Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Top 5 Man-Crushes

"Man Crush: When a guy loves another guy dearly, but not queerly."

Every guy has them. I don't care how manly you think you are, there are either actors or characters they've portrayed who you've fallen head over heels a completely hetero way. Dudes who are just too cool. You want to be their friend onscreen or offscreen or both. There are a ton of actors I like and preformances I've been impressed by, but these are the guys I wish I were elite enough to hang out with.

#5.) Kurt Russell

Where We First Met: Stargate

The Moment I Realized It Was True Love: As R.J. MacReady in John Carpenter's The Thing, Kurt devises a plan to test which of his fellow residents of an Antarctic research outpost are infected by alien DNA by placing a piece of heated copper wire into a sample of blood from each man. With his friends and co-workers tied to a couch, R.J. announces that as an act of good faith he will test his own blood first. Having heated the copper wire, and with the frightened, judging eyes of the other men glued firmly to him, R.J. hesitantly and worriedly pauses for a split second before testing his own fate.

Fondest Memories: John Carpenter's The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China, Death Proof, Breakdown

#4.) Shia Labeouf

Where We First Met: The Battle of Shaker Heights

The Moment I Realized It Was True Love: As Kale Brecht in Disturbia, Shia becomes jealous when Ashley, the girl he's got a major crush on, holds a loud party next door which he can't attend because he's under house arrest a few mere feet away. Kale tries to ignore the music and laughter from next door but eventually cracks under the pressure and peeks outside to see other guys obviously hitting on Ashley. Making a fool of himself by playing obnoxiously loud romantic music to drown out the noise of the party, Kale is confronted by an annoyed Ashley before giving an incredibly cheesy monologue about how he's been watching her through his windows since she moved in, which ranges from creepy to romantic, after which the music (Don't Make Me Wait by This World Fair) swells and the two characters finally kiss.

Fondest Memories: Disturbia, Eagle Eye, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints

#3.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Where We First Met: 3rd Rock From The Sun

The Moment I Realized It Was True Love: As Brendan Frye in Brick, a crime noir about high school students, Joseph is trying to solve the mystery behind the recent murder of his ex-girlfriend whom he still very much loves. After sticking his nose a few places where it didn't belong, Brendan is confronted outside of his school by an adversary much larger than him. Choosing flight over fight, Brendan manages to get a brief lead on his attacker before rounding a corner, dropping to the floor, and removing his shoes so that his assailant won't hear him coming. Immediately he is back on his feet and rushing back toward the corner he'd just turned before using expert timing to slide out from behind said corner and trip his pursuer, who, for reasons you'll have to see the movie for yourself to discover, surely ends up wishing that he hadn't picked this particular fight.

Fondest Memories: Brick, The Lookout

#2.) Clint Eastwood

Where We First Met: In The Line Of Fire

The Moment I Realized It Was True Love: As the man with no name in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Clint and a sometimes lovable, sometimes despicable outlaw named Tuco (who refers to him as Blondie) have somehow survived numerous run-ins with gunslingers, a full-on Civil War battle, and each other long enough to reach a cemetery where $200,000 worth of gold is rumored to be buried. With the only thing left for the men to do to claim the riches for their own being the act of digging up a specific grave, Blondie tosses Tuco a shovel. After Tuco asks why Blondie doesn't have a shovel of his own, he replies "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig." Pause for dramatic effect... "You dig."

Fondest Memories: A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry, Gran Torino

#1.) Jackie Chan

Where We First Met: Rumble In The Bronx

The Moment I Realized It Was True Love: As Kevin (aka Jackie) Chan in Police Story, Jackie has pursued a powerful drug lord named Chu Tao, who has a grudge against him, to a shopping mall. After having a lengthy knock-down, drag-out fight with several worthy opponents up and down escalators, through store displays, and amongst a veritable sea of broken glass, Jackie is tired and weakened by his injuries. Just when things seem as though they couldn't get any worse, he looks down from a fourth story balcony to see that on the ground level below him, Chu Tao has taken Jackie's girlfriend May hostage. Enraged beyond caring for his own personal well-being, Jackie leaps off of the balcony, sliding down a four story metal pole covered with decorative lights which shatter one after another as he rapidly approaches the floor below. At the bottom, Jackie quickly chases down Chu Tao, who lets May go out of fear. Despite the pleas of Chu Tao's lawyer and his own police chief, Jackie cannot restrain himself any longer and, in one of the most visceral scenes I've ever seen in a movie, gives Chu Tao the truly epic beating that he deserves.

Fondest Memories: Police Story, Police Story 2, Supercop, Rumble In The Bronx, Drunken Master, Legend of Drunken Master, Dragon Lord, The Young Master, Project A, Project A2, Armour of God (aka Operation Condor 2), Armour of God II (aka Operation Condor), Jackie Chan's First Strike

Honorable Mention: James Van Der Beek
as Sean Bateman in The Rules Of Attraction

"Rock and roll..."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What I'm Looking Forward To Watching In 2009

Release Date: (9/9/09)
The Facts: A post-apocalyptic CG cyber-punk movie about little puppets who fight cat-like robots. Produced by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Nightwatch, Daywatch) and Tim Burton, and starring the voice talents of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, and Crispin Glover.
Why I Wanna See It: It's a hard premise to make look good on paper, but the trailer looks amazing and the short film it's based upon was entertaining.

12 Rounds
Release Date: (3/27/09)
The Facts: A cat and mouse game in the vein of Die Hard With A Vengeance between a cop who's trying to save his wife and a recently released criminal he helped put away. Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Cliffhanger) and starring the WWE's John Cena.
Why I Wanna See It: Cena sucked in The Marine, but the trailer for this movie makes it look like a mindless 80's/early 90's explosion-fest, which was enough to catch my eye.

Release Date: (11/13/09)
The Facts: A disaster film about the end of the world (presumably as predicted by the Mayan calendar based on the title) directed by Roland Emmerich (Stargate, Independence Day).
Why I Wanna See It: What can I say? I still enjoy some of Emmerich's older films and I had a good time watching 10,000 BC.

Astro Boy
Release Date: (10/23/09)
The Facts: Based on Osamu Tezuka's classic manga series about a super-powered robot designed to look like a young boy. Featuring the voice talent of Nicholas Cage, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, and Bill Nighy.
Why I Wanna See It: I've never read any Astro Boy comics, but I like comic books, CG movies, and superheroes, so why not?

Release Date: (12/18/09)
The Facts: Director James Cameron's (Aliens, The Terminator, T2, The Abyss, True Lies, Titanic) return to non-documentary filmmaking after a 12 year hiatus, to the action genre after a 15 year hiatus, and to the science fiction genre after an 18 year hiatus. The story involves a group of humans (including Sam Worthington, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, and Sigourney Weaver) who are forced to do battle with an alien species on a distant planet far in the future.
Why I Wanna See It: Considering that Aliens is my favorite film of all time and Avatar is not only James Cameron's return to the genre which he just about single-handedly invented, but also his reunion with Sigourney Weaver, this is easily my most anticipated movie of the year (if not the past decade).

Big Fan
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: A huge New York Giants fan (Patton Oswalt) is beaten up by his favorite player. Written and directed by the writer of The Wrestler: Robert D. Siegel.
Why I Wanna See It: I don't even know what genre this film is, but that basic premise sounds like a good springboard for a funny movie and I like Patton Oswalt.

Black Dynamite
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: A modern blaxploitation film starring Michael Jai White (Spawn) as the title character.
Why I Wanna See It: The trailer made this movie look hilarious and I like the fact that this film isn't only a parody of blaxploitation films, but also seems as though it's trying to literally be one of them.

The Box
Release Date: (11/6/09)
The Facts: A couple (James Marsden and Cameron Diaz) come into possession of a box which has the ability to grant them one million dollars. The catch is that if they choose to take the money it will cause someone they don't know to die. Directed by Richard Kelly.
Why I Wanna See It: I like Donnie Darko enough to forgive Richard Kelly for Southland Tales, and this premise sounds more along the lines of the former than the latter anyway.

The Brothers Bloom
Release Date: (5/29/09)
The Facts: Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody play con-men doing what they do best to a wealthy heiress played by Rachel Weisz. Directed by Rian Johnson.
Why I Wanna See It: I don't just want to see this movie because the director's name is spelled the same way as mine. I do want to see it because of the director, though. Rian Johnson's debut film Brick not only made me an immediate fan of his work, but also of it's star Joseph Gordon Levitt. I know next to nothing about The Brothers Bloom, but since Johnson wrote and directed it, my admission is essentially already bought and paid for.

Release Date: (7/10/09)
The Facts: Sacha Baron Cohen is now hoping to do for Bruno (another of his characters from Da Ali G Show) what he did a for Borat a few years ago. Same premise, different main character.
Why I Wanna See It: I loved Da Ali G Show and really enjoyed Borat although with each viewing it seems to deliver diminishing returns. I'm just hoping that Bruno is even half as funny the first time I watch it as Borat was.

The Clone Returns Home
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: All I know about this movie is that it's Japanese and it must somehow involve cloning.
Why I Wanna See It: I heard the title and immediately became interested, but the plot summary on IMDb gives absolutely nothing away concerning the plot. I'll probably have to catch this on DVD late this year or early next year like I did with CJ7 or Chocolate.

Release Date: (2/6/09)
The Facts: Based on a young adult book by novelist and on again/off again comic book writer Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a stop motion animated film from Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) about a young girl who discovers another dimension in her new home which is accessible through a small door hidden behind the wallpaper. At first it seems like a fun place to visit, but she soon learns that it isn't a place she'd like to stay.
Why I Wanna See It: I absolutely love The Nightmare Before Christmas, so I was interested in this movie from the start because it's from the same director. The fact that it's written by Neil Gaiman doesn't hurt either, considering that Sandman is among his comic book writing credits. And if those two factors weren't enough, the movie is also being shown in 3D, which I've yet to experience in a feature film.

Dead Snow
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: Some skiers are attacked by Nazi zombies.
Why I Wanna See It: Nazi zombies! 'Nuff said.

Drag Me To Hell
Release Date: (5/29/09)
The Facts: A girl is cursed by an old woman and haunted by all manner of ghosts, demons, and other ghoulies in Sam Raimi's (Evil Dead, Spiderman) long-awaited return to the horror genre.
Why I Wanna See It: I love all three Spiderman films and am excited to see Raimi return to the director's chair for the rumored fourth and fifth installments of the series, but I think that anyone who is truly a fan of his movies has been dying to see him make a new horror film since he wrapped up the Evil Dead franchise with Army of Darkness back in 1992.

Dragonball: Evolution
Release Date: (10/9/09)
The Facts: Based on Akira Toriyama's megahit manga/anime franchise Dragonball Z, this film will follow Goku (Justin Chatwin) as he trains to be a great fighter and attempts to collect and protect all seven of the fabled, all-powerful Dragonballs before his enemies (namely Piccolo) can get their hands on them.
Why I Wanna See It: Everyone is shitting all over this movie already because it doesn't look a thing like the Dragonball manga or anime, but I'm still willing to give it a chance. I used to casually watch the show, so I'm interested to see what they do with it in a live-action setting.

The Expendables
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: Sylvester Stallone's action-packed directorial follow-up to last year's Rambo will star Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Sandra Bullock, Mickey Rourke, Ben Kingsley, Forest Whitaker, Steve Austin, and Stallone himself. Does the plot really matter?
Why I Wanna See It: Rambo was a badass movie and there's just no way I could pass up a film with a cast like the one The Expendables has managed to amass.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Release Date: (11/6/09)
The Facts: A town takes action against a fox who has been preying upon their chickens in this film based upon a book by Roald Dahl. Directed by Wes Anderson and featuring the voice talent of Bill Murray and George Clooney, I've heard that this film will be animated with stop-motion.
Why I Wanna See It: I've been interested in this film since I first heard about it because Wes Anderson's films may not always be my favorites, but tend to be interesting nonetheless. If the rumors that it will be stop-motion are true, my interest will be immediately doubled.

Fast & Furious
Release Date: (4/3/09)
The Facts: The original The Fast & The Furious cast of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez re-unite for more mindless action, sweaty midriffs, and wacky car races.
Why I Wanna See It: Back when The Fast & The Furious came out I was talked into seeing the movie because someone else bought my ticket, and I guess my low expectations combined with Jordana Brewster's hotness allowed me to really have a good time watching it. The last two sequels haven't interested me at all, but the return of the original cast and the crazy, balls-out trailer for this confusingly-named film have grabbed my attention.

G.I.Joe: Rise of the Cobra
Release Date: (8/7/09)
The Facts: Based on the 80's cartoon and 3 & 3/4" toy line, G.I.Joe will presumably update the terrorist fighting U.S. military task force for the new millennium, though all the usual suspects will be present including Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Cobra Commander (Joseph Gordon Levitt).
Why I Wanna See It: When I was a kid G.I.Joe was my favorite TV show aside from Ghostbusters, but even if that wasn't enough to make me want to see this movie, all I needed to hear was "Joseph Gordon Levitt as Cobra Commander".

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Release Date: (9/25/08)
The Facts: Director Terry Gilliam brings us a story about a traveling theater group which will most likely be as visually incredible as some of his previous works. Starring Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and the final performance of Heath Ledger.
Why I Wanna See It: I've enjoyed enough Terry Gilliam films that he'll always be on my radar. Also, the cast is pretty impressive.

Inglorious Bastards
Release Date: (8/21/09)
The Facts: Quentin Tarantino's new World War II period film features Brad Pitt as the leader of a small group of Allied soldiers saddled with the task of making their way through Nazi-occupied territory brutally murdering every Nazi in their path.
Why I Wanna See It: I shall forever be compelled to watch every single movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. I like Brad Pitt, too.

Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: A high school kid decides to become the world's first real superhero by donning a garish costume and picking fights with some people that he probably shouldn't. Matthew Vaughn directs based on a comic book by Mark Millar (Wanted) and John Romita Jr. (Spiderman, Daredevil, etc.).
Why I Wanna See It: Y'know, I don't really care for this comic all that much, but it is an interesting premise. I guess that I'm hoping some things are changed for the better the in film adaptation so that I may end up liking it despite Nicolas Cage's involvement.

Release Date: (1/23/09)
The Facts: Having been completed in 2006, this film based on an Elmore Leonard novel about a couple (Diane Lane & Thomas Jane) in witness protection being pursued by two hitmen (Mickey Rourke & Joseph Gordon Levitt) is finally getting a release (albeit a limited one).
Why I Wanna See It: Outside of 2007's 3:10 To Yuma, I've yet to truly enjoy a film based on the works of Elmore Leonard, but this plot sounds right up my alley. Also, as with G.I.Joe: Rise of the Cobra, Joseph Gordon Levitt's involvement is reason enough for me to be interested.

Release Date: (3/20/09)
The Facts: A man (Nicolas Cage) begins to think that he can predict horrible catastrophes after his son brings home a piece of paper filled with code which he finds in a time capsule at school. From there the plot seems to delve further into science fiction, with perhaps even an apocalyptic outcome. Alex Proyas (Dark City) directs.
Why I Wanna See It: At first I thought this movie looked horrible. However, after seeing a new trailer which lets the audience in on a bit more of the story, I must say that I'm intrigued. Nic Cage's involvement doesn't do a whole lot for my expectations, but Alex Proyas' gives me a glimmer of hope.

Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: Something goes very wrong on the moon base inhabited by a lone employee (Sam Rockwell) of a mining company who is scheduled to return to Earth from his solitary shift on the lunar surface.
Why I Wanna See It: I like science fiction and I like Sam Rockwell. There's not much more to it than that.

Mystery Team
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: A group of former child detectives attempts to solve a decidedly adult crime.
Why I Wanna See It: Sounds like a dark comedy take on Scooby Doo, which is intriguing.

Next Day Air
Release Date: (5/8/09)
The Facts: A delivery man unwittingly leaves a package containing a large amount of cocaine on the wrong doorstep and a battle of wits ensues between all parties involved to right the situation. Donald Faison, Mos Def, and Mike Epps star.
Why I Wanna See It: I saw the trailer for this film and immediately felt a resemblance to the Guy Ritchie style of comedies of errors. Also, ever since 16 Blocks and Be Kind Rewind I've been a fan of Mos Def.

Release Date: (1/23/09)
The Facts: A futuristic spaceship carrying a lone astronaut (James Caviezel) crash lands on Earth circa medieval times in pursuit of a bloodthirsty dragon-like alien creature. The spaceman must convince the locals (Ron Perlman and John Hurt included) that the creature is indeed a dragon so that they will aid him in tracking down and killing it before it can do any further damage.
Why I Wanna See It: No one else who I tell the premise of this movie to seems to find it all that interesting, but I think it sounds badass. Space dragon? Hell yes!

Release Date: (2/6/09)
The Facts: A rag-tag group of super-powered individuals must work together to save one their own and escape the clutches of a government organization which aims to use them as weapons.
Why I Wanna See It: This premise is nothing new, but the fact that it's an original story about people with inhuman abilities which isn't associated with a pre-existing comic book interests me in the same way that Jumper did last year.

The Road
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: A man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son attempt to survive as they trek across the charred wasteland of a post-apocalyptic world. Based on a book by Cormac McCarthy.
Why I Wanna See It: I've never read any of Cormac McCarthy's books, but if one could inspire a film as amazing as No Country For Old Men, you'd better believe that I'll be checking out the next film based on one of his works.

A Serious Man
Release Date: (10/2/09)
The Facts: The synopsis' I've read for this film don't make a whole lot of sense, so I'll just say that it's directed by the Coen brothers.
Why I Wanna See It: I don't love all of their movies, but the Coen brothers have made enough masterpieces that I'll shell out the admission price for any film they make.

Sherlock Holmes
Release Date: (11/13/09)
The Facts:The classic literary figure as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. under the direction of Guy Ritchie.
Why I Wanna See It: Guy Ritchie is easily one of my favorite directors, so why shouldn't I be excited to see him working with Robert Downey Jr.?

Shutter Island
Release Date: (10/2/09)
The Facts: A U.S. Marshal played by Leonardo DiCaprio is in pursuit of a maniacal female killer who has escaped from a mental institution. Martin Scorcese directs and Max Von Sydow, Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo co-star.
Why I Wanna See It: Martin Scorcese plus Leonardo DiCaprio equals me being very excited. But then again, who doesn't that equation work for?

Star Trek
Release Date: (5/8/00)
The Facts: The classic science fiction franchise is re-imagined by one of the masterminds behind LOST and Cloverfield: J.J. Abrams.
Why I Wanna See It: I've never much cared for Star Trek, but based on the trailers, J.J. Abrams' version looks like something that I might actually enjoy. Also, I can't wait to see Simon Pegg as Scotty.

Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: Literally all I know about this film is that the Coen brothers are behind it.
Why I Wanna See It: As I mentioned in reference to A Serious Man, the brothers Coen are enough incentive for me to drop 10 bucks at the theater regardless of the subject matter of their movies.

The Surrogates
Release Date: (9/25/09)
The Facts: In a futuristic society where robots called Surrogates act as the sole form of law enforcement, a human police officer must come out of retirement to solve a series of crimes being committed by the synthetic cops.
Why I Wanna See It: Whether I was consciously aware of it or not, I think I've always wanted to see Bruce Willis in a comic book movie. Unbreakable was up that alley, but until Erik Larsen gets his wish and Willis dons the green fin in a Savage Dragon film, I guess this will have to do.

The Taking of Pelham 123
Release Date: (6/12/09)
The Facts: A New York Subway dispatcher (Denzel Washington) becomes a makeshift hostage negotiator when one of his trains is hijacked by a small group of criminals (led by John Travolta). Tony Scott directs this remake of a 1974 film starring Walter Matthau.
Why I Wanna See It: I recently saw the original version of The Taking of Pelham 123 and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm not particularly crazy about Scott, Travolta, or Washington, but I am interested in seeing how this film stacks up to the original.

Terminator: Salvation
Release Date: (5/22/09)
The Facts: Now that the machines have taken over, the true conflict begins between John Conner (Christian Bale) and the deadly robots which have plagued his existence since before he existed. McG directs and Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Roland Kickinger co-star.
Why I Wanna See It: The first two Terminator films are amazing enough that I'd be hard-pressed not to check out any sequels they may spawn (though I've avoided The Sarah Conner Chronicles like the plague). Not to mention, Christian Bale is one of the best actors working today, and I hold no grudge against McG like most people seem to. I actually like the first Charlie's Angels film (so sue me!).

This Side of the Truth
Release Date: (?/?/??)
The Facts: Co-written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, this film takes place in a world where nobody has ever lied and examines what happens when someone finally does. The cast includes Gervais himself along with Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Patrick Stewart, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Lowe, and Louis C.K.
Why I Wanna See It: Honestly, I just don't see how you can go wrong with a cast that massive and impressive. Gervais alone would have sold me, but I'd say this film has plenty of feet to stand on.

Toy Story in 3D
Release Date: (10/2/09)
The Facts: Pixar's first film gets the 3D treatment in this theatrical re-release leading up to next years debut of the third film in the series.
Why I Wanna See It: I saw Toy Story in the theater when it first came out and I've watched it over and over again on VHS and DVD over the years, but I'll still pay to see it on the big screen again. I love Toy Story and I'm interested to see what the 3D element will bring to the table.

Release Date: (5/29/09)
The Facts: In Pixar's latest CG all-ages film, an elderly man, accompanied by a local boy scout, fulfills his wife's dying wish of traveling to a foreign land by lifting his entire house into the air with a menagerie of balloons.
Why I Wanna See It: While the premise alone doesn't immediately spell "classic" to me, Pixar has earned my trust so many times over that I would pay to see a movie called "Rian Miller Of Union Bridge, Maryland Is An Asshole, And In This Movie He's Brutally And Repeatedly Raped By Rabid Gophers" without a second thought so long as they were producing it.

Release Date: (3/6/09)
The Facts: In an alternate 1985, after one of the Watchmen (a retired group of superheroes) is killed, an unofficial investigation begins by some of his former teammates to find out whodunnit and why. This synopsis only scratches the surface of the story, but that's the base premise. Zak Snyder (300) directs.
Why I Wanna See It: Watchmen isn't my favorite comic, but I recognize it's greatness. I was skeptical about this film from the beginning, but the more I see/hear about it, the more I'm intrigued.

Where The Wild Things Are
Release Date: (10/16/09)
The Facts: Based on a classic children's book, a young boy sent to bed without his dinner creates a fantasy world filled with magnificent creatures.
Why I Wanna See It: More than anything, I'm just curious to see what kind of wacky visuals this movie's going to bring to the screen.

Release Date: (9/11/09)
The Facts: A U.S. Marshal (Kate Beckinsale) tracks a serial killer at a research station in Antarctica.
Why I Wanna See It: I quite liked the comic book that this movie is based upon and I think it will work well as suspense thriller.

The Wolf Man
Release Date: (11/6/09)
The Facts: It's all in the title. Benicio Del Toro stars and Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer) directs.
Why I Wanna See It: I've never been a huge fan of werewolves, but I do enjoy a good update of a classic character or franchise like this every now and then. I'm most interested to see the transformation scenes. They're always fun.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Release Date: (5/1/09)
The Facts: Everyone's favorite character from the X-Men comic book and film franchise gets his own movie. Wolverine's (Hugh Jackman) back story is told leading up to a conflict between he and a group of mutants working for the people who both stole his memory and gave him his adamantium skeleton. Gavin Hood (Rendition) directs and Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan, and Kevin Durand co-star.
Why I Wanna See It: I've always been a fan of Wolverine and the X-Men in general. Add to the equation that Liev Schreiber is playing Sabertooth and I really can't wait to see this film.

The Year One
Release Date: (6/19/09)
The Facts: A pair of primitive men (Jack Black and Michael Cera) are banished from their village and set off on an adventure. Along the way they encounter numerous historic and biblical figures. Co-starring David Cross, Hank Azaria, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, and Vinnie Jones, and directed by Harold (Egon Spengler) Ramis.
Why I Wanna See It: Back when I first heard about this movie I didn't really know anything about it aside from the creative talent involved, and that hasn't changed much over time. I'm just really excited to see what Harold Ramis can do with a cast like the one he's rounded up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What I've Been Watching In 2008: The Year In Review(s)

It's that time of year again when all us bloggers tell everyone what we thought about the last 365 days whether you want to hear about it or not. was that time a little over a month ago anyway, but at long last, here it is: my 2008 end of the year post. Yeah, I know it's early February '09, but that's okay. The lateness of this post just means that I've had a chance to catch up on some of the '08 movies that I hadn't gotten the opportunity to see before the end of the year. I already did a Top 10 Movies of the Year list on The Sidetracked Podcast a few weeks ago, but the one I've compiled here will be a different, updated version of that list since, as I mentioned, I've now seen more movies from 2008 than I had when I formed that incarnation of my Top Ten. So what say we look at some stats and then move onto the lists? I say lists because in addition to my Top 10 and Bottom 10 of the year I've also listed the movies from 2008 that I still need to catch up with as well as a comprehensive catalog of every 2008 release I've seen as of this writing. And away we go.

Total number of movies released in 2008 that I have seen as of the writing of this post: 82

Total number of movies released in 2008 which I saw in the theater: 33

Total number of times I went to the theater between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008: 37

Approximate amount of money I spent at the theater in 2008 (based on a price of $10/ticket): $370.00


10. Rambo
In my opinion, this is the best film in the Rambo/First Blood franchise. This movie knew exactly what it wanted to be and didn't try to hide that fact. It was bloody and violent as hell with plenty of "holy shit" moments, and didn't include a single scene that wasn't necessary to further the plot. It's also short and to the point, which action movies shouldn't (but often seem to) be afraid to be. Stallone proves that he's got what it takes to work behind the camera, and he's still physically and emotionally capable in front of the lens as well. Rambo is an example of clear and concise film making, and although it's very brooding and grotesque, I feel like I could pop it in and watch it anytime because it zips by at 92 minutes and never loses my interest for an instant.

9. Pride & Glory
Based on the trailers, I was expecting this to be the standard Hollywood cop film. Not so. The best word I can think of to describe this movie is "epic". And I don't mean the modern "Epic Fail/Epic Win" internet variety of epic, either. I mean it in the textbook sense: "noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style". Edward Norton is the best he's been since Fight Club, Colin Farrell puts in one of the only truly impressive performances of his career as far as I'm concerned (another being this year's In Bruges), Jon Voight is better than he has been in years, and director Gavin O'Connor has gotten me wondering where he's been all my life. This film is brutally intense with a great mystery and several expertly woven plotlines. I can't wait to see it again, but a week and a half later I'm still reeling from my first viewing.

8. Slumdog Millionaire
I went into this film without a clear idea of what I was going to see, basically just swept up by the positive hype it was getting. The reason for this is likely that while amazing, Slumdog Millionaire's plot is nearly impossible to explain to someone without either ruining the suspense or making absolutely no sense whatsoever. Suffice to say that Danny Boyle has made a movie unlike any other I've seen and I'd love to see more films like it. Easily one of the most heartwarming movies I've ever laid eyes on, Slumdog Millionaire knows how to play to the viewer's emotions in all the right ways, leaving you completely satisfied and in awe upon exiting the theater or turning off your DVD player. Not to mention, it has some of the best child actors I've ever had the pleasure of watching.

7. Cloverfield
When it comes to unsubstantiated hype, Cloverfield takes the cake. This movie was being hailed as a must-see based on rumors alone, and against all odds it managed to deliver on that hype in a big way. Some would call Cloverfield a giant monster film in the vein of Godzilla, but I'd call it a dramatic adventure which takes place in the vicinity of a giant monster. The creature in Cloverfield is far from the main focus, though it does drive the majority of the plot due to it's mere existence. As such, the task of entertaining the audiences who came into film expecting a series of high-flying monster battles falls upon the shoulders of a few young no-name actors and the sheer quality of the script with which they were working. Both succeed in spades and make for a film that, much to my surprise, stands up 100% to repeat viewings. Don't fret though, if you're looking for a badass creature feature, there are certainly worse places to look.

6. Iron Man
Iron Man has always been one of the most obvious choices for a big name superhero worth bringing to the big screen in my opinion, based purely on the fact that his story is more centered around technological sci-fi than it is absurdist sci-fi/fantasy. Apparently Jon Favreau agreed with me completely, and made a high-tech action film that, surprisingly, was very sparse when it came to the action. With so little combat onscreen, Marvel opted for Iron Man to live or die based on it's characters, and really all you need to know is a name: Robert Downey Jr. As Tony Stark, Downey Jr. created an actor/character marriage that I would have never thought of in a million years, and which almost sells the movie on it's own. This is not to say, however, that there is nothing visually worthy in Iron Man, though. Far from it. The effects are incredible whether Stark is battling other characters in giant armored suits or just fiddling around in his basement workshop. While there have certainly been better movies based on comic books, Iron Man is probably the best superhero movie since the Spiderman series.

5. Eagle Eye
How do movies like National Treasure and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets earn 350 and 470 million dollars respectively and Eagle Eye can hardly break 175? While I despise the former and love the latter, I am willing to admit that they're somewhat similar movies. Both are entirely preposterous in premise, but what National Treasure lacks in noteworthy performances and originality, Eagle Eye delivers en masse. I am totally willing to admit that Eagle Eye's plot and premise are ridiculous, but they do make for one hell of a fun action jaunt. Shia LaBeouf proves once more why I find him to be such a likable, charismatic character actor, Michelle Monaghan gives the most noteworthy performance of her career thus far in my opinion, and Billy Bob Thornton shows once more that he knows how to ham it up in service of the film rather than his ego. D.J. Caruso and Shai LaBeouf, the duo behind 2007's equally fun and mindless romp Disturbia, have done it again.

4. Jumper
Don't believe what you've heard about Jumper. Unless, that is, you've heard that it's a good film, though I seriously doubt you've heard that. Superhero movies are all well and good, but as a comic book reader it was really exciting to see one coming out based on characters I wasn't familiar with. Based on a novel rather than a comic, Jumper took me completely by surprise with it's amazingly original take on a concept as passe among the spandex-clad crowd as teleportation. Hayden Christiansen impressed me here for the first time since Shattered Glass and Samuel L. Jackson once again proves why he's so great at playing characters you love to hate. I won't claim that Jumper is the second coming of the science fiction film, but there are some very cool sci-fi concepts at work here which are expertly countered by the properly executed, fast-paced, shaky camera work of the man who originally perfected that style of action in The Bourne Identity: Doug Liman. I simply can't help but have a smile on my face just about the entire time I'm watching this film, and for that reason it was one of my favorite movies of 2008.

3. Wall-E
Right from the beginning I've loved Pixar. I saw Toy Story in the theater and with just about every subsequent release of one of their films I've wrestled with myself as to whether it were actually better than each of their previous titles or not. Wall-E is no exception. I'm so in awe of this film that I don't know where to begin talking it up because everything about it is great. I guess it's most obvious just to say that the film is beautiful. No one can dispute that. Even if you somehow don't like Pixar's films, you cannot deny that each and every one of their movies raises the bar as far as the eye candy is concerned. In regards to the story, the main thing that Pixar constantly provides which accounts for a lot of why I enjoy their films so much is that the stories, for what are usually considered children's movies, are smart, well thought out, and not dumbed down in any way just to be suitable for kids. They've repeatedly found the perfect balance between what will entertain and delight a child and what will captivate and speak to adults. This is perhaps true moreso of Wall-E than any of Pixar's other films to date, because by the end of this film I was so wrapped up in the plight of the little robot at the center of the plot that I came close to tears. There are plenty of other aspects of Wall-E that I could go into in describing why this movie made it onto, and in fact ranks so high on, this list, but honestly It was probably enough to simply say that it was made by Pixar.

2. The Dark Knight
Well what is there to say about The Dark Knight that hasn't already been said, really? It's a great movie. As a non-Batman fan, this film is just about as good as it can get. While I admit that the movie isn't perfect, it is a spectacle to behold. Much like Pride & Glory, which I reviewed farther down this list, The Dark Knight is best described as an epic. Bruce Wayne's world is flipped upside down during the course of this film and we, the audience, are helpless but to sit, glued to our seats, as some of the best writing, directing, and acting yet to come out of a superhero movie plays out before our widened eyes. Everything else about this film takes a back seat to Heath Ledger's performance, though. Believe the hype. Ledger is mystifying to watch. I think that the perfect combination of wardrobe and make-up, ingenuity, great writing, and mystery all added up to what was probably the best performance of the year. I say mystery because, like myself, I think that a lot of people just didn't know what to expect from The Joker. Not only because Christopher Nolan and company created their own unique vision of the character, but because whether or not you liked Heath Ledger before seeing The Dark Knight, or even knew who he was for that matter, I doubt that there's a person on the planet who could have predicted what he was going to (and indeed capable of) bring(ing) to the table. There are plenty of aspects of The Dark Knight which I'm skipping over here, Aaron Eckhart's performance being one of the more notable ones, but if I were pressed to suggest one reason to go watch The Dark Knight, based on this review I think you know what that one thing would be. And it's almost single-handedly the reason that the film lies so high on this list.

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The best movie of the year. Sometimes this decision is as easy as leaving the theater happy (i.e. my choice of Grind House last year). Sometimes however, it takes a bit more thought than that. I did love The Curious Case of Benjamin Button immediately, but while it is visually amazing, expertly directed, beautifully written, and full of inspired acting, it is still somehow the most reserved film on this list. It's one of only three (what I would call) straight dramas on my Top 10, and of those three it is decidedly less in your face than the others. I think that's why this decision took so much thought. Could such a stoic, sentimental film really be more epic than the The Dark Knight? Could it really be more heart-warming than Wall-E? Could it honestly leave me more delighted than I was exiting my screening of Jumper? Yes, yes, and yes. It would be pretty bold to call this film flawless, but it's certainly closer to deserving that distinction than any of the other films I saw this year, which is why it made #1 on this list. David Fincher still hasn't made a bad film in opinion, which is a bit surprising considering that he took an astonishing leap away from his comfort zone of the highly stylized thriller with Benjamin Button. I'm no longer sure that I can truly define what a "David Fincher movie" is, and that's very exciting. I have no idea what he'll do next or what his take on his next subject will be, but one thing's for sure: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button set the bar high for not only Fincher's upcoming projects, but every theatrical release of the foreseeable future as well.

Runners-Up (in alphabetical order)

The Bank Job

Gran Torino

In Bruges


The Wrestler


10. Hancock
Good premise, poor execution. Somebody over-thought this plot a little bit. The first half of the movie isn't gold, but it's fun. The second half, seemingly written by a different (and incompetent) writer altogether, is way too bogged down by poor plot development, a weak, over-complicated concept, and an ill-informed decision on someone's behalf that the film needed some extra, unnecessary action.

9. Step Brothers
Will Ferrell can only shout in that oafish "I think I know what I'm talking about, but I'm really a bewildered idiot" voice so many times before I become tired of it. When you add John C. Reilly simply aping that very same character back at him, you've essentially got an imbecile blurting non sequiturs at himself in the mirror. Maybe I'd have liked this movie a few years ago before I'd seen the same type of film from Ferrell so many times, but I was bored and annoyed by it more than anything.

8. The Love Guru
Take a movie that was original and funny a decade ago, change it slightly because you have no new ideas, and pray to God that it still works. Fail.

7. Starship Troopers 3: Marauder
Completely changing the plot and tone of the franchise for the first sequel didn't work like it did for Aliens, so why not just try to clone the original movie for this one? Oh, wait...horrible acting, writing, and special effects? This film's tagline should have been "No budget? No problem!"

6. Joyride 2: Dead Ahead
Most horror movie franchises begin with a somewhat original, suspenseful, and entertaining first film and quickly devolve into a repetitive, faceless, blood-soaked mess. Often this occurs as as early as the second installment of the series. Why should Joyride be any different?

5. Punisher: War Zone
Over the top violence and gore needs to be either accompanied by a good, meaningful story or completely devoid of any noteworthy plot to bog it down. Punisher: War Zone fits snugly into the large gray area between those two extremes. It's story is far from perfect, but tries it's best to be something it's not. Also, a parkour runner is disintegrated by a rocket during mid-rooftop-to-rooftop jump. Need I say more?

4. The Eye
The Ring had Naomi Watts. Even The Grudge had Sarah Michelle Gellar. The Eye has Jessica Alba. Who should we get to play our blind, emotional lead? Probably the most beautiful, yet worst actress we can get our hands on. Even if someone of Naomi Watts' caliber had been in this though, it still would have been boring as shit.

3. Righteous Kill
Neither Robert DeNiro nor Al Pacino have been very good in the past ten years or so in my opinion. However, I'm willing to bet that if this movie were made in the 70's or early eighties when both of those guys were in their prime and it had been directed by Martin Scorcese, this script still wouldn't come close to being able to inspire a passable film. What a terrible, terrible waste of talent and money.

2. Max Payne
For a movie based on a video game, the point of which is entirely centered around shooting every single character you see onscreen, Max Payne somehow managed to have less action than Air Bud. It should be illegal to make movies this bad.

1. Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds
This film is the definition of the term "fall from grace". Along with The Mist, Cloverfield, The Host, and Slither, I would include the original Feast among the very short list of the best monster movies made since the turn of the millennium. Admittedly, that's a pretty high bar for a horror sequel to live up to, but if I were to type out everything that was wrong with this movie here I would probably break the internet. Suffice to say that if you respect me, yourself, or the art of film at all, you will quietly look away whenever this film catches your eye and pray nightly to whichever god you believe in to strike down everyone involved with the production of Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds in the most painful and disgraceful way imaginable.

Runners-Up (in alphabetical order)

Baby Mama

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Midnight Meat Train


The Strangers

4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Let The Right One In
Sukiyaki Western Django


- Movies I saw in the theater
- Movies I downloaded or watched on DVD
- Movies that came out Direct To DVD (more or less)
- Movies I saw in IMAX
- Movies I saw in the theater twice
- Movies from 2008 which I didn't see until 2009

The Bank Job
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Eagle Eye
Gran Torino
In Bruges
Iron Man
Lakeview Terrace
Pride & Glory
Slumdog Millionaire
The Wrestler

Bangkok Dangerous
Be Kind, Rewind
Burn After Reading
The Day The Earth Stood Still
The Forbidden Kingdom
Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs
Futurama: Bender's Game
Get Smart
The Incredible Hulk
Kung-Fu Panda
The Promotion
Quantum Of Solace
The Ruins
Speed Racer
Tropic Thunder
Zack & Miri Make A Porno

10,000 B.C.
Batman: Gotham Knight
Drillbit Taylor
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Ghost Town
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
How To Lose Friends And Alienate People
Pineapple Express
Role Models
Run, Fat Boy, Run
The Signal
Street Kings
Vantage Point
You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Baby Mama
Babylon A.D.
Dead Space: Downfall
Death Race
The Happening
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Man On Wire
Midnight Meat Train
Step Brothers
The Strangers
X-Files: I Want To Believe

The Eye
Feast II: Sloppy Seconds
Joyride 2: Dead Ahead
The Love Guru
Max Payne
Punisher: War Zone
Righteous Kill
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

Click Here to read my Top 10 Movies of 2007.

***All of the information in this post is only accurate through February 15, 2009, after which time my opinions may change due to subsequent viewings.