Wednesday, February 2, 2011

At the Movies – February 2011 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Romance and Rom-Coms:

Just Go with It (Dennis Dugan) – Romantic Comedy – Feb 11
The film is about Danny, a man who pretends to be married to pick up women. Then, when he meets the girl of his dreams, he must enlist the help of his friend Katherine and her kids to win her heart. Director Dennis Dugan and producer/star Adam Sandler have worked together a lot – some successes like Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy, and some not so much like last year’s Grown Ups. Dugan has the same principal crew with him from Grown Ups on this film with composer Rupert Gregson-Williams, cinematographer Theo van de Sande and production designer Perry Andelin Blake. Sandler and Jennifer Aniston star (Aniston hoping to actually be in a good movie this year as 2010 was not kind to her) with Brooklyn Decker, Nick Swardson, Bailee Madison, Kevin Nealon, and Nicole Kidman (who is oddly absent from the trailer, see below) in supporting roles. The film looks pretty funny (but I grew up a Sandler fan) and hopefully can be added as a win for Dugan and Sandler. Check out the trailer.

Serious Films:

The Eagle (Kevin Macdonald) – Drama – Feb 11
The film is about a young Roman solider who crosses the boundary between Roman controlled land and chaos in Roman-ruled Britain to find and bring back the legion’s golden eagle standard lost by his father. This is director Kavin Macdonald’s third feature film (he has also made quite a few documentaries). His first, The Last King of Scotland, was well received by critics (though I did not like it as much), but his second, a remake of State of Play, was neither a critical nor commercial success. The Eagle is an important film in determining how his feature career will develop. He has a very good principal crew with composer Atli Orvarsson, master digital cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and production designer Michael Carlin. The film stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell, and features Mark Strong (who probably plays a villain), Donald Sutherland, Denis O’Hare, and Tahar Rahim (who is wonderful in A Prophet) making for a decent cast – Macdonald decided to cast Americans to play Romans and Europeans et al. to play everyone else. The success of the film may rest of Tatum’s ability to handle the drama (as he is good with action). The film looks ok; though there seems to have been a bunch of Roman Era films/TV released lately (I liked last year’s Centurion), and after the HBO series Rome there is just such a high standard. It is just that the story seems so over done, but hopefully Macdonald and company have a new and interesting spin on it. Check out the trailer.

Fun Movies:

Sanctum (Alister Grierson) – Action – Feb 4
The film is about an underwater cave diving team who during an expedition of the unexplored and least accessible cave system in the world experience a life-threatening crisis. This is director Alister Grierson’s second feature film, first to be released in the U.S. However, the main selling point for the film is that it is produced by James Cameron (and despite the film not looking overly interesting or good, Cameron’s name alone should generate some interest). The Australian director has an all Aussie principal crew with composer David Hirschfelder, cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin and production designer Nicholas McCallum, the latter two also worked on Grierson’s first feature. The film stars Richard Roxburgh, Ioan Gruffudd, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson, and Christopher Baker. Of course it is in 3D, it is produced by Cameron after all. It looks fairly generic, but 3D fans and those looking for thrills with little substance may find this entertaining. Check out the trailer.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (Jon Chu) – Documentary – Feb 11
The film follows Justin Bieber, incorporating performance footage from his 2010 concert tour. Director Jon Chu seems like the right choice for this film, as he did Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D. While the documentary will focus solely on Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Jaden Smith make guest appearances. This was birthed as yet another way to capitalize on the current stardom and frenzy of Bieber (though I doubt it will appeal to anyone who is not already a fan of his). Oh yeah, and it is in 3D (big surprise). Check out the trailer.

I Am Number Four (D.J. Caruso) – Action – Feb 18
The film is about John a teen with extraordinary abilities who must keep his identity hidden to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him and his kind. Three have been killed; he is number four (yup, took that last part right out of the trailer). Director D.J. Caruso has done some great work in the past, namely his first feature The Salton Sea and his work on The Shield. His name makes this sort of ‘blah’ film more interesting (but not a lot more). Caruso has a good crew with him on the film: action composer Trevor Rabin, D.P. Guillermo Navarro (who shot the aesthetically brilliant Pan’s Labyrinth) and very good production designer Tom Southwell (and still I am not all that jazzed to see this). It stars relative newcomer Alex Pettyfer and has an ok supporting cast with Dianna Agron (from Glee), Timothy Olyphant (who is great in Deadwood and Justified), Teresa Palmer, and Kevin Durand. Does this movie look good? Not really. Will I rent it anyway? Probably. Action fans will probably find it to be entertaining, as the crew and director have solid track records. Check out the trailer.

Drive Angry 3D (Patrick Lussier) – Action – Feb 25
The film is about a merciless vengeful father who (must like another Nicholas Cage character) escapes from hell to hunt down and kill the men who murdered his wife and kidnapped his daughter. Schlock-horror director Patrick Lussier tries his hand at action for this film, bringing along an action/horror experienced crew: composer Michael Wandmacher, cinematographer Brian Pearson and production designer Nathan Amondson. Along with Cage, the film stars Amber Heard with Billy Burke, Katy Mixon, David Morse, and William Fichtner in supporting parts. The film being marketed as a big, bad 3D actioner should be entertaining for genre fans. Plus, Cage going crazy is sort of his thing. But this is really only for genre fans. Check out the trailer.

Hall Pass (Bobby & Peter Farrelly) – Comedy – Feb 25
The film is about two married men who are given a free week pass to have an affair by their wives. Things get a little out of control when both wives also start to look for extramarital activities as well. Known for their raunchy-comedy style, Bobby and Peter Farrelly were at the top of the comedy genre in the last 90s with hits like There’s Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber and Kingpin. Then they made a series of not so good films (though I kind of like Fever Pitch, though I prefer the British original). They are working again with often collaborators cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti and production designer Arlan Jay Vetter. The film stars Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, and Christina Applegate (a good group of funny people), and features Richard Jenkins (always awesome), Alyssa Milano, Larry Joe Campbell, and Stephen Merchant (who is amazing in Extras) in supporting roles. The movie looks funny and has a solid comedic cast, and maybe it will serve as a comeback for the Farrelly Brothers who have been outmatched by directors such as David Wain, Adam McKay and Judd Apatow in the comedy genre in recent years. Check out the trailer.

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