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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone!!! Seeing as how it was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed that Thanksgiving be turned into an official American holiday, just thought it would be fitting (kinda) to post the meme below. One of my friends posted this on Facebook. Of course, this pic may be true with Steven Spielberg's latest film that's out in theaters now (I haven't watched it yet)...but I don't think the flick that was released last June which portrays the 16th President of the United States as a vampire hunter was exactly a box office hit. John Wilkes Booth would be amused... A bit much?

Abraham Lincoln may be doing well in Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN, but this was not the case with last June's ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An alien destroyer destroys the White House in INDEPENDENCE DAY.

Independence Day & Star Wars (3-D) Updates... Earlier today, I found out that FOX cancelled (or put on hiatus...either way we won't be seeing the White House get obliterated by a 15-mile-wide alien destroyer on the big screen again in 2013) its plans to re-release Independence Day in 3-D next July. That's a bummer. On the plus side, though, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith 3D will be coming out in cinemas only two weeks (on October 4...which is my birthday) after the theatrical release of Attack of the Clones 3D (on September 20) next fall. Sith was originally supposed to return to theaters three weeks after Clones did, on October 11, 2013.

Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala in STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

What I still want to know is, will Disney make a deal with FOX where the Twentieth Century Fox logo will appear in front of Episodes VII-IX? Disney and Lucasfilm apparently will be having Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote the classic screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) write the script for Episode VIII or IX (Michael Arndt will be working on the screenplay for Episode VII) and help produce the sequel trilogy altogether... Having FOX take some role in the new movies will help ensure that they stay in continuity with the six current films in the Star Wars saga. Obviously. That is all.

Darth Vader rises on his operating table, and turns to his new master, Emperor Palpatine, in STAR WARS: EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Daniel Craig is back as James Bond in SKYFALL.

Skyfall: Movie Review... Last weekend, I watched the latest installment in the James Bond series...and in comparison to Daniel Craig's last 007 film, Quantum of Solace, this flick was pretty good. Helmed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, Skyfall makes up for the poor editing and a bizarre climax (Why would there be a hotel right in the middle of the Bolivian desert?) in the previous Bond movie with an interesting story and a climax that impacts future Bond sequels (assuming Craig retains the role of 007 in a few more installments and the supporting cast stays the same). But more importantly, the Joker-esque villain played by Javier Bardem makes up for the oil-loving sissy mary who was supposedly a bad-ass in Quantum of Solace.

Naomie Harris as Eve in SKYFALL.

Staying true to the exciting but outlandish chase sequence in Madagascar that opened Casino Royale, Skyfall also begins with an exciting but outlandish car chase and fight scene that takes place in Turkey. (The car chase that opens Quantum of Solace would've been just as exciting if each shot in the scene stayed on-screen for more than 2 seconds.) From there (and going through an opening credit sequence that plays to a song nicely made for this movie by Adele), Skyfall takes on a more serious tone...as a mysterious figure begins to torment M (once again played admirably by Judi Dench) by blowing up MI6 Headquarters in London and threatening to reveal the identity of field agents embedded within terrorist groups across the globe. James Bond arrives on the scene (after being presumed dead since the fight scene in Turkey didn't end so well for him) to figure out who this unknown entity is. After having to go through re-certification as an MI6 agent because he was MIA for quite a while, 007 meets up with Q (played by Ben Whishaw, who is also in the recent Tom Hanks flick, Cloud Atlas), gets a cool gun and a radio transmitter, and is off to Shanghai.

Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva in SKYFALL.

One of the highlights of Skyfall is the scene in Shanghai. Not only does Bond meet Sévérine (played by the beautiful and very tall Bérénice Lim Marlohe), but one of the best fight scenes takes place in this Chinese metropolis as Bond confronts the assassin who we last saw fighting 007 on top of a train in Turkey at the beginning of the film. The cinematography as Bond dukes it out with (and unintentionally dispatches) the assassin on the upper floor of a skyscraper is remarkable. It is after this sequence that Bond actually comes face-to-face with Sévérine, and in turn, they go to a small island off the coast of Macau where 007 finally meets the man who was wreaking havoc on MI6: former MI6 agent, Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem).

Judi Dench returns as M in SKYFALL.

As mentioned in the very first paragraph above, Silva is portrayed in a Joker-esque (as in the Oscar-winning version played by the late Heath Ledger) manner by Javier Bardem. Much as how the Joker made a nice little speech to Harvey Dent about how he was like a dog chasing cars in The Dark Knight, Silva makes a nice analogy to 007 about how they are like two rats left standing to fend for themselves after the rest of the rats in this world ate themselves into oblivion. You'd have to watch the movie to fully understand this analogy, but Silva wants—to quote Alfred from The Dark Knight—to see the world burn in Skyfall. Or at least the world of MI6...since everything that he is doing is out of revenge against his former employer, and M in general.

Bérénice Lim Marlohe as Sévérine in SKYFALL.

I won't go into details about how Silva eventually makes his way back to London (well okay, Bond bests him during that island confrontation and has Silva taken into custody), but when he does end up in Britain, that's where he does the most damage. As we come to realize, it was always Silva's intention to go back to the UK...as his plans start to fall into place to find M and make her pay for the injustice he faced when she left him to suffer in the last excursion he had as a British intelligence agent. As expected, 007 comes to the rescue once more...and soon he and M evade Silva and his men and escape to a place far away from London that is the reason why this movie is called Skyfall.

Ben Whishaw plays Q in SKYFALL.

I'm not going to post any more plot spoilers here, but in an image that is once again reminiscent of a shot of the Joker in The Dark Knight (particularly the scene where the Clown Prince of Crime plays chicken with the Batpod after Batman flips over that truck the Joker was driving), we see the silhouette of Silva as he stumbles toward a house where M and Bond were hiding before it was completely engulfed in flames. Silva eventually comes face-to-face with M in an abandoned church...but true to his heroic nature, 007 arrives on the scene again to show that he is the "last rat standing."

Ralph Fiennes plays Gareth Mallory in SKYFALL.

I'm hoping that Daniel Craig will remain as James Bond for a couple more installments. In contrast to Pierce Brosnan's pretty-boy stylistic approach to his role as 007, Craig looks like the sullen protagonist who would do everything in his power to accomplish the job and save those around him (for the most part... The final scene in Casino Royale kinda contradicts this statement). Some people say that Skyfall is one of the best Bond films yet, and I agree with them. With MI6 now looking different after the events that transpired during this movie, it looks like 007 will have even more resources at his disposal to save the world...while at the same time making out with hot Bond girls in the shower and having martinis that are shaken, not stirred. That is all.

James Bond and Raoul Silva have a conversation about rats in SKYFALL.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

STAR WARS: EPISODE VII logo.

Star Wars and Transformers Updates... Recent developments have taken place in regards to two highly-anticipated summer films that will most definitely have their visual effects worked on by the now-Disney-owned FX house Industrial Light& Magic. In regards to Star Wars, Michael Arndt (who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for 2006's Little Miss Sunshine as well as next year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) has been chosen to write the script for 2015's Episode VII (which will go off a 50-page treatment that Arndt submitted to Disney and Lucasfilm prior to being hired)...while Mark Wahlberg joins the cast of Michael Bay's Transformers 4 (whose story is set to take place four years after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon). TF4 gets released in theaters nationwide on June 27, 2014. Wahlberg will also star in Bay's upcoming action comedy Pain and Gain, scheduled to come out in cinemas on April 26, 2013.

TRANSFORMERS 4 logo.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ralph (John C. Reilly) confers with his fellow video game bad guys in WRECK-IT RALPH.

Wreck-It Ralph... I saw the new animated film earlier today, and needless to say, it's another Pixar masterpiece. Wreck-It Ralph combines the awesome action sequences of 2004's The Incredibles with the heartfelt sincerity of 2001's Monsters, Inc. Like Monsters, Inc., this latest movie revolves around a character who—despite making a living out of scaring people and causing havoc—just wants to feel accepted and learns that he has a soft-side to him after befriending a young child. While this may sound like a bad thing in that it makes Wreck-It Ralph look not-so-original, this is actually a plus in a long line of pluses that made this film totally entertaining to watch. There are lots of nice plot twists in Wreck-It Ralph...even though it's a kid's flick and not say, The Usual Suspects.

Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) shakes hands with Ralph in WRECK-IT RALPH.

Wreck-It Ralph has a stellar cast in it—with John C. Reilly lending his voice as the title character Ralph, Sarah Silverman playing the adorable 'glitch' named Vanellope, Jack McBrayer (of NBC's 30 Rock) voicing Fix-It Felix, Jr. (who's supposed to be like Super Mario while Ralph is paying homage to Donkey Kong), Glee's Jane Lynch as the bad-ass Sergeant Calhoun, comedian Adam Carolla as Wynnchel, the always-hilarious Alan Tudyk as King Candy, The Office's Mindy Kaling as Taffyta Muttonfudge, Superbad's Joe Lo Truglio as Markowski, Modern Family's Ed O'Neill as Mr. Litwak and 24's Dennis Haysbert as General Hologram. Clearly, Disney spent lots of money to get such talented actors to lend their voices to this production.

Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) parties with his fellow neighbors in WRECK-IT RALPH.

Wreck-It Ralph has lots of familiar video game characters in it...such as Pac-Man, Bowser from Super Mario Bros., various combatants from Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Paperboy from Paperboy and even the high-tech soldiers of Xbox's ultra-popular Halo (though the title was changed to Hero's Duty...most likely due to copyright issues with Microsoft, and the fact the title is making a reference to another mega-hit video game series, Call of Duty). Wreck-It Ralph makes clever use of actual characters (I wonder how much Capcom was paid to allow Ralph to be featured in a Street Fighter II gaming scene where he gets electrocuted by Blanka?)...and found a funny way to integrate these characters into a storyline that, as mentioned in the first paragraph above, has unexpected moments in it. What kind of unexpected moments, you ask? Well— Let's just say that the main villain isn't what you'd expect him to be. There's a reason why it's a bad thing to go 'turbo' in the world of Wreck-It Ralph.

Ralph and Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) are immersed in the world of HERO'S DUTY in WRECK-IT RALPH.

Like The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and WALL-E, I expect Wreck-It Ralph to get a Best Animated Feature Film nomination (and possibly win it) at next year's Academy Awards. I never saw Pixar's summer film Brave because it quite frankly looked unappealing...but I'll be rooting for Pixar to get some nice accolades for this latest cinematic hit. Now if you excuse me, I think I'll go play Streetfighter II on Super Nintendo. No wait— I don't have my SNES anymore. Darn it.

Ralph wins a medal after completing the first level of HERO'S DUTY in WRECK-IT RALPH.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Alex (Kathryn Newton) is unaware that a demon child is standing at the door of her bedroom in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

Paranormal Activity 4... So earlier today, I finally got around to seeing the fourth installment in the 'Katie the Demon' film series (I made this term up), and needless to say, where are Sam and Dean Winchester when you need them? I, of course, am referring to the demon-hunting brothers of the hit CW Network TV show Supernatural...as Paranormal Activity 4 continues to chronicle the exploits of a woman (Katie, played by Katie Featherston) and how her possession by a demon due to a long-standing family curse causes her to wreak death and destruction on those around her. Whether it's against Katie's own sibling (as in the case of Paranormal Activity 2), her mother's boyfriend (in Paranormal Activity 3) or a poor unsuspecting family who made the unfortunate decision of adopting a child with a dark secret (this latest film), the demon doesn't discriminate in eliminating those who stand in the way of the pact it made with other women in Katie's bloodline a long time ago.

Robbie (Brady Allen) communicates with a mysterious entity in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

In terms of the question that most of you are probably asking (Was the movie scary?), it has its moments. What makes Paranormal Activity 4 (and the previous installments in this series) interesting is that you wanted to see frightening stuff going on—but not to the point where you actually had to cover your eyes or look away. A lot of the violence is implied or held back, as in the case of one kitchen scene in the movie. The mom (Holly, played by Alexondra Lee), is slicing vegetables at a cutting board when something nearby causes her to briefly look away. As she does so, you see the knife suddenly shoot up towards the ceiling...with Holly wondering where the utensil went when she focuses her attention back to the vegetables again. In a tense moment, you're cringing that the knife will suddenly fall from the ceiling and impale the top of her head as she is trying to locate the sharp object. Needless to say, the scene ends with her unscathed but unable to find where the knife went. You think the knife will play a crucial role later in the movie, but no, it merely falls back to the cutting board as a way to scare another member of Holly's family in a subsequent scene.

Alex is the victim of paranormal activity in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

As I said in the previous paragraph, Paranormal Activity 4 is scary (with occasional bouts of welcomed humor)...but not as scary as the previous movies (especially Paranormal Activity 2). With the earlier films, the audience does not fully know why Katie's family is being haunted—making the mysterious paranormal activities occurring in their house all the more frightening. By the fourth film however, it's clearly obvious that only those unfortunate enough to cross paths with Katie will face the wrath of the demon (or demons). So the gist of Paranormal Activity 4 is that you should be careful when adopting kids (for they may be demon spawns), and that the latest web cameras carry a cool night vision function that allows you to see aforementioned spawn about to possess a hapless child. Freaky stuff. That is all.

Katie (Katie Featherston) stands at the end of a dark hallway...waiting to strike a victim unfortunate enough to venture into her house in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When You Wish Upon A (Death) Star...

More Star Wars Films Are On The Way! George Lucas just got $4.05 billion richer after he sold Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound to the Walt Disney Company two days ago. Now, Star Wars fans who miss reading online spoilers about the prequels a decade ago can relive those glory days as Star Wars: Episode VII is targeted for theatrical release in 2015. Episode VIII would make its cinematic debut two or three years after that, and then Episode IX completes the long-awaited sequel trilogy.

Darth Vader rises in STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH.

Personally speaking, I'm actually excited about new live-action Star Wars flicks being on the way. The chances of George Lucas coming back to direct any of the new films are remote (thank goodness)...seeing as how the whole point of selling his beloved franchise to Mickey Mouse and company was to enjoy that little thing called retirement. However, it remains to be seen if Harrison Ford will make any kind of appearance as Han Solo (seeing as how he's not a huge fan of Star Wars). Ditto with Mark Hamill (though I'm sure the chances of him making his glorious return as Luke Skywalker are pretty good) and Carrie Fisher (though the chances of her wearing anything even remotely resembling her golden metal bikini in Return of the Jedi are, needless to say, slim.) I hope John Williams will remain healthy enough (knock on wood) to compose the music score for the new trilogy—though I'm wondering if Twentieth Century Fox will have any involvement with Episodes VII-IX. The opening Fox logo with its Alfred Newman fanfare is, after all, just as iconic to Star Wars movies as lightsaber duels are.

X-Wing starfighters prepare to attack the Death Star in STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE.

My obsession with Star Wars started in 1995 (about a year after Lucas announced that he was going to film the prequels) and ended in 2005 (after the release of Revenge of the Sith), or so I thought. To borrow a line by Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part III: "Just when I thought I was out of the Star Wars fan club, Disney pulls me back in!" Oh well.

Star Wars artwork.