Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

hellblazerThis has been a big month for comic-based TV. In addition to the debut of ABC’s S.H.I.E.L.D. and news of a Gotham series at Fox, NBC is working on a Constantine show based on Vertigo and DC’s Hellblazer comics. John Constantine’s one of the most interesting and dark characters in comics, but how will that translate to TV? [via Deadline]hunger-games-catching-fire-jennifer-lawrence

If you’re interested in checking out a ton of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire pics, you’re in luck. [via Collider]

Sideshow‘s Battle Damaged Terminator 2 statue is all kinds of awesome. Half-destroyed Arnold Schwarzenegger has never looked so good! The Sideshow exclusive version even comes with a mini Thumbs Up statue sticking out of the lava!bryce dallas howard terminator salvation

Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator Salvation) is in talks to star in the fourth Jurassic Park film, now called Jurassic World. Production was postponed so director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow could polish it up with Derek Connolly. The movie’s scheduled for a June 12, 2015 release, so they better get those contracts signed quick. [via Variety]

TNT has an untitled show in the works that’s described as a mix of Bourne Identity and National Treasure. Yes, more of that! [via Deadline]Christoph Waltz inglourious basterds

WB is working on a new Tarzan movie directed by David Yates (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows) starring Alexander Skarsgard as the title character. He’ll be facing off against Inglourious Basterds bad guy Christoph Waltz as the villain. Margot Robbie (Focus) and Emma Stone have been mentioned to play Jane, but nothing’s finalized yet. [via Varietymichael b jordan chronicle

Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan is being looked at to star in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day 2. No offers have been made or deals signed, but that’s the word right now. [via TheWrap]the wolverine

Finally, feast your eyes on this seriously accurate Hugh Jackman action figure based on his appearance in The Wolverine. [via Hot Toys]

To My Mind, Amazing Spider-Man Is Superior

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Like a lot of people, I was dubious when I head about plans to reboot the Spider-Man film franchise so quickly after the previous installment (there’s only 5 years between Spider-Man 3 and Amazing). I’m also about the only person on Earth who doesn’t like Spider-Man 2 (too overwrought) and one of the many people who actively disliked Spider-Man 3, so more Spidey on the big screen wasn’t something I was interested in whatsoever. So, why’d I wind up watching it last night? Pretty simple: we’ve got a Starz’ family movie channel replacing the absent CBS on our cable and it happened to be on. With a general feeling of, “Eh, why not?” and our daughter loving Spider-Man, my wife and I figured we’d give it a shot.

And, you know what? I really enjoyed this movie. I’ll say right now that it’s been years since I watched Spider-Man and my memories of that film have absolutely been tarnished by the sequels, but Amazing compared favorably to that other film as far as I’m concerned. I liked the “figuring out his powers” scene a lot for instance and not just because it included skateboarding.

While still doing the origin thing (which I actually missed as we turned the movie on about 10 or 15 minutes late) the movie focused more on Peter Parker as a high school kid. Before Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) inevitably passes away, but after Peter discovers his powers, he embraces his new abilities as well as the scientific projects he gets to work on with the one-armed Dr. Connors. They’re working on a limb regeneration experiment that Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) winds up using on himself, which turns him into the Lizard, a process that drove him so crazy that he utilized a device to try and spread the lizard-izing chemicals all over NYC. Meanwhile, Peter’s flirting with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and meeting her dad (Denis Leary) who doesn’t like the vigilante running around his city.

First and foremost, I adored Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. I’d only ever saw him in The Social Network and wasn’t sure how he’d play as one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, but I thought he killed it. He nailed the darkness that comes from the loss of a loved one along with the general high school angst. This isn’t just the story of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man, but the story of a boy dealing with the loss of his father figure while also working through actual parental issues and you feel that throughout the film. Then, a few minutes later, he’s doing the whole jokey thing which is clearly his way of embracing his new life. Some people complained that there wasn’t enough joking around, but that made sense with this story which gets pretty intense pretty quickly.

I also appreciated what they didn’t do in this movie. There’s no “With great power comes great responsibility” or wrestling match or Mary Jane or J. Jonah Jameson or Norman Osborn. Those elements are there in various forms, but after seeing those things done already, it was nice to see them skipped over this time around. My biggest concern going into Amazing was that it would be far too much of a rehash. Sure, director Marc Webb ((500) Days Of Summer) makes nods to the comic book and movie origins but also puts a spin on them that makes sense within the context of this film.

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I should also note that I’ve never read Spider-Man comics aside from an Ultimate Spider-Man binge-read I did years ago that got me up to around the #100 mark (I didn’t dig it). So, while watching this version of the story I wasn’t concerned with “Hey, that’s not like the comic” or constantly comparing it to the hundreds of comics I’ve read (like I did with Dark Knight Rises and Man Of Steel). Thanks to that disconnect I was able to just sit back and enjoy the film.

Oh, the special effects are rad too. I know they did as much practically as they could, but even the super CGI-y scenes made sense and looked pretty good on my TV. I’d still like to watch the movie on Blu-ray at some point to really see how good or bad it looks.

I dug the movie and so did my kid actually. It’s funny the little things here and there that she picks up on. There’s a part where Peter’s supposed to pick up eggs but gets sidetracked. My wife and I both joked that he forgot the eggs when he got back to the house and our daughter kept asking about the eggs throughout the movie. Unfortunately, she fell asleep before that was all wrapped up at the end of the movie, yet another reason to watch the movie again!

We Want Action: Django Unchained (2012) & Gangster Squad (2013)

django unchained I’m a big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s films. I certainly don’t like all of his movies equally — Jackie Brown and Death Proof don’t really do it for me — but I rank the rest of them in the Awesome category. Reservoir Dogs was my first and still one of my all time favorite films, Pulp Fiction is a classic, Kill Bill is both an amazing homage and also a brilliant bit of bloody goodness and Inglourious Basterds is so wonderful I can still write the title correctly. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t reviewed any of his other movies here on the blog, but I think part of that stems from the idea that a lot of ink has already been spilled on Tarantino’s career and I’ve found that some things are just so close to my heart that I don’t want to write about them. Sometimes you just want to keep something for your self.

I thought about skipping a review for Django Unchained, Tarantino’s first western, but after thinking about it for awhile, I decided to dive in a bit. If you haven’t seen the movie, do it. It bummed me out that I had to wait as long as I did to see this movie, but that’s what happens when you have a kid and no babysitter. The story revolves around bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) buying slave Django (Jamie Foxx) in an effort to track down a particular bounty. Along the way, Schultz trains Django to become a bounty hunter and the pair become friends to the point where Django tells King that he wants to track down his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who was sold to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) a plantation owner who gets his kicks from watching slaves beat each other to death.

Considering the setting and the director, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting with this movie and it’s truly not for the faint of heart. Even I was impressed with how much blood was spilled in this film, mostly through old school gunfights and a few fights. And, as you’ve probably heard, the language is very of-the-time which translates into “incredibly racist.”

But the real heart of the story revolves around a man taking advantage of every opportunity to find the love of his life. He’ll act like a slave trader himself, he’ll kill people, he’ll play nice with the man who enslaved his wife. But, when the chips are down and it’s time to pull through, Django does everything he can to achieve his goal. Foxx does a terrific job in his role as does, well, everyone else in the whole movie. As you can expect there’s some touchy areas here, but everyone really commits to their parts and Tarantino directed them deftly. All around, Tarantino once again shows how good he can be at taking a genre he loves, mixing in his own sensibilities and even his own take on history and creating something that’s both emotionally satisfying and also fun to watch.

gangster squad poster Gangster Squad also takes viewers to a time in our country’s past and features a heckuva hero. This time we’re in 1949 LA which has been overrun with gangsters like Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). But there’s still a few good cops around like Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) who’s a heard headed justice seeker unafraid to mix it up with the bad guys in an effort to keep his city safe. The police chief (Nick Nolte) realizes this and offers him a chance to go after Cohen and company, but only off the books. O’Mara puts a team together that includes guys played by Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Giovonni Ribisi, Michael Pena and Robert Patrick who do just that.

The film, directed Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), is actually based on real life events from the time, but, of course, punched up for more Hollywood goodness. Emma Stone plays both sides of the fence as one of Cohen’s regular lady friends and faling for Gosling’s character (who can blame her). The story bobs and weaves around, actually taking on a lot of the same story beats seen in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (a longtime favorite of mine, gotta check out that Blu-ray).

As I noted in this week’s episode of the Pop Poppa Nap Cast, posted over on my dad blog Pop Poppa, I really appreciated the bravery these men exemplified in their attempts to clean up the city. O’Mara’s the kind of classic hero we don’t see much of anymore. He does the right thing because it’s right and good and the only gain he gets out of it is the ability to live in a better world…assuming he doesn’t get killed along the way. All the other guys on the squad have similar motivations, wanting to make the world a better place for their kids, the people in their neighborhood and the like. They’re real, old school heroes who also happen to look and talk slick, shoot well and fight even better. Once again that mix of heart and action really gets me. It also helps that this movie is freaking gorgeous and looks amazing on Blu-ray, as did Django though I didn’t mention above.

Four Movies I Dug

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It may come as a bit of surprise, but my movie intake has almost trickled to a crawl lately. The movies in this post have been vied over a period of almost months. I’ve been a lot more tired lately and haven’t been staying up as late, but I’m still watching for you, my faithful readers (also because I’m half-addicted to movies, I think). So, here we go:

 

NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST (2008)

I didn’t LOVE Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but I liked it about as much as I thought I would. I’m a sucker for told-in-one-night movies like Can’t Hardly Wait and the like. Plus, this one stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings who is crush-worthy in my book (don’t tell Em). The basic story isn’t all that mindblowing, it’s your basic “two people who are dating other people meet each other, fall for each other, have a few difficulties, but SPOILER get together in the end” flick, but what’s fun for me is in the details. Aside from the solid performances and guest spots by the likes of Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Jay Baruchel, I like the New York club setting and the smaller details like Nora’s dad SPOILER owning Electric Ladyland studios. I have no idea if the club/band life the movie puts forward is accurate, but I think the idea of following a mystery band around town to be really cool, though familiar (I can’t quite put my finger on why/where from). I also had music geeksplosions when they went to Electric Ladyland. And, I gotta say, I was surprised that this movie, which is based on a book that I haven’t, but now want to, read not only had a sex scene but also a number of gay characters (oh, and the creepiest stripperish dance scene involving an actual girl that I can remember). I guess teen movies have changed a bit and I think it’s pretty cool.

THE HOUSE BUNNY (2008)

I can’t exactly say The House Bunny surprised me, because, well, I kind of thought I would like it. You’ve got Anna Faris starring in a Fred Wolf (SNL, DIRTY WORK!!!) directed movie that mixes Playboy and sororities on a college campus in which the main point of the flick is to turn nerdy sorority girls (including Kat Dennings, Rumor Willis and Emma Stone) into hot chicks. I’d say that’s a pretty killer combination. And, as far as I’m concerned, it lived up to my expectations. Oh, plus it had Colin Hanks who I haven’t seen in anything but Orange County, but I liked that flick and he’s good in this too. Really, if the above description doesn’t tickle your fancy, you won’t dig this movie. If it does, dive on in and have a good time. I wouldn’t rank it in my top five comedies or anything, but it’s still worth a watch.

ALIEN RAIDERS (2008)

Alien Raiders is one of those movies that makes its way into the Wizard building and somehow found it’s way to my hands, probably because everyone knows I’m the horror guy in the offices. Anyway, I knew nothing about this movie and had absolutely no expectations (in fact, I can’t even remember why I watched this instead of something else like, say, Triloquist, which is in my “to be watched” pile). So, I was pleasantly surprised by this mix of Thing and The Mist (basically, “who’s the alien in a grocery store”). I was surprised with how in to this movie I got (I even put a comic down to watch it). For a much better review than I could give, check out my favorite blog on the web Horror Movie a Day. Also check out the comment section for what will be a now reduntant comment, plus a comment from the screenwriter!

DISTRICT B-13 (2004)

Compared to the rest of these flicks, B-13 here is an oldie, but it’s still a goody. Man, I had a great time watching B-13. It’s directed by the guy who just did Taken which I hear is pretty rad and want to check out. Anyway, the story is set in the near future, something about a ghetto in France where undesirables live. The intricacies of the plot escape me at the moment, but there’s an undercover cop and a crook working together to both get a bomb back and save one of the guys’ sister. The story itself isn’t the cool part though, I was a fan of the action scenes, many of which involved my personal favorite YouTube search of free running (or parkour if you’re nasty, or French). I caught this on Netflix’s amazing instant watch and can’t recommend it more to action fans. Seriously, go check it out NOW.

Okay, hope you enjoyed these brief movie reviews. Look for more trade and movie reviews soon!