Thursday, November 1, 2012

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

Serious Films:

Flight (Robert Zemeckis) – Drama – Nov 2
Summary: Pilot Whip Whitaker saves a flight from crashing and is declared a hero, but when a full investigation into the malfunctions is underway something troubling comes to light. Filmmakers: Flight marks the return of Robert Zemeckis to live-action filmmaking. Why should you be excited about that? Well, he made Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away. Excited now? He is working with composer Alan Silvestri (The Avengers), frequent collaborator cinematographer Don Burgess and production designer Nelson Coates (The Proposal). Cast: Denzel Washington stars, with John Goodman, Kelly Reilly (who I always enjoy), Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, and James Badge Dale in support. Expectations: Flight looks like a good drama, built on a strong performance by Washington and a great supporting group. Sure, Zemeckis is a little hit or miss (What Lies Beneath is not great), but he mostly makes good live-action films. And, from what I have seen, this looks like it is going to be a triumphant return for him. The advanced screenings have generated positive buzz. Trailer: Here. Review: Here.


The Man with the Iron Fists (RZA) – Action – Nov 2
Summary: There is a fabled treasure of gold in a small village in feudal China. A band of warriors, assassins and a rogue British soldier descend on the village to claim the treasure. However, a humble blacksmith stands up to defend himself and his fellow villagers. Filmmakers: The film marks the directorial debut for hip hop legend RZA. He is working with producer Eli Roth (who he co-wrote the script with), composer Howard Drossin (known for video game music), cinematographer Chi Ying Chan (Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame), and production designer Drew Boughton (art director on many big films, including Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides). Cast: The ensemble features Russell Crowe, Jamie Chung, Lucy Liu, RZA, Dave Bautista, Rick Yune, Pam Grier, and an assortment of lesser known (in the States) Asian actors. Expectations: The Man with the Iron Fists has played very well in its advanced screenings (though, I think it will not be as well received by the general audience of moviegoers). This is a film made specifically for fans of kung-fu movies (and has a fantastic soundtrack for fans of Wu-Tang Clan style hip hop). If you like classic style kung-fu, this will probably work for you – if not, maybe it is worth a look. Trailer: Here.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (Bill Condon) – Fantasy Adventure Romance – Nov 16
Summary: Now a vampire, Bella and the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect her newborn child Renesmee from the Volturi (and other melodramatic stuff will probably happen too). Filmmakers: Director Bill Condon returns for the final film with his whole crew intact from Breaking Dawn – Part 1, including: screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (who has written every Twilight movie – but is more respected for her excellent work on Dexter), composer Carter Burwell (who scores most of the Coen Brothers’ films), cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (who shoots Guillermo del Toro’s films), and production designer Richard Sherman (Kinsey). Cast: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star, with Taylor Lautner co-starring. A ton of people feature in support, notably: Maggie Grace, Billy Burke, Dakota Fanning, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Peter Facinelli, Lee Pace, Elizabeth Reaser, Joe Anderson, Cameron Bright, Rami Malek, and Noel Fisher. Expectations: Well, while the franchise has been a success financially and for its fans (and really what else can you ask for), it has been disappointing for the average filmgoer. None of the films are particularly good, including Breaking Dawn – Part 1, despite having some decent people involved. Thus, I do not expect Breaking Dawn – Part 2 to be good either (history is just not in its favor). But, that said, maybe there is enough action in this film to have a broader appeal. Plus, now that Bella is married and a vampire, the overly sappy love triangle stuff should be mostly non-existent in this one (though, having not read the book, I really am just guessing). Maybe the franchise will finally deliver a vampire film that at least approaches equal footing to the great current works of the genre (stuff like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries). Trailer: Here.

Life of Pi (Ang Lee) – Adventure Drama – Nov 23
Summary: Pi, an Indian boy and son of a zookeeper, finds himself adrift in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and Bengal tiger after a shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean. Filmmakers: Director Ang Lee took on the project after French writer-director Jean-Pierre Jeunet exited. He seems like a good fit for the film, as his visual style (stuff like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Lust, Caution) lends itself well to the story. However, Lee has mostly made melodramas. Life of Pi is something completely different from what he is use too (last time he ventured far outside his wheelhouse he made Hulk, which was disappointing and probably the worst of his eleven previous films). He is working with composer Mychael Danna (Moneyball), cinematographer Claudio Miranda (whose work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is among the best of the last decade) and production designer David Gropman (Doubt). Cast: Newcomer Suraj Sharma stars with Gerard Depardieu, Rafe Spall and Irrfan Khan in support. Expectations: Life of Pi, while probably more of a Best Picture long-shot, is among the films that should be in the mix come awards season. The film looks magnificently beautiful and Miranda’s photography is phenomenal. I am interested to see how this plays for the average moviegoer. I suspect it will not be as well received as it is a different sort of film. But, for fans of Lee’s work and visual epics, this should be well worth checking out. Trailer: HereReview: Here.


Wreck-It-Ralph (Rich Moore) – Family Animation Comedy – Nov 2
Summary: Ralph is a video game villain who lives in an arcade. Day after day he plays his role but grows weary of it. One day, he decides to fulfill his dream of being a hero and leaves his game, but this brings havoc to the arcade. Filmmakers: Animation director Rich Moore has a good background, though this is his feature debut, having worked on both The Simpsons and Futurama. He is working with Walt Disney Animation’s head John Lasseter who is executively producing and composer Henry Jackman (X-Men: First Class). Cast: The film stars the voice talents of John C. Reilly, with Jack McBrayer, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch co-starring. The film also features the voices of Adam Carolla, Rachael Harris, Dennis Haysbert, Mindy Kaling, Ed O’Neill, and Alan Tudyk. Expectations: Conceptually, Wreck-It Ralph sounds really cool, and I love that they are using many known video game franchises in the film. However, the film honestly does not look that good to me. The story just feels a bit tired. Hopefully, though, I am wrong and it is funny and entertaining. Plus, John C. Reilly is probably going to be great as Ralph. Trailer: Here.

No comments:

Post a Comment