Shittin’ on the dreck of a Bay

Director Michael Bay has said in interviews that his latest film “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon” was his indirect apology to fans after the car crash that was “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen.”

He was quoted as saying of his latest: “I think our 3D works really well with the robots, the size, the girth, the weight of it… it’s spectacular.”

It seems Mr. Bay maybe confusing the words “spectacular” with “spectacle.” Continue reading

‘Green Lantern’: Van Milder

Familiarity breeds contempt. Perhaps that is the rationale behind the critical drubbing “The Green Lantern,” has received upon release. Since 2000, there have been 36 films based on comic books (about six more were created exclusively for the screen). And “Latern” is the fourth of five to be released this year alone (hell, it’s not even the first “Green” superhero in 2011. That distinction goes to January’s god-awful “Green Hornet.” ).

Comics are an easy template for filmmakers, as they already have a tale, a storyboard and a built-in audience. They have the potential for great summer diversions (“Iron Man”) or even overall excellence (“The Dark Knight”). But, as the saying goes in one particular comic-to-film translation, “with great power comes great responsibility.” The missteps have been too numerous to count (“Catwoman,” “Ghost Rider” and “Jonah Hex” immediately rush to mind), and the core audience can be particularly unforgiving, so filmmakers should approach the genre with caution.
Continue reading

Nostalgia with flair (and flares)

For the non-geek filmgoer, the term “lens flare” will mean absolutely nothing. But they will know it when they see it.

It’s a photographic technique that causes light to flatten and streak out into a horizon-like pattern that fills the screen. Director (and producer of “Super 8”) Steven Spielberg used them religiously in his earlier films of the ’70s and ’80s, as seen in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T.,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” among others.

“Super 8’s” director, J.J. Abrams, relied on them in his “Star Trek” reboot, but it wasn’t until this latest film that I realized how nostalgic that little cinematic trick made me. Continue reading

‘Priest’: Holy shit

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Welcome, parishioners! Our reading today will be from the Book of Paul (Bettany).

It’s the story of a young, striking, classically trained actor with a promising future led into temptation by the draw of the monetary gain of crappy genre films. It’s a familiar tale, originally found in the Book of Julian (Sands).

Back in the early ‘80s, Sands was the overseas thinking-woman’s hunk. Starring in two back-to-back Oscar-winning films (“The Killing Fields” and “Room with a View”), Sands was rocketing skyward. But along came a little film called “Warlock,” that changed the direction of his career. From that point, he filled his resume with films like “Witch Hunt,” “Tale of the Vampire,” and “Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunter.” Continue reading

‘Thor’: It’s hammer time!

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I must admit, for all the Avengers amassing, “Thor” was the character for whom I held the most doubt.

For the uninitiated, Marvel Comics is toiling away at an epic comic concoction filled with its bankable superheroes. Over the past few years, it has been skillfully crafting the wildly diverse origin stories of these crusaders, starting in 2008 with “Iron Man,'” followed by “The Incredible Hulk,” and concluding this summer with “Thor” and “Captain America.” They will unite next summer on screen under the direction of geek overlord Joss Whedon (“Buffy, The Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” and author of several comic book miniseries) in what is anticipated to be one of the biggest nerd-gasms the box office has seen in quite some time. Continue reading

‘Thor’: It’s hammer time!

I must admit, for all the Avengers amassing, “Thor” was the character for whom I held the most doubt.

For the uninitiated, Marvel Comics is toiling away at an epic comic concoction filled with its bankable superheroes. Over the past few years, it has been skillfully crafting the wildly diverse origin stories of these crusaders, starting in 2008 with “Iron Man,'” followed by “The Incredible Hulk,” and concluding this summer with “Thor” and “Captain America.” They will unite next summer on screen under the direction of geek overlord Joss Whedon (“Buffy, The Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” and author of several comic book miniseries) in what is anticipated to be one of the biggest nerd-gasms the box office has seen in quite some time. Continue reading

Saving the best for ‘Fast’

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“Fast Five” is like “Inception” created for a“Jersey Shore” audience.

What is more shocking than that union is that it’s not a bad move. It only took producers five tries, but it seems this one gets it right.

For we are now in our fifth outing with the gears, girls and guns franchise known originally as “The Fast and the Furious,” and for all intents and purposes, the treads on the series’ tires should be quite thin by now. But somehow, “Five” defies common cinematic laws and manages to become the most entertaining, coherent and flat-out fun installment to date. Continue reading

My super-sweet assassination

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Sorry Miley, but if I am looking for a heroine named Hanna for my little girl, I’m heading here.

Isolated deep in a German forest with her father Erik (played by Eric Bana), the eponymous lead of “Hanna” is taught, in feral-like fashion, to defend herself in any possible situation and survive on her own if anything were to happen to her father.

We soon learn the reason for this extreme approach to child rearing — Erik is a former CIA operative who suddenly went dark, carrying with him some very incriminating information. Continue reading

Donnie Not-So-Darko

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Director Duncan Jones deserves a lot of accolades for his attempt to resurrect old-school sci-fi.

In 2009’s “Moon,” Jones took a minimalist approach to the genre, with Sam Rockwell as a lunar miner facing a tough final mission before returning to family on Earth.

He was given a substantially bigger budget with “Source Code,” but still keeps the story scaled down, focusing on a specific eight-minute chunk of time which our hero must repeatedly relive in order to prevent a disaster. While it’s tempting to slap a “Bomb-Strapped-Groundhog’s Day” label on this thriller (which is not entirely unfair, mind you), Jones and writer Ben Ripley have coiled things tightly enough in “Code’s” runtime that it establishes its own identity before its final-act fizzle. Continue reading

MGM roars back with… A shit load of remakes and sequels?

I know a lion’s gotta eat, but this is a bit ridiculous.

At the same time it was announced that 2011 is now the most sequelly year ever (27 are slated, which translates to one every other week), we were greeted without the news that MGM pulled itself from the bowels of bankruptcy by announcing five remakes/continuations.

It’s understandable that the studio would dust off some chestnuts to ensure some box-office familiarity, but others seem like curious choices to trumpet it’s return.

Here’s what’s in the works:

“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters”: A 3-D futuristic retelling of the Brothers Grimm fable (which was most notably made at the tail end of the Cannon era and starred David Warner and Cloris Leachman). This remake is to be co-financed by Paramount and will star Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton.

“Mr. Mom”: This is one I can totally see, and while I hold fond memories for the original, it’s by no means beloved. Of course, its premise is not as novel anymore (a father? Home raising his children? Absurd!!!), it’s always fun to see ill-prepared dads dealing with the toddlers.

“The Idolmaker”: Another one that is fair game, but a curious choice, indeed. Taylor Hackford’s all-but-forgotten 1980 flick based on the life of Bob Marcucci, who discovered Fabian and Frankie Avalon. The new version will be retrofitted for the “American Idol” generation, but details beyond that are sketchy.

“Robocop”: Ouch. This stings. The beloved Detroit officer that runs on Microsoft Office, had threatened to hit screens last year, with Darren Aronofsky taking over for Paul Verhoven as director. Aronofsky has since moved on to pick up the “Wolverine” sequel (an equally depressing thought) and is now said to be getting his religion on afterward with an adaptation of “Noah” (really?).

“Poltergeist”: Another film that has long been in the rumor mill is set to return with a fresh coat of paint. Have filmmakers learned nothing from the “Poltergeist” curse?(http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/poltergeist.asp).

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