Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Notable Films of 2012: Volume Nine

In this ninth volume I look at films that include the final chapter in the "Twilight" saga, a sequel to surprise action hit "Taken", yet another reboot of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" franchise, an update of the British cult cop show classic "The Sweeney", and 3D re-releases of the first "Star Wars" prequel and the previous record holder of the biggest film of all time.
There's also a fourth "Step Up" film, a non-Martian remake of "Total Recall", another Adult Swim show hitting the big screen, another Tyler Perry movie, the return of Kate Beckinsale in a catsuit, a contemporary set "Three Stooges" movie, and a new Judd Apatow-directed comedy.
Opens: 2012
Cast: Amber Heard, Shiloh Fernandez, Kellan Lutz, Brittany Snow, Kirstie Alley 
Director: Aram Rappaport
Analysis: An adaptation of Australian author Max Barry's highly satirical first novel "Syrup", this comedy skewers our consumerism-driven culture as it focuses on a young marketing graduate (Fernandez) who comes up with an idea for a new product called 'Fukk' which he hopes to sell to Coca-Cola.
He soon learns his college friend and former roommate (Lutz) has already claimed the copyright. Eventually he goes to work for the company and tries to undermine his former friend's new secret project at the company - the first feature length advertising movie.
On the one hand it's an enjoyably dark skewering of an industry that really doesn't get a lot of critical examination considering the size and extent of its reach. On the other it is about a bunch of backstabbing, good looking, entitled, twenty-something PR boffins which means finding a likeable character amongst these dickheads will be a tall order.
Both Darren Aronofsky and Steven Soderbergh previously expressed interest in adapting other Barry novels such as "Machine Man" and "Jennifer Government", but this will be the first to make it to the big screen. The question is will the cast and filmmakers screw up the material in the translation.
Taken 2
Opens: October 5th 2012
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Serbedzija, Luke Grimes 
Director: Olivier Megaton
Analysis: No-one expected much out of the original 2008 action thriller "Taken". Luc Besson and his Europacorp have been producing a modestly budgeted ($20-30 million each) English-language action thriller at a fairly consistent pace over the past decade. Sometimes they broke through with the likes of the "Transporter" sequels and "Hitman", most however never really took off such as "Kiss of the Dragon," "Unleashed" and "Bandidas".
Star Liam Neeson wasn't an action hero at the time, rather he was still in his 'wise mentor' phase with roles in films like "Batman Begins," "Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Chronicles of Narnia" the highlights of an otherwise quiet point. That is probably why he was cast as retired CIA operative Bryan Mills, a man who sets out to track down his daughter after she is kidnapped in France.
What followed was a slow burn hit whose success unfolded across a year's timespan. "Taken" opened in France in 2008 and much of the world in August/September of that year. Reviews were actually pretty good and the box-office was quite strong. Scheduled for the dumping grounds of January in the United States, many thought it wouldn't do well as pirated DVD rips of the film had been floating around online for months.
Didn't matter, in the end this $26 million movie made nine times its budget in world box-office alone - much of it from the U.S. - and lead to Neeson's reinvention as an action hero. Four years on we're finally getting around to a sequel with the key cast back, a substantially bigger budget, and a large international release expected.
Olivier Megaton replaces Pierre Morel in the director's chair, while the few vague storyline details released thus far have the action set in Istanbul where Neeson and his wife are taken hostage by the father of Marko Hoxha, the man whom Bryan left to die in a makeshift electric chair in the first film. It'll open big and make a good deal of money for EuropaCorp, the big question is can the film really justify itself considering the first film is essentially self contained.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part Two
Opens: November 16th 2012
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Michael Sheen
Director: Bill Condon
Analysis: Love or hate Stephenie Meyer's saga, there's no denying the impact of both the "Twilight" books and the films on popular culture. Now however it's coming to an end with the last chapter in the 'vegan vampires and virginal vaginas' series set to cap off and likely outgross the $700 million worldwide that the most recent film hauled in over the past two-and-a-bit months.
Filmmaker Bill Condon was given the arduous task of adapting Meyer's downright strangest and certainly most adult book not just onto film but spread out over two movies. The resulting first part was very much a work for the fans, indulging itself perhaps a little too much in the moments they were clamouring for and resulting in some of the weaker reviews of the franchise thus far - an undeserved honour I think as I found it the second best in the series behind the first film.
The pacing stumbled a bit once it left Brazil, while the now infamous 'psychic wolf conference' scene was a sour note. Other flourishes however were most welcome and the three singularly biggest challenges - the imprinting, the sex and the birth scenes - were handled with both inventiveness and aplomb. With the next part of 'Dawn' though, he faces an altogether different challenge.
The rest of 'Dawn' the book is all about the gathering of vampire clans from around the world to face off with the Volturi who've come to kill Bella's daughter Renesmee. What should build to a large scale vampire on vampire fight ends up being a kind of anti-climactic "whoops we were wrong, lets get out of here" letdown, an ending that divided the fan base at the time of publication.
With the film though the question becomes if Condon has changed the source material to include a more cinematic and visually epic face-off. He also has to handle a raft of new faces and characters playing the assorted different coven members (keep an eye out for Erik Odom, big things ahead for that guy). The film is already on track to break box-office records, the real question is where, in fans minds, will it ultimately sit in this series when think back on it years from now.

darkhorizons for the rest


Post a Comment


Twilight Ninjas Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template designed by Ipiet's Blogger Template