The story of the Calvin & Hobbes documentary is almost as compelling as that of Bill Watterson himself. Filmmaker Joel Schroeder has spent years piecing together an extensive retrospective on not just one of the most compelling comic strips of all time, but the enigma of the man behind the pen.

Titled Dear Mr. Watterson, the documentary features insight and commentary from many noted comic strip scribes and individuals like Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County), Bill Amend (Foxtrot), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) and Seth Green (Robot Chicken and Family Guy).

In other good news, Variety is reporting that the documentary has been picked up for North American release this November and will see both theatrical and VOD release on the 15th.

It’s a real delight, especially for Calvin & Hobbes fans. No word however if the documentary features the reclusive Watterson (I doubt it), but there’s just a joyous sense of nostalgia to the strip that lives long after the last new one was printed in 1995.

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Film, Film Reviews

Film Review: Pacific Rim

Somewhere between the minds that created Japanese Manga, mecha beasts and Hell demons comes Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Offering a glutinous feast of sight and sound for all the senses, Hollywood’s latest entry into the monster movie cannon is the personification of the Americanized Japanese blockbuster. While the spate of recent apocalyptic fare has offered up cynicism with its dose of explosive, Del Toro’s monster flick has far more optimism written in. Like the historical nature of the Japanese monster movie, there is a very clear definition between good and evil, and much of the characters’ hope comes from the promise of a rising sun.

Pacific Rim is massive, both in size and detail, and throws the viewer into the middle of the coda from the onset. Humanity has been thrust into a titanic battle with giant monsters that have emerged from the depths of our oceans. These leviathans (known as Kaijus) came through the seas and have forced humanity to build equally terrifying mechanical beasts (built as Jaegers) in retaliation. This exposition comes very quickly in the opening stanza of the film, and before you can dig in to your popcorn we’re shot 5 years into the present where the battle between man-made beast and beast is at its pinnacle. It’s a little bit of a shame we do not get the same gradual storytelling the way Independence Day unfolded, as while there is no time wasted before we’re into the meat of Pacific Rim, it would be have been a fascinating exploration into the reveal of these monsters if Del Toro would have spent more than 5 minutes explaining their sudden appearance on Earth.

jaegerThe cast is led by the booming presence of Idris Elba, whose headstrong-into-battle marshalling of the supporting cast is a pretty decent homage to Bill Pullman’s noble Presidential turn in ID4 (right down to the motivational speech). Alongside, Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) portrays Raleigh Beckett, your everyman hero; talented and charismatic, leading the charge against the monsters. His occasional brooding is brought upon by the burden of his past, and serves as both motivation and a hindrance to his return into the Jaeger program. His new co-pilot is Rinko Kikuchi’s (Babel) Mako Mori, whose deft touch to deceiving Asian frailty is offset by her ability to nail down her need to kick-ass when required. Similarly, her backstory takes the audience to perhaps the film’s most touching moment- the young Mako hunted through the city streets by a Kaiju (played by youngster Mana Ashida, who already has 23 titles to her resume). There is a real terrifying sense of hopelessness and fear to her character, and it really takes the audience far into the film’s best human moment.

As humanity and their machines battle the beasts, we find that the Kaiju continue to evolve and that their end game is unexpected. It is up to two wily scientists (played with some timely humour by Charlie Day and with odd Britishness by Burn Gorman) to figure out a way to effectively end the Kaiju menace. From here, we’re treated to some of the most exhilarating and breathtaking big screen CGI battles we’ve ever seen, and there is almost an operatic tone to Del Toro’s vision. While Michael Bay and Zack Snyder are happy to punch you in the head for 2+ hours, Del Toro adds a little song and dance to the fold. From the oceans to the metropolis streets, the collision of steel and flesh unfolds in the most effective and detailed carnage yet. It’s beautiful destruction without the fatigue.

“Those who grew up with Japanese robot cinema, or even kooky television shows like Dai Sentai Goggle-V, will know that there is a youthful veneer to all the beasts and destruction.”

Expectedly, there is some glorious cheese to the dialogue (and the Australian accents placed on the Australian Jaeger pilots are at times, excruciating), but Del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham know that it isn’t Shakespearean context that will successfully connect all the action. It’s about being funny at the right times, being overly dramatic in others, and doing their best to be human the rest. Those who grew up with Japanese robot cinema, or even kooky television shows like Dai Sentai Goggle-V, will know that there is a youthful veneer to all the beasts and destruction. It says that while there is evil, there are good protectors that will defend and fight for the rest of humanity. And in contrast to all the computer generated modernity of the picture, much of Pacific Rim is old fashioned in its sensibilities.

With Del Toro’s eye for detail, some good casting and a seriously fun attitude, Pacific Rim does what films like the Hollywood version of Godzilla couldn’t do; make the ridiculous believable, exciting and at times, just immensely breathtaking. Go see Pacific Rim at the largest screened cinema you can find, where the audio is cranked up to 11, and where they’ll charge you an extra few dollars for 3D glasses. You will be entertained.

Pacific Rim is in cinemas July 11th in Australia and July 12th in the United States.

 

PACIFIC RIM
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Written by: Travis Beachham, Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kickuchi, Charlie Day
Released by: Warner Bros.
Website: pacificrimmovie.com

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Film, Sight & Sound, Trailers

Trailer watch: Thanks For Sharing

Thanks For Sharing is Hollywood’s rom com spin on the ol’ sex addict problem. It’s got Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Pink (ugh), and that other guy fighting off their serious sexual urges. But it’s Hollywood so it’s funny and romantic!

It’s also got Gwyneth Paltrow in little more than her birthday suit. Thanks For Sharing shoots out into theatres in September.

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Film, Sight & Sound, Trailers

Trailer watch: Pacific Rim (At the Edge)

A brand new trailer for Guillermo Del Toro‘s much anticipated monster flick Pacific Rim has been released. Titled “At The Edge”, the new trailer highlights the motivational speech Idris Elba‘s character gives as humanity takes a stand against the monsters from the deep.

“Today we face the monsters that are at our door. Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

 

Eat your heart out Bill Pullman. Pacific Rim stomps into theatres in Australia July 11th, and into North American cinemas a day later.

 

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Film, Trailers

Trailer watch: Drinking Buddies

Beer. Liquid courage, the elixir of life, and the catalyst for many a great and catastrophic relationship. Drinking Buddies is a new comedy starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston, and Anna Kendrick that tells the story of two intertwined couples as they go through the ups and downs, ins and outs, of being couples. Beer, being among the common threads between them.

Where does the line between friends and more cross? Watch the trailer to find out more.

Directed by Joe Swanberg (Uncle Kent), the film premiered at this year’s South By Southwest Festival and will see limited release in the United States this August.

 

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Trailer watch: The Lego Movie

No childhood is safe.

Warner Bros is preparing the release of The Lego Movie, an animated version of everyone’s favorite building toys. Helmed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), The Lego Movie features the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Nick Offerman and Morgan Freeman.

The movie tells the story of Emmet (Pratt), an ordinary Lego man who is mistaken for a master builder chosen to save the Lego world. The movie’s development began back in 2008 before finally getting greenlit by Warner Bros in 2011. The Lego Movie is set to his cinemas February 2014.

 

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Trailer watch: The Wolf of Wall Street

More is never enough, so goes the mantra of Martin Scorcese‘s next big flick The Wolf Of Wall Street. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as convicted stock market manipulator Jordan Belfort, the film details a man who refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, the corporate banking world and mob infiltration.

This is not the first time Belfort’s life has been given the Hollywood treatment. His memoir, The Wolf Of Wall Street, had been the inspiration for the rather terrific 2000 film Boiler Room. The book is once again the basis for a film; helmed by Scorcese and co-starring Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze and Joanna Lumley.

The Wolf of Wall Street is set to hit cinemas this November.

 

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