Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Rim

02
Mar
14

Favorite Films of 2013

"You can't repeat the past." "Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can old sport."

“You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can old sport.”

Whatever films the Academy chooses to award honor tonight, at the end of the day their decision is simply that–their decision. Like any art form, how people interpret and perceive a film is a personal experience unique to them. We all have our likes and dislikes so no matter what one group of people decide, know that the only person who’s opinion truly matters is your own.

We often throw the word ‘Best’ around like we’re some kind of authority on something, “this place has the BEST loco moco.” Or “that was the BEST movie.” And granted, I’ve been guilty of it myself (see the titling for yesterday’s post). With that in mind and in an effort to be better representative of talking about decisions, lists, and preferences that are personal to one particular person (myself) . . .

I give you my favorite films from 2013:

10. This Is The End

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I knew that when I first saw This Is The End, one of the very first opinions I formed about it was that it wasn’t just a funny movie–it was a smart one as well. It could have been the fact that at the very end of the movie there’s a cameo that I thought was just totally off the wall hilarious. After a second viewing though, the film only grew on me. Part of the fun of it definitely is the self referential humor that the guys bring–while I don’t think that’s actually how they are in real life, they are definitely playing off their personas somewhat. Another aspect of the film I love is just how smart the comedy and story actually are. From the practicalness of their reasoning, to how they react to certain situations, to how they intermingle with one another; there are some very smart decisions going on that make the film really fun, and elevates it above a lot of comedies that we get these days.

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9. Her

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What I like about Her is that aside from the whole technology aspect of it, I think it’s a great vision of how our society is and where it’s heading. What I like even better than that are the questions about technology and relationships that the film asks us to look at. Can a human have a personal and intimate (a “real”) relationship with a piece of technology? While watching the film the answer isn’t as easy as you might think and I love that director and writer Spike Jonze is asking us the question. Joaquin Phoenix is just wonderful as the quiet and introverted human while Scarlett Johannson’s voice work is pretty soulful.

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8. Pacific Rim

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I wasn’t having all that much fun last summer until I saw Pacific Rim. I was just gobsmacked by the creativity, action, and spectacle that was in the film. The movie is pure fun to watch and classic summer blockbuster fare. Seeing these huge metal robots go up against even larger sea monsters made me feel like a little kid again. Guillermo del Toro has a great sense of imagination and you can feel that seeing the Jaeger’s and Kaiju battle it out on screen.

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7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Part of it is the sci-fi aspect of the dystopian society, part of it is the story itself, yet still another part of it is that Jennifer Lawrence anchors a pretty solid cast in a film that further develops a potentially great series. While I liked The Hunger Games well enough, Catching Fire takes things to another level. This second outing isn’t encumbered by setting up the story and world building that the first film had to go through and you definitely get a sense that the cast is more comfortable this time around with the story a little more epic in scope. Throw in the fact that Lionsgate kicked in extra budget for the sequel (you know I love my production value), and Catching Fire is not only an exciting sequel, but one of those occasions where the second one is better than the first.

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6. The Croods

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From the first time I saw it, I utterly fell in love with The Croods. For starters I think the animation is on par if not better than Dreamworks Animation’s beloved film from a few years ago, How to Train Your Dragon. But more so than that, I was really into the story of family and change that The Croods presented, and I’m not going to lie, my heartstrings got pulled a litte towards the end. While the film features a wonderful voice work from the likes of Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and Nicholas Cage; it’s the characters they embody that really made me laugh and enjoy the film.

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5. American Hustle

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Hypothetically speaking, even if American Hustle didn’t have a plot to speak of, I would still watch this film just to see this group of actors perform. It’s no wonder that the film won the Best Ensemble acting award from the Screen Actor’s Guild as it truly is an acting showcase and great to see actors at this high of a caliber working with one another in the same film. Everyone in the film really gets into their roles and gives rich and nuanced performances. While the story was a little muddled at times, having this cast kept me in it the entire time, making me want to see what would happen next.

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4. Gravity

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While the film is a technological achievement in cinema, I prefer to focus on what was presented to me in the theater when I saw Gravity–an intense roller coaster ride of a film that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Through the magic of a dark theater, 3D, and surround sound (yes, despite the fact that there is no actual sound in space because there’s no air); Gravity is an awe-inspiring theatrical experience. If you didn’t tell me that this was done in a studio with lots of green screens, it’s exactly what I imagine space to be. The entire time Sandra Bullock’s character is struggling to make it home, I was hoping she would make it to the next station, grab on to some handhold, or magically understand Chinese because the film had me so immersed in her experience of fighting for her life in vastness of space.

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3. The Wolf of Wall Street

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Though I’m always down for Scorsese, nothing could have prepared me for the joyride that is The Wolf of Wall Street. Played charismatically and ferociously by Leonardo DiCaprio, film gives us a look into Wall Street that we all suspected to be true during our economic downfall six/seven years ago, but couldn’t be sure about until this film. Yes, while I’m sure the film does take artistic license into Jordan Belfort’s life, it’s still nonetheless intriguing and entertaining. It’s like watching a spectacular train wreck with all the debauchery and criminality going on–I couldn’t look away yet I was enthralled and entertained by the disaster of it all.

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2. Captain Phillips

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“I’m the captain now.” With those words Barkhad Abdi’s haunting portrayal as the Somali pirate Muse sets up much of the tension in Captain Phillips that doesn’t let up until the climatic rescue at the end of the film. While Gravity was a roller coaster of a ride itself, I think Captain Phillips ups the degree of difficulty (and suspense) since we know what the outcome of the film is before we see it. Paul Greengrass puts together a taut film that places you in the same claustrophobic and nerve-racking confines that Captain Phillips and his crew are in and doesn’t let you go.

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1. Short Term 12

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What can I say other than that I was utterly enchanted with Short Term 12. The film felt so authentically real and personal that I just couldn’t help falling for it. Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. are just superb as two counselors at a halfway house who day in and day out are trying to all they can to make sure the kids they look over get a second chance. Broken themselves and coming from the same world of which they also work in, Short Term 12’s sublimeness comes from the relationship between the two leads, and the heartfelt emotion they get from working at Short Term 12. No other film touched me more last year than this one did.

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So that’ll about do it for 2013. Here’s to hoping we get as many good films in 2014 that we got in 2013.

Did you enjoy any of these films from 2013? Let us know or tell us what your favorite films of 2013 were in the comments.

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16
Apr
13

CinemaCon 2013: WB Presentation Underwhelms as Man of Steel Shines

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Everyone crowded into the Colosseum to get into the Warner Bros presentation today at CinemaCon.

Fresh off the Warner Bros 2013 presentation at CinemaCon we have a few thoughts on their upcoming slate for the rest of the year and their presentation as a whole. They went through their films as they will be released this year, we’ll do the same . . .

The Great Gatsby

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After Man of Steel, the footage shown of Gatsby was probably what had me invested the most in any of the films shown in Warner’s presentation. Essentially it was a five to six minute long trailer with a lot of footage that we haven’t seen in other trailers. The footage shown and the way the trailer/preview was cut together gave a rough outline of the story of the film. Every single second of footage was gorgeous to look at and the 3D was pretty good. On the whole we don’t really get anything new in terms of character or tone from for the film . . . all that you can get from previous trailers. However, the cinematography, effects, and scope that the footage showed was impressive to say the least. I wasn’t all that excited for The Great Gatsby this summer, but after today’s presentation, I am now.

The Hangover Part III

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The highlight of this presentation had to have been director Todd Phillips speaking to the crowd of movie exhibitors before showing the latest trailer to the film. He joked about opening against Fast & Furious 6 and how his mom doesn’t like movies. Aside from that we didn’t really get anything all that new. As mentioned they just played the latest trailer from the film which is a variation of the one they already had before. Was hoping for some selected clips but it was not to be. Oh well, the film does come out in five weeks.

Man of Steel

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Of course everyone was pumped to see the latest footage from the new Superman film but with director Zack Snyder intro-ing the trailer . . . he sort of put me to sleep rather than pump me up for what we were about to see. However, the awesomeness of Superman and seeing more of the story and how Superman uses his powers was definitely jaw dropping and sight to behold.

While we get to see origin story setup stuff in the first two minutes of the three minute trailer, its that final minute where we get to see just what this new Superman can do. From Supes flying around and throwing things to Zod yelling “I WILL FIND HIM” the trailer excited nearly the entire crowd in the auditorium. Is it June yet?

Pacific Rim

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Guillermo del Toro came out on stage to introduce the footage to Pacific Rim and whereas Zack Snyder kind of put a damper on things, del Toro talked about his love of monsters and giants robots and how working on his film has been a joy since he has gotten to see those two things everyday for the past couple of years. His sincere happiness talking about his film was a welcome introduction to the robot-on-monster carnage that we ended up seeing. While essentially what was shown was a long trailer (the one shown at WonderCon from what we’ve heard) we definitely get more of the setup of the story on how humans are fighting monsters with huge robots. The new nugget of story is that apparently the human race’s plan to use robots against the monsters was working, but something has recently happened and the monsters seem to be gaining the upper hand. I was really excited to see more of the robots fighting in the scenes that they showed; especially the one towards the end where the robot bashes in the head of one of the monsters and then while it looks like the monster might be done in, he shakes it off and roars. Definitely excited to see this film.

300: Rise of an Empire

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Things started to get a little more interesting as we got into Warner’s post summer slate as we got to see never before seen footage from films coming out in August and beyond; the first of which being the sequel/prequel to 300. While director Noam Murro said there was some unfinished effects work in the clips we were about to see, I really didn’t notice anything that was still in production.

Basically we were shown a rough cut of a trailer for the film. The look and feel of 300 is still there, but it looks like this time the scope and world building take on a much larger canvas. You have warships battling at sea and a hordes of fighters battling it out. Probably the thing that intrigued me most was Eva Green’s character. Looks like she’s serving Xerxes and going to be the bad guy in it. Overall I wasn’t blown away by anything. Looked like an extension of 300 and I really couldn’t get a good feel for the story from the footage they showed. We’ll have to reserve judgement till it comes out in early August.

Gravity

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The last piece of footage I’m going to dedicate a section to was for Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. High anticipated due to the director’s previous work (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mamá También) as well as its two high profile stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the film was on everyone’s Oscar watch list last year as most figured it had all the trappings of Oscar-bait written all over it. After getting pushed to 2013 anticipation grew still. With only the log line of ‘two astronauts being stranded in space’ to go on, many wondered how a two hour film with just Clooney and Bullock drifting around would work. Sadly this question was not answered after seeing today’s footage.

Today at CinemaCon we got our first look at Cuarón’s Gravity and what I image to be the first portion of the film. In the footage that we screened today we saw the devastation of the station that Clooney and Bullock’s characters work on and the beginning of them getting stranded. Hardly any dialogue was given save for the errant radio communication between astronauts. A lot of visual effects work was on display in the destruction and there wasn’t any hint of the vastness of space that everyone is expecting. Though great to get a first look, I feel like we still didn’t see enough to give us a good idea of what to expect from this film.

Everything Else

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While Warner Bros did show footage from every other film that they have coming out this year, everything else on their slate was still in production and not a lot was shown OR were titles that they don’t feel too confident in enough to show the crowd hardly any footage at all. The best of the rest included a good long trailer for ‘We’re the Millers’ a comedy starring Jason Sudeikius and Jennifer Aniston who put together a fake family to transport weed across the Mexican border. The footage for The Conjuring actually gave us a lot of setup and backstory–footage and storyline that aren’t in the current trailer. A few scenes were put together to give the audience a rough idea for what the plot of Prisoners will be; a drama starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal where Jackman’s daughter is kidnapped and Gyllenhaal’s character sets out to find her. After that teaser ‘sizzle reels’ were shown for Getaway and Seventh Son; nothing to spectacular there.

Probably the biggest omission on from the backend of Warner’s slate was any new footage from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Granted the first installment of The Hobbit came out just five months ago and Peter Jackson did pre-record a message saying they were still in production on the second and third parts . . . but still, I found it hard to believe that they did not have ANY footage to show. Other movie bloggers speculated that after the negative reception CinemaCon goers had to 48fps last year that Warner’s scrapped any footage this year. Based on what I heard about last year and the lukewarm numbers that 48fps brought in this year, this isn’t hard to believe.

Final Thoughts . . .

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To say that Warner Bros presentation was disappointing would be an understatement. From what I heard about the Paramount’s presentation Monday evening and Universal’s presentation earlier this morning Warner’s seemed in position to outdo both of them with the slate that they have coming up and they totally fumbled it. What it really comes down to is that while we did see some new footage for a lot of the summer films and films from later in the year; there simply wasn’t enough of it.

Most of what Warner’s showed had previously been released, either in trailers or clips posted online. Seeing all of this again didn’t really do anything to get me excited. Sure the crowded laughed and cheered when they were supposed to–a good movie will always make their audience do that. What we got was recycling of footage that most of us movie geeks have seen before and it played like watching reruns of Saved by the Bell . . . still fun to watch, but nothing really new or exciting.

Hell, even the exclusiveness of the Man of Steel trailer wore off pretty quick as it was posted online only a few minutes after it was screened in the Colosseum. What’s the point of hyping up this stuff to the people that show it off in theaters if you’re just going to release it to the public right after? There’s no need to fly to Vegas if that’s the case.

Also, Warner’s didn’t have any star power to backup any of their films. Oh sure they had Zack Snyder, Guillermo del Toro, and Todd Phillips to introduce their respective films, but none of the stars from the movies showed themselves. Granted having a star on hand to sing praises about their film won’t do all that much in the grand scheme of things. But when everyone else is doing it and you don’t; people notice that. Warner Bros made it a point to say that they’re the only studio to have twelve consecutive years of multibillion dollar box office grosses for their films . . . lets hope that their slate can sell itself because they sure didn’t at CinemaCon this year.




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