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Posts Tagged ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’

If you take a look at the top ten grossing movies of the year so far there are seven sequels (Iron Man 3, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Monsters University, Fast & Furious 6, Oz The Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness) and a reboot (Man of Steel). World War Z (based on a book) will probably be knocked out of the top ten by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smug leaving Gravity as the only original property to bother the top ten. Do audiences only go in large numbers to see sequels of franchise movies or do studios only commit large amounts of money to existing properties that a ready made audience? The $825million taken by Christopher Nolan’s Inception proved that a totally original movie could make money, however it would probably never been given the green light if not for the $1billion The Dark Knight took. As cinema prices creep up and audiences become ever more selective, studios become more cautious making it a self fulfilling prophesy relegating most original ideas to smaller films. With this in mind, here are my top five original movies of the year. Original movies, not a sequel, prequel, remake, re-imagining or reboot. Also, not based on a book, comic book or true story.

Stoker: In the year that the remake of Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece Oldboy limped onto cinema screens Stoker proved to be Park’s best film since Oldboy. The original screenplay was written by actor Wentworth Miller. A weird, beautiful and sublime blend of melodrama, psychological thriller and coming of age drama. Budget: $12,000,000 (estimated)stoker

Gravity: Alfonso Cuarón’s space adventure about a pair of astronauts trying to find a way home after a collision in space is a truly stunning film and the first film that should be seen in 3D preferably IMAX 3D. Budget: $100,000,000 (estimated)GRAVITY

Prisoners: Great acting from ensemble cast and stunning photography from Roger Deakins combine with taught direction French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve making his English-language debut elevate this from a genre movie with an overt subtext to a really good film. Budget: $46,000,000 (estimated)Prisoners

The East: An original story of the murky world of private intelligence firms and an environmental anarchist collective. Written by director Zal Batmanglij and star Brit Marling. It is notable for great acting and its dark melancholic tone. Budget: $6,500,000 (estimated)The East

Pacific Rim: To call Guillermo del Toro’s monsters vs. robot movie original would be a stretch as it appears to be based on every other monster movie/comic book to have gone before it, however it isn’t directly based on any other previously produced work. It makes the list ads it is just great fun, pure and simple. Budget: $190,000,000 (estimated)PACIFIC RIM

Mud – the continuing renascence of Matthew McConaughey.
The Counsellor – Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay is far better than has been reported
About Time – Charming and funny time travel comedy from Richard Curtis.
Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett, deserves an Oscar.
Elysium – Neill Blomkamp’s Sci-Fi action drama lacks subtlety but is still good

Check back at the end of the month to see how many of these movies make my top ten of the year.

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Regular visitors may have noticed a lack of posts this month. The simple reason I have been too busy watching movies to write about them. Sixteen movies at the cinema in twenty-nine days to be precise. Was it worth it? This is what I have seen:

Mama: A simple and generic ghost story horror movie that is creepy atmospheric and with just enough jumps to keep it ticking along. The whole thing is elevated by the presence of the sensational Jessica Chastain who is as great in a genre movie as in more weighty movies.Mama

Cloud Atlas: Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s 2004 novel of the same name. moving between six stories set between 1849 and a time approximately 300 years into the future. Utilising the same actors in the different stories to help ram the metaphor down your throat, but it gets away with it. What it lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in charm and beauty.Cloud Atlas

Stoker: Its no secret that Oldboy is one of my all-time favourite movies, it therefore comes as no surprise that I have been eagerly anticipating the English language debut of its director, Chan-wook Park. It isn’t Oldboy but I was far from disappointed. I won’t dwell on the plot as its best to go in without preconceptions, I would like to say you won’t be disappointed but to say you will love it or hate it is probably more accurate. Matthew Goode continues to impress, Nicole Kidman reminds me of what I used to love about her and Mia Wasikowska finally gets the role her talents deserve.Stoker

Arbitrage: An intriguing drama that blends a topical story of the murky world of hedge fund management with a crime thriller. The cast, particularly Richard Gere is fantastic but the movie as a whole is a little cold and holds its audience at arms length.Arbitrage

Side Effects: The film seems to get lost in the “will it/won’t it” speculation over if it is to be Steven Soderbergh’s last movie as a director. I have heard criticism of the movie for descending from a serious movie with a social realist agenda to a more base genre movie, without going too far into the plot, I found the movie strongest in the latter parts of the movie. Not the directors finest work but a an intriguing and enjoyable movie that tips a knowing hat to directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder.Side Effects

Oz the Great and Powerful: Prequel to The Wizard of Oz that ticks all the boxes you would expect but lacking the magic and spark needed to really make it work. It comes across as another cynical Disney attempt to cash in a successful movie.Oz the Great and Powerful

Parker: Jason Statham is a good fit for the Parker character. The movie starts and ends well but sags in the middle. As predicted it, its biggest fault, its too long. A disappointing movie and a missed opportunity but not a terrible one.Parker

Welcome to the Punch: A British crime thriller that with a distinctly Hollywood feel. The plot isn’t great but the casting is spot on. The “Michael Mann blue wash” makes London look great. Ultimately it is flawed but still enjoyable and serves as a stepping stone for promising director Eran Creevy in just his second feature.Welcome to the Punch

In the House: A teacher becomes obsessed with the stories one of his pupils submits. There us just enough ambiguity to the story to elevate the story beyond the average quirky dark comedy. Great performances from Fabrice Luchini and Ernst Umhauer as teacher and pupil with equally good support from Kristin Scott Thomas(why are her French roles so much better than her English ones?) and Emmanuelle Seigner.In the House

The Paperboy: A dirty and gritty southern yarn that probably has more in common with the genre roots of director Lee Daniels first movie Shadowboxer than his better know (and received) Precious. I don’t get the look warm reception for this movie, a good bedfellow of last years Killer Joe that also revels in its visceral grime. John Cusack revels in the opportunity to play against type, Matthew McConaughey continues his redemption (following a lifetime of crappy rom-coms), Zac Efron reminds us again that he is so much more than the teenage movies he is known for, but this is Nicole Kidman’s movie displaying naivety and vulnerability at the same time as being sensual, sexual and controlling.The Paperboy

Vinyl: A British comedy drama based on the 2004 “rock and roll swindle” where aging welsh punk-rock band, The Alarm released a single fronted by a fake young band. A little lightweight and clearly made on a tiny budget but and enjoyable little movie with a strong cast including stalwarts Keith Allen and Phil Daniels and relative newcomer Jamie Blackley.

Vinyl

Compliance: This demonstration of human stupidity and gullibility is prefaced by claim “based on a true story”. Although the claim is that nothing has been exaggerated I suspect the story is an amalgam of many incidents. The movie is helped by a trim 90 minute running time and a good and largely unknown cast.Compliance

Trance: A British heist movie about the theft of a £25million painting. The less you know about Trance the better, other than to say with Danny Boyle you are in safe hands. The primary cast of James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel are all as fantastic as you would expect but the star is director Danny Boyle who skilfully manipulates the audience and their affections.Trance

Stolen: The first re-teaming of Simon West and Nicolas Cage, the director and star of Con Air (don’t get too excited, a similar re-teaming from Gladiator resulted in A Good Year!). As you would expect from a Nic Cage genre piece, it is no better than your average straight to DVD release but its quite good fun along the way.Stolen

G.I. Joe: Retaliation: I didn’t intend to see the first G.I. movie but good word of mouth convinced me to change my mind. While it wasn’t terrible, it also wasn’t great. This sequel is more of the same. It isn’t terrible but it offers nothing that hasn’t been done better many times before.G I Joe Retaliation

The Host: Imagine Invasion of the Body Snatchers where all despair and desperation is replaced with hope and a love story. Just for good measure you could then take out any subtext and metaphor, and with it any meaning or point. That is the banal and emotionless movie that The Host is. On a positive side William Hurt is good and Diane Kruger looks like she is having fun as the villain.The Host

What’s the movie of the month? As  its the first of April I should say G.I. Joe or The Host but the truth, it’s an easy choice, my favourite movie of both the month and the year to date:Stoker movie poster

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