Michael Myers is still at large and no less dangerous than ever. After a failed reunion to reach his baby sister at their old home, Laurie Strode is immediately taken to a hospital to be treated by the wounds that had been afflicted by her brother a few hours ago. However, Michael isn’t too far off and will continue his murdering “Halloween” rampage until he gets his sister all to himself.
The Final Destination series gets a kick-start with this fourth outing, headed up by the production team behind the second film — director David R. Ellis and writer Eric Bress. The New Line franchise will be presented for the first time in 3-D with this installment focusing on a teenager that dodges a trip to the grave at a racetrack, only to find that death has a way of equaling the playing field after the fact. Shantel VanSanten, Bobby Campo, and Hayley Webb star in the sequel.
Release date: Wednesday November 25, 2009 Genre: Action Director: James McTeigue Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Screenplay: Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski Producer(s): Joel Silver, Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Grant Hill Cast: Rain , Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Sho Kasugi, Rick Yune Official Site: ninja-assassin-movie.warnerbros.com Rating:R for strong bloody stylized violence throughout, and language Available film art: Ninja Assassin movie posters
Synopsis Raizo (Rain) is one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Taken from the streets as a child, he was transformed into a trained killer by the Ozunu Clan, a secret society whose very existence is considered a myth. But haunted by the merciless execution of his friend by the Clan, Raizo breaks free from them…and vanishes. Now he waits, preparing to exact his revenge. In Berlin, Europol agent Mika Coretti (Naomie Harris) has stumbled upon a money trail linking several political murders to an underground network of untraceable assassins from the Far East. Defying the orders of her superior, Ryan Maslow (Ben Miles), Mika digs into top secret agency files to learn the truth behind the murders. Her investigation makes her a target, and the Ozunu Clan sends a team of killers, led by the lethal Takeshi (Rick Yune), to silence her forever. Raizo saves Mika from her attackers, but he knows that the Clan will not rest until they are both eliminated. Now, entangled in a deadly game of cat and mouse through the streets of Europe, Raizo and Mika must trust one another if they hope to survive…and finally bring down the elusive Ozunu Clan.
Release date: Friday September 11, 2009 Genre: Thriller, Action, Drama Runtime: 1 hour 36 minutes Director: Dominic Sena Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Screenplay: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes Producer(s): Dean Vanech, Leslie Urdang, Miranda de Pencier Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Tom Skerritt Official Site:whiteoutmovie.comRating:R for violence, grisly images, brief strong language and some nudity Available film art: Whiteout movie posters
Synopsis After two years stationed at Antarctica’s South Pole research base, lone U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is as anxious as anyone to be going home. She’s turned in her resignation and is counting the hours and minutes to the last plane out. But three days before departure, a body turns up on the ice and Carrie is immediately thrust into Antarctica’s first murder investigation. As the death toll mounts, the mystery deepens with shifting loyalties, deadly whiteouts, and a relentless killer who will stop at nothing to protect a secret buried for over sixty years. Now with everyone around her packing up and getting out, Carrie must solve the crime before Antarctica is plunged into six months of darkness and she is stranded with the killer on a land where nothing comes in and no one gets out.
For a filmmaker who’s known for making ultra-violent genre fare, Robert Rodriguez has never failed to balance his cinematic machismo with his softer, more kid-friendly role as a father, taking time out between bloodbaths to create something for both his family and ours. Shorts is perhaps Rodriguez’s best and most inspired young-adult film since the original Spy Kids. Whether this is faint praise or a legitimate compliment is entirely up to your taste, and quite possibly your age, but there’s little doubt that this sci-fi fairy tale is the perfect piece of back-to-school entertainment for children and their young-at-heart parents.
The set-up is relatively simple. A magical wishing rock falls into the center of a residential community built around a super-advanced technology company responsible for the creation of the “black box,” a device which can become, essentially, any other electronic device you need it to be. In an interconnecting series of – you guessed it — shorts, Rodriguez spotlights four groups of neighbors whose wishes produce what one might best describe as shenanigans.
The first follows young Toe Thompson – ignored by his distant, work-addicted parents and bullied by the daughter of his parents’ boss, Helvetica Black – as he wishes for friends who appear as troublesome, super-powered, miniature alien spacecraft. The second story follows a group of three children whose wishes create walking alligators, giant pterodactyls, venomous snakes and one incredibly smart, telepathic baby. The third chapter focuses on super-scientist Dr. Noseworthy (William H. Macy), his son and the family tutor (Toe’s sister Stacey, played here by Kat Dennings), as young “Nose” Noseworthy accidently mutates a booger into a giant, flesh-eating monster. The fourth section finds Toe’s parents wishing to be closer and suddenly being joined, quite literally, at the hip. The fifth and final chapter illustrates how all the madness comes together as the company’s CEO, Cole Black, wishes himself into a massive, unstoppable, all-powerful robot.
The real success of the film is in the tone it strikes. It’s colorful, but not overly cartoonish; it’s good, silly fun, but it never panders; it’s aimed at children, yet it has enough maturity to entertain the adults. It is, in a sense, the kind of bed-time story a parent might make up with their children, incorporating the enthusiastic suggestions shouted from beneath the covers. The presentation of the film as a set of short movies is fun and inspired – and certainly on DVD kids will watch and re-watch their favorite chapters – but it’s not, critically speaking, entirely necessary. Shifting around the timeline and showing how one event leads up to something you’ve already seen is a clever invention, but the story never really gains anything from the structure. That said, given the film in question, if an idea is fun, it has a place here within the craziness, regardless of the questions or criticisms that might apply to more straightforward movies.
Rodriguez doesn’t really flex the visual style here that we’ve seen in his higher-budget productions, but he manages a narrative and tonal juggling act that’s no less impressive for the film’s being aimed at younger audiences. The effects are surprisingly well rendered and while, for this critic, the booger-monster seemed a bit sillier than the rest of the film, each of the wild creations – from walking reptiles to five-story mechanical behemoths – look relatively respectable.
Overall, when a critic can see a film that’s meant for children in a child-less room filled with fellow film critics and still have a good time, that’s absolutely a credit to the filmmaker and his cast. Adults will no doubt be forced to find their inner child to enjoy the movie, but one wouldn’t suppose they’d be flocking to theatres without children of their own – children who will no doubt have a blast making their way through Shorts.
Synopsis: Once the high school cheerleading captain who dated the quarterback, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) now finds herself a thirty something single mother working as a maid. Her sister Norah, (Emily Blunt), is still living at home with their dad Joe (Alan Arkin), a salesman with a lifelong history of ill-fated get rich quick schemes.
Desperate to get her son into a better school, Rose persuades Norah to go into the crime scene clean-up business with her to make some quick cash. In no time, the girls are up to their elbows in murders, suicides and other…specialized situations. As they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, the sisters find a true respect for one another and the closeness they have always craved finally blossoms. By building their own improbable business, Rose and Norah open the door to the joys and challenges of being there for one another—no matter what—while creating a brighter future for the entire Lorkowski family.
Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr., Jason Spevack; Director: Christine Jeffs
Commentary with writer Megan Holley and producer Glenn Williamson
A Fresh Look at a Dirty Business
Watch an Exclusive DVD Clip:
Synopsis: Oscar® winner Julia Roberts and Clive Owen reunite for “Duplicity,” from writer/director Tony Gilroy (seven-time Oscar®-nominated “Michael Clayton”). In the film, they star as spies-turned-corporate operatives in the midst of a clandestine love affair. When they find themselves embroiled in a high-stakes espionage game, they discover the toughest part of the job is deciding how much to trust the one you love.
CIA officer Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and MI6 agent Ray Koval (Owen) have left the world of government intelligence to cash in on the highly profitable cold war raging between two rival multinational corporations. Their mission? Secure the formula for a product that will bring a fortune to the company that patents it first.
For their employers—industry titan Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) and buccaneer CEO Dick Garsik (Paul Giamatti)— nothing is out of bounds. But as the stakes rise, the mystery deepens and the tactics get dirtier, the trickiest secret for Claire and Ray is their growing attraction. And as they each try to stay one double-cross ahead, two career loners find their schemes endangered by the only thing they can’t cheat their way out of: love.
Cast: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Giamatti; Directed by: Tony Gilroy
Feature Commentary from Writer/Director Tony Gilroy and Editor/Co- Producer John Gilroy
My Scenes (Blu-ray)
Watch Trailers and Clips:
A coming-of-age comedy set in the summer of 1987 about an uptight recent college grad (Jesse Eisenberg) who is forced to take a job at a local amusement park when he realizes he can’t afford his dream European vacation.
It’s the summer of 1987, and James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), an uptight recent college grad, can’t wait to embark on his dream tour of Europe. But when his parents (Wendie Malick and Jack Gilpin) announce they can no longer subsidize his trip, James has little choice but to take a lowly job at a local amusement park. Forget about German beer, world-famous museums and cute French girls-James’ summer will now be populated by belligerent dads, stuffed pandas, and screaming kids high on cotton candy. Lucky for James, what should have been his worst summer ever turns into quite an adventure as he discovers love in the most unlikely place with his captivating co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart), and learns to loosen up.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig; Directed by: Greg Mottolalex Proyas
Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) has come to New York City with nothing. Barely earning a living selling counterfeit goods on the streets, his luck changes when scam artist Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) sees that he has a natural talent for streetfighting. When Harvey offers Shawn help at making the real cash, the two form an uneasy partnership.
As Shawn’s manager, Harvey introduces him to the corrupt bare-knuckle circuit, where rich men bet on disposable pawns. Almost overnight, he becomes a star brawler, taking down professional boxers, mixed martial arts champs and ultimate fighters in a series of staggeringly intense bouts. But if Shawn ever hopes to escape the dark world in which he’s found himself, he must now face the toughest fight of his life.
Cast: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Luis Guzman, Brian J. White, Flaco Navaja; Directed By: Dito Montiel
Synopsis: Inglourious Basterds begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema.
IGN.com give District 9 5 out 5 stars. Doesn’t get much better than that. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do yourself a favour and see it. Now either read the review or watch the video:
In truth, there is a downside to what we do here. In this online age of previews, reviews, trailers, clips, interviews, blogs and podcasts, we have traded the mystery of movies for the knowledge of their industry. Remember back to the pre-Web days, when trailers were merely 60-second edits of imagery and plot, when the darkness of a movie theater concealed the promise of some uncertain journey. This is how I saw District 9, having glimpsed nothing but a vague teaser trailer, having read no rumors, having scanned or examined or pondered not one single image. And whether this was the result of some poorly-executed marketing campaign or a brilliant strategy of secrecy, it was the best and most appropriate way to see it.
So let’s begin at the ending, starting with that final paragraph, the general summary which renders our verdict with nary a spoiler to be found. Read on for more if you choose, or come back after having seen the movie fresh, so long as you see it at all:
District 9 is a remarkable work and a truly benchmark science fiction film. Offering an expert balance of narrative, character, sub-text, action, effects and performance, Neill Blomkamp’s cinematic debut is the film that fans have been waiting years (or perhaps even decades) for. There is scale here, both grand and intimate. Its heroes are distinctive; it’s setting unique. Its action is spectacular and its drama is equal parts heartfelt and terrifying. Most importantly, it feels new. There is a mind at work in Blomkamp and District 9 is that rare celebration of science fiction that will undoubtedly help define the genre for years to come.
When a derelict alien spacecraft drifts into the skies above Johannesburg, South Africa, the world is stunned to find the remains of a dying alien population aboard. Brought down into a facility called District 9, the Prawns – as the humans refer to them – have had nearly 20 years to integrate into society, but racism and prejudice against the impoverished, shanty-town aliens steadily increases. The corporation MNU is developed to handle the human-alien relations and it is during an unprecedented attempt to relocate the more than one million alien residents that Wikus – little more than an Everyman pencil-pusher – is unwittingly made the key to the human’s ability to utilize the aliens’ DNA-encoded weaponry. On the run with an alien named Christopher Johnson, Wikus must find a way to make things right for both himself and the Prawns so that both species, alien and human alike, can return home.
District 9 is essentially an expanded version of Blomkamp’s short film Alive in Joburg — the short which got the attention of producer Peter Jackson and Blomkamp subsequently attached to the long-abandoned adaptation of Halo. Using the same documentary-style approach to the material, District 9 is incredibly grounded, making grand science fiction feel tremendously real. This is partly due to the fact that the special effects in the film are taken almost for granted. The massive alien ship hangs in the sky above the city like an afterthought, hazy and out of focus through the constantly shifting lens of the camera. The aliens – a triumph of computer animation and digital character work – feel fully a part of the universe, blurring the line between CG creations and human performers, the standout of which is Wikus himself, Sharlto Copley.
With no prior acting experience, Copley creates a wholly fascinating character. Just promoted by his father-in-law who runs MNU, Wikus wants nothing more than to get ahead, kissing ass and acting far more authoritative than his status allows. In fact, he’s relatively unlikeable. He’s a white-collar nobody, inconsequential to both the characters and the audience. And that Copley is able to transition Wikus into an increasingly sympathetic character as the film continues – still flawed, still evolving – is a testament to the actor’s raw talent. Equally impressive is Wikus’ growing bond with Christopher, demanding that Copley create a dynamic relationship with little more than thin air, a relationship without which the film simply doesn’t work. We’ve seen this attempted before in Jackson’s own films, with Gollum or King Kong, but never has it worked so well and to such emotional effect.
Needless to say, however, the genre requires some degree of action, and Blomkamp absolutely delivers. While District 9 begins as a character piece, exploring and growing this new alien-human world, the second half features some stunning action pieces. The alien weaponry which becomes such a driving force to the story is put on brilliant display with some disastrous effects to the human anatomy. This film definitely earns its R-rating once the fighting begins, and Blomkamp knows how to layer the film with bigger and bigger moments without completely disengaging from the reality he so successfully creates. For all the explosions, all the gore, all the lasers and giant, fully-equipped mech-suits, it all feels, oddly enough, completely authentic and totally plausible.
The best pieces of genre filmmaking – be they horror or sci-fi or fantasy – begin with an idea, some human and universal notion that audiences can take with them throughout the journey, either consciously or unconsciously. Sadly, this is so often lacking in most modern-day fare, and District 9 is almost wholly unique this year in combining fantastic action with thoughtful, narrative filmmaking. In the mainstream, there’s no reason this film should exist. Set in South Africa, no big stars, sub-titled alien dialogue, unlikely heroes, an unpolished documentary approach… And yet, the film works so well because of not in spite of all of that.
But herein lies the rub. The trouble with giving this film the five stars we’ve elected to give it is simply that it elevates expectations; it drives people to know more, filling their cinematic bellies before the main course even begins. Know only that the movie is good, it is important, it is strongly made. Let words like “great” and “brilliant” and “genre-defining” linger after the credits have rolled. Go to the film as empty as you can, and believe us, you’ll leave satisfied, and with the urge to book a return trip to District 9.
Release date: Friday December 4, 2009 Genre: Drama Director: Jim Sheridan Studio: Alliance Films Screenplay: David Benioff Producer(s): Joni Sighvatsson, Michael De Luca, Ryan Kavanaugh Cast: Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Bailee Madison, Taylor Grace Geare Official Site: Not Available Rating:R for language and some disturbing violent content. Available film art: Brothers movie posters
Synopsis When a decorated Marine goes missing overseas, his black-sheep younger brother cares for his wife and children at home—with consequences that will shake the foundation of the entire family.
BROTHERS tells the powerful story of two siblings, thirtysomething Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) and younger brother Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal), who are polar opposites. A Marine about to embark on his fourth tour of duty, Sam is a steadfast family man married to his high school sweetheart, the aptly named Grace (Natalie Portman), with whom he has two young daughters (Bailee Madison, Taylor Grace Geare). Tommy, his charismatic younger brother, is a drifter just out of jail who’s always gotten by on wit and charm. He slides easily into his role as family provocateur on his first night out of prison, at Sam’s farewell dinner with their parents, Elsie (Mare Winningham) and Hank Cahill (Sam Shepard), a retired Marine.
Shipped out to Afghanistan, Sam is presumed dead when his Black Hawk helicopter is shot down in the mountains. At home in suburbia, the Cahill family suddenly faces a shocking void, and Tommy tries to fill in for his brother by assuming newfound responsibility for himself, Grace, and the children.
But Sam is not dead; he and a fellow soldier have been captured by Taliban fighters. In Afghanistan’s harsh, remote Pamir Mountains, Sam is subjected to traumas that threaten to rob him of his very humanity. At the same time that Sam’s sense of self is being destroyed overseas, Tommy’s self-image is strengthening at home. And in the grief and strangeness of their new lives, Grace and Tommy are naturally drawn together. Their longstanding frostiness dissolves, but both are frightened and ashamed of the mutual attraction that has replaced it.
When Sam unexpectedly returns to the States, a nervous mood settles over the family. Sam, uncharacteristically withdrawn and volatile, grows suspicious of his brother and his wife. Their familiar roles now nearly reversed, Sam and Tommy end up facing the ultimate physical and mental challenge when they confront each other. In the shifting family dynamics, who will dominate? And how will the brothers come to terms with issues of love, loyalty, and manhood—and with the woman caught between them?
Release date: Friday September 25, 2009 Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Action Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes Director: Jonathan Mostow Studio: Touchstone Pictures Screenplay: Michael Ferris, John Brancato Producer(s): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Max Handelman Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, James Francis Ginty, Boris Kodjoe, Ving Rhames Official Site: chooseyoursurrogate.com Rating:PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene Available film art: Surrogates movie posters
Synopsis FBI agents (Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell) investigate the mysterious murder of a college student linked to the man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves—fit, good looking remotely controlled machines that ultimately assume their life roles—enabling people to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. The murder spawns a quest for answers: in a world of masks, who’s real and who can you trust?