Posts Tagged 'Disney'

The Flop 10 – the Worst Ten Films of 2012

Upon me falls the sad duty to take stock and tell you, honestly, what were the worst or most disappointing ten films of 2012. So here we go.

 

10 To Rome With Love

Some films feature on this list, not because they were objectively amongst the worst films of the year, but because they were very disappointing in comparison to a precursor. After the surprisingly ironic and thoughtful Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s return to farce and stereotype – even though not without some good jokes – is one of these disappointments.

 

9 Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans is the opposite of To Rome With Love: An equally clear and unexpected improvement on the first film of the franchise. However, when that first film is the abismal Clash of the Titans, this by no means indicates that Wrath… is any good. At least it did feature an actual titan…

 

8 Man on a Ledge

Poor Sam Worthington stars in two movies on this list. Bu unlike Wrath of the Titans, Man on a Ledge actually had the balls to pretend it was a smart and sophisticated thriller. Something that was finally disproved when Genesis Rodriguez (that’s her actual name) strips down with no apparent reason in the plot. Nice to look at, but utterly stupid. Much like the film then.

 

7 Dark Shadows

Perhaps we should give Tim Burton some credit for actually trying to adapt a crap soap opera. Perhaps. But Burton has a reputation. He has talent – as he showed later in the year with the gorgeous Frankenweenie. For a film maker of Burton’s stature there is simply no excuse for making something so boring and incoherent.

 

6 The Watch

Alien invasion films are so 2011. Vince Vaughn was never funny in the first place. Stiller must be expected to deliver more. Jonah Hill was supposed to have grown up a bit after Moneyball. And the fabulous Richard Ayoade deserves a much better Hollywood debut. Extra dislikes for ruining an apparently original set-up.

 

5 On the Road

It is good that we now know for certain that Jack Kerouac’s famous beatnik novel does not translate well to film. And is genuinely outdated. Terribly unlikable characters are a stallwart of the worst fiolms of 2012, and On the Road is no example. Especially the talented female actors in this film (Kristen Stewart and Kirsten Dunst) are particularly badly treated.

 

4 Rock of Ages

Really. These 1980 wannabe rock songs did not need sugarcoating. Nor did they need to be performed by kids who appear to have wandered straightaway from the Disney channel. Good supporting roles by Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand cannot save this trainwreck of a musical.

 

3 John Carter

Missing all your marks, looking like a drug addicts fever dream, being utterly silly and failing massively at the box office (Disney reportedly lost some 200 million dollars on this single film) are not enough to be called the worst film of the year. But it does get Andrew Stanton’s trainwreck of a blockbuster on third spot.

 

2 Alles is Familie

Another film that is here because it utterly fails to live up to the standards of a precursor. 2007′s Alles is Liefde was a delightful romantic comedy – even better than Love Actually, from which it stole its concept. But this ‘semi-sequel’ has no likable characters, nothing ot no-one to relate to, no balance or structure, and – most importantly – no good jokes.

 

1 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

A ‘film’ that looks and sounds like a computer game. Like there are so many out there – every summer. But this one (produced by Tim Burton and directed by none less than Timur Bekmambetov) had the guts to sideline the sad history of slavery as something invented by fantasy monsters. Shocking.

The Movies of This Winter…

The Big’uns:

 Jack Reacher (dir. Christopher McQuarrie) stars Tom Cruise (oversized smurf) as a former military man who is described, in Lee Child’s novels about him, as a blonde giant of a man. Little that can go wrong there then. Wreck-it-Ralph (dir. Rich Moore) is a Disney feature about the bad guy in an arcade game, who decides that he does not want to be the bad guy anymore and sets out on a journey to other games. Very promising indeed, if only for the appearance of beloved characters from games that were played by people who were kids in the 1990s. Django Unchained will see Quentin Tarantino tastelessly screwing up (movie) history once more, now with the help of Jamie Foxx, Christopher Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. Get your act together Quentin, and go make another Jackie Brown. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters could be real fun, or it could be the next Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. But it is directed by Norwegian horror prodigy Tommy Wirkola, and stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, so the odds are reasonable. Finally, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey sees Peter Jackson (and everybody else involved in the LOTR madness) revisiting Middle Earth. I expect abolutely nothing from this mind-numbingly boring property, so I won’t be disappointed in any way. On the plus side: the 48 fps images look good in the trailer, and in Martin Freeman it does star a personal favourite of mine.

 

The Award Darlings

You’d think that a book about a boy and a tiger in a little boat would be unfilmable, but Ang Lee decided to give Life of Pi a chance. In 3D. Also considered unfilmable was David Mitchell’s book Cloud Atlas, but Andy and Lana Wachowski, together with Tom Tykwer, decided to give it a try. However good the film may turn out to be, it won’t win prizes. It’s too weird probably. Much more conventional is Hyde Park on Hudson (dir. Roger Michell), about president Roosevelt (Bill Murray gunning for a career Oscar) receiving the King and Queen of England as his guests. Speaking of American presidents: Steven Spielberg’s biopic Lincoln stars Daniel Day-Lewis, so Bill Murray may have to wait for his Oscar a little longer. Another biopic that may score big is Hitchcock (dir. Sacha Gervasi), starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. Already a favourite is Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest, the Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman starring The Master. Argo (dir. Ben Affleck) will be a contender, as will Les Miserables. The latest one is directed by Tom Hooper, who dug up quite some gold for The King’s Speech two years ago. And if the director is anything to go by, look out for Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. A new The Hurt Locker? We’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday Movie News Flash Update Blog-message

Things that we’ve learned this week:

 

There will be a new Anchorman!

And also a new Mummy.

And more Women in Black

Ashton Kutcher will be Steve Jobs (didn’t see that one coming)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and

The disaster that is John Carter costs Disney 200 hundred million dollars… (200,000,000.-)

Tharks, Zarks and Barfs – the John Carter review

It might very well be that somewhere in the classic stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs (also the creator of Tarzan, by the way) about John Carter and his exploits there lurks a diamond of a sci-fi adventure movie. But John Carter (previously titled John Carter of Mars) is not it. I feel slightly uncomfortable trashing this film. Arguing that it is not very original is just unfair. Rice Burroughs’ science fiction stories are over a century old, and if this film seems like a cheap Star Wars rip-off, then it is only so because George Lucas was inspired by those stories when making his big break-through film.

But it does feel awfully familiar, and that is probably the reason it took so long before anyone dared to bring John Carter to the screen. Studios must have felt intuitively that a story about a displaced hero, a princess, warring factions, green aliens called Tharks and shape shifting blue baddies would, to modern audiences unacquainted with Rice Burroughs’ work, be a bit daft and at the same time terribly cliched. At best.

Basically, the one thing that Disney’s take on the material has to offer is its director. Andrew Stanton is a legend. He is the guy who wrote the Toy Story trilogy. Who made Wall-E, and Finding Nemo. Not just excellent kids’ or family films. Excellent films. The failure (artistically, financially John Carter will no doubt do as its meant to) of this film is all the more painful considering the CV on which it is a stain.

The story, for whoever cares, is as following: It is 1868 and disgruntled Civil War veteran John Carter (Taylor ‘what’s-in-a-name’ Kitsch) seeks for gold as he is mysteriously transported to the planet of ‘Barsoom’. There he is captured by tall green aliens, but he manages to save a human-like princess of a city that is at war with another city and he gets mixed up in the local affairs. Everyone wants him on their side, because John Carter is incredibly strong and agile on this strange planet with a lower gravity.

If that does not sound daft enough for you, the locals are called names such as Tars Tarkas, Dejah Soris, Tardors Mors and Sab Than. And there aren’t just Tharks, there are also Warhoons, Zodangans and (you won’t believe this) Heliumites. The latter, by the way, do not speak with an inexplicably high pitched voice, unfortunately. All these strange and uninteresting people are at war with themselves and each other, on a planet that for an unapparent reason is apparently dying. And the bad guys have a weapon that is based on the mysterious blue ‘ninth ray’ of something.

If that does not sound problematic enough for you than please do also consider that the film is a mess. The plotting is all over the place, the dialogue is heavy in tone yet meaningless in, well, meaning, and the action scenes are outright boring. Compared to this, Avatar was a text-book example of disciplined and swift storytelling.

But the most terrible thing is that the film is so ugly. The art director must have been on some nasty drugs when designing the world of Barsoom, and the color scheme is all over the place. I had to physically look away (!) from the screen regularly to protect my eyes. I am not even interested in criticizing the worst 3D I’ve seen as of yet, because however bad the 3D is, there is nothing there for it to ruin.

I feel sorry for the actors who, some way or another, found themselves in this train-wreck of a film. Ciaran Hinds at least shows that he knows he is in a drunken panto farce. But It is painful to see Dominic West, Mark Strong, Lynn Collins and the actually quite charismatic Taylor Kitsch trying so hard.

Hilarious and Deeply Moving – the The Muppets review

I am too young to have grown up with the television series of The Muppets. But I did spend a childhood wondering who that Swedish Chef was that my father raved on about. Then came the DVD box sets and I was hooked. A velvet frog with ping-pong balls for eyes, a diva pig and all their sticks and wire animated Muppet friends put on a terrible happy-anarchistic variety show with celebrity guest stars. What’s not to like?

Like Sesame Street on magic mushrooms, The Muppets (they are not puppets, claim their muppeteers) brought chaos, love, laughter, music and Swedish cuisine into 1970s and 1980s living rooms. The big screen follow ups were, apart from The Muppet Movie and The Muppet Christmas Carol (1979 and 1992) not very good. The last ones even went straight to video.

But now the rights to the Muppets belong to Disney, and they gave fanboy Jason Segel (who I really liked in Bad Teacher) a considerable budget to produce a new, proper Muppet movie (directed by James Bobin). Which is out now, finally, in The Netherlands (it was released in the States last October). I still had to travel all the way to Belgium to catch a screening in the original language rather than the horrendous Dutch dub, but it was worth the international adventure.

The Muppets is fantastic. There is absolutely no other word for it. It is hilariously funny and deeply moving at the same time. It has brilliant songs, courtesy of Flight of the Chonchords’ Brett McKenzie, who won an Oscar last Sunday for Man or Muppet. And those songs have brilliant lyrics. Kermit, reminiscing about Fozzie: “Your jokes were unbearable.”

The central storyline – the Muppets need to get their act back together (literally) to save their theatre from an evil oil tycoon (Chris Cooper) – is familiar and channels the very much alike Blues Brothers. It would have been a bit too simple hadn’t there been a plethora of subplots: one for Kermit and Miss Piggy, on for Jason Segel’s Gary and his muppet brother Walter, one for Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), one for Fozzie… Even Scooter gets his moment of glory.

The jokes are spot-on tongue-in-cheek look-guys-we’re-making-a-muppet-movie brilliant. If you like such jokes of course, but then, if you don’t: what are you doing watching this movie? There is something lovely naïve, sweet and hippie-ish about The Muppets. There always has been, and if you thought that such a quality would be outdated in an increasingly cynical twenty-first century, than you have just been proven wrong. Because once Kermit plucks his banjo for the first tones of The Rainbow Connection, and Miss Piggy joins in when singing the first verse, you well up. I did. And you will.

Is there nothing wrong with this film then? Well, it starts a bit slow, and it takes too long for the Muppets themselves to show up. And its ending is a bit dragged out. And I would have liked to have seen more of the Swedish Chef. And there is a painfully unfunny, completely pointless Toy Story short preceding it. But none of these things take away that this is a movie adventure for film buffs, original fans of the television series, families, dating couples and those people who have never heard of The Muppets (all seven of them).

Because I have already devoted considerable space on this website to the brilliant trailers of this film, I won’t show them here. Instead, it’s time to play the music…

Family Friendly Soul Saver – the Puss in Boots review

Let’s face it. After the dreadfull Shrek Forever After there was not much lower Dreamworks Animation could sink. 2010 was the end of the line for a studio that once had the guts to stand up to Disney, en route paving the way for the success of Pixar (which, ironically, was bought by Disney eventually). And then, let’s stay topical, came a new year. And in 2011 everything was different. Pixar’s Cars 2 was a disappointment (apparently, I have not seen it) and Dreamworks turned out not one, but two decent films.

The first one was Kung Fu Panda 2, which I found amusing and beatifully made. And now there is Puss in Boots, a spin-off of the Shrek series, starring its most enjoyable supporting character. Now, I am not going to suggest that Puss in Boots is anywhere as good as the first two Shrek films. But it looks gorgeous, has enough funny jokes (although one very annoying one too) and it does the job well, as long as the job is “entertaining the kids without boring the parents”.

Animation is really the only genre in which the 3D thing kinda works. Which makes perfect sense, considering that the makers probably use software similar to the stuff used to build the three dimensional worlds of immersive video games. In live action there is still a very strong hint (and often more than a hint, Nova Zembla I’m looking at you) of characters being cardboard cutouts placed a foot in front of the scenery. In five animation films I have not yet seen that problem appear (Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After, Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots being the corpus).

The film itself then: Puss in Boots tells the origins story of its titular character. Puss (Antonio Banderas) is but an often kitten when he is taken into a orphanage in which he befriends the egg-headed Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis).They grow up together, but Humpty is a bad egg (this joke is often made in the film) and he implicates Puss in his crimes, effectively turning him into an outlaw. Years later they meet again, on a quest to capture the goose with the golden eggs…

The story is pretty tough for the youngest kids, and the film is not suited for younglings under the age of six. However, that does mean that older viewers have something to invest in. Banderas excellent voice work, and the good support he gets from Galifianakis and Salma Hayek is of considerable help to him.

Some of the jokes are drawn out too long. The “bad egg” one being one and a reference to Fight Club being the other. And the really annoying one is the twice repeated blood-boiling, toe-curling “miaow” by a stereotypically queer cat (yes, they’ve managed).

But this is not a film that aims for sophistication. It is a holiday picture. A family friendly ride in the multiplex theme park. You’re not supposed to get out all sick and you don’t: Just pleasantly thrilled and a bit wet. And, together with its 2011 sibling, Puss in Boots saved Dreamworks Animation’s soul.

“How I’ve missed you Holmes…”

Well, missed you… It’s only been two years since Robert Downey Jr.’s first outing as the great detective, and in the meanwhile there was the phantastic new reimagining by the BBC… But as a warm-up for A Game of Shadows a few examples of Holmes in film/tv:

The historical classic, Basil Rathbone:

The Disney version, The Great Mouse Detective:

The teaser-trailer to the first episode of the second season of the new BBC version:

And finally, the RDJ incarnation, in 2009′s Sherlock Holmes:

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who will be the fairest Snow White adaptation of them all?

All good things come in threes is the saying, I believe. which does not bode well for live action Snow White adaptations, of which there will be two next year. But who knows? The first trailers are out now and the race is on… I like Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman better, but Julia Roberts is far superior to Charlize Theron as the evil Queen in Tarsem Singh’s more traditional looking Mirror Mirror.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Dir. Rupert Sanders. Starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron & Chris Helmsworth.

Release date: June 7 2012 (NL)

Mirror Mirror

Dir. Tarsem Singh. Starring: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer & Sean Bean

Release date: March 22 2012 (NL)

Which do you like best? And should we want to see a new Snow White film? Granted, this is not the fastest remake or reboot in Hollywood history – the classic Disney animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs being from 1937 – but will CGI match up to Walt’s darling birds?

Mini reviews: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Another Year, The Social Network, The Losers

Sometimes I get to watch films faster than I can keep up with in terms of writing reviews. Over the last couple of months I saw four films I haven’t been able to write about yet. So here are some very brief reviews of The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Another Year, The Social Network and The Losers.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (dir. Michael Apted)

This third installment in the Narnia movies series is uncomparable to the previous two films, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, which themselves are very different as well. The setting and the structure of the narratives are different for each film, as they are different for each of the eight books that C.S. Lewis wrote about the magical country (in contrast with the repetetiveness of the first six Harry Potter books). In this film the youngest two Pevensy kids, Edmund and Lucy, return  to Narnia with their obnoxious cousin, Eugene, to join king Caspian on a nautical quest to find seven noblemen and save Narnia from a mysterious green mist. Disney dropped the series after the disappointing box office take of Prince Caspian, and 20th Century Fox picked up the rights, but made the film on a considerbaly smaller budget. This shows especially in the CGI, which is not up to the current standard. The very episodic structure of the story fo the book does not translate well onto film, but Will Poulter (Son of Rambo) as eugene is a revelation. A wonderful child actor who will hopefully return in the next installment, The Silver Chair.

Another Year (dir. Mike Leigh)

A delightful new dramedy by Mike Leigh (Naked, Happy-go-lucky). Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent play the middle-aged British couple whose dinner parties serve as a safe haven for their more troubled friends and family. Tom and Gerri provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for Gerri’s alcoholic colleague Mary (a stand out performance by Lesley Manville) and Tom’s old (and equally alcoholic) pal Ken. During just another year their son starts a new family, while an older brother of Tom suffers a big loss. Tom and Gerri are there for everyone, without interfering or meddling in others’ business. Heartwarming.

 

 The Social Network (dir. David Fincher)

Much lauded as this year’s film about our time, The Social Network tells the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose determined quest to ‘bring the entire social experience of college’ online results in alienation with his girlfriend and former best pal. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield shine in the central roles, while Arnie Hammer is sensational, playing both the Winklevoss twins. Director David Fincher tells the story with great control in a  non-chronological order, the music is spot on (Oscar winner), the editing is flawless (Oscar winner) and Aaron Sorkin’s dialogues are razor sharp (Oscar winner). But the essence of the story comes down to the punch line: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” and nothing more. The real film about what Facebook really is and can do is Catfish. Meanwhile, I don’t really care about these annoying American college kids and their empty self-obsessed lives. The Social Network is an excellent film that is nonetheless instantaneously forgettable.

The Losers (dir. Sylvain White)

This film wins the Jasper’s Take award for the most cliched and pointless action flick of the year. Watchmen‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan leads a team of betrayed CIA operatives in an attempt to get even with the executive who set them up and to clear their names. Idris Elba (The Wire) gets too little to do with his talents. Zoe Saldana is a redundant skinny girl who is good with guns, but there is much fun to be had with Chris Evans’ (the new Captain America) science nerd Jensen. Jason Patric is the most ridiculous bad guy of the year.  The plot has no surprises after the 5th minute, and the film does not know if it wants to be Mission: Impossible with kills or The Expendables light. It makes perfect sense that this film did not get a Dutch cinema release.

By the way. I got only 11 out of 18 of my Oscar precidtions right. Should I find another hobby?

2011 – Short Preview:

We kick the year of in the middle of the awards season. The big ones are of course the BAFTAs, the Oscars and the Golden Globes (although this year’s comedy nominations suggest that they’ve lost their minds there). Main contenders (apart from last year’s Inception, Toy Story 3 and A Winter’s Bone): 1) Darren Aronofsky’s ballet film Black Swan. 2) Horror based on a true story in Danny Boyle’s 127 hours. 3) British Royalty, handicaps and Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. 4) Coen Brothers Western remake True Grit. 5) Family drama with awards darling Nicole Kidman Rabbit Hole and 6) The Fighter, a boxing drama starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

There will be a trainload of mostly uninteresting comic book movies coming out. Captain America: First Avenger, The Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, Thor, X-Men: First Class are all completely uninteresting and instantaneously forgettable. Well, that’s the guess. The only one I am really looking forward to is Cowboys & Aliens, because it has cowboys. And aliens. And Daniel Craig. Finally I hold my heart for Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn, because the first pictures were, well, awful.

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Tin Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Looking forward at this year’s comedy offerings one must not set one’s hopes too high. We get The Hangover 2 (bwerk)… Johnny English 2 (nooo!) And we get Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and a sweary alien in Paul (mwah) and if anything is to save the year it must be Your Highness, a medieval set comedy piece the trailer of which suggests that it is at least in the same league as Robin Hood: Men in Tights. In romantic comedy we see two films (No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits) about people having sex without having a relationship. Which is about as unfunny as, well, pornography.

Your Highness

BLAMs then. The original Big Loud Action Movies of this year are JJ Abrams super secretive Super 8 and Paul Bettany versus vampires in Priest. Sequel fare there is in Sherlock Holmes 2 (with the amazing Noomi Rapace joing Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law), Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon (which is promised to be at least less dorky then its predecessors) and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, in which Jeremy Renner steps up as the pupil of Tom Cruise. Furthermore there are a gazillion films about aliens attacking earth (see also: Paul and Cowboys & Aliens)

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Pixar has as yet its most unpromising offering in years, with Cars 2. Disney continues its classic track of the last two years with Winnie the Pooh and other animation hits might be Rango (which looks greatly odd) and Gnomeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare then: The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor (Titus) will be a real treat, but I am taking the airplane-in-an-emergency-landing-head-between-your-knees position for Anonymous, a Roland EMMERICH! Take on the Bard’s lifetime.

Stuff I need not mention: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II, Pirates of the Carribean: At Stranger Tides.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.