Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are Trailer

The official trailer for Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are (2009) is finally online. I've been hearing about this one for awhile and it has definitely taken them a pretty long time to get this far. It looks like it is going to be worth it though. The trailer definitely makes the movie look like it is going to be pretty cool

Download Hi Def Versions of the Trailer*: HD 480P | HD 720P | HD 1080P

I love the fact that they are using mostly practical effects for the wild things. I would have hated if they had decided to go completely computer generated characters. From what I understand they are using computer graphics to help make the facial features and movements look more realistic. That is the right way to use computer graphics though. Use practical effects whenever you can and then when necessary enhance the practical effects with computer graphics.

I am definitely looking forward to this one. The book is really amazing and even though they will probably have to pad the story quite a bit to make it a feature length movie I think they definitely picked the right director to bring this to the screen. I know a lot of people have said that they wish Tim Burton had directed the film but I think Spike Jonze is the better way to go. I think Tim Burton's style would have probably just been a tad bit dark for this movie.

*Author's Note: Special Thanks to Dave's Trailer Page for providing the links to the Hi Def trailers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let the Right One In - The subtitle controversy

I tend not to post a lot of news on my blog. I try to keep mostly to reviews and recently some trailer announcements. News isn't really my thing; there are enough blogs out there for that and I am certainly not going to be getting any major scoops. I felt the need to spread the word on this one though.

The site Icons of Fright recently posted a news article showing that the subtitles on the American DVD release of Let the Right One In (check out my review) were vastly different (and very inferior) to the subtitles that were in the theatrical release of the movie. Read the article at Icons of Fright if you want details but the new subtitles look something like this:

A few days later Digitalbits posted an article with some information from Magnet, who is distributing the DVD in the U.S. and who is responsible for the change in the subtitles. What they had to say seemed somewhat promising (you can read the article here). They decided that they would start manufacturing the discs with the theatrical subtitles and that the new DVDs would be marked as having the theatrical subtitles so fans of the film will be able to tell the difference when purchasing the DVD.

So, it sounds like the studio listened to the fans and did the right thing. However, what about the people that have already purchased the DVD? Well, it seems that Magnet will be leaving them out in the cold. They will not be doing any sort of exchange program so if you bought the DVD already then you are stuck with the poor subtitles. Personally I think that is pretty crappy of them. Changing to such dumbed-down subtitles for the DVD release was a bad move and they should be doing everything in their power to correct this.

I was lucky enough that I hadn't bought this yet because I was holding out until I got a Blu-ray player before purchasing this one. However, that brings us to one other issue this has raised. When I do purchase this I am going to have to go to a Brick and Mortar store because if I buy it online (where I would most likely be able to get it cheaper) I would have no way of knowing which version of the subtitles I would be getting.

Magnet, do the right thing. Do a recall. This never should have happened in the first place.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chan-wook Park's Thirst Trailer

In my opinion Korean director Chan-wook Park is probably one of the most creative film makers working today. I absolutely loved his "Revenge Trilogy" of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. I thought J.S.A. and I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK we both pretty damn good. They weren't up to the same level as the Revenge Trilogy but they were definitely creative in their own right. So I am most definitely always looking foward to seeing what Park is up to next. It seems that his next movie will be a vampire film called Thirst. The trailer is not in English but it is still looks very interesting.

The film stars Kang-ho Song, who was great in The Host (2006), as a priest who becomes a vampire because of a failed medical experiment. That sounds a bit strange but in the hands of Chan-wook Park it should be pretty awesome. The trailer definitely doesn't make it seem like your average vampire movie but that is probably a good thing. I am sure Park will give us a movie that is a very creative twist on the genre.

Now I don't know when or even if this will get a release in the states. I actually had to go to a Korean Film Festival in D.C. to see I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK. If all else fails and it doesn't get some kind of regular release here I am hoping that I will at least be able to see it like that. Maybe it will get a wider release though as it seems like something that may have a bit more box office potential then something like I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK.

Also, I must give thanks to Filmstalker for bringing this trailer to my attention.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Watchmen (2009) - Zack Snyder

Watchmen (2009)
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: David Hayter (Screenplay), Alex Tse (Screenplay), Dave Gibbons (Graphic Novel Illustrator), Alan Moore - Uncredited (Graphic Novel)
Starring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer, Stephen McHattie

It is no secret to anyone that knows me that I am not a fan of Zack Snyder's work. I did not really care for 300 (read my review here) or his take on Dawn of the Dead (read my review here). When I heard that he was going to be directing Watchmen (2009) I was not happy. Before seeing the film I was very much expecting to write a very scathing review about how Snyder had butchered the graphic novel and should be banished from making movies and possibly even earth itself. Well... I am man enough to admit when I am wrong.

In the past I have said that in some instances the best thing a director can do is just step back and let your actors tell the story. In this case I think the best thing Zack Snyder could do is step back and let Alan Moore's work tell the story. For the most part Zack Snyder does this. He manages to follow Moore's work enough that the story speaks for itself and actually turns into a pretty good movie. He also managed to do a pretty good job of figuring out what to take out and what to leave in. There were a few missteps here and there throughout the film but not enough to completely ruin it.

In my opinion the fights scenes were a little to slick and flashy to exist in the world of Watchmen. I was hoping for something a little less choreographed and a little more gritty. When I first saw how smooth and perfect the fight scenes were I thought the film was in danger of becoming the very thing that Moore was trying to satirize with his work. Fortunately I really only had this problem with the fight scenes in the film and not the rest of the film itself.

I honestly think my biggest complaint about the film was the soundtrack. That isn't to say that the Snyder chose songs that didn't fit the movie, he just didn't incorporate them into the film well. A good soundtrack should compliment what is going on in the film. The soundtrack of Watchmen seemed to overpower the film though. When a song started in the film it seemed less like a song accompanying a movie and more like a music video. Overall I think the soundtrack just should have been a little more subdued. For the most part the song choices were fine, just let them work in the background and don't use them to completely overshadow everything else. They got kind of distracting and in my opinion took a bit away from the film.

In my opinion the original Watchmen graphic novel is a story that rests on the back of the characters. One of the things that worried me was that in Snyder's previous work he really didn't seem to do a good job creating interesting characters. If the characters in this movie weren't interesting enough to carry the story then the movie would fail but because Snyder actually took a step back and let the work speak for itself the characters actually managed to come through and help the story move along. The characters for the most part were very fleshed out and three dimensional and I actually was able to sympathize with them.

A lot of the credit to how well fleshed out the characters were probably needs to go to the actors though. For the most part the actors in the film were really good. Jackie Earle Haley's portrayal of Rorshach was probably the highlight though even if his voice was just tiny bit to gravelly, it worked though. Everyone else for the most part was really good as well. I think the only real misstep in the acting was Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II. I don't think she was as bad as some people have said but she wasn't as good as some of the other actors in the film.

Now onto the part of the film that seems to be the most polarizing for fans of the graphic novel. Did the choice to exclude the giant squid work in the film? If you don't know what I mean by that then go ahead and read the graphic novel because I am not going to spoil it for you. I am on the side that says that the exclusion of the giant squid didn't bother me one bit and I think it actually worked pretty well in the film. What it comes down to is this; some things work better on the page then they do on the screen and this is one of those things. The giant squid worked very well in the graphic novel but would have come across as very silly in the film. In my opinion a good adaptation of a book is not necesarily one that tells the story word for word but one that sticks to the ideas and the tone presented in the book. I think the replacement of the squid story line stuck to the original intent of the graphic novel even though it was not exactly what happened in the graphic novel.

Overall I actually enjoyed the film a lot more then I expected to. It was well paced and managed to tell the story of the Watchmen very faithfully. The graphic novel and the movie are definitely different beasts and the movie does leave a lot of the story out but it manages to still be a good movie. The film managed to keep my interest throughout even with a two hour and forty minute run time. While there were a few missteps I have no major problems with the film. I still can't say that I am a fan of Snyder's work but he did manage to do a good job telling this story. It is not something that I feel the need to rush out and see again but I may check it out again eventually when it is out on DVD.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control Trailer

I have been a huge Jim Jarmusch fan for a number of years so whenever he makes a new movie I tend to get very excited. Because there are always a number of years between the releases of his movies I tend not to always know when a new one is coming. I had heard a few things hear and there about The Limits of Control but I really didn't know much about it or when it would be out. Well it looks like we have a trailer now and according to IMDB the film will get its limited release on May 22.

Download Hi Def Versions of the Trailer*: HD 480P | HD 720P | HD 1080P

The trailer doesn't seem to give a whole lot away but it does look like it will be a pretty cool movie. The synopsis on IMDB seems to only give a very brief description; "The story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job." That doesn't really say much but in the hands of Jim Jarmusch it should be very interesting. It also seems to have an excellent cast. You certainly can't go wrong with a Jim Jarmusch movie starring Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Gael García Bernal, and John Hurt. Isaach De Bankolé isn't exactly a big name or anything but he's been pretty good in anything I have seen him in before and he looks to be pretty interesting in this.

One of the things I love about living so close to Washington D.C. is that it usually gives me a chance to see the limited releases of films like this. I am highly looking forward to seeing this one now. While some of his movies are better then other, Jim Jarmusch has never managed to disappoint me and I am willing to bet that this will be no exception.

*Author's Note: Special Thanks to Dave's Trailer Page for providing the links to the Hi Def trailers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Friday the 13th (2009) - Marcus Nispel

Friday the 13th (2009)
Director: Marcus Nispel
Writers: Damian Shannon (Screenplay & Story), Mark Swift (Screenplay & Story), Mark Wheaton (Story), Victor Miller (Characters)
Starring: Derek Mears, Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Nana Visitor

As much as I normally do not like remakes, when I first heard that they would be rebooting the Friday the 13th franchise I was not completely opposed to the idea. Jason Voorhees has always been one of my favorite slasher movie icons but after sending him to space there wasn't exactly anywhere left for the series to go. I thought it might be interesting to see where a reboot of the series would go and it would definitely be nice to see Jason back at Camp Crystal Lake instead of in Manhattan on in space.

A reboot of the franchise really could have helped revive the series and make Jason Voorhees scary again. Friday the 13th (2009) managed to fail on just about every level though. This was not the Jason that I loved from the early Friday the 13th films. It seemed as if they took the somewhat hokey Jason from the later movies and tried to put him into one of the more serious early movies and it just didn't work.

One of the biggest problems that I had with the Jason in this movie is that there was no suspense or build up before Jason killed. In the early films a lot of the tension would come from watching Jason stalk the teenagers before he finally killed them. You would get quick glimpses of something moving in the woods. Or just get a shot of the teenagers from his point of view as he stalked them. This would all slowly build up the tension until Jason (or in the case of the first movie, Mrs. Voorhees) attacked. There was none of this tension in the remake though.

Honestly it felt like Jason was teleporting all over the place. He would just show up somewhere, kill people and then disappear. There was absolutely no suspense before any of the kills. Several times Jason also just seemed to show up places that it would have been completely illogical for him to be. There is no way he could show up in a lot of the places he would be without somehow teleporting around. There is no way he could move that fast. Sure, in some of the later movies Jason did this teleporting thing but by that point the series had become pretty much a parody of itself. This movie tried to take itself to seriously to actually try to pull of something like this.

Moving on from the problems I had with the Jason character, the rest of the characters were terribly annoying as well. They were all cliched, stock, two-dimensional characters. Now, the Friday the 13th series isn't really known for its wonderfully unique characters or anything but I don't think any of the characters in this series have been this annoying. You have the token black guy whose only purpose in the movie seems to be to say things like "What do you mean you people?" You have the token pot smoking asian character... seriously why is it that in horror movies the asian character always has the pot? You have the rich, fratboy, asshole character that every seems to only hang around because he is rich. You have the beautiful and sweet girl that is for some reason dating the asshole fratboy. Seriously, should I really be rooting for Jason in this movie? Shouldn't I like the characters enough to want them to live?

Now we come to the part of the movie that upset me the most. The entire first Friday the 13th movie is reduced to a two minute flashback. What exactly is the point of rebooting a franchise and going back to the beginning if you are going to completely gloss over the origin? The origin is part of what made Jason interesting, at least it did in the first few movies. There was no reason that they couldn't have just made this a sequel with Jason back at Camp Crystal Lake killing teenagers. It was really nice to see Nana Visitor as Mrs. Voorhees though and she actually did a pretty good job. As a Deep Space Nine fan, I always find it enjoyable when I see actors from the show doing other stuff.

Overall I was just really disapointed and bored with the movie and I had actually hoped that it would be enjoyable. This series was actually at a point where I was not opposed to a reboot or a remake but they were able to completely screw it up. Annoying characters, Jason teleporting, glossing over the origin, and just no suspense in the entire movie just made it a complete mess. I would say that this is definitely my least favorite of the series. It may even be worse than Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) and that was one mess of a movie.

Rating: 2/10