Trailers

Trailer watch: Guardians of the Galaxy

The first interstellar trailer for Marvel’s anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy premiered on Jimmy Kimmel Live and is now online. Star Chris Pratt was a guest and brought along the trailer; the first extended footage from the film. Set to hit cinemas August 1st, Guardians of the Galaxy will be the first big Marvel venture into their universe’s lesser known characters, and is the final part of Marvel’s Phase 1 films before the next Avengers movie.

Anyone who stayed for the end credits scene in Thor: The Dark World would have gotten a taste of Benicio Del Toro’s character The Collector from the film, but now we get our first real look at wacky characters like Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy stars Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

The film’s official synopsis reads as follows:

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill / Star-Lord finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. In order to evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a group of misfits including Gamora, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer and Groot. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Check out the trailer below:

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Film Reviews

Film Review: RoboCop (2014)

In 1987, director Paul Verhoeven made a subversive film detailing the destructive nature of human corruption, greed, capitalism and privatisation masquerading as a man in a suit of armor. The film of course, was RoboCop, about detective Alex Murphy who is brutally wounded in the line of duty only to be brought back to life as a half human/half robot dichotomy of machine-like efficiency and human emotion. The film was, on all accounts, a resounding and violent success; the accompanying gravitas added by the burgeoning excess of the 1980s.

Fast forward more than two decades and Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha’s first venture into English-language film is Hollywood’s revisit to Verhoeven’s classic. Looking at RoboCop (2014) from a distance, its easy to point out what fans of the original may have issues with. Among them is the film’s PG-13 rating, toning down the original’s purposeful violence and bloodshed. Yet as Padilha makes his way through modern Detroit’s Omnicorp-laden landscape, we’re given a brand new palette in which to immerse ourselves in- one that succeeds for the most part.

The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman is the new Alex Murphy- boasting the same kind of disheveled, gravely tone Peter Weller had in the original- he does a great job of being both human and robotic. And while the dystopian picture given in Verhoeven’s original isn’t quite as present, we’re given the backdrop of continued Middle East tension as to why America needs robots to defend the streets instead of humans. At the head of Omnicorp is Michael Keaton’s Raymond Sellers, an astute businessmen whose motives seem to be driven more by money and success than crazed megalomania. His towering corporate stance is given an opposing shadow by Gary Oldman’s Dr. Dennett Norton (a scientist whose primary role was to create robotic prosthetics to those who have lost their limbs). Through this we see that not even Keaton’s character is decisively evil, just focused on turning over political law to suit his corporate needs.

The crux of the film’s problems may stem from Samuel L. Jackson’s annoying media figure Pat Novak. He serves as the host of the political talk show The Novak Element, which serves as the political commentary of the film. The cross section of this plot progression is a little clunky and somewhat distracting, and while attempts to help bring home the corruptive and unproductive nature of politics, seems to act as a very unsubtle way to hammer home the idea that the film is making political statements. It doesn’t quite flow as well as the same tactic did in Verhoeven’s other cult subversive statement Starship Troopers.

From here we see Kinnaman battle the aforementioned elements once he becomes half man, half robot. The robot suit is actually quite refined and very well done. While the original RoboCop was literally a giant walking tin can, Padilha has managed to craft a sleek, agile and contemporary version of the suit that plays well into the character’s ability to undertake advanced police work. The best parts of the film are when Alex Murphy battles himself to overcome the robotic sedation of his human side. Credit to Padilha for giving RoboCop agility not only in combat, but in connection as well.

The biggest gripe of the film is perhaps Padilha’s reluctance to let the film become bigger than it is. Perhaps in fear of becoming a by-the-numbers action vehicle, the final third of the film is lacking one last big set piece. It would have been a great way to truly pay homage to the original but replicating its destructive violence- not for it to become just another action film- but to resonate a point the way the 1987 film did.

Fans of the original will undoubtedly complain about RoboCop (2014) shortcomings in comparison to Verhoeven’s. In truth, these two movies come at two very different times in our society and what was cultural shocking and subversive in 1987 needs to be finessed to an impatient and smart audience in different ways. The film is good, and is enjoyable as it is- a sleek, rather subdued but emotionally deft action film- just don’t take it for anything more.

[rating=3]

 

RoboCop is now playing in Australian cinemas and will open in US cinemas February 12th.

 

ROBOCOP
Directed by: Jose Padilha
Written by: Joshua Zetumer
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman
Released by: MGM/Columbia
Running time: 118 minutes

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Trailers

Trailer Watch: Transformers: Age of Extinction

The Super Bowl played host to many exciting new TV spots for a host of upcoming blockbusters. And while there were new teasers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (plus an all new full trailer), the Super Bowl was the first time audiences got a taste of the fourth instalment of the Transformers movie series.

The new film, titled Transformers: Age of Extinction, is set for release June 26th and will see Michael Bay return to direct once more. Gone are Shia LaBeouf and the majority of the previous cast, replaced by the likes of Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz and Jack Raynor. However, what most fans of the series is expecting, is the debut of the cartoon series most noted characters, the Dinobots. Just how dinosaurs fit into the puzzle that is robots from a distant planet? Well, if Michael Bay’s history is anything to go by, we’ll most likely get a little bit canonical accuracy mixed in with a dose of originality and Bayhem. Much speculation and teaser dissection has already taken place over at the official Michael Bay forums, with keen eyes and observers noting down the potential characters and possibilities the teaser holds.

What we do know of course is that the most important of all Dinobots, Grimlock, will finally make his big screen debut.

Michael Bay doesn’t disappoint with the first teaser, giving us a glimpse of the prehistoric machines alongside a still that features Optimus Prime riding Grimlock.

Giant transforming robots doing battle atop giant transforming dinosaurs? What’s not to like?

We impatiently await the first full length trailer to flesh out the 30 or so seconds we’re given here. Hopefully much sooner than later.

Grab the hi-res image below:

TRANFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

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Film Reviews

Film Review: Last Vegas

It’s hard to believe that there will soon be a generation of moviegoers who will not see the likes of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and to some extent, Kevin Kline, as anything but “the old guys in a movie”. While these four may be at the tail end’s of their much lauded careers, their ability to find roles that while be diminished in terms of their scope, still give them enough room to show audiences that they were indeed the best of their time.

Last Vegas, a Jon Turteltaub (known best for 90s fair Cool Runnings, While You Were Sleeping) flick, can easily be labeled or dismissed as a senior citizens version of The Hangover. To some extent, it’s true, the story surrounds Michael Douglas’ everyoung ladies man Billy Ghershon who is finally getting married in his 60s (to someone half his age). His best friends are corralled together for one last hurrah in Vegas. Seems straight forward, yet what Turteltaub and the writers have done is given the film an added texture of personality and humility. It means that while Last Vegas is less brazen than The Hangover, it certainly isn’t anywhere near as provoking or memorable, however, it doesn’t mean it’s not without merit. Quite the opposite in fact. While The Hangover left behind no aspect of shame, Last Vegas‘ message is actually more about rebuilding and solidifying friendships broken by mistrust and miscommunication. Through an opening set in the 50s of Brooklyn, the heart of the film is born; four best friends will spend a lifetime sorting through the ups and downs of life.

When we are reconnected with them 58 years later, there is a rift between Billy Gershon and De Niro’s character Paddy Conners. Much of the friction comes between these two and both play it off really well. They’re like a more sophisticated rendition of Grumpy Old Men, set to the backdrop of the glitz and glam of Las Vegas. Through it all, we get lot of old jokes, lost in a generational gap jokes, and some old fashion “get off my lawn” jokes. Romance, age and time play a big part in the plot’s progression after we’re introduced to the still radiant Mary Steenburgen. And while there are elements that can be described as The Hangover type debauchery, it is far more toned down. In fact, much of the humour comes from the juxtaposition of old (people) and the young (Vegas, in spirit).

Yes, it’s funny, and all four actors play a substantial part in the appeal of Last Vegas. As the conclusion nears, we see that the point of the film isn’t about flying to Vegas to have one last debaucherous weekend reliving one’s youth, but rather rediscovering and perhaps, finally realising what really is important in life. Something that gives the film a true warmth. Fans of Grumpy Old Men will certainly find a kind hearted soul underneath a rough, agitated and cantankerous exterior they enjoyed from Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau. But perhaps, for a generation of viewers who have no idea who Lemmon and Matthau are, they’ve got De Niro and Douglas. Not bad really.

[rating=3]

 

Last Vegas opens in Australian cinemas February 6th.

 

LAST VEGAS
Directed by: John Turteltaub
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Cast: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen
Released by: CBS Films
Running time: 105 minutes

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