Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Art of the Trailer: the new Gravity trailer.

Hey, Moviedozer's still on hiatus while I'm busy putting together enough written pages to call the stack a book. But there's a brand new trailer that is just too good to pass up for a post.

The newest trailer from Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) for his latest project Gravity has just been released and it's quintessential trailer art.

Boasting a basically two person cast of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (in a role many critics are already saying will bring her another Oscar nom), director James Cameron has already called the film the best space movie ever made. I think you'll agree that the special effects appear to come closer than anything before in conveying a realistically believable sense of weightlessness. A neat trick after a generation of moviegoers has grown up with watching real space walks for decades on TV.

The trailer is neatly introduced, wonderfully filmed and edited with just enough of a feeling of vertigo to make the peril palpable. Lets just hope no one's planning to build a theme park thrill ride based on these scenes.

See for yourself and thanks for continuing to drop in on the blog. Here's the latest trailer for Gravity. (For a look at Gravity's earlier teaser trailer click here.)

Thanks to Warner Bros. Pictures for poster art and trailer access.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Moviedozer's on Hiatus.

SparxLab Projects, the parent of both and has recently entered into a new literary entertainment project. As a result, will be going on temporary hiatus as of this post. Although a return date hasn't yet been set, I hope you'll take this break to explore our archives and enjoy past columns. I've also stripped out all advertising to help clear the clutter from your reading.

Thank you for dropping by and spending time on these pages and those at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Turning Jeff Bridges' Seventh Son into a can't miss, Mega-Hit!

The first trailer is out for Warner Bros. January 2014 wide screen release of Seventh Son, which stars 6 time Academy Award nominated, and one time Oscar winning actor, Jeff Bridges.

The trailer teases at a medieval sword and sorcery tale that features Bridges as old but wise sage Master Gregory, assumedly enlisted to vanquish evil by tutoring a young apprentice.

The trailer speaks for itself, but suffice it to say, this is most definitely not a project I'd be betting my house, or a studio's budget on.

Take a look. What's your take?

But wait. I can play this Hollywood game with the best of them. There's a fix here to put at rest any trepidation anyone may feel about Seventh Son becoming the absolute biggest hit of 2014. And a sure path to banking a billion in home video downloads. And it's just so damn simple.

You simply take this guy...

And replace him with this guy...

There has never been a surer thing in Hollywood. I'd bet my house, my car and my sister's kids on it. And you very neatly already have actress Julianne Moore on board.

Imagine the Dude as an 18th century sorcerer guru. And the quest - to seek out the evil that stole the royal carpeting. You'd have to build a new bank to house all the excess cash. This is pure box-office gold.

"The Seventh Dude". I'd be the first in line for the IMAX 3D midnight preview. How about you?

Thanks to Warner Bros. and Polygram for trailers & art work.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Is it Monsters vs. Robots or a limited release weekend?

Yes, there are two wide releases debuting today.

For the last three days Moviedozer has presented featurettes for Pacific Rim, director Guillermo del Toro's part homage and part grand vision of what he always dreamt a giant monsters vs. giant robots movie should be.

If that tweaks the kid inside of you (or your own kids), Pacific Rim is the movie to see this weekend. Really psyched? Then hit it in IMAX 3D and enjoy one of summer's biggest popcorn movies.

You can go back through this past week's columns to watch the featurettes, then hit the links here,  here and here for posts that include trailers, poster art and everything Pacific Rim.

The second wide release is a textbook example of what happens when bad movies make big money. Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade reprise their roles in Grown Ups (grossing over $270 mil. since it's 2010 release), while basking in Sandler's penchant for gross-out humor with Grown Ups 2. Trailer not needed. If this is a ticket you're buying, you already know why you want to go. Just realize you're making it hard for the rest of us when we start debating whether Hollywood still makes great movies.

Which leaves us with a weekend filled with independent limited releases. Of the six or seven hitting theaters today, I've chosen three trailers to highlight with the first being Moviedozer's weekend pick.

Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)

A true story based on events that occurred on New Year's Eve in 2008, Fruitvale Station was a featured selection at this year's Sundance Film Festival. First time feature director Ryan Coogler fields a cast led by Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer.

The film was co-produced by actor Forest Whitaker. Fruitvale Station offers emotional, compelling drama and promises to be the "buzz" indy release as rolls out in limited release.

Pawn Shop Chronicles (Anchor Bay Films)

If broad comedy is on your to do list this week and you've already watched enough Adam Sandler repeats on cable, Pawn Shop Chronicles looks like a good bet to score a few laughs. With two caveats.

For one, Pawn Shop Chronicles seems like a really unfortunate choice for a title, far too close to sounding like a reality show rip-off on some obscure cable channel with no development budget. It's a title that could lose potential ticket buyers on first glance. Secondly, movies like these are exactly why subscribing to Hulu and Netflix seems so appealing.

Nonetheless, there's just enough unabashed craziness here to score a look-see and I'm not above recommending any comedy that counts Matt Dillion in its cast, sight unseen.

Killing Season (Millennium Films)

Not to immediately put a negative light on it, but I'm including Killing Season in today's post because of its cast. John Travolta and Robert De Niro are the only reasons I can imagine Killing Season could possibly draw an audience. I've included the trailer, so if you're at all inclined to buy a ticket to see either or both of these actors work their craft, perhaps you'll think again.

What's most troubling about Killing Season is Robert De Niro, slowly, but oh so steadily, allowing his stellar early career triumphs to turn to stone in the form of a statue honoring bad movies. One can imagine a Rocky-like figure of granite on the trashiest corner of hollywood, covered in graffiti, a palm out for the check, script be damned.

I join every other fan of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Casino, A Bronx Tale, Goodfellas, The Deer Hunter, The King of Comedy and Once Upon A Time in America, (it's a list as impressive as it is long, feel free to add your own favorites), in hoping for just one more project that will earn this man an Oscar run.

In the meantime, you have Killing Season to wrap your head around. Along with John Travolta's stilted Serbian accent.

As always, thanks to the studios and production companies for trailers and poster art.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Pacific Rim featurettes: On the set.

Pacific Rim's director, Guillermo del Toro puts it this way, "The action in the movie is what you would have dreamt to see when you were 11-yrs-old. It is really, really a great adventure movie.".

So is it non-stop action and battle sequences throughout? Count on it. Is it wall to wall over-the-top visual and sonic effects? Of course. Do you know the ending? Did you know the ending when you saw Rocky? When you saw Toy Story? When you saw The Wizard of Oz?

Has Guillermo del Toro wandered into Michael Bay territory (the Transformers franchise) and let lose with robots, explosions and destruction without his own vision for what epic action-adventure can be? Should be? Hardly.

If there's only one thing to be drawn from these featurettes it should be the enthusiasm and passion del Toro feels for this project. He's not focused on how big the explosions can be or what famous landmarks can be digitally dismembered. You don't have the sense that the director is a kid in an elaborate sandbox as much as a master filmmaker in complete charge of his craft. (But you'll also sense that that kid is never too far from the director's ideas.)

It's the care and effort expended in creating "practical" on set realities to best capture the movie's unique reality, that is so much a part of his story. He's invited the audience to be immersed in the making-of while being versed in the creative impulses that fuel the "making-why".

The scale of the sets, the detailing, the richness, all service story. And there is a story here. A story that implies a history, a mission to be achieved and the risks of both failure and success. Yes, this is a monster movie. Likely a film already relegated to Oscar's special effects, sound and editing categories only.

It's not a 50's something date night movie. And it's not bound to be the darling of the critics crowd. But oh, if you remember being a kid with a wild imagination, I think it looks like one helluva ride. A ride, as per the times, also available in IMAX and 3D.

Here's the final featurette in this series. Moviedozer will be back with a look at the weekend movies tomorrow.

Thanks to Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures for trailers and poster art.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Pacific Rim featurettes: The Jaegers (the robots).

With Guillermo del Toro's mega monster movie Pacific Rim hitting theaters on Friday, Moviedozer is continuing to present a short series of the director's best featurettes each day before its release.

Today's trailer focuses on the giant robots, called "Jaegers", that countries around the globe create as a last ditch defense against the monsters that have been ravaging the planet. In Pacific Rim's story, that effort is international in scope, resulting in robots that look different and utilize individualized defenses.

As with the variety of monsters attacking Earth, the robots sent into service to defend it show a creativity not often associated with big lizard monster movies. In what could have been a standard retread of an old idea, Pacific Rim instead shows surprising originality polished with first class, state-of-the-art tech.

Credit director del Toro with creating an original film that pays passionate homage to Japanese "Kaiju" (the Japanese word for "monster") movies in the same way that Quentin Tarantino pays homage to Chinese martial arts movies and spaghetti westerns.

If you're open to allowing yourself the joy of slipping back into your pre-teen past and relishing the fantasies you entertained while immersed in monster toys, comic books and old movies, you'll find yourself as engaged in Pacific Rim as the director appears to have been in making the movie. And isn't that feeling at the very core of what summer popcorn movies should be all about?

Here's a sneak peek at the Jaegers of Pacific Rim.

Thanks to Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures for trailers and poster art.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Pacific Rim featurettes: The Kaiju (the monsters).

Perhaps the biggest popcorn movie of summer, at least in scale of its creations, is just a few days from being unleashed into wide release. Pacific Rim, directed by master filmmaker and monster aficionado Guillermo del Toro, is scheduled for U.S. release this Friday and promises to make past Godzilla movies look like a warm up act in nearly every part of its production.

Admittedly aiming to create a film that would fulfill an "11-yr-old's" fantasy of a fantastic monster movie, del Toro's efforts may have resulted in a movie that is so heart-felt in its passion to entertain, that it succeeds, even in a climate of the big budget, yet run-of-the-mill spectacular "tent-poles", that have become summer staples.

Opening just days after Disney had its creative head handed to it with a resounding thud that even Johnny Depp couldn't soften, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures have nonetheless got their sights set on creating a summer franchise.

Not since Peter Jackson's production diaries for last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has their been such a wealth of insight released in the form of director's featurettes as for Pacific Rim

Though some may want to save all of the revelations for this weekend's debut, I think the need for spoiler alerts would be a bit over cautious. This is, after all, a gigantic, Earth-pounding monster movie. Audiences know what they're in for.

So today, and for the rest of this week, Moviedozer is presenting the most interesting of Pacific Rim's production featurettes, along with some truly effective poster art. Enjoy the posts. We'll see you on Friday to catch you up on all of the weekend releases.

Thanks to Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures for trailers and poster art.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Lone(ly) Ranger or Don't serve your "bread and butter" as the second course.

Here are the numbers people like Robert Iger (Disney's CEO), Jerry Bruckheimer (The Lone Ranger's Producer) and Gore Verbinski (The Lone Ranger's Director) are trying to wrap their heads around today (all in millions):


In order, that's about the size of The Lone Ranger's production budget followed by about the size of The Lone Ranger's marketing budget followed by about what The Lone Ranger pulled in at the box-office in the last five days. All followed by the chances of ever seeing Johnny Depp wearing crow's feathers in a movie wig again.

And here's today's safest bet in Hollywood - Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer will not be making a reboot of Disney's John Carter of Mars.

Here's a quick quiz to see if you have the makings of a bigtime movie producer:

Q. Who is the movie star in the following list:
a. Johnny Depp
b. Armie Hammer
c. the horse

Disney execs, still waiting for The Lone Ranger money train.
If you chose a. Johnny Depp, you would be right. And therefore likely to cast your movie star in a role that would let audiences know that your movie star is indeed the star of your movie.

If you picked either b or c, you would therefore have bet a 1/4 million dollar budget on the hopes that your audiences would accept that your star is starring in a "buddy" style movie, sharing his role with a second star equal to his or her own stature, leveraging a rare screen opportunity to see two of your favorite stars together in an onscreen blockbuster.

In this case however, the second star's name would not be as obscure as Armie Hammer, nor have four legs and a tail.

There is some good news. If you picked b or c, you still likely qualify for a gig with Disney Studios. At least until the news breaks on just how much of a stock write-down is looming before the end of the fiscal year.

How about this as a title: "Tonto and the Lone Ranger"? Just maybe things would have been clearer? As in, yeah, it's a Johnny Depp movie. But then again, there wasn't likely much to mistake last year's Dark Shadows (Warner Bros) as anything but a Johnny Depp movie. Anyone up for investing in any nostalgic television big screen remakes right about now?

And so, while Disney's summer train of movie hits spirals catastrophically off the tracks and into the ravine of modern movie westerns, here's another bet you can make bank on...

I'll call it the second safest bet in Hollywood today - Pirates of the Carribean 5 is no longer a guarantee.

Mr. Depp, time to rediscover your dramatic roots and fire a few of the make-up staff. Dreadlocks and feathers seem to have fallen desperately out of fashion.

Movie stills courtesy of Disney Studios. I figured most of you haven't ever seen them before.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Disney goes for a summer trifecta with The Lone Ranger.

Disney's movie studio division may have lifted their Anaheim theme park's title for the summer and become the Happiest Place on Earth.

The studio's first blockbuster release, Iron Man 3, on May 3rd has become 2013's most successful film with more than $1.2 billion in ticket sales (already placing it at #5 in all time worldwide box-office). Meanwhile, Monster's University has been in the #1 box-office slot since its release more than 10 days ago and has already accumulated more than $300 million in sales.

You have to believe that Disney wouldn't mind seeing that number one position fall to its release today of The Lone Ranger. Disney's got lots of reasons to be shooting up some fireworks this week.

The Lone Ranger, as about everyone by now knows, stars Johnny Depp as Tonto, reuniting him with his Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. Along for the ride as the masked Lone Ranger is Armie Hammer, assuming a role that will make previous outings in Mirror, Mirror (as Prince Alcott) and The Social Network (as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss), not much more than future trivia questions.

With Universal's Despicable Me 2, the only other wide release this weekend (and reviews that suggest the original, which is airing on cable if it's not already among your kids stack of DVDs, is far more fun), The Lone Ranger's only real competition are the substantial box-office remnants of this season's big releases. Led by last weekend's strong performance of The Heat, with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, you can also add World War Z, Man of Steel, Now You See Me, Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek: Into Darkness and Iron Man 3, to a list of movies that are still pulling in large audiences and are still vying for screen space in your local cineplex.

So this weekend's pick comes a couple of days early in honor of The Lone Ranger's Wednesday release date and a mid-week U.S. holiday.

Moviedozer's best bet?, take advantage of the five day stretch ahead and get out to see The Lone Ranger and at least one other hit you've missed. Summer's in full swing and there's nothing better than a great summer night at the movies.

Since The Lone Ranger is an origins movie of sorts, I thought you might like to see how television introduced him back in 1949. So here's the movie's trailer (you can catch a second trailer for The Lone Ranger here), followed by the first episode of TV's The Lone Ranger, starring Clayton Moore as Lone Ranger and Jay Silverheels as Tonto.

And, incidentally, you'll also discover the very literal way the phrase "cliffhanger" began. Enjoy.

How a safe and happy fourth and a great time at the movies.

Thanks to Disney Studios for poster art and trailers. The Lone Ranger television series appeared on ABC television from 1949 to 1957. Many of the episodes are still available online.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Before the fireworks: The Heat, Copperhead and White House Down.

It's Friday and that means it's time to decide if you're going to try to catch a first run release before hitting the barbecues next week.

It also means that it's the weekend for making all of the Fourth of July references in movie reviews, so you may as well brace yourself now. You'll be reading about the barrage of White House Down "fireworks" and how the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat is hotter than a "sizzling summer grill", throughout the next week.

I'll spare you all of that and just give you the bottom-line. It's one you already know. If you're drawn to seeing White House Down, very little, I should think, is going to get you to buy a ticket for a girl buddy-cop movie. If on the other hand you're heading to the movies to see Bullock and McCarthy cut up with near perfect balance as a comedy team, one that will surely, actresses schedules permitting, spawn a sequel, I'd be betting big time that White House Down may not even qualify for a future Netflix queue.

And of course, if you're worn out with summer star vehicles on just the second weekend of the summer, but you're a died in the wool movie fan, you'll be off chasing down the elusive limited release.

In that order, here are the weekend's choices. I'll go with The Heat. Advance reviews are great and the thought of watching Washington DC decimated by terrorists is just too depressing.

The Heat looks like a win/win with two actresses who have impeccable timing, established comedic credentials and big fan bases. I think it could top the weekend numbers.

White House Down has been a topic on the pages of Moviedozer in the past, both for its poster campaign and its unapologetic, seemingly gleeful take on destroying Washington DC in a terrorist attack. (See here and here.)

Director Roland Emmerich is a true master in his chosen genre and advance word is that Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum have a surprising amount of chemistry on the screen. It all makes for a movie better than not and a weekend that might prove very good to Sony/Columbia and to both actor's movie careers.

The trailer that follows is the extended version that should either have you salivating for more or convinced you've seen more than you needed to. Enjoy.

If you're dismissing The Heat as a chick-flick and White House Down as more of the same, the independent release that caught my eye this weekend is a modest historical piece with both an appealing cast and a solid dramatic underpinning to a historical pivot point in this nation's civil war. Copperhead offers drama that carries to today in theme and, when put in context against developing democracies and destructive dictatorships, feels perfectly timed.

Copperhead leads its cast with Billy Campbell and then surrounds him with credible actors that include Peter Fonda and Angus Macfadyen. The film is directed by Ronald F. Maxwell (Gettysburg, Gods and Generals), from the novel by Harold Frederic.

Have a safe and Happy July 4th no matter where in the world you live.

Thanks to 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Sony Pictures and Brainstorm Media for trailers and poster art.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cuddly or rabid, it's a Monster weekend.

If Sulley and Mike (of Monsters University) really want to go to scare school, they might want to go to the movies themselves this weekend and take a few lessons from Brad Pitt.

That's because Pitt's (who stars in and grabs a producer's credit) World War Z is the first big budget feature to understand what makes zombies scarier than ever before - an ability to outrun you. When dead people who want to consume you can chase you down by running and climbing, faster and farther - after all, they're not pestered by leg cramps or running out of breath - they tend to take on a new degree lethality. Add an apparent ability to think and plot en masse and... well, meet zombie 2.0.

Watching the lead-up to today's release of World War Z has been a little like witnessing the evolution of a staple monster genre. How is it that someone has finally made these things aggressive instead of just slow but relentless? And clever instead of, well, brain dead?

It all makes for a great action monster pic and that makes it the Moviedozer pick for the weekend. Here's the latest trailer. And be sure to listen for that last warning in the dialogue.

If you or your kids are more inclined to take your scares with a one eyed wink and a nod and lots of blue fur, save the zombie war for a future late night download and take the kids to Disney/Pixar's Monsters University. I can promise that the laughs will outnumber the scares by a long shot.

Unfortunately, I can also promise that you've seen it all before. In fact, likely tons of times before, while the kids sit glued to their Pixar videos. But that's a little different than plunking down the money to see it again, for the first time, in a movie theater.

Monsters University has plenty going for it and Disney knows it. I suspect that I can count myself in the first wave of Pixar fans growing a bit restless and annoyed that Pixar's genius has been "Disney'd" into a sequel house.

Not that Pixar sequels aren't still enormously entertaining (Toy Story 3 was brilliant), but it smacks of an increasing loss of vision. I'll remind you that I said that on the weekend of August 9th. That's when Disney's Pixar spins it's Cars franchise (which already has a sequel) into Planes. Given all of the modes of transportation on the planet, there's an enormous potential trend for lots of lazy movies getting made.

But for those who still find the charm in Disney's money grab - here's a look at the latest trailer for Monsters University.

Have a great weekend at the movies.

Thanks to Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios for trailers and poster art.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 pt.2: the Summer's best Movie bets from July thru September.

2013's number one. So far.
With just days before summer becomes official, some movie studios are already celebrating summer box-office success stories.

Disney's Marvel has once again gone to the well that is Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man and pulled another plus billion dollar ($1.2b at last count) hit from their 2009 acquisition of Marvel and its bursting vault of intellectual property.

Fast & Furious 6 proved that audiences still love a thrill ride, with the latest in that franchise already crossing $600 million since its late May release.

And though the Man of Steel has a hard time saying the word "super", his studio doesn't (and neither does his new director). The highly anticipated reboot of Superman broke the all time record for a June weekend release (beating out 2010's Toy Story 3 opening) and just two days later, has already soared past $150 million.

I know what you're thinking - so what's next? And right on cue, here's what studios and independents have in store for you throughout the popcorn days and nights of summer.

July's Best Bets

The wide-release pick: The Lone Ranger. (Disney, 7/3)
Disney's hoping to rule Summer as they've ruled Spring. And if you work for anyone making movies other than the house that Mickey built, you're about to be reminded that Robert Downey, Jr. was the sequel to Johnny Depp. The really bad news is that Depp's wearing feathers instead of dreadlocks this time out - which means that if The Lone Ranger succeeds, Disney's just launched a new Johnny Depp franchise. Success isn't even in question here, only how big is big. The Lone Ranger opens wide on July 4th weekend.

Competing for your attention:
Lots of wide releases will be fighting for ticket sales, but none with bigger robots than director Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (scheduled for release on July 12th, Moviedozer past posts here, here and here.) Pacific Rim promises to be everything you ever dreamed a summer movie should be if you were ever a nine year old obsessed with comic books and monster toys. And if you're that nine year old now, or a parent of one - Universal's second outing with the minions of Despicable Me fame (cleverly titled Despicable Me 2, and scheduled for a July 3rd release), is lined up to give Disney a run for the animated summer crown.

Limited releases have to work hard to grab summer screen space but July will be offering at least three releases that appear to be worth expending some effort to find. In order of their releases, you might want to watch for: The Way Way Back (7/5), written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and showcasing standout performances by Sam Rockwell and its young star Liam James, against a very impressive ensemble cast; Girl Most Likely (7/19), starring Kristen Wiig, Matt Dillon and Annette Bening; and Blue Jasmine (7/26), written and directed by Woody Allen with a cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K..

August's Best Bets

The wide-release pickElysium. (Sony, 8/9)
Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp who also wrote and directed 2009's surprise hit District 9, Elysium stands out as August's big action sic-fi adventure. Though by the time of its release some will have likely had their fill of big action adventurers, in or out of space. For those of you game, this one offers both Matt Damon and Jodi Foster to head up the cast and plays on Blomkamp's now familiar looks of a beaten down, abandoned planet. In this case the haves have left the have nots for a space based utopia called Elysium - where trouble, ultimately, will follow.

Competing for your attention:
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg team up, a week before Elysium opens, for a "who's the cops - who's the robbers caper called 2 Guns (8/2) that plays the buddy pic for both action and laughs. Wahlberg's comic timing is its own force to be reckoned with, while the plot holds the promise of enough twists to keep things from getting ordinary. You'll have to wait until the end of the month to catch Closed Circuit (8/28), an international terrorist chase set in London starring Eric Bana, Julia Stiles, Rebecca Hall, Ciarán Hinds and Jim Broadbent.

There's lots more in store for summer's later half. For comedy you can check out We're the Millers (8/9) with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, Kick-Ass 2 (8/16) with Chloë Grace Moretz's return as Hit Girl, this time accompanied by Jim Carrey, and The World's End (8/23) which proves to Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg and friends, that reliving the old days can be more challenging then one may imagine.

Also of interest in August is Paranoia (8/16) where hi-tech collides with high stakes corporate spying in the companies of Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. Nicholas Cage finds himself chasing down John Cusack across The Frozen Ground (8/23) and writer/director Brain De Palma returns to the big screen directing Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in Passion (8/30).

September's Best Bets

The wide-release pickRush(Universal, 9/20)
What better thing to do on the very last weekend of summer than to bask in the roar of vintage Formula One cars in Ron Howard's latest directorial effort. The true-life story of the legendary 1970's racing rivalry between F1 poster boy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and racing purist Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is said to have been so realistically filmed that director Howard counts it as his most stressful film project to date. The results should bring a much needed jolt to racing as a sport and may influence lots of American sports fans to embrace F1's new found presence in American auto racing.

Competing for your attention:
The stereotype of "ugly Americans" in Europe gets a boost when a mob family gets witness protection tickets for a relocation to France in The Family (9/13). Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, The Family is directed and co-written by Moviedozer favorite Luc Besson.

Justin Timberlake goes off looking to get a return on a bad bet and winds up in front of Ben Affleck in Runner, Runner (9/27). Set in the world of online gambling's mecca, Costa Rica, there's some on screen chemistry between the stars and enough plot intrigue to pull you into a late summer cineplex, with Affleck returning to his slick, polished whatever-it-takes-to-win persona that feels like a welcome throwback to films like Boiler Room and Changing Lanes.

Also of note in September is Vin Diesel's return as the bad-ass who can see in the dark in Riddick (9/6) and Danny Trejo's return as the bad-ass who's name is his weapon in Machete Kills (9/13). Machete Kills surrounds Trejo with an enormous cast of known names including Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, Charlie Sheen (billed here as Carlos Estevez), Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr., Edward James Olmos and, wait for it... Lady Gaga.

And just for a touch of nostalgia, you may want to watch for a special 75th anniversary engagement of the original Wizard of Oz, remastered and slated to come to IMAX theaters in 3D on September 20th.

Release information from and Poster art curtesy of their studios. Release dates are based on North American distribution.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Forget Zod, today Superman is going up against a Hogwarts wizard.

The long awaited reboot of Superman as the Man of Steel has come and the fiercest foe Clark Kent is facing may not be the one in his own movie.

This weekend Superman squares off against a real wizard. A top-of-the-class Gryffindor (as in Harry Potter) wizard. Emma Watson, who played Harry's compatriot Hermione Granger through eight movies, appears in not one but two competing films which should, at the least, convince teen females to break their dates and hang with their girlfriends this weekend.

Not that I'm expecting The Bling Ring to be krypton to Man of Steel's chances for a number one weekend, but its director, Sophia Coppola, has established serious credibility coming into her 5th film as a director.

That cred includes a real movie superhero, the man of gold called Oscar. With a 2004 win for her screenplay of Lost In Translation, which also earned her nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, Sophia Coppola is well on her way to building a serious director's résumé. This time out, the film is also as topical as a celebrity tweet with its true-story retelling of a group of LA friends who decide it might be a kick to break-in to the homes of a few of their favorite celebs.

And if the girls can't convince their dates to skip Superman for a girls-gone-rogue romp, they may be able to sway them past Man of Steel and into a theater showing how some real life moviestars might handle the end of the world in This is the End. Really.

It's not much more than an extended internet video bit in concept, but then along comes Emma Watson wielding an ax and all comedy breaks loose. If for nothing more than being in on the first weekend of seeing Ms. Watson threatening Jonah Hill and James Franco with apocalyptic dismemberment, This is the End may well be a solid reason for saving Man of Steel for a future online rental queue.

Though I'm not convinced Man of Steel will be the Superman I was waiting and hoping for (click here), I'm convinced that it will have a more than respectable weekend by both scoring a number one at the box-office and spawning the sequel films with these budgets are desperate for.

But as for a pick - I've got to go with watching Emma Watson, all grown up and carrying an ax.

The trailers for all three new releases are below. Make your own pick and get out to the movies this weekend.

And for all of you Dads - Happy Father's Day.

The Moviedozer pick: This is the End.

Man of Steel:

The Bling Ring:

Thanks to Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and A24 for trailers and poster art.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey: a tribute.

These are the blockbuster days of the summer box-office season. The tentpole days of action and adventure that spur ticket sales, popcorn consumption and sequel fever in studio offices and marketing departments throughout every corner of Hollywood.

Already this year we've seen Iron Man 3 reach 1.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales and Fast & Furious 6 and Star Trek: Into Darkness enter into the top five of the 2013 box-office. Still on the way are giant robots created to take on monster invaders in Pacific Rim, the rebirth of the western as a Johnny Depp frolic in The Lone Ranger, and the reboot of DC's most classic of classic superheroes with the Man of Steel (just a day away).

Before summer has even officially begun, the season has already commandeered 3 of the top 5 spots in this year's most successful films.

Director Stanley Kubrick with cast
on the surface of the moon.
But if you're like me, you still yearn for the smart intrigue, bold vision and groundbreaking filmmaking of THE science fiction film of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Released by MGM with 1968 premiers in Washington DC, New York City and Los Angeles on April 2, 3 and 4th successively, 2001: A Space Odyssey went continued with openings all over the world through the remainder of 1968 and into the early months of 1969. Since its first American rerelease in 1974, the masterwork of Stanley Kubrick has gone through a series of festival showings and studio rereleases that has continued as recently as last year.

On a reported budget of $10½ million, a reported North American domestic box-of just under $57 million doesn't put it in the ranks of today's blockbusters, but there has never been a more influential film set in space. And that includes everything Star Wars.

Here's a fascinating look at 2001: A Space Odyssey, published by, that sets the landmark film against the real life canvas of our history of science and space exploration.

Find out about '2001: A Space Odyssey
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration is a fascinating place to spark your own ideas about adventure. Add them to your bookmarks and visit often.

Friday, June 7, 2013

This Weekend: Crash the System.

There are two major wide releases opening this weekend. They've both appeared on Moviedozer before - The Internship (click here), little more than product placement as moviemaking 101, and The Purge (click here), a ridiculous premise that pretends to be substantive social commentary while being not much more than a test concept for its studio's Halloween theme park event.

This is clearly a weekend for movie fans to catch up on past releases, hit the Netflix queue or zone in on TCM for a refresher course in the classics.

It's also a weekend to ponder how so many bad movies get made. Lazy, gutless movie executives? Risk adverse public companies that just happen to be in a creative business? Path-of-least-resistance moviemaking? What's the deal?

One of the most infuriating questions in creative communities, "With so much amazing talent out there, how can bad scripts still get made into movies?" pulls focus to the darkest side of Hollywood - the gated, high-walled castle that throws unrepresented talent into the moat.

And of course the irony that the talent shunned by established producers and studios is potentially the talent that could be breaking the most exciting projects and trends in the business.

So this weekend Moviedozer will take its inspiration from The Internship's own poster campaign. It's an idea for the masses and perfect for this time of social connectivity - Crash the System.

If you're scrolling through your favorite movie app, searching for something to see this weekend, click out of the app and click open your email. Take a minute, or 5 or 10, and write to a studio. Write to a director, an actor, a producer. It doesn't have to be a complaint - instead pick one you respect. Give someone who calls the shots in the movie business a bit of audience feedback. Good or bad, it's up to you.

The point is that ticket sales aren't the only way to tell a studio what you think. Consider yourself recruited into a giant focus group and get your voice heard and your feelings known. If you don't get to make the movies, grab a chance to influence the movies that get made. Who knows what may follow.

If you want to start with the two movies opening today, here's some information. As for researching other email addresses and contact info, try Google (there's something poetic about that). The effort will surely be worth the pain you'll avoid by paying to see a bad movie.

The Internship:
Studio - Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp:,

Stars - Vince Vaughn: Creative Artists Agency,
Owen Wilson: United Talent Agency,,

Director/Producer - Shawn Levy: Company-21 Laps/Adelstein Productions. Agency-William Morris Endeavor:

The Purge:
Studio - Universal Pictures:

Stars - Ethan Hawke: Creative Artists Agency,
Lena Headey: Troika,,, Creative Artists Agency,

Director - James DeMonaco: United Talent Agency,,

Producers - Michael Bay: Companies-Platinum Dunes, Bay Films. Agency-William Morris Endeavor,
Jason Blum: Blumhouse Productions.
Andrew Form: Platinum Dunes. Agency-William Morris Endeavor,
Bradley Fuller: Platinum Dunes. Agency-William Morris Endeavor,
Sebastian Lemercier: Why Not Productions,,

Of course, don't leave Moviedozer off your list. The comment link below is always open. And here's hoping for at least a touch of creative excellence in the movies headed our way in the weekends ahead.

Thanks to Universal and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. for poster art.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Do you believe the Man of Steel can fly?

If you believe the posters, you believe the Man of Steel can not only fly, but fly faster than movies have ever shown before. And while that may make nifty looking poster art, Warner Bros and director Zack Snyder are desperate for you to believe that this Superman won't be just a blip on your radar screen.

In a world of sequels post the discovery that "rebooting" can extend the life of potentially any movie franchise, DC Comic's Superman is getting yet another reincarnation as a movie star. If you're pondering why, try to name the actor that donned the red cape in Bryan Singer's 2006 Superman Returns. Go ahead, I'll wait.

How about Lois Lane?, Perry White?, Jimmy Olsen? (ok, now I'm just being cruel). Lex Luther? - Yes, Lex was played by Kevin Spacey; ironically the most memorable presence was created by the actor who would likely most want you to forget he was in the movie. (No need to hit IMDb, the cast is listed at the bottom of this post.)

If you're looking for a clue at how resounding a flop Superman Returns was, look no further than the fact that the name Superman seems persona non grata anywhere near Man of Steel's marketing department. Then take a good look at the trailers. What's happening here, outside of the fact that Clark Kent can no longer even bring himself to utter the word "super",  is moviemaking by trend. Trending that follows box-office, reviews, awards show chatter and studio heads frozen with insecurity, while paying no attention at all to story, direction or the t-word - "talent".

The result - every movie studio's reserve super power, the reboot*. (*re-boot: to redo what has been done before, but deferent, so at least the people ponying up the budget can convince shareholders that there's actually something different about the same old thing. i.e. Batman into The Dark Knight, Star Trek 1 thru 6 into Star Trek 7-10 into J.J. Abrams' Star Trek, even Greek History into Zack Snyder's 300.)

The thing is, when "reboots" work, and they do, it's got nothing to do with rebooting and everything to do with making a fresh, entertaining movie using resources previously squandered by bad scripts, bad directors, bad casting and bad moviemaking.

Superman Returns was bad moviemaking. Man of Steel won't fix that or make you forget if it too is bad moviemaking. Admittedly, Superman is tough material - camp, silly and dated. The one Superman that still soars is the first. Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glen Ford and Valerie Perrine, directed by Richard Donner with a sense of respect to the original material and a sense of fun about itself, that no other superhero movie has matched. Goofy, yes - but reread those old comics and imagine otherwise.

Yes, the comic-book Superman has changed, but moviemaking is still about story, and in these summers of superhero movies plastered from April to August, if you don't bring original ideas to the table, perhaps you should just bring the original movies?

Man of Steel, as directed by Zack Snyder (notorious for the nearly unwatchable Watchmen (Warner Bros., 2009) and the over-hyped, but appropriately named nonsense of Sucker Punch (Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures 2011) tries to get some altitude back into Superman on June 14th (U.S.). My gut is that if you look up into the sky that weekend, you may only hear the sound of a superhero sputtering back to earth.

The cast of "Superman Returns" starred Brandon Routh as Superman, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, Frank Langella as Perry White, Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen, and of course Kevin Spacey as arch-bad guy Lex Luthor. Thanks to Warner Bros. Pictures for trailers and posters.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Stock sci-fi FX or or a little scripted Magic? It's a low key weekend for new releases.

Two wide screen releases. Two successful but spotty directors. Two casts that don't have the advantage of an embedded fan base. And two options for opening weekend movies that don't offer much more than their trailers to entice an audience.

Though they may be after decidedly different target demographics, After Earth and Now You See Me may benefit most from having very different appeal. Still, if you're simply a movie fan, is this a weekend of new releases that you can get excited about?

For me, though the effects appear to be competent yet too familiar, and the production values high, as they should be expected to be, After Earth feels derivative and stale before its even past its 2½ minutes of trailer time. Can the story sustain itself for a feature length presentation in the face of a "been there, done that" pall that most certainly will divert attention if the movie doesn't keep you riveted to the screen from start to finish?

In the least little lapse of story, will you keep thinking about the fact that that young man on the screen is Will Smith's son (a risky movie on his Dad's part that could break a young actor's career in either direction), or will the story keep you focused on a the battle of survival that challenges a young man's long held fears?

After Earth may have found its answer in its own tag line: "Danger is real, Fear is a choice." I noted that line when I saw After Earth's first trailer and it's gratifying that the producers put it in bold text over their last poster. Over director, stars and production values, it may well be the movie's greatest asset. So this is the weekend to decide - will you pay to see After Earth? (Check out Moviedozer's first take on After Earth here, along with it's most recent trailer here.)

If you're heading toward a cineplex, likely playing in the theater next door to After Earth is a film I picked as offering one of the more original story lines of this summer's blockbuster contenders, Now You See Me.

Though advance reviews aren't exactly magical, the promising premise is coupled with an appealing cast. That combination may be just enough to elevate it to the more successful of this weekend's wide releases.

Where After Earth's marketing has included two trailers and a few assorted clips, Now You See Me hasn't shied away from promotion, offering a slew of trailers, clips and promos, plus one this season's best poster designs. A sign, I think, that Summit Entertainment is a bit more sure than Sony (After Earth's distributer), that they have a product worth promoting.

Since you'll be clicking back into past articles to watch After Earth trailers, I thought I'd include a couple of TV Spots, followed by a clip of the film's first four minutes of Now You See Me below, while the most recent feature trailer can be seen hereNow You See Me is Moviedozer's pick for new weekend releases.

Have a great weekend at the movies.

Thanks to Sony/Columbia and Summit Entertainment.