OBLIVION starring Tom Cruise/Morgan Freeman! Poster & Trailer!!

oblivion-poster

Oblivion

Tom Cruise stars in Oblivion, an original and groundbreaking cinematic event from the director of TRON: Legacy and the producer of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man’s confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind.

The trailer has Tom Cruise at the center of a sci-fi tale about the mystery of a devastated Earth. The pluses are the film looks visually sumptuous, it stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman. The negative is the trailer doesn’t exactly excite or wow, in fact comes off a bit plodding, which is never a good feel for a trailer.

Here’s hoping both future trailers and the movie itself exceed first impressions.

Movie Trailers of the Day!

A quick recap of some movies trailers I sampled today. Here’s the lowdown on the winners, the contenders and the losers!

THE BEST:

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN- I’m not a fan of the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER movies at all. Thought the first movie was mediocre at best, so imagine my surprise going into this trailer. It seemingly has very little to do with UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, which in my book is a good thing, and the trailer comes across with very much a horror, off-kilter vibe. UNIVERSAL SOLDIER by way of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. If the ultimate goal of a trailer is to make you want to pay to see the film, then this trailer succeeds.

IRON MAN 3- No doubt everyone and their grandma has seen this trailer now, but let me just jump on the bandwagon and say it looks great.  I’ve enjoyed all the previous MARVEL STUDIOS movies, and this appears to be no exception.

MAMA- is the latest by the director of BLADE II, PAN’S LABYRINTH etc, and looks like a worthy and creepy addition to that body of work. It’ll get my theater dollars.

LINCOLN- A bio-pic on Abraham Lincoln done by Spielberg, with a huge, high profile cast. Of course this is a must see in the theaters.

 

THE UNDECIDED/WAIT FOR VIDEO PILE:

REACHER- Tom Cruise’s latest looks interesting, though nothing you haven’t seen before.Though the ageless Mr. Cruise finally begins to show some age, which probably works for the weathered character he plays. I’m not bowled over by either trailer, nothing that screams see me in the theater, but one I’ll rent at least.

PUSHER- The trailer of this remake does nothing for me. But it has some heavy hitters behind the camera so the film may surprise. Worth a rental maybe.

BIGFOOT- A found footage BIG FOOT film. I’ve liked Big Foot related items since the old SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN TV show, so the premise is enough for me to give it a look. But nothing worth seeing in a theater or buying. Particularly considering the trailer makes it look even stupider than Blair Witch (which I disliked).

STOKER- Well when I heard the title STOKER I was hoping this had something to do with Bram Stoker, but no such luck. The trailer makes this seem like a drama/thriller about a young girl and her serial killer uncle, something of a distorted reworking of Hitchcock’s brilliant SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Quite frankly the trailer is pretty uninteresting, the only saving graces it has are… Nicole Kidman (she’s such a captivating beauty and actress, even here when she should be playing a worn, mother figure. If the purpose of a star is to make you want to look at them… all the time, then Nicole Kidman is a star of the highest order) and the director Park Chan Wook, of OLD BOY fame with his first English language film. So STOKER, poor trailer or not, is definitely worth a look when it hits video.

TAICHI- A steam-punk martial arts film by the creators of IP MAN and DETECTIVE YEE. I’m sold! :) Not something I’m going to pay theater prices for, but it is definitely a future rental.

EVIL DEAD REMAKE- That’s a gory trailer, jury is still out whether it is a good trailer, much less a good movie. Off the bat none of the actors come across as interesting which already puts you at a HUGE disadvantage. Bruce Campbell’s performance and likeability is a huge part of the success of the original EVIL DEAD, so to toss in some stock CW actors, with the depth of pond water (just going by the trailer, they may be Oliviers in the finished film) and think you earn the right to call it an EVIL DEAD film… could be a problem. This is going to be worth a look on video, but not in the theaters.

 

 

THE WORST:

HAUNTED HOUSE- A Marlon Wayans comedy/spoof on PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. The trailer is as stupid and uninteresting as you think it would be. Avoid.

THE COLLECTION- by the SAW creators. Seemingly their SAW franchise is dead, so they are trying to jump start a new one, using the same torture porn premise. Going just by the trailer… utter garbage.

CLOUD ATLAS- The easiest way to get me not interested in a film is to put Halle Berry in it. Tom Cruise doesn’t help either and an unfocused time-hopping storyline leaves me equally uninterested.

SMILEY- Seemingly an urban legend Serial Killer film. A killer with a smiley face made of flesh? Ugggh. It’s an effective trailer for this type of movie, I’m just not the audience for it. I hesitate to put this in the worst category until some of the reviews come in. It may actually have a story to it, and some craft, unlike something like THE COLLECTION.

That’s all for this installment of the best and worst in movie trailers! And you can view all the mentioned trailers for yourself here! Just say NO to Flash/streaming web trailers, which are always slow and crappy, and get them in downloadable quality at the link above!

And come back soon for more!!

TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 1 of 3!


“She loved me. That’s the root of the business. But she knew… she knew I thought more of my wife’s footprint in the mud, than I did of her body and soul.”
— A fantastic performance by Ciaran Hinds as Jim Browner, telling Holmes about the sister-in-law who connived to destroy his marriage, with tragic results. From THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES adaptation of THE CARDBOARD BOX.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series

In this age of streaming and Netflix, the DVD/Blu-ray is still the format of choice for those who want to do more than ‘see’ the movie, but explore it and enjoy it. I’m speaking of special features.

Specifically Director’s Commentaries.

As a rule I don’t purchase DVDs/Blu-rays, unless it is a movie or series I intend to watch more than once. And as such a director’s commentary is an essential part of the DVD for a film fan such as myself.

I can watch the DVD once for the program, then go back and watch it for the cast/crew insights into the film. So that said, what are the best DVD/Blu-ray commentaries?

Best is a problematic designation, so let’s go with favorite… here are my 15 favorite DVD commentaries:

Images
The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman’s IMAGES/THE LONG GOODBYE- I put these two films together as one, because they are Robert Altman at his most experimental, and to my mind, while not his biggest or most lavish or most acclaimed films, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE are his most interesting and stylish and surreal films (and they also sport two of the most amazing, experimental scores).

They are my favorite Altman films. And while endlessly watchable on their own, the excellent special features push them over the top. While not really a commentary, the films instead sport brief interviews with Robert Altman, but such informative and formative interviews. Altman gives a great insight into the division of labor between Director/Writer and Actor, and how as a writer a work is 2D, and it is incumbent on the actor and others to make it 3D, to bring it to life. Between the film and the interviews, it’s a class on film-making, for the price of a DVD.

And next…

Michael Mann and Tony Scott are two of my favorite directors, they make fantastic films, and their commentaries are full-on clinics in film-making. So just about any movie they make, I purchase as much for the commentaries… as the film. So you can easily fill a top ten or twenty list with just these two directors.

But for the sake of brevity we’ll limit each director to just one:

Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER [There are numerous DVD and Blu-ray versions of this film, but the link below is the only DVD that sports the Michael Mann DVD commentary.]
Manhunter (Restored Director’s Cut Divimax Edition)

[And as honorable mention check out Michael Mann's COLLATERAL, from covering using the digital camera to the landscape of mercenaries, to the actors, it is just a riveting commentary. Collateral (Two-Disc Special Edition)]

Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE showcases two excellent commentary tracks.
Man on Fire

Another one of my favorite directors is Werner Herzog, and his commentaries are always things of high drama and art onto themselves. Everyone of his films are worth owning as much, and in some cases more for his commentary. Just a fascinating director, and a fascinating man.

Like Mann and Scott, every one of his commentaries could fill a best of list, but again for the sake of brevity we’ll narrow it to one.

AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD- cause it’s always entertaining hearing him discuss Klaus Kinski

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski: A Film Legacy

Werner Herzog Collection

DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS- Put together a novel from one of my favorite writers, a few of my favorite actors, and one of my favorite directors in Carl Franklin, and you have a movie that makes anyone’s purchase list. Add a riveting commentary from director Carl Franklin, and you have DVD as film and film-experience.

Devil in A Blue Dress

And rounding out the first five for this list of 15 Favorite commentaries is

THE COMPLETE FARSCAPE- People who are fans of this show, a show that at its heart is this great love story, are fans because they are so connected to the characters that the actors and writers bring to life. Outside of possibly BABYLON 5, FARSCAPE is the most emotional and best acted show of the fantastic (Browder giving wrenching, award worthy performances). So the chance to reconnect with these shows, especially by listening to Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who obviously have as much chemistry off screen as they do on… is just a joy. Even lukewarm episodes of FARSCAPE, rare but they do exist, are made ‘must-haves’ by the commentary. A fantastic series, adorned with fantastic commentaries.

Farscape: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Farscape: The Complete Series

So that’s it for the first five favorite commentaries. Join me in the next installment as we cover #s 6-10! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL 2011 Movie Review!

So based on the fantastic, kick-ass trailer, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:GHOST PROTOCOL was one of my most eagerly anticipated films of 2011. So finally seen, with a 1st time Live-Action director Brad Bird at the helm, what is my verdict?

Well first it’s worth setting the scene, I saw this in IMAX, not IMAX 3D or 3D, but IMAX. Parts of this film were shot in the 70mm IMAX format, but not in 3D. So yeah I have no problem, viewing a film shot in IMAX in IMAX.

Well let me rephrase that, seeing this in IMAX is not a problem. Payment the exorbitant markup to see this in IMAX… big problem.

When the cashier said $15.50 I actually had to pause, for a less anticipated movie I would have told him forget it and either not see it in IMAX (which I notice theaters are making it difficult to do, offering either no regular non-Imax, non-3D showings, or these showing only seldom and at inconvenient times) or just wait for DVD.

I can understand seeking to increase revenue in a down market, but attempting to fleece and extort your existing customer base may not be the way. You end up with people like myself, who actively will seek out less IMAX movies and movies in general, because of such price gouging at theaters.

A $15.50 ticket?!! Really?? You’re talking what, a 50% markup over regular ticket prices? That is just not good.

So already you’re creating the wrong mindset for people going into the film, the way my brain, and a lot of peoples brains work, Anything $10 or less, is kind of an impulse buy. You look at the 2hrs of big screen entertainment, and you justify it as $5/hr. Not horrible.

But suddenly cracking $15, and it’s suddenly a purchase that registers in your brain as expensive. You start getting thoughtful about the money spent, which is not really what you want consumers doing, questioning if they are getting value, getting their money’s worth.

It’s a dangerous habit to get the customer into, making a movie ticket less impulse buy and more potentially over-priced money-waster.

So it’s with that mindset a bit in my head I enter the darkened IMAX theater.

This theater being one of AMC’s retrofitted pseudo Imax theaters/Midget Imax theaters, it is not a real 5 story high, 70 foot wide screen (yet another reason I balk at paying the exorbitant prices), that said it is a very large screen for a multiplex.

And obviously they are trying to at least give you something to kinda justify that expense because man, they really had the sound and bass cranked, the picture looking great. I’ve seen IMAX movies at this theater before, and they raised the game for this movie. I sat there looking at the seven trailers prior to the movie, having my chest pummeled by sound, and my eyes dazzled, and I have to say… , I was impressed.

And the seven trailers?

SNOW WHITE & HUNTSMAN- An action packed updating of the Snow White myth

MAN ON THE LEDGE- Intriguing looking heist film

JOHN CARTER- I hated the first trailer for this film, however this new trailer actually looks great,

UNDERWORLD:AWAKENING- I’m no fan of this francise, having only seen bits of previous movies, but this trailer looks good if not great. And I’m always game for a Werewolf movie. RISE OF THE DARK KNIGHT- I have my problems with Nolan’s films. Unlike most I’m not a fan, that said this was a decent enough trailer

GI JOE: RETALIATION- I hated the first GI Joe Movie, however this one actually looks good. Mostly due to Dwayne The Rock Johnson.

THE TITANIC in 3D- There’s one person I don’t bet against when it comes to 3D, and that’s James Cameron. If James Cameron puts his name behind something it’s good enough for me. And watching the trailer I was reminded of all the people who have spent years deriding Titanic, who are going to end up eating their words as they pay to see it a 2nd time in 3D. Fan boys are an odd breed with selective memory, and they like to bash what is successful and popular, just because it is successful and popular. TITANIC became thw largest grossing movie of its time for a simple reason, because it was an effing epic movie, and because people could not stop seeing it.

A lot of fan boys have this revisionist memory, almost attacking things for being popular, forgetting that at the time they enjoyed the movie just as much as everyone else. But in hindsight, and with some posing it becomes the rage to bash on TITANIC. A similar film is SUPERMAN returns, that was a darling when it came out, everyone was raving about the plane scene and the bullet to the eye, but suddenly in blogs and podcasts and the peanut gallery it becomes revised as a bad movie, by the same ones who enjoyed it at the time. So yeah the fickle and schizoid ranting of fanboys I let go in one ear and out the other, quality tells. And quality says, while it’s not going to make a billion dollars in theaters again, it’s going to do very respectable business for a revival film.

I’m pretty sure there was a 7th one, but I can’t remember what it was.

Okay, enough with the trailers… onto the feature.

Brad Bird’s transition from animation to live action can only be called… impressive and epic.

Wow, from first frame to last, what grabbed me was just how brilliant and accomplished this film looked. how the heck does a first time live-action director pull off a film on this scale.

It is a gorgeous looking movie, stylishly filmed, and action packed. It’s easily the best of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series, and the performances… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.,.. Tom Cruise is one of Hollywood’s best actors, and that he has maintained giving 110% in his work, even while dealing in the meat-grinder that is the press, and with fickle fanboys, is only to be applauded.

Agree or disagree with Cruise’s beliefs if you choose, though how that’s anyone’s business but his I don’t know, but what he puts on the screen can not be questioned. He’s a star, the likes of which we seldom see anymore. Add to that wonderful performances by his IMF (the use of that acronym kept tripping me up, I would immediately think International Monetary Fund (Boo! Hiss!) rather than Impossible Missions Force (Yay! Hurrah!) team-members, namely Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton; fantastic stunts, beautiful locales, and bone crunching action and you have a fun ride at the movies.

Thant said, it’s not perfect. The pacing is a bit uneven, bordering on long, and the script at brief times is a bit by the numbers. I think it probably could have benefited from tighter editing and a shorter runtime, that said I was quite satisfied for the film to play out at its pace.

All in all it’s a solid ***1/2 out of **** and is definitely one I’ll be adding to my DVD collection. B+.

Upcoming Movies/Trailers of the Winter 2011-2012 Season

Okay I’ve downloaded and viewed a bunch of trailers. My verdicts?

21 JUMP STREET- The original series was okay, if lightweight and relatively forgettable 80s fare. It deserved better than to wind up as the title of this abhorrent, unfunny, stupid, and pathetic excuse for a comedy remake. The saddest part is there are real directors, real writers and real actors who can’t get funding for films, and yet abortions like this not only get made, but get distribution deals. As you may tell, I didn’t like the trailer. Grade: AVOID.

111111- Evil angels movie. Trailer looks like a poor cobbling of previous mad angel films, a genre I generally like, though it’s never been done well. And with the director of the later SAW films headlining this, it’s clear it is not going to be done well this time either. Grade: Wait for DVD rental or cable.

SAFE-Another Jason Statham action film. I don’t dislike Statham, but much like Matt Damon I find him way overused. I just don’t find them interesting enough actors to be in every single movie, the way they are. I just don’t find them interesting… full stop. GRADE: Wait for rental.

RESTITUTION- With stars C. Thomas Howell and Tom Arnold, this straight to DVD flick has made for tv written all over it, as well as some murky storyline about murder, fraud, and conspiracy. That said the trailer is capably put together, and probably makes this look better than it is. GRADE: Not something I would make time to look for at the video store, but if you get the chance to see it free. give a look.

THE INNKEEPERS- I love, love. love Ti West’s THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, I just think he’s one of the most interesting, innovative and talented young directors to come along in years, so I’m inclined to go see any film he directs. The trailer for the INNKEEPER and its SHINING meets JHorror type plot, is strong enough to get me in the theater. GRADE: Worth seeing at the Theater.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:GHOST PROTOCOL- I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again this is the best trailer of the winter (the 1st trailer, not the 2nd one). and looks EFFING AWESOME. And this is a movie that looks like it deserves to be seen on an IMAX sized screen. Brad Bird’s first live-action film, looks poised to show he’s as good a director of live action as he is animation. GRADE: Are you kidding? It’s a MUST SEE in the theaters!

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO- Man that is one long trailer and one unattractive actress and some very understated to the point of bored and boring actors. All this I was thinking watching the latest trailer for this film. I was excited for Fincher returning to the thriller genre, as his last few films I find increasingly uninteresting. Not bad mind you, just not engaging masterpieces the way I consider some of his early films. However each trailer for this film has me more uninterested. GRADE: I’ll see it for a matinée showing and hope for the best. But going just by the unimpressive trailers, if it was not David Fincher directing, this would be a wait for rental flick.

SAFE HOUSE- The first posters for this had me underwhelmed. But I LOVE the trailer. Damn I tell you cinema will be a sad and boring place when you no longer have Denzel Washington as leading man to save us from Statham and Damon retreads. This guy is an Actor with a capital A, he brings the gravitas and weight to films, doing more with a look, than most actors do with entire filmographies. And all of that bloody commanding talent comes though in this brief trailer. And also makes up for the fact that the Green Lantern guy, whatever his name is, is in this flick. Another actor that does nothing for me. But this covert thriller has an exciting trailer, and the trailer has Washington, so GRADE: Definitely one to see in the theater.

THE GREY- I find this Liam Neeson helmed man vs. nature thriller, looks pretty darn compelling in this trailer. I mean man vs. beasts. Last really memorable one would probably have to be THE GHOST AND THE LION. So I’m all for giving this a chance. GRADE: Worth seeing at Matinée prices.

LARGO WINCH: HEIR APPARENT- This is purportedly the third in a series of movies concerning France’s answer to James Bond meets Bruce Wayne. I have not yet seen the first two movies, but like them, this trailer’s movie is another that doesn’t excite me enough to see in theaters. GRADE: Wait for rental.

ELITE SQUAD 2- Heavily armed cops in Brazil killing poor people. That’s what I took away from this trailer, and isn’t something I get behind in real life, or in my fiction. So accolades aside, which the trailer is filled with, my GRADE: Wait for rental.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is it worth seeing in IMAX?

Well, as previously mentioned, I saw TRANSFORMERS:THE DARK OF THE MOON, you can see my full review for specifics, but in short… it’s great.

However, what I want to discuss in this post is one of the trailers I saw before TRANSFORMERS. It is the trailer for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:GHOST PATROL, by first time live-action director Brad Bird, and it looks fantastic.

I’ve not been a fan of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE franchise. I thought the first one was good (Brian DePalma’s last solid film) , the John Woo follow-up, a little less good, being okay in places, and the third by JJ Abrams being awful.

However, from the trailer Brad Bird’s take looks exciting and fun. Definitely has me interested enough to see this in theaters when it is released on 16 December(North America). Whether it lives up to the trailer (ie makes any sense)depends on the writing team of Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, and Christopher McQuarrie (being not a fan of ALIAS, the show they seem to have in common, the jury is out for me), but visually it appears Brad Bird may be able to translate his animated success to live-action.

That said I’m not going to be seeing it in IMAX. This nonsense about shooting a few scenes of a movie with IMAX cameras but then charging Full IMAX prices, is bullcr*p, bait and switch nonsense. For a movie like TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON where the whole thing is shot in IMAX 3D format, that’s one thing to pay IMAX prices for, but partial films?… No way.

My recommendation, send a message to the Hollywood suits and don’t pay to see this movie in IMAX.