Fall 2013 Season – Part Two

I don’t know if it is due from just getting older and as a result being more open to films beyond raunchy comedies and big-budget popcorn flicks, or if my tastes are changing, or if I am actively seeking out more types of films and being open to them, but with each passing year I manage to find additional levels of enjoyment from award caliber fare later in the calendar year.

As a result of this, the following article is full of eleven different award season fodder that under normal circumstances, will be on my viewing list before the end of January, and this list contains only one film that I know for sure would have made my list just two to three years ago.

This is also a sign for movie audiences everywhere on two different fronts.  First off, more big name directors and big name actors and actresses are willing to do smaller, character driven films that have enough entertainment value for the general masses.  Secondly, bigger metroplexes in more markets, and even smaller cities, are willing to bring these films in knowing that it will draw audiences to increase profits.  These two things lead off into numerous films on this list.

The ten films that follow are the larger films that are already garnering award buzz, be it for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor or Best Actress awards, and these are the eleven films that most people will have the opportunity to see before the Golden Globes are held in January.

Rush – September 27

rush

The only film on this list that I will 100% see, ‘Rush’ tells the story of the famed 1976 Formula One season and the race for the title between Englishman James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda and the horrific crash that Lauda suffered during the German Grand Prix of that season.

Directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, ‘Rush’ seems poised to push Hemsworth beyond his role as Thor and into the light as an actor to deal with moving forward.

Gravity – October 4

gravity

Initially put forth as a true 3D event film, in the same vein as last year’s ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Gravity’ may be one of Hollywood’s last gasps to sell a film as must see in the format that has been shunned for the most part in North America this year.  From director Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Gravity’ appears to tell the story of astronauts being stranded in space.

In order to get the best feel for the film, many people are avoiding watching trailers and TV spots featuring stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney floating away in space, and as a result of not furthering plot points in these scenes, the average theatre goer may wind up passing on this film, but much like ‘Life of Pi’, it could be a mistake waiting to happen to pass on it.

Captain Phillips – October 11

captphillips

Tom Hanks was one of the most bankable actors of the mid to late 1990’s, and with back-to-back Best Actor Oscar wins for ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ and two further nominations for ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Cast Away’, Hanks practically owned Hollywood at the turn of the millennium.  While his time since than has been more miss than hit, it appears that ‘Captain Phillips’ may be a turning back the clock so to speak.

Based on a true story, a running theme in this years films that are chasing the award’s season, ‘Captain Phillips’ will feature a defiant Hanks in a bit of an isolationist role, something right in his wheelhouse, and we may end up seeing a sixth career Best Actor nod from this film.

The Fifth Estate – October 18

fifthestate

Featuring one of the hottest names in films today, Benedict Cumberbatch, ‘The Fifth Estate’ tells the story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his exploits in becoming one of the most infamous men in the world.  Featuring Daniel Bruhl in his second appearance on this list as Assange’s right-hand man and author of the book that the film itself is being partly based on.

That being said, due to the nature of the film and the fact that is based around a whistle-blower, it may wind up not being able to live up to its own hype, and a quick look at the current Rotten Tomatoes score for the film seems to back up that line of thinking.

12 Years a Slave – October 18

12years

If there is a film that could be considered a heavy runaway contender for most awards this season, ’12 Years a Slave’ would be sure to be that film.  Based on the real-life re-tellings of Solomon Northup, ’12 Years a Slave’ tells the story of a freeman kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American South before the Civil War.

Directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, and a slew of name actors in other roles, such as Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, ’12 Years a Slave’ sure seems to be the go-to film for critics ahead of its limited release in mid-October.  Whether that steam continues for average theatre goers or not, this film is sure setup to win hearts and trophies.

The Wolf of Wall Street – November 15

wolf

Another year, another highly anticipated film that might finally give Leonardo DiCaprio his sought after Oscar.  That is what ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ carries with it this year.  While the film also features actors like Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, expect DiCaprio to be the centre of attention of the marketing for this film, especially considering it is directed by Martin Scorsese, and the history between the two.

Whether or not this film can finally get DiCaprio the long elusive Oscar for Best Actor will be one of the key drivers and selling points moving forward, especially if it is having a healthy run in the theatres when nominations begin to be announced.

The Monuments Men – December 18

monuments

I am a sucker for war movies, and ‘The Monuments Men’ seems to be right up that alley, yet with a nice twist to separate it from the pack.  Set during World War II, this film features a group of allies trying to preserve works of art and other culturally relevant items from the hands of Hitler and the Nazis.

Based on true events, ‘The Monuments Men’ will be another testament to the wide range of great actors in Hollywood today, with the likes of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray and John Goodman putting on the fatigues to fight an important cause during the war years.

Inside Llewyn Davis – December 20

llewyn

The latest film from the Coen Brothers, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, features another star-studded cast in a film built around the 1960’s folk music scene.  Featuring the talents of Oscar Davis, John Goodman, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ is bound to be one of the harder to predict how it will do.

The reason for that is that it could be a quieter film due to the plot and the store, but the film also managed to win the Grand Prix award at Cannes this year, and that could cancel out the other aspects of the film.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – December 25

mitty

It appears that ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ is Ben Stiller’s attempt to enter the serious part of his career.  As director and lead actor of the film, Stiller is definitely trying to show off that he has some real acting ability, and judging by the trailer that was released for the film, it will be hard to argue that he isn’t pulling it off.

While a story of a daydreamer has been done before, specifically a film of the same name all the way back 1947, a serious tone to the film could be quite the interesting take in the Christmas time period that Hollywood loves for serious award contenders.

American Hustle – December 25

hustle

Last year’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ from director David O. Russell was one of my favourite films of 2012, and Russell is back with ‘American Hustle’ this year.  Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams and two of Russel’s favourites in Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who  both received Oscar nomination for ‘Playbook’ last year, ‘American Hustle’ takes a look at greed and corruption in 1970’s America.

‘Playbook’ was the first film since 1981 to garner nominations in all four acting categories at the Oscar’s, and with the cast present in ‘American Hustle’, there is no reason to think it can’t duplicate the feat, and a repeat of ‘Playbook’s big five nominations is quite possible as well.

There are definitely more films that will be considered as award season contenders, but this is just a quick list of the ones that most people will end up having come to their theatres this fall and holiday season.  Leading up to the Golden Globes and the Oscar’s, anyone of these ten films could become a front runner.

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

Advertisements

The Family

family

Every once in a while you will come across a film that will defy every plausability and just be an average, run of the mill film that doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth but also doesn’t leave anything to remember.  ‘The Family’ is exactly that kind of film.

From director Luc Besson, best known as the director of ‘The Fifth Element’ and the writer of ‘The Transporter’ and ‘Taken’ series’, ‘The Family’ failed to really find its footing as either a comedy or an action film.  Essentially, it was stuck between knowing what it should have been and what it ended up being.

A better than average performance from Robert De Niro as the father of a mob family being transplanted in witness protection in the north of France is really one of the two highlights of this film.

The only other real highlight of this film was Tommy Lee Jones.  Jones portrays the straight man FBI agent in charge of witness protection program for this family.  Jones has really found a real niche in this kind of role as he has grown older, and that is a huge benefit to films that take advantage of that.

Despite the two performances from De Niro and Jones, this film just lacked any heart to take it to the next level.

When a trailer is released that shows a decent amount of action and some laughs, you actually expect more of that from a film, but ‘The Family’ failed to deliver on that and this is definitely in the bottom rungs of films that I have seen this year.

To those who wish, save yourself the trip to the theatre and if you are inclined to see this film, wait until its inevitable quick turn onto video or Netflix.

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

Fall 2013 Season – Part One

Once the calendar moves beyond Labour Day, the landscape at the movie theatre changes as well.  Instead of being inundated with popcorn flicks and blockbuster fare, September is a dumping ground for for lesser titles as this month tends to have the lowest theatre attendance each and every year.

As the calendar changes to October through the rest of the calendar year through the holiday season, the theatre becomes split really between two kinds of films.  First off we have the start of the Award Season, as films begin to jockey for nominations for major awards like the Golden Globes and the Oscars.  Secondly, we have a late year blockbuster season, where some films now go in hopes of earning a big box office take for their studios, as evidenced by the fact that the last six November’s have all seen over $1 billion dollars for films released that month.

The first films on tap are going to look at some of the bigger films that will be coming out between now and the end of the year, and the hopes of the studios with those films.  The films as always will be listed according to release date.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2September 27

meatballs

After a summer heavy with family aimed animated fare, it will be interesting to see how ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ will do in late September.  The original ‘Cloudy’ opened with a solid $30 million in mid-September of 2009 and anything above and beyond that will be considered a win this year.

A return of most of the voice actors from the first film and a hilarious premise of foodimals trying to escape the setting of the original film, the sequel should be in line to be a hit as well.  The one thing that it does need to be wary of is the fatigue that hit families with successive films aimed at them all summer long.  If ‘Cloudy 2’ can draw in the family audiences, it seems set to challenge the recently set September opening weekend mark from last year’s ‘Hotel Transylvania’.

Ender’s GameNovember 1

endersgameOctober doesn’t have a film that is poised to own the box office combination of big opening with sustained legs, so the next film on tap that could muster that is ‘Ender’s Game’ at the start of November.  Based on the book by Orson Scott Card, ‘Ender’s Game’ is the last gasp for Sci-Fi this year from Hollywood, so it will be interesting to see if it can turn around a very so-so year in that genre.

Due the up and down nature of big budget Sci-Fi from Hollywood this year, and the fact that ‘Ender’s Game’ does have a main character that is in his teens and with a downturn this year when it comes to the Young Adult genre, it could be a tough sell for ‘Ender’s Game’, although the Young Adult genre is definitely aimed more at the teenage girl demographic.  The one thing that could save this film is the 30 years of young boys reading the book that it is based on, and the fact that it is recommended reading for United States Marines.

Thor: The Dark WorldNovember 8

thor2

‘Thor: The Dark World’ is a huge film for Marvel Studios and parent company Disney.  On the heels of last year’s ‘The Avengers’ and this summer’s ‘Iron Man 3’, both of which were North American and International box office behemoths, this film will tell wether only Robert Downey Jr. is the sell, or if other characters and actors can pull the trick as well.

2011’s ‘Thor’ finished 10th in the North American box office with $181 million, so Marvel is clearly hoping for an ‘Avengers’ boost to that number, and looking at isolating the film’s Norse Mythology aspects by placing it in November as winter starts to hit may be a key to that. The downfall to that placement comes with the next film on the list and the fact that it is a sequel to the second biggest film of 2012.  If ‘Thor: The Dark World’ can overcome that, it could be another huge hit for Disney and Marvel.

The Hunger Games: Catching FireNovember 22

catchingfire

I don’t think anyone, even the studio and producers, expected last year’s ‘The Hunger Games to become the third biggest film of 2012 and, at that time, just the 14th film to cross the $400 million North American box office line.  And to do it as a March release was practically unheard of.

Hit with a quick turnaround due to Jennifer Lawrence’s participation in one of 2014’s most anticipated blockbusters, ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ will be looking to work off of the massive success of the first film, but that could be hard to live up to in a jam-packed mid-November to mid-December season.  This will be a big test for Lawrence’s ability to draw in the Young Adult crowd.

FrozenNovember 27

frozen

Disney has had some success with November releases of animated features in the last few years, including last year’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and 2011’s ‘Tangled’.  More of the same is expected from this year’s ‘Frozen’, featuring a wintery tale with supporting characters like a talking snowman and a pet reindeer.

A lot of Disney’s recent animated success has come as a result of not taking the films too seriously, and the comedic tones of ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ will need to continue if ‘Frozen is going to be able to stand out in a year with a lot of family animated features.  Coming out almost two months after ‘Cloudy 2’ should allow ‘Frozen to have a strong run at theatres, as long as it is a good film.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugDecember 13

hobbit

The first entry into the return to Middle Earth, ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ met with lukewarm praise from critics and less than stellar word of mouth, yet still managed to go above $300 million in North America and over $1 billion worldwide.  As a result of the word of mouth situation, there is a possibly that the second entry in what is now a trilogy, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ could finish under those numbers.

That being said, for fans of the book and fans of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and books, the second instalment of ‘The Hobbit’ will give us our first look at the much teased design of the dragon Smaug, and being voiced by current mega-star Benedict Cumberbatch will help with the marketing.

Filmed in 48fps, one of the biggest knocks against ‘An Unexpected Journey’ was that at times it looked too fake, a result of the human eye not being used to the format it was shot in. ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ follows suit and getting over this hurdle will be critical for the success of this middle chapter.

Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesDecember 20

anchorman

I don’t know if there has ever been a more anticipated sequel to comedy ever, in the history of film.  The original ‘Anchorman’ was a modest hit in 2004 but has grown immensely in popularity since then, which will be a massive boon to the sequel and its chances at the box office.

While December is not know as a time of year for a comedy of this nature, ‘Anchorman 2’ will be used as counter-programming against the slate of Oscar-bait films that will be released around the same time period, so expectations will be high that the sequel will be able to pull in ‘The Hangover’ type numbers.

Jack RyanDecember 25

jackryan

Quite possibly the biggest unknown of all the films on this list, ‘Jack Ryan’ has no official trailer released yet, despite being scheduled for theatres just over three months from now. The title of the film is also rumoured to be changing, with a couple of prospective changes rumoured for almost a month now.

Should this film still see its Christmas Day release date, it would be the fifth film to feature the main character from a number of Tom Clancy espionage and world politics books, but as a reboot to feature a younger John Patrick Ryan with reboot expert Chris Pine in the title role.  An attempt by Paramount to get a second franchise rolling with a younger case, ‘Jack Ryan’ sadly is not based on any of the pre-existing books, which could make things unnecessarily cumbersome.  That being said, if done correctly, this could be a surprise hit for late 2013.

In the end, various companies such as Sony, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. are hoping to bolster their revenues late in the year with films such as these, and in a counter programming role, many of these films should have long profitable runs in theatres.

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

Biggest Flops of Summer 2013

In my previous article on the top three summer blockbusters of 2013, I also touched on the fact that this summer seems to have had a higher than normal amount of big budget flops as well.  One of the biggest factors that has led to this is the fact that  there were an astounding eighteen films this summer that cost more than $100 million to make, before taking into account marketing costs.

Of those eighteen films, only eleven made more than $100 million at the North American box office, which is still the most critical component of gauging how well a film does, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned.  While most of the movies made enough money internationally to seem respectable, it is in no way enough to warrant the number of films that we ended up with this summer.

Another critical aspect of the summer was that, between May and the end of July, there were four films aimed at families that all cost over $100 million to produce and came out on the heels of each other.  Only two of these films made back over $100 million in North America, one of them just so.  For the record, the big winner for family movies this summer cost less than $80 million to produce.

Hollywood produced far too many expensive films for this year and scheduled way too many of them into the four month window of the summer season, and for the most part, audiences chose to be wary with the dollars and stayed away from films that looked similar to others and others that suffered mainly from poor scheduling.  With not a lot of “throw away” weekends this summer, some films were destined for failure.

That being said, here are my candidates for biggest flops of the 2013 summer season.

After EarthEstimated Cost $130 Million, Brought In $60 Million

ae

Coming into 2013, there might not have been a more bankable movie star in the world than Will Smith.  His films routinely made over $100 million in the North American box office and that is a wide range of roles, but primarily taking into account films in the Sci-Fi genre, so many thought that ‘After Earth’ would be right in his wheelhouse.  Coupled with that was the great first leading role that his son, Jaden Smith, brought forward in the remake of ‘The Karate Kid’, itself having a box office of $176 million in 2010.

That being said, the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan continues his decline in bringing audiences to the theatre, and a film featuring a Will Smith in a supporting role pushing his son as a bonafide star seems to have done the exact opposite.

The main thing with ‘After Earth’ is that the trailer managed to completely push me away from the film, to the point that I actively avoided it at the box office, and with a North American final tally of just over $60 million dollars, this was clearly the case for many other movie goers as well.

The Lone RangerEstimated Cost $215 million, Brought In $88 Million

loneranger

This is a film that I dearly wanted to love, and I get the feeling that I am not the only one that wanted to do that as well, but due to a series of events, ‘The Lone Ranger’ will go down as yet another box office bomb from Walt Disney Studios.  Following on the heels of 2012’s ‘John Carter’ and 2010’s ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time’ and ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, all of which performed well under expectations, Disney was clearly hoping for big things with ‘The Lone Ranger’.

With Disney desperate for a hit, they turned to frequent collaborators Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp to make things right. Alas, this did not turn into another ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, and with a convoluted presentation, ‘The Lone Ranger’ could not be saved by Depp’s on-screen antics.  In fact, Depp may have been one of the biggest impediments to the possible success of this film.

My biggest issue with ‘The Lone Ranger’ was the way that the story was told.  The scenes in a 1930’s Wild West show completely killed any momentum that the film managed to build and seeing Johnny Depp in some wrinkly skin suit was just not needed.

As for the actual Wild West part, with the Lone Ranger character, you could tell that these scenes could have been great, and that is perhaps the most disheartening thing, you can see that this could have been an awesome film, but the fact that it wasn’t all set during that time period, and that it took too long of a time for Armie Hammer to put on the mask definitely is a deterrent.  Big budget films need positive word of mouth and repeat viewings, and ‘The Lone Ranger’ never got either of those to help it out.

R.I.P.D.Estimated Cost $130, Brought In $33 Million

ripdI said it during my review of ‘R.I.P.D.’ that it was one of the worst films that I have ever seen, and two months later, I still feel that way and clearly audience the world over agree with me.

‘R.I.P.D.’ is a prime example of how Hollywood goes through phases of looking to a certain source or other form of entertainment for ideas for films, and regardless of how similar they may be to other films or ideas, or how well it will translate to the screen or not, will ride that source into the ground until they kill it, and ‘R.I.P.D.’ could be that nail in the coffin for lesser known graphic novel adaptations.

Personally, I have never walked out of a film that I have seen in the theatre, but ‘R.I.P.D.’ almost was the first, and that is a real shame, as I am a fan of both Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds.  That being said, neither of them were strong enough, and the concept was far too mismatched to work on the big screen, and this film also wasted an appearance from Kevin Bacon as well, and that really is a shame.

Scheduled to open against three other nationwide releases, including an animated film featuring Reynolds as the lead voice, one of the four films was bound to struggle, and ‘R.I.P.D.’ got the worst of it.  This film is so bad that I can not recommend it at all, even when it hits Netflix later this year.

 

In the end, Hollywood needs to adjust a couple of things in how the summer blockbuster season works.  Scheduling movies too close together, and trying to finance too many movies into money makers needs to stop.  What Hollywood will end up doing is focusing more on sequels and less on original content instead of having more restrained budgets on original content.

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

Riddick

riddickThe fact that we have gotten a third film featuring Vin Diesel as titular character ‘Riddick’ is a sign of two things.  One, that enough of his 50 million followers on Facebook wanted to see the character once again, and secondly, that Diesel has some affinity for the role with the steps he undertook to get this film into theatres.

Diesel accepted the rights to the character instead of receiving a paycheque for his brief appearance in ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’, and you could tell that he clearly wanted to return the character to its R-rated roots and away from the PG-13 aspect that ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ was saddled with.

As for ‘Riddick’ itself, if you have seen ‘Pitch Black’ of ‘Chronicles’, you know what to expect from this film.  Not much is brought forward, but the film does a good job of highlighting the fact that while Riddick may be a murderous criminal, he does have a code of honour and is a man of his word, much to the delight of long-time fans.

That being said, there really is not much more to this film.  Diesel is at his dark, brooding best, but the rest of the characters seemingly could be replaced by cardboard cutouts, as the only real heart in this film is given to a CGI jackal dog that Riddick raises from a pup to be his ally in staying alive on the planet that he is marooned on.

For fans of the franchise and the character, there is definitely enough to appease them, but for someone who hasn’t seen either, or both, of the first two films, you could wind up a little lost with what passes as a back-story in this film.

For fans, this is definitely worth a trip to the theatre to check out.  For neutrals, this would be best left to a free rental in a few months time.

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

Top Three Summer Blockbusters of 2013

Well, the summer blockbuster season of 2013 has come and gone and is quite a mixed bag of results.  While the overall box office from the start of May until the end of Labour Day weekend set a new seasonal record with a total of over $4.6 billion, many movies flopped considerably at the North American box office.

When you take into account estimated attendance, summer of 2013 ranks as only the 14th best attended summer season at the box office, and that is where you start to see the impact that big budget flops had on the theatre going masses this year.

What this also has meant is that some movies that were expected to do big business managed to underperform in one way or another, be it from the packed summer schedule, poor timing for a plot of a film, to bloated budgets or just horrible stories.  As a result, this summer is going to be remembered more in a negative light than in a positive light.

With that in mind, what follows are what I consider to be the best three big-budget box office films of the 2013 summer.  What you won’t see here are smaller films that won over theatre goers, like ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ or horror fare like ‘The Conjuring’, but films that were made and designed to own the box office during the summer months, in order that they were released.

Star Trek Into Darkness – $228 Million

stid

The next entry in ‘Star Trek’ lore, and quite possibly the final time director J.J. Abrams will be responsible for the Starship Enterprise as he heads over to helm the forthcoming ‘Star Wars Episode VII’ that is due out tentatively in 2015.

‘Into Darkness’ is a continuation of the 2009 reboot of the series and also a re-invention of the most memorable antagonist from the original series, Khan Noonien Singh, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  While you may be able to take issue with the perceived “white-washing” of the role originally portrayed by Ricardo Montalban, you can not doubt the ability that Cumberbatch showed in playing the best villain of the summer season.

As a self-admitted Trek fan for more than 20 years now, I am well-versed in Trek lore, and ‘Into Darkness’ definitely provided multiple little homages to previous stories and characters in a slightly different light that were quite enjoyable.  What also benefited the film for myself was the fan screening in IMAX I saw the day before official release.  This meant that the audience that was there was the correct audience to see this film with.

A pleasant mix of laughs, action and character development, ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is one of my favourite movies of 2013 as well.

Fast & Furious 6 – $238 million

ff6

While it may be the sixth film in the franchise, and as a result of the credit stinger now firmly lodged as the fifth entry timeline wise, ‘Fast & Furious 6’ continues to allow the franchise to exceed all expectations as it continues to rebrand the genre that it fits into.

A movie franchise that was always expected to have a limited shelf life, especially considering the large cast turnovers that impacted the first three entries has become the top franchise currently running at Universal Pictures and is some of the most fun you can have at the theatre during the summer months.

Ever since the franchise was brought back to the theatres with the majority of the cast from the first film in 2009 with ‘Fast and Furious’, the films have continued to increase not only their box office revenue but also their estimated tickets sold, showing real growth in North America, and some fantastic gains worldwide as the last two films have featured Brazil and European locales.

The inclusion of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to the franchise has allowed it to continue with fresh story lines, and new antagonists in each film has meant that there has not been a chance of repetitiveness, and ‘Fast & Furious 6’ definitely amped up the action which is the eye candy of this franchise now, and continues to pull in the crowds.

Universal is fast-tracking ‘Fast & Furious 7’ for a summer release next year, and the inclusion of Jason Statham, an actor bred to be in these films, will portray the newest antagonist and the film is set to tie ‘Tokyo Drift’ into the timeline fully.

World War Z – $201 million

wwzTo be perfectly honest with you, I am as surprised as you are that ‘World War Z’ occupies the third spot on this list, but that is just how much I enjoyed this fresh take on what is typically a genre of film that I avoid.

Many of you have probably heard about the bloated budget that soared north of $200 million, or the fact that they reshot the entire third act of the film, or saw how the marketing for the film didn’t really highlight the fact that it was a zombie flick.  The thing that ‘World War Z’ managed to do was make absolutely none of that matter in the end.

I have always personally thought that Brad Pitt is a tad overrated as an actor, but that definitely never crossed my mind during ‘World War Z’.  I feel that Pitt managed to not overshadow the film, despite the various hats he was wearing during the making of it, and actually brought a very even level to the main character in this movie.

I really enjoyed ‘World War Z’ and its fresh take on zombieism as a virus and not just flesh eating monsters, which brought a more sci-fi action vibe to the film, and that is clearly what many others thought as well.

 

In the end, there was definitely some entertaining fare at the theatre this summer, but these three films truly stand out for me.

For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer, and watch for my article about big budget flops later this week.  Cheers.

The World’s End

The World's End trailerA few years ago I stumbled upon a little British film by the name of ‘Shaun of the Dead’.  Being in North America, I was not familiar with a lot of British comedy at that time aside from the exploits of Monty Python.  At that point and time I was also not a huge fan of anything related to zombies, having only seen one of George A. Romero’s ‘Dead’ series of films on one singular occasion and not finding a reason to go back for more.

A couple of years later ‘Hot Fuzz’ was released involving many of the same people responsible for ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and I was fully hooked on the style of humour that the films were bringing forth.

From the minds of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and featuring the Pegg and Nick Frost as the main protagonists, those first two films formed an unrelated but linked sequence of films that have become known as the “Cornetto Trilogy” for their frequent references to the popular British ice cream.  This year, we see the completion of this “trilogy” with ‘The World’s End’.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are at their best once again and bring us one of the funniest films of the year so far.  It is clear that the pair have an inate ability to play off of each other and that Edgar Wright as director knows exactly how to utilize that fact in this thired foracy between the three on the big screen.

For me though, the true scene stealer in ‘The World’s End’ is Eddie Marsan in a supporting role as one of the group of five revellers.  Best known in North America for his roles in ‘Hancock’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’, Marsan steps up as the film wears on, quickly becoming my favourite character as things change more and more.

Despite the basic premise of the film, Wright, Pegg and Frost manage to still an interesting story about loss of friends, avoiding growing up and how change may not always be for the best.

Being a huge fan of work from all parties responsible for ‘The World’s End’ may colour my perspective a little bit on liking the film or not, but I am clearly not on my own on that account, as the film does carry a Certified Fresh score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.

With a limited number of screen prints available in North America, I did end up driving an hour away to see ‘The World’s End’, but it was completely worth it, and I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of the previous films to, if they get a chance, see this film in theatres.  If not, once it is on video take advantage of it.

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