Synopsis: In this high-octane sequel, hitman Chev Chelios’ (Jason Statham) launches himself on an electrifying chase through Los Angeles in pursuit of the Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart.
Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Bai Ling, Corey Haim; Directed By: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Genres: Comedy Spoof
Synopsis: A rich, white girl from the suburbs finds herself on a series of misadventures when she moves to the mean streets of the inner-city.
Remember the early days of IMAX? Back when there were only three or four theaters, scattered across the major cities, each with some hour-long 3-D extravaganza? Remember how those movies were all some variation on two kids traveling back in time to the Paleolithic era, complete with sweeping shots of some breath-taking vista (like Africa by way of New Mexico) and the all-too-frequent T-Rex attack? Sure, the kids couldn’t act and the movie wasn’t so much a story as an excuse for the 3-D, but the presentation was decent, the format was inventive and the massive, face-sized glasses ensured that a sufficient amount of stuff leapt out at you across the screen.
I feel much the same way about The Final Destination. It’s not really a movie, or rather, it’s not a real movie, but it’s a hugely entertaining carnival ride of elaborate, three-dimensional bloodletting. It’s difficult to say whether the filmmakers took the 3-D format as permission to eschew things like story and performance, but beyond the non-existent narrative and uninspired acting, the kills are perfectly orchestrated to provide some gut-wrenching, laugh-inducing gore, all of which spatters back on the audience via the 3-D eyewear.
The story assumes that you know the drill by now. A bunch of attractive teenagers survive some horrible accident thanks to a random, psychic premonition only to be hunted down by the unstoppable force of Death which they so ironically avoided. The kind of mythology that used to take an entire movie to figure out is now communicated by a character saying, “We stayed up all night Googling death and premonitions and it works like this…” The Final Destination begins with a group of friends at a NASCAR event, one of whom, Nick, has the obligatory vision of a crash so implausibly epic that it causes a series of explosions resulting in the deaths of dozens by crushing, slicing, burning, impaling and decapitation by errant tire. And, of course, all of this happens through some extraordinarily in-your-face 3-D. The vision ends, the group runs out, taking a few other survivors with them, and the next 80 minutes is spent re-killing them in dynamic, though somewhat repetitive ways.
Where the first two movies, and to some degree the third, tried to expand upon the initial concept, adding layers of mythology and upping the cinematic ante, this film is content to give viewers more of the same, though in a way they’ve yet to experience. Whether this is enough for you depends entirely on your tastes, and while this critic would have liked to see the series explore a few of the bigger questions or attempt something different with the set-up, there’s certainly enough popcorn entertainment here to warrant the price of admission.
Director David R. Ellis returns from having crafted the second and most well-balanced chapter in the series – at least with regard to its kill-to-story ratio – but seems to struggle a bit with the execution. The balance is absolutely in favor of over-the-top, mindless fun, which is, for the most part, perfectly acceptable by Final Destination standards, but the kills aren’t nearly as inventive as in past films. The Rube Goldberg, mousetrap-esque nature of Death’s design was always the most interesting element of the series, but with this outing, one might as well put a counter at the bottom of the screen to clock the number of spilt liquids and gasoline trails that contribute to the death of our main cast. There are one or two memorable deaths – one involving a pool, the other an escalator – but there are an equal number of moments that borrow openly from past chapters, including the silent vehicle that strikes a joyous survivor or the aforementioned gasoline trails that always bend toward the fire. Were it not for the 3-D, which really makes each death play a bit better than it might have otherwise, the movie might easily have ranked as the least fulfilling of the series. But seen in the intended format and in the intended spirit, The Final Destination trumps the last chapter to rank as the franchise’s third-best entry.
While we suspect that this isn’t truly the final destination, we certainly hope that the next in the series will find some new creative ground or thematic area to explore. Because let’s face it, there’s only so much that one can do with stuff falling on other stuff that eventually ends up impaling somebody.
Release date: Friday August 28, 2009 Genre: Horror Running time: 106 min. Director: Rob Zombie Studio: Alliance Films, Dimension Extreme (The Weinstein Company Screenplay: Rob Zombie Producer(s): Malek Akkad, Rob Zombie, Andy Gould Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Daeg Faerch, Danielle Harris, Daniel Roebuck, Ezra Buzzington, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Jeffrey Daniel Phillips, Dayton Callie, Richard Brake, Matt Bush, Howard Hesseman, Bill Moseley, Caroline Williams, Brea Grant, Bill Fagerbakke Official Site: halloween2-movie.com Rating:R strong brutal bloody violence throughout, terror, disturbing graphic images, language, some crude sexual content and nudity Available film art: Halloween II (2009) movie posters
Synopsis It’s that time of year again, and Michael Myers has returned home to sleepy Haddonfield, Illinois to take care of some unfinished family business. Unleashing a trail of terror that only horror master Rob Zombie can, Myers will stop at nothing to bring closure to the secrets of his twisted past. But the town’s got an unlikely new hero, if they can only stay alive long enough to stop the unstoppable.
Release date: Friday October 23, 2009 Genre: Drama Director: Mira Nair Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Screenplay: Ronald Bass Producer(s): Kevin Hyman, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Ted Waitt Cast: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston Official Site:ameliaearhart.com Rating:PG some sensuality, language, thematic elements and smoking Available film art: Amelia movie posters
An extraordinary life of adventure, celebrity and continuing mystery comes to light in “Amelia,” a vast, thrilling account of legendary aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart (two time Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank).
After becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Amelia was thrust into a new role as America’s sweetheart – the legendary “goddess of light,” known for her bold, larger-than-life charisma. Yet, even with her global fame solidified, her belief in flirting with danger and standing up as her own, outspoken woman never changed. She was an inspiration to people everywhere, from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (Cherry Jones) to the men closest to her heart: her husband, promoter and publishing magnate George P. Putnam (Golden Globe® winner Richard Gere), and her long time friend and lover, pilot Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). In the summer of 1937, Amelia set off on her most daunting mission yet: a solo flight around the world that she and George both anxiously foresaw as destined, whatever the outcome, to become one of the most talked-about journeys in history.
Ten years in the making, the mammoth undertaking film “Avatar,” salutes James Cameron’s return to the director’s chair since he captained the highest grossing film of all time and won eleven Oscars® including Best Picture for 1997’s “Titanic.” With his new worldwide release of Avatar in December 18th 2009, speculations arise about breaking box office records and awards again. For Cameron fans, this means “Avatar” will open in the same weekend as his last 1997 mega hit film, almost 12 years to the day since the director’s “Titanic” set sail. With the $195 million budget behind making Avatar, the film poses to awe audiences with breath taking visuals and will also be taking advantage of being released unto 4,000 plus 3-D-ready screens in the U.S. So bring your 3-D spectacles and get in line.
There’s even a day named after the movie, called “Avatar Day.” It was the day that James allowed audiences to screen 16 minutes of the film in select theaters across the US on August 21st 2009 for free. One of those theaters included our very own, Regal Mall of Georgia I-Max cinema at 6:30 pm on the same day. The screening featured a brief introduction of the film by the director and brief scenes from the film that explains the story arc, all displayed in 3-D glory. If you’ve missed the screening you can catch up with it scene by scene from Atlanta movie examiner’s account of it, by clicking here.
Avatar Official Trailer
James Cameroon’s “Avatar” meaning “second life,” features an eco-parable of an ex-Marine’s mind genetically merged through a mental connection with the artificial creation of an alien body replica of the Na’vi. The result, through a program called “Avatar,” created a second life being who must survive his journey to come full circle and lead his indigenous people through an able epic battle between two worlds.
Considering that James has created yet another film that breaks the bounds of photo-realistic 3D imaging technology, there would be no surprise when box office sales reflect the coined “Cameron effect” within the mix. Beyond his ground breaking “Titanic,” the “Cameron effect” to films was coined originally from his visual representation of stories like “The Abyss,” Terminator parts 1+2,” and “Aliens.” Simply put, the director knows exactly what he wants and has a clear understanding of how to tell a story through the camera in a way that puts all audiences in awe. How does he do it? Here’s how.
The Cameron effect:
Jaw dropping environments: The manner in which Cameron stimulates audiences, is by creating a story all its own in a world outside the norm. Within the film “Avatar,” the alien world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters, supplement that formula as an escape outside our own world.
A Creative Story: Using a good story as the forefront of what moves every other element of filmmaking along to provoke interest. Without a good story, the only thing left is the disappointing hype of bells and whistles much like Ang Lee’s film “Hulk.”
Film Technology: In order to give audiences something they have never seen, James christens leading technology into the fold for creating new intuitive CGI. WETA Digital, best known for its work in “King Kong,” and “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,” aided the birth to life transformation for “Avatar.”
A Good Support System: In lots of cases, insufficient support can actually compromise a director’s vision. While James has a reputation of being a strict director, his previous final products spoke for themselves in a manner that allows him to find ample support financially and technically. For James, finding good support systems is not an issue. Everyone wants to be involved in a Cameron project.
The 52-year-old director, James Cameron, explains in his interviews below that he had conceived the project 10 years ago but had been waiting for technological advancements that will enable him to bring his vision to the big screen.
Release Date: December 18, 2009 (conventional 3D theaters and IMAX 3D Studio: 20th Century Fox Director: James Cameron Screenwriter: James Cameron Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Peter Mensah, Laz Alonso, Wes Studi, Stephen Lang, Matt Gerald Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Official Website: Avatarmovie.com
To understand just how Twilight-obsessed Stephanie Meiza is, you need only know this: she is 25, has three children under seven and two jobs, and is so taken by the vampire saga that “I almost got a divorce.
“And my husband hid the third book from me.”
Oh, and last weekend, she left the family behind in Colorado to fly to Vancouver and hit the streets looking for Edward Cullen.
“Meet at Blenz Coffee at 8:45 a.m. with your to-go mug, a camera and New Moon knowledge.”
With those orders from Christine Kilpatrick, we were off Saturday morning on a six-hour 220-kilometre Metro Vancouver vampire hunt.
Kilpatrick is owner of Twilight Tours Vancouver and is one busy operator these days, squiring fans about town in search of the bricks and mortar cinematic trail left in the wake of, among others, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, the young marquee actors who play Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, the dreamy-eyed star-crossed protagonists of Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster Twilight series.
As young adult sensations go, Twilight is the top dog du jour, and Meyer is this generation’s Anne Rice, her ghoulish literary empire – Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn – having sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, with Twilight the movie earning boffo box office in 2008 and New Moon, shot in Vancouver earlier this year, expected to do the same with its release Nov. 20.
And now the whole gang is back in town for the next two months, shooting series sequel Eclipse.
The tale is age-old: Edward is a vampire, Bella a mortal, and they are hopelessly entwined in a doomed yet everlasting love, enduring much tender bodice-ripping Romeo and Juliet tension as they battle outside forces along with their own demons.
If Meyer’s fertile literary imagination lit the Twilight fan fuse, and it did, it was the films – propelled by the brooding good looks of 23-year-old British actor Pattinson – that caused the pop culture explosion that is Twilight today.
And the whole thing, at least on the big screen, takes place right here in our own backyard, our dark rainy B.C. days and our lush damp verdancy the perfect stand-in for a teen thriller romance about blood and lust in small-town Forks, Wash.
Four Twi-hards – who’ve paid $139 each for the chance to be touched by magic movie dust – have joined Kilpatrick and myself on the Twilight trail.
There’s Karen Hadac, 46, and her 14-year-old daughter Robin from Seattle, along with Johnstown, Colo. best buddies Stephanie Meiza and Stephanie Hildreth, a 24-year-old newbie Twi-hard doing her best to support her crazed friend.
Kilpatrick, a mother of teens and a freelance journalist, is a veritable fount of Twi-knowledge, having visited the sets and worked the phone and the Internet and her close network of local contacts so well these past months that her impressive whirlwind tour of Twilight landmarks and locations takes us from Yaletown to the British Properties, south Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey and back to Yaletown.
She’s been doing this tour pretty much every day since June, enthralling fans from as far away as Spain, South Africa, Japan, Scotland, Australia and the Czech Republic with her behind-the-scenes stories, photo albums of the stars and the sets, and her intimate detail of all things vampiral.
We start in Yaletown, wandering by the restaurants and pubs frequented by the Twilight stars: Glowbal, where Pattinson celebrated his 23rd birthday, and the Blue Water Cafe, where the New Moon wrap party was held.
Then it’s off to the British Properties, where we pull up alongside the “Edward Cullen” house, a modern home set in a quiet wooded ravine.
Robin, who’s seen the Twilight movie 10 times, is thrilled, even though werewolf Jacob Black, played by hunky Taylor Lautner, is her favourite character, and she happily poses for photos on the street in the front of the house.
She began reading the books three years ago and got all her friends hooked.
“And their mothers,” laughs mom Karen.
On the long jags between the more than a dozen stops on the tour, Kilpatrick fills the time with tales about overzealous set containment security, about the “fan girls” who stalk the stars and try to crash the sets, about the professional autograph hounds and the dozen out-of-town paparazzi jostling with local freelancers, all hoping to catch a lucrative snapshot, like that taken recently of Pattinson and Stewart tete-a-tete at the Kings of Leon concert at GM Place.
This tour, though, is more about being discreet and less about stalking or “creepin'”, which is what some Twi-hards do, young girls mostly, using Tweets and blogs and social networking in a frantic daily scramble to track down set locations, hoping to catch of glimpse of Pattinson’s unwashed locks or Stewart’s grunge vibe or, omigod, maybe get a wave from Lautner behind a bodyguard phalanx.
We swing by the Vancouver Film Studios compound off Boundary, where the Twilight sets are made and where the trucks for wardrobe, cast and crew are stored, and Kilpatrick’s cellphone rings with the news that Pattinson and the gang (minus Stewart) were spotted having dinner Friday night at Boneta in Gastown.
“They’ve migrated,” says Kilpatrick, “from Yaletown to Gastown.”
On to the Central Park outdoor swimming pool, scene of Bella’s cliff jump, and then David Thompson secondary in South Vancouver to peek in the cafeteria windows, where much of the set decoration from last week’s Eclipse shoot is still up, including posters that say Time of Your Life Graduation and Forks High School.
From there it’s on to the Canadian Motion Picture Park in Burnaby, and the Paramount Theatre in New West, where Bella and her friends went to a movie, and where the “tourists” share favourite storylines of Newborns and Humans and Nomads and the Volturi and the wolf pack.
If there was a Twilight trivia contest, they’d be in the blue ribbons.
Kilpatrick is something of an entrepreneur and rightly sensed a demand for a Twilight tour, and today she takes out up to 12 fans at a time by van, as well as two-person private tours, like the mother and her daughter with cerebral palsy, who came up from Seattle last week and lucked out when they caught some Eclipse set action.
And while the tour is as much about Metro Vancouver sights, it’s Kilpatrick’s tips about celebrity spotting, and her news that “Robsten” is staying at the Sheraton Wall Centre that has them, literally, hanging on her every word.
We’re in Coquitlam, standing on a rural road in front of a ramshackle homestead, which is where the character Jacob Black, who is a werewolf and also loves Bella, lived with his dad in New Moon. Word is the cast will be back on site in a few weeks shooting for Eclipse, but for now it’s just a little red house and a red barn in a field.
More photos, and more excited chatter and then we’re back in the van because, in true cinematic style, Kilpatrick has saved the best for last.
It’s the Bella house, a two-storey white clapboard movie-set home built to match exactly the real Portland house used in the first movie.
It’s perched, Styrofoam chimney and all, on the edge of a forested Surrey park, most of it shrink-wrapped, and all of it behind a high barbed wire fence, alarms and surveillance cameras blinking.
It was used in the New Moon shoot, and Kilpatrick found it after hearing a vague reference to its location on the radio. She did a three-hour, street-by-street grid search until she finally turned a corner and there it was.
Someone has been watering the lawn at the house, and Kilpatrick thinks that means they’re getting ready for Eclipse filming, and she’ll be the first to know, because she brings fans out here most every day.
We get out to take pictures, and set off the alarms, but there is no one around, and so we go into the nearby forest, to what looks like the exact spot where they filmed Edward, in a wrenching farewell scene, abandoning a heartbroken Bella.
The Twilight tourists are spellbound. It’s this stop that, they say in unison, that “makes it all seem so real.”
So, what’s with Twilight, you ask.
“I’m just flat-out obsessed,” says Meiza.”
“I just like seeing Stephanie flip out,” says Hildreth.
“It’s not the vampires so much,” says Robin. “I just like the dark love story, and I like action.”
And, finally, from mom Karen, a Twilight fan but also a grateful parent:
“Stephenie Meyer got my daughter to read.”