Tag Archive: matt damon


Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt is a name that you may not be familiar with, although when shortened to Ben Affleck it is very difficult to avoid. Ben Affleck is arguably one of the biggest celebrities in the world and has been for some years, both for his work in the film industry and his relationships with a string of big name Hollywood ladies including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and his current wife Jennifer Garner. But what I know him for is his acting, writing, producing and directing of some brilliant and some not-so-brilliant, slightly below average films.

One of the most famous friendships in Hollywood: Affleck and Damon.

After appearing in small extra roles in a number of films including Field of Dreams and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Affleck really became known for his turns in Kevin Smith films Mallrats and Chasing Amy, however it was Good Will Hunting in 1997 that made him a household name. Good Will Hunting was nominated for nine Oscars including a Best Original Screenplay win for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon who shared the writing credit and both starred in the film too. This success then allowed Affleck to move into bigger roles and he pretty much became a huge success with all of his films becoming massive hits at the box office; Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and The Sum of All Fears. Affleck was acting among some big names and becoming one of them too whilst still doing smaller films including Shakespeare In Love, Dogma and Boiler Room.

A year after The Sum of All Fearswas released something bad happened to Ben Affleck’s acting career that he has never really recovered from. Ben Affleck states that his favourite comic book when he was growing up was Daredevil so when the chance arose to play the Marvel hero naturally Affleck jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, despite being praised for his casting and his role in the film it is not a very good film at all to be honest (although the director’s cut is actually meant to be a huge increase in quality) and since appearing in Daredevil Affleck has not really tastes any of the huge success he once had as an actor. Instead, he has appeared in a number of critical and commercial flops including Gigli, Surviving Christmas and Smokin’ Aces. He has however had smaller success with Hollywoodland in which Affleck received huge praise for his role as George Reeves in the biographical docudrama.

In order to get his career back on track Affleck decided to get behind the camera and begin directing films. His first feature was an adaptation of the Dennis LeHane novel Gone Baby Gone in which he cast his brother Casey Affleck  (a better actor than himself) in the lead role. The end product worked out brilliantly, the film was praised and Affleck directed it very very well; it is one of my favourite films. Whilst he does still act it is in the directors chair where Affleck is getting a lot of praise, more praise than he ever got as an actor. In 2010, Affleck directed The Town and starred in the lead role as well (ego?) but nonetheless the direction received huge praise again and Jeremy Renner got a surprise nod for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance under Affleck’s direction.

Affleck’s latest feature film as director is Argo and is due out later this year and there is a lot of expectation of the film as it is based on real life events and incorporates a lot of different themes so it will be interesting to see how Affleck brings them all together and whether he is successful or not. Also, and this is just a rumour for now, everyone knows that DC comics and Warner Bros. are trying to put out a Justice League movie after the success of Marvel’s team up in The Avengers but it is being reported that Ben Affleck is being lined up to direct. This would be a master stroke.

There is no doubt that Ben Affleck is a film star, but he should definitely star behind the camera from now on and continue his success in the director’s chair.

The three biggest action stars in the world… ever.

During the eighties and nineties the action genre was the place to be and many action stars were born. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren all made careers out of being action heroes. Their films were, most of the time, nothing more than a simple storyline where a hero just got to kick ass and the audience would have fun cheering the hero on while he did so, eg. Die Hard, Rambo. Nowadays you won’t really find that among the big Hollywood films, the genre has evolved over time and action films seemed to get more serious, genres started to merge and the days of the real action genre and action heroes are behind us, I think.

While people like the actors mentioned above are still making films I do believe that the only real action hero we have left is the English born Jason Statham. He is most famous for the Transporter trilogy and his films continue to get a cinema release whereas the likes of Lundgren, Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme do not, so why is this? I think it is because Statham does have a real talent for acting whereas a lot of action heroes are just there because of their size and physique; Statham has shown before he can manage the acting as well as the action, he seems like a really nice guy which audiences always like and he is still relatively new in his career, having only started out in 1998. It’s been 14 years sure, but actors these days go for a lot longer than that!

The Expendables 2 is coming out later this year and back in 2010 we saw a return to the sole action genre with the original film directed and written by Sylvester Stallone himself. The idea was to bring together a great ensemble cast of action heroes to bring the genre back to the forefront of blockbuster cinema. The cast included Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren as well as a scene that features three stars synonymous with the action genre: Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis. The sequel retains this cast and expands with Van Damme and Chuck Norris. The idea to revive the big action block buster was a good one in theory and went down well with fans as the film opened to huge commercial success across the globe but critics were less favourable as the film received mixed to negative reviews. Despite this, a third film is rumoured to happen and Steven Seagal says he has been offered a part. But it does seem as though the only way to get a big action film back on the big screen is to bring together an ensemble, otherwise audiences are not going to be grabbed.

Asian cinema still features a lot of action films and the very successful The Raid (originally titled Serbuan Maut) was even released in British cinemas earlier this year and went down very well with critics so maybe it is just Hollywood that can’t get it right? I suppose that the nearest thing we have to a pure action film these days is the Fast & Furious franchise but you could hardly say that Paul Walker is an action hero or that even Vin Diesel is (come on, he was in The Pacifier) no matter how much he really likes to think he is himself. The Bourne films are marketed as action films and I guess they could be described as such but this is still an evolution from real action films as it features more in crime and even political genres, however the action does feature a lot. And Matt Damon would not consider himself an action hero I don’t think. Liam Neeson isn’t particularly an action hero yet his film Taken is probably the most successful action movie of recent times and is the only really really good one that I can think of right now.

I would argue that the nearest thing we have to real action films now are the superhero movies. The action heroes have been replaced with those of the comic book world as they appear on the big screen and clearly define the theme of good versus evil and the hero goes on to kick some ass very much like Rambo, John McClane or Frank Martin would do. All the time, trying to keep it fun for audiences.

Over time all genres do evolve as audiences crave something new, something that will break boundaries or challenge them to put the pieces together themselves but I, for one, would like to see more old school action films being made. But none of these rubbish straight to DVD films, I want real action blockbusters with real action heroes in them. All it will take is for one new action hero to step out of the shadows and then a flurry of them will follow as it did for he superhero movies and for the fairy tale films too. So whoever he is, he better step up quick.

The Face of the Bourne Franchise: Past & Present

It was stated earlier this week by The Bourne Legacy producer Frank Marshal that it would be his dream to see Matt Damon and Jeremy Renner on the screen together in a future Bourne film as Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross respectively. This is something that fans of the series will no doubt be drooling at the prospect of if the Renner helmed The Bourne Legacy does as well as expected this summer. But it would not be the first time that several characters from a single franchise had appeared together.

Back in 2008 Marvel Studios began a four year adventure with what is quite possibly the best piece of foreshadowing in movie history; Nick Fury’s appearance post-credits Iron Man announcing something called the Avengers Initiative? Later, Marvel released Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Iron Man 2 before bringing all strands of their universe together in a little movie you may have heard about this year: The Avengers. The Avengers became the third highest grossing film in movie history and one of the key reasons for this is no doubt because it is the culmination of a multi-strand franchise, bringing together the best characters from a series of film all together in one film sharing the screen time. This could be the start of something new for the movie universe.

Comic book readers’ dreams came true when The Avengers exceeded expectations this summer

Of course, movie fans with a specialist knowledge, shall we say, will point out that Marvel’s The Avengers is not the first film to bring together characters from a successful movie series. Although, by any stretch of the imagination, not on the same level commercially or critically as The Avengers, in 2011 the Fast & Furious franchise brought out Fast Five; not only did Fast Five feature the main characters of the franchise (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker) it also brought back characters from previous films such as Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce from 2 Fast 2 Furious (of which Vin Diesel had no part), Sung Kang’s Han (Tokyo Drift) and Gal Gadot’s Gisele Harabo (Fast & Furious). This was not a ploy to pull in audiences (that was all thanks to Dwayne Johnson!) but more of a nod to fans of the franchise and I have to say that when I saw all the characters from the previous films coming together for Fast Five I was really surprised and pleased to see them all there! It’s just a real acknowledgement that these characters do know each other and I think that it adds another level to, not only, the friendship of the characters but also the film universe itself. Of course I was happier to see Iron Man fighting alongside Hulk and Thor but seeing everyone from the Fast & Furious franchise working together was almost just as pleasing; I imagine seeing Damon and Renner fighting together in a later Bourne film would have exactly the same effect.

The Fast Five crew is built of characters from the previous four films.

I think that audiences really like it when they see old characters from previous films returning to help out their friends in a later film or just appear at the same time. It is also a big money spinner as The Avengers proved and Fast Five is also the most successful film of that franchise, helping to retain some credibility for the Fast and the Furious brand.

Obviously, it is a huge commitment when doing something like this because plans have to be set in motion several years before the big event and that means taking huge risks. For example, if both Thor and Captain America solo films had failed then all the hard work heading towards The Avengers wouldn’t have paid off. This is a risk that DC comics and Warner Bros. do not seem to be taking with their comic book heroes despite fans crying out for the ‘Avengers model’ on Justice League.

My opinion is that these multi-strand franchises are a fantastic idea and they have an incredible effect on me as a member of the audience. Unfortunately though, people who make movies do not have foresight and can not tell whether a series of films will be just as successful in a few years so it may be time wasted that could have earned money somewhere else but when done properly they are like nothing else; the journey from Iron Man to The Avengers was fantastic to see on screen with all these solo films being connected in the slightest of ways (and not so slight in Iron Man 2) but it’s unlike anything that’s ever been done before and if more franchises could use this model I, for one, would be very very happy about that!

Some weeks go by when there is not a single thing happening in the movie world that I am bothered about and then all of a sudden three things come along at once:

 

First up, there is a new Van Helsing film in development! Before you question why this is good news, you first have to know that this will not be a sequel to the awful Hugh Jackman interpretation of the character back in 2004, this will be a complete reboot. The reboot is to be written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, a writing pair that can boast hits such as Star Trek, Fringe, Alias, The Legend of Zorro, Mission: Impossible III, Transformers and, to a lesser extent, Cowboys and Aliens. Kurtzman has said that the reboot will be ‘grounded in reality’ and has high aims as he wants to ‘do for Van Helsing what [Christopher] Nolan has done for Batman’. The other piece of exciting news surrounding this project is who is attached to star as the title character: Tom Cruise. His career seems to have had its own little reboot in the last couple of years and he is being lined up to appear in everything, not that I’m complaining, I think he is a great person to watch and has a fantastic on screen persona. Van Helsing has no set release date yet with Cruise’s hectic schedule but a release of 2014/15 may be realistic.

 

Next up, Bourne! The Bourne trilogy is one of my favourites of all time, I think Matt Damon’s portrayal of super spy Jason Bourne is a character to rival any other and the storyline, the directing and the supporting cast are all fantastic. So when I heard that Damon and director Paul Greengrass would not be returning for fourth film The Bourne Legacy I was understandably disappointed. Then my disappointment faded with the announcement of Jeremy Renner becoming the lead role and playing Aaron Cross in what has been dubbed a ‘paraquel’ (the events take place simultaneously with the original Bourne trilogy). Frank Marshall, the producer of The Bourne Legacy has now said that it is his ‘dream’ to see Matt and Jeremy team up in the fifth installment. Of course, this is just a dream at the minute and Damon has fierce loyalty to director Greengrass and recently had a falling out with writer and new director Tony Gilroy but money talks and a huge payday for Damon could be in line if he was to return to the franchise which would be incredible!

Here is the incredible trailer for Renner’s The Bourne Legacy

And finally…

 

Marvel are riding high on the waves of success at the minute and a few months ago announced the line up for their next few films. among the regulars of Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 there were a couple of surprises with Marvel announcing two secret films. Immediately there was speculation that the 2014 secret movie would be a Black Panther origin story. Black Panther is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel universe and really does deserve a film and in the past week or so there has been no shortage of actors saying that they would love to be a part of the film. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter) said that he hoped to be a part of The Incredible Hulk but wasn’t and would sign on to Black Panther today; Brian J. White (Cabin in the Woods, Brick) has also said he would love to work with Marvel when he was linked with the role but I don’t think that he looks the part so I would count him out straight away; Aldis Hodge (Leverage) seems to be the current fan favourite out of people who have confirmed their interest in the role and just by looking at him you have to say that he does seem to be the perfect fit. I would still hope that Djimon Hounsou got the part but maybe Marvel will go for a lesser known and cheaper actor for the part.

(left to right) Fan favourite Aldis Hodge; Marvel superhero Black Panther; my pick Djimon Hounsou.

Mark Ruffalo is hitting headlines everywhere at the moment. Most recently, he has become the latest victim to the twitter hackers of the internet but that’s not what everyone is bothered about right now. The other reason you might be hearing Mark Ruffalo’s name everywhere you go right now is because he is currently starring in Marvel’s The Avengers and is the outstanding performer of the ensemble. Up until a few years ago, though, Ruffalo was not widely known by audiences, so just where has he come from?

Ruffalo began acting in 1989 (yes he really has been around that long) but he only appeared in one off television episodes, short films or very very minor roles in films. It was not until 1998 that Ruffalo started making waves in the acting world. He managed, by chance, to meet Kenneth Lonergan, a very successful playwright and screenwriter and the two began collaborating on stage productions. For appearing in Lonergan’s play This Is Our Youth Mark Ruffalo was cast in Lonergan’s film You Can Count On Me; Ruffalo gained a lot of positive reviews and was even likened to a young Marlon Brando, for an actor trying to get his break that is not a bad comparison to have.

Ruffalo sporting a whole new look for Collateral

This led to more work in the early noughties for Ruffalo and his film career finally began to take off with some haste. He experimented with genres going from romance with XX/XY to war with Windtalkers; from drama Life About Me to comedy View From The Top working with esteemed actors like Nicolas Cage and Gwyneth Paltrow along the way. Mark Ruffalo also had a part in the critically acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind alongside the brilliant Jim Carey and he certainly should be used to praise after appearing in another critical hit Collateral with Tom Cruise.

All actors like to prove they are versatile just to improve their CV, make them more preferable for roles, but even so you don’t have to do them all. Unfortunately for Mark Ruffalo he tried and even decided to step into rom-com. If you’re a male established actor usually rom-coms aren’t the way to go, but anyway Ruffalo appeared in 13 Going on 30, Just Like Heaven and Rumor Has It before returning to a more serious side of things in 2007 with Zodiac, a crime drama directed by the amazing David Fincher.

It doesn’t get much better than working with DiCaprio AND Scorsese

In 2010 Ruffalo appeared in four films. Date Night and Sympathy For Delicious can be forgotten about because with the other two he certainly makes up for them. First, there was Shutter Island, a fantastic thriller where Ruffalo played second fiddle to Leonardo DiCaprio and did a terrific job, no doubt about that. Then there was The Kids Are All Right for which his performance saw him nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

In 2011 Ruffalo starred in Margaret which, despite its cast featuring Ruffalo, Matt Damon and Anna Paquin, only had a limited release. But now, here we are, the year is 2012 and Ruffalo becomes the third person to portray the Incredible Hulk in as many films. A lot of Marvel fans had enjoyed Ruffalo’s close friend Ed Norton’s performance as Bruce Banner and were wary of Ruffalo taking on the part. How delighted fans are now that he did just that though, becoming without a doubt the best Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk on the big screen.

After the huge blockbuster that is The Avengers, Ruffalo is returning to more dramatic roles in Thanks For Sharing, Foxcatcher and Now You See Me but it is highly likely that Ruffalo has a clause in his contract with Marvel tying him down to several more projects as Bruce Banner so this will definitely not be the last you hear of the brilliant Mark Ruffalo.

Ruffalo became the first person to portray the Hulk on the big screen thanks to the use of motion capture technology.

We Bought a Zoo Trailer

UK Release Date: 16th March 2012

Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo is the tale of Benjamin Mee; a recently widowed father struggling to cope with looking after his two children by himself. Benjamin moves his young family to the countryside when he buys a large house with a zoo at the back. There, Benjamin meets Kelly and with her help him and his family attempt to renovate the zoo and reopen it to the public.

Now, apparently, the main rules of show business are never work with animals or children. This is something that Matt Damon clearly didn’t acknowledge as he takes on the role of Benjamin Mee and, in the trailer at least, it looks as though he was right to do so as it seems as though his performance will be a highlight of the film. The supporting cast looks very strong too including Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church and Elle Fanning.

We Bought a Zoo is predominantly a drama although it does contain elements of comedy which come through in the trailer which is funnier than a lot of trailers for so called comedies that I have seen in the past. You can tell that there is a complete story arc to the film and that the characters do develop which is always a good thing. Before the Oscar nominations were announced there was a lot of buzz around this film receiving a few nominations which it didn’t end up getting, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be worth a watch.

“Jason Bourne was the tip of the iceberg.”

Here is the first glimpse of the latest installment in the Bourne franchise, albeit minus Jason Bourne. A lot of fans online have complained about the continuation of the series without Matt Damon playing the super skilled assassin that audiences have come to know and love.

Damon’s replacement is Jeremy Renner, a man quietly taking Hollywood by storm. And he seems to suit the role perfectly in the trailer. The trailer opens with a scene very similar to that of Bourne registering with Treadstone. It may be because of the way it has been presented, with only small segments of the screen visible to the audience, but this half of the trailer didn’t impress me unfortunately. Luckily, what came next is what we expect from the Bourne films. We have Renner’s character, Aaron Cross, using fire extinguishers to blow up buildings, he is taking out helicopters with a gun and he is jumping out of trees; action fueled scenes which Bourne has done so well in the previous movies.

It seems as though there is a lot here for fans of the series to get their teeth into. Whether it will attract new fans to the franchise remains to be seen, but it looks to me as though the Bourne franchise can continue without Matt Damon at the helm, although there is always the possibility he could return so fingers crossed!