Everybody’s Chattin’ … and Timothy Dalton Casting news & rumor I’m super excited about

Happy Friday everyone! Those of you in the US, hurray for long Labor Day Weekend! 😀

It’s been quite a hectic week for me at work, but fortunately there’s no press screenings I’m interested in all week so that actually helps a lot. Allow me lament a bit though about how this Summer’s put quite a dent on the hits and comments on the blog 😦 I guess I chalk it up to people being away on a break and what not, but still it’s kind of a bummer.

Ah well, enough complainin’. There ARE those of use who are still bloggin’ away in the Summer months, churning great posts on a daily/weekly basis. So I’m going to highlight those who’ve been particularly supportive to FlixChatter in their readership and comments. I REALLY appreciate it folks, I know we’re all busy people so I’m grateful that you not only took the time to visit, even if the movie(s) being posted aren’t necessarily your cup of tea.

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Firstly, have you heard about this new movie site Cinema Axis? It’s a film blog based in Toronto, Canada with contributors hailing from various parts of Canada and the United States, spawned from the blog Big Thoughts from a Small Mind. One of the contributors is Steven Flores from Surrender to The Void blog. So pay them a visit and take part in the August edition of I Have Scene it Before, one of their monthly series.

Now that Summer is officially over, we’re all gearing up for Fall movies (well I am anyways). So check out Keith’s list on which movies to Flaunt or Flush. Thanks for the warning Keith!

Oh, and speaking of what to flush, in case you’re thinking of Ethan Hawke’s action flick The Gateaway, well, you might want to think again. Check out Terrence’s warning er review and watch at your own risk!

Most of you already tired of me saying this but yes, I’m still kicking myself that I missed the film fest screening of this film last April due to a snow storm!! Well, Mark’s review of MUD certainly makes me more eager to finally rent it!

Michael recently posted his Top 10 Greatest Sci-fi Films circa 2000-2013, and I absolutely LOVE his list, especially since he’s got Wall•E and District 9 on there! Saunter over there and see which ones of YOUR favorite made his list.

Since I mentioned Surrender to The Void blog, Steven has been spotlighting Woody Allen of late. Check out his latest post on the New York auteur, Part 4: The Wilderness Years (2004-2013)

You might’ve read Fernando’s post from Comic-con where he met the cast of Kick-Ass (SO jealous. Aaron Johnson is gorgeous!). Well, what did he think of the sequel? Read his review of Kick-Ass 2.

Fans of Breaking Bad, I suggest you check out Sati’s commentary in her Open Letter to Anna Gun. Though I don’t watch the show, I find that the discussion about Skyler White quite interesting.

Last but not least…

Chris T. has returned from his London vacation (where he non-nonchalantly bumped into RICHARD ARMITAGE outside of Harrod’s!!). I’ll be working on my post for his DEBUTS Blogathon starting next week. Check out which sites are participating in this exclusive blog event 😉


Now, about that casting news…

Well, I’m thrilled that my longtime crush TIMOTHY DALTON is joining SHOWTIME’s psycho-horror thriller series Penny Dreadful!

There are FOUR Bond connections on this one as the creator of the series is John Logan (Hugo, The Aviator, Gladiator) who also wrote Skyfall AND he’s producing the series with Skyfall director Sam Mendes! Now of course you already know Dalton is my favorite Bond, so it’s a thrill to see one of my favorite Bond girls Eva Green is also part of the cast!

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Darn it, it’s about time Dalton’s back on the spotlight again. I’m always so perplexed that super talented thespian like him don’t get more work! I mean he could’ve easily done every role offered to his British peers like Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart or Jeremy Irons! Per THR, Dalton, who joins Eva Green and Josh Hartnett, will play Sir Malcolm, a hardened African explorer on a deeply personal quest. Here’s the premise per IMDb:

Some of literature’s most famously terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray and iconic figures from the novel Dracula. become embroiled in Victorian London.

Production is set to begin in October in London for its debut in spring 2014. I just might have to get cable for this!

Now, this one is just a rumor for now, but it’s enough to send me into a frenzy when I first heard about it (just ask my husband, I was practically hyperventilating!) 😀

Last week, I was lamenting on the Batman casting on Man of Steel sequel, but this week, THIS is a rumor I can get behind:

In response to that I tweeted this:

OH MY! I sooooo hoping this isn’t JUST a rumor. Please make it happen people, pretty please! I just so want Dalton to be in something so HUGE which hopefully propels him to get even more roles! I’ve always loved Alfred Pennyworth and with the likes of Michael Caine in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, we definitely could use another British thespian this time around. (I just realized it’d be cool that Dalton signed up for TWO projects with Penny in them, ahah)

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Of course I always envision that Dalton as the older Bruce Wayne type, a la Batman Beyond where he’s retired and a recluse who ends up being a mentor to a young Batman. If you’ve seen the TV series, you’d see how Dalton is so perfect in that role. He’s still a pretty lean guy at 69, certainly he can still be bad ass!

In any case, fingers crossed Dalton is indeed cast! That’d just be THE best news of the year for me 😀


Well, what do you think of this casting?

Have a great weekend all! Hope you see some good movies! 😀

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FlixChatter Review: Austenland

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Oh Mr. Darcy. He’s certainly the most popular period drama hero, and not just the ones from Jane Austen’s imagination, mind you. Even those who don’t care for this genre would probably know who Mr. Darcy is, though they might confuse him with the one in Bridget Jones’ Diary, ahah. Now, he’s not exactly my favorite Austen hero, but I find stories about girls being obsessed with him so wildly amusing. I saw the miniseries Lost in Austen not too long ago and it might as well be called Lost in Darcy. Despite the similar theme, Austenland is not a fantastical tale where the characters from Pride & Prejudice actually comes to life. The title refers to a Disneyland of sort for the Austen-obsessed, as the ad says, the resort in a lush English countryside offers the world’s only immersive Jane Austen experience.

Keri Russell plays Jane Hayes, an Austen superfan whose obsession with Mr. Darcy practically takes over her day-to-day life. Her apartment rivals even the Austen museum I went to in Bath, complete with a cardboard cutout of Mr. Darcy in her living room. Her love life suffers not for lack of suitors, but it’s just the modern guys just can’t possibly live up to a dashing literary hero. I always remember the quote from the Sabrina remake of 1995: Illusions are dangerous people, they have no flaws. Thus, when an opportunity suddenly presents itself for Jane to actually live out her fantasy, naturally she jumps at the chance.

Hilarity ensues almost straight away. From the moment Jane steps out in her empire-waisted dress and bonnet her best friend gifted her just for the occasion, she draws giggles and stares as she makes her way through the airport. Then she meets a wealthy American woman (later known as Elizabeth Charming, her pseudonym at the resort) who apparently never read Austen but signs up for the trip because she knows she’d look good in those ‘wench dresses.’ Both girls are so in for a treat, or so it seems. No more ‘unlucky in love’, the owner of the Regency era resort (a bitchy Jane Seymour) promises her vacationing guests that their romantic fantasies would come true at the end of their trip, courtesy of the handsome actors on her staff.

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Sadly, Jane (or Miss Erstwhile, her given pseudonym at the resort), has unknowingly bought the Copper package, even though she’s cashed out all her savings for this trip! So poor Jane gets the dowdy clothes and her room is in the servants wing. But she’s determined not to let that ruin her trip. In no time, Jane gets entangled with one of the staff-members Martin, who actually wasn’t hired to do the ‘oldies’ stuff, that is to pretend to be from the Austen era to woo the guests. But just as she’s fallen for Martin, the resort’s designated Mr. Darcy (aptly named Henry Nobly) provides a delightful distraction. Everyone is not who they say they are, and the characters are caught between fantasy and reality. Just like what you’d expect in a real Austen story, there are misunderstandings, romantic disenchantments, and of course, the vice of preconceived notions. But hilarity is never far behind. I love how hysterical this movie is, there’s thigh-slapping moments from start to finish and I could tell the whole theater was having a blast along with me.

Jerusha Hess, who’s no stranger to writing comedies (Napoleon Dynamite, Gentleman’s Bronchos and Nacho Libre), tackled the writing and directing task for this one. She co-wrote this film with Shannon Hale, who wrote the novel of the same name where this movie is based on. I think they did a fine job in delivering an amusing escapism, funny without being mean-spirited. There’s a lot of laughs to be had here, but romance is still in the air and the cast is quite charming. I think the tone is more Emma than Sense & Sensibility, so by no means it’s not a deep movie nor is it trying to be.

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I don’t normally see Keri Russell in a comedic role, but ever since Waitress, I knew she has a decent comic timing. Here she portrays the awkward and starry-eyed protagonist believably, even if she might be too pretty in the role, just as Keira Knightley was as Elizabeth Bennett in the 2005’s Joe Wright’s adaptation. One thing for sure she’s instantly likable, so it was easy to root for her character, no matter how absurd.

Jennifer Coolidge is her usual hilarious bawdy self. Her blatant ignorance of anything Austen (or the Regency era for that matter) and her riotous attempt at a British accent never fails to draw uproarious laughter. She’s a natural comic actress who doesn’t even need to open her mouth to be funny, so of course she steals scenes in more than one occasions. James Callis (who’ll always be Battlestar Galactica‘s Gaius Balthar to me) provides comic relief as the flamboyant Col. Andrews who’s the object of Coolidge’s Elizabeth Charming’s affections. Hunky Ricky Whittle and fellow Brit Georgia King also provide memorable supporting turns in some of the funniest bits of the movie.

JJ Feild, once an Austen hero himself in Northanger Abbey, is suitably sullen as Mr. Nobly. He provides a nice contrast to the more outwardly flirtatious Martin (the Mr. Wickham in the story). I’m surprised to learn that Bret McKenzie who played Martin is the same guy who plays the elf Lindir in The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit, AND he’s also the songwriter who won an Oscar for Best Song for The Muppets! Wow, no wonder he looked familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it where I had seen him!

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one, it’s perhaps one of the most fun I had at the movies of late. I also appreciate the scenery and gorgeous set pieces/costumes. I don’t even mind the mindless slapstick stuff, especially in the farcical mock-theater scene towards the end. There are some cringe-worthy moments and use of vintage pop songs don’t always work well, but it’s hard not to be swept away by its buoyant spirits. The romance might be predictable, but it’s certainly not without its giddy charm. Certainly period drama fans would get a kick out of this movie, but even if you’re not, I’d say there’s enough going for it here to keep you amused and entertained.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


What do you think of this movie? Are you a fan of any of the cast?

Twin Cities Film Fest: Preview of 2013 Lineup

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Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) is excited to offer a sneak peak at several films coming to their 2013 lineup, including some of the most anticipated films of the year. TCFF is less than two months away, it will will run from October 17 – October 26.

Jatin Setia, executive director of the Twin Cities Film Fest, said this year’s slate of studio premieres represents the most promising, star-studded lineup in TCFF history: “The buzz we’re already hearing, from people wanting tickets to the new Meryl Streep-Julia Roberts premiere, to the new Alexander Payne film – which is sure to be a Best Picture contender – is deafening. And to then see subjects like Nelson Mandela and Simon Cowell in our lineup – for any serious movie lover, this is the true beginning of the Oscar race.”

While specific dates and showtimes are not yet public, TCFF is excited to showcase the following films:

NEBRASKA

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After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father (Bruce Dern) thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Shot in black and white across four states, Nebraska tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America. NEBRASKA is written by Bob Nelson and directed by Alexander Payne, which last film The Descendants won Best Adapted Screenplay.

Dern won Best Actor award at Cannes in this comedy drama, and in this interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Dern “…considered Alexander Payne to be a “genius” and why he “wouldn’t dare” to deviate from Payne’s script because “he’s too good.” Check out the first trailer:

ONE CHANCE

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James Corden as Paul Potts

From the director of The Devil Wears Prada, ONE CHANCE is a comedy based on the remarkable and inspirational true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night. Paul became an instant YouTube phenomenon after being chosen by Simon Cowell for ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’

Fresh from celebrating his Tony Award-winning Broadway run in One Man, Two Guvnors, BAFTA winner James Corden (The History Boys) stars as Paul Potts and is supported by an acclaimed ensemble cast that includes Julie Walters (Mamma Mia!, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot), Colm Meaney (Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa ), Jemima Rooper (Kinky Boots, Lost in Austen) and Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady). Directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Hope Springs) and written by Justin Zackham (The Bucket List).

No trailer yet but here’s that Britain’s Got Talent clip from a couple of years ago of the real Paul Potts. Make sure you have some Kleenex handy:


TCFF’s Silver, Gold and Platinum Passes are now available!

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GET THEM EARLY
(while supplies last)


MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

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The film is based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, which chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society. Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Prometheus) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing.

I LOVE this cast! I’m a huge fan of Elba, who I think would make a fine Bond (if the producers are brave enough for a Black Bond) and Naomi was a sassy Bond girl in Skyfall so what a perfect pairing! I’ve seen about three Nelson Mandela films so far, with actors of various built and height portraying the titular world leader. I must say that Elba seems too big physically (not to mention hunky!) to play Mandela, but hey, it sounds like a meaty role for the talented actor, so I’m definitely looking forward to this!

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

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This is one of those movies I’d watch just for the cast. I mean, just look at the names in that poster! This film is based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name made its Broadway debut in December 2007. It continued with a successful international run and was the winner of five Tony Awards in 2008, including Best Play.

It tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is directed by John Wells (The Company Men) and features an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Sam Shepard and Misty Upham.


This is one of my most-anticipated Fall movies so I’m thrilled TCFF’s got it! There’s already Oscar buzz on Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in the Best Supporting Actress category. Now, I’m particularly curious about Cumberbatch’s role in this, who along with McGregor are the only two Brits in this star-studded cast. Their roles are probably pretty small though.


In early September, TCFF will announce its full 10-day slate, compiled from more than 300 viewed contenders and submissions. Tickets will go on-sale at twincitiesfilmfest.org beginning October 1, 2013.


What do you think of this early lineup folks? Any one of these on your must-see list?

Rental Pick: Sylvester Stallone in Walter Hill’s ‘Bullet to the Head’

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Sly Stallone is reliving his glory days as an action hero here in the 21st century, as many of you know, Stallone was the king of box office back in the 80s. Many of his films, mostly Rocky and Rambo series earned hundreds of millions at the box office. After strings of box office failures in the 90s and early 2000s, he was able to climb back and churned a few box office hits in the last couple of years. In this movie he decided to team up with director, Walter Hill, whose career as an action director pretty much ended years ago. Unfortunately the film barely made a dent at the box office when it opened last winter, so Hill’s career is still stuck in limbo.

The film starts with an aging hit man James Bonomo (Stallone) and his young partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) assassinates a witness in a high profile case. After the job was done, both men were waiting for their contact at a bar somewhere in New Orleans to received their fees. Unfortunately their employers sent out another hit man, Keegan (Jason Momoa), to take them out. Bonomo survived the hit but his partner was not so fortunate. Feeling betrayed and upset that his partner was killed, Bonomo wowed to find his employers and get revenge.

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Later a Washington D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang), showed up at local police station and wants to take charge in the investigation of who put out a hit on the witness. He did some digging and was able to meet up with Bonomo. As it turned out the witness whom Bonomo took out was an ex-cop and Kwon’s former partner, he’s about to testify against some highly important people and Kwon wants to bring those people down. He asked Bonomo to help him but Bonomo was not interested. A few minutes later, Kwon was being chased by some hit men and was shot in the shoulder. Bonomo was able to come to his rescue and they both found out that the hit men were local cops. At this point Kwon realized he’s alone and no one will help him with the investigation and Bonomo still wants revenge so both of them decided to team up and find out who’s really behind this whole charade.

The rest of the film becomes the usual interracial buddy cop action/thriller that were quite popular in the 80s and 90s. We get the usual insults between the lead characters and of course shootouts and big fight scenes. The film sort of reminded me of 48 Hrs. which was also directed by Walter Hill. Having been out of the directing action pictures for a long time, I didn’t expect much from him. To my surprise, he actually did a pretty decent job with this film. The pacing of the movie is pretty smooth and he staged some really excellent fight scenes and shootouts. My only complaint is the film looked pretty dreadful, I don’t know what Hill and his cinematographer were trying to accomplish here. For a film that cost $55mil to produce, it looked like a straight to video action movies of the early 90s. Also, I have a hard time believing the film cost that much to make since it didn’t have any big car chases or huge shootouts that would require lots of visual effects. I don’t think Stallone is getting his usual fee of $20mil per picture anymore, so I don’t know where all those millions went, obviously it didn’t show it on the screen. Another big complaint, CGI blood, I hate it! I wish action directors would go back and use squibs again.

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As far as performance goes, I thought Stallone was pretty great in it. He plays the role perfectly, he’s not a good guy, just someone who’s doing this kind of work because he doesn’t know how to do any other kind. And for a man who’s in his late 60s, he still look great doing the action stuff. Sung Kang is not a strong actor and I’m glad they didn’t try to make him the lead, I’m pretty sure most people will only know him from the Fast & Furious franchise. The beautiful Sarah Shahi shows up as Bonomo’s daughter and she doesn’t really have much to do other than serves as the eye candy and of course, the damsel in distress. Jason Momoa is pretty much the usual one dimensional villain and even Christian Slater has a small role as one of the villains.

Despite it being a box office disappointment, I thought the film was quite entertaining that reminds me of buddy cop action flicks of the 80s. If you’re a fan of Stallone or Hill, you might enjoy it as well. Just keep your expectations low and don’t expect anything new from it, the film knows it’s an action picture and it didn’t try to be more than that.

3 out of 5 reels


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What do you think of this one folks? Do you think Sly still got it?

Weekend Roundup and mini review of ‘The World’s End’

Hello everyone, hope y’all had a nice weekend. It’s scorching HOT here in Minnesota with heat index topping 100 degrees!! I’m not fond of extreme heat and humidity so I stayed mostly indoors, went to the movies Saturday night and cooling off at Mall of America on Sunday. Not much of a home-viewing weekend, as I only watched an episode of Shark Week on Netflix from Discovery Channel, ahah. I did see Austenland earlier in the week which I really enjoyed (review later this week as it opens at Edina Landmark Theaters on 8/30).

At the movies The Butler is still well-served by moviegoers, topping the box office again with $17 mil, whilst all of the new releases made barely $10 mil each (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The World’s End and You’re Next). I guess this weekend and the next few weeks are the dead zone of sort, as Summer movie season is pretty much over. I’m quite looking forward to Fall/Winter schedule though, so look for my Most Anticipated List around Labor Day. Below is my mini review of …

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Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.

This film is the conclusion of the Cornetto or Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, a series of British comedic films by Edgar Wright, written by him and Simon Pegg. I’m a big fan of the last two in the trilogy, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, so that’s the main draw for me to see this one.

This film also reunited Pegg with his longtime BFF Nick Frost in a slightly different role than what I’m used to seeing him in (more on that in a bit). Pegg plays Gary King, a bon vivant alcoholic who’s pretty much still stuck in the past (literally), obsessing over his teenage days in his hometown of Newton Haven. He can’t get over the fact that him and his posse failed to complete the Golden Mile, an infamous pub crawl encompassing 12 pubs that ends in the last one called The Worl’ds End.

So he sets off to track down his old mates, and soon he realizes each of them has moved on. Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) all have a steady job and family of their own, with their own set of responsibilities. But Gary is far too self-absorbed and oblivious to let that stop ’em, but yet somehow, he managed to convince them all to actually join him! So off they go in Gary’s beat up sedan, the very same one he has from his teenage years, bound to Newton Haven!

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I have to admit the film started off a bit too sluggish for my liking. Even as they arrive in their old hometown, the pub crawl itself aren’t as hilarious as I expected. I don’t know if I’ve grown tired of Simon Pegg’s schtick or what, but he’s just not as funny as he was in the other two films. In fact, I find Gary to be pretty irritating most of the time, which doesn’t help. I’d say the scene-stealer here is Nick Frost (I guess you could say the same about the rest of the trilogy), as he plays a responsible, thoughtful and actually wise guy with a good career, it’s an interesting role switcheroo as he’s not the typical dumb slob he’s played in the past. His straight-laced Andy provides the most laughs for me as the antithesis of Pegg’s character.

I guess I have a similar complaint on this one with Elysium in that this film is much bigger in terms of budget and special effects, but overall the quality isn’t on par with Wright’s smaller projects in the past. Some of the jokes made me cringe and it just feels forced, which is too bad as I know the talents are capable of something great. Given that we’ve seen a lot of apocalyptic themes in movies lately, the film also suffers from originality, I could see the plot reveal from a mile away and the finale seems to go on forever. Oh, and there’s a cameo from another Bond actor (Timothy Dalton was the scene-stealer in Hot Fuzz), but I think Pierce Brosnan is utterly wasted and devoid of humor in his role. Interestingly, Rosamund Pike (who was the Bond girl in Brosnan’s worst Bond movie ever), also didn’t have much to do in this male-dominated comedy.

Now, there are some fun moments to be had and I like the all-British cast, but I wish I had just rented this one instead of paying top dollars to see it on the big screen. Truthfully, I’m surprised by its high rating on RottenTomatoes. Ah well, I had expected the trilogy to end on a high note, alas, I feel that the Wright/Pegg/Frost trio is perhaps a bit complacent about their work. That’s never a good sign no matter how good they think they have it.

2.5 out of 5 reels

Well, that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What did you see this weekend, anything good?

Holy Batfleck! Lamenting on the latest Batman casting news + the Bat Poll

Oh the irony… Warner Bros. officially announced who they had cast as Batman right on the birthday of Richard Armitage, MY pick of who should don the cowl in the Man of Steel sequel. Thanks to my pal Terrence who texted me just as I was driving home from Austenland screening (which was hilarious btw), so of course I soon realized the news has turned social media into a frenzy. I mostly stayed on Twitter and enjoyed the vehement reactions from all over the globe. On one hand, I’m glad that this news finally ends those crazy rumor mills of Batman casting… alas, there goes my hope that WB would make a good choice 😦 In case you were away from any news media outlet of any kind, well, our next Batman is (you might want to sit down)… BEN AFFLECK!

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So THIS is  the next savior of Gotham??

Not surprisingly, within a matter of minutes, Twitter was ON FIRE!!  According to Variety, there were 5,744 tweets about the film in the first hour, and it averaged 2,307 tweets per hour. Every topic that have anything to do with Batman AND Affleck was trending: #BenAffleckAsBatman #MattDamon (Robin anyone?) #MichaelKeaton #ValKilmer even #GeorgeClooney. With the general consensus saying that George is so happy with this casting as there’s FINALLY more than a smidgen of hope that he’d no longer be considered as the WORST Batman! 😀 Poor Matt Damon, his name is now inexplicably linked to Robin… because whenever there’s Affleck, there’s his BFF, right?

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It was fun reading people’s reactions to this news, so I simply just sat back and enjoyed reading ’em.

Even some celebs couldn’t help chiming in…

I think the general reaction ranges from Say What? to Nooooooooooooooooooooo! There is in fact a petition to WB already underway to request the removal of Affleck from the Batman role, ahah. It’s already got 4000 signatures as of the time I’m writing this post!! Of course, as of this morning, the whole Batman tweets have given rise to…  #BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck trending 😀 This one below is my favorite:

and this:

What does Batman himself say??

So yeah, I’m disappointed, no disheartened by this news. There are TOO many reasons but one simple reason is this: I just don’t see Affleck as Batman nor Bruce Wayne. It’s often than an actor can fit only one of the two persona of a superhero, but in this case, it’s neither! But resorting to such hatred about this is a bit of an overkill. It reminds me of the whole uproar over Daniel Craig’s casting as Bond (what, a blond Bond?? NOOOOOO!!), in which I was also quite skeptical. But the difference is, Craig was a fairly unknown at the time so there’s not as much ‘baggage’ associated with him the way it is w/ Affleck. Of course there’s always a chance, however minuscule, Affleck’s casting is gonna work out just like Craig’s did, but I REALLY can’t picture that at this point. It’s interesting that in the height of his career (winning an Oscar for ARGO), Affleck’s willing to put his career on the line for THIS role [shrugs]

So that means Affleck is SO not through with playing superheroes. I have to hand it to this guy, apparently he’s still not traumatized by the backlash of him playing Daredevil!! I know a lot of people are still suffering from PTSD from seeing that movie atrocity. Speaking of which, this will mark Affleck’s THIRD time playing a superhero role.

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Daredevil’s blind… and bats are blind too, so maybe there’s the connection?? [shrugs]
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Oh I just LOVE wearing spandex! But… does it come in black?

Oh, and there’s another casting oddity in Man of Steel 2Diane Lane played his wife in Hollywoodland where Affleck portrayed the first Superman TV actor George Reeves, and now Lane is Superman’s earthly mom!

Now, apparently Zack Snyder can’t wait to work with Affleck, who’s apparently already working out like mad to achieve the ridiculously buff physique Snyder ALWAYS requires from his actors:

“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him,”

Mwahahahaha, a layered portrayal?? Synder, you should be a comedian!

In any case, I’d love for you my dear readers to weigh in on this topic, please take a quick vote:


So what do you think of the BatFleck AND the reactions over the news? Sound off below.

A Birthday Tribute to Richard Armitage… and his magnetic performance as Mr. Thornton

They say you never forget your first time. It’s never truer when it comes to love… or in this case, a crush. I’ve opened up publicly when I was spellbound by Gregory Peck when I first saw him in well, Spellbound, in which I also mentioned several other guys who’ve stolen my heart in similar fashion. Of course, Richard Armitage in his role in BBC’s North and South as John Thornton is high on that list!

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So for his 42nd birthday today, I thought I’d highlight the role that I first saw him in… which instantly became a favorite. Hence he’s on my top 10 favorite literary characters in movies.

Why Mr. Thornton?

It seems that every fans of period drama is obsessed by Mr. Darcy, as do popular culture with the endless portrayal of Darcy-esque characters. Y’know what, I’d take Mr. Thornton over Darcy any day. Some people describe Thornton as the ‘working class Darcy’ but oh, he’s sooo much more than that. Obviously, the fact that he is a working man, a self-made businessman with his shares of tragedy and struggles, makes him a decidedly more intriguing yet identifiable character, even by today’s working men and women. Thornton is not some curmudgeon filthy rich guy who’s used to have everything served to him in a silver platter. He’s rough, stern and even dangerous because life made him that way, he’s forced to be wise beyond his years due to the circumstances at his cotton mills, so his aggression is more of a survival thing.

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What I love about the novel North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell is that it’s not just about romance. Of course there’s an underlying love story between the two main characters, John Thornton and Margaret Hale, but there are so much more going on in each of their lives that make their relationship, stormy and tumultuous as it is, all the more riveting.

Ok, so I’m not going to lie there’s that purely superficial aspect. John Thornton is oh-so-dashing… the talk, dark and handsome variety, BUT with substance. I’d say the sexiest part about a guy is his intellect and Thornton is a savvy businessman, a respected mill owner with real responsibilities, both to his family and his employees. Plus there’s that tortured soul thing that I can’t resist. All that pent-up emotion and inner tumult makes for a magnetic Byronic hero. In short, Richard makes that ‘heavy heart and weary soul’ look so devastatingly sexy.

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When the camera isn’t focused on his face, there are so many other things to appreciate. Those rugged, broad-shouldered form, and supremely manly hands… trust me, I actually rewind these scenes every time I watch it. Forlorn and gloom has never looked so spellbinding.

Of course there’s also the period clothes… oh how men had fashion taste then. Richard seems built to wear period clothes, sure his tall, lean figure would probably rock ANY outfit, but there’s something about the tailored Victorian suits that fit him to a tee! Plus he looks good in black. I found this nifty article about what Mr. Thornton’s clothes tell us in North and South.

With cravat …

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Or without …

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… Thornton is one well-dressed gent.


Ten favorite moments with John Thornton

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First time I beheld Mr. Thornton from a distance… with cottons flying about in the air like snow. It’s also the first time N&S heroine Margaret sees him after being informed by the mill workers where to find him. I’d imagine she’d have this thought in her head the moment she spots him… “THAT’s Mr. Thornton? I thought he’d be old and balding, but he most certainly is neither.” I might order Gaskell’s novel in my Kindle to read her poetic words of that first encounter.

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You’re ill?

It’s merely two words but the way Thornton says it with his deep voice, subtly leaning towards Margaret, speaks volumes about his feelings for her. THAT my friends, is one swoon-worthy moment for me.

The proposal scene. You just have to see the whole scene to really appreciate the beauty of this encounter. I love how vulnerable Thornton is in this scene… how he let his guard down, nervous but perhaps also excited that he finally can let his feelings known… Alas, it ends up being the worst day of his life.

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I love the post-proposal scene as Thornton briskly walk home in torment. His business partner later commented when he saw him on the street that ‘he’s not as in control as usual.’ An astute observation, Mr. Bell. Thornton certainly can handle any business-related turbulence, but THIS… a matter of the heart, is something he’s totally unprepared for.

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“John, a mothers love holds fast and forever. A girl’s love is like a puff of smoke, changes with every wind.”

A tender moment between a mother and son. I’m not a big fan of Hannah Thornton, a lioness of a woman who’s over-protective of his eldest son. But in the end, I get where she’s coming from. Thornton is close to his mother because she’s all he’s got and vice versa, so there’s no Oedipus complex in the works here, nor is Thornton a mama’s boy.

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Another moment of vulnerability. A rioting group of mill workers threw a piece of rock at Thornton but hit Margaret’s head instead. Fearing for Margaret’s life, you could see the look of horror on his face as he surveys her head wound. Yet I know at that moment he just falls even more in love with her. She has become his savior, in more ways than one … and I think that very idea must’ve thrilled him amidst all that chaos.

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The scenes between Thornton and Higgins highlight the complicated relationship between the two social classes of the North, the mill owners and the poor working class. Their unlikely friendship serve as healing power for both men, I mean Higgins is after all the guy who organized the strike that threatens his business. It’s a compelling character transformation on Thornton’s part.

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The production quality of this BBC series is just superb. It’s so beautifully shot and the way the camera zooms in and out of the character adds so much to the mood of a given scene. I love this quiet moment at the church where Margaret mourns her father, just weeks after her mother’s passing. She had just turned around to see Higgins and his daughter in attendance, but she doesn’t see that Thornton is there too. As he looks at her, it’s almost he feels almost jealous at Higgins that she cares more about a mill worker being there than him… but yet he also feels for Margaret and her sufferings. It’s palpable he can’t ever get her out of his mind, try as he might.

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“Look back. Look back at me.

I think this is a fan favorite from the show as it’s got that ‘money shot’ of Mr. Thornton’s melancholic face in close-up. But the emotion conveyed in this scene is profound. Despite that botched proposal, there’s still a glimmer of hope that perhaps one day he might be able to win Margaret’s heart, but now, as her carriage goes further away from his sight, that hope is dimmed even further…
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Maybe it’s just me but I find this very shot absolutely beguiling. All the shirtless scenes of Guy of Gisborne (Robin Hood), the sex scenes of Lucas North (Spooks), the macho action scenes of John Porter (Strike Back), yes they’re all juicy, but they don’t quite have the same effect on me as this one. Of course some people would look at this and say, ‘it’s just some guy sleeping on his desk!‘ Heck there are perhaps some who’re doing this right about now at their workplace, ahah. But that’s the beauty of Thornton, he can make even the most mundane, every day thing so darn stimulating! [Or it could be that I have a serious problem, ahah]
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The best and most satisfying finale of any period drama I’ve ever seen. It’s so beautifully shot at the train station. The two leads have never looked more ravishing, and their chemistry is quite breathtaking. The way the camera so intimately captures the moment they (and us the viewers) have been longing for is pure gleeful perfection. Again, THIS is a scene that has to be seen… A still image just won’t do it justice.

Bonus:

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A handsome gent, top hat, a book and a bread basket. What else could a girl want? Margaret, you are one LUCKY girl!


Thanks to Armitage Army for the various screen caps and Youtube clips I posted here.


Well, why don’t you join in on wishing Mr. Armitage a happy birthday! Or you could share the moment you fall for your ultimate movie crush 😀

Question of the Week: Which literary characters in film are your favorites?

Characters are the main ingredients that can make or break a movie… even if the film is so-so, a great character portrayed on screen would still make a film memorable. The same is true on the flip side, even if a film is generally well-made, but if you don’t connect with the characters, you probably aren’t going to remember them much afterwards.

AustenlandPosterIn light of the recent passing of famed novelist/screenwriter Elmore Leonard, whose works have been adapted to the big screen several times, I thought I’d focus this week’s question on literary works and the movies. I’m guilty of having seen only one of Mr. Leonard’s work, but I LOVE the character Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma (2007) as played by Russell Crowe (he’s one of my picks of scene-stealing bad boys, natch!).

I’m also going to Austenland screening tomorrow night, a comedy inspired by Jane Austen‘s most famous work… and one of her most famous characters, Mr. Darcy. The synopsis reads: Obsessed with the BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice”, a woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in search for her perfect gentleman. I’m looking forward to this, sounds like a escapist entertainment type of movie for fans of period dramas like moi!

From classic authors like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Emily/Charlotte Brontë and of course Austen, Hollywood has churned out interesting characters based on their works. There are also modern classic authors like Philip K. Dick, Michael Crichton (which my pal Terrence just did a Time to Vote Tuesday on last week), as well as those still living like J.K. Rowling and John Grisham whose popular works have translated to big bucks for the film industry. I’m also opening up my question to TV as well, as there are certainly some fantastic made-for-TV adaptations out there, especially from BBC. Speaking of which, did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed human character portrayed on film and TV according to Guinnes Book of Records??

Now, for the purpose of this discussion, I’m actually excluding graphic novels and comics as that’s kind of a whole different animal entirely. Oh, and let’s focus on human characters (no robots, toys nor fairies) just for the sake of this discussion.

I know it’s darn near impossible to narrow down to just 10, but I’m gonna try anyway, because well, it’s a lesson on decisiveness, right? 😀

There are various reasons I picked these. For female characters I listed here, I admire them for their courage and strength, not all of them are admirable characters, I mean Scarlett O’Hara is a great example of an anti-heroine, but I admire her spunk and survival instinct in a time when women aren’t supposed to be fierce. Same with the guys, they’re not all heroes who save the day. In fact, Mr. Rochester and The Phantom are both deeply flawed characters, but they sure are unforgettable. Truth be told, I agonized over picking George Bailey over Atticus Finch (y’all know how much I love Gregory Peck & his astounding performance in that role), but ultimately I feel that I identify more with the troubled and disillusioned family man. As you can see, I have a penchant for tortured souls 😉


Ok, now your turn folks! Name at least one (or more) of literary characters on film that you love!

Spotlight on ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’ + Interview with Jamie Campbell Bower, Lily Collins, & Kevin Zegers

I just heard about this young adult series was I went back to Jakarta last June. My 9-year-old niece had been carrying The City of Bones novel in her bag, which had a shirtless guy on it on the cover. I thought for a moment it was one of those Harlequin novels, thank goodness that’s not the case, ahah. So yeah, my three nieces, age 9, 11 and 13 are all huge fans of the books, and they can’t wait to see this film!

The Mortal Instruments is a series of six young adult fantasy novels written by Cassandra Clare, of which five have been published so far, and City of Bones is the first film adaptation of what’s positioned to be the latest young adult sci-fi franchise to hit the big screen.

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Author Cassandra Clare with her best-selling novels

On July 28, fans had a chance to meet three of the main stars at Mall of America. Originally author Cassandra Clare was also scheduled to appear, but she was unable to travel that weekend due to pneumonia. Now, before I get to the interviews, here is the synopsis of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones:

Set in contemporary New York City, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” tells the story of a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, as secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother (Lena Headey), Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters, who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures.

Director: Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid)
Cast: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Heady, Robert Sheehan, CCH Pounder, Jared Harris, Aidan Turner.
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 min.

I’ve posted the event photos in the weekend roundup post, but here they are again:

About an hour after the autograph signing, me and two other bloggers were escorted to the Mall of America Green Room downstairs for the interview. Take a listen to Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Kevin Zegers.

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What’s the most interesting part for you guys to train to play shadow hunters?

Lily (Clary) and Jamie (Jace):

“I got to learn how to knife fight, which was really fun, I had done sword fighting before in other movies, so switching the blades up was pretty interesting, and in heels, the whole deal, was pretty fun.” – Lily

Kevin (Alec):

“… Shadow Hunters, the characters are so defined by fighting and by the way they fight. I really wanted to establish what, a lot of what these characters are is the way they look, the way they are, the way they walk, the way they fight, especially. So it was important to not just have some generic style of fighting …” – Kevin

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You guys are getting on the ground floor of a new franchise… what was it like becoming these characters that people already love in the books?

“… I’m an actor but I’m also a fan. So it’s trying to put little bits of Lily in there, but staying true to how Cassie wrote her, but I think most of my character came into play once everyone else got into the room, you feed off of everyone else’s energy …” – Lily

“I guess what we have to do is we have to take on board what Cassie given us, the sort of bible there, for me I also wanted to please the fans, so I looked to what they wanted, and had to do stuff for me. It’s sort of those three things combined that, we worked around it and hopefully did something that was… comfortable.” – Jamie

“At the end of the day we’re making a film, and in order to, you’re not creating the exact person that was written on the page, you’re creating a person that has the same essence as that person.” – Kevin

There seems to be a lot of green screen in the filmmaking process, and also there’s a good dynamics between the three of you, so how’s the first day of filming like?

“There wasn’t too much green screen, maybe, like extending the height of the library, and there was a guy in a green suit pulling me when I was going through the portal. They pretty much had all the sets built for us, they had the characters, a lot of prosthetic work, so it wasn’t too difficult pretending.” – Lily

“… what I’m really keen to put out there that this a world that, the movie isn’t based in a world of werewolves and vampires, they’re just additions. It’s not like we’re trying to recreate the werewolf or the vampire, as an image, like some modern movies. They exist in this world but ultimately the story is about this girl who goes on this incredible journey who finds out who she is, and her heritage.” – Jamie

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What drew you to the part that ended up being your role?

“I think to me it was an honor to be able to say “I can create this really strong, kind of badass character and have him also be gay”, and sort of kill some of the stereotype of the prototypical gay character.” – Kevin

“… there was this sort of “rock star element” that I really liked about Jace. The vulnerability about him, that I really dug…” – Jamie

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“I liked the fact that this series in general, it’s not about romance, it’s not about drama, it’s not about action. It really stems from, it’s an ensemble piece, but the catalyst to start this whole experiment with Clary really finding out who she is, this whole journey is her finding her mom (played by Lena Headey)... I’m really close to my mom, so that to me was something I thought was really admirable about her.” – Lily


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opens Wednesday, August 21 in the US and the UK.

(For Grace, Gina and Gladys: It opens in Indonesia on August 28 😀 )


What do you think of this one folks? Will you be seeing the movie?

FlixChatter Review: Jobs

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The main draw for me about this film is not the talents involved, but the subject matter of one of the most revered innovator of the 20th century. As a huge fan of Apple products, naturally both my hubby and I knew quite a bit about Steve Jobs’ life. My hubby more so than I am as he’s read a lot more stuff on him, including the Walter Isaacson’s official biography that’s published shortly before his death. There is another biopic in the works that’s going to be based on that book, currently in the development stage with Aaron Sorkin as the writer. Now, THAT is the biopic I’m looking forward to, which I read recently has gotten the blessings from Steve Wozniak. THIS film on the other hand, was made with no involvement from Apple whatsoever, Steve Wozniak himself would not recommend the film, saying he was ‘turned off’ by Jobs’ script (posted in the comment section of Gizmodo.com review the film.

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This film focuses on the early years of Apple, how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first came up with the first personal computer. It began with one of Job’s famous keynotes (or Stevenotes) in 2001 when he unveiled one of Apple’s masterpiece iPod, which forever changed the way people listen to music, and the music industry itself. Then it wind back about 30 years with Steve sleeping on a sofa at Reed College, Portland, unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. It was shot in a whirlwind of vignettes with the Hippy-looking Jobs getting high with his friends, a trip to India to find ‘enlightenment’, working at Atari where his insolent work ethic clashes with his co-workers. All of this happens relatively fast, but I felt like the movie sort of got off in the wrong foot for me as even 10 minutes in, I already found it to be tedious, even grating. To be honest, despite their physical resemblance, I’m not exactly fond of Ashton Kutcher‘s casting. He just gets on my nerves and seeing him portraying Jobs behaving badly just accentuates that.

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To be fair, as the film went on, I found that Kutcher’s portrayal isn’t the worst part of the film. I actually think he did his best with imitating Jobs’ gestures, the way he walked, etc., trying earnestly to shed the image of the dimwitted Kelso from That 70s Show. Unfortunately, there’s more to a compelling portrayal of a real-life persona that mere physicality. On top of that, the superficial, ‘episodic’ script from first timer Matt Whiteley doesn’t do him any favor. Once in flashback mode, the film pretty much tread along in a linear fashion.

Still, it was amusing to see how he and Wozniak ended up building Apple computers out of Jobs’ parents’ garage. Seeing what Wozniak (Josh Gad) came up with, which he didn’t seem to think much of, Jobs was inspired to combine a typewriter with a TV, and that’s how Apple II was born. Then came Mike Markkula (Dermot Mulroney – who’s good here though he looks nothing like the real guy!), a former Intel engineer who came on board to fund their business. Apple II ended up being a hit at the San Francisco’s West Coast Computer Faire (Jobs was only 21 years old at the time) and the rest is well, history.

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I think people who are familiar with the story of Apple would recognize right away the supporting characters in the film: Matthew Modine as CEO John Scully (which Jobs personally recruited from Pepsi), J.K. Simmons as Apple Board leader Arthur Rock, as well Kevin Dunn as CEO Gil Amelio which Jobs ousted in 1997 in a boardroom coup as Apple stocks continued its downward slump.

Yet the dramatization just isn’t all that compelling. In fact, for a biopic about one of the most creative brains of this century, the way his story is told lacks creativity. Director Joshua Michael Stern often tries to hard to be imaginative with his camera angles and whatnot, i.e. blurry effect before a scene comes into focus, but it feels too gimmicky to me. All the details about Jobs’ quirks (being a fruitarian, lack of physical hygiene, his temper tantrums, etc.) are well-covered here, but the film never really captured the ‘essence’ nor the ‘heart’ of the character. It seems that the film is far more concerned about portraying the ‘genius’ aspect of Jobs, completely glossing over his personal life. It’s never explored how he went from being a complete jerk to his pregnant girlfriend to being a family man with Laurene Powell up until the day of his death. Not sure how he got around to naming the first Apple computer after his first daughter after he vehemently rejected the idea that he was the father.

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In the finale, when Jobs recited his most famous quote for his Think Different campaign, I didn’t feel that this film earned it. I remember being so moved when I first heard that quote years ago that ends with “… because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Yet hearing it at the end of this film didn’t quite have the same impact. Perhaps because the Steve Jobs as portrayed in this film failed to connect with me. If anything, it makes me long for the other biopic that I mentioned above.

Final Thoughts: Subpar script, lackluster direction and that Kutcher’s lack of dramatic chops contribute to something that looks more like a TV movie. Heck, even the decidedly made-for-TV Pirates of Silicon Valley that focused on the parallel lives of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got a much better critical reviews. I really think the people involved in this film tried to bite more things than they can chew, perhaps it might’ve been better if they had narrowed the scope of the film and focused on a certain period of Jobs life instead. So yeah, this one certainly would NOT end up in my list of favorite Biopics.

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2 out of 5 reels

Well, what do you think of this film and/or Ashton Kutcher in general?