Friday, February 28, 2014

Scott's Op/Ed: 'The Birds' Lovers Beware, because Michael Bay is Here

Scott offers up some heartfelt thoughts on yet another Michael Bay produced horror reboot. This time the once thought to be untouchable, The Birds.

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As a fan of movies, there are many things that I love, and a lot of those come from the realm of the horror genre. I absolutely love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a movie which used atmosphere and a drawn out scene around a dinner table to show the horror and insanity that a person was forced to endure. I was a huge fan of Friday the 13th, a slasher flick that did not have a lumbering mammoth, but rather a psychotic mother of a boy who had tragically died. A Nightmare on Elm Street was a brilliant concept that was cunningly creepy for audiences, as we realized that we were not even safe from the horrible things of this world in our own dreams. And I cannot forget to mention The Amityville Horror, which, while not being the greatest movie ever made, played well off of the idea that this was indeed something that happened in real life; and watching it before I knew it was a hoax just added to the experience.

Each of the movies I mentioned, share multiple things in common. First off, they were each the beginnings of franchises that would last for decades, spawning more and more sequels that took the universe in which they lived further and further away from what they originally were. Secondly, they all had a unique feel to them. These movies were not all carbon copies of each other, but rather films that introduced concepts, characters, and terrors that fit in well with the story that they were to tell. Thirdly, they each had an enormous impact on the genre and would change exactly how movies would be made forever.

I have a soft spot in my heart for each of those movies, and can remember precisely the very first time that I saw them and was charmed by what they brought into my life. I watched The Amityville Horror at my parent’s house late one night after renting it with my sister as a teenager. I saw Friday the 13thwith a good friend as part of our ‘crappy movie nights,’ only to discover the quality and character of the movie which elevated it past many horrors. I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street with a friend at his house when his mother rented the movie for us because we were too young. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was watched with my ‘crappy movie’ friend, a film that we quickly recognized as a classic.

 How many movies are there like that, where we can quickly recall exactly where we were and who we were with the very first time we watched them? A small percentage, I would imagine. When something sticks with us so much, it is not just a part of our history with movies, but it is a solidified part of our lives, something that our minds and hearts have never forgotten because of the significance of the moment.

Another film that I can recall seeing for the first time was The Birds. It was on VHS, and it was when I was living in North Bay, Ontario as a teenager. It was in the afternoon in the winter, and the sun was coming into the living room and reflecting off of the snow, giving the family room a warm light. I had tracked down The Birds after falling in love with Psycho, a movie that is still an all-time favourite. As I watched The Birds, I was mesmerized by the pace that it took in telling its tale. While some people may complain that there was too much build up, my thought was that it was perfect… the story was not about birds attacking, but about these people caught up in a terrifying scenario, and so I loved that so much attention was given to the characters.

The Birds is a movie that now can claim to have something in common with the previous films that I mentioned, and that is that Michael Bay will be producing a remake of it, something which causes me some lament. All of the aspects that made the movies I mentioned great were completely ditched in Bay’s remakes, and they simply became loud, blood splattered, generic sequels, not even worthy of being called ‘remakes.’

Some could argue otherwise, but they really did have more of a feel of just picking up with the character and style that the tired franchises had left off with in their sequels, and never actually looked to do anything other than progress that style and not progress the story.

Among all of those, A Nightmare on Elm Street caused me the most grief. The villain, a quickly recognizable maniac named Freddy who oozed personality and style under his psychotic behaviour, was replaced by a bland and emotionless version that missed out on what was alluring about the antagonist in the first place. Add to that the inclusion of noise… lots and lots of loud, un-needed noise, which did nothing other than grind down on my will to live. It was a lifeless, impotent movie, one that destroyed the memory of the original.

And today, after hearing that The Birds is going to be produced by Michael Bay, I feel that I should send out a warning to people who are fans of the original. Don’t see it. That is the best advice that I can give you. Each of the franchises that have been reanimated by Bay have all lost each of the key components that made them stand out in the first place, and this is sure to happen again. We will most likely lose out on the human side of the story, and more likely be treated to rock and roll CGI birds that will come at us in 3D and make lots of loud noises. This movie, like the others, will most likely only end up being an obnoxious shell of what you so deeply loved. Do yourself the best favour you can; stay home from the theatre and rent the original instead. You know you will be bound to love it.

Also, if you love Tora, Tora, Tora and have not seen Pearl Harbour, the same advice applies for all of the same reasons.

Jesus and Liam Neeson Run Non-Stop for the Top at the Box Office

We're almost out of February, which means we can start analyzing genuine hits again. Of course, for that statement to work then I'd need to completely ignore the success of The LEGO Movie or Ride Along. This looks like a dull week at the box office. Scott does predict some big success for a few pictures this weekend, even if he isn't promising quality.

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Kevin Costner’s action flick 3 Days to Kill performed above expectations last weekend, but its life expectancy is about to be cut short this weekend as Liam Neeson jumps back into an action role in Non-Stop and looks to take first place in theatres. On top of all of the shouting and punching that Liam will be doling out, we have two movies that are re-cuts hitting theatres and also Russia’s biggest film from the previous year is hitting the domestic market.

I am sure that fifteen years ago there would have been a lot of people who would have balked at the idea of Liam Neeson becoming an action hero, but here we are in 2014 and the man has established himself as a believable and charismatic gunslinger. When you look back at his career, it becomes clear that it is something that he has always dabbled in. From action roles in movies like Darkman and Batman Begins, Neeson has been able to deliver a forceful presence while also being able to absolutely nail awesome lines that make you excited about him getting involved in an old-fashioned donnybrook.

What really turned audiences onto him in this kind of role was Taken, in which he had the very memorable phone conversation where he established that he is not to be messed with. From a financial perspective, he is a fairly solid draw who is able to get butts off the couch and into theatres quite consistently. His range in ability is monstrous, coming off of a delightful role in The LEGO Movie as Good Cop/Bad Cop.

Here he will be in a film that reminds me of the horribly convoluted Flightplan, but appears to have some more action pumped into it. I am guessing this one will have some inane twists as well, but he will be cracking noggins, so I suppose all will be good. The first Taken was able to open at $25 million with the sequel taking $49 million. This movie, which is supported by Julianne Moore and rising star Lupita Nyong’o, should be skewing more towards the numbers of Taken, but would not be surprised if it ended up in the higher $30 million range.

Non-Stop Opening Weekend Prediction - $30 Million

Also popping into wide release is Son of God, a movie that Chris and I have already vented our personal feelings about. This is a movie, which follows the life of Jesus, but is not a movie that was specifically made for the big screen and instead consists of footage from The Bible mini-series that aired last year along with a bit of deleted scenes.

The big question is just how much people want to pay for a product that looks (and was) made for television. The hope for this film is to grab the faith audience that poured into theatres to see The Passion of the Christ, but I am feeling Son of God will come nowhere close to that. While there are churches buying up large blocks of tickets for this movie and some preachers are encouraging their flock to see the film, the production quality shown in the trailers will most likely keep a lot of people away. This pick is the kind that I have no comfort in making, because it could easily shock with a disastrous or tremendous opening weekend.

Son of God Opening Weekend Prediction - $17 Million

As I had mentioned, there were two re-packaged movies in theatres this weekend. Son of God is the first, and the second is Anchorman 2, which is coming out in an R-rated form that boasts a longer run time and the inclusion of 763 new jokes. It is a one week only event, and it is likely it will not bring in the crowds that the studio is hoping for. I have a feeling that the hardcore fans of the franchise bought tickets when the movie came out a few months ago, and I doubt there will be a lot of interest in doing it again. This is the End did a re-release last year that was able to pick up $1.9 million, although it was the same cut that had been originally released. This really is something that should be a Blu-ray extra.

Anchorman 2 R-Rated Weekend Prediction - $1.5 Million

Lastly is Stalingrad, a film that comes to us from Russia and is a special effects driven story of what was probably the most brutal battle of World War 2. It was the dominant film in Russian theatres for 2013, and it is the first Russian film that is shot in the IMAX format. It is opening in 308 theatres and I could see this film pulling in perhaps around $2,500 per theatre.

Stalingrad Limited Release Opening Weekend Prediction - $800,000

'Rake' Ep. 6 Review: Don't Take Dating Advice from Keegan

Rake crams another episode with crazy shenanigans and a quirky case. I analyze how well it all works over at BuddyTV,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Godzilla Smashes and Ron Burgundy Double Dips and Several Other Trailer Reviews

To be honest, it was a tougher week to scour brand new trailers. Maybe everyone was hiding because Godzilla came smashing in with its newest trailer. But first a trailer that came to fight and kick and stomp and. . .

The Protector 2 (May 2/Limited)



Christopher: I know almost nothing about the original The Protector and even less about its star, Tony Jaa. I did have to check a few times to verify that this is actually a movie coming out in 2014. If it wasn't for the excessive use of CGI and Matrix style action sequences, I'd have still believed this was a trailer for one of the many martial arts action imports that crowded up cinemas about 20 years ago. There does seem to be some choreography and legitimate stunts, but I find it starts to lose its impact when squeezed in with all the rather poorly computer assisted sequences.  Also it is rather hard to get excited by a pretty formulaic and generic martial arts actioner when we've got the insanity and adrenaline injection of The Raid 2: Berandal coming this year as well.

I also have to confess this just isn't a genre that I know all that well or really get too amped up about. Sure, Jackie Chan was a fun thing to have in the background while I was trying to look cool to girls while shoving BBQ chips into my mouth, but I can only take so much of these movies at a time. I just feel this stuff is best when it is filled with stuntmen and it at least can effectively deceive me into believing the sequences are real. I do dig the attempt of harking back to an older time by having a narrator in the trailer. A quick look at the plot synopsis tells me that Kham's elephant has been stolen again, so I'm happy to know the punching and kicking is for a good cause.

Scott: Martial arts movies are interesting to me because there are some that I could line up in a row and watch all day long, and others that I would rather just stay away from. I enjoy a full range from 80s ninja movies to Shaolin films to dramatic pieces like Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I got a good enough kick out of Tony Jaa in Ong-bak, but The Protector 2 appears to be the type of martial arts film that I am not into, which is when people are flying around in ways that are completely unrealistic. I do enjoy some good flying antics, but usually it is more centred on older films where the corniness of it adds to the overall enjoyment of the movie. In the modern era, the gravity defying actions don’t seem to work unless it is more of a fanciful setting. It makes good sense that RZA is in this movie as his love for old school martial arts films draws him to projects like this. I can’t seem to generate much excitement for this film, which did make me smile when the trailer narrator used the awesomely cliché line of, ‘they took everything he loved.’

Godzilla (May 16/Wide) Trailer #2



Christopher: There is a small part of me that thinks this picture came out at least a year too late. How excited can one get about a giant lizard smashing through New York when a year ago we got them battling giant robots? It is almost like the genre has hit its apex and everything will feel like a downer afterwards. Though this trailer clearly proves that they're trying to make a very different movie than Pacific Rim. That picture was a glossy spectacle that incorporated visuals that sometimes gave off a fairy tale like feel and other times something ripped straight out of a graphic novel. This picture feels grittier and dirtier, and the ambition seems to be less about surprising and wowing but rather more trying to disturb and unsettle.

This doesn't feel like a modern high budget blockbuster but something that would have fit amongst the disaster pictures cropping up throughout the mid-1990s. Even then, in this trailer you get a feeling of a slow-build and a stronger focus on the impact on the characters rather than the actual disaster. The previous trailer showed an army getting ready to rock and roll as they flew through the sky and prepared to drop some bomb action. So there will definitely be action sequences here and lots of carnage, and the synopsis seems to hint that the main star will be Aaron Johnson's lieutenant who is almost entirely absent this time around.

What we get is a lot of Bryan Cranston yelling. I especially got a kick out an allusion to the government trying to hide a gigantic building crushing lizard and attempting to pass the wreckage off as a natural disaster. If that turns out to the majority of the movie with Cranston trying to point out the tail to people and provide power points to prove it wasn't a tornado that wiped out Kansas, then Warner Brothers can probably just fire their accountant and close up shop. Having top notch talents like Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen makes me believe they are going to try to throw some dramatic depth in here and be more about the impact on humanity than loud and shiny.

Director Gareth Edwards is probably one of the strongest choices to helm a movie like this. He was very economical with his small budget for Monsters and was able to pull off some pretty impressive special effects for a small independent picture. That movie was never really about the aliens, but rather how their invasion impacted the world and the travels of two characters through the carnage and disaster. Stephen King has always said that his stories aren't about the supernatural or the big monsters but rather he uses those things to trigger stories about his characters. It obviously works for him, I think a lot picture forget that the best stories are about the human spirit and how we respond to that adversity rather than a focus on the creatures and fantasy element. Edwards has proven that is his approach to monster movies, so he is likely aiming more for a Jaws rather than a Transformers.

We'll obviously see Godzilla and he'll be smashing shit. I'm hoping (and this trailer seems to hint it will be) that it actually will be about our main characters trying to deal with the chaos. There is also a chance the studio freaked out over that decision and has pushed for the last hour and half of the picture to just be fighter jets shooting at the giant monster.

There is also supposed to be two more monsters other than Godzilla. I don't know if that means we get a wrestling with Mothra or if it is the return of the raptors again. What is supposed to be news to get the geek in me excited, actually just has the word "bloat" flashing in my mind. Godzilla really is enough unless there is a real purpose for more.

I like parts of this trailer such as where the focus seems to be. There are also a few annoying decisions like the use of the ominous bass used throughout that is too cliché and well-worn for my liking. I definitely trust the talent and the director. This could turn out to be one of the surprises of summer. Of course, I say surprise, because I have been expecting one of the worst movies of the year prior to this trailer.

Scott: Just like the previous trailer had an over-used, cliché line in it, so does this movie when we get Cranston saying, ‘God help us all.’ That line about the stone ages has had its times around the track as well. I was going to mention the use of the deep and consistent bass noise, but Chris hit that point. Part of me is intrigued by what I saw, but I just don’t know what is going to ultimately happen with this film. It could end up being just a bunch of good special effects mashed in with poor special effects, as the trailers show a little from column A and column B.

I have had an affinity towards this building sized monster for most of my life. When I was a teenager, the movies were perfect homework ambiance, as I could look at the books during the dialogue scenes and then pop my eyes up to the television whenever Rodan made an appearance. I had no idea that there were going to be other monsters in this film until Chris mentioned it, and I quickly tried to pick who I would ideally like to see on the scene once again. Would it be an alien like in Godzilla 2000, or would it be an old school ally or villain brought back into the limelight?

One thing is for sure, and that is this trailer got a lot of attention for the movie. The day the trailer was released there were 60,000 tweets about the film, a great number that indicates some good awareness. It is the type of generic trailer that could get some excitement rising for senseless destruction, and if the marketing campaign is smart from here then the movie could perform really well. Myself, I am going to have to see another trailer or two before I start to have a sense of where I land on this film.

Son of God (February 28/Wide) - Trailer #2



Christopher: I've been avoiding putting up the numerous trailers for this movie because I didn't want my disdain be interpreted as "yet another liberal attacking the poor old Christians." Jesus is awesome, but this movie looks awful. I'm fine with entertainment that is geared towards a religious group and I'm even finer with biblical epics. The problem is the former is almost always pap and the latter has the battle of sorting out who do you appeal to (see Noah for an example of this). 

This picture just screams trying to sucker the churches and religious groups to come in droves to the cinema this weekend. If the Sunday school class wants to head out to see this instead of recite Bible passages than all the power to them. I can't wash off the feeling of this being one of the ultimate cash grabs and that most religious entertainment tends to be a sleazy ploy to pass off subpar art as something profound and spiritual. It plays on the guilt of a certain group that feel they need to be seeing things that glorify and please their deity. If this was the movie of Ahab the Wanderer there wouldn't be a single butt in the seat this weekend because this looks to be poorly acted, have lame effects, riddled with TV movie cinematography, and a really schmaltzy score. It is Jesus, so the pastors across the continent have been probably telling their flock to go out to see it for weeks, because they just "don't make wholesome and powerful movies like this anymore."

Of course, this movie is actually just cut from The Bible miniseries on the History channel last year. A miniseries that did massive ratings, but actually reviewed really poorly. Of course, anyone who is amped to see this will just claim the poor reviews came from critics not loving Jesus enough. I just don't love the underhanded method of tricking people into paying for a movie that was free a year ago and doesn't look like it deserves to be anywhere near the big screen. I'm fighting a losing battle, because the early word is this will have a great weekend. Considering the budget and what it initially had been, it probably doesn't need to make much to be profitable either. I'm sure the flocks will walk away happy, because Jesus.

Scott: Well Chris, my hairy-heathen friend, was able to take a swing at this movie that is just trying to tell a humble story, and now it is my turn to come to its aid as the resident Christian writer on this piece.

….

See that? Silence. There is no defense that I could have for this film. I have no problems at all with them taking a mini-series, editing it, and releasing it as a theatre event, but that is not what they are doing here. There is no mention of this being already released material, and it is being sold as new content for theatre goers. That is what I have a problem with. It is lacking the honesty of what it is, even though a semi-keen eye could easily pick up the fact that this is not movie quality footage as was most likely made for TV. As Chris said, the idea is that Christians will go and see it because it is Jesus, and that is what they are banking on, and just throwing something together that can attain that goal.

As well, I am a bit frustrated with this film for another reason. I get fairly ticked off with a lot of Christian media because it is usually so outdated and technically subpar to everything else that is around it (Veggie Tales excluded). Some readers may take offense to that, but it is really true. This movie is doing nothing to make that situation any better by simply repackaging something that is not cinema quality and promoting it to the world. Why not just ramp up off of the success of the mini-series and set out to do a properly funded film? I don’t know. At least there aren’t guys in blazers playing keytar in this, which is something I came across as I was being told that there were Christian groups out there who were as good as Led Zeppelin.

Arrrggraa… I forget where I was heading with all of this.

Muppets Most Wanted (March 21/Wide) - Trailer #403



Christopher: Unlike most marketing campaigns for major motion pictures, I haven't lost my excitement and anticipation for this despite what feels like a daily of assault of new trailers and promotional videos. Some of that comes from the amazing goodwill they built up from there incredible previous effort, The Muppets. The prior picture captured a childlike wonder I hold dear from 1980s and left me with a massive grin on my face the entire time, and more importantly, was easily one of the very best movies from 2011.

This time around they've done more than enough to make up for the absence of Jason Segel and Amy Adams by packing it with other actors that resonate warmth, happiness and laughter.  There are perfect matches with the Muppets in stars like Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Zach Galifianakis, and Ricky Gervais. The picture is obviously going to be overstuffed with celebrities but that has always been this series' style and usually it gets pulled off in spectacular fashion. It works because everyone just seems to be having fun and are willing to mock themselves a bit. Speaking of being willing to mock themselves a bit, Sean Combs made me fall in love with him in Get Him to the Greek and so I was happy to see him with a big smile and being silly in this trailer.

Despite all the trailers, they've been pretty effective in not showing off huge parts of the picture. This trailer showcases a bit of new stuff but largely it is just extended scenes from what has been shown in the past. We still haven't seen one musical number yet, and that may be partly due to Disney's weird recent strategy of hiding the fact a picture is a musical (Frozen being the prime example). Obviously, this movie needs song and dance, because that is a huge part of the series' charm and it has always been there. I'm excited to see what catchy tunes and over-the-top magic they have hidden away.

I'm also stoked to see action star Kermit, because well, that makes me laugh. It looks like they'll definitely be primed to imitate and have fun with the globetrotting action and spy pictures of the past several decades. During the series entire run, I'm not sure if they've ever made use of Kermit's obvious jumping ability, and so it'll be great to see him do what a frog was meant for. I wonder if they trust him to do his own stunts.

I also wonder if Walter will be a centrepiece Muppet this time around or if it is just decided his story was told in the first pictures and shove him to a supporting role. I don't think any of the previous picture have ever really connected to past movies, but this one does have a bit more of a sequel vibe. My bet is on Walter being a lead here again, and be the relatable character, since there doesn't seem to be a main human lead this time.

What the Muppets have always been good at, is taking elements from genres and playing with then in a very self- aware and humorous fashion. They take the best of other movie but then do it with loving winks and jabs. I loved the small scene where it comes obvious that the crew was completely unaware that there was an evil doppelganger in their midst even though he clearly wasn't Kermit by his behaviour. That is a great play on a very well-used and ridiculous trope, but this time around, they realize it is silly and run with it. This is why I get excited every time I hear about another Muppets movie and it is so wonderful to see them back in form after what was a tough 1990s for them (something they also played on in excellent fashion in the previous movie).

Scott: After Chris’ write up, there is not really much more to add other than the fact that I am personally excited for this movie. There is such a good nature to a well done Muppet movie, and I am getting the feeling that this film will be a great follow up to the previous one. The cast looks great, and I cannot wait to see it in theatres.

The Sacrament (June 6/Limited)



Christopher: This picture had a great deal of hype surrounding it before being screened at TIFF. Director Ti West is one of the filmmakers that many consider the next big hope for the horror genre in the domestic market. I have to confess that the only thing I've seen that has involved him was his acting role in You're Next. A picture I liked many of the elements, but didn't love it anywhere near the amount as Scott. It isn't really fair to compare the qualities of that picture to this one, since again, West's only involvement was as an actor.

It is hard not to think about You're Next a little though, because it is the most mainstream picture to have West's name attached. This particular picture also has some of the same stars such as Amy Seimetz and AJ Bowen. I became a huge fan of Seimetz in Upstream Color and she proved some incredible comic timing in You're Next. She is a future star in the right role, and it looks like she has a much more substantial spot in this picture than You're Next.

The cult concept is always a very chilling one to me. Though it has been used many time before, I don't think it has been fully exploited and there are definitely more stories to tell. This one looks effective in creating an atmosphere that promises a utopia but even during that happy period there is an unsettling element. Gene Jones as the Father appears to be the right odd blend of comforting and eerie at the same time. This picture will likely deliver in both the acting and the atmosphere as both come off quite strong here.

The problem I have is that the trailer seems to have given away the entire movie. I realize we knew things were going to shit and that everything needed to fall apart for it to be a horror picture. I'm not sure if we really needed to see exactly how it everything goes bad and all that seems left to see is the actual gore and carnage. That is never the kind of stuff that appeals or why I love horror, so I'm just not sure if there is anything left to anticipate.

I also hate to say that a producer (who may be very hands-off) scares me from seeing this, but I've never really understood the hype surrounding Eli Roth. I haven't really been into anything that he has written or directed except for the Nation's Pride clips in Inglourious Basterds. I think he has shown glimmers of wit and creativity, but his stuff just hinges more on the gore elements and sometimes turn out to be a little too silly. But again, his name being attached here shouldn't really be detriment since he is one of many producers involved (he likely was used more to get a distributor). I'm left liking the concept and the cast involved, but wish I actually knew a little less about where this movie was heading.

Scott: Ti West did not take the advice he was given in You’re Next and strive for making commercials, but rather made a Jonestown inspired film that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. Unluckily for the movie, the majority of attention that it received was because a blogger called the police when people were using their mobile devices during a media and industry screening of the film. That aside, it came out of the festival with its distribution sold and mediocre critical reception.

This is the first time I have seen a trailer for the film, and it has done well in creating intrigue as to the environment and feel of the movie. I get properly creeped out by a good cult story and this movie could do well in hitting that part of my imagination and leaving me with many things to think about on the ride home from the theatre. I think the hardest part of the film will be the found footage aspect, and how it is used. If it makes the camera unrealistically available to capture everything (which seems to be the style of the medium now), then it could be a huge fail. This is the type of movie that would do well to have some mystery surrounding it and leave a lot to the imagination.

On top of all of that, there is a cast of people whom I am starting to really enjoy, which has put this film on my list of movies to track down this year. I am constantly waiting for Amy Seimetz to get her breakout performance and make a name for herself, because she has some serious talent in her.

Jinn (April 4/Limited)



Christopher: This feels like Underworld but without the comic book feel and Matrix stylized action. Of course, instead of bloodsucker we great really shitty looking fire face things. I don't usually try to show trailers to limited release pictures that almost assuredly will suck, but this is sort of an example of why lower budget films shouldn't try to mimic big budget action-thrillers. This picture almost screams for special effects and massive fantasy elements but this trailer looks like they will try to do as many fast camera cuts and odd shots to hide the fact they don't have much. Sadly, there is enough evidence in this trailer that they probably should have done more of that technique, because this picture is far from pretty.

I just don't know why they didn't aim for a slow building and dark style horror picture that alludes to the sinister beings rather than have our hero do campy action sequences with the baddies. It is really cool that it tries to incorporate beings from Arabic folklore, but it doesn't look like they're going to try to do the mythology any justice here. If it insists on being an action picture then it at least should have tried to have fun rather than play it so serious. This looks destined for a Scott cheesy movie review when it likely comes out on Netflix a week after its theatre run.

Scott: I have to admit, I apparently zoned out pretty quickly during this trailer and I really didn’t want to start watching it from the beginning again just so I could have the full context of it. I can tell you that Darth Maul is in it. And that Walter Peck (the guy from the EPA who shut down the Ghostbusters) is in it. I can tell you the visuals look completely awful, but I am guessing if you watched it then you were able to pick up on that fact as well. And there was a car… or something. I don’t know, just a lot of visuals, sounds, and builds that have been abundant for years now, and I really am hoping that Chris does not pick another trailer from this movie for us to look at further down the road.


In the Blood (April 4/Limited)



Christopher: Gina Carano proved that women's MMA can draw an audience and drew massive ratings even though she was part of a lesser known promotion. She essentially was one of the stars to pave the way for current UFC draw Rhonda Rousey. Carano was a legit fight superstar, but the reality is that it is a very tough profession and part of her appeal was that she was beautiful. It made a lot of sense for her to transition out of the sport and make a lot more money in action movies where it'll take less of a toll on her body and looks.

Her first starring vehicle was the Steve Soderbergh directed Haywire and was a pretty big hit with the critics. Unfortunately, it ended up being a disaster at the box office, which sort of proved MMA stardom doesn't translate to being a draw at the box office. She still got a significant role in last year's box office hit Fast & Furious 6, but it looks like the big studios may have given up on her being able to star in a picture. Of course, straight-up fist punching and gun shooting action movies aren't really the stand-out pictures for major studios anymore, so it may also be a bit of a genre thing too. Either way, it looks like Carano's star has already fallen, and she is stuck being in movies with Danny Trejo.

Scott: Well, it is apparent that Haywire did not do anywhere near the numbers that were expected, as the hopeful action star of Gina Carano goes from a wide release movie to a film that looks like it should be straight to video. At least, I am guessing, Carano won’t have her voice dubbed over by the studios this time. Haywire made a horrible $22 million worldwide on a budget of $23 million and had an ensemble cast of Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton, and Antonio Banderas. Even with all of that going for it, they were unable to create Carano into a star, something that Rhonda Rousey should pay attention to as her Hollywood ambitions increase.

Action sports figures, be them mixed martial artists or wrestlers, have a very hard time getting a secure foothold as a legitimate draw in movies. The Rock is finally reaching upper echelon status, and he has been working hard at this thing for 13 years. Carano may have a bunch of movies like this to look forward to in her future unless she is able to hone her acting chops and screen presence.

Maladies (March 21/ Limited & March 25/VOD) - Trailer #2



Christopher: One of the best combinations in the world is peanut butter with chocolate, but another strong one in contention must be James Franco starring in a film by a director who wants to only be known as Carter. This is only Carter's second picture and his first was Erased James Franco where the actor reenacted scenes from all his movies and television appearances while also reinterpreting Julianne Moore's performance in Safe and Rock Hudson's in Seconds. This just seems like the type of thing that James Franco should do, since he doesn't appear to be interested in being a big Hollywood star but rather just perform in odd and quirky indy pictures. Carter looks like a great person to give him those types of roles.

Franco playing a failed actor who now tries to write and battle the voices in his head also seems like a role he was meant to play. I have a feeling this picture will turn out to be far less straight-forward than the trailer promises. It also looks like it has potential to be the entertaining kind of bizarre while also being funny and showcasing some great performances. I think Franco is way better than many give him credit for, and he can really throw himself into a character if his heart is in it. He also has great talent to play off in Catherine Keener and David Strathairn. This also has potential to be an insufferable and smarmy art house picture, but I sense a good deal of self-awareness and charm. The aim seems to be entertainment, which should hopefully reign in the symbolic and artsy moments.

Scott: I find that I have a lot of admiration for James Franco because he appears to be making the most of his opportunities in life. He obviously has a very artistic nature, and he has used what he has gained from Hollywood to be able to make projects that he wants to be a part of. I have a lot of respect for that, for not just reaching for the highest grosses and the most money, but to actually use the system for personal satisfaction. He still does the big money movies, but that is not the typical realm for him, and this film appears to give him a lot of room to play in a character that has quite the interesting personality. The supporting cast is a solid one, and for folks who enjoy stories that are quirky and less generic, this could be a solid film to check out.

Wolves (TBA)



Christopher: This is more how I expect a lower budget horror-action picture to play out. There are some scenes that looked unrealistic and cheesy, but the picture also feels very self-aware and aiming for the schlock and camp. The goofball horror-action pictures work much better when the special effects actually don't look all that special and remind one of the creature features from the past. This also reminds me of early '80s John Sayles pictures (The Howling being the most obvious) that plays with the horror tropes and clichés with a tongue firmly in cheek while still serving up the elements that make a genre picture successful. David Hayter has written some decent sci-fi action screenplays in X-Men and Watchmen, so there is reason to have some hope here. At the same time, he hasn't done purposeful camp or directed a feature before this. Any story that sets the werewolf community in Lupine Ridge gives me hope this could be a fun waste of two hours for those that love cheese and camp in their horror pictures.

Scott: Ack…


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Super-Sized R-Rated Version (February 28/Limited)



Christopher: I had a good time watching the original theatrical version of Anchorman 2. Even that version just felt like a collection of hit or miss jokes that just made me laugh hard enough when the jokes worked for me to recommend the movie. The problem was it was missing any real plot and anytime it tried to have a story it usually lost it focus quickly. Now, it is promoting itself on having even more jokes, and likely focusing even less on the actual plot. My big question is if any of these jokes are any good then why didn't they include them the first time around?

Scott: Chris got it right by referring to the movie as being a series of hit and miss jokes. So many fell flat at my feet while I was watching it, but it was the ones that hit home that made the film worthwhile. Still, it is not a movie that I would plan on seeing in theatres a second time, especially since I now got to pay for a longer version that includes a whole lot of jokes that are R-rated and probably hundreds that did not make the original version because they were not good enough to. I do not know how what should be a Blue Ray extra could make people want to spend full ticket price to see in theatres.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are The Americans' Jennings the Great American Family?

The Americans returns on FX tonight. It will have a chance to prove once again it is one of the best series currently on television. The series offers up compelling drama and thrilling action, but it also showcases one of the Great American TV Families. It may seem like an odd claim to make for a family with parents that are Russian spies. I make my case over at BuddyTV.

Best Picture Isn't Always The Best

This week over at Collective Publishing, I look at great movies that didn't even get a Best Picture nomination that turned out to be much better than the winner. There are several movies that could have made this list, and I'm sure there are a few that you think should have made the list. Check it out and let me know in the comments what great movie did you think were robbed not only the statuette but a nomination.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The LEGO Movie Blows Away 3 Days to Kill and Pompeii

Scott looks at the continued dominance of The LEGO Movie and the subpar performances of the two new wide releases.


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The Lego Movie was able to remain at number one for the third weekend in a row after only dropping 37% from last weekend by scoring a very healthy $31 million dollars. So far it has seen a domestic total of $183 million and worldwide tally of $235 million with lots more money to be made, establishing itself as a new franchise for Warner Brothers. It will have smooth sailing for another a while yet as there will not be any competing films until Mr. Peabody and Sherman comes out on February 7th.

Not faring as well, however, was 3 Days to Kill starring Kevin Costner, but it did surprise a number of people by being able to land in the number two spot this weekend with $12 million dollars. It is not the greatest opening weekend for a movie, but considering its modest budget of only $28 million (which is rare for an action movie) it may be able to break even if it is able to perform well in the international market. Domestically, I don’t see this movie lasting too long as Liam Neeson is rolling onto the scene in an action movie that is sure to rob 3 Days to Kill’s audience. Its life expectancy is not going to be helped by the fact that it is not critically well-received (only scoring 29% on Rotten Tomatoes), which is a factor that seems to come into play with movies for older audiences.

Managing to come in third was the 3D disaster movie Pompeii, which was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. In my write up last Friday I had mentioned about how making the movie with Anderson on a budget of $100 million (that is rumoured production budget, and does not include marketing) was a bad move by TriStar studio. It turns out that I was wrong about that, and the studio remains in a decent position as the film was funded completely by the German company Constantin Film. This is not the first time that the company has been involved with Anderson, who has seen financial success with the Resident Evil franchise but has a hard time making back money for any other type of movie. Constantin was involved in Anderson’s 2011 3D interpretation of The Three Musketeers that only made $20 million domestically on a budget of $90 million. I don’t deny that he had success early on with Mortal Kombat and that the Resident Evil franchise is profitable, but it does leave me a little baffled that he is able to still land these big budget films.

Other than that, there is very little that is of interest to note from this past weekend. Probably the most interesting is the fact that Robocop was able to hold out much better in its second weekend than the Kevin Hart comedy About Last Night. Despite having a stronger opening weekend and having a much better Rotten Tomato rating (Robocop is at 49% and About Last Night is at 76%), the 80s action movie remake was able to maintain a spot in the top five, while the romantic comedy ended up dropping to sixth place from debuting at number two. It saw a huge drop of 71% in gross for its second weekend, a percentage that is usually owned by ‘found footage’ horror movies. The two other romance movies from Valentine’s Day (Winter’s Tale, Endless Love) weekend saw drops of 70% as well, but it seemed easier to expect that drop for those films which were poorly reviewed and had sub-par opening weekend numbers. What makes the sharp drop of About Last Night more shocking is the fact that Kevin Hart is incredibly popular right now, and was teamed up with fellow cast mates from 2012’s box office success, Think Like a Man in Michael Ealy and Regina Hall. Perhaps people are sick and tired of the concept of romance after having had a full day devoted to the topic so recently.

Monday, February 24, 2014

RIP Harold Ramis 1944-2014

Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News/Getty Images

I remember watching the original Ghostbusters with my dad at the movie cinema. I can't recall if at the time I knew it was supposed to be a comedy. I remember being stoked to experience this picture, because it was about four guys with cool looking laser gun type things battling ghosts. My imagination was instantly captured in the first few minutes of the picture with the ghost librarian and I was immersed into the comical but exciting world for the entire running time. 

The strength of the writing is clear by how this picture was able to resonate at many levels towards many demographics. It was a fantasy action-adventure that occasionally made me laugh back when I was a little boy, and exactly the type of picture that this Star Wars fueled kid was in love with. It has remained a beloved movie as I've grown up and my taste in stories has expanded, because it was able to elevate beyond a mere genre. It was a witty and biting satire of old fashioned horror pictures but it also took the time to craft fleshed out characters along with having substantial dramatic moments and scenes that challenged some of the social issues of the time. It has depth, but remains a delightfully exciting and funny popcorn muncher. It also may be one of the very few high-budget comedies that succeeded in pulling out a high degree of laughs from the audience.

As an emotional boy with a vivid imagination that aspired to be the class clown but was always far too shy to reach that prestigious height, my affections leaned more towards Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Dr. Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd). I couldn't relate to the scientific and almost robotic Dr. Egon Spengler. I remember almost being more intimidated by him than the ghosts, and I couldn't understand why he'd spurn the advances of a girl (liking girls was never something I had to grow into). It would be fair to say he was my least favourite character the first time I saw the picture, but I still rooted for him because he was part of the awesome Ghostbusters.

The little boy was oblivious to the fact that the man playing Egon was partly responsible for the movie that I adored (he co-wrote the script). Back then, I couldn't dissociate actor from character. I also wasn't at the point where I could appreciate subtleties and nuance. I clearly wasn't aware that I was witnessing the comic genius of Harold Ramis. One of the most important actors, writers and directors of my lifetime. But I've had a lot of time to grow and learn since 1984 and I am much more aware of this man's impact on cinema.

It is easy to recognize the comedians that bounce off walls and make crazy impersonation as the apparent kings and queens of comedy. The comedians who are superstars because they instantly grab you and shake you up and take command of every scene. Ramis likely isn't the first person you think of when trying to list the funniest people in movies. He was never the lead or the person with the most memorable laughs in pictures. But even if he wasn't the easy comedy headliner, he was a clear comic genius, talented actor, and a great filmmaker.

30 years later, I now recognize the brilliance of Ramis' performance and his importance to Ghostbusters. Well, I realized it much faster than 30 years, but as time has gone on, it the Spengler character that has stuck with me. It is the Ramis performance that stands out as the one that really ties the picture together and is the real glue of the movie. Not only is Ramis incredibly funny, but he is the one that makes everyone else look that much more brilliant and wonderful. It takes a special talent to not steal the spotlight from other comedians while being funny but rather put on a performance that make everyone else's jokes that much funnier and brighter.

Ramis as Egon delivers so many witty but also ridiculous jokes in an expertly dry and serious manner that often it takes a few seconds to really hit you with their charm and genius. It is a droll performance that is so understated and peculiar that Ramis may be the only person who could have ever pulled it off. It was also the type of character Ramis perfected in his acting career. I wouldn't say he was typecasted or continued to go to the well for each performance. But rather that none of his characters were ever the obvious comedy focus or ever aware they were comedic, because every time his character considered himself serious and smart. Ramis was never afraid to reveal how goofy his characters truly were but it took a bit work to find those jokes. When you uncovered them, each one was a precious gem.

I can now recognize that his characters were almost always the highlight of the movie. Ramis was able to command each scene he was in and portray such a powerful wit without ever once stealing a scene from the real leads. He delivered some of the best laughs, but you often weren't really aware of it while it occurred. He still allowed the superstar comedians to give the impression they were running the show. Ramis was always a delight even when he was "slumming" it in lesser movies. He has one of the best scenes in the not so great Airheads as the undercover cop. After Ghostbusters, his acting really was left to smaller parts, but always some of the funnier parts of the picture.

His roles diminished because even though he is a brilliant comedic actor, his true gift was in directing and writing. He has crafted some of the most iconic and defining comedy picture of the modern era. He made obviously funny comedy pictures that comfortably shifted into other genres. They were straight comedies that never truly felt like pure comedies, and we always got much more than we'd expect. 

Groundhog Day is one of his greatest crowning achievements and a true symbol of his skill and what he gave to cinema. It is a romantic comedy that doesn't quite feel like a romantic comedy and one that easily attracts those that would claim they hate such a genre but still appeals to the very fans of that genre. It is also a picture that plays to the fan boys and girls that like to debate the real meaning of stories and try to solve the riddles of a sci-fi or fantasy picture. It has something that almost no other romantic comedy can claim, which is a mythology. It came out in 1993 but many a film geeks still like to debate exactly what caused the crusty weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) to be trapped in the loop that would torment but also reward him. Unlike many other similar movies, the fact we were never given a real answer is actually more satisfying 

The picture follows the tried and true romantic comedy pattern of two people who hate each other at the start but gradually fall deeply in love as the picture progresses. It turns out to be much more than that. It is a clever twist on the Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life that focuses more on the main character seeking redemption but first being shown such a thing is what must be sought. It is an intriguing character study that starts with a caricature but slowly allows him to become fully formed. It ends up being about more than just Phil learning the error of his ways but is also an effective looks at the magic of small town life. At the same time it is a film full of deeper imagery and symbolism that rewards one who goes for repeated viewings. It is a classic that has grown in prestige and wealth as the years have gone by.

Ramis was a funny screenplay writer that always knew to add in deep human elements and willing to play within various genres in order to provide a good story but also amplify the jokes. His films were rich and much more complicated than one could see on the surface. He also proved to be a director who could pull out incredible performances, and it shouldn't be any surprise many of Murray's most acclaimed pictures came from Ramis' direction.

If one tries to compile some of the most classic and complex comedies of the past several decades then you'll often find pictures that Ramis either wrote or directed. Animal House, Stripes, Meatballs, Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day are not only iconic comedies that are considered treasures of the genre but have all had great influence on many comedies and sitcoms that have proceeded them. These pictures have not only inspired countless comedians and filmmakers and created the template for other pictures, but they've held up well for new film fans.

Ramis always made pictures that would have jokes that grew over time. Pictures that offered things that made other genres great. He'd do straight slapstick but also have warmth and heart, but then toss in some high octane action. This approach to making films that went beyond comedy often meant that even his failures turned into pictures that exceeded their initial reputation. Analyze This, Year One, and Ice Harvest are films that even with their flaws and missteps still have some entertaining moments and offer up something different than many much more generic comedies. The talents of Ramis always shone through and he created some of the most ambitious of comedies.

Ramis' pictures were always something special. It is sad to think that a man who played a big part in defining my childhood and created films that I hold close to my heart won't be creating any more. He won't be forming any new memories for me. His catalogue is now done. It is a wondrous and rich catalogue. One that I plan to return to over and over again.

Ramis will be missed. I send my condolences to the people that actually knew him and have been hit much harder by this. He will be remembered and celebrated for a long time.

As thanks for all he has done, maybe I'll watch a few of his pictures on constant repeat.

RIP Harold Ramis.

It's the Academy Awards Again, So Time to Live Blog This Sucker

Last year, I decided that I'd commemorate the biggest and longest movie awards show of the year by live blogging it. It ended up being one of the highest viewed pieces on the site, and it also turned out to be pretty fun. I've just decided this minute that I'll do it again this year. In order to avoid just writing to an audience of one, I thought I'd hype it up a bit the week before.

If you plan to watch the Academy Awards or even don't plan to watch them, but really think this Sunday evening would be a happier place with my snarky comments than hop on here at 8:30.

A few things about how I do the live blog. First of all, I couldn't possibly care less about what people wear or any of the fashion. Unless someone comes in a dress of live peacocks than I'll likely not give outfits a single mention. If I am mentioning the wardrobes than it has become one awfully dull show.

The other major thing is that I'm not really planning to cover it in a conventional sense. In that my goal isn't to just recount what is happening or list all the winners. There will be countless sites to do that just fine. Instead it will likely be more like a commentary where I throw in any thought that come to me and respond to what is happening at the event. It will likely work better as a companion piece while you watch the awards yourself.

Hopefully, it is entertaining enough that if you just want to ignore the awards but chill on this blog that turns out to be a feasible option too. No matter what you choose, I will be watching the awards. I will be bringing the snark to the blog. Live!

The Breakdown of Who We Think Should Win at the Oscars

The Academy Awards are this coming Sunday, and we've decided to celebrate the biggest movies awards show of the year by doing our own. Scott and I will look at all the major performance categories, the Best Director, and Best Picture categories, then vote on who we think actually deserves to win. The Academy can be entrenched in politics sometimes, and so not always the deserving performer or picture wins, so we want to explain who we think are really worthy this year. It definitely leads to some lively discussion.


Friday, February 21, 2014

You Should Be Watching Hockey Anyway. . .

I'm taking yet another weekend off from the blog. I have a short story I really need to focus on getting done and ready to be sent out. On top of that, I have some pressing pay copy. When I am not writing it would be nice to do that father and husband thing. Plus there are a few hockey games I may allow to occupy my time too. I'll be back on Monday with a special Oscar edition of the Breakdown.

Pompeii May Be Heading for Disaster at the Box Office

Scott is predicting a disastrous weekend for the new releases at the box office. It looks like The LEGO Movie is building up to three straight weekend victories if we're to trust Scott (and anyone with common sense).

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Well, this is the week that I have been dreading to write about, and the reason for that is Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii, which looks to cash in on the already cashed out graphic style from 300 as well as reminding us that a decent movie called Gladiator was once made and throwing a volcano into the mix for some reason. I suppose the reason is so they can name the movie after an event that really happened, but I am really doubting the volcano really needs to be inserted into the plot of a slave who became a gladiator, who fought for something more. By the time you read this, I will have seen the movie for some odd reason.

While I normally have to tussle around a number of different strategies for coming up with my prediction numbers, this one became quite easy. So far this year has had two CGI style action movies completely flop in I, Frankenstein and The Legend of Hercules, earning opening weekends of $8.6 million and $8.8 million respectively. I would be insanely shocked if Pompeii is able to have a much better start than those films, especially since Paul W.S. Anderson really does not have the best of records with movies that are not in the Resident Evil franchise. Most recently, it was his oddly visualized 3D interpretation of Three Musketeers endured box office hardship as it only made $8.6 million its opening weekend before finishing at $20 million domestically on a budget of $90 million (I will add that it did take in $139 million worldwide, but it would have had to do closer to $200 million to break even on its production and marketing budgets).

I have not been able to find budget information as of yet for Pompeii, but I am left wondering why such large amounts of money get entrusted to a regularly unproven director. TriStar should be more than a bit worried about their investment right now, but at least they can take some joy in the fact that rival studio Lionsgate was responsible for both of those other box office flops that I mentioned. Oh, I just found an estimated budget of $100 million… bad move TriStar, bad move. While some people may think the fact that the movie is in 3D will aide it by giving it higher ticket prices, I am actually seeing it as having a possible negative effect. The movie looks crappy, does not have a proven Hollywood lead, and costs more money than others, factors that add up to making it a less than appealing option for audiences this weekend. Also, if this is any indicator, at the time of writing this, Boxoffice.com shows the positive to negative tweet ratio for this movie being 1:1 right now, which is terrible news for a movie that is set to open.

Pompeii Opening Weekend Prediction - $8 million

Another film opening this weekend is 3 Days to Kill, a movie which places Kevin Costner into an action role as he has three days to kill people, or at least I am lead to believe. Theatres have not been kind to action movies this year. Not only did we have the two bombs that I have already mentioned, but there was also the disappointing performance of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which looks like it would be aiming for a similar audience to this movie. If Chris Pine was only able to bring in a $15 million opening weekend with an established brand, I see cannot see 3 Days to Kill coming close to that number.

Some could easily argue that it is a poor comparison because Chris Pine has not been able to establish himself as a solid draw as of yet, but the perfect counter point is that Costner is no longer a draw. His films have had a seriously hard time gaining opening weekend traction for years. Outside of Man of Steel, the last time a movie with Costner in it made more than $20 million its opening weekend was in 1995 with Waterworld (a film that ended up hurting his reputation). His brand was hurt even worse two films later when he was in The Postman, which made $17 million worldwide on a budget of $80 million. And a few movies later (none of which made back their money) he had Thirteen Days ($66 million worldwide on a budget of $80 million), 3000 Miles to Graceland ($18 million worldwide on a budget of $62 million), and Dragonfly ($30 million worldwide on a budget of $60 million). What appeal Costner has had in the box office is long gone, which is a shame because he is capable of giving good performances. Luckily for 3 Days to Kill the budget seems to be quite modest for an action film at just under $30 million, but even so it may be a long road for Relativity to get even close to some profit.

3 Days to Kill Opening Weekend Prediction - $7 million

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canadian Women's Hockey Team Show How It's Done

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images 

I've already declared the Olympics as some of the most exciting and compelling entertainment on television.  Part of that comes from seeing athletes who have gone through great adversity and challenges in order to have those 15 minutes of glory. Another part of the compelling nature comes from the endearing human nature stories that include the video packages that showcase support given from families. There are also the unscripted moments of athletes from other countries come alongside competitors to assist them. I also have to confess that a good portion of the drama and excitement just comes from cheering on my home country of Canada and seeing them pull out spectacular victories.

I've been treated to a lot of those great moments at this year's Olympics. I had already mentioned in my Collective Publishing article the heart warming and inspiring victory done by Alexandre Bilodeau who pulled off the first ever successful gold medal defense in freestyle skiing. It was just as thrilling in women's moguls to see Justine Dufour-Lapointe take home our first gold medal of the games while being able to share the podium with her sister Chloé who won the silver. Charles Hamelin being another great athlete to repeat the magic from Vancouver by winning gold in 1500m short track speed skating and following it up with his now trademark post victory smooch with girlfriend Marianne St-Gelais. A come from behind victory is always a wonderfully sweet thing, so it was a thrill bigger than any sports movie could capture when Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse jumped into first place and captured the gold in bobsleigh with their final run. At the same time, domination can be fun sometimes too, so it was incredible to watch Jennifer Jones lead the women's curling team on an undefeated run that rocketed straight to the top of the podium.

All these moments were exciting and had a happy ending for those rooting for Team Canada. It made for good television and all deserves to be on any highlight reel about Canada's competing at the Winter Games. In many of these cases, there were great stories about these athletes overcoming adversity to rise to the top of their sport.

But when we think sports in Canada, most think hockey. Not to downplay any of the great moments prior and Bilodeau has proven that engaging stories can be remembered and will make an amateur athlete into a star. One of the big focuses today was the Canadian women's hockey team going to war with their biggest rivals the Americans for that oh-so-pretty gold. The Americans held seven straight international wins over Canada. Of course, Canada had three straight gold medals to their credit before today. It isn't too hard to choose which of those two feats matter most.

Especially since one of those streaks has been broken, and the Canadian woman are without a doubt currently the most dominant team in Olympic hockey with their fourth tasty gold medal to be added to the trophy case.

A victory is a wondrous thing. A blow-out causes the heart and breathing to be more regular. It is always sweetest when it is a hard fought win that comes right down to the wire. It is why motion pictures always script victories to rely on that final shot. It is exciting to see a team battle right down to the end and emerge against all odds to be champion.

The women's hockey team not only showed how to win, but they did it in the most adrenaline pumping fashion you could ask for. They did it by coming back from a 2 goal deficit with less than four minutes left in regulation play. Considering how the Americans had been playing up to that point, it was fair for most to think it was time call it an afternoon and get ready for dinner. The Canadian women wanted to make it a classic game with the most nail biting finale possible. They surprised with two goals in a short period of time and sent this game into sudden death overtime.

The period that shows up in almost all sports movies, but rather rare in the real world.

If you're going to win in spectacular fashion then overtime is the way to do it. In an extra period that at first looked to be an American domination, the Canadians fought to not only make it riveting television but capped it off with a happy ending I wanted. It was likely the goal that caused most of Canada to erupt into cheers. Because really, who was working when championship hockey was being played.

Women's hockey doesn't get much recognition out of the Olympics. There isn't the same fanbase for their leagues. This is their pinnacle and crowning moment. Since this is the main event of women's hockey, it has a lot higher stakes than the men's since many of their Olympians get a chance to shine on a nightly basis in the NHL. Marie-Philip Poulin delivered the sweet goal and became yet another great inspiration from young hockey players across Canada. Today she is a well-deserved sports hero, and a reminder some of the greatest moments of sports come from outside the professional ranks.

Real sports can provide some of the best drama and action in all of entertainment. Sometimes it creates a script that is better than anything a writer can come up with. This was perfect television -- if you're Canadian. It had the golden victory but was done in a way that couldn't have been more captivating. A come from behind victory in an overtime where I spent possibly 15 seconds in my chair -- that is only because I don't have the ladies' endurance.

Take pointers Canadian men's hockey team. This isn't only the result I expect against the Americans, but this is how you create one memorable game.

Congrats ladies. I'm glad I could support you and lead you to victory by jumping up and down in my living room like a sugar fueled orangutan. 

Melissa McCarthy and the Guardians of the Galaxy Rock Out to Oldies in This Week's Trailer Reviews

This week we have a few trailers to pictures that are on many movie sites most anticipated of the year. We also have some trailers to pictures you probably will just be hearing about for the first time today. But I'm trying to get you to read this, so let's focus on the stuff you might already be giddy about. Speaking of which. . .

Tammy (July 2/Wide) - Teaser



Christopher: This was one of the pictures that I've been eagerly anticipating without having seen the trailer. Though that anticipation was followed with little specks of apprehension. After seeing this teaser, I have to admit that I'm a little split on it.

The actual trailer looks hilarious, and I'm sure it will turn out to be a movie with some incredibly funny moments. I love Melissa McCarthy trying to keep the one employee at bay by aiming her hand that was making a gun sign and the poor bewildered employee bringing that to her attention. McCarthy acting like she was truly touched that the guy asked if she liked apple flavoured pies was pretty delicious, as was her saluting the guy after announcing he was a vet. The woman has incredible comic talent, and she made even fumbling with a wooden spoon hilarious. I also loved seeing Sarah Baker in this trailer as she was quite funny in the short-lived sitcom Go On and so hopefully, she has a chance to strut her stuff a bit here too.

My concern with this picture is that it is McCarthy once again playing the rough around the edges type who isn't so bright. She is getting typecast, when she has proven she can do more than this character with a few special moments in her previous pictures. The more unsettling thing here is McCarthy co-wrote this screenplay with her husband who is also directing. It appears she also thinks these are the movie she is meant to do. Now, Tom Hanks once has a certain type of character he always played as did Jim Carrey, and so there is hope she'll eventually break-out to new roles. I just hope she does it before her star start to fall.

This teaser actually doesn't even show the stuff I'm most excited about. The story is that Tammy goes on a road trip with her foul-mouthed and diabetic grandmother who is played by Susan Sarandon. I am over the moon giddy about Sarandon having such a role, because movies like Bull Durham have proven she is a really under-appreciated comic talent. A look at the casting also promises talents like Kathy Bates and Allison Janney who also are hilarious. This really has great chance to be a really funny movie, but also has the talent to add dramatic depth in the right spots when needed. Consider this the comedy I am most excited about this summer.

Scott: Chris and I have talked many times about the career trajectory of Melissa McCarthy and our hopes that she will one day be able to branch out and do different types of roles. Do not get me wrong, I laugh until my stomach hurts when I see her movies, but there is an underlying talent in there that could do a wide range of movies, me thinks. I imagine that when she has established herself enough she will be able to try out some different things without tarnishing her brand. Hanks was well into his career before Philadelphia, and Adam Sandler was a number of movies deep before Punch Drunk Love. I believe she can get there eventually.

For me, I cannot stop giggling when she is trying to use the wooden spoon. I have had my adventures with wooden spoons before (mostly revolving around spattering sauces), but never one of the caliber that is in this trailer. Of course, because this is showing events from one contained scene, there is a possibility that the rest of the film could be pure crap, but I am doubting that. I am sure that even if I don’t walk away from this film completely recommending it to people, I know I will have had my laughs and gotten my money’s worth.

Joe (April 11/Limited) - Trailer #1



Christopher: In my review of the initial international trailer, I'd already talked at length about Nicholas Cage and Director David Gordon Green and how I hope this picture can be a huge boost for both artists' careers. I won't tread over that ground but instead mention that this is one of those rare times that the second trailer actually increases my interest and they effectively showed more about the picture without making it feel like they spoiled the best parts. This time the trailer makes the picture seem more focused on the Cage character, which probably should have been a given considering it is named after him, but the initial trailer made it feel more like a dark coming-of-age tale with Tye Sheridan being a major focus while Joe being more of the father type. This time around it looks to be more about Joe being torn about trying to stay out of prison while also being the dark avenger for Sheridan's poor abused boy. The little bits of the trailer already show Cage being able to tackle a complicated character and have the opportunity to emote a wide variety of feelings. This looks to be a dark dramatic thriller type that hopefully offers up a diverse array of complicated characters. It is essentially a picture that harkens back to earlier stages in Green's career. Consider me very stoked for this one, and really hoping it turns out be a revitalization for Cage.

Scott: I may be considered an outsider for this fact, but I get very excited over Nicolas Cage playing complex characters in reeled in performances. I am completely going to parrot Chris in saying this second trailer did nothing but raise the level of excitement that I have in seeing this movie. When Cage is unrestrained, it gets a bit crazy, but in the proper, focused roles the man can deliver incredibly nuanced performances. Throw in Tye Sheridan, and we got ourselves a stew going. For a young actor, Sheridan is able to portray a lot of mature emotions and create characters that feel vivid and real. As far as I am concerned, he had better be building a shelf to display the Oscars that he will one day be winning.

Think Like a Man Too (June 20/Wide)



Christopher: The original picture was a surprise hit from 2012 that was based on Steve Harvey's bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. This time around Kevin Hart is an even bigger star than he was the first time around, so I'm sure he'll get even more focus. Hart is a lot like McCarthy is that he is red hot at the box office, but he also has been pigeon holed into a specific type of role. A role that often times is quite funny, but if that is all he does then the backlash will rear its ugly head sooner than studios would hope or expect.

The one thing that makes me optimistic is that Hart and Regina Hall's banter and ability to play off each other was the best part of About Last Night. It looks like the two will be the leaders of their respective factions thus lots of chance for them to interact and war. The downside is that this trailer really isn't very funny and makes it all seem like a very generic party in Vegas comedy. I must confess that Hart's gag about Oz got a strong laugh out of me, but it is rather scary if that turns out to be the funniest part of the movie.

Another interesting note is that Director Tim Story looks to be building a relationship with Hart. He has directed both Man pictures but was also behind the camera for Ride Along. He may currently be set for some decent success at the box office and I'm sure this will do fine, but the quality may be the harder thing to land.

Scott: Kevin Hart, the owner of season one of Oz, looks to continue his reign of supremacy in the box office. I have some mixed feelings about this trailer… it looks like it could be funny at times, but it looks like a lot of the jokes could fall flat on the floor. I have a feeling by looking at it that it is a very rushed sequel that could leave people staying at home. I felt the same way about Grown Ups 2, so what the heck do I know? I am guessing that it will be a box office success, and a film that gets panned by critics. I really need to see something different from future trailers to get any kind of personal excitement going for this film.

A Birder's Guide to Everything (March 21/Limited & March 11/VOD)



Christopher: I've got an extreme soft spot for coming-of-age stories, especially ones with quirky and awkward protagonists that have alienating and uncool hobbies that they're obsessed about. It likely has something to do with the fact it rings just the right amount of truth back to my own childhood and teen years, but also the outcast always brings a stronger authenticity to the teenage experience. Deep down I think we all felt a little out of sorts during those years, and even if we were the jock or cheerleader (but really probably most reading this site weren't) that there were those moments we felt on the outside looking in. I loved the scene with the guy so obsessed with his club that he was ready to kick out the person for not taking it serious enough or possibly using it to land a girl. I remember that kind of guy who wanted to rule over the club that was far too geeky, but to him it was the world. This picture looks like it might strike the right balance of the obsessions that helps one try to find self, but also just the natural teenage things like crushing on the cute girl.

Ben Kingsley is just about great in everything he is in. I love him as the bird obsessed guy who is sort of competing but also trying to team with the group of boys. I also forgot to mention that I love that the group of boys are adamant that they're birders rather than bird watchers. But let's get back to the cast, because it is a great young cast. Katie Chang proved she had some great subtle comic timing in The Bling Ring and this time around will be playing a totally different character but one that still seems to have a confidence and presence. I loved Kodi Smit-McPhee as the outsider boy who befriends a vampire in Let Me In, and he is likely on the brink of well-deserved stardom with his starring role in the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

I'm very excited about this picture, because it seems to have all the right elements for an honest, sweet, and funny coming-of-age story. It will likely be a pain to try to track down this year if the goal is to see it on the big screen. Luckily, this is a film that works just as well on the small screen, and should much easier to find thanks to accessibility of video-on-demand.

Scott: This trailer makes it appear as though it is a delightful little film that can capture the heart of youth striving for their passions while up against the grown up world. Call it a bad comparison, but it reminded me a bit of Stand By Me in the fact that it is a quest that the group of young friends are on while trying to save the purity of the event from the older folk. Perhaps I am just grasping at things with that comparison, but it made sense to me.

Kingsley is the man. One of my favourite bit roles from 2013 was his performance in Iron Man 3, as we got to see a mad hilarity come out of his performance as The Mandarin. It looks like his role will be almost that of mentor and obstacle to the kids by bringing in the older birders. I think this film could do well at creating youngsters that people can relate to and root for, while providing some fun in a quirky setting.

Jodorowsky's Dune (March 7/Limited)



Christopher: I'm a big fan of getting peeks into the creative process. I also like looking at the long list of "what could have been" pictures. Jodorowsky's version of Dune could have been one of the biggest pictures that never came to fruition for numerous reasons. The intriguing part is that the initial stages of this picture started three years before Star Wars. If things went as planned then this could have been the giant tentpole that launched sci-fi blockbusters into a new direction. It had the added value of being a bestselling classic that would have had a huge fanbase eager to gobble up this picture. Instead, the world had to settles for the far less ambitious and horribly muddled David Lynch version in 1984.

The storyboards and plans of the picture are pretty impressive. It is cool seeing the influences of the picture that never existed on later ones. H.R, Giger ended up taking a lot of the visuals from this movie and incorporating it into Alien, which then left an impact on future sci-fi. Based off the casting that included the likes of David Carradine (who would have been a star in the mid-70s), Mick Jagger, and an older Orson Welles there is just as a good chance that this turned into a train-wreck. It really is the ambition and the scope that makes this never-made picture so curious and compelling. It should be a fun piece of forgotten cinematic history that looks at a king of the midnight movies trying to make an innovative and genre-changing picture.

Scott: Ha ha, I am glad Chris brought up the fact that the movie could have been a train wreck if it came out, because when they were talking about casting I was really scratching my head. Getting Wells on board by promising him his chef every day while on set sounds similar to Christopher Plummer taking the role in Star Crash because it meant he got to be in Italy for a few days.

I do not know much about the history behind this, but it is the type of trailer that builds interest despite my ignorance. It looks like a very rich story at a turning point in sci-fi, and it could have drastically shaped the cinematic landscape if it had actually been shot. The imagination and detail that are involved show a mind that was able to create an entire universe, and getting a glimpse into that, as well as the behind the scenes stuff makes me very interested to see this documentary.

Unbroken (December 25/Wide)



Christopher: 2014 is turning out to be a huge year for Angelina Jolie fans as she returns both to acting and at the end of the year, directing. I really like how they composed this trailer because it felt like a mini-doc rather than an advertisement. Obviously, it was a trailer designed to sell a wide release picture, but it was effective in disguising the selling while feeling more like informing. I think it would be pretty cool if they embedded some snippets of Louise Zamperini recounting his trials in Japan along with the acted out bits of the event. I'd trust Jolie's hand enough to avoid it from feeling like America Most Wanted and more like Touching of the Void that effectively used a similar approach if this is the route chosen.

I wouldn't totally discount a hybrid style of filmmaking like that since one of the Jolie's previous films she directed was a documentary. Based off the trailer and how they made it almost feel like Jolie was still at work, I'd say this is going to be a more traditional style picture. The marketing really does seem to try to point towards authenticity and focus on historical accuracy. Not that will actually turn out to be the reality. I'm intrigued to see how they tell this story, and considering how much time Jolie takes in between pictures, I think this has a lot of potential to be special.

Scott: Some things are a hit, and some things are a miss… this trailer is a miss for me. While Chris likes the way it was packaged, it almost felt a little too overly sentimental to me and that it is really trying to establish itself as a legendary inspirational story. I really would like to see a straight up trailer for this film, because I just could not get into the presentation of this one. I think there are lot of elements in the tale that could make for a great story, but too much of an emotional punch inserted can create issues with rich source material, such as I found with Lone Survivor and Saving Mr. Banks. I have a feeling that this is a passion project for Jolie, so I hope that I am just reading this all wrong and that it ends up being a great film.

In Fear (March 7/Limited & VOD)



Christopher: As domestic horror pictures have become stale and formulaic, it is the foreign market that has been crafting original and unsettling scary movies that are reshaping the genre. The last few years have brought us several almost instant cult hits. There have been two main types, such as the out-right-wacky-and-insane that is heaped with dollops of black humour such as Rabies, and the straight out unsettling and creepy pictures that this one seems to fall under.

Solely based off the trailer, this looks like a disturbing picture that is very patient in the storytelling and relying heavy on atmosphere rather than jump scares. I'm sure things will go bump in the night as well. I like the idea of the secret tormentor and how it appears they've stumbled upon some labyrinthine trap. The tension looks like it will slowly be built up until the tormentors and their purpose will finally be revealed. I also like the idea that the action and situations unnerve the protagonists so much that they start accusing each other. It has been a long time since I've seen a horror picture that has effectively used the device of the characters naturally turning on each other based off them becoming unraveled by the tense events. As long as this doesn't start serving up some wacky villain reveals or strays towards torture porn then we may have a fresh and original horror picture to enjoy this year. I'll need to invest in light night after seeing this, as I thought it was a good idea to live in a wooded neighbourhood with winding roads.

Scott: It is odd just how similarly Chris and I view things sometimes… sometimes, that is. He got all excited about seeing R.I.P.D. from the trailer, while I got all excited about seeing Captain Phillips from the second trailer they put out… which one of us are you going to believe? Also, after we have seen certain movies our views can get very different, but in this case it is quite the same. This movie looks like it knows how to take its time and bring about a slow and mysterious build in a film, and proves that there are much more interesting things happening in the world of horror than we find in the North American box office.

While the director of the film is doing their first feature film, the two producers are very experienced from working on films like The World’s End, Attack the Block, and Hot Fuzz, which makes me feel that this should be a pretty tight film. There were times during this trailer where I could feel the suspense growing within me, so I have some hopes that this movie will be able to deliver from start to finish.

Locke (April 25/Limited)



Christopher: I'm always a bit hesitant on a trailer that spends more time throwing out quotes disguised as accolades rather than actually showing me what warrants what I'm reading. This doesn't mean Locke isn't worthy of the army of praises that were trotted out. As far as I can tell, it is a story about one man going insane on his car ride home. The synopsis mentions how one phone call causes Ivan Locke's good life to unravel and he now must try to salvage it on this car ride. I'm hoping the end game doesn't just turn out it is all imagined, because I'm definitely getting the "art house picture relying on a twist that explains everything but makes everything prior useless now" vibe.

I could very well be completely wrong, but the trailer doesn't give me much. I realize this is being billed as a teaser, and so the point is more just subtle hints to the plot rather than unveil the whole thing. I've also talked at length in the past how annoying it is when studios give away the entire plot in their promotional material. This is kind of the other extreme, because I'm just not really hooked by what I see. It just feels like too many other indy pictures that are trying to be deep, trippy and profound without anything all that intriguing to drive the story. Right now it feels all concept over story. There is one thing I'm intrigued about, which is Tom Hardy being thrown into a film where he'll like need to emote and show range. I love it when actors stretch themselves, and if this ends up being a strong script, this could be the eye-opening movie for Hardy. I'm just hesitant based off what has been shown.

Scott: With all of those excerpts from reviews popping up on the screen, I decided to check it out and make sure they were not making it all up or taking it out of context. After doing a bit of snooping, it looks like people really are digging this film, and I tried not to read too much of the reviews because I would rather know little about a movie that I have not seen. I get the feeling that there is some interesting story telling going on here, but that comes more from what I have read than what I have seen. I suppose that does not really comment on the content of the trailer, but the trailer leaves everything extremely vague.

Personally, I am quite intrigued as it sounds like it is almost a one man show from Tom Hardy. He didn’t exactly steal the show from Batman, but that was partially because he was hard to understand from behind his mask. I think it would have been a fine touch to the movie if he had to continually repeat what he was saying and have to start talking slowly so people could catch his drift. I am going down a bunny trail right now, so I best pull it together and leave it at the fact that I am interested, but more from what I have read than from the execution of the trailer.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1/Wide)



Christopher: And this lady and gentlemen is one of the most anticipated trailers of the year. One that has had so much build-up it even had a short teaser trailer this week to promote this version that finally premiered Tuesday night during Jimmy Kimmel Live! Much of the eagerness comes from Marvel really building itself a rep as the must-see blockbuster studio that has successfully linked all their pictures ever since the first Iron Man. The teases started for this one back during The Avengers stinger that debuted Thanos (the one that wasn't about shawarma) and then ramped up with the Thor: The Dark World that introduced us to Benicio Del Toro's character The Collector (with enough ambiguity that people are still debating if he is the villain or not). The other major thing that has pumped up the excitement for this picture is that it will be entirely different than what at this point has been mainly superhero pictures set mostly on Earth. This time around the buzz has been that this will turn out closer to being a space opera in the vein of Star Wars.

Based off the pre-trailer talk, I'm going to predict this trailer turned out far different than many of the expectations. This far more tongue-in-cheek and campy than anything Marvel has put out since becoming the summer movie king. I am not familiar with the source material so I am unaware how loyal this has turned out. I was sort of expecting something close to this not only because there is a raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper or a giant walking vegetation thing but it is being directed by James Gunn.

He has largely eschewed mainstream pictures before this with his only real wide release picture being the horror-comedy pastiche Slither. His pictures feel like they'd be quite at home during the midnight movies era of the '60s and '70s with their schlocky and exploitative tendencies. I'm sure studios stayed close by to keep it friendly and as mainstream as possible, but based off the trailer that has been cut here, I think they wanted something tonally and stylistically different than the previous pictures. I'm going to be optimistic that Disney knew what they were getting here.

It may very likely aim for the scope and visuals of a Star Wars, but the feel and writing will be drastically different. For one thing, it is already clear it will be taking itself far less serious. This picture reminds me more of something like The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension or the numerous other bigger budget, stylized B-films of the late '70s and early '80s that creeped out after Star Wars (if I mention this picture one more time I get a free bag of popcorn). The language and characters in this trailer are far less spawned from Greek mythology and King Arthurian legend (like Star Wars -- mmm, popcorn) but rather far more designed to be subversive and jar you out of what you expect from the set designs.

The trailer itself is declaring this a picture that will have continental sized tonal shifts and likely aim to be the anti-big budget blockbuster by flipping off the comfortable formula and rules. This likely is going to be something like The Lone Ranger where the plot tangles in many directions and freely jumps into different genres and feels throughout. I'm expecting and hoping for a picture that is both ambitious and challenging but also at the same time feels fluffy and ridiculous. After several years of well produced and shiny pictures that look spectacular and largely play it safe and are easy to swallow, it will be welcoming to have something so daring in its attempt to shake us and the cinematic landscape a bit. This should feel different and fresh, and even if it fall flat on its face, it'll at least be something very counter to most other straightforward and by-the-numbers blockbusters

My final take away from this trailer is that I have a slight crush on Chris Pratt. His character calling himself the Star Lord and slightly annoyed no one else seems to want to play ball is great fun. He brings the right type of performance and feel to what I'm expecting this picture is aiming towards. I really hope the Marvel name is enough to bring out the audience, because I want this man to be a star.

Scott: I really do live out of the loop of pop culture sometimes, as I know very little about Guardians of the Galaxy or why it is so anticipated. Part of that could be because I generally don’t give a rat’s ass about comic book movies, so why in the world would I care that another one was being made? There is something to this trailer, however, that makes me think there could be some great fun in there, almost with a Joss Whedon feel at times. My favourite part of the film was the fact that ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ was prominently featured. Some people may know it primarily as a Blue Swede song, but people should be quick to check out the rockin’ music video for David Hasselhoff’s version. If you have seen it, then you should check out the literal version… much fun to be had.

Okay, back to what I was supposed to be writing about. Can you tell that it is getting late and I am tired while I am writing this? I really cannot seem to stay on track. All I want to do is talk about how I would love it if Nathan Fillion was in this film. I think he would rock it out of the park, but it looks like Chris Pratt will do a fine and dandy job as is. There was some good humour in this trailer, as well as some moments of some great looking special effects in what may end up being an entertaining piece of eye candy. My interest is rising, but perhaps not even close to the same level as many other people out there.

Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club (March 14/Wide)



Christopher: The people who love Tyler Perry movies have probably already bought their tickets. The people who don't like him then probably feel the exact same way I did about this trailer: confused over those fans existing.

Scott: Well, after Chris wrote so little, it is now my time to shine. This trailer did not really remind me of anything, so I guess that is good. I am currently trying to remember the trailer (which I watched only a minute ago) and cannot recall a thing, so I guess that is bad. How is it possible that I was able to forget something so quickly? Just sitting here and trying to mull over the situation, I already find myself very distracted. Partially I am thinking about the fact that Chris and I are going to see Pompeii on my dime, and wondering why the heck that ever came to be. I feel myself getting frustrated and upset at the mere mention of the film, and somehow I ended up convincing myself not to just go and spend the money, but to pay for another ticket as well so I don’t have to go alone. Remember how I mocked Chris earlier for R.I.P.D? Well, there is a good chance that I will be the one shouldering some blame when we go over our ‘worst of the year’ list at the end of 2014. You never know, we may come back and have something good to report, but the smart money is not on that happening as it looks like 300 mounted Gladiator and gave birth to a variant of Dante’s Peak. And with that, perhaps now is when I should stop writing and get some sleep.