FlixChatter Review: EQUALIZER 2 (2018)

With such a long and successful career, it’s hard to believe that Denzel Washington has never starred in a sequel until now. The first Equalizer film was a modest success at the box office, but I didn’t think it warrants a sequel. But then again, this is an era in Hollywood when every movie can be turned into a franchise.

Retired secret agent Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) still lives under the radar and uses his special skills to help the helpless. As the story begins, he rescued a little girl from her evil father and returned her to her mother. After the successful mission, McCall is back in Boston where he works as a Lyft driver. He lives a mundane life and try to stay out of the limelight as much as possible. One day he was notified that his friend and ex-colleague Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo) was murdered while investigating an assassination of an asset who worked for the CIA. He realized someone from his past is trying to get rid of his teammates and he must use his skills to find out who’s responsible. He enlisted the help of his old partner Dave York (Pedro Pascal) and the two must work together again to find out who’s behind the killings.

Written by Richard Wenk, who also wrote the first film, the story is pretty straightforward. There aren’t any surprises or anything that hasn’t been done in this kind of genre. There are couple of subplots that didn’t really add much to the narrative. One involves McCall trying to help an old man reunite with is long lost sister and the other involves him trying to help his young neighbor kid from gang violence. These two subplots just slowed down the main plot of the story and made the film a lot longer than it should’ve been.

With not much of a deep plot, you’d think director Antoine Fuqua would fill the void with big action scenes after another, but surprisingly the film lacks big thrills. The film contains only couple of fight scenes and a big climatic sequence that takes place during a hurricane. Now I don’t know if Fuqua couldn’t get enough money to shoot more action scenes or he just wanted to make this one more of low key action film. I do have to give shout out to director of photography Oliver Wood, who I think is very underrated, this film looks pretty great. The aforementioned hurricane sequence was one of the best shot action scenes I’ve ever seen. He and Fuqua did a great job of combining practical effects and CGI.

Washington again commands the screen and he’s great as usual. He’s able to convey a character who has all these special skills and willing to help people, but his personal life is nothing special. Here’s a man who’s trying to escape his past and trying to atone for whatever he did by helping others, but he can’t seem to help himself. The rest of actors were kind of just there to fill the screen so Washington to interact with. None of the supporting cast members stood out to me.

The film is way too long and needed better pacing. Hopefully for the third sequel, they can come up with a better story and give us more action. I still enjoyed this one, just like the first film, I don’t have the urge to see it again anytime soon.

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So have you seen EQUALIZER 2? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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I gotta admit, I’m not much of a Western fan. Though interestingly enough, I’ve liked three western remakes in the past decade: 3:10 To Yuma, True Grit and then this one. Confession: I have NOT seen any of the original films. Now, people who have seen the original films would likely have a different opinion about the remake. For me, I guess I get the benefit of seeing the story for the first time, with nothing to compare it with.

The main draw for me to see this is the cast. Reportedly director Antoine Fuqua pitched the film to financiers with ‘Denzel Washington in all black riding a horse.’ Well if I were one of those financiers I’d definitely say ‘hell yeah’ to that, and that is quite a sight to behold. As with a lot of Westerns, well those I’ve seen anyway, we see the lone hero riding into town on his horse before we finally see his face. It’s interesting that Denzel being Black in that era naturally drives extra attention from townsfolk, even more so as he goes into a saloon. He’s definitely got the natural charisma, and here he’s got that cowboy swagger to boot!

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In the opening scene, we see a merciless and cruel industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (a slimy Peter Sarsgaard) terrorizing and murdering people in the tiny town for their land and mines. Poor Matt Bomer barely lasted past the opening credits! The first half pretty much is a recruiting process as Denzel’s Sam Chisolm gathered enough men to fight against Bogue and his men. First one he recruited is Josh Faraday (a great name that fits Chris Pratt nicely), a strapping cowboy w/ a devil-may-care attitude. Next  are Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his partner in crime Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), tall-dark-and-handsome Mexican outlaw Vazquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and lastly, Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Each member of the awesomely-monikered gang has their own special skills, and given that Fuqua employed actors of various races, the skill is tailored to their heritage. Billy Rocks is a knife-wielding expert and Red Harvest is a master in archery, etc. but of course all of them are adept with guns as well. Out of the seven riders, naturally Denzel is my fave. Pratt looks like he’s having a blast here and I really like the dynamic between Hawke and Lee as the unlikely BFFs. I also couldn’t help swooning over Garcia-Rulfo, I sure hope to see more of Mexican actor in the future.


I have a great time watching this thanks to the eclectic cast. Apart from the calm and wise Chisolm, they look like they could be killing each other too and the banters are pretty fun throughout. Naturally this is not a character-driven piece, so details such as what exactly happened to Robicheaux is unclear. The only one with somewhat of a backstory is Chisolm, which isn’t revealed until the very end. Given that it’s 2016, writers Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto updated the story with a strong woman in the core of the conflict. Emma Cullen (newcomer Haley Bennett) isn’t so much a damsel in distress, as she actively seeks out Chisolm to help avenge her town and she refuses to just sit and watch the battle unfolds. I think the weakest link here is Sarsgaard who is more annoying than menacing. Even the last mano-a-mano is rather lackluster as he barely hold a candle to Denzel in terms of charisma and screen presence.

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The action and shootouts are what one would expect, peppered with humor and one liners, mostly from Pratt. Some of the action is preposterous, as some of the heroes manage to stay alive despite being shot several times but they can take down their enemies with a single bullet. But hey, I was expecting a fun action comedy instead of a deep, story-driven piece, so I’m not exactly disappointed. What it lacks in genuine suspense it’s more than made up by the well-staged action and stunning cinematography. I sure hope Mauro Fiore‘s name will come up during award season as he’s done amazing work here that made me wish I had seen this movie on IMAX! He’s a longtime Fuqua collaborator who’s also the DP for Avatar.

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I have to mention the fantastic music as well. The late James Horner wrote seven pieces of the score before he died, so this was his last project. His wonderful score still has a bit of the iconic theme by Elmer Bernstein, and I love that they used the rousing original score (which I called the Marlboro score as it’s used in its commercial) at the end of the movie. I’m definitely going to do a Music Break on it as my hubby and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all weekend!

I’m glad I saw this movie and it’s one I don’t even mind seeing again. I can’t tell you if it’s as magnificent as the original, but if you’re looking for a fun ride full of entertaining characters, you could do far worse than this remake. In fact, my hubby and I are contemplating about seeing this again on an IMAX screen, it just might be the first Western I’m willing to see twice on the big screen!

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Have you seen this movie? Well, did you like it more or less than I did?

FlixChatter Review: The Equalizer (2014)

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With the comic book based films dominating the box office, the trend in Hollywood of turning old TV shows into films has died down the last decade or so. I remember back in the 90s, there were new movies based on TV shows coming out every year, Mission: Impossible, The Fugitive, The Brady Bunch Movie and The Saint were some examples. Of course that doesn’t mean Hollywood is going to stop turning old shows into movies, this latest one has been in development for a few years. Originally the late Tony Scott was attached to direct and Russell Crowe was set to star as the lead. After a couple of years of development, Crowe had to drop out to do other films, Denzel Washington was then cast but of course we all know what happened to Scott. The film was put on hiatus for a couple of years until Antoine Fuqua was hired to direct.

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Set in Boston, the movie opens with the daily life of a mysterious man named Robert McCall (Washington), he works at store that’s very similar to Home Depot. We get to see his every day routines and who interacts with at work. He couldn’t sleep at night so he’d always go to a local diner next to his home. One night he strikes up a conversation with a young woman named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), right away we know that Teri is a working girl. But McCall is nice to her and never sees her as anything more than a kid who’s having a tough life. A few days later, McCall found out that Teri was rough up by her pimp named Slavi (David Meunier, cousin Johnny from Justified). He decided to pay Slavi a visit and offer him $9800 for Teri’s freedom. Slavi refused and as most of you probably seen in the trailer, McCall took out Slavi and his men easily. As it turns out Slavi was a one of the pawns of a ruthless Russian mobster named Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich), he’s one of the biggest crime lord in the world. Upon learning that one of pawns in the US was taken out, he sends his right-hand man Teddy (the always over top and cheesy Marton Csokas) to investigate and bring in who ever was responsible for the killings.

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Not surprisingly, the movie was pretty much a by-the-number action thriller, nothing will surprise you except for maybe the over the top violence. Some might say it’s gratuitous but I think we are use to seeing watered down PG-13 action movies the last decade or so that we forgot how violent action movies were back in the 80s and 90s, so I wasn’t bothered by the violence.

Director Antoine Fuqua kept some elements from the TV show but wisely update many things for today’s audiences. I wasn’t a fan of his last flick; the dreadful and ugly looking Olympus Has Fallen. Here I thought he did a good job of balancing the drama and action, the movie was borderline of becoming too serious for its own good but I never thought it took itself way too serious like some other action pictures. He reunited with his cinematographer Mauro Fiore, they previously worked together on Training Day and Tears of the Sun. I thought the movie looked great, it has that gritty feel to it that reminded me of Scorsese’s gangster films and even though the movie was shot digitally, they still made it looked like it’s shot on film. I’ve mentioned many times, I can’t stand watching movies that looks like it’s shot with consumer camcorders. Fuqua also staged some cool and very brutal hand to combat sequences, the climatic fight between McCall and one of Teddy’s henchmen was quite bloody and painful to watch. For this kind of movie I wanted to see more shootouts and explosions but there were enough action that I wasn’t too disappointed. But for the climatic action sequence, I didn’t understand why Fuqua decided to copy Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider. Seriously he must’ve watched that movie and thought “Hey I can do that for my movie and no one will probably know since Pale Rider came out almost 30 years ago!” Sorry Fuqua, film geeks like myself will always know.

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This movie was a one-man show and again Washington shines as the action hero. McCall’s a mix of Creasy from Man on Fire, Travis from Taxi Driver and the Preacher from Pale Rider. He’s one-man army that can take down an army of assassins with no problems. As mentioned earlier, the always over-acting Marton Csokas does it again here as the antagonist Teddy. He wasn’t as cheesy as his character in XXX, kind of similar to his assassin turn in The Bourne Supremacy. Moretz only appeared in the movie briefly as the young hooker and then disappeared and she did okay for her part, kind of similar to Jodie Foster’s character in Taxi Driver, pretty sure she won’t get an Oscar like Foster did though.

As fan of the old TV show I was satisfied with the movie version but again it’s nothing new but just another by the number action thriller. If you’re a big fan of the TV show then you might have issues with some of the changes the movie made for today’s audiences but like Mission: Impossible, you can’t please everyone. It’s obvious that Sony hopes this one will be hit because the movie set up with sequels in mind. I say this was an entertaining action picture and good for a matinee or rental.

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Have you seen The Equalizer? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Olympus Has Fallen

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I was wondering the other day if it’s possible to find a review of this movie that does not mention the words Die Hard. Seems that the comparison is inevitable and it seems that Olympus Has Fallen is begging for a comparison. In fact, perhaps it’s an homage to that action franchise, as it’s more akin to the spirit of the original Die hard movie than its official sequel (and if the latest one is any indication, much less banal)! Surely this movie will make you nostalgic about 90s bombastic action extravaganza (whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you).

If you’ve seen the trailer, or even a poster, then you’ll know the plot. The White House is being attacked by a group of North Korean terrorists and hold the president hostage. As is with a lot of 90s action flicks, there is only one person who could save the day and that man is Leonidas Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). The first ten minutes or so of exposition reveals a tragic event during his day as a Presidential guard. Again, if you’ve seen the trailer, you know exactly what happened, but in case you haven’t I’m not going to mention it here. In any case, Banning is now confined to a desk job and even as time passes he’s still consumed with regret that he let his boss and friend, that is President Asher, down. So naturally, he’s more than eager to redeem himself when the chance presented itself one sunny Summer day. The attack comes hard, fast and vicious. The first attack came from above, but instead of a space ship, practically the entire Washington DC is sprayed with bullets from an air carrier, and within 13 minutes (yes the terrorist leader was counting), the supposedly most secure building in the entire free world is reduced to rubble with dead bodies piling up on its grounds.

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The words fresh and original aren’t likely to be associated with this film, but it certainly stays completely true to its title. Olympus indeed has fallen, and Antoine Fuqua doesn’t pull any punches with the brutality of how it goes down. It’s rated R for a reason, it’s violent and bloody. I lost count how many people getting shot in the head at close range, not to mention all the severe stabbings. Both the good and bad guys deliver all kinds of ways to send people to their Maker. Banning himself has no qualms in *taking care* of the enemies. He seems to subscribe to the same “No mercy! No surrender!” motto as his most famous role in 300, but with a bit more humor thrown in. Some of the one-liners did deliver some laughs, especially his defiant quips at the Pentagon folks, though Butler’s character not quite as charismatic as Bruce Willis’ John McClane as the script lacks some serious wit.

Unfortunately it’s lacking in common sense as well. I mean, granted the believability factor depends on whether you’d believe a group of extreme terrorists could deliver such a blow to the United States. The thing is, I don’t know how such a big aircraft could enter our airspace, passing through Andrew Air force Base, without being shot down?? The security forces are so quickly rendered powerless by the enemy, it’s as if they’ve never been trained to respond to emergency attack whatsoever. But the biggest plot blunder of all to me is how Banning is still able to get security clearance once he’s inside the President’s compound as he’s technically no longer part of the Service. Yet could still use his thumb print to gain access, has the right code to open a safe, etc. as if he’s never left!! I mean, they didn’t change authorization codes every time there’s a shift in the security personnel? WOW, some *security* huh?

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Now, I can’t possibly write this review and not mention the cheesy special effects. I get that this is a throwback to 90s action blockbuster, but do they have to throw in 90s SFX as well?? It gets distracting at times, especially during the ambush scene in broad daylight. Fortunately things get better and grittier as the day progresses, and the action gets more up-close with more hand-to-hand combat between Butler and whoever is unlucky enough to get in his way. Butler is utterly believable as a bad ass special forces (is there any other kind in the movies?), he’s definitely credible in action flicks and as a one-man army. Yet he’s not wooden or vacant like many action stars, he still brings a touch of humanity to the role as the mission is a personal one for his character. There’s some emotional resonance in his scenes with Aaron Eckhart as the beleaguered POTUS, and also with his young son.

The supporting cast are stellar but not really given much to do. We’ve seen Eckhart and Morgan Freeman in far better roles, but their presence are more than welcome and add gravitas to the project. Melissa Leo got more screen time than I thought, though it’s curious what made the Oscar winner sign on to do THIS particular role. I’m disappointed that Angela Bassett — who still look beautiful and athletic — didn’t get to do any butt-kicking in this movie! I was sure she would get to do some of that when she was cast as the head of Secret Service. Rick Yune pretty much rehashed his role as Bond villain in Die Another Day as the villainous mastermind Kang who’s hellbent to get his hands on US nuclear missiles. I guess he’s serviceable but nothing more, a far cry from the iconic performance of say, Hans Gruber, as Kang is neither menacing nor entertaining. I’d say the characters of Dylan McDermott and Radha Mitchell could’ve been left in the cutting room floor and they won’t make a dent.

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Well, this movie doesn’t exactly put Butler back in my good graces just yet. He still needs to be much more selective in his role choices and most importantly, seek out decent scripts! A lot of his projects have potential but suffer from poor writing. I do think he’d be better off doing more action thrillers than rom-coms, though I do wish he balance things out with dramatic roles, too.

The spirit of patriotism is so high in this movie, there’s absolutely no room for subtlety. But seems like in the screening I was in, the audience ate it up, I could tell people were rooting for Butler as the lone hero. A torn down American flag being thrown by the bad guys from rooftops falls in slow-motion as a patriotic score comes on, there are plenty of moments like this and I can’t help but feel a bit emotional despite its inherent corny-ness. Btw, Lincoln also makes an appearance here, and you’d cheer when he [sort of] shows up on screen.

Final Thoughts: Despite all the flaws, I still think this one is not a bad movie. In fact, it’s actually quite entertaining and action fans should be pleased to see the relentless combat scenes and countless shootouts. Apart from the rather sluggish start, there’s not a boring moment as the action never stops. There’s also a decent level of suspense overall, and I definitely feel a pang in my gut seeing our leaders being violated in such a way. The subject matter of terrorism is sadly still relevant to this day, and at times it really hit close to home. Fuqua said in an interview that he sought to show America’s post-9/11 vulnerability and he certainly achieved that.


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Those who’ve seen this one, what did you think? And for those who haven’t, are you going to check this one out?

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite White House movie scene?

OlympusHasFallenPosterI’m set for an advanced screening of the white house actioner Olympus Has Fallen tomorrow. Surely you’ve seen the pretty aggressive promos of that one all over the place. Interestingly enough, the marketing for the movie has been putting the White House itself as the main STAR of the film. I mean there are some posters that feature the actors, but the white house is always featured prominently on there, as if we’d forget what that iconic POTUS house actually looks like! Now, that’s perhaps saying something about the lead actor of the movie, don’t you think?

Anyway, early reviews I’ve read so far have been surprisingly decent. Of course we shall see come Thursday what the actual RT score would be, but right now it’s sitting at 67%. WOW! Though this movie was on my radar, I didn’t even put this one on my most-anticipated list, as you know how I feel about Gerry Butler these days. It’s amusing that many reviewers are saying that it’s the best Die Hard movie of the year, ahah, take that Bruce Willis! I’m not expecting much, but I can’t imagine this one would be worse than A Good Day to Die Hard, besides I think Antoine Fuqua is a pretty decent director.

Anyway, it made me think of memorable movie scenes set in the White House (regardless of whether it’s actually shot on location or on a made-up set). Then I’ll turn it over to you folks to give me YOUR pick of memorable White House scene. It doesn’t have to be action-related, in fact the idea here is to give and take movie recommendations to fellow cinephiles.

So here are three that came to mind right away:

Pardon the quality of the video, but this is an awesome intro scene in X-Men 2, my favorite of the whole X-Men saga.

Terrence Stamp and one of his most iconic Superman lines, “Kneel Before Zod!” I’m curious how Michael Shannon would fare in that role in Man of Steel!

Of course who could forget this one. I’d say it’s perhaps the most iconic scene involving the White House to date, and ID4 is what Roland Emmerich will always be remembered for.

Now, not all of memorable scenes are about an attack of the White House of course. In fact, I always remember this scene from Clear and Present Danger where Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) confronted the President. Too bad the clip cuts out the part when Jack defiantly said, “I’m sorry Mr. President. I don’t dance!”

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Now your turn folks. Give us your favorite movie(s) and/or movie scenes set in the White House.

Gerard Butler Special: What’s next for my favorite Scot

Taking cues from my fellow Indonesian blogger Novia who’s done a great job keeping us updated on what her #1 crush Cillian Murphy is up to, I decided to keep you abreast on what’s going on with MY #1 crush 😉 I will be doing another follow-up posts that list the projects for the other four actors that round up my top five crush list (that I listed on Novia’s 5-men to drool on post) 😀

Seems like the last few months he’s been constantly rumored to be cast in all kinds of movies. I counted seven projects listed under pre-productions in his IMDb page.

  • Manhunt (pre-production)
  • Olympus Has Fallen (pre-production)
  • Crossface (pre-production)
  • Thunder Run (pre-production)
  • Motor City (pre-production)
  • Brilliant (pre-production)
  • Hunter Killer (pre-production)

None of them seems to have any real confirmation, that is until last week there’s news about Olympus Has Fallen, a.k.a. the other Die Hard in the White house movie that Millennium Films are developing (more on that later). The only other possible project out of that list that seems legit is Albert Hughes’ Motor City. I was really psyched about that one when Gary Oldman was involved [even GB himself was very excited about the possibility of working with his acting hero] but now Oldman has exited the project, bummer! I do hope they’ve got another excellent actor in Oldman’s place.

Before I get to his upcoming projects, here’s the rundown of the films he’s wrapped and will be out later this year:

Chasing Mavericks

I just read on this site that the title has now been changed from Of Men and Mavericks (though it’s not reflected yet on the poster below), I prefer the former but I suppose the simpler title is easier to remember.

Director: Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential)

Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Scott Eastwood, Jonny Weston

Butler made the news back in December during filming and almost lost his life! He was getting ready to film action scenes when he was thrown off his surfboard and pummeled by breakers at least 12 feet high, then held underwater for two consecutive waves before being hit on the head by four or five more when he managed to swim to the surface. (per Daily Mail). He described the surfing incident during this Graham Norton interview and said he was under for almost a minute!

I am VERY excited about this one because of Hanson’s involvement and the fact that Gerry is learning how to surf for this film. Mavericks tells the true story of a courageous young surfer who trains with an old school master of the sport to reach heights that few men ever dare. Frosty, (Butler) a quiet, reclusive surfing guru, struggles to balance his addiction for the rush of riding waves with the responsibilities of raising a family (per letitcast.com).

Check out the gorgeous and majestic-looking poster [thanks to my pal Terrence], man look at that wave!

Release Date: October 26, 2012

Playing the Field

Director: Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness)

Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Judy Greer

I have talked about that movie here as well as posted some on-set photos. The premise seems tailor-made for Gerry. He plays a former professional soccer player with a wild past who tries to redeem himself by coaching his son’s soccer team, only to find himself tempted by the kids’ restless and gorgeous moms. Two of those moms are Zeta-Jones and Thurman, I think Biel is playing his ex-wife. Not a bad female cast at all, well, apart from Biel that is.

I sincerely hope they have a different poster than this one, but what I REALLY want to see is a trailer!

Release Date: December 7, 2012

Now, here’s one he’ll be filming soon that I’m quite excited about:

Olympus Has Fallen

Director: Antoine Fuqua (Training Day)

Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott

THR reported that this movie — which was marketed at Cannes as White House Taken —that Butler plays a Secret Service agent who has fallen from grace — until the White House is attacked and taken over by a team of North Koreans armed with extraordinary technology. Everything the Pentagon throws at the problem fails and it falls on Butler’s character, who knows the famous building like nobody else, to save the president and the country. Heh, I don’t like either one of the title, but hopefully this is just temporary and they’ll come up with something better. This is that other ‘Die Hard in the White House’ movie that’s probably going to be out of the same time next year. Kind of like the battle of the Snow Whites this year.

Eckhart reportedly will play the U.S. President and Bassett has signed on to play the role of the head of the Secret Service. Now just yesterday, news came in that Dylan McDermott will also play one of the secret service agents, presumably under Bassett’s command? Well, well, well, how many hunks could one movie have? 😉 I initially wasn’t keen on this one but I’m quite excited about this project now. I mean I LOVE the cast, just Butler and Bassett alone is enough to sell the movie, and now we’ve got Eckhart on top of the bargain. Plus Fuqua’s gritty style should make this intriguing and he’s certainly has a way with actors.

Additional cast info:

A few hours after I posted this, THR reported that Oscar winner Melissa Leo is in negotiation to portray ‘a tough secretary of Defense who cracks when tortured,’ and Rick Yune is confirmed to play the villain of the movie, ‘a North Korean posing as a South Korean ministerial aide who is described as a sociopath monster.’ Cole Hauser (as one of the FBI agents) and Radha Mitchell (as Butler’s wife) have also joined the cast. Ashley Judd has also been cast as the First Lady and Robert Forster as a US general.

Filming has started in Shreveport, Louisiana and one lucky fan posted this photo on the right with Butler who’s now clean-shaven and sporting a new cropped hair [swoon] 😀

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Btw, the other White House action flick is helmed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) and starring the beefcake Channing Tatum as the secret agent who’ll save the day. Makes it a pretty easy choice which one I’ll go see, ahah.

Release Date: June 13, 2013

Thunder Run

Director: Simon West

Cast: Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey

According to THR, this movie has received funding at Cannes. Reportedly, the script is adapted by Robert Port and Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) from Thunder Run — The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad by Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent David Zucchino. Principal photography is to start this Summer.

Butler told EMPIRE what the movie is about: “It’s about the initial attack on Baghdad, as US troops went in with a column of tanks called the Thunder Run — and it’s going to be done like Avatar,” Butler says. “My face and body will be recorded with little cameras and everything else will be CGI, painted in in the background. I’ve never read a script with more action, more explosions, more violence. If you didn’t do it like this, it would cost $300 million. I saw a three-minute test-piece and it blew my balls off.”

A little trivia: McConaughey has worked w/ Butler before in Reign of Fire, yep with our favorite Batman Christian Bale, no less. Butler played Bale’s BFF in a dragon-infested dystopian Britain.

I don’t know about this one, I’m going to wait and see as the subject matter doesn’t appeal to me. I’m far more psyched about How To Train Your Dragon 2, GB’s first ever sequel project and I’m glad it’s something I’ll definitely enjoy!

The role that got away

I’ve got to talk about that casting news on Highlander that’s been swirling around lately. Well, a couple of weeks ago, it’s apparently confirmed that Ryan Reynolds is going to reprise the role of the immortal Scottish warrior Connor MacLeod. So it seems that role authenticity has gone by the wayside again. As you know, the original MacLeod in the 1986 movie was played by a French guy Christopher Lambert with Sean Connery playing a Spaniard (good grief!), and now we’ve got a Canadian native in the role. So maybe this time Ramirez might be played by… Brian Cox? Or might as well just get Billy Connolly there, hot off the success of Pixar’s Brave [shrug]

Well, it’s no surprise WHO my pick would be for MacLeod…

Despite being perhaps a bit too old for the role, I think Butler would’ve ROCKED it. A real Scotsman who has done a plethora of heroic roles in the past. He can swing a mean sword better than anyone and he wouldn’t have to fake a Scottish accent. I was having some Twitter discussion with my Glaswegian friend Mark of MarkedMovies and his pick for the role is Robert Carlyle.

If not Butler, I personally would rather see an unknown who’s the right age and ethnicity than Reynolds any day. Ah well, I’ve said my rant so I guess I’ll just try to let this go.

Roles I’d LOVE to see him do

Well of course I’d love to see him do a British romantic thriller like Hearts Want that I pitched a couple of years ago. I think a role that requires him to be a ‘tough guy with a heart’ suits him well and I’d love to see him opposite a sultry actress like Eva Green. Seems like all of the movies Butler’s signed on are all action-packed, I do hope he’d have some dramatic roles he’ll be signing on in the future as he’s got the chops for them. I’ve said so many times since I’ve seen what he’s capable of in the BBC miniseries The Jury, and most recently his soulful performance in Machine Gun Preacher. You can read my full review here and if you think I’m biased, then check out my pal Mark’s take on it here.

I’m still holding on to hope that he’ll do the Robert Burns biopic that I mentioned several times, here and here. I know Butler was interested to do it at one point so hopefully it’s still on his radar. There were reports that he had met with the potential director Vadim Jean and it’s to be written by Alan Sharp (Rob Roy – check out my friend Michael’s in-depth review of the film). Even the Scottish Government was supposedly going to provide financial backing for the film. Not sure what happened since, but by golly, if he can’t do MacLeod, here’s another role where he can actually play a Scotsman!!

Plus Scotland’s favorite son is supposedly quite the ladies man, so a role tailor-made for Butler, right? 😉

Producing Gigs

Butler and his long-time manager Alan Siegel formed a production company Evil Twins back in 2008. Apparently his company was being sued by another production company called Evil Twins Prods [per THR], so I believe now they go by Alan Siegel Entertainment.

In any case, Butler’s been wearing the producer’s hat for a while, in fact he’s producing three of his upcoming films I’ve mentioned above: Of Men and Mavericks, Playing the Field and Olympus Has Fallen.

Well, I read in LA Times that he’s now going to produce Septembers of Shiraz, which centers on a young Jewish girl in Iran whose life is thrown into disarray shortly after the 1979 revolution, when her wealthy jeweler father is brutally jailed. The story is based on Dalia Sofer’s debut novel.

The NY Times  review says, “Sofer writes beautifully… she tells her characters’ stories with deceptive simplicity. Every member of the Amin family attains a moving, and memorable, depth and reality.

I’ll keep an eye on this project, seems like an intriguing story that has a lot of dramatic potential.


Well, those are what Butler’s been up to. Which of his projects are you interested in?

Guest Post: Six directors’ career who got derailed by box office bombs

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Film directors know that it’s hard to make movies in Hollywood; it’s even harder to actually make a successful one. So when some of them hit the jackpot and make a box office hit, studio executives and fans are expecting nothing less from them in their next film. In the last few years, some filmmakers like Spielberg, Nolan, Fincher and Scorsese seem to be able to churn out hit after hit, but for some, that’s not the case. Below are some directors who’ve had one or two box office hits but haven’t made another successful film since.

1. Andrew Davis

Davis is a native of Chicago and shot most of his films there, and he started in the 80s making small-budget films. Then he got a shot at his first action film, Code of Silence, followed by another action flick, Above the Law. The first film starred Chuck Norris and the latter was Steven Seagal’s debut film. They were modest hits but nothing spectacular. In his next film he got to work with couple of big-name stars. He made The Package starring Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones, but unfortunately the film was a failure at the box office. Nevertheless, he made a name for himself with those three pictures, so he reunited with Seagal and Jones for his next film: Under Siege, his first big hit. He followed that with his biggest hit ever, The Fugitive. After The Fugitive, he was offered a lot of big tent pole projects, but he decided he wanted to make a smaller film. He didn’t know it, but that was the biggest mistake of his career. The following year he made a film called Steal Big Steal Little, a dramedy that was ignored by both the critics and audiences alike.

He went into panic mode to recover his career, and then made a very awful movie called Chain Reaction (starring Keanu Reeves who was also in a slump). Fortunately for Reeves, he bounced back a few years later with a little film called The Matrix. For Davis, on the other hand, the damage was already done and all the offers from the studios disappeared along with his fading career. I think the last film he made was The Guardian, which ironically starred another has-been, Kevin Costner.

2.  Michael Cimino

Cimino directing Christopher Lambert in The Sicilian

Cimino’s career started out on a high note. He first wrote a screenplay to Dirty Harry’s sequel Magnum Force, and he then directed Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (a much underrated film from the 70s). His next film, The Deer Hunter, turned out to be his biggest hit. Not only was the film a box- office success,  but it also won best picture and Cimino took home the best director award at the Oscars in 1979. Unfortunately for Cimino, his next picture was his downfall, the godfather of all box office failures, Heaven’s Gate (one of Hollywood’s ‘forgotten’ misfires). The film not only destroyed Cimino’s career, but it also bankrupted the studio that financed it, United Artists. Cimino did a few films after the Heaven’s Gate fiasco, but he couldn’t recover his career. He’s now pretty much disappeared from Hollywood.

3. Kevin Costner

This might be a controversial pick since Costner only directed three films. Well,  he also directed parts of Waterworld after that film’s original director walked off the set. Anyhoo, his first directing gig turned out to be his biggest box office hit: Dances with Wolves earned close to $200 million at the box office and won several awards at the Oscars—including best picture and director. Unfortunately for Costner, his next directing gig, The Postman, was one of the biggest box office duds of the decade. His next film, Open Range, was very good but it didn’t earn a lot of money and it earned little respect from top critics. He’s currently attached to direct a film called A Little War of Our Own. Since his leading man status is way behind him, he should just focus on directing films. Who knows? He might have a big comeback with his new film.

4. Antoine Fuqua

Fuqua started out directing music videos, and then made a couple of low-budget action films. His breakout film was Training Day; it’s still his highest-earning film. Unfortunately for Fuqua, his next two films, Tears of the Sun and King Arthur, were box office misfires, and they cost a lot of money to make. He was supposed to direct American Gangster right after King Arthur, but he was fired from that picture because he demanded more money and wanted to shoot the film entirely in NYC. The studio wasn’t willing to oblige him since his previous films were huge failures. Currently he’s attached to a few projects, and he’s not sure if any of them will make it to the big screen. I don’t know if he’ll ever have the success he had with Training Day. I think he’s a capable director—but nothing special.

5. Renny Harlin

Harlin’s biggest hit was Die Hard 2; he followed that up with Cliffhanger, which was a modest hit. In 1995 he made Cutthroat Island, and that is still considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time. The film cost more than $100 million, but it only earned about $10 million. The next year he made The Long Kiss Goodnight, another big-budget action film that tanked. Even though his two previous films failed at the box office, Warner Bros. still gave him $80 million to direct Deep Blue Sea. It opened in the summer of 1999 and was considered a modest hit. In 2001 he reunited with Stallone and made Driven, another $70 million picture. Unfortunately the film only earned about $30 million, and Harlin’s career was pretty much in the dump. He made a few films after Driven, but most of them either went directly to DVD or never opened in American theaters.

6. Jan De Bont

De Bont on the set of Tomb Raider 2 w/ Gerry Butler & Angelina Jolie

Jan De Bont started out in the film industry in the 1960s as a director of photography. Some of the famous films he shot were Die Hard, The Hunt For Red October, Basic Instinct and Lethal Weapon 3. His directorial debut was a 1994 summer flick, Speed, and it turned out to be a huge hit. He followed that up with another summer flick, Twister, and again it was a huge hit. So with two huge box office hits in a row, studio executives were kissing his butt and he decided to do Speed 2. Well, as it turned out Speed 2 was his kryptonite. The film cost more than $160 million to produce and reportedly De Bont was a mad man on the set. He and his leading man Jason Patric were constantly fighting during the shoot. The film opened in the summer of 1997, the critics tore it to pieces and most people ignored it. The film ended up being one of the biggest box office busts of the 90s.

De Bont had a couple of big films he intended to direct after Speed 2.  One was a huge budget action-adventure picture about a group of elite special forces hunting down the world’s worst terrorists. Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon films, Die Hard films, The Matrix films) was going to produce and they were eyeing either Eddie Murphy or Wesley Snipes for the lead role. For the younger readers out there, Murphy and Snipes were quite big stars back in the 90s. The other project was the Godzilla remake. If I remember correctly, De Bont asked Sony to give him $200mil to make the film. Of course he didn’t get to direct either of those since Speed 2 was a huge failure and studio executives didn’t want him to be in charge of their tent-pole pictures anymore.

Somehow De Bont was able to get $80 million from Dreamworks to make The Haunting, another bad film. It wasn’t as big a failure as Speed 2, but by this time it’s clear De Bont’s not in the A-list director class anymore. The last film he directed was Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, another bad film that tanked at the box office. That was the last film project he was involved in, and he hasn’t done anything since.

Article edited by Bob Filipczak


Well those are some directors who have had one or two hits in their resume, only to watch their career fizzle after one bad movie. It goes to show how tough it is to stay on top of your game in Hollywood. Now some of these directors might have another hit in the future. If I was a betting man, I would pick Kevin Costner as the one with the best shot of returning to the top again.