Friday, April 15, 2011

K Is for ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’

Yes, Jack Black is back as Po, the Dragon Warrior in a new Kung Fu Panda flick. This one is coming in 3-D on May 26th.
Po, who has achieved his dream of becoming a kung fu master, lives with his friends, the Furious Five and their master in the Valley of Peace. A new nemesis, the emperor albino peacock Lord Shen with a secret weapon is plotting to rid the world of kung fu and it is up to Po to stop him. In order tofind the strength to defeat him, Po will have to search his past to find out more about his mysterious origins.
The film was set to be released as “Kung Fu 2: Pandamonium” and then as “Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom” but the actual release name will just be “Kung Fu Panda 2.” All the original cast is returning along with Black. New cast members include the voice talents of Victor Garber, Michelle Yeoh, Gary Oldman, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Danny McBride.
Check out the trailer here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

J Is for ‘Jumping the Broom’

“Jumping the Broom” is a comedy featuring some of the funniest people around: Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Laz Alonso, Paula Patton, Tasha Smith, Pooch Hall and Meagan Good.
Jumping the broom is both an English tradition practices by Gypsies in Wales and African American communities. The origin of the custom is unknown and its symbolism varies widely. In some cases couples jump over the broom together and the act signifies marriage. In other cases, which ever person jumped higher over the broom was designated the decision maker in the union. In all cases the custom signified the joining of two people in marriage or where circumstance prevented, as close to one as they could get.
In “Jumping the Broom,” the families of two divergent socioeconomic backgrounds come together on Martha’s Vineyard for a wedding and mayhem reigns supreme as you can see in this trailer. The movie opens May 6, 2011.

“I” Is for ‘Immortals’

Mickey Rourke, photo by nicogenin on Wikimeda Commons

Mickey Rourke has been busy in recent history, churning out five films in the last two years. In November, he will be seen as King Hyperion, the Titan Hyperion disguised as the king of Crete. This role finds him playing a villain moving his army across ancient Greece in search of the legendary Bow of Epirus. Should they secure the bow, Hyperion will be able to defeat the Gods of Olympus and rule the world.

Henry Cavill, most recently from the Showtime series, ‘The Tudors,’ and soon to be seen as the new man of Steel in the upcoming 2012 release of “Superman,” plays Theseus, founder and King of Athens. He is the hero in this film bringing Greek mythology to the 3D screen.

For fans of fantasy, this rendition of the battle against the titans should enthrall. Check out the trailer to see what you think.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

“H” Is for “The Hangover 2”

Photo by David Shankbone on Wikimedia Commons
If you saw the first “The Hangover,” then the sequel needs little explanation. If you missed it, you’ll want to rent or download it as soon as you can because it was pretty damned funny.
Four friends, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha), went to Las Vegas for Doug’s bachelor party. Three groomsmen awoke the next morning to a demolished hotel room and a missing bride groom. With 48 hours to find Doug and get him home in time for the nuptials, the friends have to unravel the mysteries of the bachelor party that took place the previous night.
Now it’s Stu’s turn to get married. Wary of a repeat scenario, he wisely arranges a sedate and classic brunch for his bachelor party, this time in Bangkok. The groom isn’t missing but his future bride’s little brother is. They boys brought him along and when they wake up the next morning, they can’t believe it’s all happening again.
Liam Neeson has a role as someone known as ‘Tattoo Man.’ That moniker alone makes me curious to see this version and if you watch the trailer, you’ll have a good idea how he fits in.

“F” Is for ‘Fright Night’ (2011)

“Fright Night” is coming to theaters this summer, August 19th to be precise starring Anton Yelchin as suburbanite teenager Charley Brewster and Colin Farrell as the vampire who moves in next door.
This is the third time a movie with this title has hit the silver screen though the first was 1947 Three Stooges film bearing no resemblance to the latter two films.
The original “Fright Night” was released in 1985 and starred William Ragsdale as the teenager and Chris Sarandon as the vampire. It was billed as a horror film but was laced with comedy and was moderate hit.
With some modifications, the new plotline closely follows the original. Still billed as a horror film filled with scares and plenty of blood, it also promises a few laughs. In this version, no one believes Charley either when he tells them a vampire lives in the neighborhood. Instead of teaming up with a washed-up actor who has just been fired from his job as the host of a late-night horror show (originally played by Roddy McDowell), Charlie must team with a Vegas stage-show magician played by David Tennant. The new story still Charley’s mom (Toni Collette) falling under the vampire’s spell and a pretty high school honey for Charley to protect.
Farrell may be one of Ireland’s national treasures and has quite a filmography to boot. With more than 40 films to his credit, he first caught my eye in the Tom Cruise flick “Minority Report.” He was good in “The Recruit” with Al Pacino but I loved his performance in “The Phone booth.” He started as a busy, self-centered public relations man whom you are loathe to care about until he happens to answer a phone in a public phone booth ona busy New York City corner. There his life unfurls and he transforms into a terrified and desperate person you find yourself rooting for.
Yelchin is young and has only a few films under his belt but what films they are. He started as the little girl’s school friend in “Along Came a Spider”. You might remember him from “Star Trek” as the young Checkov. I next noticed him in “Terminator Salvation” as Kyle Reese.
If you like a good horror film with a little humor, this might be the ticket this summer.

"G" Is for Gerard Butler

Gerard Butler is one of today’s hottest and most talented actors, not to mention he’s pretty easy on the eyes. I thought I first noticed him, like everyone else in “300,” the film about Sparta’s stand against insurmountable numbers. However, once I realized who he was, I was surprised to learn I had also liked him in “Phantom of the Opera.” True, the mask hid most of his face and the character of the phantom is so different from most of the tough-guys roles he plays that I probably would have never connected him to that film.

Butler has starred in several films I have enjoyed. I think my favorite has to be “The Ugly Truth” in which he is the biggest male chauvinist on the planet. The chemistry he creates with Katherine Heigl is amazing and despite his apparent disregard for women, he wins you over in the end.

I also appreciated the tenderer ‘Gerry’ he plays in “P.S. I Love You” opposite a devastated Hilary Swank.

He has great fun chasing down Jennifer Aniston in “The Bounty Hunter.”

If you haven’t watched a Butler film in a while, you can check out his filmography here.

“E” Is for ‘Everybody Loves Whales’

Photo by Caroline Bonarde Ucci at Wikimedia Commons
In my quest to find an “E” title, I had to search in the upcoming projects department to find something suitable. “Everybody Loves Whales” is currently slated for 2012 but just eyeballing the cast got my radar on alert.
Production company Anonymous Content is doing the picture and has already signed on Kristen Bell, Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Dermot Mulroney and Ted Danson.
The plot line follows the efforts of a nonprofit aid worker and a government worker as they join forces to free three California gray whales that have become trapped under the ice of the Arctic circle. The two, naturally become romantically involved.
The movie is currently being listed as a romance/drama but I could find no trailers to share with you at this time. I’ll keep my eye on it as this has potential.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

“D” Is for Drama

What is drama? According to (a favorite reference site of mine),it is “ a composition in prose or verse presenting in dialogue or pantomime a story involving conflict or contrast of character, especially one intended to be acted on the stage; a play.” Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a play, movie, or television production with a serious tone or subject.”
Those are the textbook definitions but want makes a good drama? I’m sure the answer varies from person to person. For me, a good drama is one in which I can connect with at least one of the characters on an emotional level. I have seen some outstanding performances such as Tommy Lee Jones in “Cobb” or Jim Carrey in “Man on the Moon” but in both cases, because I could not identify with the characters on the screen, I found it hard to “like” these movies.
Dramas, for me, are often heart-rending affairs. Think along the lines of “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Ordinary People” or “The Bridges of Madison County.”  Others that have moved me without moving me to tears would be “Elizabeth” with Cate Blanchett“,”Pride and Prejudice” with Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen and “The Perfect Storm.”
In all of these cases, I could relate to the emotions and experiences of one or more characters. Not to say that I have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be the Queen of England or captaining a fishing boat. I could relate to the feeling of being alone in an important decision-making situation, feeling unloved or struggling to overcome some catastrophic event in my life.
Movies that make me care about the characters and forget my own troubles for a while are in my book, the best the genre of drama has to offer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

“C” is for ‘The Conspirator’

In keeping with the A-to-Z Challenge, today’s movie entry is about the upcoming Robert Redford-directed flick “The Conspirator.” As a director, Redford has had some success. His first attempt was the critically-acclaimed “Ordinary People” from 198o which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Not bad for a first try. Other directorial efforts that I have personally enjoyed include “A River Runs through It,” “Quiz Show” and “The Horse Whisperer.” With Redford at the helm, I’m already highly interested.

The next thing that appeals to me is the fact that it’s a historical period piece. I love history, particularly American history. This film follows events that took place after the assassination of President Lincoln. Following the assassination, the powers that be believed John Wilkes Booth did not act alone and began rounding up conspirators, including Mary Surratt (Robin Wright). Mary ran a boarding house and was accused of allowing the conspirators which included her son to meet there.

Enter Civil War hero Frederick Aiken, played by James McAvoy whom I loved in another period piece, “Becoming Jane,” where played the love interest of Jane Austen. Aiken wants a career in politics and starts out by becoming a lawyer. He is approached by attorney general Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) to defend Mary. Aiken struggles with his conscience as the trial proceeds and begs Mary to disclose the location of her son John before she suffers in the gallows in his place.

Based on the trailer, this film promises intrigue and drama wrapped in the historical data that makes the story remarkable.  The cast and director are more than able of pulling this off and I am looking forward to this one with great anticipation. It opens in theaters April 15th with a PG-13 rating for some violence.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

“B” Is for ‘The Beaver’

Mel Gibson. The name alone brings thoughts of controversy and megalomaniacal egocentric meltdowns. And I’m a Mel Gibson fan. Let me clarify that. I am a fan of the man’s work, not the man whose personal life imploded in the media not so long ago.
“The Beaver” is the latest effort Mel has put out. The premise involves a depressed man with a puppet of a beaver. With the movie’s title and that snippet of information, I was expecting a comedy. This is one is being billed as a drama and further into I delve, the more interesting it begins to sound.
Walter Black was once a successful toy company CEO and a happily married, family man. Depression took over and now Walter can’t seem to do anything right. That is until the puppet enters the picture.
Work holds no appeal; he can’t connect with his wife, played by Jodie Foster, who also directs, or his kids. Then one evening he finds the puppet and it becomes the voice he has lost. It allows him to say the things he needs to with the psychological buffer the beaver provides. Through this coping device, Walter begins to reshape his life and his relationships.
It sounds a bit contrived but when you watch the trailer, you’ll see that it really seems to work. I also saw a spark of the Mel Gibson I came to love in films like “Man without a Face,” ”Conspiracy Theory” and “Forever Young.”
Gibson’s only made four films since 2006 and 2 of them haven’t released yet. This outing reunites Gibson with Foster who worked on “Maverick” together in 1994. It looks as if the long wait may have been worth it.
The film is scheduled to open May 6, 2011. I definitely plan to see it, do you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

“A” Is for Angelina Jolie as “Cleopatra”

I am engaging in a writing challenge that kicks off today known as the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, which you can sign up for here. So today’s blog post is about Angelina Jolie.
People magazine announced on its website March 30th that the one and only Angelina Jolie has been cast to portray Cleopatra in a film set to release in 2013. There is much speculation about who will play Marc Antony, the Roman general whose love affair with her was downfall of each of them. Personally I would like to see Russell Crowe in the role. He has the maturity, the temperament and looks pretty good in the garb of the day (think along the lines of “Gladiator”).

This film version claims to focus more on her shrewd business and political sense than her prowess at seducing men. Whether the role calls for the seductress or the powerful-woman-in-charge, Jolie can handle the demands of the character. No doubt the costuming and make up will make the most of her world renowned beauty but she is more than capable of carrying off the tough-as-nails, leader of the ancient world bit.

I have always loved the Elizabeth Taylor version of the film and now that she’s gone, it seems more appropriate to remake one of her signature roles. Taylor used her looks to convince the world a queen could get whatever she wanted. I think Jolie’s adaptation will show us there more to the woman. Liz’s version will always hold a place in my heart but I’m anxious to see what Angelina does with the part.

Angelina has quite a filmography behind her. With nearly 40 films to her credit, it would be difficult to narrow it down to a list of 5 but I gave it a valiant effort. You can see my picks here. I’m sure the list will change and grow as her career unfolds.