Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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

Fun Movies:

Green Lantern (Martin Campbell) – Action/Adventure – Jun 17
Summary: The film based on the DC comic hero is about Hal Jordan, a test pilot who comes across a dying alien who bestows him with a mystical green ring giving him super powers (whatever he imagines the ring can do). The ring also brings with it membership in an intergalactic peace-keeping society. Hal must embrace his newfound power when a dangerous force threatens his home planet (Earth) and the universe. Filmmakers: Director Martin Campbell has made some very good action films (specifically Casino Royale, and maybe GoldenEye), some fun action films and a few ok ones (and a dud or two). That said, he is a great choice to tackle a comic book property (though, I would have guessed he would have been better suited for a character somewhat more grounded in reality). Campbell has a fantastic crew on the film with composer James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight), brilliant cinematographer Dion Beebe (Memories of a Geisha) and production designer Grant Major (Lord of the Rings Trilogy). Cast: Campbell, Warner Bros. and DC have also assembled a good cast. Having Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan brings an immediate charisma and comedic aspect to the film (mirroring what Marvel has down casting the leads in their recent film like Iron Man and Thor). The supporting cast features excellent actors Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard. Rising star Blake Lively plays the love interest for Jordan, while Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan have voice-acting roles and Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett have small roles. Expectations: The initial trailers played off the comedic and fun of Reynolds’s charisma, but made the film look only ok. Then DC and Warner Bros. changed their marketing strategy and focused more on the dramatic elements of the story while highlighting the fact that this is an epic adventure that takes place in space as well as on Earth. These new trailers make the film look a lot better. Comic book films to date have not really ventured into space (unlike the comics) aside from the Fantastic Four and Superman films, and really only briefly. It will be interesting to see how audiences embrace an intergalactic character. Check out the trailer. Review.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Mark Waters) – Comedy – Jun 17
Summary: The film is about Tom Popper, a businessman who begins to change after inheriting six penguins (yes, I have suspended my disbelief at this point and can continue) – transforming his apartment into a winter playground suitable for his new house guests. However, as a result his professional life starts to fall apart (and we have all realized that this only for children and big Jim Carrey fans). Filmmakers: Director Mark Waters has made his career on romantic comedies (Just Like Heaven) and Lindsay Lohan comedies (Freaky Friday and Mean Girls). However, his last rom-com was not overly successful (or good) so he is trying his hand again at family oriented material (having previously made the flop The Spiderwick Chronicles). Waters has a good crew for the genre with cinematographer Florian Ballhaus (The Devil Wears Prada) and production designer Stuart Wurtzel (Marley & Me). Cast: Really the film is all about Carrey, who pretty much takes up all the energy in any scene, but the supporting cast has some good actors in it with Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Philip Baker Hall, and Madeline Carroll (who is a very good and promising young actress). Expectations: The film looks very silly and a little cute, which should make it great for kids. I just hope that it is funny and smart enough to engage the parents too. Check out the trailer.

Cars 2 (John Lasseter & Brad Lewis) – Adventure/Comedy – Jun 24
Summary: The film is about Lightning McQueen travelling abroad to race against the fastest cars internationally. He is accompanied by his friend Mater who is mistaken for a secret agent, pulling the pair into an espionage adventure. Filmmakers: Director John Lasseter has a great track record in animation; being a major part of Pixar and as the head of Disney Animation (he directed Cars, Toy Story 2, Toy Story, and A Bugs Life). His co-director on the film Brad Lewis is making his directorial debut, but he did work as a produced on Ratatouille and Antz. As with many recent Pixar hits (Up, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles), excellent composer Michael Giacchino is scoring the film. Cast: Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy return to voice the principal characters while the supporting characters are voiced by an impressive bunch, highlighted by: Michael Caine, Joe Mantegna, Cheech Marin, John Ratzenberger (of course), John Turturro, Jason Isaacs, Thomas Kretschmann, Bonnie Hunt, Emily Mortimer, Bruce Campbell, Tony Shalhoub, and Eddie Izzard. Additionally, a few celebrity drivers are lending their voices as well, like Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon. Expectations: With all the wonderful developed characters Pixar has, plus their knack of generating great new ideas and characters, I initially questioned their decision to make a sequel to Cars (a film I am not a huge fan of), but then thinking unselfishly I came to the understanding that the Cars franchise is an absolute boon among young viewers (especially in the ancillary markets). Plus, Pixar has a very good record with their two Toy Story sequels. So, more than likely this will be as good as the original (and expectantly better; but I hope Pixar does not follow suit and start churning out sequels summer after summer like every other studio and not original material – and at the same time, my most anticipated film of this year is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and for next year The Dark Knight Rises, so I guess I am a little hypocritical). Check out the trailer.

Bad Teacher (Jake Kasdan) – Comedy – Jun 24
Summary: The Film is about Elizabeth Halsey, an apathetic junior high teacher who longs to taken care of by a rich man. When she is dumped, she sets her sights on a new prospect in the form a new co-worker who she believes to be very wealthy. In an attempt to woo him (facing competition from another teacher interested in him), she takes an interest in her teaching duties (albeit in a shallow attempt to win money so she can get bigger breasts, as she believes her target to like that – and it probably plays out like this: only to realize that she does like teaching and the nice guy who likes her, because really we all know how this turns out already). Filmmakers: Director Jake Kasdan has made three previous films (the best of which is probably Zero Effect), but has a much stronger body of work in TV (especially his work on Freaks and Geeks). The film is written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, which for fans of The Office should get them excited until they remember that the pair’s previous (and only) film screenplay was Year One. Kasdan has a pretty good crew on the film with cinematographer Alar Kivilo (A Simple Plan) and comedy specialists composer Michael Andrews (scored Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story for Kasdan) and production designer Jefferson Sage (also worked on Walk Hard and Freeks and Geeks). Cast: The film stars Cameron Diaz (who is maybe looking to recapture the R rated comedy magic of There’s Something About Marry, and having a rejuvenating hit) and co-stars Justin Timberlake (in his first of two summer comedies), Lucy Punch and Jason Segel (who instantly makes this infinitely more interesting). Phyllis Smith and John Michael Higgins feature in supporting roles. Expectations: It is kind of funny that Diaz is playing a character trying to snag Timberlake’s given their past relationship history. The film looks ok, with both moments of potential hilarity and overdone genre clichés. The red band trailer certainly makes it look funnier. Timberlake is coming off a great performance in The Social Network and Segel is generally really good, which makes this something I will definitely rent (but probably skip in the theatres). Check out the trailer.

No comments:

Post a Comment