It’s been awhile since Kimberly Peirce directed a feature film [that would be her first, 1999’s Boys don’t Cry], but she’s back with another character driven drama that is important for more than just its characters – Stop-Loss.
If it’s Tuesday, it must be Bluesday (copyright EM) and we have a tone of interesting news on Sony’s PS3 upcoming firmware upgrade. Not only are we going to get the new Profile 2.0 update which will bring us Blu-ray Live functionality. I saw this at CES earlier this year and it looks really promising. The Internet interfaces that was showcased at the Blu-ray conference looked beautiful and fully like Web 3.0. My fear is it’s going to end up being just as lame as all Internet enabled DVDs in the past. Not only is the new PS3 upgrade bringing us profile 2.0 capabilities, but today rumor has it that you will soon be able to download a copy of your Blu-ray movie directly to your PSP. I recently picked up an 8 Gig SD Duo stick for $80. How cools will it be to be able to drop your movies onto your PSP. It’s nice to see studios finally loosing up on their draconian DRM and helping people take their content with them. The first two movies to support BD- Lve will be Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and The 6th Day. Here’s the full press release on the PS3 Upgrade.
Update (Tuesday, 8am) – Sony saw my post and decided, “Y’know what? Let’s release this update now!” So get it while it’s hot.
In Supernatural fandom the two lead actors of the series, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are often referred to as J2 by fans of the hit CW/Warner Brothers series, but Padalecki is about to take on a new J in his life, Jason Vorhees the hockey masked machete wielding psychotic killer of the highly successful Friday the 13th slasher movie franchise.
It was announced yesterday, March 21st that Platinum Dunes in association with New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures is in final negotiations with the Supernatural star to take on the lead role in their ‘re-imagination’ of the 1980 horror/slasher flick about teenaged camp counselors at a camp called Crystal Lake who begin to meet untimely and gruesome fates at the hands of a mysterious killer.
Jared Padalecki, who is well known to TV viewers as the hunky Dean Forester on Gilmore Girls and the intrepid ‘hunter’ Sam Winchester in Supernatural, is no stranger to being involved in successful remakes of older films, having had roles in the remakes of ‘House of Wax’ and ‘Flight of the Phoenix’. While the Friday the 13th movie he is set to begin production on this spring is listed as a remake, the movie will have a different focus on the storyline than the original movie.
The movie, which is being produced by Michael Bay, Brad Fuller from a script being penned by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift and directed by Marcus Nispel (2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Pathfinder), will differ from the original movie in which Jason made only a brief appearance as a deformed child sans what became his trademark hockey mask. In the updated version, the story will be centered on Padalecki’s character who, while investigating the killings at Crystal Lake, comes up against a masked and dangerous Jason Vorhees.
The newest version of Friday the 13th which is being overseen by Cale Boyter and Guy Stodel of New Line Cinema, who was responsible for the release of the 1980 original and very first Friday the 13th movie, is planning a appropriately enough release date of Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.
Jared Padalecki can also be seen in brand new episodes of his hit series Supernatural which returns to the CW Thursday night line up on April 24th at 9PM EST and in the movie ‘Thomas Kindade’s Home for Christmas’ in which Padalecki stars in the role of famous artist Thomas Kinkade which is set for theatrical release just in time for the Christmas holidays.
Platinum Dunes is also prepping to do remakes/re-imaginations of three other well known horror movies, Near Dark, which included well known horror actor Lance Henricken, Wes Craven iconic ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (which boasted a young and still somewhat unknown Johnny Depp as part of its cast) and Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller ‘The Birds’.
This small effort from the Jud Apatow funny factory skips the f-bombs but still manages to be funnier than at least one of his R-rated efforts.
What can you do when you’re corpulent, skeletal or really, really short and are facing your first day of high school? Apparently, you can expect to get thumped on a regular basis; crammed into lockers, trophy displays and such; and get kicked when you’re down.
How can you avoid these problems? Well, there’s always Drillbit Taylor: Budget Bodyguard. As played by Owen Wilson, Drillbit is a homeless deserter who stumbles into a great scam – charging three kids of the aforementioned general builds for teaching them to keep the school bully and his equally malevolent sidekick from using them as punching bags.
The three are the corpulent Ryan [Troy Gentile], the really, really short Emmit [David Dorfman] and the skeletal Wade [Nate Hartley. The bullies are Filkins [Alex Frost, apparently taking his bully role from Elephant and making him a complete psycho] and his sidekick, Ronnie [Josh Peck] – and they are definitely serial killers in training.
The Kristofor Brown/Seth Rogen screenplay features more physical violence than all three of the other hits to come from The Judd Apatow production line [I guess something has to escalate to fill the space of all those missing cuss words]. Steven Brill’s direction is pretty straightforward – the pace picks up for the violence; slows slightly for the jokes [allowing beats for audience response], and slows appropriately for the one romantic plot arc.
It’s the romantic arc between Drillbit, faking his way as a substitute teacher, and the lovely, but lovelorn Lisa [Leslie Mann, who is brilliant as usual] that brings the homeless con man out of his scam and into admitting that he actually likes his intended victims. This revelation occurs just in time to try to stop his equally homeless friends from stealing all of Wade’s family’s possessions.
For Wilson, the character of Drillbit pretty much plays to his strengths: aw shucks charm with an underpinning of darkness. He’s fast on his feet, though not as much as he thinks he is – and, of course, when it comes down to crunch time, he makes the right choices even if the result won’t be that good for him.
The punching bag trio come from the usual assortment of circumstances: Wade’s mom re-married a guy who is proud of having been a bully in school and has two sons who look to be following in his footsteps; Ryan’s single mom dotes on him to the point of enabling his weight gain, and Emmit seems to appear from the ozone.
Filkins has become emancipated, and the idiot Principal Doppler – Stephen Root’s second most oblivious character [after Office Space’s Milton] – takes that to mean he’s a nice, honest boy who is being maligned by the trio’s allegations of violence. The only person outside the trio who seems to like Wade is a little Asian girl named Brooke [Valerie Tian], which is good because he has a definite crush on her – and has joined all the same clubs [including the Asian Heritage Club] as her in hopes that he’ll be able to work up the courage to talk to her.
Ryan’s claim to fame is that he’s a not too terrible rapper – a sequence where he raps against Filkins is one of the movie’s highlights. Emmit, it seems, doesn’t have any notable skills, but shows an immense amount of courage at a crucial moment.
While the climax of the movie might not be what you’d expect – you’d think three nerds would outthink the bullies – there is an intelligence at play in their actions, especially in how they organize them. And there’s a moment near the end that harkens back what we are sure must be an apocryphal tale about Filkins – a perfectly timed bit of business that gives Wilson one final bravura moment to follow up his one moment of genuine heroism.
Sure, Drillbit Taylor doesn’t have the same level of language and gross humor as, say, Superbad, but it still has plenty of bodily function humor and decent sight gags. It never reaches the heights of Superbad, or Knocked Up, but I have to say I enjoyed it more than The 40-Year Old Virgin [despite Steve Carrell, I still don’t regard that one with much respect]. Drillbit Taylor is a little more violent than it needs to be, but it works well enough, overall, that I can recommend it – just.
Final Grade: C+
Have I said lately how much I really dislike Judd Apatow movies and Seth Rogen? Their films are generally hollow, profanity laced, geek boy fantasies. Where the slobby, foul mouth, fat jerk always ends up with the hot chick. Their formula is successful, but it’s cookie cutter beyond belief. The only difference is they switch between “Adult fair,” to “Teen fair,” without changing their character template. Their latest effort Drillbit Taylor is the same basic film as all of the other Apatow productions. But what amazed me is, I actually kind of liked Drillbit. I generally love Owen Wilson, but a little of him goes a very long way. Drillbit is kind of a modern remake of an early 80’s film called “My Bodyguard.” It’s every picked upon nerd’s fantasy. If you can’t handle the school bully, why not hire someone to do it for you? In this case the school bully Filkins (Alex Frost) is wonderfully insane. He has the makings of future serial killer written all over his face. Filkins has the ability to go from ‘Eddie’ Haskell Jr. to Norman Bates with minimal effort. Our two nerds – Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) have a reason to be scared. Where Superbad failed Drillbit somehow worked for me. It’s almost the exact same movie. Same characters only different situation. And just like Superbad, I couldn’t stand the fat kid – Ryan the wannabe rapper. He is so unlikable it’s a wonder his mother loves him. Was writer Seth Rogen this annoying as a kid? I hope not. Then again it probably explains a lot about why he seems incapable of creating original characters.
But despite this I liked this movie, Owen Wilson’s Drillbit is just like every other Owen Wilson character – a fast talking, scheming, liar who is always looking for the next score. Drillbit, a homeless man sees these rich nerds as his meal ticket and instead of fighting the bullies for the kids, trains them how to fight. So he says. Along the way even a loser like Drillbit finds a hot teacher Barbara (Beth Littleford) to fall for. While this movie didn’t contain one laugh out loud moment, it did feel more like a real film than previous Apatow productions. It’s not as over the top as previous efforts. Director Steven Brill does a great job with pacing, although the montage where Filkins and his buddy are terrorizing the nerds seems to go on forever as does a lot of the scenes with Wilson training the kids. It’s cute in small doses, eventually it starts to get annoying. I know it sounds like I didn’t like this film but it actually did work for me. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny and have I said how much I hated that fat kid? This is a wait for cable kind of film.
Final Grade C
EM Review by
Originally posted 4/21/08
Man it has been quite a minute since I’ve written a movie review, so forgive me if I’m a little rusty. I generally hibernate during the dark, dreary, winter months. Like a beautiful rose, or Cherry Blossom – if you are in DC. I start to bloom in the Spring. Last week was o.ur first decent week in about 3 months so I thought I’d celebrate by checking out a screening of Never Back Down. I shake my head ruefully that this is my first screening of 2008. And you know what, it wasn’t half bad. Not a great movie, but for what it is it works. When I think of tough ass fighters the first thing I think is Disney World. You can take so much of that place before you want to go and beat the hell out of someone. I generally reach that breaking point 2 days into my vacation to the happiest place on earth. I couldn’t image actually living there.
But don’t feel too sorry for these spoiled, rich kids. They are all hopped up on steroids and getting their jollies by beating the crap out of each other in organized fight clubs. The big dog of the bunch Ryan McCarthy (played by Cam Gigandet – best known for kiling Marissa on The O.C.) feels himself being challenged by the poor kid newcomer Jake Tyler (played by Sean Faris). From the minute he steps into his new school, Ryan wants to fight him. It seems like Jake built himself quite a YouTube reputation for fighting on the football. Ryan has his galpal Baja Miller (Amber Heard) set Jake up to get beat up at party. Don’t worry I’m not giving away the movie, all of this happens in the first 15 – 20 minutes.
What can you say about a film like this? Do I talk about the acting? No. The Script? No. The Ridiculousness of everything? That’d be too easy. How about how cool Epcot Center looked? Nah. The fight sequences had their moments, it’s clear they were trying to go for a whole UFC vibe and not a “Fight Club,” one. Everything seemed a little too clean and sanitized. Yes there was blood, but not as much as you would think. If you are a fan of UFC this watered down version may tick you off, but I don’t know, I kind of liked it. It does get points for being a different kind of Teeny Bopper film. This isn’t a $12 movie, but if you can catch a matinee or HBO it’ll be worth your time.
Final Grade C
EM Review by
Originally Posted 3/17/08
The trailer for Doomsday ripped off… I mean, paid homage to several movies: Escape From New York, all of the Mad Max films and 28 Days Later [and its sequel] among them. The actual movie adds more than a few more such referential scenes – but not out of lack of imagination. Instead, we get a movie that does for plague pics what director Neil Marshall’s earlier Dog soldiers did for werewolf movies.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I love prehistoric man movies. One Million Years B.C. [Raquel Welch], Quest for Fire [Rae Dawn Chong] and even Caveman [Barbara Bach] – I loved them all. So, it is with great regret that I have to tell you that 10,000 B.C. is quite possibly the worst film Roland Emmerich has ever made [and that, my friends, is saying something!].
Beyond the usual components of the typical heist flick [gathering the team; making the plans; dealing with unforeseen circumstances], The Bank Job pulls off the enviable stunt of dealing with four layers of prying eyes on the way to its unusually inventive conclusion – and making its ‘70s time period feel right.
The Christina Ricci vehicle, Penelope, has been on the shelf for awhile [the film was produced in 2006] – which might make one think it must be a turkey. It’s not.
Will Ferrell’s 70’s sports comedy, Semi-Pro, hits most of the same familiar notes that Ferrell has pounded on in his previous movies. The difference here is that he has gone to the well [or the hoop] one time too often.