Friday, January 30, 2009

REVIEW: Slumdog Millionaire


Slumdog Millionaire

Year: 2008
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Madhur Mittal
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Slumdog Millionaire is a film that I have been wanting to see for awhile, but was just too scared to bring myself to go out and see it. I mean alot of people have been talking about it and saying how great it was, but I was alittle frightened that I might now like it as others did. I mean the trailer for the film looked alright, but nothing special. After so many awards and nominations, I finally decided to take a chance and see for myself what the big fuzz was about.

Plot Outline:
Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Freida Pinto), the girl he loved and lost. Each chapter of his story reveals the key to the answer to one of the game show's questions.

Plot:
The film is an adaptation of the Boeke Prize winning novel Q and A by Indian author Vikas Swarup. Having not read that novel, I cant tell you if it comes close to the movie or not. The story is fresh and exhilarating. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this film, but all that changed within watching the first 20 minutes of the film. I was literally sucked in and couldn't stop watching. Director Danny Boyle has crafted an intense atmosphere that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. The film reminded me of the 2002 Fernando Meirelles crime thriller "City of God". Even though their both different films and display different messages, they are also somewhat similar looking. Though not as depressing and powerful as City of God, Slumdog Millionaire comes pretty damn close. The film starts off with a kid born in the slums and than it soon pits him on the show answering questions. The film tells the story in a flashback sense and this works effectively. Editing is top notch here and director Danny Boyle easily knows what hes doing with this material. What worked so brilliantly in Slumdog Millionaire was the fact that it told a story that not only worked on many levels, but is also highly entertaining. I mean everything about it is nearly perfect. From the beautiful cinematography to the enchanting music, the film simply has it all. I haven't seen a film this extraordinary in a long time. Trust me when I say this, Slumdog Millionaire is definitely a must see.

Cast:
Dev Patel plays as the kid from the slums, Jamal Malik. He gives a great performance as Jamal and truly had me believed he was a real character. Ill be honest and admit that I have never seen this guy before this movie, but his work here is truly something to be remembered for. I think this was a great pick by the casting director and I give props to him for making the right decision in casting Patel as Jamal. Freida Pinto plays as the love interest in the movie, Latika. She too gives a great performance and is something she will be remembered for. Shes simply beautiful in the movie and displays that sad-ness that Latika always seems to show. I enjoyed her in this movie and hope to see her in more films as good as this. Anil Kapoor plays as the host of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Prem Kumar. He is also great in his role and I liked him playing this kind of bad guy part. He may not look like a host that we might have in today's world, but I think he played the part pretty damn good. Irrfan Khan plays as the Police Inspector in the movie. His role seems nicely suited for him and he does a good job at it, but I wish he had more screen time. The only time we see him is when hes asking questions to Jamal, but that's it.

Picture:
The visual look of Slumdog Millionaire is also a winner. I complained on my recent review of The Wrestler that the visual look of the film wasn't great and looked alittle outdated compared to other new releases. That isn't the case with Slumdog Millionaire. From start to finish, the film looks great. It also helps that the film has some of the best cinematography I have seen since 2007's There Will Be Blood. Some of these shots are outright amazing and really Oscar worthy in my opinion. Theirs alittle bit of grain here and their, but nothing that's gong to distract you. Colors look wonderful and somewhat vibrant. Theirs alot of locations in the film and these all look very good. Black levels look alittle flat, but is still pretty strong compared to some of the new releases. Flesh tones look quite natural and have that warm feeling to them. Detail is pretty great and shows alot of clarity to the image. Some of the close up shots look very nice and detailed. The environments show alot of pop and this is definitely a title I'm curious to see on Blu Ray high def.

Sound:
The soundtrack in Slumdog Millionaire is simply fantastic. As much as the visual look of the film is great, its soundtrack is a notch up. The original music is by A.R. Rahman and I think he did an absolute amazing job on this film. Even if your not into Indian music, Its still something that's going to catch you by surprise. Every music and orchestral work here is just glorious and really fun to listen to. Not only that, but the music also engages you to stay on your feet and pay attention to the film. I also enjoyed the song sung by the cast at the end credits and I'm not even Indian. I can sit here all day long raving about how great the music is. Not only that, but Slumdog Millionaire also features some great bass usage. Dynamics are loud and nicely spread out the way I like them to be. Its not all front heavy, but rather all around. Even though the film doesn't have alot going on in each scene, theirs still enough rumble to satisfy you.

Conclusion:
Slumdog Millionaire is easily the best film of 2008 in my opinion. The film not only has a strong story that's full of surprises, but its also very entertaining. I haven't seen a film this captivating and engaging in a long time. Not only does Slumdog Millionaire live up to the hype, but its easily the best film to come out in a long time. Director Danny Boyle has crafted one masterpiece of a film. The cast is great and all of them give out good performances that makes the film much more real. The visual look of the film is great and features some good looking colors. The soundtrack is simply awesome and managed to keep me tuned in through out the whole film. I can go on and on about Slumdog Millionaire and how amazing it is. I now understand why Slumdog Millionaire gets all these awards and critical praise. This is a must see for anyone who loves movies.

Grade: A

Teaser Poster For X-Men Origins: Wolverine


20th Century Fox has released the first new one-sheet poster for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, opening in theaters on May 1st. Directed by Gavin Hood, the action-thriller stars Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, will.i.am, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins, Taylor Kitsch, Dominic Monaghan and Ryan Reynolds.

Leading up to the events of X-Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film series have long been anticipated.

Thoughts:
Looks cool, but its very plain. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of getting tired of seeing Wolverine doing the same pose for almost every X-Men poster.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Universal Moving Forward With The Thing Prequel


Universal will add a new chapter to "The Thing," lining up another take on the paranoid horror classic most recently brought to the screen by John Carpenter in 1982.

Studio has set "Battlestar Galactica" exec producer Ron Moore to write the script and commercials director Matthijs Van Heijningen to direct the re-imagining.

New project borrows heavily from the John W. Campbell Jr. short story "Who Goes There," the basis of the Carpenter film and 1951 Howard Hawks original "The Thing From Another World."

It is set in a Norwegian camp and chronicles how the shape-shifting alien was first discovered and overcame the inhabitants of that camp. Strike Entertainment's Eric Newman and Marc Abraham are producing. David Foster will be exec producer.

Thoughts:
This seems unnecessary, but at least its a prequel and not a sequel. The original was great and still holds up to this day. I'm curious to see how the new movie will turn up. I'm glad its a prequel and not a sequel because I think theirs more to tell in a prequel rather than a true sequel.

New and Final Watchmen Poster


Some viewers have already gotten a glimpse of this image, as it's the same as the cover for Music soundtrack, but this is the final poster for director Zack Snyder's Watchmen.

Opening in conventional and IMAX theaters on March 6, the graphic novel adaptation stars Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson.

Thoughts:
Looks pretty cool and hopefully the movie will deliver.

Warner Bros. Rebooting Tomb Raider


Warner Bros. Pictures and producer Dan Lin (upcoming Sherlock Holmes) are in early development on a a reboot of "Tomb Raider," the popular video game action franchise featuring Lara Croft.

Paramount previously made the two movies based on the game, but the rights have since reverted to Eidos. When Time Warner upped its stake to 19.92% in Eidos in December, films rights to the property were included as part of the deal.

Lin will produce the project via his Lin Pictures while Stephen Gilchrist will co-produce; Ian Livingstone of Eidos will executive produce.

The new project, however, is expected to revamp the character and her mission and bear little resemblance to the original pictures. It will reimagine the origins of the character, her love interest and the main villain.

As an open-writing assignment, the project is still in its nascent stages. An actress who could play the role Angelina Jolie made famous would likely come on after a writer and director are attached.

Thoughts:
Sounds interesting and I'm all for it. I enjoyed the first Tomb Raider film with Jolie even though it didn't really follow the game like it should have. Never got around to watching the sequel, but I saw parts of it on TV and it didn't look good. I hope the reboot turns out much better and stays true to the Tomb Raider games because this is a franchise that I think could really be special if they take the time to write up some good stories. As for who to replace the wonderful Angelina Jolie, my pick would be Rhona Mitra. Shes very sexy and actually British. She looks exactly like the character and I'm sure she has it in her to kick some serious ass when needed (See Doomsday if you don't know what I mean).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Warner Bros. Goes to the Future with Samson


In a seven-figure upfront deal, Warner Bros. has acquired "Samson," a pitch for a futuristic retelling of the Samson and Delilah story.

"Samson" gives a futuristic twist to the story of the biblical strongman who was invincible until he was betrayed by Delilah, to whom he entrusted the secret that his strength came from his long hair.

Scott Silver will write the script, and Francis Lawrence will direct. Erwin Stoff will produce through 3 Arts.

Lawrence last directed "I Am Legend," and he is developing a prequel vehicle for Will Smith with writer D.B. Weiss.

Thoughts:
Movie sounds like it been done before or at least to some extent. Not sure how it will turn out, but I'm not really excited about it. Would have to see how it turns out before jumping ship.

Jose Padilha signs for Ludlum's Sigma Protocol


Universal has found its director for international thriller "The Sigma Protocol": Berlin prizewinner Jose Padilha.

The studio is in final negotiations with the helmer of "Eilte Squad," the action movie that won the Golden Bear at last year's Berlin International Film Festival, to direct the Robert Ludlum vehicle.

The studio is planning on a summer shoot.

"Sigma" is based on Ludlum's final complete novel, which was published after the prolific author's death. Like the Jason Bourne franchise, another big Universal property, the story involves a modern-day man on the run in Europe from a series of international assassins and agents.

The two plots differ sharply, though, with the latter using a World War II conspiracy and Nazis as a plot hook.

Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, who penned "Iron Man," are signed on to write the script.

Thoughts:
Sounds really exciting and I cant wait to see more. I have been keeping a good eye on this film and if its anything like the Bourne series than were in for a treat.

Paramount debuted six posters for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Paramount Pictures has debuted six new character posters for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, coming to theaters on August 7. Directed by Stephen Sommers, the action-adventure stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Byung Hun Lee, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Said Taghmaoui, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans and Dennis Quaid.

Thoughts:
Posters look pretty cool, but kind of reminds me of the X-Men films. With an impressive cast like that, I hope the movie turns out good. Director Stephen Sommers knows how to make fun popcorn movies so I'm not too worried.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Weekend Boxoffice Numbers


In Order

Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Studio: Columbia Pictures
This Week: $21,500,000
Last Week: $31,832,636
Total: $64,800,000
______________________________________________________
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Studio: Columbia Pictures
This Week: $20,700,000
Last Week: -
Total: $20,700,000
______________________________________________________
Gran Torino
Studio: Warner Bros.
This Week: $16,244,462
Last Week: $21,979,069
Total: $97,819,975
______________________________________________________
Hotel for Dogs
Studio: Paramount Pictures
This Week: $12,860,944
Last Week: $17,012,212
Total: $37,455,759
______________________________________________________
Slumdog Millionaire
Studio: Fox Searchlight
This Week: $10,550,000
Last Week: $5,849,157
Total: $56,065,245
______________________________________________________
My Bloody Valentine
Studio: Lionsgate
This Week: $10,050,000
Last Week: $21,241,456
Total: $37,720,000
______________________________________________________
Inkheart
Studio: Warner Bros.
This Week: $7,601,379
Last Week: -
Total: $7,601,379
______________________________________________________
Bride Wars
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $6,868,664
Last Week: $11,651,553
Total: $48,570,928
______________________________________________________
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Studio: Paramount Pictures
This Week: $6,085,919
Last Week: $5,576,862
Total: $111,129,482
______________________________________________________
Notorious
Studio: Fox Searchlight
This Week: $5,779,692
Last Week: $20,497,596
Total: $31,874,538

Thoughts:
Sony's Paul Blart continued to dominate this week by taking in a good $21 million to stay on top. I am still surprised to this day on how this film became a big success for Sony. At this rate, Paul Blart shouldn't have a problem reaching over a $100 million at the box office. Sony's other major hit of the week was the third installment of the Underworld series titled "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans". The vampire flick earned an estimated $20 million at the box office, making it the lowest opening for the franchise. I guess the absence of Kate Beckinsale, who previously starred in the first two films, had an effect on the opening for the third film.

Eastwood's Gran Torino fell two spots down to take the number 3 spot. The Warner Bros. flick is stilling bringing in solid numbers and should pass the $100 million sweet spot as soon as next week. Paramount's Hotel for Dogs climbed up one spot to come in at 4th place at the box office. The family flick brought in $12 million this week to bring its total up to $37 million. Still, this is below what people were expecting considering its a family flick. Golden Globe winner Slumdog Millionaire, jumped up a few slots and took in an impressive $10 million to push its final number to $56 million. The film has alot of buzz and its that Oscar time of the year so expect it to pull in some good number in the following weeks.

Lionsgate's 3D horror flick dropped some serious spots to bring in $10 million. Its the Oscar season and I don't see the film doing too well. Inkheart, the other major wide release of the week bombed at the box office. The Brendan Fraser adventure flick only brought in an estimated $7 million at the box office which is way below expectations. The film already cost about $60 million to make and could have some problems making the money back or at least domestically. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Notorious topped the 9th and 10th positions at the box office.

Drew Barrymore Ready for Charlie's Angels 3


Drew Barrymore told E! Online that she's ready to play Dylan Sanders again in a third installment of the "Charlie's Angels" franchise:

"I'm so into it," Barrymore said while promoting her new star-filled romantic comedy, He's Just Not That Into You. "I'm so into it—Charlie's Angels III!"

"It's percolating up," said Nancy Juvonen, Barrymore's Flower Films producing partner. "It's rising to the surface.

"Barrymore added, "They're hard movies to make, but they're fun."

The first two films, directed by McG (Terminator Salvation), co-starred Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. They took in over $523 million at the worldwide box office.

The report goes on to say that "ideas are being kicked around, including the possible introduction of a fourth Angel." After having Demi Moore play the villainess in the second film, the third movie is expected to have another guy as the baddie.

Thoughts:
I don't like the idea of another Charlie's Angels film. I mean the first two were mediocre and I don't see how another one wont be the same. I guess were going to have to wait and see.

Next Batman Movie in 2011?


New Jersey's Courier-Post talked to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight executive producer Michael Uslan, who expects the third installment of the Christopher Nolan-directed films, starring Christian Bale, to hit theaters in 2011:

Uslan will be onboard as executive producer for the "Dark Knight" sequel, which he estimates will be theaters by 2011. As for the identity of the next round of Batman's supervillains and love interests, Uslan remains tight-lipped. "It's one of those deals where if I told you, I'd have to kill you," he says with a chuckle.

Thoughts:
Sounds good, I wouldn't want them rushing out another Batman film just because The Dark Knight turned out to be a huge commercial success. I hope they take their time with the next installment and deliver a worthy sequel to The Dark Knight.

Friday, January 23, 2009

REVIEW: The Wrestler


The Wrestler

Year: 2008
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Todd Barry, Mark Margolis
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

I'm a fan of director Darren Aronofsky's work. I think hes a great director and Requiem for a Dream is still one of my personal favorites. So when his next film "The Wrestler" came along, I didn't know what to think. I mean the film sounded kind of plain from the premise I read and was somewhat of a departure for director Aronofsky whose previous films have all been weird, mind puzzling, pieces of art. Than I saw the reviews for the film and was surprised that the film actually delivered. Still, I kept my distance from the film simply because other films coming out looked alot more interesting. It was only until last week, when another fellow blogger named Fletch asked me to watch this film in a comment about the new villain for Iron Man 2.

Plot Outline:
Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rouke), is a pro wrestler who is still trying to cling on to his past. He's old, broke and all alone, but still participates in wrestling and struggles constantly to keep his life on the right track. He's also desperately trying to fix a broken relationship with his daughter Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood) who hates him and tries to start a serious relationship with a stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei). His whole life is a mess and things only became more complicated after he suffers a heart attack.

Plot:
The story for the film is pretty great. While The Wrestler wont win any awards for its script, the script still manages to keep a feel of realism in its story. I always wanted to see a good film based on the background of wrestling. I mean we all know wrestling is fake, but what goes on backstage is another story. What I really liked about this film was the fact that it kept everything to a real minimum. The story was simply just straight forward with hardly any surprises. We don't know everything that goes on backstage or what wrestlers do before a match, but the fact that everything wasn't told in a childish way is what did it for me. Everything just felt real and plain simple like the way it should be. Even the handy cam that the director chose to go with worked for me. Every shot seemed like it was just filmed with normal cameras and made the audience feel like they were right their with the main character Randy. I thought the whole cusp of the story worked nicely and delivered a solid experience about what it feels like to be on top. I also felt the ending for the film was simply beautiful and worked very nicely with where the films story was headed. What I found alittle disappointing with the film was the fact that the supporting cast didn't get enough character development. I really felt like I should be caring much more about the character Cassidy or Randy's loving daughter Stephanie.

Cast:
Mickey Rourke plays as the main star of the film, Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Rourke has been getting alot of attention for his role in this film and frankly he doesn't disappoint. He delivers a strong performance as Randy and the best performance of his career. Director Darren Aronofsky did everything in his power to secure Rourke in this role and even backed him up when studio execs were willing to go with someone else. I'm amazed to see such a great director going trough so much trouble to keep the right person he believes to be for this role. The lovely Marisa Tomei plays as Cassidy. She gives a good performance that I enjoyed and one that seemed to work fine. I'm really surprised on how well Tomei surprises me every time I see her in a film. Shes been getting alot of solid roles and I hope shes keeps it up. Evan Rachel Wood plays as Randy's daughter, Stephanie. She gives a pretty good performance, but I felt she was just screaming for the most part. I think she did a fine job here, but I could have seen someone else play this role slightly more better. Todd Barry plays as Randy's Boss, Wayne. He's somewhat funny in his role and I thought he was just right for this part. Theirs one hilarious scene in the film involving Barry's character looking at porno on his computer in his office.

Picture:
The visual look of The Wrestler isn't something that's going to blow your socks off. The film was just released a couple months ago and its film source is somewhat clean for the most part. Their was grain here and their, but I think this was the directors choice to keep the film more real. Colors are hardly anything to brag about. The film seems to have a muted look to it for the rest of the film. Colors don't pop like I would have liked them to. The only time the colors show some and I mean very little vibrancy is when Randy is in the ring wrestling. Their were a few parts of the film that seemed alittle too dark. I mean its fine when a movie is dark, but its not fine when you can hardly see anything. Black levels were somewhat strong and held up pretty well in most shots. Flesh tones seemed alright, but didn't exactly look natural the way I would have wanted to them. Detail is also mediocre at best. Close up shots just don't show the amount of detail you would expect from a new release film like this. Again, I think the film was just simply shot like this to make the film seem more realistic.

Sound:
The soundtrack in The Wrestler is pretty great and much better than the video quality of the film. The film was scored by composer Clint Mansell who also composed the music for Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, both of which were directed by Darren Aronofsky. Mansell does a good job here and his score for the film worked fine. Whats even better is that Bruce Springsteen recorded a theme for the film simply titled "The Wrestler". This song is great and really goes well with the film. Its just a shame it doesn't play through out the film, but rather at the end credit. The film also features a good amount of bass. I wasn't expecting this film to wow me in the bass department and it simply didn't, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a good amount of bass involved in this type of film. Dynamics weren't as clear and all around as I would have liked, but it still seems front heavy. Also the volume on the bass was slightly below average, but the film still features a decent amount of bass.

Conclusion:
The Wrestler was a great movie that I very much enjoyed. Its got a great story that's touching and pretty interesting to watch. I'm amazed to see director Darren Aronofsky handle such a great movie with absolute care even though its nothing like his previous films hes done before. The cast is great with Mickey Rourke giving a performance that's easily the best hes ever given and one that's sure to surprise alot of people. He was the ideal choice for this role and I'm so happy to have seen him play it so smoothly. The visual look of the film is pretty bad and somewhat dark. I'm sure this was the directors intent to make the film seem more realistic, but its pretty bad in terms of today's standards. The soundtrack is pretty great and completes the film. I enjoyed Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" theme and thought it went well with the film. I can easily recommend this film to those looking for a great movie. Even if you aren't a wrestling fan, this is still a movie to definitely watch.

Grade: B+

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Weekend Boxoffice Numbers


In Order

Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Studio: Columbia Pictures
This Week: $31,832,636
Last Week: -
Total: $31,832,636
______________________________________________________
Gran Torino
Studio: Warner Bros.
This Week: $21,979,069
Last Week: $29,484,388
Total: $72,976,480
______________________________________________________
My Bloody Valentine
Studio: Lionsgate
This Week: $21,241,456
Last Week: -
Total: $21,241,456
______________________________________________________
Notorious
Studio: Fox Searchlight
This Week: $20,497,596
Last Week: -
Total: $20,497,596
______________________________________________________
Hotel for Dogs
Studio: Paramount Pictures
This Week: $17,012,212
Last Week: -
Total: $17,012,212
______________________________________________________
Bride Wars
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $11,651,553
Last Week: $21,058,173
Total: $37,478,678
______________________________________________________
The Unborn
Studio: Rogue Pictures
This Week: $9,341,985
Last Week: $19,810,585
Total: $32,581,140
______________________________________________________
Defiance
Studio: Paramount Vantage
This Week: $8,911,827
Last Week: $68,183
Total: $9,252,455
______________________________________________________
Marley & Me
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $6,138,859
Last Week: $11,391,425
Total: $132,548,142
______________________________________________________
Slumdog Millionaire
Studio: Fox Searchlight
This Week: $5,849,157
Last Week: $3,782,340
Total: $42,686,362

Thoughts:
Sony's Paul Blart surprised alot of us and opened at number 1 at the box office. The comedy starring Kevin James, opened with an impressive $31 million in over 3,000 theaters. I was expecting this film to bomb considering its just a movie based on a mall security cop trying to stop a couple of thugs from taking over the mall, but I was proven wrong. Last week's Gran Torino fell one spot down to number 2 and brought in a good $21 million. The Clint Eastwood flick is still pulling in good numbers and its steady reviews are helping it. I can see it passing the $100 million mark soon.

Lionsgate's 3D horror flick "My Bloody Valentine", brought in a good $21 million to take the number 3 spot. I haven't seen the movie, but alot of people I talked to that have seen it, said it was pretty good in 3D. Notorious, the film based on Biggie Smalls, surprised alot of people when it brought in an impressive $20 million in only 1,600 theaters. I wasn't expecting this much for the biopic flick, but I was once again proven wrong. Not only that, but the film managed to make that much money in almost half the theaters Paul Blart was in.

Paramount's Hotel for Dogs pulled in $17 million for the weekend which is alot lower than what I was expecting for the family flick. Bride Wars and The Unborn fell a few spots with $11 million and $9 million respectively. Defiance managed to bring in almost $9 million with the help of a more wider release.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First Look at Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are


The Girl Skate Company, which was co-founded by Where the Wild Things Are director Spike Jonze, has posted a promo photo from the film and this first look at skateboard series that include photos of the monsters in the movie.

Max Records plays Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, who creates his own world — a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler. The cast also includes Catherine Keener, Max Records, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, and Forest Whitaker.

Based on Maurice Sendak's classic book, the Warner Bros. release hits theaters on October 16, 2009.

Thoughts:
I loved and adored the book when I was a kid. I'm really happy they made the monsters look exactly like they were in the book and I'm excited to see how this turns out. This could be a huge flop for director Jonze and Warner Bros. or this could actually end up good. I hope the film turns out great and I cant wait to see more of it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

REVIEW: The Unborn


The Unborn

Year: 2009
Director: David S. Goyer
Starring: Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, Idris Elba
Distributor: Rogue Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

I'll admit, I was somewhat eager to see The Unborn. When I first caught glimpse of its trailer, I thought it looked alittle scary. Their aren't that many movies these days that tend to look scary or are scary, but The Unborn looked pretty scary to me judging by the trailer. Not only that, but the poster itself made me cave. I mean who wouldn't see a movie when the films poster has Odette Yustman on the cover in a nice sexy shot? Its also been awhile since I saw a horror movie and this was the only one in theaters that actually looked kind of scary.

Plot Outline:
Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) is plagued by visions of strange looking dogs, and an evil child with bright blue eyes. After being hit with a mirror by her neighbor's son, Casey's eyes begin to change color and she learns she had a twin brother who died in the womb. Casey begins to suspect that the spirit haunting her is the soul of her dead twin, being possessed and wanting to be born so it can transfer to the world of the living.

Plot:
The plot for the film is so un-original and has been done many times before. I mean the film can be somewhat interesting if your into films about exorcism, but it just didn't cut it for me. It didn't help that the dialogue was also pretty bad. It amazes me that David S. Goyer wrote and directed this film. I mean this is the guy who co-wrote Batman Begins and The Dark Knight with director Christopher Nolan. I mean the writing in both the Batman films weren't perfect, but they are a whole lot better that what we have in this film. The dialogue isn't the worst I have seen or anything like that, but its a disappointment when compared to some of the other films Goyer wrote. The ending is also a bit of a surprise and not what I was predicting. I thought it was appropriate and probably the only ending that would have made sense. The Unborn is also a weak scary movie. I thought the trailers looked pretty scary, but the film itself hardly holds a candle to other scarier films. Their were only like 1 or 2 spots that actually made me sake, but last years "The Strangers" had alot more. Honestly, The Unborn seems like a horror flick that would have made a good movie trailer and not an actual movie. Theirs just too many things that don't add up and when they do, they aren't satisfying.

Cast:
Odette Yustman plays as the main character of the film, Casey Beldon. She does an alright job in her role, but I don't think I found her character to be scared of her surroundings. I mean you would think the main character of the film would be somewhat scared when she finds out that she has an unborn evil brother, but she didn't seem too scared. Other than that, I found her to be very sexy in her role. Gary Oldman plays as Rabbi Sendak and it makes you wonder why a good actor like him is in a low budget horror flick like this. He seems pretty wasted in this movie and never manages to convince me hes in character. Its like he filmed his scenes in a few days and got the hell out of their. Meagan Good plays as Casey's best friend, Romy. She seems like the only person in the film that actually seems like shes enjoying her role. She isn't great, but she gets her job done. We also have Cam Gigandet playing as Casey's boyfriend, Mark Hardigan. He plays the typical guy in any horror movie and doesn't bring anything new to the table that we haven't seen before. I guess his acting is sufficient, but not great.

Picture:
The visual look of the movie is pretty great and is probably the only thing really positive about the movie. The special effects for the film seem pretty good, but I have seen better. I also find it aliitle weird that theirs hardly any blood effects in the film. Being a new release, The Unborn is relatively a good looking movie. I didn't detect any film grain and the film always seemed clean of artifacts. Colors seemed slightly muted with an overcast feel to them, but was generally strong. The film was mostly shot in darker scenes that don't contain much lighting and some of the later scenes show this. Black levels are strong for the most part except for a few scenes which felt alittle flat. Flesh tones are spot on and have a natural feeling to them. Detail is also on the strong side and features some nicely detailed shots. Close up shots show good detail and everything looks the way it should.

Sound:
The soundtrack in The Unborn is just so average at best. Theirs hardly anything in the films soundtrack that I would personally listen to. The film doesn't have a score that's worth mentioning. A good score would have easily helped this film seem much more scarier than it is. With the right amount of music, the film could have been so much more. I would have seriously taken a page from The Strangers in this department. Bass is slightly above average, but still doesn't do much to impress. Dynamics are nice and even, but the film still feels alittle soft in the form of its bass. A strong bass would have also helped this film alot considering theirs one scene in particular that I thought would have benefited alot. This is the scene where Casey is pinned against the ceiling upside down looking at her sleeping body. The bass would have helped this scene greatly.

Conclusion:
The Unborn honestly feels like another average horror flick that's based on exorcism. It doesn't bring anything new or creative to the horror genre. The film starts off somewhat interesting, but just doesn't maintain that interest and feels like another get to point A from point B film. It also doesn't help that the film itself isn't very scary or bloody which is usually the right ingredients in making a good horror movie. The cast is decent at best, but even they cant make a bad movie any good. The visual look of the film is great with some strong black levels and a good amount of detail. The soundtrack is forgettable and hardly enticing. A good score and a good amount of bass could have helped this film alot. I cant say I enjoyed The Unborn, but I also cant admit that its the worst movie I have seen. Its just a disappointing film that doesn't deliver, but is somewhat decent compared to some other horrible horror flicks I have seen in the past.

Grade: D

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tom Hooper and Christopher Hampton Board East of Eden


Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer have set "John Adams" helmer Tom Hooper to direct and Christopher Hampton to write East of Eden, an adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel.

Grazer will produce with Grand Illusions Entertainment's Jonathan Sanger and Ed Albert.

First published in 1952, "East of Eden" is Steinbeck's retelling of the Cain and Abel story, set in California's Salinas Valley. The multigenerational story focuses on the Trask brothers and a woman who comes between the siblings.

The studio hopes to put the film in production later this year.

Thoughts:
Never read the book, but it sounds pretty interesting. The miniseries "John Adams", won over 13 Emmy awards and 4 Golden Globes so I'm sure director Tom Hooper will do a fine job with the famous novel.

Jackie Chan Set To Join The Karate Kid Remake


Jackie Chan is in final negotiations to join the Columbia Pictures remake of The Karate Kid.

Harald Zwart will direct the film, which has been revamped as a starring vehicle for Jaden Smith.

Set in an exotic Asian locale, the new film will borrow elements of the original plot, wherein a bullied youth (Jaden Smith) learns to stand up for himself with the help of an eccentric mentor (Jackie Chan).

Chris Murphy wrote the screenplay. The film will shoot early this summer in Beijing.

Thoughts:
I thought the original was a good movie, but this remake seems totally unnecessary. I guess were going to have to wait and see how this turns out.

Universal Unleashes New Fast & Furious Trailer


Universal Pictures has revealed the full new trailer for Fast & Furious, opening in theaters on April 3. The Justin Lin-directed action-thriller reteams Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.

When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmanuever him. And from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

Thoughts:
Trailer looks very cool and I'm now stoked for this film. I really enjoyed the original and thought the 3rd film was fun. Here's hoping this one turns out even better than the original.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brendan Fraser Joins Harrison Ford in Crowley


Brendan Fraser will play the title role in director Tom Vaughan's Crowley, joining Harrison Ford in the film that begins shooting April in Portland.

The drama is based on the true story of John and Aileen Crowley, whose two children had a rare genetic disorder. Rather than give up hope that nothing could help his children, John Crowley found a researcher (Ford) with a potential cure.

Ford also will executive produce the film inspired by a Wall Street Journal article and subsequent book, "The Cure," by Geeta Anand.

Thoughts:
So Rick O'Connell and Indiana Jones in a movie together? I think the movie sounds somewhat interesting and I tend to enjoy Fraser more in drama movies. Hope the film turns out good.

Weekend Boxoffice Numbers


In Order

Gran Torino
Studio: Warner Bros.
This Week: $29,484,388
Last Week: $2,936,423
Total: $40,524,518
________________________________________________________
Bride Wars
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $21,058,173
Last Week: -
Total: $21,058,173
________________________________________________________
The Unborn
Studio: Rogue Pictures
This Week: $19,810,585
Last Week: -
Total: $19,810,585
________________________________________________________
Marley & Me
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $11,391,425
Last Week: $24,263,763
Total: $123,751,596
________________________________________________________
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Studio: Paramount Pictures
This Week: $9,212,515
Last Week: $18,691,248
Total: $94,092,395
________________________________________________________
Bedtime Stories
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
This Week: $8,550,000
Last Week: $20,501,339
Total: $97,180,000
________________________________________________________
Valkyrie
Studio: United Artists
This Week: $6,662,000
Last Week: $14,094,617
Total: $71,509,383
________________________________________________________
Yes Man
Studio: Warner Bros.
This Week: $6,032,337
Last Week: $13,910,477
Total: $89,288,024
________________________________________________________
Not Easily Broken
Studio: Columbia Pictures
This Week: $5,600,000
Last Week: -
Total: $5,600,000
________________________________________________________
Seven Pounds
Studio: Columbia Pictures
This Week: $3,900,000
Last Week: $10,068,518
Total: $66,830,000

Thoughts:
We had 3 wide releases this week and all three of them made the top 10. Warner Bros. released Eastwood's Gran Torino in over 2,700 theaters which resulted in a big opening for the film. The film picked up whopping $29 million and has now become Eastwood's biggest opener. With Warner Bros. spending alot on heavily advertising this film, I can see Gran Torino cruising past $100 million. Fox's Bride Wars opened in second place with $21 million. This may look good for 20th Century Fox on paper, but considering the movie opened in over 3,000 theaters and barely managed to pass Rogue Pictures' The Unborn which opened in alittle more than 2,000 theaters, is kind of disappointing. This definetly isnt a good way to start the new year. Still, the $30 million budgeted flick should pass its budget and that should be enough for Fox.

The other wide release this week was Rogue Picture's The Unborn. The horror flick from writer/director David S. Goyer opened with an impressive $19 million. The film was in about 1,000 less theaters than Fox's Bride Wars and still managed a tight race. A review for the film is in the works. Last week's number one film "Marley & Me", fell four spots down and grossed an estimated $11 million. The animal comedy flick should still manage to pull past the $150 million mark. David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was able to pass Disney's Bedtime Stories and grossed an estimated $9 million while the Disney flick brought in $8million. Valkyrie and Yes Man took the 7th and 8th spot on the top 10.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Poster


Yahoo! Movies has debuted the new poster for Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, opening in conventional theaters and IMAX on June 26. The anticipated sequel stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Benjamin Hickey, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas and John Turturro.

Thoughts:
Poster looks alright for a teaser poster, but I think its alittle too dark. I guess this can hold us over until the first teaser trailer that's suppose to come next month.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

James Mangold To Direct Juliet


Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to "Juliet," a novel by Danish author Anne Fortier, for James Mangold and Cathy Konrad to produce through their Tree Line Film banner. Mangold is also attached to direct the adaptation.

The story, which takes a cue from "Romeo and Juliet," toggles from medieval Siena to the present day in a story about a woman who discovers she may be descended from the people who inspired one of the most popular and tragic love stories of all time.

No writer is on board to adapt. Husband-and-wife team Mangold and Konrad last worked on 2007's "3:10 to Yuma." Tree Line is developing the time-travel thriller "The Archive," also at Universal.

Thoughts:
I think James Mangold is a great director. I thought Walk the Line was a great film and heard so many good things about 3:10 to Yuma. I'm excited for his next film and cant wait to check it out.

Mickey Rourke To Play Baddie In Iron Man 2?


Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) is in talks to play the main heavy in “Iron Man 2,” the Marvel Entertainment sequel that director Jon Favreau begins shooting this spring.

Rourke is in discussions to play the Crimson Dynamo, a heavily tattooed Russian arms dealer. He’s considered to be an evil version of Iron Man because he battles the superhero in a nuclear-powered suit of armor.
Script is still being written by Justin Theroux, and Marvel has been trying to keep a wrap on details leaking out to fanboys.

Iron Man 2 opens in theaters summer 2010 and is to be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Thoughts:
Haven't seen The Wrestler yet, but I heard so many great things about that film. I mostly enjoy most of Rourke's performances and I think he would be an ideal villain in Iron Man 2.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Weekend Boxoffice Numbers


In Order

Marley & Me
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $24,263,763
Last Week: $36,357,586
Total: $106,664,046
_______________________________________________________
Bedtime Stories
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
This Week: $20,501,339
Last Week: $27,450,296
Total: $85,539,168
_______________________________________________________
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Studio: Paramount Pictures
This Week: $18,691,248
Last Week: $26,853,816
Total: $79,297,086
_______________________________________________________
Valkyrie
Studio: United Artists
This Week: $14,094,617
Last Week: $21,027,007
Total: $60,743,921
_______________________________________________________
Yes Man
Studio: Warner Bros.
This Week: $13,910,477
Last Week: $16,657,046
Total: $79,507,388
_______________________________________________________
Seven Pounds
Studio: Columbia Pictures
This Week: $10,068,518
Last Week: $13,203,236
Total: $60,147,298
_______________________________________________________
The Tale of Despereaux
Studio: Universal Pictures
This Week: $6,939,295
Last Week: $8,932,625
Total: $43,661,775
_______________________________________________________
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Studio: 20th Century Fox
This Week: $5,049,698
Last Week: $7,697,799
Total: $74,424,256
_______________________________________________________
Doubt
Studio: Miramax
This Week: $5,000,893
Last Week: $5,339,742
Total: $18,705,481
_______________________________________________________
Slumdog Millionaire
Studio: Fox Searchlight
This Week: $4,690,769
Last Week: $4,301,870
Total: $28,676,598

Thoughts:
This week looks pretty much like last weeks except for a few minor differences. Fox's Marley & Me continues to perform well and has already passed the $100 million mark. This was a film that Fox badly needed, its just a shame that the studio couldn't get more films like this earlier on in the summer. I can see Marley & Me going on to make more than $150 million during its theatrical run. Disney's Bedtime Stories came in second with about $20 million. The Adam Sandler flick should finish at $125 million.

David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button brought in about $18 million for a total of $79 million. The $150 million budgeted film is going to have a tough time matching its high budget, but I can see the film grossing more than $120 million. Valkyrie scored the 4th spot with $14 million with a total of $60 million. The Tom Cruise Hitler flick should be able to crack the $80 million spot with a chance at $90 million. The film was great and I think more people should check it out. Jim Carrey's Yes Man took in $13 million this week and should finish at $100 million after its initial run. Doubt climbed up one spot and brought in another $5 million for a total of $18 million.

Director Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire grossed an impressive $4 million and made the top 10 this week. The Oscar buzzed flick is still in only 600 theaters and is still continuing to do business.

D.J. Caruso Lands "Jack the Giant Killer"


New Line has set D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) to direct "Jack the Giant Killer," a drama that takes an adult look at the Jack and the Beanstalk legend.

When a princess is kidnapped, a long-standing peace between men and giants becomes threatened, and a young farmer is given an opportunity to lead a dangerous expedition to the giant kingdom to rescue her.

Mark Bomback ("Race to Witch Mountain") wrote the script. Neal Moritz is producing.

Thoughts:
I hope it turns out better than his last film, Eagle Eye. Disturbia was a pretty good film and Eagle Eye definitely had the potential to be one too, but just couldn't deliver. Here's hoping he can bounce back with this film.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost join Spielberg’s Tintin Film


Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will play the Thompson Twins in Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg’s two-pic "Tintin" project.

The 3-D performance-capture films, based on Georges Remi's comic books and co-financed by Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment, will center on Tintin’s globetrotting adventures as a fearless reporter. In the books, the Thompson Twins are a pair of incompetent, clumsy detectives who can only be told apart by the shape of their moustaches — Thompson, with a “p,” has a flat moustache, while Thomson, without the “p,” has a flared version.

As previously reported, Andy Serkis will play Tintin’s sidekick Captain Haddock. Tintin has yet to be cast. Thomas Sangster had been set for the role, but exited the project when it was delayed due to funding difficulties caused by the DreamWorks/Paramount split.

The first film is still being directed by Steven Spielberg while the second is being directed by Peter Jackson.

Thoughts:
OK, now I'm alittle more excited about this film. Both Pegg and Frost are great when working together. Here's hoping it turns out good.

New Street Fighter Poster Revealed


20th Century Fox has released the poster for Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (Cradle 2 the Grave, Doom), the PG-13 video game adaptation hits theaters on February 27. It stars Kristin Kreuk, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neal McDonough, Taboo, Chris Klein, Moon Bloodgood, Edmund Chen, Cheng Pei Pei, Josie Ho and Robin Shou.

Thoughts:
What on Earth was Fox thinking when they picked up distribution rights for this film. I mean the first Street Fighter film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme was already bad and hardly entertaining. I smell a big box office flop, they should have just stuck to a direct-to DVD thing.

Relativity Media Buys Rogue Pictures


After more than two months of negotiations, Relativity Media has closed a deal to buy Rogue Pictures from Universal Pictures for roughly $150 million.

Move bolsters Relativity's library, adding some 30 titles, including Rogue's debut pic "Unleashed" and summer horror hit "The Strangers," which earned $53 million. Relativity's new assets also include more than 30 Rogue projects in various stages of development, such as a "Strangers" sequel, which has a finished script. Relativity will inherit a number of producing deals as well, including those with Wes Craven and Intrepid.


A source familiar with the deal dubbed the $150 million sale price a bargain, adding that in a better economy, the consistently profitable genre label could have fetched perhaps more than double that sum. But Universal also comes out of the deal a winner, taking a lump cash payment now and retaining a distribution stake in future Rogue films. As part of the deal, Universal will continue to release Rogue titles for most of the world and collect a discounted distribution fee of roughly 10%, which is less than the standard rate of 12% but more than the 8% that companies like Marvel and DreamWorks Animation pay.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of Relativity's landmark equity partnership with Universal (announced earlier this fall) where Relativity will fund a substantial part of Universal's upcoming slate until 2015.

Founded in 2004 by David Linde and James Schamus, Rogue Pictures is devoted to producing high-quality suspense, action, thriller, comedy and urban entertainment with mainstream appeal and franchise potential. Past hits include: The Strangers, Waist Deep, The Hitcher, Balls of Fury, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Dave Chapelle's Block Party, Unleashed, Doomsday, Fearless, and Assault on Precinct 13.

Thoughts:
Sounds like a promising deal for Universal. They still get distribution rights to Rogue films in most of the world and Relativity Media helps fund the films. This is also a major coup for Relativity Media since Rogue Pictures has been generating nothing, but profit from some of their latest films and I have a feeling that Rogue is going to become alot more valuable in the future.