Poster and Movie Trailer of the Day: ALEX CROSS!

Right Click and Do Save As to download the Movie Trailer

Like everyone else I was a huge fan of the first few James Patterson ALEX CROSS novels. Most notably KISS THE GIRLS. But I fell off the Patterson train relatively early (back when he was still writing his own novels), no slight against him… just other interests came up, and so I have not read anything by Patterson in probably a decade or more. But I still remember fondly those first few ALEX CROSS novels.

However film adaptations have been less than kind to Alex Cross, and this latest film, titled simply enough… ALEX CROSS, on paper does nothing to alleviate this concern. In fact, on every front it looks to be a step down from previous films, and a trainwreck in the making.

First the casting… Tyler Perry as Alex Cross. Now I give you that Morgan Freeman was possibly not the right choice for Cross, but in Freeman you have an award winning powerhouse actor, who basically can make any role work. And he did so with the character of Cross. But Tyler Perry?

He’s a decent actor. He has physically the imposing size. However it would be easier to take him seriously in a dramatic role if he hadn’t spent the last decade or so in women’s clothes. I saw the trailer, I just have a hard time seeing him as anything but Tyler Perry, about to reach for his wig. :). At no point in the trailer, do I say… this is Alex Cross. They would have been far better off with Idris Elba.

Next is the director, Rob Cohen. Nothing in his filmography (FAST AND FURIOUS I, DAYLIGHT,XXX) really interests me. And the trailer looks okay, but nothing we haven’t seen a million times before.

Which brings us to the third red flag, the writers. A pair of relatively untried writers, Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson, and all they have to their credit is another lackluster Patterson adaptation, ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

From A to Z, nothing about this project screams top-notch. It screams retread, made for cable movie… at best. I mean, serial killer movies… not really my thing, and police procedurals are a dime a dozen, so to get me interested in paying theater prices you need to bring something special to the table.

Something where the film is not about the crime but the solution (because call me strange and un-American, but I have no interest in watching people suffer, or torture porn, or serial killers… my interest in such movies is about the hero. It’s about the people who make the wrong things right. And right off looking at the poster, you see where this film’s agenda lies. In glorifying and romanticizing the sociopath. Yet another thing that puts me off the movie.)

You need to be the next MANHUNTER or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and I think it’s a pretty safe bet ALEX CROSS is nowhere near either of those. However, all that said, I give the benefit of the doubt to action/thriller/genre films with more than two characters of color, simply because Hollywood releases so few of them, and I like to support the ones it does. So I will see this if it hits a theater near me, and hopefully like RED TAILS it can exceed my low expectations. :)

I hope I’m wrong. It has been known to happen, though rarely. :). As I alluded to, I was very pessimistic about RED TAILS and much to my surprise that turned out to be a GREAT film, that I’m glad I saw in the theater.

Here’s hoping that watching ALEX CROSS is not my… cross to bear. Heh, heh, heh! See what I did there? That’s a pun, son! :)

UPCOMING FILMS (1st Thoughts) 2012: HOBBIT, REDTAILS, PROMETHEUS

“You’re so… My Girl.” FARSCAPE’s Crichton Scorpius

Well I told you what trailers and upcoming films I’m not interested in, usually the mainstream pa-lava, so what is rocking my boat?

Well, first the list of trailers I spent good time viewing, in order to determine the good from the bad:

IN HER SKIN- Interesting trailer, not something I would see in the theater, has a lifetime channel feel, but this thriller about a missing daughter looks intriguing

DARKEST HOUR- 20something yuppie-lites in peril. I could not care less.

PROJECT X- A suburban take on House Party? If I was 10 maybe. Not interested.

THE HOBBIT- I loved the first LORD OF THE RINGS movie, I thought it was brilliant, the two follow-up movies not so much. In fact I dislike both of them and only own the first movie. It is not the first failed trilogy (cough– MATRIX— cough), and probably won’t be the last. I do think the trilogy broke Peter Jackson a bit, as the movies since… not good.

Having seen the trailer for the HOBBIT, I don’t know if it will be a great film. It’s not going to be a trilogy… which is good, but it is a bit hard perhaps to invest in the prequel, when the follow-up films are so fresh in everyone’s head. The absence of surprises and jeopardy (I mean we know Bilbo makes it out okay) maybe making it a bit by the numbers. I’ll probably go see it, but in no way enthused, or excited by it. Time will tell if it proves me wrong.

PROMETHEUS- This is a summer film, but I have to mention the trailer… it looks GREAT! I mean we all know Ridley Scott does visuals exceptionally well, but with the exception of AMERICAN GANGSTER, I have not loved a film he’s done in the 21st century.

Not a fan of GLADIATOR, BLACK HAWK DOWN, BODY OF LIES, etc. It’s odd how he and his brother are on different and opposing trajectories for me.

Ridley Scott’s masterpieces were all at the beginning of his career, from ALIEN in 1979 to BLACK RAIN in 1989, every single one of the films he did in that decade are absolutely AMAZING, beautiful, and gorgeous and also just great, challenging, imaginative and fresh films, but his films since have, for me at least, tended toward the formulaic and uninteresting and a bit tired and propagandistic (think Bigelow). ROBIN HOOD isn’t bad, it just isn’t very good, or interesting, or re-watchable.

Whereas Tony Scott, is the exact opposite. His early films were good, if a bit formulaic and forgettable. But the films he’s done in the last decade or so… I adore. Films such as MAN ON FIRE, DEJA VU, UNSTOPPABLE, SPY GAMES. He is one of my favorite directors currently working, and I’m looking forward to his upcoming film EMMA’S WAR.

That said, AMERICAN GANGSTER has shown that Ridley Scott can still knock it out of the park when he needs to, and the trailer for PROMETHEUS looks… EPIC! It looks really, really great. So yeah that’s one of the few films I’m really excited about in 2012.

RED TAILS- I’m going to see this movie, because I like to support any non-comedy film with more than two characters of color, since there are just not enough of these films. Hollywood suits tending to enforce their quota of two or less people of color per mainstream film So I’m always enthused to support an OBSESSED or a TAKERS (both of which I loved), that flies in the face of this cinematic glass ceiling/tokenism.

So I’m going to give RED TAILS my money in the theaters. That said I’ve watched the 2nd trailer, and while the story looks good, the action scenes fun, my problem is, as I’ve said before, the leads. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding. Particularly Terrence Howard seems horribly miscast. No offense but whatever it takes to get men to follow you into battle, Terrence Howard does not project it. I wouldn’t follow this dude across the street, much less into battle. :) So in the trailer when he gives those rousing speeches… doesn’t really work. He doesn’t have the gravitas of an Elba or Washington or even Cheedle to sell those speeches and that authenticity. And if he can’t sell it in a two minute trailer, there’s no way he can carry a 2hour movie that requires those speeches.

So yeah I’ll see the film in theaters, but I’m afraid it’s going to underwhelm (hopefully not to the extent of Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, which is one of the worst, most disappointing films I’ve ever seen, on top of being a financial failure, grossing only 7 million dollars, on an investment of 56 million. 4 yrs later and Spike Lee’s career has still not recovered from it).

Here’s hoping I’m wrong.[I was completely wrong. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr were great. See my full RED TAILS review!]

BENEATH THE DARKNESS- Nice title, and Dennis Quaid is typically good. But there’s more than a bit of been there, done that. 20 somethings in jeopardy by the crazy killer no-one suspects. Nothing at all interesting about the young actors, and they annoy me in a 2 minute trailer much less a 90 minute flick, so I can’t really give a good care about them or the story. This one is an avoid.

LONDON RIVER- A film that completed in 2009, but like too many intriguing films, beyond film festivals, has taken a long time to get any theatrical release/DVD release, however it seems to be making some headway in 2012. Still, it will probably not make it to a theater near you, but just as probably is better than most of the films that will. An intriguing drama about 2 parents, an act of terror, and two missing children. This is a definite one to try and track down at an Indie Theater or on DVD.

EXPENDABLES 2- Another one that doesn’t hit until late in the year, but man the trailer did the same thing as the first flick. It made me shout/cackle out loud! Just like the first EXPENDABLES it’s a dream come true to see all these names in one movie together. Applause to Stallone for putting this cast together and making this film happen while all the actors are still with us. I am a huge fan of the first Expendables and definitely looking forward to seeing this one. Another MUST SEE film!

DJANGO- And speaking of phenomenal casts. Just the cast list for this Tarantino film, reads like a who’s who of great actors. Whether this will be a great movie, or a Tarantino miss, I have no clue, but the cast alone makes it a theater watch.

SILENT HOUSE- I don’t like the idea of trying to sell a film by trading on someone’s ‘real’ horror. I don’t like the sleazy based on true events tag. I’m not objecting to it being ‘true’, but based on a 1940s anecdote in a different country, by the time the American filmmakers get their hands on it I’m not sure if there is anything reasonably close to ‘true’ left.

No, what I object to is what the trailer seems to be selling. It’s selling you, like a carnival barker, the chance over ‘real time’ to watch someone suffer, to watch someone’s world end. It is precariously close to the same allure one would no doubt use, to sell a snuff film.

I didn’t like it. The trailer.

I didn’t like it when I saw it in movies like THE STRANGERS (which I walked out of the theater on) and I don’t like it here. There is something of me, inherent in me, raised on older ideas of dragons slain, and maidens rescued… that objects.

That objects…. to evil… rampant.

I think as an audience, such films appeal to what is worst in us. They are not about journeying with the victim to get out of the situation or be rescued or the bad guy put down, they are about reveling with the predator or rapist in terrorizing, mutilating and then killing his victim. They are snuff films in spirit if not in fact, and I don’t like that. I don’t like it at all.

And I think the prevalence of such films hints at a widening hole in the fabric of the audience, a hole that just might be our decency and our humanity and, perhaps even, our collective soul… falling away.

That is if anyone in the world, besides madmen and writers, still believes in anything as naive and old fashioned and archaic… as a soul.

GONE- If SILENT HOUSE is what I don’t want to see in a thriller, GONE is what I do. It’s quite a refreshing take on the thriller genre, with the young female protagonist having to race against time to save her friend, and bring down the monster. I quite like the trailer.

If it has any fault, it’s that it probably gives away too much of the movie. But I think it almost had to play its hand to get the attention of people like myself who would have written it off as just another slasher flick if a more mysterious trailer was used. But yeah they have me intrigued enough to see this in the theater.

Wow. That was a lot more writing than I had intended when initially starting this post. Hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you have got a kick out of my rambling craziness, please support this blog by donating or shopping through the handy links located throughout the posts.

Thanks, and till next installment… be well.

LUTHER DvD Review II: Praise for actresses Nicola Walker and Indira Varma

[Contains minor spoilers for Season 1 of Luther]

I’m rewatching season 1 of Luther in preparation for watching season 2, which I just got in the mail.

The strength and magic of LUTHER is grounded in it not being the standard cop show about the serial killer or the case, those are ancillary to the real story. which is about Luther trying to make all the dysfunctional pieces of his life, particularly the women in his life… work, to be right.

His greatest challenge not surviving the serial killers, but something far more deadly and relate-able, trying to emotionally survive and make happy the women in his life, from his boss, to his wife, to his… arch-enemy/friend. And it’s only when the writer loses that plot, that heart of the story of Luther, that it suffers… badly, and devolves into its sub-par 1st season conclusion.

See my previous review, for my detailed list of problems with season 1, but in brief, a poorly written and cliched final episode (couple of episodes actually) that marred an otherwise tremendous, and amazing series.

Now that said, perhaps I didn’t give enough love to the first 4 (4.5) episodes. Those episodes are really powerhouse television, the quality of which you seldom see.

And a big reason is the quality of the actors. Idris Elba of course is phenomenal, as is Ruth Wilson who plays the red-headed Alice, as well as the rest of the principal cast. But I wanted to give attention to two actresses that I saw in this series first, and have since come on my radar for other work they’ve done.

One is the gorgeous Indira Varma, who plays Luther’s less than faithful wife. She also played the cheating wife in the first season of ROME. She seems to be making a career of playing cheating women as well as playing women who do not end well, with this series, ROME, and MOSES JONES (ugggh— traumatized me. A good series, but one that is too violent for its own good). She’s a convoluted character here in LUTHER, as his estranged wife she is in many ways more damaging to Luther, by far (in her hot/cold nature), than any of the monsters he has to face. She doesn’t set out to be cruel, though there is a bit of that there, but mostly it’s more a half hearted indifference, which is all the more crushing. It’s another strong performance by Indira Varma.

But the 2nd actress I want to give praise to, and the one I really wrote this post to mention, starred in only one episode of Luther, but left an indelible impression. I’m speaking of Nicola Walker, who stars in episode 4′s tale of a purse fetish serial killer. The salacious and slightly silly description of the killer, doesn’t really do justice to the uneasiness of the episode, or the wrenching, and episode making performance of Nicola Walker.

Following seeing her on LUTHER, I caught her earlier work on SPOOKS, and in that she was equally… brilliant. She brings a very unique presence to the screen, something thoughtful, and considered, and deeply heartfelt, she is so… there. In a world where so many people are shutdown, from themselves and others, there is something so rich and full and impassioned and human about her in the noblest most caring definition of that word. She’s not the ravishing beauty of say Indira Varma, but she has something that can only be called… more. Something within, a stillness, a sense of depth, something both furtive and fathomless, fragility married to something slightly frightening, her intensity, kept subdued… just out of sight, something haunting.

To put not too fine a point on it… I adore this actress’s presence, her performances, her ability to channel humanity– definitive, in a world that is anything but… humane.

So yeah that’s the refresher on LUTHER, and a couple actresses who deserved mention. I’ll post on season 2 soon.

Luther

Luther: Season 2

[Season 2 Review: Contains Spoilers]

Addendum: I just watched season 2 of LUTHER, if you can call 4 episodes a season. It’s utter rubbish!

Well, why don’t I tell you how I really feel? :)

The main problem with season 2 is it veers sharply to the irrational, and soulless, and more than just a little bit trite and tired.

Trite uninteresting villains, once smart cops inexplicably made moronic, including the lead Luther. And it makes the mistake, that the original series initially didn’t, of concentrating on the villains, and losing all the intriguing personal ties that made LUTHER interesting and captivating television in the first place.

Unlike many shows LUTHER originally understood something seemingly lost on most crime shows, the fact that criminals are a boring lot, and it’s the procedural and the dynamics of Luther’s life and the extended family around him that was the draw.

Season 2 undoes all that originality, and just makes Luther and all the cops incompetent, feckless caricatures rather than fleshed out characters. Add to this the fact that the new cast I just don’t care for, and you have a show working at a significant disadvantage; a show that plays, while you are watching it, as just so tired, and so disappointing and irresponsible, and so worthy of fast-forwarding.

The best way to describe it is that it performs as if writer Neil Cross had 4 episodes worth of story for season 1, and after that completely ran out of ideas and anything close to originality, for the ending of season 1 and the entirety of season 2 (With the exception of the very ending of Season 2, the coda if you will, I thought that was a nice scene to go out on, but everything leading up to that 5 minutes was largely rubbish, from the overlong plot of killer twins, that was nicked from a far better episode of Tom Fontana’s HOMICIDE, to the completely annoying and useless characters from Erin Gray, as the new detective, to the mother, to the killers. It’s just a lot of hackneyed and overwrought, and unforgiveably tedious characters, that just don’t remotely interest).

I have seldom seen such a sharp fall from grace from the same writer in such a short period of time. Bottom line: Season 2 of LUTHER is just plain awful, which is unfortunate for a series which in terms of performances and look and sound is laudable and had such potential.

Final Grade: D-/F.

Movie Trailer Reviews: RED TAILS and TOWER HEIST

Movie Trailer Reviews: RED TAILS and TOWER HEIST

Just saw two trailers.

I’m pretty darn good at being able to call a film’s quality, just based on the trailer. There are exceptions but more often than not, I’m pretty dead on.

So onto the trailer reviews…

TOWER HEIST… the idea initially sounded okay, Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller in a crime/comedy film directed by Brett Ratner. The trailer is awful. I mean… awful. It is a very bad sign when you can’t even make a 2 minute trailer funny or interesting.

Brett Ratner hasn’t directed a feature film since 2006′s X-MEN:LAST STAND, which unlike some, I liked. However, I didn’t like his previous stabs at funny… such as RUSH HOUR, and TOWER HEIST looks to follow in the same plodding, unfunny footsteps.

Ben Stiller’s last film was the absolutely atrocious LITTLE FOCKERS. A film that was so bad it was painful to watch. As funny as an abortion, and TOWER HEIST seems to be in that mold.

And last but not least, Eddie Murphy. I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan, but seeing him trying to do the same routine he was doing 30 years ago, is just pathetically sad. And the fault, with a cursory listen, has to fall on the 4 ‘writers’ that put their name to this mess.

All in all, TOWER HEIST is the worst trailer I’ve seen in a long, long time.

2nd trailer is for RED TAILS. Going into it I have a few problems:

1- I’m not a fan of Terrance Howard or Cuba Gooding Jr

2- I think the title (which I understand is a nickname for the flyers) does not work as a film title, and is boring and unimaginative and a detriment to the film at best, much better would be a title like BY THE DAWN’S EARLY NIGHT (heh, heh, just thought that up, I quite like it). It’s just another example of marketing sabotaging films that deal with heroic characters of color. Ala the title of HANCOCK.

Those negatives noted, it has some strong positives.

Most notably that it is written by John Ridley, who is one of the most talented pulp writers since Chester Himes and Jim Thompson. I’m not always crazy about his politics, but he’s a fantastic writer, and every film that he has been the screen writer for (UTURN [based on his fantastic novel], THREE KINGS, and COLD AROUND THE HEART) I consider absolutely brilliant. This will be his first screenplay in almost a decade.

Also, It’s directed by first time feature-film director Anthony Hemingway. This is potentially a negative, but he has some solid TV directing experience, and the trailer looks good. Exciting really.

I’m not really sold on any of the casting, and as stated I think Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding as the ‘stars’ are going to be the main hurdles for me, I would much rather see actors such as Idris Elba (LUTHER, ULTRAVIOLET, THE WIRE, TAKERS, OBSESSED, THOR)or Michael Jai White (of BLOOD AND BONE and BLACK DYNAMITE) or Eamonn Walker (of KINGS, BLOOD AND BONE) or Taye Diggs (DAY BREAK) helming this film. But it does have a couple interesting actors, namely Andre Royo as well as Bryan Cranston and Lee Tergesen.

So I’d like a name change on this film before its January 2012 release, but that (and my misgivings) aside, I’ll give it my support when it hits theaters.

So a thumbs down for TOWER HEIST and tentative thumbs up for RED TAILS.

Purchase any of the following recommended items using the links below and help support this blog. Thanks:

U Turn

Three Kings [Blu-ray]

Cold Around the Heart

Blood & Bone

Luther

Day Break – The Complete Series (See all Mystery & Suspense Thrillers)

Black Dynamite (See all Crime Movies & TV)

MOVIE REVIEW! THOR IMAX 3D… The Verdict is…..????

Well the long awaited THOR movie is finally exploding across screens everywhere, and as I mentioned in my previous posts a lot hinged on this film, not least of which is a turnaround in a string of commercial disappointments for director Kenneth Branagh.

Well having just come back from seeing THOR in IMAX 3D… my verdict….??

It’s good, I enjoyed myself. It’s nicely paced, surprisingly smart film that also hit all the notes and plot points to shut-up people who were complaining about a multi-cultural cast, particularly Idris Elba (who always brings it), for pretty much all the story reasons I surmised.

So I was expecting it be action packed, but not necessarily as inventive, and even touching as it was.

Now that said, it does perhaps not quite meet the Juggernaut action expectations built up, but a solid story and performances, make up for that.

Kenneth Branagh handling perhaps the most difficult of all comic adaptations, exceptionally well, finding that difficult balance between regal and relate-able.

THOR even in the comic books, is extremely hard to a/get right and b/command a storyline. Instead working best as the heavy gun of the Avengers, then as a solo character. So for Branagh to steer this ship safely into movie theater shores, is no small accomplishment.

That said the ending felt a bit anti-climatic, the most effective action is clearly in the early portions of the movie. But that aside, the story beats, the emotional intensity, the Shakespearean like levels of tragedy and sacrifice, Branagh hits well. Hits hard enough… to satisfy.

Now leaving the movie proper to discuss the projection of the movie. I saw this in IMAX 3D, paying rather than the normal $8 matinée price, an exorbitant $14.50 for ‘IMAX 3D’. A $6.50 surcharge.

Before seeing this movie I couldn’t get any reviews to really discuss the 3D and if it was worth it. I’ve seen my share of IMAX 3D movies, real ones and the retrofitted AMC ones, and the ones not shot in 3D but simply post-processed, ie THOR.

Outside of a real IMAX THEATER (5 to 8 stories high, viewable at better science centers throughout the world), the best I’ve seen at an AMC IMAX theater (a midget IMAX) is of course AVATAR. Cameron pushing the technology to create 3D that actually works in a cine-plex.

But beyond AVATAR on IMAX 3D, most other 3D films suffer in comparison. THOR is no exception, it looks okay in 3D, but closer to the inferior Sony backed REALD 3D process, then real IMAX 3D. Sony’s inferior REALD 3D, gives a sense of looking into the screen, but it’s unable to give a real sense of the screen coming forward into real space, your space. This is what true IMAX 3D does so well. Not only offering depth, looking into something, but immersion, the film intruding and surrounding your real space.

So THOR IN IMAX 3D, looks okay, it just isn’t great. It isn’t IMAX 3D, and therefore is not worth the $6.50 surcharge. I personally think 3D movies should be the same price as 2D movies, but particularly if you’re going to charge that premium, the 3D experience should be breathtaking, and THOR IN IMAX 3D is just okay. The 3D almost transparent, and therefore, what’s the point.

So all in all if you can see this in 3D for no price increase, go for it. Otherwise avoid and stick to 2D on a big screen, you won’t be missing anything. And may actually gain something in brightness of picture.

3D is a nice thing for the occasional viewing, for the gee whiz factor, but it is no replacement for a really beautiful rendered and composed 2D film.

Just as HDTV for all its praise is not, nor never will be the equal of 35mm film, much less 70mm film.

HDTV is like DVD, a bastard compression medium, used to compress film into something viewable into the consumer confines of a tv and a living room, rather than the commercial standard of a movie screen and theater. Similar, but make no mistake, inferior, to true film.

And whereas a 70mm true IMAX 3D movie is in no way inferior to standard 70mm film, it is not appropriate for everything.

Cinema is a language.

And just as Black and White film can speak in a way color film can’t, and why I’m a huge Film Noir fan, 2D is also a distinct cinematic language, and sometimes that flat plane is the thing.

Not being in the shot, but observing the shot, is the thing.

Just as you can do THE THIRD MAN in color, but you would lose an ineffable part of the tone by so doing, that’s the same way that David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in 70mm, saying things about distance and alienation, would be lost translated into the “in-your-face” histrionics of IMAX 3D.

I like 3D in all its forms, to differing degrees, but even in its best forms I understand it’s a gimmick, that should not be overused.

3D ultimately is about lying to your brain, it’s about forcing a lie onto your brain, that this thing in front of you on the screen has as much depth and reality as the person sitting beside you or the world outside the theater.

In moderation it’s a fun gimmick.

But with this recent push to 3D TVs, you risk making it something else. You risk making the exception of lying to your brain, the rule, and what long term effects this can have, particularly on children’s development, growing up exposed constantly to this new medium, what challenge or aberration to their motor skills, and coordination, and socialization?, are questions that in the rush toward a new revenue stream… too many are ignoring.

Some of these 3D TVs are coming with warnings. You should heed them, and leave the 3D in the theater. My gut reaction? Stick to 2D for the home. At least till all the bugs are shaken out.

Likewise troubling, is the Sony push to digitize cinemas, as it has nothing to do with the best picture quality and everything to do with control and maximizing profit streams. The theaters forced to go this route will see their profit margins dwindle, and find themselves ever more at the mercy of the studios. And true 70mm and 35 mm theaters will go the way of the dodo, becoming a high priced specialty item for the few to seek out.

Here ends the public service announcement. :). Back to our THOR review.

Here on out I’ll be avoiding all 3D movies, unless a/specifically shot in IMAX 3D, with the Cameron cameras, or b/if it’s something especially gimmicky and is the same price as a regular film.

So given this criteria Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS III, which meets criteria # 1, will be the next 3D flick I check out. Unlike some people, I’m still quite enamored of Michael Bay’s visuals and always have fun at his movies. So if any movie can visually give Cameron’s AVATAR a battle, it may be Bay’s TRANSFORMERS.

So getting back to THOR, a very good if not great movie, that is poised to be the critical and commercial hit that Kenneth Branagh was definitely needing. And stay past the credits for the easter egg, if so inclined. Nothing earth shattering, but it’s fun that Marvel continues to do this universe building. Giving people a reason to sit through the credits.

Grade is a strong B/B+.

DVD FACEOFF Review: Idris Elba’s LUTHER vs 55 DEGREES NORTH

I just watched the 1st season of the BBC show LUTHER, and I have to admit to addictively enjoying it for the great majority of its run.

It is very unusual for me to review a series and go into specifics, because I avoid such reviews myself. I don’t like spoilers, I like to go into something fresh. All I need to know is if you liked something or not, and general reasons why, I don’t need a play by play.

Unfortunately LUTHER is one of those rare shows that requires more detail, than I typically like to give when reviewing a show. This detail necessary in order to relate accurately my feelings on the show’s 1st season.

I will attempt to be as general as possible, but there are spoilers below. So for those looking to avoid all spoilers and just get the gist of my feel on this show, just jump to the last paragraph.

The first thing that has to be said is, I think with a lesser actor in the lead role the show would have sunk under its weight of…excess. Its extremes pushing it dangerously close toward parody and the farcical. Like one actor states when describing the show, ‘it’s not realism, it’s arched to the point of theatrics’, and needs especially capable actors to ground this.

And they pull that off spectacularly for most of the episodes that make up season 1 of LUTHER.

The high point of course being the lead. Idris Elba is one of the best and most commanding actors of his generation, and none of those gifts are wasted in this series, about a London Inspector Detective, a monster hunter at a cross-roads. He brings a nuanced strength and believability to a role, that as stated pivots wildly between the understated and the monstrous.

The episodes ramping up till # 5 which is the most outrageous episode of the run, an amazing hour of television, packing more delirious ups and downs then in a typical season of most shows, or in most 2 hour movies for that matter.

Part of the jaw dropping nature of it, is the irrational actions of a main character, who to cover up a minor crime, compounds it with a blood bath that makes no sense. So part of the strength of that episode is its nonsensical nature, the audience can’t keep up because it is irrational.

Episode 5 is clearly influenced by the 1st season of 24, so those holding this up as British television’s originality over American television, would be incorrect. But while not original, the twist and turns of LUTHER are unexpected and for the most part well done.

However it doesn’t work quite as well here as in 24, because that betrayal, that Greek tragedy reveal comes out of nowhere here, and is not really supported in anything covered in the brief season of LUTHER. So everything rests on the final episode to give some perspective to the lunacy of episode 5, and that simply does not happen.

The last episode, episode 6, the season conclusion, instead leaves a taste of ashes in my mouth. The show LUTHER perhaps being more appropriately named after a different historical and Literary figure, Job. Since the trials of Job are what they put Idris Elba’s character through.

If anything the season ender is too steeped in such broad melodrama and theatrics, and strains suspension of disbelief too far. I’m willing to meet a show half way, but this episode went off the rails in terms of poor justifications and even poorer character actions/decisions.

This final episode steeped in what can be called, I think accurately, moronic actions from all involved, including Luther, especially the supposed brilliant Luther. As one character states “you’re not acting in a reasonable way’ and that’s the mantra for the last two episodes of LUTHER for all the characters. They are all written as caricatures of people, rather than real 3 dimensional personalities, their actions coming off as inane and contrived, to steamroll viewers to the series protracted and unsatisfying conclusion.

For a show that prides itself on being innovative, the finale is largely a very idiotic and moronic episode,that does not do justice to what has come before. The plotting is unlikely and haphazard at best, and the cliffhanger denouement… lacking.

It is insultingly stupid to be blunt. Here we have a character supposedly one of the best detectives and his female ally, one of the most brilliant sociopaths, and the best plan they could come up with, to trap the end game villain, is arranging a meeting in full view of snipers, and just hoping on absolute luck to escape without being shot or taken into custody by police!?. Really? That’s your master plan? It is moronic.

And the purpose of this suicide mission? To allow a civilian, someone who has no interest in believing the protagonist’s protestations of innocence to help save the day? And the civilian not only buys it but agrees to commit a felony. Agrees to walk into police headquarters, sneak unnoticed into the police locker room, break into a locker and find diamonds (Diamonds that somehow Luther magically guesses the location of. Guessing exactly where the villain is keeping them. Really??? Talk about plot contrivance), and get out without being noticed or stopped.

Really?

I do respect Neil Cross for creating this series/character, but I just think he wrote himself into a brick wall, and just couldn’t write himself out of it and ended up with a very, very flawed and contrived final episode.

I mean it is absolute dreck, if you take half a second to consider it. It is an incoherent muddied mess. And this is followed up by the third ludicrousness, plot idiocy/contrivance, of telling the bad guy about the theft before you know it has been pulled off.

Really? Come on!

Thus giving the bad guy time to try and stop the theft. And all these mistakes and suicide by cop ideas avoided, the final purpose is to lure the villain to a location so you can catch him confessing on tape??

That’s your brilliant idea???

A confession that is completely inadmissible, as the very show illustrates in episode 5, how audio recordings can be manipulated, and are worthless in and of themselves.

So the whole endgame is a tissue of faulty logic and questionable dumb luck.

And the culmination of this episode’s stupidity, and what really just annoyed me and soured me above everything else, is Luther has the upper hand on the monster that has done all this damage, and ends up talking himself out of that upper-hand and into receiving a butt whupping, that engenders him needing to be saved… again, by his homicidal female ally.

I think Neil Cross progressively writing not only the series as a whole, but his lead character specifically, less convincingly with each episode.,

And to add to the issues, let’s ignore little common sense things that would have made more… well sense, in proving the protagonist’s innocence and the other person’s guilt; cell phone records, and geo-location of cell phone signals just to name one option.

As the show takes pains to point out, this is a monitored, near Orwellian 21st century Britain, where everything is seen, and everything recorded. These are 21st century detectives. So if they couldn’t pull actual recordings of crucial conversations between Luther and the Killer, at least the who, when , where of these calls is something they can pull. Luther’s cell phone was in use miles away at the time of the death he’s accused of . And a triangulation of other cell records would probably prove where the real criminal was at the time of all three unsolved murders of Episode #5. Thus giving the besieged protagonist reasonable doubt if nothing else, to help at least sway his Chief Detective to his side.

Just simple common sense stuff like that is ignored in favor of hysterical and nonsensical plot contrivances. And obviously this didn’t bother some, as the first season was well received, but as I stated… for me the season finale left the taste of ashes in my mouth.

And obsessing on that ending, (Spoilers)Comeon he should have at least shot the villain in the knees to shut him up if nothing else, rather than ending up punked on the wrong end of a knife. I hate these filmic cliches of turning your back on the villain or letting down your guard etc. I don’t find it gripping or good writing, I find it boring and to be cliched, hack writing.

That kind of writing comes off as an insult to my intelligence, and just ended up unduly sullying a show, that for most of the season I was quite behind.

There’s supposedly a 2nd season now available, and I’m lukewarm on investing the time to see it, but I will. Mostly to see if series creator Neil Cross imbues that with less of the lunacy and idiocy that marred for me the culmination of season 1, and can recapture the strengths of series 1.

So all that said I do recommend Season 1 of LUTHER, unsatisfying end acknowledged, the first 5 episodes of season 1 are worth the price of admission.

And to be fair I’m only this disappointed in the ending, because of how impressed I was with the shows buildup, highlighted by great cinematography, excellent soundtrack, impressive montage sequences (I love the opening credit sequence and the theme song), and of course for the most part… stellar performances and direction. Final Grade: B.

*****

And if you like LUTHER I would direct you to a similar, but I feel superior BBC police procedural, the little seen but riveting 55 DEGREES NORTH.

A show that ran for a brief two seasons, it eschews the brutal and tortured extremes of LUTHER, to instead be a lowkey tale, of a small English countryside police force.

Don Gilet and the striking Dervla Kirwan (that’s a lot of woman! :) Please excuse that bit of sexism, but easy on the eyes… she is :) ), headlining a show that is some odd mating of Moonlighting meets Homicide meets Diagnosis Murder, while being quite a unique and original take on a police procedural.

No serial killers here, these are more prosaic crimes, but the show, in an age of grim and gritty, is all the more welcome for that light touch. And the final episode ties everything up with quite an enjoyable ending. 55 DEGRESS NORTH
comes highly recommended. The full show is available on DVD. B+/A-.

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Kenneth Branagh or Marvel Studios Thor and Black Norse Gods!


Mavel Studios 2011 feature THOR, will be the latest film from director Kenneth Branagh, following up his 2007 film SLEUTH. SLEUTH met with uneven reviews at best, generally considered to suffer in comparison to the original.

I haven’t seen Branagh’s SLEUTH, and indeed have not followed a film by Kenneth Branagh since his 1996 film HAMLET. I consider Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 debut film, HENRY THE V, to be an undisputed masterpiece. It’s one of those rare debuts that is so good, that the rest of a filmmakers filmography can, if he is not careful, suffer in comparison.

It is a fate that befalls many a great director:

Orson Welles spent all his life in the shadow of the success of his first film, CITIZEN KANE.

Tobe Hooper has never quite crafted anything to rival, much less exceed the filmic power of his first film 1974′s TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

Michael Bay who made himself a Hollywood Power, on the strength of the blockbuster success of his first film, 1995′s BAD BOYS, but arguably (while his films get bigger) he hasn’t yet made one better, than that early buddy film.

And that brings us back to Branagh. Following up his debut with DEAD AGAIN (Branagh’s most financially successful film to date. Nearly tripling its 15million Dollar budget, with its US take alone), PETER’S FRIENDS, and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (A theatrical hit, doubling its budget in US sales alone), all good films, but all paling in critical comparison to his first film, and then releasing his first unquestioned financial and critical failure in 1994′s FRANKENSTEIN (which in the years since has managed to recoup its cost in Worldwide sales).

FRANKENSTEIN is the kind of film that can easily end careers, however Branagh, being Branagh, follows it up with a beloved comedy A MIDWINTER’S TALE and his best film since his debut, the magnificent, audacious 4 hour magnum opus HAMLET.

Long before LORD OF THE RINGS sold America on extended length films, in 1996 Branagh, backed by three brave production companies (The now defunct Turner Pictures and Fishmonger Films, and the still swinging Castle Rock Entertainment) released this stunning production on an unprepared America (Distributed by Sony Films and Columbia Pictures) . It did Katherine Hepburn type business (critically acclaimed, but too high-faluting for middle America, the theaters that did show it, showing it in a butchered 150min print), which is to say it lost money theatrically.

However on DVD the film would gain a new life, and continues to be considered not just one of the most ambitious Shakespearean productions ever staged, but one of the best. You can make a strong argument for HAMLET being Branagh’s best film. And I think the more often you watch it, the better it gets. Though personally for me, HENRY THE V is the stronger film. Part of it being, it’s no fat on it, it’s gripping from beginning to end. That said HAMLET is a brilliant and strong film, and is deserving of all accolades, and is a very close 2nd.

It is obvious Branagh put his heart and soul into this film, and its theatrical failure was a clear disappointment and setback to the director, as he would not make another film for 4 years, the 2000 film LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST. By all accounts a good film, but on a 13million dollar budget, the film would receive virtually no distribution, only being released in less than 200 screens in the UK, and only TWO SCREENS in the USA. Needless to say the film was a financial disaster.

Following this Branagh would not make another film for six years, 2006 ‘s AS YOU LIKE IT for HBO Films, and 2006′s THE MAGIC FLUTE (a French/Uk production, Branagh’s most expensive film to that time, at a reported 27 Million Dollars) both films, virtually unknown in the US, generating little theatrical business. Though both films, as well as LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST I’m in the process of acquiring the DVDs to, and viewing, as they all sound compelling.

So That brings us to 2007′s SLEUTH. Five different production companies, including Sony, an undisclosed budget, and Branagh coming off a string of Eight theatrical misses, and a piecemeal distribution schedule, the film did not have hit written over it, and unfortunately it wasn’t. Managing to gross only a sickly $343,000 in the US. And considering the actors involved the budget was most likely between 18 and 30 million dollars, the loss can only be called… staggering. Whatever its actual budget it’s clear the film was yet another crushing theatrical failure, Branagh’s 9th in a row.

With a budget of $150,000,000 Dollars Marvel Studios’ THOR is yet another of their very expensive super-hero franchise films, and kenneth Branagh has been chosen to helm it.

To date Marvel Studios, since taking over production in-house at the end of 2007 (with David Maisel as Chairman and Kevin Feige as Head of Production) , has been hitting all homeruns, starting with 2008′s Iron Man which grossed $319 Million domestically, followed by HULK in the same year, it was a powerful and successful one-two punch. Followed in 2010 by the equally successful IRON MAN II. 2011 year sees the release of the latest Blockbuster films from Marvel Studios: THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA. At budgets of a $150 Million and a $140 Million respectively, no one is going to confuse these with cheap movies. And it is clear THOR is the one they are banking on , hoping to be this year’s IRON MAN.

Marvel’s choice of directors for both films is quite interesting.

Branagh for THOR and Joe Johnston for CAPTAIN AMERICA.

Their choice of directors from day one has been unusual to say the least. Their choice of Jon Favreau to helm their first film, a huge expensive action blockbuster, IRON MAN, when Favreau’s filmography didn’t hint at the background to pull it off, had many people seeing a repeat of Tim Story and The Fantastic Four films (Which are better films than Story is given credit for, the issues being not directorial, but script and production). However Favreau steers the ship, creating one of the best films of the year, and duplicating his success with 2010s IRON MAN II. So not sure what made someone think Favreau could do the job, but they were correct. Or was it just a case of economics? Was Favreau the right price? Much like Branagh for THOR and Joe Johnston for CAPTAIN AMERICA, Favreau was coming off of a movie that was a theatrical disappointment.

While I personally was a huge fan of Joe Johnston’s WOLFMAN, it was a theatrical failure.

Could Marvel be selecting directors that have fallen on hard times, coming off theatrical failures, directors they can control? Directors that have name recognition among fans for films done early in their career, but have not been successful of late. This extends to Joss Whedon, that both the big screen and small screen, have been not exactly favorable to in recent years.

This way the studio gets a name director, but without the prima-donna stance that is typically the director’s right. An auteur as hired gun.

The only exception to this being Louis Leterrier, director of 2008′s Hulk, unofficially co-written and co-directed by Edward Norton. Leterrier coming to the table with a short filmography, but a filmography of films that make money domestically. Unfortunately THE HULK, which I found to be a great film due to what Norton and Leterrier brought to it, and tried to bring to it (the conflict between director/star and studio being well known), didn’t recoup its $150000000 cost domestically. But I see this as less supporting Marvel’s producer heavy style, and more indicating the flaws of handicapping your director/star.

I’m still waiting to see THE HULK director’s cut.

The least interesting part of the Hulk film was the 30 minute CGI fight at the end. What was interesting about that film was Ed Norton’s Bruce Banner, the journey he took that character on. So the fact that Marvel Studios is quick to flex their producer muscles, and throw actors under the bus they deem difficult, ignores the fact that those actors may be difficult, beyond just monetary reasons (we’re not talking Terrence Howard here) but because they invest themselves in those characters, and they really deeply care. And in the case of Ed Norton, they may be completely right about how that character should be played.

Kevin Feige came out with a pretty scummy press release about Ed Norton back in 2010, trying to label him a troublemaker, and justify the studio’s, I feel, bad decision to replace him. Kevin later on stating they wanted basically a weaselly, simplistic Bruce Banner, who basically will just be there as a place holder for their CGI nonsense. In essense playing up what didn’t work about the previous two Hulk films, which was the Hulk, and discarding the thing that did, which was the heroism and humanity Ed Norton imbued the character of Bruce Banner with.

It is a bad decision by Kevin Feige and a bad decision on Marvel Studios part, and shows the first chink in their armor, the chink being a mentality of treating directors and actors as commodities that should obey, rather than as collaborators that should care. It’s a policy of hubris, that if not watched, will begin to chip away at the studios… successes.

Already in IRON MAN II you begin to hear the grumbling, and the diminishing returns of just special effects. Of just CGI. The film cost more than IRON MAN I and made less. A movie needs a heart. That means actors of the level of Ed Norton, who care enough to tell you when you can do better. And you need a head of production, who is not so full of himself, that he is actually capable of listening, and letting the director do what he is paid to do, which is make the decisions on set, and make the best film he possibly can.

Which, again, brings us back to Branagh.

I do think it was a great idea, recent films notwithstanding, to hire Kenneth Branagh for the THOR film.

For my money they could not have chosen a better director to get people excited about this film. Branagh’s name, and his Shakespearean Pedigree, brings an air of legitimacy, that will attract people with no interest in a comic movie. People who want more from their films than CG/Video game action.

I think Branagh can deliver that.

And the cast is beyond reproach. I too was a bit up in arms by the choice of Idris Elba as a Norse God. Nothing to do with his acting, it’s understood that Idris Elba is one of the best actors of his generation, but there was some, justifiable question, about a Black guy playing a Norse God.

But I’ve seen the trailer, and it’s not just Idris, there are Asian characters as well, they are going for a whole multi-cutural feel, and I had a chance to think a bit, and especially weighed against some extremely stupid, moronic comments I read online, I can see the casting making sense.

Some less than enlightened individual (I won’t credit him, because he is undeserving of credit) posted the following (his mistakes of spelling left in), regarding Kenneth Branagh and Thor:

“if he really loved the character and world of thor he wouldnt have casted Idris Elba as Heimdall. and dont give me all this racist crap everyone here always does. Heimdall is white, the actor should be white, Norwegians are white, do you know what ancient Norwegians called black people? NOTHING because they didnt know they [frick]ING EXISTED! so go bring on your hate “

The problem with the above is it is written by someone who sees but poorly. But it helped, by its moronic and belligerent stance, clarify the problem I initially had with Idris’ casting. Yes Norwegians are white, and yes Norwegians were ignorant of Black people. But the film is not about Norwegians, it is about the Gods they worshiped.

I was hung up on this idea that Gods are extensions of the men that worship them. In short we make them up, so they should look like those who worship them.

But here in this fiction, Gods are real tangible things. Which means they are not extensions of the limitations of men, therefore our definitions of them, encompass them but poorly. And let us assume Gods are not as limited or ignorant as men. Let us assume the Gods the Norwegians prayed to, were real gods, of real colors, and that they were not ignorant. That they were the real spacefaring fact, behind the Norwegians flawed and biased fantasy, and the Norwegians being only human made in their own image… those who were not of their image.

Same way even today Hollywood portrays Nubian Queens with Elizabeth Taylor, or Black Scouts with John Wayne. Or for that matter the way churches still propogate the idea of a white Jesus Christ, of the straight hair and the blue eye, which goes contrary to his description in the bible. So let us assume the ancient Norwegians were as close-minded when recounting their tales of Gods and heroes as modern day man. Were as willing to whitewash the truth.

Now I’m saying all this without having read the script, or having seen anything more than the trailer, but just throwing out some ways the casting of Asiatics and Nubians could work.

So yeah, I can totally see that these Gods adopted by the ancient Norwegians, were not then, nor now, Norwegian. They were Gods, or Advanced Aliens ( The Trailer looks like they may be going for that), they don’t have Norwegian names, Norwegians adopted their names. and as such the multicutural cast works fine.

So if you go into the movie, with that perspective, it works fine. But I can definitely see how initially that casting, sans anytype of explanation like what I just gave you, could cause issues.

I personally have a bit of an issue, everytime I see a White person playing an Ancient Egyptian/Nubian. And I would have similar issues seeing a Black person playing a historical Norwegian. However if we accept my previous hypothesis that the Gods (Aliens) are not the men, and the Men are not the Gods, you know a nifty scifi explanation, then I can work with it.

Going back to Elba for a second and the heat he has been taking; he’s an actor, it is not his job to justify the roles he chooses to accept, it is his job to do those roles credit. And Elba has made a career of doing that job well.

So any questions, concerns shouldn’t be directed at him in the first place, but the filmmakers. And I’m confused why Elba is the only one getting heat. As I pointed out, he is not the only actor of color cast in this film as a ‘Norse’ God, however he’s the only actor to get any grief about it. So I would say… back off. Those issues need to be taken up with the producers, not the actors.

Anyhow, Marvel Studios, Branagh, I gave you guys a way to make this casting right for the complainers. You can put my check in the mail. :)

Okay I hope I’ve put that argument to rest.

I am looking forward to the THOR movie. Based on the trailer, and Branagh’s track record with the dramatic and Shakespearean I think it will be a good film, and I definitely think it will make money. At least as much as IRON MAN II. My only concern is the budget of these Marvel Studio’s films. I think with budgets of 150million and 200million, you have to do a lot more to make a sizeable return on that investment. I think from a business standpoint if they could bring these films in for 100million or under, it would take a lot of pressure off of needing the film to crack 300 million domestically.

Now the question is could they bring it in and still get the quality actors and directors, and special effects? Well Look at DISTRICT 9, that was done relatively affordably and it looks great. So I would think it can be done. Of course, I guess being backed by Disney these days, money is no object for Marvel Studios.

Though I tend to think extravagance, for extravagance sake, does not usually translate into great film-making. Look at TERMINATOR 3. Very expensive film at the time, pales in comparison to the first two films.

So in summation, very excited for a good THOR film, and more than that I’m excited for a strong showing from Branagh. Here’s hoping we get both.

John Luessenhop’s TAKERS Trailer


TAKERS is another trailer that comes from a relatively unknown director, but fortunately with its cast it has a lot going for it.

Idris Elba, I consider one of the best actors working, being a huge fan of his OBSESSED. From THE WIRE to ULTRAVIOLET he elevates everything he is in so was intrigued enough to give this trailer a look.

(Now all that praise about Idris Elba said, casting him as one of the Norse Gods in the upcoming THOR movie?

Really?

Only if you give me some Neil Gaiman ELEMENTALS type reason for a Norse God to be inhabiting a Nubian dude, failing that I have to agree with the Geek Syndicate guys on this particular casting.

There is no question of Elba’s talent.

There is colorblind casting, but when the ethnicity of the character, is part and parcel of the character, the history, the mythology, then colorblind casting doesn’t come into it. Just as it would be idiotic to have white guys portraying Nubian Gods, or playing Reggae– makes me laugh. Jah is a concept that no amount of braiding your hair can give you. So click on the link to hear the GS take on the casting. That said, they are completely wrong on their Samuel L. Jackson bashing. He was GREAT in IRON MAN II! :)

So yeah, I’m always glad to see Elba in a flick, but like I said… to make this casting okay, make it not a lightning rod against the film, they are going to have to write-in some type of Gaiman ELEMENTALS type reason for it. If they can do that they can make it work.

Okay back on topic…) ,

Before I get to the trailer, the poster… just poor. What the hell is up with these marketing guys. There was a time when posters were high art, as well as sought after collectibles. These days posters more often than not are just lazy.

Thankfully the trailer, has no such issues. Trailers are typically poor, good, or great. I mean you typically either get it right or you don’t.

300, STAR TREK (2010), OBSESSED, WATCHMEN these are examples of GREAT trailers.

I’ve rarely seen a trailer, that starts off in one gear and then kicks in to overdrive, that goes from good to great. TAKERS trailer goes from good to great. WoW. If the movie can live up to the trailer, I’ll be a happy camper.

Take a look! :) .

UPCOMING MOVIES 2009: OUTLANDER and Elba, Ali and Beyonce in OBSESSED

I’ve been going trailer crazy recently. Sampling trailers old and trailers new. under the “new” heading two trailers/upcoming films that have me (to differing degrees) interested are OUTLANDER and OBSESSED.
outlander_xlg
What drew my attention to OUTLANDER, beyond the premise of THE HIDDEN meets PREDATOR meets BEOWULF, is the international poster above (the US poster as usual lacks any creativity, being basically just a closeup of the stars face. Ala HANCOCK, TRAITOR, etc. Note to studios, the best way to sell an action movie, isn’t with a big face. Star or no, it just shows a staggering lack of creativity on the marketing department’s side). That said, having Jim Caviezel as your star is also a strong selling point. His work in Tony Scott’s DEJA VU opposite Denzel Washington, showed an actor who brings his A game.

So I watched the two International trailers for OUTLANDER, and it looks fun, if not exactly original. It’s heavily advertised as being from one of the producers of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but this tale of an alien predator and prey that lands among the Vikings circa 700BC, is very much the three movies I stated above (THE HIDDEN, PREDATOR and BEOWULF) mixed together. That said if director/writer Howard McCain can offer a fresh delivery and spin, the film could rise above its obvious influences to be something enjoyable.

This will be Howard McCain’s first feature film. His made for TV movie, 1998′s PERFECT PREY, was very derivative of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but did show moments of style, and you can see the growth of that style in the trailer for OUTLANDER. We’ll see if that growth extends through the movie in total.

OUTLANDER (according to their website) is getting a limited release in theaters this coming weekend, so if you’re near a major city (DC, New York, LA, etc. Full list is here.)

So you can catch it on the big screen if so inclined. For the majority of you, this should be coming to a DVD near you, shortly. Innitial feedback sounds positive, so I think it’s worth a look.
obsessed
Possibly, with the exception of THE WATCMEN, the best trailer I’ve seen so far for a flick in 2009 is OBSESSED. A thriller/drama it’s a reworking of FATAL ATTRACTION, but man that cast just has me wowed!

Idris Elba has that old-fashioned Leading man charisma, but unfortunately has not been given leading man roles. Though even in the largely supporting roles he has been relegated to, his presence brings a weight and gravity that elevates the films he’s in.

His films include: ONE LOVEonelove, SOMETIMES IN APRILsometimesinapril, WORLD OF TROUBLE (TV Pilot), DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS, THE REAPING, 28 WEEKS LATER, AMERICAN GANGSTER, THIS CHRISTMAS, THE NO 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY, ROCKNROLLA, THE HUMAN CONTRACT, THE UNBORN (Speaking of the UNBORN, exactly what is this poster selling? :). Perhaps not the most comforting of signs, when a ghost flick has to resort to an ass shot to sell the flick. Not that I’m complaining, just mentioning it. :).

unborn)

However, with the OBSESSED Idris Elba moves into leading man territory. And surrounded by stunners such as Beyonce Knowles, Ali Larter, and Christine Lahti, there aren’t many better roles… for a leading man.
obseesed2
The trailer looks fantastic. The film is directed by Steve Shill, his first feature film, but he has a lengthy resume directing episodes of some of the best television shows; and is written by David Loughery. If the film can live up to its preview, this film could be as good, if not better than the champ of homewrecking terror… FATAL ATTRACTION.

Film is produced by RAINFOREST FILMS (unfortunately their site appears to be flash only, so I won’t link to it. You guys know how I feel about FLASH only sites, it’s a definite no-no in my book. Note to rainforest, include an HTML entrance for people who don’t use FLASH for security reasons, or just in the name of being easily accessible to the widest number of people. It’s just good business sense) and distributed by Sony Screen Gems. So far no one has released a poster, but hopefully soon, and hopefully it will be good.

obsessed3
Now of course the preview could be completely misleading, and the film could be a stinker, ala Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, but I’m hoping not. And giving the track record of the cast and the director, my money is on it being great. Let’s put it this way, I’m going to be in the theater when this flick, OBSESSED opens in April 2009.