Movie News of the Week

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Rebel Warriors Posters.

This new set of posters features the characters of Gale (Liam Hemsworth) Katniss’ best friend; Cressida (Natalie Dormer), a propaganda filmmaker working with Katniss; Messalla (Evan Ross), her assistant; the brothers Castor (Wes Chatham) and Pollux (Elden Henson), her cameramen; and Boggs (Mahershala Ali) Katniss’ protector.

mockingjay-movie-poster-liam-hemsworth-ftr mockingjay-movie-poster-rebels-2 mockingjay-movie-poster-rebels-3 mockingjay-movie-poster-rebels-4 mockingjay-movie-poster-rebels-5 hunger-games-mockingjay-elden-henson-as-pollux-550x848

I personally love the look of Natalie Dormer as Cressida with half of her head shaved and tattooed. Also, it’s very interesting that once again there is no Katniss. We have only seen a bit of her in the teaser trailer.

First look at Doctor Doom.

Some leaked images from the set of the reboot of Fantastic Four reveal Toby Kebbell as Doctor Doom.

W4ZHWi7l

I loved Toby Kebbell as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I don’t know how I feel about this costume. That cape/scarf makes no sense at all.

Jeremy Renner teases Hawkeye’s possible appearance in Cap 3

In an interview with Collider, Renner said that “there are rumblings” of Hawkeye joining Captain America 3. Right now the confirmed cast is Chris Evans (Captain America), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Frank Grillo (Crossbones) and Emily VanCamp (Agent 13).

tumblr_nb52tlvyNJ1tp570wo1_500

This is quite an important announcement since a lot of people were already speculating about the possibility of Hawkeye dying in Age of Ultron. Since Hawkeye hasn’t had an important role in the MCU outside The Avengers, this would be a great opportunity to discover his back story (a solo film for him seems very unlikely). Let’s not forget that Hawkeye nearly made it into the Winter Soldier movie, though they decided to go with the script that featured only Black Widow.

Talking of Cap 3, the Russo brothers, the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier has said this week that the title for the third Captain America film might be revealed next month.

Movie Review: Now You See Me (2013)

Title: Now You See Me

Running time: 115 minutes

Director: Louis Leterrier

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman

Summary: An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

NOW YOU SEE ME

I have just read in an interview with Dave Franco that the sequel for Now You See Me is scheduled to start filming at the end of the year with the main cast coming back and it made me so excited. Don’t get me wrong, this is far from a perfect movie. If you’re expecting a story that will completely make sense at the end or seem realistic, this is not what you are looking for. Still, it’s so entertaining. It keeps you engaged and so invested in the story and the characters that you let all of these problems go and enjoy the film for what it is.

One of the aspects that make it so good is the fantastic chemistry between the group of magicians, the Four Horsemen. It actually resembles a bit the dynamic in The Avengers, a group of solitary people (some of them with great egos) forced to work together for a greater cause. J. Daniel Atlas, the street magician, is played by Jesse Eisenberg, who finally has the chance to play an arrogant and confident leader and he is so good at it. Isla Fisher is amazing as Henley Reeves, the escapist, and Danny’s former assistant. The relation between the two of them worked really well. Woody Harrelson, as Merritt McKinney, the mentalist, had some great comedy moments. And last, the pickpocket, Jack Wilder, is played by Dave Franco, who probably was the one with less to do but had a phenomenal action sequence.

Mark Ruffalo as the FBI agent Dylan Rhodes was very interesting, though Melanie Laurent’s, Alma Dray, sometimes felt more like a necessity for us to understand Dylan than being an engaging character. But the movie counts with two outstanding supporting actors: Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine and it’s great to see them going against each other.

The twist at the end is a bit easy, nothing really leads up to it throughout the movie and it was clearly meant to be an unexpected surprise. Some of the tricks are quite unbelievable and are obviously done with CGI. There’s not a lot of character development and I hope that in the sequel they will focus a bit more in telling parts of their back stories.

At the end, Now You See Me may not be at the level of, for example, the Ocean’s trilogy, but has some unique elements to it that makes it a fascinating and exciting ride.

8,5/10

Movie Review: The LEGO Movie (2014)

Title: The LEGO Movie

Running time: 100 minutes

Director: Chris Miller and Phil Lord

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

Summary: An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied ‘Special’, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis.

The-Lego-Movie

Like the Toy Story trilogy this is a kids movie but still has a lot for adults. I even thought that there were some jokes kids wouldn’t get while their parents would enjoy a lot. The LEGO Movie may seem like a 90 minutes commercial at first but is incredibly clever and even makes a criticism of the current society. All the details are so accurate, from the plastic water, the outstanding settings, to the way the Legos move, which makes it look like motion capture instead of computer generated.

The movie features fantastic voice acting performances. Chris Pratt was amazing. It’s impossible to imagine anyone else voicing Emmet. Elizabeth Banks plays the female kick-ass Wildstyle and Will Ferrell the tyrant Lord Business. Liam Neeson as the voice of Good Cop/ Bad Cop was hilarious. Morgan Freeman makes fun of all his previous God-like characters. Will Arnett simply nailed Batman and Alison Brie was perfect as Unikitty and so funny.

It was great to see so many characters from different movies thrown together. It is even the first time a movie features The Justice League. I loved that, given that the Green Lantern movie was such a disaster, they decided to make the character of Green Lantern an annoying dude, always pissing off Superman. Also, awesome cameos from Star Wars and Middle Zealand.

It gets unexpectedly emotional towards the end with a phenomenal and surprising plot twist. I know that a lot of people who didn’t like the movie was precisely because of this ending but it totally worked for me and made the movie have a much deeper message than what it was first established.

In many ways, The LEGO Movie makes fun of the clichés that are so common in stories these days and even though not all the jokes land, is still very enjoyable and keeps you with a smile on your face and a sudden urge to play with Legos.

9/10

Movie Review: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Title: Only Lovers Left Alive

Running time: 123 minutes

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Jeffrey Wright

Summary: Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangiers, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?

only-lovers-left-alive-e1383516991640

The sexy vampire theme is very strong these days after the success of the Twilight saga and current tv series like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. I loved Interview with the Vampire but after Twilight I was dreading another romantic movie featuring vampires, but Only Lovers Left Alive is such a new and fresh take on the genre with a unique story.

The main element is the powerful love story between Adam and Eve, that have been married for centuries. Played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, I don’t think I would have ever put these two together as a couple but their chemistry works amazingly well. The age gap between them could have been an inconvenient but didn’t affect the story at all. The characters complement each other perfectly being so alike and at the same time so different.  I have read that originally Michael Fassbender was going to play the part of Adam but I can’t imagine anyone other than Tom Hiddleston in that role.

Mia Wasikowska played Ava, Eve’s sister, (Mia and Tilda totally look like sisters) and she was more the classical vampire and a party girl, which brings a bit of conflict to the story. Her relation with Adam was hilarious. John Hurt as Kit Marlowe was as always very good.

Only Lovers Left Alive is definitely now one of my favourite romantic films, with fleshed out characters, great performances, fantastic use of the music and beautiful photography. It’s all night shots but they feel different and Detroit was the perfect setting for it. And, even though the plot is not as strong as it could be, is all about the relation between these two vampires and the way they see the world as it is now and the nostalgia for how it used to be. The film is actually much deeper than what it seems at first and delivers a powerful message about life itself.

8,5/10

Movie Review: The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Title: The Purch: Anarchy

Release date: July 18, 2014

Running time: 103 minutes

Director: James DeMonaco

Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Michael K. Williams, Zoë Soul

Summary: A couple are driving home when their car breaks down just as the Purge commences. Meanwhile, a police sergeant goes out into the streets to get revenge on the man who killed his son, and a mother and daughter run from their home after assailants destroy it. The five people meet up as they attempt to survive the night in Los Angeles.

purge-anarchyThis is the sequel to last year’s The Purge and the main difference is that the story instead of taking place inside a house and following what happens during the purge to one family explores what happens on the streets. I didn’t see the first one but I can see how this change in the story could be an obvious improvement, though I’m curious to know if, given that is from the same director and the same writer, The Purge: Anarchy is indeed an improvement from The Purge or is just the same happening outside?

The movie is not about the characters that find themselves in the middle of the streets during the purge as much as it is about what happens in these hours. Therefore the actors are ok but the only one that stands out is Frank Grillo, who has a powerful way of showing the emotion in his eyes. He plays kind of a badass anti-hero, with a deep motivation, and is the only one from the group that shows to have some common sense. He carries the whole film in his shoulders as no one else has any character development or back story. This is why apart from him you don’t care enough for what will happen to the group. At certain points you can feel sympathy for the mother and the daughter but the other two are a waste and their behaviour is actually annoying.

With a simple idea, The Purge: Anarchy represents a scary future that feels quite real and that makes it a bit terrifying, knowing that we could be heading in that direction. Some aspects of the society resembles The Hunger Games and that pulled me out of the movie at times. But one of the main things I take from this is how awesome Frank Grillo will be as the villain Crossbones in the next Captain America movie.

7/10

Marvel News

No more origin stories.

dr_strange_by_yamaoMarvel has revealed that there will be no more origin stories in the films. This is going to affect especially the Doctor Strange movie, for which a script was already done telling the origin story, so they are now rewriting it. This way when we meet him for the first time in the movie he would already be the sorcerer supreme, which makes sense after his name was dropped in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and if they want Scarlet Witch to appear in the movie. I guess they will explore it through flashbacks, as his origin story is so amazing and interesting. It is rumoured that the Untitled Marvel Project for 2016 will be the Doctor Strange, in that case, they would start shooting next year and we should start hearing some casting news in the next couple of months

Ant-Man starts production.

1The film has just begun filming and Marvel has already released the first image of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang. It has also been revealed that John Slattery will reprise his role as the older version of Howard Stark from Iron Man 2, so we might get some flashbacks with him and Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas.

MCU Future

In this interview, Kevin Feige has said that there’s a possibility of seeing the real Mandarin and the Red Skull again in future projects. And Black Panther and Captain Marvel are two strong candidates to get solo movies given the strong fan demand.

Movie Review: The Expendables 3 (2014)

Title: The Expendables 3

Release date: August 15, 2014

Running time: 126 minutes

Director: Patrick Hughes

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Summary: Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables — but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The-Expendables-3Apparently two weren’t enough… The Expendables 3, as the name says, is the third in the franchise and is obviously suffering at the box office, not being able to make it in the Top 3 in its opening weekend and going behind Let’s Be Cops. It could be discussed that this was due to the early leaked of the film in dvd quality a couple of weeks before it debuted in theaters, if only it was at least a decent movie. Which is not the case.

The first half is so slow and boring, looking for the young gang and introducing so many unnecessary characters, when the actual appeal of these movies relies in the chemistry between the aging stars that we love from their previous work in the 80s and 90s.

Stallone is again our lead and the only one that gets enough screen time. You can see that he tries to make it good and wants it to succeed but he doesn’t do anything that we haven’t seen him do before. The character doesn’t show enough motivation to drop the old crew and search for a new one and the whole thing feels a bit convenient. Mel Gibson was actually the most interesting to watch and the one that delivers a decent performance. He was a terrific villain, but the scene with the painting was so useless.

Harrison Ford, such a great actor and completely forgettable in this role. Crammer was just another famous face to throw in the mix and add to the poster. Snipes, good especially in the opening scene but fades away towards the end. Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li should have had more prominent roles instead of wasting time in the new crew that doesn’t bring anything of the corny humour we want from these movies.

So, what’s the point of having a new younger crew? These actors, while they can have been good in their individual action movies, don’t have the nostalgic emotion to bring to these characters. Kellan Lutz was quite a nice surprise. Ronda Rousey had a couple of kick-ass moments but her acting skills were far from satisfactory.

This is why Antonio Banderas was a breath of fresh air. Annoying and at times even a bit embarrassing, he was the only one that came close to play an actual character instead of repeating what he has done in other films. He had some funny moments and was able to completely change the tone in a natural way in his exchange with Stallone.

In the end, this is not a good movie, but tries so hard to be that it’s actually quite sad. Pulling from all those popular action movies from the 80s and 90s and instead of doing a good story with convincing characters, the actors are all stuck playing caricatures of themselves. So much talent wasted.

2,5/10

Movie Review: Chef (2014)

Title: Chef

Release date: May 9, 2014

Running time: 114 minutes

Director: Jon Favreau

Starring: Jon Favreau, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr, Emjay Anthony

Summary: Chef Carl Casper suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner, he is left to figure out what’s next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife, his friend and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen — and zest for life and love

chef-2014-01Written, directed and starred by Jon Favreau, Chef is such a refreshing change from the conventional summer blockbusters we are getting these days. The use of the social media is so smart and it cleverly plays with the idea of paralleling food with movies, probably featuring Favreau’s own experience.

One of the key elements to this movie is the characters, who feel so real and the situations so natural and full of heart. Especially the sweet relation between Chef Carl and his son, portrayed by Emjay Anthony, who was so great and adorable in the role.

Favreau has also assembled some great actors in brief roles, like Dustin Hoffman, and brings back part of his Iron Man 2 cast. Robert Downey Jr is only in one scene while Scarlett Johansson has a bigger role in the first part of the movie and then disappears. Sofia Vergara, who I always find very over the top in Modern Family, was really good, sweet and convincing in this role.

Mouth-watering, Chef is such a fun ride, especially if you are interested in cooking. With beautiful and delicious shots of cheese melting and crisp bread, there is only one way to describe it: food porn. Warning: don’t watch it with an empty stomach.

9/10

Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Release date: August 8, 2014

Running time: 101 minutes

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard, Tony Shalhoub, Whoopi Goldberg

Summary: Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.

TMNT-2014-Desktop-Wallpaper-HD1This is the fifth reboot for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I have never seen the previous movies or the tv shows so I don’t know if this is an improvement or not. Michael Bay was not directing, he was only the producer, and still, the movie was a lot Transformers-like, which is not precisely good.

The problem with this kind of movies is that there’s always too much focused on the humans that takes away time from the CGI characters. This time there’s only one main human character, April O’Neil. The character was well utilized and comes across very realistic but Megan Fox is awful. It could have been a good character if they had cast a more talented actress. The other human is her cameraman, played by Will Arnett and, honestly, I found the crush he had on April quite creepy. Neither one of them has anything major to do and April is there just to be the one who discovers the Turtles.

Now for the Turtles, great visual effects and good job showing their different personalities: Leonardo the leader, Michelangelo the funny one, Donatello the know-it-all and Raphael the grumpy. But, for someone who hasn’t grown up watching these characters, sometimes I couldn’t tell who was who. I could only identified them by their colors and not their names. Also, the movie would have benefited if it have had more interactions just between the four of them. And where I really like the look of the turtles, Splinter didn’t convinced me at all. Such easy way to do the expositions. I don’t know what the origin story is in the comics but here it felt a bit convenient.

As I said, this movie looked a lot like Transformers, and Shredder most of all. It was good though that the Turtles had trouble fighting against him, it made him come across as a real threat. On the other hand, William Fichtner didn’t need to be there, Sacks’ whole purpose in the story was to have a human villain.

Full of predictable twists and a lame story, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not what you want of a summer blockbuster and fails to engage the audience in what is happening to the characters. There’s a speech that Raphael gives at the end that maybe if you have seen the tv show and are already familiar with these characters it would have another effect on you, but for me came out of nowhere and had no impact.

4/10

Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Release date: June 6, 2014

Running time: 126 minutes

Director: Josh Boone

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe

Summary: Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous, given that Hazel’s other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they meet and fall in love at a cancer support group.

fault-in-our-stars-poster-largeThe Fault in Our Stars is another book adaptation, this time, based on the best-seller by John Green. This is a heart-warming story where the script is not precisely outstanding but delivers thanks to the amazing performances of the cast.

I don’t usually like Shailene Woodley that much but she was absolutely charming as Hazel Grace and had the charisma to carry the whole movie on her shoulders. Ansel Elgort in the role of Augustus Waters wasn’t as wonderful as her but was good enough. The character had a great personality and the chemistry between the two of them worked really well, embracing the fact that they don’t have much time together.

In supporting roles, Nat Wolff didn’t stand out to me and I didn’t feel the emotion in his scenes. Willem Dafoe was great with what little he had to do in the movie, but the one that knocked it out of the part was Laura Dern. She was amazing as Hazel’s mother and she’s actually the easiest to sympathize with.

I haven’t read the book so I don’t know how faithful it is but, as a film, it doesn’t fall into being cheesy and melodramatic, as it could have so easily, though it gets a bit manipulative at certain points. The Fault in Our Star is sweet and the music does a great job playing with our emotions.

8/10