Friday, December 26, 2008

Would you pay to see this movie? The Tyler Perry conundrum.

Let's avoid any pretense and get to some disclosure. I'm a middle aged white writer. Tyler Perry is a black writer, actor, director and producer and legitimate entertainment mogul. Do I just not get it? Am I so removed from the world that Tyler Perry takes his inspiration from, that the material is beyond my appreciation? I'd like to think that movies, and entertainment in general, have that elusive universality that enables audiences across all backgrounds to simply appreciate great storytelling. I think I'm right. Tyler Perry's work leaves me wondering.
There is one thing I'm certain of. Positive in fact. That is that Tyler Perry has a massive ego. I'll give enough ground here to say that he's possibly just obsessed with establishing his identity as a brand name, but you have to admit he likes to see his name in print. LARGE print and above the title. What the hell, he's earned it. His productions have been, if not colossal, certainly steadily successful. He deserves his due and as a business man, I tip my hat.

And that leads me to wonder how and why. I have to say that after watching the trailer for The Family that Preys, earlier this year, I was impressed with everything except Tyler Perry. That is, his presence in the film, that at least by the footage in the trailer, seemed arbitrary and distracting. He's simply not as good an actor as the other actors he's smart enough to cast in the parts he writes. His name emblazoned above the title just seems to emphasize this oversight of ego. Get out of the movie, let the title carry your advertising and be content to read the end credits for your ego buzz. Just a thought.

But with that thought in mind, now comes the trailer for Tyler Perry's newest movie, Madea Goes to Jail ("new" as a relative term as this story has apparently already seen life as a stage play and a 2006 video release), and it jumps back to all of the things I don't get about Tyler Perry. Front and center is his character Madea. Aside from being in a complete fog about why black male actors seem obsessed with playing overweight, embarrassingly stereotypical and shamefully exaggerated black women (see Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and nearly all of Mr. Perry's headshot resumé), there's a mix of what looks like wildly broad comedy with serious social issues that seems as conflicted and schitzo as having Axel Foley look into a mirror to see Granny Klump staring back. The trailer for the upcoming Madea Goes to Jail seems entirely fractured and illogical. Even the poster seems to be taking itself too seriously. (That's the new poster up top, the one at the right is from the older and apparently obscure video.) 

But like I said, I may just not get it.

Do you? The trailer is embedded at Moviedozer .com and you can take a look by clicking anywhere in this sentence then scrolling down until you reach the trailer. Go watch, get a sense of what's going on, then click the link next to the trailer to return here and post an opinion. Let your fellow moviegoers know what you think and help us decide just what we might be missing about Tyler Perry. And just in case Mr. Perry himself should be reading, you can't be too upset. After all, we've just put your name in print 11 more times.

As for the rest of you, would you pay to see this movie? 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Day the Creative Process Stood Still

In 1951 a group of creative people did what creative people often do... they came up with a great story to tell and found a great way to tell it. That project was called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The mere fact that its title has made it into this post all these years later should be seen as testament to the result of their commendable efforts.

A while ago, a group of people who call themselves creative, got together and decided that they had no stories to tell. Being that these people had access to simpleminded executives with lots of money and a movie studio, they did what most untalented people do who are still invited to Hollywood cocktail parties, they stole an old idea. This gang of hacks then recruited a group of actors who were sucked in by big paychecks and skilled ass-kissing and made a movie. That project is called The Day the Earth Stood Still. The mere fact that its title has made it into this post is testament to the atrocious results of their efforts.




Let me make a declarative and indisputable statement. The remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keeanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and (Will Smith's son) Jaden Smith (whose acting is never more impressive than a grade school play), sucks. To put an environmental spin on it... it blows harder than the worst catagory five a climate wracked planet could ever hope to spawn. There are so many things wrong with this film that the things that are least wrong were probably oversights. Which is to say, there's not a redeeming moment, a second of realism, an instant of sci-fi wonder, a clever effect, a smart line of dialogue, a meaningful plot device, an understandable course of action or a nano second when you don't wish you could get your money back.

This is bad, directionless, plotless moviemaking. No one should escape responsibility (or scorn) for achieving something even more meaningless than this past spring's bomb, Speed Racer and more useless than Mike Myer's debacle of a film project, The Love Guru.  If you have any familiarity with the 1951 original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, savor it. Don't go near a beam of light that flickers anything resembling an image from the remake. Don't, for God sake, skip the movie and get sucked into wasting a night on the rental. Instead, make a mental note that everyone who's name is somewhere on the print of this thing should now be considered suspect. They all deserve serious scrutiny, if not for the merits of their next project, then certainly for their willingness to accept pay without regard for foisting two hours of crap on a paying audience.

Nothing makes sense in the new The Day the Earth Stood Still. Before the alien, entrusted with preserving planetary survival, decides the human race is worth saving, (a decision he bases on one child crying about his dead father, before which the alien himself is responsible for a hard to keep track of body count), he unleashes a force that we watch indiscriminately destroy people and property (including, humorously for those of us in NJ, Giants Stadium). Then, realizing that humans have "another" side, he stops the destructive stuff and just leaves.

Not even a "sorry about that" as he exits, (in what has to be the worst spaceship ever conceived by a special effects department). So aside from being awful, the film is also despicable in its perverted effort to be timely and self-important.


By the way, one of the very finest elements of the original, the robot Gort, a pivotal and beautifully simple character that that film revolved around, is reduced in the remake to nothing more than a hi-tech doomsday device that even suffers the indignity of being named Gort again, but here by the scientists who reason the name from a convoluted acronym for Genetic Organic Robot Technology. (I think maybe Will Smith's son came up with that one and won a contest to appear in the film?)

Bottom line, skip it. Don't waste your time or money. There are just too many promising projects out there for the remainder of the year to be distracted by the worst that Hollywood can offer. We'll be focusing on those projects next at Moviedozer Dailies and hopefully we'll find ourselves recovered and in a far better mood.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Would you pay to see this movie?

We watch movie trailers every day and for the most part it's an easy call. "Yeah, we'll go see that." or "Who the hell would waste money on this piece of crap?" You get the idea. Usually things are pretty clean cut. To say we're opinionated about movies at Moviedozer.com is an exercise in stating the obvious.
But every now and then we run across a new release trailer that stumps us. Should we / shouldn't we? Not just peel out the bucks to see it, but should we bother to review it? Should we recommend it? Should we even mention it, thereby use our website to involuntarily promote it? Well, in that grand business tradition - when we can't decide and don't want to take the responsibility - we're passing the buck to YOU. 

It's simple. If you haven't just come from there, CLICK over to the Moviedozer website (use any of the links in this sentence) and check out the trailer. It will always be found toward the bottom of the Pulling Focus page just under the current Poster Gallery. Then simply click on the link next to the trailer to get back here.

Now it's time for you to decide. Would you pay to see this movie? Go ahead and click on the comment button below and have at it. We'll keep track and make recommendations based on the responses, and if we blow it - we'll blame you! How cool is that? Well, it is for us anyway. But if you follow the advice of your fellow opinionated trailer viewers you just might save ten bucks. (You have to promise to go out and spend the ten bucks somewhere else though - let's not forget that whole economic stimulus thing.)

So the first flick up is Anchor Bay Films' new release While She Was Out, starring Kim Basinger, Lukas Haas, Craig Sheffer and Jamie Star. Directed by Susan Montford, While She Was Out is being released on December 12th. Would you pay to see this movie?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Banks-ing on box-office?

Questions we got. Answers not so much. Opinions? We're lousy with them.
For example... what's the deal with how much work Elizabeth Banks is getting? The woman's appealing in that 1990's Meg Ryan kind of way but does she really have the talent to merit this much work? OK, stupid question, since when's talent got anything to do with it? Still, makes you wonder. For the record, as Laura Bush in Oliver Stone's W., she was no more than a walking talking prop, albeit a dead-on for looks prop. (Unlike Thandie Newton in the same flick as Congaleezza Rice, who was a walking talking parody, not of the Secretary of State, but of an actress. You can click here for more of that rant.)

Banks is also currently being seen, mostly by moviegoers who show little discretion in their ticket buying choices, in Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Role Models, the latter being the film to see if you must get a Banks dose this fall, only because of Paul Rudd's terrific sarcastic deadpan.


Here's another mystery... what's with the glut of scary movies scheduled for early next year? Wasn't that always the domain of the early fall? Another Saw came out last month and did some nice business, though others, like The Haunting of Molly Hartley, couldn't scare up an audience. And now, already being promoted, are at least three major scare flicks (the psycho type scares over the blood and guts stuff). The most promising is The Haunting in Connecticut starring Virginia Madsen and Martin Donovan, still without a release date from Lionsgate. Rogue Pictures will release The Unborn, starring Gary Oldman, James Remar and Carla Gugino, on January 9th (the same date a remake of Clive Barker's Hellraiser will make it back into theaters), and The Uninvited from Dreamworks SKG will none the less invite itself to your local cinema on January 30th, starring... wait for it... yes, Elizabeth Banks.


Also, on tap for January 16th with a full month to put you "in the mood", will be My Bloody Valentine 3D, the 3D being exploited as a marketing gimmick in all of it's 1950's red and blue lensed glory. (Although of course, the black shades hi-tech version is being used here.) There's even a sequel of sorts coming in February for New Line's classic franchise (read "why haven't we mined this resource lately"), Friday the 13th.

If you just can't wait to get your fright on, you can check out House, playing in near empty theaters as I write. Or you can just invest in the stock market then read the Wall Street Journal every morning.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It was a wonderful night.

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives...".

That's Clarence from Frank Capra's classic It's a Wonderful Life. To a nation that did Frank Capra proud last night, we join with you in watching a brighter light shine out over a nation refreshed.

Congratulations to President Elect Barack Obama. Congratulations to Vice-President Elect Joseph Biden. And congratulations to each of you who cast your vote, no matter to what cause or what party.

God Bless all of us in this extraordinary new chapter in American History. 


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Craig List.

In just a little more than a week, Daniel Craig will reprise his role as 007, James Bond, in the latest installment of the most successful franchise in movie history, Quantum of Solace. As Craig has been forced to explain in nearly every press interview promoting the film, the unusual title refers to that moment of reconciliation when one finds an inner peace that satisfies, at least temporarily, some inner turmoil or angst. For James Bond, it's coming to grips with losing a great love as witnessed at the end of the last Bond (and Craig's first), Casino Royale. For Daniel Craig, his own personal quantum of solace may be arriving with an understanding that unlike most actors who put on the tux and slip in the Walther PPK (though I don't think they're using those anymore), he actually has an actor's life beyond Bond. Sure Connery and Brosnan had one - after leaving the franchise, and Moore had success before Bond, but it's Craig who seems to be living a double life in his acting and he's out to prove it over the space of the next three months.
Aside from next week's wide release which is positioned nicely to become the biggest box-office hit of the end of the year, Daniel Craig's film work has already been augmented this fall with Flashbacks of a Fool, a release from Anchor Bay Entertainment and Arclight Films which is currently both in limited release and just available on DVD. The film, a drama told through flashbacks, has Craig playing a washed out and angry actor who,  through dealing with news of the death of a childhood friend, must deal with past conflicts and present day redemption. The story feels compelling and Craig's image of arrogance and vulnerability nicely echo the conflict of the script.

Post Bond will be Defiance. The trailer, just reviewed on Moviedozer.com's Trailer Takes, puts Craig in the middle of a high tension drama set in Russia at the onset of World War II. Leading a community of Jews in an escape from Nazi soldiers, the film follows the odyssey of survival of a continually growing enclave holding onto its life's beliefs while constantly evading German capture. In Defiance, Daniel Craig is joined with strong support by actor Liev Schreiber. Directed by Edward Zwick who was responsible both for 2006's excellent Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly and 2003's masterful The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, Defiance looks to be another performance driven historic piece set in convincing backgrounds and conditions. Daniel Craig looks to live up to every aspect of the past excellence that Zwick has drawn from his previous stars.

With the 007 franchise knee deep in hype over critical claims of reinvention and a new hard edged realism, it's refreshing to see its new star looking beyond the Bond girls, fast cars and high tech weaponry. Daniel Craig appears to be looking to live beyond Bond and to establish some high ground for his career and his fans. We think the last few months of 2008 will be a memorable time for Daniel Craig's career and a strong indication to his fans that there's much more of interest in what lies ahead. And of course, the Bond thing isn't about to be over anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Worst performance by a person in the role of an actress goes to...

And the winner is... Thandie Newton. And the losers are... well, let's see. For starters, Oliver Stone & Stanley Weiser, the director and writer of W., the film containing the offending performance by Ms. Newton.
But the list goes on. Everyone who actually had to play out a scene with Ms. Newton, though after sitting through the film, it's hard to recall anything other than how dreadful her mere presence was in even the least of her scenes. In particular, it was Josh Brolin who had to deal with her wooden, mannequin-like delivery and utterly high-school level mimicking. Should Brolin land an Oscar nod, be sympathetic, the man's been through acting hell. Most importantly the losers are the audience, though judging strictly by the numbers, there aren't all that many of us. 

The audience got left in the cheap seats with a film that in most ways featured top talent. Brolin, already mentioned, nailed his role, though whether the role nailed its target is debatable. The other notable thespians moving through this narrative were James Cromwell in the role of "Poppy", former President George H.W. Bush and Richard Dreyfuss (who we have to admit we really enjoy showing up on the big screen now and then) in the role of the infamous Dick Cheney, hitting his marks with a hell of a lot more accuracy than the real Cheney aims a shotgun.

After that, the list devolves into mediocre at best performances from talent that usually gets paid enough to garner higher expectations. Elizabeth Banks was an acceptable Laura Bush mostly for her uncanny physical resemblance. Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush is a throw-away that could have been more effectively acted with almost no additional effort. And practically without exception, the remaining (and numerous) cast members seemed out-of-place and unrehearsed. Even the usually effective Scott Glenn (here walking through the role of Donald Rumsfeld), appeared to have been thrown his first copy of the script as he was leaving the make-up trailer. All of this oddly surprising for a director who usually can be noted for delivering the best from his talent in even the least of his body of work.


But the standout in an absolutely vacant portrayal of Condoleezza Rice was Ms. Newton. My reaction to her every moment on screen, from walking in some kind of caricatured hunch, speaking with a muddled and non-sensical accent or simply appearing to be no more than a prop, a hatrack in the corner of a shot, was to be astounded at her even being included in the film frame. So how's this for clarity, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice in Oliver Stone's W. delivers the singularly worst performance I have ever witnessed from an actor or actress who can be (even in jest) called a professional in the realm of motion pictures. I will hope that the performance stands as award winningly awful for all time, I can't imagine sitting through anything worse. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

JCVD: shattering stereotypes with a jump-kick.

I had the luck to meet Jean-Claude Van Damme more than a decade ago. In the course of just a brief time, my perception was of a polite, funny and accommodating guy. As we were moving into a side entrance, a fan (a middle aged woman) caught a glimpse and ran over to catch Jean-Claude's attention, calling out in French and trying to get closer to the secured area we were in. Not only did he walk back down a flight of stairs to say hello but asked my permission to do so. Later inside, he made a point to say hello and sign autographs for facility staff that were working near his location. In every respect, he was a gentleman.
It is easy to see action hero movie stars only through the filter of their films and their publicity (unfortunately I've also met one or two who seemed quite happy to live up to the arrogance of that hype). In Jean-Claude's case, his new movie JCVD not only looks to peel away every imaginable layer of hype, but takes it on with the impact of one of his trademark jump-kicks, a straight and unstoppable blow to the action hero image he's cultivated over a career's worth of movies.

I spent part of this morning watching and rewatching the trailer for JCVD, browsing through it's official movie site and watching some of the production videos that have been released and are creating a buzz over at YouTube. The film, a French production directed by Mabrouk El Mechri is being released here in the US on November 7th in limited release and was just exhibited at the Toronto and Austin Film Festivals. 
The reason it's captured my attention and is being featured on the front page of Moviedozer.com is it's unusual nature. There is a tangible strangeness that brings it's blend of action, pathos and sepia tones into shifting focus against Jean-Claude Van Demme's fictional heroics and this beaten down movie reality . An effect not too distant from the script work of Charlie Kaufman in films like Being John Malkovich and the upcoming Synecdoche, New York. The quirkiness of the project, indeed of even just the idea for the project, is what's so dammed (or is that Demme'd, sorry) fascinating. 

So far all I've seen is the trailer along with assorted clips in French.  There's also a very odd but intriguing video (one of the French trailers) that is set at the casting session to find an actor to play Jean-Claude, only to have Jean-Claude show up himself. Don't let the French clips throw you though, American's after all get their movie marketing American style and foreign promotional clips may not live up to expectations. This is one to explore on your own and we're betting the exploration will pay off, even if only to offer a lesson in totally shattering stereotypes. That the star is the one responsible for punching through the accepted hype, all the better. Moviedozer.com will be including JCVD in it's November List of movies we're most looking forward to. We'll also feature the American trailer in a review on our Trailer Takes page next week. If you're living in one of those privileged and treasured limited release cities, this one promises a glimpse of an action hero movie star even that French-speaking fan may not recognize but one you may not be likely to forget.

Here's a video clip of the US trailer courtesy of Traileraddict.com:

Friday, October 17, 2008

A sitting President gets Stone'd.

Say what you will about the man, but after eight years of leading this country to what history will distinguish as a legendary low point, you get what you deserve. And that's why a sitting president can't escape his final months in office without having Oliver Stone decide it's time to make a movie.
That movie is W. (For the neophytes, that's pronounced "Dub-ya"). The shortest title for a movie we've covered this year is perhaps also the quirkiest movie, both regardless of and because of it's subject matter.

W., directed by Stone, was written by Stanley Weiser. It's perhaps appropriate that while the country is facing it's greatest economic collapse in a generation or two of memory, Weiser was also the man who penned one of the most classic lines from Hollywood for the fictional character of Wall Street power broker Gordon Gecko, "Greed is Good". Somewhere buried in W. must be the echoes of "executive powers are awesome". ( You can almost hear that snide little muffled George Bush laugh at the thought, a laugh nicely mimicked by W. star Josh Brolin in the new film.)

In interview after interview, Stone has been questioned about the film by reporters who seemed surprised, some seemingly taken aback, at how "fair and balanced" the film's treatment of George Bush seems to be. After a famously opinionated take on JFK's assassination and another on Nixon's resignation ending term in office exacerbated by that President's own deep and personal flaws, anything less than an all out attack on George Bush seems to have been eagerly anticipated, ripe for assault and (taking in account recent approval polls), decidedly deserved in the opinions of more than 70% of the potential audience. Instead Stone takes a more neutral approach and both surprised fans and silenced critics.

There in lies the beauty of satirizing and exposing incompetence and corruption when your subject does such a wonderful job of both all by himself. Stone's experience and savvy as a seasoned Hollywood writer and director has suggested just the right touch on a film that could have easily lapsed into broad parody or heavy handed editorial. In what may be the master stroke of the movie, Stone seems to have simply taken on the role of observer (albeit an observer with a keen eye for cinematic style), of a third person storyteller relating a tale that leaves it's opinions to the audience, leaving them to decide what is exaggeration, inexplicable fact and monumental human error. It's akin to watching a skilled trial attorney catch his witness in a self-incriminating lie on the witness stand. When you want to prove you're subject deserves to be looked on as a moron, simply page back the curtain enough to let your audience watch his moronic backstage behavior. George Bush, this is your life.

With fall films doing what the season implies and serious tone in movies being shunned for talking Chihuahuas, W. is not an easy sell. Politics have run their season and then some, and even the typical sideline humor of a political season in overdrive is getting tempered in this election by the gravity of our condition as a society and our diminished influence on the world stage. W. may have only carried real relevance against the very backdrop that is drawn against, a canvas that helps to reveal the chaotic pallet of crisis we've inflicted upon ourselves with such pathetic and uncontrolled loss of leadership. Though it appears to be proven that the wealth spilled upon the heads of the rich and meant to trickle downward, has instead found random paths into the deep pits of executive and privileged bank accounts, the bankrupted and decimated stores of brave and patriotic leaders has shamefully been supplanted with moral corruption and incompetence. Unfortunately that commodity is raining down on the poor and working class with the ferocity of a levee breaking deluge.

Even if W. doesn't nail down a big audience this weekend and return box-office numbers to build ad campaigns around, the return on investment from a creative standpoint is still assured. This was the right timing for this film, indeed this is a film about timing. Oliver Stone took the right tact and President George W. Bush should stand accountable for the audiences that will follow over time. Audiences who, with the benefit of perspective, should heed the story of the film as an artistic expression uniquely inspired by the very canvas it is painted upon.

If you're interested n learning more about the film, Moviedozer.com is currently featuring clips from AMC's Shootout on our Sprocket Holes page, just click here. There are also news clips about the film and it's release on our front Previews page here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fireproof finds faith may be all about the timing.

"Never leave your partner behind." Not the tagline of some politically fueled war movie or a new gritty urban cop flick. This time the tag plays on the motto of firefighters and then takes a twist. It's the twist and how it's framed that makes Fireproof, the new movie distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films that opened on September 26th in limited release, a bit different in today's box-office lineup.
Playing in only about 840 theaters, Fireproof opened at number three in box-office on it's first day of release, taking in more than 2 & 1/4 million, or about 230 grand ahead of Samuel L. Jackson's Lakeview Terrace. Lakeview Terrace would go on to take the number three slot that weekend but Fireproof would hold on as number four, just a couple of hundred grand behind. Why's any of this impressive? Fireproof is essentially a small budget Christian made and Christian produced film with a heavily Christian theme and influence. It's star, Kirk Cameron has been involved with faith based television programming for years and is an influential force for faith based themed television and film projects.

If you were watching television in the eighties you'd remember Cameron from his role as the irrepressible Mike Seaver on Growing Pains opposite Alan Thicke and Joanna Kerns. The show ran from 1985 to 1992 and cemented Cameron as one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood, eclipsed perhaps only by Michael J. Fox. Cameron went on to some minor projects but by 2000 had moved toward Christian programming and the lead role as Buck Williams in the movie adaptation of the first book in the popular series Left Behind.

Left Behind had a box-office take of just over $4 million in the US on a production budget that exceeded $18 million, not a strong argument for marketing faith based movies to the masses. That has apparently changed as Fireproof enters it's third weekend of release and has seen its box-office numbers climb to $13.3 million. Put that in contrast to its production budget of just $500 thousand. That's called finding religion.

In hard times, religion prospers. That's not a knock or a slight, it's simply a fact. Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama tried to make that point during the primary season and had his words twisted into a jab at "ordinary voters". The political slant was the lie, the truth is that during hard times, economic or otherwise, people tend to fall back on their values, whether they be guns or bibles. There's nothing insulting about that, rather it's comfortingly humanistic. So has Fireproof benefitted by the good fortune of entering into public perception just as it's subject matter feels particularly reassuring. Of course it has. Does anything about that circumstance diminish it's value or story? Of course not. The story, released with this timing, just has an opportunity to fall on more receptive eyes and ears.

The narrative at the core of Fireproof is about marriage and divorce, commitment and of course, faith. Kirk Cameron plays Caleb Holt, a firefighter who, in spite of his belief in the creed "never leave your partner behind" is about to do just that in his marriage. As the impending divorce looms, Caleb's father offers his support with the caveat that Caleb postpone any move toward divorce for 40 days. In that time he simply asks his son to commit to following through on a kind of guide book called "The Love Dare". As a side note, in the real life story that has become part of the success of the film, the movie's fictional book has now actually been authored by the brothers who wrote the screenplay and as of this writing is the #8 best selling book on Amazon.com.

Any impulse to dismiss Fireproof as a Christian movie or merely a film that will appeal only to a faith driven audience would be misguided. With Hollywood's usual trepidation toward taking risks, Fireproof alone won't bring on a wave of like films to your cineplex in the coming months, but there is a trend lingering in the box-office statistics of this movie. Hard times will drive ordinary people back to their comfort zones. Entertainment in all formats will have to absorb a drop in revenue like most industries but as some subject matter will begin to feel heavy and burdened,  an opportunity will open for studios, directors, writers and actors to create comforting, inspiring and positive emotions through their art.

Our guess at Moviedozer.com will be a shorter list of raunchy comedies, politically biased dramas and heavy emotional pieces next year.  Instead we're betting on Hollywood reassuming it's role as an entertainer with a return to light adult comedies, uplifting emotional tales and inspiring character dramas. In short, for your next coming attractions, go take a cruise through the films  that studios were releasing in the war years of the forties. Absent perhaps will be the overwhelming patriotic sentiment, but most assuredly you're about to see Hollywood's memory jolted back to remembering that people go to the movies to forget their problems, not to be reminded of them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

While the US tries to get a newspaper under the economy, Disney takes out the dog.

Movie box-office receipts fall like colored leaves in the fall though there's nothing colorful about it. If you want a clear picture of why studios bank on blockbusters and desperately try to extend the summer season, take one look at autumn weekend box-office numbers and feel their pain.
So far the biggest post summer hit has been the very summer movie like Eagle Eye starring Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan for Dreamworks/Paramount. At 54.6 million after ten days in release, that's a certified back to school hit. Compared to typical summer takes, that would be a respectable opening weekend. But still, Eagle Eye is the exception, Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna tallying only 6.3 million in ten days would be the rule. The hit/miss factor has been just about even so far this fall, with about seven films living up to expectations and seven falling short. The fall is also the peak release season for limited releases, which get their chance at breaking out through awards appeal rather than box-office returns. This fall's limited releases haven't set any fires though the awards buzz is already hot and heavy on films like Ed Harris' acting and directing western Appaloosa and Keira Knightly's The Duchess.

What's this all set the stage for? A movie about a female chihuahua from Beverly Hills trying to get back to the high life from the meager streets of Mexico. I won't even get into what that says about our values system or what we push on our kids as funny. Let's leave the high mindedness behind, much as the Disney Studios did, and just talk about the movie business. Beverly Hills Chihuahua opened last weekend in the number one spot and brought in the second highest box-office of the fall season so far. With an even 29 million, the numbers so far indicate it missed Eagle Eye's opening by just 150 grand while opening in nearly 300 fewer theaters. All indications are that Disney's BHC will also have longer "legs", giving the film a larger total box-office by the end of it's first theatrical run. 

So who cares? Well, likely no one except the current crop of players in the industry who count on their "artistic vision" to nail down their yearly bonus checks. But in an economy that shows signs of tanking all over the world, the true contest is about to become a guessing game of not what films are best, most artful or even most interesting, but what kind of movie will be most efficient at wedging currency from the wallets of a globally declining marketplace. Is there anyone surprised that the all American Dalmatian has been ditched for the accents and heavily ethnic humor of Mexican Chihuahuas now?

Studios have clearly seen the need to pull from a bigger pool of cash and that means realizing that, as in most everything else these days, America can't buoy the movie industry alone. 
In fact, it's international markets that have truly defined all but a few of this year's hits. Everyone who went to the movies this summer knows that The Dark Knight was the mega hit, raking in more than 500 million in Washingtons, Lincolns and Hamiltons. But did you know that Mamma Mia, which has grabbed up a cool 143 million stateside, has more than doubled that figure overseas and is now well over 500 million worldwide. That would put it sixth, just behind Iron Man in world wide box-office this year. (Now you have a better idea why no one is complaining about Pierce Brosnan's singing voice anymore.)

So get used to talking Chihuahuas, you may not have a choice. And get used to films like Blindness, starring Julianne Moore, Danny Glover and Mark Ruffalo (less than 2 million in it's opening last weekend), getting retooled for foreign markets before they even see a US release date. The times like the economy, are a-changing and what that means to your choices at the local cineplex is anybody's guess.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

First Fall Flicks


The first weekend of fall is about to arrive and that means the first official fall movies are lined up for release. An action thriller that feels like a holdover from summer, a self proclaimed epic with a nice dose of historical mystery, a flat-out romance and a novel adaptation in limited release. Yeah, sounds like fall.

Over the last couple of weeks, the number one weekend movie was a Coen brothers comedy and a tense cop thriller. One got rave critical notices and one got panned. There was only about $4 million separating their opening weekends. What may be more telling about fall movies is that both the number two and three movies this past weekend would have come in at four and five only a week earlier. Moreover, the two and three movies from that weekend fell to four and five this past weekend. And just to add one more bit of perspective, films that opened in the range of the last two weekends top three, during the summer would have been considered complete bombs. Duds. With just a brief glance over any movie studio's shoulder you can gain enormous understanding of the realities of blockbuster summer mentality and fall "awards" season.

The fact is, Hollywood studios wouldn't be staying in business without summer blockbusters (the top three films of the summer accounted for $1.2 billon in domestic box-office. When adding in the worldwide numbers, that figure will sore over the $3 billion mark.) And no one in Hollywood would maintain production through the rest of the year if it wasn't for the plethora of awards shows and holiday release weekends. With the Oscar countdown already underway (for a television ceremony that doesn't happen until nearly the end of February) every studio and a slew of independents will try to pull attention to their fall projects and stake out some Academy territory.

This weekend's mix splits things nicely down the center. Two of the weekend's films, Eagle Eye starring Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan from Dreamworks SKG and Nights in Rodanthe starring the reunion of Richard Gere and Diane Lane from Warner Bros. serve up mainstream concepts that would find audiences most of the year. The other two notable releases this weekend are the adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's Choke starring Sam Rockwell (opening in limited release) and the long awaited Spike Lee helmed Miracle at St. Anna with a well respected ensemble cast. This later film has the chance to be the surprise of the weekend and should do well at the box-office, already garnering strong critical notices for story, acting and Lee's return to feature directing (his last major release being 2006's Inside Man with Clive Owen and Denzel Washington).

There's nothing really exciting here but you can expect to watch some interesting stories and that's perhaps the case for getting comfortable with the end of the summer event movies. Though Dreamworks would clearly like to generate some Transformers and Disturbia numbers with Eagle Eye, that one's clearly the high school date flick of the month and outside of young audiences, don't expect any critical buzz. Instead this is what we like to call sweater season at the movies. Pull on some comfortable jeans and your favorite cable knit, skip the soda and popcorn at the snack bar and grab a hot chocolate or a tall coffee (most theaters seem to be doing reasonably well with that these days) and settle in with a fall movie. It's just a slight shift of perspective, much like transitioning from green lawns to seeing the beauty of bare trees and piles of leaves on the streets. In just another weekend or two, you'll be acclimated to the new season and ready to see what Hollywood has waiting for you. You may even find something to root for in February.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Moviedozer's been in Make-up.


If you're a regular reader of Moviedozer Dailies, you may have noticed that we've been a bit idle for awhile. Just like on a movie set, sometimes you just have to wait around while someone's getting a touch up. The work that's been keeping us busy is a complete refresh of our parent site Moviedozer.com and we're proud to say that the work is almost complete and that Moviedozer Dailies will be back with regular updates shortly.

In the meantime, in a bit of shameless self-promotion, we'll point out that Moviedozer has been revamped with a completely new look, new wider, easier to navigate pages, better graphics, new animations and pertinent ads about new theatrical and DVD releases. We've even begun a complete remake of our Archive which now includes our monthly trailer reviews and the complete set of articles that originally appeared in the Moviedozer's past feature "the Screening Room".

We hope you'll enjoy the new look and our new features. Have fun and be sure to return to Moviedozer Dailies or drop us an email to let us know what you think.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Left spoiling in the summer heat. Part Two.

Here's part two of our megaflops of Blockbuster Summer '08 list. As these digital pixels embed themselves into memory files and we commemorate the rancid stuff of bad ideas baking in the summer sun, it's worthwhile to note that today's box-office news puts into the records one of the true achievements in filmmaking from this or any other American summer. 

Warner Brothers' The Dark Knight officially crossed the 500 million mark today to become only the second film in American box-office history to cross that milestone. The first was Titanic which past the 500 million mark in just a little over three months to land at a 600.8 total. The Dark Knight achieved it's half billion dollar take in just over 6 weeks.

So it's with the memories of  summer hits like Iron Man, The IncredibleHulk, Mamma Mia, Wall•e, and The Dark Knight, that we offer a well deserved raspberry to part two of this summer's real dreck.

X-Files: I Want to Believe. (Fox)
In pre-release publicity for this long-past-losing-interest sequel, Fox executives were fond of pointing out that this was a standalone movie that didn't require previous knowledge of the X-Files established alien mythology. Asked if they thought audiences loyal to the TV show would accept a film meant more for the masses than the fans, execs pointed to creator Chris Carter with a "who could know better than the man who created it all" confidence. That may have been the first mistake. Underwhelming comments from co-star Gillian Anderson, challenged with morphing into the icy Dana Scully six years after the end of the TV series, didn't seem to ring with excitement and some truly convoluted, b-roll looking trailers sure didn't help. Ultimately the feature release on July 25th only scored a fourth place finish, barely cracking 10 million. More embarrassing was it's trouncing by the sophomoric (aren't they all) Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers which came in at number 2, tripling the take of X-Files. In fact, even Journey to the Center of the Earth (at the time in it's third weekend) was a threat, coming in fifth less than a third of a million off X-Files numbers. Point to Chris Carter now as "the man who knows when it's time to grab for one more big paycheck". Box-office: $20,750, 041 against an estimated $35,000.000 production budget.
Who takes it in the shorts. Fans of the show that expected and deserved way the hell more.

Swing Vote. (Disney)
Of the films I saw this summer, I hated this film almost as much as I hated Speed Racer. Who could possibly green-light a family film about the precocious daughter of a single dad who's teaching him a thing or two about life while she's also trying to get across the social responsibilities and privileges of voting, and make the father in the piece a bumbling drunkard with no more respect for his daughter than his pickup truck. Disney, that's who, trying to endear to us a character who is more taken with going for a ride in Richard Petty's race car than even showing up at his daughter's school's Parent's Day. I was so angry at the irresponsible behavior of Kevin Costner's character in this film that I rooted against him for the entire pointless plot. Even Budweiser should have had the integrity to have pulled their product placements instead of condoning this mess with ever-present cans of Bud in frame and enough Budweiser signs to shellac a football stadium. This, along with the illustrious Speed Racer were the only two films I saw this summer that required a substantial effort to sit through to the end, but this one perhaps is even more detestable. Throw in a handful of talented supporting actors who were entirely mis-cast and underused and astonishingly bad writing and this is easily the most inexcusable flops of the summer and certainly one of the year's worst. A laugh-less failure. Box-office: $15,555,204.
Who takes it in the shorts? Hopefully everyone even remotely connected to the project, but most deservedly The Walt Disney Company who allowed a total lapse of integrity and common sense.

Meet Dave. (Fox)
I keep wondering if Eddie Murphy is having a contest with his buddies on whether he can star in a bigger failure than Pluto Nash before people will stop offering him money to make movies. I will confess up front that I didn't see this movie. I will also shout to the rooftops that I didn't see this movie. No one should have. According to the box-office, very nearly no one did. You can easily base a "no-go" decision on the poster, and there are really no excuses on Earth to have gone if you've caught even mere seconds of the trailer. This is a bad idea wrapped inside an awful idea. Not unlike Mike Myers, Mr. Murphy has apparently been shown the future by his studio and his accountant and low and behold, the rumors are flying that there's a Beverly Hills Cop 4 screaming toward the near horizon. No wonder, total box-office: $11,644.000.
Who takes it in the shorts? Murphy deserves the swiftest and hardest boot in the ass. But doesn't this guy have an agent? Allow me... Eddie, screw the BHC sequels and make a hard, down and gritty cop flick. Get a little drama and a little ass kicking in of your own and quit going for laughs. You can laugh all you want after you've got your dignity back.

The Rocker. (Fox, these guys must not exactly be geniuses.)
Here's a snapshot of Hollywood genius if I've ever seen one. Let's take Rainn Wilson, the goofy guy on NBC's The Office, and make him into the next Jack Black. We can even rip off the character in School of Rock, yeah, that'll make it more mindless to write and way easier to hype. Well kids, you pay for what you don't get and clearly nobody writing, directing or even considering putting money into The Rocker gets it. Or gets anything funny for that matter. And what they also aren't going to be getting is rich off the lame idea. This was one of the summer's worst and suitably held to be one of the summer's last. Bowing on a Wednesday, looking to build box-office and word of mouth into it's opening weekend, The Rocker rocketed to a number 13 spot in the box-office which by the end of the weekend had nailed down a 5 day take of, oops, $3,686,460. The worst opening number of the summer for a major studio wide release. In 2,784 theaters, The Rocker pulled in just $947. per screen. That's over 5 days. By this past Thursday, just 9 days into it's run, The Rocker was holding steady at number 17 on box-office charts and it's per theater take was a staggeringly embarrassing 70 bucks. Total box-office to date: $5,664.559.
Who takes it in the shorts? Take your pick. Everyone who thought of it, made it, appeared in it or saw it deserves to share the blame for being part of one of the worst projects in lame comedy history. Congratulations.

And that's a wrap, thank God. There were lousy movies and movies we rooted against that did just great, so we'll tip our hat and admit to being opinionated. But that's part of the fun of summer movies. We'll also remember seeing one of the most fun filled and sparklingly silly movies of the year in Mamma Mia, one of the classiest casting decisions of the year that went pure gold with Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance as Iron Man and being there on opening weekend for The Dark Knight, a memory that will carry as much legend as having been around for the opening weekend in 1977 for Star Wars. It was a good summer, but then, right at the heart of it, aren't they all?

Next up... get ready for Hollywood back-slapping to kick back into obnoxious hype mode as Award and Festival season descends. In the meantime, get out and see a movie.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Left spoiling in the summer heat. Part One.

Summer's almost at an end and if you're like me, you're just starting to reconcile yourself with wearing socks and shoes again. As for the movies, it's the end of Saturday afternoons as hot as the buttered popcorn and new releases that can scorch the weekend box-office. It's also goodbye, for the most part and just for now, to the high concept expectations that fell into a chill deeper than the bottom of the picnic soda barrel. Like most summer seasons, there were the big hits that should have been better movies - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, the big hits that earned every seat sold - Iron Man, Wall•e, the surprise hits - Mamma Mia, Sex and the City, the hits that were pretty much a miss - Get Smart, Hancock, a miss that so deserved to be a hit - Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, and a true Summer Blockbuster - The Dark Knight.

And then there are the movies that oh so deserved to be mega flops. Some did just fine, though I have to say that as of this writing, nothing I was rooting against has managed to scramble over the 100 million mark. But some, to my great joy and satisfaction sucked hot summer wind. Here's Part One of a list of the wrecks on the release track that brought a satisfied grin to my face.

Speed Racer. (Warner Bros.)
When I first wrote up a trailer review of Speed Racer on the Trailer Takes page of Moviedozer.com, I referred to the jerky (physics? who needs your stinkin' physics?) computer animation as being less than worthy of a lousy video game. Turns out it wasn't that someone rush released the effects footage for the trailer, it was done on purpose! Done and done in. The film popped onto screens in a skittle bag explosion of color between Iron Man and Indiana Jones and established itself as a primer for screwing up every possible element of making a movie. Audiences, in a display of collective wisdom, groaned. Box-office: $43,945,000. Doesn't sound so bad until you put it against the cost of marketing and an estimated $120,000,000 production budget.
Who takes in in the shorts? Directors, the Wachowski brothers from The Matrix fame, where they very likely have disappeared for a long rehab.

The Love Guru. (Paramount)
With nothing more than some Austin Powers like buffoonish characters and a bad retread of what looks like three minute sketch material, Mike Myers let his ego dance all over his respect for his audience (which he likes to tout with sickeningly false modesty as his "bosses"), and got what he deserved, ignored. From every trailer to every unfunny and ego saturated marketing appearance, Myers collapsed completely and proved he is nowhere near the talent that his Austin Powers box-office suggests. His "bosses" smartly responded by leaving The Love Guru's theaters empty and handing Paramount their only real failure of the summer. Total domestic Box-office: $32,190,000.
Who takes it in the shorts? Mr. Myers, who is reportedly hard at work on, can you guess, Austin Powers 4.

Star Wars: Clone Wars. (Warner Bros.)
We love our nutty Uncle George. We just do. Call it a guilty pleasure but while George Lucas has been happily losing his mind, he's become a hoot to keep track of. The man, who's tomb will surely be shaped like the Millennium Falcon, has set new standards for mining material from a single source. But George, at some point the shovel just has to hit bottom. Welcome to Star Wars: Clone Wars. This Fisher Price quality, video game- looking animation flick is an extended commercial for the animated (Cartoon Network) TV series of the same name. It's stellar Jedi Knight-like feat? It even kept Star Wars fan geeks away from theaters. It's also the first bona fide Star Wars named flop and not even the Death Star can blow a hole in a dynasty that big. Total box-office so far (it's still in release): $24,999.000.
Who takes it in the shorts? Warner Bros. who had the pleasure of having picked up Lucas Film distribution from 20th Century Fox.

There's more. We'll be back next time with the 2nd half of our list of summer celluloid that satisfyingly fizzled and flopped. You've been warned.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Today's word is "whatever" as in whatever it takes.

It only makes sense that since politicians tend to be such great storytellers - go spend twenty minutes fact checking a John McCain speech for a little proof - that storytellers, the professional kind, love politicians. Directors in particular seem to like making their political point by drawing broad examples on the silver screen. The New York Times' A.O. Scott just did a Critic's Pick featuring Frank Capra's classic State of the Union from 1948 to punctuate the fact that politicians from even as far back as McCain's twelfth birthday (McCain was born in 1936) were still being pressed to say and do anything to get elected. (Wonder if this might have been where McCain first got the idea?) The point is well made so we've included the NYT piece below:



Not one to let politics so ripe for satire and criticism slip by, director Oliver Stone is about to unleash his latest soapbox stand to theaters this fall. Stone's new project is simply titled W. Taking on a president who has a tough time with words, perhaps a title with just one letter is exactly right. Though the advance poster above puts it nicely with just a picture, the poster pictured below puts it into words - the President's own words. So as we prepare for the nation's political conventions, here's a thought... should we really be considering electing a President willing to say anything right after we've had a President who can barely say anything?

Whatever side you fall on, rock the vote and go make your own political statement this November. You can check out the trailer for W. by clicking here. And you can check out a much larger picture of the poster below by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Wednesday experiment, week 2.


Last week Hollywood tried something a little new in marketing a new release, they released two days early. Both Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers decided to take a shot at grabbing a summer audience that might be bored mid-week and opened their new releases Wednesday instead of waiting for the traditional release frame on Fridays. Of course the hope was to rake in lots of extra ticket sales and build word of mouth (and hype) for big nights on Friday and Saturday. Not a bad idea and one we commended last week as being an idea obvious enough that it's a little surprising it's not already the norm through the blockbuster weeks of summer.
Both pictures, Pineapple Express from Sony starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 from Warner starring Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera and Blake Lively, turned in respectable if not stellar numbers. In fact, on Wednesday, the day of release, both Express and Pants beat out The Dark Knight at the box-office with Express scoring 12 million over The Dark Knight's take of 5. Nice, but it wouldn't last and eventually The Dark Knight scored another big weekend (making it four in a row) and placed first, with Monday delivering weekend totals that put Express in the number two slot and Pants number 4 (Brendan Fraser's The Mummy sequel, still performing nicely in it's second weekend, scored the number 3 slot).

So does a Wednesday release work? The definitive answer will come this weekend with the Paramount/Dreamworks release of Ben Stiller's big budget "war movie in a satire flick" Tropic Thunder. In spite of multiple threats of boycotting from a few offended organizations, (much more on this will shortly be appearing over at our sister blog Satire is Reason), Tropic Thunder may wind up basking in the kismet of being a perfectly placed release. Not only will it have the joy to be reporting what I expect to be blockbuster 5 day numbers on Monday, I've got to go with the odds and say that Thunder will also be the flick to drop the Batman down to the number 2 weekend slot for the first time since it's release on July 18th. That extra bit of bragging rights, which most seemed to be assured would go to Pineapple Express this past weekend, and likely didn't due to the Wednesday release not building well into the weekend, will now go to Thunder which is far more likely to carry its momentum into the weekend and with it, enthusiastic word of mouth. And perhaps that's all appropriate as The Dark Knight can justly be called the best film of the summer and Tropic Thunder holds the promise of being the summer's funniest comedy.

We like the idea of Wednesday summer releases. We like the idea of Wednesdays becoming big events through the summer release schedule. Studios, theaters and audiences may find that separating big action and dopey comedy fare from more serious and adult fare between a Wednesday/Friday release pattern may even help to smooth things at the ticket counter, alleviate the trepidation adults can have for standing in long movie lines that have a decidedly young demographic and allow working adults a less crowded Friday night. It may even be a way to knock down the resistance many of us have to fighting opening weekend lines. We'll bet big time on Tropic Thunder having a strong night tonight and a great weekend. We'll also cover any bets on The Dark Knight again nailing down impressive 5th weekend numbers and in the process taking over the number 2 all-time US box-office slot from Star Wars as The Dark Knight passes the 461 million mark. It's all good and it's nice to see studios backing their releases with a little more confidence. Even in the face of misdirected boycotts and over emotional gut reactions. But that's another column on a different blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pineapple Express makes an early run for homegrown green.

Today is Wednesday. Plain old middle of the week, no special holiday coming Wednesday. Yet today there's a major new movie being released. Well at least Columbia Pictures hopes it's major. So does Judd Apatow Productions and Mr. Apatow's main partner in crime, Seth Rogan. Today is the release date for Pineapple Express, arguably the most blatantly hyped "stoner" movie since the days of Cheech and Chong and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982 if you want to know).
Is the world, or at least the part of it that goes to the movies, up for an out and out doper comedy? Apatow and Rogan are betting on it and have pulled together their usual antics in the pursuit of growing some of their own green. In interviews like the one that aired on AMC's Shootout, Rogan owns up to having drawn from personal experience to write the comedy and in this he appears completely credible. Though I grew past thinking these plot lines were funny well before Tommy and Cheech called it quits (that was some very funny sh_t), if you can wrap solid comedy around anything, I'm game. For me, the element that will suck me into a theater is Gary Cole, who may be one of the best dead pan funny guys since Dabney Coleman. OK, I'll get off of the dated references. It was Coleman who floored me in Will Ferrell's Talladega Nights, but I have to admit James Franco had me laughing in the trailers here. 

Most intriguing about Pineapple Express is it's Wednesday release. I have often wondered, given that two and three week old movies usually start showing weak numbers on Wednesday and Thursdays, why new summer films wait for Fridays to release. This makes Pineapple Express a possible marketing game changer. Funny or not, if the film clicks and turns in a huge five day number over what would have only been the traditional 3 day tally by Monday, Apatow and Rogan are going to look anything but high. Though that may be an accurate description of the direction of their bank accounts. We'll watch and wait. For our ticket expenses this week we'll be doing some catch up and perhaps a revisit to The Dark Knight. And if you want to laugh your ass off at 6 middle age actors cracking each other up, by all means get out and see Mamma Mia. But if dopes on dope is your ticket, suck in and hold, this is your Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Christmas in July.

With all of the hot days of summer still upon us and the biggest blockbuster of the year, The Dark Knight, saturating cinema screens with box-office heat, we thought a cool wind and a glimpse of the near future might be fun. And just so you don't think big action flicks are history after the temperatures begin to drop, there are a couple here that should keep the masses in check as they await the return of blockbuster season in 2009. (Which will boast movies titles like Terminator: Salvation, Star Trek (XI), Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Transformers 2, Up 3D (Pixar) and Night at the Museum 2.)
So here are the trailers that should put an extra shake in your snow globe. (Bet you'll use that somewhere.)

First up, a look at the remake of one of 1950's Science Fiction classics, The Day the Earth Stood Still starring Jennifer Connelly and Keanu Reeves. This trailer has the spotlight pick over on Moviedozer.com's Trailer Takes page in case you'd like to do some follow-up.



Next is one of the more unusual trailers we've been watching. This is the new Brad Pitt project that has lots of buzz and more than a bit of fantasy. This is a David Fincher project, the director behind Seven, The Fight Club and Zodiac. Throw in major support from the likes of Cate Blanchett,  Tilda Swinton and Julia Ormond and this film is set to dominate it's opening, just one week before Christmas. Here's the trailer for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.



For Christmas Day, the movie industry's gift goes to comic book fans. That's the release date for the much anticipated The Spirit (or Will Eisner's The Spirit). Looking a lot like the movie adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City but with perhaps a blast of even more atmospheric backgrounds, The Spirit has a lot to prove if it's going to edge it's way into blockbuster territory. This may be a look that grew old with only one flick. See what you think. Here's the most recent trailer:



We've just pitted The Spirit trailer against the Spring 2009 release of Watchmen over at Moviedozer in our Stacking the Odds feature. Click here to check it out.

To wrap things up, a few of you may be familiar with a story about a boy wizard that is about to conjure up it's 6th movie. Opening on screens all over the place the weekend before Thanksgiving is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.



In the meantime, there's still more summer ahead and though we're certain we've see the biggest film of the year with The Dark Knight, we're still expecting that the biggest comedy blockbuster is still waiting in the wings. That one hits like a misdirected smart bomb on August 13 with the release of Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder.

To check out larger and HD versions of these trailers you can check out the official movie sites at these links:





Special thanks to the folks at TrailerAddict.com for their trailer embed services.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight ignites the summer box-office.

We're back from vacation and we'll be catching up with Dailies over the next few days but the performance over the last ten days of Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight had to have  quick follow-up to the piece we wrote ten days. Most significant of the history set with The Dark Knight's release was it's stunning opening weekend piling up over 155 million in it's first three days. That beat out last year's performance of Spiderman 3 to become the largest opening ever at the American box-office. Other records that are falling by the way side: largest second weekend take (more than 75 mil.), a worldwide haul over opening weekend of 254 mil. was the largest ever and the fastest sprint to 300 mil. with The Dark Knight reaching the coveted mark in just ten days, beating the previous record of 16 days set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

The Dark Knight has also become the highest grossing US box-office film of the summer (and so likely the year) topping Iron Man's 314 million in just 11 days. A feat that Indiana Jones has been trying to do for the last two months, still without success.

We saw The Dark Knight in a unique setting, the Valley Brook Drive-in in Lyons Falls, NY. (A must-do part of our annual trek to the edge of the Adirondack State Park). Though a drive-in setting doesn't quite deliver state of the art screenings, it was still one hell of a ride and one which we'll be looking to repeat in a higher tech setting later this week.

We'll sum up with this. The Dark Knight is the best superhero based film (it seems a disservice to simply call this a superhero movie) we've ever seen. It's also one of the best action films we've ever seen and it's by far the best sequel. If you have even the slightest interest, go. You will be throughly entertained.