Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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


(Gore Verbinski) – Action/Adventure Western – Jul 5
Summary: John Reid and his brother, serving as lawmen, set out to capture a ruthless villain terrorizing the American West, but they are both gunned down in an ambush. Native American warrior Tonto mysteriously brings Reid back from the dead, and the two join forces to seek vengeance on those that have wronged them. Filmmakers: The film is by the Pirates of the Caribbean (the initial trilogy) creative team including director Gore Verbinski, writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Additionally, Verbinski is also working again with composer Hans Zimmer (who scored the second two Pirates movies). New to the team are cinematographer Bojan Bazelli (The Ring) and excellent production designer Jess Gonchor (True Grit). Cast: Also returning from Pirates is Johnny Depp, who stars opposite Armie Hammer, while Helena Bonham Carter, Barry Pepper, William Fichtner, James Badge Dale, James Frain, Ruth Wilson, W. Earl Brown, and Tom Wilkinson feature in support. Expectations: On paper The Lone Ranger seems like it should be a very entertaining action/adventure western, but based on what I have seen it is not clear if it will actually be good. Although, I had the same hesitation before seeing the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, being very pleasantly surprised once I did. I want to see The Lone Ranger, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is going to be disappointing. On the plus side, the cast is comprised of a lot of great actors (especially in support: Ruth Wilson is amazing in Luther, Barry Pepper was brilliant in True Grit, and Tom Wilkinson is great in everything, for example). Fans of the Pirates movies should probably check it out (Plus, Vebinski has shown he can make a decent western with Rango). Trailer: Here.

(Guillermo del Toro) – Sci-Fi Action – Jul 12
Summary: When monster-sized aliens attack Earth, we make monsters of our own (yup, stole that from the trailer) in the form of huge human-piloted robots to fight them. Filmmakers: Writer-director Guillermo del Toro is a perfect filmmaker to take on a film like this, as his fascination with monsters and his wonderful style should separate this from the painfully generic ‘mass destruction by huge menaces’ blockbusters that have overrun recent summers (yes I am talking about you Transformers and your terrible sequels). But, by the same token, del Toro’s more intimate films have far outshined his ventures into Hollywood action (Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, and Pan’s Labyrinth versus Mimic, Blade II, and Hellboy). He is working with a well-suited crew, including: composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (who has shot almost all of del Toro’s films), and production designers Andrew Neskoromny (Slither) and Carol Spier (who worked on Mimic and Blade II). Cast: The ensemble group features Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Ron Perlman (of course), Charlie Day, Clifton Collins Jr., Burn Gorman, and Rinko Kikuchi. Expectations: Pacific Rim very well could be July’s best film, both in terms of sheer entertainment and in actual quality – but it also might just be another cool yet ultimately disappointing Hollywood action film from del Toro. That said, I am completely on board for the ride. It has a great cast and looks very exciting (assuming you have an interest in watching what amounts to a modern epic rehashing of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla – which we all do). Fans of big action films certainly want to check this one out. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

(Dean Parisot) – Action Comedy – Jul 19
Summary: When a portable nuclear device goes missing, retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses once again must reteam with his (also retired) rag-tag team of operatives to track it down (and clear his own name). Filmmakers: While Robert Schwentke directed Red, Dean Parisot has stepped in to handle the sequel. Parisot also has a background in action comedy with films like Galaxy Quest. He is working with composer Alan Silverstri (The Avengers), cinematographer Enrique Chediak (28 Weeks Later), and production designer Jim Clay (Children of Men). Cast: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich all return to the cast, while Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, David Thewlis, Neal McDonough, Byung-hun Lee, and Titus Welliver have been added for the sequel. Expectations: Red was a surprisingly funny action movie that seemed to come out of nowhere (at least it did for me – I thought it would just be another generic throwaway Hollywood film because that is what it looked like), and the action was very entertaining too. I am almost certain that Red 2 will not live up to its predecessor and succumb to its likely fate as a forgettable summer movie, but I hope to be surprised again. Still, fans of action comedies may want to check it out. Trailer: Here.

(Robert Schwentke) – Action Crime Fantasy – Jul 19
Summary: Nick Walker is a cop – the problem is, he is dead. However, his days of fighting crime are not over as he has found a new job as a member of the Rest In Peace Department: a ghost law enforcement agency that tracks down errant spirits and brings them back. And, on a side note, Nick also wants to find the man who murdered him. Filmmakers: Red’s Robert Schwentke opted out of directing that film’s sequel to make this. While Red was very surprising (in terms of it actually being good), the rest of his directing career has been average (with films like Flightplan and The Time Traveler’s Wife). He is working with composer Christophe Beck (The Watch), wonderful cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler (Sunshine), and production designer Alec Hammond (worked on Red for Schwentke). Cast: Ryan Reynolds stars opposite Jeff Bridges (who, based on the trailer, realizes that the movie is complete garbage and is thusly just going massively huge with his performance to amuse himself, while collecting a paycheck). Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, Marisa Miller, Robert Knepper, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, and Mike O’Malley feature in support. Expectations: R.I.P.D. basically looks as if Universal Pictures wanted to make their own Men in Black movie and just decided to blend it with Ghostbusters and True Grit (and less money) – poof: this movie! It looks terrible. However, maybe it will be terrible in all the best ways making it hilarious and entertaining (one can only hope). Trailer: Here.

(James Mangold) – Action/Adventure – Jul 26
Summary: Logan is tired of being immortal. On a voyage of soul-searching, he makes his way to Japan where he encounters pieces of his past that might unlock the key to him finally becoming human again. However, he also confronts an old enemy – one that he will need all his mutant abilities to defeat. Filmmakers: Yes, we are all still mourning the day that Darren Aronofsky decided to abandon this project in favor of Noah – his Wolverine surely would have been a great one. Now we are left with director James Mangold, who has done all right for himself has a Hollywood filmmaker – some good stuff: Cop Land, Walk the Line, and 3:10 to Yuma (though all the added action actually takes away from the film, see the original for reference); some bad stuff: Kate & Leopold, Identity, and Knight and Day. But, he has never made anything great. He is working with composer Marco Beltrami (scored 3:10 to Yuma as well), cinematographer Ross Emery (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), and production designer Francois Audouy (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Cast: Hugh Jackman stars with Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rila Fukushima, and Tao Okamoto in support. Expectations: The Wolverine looks much better than X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but that is not really saying much. From an action standpoint, the film does seem to have exciting and engaging set pieces, but what is really important is how Mangold handles the character moments – those will make or break this movie. The film promises to be a character driven action film (for once) – we will just have to wait and see if that is indeed the case. Fans of the X-Men franchise probably will be happy with this latest installment (even if we are still disappointed that Matthew Vaughn left Days of Future Past and Aronofsky left this, with lesser filmmakers replacing them both), as really we have never seen a brilliant X-Men movie stemming from this franchise (X-Men: First Class is by far the best and initially a reboot, separate from the other X-Men films, and yet Bryan Singer and Fox have decided to somehow pull into back into their original franchise thereby sullying it and its potential as its own franchise). Trailer: HereReview: Here.


(Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud) – Family Comedy – Jul 5
Summary: A new super villain is terrorizing the world, forcing the Anti-Villain League to call on an unlikely source for help: retired master villain Gru. Filmmakers: Directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud return for the sequel after the success of Despicable Me. They are working again with composers Heitor Pereira and Pharrell Williams and production designer Yarrow Cheney. Cast: Also returning are voice actors Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, and Ken Jeong. New to the voice cast are Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Steve Coogan, and Kristen Schaal. Expectations: Basically, if you liked Despicable Me chances are you will like Despicable Me 2. It looks like a fun family comedy with a strong group of comedic actors lending their voices. Trailer: Here.


(James Wan) – Horror/Thriller – Jul 19
Summary: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in to help a family remove a dark presence from their farmhouse. However, unlike their previous cases, the Warrens find themselves in over their heads, terrorized by terrifying spirits. Filmmakers: Horror specialist James Wan is responsible for Saw and Insidious (two of the most successful recent horror films). He is working again with composer Joseph Bishara, cinematographer John Leonetti, and production designer Julie Berghoff. Cast: Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star, while Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston co-star. Joey King (who looks like she has a bright future) and Mackenzie Foy feature in support. Expectations: The Conjuring looks very scary, even the trailer alone is more frightening than any other horror film I have seen in the last few years. Fans of creepy and scary movies should enjoy this. Plus, it has a good cast. Trailer: Here.

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