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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Transformers 4...

Just thought I'd end this month by posting this cool group pic featuring Michael Bay and his camera crew (the Director of Photography, Amir Mokri, is the one standing by himself to the right) as well as actors Jack Reynor and Mark Wahlberg posing atop what appears to be an alien ship. Is it just me or is Wahlberg wearing the same type of clothes that Shia LaBeouf wore as Sam Witwicky in the first Transformers trilogy? That's a topic for another day.

If you look closely, you can see that it's a film camera that the Steadicam operator (Lukasz Bielan...wearing sunglasses and kneeling on the floor facing the photographer) is holding. (The white Panavision film cartridge is visible behind Bielan's head.) Old school is awesome. Oh, and Transformers 4 gets released into theaters nationwide on June 27, 2014.

Striking a pose on the set of TRANSFORMERS 4.
Andrew Cooper / MichaelBay.com

Friday, August 30, 2013

More News on Avengers: Age of Ultron...

James Spader, shown here in a screenshot from the hit NBC TV show THE OFFICE, will play Ultron in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

So I just found out this morning that James Spader, whose work includes such TV shows as The Blacklist, Boston Legal and The Office, as well as last year's Oscar-nominated film Lincoln, will play the main villain Ultron in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Blacklist hasn't started airing yet, and I never watched Boston Legal, but I'm a huge fan of The Office and thought that Spader was great as the witty but very intimidating Dunder Mifflin boss, Robert California. And he was commendable as William N. Bilbo in Steven Spielberg's Abraham Lincoln biopic as well.

All signs point to Spader not donning a huge robot costume to play Ultron, but it's definitely a safe bet that his voice and performance will be captured via motion capture like that of Mark Ruffalo for The Hulk and the stunt performers who played Chitauri soldiers in the climax to last year's The Avengers. Can't wait to see how witty but very intimidating Ultron will be in the sequel two years from now!

An illustration of Ultron...who will be the main villain in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness...

Check out this cool illustration depicting the USS Vengeance crashing down onto San Francisco in the climax of last May's Star Trek Into Darkness. What a great movie...looking forward to buying it on DVD this September 10. (And no, I wasn't paid by Paramount Pictures to say that.)

Concept artwork depicting the USS Vengeance crashing down onto San Francisco in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS.
Photo courtesy of Star Trek Fan Page - Facebook.com

Monday, August 26, 2013

More on Man of Steel 2...

Just thought I'd share this fan-made illustration that I stumbled upon on Facebook showing Ben Affleck in the Bat cowl. Pretty cool if you overlook the fact that Batman's true identity would be quickly discovered if Bruce Wayne didn't get rid of that 5 o'clock shadow. In other news, it appears that Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston will play Lex Luthor in Man of Steel 2...while rumors abound about Justin Timberlake playing Robin. Cranston as Luthor? Awesome. Timberlake as the Boy Wonder? The pop music star should not be in the 2015 film and neither should Batman's sidekick. Unless, of course, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was asked to play this role instead—then I would say, "Welcome to Metropolis, future Nightwing!"

Fan-made illustration depicting Ben Affleck as Batman.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Star Wars: Episode VII Shooting on 35mm Film...

Darth Vader's STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE entrance...in all of its 35mm film glory.

On the same day that the world found out that Ben Affleck was the new Batman, it was revealed that J.J. Abrams will be shooting the next Star Wars movie on celluloid. This is great news! One problem with the prequels was that they were not visually consistent with the Original Trilogy (which was shot on 35mm Kodak stock) since George Lucas filmed Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (as well as parts of The Phantom Menace) with digital cameras. Heck, Clones and Sith didn't even have the same look as Episode I...which was filmed in 35mm before Lucas decided to treat the next two prequels as mere tech demos as opposed to them being a genuine addition to the Star Wars canon. Even though the third film was an abomination, The Matrix trilogy should be applauded since there was visual continuity among the three flicks. And the same goes with The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and The Hobbit, somewhat) as well as The Dark Knight flicks. (I'd choose IMAX-filmed footage over digital shots, any day). It is awesome to see that Abrams definitely wants to bring the movie magic from the Original Star Wars Trilogy to his upcoming flick. With John Williams aboard to do the music score once more (though we'll still have to wait awhile to see which actors gets cast in Episode VII), how can Abrams go wrong? Don't answer that if you're thinking about the Lost series finale and not this summer's hit film Star Trek Into Darkness.

And while we're still on the topic of Star Wars' cinematography, may Gilbert Taylor, the director of photography for A New Hope, rest in peace. He passed away yesterday at the age of 99.

Two X-Wing starfighters soar through the Death Star's trench, 35mm film-style, in STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ben Affleck is the New Batman!

Ben Affleck plays CIA operative Tony Mendez in the 2013 Best Picture winner, ARGO.

Personally speaking, I thought Affleck was cool as Daredevil in the 2003 comic book flick of the same name. Of course, I might be a bit biased towards this movie since the director, Mark Steven Johnson, went to the same film school at my college alma mater. Go Beach! Anyways... I also thought Affleck gave a good performance in 2010's The Town, which he wrote and directed. To all the naysayers of today's decision by Warner Bros: The man wrote, directed and starred in last year's Best Picture-winning film (Argo) as well—so let's all give Affleck a chance in Man of Steel 2, for Pete's sake. Forget Gigli.

Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock in 2003's DAREDEVIL.

THE TOWN...which was written, directed and starred by Ben Affleck.

Christian Bale's Batman is now a thing of the past.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Elysium...

Max (Matt Damon) confronts Kruger (Sharlto Copley) in ELYSIUM.

Earlier today, I watched the latest sci-fi film to be directed by Neill Blomkamp...who helmed 2009's Oscar-nominated hit, District 9. Much as how District 9 conveyed a political message about apartheid in South Africa, Elysium dealt with the topic of illegal immigration and even um, Obamacare in its futuristic storyline. As the TV spots and trailers show, all of the rich (Caucasian) folks live on a luxurious space station orbiting the Earth—while the remaining inhabitants (RE: minorities) are left behind looking for decent medical care on our pollution-ravaged planet. The person destined to change all of this, of course, is a robot mechanic named Max (Matt Damon). Yearning to travel to space station Elysium ever since he was young, Max gets more than he bargains for when events transpire that actually makes it a matter of life and death for him to fly up to the orbital outpost. Not just for him, but for those close to Max and minorities wanting to experience the plush lifestyle that could be found on Elysium. The only people standing in his way are Delacourt (Jodie Foster) and her rogue agent Kruger (played by District 9's Sharlto Copley).

Delacourt (Jodie Foster) is bent on keeping out any unwanted visitors from her space station in ELYSIUM.

While Blomkamp did a respectable job trying to allude to illegal immigration and universal healthcare in Elysium, this latest flick wasn't as noteworthy as District 9. The visual effects in this latest film, like that of its '09 predecessor, were top-notch. The acting however, was a different story. While it was forgivable that District 9 had shaky performances since it relied on unknown actors working on a $30 million budget, Elysium was made for $115 million and had Academy Award heavyweights Foster and Damon to carry the film. Damon was commendable in the movie, though his character wasn't as tough as the marketing campaign made him out to be...while Foster had some moments where she was giving Delacourt's lines without putting much effort into them. Sharlto Copley was cool as Kruger, but his attempt to convey an Australian accent was as amusing as him talking with a Texas drawl when he played Murdock in 2010's The A-Team.

Robotic police officers are on the hunt for Earth natives who illegally made their way up to the space station in ELYSIUM.

I wouldn't be surprised if Blomkamp and/or TriStar come up with a not-so-farfetched idea to make a crossover film between Distict 9 and Elysium. The technology portrayed in Elysium is obviously advanced; along with the fact that humans are capable of building a giant space station where the ability to cure cancer is possible, devices exist where a man can have his face perfectly reconstructed after half of it was blown off by a grenade. Oh, and a handheld rocket-propelled grenade launcher can fire missiles (from a vantage point in Los Angeles) hundreds if not thousands of miles up into space to destroy 'undocumented' ships trying to venture to Elysium. All of this sounds like something that you would've saw with the aliens of District 9. While Elysium is a different beast from Blomkamp's first feature-length film, it is still a sci-fi movie trying to make us think of the current world we live in (or at least about how things are in 21st century America). Any flick that tries to make itself relevant to the issues we see or read on the news everyday should be commended—even if the movie fell short in some other aspects of its story. Carry on.

The rich and healthy thrive on the space station of ELYSIUM.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Avengers: Age of Ultron...

An illustration of Ultron...who will be the main villain in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
I had no idea who Ultron was until the new title for The Avengers' upcoming sequel (to be released in theaters in 2015) was released at San Diego Comic-Con last month, so I had to do some research online.

...

Looks pretty cool. Word is that Ultron, or a few variants of this robotic character, is made out of adamantium (just like Wolverine's claws). Even cooler.

An illustration of Ultron...who will be the main villain in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

An illustration of Ultron...who will be the main villain in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

An illustration of Ultron...who will be the main villain in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.