Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Josh Brolin Replaces Sean Penn In "Cartel"

Universal Pictures has set Josh Brolin to star in "Cartel," the Asger Leth-directed drama that will begin shooting January in Mexico City. Brolin takes the role Sean Penn was to perform until he left the project in June to take a movie business sabbatical for personal reasons.

Brian Grazer is producing the Peter Craig-scripted drama for Imagine Entertainment.

Brolin will play a man on a mission to protect his son after his wife is brutally murdered in the gritty world of Mexican drug cartels.

The drama is inspired by the 1993 Italian film "La scorta," which followed four cops' struggle to guard a special prosecutor trying to bring mob bosses to justice.

“Cartel” was one of several films that Penn abruptly departed in June.

Robert Stone and Webster Stone will exec produce "Cartel." Leth makes his dramatic feature directing debut after helming the 2006 documentary "Ghosts of Cite Soleil."

Brolin is more than capable of playing this type of character. Hes a talented actor and his films lately have ranged from being good to great. I would have loved to see Penn in this role, but Brolin is an excellent replacement. I'm excited to see this film and hopefully we can hear more about it soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Teaser For The Nightmare on Elm Street Remake

New Line Cinema has revealed the teaser trailer for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Directed by Samuel Bayer, the April 30th release stars Jackie Earle Haley as the new Freddy Krueger, as well as Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Katie Cassidy and Connie Britton.

I honestly wasn't expecting anything good coming from this remake especially since the original Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) isn't playing the role that made him famous. With that said, this teaser trailer actually wasn't that bad. It looks like it could be a decent remake in a world full of terrible remakes. My only grip is that Jackie Earle Haley really needs to work on the voice. It's beyond terrible and doesn't come close to matching the scary Freddy voice done by Mr. Englund himself.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sony Revs Up Ghost Rider 2

Columbia Pictures is working on a second installment of "Ghost Rider," with David Goyer in early talks to create the story and supervise writers for a film expected to once again star Nicolas Cage.

Former Marvel topper Avi Arad, Michael De Luca and Steven Paul are producing, with Gary Foster as exec producer.

Through a spokesman, Goyer said he hadn't signed on to a second "Ghost Rider" yet. But plans are already under way to base the sequel on a "Ghost Rider" script written years ago by Goyer, whose superhero work includes hit screen transfers of DC's "Batman Begins" and Marvel's "Blade" franchise. The original "Ghost Rider" was scripted by director Mark Steven Johnson.

Oh please god make it stop. The first one was horrible and had some of the worst reviews ever for a Marvel property. Doing a sequel with the same cast members and production team is a very dumb idea and goes to show you that Sony doesn't give a damn about what people think of the Ghost Rider movies. My idea would have been to either reboot Ghost Rider or do a sequel in the form of The Incredible Hulk, where it was a different cast and explaining the origin story in the introduction credits.

Barbie Heads To The Big Screen

Universal Pictures has added Barbie to its star stable. The studio has made a deal with Mattel to build a live-action film around its signature Barbie toy line. With studios racing to build films around well-known concepts, Universal brass feels it has landed the queen of globally branded toy figures.

Laurence Mark will produce.

According to Mattel, the 50-year-old Barbie has 99% worldwide brand awareness, and it's the No. 1 girls property in the toy industry, the top doll property in the U.S., and the No. 1 worldwide property in the traditional toy industry.

"Barbie is the most famous doll in history, a unique cultural icon in the world of brands," said Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger. "So many representations of Barbie frequent pop culture. We're grateful to Mattel for entrusting us with this extraordinary opportunity.

"Mark said the next step will be to canvass writers and decide on a creative take for a family-friendly movie. Mark, who just produced "Julie and Julia" was one of several A-list producers who met with Mattel and U execs. "Barbie may be the most popular girl in the world, and has always been a wonderfully aspirational figure, so we must do her proud," Mark said, noting that there's no shortage of plot possibilities since Barbie has held more than 120 jobs over the years.

I'm actually surprised that its taken this long for Barbie to hit the big screen in a live-action film. Even though I'm not remotely excited about this, you cant fault that its a smart business decision. I mean who doesn't know Barbie? This is guaranteed to make a shit load of money at the box office. I mean if crap like G-Force and The Hannah Montana Movie can go on to be box office hits, than I don't see why Barbie wouldn't have similar success.

Monday, September 21, 2009



Year: 2009
Director: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Ludacris, Logan Lerman
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA: Rated R

Lionsgate has been keeping a good eye on its fellow Crank creators/directors Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor simply because they have had a good relationship through out the two Crank films. In May 2007, Lionsgate and Lakeshore Entertainment teamed up with the two Crank directors to develop a "high-concept futuristic thriller". Neveldine and Taylor wrote the script which was currently known as "Game". In March 2009, the films name was changed from "Game" to "Citizen Game". With lead star Gerard Butler already filming another film called "Law Abiding Citizen", Lionsgate decided to change the tile once again on May 2009 from "Citizen Game" to "Gamer".

Plot Outline:
In the not too distant future, mind-control technology allows humans to control the actions and movements of other humans, allowing reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) to create the ultimate video game. It's called "Slayers," and it's a mass-scale, multiplayer online first-person shooter that's as controversial as it is popular. In the world of gamers, Simon (Logan Lerman) is a rock star; miraculously managing to keep his character alive week after week, he racks up frags like Billy Mitchell jumps barrels. But unlike Mitchell's Mario, Simon's video-game avatar is a living, breathing human being named Kable (Gerard Butler). Defying the odds to keep Kable running and gunning though even the most explosive battles, Simon captures the imagination of a global audience.

Gamer's storyline is a disappointment on all fronts. The premise sounds very interesting and it certainly could of been a good film, but it just doesn't live up to it. The film's romance feels tacked on and hardly effective. The action scenes suffer from horrible editing and can be very difficult to see whats happening most of the time. Cheesy dialogue very much hampers the films dialogue, resulting in hardly any tension for the film to breath naturally. Its also very funny and worth mentioning that most of the cast consists of actors that have their own TV sitcom. What tickles my bone even more, is that those TV shows are a hundred times better than this film. Their are certainly some cool ideas in Gamer such as the "social network thing", but it just doesn't feel fleshed out enough to be incorporated into the story in a more straight forward way. I did enjoy some of the humorous scenes that are nicely implemented into the film, but even these aren't enough to help this movie from being the crap fest that it is. The ending is also un-satisfying and doesn't make up for the disappointing beginning. It seems like Gamer could have been a fascinating film if you take into fact its interesting premise, but it just got lost in translation. It almost feels like the creative team behind the film were not on the same page with one another.

Gerard Butler plays as the lead character of the film, Kable. His performance here is very one dimensional and hardly satisfying. In fact, I enjoyed him ALOT more in the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth than in this film, which is really weird considering he has done more action films than comedy. His character also doesn't feel fleshed out enough, making him nearly impossible to root for. Michael C. Hall plays the villainies character of Ken Castle and hes probably the saving grace in this film. Hall is a talented actor and hes proven this with his HBO hit show "Dexter". His character Ken Castle is hardly as mesmerizing or effective as Dexter, but hes still kind of fun to watch. Amber Valletta plays as Kable's love interest, Angie. I'll admit that Valletta looks absolutely gorgeous in this film, but even that's not enough to make up for a lacking performance. Her character hardly feels crucial to the story and practically feels like a character that was added in the last minute. Ludacris plays as the rebel leader trying to overthrow Ken Castle, Humanz Brother. I cant explain how annoying his character is at the start of the film, literally appearing everywhere and telling people to stop playing with Castle's games. He also feels like a missed opportunity and could have been left out in some cases.

The visual look of Gamer is really the only thing I cant complain about. The films source is an excellent condition considering it was just released a couple weeks ago. Their were some grainy scenes here and their, but hardly enough to warrant any problems. Colors are mostly grounded to grayish colors with only a few instances that shine with vibrancy, mostly in Castle's virtual game, "Society". Other than that, the film is practically grey, which is alright considering the filmmakers were trying to go for a gritty action film. Black levels are strong and hold up well in some of the later darker scenes. Flesh tones are natural and you can easily make out everyone in the film. Detail is also quite strong and is really worth mentioning. Close up shots show a great deal of sweat and pores. To put it in perspective, Gamer is definitely one of the sharpest films I have seen recently. I guess this was kind of expected considering the Crank films looked pretty damn impressive transfer wise, especially the Blu Ray versions.

The soundtrack in Gamer is a notch below the visual look of the film, but its still pretty damn good. The film's original music is done by Robb Williamson and Geoff Zanelli. The music is mostly rock with some hip hop here and their. Its good stuff and goes well with the tone of the film, but having to listen to Marilyn Manson's Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) played several times through out the film, can get alittle annoying. The bass in Gamer is really something I wasn't expecting. Not only is it as aggressive as some of the best action films of the decade, but it also competes with the likes of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which still stands as the king of bass usage. Gamers bass is pretty dynamic at times, but tends to lean alittle more front heavy than usual. Its still nicely spread out at times, but like I said, its alittle more front heavy. Its definitely reference material and should easily give your home entertainment device a run for its money when it hits DVD/Blu Ray later this year.

Gamer is a disappointing action thriller that stops short of everything. It has an interesting premise that definitely could have been very cool to see if put in the right hands, but here, it just feels like a mess. Its action scenes although intense at times, are horribly edited to the point where you can hardly see whats going on. Most of the characters feel very one dimensional and their lines tend to come off cheesy at times. The ending isn't satisfying and doesn't make up for a lackluster story to begin with. The cast is mostly a hit and miss with only Dexter himself (Michael C. Hall) being the only one that's somewhat interesting to watch. It also doesn't help that most the cast is made up of people that have their own TV shows. The visual look of the film can tend to be grey at times, but its still one of the sharpest films I have seen recently. The soundtrack is kind of awesome with one killer of a bass. I really didn't enjoy Gamer and I don't think you would either. I went in expecting at least a "B" type action film, but was left with a disappointing execution of what I wanted to see. Its certainly not the worst film I have seen this year, but it comes pretty close.

Grade: D

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jeff Bridges To Reunite With The Coen Brothers?

In what is shaping up as a "Big Lebowski" reunion, Jeff Bridges is in discussions with Paramount to star in Joel and Ethan Coen's redo of "True Grit." Bridges would play the role that won John Wayne an Oscar for the 1969 original.

Bridges last worked with the Coens when he turned in a heralded performance as Jeffrey "the Dude" Lebowski in the 1998 cult fave.

The picture, which also reunites the Coens with their "No Country for Old Men" producing partner Scott Rudin, has been redrafted by the brothers to be more faithful to the Charles Portis novel on which the original film was based.

Story centers on a 14-year-old girl who tags along with an aging U.S. marshal, Rooster Cogburn, and another lawman to track the outlaw who killed her father. The original told the story from Cogburn's point of view, but the new version will work from the viewpoint of the girl.

This would definitely be cool to see. I'm a big fan of The Big Lebowski and have always wanted to see Jeff Bridges do another film with The Coen Brothers. Whats weird is that The Coen Brothers always wanted to do another film with Bridges, but just couldn't come up with a character that he was right for. Hopefully they can somehow manage to get John Goodman in it too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Warner Bros. Gives Up On He-Man Movie

Warner Bros. and Mattel will be parting company on "Masters of the Universe," the live-action reinvention of the signature Mattel toy line that WB and producer Joel Silver have been developing since 2007.

Mattel and WB didn't see eye to eye over the direction of the project and made a mutual decision to let the option lapse this month. Story revolves around He-Man, a prince who becomes a warrior battling the evil Skeletor for control of his magical homeland.

Mattel will take back the property and set it up elsewhere. The expectation is that director John Stevenson ("Kung Fu Panda") will remain with the project, but not Silver, who is exclusive to WB.

Mattel, which still has "Hot Wheels" with WB and Silver Pictures, has become proactive in setting properties for films since aligning with CAA. Among the deals: one for Universal and Playtone to turn "Major Matt Mason" into a star vehicle for Tom Hanks, one with Paramount for "Max Steel" and one with Universal deal for a live-action musical to be based on a new toy line that aspires to add a fresh twist to monster lore, with "Hairspray" producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

I'm not sure how a He-Man movie would work with today's audiences. I remember watching the animated series and remembering how campy it was. A live-action version would definitely be cool to watch and would probably do more justice to the series than the animated series did, but I just don't see it doing good at the box office. With Warner Bros. out of the picture, I'm pretty sure Universal will be next in line to pick it up, considering they already have a several Mattel movies in the works.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Trailer For Juno Director's New Film

/Film has premiered the trailer for writer/director Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Tamala Jones and Chris Lowell.

In the Thank You for Smoking and Juno helmer's new film, opening December 4th, Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a corporate hatchet man who loves his life on the road but is forced to fight for his job when his company downsizes its travel budget. He is required to spend more time at home just as he is on the cusp of a goal he's worked toward for years: reaching five million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.

That trailer just didn't cut it for me. It hardly explained anything on what this film is about. I guess that should be a good thing, but the viewer needs to know what kind of a film this is if they want to decide to go see it or not. I have high hopes it will be another good film like Juno. George Clooney is a fine actor when put in good hands and this film could potentially be his best shot at another Oscar.

Monday, September 07, 2009

REVIEW: Extract


Year: 2009
Director: Mike Judge
Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons
Distributor: Miramax Films
MPAA: Rated R

Director Mike Judge has been developing Extract for nearly 2 years. After the success of Office Space, Judge has gotten a ton of requests for a sequel. He felt a sequel was alittle too late and something not worth doing because it would have had to live up to alot of expectations. Instead, he decided to write another film that borrows elements from Office Space kind of like spiritual successor in a way. Judge being a big fan of Jason Bateman and had been wanting to work with him, casted him as the lead in this film. Filming began in August 2008 and wrapped up production soon after.

Plot Outline:
Joel (Jason Bateman), the owner of an extract manufacturing plant, constantly finds himself in precarious situations that steadily worsen by the minute. First, his soon-to-be floor manager acquires a serious injury in a machine malfunctioning accident. This subsequently endangers the well being of his company. Second, his personal life doesn't fair much better when he takes the advice from his bartending friend, Dean (Ben Affleck). Dean during a drug-induced brainstorming session suggests how to test his wife's faithfulness. Finally, compounding these catastrophes is new employee Cindy (Mila Kunis), who also happens to be a scam artist intent on milking the company for all its worth. Now, Joel must attempt to piece his company and his marriage back together, all while trying to figure out what he's really after in life.

The films story is decent at best and hardly original. It mirrors very similar to Judge's Office Space, but doesn't pack the same punch as Office Space. This results in a film that just isn't as interesting and fun to watch as Office Space was. The film also seems a bit uneven at times and just not properly edited it to the point where the story progresses smoothly. Their are a few scenes that needed explaining simply because it just didn't seem logical and we the audience, never got that. Extract also tends to drag on alittle longer than it should and never seems to get to the point quick enough. The first half of the film seems normally paced, but the dialogue just tends to drag on in the second half. The characters we get introduced to just aren't as special and memorable as Michael Bolton or Milton Waddams from Office Space. The jokes also aren't as funny as I was expecting them to be. Their slightly slow and aimed more towards much older viewers. I don't know, maybe I'm just use to my raunchy Aaptow type jokes considering that's what we have been getting lately. It also doesn't help that most of the funny dialogue was shown on the films trailer. Thus making them very dull and hardly funny in the actual film. Their are still some funny moments here and their especially when it involves Ben Affleck's character, but this is hardly enough to warrant people spending money to go see this film. The ending was pretty good and seemed to have went in a direction the audience was expecting.

Jason Bateman plays as the owner of Reynolds Extract, Joel. Bateman is always fun to watch because he always exhibits this funny feeling that makes him an excellent choice to be playing as the lead in a comedy. He gives a nice performance as Joel and is a joy to watch on screen. Mila Kunis plays as the sexy scam artist, Cindy. Kunis is literally hot in every film shes appeared in and it ain't different here. Shes simply gorgeous and I tend to like her performance when shes playing the more bad guy type character. She has good chemistry with Bateman making her character very much believable. My only grip is that we don't know much about her character and it really feels like theirs some serious character development missing. Kristen Wiig plays as Joel's wife, Suzie. Now I usually like Kristen Wiig because I tend to find her somewhat amusing at times, but she feels awkwardly cast in this film. Her character doesn't feel well implemented into the story and she hardly has any funny scenes. This role could have easily been played by someone else instead of the talented, yet funny Kristen Wiig. Ben Affleck plays as Joel's bartender friend, Dean. Dean is a funny character and really makes the film much more funnier than it hardly is. Affleck is just fun to watch in a role like this and I think he totally nailed that stoner type friend that Bateman's character very much needed.

The visual look of Extract is simply great. The film being a new release benefits from a more pristine film source. I wasn't able to detect any film grain and everything seemed as buttery smooth as it can be. Colors were nicely balanced and didn't seem oversaturated like most comedies these days are. The film also has a very vibrant look to it. It helps that most of the film is shown during the day resulting in better lighting. Black levels are just as impressive with its solid inky look. Their are a few scenes during the night and not even these suffer from any loss in color definition or contrast. Flesh tones seem natural if not a bit waxy at times. I didn't notice any hint of micro-blocking or scratches. Detail is great, but this was expected considering its a new release. Close up shots show a good amount of clarity and shows almost every pore on the character's faces.

The soundtrack in Extract is just as good as the visual look of the film. Director Mike Judge always seems to put the right music in the right spot in the right movie and that's no different here. The film has a wonderful balance of country music mixed with some rock here and their. The original music done by George S. Clinton and I think he did a pretty good job of keeping the music very grounded and somewhat down to earth. The soundtrack ain't quite as good as the soundtrack in Office Space, but its still good. A film like Extract is not going to benefit from a loud bass, simply because the film doesn't feature anything that would require it. So its no surprise that the bass is pretty weak in this film. Theirs hardly any rumbles and is easily one of the weakest I have seen this whole year. Its not like I was expecting Transformers type of bass usage, but at least something in the similar vein of Office Space.

Extract is a decent forgettable movie that doesn't do anything new to separate it from the other million comedy flicks we have today. The story just isn't as interesting or entertaining like some of Mike Judge's previous work such as Office Space and Beavis and Butt-head Do America. The film feels alittle uneven and tends to drag on during the second half. The jokes are their, but they hardly feel funny especially when you have already seen them in the trailer. The cast is great for the most part. Bateman is excellent as the lead and Affleck gives a funny performance as the drug dealing bartender. The visual look of the the film is excellent with bright colors and great detail. The soundtrack is fun and goes very well with the tone of the film. Extract is far from being the worst comedy of the summer, but the film just never seems to push higher than an decent comedy flick. Its worth a look if your bored and hoping to see something this weekend, but Id probably give it a rental when it hits DVD/Blu Ray this December.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sony Finally Developing Bad Boys III

Columbia Pictures is developing a third installment of the high-octane "Bad Boys" franchise, tapping Peter Craig to pen the screenplay.

The hope is to have a script that would reunite director Michael Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. At this point, with the project in the early stages, none has a deal to return.

The "Boys" movies feature Smith and Lawrence as Miami detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, caught up in cases involving car chases and explosions.

All parties have expressed a willingness to return if a story can be hammered out. One potential hurdle, however, would be the costly deals with the players.

About time Sony realized that this series was worth investing in considering the two movies made back their budget and more. However, this doesn't matter to me since I thought the first two films were pretty mediocre. Maybe if Michael Bay doesn't return as director, than I might give this a shot.