Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 by David Chen
In this episode of the /Filmcast, Dave Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Adam Quigley discuss their thoughts on this year’s deeply unsatisfying Oscar nominations, reflect on the intellectual bankruptcy of a Tom and Jerry movie, and vehemently debate the merits of Alan Ball’s Towelhead. We’re joined by special guest and /Filmcast favorite, actor Stephen Tobolowsky promoting the new Blu-Ray release of Groundhog Day.
Join us next week on Monday 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST as we review Taken with Liam Neeson. As always, feel free to e-mail us at slashfilmcast[AT]gmail.com or call us at (781) 583-1993.
This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry’s.
Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the DVDs at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.
CITY OF EMBER If you listen to the /Filmcast, you’ve likely already heard me discuss how surprised I was by this film. It’s not amazing by any means, and it certainly has its problems (poor action sequences, unsatisfying climax, etc.), but thanks to the film’s unique and engaging story, appropriately clunky yet cool set design, and strong performances from its young leads, it manages to make for a genuinely entertaining old school adventure flick. It’s a real shame that it bombed at the box office as poorly as it did. Blu-ray? No. Notable Extras: Absolutely nothing. Bummer.
EXCLUSIVE DEAL: What? Save $5 when you buy City of Ember and Igor. Where? Best Buy.
THE EXPRESS If It weren’t for the positive reviews, I probably would’ve overlooked this movie completely, dismissing it as nothing more than an unnecessary Remember the Titans retread. Granted, I still believe this is true, but at least it appears to be well made and acted. For many, that will be enough. Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: Audio commentary with director Gary Fleder, featurettes (Making of The Express, Making History: The Story of Ernie Davis, Inside the Playbook: Shooting the Football Games, From Hollywood to Syracuse: The Legacy of Ernie Davis), and deleted scenes.
IGOR This has been an unusual year for CGI films. For arguably the first time since 2001 (with Shrek), we actually have non-Pixar animated films nearing that studio’s standards. Among these films are Bolt, Kung Fu Panda, and Horton Hears a Who. Igor, however, is not one of them. Despite an inventive premise that plays on classic monster movie tropes, the response to this movie has been very middling, and it didn’t even seem to last a week before being instantly forgotten following its release. I still intend on checking it out though, since I’m a sucker for animated films, and while it may not be one of the best of the year, it certainly doesn’t appear to be scraping the bottom of the barrel either (see: Space Chimps). Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers and a “Be An Igor” featurette.
EXCLUSIVE DEAL: What? Save $5 when you buy City of Ember and Igor. Where? Best Buy.
HENRY POOLE IS HERE The more I read about this film, the more interested I become, and the more I think I’ll probably hate it. Those probably sound like two contrasting viewpoints, so allow me to explain: I’m an atheist. This movie is about faith. No, not faith. If what I’ve read is accurate, it seems this movie is about God, pure and simple. To elaborate, it’s about an atheist rejecting the notion of a miracle until eventually he is convinced otherwise by repeatedly being confronted with the undeniable presence of God. Now, I could be wrong, but I really can’t see this being handled in a way that’s anything other than ham-fisted and completely logic-defying. That said, I still intend on watching it with an open mind, and once I do, I’ll report back with my thoughts on the /Filmcast. Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: Director/writer commentary, a making of featurette, and 2 music videos (All Roads Lead Home, Henry Poole Is Here).
REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA I have no expectations that this will be a good film in any respect, and yet, my curiosity is piqued enough by it to merit a rental. How the hell do you even describe this film? A dystopian cyberpunk horror/fantasy goth-rock opera? Odds are, this description is far more interesting than the actual film, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enticed. It’s even enough to convince me to ignore Paris Hilton’s presence in the film. It also helps that the film stars Anthony Head, who played Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Glad to see the guy’s getting work! Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: Two audio commentaries and 2 featurettes (From Stage to Screen, Legal Assassin – A Repo Man).
MAX PAYNE (Available as single-disc and Special Edition) I had heard early word of mouth that this movie was bad, but I didn’t want to believe it. “Just because it’s based on a video game, that doesn’t mean it has to suck!” I repeated these words endlessly before the film’s release, right before referring to its badass trailer as proof of its potential. Of course, I did the very same thing prior to the release of Hitman… Apparently I still haven’t learned my lesson. Max Payne is the worst kind of bad movie: the boring kind. The only redeeming quality is its cinematography, which makes watching the film a bizarre viewing experience due to the strong contrast of the effective visual style against the terrible direction and acting. Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: The single disc will include both rated and unrated cuts of the movie, and a commentary with director John Moore and crew. The special edition will include all of that, plus a Picture Production Featurette – Part 1, a Michelle Payne animated graphic novel, and a digital copy of the film.
*Does not include 2-Disc Edition, which costs $22.99 at each of the listed stores (including Amazon).
SAW V (Available as rated edition, Unrated Director’s Cut and Unrated Collector’s Edition) I’m going to use this paragraph as a placeholder for all future entries in the Saw series that need to be discussed for “This Week in DVD”, because hell if I’m going to bother wasting any energy writing something new for every movie when they clearly have no intention of paying audiences the same courtesy. This series has been on repeat since Saw II, simply throwing in a different batch of poorly developed characters to go along with a few familiar faces while they’re forced to engage in increasingly more ridiculous death-traps that usually end with something horribly gross and/or gory. And at the end of it all, we’re supposed to jump out and shout, “Holy shit, what a shocking twist!” regardless of the cheap storytelling mechanics involved and the massive lapses in logic/believability. If that wasn’t enough, you can experience the whole thing once again next Halloween (and sadly, a lot of people are apparently eager to). Talk about depressing. Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: Both unrated editions will include a director’s commentary, a producer’s commentary, and 5 featurettes (The Pendulum Trap, The Cube Trap, The Coffin Trap, The Fatal Five, Slicing the Cube: Editing the Cube Trap). Exclusive to the Collector’s Edition is a talking box, spinning blade, and collector’s booklet.
Amazon – N/A
*Does not include 2-Disc Edition, which costs $22.99 at Target, $27.99 at Best Buy, and $28.99 at Fry’s. (Circuit City price N/A.)
If you went to the movies this weekend, chances are you either saw:
Max Payne, Oliver Stone’s W. or Sex Drive
We would like to know what movie you chose, and what you thought. Did Stone’s W. lack focus or was it the Nixon for this decade? Was Max Payne all style and no substance or a kick ass action film? Was Sex Drive the funniest comedy of 2008 or just another sex comedy? We want to know! Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Posted on Saturday, September 6th, 2008 by David Chen
A PG-13 rating can open a film up to a wider audience than an R-rating, making a big box office take just a tad more attainable. It’s not a huge mystery, then, why Max Payne director John Moore is none too pleased with the MPAA’s decision to give his upcoming film, Max Payne, an R. In a recent interview with Das Gamer, John Moore, who is apparently trying to cut the film down to qualify for a PG-13 (its original target rating) expressed some of his frustration, saying:
We’re suffering from what I call Batman blowback. The Motion Picture Association of America gave The Dark Knight a PG-13 rating and basically sucked Warner Bros. cock…The MPAA changes their rules willy-nilly and it depends on who’s seeing your actual movie at the time. It’s very difficult to get a hold on what’s acceptable. The only thing you can use is current standards. So I go and see The Dark Knight and I say, “Gee, that’s pretty gnarly for PG-13,” but I felt good about Max Payne after coming out of the theater. I thought Max wasn’t going to have a problem. And that’s not the case. They’re coming down on us pretty hard.
Moore goes on to say that the MPAA’s inconsistencies are really coming back to haunt the organization:
[The MPAA] really hung themselves with The Dark Knight. Every other filmmaker in town is knocking on their door saying, “Please sir, may I have my PG-13 rating and be as fair to my movie as you were to The Dark Knight.”
Be sure to head over to Das Gamer to read the rest of the interview.
I am very sympathetic to Mr. Moore’s plight and I couldn’t agree more about the MPAA’s horrendously inconsistent guidelines and its shameless kowtowing to big studios. But The Dark Knight? Really? The movie was certainly dark and Two-Face’s makeup/CGI job might have been a bit too intense for some of the young ones, but the movie was almost completely bloodless and very few deaths (Joker’s “magic trick” being the most notable exception) are shown on screen. This was actually one of my original complaints about the film: By not going full-bore with an R-rating, it didn’t have the flexibility to fully and visually explore the horror of some of Joker’s crimes.
Until Max Payne comes out, we wish Mr. Moore the best in his battle to get his film the rating he thinks it deserves. But in the meantime, what do you guys think of Moore’s remarks?
Discuss: Should “The Dark Knight” have been rated R? Or did the MPAA really fellate Warner Brothers, as Moore describes?
Even Bruce Wayne is beginning to think Max Payne will be a sizable hit and worth seeing. A new theatrical trailer for Fox‘s video game adaptation contains even more shots of the hypnotic angels-of-death that continue to puzzle the games’ followers. We learn herein that the winged beings are referred to as “valkyries,” and reward people who “die in violence.” Clarification, meh. Backed by the vocals of Marilyn Manson (our second reference today, k), the new trailer better emphasizes a brooding, escalatory tone that plays the right notes of fanboy nihilism. Also present are the high-charged visuals that wowed our staff at Comic Con. For a PG-13 video game gun-porn flick with many doubters, my latest impression? For what it is, Max Payne clicked.
Current comparisons online to the R-rated, totally cheeseball Hitman are predictable and warranted, but the confidence expressed in the press by Mark Wahlberg and John Moore—once attached to X3—doesn’t seem like a contractual shill-routine to me. This trailer’s vague mix of occult imagery and organized crime recalls past genre fare like The Crow and middling efforts like End of Days, and Constantine, but there’s also the sense that TDK‘s rating boundary-pushing was a real inspiration. And, c’mon, Mila Kunis firing a machine gun is equal doses ridiculous and hormone-tickling. I hereby move my chips over from Punisher: War Zone to Max Payne; admittedly, this is not a major gamble, but Payne does feature Ludacris in a fedora. Hope I’m right.
Max Payne opens on October 17th.
Discuss: Will Max Payne be a hit? What’s your impression of the final theatrical trailer? Is it cool or stupid or both? Are the valkyries symbolic or real?
Another morning on Slashfilm, another Kid Icarus in Hollywood. Previously, Robert Downey Jr. used the web to hawk an Iron loogie at The Dark Knight and DC Comics, and now Mark Wahlberg—who enjoys lighting cigarettes in the rain—says he’d pummel The Caped Crusader. Put down the Pop Tarts and take a deep breath, fanboys.
“I’m not talking about financial box office, I’m talking about one-on-one with these [puts up fists],” Wahlberg squealed to MTV while flexing in front of a mirror.
We interrupt this quote to bring you a witty message from ODB. And we’re back. Moreover, Wahlberg offered a direct and slightly ‘mo challenge to Bruce Wayne…
“Take off the suit and if you want to go one-on-one, two-on-one, and put a couple of you guys together—they all like to put the comic book characters together—come at me.”
Who is he calling “they”?! Of course, this braggadocio is in reference to October’s Max Payne, the PG-13 adaptation of Rockstar Games‘ framed cop-shoot ‘em up franchise.
“I guarantee you there’s not a badder dude in a movie this year than Max Payne. This is like my characters from The Departed, Fear, Four Brothers, all mixed into one, times ten.”
Wait a second, Fear? Mebbs he has a point.
Discuss: Should Christian Bale bother retorting in front of a mirror? Chris O’Donnell?
/Film reader, Jones Johnson, says, “Nobody’s badder than Michael Jackson. …I have doubts.”
/Film reader, Reggie, nicely references Walhberg as “a white dwarf heading for a black hole.”
ComingSoon is reporting that 20th Century Fox will released the first trailer for the big screen adaptation of Dragonball attached to Max Payne, on October 17th. Meanwhile, rumors that Fox isn’t happy with the final film have been debunked on a variety of different websites. In fact, SuperheroFlix‘s sources claim that “everyone involved seems to think they have a hit on their hands” and that the studio has already been talking about sequel possibilities. While I never expected Fox to cancel the release of the film (how do these rumors get started anyways?) I’m not sure if I believe that the executives are jumping for joy over the results.
Mark Wahberg, Mila Kunis, Ludacris, and Director John Moore (The Omen, Behind Enemy Lines) were in attendance to premiere Max Payne footage at the Fox panel at Comic Con.
During the Panel, John Moore kept repeating how important it was for him to stay as subjective to Max Payne’s character as possible. He believed once you take away the controller from the player, you better make it as personal to the audience as you can. Moore’s reasoning is that when you play the game the whole reason to play it is to feel like you’re a part of the story.
If you’re a fan of the game, you would be excited of what we had the privilege to witness. For instance, one scene involved Max Payne following some “junkies” into a subway system. As he passed them, they were sitting on a bench, he took a right into the bathroom. The next thing we saw was Payne looking into the mirror, he noticed the reflection behind him were the junkies. A shootout soon took place inside the bathroom, if anyone has played just the beginning of the game, the set were this taking place will seem very familiar.
Some other perks from the game, has Max Pax Payne narrating how he feels, using very dark metaphorical dialogue, but making it as simple sounding as it can, giving the feeling like you’re listing to someone read a comic book.
The last thing we were shown was a 3 minute highlight reel of the movie. It started with a zoomed shot of a barrel of a handgun, then with the same single shot started zooming back, until you saw Mark Walhberg standing holding the gun in in a alleyway while it was snowing. It went on with Led Zeppelin’s “Candy Store Rock” blasting in the background and seeing quick clips of various gun fights and showing different characters Max Payne will encounter, including dream sequence that are involved with the game. It ended with with a scene showing Max Payne holding a hostage in a office with an swat team of about ten, holding guns pointing to Payne. He throws the hostage to the ground and a fire fight ensues. Payne on one side of the room, the swat team on the other. Max Payne then tries to sneak to the other side of the room, ducking and dodging bullets by using the office desks as cover. At one point the emergency sprinklers go off, giving the firefight a little beauty to the scene.
At the end of the firefight, we see Max Payne dive, while shooting at a door to unlock it. The clip then slows down, using a bullet time effect much like what the game does. John Moore briefly discussed how they achieved bullet time. by Using a hard drive called Phantom. Phantom is a machine that can record video at 1000 Frames per second, which gives the effect of slowing down time time to the thousandth degree. The effect gives a smooth rendition of what the game does so well.
All in all, the movie has beautiful cinematic shots but the question remains, will the story be worth watching? Again, they seemed to keep the simple dialogue from the game, I’m not sure how well that will translate for a full movie.