Postmortem: Robocop (2014)

RoboCopI caught the reboot of Robocop in theaters, and recall at the time thinking that it was a bit weak, especially compared to the original film. That being said, having watched it again my first impression was confirmed, namely that it’s not as as engaging or as fun as the1987 Paul Verhoeven movie.  And speaking of Verhoeven’s film, a lot of the credit goes to its rating, which was a well-deserved R. While Robocop’s most recent build is PG-13, which means that it can’t be seen by anyone under 13 years of age without a parent or guardian. So it should go without saying that none of the delightfully gratuitous violence that graced the original will be anywhere near the reboot. And it suffers for it, though it also lacks the gonzo tone of the first movie.  Luckily, some of the central themes (the privatization of public utilities, such as the police, where the man begins, and machine ends, etc) remain intact, though often not quite as clearly defined as in the first movie (the heads of Omnicorp–as opposed to Omni Consumer Products in the original–in the reboot aren’t necessarily evil more than greedy, while their counterparts in the original film gave the phrase ‘severance package’ an entirely new meaning). That being said, the reboot does have some advantages that the first film doesn’t.

One being that the reboot looks more cinematic, somehow bigger and more ambitious–considering that the original cost $13 million to produce, while the reboot cost $100 million, it aught to look better (even in 1980’s dollars).  Considering how attractive the movie is, it looks like money well-spent.  It also takes advantage of the latest in CGI and motion capture technologies, techniques which weren’t available when the original film was made. Another thing is that the chemistry between the main actors is significantly better this time around.  In reference to the original the relationship between Murphy (Peter Weller) and Officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen) was serviceable, but never particularly convincing, while that between 2014’s Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) and Jack Lewis (Michael B. Williams) has much more in the way of camaraderie and comfort with each other, which is apparent on screen.

So if you go into Robocop (2014) and expecting the excesses of the original film–as I did when I first saw it–you’re going to be Robocop (1987)disappointed because there’re not too many directors that can beat Paul Verhoeven when it comes to over-the-top, subversive filmmaking. But if you haven’t seen the original film then José Padilha’s more conservative interpretation is actually pretty enjoyable. Robocop (1984) is currenty on Netflix

Knock, Knock – Trailer 1

Knock, Knock is the latest from Eli Roth and Keanu Reeves, and while I haven’t the movie, I already have a few misgivings.  The first being that Reeves doesn’t tend to do well in roles that call for any sort of romantic/emotional involvement with another human being, which might be at the core of this movie.

What immediately comes to mind is A Walk In The Clouds, the 1995 movie by Alfonso Arau which was almost painful to watch at times, particularly when Reeves, as Sgt. Paul Sutton, moved about so awkwardly in a scene when he was waving some fans about in a field (it was awhile ago, and all I recall were the romantic overtones of the scene, who fell very flat).

Or in The Devil’s Advocate, where Reeves was involved in a pretty unconvincing sex scene.

As long as he’s doing things that don’t require him to emote too much, he tends to be pretty reliable; though if the role does, then all bets are off.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E – Official Trailer 1

While growing up, while I was aware of Napoleon Solo (otherwise known as The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and Illya Kuryakin (originally played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the television series), though I didn’t watch it, being instead a huge fan of The Avengers and Department S.

There’s already been a remake of The Avengers, and while the original series was so awesome I hope it’s revisited once again, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

The Avengers – Original series

I would post the trailer for the reboot of the British television series, except that it’s surprisingly difficult to find.  I mean, it was a pretty mediocre movie, but I didn’t think that it was so bad that the Internet would reject it.

As far as I know, no one has rebooted Department S, which is a pity because Johnny Depp, with his penchant for odd mustaches and the like, would be perfect as Jason King (Peter Wyngarde, who’s life is interesting enough to warrant a movie of its own).

That being said, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is being rebooted via Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows) and it looks interesting despite the fact that the initial car chase brought back somewhat unwelcome memories of Speed Racer.

Furious 7 – Trailer 2

I haven’t seen any of The Fast and the Furious movies in their entirety (though I recall catching a snippet of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift when I was visiting my parents awhile ago) and had no intent of doing so.

I am also surprised to learn that there have only been three, excluding the latest movie.  And speaking of Furious 7, I have just seen the trailer and I might have to see at least one because it looks insane.

On top of that, it was directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence, etc), who’s always had an eye for interesting visuals.

And did I mention that on top of the regular cast, it stars Jason Statham as well as Kurt Russell?

And after all, it’s not as if I am not expecting Downton Abbey (thanks for that!) or anything.

Spider-Man Returns To The Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Morning After

Spider-Man, climbing

A few hours ago I wrote a piece for MoviePilot about Spider-Man’s return to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), and overall I am pretty happy about the way things have turned out.  Technically speaking, it’s not quite Spider-Man returning to where he belongs, but under the circumstances it’s probably as good as it’s going to get.

That being said, there are caveats.  The most significant in my eyes being that Avi Arad is still going to be involved with the franchise, though in an Executive Producer capacity–prior he was a producer.  The problem is that Arad supposedly forced Sam Raimi to shoehorn in another villain to Spider-Man 3 (a move that pissed off Sam Raimi so much that he hired Topher Grace to play Eddie Brock/Venom for no other reason than Arad DIDN’T want him in the role) resulting in the the weakest of Raimi’s three Spider-Man movies, critically speaking–though in Arad’s defense, it was the highest grossing Spider-Man movie.

Another is that Kevin Feige is producing with Amy Pascal, the former Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), who also produced Marc Webb’s tone deaf The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Despite TASM2 Webb is a pretty talented director, though perhaps not the right person for the franchise) and let Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and their mediocre magic-blood filled writing virtually ruin the franchise.

Though hopefully Feige will be able to keep things under control, after all he has done exceedingly well guiding the course of the MCU (that being said, part of the deal is for the next Spider-Man to be produced by Sony–Feige and Pascal remaining as producers–with Spidey meeting with his compatriots from the Marvel’s end of the street, which begs the question:  With the contracts for many of the heavy-hitters in the MCU expiring (such as Robert Downey, Jr./Iron Man and Chris Evans/Captain America) then who is Sony expecting to turn up in their movie?

Though the best news of all is that this pretty much puts the kibosh on any Aunt May spy dramas that were under consideration by Sony.

Poltergeist (2015) – Trailer 1

Speak of the Devil, and he’ll come (or something to that effect) because the new Poltergeist trailer has dropped, and it’s a whole bunch of “Meh.”

There’s a workman-like sheen to things, which may owe more to Paranormal Activity than the original movie, but if the trailer has shown me anything, it’s how unnecessary a remake it is.  That being said, I have to give whomever decided to cast Jared Harris, seemingly in the Tangina role, props because the man is virtually a walking special effect.

As far as I am concerned, casting Harris in such a role is like casting Angus Scrimm in that either actor may not be up to–or associated with–something ominous, but more they likely, they are.

Though why they needed to ride the original Poltergeist’s coattails is beyond my understanding.

Kingsman: The Secret Service -Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service poster

“”Kingsman: the Secret Service” Is More Fun Than It Has Any Right To Be.”

Honestly I didn’t go into Kingsman: The Secret Service expecting all that much.  It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn, who did X-Men: First Class, Stardust, Kick-Ass, and Layer Cake.

Luckily my reticence wasn’t necessary because it’s a pretty good time.  The movie takes the spy thriller–something anyone that’s seen James Bond, Jason Bourne or even Austin Powers is familiar with–and tweaks them in some pretty interesting ways.

This secret organization, Kingsman (sort of like Torchwood, but without the name of their organization on their cars) is loosely structured based on King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, which means that there are individuals with code names like Arthur, Merlin and Lancelot.  They operate outside of government and work behind the scenes to stabilize trouble spots all over the world.

There are about three violent set pieces in the movie, and they’re all gloriously over-the-top, making Kingsman probably one of the most violent mainstream movies that I have seen in awhile (in fact, it’s almost Monty Python-violent at times).

There’s also a very populist current undergirding much of the action, which was an interesting–and unexpected–turn.

Though mainly the movie was just surprisingly fun, and a lot of the credit goes to Samuel Jackson, who plays Valentine, a megalomaniacal billionaire who’s plan for saving the world just happens to involve the killing of millions of “surplus” people (and unlike most spy movies, his scheme actually makes sense in a Machiavellian kind of way).

And Valentine is a particularly quirky individual, though there’s one peculiarity that’s not only ballsy for any actor to attempt, but that Jackson pulls off with aplomb.

In fact, Kingsman is full of all sorts of ballsy moves that would have failed in a lesser movie, but happen to work in this particular case so if you’re on the fence about seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service, get off and go see it.