The week that was… [slowly] back blogging again

Hello everyone! Remember me? 😉 I’ve been back since very late Friday but after 30+ hour trip, I was still pretty exhausted that I didn’t have any energy to blog right away. Hope everyone’s doing well whilst I was off the blogosphere, well I was practically off-line entirely as I barely got time to even check Twitter in the past week and a half. Btw, it’s gonna be a slow return to blogging as I’m actually going to be away this Wednesday to San Diego (our planned vacation) for at least five days.

Nyekar
So long my dear brother… ’til we meet again

Anyway, this has been quite a whirlwind trip for me, but despite the sadness of losing my dear brother Peter so suddenly, I was very blessed to be able to spend some quality time with my one and only remaining sibling Paul (his twin), his wonderful wife and their three girls. It was a blast spending time with my three beautiful nieces (ages 9, 11 and 13) who happen to be all into movies, ahah, so we’d excitedly talk about movies they’re anticipating Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, not surprisingly both are based on young adult novels and feature a female protagonist 😉

Well, suffice to say I didn’t see a single new movie the past couple of weeks. I had to miss a few screenings (The Lone Ranger, World War Z), so the last screening I saw was Monsters University (review coming next week). I was really at the mercy of cable TV at my hotel and the [very] limited selections on the plane, but y’know, it’s actually not that bad. Here are the movies I happen to catch in the past 10 days:

CABLE:

  • Con Air (1997) – rewatch
    ConAir
    I actually saw this one twice in 2 days believe it or not, the first time on my own and the second time when my brother Paul came to visit me on my hotel and we ended up watching this again (with my nieces too) the second time around. Perhaps one of my fave Nic Cage movies, and he actually looks pretty bad ass in that wife beater, ahah.
  • The Avengers (2012) – rewatch
    Avengers
    I almost watched this one twice as well if I hadn’t fallen asleep, ahah. What can I say, it’s still as fun as the first time I saw it, and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) still stole the show 😀
  • The Grey (2011)TheGrey
    I’ve been curious about this movie for a while but I missed the first 20 minute or so by the time I switched the TV on. Some of the parts were quite boring but overall it’s actually a decent – albeit predictable thriller. Worth renting I suppose but probably not worth seeing on the big screen, even with the gorgeous cinematography. Liam ‘special set of skills’ Neeson is perhaps the only reason to watch this one, unless you’re a wolves enthusiast, ahah.

I also saw half an episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the one with the late Andy Whitfield. It actually looked pretty good though I had to switch the channels during the violent battle stuff so I don’t think I can actually watch this show in its entirety.

IN FLIGHT:

  • Monsters, Inc. (2001) – rewatch
    MonstersInc
    Though the prequel was fun and exceeded my expectations, this one is still tough to beat. The scenes with Boo when Sulley & Mike first encounter her always had me in stitches!
  • Jane Eyre (2011) – rewatch
    JaneEyre2011
    I’ve got to admit I had a renewed appreciation for this Cary Fukunaga version. I wasn’t bowled over when I first saw it (read my review) but I think Michael Fassbender made for a soulful & magnetic Rochester (though Timothy Dalton’s portrayal is still my all-time fave) and Mia Wasikowska is superb in the title role.
  • Pride & Prejudice (2005) – rewatch
    PridePrejudice2005
    I always felt the urge to watch this every time it’s available. I think this Joe Wright’s film has become my favorite P&P version now, yes it even beat the Colin Firth one for me. I love Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy and Keira Knightley’s more than all right as Lizzy Bennett.
  • Big Fish (2001)
    BigFish
    I’ve been curious about this one for some time so I’m glad this was shown on the plane. It’s perhaps the most un-Tim Burton-like from the eccentric director. It’s a surprisingly moving fantasy film centered on father-son relationship. I quite like the cast, esp. Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor playing the old/young version of the character, and Billy Crudup as his son. It’s a bit confusing at times but it might be one of the most emotionally-charged Tim Burton film I’ve seen so far.

I actually almost watched Les Miserables on the plane but for some reason my earphone only worked on one ear, and I really can’t imagine listening to 2.5 hours of all that singing just from one ear!

Now, when I got back, I only watched a couple of things from Netflix streaming:

WhatToExpect

Though I initially shrugged this one off, but I’m glad I gave this a shot as it ended up being quite funny. The dudes support group is definitely the highlight, though I find Joe Manganiello (the actor & the character) so incredibly repulsive, ugh. I actually quite like J-Lo in this one though, but Elizabeth Banks is the most hilarious one of all the girls.

AllStarSuperman

I might’ve seen parts of this before but my hubby and I started watching this on his iPad and we ended up watching the whole thing on our TV. It’s interesting how there are some things here that seem to echo Man of Steel, well I guess the other way around as this animated feature was already released in 2011. I like that Superman is dying of radiation poisoning and making the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. Even the soundtrack is pretty good. Definitely a must for Superman fans!


Well, that’s my week so far, folks. What have you been watching? Anything good?

FlixChatter Announcement: Temporary Blogging Hiatus

OceanSunset

Hello everyone. I just want to make a quick announcement that I have to put the blog on temporary hiatus until the end of the month or early July. My brother in Jakarta passed away so I have to fly back to my home country for a week and a half. It took me three hours yesterday just to book the tickets, but I’m all set now.

I have a few posts ready but depending on how much time I have whilst I’m traveling – and the dubious Internet connection I’ll have there – it might be tough for me to do any kind of blogging. So pardon the lack of visit/comment in the next couple of weeks. I hope to resume blogging as as soon as I’m able to.

Before I go, I just want to say this: Cherish your family and friends and tell them you love them whenever you have the opportunity. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my brother, I can only pray that he’s in the hands of the Lord Almighty where there’s no more pain.

Have a wonderful week, everyone. Blessings to you all.

Weekend Viewing Roundup … and Question of the Week

Hello everyone! To those who celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday, I hope you had an excellent time with your family.

ManOfSteelHenryCWell, sounds like many of you have seen Man of Steel by now, judging from the stellar box office take $125 mil so far in four days (including the $12 Thursday night tally). It’s apparently broken a record for highest opening ever in June (ahead of Toy Story 3‘s $110 mil) according to Box Office Mojo. Well, it’s sort of made a record for me as well as this is the first film ever that I’ve seen twice on the big screen within a week 😀

Yeah, after the press screening on Tuesday, my hubby and I re-watched it again (also in 3D) Friday night. You know what, I actually liked it more the second time around, though I still have issues with the CGI-action overload in the second half. But the good still outweighs the bad for me so I settled with a score of 4/5 in my in-depth review. If you haven’t read it already but you’ve seen the movie, I’m curious to see if you agree with my praises and gripes about it. No matter how you feel about it though, it’s hard to refute the fact that Man of Steel was a major movie-going event of the year and I certainly felt a certain rush of excitement going into it (yes I’m not gonna lie, Henry Cavill in the role of Supes certainly has something to do with it, too!) 😀 I had a hunch he’d be perfect for the role when I saw him in The Count of Monte Cristo, but he still exceeds my expectations! I sure hope this means he’d get more prominent roles in Hollywood, the guy’s certainly earned it!


Now before I get to the recap, I’m curious to hear whether you’ve felt the same way I did this past week, that is wanting to re-watch a particular movie fairly soon after seein it. So my question for you this week is this:

Which movie(s) have you seen twice (or more) in a single week?


Now here’s a brief recap what I saw this past week besides Man of Steel:

MonstersU

Monsters University
(review done for posting later next week)

OutsourcedMovie

Outsourced (2006)
Apparently this movie is the inspiration behind the NBC TV series back in 2010 set in
a call center in India. It’s a pretty hilarious cultural comedy. It’s on Netflix streaming,
so it’s worth renting if you’ve got that subscription.

TheTudorsI actually watched a few episodes of this a few years ago as I quite like historical dramas
based on the British monarchy. I only watched a couple of episodes of season 1 this time
(if you guessed it’s because Henry Cavill then you’d be right 😉 )
Not sure how long I’d want to continue watching this one though.

Screenings this week: The Bling Ring & World War Z


That’s my recap folks. Please take the time and answer my question above and/or tell me what you’ve watched this weekend.

Musings on Man of Steel: What works and what doesn’t in the latest Superman reboot

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Oh boy, where do I begin… Some films are tough to review and I find this one to be particularly so because I feel like I’ve invested myself in this movie even long before I saw it. It’s strange I know, and perhaps I shouldn’t have been sooo incredibly pumped but if you’ve read my ‘history‘ if you will, with this character, I can’t help myself. And really, Warner Bros have done a tremendous job building the marketing for this movie and pacing the trailers to get fan boys/girls like me to wait with baited breath.

Well, at 7:30 pm last Tuesday night — after two and a half years wait, and numerous countdown posts — my hubby and I finally sat down and watch this film. I’m glad there were only two trailers before this film came out, though I wish one of them had been for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, as I didn’t want to wait a moment sooner for this film to start. Now, here’s my thoughts after a few days processing it… pardon the long post, but you know I’m rather indulgent when it comes to Superman 😀

What Works

An absorbing backstory of the hero and his planet

When the filmmakers said this is going to be an origin story, they REALLY meant it. The film opens with our hero still in his mother’s womb and his father, the brilliant scientist Jor-El, helping her deliver him. We know he’s a special ‘man’ on earth, but he’s also a special baby in his native planet, as Kal-El is the first baby born of natural conception in thousands of years. We get a glimpse of a more organic version of Krypton than I’ve ever seen. The landscape and creatures from the alien planet reminds me a bit of Avatar, brushed with much more warm color scheme than the icy, futuristic look of the Richard Donner version. We see the ‘S’ symbol as a prominent element of his family, and I like that this film gives that iconic emblem a bit more background than in previous movies as it’s such an integral part of the character.

MOS_S_Symbol

The send-off is an emotional one, giving us a picture of the kind of people brought Kal-El into the world, and the grim circumstances of the world he was born into. The extended history scenes was explored pretty well here, which certainly makes me think of Krypton in a different light, that’s it’s a world that’s not so entirely different from our own. It’s definitely a thought-provoking Superman film that lingers with me for days after I saw it.

Exploring the sci-fi aspect

It’s interesting that I never regarded the previous Superman as a science-fiction movie, but this time you could say that Man of Steel is a sci-fi action/drama as it really tackles the ‘science’ of the two worlds of Superman. Words like terraforming, codex, world engines, etc. are terms I never associate with Superman, and we also get vibes of The Matrix or Gattaca in earlier scenes.

There’s a scene that touches upon the fact that Superman’s no longer used to his native Kryptonian atmosphere, as his body’s adapted to earth’s oxygen after living here for three decades. It seems to have a similar weakening power the way Kryptonite does, though there’s no mention of that in the film. It’s fascinating stuff and adds a different layer to the Superman story that’s overlooked in the past.

The non-linear storyline

This is sort of a Christopher Nolan‘s trademark if you will, and I’m glad David S. Goyer decided to interweave the Clark Kent’s upbringing in flashback mode as the adult Clark is grappling with the notion of ‘Where do I come from?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ This narrative style isn’t confusing to me because well, I (as well as most people) already know the story, but it’s still good to see it being played out in a whole different way. I think it helps pace the story as well, because let’s face it, when you’re in the theater watching a Superman movie, you yearn to see Supes in THAT suit. The buildup makes the moment when he comes out of what we’ve come to know as Fortress of Solitude, with his cape billowing in the wind, all the more sweeter. Not a moment too soon, I’d say, and though I’ve seen that clip a bazillion times in the trailer, I’m still getting goosebumps watching it.

Supes ‘super’ Dads

It’s perfect timing that Man of Steel is released on Father’s Day weekend, as both of his fathers in the film are so awesome they’re even worthy of their own ‘My Two Dads’ spinoff, ahah. The reviewer at HitFix.com astutely pointed out one of the most fundamental difference between DC’s two flagship heroes “…Batman is defined by his missing parents, while Superman is defined by his surplus of parents.” That’s so true! And it’s nice to see the excellent casting for both roles. I really enjoy watching Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Supes’ Kryptonian and earth-bound father, respectively. It’s interesting that both Oscar winners have played Robin Hood and Cavill was quite the masterful archer in Immortals, I guess it runs in the family 😀

I appreciate seeing Jor-El’s character being covered in more depth, with Crowe is in top form here, as valiant and heroic as he was in Gladiator (the ‘This is madness’ line cracks me up a bit though, an homage to Snyder’s previous hit film perhaps?) Thankfully, he’s not relegated to just a talking head like Brando and he appears throughout the film in a hologram, traveling with his son in ‘spirit’ if you were, just like God the Father is in Christ the son. The Judeo-Christian theme in Superman films are always palpable, and here Clark becomes the earthly savior at the exact age of 33. Thus the father/son scenes are easily the highlights of the film for me, and Crowe’s Jor-El is perhaps my favorite character in the film next to the title role.

MOS_JorEl_PaKent

Costner hits all the right notes as as the humble and wise farmer from Smallville who loves his adopted son so much he’s willing to lay down his life. I’m glad we get to see Jonathan Kent interacting with the adult Clark in one scene, which happens to be one of the most emotionally-charged moment that no doubt shapes the rest of Clark’s life. The strong moral compass in the hero’s early life is covered in great depth, which made the first half of the film the more compelling part of the movie.

Henry Cavill as Superman

Naturally, to portray someone as iconic and beloved as Superman, in the year of its 75th anniversary no less, it’s crucial that we get an actor who could bring that character justice. Let’s face it though, Christopher Reeve was a tough act to follow in the role, and the comparison is inevitable. Truth be told, Reeve’s Superman will always have a very special place in my heart, I don’t think anyone could ever take his place.

MOS_Cavill

That said, I’ve been a fan of Cavill’s casting from the get-go, obviously he looks every inch the part both in chiseled physique and down-to-earth mannerism. But the true test is really seeing him on screen, BEING Superman and interacting with the people in the story. Well, I can say with confidence and positive giddy-ness that Cavill did the character justice. Sure we didn’t get the bumbling Clark trying to get Lois’ attention, but that doesn’t mean this version is one dimensional at all. In fact, Cavill believably portrays a more layered persona, showing the vulnerable side of such a larger-than-life character. Not quite the tortured soul the way Bruce Wayne was, but appropriately solemn as a conflicted man haunted by the past dealing with a constant internal struggles within him. Seems like some critics are expecting a wisecracking character with a slew of one liners at the ready, but you know what, I’m not expecting that from Cavill. I’m glad he made the character his own instead of simply channeling Reeve. I like that he’s a man of a few words, someone who wisely prefers to listen than being heard.

Michael Shannon as Zod

MOS_Zod

I was glad when it was announced that General Zod was going to be the main villain, and boy, did they get an excellent actor to play the part. In some interviews, Michael Shannon said that he never thought of playing a comic-book character and that he found something sympathetic about his character. I appreciate his take on the role as a staunch military leader who’s loyal to a fault. So he’s not simply a megalomaniac who enjoy making people suffer, though of course his mission to save his own kind is basically genocide, something that neither Jor-El nor his son would ever condone. Ok so his bowl cut and goatee is not exactly an attractive look on Shannon, but it’s nice to see a villain who also looks physically menacing. Shannon’s athleticism makes him a formidable foe even for the mighty buff Cavill.

The chemistry of the Cast

The fantastic ensemble cast would be for naught if they don’t have chemistry with each other. But there’s none of that issue in this film, all the performances are strong here and they play off each other well. Despite being the youngest and least experienced actor amongst the key players, Cavill’s able to hold his own effortlessly. I love all his scenes with Crowe and especially this one with Diane Lane as his earth-bound mother. It’s one of the cheeriest moments in the movie where Clark came home after being away from Smallville for some time. The mother & son moment is poignant and sweet.

MOS_Clark_MaKent

The visual imagination of the film

As I’ve mentioned above, the long opening sequence of life in Krypton shows the vast planet where Superman came from. The scene is beautifully realized, with lush valleys, caverns and water mass, with what looks like a primeval animals and wing-like creatures that serve as means of transport.

MOS_KryptonWar

The look of Smallville captures the picturesque small town sensibilities and the iconic Kent farm that’s apparently built from scratch looks appropriately earthy next to the massive corn fields (Kevin Costner must’ve felt a sense of déjà vu from filming Fields of Dreams, ahah). Contrast that to the design of the baby Kal-El’s rocket ship that launched him from Krypton. The key word here once again is organic, with its clean lines and a more rounded shape that forms the S-shield. Oh, and if you look closely, seems like Pa Kent’s been collecting all kinds of books about aliens, UFOs, etc. which of course leads to him saying “Youre the answer to ‘Are we alone in the universe?'” when the time comes that he can’t hide it from his adopted son anymore.

I LOVE, LOVE the costume design of this film! The texture and ornate design is just fantastic, and the armor that Jor-El wore has an interesting dichotomy of being ancient looking as well as futuristic at the same time. The iconic Superman suit is re-imagined with a darker, more monochromatic hue. Again, the sleek texture beautifully accentuate the perfectly-sculpted physique of Cavill, and certainly a heck of a lot more bad ass without the red underwear on the outside. I’d love to see Man of Steel being considered for Best Costume Design come Oscar time.

Lois Lane’s larger involvement in the story

I never thought that Lois is merely a damsel in distress in the Superman movies, I mean she’s always been a shrewd career woman. But here, the stellar reporter actually gets more to do in the story and actually gets to be a part of Superman’s mission in saving humanity. No doubt Amy Adams is perhaps the best and most ‘decorated’ actress (with her four Oscar nominations under her belt) to play that character. Though I think Margot Kidder’s spunk in the role remains unmatched, Adams is quite believable and more importantly likable, as Supes’ love interest. Despite the relatively brief screen time between them (less than what I’d have liked to see anyway), Cavill and Adams have a nice chemistry together. But seriously, what girl wouldn’t have a good chemistry with Henry Cavill! I’ve got to admit the scene of them locking lips gets me green with envy! 😉

MOS_SupesLoisKiss

It’s no surprise that Snyder likes a strong female character in his films and in this one, we’ve got one on both sides of good and evil, as Zod’s right hand woman Faora (Antje Traue) is a force to be reckoned with!

Last but certainly NOT least…

The flying sequences

Flying is the quintessential powers that makes Superman different from other superheroes. So I’m glad that Snyder put a lot of effort into it and truly makes the whole flying thing SUPER cool! There’s a scene where Jor-El tells his son to ‘keep testing his limits’ as neither of them knows just how powerful the earth’s sun would fuel him. There’s even a sequence of Superman learning how to fly properly, and the scene of him flying all over the globe seemingly faster than a speeding bullet is awesome!

MOS_flying

At the same time, though Supes’ super strength here is magnificent, I’m glad the suspension of disbelief required of us doesn’t go beyond risible grandiosity such as turning back earth axis and turning back time. I mean, I love Superman: The Movie as you all know, but that’s just stretching the preposterous meter way too far even for a superhero movie.

What Doesn’t 

Ok, now you all know how much I want to LOVE this movie. I want to clap and cheer when the end credits roll and shout out ‘awesooooooooome!!’ at top of my lungs. Well, it didn’t quite happen at first viewing, and here’s why…

The fight scenes go on way too long

Yes I know that from the trailers and featurettes that there are going to be some significant butt-kicking sequences in this one. I mean, after such a lengthy battle-free exposition if you will, naturally people are expecting more robust stuff, but I think it ends up being a bit of an overkill as the fight scenes grows increasingly relentless. As soon as Zod descend on earth with his small band of Kryptonian army, all hell breaks lose!

The destruction in Metropolis would make Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich green with envy. It’s as if Zack Snyder is over-compensating for some people’s complaints that the previous Superman movie didn’t have ‘enough’ action. Seriously, by the time Superman fights Zod & co. for the fifth or sixth times, and it just gets tedious. There’s also an overlong scene of Superman fighting these weird alien creatures with long tentacles towards the end, it’s really hard to see what the heck is going on. It’s a case of CGI-overload, which is never a good thing.

MOS_battleinSmallville

Seeing Supes and his nemesis going through building after building, leaving heaps of destruction in its wake, it quickly becomes pointless as we all know these Kryptonians are all indestructible. Plus, their fights actually cause more human casualties as skyscrapers are collapsing all around them.

Lacking one stand-out scene that exemplifies Superman as the ‘savior of humanity’

Ironically, with sooo many battle scenes and so much time devoted to Supes kicking all kinds of butt, there is not a single defining moment, if you will, that makes me want to get up and cheer. Superman: The Movie has that iconic chopper-rescue scene with Lois, Superman II has the battle at the end with Zod & co. that leads to the finale at the Fortress of Solitude, and even Superman Returns has that rousing plane rescue scene that earns Supes a thunderous heroes’ welcome! (Btw you can watch all of those scenes here).

The most memorable part for me is the scene where Supes first tackles Zod, destroying his helmet that protects him from being overwhelmed by his heightened senses. I think it’s brilliant that they show an insight to just how crucial Clark’s parents teaching was in getting him to control his powers. But it falls short from being a truly glorious scene, and most importantly, we never quite see Superman as being welcomed by the people of earth as their alien hero, even though the stake in this film is even greater than anything Lex Luthor ever posed to humanity. There’s only acknowledgement from a few military people and some Daily Planet employees, but most earthlings pretty much are still in the dark as who Superman is.

Hans Zimmer’s score didn’t quite hit an emotional high for me

This is really a bummer as I’ve grown to enjoy this soundtrack, and accept the fact no score is going to be as iconic as what John Williams’ has done (even Zimmer himself realized this). I’ve actually been listening to the score on its own and really enjoyed it. But somehow, I don’t really remember the music being all that memorable in the film. Perhaps it’s intentional to make the score to sort of blend in with the story, but I expected it to give me this emotional rush like it did in the previous film, but it wasn’t quite there. Perhaps on second viewing I might have a different opinion on it, but as it is now, it’s a bit underwhelming.

The Verdict?

Despite the flaws I’ve pointed out, there are still a LOT to love in this film. So yeah, I still LOVE Superman and Man of Steel certainly did not dampen my love for the character. The bold new interpretation certainly didn’t frustrate me the way Superman Returns did with the ‘Supes boy’ twist, though it could’ve been more engaging all the way through. The first half of the film before we even see Kal-El donning the suit is definitely more compelling to me than the later when Superman perform all kinds of impressive heroic stunts. I think Richard Corliss in his TIME review sums it up nicely: “The super part of Man of Steel is just O.K.; but the man part is super.”

MOS_CavillSuperman

I do want to point out that there IS a beating heart amidst all the booming spectacle and I do think the filmmakers deliver on the promise of a ‘first contact’ story. In addition, just because it’s a darker and grittier interpretation, it doesn’t mean it’s gloom and doom. The message about hope is not lost on me here,  I think Christopher Nolan + David Goyer + Zack Snyder‘s vision certainly has the potential to launch a lucrative franchise for DC. I for one wants to see more of THIS version of Superman, surely with Henry Cavill in the title role!

So no, I’m NOT disappointed in this one. In fact, the longer it sits with me the more I appreciate it and I’m still eager to see it again (in fact I’ve already got my tickets for an encore later tonight) 😀 Well, after a second viewing, I’ve now settled with the higher score than what I’ve originally intended…

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What are YOUR thoughts on this film? Let’s compare notes on this one, folks!

Double New Releases Reviews: Pain & Gain and This Is The End

One blogger can’t possibly watch every single film, so thanks to two of FC contributors today, I bring you double reviews of two movies currently in theaters. This is The End is actually just been released today.

Pain and Gain

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It may be hard to believe when you’re watching the sordid, outrageous crimes that take place in Pain and Gain, but this film is based on a true story. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and it’s about bodybuilders on a crime spree in mid-1990s Miami. Action director Michael Bay helmed this terrible low-budget film, which is more than two hours long and feels much longer.

The movie used as its source material a three-part crime series, written by reporter Pete Collins and published in Miami’s “New Times” newspaper. What happens over the course of the film, in brief, is that a weightlifter named Daniel Lugo, portrayed by Wahlberg, forms the Sun Gym Gang. This murderous group includes the fictional Paul Doyle, played by Johnson, a cocaine addict and religious fundamentalist. This stripper-loving, steroid-fueled gang needs money, and so they decide to kidnap, torture and ultimately murder Victor Kershaw, a local deli owner, and later the head of a telephone sex company and his girlfriend.

What makes these criminals, in real life and in the film, especially shocking is that they hold Kershaw hostage for roughly a month, continually torturing him in order to take control of his financial assets. And what makes the movie puzzling – not to mention offensive – is the approach it takes to the story. Instead of crafting a horrific drama, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the authors of the screenplay, decided that they would try to create a quasi-comedy. The key word in that last sentence is “try,” because nothing in the movie is remotely funny. Rather, the film is infested with all kinds of crude, sophomoric jokes, including gags about bodily functions and sex toys. As a result, inevitably, several relatives of the real victims in this case have publicly denounced the movie for trivializing events and presenting the killers in a somewhat positive light, and for attempting to get laughs in the process.

PainandGainStills

In recent years, Mark Wahlberg has proven himself a talented and versatile actor, adept in both comedic and dramatic roles. Think of films as different from one another as Ted (2012), about a grown man with a living teddy bear, and The Fighter (2010), a gripping true-life account of a working-class boxer. That Wahlberg would choose to be in Pain and Gain is truly shocking.

On the other hand, that Michael Bay would direct this garbage is not shocking. He’s best known for loud, witless movies such as the Transformers series. And Bay employs his entire arsenal of headache-inducing tricks throughout this picture, including super-fast edits, spinning camera moves and the objectification of his actresses’ bodies. Indeed, the only real difference between the bodybuilders in “Pain and Gain” and the bad robots in “Transformers” is that, once in a while, the giant robots actually seem kind of realistic. Oh, and the Transformers don’t curse or go to strip clubs.


3 out of 5 reels

Author: Eddie D. Shackleford is a writer and blogger for Cable.tv and loves to write about movies, entertainment, TV and more. You can follow Eddie @Eddie20Ford.


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This is the End

ThisIsTheEndPoster

I have to admit, I’m not a big comedy fan. I rarely seek out comedies at the cinemas, it’s not that I don’t like the genre, I just think some of the comedy films have been either average or just boring within the last few years. I prefer my comedies on TV, I love shows like Parks & Recreation, The League and Arrested Development. But when I saw the trailer for This Is The End, I was kind of excited to see it. A disaster and comedy film with big named stars playing themselves, how can it not be funny.

The film opens with Seth Rogen picking up his friend Jay Baruchel at the airport. They stopped at Rogen’s house, drank alcohol, smoked a lot of weed and then decided to head to James Franco’s house for a party he’s throwing. Once there, they ran into who’s who of young comedians in Hollywood. Even Emma (Hermione) Watson and Rihanna were there partying. Everyone was having a great time except Jay, since he’s not as famous as the other actors at the party, he felt left out. So later he asked Seth to go to a convenient store with him to get some cigarettes. While there Jay said he wanted to leave the party and go hang out at Seth’s place, but Seth wanted to stay. Then suddenly there’s an earthquake and some people inside the store got sucked up to the sky by blue lights and some died; violently I have to say.

They ran back to Franco’s place and told everyone what was happening, of course no one believed them, even Seth started to doubt what he saw. Then the earthquake started again and this time there’s a giant sink hole in Franco’s front lawn, a bunch of people fell into it. So James Franco decided to go back into his house believing it’s safer there. The people who came with him were Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen. So most of the film took place inside Franco’s house and the bicker between these actors. Later on in the film, Danny McBride showed up and he and Franco got into a fight about masturbation that will make your stomach hurt from laughing so hard, it’s one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Then later on, a certain big named actor showed up and that also got a huge laugh from the audience.

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I didn’t expect the movie to play it so straight, I mean it’s about the end of world and these actors are trying to survive it. I was hoping they would make fun of the movie industry in general, particularly the big budget tent poles that we see every summer. One thing they did do was to insult one another, a constant running gag was how Jay Baruchel is still unknown since he’s not as popular as the other actors within the group. The movie kind of lost me when it started talking about the rapture and then monsters showed up to hunt down the actors. I don’t want give away too much since I think a lot of people might get a kick out of the story.

Performance-wise everyone was pretty good, especially Jay Baruchel who’s basically the lead in the film. I’ve never seen him in anything before this movie and I thought he’s funny and I can see him becoming the new Jim Carrey. Franco, Rogen, McBride, Hill and Robinson were pretty much playing themselves and most of the time it worked.

All in all, this debut feature film by Evan Goldberg (who wrote Pineapple Express, Superbad) is a decent comedy. If you’re a fan of Goldberg’s previous films that he wrote, as well as Shawn of the Dead, you’re going to enjoy this. Just don’t take your young kids or nieces or nephews to see it, the film contains graphic language and violence.

– Post by Ted S.

2.5 out of 5 reels


Have you seen either one of these films? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments!

Final Man of Steel Countdown: Top 10 Favorite Superman movie scenes

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All right! The wait is almost over for me… After anticipating this for exactly two and a half years, precisely since January 2011 when Henry Cavill was first announced as our Kryptonian hero, the agonizing wait soon comes to an end. Years have turned to months, months to weeks, weeks to days… and now it’s just a matter of hours!!! 😛

Now, for my final countdown post, I thought I’d revisit some of my favorite scenes from previous Superman movies. I deliberately exclude the George Reeves’ TV series as well as Smallville and focus on the big screen adaptations. I’m starting with the 1978 Richard Donner movie (you’ll see which movie from Christopher Reeve’s canon that I skipped, ahah), so here goes!

1. Superman: The Movie – Superman meets Lois at the Daily Planet

I love scenes at the Daily Planet… It’s funny how hilariously goofy Clark Kent was and Jackie Cooper is so endearingly grumpy as Perry White. In one quick line, Mr. White explains how Clark got the job, “… he’s a reporter that not only has a snappy prose style, but is the fastest typist I have ever seen!”

2. Superman: The Movie – “You’ve Got Me? Who’s… who’s got you?”

This is perhaps my most favoritest of ALL the Superman movies combined. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it and I never, ever not get teary-eyed watching it.  Believe it or not, I still get sweaty palmed watching Lois hanging down from the chopper, I really think if I had vertigo I won’t be able to get through this scene! But the moment Supes stepped out of the revolving door — with that memorable quip ‘Say Jim! Whoo! That’s a bad out-fit! – and our hero soaring to the sky along with John Williams’ rousing score, I turn into this giddy fangirl and starts cheering like the crowd beneath him in the movie!

3. Superman: The Movie – The interview and taking flight with Lois

I’m forever jealous with Lois Lane. Yes, I know she’s not real, but boy, what girl wouldn’t want to be swept off her feet [literally or figuratively] and Lois gets to experience both, whilst still retain her career-woman status in the process! These two clips are basically the same scene, starting with Lois interviewing Superman, which leads to the two of them taking flight. That whole ‘Can You Read My Mind?‘ bit is so decidedly schmaltzy, but I fall for it every single time … [sigh]

4. Superman II: Superman saves Lois [again] in a Parisian elevator

Lois and peril goes together like, well, Supes and his red cape! I actually like this clip as it shows Clark Kent transforming into Superman in the alley on his way to save Lois. There’s always something so magical about the transformation which of course then leads to the flying sequence. I mean THIS is why we watch a Superman movie, the one superhero who can effortlessly take to the sky anytime and anywhere he wishes… and of course Chris Reeve always look so darn graceful doing it!

5. Superman II: Lois finds out Clark’s identity

So she’s the best reporter of the Daily Planet (and perhaps even in the entire NYC), but it took her THIS long to find out Clark is Superman? Ahah. I have to admit though, this scene mesmerizes me as there’s something so magnetic about Superman taking off his glasses whilst still dressed as Clark Kent. Chris Reeve still looked ever-so-fetching in a grandpa sweater! I  When Lois says, ‘I’m in love with you…’ I always yell at the screen, ‘Yeah, so is every girl in Metropolis! Get in line!’ Except, Lois never even has to be in a line. Lucky, lucky girl!

Note: I couldn’t find the exact scene, but you can watch it up until 0:43. The entire clip is a mash-up spoof that’s actually pretty darn hilarious, ahah.

6. Superman II: “General, Would You Care To Step Outside?”

Yes, Terrence Stamp’s Zod looked like a lost member of the Bee Gees with his shiny Disco outfit. But with his cold, steely eyes, he made the character iconic, even if it lacks menace the more times I watch it. I mean, what’s with this obsession with people kneeling before him? I also love the part when Lex Luthor sighed ‘Superman, thank God’ ahah.

7. Superman II: Superman finally ‘kneels’ before Zod

There’s nothing like a good pay back, and Supes does it in style. Mind over muscle, Lex. Chris Reeve looks positively glorious in this scene, but it’s Zod’s groan in agony that sticks in my mind. Ouch man, that looks painful!!


8. Superman III: Clark vs. Superman Fight

Ok, I’ve got to admit I LOVE this scene as I find Chris Reeve so unbelievably sexy sporting disheveled hair and five o’clock shadow [yowza!!] The whole suit is made darker as well which made him even more This is really the only reason to watch Superman III and it really shows the acting chops of the Juilliard-trained actor in tackling the dual role effectively. But yeah, I kinda enjoyed seeing Supes being bad 😉

9. Superman Returns: Epic plane rescue

Despite everything that was wrong with Superman Returns, I didn’t hate the movie. In fact, there are parts that I did enjoy and this first scene of Superman first rescue after being gone for five years is pretty epic. Certainly the effects have improved a lot since twenty years prior [though some of the CGI scenes look too obvious], but it’s the sense of electrifying heroism that always gets me. I always get caught up in the crowd cheering for a hero’s welcome, and of course, the rather flirtatious way Supes greets Lois turns me to mush as well.

10. Superman Returns: “Lois, will you come with me?”

I’ve actually already did a spotlight of this very scene back in 2010, but seeing it again last night made me realize how much I love it. Now, I’m actually not too fond of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, I mean she just isn’t believable as a Pulitzer-winning journalist, and she lacks the spunk needed for the character. But, this flying scene is just so beautifully-shot, aided by John Ottman’s excellent score inspired by the John Williams’ original.

“You wrote the world doesn’t need a savior, but everyday I hear people crying for one.”

I love how that single line sums up just what Superman is all about and his love for humanity. The ‘almost kiss’ part gets me every time, perhaps one of the most emotional scenes of the whole film for me.

___

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Superman II: The duel with General Zod

The whole fight scene in downtown Metropolis is so darn entertaining. It’s decidedly much more lighthearted in tone than all the action we’ve seen in the Man of Steel trailers, but it’s just a hoot to watch. Who doesn’t love seeing Zod being swung around and thrown into a giant Coke neon billboard!! 😀

Superman II: Clark’s diner scene retribution

This is actually one of my hubby’s favorite scenes, so I figure I should include it somehow. Even though it’s a ‘revenge’ scene, it’s not mean-spirited. I mean Supes could’ve done a heck of a lot more damage to that jerk-off truck driver if he were a mean guy, ahah. The scene cuts off but if you remember, Clark gives some money to the diner owner for the damage he’s caused. What a sweetheart 😀

Superman Returns: The Bullet Stopping Scene

People complain there are so few great action scenes in this movie and that might be so, but I think this very scene is pretty darn cool. It’s hilarious how the doofus baddie just didn’t get how indestructible Supes is. I mean if a string of bullets bounce off him like air bubbles, what makes him think it wouldn’t also bounce off his eye ball?!


Check out the other Man of Steel Countdown posts from the past three weeks.

Redditors, would you UPVOTE this post please? Thank you kindly!


Well, there are surely a ton more awesome scenes I left out here. So tell me folks, which are YOUR favorite Superman scenes?

Indie Review: The Kings of Summer

thekingsofsummer-posterI almost lost my opportunity to see this movie on the big screen. I was invited to a screening by TCFF a few weeks ago but I couldn’t make it as I wasn’t feeling well. But thankfully, I was able to make it to this press screening and boy, am I glad I did!

This film definitely reminds me of Stand By Me which I saw ages ago. Two best friends Joe & Patrick desperately trying to escape their families and they spend their Summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. The third guy Biaggio, ended up joining them as Joe ‘didn’t know how to get rid of him’ ahah.

I immediately connected with the characters, especially Joe (Nick Robinson) who lives with his overbearing widower dad Frank (the hilarious Nick Offerman). His BFF Patrick (Gabriel Basso) also live with his insufferable parents (Megan Mullally is a hoot as his overprotective mom – oh btw, I just learned today that she & Offerman are real-life married couple!). Both parents are harmless really, but I could see why their um, parenting style drive the kids away from home. And one night after Joe got lost in the woods after a party, with an oddball schoolmate Biaggio in tow, found just the perfect place to escape to.

This movie is billed as a comedy and it’s certainly has some laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s surprisingly heartfelt as well. For all of us who are young at heart, this film is quite relatable and also brings back memories of our youth. The scenes of the three teens trying to survive in the woods and wanting to prove that they’re capable ‘men’ not boys are both moving and funny.

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Top: Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias and Nick Robinson

I’m glad to see an indie film that paints an earnest picture of teens and the struggles of adolescence without resorting to something sinister or somber.  I mean, there are dark moments but by no means bleak. It’s also not overtly sexual, which is very refreshing for a teen film (though it is rated R for the foul language). Even the romance storyline is handled quite well here. It’s not frivolous or gratuitous and fits well with the coming-of-age theme of the story.

This is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts‘ feature film debut as he did mostly TV work, but I hope he does more movies in the future. This is one of the funniest and refreshingly honest films I’ve seen, boasted by engaging performances and beautiful cinematography that makes you want to book your next vacation camping in the woods!! [If you know me at all, that’s saying a lot as I’m not even an outdoor person]

I love movies with memorable characters, and this film is chock full of them. The younger actors are wonderful, they don’t seem as if they’re acting at all, which is impressive in its own right. I’m especially impressed with 18-year-old Nick Robinson as Joe, and this is also his debut feature film! He’s quite a natural on screen, and you could say he’s the protagonist of the film.

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Moises Arias as the quirky Biaggio is a hoot and practically stole every scene he’s in! Those who watch Park & Recreation no doubts would be entertained by Nick Offerman and his deadpan comedic style. His scene with the delivery guy about some large wontons had me in stitches!

I can’t recommend this enough, folks. I hope you get a chance to see this one the big screen or at the very least give it a rent. It’d likely end up in my top 10 of 2013. It’d make an excellent diversion to the big blockbuster Summer movies hitting theaters in the next few months. Great script, performances, scenery and soundtrack — it’s got all the ingredients to make an entertaining film. But mostly, watch it for the funny and engaging story of friendship and family.

This film was nominated for this year’s Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. I’d think it might even deserve to win more awards!

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Anybody else’s seen this yet? What do you think of this film?

Weekend Roundup… and it’s FlixChatter’s 4th Blog-a-versary!

Hello everyone! I trust that you had a pleasant weekend, well I hope you do anyway. The Summer season is still so very elusive, I mean I still have to wear jacket and it’s June darn it!!

So yeah, watching The Kings of Summer a few days ago was quite frustrating, I mean, as soon as I left the theater, there’s no warm, sunny scenery to match what I’ve just seen on screen 😦 But hey, I’m not gonna be too gloomy about it, after all, FlixChatter hit a milestone this weekend, well today June 9th to be exact. Thanks to WordPress notification, apparently I’ve been blogging for about four years now…

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I was quite unprepared for this blog anniversary, but I do want to take the time to …

ThankYou

Yes, THANKS to each and every one of you who’ve come and visit this week blog. To those loyal visitors and commenters (you know who you are), I’m especially grateful for your constant support.

Special thank you to Kevin a.k.a. Jack Deth and Ted S. for your awesome contributions here. I appreciate every single ‘likes’ and comment, as every blogger would tell you, it’s what makes all the work worthwhile. So keep ’em coming 😀

IpMan_posterWell, this weekend I only managed to see one new film and it was an excellent one. I’ve been wanting to see Ip Man with Donnie Yen, which is a a semi-biographical account of the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. I was curious about it as the real Ip Man (or Yip Man), in which this film was loosely based on, was credited as one of Bruce Lee’s martial arts instructors!

Someone on Twitter also recommended Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster with Tony Leung in the title role, too bad it’s not on Netflix! Anyway, I’m going to defer my review until I see the sequel, but I highly recommend Ip Man if you like great stories about an inspiring person, whether you’re into Kung Fu or not.

This weekend I’ve also been getting my period drama ‘fix’ if you will, with BBC’s North & South and Sense & Sensibility. Not only are these miniseries are so well-crafted and well-acted all around, both have such mesmerizing-ly beautiful leading men, Richard Armitage as John Thornton and Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars, respectively. No doubt both are on my list of favorite period drama heroes 😀

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I’m glad I own both films as they just never get old and every time I need a little pick-me-up, I can just pop ’em in to my Blu-ray player, sit back and indulge in a wonderful story telling and gorgeous scenery.


Anyway, stay tuned for my review of ‘The Kings of Summer’ coming tomorrow. So, what did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

[Fan] Poster Spotlight: Man of Steel + Q&A w/ designer Patrick Connan

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Poster Spotlight, so I thought it’s time to do one as part of the Man of Steel Countdown!

I first noticed this poster last week when I came across a tweet from the movie’s official Twitter account. Here’s the beautiful poster titled…

Dark Side of the Man

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Click image to see a larger version


Isn’t that awesome? I love the simplicity of the design, yet it has so much energy to it. Seems that fan-made posters are getting more and more creative these days, way better than the ones the studios churn out. I checked out the Barbarian Factory blog and was quite blown away by other poster designs featured there, including the ones for Star Trek (the JJ Abrams reboot) and The Lord of the Rings. I decided to contact the designer via Twitter and Parisian-based designer Patrick Connan kindly obliged for a quick Q&A. Read on:

1. How long have you been a designer & do you specifically do poster designs?

I am a graphic designer for almost 10 years, it has been 5 years since I worked for a very large Parisian agency specializing in the design of film posters. Being a huge fan of movies, I have to admit that I finally get to combine my two passions!

2. I notice you have a ton of film-related posters on your blog, when did you start designing those? I presume you also run the Geek Art website?

Indeed, as I said earlier, being passionate about cinema I like to give my perspective on a film that I liked and I eagerly awaits! I decided to work for me, in addition to my daily work in my office since the beginning of March this year. It came to me like that, all of a sudden I wanted to illustrate the bad-ass movies I loved as a kid, and then many other things, and since I can’t stop doing stuffs!!! No, I am not the manager of the Geek-Art.net site, but thanks to Thomas Olivri (Master & Commander of geek-art) my visibility on the net could be powered with my series on the Lord of the Rings, and for this, I can not thank him enough!

3. What tools do you use to create the posters?

I mostly use Illustrator and Photoshop to create my posters, and of course the layout using InDesign! I work with my tablet mainly. Once I have more space in my apartment I can finally get back to draw, because of lack of space I have to put it aside!

4. Are you a fan of Superman in general? What inspires you to design the Man of Steel poster?

I’m sure there are fans more diligent than me about Superman, however I adored watching old movies and series with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher when I was a kid! I have never had the opportunity to read some comics, because in France there is not the same enthusiasm for them in the United States for example. For this poster I wanted to give a retro look, original and minimalist, and the parallel with the Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon seemed to flow naturally!

5. Tell us anything you’d like us to know about your movie poster design and when it’ll be available for sale.

Thanks Patrick for the quick interview … and for creating such an awesome poster!

Now, before I sign off, I’ve got to share this final Man of Steel trailer. I’m running out of words already to express how I feel about this film… every trailer just gets better and better. So just watch it. now.

I know you want to 😀


Check out the other Man of Steel Countdown posts from the past three weeks

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What do you think of the poster & this latest trailer?

Superman: A History and a New Hope

Yet another SUPER post on my favorite superhero!

Special thanks to Terrence for taking part on the Man Of Steel Countdown festivities. I love this post and especially his closing statement…

Is Man of Steel the beginning of a new era for Superman? I think so. It brings in a new era and with it a new hope. That is, afterall, what the “S” symbol stands for!

The Focused Filmographer

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a mother and father on a doomed planet called Krypton sent their one and only son, Kal-el, on a crash course to Earth in an attempt to save him from the impending doom of their homeworld. With the similar appearance of the inhabitants of Earth, young Kal-el differed in a very remarkable way from those who took him in as one of their own: powered by the rays of the sun, Kal-el (now living under the pseudonym “Clark Kent”) began to exhibit and harness powers of a super nature. Under the direction and guidance of his adopted parents, Clark learned that with great power comes great responsibility and as he grew he quickly learned just what that lesson would mean for him in his futuremanofsteelquote

Not only would Clark (soon to be known to the world as Superman) have a…

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