Five for the Fifth: JUNE 2013 edition

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Hello folks, welcome to the 6th Five for the Fifth of the year!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

Wahlberg_2Guns1. Today Mark Wahlberg turns 42! It’s funny how I first noticed this Boston-native when he was still Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch. Well, he’s certainly has come a long way from that as he’s now been quite a force to be reckoned with as a movie star, even garnering critical reception with not one but TWO Oscar nominations for The Departed and The Fighter.

Now, I haven’t seen any of his latest films, I mean Broken City and Pain & Gain just didn’t appeal to me. I might rent the later as it looks pretty hilarious. Interestingly enough, Wahlberg’s latest films have consist of him being paired with another movie star. Russell Crowe in Broken City, Dwayne Johnson in Pain & Gain, and now he’s paired up with Denzel Washington in what appears to be an action comedy where he & Denzel played A DEA agent and an undercover Naval Intelligence officer being set up by the mob.

Check out the trailer:

Looks like it’s more of a rental for me. I’ve only seen about 10 of Wahlberg’s movies so far, and I think my favorites are The Fighter and The Other Guys, yes I know, it couldn’t be more different from each other, but I actually think Wahlberg’s quite fun to watch in comedies, though generally he doesn’t really have much range, ahah.

So what’s YOUR favorite Mark Wahlberg’s movie? Will you be watching 2 Guns?

……


2. Now, for my second question, I’m actually borrowing from the Twitter #MTOS series (Movie Talks on Sunday) which you should absolutely follow if you haven’t already. This past weekend, the focus was on Christopher Nolan, hosted by @Pandadeer. I particularly like this question:

Nolan is known for returning to the same pool of actors; who would you like to see added to it?

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Nolan with his Batman posse

I like Andrew’s answer below, esp. one about Lazenby:

Recently Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain have joined Nolan’s upcoming sci-fi film Interstellar. Though of course he still has his regular go-to actor Michael Caine in his cast. Now these would be my top 5 wishlist for Nolan to consider: Richard Armitage, Clive Owen, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Helen Mirren.

What about you? Which actors would you like to see working with Chris Nolan?


3. It’s been a while since I talk about Bond on this blog! Well, there have been some developments on Bond 24. As you might’ve read on Terrence’s Movie News Monday, Sam Mendes is expected to return in the director’s chair for both Bond 24 and Bond 25, so probably until the end of Daniel Craig’s reign as Bond.

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Now, we’ve also got news that Spanish beauty Penelope Cruz has been cast as Bond girl! Wow, so they’re upping the ante as far as getting more quality performers in Bond movies. I mean, Cruz is an Oscar winner for Vicky Cristina Barcelona and has been nominated three times for an Academy Award. Funny that Daniel Craig is probably the first Bond ever to be seduced by a team of husband and wife, ahah. Cruz’s real-life hubby Javier Bardem sort of put the moves on Bond in Skyfall, remember? :D

Well, most of you might not know this, but this won’t be Cruz’ first time appearing with a Bond actor. As a Timothy Dalton fanatic, I also noticed her brief appearance as Dalton’s girl in the British miniseries FRAMED back in 1992. As Lola Del Moreno, her character name is almost Bond Girl-ish too, no? It’s a great crime/thriller series if you haven’t seen it, fantastic performance by Dalton and David Morrissey.

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In any case, what’s your thoughts on Mendes coming back and Cruz as the next Bond girl?


4. Now this is a film that wasn’t on my radar previously but boy, I love the pairing of Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in this intriguing crime drama CLOSED CIRCUIT.

ClosedCircuit

Martin and Claudia are lawyers — and ex-lovers — who find themselves put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist’s trial.

I was quite impressed with director John Crowley, who did this great indie Boy A with Andrew Garfield (which could be his breakthrough role) and Peter Mullan. We’ve also got the script by Steve Knight (Amazing Grace, Eastern Promises) and a slew of great character actors Ciarán Hinds, Riz Ahmed, Anne-Marie Duff, Julia Stiles and Jim Broadbent. I was VERY impressed by Ahmed in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in another film.

What do you think of this  movie? Does it appeal to you?


5. Now, last but not least. Time for some TV updates. Yes, I know I’m quite terrible with keeping up with TV shows, but with Karl Urban, this just might be the new show I’d be [trying] to watch regularly this Fall.

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We’ve got some detailed synopsis from Teaser-trailer.com:

The year is 2048. John Kennes (Urban), a cop who survived one of the most catastrophic attacks ever made against the police department, wakes up from a 17-month coma, he can’t remember much – except that his partner was killed. Because of the attack he lost one of his legs and is now outfitted with a highly sophisticated synthetic appendage.

Now by mandate, every cop must partner with a robot. And despite his passionate aversion to androids, John is paired up with Dorian (Michael Ealy), a discontinued android with unexpected emotional responses. Although such responses were deemed flaws, it is in these ‘flaws’ that John relates to Dorian most. After all, John is part-machine now, and Dorian is part-human. John and Dorian’s understanding of each other not only complements them, it connects them.


This definitely looks very promising and the set pieces looks pretty sleek. I do realize that with a lot of these shows, the premise and promo seems to be more compelling right off the bat. The show’s created by the same folks behind the popular FOX sci-fi Fringe, J.H. Wyman & J.J. Abrams.

I’ll definitely give this one a shot. I mean a futuristic sci-fi + Karl Urban already sounds like a winner to me :D

Well, now my last question to you is two-fold: Are you excited about this show? Otherwise, what’s the TV show you’re looking forward to most this coming Fall season?


That’s it for the JUNE 2013 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these subjects.

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Somehow JJ Abrams & co. made me interested in the Star Trek universe

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Well, one of my most anticipated movies of the first half of the year has come and gone. I finally saw Star Trek Into Darkness Wednesday night and you know what, despite the huge hype machine working overtime for this film, this film somehow lives up to it. So yeah, I really enjoyed it.  Instead of doing a straight review, I feel like jotting down my change of heart of sort, in regards to this franchise.

Now, Star Trek fever has been high the past few weeks not only because of the studio’s marketing machine, but also sparked by various bloggers and sites posting all kinds of Star Trek-related stuff in anticipation for the new movie. Strangely enough, instead of being blasé or even rolling my eyes about the whole thing, for once I was actually intrigued. I guess it was started back in 2009 when I saw JJ Abrams’ Star Trek for the first time. For some reason, the whole franchise sort of eluded me when I was growing up, as I had never followed any of the TV series nor seen any of the previous films. Ok I did see clips of the 1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, this Spock swimming with the Whale scene is such a hoot! It’s one of the best ‘fish out of water’ comedic scenes ever, pardon the pun :D

Oh and I did see the comedy satire Galaxy Quest which is not only hilarious but spot on – one doesn’t have to be a Trekkie to recognize the obvious subject of its parody. Nonetheless, I was practically Star Trek virgin four years ago. The only ‘knowledge’ I knew of Star Trek is from pop culture, the iconic phrase Live long and prosper, the Vulcan salute that I have to admit I have trouble doing, that Spock & Kirk are cross-species BFF and that Klingons are their longtime nemesis. But other than that, I’ve no clue about their universe, so I’ve got to admit that whole Spock + Spock scene in the first movie was quite discombobulating for me. My hubby had to explain a lot of the basic Star Trek 101 and all the jargon, ahah. I guess perhaps his enthusiasm might’ve rubbed off on me a bit, but I think it’s more than that.

As I mentioned in my review of the 2009 version, I think the casting and the chemistry of the cast is what I really enjoyed about the film. But what I didn’t mention then is how timeless the story of Star Trek stories, depicting the adventures of this group of humans and aliens on board the Enterprise spaceship. The underlying themes war and peace, loyalty, personal courage, the role of technology, etc. are human motifs that still relevant to this day, but of course it’s now enveloped in a shiny and cool wrapping with the latest special effects and gadgetry… oh and of course, sprinkled with lots and lots of lens flares! ;)

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Thankfully Abrams’ obsession with the lens flare didn’t bother me as it did in the first movie (maybe I just chose to ignore ‘em), but what we still get in this sequel is the zippy and fun tone, boosted by the chemistry of its cast and spectacular special effects. Despite the title, the movie is really not as dark as we’re led to believe. Yes it’s slightly darker than the first, but by no means grim. Everything I like about the first movie is present, the bromance between Spock and Kirk are funnier and snarkier – Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine are one of those perfect casting choice that gets even better the more I watch them together. More screen time for Karl Urban’s McCoy (yay) and also Simon Pegg’s Scotty relishing in his Scottish brogue whilst being in a hysterical state of panic for most of the movie.

Cumberbatch_StarTrekIntoDarknessBut really, the REAL star of Star Trek Into Darkness is the villain. Much like The Dark Knight‘s The Joker, Benedict Cumberbatch villainous turn as the intergalactic terrorist John Harrison stole all kinds of scenes every time he’s on screen! As the superior being – in every way, as the character pompously claim – Cumberbatch is such a perfect choice for the role and he brings that same cocksure swagger from his role as Sherlock Holmes. Yes his delivery is a bit too theatrical, perhaps intentionally so, but there’s no denying his screen charisma. Cumberbatch is unconventionally good looking, but he made those who are classically handsome oh so boring! Oh, and I think there should be law that require him to wear long, cape-like coat in every movie, yes?

I think in terms of the characterization of the villain, it’s definitely an improvement over the first (no offense Eric Bana!). Somehow Cumberbatch’s role isn’t the typical two dimensional bad guy hellbent on destruction, though certainly it’s not an excuse on his means he chose for his mission. What really works is how the series of destructive events truly test those in leadership roles of the Starfleet, particularly Kirk as he often has to make split-second decisions with the crew’s life hanging in the balance. Despite the eye-popping action in 3D (those warm-speed scenes are pure geek-gasm stuff), sleek set pieces and futuristic fashion, it’s not really style-over-substance (thank goodness!). I’d readily give the movie a 4.5/5 rating!

Thanks to the trio of writers Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci in creating a reboot that still pays homage to the original, but yet feels fresh and cool. In a way, it’s kind of like the motto that Gene Roddenberry created back in 1966.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Well, one thing for sure, the journey of the Enterprise crew seems endless. With a projected box office take of $100 mil in four days, even without Abrams at the helm (as he’d be too preoccupied with yet another behemoth franchise Star Wars), we’re likely to see more sequels in the works. Hey I’m fine with that, fingers crossed that somehow Cumberbatch would return as well?

StarTrek_OriginalTNG

In the meantime, I’m inclined to check out previous Star Trek films, starting with the original William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (particularly The Wrath of Khan) . Then later on I might move on with The Next Generation with Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, especially since Keith highly recommended Star Trek: First Contact.

So I guess thanks to Mr. Abrams bold and exciting voyage, I just might jump into the Star Trek bandwagon after all. No, I don’t think I’ll be a Trekkie nor would I start be buying a Captain Kirk action figure any time soon, but somehow now I see this 47 year-old franchise in a whole new light :D


So tell me where do you stand in regard to this sci-fi franchise? Let me know your thoughts on Star Trek Into Darkness, too!

I watched the Superbowl for the trailers… specifically Star Trek Into Darkness & The Lone Ranger

Superbowl2013I barely watched the Superbowl, maybe only for 5 minutes when the Baltimore Ravens’ QB threw a 40+ yards touchdown pass. I’ve only watched the biggest sporting game show for the ads, and now that I’ve got a movie blog, for the movie trailers! The power outage cracked me out though, someone tweeted that he’s expecting Bane to come out, ahah. Yeah it probably could be happen in the next superhero flick. Anyway, Congrats Baltimore Ravens … and Ray Lewis, what a way to end his NFL career!

Well, a boat load of trailers were released during the game, and two starring Dwayne Johnson: Snitch and Fast & Furious 6, neither one is my cup of tea. Then there’s Iron Man 3, Oz the Great and Powerful, and World War Z. I’m curious about Oz but the trailer isn’t that much different from the one I’ve posted here.

Now, these two on the other hand, got me quite excited and I wish this were released this weekend instead of in two months time!

Star Trek Into Darkness – Super Bowl TV Spot

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

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I’m no trekkie but I love JJ Abram’s Star Trek movie. It was just so fun to watch and I quite like Chris Pine as Capt. Kirk. Now we’ve got a nemesis that should match his know-it-all “I am better at everything” cockiness, in the form of the BBC Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch. LOVE his gorgeous voice narrating this trailer and though I’m bummed not seeing Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy in the trailer.

Not sure who Benedict’s character is exactly… Khan or no Khan… it really doesn’t matter much to me. I expect this to be yet another entertaining action flick (and more lens flares of course! :D) Curious to see if Pine and Cumberbatch would have a mano-a-mano in the movie.

“Shall we begin?”

Why yes! Too bad we still have to wait until 17 May 2013!!


The Lone Ranger Game Day Spot

Native American spirit warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

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This looks like the quintessential buddy flick a la Lethal Weapon. Armie Hammer is becoming an actor I like to see on screen as he’s proven to be more than a pretty face, and I think he has the charisma of a leading man. Now surely that’s quite tough to do when you’ve got such a major movie star Johnny Depp as the sidekick Tonto. Depp seems to be right in his element playing a strange looking, wisecracking character, and he seems to have a good chemistry with Hammer. I have to admit I’m not a fan of Gore Verbinski’s most popular franchise Pirates of the Carribean, and I thought Rango was only funny in parts, but this certainly looks promising. Of course Disney also hopes this would be a hit given its hefty $250 mil budget (seriously?!)

Anyway, this trailer is pretty fun to watch. Let’s hope the movie itself will be too!


What do you think of these trailer folks? Feel free to share your favorite Superbowl movie trailers!

10 Most-Anticipated Movies of the First Half of 2013 (Jan – June)

Ok, Day 3 of 2013 hasn’t left yet where I live, but I’m already anticipating a slew of movies coming out later this year. To make the list more manageable though, I’m breaking it down to two parts. Here’s 10 that’s scheduled to be released (except for one that’s TBD) between January to June.

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January

Zero Dark Thirty (Jan 13)

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong


Granted I wasn’t in love with The Hurt Locker like a lot of people did, but one thing I do appreciate is Kathryn Bigelow’s skills as a filmmaker. She’s one of the best directors out there that can direct dynamic action sequences and she’s got the cojones to tackle a controversial topic. This film reunites her with The Hurt Locker‘s screenwriter Mark Boal and boasts a great cast! I’m a fan of Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton, so yeah, I’m super curious to see this. Granted we likely won’t get a balanced viewpoint on this ripped-from-the-headlines story, but should be an intriguing piece nonetheless.


March

Dead Man Down (March 8)

In New York City, a crime lord’s right-hand man is seduced by one of his boss’s victims, a woman seeking retribution.

Director: Niels Arden Oplev
Starring: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert

Oplev is the director of the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now, even though that film is not my cup of tea, I’m quite intrigued by this story. The trailer looks pretty intense, albeit a bit too revelatory. We’ll see how violent it is though, I might just rent it if it’s too much for my nerves. I do like the cast, Rapace was impressive in Prometheus and Farrell and Cooper are two of the coolest Brit and Irish exports working today.

Oz: The Great and Powerful (March 8)

A stage magician is hurled into a fantasy world, and must use his wits to stay ahead of three enchantresses who have plans for him.

Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Bruce Campbell


You’re probably surprised I put this here since I actually have not seen The Wizard of Oz (yep, that’s true). But I like Sam Raimi and the female cast looks pretty darn good. The trailer promises a visual spectacle, and the story reminds me a bit of Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, though probably less surreal than the Terry Gilliam’s movie. Anyway, it would’ve been awesome to see Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp who were at one time linked to this project though. But Raimi and Franco did work together before in the Spider-Man movies.


April

Oblivion (April 26)

One of the few remaining drone repairmen assigned to Earth, its surface devastated after decades of war with the alien Scavs, discovers a crashed spacecraft with contents that bring into question everything he believed about the war, and may even put the fate of mankind in his hands.

Director: Joseph Kosinki
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau


Another Tom Cruise movie in which he’s playing another character named Jack?? That’s what I thought when I saw the trailer but when it’s over, I actually found it intriguing. Visually it has an epic feel to it and everything with Morgan Freeman should be good, no? :) It’s interesting to note that this was based on Radical Comics graphic novel that the TRON: Legacy director Kosinski himself wrote with Arvid Nelson. MTV had an interview with Kosinski on how the story came about for the graphic novel:

“I started writing this small character-driven science fiction story that was in the vein of those science fiction films of the 1970s that involved this lone survivor among the ruins of civilization, like ‘Mega Man’ or ‘Silent Running’ — it was kind of in that vein. I thought if it was going to be my first movie it would have to be something very small and contained in order to even get a chance at pulling it off. So it’s the story of a drill repair man, Jack Harper, who is one of the last human beings left on earth after a massive war, which was the result of an alien invasion. Even though humankind won the war, Earth was left in such a state that we had to look for another place to settle, and Jack is left behind to monitor and secure the resource gathering operation that’s happening where we’re gathering the last bit of energy out of the earth’s seawater in order to move onto the next step.”

Well, let’s hope it won’t disappoint like TRON: Legacy did!


May

The Great Gatsby (May 10)

Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carrey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton


I’ve covered this one extensively exactly year ago, but the release was delayed significantly. I never got around to reading the book but I’m still excited for this. It’s been a while since I’m excited for a Leo DiCaprio movie, but he looks pretty good as the mad billionaire Jay Gatsby. He seems to have a believable chemistry with the lovely Carey Mulligan, and Tobey seems perfectly cast as the Midwesterner Nick Caraway who’s inexplicably drawn into the world of glitz, glamor and madness! I’m optimistic this would be more like Moulin Rouge! than Australia.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana


It’s Sherlock terrorizing a whole star fleet, perhaps he can actually outwit Mr. Spock? ;) Kidding aside, I think this looks awesome! Well I love the original and the charismatic cast is set to be on board again, yay! I know all the lads are all pining for the pretty blue-eyed Capt. Kirk but for me it’s all about Dr. McCoy (the gorgeous Karl Urban, natch!).

,,,


June

Much Ado About Nothing (June 7)

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz

No trailer available that I could find (which is odd since the film has premiered at TIFF), but here’s a Toronto interview of Whedon with two of the major cast Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg:


From a band of superheroes to Shakespeare? That Josh is one versatile dude! Apparently the movie adaptation took place at Joss Whedon’s residence, in Santa Monica, and was filmed entirely in black-and-white over 12 days. It currently has a pretty high Rotten Tomatoes rating so far. Curious to hear what fellow Marvel director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) thinks of this? ;)


Man of Steel (June 14)

An alien infant is raised on Earth, and grows up with superhuman abilities. He sets out to use these abilities to guard his adopted world.

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne


If there is ONLY one movie I could see in 2013, let it be this one! When I saw this full trailer during my vacation I literally went berserk! My undying love for the Kryptonian hero dated all the way back to when I was only 3 years old. I even had the Superman suit and everything. Yes, Superman Returns was rather disappointing, but that was a different era. It’s now Superman Begins, ehm, a collaboration between the DC-savior Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder. Of course I’ve got to mention one of my Brit crushes Henry Cavill, a man so gorgeous it’s out of this world ;) I’m glad Snyder doesn’t make him look like some pretty boy though, he sure looks pretty darn rugged in and out of that bad ass new suit.

Nolan had a lot of positive things to say about Snyder. As quoted by THR, ““Zack was the perfect man to take this on,” Nolan says. “He is unbelievably skilled at creating a coherent, cohesive world — whether it’s a very stylized world, like 300, or something that’s more challenging, more varied, like he did with Watchmen.” He also praised how Snyder handled Man of Steel itself:

“In my honest appraisal, taking on Superman and creating that world is far more difficult than creating the world of the Dark Knight. He has a lot of finishing to do on the movie — it has a very long post-production schedule because, unlike Batman, Superman flies… I try to be as supportive as I can, and I’m just amazed by what he is doing. It’s not something I would know how to do.”

Of course Mr. Nolan is being modest. I think he very well could tackle Superman but hey, having him as the consultant on the project is a very good thing. I can hardly wait for this!!


Monsters University (June 21)

A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

Director: Dan Scanlon
Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi


Mike Wazowski is one of my all time favorite Pixar characters so surely I’m excited for this! The latest promo clip is such a hoot, man I’d go to MU for sure if I could hang out with Mike and Sully! :) Normally I’m not fond of sequels but I love the first movie so much and I trust that Pixar would come up with a pretty clever and fun story this time around.


Ok, this one hopefully would come out in the first half of the year, though kinda unlikely given how Terrence Malick likes to tinker with editing his movies :D Before I get to Knight of Cups, the one Malick movie that would sure hit theaters in April 12 in To The Wonder, starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko (who turns out to be the real lead). It premiered at TIFF and Ryan at The Matinee has the review here.

I might check that one out but I REALLY want to see this one:

Knight of Cups (TBD)

A story of a man, temptations, celebrity, and excess.

Director: Terrence Malick
Starring: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Imogen Poots, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas

The first time I heard about this one in 2011 when I posted about it along with another Malick’s project in the works. I read several reports recently and it sounds like this film is set against the backdrop of the movie business. I’m guessing Bale plays some sort of celebrity surrounded by beautiful women as his life spins out of control?? Of course that’s a wild guess without a real synopsis, trailer, nor even a poster! There are a boat load of on-set pics on Google though.

Check out some behind-the-scenes pics I found of Bale with a bunch of his female co-stars:

KnightOfCupsSetPics

Man, that cast is just awesome isn’t it? I’m most excited to see Bale co-starring with Blanchett. It’s been far too long since I saw her on screen besides her brief appearance in The Hobbit. The plethora of actors sounds like a Woody Allen ensemble-cast movie, the movie also stars Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Teresa Palmer, Ryan O’Neal, Jason Clarke, Joel Kinnaman and Shea Whigham. I hope this one gets a release date real soon, come on Mr. Malick, get crackin’ :D

Honorable Mentions:

  • Welcome to The Punch
  • Gangster Squad
  • Broken City
  • Stoker
  • Olympus Has Fallen
  • Trance
  • Iron Man 3


Well, that’s just what I’m looking forward to in the next six months. Which one(s) are you most excited about?

Tube Watch: Thoughts on JJ Abrams’ ALCATRAZ

All right, after months without a show to get excited about, finally Alcatraz arrives. I blogged about this back in September. Basically it’s a procedural mystery thriller with elements of time travel thrown in… the trailer promises all kinds of twists and turns only JJ Abrams & co. could muster, what with Alcatraz prisoners disappearing from 50 years ago and suddenly showing up on present day and bent on a shooting rampage.

So, is it worth watching?

Well, the short answer is YES. The 2-hour season premiere did its job  trick as based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m hooked. Now, I didn’t watch LOST so I consider that a good thing as I won’t have ‘LOST fatigue’ like some TV reviewers mentioned, and I also won’t be keeping tabs on how the two shows are similar, well apart from the fact that both shows involve an island and a boat load of unexplained scenarios.

What I like about the show:

The Premise

One benefit from not watching hardly any TV is that I’m not burned out by procedural shows. Yes I’m aware there are a plethora of it out there, and that this one involves a police detective trying to figure out the strange killings happening in the city, but the mystery/time travel elements sets it apart from the pack. The contrast setting between the ghostly, eerie atmosphere of retro Alcatraz island and the panoramic Bay City also adds visual interest.

This pilot tells us that each episode will focus on one prisoner (perhaps also the guard?) and how his story will help shed some light to the overall mystery. Just what in the world happened to that night in 1963 and why are they back in the present day? For what purpose?? The two prisoners so far seem to have totally different ‘missions’ if you will, that don’t seem to have any connection with each other. At least that’s how it appears right now.
… 

The Players

The most intriguing character so far is Sam Neill’s Emerson Hauser, the lead investigator of this whole Alcatraz enigma. He’s been there from the start as he was a young guard back in 1963 when 300 + prisoners and guards vanished from the island. It’s obvious that he knows more than he’s letting on, and so does his sympathetic scientist partner Lucy Banerjee (Parminder Nagra). Meanwhile, Detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones) gets unwittingly dragged into Hauser’s team whilst investigating the murder of Alcatraz’s former Deputy Warden E.B. Tiller. With the help of some Google search (isn’t it nice to be living in the 21st Century?), she finds Dr. Diego Soto (Jorge Garcia), a comic book writer/Alcatraz expert who ends up becoming her partner on the case.

So far Garcia gets the best lines like “You’ve built the bat cave under Alcatraz. Why would you do that?” or “Anyone else’s head exploding right now?”, which is a nice balance to Jones’ serious demeanor. I’ve never seen Jorge before but he’s perhaps the most well-known TV actor here because of his role in LOST. I like him right away and he’s funny without being overly quirky (I’m looking at you Masi Oka).

Neill, Jones & Garcia on Alcatraz

It’s quite an eclectic mix of people and you could say the same about the cast. I quite like Neill in this role, a bit prickly but highly mysterious… oh and bad ass, too. At the end of the second episode he doesn’t hesitate to shoot the prisoner’s hand to keep him from shooting people at random. I can see how Neill can have tons of fun with this character if the writers did their job well.

Sarah Jones reminds me a bit of a Battlestar Galactica‘s Katte Sackhoff (Starbuck), but a softer, less tomboy-ish version. She seems believable in the role but lacking a bit in the charisma department (especially against a veteran like Neill). But hey it’s early yet, I’d give her some time.
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The Time-Travel Elements

Time travel movies are inherently intriguing and there are so many possibilities to explore! If there’s anyone who can freshen up a tried and true formula, that’d be Abrams. As proven with the Star Trek movie, good writing can somehow make something you’ve seen before feels new again. Now I’m not saying he’s got the formula down pat yet, it’s still too early to tell, but so far he’s done a good job in making us want to know more what happens next.

The alternating timelines between the 60s and present day keeps it interesting as well as gives us an insight into what each of the disappearing prisoner’s all about. I especially like the Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) storyline, ok so Pierce is eye-candy material too, always a nice bonus ;) I think the fact that he was imprisoned for something trivial (stealing at a grocery store) but ended up being jailed on The Rock is just as bizarre as him suddenly waking up in 2012.

I do have an issue with how the disappearing prisoners who suddenly pop up in present time don’t have that much trouble adjusting to 2012. When Jack stepped out of the prison after being awaken by a visiting tourist girl, he seemed disoriented for a while but recovered quickly and went on with his mission. I think it’d be more interesting if the writers explore the discombobulated ‘fish out water’ period a bit more, which is always the most interesting factor about time travel stories.

The Verdict

Well, now that they got me hooked, we’ll see how long it can keep me interested. I have a short attention span with shows, the last TV series I watched was Hawaii Five-0 but Alex O’Loughlin’s hunkyness aside, I got bored with it pretty fast as there is really nothing to look forward to week after week. With this one, there is almost a sense of urgency to find out just what the heck is going on, and with every episode, we (hopefully) get just a little bit closer to the heart of the mystery.

For example, as the first hour ended, we found out that Madsen’s grandfather was actually a prisoner, not a guard as she was led to believe. So there is a personal connection there that makes it all the more intriguing. The premiere ends with a WHOA moment involving Lucy’s character. I definitely didn’t see that coming! Does Hauser know all along that Lucy is the same person as Dr. Lucille Sengupta? Was that why the sniper prisoner targeted Lucy? Well, Abrams’ done the job well as I REALLY want to know the answer to those questions.

I just hope that there are sufficient pay-offs to the build-ups. I think the trouble with these types of shows is that the writers have too much fun thinking of all the twists and conflicts but in the end don’t know how to solve them. I sure hope that won’t be the case here.


So did anybody else watch this pilot? Well, what did you think?

From Vision to Film » Mission: Impossible 3

Welcome to the third edition of From Vision to Film series, courtesy of guest blogger Ted Saydalavong (to view the other two posts, click on the category name on the right sidebar). This movie’s been released over four years ago, but news of the fourth sequel being green-lit weeks ago makes this post quite timely. Last week, Screenrant reported that Tom Cruise is taking a salary cut to star. Don’t shed a tear for the megastar just yet though, he’s still getting “… a nice back-end after cash break-even” so if the movie makes money, he’ll still get paid a huge chunk of moolah. Anyway, here’s a history of how the Mission: Impossible: III um, exploded to the big screen:

With huge successes of the first two Mission: Impossible films (the first one made about $180 mil here in the States, while the second made around $215 mil), Paramount was rushing to deliver another installment of the adventure thriller. Not having worked with director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) before, Tom Cruise and Paramount invited him to come on board and develop a storyline for it. Fincher had just finished Panic Room with Jodie Foster and wanted to make an action film, so he agreed to come on board. This was in early 2002, Paramount scheduled M:I:3 for the summer 2004 release.

So while Tom Cruise was filming The Last Samurai in New Zealand, Fincher and his team worked on the script and even story-boarded a few big action sequences for the film. One of the sequences was for the opening scene of the film in which we see an assassin killed some very important person with a sniper rifle and then we see this assassin running away after the kill; as he was running he peeled off his face and we see the main character Ethan Hunt (Cruise). The plot for this version involves some very powerful companies selling human body parts in Africa and the IMF team was assigned to stop them. Tom Cruise even went to South Africa to look for locations before they started filming.

Philip Seymour Hoffman ended up as the villain in M:I:3

Kenneth Branagh was cast as the main villain in this version and Carrie-Ann Moss (Trinity from The Matrix films) was also cast as the new team member and a love interest to Cruise’s character.  In early 2003, Fincher delivered the script and described his vision to Cruise and studio executives. First, he told them that he wanted to make a very violent and bloody spy flick and he also envisioned how Ethan Hunt has aged through the years; rumor has it that Cruise was not too happy when he heard this. Well not surprisingly, Cruise and the executives told Fincher that they couldn’t green lit a hard R-rated Mission: Impossible film, which resulted in Fincher leaving the project.

After Fincher left, Cruise hired Joe Carnahan (Smoking Aces, The A-Team), hot off of his debut film Narc (which Cruise put his name on the film as Executive Producer after he saw and loved it). Carnahan decided to keep Fincher’s script but did some minor tweaks to it. He added another character to the film, the young protégé which was supposed to play by Scarlett Johansson but eventually went to Keri Russell in the final version. Carnahan wanted to make the story more geopolitics, which makes sense since the plot took place mostly in Africa. He also wanted to make a violent R-rated film and again the studio refused and a second director walked off the project.

So by early 2004 the studio and Cruise were looking for another director to take over the project, apparently Cruise saw an episode of Alias and loved it and decided to offer J.J. Abrams the job. Abrams decided to scrap Fincher’s script and came up with his own version, which in my opinion was quite lame. Out of all three M:I films, I thought the third one was the weakest, no offense to those who love it. Abrams also recast everyone except Cruise and Ving Rhames of course. According to Carnahan, Carrie-Ann Moss had some very cool and complex action scenes in his version, and she had trained for three months or so to prepare for them. Carnahan said he felt bad for her and wished Abrams had kept her in the cast.

Producer JJ Abrams with the Cruister

When the film finally opened in summer 2006, it didn’t perform as well as the studio had hoped. Now maybe Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping antics might have something to do with it. In any case, the fourth sequel was recently green-lit and scheduled to come out Christmas 2011. Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) has been signed to direct, which will mark his live-action directorial debut.

Apparently Abrams again came up with the concept for the fourth one and Cruise loves it. That doesn’t sound promising to me since I didn’t care for the third one. I’m still hoping we’ll get to see Fincher’s version on the big screen someday.