Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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


Immortals (Tarsem Singh) – Fantasty – Nov 11
Summary: The film is about Theseus, a mortal chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against King Hyperion and thereby save humanity. Filmmakers: Indian filmmaker Tarsen Singh is directing. He is known for his highly stylized visuals, (somewhat) avant-garde narrative style and elaborate costumes and use of color (he previously made The Cell and The Fall). Working on the film with him are composer Trevor Morris (The Tudors), cinematographer Brendan Galvin (Veronica Guerin) and production designer Tom Foden (who also designed on The Cell). Cast: The film stars Henry Cavill (the new Man of Steel) and has a solid supporting group, including: Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz, Mickey Rourke, Isabel Lucas, John Hurt, Freida Pinto, and Stephen Dorff. Expectations: With Tarsen directing, it should at the very least be an interesting visual experience (and we can all hope better than last year’s Clash of the Titans remake). If I had to guess, I have a feeling this will be high on art and style but low on narrative and character (a bit like Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, but more entertaining). Trailer: Here.

Summary: The fourth film in the series is about Edward and Bella’s wedding and her unexpected pregnancy. They now face danger from both the Quileute and the Volturi who fear the unborn child and what it may become (and other drama and sighing looks). Filmmakers: The franchise continues to look for a director that can translate the source material to the silver screen and actually make a good narrative film (something that has so far eluded it; what surprises me more is that fantastic TV writer Melissa Rosenberg, who is a principle writer on Dexter, has scripted all the films, and yet they are all dull and un-engaging). Now, director Bill Condon gives it a shot. He became a sought-after director in Hollywood due to his critically acclaimed indie hits Gods and Monsters and Kinsey, but most will know him as the director of (the overrated) Dreamgirls. He has a great crew with the Coen Brothers’ composer Carter Burwell, Guillermo del Toro’s cinematographer Guillermo Navarro and his production designer Richard Sherman. Cast: All the regular cast members are back. New to the series are Noel Fisher, Wendell Pierce, Maggie Grace, and Lee Pace, which are all great additions. Expectations: So far the films have been bad (Twilight), bad (New Moon) and awful (Eclipse), and this from a genre that has made a number of excellent romance vampire narratives (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, which is essentially the same as Twilight for the most part) – maybe Bill Condon can make the series’ first compelling film (but probably not), as there is certainly enough talent behind and in front of the camera. Trailer: Here.

Hugo (Martin Scorsese) – Mystery – Nov 23
Summary: The film is about an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station in 1930s’ Paris, after his father dies. When he discovers a clue to the broken automaton that his father was working on, he embarks on an adventure to discover its secrets. Filmmakers: The film is best known as not only director Martin Scorsese’s first kid’s movie but also his first 3D film. Additionally to directing, he is also producing along with Johnny Depp (who also plays a small role). He is working with a really great group including composer Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings), cinematographer Robert Richardson (who has shot four films for Scorsese previously) and production designer Dante Ferretti (who has collaborated with Scorsese on six of his films). Cast: The film has a very strong group of actors with Asa Butterfield starring and Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Michael Pitt, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCroy, Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Griffiths, and Johnny Depp in support. Expectations: Initially, I was very excited for this film (it was among my most anticipated for 2011) – it is a Martin Scorsese film after all – but then I saw its first trailer and all that anticipation faded almost instantly. The film looks too much like a kid’s movie, but not in a Pixar ‘it will still work for all ages’ sort of a way but the in a negative Mr. Popper’s Penguins ‘only kids are going to like this’ way. I still hold out hope due to the cast and filmmakers, but again the trailer is expectation crushing (not to mention the utter terribleness of the music in it) – it just does not look good. I hope I am wrong. Trailer: Here. Review.


Summary: Harold and Kumar are back for their third adventure, and not only is it Christmas themed it is in 3D!!!!! Filmmakers: Director Todd Strauss-Schulson has made a few spoofs and funny shorts, but this is his first big project. He is working with a decent crew featuring composer William Ross (The Game of Their Lives), cinematographer Michael Barrett (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and production designer Rusty Smith (Austin Powers). Cast: NPH, Kal Penn and John Cho are all back, and a few of their friends. Danneel Ackles, Danny Trejo, Elias Koteas, Patton Oswalt, and Thomas Lennon feature in supporting performances. Expectations: The first in the series was very funny, but the second was not that great – this will probably be closer to the second in terms of overall quality. I mean, it already seems like a ploy to capitalize on 3D revenues. That said, it will still have a few great laughs and is probably worth checking out for fans of the series. Trailer: Here.

Tower Heist (Brett Ratner) – Action/Crime – Nov 4
Summary: The film is about the hard-working employees of a high luxury high-rise residential building in Manhattan who plan to steal a fraudulent wealthy business man’s nest egg, after they fall victim to his Ponzi scheme. Filmmakers: Director Brett Ratner is at the helm (which means that the film will be entertaining, but not particularly good) and is probably a good fit for the film – it being an action comedy like his Rush Hour series. He is working with comedy composer Christophe Beck (The Hangover Part II), wonderful cinematographer Dante Spinotti (Heat) and production designer Kristi Zea (The Departed). Cast: The film stars Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy (who is also producing), and features supporting work from Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Tea Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Pena, Alan Alda, and Judd Hirsch. Expectations: With Brett Ratner (the Hollywood hack) directing, I do not have high hopes for this, but as stated above it will probably be entertaining. Stiller and Murphy should provide some good comedic moments (we can hope) and the supporting cast is good. For me, this is a rental, but fans of mindless action comedies will probably enjoy this enough to see it in theatres. Trailer: Here.

Jack and Jill (Dennis Dugan) – Comedy – Nov 11
Summary: The film is about Jack, a family man, and his identical twin sister Jill who is coming to visit for the Holidays. Can Jack survive his most dreaded time of the year and the antics of his needy and passive-aggressive sister (and do we care)? Filmmakers: Director Dennis Dugan collaborates with Adam Sandler (star and producer) for their eighth film together. Composer Rupert Gregson-Williams and production designer Perry Andelin Blake are also frequent collaborators on Happy Madison films.  New to the team is very good cinematographer Dean Cundey (Jurassic Park). Cast: The film stars Sandler playing both Jack and Jill, and Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Allen Covert, Dana Carvey, and Tim Meadows feature in support. Expectations: To some degree, it seems as if Sandler is making worse and worse films just to see if people will still go to see them (I mean what else can you ascertain from this film’s trailer?). And yet, fans of his, like me, still find him funny – now just think what would happen if he made a good comedy for once. Trailer: Here.

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