Saturday, February 9, 2013

Forecast 2013 - Top 10 Anticipated Films

It seems that every year around this time we are looking ahead with wide-eyed optimism at the next twelve months of cinematic releases, hopeful that everything will meet or succeed impossible expectations. This year is no different. With The Avengers behind us, Marvel/Disney is busy at work building up for the next wave of superheroes to support the eventual sequel. This year will still see the release of the next in the Iron Man series as well as Thor: The Dark World, but this summer will be nothing compared to the stranglehold Marvel had on 2011.

This thinning out of comic book movies has paved the way for a good deal of original sci-fi and fantasy properties to fill up the coveted summer blockbuster slots. Just as M. Night Shyamalan dares show his face in Hollywood again with Will and Jaden Smith vehicle After Earth, Tom Cruise will be promoting his strangely similar Oblivion, from Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski. Even though these will most likely fail to deliver, it's good to see that we're starting to get to a place where original properties are getting prime summer release dates. It's the effort that counts, anyway. Right?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jack Reacher

Love him or hate him as a human being, Tom Cruise is one of the most powerful action stars in the business. This is evident in the opening credits to Jack Reacher, where you can view his name twice before any mention of writer/director Christopher McQuarrie or even the name of the film. Based on the story "One Shot" from Lee Child's anthology of Jack Reacher novels, the film follows the titular character, a tough-as-nails ex-military detective who drifts from place to place, solving crimes and kicking ass, all while taking sass from nobody.

I've never read a single Jack Reacher novel, but my understanding of the character is that he is a 6-foot-5 stacked brick-house of face-smashing man-meat. While the film was in pre-production, people were making a lot of noise about McQuarrie's choice to pick 5-foot-7, kind-hearted ol' Crazy Cruise for the role. Having no particular attachment to the character, this could not have been less of a problem for me. Cruise brings his A-game, cracking ribs, punching nuts, and delivering one-liner after one-liner in a way that recalls the classic action films of the 1980's and 90's. I never for a moment doubted that he was the one man army that he was written as.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 10 Movies of 2012

This last year proved to be a surprisingly entertaining year, although it was not without its disappointments. 2012 brought with it the sloppy and under-cooked return of sci-fi for Ridley Scott with Prometheus and the equally absurd and embarrassing finale to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. Even Sinister, the Ethan Hawke horror/thriller scripted by Ain't It Cool News critic C. Robert Cargill, failed to deliver on its promise to be a fresh installation to the genre despite early positive reviews from the festival circuit.

Although all was not horrible in this year prophesied to reign in the apocalypse. Marvel/Disney attempted what no other studio has done before and successfully merged a half-dozen properties, culminating in the superhero mega-movie The Avengers, a feat few were sure they could pull off. Not only did they succeed, they swept the box office for the year, raking in over a billion and a half dollars worldwide.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quick Thoughts: "The Thirteenth Floor" (1999)

I've finally been able to cross Josef Rusnak's The Thirteenth Floor off my "to-watch" list now that it's now on Netflix's instant stream service. The plot of this 1999 sci-fi thriller revolves around a corporation in the not-too-distant future that has developed a sort of parallel dimension modeled after the 1930's Los Angeles. After the man who put the whole operation together ends up stabbed in a back alley, one of his employees ventures into the program to find out clues as to why this happened and why he might be implicated as a suspect.

The first thing I noticed while watching is the uncanny similarity the plot bears to the Wachowski brothers' The Matrix (which released a mere 2 months before and clearly overshadowed this movie's release). While they certainly both deal with the concept of virtual reality and follow a protagonist searching to find meaning of life in a fabricated existence, The Thirteenth Floor accomplishes so much less with its clumsily-written script and vastly-inferior special effects. Even Alex Proyas's Dark City had better world-building (pun intended).

The film picks up a little towards the end when the plot makes an interesting, albeit mildly-predictable twist, but at the end of the day it's built from a science fiction tale we've heard time and time again. It's possible that when viewed through the lens of 1999, the film might have possibly seemed intriguing, but it's certainly not enough to prevent being swept under the rug in 2012.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Kill List (2011)

Ben Wheatley's Kill List tells the all-too-familiar tale of a contract killer pulled out of semi-retirement and tasked with performing "one last job". Jay (Neil Maskell) has been out of work for an extended length of time due to a work-related back injury he sustained during a mysterious rendezvous in Kiev. When money problems place pressure on his personal life, he accepts a proposition from long-time friend and fellow hit-man Gal (Michael Smiley, perhaps more widely known as Tyres on Edgar Wright's BBC series "Spaced"). What starts out as a seemingly straight-forward task gradually devolves into something much more terrifying as Jay's aggressive personality starts to surface.