The Mandarin Lives!

When I heard that Ben Kingsley was going to be in Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3,” I was hoping that he would appear as the Mandarin, especially since the character has been teased since the first film (The ‘Ten Rings’ organization).  Well, it appears that someone has come to their senses, because rumors have it that Kingley will definitely be playing the Mandarin.

This is really cool, and hopefully will get the memory of the ‘Hood’ out of my head, from 2004′s “Thunderbirds.”

Image courtesy of Allmoviephoto.com

That picture isn’t all that bad, though, trust me, he looked really silly in the movie.

I should also mention that the ‘Iron Man’ movies need to move beyond armored villains.  If you go to the link at Collider, you’ll see another suit of armor that Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) will probably not be wearing), though I would have thought that “Iron Man 2″ had enough armored suits for five sequels.

A Sequel Worth Of The ‘Starship Troopers’ Name?

Paul Verhoeven‘s “Starship Troopers” may not have been that faithful to Robert Heinlein‘s novel, but then again, I have never been much of a fan of Heinlein’s writing, so it’s all good.  For my money Verhoeven is in the same company as David Cronenberg, or (lately), Don Coscarelli, in that just about everything they do may not be a favorite, though it’s going to be interesting.

There have been two sequels, “Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation,” and “Starship Troopers 3: Marauder,” and despite having the involvement of Ed Neumeier–who wrote the screenplay for the first film and the second, while directing and writing the third–neither sequel was that entertaining.

So, imagine my surprise to learn that there will be a forth film, “Starship Troopers: Invasion,” though this time they will be going with CGI, instead of live actors.  I have to say that that computer graphics better evokes the look of Paul Verhoeven’s original than either the second or third sequel, which has a lot to do with the fact that it’s relatively less expensive to create such effects in such an environment, as opposed with models, which was done extensively in the first film.

Sure, the faces of the computer-generated characters looks kinda dead (not unusual, though Peter Travers, the film critic from Rolling Stone magazine, can probably explain it better), but the spaceships and tech look just like those in the first film, so that makes it at least worth a look.

Brian’s ‘El Bola’ Review

Achero Mañas‘ “El Bola” is a Spanish film from 2000 that has won awards from Prix de la Présidence Belge de l’Union Européenne 2001 to the Goya Awards, among many others.

It revolves around about a boy named Bola (Juan José Ballesta), who goes to school, plays (somewhat questionable) games with this friends, and acts like any other kid, no matter what continent you happen to live on.

Though Bola is different because his father beats him.

The interesting thing about Mañas’s film is that when we first see Bola’s family, his father, Mariano (Manuel Morón) appears stern, but no means abusive, while his soon-to-be-friend, Alfredo (Pablo Galán) is moody and appears to be the most troubled of the two.

Another thing that I like about this film is that there’s not necessarily any reason given as to why Mariano does what he does, though his wife Aurora (Gloria Muñoz) is powerless to stop him.

The contrast between Mariano and Alfredo’s father (Alberto Jiménez) is an interesting one in that the director seems to be commenting upon certain societal stereotypes. Alfredo, works at a tattoo parlor (which he probably owns) and has a few tats of his own, while Mariano owns a hardware store, which Bola helps him with.

Seeing the film, it’s easy to see while “El Bola” has been successful internationally, though I don’t recall ever hearing about it here.

A Tale Of Three Hulks

Since Marvel flirted with bankruptcy a while ago, various studios have taken a stab at their characters, with varying degrees of success.  Some, like Spider-Man or The X-Men, have been unequivocal successes, while others, like 2003′s “Hulk,” and the “The Fantastic Four” were profitable, though not nearly as successful.

So, why do studios keep making them?  Because when some of them are profitable, they are EXTREMELY profitable.  By way of example, first three Spider-Man films pulled in over a billion dollars at the box office.

Then there’s the Hulk, the rights for which were originally purchased by Universal Pictures.  Ang Lee, hot off of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” having never done a film like “Hulk” before, made a movie that, while not without its charms, didn’t necessarily do the character justice.

One problem was that the people who translated it to the screen–Lee, Michael France, and James Shamus–didn’t necessarily know how to relate to superheroes, or their audience.  Another was that special effects at the time weren’t quite able to create a realistic-looking creature.

This ambivalence was reflected in its box office receipts, which weren’t remarkable, though enough to warrant a sequel.

Which happened in 2007, with “The Incredible Hulk.”  This time Louis Leterrier is behind the camera, and he delivers a Hulk significantly more faithful to the character as he appears in comics, though financially it doesn’t do significantly better than Lee’s film, despite the aforementioned faithfulness and more advanced computer effects.

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New ‘Batman Rises’ Trailer

Today a new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Rises,” was released, and despite being confident that I will not appear in it–despite being an extra–I intend to see it. It will be interesting to see if it manages to knock “The Avengers” off the perch it has come to occupy for the past three weeks or so, though it’s a long time till July 20th.

I also have included the new poster for the movie, which I actually am not too crazy about.

‘Dragon Age: Dawn Of The Seeker’ Trailer

I am posting this because I am reasonably sure that there are enough fans of Bioware‘s “Dragon Age” video game that a trailer of the upcoming CGI-based film would interest them.  Bioware also happens to be the studio that makes the ‘Mass Effect’ series of video games.

That being said, I am not a huge fan of “Dragon Age,” though I have been playing “Prey” quite a bit lately.

Brian’s ‘Harry Brown’ Review

If you have been reading here for awhile, you probably noticed that I complained about “John Carter” being a terrible title for a movie that–literally–spanned universes (and wanted desperately to play on an epic scale)?

It was, though there are films where simple is best.

Charlie Varrick” is one, and Daniel Barber’s “Harry Brown” is another.  They work because both eponymously-named films are about men who’ve lives are as ordinary, and mundane, as their names (though that applies more to ‘Brown’ than ‘Varrick’).  Michael Caine plays the character with an understated, weary gait.  He’s seen more of the world than he lets on, and is not impressed.  He’s old, but accepts that and other things which is cannot change.

At this point the only things that he lives for are his wife, who’s in hospital, and a friend that lives in the same complex as he does.

One day his friend comes to him, and tells him that he’s afraid because of some neighborhood toughs, though eventually circumstances force him to take matters into his own hands.

Which he does not enjoy doing–after all, he’s an old man with emphysema,who can barely run without an attack coming on– but Michael Caine plays the character with the right amount of desperation and mortality.

Comparisons to Michael Winner’s “Deathwish” are inevitable, but Caine’s Harry Brown isn’t as calculating as “Deathwish’s” Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson), and he only kills those that either have terrorized his friend, or threaten where he lives.

The change in scale is what makes “Harry Brown” that more realistic and interesting of the two films.