Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Most anticipated films of 2013

               Please keep in mind that these films are not put in any order.  This is simply a list of 10 of my most anticipated films of this new year.  Even though I am looking forward to even more then what is here, these films I feel have great potential to be great.  Many of these films have a lot riding on them. 

  1.      The Wolverine – I have always been a fan of comic book movies, especially the Marvel ones.  I will be the first to admit that X-men Origins: Wolverine was by far the worst movie in the X-men franchise and they really ruined what should have been an amazing origin story for Wolverine, but I have hopes for this one.  The biggest reason is because they finally got a good director since Bryan Singer.  James Mangold is a great director that knows how to make a good movie and should be big enough to say no to the studio when they try to interject their bad ideas into a movie. Also, I listened to his commentary on 3:10 to Yuma the other day and he talked about not all the special effects needing to be CGI and instead should focus more on SFX of the drama between characters. That makes me think he is going to do a good job fleshing out the character of Wolverine.  The other thing going for this movie is it is being adapted from one of the most loved comic book story lines in Wolverine’s life.  

  2.       Man of Steel – Surprise another comic book film.  This one being on the other side of the spectrum being a DC character.  Superman I feel has always been a tough character to show on screen and it was very evident on Superman Returns.  Bryan Singer did a good job of reintroducing the world to the character, but he didn’t address Superman’s issue.  Superman is an internal character. Unlike Batman who has Robin or Alfred to talk to, or Spider-Man that always has an ongoing dialogue about the action at hand, Superman just does what needs to be done and doesn’t talk about.  Internal doesn’t work well on screen.  So hopefully Zack Snyder, who has proved in the past he loves comic books, will do Supes some justice.  From the first trailer released the action looks like it is done well and this one finally looks like it is focusing more on Superman as a person instead of the journey he has to go on.   With Chris Nolan helping with this and knowing that this has a lot riding on it(possibly a jumping off point for a Justice League film), this should finally be the Superman film people have been waiting to see since the original.
  3.       Star Trek Into Darkness – A few years back when JJ Abrams decided to reboot the Star Trek franchise many people were against it, but then something amazing happened, Abrams made a great movie.  The first Star Trek was a great combination of action, effects, humor and story.  As long as Abrams can bring that combination back again and move the story of the Enterprise crew forward then we should be in for a great sequel.  The only thing that was kind of lacking in the first movie was a really strong villain, which looks to be corrected this time around.  Not a lot is known about Benidect Cumberbatch’s character right now, but the IMAX preview that was shown made him look pretty intimidating.  Plus he has the perfect evil guy voice.  

  4.       Pacific Rim – Guillermo del Toro, giant robots, and giant monsters, what else needs to be said?  The movie looks amazing and if del Toro’s past films are any indication, then the story is going to be good as well. Guillermo’s style is always on the weird but cool side so hopefully this follows suit.  I’m also excited to see how Charlie Hunnam handles his first big budget film.  He is great on Sons of Anarchy, so I’m sure this will be equally as good. 

 5.       Riddick – It’s been 9 years since Vin Diesel put on the goggles and traveled the underside of space as the anti hero in The Chronicle’s of Riddick, but finally he is back.  Again directed by David Twohy, he is reducing the scope of the film back to the original film Pitch Black instead of the over bloated Chronicle’s.  Trapping Riddick on a planet with scary monsters and bounty hunters trying to kill him will hopefully bring back what made this character so good the first time around.

  6.      Enders Game - I read this book when I was in college and it quickly became one of my favorite Sci-Fi novels.  Since that time I have been waiting for them to make a movie based on this book.  It’s a big budget story about a young boy, Ender, picked to be part of a group of kids that are trained to stop a large alien invasion and save earth.  If Hugo was any indication if Asa Butterfield can handle a large movie then we are in good hands.  Not to mention Harrison Ford in space in a Sci-Fi film is always a good thing.  

  7.      The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – The second chapter of this great Middle Earth story from the mind of JR Tolkien.  The first Hobbit was another great movie from Peter Jackson, so it stands to believe that the next film will be just as good if not better.  I think from the name it is safe to assume this time around Bilbo and company make it to the dwarf kingdom and take on the dragon Smaug.  Once again Benedict Cumberbatch makes an appearance on this list.  He voices Smaug and as I said earlier he has the perfect evil guy voice so it should be great here.  I’m sure by the end we will all be left anticipating the final chapter in this big story about a little hobbit.

  8.       Oz the Great and Powerful – I am quite surprised to be putting this one on the list.  I have never been a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz, but something about this film just looks really cool.  I like James Franco a lot and have great respect for Sam Raimi since turning my favorite comic book hero(Spider-Man) into a box office god. I always felt that on a scale of weird to normal that Raimi was one step closer to normal than Tim Burton, so I’m hoping this doesn’t get quite as weird as Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film.  If the movie is half as epic as the trailers have been making it out to be, then I think seeing this film will be a treat.  

  9.      Oblivion – Tom Cruise and Sci-fi in the past has worked really well, so here is to hoping this film continues that trend.  Personally, I think Cruise is a little weird, but I usually love his movies.  Having just seen him in Jack Reacher I can say Cruise is still at the top of his acting game.  From what the first trailer has shown this looks like a pretty wild ride of a movie.  After bringing back Tron with Tron Legacy I am willing to give Joseph Kosinski a chance with just about anything.  Here is to hoping this sophomore, original idea, attempt is a hit. 

                          10.  Thor: The Dark World – Some may be surprised I didn’t pick Iron Man 3, but I kind of know what I am getting with that one.  I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure it will be good, but Thor has more of the unknown excitement I’m looking for.  I’m hoping that this time around they show more of this huge universe that the first movie talked about.  I felt the first one, though good, moved a little too fast and by doing that shrunk itself and lost some of it’s epicness.  Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor, so I look forward to seeing more of that and if they bring back Tom Hiddleston as his brother Loki all the better. 

So there it is.  Only time will tell how these films turn out.  Hopefully as these come out I’ll be able to post some reviews of them.  Stay tuned and happy movie watching for 2013.

Django Unchained

                 It is quite surprising if you watch any of Quentin Tarantino’s films that he has not made a western before now. Much of his influences in past films are quite evidently from the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s.  So, when it finally came time for him to direct his first true western one would expect it to be pretty good.  Luckily all the practice Tarantino has had before paid off in one of his best films to date.
                Django is a straight up revenge western much like Kill Bill.  It is about a slave, Django(Jamie Foxx), who is freed by a bounty hunter(Christoph Waltz) to help him track down 3 brothers that only Django has seen.  In exchange for helping him, the bounty hunter teaches Django his ways and promises to help him get his wife back from a ruthless plantation owner, Calvin Candie(Leonardo DiCaprio) at his plantation Candieland. 
                I think one of the main reasons that this film works better then a lot of Tarantino’s other films is that it is so straight forward with a tight group of characters.  What I have noticed in the past is Tarantino tends to have a lot of characters in his films and he ends up jumping around a lot, which makes it hard to follow and connect with the people.  This time around the story really follows more of a traditional story path with beginning, middle, and end.  This helps in following the story and prevents people from having to think constantly about where they are in the film.  Also the cast is limited to a handle full of players and you know who each of them are, so you can connect with them better.
 Another thing that makes this one of Tarantino’s best films to date is the casting.  Jamie Foxx plays the main character Django and he does it pretty well.  The character doesn’t have a lot of depth to begin with, so for Foxx to be able to make him such a likeable character is a testament to Foxx.  Django is mostly angry through the movie, but with a few looks from Foxx he shows an underlying humor and curiosity in the character.   The real shining star of the film though is Christoph Waltz as Dr. King Schultz.  He has managed to create another memorable character in line with Col. Hans Landa from Inglorious Bastards.  There is just something about Waltz that he can play the weirdest characters, but somehow still make them so likeable.  The way that Waltz reacts in every situation he is put in is great.  He somehow knows how to bring an ease and humor out of the tensest moments.  Going toe to toe with Waltz is Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie.  This character is so despicable it is hard to find any saving qualities in him, but somehow that makes him appealing as a character.  Somehow, DiCaprio playing a villain for the first time makes this character so interesting that regardless of what he says or does, you want to see more of him. Some of the best scenes are between DiCaprio and Waltz. Before this movie I wouldn’t have thought that combining DiCaprio with Tarantino would be an interesting thing, but now I would say it is pure gold and would love to see it again.
                The rest of the supporting cast is made up of Samuel Jackson as the evil house slave, which is just a supporting character, but practically steals every scene he is in.  Also playing Django’s wife, Broomhilda, is Kerry Washington.  She doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie other than be the damsel in distress, but the few scenes she has work well with Jamie Foxx. 
                Even though this is a western one should know going into it that it is still a Tarantino film.  What that means is there are a lot of long winded conversations between people.  Luckily, much of the talk is quite funny and entertaining. The film never feels as long as it is, which is quite long at 2 hours and 45 mins.  Not to worry though because there is also a lot of action too and all of it is top notch.  Since it is a western you can expect a shoot out at the end and this one does not disappoint.  At times it might be a little over the top but for some reason it still works. 
                 Any fan of Tarantino should make this a must see, as well as those that enjoy westerns like True Grit.  It’s about time that Quentin Tarantino tackled the genre that has influenced much of his other films and after the final results let’s hope this isn’t the only time he goes this route.

5 out of 5

Monday, January 7, 2013


                 Bond, James Bond.  Anyone that is a fan of spy movies or action movies knows this line.  Since 1969 the world has been supplied with 23 top notch edge of your seat thrill rides. So by this point in history the question isn’t what are we going to get with the newest James Bond film, the question is how well will it be done? This go round brings in Sam Mendes an award winning director to tell the story.  Having now seen the final product I can say that Bond is most definitely back and better than ever. 
                Skyfall follows in the grand tradition of all the other 007 films.  It starts off with a huge action scene to set the film up before settling in to tell the story.  This time the story is about a cyber terrorist that has stolen MI6 secrets and is trying to bring M(Judi Dench) and the whole system down.  Only James Bond can stop him. Along the way he is helped by a few welcomed old friends and a few new ones.  When things get personal, will 007 be able to stop this mad man and save the world?
                By this point Daniel Craig has played Bond in 2 previous films, Casino Royal and Quantum of Solace, so we all know what we are going to get with his version.  Craig is a tougher and less cheeky bond, yet in moments he has the ability to show off his cool debonair side.  In Skyfall, he really gets to show off the full range of Bond.  At times he is smooth, other times tough and hard, and finally, one thing that was kind of missing from the last two films, he shows a lighter funnier side. After 23 films one would not think you could get to learn much more about a character, but for the first time this film really becomes quite personal for Bond.  We actually get to learn a lot more about where Bond came from and how he ended up where he is.  This movie also is another chance for Dame Judi Dench to shine in her role as M.  We get to see that wonderful love/hate relationship between her and Bond, but even more than any other in the series we really get to see how much M means to Bond.  In a role that could have just been another typical “mentor role for the hero”, Dench really knows how to make us care for this character. 
                This time around the bad guy Silas, is played by Javier Bardem. He is a modern day cyber terrorist that is also not afraid to get dirty and blow some stuff up.  You can tell Sam Mendes was really trying to make a memorable villain this time around and he succeeded.   By Bringing in an award winner like Bardem it automatically steps the character up.  He brings such a charisma to the character, as evil as he is, it is hard not to like him.  Bardem really shines in his introduction when he first meets Bond and they just talk and “feel” each other out.  My only problem with this character is a feature given to him that is quite disturbing.  I understand the reason behind this feature and it makes him that much more memorable as a Bond villain, but it is shown once and never comes back into play later in the film.  I felt like if they were going to make a point to show something so defining about a character, it should play more of a role in the movie. 
                As mentioned before this Bond film tries to bring back some much missed aspects of the past films and one of those things is Q.  One of the best parts of past Bond films was getting to see what cool gadgets Q will provide and the funny banter between him and Bond.  This go round Q is played by Ben Whishaw and he works well.  Instead of going with the past take on Q where he is the older wiser man to Bond’s younger Bond, this time Q is a young know-it-all nerd to Bond’s old dog tricks.  This works well between the two actors and they manage to be funny, but without going the same route that has been done before.  I look forward to seeing where this relationship goes. 
                Speaking of new relationships we get to see a few of them.  First is Ralph Fiennes, as Garth Malory.  His character is like the big wig questioning the need for the 00s.  He doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but what he gets is a pretty good set up to see where they go with him.  The other relationship we get to see is Albert Finny in a role from Bond’s past.  He brings a nice little bit of warmth and humor before the end and it’s like a nice little surprise.
                As much as we all look forward to the action of Bond films, we also look forward to the Bond girls.  This time we have Naomie Harris as Eve and Berenice Marlohe as Severine.  Harris is good as a fellow MI6 agent that works with Bond.  They have some good sexual tension between them, where as Marlohe forgoes the tension and just goes for the sex.  Both ladies are pretty, but if I had to pick which one stands out more, I would have to go with Harris.
                The other thing people look forward to in a Bond films are the exotic locals and this film does not let you down.  They travel from Istabul to the Scottish highlands.  In between is a stop in Shanghi, followed by some really cool locations in Macau, and they even journey back to London for a little. Somehow Bond films always manage to make even the dirtiest nastiest places in the world look amazing.  By far the best location was Sylva’s “evil lair” on an abandoned island city.  The atmosphere is so eerie and scary that it could definitely go toe to toe with any of the old iconic evil lairs of previous films.
There are a few more surprises in the film for any James Bond fan to look forward to. Overall, I think Skyfall follows in the footsteps of both Goldfinger for Connery and The Spy Who Loves Me for Moore, in being the third and best Bond for Craig.  I think it paid off really well getting an award winning director this time around, because he knew how to take all the best parts of Bond films from the past and show them off in a whole new way.  With these past couple films a lot of talk was how Bond had to update and change to compete with the Bourne movies, but with Skyfall Mendes was able to show what makes James Bond the ultimate superspy. He is on a level all his own and doesn’t need to compete with any one.  Fans of previous 007 films or the Mission Impossible films will love this one.
5 out of 5