Michael Bay Projects In Trouble? “Welcome to Yesterday” Delayed An Entire Year; TMNT Delayed Yet Again?

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This is starting to feel like G.I. Joe: Retaliation all over again. We have two new pieces of information on the upcoming Michael Bay-produced projects: Welcome to Yesterday and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. First onto the official news.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the found-footage thriller Welcome to Yesterday has been renamed to Project Almanac and has been moved to January next year, almost a full year after it was supposed to be released this year. Paramount must have a lot of faith in that one (sarcasm alert).

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Now, the more interesting story is the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which just had its trailer debut a few days ago, is being rumored to move back to November/December this year. When the project was first annoucned, it was supposed to be released last Christmas, so technically this one has been delayed for a year as well, if the scoop from Geeks of Doom is anything to go by. I’m not sure how reliable their source is though.

This is somewhat sad news because I’ve always been rooting for TMNT to be good, despite all the negative buzz surrounding the film. The first trailer just released looked pretty good, but if the scoop is true and they are reshooting 1/3 of the film, my expectations might be lowered. It doesn’t help that Michael Bay will extensively be looking over these reshoots instead of spending his entire time working on Transformers: Age of Extinction in post-production. There’s no word if director Jonathan Liebesman will be involved with these reshoots. Hopefully this extra time helps make a better film (see: World War Z).

“Noah” Review

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“I have an army at my back, and you stand alone and defy me?”

In some ways, I feel as this quote relates to not only me and my opinion on this movie, but the critics as well. Many people in my theater quite clearly voiced their dislike towards the film, even after the first thirty minutes. But, I will stand by my opinion no matter what everyone else thinks. Despite a slow first half and some painful clichés here and there, Noah is an ambitious blockbuster that defies all the rules of a big-budget disaster flick in favor of Darren Aronofsky’s trademark visuals and direction.

First off, I’d like to thank Paramount for giving this film great marketing (not sarcasm). Not only do the ads hide a lot of the film, but they only show you the first half of the movie. How many trailers do that today? Not many. So, even though you did this to hide the fact that your biblical film is in fact a fantasy “epic”, thank you Paramount for saving a lot of the footage for the actual movie. Because of this, I didn’t know where the film would end up going, which is a great surprise in this day and age.

Now, what the marketing DID show you was the first half of the film, which is essentially a mixture of elements from Mad Max and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Sadly, that description makes it sound better than it actually is. It moved along very slowly, despite the time in the film moving very fast during this section. But, what makes this first half not a complete hassle to sit through are The Watchers, which are these fallen angels that “The Creator” has damned to live on Earth as rock monsters. The visual effects on them are great, and they kind of gave off a stop-motion vibe whenever they moved which was pretty cool. It helps that they’re pretty badass as well.

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The first half of the film is also the lesser of the two halves because of the character development. To be frank, we don’t know jack-shit about any of these characters in the first half, and we, the audience, have no one to really relate with or latch onto. The only character with any sort of development was Methuselah (played by Anthony Hopkins), but then again, he was on a quest to find berries for most of his screen time, so I guess that’s not saying much.

However, once the flood actually comes, the film picks up speed and becomes a relentless thrill-ride to the end. But, it’s not for the reason you think. The flood, while quite spectacular to see on the screen, isn’t this film’s greatest moment(s), but the scenes to follow. That’s because the film shifts from it’s “epic” feel to a more broken-down, psychological one. The film becomes very dark and brooding and starts to feel much more like a Darren Aronofsky film than it did in the first half. That’s all I’ll say about that.

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Now onto the acting. All the focus seems to be on Russell Crowe, and I can see why. He gives a powerful and demanding performance, and while I’d be hesitant to call it his best work, it’s definitely one of his stronger efforts. However, the standout to me was Logan Lerman as Noah’s son, Ham. If you can ignore the goofy name, Lerman really finds his footing in the second half of the film and should be getting more recognition as an actor. First Perks of Being a Wallflower and now this, he’s shown that he is capable of great things. I hope more producers out in Hollywood see this.

The rest of the cast is serviceable. Jennifer Connelly is perfectly fine as Noah’s wife, but, like most of the cast, isn’t given much to work with until later in the film. Emma Watson has some pretty powerful scenes, but more often than not, she doesn’t make much of an impact. And for most of the time, I didn’t even notice Douglas Booth was there, as his acting was just so bland. But oh well, I guess.

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Despite the fact that it sounds like I’m bashing the film, I actually liked it. It’s very ambitious to the point where I was surprised how they got away with what they did. This is easily one of, if not, the darkest PG-13 movies I’ve seen and it also features some of Aronofsky’s trademark visuals, a breath of fresh air in a project as big as this one.

Some will love it, many will hate it. And while I didn’t love it, I appreciate the hell out of it for what it tried to accomplish. It practically throws out all your usual blockbuster conventions out the window (despite some painfully clichéd moments here and there) and has the balls to push situations to the extreme, without going to far in the process. I think after the public announces their distaste for the film (which they will), Darren Aronofsky will never work on a big-budget film again. And even though I liked his attempt here, I think that’s for the best.

“I’m not alone.”

“Bad Words” Review

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“What are you doing, you dumb dick?!”

Man, what killer premise. Just thinking about an adult participating in a spelling is hilarious, but the trailer gave me a lot of hope as well. However, I was expecting, like most comedies, for this to fall apart in the third act and replace the humor for sentimentality. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. It does get a bit mushy at the end, but does so without sacrificing the raunchy humor. That’s what makes Bad Words stand out among other comedies.

I can’t think of a better actor to play the role of Guy than Jason Bateman. This may sound like a negative, but this is a similar Bateman that we saw with The Change-Up a few years back. He’s sick bastard that insults and harasses not only adults, but kids as well. And somehow, we still like the guy. Only Jason Bateman could pull that off and I can see why many actors turned down the role.

Rohan Chand, who plays the 10 year-old spelling bee contestant who befriends Guy, is undeniably adorable here. Not only that, but for as young as he is, Chand has great chemistry with Bateman, leading to a quite impressive leading duo. Later on in the film, the actions the two partake in are just hilarious (and don’t worry, the R-rated trailers don’t give away all of the jokes).

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Now, onto the premise. They could have turned this into a crappy, PG-13 comedy with the broadest appeal possible, but thankfully Bateman and writer Andrew Dodge go all out with very dark jokes involving rape, divorce, and race. If you take offense to jokes involving any of those topics, I suggest you steer FAR away from this one. You’ll despise it. But, as someone who openly embraces films that don’t settle for the PC norm, this was perfect for me.

Granted, the plot progression of the film is pretty predictable, but with a film like this, you already know how it’s going to end. At least with this one, Bateman and his crew try to spice it up with a crazy finale that had many audience members, myself included, laughing uncontrollably. But for the most part, you’ve seen this movie before. But, the energy and one-liners thrown at you are unlike something I’ve seen from a comedy in a long time.

Many will compare this to the Bad Teacher and Bad Santa. However, Bad Words is much better than both of those films (and this is coming from someone who’s a fan of Bad Santa). The reason why I say that is because unlike most comedies that have many off-jokes that are forgiven because of the few that are actually funny, this one hits a home run with almost every single joke that it throws at the audience. That’s almost unheard of for a modern-day comedy.

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So, I guess what I’m trying to say is this: give Jason Bateman more comedies to direct (and star in), give Rohan Chand more roles (because he’s fucking adorable), and give Andrew Dodge more opportunities to write scripts, preferably comedies, because he can sure think of creative premises and hilarious one-liners. This will become a comedy classic someday. Trust me.

“The spelling bee is for kids!”

5 out of 5

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Review

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“Are you Gustave H. of The Grand Budapest Hotel?”

Wow. I don’t even know what to say. This film more than once caused my jaw to hit the floor. Not only because of the visuals, but the actors, the suspense, and the fun on display. Not only is this Wes Anderson’s greatest work to date, but it also proves that he is the master of mise-en-scène and quirk. With all of his familiar actors, themes, and looks, Wes Anderson delivers an undeniably gorgeous and breathtaking piece of filmmaking.

Ralph Fiennes, who plays Gustave H., is outstanding here. He fits perfectly with Anderson’s tone and quirk, giving us quite possibly Wes’ best character to date (in my opinion). Every line of dialogue he delivers works and he is easily the best character in the film. But, that doesn’t mean every else is sub-par. In fact, no one is bad or even mediocre.

Willem Dafoe is terrifying and dangerous as one of Madame D.’s sons. Her other son, played by Adrien Brody, is also menacing, but has a goofy-looking mustache and is VERY over-the-top. Both of these characters are a few of the other major standouts. Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, and Owen Wilson are also great, I just wish they were in the film more.

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Now, onto the film’s look. This is easily Wes’ most visually-pleasing film thus far. Every single set, whether it’s a prison, a snow-covered mountain, or The Grand Budapest Hotel itself, all of them have a distinct, colorful look to them, leaving the audience in awe at it’s gorgeous visuals. Oh, and I absolutely loved the changing aspect ratios for each different time period. That was a wonderful addition.

Now, what sets this film higher up than the rest of Wes’ filmography is the story. Wes’ films have never really been driven by their plots, but usually their characters. This film actually has a compelling story and I love a suspenseful mystery, which this film has. It’s safe to say this is his darkest film to date as well. Yeah, Royal Tenenbaums had a very dark scene, but this film has a more consistent dread looming over it. And it thankfully doesn’t try to be too “cute” like some of Wes’ other films (cough Moonrise Kingdom cough).

This is why I love going to the movies. With a full house of Wes Anderson fans, a compelling story, a powerhouse cast, unbelievably sharp dialogue, and beautiful visuals, I don’t think I could have asked for a better film. Even though I really liked most of his films, I never really considered myself a Wes Anderson fan. After The Grand Budapest Hotel, I think it’s safe to say that I’m now a fan and can’t wait to see what he decides to do next.

“I go to bed with all of my friends.”

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5 out of 5

Box Office: “Mr. Peabody” Wins The Weekend, “Need for Speed” Skids Into 3rd Place

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After a pretty impressive Thursday night, Need for Speed crashed and burned with $17.8 million. That’s far off from the recent Fast and Furious movies and is much more similar to other underwhelming video games adaptations such as Resident Evil (17.7 million) and Max Payne ($17.6 million). That’s definitely not what Dreakworks wanted with that $66 million budget, but it’s not all bad new for Dreamworks.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman only dropped 34% from last weekend, bringing in $21.2 million. That’s a great drop, but it probably won’t end up grossing as much as last year’s The Croods ($187.1 million). But, after the recent strings of disappointments that Dreamworks has witnessed, this comes as sort of a relief that the film is holding pretty well. Granted, Muppets 2 opens up next week, but there’s absolutely no buzz for it whatsoever, so I don’t think Peabody will have that much of a problem.

300: Rise of an Empire dropped as expected, Tyler Perry‘s new film bombed, Veronica Mars did well in it’s opening in select theaters and VOD, and Grand Budapest is still lighting the box office on fire in only 66 theaters. Now, because I’m feeling pretty lazy, that’s all I’m gonna write right now. Here’s the rest of the top ten below:

1. Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Dreamworks) – $21.2 million ($63.1m cume)
From 3,951 THEATERS (5,366 AVG.) / $145 MILLION BUDGET / 77% RT

2. 300: Rise of an Empire (Warner Bros.) – $19.1 million ($78.3m cume)
FROM 3,490 THEATERS ($5,473 AVG.) / $110 MILLION BUDGET / 42% RT

3. Need for Speed (DreamWorks Pictures) – $17.8 million
FROM 3,115 THEATERS ($5,714 AVG.) / $66 MILLION BUDGET / 23% RT

4. Non-Stop (Universal Pictures) – $10.6 million ($68.8m cume)
FROM 3,183 THEATERS ($3,330 AVG.) / $50 MILLION BUDGET / 60% RT

5. The Single Moms Club (Lionsgate) – $8.3 million
FROM 1,896 THEATERS ($4,378 AVG.) / BUDGET N/A / 22% RT

6. The Lego Movie (Warner Bros.) – $7.7 million ($236.9m cume)
FROM 3,040 THEATERS ($2,533 AVG.) / $60 MILLION BUDGET / 96% RT

7. Son of God (20th Century Fox) – $5.4 million ($50.8m cume)
FROM 2,990 THEATERS ($1,806 AVG.) / BUDGET N/A / 23% RT

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight Pictures) – $3.6 million ($4.7m cume)
FROM 66 THEATERS ($54,545 AVG.) / $16 MILLION BUDGET / 89% RT

9. Frozen (Walt Disney Pictures) – $2.1 million ($396.3m cume)
FROM 1,466 THEATERS ($1,432 AVG.) / $150 MILLION BUDGET / 89% RT

10. Veronica Mars (Warner Bros.) – $2.02 million
FROM 291 THEATERS ($6,942 AVG.) / $6 MILLION BUDGET / 76% RT

“Veronica Mars” Review

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I don’t do that anymore.”

Something about this movie caught my eye before I even saw it. I’m not really sure what. It might have been that this was the first feature-length film to be released by a major studio that was funded entirely by fans via Kickstarter. Or it might have been the fact that I like a good mystery, which is what the trailers hinted at. Or it might have been because of Kristen Bell.

Despite all those factors, I was hesitant to see this because of the fact that I hadn’t watch the television series in which this follows. Thankfully, this is similar to another film that follows its television show, Serenity. I had never watched an episode of Firefly in my life, and I really enjoyed the movie. Same goes for this film. Veronica Mars is a slick and witty mystery thriller that can be funny and quite intense at times.

Kristen Bell, who plays the titular character, Veronica Mars, is pretty funny here. She has a lot of smart one-liners, most of which were geared to the fans of the show, but still a handful that are just flat-out funny that anyone could laugh at. She was also pretty badass at times, which is something that most films tend to mishandle. Either they are badass or fun; neither both.

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Sadly, the rest of the acting isn’t as impressive. Jason Dohring, who plays a man convicted of murder (and also happens to be Veronica’s past lover), is quite stale in his role. At times he seems to be in control, but other times I really wished that he wasn’t the focus of the movie. Apparently, he was a big part of the show, but his wooden acting didn’t do much for me.

Some of the other supporting characters, ranging from Veronica’s dad, her friends, and her high-school enemies, are fun to watch, but the film tries to show far too many characters, obviously for the fans. This leads to many characters being under-developed, even some of the more prominent characters. The fans in my theater were getting a kick out of all the cameos, but it felt like a lot for a film barley over an hour and a half long. I did, however, find James Franco’s cameo to be humorous, even if his role is ultimately pointless.

Okay, now I’m done trashing this film. I actually liked it a lot. The mystery was pretty intriguing and keep me interested for the whole runtime. Also, despite the fact that I haven’t seen the show, I really wish that I had before watching this because I liked a lot of the characters in this, and I wish I got to see more of them. Dick, in particular, got the most laughter out of me, despite his limited screentime.

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Not only that, but the film is a lot more serious than I had expected. The previews painted this as a light-hearted mystery, but it gets pretty dark at times. Again, if I’d seen the television series beforehand, I probably would have known what to expect. But, for those of you Veronica Mars fans out there, no one is safe. There a handful of deaths here that were unexpected (some, however, I did see coming). But overall, the tone of the film was something I really liked.

Overall, Veronica Mars might be more for the fans of the television show, but it’s still a solid thriller. It’s witty, it’s smart, and it features a badass and extremely likable lead. It might be a little crowded and the acting was dull from a few key characters, but I’d highly recommend checking this one out. It might surprise you.

“Way to keep it PG-13.”

4 out of 5

“Need For Speed” Review

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“We’ll settle this behind the wheel.”

Aaron Paul is finally getting his big break after Breaking Bad. I think he’s a great young actor and I think he’s deserved a leading role in a movie. I just wish Need For Speed wasn’t his first. He deserves better than this.

One thing that I can say about this movie is that everyone at least seems like they’re having fun working on this, even if most of the acting is bland. The only people who go above and beyond what the dreadful script provided are Aaron Paul and Michael Keaton. Like I said earlier, Paul deserves better than this and you can tell he gives it his all, and Michael Keaton is campy and a lot of fun in his role. Sadly, he’s not in the film very often, so it’s pretty much just Aaron Paul all by himself here.

Imogen Poots, the love interest of the film, just isn’t leading actress material. Simple as that. Dominic Cooper is a very boring and one-dimensional villain and Kid Cudi is absolutely dreadful as Aaron Paul’s best friend. I like Kid Cudi’s music, but my god, his acting is abysmal. I wouldn’t be stressing this as much, but someone from my film analysis class argued that he was a good actor. He most certainly is not.

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I guess I can’t blame the actors alone for the mediocre to awful performances, but also because of the script. I’m not even joking when I say that this has to be one of the most uninspired, clichéd scripts in a long time. You’ve seen this story in practically every other revenge film. The only difference is that this film has dialogue that you’d see in a typical B-movie. Some of the lines spoken in this film actually hurt me inside. Oh, and the plot makes absolutely no sense in the long run.

However, it’s not all a failure. The action, the films selling point, is pretty damn impressive, especially when you consider all the chases were actually real and not CGI. The races are tense, the cars are cool, and the crashes are explosive. The last racing sequence in particular was fun to watch, until you realize how dumb and illogical the whole situation is.

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I guess if you go in with your brain turned off, you could enjoy this wannabe franchise starter, but this film is soo dumb at times that even if you go in expecting a dumb action movie (like I did), you might be disappointed by it. The film is pretty much a greatest hits video for the Fast and Furious franchise. It wants to be a serious street movie (like the earlier films in the Fast and Furious franchise), but also fun and over the top with some of its stunts (like Fast 5 or F&F 6).It has a hard time distinguishing itself from that franchise, which is what I wasn’t hoping for.

Overall, Need for Speed is a mindless and overly-long misfire that is yet another video-game adaptation that is less than satisfying. If Aaron Paul continues working in projects similar to this one, it might be hard to distinguish him from all the other young actors out there working today. And I really don’t want that to happen.

“I believe that’s Tobey Marshall, driving the chariot of the Gods.”

2 out of 5

Is “Captain America 3” Really Going Up Against “Batman Vs. Superman”?

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This is just a mess. Apparently rumor has it that the untitled Marvel film slotted for May 6, 2016 is Captain America 3, and Marvel has no plans whatsoever to move it. Obviously one will move, but who, and how far away?

Personally, I think it’s idiotic that Marvel (mainly Kevin Feige) thinks his sequel to a modestly popular hero can match up against Batman and Superman. Yeah, Captain America is a lot more popular now than he was a few years ago, and he’ll be even more popular after The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but seriously? Batman Vs. Superman will be an event, similar to what The Avengers was.

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Granted, Man of Steel did have it’s share of haters, but at this point, you know BvS will deliever with it’s action and special effects. Oh, and the team-up of two of the biggest superhero characters ever. Just saying. Sadly, there are already rumors that BvS might move back a week to April 29, to avoid competition. But, if you live outside the U.S., you would know that Marvel usually releases their films a week ahead the U.S. release date. So, internationally, it’d still be facing Captain America 3 head-on.

If Captain America: The Winter Solider does well in it’s April slot this year, I don’t know why I’d be bad to move Cap 3 to the same date in 2016. That way, I’d be out of BvS’ way, and they’ll have a head start on them as well. However, not only is Marvel is being cocky, but they as a combined company (wether it’s Sony, Fox, or Disney) have released one of their movies on the first week of May every year since Spider-Man back in 2002. That might be one of the reasons why Feige and Marvel aren’t budging.

If Batman Vs. Superman does flinch and move to April, it’d only hurt it’s prospects. April is not usually a blockbuster month, at least not for the numbers BvS aim to hit. If they really want to move it (which would be embarrassing for a movie of this scale), they should move it somewhere in June or July. Your move, Warner Bros.

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As of right now, both Captain America 3 and Batman Vs. Superman will open May 6th, 2016.

Paramount Is Lost When It Comes To Marketing “Noah”; Early Reviews Are Solid

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Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic Noah is one that I should be borderline-ecstatic for. But alas, Paramount has done a terrible job marketing the film to look interesting. It’s trying to sell itself as an action movie, when it isn’t. Not only that, but the ads keep showing the same footage over and over again, as if they’re afraid that they have a dud on their hands.

Well, there was some arguments between Paramount and Aronofsky, due to the fact that Paramount held early test screenings for the film. But, that wasn’t all. Paramount was also trying to make different cuts of Noah to see which ones worked the best. This resulted in a furious director and bad publicity, many from Cristian groups. The bad buzz has become so overbearing for Paramount that they’ve had to add in a disclaimer to let audiences know that this isn’t an exact retelling of Noah. You don’t say?

Here’s the disclaimer:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”

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The problem is that Paramount is hiding a portion of the film that they know will polarize audiences. Aronofsky’s version is said to be more fantastical than the ads would lead you to believe. Not only that, but Noah is supposedly a much darker character here than many would expect him to be. This was always going to be a controversial film, but Paramount didn’t help the process whatsoever by publicly butting heads with Aronofsky.

However, there is some hope. The world premiere last night in Mexico led to some tweeting about it on Twitter. Here are some tweets about the movie:

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Noah will open on March 28th.