movies

bring on the Tropic Thunder

i’m counting the days till i can watch Tropic Thunder and the biggest reason for this breathless anticipation is robert downey‘s droll protrayal of Kirk Lazarus, an Aussie actor who goes through a skin color-changing procedure so he can play a black dude in “Tropic Thunder” — a movie-within-a-movie storyline that could easily pall on the viewer if it weren’t so funny.

Tropic Thunder tells the story of a cast of self-absorbed actors who have signed up to star in a war movie for various reasons (mostly to prop up their career), and their hapless, irate director who finally decides to continue filming in Southeast Asia to inject a sense of realism into the story. the only problem was, the cast stumbled into the lair of bad guys who mistook them for the real thing.

aside from robert downey, Tropic Thunder also stars ben stiller (who happens to direct this movie), funny guy jack black and brendan jackson. rounding off this improbable mix of cool stars and incongruously funny plot is an array of incredible cameos from nick nolte (as the vietnam vet/author), matthew mcconaughey (as the talent agent) and tom cruise (as the balding and expletive-spewing Hollywood exec).

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wanted: a swell movie

due to a spatter of good films i’d seen lately, i really didn’t think Wanted would measure up to the rest, so i basically ignored it.

good thing my friend was insistent about watching it. actually she had already seen it, but i guess she just wanted to persuade me that it was good enough for second viewing. also, i wasn’t in the mood for Hancock, so i gave in.

ok, more than halfway through the film i got convinced. and during the last 20 minutes i was half-cursing myself for not seeing this earlier. i initially thought it was more hype than anything, but after considering the movie from many angles i am now sure that it’s one of the better films i’d seen so far (2008).

wanted this

angelina jolie (Fox) was — as expected — great. it’s almost downright easy to see her as this beautiful and lethal assassin who can kick your ass with a mere flick of her finger. james mcavoy (Wesley Gibson), although not the first actor you would automatically think of for an action flick like Wanted, does an amazing job as a reluctant recruit into a secret band of assassins. and morgan freeman (Sloan) has a heavy screen presence that would serve him in any role he chooses to portray.

if Timur Bekmambetov (director) had chosen to play Wanted (based on a comic book series by Mark Millar) as a straightforward story, it would have lost most of its charm and heft. The twist near the end made things worthwhile and more interesting.

[i’m seeing The Dark Knight for the second time tonight, so my review on this amazing movie will have to wait till then.]

countdown to Kung Fu Panda

 

Kung Fu Panda is generating some favorable early buzz courtesy of some early good reviews and its splashy appearance in the Cannes Film Festival in France. the star-studded hype is spearheaded by the golden couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who incidentally provides the voice for one of the main characters in this animated flick.

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jack's panda

naturally, Jack Black, who plays the title role, gets the chance to show off his patented goofy antics while in cannes. he is joined by the heavily pregnant ms. jolie and dustin hoffman.

the cast includes dustin hoffman (ku fu masterangelina jolie (tigress), lucy liu (viper), and jackie chan (mantis).

 

Kung Fu Panda is expected to hit the theaters on june 6, 2008.

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kung fu panda cast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

indiana jones throughout the years

 

indy_raiders first there was Raiders of the Lost Ark. with a careless flick of his rope whip and a wave of his trademark fedora hat, henry “indiana” jones (harrison ford) easily wormed his way into his fans’ hearts. i guess after Star Wars — where the actor played space buccaneer han solo — it was hardly a surprise.

 still, with his exciting exploits, rough-hewn looks and lopsided grin he dug deeper into our affection. and then there was the perky and resourceful marion ravenwood (karen allen) who was practically his female counterpart. at the time the movie came out, i thought there would be another movie like it. it was a fun, exhilarating ride and Indy was a remarkably easy to like as a protagonist — he wasn’t pretty but he was intelligent, capable, and could play rough when needed. and most of all, he was funny. you could laugh at him (who could forget his reaction to his pet peeve?) but it doesn’t change the fact that you still admire him. he was a REAL guy, an adventurous academic, if you will. and he was cool.

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then, came Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. i think it was the first movie that i lined up for (about 45 minutes) and ended up watching 3 times before it ended its run in local theaters. it was far better than Raiders of the Lost Ark. and Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw was a scream)! i remember squirming — those bugs — and laughing along with my cousins during some parts of it. i still rate this film as one the best adventure flicks i’ve seen.

 

when The Last Crusade came out, indy was already showing unmistakable signs of aging. still he was the same old tough customer and just as charming as ever. george lucas made an inspired decision by casting sean connery as indy’s father. and they even gathered the old crowd (john rhys-davies as Sallah, denholm elliot as marcus btody) to ‘enhance’ the story. this time the leading lady was alison doody (as elsa schneider) and the bad guys were the nazis (again!). hey, even old adolf himself had a cameo here. also it was fun to watch the father-son dynamics between two obstinate guys (indy hated being called “Junior” and retaliates by calling his old man “pops”, which of course irks Indy Sr. no end).

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 and so now we come to the last indiana jones picture: IJ and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. we know of course that at his age, we can no longer expect Indy to do his usual swashbuckling stuff (at least, not as much), so i guess it’s no surprise that george lucas added rising star shia labeouf to the cast — ostensibly to bring in the younger crowd. and for his leading lady, we have no less than cate blanchett (Spalko), who prances onscreen in an uncompromisingly black wig (which looks like it’s been screwed on with metal plates). and oh wait, karen allen also appears here, too. boy i can’t wait.

 

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will make its bow in local theaters on May 22, 2008.

 

waiting for Iron Man

two days… two days until Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges) finally hits the local theaters.

iron man flies

after hearing a lot of buzz about this movie in the last couple of weeks, i realized that this wasn’t just onc of those loud, mediocre big-budget action films (at least i hope not). we’ll know more in a couple of days.

i must admit though that intially my main interest in this movie had something to do with gwyneth paltrow‘s reappearance in the big screen and in public consciousness. and seeing how great she looked during the film’s premiere in several major cities only fueled my curiosity further. she looks just as amazing as ever.

iron man 

then, the first reviews came in. i know it’s too early to tell but a lot of critics are already giving Iron Man their thumbs up (see Rotten Tomatoes‘ account on this). i’m hoping this isn’t just one of those premature hype that eventually fizzles out. whatever. still i’m hoping i can find the time to watch Iron Man on its opening day.

 

film break: horton hears a who

i was able to catch a couple of features last weekend, and one of them is dr. seuss’ Horton Hears a Who.

jim carrey‘s sagging career has certainly received a much-needed shot in the arm with this delightful animated film. the filmmakers have done a good job of translating Horton Hears a Who, which topped the weekly boxoffice chart during its debut, into the screen and jim carrey is one of its driving forces.

it’s rather a bit jarring to see and hear jim carrey (or at least his animated alter ego) as the bumbling and innocuous Horton the elephant, who helpfully struggles to keep Whoville — apparently a tiny speck of a village perched on a small pink flower — from falling apart literally.

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the cast includes steve carrell (as the mayor of Whoville), carol burnett (sour kangaroo), isla fisher (whoville scientist) and will arnett as the dim-witted eagle who aspires to be known as a tough baddie.

film break: 10000 BC

10,000 b.c. was one of the movies i’d been able view lately. and although it hasn’t really fared well among the critics i don’t regret watching it. it performed well in the box office, though.

10,000 b.c. (i’m adding the periods here because that’s how we usually deal with these acronyms at work) is, as you might guess, set in prehistoric times when most humans lived in small hunter-gatherer groups and woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers roamed the world at large.

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with a cast of unknown actors, the film is a simple story about ancient prophecies and human ties that transcend distance and racial lines. a mammoth-hunting warrior (D’Leh) from the colder regions of the north must travel east to save the woman he loves (evolet) from the evil clutches of an advanced Egyptian-like civilization that seeks to dominate and enslave its smaller and weaker neighbors.

one of the film’s strength is the clever use of CGI, which blended well with the live action going on. some violent scenes have been toned down, i guess as a sort of concession to attract younger viewers. there are also a few rough patches here and there but overall they’re not enough to mar the whole movie.