Greetings programs! We’re back with our 9th episode of the new Awesome Friday Podcast. This week we’re talking about one new thing and one not so new thing. First up is the new Mary Elizabeth Winstead starring action film from Netflix, Kate, which we have mixed feelings about, and second is the new-to-all-Disney+-subscribers film starring Emma Stone, Cruella, which as it turns out, we both really like.
Disney’s recent series of live-action remakes and updates of their library of classic animated films have been, to be generous, let’s say, a mixed bag. That’s not to say that they are unpopular, but most of them feel to me like they are unnecessary. This is especially true with the direct remakes, such as The Lion King or Dumbo.
Cruella takes a page from Maleficent‘s book. Rather than being a simple update of a film we already know and love (and already have a remake of), and tells the origin story of Cruella De Vil, the dog murdering villain from 101 Dalmations. This gives it more freedom to be its own thing, and the results are that it manages to capture the spirit of an animated film while adding the production value of a live-action film starring two Oscar winners.
In short, it’s one of the best of these movies so far.
I really liked Zombieland. It’s not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination but it has a great cast and a solid premise, and a few big laughs.
It was a surprise hit and made a ton of money so it’s no surprise that it got a sequel. What is surprising is that the sequel feels exactly the same as the original. That’s not always a deal-breaker, but ten years and a radically changed socio-political landscape in this world mean little to no updates in the new film definitely are a dealbreaker.
Michael Keaton as a guy who used to play a superhero trying to mount a play in New York while battling his own inner demons and directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu? Where do I sign?
I’ll give you a full review after the jump but let me take a moment right now to just give it to you straight: this movie is fucking awful and you shouldn’t see it. In fact I think it might be best if as few people as possible see it because if it doesn’t live up to Sony’s expectations then maybe we’ll be spared more of this crap.
The following review will contain some minor spoilers but you shouldn’t see this movie so it doesn’t matter.
There’s been about a million trailers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which I haven’t posted because, well, there’s been about a million of them. This one purports to be the last one they’re releasing though, and does appear to have all the interesting tidbits from the rest of the marketing. Let’s watch!
Ryan Gosling. Sean Penn. Josh Brolin. Emma Stone. Robert Patrick. Anthony Mackie, Giovanni Ribisi and Michael Pena. Directed by Reuben Fleischer in a post World War II cops vs. Gangsters story. This is a movie I wanted to see from the moment I heard about it.
Set in Los Angeles and facing off against famed mob boss Mickey Cohen, the players form an elite and off the books squad of cops who at the behest of the Chief of Police (played by Nick Nolte) take the battle against organized crime right to the head honcho. They hit him hard and where it hurts.
Does this sound familiar? Yeah, it sounds a lot like The Untouchables. Too bad it’s nowhere near as good as The Untouchables.
Now hold up a moment, that’s not to say that this is a truly terrible movie, just that’s it’s also not a very good one. The problems are twofold, first there’s the issue of balance.
See, half the time it seems to be a serious cop drama complete with “are we doing the right thing?” moments and the rest of the time it seems like it’s trying to be Dick Tracy 2, complete with characters who are either stereotypes or caricatures (more on that in a moment).
Seriously. Sean Penn plays Cohen so over the top that he’s kind of hard to take seriously and Troy Garity is his main henchman who has a scar over his face that damaged his eye, and is credited as “One Eyed Assassin”. Meanwhile, Josh Brolin is the tough as nails, uncompromising lead detective and Ryan Gosling is the morally grey detective who needs to decide if he’s really in the game or not. The problem here is that the movie never commits to one tone. Is it light and fun or is it dark and serious? The answer is neither because it seems to try so hard to meet in the middle.
If any of this is starting to sound familiar again it’s because of the second problem: there’s pretty much literally nothing here you haven’t seen before. There’s two deaths on the squad and normally I’d consider that spoilery, but if you can’t tell which ones it’s going to be after each of their first scenes (and what the immediate follow-up is going to be) then you’re probably watching a different movie than I was.
The film has other problems as well. A one liner here and there is good, several one liners during every sequence is silly. The rest of the dialogue is pretty bad too, even the lines that sounded cool in the trailer fall flat in the movie itself and they’re trying so hard to be cool that no one gets any real development. Everyone ends up just being a pastiche of others you’ve seen before. The Hard Ass, the cowboy, the tech guy, the minorities struggling for acceptance, and the old man police chief.
Worse yet, none of the actors really have any chemistry together. Sure, Josh Brolin and Mireille Enos has some, but the home story is a sub plot and Josh Brolin talking to almost anyone else feels forced. Even Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone don’t really seem to connect despite having done so in other films.
There’s a lot to like here in the small details. The movie looks amazing, from the sets to the costumes to the hair and makeup, everything looks pretty spectacular actually. The story itself isn’t bad, and we all know Reuben Fleischer loves his slow motion shots. In the end though, the looks are just window dressing, the story is told with little nuance and terrible dialogue and the slow motion (and sped up) stuff just makes the pacing of the big final action sequence fall to pieces.
The scenes that do play well are the action scenes (not sped up or slowed down) but they almost feel like a different movie.
Gangster Squad was one of my most anticipated films of the year. Maybe because of that context I am being hard on it, but I don’t think I am. It seems to be a movie that was made to make a great trailer. Lots of one liners to choose from, beautiful people in beautiful clothes on beautiful sets, and lots of action (and it really does have a great couple of trailers). The problem is that they didn’t seem to be able to figure out what kind of movie they wanted to make or how they wanted to play it and the result is that the finished product is just a hot mess.
2012 was one of the best years for film that I can remember and I’m honestly hoping that 2013 meets or beats it in terms of number of quality releases, and more importantly in the quality of those releases. There’s a lot coming out this year so here’s the ten that I am looking forward to most.
I’m listing these in order of release and not order of anticipation, partly because I find them hard to rank but mostly because I am looking forward to them all for different reasons.
And with that, here are the movies I am most looking forward to this year.
Gangster Squad (11 January)
I’ve actually been waiting for this since last year since its original 2012 release was pushed after the Aurora Shooting.
Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn in an old school cops vs. gangsters film is a hard recipe to screw up. I love the cast, I love the premise, and while director Rueben Fleischer has only made a couple of films, they were both good and he’s made a host of music videos and commercials which were also good.
I worry about the re-shoots that happened following Aurora last year but not very much considering the scene had just been relocated and re-staged rather than excised entirely.
The Place Beyond The Pines (29 March)
Yes, another Ryan Gosling movie. It’s true: I’m a fan of the baby goose. More than that though, I’m a fan of Ryan Gosling because he’s a great actor.
Gosling previously teamed with director Derek Cianfrance in 2010s Blue Valentine and in that film both Gosling and co-star Michelle Williams knocked it right outta the park. Seriously, if you haven’t seen that movie just go find it and watch it (but be aware, it has some hard to watch scenes).
Ryan Gosling playing a stunt bike rider robbing banks to provide for his son while being chased by Bradley Cooper as a cop mixed up with some crooked colleagues? It’s an intriguing set up and one I can’t wait to see.
42 (12 April)
I’ll admit this one is a bit of a wild card pick; chalk it up to my love of baseball. On the other hand this is the story of a modern American legend in Jackie Robinson and it’s being directed by Brian Helgeland, the guy who wrote L.A. Confidential, A Knights Tale and Mystic River. There’s a lot to like about that fact alone but when you add in Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey (the guy who dared to sign Jackie Robinson in an era when racism was still an OK thing) things get more interesting.
Chadwick Boseman is a relative newcomer here, but if this works out this could be a star turn for him and I’m always interested in seeing that.
Iron Man 3 (3 May)
I’m a huge Marvel geek and I’m a huge fan of their grand experiment to bring comic book continuity to the big screen. If you’ve been paying attention you may have already gotten this impression.
Robert Downey Jr. is among the best cast of the Marvel Heroes currently on screen and it’ll be a pleasure seeing him as Tony Stark again. Hell, even in the kind of boring Iron Man 2 he was fun to watch and with Shane Black directing and Don Cheadle returning as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine one can only assume that there’ll be some great “buddy cop” kind of sequences as they battle the armoured bad guys.
Sir Ben Kingsley is playing the Mandarin, a character with supernatural powers in the comics, so it will be cool to see how they reconcile that with the technological world of Iron Man (that is, does he even have his powers or are The Ten Rings from Iron Man all he controls or will they be technological or what?).
Another exciting tidbit is that the story is based on Extremis by Warren Ellis, which is one of my favourite Iron Man stories and sees Tony Stark go through some interesting stuff.
Plus, this is the first film in Marvel’s second phase so I’m looking forward to seeing if I can pick out any world building or portents that’ll give me an idea what they’re planning for Avengers 2.
The Great Gatsby (10 May)
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is an American classic, a fact that even though I am a Canadian I can certainly appreciate. I’m not going to sugar coat this though: I’ve never actually read it. I’ve always meant to but for some reason it’s just never happened.
Now there’s this, Leonardo DiCaprio re-teaming with director Baz Luhrmann in what looks to be a perfect part for the former and potentially the best looking film from the latter. The film is full of talented people not the least of which is Carey Mulligan who has shone brightly in everything I’ve seen her in, even as Sally Sparrow in Doctor Who.
Plus, if it turns out to suck I won’t have to be bothered by how the movie was a crappy adaptation of the book.
Star Trek Into Darkness (17 May)
To say I am anticipating this film is an exercise in understatement. Understand that I am a life long Star Trek fan, some of my earliest memories are watching The Original Series with my father. I’ve seen every episode of every show (including the animated series) and every movie. In 2009 JJ Abrams brought Star Trek back to the big screen in a big way and I fucking loved it.
Long story short: if this list were ranked, Star Trek Into Darkness would be #1 on the list.
I happen to think that the previous film was nearly perfectly cast so I seriously can’t wait to see the whole crew back again. Yes, even Chris Pine. More importantly, I can’t wait to see Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain in this. So far I’ve only really seen him play good guys so it will be nice to see him put on his evil face. The man is a hell of an actor and this will very likely be a hell of a film.
There’s so much more I could say here, but the bottom line is this: is it May 17th yet???
Much Ado About Nothing (7 June)
So apparently while filming last years The Avengers Joss Whedon called up a bunch of his friends and shot an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in his own house over 12 days or so.
Let’s rephrase that: the guy making the biggest film of last year made an indie Shakespeare adaption in his home in his spare time. That alone is pretty cool.
But this is also Joss Whedon we’re talking about here. Love him or hate him he’s certainly done some interesting stuff and is really good at managing large casts. I’m also just curious to see what he does with Shakespeare and how he worked his house into the film.
Plus, this is full of his buddies like Nathan Fillion (playing Dogberry), Amy Acker (Beatrice) and Clark Gregg (Leonato).
So basically it’s a bunch of awesome people doing a version of a play by the greatest playwright ever as adapted by a fantastic director. So where do I sign, exactly?
Pacific Rim (12 July)
Let’s see, director with a crazy and unique visual style? Check. Giant Monsters? Check. Giant Robots fighting those monsters? Check. Two people whose minds link via a computer voiced by the same actress as GLaDOS from Portal? Check. A cast including Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam? Check.
I dunno, maybe this movie wasn’t made for me specifically but there’s certainly a lot of boxes checked off here.
Plus, it’s a disaster movie where people are fighting for humanity as a whole to survive (check) against ridiculous odds. I’m sure that the giant robot that turns the tide will be obsolete or broken or something too but cliches done well are still entertaining as hell, and Guillermo del Toro is a pretty great director so I have little doubt he can pull this off.
The Worlds End (25 October)
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are finally going to release the third in their “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” each of which has been an homage to a certain type of film so far (if you’ve been hiding in cave these last few years, Shaun of the Dead was zombies and Hot Fuzz was buddy cop action).
In addition to apparently featuring the mint chocolate chip cornetto, apparently the boys will be on a massive pub crawl towards The World’s End Pub and the world might actually be ending while they do it. That description alone is enough to get me in theatres but rest assured the film will be full of their signature comedic style and mile a minute on the nose pop culture riffs that made the previous two films (and the series they did, Spaced) so laugh out loud funny.
Enders Game (1 November)
I am of the opinion that if you have never read Orson Scott Cards phenomenal book Ender’s Game you should probably stop reading this right now, go find a copy and read it. There’s even a fantastic graphic novel adaptation if you’re so inclined. I’ll wait here while you do that.
All done? Good, then I don’t have to spoil anything. Now do you see why a movie version of this could be amazing? Harrison Ford as Commander Graff and Sir Ben Kingsley as Mazer? Asa Butterfield as Ender himself? There’s not a lot to dislike here. Well, except that Gavin Hood is directing, but remember that while he did direct X-Men Origins: Wolverine he also directed (and won an Oscar for) Tsotsi, which is an amazing film.
There’s certainly a lot more than 10 films coming out this year and more than 10 that I am quite looking forward to. Thor: The Dark World (8 Nov) and Elysium (9 Aug) both only missed being on the list by the skin of their teeth –if I wasn’t a baseball fan you can bet one of them would have made it– and then there’s the Spike Lee remake of Oldboy (11 Oct), Man of Steel (14 Jun) trying to get Superman right for the first time in decades and Tom Hanks playing Walr Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (20 Dec) and Movie 43 (25 Jan) doing it’s best to offend, well, everyone it seems.
It definitely looks like it’s going to be a good year for genre film in particular this year, which means this is going to be a good year for nerds like me.
You may have noticed that I didn’t mention The Wolverine (26 Jul) or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (13 Dec) and that’s because while I am looking forward to both of these I’m not really excited to see either. That might change once I see some trailers though so time will tell.
Sometime toward the end of 2013 I plan to revisit this list and recap whether I was excited to see the terribly great or the greatly terrible. In the mean time, what are your most anticipated films of the year?
Oscar night and I’m going to live blog the show. I was having trouble deciding where to start writing for the site and this seems like a golden opportunity really, just up and said “hey write about me!” So that is what I am doing. I will of course time stamp my thoughts as I have them, and hopefully provide you with enough context that you can read them without needing the show to be on in the background for you to understand what the hell I am talking about.
17:22: just getting set up with a place to write and record. Red carpet stuff is almost over, show about to start! Is a good thing we’re doing this without a screaming baby around. Oh wait….
17:30: Aaaaaaaand show starting. Morgan Freeman on stage. He’s welcoming us to the show, and also Billy Crystals parody montage.
17:35: Montage over. “Say ‘I’m Batman, it’ll help me!'” was hilarious, but all the jokes are pretty …. Uh…. Safe. I have a feeling this will be indicative of the rest of the show as well.
17:37: “Nothing takes your mind off these economic times like watching millionaires give each other golden statues.”. Awesome, if a little obvious. Now the singing. Oh the singing. If only Billy Crystal could sing.
17:41: I should probably point out how cynical I am about the Oscars this year, in case it hasn’t come through yet. I have a bad feeling there’ll be no risks taken tonight, and the jokes aren’t that funny so far.
17:43: First award is cinematography. Hugo wins. Second up is art direction. Hugo wins again. I haven’t seen this yet, but from what I have seen the film is gorgeous so this makes sense. I have no strong opinions about this either way really.
17:47: WTF is the band doing up in the box seats? Going back to Billy Crystal for a second my question is this: why the hell don’t they just get Hugh Jackman back again? Seriously; his song was way better and unlike Billy Crystal he can actually sing.
17:52: And now a montage of iconic moments in film. Brett from Flight of the Conchords is in the audience and I blew Simons mind by telling him that Brett is nominated for the songs in The Muppets.
17:55: The Artist wins Best Costume Design. Not surprised. Everyone looked great in it. The Iron Lady wins for Makeup. They did do a. Good job of turning Meryl Streep into Mrs. Thatcher and then aging the crap out of her.
18:03: Montage of actors talking about their first movie going experience. Mostly boring except that Brad Pitt dropped “War of the Gargantuas” which is kind of amazing. This is a movie which you need to see if you haven’t.
18:05: Sandra Bullock takes the stage. She’s about to speak Chinese. In German.
18:07: A Separation wins best foreign film. Iranian Film meant to be gorgeous. We wonder if it’s a political decision at all, but it is meant to be an amazing film. Is that too cynical? I can’t tell anymore.
18:09: Christian Bale on stage to give away the Best Supporting Actress trophy. Still hoping for Jessica Chastain. Simon and Wife taking the piss out of Christian Bale’s accent. Funny, most Brits I know do this, take the piss out of every other Brits accent.
18:12: Octavia Spencer wins for The Help. Everyone on their feet. Kind of brilliant. She was amazing after all. I maintain that the Octavia Spencer/Jessica Chastain storyline in The Help was the best part of the movie.
18:17: So far Sandra Bullock speaking Chinese in German, Iranian Director giving a political speech for his acceptance, and Octavia Spencer winning are the best moments of the show.
18:18: Ooooh Billy Crystal makes a joke that’s actually funny. “45 minute drive indeed.”
18:20: Christopher Guest and co doing what appears to be ad lib focus group for Wizard of Oz. Kind of right up my alley. “I didn’t like it until the flying monkeys.” Fred Willard FTW.
18:25: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo picks one up for best editing. Hugo for Sound Editing and Sound mixing. I realllly wanted Drive to win for sound editing, if only so that it could have an Oscar. Kind of wish that Transformers won for sound editing just to see everyone’s reaction and also the DVD cover a Transormers film that reads “Oscar Winner.”
18:32: Can we have more Fred Willard please?
18:34: Muppets on camera. It’s a good thing.
18:35: Cirque du Soleil interpreting “going to the movies” in dance. This could actually be pretty interesting.
18:39: I wish that at some point in my life I could be half as athletic as someone from Cirque. Seriously.
18:41: Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow presenting for documentaries. Not being very funny. Fuck I didn’t see any documentaries this year at all. Undefeated wins. Yay?
18:44: Huh, first instance of someone being played off. Even cut off the mic on the guys who won best documentary. Not really fair consider there were six of them.
18:46: Best animated film is Rango. Fucking amazing since its clearly the best animated film from 2011 and Gore Verbinski is overdue. Maybe a bit surprising that the film that was the best was chosen.
18:50: Any voice actors in the audience? I’d like to hear what you have to say abut Chris Rock’s little description of your job. I’d be willing to bet that you’re maybe wanting to go all Hulk SMAHSH right now?
18:54: Emma Stone is amazing. That is all.
18:55: Lots of good choices for visual effects but Hugo wins. Seems like Hugo is going to win all the technical awards. I wonder how that bodes for the beat picture/director awards… No I don’t, it bodes poorly.
18:59: Best Supporting Actor award. Christopher Plummer wins! Yes! About time. He’s generally speaking always great.
19:10: You know, I think they should just let the hosts of these shows run wild. When these jokes are so blatantly scripted they aren’t funny. If they’d just let them ad lib and make fun of the audience it might actually be good. So far Billy Crystals best jokes have all been off the cuff remarks, like the one to the president of the academy, “mister excitement.”
19:13: The Artist is totally going to win best score.
19:14: The Artist won best score. I mean, how could it not? The film is all music. On top of that the score is really good, too. Also John Williams had two nominations for the same score. YEAH I SAID IT.
19:18: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifiniakais presenting for best song. Muppets to win, right?
19:19: Bret Harrison of Flight of the Conchords is now an Oscar winning musician. Fuck Yes. Muppets FTW.
19:25: is it just me or is Angelina Jolie not looking super healthy? She looks like a stick figure. Either way, The Descendants just won best adapted screenplay. I’m sure it’s great but I was really pulling for Moneyball.
19:29: I really hope Woody Allen wins for best original.
19:30: Woody Allen wins. Fucking A. I’d really like to see him win best picture as well but don’t see it happening.
19:37: You know, the technical awards should get more than just a 2 minute recap. But maybe I’m a huge nerd.
19:39: Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig making innuendo about short vs long film should be cliche but somehow is just funny.
19:42: Are all the best documentary nominees seated in the nose bleeds? Do they get to give their speech after the next awards when they finally get to the stage?
19:45: That’s a capitol hat the guy who won for best animated short is wearing. Jaunty angle as well.
19:50: Michael Douglas is clone of Kirk Douglas right? Time for the best director. Thinking that The Artist will likely win. If something I don’t want to win is going to win though, let it be Hugo. If something I want to win wins let it be Midnight in Paris.
19:53: aaaand The Artist wins for best director. Le sigh.
19:57: Governors awards. Again, wish they weren’t given such a brief recap. Just make it part of the show. Or, better yet, replace the red carpet BS with them.
20:00: Only best actor, actress, and film are left. Not hopeful for anyone involved in films that don’t rhyme with “de smartest.”
20:03: Time for the in memoriam. Usually this is when we get to hear how famous people were by how loud the crowd claps, but no one is clapping. Fucking finally.
20:13: ok the show is starting to feel dragged out. But at least Natalie Portman is on stage to give ay the best actor award. I’m sure Rene Dujardin will win, but we’ll see. Nice little unspoken exchange between her and Gary Oldman as she talked about his performance in Tinker Tailor.
20:18: Jean Dujardin wins. Not surprised in the slightest. Don’t get me wrong, while I didn’t think the movie was worth all the awards it’s winning or even like his character? He did a brilliant job. That said, GARY OLDMAN WAS NOMINATED.
20:24: Here’s Colin Firth to give the best actress award. No idea who it will be. Meryl Streep won the BAFTA but that’s British isn’t it. Viola Davis needs to win, Rooney Mara I want to win, but I have a feeling it’ll be Bernice Bejo.
20:29: Oh wait Bernice Bejo wasn’t nominated. Fuck. I had kind of assumed that she was. Either way, Meryl just won and it’s about fucking time. Even if Viola Davis should have. But seriously, about time. 13 nominations between wins?? Too many.
20:32: Tom Cruise to present best picture. With a montage. It’ll be The Artist, but I really want it to be … Well, they’re all good, but Midnight in Paris. Or Moneyball.
20:36: And The Artist wins. Quel surprise. Between Hugo cleaning up the technical awards and The Artist cleaning up everything else it doesn’t seem like anything else won much of anything.
You know, this ceremony wasn’t very exciting. I hope next year there’s some risks, some more varied choices, and that the theme is a little more specific than “we like movies.”. I’m going to sleep on it and recap in a day or two with more feelings on who won and who didn’t but long story short: boring, Emma Stone hot, Angelina Jolie not hot, and very few surprises.