Stuff To Look At

There is still some time to go before the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is unleashed (4th May, to be shown before The Avengers in US cinemas). I am trying to avoid the TDKR scoops/spoilers like the plague. In the mean time, here is some stuff on other upcoming releases.

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows is out in cinemas on 11th may 2012 and I am really looking forward to it. Warner Brothers have released this fun featurette about vampire history and the film’s televisual past. Dark Shadows is Tim Burton’s first film since 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. The director also has Frankenweenie coming out later this year.

Prometheus

It’s all about the build up to the trailer nowadays. It was announced yesterday that a brand new trailer for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus would air on television during Homeland on Sunday evening. I might have to wait a little longer than that, as I don’t actually watch Homeland. While we wait for that, here is a short featurette on Prometheus and Ridley Scott. Prometheus is out on 1st June 2012.

The Dictator

The Dictator is due for release on 18th May 2012. Sacha Baron Cohen is stepping up promotion for the film, which will hopefully bring the laughs. Above is footage of an Australian television interview with Cohen (in character). Needless to say, there are some silly jibes.

Snow White and the Huntsman

After Mirror Mirror was surprisingly good, Snow White and the Hunstman needs to step up its game. Above is the latest TV spot for the film. I am really looking forward to the film because I like fairy tales and Charlize Theron looks like an amazing Queen. The Florence + The Machine song ‘Breath of Life’, which features in the film, can be heard here. Snow White and the Huntsman is released on 1st June, with previews from the 31st May 2012.

Rock of Ages

I for one am hoping that Rock of Ages will be the hot mess Burlesque was supposed to be. It has all the right ingredients; Tom Cruise as an ageing rocker, an eighties rock soundtrack boasting Journey and Def Leppard, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I have never seen the musical, but I am looking forward to seeing the film. You can view the trailer hereRock of Ages will open on 15th June 2012.

Trailer Round-Up

I have four trailers from the past week to share. As well as the full Prometheus trailer which debuted last Sunday, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterThe Lucky One and Casa di mi Padre are all due for release in the next few months.

Prometheus

I was lucky enough to see this trailer in 3D this week, and it looks great. Prometheus is a prequel to Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. Scott’s last few films have not been overly memorable, so perhaps returning to one of his most successful films is a good thing. Prometheus stars Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace, and is out on 1st June 2012.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Tim Burton, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a rather interesting prospect. Pitting the infamous US president as a Van Helsing-type vampire hunter sounds like a great idea for an action thriller. The film stars Dominic Cooper, Benjamin Walker, and Anthony Mackie, who does not get enough decent roles. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is out 3rd August 2012.

The Lucky One

From the first few moments of the trailer, it becomes immediately apparent that The Lucky One is based on a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. It just has that look. Zac Efron stars as a US marine who tries to track down a woman who’s photograph he credits with keeping him alive. The Lucky One is out on 2nd May 2012.

Casa di mi Padre

Will Ferrell Armando Alvarez in the Spanish-language Casa di mi Padre. According to the trailer, the comedy is from the same team behind Anchorman, which bodes well. The film looks to be a satire of Spanish-language soap operas; the trailer certainly plays on this. Casa di mi Padre is due for release in June 2012.

2012’s Most Anticipated

As 2012 arrives imminently, I thought I would share some of my cinematic picks for next year. Below are the films I am most looking forward to seeing next year. These do not include films that I have already seen that are due for general release in the next few months, such as Shame or Martha Marcy May Marlene.

1. The Muppets

Although The Muppets was released in America months ago, it is not due for UK release until February. It seems that we have reverted back to the 1980s in that the UK is getting such a big movie as this months after the US. I love the Muppets, so cannot wait for the film. I have tried not to read too much about it, but all that I am hearing so far is positive. The Muppets is released on 10th February 2012.

2. The Raven

From the trailer, this film seems to have everything; macabre murder mystery, Edgar Allan Poe and John Cusack. I love Poe’s work and the premise of The Raven sounds great; Poe pursues a serial killer who bases his crimes on the author’s work. Hopefully the execution will do the idea justice. The Raven is released on 9th March 2012.

3. Prometheus

Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated new addition to the Alien franchise, the teaser trailer for Prometheus has recently been released. It does not give too much away, but it looks very interesting. Hopefully with Scott at the helm, Prometheus will return to Alien‘s combination of science fiction and horror. With a cast which boasts Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace, Prometheus is very exciting on paper. The film is released on 1st June 2012.

4. The Dark Knight Rises

The grandaddy of them all, the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy will be one of the biggest movies of the summer. I recently watched the prologue, which was impressive on the Imax screen. Like others, I was concerned that I couldn’t understand Bane properly. The trailer looks magnificent, so as long as Bane’s voice becomes clearer, the film should be a fitting end to a fantastic franchise. The Dark Knight Rises is released 20th July 2012.

5. Frankenweenie

Another remake from Tim Burton, but at least this time he is remaking his own work. Frankenweenie was a live action short from the director’s time at Disney. Stills from the film were recently released; Burton aficionados are likely to find them reminiscent of Vincent, a short directed by the filmmaker around the same time as Frankenweenie. The stop-motion remake tells the story of a boy who tries to bring his dog back to life, a homage to Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenweenie is released 5th October 2012.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was a triumphant film series, and fans of the books were no doubt pleased when it was announced that the director would return for The Hobbit. On a personal level, I am excited for the film because I love Gollum. The trailer shows the return of familiar faces; hopefully the film will be of the same quality as the earlier series. The Hobbit is released 14th December 2012.

Film Review: Insidious

People in horror movies never actually seem to watch horror movies themselves. Otherwise, they would know to scarper at the first sign of danger, unlike the protagonists in Insidious.

Josh, Renai and their three children move into a new home. Before they have finished unpacking, strange things start to occur. When the couple find their oldest son Dalton in an unexplained comatose state, they decide to pack up ad leave. Moving into a new home, the family find that whatever was previously haunting them has followed…

Insidious is a good schlock horror that provides a decent amount of frights for those who buy into it. Some elements are unsurprisingly silly; seemingly a prerequisite of the modern horror film. Nevertheless, Insidious is an effective possession movie overall.

Much is made in the film’s publicity of the fact that the makers of Saw and Paranormal Activity are at the helm. Creator of Saw James Wan directs and Leigh Whannell writes, while Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli is one of the film’s producers. Given the success of these two recent franchises, it is easy to see why they have been played up in the advertising for the film. Although it is most comparable to Paranormal Activity of the two, thankfully Insidious is its own movie. The film does not draw too heavily on previous haunting films, despite the inevitable comparisons to The Haunting in Connecticut and The Amityville Horror among others.

One of the best things about Insidious is that the film injects a healthy dose of humour into proceedings. The appearance of Specs and Tucker lighten the atmosphere at the right time. They relieve some of the tension and sombreness that had hitherto been building. Whilst Insidious is unlikely to rank alongside cult classic Evil Dead II with this mix of horror and comedy, this aspect does distinguish the film from being just another generic possession movie.

Certain scenes in the film evoke Ridley Scott’s Legend, with their polemical imagery and use of colour. The booming score is pivotal in enhancing the sense of apprehension. The use of a recurring vintage tune is reminiscent of the Halloween series and Jeepers Creepers in giving an innocuous song a more menacing turn. Effects are good, although there is one particular use of CGI that cheapens the look of the film.

Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are aptly cast as protagonists Josh and Renai. Ty Simpkins is believable as young Dalton, while Barbara Hershey is underused as Lorraine.

With its nods to numerous horror films, Insidious is a well-crafted movie that effectively delivers the scares. It’s not The Haunting, but should prove to be popular amongst horror aficionados.

Film Review: Robin Hood

Whilst there was enough to fault with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (namely Kevin Cosner), at least it was an enjoyable adventure throughout. Ridley Scott’s version is uneven; whilst entertaining in parts, the film is not without its holes.

More of a prequel to the familiar story, Robin Hood focuses on the title characters journey home from the Crusades and to becoming the man of legend. Scott’s film departs from previous cinematic incarnations, by having this Robin assume the identity of Robert Loxley.

One of the main problems with Robin Hood is the fact that is tries to cram in too many disparate historical elements into the narrative. As well as the aftermath of the Crusades, there is the over-taxing of the peasants, the succession of King John, an invasion attempt by France, and even what appears to be the founding of the Magna Carter. All of which, quite implausibly, Robin has a part to play in…

Russell Crowe gives a performance of some bravado, as expected. His accent at time drifts from Geordie to Irish however, which becomes distracting. Cate Blanchett is solid as Maid Marion, slightly older and with more pluck than some depictions of the character.

The film is also let down by the dialogue. It flits from overblown to corny, descending to awful pun at its lowest point. The battle scenes nonetheless are fantastic, with Ridley Scott proving he excels in directing these epic action sequences. The art direction works well also, providing a muted palette to accompany the grim depiction of the fable.

Given the calibre of talent involved in this production, the end result is disappointing. Whilst Robin Hood aims for a more gritty portrayal than previous efforts, it is let down by historical inaccuracies and bad pacing, as well as the aforementioned issues. As a prequel to the Robin Hood legend it suffices, but for a more definitive version you are better off looking elsewhere. Even Disney’s 1973 animated version would be a better bet.