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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tom Hanks plays Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

Captain Phillips... Check out the newest trailer for Paul Greengrass' upcoming film Captain Phillips...which is about the 2009 hijacking of the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The reason why this movie is exciting enough for me to post screenshots from the preview is because of how the actual event ended: Like in Zero Dark Thirty, the heroism of U.S. Navy SEALs is on display when they are able to free Captain Richard Phillips from the marauders. In case you don't know how he was released from captivity, wait till the flick gets released in theaters nationwide (on October 11) to find out. It's pretty awesome how Phillips' liberation took place. One shot. One kill.

Water hoses aboard the Maersk Alabama are activated to thwart Somali pirates from approaching the cargo ship in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

A Somali pirate confronts Captain Richard Phillips aboard the bridge of the Maersk Alabama in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

U.S. Navy SEALs deploy to the Indian Ocean to respond to the Maersk Alabama's hijacking in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.


Friday, June 28, 2013

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is President Sawyer's (Jamie Foxx) only hope for survival after disgruntled U.S. soldiers storm the White House in WHITE HOUSE DOWN.

White House Down... Overlooking the fact it's embarrassing that there are so many similarities between Roland Emmerich's latest film (which I saw earlier today) and last March's Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down still had its moments. Unlike Olympus, White House Down took its time to introduce us to several players in the movie...from Channing Tatum's would-be Secret Service agent John Cale to Jason Clarke's (of Zero Dark Thirty) disgruntled ex-Delta Forces soldier, Emil Stenz. Clearly, Jamie Foxx's portrayal as the leader of the free world, James Sawyer, was inspired by the mannerisms of President Obama, while Martin Walker—the traitorous security chief played by James Woods—actually had a more dramatic backstory than the turncoat played by Dylan McDermott in Olympus. Visual effects-wise, White House Down was superior to the Gerard Butler action flick...which is no surprise considering that Roland Emmerich directed a mega-blockbuster hit (Independence Day) that went on to win the Best Visual FX Oscar for 1996. Action and violence-wise, Olympus Has Fallen seemed much more realistic in the way rogue North Korean soldiers blasted their way into the White House...with Butler showing equal brutality as he saved the president and his son from the insurgents. Of course, Olympus is rated-R while White House Down is PG-13. But either way, here's hoping that we won't get any more movies depicting the destruction of America's most-heavily-guarded house (supposedly) for the foreseeable future. Now it's time for Emmerich to direct something that I really want to see at the cinemas...like 2015's Independence Day 2 (a.k.a. ID Forever Part I, I think).

Black Hawk choppers carrying U.S. Special Forces approach a decimated White House in WHITE HOUSE DOWN.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Surrounded by Israeli soldiers, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) takes on zombies invading Jerusalem in WORLD WAR Z.

World War Z... "Mother Nature is a serial killer." This line is one of several memorable aspects about the new Brad Pitt flick, which I watched at the theater earlier today. World War Z, like the video game-adapted zombie franchise Resident Evil, takes place on a global scale (hence the former movie's title). However, unlike Resident Evil, the worldwide takeover by the walking dead (who quickly overrun everything as if they're the mammalian equivalent of fire ants) is conveyed in a more intelligent fashion in World War Z...with Pitt acting as much of a badass in this film as Milla Jovovich did in Evil—albeit with fewer weapons at Pitt's disposal. World War Z provides as much a unique take on the zombie apocalypse as the 2009 comedy flick Zombieland, and even this year's horror/romance movie, Warm Bodies (which is about a zombie who falls in love with a girl whose boyfriend's brain the zombie made a meal out of earlier... I kid you not). Of course, this film probably wouldn't have been as good without the presence of Angelina Jolie's beau (okay, not true— Tom Cruise, Matt Damon or Denzel Washington would've fit the main role just as perfectly)...who conveys such coolness as a former United Nations inspector that we actually believe that he has the guts to drink a can of Pepsi while a horde of vicious zombies rush down a hallway towards him in a climactic scene (as well as nonchalantly cutting the hand off an Israeli soldier after she gets bit in the arm by a zombie—even though Pitt's character had no inkling that this brutal amputation would stop her from turning). "Movement is life..." This quote is made by Pitt's character, and exemplifies the intense nature of World War Z. Keep running, and you live. Coming to a stop and thinking that you're safe hiding somewhere, and well, you end up becoming a grotesque creature chasing after every healthy organism that makes a loud sound—until you get shot in the head by a Navy SEAL helping Pitt save the world. Carry on.

Gerry Lane spends one last moment with his family before flying off to save the world from zombies in WORLD WAR Z.

Like a swarm of fire ants, a horde of zombies attempt to scale a large wall protecting Jerusalem in WORLD WAR Z.

A zombie charges toward a panicked crowd in Jerusalem in WORLD WAR Z.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini played a rebellious submarine officer in the 1995 military thriller, CRIMSON TIDE.

James Gandolfini (1961-2013)... Rest In Peace, Mr. Gandolfini. I never saw the hit HBO TV show The Sopranos, but he was awesome in Tony Scott's 1995 flick Crimson Tide and last year's Best Picture nominee, Zero Dark Thirty. Gandolfini passed away today at the age of 51.

James Gandolfini played the CIA Director in last year's Oscar-nominated film, ZERO DARK THIRTY.

Monday, June 17, 2013

James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Danny McBride confront the Apocalypse in THIS IS THE END.

This Is the End... "Like tears from the tip of my penis." So were the words from party crasher-turned-evil cannibal Danny McBride when describing what happened when he had a good time at James Franco's house party in the hilarious movie, This Is the End. I saw the comedy flick last weekend (right after I watched Man of Steel), and it did not disappoint in delivering the kind of nasty but all-out funny gags that one would expect from Seth Rogen and company after seeing such films as Superbad, Pineapple Express and Knocked Up. What's ironic is that Michael Cera, who exchanged tons of witty banter with Jonah Hill in Superbad, was more interesting playing himself than say, Nick in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist or Scott Pilgrim in...Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Of course, this must've been due to Rogen (who co-directed and wrote the screenplay for This Is the End with Evan Goldberg) allowing Cera to perform such shenanigans as slapping R&B singer Rihanna on the butt and blowing (as well as getting blown; no comments) cocaine powder at Kick-Ass's Christopher Mintz-Plasse's face. Also game to showing up in This Is the End (and meeting their demise once the Apocalypse begins less than 30 minutes into the film) is Mindy Kaling, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari and Jason Segel. Trying to survive the end of the world with Rogen, Franco, McBride and Hill is Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel (who along with Rogen is the star of the movie), Emma Watson and Channing Tatum—in a hilarious cameo that I'm sure will be more than welcomed by females in the audience.

Jonah Hill, Rihanna and Christopher Mintz-Plasse chill at James Franco's house party in THIS IS THE END.

All-in-all, This Is the End was totally entertaining. Along with ball-busting humor, it had some pretty amusing visual effects that you would see in 1980's summer blockbusters like Ghostbusters (the first one, mostly) and Gremlins. The highlight of this flick was seeing James Franco constantly sparring with Danny McBride over such issues as wasting limited food and water and not staining Franco's porno mags with McBride's um, tears. Jonah Hill, even when he was possessed by a demon that molested him while lying in bed, was still reserved in his performance...which is due to the fact that Hill is obviously playing himself and also because he's trying to act more serious ever since his Academy Award nomination for Moneyball. Rogen, Robinson and Baruchel played their usual selves—while Ms. Watson must've had fun spouting profanities after playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films for so many years. If I were to recommend a comedy to watch after being bombarded by non-stop comic book action in Man of Steel and Iron Man 3, it would definitely be This Is the End. Unless of course, you hate boy band groups...'cause then you might wanna leave the auditorium before the start of the final scene. Backstreet's back, alright!

Emma Watson isn't in the mood to deal with Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen while the Apocalypse takes place in THIS IS THE END.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Superman (Henry Cavill) takes on a worthy foe in MAN OF STEEL.

Man of Steel: Movie Review... I saw the latest Superman film in IMAX yesterday, and I would have to say that this flick had lots of potential going for it...had it not been for the overuse of CGI and explosions for much of the movie. Those of you who have viewed Watchmen and 300 will know that extensive utilization of computer-generated imagery is a signature trait of a Zack Snyder film. The problem is, seeing as how the story for Man of Steel was written by Christopher Nolan and his screenwriting team from The Dark Knight trilogy, the gritty look of this Superman installment didn't match with the kind of fantasy elements (most notably shown in the opening scene on Krypton) that would be prevalent in other comic book flicks like Thor—which still managed to portray the realm of Asgard in a convincing manner. That's why Batman Begins and its two sequels succeeded on an artistic level: The realistic tone of that trilogy was complemented by the practical special effects that Nolan implemented as much as possible in his Batman movies. Whereas Man of Steel's attempt at realism was contradicted by Snyder's penchant for showing off dazzling digital imagery and John Woo-ish action sequences.

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) wants to discover Superman's true identity in MAN OF STEEL.

On the plus side though, Man of Steel depicted what previous flicks such as Superman Returns didn't: Superman using his infinite strength (when sunlight was present, that is) to lay a thorough smackdown on his adversaries. These adversaries would be General Zod and his gang. Haven't seen Superman I and II in a while, but I would have to say that Michael Shannon's take on the Kryptonian officer was more brutal than that portrayed by Terence Stamp. The final fight scene between him and the Man of Steel was epic—and reminded me of the climactic rain battle between Neo and Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions. In fact, it was after I watched this scene in The Matrix 3 that I (and probably a lot of other people) knew that a Superman movie was possible where Kal-El could fly around while punching the crap out of bad guys at the same time. Props to Snyder for getting this part right. (Though as mentioned in the previous paragraph, these fistfights would've been better if there wasn't a large explosion taking place every few seconds.)

Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) want to spare their newborn son of Krypton's fate in MAN OF STEEL.

The casting for Man of Steel was superb. Henry Cavill did a great job as Clark Kent and his true Kryptonian persona, Amy Adams was fantastic as Lois Lane (SPOILER ALERT: Very interesting to see that Lane discovered Superman's alter ego by the movie's midpoint), Michael Shannon was intense as Zod, Laurence Fishburne was cool as Perry White, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer nailed it as Clark/Kal-El's parents, and it was also interesting to see other talented actors such as Christopher Meloni and Harry Lennix in this movie. In terms of the film score, I'm glad that the cool music (composed by Hans Zimmer) that we heard in Man of Steel's various theatrical trailers were actually in the movie itself. Of course, what would you expect from a flick that's produced by Christopher Nolan...who also managed to feature Zimmer's music for Inception and The Dark Knight in their respective previews as well.

Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) tells a young Clark (Dylan Sprayberry) about his true identity in MAN OF STEEL.

All-in-all, Man of Steel could've been better. However, I'm excited to see what Snyder has in store for us in the next installment of the Superman franchise. Though as I mentioned numerous times already, Snyder's treatment of CGI in this film makes it very unlikely that you'll see Christian Bale's version of Batman showing up in a Justice League movie anytime soon—assuming that Snyder was involved with that much-anticipated project and was planning to show off extravagant visual effects in this flick as well. Marvel is miles ahead in terms of bringing its various comic book properties to the big screen successfully (both artistically and financially), so let's treat Man of Steel for it is: A worthy take on Superman and a sign of how close his potential is to being fully realized at the cinemas...once more. Carry on.

General Zod (Michael Shannon) wants to conquer Earth in MAN OF STEEL.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Two homicidal individuals attempt to take advantage of an annual twelve-hour period known in the U.S. as THE PURGE.

The Purge... I saw the horror thriller a few days ago, and have three observations: 1.) Leave it to the weird and annoying kid in the family to put everyone in harm's way by doing a noble but extremely stupid deed... 2.) What makes Mary Sandin (Lena Headey's character) think that her jealous and psychotic neighbors won't try to finish the job during the next annual purge? Within those next 364 days (or 365, if it was a leap year), I'd get the hell out of Dodge if I was in her shoes. Or Zoey's... Poor young (hot) girl. And 3.) All but one of those neighbors survive to (presumably) plot another murderous scheme against the Sandin family. The lone person to get eliminated is a token Asian dude—who has no dialogue in the movie.

Thanks to her annoying little brother, Zoey Sandin (Adelaide Kane) almost falls victim to THE PURGE.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) confronts the dragon Smaug in THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug... Check out the teaser trailer for this December's next installment in Peter Jackson's Tolkien prequel trilogy. Totally looking forward to watching this film...though I have NO INTENTION of seeing it in that crappy 48-frames-per-second (a.k.a. High Frame Rate) format that plagued my viewing experience of An Unexpected Journey last year. Bring on the dragon!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A fan-made poster for STAR WARS: EPISODE VII.

Early 2014... That's when J.J. Abrams is targeting the start of principal photography for Star Wars: Episode VII. Based on numerous sources online, the Star Trek Into Darkness director will relocate to London later this year to shoot the next flick...which is in tradition with the previous Star Wars movies being shot in the United Kingdom (and Australia) as well.

An illustration depicting the Battle of Yavin in STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE.

The big question is: Will Episode VII still be slated for release in 2015? If the prequels are any indication, it takes two years to produce a Star Wars movie (with The Phantom Menace shooting in 1997 for its 1999 release date, Attack of the Clones filming in 2000 for its 2002 debut, and Revenge of the Sith being shot in 2003 for its 2005 theatrical arrival). Unless Episode VII will be light on action scenes (RE: Fewer lightsaber duels and/or space battles than before) or Abrams and Industrial Light & Magic found a way to cut back on cost and rendering time for visual effects sequences, I'll find it unsurprising (though disappointing) if we find out that the sequel will appear at the cinemas in 2016 instead. I hope not.

STAR WARS creator George Lucas confers with STAR WARS: EPISODE VII director J.J. Abrams.