In the past five years, the city of Geneva, New York, has emerged from decades of post-industrial limbo and embraced its status as a college town. Establishments like The Red Dove Tavern, Opus, Joe’s Hots (which was the subject of a documentary in this year’s festival), Finger Lakes Gifts & Lounge, Stomping Grounds, and Microclimate have reanimated a previously soporific (and sometimes ominous) downtown. Many of the owners of these establishments are not lifelong residents, but outsiders who have ended up in Geneva for one reason or another. Others grew up in Geneva and/or the surrounding areas, moved away, and then returned to take advantage of the wide open spaces and low property value. They are passionate about the natural beauty of the area and the opportunities Geneva represents.
On the more arts end of this development is Headless Sullivan, an alternative/experimental theater group; Geneva 13, a ‘zine devoted to documenting the peculiarities of the city; The Cracker Factory, an arts space that exhibits the work of artists and hosts the Finger Lakes Film Festival, an annual showcase of short films held every November. While not particularly oriented toward the independent film community, the Finger Lakes Film Festival is perhaps the only film event in Western New York that not only acknowledges but cultivates a DIY Film Culture. Like a lot of people involved with the exhibition of independent film these days, the organizers of the Finger Lakes Film Festival are motivated by nothing except a passion for showcasing locally-oriented short films.
I’ve been meaning to write about the FLXFF for a few years now. In 2009, I had a film in the festival, Strong Enough for a Man. For the last couple of years, I’ve been hard at work on my own feature, which has kept me from submitting material to the 2010, 2011, and the 2012 festivals. In the past, the festival was spread over the course of three nights: two nights of screenings, and an awards show. This year, everything was presented in one evening, in part, because the festival received fewer submissions than it has in past years. Nonetheless, organizers Kevin Dunn and Michelle Eades seemed very pleased with the turnout. “There are way more people than we expected!” Dunn announced at the start of the program.
The festival is divided into three age categories: K-12, College, and General, and divided five genre categories: Narrative, Experimental, Animation, Documentary, and Music Video. There are only two prerequisites as far as entering the films: the filmmaker must have resided in the Finger Lakes Region at one point in their life, and the film must be less than 20 minutes in length. The evening was broken into two parts: six films in the first part, five films in the second part. At the end of the evening, the audience voted on the People’s Choice, which was tallied as the other awards were handed out. Each filmmaker was handed a trophy that was designed by Brandon & Amy Phillips, owners of Miles & May and The Cracker Factory.
Each year, there are some films that are worthy of being entered into larger festivals, and this year was no exception. Among the standouts (in this writer’s opinion) of this year’s festival were Raymond McCarthy-Bergeron’s Here Inside You, a montage of city scenes and interpretive dances, and Christar Kei Yan Wan’s The Puzzled, a multi-screen presentation of a man trying to communicate with his girlfriend, which won the grand prize. Also impressive was More Than A Restaurant, a short documentary about Joe’s Hots and owner Joe Malone’s contributions to the city of Geneva; Alex Aronson’s very funny Extreme Home Makeover: Manhattan Edition; and 14-year-old Ali Augustine’s Just Get Up, a stop-motion animation short made with a doll named Peyton that won the People’s Choice Award. Returning with films this year were past award winners Matias Shimada with New Exposures, winner of the Narrative Film Award; Noah Pitifer and his film The Secret; and Max Messie with two films, Mistakes Made and Sunset Swimming.
If there’s anything I wish was at this festival, it’s the one thing I wish they had every year: a Q&A session at the end of the screenings. A Q&A session would give people a chance to learn how these movies got made, and what motivated the filmmakers to make them. Otherwise, a great program as always, and I am looking forward to next year’s festival. Hopefully I’ll have something to show.
Here is a complete list of this year’s winners:
Erin Scherer blogs at the Film Panel Notetaker.
'Girl Meets World': Which original cast members are returning for the 'Boy Meets World' series? (+video)
[UPDATE: Danielle Fishel has posted her own statement about Girl Meets World.]
Just about every other person who came of age watching Boy Meets World back in the 1990s – or when the Disney Channel began reruns in the early 2000s – was hit by a strong wave of nostalgia when the story broke earlier this month that BMW co-creator (no pun) Michael Jacobs and the Mouse House are actively putting together a followup TV series, titled Girl Meets World.
GMW revolves around the 13-year-old daughter of (still) married couple Cory and Topanga Matthews. We’re currently waiting to learn any major plot details beyond that – though, it’s confirmed that Cory is now a junior high teacher, following in the footsteps of his ever-tormented mentor and neighbor George Feeny (William Daniels).
Everyone’s been waiting for confirmation that Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel are returning to portray the adult Cory and Topanga, seeing how the two literally grew up playing those roles throughout all seven seasons of BMW. In fact, at this point, it’s fair to say that fans of Jacob’s original coming-of-age sitcom would be up in arms if another pair of grown-up actors were recruited to portray those characters in Girl Meets World (Topanga’s parents, on the other hand…).
TV Line reports that Savage and Fishel have indeed signed on to return as parent-age Cory and Topanga. (Are you feeling old yet, members of Generation X?) There are still plenty of other Boy Meets World cast members who could/should make an appearance on Girl Meets World – be it crazy Uncle Eric (Will Friedle) or ‘Uncle Shawn’ (Rider Strong) – especially since, let’s face it: the majority of the audience that’s going to tune in for this series (initially) will be grown-up BMW fans yearning to see some familiar faces on the sidelines.
On that note: it will be interesting to see whether or not Girl Meets World develops the sort of following that its predecessor did. Looking back, it’s all the more easy to see why Boy Meets World was successful: the show has likable leads, memorable supporting characters and manages to offer wholesome family entertainment without fully sugar-coating the lives of younger people (see: Cory’s frustrations with abstinence).
Can Girl Meets World manage a similar feat once nostalgia has worn off for Boy Meets World fans? It could be tricky, seeing how the tone of that series might end up closer to Disney Channel TV series from the past decade (ex. Hannah Montana) – or, alternatively, if the style doesn’t change, more cynical modern viewers might perceive it as too corny. As the wise man once said, we shall see…
Update: Fishel has posted the following statement (via Tumblr):
First of all, let me say that you, the fans of Boy Meets World, have been awesome. That word is often used incorrectly by people, including myself, on a daily basis but you have truly been awe inspiring. You, yes, even YOU, are the reason that Girl Meets World WILL BE MADE. J
I do not know how many BMW cast members will be returning for GMW, or how often they may appear if and/or when they do appear. I am going to do my best to not speak for others with this open post. But because I have known Michael Jacobs, Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Will Friedle, and Bill Daniels for 19 years, I know we share many of the same feelings regarding the 7 wonderful years we spent making BMW. Those years were among the most warm, hilarious, insightful, educational years of my life and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Another thing I wouldn’t trade for anything is the integrity and the heart with which BMW was made. I promise with the entirety of my heart that we will make GMW with the same honesty, innocence, and intelligence that you learned to expect from BMW.
I say this because making the decision to do the show involved more conversations than you can possible imagine. These conversations were with the same people I mentioned above because they were all instrumental in creating and maintaining the heart of BMW. The first comment out of every person’s mouth was, “Let’s only do it if we think we can create something as special as we did with BMW.” When the news leaked that GMW was in the making, literally days after I first heard about the project myself, Michael Jacobs and I had a conversation and we talked about how we were both so blown away by the reactions from all of you. We felt honored. We felt nostalgic. We felt touched by the excitement in your comments, tweets, Tumblr, and Facebook posts. But most of all, we felt inspired. We felt inspired to bring these characters back to life and to tell you more of their stories. Michael said to me, “Danielle, when I read what people say BMW meant to them it makes me so very proud of all of us. I think it is important for us, for as long as we are fortunate enough to have this opportunity to do GMW, that we all look each other in the eyes every so often and make sure we know we have something of value to offer the audience.” I think we have that with GMW.
I say that so that I can say this: GMW is a new show. It isn’t BMW brought back to life but in current day. It will have familiar faces, familiar themes, and familiar messages. It will also have new faces, new themes, and new messages. BMW never spoke down to the audience and we are going to do our best to never do that with GMW. But please keep in mind that this there will be episode 1, of season 1, of a brand new show. We started at the same place with BMW but we evolved and we evolved quickly. For those of you who knew and loved BMW, please allow this show to evolve as well. Stick with us. Give us a chance.
In the meantime, a sincere thank you to every one of you for all of your tweets (I read them all, every day. It killed me not to be able to talk about it!), even those of you who asked us not to do it. There were only a few of you but I know why you don’t want GMW to happen and I appreciate that BMW meant enough to you that you don’t want to see its legacy tarnished. I can assure you, we don’t want that either. Your love, dedication, and appreciation means more to us than you could ever know and it will be the driving force behind our passion to make the best show we can possibly make. Thank you for giving us the chance to do it again.
More on Girl Meets World as the story develops.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
The Oscar race now officially includes Les Misérables and Zero Dark Thirty – which shouldn’t come as a huge shock, seeing how the former is an adaptation of producer Cameron Mackintosh’s award-winning Broadway smash from director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). Meanwhile, the latter is a drama/thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden from Oscar-winning Hurt Locker screenwriter and director duo, Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow.
Nonetheless, both films had their first public screenings over the Thanksgiving holiday frame and drew unadulterated praise from those in attendance. Read on for our breakdown of what the general consensus is for both titles… so far.
Hooper’s Les Miz has long been regarded as something special, seeing how trailer footage suggests it infuses Mackintosh’s original pop musical with a stripped-down aesthetic that helps ground the flamboyant proceedings (unlike Joel Schumacher’s Phantom of the Opera or Rob Marshall’s Nine, to name a few examples). Moreover, the cast boasts heralded actors with professional singing experience; that’s in opposition to some of the recent movie musicals that’ve relied on either name-actor casts (Mamma Mia!) or Broadway veterans (Rent).
Reviews for Les Miz are embargoed for the time being, but Indiewire has rounded up Twitter reactions from several critics and film journalists who were at the first open showing. Here’s a bullet-point summary of the responses:
- Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean could land his first Best Actor Oscar nod.
- Anne Hathaway as Fantine is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination.
- Eddie Redmayne as Marius turns in a solid supporting performance.
- Russell Crowe takes a “Jesus Christ Superstar rock-opera” approach that distinguishes Inspector Javert (but may not be to everyone’s taste).
- The film as a whole is a “tour de force” and “tearjerker” that seems destined to become a Best Picture nominee.
Similar to Les Miz, Zero Dark Thirty is picking up accolades for its leading lady – Jessica Chastain as CIA analyst Maya (who is based on the real CIA agent that led the manhunt for bin Laden) – and its qualities as a cinematic viewing experience. Deadline has published an article that touches on the heavy research by Boal and Bigelow, suggesting the two have learned some lessons from the blowback over Hurt Locker‘s portrayal of Iraq war military operations (which some real-life vets criticized as inauthentic).
Here’s an excerpt from THR critic Todd McCarthy’s review:
“As it has emerged instead, ['Zero Dark Thirty''] could well be the most impressive film Bigelow has made, as well as possibly her most personal, as one keenly feels the drive of the filmmaker channeled through the intensity of Maya’s character. The film’s power steadily and relentlessly builds over its long course, to a point that is terrifically imposing and unshakable. Chastain carries the film in a way she’s never been asked to do before. Denied the opportunity to provide psychological and emotional details for Maya, she nonetheless creates a character that proves indelible and deeply felt.”
Time‘s Richard Corliss echoes those sentiments (read his review), saying that Zero Dark Thirty is a streamlined, but detail-oriented, representation of real events “in the tradition of [authors] Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff.” Moreover, Corliss feels that Bigelow’s film trounces Ben Affleck’s own true story CIA thriller (and fellow Best Picture contender) Argo, in terms of both better direction and taking fewer liberties with the facts.
In summation: both the Best Actress and Picture race heated up something fierce over the holiday frame, between early responses to Les Miz and Zero Dark Thirty. That’s not to mention, Ang Lee’s acclaimed 3D visual feast Life of Pi opening in theaters (read our review) and David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook (read our review) beginning a limited release and generating discussion about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance therein.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
(Warning: Spoilers for part of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2" ahead.)
After stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner took part in various interviews as part of a "Breaking Dawn" media blitz, the Internet started buzzing about hints the actors had dropped about a twist in the last movie of the “Twilight” series. A twist? There was no twist in the books. Would something be different? Would the ending be changed? Would protagonist Bella Swan (Stewart) end up with someone besides her vampire husband Edward (Pattinson)? What did it mean?
And now the movie, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” (ask film critics how happy they are not to have to type that out anymore) has been released, and it was discovered that, while there was a twist, it didn’t affect the outcome of the story as a whole, though it did get the audience on the edge of their seats.
You see, to make a very long story short, the end of “Dawn” has Bella, Edward, and their vampire family facing off against evil vampires. At one point, it looks like a fight begins and Edward’s foster father, one of his foster brothers, and the leader of the evil vampires, among others, bite the dust (no pun intended) in the attack. Then it turns out that this was all a vision, a hypothetical situation, if you will. One of the good vampires, who can see the future, has shown the vision to the leader of the evil vampires to show him what the cost of the two sides fighting would be. This helps convince the head evil vampire (Michael Sheen, who by all accounts goes gloriously crazy as bad vampire Aro in this movie) to call off the battle.
Of course, while this scene was not actually a change to the plotline (it’s referenced in the books that Aro is made to see the vision, though the reader only hears about it afterwards), some fans still didn’t like it.
My take? Good for them for changing SOMETHING (even if, comparing it to the text, it’s an incredibly small change).
I know that adapting a book into a film is an incredibly delicate balance, even more so when the book has a devoted fanbase attached. But the director and the creative team behind him or her needs to feel free to create the best product, the best movie, that they can without it being obvious that they tied themselves to every word on the page of that book.
Case in point: the “Harry Potter” films, an almost parallel case in terms of how attached fans are to the books (and a franchise I happen to like a lot more than “Twilight” – sorry, fans). The first two movies in the eight-part series were directed by “Home Alone” helmer Chris Columbus and are fine, but you could almost feel the desperation in “Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Chamber of Secrets” to pack everything in, make sure no moment was missed, get as close an adaptation as possible.
“Director Chris Columbus vowed to be faithful to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and to a certain extent he is,” USA Today critic Claudia Puig wrote of the first movie. “But one can be faithful to a plot without being faithful to the book. Harry Potter, the film, looks just as dazzling as readers of Rowling's captivating book might hope. But the movie ultimately lacks the book's delightful whimsy and much of the sly verbal humor that made Rowling's tales so charming.”
But then Columbus left after “Secrets,” and the next movie in the series, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” was directed by Alfonso Cuaron. His adaptation just seemed easier, more relaxed – a trend that would continue with the rest of the movies, which were directed by two others (Mike Newell and David Yates) but had a similarly effortless air. Yes, things were left out, and sometimes – gasp – things were even different, such as the way the members of the secret club known as Dumbledore's Army were rounded up by evil headmistress Umbridge in the fifth movie. In the movie, the headmistress and her henchmen make a wall explode, revealing the members inside a hidden room. Did that happen in the book? Nope. Did that look awesome in the movie? Definitely.
Many liberties were also taken with the plot of the eighth movie, which was the second half of the seventh book, but you barely heard a peep about them from fans. Supporting character Lavender Brown, who was attacked by a werewolf but survived in the novel, was killed by the werewolf in the movie, but that showed the cost of the evil attack on the school, one which killed a lot of students. We saw, and didn’t just hear about secondhand, a scene in which two of the main characters, Ron and Hermione, finally got together, and fans literally cheered, because everyone had wanted to see that anyway.
As every book fan who is also a moviegoer knows, literary adaptations have a bad track record. And sure, directors who are given the task of creating an adaptation shouldn’t toss the book away and start throwing whatever they feel like in front of the camera. But a movie is its own entity, not just an extension of the book – or at least, it should be.
So breathe, Twihards. It’s going to be okay.
It’s almost Turkey Day, and so obviously it’s time to turn on those… Thanksgiving… movies and play all those Thanksgiving… songs?
Okay, so compared to the winter holidays and even Halloween, Thanksgiving, sandwiched in between, gets short shrift in pop culture. In terms of holiday movies, most of America would probably recognize the Peanuts singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” or the Grinch stealing presents (and that’s just the animated movies), and even Halloween has gotten some Disney movies that are beloved by many ‘90s children such as “Hocus Pocus,” “Halloweentown,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” to say nothing of frightfests centered around the holiday such as the cannily titled “Halloween.”
While Thanksgiving may bring to mind turkey dinners and family gatherings, it doesn't have a lot of pop-culture recognition. However, while it’s lagged far behind its fellow fall and winter holidays, the celebration and its turkey-laden tables have served as the focus for a few movies, some classic TV episodes, and even a couple of songs. Here are a few you may have forgotten about.
–The most well-known is probably the 1987 film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” which finds a frantic Steve Martin (playing the straight man, mostly) trying to get home for Thanksgiving and meeting a friendly but disaster-prone fellow traveler (John Candy). The movie also features a turn by “This Is Spinal Tap” actor Michael McKean as a state trooper and a cameo by Kevin Bacon, whose character snags a taxi ahead of Martin.
–“Pieces of April,” which was released in 2003, stars Katie Holmes as April, a Manhattan resident trying to cook dinner for her estranged family in her tiny apartment as the family deals with April’s mother (Patricia Clarkson)’s breast cancer.
–“Home for the Holidays” is a 1995 film starring “The Incredibles” actress Holly Hunter as Claudia, a single mom who decides to spend Thanksgiving with her parents and siblings. Charles Durning and Anne Bancroft played Mom and Dad, while Robert Downey Jr. was the brother who tries to set up Claudia with a friend of his.
–The Peanuts gang, welcome at any time of year, celebrated the holiday in two separate specials. 1973 saw “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” which first aired on CBS and includes Lucy pulling that pesky football away, Charlie Brown suddenly finding himself hosting a holiday dinner for some of the other kids, and Snoopy and Woodstock in Pilgrim costumes. As part of the series “This is America, Charlie Brown,” the Peanuts gang tagged along with the Pilgrims for the first Thanksgiving dinner in Plymouth in an episode titled “The Mayflower Voyagers,” which first aired in 1988.
–The longrunning NBC sitcom “Friends,” which ran from 1994 to 2004, became well-known for its Thanksgiving episodes. Memorable escapades included all six playing a touch football game which brought up old sibling rivalries between brother and sister Ross and Monica, Chandler spending the holiday in a cardboard box to make up for kissing his roommate’s girlfriend, and star Jennifer Aniston’s then-husband Brad Pitt guest-starring as an old high school classmate.
–“Cheers,” which aired from 1982 to 1993, featured a Thanksgiving dinner that ended up airborne when the cast went to Carla (Rhea Perlman)’s house for a badly cooked dinner which turned into a food fight.
–Many classic rock radio stations still play the 1967 song “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” recorded by Arlo Guthrie, at noon (or occasionally other times) on Thanksgiving Day. The anti-draft song is 18 minutes long and considered a Turkey Day song because the main character, Arlo Guthrie, is arrested for littering after the town dump being closed on Thanksgiving Day leads him and his friend to throw their trash elsewhere.
–Though people who only know the beginning may be confused by its association with Thanksgiving, the song “Over the River and Through the Wood,” written by Lydia Marie Child in 1844, is often now sung for Thanksgiving because of the end of its second verse, which states “We would not stop for doll or top/For ‘tis Thanksgiving Day.” (The last line mentions pumpkin pie, too, but that could be for either Thanksgiving or the later holidays, we guess.)
The long wait for the return of Game of Thrones is almost over. This week HBO finally revealed the Game of Thrones season 3 premiere date in poster form, setting the highly anticipated return to Westeros for March 31, 2013.
The poster (see below), which is as basic as they come, simply states the date 03.31.13. If a more colorful poster is what you’re after, you’ll have to keep an eye out for HBO’s familiar release of teaser posters, character posters and season posters in the coming weeks (and months).
When Game of Thrones returns next year for season 3, there will be a few additions to the cast, hinting at what potential storylines await fans. The most notable addition is that of Mackenzie Crook as Orell, a wildling and “skinchanger.” Cook’s character comes from the source novels, but will likely be combined with the story of a similar character, Varamyr Sixskins, for the TV series, making the character of Orell much stronger than he originally was (as well as giving him abilities).
In addition to Orell, King Joffrey Baratheon will also be receiving some new guests in season 3, now that Diana Rigg has been cast as Olenna Tyrell, grandmother to Joffrey’s fiance, Margaery Tyrell. Lady Olenna, nicknamed the “Queen of Thrones,” isn’t fond of playing simple games (or being around simple minds), so it’ll be interesting to see how she gets along with everyone’s favorite evil boy King.
Not to be left out, Snow Patrol lead singer Gary Lightbody and Coldplay drummer Will Champion will also play a part in Game of Thrones season 3. As to what role they’ll play: Champion is said to be playing a drummer, while Lightbody has said that his role is “not pivotal.”
Unlike in Game of Thrones season 2, which was based on the entirety George R. R. Martin’s second novel, “A Clash of Kings,” season 3 will only use half of Martin’s third novel, “A Storm of Swords,” after produces decided to split the novel up between Game of Thrones season 3 and season 4.
Considering the length of “A Storm of Swords,” splitting it up between two seasons seems like the best option for HBO’s hit series. With so many compelling character moments, providing the producers more time to highlight those moments will certain pay off for fans of the book series who are waiting for their favorite plot-points to be depicted onscreen. That being said, I’m sure fans of just the TV series wouldn’t argue against getting more Game of Thrones for their buck, either.
The final Twilight saga chapter, Breaking Dawn – Part 2, was always expected to face an uphill battle with anyone but diehard fans of Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural romance series. Despite blockbuster box office returns, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was met with largely negative reviews and the sense that splitting the final Twilight book into two parts arguably proved to be a disservice to the quality of the film adaptation – even if it doubled-up profits for Summit Entertainment.
It goes without saying that moviegoers who are simply uninterested or cynical about the Twilight franchise will not enjoy Breaking Dawn – Part 2 – as the film still contains the usual series staples (shirtless Taylor Lautner, glittering vampires, melodramatic romance, etc). However, does the final entry, once again directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls), ultimately deliver a filmgoing experience worthy of recommendation to cautiously curious fans of entertaining cinema – in addition to the already strong Twilight series faithful?
Surprisingly, yes. As mentioned, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 isn’t going to win-over the franchise’s longtime critics and, given the amount of ties to past events and characters that dominate the proceedings, it’s still hard to recommend as a standalone experience for the uninitiated. That said, out of the (now) five film series, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 easily includes the most straightforward plot and, instead of dwelling on the core Bella, Edward, Jacob love triangle, manages to deliver a competent (albeit still campy) “war” story – complete with a fun cast of supporting heroes/villains and a finale that ends the current saga with a fiery bang. Condon shot Part 1 and Part 2 at the same time but the difference is staggering, as the latter installment is stronger in nearly every single way imaginable, with a focused story, higher production values, and a number of appealing setups. It’s still an overly-dramatic and downright cheesy escapade but, unlike most of the prior entries, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 offers enough fun for appeal to a slightly broader audience.
The Breaking Dawn – Part 2 story picks up directly after the events of Part 1: wherein Bella (Kristen Stewart) nearly lost her life during the birthing of her half-human, half-vampire daughter, Renesmee - only to be turned into a vampire at the very last minute by husband, Edward (Robert Pattinson).
In Part 2, newborn vampire Bella awakens from a post-transformation slumber and wastes no time in testing out her new supernatural powers. Unfortunately, after being reunited with Renesmee (now played by Mackenzie Foy), Bella and her daughter – along with werewolf/one-time love interest Jacob (Taylor Lautner) – are spotted by Cullen family “cousin” Irina (Maggie Grace) who mistakes Renesmee for an “immortal child” (read: a child who has been turned into a vampire and, as a result of their juvenile lack of self-control, risk exposing the existence of vampires to humans). Irina reports the Cullens to the Volturi, the vampire ruling class and police force, known for their ruthless handling of similar situations. In an effort to clear their names, and reveal the truth of Renesmee’s parentage, the Cullens recruit a roster of international vampire “witnesses” to help set the record straight or, should the Volturi choose to be unreasonable, fight to the death.
While Breaking Dawn – Part 2 still relishes in sappy cliches about “true love” and hyper-romanticized encounters between Bella and Edward, the larger plot is actually very straightforward and finds a successful balance between the sentimental franchise camp and some genuinely entertaining changes to the established format. The majority of scenes still present eye-rolling moments but, freed from all the overly-complicated teen romance, Part 2 allows a number of characters to step outside of the drama for unique moments to shine – revealing that the core Twlight universe has more going for it than the love triangle focus of earlier movies. Abstract core elements (such as the Volturi, “imprinting,” and the dangers of “immortal children”) are all explained with mostly natural exposition or engaging flashbacks – educating uninitiated audience members on the primary character beats in play.
Watching Bella experiment with her newfound powers is amusing to watch, and a welcome change of pace from her cringe-worthy descent into sickness and death in Part 1, but the real stars this round (for anyone who isn’t already grounded in Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team Bella) is the international cast of vampires who come to aid (or in some cases mock) the Cullens for their plan to face the Volturi. Not only do some of the characters offer enjoyable riffs on traditional vampires, the film focuses heavily on each Twilight vampire’s “gift” (aka: super powers) – leading to a number of slick comic book-like “heroes” such as Benjamin (Rami Malek) with Airbender-ish control of elements in nature and chilling “villains” such as Alec (Cameron Bright) who can rob opponents of their physical senses.
On the battlefield, the combination of super-powered hero vampires, rough and tumble shape-shifting wolves, as well as blood-thirsty Volturi combatants, makes for a rousing last confrontation that is as outrageous as it is amusing (it would also make for a crazy drinking game: one drink for every decapitation). The final Twilight set-piece doesn’t come close to matching the scale of the assault on Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 but, compared to the flat visuals and underwhelming action beats in prior Twilight entries, the closing moments of the film definitely raise the series bar and should provide a satisfying conclusion for Twihards – along with fun surprises for less-knowledgeable viewers.
Still there’s no doubt that the film is held-back by mushy character moments and a “budget” look (despite the franchise raking in over $2.5 billion at the global box office) – both holdovers issues from earlier franchise entries. Even though there is no “talking wolves” colloquium this round, there are still a number of unintentionally humorous exchanges and awkward visuals (especially CGI baby Renesmee) that undercut the quality of the filmmaking – even if the final film itself delivers a worthwhile experience for its intended audience.
It’s unlikely that Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is the end of the Twilight movie franchise (given all the talk of spin-offs or further sequels) but Stephenie Meyer remains clear that it is the end of Bella and Edward’s tale. As a result, it’s fitting that the final chapter in their storyline also offers the most fun and excitement thus far – not to mention serves as the entry that could change a few minds about the available potential in the larger series. Naysayers aren’t going to be won-over (and have plenty of fair criticisms) but it’s easy to imagine that some initially reluctant viewers might be less adverse to further Twilight installments after their time with Breaking Dawn – Part 2. In our review of Part 1 I contended that, considering the passion and support of the Twihard community (not to mention resulting blockbuster profits), Summit Entertainment owed faithful fans better quality Twilight films – and Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is definitely a step in the right direction.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
Sci-fi fans are still eager to discover what J.J. Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof have done with the sequel to 2009 Star Trek reboot, which we now know will be titled Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams jokingly premiered a single frame of footage from the film during a recent talk-show segment – but we’re pretty sure that annoyed more people than it amused. After several delays and a thick fog of mystery clouding things, suffice to say that Trekkies the world over are starving for some substantial reveals.
Well, that hunger will soon be sated, as we now learn that an extended preview of Star Trek 2 will be shown to moviegoers in December 2012 – and it will showcase the film’s new digital IMAX 3D format.
Check out the official press release from Paramount:
WORLD PREMIERE EXTENDED PREVIEW OF J. J. ABRAMS’ “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” TO DEBUT IN IMAX 3D ON DECEMBER 14th
THE FIRST 9-MINUTES FROM THE ANTICIPATED SEQUEL WILL BE RELEASED EXCLUSIVELY IN DIGITAL IMAX 3D THEATRES WORLDWIDE
HOLLYWOOD, CA (November 14, 2012) – Paramount Pictures will release the first 9 minutes from J.J. Abrams’ eagerly-awaited “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” exclusively in IMAX 3D months prior to the film’s official release in May 2013. This first-look at the movie will play in approximately 500 digital IMAX 3D theatres beginning December 14th.
“STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS,” the sequel to Abrams’ 2009 hit film that redefined the Star Trek universe for a new generation, marks the first time exclusive footage has played in IMAX 3D and only the third time a first-look will be released in IMAX.
o further the IMAX experience, “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” used IMAX cameras to capture several sequences. Exclusively in IMAX theaters, sequences filmed with the extremely high-resolution cameras will expand to fill more of the screen with unprecedented crispness and clarity, putting moviegoers right into the explosive action and vast scope of the film.
Aside from kicking the usual hype machine into gear, this preview event also marks an opportunity for Paramount and Abrams to quell doubts that fans have expressed (some more vocally than others) regarding the decision to post-convert the film into 3D. While the use of actual IMAX cameras in filming was seen as a step forward – as opposed to just stretching standard film to IMAX size, compromising shot quality – the decision to convert the movie into 3D – even though it wasn’t filmed in the format – was conversely seen as a step back. There are still plenty of skeptics who need to be won over, and the studio is likely attempting to do just that.
There is still a lot we don’t know about Star Trek Into Darkness: is Benedict Cumberbatch’s (Sherlock) villain role Khan? Gary Mitchell? Or something altogether different? How, exactly, will the sequel be ‘bigger and bolder?’ What kind of threat will test the Enterprise crew and their bond as a team? Will there really be no cameos from original series actors? Etc…
Hopefully this preview gives us enough material to actually discuss, because all the unanswered questions are stacking up higher than a season of Lost. (Hopefully, the forthcoming answers are more satisfying.)
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Studios have been eagerly dipping into the pool of young adult book adaptations, following the runaway success of Harry Potter and Twilight. However, in proportion to every film that hits it big (The Hunger Games), there seem to be a handful that only manage mixed business (Percy Jackson, The Spiderwick Chronicles) or fizzle out immediately on impact (The Seeker: The Dark is Rising).
So that begs the question: what will the turnout be for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (which is based on the first installment in author Cassandra Clare’s best-selling fantasy/adventure series)? Well, the first trailer for the film launches in theaters this Friday with the Twilight Saga finale Breaking Dawn – Part 2, but you can check out the theatrical promo online now (along with the official poster).
Mortal Instruments revolves around Clary Fray (Lily Collins, Mirror Mirror), an ordinary teenager living in modern New York City, who discovers the truth about her lineage after her mother (Lena Headey, Game of Thrones) mysteriously vanishes: namely, that she is a descendant of the Shadowhunters, a legion of half-angel warriors who (in secret) protect humanity from the forces of darkness. Soon thereafter, young Clary begins her training as a demon-destroyer, with assistance from Hodge Starkweather (Jared Harris, Mad Men) – who is the elder caretaker at the Shadowhunter Institute - and the handsome-but-deadly warrior Jace Wayland (Jamie Cambell Bower, Camelot).
As you undoubtedly picked up from the synopsis and trailer, Mortal Instruments (in essence) uses the same fantasy/coming-of-age formula as the Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Dark Is Rising series - but with a female, rather than male, teen protagonist. In terms of visual sophistication, Mortal Instruments does seem to be a slight improvement on the first Percy Jackson and first couple of Harry Potter films – though, it’s far behind latter installments in the Potter series. Bear in mind, it’s impossible to judge fully right now, as production quite literally wrapped up a matter of days ago (hence, there are no CGI shots in the trailer).
Overall, the cast for Mortal Instruments is pretty solid, thanks to the involvement of people such as Headey and Harris; even the youngster Collins and Bower have done decent (if not exactly remarkable) work so far in their careers. Meanwhile, the script was penned by I. Marlene King (Pretty Little Liars) and Jessica Postigo (the upcoming 3D animated Tarzan), with directing duties handled by Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks, The Karate Kid); that’s not the most inspiring resume, for sure, so we’ll have to wait and see how the final film turns out.
If nothing else, Mortal Instruments fans should be pleased that the original version of this project ultimately fell apart – that is, one where the first three installments in Clare’s original series would’ve been compressed into a single film, with the helming duties given to Scott Charles Stewart (Legion, Priest). Zwart’s adaptation, by comparison, stands to be both better and more faithful.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
Lego, at first, sounds like a blatant Hollywood cash-grab aimed at nostalgic adults and a younger generation who may want to purchase said toys after (or even before) seeing the movie. Similar to the developing Stretch Armstrong, the playthings behind Lego lack even the semblance of a narrative, much less a pre-established mythology (unlike Transformers).
So how then did Lego attract the interest of Dan and Kevin Hageman? After all, that pair devised the story for next month’s Hotel Transylvania, a 3D animated project that allowed the writers’ collective imagination to run wild concocting a tale involving iconic monsters. Well, switch out “iconic monsters” for “Lego toys” and the previous description fits the Lego movie equally well, oddly enough.
Warner Bros. is behind Lego and previous reports indicated that studio heads are taking advantage of ties to DC Comics, so as to allow for Lego-ized versions of superheroes in the film. Hence, it’s been confirmed that Arrested Development star Will Arnett is voicing the Batman Lego in said movie, while the search continues for a viable candidate to lend their vocals to a Lego Superman (Channing Tatum is rumored to still be the top choice).
It’s not yet apparent whether or not the project features additional appearances by recognizable characters in Lego form. However, Deadline says the costars of two of this year’s highest-grossing films – Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) and Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight Rises) – have been recruited to bring their vocal talents to Lego, with the latter playing a Lego guy called Vitruvius.
Plot-wise, Lego revolves around the exploits of Emmet (Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt), an ordinary Lego guy who is mistaken for a legendary figure known as the MasterBuilder. He is thereafter forced to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant, who plans to devastate the Lego population by gluing all of Lego-dom together.
Credit for that storyline partially belongs to the primary screenwriters on Lego, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who are also directing). The duo have earned a reputation for turning non-cinematic properties into hip and clever film adaptations that provide solid entertainment value – even while poking fun at their origins as calculating cash-grabs (see: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street).