Sunday, November 28, 2010

One Ring To Rule Them All?

Not to seem like I have a man-crush, but I am doing another article about a Ryan Reynolds movie.

Now, I've always been more of a Marvel fan myself, but I see merit in DC properties as well, and they've got themselves an excellent catalogue of heroes to make movies based on.  Outside of Superman and Batman, Green Lantern is probably one of the best known DC properties, and making a movie centered around the Hal Jordan incarnation makes perfect sense.

It's not like they'd make an Aquaman movie.

If you're familiar with who The Green Lantern is, or what the basis of the story is, then bear with me for a moment whilst I explain it for those who have no idea.

No, Van Wilder did not pledge to a fraternity.
In this movie, Ryan Reynolds is playing Hal Jordan, a test pilot who, when he has a chance encounter with alien sentry Abin Sur (played by Temuera Morrison, better known as Jango Fett), is drafted into The Green Lantern Corps.  The GLC is basically a group of aliens sworn to protecting the universe, each member being assigned a sector to watch over, using a ring of green energy to manifest their powers.  Think of it as a galactic police force, and Hal Jordan is the new recuit.  He's also the only human to have ever joined.

Ok, so now you're caught up.  Let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

The more I look at the poster for The Green Lantern, the more I feel like something is wrong with it.  I have the feeling that it has something to do with the fact that if you photoshopped Ryan Reynolds out of the picture and replaced him with a unicorn, you could hang it on your little sister's wall and it would look perfectly natural.

Overall, it's really a fine poster.  On one hand, nothing about this poster excites me about the movie at all.  However, on the other hand, nothing about this poster is keeping me from wanting to see the movie either.

As far as the trailer goes, it does make the movie look fun, if nothing else.  It doesn't give any real clues as to what is going on in regards to the plot, but it does have some great action shots.  From a visual standpoint, the movie looks great.  The planet Oa (headquarters from the Corps) looks stunning in it's own right, and the aliens each look distinctive and interesting.  The trailer also shows off the impressive cast of The Green Lantern, giving each person a few seconds of screen time.

Now, it's no real secret that comic-book fans are, at the best of times, skeptical and distrusting of those who want to make movies out of their beloved characters.  You'll often hear criticism on everything from the actor chosen to play a role, to the shade of color used for a part of their costume.  The Green Lantern has been no exception, and I'm certain that it will garner plenty of criticisms from professional critics and fanboys alike.  I do think, however, that the movie will end up pleasing plenty of people at the box office, as it looks like it's aiming for more of an Iron Man tone than a Batman Begins (or even The Dark Knight) tone.  That's a good thing, as I don't think that The Green Lantern would be well served by anything so gritty.  Do I think that it will do as well as Iron Man did at the BO?  Well, we'll just have to wait and see, because it's too early to try and call it.

So, what do you guys think?  Am I crazy?  Do you still think that Ryan Reynolds should have stuck to one comic book character as opposed to three?  Do you anxiously await a Green Lantern/Superman cross-over movie?  Let me know and leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MYMNK: Chaos Theory

Firstly, let me apologize for the hiatus.  It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but I am back to writing for your reading pleasure.  So, with that, I'd like to introduce a new series of articles: Movies You May Not Know, or MYMNK.  For the first of these new reviews, I'll be covering Chaos Theory, the indie film starring Ryan Reynolds.

The movie centers around Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds) a motivational speaker specializing in time efficiency.  Frank leads a seemingly simple, satisfying life with his wife Susan (Emily Mortimer) and daughter Jessie.  On the morning of a presentation that could prove to be a huge boon for his career, Frank realizes that Susan accidently set the clock wrong.  Frank ends up running an hour late for his presentation which sets up the entire rest of the movie's plot, as that single hour throws Frank's life into complete chaos.

Frank ends up being rather angry with his wife for her mistake and ends up harmlessly flirting with Paula (Sarah Chalke, best known as Elliot Reed from TV's Scrubs) who gets Frank drunk and then attempts to take advantage of him by luring him up to his own hotel room.  Frank, being an honorable man, informs her that he loves his wife and leaves the room.  Through simple bad luck, that's the moment when Susan calls his hotel room and, of course, Paula decides to answer.  I'm sure you can imagine what happens from there, and I'd prefer not to give out too many spoilers.  Needless to say, Frank's life takes a sharp left at that moment.

What's shocking to me is that Chaos Theory only has a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (as reviewed by critics).  Granted, the audience rating is quite a bit higher at 61%, but the low rating still surprises me.

Overall, the film is a true dramedy in that it involves a rather serious, and tragic, subject matter spiked by bits of comedy.  What's great about the movie is that the comedy isn't intrusive on the overall story, but rather complimentary.  Most modern comedies allow the humor to come from set-ups, where a writer sits down and goes "Ok, so this is funny...", whereas Chaos Theory lets the humor simply flow, seeming more natural.  These aren't jokes written for the purpose of being funny (for the most part), but rather interactions that seem humorous to us as the audience.

I'll give an example:  There's a scene a bit over half-way through the film where a despondent Frank runs into Paula, the woman who can be held partially to blame for his life falling to shambles, in a bar.  She asks if he's still into time management and he immediately asks whether or not she's still a "home-wrecking bitch."

Now, of course, me typing the scenario out for you isn't nearly as funny as Reynolds delivery of the line, but I hope that you get my point about the comedy stemming from a naturalistic flow and realistic reactions.

None of this is to say that the movie is without it's flaws.  Overall, the performances are an average.  They aren't bad, but they aren't anything ground-breaking either.  I feel like the only person who really threw themselves into their role was Reynolds.  Throughout the movie you get a sense of the character's deepening depression and frustration with his complete loss of control over his life.  This is one of those movies that really proves that Reynolds has moved beyond his Van Wilder stage and is ready for the big-league.

Another complaint of mine, and I know that there are others who feel this way, is the ending.  The last twenty minutes of the main storyline just feel melodramatic to the point of bordering on soap opera territory.  It's certainly not the worst of endings, but it could have been better, a lot better.  You watch a movie for an hour and twenty minutes and you expect the ending to reflect the movie as a whole, but it seems that the filmmakers decided otherwise and left any trace of humor out of those scenes, which makes it feel hollow compared to the rest of the film.

I should note that the film is book-ended by scenes taking place years after the main storyline where Frank is talking to his soon to be son-in-law about the chaotic nature of love.  They're minor scenes, but they really frame the movie well and I thought they'd be worth mentioning.

I would certainly recommend this movie to anyone who's a fan of independent movies, Ryan Reynolds, or even just the dramedy genre as a whole.  So, "Check It Out" or "Pass It Up"?

Check It Out!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Believe In Christopher Nolan

I'm not going to lie; I was one of the people expecting to see The Riddler as the villain in Christopher Nolan's next Batman picture, now confirmed to be titled, The Dark Knight Rises.  In fact: I was hoping to see The Riddler.  The rumor mill was working hard, too, as people the 'net over speculated who would play the devious master of questions.

Well, Christopher Nolan didn't pull any punches when he put those rumors to rest during an Oct. 27th interview with Hero Complex.

“It won’t be the Riddler...”
It's ok kids, just take a deep breath, and we'll get past this.  Go grab a tissue if you need one, I'll be right here.

Alright, feeling better?  Let's move on.

So it's not going to be The Riddler.  Then who might Nolan, hot off the success of Inception, choose to be Batman's next greatest nemesis?  We know that it won't be Mr. Freeze, which is good, because I don't know how my fragile psyche would handle the memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger's turn as Freeze, in 1997's Batman & Robin, rushing back in the middle of a packed theater.  (Remember "Chill out!"?  I sadly do.)

Christopher Nolan
No Freeze.  No Riddler.  I think it's safe to say that we won't be getting a recast of Joker.  For one thing, Nolan seems to be a pretty classy guy, and I don't think he'd disrespect the late Heath Ledger by recasting his last (debatably greatest) role in a major studio production.

Personally, I'm in the camp that doesn't expect Two-Face to make a return.  The guy was pretty dead at the end of The Dark Knight, and as much as I enjoy the Jurassic Park books, I don't need to see Harvey Dent pull an Ian Malcolm and return because he was 'only mostly dead.'  The only way I'd accept seeing Dent return would be if Nolan could really do it justice by explaining it in a really believable way.

I think that Nolan is going to go in a new direction.  In Batman Begins, Ra's al Ghul tested Batman's readiness to protect Gotham.  In The Dark Knight, Joker tested Batman's resolve to protect Gotham.  The new villain will need to test Batman in another way in The Dark Knight Rises.

Having said that, my new draft pick is The Penguin.

Oh, I hear that groaning from here, you nay-sayers.  The Penguin isn't a threat to Batman?  No, he's really not.  He's a threat to Bruce Wayne though, and that's how I see the third movie going.  Ra's al Ghul and Joker are, basically, terrorists.  They're creative, theatrical terrorists, but terrorists all the same.  They create chaos to put their plans into motion.  What makes The Penguin different is that he is a business man.  He's a guy that, with minimal tweaking, represents corporate evil and greed at the extreme.

The next face of evil?
Now, despite this being purely speculation, I think I have a good bead on who would end up playing The Penguin, were he to be Nolan's choice for villain.

Philip Seymour Hoffman not only would be an appropriate actor from a physical standpoint, but would be more than capable of holding his own alongside actors of the caliber that Nolan has gathered for his Batman trilogy.

I'm not alone in this sentiment either.  A quick hop, skip, and Google search away and you'll see that other fans also think that Hoffman would be a top-notch addition to the cast of The Dark Knight Rises.

Let's stop there for a moment and talk about titles and the significance that they carry with them.

I'm not alone in thinking that The Dark Knight Rises is a bit of a weak title.  A lot of people, from what I've gathered, agree that the title is too close to that of it's predecessor.  Personally, I'd prefer something along the lines of 'The Caped Crusade', but I do see how 'Rises' makes perfectly clear what it's about.

So all in all, I'm really rather excited about this news.  For a film geek, like myself, half of the fun is speculating and anticipating what these little tidbits of information mean.  Hopefully, we'll be getting even more in the near future.

Any ideas on a new villain?  Do you love the title?  Do you hate the title?  Then leave a comment!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remember, Remember, the 5th Of November...

Today is a day of monumental importance my friends.

Today marks the anniversary of an event that would change the course of history forever, all through one man's ingenuity and determination.

No, I'm not talking about that whole Guy Fawkes thing, because today happens to also be the anniversary of another important event.

It was 55 years ago today, in Hill Valley, California that Dr. Emmet Brown came up with the idea for the flux capacitor, after taking a fall in his home bathroom, and subsequently discovered time-travel.

Dr. Emmet Brown, the man who discovered time-travel.
Ok, so I'll restrain myself from getting any more meta with you guys, but I feel that today is an important day to mention Back to the Future.

I feel a certain level of shame (probably an appropriate level, actually) when I admit that I didn't see the movie until I was 19 years old.  I mean, it's easily one of the greatest movies ever made, so what took me so long?  What was it that kept me, an admitted film snob, from seeing a movie that is pretty much a right of passage for any self-respecting filmophile?

The answers, I'm afraid, elude me.

But this article isn't about how I was a shell of a man until I saw a DeLorean leave twin fire trails in a mall parking lot.  No, this article is about what makes Back to the Future a special movie, one that stands out against even some of the cream of the crop.

Firstly, the movie has some of the best characters to grace the screen in the last fifty years, played by actors that were born to play them.  There isn't one bit of off-kilter acting (for the 80's) that throws off the pacing, or a bit of dialogue that doesn't sound completely natural (for the 80's) coming from someone's mouth.

Secondly, everything about the production end of the movie is spot-on.  The effects, the writing, the direction, even the score - they are each superb in their respective fields.

Finally, and of equal importance, is the fact that BTTF is the first movie in a trilogy that may just be the greatest trilogy to ever grace the silver-screen.  Even though the third movie may be the weak link in the chain, it still stands strong against just about any trilogy ever made.  The Back to the Future trilogy is what The Godfather trilogy would have been, had The Godfather Part III not sucked.

It's you know when your kids are?
So if this movie is so wonderful (it is) and probably one of the greatest films ever made (it is), then why would there be rumors that big-wigs in Hollywood want to remake it?

Yes, class, it's true.  There are rumors of a Back to the Future remake in the works.  Worse yet, there are rumors on top of those rumors that Justin Bieber - that heartless little mop-top - would be the primary choice to take over the role of Marty McFly.

However, rumors are just that, and according to an interview Cinematical had with BTTF co-creator Bob Gale, fans may not have too much too worry about.

"I wouldn't support [a remake]", Gale told us in a firm, no-nonsense voice. "We don't want to do a remake, and we don't want to do a part four. We've seen franchises that go back too many times; they do one too many sequels, or remake something that should not have been remade. Bob [Zemeckis] and I are real happy with the way the movies are as they now exist, and we will do the opposite of what everyone else does and say leave well enough alone -- let's not tamper with the past."

So, hopefully Hollwood will take note of this and not tempt fate by dicking with one of the best films ever made.   However, Hollywood hasn't always been known for their good sense (or even their good intentions).

But, alas, let us not dwell on the evil that may some day be done, but rather reflect on the good that has already been done.

So, before I wrap this up and get this thing up to 88 mph, I'll say this: If you haven't seen BTTF, then you need to climb out from under that cozy little rock you've been living under and go watch it.  Now.  I'm not kidding. Right now.

If you have already seen it, then I encourage you to go grab your copy - whether it be the new 25th anniversary edition, or the older 20th anniversary edition, or even a dusty old VHS tape - and pop it in tonight to commemorate Doc Brown's discovery.