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REVIEW – The Iron Giant

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment
The Iron Giant.jpgDirected by: Brad Bird
Produced by: Allison Abbate, Des McAnuff
Screenplay by: Tim McCanlies
Story by: Brad Bird
Edited by: Darren T. Holmes
Cinematography by: Steven Wilzbach
Music by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Vin Diesel, James Gammon, M. Emmet Walsh, Cloris Leachman
Based on the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Year: 1999

 

Disney may have reigned at the box office in the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, the quality of their non-Pixar-produced films was undoubtedly beginning to slip, and so it’s no real wonder that other studios – particularly DreamWorks – were taking notice and trying to take a bite out of their share of the box office. Despite having the backing of a major studio behind it, however, Warner Bros. Animation struggled to find its footing with theatrical releases during this era. Space Jam, the studio’s first in-house feature film production, was a considerable success, but it relied upon familiar Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan (and an already existing and popular advertising campaign for shoes that already merged the two brands) to basically have the film market itself. Later films wouldn’t be able to use that crutch, however, and anemic advertising strategies for films like Quest for Camelot, Osmosis Jones, and even Looney Tunes: Back in Action – which no longer had the brand popularity and the basketball star to rely upon – did little to drum up ticket sales, and none of the films achieved the critical acclaim to even make them legit cult classics. There was, of course, one film released in between all this, however, that, despite the botched advertising (some of which, for some reason, used Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane”) and underperformance, did manage to eventually make a name for itself not just as a cult classic, but as truly one of the most underappreciated animated film classics. Read more…

REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger

April 23, 2016 1 comment
Captain America The First AvengerDirected by: Joe Johnston
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Robert Dalva
Cinematography by: Shelly Johnson
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, JJ Field, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Leander Deeny
Based on the Marvel comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Year: 2011

 

Believe it or not, at one time, this was the movie I was most worried about during the first phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The director, Joe Johnston, didn’t have the best track record as a director, and the main star of the movie, Chris Evans, was someone who had already played a superhero in a movie series that was pretty garbage, Fox’s pre-reboot Fantastic Four movies. Rumors of the film also having a random musical number was also cause for concern, and Hugo Weaving was also revealed to be playing yet another intense villain role. Also, this was a film set before all the other films, being set during World War II. Period films were fine, but a period superhero film? C’mon, Marvel! Surely you must be crazy! No way could this live up to Iron Man and Thor, which at least had respected actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh at the helm, right!?

Oh, please. You know I was wrong on this on all accounts. Read more…

REVIEW: Alien

October 31, 2013 4 comments
AlienDirected by: Ridley Scott
Produced by: Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill
Written by: Dan O’Bannon (screenplay); Dan O’Bannon, Ronald Shusett (story); David Giler, Walter Hill (uncredited)
Edited by: Terry Rawlings, Peter Weatherley
Cinematography by: Derek Vanlint
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Veronica Cartwright, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Bolaji Badejo
Year: 1979

 

I’ve been wanting to write this review for quite some time, but somehow never went forward with actually doing it. Don’t really know why it’s taken this long, but I figured that using it as the finale of the 3rd Annual Halloween/Scary Movie Month was appropriate enough! Read more…

Special Review: “Daredevil” / “Daredevil: Director’s Cut” – Blind Judgment

September 4, 2013 3 comments
DaredevilDirected by: Mark Steven Johnson
Produced by: Avi Arad, Gary Foster, Arnon Milchan
Written by: Mark Steven Johnson
Edited by: Armen Minasian, Dennis Virkler
Cinematography by: Ericson Core
Music by: Graeme Revell
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, Joe Pantoliano, Leland Orser, Erick Avari, Derrick O’Connor, David Keith, Scott Terra, Coolio
Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Frank Miller, Marv Wolfman, John Romita, Sr., and Jack Kirby
Year: 2003 (Director’s Cut: 2004)

 

Is it safe to come out now? … It’s been about two weeks since the news broke that Ben Affleck was playing the new Batman in the Man of Steel follow-up – a proposition that would seem to suggest that, yes, he would also be playing him in future films, as well, both standalone and, more significantly, together with other heroes in a Justice League film. At the time the news broke, I had been taking a nap after a long, hard day’s work and saw that a friend on Facebook had posted about it. Facebook being what it is, I had to check for myself for confirmation before I fully bought in. Sure enough, this was true. And the internet was not happy – at all. Any goodwill (…pun?) that the actor had earned as a director seemingly went out the window as everyone started reminding everyone else that he was once in movies like Armageddon, Surviving Christmas, and – more damningly – Gigli, the infamously awful Bennifer rom-com that was more known for its awful script and Jennifer Lopez’s turkey impression than it was for being a competently made film. That’s not exactly the makings a prestigious career. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “The Amazing Spider-Man”

July 9, 2012 4 comments
Directed by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Avi Arad, Laura Ziskin, Matt Tolmach
Written by: JamesVanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves (screenplay); James Vanderbilt (story)
Cinematography by: John Schwartzman
Music by: James Horner
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Chris Zylka
Year: 2012

 

A Foreword on the Reboot

Is it just me, or is cynicism the attitude of late with movie going audiences these days? I get that we’re starting to realize, more and more, that Hollywood, as a business, just really doesn’t care about the art, of their industry, or originality, or creativity as much as it does money, but, really, all the cynics should’ve realized this a lot sooner ’cause that’s how it’s always been. The attitude I’ve seen on internet discussions can hardly be called “jaded,” because there’s just too much hostility, less like a cry for higher quality entertainment and more like animosity towards any film that we really will know little about until they actually come out — primarily with films that involve the phrase “reboot.” It’s really all Christopher Nolan’s fault, to be honest. He had the audacity to reboot the Batman film franchise and turn it into gold, which in Hollywoodese means that everything must be given the gritty reboot treatment!

The reaction to his two Batman films has been largely positive, ecstatic, even, but with The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, it seems like people are already hailing it as an inevitable letdown for some reason. Casino Royale was pretty much the first major franchise to be given the reboot treatment, and that worked out pretty well, too, though even that film had its critics — people who hated the film based on the blonde-and-blue-eyed Daniel Craig or its turn towards the gritty and serious, people who apparently longed for the days of gadgetry, Denise Richards, and James Bond in space, I suspect. Like with Batman, I’m already seeing people ready to see them crash and burn. People are apparently tired of revisiting old franchises and their stories all over again, despite the fact that they keep turning up for these films and convincing the studios otherwise. Perhaps the greatest affront to reboot-haters out there these days is the latest Spider-Man film.

Though they had their flaws, the Sam Raimi films created a largely appealing world for the Webslinger and had a largely fantastic cast in place. Scenes from the series — from the upside down kiss in the first film, the terrifying awakening of Doc Ock and the moving train sequence in the second, or even the overacted silliness of pretty much everything in the third (Peter strutting, emo Peter, James Franco’s hilarious delivery of the line “So good”) — all became iconic moments in superhero cinema. With this reboot, all that has seemingly been painted over, replaced with something new and unfamiliar masquerading as the old. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t among them for a while, but after the disastrous Spider-Man 3, I was willing to give it a chance, which is more than some were willing to give — there were actually those out there who were hoping that this would actually fail and teach Sony a lesson, largely due to the even more worrisome fact that Sony was more concerned about losing their hold on the Spider-Man license and allowing them to revert back to the now-Disney-owned Marvel.

Review

Despite being a reboot and, therefore, another origin story, The Amazing Spider-Man manages to cover enough new ground and present a familiar character and his world in new ways that it never feels like the film is aping the Raimi films while capturing that Spider-Man spirit. The continuity between the two franchises is non-existent — the stories of Peter’s spider bite and the death of Uncle Ben both get retold, as expected, but other than that, the new film is completely different in tone, style, and personality. The previous films took on a largely soap opera-like sensibility and a cartoon style for their action scenes and characterizations which emphasized their comic book origins, but director Marc Webb took this new series (and it will be a series, I assure you) in a more down-to-earth direction that manages to still be lively, retaining the heart and fun nature of the character and his world intact, though, as with the Raimi films, there are a few elements sacrificed along the way. Read more…

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