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The Films of 2012 You Shouldn’t Ignore

Well before 2011 was over people were already claiming 2012 to be one of the best years for film.  After all, the only thing better than sequels, remakes and adaptations are above average sequels, remakes and adaptations.  But while films like The Hunger Games and The Avengers bask in the financial intake, there are a slew of movies being overshadowed.  Not that they need help to generate revenue, but those who want something a bit different from the publicized crop can venture a look.
Lawless

A Depression-era film starring shouter Shia LaBeouf might not be the best way to kick a list off, but films that deal with law-shrugging gangsters still seem to resonate with many people–and who can blame them?  Plus, we have The Road director John Hillcoat at the helm here with a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman, who make relatively good film choices.  And as an added bonus, we have Jessica Chastain filling in the pretty-face card.  The trailer certainly looks enticing and the film should be a good way to keep our attention between the summer and fall film slaughters of 2012.

Trailer:

Moonrise Kingdom

A few people are keeping their eyes open for this latest film by Wes Anderson, which got very positive reactions at the Cannes Film Festival.  After all, what’s not to like?  It’s a dramedy by a talented and acclaimed director, the premise and scenario is different, the cast includes Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel and–brace yourselves–it’s not adapted!  Between this and the trailer, which implies a perfect balance of charming and awkward comedy, there should be more anticipation for Moonrise Kingdom than Men In Black 3.  Of course, we all know the chances of that happening.

Trailer:

ParaNorman

Even with the misstep that was Cars 2, Pixar still appear to have quite a following lined up for Brave.  But what about the other animated movies?  Frankenweenie has been showing before literally every movie and, quite frankly, sounds more like a bad porno title than anything.  Then there’s ParaNorman, which has a very off-beat vibe based on the trailer…but that’s why it might be worthwhile.  There’s a bit of Tim Burton meets Nick Park here, except the former aspects should be handled well.  And if that turns out to be accurate, then we should have our second promising animated flick this year.

Trailer:

Red Lights

Most movies that deal with the paranormal are little more than campy, B-grade throw-outs, but here’s a movie that could prove to be a little different.  The cast is decent enough, which should help Cillian Murphy continue his slow climb of recognition; shame he’ll probably be as old as Christopher Plummer before becoming a household name.  That aside, Red Lights should work since it might take its audience seriously.  Granted, it’s unlikely this will be a game-changer (since Hollywood hardly know the definition), but the movie can at least raise the standards for its siblings to come.

Trailer:

Premium Rush

Okay, let’s be honest: the main reason people will see this movie is because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The man seemed to become an overnight sensation and favorite thanks to 50/50, which isn’t difficult to reason.  Beyond that, this film looks to be a fairly by-the-numbers chase/action-thriller, but that’s just the point.  Everyone knows all the action movies they want to see this year, so hopefully Premium Rush will be a fun by-the-numbers film.  In fact, calling it Speed on a bicycle really doesn’t sound all that crazy after giving it some thought.

Trailer:

Gangster Squad

Oh look, another gangster/mafia film!  Except where Lawless may or may not look merely decent at this point, Gangster Squad could potentially bring us back to the former mafia glory of the 90’s.  Almost all of Ryan Gosling’s recent films have been acclaimed, critic-favorites Sean Penn and Nick Nolte are alongside him and, just for good measure, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi and Emma Stone have parts too.  Not everything about the film is promising, however; let’s be honest, the title is just silly and Ruben Fleischer is at the helm.  This would be fine, except a little number known as 30 Minutes or Less made his other effort, Zombieland, look like Resident Evil with Citizen Kane-like execution.  We’ll just have to hope Ruben has learned from his misstep, much like we’re hoping for Pixar’s redemption after a merely subpar sequel.

Trailer:

The Words

What is it with the sudden surge of movies about writers?  Ghost Writer, Being Flynn, Ruby Sparks and this: The Words.  Though Bradley Cooper did stretch his acting wings in Limitless, this just might make him a card worth taking seriously.  Based on the trailer, it almost looks like the movie wants to shoot for some sort of Academy recognition.  Now, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but the film does look promising.  Drama, some light-hearted humor and, more than likely, a typical Hollywood ending, should make this a modest hit with casual critics–if such thing exists.

Trailer:

Looper

Hey look, it’s Back to the Future meets Inception!  There’s a good chance people have noticed the poster for this movie, but don’t know anything about it.  Audiences seem to enjoy the movies that do away with some laws of logic while keeping others, and Looper is looking to fit the bill wonderfully.  Just don’t expect it to be nearly as huge as either of the aforementioned films, since it’s clear this is more an adrenaline fix than food for thought.

Trailer:

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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Quote Review: The Dictator (2012)

“What sorcery is this?”

At this point, Sacha Baron Cohen’s antics have become exactly what one expects and looks for when he’s involved.  Nothing is held back as any and all subtlety is tossed out even before the opening credits roll.  Admittedly, The Dictator doesn’t hold a finger to Borat, but viewers should get enough of what they’re looking for.  Just don’t expect to be rolling around the seats every five seconds.

 
 

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Theater Feature: The Avengers (2012)

This past weekend brought the ultimate wet dream for comic book fans as The Avengers hit theaters, meeting with a pleasant amount of praise along the way.  Factor in that it’s the latest in a long line of films from the past 3 years to set an opening weekend record and it’s bluntly obvious just about anyone remotely interested has already seen it.  At this point it’s literally pointless to ask-then-answer whether the film is good or not, so I’ll be taking a less conventional approach with this review.  In case you haven’t seen The Avengers, be warned this review will be FULL OF SPOILERS.  If you just want my quick thoughts on the film without having too much ruined, all you need to know is that The Avengers is a damn good time and perfect for a theatrical viewing.  Also, if you’re going to watch it in 3D, then be sure you catch it in IMAX, since this is far from the 3D quality seen in the first 15 minutes of Hugo.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Like I said, the film is a great time and one of the few that can warrant more than one theatrical viewing, if your wallet/bank account is feeling overly generous.  While a lot of this has to do with the well done action scenes, I actually found myself most invested when the characters were simply talking to each other.  Literally everyone has wonderful chemistry, whether the playfulness between Bruce and Tony or the family problem feuds between Loki and Thor.  Call me crazy, but I actually wanted to hear more of the big argument scene around the halfway mark.  Perhaps it’s a testament to the writing and/or characters, or maybe I’m so used to watching dramas and wish every argument could be a film itself (much like 12 Angry Men).  But I digress.

Another reason the film works so well is the humor, which definitely derives from the writing.  Just about any scene involving Tony Stark or the Hulk is comedic gold and if you disagree then your laughing strings are beyond withered.

One question I’m surprised hasn’t been asked more frequently is who everyone’s favorite Avenger is.  Tony Stark is his usual, brilliant, egocentric self; Thor is rash but good-hearted; Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce/Hulk is a great combination of thought and comedy; Captain America is the typical (but terrific) relatable, all around good guy; and Black Widow and Hawkeye are the determined, somewhat dryly humorous agents.  It’s truly a clash of awesomeness, which is a testament to this film’s build up and execution.  The last Avenger movie I saw leading up to this was Captain America–while it was still in theaters, so quite a few months separated my attachment from The Avengers.  But much like Fast Five, that didn’t matter; the characters were enjoyable and likable, so connecting wasn’t much of an issue.

If it sounds like The Avengers is the perfect summertime action film, that’s because it is.  But of course, like its predecessors (whether spiritual or not), it isn’t without a few problems.  Many of these might be nitpicks, but they exist.  First off, there’s a rumor that about 2 hours of footage was cut, which definitely show.  For a 140-minute movie, The Avengers really flies by, and even on my first viewing I had a feeling of where certain scenes were likely cut.  It’s a shame studios won’t give us everything up-front; films like Das Boot and each Lord of the Rings have cuts going for about 4 hours or more, each far superior to the theatrical version.  I suppose it’s just one more way to gip us when the movie comes out on DVD/Blu-ray (then we’ll have a longer cut for a gigantic box set that’ll make Harry Potter roll in his grave).

There were also a few small, unanswered questions I had throughout.  One of the biggest ones was what happened to Peggy from Captain America?  Sure, she probably got old and passed away, but I thought she’d at least get closure.  What also surprised me is that we never see Captain America ask about her, but we get confirmation that Thor’s love interest was flown out.  Speaking of which, what about Bruce Banner’s love interest?  We never even get a hint about her in this film.  I guess Gods really do get everything while humans get screwed over.  Sure, I’m not much for romantic subplots, but they should at least be resolved if included, instead of simply being cast aside.  Hopefully these are things that Thor 2, Captain America 2 and the next Hulk film will answer.

Also, I’m not sure if I’m alone on this, but did anyone else feel a bit of sympathy for Loki?  Yes, the film does do one hell of a job portraying how ruthless he can be, but I always got the impression he had some reluctance and was constantly trying to set it aside.

Despite my questions and quibbles, The Avengers does still stand as a fine way to start the summer off.  It might be easy to say that it’s all downhill from here for the season and superhero films, but I’d categorize the film as almost-amazing rather than flat-out awesome.  The Avengers certainly doesn’t hold a torch to The Dark Knight and I’d be surprised if The Dark Knight Rises happens to be inferior, but we are talking about very different films.  Ultimately, I’m in agreement and on the bandwagon: The Avengers is just a great film.

 

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The Dark Knight Rises: Trailer 3 & Impressions

Many fans have been skeptical but holding high hopes for what’s already one of the summer’s biggest movies.  The first two trailers for The Dark Knight Rises were somewhat scarce on details, arguably less so than those for its predecessor.  But now we have our final trailer before the third and final (?) of Nolan’s Batman films comes out.

Rather than literally say what’s in the trailer (since I’d be doing a disservice in the process), here are some details that I’ve found, as well as my actual impressions.

The slow, opening play of piano is wonderful; chilling and immediately grabbing.

Bane’s voice has been much improved over the second trailer and the prologue.  His two lines in this trailer seem to emote differently, so that’s definitely a plus.

Compared to the final trailer for The Dark Knight, there’s a good chance Bane isn’t going to have as many lines as The Joker.  But it’s clear he’s still going to have a key part in the film.

The shot of the bridges blowing up followed by people looking out windows to see falling snow seems to indicate being alone or cut off.

We’ve seen snow (or something to replicate it) between the trailers and set photos, which can be associated with a colder nature.  The snow can also be paralleled to the fact Tim Burton’s Batman Returns took place during Christmas.

It’s essentially confirmed in the trailer that Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) knows Bane, which solidifies my early suspicion that she’s been directly involved with Bane.

The very end of the trailer also shows Batman and Catwoman in the new Batpod; sounds like a team-up to me.  What I’m guessing is that Selina/Catwoman is conflicted from her possible relationship with Bane, her life and maybe something Bruce offers her.  There’s also a brief shot that shows her in a fight and Batman fighting in the background.

Of course there’s also the concern about whether Bruce/Batman dies.  At one point in the trailer, Selina’s asked by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character “did he kill him?”  The finger seems to point at him referring to Bane killing Batman.  There’s also Batman responding to Catwoman ( “you’ve given them everything”) with “not everything.  Not yet.”  It might be a long shot, but perhaps Levitt’s questioning of Selina is right at or around the end.

And we finally see Lucius is going to be in the film.  Since none of the previous trailers showed him and the fact Lucius no longer works for Bruce, it makes me wonder how he’ll still fit in.

Given the shots we’re given throughout of chaos in the streets (not to mention the blowing up of bridges and a football field), it appears that the people of Gotham and Bane’s forces are going to at their very ends here.

The building music in the second half of the trailer transitioning to the Bane Chant is just pure bliss.  A popular move to use when teasing a finale such as this, but they often work and it’s no different in this trailer.

Those are just some of my quick thoughts.  I’m definitely looking forward to this film, the trailer has left me ecstatic beyond belief, and I’m looking forward to The Avengers even more just to see this trailer on the big screen.

What do you think?  Is The Dark Knight Rises going to be the number one film this summer?  Will it be nominated for any Academy Awards?  What observations or theories do you have?  Spill your thoughts below!

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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Parallels in Time: Terminator 2 to The Terminator

Most people re-watch the films they like, often on several occasions.  For many people, including myself, the first two Terminator films are probably among the most frequently watched films of all time.  And like a book that only gets better with each subsequent reading, viewers are bound to notice things they didn’t pick up on before.  Sometimes these can even be parallels from film to film.  Combine several viewings with one’s OCD tendencies and even the most arbitrary things will match up.  And because these are films that we’ll probably never get sick of talking about, here are some parallels I’ve noticed between James Cameron’s sci-fi companions, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Parallels are not a part of my mission.

Both films open with a scene from the future.

Kyle and Sarah make their getaway in a “late model gray Ford” (the film was released in ’84); the car which the T-800, Sarah and John escape with in Terminator 2 is a similarly styled sedan.

Both Sarah (in The Terminator) and John (in Terminator 2) are attacked by the Terminator sent to kill them through the windshield of a car; the main difference being Sarah was attacked from the front of a car and John from the back.

The way the T-800 in Terminator 2 is thrown through the glass in the mall parallels the way the T-800 in The Terminator was shot through the glass by Kyle at Tech Noir.

Sarah (in The Terminator) and John both initially drive cheap, low-end motorbikes.  John’s was a dirt bike while Sarah’s was a moped.

Both films end with a shot on the road.

Much of the key stretches in both movies take place at night.

In both films, Arnold attacks three individuals at the beginning; the three punks in The Terminator and three at the bar in Terminator 2 (the man he takes clothes from, the man who attacks him with a pool stick and the man who stabs him).

How dare you pick apart our redundancies.

Both films have three chase sequences, at least one of which (in each film) involves a large truck.

In the middle of both final chase scenes, (one of) the vehicles our heroes use to flee from the Terminator/T-1000 are toppled over.

During these same chase scenes, the person attempting to ward of the Terminator (Kyle in The Terminator, Sarah in Terminator 2) is injured by a gunshot.

During the last act of both films, each Terminator sent to kill chases our heroes with a motorcycle (if briefly).

The primary gun of choice used by the protectors sent back through time (Kyle in The Terminator, the T-800 in Terminator 2) in the first half of each film is a shotgun.

In both movies, Arnold attacks several cops.  In The Terminator he kills 17 of them; in Terminator 2 he does it to scare them off without actually killing any.

Both films take place over the course of roughly 1-2 days.

Seriously, how many more can you pick out?

Both films have us watch a (pre-recorded) video of a person who tells of their “visions of the future,” if you will.  In The Terminator, it’s Kyle, who’s actually experienced the war of the future.  In Terminator 2, it’s Sarah during one of her evaluations in which she sees/imagines the nuclear fire of Judgment Day.

Both films have a brief “FPS shot.”  In The Terminator, it’s right before Arnold bursts into the motel room Sarah and Kyle shared.  In Terminator 2, it’s in the steel mill when Arnold faces the T-1000 (who attacks right after the said shot).

The first words each protector from the future says to Sarah are “come with me if you want to live.”

Arnold briefly uses a younger male’s voice to disguise himself in both films.  In The Terminator, it’s of a cop (1L19); in Terminator 2, it’s of John.

In both films, Arnold loses his sunglasses by actions of a female character (Sarah running him off his motorcycle in The Terminator and a female cop hitting him in the face in Terminator 2).  This would be repeated two more times in Terminator 3, both involving confrontations with the T-X.

When Arnold says “I’ll be back,” in both films he returns by crashing a vehicle into a building.

Sarah has at least one nightmare/vision of the future in both films (she has two in the extended cut of Terminator 2).

You think you’re clever…

Both Terminators sent to assassinate send at least one person through a wall.

Both Terminators sent to assassinate also find out where the person they’re hunting is from a phone/transmitted message.  In The Terminator, it’s Ginger’s answering machine; in Terminator 2, it’s a cop radio at Miles Dyson’s house.

Including the extended cut of Terminator 2, each film has a scene where we literally get under the skin of Arnold as a Terminator.  In the first film, Arnold cuts one of his eyes off himself.  In Terminator 2’s extended cut, Sarah and John peel off part of Arnold’s head and drill into his head to access the CPU.

And just for kicks, the black guy in both films isn’t the first one to die!

Know of any parallels between the films I missed?  Let me (and others) know below in the comment section!

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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Quote Review: Fast Five (2011)

 

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“Hell of a mess.”

You don’t need to be a fan of previous installments to enjoy Fast Five. In fact, all you really have to do is leave all logic and standards at the concession stand so that you can better enjoy it. Like most action films, it’s one that isn’t intended for being scrutinized, but rather one to get your adrenaline pumping. So as an enjoyable theater-going experience, the film is a terrific triumph.

What did you think of Fast Five?  Share your comments below!

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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