Tag Archive: prequel


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?

1939 saw the release of arguably the most iconic film of all time: The Wizard of Oz. Since then, no film has really managed to touch audiences as much as this and influence pop culture in such a fashion. The red slippers, the yellow brick road, the Wicked Witch of the West, the cowardly lion, tin man without a brain and a scarecrow without a heart are all easily recognised and associated with The Wizard of Oz. So why on Earth have Disney decided to try and even come close to the original with Oz: The Great and Powerful.

It should be noted that Oz: The Great and Powerful is not a direct prequel to the 1939 film. It is in fact a prequel to the original novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz due to some complicated copyright business. James Franco is Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a small time magician/con artist who is transported to the magical land of Oz, where he meets three witches and is said to make the prophecy come true and become the king of Oz.

James Franco is an actor who seems to love trying to add strings to his bow, however as any good huntsman will tell you one string is all a bow needs. Fantasy is the latest in a long line of genres Franco has had mixed success in along with comedy, drama, science fiction, superhero films. And it has to be said that fantasy is not a genre Franco looks at all comfortable with. Based on this performance alone I would be surprised if anyone ever let him loose with CGI again; his vision and hands and everything else was all over the place. His performance was elevated thanks to actual on screen actresses in his presence and when this happened (particularly in the scenes with Michelle Williams) Franco actually looked like a professional actor.

The beginning of the film, set in black and white and pushed back into a smaller frame in homage to the original film, is poor at best. Supposedly set in 1907 the dialogue and persona of the characters really lets Oz down. I found it hard to get into the film with poor performances for the first fifteen minutes or so and Oz being quite frankly, a very hard character to like.

As the film goes on Oz: The Great and Powerful does appear to get better but it has more ups and downs than Oz’s hot air balloon ride that got him there. The problem with this being a prequel is that the audience already know where the story leads, but in this case it feels as though the producers of the film have no idea where it is going. On the surface, though, there is a lot to enjoy thanks to incredibly well put together CGI displays and the intricate work done on the flying baboons is fantastic.

The supporting cast does very little to help the film with the exception of Michelle Williams and Joey King who both perform their roles as well as they could. This isn’t a performance that Mila Kunis or Rachel Weisz can be proud of and either with their characters being rather poorly written and just firing information at us as if they were telling us every single thought which we really do not need to hear. Zach Braff as Oz’s first real friend Finley the monkey provides a few much needed laughs but there are a lot of jokes that really miss the mark… by a lot.

There is already a sequel in the works but it is going to need a much better script, much better performances and any sign of a sense of direction because you won’t find that in Oz: The Great and Powerful.

My Rating: 5/10.

UK Release Date: 12th July 2013.

Stars: Dan Scanlon (director), Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julia Sweeney, Helen Mirren.

Plot: A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends.

In recent years I have questioned whether Pixar have been going off the boil a little bit with recent films Cars 2 and Brave not quite living up to past Pixar films. However, Monsters Inc is one of my favourite Pixar films so I have been looking forward to seeing how Pixar’s first prequel would turn out. Finally we have the trailer and…

… I can’t help but feel disappointed. You don’t get any real storyline or impression of plot, you don’t really get a sense of a funny rivalry between our two heroes like we did in the very first teaser which was hilarious, and most of all you don’t get to see many returning characters despite the cast returning. Instead you have so many new characters thrown in to these two minutes its impossible to make anything of it!

To paraphrase Nick Fury, I still believe in Pixar. And I really hope that there is more to Monsters University than the obvious jokes the trailer throws at us. If this doesn’t do well then the future for Finding Nemo 2 and the rumoured Toy Story 4 does not look good.

Here are a collection of trailers for, what I think are, the best movies to be released in the UK this month and will be well worth a watch!

 

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS – 5th December

This is something I have been looking forward to since I first saw the trailer. An exciting cast that combines Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken all brought together by Martin McDonagh in his In Bruges follow up.

 

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – 13th December

This is obviously the biggest film to be released this month and I’ve said enough about it already in previous posts so here is just one of the many TV spots for the epic Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings prequel.

 

SMASHED – 14th December

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the brilliant Aaron Paul play a married couple whose bond is solely built on their love of alcohol. Their marriage is put to the test when the wife decides to get sober. Smashed has already been adored by critics and could serve as a little treat this December.

 

LIFE OF PI – 20th December

I was more than a little dubious when I watched the first trailer for Ang Lee’s adaptation of the epic novel but with the release of this second trailer I don’t see how anyone can doubt this. A clear Oscar contender for sure.

 

PITCH PERFECT – 21st December

Anna Kendrick stars (and sings on the soundtrack) in this obviously Glee inspired musical that has gone down well with critics and audiences alike in America. I found the trailer a lot funnier than I thought that I would and it does look really really fun.

 

Disney now owns three of the biggest companies in the world of movie making: Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm, in particular the Star Wars franchise. So with these three huge franchises all working under the same roof it is inevitable that comparisons will be made, but just which is the biggest and best franchise? I will be ranking Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars out of 10 in categories such as Oscar recognition, box office takings, quality of the films and star quality.

 

Box Office

The box office takings are vital to companies and film franchises such as these three as it indicates whether there is any demand for their films any longer and obviously, at the minute, there is. The Star Wars franchise (the original trilogy and prequel trilogy) have taken $3,793,650,642 at the box office, making an average of around $632million per film. Marvel Entertainment have so far released six films of their own, from Iron Man to The Avengers and have made $3,772,055,196 (with The Avengers making up the most of that) averaging $628million per film. None of this quite matches Pixar who, since releasing Toy Story have amassed an incredible $7,794,770,758 at the global box office, however on average this only amounts to just under $600million per film.

Marks out of 10 for Box Office takings:

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 7

Star Wars: 8

 

“Son?”

Oscars

Each year the Oscars acknowledge the best films and the best efforts in making films. Marvel are really lagging behind in this area with just three nominations, two for Iron Man and one for Iron Man 2. Star Wars have so far managed to win seven Oscars with another fifteen nominations! But still this is far far behind Pixar who have been storming the Oscars with almost all of their films and have won ten Oscars for their feature films with another 30 (yes 30!) nominations!

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 1

Star Wars: 6

 

Film Quality

There is no doubt about who makes the best films out of Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars. Ever since their first release Pixar have continually churned out near perfect, enjoyable family films almost every year. With their recent releases it looks as though they have started to lag but their discography cannot be ignored. Marvel, aside from Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, have dominated the superhero genre and continue to bring out fun, light hearted but still very very good films and all of this culminated in one of the best films of 2012: The Avengers. I have never really liked Star Wars but I can appreciate that the original trilogy was good (yet nothing to really shout about) however the prequel trilogy is universally disliked.

Pixar: 10

Marvel: 8

Star Wars: 6

Star Talent

Star Wars made stars out of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford primarily, although they were virtual unknowns at the time. However, they did attract Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness to the franchise. In the prequels they managed to cast some good British talent with Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor along with the huge Samuel L. Jackson. Marvel also signed Samuel L. Jackson up along with huge stars Robert Downey Jr, Ed Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Hugo Weaving, Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges and Sam Rockwell (and that’s not even all of them!). Tom Hanks, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton, Kevin Spacey, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi have all provided voices for Pixar characters but a lot of the time the actors are unknown to audiences.

Pixar: 6

Marvel: 9

Star Wars: 4

 

Overall Ratings:

Pixar: 32/40.

Marvel: 25/40.

Star Wars: 24/40.

So overall Pixar comes out on top which is unsurprising to say the least! Although with their two most recent films (Cars 2 and Brave) not going down as well as previous efforts are they on the decline? Marvel have just released the third highest grossing movie of all time this year and their universe of films is only going to continue to grow and get more and more exciting. Star Wars has continued to live on in television shows since the end of the film franchise and everyone is expecting big things from the new instalment. In the next few years it will be interesting to see who Disney is getting the most from.

The X-Men series has come under a lot of criticism in it’s time despite the critical success that X-Men, X2 and X-Men: First Class has enjoyed. So if three of the five films have gone down well then why do fans of the X-Men continue to be critical of the series?  A lot of the criticism comes from the messed up continuity of the franchise and if you look hard enough you will find plenty of issues with the continuity throughout all five films; X-Men: The Last Stand came under fire for ruining a lot of hard work that Bryan Singer had set up in the first two instalments and X-Men Origins: Wolverine upset fans by just not being very good and ruining Gambit, a character that fans had wanted to see on screen for far too long for him to just be dismissed like he is.

So when The Wolverine was announced to be yet another film focussing on the escapades of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the news was met with less than positive response on internet forums. Yet this week, finally, The Wolverine is connecting with fans and getting people actually hyped up due to one little quote that director James Mangold made to Empire magazine. Mangold won fans over by saying “Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all, Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him”. Everybody was assuming The Wolverine would be another prequel because it is set in Japan (the storyline from the comics in Japan happened before Wolverine met the X-Men) and now it appears that everything we thought about this film was untrue.

Everyone wanted a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand and it seems as though The Wolverine could be the closest thing that we see to this. With this being a sequel it also gives the opportunity for former characters to return to the franchise. Returning characters was hinted at with the other prequel titled Days of Future Past but it seems that maybe fans were misled and Patrick Stewart’s and Famke Janssen’s comments about returning to the franchise could have been meant about The Wolverine rather than Days of Future Past. I, for one, would love to see some of the old characters return and it might be able to give an explanation to what happened to Cyclops, explain Professor X’s return and feature more of Angel perhaps. Unfortunately, I don’t think that this will happen though because the film will be set in Japan.

One of the main things that has been hinted at is that Wolverine would set up the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters and whilst this would be a very touching moment for the character and could set up some more stories for future X-Men you can’t help but feel this SHOULD have been done before the prequels of First Class came into existence. It seems as though The Wolverine will be a stand alone film and you have to hope it will be because right now there are too many strands of the same franchise going on:

X-Men prequels – First Class, Days of Future Past

Wolverine Prequels – Origins

Original X-Men timeline – X-Men, X2, The Last Stand

Wolverine sequels – The Wolverine

That is four different strands of the same franchise and you can see why so much confusion and continuity errors will be made! However, James Mangold says that he wanted to set the film in the timeline so you imagine he will try to stay true to events that have already happened. Mangold has been hit (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and miss (Knight & Day) in his career so far but hopefully The Wolverine will be a hit! Regrettably, hopefully The Wolverine will be the last we see of Hugh Jackman too and the X-Men franchise is finally brought together and made simple once again.

UK Release Date: 8th March 2013.

Stars: Sam Raimi (director), James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Zach Braff.

Plot: Oscar Diggs, small time circus magician, gets hurled into the wonderful world of Oz where he meets three witches who are not convinced that he is the great wizard they have been expecting. Oscar is drawn into the epic problems facing Oz and must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late and transform himself into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz.

Oz: The Great and the Powerful (or just Oz for short) is the prequel that nobody needed and nobody wanted but here it is anyway.

The trailer is actually rather clever in my opinion. The film itself is obviously a prequel to the wonderful classic film Wizard of Oz and the trailer acknowledges it’s ancestory (something which will hopefully be true of the film as well) by starting in black and white for the ‘real world’ and then making the transition to bright and vibrant colourful scenes upon landing in Oz. There is even a hint that the Wicked Witch may appear at the end of the trailer so keep watching for that.

James Franco is always a good performer despite his choice of films being sometimes questionable but it seems as though he is just a guy who wants to have fun with his career so he always puts in his best which is great and I think that he is a fantastic choice for the role of the Wizard. Mila Kunis seems to be the big female lead of this vehicle and seems to be very prominent in Hollywood these days although whether that’s down to her acting abilities or the fact she has been named ‘sexiest woman in the world’ still remains to be seen in the long run.

I’m not quite sure who the audience for Oz is; it looks too mature for kids but too ‘teenagery’ for adults… are today’s generation even interested in The Wizard of Oz? I guess, come next year, we will find out.

UK Release Date: 12th July 2013.

Monsters University is the upcoming prequel to the brilliant Pixar hit Monsters Inc. and while it may be over a year away from release, here is the first teaser trailer showing all your favourite monsters in their college days.

Monsters University is a look at the relationship between Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) during their days at the University of Fear — when they weren’t necessarily the best of friends. Other characters are also set to return such as Randall (Steve Buscemi), Fungus (Frank Oz) and The Abominable Snowman (John Ratzenberger).

This is the first prequel that Pixar have ever done and they have chosen some very popular characters to do it with so they’d better get it right and let’s be honest, this is Pixar. About 95% of the time they get it spot on! The teaser does just that; it teases the audience with what to expect from their two heroes with a hilarious trailer and guarantees that things will be different to Monsters Inc. 

Pixar has Brave coming up later this year however anticipation for that film is not as high as some of Pixar’s previous releases and their previous offering of Cars 2 seemed to miss the spot with a lot of people but hopefully this is just a blip on their form and Monsters University will take Pixar back to being the undisputed kings of the animated film world.

Prometheus Reviewed

***Minor Spoilers Ahead***

 

“Prometheus, are you seeing this?” asks Noomi Rapace’s character scientist Elizabeth Shaw and yes I saw it, but there is a huge difference between seeing something and enjoying it.

Prometheus is an indirect prequel to the Alien series. This film focuses on a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth that leads them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. Sounds interesting.

As mentioned, Noomi Rapace leads this cast that really manages to pack in the noticeable names: Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Rafe Spall and even a small part for Patrick Wilson. With so many experienced cast members being directed by the hugely acclaimed (although in my opinion drastically over rated) director Ridley Scott big things were expected from everyone, especially taking into consideration the success of the Alien film directed by Scott himself.

The film opens with a series of long, wide and very scenic landscape shots and this is a theme that the film will follow throughout and every time we see a large shot of the planet that our heroes find themselves on it looks fantastic; the directing and camerawork means that Prometheus is incredibly pleasing on the eye with some of the best environmental shots I’ve ever seen. The special effects follow suit and are so real that it doesn’t matter how far in the future the crew of Prometheus (the ship which the film is named after) are, it feels and looks as though it could happen today, the effects are believable.

Unfortunately Prometheus has one huge flaw and one that I can not look past: every single one of those characters lacked any kind of personal motivation; their actions seemed uninspired. Noomi Rapace’s character, the main character, spends the first half of the film doing not a lot at all and then spends the second half running away from things and holding her stomach all the time. And this is who you are supposed to empathise with and support, not really your traditional hero. I couldn’t have cared less about her partner, whoever he was and Charlize Theron’s character was ridiculously under used to the point where it seemed like if you took her out of the film no difference would have been made.

In fact, the only character that I felt was worth watching, partly because of the portrayal of the actor, was David, the non human member of the crew portrayed eerily well by Michael Fassbender. Another good performer among the cast was Idris Elba, relatively new to big budget films after carving his career out on television but deserves all the success that comes his way, although killing off his character just seemed like something to do rather than having any impetus behind it.

A stand out scene is when Shaw gives birth to an alien life form and while the rest of the film around that moment seems rather boring this scene is anything but! She doesn’t have a lot to do everywhere else but here Noomi Rapace earns her salary hands down; the trauma and pain her character is going through comes across excellently on screen. Sometimes, poor films or films you don’t enjoy have one glimpse of brilliance and this is Prometheus’. I would go so far as to say this is one of the best scenes I have ever seen in the cinema.

Does Prometheus live up to expectations? Not really.

Is Prometheus an enjoyable sci-fi film? Ish.

Would I watch it again? Not for a while.

My Rating: 5/10.

I really wanted to give it a higher rating but I just couldn’t justify it.