Film Fanatic

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2013 Movie trend emerges

Every year, usually by accident, a trend occurs in a number of movies.  Last year it was our fascination with bow and arrows (The Hunger Games, Brave, The Avengers), the year before it was the public’s desire not to see Ryan Reynolds movies (Green Lantern, The Change-Up, Buried).

This year’s trend: Hostility toward the President.  There have been years in the history of film where two high-profile movies come out with essentially the same plot (’97: Dante’s Peak, Volcano; ’98: Armageddon, Deep Impact; ’04: Chasing Liberty, First Daughter).  Well now you can add 2013 and the battle of White House takeover movies to that list as White House Down goes head-to-head with Olympus Has Fallen.

Based on who’s involved with both films, the early favorite is White House Down.  With a more high-profile director (Roland Emmerich), a significantly larger budget, more bankable stars (Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx) and an almost guaranteed PG-13 rating, White House Down will almost certainly become the bigger hit.  Of course it would be wrong for a year where the US government is attacked multiple times not to involve Roland Emmerich.  Judging by his past work (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), the blockbuster director can’t get enough of seeing the Oval Office destroyed.

Olympus has fallen
Photo: IMDB

Olympus Has Fallen has done surprisingly well despite its R-rating and the usually toxic box-office star Gerard Butler in the lead.  The film was a nice little throwback to action films of the ’80s and ’90s and it was a better Die Hard knockoff than the actual Die Hard movie that came out this year.  The movie is on pace to finish near the $100 million mark and considering its relatively cheap price tag ($70 mil) for an action movie, Fallen will turn out to be one of the surprises of the year.

But the trend doesn’t end with just the house at 1600 Pen.  Trailers for Iron Man 3 and World War Z reveal major action set pieces involving the destruction of Air Force One.  They should really look into amping up security.  I mean if you can’t prepare for a terrorist called The Mandarin or flesh-eating zombies than what’s the point.

Trailer(s) of the Month: Tie between Elysium and Man of Steel 

I know there’s another week to go in April, but this month has been so good that I’ve nominated two for not only best of the month, but perhaps early candidates for trailers of the year.

Elysium

A couple months ago I revealed my five under-the-radar movies to look forward to this year.  Atop that collection of films and number one on my most anticipated list was Elysium.  At the time I hadn’t seen any footage and the only photo was of a bald Matt Damon holding a badass futuristic weapon.

But because it was the follow-up film for director Niel Blomkamp (District 9 being the first), I was most excited to see what he could possibly do next in the sci-fi genre.  Based on this trailer, it looks as if he has once again delivered an entertaining futurist movie full of cool toys, unique landscapes and a socially-relevant underlining message ( a staple for any great science fiction).  District 9 was presented as a futurist allegory for the issue of illegal immigration.  Elysium looks to focus on the super privileged and elite versus the 99 percent.  If there’s a downside, it’s that we have to wait until August to see it.

Man of Steel

The first two Man of Steel trailers revealed Warner Bros. was attempting to do with Superman what they did with Batman.  Treating a superhero as a bit of an outcast in society is an effective theme that grounds the comic book genre in reality and the first two trailers strongly emphasized that theme.

man-of-steel-henry-cavill5-600x387
Photo: Collider

But the new trailer says, “remember how you all complained Superman Returns didn’t have enough action, well here you go.”  The latest preview features more of Superman’s father Jor-El as well as what is presumably planet Krypton in the middle of a war.  There’s also more Lois Lane and more of the villain played by the always intense Michael Shannon.  If there’s one thing Zack Snyder knows how to do, it’s shoot action so looks like fans won’t be disappointed in that department.

It’s also worth noting that this incarnation of Superman will not feature John William’s iconic score (Boooo).  But hearing Hans Zimmer’s new interpretation for the movie sounds terrific.  It has a great heroic sound about it and the crescendo does not disappoint.  June 14 can’t come soon enough.

Opening this week: 

Oblivion 

The latest Tom Cruise vehicle opens with much hype.  Returning to the science fiction genre (this time without Steven Spielberg), Cruise teams up with Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski to tell the story of Jack Harper, a drone repairman who inadvertently discovers the reasons behind Earth being uninhabitable.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it has something to do with the people Jack works for.

The reviews so far have been decent.  Although the common theme among top critics is that on a technical level, Oblivion is a sight to behold.  But as far as originality and sole, the sci-fi epic falls short.  Kosinski has a background in architecture rather than film and based on those comments about Oblivion as well as Tron: Legacy, I’d say the young director needs to stick to the visuals and leave the writing up to somebody else.

Place beyond the pines
Photo: Collider

The Place Beyond the Pines

Getting a wide release is the crime epic from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance.  Starring a heavily tattooed Ryan Gosling, a clean cut Bradley Cooper and the always lovely Eva Mendes, the nearly two-and-a-half hour film connects three separate stories about fathers and sons, the consequences of our actions and how far we’re willing to go to survive.

The film has been receiving outstanding reviews and I’m always interested in seeing what surprises the versatile Gosling has to offer with each new film he’s in.  And after seeing Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook, I’m excited to see him play a conflicted cop dealing with police corruption.

There was a time when I was more excited to see summer fair like Oblivion over something small like PinesBut as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realisation that story, character development and good writing trump any action sequence.  If I had to pick between the two to see this weekend, I’d choose Pines.

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