Archive for April, 2012

2012 Summer Movies

April 26, 2012

The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. That can only mean one thing:

The summer movie season is coming!

In addition to not having to go to school, it was the summer movies that made me count the days to summer vacation. The films that come out during the summer have it all, action, drama, comedy, romance and lots of cool special effects to keep things from getting boring.

In addition to the usual mix of superhero and animated films, this year’s batch of summer films are based on the following:

  • A nonfiction book
  • A book by Saddam Hussein
  • A Broadway play
  • Two fairy tales
  • A 1960’s soap opera

So, here are a few I would like to highlight.

May
The Avengers

A superhero film that Marvel fans have been waiting for, since it features, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk. Phew! That’s a lot of superheros. Expect to see a lot of fanboys on opening night. How can you tell the fanboys from the regular moviegoers? Simple the fanboys will be wearing either Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow or the Hulk t-shirts. This film opens on May 4.

Dark Shadows
Would you believe that in the 1960’s there was a soap opera about a vampire? Yes it is true and it was called Dark Shadows. The soap opera was about the Collins family and one member in particular, Barnabas Collins, who was cursed to live as a vampire by a witch. The show ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971 and developed a cult following, which lead to films and a brief return to television in the 1990’s. Now Tim Burton has directed the theatrical version, with Helena Bonham Carter as psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman and none other than Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, the very reluctant vampire. The film opens on May 11.

The Dictator
Here’s something else from the “Would You Believe” file. Saddam Hussein wrote a book. Yes, it is true and it is a work of fiction called Zabibah and the King. The book is about a love affair between a wise king and a beautiful peasant named Zabibah. Now would you believe that Sacha Baron Cohen made a film based on this book? Yes, this is true, as well. This film stars Cohen as the title character, as well as Megan Fox and John C. Reilly. It opens on May 11. By the way, I think theater managers would like it if you leave the pancake mix at home.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Who wants to watch a movie that features women at various stages of their pregnancy? Neither do I.  This stars Cameron Diaz, Isla Fisher and Jennifer Lopez and opens on May 11.

June
Rock of Ages

Who wants to play air guitar and jump up and down on a sofa?  Obviously Tom Cruise does, since he is starring in this film based on the Broadway play of the same name. This film also stars Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin. It opens on June 1.

Jack the Giant Killer
The trend of fairy tales to the big screen continues with a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. This is a motion capture film that was partially filmed in the forest that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Hobbit. The films stars Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor and Bill Nighy, and it opens on June 15.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Honest Abe was a vampire hunter as well as a president who tried to keep the country together? Wow, the dude burned the candle at both ends. Actually, this is a film by director Timur Bekmambetov, the man who brought us Wanted, and it stars Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Benjamin Walker. The film opens on June 22.

Brave
A soon to be classic from the folks at Pixar. This film features a female protagonist who has to use her moxie and archery skills to undo a curse. Features the voices of Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson and Kelly MacDonald. The film opens on June 22.

July
The Amazing Spider-Man

Another movie Marvel fanboys have been waiting for. Personally, I think the reboot was unnecessary. The powers that be could have ended it at Spider-Man 3 and concentrated on other superheros in the Marvel universe.  Of course, the fanboys will be easy to pick out in the audience, since they will be the ones wearing the Spider-Man t-shirts. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field and it open on July 3.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Another animated film for the summer and another installment in the Ice Age “saga”.  This time an iceberg is involved and it is used for a good purpose. The film features the voices of Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo and opens on July 13.

The Dark Knight Rises
Yet another film that fanboys have been waiting for, albeit this film is the one DC fanboys have been counting the days and hours to and guess what t-shirts they will be wearing? Anyway, it features Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I admit, I’ve been looking forward to this film because I want to see how Christopher Nolan ends the trilogy and I do hope this is the end of any and all Batman films. Directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan captured the darkness of Batman very well. Things got lost when director Joel Schumacher took over. So, let’s end it with The Dark Knight Rises and if the powers that be wants to do another superhero film let them pick from other characters in the DC Comics universe. The film stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Anne Hathaway, and opens on July 20.

Here Comes the Boom
Here comes a comedy about a mixed martial arts fighter. Sounds like it will become a classic, like Citizen Kane. Don’t you think? Yeah, I don’t think so, either. It stars Kevin James and Salma Hayek, and open on July 27.

August
The Bourne Legacy

This Bourne movie doesn’t feature Matt Damon, but it does feature Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. The film opens on August 3.

Total Recall
Talk about your useless remakes. The one with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone was good enough. Can’t the powers that be greenlight something original for a change? (Yes, I know I say that a lot.) Anyway the film stars Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale and opens on August 3.

The Expendables 2
If you like shoot’em up movies with explosions and car chases, then this is the film for you. Stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Bruce Willis and opens on August 17.

ParaNorman
Now this film sound interesting and original. It is a stop action animation film about a boy who can speak to (as well as see) dead people and uses this skill to save his town from an old, old curse. Features the voices of Leslie Mann, Anna Kendrick and Casey Affleck and opens on August 17.

Well, those are just a sampling of the movies that will be coming out this summer. Just be sure to save me a middle seat in the middle row.

Sources:
http://www.reelz.com/article/1421/summer-2012-preview-25-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

http://www.collinwood.net/info/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1589395859/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1589396138&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1FQXRKHC99VX0TRB9DSW

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217209/

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Be Careful

April 19, 2012

Kerry Haggard of Commerce, Georgia was sentenced recently to 6 ½ years in prison for selling fake movie posters as the real thing. He had a New York City printing company make copies of movie posters, such as The Mummy, Frankenstein, Murders in the Rue Morgue and others, he then sold them on Internet auction sites as  authentic movie posters. His scheme was eventually discovered and he was charged and sentenced. Still, many people were fooled by these posters and lost a good deal of money because of Haggard. So, I figured now would be a good time to post some tips to keep in mind if a movie poster purchase is in your future. Yes, I’ve written about this before, still it is a good idea to know what to look out for, so that you won’t be fooled.

Know What You Are Buying
Do as much research as you can on the poster you want to purchase. Google images of the poster and search for information about the movie in question. Sometimes the actors pictured or other features in the poster can increase or decrease the value. If you going to buy a movie poster from a movie that was made before 1980, you need to learn what the dominate sizes were, how many versions of the poster were used during the film’s initial release, whether the poster was rolled or folded, if it has a National Screen Service (NSS) number and so on. There are two websites that I want to mention that can help a collector learn about movie posters, one is Movie Poster Grading Company (http://www.mpgrading.com) and the other is the Learn About Movie Posters website(http://www.learnaboutmovieposters.com/).

The Movie Poster Grading Company was established so that movie posters can be authenticated with a tamper proof tag that lists identifying aspects of the poster such as the title, size, grading, history and other information. This website has a list of known fake movie posters. So, it is a good idea to check out this site before you buy a movie poster. The Learn About Movie Posters website has information about poster sizes, publicity photos and stills from movies, as well as information about preservation of the movie memorabilia and the different kinds of movie posters used in different countries. The more you know about movie posters, the less likely you are to be fooled by a fake.

Ask Questions Of The Seller
A reputable seller, whether online or bricks and mortar welcomes any and all questions, even the dumb ones. If you aren’t getting any answers, you don’t like the answers you are getting or you have a feeling that something isn’t right, don’t deal with the seller.

If A Deal Fell Through, Don’t Feel Bad
If for whatever reason, you weren’t able to get a particular movie poster and you still have your money, don’t feel too bad. If you couldn’t come to an agreement on price or other features, then it was for the best that you didn’t make that purchase. That isn’t to say that the other party was out to cheat you. Still, when making a purchase of an item like a movie poster, things should feel right. If they don’t, shake hands and walk away. Somehow you’ll get the movie poster of dreams. You just need to be patient and educated.

If Something Is Too Good…
Yes, it is cliché, yet true. If you find a Bride of Frankenstein movie poster at a flea market, more likely than not, it is a fake. If someone offers to sell you a Casablanca movie poster for $99.99, more likely than not, it is a fake. While technology helped someone like Haggard to produce a fake movie poster, educating yourself can go a long way in preventing you from being fooled by those who sell fakes.

Of course, my advice remains to not to purchase a movie poster for investment purposes, rather to purchase it for your own personal enjoyment. You can’t go wrong when you buy something that you like.

NOTE: I am not endorsing any company that authenticates movie posters, nor am I endorsing any website that has information about movie posters.  The websites and companies mentioned in this blog entry were listed for informational purposes only.

Sources:
http://www.accessnorthga.com/detail.php?n=247420

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-11/frankensteins-fraudster-sentenced-to-6-dot-5-years-in-prison

http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20120412/NEWS/120419957/1008/sports?Title=-A-look-at-movie-posters

Movie Poster Grading Company http://www.mpgrading.com

Learn About Movie Posters http://www.learnaboutmovieposters.com/

What Movie Do You Want To See?

April 12, 2012

Again, the Internet has lead to the creation of a blog entry and two articles are to blame. One article from the April 7 issue of CNet deals with a new app from FlickChart that offers movie recommendations based on the kind of movies you prefer. Another article from Roger Ebert’s blog deals with a best film list from a British film magazine Sight & Sound. What sets this best film list apart from other best film lists are two things:

  1. Assorted film critics, directors, producers, film festival organizers, etc., are polled for their top ten all time best films and this is distilled into a best film list.
  2. This list comes out once every ten years.

Well, as you can guess, these two articles got me thinking. Not so much about how art films and award winners seem to dominate these lists, rather it is how these lists are just reflections of the bias of those who put such lists together.  Those in the film industry would pick films they are familiar with. The app from FlickChart picks films based on one you already like. So, that leads to best of lists that contain films ranging from Shoot the Piano Player to Carrie.

Of course, bias in and of itself isn’t so bad. If you didn’t have things that you liked and return to time and time again (i.e. foods or activities) and vice versa, you wouldn’t have any order in your life. Still, it is important to note that these lists are not to be taken as fact. Yes, lists like Sight & Sound  and the one you make on FlickChart can help you make movie viewing choices, but they are not the be all or end all of best of lists. They are just a bunch of films that a group of people think are worth ranking.

So, don’t be surprised if art films and award winning films end up on best of lists. Critics, film festival organizers and other in the field have a bias and yes, a certain degree of film snobbery, for films in that genre.  After all you wouldn’t expect that Carrie or Porky’s would be on such a list. That’s why there’s your personal Netflix queue or FlickChart for when you are in the mood for such films. Your own best of list is reflective of your own bias.  Therefore, if watching a film like Porky’s helps you to forget your troubles, so be it.  The best “Best of” list is the one you personally make.

Sources:
http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57410710-285/get-better-movie-recommendations/

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012/04/post_5.html

 

You Win Some, You Lose Some

April 5, 2012

Well, it is not a secret that Hunger Games is a hit with moviegoers. It made over $152 million it’s opening weekend, which made it the best March movie opening ever. This film is based on books by Suzanne Collins where, in the future, young people are forced by the government to fight each other to the death. Of course, this is not the first time a book or book series got the movie treatment. Just look at the recent John Carter of Mars, those books are classics of the science fiction genre. Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who brought us Tarzan, it deals with the adventures of the title character, a prospector and U.S. Civil War veteran who ends up on the planet Mars in the 21st century. Yet, John Carter didn’t do nearly as well its opening weekend. How much money did it make? Only $30 million.  By the way, John Carter of Mars cost $250 million to make, whereas Hunger Games only cost $78 million to make.

What gives? John Carter has been around for almost a hundred years, it was written by the same person who gave us Tarzan (how many screen adaptations did he get) and has a big fan base. In addition to all of that, the film version was directed by Andrew Stanton, the guy who directed WALL*E and Finding Nemo, it had the good special effects and had the resources of Disney studios. Why didn’t it do as well as Hunger Games? Here are my thoughts.

John Carter Isn’t A Harbinger of Things To Come
While books are considered classics in the science fiction genre, they aren’t in the same league as books by Jules Verne. Verne was an engineer, so his stories had some grounding in science. Edgar Rice Burroughs was a pencil sharpener salesman, among other things and he achieved his greatest success by writing the John Carter stories. The appeal of Burroughs’ John Carter stories has more to do with characterization, (John Carter is noble, the Tharks are savages, etc.) than with any visions or predictions of the future.

The Fan Base Wasn’t Tapped Into
Many of the movie posters for John Carter didn’t feature the title character or make mention that that this film was based on the Burroughs’ books. The one that does, doesn’t show him in great detail. It looks like this:

I have a passing familiarity with the books because my brother read both the Marvel comic book version and the actual books. If you haven’t read the books or know someone that did, looking at a poster like this would make you scratch your head. There was no mention that this was based on the books by Burroughs. The blurb on the poster doesn’t draw the moviegoer in. (FYI: The blurb says, “Lost in our world. Found in another.”) Not even a mention that the person who brought us WALL*E and Finding Nemo was directing this film. Marketing campaign seemed to be “If you film it, they will come.” Well, they filmed it and only $30 million’s worth came.

Despite The Best of Intentions, It Just Didn’t Do Well
Sometimes, no matter how many pluses a movie has, and this film had plenty, it just doesn’t do well. Classics like Citizen Kane and It’s A Wonderful Life bombed when they were first released and you can’t get better plusses than Orson Wells and Jimmy Stewart. Not to mention, the John Carter books are a hundred years old, so they didn’t have the marketing machine behind them that a more recent book, like Hunger Games or Twilight has.

So, if something in your life doesn’t work out, no matter how much thought or effort you put into it, don’t feel too bad. At least you didn’t lose $165 million on your endeavor, which is what Disney stands to lose on John Carter.

Sources:
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2012&wknd=12&p=.htm

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2012&wknd=10&p=.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/movies/john-carter-based-on-princess-of-mars.html

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=371986

http://www.movieweb.com/news/second-john-carter-poster