‘Devil’s Due’ Review

Devil's Due poster II

“”Devil’s Due” is slightly more ambitious that most found-footage movies, though suffers from problems built into the format.”

Having seen Matt Bettinelli-Olpin‘s and Tyler Gillett‘s “Devil’s Due,” about a newly married couple destined to give birth to the Antichrist, it’s obvious that the found-footage trend, ushered in by the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project” and made mainstream with the Paranormal Activity films, needs a break so that it can recover the sense of freshness and spontaneity that made such films so intriguing in the first place.

Which will not happen any time soon because these movies are so cheap to produce.

For instance, “Devil’s Due” cost $7 million to make, and earned almost $33 million dollars, which is a really tidy profit.

The premise of the movie while by no means unique, is at least interesting, though like other films in this genre it makes little in the way of sense because there are too many situations where someone would not be walking around with a camera.

Most found-footage movies at least stick to the cameras at hand, though “Devil Due” expands to using footage from literally any camera in an area, which the characters shouldn’t have any access to, as storytelling devices.  It makes no sense at all and kind of takes you out of the movie if you give it any thought.

Continue reading

Captain America Uniform From ‘The Avenger: Age Of Ultron’

Captain America (Age of UltronHere’s a picture from “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” of Captain America (Chris Evans) in his new costume.  It looks like a combination of the suit he wore in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” combined with the one he wore in his most recent adventure, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

I think it looks great, particularly the way the wings are integrated into the design of his helmet (which looks a lot like the leather helmets pilots wore in World War II).WWII Pilot's Helmet

You can find some more shots here, which is perhaps a better use of your time than following the legal travails of Bryan Singer, who like Icarus flying too close to the sun, may lose it all if the allegations of Michael F. Egan III are proven true.

And even if they’re not, they may have cost him the next film in the X-Men franchise because people may have a problem going to see a multi-million dollar production helmed by a alleged pedophile.

 

Movie Mistakes: ‘Iron Man 3′

Iron Patriot
Generally I don’t particularly care about these sorts of things, but having seen “Iron Man 3″ perhaps more times than should be legal, I noticed this little error.

Truth be told, it’s less of an error than the filmmakers apparently showing us what they can get away with when viewers are in awe over one of their favorite comic characters appearing on the big screen (for the fourth time).  What happens is that James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle) is captured by Aldrich Killian/Fake Mandarin (Guy Pearce), who uses his Extremis-derived abilities to superheat a section of the armor, with the intention of forcing Rhodey to abandon it.

Killian knows that he’s damaging the surface of the armor, and so he strongly suggests that his henchman, Savin (James Badge Dale) had better be able to fix it.  Now, Savin may indeed be talented, but prior to this moment the movie gave no indication he also had some pretty awesome metallurgical, as well as painting, skills because the next time we see the Iron Patriot armor, there’s no sign that there was any damage at all.

I mean not even a smudge of the paint.  I also know that we’re watching a movie based on a comic book, but Savin making what looked like considerable damage disappear is probably the most outlandish thing in the movie.  Though you have to admit that the man is talented, and if Tony needed any help in his lab, he could do worse than hire him.

Iron Patriot

By the way, anyone that has been following the Iron Man films–Yes, even “Iron Man 2!”–knows that Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) has an miniature Arc reactor in his chest, which keeps a piece of shrapnel from entering his heart, which is pretty much at the center of the chest (which is why the armored suits he wears don’t have the chest repulser off to the left or right).

In the penultimate act of the movie, where (Spoiler Alert!) where Tony Stark and Rhodes are squaring off against the Extremis-enhanced forces of the Fake Mandarin (that’s not his name, but if you have seen the Marvel One-Shot, “All Hail The King” you know it’s true) the Arc reactor is in the center of his chest, where the Universe and Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Don Heck intended it to be…

Arc Reactor III

Only to find that in later scenes it has somehow shifted considerably–and quite noticeably–to the right.  It’s not like it’s now on his shoulder or something, but it’s definitely no longer in the center of his chest.

Arc Reactor II

Occam’s Razor posits that when faced with explaining why or how an event happened, the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions is more likely than not the correct one.  So, considering that that Arc reactor prop was entirely practical, it was probably somehow adhered to Robert Downey, Jr.’s chest, and with all the activity that the film required from him, shifted a bit.

And you know what, I’m OK with that because what the filmmakers could have went with was a CGI Arc reactor, as opposed to a practical one, though the problems it would bring would probably quickly disabuse them of the notion.  For instance, if it were computer-generated, it would have to look slightly different every time it appeared on screen because of changes in lighting conditions as well as his body shifting.

It’s certainly doable, by why would anyone want the added cost, when you could create an Arc reactor medallion, have him wear it, and save yourself (probably) thousands of dollars.

And besides, we’ve seen a movie that was so chock-full of computer generated effects that even the costume that the actor wore wasn’t real.

And we all know how well that went.

Like this movie, I am awesome!

A Movie About Me!  What Could Go Wrong?

‘Maps To The Stars’ International Sales Trailer

As I understand it, this isn’t the actual trailer for David Cronenberg’s upcoming “Map To the Stars,” but one cut for the purpose of international sales.  I stumbled upon it–with more than a little help from “The Wrap”–though it makes me wonder why Cronenberg continues to work with Robert Patterson.  If their last film together, “Cosmopolis” was any indicator, we shouldn’t be at all surprised if he delivers a somewhat wooden performance.

Then again, I get the feeling that–as far as Cosmopolis goes–that that was exactly the performance that Cronenberg wanted from him, which is at least reason for some optimism as regards Patterson’s acting chops.

 

 

A Female Superhero Needs To Lead, Though It Shouldn’t Be Mystique (Not Yet, Anyway)

MystiqueI read last week on ScreenCrush that the producer of the X-Men films, Lauren Schuler-Donner, “is interested in taking that character (Mystique) into a solo film.

And if anyone were to ask me–and they haven’t–I would say, “Don’t do it.”

That’s not coming from the perspective of a hater.  I personally think that it would be awesome that a female character were popular enough to play lead in a superhero films, but Mystique isn’t a great place to start.

Mystique (comics)

And she looks much more interesting in the comics, too.

It’s not that I don’t like the character, she’s actually very cool and in the comics has a rich, vibrant history.

A history which the movies haven’t touched on virtually at all.  Most people don’t know who she is, other than she’s blue, a mutant, often seen as a villain, and a shapeshifter (though it doesn’t hurt that Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the character, is essentially nude).

And speaking of Lawrence, there’s what I like to call the ‘Jennifer Lawrence effect.’  The actress has been successful in everything that she’s been in, from the Hunger Games films, the X-Men movies, to the films she’s done with David O. Russell, though I don’t think that she’s big enough to carry a film based on a character that’s barely a supporting character in the X-Men movies.

And the thing is, filmmakers cannot afford to get this wrong.  The last film I recall a superhero film featuring a female character was 1996′s Barb Wire (based very, very loosely on the Dark Horse comic).  Boxofficemojo doesn’t list its production costs, but considering that it didn’t quite make $4 million, I think I understand why there wasn’t a sequel.

It took 9 years for another female superhero to appear, with the 2005 Jennifer Garner starrer, “Elektra (based on the character from Daredevil)  It cost $43 million to produce, and earned almost $57 million at the box office.

That not terrible, but it’s not profitable either.

And the other female superhero character was…There is no other.

Which is my point.  Studios cannot afford to get this wrong, and if they go with Mystique, they might.

Though that’s not to say that there no way that a female superhero can be successful, though if it happens it probably won’t be from Fox (and the X-Men franchise they license from Marvel).

It will more than likely be from Marvel Studios, and the character will be Black Widow.  As far as I am aware she’s the only female character that has the background and the presence to support an entire movie on her own.

And Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, is considering it.  Hopefully he firms-up on the idea before Lauren Schuler-Donner does because we have all seen what happens when studios don’t get it right (when it comes to women) the first time around.

‘Wish I Were Here,’ Trailer 1

You ever watch a trailer and get the feeling that the director is probably trying to be too artsy?  Well, that’s there feeling that I get from watching “Wish I Were Here,” the latest film from Zach Braff, while also fighting the urge to type, “Wish You Were Here,” which is an awesome song by Pink Floyd, from the album of the same name.

It wasn’t too long ago that Zach Braff made news by partially financing his project through Kickstarter.  At the time some objected to him doing so because Braff is not exactly short of funds, he blazed a trail on Kickstarter that others, such as Spike Lee and Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”), would follow to finance their projects.

Donald Faison is also part of the cast, whom I respond fondly from “Scrubs.”

Postmortem: ‘The Happening’

  • Part 1: It’s All About The Benjamins

I imagine that M. Night Shyamalan, coming off the blockbuster success of 1999′s “The Sixth Sense,” thought that he literally ruled the world.  That movie, on a $40 million budget, earned almost $673 million dollars.

His followup,  2000′s “Unbreakable,” cost $75 million to produce, almost doubled the cost of his first film and earned just over $248 million dollars.  While not as wildly successful as “The Sixth Sense,” it was still quite profitable.

His third film, “Signs” was cheaper to produce than “Unbreakable,” at $72 million, but earned over $408 million dollars.

His forth film, 2004′s “The Village” cost $60 million to produce, and earned almost $257 million dollars, but cracks had begun to appear in his armor.  “The Village,” while profitable, had the lowest rating on Rottentomatoes.com rating of any of his prior films, at 43 percent.

Most critics believe that it was little more than an extended Twilight Zone episode, though that’s not quite fair to “The Twilight Zone,” which was significantly better.

His next film was his first flop.  “Lady in the Water,” which cost $70 million to produce, earned only $72 million worldwide.  The studio that released all his films prior to this one, Disney, declined to do so for ‘Water.’   Shyamalan then took the movie to Warner Bros., who in hindsight probably wished he hadn’t because–while it earned back its production costs–wasn’t profitable.

His next film, 2008′s “The Happening” had a remarkably low Rottentomatoes score of 17 percent, which one might understandably equate with box-office disaster, but not in this particular case because  it earned over $163 million dollars.

Continue reading

‘Bad Johnson’ Review

Bad Johnson movie poster

“I can’t deny that your dick can sell dog shit to a freshly mown lawn.”

                                                                                                          —Josh Nelson

Nothing about Huck Botko‘s “Bad Johnson” feels real–though to be fair it’s is about a man who’s penis decides that life could be better without him, so pretty much the entire “reality” thing is thrown out the window.  Rich Johnson (Cam Gigandet) plays a womanizing man-whore who–though losing his dick–becomes a better person.

Though let’s be honest: There are probably better ways to do so.

And if that weren’t bad enough, his anatomy has somehow become personified in the person of Rick’s Penis (Nick Thune)–Yep.  That’s his name according to IMDB and the film’s credits–a walking, talking personification of libido.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Such an outlandish scenario could be excused if it were really funny (for some reason I imagine a pre-freebasing Richard Pryor as Rich’s Penis.  That would be gold).  But it’s not.  Sure, there are moments when things are amusing, but for a movie about a man who’s penis goes on walkabout, it’s kind of dull.

Though prior to his dick’s attempt to steal the spotlight, the movie’s about Rich, who’s claim to fame was that he would screw virtually anything on two legs, as long as it was female because Rich doesn’t have eyes for the guys.

Though he somehow believes that his penis is the source of his problems–as if it had a mind and a will of its own–and before you know it, it does.

There’s no particular reason given for such a thing to happen.  No bombardment by cosmic rays, no bite from a radioactive dildo; Rich just wishes that his penis were gone, and “poof,” it is.

Continue reading

‘Expendables 3′ Trailer

The ‘Expendables’ films are somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me in the sense that they remind me of an American muscle car, like the Corvette Stingray.  It might not be state of the art in certain ways, such as engine technology, but it’s surprising the problems that copious amounts of horsepower can solve.

This film is chock full of actors that some might consider relics, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford, yet if the earlier films in the series are any indicator, it will probably manage to hum along pretty well too.

Mel Gibson is in this as well, playing a villain.  Which makes me wonder:  Is there some sort of typecasting going on here?  Every since his very public meltdown, it seems that he more often than not plays a villain.  2012′s “Get The Gringo?”  Criminal.  2013′s “Machete Kills?”  Megalomanicial villain.  2014′s “Expendables 3?”  Seemingly a mega-megalomanical villain.

I don’t know who Gibson’s agent is, but if I were he, I would really begin to start to question their judgement.

Then again, he seemed to be playing a decent sort in Jodie Foster’s 2011 film, “The Beaver,” and we saw how well that worked.

Wesley Snipes is thrown into the mix too, which makes me think he’s perhaps one of the luckiest men on Earth, because most people don’t tend to bounce back so quickly from prison sentences.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier mo

“”Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Easily Ranks Among The Best Marvel Studios Films.”

Let me get something out of the way:  You know all those critics that say that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was a great superhero film that’s evocative of spy thrillers like “Three Days of the Condor (both which happen to have Robert Redford in starring roles)?”

Well, they’re right.

It’s a remarkable movie, easily the best Phase Two Marvel film so far (and it should go without saying at this point that you should never leave a Marvel Studios feature without sticking through the end credits) but what’s most amazing about it is that how it reinterprets old characters and brings Captain America forward to the present.

In fact, in that fashion it reminded me of Superman’s journey in Zach Snyder’s “Man Of Steel” except that despite the world being very different from that which Steve Rogers knew, he stayed true to himself and his beliefs, and as a result he changed it (with a little help along the way), while the superman that Synder presented wasn’t the Superman I remember and grew up with because he seemed to renounce the very qualities that made him what he was.

This was a trend that continued through the entire film, taking ideas and characters from Captain America’s past in the comics, and reinterpreting and reimagining them in a way that not only satisfied fans–such as myself–that have been following Marvel comic characters for years, but those that have never heard of the Falcon, Black Widow or Nick Fury (which, considering how successful “The Avengers” was, is probably a very small subset of people).

The Russo Brothers may not have a lot of films under their belt, but that’s going to change rapidly.  They seem to understand that an action film doesn’t necessarily have to be wall-to-wall action, that the time spent establishing what motivates characters and laying the groundwork in the long run makes for a better movie.

And does this movie pay off!  Most of aforementioned “groundwork” revolves around Captain America solving the mystery of an enemy that–while the Captain was frozen in ice for over 65 years–was active, undermining the American democratic experiment from within.

And special mention needs to be given to Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who not only seems to have a snappy quip for just about every occasion, but whom whenever he took the skies virtually the entire theater would erupt into clapping.

I didn’t catch the 3D version, because more often than not that it’s a racket that enables theaters to charge significantly more per ticket than a non-3D movie, and truth be told before seeing it I didn’t think it would be as immersive in 3D like “Prometheus” or, to a lesser degree “Pacific Rim.”

That being said, I think that I will see it again very soon, in 3D.  Just to be sure.