Based on a series of graphic novels by Mark Miller, WANTED is a fast moving hard R thrill ride that has a few significant bumps along the way although it certainly has a foundation of some solid entertainment value. The film’s first forty minutes are a text book example of setting up a main character that the audience can connect to. That character is Wesley Gibson ( James McAvoy), an everyday office dewb who’s bored with his job, hates his boss and does nothing about the girlfriend who cheats on him. These early scenes are very well established as McAvoy gives the character a real likeability. The tone at this point is both entertaining and funny.
Things take a turn in Wesley’s life when, out of nowhere, a mysterious woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie) enters his life. She’s part of a centuries old group of blood thirsty assassins that recruit him into their highly secretive organization for a reason he could never have suspected. Once involved in the fraternity, things start to meander a bit as Wesley’s training sequences are stretched a little thin, and things become pretty bloody. It’s here that the Walter Mitty feel of the film’s first forty minutes starts to change and its tone becomes something much more aggressive and nasty, a direction the movie maintains throughout the rest of its running time.
Russian Director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) stages some exciting, over the top, MATRIX action sequences that aren’t believable in the context of reality but are wildly entertaining regardless. Morgan Freeman is also on hand as the head of the Fraternity, and he’s a welcome addition, as always. WANTED is a film that badly needed a script rewrite or two to tighten things up and the last two-thirds are never as good as its first act, simply because of the dramatic change in tone. Still, it has enough good stuff to recommend if you like your action movies mindless and violent. Overall WANTED is not as good as it could have been, but it’s still worth a look. Universal is reportedly looking to turn WANTED into a franchise property and there have been reports they are already developing a sequel.
Here’s a look at the trailer to DEATH RACE, a remake of the 1975 cult B movie DEATH RACE 2000 which starred David Carradine and a Pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone. This version stars Jason Statham of TRANSPORTER fame. The last good B movie to hit theaters was DOOMSDAY. This looks like good fun. Take a look!
One of the summer seasons most highly anticipated movies is here and it’s WALL-E, a very ambitious undertaking by the king of animation, Pixar studios ( Finding Nemo, The Incredibles ). Part love story, part eco-cautionary tale, Wall-E mixes the feel of I am Legend and 2001 A Space Odyssey with the poetry of a Charlie Chaplin film sprinkled in. The beautifully designed visual marvel has already gathered immense praise from critics (97% positive reaction from Rottentomatoes.com) but I think Wall-E might perplex many in the general audience looking for a simpler, more straightforward, narrative as this is extremely sophisticated and almost too smart for its own good.
The title character. Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class), is a charmer. A cute little robot with sad binocular eyes who has been left on earth to remove the garbage left behind in the now barren wasteland of the 29th century as pollution has driven away what’s left of humanity into outer space. Alongside his only companion, a cockroach, Wall-E goes about his business until he meets and falls for Eve, a sleek bullet shaped Robot sent to earth on a mission to find some form of life. It’s here in the film’s first 40 minutes that Wall-E takes on a poetic artistry. After some captivating scenes of the two bots bonding, Wall-E follows Eve into outer space. That’s where director Andrew Stanton takes the opportunity to make some interesting and funny commentary about the future of the human condition, and it’s not pretty. It’s also at this point in the story where things start to unwind a bit for me. The whole movie starts to drag on and become less interesting until it wraps itself up with a nice heartfelt conclusion.
There’s no doubt Wall-E is an ambitious undertaking and I recommend seeing it on the big screen for the many visual pleasures and insightful observations. I just wish it was a little more involving in its overall story as I was never totally sucked into the Wall-E universe during the film’s second half. Its strength, which is its silent beauty, is also its weakness. The longer it goes on (especially when more characters are introduced) the more its appeal starts to wear thin. Still, it has a great main character in Wall-E. It’s visually stunning and has more than a few big ideas. Plus, the look on my two and a half year old daughter’s face (her mouth was wide open for at least two minutes) when Wall-E first comes on screen is something I’ll always remember.
According to Fandango.com there have already been a high number of advanced sellouts for midnight showings of THE DARK KNIGHT when it opens July 18th. Even with great early advance reviews hitting the net it’s really hard to predict how huge this film might be. While BATMAN BEGINS was great, it only grossed a solid, if not spectacular, 200 Mill domestically. Those certainly aren’t bad numbers, but it isn’t the 400 Mil of a SPIDER MAN outing. That’s mostly because the Batman character has a darker appeal and some parents keep there younger kids away. My gut feeling tells me THE DARK KNIGHT will have extensive repeat viewing, putting this one way past the 300 million mark here at home. I can’t wait to see it!
Early reviews for the Will Smith vehicle HANCOCK are pretty divided. The film clocks in at a scarce 90 minute running time with end credits. That’s a sign at least to me that there was significant editing. All reports have the movie tracking through the roof with a possible $150 million 6 day opening when it hits theaters on Tuesday. The one thing Will can do is open a movie big!
According to Producer Frank Marshall, a storyline is currently in development for a 4th entry in Universal’s popular JASON BOURNE franchise, once again starring Matt Damon. I’m probably in the minority but I’m not excited. While I liked the first movie in the series, I didn’t like the last two because I couldn’t stand the shaky cam technique of director, Paul Greengrass, and the hollowness of their story telling. Those films just didn’t work for me.
Interesting TV news of interest: Actor JEFF GOLDBLUM will join the cast of USA networks, LAW & ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT, playing a detective [really…] on the show which is now in its 8th season. He will share the star spotlight with actor, Vincent D’Onofrio, throughout the 16 episode season. Goldblum will replace Sex And The City star Chris Noth who has been handpicked by Renee Zellweger to star in her upcoming movie, My One And Only. GOLDBLUM gained fame for his quirky acting style in popular films like Independence Day. Jurassic Park and The Lost World. He gave the performance of his career in director David Cronenberg’s THE FLY – one of the 80’s very best, and totally creepy, films.
According to screenwriter Mike White, a completed script is now in place for a follow up the terrific 2003 comedy SCHOOL OF ROCK. That film, a pitch perfect vehicle for the zany talent of Jack Black did a solid 131 mil in business worldwide. To me, SCHOOL OF ROCK is to Jack Black what BACK TO SCHOOL was to Rodney Dangerfield and what ANIMAL HOUSE was to John Belushi. For my money it’s a classic! It will be good to have Dewey Finn back.
Even though the film hasn’t gone into production yet, Sony Pictures has set a June 25, 2010, release date for THE GREEN HORNET. Now, in case you haven’t heard, the film will star Seth Rogan of Knocked Up fame (Rogan also wrote the screenplay). Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Will Seth do 1000 pushups before filming and get a cooler haircut? Or will this be more of a comedy than a straight superhero film.
Expect reaction to start popping up on the net for THE DARK KNIGHT by this weekend. WB will be screening the film for exhibitors and press over the next few days. Advance buzz is terrific. Here’s the first review the studio has allowed to be posted. It’s by ROLLING STONES Peter Travers. READ REVIEW
Director Ridley Scott is getting ready to unleash another variation of the ROBIN HOOD tale with a big screen treatment called NOTTINGHAM. Russell Crowe is already attached to the project (he will play the sheriff of Nottingham). There’s been much speculation and rumor as which actor will put on the tights and bow and arrow of Robin Hood with names like Christian Bale and Jake Gyllenhaal floating around. It’s been 17 years since the last Robin Hood film when Kevin Costner played the part in the flawed but highly entertaining PRINCE OF THIEVES.
It appears that Sony is looking at a summer 2011 release for its next entry in their wildly popular SPIDERMAN franchise. With this much of a time gap I think there’s a solid chance Tobey McGuire will be back, along with director Sam Raimi. For the record, I love the SPIDERMAN films – even the 3rd. I know there’s been a backlash against part three for a few different reasons, including the fact that it contained too many characters, but I still found it highly entertaining and better than most of the comic book films that have been produced in recent years.
All reports say that public awareness and want to see factors are very high for Will Smith’s new film, HANCOCK; a darker spin on the superhero genre which hit’s theaters July 2nd. Personally, I wish the studio would have gone with the movie’s original title which was TONIGHT HE COMES, as it just seems a better anticipation builder than HANCOCK. Many have said that Smith might be Hollywood’s last real box-office superstar who can make any film he’s attached to a success. I would certainly agree.
Sony pictures has reserved May 2009 as a release date for its DAVINCI CODE prequel, ANGELS AND DEMONS. Tom Hanks will once again star under the direction of Ron Howard.
Rogue pictures is reportedly talking about a sequel to its hit horror film, THE STRANGERS. The movie, starring Liv Tyler, has scored a very solid 50 mill in box-office receipts. That’s pound for pound as good as any movie released this year, particularly since its budget was just 9 mill. I like THE STRANGERS to a point but some scenes just went on way too long. Plus, it has one of the bleakest endings you can imagine, although many horror purists probably like that.
Universal just released its coming attraction trailer to THE MUMMY 3. While I’m not a huge fan of this franchise, it does look pretty exciting. WATCH THE TRAILER
Here is a look at the 6th and newest TV spot for Warner Bros. DARK KNIGHT. It’s short but way COOL!
WATCH THE VIDEO
After knowing about this project since last year and now, after seeing its trailer, there’s no doubt the BILL MAHER documentary, RELIGULOUS, will be a much talked about subject on most of the cable and radio talk shows in the coming months as it approaches its Oct 3rd release.
The documentary is directed by Larry Charles (Borat) and it follows Maher as he spans the world interviewing people about GOD and RELIGION. If you’re a fan of Maher’s (and I am) it’s no secret that the guy has been one of the most outspoken media people in terms of religion, and certainly NOT on the pro side of it. With, more than ever, religion so ingrained in our politics, I have no doubt this project will hit a nerve on both sides of the fence. Maher knows that this is an undertaking that will lead to heated debate with many in the evangelical community and likely result in their calling for a boycott of his popular HBO show. I could be wrong about that but I don’t think so.
Like the guy or not, the one thing Bill has are Balls ! He knows he’s touching the THIRD RAIL of celebrity here, but he’s passionate about what he has to say. I say more power to him. I have posted the trailer below so let me know what you think! WATCH THE TRAILER
Please Note: You need to be logged in to make a Comment [click "no comments" at the bottom of this post to access the sign in screen] or Email: Chuck at EntertainmentTodayandBeyond.com