Saturday, February 17, 2007

Music and Lyrics Review

Director Marc Lawrence's Music and Lyrics is one of those modern pop sensations that has their moment in the spotlight only to fade away into history, never to be heard from again.

Now, before I begin this review, let me tell you that I'm a fairly big Hugh Grant fan. I'm not sure if it's his constant use of irony or his British descent, or a mixture of both, but there's something about the veteran actor that amuses me no matter what picture he's in. This applies in Music and Lyrics as Mr. Grant plays yet another ironic and amusing character, unfortunately he isn't enough to keep this movie entertaining.

Grant plays Alex Fletcher, a has-been pop artist from the late 80s who has since been forgotten. He meets a girl who fails at watering plants, Drew Barrymore, and his luck improves, they fall in love, they have a falling out, there's a montage about how lonely they are without each other, and then they get back together and seal it with a kiss. Sound familiar? Sounds like I just vomited in my mouth a little bit.

I don't hate romantic movies, or comedies, I just hate the romantic comedy genre. Instead of focusing on creating great films they all aim for mediocrity. They fill themselves with cliche archetype characters, the same plot structure, a completely far-fetched quirk to get the story moving, and the same ending, EVERY TIME. Some film buffs defend the genre saying they are good for a laugh or a brainless night at the movies but I disagree; I think the reason that romantic comedies are so popular is because they are easy. Easy to spot and easy to attend as the audience knows exactly what's in store for them when the lights dim and the projector starts rolling. I just wish films in the genre threw a few more curve balls to spice things up.

Music and Lyrics isn't all bad though. For starters, it features a ton of original music that's sung during the film, progressing the plot and breaking up otherwise monotonous scenes similar to a musical. Also, both Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant sang their own vocals, which adds to the authenticity of the picture. There are also quite a few dance numbers that, while not grand in scale, are least semi-amusing.

Unfortunately the film's flaws outweigh the strong positives. For starters, almost all of the comedy in the movie falls flat on its face. I heard very few laughs from the packed theatre I was in and you could tell that the audience was yearning for a hint of comedy that never fully developed. The movie also establishes conflict only to abandon it, making the story feel incomplete even after the final kiss.

If you're a huge fan of romantic comedies you may enjoy Music and Lyrics but otherwise, even if you're a fan of Hugh Grant as I am, you'll most likely be disappointed.

Have you seen Music and Lyrics? What did you think of it? Post a comment.


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Thursday, February 15, 2007

FILM: Aaron Eckhart IS Harvey Dent

After months of speculation, director Christopher Nolan finally has his District Attorney for the upcoming The Dark Knight.

People all over the net have been speculating for months who will play Harvey Dent and his alter ego Two-Face in the upcoming Batman Begins sequel. Edward Norton had his name tossed around, so did Jamie Foxx and Josh Lucas, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was even a contender at one point, but neither one of these gentlemen were able to snag the part. Today it was announced that Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking, Erin Brockovich) has taken the role and will star alongside Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, and recently announced Maggie Gyllenhaal in the upcoming The Dark Knight.

I REALLY like this casting choice. Ekhart has proven he can play straight roles as well as comedic characters and I feel that he'll be a great fit. Hopefully he'll be able to capture the role of the determined and passionate Harvey Dent yet be able to twist full circle and play the relentless villain Two-Face. Like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eckhart must really capture the relationship that Harvey Dent shares with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) in the film. The two are friends, and both fight crime their own way, hopefully that comes across well in the picture.

Now, it's not clear whether or not Dent will transform into Two-Face during the course of the sequel or if it will be left open for a third film. It may likely occur as a cliff-hanger setting up the next film, but that's just speculation.

What do you guys think of this casting choice for Harvey Dent? Are WB and Christopher Nolan on to something with Eckhart or is he completely miscast? Post a comment and let me know your opinion.

Check for more news on The Dark Knight leading up to its release in the summer of 2008.


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Batman 663 Review

Grant Morrison teams up with digital artist John Van Fleet for an issue that feels more like a short story than a comic.

I was quite shocked while flipping through Batman 663 at my local comic shop yesterday. Instead of the usual comic construction with panels, speech bubbles, and quick blurbs of dialogue I found pages filled with paragraphs and large chunks of text. It wasn't necessarily a negative surprise, like the one your dog leaves on the floor while you're out, just something I wasn't expecting to find in a comic book. Especially a mainstream title like Batman. I bought the book and brought it home, oblivious to the ride I was about to be taken on by superstar writer Grant Morison (Batman: Arkham Asylum).

After about a minute of opening the first page I knew this was going to be a long read. Not because the storyline in this issue is dry, it's not, it's just that there's so much text packed onto each page. It probably took me the better part of an hour to lumber through the book, but it was worth it.

The story focuses on Joker, who is recovering from being shot in the face a few months back during the Batman and Son storyline (also written by Morrison). He's under tight security in Arkham Asylum, as usual, but has a scheme up his sleeve. I really appreciated the way Joker was treated in this issue. He's darker, unpredictable, and seems to have regained the scare factor that has vanished from his character as of late. Harley Quinn also plays a major role in the book, and it arguably shows her true colours more than any comic put out by DC thus far.

Grant Morrison does a fairly good job with the writing here, although at times he did get under my skin. The story is great, the tension is thick, and he does an excellent job managing his characters and uncovering their true selves but I felt as if his writing was too drawn out. At times he'll ramble for a paragraph or two before progressing the story and while I enjoyed most of the disturbing imagery and metaphors he throws into the mix I felt as if he tried to pack a few too many into the potato sack. I'd have to say that it was an enjoyable read though as it toys with the psyche of both Joker and Harley Quinn, there were just a few paragraphs that really lost my interest due to their wandering nature.

John Van Fleet, the digital artist given the task of illustrating this issue was a bit hit and miss. I'm not a fan of the CGI approach to comics but I'll give it a fair shot if it's done right. While some of Fleet's panels look great, many really stick out as having poor textures and amateur construction. I think that this issue would have been much more powerful if it was illustrated with paint or a really rough pencil style. I think an artist along the lines of Dave McKean or Ashley Wood would have captured the mood perfectly, but that's just my opinion.

Batman issue 663 is a must-read. Not necessarily because it's an excellent book, but because it gives a fresh look at both the Joker and his loving accomplice Harley Quinn. I look forward to seeing if this will be added upon as part of the Batman continuum or it will be discarded as a story not part of the mythology.

Have you read Batman 663? What did you think? Post a comment.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

FILM: Maggie Gyllenhaal IS Rachel Dawes

We knew Katie Holmes wouldn't be reprising her role as Rachel Dawes in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight, but who was WB going to cast in her place? Maggie Gyllenhaal of course.

While Warner Bros. hasn't yet publicly announced the casting of Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes in the upcoming The Dark Knight, sources say she has won the part. The studio understandably didn't ask Katie Holmes back for the sequel and her part has been recast.

Gyllenhaal's has quite a reputation when it comes to the indie circuit but hasn't yet made her mark in the mainstream. She's been in such films as Stranger Than Fiction, World Trade Center, Secretary, Donnie Darko (in which she played alongside her brother Jake), and the upcoming Paris, je t'aime (which I am uber pumped for).

I'm a fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal's work and I can see her playing a great Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight. Some say she doesn't have the looks to play a leading love interest but I think she has her own nuances and high grade acting chops that will help her continue the character yet re-create Dawes for herself. Another thing I notice about Gyllenhaal is that she is great at creating chemistry with her co-stars who act alongside her. I thought the relationship she shared with Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction was very believable and hopefully she can capture that same feeling with actor Christian Bale.

I look forward to seeing Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight when it hits theatres summer 2008.


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FILM: Spring Movies Not to Be Missed

There are quite a few films worth checking out in the upcomming months. I take a peek at what's just around the corner and tell what I'm looking forward to.


Reno 911!: Miami. Hits theatres on February 23rd. Directed by Ben Garant (Reno 911! TV series). Starring Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney, and Cedric Yarbrough. Reno 911!: Miami features all the characters you love from the hilarious TV show and throws them into the biggest mess of their police careers. While Reno 911! isn't everyone's cup of tea, I just love the characters and I'd gladly sit in a theatre for an hour and a half and watch them make even bigger asses out of themselves. Danny DeVito, Paul Rudd, Paul Reubens, and Michael Ian Black (Stella!) also play smaller roles in the film. Watch the Reno 911!: Miami trailer HERE.


Zodiac. Hits theatres on March 2nd. Directed by David Fincher (Se7en). Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Cloe Sevigny. Zodiac tells the story of the investigators and reports who were terrorized by the Zodiac serial killer in 1970 San Francisco. David Fincher is a perfectionist and great at displaying tension and atmosphere so I'm sure that the film will be a great ride. The only worry I have about this flick thus far is the poor CGI establishing shots in the trailer, but they could be cleaned up before the film's release next month. Check out the Zodiac trailer HERE.

Black Snake Moan. Hits theatres on March 2nd. Directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow). Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Timberlake. Black Snake Moan is the story of an elderly blues musician who holds a victim of childhood sexual abuse against her will in an attempt to free her from her troubles. Read my preview of the film HERE and watch the trailer HERE.

The Host. Hits theatres on March 9th. Directed by Joon-ho Bong (Memories of Murder). Starring Song Kang-Ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Park Hae-IL, Bae Doo-Na, and Ko A-Sung. The Host, or Gwoemul as it's known in Korean, is the story of a fairly poor elderly man, Park Hee-Bong, who runs a snack bar on the banks of Seoul's Han River. One day a mutant creature emerges from the river and kidnaps Park's granddaughter. The film, which released in South Korea during the summer, has gotten international praise and will hopefully awe North American audiences. Check out The Host trailer HERE.

300. Hits theatres on March 9th. Directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead). Starring Gerard Butler, David Wenham, and Lena Headey. 300 is the adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. 300 Spartans must face over 1 million soldiers of the Persian Empire in an attempt to be free from slavery. The film has gotten both praise and disgust after early test screenings and will most likely do well at the box office. It is unclear though whether or not it will be as critically superb as Frank Miller's recent adaptation, Sin City. Check out the trailer to 300 HERE.

Reign Over Me. Hits theatres on March 23rd. Directed by Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger). Starring Don Cheadle, Adam Sandler, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Liv Tyler. Reign Over Me is the story of a pair of old college roommates who restart their friendship by running into each other after living very different lives apart. While some may think this is a comedy because it stars the likes of Adam Sandler it seems like a fairly heavy-handed drama, although I'm sure there are comedic qualities throughout. I'm also a fairly large Don Cheadle fan and feel that he's chosen his roles wisely over the past few years, hopefully Reign Over Me turns out to be another good choice. Check out the trailer for Reign Over Me HERE.

Rescue Dawn. Hits theatres on March 30th. Directed by Werner Herzog (Little Dieter Needs to Fly). Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, and Jeremy Davies. Rescue Dawn is the story of a downed fighter pilot who must find a way to survive in a Vietnamese POW camp. I watch anything Christian Bale does and I also have a lot of respect for Herzog so I'll definitely be checking this one out. Read my preview of Rescue Dawn HERE and check out the trailer HERE.


Grindhouse. Hits theatres on April 6th. Directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City). Starring Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, and Michael Biehn. Grindhouse is two extreme action flicks for the price of one. Both directors shot a segment, Tarantino doing Death Proof and Rodriguez shooting Planet Terror, and they will play back-to-back with fake trailers playing during the intermission. Grindhouse is a throwback to the old cinemas that would show two over-the-top films in one sitting for the price of one admission. Now, this could turn out to be a great idea or it could be a complete bomb, either way I have to check it out. Watch the trailer for Grindhouse HERE.

Hot Fuzz. Hits theatres on April 20th. Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead). Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, and Timothy Dalton. There are a lot of reasons to be interested in Hot Fuzz. For starters, it's done by the same creative team behind the top notch film Shaun of the Dead and shares a fairly similar cast. some may even say it's a sequel to the zombie film, while it's a completely different universe. The film has been out in the UK for a little while now and has been getting rave reviews with many critics saying it's better than Shaun, which is very high praise. Hot Fuzz has been on the top of my to-see list since I first heard about it at San Diego Comic-Con over the summer. Check out the trailer for Hot Fuzz HERE.

The Invisible. Hits theatres on April 27th. Directed by David S. Goyer (Blade: Trinity). Starring Justin Chatwin, Michelle Harrison, and Marcia Gay Harden. The Invisible is the story of two teens who are invisible to the rest of the world. It's a concept that's been done before, and done to death, but for some reason I'm interested in the project. It's probably the psychological thriller fanatic inside of me that hasn't been fed for a few months. Hopefully this film feeds that hunger. Check out the trailer for The Invisible HERE.


Spider-Man 3. Hits theatres on May 4th. Directed by Sam Raimi (Army of Darkness). Starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Hayden Church, Topher Grace, and Rosemary Harris. Spider-Man 3 kicks off where the second film left off. Peter is with Mary-Jane (who knows he is Spidey), Harry Osborn is still bent on revenge, and the world is beginning to respect the web-head. Raimi's third film is supposedly darker and more intense than the previous two, but may also be more convoluted as three enemies are thrown into the mix. I have doubts that Spider-Man 3 will be as good a film as the previous two but I'm still pumped to go see it. Check out the trailer for Spider-Man 3 HERE.

Well, those are the films I'm looking forward to in the next few months. Is there anything I missed. Let me know what flicks you're looking forward to seeing.


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Monday, February 12, 2007

FIGURES: Upper Deck Expands Their All-Star Vinyl Collection

With the success of Upper Deck's LeBron vinyl figures, and their recent sell out of new NFL figs, the sports memorabilia company plans to release a full spectrum of 12" figures.

A few months back Upper Deck released a set of LeBron vinyl figures that stood at a height of 12" and were stylized to look like something out of a anime or kids television show. The figures sold very well and Upper Deck took notice, planning what else they could do with the vinyl statues. The company released three NFL figures of the same style in late January and they all sold out on the first day of release. Now Upper Deck plans to branch out to other sports such as baseball, basketball, and hockey, delivering the top players (past and present) from each game to the consumer as a 12" vinyl statue.

Statues planned for future release are:

-Kobe Bryant
-Dwayne Wade
-Allen Iverson
-LeBron James

-Sidney Crosby
-Alexander Ovechkin
-Martin Brodeur

-Babe Ruth

Now, I'm a huge hockey fan and would love to get my hands on all three of the NHL figures. The style of these things is just so damn cool. They look simple from a few metres away, yet are detailed enough to look great up close. The only drawback is that they cost around $50 US each, plus shipping, and you can only buy them from the Upper Deck online store. I think that I'm going to have to pick up all three regardless, they just look so damn snazzy. It's like if the NHL mixed with Batman: The Animated Series.

Check out Upper Deck's Vinyl Showroom for a better look at what these figures will look like.

What do you guys think of these figures? Are they worth the price or are they pure trash?


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FILM: Sylvain White to Direct Frank Miller's Ronin

Director of the straight-to-video I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer and the piss-poor Stomp the Yard is to adapt one of Frank Miller's graphic novel masterpieces.

Lately it seems as if the new trend for comic adaptations is to just take a Frank Miller graphic novel and simply carbon-copy it onto the silver screen. It worked wonders with Sin City, which was a huge hit in 2005 and has two sequels on the way. It also appears as if the adaptation of Miller's 300, due out on March 9th, is also quite a superb film as all the feedback I've heard from test screenings have been nothing but praise. Both of these films are helmed by strong directors with Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi series, Spy Kids) taking on Sin City and Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) working on 300. The adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel Ronin though, seems to be taking a different route.

Recently it was announced that director Sylvain White would direct the sci-fi samurai picture. White is the director responsible for stinkers such as I Will Always Know What You Did Last Summer and the recent Stomp the Yard. Now, before you throw up, this is just an initial announcement. The project hasn't even gotten the green light yet and, if it does, White could prove to be quite a surprise. While he does have quite a poor track record so far, I don't think he's done enough films to be labelled as a "bad director." We'll see what happens.

Before White was announced for Ronin, director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) had ties to the project. Now, I'm a fairly big Aronofsky fan and I'd love to see him attempt something large-scale like Ronin, but I guess it just wasn't in the cards.

We'll see where White and Warner Bros. take the film. I hope all turns out well but I sure have my doubts about this one.


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Sunday, February 11, 2007

FILM: David Koepp to Pen Spider-Man 4

Writer of Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and War of the Worlds, among others, to write the next Spider-Man flick.

David Koepp is one of those writers who's always in the Hollywood spotlight and seems to usually have some sort of input into the years' top blockbusters. He's worked with powerhouse directors to the likes of Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Ron Howard, and David Fincher as well as directing some feature films himself such as Secret Window and The Trigger Effect I think he should stick to writing, but that's my opinion. Koepp also recently finished writing the script for Indiana Jones 4.

Koepp hasn't signed a contract for the fourth film as of yet, but Columbia is pursuing the project and has confirmed that he will write the screenplay for the film. Koepp co-wrote Spider-Man, but wasn't involved the second film or the third installment which hits theatres in May.

I'm not sure this is a good choice for the franchise. All of Koepp's great films have had other writers working on the screenplay alongside him. Most of the projects he attempts alone are nowhere near as good as the projects he works on with other people. Also, he's one of those writers who just abuses the one-liner to death. Watch a movie like Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, or Mission: Impossible and count the amount of quips, it's astounding.

Koepp also usually keeps the films he writes fairly light-hearted. This is fine and dandy for the average blockbuster but he may be brining Spider-Man away from the dark world he is in now. Since Koepp left the production of Spider-Man 2 the franchise has been getting darker and has started taking itself serious. The last thing I want for a fourth film is it to go back to the quick quips and cheesy dialogue found in the first Spider-Man film. I think that Koepp coming back to write the fourth might also be a hint that Raimi won't be returning to direct the picture, but that's just speculation on my part.

What do you think about David Koepp writing the fourth Spider-Man flick? Is it a good thing of is the film doomed? Post a comment.


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