Monthly Archives: May 2012

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Banners Wow While ‘Breaking Dawn – Part 2’ Recycles Old Images

In need of a good laugh? Go back and watch that Gary Busey blooper reel, then maybe watch this new “The Making of Piranha 3DD” from Funny or Die. It’s not that the gag isn’t funny; it just isn’t as funny as Busey making a fool of himself. Also offering up an amusing show is this set tour for Moonrise Kingdom. Technically it’s Bill Murray himself giving you the tour, but it definitely feels like he’s still in character to a degree and the construction of the video basically mimics the tone and comedy of the full feature.

Then, of course, we’ve got the first trailer for The Great Gatsby. What does it say about my education that I never came across a class that required me to read the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel? Anyway, whether you’re into the source material or not, there’s no denying that Baz Luhrmann has a visually magnificent piece of work here. On the other hand, while the action still looks cool in the new red band trailer for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the film’s promotional campaign has yet to deliver any material that suggests the story’s got depth and the power to make an honest connection.

Speaking of making a connection, while Snow White and the Huntsman makes an honorable attempt at stepping outside the box by trying to make watching a trailer an interactive experience, watching a trailer isn’t really meant to be an element of multitasking.

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Review: Chernobyl Diaries

Thanks to the Paranormal Activity franchise and Insidious, with Oren Peli’s name, comes high expectations. Bumps in the night, innovative concepts, fun scares and perhaps more importantly than anything, situations that feel real are all elements that are now expected from a Peli film and while each and every one is present and accounted for in Chernobyl Diaries, they’re all achieved on a subpar level.

While on an overseas trip, Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley) and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) make a pit stop in Russia to visit Chris’ brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski). They enjoy a night out on the town and the next day, their itinerary has them hitting Moscow. However, Paul makes a new friend, Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), and convinces the group to take Uri’s extreme tourism trip to Pripyat, the city which once housed the Chernobyl nuclear reactor employees and their families. At first they’re all thrilled, as the abandoned city is certainly a site to behold, but when they’re ready to leave and their van won’t start, they come to realize they’re not alone.

Inklings of Chernobyl Diaries‘ simple and clever premise are present throughout the film, but are rarely expanded upon. Rather than have each scene lead to a new discovery or propel the narrative forward, the characters merely run in circles. We get a lot of dog chase sequences and quite a few instances where they wrestle with whether or not to go back for a missing group member, and all the while you never get the sense that the group is making any progress. They may get a gun and find a friend, but ultimately, that trapped and helpless sensation never dissipates in the least, bathing the feature in too much dread.

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Review: Moonrise Kingdom

It’s one thing to make a movie feel unique, but Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is almost otherworldly. While the film’s centerpiece pre-teen romance packs the power to earn a place in anyone’s heart, some readjusting is required to appreciate the film as a whole. But, if you’re willing to let loose and fall in line with Anderson’s techniques, Moonrise Kingdom proves to be an absolutely unforgettable pleasure.

The film takes place on a small island in the summer of 1965. Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) is home with family, spending her time longingly looking out the window with her binoculars while Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) is out camping with his Khaki Scout troop – or so their guardians think. One morning Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and the boys of Troop 55 wake up to find that Sam has run away while Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) discover that Suzy has packed her things and left.

With a threatening storm on the horizon, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) desperately tries to track down the missing 12-year-olds with the help of Scout Master Ward and his wilderness survival savvy troops. Meanwhile Suzy and Sam enjoy some alone time out in the woods, testing the romantic waters.

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‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: Francis Lawrence Under a Microscope

Ever since word got out that Francis Lawrence is taking Gary Ross’ place as the director of the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, we’ve all indulged in judging him based on whether or not we enjoy his previous films – myself included. While a director may get most of the praise should a movie play well or take the brunt of the criticism should it get banned, the fact of the matter is there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen when it comes to making a feature film.

The director is essentially the conductor, but that doesn’t mean every element of the filmmaking process lies in the palm of his or her hand. That being said, there’s really no judging Lawrence’s capabilities without both disconnecting his directorial work from the other creative entities, but then also considering the collaboration to a degree.

In order to better assess Lawrence’s potential as the director of Catching Fire, here’s a closer look at his work in his two most recent features, I Am Legend and Water for Elephants.

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Review: Battleship

Riggins and Landry in the Navy, Peter Berg Does Michael Bay, Transformers-esque, Not Really Battleship; any of those titles are just as fitting if not more so than Battleship.

Back in 2005, after finding a planet similar to Earth, NASA opts to beam a signal to what they dub “Planet G” in an effort to communicate. Also in 2005, Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is jobless, has to live with his brother, Stone (Alexander Skarsgård), and gets busted for stealing a burrito. On the bright side, he snags a model of a girlfriend, Sam (Brooklyn Decker).

One unconvincing time jump later, Alex is a lieutenant in the Navy alongside his big bro and under the command of Sam’s father, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). Alex may have developed into a smart and talented solider, but he’s still got a knack for screwing things up, so after the RIMPAC naval exercises wrap, Alex will likely get the boot. However, before Alex can even get back to shore, something unprecedented happens, aliens attack.

Sure, you’ve got to suspend some disbelief when watching any alien invasion movie, but it’s tough to tell whether or not Battleship even takes itself seriously. The opening sequence detailing this whole Planet G effort is a little on the ridiculous side, but digestible enough to get you on board. Then, the attention switches to Alex who’s drowning his sorrows in booze on his birthday. Things get amusing when Alex meets Sam and his desperation to win her over via a chicken burrito results in a rather comical failed robbery.

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Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: ‘Madagascar 3’ Rocks Polka Dots And Afros But ‘The Words’ Drowns In Voice Over

While The Avengers continues to plow through the competition, a few other wannabe summer blockbusters try to put themselves in position to share in the big bucks. The Dictatorundoubtedly has an uphill battle, but this rather amusing extended clip might attract some extra attention. Men in Black 3, on the other hand, is very likely the film that’ll dethrone The Avengers, so if it’s going to be #1, might as well go big, right? This new peek at the film’s sets, gadgets, cars and more suggests MIB 3’s production value will reflect its hefty price tag. As for Prometheus, it’ll definitely open big, but how big is the question. Should viral videos like this one work in the film’s favor, it could be one of the highest earners of the summer.

On a smaller scale, the Duplass brothers are at it again, releasing a brand new trailer for their July release, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon. On the far creepier side, a trailer for The Possession just hit and it actually suggests that there still might be more to explore in the whole possession subgenre.

In the land of the release date-less we’ve got two worth keeping an eye on: Bait 3D because it looks like a big ball of tacky fun, and The We and The I because while we’ve still got no clue where Michel Gondry is going with this one, there’s something inexplicably magnetizing about this footage.

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Review: Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows has had its ups and downs since day one. As someone who never watched the original show, it was tough to care when word got out that a feature film was in the works, even with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton’s involvement. Even as the cast was packed with famous faces and stills hit the web featuring Burton’s signature highly unique visuals, there was still no need to care with no connection to the material. However, when the film’s first trailer arrived, it finally gave us Dark Shadows newcomers a taste of the world and the way Burton presented it, it seemed like a lot of fun. But sadly, the film version does the TV series a major injustice, leaving this newcomer with absolutely no desire to stick with the concept and check out the source material.

Back in the 1700s, a young Barnabas Collins and his parents arrive in America. When their fishing business flourishes, the Collins are as wealthy as ever and dub the town Collinsport. However, when Barnabas (Depp) falls for Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote), turning down the affection of Angelique (Eva Green), Angelique doesn’t just go off to find another man; she uses her bewitching abilities to send Josette to her death and turn Barnabas into a vampire. To top it all off, she sentences Barnabas to live out his never-ending life, locked in a coffin, buried underground.

Two centuries later, Barnabas is freed by an unsuspecting construction crew. While his immediate family and friends are long gone, the Collins family lives on, so Barnabas makes it his mission to restore the Collins fishing empire and to support the new generation. Trouble is, Angelique is still a Collinsport resident herself and is still desperate to earn Barnasbas’ love, or else.

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Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: Celebrating Article #50 with ‘The Dictator,’ ‘This Is 40’ and ‘Argo’

Happy 50th anniversary to Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week! Fifty articles that is. Just about a year ago50/50The Muppets and Bridesmaids were the first films to bathe in “The Best Stuff” glory and since, dozens have joined the ranks and today, three more will follow suit. However, the following will not.

Gangster Squad bursts onto the public scene with guns blazing, but a famous cast in fedoras with a crazy amount of firepower isn’t necessarily a recipe for engaging material. After sorting through the mumbling, the basics of the story are evident, but by that point, it’s impossible to appreciate it in tandem with the visuals. Killer Joe, on the other hand, gets much closer to sucking you right into the situation. The problem here is, that situation is so off-the-wall, it’s a little tough to digest.

Similarly, Excision is rocking a brand new and incredibly sleekly cut trailer, but it also suggests this material is way too twisted for a mainstream audience. No, you don’t want to market a movie as something it’s not in an effort to bring in some cash, but at the same time, something like this could easily scare the large majority of moviegoers off.

Enough of the so-so; it’s time to get on to The Best Stuff of the 50th installment of Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week. Looking forward to many more articles to come!

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‘The Hunger Games’ Countdown: Dream Casting ‘Catching Fire’

In August of 2010 I posted “Daring to Dream: Casting ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie” on Cinematical. Not a single person I named was cast and I still stand by my choices to the point, but I must concede Gary Ross and Lionsgate did a much better job. However, that’s not stopping me from dream casting the sequel, Catching Fire.

The Hunger Games Vets

Of course there are quite a few characters from round one that will not return, but we’ve got quite the handful that are not only still in the spotlight, but consuming more of it. Catching Fireis Katniss Everdeen’s story just like The Hunger Games, so Jennifer Lawrence’s return is top priority. Sure this whole X-Men: First Class 2 thing put a little strain on the Catching Fireproduction schedule, but Lawrence needs to be front and center and the studio’s got to make that happen in any way it can.

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Review: God Bless America

Extremely violent comedy is tough to pull off. Let’s say you’ve got a main character on a killing spree; how’s an audience supposed to sympathize with that? A good reason to kill couldn’t hurt, but generally there’s always a rift between that character’s thought process and an audience’s moral and God Bless America is no different. However, where writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait succeeds is where films like Super and Hobo with a Shotgun did not, in making the leads highly likable.

Frank’s (Joel Murray) got it rough. Not only does he have an obnoxious family with a constantly crying baby living next door, but friendly flirting with the office secretary gets him fired and he’s diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. Rather than wallow in self-pity, Frank opts to make a difference with his remaining days; Frank decides he’s going to eradicate everything that rubs him the wrong way, starting with Chloe (Melinda Page Hamilton), an over privileged teenager who throws a tantrum when her parents give her the wrong car for her birthday on a reality show.

After Frank blows Chloe away, her parents and friends are upset, but someone out there understands and appreciates what Frank did, one of Chloe’s classmates, Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr). Roxy doesn’t just give him the thumbs up or, god forbid, offer him a high-five, rather she pleads to join him on his killing spree. Initially, Frank’s reluctant to take on a partner, but Roxy proves to not only share similar ideals, but is very willing to act on them.

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