Upcoming Movies – July 2010
Just to clarify, this is not a list of My Eagerly Anticipated movies, just an observation of what we see coming to us in the future. (Though some of them of course I will look forward to seeing.) In no particular order, here is the Upcoming Movies – July 2010 post.
Johnny Depp has been compared to a chameleon many times before, but it was usually in reference to his immersive acting techniques. Here he plays one, or at least voices one. Gore Vebrinski directs this animated film, which is apparently about a chameleon with an identity crisis. All I can say is the trailer makes it look hilarious.
Release Date: March 4, 2011 —– TRAILER —–
—– Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & Part 2-—-
I will definitely admit to being a bit of a Potter fan, and while the first teaser did not really draw me in, this one certainly does. Apparently this shows footage from both Part 1 and Part 2 of the movie (as they are releasing the final book as two movies). Daniel Radcliffe looks suitably out for revenge, and the movie looks plain great. Here’s hoping it has a darn sight better pacing than the last film, which tottered dangerously on the edge of being boring in parts.
Release Date: November 19, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
…and the franchise continues with another cleverly named (?) movie starring Ben Stiller. That’s all I have to say about that I guess.
—– Release Date: December 22, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
—– Despicable Me —–
With this film I am somewhat reminded of the good old days when Pixar and Dreamworks would each release a similar film close to each other (Finding Nemo and Shark Tale, A Bug’s Life and Antz). Now Dreamworks and Universal are going at it. Personally my vote is with this, the Universal effort. Steve Carrell always elevates his material (see Date Night), and the rest of the cast is nothing to laugh at. Or, I guess, hopefully will be. “It’s so fluffy!”
Release Date: July 9, 2011 —– TRAILER —–
First of all I must say that I love this poster. It is unique, and its retro design is awesome. The movie itself seems to be George Clooney in Michael Clayton mode, but maybe… maybe a bit too much so. I really hope this movie is good, as I think George is one of our best leading men, especially in respect to the pictures he chooses. Good Night, and Good Luck was incredible, Michael Clayton was very good, here’s hoping this will be good as well.
Release Date: September 1, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
Here is the second half of that Dreamworks/Universal showdown. The Dreamworks entry is Megamind, starring Will Ferrel and Brad Pitt (apparently doing a George Clooney impression, I could have sworn it was Clooney.) This looks like it relies a bit too much on Will Ferrel’s improv, which never appealed to me that much I must admit. One can hope though!
Release Date: November 5, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
What did we do to deserve this? I pity the real critics who will HAVE to sit through this. As a blogger I don’t have to. Thank God.
Release Date: July 30, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
I’ve never read the graphic novel that this is based on. Apparently is has a ton of geek cred, and I have to admit I love the all out style of this trailer. And the tagline is great, perfectly encapsulating the style and nerd appeal of the movie. “An epic of epic epicness”. Too cool. Or nerdy… Ah, same thing.
Release Date: August 13, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
Of all the movies on this list, I think this is the one that I am really hoping is good. Matt Damon is an extremely dependable leading man, and I generally love Phillip K. Dick adaptations. Emily Blunt is good too, and we have Terrence Stamp making an appearance too. The director, George Nolfi, wrote The Bourne Ultimatum. However the trailer seems a bit… off. Cross fingers…
Release Date: September 17, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
I don’t know, I think this looks rather decent. It isn’t relying on marketing its voice actors, which is a good sign, I think. The cast includes Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, two quality actors. I found myself chuckling during the trailer I have to admit.
Release Date: April 8, 2011 —– TRAILER —–
I enjoyed the first Narnia movie, but the second wasn’t quite as good. I think the trend is continuing. This kids in this series would need the acting abilities of the Harry Potter cast, and I don’t think we really have that here. Listen to the reading of the line “Not in this world”. Cringe. And not to be a little snot, but there are WAY too many things in the trailer that just simply are not in the book. The White Witch? She died in the first one, and this makes the second time they’ve tried to shoehorn her into a book she is not part of. Add that to pretty unconvincing CGI… Oh well. Maybe sometime someone will get these adored books right. Or at least, make good movies out of them.
Release Date: December 10, 2010 —– TRAILER —–
What do you think? Interested in any of these? Any other upcoming movies you really want to see? Leave a comment!
The Karate Kid REVIEW
Director – Harald Zwart
Cast – Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Hansen, Zhenwei Wang
The 1984 movie The Karate Kid gets an update with 2010’s The Karate Kid. The name stays the same, despite the fact that the actual martial art portrayed here is kung-fu. Jaden Smith, son (and, I suspect, clone) of Will Smith replaces Ralph Macchio as the young student, and Jackie Chan replaces Pat Morita as the patient yet troubled teacher.
The plot deals with Smith who moves to China (due to his mother being transferred), and finds himself being bullied by a kung-fu student in his class. After Chan tries to intervene with the boys teacher, Smith is entered in an open kung-fu tournament as a way to reclaim his honour (or something). Chan takes the boy on and trains him for the tournament.
I must admit to being a little surprised by the movie. It was better than I was expecting. Jackie Chan is very good, every time he is onscreen we watch him. He is a wonderful actor. Jaden Smith is also good, though he does come across as strikingly similar to his father, down to the smallest of mannerisms. However he knows how to create an interesting, grounded character. The opening of the movie is measured and deliberate, paced wonderfully. No shot is wasted, but it doesn’t whip by too quick either. The setup is clean and efficient, as is quite entertaining.
The training sequences of the movie are also quite good. Jaden Smith’s character is a bit of an arrogant prick, and we enjoy watching Jackie Chan take him down a notch or two. The device that replaces the famous “wax on, wax off” is very interesting. We almost believe that this little kid would truly be able to learn what Chan is teaching him.
We do, that is, until the tournament itself . This is unfortunately one of the worst failings of the movie. We have seen what Jaden has been taught, and yet the things we see him do are absolutely unbelievable. The move which replaces the fabled (and made up) “crane kick” of the first film is just laughable in its complexity. It was straight out of The Matrix, and of course, was out of tone with the rest of the movie.
The other huge flaw with the movie is its pace. After the first 45 minutes it starts to drag, and drag hard. I think the movie could have easily lost half an hour without a sweat. The Karate Kid was co-financed by the China Film Group, and as such we are “treated” to lengthy sequences showcasing Chinese monastic culture, the Great Wall, etc. These definitely could have been cut, as with a scene where Chan takes Smith to a monastery which features a spiritual healing well (or something).
The Karate Kid is a movie with its heart in the right place, but unfortunately it is hampered by its extremely slow pace and a couple unbelievable kung-fu sequences. The actors are quite good, but in the end the movie doesn’t quite live up to its premise’s possibilities.
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Toy Story 3 REVIEW
Director – Lee Ulrich
Cast – Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, John Ratzsenberger, Joan Cussack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Morris, Jodi Benson, Emily Hahn
– follows Toy Story 2
I must admit to not being a huge fan of the Toy Story movies. They are good, but I have never been particularly impressed when it comes to the adventures of Woody, Buzz, and Co. Pixar is of course a good studio who regularly turn out decent and excellent material. Monsters Inc. is probably my favorite of theirs, and I very much enjoyed Ratatouille and Wall-E. Up was a bit underwhelming to me personally, but found great critical success elsewhere. So I must say that for me, Toy Story 3 falls in the category of good but not stellar.
The story starts with Andy, the toys owner, growing up and moving off to college. The toys find themselves shipped to a day care, which is ruled with a plush iron hand by a huge stuffed bear named Lotso. Woody finds himself separated from the others, and journeys back to save them and their trust in Andy, whom they believe has rejected them.
This movie is funny, perhaps more funny than the first two. It also packs the most emotional punch. One scene, where Woody and Co. bravely prepare themselves for certain death in a trash incinerator, is very moving. The origin tale of Lotso’s bitterness is both funny and sad, and the clown who tells the story is priceless. The movie loses ground I find, when it packs on the sugary, treacley, saccharine sweetness (as only Disney can). The ending was, I feel, over-played, and would have been greater if played with the simplicity of the similar ending scene from Monster’s Inc. Less is more, and I don’t think that rule was followed enough here. Or in the Toy Story franchise in general.
This film also feels quite similar to the first sequel, Toy Story 2. We again have a scene where a toy is left behind by its owner, and Buzz once again is put back to his orignal factory setting for comedic effect. Woody is perhaps sidelined a little more than he should have been also. These are fairly minor quibbles however, in a movie that will certainly leave kids and most adults more than satisfied. I just hate it when movies like this are unjustly (in my view) given the title of Best Threequel Ever, etc. It was good, but not that good.
And of course, being a Pixar film, there is a short film preceding Toy Story 3. This one is called Night and Day, and is about… well its about two people wo are made of the same shot but one is day and the other is night. Realizing that explains virtually nothing, I will say it is about recognizing the differences and similarities in each other and respecting each other for them. It’s good, but doesn’t quite live up to the full potential of its premise. It is definitely… well, unique.
Toy Story 3 is an entertaining and emotional ending to the Toy Story saga. It does try to milk its ending a bit too much though, and felt a tad repetitive. But otherwise this is an excellent family film (that is perhaps over-rated), and will be sure to entertain most audiences in that special way only Pixar can.
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Kelly’s Heroes REVIEW
Director – Brian G. Hutton
Cast – Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Carroll O’Connell, Donald Sutherland, Gavin McLeod, Harry Dean Stanton, Len Lesser
Kelly’s Heroes features Clint Eastwood as an Army officer who discovers the location of a bank which contains millions of dollars in Nazi gold. With WW II in full swing around him, Kelly gathers a few men, including Donald Sutherland as a tremendously entertaining pseudo hippie tank commander, and plunges behind enemy lines toward the loot.
Kelly’s Heroes reunited Clint with his Where Eagles Dare director for a movie which is decidedly more fun and generally better than the former. It is a simple movie that uses its premise well, never really diving into the motivation of the war or its participants. This is essentially a heist film, the only difference being that in this film the heroes can kill with a clear conscience, because hey, they’re just Nazi’s. For some reason Nazi’s make great villains, as proven by the Indiana Jones franchise. This is probably because they have great uniforms, a menacing accent and their ideology is repugnant. No one need feel a thing when rows of them are gunned down, or at least that is the tone this movie takes.
The performances are key to the movie. Donald Sutherland is a wonderful standout as the possibly deranged and aptly named Sgt. Oddball. Carroll O’Connor (“All in the Family’s” Archie Baker) has a great extended cameo as a Major General who mistakenly thinks that Kelly and Co. are merely pressing forward out of pure courage, and Telly Savalas plays Kelly’s tough commander. Also, keep a look out for Harry Dean Stanton (later to appear in Alien), and a younger Len Lesser, who would go on to play Uncle Leo in “Seinfeld”.
I read on Wikipedia that this film is considered one of the movies released to cash in on the success of The Dirty Dozen, produced 3 years before. I find that interesting, as both Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland were in The Dirty Dozen, and prove their range here by playing totally different characters.
Clint Eastwood is perhaps not as good as the rest in his role, as he takes his usual hard, tough, annoyingly quiet character and almost parodies it. I guess I have never been as fond of Eastwood’s acting as others seem to have been. It looked like he was trying to be cool and tough, rather than letting his actions speak for themselves. In A Fistful of Dollars and its sequels this style fitted the tone of the movie perfectly. Here, not so much.
Kelly’s Heroes is tough, funny, energetic, and brawny. The acting is great, except for Eastwood, and the movie never forgets to have fun. It is very much a “guy’s movie”, along the line of The Dirty Dozen, though this one has a bit more of a satirical edge. I would recommend this to most people, especially if they have a fondness for the war movies of this era, which I must admit to. With a more charismatic lead this would have been better, but it is still an admirable and fun flick.
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Star Trek: First Contact REVIEW
Director – Jonathan Frakes
Cast – Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, James Cromwell, Alice Krige
– follows Star Trek: Generations
– followed by Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: First Contact is the eighth Star Trek movie, and the second to feature the cast of the Next Generation. It is directed by Jonathan Frakes, who plays Commander Riker, which makes it the fourth to be directed by a cast member, (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home were directed by Leanord Nimoy, who played Spock, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was directed by William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk.) The plot is set in motion when Captain Picard and Co. are sucked into a time warp with evil Borgs, who are intent on stopping a historic space flight which initiated first contact between humans and the Vulcans.
There is a myth which every Trekkie knows, that every even-numbered Star Trek movie will be good, and every odd-numbered one is destined to be bad. This certainly would seem to apply, given Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, all of which were great, while the ones in between are mediocre to awful.
Now I will admit that most people would have included Star Trek: First Contact in that list as an example of an excellent Trek movie. I however, always remember not being as fond of this film as others are. Having recently re-watched it I have no choice but to say that my memory has served me right. The film is certainly quickly paced, and features an interesting side character in James Cromwell, but the whole thing to me felt a little trite and uninteresting.
I am usually fairly skeptical about time travel plots in movies, and this one is one of the worst uses of it I have ever seen. Time travel opens up so many problems that it should be dealt with carefully, especially in a franchise. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ran into this problem as well. The biggest problem raised with time travel is as follows: if you can go in time, why not go back and kill the villains before the events of the story? Why don’t Picard and his crew go back before the Borg arrive, and ambush them? Why not go back to the big ol’ battle and join forces with their “past selves” and help defeat the Borg? Hell, why don’t the Borg do that? etc etc. Instead of the seriousness with which this should be treated (it was done half decently in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), we essentially have the characters (after having been “stuck in the past” for days,) suddenly saying “Well, that was fun! Now lets head back home, put in the time travel coordinates!” and off they go! Weeeeeeee, time travel sure is fun and full of absolutely no consequences, eh Picard! Excuse me while I take a dump on any resemblance of dramatic urgency. Weeeeeeee!
All of this could have been excused if, as in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the movie was entertaining or made us feel for the characters. Instead, this felt like one long TV episode. The characters come across as dull and uninteresting, and we never feel that the characters or the Enterprise ship are ever in danger. The plot comes in half hour bursts, reinforcing the feeling that we are watching TV.
A subplot features Data, the android of the ship, being taunted by the movie’s “villain” (if she can be said to be so), a Borg queen. She knows he desires to be human, and gives him a skin graft on his arm. This could have been an interesting topic, that of a machine wishing to be human, but here we are treated to one cliché after another. These scenes were boring as heck.
Some aspects of the film are solid, granted. The special effects, despite seeing them almost fifteen years later, still hold up. James Cromwell is a welcome little splash of colour as the drunk, misunderstood pilot of the spaceship which initiates first contact. His character has some degree of dimension, and is quite funny to boot. Watching him try to welcome the calm and serene Vulcans to Earth with booze and rock music was hilarious and yet touching in a strange sort of way…
Star Trek: First Contact is well produced, but its story is sadly lacking, with no feeling of risk to the characters, and with too many discrepancies. James Cromwell is fun, and the rest of the cast do what they can. But the writing here is lazy at best. Trekkies may enjoy it (in fact, most of them do). Personally, I can’t really recommend it.
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