Olympus Has Fallen

olympusIt had been a somewhat dry year at the theatre so far in 2013, as no film had stepped up and wowed me yet.  The best movie I have seen so far in the theatre this year was actually a 2012 release.  That can finally be washed away with the release of ‘Olympus Has Fallen’.

Action fare has been hit hard at the box office so far this year, with ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’, ‘Parker’, ‘The Last Stand’, ‘ Dead Man Down’ and ‘Bullet to the Head’ all drastically underperforming at the box office and disappointing theatre goers alike.  2013 was due for a good kick start, especially in the action genre, and that finally happened this weekend with ‘Olympus Has Fallen’.

Starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is a perfect example that a fun action movie can still be made that does not come across as tired, much like ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ did earlier this year.

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is a full-on return to what made action movies so much fun during the 1980’s, and is actually quite comparable to the original ‘Die Hard’ and that is a very good thing.

Gerard Butler is at his ass-kicking best as Mike Banning, a former Secret Service agent who is channeling his inner John McClane better than Bruce Willis has lately.  Butler also has the opportunity to deliver some of the best one-liners we have heard in years in the theatre in this film.

Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart are in supporting roles in this film, but both do their parts admirably, doing exactly what you want out of supporting characters: allow the villain to connect with the audience.

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is the most fun I have had in the theatre so far in 2013.  It was an enjoyable, funny, entertaining, edge of your seat action movie, and one that I would 100% recommend to anyone that asks.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

wonderstone‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ qualifies as the first real big miss at theatres so far in 2013.  Filled with some of the best comedic talent in the movie industry, with a premise that seemed to full of hope, this film definitely fell flat in the end.

The last time that Steve Carell and Jim Carrey starred together in a live action movie, we got ‘Bruce Almighty’, which was a fantastic entry into the comedy genre.  The only other time they have appeared in the same movie was in the animated ‘Horton Hears a Who’, which was equally as fantastic as ‘Bruce Almighty’.  So with that history, many would be hoping for another great turn in ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’.

For myself, I found that on a whole that the story actually was a major factor in the overall letdown of this film.  The characters were static and wooden, with cookie cutter character changes to cram a love story that was out of place and quite unnecessary to the overall plot of the film.

The one shining light of this film was once again Alan Arkin.  As he did in last year’s ‘Argo’, Arkin does a wonderful job in a supporting role and steals every scene that he is in.  Arkin is aging superbly and seems like he is really enjoying the roles he has been taking as of late, and ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ is another shining example of that.

As for the rest of the cast, they were for the most part underutilized or miscast and it was definitely to the detriment of the overall performance of the film.  Carell was nothing exciting, Carrey was a surprising letdown in a role that seemed to have his name written all over it, while Olivia Wilde seems to flounder in many roles that she is cast in, as she once again seems lost in a primary role in a film.

This film will suffer at the domestic box office and may in the end even suffer in home video.  This is a film that I would say if you want to see it, wait until you can grab it as a decently priced rental and give it a try that way.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Return of Sci-Fi

2013 is setting up to be a banner year for the Sci-Fi genre in the film industry, the likes of which has not been seen in years.  In recent years we have seen what amounts to a decline in the quality of over-all Sci-Fi films, if not an increase in quantity of films, much to the chagrin of Sci-Fi fans.

The Sci-Fi genre has given us films such as the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, the rebooted ‘Star Trek’ franchise and one-offs such as ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Minority Report’.  In recent years, we have seen films such as ‘Battle Los Angeles’ that have been subpar beyond belief.

2013 really is a launchpad kind of year, especially now that Disney has announced up to five new ‘Star Wars’ films to come our way, including ‘Star Wars Episode VII’ to be directed by J.J. Abrams, who brought life back to the ‘Star Trek’ franchise.  If 2013 can be a successful year for the Sci-Fi Genre, the new slate of ‘Star Wars’ films will just serve to further enhance future Sci-Fi films.

Oblivion April 19

oblivionThe first of the Sci-Fi slate of films to hit in 2013 is ‘Oblivion’, set to come out on Friday, April 19.  Starting Tom Cruise in his return to the Sci-Fi genre, ‘Oblivion’ will be test of Cruise’s ability to draw a crowd following his effort in ‘Jack Reacher’ at the end of 2012 that brought in subpar crowds.  The last two Sci-Fi films that Cruise headlined, 2005’s ‘War of the Worlds’ and 2002’s ‘Minority Report’, had a mixed bag of results, and if ‘Oblivion’ can find a middle ground between the two films, it will be a success.

Set an on Earth ravaged by a war with an alien race that the Human race “won”, ‘Oblivion’ takes place on a planet where Humans no linger live on Earth.  The trailers for ‘Oblivion’ also continue to hint at a massive twist at some point and time during the movie, but what that twist could end up being is still not known.

Star Trek into Darkness May 17

stid‘Star Trek into Darkness’ will not only be the biggest Sci-Fi movie of 2013 but could wind up being one of the top-grossing films of the year as well.  That is just how well the 2009 reboot of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise was received across the mainstream of movie goers.  The job that J.J. Abrams did of creating a Trek Universe that could still being in longtime fans of the franchise but also new fans was more than anyone could have hoped for, and ‘Darkness’ looks to build upon that.

The first full length trailer that was released for ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ immediately set the tone for this film and is one of the better trailers released in years, but the true test was when the first five minutes of the film was released in IMAX theatres attached to ‘The Hobbit’ last year.  A full throttle five minute ride it was, with more of the great action and comedy that helped reboot the franchise in 2009.

Back in 2009, Paramount and Abrams proved that a ‘Trek’ for the masses could work, and there should be even more of the same with ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ when it opens up in mid-May.

After Earth May 31

ae‘After Earth’ appears to possibly be the weakest of 2013’s big name Sci-Fi entrants, despite the inclusion of Will Smith, who headlined one of the biggest original Sci-Fi films of all time in ‘Independence Day’.  Starring both Will Smith and his son Jaden as a father and son team, ‘After Earth’ is set 1000 years after the Human race has abandoned Earth and setup a new planet called Nova Prime.

While I have never been a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan, although I did really enjoy ‘Signs’, and while it is hard to go against Will Smith in this kind of movie, having him be more of a supporting role could actually hinder the film.  Of the six films on this list, this will be the one that I am least likely to see.

World War Z June 21

wwzZombies certainly seem to be all the rage in this day and age in popular media, and ‘World War Z’ will be looking to capitalize on the goodwill set forward by ‘The Walking Dead’ television show and a previous zombie film this year in ‘Warm Bodies’.

Originally, ‘World War Z’ was set to be released in December of last year, but setbacks pushed it to this coming June.  The most worrisome part of this film would have to be the fact that it was being filmed while the ending was being re-written, always an area of concern, especially for a big-budget kind of movie.

Whether or not Brad Pitt will be able to carry ‘World War Z’ and its deviation from the format of the book of the same name has yet to be determined, but as a possible franchise builder, expect the marketing to be heavy in late May.

Pacific Rim July 12

pacrim

‘Pacific Rim’ seems like a natural fit for the word “aweseme”.  A film about giant sea-based monsters fighting giant robots controlled by two Humans bridged with an interface directed by Guillermo del Toro could end up being the sheer definition of awesome.

Del Toro is a genius when it comes to creating worlds inhabited by monsters, as his work on ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ and ‘Pan`s Labyrinth’ has long shown, and ‘Pacific Rim’ seems to right in his wheelhouse.

Elysium August 9

elysium

The last really wonderful original Sci-Fi film that came out that was well-received by critics and had a large box-office impact as well was 2009’s ‘District 9’, directed by first-time director Neill Blomkamp.  ‘District 9’ was nominated for Best Picture at the 82nd Academy Awards, and since then we have been waiting for Blomkamp to return to the director’s chair for his sophomore effort.

Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, ‘Elysium’ is Blomkamp’s first foray into a big-budget Hollywood movie, but by sticking to the Sci-Fi genre with a film he also wrote, the only issue that could pop up with ‘Elysium’ is the fact that has been bumped back in the schedule a couple of times, but by landing in August when ‘District 9’ was also released, this could work in Blomkamp’s favour.

A film about two class systems, one living in the atmosphere in a pristine world, the other on an over-populated and left for ruin Earth, ‘Elysium’ will tell the story of the lengths that one man will go to to try and find a better life.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Oz: The Great and Powerful

ozDisney’s track record as of late with adapting pre-existing stories into big-budget live-action film productions has been spotty at best.  While there are some out there like myself that have enjoyed their recent forays such as 2010’s ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ and ‘Tron: Legacy’ and 2012’s ‘John Carter’, many have not enjoyed them, and while 2010’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has set all kinds of box-office records, it has not moved into the area of must-see long-term film that many Disney animated films have.

With that being said, we come to this years first foray into big-budget, possible franchise starter attempt for Disney in ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’.  An attempt to tell the origins of the Wizard of Oz character, Disney brought in Sam Raimi to direct and eventually turned to James Franco as the lead character after trying unsuccessfully to bring in more well-known actors.

Raimi and Franco of course have previously worked together with the original ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy, and I found that Franco’s Harry Osborn in those films were lacking and we get more of the same here as well.

As a whole, I found that the acting from the main four actors, Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz, was lacking, and I was particularly let down by Kunis whom I felt could have had a possible career defining role in this film, but that never came forward.

Probably the best character in this film is Finley the flying monkey.  A CGI character voiced by Zach Braff, Finley steals most of the scenes that he is in.  I firmly believe that Finley is best looking overall CGI character we have had since we got our first full look at Gollum in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ back in 2002.

Visually I would say that ‘Oz’ is the best looking film so far in 2013, with rich colours and vibrant backdrops thoughout the film.  Even the darker scenes managed to visually pop off the screen and bring more life to the film.

There are also enough tips of the hat and homages to the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to tie it all together, even though Disney were not allowed to directly show the tie-ins due to rights issues, like having to use a different shade of green for the Wicked Witch of the West than in the original film.

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ is a great tie-in to ‘The Wizard of Oz’ but is yet another tie-in prequel that lost some of its magic due to the digital nature of film today compared to the original, much like what happened with the prequel trilogy for ‘Star Wars’.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.

Jack the Giant Slayer

jack‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ was decent enough effort of a film, but for what had been thought of as a big-budget blockbuster, it does come up short, much like 2012’s ‘John Carter’ and ‘Battleship’.

The one thing that I really did enjoy about this ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ was also what is possibly its biggest downfall and that is the job that Ewan McGregor as Elmont, leader of the King’s Elite Guard.  McGregor does steal his scenes and overshadow anyone else that appears on-screen with him.

Director Bryan Singer directed the film natively in 3D and at times it was very noticeable, but not in a good way, especially with a couple of shots that were done from the vantage point of one of the giants while looking down on the humans.  This managed to take me out of the film on those occasions, and that is not what you are looking for when you go to see a movie.

Aside from those few moments, ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ is yet another visually stunning film on the whole, something that is becoming quite the running theme in movies from Hollywood as of late, but despite that, it could not overcome a fairly light script.

In the end, ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ ends up being just another story that was full of potential that ended up coming up flat, and on this one, that ends up being the fault of a lack of character development.  For the most part the characters seemed wooden and lacking any kind of depth, and that severely hurt this film.

If you get a chance to see ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ on a Tuesday in 2D, go for it, otherwise, I would suggest waiting until you can watch it in the comfort of your own home for a $5 rental fee.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer.  Cheers.