Monthly Archives: November 2011

This Week In Releases: A Smurfy Week (No Pun Intended)

If Neil Patrick Harris could survive death in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, then he can survive being in the live-action Smurfs movie. The story is quite basic as our mini-blue heroes are pursued into New York City thanks to Simpson’s Hank Azaria as Gargamel. While the word of mouth from older fans ranged from mixed to negative, kids and some optimistic families might welcome this smurf out of water tale a bit better as it makes it Blu Ray debut this week. Special features include some audio commentaries, 7 minutes of deleted scenes, some featurettes on the making of the film (most notable is the make-up work on Gargamel) and much more.

30 Minutes or Less is a comedy with a basic premise that failed to make an impact with a financially successful gross of $39 million (budgeted at $28 million). The comical tale of a pizza delivery boy who is caught in a string of terrorist heists still could have a chance to have another life on DVD. Also included is a picture in picture commentary, two featurettes and a massive pile of deleted scenes and outtakes.

Speaking of comedies, Our Idiot Brother also makes its debut with Paul Rudd starring as an idealist who intrudes and wreaks havoc with his three sisters. Met with a generally positive reception and a decent box-office gross of $24 million, this makes its way to home video with extras like an audio commentary from director John Peretz, a 14 minute documentary and some deleted scenes.

Flops Today, Home Video Hit Tommorrow

Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck was a movie that bombed greatly, but since has gotten a better reputation on home video

The year of 2011 has offered us a variety of hits, but has ceratinly presented its share of bombs. Who doesn’t forget the motion capture mess Mars Needs Moms? Or how Cowboys and Aliens was overhyped to a disapointing gross? In time, they can be regarded as the worst, but when it comes to home video, that can all change in a heartbeat.

Think back to the time of VHS and how notable movies like Home Alone and Star Wars were must haves. At the same time, you even had the lesser known like Flight of the Navigator or infamous flops like Ishtar gaining a cult audience through the power of rentals or home video. When it comes to being released in theaters, most viewers have to reliy on the film critic. A tool that makes the basic judgment of wiether its worth your buck. But thanks to the introduction of the home video market, veiwers don’t have to worry about deciding  what is best to spend $5 on.

In the past, its been a proven testament that films that do poorly at the box-office find a better live in the living room of the viewer. 1982’s The Thing, for example, wasn’t a massive hit becuase of the abandance of E.T. that was presence and how critics attacked it for its dark and upsetting tone. However, its debut on VHS later gave people to give it a second chance and since then has been considered one of the best horror movies to date.

And who couldn’t forget Explorers, the Joe Dante classic about a group of kids that go into outer space to make contact with aliens. Explorers was mishandled by studio executives at Paramount Pictures and thanks to minimal advertising and being released during the week of a Live Aid concert doomed any means of it being a sucess. However, after its unfortunate run, it has gotten a strong cult following. “It’s encouraging.” said Joe Dante, director of this movie and Gremlins. “I used to run into people all the time who said they loved it which is nice because I don’t know where they were on opening day.”

As the home video market evolved, new possibilities opened up when the DVD came out. Sure enough, there were even fans of films like Howard the Duck or Last Action Hero that are aware of their bad quality, but enjoy it for what it is. Even films that performed well at the box-office but got trashed by critics like Scrooged or The Cable Guy have given a second chance with viewers as well as being seen to a new generation to be liked or disliked. Today movies like The Rum Dairy or Green Lantern might be regarded as losers, but soon enough they will find an audience eventually.

This Week’s Coming Attractions: Animation Goes Light…sort of

There has been an arry of family films this weekend as this month has given us a great handful of preview for upcoming features. And none can be more worth than the animation department that seems promising so far. Many have geared up for Pixar’s upcoming Brave, which many feel will make up for this summer’s Cars 2. While Cars 2 wasn’t sucessful as the previous entries in the Pixar line up, many hope thier first venture into fairy tale terriorty about a Scottish princess that wants to follow her true ambition will hopefully redeem the treasured company.

And speaking of installments, Blue Sky Studios revealed another “short” that starred Ice Age fan’s favortie prehistoric squirel, Scrat. A saber-toothed rodent that goes on a Looney Tunes chase just for an acorn. This one however is a follow-up to a previous situation where the unfortuante guy was at the center of the Earth. These “shorts” are really trailers for the upcoming Ice Age sequel Contenintal Drift, which has been given a tenative release date of July 13, 2012.

Also on deck is another animated delight from Illumination Entertinament, the studio that delievered the hit film Despicable Me which invovled Steve Carrel voicing a villian that has to father three orhpans while pulling the biggest heist. This time, they are trying to do right with a beloved classic from Dr. Seuss, The Lorax. A classic tale about a mystical but somewhat strange creature that tries to save the forrest he lives in from being hacked to bits for a useless product. The environmentally and politically messaged book has had its share of fans, great popularity and now being made into a movie with Danny DeVito voicing the title character. Only time will tell if this “speaker for the trees” will be more successful as its distributor Universal had to deal with major beef from Seuss fans over their adaptions of The Grinch and The Cat in The Hat. Considering how it will open on the 100th birthday of the famed author himself, March 2, 2012, only time will tell. But to quote Suess himself,  “unless someone like you who cares a whole lot…”

And lastly, next month will host the most anticipated holiday flick, The Adventures of Tintin. Directed by Steven Speilberg and Produced by Peter Jackson, its based on the first three books of the popular series about a French journalist that embarks on many adventures. For a majority of the 1960s and 1970s,  Tintin has been adapated into live-action foriegn films, animated flicks and ever serials that are quite dated for its time. Fans over in Eurpoe rejoiced as they got to see the popular comic book icon first in October and since then has been hope to unamimous praise and a successful box-office gross that has recouped its $137 million budget. The only question that truly remains is that will American audiences be positive or think little of it this December? Only time will tell if this will be thet “Avatar” hit or another Robert Zemeckis downer as motion capture is being utilized for this production. Fans alike on the US are truly hoping it will be the former.

Warning! Breaking Dawn’s Climax May Create Seizures

It’s with no doubt that Twilight is back into the limelight again, but perhaps not in a better one. Sure the previous films have been getting negative reviews and grossing major box-office points, but this is more different. Aside from the normal criticism, Yahoo! News reported this previous weekend on that two moviegoers experienced having a seizure, and not during Edward’s shirtless moments.

The film is about Bella and his vampire-lover as they go through the trials of marriage and childbirth. Indeed the climatic and somewhat gory scene where Bella gives birth to a child has reported to have caused Roseville, California, resident Brandon Gephart  to convulse.

“He was convulsing, snorting, trying to breathe,” Gephart’s girlfriend Kelly Bauman told CBS Sacramento. “He scared me big time.” 

If that wasn’t enough, in Salt Lake City, another viewer recounts that her husband “started mumbling and he was blinking on and off with his eyes at that point. I was kneeling in front of him slapping his face.” Strangely enough, when they returned to retrieve his cellphone, they heard another moviegoer was experiencing the same thing.

While nowhere near the amount that 127 Hours had (where three faintings and a seizure during its first showing at the Toronto International Film Festival occurred),medical experts feel that the birth scene, which has red, white and black images flashing across the screen, could have triggered episodes of photosensitive epilepsy. According to Discovery, they suggest the recommended way to avoid PSE seizures is to cover your eyes for a few seconds until the flashing stops. Perhaps picking a more light-hearted choice film choice like Hugo or The Muppets would have been a better option.

To view a news report on this case, click the link below:

In Theaters: “The Muppets” light the lights on such a comeback

The main character of “The Muppets” played by Jason Segal has a brother named Walter. But the strangest thing about Walter is how he is a brother and yet a puppet. The only thing he can connect with is how big of a Muppet fan is he like his brother Gary. However, Walter is different from most Muppet fans, because he is in a Muppet movie. One that fans and viewers have been waiting for since the disastrous release of 1999’s Muppets from Space that tarnished by a group of fans for its “making them hip” and a low box-office gross of $16.6 million that questioned their return to the big screen.

Well, that time is now as the Muppet Studio is in big trouble. A tycoon (Chris Cooper) plans to get the deed to the place and drill for oil, as its proven by geometric readings. With plans to tear down the beloved place are in play, there is only one thing Walter and Gary can do; get back the Muppet gang, perform a telethon and raise enough money to get back the studio. And in a nutshell, that is just scraping the surface on one of this weekend’s family film debuts. And surprisingly enough, its one that everyone can enjoy. Even one who has never seen the any of the Muppets can sit back and enjoy what this movie has to offer.

One by one, its interesting to see what our favorite puppet bunch has been up to this time as we get treated to Fozzie trying to find success in a night club, Animal going through anger management with Jack Black, Gozo being financially successful in the plumbing industry, everyone’s favorite and pampered Miss Piggy being a popular fashion designer and many more. In fact, the movie spends little time setting these guys up that we are left to guess this movie thinks we know these characters well enough to do without introductions. Some Muppet fans maybe ok with this, but for those who are new and never seen a Muppet movie, I feel its best you see a few episodes of the show instead.

The Muppets as a whole is really a big screen reboot of the classic show that aired on CBS. And while that is not a bad idea, the film is packed with in-jokes and homages to the franchise as a whole. Again some of that might go over the head’s of newcomers and non-fans, but there are plenty of breaking the fourth wall jokes that will keep them entertained as well as its array of guest stars that either add some notable moments like Zach Galifianakis stealing the last act as Hobo Joe and then there are those who are more for showing up like Whoopi Goldberg or Judd Hirsch in the background. The one downfall most the Muppet films seem to have is balancing the scale between the celebrity appearances and the Muppets themselves. One example is Great Muppet Caper where our time was felt more focused on the human cast while the Muppets fought to dominate over their presence and performance. While there is an equal balance between that, most of the appearances feel pointless, but not enough as some bring a good moment or joke to the platter.

And speaking of balance, the one problem I had with The Muppets was the balance between Walter joining the Muppets and Gary’s plot as he tries to have a relaxing time with his girlfriend (Amy Adams.) While Amy delivers a lot of the humorous moments, at times it feels like there are two movies in one here as Gary’s muppet brother tries to help and be a part of the zany bunch and Gary doesn’t know if he should be with the girl of his dreams or help his puppet of a brother. And to add that on, we got the Muppet bunch trying to raise $10 million in the final act by putting on a telethon of what they do best; make people laugh and entertain them with their witty vaudeville style acts, which themselves are a great throwback to the old days of crazy sketches and funny performances of popular songs.

Speaking of songs, The Muppets is loaded with seven numbers that are played throughout the film. Non-musical lovers, be warned. However, the songs themselves aren’t too bad and are evenly spread out so they don’t feel too cluttered between each other. Some of them even get to poke fun at themselves or the way the plot is going. At times, the lyrics can be witty and catchy like the opening number “Life’s a Happy Song” and some can warm your heart like “Pictures in My Head” as Kermit remembers the old days and wonders if that is possible. However, a hip-hop number from Chris Cooper can feel right out of left field and serve slightly no purpose till the punchline makes it worth kind of keeping in. I’ve been noted that some songs were longer and their original version is present on the soundtrack, so obviously some force of editing was at play here.

Despite that, The Muppets is none the less a perfect film that is worth seeing the movies for. It has plenty of charm, whim, and humor to keep anyone entertained. Even if you are unfamiliar with the original characters or their previous work, you will still have your ticket price worth either way. Few films come around with that nostalgic feel that makes you know all is right in the world and this is one of them. If you are going to take a trip to the cinema some time soon, I’m guaranteed you won’t be disappointed once you decide on this hilarious and heart warming feature.

Box-Office Buzz: “Twilight” Vs. “Muppets”

Breaking Dawn Part IThanksgiving weekend was quite the battle for movie goers as three highly anticipated flicks went against last week’s success The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I. While none were able to take down the latest installment in the vampire series from its number one spot, they still managed to find an audience either way. According to Box-Office Mojo, Breaking Dawn took in $62.3 million over the five-day weekend adding on to its previous gross of $138 million. Despite its massive take in, the movie has been hit with negative criticism and reports of seizures from the final act. However it has been getting plenty of positive remarks from the fans and viewers that either respect the source material or appreciate how bad yet entertaining it is.

The MuppetsOn a positive note, a long time film idea has finally made its way to the cinemas as filmgoers finally got the chance to see the first theatrical Muppet movie in 12 years. Disney’s The Muppets premiered to positive reviews and a massive take in of $42 million, just barley making back its $45 million production budget and debuting strong in the second spot. According to Entertainment Weekly, most of the audience consisted of those slightly older than those who would got a kid’s movie as 35 percent were under the age of 18. However, compared to their last movie’s take-in (1999’s Muppets from Space took in only $16.6 million in total), this proves the gang is back and probably for good.

And back to some bad news, Happy Feet Two dipped farther than usual as the $135 million budgeted sequel went from second place to third thanks to a 37 percent drop (grossed $13.4 million last week and $18.4 million this five-day weekend.) Even though it has grossed nearly $50 million, it probably won’t be close to its predecessor’s $198 million take in. Aside from a mixed to positive reception, maybe dancing penguins feel like a thing of the past.

HugoAnd lastly, Martin Scorsese’s venture to 3D, Hugo, debuted in at the fifth spot with $15.4 million over the five-day course. Hugo is budgeted at $170 million and was released to limited theaters of only 1,277 theaters. However despite the low gross, some positive word of mouth has spread and it has received praise from critics, but Hugo is going to pull more weight around  in order to be considered a success. Paramount does plan to release it in more theaters in the next weekend, with the exception of a wide release on December 9th. But it should be also noted that 75 percent of the film’s gross came from 3D screens. Only time will tell if this current underdog will reach the top.

Blu-Ray of the Week: Super 8 And Other Gift Ideas

Super 8With Black Friday on the way, many are looking for that special gift for that certain someone. For moviegoers, if its one film to have under your tree, I say don’t miss out on J.J. Abram’s summer hit, Super 8. A story about a group of kids that try to make a near zero-budget zombie movie has production problems as a train crashes near filming and a monster on board is unleashed into the two they live in. While there is big emphasis on the creature’s havoc, most of the story is focused of the kids and how they try to make their film. What makes Super 8 unique is how it has that sci-fi/fantasy tint that is present in most 1980 films that we normally don’t see in today’s movies. If you have a fan of Spielberg in your household, this might be the right gift for them. Bonus features include an audio commentary by Director J.J. Abrams, Producer Bryan Burk, and Cinematographer Larry Fong, an array of documentaries on the making of the film, 14 deleted scenes, and the opportunity to own a digital copy for your computer or iPod.

Hook Blu RaySpeaking of Spielberg, at the start of November, Hook made its Blu Ray debut. The story of Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan trying to save his kids from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) wasn’t well-received by critics but over the years has given a better appreciation and fan base. While the treatment given is not along the lines of “Special Edition,” fans and new viewers will appreciate the new transfer given as it looks rich and spectacular in visuals with heightened colors in certain scenes and void of any dust or debris. Attached on is a DVD copy which is really a duplicate of Columbia’s Superbit DVD. Some viewers maybe bummed out about how there are no inclusions of special features, but the digital remastering is an improvement alone to recommend.

Scrooged Blu RayAnd for the Christmas lover, another Blu Ray debut that one must have is Scrooged. A black comedy about the head of a network (Bill Murray) that is in a grinchy mood about the holiday season while arranging a live televised presentation of A Christmas Carrol with a handful of stars. As one might guess, he gets the Christmas Carrol treatment himself as he is treated to different variations of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future who try to get him to change his ways. While certainly underrated, Scrooged may not be for everybody as some moments do have a dark or frightening quality such as the presence of the Future ghost or the appearance of Jacob Marley as the rotting corpse of a well-known executive. However, it does have enough laughs and holiday cheer that makes it worth your while. Again, this another flick that has little “special edition” treatment from the studio, but the Blu Ray transfer which looks impressive compared to the inferior 2001 DVD should be enough to have in your collection. Previous there was news a while back for a reissue (playfully dubbed “Yule Love It Edition”) but was cancelled a few weeks before release date. Only time will tell until a DVD release like that will be unleashed to the public.

MetropolisAnd finally being released at last to Blu Ray and DVD is Giorgio Moroder’s infamous cut of 1927’s Metropolis. This version was made in the mid-1980s and was crafted from the most available footage at the time while being scored to a synthesizer soundtrack and pop music. The reason this version had never seen a DVD release was due to the music licensing issues and the previous restorations that has brough it back to its near original cut. The story about a dystopia that is occupied by machine laboring workers and divided by social class status was compelling back in the 1920s. Giorgio’s version was obviously made for the younger generation at the time and while the added techno score does give it a dated feel, it’s still a curious watch. Aside from a near pristine transfer, bonus features include a documentary made at the time of its restoration and scoring which makes this worth a curious look into.