Wednesday, August 19, 2009

G.I Joe Review

Review in a Hurry: This barely live-action adaptation of the mid-'80s toy/comic/cartoon iteration of Hasbro's long-running soldier toys is fast-paced, decently cast and, shall we say, "easy on the brain." Unfortunately, it's also frequently laugh-out-loud cheesy, and the digital effects are highly dubious.

Ashton Shoots Blanks in Gigolo Flick Spread

Review in a Hurry: Ashton Kutcher is a hipster himbo who beds a wealthy older woman in the Hollywood Hills. Nope, this isn't a biopic, but a seriocomic Midnight Cowboy/American Gigolo/Shampoo knockoff that's not weighty enough for a drama or sharp enough for satire.

Vanessa Hudgens Plays It Cool in Bandslam

Review in a Hurry: High School Musical this ain't, thanks to real live bands with serious cred, a normal-looking dude in the lead role and a less-than-picture-perfect story. But it's Vanessa Hudgens who steals the mic with a surprisingly subtle performance.

Box Office Update 8/14 - 8/16: District 9 Evicts the Joes

District 9 stepped up to the plate and proceeded to splatter G.I. Joe goo all over the place. Well, not exactly, but it came out strong off the bench while G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra plummeted nearly 60%. I did have the pleasure of seeing District 9, and I am ecstatic over its opening weekend success. I just hope that word of mouth is strong enough to carry it to a solid theatrical run. It is an original film that has great effects, an engrossing story, and an intelligence not often seen in what is ostensibly a summer action flick. It is easily one of my favorites of the year, and one I plan to see again on the big screen.

Taking a steep percentage hit, last week's winner, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, still lands comfortably in second place. While one would have to think that the big dip does not bode well for the film's legs, this could just be a sophomore slump and the next week or two could see it level off. Not for nothing, I found the movie to be quite entertaining — it's pure, dumb fun that embraces the cheese.

Coming in third is The Time Traveler's Wife. It is a movie that did not work for me, but is not without some interesting ideas. It's shot well, but the leads, Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, do not seem to have much chemistry. In any case, it is a good date-type movie.

Fourth and fifth place are a couple of holdovers in Julie & Julia and G-Force, two very different movies for two very different audiences. I have only seen the former, and found it quite enjoyable. Both films had solid holds from last week and will likely have the legs to last a couple more weeks as new competition arrives.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard arrives in sixth place, in what I am sure is considered a disappointment. Considering how dull the movie turned out to be, it will likely have to wait for DVD to make most of its money. The movie is well cast and has a decent idea at its core, it is just the writing cannot support it and the execution collapses early on.

In the latter half of the top ten, the big story is Ponyo, the latest from Hayao Miyazaki. I do not think it tops his best work, but there is no denying this is a special film. The story is simple on the surface yet contains a lot of details that allow for closer inspection. The animation is beautiful and filled with great detail. It is also the biggest and widest opening for a Miyazaki film. I encourage you all to go see this before it disappears.

Next week will see the arrival of Quentin Tarantino's new film Inglorious Basterds. That is a film I am really looking forward to! We also get to see Post Grad starring Alexis Bledel, Robert Rodriguez's latest family film Shorts, and a special 3D film on ESPN's X-Games.

Four movies dropped off the top ten this week: (500) Days of Summer (11), A Perfect Getaway (12), Orphan (15), and Aliens in the Attic (17).

Brad Pitt to Play Superhero for His Kids' Sake

In his current movie opening Friday, Quentin Tarantino's R-rated WWII movie Inglourious Basterds, Brad Pitt plays a southern lieutenant whose squadron, among other bloody deeds, scalps Nazis.

"Yeah," Pitt, 45, confirmed to interviewer Ann Curry on Tuesday's Today show, "people lose some hair."

When Curry counters that Pitt – the father of six – ought to make a kids movie, the leading man steps forward with the announcement that he is doing just that, by providing the voice for an animated feature in which he'll play a "superhero who wants out."

Pitt says that movie will costar the voices of Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr., and trade reports identify the project as Oobermind, from DreamWorks Animation and Madagascar co-director Tim McGrath. An update since the Pitt-Curry sit-down also indicates that Will Ferrell has replaced Robert Downey Jr.

The movie, now in post-production for a November 2010 release, reportedly opens with Pitt, as the super heroic Metro Man, being accidentally killed by the super villain Oobermind (Ferrell), who has a change of heart about being bad and so creates a new hero, Titan (Jonah Hill) – much to the confusion of a local newscaster (Fey).

It's not autobiographical, Pitt told Curry, who inquired if he might be doing the movie in order to appear heroic to his and Angelina Jolie's children: Maddox, 8; Pax, 5; Zahara, 4; Shiloh, 3; and twins Knox and Vivienne, 1.

"It's just something they'll enjoy," he responded, "and that's cool."

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ... new cast reveal

Maria Full Of Grace star, Catalina Sandino Moreno, is the latest fresh face to join the cast of the Twilight sequel, Eclipse. The Colombian actress, 28, will play a vampire – coincidentally called Maria – who builds an undead army in the third film of the Twilight series – The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Moreno will join established Twilight stars Robert Pattinson, Peter Facinelli and Kristen Stewart in the movie, which is currently being filmed and is due for a 2010 release.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that Factory Girl star Jack Huston will play the part of Royce King II, while Bryce Dallas Howard will replace Rachelle Lefevre in a controversial casting.

Moreno was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Maria in Maria Full Of Grace in 2005.