Thursday, March 31, 2011

Press Release and Trailer: Superman: the Motion Picture Anthology (1978-2006) to Blu Ray on June 7th.

Yes, I will be picking this one up, unless Warner is kind enough to send it to be prior to June 7th. It was a great set in standard def, so hopefully it will fare no poorer in Blu Ray. I guess the only question is whether the Fleischer cartoons will be in high-def. That might be worth the purchase all by itself. Not much to add (glad to see the documentaries will be in HD), but the rather lengthy press release is after the jump.

Scott Mendelson

The Shot Heard Round the Industry... Studios announce pre-DVD Video on Demand for major theatrical releases, and why it's doomed..

Fox, Warner Bros, Sony, and Universal have announced today that they will begin offering 'first-run' theatrical features on Video On Demand through DirectTV just sixty days after their theatrical release. Other outlets, such as Comcast and Vudo, will eventually join the fray in a limited capacity, but for now the first shot has been fired. Ironically, the two studios which will likely have the heartiest summer, Disney and Paramount, have for the moment abstained. Disney has Cars 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides just at the start of the summer. Paramount has an uber-strong slate the entire season, with Thor, Kung Fu Panda 2, Super 8, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, and Captain America. Point being, they'll be counting money from May to August, so there really was no incentive to piss off the exhibitors. And the theater chains are indeed mighty pissed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Rubber (2011)

83 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

Yes yes, we get it. Movies aren't real and it is foolish to become emotionally invested in fictional events where there are no real rules. That was one of the many subtexts found in Chris Nolan's Inception, but here it is front-and-center as text. Those expecting a goofy horror film about a killer tire are in for a disappointment. In actuality, writer/director Quentin Dupieux uses this outlandish premise to comment on the seemingly passive nature of (American?) film audiences to willfully accept outlandish scenarios and arbitrary silliness while questioning the very nature of our active involvement in fictional worlds. It's all quite smart and clever, but did it have to be so bloody boring as well?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Must-Watch: Aaron Sorkin on 30 Rock

I don't know what it is about fifth seasons, but getting to season five often seems to creatively recharge long-running shows (Homicide: Life on the Street, Gilmore Girls, Law and Order, 30 Rock, 24, etc). Point being, 30 Rock is having one of its strongest seasons yet.

Scott Mendelson

Monday, March 28, 2011

More thoughts in defense of Sucker Punch.

The following is a re-edited form of a couple mini-essays that I wrote elsewhere over the weekend. I figured my readers might care to read them here as well. The actual review is here.

It is more than a little ironic that Sucker Punch is taking a critical beating for merely being an example of the very things that it's actually most critical of. At heart, it's a critical deconstruction of the casual sexualization of young women in pop culture, the inexplicable acceptance of institutional sexism and lechery, and whether or not images of empowered females on film can be disassociated with the sexual undercurrent of those same images. It’s an angry feminist screed, and a genuinely disconcerting little myth, without the ‘it’s all okay’ feel-good elements that would have made it more palatable to mainstream audiences. I wish it were a better movie overall (the plot is needlessly confusing in the first 25 minutes, and the characters are more game-board pieces than actual characters), but this is genuinely challenging movie-making and should be acknowledged as such.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II gets a somewhat familiar (cough-Enemy Mine-cough) poster.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend Box Office (03/27/11): Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 knocks out Sucker Punch.

In a somewhat surprising result, the heavily-advertised action-fantasy Sucker Punch (teaser/trailer) did not top the box office this weekend, losing a close race to the lower-profile but popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was number one for the weekend, with $24.4 million. The second film in the series comes just over a year after 20th Century Fox released the premiere entry (titled simply Diary of a Wimpy Kid) took the number-two slot with $22 million. With no massive Alice in Wonderland standing it is way this time, the further adventures of Zachery Gordon promoted itself to the top slot. The original film cost $15 million and ended up with $65 million in domestic sales. The sequel cost just $21 million and will theoretically end up in the same $60-70 million ballpark. This is certainly not a strong overseas franchise (the original grossed just $11 million in foreign markets), but 20th Century Fox has no reason not to keep pumping out adaptations of the long-running (five books so far) kid-lit series as long as the price is right. So, coming March 2012: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

At long last, Captain America: the First Avenger gets a star-spangled trailer.

The word of the day: adventure. Joe Johnston seems to be toeing the line between serious World War II melodrama and gee-whiz bubblegum adventure. Most interesting is that this is the rare comic book adaptation that doesn't feel narratively claustrophobic. I certainly won't call the Dolph Lundgren Punisher film any kind of good movie, but one of the things I liked is that it remains one of the only modern book movies where the hero simply sets out to solve a problem that he did not create and fight a villain that he is not personally connected to. There has been so much emphasis on recent comic book films of making every conflict inherently personal that it's kinda cool that at least one comic book film was basically 'a day in the life of...'. This film seems to be an origin story, followed by what just happens to be Steve Rogers first mission.

Review: Sucker Punch (2011)

Sucker Punch
115 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch is an experiment and a question: Is is possible to make a female-driven action fantasy without falling prey to certain misogynistic messaging? Just as its difficult to make an anti-war film because war plays out as exciting onscreen, there is a level of titillation that comes from the very idea of watching attractive women taking up arms against various foes. One could argue that the same applies to any number of male action pictures, as I don't think too many heterosexual women or homosexual men minded watching Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, or Matt Damon kicking butt in their respective action franchises. But rather than duck the subject, Snyder dives right into the muck, offering an examination of the voyeuristic nature of our mainstream action fantasies, and how those films view women. It's a severely flawed picture, and thanks to the MPAA (it took seven tries to get a PG-13), somewhat artistically compromised, but there is much more going on underneath the surface that the surface-level razzle-dazzle. Judging by the critics thus far who apparently can't see past the special effects, it would appear that the tagline 'you will be unprepared' is all-too accurate.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MPAA thinks a young women being raped is more appropriate than a young woman initiating and enjoy sex?

There's a choice quote in this Emily Browning interview over at Nylon Magazine, which was reported by Cinemablend that merits a mention. Its implications are kinda shocking,. The crux is the discussion of changes that Zach Snyder had to make in order to ensure Sucker Punch (review) would win a PG-13 from the MPAA, which apparently took seven tries. I'll let Browning lay it out:

"I had a very tame and mild love scene with Jon Hamm. It was like heavy breathing and making out. It was hardly a sex scene... I think that it's great for this young girl to actually take control of her own sexuality. Well, the MPAA doesn't like that. They don't think a girl should ever be in control of her own sexuality because they're from the Stone Age. I don't know what the f**k is going on and I will openly criticize it, happily. So essentially, they got Zack to edit the scene and make it look less like she's into it. And Zack said he edited it down to the point where it looked like he was taking advantage of her. That's the only way he could get a PG-13 (rating) and he said, 'I don't want to send that message.' So they cut the scene!"

I've often defended the MPAA when films are given harsher ratings for breaking clearly-outlined rules (if you have more than one 'f-word', you get an R, period). I've long argued that the real enemy is the major theater chains that won't screen NC-17 or unrated movies, as well as the major networks and newspapers that won't carry advertising for them. But this is a clear cut case of the MPAA showing serious puritanical colors. So, just to clarify, it appears that the MPAA had serious issues with the idea that Emily Browning having consensual sexual relations with Jon Hamm, but they had less of an issue with the idea that Jon Hamm was taking advantage of, perhaps even raping Emily Browning. Let me repeat that one more time: the MPAA was more comfortable with the idea of a young woman raped by an older man than with the idea of a young woman making her own choices in regards to her own sexuality. I don't even need to further editorialize here.

Scott Mendelson

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Am I the only one excited? Albert Pyun's 1990 Captain America to get 124-minute director's cut, Blu Ray release in May.

Thanks to The Playlist who spotted this iO9 article, but it appears that I may have to put my intended random thoughts/review of the original 1990 Captain America on hold. Yes, I still have a copy of it, taped off of Cinemax or HBO in the early 1990s. Point being, yes Albert Pryun's legendary cheapo Steve Rogers epic (starring Matt Salinger, son of JD) is all kinds of bad, but I've always had a soft spot for it. Maybe it's because it's often obscenely violent for a seemingly kid-friendly PG-13 adventure film (it opens with a machine gun massacre of civilians and kills off several major characters during its 90 minute running time), maybe because Scott Paulin makes an oddly affecting Red Skull, maybe because it gets the finale just right (good guy and bad guy, both in their proper super-costumes, fighting to the death atop a castle), or maybe it's just because I was ten years old when I first saw it and I haven't been dumb enough to watch it in at least fifteen years. Anyway, according to director Albert Pyun (who was the Ewe Boll of his direct-to-VHS day) claims that there is a 124 minute director's cut, and that said version will be released on Blu Ray in May. So yes, count me as among the few (the not-so-proud) actually looking forward to getting a decent copy, in a director's cut no less, of this childhood treasure. Don't worry, I won't make Allison watch it with me. Well, not unless she REALLY misbehaves.

Scott Mendelson

There as no slump then, there is no slump now! Why comparing cumulative weekend box office makes no sense and hurts our desire for better movies.

Brandon Grey at Box Office Mojo called the weekend box office 'listless'. Nikkie Finke at Deadline Hollywood called it 'a soft weekend'. And Brent Lang of The Wrap called it 'sluggish'. 'Weak' was the word as three mid-to-low budget films opened with both solid reviews and decent box office. Also on everyone's mind was the fact that this weekend was down this year by about 10% compared to this weekend in 2010. We've been hearing that talk quite a bit this year, as each weekend is considered a quasi-disaster because it didn't equal or surpass the respective weekend from last year. There is a reason I never discuss how well a respective weekend performed compared to the same weekend last year or the year before. It's irrelevant. Every year brings different movies and those movies perform in vastly different ways from the year before or the year after. More importantly, it feeds into the absurd 'this year must be BIGGER' mentality, even if the product doesn't justify that. Want to know why this year's first few months have been down compared to last year? A) Avatar and B) Alice in Wonderland.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fool Me Once... Batman: Arkham City video game gets a terrific teaser

It's no secret that I wasn't crazy about Batman: Arkham Asylum when it came out in August of 2009. Sure, the game looked fantastic, sounded great and was an often dazzling gameplay experience. The problem? The game was just too darn hard and complicated. I'm a 30-year old father of one, with another coming on the way in June. I don't have time to play the kind of video games where you have to check the online strategy guide every two minutes to make sure you're wandering down the right random hallway. Still... good god does this thing look dynamite. And one of the problems I had with the first game, that it only involved wandering around Arkham, seems to be a moot point this time around. So, will I dare try this one again? Dunno, but those who have the time and patience to really dig into Batman: Arkham City are likely in for a treat this October.

Scott Mendelson

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides gets a (slightly improved) final trailer.

We're two months out from start-date on this one, so Disney has unleashed a final and more plot-centric trailer. I know I've been bagging on this picture since the start, but I'm going to try to accentuate the positive for the moment. The trailer clearly lays out the journey (to find the fountain of youth) and the core character relationships, including the 'not Will Turner and not Elizabeth Swann' in the guise of a young sailer and the imperiled mermaid he falls for (Sam Cleflin and Gemma Ward). I wouldn't be surprised to see some TV spots that highlight these two above Sparrow and the gang, and the trailer earns major points for not being all-Jack Sparrow for the entire 2.25 minutes. The action does look refreshingly practical and the scale seems to be a decent mix of epic adventure and boots-on-the-ground plausibility. So even if the film seems to lack the grand ambitions of Gore Verbinski's original trilogy, one can hope that it will still be a solid good time. But, it must be said, the trailer loses a point or two for repeating the phrase 'fountain of youth' as if its a new vocabulary word. Still, this one will surely hit pretty huge on May 20th. While I theoretically could get into an early press screening, I may just wait until opening night as it falls on 'preschool babysitting night'. Should I choose that route, I shall be faced with a difficult decision. I don't care much for live-action 3D, but I do so love IMAX. Decisions, decisions...

Scott Mendelson

Weekend Box Office (03/20/11): Adult genre fare cannibalize each other as Limitless, Lincoln Lawyer and Paul all open 'okay'.

I often complain about the lack of big-studio adult genre pictures while pointing out that the few such entries generally do well due to the paucity of such things in the marketplace. Alas, this weekend was a comparative embarrassment of riches, with three genre pictures, all starring adults, two rated R, and none costing more than $40 million. Ironically, all three films did moderately well, but at least two of them would likely have done even better without direct demo competition. The number one film of the weekend was Limitless. The Bradley Cooper/Robert De Niro thriller grossed $19 million, and proving a major win for the struggling Relatively. This was a real test of Bradley Cooper's star power and he delivered. The film benefited from an easily-explained high-concept (a pill that makes you the smartest man on Earth). The film played 52% female and 60% over-25. Since the relatively-well reviewed picture cost just $27 million, this is an easy win for everyone involved.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer
119 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

Oh sweet glorious legal thriller, how I've missed you... In a different time (10-15 years ago), The Lincoln Lawyer would merely be a solid Friday night at the movies. But in this day and age, when the adult-driven genre picture seems to come along only a few times a year, it is indeed cause for celebration. So let us celebrate the real-world settings, the flawed hero, and the crusty character actors doing exquisite character turns. Brad Furman's picture plays like a high-class HBO pilot for the adventures of Los Angeles defense attorney Mick Haller. But if that were true, I would gladly watch each and every episode.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Artistic Comeback? He never left. A look at Matthew McConaughey's best films, post-stardom.

Much of the babbling over this weekends The Lincoln Lawyer has been about the idea that the well-reviewed legal thriller represents some kind of artistic reawakening for Mr. Matthew McConaughey. As is the case with many old-school movie stars, the critics and the pundits have a habit of ignoring McConaughey's more interesting films while highlighting his lesser mainstream fare and then reaching the conclusion that he is not but a paycheck hack. While McConaughey is certainly guilty of some questionable artistic choices, there does seem to be a whiff of genre-bias around this newest entry. It's seems that much of the praise is not so much that The Lincoln Lawyer is allegedly a pretty good movie (I'm waiting until Friday night so the wife can come along) but it is the fact that McConaughey is once again playing in a 'respectable' genre (the legal thriller) as opposed to those 'lesser' romantic comedies that he has starred in from time to time. But, without further ado, let us recount a handful of genuinely good, if not great, films that happen to star Matthew McConaughey. Oh, and this list will only cover from 1996-2009. This is for two reasons: McConaughey became a genuine movie star after A Time To Kill in 1996 and... um... I've never gotten around to see Dazed and Confused from 1993 (I know, I know...). Anyway, onward and upward...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Remember when the Pirates of the Caribbean series was about an ensemble? On Stranger Tides gets a Jack Sparrow-only poster.

Looks like Disney is selling the only trump card it has. And, personal annoyances aside, I can't really blame them. They sold Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland as "The Mad Hatter Movie" and made $1 billion worldwide. Still, it is a little depressing considering how the prior series posters remembered to highlight the actual main characters (Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner) alongside the scene-stealing supporting character that is Mr. Jack Sparrow. I'll gladly walk the plank if Rob Marshall actually makes his first-ever good film, but this feels more like a cash-grab with every additional piece of marketing. We'll see soon enough, on May 20th. Thanks to IGN for the 'get'.

Scott Mendelson

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend Box Office (03/13/11): Battle: Los Angeles hits hard, Red Riding Hood lands softly, while Disney's Mars Needs Moms crashes.

As expected, the heavily-hyped Battle: Los Angeles (teaser/review) topped the box office this weekend, grossing an estimated $35.7 million. If that number holds, it will be the twelfth-biggest March opening in history, and a rock-solid start for a would-be tentpole that cost (depending on who you asked) $70 or $100 million. There was talk that the picture would break out and perhaps reach $50-60 million, but that was frankly silly. We've been spoiled the last few years, with massive March openings like 300 ($70 million), Watchmen ($55 million), and the astonishingly-huge Alice in Wonderland ($116 million). But generally speaking, March releases that aren't animated don't reach $35 million. We didn't have a single live-action $35 million opener in March until 2005 (The Ring Two), and there have been only five others since then prior to this weekend (the three above examples, plus Wild Hogs at $39 million, 10,000 BC at $35 million), so getting anywhere close to $40 million in the third month of the year has to be considered a win, especially without any kind of 3D or IMAX advantage.

Friday, March 11, 2011

JJ Abrams's Super 8 gets a terrific trailer.

Diamond in the rough... That's what JJ Abrams's homage to 1970s/1980s Steven Spielberg (produced by Mr. Spielberg himself) is selling itself as. In a sea of sequels, comic-book adaptations, spin-offs, reboots, and remakes, Super 8 is selling itself as an old-fashioned piece of character-driven storytelling. This trailer is all about mood, setting, and relationships, with the unseen menace merely being what challenges these particular people. I talk quite a bit about how pure craftsmanship is seemingly so rare in big-budget filmmaking that it is often mistaken for high art. We'll see if Super 8 reaches the level of 'high art', but it has surely piqued everyone's interest as one of the few genuinely exciting releases of summer 2011. This one comes out on June 10th, in IMAX no less (for two weeks until Cars 2 takes over).

Scott Mendelson

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood
100 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood is a picture that works in spite of itself. Much of the acting is overly formal and stilted, the film looks claustrophobic and stage bound, and the narrative flirts with societal relevance but discards it at every opportunity. But the movie has its pulpy charms and a terrifically entertaining star-turn by Gary Oldman. It is not high art, and it suffers from a PG-13 that dampens the grisly violence and periodic sexuality, but it’s rarely boring and often genuinely amusing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Battle: Los Angeles
116 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Rare is the movie that loses points for being too realistic. But Jonathan Liebesman's alien invasion picture feels less like an epic and more like a genuinely plausible war picture. This is not a bad thing, and the film is generally successful at showing what the military response to such a domestic threat might be. The film is basically Black Hawk Down, with the faceless marauders being from outer-space instead of militant indignant people. While the marketing promises scale, the film merely delivers claustrophobic survival with no real deeper meaning that would give the carnage any real weight. Liebesman gets the details seemingly right, but the end result is a war picture where the fact that the invaders are from 'up there' seems almost beside the point.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fast Five gets a Faster and Furiouser trailer.

Nothing new here, other than the fact that this latest trailer doesn't even try to justify the random 'see gyrating hotties!' shots that inevitably pop up in these kinds of trailers. I haven't seen a single film in this franchise, so even if I catch up, I'll likely wait until this one hits Blu Ray. Two notes. First, ONCE AGAIN, Universal simply must call the next film Faster and Furiouser. Second of all, the onscreen text left us hanging. It advertises 'past fast' and then 'beyond furious' but then fails to state just what lies beyond fast and beyond furious. So, put on your marketing caps and tell me: just what lies beyond fast and furious? The undiscovered country? The final frontier? World's End? You tell me...

Scott Mendelson

Cars 2 gets trailers. Pixar is making sure that Rango wins the Best Animated Film Oscar next year.

Come what may, you can't really fault Pixar for doing a sequel to a film that has sold $8 billion worth of merchandise in just under five years. Still, let's not pretend that this looks like anything other than the kind of crap that Dreamworks used to get knocked for peddling in their Shark Tale days. The only thing to note is that there are glimpses, if only just glimpses, of a real espionage action picture hidden beneath the sophomoric humor (at least the poop joke in the Kung Fu Panda 2 trailer was clever and funny). In the longer international trailer, it does appear that Michael Caine's Finn McMissile actually kills several enemy cars in a massive explosion, so it will be interesting to see how seriously the film takes its action. Still, while the first film was a carbon-copy ripoff of Doc Hollywood, this one is being sold as a remake of Larry the Cable Guy's Witless Protection. We'll see if Yaphet Katto again shows up as Alonzo Mosley... errr, I mean RiCARdo Bodi. Point being, if this is a sign of where Pixar is heading, then this may indeed be yet another Pixar animated feature that makes me cry.

Scott Mendelson

Never bet on breaking records: Why I wouldn't have greenlit Guillermo Del Toro's R-rated, $150m version of HP Lovecraft's At the Mountain of Madness.

Let's be honest for a second. Under normal circumstances, Inception likely would not have been greenlit in its current form at Warner Bros. While Warner Bros. until recently had a reputation for giving lots of money to notable filmmakers and more-or-less staying out of their way, even they had their limits. Had Christopher Nolan not just delivered a $1 billion-grossing and critically-acclaimed superhero sequel, and had not Warner Bros. desperately wanted to guarantee that Nolan would return for what would become The Dark Knight Rises, Inception would have been a very different movie, if it even would have existed at all. On paper, would you green-light a $200 million science-fiction film based on an original screenplay that was full of complex ideas, difficult-to-explain story elements and a distinct lack of bright colors and conventional sex appeal? There are but a handful of filmmakers who could have made Inception as it was. Chris Nolan, coming off The Dark Knight, was one of them. Other than perhaps James Cameron and Steven Spielberg (George Lucas would have just funded the thing out of his own back-pocket), I cannot think of anyone else who could have gotten the greenlight without severely slashing the budget. Guillermo del Toro isn't one of those directors either.

Super Mario Bros with real sound effects...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blunt and to the point...

Review: Rango (2011)

107 minutes
rated PG

Rango is the very definition of an odd-duck. It is a gorgeously-animated little fable that works both as an homage to westerns (spaghetti or otherwise) and film noir, as well as a thoughtful and spiritual hero's journey. It may not be a prototypical talking animal cartoon, and it keeps its emotionalism in check for most of the running time, but the picture remains an aloof and endlessly imaginative piece of art cleverly disguised as throwaway pop-entertainment. As a piece of political fiction, it shows us yet again how warped our discourse has become. In this day and age, its seemingly common-sense story of the rich exploiting the poor very nearly counts as a partisan statement. Oh, and it's also pretty funny to boot.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Box Office (03/06/11): Two openers (Rango and Adjustment Bureau) win, two openers (Beastly, Take Me Home Tonight) lose.

Paramount released its first non-Dreamworks cartoon in nearly five years this weekend. And indeed, the number one film by a long shot was Gore Verbinski's Rango (teaser/review). The critically-acclaimed and nearly-existential Johnny Depp vehicle grossed $38 million over the three-day weekend. That's the biggest opening for a Paramount animated feature not from Dreamworks, although it's slightly behind in attendance compared to the $32 million opening of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie back in November of 2004. Paramount's animated fare has been exclusively Dreamworks since the August 2006 release of Barnyard: The Original Party Animals. Since they acquired Dreamworks in early 2006, they've basically been just releasing the Katzenberg cartoons. But prior to that, they actually had a good thing going with Nickelodeon, although they have released a few Nickelodeon live-action co-ventures over the last few years (Charlotte's Web, Hotel For Dogs, etc). This will hopefully mark the return of Nickelodeon-funded animated features. Can't let Disney have all the fun.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

DVD Review: Batman: the Brave and the Bold season one volume two.

Batman: the Brave and the Bold Season One Volume Two
298 minutes
Available from Warner Home Video Tuesday March 15th on DVD.

Consider this a quick acknowledgment... The DVD set contains two discs with the last thirteen episodes of the initial season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. They aired seemingly ages ago, from about March 2009 to November 2009. So yeah, Warner is a bit behind on these, as the second season's worth of 24 episodes have already aired, save one that has yet to be scheduled. For a look at my thoughts on the series itself, go to this TV review from well over two years ago.

The DVD - This one is quick. Looks spectacular, sounds pretty solid, but absolutely no extras. In short, save your money for the eventual complete season or complete series box set, unless you need the episodes now and can find it for around $10.

Scott Mendelson

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thor gets a theatrical poster and banner.

Nothing much to report, just what looks to be the final one-sheet for Marvel Comics' Thor. Yes, advertising a movie as 'from the studio that brought you a different movie' is the biggest stretch in marketing, but Marvel didn't have much else to go on. It's not like the kids are going to be thrilled with 'from the director of Dead Again and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein'. The poster itself seems like some weird hybrid of The Social Network and A Knight's Tale. Anyway, Elisabeth Rappe's interview with the screenwriter Don Payne put some of my fears to rest (the film is only 50% Earthbound), so we'll see. By the way, this is the first I've seen regarding Thor opening in IMAX as well as Digital 3D. It seemed like a no-brainer after Spider-Man 4 broke down and vacated the release date, but I presumed that Fast Five grabbing IMAX screens a week before would have prevented Marvel from doing the same. Interesting... Thanks IGN for getting the poster and the banner.

Scott Mendelson

Review: Black Death (2011)

Black Death
103 minutes
rated R

by Scott Mendelson

Christopher Smith's Black Death is a thoughtful and engaging film that isn't quite as traumatic as it wants to be. As an examination of faith in an era where there is no plausible hope, it portends to examine the dangers of fundamentalism in all cloths. That it doesn't quite reach the grand heights to which it attempts is only a token disappointment. It may not have anything groundbreaking to say, but it remains a creepy and occasionally disconcerting period piece. And it establishes Christopher Smith as a genuine talent coming off the prior triumphs of Severance and the genuinely terrific Triangle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

George Lucas to tell them 3D-converting amateurs to get off his lawn: Star Wars 3D kicks-off with Phantom Menace in February 2012.

Rejoice or protest nerds! The Star Wars series is indeed returning to theaters post-converted to 3D starting on February 10th, 2012 with The Phantom Menace. After that, it's one movie a year, which will finish off in 2017 with Return of the Jedi, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars: A New Hope. If you don't like it, don't buy a ticket. I'm looking forward to this if only to watch George Lucas show everyone how a real 3D-conversion is done. Back in 2002, he was the only one, with the arguable exception of Robert Rodriguez, who could shoot on HD-Video without it looking like a home movie. 3D is at that point now. Even the good 3D work (Drive Angry for example) still looks dark, muddy, and cheap befitting the non-film it was shot on. Point being, we're at that growth-spurt stage with 3D where everyone wants to do it, and some of them are even skilled at it, but you can still 'see the strings'.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

No one liked it and it didn't make that much money, so let's make another one! Percy Jackson and the Olympians to get a sequel.

Contrary to common sense, the critically-savaged (by me among others) and not-terribly successful Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is indeed getting a sequel. According to The LA Times, director Chris Columbus will merely produce this second installment, entitled The Sea Monsters. The principle cast members, including Logan Lerman, will apparently be returning. There are five books in the series, so if Fox can bring it a movie that costs less than the $95 million that the first film cost, and can gross equal-to or slightly more than the $226 million that the first film grossed worldwide (only $88 million of that was from domestic grosses), than Fox may have a franchise on its hands after all. I don't think I need to say what a sad commentary it is when even films that were barely financially successful and were loved by few are still getting sequels. At least Clash of the Titans made $496 million off a $125 million budget, while Tron: Legacy apparently sold a bunch of toys. We're getting perilously close to the tent-pole equivalent of Mannequin 2: On the Move. So many candidates for the Tomb Raider Trap...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Guest Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

As happens from time to time, a reader and collegue was able to attend an early screening of an upcoming release and was willing to send his thoughts along. This time, Brandon Peters offers a spoiler-free look at The Adjustment Bureau, which opens this Friday.

The Adjustment Bureau
99 minutes

by Brandon Peters

The Adjustment Bureau is an adaptation from the Philip K. Dick short The Adjustment Team. A Philip K. Dick fan am I, however I have not read any of his shorts collections. So, I cannot supply comparisons to the source material. While The Adjustment Bureau is not quite a film spawned from Dick’s works like Blade Runner, Total Recall or A Scanner Darkly, it is nowhere close to the likes of Next or Imposter.


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