Sorry, everybody. CATS was my idea. It was already a record-breaking Broadway musical slated for cinematic adaptation from LES MISERABLES director Tom Hooper, but I was the one who suggested they ditch the traditional makeup and do the cats as hideous mocap animal-human hybrids on oversized sets. In my defense I was picturing more of a RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES type of design where the faces have cat-like structure to them. I didn’t know it was gonna be human faces on furry Barbie doll bodies, which is a different type of creepy than I imagined.
I feel bad that this whole fiasco has caused all kinds of speculation about Hooper being a bad director. I personally didn’t much care for his best picture winning THE KING’S SPEECH, especially after it dissipated from the public consciousness before I could make THE KING’S PEACH to kick off a prestige version of Asylum mockbusters. But I truly was won over by THE MISERABLES. I’m not a fan of the Broadway aesthetic at all, not even Rappin’ Hamilton, and I saw that movie reluctantly for best picture nominee completist purposes only, so I was shocked when I totally loved it. Some of that is due to good choices on Hooper’s part, such as insisting on recording all the singing live and doing Anne Hathaway’s emotional song in one shot in closeup in a coffin, but also I was unfamiliar with it, I was experiencing that story for the first time, and it’s a good one. Way to go, Victor Hugo. You nailed that one. Les congratz. (read the rest of this shit…)
(NOTE: I’ve decided to go back to cover two Summer Flings that I regret having skipped.)
July 1, 1994
Look, I can’t say for sure what audiences were yearning for in the summer of ’94, but it might have been a cartoon about lions and it might not have been a super hero movie set in the 1930s, based on a character from serialized radio dramas. Here is yet another entry in my beloved genre of old-timey-super-hero-movie-that-totally-failed-at-the-box-office-but-I-thought-it-was-pretty-good. I suppose THE SHADOW seemed like a more sensible bet than some of them, because it was at least a character with vague name recognition and noir influences like BATMAN (in fact some believe the first Batman story was a rip-off of a Shadow story called “Partners of Peril”).
At first glance The Shadow (Alec Baldwin, THE GETAWAY) does seem like kind of a Batman-esque character. He’s a rich handsome guy named Lamont Cranston who lives a secret life, going out at night as a scary figure, fighting criminals. He doesn’t have a cape, but a black cloak that serves the same purpose, plus a hat and a mask over the mouth and two guns. And hidden in an alley is the entrance to his Batcave-like secret base. (read the rest of this shit…)
Disney’s new live-action rendition of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a tale as old as time, a collection of songs as old as 1991, plus new ones created in 1993 for the Broadway musical. Unlike Jon Favreau’s excellent computer-animation-that-seems-like-live-action remake THE JUNGLE BOOK, which melded beloved elements of the 1967 animated classic with more serious drama from Rudyard Kipling’s book, this is a very faithful, at times scene-for-scene re-enactment of the 1991 best picture nominated hit. But that’s the idea: it’s the movie version of the stage version of the animated version of the traditional fairy tale. Director Bill Condon (CANDYMAN 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH) and adapters Stephen Chbosky (RENT) and Evan Spiliotopoulos (HERCULES with The Rock) seem to look at it much more as a restaging than a reinterpretation. (read the rest of this shit…)
I still intend to review all of Michael Mann’s movies in chronological order. I haven’t gotten very far, but the one I’m on, THE KEEP, happens to be Halloween appropriate.
Other than its beautiful craftsmanship, this is completely unlike what we associate with a Mann film. Usually he looks for a higher level of realism than most movies, and to be very up-to-date with the technology and trends of the time. THE KEEP doesn’t do any of those things because it’s a weird, atmospheric horror movie set during WWII.
It concerns a group of German soldiers occupying an ancient stone fortress in Romania that seems to be haunted or something. Father Fonescu (Robert Prosky, LAST ACTION HERO, EYE SEE YOU), the priest and caretaker, warns them not to touch the nickel and silver crosses inlayed in the walls, but a couple of them try to steal one anyway. Behind it is a hole and when one of the looters peeks his head into the dark void something takes away the top half of his body. (read the rest of this shit…)
Remember when comic book movies were rare, and usually bad? When the idea of a Marvel Comics movie not powered by Wesley Snipes being a mainstream hit seemed laughable? It’s hard to believe that Bryan Singer, then the respected director of Oscar-winning THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and not a self-identified “geek”, was there to take the torch from BLADE, and that he is still doing X-Men movies 16 years later. Now he’s in a vastly different pop culture, where there are nine total movies in this world (plus more, including a TV show, in the works)… and it’s not even one of the more popular Marvel Comics movie franchises currently running!
We’re used to the X-Men now. We have experienced alternate timelines, recastings and two different spin-off series. And I don’t know if I’d ever rewatched the first one since part 2 came out. I wasn’t sure how well it would hold up, but I gotta tell you, I liking going back to a world where they had to work to convince us that this shit was cool. They took nothing for granted. (read the rest of this shit…)
I saw BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES about 5 weeks after it came out and finished this review a couple weeks later, so you can see I had higher movie-going-and-discussing priorities than the thrilling conclusion to the prequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. But honestly I did go to it of my own accord. After somewhat enjoying part 2 as a dumb spectacle with some good sequences I was kind of in the mood for that again and wanted to be sure to catch it before it left 3D.
(technical notes: I avoided high frame rate so it wouldn’t look like somebody’s home wedding video. I ended up with digital 3D “Imax,” which is on the giant screen but noticeably lower resolution than standard digital projection. So it’s got pluses and minuses)
If you’re like me you have almost no memory of what happened in the other two installments or what the names of any of the characters are, but you do remember the setup for part 3: Smowg, the greedy capitalistic dragon of Desolation Mountain, was awoken from his treasure-slumber and raging toward the man-village, puking deadly flame breath every which way, getting ready to roast some fuckin humans and Godzilla some buildings. Just step on some guys and bite off their heads and all that kind of dragon shit. This is the big screen dragon attack we’ve been waiting for ever since Guillermo Del Toro signed onto THE HOBBIT six years ago, and especially since the cliffhanger ending of part 2 one year ago.
I mean I am shitting myself you guys because THIS IS GONNA BE FUCKIN CRAZY! The Baggin’ and Toe-taggin’ of the Dragon. The Shakedown in Laketown. The motherfuckin climax of the greatest most epicest trilogy of all time, “THE END OF AN ERA” according to the ads and posters.
Do you guys remember how LAST ACTION HERO was the big ticket for ’93?
Okay, probly not. That was the tagline on some of the posters though. See, they knew this was destined to be a huge event movie, the movie of the summer. Fuck JURASSIC PARK. But also the plot involved a magical ticket that transports people between the worlds of reality and fiction. It’s a double meaning. They put alot of thought into this thing, just not the right kind maybe.
This is at least the third time I’ve watched and attempted to truly like this movie. That’s a strike out, so it’s time to sit on the bench and accept it as a kinda interesting, kinda terrible movie. Not as good as HUDSON HAWK but a bit of that same clever/awkward cocktail. Unique enough to keep coming back to, not good enough to be 100% sure it was worth it. (read the rest of this shit…)
Well, I guess waiting a month to see DESOLATION OF SMAUG shows you how excited I was for it. To be honest I still didn’t have any urgency but figured that since I did intend to see it eventually I wanted to see it while 3D was still available. It seems to me like the movie ended its brief flirtation with the public consciousness at least 2 weeks ago, but I heard a group of grey-haired gentleman in the theater questioning why it was mostly empty and there were no “young people wearing costumes.”
I learned my lesson from part 1 and skipped the High Frame Rate version playing at the Cinerama, usually my preferred theater. On Imax 3D there was some ghosting but it looked like an actual professional movie, an immediate advantage over my experience with part 1. For that reason it’s hard to really compare fairly, but I think I enjoyed this a little more than the first one, despite having the same flaws. (read the rest of this shit…)
Honestly, DA THE VINCI CODE or whatever is not a movie I ever though I’d watch. Some of the things going against it are:
a. didn’t look interesting to me
2. book I never cared about
III. director Ron Howard is competent but kind of a square director in my opinion, not somebody whose movies I ever get excited for and
d. in my opinion Akiva Goldsman is the writer of BATMAN AND ROBIN.
And I would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for this Summer Movie Flashback I got myself into. There just wasn’t another significant summer of 2006 movie I hadn’t seen. Right up until the last minute I was actually planning to do MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND just ’cause I thought that would be easier to stomach, but I decided that would be dishonorable. This one was obviously part of some cultural phenomenon of the time and is more representative of that summer. (read the rest of this shit…)
Remember those LORDS OF RINGS movies and books they used to have, about the magic ring that a bunch of little people had to throw into a volcano because it was so powerful it would warp the mind of even a good man, and dessicate him into a freaky, fish-munching Gollum? I always thought that story was supposed to be about the arms race, but it turns out the ring was actually a metaphor for The Lord of the Rings itself. The power of this thing has turned director Peter Jackson skinny and made him jones for his precious so bad that he’s adapted the first third of J.R.R. Tolkein’s 320 page children’s book The Hobbit into a 169 minute part 1-of-3 that’s somehow gonna have an additional 20-25 minutes added for video, meaning the full movie will likely end up being around 9 1/2 hours by the time the third blu-ray comes out around Christmas 2015. See, Jackson found a bunch of appendixes and supplemental materials, some recipes, golf score cards and a doodle of boobs that Tolkien drew on the back of an Arby’s menu, and he felt it was important to include all that. And in order to pack even more in he developed new technology to shoot at double the standard number of frames so that certain theaters willing to shell out the dough to upgrade their digital projectors can project it to look like a shitty shot-on-video mini-series or an HDTV somebody set up wrong because they didn’t know any better.
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