Weekend Viewing Roundup, Quick Thoughts on Comic-Con, & RED 2 review

Hello everyone! Hope you had an awesome weekend. If you happen to be at Comic-con the past few days, then I’m sure you had a blast (and you know I’m so green with envy!!) It made me feel a bit nostalgic seeing all those SDCC pics, maybe one day I’ll make it there again. Now, I haven’t read all the highlights from the big event but if I were at Hall H on Saturday, these two would’ve surely been the most scream-worthy panels!!

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Just LOOK at this X-Men: Days of Future Past cast… I mean seriously!!! It’s incredible how good Hugh Jackman still looks after his breakthrough role as Wolverine thirteen years ago. Can’t wait for this movie already!

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Thor who? Loki ruled Hall H!

I LOVE Tom Hiddleston‘s theatrical style and boy, this would’ve been the closest thing a lot of the Comic-con goers to seeing him ‘on stage.’ He certainly brought the house down with his performance! You can watch a video of it here.

Well, my weekend was ok (well considering I wasn’t at Comic-con), but hey, I got to see TREMORS, thanks to Cinekatz‘ Not-So-Secret Santa Review Swap in which I was “gifted” the monster flick from 1990 (review coming soon). I also rewatched Pacific Rim at IMAX Saturday night, which looks absolutely glorious in the giant screen. So that’s TWO monster movies in one weekend, which is a record for me 😀

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TREMORS
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PACIFIC RIM

I also got to re-watch one of my favorite superhero movies of all time. Well, even with a slew of comic-book movies since, I still rate this very high on my list. Batman Begins is one of the movies I’d bring if I were stranded in a desert island and I’d definitely pick it again in a heartbeat!

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BATMAN BEGINS

Now, here’s my new release review from the screening a few days ago:

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Though I enjoyed the first movie, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the sequel. The only main draw for me is the cast and really, that’s the main highlight of this movie and the filmmakers knew that. You don’t go into these kinds of movies looking for an engaging story or character study, but you know what, they didn’t pretend to be a bombastic, over-the-top action flick so I still end up enjoying this quite a bit.

There’s really no point talking about the plot here, as the story is set up in such a way where it actually suits the actors playing these cartoonish characters. It’s as if the filmmakers had a checklist of what they want these actors to do in the movie and so the plot is written around that, if that makes sense. Seems like the actors are hired to do what they do best, some of them even did a parody to their famous characters they’ve done in the past (you’ll know it when you see it). The Retired-Extremely-Dangerous gang is once again on the run, being chased left and right as they attempt to solve the puzzle of finding a portable nuclear device.

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It’s too bad Karl Urban isn’t back to reprise his role as he was one of the highlights for me in the first movie. Also, instead of Morgan Freeman, we’ve got another seasoned actor (both happen to be 76 years old!) Anthony Hopkins. Nice to see him doing a comedic role though he’s not as fun to watch as Freeman.

Bruce Willis is back as Frank, which is basically a variation of John McClane (seems like Bruce is done with playing any other characters these days). Mary Louis Parker gets more screen time this time as his love interest Sarah, which is fine by me and she, along with John Malkovich‘s Marvin are the real comic relief in this movie. Their scenes together, especially the car chase all over Paris in a white Citroën, are preposterous fun. I guess you could describe the movie in that way as well. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed this movie as much if it weren’t for the actors. I love watching Dame Helen Mirren reprising her bad ass role of Victoria and her car case with Byung-hun Lee is hysterical! It’s right up there with all the outrageous action in those Fast & Furious movies.

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I think the weakest link for me is Catherine Zeta-Jones as a Russian femme-fatale who used to be Frank’s lover. Her character is so darn boring and her romance with Willis’ character just falls flat. “Katja’s Frank’s ‘kryptonite,” Marvin explained to Sarah, which then drives her to do all kinds of jealous-driven shenanigans to one-up Katja. I do like charismatic Korean actor Byung-hun Lee here (not a bad replacement for Mr. Urban) who has a personal vendetta with Frank. He’s clearly hired for his awesome fighting skills and he totally delivered on that front.

Final Thoughts: The A-list cast seems to have a great time making this and it shows. Whilst it still brings the laughs and I was entertained for the most part, I do think the writing is so lazy and derivative. I hope they’re done with this movie, I mean how many franchises does Bruce Willis need?! I’m being generous here with my rating, because Mirren, Parker and Malkovich made me laugh so hard in this movie! Oh, there’s also Brian Cox in a small but memorable role, so yeah, there are TWO British thespians who’ve played Hannibal Lecter on screen!

3 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend recap. What did YOU watch this weekend?

Upcoming Flix Spotlight: R.I.P.D and interview w/ extra Tim Jacobs

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Summer is a great time for action comedies! When I first saw this trailer earlier this year, I thought this is a crazy mash-up of Men In Black (but with dead people) meets Ghostbusters… with The Dude and Green Lantern, no less.

After Detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is killed by accident, he is recruited into the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) and partnered with veteran officer Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). The R.I.P.D. is an organization of dead police officers tasked with protecting the living from arrogant, malevolent, bloodthirsty evil spirits who refuse to move into the afterlife

Apparently the story is based on a comic book by Peter M. Lenkov. The movie’s directed by Robert Schwentke who apparently passed on directing the sequel of another action comedy RED, and also stars Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker. Interestingly, both Reynolds and Parker have two movies coming up in the same weekend, Reynolds lends his voice in the animated feature Turbo and Parker is also in RED 2 (review coming soon).

Check out the latest trailer…

… and featurette w/ the cast:

Today we’ve got a special guest on this post…

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Tim Jacobs, a stage actor who worked as extra on the film – check out his profile on IMDb. Thanks to my friend Ashley (aka Tim’s girlfriend) for introducing us. Tim played one of the evil souls (deados) share some of his experience on the set. Check out our interview below:

1. Tell us what your role is in R.I.P.D and how you ended up getting involved with this project

R.I.P.D. is about of evil souls (deados) that escaped judgement and are hiding out on earth. The R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department) is in charge of finding and arresting these offending souls. In the movie, I was one of the Deados that worked closely with Hayes (Kevin Bacon) to bring about the end of the world as we know it.

 The casting process for this movie was unlike any audition I’d done before. Boston Casting, an incredible casting agency in (you guessed it) Boston contacted me about the audition. They were looking for a very specific type of person. They had to be over 6 feet tall and physically fit. The auditions themselves were incredible! You know you’re going to have fun when they don’t give you specifics, but tell you to wear “clothes you can move in.” The actual audition consisted of push-ups, pull-ups, jumping rope, box jumps, and various other physical activities including showing off some stage combat skills. Things went well and they picked a small group of us that day.

2. Did you get to work with any of the main cast?

The part of the story that I’m a part of is kind of the climax of the movie. It takes place on the roof of a building that was meticulously replicated in a giant warehouse. The set was entirely surrounded by green screen. It felt like we were in a giant green circus tent. The actual set was the exact size of the building it was modeled after, and with all the people on it, you could find yourself next to any number of cast members.

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Reynolds, Bacon and Bridges on set

We worked mostly with the main cast (although the stand ins were used from time to time) but we were instructed to maintain professionalism and not get all googly eyed when they walked by. They were all very nice. Jeff Bridges seemed to be one of the nicest guys around, Ryan Reynolds was very focused on the work, and Kevin Bacon was hilarious! We were with them for a good portion of our shoot and we did chat in between takes or sitting outside.

3. What’s a day on the set like? I learned that you have to wear a certain costume to play one of the dead monsters (Deado)?

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Tim in full costume

I maintain relationships with several of them on Facebook even now. Once the call comes though, we would have to quickly move into position as they set up the shot. When you are actually on set, everything moves very quickly and you always have to be aware of the people, cameras, and your Assistant Director.

Everyone was wicked nice though. The director (Robert Schwentke) was very good at letting the actors know what he wanted and how to better achieve it. The entire crew would help you out and answer any questions you had about anything. It was a wonderful work environment because everyone seemed to be on the same page.

The costume I wore was not much more than somewhat formal street clothes. But on certain CGI shots, we got to wear the “grey suits” (see below). These icons of the fashion world were made of a nice stretchy material and had the one size fits most feel to them. Luckily we didn’t have to wear these very often.

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4. I understand you’ve done a lot of stage work in various Shakespearean plays? Tell us what project you’re working on right now.

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Tim in a stage adaptation of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

The Director (Dan Beaulieu) has taken this show and spun it around much like a DJ remixes a song. In fact, we refer to the show as #Ahranjay (R+J) the remix. The show is a lot more intense and interesting than most of the productions of Romeo and Juliet that I have seen. It features Dubstep and live music as the heartbeat and driving force of the action. Among other things, we will be live tweeting during the shows, and finding all sorts of fun ways to interact with the audience. You can find more information on the show at prescottpark.org or find Seven Stages Shakespeare Company on Facebook. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth the $5 donation. Also, it is outdoors so there’s that.

5. What’s next for you? More stage work or are you looking to venture out into TV or films?

There is nothing like live theatre. There are no second takes when you are onstage in front of hundreds of people. What you do is what you get. The adrenaline (butterflies) I get during a live show can’t be compared with being on a movie set. But movies have their own fun. You don’t get the instant feedback like in theater, but instead there is a long wait to see your art. It is truly a lot of fun, even as an extra, to be part of a movie. I will keep auditioning for all sorts of performing arts, and whoever wants to work with me ultimately decides the steerage of my course.


Thanks again Tim for the interview! Check out Tim on Facebook.


Hope you enjoy the interview. Thoughts on this post, well let’s hear it!

FlixChatter Review: RED

I saw this back in August on an advance screening. Before the movie began, they told us that the special effect wasn’t final yet, but I didn’t really mind as the main draw for me to see this is the cast, mainly Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, AND John Malkovich. I thought that even if the story is crappy, the cast would still make it entertaining. Glad to say I was right, and the story actually isn’t too bad.

RED is a rowdy and facetious espionage action comedy. As I learned when I posted the trailer, apparently the decidedly the movie is a far cry from the ultra-violent Warren Elis’ comic series. The movie also expands the focus from Frank Moses (or Paul in the comic, played by Willis) to include Freeman’s, Mirren’s and Malkovich’s characters: Joe, Victoria and Marvin.

The four former CIA top agents have all (except Marvin) seemed to settle in their retirement life. Frank leads a pretty boring life in the suburbs all by himself, with only Sarah (Mary Louise Parker) from the federal pension-benefits office keeping him company via phone conversations. Suddenly, his peace and quiet existence is interrupted by a covert strike from a group of special forces. Willis can pretty much do this type of role in his sleep, channeling his Die Hard‘s John McClane, only with a slightly more deadpan mannerism, as he takes out every single one of his attacker with ease.

Soon we learn that the fact that he knew too much, the Agency wants him and his friends dead. So Frank goes on the road to find them, but not before he finds Sarah, as he reckons they will also target those close to him. Inevitably she gets entangled into the whole spy business as the team must use their collective experience to stay one step ahead of the people after them and expose the government’s conspiracy cover-up.

Parker is pretty funny as the befuddled Sarah who soon becomes Frank’s enthusiastic ally in his mission. I suppose if I’m chained to my desk at work daily, I’d be as eager to live it up a bit. Morgan Freeman, who’s as adept in comedy as he is in dramatic fares, also brings in the laughs in most scenes he’s in, including one where he gleefully ogles the retirement home nurse as she fixes the TV.  Looks like Joe is the most comfortable with his retirement life. Now Marvin on the other hand, hasn’t moved on much from his old life. He lives on an underground bunker and is extremely high on conspiracy theories—a result of years CIA’s LSD experiments, Frank tells Sarah. Malkovich relish his inherent nuttiness with panache. He’s truly a great comic relief, as he often is, and his over-the-top acting is put to good use here.

Dame Mirren doesn’t show up until about 45 min to an hour into the movie, but when she does, it’s such a treat! Her Victoria is a classy lady who seemingly enjoy her Martha-Stewart-like activities. But she too never quite gets over the high of being a spy, and confesses to Frank that she still takes contract jobs on the side. One of the movie’s highlights are the shootout scene from a hotel’s kitchen to the parking garage, it’s such a hoot seeing Dame Mirren dressed in a cocktail dress going all trigger happy with that big machine gun!! Her bad assery is a real scene stealer. She was quoted at ComicCon saying “It was great to have guns instead of words, …because long speeches are harder.” (per MTV blog) Methinks the dame ought to do more action movies! 🙂

Oh did I mention the Scottish thespian Brian Cox also co-stars? He plays Mirren’s Russian love interest, who’s also Frank’s former arch nemesis. And 90-something Ernest Borgnine also has a memorable cameo appearance as a CIA archivist.

Last but not least, there’s Karl Urban, the other non-AARP member besides Louis Parker. I’ve talked about how I was quite mesmerized by the New Zealander in this post, which prompted me to think he’d make a great Bond. His character as a young CIA officer tasked to bring Frank in is pretty one-dimensional, but he plays him with such amiable charm that makes me care for his character and the dilemma he’s faced with.

The best part of this movie is how everyone seems to be having a ball making this fun caper, which makes the ride so enjoyable even if it’s not always smooth. It doesn’t have the tidiest script, but the cast more than makes up for it. I don’t even mind paying to see this again in the theater!

Well folks, any of you planning to go see it this weekend?