Like it or not, I now know how that reporter Will Smith smacked on the red carpet felt, because this movie, to me, was about as enjoyable as a big slap in the face.

Men in Black probably would have been better off just ending after the first movie and the animated series. It’s a cool concept, but I can only imagine how many audience members just tune out after waiting five years for a sequel (or remake, depending on who you ask) and then ten more years for a part three. Yet somehow, these movies are prime examples of how more time in between doesn’t equate to more effort put in.

It’s not that often that I’ve got an active complaint from every single level of a movie’s production, but Men in Black 3 is of those. So, congratulations, I guess. Where to begin?

There were headlines around this time last year regarding the halting of production on MIB3. Apparently, Will Smith was having issues with the story and wanted re-writes.  I don’t know how much was altered or what Smith contributed, but I’m under the assumption they either took it from passable to bad or from abysmal to mediocre. The story is weak-sauce and really not that fun or engaging, and that’s ultimately what opens up all these other problems for scrutiny.

Likewise, the script is blah. Nine out of ten attempts at humor fizzle with some being absolutely face-palm worthy (Emma Thompson has one of the saddest “humorous” moments I’ve ever seen).The movie thinks it’s funnier than it really is, and it doesn’t take long for that to become aggravating.

HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT: When was the last time someone you know said “Shiznit” in a sentence?

I’m assuming they’re both aiming at their agents.

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith look like they’d rather be asphyxiating on the surface of the moon than spend another minute being involved with this movie. There had to be some kind of clause in Jones’ contract that prevented him from being in the movie more than fifteen minutes, because boy did he bolt early on. Meanwhile, Smith is doing the same song and dance that’s made him millions, albeit older and less jubilant.

The villain is also forgettable. Not highlighted at all in the trailers for good reason, Boris “It’s just this cliched line I’m going to repeat over and over Boris” the Animal mostly just lurches around without any real personality.

The visual effects, for the most part, are absolutely horrendous. Some of the time the aliens look ok, other times you can see the boxing around the edges, so to speak. The real failure is all the green screen backgrounds and the time-jump scene where Smith’s body is redone in rubbery CG.

The editing is choppy in the way that says there was a lot left on the cutting room floor.

Danny Elfman’s score is sometimes too out of place and overbearing. The guitar work in the opening scene is a special kind of awful that started the movie on the majorly wrong foot.

To its credit, the movie isn’t completely bereft of worth. The supporting cast, mainly Josh Brolin and Michael Stuhlbarg, actually appear to be having some fun with their roles. Brolin does a dead on, amusing impression of Jones and Stuhlbarg has this infectious joy to him that you can’t help but play along, albeit for a short time before we’re back to business as usual.

The scene at Andy Warhol’s factory is the only genuinely funny moment, helped mostly by Bill Hader’s cameo.

Needless to say, I was not impressed. Which is sad, because I wasn’t looking to be impressed, just have some fun. But there just isn’t much fun to be had here. There isn’t a story worth telling and everyone knows it and makes no effort to hide it.



Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest release dates for film, often producing one, if not two, of the top earners of the year on that weekend. The selections are vast, so I’ve chosen one from the past five years, but excluding 2010 and including 2006.

The Hangover: Part 2

Last Memorial Day played host to what is most likely the biggest experiment in audience obliviousness ever attempted.

The sequel to the highly profitable comedy had the hurdle of making a movie as funny and successful as the original. To which their approach was “Fuck it. Let’s just make the exact same goddamn movie, beat for beat…just with more cock and annoying shit and less funny.”

The original is a “hilarious” comedy in the sense that it made me chuckle a few times and not want to gauge my eyes out. Thus is the state of humor these days. So naturally I found Part 1 to be a bit overrated and my will towards Part 2 was significantly ill. Even the trailer raised a red flag when it followed the exact same beats as the previous one’s trailer.

As it turns out, my reactions watching the movie were remarkably similar to watching Schindler’s List: stone cold somber, deep in reflection on humanity and ending in tears.

Christy Lemire of the Associated Press had it dead on by saying it was either lazy, arrogant or a combination of the two when referring to how it is a carbon copy of the original. How are we expected to laugh when we already know exactly when the jokes come and what they’ll be similar to? The only time I exited Stonehenge mode and a smile clawed through was when Alan had the flashback where they all appeared as kids. Otherwise, pretty worthless.

Ah, but audiences couldn’t resist its allure and helped it break all sorts of records concerning highest grossing R-rated movies (midnight opening, opening weekend, all time R-rated). BAD AUDIENCE!! You should be swatted on the nose with a newspaper or beaten with a stick or something! To be fair, Part 2 was received far less favorably than its predecessor, but its still their fault we’re getting a Hangover Part 3. Audience, go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

Terminator Salvation

After several years in standby mode, the Terminator franchise finally reappeared in 2009. Fans would naturally cream their pants, right? Well….
Salvation stars Batman and the soon to be Jake Sully/ Perseus and concerns Batman’s battle with the machines and struggling for credibility in a world where the higher-ups don’t yet acknowledge his leg up in this resistance business. Meanwhile, Release the Kraken wakes up in a horrifying future world full of robots after being executed  many years earlier for a murder (in Texas, to no one’s surprise). I wonder what could be happening with him?
I honestly don’t get the big hate-whoop behind the movie. I’m sorry, guy I sat next to in Pop Music, but this isn’t the worst shit ever. 
Yeah, this whole thing…

The movie had a lot of resistance before-hand because of the involvement of director McG, and the PG-13 rating (all the previous movies had the ever-popular R). And yes, those are in fact two big detractors for Salvation. McG is not great with actors and there were certain spots where the material would have benefited from darker material. The movie also ruins one of its potentially biggest surprises in the trailers, which ultimately ends up being one of few plot twists.

But I did like how the story differs from all the other Terminator movies. Instead of the time-travel business, this movie stays and focuses on the conflict in the future. And to its credit, Salvation has some really impressive action scenes and despite not being able to show too much graphic content, it still featured an appropriately gritty tone. It’s not up the standard of the other movies (or at least 1 & 2) but it is a solid, stylish summer action flick. That’s all I ever expected it to be.

Audiences apparently came down a bit harder than Warner Bros. would have liked and the movie suffered the ultimate indignity of coming in second place at the box office opening week to Night at the Museum 2. Needless to say, it did not end up being one of the top 5 earners of 2009, as experts had predicted.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Not even the filmmakers thought the day would come (or hoped), but Memorial Day 2008 saw the return of Indiana Jones, brandishing his trademark fedora, whip, and walker. Wait…
Crystal Skull jumps ahead to the fifties, right in the heart of the nuclear age and the cold war. Indy is drawn into a race to return a mysterious magnetic crystal skull to an ancient civilization and keep the soviets from harnessing it’s power.
This was another one that faced the ever popular “this isn’t what I was entitled to” reaction upon release. And while I didn’t actually dislike it, I ultimately do get the shit-storm that came with it.
Fans waited a long time for this one and in return were rewarded with Shia LaBeouf swinging with monkeys, fridge nuking, and a head scratching plot involving aliens. The brilliant mind of George Lucas strikes again.

The definitive criticism to lob at the movie outside of the tomfoolery is that Crystal Skull is just a stream-lined, watered down version of all the other Indiana Jones movies. It follows the same basic plot structure as the other three, but the violence is largely avoided and the winks and nods to the previous three are omnipresent. But all this pales in comparison to the question “Why should this movie be made?” Outside of the obvious answer, it just seemed ill-conceived  to do another Indiana Jones movie this late in the game.

But since the original Indiana Jones trilogy was great, the watered down version of that, logically, would be good, mostly good or fun, which is still mostly what I thought of it. Besides some hideous CGI saturation in some scenes, the movie had some exciting action set pieces, a few good one-liners, and Steven Spielberg, his composer, and his cinematographer are still in top form.

Most of what I said about Terminator can be translated to this one, as well as the next highlighted movie. I didn’t grow up with either Terminator or Indiana Jones, therefore there was no childhood to rape. All I was looking for was a fun studio action adventure movie and that’s what I got. But if you were expecting something more, hey, more power to you.

Crystal Skull was projected at the beginning of the summer to be the top earning movie of the year. Had more people been enthusiastic about it, it probably would have been. By the end of the year, it sat at third domestically and second globally.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Chalk up another “Memorial Day movie Schuyler likes, but fully acknowledges isn’t that good.” That seems to be the running theme.
2007 saw the “end” of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. Jack Sparrow was swallowed by the Kraken at the end of Dead Man’s Chest and sent to Davy Jones’ locker. With capitalism now controlling the heart of Jones, our heroes must now journey to world’s end to retrieve him for a final battle for the future of piracy. SPOILER: a lot of convoluted shit happens in between.

God this movie is a mess. 20 different plot-lines going on, some of which don’t lead anywhere, and each character looking to double cross someone else or get out of debt. Act two is a test of patience with how long and drawn out it becomes. Usually when a movie starts shooting without a script there’s a deficiency of material instead of a surplus.

Yet, what can I say. The last 45 minutes won me back. There were a few impressive set pieces beforehand, but the maelstrom sequence is still one of those moments that makes me say “This is why I go to movies”. More relieving is that the characters never get lost and all have some nice moments to remind us why we like them. Hans Zimmer also turns in a surprisingly emotional and memorable score. Maybe it was being under the gun or the thought that this would be the last time, but there’s an energy from those involved that was missing from Dead Man’s Chest and most certainly On Stranger Tides. And it does, in fact, make for a satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that shouldn’t have been.

Highest grossing film of 2007, globally, yadda yadda yadda, came in third domestically.

X-Men: The Last Stand

This is where I draw the line. My appreciation of a series can only go so far.

The Last Stand focuses on the development of a cure for mutants and the conflict that it brings. Meanwhile an old ally makes an unexpected return, but is it for the better?

In an effort to raise the stakes for this final chapter, the screenwriters and director Brett “rehearsal is for f@*s” Ratner resort to killing off or curing half the characters. Character removals at the end of a trilogy are fine and usually end up being dramatically powerful, but if they overdo it or just brush over them without a satisfying ending, it becomes the cheapest thing they could possibly do.

And after being teased at the end of X2, the Jean Grey story plays a lackluster second fiddle to the main cure storyline.

Add in the tried and true tradition for third movies of adding too many characters and you’ve got yourself a nice cocktail of disappointment. Nostalgia, for me, is the strongest thing it has going for it.

But the world is crazy, of course, and this is still the highest grossing X-Men film. Sad, considering another entry that will be covered next week.


Goddamn these last two days have been busy on the news front. But, luckily, most of it is exciting as hell, so here’s a rundown.

           G.I. Joe – Retaliation has pushed back it’s release date an entire 9 months. Originally scheduled for release on June 29, the sequel staring the rock will now open on March 29, 2013.
          The supposed reason for the switch is to post-convert the movie into 3D for “an even more immersive entertainment experience.” Also, the recent success of The Hunger Games after opening in late March must have been far more alluring than opening in the middle of The Amazing Spider-Man, Brave, and The Dark Knight Rises
          Seth McFarlane’s Ted has now switched its release date to June 29, instead of July 13.
          Retaliation was honestly flying under the radar, so getting out of a spot where it could have been buried will probably work out well in the end. However, they did already put an effort into their marketing and the movie would have been less than 40 days away from release had it stayed, so such a change late in the game is a little jarring.  
            Speaking of The Hunger Games, the mega hit has been announced for release on Blu-Ray & DVD on August 18. Like the Twilight films before it, Hunger Games is being released on a Saturday and will play host to midnight release parties at stores all across the country.
            The Hunger Games currently sits at the number 2 spot on the year’s domestic ($392 mill) and global  ($636 mill) and has the fourth highest opening weekend of all time.           
            I do like the movie, but the problems I have with it seem to keep compounding the more I think about them. I also usually don’t have as much desire to re-watch book adaptions, most of the Harry Potters being an example. Probably something to do with your interpretation of the book always being better, or some such. So this is probably the movie so far this year I’m most hesitant to pick up on Blu-Ray that I actually liked.
            The Hunger Games will be available for pre-order starting Friday.

            The details and tracklist for the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man score have been released and some can be considered spoiler-esque while one of them announces loud and clear one spoilery plot point (though, really, who didn’t see it coming?)

01 Main Title / Young Peter (4:54)
02 Becoming Spider-man (4:16)
03 Playing Basketball (1:22)
04 Hunting For Information (2:07)
05 The Briefcase (3:14)
06 The Spider Room / Rumble In The Subway (3:20)
07 Secrets (2:30)
08 The Equation (4:22)
09 The Ganali Device (2:28)
10 Ben’s Death (5:41)
11 Metamorphosis (3:04)
12 Rooftop Kiss (2:34)
13 The Bridge (5:15)
14 Peter’s Suspicions (3:01)
15 Making a Silk Trap (2:52)
16 Lizard At School! (2:57)
17 Saving New York (7:52)
18 Oscorp Tower (3:22)
19 “I Can’t See You Anymore” (6:50)
20 Promises / Spiderman End Titles (4:52)
            I’m really excited to hear what James Horner’s take on the material is. The guy knows his stuff when it comes to blockbuster scores, having written the scores for the two biggest movies of all time (Avatar & Titanic). Danny Elfman’s/Christopher Young’s scores were quite good and fit with that iteration, but with a new exciting take on Spider-Man should come a new exciting sound. Nothing radically outside who the character is, but as long as it makes for an exciting, memorable listen I’ll be happy.
           The Amazing Spider-Man score will be released the same day as the movie, July 3, and is available for pre-order now on Amazon.
            The teaser trailer for the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, has launched, and future teasers should take note. I don’t care all that much for Quantum of Solice, but this trailer has me genuinely excited. Just something about the style of it and how it’s edited together makes it look unique. Plus having Javier Bardem as the villain is a selling point in it’s own.

            And finally, the marketing on The Dark Knight Rises has finally re-vamped, starting with this theatrical one sheet. It’s… good, I guess. Very dynamic and visually striking, but the level of effort that went into it is a bit disconcerting.

            On the other hand, some new character banners premiered shortly after and are more satisfying.

           The first official TV Spot also premiered hours ago and features some awesome new footage.

            [UPDATE]: Jesus, if that’s not enough, here’s a second TV Spot that aired just minutes after I originally posted.



Current Weekend, Previous Year is a new column I’m starting in order to look back and reflect on previous tentpoles released during the particular time. ‘Cause, you know, it’s fun and shit.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Last year, this weekend saw the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth entry in the wildly successful POTC series.
Gone was three-time director Gore Verbinski (off to direct his best movie yet, Rango) and actors Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley.

In their places were director Rob Marshall and actors Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, and Sam Claflin. The story picks up with the quest for the fountain of youth, teased at the end of At World’s End.

Even as someone who enjoyed At World’s End as much as, if not more so than, the original, messiness of it and all, this movie convinced me it was about time they put this series to rest. Nobody seemed like they wanted to still be doing this gig anymore. Had it not been for the staggering 50 million dollars they paid him, Johnny Depp would have disappeared faster than the rum.

The apathy from everyone involved finally carried over and influenced my viewing experience. I honestly can’t say more than “meh” when I discuss it with others. I had some actual expectations this time: it had been four years since #3, they were bringing in some fresh talent, and they had an actual script ready at the time of shooting.

Alas, it ended up more of the same, mostly in a bad way. If they truly want to make a better movie, they need to ditch the two writers. There’s just no need to continually over-complicate matters with endless double-crosses and bog things down with lame clergy/fish-person love stories. My favorite part of the movie was the ending 15 minutes where they set up several threads for the next film, but I’m not at all excited for a Pirates 5 because I already know they’ll royally fuck it up if they stick with those writers. Apparently only one of them would return for a proposed fifth installment. So now they only have half a problem, it seems.

The movie received the most tepid reviews of the series (according to Rotten Tomatoes at roughly 33%), but, thanks to 3D ticket prices, still manged to gross over a billion dollars internationally and currently sits at the number 9 of the all time highest grosses with $1,043,871,802. However, American audiences grew more tired of the swashbuckling  shenanigans and the movie only pulled in $241 million domestically, the lowest domestic gross for any of the Pirates movies.

Angels & Demons

This weekend in 2009 saw the release of Angels & Demons, the cinematic sequel to The DaVinci Code, based on the book that came before DaVinci, by Dan Brown.
The story this time involves Tom Hanks’ Prof. Robert Langdon travelling to Vatican City to help prevent the murder of four cardinals by the Illuminati, much less an anti-matter bomb from decimating the entire city. The sequel also adds Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard, who plays Snarly McRedHerring.
The general consensus on Ron Howard’s adaption of The DaVinci Code was…not good. At all. The reviews on this one were more positive, but still not by a large margin.
To be honest, I had a lot of fun with this one. Dan Brown’s writing isn’t anything to jump for joy over, but the thing this one has over DaVinci is a better pace. DaVinci got dragged out by it’s plodding exposition which  sucked a lot of life out of it. Angels & Demons, while still a long movie (like most adaptions of novels) takes a cue from The West Wing and delivers its info on-the-go. The pacing, along with a far more sinister tone complemented by Hans Zimmer’s dark, bombastic score was enough for me to look beyond the flaws of the source material.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Right around this time in 2005, the final chapter of Lucas’ “legendary” Star Wars Prequel trilogy was finally unleashed on the world.

The final film brought about the fall of the jedi and republic, rise of the empire, and Anakin’s turn to the dark side of the force.

The Star Wars prequel trilogy is one of the most reviled pieces of pop culture, mostly by the fans that so fervently supported the originals a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away). With the disappointment poured on thick, people tend to write off all three movies. Which is a shame because I don’t believe Revenge of the Sith deserves to be lumped in with I & II.

Episode III was something it’s two predecessors weren’t: fun. Focusing on the mythos of the saga instead of political disputes and an unbearable love story brought back the interest.

Yes, it still has the terrible acting and (more importantly) writing, and occasionally baffling plot inconsistencies of the last two, along with some others that have become more apparent over the years (thanks to Mr. Plinkett for pointing out that 95% of the movie looks artificial, having been shot almost completely with blue/green screen).

But, hey, maybe it was because I was thirteen at the time, but I totally got swept away with all the visual dazzlery and the finality of it all. To this day, it’s still one of the most memorable theater experiences I’ve had.


            There are two types of people who are going to walk into The Cabin in the Woods: the ones who are fooled into thinking the movie is exactly what the title suggests, a by-the-numbers slasher flick, and those who have done their homework and know better than that. While there is a good amount of spilt blood, The Cabin in the Woods is even more a horror satire, and an incredibly satisfying one at that.
             The initial premise is the same: five college kids go to a cabin (you’ll never guess where it is) and are slowly picked off. Meanwhile, two office workers engage in some witty banter and start taking bets in an office pool, the topic of which becomes surprisingly apparent. From this point on, the plot takes such a turn that anything more said about it could be described as a spoiler, so here is where I stop describing what’s happening and re-raise the curtain of mystery.

Zombie Redneck Torture Family
               Admittedly, it’s really hard to review this movie, since a lot of its truly great moments would be ruined if I described them to someone who hasn’t seen it. I’ll get into detail later about preparing to see it, but now to the broad things that work so well.

            Like Scream, Cabin in the Woods knows its audience is aware of horror tropes and how horror movies play out, with some characters actions poking fun at the things audience members do.  Unlike Scream, where clichés are only pointed out, Cabin actually identifies the tropes and then provides amusing explanations as to why they exist and are an integral part of the story.

Much of Cabin’s success can be credited to the creative team of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. Whedon’s writing brings a refreshing amount of satirical wit and knowledge of the genre and Goddard executes everything almost perfectly, with only a few inconsistencies at the end.
            And unlike most horror movies, the characters are all likeable people from the start and only become archetypes who make stupid slasher movie decisions (“We need to split up”) because they are manipulated into it by unseen forces.

            This movie is an enthusiastic gift for loyal fans of the genre and people who crave and respect movies that just go for it. But to truly realize all the awesome things going on, one has to see it for themselves, which brings us to the most important part.

           This is not the movie you believe it to be. This was not the movie your friend who hated it thought it was going to be. This is not like the spoon-fed, banal, lame horror crap they keep churning out every year, which is partly what it’s being sold as, and probably what said friend wanted it to be. It does what it wants, unapologetically, and it ends how it logically should. Just because a movie is not what people are expecting it to be doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s a smart film but it’s also a wildly fun and humorous film, and one that does not deserve to be ignored or misunderstood.



We knew The Avengers was going to have a big opening weekend at the box office, but if only we knew beforehand just how big. Not only did The Avengers break the record for biggest opening weekend, it demolished the previous record of $169 million, held by last year’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, with a colossal $207 million. It’s likely to make more than  $450 million in the U.S. alone, and will definitely bring in well over $1 billion globally (probably securing the #3 or 4 spot on the all time highest grossing list).

Before this weekend, there were a small handful of movies coming out this summer I thought were going to open around, if not slightly above Avengers. Now that it’s in the stratosphere, I’ll tell you why they all probably won’t.
I never really saw this one as having a phenomenal opening weekend, but it seems some still do. Prometheus is playing to a niche audience. As a straight, gritty sci-fi flick, one which those under 17 can’t get in without a parent or guardian, it can only pull in so many people. That, and it opens against Madagascar 3. They’re two completely different audiences, but one has the ability to dwarf the other.
However, the flick has done a great job of getting its core audience excited for it, and if the movie is good, said audience will likely pay to go see it more than once. It will also be helped out by 3D and IMAX ticket prices in the long run.
It’s not completely accessible
It opens against a popular animated sequel
Word of mouth will likely be good/repeat business
Boost from 3D and IMAX.

I just recently came across a headline on E-Online asking if The Avengers massive opening “crushed The Amazing Spider-Man‘s chances for summer dominance?”

No, the fact the The Amazing Spider-Man exists and when it comes out is what will keep it from dominating this summer.

Despite the footage from the movie looking only better and better, the denizens of the internet love to continually voice their nitpicks ever so loudly. The fact that the movie is five years removed from the last one, the looks of both Spider-Man and The Lizard, the edgier tone,  and the use of the origin story has all been used by some as absolute proof the movie will suck.

One can only hope such screeches aren’t taken too seriously in the overall picture. How good the whole film is should dictate how much money it makes, not what looks disagreeable from a trailer.

The other factor that could help/hurt Spider-Man’s numbers is when it opens. The Fourth of July weekend has always been kind to prospective (usually certain) blockbusters. Spidey’s opening day, July 3rd,  is a Tuesday, which gives it most of the week and that weekend to perform, similar to the first Transformers movie.

We can expect a high opening day/week, but this will also mean that there’s no chance for any kind of record breaking weekend (Friday – Sunday) since many will rush out during the week to catch it.

A dark horse in the race will also be how well G.I. Joe – Retaliation opens, just 4 days before. If it gets good word of mouth, there may be some competition to contend with.

It’s Tuesday opening takes away weekend business
It has more apprehension than the other two superhero movies of the summer
G.I. Joe could be good

It’s Spider-Man. Who gives a shit of the web shooters aren’t organic? You’ll go see it.
The different tone could pull in a larger audience
It’s in 3D and IMAX
It’s got a solid 17 days to dominate before that movie comes out

OPENING WEEK/WEEKEND ESTIMATES: $70-80 mill, Tuesday-Thursday; $80-90 mill, Friday – Saturday


If there was one movie coming out this summer I thought was going to have the highest opening weekend, this was it. My faith has been shaken to the core.
The Avengers‘ mammoth opened brought with it some discussion, not just as to why it did so well, but how it may have a leg up over Batman. It ultimately comes down to two things: audience and 3D.
While myself and millions of others stand by Nolan’s decision to avoid 3D for his Dark Knight swan song, it’s hard to deny the financial boost it’s given movies like Avengers, Harry Potter 8, Transformers 3, the re-release of Titanic, and Pirates 4; all in, or about to be in, the Billion Dollar Club.
However, The Dark Knight Rises should bring in a pretty penny from its IMAX showings. The Dark Knight kick-started the idea of shooting a studio movie in IMAX and is still highly regarded for it. The hour-plus amount of IMAX footage is one of the most hotly anticipated aspects of Rises.
But more important is the audience that’s going to see it in the first place. 13-35 year old males, like myself, are the target audience and are most likely to rush out and see it at least twice (I wonder if I’ll break my Dark Knight record of six trips to the theater on this one). But what of everyone else? 
Nolan’s Batman movies are dark, realistic, complex, often frightening psychological stories with their fair share of disturbing content. In other words, not something you’d be overjoyed to bring your kids to. Sure, kids are obviously going to want to go see a Batman movie, but parents know by now what this iteration contains, and a good number will be more apprehensive about it, with good reason. 
I think having a stronger female character this time around with Catwoman, not to mention getting Anne Hathaway to play her, along with the inclusion of the ever popular Joseph Gordon Levitt, should solidify the female fanbase, and probably bring in some who were otherwise uninterested.
The Dark Knight Rises will no doubt be a crowd-pleaser, albeit darker and ballsier in some of its decisions than Avengers. Audiences have been chomping at the bit for this movie ever since the credits rolled on The Dark Knight. Thus, it’s reasonable to assume that while Rises won’t have the 3D boost and quite as diverse an audience, word of mouth and general awareness will put it right around Avengers final tally at the end of the summer.
Far darker, edgier, and less family friendly than earth’s mightiest heroes
Doesn’t have the 3D bump

Final. Nolan. Batman. Movie. In. IMAX.



            I recently hinted at my distaste of Captain America‘s score and how anti-excited I was for Alan Silvestri to score The Avengers. As it turns out, this score is much more appealing than I could have hoped for.

            Silvestri’s most recent works haven’t been based in themes. That’s not to say he hasn’t made themes for his scores. Avengers features a solid theme glimpsed throughout before it ultimately is revealed at the very end. Hell, even Captain America’s theme peeks through here and there. It just means that he does not use themes as the ground work for his scores, like say Williams, Elfman, or Zimmer.

  •             The Avengers theme can be heard in “Arrival”, the end of “Tunnel Chase”, the end part of “Assemble”, “I Got a Ride”, and “A Promise”, and is heard in full in “The Avengers“.

            Instead, to make a generalization, his action formula consists of continuing one musical idea for about a minute — all of a sudden, “Bum Bum BUMMM” — optional silence — quiet build up before bursting into a new idea — repeat. This formula isn’t the worst thing when it’s accompanying a scene, in fact it usually works, but as a stand alone listen can be a little aggravating.

  •             Some highlight action tracks include “Tunnel Chase”, “Don’t Take My Stuff”, “Assault”, “Assemble” and “I Got a Ride“.


            But the aspect that sets this apart from Captain America is the variety of sounds. I honestly can’t recall off the top of my head anything from Cap that wasn’t heavily textured cacophony or loud patriotic marches (equally heavy). With a different array of characters this time, much more musical range is heard.

            “Stark Goes Green” features electronics that are germane to the character. “Helicarrier” admittedly sounds similar to “Sub Lift” from last year’s X-Men: First Class soundtrack, at least in how both are orchestrated, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Subjugation” toys with some sinister sounds for Loki. And “A Promise” uses some peaceful sounding acoustic guitar to sooth the ears after half an hour of non-stop action. Even the piccolo makes an appearance in an action track.

            Besides my preference for scores that stay on an idea for a decent amount of time, the only other criticism is that, for a movie of this caliber, it’s not as instantly iconic as it probably could have been.

            But how memorable something is is more subjective than not. The score to The Avengers works well as an accompaniment and well enough as a stand alone listen. (3.5/5)


            Really ambitious projects, whether they are films or something else, have a tendency to either fall epically flat or shine like crazy. Combining four separate franchises and main characters into one film is almost the definition of ambitious, and I’m relieved to say that The Avengers shines bright.
            When Thor’s disgruntled brother, Loki, arrives on Earth, having made a deal with an alien race to retrieve the cosmic cube last seen in Captain America and subjugate the human race, S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury calls forth Iron Man, Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye to fight the coming battle that would otherwise be impossible to take on alone. But can they overcome their radically different personalities and distrust of Fury or is our world doomed?
            The movie promised to us was a fun, summertime, action blockbuster. The Avengers delivers that in spades, and more. As expected, the action and visual effects are fantastic. Watching the Helicarrier rise for the first time, our various heroes fight with (and previously against) each other, and the final 40 minutes (including an awesome continuous shot highlighting each Avenger doing battle) are only just some of the absolutely amazing moments to be had.
            But the action is what was required to work in the first place. So often everything that’s not action set pieces is overlooked or just half-heartedly thrown together. Not so with The Avengers. In fact, to turn a phrase, the movie is a something of a writing “Marvel” in three ways:

  • The focus on how dysfunctional the characters are when put together proves to be just as intriguing as the ‘splodies and becomes that one unique thing that gives the movie its own identity.

  • Not only is no character overlooked in such a large cast, but each character gets their moment in the sun. To highlight a few, Robert Downey Jr. can do Tony Stark in his sleep by now, yet the movie never turns into Iron Man and Friends like early trailers made it seem. Mark Ruffalo’s take on Banner is different from Ed Norton, but just as interesting, while The Hulk is used to the best effect yet. Black Widow is more developed than she was in Iron Man 2. Samuel L. Jackson has a few of those moments when he opens is eye really wide just to show you he’s pissed. And, most surprising, Captain America is far more interesting here than he ever was in his solo movie, getting to play off some more quirky characters.

  • But the most impressive thing is that the movie is pretty damn funny.  Director/Writer Joss Whedon keeps everything light and spry with one memorable quip after the other. Downey is comedy dynamite as usual (especially when paired with Gwyneth Paltrow), but who would have guessed even our intended straight-men like Thor and Captain America would get their own belly laugh moments. I never thought I could get so much amusement from shawarmas.

You were made to be ruled. In the end you will always kneel.
In order to have all these heroes unite, a real threat must be present. Enter Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Hiddleston was probably the best thing about Thor, so having him enter full villain mode for this one, while still being one of the more empathetic antagonists, is a real asset for the movie. Physically, he’s not the most intimidating menace (he gets his ass handed to him more than once), but with his cunning and personal army, is still able to match our protagonists.

One of my biggest gripes about Captain America was Alan Silvestri’s score. It was too heavy and it’s incredibly thick texture kept most of it, with the exception of the main theme, from being memorable. Needless to say, I was not impressed when it was announced he would be doing The Avengers. Luckily, this score is more varied in its sounds and serves the movie much better.
In fact, any real complaints I can muster don’t go beyond minor nitpicks like a couple of weirdly edited scenes, and some cheesiness from a minor villain character.

Personally, the only thing that kept me from straight-out loving it was that, because it is more of a colorful and fun comic book movie, there is less question of how it’s ultimately going to turn out and therefore less tension and investment. But that just boils down to a matter of taste.

            Crowd pleasing at every turn, The Avengers is everything you would want in a summer popcorn flick and I see no reason not to give it an unabashed recommendation.



Ever since the first footage of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus debuted, it seemed clear it was not a light-hearted sci-fi romp. Scenes like these…

…didn’t exactly scream family-friendly (though there were screams). So speculation ran rampant as to whether the movie would be rated a hard PG-13 or R.

Now, advance tickets have revealed that Prometheus has indeed been rated R for “Sci-fi violence, including some intense images and brief language.”

This news has both a major benefit and possibly a major cost to the film.

BENEFIT: The movie will not have to water itself down. It will be able to tell the story it wants to, free from studio interference, and will likely end up all the more terrifying because of it.

COST: It likely won’t make all that much money. Alien fans and film geeks who appreciate all the clout the movie has behind it will rush out to see it, but the R rating closes off the possibility of a large audience going to see it. We are in an age where the PG-13 is king of the box office & R rated movies without Jesus being tortured or Keanu Reeves as a Jesus metaphor (inadvertently torturing the audience) only go so far in the horse race of grosses.

Only time will tell, regardless of whether it’s good or not, how much Prometheus will bring in.