Wednesday, June 5, 2013

At the Movies – June 2013 – Part 2: Hollywood Films


World War Z (Marc Forster) – Action Horror Thriller – Jun 21
Summary: The Zombie Pandemic is upon us. There is no stopping it. Humanity is decimated in a wave of rampaging zombies. But, United Nations agent Gerry Lane is undeterred as he traverses the globe in search of a cure. Filmmakers: Director Marc Forster was once thought to be one of the great new filmmaking talents entering Hollywood, coming off of Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland, but he has since not quite lived up to the expectations. With World War Z, he is again trying his hand at action – his James Bond film Quantum of Solace was not that well received (though, I think if directly paired with Casino Royale it works well). He is working with a very action oriented group including composer Marco Beltrami (Warm Bodies), cinematographer Ben Seresin (Pain & Gain), and production designer Nigel Phelps (Transformers: Dark of the Moon). Cast: It stars Brad Pitt (who is also producing), and features James Badge Dale, Mireille Enos, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Michiel Huisman, and David Andrews in support. Expectations: World War Z was marred by production difficulties – it began principal photography before the script was finished (which is never a good thing) and underwent extensive reshoots. That said however, it looks like a lot of fun. Sure, it is probably not going to be good and a big mess, but I am looking forward to renting it or maybe being talked into seeing it in theaters if for no other reason than to just enjoy the silliness of it (amplified by the CGI not looking that great). Maybe it will all work out though. Forster is not a terrible director and Damon Lindelof wrote the first two acts while Drew Goddard wrote the ending (so who knows). Trailer: HereReview: Here.

White House Down (Roland Emmerich) – Action Thriller – Jun 28
Summary: Policeman John Cale just wants to be a secret service agent. It is his dream. Finally, he gets an interview at the White House. To celebrate he brings his daughter with him. The interview does not go well. But, to add insult to injury, it also happens to be the same day pesky paramilitary invaders decide to attack the Capitol. Now, Cale must save his daughter and protect the President (Die Hard meets Air Force One). Filmmakers: Director Roland Emmerich makes films in which the world is destroyed: Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. But, he also makes decent non-apocalyptic action films: Universal Soldier, Stargate, and The Patriot (okay, I take it back; only The Patriot is decent of those three and my favorite of his career). This makes me think that there is something bigger going on in White House Down than mere terrorist-types trying to kill the President (maybe they are space invaders!). He is working with frequent collaborators composers Harald Kloser and Thomas Wanker, cinematographer Anna Foerster, and production designer Kirk Petruccelli. Cast: It stars the action buddy team of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Jason Clarke, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Jimmi Simpson, Rachelle Lefevre, Lance Reddick, and Joey King feature in support. Expectations: White House Down, not to be confused with Olympus Has Fallen, looks like a lot of fun, and Tatum and Foxx seem to make a good pairing. Looking for some entertaining escapism that exists purely for its audience to enjoy explosions and all other manner of action? You could do a lot worse than this. Trailer: HereReview: Here.


The Internship (Shawn Levy) – Comedy – Jun 7
Summary: Nick and Billy are two career salesmen. However, the industry is changing and they find themselves out of work. So, they look for employment. Knowing nothing about technology, they foolhardily take an internship at Google. Now, they must compete against tech-savvy wizards for a shot at a job. Filmmakers: Director Shawn Levy makes very broad comedies, and thus most of his films are terrible (just to rattle off some titles: Big Fat Liar, Just Married, Cheaper by the Dozen, and The Pink Panther remake – which is especially awful if you are a Peter Sellers fan). He also directed Date Night, Night at the Museum, and Real Steel, all of which are marginally okay (I guess). He is working with composer Christophe Beck (Pitch Perfect), cinematographer Jonathan Brown (who has shot most of Levy’s films), and production designer Tom Meyer (who designed Real Steel for Levy). Cast: It stars Vince Vaughn (who also co-wrote the script) and Owen Wilson (marking their first film together since Wedding Crashers, which apparently has people excited). Rose Byrne, John Goodman, B.J. Novak, Jessica Szohr, Max Minghella, and Josh Gad feature in support. Expectations: The Internship looks like a guise for the non-tech-savvy masses to laugh at nerds, much in the same way it often feels like The Big Bang Theory is laughing at its characters and subjects than with them. Plus, this narrative concept seems very similar in many ways to Old School (out of place old dogs slash man-children showing the young clubs how it is done and growing up in the process). Maybe it will be funny, but I am very skeptical. It also does not help that Shawn Levy is incapable of making anything good. Trailer: Here.

This Is the End (Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen) – Action Comedy – Jun 14
Summary: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and many others all gather at James Franco’s house for a huge party, and then the apocalypse happens. Filmmakers: This Is the End marks the directorial debut for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who are also writing the film). Previously they wrote Superbad, Pineapple Express, and The Green Hornet (and Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse – the short this is based on). They are working with composer Henry Jackman (Wreck-It Ralph), cinematographer Brandon Trost (The Lords of Salem), and production designer Chris Spellman (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World). Cast: It stars Rogen, Baruchel, McBride, Hill, Robinson, and Franco making up quite a comedic group. Emma Watson and Michael Cera co-star, and the film also features a ton of other celebrity cameos (mostly made up of Judd Apatow’s acting collaborators, like the main cast). Expectations: This Is the End looks brilliantly funny, and has the best comedic cast of any comedy this year. It very well might be 2013’s funniest comedy. Rogen and Goldberg bringing in D.P. Brandon Trost seems to suggest (as well as the trailer) that this will have a horror-film tone as well. While I am very optimistic and excited about This Is the End, I also think it might end up being similar to Your Highness: lots of potential, but the actual finished film, while still funny, is disappointing given the expectations. It just has a similar feel. This is a must-see for fans of its stars. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Monsters University (Dan Scanlon) – Family Comedy – Jun 21
Summary: Ever wonder how Mike and Sulley met? Well, now you are in luck. They met in college. This is their story. Filmmakers: Writer-director Dan Scanlon makes his feature debut for Pixar, but he did work on Cars and Brave previously. He is working with Monsters, Inc.’s writers Daniel Gerson and Robert Baird, executive producer John Lasseter, and Pixar frequent composer Randy Newman. Cast: Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their voice-roles. They are joined by Nathan Fillion, John Krasinski, Steve Buscemi (also returning), Aubrey Plaza, Helen Mirren, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Bonnie Hunt, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, and Frank Oz. Expectations: While Monsters University looks good, it worries me that Pixar is now trending towards sequels. From 1995-2009, Pixar made ten films with only one being a sequel. From 2010-2013 they have made four films, three are sequels. Though, their future slate through 2016 includes four films and only one is a sequel (but they are also considering sequels to The Incredibles and Toy Story 4 as well). Monsters University has a great voice-cast and will probably be funny and satisfying, but it really serves no narrative purpose (other than to make easy money) and that is disappointing from animation’s greatest creative production company. This is a must-see for fans of Pixar (they rarely let us down, unless the film is called Cars or Cars 2). Trailer: Here.

The Heat (Paul Feig) – Action Crime Comedy – Jun 28
Summary: To take down a ruthless drug lord, two lone-wolf law enforcement officers, FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn and Boston cop Shannon Mullins, must somehow find a way to work together. Filmmakers: Director Paul Feig is back with another female lead comedy following up Bridesmaids for his second feature. Fans of Feig will also know him as the creator of Freaks and Geeks. He is working with the same group of collaborators as on Bridesmaids, including composer Michael Andrews, cinematographer Robert Yeoman, and production designer Jefferson Sage. Cast: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy star, with Tony Hale, Thomas Wilson, Kaitlin Olson, Ben Falcone, Michael Rapaport, and Demian Bichir in support. Expectations: The Heat looks funny, but very formulaic. The odd couple buddy-cop movie has been done a few times before: 48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, 21 Jump Street, Beverly Hills Cop (sort of), Die Hard with a Vengeance, Dragnet, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Last Boy Scout, The Other Guys, Rush Hour, Sherlock Holmes, Shanghai Noon, Starsky & Hutch, Tango & Cash, Turner & Hooch, Hot Fuzz, Supercop, and so many more – the big difference is that this features females as the leads. Is that enough to make the tired jokes funny? 20th Century Fox seems to think so. First they moved it back from March/April to June to avoid the stink of the other Melissa McCarthy-lead 2013 comedy Identity Thief, and they are already making plans for a sequel. Fans of action comedies might want to check this out. Trailer: Here.

1 comment:

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