Long Weekend Roundup: An underrated Bond flick, a Sci-fi Horror and some TV Watching

Happy post-Thanksgiving weekend! Hope those of you in the States enjoyed your long weekend off, spending time with family and perhaps got some sweet deals from Black Friday? I was quite bummed that I missed the Amazon big sale on the Pixar’s BRAVE 3-disc- st blu-ray, it was only $8 bucks on Thursday from 2-6pm but I thought it was Friday! 😦 Ah well, I guess I’ll wait a bit longer until there’s another good deal for it.

Well, I got 5-days off this weekend so it’s movie-watching time in the comfort of my entertainment room. We actually skipped the cinema all week long as there’s really nothing that made the trip worthwhile. So it’s a lot of rewatching and catching up on older movies, including my third rewatch of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol which was still a lot of fun! I still got goosebumps watching Tom Cruise on top of that Burj Khalifa skyscraper!

I also got to rewatch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, something I’ve been wanting to do but finally iTunes has it available to rent.

I think I saw this movie years ago when I was growing up but my memory of it is hazy. So I felt like I have seen this for the first time now and I actually enjoyed it. Ok so George Lazenby is far from being my favorite James Bond and there are some silly parts, especially those with all the girls at Blofeld therapy session, ahah, and what’s with him and the kilt? 😀

Back to Lazenby though, I don’t think he’s a terrible Bond, he just doesn’t seem all that charismatic. He does have a lean, athletic physique and handles all the action and fight scenes stuff very well. He even looked manly wearing a ruffled shirt! Perhaps if he had done a couple more films, I might like him more than Brosnan but I guess we’ll never know. I quite like Telly Savalas as Blofeld, he’s not super menacing but not cartoon-ish either. Diana Rigg is fabulous as the beautiful and feisty Contessa Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo, the kind of brain + beauty combo I like, just like Eva Green’s Vesper. Now I know why my friend Michael likes Rigg so much 😉

I think the action stuff is excellent, especially the ski and sled chase scenes. But it’s the love story aspect that separates this Bond film from the rest, and that end scene when Bond cradles Tracy’s lifeless body in his arms is so heartbreaking. Even though I already knew it’s going to happen, I still teared up as he said, ‘It’s ok really, we have all the time in the world.’ Speaking of which, that score by Louis Armstrong is absolutely beautiful… it even has a tinge of sadness to it which is perfect for this film.


The one movie I have not seen before was the sci-fi horror vampire flick Daybreakers. I’m done with the review but I will post that separately as it’s quite long.

On the TV front, I watched some episodes of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome in 10-minute increments on YouTube, which was pretty decent even though whoever plays the young Adama is not nearly as charismatic as Edward James Olmos but whatever.

My hubby and I are still hooked on Once Upon A Time show so we watched a few more episodes of that too on Netflix Instant. Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold is still the best thing about this show but I’m warming up to Ginnifer Goodwin & Josh Dallas as Snow White and Prince Charming. We might actually finish Season 1 by end of the year!


Well, that’s it for my long weekend round-up. Any thoughts on these films/shows? What did YOU see this past weekend?

Counting down to 2012 – Ted’s Top Five Movies of 2011

I have to confess that I haven’t seen many of the more prestige films this year, only the big-budget tent pole type. So I don’t know how credible I am by naming the top film best films of 2011 even though I haven’t seen a lot of the films that came out this year. So I guess you could say these are my five favorite films that I saw in 2011:

5. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I’ve seen this film twice now and I thought it was a lot of fun. To me the film feels like an old James Bond flick from the 60s but with 21st century action sequences and gadgets. Brad Bird did a great job of staging some of the most exciting action sequences ever put on film, my favorite has to be the car chase in the sandstorm. By filming all of the action scenes with IMAX cameras, audiences felt like they’re part of the action once those scenes unfolds on the tall giant screen. It’s hard to make an action film without lots of explosions and shootouts, but believe it or not, this latest Mission film only has one explosion in the entire film and hardly had any gun play. In fact, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character never even fires a gun the film, while in the last two films he was like a madman with machine guns and pistols. Again, a great fun action thriller and see it on a real IMAX theater if you can.

[rtm note: read my full review of MI4]

4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I thought this film was the best reboot/prequel since Batman Begins. Yes it has some plot holes and the human characters were underdeveloped but the film was about the ape Caesar and Andy Surkis did such a great job portraying that character through motion capture. The big climax sequence on the Golden Gate Bridge was one of the best action sequences I’ve seen all year. I think the reason I put this film up so high on my list is because I didn’t expect much from it when it was first announced. I thought to myself, really another Planet of the Apes film? Didn’t the Tim Burton’s remake already ruined the franchise? Well when I finally saw it, I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed it. Fox did a great job of switching the release date by moving it up from November of this year to August, the film was one of the biggest hits of the summer.

[rtm note: read my full review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes]

3. 13 Assassins

Technically this film was from 2010 but it didn’t get released in the States until April of this year, so I can include it on this list. I used to watch so many Samurai films when I was younger and seeing this film reminds me of my childhood. Takashi Miike, whose films mostly were known for their weirdness and extreme violence, made one heck of an epic Samurai film. The story’s pretty simple and easy to follow and that big battle at the end rivals any $100mil action films made in Hollywood in recent years. If this film doesn’t get a nomination for best foreign film at the Oscars next year, then I think the Oscar voters has lost their minds.

2. Tree of Life

I decided not to go see this film in theater because the last time I saw a Terrance Malick’s film in theater, The New World, some of the audiences just didn’t have the decency to shut the hell up and enjoy his visual story telling style. So I waited till it hits Blu-ray and watch it on my mini home theater. It’s pretty much what I expected from Malick and since I already read the script I sort of knew what I was getting into. He didn’t disappoint and yes it’s one of the most pretentious films he’s ever made but it’s a damn good one. I’ve only seen it once, so I can’t decide if it’s one of Malick’s best films yet but I think it’s better than The New World.

1. Drive

Another film that some have said it’s quite pretentious and I won’t argue with that, but it’s damn good pretentious film. I was never a fan of Ryan Gosling, in fact this is only the second film I saw with him as the lead. He was totally in command as the nameless Driver and pretty good as an action hero too. But I believe the film work so well was because of director Nicolas Winding Refn. He took a pretty straight forward genre and turned it into a cool hypnotic action thriller, reminds me of the old action films from the 70s and early 80s. In fact, I wonder if Refn watched Walter Hill’s 1978’s The Driver before he made this film. They both have similar style of storytelling and the main character was never mention by name except being call the Driver. I haven’t seen The Driver in a while but I believe Drive is a much better film. The film comes out on DVD/BD late next month and I can’t wait to see it again.


Stay tuned for Ruth’s Year in Review coming up this Saturday


Thoughts on any of my picks? I’d love to hear it.

FlixChatter Review: Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol

It’s been a while since the last time I was excited to see a Tom Cruise movie. I was intrigued when the first trailer came out, but it’s this featurette that got me hooked! Yes, The Dark Knight Rises prologue was a major factor of course (more on that on tomorrow’s Weekend Roundup), so those two combined is enough to get my hubby and I to shell out $16 bucks a piece to see this in IMAX!

Unlike the convoluted story of the first Mission Impossible movie, this time around the plot is pretty easy to follow, albeit predictable:

The IMF (which apparently stands for Impossible Missions Force, NOT International Monetary Fund) is shut down when it’s framed by a terrorist group in the bombing of the Kremlin, propelling Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.

I have to admit, I thought the story reminds me of a Sean Connery/Roger Moore era Bond movies, what with the stereotypical Russian villains, nuclear war threats, etc., but what makes the film works is the execution. Pixar director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) in his first foray into live action film confidently packed this movie with bombastic action sequences that thrills from start to finish!

Cruise is in top form as the super-spy/bionic man (how else do you explain him surviving multiple high-rise falls & car crashes with barely a scratch??), and his death-defying stunts are really the reason we go see a Mission Impossible movie! The Burj Khalifa scene is truly the highlight of this movie, it’s pure adrenaline-rush seeing ’em on those huge IMAX screens! If you have vertigo, you might already passed out at this point as the camera pans down vertically to make you feel as if you were right on top of the building along with Cruise. Even my palms got a bit sweaty seeing this whole scene, but just like a fun roller coaster ride, seeing him perched 2000+ feet above the ground is absolutely thrilling to watch. When that scene is over, I wish I could rewind it and see it over again! I tell you, this scene alone alone is worth the IMAX admission price for me.

Fortunately, the level of excitement doesn’t go downhill after that. The sandstorm chase scene and the suspense inside the Burj Khalifa hotel itself are pretty engaging. Each high-octane action sequence advances the storyline instead of simply being there as crowd-pleasers. Ethan and his team work well together, thanks to a talented crew of actors. Jeremy Renner is obviously a capable actor, and he’s quite likable here (I wasn’t too keen on him in The Town). I’m starting to warm up slightly to the idea of him taking over the franchise. This scene of him hanging with his hands spread wide is a classic Mission Impossible shot, so perhaps this is the producers’ way of signaling the audience that he’s the next Ethan Hunt??

This movie also seems a lot more whimsical than before. Even though Simon Pegg was also in the previous installment, the script calls for even more comic relief all around. Even the beginning prison scene and the one inside the Kremlin is quite hilarious. I think it’s wise that the screenwriters didn’t take a movie like this too seriously, I mean the title alone should warn you NOT to expect a profound espionage thriller.

Paula Patton brings on the sex appeal in droves as the bad ass agent Carter. This mission is more of a personal vendetta for her as the intro indicates, so her role is more than just the sexy agent, though of course there is a time when her sensuality is crucial to the mission. In the scene of her wearing the green dress with slit up-to-there, she has a similar grand entrance out of the sports car like Maggie Q did in MI3. Well, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? Slumdog Millionaire‘s Anil Kapoor brings on the sleaze as the Indian rich guy Carter has to seduce, and Patton does it with aplomb.

Ghost Protocol plays like a popcorn Summer blockbuster, I’m surprised this movie didn’t open in July as I’d think it’d still fare pretty well against the competition. As I said before, the story is pretty generic with the villain by the name Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) hellbent on starting WWIII for seemingly no particular reason. I’ve never seen the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film, but I’d think Nyqvist was more effective in that one. That’s just one of the things that keep this from being a GREAT movie.

That said, Brad Bird’s confident direction and the inventive actions scenes makes this movie work. Just like in 007 movies, the iconic theme song for the MI franchise is also used to great effect here and complement the robust scenes perfectly. By the end you’d be willing to forgive quibbles such as Hunt being indestructible as if he were injected with adamantium, and even that darn ‘mission accomplished’ line.
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4 out of 5 reels

So what do you think of this movie? Are you a fan of the MI franchise? I’d love to hear what you think.

The Flix List: Six Unnecessary Big-Budgeted Sequels

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Love them or hate them, Hollywood love to make sequels. Why? Because they’re easy to make and market because audiences are already familiar with the story and characters. Just slap a number after the title and studio executives are happy once the films start making a lot of cash at the box office. Now, I don’t mind sequels as long as they’re good, I mean Hollywood did give us some great sequels, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, T2: Judgment Day, The Dark Knight and The Godfather Part 2 are just some good examples. But for every great sequel Hollywood gave us, there are a dozen bad ones. For this article I want to list some of the sequels that I couldn’t understand why they were made in the first place.

  1. Alien: Resurrection

    When Fox announced they were going to make another Alien film; a lot of people in the industry sort of scratched their heads and asked why? Alien 3 was a huge box office failure and it never garnered any cult following. Rumors started going around in mid 1995 that Sigourney Weaver was going to reprise her role as Ripley and people thought didn’t she die in Alien 3? Well not only did Fox convinced her to come back, they also put up big money to back the project, $70mil to be exact; this was back in the 1990s so that was a huge budget. The film opened on Thanksgiving weekend of 1997 and it earned a respectable number on opening weekend but unfortunately the film was so bad, it didn’t get a repeat business and with bad word of mouth, it only earned $47mil here in the States.
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    Of course this didn’t stop Fox from pursuing to make more films about the Alien saga; they made two awful Alien vs. Predator films. Then they somehow convinced Ridley Scott to come back and make prequel to his original Alien film. Now none of us know how the new film will turn out but I kept thinking to myself, why keep making these films? I mean they lost huge sums of money on Alien 3 and Resurrection yet Fox just refuse to let this franchise die. I’m sure if the new film is a big hit, then we’ll definitely see more Alien films down the road.
  2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

    Now I’m actually looking forward to see this fourth M:I film and I’m huge fan of the franchise. But after the so-so box office take of the last film, I didn’t think we’d see another M:I film for a long time, if ever. Some rumors going around was that this one is actually a reboot, but for it to be qualified as a reboot, the franchise would need a new leading man. From the trailers and clips I’ve seen so far, it’s still a Tom Cruise film. When the third film came out, no one was really interested in seeing it. Tom Cruise was probably the most hated celebrity on the planet, right behind Mel Gibson around that time and the poor box office take confirmed it.

    The first film earned over $180mil, the second made well over $200mil but the third one a made ‘measly’ $133mil. Paramount actually ended its partnership with Cruise and his business partner after the poor earnings of M: I-3. Rumors even went around that they were looking to reboot the franchise with a new leading man and Brad Pitt was even mentioned as the leading candidate to take over. As we all know, that never happened and now Cruise is back on another mission and even though I’m scratching my head as to why they made this fourth entry, I’m pretty excited to see it on the giant IMAX screen.
  3. The Chronicles of Riddick

    This sequel to Pitch Black is probably one of the worst sequels I’ve ever seen and again I still don’t know how or why it was made in the first place. I mean Pitch Black didn’t earned that much at the box office and yes it did have some cult following, but I didn’t think it was enough to earn a sequel. But somehow director David Twohy and Vin Diesel convinced Universal to give them over $110mil to make this film. The movie opened in the summer of 2004 and unsurprisingly earned a lot less than its budget, $57mil to be exact. Apparently both Twohy and Diesel are shooting a third Riddick film as we speak, and some independent studio is financing it. Didn’t they see the earning of the last film? Seriously, I think whoever is in charge of that studio needs to put a stop to this right away. I’m speaking for myself here but I don’t need to see another film about Riddick, he’s not that interesting of a character and I know a lot of people agrees with me.
  4. Escape from L.A.

    This sequel to John Carpenter’s 1981 Escape from N.Y. was another head-scratcher. Throughout most of the 80s and 90s, Escape from N.Y. was and still is considered a cult hit but no one really expected to see a sequel from it. Well somehow Paramount Pictures thought it would be a good idea to re-team Kurt Russell and John Carpenter for another film about Snake Plissken’s escape. When this film was announced, no one was really excited to see it, except for maybe the Paramount executives who green-lit the project. Again this was one of the most dreadful sequels I’ve ever seen, the film came out in the early days of CGI and the effects were quite bad, even for its time. If you watch the film now, you’ll laugh your ass off at how bad the effects looked. Not surprisingly it tanked at the box office and I think this was the last film Carpenter made that has a huge budget.

    A couple of years ago, New Line was ready to start shooting a reboot version of Escape from N.Y. but they ran into some financial troubles, so now it’s stuck in limbo. I think most people will agree with me that we don’t need to see another film about Snake Plissken right? Just like Riddick, he’s not that interesting of a character.
  5. Rocky Balboa & Rambo 4
    I’m cheating here since I combined both of these films together but let’s be honest, did any of us ask to see another film about Rocky or Rambo? No, but somehow Stallone was able convince two movie studios to get both films off the ground! I actually enjoyed Rocky Balboa quite a bit, not so much with Rambo 4 though. After the critical and financial failure of Rocky 5, I don’t think anyone except maybe Stallone, expected to see another Rocky film. Like I mentioned before, I actually enjoyed the sixth Rocky film quite a bit, it was a throwback to the first film and Stallone was pretty good in it. Rambo 4 on the hand was pretty dreadful, I mean the film has no plot and the last 20 minutes or so was just carnage. I know that Stallone’s been trying to get the fourth Rambo film made since the mid 90s but because of his diminishing box office power, no studio wanted to make it.

    Of course as we all know, these two films actually rejuvenated Stallone’s sagging career and it seems he’s back doing big action films again. But I kept thinking to myself, why in the heck did the movie studios decided to make these films in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the biggest fans of both the Rocky and Rambo franchises but I still believe they’re totally unnecessary sequels that shouldn’t have been made. Couldn’t the studios spent money on other (read: better) scripts?
  6. Terminator: Salvation

    This sequel might be best remembered for its behind the scenes drama when an audio clip of Christian Bale berating the director of photography was leaked online. After the third film almost bankrupt the production companies that financed it, no one really expected to see another Terminator film for a long time. So when the project was announced in 2007, I don’t think many people were excited to see the film, probably because McG was attached the direct it. It opened in May of 2009 and didn’t really make a dent at the box office. I thought the movie was decent, definitely better than Terminator 3 but it could’ve been a lot better. The rights of the film have been sold to another production company and we may see the fifth film soon. I think the franchise has run its course and should be put to rest now.

Honorable Mentions:

Well actually these are the sequels many people wanted to see but wish they never got made.

  • Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    After Last Crusade came out 1989, Indiana Jones fans were expecting to see another Dr. Jones’ adventure right away but it took Spielberg, Ford and Lucas 19 years to deliver another film to fans. Well, even after ALL that time, the film turned out be quite a disappointment. I actually enjoyed it the first time I saw it in theater but after watching it for the second time, I thought it was one of the worst films of 2008. The film didn’t have the fun and sense of wonder as the previous three and it didn’t help that they cast Shia LaBeouf as Jones Jr. He just annoys the heck out of me.
  • The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions
    After the mega success of the original Matrix film, fans were clamoring for sequels since the first one sort of ended in a cliffhanger. Of course we got our wish when Warner Bros. greenlit the sequels and decided to let The Wachowskis shoot the films back to back. Both films came out in 2003, Reloaded opened in May and Revolutions in November. Even though Reloaded was a huge hit, Revolutions didn’t fare too well. Probably because after people saw Reloaded and were quite disappointed with it; they decided to not go see the final film. I’m one of those people who were pretty disappointed with the film, besides the awesome highway car chase scene, the film had nothing else that interest me. I did go see Revolutions in theater but I thought it was even worse than the second film.
  • All of the sequels of Psycho
    I’m not big into Alfred Hitchcock’s films but I remember seeing the original Psycho when I was very young and it freaked me out. Of course I decided to seek out the sequels and wish I hadn’t. Psycho 2, 3 and 4 (which was actually a prequel) were quite awful. Obviously the only reason those films got made in the first place was for money, they came out in the 80s and early 90s, around the time when slasher films were quite popular. For those who have not seen the sequels, I advise you to stay away from them at all cost.

TedS_post


What do you think folks? Are you a fan of any of these sequels, or are you like me and think these films shouldn’t have been made in the first place? Let’s see your list of unnecessary sequels.

Five for the Fifth – 5 Questions for The 5th of December

Happy Fifth of December, everyone!

Wow man, time files, can’t believe we’ve now come to the last edition of the year! Well, per usual, the fifth of the month is a monthly feature where I get to post five random news item/observation/trailer, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

So let’s get started shall we?

  • The day after Thanksgiving last week was the biggest shopping day of the year. Fortunately I was on holiday so I didn’t do as much ‘damage’ that day as I otherwise would as I couldn’t really go to a nearby mall. But my hubby did check out Amazon.com and see what Blu-ray deals we could get our hands on.

    Well, we ended up scoring this Bourne Trilogy box set for only $23.99! This is the one franchise where all three movies are good and well-done, plus it’s jam-packed with all kinds of special features for each film, beyond the usual Alternate Ending/Deleted Scenes. That’ll take us a while to devour all of those.

    So what dvd/blu-ray box set(s) did you buy recently?
  • Did you think it’s all over for M. Night Shyamalan? Well apparently not. I just heard he’s got a new sci-fi project called After Earth? The project is currently in pre-production. According to FirstShowing, the story is as follows: “After a crash landing, a father and son explore an alien planet… [it’s] about what happens when a young boy and his father’s spaceship crash lands on Earth one thousand years after humans abandoned it.” Reportedly Wil Smith and his son Jaden will star in it.
    ,,,
    What do you think folks, are you intrigued by this project?
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  • I finally finished the first Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins. Wow I must say I’m impressed as the story kept me intrigued throughout and the character development is really good. I do hope the movie (or franchise I should say) would do the book justice. I’ve been mulling over the casting choices… I like Jennifer Lawrence as the 17-year-old Katniss, at 21 she’s a few years older than the character’s age but it doesn’t bother me. I kept picturing her as I was reading the book and I think she’ll do well. I’m still not sold on Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, the boy from her district who got picked to be in the tournament. To be fair, this still from the shoot convinces me just a bit more he’d be ok in the role, we’ll see I guess. I do like Liam Hemsworth as Gale though, I can see him being a good hunter. If you haven’t seen the first full trailer already, here it is:
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    ..
    What’s your thought about this project? Are you a fan?

  • It’s Walt Disney’s birthday today… he would’ve been 110 years old. It’s amazing to think about his legacy for the entertainment industry, from films to the ultimate ‘happy place’ that is Disneyland & Disney world. Who doesn’t love watching Disney as a kid? I grew up watching those Princess flicks and still love them even today. I guess if I were to name my favorite Disney film, it’d have to be Sleeping Beauty. Aside from The Rocketeer and the first Narnia movie, I guess I’m more into Disney’s animated features than the live-action ones.

    So what’s YOUR all time favorite Disney movie?
  • Ok, my hubby just told me that out of only about 40 theaters in the US in which the prologue of The Dark Knight Rises will be shown in front of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, there is only ONE here in Minnesota (per SuperHeroHype). Fortunately it’s only 20-minutes away from where I live. Now, typically I won’t bother seeing stuff at IMAX, but my hubby and I are seriously considering going to see MI:4 at that IMAX location and paying extra for it just to get a glimpse of Batman 3. Yeah, THAT is how powerful Nolan is right now, and the power he holds over us fanboys/girls, ahah.

    Now I’m curious, have you ever influenced to see a movie at a cinema or IMAX just to see a preview/footage of another movie?

Well, that’s it for the end of the year’s edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!