donderdag 23 oktober 2014

Jurassic Park III: Alan Grant & Compies

Year of release: 2002

-Two different Compsognathus figures
-Bazooka type weapon (with missile)

Description: this Grant figure stands in a relatively neutral pose, except his left leg is positioned in a forward move and his lower right leg is bent backwards somewhat. The figure sports light blue pants, a white shirt with a brown vest over it, a black belt and brown boots.
The weapon appears to be a bazooka on a tripod: it’s painted in grey, with some metallic dark grey on the front giving the impression it’s been used before. The missile is slightly transparent orange, and resembles a big bolt of fire shooting out of the gun. The firing mechanism is the same as with the guns attached to the human figures in the Wave 1 line: the end of the missile sticks out of the weapon, and pressing it causes the missile to be launched in a not so straight line with minor impact.
The Compies are the most interesting part of this set. There are two of them, each in a different position. The first stands in an attack posture with his mouth opened, like it’s jumping on its prey. The other one takes on a slight stalking pose, like it’s checking out prey. The figures sport the same paint job: both are coloured light green with some small yellow stripes and a large stripe running from the back of the head all the way over the tail. The eyes and claws are black, and a black JP III logo can be found on both figures’ upper left legs. The two creatures are pretty skinny and lightly build: one can see their ribs on either side of their bellies. Both dinosaurs are attached to a support, coloured in the same green as the figures, making them able to stand up straight. The one assuming an attack posture also appears to be standing on a small green rock.

Analysis: this is a fun little set, though not because of the Grant figure. Though the figure doesn’t stand in an outrageously inconvenient position, like a lot of the Wave 1 figures, it’s still not great. The figure again doesn’t resemble Alan Grant much, and the paint job is rather bland. It’s not bad or anything, but not much of an improvement either.
The gun unfortunately sports the same weak firing mechanism as most of the guns in the Wave 1 line. It is however largely redeemed by it’s original and cool look. It looks relatively realistic, and the fact that the missile isn’t really a missile but more of a fireball does give it some credit. It still doesn’t have a great impact when fired, but the most likely target, the Compies, are easily knocked over by it. The paint job, with the darker metallic grey on the front side, gives it some history, like it’s been in combat more than once. The figure can hold the weapon by any of its three feet, but the weapon can also stand on the ground on it’s own. Unfortunately the front side it quite heavy when the gun is loaded, so it tends to fall over at times.
The greatest part(s) of this set are the two Compsognathus figures. Though they don’t exactly stand in a neutral pose, the fact there are two of them greatly helps playability, providing a wider range of possibilities. Having a pair also enhances the group feel these creatures have to them: Compies are after all never alone, but always in a group in order to kill their prey. Having only one Compy figure in the entire TLW line was certainly a mistake, and these two figures make up for it a bit. The paint job is pretty good, and certainly reminiscent of the Compies we saw in the movies. The same goes for the overall physical design of these critters: they certainly look like agile little beings with their skinny, slender bodies. It’s a shame they need supports to help them stand up, but one can live with that flaw. Unfortunately the supports are coloured the same as the figures; it would have been better had they sported a different paint job. But this is once again a minor disappointment.

Playability: good enough. The Grant figure stands in a more neutral pose than most of Hasbro’s human figures. The weapon works decently enough and the fact that it can stand on its own feet also helps. Though the Compies aren’t poseable, it’s good there are two of them: it doubles playability options.

Realism: Grant doesn’t look much like the Grant we saw in JP III. The head sculpts still bears little resemblance, and the outfit is also different. Once again, the infamous cowboy hat is sadly missing. The gun doesn’t resemble any weapon seen in JP III, but it looks more life like than the Wave 1 JP III weapons. The Compies look a lot like the creatures we saw in both TLW and JP III: they’re coloured in a slightly different tone of green and sport yellow stripes the Compies in the movies didn’t appear to have, but their physique makes it unmistakable we’re dealing with the same little devils here. They are a bit oversized though, but it’s understandable: it would be hard to make figures half the size of these. People would probably lose them way too easily then, so this size is more convenient.

Repaint: no. One of the Compies (the one assuming an attack posture) would be repainted for the last JP Dinosaurs line though. The other one wouldn’t however.

Overall rating: 7/10. The figure itself may not be very special, but the dinosaurs are really quite cool, despite their limited playability. The weapon, though hindered by Hasbro’s standard lame firing mechanism, also looks better than most of the weapons of the JP III line. This is just a nice little set, and worth getting. It’s not all that rare in the US, so it shouldn’t be too hard or costly to get your hands on. It’s harder to find in some overseas territories, but fortunately not too difficult to acquire online, and likely worth the effort, you'll find.

woensdag 22 oktober 2014

Today's News: back on schedule!

Finally managed to catch up with commenting on my own news today, thanks to a drought of news this first half of the week:

Excellent poster and tagline to match, precisely portraying Big Eyes' narrative issue at hand while indicating a humourous, even whimsical tone. Not as Gothic as we're used to from Burton, which could be a nice reprief, since most of his films in that vein from recent years (Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland) failed to capture our imagination. Still, biopics are not new territory to the man, as he already made one of the finest I've ever seen with 1994's Ed Wood. Seems he has a thing for underdogs in the visual arts, though the exact finesse of that term is debatable when it comes to Wood's excessively amateuristic works. However, as that film illustarted and tBig Eyes might underscore yet again, it's all about the love and enthusiasm you put into the act of creation. Talent comes second, or sometimes sinply not at all. Burton also doesn't seem to rely on his usual actors this time, instead opting for new company (but fortunately for us, still delightfully watchable talented actors). Big Eyes in many ways seems like a change of pace for the director, though he's still not entirely leaving his comfort zone given the subject matter. I hope the film will reaffirm Burton is still one of the most unique and worthwhile directors in Hollywood.

I'm not familiar with Suicide Squad. Sorry, I'm just a Marvel guy, while DC never really did grab my attention (aside from Batman, naturally). Such as it is, I am quite familiar with X-Men baddie Apocalypse. And I think Hardy is a fine choice to portray that ancient genocidal genius. Of course he looks nothing like Apocalypse does in the comics, but that's what computers are for. With Hardy, you may not even need those. After all, the Bane from the comics is as much of a hulking behemoth as Apocalypse, but Hardy's portrayal in The Dark Knight Rises, both physical and intellectual, made us forget all about the source material. Hardy definitely possesses the necessary gravitas and determination to make Apocalypse work on screen, as he did Bane. Though not in the same vein as Ian McKellen's Magneto (no, no no sir! That's the very top level of acting!), Hardy's Apocalypse could surely be a tour-de-force in supervillain acting, if he does opt for Marvel of course. Maybe his prior experience working for DC, though unrelated in terms of the DC Cinematic Universe which does not inculde Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, will entice him to choose Suicide Squad after all. Marvel's loss would definitely be DC's gain. And I'm sure he would make for a formidable foe to whatever poor DC superhero crosses his path in that film (if any), but it would be a great loss for X-Men: Apocalypse. And that movie already has a few things going against it, what with Channing Tatum performing Gambit... Hardy would be a fine choice to balance the acting scales in that regard.

I'm generally not fond of the concept of horror sequels, particularly to movies that made a valuable contribution to the genre. But if you gotta cash in by repeating a concept, you damn well better get the man behind the concept itself. Especially if that man could be held responsible for revitalizing the horror genre - at least in terms of popularity and audience attendance - over the last decade. James Wan sure can be said to have done so with Saw and Insidious, though particularly in the case of the former franchise, all the money spent on its many redundant sequels could have been put to better, more creative use. Now history is sort of repeating itself with The Conjuring, except that its success had already spawned a spin-off - Annabelle, currently in theaters and reportedly not all that bad - prior to a direct successor. Wan understands horror in its various incarnations, and if any genre director is capable of making this blatant cash grab work for audiences as well as for money hungry studio suits, it's him. Is his heart in it? It just might, since time has proven that he keeps returning to his horror roots despite the occasional break in that routine. Such a break is currently in progress as he's finishing Fast & Furious 7, so after all the tedious car chrashes and chase sequences, he'll probably be up for a few more oldfashioned scare tactics. And if he does finally miss the horror mark this time around, there's always the possibility of an Annabelle 2.

zondag 19 oktober 2014

Today's News: climbing back on top of myself

Gotta love Sundays, there's usually no or little news to report on. Today proves no different, which gives me an opportunity to catch up with myself at commenting on the news of the week. Still a bit more to be posted here, but the bottom of the barrel is in sight. For now.

Oh no, this beautiful art is getting me excited, too! And I so vowed not to get drawn into the hype, especially with J.J. 'Kill Trek' Abrams on board. But I must admit there's some gorgeous pieces of conceptual art here. Especially the artwork tying into the visual imagery of the old trilogy gets me where it's aimed at. The notion of a wrecked AT-AT Walker being refurbished into a makeshift shelter is simply splendid, as is the array of Imperial and rebel designs found among the imagery of new characters and locales. Can't say I'm too stoked over the design of the new villain, but I didn't think it would ever be possible to top Darth Vader anyway. It'll be fascinating to see just what makes the final cut and what doesn't. Even though this stuff was leaked to the studio's chagrin, I doubt they would order all of these scenes redesigned. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was an intentional leak, geared at getting up the hopes of sceptical fans (like myself), of which there are still many, but likely a few less now. In my case it's working, though I still refuse to get overexcited. Incidentally, don't ask me why my editor only posted a 'selection' (like, a third) of these concept art pictures on the site, while I actually took the time and effort to post links to all the available pics in my original message draft. Editor politics, I suppose.

Another paycheck of a whopping 40 million bucks in Robert Downey Jr.'s pocket. For a role in another Avenger's movie no less. I doubt that would sit too well with Chris Evans. So no wonder Marvel is anxious to do Civil War on the big screen, it means they can start killing off some major characters and thus save money on the actors portraying them. The winds of change are set to replace the old regime with a wholly new bunch of characters, even though most of them have yet to be introduced (like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange) and thus still need to win our hearts. I'm not convinced Civil War is the best story to tackle at this point though. There seem to be a bit too few characters to mine to make it work as well as it did in the comics. Also, the necessary emotional scale simply doesn't seem present yet. These characters, nevermind their limited numbers, don't have enough history with each other to make the impact of an ideological inner conflict with deadly consequences feel as touching and as compelling as required. I think Marvel had better wait a while longer until their upcoming TV shows, which allow for ample opportunity to introduce novel characters who would take sides in this fight, are in full swing. Granted, in that scenario we would be looking at another four or five years down the road, and Marvel doesn't want to wait that long to bring this much beloved story to theaters because DC is bringing the heat down on them with their own long-term plans. I would certainly argue that when dealing with important narratives like these, set to have major ramifications for all other Marvel properties and characters for many years to come, patience is a virtue. Either way, Robert Downey Jr. is the real winner here. Seems he already turned out the great victor in the civil war going on within Marvel Studios.

Ooh, it's all dark and brooding! Someone took a cue from the currently popular method of reigniting franchises. Glad they at least didn't tweak the familiar logo much. They just removed all colour and added a distinct layered feel, hinting at the 3D-release this movie is due. 'The park is open', the tagline ominously says. It'll be open for the tourists to gaze at the prehistoric critters, and soon they'll find it's open for the dinosaurs to eat the tourists en masse. That will be fun to watch, no doubt. This teaser poster adequately serves its purpose, but definitely doesn't get my blood pumping in joyous anticipation as its recent San Diego Comic-Con counterpart did. Too bad those go for like 500 bucks on eBay right now...

A short little teaser to kill some time for the fans in waiting between the trailers and the final release, I'd say. Not much new information is relayed here, other than the fact the District 13 resistance uses Katniss as a propaganda tool as much as the Capitol did, and in that regard may not be much better company in terms of morality. It's such intriguing political machinations that make The Hunger Games more than just a simple starry-eyed young adult flick, though the obligatory love triangle with its wooden acting gives a good shot at bringing the quality level down a bit. At least there's the strong performances from the more seasoned veterans (Jeffrey Wright, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland et al.) among the cast to look forward to. Jennifer Lawrence sure has some great actors to bounce dialogue off with. Philip Seymour Hoffman could have done worse for his last role on film, even though he's sadly not such a major character.

Any excuse to show Johansson on screen is worth the effort in my mind. I'm not at all into Manga, and I'm not afraid to admit I haven't seen a notable genre entry like Ghost in the Shell. I guess the Hollywood adaptation caters just to people like me then. Since the studio seems to finally start fast-tracking this project after a few years of it laying dormant, I doubt they're gonna get Scarlett, even for a 10 million dollar salary. After all, she's already done a few action heavy big FX movies recently, and her last one dealing with the symbiosis between (wo)man and machine, Lucy, didn't turn out so great (though it sure as heck did fine at the boxoffice,much more so than most would agree it deserved). Of course, an even better reason for her turning down the project is her current pregnancy, which is likely to keep her from active duty for a year or so. Would the studio be so anxious to get her for the part as to adhere to the necessity of waiting that long? I personally doubt that. I think it's very likely Johansson will pass on Ghost in the Shell and we'll hear of another actress being cast fairly soon. One in Johanssons class seems unlikely, as she really is in a class all her own.

zaterdag 18 oktober 2014

Today's News: a tidal wave of old news

The situation remains unchanged. I have time to post news on MovieScene on a (more or less) daily basis, but the same cannot be said for my blog. Of course, you can question the validity of commenting on (old) news on a blog with only six followers to begin with, but my obsessive-compulsive mind won't let me do so. So I continue to struggle on this quest to catch up with myself, seemingly doomed from its inception. Whatever. I ain't the giving-up type.

Yup, that's a teaser alright. It offers only a glimpse into the story of this movie, focusing on the pin as a means of interdimensional(?) travel. We'll have to fill in the rest for ourselves, including the (intellectual) nature of the relationship between the young girl and the middle-aged inventor. It's Disney, so it will be pretty harmless on the surface no doubt. Then again, there already is a theme of juvenile delinquency present here, and I'm curious as to how far this will be taken. It's probably an 'unlikely heroine' case, where the world simply isn't ready for the misunderstood protagonist, while the oddbal inventor, also undoubtedly a social outcast, proves not all grown-ups are like that. And so they bond and have wonderful adventures in a weird and wacky wonderland beyond the reach of us ordinary mortals who pay to witness them. Not much of a 'wow' factor as of yet: as this is a teaser and most of the many expensive and complex VFX shots are still a work in progress, we have to make do with only a shot or two. Unless you consider a field of wheat a spectacular sight.

Well, duh! Seydoux, to my mind, is the quintessential type of actress to assume the mantle of the Bondgirl: sultry, sexy, undeniably talented, a hint of sexual danger behind her eyes and a succinctly European attitude. I am not surprised she's up for a part in Bond 24. I considered it only a matter of time. Just remember how well she performed in a similar genre movie like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. I do find it interesting that her part was originally intended to be filled by a Scandinavian actress. Of course she is enough of a chameleon to play a Northern-European broad, I even have faith in her ability to pull off the accent convincingly (which is not an attribute I normally credit persons of a French descent with). It just seems a shame for all the Scandinavian actresses who didn't make the cut because Seydoux beat them to it. Could it be another example of Americans generalizing all European nationalities as interchangeable (as us Europeans often tend to do with Americans from different states)? I doubt that, considering the diversity in nationalities from the people behind this picture. The director for example is British, as is most of the main cast. And the director of photography is a Dutchman. There's a little bit of pride in me for that, I'll admit. As I feel for Mademoiselle Seydoux, who happens to be the granddaughter of my highest ranking international boss. So yeah, her intense performance in La Vie d'Adele was quite an eye-opener for me, and if you have seen that film (which you should have) you bloody well know what I'm referring to. That's not gonna happen in Bond 24, I'm sure.

I'm not entirely convinced this is a good idea. The LEGO Batman character seemed to work fine bouncing off of other characters in witty repartees, but could the arrogant superhero toy actually carry his own movie? And would that be a smart move, considering a new version of the Dark Knight in the flesh is currently also developed, played by an actor many consider to be wrongly cast? It appears to be a case of bad timing and it may backfire on Warner/DC. Or maybe the exact opposite will happen, because both takes on the same character are so stupendously different (at least, we assume they will be at this point). However, I'm quite convinced the sequel to The LEGO Movie should take precedence over this spin-off and ought to star the brick version of the Caped Crusader as a side character yet again, to see whether the joke's still funny then. There's something gratuitous to famous characters, real or fictional, being LEGO-ized. It's simply an easy gag, has been for decades (remember this one, from the days LEGO movie tie-ins were still a spanking new phenomenon?). Even now that we learned to get used to LEGO making brick versions of many a major movie franchise, those minifigure versions of the real deals are not supposed to be the stuff of major motion pictures themselves. I guess it's up to LEGO Batman to prove whether that sentiment still holds true, or whether LEGO itself has finally been widely socially accepted as an 'artificial actor' playing different characters itself, even performing roles that have been and still are played many times before.

Hardly a novel subject nor a novel approach. The 'reluctant buddy' team-up could definitely be called a staple this day and age, especially when one is gruff, rude and experienced (and male) and the other is young, rash and ideologically motivated (though not always necessarily female). The black/white motif is age-old as well. As for series based around the premise of superpowered individuals and their place in society, if any, we've also seen our fair share of those (The 4400, Heroes, Alphas). Gritty, grounded in reality, both room for cynicism aimed at and hope for the general human condition, check, check, check. Likely to be cancelled after a season or two, definite check. So what would make us watch this show? I like the casting choice of Sharlto Copley, he's not the most obvious actor for the part. Though he's best known for his comedic touch, he too often dabbles in distressing real-world scenarios mixed with a fantastic element (e.g. District 9). Plus, he has done grimy, dislikable characters before (e.g. Elysium, nevermind his overacting). So his involvement is a big pro. But is it enough to beat all the apparent cons? That remains to be seen.

Did two reports on the deluge of Hobbit posters in my previous post, don't really feel the need to get repetitive here. Especially since these four new posters are equally dull as their predecessors, and don't do justice to the epicness that is in store for us (supposedly). I like the characters and the actors portraying them, but I don't need their sweat, blood and tears so in-my-face. Unlike the trailers, these posters don't get me pumped for this final Middle-Earth movie.

Sure, considering all the fabulous quality series currently on television, let's explore franchises that failed to find an audience on the big screen for regurgitating on the small screen. Then again, there has proven to be a definite audience for the Resident Evil films, as the sixth is currently in pre-production. None of them are serious blockbuster movies though, they all carry a B-movie stigma. They're totally the stuff of guilty pleasure and everybody knows it; they don't have good FX, good stories or good acting, but the fanbase keeps watching nonetheless. Probably because of all the hot women involved, like star Milla Jovovich. I doubt the series' budget could afford her though, which means there's one less succesful ingredient present in the series. They can find another 'hawt' action babe of course, but the audience needs time to get to appreciate her kicking ass. And poor Mortal Instruments doesn't even have the hot chick element in its favour, but since it's aimed at teenage girls, a few hot guys will suffice. Apparently demon slaying Jamie Campbell Bower didn't fit that bill, since the movie flopped so bad (though there were many other reasons for that, too). I think this franchise has a better chance at finding a new life on telly though, considering there's plenty of source material from the books to mine, plus most people obviously never bothered watching the film, so it might feel more 'new' than it actually is. And the young adult genre is still going strong at the movies, so maybe there's still a chance the failed flicks among them find an audience on television after all. So we can "look forward" to series based on the likes of Beautiful Creatures and The Host as well, possibly. Yay...

zondag 12 oktober 2014

Today's News: still behind schedule

It's gonna take me a while longer to get back on track in regard to commenting on the bits of news I posted. As usual, time is against me:

Wow, those are some bland posters. Just the faces of some of the protagonists, that's all we have to work with. Rather disappointing, as this is the last Hobbit movie, if not the final Middle-Earth movie (ever?), so you would think they'd go out with as much of a bang as the movie itself (though I may be assuming a little too much here, I doubt this trilogy will end on a boring note). We already know what the characters look like, so we would have liked to have seen a bit more of the environment they inhabit. A grand and elaborate banner (think the Bayeux Tapestry, but its Tolkien equivalent) was released last month that did a far better job of promoting the movie, capturing our imagination and firing our desire to see this film than this dull posters would ever do. The advertising art for both predecessors too looked much more appealing by comparison. Guess the promotional execs think it's all a matter of the little things. Assumptions from the characters' facial expressions are all we are left with, which is a pointless guessing game for those who have read the book. Why does Gandalf look so disheveled? What's up with Galadriel's determined gaze? And is Bilbo finally going to go berserk with that little sword of his? We'll have to watch the movie to find out. But then, we were planning to do so anyway, and these posters at the very least won't discourage us from doing so.

Finally, a new Pixar movie that's not a sequel! I'm not entirely sold on the concept though. It's intriguing, but hardly novel. However, Pixar usually tends to make such outlandish premises work just fine, and I'm hoping post-Brave Pixar won't do any different. You won't get any clear indication of the story just from watching this teaser, which only hints at the overall story (not that much info on that has been released so far, anyway). Not to mention it does a solid but sentimental job referencing all the Pixar greats - and some less great, too - we remember oh so fondly. This teaser is playing mostly on the past emotions of pleasure we experienced watching all the company's classics, as well as stimulating a strong emotion not characterized in the film: curiosity. But there's also plenty of room left for doubt, make no mistake. Which begs the issue, how come there's only five emotions in the girl's head? What happened to the rest of them? A philosophical debate about the nature of emotions and the way they rule our mind seems to be in short order. Though it's likely Pixar still has some surprises left on Inside Out's plot and the questions this teaser throws in our path about the logic of it all.

Well, at least they got the logo right. That's straight off the comic books' covers, that is. Though the usual subtitle 'The Man Without Fear' is absent, but this works equally well. A return to the comics' greatness (on-again/off-again, honestly) is sure in order after the Ben Affleck version, which showed little of that. Currently, New York Comic-Con is in full swing and so far the Daredevil panel was by far the most fascinating occurrence. The concept art looked pretty neat, the first released pictures gave some pretty sweet glimpses, except maybe for the titular character's costume. Though I have a sense it's not the final piece, but more like Daredevil's initial stab at a costume (√° la Spider-Man's ludicrous wrestling attire in Sam Raimi's first movie). It would be a bit of a downer if this series' superhero ran around with a black handkerchief for a mask for the whole show. I guess Marvel has to find ways to cut the budget somewhere...

And one reason the studio has to do just that involves the exorbitant pay cheques demanded by its star performers these days. Robert Downey Jr. is by far the most expensive of the lot of them, as his salary for Iron Man 3 amounted to no less than 50 million (!) dollars, reportedly. So small wonder Marvel is looking for way to dodge such excessive costs on future projects. One way to get rid of Downey Jr. would be to quit making Iron Man films. The man is still contractually obliged to assume the character's mantle for two more Avengers flicks, but they could end it there by using those films to find a narrative way to replace him with another character to fill his iron shoes. It's not like that sort of thing isn't constantly happening in the source material. Remember Thor is currently a female in the comics? Which would only entice audiences more strongly to find out what the heck is going on. Of course, that would mean spectators will have to get used to an Iron Man without Tony Stark (no way they are gonna recast that character, considering how beloved Downey Jr.'s take on him is). I have no qualms with that. The Marvel Universe is so much larger than just one popular guy, and the movies have still barely scratched the surface. I'm all for a new Iron Character if it saves Marvel from bankruptcy so they can keep on making highly enjoyable superhero movies. I doubt we're going to see an Iron Man 4 with Robert Downey Jr. in the starring role again (and he himself apparently doubts it very much as well, considering his conflicted reponses to the 50 million dollar question), and if that be the case, I don't mind. There's various ways to deal with that in compelling storytelling (in fact, the matter has already been explored in both Iron Man 2 and 3), and I have confidence that the House of Ideas will pull it off once more. Iron Woman sounds like a wonderful notion, so bring it on!

woensdag 8 oktober 2014

Today's News: am I gaining on myself or getting further behind?

With new movie news being posted on nigh a daily basis, I'm gonna be hard-pressed keeping the topics current. Today's news items too admittedly aren't all too fresh, being nearly a week old by now.

I gotta admit I still had a few laughs watching this trailer, even though I'm against the whole notion of doing sequels to Hollywood comedies, since they're nothing but blatant cashcows and creativity is usually not their forté. The idea of three nitwits formerly screwed over by their employers starting a business of their own is at least a narratively logical construction, though otherwise all the predictable story ingredients from the sequel are in place: the inaptitude of the protagonists, the rich bastard conning them for his own gain, the crime that is to be their revenge but backfires on them, etc. Many of the supporting characters return, even though not all of them seem genuinely warranted to do so - read: gratuitous appearances galore - to provide a familiar face for people who are off-set by all those newcomers (not that there's that many of those though). Surprises are not likely to be found here, looking at the story. A decent joke or two, most likely. Will this be as good as the predecessor? Let's consider the sequels to similar recent succesful comedies. Can you name one that was anywhere near as good as its forebear? I certainly can't. So I doubt this will prove any different.

Not exactly a surprising bit of casting, but a welcome one nonetheless. Gotta love the consistency between the TV branch of Marvel Studios' enterprise and its theatrical counterpart. It also provides a good example that television and cinema are getting increasingly intertwined as actors known mostly for their movie roles have no qualms appearing in series, a situation which was once stated to be a signal of their career's demise. These days, the opposite seems through: actors that stick to one medium are old news, it's the ability to switch between media which keeps them hot and interesting. Though the show's star, Hayley Atwell, certainly is no stranger to the small screen (Pillars of the Earth, for example), Dominic Cooper's television career by comparison is still in its infancy. It recently kicked off with his portrayal of 007 creator Ian Fleming in Fleming, so it's off to a good start. And for Agent Carter, Cooper's recent brush with espionage is all the more convenient, as that's exactly what the series deals with (though with the necessary Marvel twists). In temporal regards the latter could almost be considered a follow-up to the former, as Agent Carter takes place shortly after the period in which Fleming is set. No wonder the studio was so eager to get Cooper back to reprising Howard Stark, he seems a perfect fit and for his own benefit, he could use a bit more of the television treatment.

As a nice segue to the former topic, even the mighty Marvel can't get every actor they would like. Joaquin Phoenix proved too headstrong and too gung-ho for contractual independence for the House of Ideas. Probably for the better, as Phoenix has shown little interest in doing big studio productions over the last decade. Small independent features are his preferred territory, and it seems to work well for him, so why would he succumb to the restrictive studio system? It would likely only have hurt his performance. Though it could still have been a great one. Doctor Strange was probably the character best suited to Phoenix, considering he's in an offbeat niche all his own in the Marvel universe, namely the mystical one. The physical resemblances would only have been a bonus. Strange however has had little issues joining others in bigger ventures, as he's been a member of almost every big super team from Marvel's comics over the years, from the Defenders to the Avengers. Such joint enterprises really aren't Phoenix's cup of tea, and I'm not surprised and only slightly disappointed he didn't bite. I'm still hoping for Viggo Mortensen to take the part, though he's very much of the same mind and is at least as unlikely to accept, if not more so.

Another Hollywood comedy sequel I'm not eagerly anticipating, though I admit this one offers more diverse story telling possibilities than most. I got the general idea with the first Zombieland though, which I found only moderately funny. I guess I prefer my zombies without comedy (like the far superior The Walking Dead, duh!). The studio seems adamant to make a franchise out of this one though, even though they already failed on telly in that regard, as the series didn't get beyond the pilot stage (I didn't bother to see it). Undoubtedly the studio sees something in this that I don't: money. I think most people however just watched the first film, had a few laughs and simply moved on, largely putting the title out of their mind (which would be hard to do with The Walking Dead, a far more gripping viewing experience). Zombieland simply doesn't seem compeling enough to prove a lasting franchise, but the studio insists on trying regardless. They're welcome to try, but if it doesn't work out again, don't say I didn't warn them.

maandag 6 oktober 2014

Today's News: falling behind

I can still find time to post news on MovieScene, but not enough additionally to comment on it here. Which doesn't stop me from trying, but it makes some of these news items older than usual, a situation which will stay that way if I can't find a balance again soon.

Well, this is just a bad idea. If they wanted to have Shatner and Nimoy return as a pair, they should have done it years ago in that first dreadful Star Trek reboot vehicle. Now Shatner is just late for the party and would feel even more like a gratuitous addition/story cop-out than Nimoy's appearance in the previous two installments already does. Besides, what is there to gain for the rebooted franchise by itself if they keep leeching off the classics, thus refusing to let the new movies stand on their own merits - of which, to my mind, they have few to begin with - by dragging iconic characters into the mix? Just let go off the past and let Nimoy and Shatner enjoy retirement, they said their farewells twenty years ago back when we still cared. It's bad storytelling to keep them from recurring next to their hip and cool modern counterparts Pine & Quinto. Contemporary audiences will only get confused by the oldies, while real Trekkies don't give a damn about their involvement, as the faithful and sensible fan community members among them have stopped bothering with the reboot franchise (and the rest of them isn't worth considering). It's not their Trek, goes for both the fans of the real Kirk and Spock and the actors portraying them. Abrams and co., please go write something original rather than milking the original ad nauseam just because you have no idea how to proceed otherwise.

Why wasn't Liam Neeson in any of The Expendables flicks? He's making more action movies than Statham and Stallone put together these days. Granted, they're all interchangeable and Tak3n (or Taken 3, if you prefer, which I do) doesn't seem any different. Somebody not too smart screws Neeson over, he goes berserk and hunts down the perpetrators, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake for our enjoyment. Tak3n is said to be the final installment in the Taken saga, a franchise that few people would have thought would become one judging from the first film, which was just so surprisingly successful more of them had to be produced. The trailer seems to indicate it ends on a dramatic note, not the least of which is provided by disposing of Famke Janssen (why would you do such a thing?!). From the looks of it, there is a very real chance Neeson's character himself might not survive this one either. Probably for the best, so Neeson will soon be free to start doing redundant sequels to all those other action flicks he has starred in over the last few years. Or maybe join the cast of The Expendables 4, where he will fit right in.

Yes, Tetris is getting the unasked-for and unneccesary Battleship treatment. Don't ask me what the story will be about, the producers are not commenting on that aspect so strongly the likelihood of there not being a story as of yet must be strongly considered. They found something for Battleship, feeble though it was. That too ended up as what could be described as a 'science fiction epic', which is the route the producers of Tetris say it will take. It'll probably involve an alien invasion again. But this time, rather than fighting them off with ancient WW II battleships, we'll rain down digital blocks on their heads! That'll teach them! Or stuff. I wouldn't expect too much, to be on the safe side. Except for the appearance of that darn catchy game tune, which is so iconic they'll have to keep it in or people will call shenanigans on this film. Maybe that's how the aliens will be defeated? Though that would mean stealing a plot point from Mars Attacks. I'll stick to the game on my old Nintendo GameBoy. It's the only console I have (if that term is eligible for use in this regard, I dunno) and the only game that came with it. Or I can play it on my digital calculator, which is what got me through high school (though without it, I may have gotten through high school quicker, admittedly). For some reason, playing Tetris never gets old. So why do we need a motion picture about it at all?