Five for the Fifth: JULY 2015 Edition

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Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, 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.

1. Well, since this is Fourth of July weekend, a lot of my fellow Americans are celebrating all kinds of festivities, be that a 4th of July parade, barbecue, or fireworks at the park.

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But for some of us, it likely include getting together with friends and watch old favorites that celebrate the holiday, i.e The Patriot, Top Gun, Saving Private Ryan, Captain America or um, Team America: World Police? America F-yeah! 😀 But there are a bazillion of patriotic movies out there, and it doesn’t have to be all about the good ‘ol USA.

So what’s your favorite patriotic movie, be it US-related or about your home country?….

2. Now, I’ve sort of been holding off on blogging about Batman vs. Superman but with the release of a few new photos courtesy of EW, I can’t help being mildly intrigued.

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Are they flirting or plotting against Superman??
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“I am Batman!” [Supes is like, yeah dude, I know who the heck you are]
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Lex Luthor has surfer hair? What’s wrong with THIS picture?

I’m liking Gal Gadot more and more as Wonder Woman, in fact I think I’m most excited to see her than her fellow male superheroes. Ok yesterday I came across this whilst browsing the net. Den of Geek reported the origin story that led to Dawn of Justice movie happening sooner than perhaps even the filmmakers themselves anticipated:

It was while making his Superman reboot, Man Of Steel, that Snyder approached the producers of the film, Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer, with a suggestion. “I said ‘what about at the end of the movie we do a scene where there’s a crate full of Kryptonite delivered to Wayne Manor?”

The response? “Everyone was like… ‘okaay’. Once you say it out loud, it’s a problem, because you can’t unsay it.”

Now, I’m still not super excited yet for this film… but I have to admit I’m more on board with this than I was say, a year ago. Surely it can’t be worse than Man of Steel?

What are your thoughts about Dawn of Justice and/or these new pics?

….

3. Lots of new trailers hit the past week, here are three that caught my eye.

First one is this upcoming *epic* drama based on a true story, directed by Werner HerzogQueen of the Desert starring Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis and Robert Pattinson

A true story of the life of British explorer and adventurer, Gertrude Bell, QUEEN OF THE DESERT chronicles her journeys of love and loss in the Middle East during the early 20th century.

I have to say I’m mildly intrigued by this given Herzog’s directing, though I have reservation regarding the melodramatic tone of the film, not to mention the trailer itself is so darn sappy. It seems like it’s striving to be Lawrence of Arabia and though I like the fact that it’s from the female perspective, I’m tired of seeing Nicole Kidman in something resembling Australia. And what’s with James Franco?? He seems miscast right off the bat, I just don’t see him in a romantic role like this. Plus that music towards the end uses familiar music from Hans Zimmer’s The Thin Red Line. I swear that music’s been used by a bazillion other trailers and though it’s beautiful, the effect just isn’t as impactful anymore.

Then we have a remake of an Argentinian drama, Secret in Their Eyes. We have quite a cast here: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman [again].

A tight-knit team of FBI investigators, along with their District Attorney supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered.

I still haven’t seen the 2009 Argentine film El secreto de sus ojos so I immediately watched the trailer of that one. Well I might give the original film a watch, it looks more mysterious and given that it doesn’t have the star power of the Hollywood version, I bet it’s a better film overall.

 

Now, last but not least, we’ve got Creed which is a spin-off of the Rocky films, and Sylvester Stallone is a cast member and also one of the producers.

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Creed, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

Michael B. Jordan‘s a talented up-and-comer who’s been getting lots of prominent roles lately. He looks good here and though I’m not really into boxing movies, I did like the first Rocky film and so I might watch this one. Scottish actor Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Starz’s Outlander) is in this also.

What’s your initial thoughts of these three movies?

4. Another first look on a movie I’ve been curious about ever since it’s announced six years ago: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. At the time, Natalie Portman was going to play Elizabeth Bennet, and now we’ve got Cinderella‘s Lily James in the lead role. She’s quoted as saying: “She’s the most badass zombie slayer there is.” Okay then, bring it on!

Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge — an army of undead zombies.

I know that Jane Austen purists probably aren’t keen on this twisted idea from Seth Grahame-Smith who penned the novel of the same name. But as a fan of period dramas, I get a kick out of classic re-imagining, and this idea is so bizarre it could actually be a lot of fun. Then again, I was one of those people who enjoyed the heck out of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was also borne out of Grahame-Smith’s novel. Check out the pics also from EW:

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This blissful image of a wedding at Darcy’s Pemberley is about to get bloody interesting
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Uh-oh… a lady isn’t supposed to devour a man in THIS way
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Jane & Lizzie equipped themselves for the zombie battle

I like the cast of this movie: Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, Douglas Booth as Mr Bingley and best of all, Jack Huston as the devilish cad Mr. Wickham. I’m not familiar at all with the director Burr Steers however, so hopefully he has the chops to pull off this crazy concept.

So what do you think of this classic-reimagining idea for a movie?

5. This month’s Five for the Fifth’s guest is Katy from Girl Meets Cinema:

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I was thinking about Terminator Genisys reboot, it’s alternative timeline to bring back the original characters and how the story confused movie goers/critics. So my question would be:

Do you think reboots have to center around the original characters or OR can a franchise continue on successfully with brand new characters?


Well, that’s it for the July 2015 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

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.


3 out of 5 reels


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

4th of July Music Break: Captain America End Title Sequence

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends!

Hope you get today’s off from work and get to spend sometime celebratin’ Independence Day. Do you watch certain movies for the Fourth? Something with a patriotic theme perhaps? Well, instead of featuring one of those movies like I did last year, I figure why not do a music break instead?

The one thing that immediately spring to mind is this awesome retro end-credits war-propaganda sequence for Captain America. One certainly doesn’t get more patriotic than that guy, right? I mean his entire outfit is the American flag! 😀

The rousing, old-school music by Alan Silvestri fits perfectly for the tone of this film. It’s brimming with enthusiasm, valor and everything Steve Rogers stood for and aspire to be. It’s also one of those iconic theme you can easily hum to and almost adds a certain spring in your step as you hum it, too.

That end credits sequence is certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen and it was such a wonderful complement to the movie. The Art of the Title did a feature of it and interviewed the creative director, Steve Viola, from Method Design (formerly Rock!it Studio) hired by Marvel. He mentioned that director Joe Johnston, who began his career as a concept designer and art director himself, was heavily involved in the process. Even producer Kevin Feige was involved in selecting the war propaganda posters to use in the sequence.


Hope you enjoy the music and video! Now tell me, what’s YOUR favorite movie opening/end credits sequence?