The Raid 2: Be Careful What You Wish For

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Anticipation can lead to a film’s downfall long before the opening credits start rolling. Sometimes you are so hyped for a film, so ready for your mind to explode due to  what happens on-screen, that the idea of disappointment is impossible. Life always likes to remind you that disappointment is always there, hiding around every corner of your mind, waiting for the first signs of doubt to creep out of its own hiding place and start reminding you that disappointment is inevitable.

Disappointment reared its ugly head last night as I sat through one of the most anticipated action films of the decade, the sequel to Gareth Evans influential second film The Raid. The first Raid film hit movie and laptop screens in 2011 and quickly spread through word of mouth and positive reviews during its film festival run. Its influence is seen in the Dredd remake and the American adaptation now in production.While the film has its faults (mostly script-based), the claustrophobic setting, high paced action, and incredible displays of agility and fight choreography, put Indonesian action cinema on par with its Chinese martial-art counterparts.

With this sequel, Evans has a bigger budget, story and landscape to work with. Working again with his star Iko Uwais, they both are set out to not only expand The Raid franchise, but Indonesian cinema. After the two-and-a-half hour run time, Evans and Uwais deliver the action and violence in spades, but when the movie ended, I could not help but feel a surge of disappointment creep up on me. But why? They delivered everything I asked them for, a much bigger and tougher Raid film, but why am I so disappointed?  Continue reading

Godzilla: King of The Meh

Sixty years ago, Japanese audiences saw for the first time a God-like creature with impeccable strength and radioactive breath. This enormous beast destroyed anything put in front of him: armies, aliens, monsters, everything. In the 60 years since Godzilla first terrorized Tokyo, the monster has become a cinematic icon seen in  now 30 feature films and numerous animated cartoons. The creature known as the King of the Monsters has risen out of the waters to the big screen 28 times before his last appearance ten years ago (in a forgettable movie called Godzilla: Final Wars). The Toho Company (the film company who owned the rights to Godzilla) wanted the iconic movie monster to take a ten-year hiatus. Ten years later, technology has evolved, making it easier for giant monsters to rampage through cities. In the ten year absence of Godzilla filmmakers the likes of Peter Jackson, J.J Abrams and Guillmero Del Toro have tried to make their own monster movies, all inspired by Godzilla.

This Summer, the King of the Monsters returns to his rightful place on the big screen for the first time in a decade. With this being the 30th Godzilla film and the second American adaptation of the iconic monster, could American studios do what they were unable to do the last time they tried to re-introduce Godzilla to Western audiences? Would this be the film, in the hands of a director on his second feature, to get American audiences to accept Godzilla commercially, or will the Toho Company once again have to deny any involvement with this project? Continue reading

Summer Movie Preview 2014 Part Two

Click here for Part One.

5) The Double. Director – Richard Ayoade

Release Date: May 9th

 

What if Terry Gilliam decided to make a neo-noir. Richard Ayoade’s follow-up to his British coming-of-age film Submarine which be much darker, and perhaps funnier. Jesse Eisenberg will both play victim and perpetrator, as he will come face-to-face with his exact double. The problem besides that his exact double is everything he is not – cool, smooth, successful and noticeable – is that Jesse’s character Simon is the only one who sees James (The Double) as his exact copy. The film made the festival rounds last year and has been released in the UK for almost a month now. No word on the film yet, but the fun visuals, deep lighting and the prospect of seeing Eisenberg act before going all Luthor on us should be a delight.

4) Calvary. Director – John Michael McDonaugh

Release Date: August 1st

A good preacher is threatened with death in confession; he has one week to live according to the potential murderer. As a good, honest priest he wants to make the world a better place, but as some people learn, darkness is everywhere, and there is truly no escaping it. McDonaugh’s last black comedy The Guard is a criminally under-watched black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Here, the director and his star link up again in show us the darker side of Ireland. It took months for a proper trailer to come out, but I would still have the same level of excitement, if I were going to into it blind, just knowing that these two were working on another film together. Gleeson is a phenomenal acting presence that America seems to not appreciate. What is their loss could certainly be McDonaugh’s gain if this film reaches the critical success of The Guard.

3) Snowpiercer. Director – Boong Joon-ho

Release Date: June 27th

The most talked about film no one actually got to see last year, was Bong  Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. After battling (and winning) against the Weinstein Brother’s and there scissors of doom, ho’s follow-up to the absolutely stunning Mother will finally, FINALLY! Be available to us in the United States, waiting desperately to see Joon-ho’s full vision. The setting for the film is a massive train carrying the remaining survivors on Earth, forced there due to the planet being uninhabitable due to a freak science experiment gone wrong. As with all science fiction these days, the train is divided into two sections: the very rich, who love comfortably and the very poor, who live like rats. I do not think I have to go further into the story to tell you where it is heading, but the visuals and hopefully some delightful twists can bring up this pretty bland story.

2) Boyhood. Director – Richard Linklater

Release Date: July 11th

A project 12 years in the making, literally. For 12 years Richard Linklater has visited Ellar Coltrane in Texas and filming him every few weeks. The end result could become the ultimate coming-of-age story, as the boy actually comes of age during the run time of the movie. Linklater reportedly wanted to show how a relationship between the child and his parents change over time, especially when the parents (played by professional actors Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette respectively) divorce. It is a compelling project, and one that I have great confidence to say has never been done before. It premiered at Sundance to raving reviews, only making my anticipation grow even more.

1) Closed Curtain. Director Jafar Panahi.

Release Date: Wednesday July 9th

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, once again in complete defiance of his own government (who banned him from filmmaking for twenty years) has directed a film, which will be much more than just a film. A screenwriter goes into hiding with his dog after his government bans them outright. I know, you think how could this possibly be the film I am most looking forward to? Because with Panahi (and Iranian cinema in general) the visuals has much more to do with the world outside of the film. Panahi’s last film This is Not A Film was taken out of Iran secretly inside a birthday cake. I wonder what kind of trickery the director has used now to get this film made and now released to the public (non-Iranian public that is). It is the work of a master, and a rare glimpse into the world of Iran, a country that offers so much, but are strangled by its Theocracy and religious extremists.

Summer Movie Preview 2014 Part One

OK, that might be a little too harsh. Something has come over me in the last few years. In my early 20’s, I was so excited for any new Superhero film or big time Sci-Fi blockbuster to hit theaters. Now, that I have a few semesters of film school in me, and the unstoppable idea that I am, in fact, getting older, those big budget films do not excite me anymore.

With all that being said, I do enjoy making these lists and it has been months since I have actually written anything on my blog (school and internships are more important now); I figured I put down the ten films I am most looking forward to seeing this Summer. Unlike earlier years, some of these entries (the bottom half of it mostly) are films that I want to see, not out of excitement, but in the hopes that I might find them enjoyable.  I am sure some of you will complain, but here is the first of two parts discussing the Summer movie season.

10) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Director – Jonathan Liebesman.

Release Date: August 8th

Like everyone else who has an interest in this Michael Bay produced film, I grew up loving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember watching the 90’s cartoon, watching those bad, but fun live-action movies, and playing the video games in arcades and on friends Super Nintendo. I am not ashamed to say that I still own a pair of TMNT pajamas, which I have stashed at my girlfriend’s place.

With all that out in the open, I am not one of those people who will say that, once again, Michael Bay is raping my childhood. If I ever find the time to actually watch those old cartoons, I am sure – like Transformers – they will not have aged well. I do not have high hopes for this film, but like all of us grown men who like to relive childhood, I want to see this film succeed.

9) Guardians of The Galaxy. Director – James Gunn

Release Date: August 1st

Another film that has caused more curiosity than excitement for me. I have never read Guardians of The Galaxy and have never bothered to look into any of these characters besides Drax for reasons I can not remember. Marvel Studios has impressed me this year with the newest Captain America film, which is a rarity as their track record is more misses (critically anyway) than hits. This film however, is perhaps their biggest gamble; making a big-budget action flick with a cast of characters even the most die-hard of comic fans can live without.

The Guardians of The Galaxy series has never been a popular one among comic fans, but, trying to make a live-action kick-ass version of Futurama does seem interesting.

8) The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Director – Marc Webb

Release Date: May 2nd

Yeahhhhhh, this film. I was not a fan of the first Marc Webb directed Spider-Man, and from what I have seen so far, it does not seem I will particularly enjoy this one either. So why is it on this list at all? Because, I just love the character of Spider-Man. No matter how low of expectations I may have for this and future Spider-Man related entertainment, I will follow, because Spider-Man is what re-ignited the Superhero movie franchise, and because we all just want Peter Parker to win.

It is astonishing to me that with a cast like this: Andrew Garfield, Paul Giamatti, Jamie Foxx, Emma Stone, Dane DeHaan; people who have been nominated for Oscars, won Oscars, could potentially win Oscars in the future, and all the CGI Sony can throw at it, I just can not find it interesting. Who knows? Maybe Webb will surprise me; and at least the effects look better than they have ever been.

7) Neighbors. Director – Nicolas Stoller

Release Date: May 9th

 

Summer comedies are always a treat, when they are actually funny. Seth Rogen has made a career out of starring – as well as writing and producing – Summer comedies. Instead of being the laid out stoner guy, it seems that Rogen will be playing straight man to Efron, who has demonstrated in smaller TV roles that he indeed, has comic timing.

It has been a long time since High School Musical, and out of the rest of the cast, Efron does seem the one prime to become a superstar away from Disney. I am sure this will have some laughs, and hopefully have some quotes we can use throughout the Summer.

6) Godzilla. Director – Gareth Edwards

Release Date: May 16th

In 1954, Japanese filmmaker Ishrio Honda directed the very first Godzilla movie. Now 60 years later, the King of The Monsters returns to theaters. We, as an audience, have washed away the memory of the failed Godzilla reboot of the 90’s. Gone is Matthew Broderick, here is multiple Emmy award-winning Bryan Cranston. Yes, I am aware that Anthony Taylor-Johnson is in the film, however I believe that even he can not out shadow the cinematic force that is Godzilla.

Director Gareth Evans seems as if he has made a Godzilla film, that is faithful to the themes of the original vision. I hope so, for this is the first time in a long time that I find myself excited for anything Godzilla related.

Video

The Raid 2: Berandal – Gang War (Deleted Scene)

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This five-minute bloodbath reportedly cost a ton to shoot, and took six whole days to film, but was cut due to pacing issues. The director struggled with deleting this scene, but after discussion edited this scene out of the film. So as not to keep it away from the viewers anticipating the sequel to the first Raid film, director Gareth Evans decided to release it online. First impressions: it looks awesome.

Best Music on The Net – First Week of March

Alchemist is the only producer in Hip-Hop that can make an album that is filled with samples from religious speeches and songs and make it interesting. The chemist’s newest project will be more than likely be filled with the roster of artists he has collaborated with over the last few years. Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Evidence, Domo Genesis and of course Prodigy will be obvious in the album’s tracklisting, I am hoping for a few surprises here.

Alchemist & Badu – In Heaven’s Home Feat Roc Marciano & Prodigy

L’Orange – I Need You Feat. Blu

Hercules & Love Affair – Do You Feel The Same

MVSCLES – Game

After giving us their entire catalog on Valentine’s Day the trio is still giving us new music to add to own libraries. The first leak from the first of three projects this year: A mixtape of the the Plugs rapping off nothing but Dilla beats.

De La Soul – Dilla Plugged In

Ringworm – One of Us Is Going To Have To Die

La Sera – Losing to the Dark

Big K.R.I.T – LAC LAC feat. A$AP Ferg & Egyptian Cotton

Track of The Week: BADBADNOTGOOD – Can’t Leave The Night

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Video

Frank – Full Trailer

 

How to describe Michael Fassbender. Well he is an Academy Award nominated actor; he is also a favorite of director Steve McQueen and oh yes, he is extremely, extremely handsome. So what if I told you that Micheal Fassbender, an actor who women all around the world gush and describe dream sexual encounters with made a film where he wears a doll-like helmet over his famous face. Would you be intrigued? Would you care? Would you even know still let him have his way with you with the creepy doll face on? I can not explain why Fassbender decided to take on this dark comedic role, but the man knows how to pick his parts. After playing so many serious roles in the past couple of years – Freud, a slave master and a sex addict – it is perhaps a nice change of pace to see the sex symbol try something out of the ordinary. Whether his gamble will pay off is yet to be discussed, but it does arouse my interest and that is half the battle won to him I am sure.