Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Check Out ‘Arthur’ On Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand & Download

The immature heir to a billion-dollar empire finds himself cut off from the family fortune after rejecting his arranged marriage to a nouveau riche socialite, and instead falling for a free-spirited unlicensed tour guide in “Arthur,” a remake of the sentimental 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore.

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Arthur (Russell Brand) was raised in the lap of luxury. His family is wealthy beyond compare, and ever since he was a child his every whim has been catered to by his nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren), and his chauffeur, Bitterman (Luis Guzman).

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But the party starts to wind down when Arthur’s domineering mother (Geraldine James) insists that he marry Susan (Jennifer Garner), the daughter of a self-made millionaire (Nick Nolte) who isn’t above intimidating his future son-in-law into marriage. Vehemently opposed to the idea due to the fact that he and Susan have nothing in common, Arthur rejects the proposal after falling in love with Linda (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring children’s book author who pays the rent by giving unofficial tours of Grand Central Station.

As a result, Arthur has to decide if he can face life as a normal member of the working class — and without his trusty flask of booze.

Carmen in 3D

I’m not sure 3-D visuals are absolutely necessary to tell the tragic tale of “Carmen.” But if the gimmick helps make one of opera’s most iconic heroines as popular among movie audiences as she has been among opera fans for well over a century, I can’t complain. The amoral Gypsy is a natural for the big screen, and I find her a far more fascinating seductress than any played by Sharon Stone or Glenn Close.

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“Carmen in 3D” is not as visually sumptuous as Francesco Rosi’s 1984 “Carmen,” another film based on Georges Bizet’s great opera, which starred Julia Migenes and Placido Domingo. But that one had the characters breaking into arias on the actual streets of Old Seville, where the opera is set. By contrast, British director Julian Napier’s “Carmen in 3D” derives from an actual stage production, filmed in 3-D during two performances at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.Image result for ‘Carmen in 3D

As with the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” movie theater broadcasts (whose success no doubt helped prompt this co-production by RealD Inc. and the Royal Opera), the cameras take us backstage to see the singers warming up beforehand and show us their curtain calls at the end.

This will not bother regular operagoers, who are used to suspending disbelief in the theater, though it may give pause, at first, to newcomers.

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The point is that the story of how a Spanish corporal’s carnal obsession with a Gypsy spitfire leads to their ruin is so universally appealing that it works no matter what the medium. Here the leading roles are taken by photogenic young opera singers who may be unknown internationally but who are as fully immersed in the drama as they are in the music.

Francesca Zambello’s efficient and traditional production, adapted for the 3-D cameras, shows them off handsomely.

Sometimes the 3-D effects amount to nothing more than a flower or a matador’s cape flung at the camera. On the other hand, the fight scenes, complete with flying knives, look far more realistic and dangerous than any you’ll see in your average opera house “Carmen.”

Where 3-D really pays off is when it thrusts key dramatic scenes involving Carmen (British mezzo-soprano Christine Rice) and her obsessed lover, Don Jose (American tenor Bryan Hymel), virtually into our laps. Seldom has the final act, in which the ruined Jose stalks Carmen (who by then has thrown him over for the toreador Escamillo) outside a bullring, proved more gripping.

Designer Tanya McCallin’s minimalist set, a reddish-orange box whose design elements are moved around to create the various scenes, doesn’t give one much to look at, except for the 3-D perspectives that make the stage appear to be much deeper than it actually is. Napier’s observant lens moves fluidly inside and around the action, using close-ups, dissolves and overhead shots to put you sometimes at the center of Jose’s unraveling.

The singers clearly were chosen as much for their physical and dramatic credibility as their vocal chops. Rice’s dusky-voiced Carmen clearly appreciates the power of her sexual allure – watch how the captive Carmen literally ropes in her hapless captor. Hymel’s volatile Jose delivers his Flower Song with a touch of gritty desperation that makes this famous number leap off the screen like one of the 3-D tricks.

CARMEN IN 3D

3 stars

No MPAA rating

Cast: Christine Rice (Carmen), Bryan Hymel (Don Jose), Aris Argiris (Escamillo), Maija Kovalevska (Micaela), Dawid Kimberg (Morales)

Credits: Directed by Julian Napier; produced by Phil Streather. A RealD and Royal Opera House release.

Running time: 2:50

Review: Denzel Washington tries to halt a runaway train in ‘Unstoppable

“Unstoppable”: Two railroad employees (Chris Pine, Denzel Washington) must stop a runaway train.

Tony Scott faced a formidable challenge with his latest film. He had to create tension, excitement and danger without having a villain. Although he brushes close to the boundaries of absurdity at times, the veteran director manages to capture all of those elements through a speeding locomotive.

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Washington has shown an interest in playing average men pushed into extraordinary situations in movies such as “The Taking of Pelham 123″ and “The Book of Eli.” He’s comfortable slipping into that skin and it shows, especially in scenes with Pine. Grade: B

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“Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol”: It only took Matt Smith a few episodes to prove he’s the right actor to take over this iconic science fiction role. He brings an energy and youthful enthusiasm to the role that allows him to put his own spin on a character played by 10 other actors.

This holiday episode gives Smith the chance to show off that energy and enthusiasm as he deals with a modern take on the Charles Dickens story. The only way the doctor can save a crashing space liner is to save the soul of a lonely miser.

It’s done in glorious “Doctor Who” fashion. Grade: B+

 

Emma Watson & J.K. Rowling Get Emotional At Final ‘Harry Potter’ Premiere

Actress Emma Watson and author J.K. Rowling broke down in tears during the world premiere of the final Harry Potter film in London on Thursday as they began the official farewell to the movie franchise.

Watson was moved to see thousands of fans – many of whom had camped out in the rain for prime spots – when she arrived at the massive event in the capital’s Trafalgar Square.

She met up with co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint and Potter creator J.K. Rowling, and, after meeting fans, signing autographs and posing for photographs on the red carpet, it was clear that both Watson and Rowling were overcome with emotion.

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The sobbing author told fans, “Thank you for queueing up for the books for all those years, for camping out in a wet Trafalgar Square.”Image result for Emma Watson & J.K. Rowling Get Emotional At Final ‘Harry Potter’ Premiere

Meanwhile, Watson struggled to hold back tears as she attentively listened to Radcliffe and Grint talk to reporters and TV crews about being part of the decade-long film franchise.

She was comforted by producer David Heyman, who planted a kiss on her forehead as she cried on his arm. She was later photographed resting her head on Grint’s shoulder as she fought back tears.

The actress looked on wistfully as Radcliffe, who had flown in from New York for the premiere, addressed the crowd, saying, “I don’t think the end of the story happens tonight because each and every person who will see this film will carry this story with them through the rest of their lives.

“A huge thank you to all of you, first of all for giving me a job… Every opportunity I get from now on all goes down to the fact I got very, very lucky when I was 11.”

But an emotional Watson shrugged off her co-star’s modesty, telling him, “You didn’t ‘get lucky – you were, and are, the perfect Harry, and will be forever.”

Review: ‘Sanctum’ Tests Sanity, Strength, Stamina And Will

I think with the name James Cameron attached to this project clearly branded ‘SANCTUM’ to be one of the year’s most anticipated films. UNIVERSAL started airing their trailers back in the fall, and I think cleverly done seeing as they presented tidbits of the film (obviously, because it’s a trailer) followed by a ‘Based on true events’ mention. Once one sees that the film’s based on actual events, I know it entices ones’ interest and immediately research starts. Caves, Divers, Darkness, Panic-stricken segments and comments like “I’ll see you on the other side” by one of the actors doesn’t leave quite a pleasing swirl within your system. It opens you up to uncontrolled thoughts of placing yourself in particular situations, and makes you wonder about those who actually risk their lives for simultaneous purposes of thrill-seeking and education.

After his a$$-kicking success with ‘AVATAR’ (2009), Cameron has proceeded to create his miracle touch as Executive Producer along with Director Alister Grierson, and piecing a unique film linking darkness and water to a degree of mind-twisting intensity.

‘SANCTUM’ gives us a group of underwater cave explorers on a dangerous expedition to the largest, most breathtaking and the very least reachable caverns (The South Pacific’s Esa-ala Cave) on the planet. Master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) HAS explored the Esa-ala Caverns for a bit, however when his exit is shut down in a flash flood, Frank and his team—including his 17-year-old son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) and financier Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd)—are pressured to drastically change plans. Adding to their complexities which include dwindling resources, and a stringent time-frame, they must get through an underwater labyrinth to really make it out. Before long, they are up against the inevitable issue: Can they all stay alive, or will they be stuck for good?

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Shot in the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, ‘SANCTUM’ utilizes 3-D digital photography techniques Cameron developed when producing ‘AVATAR.’ Created to perform in severe conditions, the engineering employed in the action-thriller provides viewers on a breathless quest throughout crashing cliffs and towards the furthermost reaches in our subterranean earth.

I was lucky enough to have obtained an IMAX screening which doubled my viewing pleasure. Considering I have bad eye-sight, something about modern technology has a magical touch which not only allowed me to view this film with the utmost of visual pleasure, but also made it feel as tangible as any cave dwelling documentary I’ve seen over at The Museum of Natural History’s IMAX Theater. From edge to uneven footing, from darkness to disorientation… the abyss (no pun) to an unknown world is clearly depicted.

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Many of whom I screened the film with, as well as friends question the authenticity to the film’s story. Well, for starters, one of the co-writers of the film—I read the actual cinematographer of the real expedition—was one of several divers caught in the underground cave system. Everyone has been very tight lipped about what happened under water during the events of ‘SANCTUM.’ I also know that the co-writer, along with Cameron, wanted to keep the film as close as possible to the true events of those horrid 2 days. There were segments that were manipulated, but they were far in-between, and as little as possible. They did not want to change much to make it more exciting, and wanted everyone to know what happened, what they went through and how (if) they all survive. There’s also a National Geographic documentary which aired regarding the actual event which took place in 1998. They really broke down the story from beginning to end, and presented an in-depth feeling of what those explorers experienced. To much avail, sometimes these special documentaries are a lot more informative and less dramatic as say anything Hollywood produces, but ‘SANCTUM’ is one of those rare films which does keep you on edge wondering what will transpire once in that cave.

At the start of the film, there’s a deep scene which sets a creepy pace tied in with some pretty good music, however, after that, there’s 30 minutes which might have you wondering what the hell it is you’re watching. Lots of cuts between those in the cave and those prepping to go under while on land speeds the film’s character breakdown. Between wise cracks, planning, arguments and establishing who’s new at the game and who isn’t, once this crash course of characters is presented, what follows from there is a roller-coaster ride of wonder, and journey of sought out punishment—seek trouble and you’ll find it! A lot within the film clearly states Cameron’s touch. I’m not too sure how much difference this film would be in 2-D versus 3-D, but scenery in this film was totally enjoyed by me. Although 90% of the film is pretty much dark, the way this film was shot was crafted pretty well. It generated lots of feeling, and no matter whether you’re an explorer or not, when leaving this film, something about it will resonate and generate wonder. There were many scenes which I found myself emotionally tangled in their web of despair. Most of the film’s setting was inevitable to a degree considering their rough interactions, and what followed through—mainly with Frank—set forth how far one would go in order to keep sanity, strength, stamina and WILL!

I think the score could have been a bit more intriguing. During the second act, there’s a scene which sets the divers seeking a way out after having their only exit jammed, where it was really driven by moment, survival and wonder whether someone would make it or not. At that point, the music was quite intense and played along well. The rest was simply okay, as it really didn’t help elevate a group of people trapped within Earth’s closets. In the end, there’s a lot to this film which I feel can be appreciated and admired. I always find myself taken by those who risk their own lives at the cost of making sure they educate people like you and I about what we don’t know regarding this big blue marble we inhabit. Setting aside some of the music downer and a rushed form of character build up, kudos to everyone involved with this film. I, however, recommend watching this at a movie theater—IMAX if you can! Otherwise, you’re reaping yourself of an expedition which cannot be enjoyed in the same matter when watching it on your flat-screen. ‘SANCTUM’ delivers in lots of ways!

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GRADE: B+ / GENRE: Action/Adventure, Drama and Thriller / ROARS: 4 out 5

RATED: R / RUN TIME: 1 Hr. 43 Min.

STARRING: Alice Parkinson, Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Joan Gruffudd

DIRECTOR: Alister Grierson

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‘The Walking Dead’ to explore monsters inside

Flesh-eating zombies aren’t the only worry thing to be worried about in the second season of “The Walking Dead.”

Sarah Wayne Callies, who plays one of the survivors in the AMC zombie apocalypse saga, teased during a Friday panel at Comic-Con that “the most dangerous things out there are the monsters inside.”

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Robert Kirkman, executive producer and creator of “The Walking Dead” graphic novel series, announced that the 13-episode second season will premiere Oct. 16.Image result for ‘The Walking Dead’ to explore monsters inside

 

In this publicity image released by AMC, zombies are shown in a scene from “The Walking Dead.” AMC announced Friday, July 22, 2011, from Comic-Con 2011, that the second season of The Walking Dead” will premiere on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 9:00 p.m. EST. The Walking Dead is based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and published by Skybound and Image comics. The 13-episodes of season two will continue to tell the story of a group of survivors fighting for their lives after a zombie apocalypse.

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Frank Darabont, the show’s creator and executive producer, promised fans that the second season picks up five seconds after the first season finale, when the survivors drove away from the destroyed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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A trailer featuring the survivors running from zombies amid a traffic jam was also shown.

Meet ‘I Am Number Four’ Star Teresa Palmer

You may not know Teresa Palmer yet, but the young star is making waves in Hollywood both personally and professionally.

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The Australian actress made her film debut in the 2006 suicide drama “2:37,” which she followed up with films such as “The Grudge 2,” “December Boys” and “The Sorceror’s Apprentice.”

She stars in the upcoming film “I Am Number Four” about a teenage fugitive with an incredible secret who races to stay one step ahead of the mysterious forces seeking to track and destroy him. She plays Number Six. The film opens Feb. 18.

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Her career is heating up, with several more films in production, such as “Say Nothing” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

She is reportedly dating former “High School Musical” star Zac Efron. She has previously been linked to Topher Grace, Adam Brody and Russell Brand.

The CW Picks Up Five Series for Next Season

The CW Network has given early pickups to five of its established series for next season, including an All-Star Cycle of “America’s Next Top Model” and the network’s top-rated drama “The Vampire Diaries.” All five shows will return in Fall 2011. The network released the following statement:

With AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL ordered for both cycles next season, The CW’s signature reality series will kick-off the Fall with its first-ever All-Star Edition, featuring the models who became breakout characters and who had the most memorable stories from past cycles. Additional details about the cast, judges and prizes for the All-Star cycle of TOP MODEL will be announced at a later time.

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The CW’s bloodily addictive hit THE VAMPIRE DIARIES was also given an early renewal, and in its sophomore season, remains the network’s most-watched show (4.0 million viewers) and the network’s number-one show among its target audience of women 18-34 (2.9/9).

Also given early pickups for next season are The CW’s scandalous guilty pleasures GOSSIP GIRL, the network’s second most popular series with women 18-34 (2.8/7), and 90210, which posts some of TV’s largest percent increases from DVR playback, more than doubling its women 18-34 live ratings once live+7 data is included.

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The network also renewed fan favorite SUPERNATURAL, which enters its seventh season next year. In moving to Fridays last September, SUPERNATURAL immediately helped make The CW more competitive on the night and dramatically contributed to year-to-year gains on Friday of 66% in adults 18-34 and 60% in viewers.

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Season to Date (09-10 vs. 10-11), Most Current data