In response to this summer’s lousy Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man (click here for my review), comes this great article on 10 Remakes that Got it Right. There are some really intriguing films on this list that I have never seen, but have been immediately placed on my “to-watch” list…
It’s old news by now, but I haven’t yet waxed poetic on this site about how excited I am that Peter Jackson has expanded his adaptation of The Hobbit from two films to a trilogy! Very exciting. The hints of obscure bits of story from the Lord of the Rings appendices that Mr. Jackson is going to be filming in order to flesh out the story are even more exciting still. The battle of Dol Goldur?? Awesome!!
The new X-Men film is going to be Days of Future Past??? That’s hugely exciting, but also very worrisome. Days of Future Past is one of the greatest X-Men stories (heck, one of the greatest comic book stories) of all time. The idea of that being adapted into a film is extraordinary!! Bravo to Bryan Singer and xx on taking on this iconic story. But the thought of a BAD version of Days of Future Past would be horrifying. I was burned by X3′s brutalization of the Dark Phoenix Saga (probably THE greatest X-Men story of all time), and that’s a pain not easily forgotten… I am crossing my fingers and toes about this one…
Speaking of Bryan Singer, why the heck is he still developing a Battlestar Galactica movie? Do we really need another version of Galactica, after Ron Moore’s fabulous TV series…? The only place to go is down…
I am excited to see DC’s upcoming animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal “Last Batman Story” The Dark Knight Returns. (DKR was a strong source of material for Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, as I noted in my review.) However, this first trailer leaves me underwhelmed in the extreme. This trailer should have been slow, spooky, and reverent, selling us on a world that had moved on without Batman. Instead, it seems to be selling a zippy animated adventure. I hope this doesn’t reflect the tone of the finished product.
In happier news — Larry David, Dave Mandel, Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer (key players on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland, Paul) are working together on a new movie for HBO? Can’t wait!!… [continued]
I know some people who can’t stand to see a movie a second time — they think “been there, done that, I’d rather see something new.” I certainly don’t have anything against seeing something new, but I’m also someone who loves seeing movies for a second time — and, if it’s a good movie, seeing it many more times after that! (I’m the same way with books, comic books, etc. — I love re-reading stories that I enjoyed multiple times.)
I find that my feelings upon watching a film for a second time often vary wildly from the experience of seeing it originally. I can absorb the film without all the baggage of hype, my anticipation, etc. I can also more accurately judge the movie for what it is, rather than what I had hoped it would be or was expecting it would be.
During September I had a chance to take a second look at three films that I really enjoyed during last year’s Oscar rush of films (in late December 2008). Did my feelings about them change, for better or for worse, upon a second viewing? Read on!
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button — read my original review here. Benjamin Button was one of my very favorite movies from last year (it ranked as no. 6 on my list of my favorite films from 2008) and, if anything, I was even more in awe of it the second time around. The film is magnificent. It is one of those special collaborations where every single element works just perfectly, from the gorgeous sets and costumes, to the jaw-dropping visual effects (that create fully-realized environments from France to Russia to a tug-boat in the middle of the Pacific, not to mention the completely convincing creation and de-aging of Benjamin Button himself that is as wonderful a combination of makeup, prosthetics, and incredible CGI as I have ever seen), to the wonderful performances by Brad Pitt (who proves in every film he’s in why he is so deserving of his movie-star fame), Cate Blanchett, and a wonderful array of other talented actors. Director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) knows how to incorporate cutting-edge visual effects into a film without ever letting those effects overpower the film, and he knows how to tell a deeply emotional tale without ever veering into schmaltz. As I said: magnificent. (I also had the fun of watching this film on Blu-Ray, and let me say that my jaw was on the floor at the clarity of the images, the colors, everything. As the enclosed booklet notes, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was created in the digital realm without ever … [continued]
Bryan Singer’s film Valkyrie has been getting a bit hammered in the press lately. (Actually, I feel like I’ve been reading bad things about this movie for over a year, mostly in connection to the multiple shifts in its release date, which usually indicates a studio’s having lost faith in the film.) I think a lot of people felt that the do-no-wrong wunderkind who made The Usual Suspects and the first two enormously successful X-Men films had stumbled a bit with Superman Returns, and they smelled blood in the water. That pile-on attitude also extended to the film’s star, Tom Cruise, who as I’m sure you all know has had a rough time of it over the past year or two in the press.
Well, I’d advise you to leave those pre-conceived negative notions at the door, because Bryan Singer, Tom Cruise, and a phenomenal ensemble of British actors have made a fine film for you to enjoy.
Valkyrie re-tells the true story of the group of German officers who, in 1944, attempted to kill Hitler and wrest control of Germany from the SS. I don’t think I have to tell you that the plan failed.
Much of the criticism of the film has centered on the casting of Tom Cruise as the central figure in the story, Claus von Stauffenberg. Since one would be hard pressed to name an actor who seems more strongly associated with modern-day America (maybe Will Smith??), he seemed a bizarre choice to play the German main character. Furthermore, he is surrounded by a cadre of other familiar, mostly British faces as his German co-conspirators. If you closed your eyes while watching this film it would be difficult to guess that you’re watching a movie about Germans.
But everyone should just relax about this. The film makes clear early on that everything is meant to be taking place in German (by fading from the German dialogue of the opening moments into English). Far from a hindrance, I actually think casting the main group of Germans with American and British actors is a smart idea — it makes it easier for the audience to connect with and sympathize with these characters, which is important for our engagement with the story being told. Would this film be a stronger movie if it was all told in German with English subtitles? I don’t think it would.
Frankly, the biggest thing that Valkyrie has going against it is it’s release date. By coming out at this time of year, surrounded by so many other SERIOUS-with-capital-letters Oscar-hopeful films, it becomes easy to dismiss. Because, while this film does have something to say, and an important story to tell, this … [continued]