Tag Archives: Bryan Cranston

[Trailer] – World War Z

8 Nov

World War Z was supposd to premiere this year, but the production was troubled, the script needed rewrites, the film needed reshoots. That obviously makes one skeptical, but now it’s set to premiere next summer and the first trailer for it has just been released.

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[Review] – Argo

22 Oct

Title: Argo
Year: 2012
Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Chris Terrio, based on the article by Joshuah Berman
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Clea DuVall, Kyle Chandler, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Michael Parks, Taylor Schilling, Chris Messina, Richard Kind, Titus Welliver, Kerry Bishé, Philip Baker Hall
MPAA Rating: R, language and some violent images
Runtime: 92 min
IMDb Rating: 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Metacritic: 86

In 2007 there was an article called ‘How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran’ written by Joshuah Berman and published in Wired magazine. I say this first because, if you have or haven’t seen Argo, the masterful new film by Ben Affleck, please Google that article, it’s a fascinating read. So fascinating, in fact, that George Clooney and his business partner, Grant Heslov, were drawn to it and set it up as Mr. Affleck’s third directorial effort after Gone Baby Gone and The Town.

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[Review] – Total Recall

9 Aug

Title: Total Recall
Year: 2012
Director: Len Wiseman
Writers: Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, based on a screen story by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Jon Povil and Mr. Wimmer, inspired by a short story by Philip K. Dick
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language
Runtime: 118 min
IMDb Rating: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Metacritic: 44

The original Total Recall movie, the one from 1990 that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and was directed by Paul Verhoeven, was a huge commercial hit and stands as one of the seminal science-fiction movies of the past few decades. The new Total Recall, the one we’re getting now in 2012 that stars Colin Farrell and is directed by Len Wiseman, will have to be lucky to get back its production budget, and will be forgotten by the time the year ends. That’s just the truth of the matter; yes, there are a couple of slick action set pieces, but what really made the original so great, the humor and the fully dimensional characters and that awesome plot, is just nowhere to be found here.

Now, to be fair to this one, this one isn’t a reboot of the 1990 movie as much as it is just another interpretation of “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, the 1966 Philip K. Dick short story that serves as inspiration for both of these films. So yeah, there are differences between the two movies, so you could make the point that you can’t compare them fairly because of that, but, I mean, even if this was a super faithful adaptation of the Paul Verhoeven film, it wouldn’t stand a chance.

It sucks, by the way, that this film didn’t turn out nicely. I mean, the trailer looked slick but it also got me thinking that this one was just trying too hard to be a sci-fi blockbuster, but I still wanted this one to succeed because I think big-budget sci-fi films are awesome when they’re done right, and because I really liked some of the people involved with this one. I mean, Colin Farrell may not be the best actor in the world for the most part, but not only do I really like the guy, but I’ve seen him be absolutely stellar in Martin McDonagh‘s brilliant In Bruges, and even if that’s been his only truly impeccable performance, one of his other good ones was in Minority Report, which was also based on a Philip K. Dick story. And then there’s the fact that Bryan Cranston plays the villain here, and I can always get behind more Bryan Cranston on our screens.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this Total Recall is just absolutely horrible, I’m just saying that it could have been far, far better, and that I personally wouldn’t recommend it. Now, I do, however, think that if for some unthinkable reason you haven’t seen the original Total Recall, then this one might actually work for you. It might work because you won’t really know exactly what you’re missing, you might think the twists these one throws at you are cool even though they are absolutely nothing compared to the super intricate mind games and plotting the one that came over two decades ago presented you with. This may somewhat work as a sci-fi movie, it just doesn’t work as one with that title it has.

The film is set at the end of the century, after a global chemical war has split the world into two superpowers, the United Federation of Britain and The Colony. The character Mr. Farrell plays, Douglas Quaid, is a factory worker in The Colony who’s tired with his monotonous life (which seems impossible since his wife is played by Kate Beckinsale) and goes to Rekall, a company that implants whatever memories you wish into your brain so that your life seems a bit cooler. As you might imagine, the second Quaid makes that decision, to have the memories of secret spy implanted onto his brain, things start going horribly wrong for him.

So the film goes off from there, and one good thing you can say about it is that at least it never stops going, it’s just action-y stuff from then on. Though, of course, it’s PG-13 action that’s sort of safe for kids, and not the R-rated spectacle that was the original; again, if you haven’t seen the 1990 film then chances are you’ll have a much better time with this one. But we follow Mr. Farrell along anyways, as he starts realizing that everything he thinks he knows about himself is a lie, that all of his life has been implanted on his brain, and that’s he right in the middle of a struggle between a totalitarian movement and the resistance.

It also looks pretty slick. The hover cars are as awesome as ever because that’s just a sci-fi staple that you can’t go wrong with, and director Len Wiseman (who’s married to Ms. Beckinsale in real-life, the lucky bastard) and his crew make the world look like you would expect it to. It just sucks that the characters are so busy falling and shooting and driving like crazy in it, and we don’t really get any kind of real development among them. Don’t get me wrong, I love the action sequences in sci-fi movies as much as the next guy, but they’re so much better when the stakes are higher, when you have a human connection to these characters so that the big set pieces actually matter.

This new Total Recall is a far cry from the 1990 one. It doesn’t have a trip to Mars, it doesn’t have Ah-nuld, and it doesn’t have an emotional impact like the original did. So, no, this remake or reboot or whatever you want to call it is not necessary in the slightest. I appreciated the attempt, though, I think sci-fi movies with a budget like this one should be made, and I think the attempt was honorable because there were some really neat ideas here. It’s just a pity that they weren’t really explored at all.

Grade: C+

[Review] – Rock Of Ages

25 Jun

Title: Rock Of Ages
Year: 2012
Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo and Allan Loeb, based on the musical book by Mr. D’Arienzo
Starring: Diego Boneta, Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Malin Akerman, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Will Forte
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking, and language
Runtime: 123 min
IMDb Rating: 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Metacritic: 47

I never really expected to like Rock of Ages because from every promotional stuff I had seen it just didn’t look like it would be any good. And yet by the time it was done, even if it wasn’t really a good movie, I realized that it had actually managed to win me over at a couple of points during its running time. There were a few instances in which it had me going because of how totally silly and over-the-top it all was, but then a few minutes passed and I realized how totally unnecessary and inconsequential this stage-to-screen adaptation was. Maybe if this film hadn’t been so long, clocking in at over two hours, I wouldn’t have noticed that as much and had a better time with all of these actors, some of them top notch, singing along to the cheesiest 80’s songbook around.

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[Review] – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

19 Jun

Title: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Year: 2012
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon
Writers: Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach, based on the characters by Mr. Darnell and Tom McGrath
Starring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Bryan Cranston, Jessica Chastain, Martin Short, Paz Vega, Frances McDormand
MPAA Rating: PG, some mild action and rude humor
Runtime: 93 min
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Metacritic: 59

The Madagascar franchise hasn’t been groundbreaking or anything, but it’s actually hard to find much fault with any of it, plus it’s pretty damn successful so it’s not like it’s stopping any time soon. The first film came in 2005 and made over $530 million worldwide, then three years after that we got the second one, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and that made over $600 million all around the world. So yeah, they’re profitable; not to mention that, to me personally, the second one was actually also an improvement in quality over the first one, which was still quite decent.

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[Trailer] – Argo

8 May

When Ben Affleck decided to start directing films people were quite doubtful about the prospect. After all, the stench of Gigli still surrounded the guy’s name. But then his directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone came out in 2007 and it was an absolutely brilliant film. Then The Town came out in 2010 and it only extended his streak (I gave it an A and ranked it as my 14th favorite film of that year). So, because of that, his follow-up, Argo, has always been one of my most anticipated films of 2012, I want him to go 3-for-3. And if the just released trailer for it, which you can watch after the cut, is any indication, we’re in for another winner from him.

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[Review] – Detachment

12 Apr

Title: Detachment
Year: 2012
Director: Tony Kaye
Writer: Carl Lund
Starring: Adrien Brody, James Caan, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, Marcia Gay Harden, Tim Blake Nelson, Bryan Cranston, Sami Gayle, William Petersen, Blythe Danner
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime: 100 min
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Metacritic: 53

Tony Kaye is the man that made his directorial debut with American History X back in 1998, which is a film I’m a huge fan of, providing just immensely compelling storytelling, anchored by a pretty masterful performance from Edward Norton. After such a hugely provocative debut, Mr. Kaye took his time to deliver a follow-up, eight years to be exact, and when he did it was with a documentary, Lake of Fire, which was another very powerful effort from the director, this time taking a riveting look at abortion in the United States.

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