Category Archives: Movies

MOVIE REVIEW: Tropic Thunder: Apocalypse When?

Tropic Thunder may well be the most [deliberately] politically incorrect film I’ve ever seen – and one of the funniest. The fake trailers alone are worth the price of admission! Ben Stiller’s film takes aim at every level of Hollyweird culture, from trailers to fraudulent writers to explosive studio executives – and is on target far more often than not.

When the writer of a book about the Vietnamese War [Nick Nolte] suggests that a first-time director [Steve Coogan] send his actors into the jungle – which has been seeded with cameras and various practical effects [explosions, gunfire and the like] – the cast members find themselves mixed up with a heroin cartel headed by a twelve-year warlord [Brandon Soo Hoo].

Tropic Thunder Cast

The actors are a truly motley assemblage of stereotypes: Tugg Speedman [Ben Stiller] the action star seeking legitimacy; Jeff Portnoy [Jack Black], star of the Fatties franchise and drug addict, also seeking legitimacy; Alpa Chino [Brandon T. Jackson], a rapper breaking into the acting game; Kevin Sandusky [Jay Baruchel], an actor in his first big movie, and Kirk Lazarus [Robert Downey Jr.], an Australian actor with multiple Oscars, who has his skin darkens to play a black character. None of them really has much of a clue, which leads to explosive ranting by studio head Les Grossman [a virtually unrecognizable Tom Cruise].

Stiller’s direction is pretty much on the money as his movie-within-a-movie allows him to show Hollywood at both its strangest and its worst. When we see the trailer for Simple Jack, for example, we aren’t seeing an attack on the mentally handicapped – unless we’re looking at Tugg Speedman for playing a mentally handicapped man solely to win an Oscar – or Kirk Lazarus for explaining, in a very funny bit, why simple Jack didn’t work. And speaking of trailers, the fake trailers that open the film are spot on satires of specific genre trailers, and are among the funniest moments in the film.

Other highlights include black rapper Alpa Chino keeping Lazarus honest as he plays a black character, even while he [Chino, that is] tries to flog his line of merchandise on camera; Coogan’s director, Damien Cockburn, taking charge; Speedman using what he’s learned from Lazarus to wow his captors in a live, less-than-no-budget performance; that the film becomes a big honkin’ war movie even as it satirizes the culture that creates an Apocalypse Now; Matthew McConaughey’s turn as Speedman’s TiVo-obsessed agent, and Danny McBride who steals every scene he’s in as the film’s special effects expert, Cody.

Tropic Thunder may be the best film Ben Stiller has ever made. It’s loud and crass, joyously politically incorrect, and well under two hours and gives us all the action of movies thirty minutes longer. In a summer that has had a number of good comedies, Tropic Thunder literally blasts its way to the next level.

Final Grade: A-

MOVIE REVIEW: Pineapple Express: The Apatow Comedy Factory Narrowly Averts Disaster!

Seth Rogen may have used his action sequences in Pineapple Express to audition for his upcoming The Green Hornet, but despite action sequences choreographed for humor as well as thrills, his earnestness in them almost takes deflates the good-natured stoner buddy comedy that Pineapple Express really is.

Dale Saves Saul

Dale Denton [Rogen] is a process server who loves his job [mostly because of the costumes he uses to fake out his victims – and the time it affords for smoking up]. After a day of multiple disguises, he stops at his dealer’s place. There, Saul Silver [James Franco] hooks him up with some Pineapple Express – smoke so potent that you can high just smelling it! From there, Dale heads off for one last delivery before calling it a day – a summons for Ted Jones [the comically malevolent Gary Cole], the dealer who supplies Red [Danny McBride], Saul’s supplier. When Dale witnesses Ted and a policewoman [Rosie Perez] kill an Asian man, he freaks out and tosses his roach of PE – which in turn leads Ted to Saul, via Red and things go from easy flowing and happy, to omigawdomigawdomigawd! And I haven’t even mentioned Dale’s high school student girlfriend, yet…

If Harold and Kumar are the stoner Hope & Crosby, then Dale and Saul are the stoner Riggs and Murtagh. Director David Gordon Green somehow manages to takes Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg’s split personality script and makes it feel like a single piece. The action sequences ramp up the tension, but much of the choreography and stunt work have elements of humor to them that hold the film together despite Rogen’s dead serious approach to them. Fortunately, between the ridiculous action, Franco’s ability to just bliss out – even when under fire – and some way out bits with McBride’s Red, the goofily genial absurdity of the film is maintained.

Although Pineapple Express is the weakest of the productions from the Apatow Comedy Factory, it remains, largely, above the average because of its slightly hallucinogenic bromance and its integrity when it comes to maintaining its overall upbeat mood. And did I mention Danny McBride’s Red? Definitely one of the best parts of the flick…

Final Grade: B-

Comic Con Exclusive: Heeding the (Casting) Call: Becoming a ‘Sexy Jesus’ to Promote Hamlet 2

EMs Roving Reporter and the Sexy Jesus Guys
EM's Roving Reporter and the 'Sexy Jesus' Guys

There I was walking around the lobbies of San Diego Convention center taking in all the wonders of the 2008 San Diego Comic Con Convention and looking for unique and interesting things to tell EM readers about when suddenly I found myself surrounded by 15 handsome, long-haired, well built young men wearing muscle tees, blue jeans and all proclaiming to be ‘Sexy Jesus’. Being the red-blooded female that I am, I was of course basking in the attention of so many sexy young men, but the reporter in me was already bringing out the mike to ask the big question: “Who and What is Sexy Jesus and what does it all mean.”

The guys were on their way outside to the fountain area outside of the convention center to do some ‘meeting and greeting’ with convention goers to promote the movie Hamlet 2 and they invited me to come along and they would tell me all about it. Hey when 15 hot young guys invite you to tag along with them and get the inside scoop for your readers, this reporter was not going to turn them down. Besides what girl wouldn’t want to be seen sailing through the halls with an entourage of gorgeous men in her wake. Things like that just don’t happen every day to me!  Continue reading Comic Con Exclusive: Heeding the (Casting) Call: Becoming a ‘Sexy Jesus’ to Promote Hamlet 2

MOVIE REVIEW: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – Uninspired Sequel Bores!

The first two Mummy movies may not have been critical successes, but they did have an off-kilter charm that made them hits with the masses. As one member of those masses, I have to say that I did enjoy them, myself. So, why then, do I not care for the third instalment in the series?

The Emperor's Army

Writer/director Stephen Sommers only produced this film. They recast Evelyn O’Connell – and Maria Bello ain’t Rachel Weisz, not by half. Luke Ford, who plays the O’Connell’s grown son, Alex, has the charisma of a box of Shreddies. Brendan Fraser, who threw himself into Journey to the Center of the Earth, seems to be going through the motions here. John Hannah’s exclamation, “I hate mummies! They never play fair!” is the height of the wit in this installment’s banter [you know you’re in trouble when Hannah has to force his dialogue…]. The action set pieces – and the CG, for that matter – have a been there/done that feel about them.

On the plus side of the ledger, we have Jet Li, whose energetic and charismatic villain might have been fun if he’d a script worthy of him; Michelle Yeoh, who manages to rise above the morass that is this film, as an immortal witch whose one true love was drawn and quartered by Li’s Dragon emperor, and Isabella Leong brings some badly needed spirit to the proceedings as Lin, the witch’s equally immortal daughter, who incomprehensibly develops a thing for Alex.

Despite director Rob Cohen’s best efforts, The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor galumphs along at a lacklustre pace for a would-be summer blockbuster. If it wasn’t for the performances by the key Asian actors, this would be a complete disaster. Thanks to them, there are enough bright spots to avoid an F.

Final Grade: D

MOVIE REVIEW: Swing Vote is a Thought-Provoking Little Dramedy!

Touchstone’s Swing Vote is a political fable on the value of the individual vote; a tale of reversed roles in a dysfunctional family, and the best thing Kevin Costner has done in a decade. The plot revolves around one vote being ruined because of mechanical failure – and the courting of the supposed caster of that one vote by the incumbent Republican President [glossily played by Kelsey Grammer] and the principled Democratic challenger [a surprisingly delicate performance by Dennis Hopper].

The problem is that Ernest “Bud” Johnson [Kevin Costner] got drunk and passed out, thereby missing his appointment with his daughter, Molly [Madeline Carroll – Watch out, Dakota! Look out, Abigail! There’s a very talented new kid in town!] at the polling station. When Bud fails to show, Molly takes it upon herself to sneak into a voting booth [after sneaking a voting card and forging her dad’s signature]. Unfortunately, a cleaning lady accidentally unplugs the machine just as Molly tries to cast Bud’s vote.

Kevin Costner & Madeline Carroll

Once the word gets out that Bud will have to re-cast his vote, he becomes the center of a three-ring circus that includes the President and Democratic candidate. As Bud is interviewed, the two candidates are lead by their campaign managers [Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane] into adopting each other’s policies, until finally, Bud is called out by Bill Maher on national TV [“Bud Johnson is a dumbass!”].

Costner does a great job as the befuddled Bud, who has never recovered from his wife leaving him and Molly. As we see in the first two acts, he is a drunk who can’t hold on to a job packing eggs – and Molly is really parenting him. When he suddenly becomes the center of attention on all the news shows, he rides the wave without really thinking what he’s saying – or what it effect it will have on the country’s image around the world. The two candidates are so focused on winning that they ignore their principles as they try to persuade Bud to vote for each of them.

There’s a bit of speechifyin’, but it’s done with sincerity and a bit of unexpected wit, and really speaks to issues like hypocrisy in politics – while simultaneously giving us the story of a loser who finds something inside himself that he truly didn’t expect to be there. Perhaps the film works because Costner financed the film himself and thus felt a real connection to the material – or maybe, the film’s secret ingredient is Carroll, who is definitely one to watch. Whatever the case, even though it is a mite long, Swing Vote does work.

Director/Co-Writer [with Jason Richman] Joshua Michael Stern has, in Swing Vote, produced a thought-provoking little dramedy that deserves to be seen. Hopefully, it will corral all the moviegoers who choose not to brave the crowd of the weekend’s blockbuster fantasy/adventure movie [you know, the one with the mummies].

Final Grade: B

BLU-RAY NEWS: Planet of the Apes Collection coming in the Fall

Planet of the Apes comes to Blu-ray.

Goddamn, dirty Apes. They blew it up!!!! Aargh!! I’m a little annoyed at the moment. A few days ago, I ordered the Planet of the Apes DVD Collection on Amazon because they had it (all the movies) at an unbelievable price of $24.  Today, I get an email from Fox saying that Apes are coming to Blu in November. And this set looks pretty awesome. The question is, do I keep my new Apes standard def and wait, or send it back.

Continue reading BLU-RAY NEWS: Planet of the Apes Collection coming in the Fall

MOVIE TRAILER – Harry Potter Trailer is Amazing!

I’m an ex-Pot head. I used to be obsessed with all things potter. Would spend hours on the message boards reading speculation on what would happen next, but after reading Deathly Hallows, I’ve done a complete 180. The last three Potter books were utterly disappointing. It never got as dark as each book would lead you to believe. There are no big battle sequences, Harry never got properly trained – the supposed Savior of the Wizarding world never gets trained! Ron was never a consistent character and his actions in DH was beyond ridiculous. JKR took the series into non-obvious directions just to screw with the readers. The movies have followed the trend of the books as well and have gotten progressively worse. Order of The Phoenix is a crappy movie, I hated the Half-Blood Prince book, so I had little interest in this year’s installment.  And Warner’s news blackout didn’t help matters. With all that said, this trailer almost restores the faith. It’s really strong and that kid is creepy has hell.

BLU-RAY NEWS: The Ultimate Matrix Collection goes Blu

The Ultimate Matrix Collection on Blu-ray

Oh for HD-DVD… We hardly knew ya.  The Ultimate Matrix Collection was one of the signature collections on HD-DVD. Now that collection comes to the Blu-ray machine at a retail price of $130 clammies.  The definitive ten-disc DVD set, The Ultimate Matrix Collection features all three films in the trilogy together for the first time ever with a newly remastered picture and sound for The Matrix. Also included is the companion piece The Matrix Revisited and the best-selling The Animatrix, plus five entirely new DVDs packed solid with brand-new supplemental materials that encompass every aspect of the Matrix universe, including two new audio commentaries on each film, Enter the Matrix video game footage, 106 deep-delving featurettes/ documentaries and much more!
Director:  Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, Actors:  Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

BLU-RAY NEWS: Bond Goes Blu this fall

quantum_of_solace

I think the James Bond series has to be one of the worst when it comes to triple dipping. But I’ll give them a break this time, because who doesn’t want to see Bond go Blu?  Six classic James Bond films are heading to Blu-ray this fall. According to the press release. It’s weird getting this Press Release today, I’m fairly sure I got it a few months ago. So maybe MGM double dipped the press release as well.  This initial set is a strong collection – DR. NO, DIE ANOTHER DAY, LIVE AND LET DIE, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and THUNDERBALL. The DVD also includes a ticket to QUANTUM OF SOLACE (man do I hate that title).The only weak link is the un-watchable Thunderball. If you really want this set, I would recommend waiting, I would bet the house on several more package variations.  You gotta give it to MGM, triple, quadruple, dip or not, it looks like they are handling these releases with care.   At $35 a pop for something I already own 3 different copies of (that I bought with my own money)  these better be darn good.  Check out the full Press Release after the break.

Continue reading BLU-RAY NEWS: Bond Goes Blu this fall

MOVIE SCREENING ANNOUNCEMENT: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 in DC

sisterhood

We have tickets to the Washington, DC Advanced screening of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2! The screening will be held at our Super Secret location in Washington, DC this Thursday, July 31 at 7pm. We have 40 slots open, to win all you have to do is click here and enter the code ECLP4206. You download your pass and keep on trucking. I forgot this film was coming, I enjoyed the first one, but then I’m a sucker for this type of film. And hey it stars Ugly Betty before she got hit by the truck.  Check out the full press release.

Continue reading MOVIE SCREENING ANNOUNCEMENT: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 in DC

Comic Con Exclusive:Jensen Ackles Takes on New Dimensions in My Bloody Valentine 3D

Jensen Ackles and the My Bloody Valentine 3D concept poster at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con

While his character of Dean Winchester on the hit Warner Bros/CW Network series Supernatural went to hell in the 3rd season finale No Rest for the Wicked, actor Jensen Ackles went off to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area to take on the lead role of Tom Hanninger in the Lionsgate Films remake of My Bloody Valentine.  The movie, which also stars Jamie King and Kerr Smith, is an updated version of the 1980’s cult classic horror movie about a killer stalking a small coal mining town and was filmed in the latest high tech version of the 3D technology that’s been hitting the movie screens in such projects as the most recent remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Eclipse Magazine caught up with Jensen Ackles at his recent appearance at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con where he was promoting the upcoming 4th season of the hit series Supernatural to talk to him a bit about his work in My Bloody Valentine 3D.

The boyishly handsome 30 year-old actor, who was looking awesome as usual and was very pumped up about his work on the 4th season of Supernatural and the new direction for his character Dean Winchester, was also happy to take some time to talk about his new action/horror movie coming out in January of 2009.

“I spent a little over two months in Pittsburgh and about four weeks of that was spent stuck in a coal mine,” Ackles says of his filming schedule while working on My Bloody Valentine 3D.

In My Bloody Valentine 3D, Jensen Ackles play Tom Hanninger, a troubled young man who is looking for a healing homecoming and chance to reconnect with former love interest Sarah Palmer (Jamie King) when he returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre that claimed the lives of twenty-two people. Instead, Tom finds that Sarah is married to local law enforcement officer Axel Palmer (Kerr Smith). Tom also finds himself to be considered the prime suspect in the murders, and is hard pressed to prove his innocence especially when things turn from bad to worse for Tom as the killings begin again.Ackles tells us that his perception of his working schedule during the process of being caught up in the very rigorous filming process involved in making an action/horror movie shot in 3D was very different from how it seemed to him once the process was completed. “The seven weeks I was there felt like seven months, but then as soon as I left, it felt like seven minutes. It’s just amazing how quickly that went by.”

Ackles tells us that things are moving along really well for My Bloody Valentine 3D as the movie goes through the post production stages and comes closer to being ready for its premiere date in January 2009. “I got a call from the director Patrick Lussier and he said that the poster is up downstairs at Comic Con [in the exhibit hall] and it was getting a good response and that it [the movie] was coming together really well, better than he had even hoped in fact.”

 So how is Ackles feeling about being involved in the action/horror movie My Bloody Valentine 3D, which was of course shot in 3D, now that it’s getting ready to hit the theaters in January of 2009?

 “I’m excited just to watch it in 3D. I think it’s going to be quite a spectacle.”

 We’re excited to see it too Jensen!

While fans are waiting to see Jensen Ackles take on all the dimensions of his character Tom Hanniger in My Bloody Valentine 3D, they can catch this talented young actor in his role as Dean Winchester in the premiere episode of Supernatural season Lazarus Rising airing on the CW Network Thursday September 18th at 9PM EST.

 Check out these two EM exclusive videos of Jensen Ackles at the Supernatural autograph signing this past Sunday at the Warner Bros booth at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con.

 Supernatural Signing One

  Supernatural Signing Two

 

 

Jensen Ackles and the My Bloody Valentine 3D concept poster at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con