Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Big weekend for Mr. Stiller

The AP has reported that Terminator Salvation failed to beat out the latest installment of Night at the Museum.
Kind of a surprise since the first Night at the Museum barely broke 30 million in it's opening weekend. Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill have some amusing banter in the preview, but it looks like more of the same from the first one.
The long awaited Terminator sequel has failed to live up to the hype to many viewers, reviewers and now at the box office.
I'm wondering if that will have any effect on the now rumored T5 (whatever the title might end up) and if this less than hoped for opening weekend will make them rethink going with the same writers for T5 as they had on 3 and 4. We can only hope.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Terminator Salvation

McG sure loves to blow stuff up.
That really could sum up the latest installment in the cultural phenomenon that is Terminator. But that makes for a pretty dull review, so I'll expand a bit.
The most important fact is that Terminator Salvation is way better than T3 was. The special effects are the best of the series. The action sequences in this were about equal with Terminator 2, which is probably my personal favorite.
Decent performances from everyone in the cast, especially Christian Bale, Anton Yelchin and the little silent girl, Star, played by Jadagrace Berry, an apparent newcomer to the Hollywood scene.
The dialogue and story are the weak points. An overabundance of foreshadowing and explanation makes it seem like the writers (who also penned T3) think their audience is stupid.
Really stupid.
Which we very well might be for buying into the idea that this kind of apocalyptic darkness is less than 9 years from now.
As far as characters go, John Connor (Bale) is passable, but not terribly well developed. The savior complex aside, it seems like he's not got a whole lot going on. There is ample opportunity to expand and see some more depth to him, with his pregnant wife (Bryce Dallas Howard in a performance that deserved more screen time) and his teenage dad (Yelchin) and his immediate affection for Star (although who could possibly not love an adorable little mute girl). McG and his writers seem more intent on blowing stuff up to bother with that kind of storytelling.
Terminator Salvation gets a C+.
--John Berry, Online Editor--

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Star Trek

It is appropriate that since a reboot is the cure-all for most modern technology, that the new Star Trek reboot is a perfect remake of the classic series that set the bar for much of sci-fi to come after it.
J.J. Abrams directed a script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (the writing team behind Fringe, both Transformers movies 2007 and 2009, The Island and tons more). The new cast keeps what was good about the original series and gives it a modern update with fantastic special effects and modern storytelling.
Abrams and crew re-imagined the Trek universe with some time travel and actual scientific theory about black holes. The modern Trek tv shows have been known to integrate science into the storylines and embrace the smarter viewers without alienating viewers who were not up to snuff with the heavier theories behind it.
The new movie throws in the same intelligence and has enough action and a fast pace to draw the wide audience as well.
Right away, this movie grabs its audience and slams them hard with some pretty brutal action and raw emotional events that set the stage for a pretty complex story.
Fans of the classic series are up in arms about the retelling of the origins of these characters because they see the Roddenberry original as sacred and don't want it messed with. They are speculating about the new story and coming just short of crying blasphemy.
These people are crazy.
This reboot serves as an homage to the classic but manages to improve on all of the parts that were limited by the times and technology of the 1960s. The modern cast breath new life to dated characters and concepts that were so groundbreaking in their day that their fans are more loyal and dedicated now than they were in the original series run in 1966. Hopefully once these fans actually see the new Star Trek, they will realize the reverence that Abrams and crew hold for the original and embrace the new gang as much as the old gang.
The new Star Trek gets an A-.
--John Berry, Online Editor--

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Comic book nerds watch out

Swirling about the interwebs right now are whispers mixed with substantiated rumors about what effect the success of X-Men Origins: Wolverine is having on the future of the X-Men franchise.
The big news for nerds everywhere is the Deadpool solo flick. The official announcement is up on Marvel.com (HERE ). A high profile actor like Ryan Reynolds taking a small part like that in the Wolverine back-story film is more than likely just setting the stage for something more (like Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury in the easter egg scene following Iron Man which is foreshadowing a Nick Fury solo film and an Avengers movie). The story is that the success of Wolverine's opening has put the Deadpool movie on a front burner for Marvel.

Thor's Marvel movie is also the subject of a lot of speculation right now. Marvel is allegedly going to announce some casting decisions in the near future, with Kenneth Branagh signed on at the helm. EmpireOnline.com has that story.

A full slate of Avengers related stuff is also in the works, as listed on Imdb.com: Nick Fury, Iron Man 2 (and 3), Ant Man, Thor, Captain America and of course the complete Avengers movie.

None of these will probably live up to Batman's last two outings, but if Iron Man is any indication, Marvel will be working hard and delivering some good stuff.

Monday, May 4, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Comic book movies are always a sure fire way to get an audience. That audience is bound to simultaneously love and hate whatever is put on the screen. Thus is the curse of playing to the fanboys, a built in fan base that will be hypercritical of the movie, but still flock to see it.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is going to face the wrath of these fans this weekend.
The origin story of Logan, aka James Howlett, aka, Wolverine, aka Weapon X, is as convoluted at this point as it could possibly be. There are different tellings from different comic series that contradict certain points from one to the other, but this new retelling has the heart of it pretty straight. There are some missing characters and details, but director Gavin Hood took better care with the story and the characters than many directors would have.
Hood was at the helm for weightier pieces like Rendition and Tsotsi so a comicbook movie is an odd departure, and a wise choice for Marvel to start the Origins series with a character-centric telling rather than the action-centric one like the other X-Men movies.
Writing the Wolverine script was Skip Woods, who has a shorter resume including Hitman and Swordfish, and David Benioff, who penned the novel 25th Hour and screenplays for Troy and The Kite Runner. So right away, one can see where this movie was not destined to be a shoot-em-up explosion fest that people expect from many comic related movies.
This is actually where the movie's strengths lie, in the unexpected crew behind the wheel. It was a slightly different approach to the superhero genre with more attention paid to the characters than to the the special effects and battle scenes.
But that brings us to the weak points of the movie. There were some scenes that were seriously lacking in the special effects department to the point where obvious flaws were evident.
Other weak spots were the tertiary characters and their glossing over. Several of them were touched on and very quickly explained, but not well enough to warrant attention. This might have been for time constraints, or budget issues, but if they wanted to include more obscure characters like Deadpool, the Blob, Bolt or Emma Frost, there needs to be more explanation, or less explanation. Instead, they tell just enough about these characters to interest the audience, but not fully explain them.
Characters that would be looked at as secondary characters, like Gambit, Wraith and Col. Stryker were handled very well. Gambit played a big enough role in this to leave the possibility open for a larger examination in future X-Men movies, including the rumored Gambit movie that has been whispered about for years.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine gets a B-.
--John Berry, Online Editor--