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Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Star Trek Into Darkness Images

Star Trek Into Darkness, new high definition images come courtesy of Empire Magazine.


In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness. When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.


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Best Movie Moments Of 2012. There Are Some Good Ones

Look at your favorite movies of all time, and there's guaranteed to be a scene which won you over - Darth Vader emerging from the doorway in Episode IV, or Gandalf's battle with the Balrog Demon in FOTR. 2012 gave us similar moments in a year that saw some of the best films in awhile. From teddy bears to time travel, corporate hedge managers to avengers, here's our top movie moments:

Top 15 Films Of 2012. That's Right 15


"Diet by The Zec" in Jack Reacher 

Thrillers always seem to feature a lesser thug being punished for not successfully hurting the main character. The result is usually a standard bullet to the brain; but Jack Reacher takes it to a new level. As local thug Linsky (Michael Raymond-James) answers to the shadowy figure later called "The Zec" (Werner Herzog), the boss gives Linsky two unthinkable options: bullet to the head, or prove his total dedication by eating his own fingers. Soon, The Zec shares in chilling detail how he was forced to eat his own appendages while in a Serbian jail, thus granting him the title 'prisoner.' It's a great scene, and Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie (Usual Suspects) milks it for every uncomfortable moment that he can. The result is several seconds of pure anxiety for the audience before Linsky makes his decision.


Opening to Seven Psychopaths

As two hitmen wait for their next victim to arrive, they get into a spirited debate about the best way to kill someone, when a third person in a Mexican wrestling mask comes from behind to pop both of them. It immediately sets the tone for this wacky and violent comedy starring Collin Ferrell, Christopher Walken, and Sam Rockwell. Seven Psychopaths made it into our most overlooked films of 2012 for scenes like this. Who's the killer? You'll have to rent it this month to find out.


Game of Riddles from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 

While I wasn't thrilled by The Hobbit, one scene in particular made the whole film worthwhile: the Game of Riddles. In this scene, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is introduced to the CGI character Gollum (Andy Serkis), who challenges him to unlock a series of riddles which Bilbo must answer correctly or die by Gollum's hand. Always a fan favorite, Gollum looks better than ever, as Serkis does a masterful job of expressing the deep conflict raging within him, all the while trying to rebufff Bilbo's increasingly difficult riddles. When Gollum realizes that the ring is gone, he launches into a frenzy to find it, ending the game and giving Bilibo the chance to escape. Gollum won't make an appearance again in The Hobbit series, so hopefully Director Peter Jackson will craft more equally memorable scenes for Bilbo and company.


Avengers Assemble and 'Puny God' from The Avengers

If there was ever a film that matched every expectation that I had, it was The Avengers. Filled with memorable comedic moments and terrific action sequences, the Joss Whedon-directed epic featured two instantly classic scenes. Called a 'tracking shot," the Avengers assemble after The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) smashes one of the Chitauri troop transporters, setting off Alan Silvestri's now-famous marching theme. It honestly gave me the chills watching such a perfect scene unfold, mostly because it was so unexpected given how the scene was playing out. Even though we saw it as part of the trailers, it nonetheless was so much more gratifying seeing it connected to the total story. We couldn't talk about The Avengers without mentioning the 'Puny God' exchange between Hulk and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). As Loki attempts to quell the beast while in Stark's livingroom, The Hulk answers in the only way he can: by smashing Loki into the ground. Righteous.


End Scene in Arbitrage 

In one of the most underrated films of the year, Richard Gere plays Robert, an investment banker who must try to sell his company before the FTC finds out he bilked millions to cover the bills, all the while dodging a murder investigation involving he and his girlfriend. Needless to say, his wife Ellen (Susan Saradon) soon find out about the affair, and it seems like Robert's goose is cooked. Somehow, he manages to clean up every mess including the sale of his company, which he is soon rewarded by with a humanitarian statue. As the final scene unfolds, Director Nicholas Jarecki closes up on Gere's face as he's about to speak. Will he spill the beans ala Denzel Washington's Flight, or will he rattle off another prepared speech? You decide, but enjoy this well-made thriller.

"Thunder Buddy Song" and "White-Trash Girlfriend"

List from Ted Seth MacFarlane delivered the best comedy of the year about a teddy bear who soon learns how to talk and (later) misbehave. In one scene, his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) sits on the couch rattling off in quick succession the names of various women he's dated. In another, Ted and John comfort each other during a thunderstorm by singing the instant classic "Thunder Buddy Song." If you've had a bad day and just need a good laugh, check out Ted.

Self-Cesarean Scene from Prometheus 

The Alien franchise has always featured an uncomfortable 'birthing' scene from a human host; but Ridley Scott's prequel Prometheus took that to a new and more extreme level. Whether we truly understand how the alien organism/bacteria was transmitted into her, we soon learn that Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) becomes impregnated with said alien organism. Determined to remove the fast-growing squid-like creature from inside her, Shaw climbs into a "surgery pod" for a C-section. It's the scene everyone's talking about, and yet it made several people in our test audience leave the theater. It's one of those scenes you can't avert your eyes from, because you're so interested in whether Shaw will make it out alive.

"Listen to My Words' from The Watch 

If Ted hadn't been such a huge success, The Watch would have been our Number 1 comedy of the year. Set in a neighborhood of white picket fences, The Watch tells the story about 4 neighbors who band together to form a neighborhood watch. Later, Jonah Hill and Ben Stiller question a high school skater about an incident, forcing the boy to listen to each of them as they ask their questions simultaneously. The ad-libbed scene soon becomes a match over which person the skater will ignore. Check out the scene on YouTube.

The Colonel's Role Revealed in Men in Black 3

Once stuck in development Hell, we finally got a third Men in Black this year that proved to be the best of the series. Near the end, Agent J (Will Smith) comes face to face with Colonel James Edwards, who J will soon learn is his long-lost father. However, J cannot stop these events from unfolding and is forced to watch his father gunned down. He learns that the reason why he can't remember his father is because his memory was wiped by Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) soon after the tragic event. It's a touching and fitting end to the film, returning the entire Men in Black storyline to its origins.

Guy Pearce Beatdown in Lawless 

Lawless is another film that made our most overlooked list of 2012. A story about moonshine runners during the Prohibition Era, the Bronderant boys stand head and shoulders among the rest in Franklin County Virigina, that is until the county DA (Guy Pearce) enters the picture to end their reign. Among my favorite scenes is the now classic beatdown Pearce lays on the youngest brother (Shia LaBeouf), by grabbing the boy's head and punching it several times in rapid succession. And that's only one small section of the scene, which demonstrates the intensity to which Pearce approached the role. Pearce portrays a dark character with such bravado that I hope he nails an Oscar nomination for his efforts. Add to that great acting by Tom Hardy and an appearance by Gary Oldman, and it's a film not to be missed.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

MONSTERS, INC. Ultimate Collector’s Edition Coming Soon

Available To Own For The First Time On 5-Disc Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” — Debuts February 19, 2013

Monsters, Inc.,” one of Disney•Pixar’s most beloved and visually imaginative feature films, arrives for the first time on Blu-ray 3D in the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” 5-Disc Combo Pack on February 19, 2013. In addition to hours of delightful bonus features, the “Monsters, Inc.” Blu-ray 3D “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” features a sneak peek at the upcoming all-new Disney•Pixar release “Monsters University.”

The now-classic Academy Award®-winning animated comedy adventure “Monsters, Inc.” is set in Monstropolis, a thriving company town where monsters of all shapes and sizes reside. Lovable Sulley (voiced by John Goodman) and his wisecracking best friend Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) are the top scare team at Monsters, Inc., the largest scream-processing factory. The main power source in the monster world is the collected screams of human children—and at Monsters, Inc., an elite team of scarers is responsible for gathering those precious natural resources.

Believed by monsters to be toxic, children are strictly forbidden from entering Monstropolis. But when a little girl named Boo (voiced by Mary Gibbs) accidentally follows Sulley back into his world, he finds his career in jeopardy and his life in utter chaos. Assisted by Mike, the two pals plot to rectify the mistake and return Boo to her home. When the trio encounters an unexpected series of complications, they become embroiled in a cover-up catapulting them into a mystery beyond their wildest dreams.

 Directed by Oscar®-winner Pete Docter (“Up”) and produced by Oscar nominee Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), “Monsters, Inc.” features a screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson and music by Randy Newman.

Cast: John Goodman as the voice of James P. Sullivan “Sulley”
Billy Crystal as the voice of Mike Wazowski
Mary Gibbs as the voice of Boo
Steve Buscemi as the voice of Randall Boggs
James Coburn as the voice of Henry J. Waternoose
Jennifer Tilly as the voice of Celia
Bob Peterson as the voice of Roz
John Ratzenberger as the voice of The Abominable Snowman 
Frank Oz as the singing voice of Fungus
Director: Pete Docter
Co-directors: David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Executive Producers: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Original Story By: Peter Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon and Ralph Eggleston Blu-ray Contents: Disney Enhanced HD Picture and Sound “Monsters University” Sneak Peek Toy Story Toons: “Partysaurus Rex” “For The Birds” Short “Mike’s New Car” Short Filmmakers Round Table Audio Commentary Roz’s 100 Door Challenge Game Pixar Fun Factory Tower Banished Concepts DVD Contents: Audio Commentary Street Date: February 19, 2013 Direct Prebook: December 25, 2012 Distributor Prebook: January 8, 2013 Rating: “G”in the U.S. and Canada Bonus material is not rated Feature Run Time: Approx. 92 minutes Suggested Retail “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” 5-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack Prices: (Blu-ray 3D + 2 Blu-ray Discs + DVD + Digital Copy) $49.99 U.S. and $56.99 Canada 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (2 Blu-ray Discs + DVD) $39.99 U.S. and $46.99 Canada Aspect Ratio: Blu-ray 3D: 1.85:1 1080p High Definition Blu-ray: 1.85:1 1080p High Definition DVD: 1.85:1 Sound: Blu-ray 3D: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX; French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus Blu-ray: English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX; French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus DVD: English 5.1 Dolby, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital Subtitles: Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD: English, French and Spanish

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3 New Posters For THE HOST

LOVE, BELIEVE, or FIGHT…the choice is yours. Check out 3 new posters for Open Road's upcoming film THE HOST, based on the best-selling novel by Stephenie Meyer, the author of The Twilight Saga.

Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST Trailer-


From Stephenie Meyer (author of The Twilight Saga) comes The Host, a love story set in the future, where Earth is occupied by a species who erase the minds of their human hosts, leaving their bodies intact. Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) is one of the last surviving humans who fights back, risking her life for the people she cares about most – Jared (Max Irons), Ian (Jake Abel), her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and her Uncle Jeb (William Hurt) – proving that love can conquer all.

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Hollywood Classics Series Continues At Cinemark

Fully Restored, Hollywood Classics Series Continues on the Big Screen at Select Cinemark Theatres During the Months of January and February 2013

Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), the world’s highest attended motion picture exhibitor, is pleased to announce that their highly successful “Classics Series,” featuring six legendary Hollywood movies, will continue in over 150 Cinemark theatres across the country. All of these digitally restored movies will be scheduled to play during the months of January and February, at two separate show times, 2 pm and 7pm.

“Our Classic Film Series has continued to be very popular for our customers,” states James Meredith, VP of Marketing & Communications for Cinemark. “This next group of films features many that we have had requests to bring back to the big screen.”

Cinemark has selected six titles that were visionary films at their time of release, and still stand as true “classics” in every sense of the word. The list of films and dates of their presentation are:

Wednesday, January 2: 2001: A Space Odyssey Rated G
Wednesday, January 9: Rocky Rated PG
Wednesday, January 16: The Sound of Music Rated G
Wednesday, January 23: To Catch A Thief Not Rated
Wednesday, January 30: Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid Rated PG
Wednesday, February 6: Saturday Night Fever Rated R

Cinemark takes pride in creating the best entertainment experience in the industry. In order to make movie-going as easy and enjoyable as possible, Cinemark focuses on offering more choices to their customers. For example, “Print at Home” ticketing, available at www.cinemark.com, makes it easy for patrons to purchase tickets in advance from the comfort of their home or office. Customers can bypass lines at the box office and go directly to a kiosk in the theatre lobby. Also, guests can download and purchase tickets through Cinemark’s mobile applications that are available for iPhone and Android phones. Finally, to stay connected, customers can sign up online to receive free, weekly showtime e-mailers that contain online coupons for discounts at the concession stand and other weekly special offers.

A full list of participating Cinemark locations, advance ticket purchases and show time information can be found at www.cinemark.com

About Cinemark Holdings, Inc. Cinemark is a leading domestic and international motion picture exhibitor, operating 461 theatres with 5,207 screens in 39 U.S. states, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and 10 other Latin American countries as of September 30, 2012.For more information go to investors.cinemark.com

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New A Good Day To Die Hard Trailer

Since the new Die Hard outing is set in Russia, we feel Chekhov himself – the writer, not the Enterprise ensign – would be forced to adapt his famous maxim to “If there is a car/building/helicopter in the first act, it will explode later in the film.” That certainly holds true for A Good Day To Die Hard’s latest trailer.

The fifth instalment finds Bruce Willis’ John McClane heading to Russia to help wayward son Jack (Jai Courtney). But what our hero doesn't initially realise is Jack is more than just a chip off the old block: he’s a covert CIA operative now under threat from a very nasty villain who has his fingers in some extremely unsafe pies

So the endlessly frustrated NYPD veteran will have to find common ground with his estranged sprog, and let’s just say that the bonding time doesn’t involve many hugs or group therapy sessions. No, guns, grenades and jumping out of exploding towers are the order of the day here.

We’re offered some fresh footage to supplement shots we’ve already seen and it makes us think director John Moore and writer Skip Woods have decided to ratchet the madness up another few degrees. Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia! Well, quite.

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Everything Wrong With The Dark Knight Rises

We just love the guys at CinemaSins with their awesomely cool (and hilarious) videos that show us everything wrong with some of the hit movies we've seen this past year, including The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers. Unsurprisingly, they've now set their lofty sights on The Dark Knight Rises.

So once again, in a video that's three and a half minutes long, you can now have a look at what they thought was wrong with director Christopher Nolan's final Batman opus and—once again—the guys point to some pretty important plot holes and glaring mistakes that riddled the hit summer film.

So without further ado, just have a look at another completely hilarious video!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top 5 Most Overlooked Films Of 2012

There is the old adage that time waits for no one - how true this is with our modern film industry.  With hundreds of films released every year by major studios and independent shops, it's impossible to see every film that hits your local theater.  Still others suffer from the fate of a poorly-envisioned marketing campaign, or worse are granted no campaign at all.  Call them what you will, but these 'overlooked' titles still have value and probably deserve a second glance.

Even though we were lucky to be invited to 65 films this year, it was clear by December that we hadn't seen everything of value.  But with home releases now available in almost any format, catching up on some of the most overlooked titles is fairly easy.  

Here now are the top 5 most overlooked films of 2012.  Our titles are mostly first-run films filled with A-List actors, but you'll find some real independent gems in here as well.  This list is purposely presented out of order.


Haywire (Dir. Steven Soderbergh)
Although Soderbergh had a massive hit this year with Magic Mike, he really deserved two. MMA fighter Gina Carano was introduced to audiences as one tough female assassin, content to drop kick or shoot you rather than talk.  She did a lot of ass-kicking on the likes of Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, and just about every male co-star in this film.   Performing all of her own stunts, while looking killer in a black party dress, Carano showed that tough cage fighters can look good dispensing swift justice.  Haywire felt extremely realistic, content to allow the action to dictate the scene, rather than being led by the typical electronic drum beat.  Soderbergh doesn't make bad films, and considering the star power he's amassed, it was shocking to learn that duds such as The Guilt Trip, Cloud Atlas, and Alex Cross did better at the box office.  Give this film a chance and you won't be let down.


Lawless (Dir. John Hillcoat) 
Of the films on this list, Lawless is probably the hardest to explain why it was overlooked. It features one of the best casts of the year - Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Guy Pearce - and Director Hillcoat creates the perfect environment to tell his period piece about Appalachian bootleggers during the Prohibition Era. Pearce is simply creepy as the dandily-dressed County DA who enjoys rough sex and the power that comes with his position.  For proof of his work, check out the ass-kicking Pearce delivers on the vain and powerless LaBeouf in Act 1.  Lawless goes beyond the typical violence to deliver a powerful story about a system so corrupt that even the cops were taking handouts to keep quiet.  Chastain's full frontal scene doesn't hurt the film as you might expect.  Lawless is well acted and certainly worth your time.


Seven Psychopaths (Dir. Martin McDonagh)
There's two things that stand out with Psychopaths: it never made it to more than 1,500 theaters (thus contributing to its poor performance), but its lead characters were as rich any others we saw in 2012.  I loved the wacky nature of the script about a failed writer (Colin Farrell) who enlists the help of his psychotic friend (Sam Rockwell) and a former hitman (Christopher Walken) to help juice up his long-tabled idea of a modern-era Magnificent Seven. Woody Harrelson also makes an appearance as a local crazed thug and owner of a dog stolen by Rockwell and Walken to be returned for a ransom.  I hope this film gains the cult following it deserves when it's released on Blu-ray in January. 


For A Good Time Call... (Dir. Jamie Travis)
Simply put, Time is one of the funniest, most irreverent movies of 2012.  Actor/Co-writer Ari Graynor teams up with co-writer Lauren Miller to create a film about two women who sell their bodies over a homemade phone sex line.  There's a few cameos dropped in for good measure, and the general wackiness factor is matched only by the sheer amount of sex toys and raunchy talk these two girls employ.  Time is also a good movie about the intricacies of  female friendships and the single-mindedness of men to 'hit that' and move on.  It's a sly and deliciously-paced romp from the get-go and should not be missed.


The Raid: Redemption (Dir. Gareth Evans)
Of the most violent movies of 2012, The Raid: Redemption has to top that list.  It's hard to explain the film as anything but 101 minutes of pure adrenalin pumped into your eyes and ears.  The fight scenes are some of the most memorable of all time, involving a style of fighting called "Pencak Silat" that's one part ballet, another part pure ass-kicking.  This film was in limited release for all of about 10 minutes, never gaining the foothold it so richly deserves.  If you and your posse have time, you cannot miss The Raid.  It will easily become your favorite mixed-martial arts movie of all time.

Do you have a favorite movie that bombed in 2012?  

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The 10 Worst Films Of 2012

With every Top 15 movie list, there is the inevitable Worst Movie List - like an unwanted by-product of a good thing, it's almost a guarantee that for every winner in Hollywood, there's a loser.  2012 was one of the best years for films in recent memory, with mega-hits that also met with critical acclaim.  Films like The AvengersThe Dark Knight Rises,Looperand Skyfall proved that sometimes Hollywood actually knows what it's doing.  But 2012 also brought us some of the worst films of all time, many of which disappeared quietly after a big media march and others that dug their own holes by creating such negative reaction to its content.  


To be clear, we determined our list based on our own personal standards for taste or interest.  We also looked at major Hollywood releases, not those which were shot by independent companies.  If A-listers made and distributed it, we considered it.  Click on the movie title above each synopsis to read our full review.  Films that just missed the cut included The Possession, Parental Guidance, and Paranormal Activity 4. Other films, such as Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, Here Comes the Boom, and Guilt Trip were intentionally skipped because they were either not included in our screening schedule or conflicted with other events.  Had we been forced to attend those screenings, our list would have been considerably longer, and our gray hairs immeasurably more pronounced.

While it pains us to show them, here's our list for the Worst Movies of 2012.  May their names never be spoken again:


10. Seeking A Friend for The End of the World (Dir. Lorene Scafaria)
Plot: As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: If there was ever anything more boring than watching slideshows of someone's travel to Europe, Friend would have a good chance of competing.  With a budget of just $10 million, Steve Carell and Keira Knightley had zero chemistry, and the story by Safaria was DOA.  You know a film is bad when a major website in charge of keeping performance numbers for all Hollywood films ended their tracking just two weeks after its release.  By film's end, you just wanted everyone to die from the asteroid collision so you can move on from the experience.  And that's not the worst thing we heard about it during our screening.


9. Dark Shadows (Dir. Tim Burton)
Plot: An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: Why is it that Johnny Depp seems so content to play the same character in nearly every film in which he and Burton are attached? Ever since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we've seen several mailed-in performances from the actor, and his most recent collaboration with Burton is flat, dull, and missing any ounce of memorable humor.  The only redeemable factor is Eva Green, whose sexy appeal and lace-up boots provide the only relief from what was a terrible film.  With a production budget of $150 million and a box office haul just over $78 million, Dark Shadows failed to resonate with moviegoers who have also seemed to tire of the same shtick from Depp and Burton.  Given the poor showings of Alice in WonderlandFactory, and now Shadows, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate the relationship? 


8. John Carter (Dir. Andrew Stanton)
Plot: Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: John Carter is a perfect example of how sometimes Hollywood is completely out of touch with consumers.  Ladled with a big production budget ($250 million), the film was poorly marketed by failing to reach its core audience (which we're still not sure who that was), and was based on a classic novel that no one knew.  Its box office performance was less than a third of its budget, representing one of the biggest financial flops of all time.  Actor Taylor Kitsch failed to keep audience attention, although he spent most of the film shirtless.  The beautiful Lynn Collins was nice to look at, but with an altered story that included a giant fast slobbering dog, no one was going to help this picture.  When dramatic scenes meant to inspire awe lead instead to audience laughter, you know you have a dud on your hands.  If that was John Carter's intent, then mission accomplished.  


7. What To Expect When You're Expecting (Dir. Kirk Jones)
Plot: A look at love through the eyes of five interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver what's expected. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: Ensemble films are difficult horses to manage: directors and writers have to find equal places for each star to have their time, but also be wary of runtime and audience buy-in.  What to Expect did none of these particularly well, choosing cuteness and raunchy gags over any semblance of a connected narrative.  Elizabeth Banks supplies the only memorable comedy as an expecting mother who gets more than she bargained for during her pregnancy.  Our male actors such as Chris Rock (HUH?) feel wildly out of place, making us wonder how he ever became attached to such a dubious project.  Maybe it's because I don't have children, but Shauna Cross's screenplay stumbles out of the gate and never gains enough traction.  The film made back its $40 million budget, but that shouldn't be any indication of its success.


6. Battleship (Dir. Peter Berg)
Plot: A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.(via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: Actor Taylor Kitsch starred in two of the biggest bombs of 2012, including this fiasco.  With a staggering $209 million budget, Battleship only took in $65 million, with Director Berg surrounding Kitsch with poor talent, including the worst casting of the year in Rihanna.  While Transformers had a loyal following prior to its release, the only fans of Battleship were those kids from the 70's who liked placing red markers onto plastic ships because we had nothing else better to do.   Writers Jon and Erich Hoeber create a world filled with water-based versions of transformers and alien soldiers who look just like Master Chief from Halo, and served up scenes that tried to look like Top Gun but fell completely on its face.  Abandon ship!

See who has the worst film of the year after the Jump...

5. Five Year Engagement (Dir. Nicholas Stoller)
Plot: One year after meeting, Tom proposes to his girlfriend, Violet, but unexpected events keep tripping them up as they look to walk down the aisle together. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: Talk about dull - writers Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller craft a film that's hard to sit through.  Filled with too many awkward and unfunny moments, test audiences responded by leaving the theater and spreading plenty of bad publicity about the film.  Based on its paltry $28 million performance (budgeted at $30 million), it sounds like prospective moviegoers followed their lead.  Not even Segal and Emily Blunt felt right together - as the film fast-forwards five years and Segal emergences from a tent sporting a beard and weighing 50 pounds heavier, we realize that this 124-minute monstrosity is sucking us down with it.  Yikes.


4. Cloud Atlas (Dirs. Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski)
Plot: An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.(via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: This unbelievably bad effort is so awful I don't know where to start.  Actors Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant do their best with David Mitchell's novel which was sculpted into a screenpplay by Lana Wachowski (formerly Larry); but at 172 minutes it's more long-winded than my reviews.  Filled with too much time travel and muttered futuristic dialogue, Cloud Atlas made us want to stand up, shake the screen, and shout "Have you no mercy!"  The Wachowskis have kept their budget a secret, but its $28 million box office tells it all: Cloud Atlas is terrible.


3. The Cabin in the Woods (Dir. Drew Goddard)
Plot: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: Before we loved Whedon for his masterful The Avengers, he was just another Hollywood hack who couldn't get a film released, even as a writer.  Having sat on the shelf for two years, The Cabin in the Woods was only released based on the enormous buzz surrounding The Avengers.  We can see why: a bore-fest from the start and filled with poor talent surrounding Chris Hemsworth in his debut, Cabin was predictable and poorly executed.  Granted, some audiences didn't 'get' the silliness inherent in the script, but it also helps when you create something that people can relate to.  Cabin failed miserably in that regard.  But much like a golfing mulligan, we're ready to give Whedon a 'pass' for Cabin.  Don't screw this up again, dude!


2. American Reunion (Dirs. Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg)
Plot: Jim, Michelle, Stifler, and their friends reunite in East Great Falls, Michigan for their high school reunion. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: It's amazing to me that the horrible American Reunion actually made a $6 million profit; the thought of even one person wasting their money on this POS might suggest they were forced to attend after losing mean-spirited bets.  There is literally nothing of worth or mention occurring in this film, except that we're supposed to love the 'growth' of these once childish characters who now deal with problems surrounding family and marriage.  Why you would need two directors for a project this unappealing is beyond me.  Actors Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan are unfunny in their returning roles, and Seann William Scott's once highly-effective comedic shtick has been done better since the last time he played Stifler.  The script by Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz feels like true Hollywood sellout, content to cash in on past success by offering nothing inventive along the way.  To any of you who actually paid money to see it, I think you should demand a refund.


1. That's My Boy (Dir. Sean Anders)
Plot: While in his teens, Donny fathered a son, Todd, and raised him as a single parent up until Todd's 18th birthday. Now, after not seeing each other for years, Todd's world comes crashing down when Donny resurfaces just before Todd's wedding. (via IMDB)
Why We Hate It: If you read my initial reviewyou know how much I hated this movie; and while I realize that the word 'hate' is strong, it entirely fits this film.  Utterly lacking in any sort of socially-redeeming value, and one of the only films I could ever attach the word 'excrement' to, Boy hits the skids early with typical Adam Sandler low-brow humor (teens having sex behind a high school play) and goes down from there (sex with grandmothers).  When the climax of the film features Andy Samberg realizing that his fiancee Leighton Meester has been engaged in a long-term relationship with her brother, you know you're in the middle of Hell.  How writer David Caspe and Sandler got anyone to finance, let alone distribute it will be one of the great and long-standing Hollywood mysteries.  That's My Boy is truly one of the worst films of all time, and takes our Number 1 spot by a clear margin.

There you have it: the worst of the worst for 2012.  Having revisited them, I feel like I need a shower.  

In the meantime, what were your worst films of the year?  
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Monday, December 31, 2012

Worst Hollywood Flop Of 2012

We've talked about a lot of high-profile flops this year, some that made us sad and some that just made us laugh. But none of them came close to the spectacularly low box-office numbers of this horror flick, which earned less than $300 (no, that's not a typo) in its box-office run.

Playback is a small horror flick (with a budget estimated at only about $7.5 million) about an evil force that's able to possess its victims through video playback (sound familiar, Ring fans?) and threatens to reveal dark secrets in a Michigan town. It starred Christian Slater and co-starred the likes of Caprica's Alessandra Torresani. Despite a couple of semi-big names, the film grossed only $264 theatrically. Yes, you're still reading that right. No zeroes after that. Just three figures.

So why'd the flick tank so badly? Well, some of it has to do with a very limited box-office run. The film was only available in a single U.S. theater, for one week, and after earning $252 on opening weekend it took in only $12 more in the remaining days of its run (which might explain why that run was so short). Based on average U.S. ticket prices, The Daily Mail calculated that the movie was seen theatrically by only about 33 people.

That's a sad distinction to have, but at least Playback is now on DVD, where more people can spend a little money and make it seem less sad. Have you seen the flick? Were you one of the illustrious 33 to see it in its very limited theatrical run? Are you itching to watch it just to see if it deserved to earn so little money?

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New Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters Trailer

Jeremy Renner trades in arrows for a shotgun in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, where the Avengers actor and former Bond girl Gemma Arterton star as the famous title characters. They appear in a new trailer, which proves this isn't your grandma's version of the fairy tale.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a graphic adaptation that takes place 15 years after the siblings' kidnapping. After fighting off their evil captor, they developed "a taste for witch blood." They want to rid the world of the creatures, one kill at a time.

The duo lend their expertise to a village, which becomes ravaged by the supernatural. Among them is the witch (played by X-Men's Famke Janssen) that tried to kill them years ago. But Hansel and Gretel have revenge on the brain. They're sure to leave blood and guts in their wake as they try to defeat her once and for all.

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Top 15 Films Of 2012. That's Right 15

In a year that saw some of the worst films ever, 2012 also brought us some of the most memorable. But how do you reduce a list from 65 to just 10 - you add five more! Yes, SJF brought you an amazing 65 reviews in 2012 - how do I still have eyes after seeing that many? In short, there were so many good films that a top 10 just felt too small.

I know that some of you might not agree with what you're about to see, but that's the great thing about 'best-of' lists: they should generate discussion and thoughtful consideration, while ultimately encouraging you to either catch a hidden gem for the first time, or to relive the moment when one became a favorite.

We've been building this list all year, with some films receiving a last-minute bump or demotion based on their release date or a recent revisiting. To be clear, we include films that probably won't even be nominated for an Oscar, either because of their subject matter or their poor performance at theaters. We also skipped those that saw limited time in theaters, such as The Raid: Redemption. Granted, that film kicks ass, but we never got to see it on the big screen. Our list is generated on factors such as memorability, quality, and a completely selfish desire of whether we would pay to buy it or care to watch it again. Allow the chastising to commence!


15. Les Miserables (Dir.Tom Hooper)

Plot: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: The late-entry musical about 19th Century revolutionary France was expertly shot on a grand scale, and features several incredible performances by Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, and Anne Hathaway, all who should receive Oscar nominations. And while the runtime is a bit long and the film is almost entirely singing, that doesn't mean you should skip Les Mis.


14. The Dark Knight Rises (Dir. Christopher Nolan)

Plot: Eight years on, a new terrorist leader, Bane, overwhelms Gotham's finest, and the Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: This film created deep divisions among long-time Batman fans, some who felt Nolan's final entry in the series to be too long or not quite to canon, while others praised it as the year's best. The big surprise is Anne Hathaway, who had an amazing 2012 - her performance as Catwoman went far beyond the skin-tight outfit and stiletto boots. She encompassed the role with a slow-burning sultriness that still holds up well. What doesn't hold up is Tom Hardy's hard-to-understand Bane. It's not as exciting or engrossing as the excellent The Dark Knight, but Hathaway's performance is almost worth the price of admission.


13. The Raven (Dir. James McTeigue)

Plot: When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Granted, we're not talking about a Lincoln-esque bopic here, but John Cusack and Luke Evans are terrific, while Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare write a compelling script filled with plenty of Poe-esque macabre. It's a fun ride, provided you take its many historical inaccuracies for what they're worth.


12. Total Recall (Dir. Lee Wiseman)

Plot: A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: While our good friends at The Arnold Fans might cringe at the following, believe me when I tell you that the Schwarzenegger re-make is really good. Beckinsdale is her usually bad-ass, while Colin Ferrell plays desperate-spy-doesn't-know-he's-one very well. Take a moment to check out both versions on the Blu-ray - you'll see how Wiseman's story morphed through the creative process.


11. Contraband (Dir. Baltasar Kormákur)

Plot: To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: While Beckinsale turns in another great performance, we have to give props to Mark Wahlberg, who's becoming quite the exceptional actor. Kormákur creates a gritty smuggler tale that proves your friends and enemies aren't too far apart. There's surprises right up to the end, which is an aspect of film that never gets old.


10. Men in Black 3 (Dir. Barry Sonnenfeld)

Plot: Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.'s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Once thought left for dead, the MIB series is back in a big way, as Will Smith and Tyommy Lee Jones act like the last 10 years since MIB2 weren't really that long. They have a special chemistry that Sonnenfeld uses to perfection, creating one of the big surprises of 2012. Let's hope we don't have to wait 10 years before the fourth installment arrives.


9. Argo (Dir. Ben Affleck)

Plot: A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: In another example of something lost in Hollywood being found, Ben Affleck a smart pseudo-spy movie that's a little funny when it should be, but never missing out on the seriousness of the events it portrays. John Goodman and Alan Arkin turn in great performances as the Hollywood men in charge of selling Argo's sizzle. Welcome back to the tribe, Ben.


8. The Grey (Dir. Joe Carnahan)

Plot: After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Carnahan directs a masterful albeit very intense portrayal of what must go through people's minds as they approach a violent death. Liam Neeson and cast take their own personal journeys as they meet their ends, making each death that much more convincing. I don't know if I could watch this film for another year - based on its intensity - but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. Let's hope the Oscar nomination committee gives The Grey the chance it deserves!


7. Ted (Dir. Seth MacFarlane)

See entire list after the Jump...


Plot: As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since - a friendship that's tested when Lori, John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: in one of the most surprising and definitely the funniest film of the year, Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane have created an instant classic. Ted is new-century outrageousness at its core, but with an 80's feel. Check out the hotel fight as just one of many hilarious examples of Ted's supreme ass-kicking. Patrick Stewart does the naughty narration while Mila Kunis just tries to hold the ship together. Well done, boys (and girl)!



6. Safe House (Dir. Daniel Espinosa)

Plot: A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: In a year filled with gritty realistic dramas, Safe House is among this year's best. Denzel Washington plays the moralistically ambiguous CIA spy with usual perfection, while Ryan Reynolds proves he still has the acting chops to take on serious roles. From nearly the first scene, Espinoza weaves a tale of deceit, carnage, and intense action that you'll buy into the moment things begin to heat up. If you missed Safe House, you owe to yourself to check it out.


5. Looper (Dir. Rian Johnson)

Plot: In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by transporting back Joe's future self. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Among the great surprises of 2012, Looper sets the standard for telling convincing stories about time travel. It takes the great concepts covered in so many original Star Trek episdoes, with a plot that keeps you thinking right up to the end. Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt are great, but it's Joseph-Gordon Levitt who absolutely owns this film. You'll hate him at first, but love the transition he makes as his world gets turned upside down. Add a great child actor who doesn't have the typical whininess factor into the mix, and Looper is a film not to be missed


4. Skyfall (Dir. Sam Mendes)

Plot: Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her, bringing MI6 under attack. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Forget what you know about Bond - Skyfall takes the last 50 years of Bond and brings it back to its origins. An engrossing spy story that focuses on the craft over the tech, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench turn in masterful performances. But it goes far beyond that - Skyfall is so good because it encompasses everything that spy films and their characters have dreamed of becoming, ever mindful of its roots but willing to break all the rules along the way. Perhaps the best villain of the year is Javier Bardem, whose portrayal of former MI6 agent Silva is downright creepy. Credit Sam Mendes for turning the Bond world on its ear. It's one of the year's best.


3. Moonrise Kingdom (Dir. Wes Anderson)

Plot: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them (via IMDB) Why We Like It: Definitely the surprise film of the year, Anderson weaves a funny, warm, and engaging tale filled with top-name credentials like Bruce Willis and Edward Norton. Anderson creates an environment that engages us from the moment Bob Balaban begins his narration. It's a unique film to be sure, but you'll love the experience which Anderson and his troupe weave. Take a chance on this one.


2. Lincoln (Dir. Steven Spielberg)

Plot: As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: In what better be an Oscar-winning performance, Daniel Day-Lewis turns in the best performance of the year as the 16th president. He captures every aspect of Lincoln, from his strange walk to his raspy voice. Spielberg gives Lewis a standout team of supporting actors, with Sally Field turning in yet another career-defining performance as Mary Todd. The best part of Lincoln is also its worst, as we know his victory will soon be overshadowed by his tragic assassination. There are historical dramas, and then there's Lincoln. Enough said.


1. The Avengers (Dir. Joss Whedon)

Plot: Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army. (via IMDB) Why We Like It: My nerdiness knows no bounds, but when a film like The Avengers comes out, you can't help but let your bad side out. Years in the making, with a list of great films behind it, this film immediately draws you in with its quick wit, a terrific bad guy in Tom Hiddleston's Loki, and an end credits scene that brings Thanos to life. There are few films which I can call 'perfect' (Casblanca and Star Wars come to mind), and now The Avengers joins that elite club. Joss Whedon's absolute respect for comic book movies shines in every scene, reminding us how great movies can still be. You have our respect now, Mr. Whedon.

What were your top movies of 2012?

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