UPCOMING HOME VIDEO RELEASES (PT. 2)
The June releases are being a fucking pill. Here we are in late August, and not even half of June’s offerings have solidified their home video release dates. Damn you, Hunger Games. You had to pick the 5 month release window and now you scared all the other movies off. I hope you’re proud.
Movies in June that probably won’t make too big of a splash on video (or aren’t worth going in to too much detail): That’s My Boy is October 16, Madagascar 3 is also October 16, Rock of Ages is October 9, Madea’s Witness Protection is October 23.
Because July has roughly only two or three huge releases worth focusing on, Part 3 will include Ted and Magic Mike since there is zilch info concerning them at this point.
One bad casting decision can totally make a movie implode upon itself. Luckily, the casting of Kristen Stewart didn’t completely sink Snow White and the Huntsman, since it has some genuinely enjoyable things going on.
This movie ultimately succeeds due to its strong visual style and scenery-chewing performance by Charlize Theron. And, to my surprise, K-Stew is actually tolerable for most of the movie. Only when she has to give the corny, faux-inspirational speech does my acceptance sputter.
The big thing with this release is that it is an extended edition. Whether that means that an entire subplot is put back in, the rating has changed, or it’s approximately 52 seconds longer like most extended editions is still unclear. However I will be looking at the behind the scenes special features to catch a glimpse of the “special work relationship” between Stewart and the director. And/or how hard the producers try to sidestep that aspect.
SPECIAL FEATURES: +
DIGITAL COPY: +
No doubt the title featured here that the fewest people have seen, the reason I included this one is because it has great potential to find new life on video.
Yes, you wondered about it but likely didn’t shell out any money to go see it in theaters. But it’s probably not because you didn’t know what you were getting. There isn’t much ambiguity to a movie like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, although it does play things much more seriously than you may expect. Which, I found, made it more hilarious. Truthfully, this movie appeals to a very specific audience that can’t be properly categorized, but those that find they enjoy it will likely help spread the word on it and, with time, may conceivably help it reach cult classic status.
MOVIE: FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF
SPECIAL FEATURES: ?
DIGITAL COPY: +
MOONRISE KINGDOM REVIEW
To allow you, my readers of any given article, in on my psyche for a brief moment, I sometimes feel bad about the fact that, because I am in a smaller city/medium-large town, I very rarely get the opportunity to review smaller, more independent movies when they are released in theaters. The reason for such being that they are almost never released in theaters here. I feel it sometimes makes me appear biased towards liking only the big-budget studio flicks and completely disregarding the indies. I do, in fact, like my fair share of smaller ventures. But if this bullshit is supposed to be what best represents a great independent movie, I’d choose the biggest, loudest blockbuster available any day of the week.
Moonrise Kingdom is about two misfit children, Sam Shakusky, the misunderstood orphan currently in a summer camp scout program, and Suzy Bishop, the outsider child of two lawyers, who decide to run away together on the vaguely east coast island they met on. Thus sparks a search party including everyone from Suzy’s parents, Sam’s scout leader, to the island police chief, and that creepy narrator guy who serves no purpose.
Not that he’s ever been a box-office bombshell like the others, but Moonrise Kingdom is prime evidence for the argument that Wes Anderson is becoming the next Tim Burton, George Lucas, or any other once great filmmaker turned supposed hack. This movie reeks of being the product of a director who has escaped from having to answer to anybody and now does whatever he wants or doesn’t want. Here, the want is to choose a premise and plug as many Anderson-isms as he can into it and the doesn’t want is to tell a compelling story with interesting characters.
For a story that’s inherently supposed to be warm and twee, Moonrise Kingdom is consistently cold and artificial. Anderson’s omnipresent style suffocates the movie with its unnatural focus on having everything be quirky and different above everything else, not to mention majorly contradicts it. He clearly knows what he wants to technically do with the film, seeing how there is some very cool camera work, unique soundtrack choices, and playful editing; typical Wes Anderson stuff. But it’s all similar to delivering extravagant trimmings with no real meat (story) as the centerpiece.
Barely anything that happens really matters or feels like it advances anything forward. Someone gets struck by lightning, a dog gets impaled by an arrow, that narrator dude I mentioned earlier pops up and gives mostly irrelevant information, and other wackiness happens. But there’s no internal impact on the story or characters from it or even a reason for these things to happen in the first place. Even reactions as an audience member, whether they were intended to be comedic or tragic, didn’t amount to more than a shrug.
None of the actors in this lineup are noteworthy. Even Murray and Schwartzman, Anderson’s
Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter regulars are wasted. Everyone may well have been on ambien because there are only fleeting glimpses of emotion that shine through. The veteran actors are at least able to keep from embarrassing themselves with the overly subdued acting style but the two main kids don’t grasp Anderson’s dialogue stanzas like others before have and get absolutely skewered by it. Unfortunately, they are the main focus of the movie and have the most drawn out scenes. After about 40 minutes in, having to watch them do little more than mumble like robots becomes near excruciating.
Believe it or not, this review is coming from the keyboard of someone who, statistically, likes most Wes Anderson movies. Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums are not only both very oddly funny but are also very investing and have their touching moments. The quirkiness comes naturally in order to serve the story (the most important thing). Moonrise Kingdom is only interested in piling the quirkiness on what’s ultimately a non-existent foundation.
Die-hard fans of Anderson may find what they’re looking for and excuse the absence of charm and investment but others who have already written it off as “hipster bullshit” probably won’t find any reason to think otherwise.
UPCOMING HOME VIDEO RELEASES (PT. 1)
It’s a fact that home viewing is largely the preferred form of movie watching these days. Now that the climax movie of the summer has seen the dark light of day in theaters and the season is winding down, it’s about that time to look forward to when we can enjoy the biggest and bestest (arguable) this summer had to offer in the sanctity of our homes, now comparatively safer than ever.
I’ve mainly just thrown out my opinions for the last two months, so perhaps I’ll do something helpful. Here are the deets on the home video releases of the four biggest movies released in May (The Dictator is August 21 and Chernobyl Diaries is October 16). Check back for the June releases at a time when more than only one has been announced.
The biggest movie of the summer will no doubt be the biggest Blu-Ray event of the fall. Disney is one of the leaders in putting together a great Blu-ray, so their most profitable movie ever should be nothing short of great. In addition to guaranteed top-tier picture and sound, the 3D combo pack comes with a free download of the soundtrack album and Whedon-filled behind the scenes goodies a-plenty, as well as a hard copy of the digital copy (compatible with iTunes).
Oh, in case you didn’t hear, the movie also happens to be epic awesomesauce and many fans like myself will flock in droves to pick it up on release day.
The Men in Black are back after a ten year hiatus, none of which was spent on choosing a decent story or building enthusiasm from any of the returning players. In case my views haven’t permeated this intro enough, I didn’t really care for MIB3. It came off as cheap, perfunctory, and just not all that entertaining, to my great regret.
Still, Sony does a pretty great job of their picture (which won’t do any favors for those awful special effects) and sound. Not so much can be said for their singular offer of Ultraviolet digital copy, similar to Warner Bros. releases. Details were released prematurely a week ago and have since been pulled but appear to be pretty basic (making of, filming in 3D, trailer, etc.). Worth a rental. Maybe.
THOUGHTS ON THE DARK KNIGHT RISES OSCAR BUZZ
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences learned four years ago that they can’t remain completely oblivious to the public’s interests.
In 2008, The Dark Knight was the talk of the town (the town apparently being anywhere but Hollywood) to secure the fifth nomination slot for best picture at the upcoming Oscars. However, despite garnering a total of eight nominations in the technical categories, the movie was snubbed in the major areas (picture, director, screenplay) and only walked away with wins in best sound editing and sound design, as well as the obvious best supporting actor trophy, posthumously awarded to Heath Ledger.
The following year the Academy amended its nomination rules and doubled the amount of movies eligible for best picture contention to ten, reportedly pressured by the backlash they faced for their previous exclusion. Christopher Nolan’s next movie, Inception, was shown a little more love at that year’s Oscar ceremony, begrudging as it felt, and did get nominated for best picture.
So when the sequel to the movie that switched things up in the first place was announced, everyone naturally wondered what kind of Oscar talk it would get upon release. Early press screenings told of standing ovations, tears, and best picture murmurings. Wide release reactions, though, weren’t as unanimous as Dark Knight‘s (for reasons that are worthy of their own sociology essay, in my book) and reactions at a recent academy screening were described as quiet and reaction-less.
What I’m here to say is that, by all indications, The Dark Knight Rises probably won’t be nominated for best picture (and certainly won’t win it) and how much acknowledgement it receives in other categories is uncertain, depending on the caliber of movies released around Oscar season.
I don’t know why but I’ve always felt the academy doesn’t care much for Christopher Nolan. They have yet to give him a directing nod for any of the great works he’s turned in, and when they do nominate his movies for anything, it always feels forced and reluctant.
Maybe it’s because he doesn’t exactly make movies that appeal only to the sensibilities of the academy, the majority of which are older, white men (is there any other kind of top-tier society in the U.S.?), but it seems like any reason they can find to dismiss him, they exploit it. The fact that The Dark Knight was the story of a man dressed in a batsuit seemed to be a big write-off, and that’s obviously not going to change with Rises. And because the haters have made it their mission in life to point out nothing but the numerous plot holes in the movie, the academy has gotten all they need to completely ignore The Dark Knight Rises for consideration.
And you know what? I’m kind of ok with it. After these past couple years, unless they change their tune, I’m fucking done with the Oscars. Time and time again they’ve showed that they aren’t representative of the best of what cinema has to offer in any given year. Rather, they are so very representative of which movies pander most to their core voter demographic and which bloated producer can pour the most money into campaigning. It’s become a total jerk-off fest and to get your hopes up for a great movie to be nominated, much less the best movie out of all the nominees to win, is completely futile at this point.
The Dark Knight Rises is more moving, inspiring and engaging than any movie that’s won best picture since No Country for Old Men (a movie that actually had polarizing reactions). The movies since then have been mostly bland and designed not to stir any thoughtful or dissenting reactions outside of “That was good. Why wouldn’t it win best picture?”. Purely and simply, they’re fluff.
The fans of The Dark Knight Rises should be perfectly satisfied knowing that Nolan delivered a great and epic finale that, in some unique ways, is better than it’s predecessors, regardless of what a cult of stuck up old people think about it. And the non-fans, well, like I said… sociology essay.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES REVIEW
|“You merely adopted the darkness. I was born in it.”|
[Note: The dubbing for Bane’s voice in the opening scene has been reworked and I fucking hate it. In the original scene that showed in front of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol back in December, Bane was difficult to understand but had a very creepy subdued vibe that he talks with for most of the movie. Now it sounds like a completely different, over the top voice that, while crystal clear, has no character to it. Really not how I wanted to start the movie.]
Because The Dark Knight Rises is such a beast of a movie at 2 hours – 45 minutes and has so much to tell, in order to keep the vehicle moving, some corners had to be cut. Some stray lines didn’t get punched up, quick fixes happen a couple of times, and the slightly more fantastical plot elements will require more suspension of disbelief for some.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES SCORE (HANS ZIMMER) REVIEW
Almost as exciting and beloved as the movies themselves, the Dark Knight scores by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard are easily one of the most anticipated events that accompany these films when they hit screens. Howard chose to sit part 3 out, not wanting interject himself into the stronger work relationship Nolan and Zimmer developed during Inception, so now all weight rest on Zimmer’s shoulders. Needless to say, it is now clear what a standalone Zimmer/Batman score sounds like.
Heavy in the brawn department, Zimmer’s score to The Dark Knight Rises is often a freight train to your senses; a metaphorical piece of massive shrapnel blowing your cranium to pieces. And that is absolutely what he does best. Very few action scores reach the levels of pulse-pounding, “get up and kick something” excitement quite like his. Incorporating massive kettle drums and thousands of voices chanting in Moroccan reaches a base level in mankind’s instinctual aggressiveness that could be described as near-genius for the result it is going for. This is likely the best action music that will be released all year.
Just like so many of his recent scores, the highlights of Zimmer’s albums are the newly written material. “Gotham’s Reckoning” is the most thrilling track on the disc, accompanying one of the most thrilling scenes in the movie. The music boiling underneath for the first half before it suddenly explodes into chaotic villainy for the second half is fantastic to listen to. I still can’t get enough of Bane’s theme.
“Mind If I Cut In?” is an interesting change of style from the rest of the album. The slinky, ambiguous piano melody can only be referring to Miss Selina Kyle/ Catwoman. Admittedly, I’ve already heard a somewhat similar musical concept to what Zimmer is doing here with his other recent screen femme-fatal, Irene Adler of Sherlock Holmes, but the mystery and intrigue of this track fits very nicely with what that character brings.
“Underground Army” is like something straight out of Tron or even Inception. The metronomic pulse of the synth pushes the whole foreboding and seething track along.
There is also a new theme introduced at the ends of “The Fire Rises” and “Imagine the Fire”, as well as in a much slower, somber form in “Necessary Evil”, that speaks of the incredible grimness and evil that will unfurl at certain parts in the film.
Those are, in a nutshell, the reasons this disc is ultimately worthwhile. It has some other great action tracks like “Fear Will Find You”, in addition to “The Fire Rises” and “Imagine the Fire”, but they all speak to the biggest downfall of this production: far too much of it is recycled material.
So many tracks are just been there, done that. And I don’t mean “I’ve heard that part before”. I mean “I’ve heard that before, played the exact same way, at the exact same volume, with the same instruments playing, and why is it taking up nearly half this album”. The final track, “Rise”, is seven minutes of stuff I’ve heard on, not one, but two previous albums. This is something Zimmer has been doing lately on his sequel scores, Dark Knight included, and much as I’d like to give it a pass for keeping in line with the previous movies, I can’t help but feel just a little gypped once again.
There is also no reasonable excuse that two out of the fifteen tracks present, “A Storm is Coming” and “Death by Exile”, are close to 30 seconds or less, with nothing really happening in them.
Not that I like to dwell on what could have been, but it would have been interesting to hear what Howard would have contributed to this final movie. His contributions to the previous movies brought a real emotional core to contrast Zimmer’s aggression. Zimmer does provide some melancholy sections, notably “On Thin Ice”, but his droning, murky fog musical approach to the more complex emotions isn’t quite as satisfying as some of the best of what Howard has to offer.
The music will, no doubt, fit like a glove when played with the movie (it always has), but for anyone who has the score to Batman Begins &/or The Dark Knight sitting on their shelf, you may be feeling a little deja-vu with Rises. The new material is what makes this album worthwhile and that encapsulates about half of it, so choose for yourself whether you want the whole thing or whether you just want to pick and choose certain tracks. Just don’t be surprised if you catch yourself mouthing “Deshay, Deshay, Basara, Basara” for the next few weeks.
5 THINGS I WANT IN AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
I really liked Amazing Spider-Man and from what I understand, I am in the majority to a very vocal minority. One of the things I liked most about it is that it sets up for what could be a spectacular sequel, one that I will naturally have higher expectations for. Here are some things I would like to see to reaffirm that this trilogy is on the right track.
That in no way means his Spider-Man persona needs to change. That was just fine, as is. What should change is that Peter will hopefully reach a point where he doesn’t yell at his Aunt May to go to sleep, tell Gwen to shut up, mid-make-out, and be so quick to start arguments with the chief of police. Stuff like that can exit any time.
Oliver Stone — he’s a weird guy. Basically insane at one point and possibly still is depending on who you ask. Like his sanity, his batting average as a filmmaker in these last few years has been a little spotty too. If W. and Wall Street 2 weren’t considered successes, Savages may just be seen as a step in the right direction.
Stone has become known for this nutty expressionist style of filmmaking consisting of color saturation and crazy editing (among other things) that he adopted back when he did Natural Born Killers. With a topic as tumultuous and frantic as the war on drugs, splicing in an image of the Buddha now and then doesn’t seem so out there, and such things even bring interest to a lot of parts.
Savages acts primarily as a broad (and gratuitous) statement about the state of the U.S.’s war on drugs. Like it needs to tell you that it’s failed. The film takes a very adamant stance that decriminalizing marijuana would eliminate most the violence and power of the cartels. Make of that what you will, but not in my comments section, because I’m not going near it.
But in focusing on the conditions of this conflict, the movie kind of bypasses telling an involving story. None of the main three characters ever seemed all that interesting. The actors all pulled their weight when they had to but there was never much heft or involvement with them.
Add to that a script that’s incredibly obvious and hokey. Poor Blake Lively had to deliver a narrative that thinks it’s funnier and more ironic than it actually is. If the line “I had orgasms, he had wargasms.” sounds only mildly amusing, don’t worry, it comes off as the most awkward thing ever in the movie. It also seems as if the writers assumed people would forget what movie they are seeing and made sure to put the word “Savages” in the movie no less than five times, with Lively reading the fucking definition at one point. Yeesh.
The ending is likely to leave a lot of people dumbfounded as to why they would even choose to go down the road they do. Without giving too much away, it’s frivolous.
The real reason to see this movie is the veteran actors in the supporting cast. They are the ones who know what they are in for and just how to go about their business. Salma Hayek chews scenery like a boss and the great Benicio del Toro is one of the most enjoyably scumbaggish villains this summer. Even John Travolta is a lot of fun as a morally ambiguous DEA agent. The exuberance from these guys is what grabs hold of your attention, unfortunately at the expense of the main characters story.
Like a lot of movies this summer, it’s refreshing to see Savages embrace its R rating. Basically nothing but sex happens for the first 15 minutes of the movie. After that, the drugs and violence really sets in and there’s a particularly upsetting scene of torture. Not to say that any of these things could be described as soul food, just that so many movies in the summer shy away from gritty graphic content in an attempt to be accessible to as many people as possible, even if it doesn’t gel with the movie.
Inconsistencies and script aside, Savages works in the long run, but only because of the strength of the supporting players and because the topic proves to be so fascinating.
SOMETHING IS MISSING FROM THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
SPOILERS BELOW FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T SEEN “ASM”
Advertised as “The Untold Story” of Spider-Man, many people were disappointed that the story they got with The Amazing Spider-Man was, well, somewhat told. The newest element, the mystery of Peter’s parents, wasn’t resolved by the end of the movie, although it was teased to have some importance in upcoming sequels. Now word is surfacing that this may not have always been the case.
One scene in specific does not appear in the movie and it may have made for a very different movie. The scene in question has made several snippet appearances in the marketing material before-hand, so much so that its absence draws a lot of attention. The general idea of the scene looks to involve Peter confronting Dr. Connors in his sewer laboratory after the fight in the high school when Rajit Ratha, Connors’ superior and Norman Osborn underling, also confronts him, which ends in more reptilian results.
It is 99% certain that the two lines we’ve already heard in the trailers, first by Dr. Ratha where he asks Peter “Do you think what happened to you, Peter, was an accident? Do you have any idea what you really are?” and the line where Dr. Connors says “If you want the truth Peter, come and get it.” (both of which are not in the movie) are contained in this scene.
Judging just by those two lines, it seems incredibly likely that if this scene didn’t flat out reveal the mystery of Peter’s parents, then it would have led on to the idea that there is something special about Peter that allowed him to survive his genetic enhancement where all other specimens died. It seems probable considering Richard Parker’s genetic work with spiders that he played a role in Peter’s genetic luck with the spider bite.
There is also some evidence that the end of this scene would have led into The Lizard transforming the SWAT team into lizards, which is rumored to have originally played a larger role in the story than it did. The editing of the movie seems pretty telltale of re-shoots.
Whether they cut this scene because they wanted to save their answers for next time, test audiences didn’t like it, or it made the movie too long, the inclusion of this scene, I think, would have made it a better movie. Not only would it have been that one extra Lizard scene the movie needed, it also closes the Ratha plot-hole (things don’t seem to end well for him, judging by one of those photos and how whispery he delivers that cut line). In fact, one could say all story related issues stem from the consequences of removing of this scene.
Now, I still really like the movie. I think it works great as a character piece with some terrific performances, humor and action/special effects. But after learning about this, it’s hard not to find more fault with the story. And as much as I would love for this scene to be included in the deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray, or even better, be part of an extended cut, something tells me Sony doesn’t want this to see daylight (which is weird seeing how they released so much evidence of it).
Oh well. Just another behind the scenes tale about the magic of movie making.