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.