Archive for May, 2009

28
May
09

June Movie Release Schedule

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“Away We Go” – Parents-to-be John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph hit the road to find a place to set their roots. Opens June 5, 2009

“The Hangover” – A guy and his three friends go to Vegas for a Bachelor-party blow-out. The three friends awake and have to retrace their steps to track down the groom. Opens June 5, 2009

“Land of the Lost” – Will Ferrell heads up the cast of this remake of the Seventies TV show. Opens June 5, 2009

“My Life in Ruins” – Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) is a Grecian tour guide who, with the help of a tourist, gets her mojo back. Opens June 5, 2009

“Imagine That” – When successful financial exec Eddie Murphy’s career goes down the tube, he finds answers in his daughter’s imaginary world. Opens June 12, 2009

“Moon” – Sam Rockwell is a miner on the moon whose contract is set to expire in 2 weeks. Just enough time for him to begin “losing it” as well as finding out who his replacement is. Kevin Spacey voices a robot. Opens June 12, 2009

“The Taking of Pelham 123” – Remake of the film about armed men hijacking a New York subway. Opens June 12, 2009

“The Proposal” – Sandra Bullock is Canadian and must marry her assistant Andrews (Ryan Reynolds) in order to avoid deportation. Eh? Opens June 19, 2009

“Whatever Works” – Woody Allen movie set in New York. Larry David plays the main character: a man who leaves his upper class life for a bohemian existence. Along the way he meets a young girl from the South and entanglements ensue. Opens June 19, 2009

“Year One” – Jack Black and Michael Cera are primitive hunter-gatherers who are banished from their village for being too lazy. Directed by Harold Ramis. Opens June 19, 2009

“Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” – No word on plot yet (if there is such a thing) but you can check out the trailer. Opens June 24, 2009

“The Hurt Locker” – When a new sergeant, James, takes over a highly trained bomb disposal team amidst violent conflict, he surprises his two subordinates, Sanborn and Eldridge by recklessly plunging them into a deadly game of urban combat. As the men struggle to control their wild new leader, the city explodes into chaos, and James’ true character reveals itself in a way that will change each man forever. June 26, 2009

“My Sister’s Keeper” – Abigail Breslin is a kid who sues for emancipation from her parents. Cameron Diaz is her mother. Alec Baldwin is her lawyer. Opens June 26, 2009

27
May
09

Movie News and Views May 27, 2009 Trailer Edition

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“Whatever Works” – Woody Allen movie set in New York. Larry David plays the main character: a man who leaves his upper class life for a bohemian existence. Along the way he meets a young girl from the South and entanglements ensue. Opens June 19, 2009

“Julia and Julia” – Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in a movie based on the book about a woman who cooks her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” in a year. Opens August 7, 2009

“District 9” – Peter Jackson produced movie about an alien race forced to live in slum-like conditions. Opens August 14, 2009

“Post Grad” – Ryden Lamby (Alexis Bledel) graduates from college, moves back home, gets a job, finds a boyfriend, and has to figure out what to do with her life. Yawn. Also stars Michael Keaton. Opens August 21, 2009

“Oceans” – Disney documentary on the oceans of the world. There’s a bit of controversy in that while it may not be “Shark Week,” it comes close for its ‘G’ rating. Opens August 22, 2010

“Gamer” – It’s the future and humans can control other humans in a mass-scale game. Gerard Butler is a player trying to escape this prison game and take down its mastermind, Michael C. Hall. Opens September 4, 2009

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” – A writer’s plan to expose a corrupt D.A. takes an unexpected turn. Remake of a 1956 movie starring Michael Douglas. Opens September 11, 2009

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself” – Tyler Perry’s newest “Madea” movie about Madea finding a 16-yr-old girl and her brothers looting her place. She sends them to live with their Aunt April, a hard-drinking nightclub singer. Opens September 11, 2009

“The Burning Plain” – Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger are daughter and mother, trying to form a bond after a difficult childhood. Opens September 18, 2009

“The Surrogates” – Bruce Willis in a scifi movie about a murder linked to a high-tech company that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves. Opens September 25, 2009

“The Road” – Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel about a father and son walking the desolate earth of a post-apocalyptic future, armed with a single pistol. Stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Robert Duvall. Opens October 16, 2009

“Precious” – Based on the “Push” novel about a black girl who grows up being abused by her mother, raped by her father, and ends up poor, angry, illiterate, unloved, and unnoticed. Opens November 6, 2009

“Nine” – Daniel Day-Lewis plays film director Guido Contini who is struggling between personal and private life while making his current picture. He tries balancing between his wife, mistress, mom, a movie star muse, and others. Opens November 25, 2009

“Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel” – The Chipmunk voices are back, but Jason Lee isn’t. Opens December 25, 2009

26
May
09

Remake Radar: The Karate Kid

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Welcome to Remake Radar, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

“The Karate Kid” (1984)

Stars Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, and Martin Kove.

Director: John G. Avildsen

Story: Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) and his mom leave New Jersey for the sun and surf of Reseda, CA. Being Italian and from Jersey, Daniel doesn’t quite fit in. Matters are further complicated when he asks a local girl out and is ganged-up on by others (12 of them) who begin kicking his ass karate-style before being fended off by Mr. Miyagi (Morita). Miyagi then teaches Daniel-son to “wax-on/wax-off” while building up his esteem so he can take on the leader of the gang in a tournament. Gotta love the crane kick.

What do we know now? The remake may or may not be titled “The Kung Fu Kid,” and it’s being produced by Will Smith and stars his son Jaden Smith as the title character. Here’s a rundown from WorstPreviews.com:

Sherry is offered a transfer to China. Considering the US office is about to lay off everyone, it’s really her only choice; especially since nobody else at the office has been offered a transfer. With her young son Dre (Jaden Smith) in tow, the single-mother makes Beijing her new home. Needless to say, not knowing Chinese, and experiencing a bit of culture shock, they both find it a little hard to settle in – – Dre especially.

Like Daniel Larusso in the original film, Dre (who, unlike Larusso, is a skateboarding video-game buff) immediately catches the attention of the local bullies – in particular, Lui Wei Cheng. And before too long, Dre is going home with bruises (he tries to hide a black-eye under a cap by pulling it as far down his face as he can) and whining about wanting to return to the states.

Dre’s enrolled into a strict Beijing Middle School. His first day there is a bit of a shambles – the assistant principal spots his bruises, and assumes he’s been fighting (which, of course, they don’t accept under any circumstances), and he turns up in a school uniform, something he didn’t have to wear that day (there’s only certain days when a uniform is required).

The Mr Myiagi character is actually named Mr. Han (Jackie Chan). He’s the maintenance man of the apartment lock that Sherry and Dre have moved into, and meets the new residents when he’s called over to fix their hot water service. From the bathroom, Han spots Dre practicing martial-arts kicks (unsuccessfully) in front of a video-game, and catches his black eye. Later, of course, he’ll agree to teach him – both martial-arts and the Chinese language (so he can impress his mother by haggling over apples).

The ‘John Kreese’ character – the character played by Martin Kove in the original film – is Li Quan Ha, the owner of the Fighting dragon school of Kung-Fu. One visit to the school – in which Li Quan terrorizes his students (who range from the age of 3 onwards), namely Lui Wei Cheng – and Dre is immediately put off.

Wow. I dunno what to say about this one. ‘Til next time, folks.

 

Sources:

http://www.moviehole.net/200918909-exclusive-whos-who-in-the-karate-kid

http://www.worstpreviews.com/headline.php?id=13336&count=250

25
May
09

Movie News and Views May 25, 2009 Poster Edition

DIST9_TSR_1SHT_3

 

– Hollywood isn’t done proving that they’ve ran out of ideas. “Bazooka” Joe,” the cartoon kid with an eyepatch will be coming to a movie theatre near you.

– Michael Moore’s new movie about the evil of wealthy people is slated for release on Oct. 2, 2009.

– ABC has put the re-imagining of “V” in their Fall 2009/2010 lineup.

– Wayne Allwine, voice of Mickey Mouse, passed away. He was 62.

– Dan Akyroyd is talking “Ghostbusters 3” and rumor has it that Alyssa Milano and Elisha Dushku will be in it.

– Chace Crawford is now in the “Footloose” remake.

– The Blue Man Group will be releasing a 3-D IMAX movie.

– J.J. Abrams and company hid an R2-D2 in the new “Star Trek” movie. If you can find it e-mail Paramount and you’ll be entered into a prize contest.

– Mickey Rourke has signed for a remake of the Eighties movie, “Mona Lisa.” Also starring is Eva Green.

– Terry Gilliam is resurrecting his “Don Quixote” movie.

– Dreamworks is set to remake “Fright Night.”

– “American Gladiators” will get a movie.

– The last “Wizard of Oz” munchkin, Mickey Carroll, passed away. He was 89.

– Kevin Smith is working on a movie based on the Warren Zevon song, “Hit Somebody (Hockey Song)” and believes it will be an Academy Award contender. Uh…… ok.

– Vinnie Jones and Gerard Butler are among the most current actors facing jail time.

– “Cliffhanger” is slated to be remade.

– Robert Rodriguez’s “Barbarella” is officially off.

– Disney is removing Special Features from rental DVDs.

– “Little Fockers” is now casting.

– “Drop Dead Fred” is looking to be remade.

 

That’s it for now!

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21
May
09

Movie Review: The Hangover

hangover

 

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, especially if you can’t remember it.

Starring Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justen Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Heather Graham, and Mike Tyson. Directed by Todd Phillips

The story begins with a phone call. Phil (Cooper), one of the groomsmen, calling Tracy (Sasha Barrese), the bride, and telling her that they may not be able to make the wedding on time. Cue flashback…

Doug (Bartha) lives in L.A. and is marrying Tracy, a beautiful woman from a well-to-do family. One-by-one we are introduced to his friends Phil, a schoolteacher, and Stu (Helms), a passive dentist with a mean girlfriend as well as brother/bother-in-law Allen (Galifianakis), a somewhat imbecilic loner. These men are heading for the time of their lives in Vegas. What could go wrong?

Note to characters: see also “Very Bad Things,” “What Happens in Vegas,” etc.

Phil, Stu, and Allen wake up to find their Villa Room trashed. A chair has smoke coming from it, there are stacks of beer cans and bottles, Stu has a tooth missing, a chicken roams around freely, and there’s a tiger in the bathroom. Matter are further complicated when they find a baby outside their door, they can’t remember what happened the night before, and the groom, Doug, is missing. Slowly piecing events together they find that Stu got married to a stripper named Jade (Graham) and the baby is her kid Tyler, Phil had to go to the hospital, Allen had mixed Rufelin in their drinks (which explains their memory loss), the tiger belongs to Mike Tyson, they stole a cop car and are being chased by an effeminate gambler/gangster named Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). What the hell happened?

Usually I don’t go and see the “Vegas” sub-genre. As the above noted films “Very Bad Things,” and “What Happens in Vegas…” you know what? I really don’t care if anything happens in Vegas, but I got to see this as a preview screening and really enjoyed it.

So how does this movie distinguish itself from the others? First off: the “mystery” aspect. Instead of the groom commandeering what everyone does he’s taken out of the equation. Instead of flashbacks to what happened the night before none of the groomsmen (or groom) remembers anything. Secondly none of the leads are A-list actors which, in my opinion, would have destroyed the “reality” of how the movie felt. Third, the scene where the groomsmen meet Mike Tyson and he’s listening to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” You’ll love it. Fourth, the comedy isn’t mean-spirited, cynical, or mind-numbingly stupid as a lot of comedies are these days. Yes, there is some gross-out humor but it’s used sparingly.

On another plus note: the cinematography. I’m reminded of how “Tropic Thunder” looked better than most comedies do, or should, look. Same thing applies here. Lawrence Sher did really nice time-lapse photography as will as a good deal of well-composed stuff. A little bit of art thrown into a comedy…

Watch for the other “Daily Show” castmember Rob Riggle as a cop.

Not laugh-a-minute, but the comedy is pretty even throughout. It’s better than amusing and in the words of my brother, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again or owning it on DVD.

Final note: the WB has already requested a sequel (don’t know how). The movie’s release date is June 5, 2009.

My grade: B+

19
May
09

Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

terminator_salvation

 

The future is bleak.

Starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, and Michael Ironside. Directed by McG

In the year 2003 a convict sentenced to death via poison signs a release for his body to be used for medical purposes. His name is Marcus Wright (Worthington) and this is a plot point.

Fast-forward to 2018. The world is friggin’ bleak. John Connor (Bale) is a member of the Resistance who answers to the high command (Michael Ironside and company going up and down the California coast in a submarine). His wife (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a doctor, pregnant with his baby. The Resistance itself are scattered cells dotting the post-nuclear SoCal wasteland while Skynet, the evil robot conglomerate, controls the San Fran/Bay area.

Skynet has been working on ever elaborate ways to destroy mankind. There’s a gigantic robot that can hunt down and pick up humans as if it were King Kong, Harvesters which “cattle herd” humans into cargo bays and drop them off at Skynet Central, robot motorbikes, flying “seek and report” scouts (reminiscent of “They Live”), and ones that reside in water (looking like Doc Oc’s arms from “Spider-Man 2”) Even with all of its technological achievements, Skynet has a problem with infiltrating the Resistance.

John Connor is sent on a mission. What he finds is that Skynet has been harvesting humans for… something. He ends up being the only survivor after the control room they enter self-destructs. Connor walks back to a pick-up point. Out from the ashes rises… Marcus Wright. Wright doesn’t know where or when he is, he just needs to head north for some reason.

Connor dangerously meets with Resistance command and finds that Skynet has a secret plot to eliminate him, the entire central command, and Kyle Reese. Using the mythos already set forth in previous “Terminator” flicks we, and John, know that if Kyle Reese dies in the present then John is never born and Skynet wins by default. John must find Kyle at all costs.

Marcus lumbers around and reaches what’s left of L.A. where he meets Kyle Reese (Yelchin) and a young girl named Star. Marcus gets a quick update on the “man vs. machine” world he’s stepped into and their off to find John Connor and the rest of the Resistance. Along the way Reese and Star are captured but Marcus is able to help out and buddy up with Resistance fighter Blair. The two travel to the base.

An altercation while going through the metal minefield surrounding the base leads the group to realize what’s going on: Skynet is abducting humans to use to create life-like “Terminators.” Marcus is one but the problem is he doesn’t know it. After an escape Connor faces Wright and makes a deal: Wright has to find Kyle Reese. Meanwhile the high command is demanding a full attack on Skynet (which would destroy all humans captured). John decides to ignore the orders and go after Wright and Reese.

Yes, it’s a little revisionist; I’m not exactly sure how Marcus escaped the 1997 Judgment Day only to end up in the executioner’s chair in 2003 and upon waking in the future NOT knowing about it. Or why John continues to listen to cassette tapes his mother made (Linda Hamilton’s voice makes a cameo) when he probably should know more about Terminators and Skynet than his mother ever did. Then again these are just logic points only made by geeks like me.

What works is that there is substance, nay a story, in this movie. McG, whose previous movies include “Charlie’s Angels,” and “We Are Marshall,” wraps the story in a white-washed world where the colors are muted, if not absent, and the only real shades are light, dark, and gray. It may have been because the WB wants to churn out darker fare (see also: “The Dark Knight”) but whatever the true motives it makes “Salvation” has a look and feel of desolation and dread which works better for the world of “Terminator” as opposed to say what a director like Michael Bay would do.

How does it compare with the others? Barring “T3” (because I never bothered to watch it), I would say it’s as good as “T2” but slightly less fun. Then again it’s a post-apocalyptic world and it’s not supposed to be. McG does give nods to the previous films: there’s the Polaroid pic of Sarah Connor, John hacks into a Skynet security door, a Skynet motorbike tears down the road looking for Connor while Guns ‘n Roses’ “You Could Be Mine” is playing on a radio, there’s a return to the gas station that was at the end of the first “Terminator” which is now all but a decrepit shack, and “I’ll be back,” is said at some point.

Should you go see this film? If you’re a “Terminator” fan, this movie is well worth the wait. If you’re a scifi geek/nerd/buff and enjoy movies like “Blade Runner,” this is worth your time as well.

Speaking of “Blade Runner,” McG reportedly had the cast read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (which has been adapted as a movie starring Viggo Mortenson) and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick (which became “Blade Runner”) so that they could “absorb” the dystopia he wanted portrayed. There is a scene in “Salvation” where San Fran looks a lot like L.A. from “Blade Runner…”

While walking out after the movie had finished a couple walking in front of me were commenting about the T-800 featured in the movie. “Isn’t it great that he…”

Guess you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

My grade: A

P.S. Before the movie they previewed the trailer for the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie with Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, directed by Guy Ritchie. It looks cool.

Here’s the new “Sherlock Holmes” trailer:

14
May
09

Movie Review: Alien Trespass

alien_trespass

 

Putting the ‘B’ back into ‘B-movie.’

Starring Eric McCormack, Jenni Baird, Robert Patrick, and Jody Thompson. Directed by R.W. Goodwin.

The movie begins with “news reel”-ish footage about how, in 1957, high profile actor Eric McCormack got into a feud with legendary studio head Goldstone. Their skirmish led to Goldstone ordering the destruction of every print and negative of “Alien Trespass” which McCormack says is his nest role to date. This footage has recently been discovered and is now being shown…

The story: Ted Lewis (McCormack) is a famous astronomer and professor living with his wife Lana (Thompson) on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert. One night an alien spaceship crash-lands into the mountains in the desert and he heads up to check it out. As he nears the saucer he encounters a tall, silver spacesuit wearing alien named Urp. Lewis’s body is instantly possessed by Urp whom we find out is an intergalactic “federal marshal” that has to recapture a convict called The Ghota, an alien that kills by absorbing all the water from a person’s body leaving behind a puddle. The Ghota will soon begin dividing and eventually conquer, and destroy, the Earth.

Such is the premise of a movie I would call “amusing.” It’s not bad, it’s just really faithful to the time period that it’s trying to reconstruct in this case, the late 1950s. Think “The Giant Gila Monster,” “Them!” “War of the Worlds,” etc. This movie would be considered a colorized version of them (sorry, “WotW” is colorized I know). Eric McCormack does a great classic know-it-all professor who is then inhabited by an alien. Jenni Baird is the waitress who at first doesn’t believe but then finds truth to what “Marshal Urp” told her. Robert Patrick is Vernon, your alcoholic small-town cop who thinks he’s the sheriff of the town. Dan Lauria is Chief Dawson, a man who took the job until something better came along and is now getting too old for this stuff. And Jody Thompson is the incredibly hot Lana, the wife of Ted Lewis.

Part of the problem with the film is that faithfulness helps and hurts the film at the same time. Current moviegoers may be expecting a spoof or a sendup, not a facsimile. There are some amusing parts and you could probably take your kids to see it without feeling guilty.

Overall, it’s one of those movies best saved for rental or catching on cable on a weekend afternoon. I will say that it’s probably better than most Scifi Network fare if that’s saying anything.

My grade: B-