Faster (2010, directed by George Tilllman, Jr.)


A man known as the Driver (played by Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison, having served time for taking part in a bank robbery.  As soon as he gets his freedom, the Driver is jumping in a fast car, driving across Nevada and California, and killing everyone who he believes set him up and murdered his half-brother.  The Driver has even made out list of the people on whom he needs to get revenge.  Among those on the Driver’s list are a nightclub bouncer, a snuff film producer, an traveling evangelist, and one name that the Driver has not bothered to write down.

As the Driver conducts his killing spree, he is pursued by two other men who each have their own reason for wanting to find him.  The Cop (Billy Bob Thornton) is close to retirement and has a heroin addiction.  The Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a hit man who views murder as a personal challenge and who plans to marry his girlfriend (Maggie Grace) as soon as he takes care of the Driver.

Today, we take Dwayne Johnson’s superstardom for granted so it’s interesting to go back and watch a movie like Faster, which was made when Johnson was still best known as a wrestler and there were still doubts about whether or not he had the screen presence to carry an entire film on his own.  Though Johnson’s character is the main character and it’s his single-minded quest for revenge that propels the plot, the film spends as much time with the Cop and the Killer as it does with the Driver.  The Driver doesn’t get much dialogue.  Instead, the majority of the Driver’s scenes emphasize Johnson’s physical presence, casting him as the unstoppable hand of fate.  Johnson doesn’t really get to show what he can do as an actor until nearly halfway through the film, when the Driver has an emotional meeting with his mother.  Johnson acquits himself well in the scene but it’s still obvious that the film was made before people realized that Dwayne Johnson really could act.

Seen today, Faster is a relentless and exciting B-movie.  It’s fast-paced and, even if it doesn’t give Johnson a chance to say much, it’s smart enough to surround him with memorable character actors like Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Berenger, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Carla Gugino.  Even without a lot of dialogue, Dwayne Johnson is such an imposing figure and has so much screen presence that he dominates the film in a way that it’s hard to believe that there were ever any doubts about whether or not he could be a film star.  Faster holds up well, as both an action movie and star-making vehicle for Dwayne Johnson.

Suicide Squad Drops By the MTV Movie Awards


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Let’s get this out of the way and just say that Warner Bros. executives and major shareholders are none too pleased by the reception from both critics and the general audience when it comes to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not a very good start to their planned DC Extended Universe. While fanboys from both DC and Marvel have been going at it for weeks now, there’s at least some bright spot ahead for DC in their summer tentpole release Suicide Squad.

Even with rumors of extended reshoots to add more levity and fun to balance out public’s perception that the DC films are too dour and dark (grimdark even), Suicide Squad still remains one of the more anticipated films of the summer.

During this year’s MTV Movie Awards, DC and Warner Brothers released the newest trailer for what they’re hoping will sell the DCEU to the audience what Batman v. Superman could not and that’s a fun comic book film that understands dark and serious doesn’t have to mean not fun.

Suicide Squad is set for an August 5, 2016 release date.

Comic-Con’s First Look At The Suicide Squad


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“If anything goes wrong we blame them. We have built-in deniability.” — Amanda Waller

When will studios finally realize that showing any video reel, trailer or teaser at Comic-Con’s Hall H will inevitably be leaked if no official release has been made. It’s the nature of the internet and has become a sort of ritual each summer when Comic-Con rolls around. Some studios have been better with whetting the appetite of fans by giving those who can’t make Hall H with something to see. Others seem intent on trying to control what comes out of Hall H. It’s almost as if they’re saying “sucks to be you” if one couldn’t attend Comic-Con and get a seat in Hall H.

This year it seems Warner Brothers is that studio that’s trying to stamp out all the leaked footage shown at this year’s Hall H during their industry panel. It was a panel that was seen as the best thing about the Hall H gatherings. They did the right thing about releasing the latest trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice to the public and not just keeping it for the Hall H crowd. Yet, they whiffed big time by not doing the same for the Suicide Squad trailer (or first look as some call it).

Inevitably some in Hall H were kind enough to turn on their smartphones and video a rough and grainy look at the trailer which was then uploaded onto the internet. This was the first look a majority of comic-book and film fans got of Suicide Squad. Not a good look, but fans were playing this leaked footage nonstop. So, taking a page out of Marvel Studios PR playbook after the first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer leaked in a very non-HD version, Warner Bros. has finally surrendered and released an HD-version of the Suicide Squad trailer.

All is right with the world.

Two Late Reviews: The Legend of Hercules (dir by Renny Harlin) and Pompeii (dir by Paul W.S. Anderson)


As I mentioned in a previous review, I’ve only got a few months left before I’m going to have to make out my list of the 16 worst and the 26 best films of 2014.  With that in mind, I really need to get caught up on reviewing some of the films that might appear on those two lists.  For the most part, I try to review every single movie that I see but, occasionally, a movie or two will slip through the cracks.  And now, with Oscar season approaching but not quite arrived, seems like as good as time as any as to try to get caught up by reviewing two films that came out earlier this year: Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules and Paul W. S. Anderson’s Pompeii.

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The Legend of Hercules is a film that I first saw with my BFF Evelyn way back in January.  And while I meant to review it after I first saw it, I simply never got around to actually doing so.  Some of that is because, when Kellan Lutz first showed up on screen, Evelyn said, “Nice tits,” and I ended up laughing so hard that I nearly fell out of my seat.  This led to Evelyn spending the entire film trying to make me laugh again and, in between all of the whispering and the giggling, we undoubtedly missed out on a lot of the film.

However, I recently rewatched The Legend of Hercules on Cinemax and I was quickly reminded about the other reason that I hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it.  There’s really just not that much to say about The Legend of Hercules.  It’s just not a very good film but yet it’s not bad in a fun way either.  It’s just boring.  As played by Kellan Lutz, Hercules wanders through the ancient world and he does all the stuff that you would expect Hercules to do.  Actually, he does all the stuff that you would expect any character in a rip-off of 300 to do.  The film could have just as easily been called The Legend of Eammon, an Irishman in Greece.  

In fact, I’d really like to see a movie called The Legend of Eammon, an Irishman in Greece.  Get on it, someone.

According to Wikipedia, The Legend of Hercules had a budget of 70 million dollars, which makes it a bit odd that the film itself just looks cheap and generic.  At one point, Hercules fights a lion and the CGI is so bad that, for a few minutes, the movie looks like one of those senior projects that students occasionally upload to YouTube.  (I was half-expecting to see a comment apologizing for the “crappy special effects” flash across the screen.)  During the film’s many fight scenes, director Renny Harlin does that thing where every punch is shown in slow motion.  It gets annoying after the hundredth time.

A few words about Kellan Lutz.  I happen to like Kellan Lutz.  I think he’s been likable in other roles.  But, in The Legend of Hercules, he really did spend the entire movie looking like he was wishing that he could be anywhere else.  But can you blame him?

Pompeii-posterFor a far more enjoyable trip into the past, allow me to recommend a film that came out a few months after The Legend of Hercules, Pompeii. 

Now, before I review Pompeii, I should admit that, as you all know, I am a history nerd and, as you all might not know, I’ve always been fascinated by the Roman Empire.  The summer after I graduated high school, I took a trip to Italy and I actually walked through the streets of Pompeii.  My two main memories of Pompeii: while we were touring an ancient brothel, an Australian man lay down on one of the slabs.  My other memory is that it was a very windy day and I was wearing a skirt so I can legitimately say that not only have I visited Pompeii but I’ve flashed Pompeii as well.

Anyway, Pompeii the Movie tells the story of the final days of Pompeii the City.  A Celtic slave and gladiator named Milo (Kit Harrington) is sent to Pompeii where he, in quick order, meets and romances the noble Cassia (Emily Browning), establishes a friendly rivalry with fellow gladiator Atticus (the always intimidating Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), spots the evil Roman General (Kiefer Sutherland) who killed Milo’s mother, and then eventually has to run for his life as a cloud of ash and a river of lava crashes down on Pompeii.

Pompeii is a lot of fun.  Harrington and Browning have a lot of chemistry, all of the actors are obviously having a good time with their melodramatic dialogue, and Kiefer Sutherland was born to play an evil Roman.  As opposed to the Legend of Hercules, Pompeii looks good and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius is genuinely impressive.  Perhaps best of all, the film actually allows things to play out to their natural and logical conclusion.  For once, history is not changed just to force a happy ending on the viewers and Pompeii is all the better for it!

So, in conclusion: forget about The Legend of Hercules and give Pompeii a chance.  Actually, you’ve probably already forgotten about The Legend of Hercules so just try not to suddenly remember it.  But seriously, Pompeii is better than you might think.

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: Thor: The Dark World (Official)


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Iron Man 3 is already premiering in Europe and less than two weeks from premiering in North America. To help tie-over North American filmgoers until Iron Man 3 premieres on this side of the Atlantic Marvel Studios has released the first official trailer for the second film in Phase 2 of their Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Thor: The Dark World sees the Marvel action return to Asgard as Thor must now battle the return of an enemy older than the universe itself. Kenneth Branagh is out as director and in steps Alan Taylor of Game of Thrones as the filmmaker for this sequel. Most everyone returns for this second go-around in Asgard and the Nine Worlds with some new faces such as Chris Eccleston as Malekith the leader of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim.

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

Source: Joblo Movie Network

Trailer: The Thing (prequel) Red Band


One of the films which I’m looking forward to with some trepidation, but also some excitement is the prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing that was released in 1982. This prequel will show the initial unearthing of the “Thing” from the Antarctic ice by Norwegian researchers from the 1982 film (shown only as video recordings) and how it got loose and destroyed the Norwegian Camp.

Dutch filmmaker Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. was the one picked to direct the film with Mary Elizabeth Winstead (known by many as Ramona from Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) taking the lead role. Many fans of the Carpenter film feel this prequel should never have been made. As a hardcore of the Carpenter film I can’t say that I agree with the decision to create this prequel, but I also won’t say that I’m not looking forward to it.

There had always been noise to create a sequel to Carpenter’s classic and at times even the master himself was involved in trying to get it done. This prequel became the final stab at continuing the story first started by Carpenter and I’m interested in how this new cast and crew will tell a story only hinted at in the original film.

The Thing is set for an October 14, 2011 release date.

Trailer: Killer Elite (Theatrical)


Not to be confused with the 1975 Sam Peckinpah film about elite assassins, this 2011 action-thriller is purported to be based on the true life story that was the basis for the controversial novel, The Feather Men, by British author Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The film has quite the cast of testosterone with Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen, but also Dominic Purcell and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

This action film is the first full-length feature for the Northern-Irish filmmaker Gary McKendry whose short film, Everything in This Country Must, was nominated for Best Live-Action Short Film for the 77th Academy Awards. It’s going to be interesting how this first major production turns out. One thing for sure the trailer made some great use of the classic Scorpion heavy metal anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. That use alone made this trailer a success in making me want to see this film.

Trailer: The Thing “Prequel” (Official)


If there’s one film which genre fans have been up in arms about being remade it would be John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s one of those films which just continues to gain a loyal and zealous following despite being a major flop in the box-office when it was first released in 1982. One way producers were able to drop the remake idea was just to set a film as a prequel to the Horror Master’s classic sci-fi horror.

Using a screenplay by Eric Heisserer (which used elements from Ronald D. Moore’s own script for a possible prequel/sequel), 2011’s The Thing will be a prequel set on the ill-fated Norwegian Antarctic Research Station. Dutch-filmmaker Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr. will be doing the directing duties with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton and Ulrich Thomsen leading a cast half of which are Norwegian.

The film has been in production since March 2010 and was suppose to have a 2010 October release date. Problems either with the film’s post-production or just problems within Universal Pictures shelved the film for almost a year.

The Thing definitely looks to use Carpenter’s Steadicam and minimalist-style and the trailer shows scenes that seemed lifted right out of Carpenter’s own film. Maybe it was how the trailer was cut, but it also seemed to have more jump-scares than the ’82 classic. Some people will never accept this film even without seeing the final product. I, who consider Carpenter’s film one of the best films ever made in that era, will give this film a look-see before making a final judgement. I thought remaking Dawn of the Dead was going to be a disaster, but that film more than lived it to it’s predecessor and was very good on its own merits. I hope Matthijs van Heijningen, Jr.’s prequel also does just as well.

The Thing is set to have an October 14, 2011 release date.

Site Review’s of Carpenter’s The Thing: Arleigh’s and Leonard’s