Posts Tagged ‘city of ember

06
Jan
09

Ten Faves from ’08

I don’t know about you, but I was disappointed.

 

If the question is, “What did I expect from the films of 2008?” my answer would be, “A better film year than 2007.” Not to say that 2007 was bad; the tail-end of it made up for most of that year. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of 2008.

 

“Indiana Jones 4” (aka “Indy Gets an X-File”) was ludicrous if not insulting. And speaking of “X-Files” the return of Mulder and Scully to the screen was warranted, but the story wasn’t. “Speed Racer” could’ve been more fun, “Prince Caspian” could’ve used more characterization and plot. “Untraceable” was among those movies that couldn’t have been saved, period.

 

However, it wasn’t all bad. “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” proved that superheroes can rule the day, if not the box office (although “Hellboy 2” was underrated). Pixar pixel pixies made mechanics emotional with “Wall*E.” Robert Downey, Jr. didn’t just make “Iron Man,” he made “Tropic Thunder” as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method-actor who undergoes pigmentation-surgery to portray a black Sergeant in Vietnam. And “City of Ember” was the best and most-overlooked kids’ movie.

 

In alphabetical order, here are my Ten Faves from ’08.

 

bank_job1“The Bank Job” – I caught this one on DVD. After I finished watching it, I kicked myself. This movie was interesting, fun, and a great throwback to the Seventies.

 

 

 

 

city_of_ember“City of Ember” – Thoughtful, well-made post-apocalyptic kids’ movie. I was surprised.

 

 

 

 

 

dark_knight“The Dark Knight” – This movie is entirely on a different plain of filmmaking. Kudos to Christopher Nolan on doing such a great job and to Heath Ledger, who gave one of his best performances ever (and his last).

 

 

 

 

hellboy_two“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” – Fun fantasy film from Guillermo del Toro. I really enjoyed this one. “Hellboy” is beginning to grow on me.

 

 

 

 

iron_man“Iron Man” – A great popcorn blockbuster movie to begin the summer with. Robert Downey Jr. was nothing less than perfectly casted. Jeff Bridges had fun being the bad guy.

 

 

 

 

leatherheads“Leatherheads” – Another overlooked movie. George Clooney spent years trying to bring this one to light. It’s funny, quirky, zany, screwball… and made football interesting.

 

 

 

 

son_of_rambow“Son of Rambow” – British indie about kids who learn to make film, not war. Great fun and a tribute to filmmaking (moreso than “Zack and Miri”).

 

 

 

 

transsiberian“Transsiberian” – Emily Mortimer steals this movie from Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley. A great follow-up to “Session 9” and “The Machinist,” also directed by Brad Anderson.

 

 

 

 

tropic_thunder“Tropic Thunder” – I initially thought this was shallow at first, but repeated viewings on DVD make this one even better.”I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!”

 

 

 

 

wall_e“Wall*E” – Wall*E is the story of the little robot that fell in love. Environmental and biological themes abound but don’t get too preachy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all, folks. See ya at the movies in 2009!

-Chas

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28
Oct
08

Movie Review: City of Ember

 

 

A post-apocalyptic kids movie.

 

Starring Harry Treadaway, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Toby Jones, Tim Robbins and Martin Landau. Directed by Gil Kenan. Based on the book “City of Ember,” by Jeanne Duprau.

 

The story: in a world on the throes of Armageddon, a group of scientists create a city underground (City of Ember) that will last 200 years. The Mayor of the City is instructed to keep a box that counts down the 200 years and gives explicit instructions on how to evacuate Ember and return to the (hopefully) restored Earth above. Problems ensue when the 7th Mayor of Ember has a heart attack and the box is hidden away.

 

Doon (Treadaway) and Lina (Ronan) are school friends. When the power outages become longer and more frequent, Doon and Lina decide to do something about it while others blindly wait for the Builders to return and fix everything. Doon searches through the Pipeworks and finds secret doors and passages. Lina meets with Mayor Cole (Murray) and fins how corrupt he really is. When Doon finds that his father, Loris, and others tried to escape Ember and Lina finds the instructions to leave, they become suspected of treason. They’re only hope is to find the way out of Ember.

 

“City of Ember” could have easily been darker and grittier, but it wasn’t. I would say that’s akin to “The Black Cauldron,” or more serious childrens’ fare. My only real complaint about the movie is that I felt it took a while to get to the heart of the mystery, but that’s pittance compared to what the movie delivered. The overall movie was entertaining, engrossing, fun, and it held my attention the entire way.

 

Most impressive to me had to be the set designs. Ember looked like it had been designed somewhere between the 1940’s and 1950’s. And with the fact that the city would be limited in resources, especially after 200 years, it only seemed right that the characters would be wearing hand-me-down-to-the-nth-generation clothing. The city existed in the basement of the Earth, and thus so had small inventions scrapped together from bits and pieces of other objects. The entire civilization was well thought-out.

 

There’s no doubt that Bill Murray ate-up his role as the corrupt “everything is just fine” Mayor Cole. Tim Robbins stood in as Doon’s father, and did pretty well. Most surprising was Martin Landau as Sul, the narcoleptic engineer at the Pipe Works. He provides comic relief and effectively “saves the day.”

 

Do I recommend this movie? Sure. There’s no language and relatively no violence. The story is engaging enough to keep the attention of kids and adults. As for what ages should see it, I suggest 6 and up.

 

My grade: B+

30
Sep
08

October Movie Releases

 

 

“An American Carol” – Kevin Farley (Chris’ brother) plays infamous unpatriotic filmmaker Michael Mallone (a shallow version of Michael Moore) who is contacted by three spirits of the past: General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), John F. Kennedy, and George Washington (Jon Voight). Also stars Trace Adkins, Dennis Hopper, and Bill O’Reilly. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Appaloosa” – Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris are friends hired to police a small town. It’s a Western. Also stars Renee Zellweger. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” – Animal-talking movie about a Chihuahua who goes from spoiled to gringo when she goes across the border. Features the voice of Drew Barrymore, George Lopez, and Andy Garcia. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Blindness” – A plague hits the Earth, causing everyone to go blind. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Danny Glover, and Sandra Oh. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” – Aside from being the story of my life, this is the story of a London journalist who comes to the Big Apple to try his luck. Based on real events. Stars Simon Pegg, Megan Fox, Kirtsen Dunst, Gillian Anderson, and Jeff Bridges. Opens October 3rd, 2008

 

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” – Two punk kids at a concert fall for each other. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Rachel” – A woman is getting married and her sister (Anna Hathaway) is there to bring the house down. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“RocknRolla” – London. Underground. Gangsters. Guy Ritchie. What more do you need? Also stars Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Ludacris, Jeremy Piven, and Tom Wilkinson. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” – A woman who snags a job as a financial advise columnist must battle her addiction to shopping in order to keep her life from spiraling out of control. What other ideas were saved from the Disney studio waste-bin? Opens October 9, 2008

 

“Body of Lies” – Russell Crowe and Leo DiCaprio in a movie about trying to trap a dangerous Al Qaeda operative. Opens October 10, 2008

 

“City of Ember” – 200 years ago a city was built underground with a limited amount of power and resources. Time’s up. Stars Tim Robbins and Bill Murray. Opens October 10, 2008

 

“The Express” – Based on the true story of Ernie Davis, the first black American to win the Heisman Trophy. Stars Rob Brown, Dennis Quaid, and Clancy Brown (no relation). Opens October 10, 2008

 

“Quarantine” – A news reporter and a cameraman are stuck in an apartment while a deadly outbreak hits L.A. Stars Louisville native Jennifer Carpenter. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“Max Payne” – Mark Wahlberg plays the video game anti-hero: a maverick cop who is hunting down those responsible for killing his partner and family. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“The Secret Life of Bees” – Dakota Fanning is a 14-year-old girl on the run who lands at the beekeeping premises of the Boatwright sisters. Also stars Alicia Keyes and Queen Latifah. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“Sex Drive” – An 18-year-old takes his brothers ’69 GTO to get to Knoxville so he can get laid by a woman he met online. Put in your own response. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“W” – Oliver Stone presents a story of a man who knows how to party, how to gamble, how to have a good time. This man has some lows; notably, bad management over a sports team and oil company. However, he triumphs and becomes President of the United States. This piece of Americana opens October 17, 2008

 

“Changeling” – Angelina Jolie is a mom in 1920’s L.A. When he son comes up missing, she goes to the police. A kid is returned to her, but it’s not her son. Based on real events. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“High School Musical 3” – Self-explanatory. Opens October 24, 2008

 

“Saw V” – Yeah. Self-explanatory, too. Opens October 24, 2008

 

“Synecdoche, NY” – In Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, Philip Seymour Hoffman struggles women and building a life-size version of New York in a warehouse for a play he’s staging. If you think that sounds weird, feel free to check out the trailer. Opens October 24, 2008

 

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” – Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are roommates who are having problems making financial ends meet. Solution: make a porno. Kevin Smith wrote and directed. Opens October 31, 2008

23
Sep
08

Movie News and Views Sept. 23, 2008 Poster Edition

 

 

To quoth the Staind, “It’s been a while…”

 

         Jon Favreau will be directing the “Iron Man” sequel, after the head of Marvel became upset that he took his “cause” to the Internet.

         Paramount Pictures has created a straight-to-DVD division. Watch for sequels to the films “Road Trip,” “Bad News Bears,” “Mean Girls,” “Grease,” and… wait for it… “The Naked Gun” to come to video store shelves soon. They plan on releasing 5-6 titles a year. Why?!?

         Ah-nold, the Governator, will have something to do with the upcoming “Terminator: Salvation” movie. Just what is not known…

         The joint Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson collaboration, “Tintin,” has been refused funding by Universal Pictures who cite that the film would HAVE to make $425 million, and they don’t feel it would happen.

         “The Strangers” will have a sequel.

         Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter of such films as “A Few Good Men,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War,” will be writing a movie about Facebook. Is MySpace not good enough? What about Hi5?

         Warner Bros. is planning a “Superman re-boot.” Think “Incredible Hulk” vs. “The Incredible Hulk.” Geez…

         Bruce Springsteen has written the theme to the upcoming Darren Aronofsky movie, “The Wrestler.”

         “Ghostbusters 3,” everyone’s favorite rumor, is supposedly in the works.

         “Where the Wild Things Are,” directed by Spike Jonze, has a release date of Oct. 16, 2009.

         “Spider-Man 4 & 5” are currently in the works, with Tobey Maguire reprising his role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

         Spike Lee is moving forward on “Inside Man 2.”

        

Info on the Coen Bros. next project: “A Serious Man” is the story of an ordinary man’s search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik, a physics professor at a quiet midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous colleagues, Sy Ableman, who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larry’s unemployable brother Arthur is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry’s chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person – a mensch – a serious man?Tony Award nominee Michael Stuhlbarg (The Grey Zone) stars as Larry; Fred Melamed (Suspect) plays Sy; Richard Kind (The Visitor) portrays Arthur; and Minnesota actors Aaron Wolf, Sari Wagner, and Jessica McManus are cast as Danny, Judith, and Sarah, respectively. (taken from Worstpreviews.com)
 

 

 

         The makers of “Disturbia” are being sued for ripping-off “Rear Window.”

         “Rambo 5” will be coming to theatres. Maybe if we DIDN’T draw First Blood…

         The makers of Guitar Hero are refusing to let Brett Ratner make a Guitar Hero movie. I got nothin’ to say…

         David Hasselhoff will be in “Beverly Hills Ninja 2.”

         Disney is creating a new movie around their attraction, “Tomorrowland.”

         “Rashomon” is being remade.

         A movie is being based on the PC game, “The Sims.”