Posts Tagged '3D'

Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS

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Vader helmet

Welcome back, friends. Please forgive my lack of productivity in this space through pretty much all of 2015, but I’ve had quite a bit going on out in the real world. On top of that, I’m much more interested in creating my own work than I am reacting to the work of others, which is what I do most of the time on this blog. That’s a result of simply wanting to get things off my chest, and over the past year I’ve become pretty good about being able to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts contained inside my head. This is my first full review since I analyzed Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April of 2014. Fuck, it has been awhile, hasn’t it?

Reviewing Star Wars movies has always been tough for me. And by “tough”, I mean “nearly impossible”. The original trilogy, collectively, occupies the #1 slot on my list of favorite movies of all time. When I watch those movies, I don’t see actors and cinematography and writing, I am watching a story unfold, nothing more. I’m not thinking at all about how it was made. That’s because I became passionate about Star Wars before I knew I was passionate about filmmaking. When it comes to the prequels, I don’t like talking about them because of how disappointing they are. I’ve never gone as far as most in saying they outright suck, but I freely admit they are a mess. I can still watch them and enjoy doing so, but they don’t feel like the original movies at all, and I’d have a very tough time watching all 6 in order, because the gap in style, both visually and in storytelling, between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope would be too big a jump to make in my mind. I’m also bitter that the way Anakin Skywalker was handled in the prequels makes original trilogy Darth Vader much less badass, which is a cinematic felony.

On to current events! Back when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and sent George Lucas packing, I posted my reaction to the news [HERE] and then did another piece reacting to the announcement of J.J. Abrams as Episode VII’s director [HERE]. I originally pegged Abrams’ selection at only a 2% chance of happening. In hindsight, that was foolish, but I based that doubt on the fact that I refused to believe that they’d hire the same guy who rebooted Star Trek to also revive Star Wars. I viewed that as some sort of celestial paradox. Minus the Star Trek factor, I approved of Abrams doing this, and I still approve now after we’ve all seen the finished product. Episode VII needed to be directed by a Star Wars fan, and Abrams has proven his worthiness in that regard. In many people’s views, his love for the original films is too evident in Force Awakens, but we’ll get to that.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into it. Needless to say, SPOILERS APLENTY AHEAD!

Continue reading ‘Review: STAR WARS: EPISODE VII- THE FORCE AWAKENS’

Review: THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

Catching Fire poster

Hunger Games Yay

The Hungers Games: Catching Fire has arrived in theaters as the most anticipated studio film probably since The Avengers last year, and with Christopher Nolan‘s Batman series wrapped up, The Hunger Games may now be the most popular active movie franchise in America. In the U.S. at least, it’s bigger than any of Marvel’s individual franchises (including Iron Man). It’s bigger than Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s bigger than The Hobbit. It’s bigger than Transformers. It’s bigger than Bond or Star Trek or X-Men or Spider-Man or anything from Pixar. In fact, the first Hunger Games grossed more in the U.S. than any of the Harry Potter movies. And it’s outgrossed these movies without the use of 3D surcharges. Remarkable. I don’t pretend to know why any of this is true, but as Bill Belichick would say, it is what it is.

Continue reading ‘Review: THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE’

10 Directors Who Need a Serious Comeback

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how so many of the people who directed some of my all-time favorite movies are currently MIA or stuck making movies that are beneath their ability. (This is how most of these blogs begin- as random thoughts that I decide might be interesting to expound upon.) When I actually began listing them, I was shocked to learn how many of my favorite directors are no longer relevant or no longer making movies that live up to their former standards. As I got to writing about each individual director, I realized this conundrum has a lot to do with the current state of the studio system in Hollywood- and I’ll get into what I mean by that as we go along. To compile this list, all I really did was go through my megalist of all-time favorite movies (which has 500+ films on it and counting) and look to see who has a serious gap in quality on their recent filmography.

And by the way, before we get started, credit to Robert Zemeckis for making his triumphant return to live-action last year with Flight, or else he’d easily have been at the top of the list. Welcome back, Bob! Keep it up!

Inclusion on the list assumes this writer believes the director still has talent left.

In no particular order:

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 3 “Why am I listening to you when I could be underwater instead?”

Continue reading ’10 Directors Who Need a Serious Comeback’

Review: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

star trek into darkness poster final

Star Trek Into Darkness is my new favorite movie of 2013. It’s not the best movie of 2013 thus far (that would be Mud, a great little flick and the latest stop on the Epic Matthew McConaughey Comeback Tour), but I had a blasty blast watching J.J. Abrams‘ follow-up to his successful 2009 cinematic Star Trek revival. As many critics and old-school Star Trek diehards like to point out, Abrams’ version of Trek is very different in tone and style to the previous TV shows and films. I call it “Blockbuster Star Trek”. There’s a bigger emphasis on action and humor in these films, and less on actual science and the exploration of strange, new worlds. It’s easy to understand why this “dumbing down” of Star Trek would offend the diehards (a group I count myself a member of), but this new, glossed-up style is precisely the reason the 2009 film became accessible to modern summer audiences and grossed $257.7 million domestically, by far the biggest gross of all Trek movies. In other words, so long as Abrams is directing and/or producing this series with this cast, ain’t nothin changing, folks.

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Mini Reviews: THE GREAT GATSBY, PAIN & GAIN, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

As 2013 continues to slog along, I continue to wait for a truly great film to be released. On my nomination ballot for next year’s Biggie Awards, I still don’t have any movies under consideration for Best Picture, Director, or either screenplay categories. At this point, 2013 is looking a lot like 2009. Hopefully that changes in the coming weeks. Is Star Trek Into Darkness as good as J.J. Abrams‘ first Trek outing? Will Man of Steel live up to the fast-rising expectations? Please, movie gods, let’s hope so.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on 3 recent flicks that I’ve seen, none of which rocked my socks, but all of which are worthy of comment. Minor SPOILERS ahead.

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After being delayed 6 months from its original release, The Great Gatsby finally opened last week to a surprisingly strong $50 million weekend. The film is directed by Baz Luhrmann, who may be hit or miss, but one thing’s for sure; he’s a visionary, and I can appreciate that. His last film, 2008’s Australia, was a huge disappointment, but I’m a big fan of Romeo + Juliet (which began young Leonardo DiCaprio‘s meteoric rise as a heartthrob) and Moulin Rouge!, one of the best (and easily the most original) musicals of the last 20 years. He’s very much a love-him or hate-him kind of director, because his visual and editorial style is very IN YOUR FACE. In fact, I despised Moulin Rouge! after the first time I saw it- even going so far as to tell people it was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen, but for whatever reason, I gave it a second chance and “got it” the second time. Summed up, The Great Gatsby is very much a Baz Luhrmann film.

Continue reading ‘Mini Reviews: THE GREAT GATSBY, PAIN & GAIN, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES’

Jurassic Park & Me: 20 Years Later

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Chills.

My first viewing of Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park, on June 11, 1993, at the age of 13, at a sold out show in the biggest and best movie theater in my hometown, was one of the 5 most significant events of my life. At least half of the people I know today would not have met me were it not for that night. Continue reading ‘Jurassic Park & Me: 20 Years Later’

The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)

The 24th Annual Biggie Awards

aka The Biggies

for achievements in film for the year 2012

I’ll be the first to admit I had unfair expectations for 2012. Given the impressive roster of movies on tap, I predicted as early as April of 2011 that 2012 would be the best year in movies since 2000, which I consider to be the best year for movies in my lifetime. In the end, it wasn’t quite the year I wanted it to be, but it was still quite a year. Actually, by my official tally of new entries on my “Movies I Love” list, this was the best year for movies since 2007. I “loved” 24 movies in 2012 (for comparison, 2000 holds the record with 31). What I liked most about 2012 was that it had a lot of variety, as I think you’ll see reflected here in my nominees.

We’ll get into most of the specific films in the descriptions under each category, but there are a few things I want to mention up front.

Continue reading ‘The 2013 Biggie Awards (& My Top 10 of 2012)’


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