After a couple postponements and a complete makeover in the editing room, The Wolfman finally reached screens this weekend. Not worth the wait.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Taylor Lautner has snagged the lead in Universal’s projected tentpole, Stretch Armstrong – based on the Hasbro action figure.
The plot revolves around a spy who happens upon a stretching formula and takes it. Now he has to learn how to deal with the consequences of this rash action. The film is being developed by Universal and Imagine, for shooting in 3D. As a result, the film’s release date has been pushed back from May 15, 2011 to some time in 2012.
Universal co-chairman Donna Langley was quoted as saying, ““In the past two years, Taylor has emerged as a real star at the global box office. He brings the perfect balance of energy and athleticism to the role of an unlikely super hero with a fantastic super power.”
Everything that the ultra-low budget did right, The Fourth Kind gets wrong. The mawkish, amateurish Paranormal Activity felt more real by doing very little, but timing it well and giving us characters we could care about – even if they weren’t the brightest bulbs on the chandelier.
The Fourth Kind purports to be a combination of genuine archival footage and re-enactments of the events that ruined Alaskan psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler’s life and stole her daughter. It’s not spoiling anything to say that these events involve alien abductions. In the “re-enactments,” Tyler is played by Milla Jovovich and, from the start, she shows little in the way of nuance. She’s either almost whispering, or wailing. She’s shown a much wider range in the mediocre, but entertaining Resident Evil films than she shows here.
Remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman’s character overdoses and John Travolta’s character has to administer a shot of adrenaline directly to her heart? That is, roughly speaking, the effect that Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted has on an audience.
Wesley Gibson [James McAvoy] is a cubicle slave with an impressive, but meaningless title, and a boss who takes particular delight in demeaning him. He has a surprisingly good-looking girlfriend and a cheery best friend – who are sleeping with each other. Then, one night when he’s in line at a pharmacy to buy medication for his anxiety attacks, a gorgeous, tattooed goddess of a woman informs him that his father was the greatest assassin in the world; the number two guy killed him the day before and is just… over there!
Wesley, it seems, has inherited his father’s skills, but has been blithely unaware – mistaking his hunter’s/assassin’s traits as anxiety attacks. The goddess is named Fox [Angelina Jolie] and he is to become a member of The Fraternity – a society of assassins headed by the dapper, dignified Sloan [Morgan Freeman]. Of course, he’ll have to be trained – by a host of assassins with names Like The Repairman [Mark Warren] and Gunsmith [Common]. Then he will hunt and kill the man who killed his father.
Based on Mark Millar’s graphic novel of the same name, Wanted seems to be little more than a framework to showcase Bekmambetov’s dexterity as a director. Instead, it turns out to be a showcase for McAvoy’s transformation from wage slave to a man in charge of his own life – and for Fox to discover the real meaning of integrity. At the same time, of course, Bekmambetov does, indeed, throw everything he’s got into action sequence that take the work of people like Louis Leterrier and the Wachowski Brothers and ramp it up to a level so high that the bar is no longer even visible.
Except for a very few scenes, Wanted makes the proverbial bat out of hell look like a tortoise on its back. The fight scenes are agile in ways that combine John Woo and the Shaw Brothers with Peckinpah and the Wachowskis; the chases are well into the land that exists beyond ridiculous, and the gun play is beyond even that.
Bekmambetov hits us so quickly with pans and zooms and smash cuts and dissolves and changes of pace that we go along for the ride – even though the whole thing is as insubstantial as smoke [and we get some of that, too]. This is what summer blockbusters are supposed to be – smart and absurd and gracefully jagged adrenaline delivery systems. On that level, it is superb!
Final Grade: A
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is doomed to be remembered as “that naked break-up movie” though it’s considerably more. For one thing, the naked break-up is a simultaneously funny and poignant scene and Jason Segel’s performance as Peter [the breakee] is staggeringly vulnerable. For another, that vulnerability continues to come into play when Peter tries to get away from it all at the same Hawaiian resort where Sarah [Kristin Bell] is staying with her rock god boyfriend. In turn, Peter’s heartbreak is tempered by Rachel [Mila Kunis], a pretty, intelligent hotel employee who has also had a miserable heartbreak.
Segel‘s script meanders a bit, but those wanderings lead to emotional payoffs that make sense – especially when news that the TV series that stars Sarah, and for which he composes the “dark, ominous tones,” has been cancelled. A comment from Rachel leads Peter to finish his dream project [a rock opera for puppets – about Dracula and his search for True Love], while Aldous’ [the rock god, played by Russell Brand] behavior has Sarah rethinking leaving Peter.
Director Nicholas Stoller keeps the wandering script focused and gets terrific performances from his entire cast. Check out supporting work by the reliable Paul Rudd [as a goofy surfing guru] and Jonah Hill as Aldous’ number one fan. Stoller understands the necessity for an extra beat in a quiet moment and how to set up a gag without being obvious. As a result, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of the best films to come out of the Judd Apatow crude-with-a-heart comedy factory. I may not have laughed as often as the lady behind me, but I did laugh and smile and chuckle enough to recommend Forgetting Sarah Marshall as more than your daily recommended dose of fun.
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Definitely, Maybe is a smart, witty, genuinely funny romantic comedy with intelligent plotting, real conversations and not one, but two happy endings – though not necessarily the kind of happy endings that you find in the usual Hollywood romcom.
One of my favorite films of last year, American Gangster, is coming to DVD on February 19th in a lavish 2 Disk Special Edition Set and we have 10 copies to give away!! We have this new Top Commentator block on the right hand side. The top 5 posters during the contest period – February 6 – Monday 25th will get the DVD. It’s that simple to win this really cool set. You can read my full review Here.