Poll: What Film Are You Most Looking Forward To Seeing In July?


According to last month’s poll, the two films that you are most looking forward to seeing in June are Prometheus and G.I. Joe Retaliation.  (Or, at least, you were until they decided to hold back G.I. Joe until 2013.)

How about July?  I was actually surprised to see how few films were scheduled to be released in July but it makes sense.  Everyone seems to have surrendered to the idea that July’s going to be dominated by the Amazing Spiderman and especially The Dark Knight Returns.

So, is that true or is there another film coming out in July that you’re looking forward to seeing even more so than those two heavily hyped comic boom adaptions?

Vote in the poll below and let us know!

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Trailer: The Bourne Legacy


When Paul Greengrass completed The Bourne Ultimatum it looked like a perfect ending to the Bourne Series. Despite an ending that could be seen as a way to leave the door open to continue the series most people were content with the series ending as trilogy. That sort of thinking never enters the mind of studio executives who saw the success of this particular trilogy as still bankable even if it meant the filmmaker (Greengrass) and the series’ lead star (Matt Damon) weren’t going to participate.

What we ended up getting was a new lead in Jeremy Renner as another Treadstone-like agent, but one who didn’t have all the glitches that Jason Bourne had. Let’s just say that Renner’s character Aaron Cross would be Jason Bourne 2.0. I wasn’t convinced that a Bourne film minus Greengrass and Damon would work, but after seeing this latest official trailer from Universal Pictures I’m quite excited about this latest film.

With the success of The Avengers and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol where Renner had substantial roles in it looks like this latest film in the series could get a nice uptick in the amount of interest it gets from the public. The sort of action Renner’s character goes through in this film one could easily call this Hawkeye: The Early Years. All his character would need would be a nice hi-tech bow.

The Bourne Legacy is set for an August 17, 2012 release date.

AMV of the Day: Sexy and I Know It (NSFW)


To say that 2010’s Highschool of the Dead was the hit anime series for that season would be an understatement. It’s a series that about a bunch of Japanese highschool students trying to survive the sudden onset of the zombie apocalypse. You’d think that would be enough to pull in the audience, but no the Japanese anime studios needed to really hook the audience and they did so by turning it into an ecchi-fest that’s just a couple steps lower from turning into hentai.

What better way to mark the latest “AMV of the Day” that makes perfect use of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” song than using an anime that’s got an overabundance of sexy in your face. There’s nothing else to say other than just sit back and enjoy the finished work of Mystic Shaek.

Anime: Highschool of the Dead

Song: “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO

Creator: Mystic Shaek

Past AMVs of the Day

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters – “Dark Shadows”


First off, a qualification : if you’re a lifelong (or thereabouts) fan of Dan Curtis’ classic Dark Shadows TV series, I can understand why you would hate Tim Burton’s new film of the same name. It’s many things, but old-school Dark Shadows isn’t one of them. Feel free, with my full blessing (whatever that’s worth), to absolutely despise this flick right down to a molecular level if you fit into this category of viewer. But if you don’t —

— then seriously, where is all this vitriol coming from? I’m not saying it’s a tremendous or important movie by any means, but it’s brainless, entertaining, heavy-on-the-camp fun that’s pretty solidly constructed Burton-by-the-numbers.

And maybe that’s the problem. Tim Burton’s work has, indeed, become almost relentlessly formulaic by this point : de-fang horror/gothic/50s-era sci-fi concepts to make them palatable to mainstream family audiences, concentrate heavily on the visuals, strenuously avoid even the hint of any political subtext, add in a dash of blatantly-obvious-but-ultimately-respectful-to-its-source self-satire, have your admittedly talented cast skew their performances toward the knowingly pantomime, and voila! You’ve got yourself morbidity for the masses.

Apparently this is now some sort of crime. Granted, Dark Shadows is no Ed Wood or Big Fish, but it doesn’t wallow in Burtonian excess the way that the more successful (as far as the box office goes) Charlie And The Chocolate Factory or the mega-successful Alice In Wonderland did. But judging by the reaction out there on Twitter and other “social media” sites, you’d think this was somehow the nadir or Burton’s career (how quickly we seem to forget Mars Attacks!) — in fact, it seems to be generating as much overly-malignant hatred as The Avengers is generating overly-effusive praise. But hell, at least this movie is recognizably the work of a singular creative vision (albeit not one operating at its peak) rather than pure CGI assembly-line product that could have been directed by any of dozens of different self-styled “action auteurs” (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — if The Avengers had been helmed by Jon Favreau, it would essentially be no different) who are ultimately as interchangeable as the material they produce.

The cast is the usual mix of Burton way-more-than-regulars (Johnny Depp in the title role of Barnabas Collins, Helena Bonham Carter as family doctor/lush Julia Hoffman, Christopher Lee in a terrific cameo — as opposed to his pointless quick turn in The Wicker Tree — as an “old man of the sea”-type), talented, well-cast veterans (Michelle Pfeiffer as tired family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Jackie Earle Haley as the hapless Willie Loomis) and up-and-coming talents (Eva Green as Barnabas’ principal object of love/hate, Angelique Bouchard, Bella Heathcote as his principal object of love only, Victoria Winters, Jonny Lee Miller as weak-willed family weasel  Roger Collins, Chloe Grace Moretz  doing her teen-with-a-‘tude thing as Carolyn Soddard), and while none are giving what could in any way be called inspired turns, all are solid and dependable.

As is the story, an uncomplicated affair about Barnabas emerging from the grave, vamped to the hilt, in the early 70s to help his fallen-on-hard-times clan rebuild their fishing and canning empire in the face of rival competition that’s equally supernatural in origin, with a little bit of reincarnation-themed romance thrown in for good measure. It’s hardly demanding stuff, of course, but it’s perfectly suited to function as precisely what it is — a distracted afternoon’s or evening’s summer lightweight entertainment. Joss Whedon does this with a team of super-heroes and we call him a genius. Tim Burton does it with harmless comic vampires and we say he’s jumped the shark. Go figure.

All of which goes to show nothing so much as the herd mentality so prevalent amongst today’s film-buff “community.” In truth, both Dark Shadows and The Avengers are cut from remarkably similar cloth — throwaway big-budget diversionary fare that demands nothing of its audience and gives you pretty much exactly what you figure to be in for when you buy your ticket. One is being praised for it because, hey, other people immediately started talking about how good it is, and one is reviled because, hey, other people immediately started talking about how stupid it was. But you know what? At least Dark Shadows has no pretense of being anything other than precisely what it is, and no army of zombies (or vampires) doing its studios’ dirty work for it and publicizing it like mad for free.

I freely admit that might be a big reason why I actually enjoyed this a little more than Marvel’s billion-dollar-bonanza, and I also freely admit that actions taking place off-screen should , by all rights, play absolutely no part in how I react to what’s taking place on-screen. But it’s not a perfect world. And Dark Shadows is far from a perfect film. But I ended up liking it it a lot more than I was honestly expecting to — and if you go into it with an open mind, who knows? Maybe you will, too.

 

Trailer: Les Misérables (Teaser)


The moment I saw the news feed that one of my most anticipated films of 2012 finally has an official teaser trailer out I knew that my expectations would only grow with each viewing.

Tom Hooper doesn’t go for small in following up his Academy Award-winning directing work in The King’s Speech by adapting the hugely popular and beloved stage musical Les Misérables which in itself was adapted from the classic Victor Hugo novel of the same name. The cast stars Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in the roles of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert. Anne Hathaway comes away with the role of the tragic Fantine with Amanda Seyfried taking on the role of Fantine’s grown-up daughter Cosette. In what could be a star-making turn, Samantha Barks gets the coveted role of Eponine which was the same role she played as part of the musical’s 25th Anniversary Concert.

Details about this film musical has been scarce, but it’s already been reported that every actor in the cast does their own singing and done so live in front of the camera. This stylistic choice may keep some of the songs from reaching epic levels, but should do well in better conveying the emotional impact for some of the more personal character songs in the musical. In fact, the song that Anne Hathaway sings in the trailer, “I Dreamed A Dream”, is one of those character songs that seem to sound much better with it being less is more style.

Les Misérables is set for a December 14, 2012 release date.

What Lisa Watched This Morning: One For The Money (dir. by Julie Anne Robinson)


This morning, as it stormed outside, I watched One For The Money, the Katherine Heigl film that quickly came and went earlier this year.

Why Was I Watching It?

 How did I end up watching One For The Money this morning?  I blame the toadsuckers out there who insist on mowing their lawns every chance they get.  By constantly mowing their lawns, these people are releasing particles of grass into the air where they turn into pollen and they make life difficult for sweet, innocent girls like me who happen to have fairly severe asthma.  Because of everyone mowing their lawns, my asthma started to act up last night and I ended up calling in to work today.

So, there I was: curled up on the couch, clutching my inhaler and listening to the thunder rumbling and the rain falling outside.  Our cat Doc walked over to the couch and stared up at me for a few minutes before going, “Meh.”  I took that to mean: “Let’s watch a movie On Demand.”  So, I checked to see what was available and, after I realized that I had no interest in Red Tails, I decided to go with One For The Money.

What’s It About?

So, Stephanie Plum (Katherine Hiegl) lives in New Jersey and has no job but she does have a kinda creepy cousin named Vinny (Patrick Fischler, who looks like he would be a creepy cousin named Vinny) who owns a place called Vinny’s Bail Bonds.  Stephanie reminds Vinny of a time that he attempted to get all incestous-like with her so Vinny hires her as a bail enforcement agent (otherwise known as a bounty hunter).  Stephanie’s first assignment is to catch Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara), a former cop who is wanted for murder.  Stephanie is happy to accept this assignment because, back in high school, she lost her virginity to Joe and then attempted to run him over with her car after he dumped her.

However, it quickly turns out that 1) Joe isn’t that easy to catch and 2) he might be innocent.  In between getting bounty hunting lessons from Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) and catching other assorted bail jumpers, Stephanie tries to help Morelli prove his innocence and also finds herself falling in love with him, despite the fact that he’s kind of a jerk.

What Worked?

This film has gotten some of the worst reviews I’ve ever seen and not just from the usual gang of overpaid film critics who always hate on films starring Katherine Heigl.  Even the reviews left on the imdb are amazingly negative, a lot of them being left by fans of the series of books that this film is based on.  I have to admit that I haven’t read any of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels and maybe that’s why I didn’t think this film was that bad.

This film was essentially a big budget Lifetime film and it was at its best when it accepted that fact.  It had a few cute moments and there’s a moment, where the inexperienced Stephanie Plum goes, “Oh, I forgot I had a gun!” that made me laugh out loud because I know that’s exactly the sort of thing that I’d end up saying if I ever took up bounty hunting for a living.  While I agree with those who have said that Heigl was miscast as Stephanie, I could still relate enough to the character that the film (for the most part) managed to hold my attention.

Jason O’Mara and Daniel Sunjata are both easy on the eyes.  Stephanie’s not the only one to have fantasies about being handcuffed by Jason O’Mara while naked.

A lot of the negative comments that I’ve read about this film centered on just how bad Heigl’s New Jersey accent was.  As a Texan who speaks with a twang in her voice, all I can say to that is “Welcome to my world, bitches.”  If nothing else, maybe this film will let Yankees know how it feels to have their accent butchered by someone who grew up in Connecticut.

What Did Not Work?

 Just because the film wasn’t that bad doesn’t mean that it was all that good.  It’s a fun film to watch when you’re sick and it’s raining outside because it’s so lightweight and insubstantial that it doesn’t require you to think about what’s happening on-screen or really to even pay that much attention.  If you do pay attention, you’ll quickly realize that Heigl (who I, as opposed to lot of people, usually like) isn’t believable as a member of the working class, the film’s story is predictable, and that John Leguizamo plays essentially the same annoying character that John Leguizamo always plays in films like this.

I’m also assuming that Heigl’s voice-over narration was an attempt to capture Evanovich’s authorial voice on-screen but, honestly, it just came across as being heavy-handed and unnecessary.

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

There were a few.  To be honest, I get the feeling that if I ever became a bounty hunter, I would probably be kind of a klutzy one like Stephanie Plum is in this film.  Add to that, Stephanie has to spend a lot of time listening to people complain about her driving and I can certainly relate to that.  Seriously, you get a few tickets for running a red light and then you jump a few medians and suddenly, everyone’s making you out to be some sort of menace.

Lessons Learned:

What might be annoying on the big screen is perfectly acceptable when you’re curled up on the couch and watching TV.