Friday, April 30, 2010

Chris Hemsworth is Thor (photographic proof of said statement below).

Obviously this is just a single image, staged and lit for maximum dramatic effect, but it looks pretty solid to me. I couldn't care less about the character of Thor, as my education on the character primarily comes from a viewing of Hulk Vs. Thor. But, as I've said before, I genuinely excited about the movie for one reason - it's insanely large cast. I'm excited for any movie that gathers Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Stellan Skarsgard, Anthony Hopkins, and Rene Russo in one place. As for Kenneth Branagh, I'm the guy who will fight tooth and nail to defend Mary Shelly's Frankenstein any day of the week.

Scott Mendelson

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jonah Hex gets a perfectly decent trailer.

I wrote at length about this picture's troubled history and my thoughts on the comparably truncated marketing campaign elsewhere, so I won't rehash that here. So, now that we have a real trailer, how does it look? Well, unless there was real doubt about the June 18th release date, or most of this footage came from re-shoots, there is no reason why Warner couldn't have had this trailer in theaters months ago. For better or worse, it looks and sounds exactly like a Jonah Hex movie. It's absurdly violent and with just enough sci-fi/supernatural goofiness to suggest an R-rated Wild Wild West. Josh Brolin fits to a tee and it's always a hoot to see John Malkovich in this kind of big-studio villain role. For what it's worth, Megan Fox actually appears to be a full-on participant in at least a few action beats. The seemingly meaty supporting appearance of Lance Reddick (Fringe) is a welcome surprise as well. The whole project gives a vibe of over-the-top, trashy pulp fiction, which is exactly what this film should feel like. Again, I'm not really sure why anyone at Warner is so worried about this. Even if it is terrible, the marketing department is doing its job just fine at the moment, and that's all that will matter come opening weekend.

Scott Mendelson

Guest Review - A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

Once again, I'm poaching (with permission) friend and colleague RL Shaffer's review of a movie that he has seen before myself. In this case, it's the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. The film finally screened last night, but since my wife wants to see it too, it was too much of a hassle (re - babysitter and weeknight traffic) just to see it two days early. I will likely check it out Friday night or, if work runs over, Saturday night. Anyway, here is RL Shaffer of DVD Future giving us his take on A Nightmare On Elm Street:

A Nightmare On Elm Street
95 minutes
Rated R

by RL Shaffer

Caution: Some Spoilers Ahead

Whenever a remake arrives, critics are faced with a problem: judge the film against its predecessors, or judge it as a standalone work. It's a catch-22. Judge a film as it's own thing and you miss points that might make it an unworthy companion to the original feature. Compare it to the original, though, and you'll look like a nostalgia snob who only likes films from the 1970s and 1980s. And this is what makes judging this remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street so hard, particularly since I'm not against the idea of any remake as long as there's a fresh, exciting story to tell. But, in a way, this latest Nightmare is suffering from the same problem critics often have. The film seems to be attempting, with some effort, to be it's own new vehicle for Freddy Krueger, but it feels completely trapped within the confines and rules of the original film's best gags.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inception viral game reveals new poster...

It's a pretty low-resolution image, so I'm sure a bigger, prettier version will be online in the next forty-eight hours or so. In the meantime, enjoy...

Scott Mendelson

Jonah Hex gets a new poster. A case for not fixing broken films and shorter marketing campaigns.

After near complete silence and less than two months to go, Warner Bros finally is to start the official marketing campaign for Jonah Hex. Envisioned first as a vehicle for Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank, Crank: Full Voltage, Gamer), the DC Comics adaptation eventually fell into the lap of Jimmy Hayward (the animated Horton Hears A Who). However, reshoots and various sorts of behind-scenes-drama seems to have caused Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend) to come aboard as a 'consultant'. Whether or not he completely took over the film is a question I cannot answer, but the result is a much-feared final product that has been curiously absent from the springtime summer movie ad parade. On paper, this project looked pretty smart: a violent, supernatural (?) western based on a cult DC Comics character, with an interesting cast (Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, and Aiden Quinn as President William McKinley) and a $50 million budget that allowed the film to not have to set any records in order to be successful.

Bill Condon officially signed to direct Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.

After months of speculation, Summit Entertainment has finally landed Oscar-nominee Bill Condon (nominated for writing Gods and Monsters and Dreamgirls respectively) to helm the final book of the Twilight series, the much-debated Breaking Dawn. There is still no word as to whether the book will be split up into two films ala Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The principal cast members would likely have much negotiating power if such a move were to take place, so Summit would have to weigh the cost of paying Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner giant raises versus the likely cash cow that would be one more Twilight picture. I can only presume that Bill Condon will be directing all of Breaking Dawn whether the book is adapted into one or two pictures. This likely puts Condon's theoretical next picture, Richard Pryor: Is it Something I Said? with Marlon Wayans as the groundbreaking stand-up comic, on the back-burner for at least the next year.

Piranha 3D gets a trailer.

Dimension is releasing this campy cheese-fest on August 27th, and I might see it just for the nutso cast. It's beyond wonderful to see Christopher Lloyd in a seemingly sizable role again. Believe it or not, the man who was Judge Doom and Doc Brown has not been seen in theaters since My Favorite Martian, Baby Geniuses, and Man on the Moon (where he basically played himself on the set of Taxi) all back in 1999 (he did voice over work in Hey Arnold!: The Movie and Fly Me to the Moon in 2002 and 2008 respectively). Joining him for this Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors) vehicle is Elizabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Dina Meyer, Jerry O'Connell, and one Richard Dreyfuss. Mr. Dreyfuss is also an infrequent visitor to our silver screens, so any project he chooses (like the 2006 Poseidon remake) automatically makes it a mini-event. The movie itself looks relatively stupid, and there's just no way it can possibly measure up with the astounding awesomeness that is Mega Piranha.

Scott Mendelson

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: The Human Centipede (2010)

The Human Centipede
92 minutes
not rated
Available on IFC On Demand on April 28th, in theaters April 30th.

by Scott Mendelson

The Human Centipede is a textbook example of a film peaking too soon. At its core, it's a standard horror film about pretty young people who get lost in a foreign land and fall prey to unspeakable evil. The film works, up to a point, due to the matter of fact presentation of said deviousness. Alas, after a stunningly strong first half, the film has nowhere to go and nothing of interest to say, leaving the remaining running time to simply observe unimaginable suffering and seemingly pointless cruelty.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon retakes top spot in fifth weekend, while Back Up Plan and Losers open softly. Weekend box office review (04/25/10)

Apologies for the delay for this weekend's box office write-up. Real life got in the way.

If at first you don't succeed... After narrowly missing a return to first place last weekend, Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon easily took the top spot in its fifth frame. This is the first movie to return to number 01 since The Passion of the Christ over Easter weekend 2004 (its seventh weekend). How to Train Your Dragon joins such rare company as Forrest Gump, Jerry Maguire, and Signs. Dropping 21%, the critically-acclaimed and just-plain awesome cartoon earned another $15.3 million (the eighth-biggest fifth weekend of all-time). The picture has amassed $178 million stateside and $372 million worldwide. Domestically, it's running ahead of every single non-Shrek Deamworks cartoon outside of Kung Fu Panda. On a weekend-by-weekend scale, it's nearly doubled the fifth weekend of every other such Dreamworks film (Kung Fu Panda made $7.3 million in its fifth weekend and Monsters Vs. Aliens made $8.5 million in the same period respectively). Even Shrek and Shrek 2 could only muster $13 million on their respective fifth weekends, while Shrek the Third grossed $9 million in weekend five. Ironically, the dragon fable is showing such strong legs that Dreamworks may end up shooting itself in the foot when it steals away the 3D screens on May 21st for the likely quick-kill theatrical blitz of Shrek Forever After. Shrek 4 surely will open huge, but theaters prefer leggier hits as opposed to massively front-loaded blockbusters. Don't be surprised if Dreamworks keeps How to Train Your Dragon in at least a token number of 3D screens after the fourth Shrek picture debuts. Come what may, this is a remarkable run for a surprisingly good movie.

Review: Harry Brown (2010)

Harry Brown
103 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

Harry Brown is, on the surface, a vigilante picture in the mold of Outlaws, Death Wish or The Brave One. It concerns an ordinary man fed up with rampant crime and unable or unwilling to trust the local authorities to stem the tide. But the film is really about social disconnect, and the trauma that can occur when no one feels connected to their peers. When no one feels any connection to those around them, it is only that much easier to victimize or ignore the plight of our neighbors. There is also a token nod to the futility of the 'war on drugs', and how much collateral damage it has created. But, for those who don't care about the 'deeper meanings', it also works as a violent action drama about Michael Caine taking the law into his own hands. Whichever suits your pleasure.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender gets a final trailer (and why 3D might actually be a good thing this time).

Now that's more like it... After a useless teaser last July, a compelling but brief Super Bowl spot, and a confusing and flat first trailer earlier this year, Paramount has finally cut something that feels like a summer contender. Granted, I'm a bit biased as I desperately want Shyamalan to knock this out of the park and re-establish himself, but I won't pretend that I was impressed with the listless first trailer. This final preview has somewhat restored my confidence in this do-or-die project. The trailer lays out the general narrative in a clear and comprehensible fashion, every major character gets a few highlight moments, and the visuals look absolutely dynamite. I love that the action beats are all shot in wide shots and edited with long and fluid takes.

Yes, in general I roll my eyes when I hear that the latest genre picture is going to be 'going 3D', but the I can't imagine that a visual perfectionist like M. Night Shyamalan would allow his film to be converted if he wasn't happy with the test results. For the moment, I'm going to be optimistic and presume that the 3D conversion is a sign of confidence over the wildly colorful spectacle on display and not a way to compensate with quality issues (Clash of the Titans, The Green Hornet). Point being, the images on display in this latest trailer are just the kind of thing I'd actually want to see in 3D. As always, we'll see...

Scott Mendelson

Friday, April 23, 2010

Twilight Saga: Eclipse gets a final trailer.

This is the trailer that apparently debuted on the Oprah Winfrey Show this afternoon. As expected, this final tease showcases a much larger scale of action and alleged adventure. The pace is brisk, and would-be money shots are plentiful (the opening moments feel like a real horror film), and there is almost a complete downplaying of the core love triangle. This third trailer seems to be (stereotypically) aimed at boys who will likely be dragged by their significant other on opening weekend when they'd rather be checking out M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender (not that a PG-rated adaptation of a Nickelodeon adventure cartoon screams 'hard-core' either, but I digress). The preview seems to be saying "Yes, this time exciting stuff actually happens other than backwoods brooding" as well as "Yes, THIS is why we paid for those IMAX screens." Still, at the end of the day it's a Twilight film, so don't expect Avatar-quality special effects or Red Cliff-scale battle scenes. It will be interesting to see whether the IMAX ticket-price bump will offset the scathing general-audience reaction to New Moon (IE - the first film was much better) over opening weekend. As always, we'll see.

Scott Mendelson

Blu Ray review: Avatar (2010)

You can find my original theatrical review of Avatar here. The bare-bones Blu Ray contains the HD version of the movie and a standard-def DVD copy as well. To the surprise of no one, the Blu Ray looks astounding and sounds breathtaking, using up about 41 gigs of the 50 gig disc. No shock here, the 2D image is gorgeous, actually resembling 3D imagery more often than not. No extras, so nothing to report there. If you just want the 2D theatrical cut of the film, you could much worse than this. Otherwise, we all know there will be a least a couple re-releases down the line. And that's about all you need to know. Great movie, terrific looking and sounding disc, no extras. The rest is up to you.

Scott Mendelson

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Amanda Seyfried: the official superhero counter-programming of our time.

Apparently the only weapon that rival studios have against the onslaught of major genre pictures is one Amanda Seyfried. She helped open Mama Mia! to $28 million against the record-setting $158 million opening weekend of The Dark Knight back in July 2008. She helped Dear John open to $32 million back in February of this year, knocking Avatar out of the top spot in its seventh weekend. Now, her latest film, Letters From Juliet, will be getting a national sneak preview on Sunday, May 9th. Of course, as we all know, May 7th is the opening day of Iron Man 2, which itself is a strong contender to steal The Dark Knight's opening weekend crown (unlike the first film, there are no advance-night, pre-12:01 screenings planned, meaning Paramount wants a nice, clean opening-weekend record). The picture actually opens on May 14th, against Ridley Scott's Gladiator II... err... Robin Hood. Don't be too surprised if Summit's lower-budget romantic drama makes waves against Universal's apparent been there-done that rehash. A dark, violent, revisionist Robin Hood with modern-day sensibilities... I loved that in 1991 when it was called Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (obviously, I'll be the first to eat 'crowe' if it's anywhere near as good as Kingdom of Heaven).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Angelina Jolie, Salt, and the incredibly sexist double-standard in action movies.

The cover story of this year's Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview concerns the behind the scenes scoop of the new espionage thriller Salt, directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Much of the 1.5 page article is a group 'pat on the back' for the seemingly amazing progressiveness symbolized by the fact that Angelina Jolie ended up playing an action hero originally written for a male star like Tom Cruise (he bailed when the script began to too closely resemble a Mission: Impossible picture). Fair enough, such a thing really shouldn't be a big deal in 2010 and the fact that they are falling over themselves in self-congradulation is the very opposite of progressive. But the real kicker occurs at the top of page 38. A direct quote:

"In the original script, there was a huge sequence where Edwin Salt (the original male protagonist) saves his wife, who's in danger," says Noyce. "And what we found in the new script, it seemed to castrate his character a little. So we had to change the nature of that relationship." In the end, Salt's husband, played by German actor August Diehl (Inglourious Basterds), was made tough enough that he didn't need saving, thank you much.

So, hidden in an article centering around just how the making of Salt is oh-so empowering for female action heroes is this tidbit. To put it in plainer terms, the filmmakers believe that it was perfectly OK for the spouse to be rescued from mortal danger if said love-interest was a girl, but not if the spouse was a man. So it's great if the action hero is a girl, as long as they don't have to opportunity to one-up any male counterparts and/or reverse the oldest cliche in the action-film handbook. Saying that girls can be portrayed as helpless damsels in distress but boys can't is about as old-school sexist as one can get.

Scott Mendelson

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick-Ass duels How to Train Your Dragon in photo-finish. Death at a Funeral opens well, Avatar still around. Weekend box office review (04/18/10)

To the surprise of many who obviously had no idea how the movie business works, Kick-Ass did not in fact set the movie-going world on fire this weekend. Despite all the foaming at the mouth by geeks for the last year and the wagging fingers of moral indignation over the picture's somewhat taboo content, the movie performed like a high-end Lionsgate release with a $19.8 million first-place finish. As I wrote yesterday when discussing the $7.5 million opening day, Lionsgate films generally have a ceiling at this point in time. Sure the Tyler Perry films and the Saw sequels can and often do open above $30 million. Madea Goes to Jail cracked $41 million last year. But if you take out the Saw sequels and the Tyler Perry melodramas, Lionsgate's highest-grossing opening was the $23.9 million debut of Fahrenheit 9/11. After that, you have last year's surprising $23 million debut of the PG-13 horror drama The Haunting in Connecticut. After that, it's all $21 million and downward. The critically-acclaimed Russell Crowe/Christan Bale western 3:10 to Yuma couldn't crack $15 million. The much buzzed-about return of Stallone's Rambo couldn't break $19 million. So anyone who thought that a Lionsgate-distributed, original, R-rated action comedy based on a generally unknown property and aimed at a specific audience (young, comic book-worshiping males) would somehow open to $30 or $40 million just wasn't doing the math.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kick-Ass opens with a completely expected $7.5 million Friday.

Lesson - "It's the studio, stupid". With a $7.5 million opening day, it looks like Kick-Ass is performing exactly like a top-line Lionsgate picture that isn't a Saw sequel or Tyler Perry film. Take those two franchises away, and Lionsgate has never had an opening weekend above $23.9m (Fahrenheit 9/11). After that and the unexpectedly high $23m debut of The Haunting in Connecticut, Lionsgate films are all $21m and below. I'm not sure why anyone thought Lionsgate could somehow pull a rabbit out of its hat with a film that was specifically aimed at a small audience (getting banned by Carmike Cinemas didn't help either). Like Snakes on a Plane, this is a $35 million picture that was always intended to be a cult film, but was inexplicably predicted to break out by a media that still thinks that hardcore geeks are worth tens of millions in opening weekend box office. A commenter correctly compared the hard-core geek audience to the Tea Party; a small and vocal minority dominating the media coverage but not making much real-world impact. This thing was basically Rambo ($6.6m first day, $18m opening weekend) with more controversy, and that's about how its playing. No big deal, the film will still make money in the long run. It's just a case of box office pundits not doing the math/history before making predictions. Anyone who thought this non-sequel, non-established franchise, R-rated cult-film from a AAA minor-league studio would somehow open to $30 million or $40 million was completely insane.

Scott Mendelson

Friday, April 16, 2010

FYI - Avatar returns to IMAX 3D at AMC...

If you care, AMC is having late-night IMAX Avatar showings, if only for this weekend. Unless you need one last hurrah before the April 22nd DVD/Blu Ray release, I suggest you wait for the all-but-announced re-release that will likely commence either at the end of this summer or sometime in the fall. Said re-release will likely have a chunk of new footage, so in this case, fortune favors the patient. None the less, if you want it, here you go...

Scott Mendelson

Forrest for the Trees... How some critics missed the complexity of Hit Girl, and why some criticisms are rooted in accidental sexism.

I don't think Kick-Ass is a masterpiece and I don't have issues with critics who choose not to like it. But what troubles me is how much of the criticism revolves around the simplistic and wrong-headed criticism of the character of Hit Girl. I've written from time to time about critics and pundits being so blinded by state-of-the-art special effects that they were unable to see the real movie that those effects supported. The critics in question would completely ignore the character work, storytelling, and/or social significance at work in films such as The Matrix, Beowulf, or Speed Racer, and then rip the films for being soulless, empty-headed FX spectacles. Ironically enough, when many of these films came to DVD, critics would find themselves SHOCKED to discover that those missing elements where right there in front of them, but that had missed them on the big screen due to the overwhelming razzle-dazzle.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TV Review: Mega Piranha (2010)

Mega Piranha
90 minutes
not rated

by Scott Mendelson

Mega Piranha is everything Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus wanted to be but wasn't. It is completely entertaining from start to finish. It has just enough of a budget and just enough production values to actually deliver the trashy goods. It is generally terrible, but never insulting and never dull. It is an absolute laugh riot because it achieves that delicate balancing act between taking its world seriously and acknowledging its absurdity. The film never cheats by winking at the audience, and it never seems to be trying to make a camp classic. The film premiered on the SyFy Channel last Saturday and comes to DVD on April 27th. While I would never call Mega Piranha 'good' by any reasonable artistic standard, it is the most fun I've had with a live-action movie all year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When legend becomes fact, print the legend. Or, when movie gossip/rumor becomes movie news, what does movie news become?

I've complained here and there over the last month or so about my inability to actually cover real movie news as it breaks. By that, I mean so much news is reported as a 'rumor' or 'allegedly' or 'kinda-sorta/probably', that I'm loathe to actually believe it. But since the Internet runs on being first above being right, there is an inclination to run every rumor you hear and then take credit for breaking the one or two that turned out to be true. So while I'd love to tell you how great it is that Brad Bird may be directing Mission: Impossible IV, said 'news' is still a rumor. And while I'd love to share my thoughts on Logan Lerman playing Spider-Man in the Marc Webb reboot, said 'scoop' may not even be true at this point. And let's face it, by the time either of those stories are confirmed as fact, most of the readership will have moved on to the 'next big rumor'. So do I comment on the rumors and hope they turn out true? Or do I wait for official confirmation and hope you still care to hear my thoughts?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tina Fey returns to Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.

Everyone and their sister is going to embed the Sarah Palin sketch from last night's Saturday Night Live, so I'm tossing up this clip, in which Tina Fey returns to her old stomping ground with a vengeance. It's good to see that she agrees with the whole 'no one cares = progress' philosophy. The last exchange with Seth Meyer is a killer, both truthful and funny. Alas, I must confess I was disappointed that the sketch she was mentioning 'won't even air'.

Scott Mendelson

Weekend box office in review (04/11/10)

There was only one new release this weekend, the Tina Fey/Steve Carell comedy Date Night. The Shawn Levy-directed vehicle was sold as a general audiences-friendly variation on After Hours/The Night Before, this was a pretty easy sell for Fox. Take two of TV's most popular comedians, toss them into a high-concept pitch (two harried professional parents see their attempt at a fancy evening out go to hell in a hand-basket), throw in promises of relatively harmless Adventures In Babysitting-type shenanigans, and top it off with a plethora of movie star cameos to sweeten the deal. So yes, Date Night ended up number two with $25.2 million. That's a decent 2.76x multiplier off a $9.1 million opening Friday. Despite Nikki Finke's pronouncement that the film 'over-performed', the film was expected to do $25-30 million by pretty much every box office pundit I could find (yes, I agreed with that assessment).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New York destroyed by 8-Bit Video Games...

Uploaded by onemoreprod. - Watch original web videos.
While this is obviously a glorified resume of sorts for a special effects company (One More Production, located in Paris), the fact remains that this Jeff Patrick creation is awfully impressive, genuinely witty, and slightly terrifying. Enjoy.

Scott Mendelson

Making the unthinkable acceptable.

As he often does, Glenn Greenwald of Salon put it best:
"Here again, we see one of the principal and longest-lasting effects of the Obama presidency: to put a pretty, eloquent, progressive face on what (until quite recently) was ostensibly considered by a large segment of the citizenry to be tyrannical right-wing extremism (e.g., indefinite detention, military commissions, "state secrets" used to block judicial review, an endless and always-expanding "War on Terror," immunity for war criminals, rampant corporatism -- and now unchecked presidential assassinations of American citizens), and thus to transform what were once bitter, partisan controversies into harmonious, bipartisan consensus."

Scott Mendelson

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Review: Kick-Ass (2010)

113 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass is a film constantly at war with itself. It seemingly attempts to be a realistic story about what would happen if people decided to become masked avengers in a real big city, but it quickly gives way to implausibility and over-the-top action that would be more at home in an 80's John Woo picture. It wants you to take its story and its characters seriously enough to care about them, but it's afraid to risk alienating those who thrive on cynical detachment. It is colorful, often well-acted by a spirited cast, and it contains a few terrific action sequences as well as several moments of surprising dramatic heft. As a movie that exists purely to entertain, it gets the job done. But in terms of presenting a more plausible super hero saga, it's no more realistic than Punisher: War Zone, and it in fact suffers from some of the same issues regarding real-world consequences vs. harmless fantasy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Alice in Wonderland aside, if you want to cross $300 million, reserve your May release date NOW. The geography of the $300 million+ earner.

There has been much talk over the last few years about how release dates no longer matter, about how Hollywood is summer year-round, and how a movie will open however it will open no matter what the season. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland crossed the $300 million mark last Thursday, and it now sits at $309 million in the US alone. Whatever my issues are with the film's quality, this is a stunning achievement and puts the film is some very rare company. But just when is the best month for your film to have the strongest chance to reach super-blockbuster status?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Weekend box office in review (04/04/10)

Everyone won during a crowded Easter weekend, as three major new releases faced off against several strong holdovers for a whopping $177 million total. As expected by all, Clash of the Titans opened relatively large, with $61.2 million over the Fri-Sun period. Including Thursday-night sneak showings, the Warner Bros. remake has grossed $63.8 million. It shattered the old Easter record (Scary Movie 4's $42 million debut) by about $20 million and came within $10 million of breaking the April opening weekend record (last year's Fast & Furious with $71 million). The picture benefited from terrific trailers, an impressively dynamic poster gallery, and its last-minute conversion to 3D for about 1,800 of its 3,770 theaters. Most of the critics came out of last week's press screenings complaining about the low quality of said 3D effects, but the film did 52% of its business in the 28% of the screens that were in higher-priced 3D. Let's be honest, this film would have been pretty huge no matter what format it was offered in. It looked exciting and was fantastically marketed from all corners. Appealing mainstream film + great trailers + cool posters = big opening nearly every time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Review: Clash of the Titans: the 2D 35mm Experience (2010)

Clash of the Titans
106 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Filmed in revolutionary 2D with 35millimeter film, this groundbreaking epic allows you to view a technological breakthrough using just your own two eyes. Using the most up-to-date filmmaking techniques, this 2.35:1 adventure contains every bit the action and suspense that you can find in Clash of the Titans 3D, but without the need to wear screen-darkening eye-glasses. Plus, due to the cost-cutting measures of producing the picture in the '2D format', the consumer actually saves between $3 and $5 per ticket. As a result, viewers gets to see the film that way the director intended, and the consumer gets to save valuable legal tender in the process. Wow...

All snark aside, Louis Leterrier's remake of the 1981 camp classic was never intended to be seen in 3D. As most of you know, it was a last minute attempt by Warner Bros. to 'up-convert' a 2D film to would-be 3D in order to justify charging extra for a ticket. Fair enough, but one shouldn't want to watch 3D effects slapped onto a 2D movie anymore than they'd want to watch Casablanca in color. And since the 3D paint job was apparently a botch (everyone who saw it had nothing but scorn for the cheap, rushed results), I thought I'd do my readers a service and discuss the film as it was intended. So, here is a quick review of Clash of the Titans: the 2D 35mm Experience!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The A-Team gets a second trailer. Henry Czerny returns!

Take away the iconic music, and this movie actually looks like a pretty stale, run-of-the-mill action picture. The film looks to be completely about the team's attempt to prove their innocence, so we likely won't have any scenes where they are 'hired' to help out random people in peril. My wife is a big fan of the show, and this is arguably the film she's most excited about seeing this summer (I'll let that go without comment, but feel free to add your own below). Me? The most exciting part of the trailer was the one-line cameo at 0:34 by the wonderfully icy Henry Czerny. It's been around 15 years, but he had two terrific supporting turns in Clear and Present Danger in 1994 (as a villainous CIA deputy director) and Mission: Impossible in 1996 (amusingly set-up as the villain in the film's trailer) and then pretty much disappeared from big-budget Hollywood. Oh, he's been super busy (The Pink Panther, The Tudors, etc), but he never really capitalized on his one-two punch in two very big summer blockbusters. I can only presume from the trailer that Czerny is a villain who orders Patrick Wilson to eliminate our heroes to prevent the exposure of whatever conspiracy landed them in jail in the first place. Pardon me if I root for the bad guy.

Scott Mendelson


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