Tag Archive: guillermo del toro


Back in 1975 Jaws became the highest grossing film to date. It’s arguably one of the most famous films ever that has been parodied and referenced in countless numbers of films and has a theme tune that everyone can hum and recognise. The release and the popularity of Jaws marked the arrival of the summer blockbuster, which would become a staple in the cinema calendar; the summer blockbuster spots are reserved for the biggest studios to bring out the big guns and rake in the profits over summer. The whole idea of a ‘blockbuster film’ has gone through celebration and survived criticism but you can not deny that they are still apparent and, as we have seen this year, are the most bankable films of the year. But the originality has gone, and with that so has some of the fun.

Among the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far there are eight films that have been released in the summer. Only one of those is an original concept: Pacific Rim. When Jaws was released it marked a trend of ‘event’ films that major studios released to compete with Jaws and its sequels. Taking this into account Pacific Rim seems like a typical summer blockbuster remade for a modern audience. It seems like everything a summer audience want: mindless action, giant robots fighting gigantic aliens and what’s more the film had major clout behind it as it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Pacific Rim only just managed to double its budget worldwide despite all the hype surrounding it and Idris Elba booming “today we are cancelling the apocalypse” before every other summer film that you would go and see. Of course, one reason why Pacific Rim could have fallen short of expectations is because Michael Bay did such an awful job with the Transformers film that any film with robots in will now be tossed aside without thought.

 

But then a film with fighting robots also became the fifth highest grossing film of all time: Iron Man 3. So this seems to suggest that that was not the only reason for Pacific Rim‘s failure to make a huge impression on the audience. In a world with so many sequels it is becoming more important to see those sequels when they come out, especially with what Marvel are doing with each film becoming a huge stable of cinema in itself and an unmissable event. People want to see what they already know because the first films are so good and successful that it gives a sequel credibility before it is even released. The likes of Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast and Furious 6, Monsters University and even Despicable Me 2 cracked the top ten highest grossing films – all coming off the back of successful franchises or original films. World War Z and Man of Steel also join the list but they’re coming from hugely successful books and comic books. With World War Z it also seems to suggest that star power is also important for a summer blockbuster with Brad Pitt no doubt being responsible for some of the surprisingly huge audience the zombie action film found.

So what of Will Smith, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp? Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet absolutely tanked at the box office in 2013. Smith’s After Earth and Cruise’s Oblivion both seemed pretty similar in their basic premise: Earth has been abandoned and now Will Smith/Tom Cruise come back to Earth and find out that it’s not as bare as they might have thought. It was assumed that one film would take the spoils because they were too similar but as it turned out, neither film did and both failed. Johnny Depp looked to bring a new franchise to the big screen and should have been more successful being as though The Lone Ranger is integrated in popular culture – everyone has heard “Hi-Yo, Silver!” at least once in their lives. But a difficult time in production seemed to put an end to any plans Disney had of making a sequel. And the less said about R.I.P.D the better.

 

Another one of the most anticipated films of the year was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. After Blomkamp’s debut feature District 9 was an Oscar nominated film people were expecting something exceptional from Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. However, as of now it has only just managed to make back its budget and not set the world alight as people expected. Of course, a late summer release won’t have helped being as though it seems everyone had already spent their money on previously mentioned films. So why is it so hard to find a spot for originality in the summer months?

For me, I think it comes down to the cost of going to the cinema. Over summer the children are off school and people go to the cinema as a family. This means that you’re going to be spending around £25-£35 on tickets and then another £20ish on drinks and popcorn which makes it seem pretty expensive just to go and sit down for a couple of hours. Nobody wants to go and see a bad film at the cinema anyway but when it’s costing that much you want to know that you’re going to enjoy what you watch. Therefore, I believe people are more likely to go and see Iron Man 3 when Marvel have a spotless record and you’re guaranteed a great performance from Robert Downey Jr. rather than take a chance that something like R.I.P.D or Pacific Rim which you don’t know much about.

 

In the next couple of years we are going to see more Marvel films – Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. The Man of Steel sequel featuring Batman is coming out too, the same as the seventh chapter of Star Wars and presumably a third in the new Star Trek trilogy: add to that another Fast & Furious film, a sequel to World War Z and X-Men: Days of Future Past. It seems like so many huge franchises are begging for people’s money that it seems impossible for anything new to turn heads. For the sake of cinema that has to change sooner rather than later.

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What to Watch – July 2013

With most of the biggest summer films come and gone already, it is down to Pixar, giant robots and the least anticipated superhero film of the year to vie for audience attention.

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Now You See Me – 3rd July

A star studded cast embark on a world wide game of cat and mouse to catch a group of ‘Robin Hood like’ magicians turned bank robbers in Now You See Me, which is by far the most exciting film on this list for me.

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The Bling Ring – 5th July

From Sofia Ford Coppola comes The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson (albeit sounding like an American brat). Inspired by true events, a group of teenagers begin stealing from the rich and famous Hollywood socialites… the whole story is in the trailer pretty much.

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Pacific Rim – 12th July

After what many critics have called ‘the best trailer of the summer’ Guillermo Del Toro’s homage to Japanese monster films has a lot to live up to. And there don’t seem to be many people that think it will fail.

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Monsters University – 12th July

This will be the film that either reassures everyone that Pixar’s last couple of years were just a blip, or confirm what many people fear: Pixar are declining. Hopefully, as Monsters Inc. is probably my favourite Pixar film, the former will be proved correct.

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The World’s End – 19th July

Simon Pegg looks like he’s in the form of his life with the final installment in the Cornetto trilogy. Joined by a rich supporting cast it looks as though Wright, Pegg and Frost will be bowing out in a no less than exceptional manner.

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The Wolverine – 25th July

In a film that not many people want and fewer are excited about (other than me who is quite looking forward to it) Wolverine is taken on his most human and darkest screen voyage to date. However, the main problem here is: if you make Wolverine mortal, surely he dies straight away due to his body being filled with adamantium? But after the massacre to the X-Men film universe that was Origins, I suppose that doesn’t really matter?

The Appeal of Emma Stone

Born Emily Jean Stone the young actress took on the name Emma when registering with the Screen Actors Guild due to there already being an Emily Stone registered. That’s a nice little fact not many people will be too aware of. Anyway, Emma Stone is just one of a new wave of actresses who are currently winning critics over and gaining fans with every performance they put in. In this category I place Stone with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams and Carey Mulligan among others. But there is something different that sets Emma Stone apart from the rest; she has a very distinct and intriguing appeal.

Emma Stone got her first leading role in 2010’s Easy A, a film which focusses on the novel A Scarlet Letter and parallels that with the main character’s life: Olive, played by Emma Stone. I believe that Stone’s performance here is a clear example of just what a wonderful actress she is to watch. Olive is caught up in a web of lies after just trying to shut her friend up by telling her that she has lost her virginity, when in fact she has not. All of this gets out of hand and pretty much ruins Olive’s life. But the way the story is told is from Olive’s first person perspective, already giving us Stone’s narration. As well as this the film uses the narrative device of Stone talking into her webcam (which becomes the screen). This makes Stone’s performance just seem incredibly relaxed and natural and allowing the audience to see her in this way brings us a lot closer to the character and, in effect, Emma Stone herself. Her performance is full of vibrancy and sarcastic humour, outshone only by the frankly quite incredible Stanley Tucci.

Before Stone’s Golden Globe nominated performance in Easy A she was already making a name for herself in the comedy genre. Stone’s first film role was in Superbad, a film that began a new era of comedy films. After Superbad she appeared in a few, shall we say interesting films: The Rocker, The House Bunny and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (but let’s not judge her) before getting back on the right track with Zombieland. Also worth noting, Stone actually auditioned for the role of Claire Bennett in Heroes but obviously lost out to Hayden Panettiere who really impressed casting directors: I would have much preferred to have seen Stone in the role though. But anyway…

Emma Stone’s career has continued to go from strength to strength and she has proven that she is not just a one trick pony, despite being more than comfortable and one of the funniest women in comedy film at the minute. She had supporting roles in Friends With Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love (where she would work with Ryan Gosling for the first of quite a few times over the next couple of years) before joining The Help. The Help features an ensemble cast of actresses, not one of whom puts a foot wrong in terms of their performance here. Stone joins the likes of Jessica Chastain (another relatively new actress who is just exceptional at her craft), Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis. Stone’s performance helped The Help win many nomination and awards for it’s cast’s performances.

With The Amazing Spider-Man, Emma Stone became the latest actress to join the superhero film genre. However, unlike the latest incarnations of Pepper Potts, Lois Lane and Rachel Dawes we have seen, Stone’s Gwen Stacy was not the typical damsel in distress as she could more than hold her own; standing up to Flash, being incredible stubborn in an attempt to save New York that could have seen her killed as well as smacking The Lizard over the head during a fight with Spider-Man. Then Stone joined a much more testosterone fuelled ensemble in Gangster Squad, joining Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Anthony Mackie. She recently lent her voice to the prehistoric animation film from DreamWorks: The Croods.

I think you would have to go a long way to find any young actress working today with the combination of talent and on screen charisma that Emma Stone has. She has a wonderful presence on screen with a beautiful charm about her and her career shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Next year will see her reprise her role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while Birdman (from the director of 21 Grams and Babel) is in pre-production. She is also signed on to star in Guillermo Del Toro’s exciting Crimson Peak which is snapping up a superb cast in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch and Jessica Chastain.

Hopefully we will get to see Emma Stone taking the lead in more and more films over the next few years but for now I am happy enough seeing her play supporting roles if she continues to be as good as she is right now!

Pacific Rim is the upcoming film being directed by Guillermo del Toro and pays homage to the Japanese giant monster films, known around the world as Kaiju. Pacific Rim tells the story of giant creatures rising from somewhere in the depths of the ocean and waging war on mankind; in order to combat the legions of monsters humankind builds robots (Jaegers) just as big to be piloted by humans in an attempt to “stop the apocalypse”. On the verge of defeat mankind must turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot and an untrained rookie – to pilot a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past.

The trailer debuted today, here it is:

Now you can’t deny the grand scale of epic-ness contained within those two minutes?!

I first heard about Pacific Rim a couple of months ago and at first I did think that it sounds just like your typical disaster-turned-action-movie but then my mind was soon put to ease. Guillermo del Toro is a director that doesn’t do things by half; he is one hell of a credible name in the world of movies and has previously brought us the critically acclaimed Hellboy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army as well as the incredible Pan’s Labyrinth. All of these three films really show that del Toro can do special effects like no other director out there and that when he uses them he makes sure that everything looks perfect and that they do not distract from the film. The brief glimpses in the trailer of the giant see monsters (which look magnificent) and the Jaegers (equally so) have a real sense of brilliance about them: everything just looks so epic, so huge that watching the trailer on my laptop screen just does not do it justice, it really looks like something made specifically for the big screen!

Now you can tell Pacific Rim is going to be requiring a huge budget so who are the two leads on whom the pressure lies? Well, that would be Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi… you don’t recognise them names? Both of these have been successful in their careers so far yet stayed away from big blockbusters like this. Hunnam has appeared in Green Street, Children of Men and more recently the critically acclaimed television series Sons of Anarchy whilst Kikuchi is wonderful in Babel. They are supported by Ron Perlman (Hellboy obviously), Burn Gorman (my favourite character from Torchwood so nice to see him here), Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) and arguably the biggest name among the cast these days, but still not a huge name, Idris Elba. These actors may not all be well known but from what I’ve seen of them I do really like them and Idris Elba is fast becoming one of my favourite actors to watch, I have a lot of faith in this cast. The script comes from Travis Beacham who’s last film was Clash of the Titans and yeah, it wasn’t that good but I don’t think the writing was much to blame for that.

Pacific Rim, quite clearly, is going to eclipse any other blockbuster you have seen recently and that is very clear just from the trailer. The vast scale that it is operating on is so huge it completely puts to shame other blockbusters like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises who have their fight scenes battling to save New York or Gotham City whereas here you’ve got real threat, real awe, real horror and just sheer amazement at what Pacific Rim has achieved. I can’t wait to see an all out battle between the Jaegers and the sea monsters and I do believe this could be one of the greatest blockbusters ever made!

Pacific Rim is set to be released in the UK on the 12th July 2013.