My Favorite Blockbuster “Discoveries” Of 2017

Happy New Year everyone. I decided to celebrate by compiling a series of lists celebrating my favorite films and shows of 2017. Sounds like pretty standard stuff, right? Yup, totally. However, these lists will include not just new films from last year, but new-to-me ones that I enjoyed. This one celebrates the glory of big screen blockbusters, most of which I saw on the small screen because, you know, kids.

First off, I’d just like to reiterate how much I enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (2014) and San Andreas (2015) from director Gary Peyton.  I had a great time watching both of those movies earlier this year and highly recommend checking them out if you’re looking for big budget disaster fare. I also had a silly amount of fun watching Vin Diesel in 2015’s The Last Witch Hunter helmed by Breck Eisner. I think this will make a great weekend movie tune-in type of movie.

Continue reading My Favorite Blockbuster “Discoveries” Of 2017

We Want Action: John Carter, Edge Of Tomorrow & Jack Ryan

john_carter_ver2 I’ve been pretty tired and/or busy lately. Between work and the kids, the days are pretty full and I get awfully sleepy by the time evenings roll around. This is a bummer for me because I like to stay up and watch movies at night, but that’s been more of a piecemeal process lately. However, I’m still trying to take in new films like this trio of more recent big screen offerings.

Let’s start with Andrew Stanton’s 2012 film John Carter from Disney. This adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ space traveler didn’t do so hot at the box office and I think I know why. First off, the well seemed to be pretty solidly poisoned before the movie even came out. I have no idea why that is, but I was heavily in the movie coverage thing for Spinoff when this film was coming out and there seemed to be a lot of pre-press about how it was going to fail. I don’t know why and this might sound conspiratorial, but it seemed to me like someone didn’t want the movie to do well and then it didn’t.

But, that’s not all. This isn’t an easy film to understand and, for me, that’s not a knock. You’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on and do a little thinking yourself to keep up with this tale. It’s not all laid out at your feet, which I appreciate because too many movies spell everything out so there’s absolutely no place for confusion. I don’t mind working for my entertainment and actually think better of the projects that make me get into that headspace.

This isn’t just a thinking person’s sci-fi action film, though. It looks rad. The aliens are fantastic and the action sequences are on point. I’ve read maybe a quarter or a third of ERB’s A Princess of Mars and it seemed like Stanton and company took what’s a fairly dry, clinical narrative and gave it a bit more heart which I appreciated (I actually stopped reading because that old school style of simply listing everything weird that’s happening gets real old for me real fast). All in all, I give this one a big thumb’s up and hope more people discover it at home. It’s too bad we’re not going to get more of this world…at least for a while.

edge of tomorrowAs I move on to talking about Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, I’m realizing that all three of these movies were adaptations. This one is probably the least well known because it’s a manga (which I haven’t read, for what it’s worth). Basically, aliens are invading earth and humanity uses mech suits to fight them off. Tom Cruise plays a self-serving PR guy who gets unceremoniously recruited to the front lines where he kills one of the creatures which gives him a kind of Groundhog Day-like ability to keep living the same day over and over again. He gets in contact with Blunt’s super soldier character who had a similar experience and starts training like crazy, dying constantly along the way.

The story has a pretty high concept and some specific rules about how you get and lose these powers, but again, I don’t mind learning these fairly outlandish details as they’re presented. I was much more interested in Blunt’s character than all that anyway. She’s such a cool, shrewd character who, in a way, knows what’s going on, but in another is completely in the dark because she has no idea how many times Cruise has come back and tried any number of alternative methods. While he’s falling for her over and over again, she’s basically meeting him for the first time every day (and killing him a number of those times).

So, if you can buy into some bonkers rules and like Tom Cruise evolving from brash douche to war hero, then give Edge Of Tomorrow (or as it was retitled upon home video release KILL. DIE. REPEAT.) a shot.

jack ryan shadow recruitFinally, let’s talk a bit about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, based on the character seen in Tom Clancy’s novels. This particular story doesn’t come from one of those books, instead giving the CIA operative an updated origin story for the modern era starring Chris Pine. The idea here was to start a new franchise, but apparently the film didn’t do to well and those plans have been put on hold, but I thought this was a gripping thriller that kept my attention the whole time.

Ryan starts off as a finance wiz who joins the military after the events of 9-11. While serving, his helicopter gets blown up, but he survives to meet and fall for Keira Knightley in a hospital. While getting better Kevin Costner appears and offers him a job as a covert financial analyst for the CIA. He soon comes upon Kenneth Branagh, a Russian whose machinations include a massive terrorist attack that will topple the world economy.

As much as I love James Bond movies where our hero is super experienced in all things espionage, I kind of liked seeing someone like Ryan in his early days. He’s got the training and does okay when he gets attacked early on, but Pine also conveys how overwhelming some of these experiences are. It would have been cool to see his version of this character evolve over a series of films.

Of course, Jack Ryan has been in a series of movies like Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum Of All Fears. I don’t think I’ve seen any of those movies, so I wasn’t spending the whole run time comparing Pine to Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford or Ben Affleck which was cool, but I am interested in going back and check them out.

 

Trailer Time: Jack Ryan: Shadow One & Escape Plan

The timing is pretty crummy for this first Jack Ryan: Shadow One trailer to hit so close to author Tom Clancy’s recent passing, but it’s still nice to celebrate the man’s work which had been so influential. This first trailer from the Year One type film stars Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh who also stars as the bad guy. The film opens on December 25th.

Escape Plan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, now has TV spots that seem to be playing in fairly regular rotation. Better yet, they do a pretty solid job of explaining the film in greater detail than we’d seen previously. This one bows on October 18th.

 

Stretch Is ‘Cannonball Run Meets Bachelor Party’

young adult patrick wilson

Director Joe Carnahan likes to mix things up with his action projects. He did the kinetic, assassin-filled Smokin’ Aces before moving on to The A-Team and then the far more serious Liam Neeson thriller The Grey. Turns out his next film, Stretch, will harken back to the action comedies of the 80s according to star Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, The Conjuring) who also appeared in A-Team.

While talking to Collider about the horror flick Insidious: Part 2, Wilson went on a bit about the film which also stars Chris Pine, Jessica Alba, Ed Helms, Brooklyn Dekker, Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff:

It’s insane.  It’s all those movies – in a strange way [Insidious] nods to 80’s horror movies, I think in a lot of ways. Stretch is like that for action comedies. It’s completely balls to the wall. The worst night of the limo drivers career going from trying to get this money, all this cast of characters, and a dead guy over my shoulder that’s haunting me the whole time in a shark-skinned suit and a tiny moustache by the name of Ed Helms. I was like, ‘Joe is this Cannonball Run meets Bachelor Party?’  [Laughs] it’s like all those excessive 80’s R-rated action comedies. I mean, it’s insane. Brooklyn Dekker, Jessica Alba…we’d be doing ‘Tonight I’m getting chased down the street by these body guards. Oh and we happened to get a former pro-baller from the Green Bay Packers, he’s going to be chasing you.’ And you’re like, ‘Of course, why wouldn’t we?’ [Laughs] Who’s there today? Today’s David Hasselhoff.  Awesome, who’s he playing? David Hasselhoff. Fantastic! It was that type of movie and it was awesome. It was so much fun. The movie was so much fun. It was insane, insane. So funny, hopefully.

Wilson sounds pretty excited about the project which, combined with the Cannonball Run nod, makes us excited about the project. We’re all for getting more comedy in our action. Stretch will open on March 21, 2014.

 

Kurtzman & Orci Returning For Third Tour Of Star Trek Duty

star trek into darkness After looking around Hollywood for new takes on the Star Trek film universe created by J.J. Abrams back in 2009, Paramount decided to go back to Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to write the third installment, The Hollywood Reporter says. The deals haven’t been finalized just yet, but the genre writing duo who worked on the previous films are expected to join back in on the Trek fun. Meanwhile, Abrams might be busy helming Star Wars Episode VII, but the studio’s trying to get him on board as a producer of this film as well.

As THR points out, 2016 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s most famous franchise, so don’t be surprised if you see Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg and the crew back on the screen by then.