Thursday, February 2, 2012

At the Movies – February 2012 – Part 2: Hollywood Films

Romance and Rom-Coms:

The Vow (Michael Sucsy) – Romance – Feb 10
Summary: Paige and Leo fell in love and got married, but after a car accident Paige no longer recognizes Leo or remembers the love that they shared. Now, Leo must get Paige to re-fall in love with him again (I feel like this has been made already – a more serious 50 First Dates?). Filmmakers: Writer-director Michael Sucsy is coming off the success of Grey Gardens to make his feature debut. He is working with two very good composers in Michael Brook (The Fighter) and Rachel Portman (Never Let Me Go), cinematographer Rogier Stoffers (No Strings Attached) and production designer Kalina Ivanov (worked on Grey Gardens with Sucsy). Cast:  It stars Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum (both veterans of romance dramas), with Sam Neill, Scott Speedman and Jessica Lange in support. Expectations: This very easily could be just another throwaway romance drama (joining the dregs of the genre), but the filmmakers give me hope that it will be something better than what we have typically come to expect. McAdams is generally good, yet it is Tatum that has seen his stock rise with good work recently in Dear John, The Dilemma, The Eagle, and Haywire (despite whether or not the films were good, as aside from Haywire none of them are, though I did enjoy Dear John). If the filmmakers rise to the task, this could be a better than average romance. Trailer: Here.

This Means War (McG) – Action Romantic Comedy – Feb 17
Summary: Two of the CIA’s top operatives have fallen for the same girl, Lauren. Now, they must duke it out in an ever escalating battle for her complete affection (just tell me it will not be anything like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Killers or Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, just tell me that). Filmmakers: Director McG is not really known for making good films, entertaining sure, but not good. His work as a producer on TV is far better (Supernatural, Chuck, Nikita, and Human Target). He is working with action producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class), composer Christophe Beck (who seems to score every comedy), cinematographer Russell Carpenter (Killers, uh oh), and production designer Martin Lang (Terminator Salvation). Cast: The film stars Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reece Witherspoon, which as far as trios go is not too bad. Chelsea Handler, Laura Vandervoort, Abigail Spencer, Til Schweiger, Angela Bassett, and David Koechner make up the supporting cast. Expectations: If I had to guess, I would say that this is probably not going to good, but probably entertaining – much like the Charlie’s Angels films. But, that said, Pine, Hardy and Witherspoon make it interesting. If their chemistry works then the film could be a lot better than I suspect it will be. Trailer: Here.


Safe House (Daniel Espinosa) – Thriller – Feb 10
Summary: Tobin Frost is the most dangerous man on the planet, and he was just brought into a CIA safe house managed by inexperienced analyst Matt Weston. When all hell breaks loose, Matt and Tobin must team up to deter their attackers, and Matt must decide where his loyalties lie. Filmmakers: Swedish director Daniel Espinosa makes his U.S. debut with this film. He is working with a very good group including composer Ramin Djawadi (Fright Night), cinematographer Oliver Wood (The Bourne Ultimatum) and production designer Brigitte Broch (The Reader). Cast: Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star with a good supporting cast including Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick, and Liam Cunningham. Expectations: Washington plays essentially the same character in all his action oriented films (usually directed by Tony Scott, who I am actually surprised to see is not helming this), and yet we still enjoy his work every time, and this should be no different. I am not familiar with Espinosa’s prior work, but he has a good team around him and this should be a good thriller, especially for fans of Washington. Trailer: Here.

Summary: The devil is trying to take human form. Who can stop him? Johnny Blaze can! Filmmakers: Maniac directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank) seem like perfect fits for his series, especially after the first film being essentially terrible and meaningless for fans. They can make it as insane as they want, and it will probably be an improvement. They are working with screenwriter David Goyer (Blade: Trinity), composer David Sardy (Zombieland), cinematographer Brandon Trost (Crank: High Voltage), and production designer Kevin Phipps (Resident Evil: Retribution). Cast: Nicholas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze, and has an impressive supporting group with Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds, Christopher Lambert, and Anthony Head. Expectations: To be honest, I am not a fan of Neveldine & Taylor’s films (Gamer sort of ruined any goodwill they had for me) but I can see the excitement fans have for what they can bring to this film – basically making it shockingly outlandish, silly and completely crazy. Do I think it will be among the better comic book films – no. Do I think it will be entertaining – for fans, yes. Trailer: Here.

Summary: From The Borrowers series, this is about the Clock family. They are four-inch-tall people who live beneath the floorboards of a normal-sized family’s house. Life changes when the Clocks, specifically their daughter Arrietty, are discovered. Filmmakers: The film is written by Hayao Miyazaki (the writer-director of Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, among others) and is directed by his apprentice of sorts Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Cecile Corbel wrote music for the film with Dale Sison. Miyazaki’s cinematographer Atsushi Okui is shooting the film. And, Gary Rydstrom directed the U.S. voice actors. Cast: The U.S. version features Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, and stars Bridgit Mendler and David Henrie. Expectations: Fans of Miyazaki’s work should be very excited for this, as it has been very well-received (at least the Japanese and U.K. versions). Disney is behind it and is pushing it for a big release in the States. Trailer: Here.


Gone (Heitor Dhalia) – Thriller – Feb 24
Summary: Jill escaped two years ago from a serial killer. Now, he is back and has taken her sister mistaking her for Jill. She has to face her abductor and find her sister. Filmmakers: Brazilian director Heitor Dhalia makes his U.S. debut. He is working with composer David Buckley (The Town), cinematographer Michael Grady (Friends with Benefits) and production design Charisse Cardenas (The Lincoln Lawyer). Cast: Amanda Seyfried stars with Daniel Sunjata, Jennifer Carpenter, Wes Bentley, Sebastian Stan, and Joel David Moore in support. Expectations: This looks like a fairly run of the mill thriller, but could be a standout on the shoulders of its star Seyfried as she is looking for a leading role to take her to the next level. She has the talent, just not the roles yet. I also want to make a prediction – Wes Bentley is the killer, based solely on typecasting. Trailer: Here.

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