Summer hype-o-meter Part 2: July & August 2010

April 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm (Movies)

After yesterday’s quick recap of the big May and June films, it’s time now for the second part of my summer movie list and level of anticipation. July and August bring plenty of interesting films that I’m looking forward to – especially Inception, which has been for months my most anticipated movie of 2010. But also a few stinkers.

JULY 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (dir: David Slade, US release: Jul 2, Ro release: Jul 2) – TRAILER
Fuck this film and its stupid target audience. The first one – I have seen and it’s absolutely awful. The second – I have not, but word is it’s worse than the first. This one? Pretty much everyone claims the book is the worst in the series, imagine how the film will be. Luckily – other than the aforementioned target audience – everyone pretty much realizes how bad these films are, so I’m not the only one giving a big middle finger to all of this.

The Last Airbender (dir: M. Night Shyamalan, US release: Jul 2, Ro release: Aug 6) – TRAILER
I really like Shyamalan, both as a director and a storyteller, and his first films – The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs, maybe even The Village – I really loved. However, I’m first to admit his latest efforts have been far from decent. This is why I think steering away from his own screenplays and adapting a successful story in a blockbuster franchise is possibly Night’s best career move. I’m not sold on the story, but the trailer looks awesome and this might actually be a fun summer movie (just make sure you see it in 2-D. This is one of those films converted in 3-D during post-production, so it will probably be awful).

Predators (dir: Nimrod Antal, US release: Jul 9, Ro release: Jul 9) – TRAILER
No matter what people think of the original, or the joke Paul W.S. Anderson turned the Predators into in his latest movies, this one has the potential to be an awesome action flick. Not only it’s produced by Robert Rodriguez, but it has a great cast and a bad-ass trailer.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (dir: Jon Turtletaub, US release: Jul 16, Ro release: Jul 30) – TRAILER
Any action film produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, starring Nic Cage and directed by Jon Turtletaub, has the potential to become a huge blockbuster. But, in the same time, it has the potential to be absolutely awful. See National Treasure – one of the most horrible action films of the last decade – and one of its highest-grossing ones. I’m not sure what to think of this one yet.

Inception (dir: Christopher Nolan, US release: Jul 16, Ro release: Jul 30) – TRAILER
Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Take an amazing director who never made a bad film, a fantastic cast led by Leo Di Caprio, and a story that will most likely fuck with your mind, surround everything in complete secrecy, and then release two fucking outstanding trailers – this is the perfect recipe to gain hype, following, and overall excitement. Not even the PG-13 rating this film got stuck with is making it less intriguing. It is clearly my most anticipated movie of 2010 – and not only mine: most critics placed it at the top of their lists as well.

Salt (dir: Phillip Noyce, US release: Jul 23, Ro release: Aug 6) – TRAILER
This Mission: Impossible wannabe doesn’t inspire me with any confidence. Tom Cruise pulled out because of the same reason. Angelina Jolie was brought in as a replacement (after a few rewrites of course), but an average director and a story that has been told before make me not look forward to it yet. Some good reviews might change that.


The Other Guys (dir: Adam McKay, US release: Aug 6, Ro release: Oct 1) – TRAILER
This might turn out to be the most successful comedy of the summer. A buddy-cop action flick that – hopefully – will be what Cop Out was not: funny. The trailer is amazing, the cast – despite the last few misfires – is also amazing. Yes, I am officially really looking forward to this.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (dir: Edgar Wright, US release: Aug 13, Ro release: Oct 15) – TRAILER
One of Internet’s most hyped and awaited movies of the summer – and for good reason. This looks like a really funny comic-book adaptation, full with cultural references, rock music, and all-around awesomeness. I’m not sure how mainstream audiences will respond, but the online hype is absolutely tremendous. Plus, it’s directed by Edgar Wright.

The Expendables (dir: Sylvester Stallone, US release: Aug 13, Ro release: Aug 20) – TRAILER
If reading the next few lines won’t make you get goose bumps of excitement in anticipation of this film, I don’t think you’re on the right blog. So here I go.  Sylvester Stallone. Jason Statham. Jet Li. Dolph Lundgren. Eric Roberts. Mickey Rourke. Terry Crews. Danny Trejo. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger – in the same motherfucking scene. Sylvester Stallone directing. A hard R rating. A bad-ass trailer. This is what The A-Team will not be: an 80’s action film with balls.

Piranha 3-D (dir: Alexandre Aja, US release: Aug 27, Ro release: Nov 5) – TRAILER
The last possible hit of the summer (other than dumb-ass comedies that I intentionally left out of this rundown) is also the first 3-D live-action film since Avatar that was initially conceived in 3-D – and not converted just for money. This looks like tons of fun: hot chicks during spring break, angry piranhas, tons and tons of blood (there are claims this might be the bloodiest film ever made), Richard Dreyfuss in a great cameo, an overall feeling of camp-iness, and a priceless Alexandre Aja quote: “There’s going to be 3-D double-D boobs”. A great way to finish the summer.

So there you go – this was the rundown of the biggest summer movies of 2010. If you missed Part 1, here it is. And, as I previously stated, I left out some films that might (or might not) be hits, simply because I don’t think they will be hits. Or because I found them boring. Or both.

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Summer hype-o-meter Part 1: May & June 2010

April 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm (Movies)

Tomorrow, Iron Man 2 kicks off a busy movie summer, filled with future blockbusters, sequels, movie stars and – obviously – plenty of flops and disappointments. Here’s a quick rundown of most 2010 summer movies, chronologically, and also my “hype” rating (i.e. my level of expectation for each flick, not my actual rating. I haven’t seen any of these yet, duhhh).

MAY 2010

Iron Man 2 (dir. Jon Favreau, US release: May 5, Ro release: Apr 30) – TRAILER
The first Iron Man was a commercial and critical success, so there is no reason to expect anything else from the sequel. This might be the highest grossing movie of the summer. The only reason to worry: too many villains, characters and stars.

Robin Hood (dir. Ridley Scott, US release: May 14, Ro release: May 14) – TRAILER
The trailer looks pretty cool, and there’s no reason not to be excited about Ridley Scott teaming up again with Russell Crowe. It also got into Cannes, which is always a good sign. However – was this reboot really necessary? The story doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the table, and I’m not sure I wanna see the same thing all over again.

MacGruber (dir. Jorma Taccone, US release: May 21, Ro release: ?) – TRAILER
This might be an extremely dumb, but highly funny summer comedy. Based on a character from a Saturday Night Live sketch, I’m curious to see how they’ll be able to expand that sketch in a full movie without becoming overplayed and boring. The trailer is funny.

Shrek Forever After (dir: Mike Mitchell, US release: May 21, Ro release: Jul 16) – TRAILER
I don’t think I’m the only one completely uninterested in this useless new sequel of a franchise that pretty much died with the awful part 3. I can’t imagine them being able to return to the quality of the original, so unless some positive reviews come out, I don’t care about this film.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (dir: Mike Newell, US release: May 28, Ro release: May 28) – TRAILER
I don’t know what to think of this one yet. The game was fun, but early reports claim the film steers away from the game’s story, which is always a big no-no with fans. The trailer makes it look cheesy.

Survival of the Dead (dir: George A. Romero, US release: May 28, Ro release: ?) – TRAILER
Now I have seen this one, last year at Sitges, and it was a big disappointment. It has good moments, but overall it’s another bad film from a famous director who apparently forgot how to make good movies.
Rating: 4.5/10

JUNE 2010

Killers (dir: Robert Luketic, US release: Jun 4, Ro release: Jun 11) – TRAILER
Katherine Heigl has quickly become the most annoying actress working today. All her roles are bland and boring, all her movies stink, and this one seems like no exception. The plot is dumb, the trailer is awful, and it just might have the worst poster of all time.

The A-Team (dir: Joe Carnahan, US release: Jun 11, Ro release: Jun 25) – TRAILER
This revival of the old TV show looks like fun – it has a strong cast, a funny trailer, a big $100 mil budget and it’ll probably be one of the summer’s big hits. However, in terms of ’80s style action movies, I don’t think it stands a chance against The Expendables. I’ll probably give it a go, anyway.

The Karate Kid (dir: Harald Zwart, US release: Jun 11, Ro release: Aug 20) – TRAILER
I’m not sure I’m buying this remake yet. There’s nothing to get me excited for this. It looks entirely kid-oriented, and the casting choice of Will Smith’s son seems forced (his parents are the producers after all).  Plus, the director stinks.

Toy Story 3 (dir: Lee Unkrich, US release: Jun 18, Ro release: Jun 18) – TRAILER
How can anyone not be excited for this? First of all, it’s Pixar, the only animation studio in the world that never made a bad film. Secondly, it’s a sequel to a beloved franchise that offered so far two great films. Thirdly, it’s IMAX 3D, baby.

Jonah Hex (dir: Jimmy Hayward, US release: Jun 18, Ro release: Sep 10) – no trailer yet
Anyone who knows me is aware Megan Fox is making me giddy with excitement and anticipation. Add to that this film’s dark tone, the comic-book style, and – most importantly – the score made by Mastodon, and we just might have one of the most original blockbusters of the summer. And one of my most anticipated ones.

Knight and Day (dir: James Mangold, US release: Jun 25, Ro release: Jul 23) – TRAILER
Any action flick with two huge stars like Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the main roles will be a successful action flick.  Add director James Mangold in the mix, and we just might have a good successful action flick. The trailer is also really fun. If you’re looking for a summer-time easy action extravaganza, this might be your best bet (and not Killers or other crap like that).

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 – the July & August films.

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Serj Tankian and his symphony @ Artmania 2010!

April 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm (Music)

Another unmissable show set for this summer in Romania: Serj Tankian will perform at the Artmania Festival, this August, in Sibiu. The ex-lead singer of System of a Down will perform his brand new rock symphony based on his solo album “Elect the Dead”.

Here’s a clip of what we’ll be able to see this summer, and meanwhile, you can check for tickets.

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Weekly movie wrap-up: Clooney, the goat killer

April 19, 2010 at 11:44 am (Movies, Reviews)

Another really slow couple of weeks – hence the lack of last Monday’s post. However, I did see a couple of interesting movies, so here’s the rundown.

Green Zone (dir: Paul Greengrass)
An Iraqi-set war film that drew obvious comparisons to Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker – not flattering ones, however, THL clearly being the better film. However, that doesn’t mean Green Zone is bad. Paul Greengrass knows how to direct action scenes – he showed it time and time again, especially in the Bourne films. This time, he got his star, Matt Damon, armed him with weapons and a rebel attitude, and followed him through the streets of Baghdad with increasingly annoying shaky cameras. The result is a surprisingly shallow film, with a weak plot, boring characters, but bad-ass action moments. A decent, fun watch, that never rises above mediocrity.

Hot Tub Time Machine (dir: Steve Pink)
I had a feeling this might turn out to be a really funny film – and it was. Never mind the silly premise that never gets explained (not that it needed to, anyway. What can you explain about a hot tub time machine?). The movie is funny as shit, the characters are brilliantly played by really funny actors, and the jokes are mostly spot-on – I didn’t laugh so much since last year’s The Hangover. I wish it would have offered better character development and more meat on its story, but hey, I’m nitpicking.

Cop Out (dir: Kevin Smith… not that it matters)
I have no idea why Kevin Smith accepted this project. Does he need money? Did he stop caring about what films he’s associating his name with? Did he really like the script? It’s disappointing that a talented director with a cult following, like Smith is, was lured into directing a movie that wasn’t his own and he obviously didn’t care about. This could’ve been made by anyone – the result would have been the same. But the complete lack of Smith’s touch and faith in the project isn’t the only issue. I have never seen Bruce Willis so fucking bored and boring. And Tracy Morgan… where do I start? His style fits his 30 Rock character, but when you see him playing this film exactly the same way – even the more serious scenes – it makes you wonder whether he is the worst actor alive. Despite all these rants, the movie isn’t 100% awful – it has some funny moments. But, at the end of the day, what we’re left with is nothing. KS should’ve thought about that before signing on.

The Collector (dir: Marcus Dunstan)
If you’re getting bored and frustrated with the latest entries in the never-ending Saw franchise, like me, but if you still don’t mind horror flicks with traps, torture and gore, like me, then The Collector might be right up your alley. Directed by ex-Saw scribe Marcus Dunstan, the film felt a lot fresher than it seemed by reading the synopsis. Yes, the Saw vibe is present throughout, but this is nevertheless different. I liked the whole beginning bit, with the guy and his girl’s issues, that make him decide to rob his employer’s presumably empty house. I liked the whole idea of pitting a thief against the masked killer. I liked the traps and most of the kills (yes – including the cat). And I really liked the whole mistery surrounding the killer – we don’t get to find out pretty much anything about him, and that was a welcomed change of pace after getting to know Jigsaw’s life inside out. Unlike most opinions I heard, I found The Collector to be fresh and entertaining.

The Men Who Stare at Goats (dir: Grant Heslov)
Well, here’s what just might be the weirdest film of the year. A really funny, awkward comedy about an army division that plans to develop soldiers with superpowers – including, yes, killing living things by just staring at them. Don’t let the synopsis fool you however – this has nothing to do with superheros and such. It’s just the story of a bunch of odd individuals, led by George Clooney in a hilarious role, doing odd things like trying to run through walls, convince their foes to drop their guns, or killing poor innocent goats, by simply using their heads. The film is a smart satire with goofball characters and surprising situations – unfortunately it is hurt by a bad and boring third act that lowers the overall awesomeness of the movie. Anyway – in terms of weird satires that are just.. well.. weird, it’s hard to find something weirder than this film.

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Worst Cannes line-up ever?

April 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm (Festivals, Movies)

The Cannes Film Festival just announced its official line-up for 2010, and, at first glance, it’s highly disappointing. Long gone seem the days in which most of the official competition films came from renowned directors – only a handful of films at Cannes 2010 are directed by household names. Last year’s extravaganza, with the brand new flicks from Von Trier, Tarantino and Noe, also seems far away: no controversial titles for 2010? Nothing pops out at first glance, anyway.

At least from a Romanian perspective, it seems to be somewhat okay: the new films from Radu Muntean and Cristi Puiu both made the festival. However, they’re not in the official selection, but in the smaller competition, Un certain regard.

Here’s the list of flicks for Cannes 2010 – judge for yourselves, but my first thought is, I’m glad I didn’t spend a fortune to attend this year’s festival. Other than Inarritu’s new flick Biutiful, there’s nothing in the line-up I’m really interested in.

As a comparison, TIFF is looking better and better each year – they announced just bits and pieces of this year’s films, and there are already a lot more flicks I’m looking forward to.

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May rocks

April 10, 2010 at 7:51 am (Music)

After the year’s first four months offered zero rock albums I was interested in buying, May shapes up to be one crazy month for the music lover in me, with SEVEN new releases I’m looking forward to.

Deftones – Diamond Eyes (May 4th)
The first Deftones album in quite some time, and the first since Chi Cheng’s car crash.  First video off of the album is here, and if it’s any indication for the rest of the material, we’re in for a treat.

Taproot – Plead the Fifth (May 11th)
Less than 2 years since their latest release, Taproot is back. After an album entirely independent, they signed with a major label, and already released the first single.

We Are the Fallen – Tear the World Down (May 11th)
I’m so fed up with the endless debates about this band sounding too much like Evanescence. OF COURSE THEY DO. Ben Moody created Evanescence and wrote most of their songs. Ben Moody created We Are the Fallen and writes most of their songs. It’s his right to do that, so the similarities don’t bother me one bit. The first video is great, the lead singer is great, I’m in.

The National – High Violet (May 11th)
Fifth album from this highly underrated band. Check out the first single performed live here.

Soulfly – Omen (May 25th)
Max is back with Soulfly’s new release, that will feature a meaty deluxe edition featuring a cover of Sepultura’s “Refuse / Resist”, and drumming from both Max’s sons.

Godsmack – Oracle (May 4th)
Four years and a short hiatus later, Godsmack is ready to release a new album. The first single already climbed to number 1 in the rock chart from Billboard.

Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots (May 25th)
After a separation of 5 years, STP came back in 2008 and now they’re ready to release the new album. Although I’m not crazy about the first single, it’s still a must-have album, if you were into the whole grunge movement of the nineties.

this is May. But then June will stroll along, with brand new albums from Korn and Limp Bizkit. Oh, happy summer…

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Weekly movie wrap-up: Chaos reigns!

April 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm (Movies, Reviews)

This week’s post comes a few days late – because last week was mostly about all sorts of events, meetings, concerts, walks in the park – you know, spring-related outdoorsy things, which made me watch only a couple of movies. The last few days however meant a bunch of good titles watched by yours truly – here they are.

The Fourth Kind (dir: Olatunde Osunsamni)
Milla Jovovich is the kind of actress that, by her presence alone, can turn crappy movies into something enjoyable – at least to me, anyways. If anyone else would’ve played the lead in The Fourth Kind, I would’ve probably hated it. With her in it – well, let’s just say I didn’t. To give credit where it’s due – in the avalanche of horror remakes, at least this one tries to be original, by claiming to have “real people” tell their stories about alien abductions in Alaska. If this was indeed true – it could’ve been great. The problem is, even the “real people”, that are presented in parallel with the actor “reenactments”, are fake, and every single frame is acted. Knowing this, the film loses its edge, and the whole “parallel” thing ends up working against it. However – it’s got some good moments, and it’s got Milla.

Antichrist (dir: Lars Von Trier)
Have seen this one before, have seen bits and pieces before, but this was the first time I actually watched all of Von Trier’s madness in crystal clear Blu-Ray. And I loved every second of it – including the bonus features: how about the fucking Phantom camera that shoots with 1000 fps? That’s insane. No wonder the slow-mo scenes look so brilliant. Actual movie review cooking & coming up later.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? (dir: Marc Lawrence)
I rue the day I decided to give this piece of crap a chance. Yes, it is as horrible as everyone says it is. Fucking horrendous story, boring characters that lack any kind of chemistry, and an absolutely pathetic Sarah Jessica Parker – whose acting literally made me laugh out loud a couple of times. Hugh Grant got a few smiles out of me, that’s why I didn’t give this one a 1 out of 10, however it gets a big fat

Brothers (dir: Jim Sheridan)
Shot-by-shot remakes of foreign films piss me off. This one does too – it’s completely useless, especially considering the original – Danish flick Brodre by Susanne Bier – was such a great film. However, if I were to ignore all of this, and think about Sheridan’s version as a standalone film, it’s actually really great. This is a well-written character drama about three people and the way war (any war) reflects on all of them, and influences their relationships.
If I were to give you one reason to watch this film, it’s this: Tobey Maguire. Ex-Spiderman is fucking fantastic, especially in the final half hour. He steals the film, transforming himself completely from the character he played in the first act – the guy actually ends up playing two different roles. Some scenes, after his return home, are pitch-perfect, from the way they’re shot, to the dialogue, to Tobey’s acting (Fuck it, the fact alone that my beloved Natalie Portman is in this and all I keep babbling about is Tobey, should be enough to make you realize how awesome his acting is).

She’s Out of My League (dir: Jim Field Smith)
A decent, predictable, sometimes funny comedy, that has drawn often comparisons to Apatow’s flicks – mostly because it’s a crude romantic comedy. However, comparisons stop there. This one lacks that extra layer of witty dialogue, and character insanity, that Apatow got us used with. This one is more straightforward, and never goes over the top – which might actually be a good thing. Anyway – a decent, funny watch.

Zombieland (dir: Reuben Fleischer)
A zom-com that isn’t as funny as Shaun of the Dead (although it still is pretty fucking hilarious most of the time), but makes up in memorable characters and brilliant looks. From Woody’s Twinkie hunt, to Jesse’s set of rules, to Emma being hot as shit, to Abigail kicking ass, to Zombie Kill of the Week, to BM reenacting Ghostbusters and regretting Garfield, this is as fresh and entertaining as zombie comedies are ever going to be. Have seen it last year at Sitges, in a packed theater (and by packed I mean 1.500 zombie fans), and an amazing atmosphere, with the cast in attendance. This was the first time I saw this at home, on Blu-Ray, and it didn’t lose any of its charm and awesomeness.

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