

I was talking to a good friend of mine, who happens to be both on the Autistic spectrum and a major fan of pop culture too, on Facebook, and this chum of mine brought up a great point about the majority of on-screen depictions of people on the Autistic spectrum; many Autistic individuals in film and television are blissfully unaware that they even have Autism or exhibit Autistic tendencies. Such personalities are usually too wrapped up in singular interests to find time to pay much mind to the environment and people around them. While there are plenty of figures in the real world on the Autistic spectrum who are like that, me and my friend were wistful in hoping there'd be more Autistic people in films/TV like us who were acutely aware of their condition and the difficulties stemming from Autism they were grappling with.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Jessica Chastain Continues To Be Awesome, Launches Production Company With An Emphasis on Female Filmmakers

They said it couldn't be done.
They said it was impossible.

Could an actor who has managed to ace it in roles ranging from playing a French leopard, an astronaut and the person behind the killing of Osama Bin Laden possibly get any more awesome?

Today, the answer to such an eon old inquiry has been answered, as two-time Academy Award nominated actor Jessica Chastain has announced she'll be starting up a production company called Freckle Films, which will have a first look deal with Maven Pictures, which has produced Girl Most Likely, Black Nativity and the upcoming Andrea Arnold motion picture American Honey.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"A Good Actor Is A Terrible Thing To Waste": 6 Perfectly Cast Actors Wasted In Subpar Superhero Movies

Ryan Reynolds may not have been all that memorable in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this past weekend's box office juggernaut Deadpool proves that was no fault of his. Nope, sometimes really talented actors get stuck in garbage movies, and today, I'll be examining six actors perfectly cast for notable comic book characters in movies that ended up being....well, let's just say less than perfect.

First up, an actor from another failed Ryan Reynolds superhero movie...

Zoolander 2 Review

Let's say you're making a comedy film, but not just any sort of cinematic yukfest, no no no. You've got a cast at your ready disposal containing legendary comedians like Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell. Oh, and it's a continuation of Zoolander, one exceptionally funny motion picture. With all of those humorous tools in your arsenal, you'd think the results of such a collaboration would result in something even ever so slightly funny. But no. All we get are endless jokes about how fat the son of Zoolander is. That's the level of creativity Zoolander 2 populates, the area where fat jokes are considered the height of innovation and novelty.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Thing Review (Classic Write-Up)

Boy, 1982 sure was a helluva year for sci-fi movies, huh? And such a variety of sci-fi storytelling too! From the family-friendly emotionally involving tale of E.T. to Ridley Scott bringing Blade Runner to life to Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn to Tron, there was seemingly no end to notable sci-fi titles that year. One other uber important sci-fi feature to arrive that year (released the same weekend as Blade Runner, in fact) was the John Carpenter motion picture The Thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Deadpool Chows Down On Box Office Records Like They're Chimichangas In Record Breaking Opening Weekend

Prior to this weekend. everyone was fairly certain Deadpool would do large numbers at the box office, thanks to the lack of blockbusters in the marketplace and its incredible marketing campaign. But nobody saw it doing this kind of gargantuan record busting business, especially for a character who was previously seen as just a cult item. Now, Deadpool can officially call himself one of the biggest cinematic superheroes of all-time, and is demonstrating that certain R-rated films can make big bucks at the box office.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Deadpool Review

So, full cards on the table time...I've never been a big fan of Deadpool. I don't "hate" the character, but he's always struck me as just another individual in the same vein as Venom or Shadow The Hedgehog, a "too kewl for school bro" character that ends up being more grating than anything else. So while the marketing campaign for Deadpool's first solo movie has been non-stop brilliance, I freely admit to being ambivalent that this character was gonna work in a solo movie.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Serious Man Review (Classic Write-Up)

In many of the films by The Coen Brothers, religion may play a role as one of many themes bouncing around in a certain plotline (such as in works like Hail, Caesar!, O Brother, Where Are Thou? or No Country For Old Men), but for their 2009 feature A Serious Man, religion comes forth as a primary player in the entire endeavor. Specifically, Judaism, the faith the directorial duo were raised in and the one in which our lead character, plays  a crucial role in the ballad of Larry Gopnick (Michael Stuhlbarg), who confides in the religion for answers in his time of immense personal turmoil.

The Final Batman v. Superman Trailer Brings Brawny Batman Busting Bones. Plus, Wonder Woman Speaks!

It's been ten long months since the first Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was unleashed onto the public. That's keeping in tune with (skipping over Jonah Hex, the two Red movies, Green Lantern and Watchmen) the marketing campaigns for the last three DC Comics features, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Both of those movies had year long marketing campaigns that stretched onto eternity. However, Batman v. Superman had, well, it's had to tackle a bit more negative buzz in its trailers than those three titles. For every trailer (the Comic-Con promo) that goes over well, another piece of the marketing puzzle (the April 2015 teaser trailer and the spoiler heavy December 2015 trailer) just falls flat.

Even Aside From The Crappy Version Of Deadpool, The First Solo Wolverine Movie Is Just No Good

When you're doing a Wolverine prequel centered on the character gaining his powers, you're stuck with the inevitable problem of the protagonist having to lose his memory that the film ever happened before the credits roll. After all, it's been previously established in these past three X-Men movies that Wolverine only has a smattering of recollections regarding where he got his adamantium laced claws, Thus, there's a good chance the entire offering may feel like a pointless venture since it'll end up having a minimal effect on our protagonist.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Johnny Depp Set To Play The Invisible Man In The Revamped Universal Monsters Universe!

One of the most interesting forthcoming franchises in Hollywood has to be the revamped version of the classic Universal Monster Universe. Back in the 30's, Universal beat Marvel Studios to the punch by decades by having various scary figures like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolfman rub shoulders. This isn't the first time these individuals have received the remake treatment (The Mummy got a trilogy of Brendan Fraser led remakes while The Wolfman was bestowed a super expensive update in 2010), but this is the first time someones trying to replicate the shared universe aspect of these old features.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

X-Men Is Far Far From Perfect, But It Forever Changed the Superhero Movie Game

This Friday brings a project to the big screen few thought would ever truly exist...a live-action Deadpool movie. The eighth feature film in the live-action X-Men feature film series in 16 years, it's one of a number of project Fox has in the pipeline for this universe of mutants, most of which are movies (X-Men: Apocalypse of course arrives in May, and next year will bring the final solo Hugh Jackman as Wolverine movie and will likely unleash a solo Gambit film unto the Earth) and a few of which are TV shows (such as the Dan Stevens FX program Legion). With all of these mutant projects on the horizon, it's easy to forget this whole shindig started with one little 2000 feature film called (what else?) X-Men.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Movie Ads Round-Up!

The snacks are eaten. The Bronco's won it all. And boy howdy were there a bunch of ads for movies. Some were awesome blossoms, while others were more lacking in their blossoming awesomeness. Let's examine them all, shall we?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Choice Review

It's almost weird how pleasantly diverting The Choice is in its very very few best scenes. The film never really becomes good (at its best, it rises to the level of "average") but its never painful to watch, and there's some legitimately talented actors putting in solid work in service of a screenplay that chows down on story cliches like there's no tomorrow. For all the pearls of good o'l southern wisdom its characters drop all the time, it wouldn't have hurt to take a cue from some axiom that praised the virtues of originality.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Snakes On A Plane Review (Classic Write-Up)

The fervor surrounding Snakes On A Planes upon its initial theatrical release is, in hindsight, kind of extraordinary. All of the social platforms we use in frequent capacity today were either nonexistent or still in their infancy (keep in mind, when Snakes On A Plane came out in August 2006, Twitter was only a month old and Tumblr was six months away from existing at all), yet, this film spread like wildfire across the web. It wasn't the first feature film to garner the intense interest of the denizens of the interwebs, but its memorably outrageous title made it a kid of online phenomenon like few other films at the time.

The 400 Blows Review (Classic Write-Up)

One of the best parts about watching films like Breathless for the first time is getting the chance to dive deeper into an era of cinema dubbed by academics as the French New Wave. This span of time created numerous films that left a lasting impacting on the world of film as we know it, including popularizing and solidifying the concept of the auteur theory. This idea was given massive support from director Francois Truffaut, whose 1959 feature film, The 400 Blows, was not only one of the most famous movies of the French New Wave, but also the subject of the very review you're reading at this moment.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

On The Screen And On The Spectrum: Christian Bale As Michael Burry In The Big Short

On The Screen And On The Spectrum is a recurring feature where I examine pop culture depictions of individuals with Autism, Asperger's or other developmental disabilities similar to Autism.

I mentioned in my original review of The Big Short that the portrayal of the character Michael Burry was one of the bets on-screen depictions of Asperger's Syndrome I'd ever seen on-screen. It may sound like hyperbole, but I totally stand by that statement. Not only is it a strong turn in its own right, but in the grand scheme of performances of people with Asperger's, it's one of the few to realize that individual on the Autistic spectrum are, y'know, actual human beings.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fast & Furious Brings The Cavalry By Announcing Release Dates For Two More Sequels

Here's a shocker no one saw coming; after the most recent entry in the Fast & Furious franchise (Furious 7, released this past April) became one of the biggest films of all-time, Universal is expressing some interest in continuing the saga. An eighth feature (tentatively titled Fast 8) is already slated for an April 14, 2017 release, but late last night, the Fast & Furious Facebook page announced release dates for two additional sequels, taking the amount of Fast & Furious we'll see in our lifetimes to at least 10.

Hail, Caesar! Review

When ya get down to brass tacks, Hail, Caesar! essentially works as a Coen Brothers directed fan film dedicated to waxing poetic about the various virtues of the assorted genres that were most popular among moviegoers in that era. Does that sound like a complaint? Well, rest assured, it is most certainly not; in fact, the clear devotion the Coen Brothers have for this time period becomes most infectious, while there's also more methodical material (primarily revolving around our lead character) intercut in between their various homages to the films of the past to balance things out a bit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Casablanca Review (Classic Write-Up)

An interesting thought occurred to me as I started to watch Casablanca for the first time; I had no idea what this classic motion picture was actually about. Oh, I'd obviously heard of Casablanca, as well as the large amount of quotes from the film seared into pop culture eternally ("Here's looking at you, kid", "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow..."., etc.), but as for the actual plot of the film? For some reason that evaded me until this very special viewing.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 Review

Perhaps few franchises have managed to be as surprising in their overall quality as the Kung Fu Panda saga, with the first film being a tonal departure for DreamWorks Animation, going for a more restrained tone (no pop culture references to be found here) and carrying a screenplay far more reliant on characterization than past features from the studio like Bee Movie and Shark Tale. Thanks to its massive box office, a sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, occurred, and it too bucked convention by being far more than cashgrab sequel. Going darker in its story (the entire premise of this follow-up hinges on panda genocide) allowed for the character of Po (Jack Black) to not just retread his arc from the first film but rather grow in new areas (namely, in overcoming his traumatic past).

25 Best Films Of 2015 (I-T, Best Movie Of The Year): Part Two

And now, the remaining 14 films in examination of my 25 Best Films Of 2015. 13 of these 14 films are looked at in alphabetical order, while the final feature discussed here is my ultimate favorite feature of 2015.

And now, onto part two!

Kung Fu Panda 3 Wins The Box Office While The Finest Hours And Fifty Shades Of Black Are Yellowbelts

For the first in the franchises eight year history, a Kung Fu Panda film debuted outside of the summertime season, instead opting for a late January approach giving it the chance to flourish at the Chinese box office during Chinese New Year. Meanwhile, here in North America, this debut allowed it the chance to open in a far less competitive environment than the summer months. Over this unique weekend, Kung Fu Panda 3 scrounged up $41 million, an OK opening that's well below its predecessors, with the first one gobbling up $60.2 million in its opening weekend while the second one, after opening on a Thursday, took in $47.6 million.