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The Summer So Far (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | June 21, 2013 | Add Comments

Summer Movie Season 2013Summer Movie Season 2013 has seen spectacular highs and shattering lows, even though it’s only half way over! I’ve seen three summer blockbusters already, but haven’t written a review of any of them. So here’s a triple review comparing the disappointing but original Iron Man 3, the thrillingly wonderful Star Trek Into Darkness, and the letdown epic Man of Steel.

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3
Rating: 3 Reels

Let’s start off with Iron Man 3, Marvel’s latest attempt at a mega-hit superhero flick (don’t worry they succeeded). Shane Black replaces Jon Favereau as director which was NOT a good idea. The movie has less laughs than we’ve come accustomed to and it’s by far the darkest of the Iron Man trilogy with onscreen deaths, disturbing fight scenes, and massive explosions. Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark with the usual mix of hilarity, sarcasm, and witty one liners. He’s fantastic, as is the rest of the cast. But it’s basically a one man show with Tony traveling from point A to point B and killing bad guy one and bad guy two, etc. The movie is uneven, over violent, and poorly executed. The plot is mediocre and though we do get the bang for our buck (or something like 14 bucks if you see it in IMAX 3-D) we don’t get much story. But three quarters into the film something crazy happens. A twist. Out of the blue, the film turns a corner and shocks us with it’s best moment. It defies the advertisements that have had us thinking one way and…Well I won’t spoil it but I’ll just say this; it’s SHOCKING. And in this world of trailers that give everything away, that means awesome.

Chris Pine and Karl Urban in Star Trek Into DarknessStar Trek Into Darkness
Rating: 4 1/4 Reels

J. J. Abram’s latest installment in his reboot of the Star Trek series, titled Star Trek Into Darkness, is a whirlwind moviegoing roller coaster. After a chase scene on another planet, we’re thrust into the latest Trek adventure: a one man war against the entire U.S.S. Enterprise crew (Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, and more) led by James T. Kirk (Chris Pine). The “one man” in question is John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a mysterious evildoer with suspicious morale. The cast is phenomenal because they’re more comfortable with their roles; sure some supporting characters are a bit too, er, supporting but everyone gets their moment. And the leads are incredible: Saldana and Pine are well cast but it’s Zachary Quinto as Spock who really steals the show. He’s essentially as central a character as Kirk, plus he gets all of the best wisecracks and fight scenes. Cumberbatch is also amazing thanks to an intensity that’s plain undescribable. The story is simple but effective and occasionally touching. The best thing about it is that it’s entertaining: exhilarating, yes but also hilarious and fun. But the film’s not perfect. The previously mentioned opening chase scene comes to mind: instead of starting where Kirk and fellow crew member Bones are about to steal the map they’re looking for, Abrams begins when they’re already running from baddies. However movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark take their time to set the stage before the action. Abrams, meanwhile, is all payoff. He directs with a sharp intensity and a knack for elaborate spectacle.  Sure all the action sequences are pulse poundingly sweat inducing (especially in IMAX 3-D where I saw it) and this is all well and good but sometimes he could have paused for a conversation scene that’s not right in the middle of a battle. Sure it’s flawed, but this is nearly everything you could want in a summer popcorn action flick.

 

Superman flies in Man of SteelMan of Steel
Rating: 2 Reels

Man of Steel, the latest Superman movie, has a lot going for it. The film has a likable star in Henry Cavill, some thrilling trailers, an excellent supporting cast, and the producer of what many call the greatest superhero film of all time. However I’m sorry to report that they’ve failed. Badly. It opens with with an incredibly realized Krypton sequence which is way too long. Do we really need two intense fight scenes before Superman/Clark Kent is even out of the crib? No, but we get them, all right. And despite a few expertly crafted moments, the only scenes that have much impact are the flashbacks to Clark’s early life. And then, BACK TO THINGS BLOWING UP ALOT, ALOT, ALOT!!! The film is dragged on for almost an hour too long, thanks to overblown battle sequences that are cut between different shots so fast you can’t even tell what’s going on. Director Zack Snyder would probably be a master at making video games but that skill set really doesn’t work here. In fact, the whole movie feels like a video game that you don’t control: dead characters guide living ones around, there’s objects that must be found, there are flashbacks to explain what’s going on, and, most of all, there are pretentious combat scenes that go on like the film makers just needed to fill up the running time. The performances are decent and likable but Henry Cavill (who’s okay but a bit bland) and Amy Adams have neither much chemistry nor time to develop their characters. Kevin Costner was the perfect choice for Pa Kent but again all he gets are flashback sequences that suggest of a much greater film. Less than halfway through the movie, I started not care what happened to these characters: it just got uninteresting. Man of Steel sadly goes where every violent video game has gone before.

 

Last but not least I have a few concluding statements:

1. Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel are racking up billions of dollars despite being much lesser films than the underperforming Star Trek Into Darkness. What does this tell us about the film industry?

2. If there are three films that represent the state of modern blockbusters it’s these three. However I’d like to say this: sure, all action movies have to include explosions but please Hollywood: dial it down. J.J. Abrams was on the right track with Into Darkness and I’m confident about his new Star Wars.

3. With so many big budget blockbusters being released each year where is this all headed. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have some ideas. In fact, Spielberg may be right: if five of these summer epics flop something is going to change. Take 2015. What films are going to be released? The Fantastic Four, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Avengers 2, Justice League, The Smurfs 3, Hotel Transylvania 2, Ant-Man, The Peanuts, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, Finding Dory, Alvin and the Chipmunks 4, and Kung Fu Panda 3. Woops, forgot to mention a little indie film titled Star Wars: Episode 7. Okay, is your headache over? Many of the films mentioned will flop, so could that signal the death of the blockbuster? No. Star Wars and Avengers 2 are as close to a sure thing as you can get and even if critics and audiences despise them, people will keep coming back to the multiplex. But someday (probably in an estimated 100 years) people will get back to making small, personal films. Until then, there will be terrific action films and wonderful art house pictures. So perhaps, they could both survive together.

Jack and Oz: Which is the Fairest of Them All? (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | March 22, 2013 | Add Comments

The heroes prepare for battle in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Oz the Great and Powerful. Jack the Giant Slayer. Two fantasy epics based on classic stories. But which is the fairest of them all? Read on to find out…

Let’s start with Jack the Giant Slayer, a thrilling, adventure with a few issues. The film takes the viewer on an epic journey through medieval lands full of swashbuckling, revolting giants, and a damsel in distress. You know the tale; a boy named Jack takes sells his horse for magic beans, climbs a beanstalk, and slays a giant. Oh, hold on minute. You don’t know Jack. In this version there’s a princess who needs to be rescued (and married), lots of characters who need to be introduced (and get in a good sword fight), and an uncountable amount of  loathsomely grusume mo-cap madness creatures that need to be killed. What’s that loathsome stuff, you say? Giants. Nasty ones.

One ugly giant in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

I may be sounding rather harsh on the film, but I did enjoy it. Sure there’s flaws. Some characters are under-developed (a sidekick character, Stanley Tucci’s Roderick) and some scenes are overlong. In fact, I didn’t even tell you about the mini plot holes. But what’s great about the movie? First of all, the actors. Many critics have noted that Nicolas Hoult, who plays Jack, has a bland quality. But to tell you the truth he actually turns in a perfectly solid performance (the best character) opposite the also strong Eleanor Tomlinson.

Bryan Singer does a mediocre job as director, with all his emphasis on battle. He maybe should have focused a tiny bit more on the characters (which are, at least, better than some movies). While I am complaining about the battle sequences, for what they are…well they’re extremely epic. The CG, actors, direction, the battle choreography. The climax is a terrifically executed lesson in crafting a big movie battle. Except there’s one issue. While there’s lots of explosions, flaming trees, and bows ‘n arrows I would’ve enjoyed a bit more classic sword fighting, which we only get a little of.

Throw in some giantly fantastic special effects, grand old sword fighting (though too short), and enough battle spectacle to make most critics angry and you’ve got a film that will suffice the needs of an action film seeking moviegoer. You want a highly exciting, though fairly flawed, candy bag of fairy tale fun? You got it!

Welcome to Oz!

Now onto Oz. I have to say it: I had LOW expectations for this Hollywood gamble. I thought it would be an un-pretty shameful cash in-rip off that would make fans off the original want to skip back down that yellow brick road and all the way back to 1939. Anyway, Oz turned out just fine. First off there is a very pretty opening credits sequence and an amazing old fashioned B&W homage of a half hour opener. And then we are quite literally whisked off into THAT magical land. We are treated to mind-rattling visuals and terrific Ozian back story.

The script is a mixed bag filled with bland lines-and witty ones. The story is great and filled with morals and monsters. The final scene is heartfelt and the best of the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if some viewers cry. A fine mix of the excitement and emotion.

Onto the cast. Well they’re incredible. Each and every lead actor fills their role excitement and surprise. As Oz, James Franco creates a character of magic, wonder, and necessary annoyance. Meanwhile the three witches turn in incredible performances. Rachel Weisz is okay in a small role as Evanora the Bad while Michelle Williams plays Glinda the Good without falling into the goody two shoes character trap. But the one with the best performance is easily Mila Kunis (as Theodora the Good). Not only does she do a great job playing an easily fooled character, she also gets the spotlight in a great scene: a mid-way shocker that turns the story on it’s head with astonishment not seen in motion pictures of late. Too bad a review spoiled it for me (don’t read critic’s reviews of the movie because they’re filled with spoilers…except for mine of course!). As for the Franco’s two companions…well Zach Braff’s lovable and hilarious monkey completely outshines the sappy, predictable china doll played by Joey King. Why? A line about bananas.

Director Sam Raimi bests his work on the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy by combining laughs, thrills, fun, and creativity to create an amazing movie. The special effects are also incredible and surprisingly original. There’s bubbles, smoke, a monkey, a lion, and more to gasp at.

There are some things that don’t happen in the film that you think would. Why? Because they have to tell the story in a way that makes sense compared to the new film. I might’ve preferred one big battle sequence though  that wasn’t really possible considering the “good people of Oz” are NOT allowed to kill. Besides, it might have distracted from the story.

James Franco as Oz and Mila Kunis as Theodora escape trouble in Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

The second time (yes, that’s right!) I saw the film in 3-D. If you’re a 3-D fanatic you’ll like it but if you’re opposed to the added dimension this won’t win you ever. In other words, it doesn’t miraculously enhance the movie but gives a bit more excitement. Sadly there’s only one moment that made me duck and that was near the end of the film.

Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13. Anyone who’s older than 11 should be okay but there’s a bit of romance and LOTS of intense, gross (but never bloody) giant fights. Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG. Anyone who’s over 9 should be fine but there’s lots of romance involving the wizard (he kisses four characters) and some frightening scenes. However, there’s no blood and little battle sequences.

The Fairest of Them All: Oz: The Great and Powerful beats Jack the Giant Slayer. Oz and Jack are filled with wonderful action, special effects, actors, and direction. Both are great films but Oz has a better story. And in the end, that’s what matters.

Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer (Flick’s Double Review)

Posted on | March 15, 2013 | 1 Comment

On March 1st, Jack the Giant Slayer, a Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2, Superman Returns) directed fantasy, hit theaters. On March 8th, Oz the Great and Powerful, a Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, The Spider-Man Trilogy) film, hit theaters. Instead of reviewing one at a time, I’ve decided to do a double review because both of the films have a few things in common. The question? Who succeeded: Singer or Raimi? Which film is the m0re enjoyable March blockbuster? Read on to find out which film is this month’s better film. First? Up the beanstalk we go!

Jack the Giant Slayer

3 1/2 stars

Jack, “a simple farm boy”, receives some magic beans from a monk and after getting them wet, beanstalks are grown…And giants are reborn. He embarks on a journey to save a princess, show his courage, and battle some massive meanies.

I was expecting little. I got more than I bargained for. To tell you the truth, I bargained for almost nothing. But, what I got was an entertaining film, flawed, yes, but still enjoyable enough to last most of it’s 115 minute running time. I’ll begin with the actors.

Many critics disliked Nicholas Hoult who has the lead role as Jack. Personally, I didn’t adore him, but I found he was…Let’s just say he’s better than James Franco. Eleanor Tomlinson is just okay, so is Stanley Tucci as buck-toothed villain, Roderick. But the best work comes from Ewan McGregor as the dashing Elmont. He displays what the film could have used a little more of: cleverness.

The effects? The giants are superbly animated and they look as disgusting and gruesome as intended on the big screen. Plus, the beanstalk’s writhing madness is a joy to watch. There are also some grand-scale action scenes that, if long, are fun.

The 3-D is not worth wasting your money on. There are under five pop-out moments that catch your attention. The best being when a giant barrels through a stone floor and when beanstalks grow into your face.

I’ve discussed the pleasures, but it’s not all great. Too many jokes fall flat. Too many battles drag. Too many characters die without any heartfelt emotions. (It does become a “Let’s pluck ’em off one by one!” type thing after a while, so couldn’t they have done it in a meaningful way?) One moment there’s a booger joke, the next a gross-out eyeball squishing. Who is this for? That’s what Singer should’ve decided before tackling the giants. Maybe next time.

My favorite character is Elmont because of his ’30s type action heroes qualities. His charisma and humor drags the film along when it starts to lag from an overlong fight.

My favorite scene is when Jack and Isabelle are hiding from the giant, General Fallon, because if the rest of the film’s action was as uniquely staged, this would have been all of the more worthwhile. This is the kind of scene the film needed!

Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13 and I agree. There are some scary moments that could give little kiddies nightmares. But, there are also the rude humor gags that’ll keep the giggles flowing.

A good bit of amusement, yet lacking real substance. Not enough to last generations of enduring fans.

Oz the Great and Powerful

4 stars

How did the Wonderful Wizard of Oz become, well, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz? After being wiped into the cyclone, Oz finds himself in a land named Oz. He encounters three witches and learns that before he can become the wizard, he must kill the wicked witch.

Wow. Similar to Jack the Giant Slayer, I wasn’t expecting much, but I got quite a bit. Sam Raimi did a fine job with Spider-Man and a great job with Spider-Man 2. But after Spider-Man 3, I wasn’t so pumped for his next venture, let alone a stab at re-imagining the world before the classic The Wizard of Oz. Yet here is an adventure that is fun, yet filled with thrills and an abundance of chills.

After a very enjoyable title credit sequence, I was excited. After the twenty minute B&W beginning, I was ready for it. After a fantastical first meeting in Oz, I was thrilled. The film continues to throw dazzling CG wonder after dazzling CG wonder. There is also real emotion; one scene that introduces China Girl, a young doll, who has been, as not not to give it away I’ll paraphrase, hurt. Raimi doesn’t throw in an action scene right away, to rush the scene off and keep the kids satisfied, he slowly paces a heartfelt moment.

The acting is very good from all three witches. Of course, we know which two will die, but there’s still fun to be had with their delightful acting. Michelle Williams is Glinda and she includes all of the likable qualities that are required for the part. Mila Kunis is Theodora. (I have to be careful now because I’m treading on spoiler water.) The character is much more interesting than first meets the eye: she starts off dancing with Oz and then…GO WATCH THE MOVIE!!! Rachel Weisz is Eveanora, another witch that is sooo very much more fascinating than you might first suspect. It’s not just the characters though, it’s the actresses. Even Mila Kunis who had been in a bunch of raunchy blockbusters before this, is great. Zach Braff is also funny as the voice of Finley, a nice flying monkey. (Don’t panic: there are plenty of vicious baboons!) But guess who’s not so memorable?

Franco. After the Oscars, there wasn’t much hope for him. But, in the back of my mind I kept hoping that maybe because he was working with his Spider Man Trilogy director, some magic would be conjured. Alas, no. He falls short in many emotional scenes when the heavy burden of the entire film is on him. Joey King is fine as China Girl, the animated doll, but whenever her sassiness was supposed to be funny, she fell flat.

The movie, amazingly still worked for me. And trust me, you won’t mind swirling into the cyclone one more time with a talented director like Raimi at the helm.

My favorite character is Eveanora because I think Weisz was the best actor in the film. She captured the many sides of her witch.

My favorite scene is when Oz crashes into Oz because the visuals are so amazing. It’s a great way to be reintroduced, after being away from the land for seventy-four years.

Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG and I agree. There are some scary endings to a few characters, but if you can watch the original, this isn’t too much worse.

Action, emotion, wonderful witches. It’s all there and it’s all so good. If you get past Franco, you’re in for a good ride.

The Winner: Oz the Great and Powerful

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | December 28, 2012 | Add Comments

Bilbo Baggins and some dwarves in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

3 1/2 Stars

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tells the beginning of Bilbo Baggin’s epic adventure. Bilbo lives a comfortable yet uneventful life in Bag End. But when Gandalf the Grey, a tall and powerful wizard, comes to persuade Bilbo to go on an adventure, things get complicated. 13 dwarves arrive at Bilbo’s house, eat all his food, and ruin certain parts of his home. Eventually Bilbo decides to go along with Gandalf and the dwarves. But what is this adventure, exactly? It’s a quest to reclaim the dwarves’ castle. Invaded many years ago by a dragon named Smaug, their home is filled with treasure! In an attempt to reclaim what is rightfully theirs’, Bilbo, and Gandalf face treacherous obstacles along the way during the first segment of (for Bilbo, at least) an unexpected journey…

I will start this review off by saying that I have read the book The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, but have not read The Lord of the Rings books or seen The Lord of the Rings movies. And as for the decision about making The Hobbit into three films, I am a bit skeptical though more excited by all the possibilities, than some at least.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey begins the way I expected it, based on all the critics’ reviews and the decision to make a trilogy out of a single book: the film starts off slow. We spend a long, long, long (I’ll just say overlong, to keep my sentence not too, too, too overlong..long…long!) time at Bilbo’s house. I must say the dwarves’ slapstick comedy as well as the funny dialogue (Gandalf talking about “the game of golf was invented” takes the cake, I just gotta say!). I also can’t think of anything I’d leave on the cutting room floor from the scenes in Bilbo’s house, but it just felt a little… uneventful (not unexpected).

A dwarf and a troll in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Once the adventure does get going, however, I didn’t get much more pleased with the film. While the beginning is actually rather daring for a blockbuster (can you honestly name a big budget extravaganza from this year that spends 20+ minutes in one character’s house, without any action scenes?) the middle is overly conventional. We simply get one action scene. And then another… And then another… And then another… And then you get the idea, already! While the middle third of the film is no slog and some of the fight sequences are really entertaining the film doesn’t head in one, concrete direction.

Galadriel and Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Things slow down (and get a bit weird: Galadriel seeming in love with Gandalf and then just oddly disappearing) when we take time to visit Elrond, played nicely by Hugo Weaving, and some other visitors: Saruman, portrayed by Christopher Lee, and Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett. This not in the book sequence is a nice break from all the action (and I assume) a chance for Lord of the Rings fans to catch a peek at former favorite characters, but it just didn’t grab me. Though it may be, as I already said, a good chance to “slow down” the movie it’s just not interesting enough for Peter Jackson to grant it an ability to be as lengthy as it is.

However to make up for the disjointed beginning we get an amazing third act. There’s the riddle packed Bilbo and Gollum confrontation, a big goblin battle, and a flaming pinecones filled fight with Thorin’s old enemy, Azoc. Honestly these three climaxes could’ve been in separate movies. Bilibo and Gollum in this one, goblin fight in the sequel, and the pinecone sequence in the last installment (with added Smaug). Or a better idea would be to have added the dragon to this film, saved some money for other films, and stopped all the criticism of expanding the story. And with just that they could have made one film, not three. Maybe two films would’ve been the right fit.

Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo Baggins, turning in a mostly comical role. All Freeman needs to do is win an Oscar, star in some other blockbusters, and complete The Hobbit trilogy. If he can survive all that he’ll become a full fledged movie star. Alot of the times the star of a movie series will disappear once their franchise has ended, but that normally happens to younger actors (Elijah Wood of The Lord of the Rings, just 20 when The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001, is a prime example). Freeman is 41 and, despite the fact that his biggest role up unto this point was starring as Arthur Dent in franchise hopeful turned disastrous flop The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, he’s great here. He shows just the right amount of comic verve and jolly vigor. He does a commendable job without ever turning into a bland macho man. It’s a fine performance…but just that… fine. There seems to be just a bit lacking there. It’s not Oscar worthy or classic, for that matter, either. But it’s good, nonetheless. And, FINE, I’ll stop complaining already!

The supporting cast is strong but unsurprising. Ian McKellen (as Gandalf the Grey) and Richard Armitage, as Thorin Oakenshield, are okay but nothing different than the normal type of actors who appear in fantasy franchises. Meanwhile, Ian Holm and Elijah Wood have totally unnecessary screen time, reprising their roles (Old Bilbo and Young Frodo, respectively) from The Lord of the Rings. They do NOTHING interesting in an opening prologue that isn’t returned to for the rest of the film. As for the dwarves, they’re “quite a merry gathering” though no single actor stands out.

Technically the film is wonderful, with dazzling sets, amazing effects (both sound and special), weird yet great make-up, and a terrific score by Howard Shore—featuring a hummable theme melody and the so-so Song of the Lonely Mountain by Neil Finn.

A rock monster battling the heroes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Now to quickly sum up my thoughts on seeing this film in IMAX 3-D; brilliantly incredible! Seriously, Hugo and The Amazing Spider-Man are the only films that could rub shoulders with The Hobbit in my pantheon list of The Greatest 3-D Films (if I ever did one!). And after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, back in it’s September re-release, and this (these are the only two IMAX films I can vividly remember watching) I now feel like IMAX is one of the ultimate ways to experience cinema in this day and age. Combine them together and shake the pot and…and…and…TA-DA!!! You’ve got movie magic, especially for a cinematic event such as this one (take note of the awesomely in-your-face moving and/or living rock mountain scene!)!

Gollum hiding from Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jouney (2012)

My favorite scene is the triple climax. I’ve already talked about the goblin battle and the Azoc-pinecone fight. But just to review: while the goblin battle is particularly thrilling the Azoc fight has particular emotional resonance, thanks to Thorin’s tragic connection to the made up big baddie. As for the riddle sequence, Andy Serkis turns in an unsurprisingly great as Gollum, even if he doesn’t pour emotion (as in Rise of the Planet of the Ape’s Caesar) or slapstick comedy (as in The Adventures of Tintin’s Captain Haddock) into the small role. But as for the scene there’s not much to it, apart from the fun yet creepy riddles. Nonetheless it’s probably the most satisfactory scene of the film for fans of the book. While each third of the climax may not be wholly satisfying on it’s own, added up they create an entertaining finale.

My favorite character is Bilbo Baggins. He’s not the ideal protagonist for a big budget fall film but that’s what makes him great. We spend a great deal of time seeing his decision making process of whether or not to go on an adventure with Gandalf. But despite this overlong showcase of one Hobbit’s predictable decision we still get to know the character and savor Martin Freeman’s witty performance enough to be happy with Peter Jackson’s big screen interpretation of one classic character (or I should say Hobbit!).

Thorin Oakenshield prepares to battle Azoc in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images. I agree but would add that anyone over 11 or 12 will be fine, depending on your level of sensitivity. NOTE FOR THOSE OF ALL AGES: The flashback to the death of Thorin’s father is revoltingly gross, no matter how old you are.

The movie wants to be a comedy. It wants to be an epic. It wants to appeal to toddlers, teenagers, and people who read The Hobbit when it was first published. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t. But no matter what, this is a journey worth taking. A precious fantasy adventure that is is flawed, fun, and ferociously thrilling all in one. Bring on the sequels to a prequel! But for whatever reason Peter Jackson has decided to make three Hobbit movies. And that’s the way this epic trilogy will play out. I kinda want to shout out “Bring on the sequels to a prequel!”, but something tells me not too. At least we get some emotional highpoints, even if not nearly enough. “From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.” reads the poster’s tagline. But from one book expanded into three films we get a visually awesome (especially in IMAX 3-D) yet overall ho-hum first installment.

A Lavish, Sci-fi IMAX Exclusive (Flick’s IMAX Exclusive Review)

Posted on | December 25, 2012 | 1 Comment

If you attended an IMAX or IMAX 3-D showing of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, then, unless they lost the film reel, you probably saw the first nine minutes of next summer’s Star Trek Into Darkness. You can watch all of the International Announcement trailers (the Japanese subtitled one has an extra fifteen seconds) and last week’s new teaser that is, minus the voiceover at the beginning and a bit of new material, virtually the same thing, here. In the following paragraphs, I’ll describe the nine minute exclusive and share my thoughts on it.Star Trek Into DarknessThe IMAX exclusive begins with an African-American couple whose daughter is in the hospital. The start is rather abrupt with an alarm going off and the entire shebang is very teasery, so I suspect that this might not be the first nine minutes, just a nine minutes towards the beginning. But whenever the sequence takes place, it’s miraculously good. No, not good. It’s great. Abrams uses the opening scene to introduce the villain: Benedict Cumberbatch’s…er, villain. The exact antagonist that Cumberbatch will play has not been revealed but rumors that he might be Khan have spread at light-speed. (Is that Star Wars or Star Trek?) Anyway, Cumberbatch is only in the trailer for less than a minute, but at least we get a glimpse of him.

The remainder of the trailer is the Enterprise crew’s journey to save a species that will die if not saved, because of an erupting volcano. Abrams and his technical crew are all very skilled at the technology and I got a feeling watching this trailer. I witnessed visual effects that felt new. They didn’t feel like something I had seen in hundreds of other films. No, this felt new and unique, especially the 3-D. I prefer 3-D not in my face at every moment, but instead merely popping out at key moments which is much more powerful. The latter is exactly what Abrams does here, and it works perfectly. There are two moments in particular that use the 3-D wonderfully. The first is when Kirk and fellow crew member, Bones, are being chased by an alien species on an island. The aliens fire arrows which land square in your face. The second moment is when Kirk and Bones escape from the aliens by jumping off the edge of the island (more like a mountain), which just so happens to be a five-hundred foot drop.

Moments like these are moments that are truly magical on the silver screen and most especially on the massive IMAX screen. Anybody who is think of seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX 3-D should definitely do so, and not just to see the film. This exclusive trailer is worth the extra few dollars. You don’t only get a glimpse of what could be a potential summer blockbuster. You also get a glimpse into the future of visual effects…

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | December 18, 2012 | 1 Comment

4 1/2 stars

Bilbo Baggins, an adventure hating hobbit lives quietly in the Shire. That is until a company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield and overseen by Gandalf, turn up at his door. They are looking for “a fourteenth member of their company”, as thirteen is unlucky. Gandalf believes he has found that member. What say the other dwarves? They couldn’t disagree more. But, Bilbo joins and their perilous journey to take back the dwarf”s home begins.The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey is not your average blockbuster. Peter Jackson, the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is helming this epic saga. Saga? That’s right! Jackson’s initial plan was to split J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit in to two films. The same was done for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the same will be done for the next Hunger Games film, Catching Fire. And the same was also done for the final Twilight book, Breaking Dawn. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Jackson gave us the news. So why is this Hobbit film business so unlike anything else? That’s because Jackson uncovered roughly 125 pages of notes from Tolkein, “deleted scenes”, if you will. He will be interspersing them throughout the films, and has already included some in An Unexpected Journey. Jackson thinks that with all of the notes he has found he’ll have enough material for a third film. “Count em’ on all three fingers: it’s what we call epic!” That’s what some think of this plan. While others are leaning towards “HE’S GONE MAD! MAD! JACKSON IS A MAD MAN!” Personally, I do think that the scheme is aimed to make money and will result in at least one very, very poor film. But for now we can merely speculate about this first film. So I will…

After all of the hullabaloo about the fact that this is going to be a trilogy, can we actually enjoy this film? I can and I did. I think the film is entertaining, and found it to be surprisingly funny. Jackson included just about everything from the first six chapters of the book, climaxing with a Gandalf, dwarf, and Bilbo vs. Orcs battle. Plus, there are some extended and added parts from the notes! Because there is not a central villain in the book (except for Smaug towards the end), Jackson has decided to add an Orc who has a long and dark past with Thorin. I’m not sure if this was found in the notes or what, but it works okay for the film. I don’t have too much of a problem with adding this character, but I would prefer for Jackson not to tamper with the books so much. The Rivendell sequence, on the other hand, is gloriously designed. Characters from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that were not in the book are included in this sequence. They include Elrond, played by Hugo Weaving, Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, and Saruman, played by Christopher Lee. The actors are all wonderful and their is some humor and mystery thrown in there, so all in all, it adds up to an enjoyable sequence, if a bit long.The film received a mere 65% rating from critics on rottentomatoes.com. Many critics found it boring, tedious, and way too long. And, of course, they are remembering that two more films are on their way. But I, for the most part disagree. Yes, the film could have completely cut about three of the action sequences. Some of the sequences are beautiful, especially with the glorious IMAX and 3-D .

The film does at times start to feel, not boring, but certainly tiresome. The nearly three hour running time starts to show and my popcorn was gone long before the halfway benchmark. And I’m not a fast popcorn muncher! Let me explain how I could help Jackson out in the editing room. Jackson uses the 3-D to great effect when Bilbo and the dwarves are struggling to stay on the cliff. That’s exciting and wonderfully choreographed, but the moments of the rock giants bashing each other is not nearly as exciting. I would rather it to be replaced with…nothing! Jackson and his longtime editor, Jabez Olessen could have trimmed a good half hour. If Smaug was thrown into the climax this could have ended here! Okay, okay, I guess that’s not correct. There are many more moments to cover: the dwarves in the river, more added scenes, the final Smaug confrontation, and much, much more. And yet…as I sat in the theater watching the film, I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind: two more three hour IMAX 3-D extravaganzas will be coming soon!

I said that I would get to the IMAX and 3-D critiques later. So now I’ll get to them.  First off, the IMAX. Originally, the plan was for us (Flack, our family, and I) to view the film in IMAX and only IMAX. But at Providence Place theaters, you can only watch the film in regular format or IMAX and 3-D. Nevertheless, we saw the IMAX and 3-D version. I will admit that the IMAX screen is unbelievably massive. I know all critics say this and you’re probably not believing me (I didn’t believe the critics), but it really is about seven stories tall and you can tell. There were several moments during the film where I could feel the ground literally shake. My shirt moved a centimeter or two. Even though you have to empty your pocketbook for this massive screen and “earth shattering sound”, I think for a film like this that you can truly title an event, it’s worth it.

Onto the 3-D! I don’t dislike 3-D as much as some do, but I will admit that the glasses I was given at this showing were unusually annoying. But after the first hour, I did get used to it and I managed to just sit back and enjoy the show because this 3-D is spectacular. It’s absolutely thrilling in every sense of the word. There are a few scenes in particular that stand out. They include: rocks chipping off mountains falling into your eyes as rain drips down and Bilbo and co. struggle to keep their lives and the final climactic battle is given an interesting depth that involves flaming pinecones (I don’t want to give anything else away). There is also a very long trailer for J. J. Abrams’ Summer 2013 sequel, Stark Trek Into Darkness that uses 3-D wonderfully (more on that in the future).I’ve told you about all of the 3-D and IMAX and chit-chat about the fact that this is a trilogy, but is there any emotion behind the action? Yes, in fact there is. I will be purposefully vague as to not give anything away, but I will say that there is a nice portion of emotion at the end and every so often throughout. In other words, on the whole, this is a journey worth taking. WARNING: SOME UNEXPECTED THREE-DIMENSIONAL ROCKS MAY MAKE YOU JUMP. JUST A WARNING!

My favorite character is Bilbo because of his human qualities. He is the central protagonist, but fortunately Jackson paints him as a human and relatable character. Plus, he has some fun action scenes and those hobbit ears…Oh my!

My favorite scene is the adaption of “Chapter 6: Riddles in the Dark” because of…GOLLUM! It’s been nearly a decade since The Lord of the Rings Trilogy began (I haven’t seen the films, but I can judge from photos and trailers), so the Mo-Cap technology has evolved enough to create a truly creepy 2012 Gollum. Howard Shore’s score is just about at it’s best here with the track merely titled Riddles in the Dark. The last reason? That wonderful quote: “What has Bagginses got in it’s pocketses?”. Pure, genuine Gollum.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13 and I agree. There are some creepy off-headings that will push you to keep the youngsters home.

A cinematic event if there ever was one. A true spectacle with some emotional tidbits. Highly entertaining, if overlong.

Arthur Christmas (Flack’s Holiday Recommendation)

Posted on | December 8, 2012 | 1 Comment

Poster for Arthur Christmas (2011)

4 1/2 Stars

Arthur Christmas tells the story of the Claus family. There’s the current Santa named Malcolm, the classic looking ho-ho ho man; there’s Steve, the modern and selfish one who’s next in line; and then there’s the Grandsanta, who’s been retired for a while but still quite lively. Of course there’s also (and surprisingly just one) Mrs. Claus and lots and lots of elves. Every year they go around delivering 2 billion presents around the world, despite some years with glitches. This year they succeed. “Mission accomplished!”, yells Santa! It’s Santa’s 70th year and he’s expected to retire (the balloons say “Congratulations Steve”, for goodness sake) but he doesn’t. And then Arthur the silliest, youngest, and most anxious (for Christmas) member of the family discovers one kid’s been missed! A girl named Gwen wants a pink bicycle and even wrote a nice letter about it but she’s now in danger of getting 0 presents! So along with Grandsanta, a stowaway wrapping expert elf, and all eight reindeer Arthur travels to return this present in a hobbly, wobbly sleigh. And let’s just say this one present isn’t delivered in the 18.4 second average a character mentions early in the film. On Arthur’s journey he encounters many obstacles. Lions in Africa, a government that thinks he’s in a UFO, reindeer that keep falling, and more are all big hurdles. We also get to see the spaceship Santa travels in. That brings in another problem: perhaps Grandsanta didn’t want to help Gwen out and perhaps he just wanted to prove to Santa and Steve that traveling in hi-tech sleighs and going down chimneys can still be done. But can they deliver the Christmas present before Gwen wakes up?

Arthur Christmas and Grandsanta in Arthur Christmas (2011)

This is the perfect Christmas movie: it’s short, funny, and has mass appeal for the whole family. Once the journey gets going you can tell how almost every scene is going to play out. But the overcalculation never really bugged me. Anyone over the age of 9 will know how the story is going to turn out (if they’ve seen other movies) but that’s not the point. The film is so joyous that you’ll get too wrapped into the fun to care about the flaws.

The jokes are wonderful. There’s slapstick comedy, hilarious one liners, and terrific gags about the Santa buisness: in other words those of all ages will find something to laugh at! The script by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith is incredibly well done. Aardman is a bit underappreciated, in my opinion. If you ask some one if they’ve heard of the company they’ll probably just say “Oh didn’t they do Wallace and Gromit!?” And the answer is yes, but not only. They’ve also made Chicken Run and The Pirates! Band of Misfits (among some others), which are also great holiday family viewing for once you get tired of ho-ho-ho films. Aardman is arguably the British Pixar. The animation is always amazing and the films themselves appeal to the whole family.

Here’s a link to our article about seeing the premiere of The Pirates! Band of Misfits and meeting Peter Lord (the director of Pirates! and producer of Arthur Christmas) at TIFF Kids (Toronto International film Festival Kids).

Long time Aardman fans might be a bit surprised by the fact that the film isn’t stop motion, the way their films are typically made. But the CGI didn’t bother me. It’s as sleek and different from clay puppets as can be but works well for this film (the visuals are much more complex and intricate than Wallace and Gromit, for example).

Arthur Christmas and Grandsanta in Arthur Christmas (2011)

One last, great thing is the voices. James McAvoy as Arthur and Bill Nighy as Grandsanta are the two standouts but Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Hugh Laurie, and Ashley Jensen are terrific in supporting roles. As for the nameless elves there’s an unbelievable amount of star wattage. I couldn’t tell that many of these actors played minor elf roles (Andy Serkis, Robbie Coltrane!). Click here to see the full cast and crew.

The movie also has a great moral: when others give up on something you think is worthwhile accomplishing, don’t back off. “Be the change you want to see in the world as Arthur (I mean Gandhi) once said. Arthur is committed and even if he’s occasionally foolish he’s not one to back down from something that’s right. Anyone who watches this movie can learn something from this message.

Arthur Christmas in Arthur Christmas (2011)

My favorite character is Arthur Christmas because he (as mentioned in the paragraph above) is strong willed and smart. He may seem nonsensical and foolish but, more so than anyone else in his family, he proves that he cares that every child gets what they want for Christmas. James McAvoy is great as the voice behind the character.

My favorite scene is the opening. We get to see the visually astonishing sled spaceship for the first time as well as the process of delivering presents. Go to iTunes to watch the first 9 minutes and 47 seconds of the film for free and understand fully what I am talking about.

Arthur Christmas has been rated PG for some mild rude humor by the MPAA. I completely disagree. Everyone always complains about how few G movies are released. That’s a true statement and one way to solve that problem would be if the MPAA rated movies (that should be G) G. I would rate it, Arthur Christmas, G but note that there is some intensely perilous action sequences that may be frightening to younger viewers.

Arthur Christmas and Bryony in Arthur Christmas (2011)Who It’s For: Arthur Christmas is a must for those tired of the Christmas classics viewed time and time again, year after year. Original, beautiful, exciting, filled with adventure, and appealing to 5 year olds and 95 year olds this exactly what a great holiday family movie should be.

Don’t forget to check back for more holiday movie recommendations (with Who It’s For special paragraphs) from Flick and Flack coming soon!

Movies To Be Thankful For (Flack’s Article)

Posted on | November 22, 2012 | 4 Comments

A Charlie Brown Thangsgiving (1973)This Thanksgiving is going to be a great time for going to the movies. Here’s a rundown of what’s opening this week as well as if I think they’re worth seeing.

Red Dawn (2012)I’ll start off with the most lowbrow of the new releases: Red Dawn. The film is about a group of teenagers trying to save their town when North Korean Soldiers invade. The movie is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name (and which tells the same story). “It was fun to shoot, you know. That was what the plan was. The plan was to create chaos.” That’s what Chris Hemsworth, the star of the film, (a.k.a. Thor himself) says about the production. And based on the trailer and featurette it looks like they have succeeded in doing so. Except it seems there is only one slight step they forgot while making the movie: write a good script. Once the story gets going Red Dawn seems to be a nonstop action film with explosions, guys jumping through glass, teenagers blowing up everything they possibly can, a massive bus crash, and much, much more. If you want mindless action spectacle this is the film for you! Otherwise only Razzie members will want to see this film. Ages: The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language. There is also likely a bit of kissing.

Life Of Pi (2012)Now for something a little more Oscar friendly… Life of Pi! Based on the big time bestseller by Yann Martel this film tells the story of a boy named Pi. He recounts his tale to a writer as an adult. What is this tale? As a teenager Pi and his parents decide to move from India to Canada but while traveling on a freighter they get shipwrecked. The only survivors are Pi, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. And soon Richard Parker has dispatched everyone on the lifeboat except for Pi. Will Pi survive despite the odds? Will he run out of food? Will he find land? Will the tiger get hungry and…? Find out in Life of Pi, a visually beautiful mix of religion, adventure, tragedy, and a feel good story. The film took a while to get made. The book was considered unfilmable by readers but the rights were optioned in 2002 and since then names such as M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were tossed around. Eventually Ang Lee was chosen to direct. Lee took two big risks by casting unknown Suraj Sharma as Pi and shooting the movie in 3-D, even though it wasn’t a movie that typically seemed 3-D. However these risks payed off when Life of Pi premiered at this year’s New York Film Festival (which also celebrated it’s 50th birthday this year) to great applause. I’ve read the book. It’s a good read but there are some odd scenes and chapters where nothing happens. While the book was aimed for adults the movie has been rated PG and seems like it could be a hit with older children and adults alike. Roger Ebert says the film has the best use of 3-D he’s ever seen and I’ll definitely be seeing the movie with the extra dimension. Of all the Thanksgiving releases Life of Pi is the one that will please the whole family. Ages: The movie is rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril. There could also be some swearing but anyone over 10 (maybe younger) should be fine.

Hitchcock (2012)Anthony Hopkins stars in this biopic about one of the most beloved directors of all time. The film is titled Hitchcock. The drama focuses on the making of Psycho and Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife Alma Reville (played by Helen Mirren in the movie). Reviews have been mixed and Anthony Hopkins seems to be the only shot that the movie has at an Oscar. Even though the title is Hithcock the tagline is “Behind every Psycho is a great woman.” I’m not expecting Mirren to get an Oscar (or in such a jam packed year, Hopkins for that matter) but she might get a nomination. If she does I was expecting it to be for Best Supporting Actress but the reviews have forced me to reconsider. Could a Best Actress nom be in the bag? Probably not but we’ll see when the Oscar nominations are announced. Another surprising fact about the movie is that it’s only 98 minutes long, a shockingly short length for a film that is about the making of a classic film. That isn’t a bad thing just an interesting one. Anyway, the film will probably be the My Week With My Marylin (which was one minute longer, was put into limited release last November, and got two Oscar noms). And it should also be a good evening at the movies, as Rex Reed of The New Observer said in his review. If you want to see evry Oscar contender possible go see this movie but if not it’ll probably be a good rental. Masters of old movie trivia will enjoy learning more about The Master of Suspense. Ages: The movie is rated PG-13 for some violent images, romantic content, and thematic material. It’s likely appropriate for anyone who has seen Psycho (which is also rated PG-13). Teens are probably the youngest age group that will be allowed to see this movie.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)The most Oscar friendly, Silver Linings Playbook, of the group was actually released into 16 theaters last week but will continue it’s arthouse run by opening into 367 theaters this week (it will likely have a wide release soon). The film tells the story of Pat, a man just released from a mental institution. A former teacher, Pat wants to try and rekindle with his former wife but he soon gets attracted to another woman, Tiffany. And then things get complicated. The film is a mix of romance, drama, and comedy. Critics are calling it one of the best movies of the year and Entertainment Weekly’s Oscarologist Dave Karger calls it the best film of the year so far. Perhaps reminiscent of classic Woody Allen movies this rom-com has shots at winning Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (the film was based on a 2008 book by Mathew Quick), Best Picture, and quite possibly more. For adults looking for a great new movie to see that can promise laughs and tears this is the Thanksgiving film to see. Ages: The movie is rated R for language and romantic content/nakedness. It’s most likely appropriate for older teens and up.

Rise Of The Guardians (2012)Rise of the Guardians will certainly appeal to children. It’s the latest animated family film to hit our screens since Wreck-It Ralph became a surprise hit with critics, a smash at the box office, and an unstoppable crowdpleaser with audiences. Now Guardians is looking to reach those same heights. Though I haven’t seen Ralph one thing that helped make it a blockbuster was the something for everybody trailers. They featured jokes for young and old ones, tons of videogame action and references, and some amazing animation. Guardians has action and stunning visuals but one thing it doesn’t seem to have in abundance: lots of laughs! However it still looks like a fun time at the movies and as it gets closer to Christmas expect more and more money to be made by Dreamworks. Another sign that gives me good hopes for the film’s success: slim competition. Last year The Muppets, Hugo, and Arthur Chritsmas. All three were family films that got great reviews, but none of them made over $100 million. In fact, none of them made back their budgets (apart from The Muppets) in the US. Nonetheless no matter how good Guardians does at the box office and even though critics are saying it’s fun but uninventive I’m still looking forward to seeing the film. Ages: The film has been rated PG for some thematic elements and mildly scary action. Anyone who’s seen other animated blockbusters should be fine as they will be used to the intense yet silly action sequences. However this one looks like it has nonstop battle scenes.

Don’t forget there are many films that have been already released that are still playing. Argo is a must see and I can’t wait to watch Lincoln, which I will be seeing very soon. For adults only Flight looks good and for kids Wreck-It Ralph seems fun. And for anyone looking for an action movie go see Skyfall, and be thankful for 50 years of James Bond!

Here’s Box Office Mojo’s predictions for the weekend. I agree with most of them. Don’t forget to comment on which of these movies you want to see or have seen! Anyway have a great time at the movies, the dinner table, and with friends and family (and a boy on a lifeboat with a tiger)! Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks to evreyone who has read and commented on Flick Flack Movie Talk.

Behind the Scenes Of A New Spidey (Flack’s Article)

Posted on | July 7, 2012 | 1 Comment

On July 3rd The Amazing Spider-Man web slings into theaters! However before we get started on the new one here’s a little history. In August, 1962 the first Spider-Man comic was published by Marvel Comics. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko collaborated on the comic.The comic Amazing Adult Fantasy was canceled  and was renamed Amazing Fantasy for one issue. It was then called The Amazing Spider-Man and has been ever since, though different writers have done their versions of the characters over the years and spinoffs have been published. There were many failed attempts to make a movies involving directors such as James Cameron, David Fincher, and Tim Burton. But in summer 2002 Spider-Man (directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire as the hero himself as well as his alter ego Peter Parker) was released. The movie also starred James Franco and Kirsten Dunst. It was a smash success and became (at the time) the 6th highest grossing movie ever (unadjusted for inflation) though it is now 13th unadjusted. Spider-Man 2 and  Spider-Man 3  were released in 2004 and 2007, respectively. While the former was a success with critics and box office alike Spider-Man 3 made lots of money but was disliked by critics and fans. Or in other words it was time for a reboot. Just so you know I have know reviewed the movie but the following article contains predictions from before July 3rd that I had before I saw the movie.

The Amazing Spider-ManThe look for both a new director and a new Spider-Man was on. Most people thought it was too soon but some people were intrigued. The only remaining people from the first three films are producers Avi Arad and the late Laura Ziskin as well as Sony Pictures Studios. The search for a new Spidey included actors such as Aaron Johnson, Logan Lerman, Anton Yelchin, and Jamie Bell auditioning but in the end the role went to the Golden Globe nominated Brit Andrew Garfield. Though a somewhat unknown Garfield had been in romance drama Never Let Me Go, Oscar drama The Social Network, and fantasy adventure The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. The director Marc Webb has only one other feature to his name: the indie romantic comedy 500 Days Of Summer. But jumping from a budget of $7.5 million to a more Hollywood sized one of $215 million was no small task. There has been tons of advertising for the film: four trailers, an eight minute extended look, two featurettes, and numerous commercials. At first with lots of fans of the Tobey Maguire trilogy unhappy about the remake people had said the trailer made the film look like a Twilight superhero movie (which makes no sense). But as the movie was continually promoted the dust mostly settled.

Last summer was a great one for movies and 3 of my top 5 movies of the year were released in the May-August time frame (Super 8, The Help, and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, although Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was pretty good as well). So far this summer this year I’ve seen a couple of films and none of them have been terrible (Moonrise Kingdom is the only one that may make it to my end of the year list). Can The Amazing Spider-Man be one of the best movies of the year? Probably not. But can it be the best action movie of the summer? Maybe. I thought The Avengers was great entertainment and it was a spectacularly fun way to kick off the summer movies season, even if it could have used an emotional story and better character development. I hope The Amazing Spider-Man mixes awesome action and a great story. I am also seeing this movie in 3-D and I am very excited about that because I hope Spider-Man flies into my face.

In 2002 Spider-Man made $114 million on it’s opening weekend and got an 89% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Spider-Man 2 was released for the 4th of July and made $152 million on the holiday weekend and $88 million on the regular weekend. It also got a 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Spider-Man 3 broke box office records with $151 million and got a 63% fresh. My prediction was that The Amazing Spider-Man would tie the original and get an 89% fresh. But many reviews are in and it currently has a 72% with the critic’s consensus being: A well-chosen cast and sure-handed direction allows The Amazing Spider-Man to thrill despite revisiting many of the same plot points from 2002’s Spider-Man. But what about the box office? The 3-D and 4th of July weekend should help bring in money but the studio is saying they hope for $125 million over the 6 day holiday weekend. My response to that? What????? Spider-Man made $114 million and that was in half the time with out added 3-D ticket prices. While June 29th big grossers Ted and Magic Mike may hold over Spidey will be king of the weekend. I think over the 6 day period it may get $155 million and over the three day period I predict it will make $89 million. It will probably have a domestic total of $289 million while worldwide $730 would be great and possible. Now for the other two wide releases this weekend: Katy Perry:Part of Me OWG 4 days: $13 million OWG 3 days: $9 million DTG: $37 million ITG: $80 million Savages: DTG 3 days: $26 million DTG: $56 million ITG: $95 million My RT guess for the former is 75% and for the latter 90% fresh. Savages has a star studded cast and is directed by Oliver Stone and will likely beat Katy Perry: Part of Me, a musical 3-D doccumentary. It should be a great weekend for critics and box office.

In the comments don’t forget to say what you think of the new movie if you’ve seen it or if you want to see it as well as your Rotten Tomatoes and box office predictions! Plus what you think of the previous Spider-Man trilogy! Hope you enjoyed my post! Now enjoy The Amazing Spider-Man!!!!!

Brave (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | July 7, 2012 | 2 Comments

4 stars

Merida, a young up-and-coming princess wishes she could do things her way. But her mother, the Queen, raises Merida as a noble princess. So, after learning she will have to be married to someone, not by her choice, she asks a witch to “change her fate.” The results are unexpected.

Brave is a movie about wanting to be different. It’s about Merida breaking out of the small must-do-this box the Queen (her mother) has set up. Truly, the movie is about many different things, but this is the core, the underlying theme: it’s what the movie revolves around. It may have been done before (Fiddler on the Roof: “TRADITION!”), and yet it’s interesting to see Pixar’s version, a studio that always brings something new to the table.

The story has a couple of different meanings, but unlike, for example, the Toy Story films, there is only one central plot. All of the Toy Story films were ensemble movies and each toy had their own story. (That’s why it’s called Toy Story.) Differently in Brave, there are no numerous subplots that give unlimited depth. If I watched Brave again (soon), I am sure I would not notice no more than three new things.

As with every Pixar film, the voice cast is wonderful: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connoly, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and (of course) John Ratzenberger (for the first time ever I couldn’t recognize him). They all nail the Scottish accents perfectly. Also, the visuals here are very different from the usual style. They are old fashioned. The shots take in quite a bit at a time. This is a different approach, one that those who obsess over Pixar will not be used to. Nonetheless it works very well, mostly because it fits just right for this film.Brenda Chapman was the original director for the film, but somewhere during the production, something went wrong… so they changed the director to Mark Andrews. It could be because of that the story isn’t multilayered (I don’t think Pixar has ever switched directors in the middle of production before). This is nowhere near as good as Pixar’s best: the Toy Story films, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Up, and more, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any interesting visuals or morals, for that matter there are.

My favorite character is Merida because of her enthusiasm, hunger to go on an adventure, and the feeling she has, that she has to put things right.

My favorite scene is a scene in the middle of the film (after the spell) when Merida and her mother, the Queen are playing in a pond because it could have turned into an overly sentimental scene filled with an overdose of cheesy schlock, but, (sigh) it’s not. Instead, it’s sadly unique and evolves the characters in a brilliant, subtle way.

Brave is rated PG for scary images and rude humor and I agree.

It doesn’t compare with Pixar’s best, but it still is visually and morally fun. As they say: “be happy with what you’ve got.” And while at the beginning of the film Merida isn’t, I am. Keep it coming Pixar.

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