Trailer: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Sneak Peek)


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“The lord of silver fountains,

The King of carven stone,

The King beneath the mountain

Shall come into his own!

And the bells shall ring in gladness

At the Mountain-king’s return,

But all shall fail in sadness

And the lake shall shine and burn.”

Today, over in NYC a special fan event for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was held which introduced a new one-sheet poster (look above), but also premiere a 3-minute sneak peek trailer to the second entry in The Hobbit Trilogy.

To say that this extended trailer is a vast improvement to all the previous teasers and official trailers for this second film in the prequel set would be an understatement. It still shows the film as being much more darker in tone than the book source it’s being adapted from, but it definitely shows a film that looks and feels much more put together than the first film (still just an assumption, but I have hopes I’ll be correct).

We see more of Luke Evans as Bard the Bowman who looks to fit in rather well instead of looking “too modern” as some feared he would look. I like how the trailer uses the poem, “The King Beneath the Mountains”, but in an altered form to make it sound like it was a prophecy. I know purist will probably rail and scream to anyone who will listen that this wasn’t how Tolkien wrote the poem. If they haven’t figured out by now that these film adaptations have been altering the written work to better fit the story then what have they been watching over the past decade.

I, for one, can’t wait for this middle film in the trilogy to finally come out and come out it shall on December 13, 2013. I saw the first film in every format and watch it in all format I shall for this one as well.

Review: Metallica: Through the Never (dir. by Nimrod Antal)


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“And the road becomes my bride”

Concerts have been a major part of a teenager’s transition into adulthood. Often have we begged our parents to get us tickets to our favorite band’s concert as they toured straight into our hometowns. We’d beg, cajole, promise whatever just to be able to attend that big show that we thought everyone we knew would be attending. Rock concerts have been a huge part of this coming-of-age journey. It’s the show that our parents dreaded (especially the metal shows) and the ones that pulled in the outcasts kids.

We would either outgrow this youthful event because it’s not something that interests us, but most often it’s just because we either do not have the time to attend rock concerts due to work and other adult responsibilities. While we would still go to a concert of our favorite band when time and money affords for it in the end it’s something that’s become more of a past-time to reminisce about.

Metallica: Through the Never is the latest concert film that could change all that. Filmed during Metallica’s latest world tour, the film was directed by Nimrod Antal (Armored, Predators) and turns what could’ve been just your typical concert film into a surreal mixture of excellent concert footage and an apocalyptic narrative involving one of the band’s roadies. The latter felt like an extended music video and the lack of dialogue by the film’s narrative lead in Dane DeHaan does give this part of the film it’s surreal vibe. This part of the film could easily come off as one of Metallica’s music videos. It has mayhem involving nameless rioters battling an equal number of police right up to a nameless, gas-masked horseman who ends up paying particular attention to our beleaguered roadie.

Yet, while this apocalyptic-like narrative makes for a nice sideshow the main reason to see Metallica: Through the Never is the concert footage. While Antal does a good job with the story going outside the concert it’s inside where he shines. Making use of over 20 cameras on cranes, dollies and handhelds, Antal is able to make the concert footage feel like one was actually at the show. He uses every trick in the book from close-ups of each band member to sweeping crane shots that gives a bird’s-eye view of the concert.

It’s this part of the film that may just be one way for those of us who grew up going to concerts but have lost the time to return to such events to finally experience them again. It helps that the 3D used helps give the feel of not just being there but an enhanced experience that one may not find while actually attending the show live. But it doesn’t end in just the visuals.

A concert film can only go so far on how it looks. In the end, if the film doesn’t do a great job capturing the audio of the event then why even bother watching. Metallica: Through the Never doesn’t skimp on the audio assault. It is just exactly what I mean when I say audio assault. The audio in this film brought me back to attending past metal shows from my youth in near-perfect volume and clarity.

Metallica: Through the Never needs to be experienced in as big a screen as possible and if one’s able to see it on IMAX then I recommend they do so, but if that’s not possible then I still say go out and see this unique take on the ubiquitous concert film. It might not be the same as attending a Metallica concert, but it’s the next best thing to actually attending one.

Trailer: Thor: The Dark World (Official)


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The second film of Marvel’s Phase 2 for it’s Cinematic Universe comes in the form of Thor: The Dark World. I’m sure the title should give as to which of the Avengers character is front and center for this Phase 2 film.

Above is the official theatrical poster for the film which has a strong fantasy, Drew Struzan feel to it. That’s more than appropriate since Thor bridges the gap between the more grounded superheroics of Midgard’s (that’s Earth to the layman) heroes (Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Iron Man) and the more fantasy and scifi denizens of Asgard like Thor and the upcoming film, Guardians of the Galaxy.

While this latest trailer released by Marvel is not the footage that was shown to Hall H attendees during Marvel’s panel at this year’s Comic-Con, it still manages to show some new footage in addition to one’s already shown at the initial teaser earlier. For one, it has more Loki (which is smart of Marvel since Loki has become this Cinematic Universe’s resident bad boy everyone seems to love or hate to love.) and it also shows some hints at the darker, grittier look that Alan Taylor looks to bring from his time as director of episodes of Game of Thrones for HBO.

Natalie Portman’s character, Jane Foster still seems to come off as not belonging to this ensemble, but there’s still chance that the finished product will flesh her out and her relationship with Thor to everyone’s satisfaction.

Thor: The Dark World is set for a November 8, 2013 release date.

Trailer: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Teaser)


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Dreamworks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon was one of those films for 2010 that caught me completely off-guard. I had dismissed it as another Dreamworks attempt to try and take the crown from Pixar. So, it was quite a surprise when I finally saw it and realized that Dreamworks had out-Pixared Pixar with this latest offering.

The film did great in the box-office and made the names Hiccup and Toothless names to remember fondly. So, it was a given that a sequel was going to be made and now it is 2013 and we finally have the first teaser trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 which will splash across all big-screen theaters around 2014.

To say that this teaser trailer evoked all the fun of the original would be an understatement. I would say that this simple teaser showing Toothless just flying around with Hiccup gave a better sense of the joy of flying than this year’s Man of Steel.

Trailer: Space Pirate Captain Harlock


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I first saw a clip of this trailer at Anime Expo 2010. It was a just a pilot trailer that TOEI Animation released earlier that year at Kawaii-Kon to show people that they were indeed producing a 3D CG anime film of the classic Leiji Matsumoto space opera manga and anime of the late 70’s. Space Pirate Captain Harlock, in addition to Space Battleship Yamato, were the Japanese answer to George Lucas’ Star Wars (though some would say that these two anime series were original on their own). Still, they were huge hits and very popular both inside and outside Japan. Scores of kids who grew up during the 80’s saw their first major introduction to anime from these two anime.

It’s been awhile since there’s been any new Captain Harlock anime releases. With CG technology having improved exponentially over the years it looks like TOEI Animation saw it high time to release a new Captain Harlock anime. It’s been three years since the release of the pilot trailer over at Kawaii-Kon 2010, but it looks like the wait for the Space Pirate Captain Harlock movie is coming close to an end.

The 3D CG anime film will see a Japanese release sometime in the Fall of 2013.

Here’s an English-narrated trailer that Toei released for the international crowd. I prefer the original Japanese above even if I could only understand a tenth of what was being said.

Trailer: Gravity (Official Teaser)


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It’s been almost 7 years since Alfonso Cuarón had directed a film. His last one, Children of Men, was such an underappreciated piece of scifi filmmaking. Now, after all these years, he returns to the scifi genre for his latest film due out later this fall.

Gravity stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as a pair of astronauts who have become stranded in space after their space shuttle explodes and takes out the space station they’ve been sent to. The film literally is about just the characters Clooney and Bullock plays. It’s quite the sparse cast, but should also make for an interesting drama about two individual who must find a way to save themselves after being stranded in space with no way to contact Earth.

The film will be filmed fully digital with the 3D coming by way of post-production conversion. Even from the sequences put in the teaser it gives hints at 3D that looks to wow and immerse rather than annoy.

Gravity is set for an October 4, 2013 release date.

Trailer: World War Z (2nd Official)


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We see the release of a new trailer for this summer’s epic zombie film based on the equally epic novel of the same name by Max Brooks.

World War Z is already the most expensive zombie film ever made with a budget rumored to be between 125-200 million dollars. Some of this has been due to the delays in filming and most of it seems to stem from a massive rewrite of the third act. Damon Lindelof was first hired to rewrite but due to prior commitments the job went to Drew Goddard. Such a rewrite also meant reshoots had to be done which took another seven weeks of shooting.

All in all, World War Z is one troubled film before it even gets to the general public.

Yet, it is also one of the more anticipated films for this summer. Some from fans of the genre who just can’t get enough of zombie films. Some from people wanting to see just what sort of zombie film ends up with a budget around 200 million dollars. From the trailer we’ve seen some of that money seem to have gone on some massive special effects sequences which includes swarming zombies of the Rage-infected kind. Then again we don’t really see the zombies close-up which tend to make them look like swarming ants from afar. Maybe the look of the zombies themselves have been saved for the release of the film.

This latest trailer actually gives a bit more of the plot of the film which puts Brad Pitt’s UN employee character to travel the world in search for the cause of the worldwide zombie pandemic. The speed by which things happen seems to have compressed all the events in the novel into a film of two hours. This, I’m sure will be a major contention with fans of the novel, but it looks like a decision by filmmaker to try and create a single narrative from a novel that was mostly single-hand accounts of the zombie war from survivors who have no connection with each other whatsoever.

We’ll find out in just under 3 months if this film will be a major flop or succeed despite all the stumbling blocks and problems throughout its production.

World War Z is set for a June 21, 2013 release date.

Quick Review: Jack the Giant Slayer (dir. by Bryan Singer)


url-1Wow, looking at Jack the Giant Slayer, it’s easy to tell where that near $200 million went. Note that this review maybe just a little spoilerish, but not too much if you’ve already watched the trailers for the film.

I walked into Jack the Giant Slayer with a smile on my face. It started off doing something I really love in movies, playing the score for the film as the production companies were announced and going so far as to play with the Bad Hat Harry logo, replacing the Usual Suspects with a set of giants. That had me feeling good, and reminded me of Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted. Overall, it’s a Brain in your Lap kind of film. As long as you give it too much thought, you’ll be okay. I don’t see myself running back to see it, but I’d probably watch it again if it were on tv.

Everyone knows the story of Jack, who traded in his horse for a bunch of beans. They grew into a giant stalk and he climbed up it to find giants. Director Bryan Singer (X-Men 1 & 2, Superman Returns) reunites with his The Usual Suspects writer Chris McQuarrie, writer/director David Dobkin (Fred Claus & The Change Up), and Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After) to expand the tale. This version of the story tells of a time where after the beanstalk grew, giants came down from a land far above and waged war with mankind. The great king of the realm was able to stop the war by way of black magic, having a crown forged from the heart of a giant that grants the wearer control over the entire giant army. After banishing the army, he had the stalk cut down and there was peace in the land.

That strange tickle in the back of your mind, if you’re experiencing it, is you recalling the backstory to Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. It’s almost the same thing. Jack even gives a similar set of visuals to tell the tale, which was kind of nice.

So, jump to many years later, and you have Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a poor farmers boy who in trying to sell his horse is given a set of magic beans. The stalk grows, kidnapping the land’s princess in the process (Eleanor Tomlinson) and the King (Ian McShane) sends his guard up it to retrieve his daughter.

What Jack the Giant Slayer does well is that it tries to shift the story around as it moves. For me, I found that when I expected one thing to occur, the movie would twist and give an angle that I hadn’t expected. I like that it at least tried to do that. Mind you, I went to into the film completely blind, having never seen any of the trailers or commercials. If you haven’t seen anything about this film, don’t look at any of the trailers, you’ll only hurt yourself.

Casting wise, this movie is like watching a set of friends get together. Although Hoult is the hero in this story and plays him well, his screen time feels like it’s stolen from him by Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest), who in particular seems to be the go to bad guy these days as the main general of the giants. Ian McShane, who plays the King, is always worth watching, but he suffers from the same issues as Eleanor Tomlinson’s in her role as Isabel. They aren’t given a while lot to do overall. McGregor, on the other hand seems like he’s in his element here as the Captain of the Guard.

Visually, Jack the Giant Slayer is a treat. The differences in size between the giants and mortals are similar to the Ents in the Lord of the Rings films, and some of their appearances (and habits) are down right nasty. The action sequences in the film, and there aren’t many, are good but not exactly extravagant. The movie goes out of its way to try to build a world for the story, and I felt it worked out okay, especially during the 2nd half of the movie. The effects are nice. From a 3D point of view, the sense of distance is there particularly during the climbing sequences, but it’s not required that you see this in 3D, despite that there are objects moved close to the camera.

So, with all this praise, is there anything that’s wrong with Jack the Giant Slayer? Yeah, actually and what’s wrong only has just come to mind while writing this part of the review. Two problems:

1.) The trailer gives you absolutely everything you need to know. I was going to avoid mentioning what problem #2 was, but the trailers already show that at some point there’s a big battle between the giants and mortals. That being said, the rest of the trailer gives away so much to what the film was about that you really don’t need to see it. The action sequences you’re viewing there, that’s the story.

2.) This second one is just a tactical error.  The 2nd Half of the movie, while pretty on the visuals, throws logic completely out of the window, with a scenario that’s pretty one dimensional in design. The actual battle tries to be like the Battle of Helm’s Deep in the Lord of the Rings movies. Humans defending the land, giants attacking it. It worked for the Battle of Helm’s Deep because that a city in a wall. The battle could only come from one direction. However, the city in Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t like that. I was expecting giants to swim around it, or climb over the walls (especially after the damage that was made), but nope. Heck, if undead hordes can pull it off in World War Z, clambering over each other to get over a wall, I can’t imagine creatures more than 5 times the size of humans not being able to do the same. I felt it lacked a lot of imagination there and they could have come up with something just a little more dangerous in that battle sequence.

So, Jack the Giant Slayer was okay. It won’t break any kind of records or make too many waves, but cast saves it from becoming worse than what it could be.

Trailer: Oz the Great and Powerful (Super Bowl Exclusive)


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Oz the Great and Powerful is the first film by Sam Raimi since he was removed as director of the Spider-Man franchise. While he tried to go back to his horror roots with the underappreciated Drag Me to Hell he’s back to doing big-budget event films.

The film looks to tell the story of the Great Wizard of Oz prior to Dorothy’s arrival in the original film. James Franco takes on the title role with Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz all taking on the roles of the three witches of Oz. The film’s plot looks to be a sort of hero’s journey as Oscar Diggs must discover his true self once he lands in the otherworldly realm of Oz.

Could this film be a return to fantasy form for Sam Raimi or will it be a film thats visually stunning but spiritually empty like Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland?

Only time will tell and while Raimi always delivers a visual treat and an entertaining film they sometimes don’t resonate with the general audience.

Oz the Great and Powerful is set for a March 8, 2013 release date.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (dir. by Marc Webb)


It was in the summer of 2002 that the superhero film genre finally entered it’s Golden Age (or Silver Age for some). X-Men had come out two years before to positive acclaim and, most importantly, in the box-office. It wasn’t until Sam Raimi released the first in what would be his trilogy in the Spider-Man film franchise that superhero comic book films became the power in Hollywood it remains to this day. The first film from Raimi easily captured the pulp and campy sensibilities of the source material and for an origin story film it was done quite well in that it introduced the titular character and what made him tick. In 2004, Raimi and company released what many consider the best comic book film with Spider-Man 2. The film brought a level of Greek tragedy to the fun of the first film and it definitely brought one of the best realized comic book villains on film with Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus. Then the franchise hit a major bump in 2007 with Raimi third entry in the franchise with the bloated Spider-Man 3.

Sony Pictures, who owned the film rights to the Spider-Man franchise, were so quick to churn out a fourth film, but in doing so lost the filmmaker and cast that made the trilogy happen. In the studios’ thinking they needed to get a fourth film up and running in order to keep the rights to the film from reverting back to Marvel and Disney. So, out goes Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and in comes Marc Webb, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Instead of getting Spider-Man 4 we get The Amazing Spider-Man which doesn’t continue what Raimi had established with the first three films, but reboots the franchise all the way to the beginning.

Marc Webb takes the screenplay worked on by a trio of screenwriters (James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves) and reboots the origin story of Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man. We find Peter Parker back in high school as a student and still getting bullied by Flash Thompson while remaining awkward around girls (especially one Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone). yet, before we even get to this part of the film we get an introductory coda where we find a preadolescent Peter Parker playing hide and seek with his scientist father. These early scenes show hints that the enhanced spider thatwill bite and give eter his abilities may have had his father’s research and work written all over it.

This intro influences much of the storyline and leaves a huge impact on the character of Peter Parker which the previous three films never explored. The rest of the film has Peter investigating the circumstances of his parent’s disappearance and his adjustment to having been given the superhuman abilities by the spider that his father may or may not have been responsible in breeding.

First off, the film does a good job in re-establishing Peter Parker as a high school student. The original film spent some time in this part of Peter Parker’s life but never truly explored it. We see Peter not just the class genius, but also one who also shows an affinity for photography (something that the original trilogy never really explained other than he needed the job and money). There’s also some added layers to the character as this version of Peter Parker is more than willing to stand up to the bullies picking on the weaker students other than himself. It’s a huge departure from the meek and geeky Peter Parker of the past. We still get a geeky and smart Peter, but one who is also a sort of a well-intentioned slacker. We also get a proper introduction for Gwen Stacy (something the third film criminally mishandled)

The film introduces once again many of the characters the first film in the series had already done. From Uncle Ben (played by Martin Sheen this time around) and Aunt May (Sally Field) right up to the robber who runs into Uncle Ben and changes Peter Parker’s outlook on his role as a hero forever. Again these were character that had already been explored by the first three films and they’re scenes that had an air of familiarity to them though Sheen performance as Uncle Ben added more layers to the character who becomes Peter Parker’s moral center.

Another thing that the film did a good job with was the design of the film. It has been ten years since the first film and the technology in CGI-effects has leapfrogged exponentially since. The look of the OsCorp Tower was a beautiful piece of architectural design. The building loomed over New York City like something dark with a hint of malice. There were changes to the suit Peter wears that really harkens back to the McFarlane years of the Spider-Man comics. Even the return of the web-shooters was a nice surprise that I had some reservations when first hearing about it.

A third good thing about the film was the extended montage when Peter Parker realizes he has gained new abilities and begins to test them out. It’s familiar territory from the first film, but Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield adds a new level of youthful exuberance to the proceedings. Even the use of parkour by Peter Parker to show his growing abilities didn’t come off as silly. Garfield’s performance as Peter Parker in this montage was pretty great. One could believe at how much fun he was having at discovering each new level of abilities. Even some of the growing pains he goes through after getting bit were some of the more hilarious moments in the film that ultimately lacked much of it in the end.

Which brings us to what made this entertaining film end up becoming a failure in the end.

I admit that the film entertained me in the end, but there were things aboutThe Amazing Spider-Manwhich nagged at me throughout and afterwards. While the film was entertaining the story self and most of the characters were inconsistently written. Once one looked past the action and some of the witty dialogue in the beginning the film’s many plot-holes and head-scratching moments become too glaring to ignore.

The character of Peter Parker does get some new layers of characterization in the beginning, but as the film played out the more the Peter Parker of this film began to stray away from not just what Raimi had created and guided through the first three films but also most of the character’s decade’s long growth in the comics. Yes, we see Peter Parker as the science-genius and even moreso than the one portrayed by Tobey Maguire, but we also don’t get the awkward teen who grows into his abilities, but most importantly, one who learns through tragedy that he has a responsibility to the people around him to protect them even if it means sacrificing his wants and dreams to do so. We don’t just see Peter Parker saving people, but also one who seemed to relish beating up and abusing those who used to do the same to him and/or others. Spider-Man in this film acts more like a bully than a reluctant hero by film’s end. Even the events that should’ve taught him the lessons of self-sacrifice and heeding the needs of the many fail to make much of an impact on the teen superhero. All one has to look at as the perfect example of this darker and more selfish turn to the character was Peter’s whisper to Gwen about promises not being kept being the best ones.

Other characters get inconsistencies in how they’re written. The other big one being Dr. Curt Connors who begins the film as a scientist so intent of not just curing his disability but also helping the world. It’s a character similar in tone to Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus, yet where that villain remained a tragic one throughout the film and we could see the path which led him to become a villain with Dr. Connors in this fourth film there’s such a huge turnabout in the character’s motivations that whatever sympathy we may have had for Connors was squandered.

Not every character fails to impress. Martin Sheen and Denis Leary as Uncle Ben and Capt. Stacy respectively were fully realized characters who become Peter Parker’s moral centers and voice of reason. In fact, both Sheen and Leary helped anchor the scenes they appeared in and thus made their characters’ fate have the sort of emotional impact that a growing hero needs to move from being reluctant to accepting of his lot in life. It’s a shame that the writers failed to capitalize on the performances of these two character actors to help make Peter Parker more a hero and less a teenager more in love with what he can do instead of realizing that he has more to offer those who are weakest.

This is not to say that the performances by the cast was bad. From Garfield and Stone right up to Ifans, Sheen, Leary and Field, the cast did a great job with an uneven and inconsistent script that was too full of themes and ideas but no focus on any one of them. It’s a wasted opportunity to build on what the previous cast of the three films had created. Even the third film which many would agree as being a huge, bloated mess actually had a singular focus. It was a story that tried to explore Peter Parker’s darker side andhow his life as a superhero negatively impacts everyone around him he cares for. With this Marc Webb production we get a Peter Parker who at times was compassionate when it came to others being bullied and then we get one who relished on doing the same to those he now sees deserving of payback. Even Parker’s hunt for his uncle’s killer which the film spent a considerable time following just got dropped without any sort of resolution. One of the most significant events in Peter’s life gets dumped to the wayside to concentrate on finally pitting Spider-Man against the film’s Lizard.

Did The Amazing Spider-Man need to have gotten made? The answer to that would be a yes.

Did Marc Webb, the three writers in Vanderbilt, Sargent and Kloves and the new cast get the reboot correctly? I would say no.

This was a film that spent too much time reintroducing characters both comic book and film fans already knew intimately. The storyline itself shared many similarities to the second film in the series yet none of the cohesiveness which made that first sequel such an instant classic the moment it premiered in 2004. The Amazing Spider-Man spent so much time trying to come off as a grittier and edgier version of the character (I call this the Christopher Nolan-effect) that what should’ve been coming off as a fun-loving, albeit self-sacrificing hero, came off as a dick once he finally got the full costume on. The people in charge of this reboot sacrificed what was fun about the film franchise for realism that the character and his universe were never steeped in to begin with.

Gritty, edgy and realism may work for Nolan’s take on the Batman film franchise, but for Spidey it fails and just turns what could’ve been a fresh new take on the franchise into another entertaining, but ultimately forgettable entry in the series. Maybe it’s time Sony just realize that it’s just pushing this franchise downhill and let the rights revert back to Marvel who seem to have found a balance between pulpy camp and serious realism.