Release date: Friday September 17, 2010 Wide Genre: Thriller, Drama, Suspense Running Time: 2 hr. 3 min. Director: Ben Affleck Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Producer(s): Graham King, Basil Iwanyk Screenplay: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper Official Site:thetownmovie.warnerbros.com Rating:R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use Available film art:The Town movie posters
Synopsis There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And a one-square-mile neighborhood in Boston, called Charlestown, has produced more bank and armored car robbers than anywhere in the U.S.
One of them is Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck), but he is not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. Unlike them, Doug had a chance at success, a chance to escape following in his father’s criminal footsteps. Instead he became the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers, who pride themselves on taking what they want and getting out clean. The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem (Jeremy Renner), who, despite his dangerous, hair-trigger temper, is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother.
However, everything changed on the gang’s last job when Jem briefly took a hostage: bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). When they discover she lives in Charlestown, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Jem is capable of, Doug takes charge. He seeks out Claire, who has no idea that their encounter is not by chance or that this charming stranger is one of the men who terrorized her only days before.
As his relationship with Claire deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town. But with the Feds, led by Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), closing in and Jem questioning his loyalty, Doug realizes that getting out will not be easy and, worse, may put Claire in the line of fire. Any choices he once had have boiled down to one: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.
Release date: Friday October 29, 2010 Wide Genre: Horror Director: Kevin Greutert Studio: LionsGate Entertainment Producer(s): Mark Burg, Oren Koules Screenplay: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton Cast: Tobin Bell, Gina Holden, Costas Mandylor Official Site:saw3dmovie.com Rating:R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and language. Available film art:Saw 3D movie posters
Synopsis As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror… The first theatrical feature to be shot exclusively on the cutting-edge SI-3D digital camera system, SAW VII 3-D brings the horrifying games of Jigsaw to life like never before.
Release date: Friday November 12, 2010 Wide Genre: Action Director: Tony Scott Studio: 20th Century Fox Producer(s): Mimi Rogers, Julie Yorn, Tony Scott Screenplay: Mark Bomback Cast: Chris Pine, Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson Official Site:unstoppable.com Rating:PG-13 for sequences of action and peril, and some language. Available film art:Unstoppable movie posters
Synopsis Denzel Washington and Star Trek’s Chris Pine star in this action thriller from director Tony Scott. The plot surrounds two locomotive operators who team up to stop a runaway train filled with explosives.
Ethan Hunt has just picked up a new Mission: Impossible team member — and he’s got a specialty in bombs.
Jeremy Renner, who starred in “The Hurt Locker,” has been cast opposite Tom Cruise in the next installment of “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which is aiming for a December 16, 2011 release date. Brad Bird is directing the Paramount project, with shooting expected to begin in the fall.
Renner has been on a tear since his Oscar nomination as a bomb-disposal tech in “Hurt Locker” earlier this year. Marvel Studios recently cast him as Hawkeye in its 2012 release, “The Avengers,” which is supposed to start shooting in February, and Paul Thomas Anderson wants him for his next film, “The Master.”
But the “M:I-4″ development is a curious one. As Paramount, Cruise and producer J.J. Abrams, who directed and co-wrote the previous installment, had discussed a new dynamic for the fourth film, the plan was for younger actors to join the M:I team as a hedge if they decided to reboot the series at some point with Cruise’s character absent or less central.
Renner is about to turn 40, which makes him just eight years younger than Cruise. If Renner has been cast as a potential successor, that undercuts the idea of carrying on the franchise as a more youthful enterprise.
Deadline New York first reported the Renner casting.
Renner next stars in Ben Affleck’s crime drama “The Town,” which Warner Bros. opens in three weeks.
These are the new movies that are being released in wide release this Friday.
The Last Exorcism
Rating: PG-13 for disturbing violent content and terror, some sexual references and thematic material.
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Synopsis: After a career spent helping the devout through prayer and trickery, Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) invites a film crew to document his final fraudulent days as an exorcist. Soon his faith is truly tested when a desperate plea from the father of a possessed girl (Ashley Bell) brings him face to face with the devil himself.
A horror film in the vein of “Cloverfield” and “Blair Witch Project”. The story concerns an evangelical minister who turns against religion and decides to participate in a documentary in which he practices his last exorcism.
Rating: PG-13 for Intense sequences of violence and action, a sexual situation/partial nudity and some language
Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes
Synopsis: Takers takes you into the world of a notorious group of criminals (Idris Elba, Paul Walker, T.I., Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen and Michael Ealy) who continue to baffle police by pulling off perfectly executed bank robberies. They are in and out like clockwork, leaving no evidence behind and laying low between heists. But when they attempt to pull off one last job with more money at stake than ever before, the crew may find their plans interrupted by a hardened detective (Matt Dillon) who is hell-bent on solving the case.
Everybody knows the trouble Mel Gibson has seen. Through it all, the 54-year-old persevered, then bounced back.
Edge of Darkness is his latest thriller, which opens on Jan. 29. An adaptation of Martin Campbell’s 1985 BBC series, the Campbell-directed film marks Gibson’s return as a movie star, his first major role since 2002′s Signs.
Certainly, the Hollywood industry will be watching to see how fans react to him in front of the camera post-controversies. They include allegations of racism associated with his 2004 worldwide independent hit film, The Passion Of The Christ, and his Malibu drinking-while-driving incident in 2006.
In Edge Of Darkness, Gibson portrays a Boston police detective who investigates the murder of his activist daughter. He ends up confronting an operative (Ray Winstone), and U.S. government agents, when he uncovers a string of conspiracies, all pointing towards the illegal production of nuclear weapons.
The revenge part is vintage Gibson, who comes across like a mature version of his classic roles defining the unpredictable action hero – from Mad Max to the Lethal Weapon films. And there’s more to come.
Besides, Edge of Darkness, Gibson headlines the upcoming comedy-drama called The Beaver with Jodie Foster directing and co-starring. “She’s a ballsy girl,” he says of his friend from their Maverick days.
By March, he’s set to start shooting How I Spent My Summer Vacation
. He’ll star in the picture and direct it, as he did with his Oscar-winning Braveheart.
“It (How I Spent My Summer Vacation) is something that I wrote with the first and the second AD (assistant director) on Apocalypto,” confirms Gibson, referring to his 2006 directorial effort. “We wrote this story about a gringo in a Mexican prison.”
He has lots more on his to-do list, which the affable and always hyper Gibson was enthusiastic to discuss during a recent sit down at a Santa Monica beachside hotel.
Q: Why did you take a break from acting?
A: I was a bit stale and I thought that it wasn’t ringing my bells. So I focused on directing and writing and producing and all that kind of stuff, and then it was time to come back. I got the acting bug back.
Q: Did you feel rusty on Edge of Darkness?
A: A little bit. Martin (Campbell) had to tell me to tone it down a couple of times because you forget levels. But I mean you don’t do something for thirty years, and just forget it.
Q: So do you feel the time away from acting was worth it?
A: Yeah, pretty much. Somebody told me once, ‘Go away, dig a hole, do something else.” I cannot qualify how exactly but I know that something happened. There’s nothing better than a vacation sometimes.
Q: There were some tough fight scenes in Edge Of Darkness. Did you have to prepare?
A: I ordered a chiropractor for the day after because I knew how I was going to feel. I knew that I was going to wake up (feeling) like roadkill, and I did. You don’t pop back the way you used to, but that’s OK so long as it looks good.
Q: Do you work out on a regular basis?
A: I don’t. I quit smoking so that’s something in the right direction. There are no more fun things left. I just don’t do anything fun anymore.
Q: Were you a big smoker?
A: My mother smoked, I think, when I was in her womb. When I first had one, when I was nine, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, yes. I missed this.’ Then 45 years later, after every single artistic decision, or any decision, I’ve done them with a cigarette.
Q: Back to Edge of Darkness. Were there other challenges besides the action sequences?
A: Look, every time you do something you wonder if you can do it. There’s no secret recipe for success. You’re either going to be excoriated or praised or somewhere in between – or both sometimes. It’s all a challenge, the whole gig is a challenge.
Q: Especially your Viking film. Is that still in the development phase?
A: Yeah. My first thought ever about being a filmmaker was when I was 16, and I wanted to make a Viking movie. I wanted to make it in Old Norse which I was studying at that time.
Q: Are going to do it in Old Norse?
A: I think it’s going to be in English that would’ve been spoken back then and Old Norse. I’m going to give it to you real, man.
Q: And the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio?
A: Oh, he’ll be great. He’s an amazing actor, this kid.
Q: And what about another Mad Max with director George Miller. Have you ruled out a cameo?
A: I’ve talked to George, yeah. We had a good chin wag. I kind of dropped out a bit, but I can’t wait to see it.
Release date: Friday April 16, 2010 Genre: Comedy Director: Neil LaBute Studio: Columbia Pictures, Screengems (Sony) Screenplay: Dean Craig Producer(s): William Horberg, Laurence Malkin, Chris Rock, Sidney Kimmel, Share Stallings Cast: Loretta Devine, Peter Dinklage, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, Martin Lawrence, James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Zoe Saldana, Columbus Short, Luke Wilson Official Site:sonypictures.com Rating:Not yet rated Available film art:Death at A Funeral movie posters
Synopsis A re-imagining of “Death at a Funeral,” the 2007 MGM comedy directed by Frank Oz. The plan is to make an ensemble comedy about a funeral ceremony that leads to the digging up of shocking family secrets, as well as misplaced cadavers and indecent exposure. While the original was set in Britain, the new film will take place in an urban American setting.
Read what Jim Vejvoda of ign.com has to say about James Cameron’s, “Avatar“. I saw it and I plan on seeing it again. It’s that good. Give yourself a Christmas present and see this one before it leaves the theaters; but see it 3D if at all possible.
The highly anticipated sci-fi epic Avatar centers on Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paralyzed former Marine who is offered an amazing opportunity after his twin brother dies. Recruited by a big faceless corporation (is there ever any other kind in a movie?), Jake travels to the distant world of Pandora, inhabited by the simple, indigenous Na’vi, blue-skinned humanoids who stand 9′ tall and have tails. Pandora is also home to a valuable mineral that could solve all of Earth’s energy problems … if only those pesky natives didn’t live on top of the richest deposits of it.
Since humans can’t breathe Pandora’s atmosphere, the company has created Avatars, in which human pilots use their consciousness to remotely-control a genetically engineered body that is a hybrid of Na’vi and human DNA. Jake’s deceased brother represented a big investment on the part of the Company, but since he shares the same genome as his twin Jake is offered to take his place as an Avatar driver. Gung-ho for action, Jake agrees and then has the pot further sweetened for him by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the scar-faced leader of the Company’s private military wing. Quaritch offers Jake a deal: he wants Jake, via his Avatar, to spy on the Na’vi, learn their ways and gain their trust so that he can convince them to “relocate” off their mineral-rich land. In return, Quaritch guarantees the Company will pay for the costly operation to cure Jake’s paralysis. Jake eagerly agrees, but a few months into the job finds himself “going native” after falling for Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a beautiful and fierce Na’vi who takes Jake into her tribe. Love and a guilty conscience, along with the realization that he has found a place to belong and call home, propels Jake, in his Avatar form, to switch sides and help the Na’vi make a stand against the increasingly violent encroachment of “the sky people.”
Wow. James Cameron pulled it off. I was a big skeptic about Avatar ever since I saw the promotional footage Cameron showed at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con; the effects, the characters, the hype — none of them were affecting me even though I really wanted them to. I suffered through every Delgo or FernGully or Dances With Wolves joke — and even made a few myself, I’ll admit — and remain shocked that we’re a week away from the movie’s release and no one in the general population seems to be buzzing about the movie let alone fully understands what the hell it’s about. But neither the film’s marketing nor the sizzle reel roadshow that 20th Century Fox and Cameron went on have done Avatar justice. You just have to see it to believe it.
On a technical level, Avatar is a landmark in motion picture history, a film that will be remembered 70 years from now as redefining the boundaries and possibilities of cinema much the way that D.W. Griffith’s films did. It helps audiences take a giant step forward in their suspension of disbelief in what is “real” onscreen, while raising the bar for what mass appeal genre movies can be and achieve. It also validates all the hype and investment in 3-D and motion-capture animation. And if all that sounds too good to be true, then just know that Avatar is a grand, glorious and kick-ass piece of entertainment, an old-fashioned movie gussied up by state of the art filmmaking. Does Cameron cannibalize from his own films here? Sure, you can’t help but think of Aliens (the presence of mech suits and Sigourney Weaver being the most obvious), but to dismiss the film out of hand on that basis would be narrow-minded. After all, every filmmaker poaches from their own work (Scorsese and Tim Burton spring to mind). Cameron simply knows what he does best, and he does all that and more in Avatar.
My apprehension about Avatar dissipated after the first 10 minutes, by which point I knew that I was in great hands. Cameron displays such confidence here that you’d never know it’s been almost 13 years since he’s released a feature film. He has done a Toklien-esque job of creating the world of Pandora, exploring its ecology and zoology and offering an almost anthropological study of the Na’vi. (I know that all sounds very pretentious and maybe even a bit boring to some, but Cameron manages to make it all an organic part of the story as everything on Pandora is connected; the balance of nature there is such that when one part of the environment is damaged or destroyed, everything else is affected by it.) Perhaps even more so than Dances With Wolves, Avatar reminded me of what Malick was attempting to do with The New World — an exploration of nature and a native culture couched in a culture clash/love story where the white hero falls for the chief’s daughter — but done far more effectively and excitingly. (Yes, Avatar is essentially a sci-fi version of the Pocahontas story.)
Still, don’t think that Avatar is some haughty, New Age-y message movie about environmentalism and the horrors and guilt of colonialism. It certainly is about all those things and much more, but it’s ostensibly a Western set in space crossed with an undercover/behind enemy lines story. Indeed, Avatar shows how tough it is to get a Western made in Hollywood these days: you’ve got to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, set it on another planet and shoot it in motion-capture in order to tell the story of the displacement and destruction of Native Americans. (Na’vi, native, get it?) The Na’vi are sort of a cross between the Sioux and the Cherokee. Their war whoops sound like those of Indians in old Westerns (perhaps too much so; even their “horses” sound, well, too much like horses). Quaritch is essentially Andrew Jackson, a tough old soldier driven to “relocate” the natives by any means necessary. “The Company” is the railroad, while “Unobtainium” (a real term) is akin to gold in the Black Hills or oil in Oklahoma.
For a Westerns fan, U.S. history buff, and sci-fi fanboy such as myself, Avatar offered an embarrassment of riches to geek out over. However, Avatar is also just as much a commentary on the state of the world (and imperialism) today as it is the past. Metaphorical nods to America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are loud and clear and undeniable. The film’s private military company is essentially Blackwater in space. There’s a scene of cataclysmic destruction that overtly suggests 9/11 and the World Trade Center. The terms “terrorists” and “shock and awe” are used. Yet Cameron never gets too lost in a political argument; he is, after all, a filmaker keenly aware of the need to keep domestic audiences happy if he’s to make commercially successful movies. So by making his tale an escapist fantasy, Cameron has swiped a page from the Red Scare playbook and used genre to cloak the tougher and more critical aspects of his message.
Of course, the film’s themes and subtext wouldn’t matter if we didn’t like the characters. Like District 9′s Wikus van de Merwe, Jake Sully is capable of both kindness and treachery and is out to save himself as much as he is the aliens. Avatar is the make or break Hollywood movie for Aussie actor Sam Worthington, especially after Terminator Salvation flopped, and he acquits himself well, striking a nice balance between callowness, ambition and guilt. As for the rest of the cast, Lang is a revelation as Quaritch; it’s tough to believe that this muscle-bound old soldier is the same actor who played cowardly Ike Clanton in Tombstone and the doughy, sleazy tabloid reporter in Manhunter. Sigourney Weaver brings grace (no pun intended) and wit to her role as cranky but goodhearted scientist Grace Augustine, and the darkly comic Giovanni Ribisi shines as the d-bag suit who represents The Company’s interests on Pandora. Worse than Paul Reiser’s corporate stooge in Aliens, Selfridge is a soulless, bigoted careerist who epitomizes the expression “the banality of evil.”
Saldana, hot off of Star Trek, is solid as Neytiri, but the Na’vi themselves are rather one-dimensional characters. Cameron recycles the stereotypical screen depiction of Native Americans, but sidesteps the thornier aspects of it somewhat by making them aliens. Still, the Na’vi are all types we’ve seen before in Westerns: the noble chief, the warrior princess, the earth mother, the tough brave who is the hero’s rival but ultimately comes to respect him. These archetypes (or stereotypes, if you want) coupled with such a familiar story is the film’s biggest drawback. It could be argued that given the fantastical premise of the film and its strange alien characters, it was probably necessary to employ a more traditional storyline, something relatable for an audience since there were enough other elements that could have possibly lost them. Still, if Avatar sequels happen then it would be nice to see the Na’vi given more depth and dimension as characters.
See proof that you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Books can (and will) be written on Avatar’s visual effects. Cameron and his team have achieved a stunning level of photo-realism in the environment and inhabitants of Pandora and of the mech suits and vessels of the humans. (One thought kept going through my mind during the climactic battle: James Cameron should direct the Halo movie.) He gradually introduces us to the various fantastical elements, allowing us time to let these things become real in our minds. For the most part, the yellow eyes of the Na’vi seem alive and expressive (a first for motion-capture characters, in my opinion), although there are a few times when Jake’s looked “dead” to me. The level of detail in the Na’vis’ skin, and in the vegetation and beasts of Pandora, is astounding. Not since seeing Star Wars as a little kid have I felt so completely and magically transported to such a strange, new world.
This gradual approach has its drawbacks, though, in that it contributes to the film’s bloated running time. This is a real bladder buster of a movie, and I’d be amazed if there were any deleted scenes of importance on the eventual DVD release. For example, the “learning to fly your dragon” sequence goes on far too long, with Cameron using it as a travelogue to show off Pandora — and all the nifty and costly CGI landscapes his team created — rather than to advance the story. That’s just one example, but the film definitely could have been tightened up. The running time and the overall formulaic nature of the story is what keeps me from giving Avatar a higher score.
To say that I was pleasantly surprised by Avatar is an understatement. My advice to you is to forget all that you think you know or believe about Avatar. Just go and experience the world of Pandora and revel in the fact that one of the most entertaining filmmakers of our time is back in action.
These are some of the movies arriving on DVD this Tuesday
Synopsis: A feisty septuagenarian teams with a fearless wilderness ranger to do battle with a vicious band of beasts and villains in this computer-animated adventure scripted by Pixar veteran Bob Peterson and co-directed by Peterson and Monsters, Inc. director Peter Docter. Carl Fredricksen is a 78-year-old balloon salesman. His entire life, Carl has longed to wander the wilds of South America. Then, one day, the irascible senior citizen shocks his neighbors by tying thousands of balloons to his home and finally taking flight. But Carl isn’t alone on his once-in-a-lifetime journey, because stowed away on his front porch is an excitable eight-year-old wilderness explorer named Russell. Later, as the house touches down on the world’s second largest continent, Carl and his unlikely traveling companion step outside to discover that not only is their new front lawn considerably larger, but that the predators therein are much more ferocious than anything they ever faced back home.
Cast: Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Edward Asner, Paul Eiding, Jordan Nagai; Directed by: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
The Ugly Truth
Synopsis: Katherine Heigl stars as a lovelorn television producer who’s made to run a gauntlet of romantic exploits by a pig-headed morning-show host (played by Gerard Butler) as a way to prove whose romantic methods are more accurate. Legally Blonde’s Robert Luketic directs from a script by Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith, and Nicole Eastman.
Cast: Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl, Cheryl Hines, Eric Winter; Directed by: Robert Luketic
The Accidental Husband
Synopsis: A radio talk-show host who specializes in repairing damaged relationships finds her life suddenly turned upside down when a listener who took her advice and later regretted doing so resolves to take revenge on the misguided love doctor. Uma Thurman, Colin Firth, Sam Shepard, and Isabella Rossellini star in a romantic comedy directed by Griffin Dunne.
Cast: Uma Thurman, Colin Firth, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sam Shepard; Directed by: Griffin Dunne