Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boyle's "127 Hours" Hits on the Fifth

Oscar winning director, Danny Boyle's follow-up to his acclaimed Slumdog Millionaire, will be hitting theaters before the end of the year making it a definite awards contender. 127 Hours tells the story of Aron Ralston, played in the movie by James Franco. Ralston was a rock climber who got his arm trapped underneath a boulder and had to chop it off then scale a 65 foot cliff before being found. Fox Searchlight has made an official release date for November 5th of this year, and I'm real excited for this. If there is one thing I love about Danny Boyle is he has always seemed to know who he is as a director, all of his movies being consistent in style and substance, and that is what makes Boyle one of the best currently making movies. 127 Hours sounds grizzly, but extremely intriguing and if played out right can be a cinematic marvel. With some more light shed onto the emotional component of the story, where during Ralston's time in the wilderness he recalls his lover and two hikers that he met just before his accident, this makes the movie sound all the more promising. More to come, including a trailer in due time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Save Me

Comic-Con fun doesn't end here. The 10th and Final Season of Smallville is coming up, premiering this September, and here is the first look at Season 10 from Comic-Con. I'm beyond excited, and that final scene where Clark catches the Daily Planet Globe, is he flying? Just see for yourself:

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Best of Comic-Con

Not getting to go to Comic-Con is quite a bummer, but lo and behold in this day and age of vast technology, of the internet and television, I feel as if I've had the full Comic-Con experience aside from the sweaty nerd smell and getting to see all of the exclusive movie clips in the highly guarded panels. Regardless, I've gotten the full gist of Comic-Con, and fan reactions to these clips of the upcoming blockbusters are almost more important in many cases than the clips themselves in solidifying one's own opinion on how a particular movie is shaping up.

To me, all the hype about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is lost on me, same goes, surprisingly, for The Avengers. We all knew it was gonna have a presence at the Con, so why do you feel the need to wet yourself? I'm more intrigued about what I've heard from Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor from the Con. I've been looking forward to seeing Cap on the big screen for some time, and all I've heard has neither made me more excited, but has not made me any less excited. As for Thor, Marvel did a good job with their recent slew of interviews and photos from the upcoming movie, increasing my anticipation for a movie about a superhero whom I've never cared that much for.

The new Simon Pegg & Nick Frost movie, Paul, sounds fun but nothing new to add that we didn't know before the Con, and same kinda goes for Tron Legacy, which the latest trailer still blew my socks off, but we knew most of what we learned months ago. While I'm still skeptical about Cowboys & Aliens, the surprise appearance of Harrison Ford at the Con made me green with envy. Speaking of green, the obvious winner of the Con for me was Green Lantern.

After seeing the first few production stills of Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern, I had started to warm up to him, but after reading descriptions of the footage shown at the panel and of fan reactions, not to mention the interviews conducted with cast and crew, I'm now sold on this movie 100%! I love Green Lantern, so I hope the movie does him justice, which I'm feeling much better about now. I think the real moment that made me realize that Ryan Reynolds could pull this off was when he recited the Green Lantern oath at the panel, and the amount of conviction in his words shows why he was chosen for the part. Check out this video below of Reynolds reciting the oath:

And that's it for Comic-Con. Till next year when I might be able to go in person, though not likely unless I become super rich between now and then.

Fanmade Brilliance

I'm a big fan of the TV Show Smallville, and I came across this video a few weeks back. It's a fanmade version of the opening credits for the 10th and Final Season of the show. While most of the characters shown wont be in the show this upcoming season, it's still an amazing feat that looks better than the real thing. Check it out:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hidden Gems: The Fall

It's kind of weird to say, but is it possible for there to be such a thing as an adult kid's movie? I mean, a movie that is styled like a kid's movie, but deals with subject matter above and beyond a child audience? I think that is what Tarsem's movie, The Fall, is. It is an enchanting experience, capturing everything that I've ever loved about kid's movies, but in a package that was clearly targeted towards adults.

Roy is a Hollywood stuntman in the Golden Age of Hollywood, a man scorned by the love of a movie starlet. Roy has had an accident on set and found himself in a hospital pitying himself over the loss of his love. Here Roy meets a young girl named Alexandria, who has a broken arm. Alexandria and Roy strike up a friendship as Roy starts telling her this epic fantasy/adventure story about five men hunting down a murderous governor. As the story is told Alexandria blends people from her reality into the fairy tale, to where this story becomes real to her. But as we soon learn, Roy tries to bend Alexandria's desire to finish the story to his means to get him meds so he can kill himself.

The Fall is a movie that is at times, fun, at times frightening, and at other times sad. Like the great epics of cinema history, The Fall is a heartfelt movie that steadily drives forward to reach maximum emotional connection, but it is a movie that is brusque and rough at times. Alexandria catches glimpses of the adult world, these glimpses coming both in the fairy tale told to her by Roy and through her watching people around the hospital. It's a movie that keeps things like death and love mysteries, as they were when we were children, and it is these mysteries that keep one as an adult enthralled (cause are we any closer to solving them).

Actor Lee Pace plays Roy with upmost pity, and his performance is one that will be lost on many, being one of those performances that is consistent throughout but never has a real wow moment, but I for one was quite impressed by his skill and range. Lots can be said about little Catinca Utaru, who portrays Alexandria, she is cute as anything, wide-eyed, and innocent, and when she cries she breaks your heart. These two actors are the anchor to the whole movie, and I think it is why the fairy tale story spun by Roy has all the more resonance, when the fairy tale world and reality collide in Alexandria's mind.

Director Tarsem Singh's movie is filled with lush visuals of astonishing lands that are almost too fantastic to be real, but no CGI. This movie is epic, and what makes it all the more sweeping is that everything you see was done in camera. On a technical level, this is one of the most technically astounding movies I've ever seen. The cinematography is beautiful, the action well choreographed, and the blocking of scenes works to a point of visual perfection that few directors manage to do.

So I love this movie. The Fall is a fantastic cinematic achievement that has to be experienced. It's ethereal, totally unbelievable, playing like a kid's movie in terms of tone, but with adult subject matter. The Fall is a unique package, one that is a true Hidden Gem.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Disney Surprises

So as a geek, this week is a pretty big week. It's up there with E3, the Oscars, all of the great things that geeks like me love, it's Comic-Con week. The official Comic-Con in San Diego, CA, is misleading in its name. While it was started for all intensive purposes as a comic book convention, it has spiraled into a con that features all things geek, from movies to TV Shows.

Nowadays it is more about the encroaching powers of Hollywood than anything, and every year, all of the major studios unveil all of their major blockbusters upon the audience to get fanboy feedback, and this year is no different, with Dreamworks and Disney already gone up to bat. While Dreamworks was, for the most part, forgettable (I do wanna learn more about D.J. Caruso's alien teen movie I Am Number Four), Disney managed to wow all with some cool new looks at Tron Legacy and a surprise announcement.

As Tron Legacy's December release looms nearer, more is being shown from the movie, lots of talk and whatnot. Supposedly 8 minutes of footage was screened, but all us folks who can't afford to go out to San Diego only got a new trailer, but this blockbuster has been shaping up as one to look out for, for quite some time and now I can almost taste it. But Disney didn't stop there. They teased us some more about the new Pirates movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which is currently filming for a May 2011 release. Captain Jack Sparrow supposedly addressed the convention hall and gave tantalizing hints about zombies and mermaids, and who isn't happy that Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom are not coming back? Sounds fun, hopefully it can be the turn around for this franchise which grew stale once I realized the second one wasn't as good as the first, and the third wasn't even as good as the second.

But the biggest surprise was the arrival of director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), who just dropped out of The Hobbit two months ago, who announced that he is remaking The Haunted Mansion into a movie for Disney. The previous Eddie Murphy movie will obviously pale in comparison to Del Toro's gothic take, my only question is wheter Del Toro can refrain enough from his usual, frightening imagery to make a kid's movie? But we'll see in time. For now, enjoy the latest look at Tron Legacy and the movie's newest vehicle: a light-jet!?!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oscar Watch: The Halfway Mark

We're well over the halfway point of 2010, nearly seven months of movies have come and gone. By this point last year, nearly 4 out of the 10 Best Picture nominees had been unfurled upon audiences, and does this year hold as much promise? Well, with the Academy, yes.

You can be Negative Ned as much as you want, but while I have only really loved one movie so far this year (Toy Story 3), critics have been a touch different. The aforementioned Toy Story 3, Christopher Nolan's Inception, and the Sundance indie-hit The Kids Are All Right (which I have still yet to see cause it hasn't come to my city), are all pretty much shoe-ins I'd say, unless the latter half of the year really surprises. As for other potentials, How to Train Your Dragon is gonna surely get a Best Picture push, but I think only one animation will get into the top category, and that one will be Pixar's marvelous sequel.

As for Sundance films rolling out, I still wont count out Grand Jury Prize Winner, Winter's Bone, but aside from Jennifer Lawrence's almost surefire Best Actress nomination, the movie itself may be left out in the cold. And refreshing from Cannes, only one movie really has a fair play at Best Picture, and that's Mike Leigh's Another Year, a Brit comedy/drama that if handled well by its distributor could shock.

There has been some changes in my perceptions since the last edition of Oscar Watch. I did not believe two months back that Toy Story 3 would wow like it did, while Inception came and managed to get critic approval, even though I feel Nolan should have gotten recognition from the Academy for Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight, all before Inception, cause those three movies are better. As a whole though the show looks the same.

The Coen Brothers' True Grit is being labeled a kid friendly Western, a change of pace for the brothers, but maybe it'll pay off with the Academy like majority of their previous works. Clint Eastwood has a new movie, Hereafter. Danny Boyle's new movie 127 Hours still has me excited, and I still believe in its Best Picture potential. As for Terence Mallick's The Tree of Life, we'll see if it can play past the arthouse crowd, if so Best Picture here it comes.

Still, even after seeing a trailer for David Fincher's film The Social Network, about the founder of facebook, I still don't see why everyone is foaming out the mouth about this. It's just fanboy admiration over the guy who made Fight Club, but I seriously don't see this one in the 10 come next year. I don't see it happening for "Marky" Mark Wahlberg with The Fighter, nor for Peter Weir with The Way Back, but Edward Zwick's Love and Other Drugs? Maybe. And I've still got a mind for Zac Efron's new movie, Charlie St. Cloud. It looks like a surprise Oscar film waiting to happen, and I'm saying the same for The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole.

So here's my predictions for Best Picture at this current moment in time:

127 Hours
True Grit
Toy Story 3
The Kids Are All Right
Winter's Bone
Another Year
Charlie St. Cloud
Love and Other Drugs

So that's it for now. I'll check back in at the end of August to reflect on the official end of Summer and do some cleaning up on predictions. Till then.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Movie Review: Inception

There is a scene in Inception, when Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Cobb, introduces Ellen Page's character, Ariadne, to the possibilities of dreams and the ability to change the architecture within that said dream. Ariadne literally bends the streets of Paris upside down, walking up walls, changing streets, and raising bridges. That scene is a marvelous introduction, and was so imaginative, feeling as if it laid seeds for the possibilities of the rest of the movie. I was just imaging the possibilities of dream creation and manipulation within action sequences, but this was a concept never explored beyond this one scene, and this sort of became a trend for the rest of the movie. Lots of promise and potential, but the elevator never quite reached the tenth and final floor.

Like a labyrinth of the mind, Inception, manages to befuddle and clutter your brain to the point of confusion at times, as if you're getting lost in an insane maze, but thankfully no Minotaurs.

Writer/Director Christopher Nolan's latest weaves a heist film about a team of subconscious extractors who venture into the dream states of their subjects, mostly corporate CEOs, to steal the secrets of their multi-billion dollar corporations. But the movie puts this concept on its head as the team of extracting characters try to attempt the opposite, called inception, or planting a thought into the heir to a large energy conglomerate, Charles Fischer's mind. They must venture deep into the human subconscious to do so, dodging the subject's attempts at booting out the foreign visitors, not to mention, the constant terror of being found by the ghost of Cobb's ex-wife who wants to sabotage the mission.

Inception is a tough nut to crack. It is very easy to get lost within its labyrinth of complex twists-and-turns, and in many ways I felt as if the movie was a touch too convoluted, and that it nearly got lost in the architectural maze of its own creation. While Nolan manages to hold everything together with no gaping plot holes to mention, the movie still flies at a breakneck pace that does not allow the viewer to really drink in the environments or the wondrous cinematography, because it is such a dense story. The editing cuts before you can really get a look at a shot, and this makes the fantastical action sequences often not as amazing as they are. It's less grandeur and sort of claustrophobic in feel.

While there are some quips with Inception, it is still a good movie. The action sequences are solid, while the only tour de force is the sequence with Joseph Gordon-Levitt fighting off baddies in a revolving hallway, this action bit alone is stellar enough to warrant the price of admission. Plus, Levitt did his own stunts! As well, the acting is very even, Ellen Page and Cillian Murphy being the true standouts. Their two characters, Ariadne (Leo's apprentice of sorts) and Fischer (the guy they're trying to implant the idea in), having the most complete arcs of the entire story. Filling it out, Leonardo DiCaprio manages to turn in a solid performance that by no means will advance his career any further, but does nothing to hurt it, and Marion Cottilard is extremely creepy as the ghost of Cobb's wife.

As you can gather, Inception is jam-packed, a movie that I guess only the most complex minds can master, and I guess I'm not complex enough to love it, but I do like it a great deal. This is an original movie, and that gets this one a lot of points in my book, there not being many of those these days. Plus, the ambition is impeccable, I could never have dreamed up a ride such as this. While I feel more could have been done with it in letting us see more grandeur and overall imagination in the dream world sequences, it is an enjoyable ride, and I think this one's for Nolan, now time for the guy to give us some more of the Caped Crusader.

I give Inception a B!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Green Lantern!

The first photo of Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern has hit on the front cover of Entertainment Weekly. Green Lantern is WB's first attempt to really bring any of DC Comics' big heroes, aside from Batman or Superman, to the big screen, so that is exciting in and of itself, but I also grew up a huge Green Lantern fan, so I am pumped for this movie regardless. While I still am withholding final judgment on the suit till I see it in action, it looks right, and I cannot say I'm not intrigued by their method of creating alien cloth by having Reynolds wear a green screen motion capture suit. Quite unique. Not to mention, finally seeing Reynolds in the get up, he's growing on me, and from the first few shots I've seen of this movie, he seems to be taking this one a touch more seriously, so maybe this will be a worthy adaptation after all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just Give Us What We Want J.J.

I like J.J. Abrams a great deal as a director, and I am very pumped about his next directorial effort, Super 8, but come on J.J., how much longer can you put off Star Trek 2? It's been over a year since the Star Trek reboot hit movie theaters and stole the Summer thunder, since then no real concrete news about what we all thought would be an inevitable sequel has surfaced. Now, there is word that Abrams is in the running to direct Universal's movie adaptation of the stage musical Wicked. I have nothing against Wicked, I've never seen it, though I don't have much desire to, but if Abrams directed it, I'd probably give the movie a go. But still, J.J., all your fans really want is another voyage on the U.S.S. Enterprise, not an adventure to Oz. While I'm excited for your alien centric detour with Super 8, hitting theaters next June, I've just gotta say, if you do Wicked do it after Star Trek 2, cause I don't wanna have to wait another five years or so before I get to see Kirk again. But Abrams doing Wicked is still I believe a longshot with other big directors like James Mangold in the running and Rob Marshall, who has a lucrative history with musicals, not to mention the creator of Glee is also in the mix.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Movie Marketing at its Finest

I don't really have any plans to see Despicable Me, which topped the box office with $60 million opening weekend to surprise from many analysts. Personally, I do not find this result startling. This movie about a super villain becoming a father to three girls looked like your typical animated money grabbing story, but where it really got you was the marketing. As I said, I don't care about the movie, but I've greatly enjoyed the marketing and those little Minions. Ever since the first time I saw a trailer with the two little Minions, I was laughing and enjoying myself. The movie has been sold almost solely off of these little characters, very reminiscent to the Aliens from Toy Story. Point is, the marketing gave this movie its opening weekend because of those hilarious Minions, which if it was a story just about them, I might actually shell out my money for this one. Regardless, I feel as if I've already seen a movie and fallen in love with these Minions and the only way I've gotten to know them is through the movie's marketing. Those guys need to get some big bonuses.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Columbus to Steer "The Man of Steel"?

Warner Bros. love guys named Chris, don't they. It's known that Warners is prepping a Superman film to be released by Holiday 2012, being produced by Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight, and written by David Goyer, the scribe of Batman Begins. While the rumors were both Goyer and Jonathan Nolan, the brother of Chris, were vying for the director's chair, Warner Bros. has reportedly extended an offer to a different source according to Chris Columbus, the director of Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter films has reportedly been offered the chance to direct The Man of Steel. Personally, I think this is a perfect choice, and while this is all rumor from a WB insider, it makes sense. Columbus directed the first two Harry Potter films, both were big moneymakers for Warners, and the first one is still the most successful of the franchise. So he obviously has a good standing with the execs at WB, and Columbus is also known to be a huge comic book fan and has always gone on record stating he would love to do a superhero film someday, so I think that this is a perfect fit. While some complained about his direction of action in the first two Harry Potter's, I think he was fantastic doing such big budget feats, and Superman is a perfect match for Columbus's sensibilities as a director. His career definitely needs a shot in the arm after the horrid one-two punch of I Love You, Beth Cooper and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Here's hoping this is true, cause Columbus would be perfect.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hidden Gems: The Book of Eli

There was a war a few decades back, a nuclear holocaust that ruptured the ozone and caused the sun to scorch the Earth. The few surviving humans, covered in burn scars, scavenge to survive like nomads. Very often it's refreshing to see a movie that's original. While The Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic thriller about a man named Eli who has the last King James Bible, presumably, in the whole world. It's a movie that ultimately has more to it than what you see.

The Book of Eli is sort of an odd, post-apocalyptic western, similar to the Clint Eastwood, Man-With-No-Name movies. The movie is dense, littered with clues and never really spells any of the minute details out for the audience. There is a ton of action, and all of the action is highly choreographed and the directors, the Hughes Brothers, direct them in long, uninterrupted takes in medium shots and long shots, actually allowing you to see the wonderful choreography, and dare I say, blood spatter. The acting is all spot on, while Denzel Washington is very reserved as Eli, Mila Kunis shines as his young sidekick, Solara, and Gary Oldman is the modern day Claude Raines, adding Texas draw to his list of magnificent accents, as Carnegie the villain of this story who wishes to find the bible and use its words to prey upon the hopelessness of the people.

As it is, the movie is a bit tough to watch. PETA must not be happy at all of the animal slaughter in the movie for food, not to mention human slaughter, where a great many of humans in this post-apocalyptic future have become cannibals to survive. Even through all of this, The Book of Eli manages to be about something. It's a wonderful movie about faith and belief in the bible. Even though Eli carries the bible, trying to get it to a safe place, his own religious beliefs are shaky at best, but throughout the film his own faith is strengthened and he manages to convert his sidekick Solara (Kunis). What you can't see, can often be the most affirming.

So as I sit here, I simply have to say see The Book of Eli. There aren't many movies that will handle such subject matter in a big, Hollywood studio production, and for that this is a genuinely daring film. A must see.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One-Year Anniversary

It's been one year since I started this blog, The Unicellular Review, making what was my first post on July 4th of last Summer, called, "Ten is the New Five," my reaction to the Academy's expansion from 5 to 10 Best Picture nominees. It's been a hectic year of film, movie news, and great experiences in both cinema and life. To reach a milestone like this is something special, and to still have regular readers on top of it all, it means a lot. So I'd like to thank all of you out there who frequent this blog and have commented, either virtually or in person, on what I've been writing, it lets me know it's not all a waste and that someone actually cares what I think. While you are small in number, I appreciate it, and will continue doing my best. So here's to another year, in which I hope to see this blog grow and reach greater numbers of readers and become something even more truly special than it already is. Thank you. I'll let ya'll go back to your big Fourth of July celebrations with a look at a good patriotic film in celebration, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, one of the most inspirational speeches in movie history and a great thing for the Fourth.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spider-Man Loves Lasagna

All right, that was an awful pun for my talking about Brit actor Andrew Garfield being cast as the new Spider-Man in the Spider-Man reboot film to be directed by Marc Webb, the director of the hilarious film, (500) Days of Summer. If you got the pun, then you'll definitely be shaking your head right now. But on topic, I still don't know what I think of this new Spidey film, I love the webhead, the character being one of my favorite superheroes, but seriously this team has to do a ton of work to beat the first two Sam Raimi films which were just about perfect representations of the character, in particular Spider-Man 2. While Marc Webb is a good choice, with (500) Days having a vibe similar to that of Peter Parker's tangled webs of romance, it's still hard to be sold on a reboot of a franchise that wasn't really run into the ground, just had one so-so installment. I've never really seen any of Garfield's work, his most prominent work being his BAFTA winning performance in the Brit film Boy A, so I have no real clue as to his acting ability, but he has the look down, so maybe it will work out. My personal choice for the role once Tobey Maguire's was Anton Yelchin, Ensign Chekov from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, but no one listens to me. Regardless, I'll see what happens when the film hits theaters July 3rd, 2012. Hopefully Webb and Garfield can spin webs of movie magic again.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From Book to Screen: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

(This is the first of a new series here on the Unicellular Review, where I read a book, then watch the movie, and I compare and contrast the two trying to decide which I think is better, the book or the movie. Today, we kick things off with one of my favorite books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.)

I was introduced to the world of Harry Potter at a young age, and I like many in my generation thrilled to the delights of the books and took part in controversial conversations about the films and what was cut that shouldn't have been. As it is, the Harry Potter books and films lend themselves perfectly to this sort of discussion, and what better book and film to compare and contrast than the first in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Now, I'll preface all of this by saying that I think both the book and the film are two of the most enchanting and magical books and movies ever made, so it truly is a close call, but as with adaptation, certain things are lost in the translation, luckily that is not the case with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The book and film are very much the same, very little of the book missing in the film adaptation, while there are small, subtle changes, such as exchanging Neville for Ron in the Forbidden Forest scene or having Harry going straight to Hogwarts as opposed to returning to the Dursleys after his meeting Hagrid, all of these changes actually flow better into the story and make the story more forward moving. As well, while the book has a richness to it, that even though the movie is fantastic, it could never replicate, the film manages to relay all of the magic of the story far better than the book does.

In the first book, J.K. Rowling's writing style was not as vivid or clear at painting the picture of certain scenes. As the books progress, her writing style becomes more cinematic and imaginative, but in this first book, in particular the action scenes, a lot is left to the imagination to figure out and certain moments of suspense are lacking like in the Chess Game at the end that is pretty flat in the book, but amazingly epic in the film. Director Chris Columbus just breathes magical life and energy into the proceedings such as the Quidditch Match and the Troll Attack to make the film a more magical and sweeping experience (plus, John Williams' rousing score on top of it all).

So for me, this really isn't too tough of a call. While the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is a fascinating read and is the reason why we all fell in love with Harry in the first place, Rowling's writing matures with age, and the film actually better relays the story of the first installment in clearer tones than the book actually does. For that, the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is better.

Verdict: The Movie