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Monday, July 18, 2011

James Cameron's Aliens was released 25 years ago today

When the original Alien came out in 1979 its tagline was the effective and instantly memorable "In Space No One Can Hear Your Scream". When Aliens was released on July 18, 1986, its tagline was "This Time It's War".

But as far apart in evoking a feeling as each film's tagline was, James Cameron cemented his weight as a visual storyteller by creating the world's best action sequel.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

4 ways that the Harry Potter movies may have changed Hollywood forever

It may seem obvious in light of the colossal opening weekend box office the final Harry Potter movie just earned, but ten years ago there were many uncertainties as to whether J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard would appeal to a wider movie-going audience.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

What's a Game of Thrones without the Tower of the Hand?

The Game of Thrones might have just ended a few weeks ago, but the Dance with Dragons will be starting a few weeks hence.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Where should Transformers 4: The Movie go?

It’s the opening weekend of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and we know that the second sequel is going to make a pile of money for its owners. Michael Bay may have said that he won’t be coming back to direct Transformers 4 but that won’t stop Paramount and DreamWorks from having development meetings this summer about making the next one.

Let’s put aside the questions about who should replace Michael Bay and who should be writing the screenplay for Transformers 4. The only real question that matters right now is this: where do they take the franchise?

Fair warning: spoilers for Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be dropped from here on out. You’ve been warned.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Director's Cut: What's Wrong With the Superhero Movie Genre

When a movie that costs $200 million dollars to make -- and that's before marketing and publicity costs -- can't crack $100 million domestic box office in its first two weeks, that's not a good sign a sequel is on the way. Yet that's exactly what Warner Bros. wants the world to believe: Green Lantern 2 will happen. And I say, of course it will. There's too much riding on the backs of the studio's board of directors to toss in the towel for Hal Jordan and his CG'ed skin-suit.

But then why are there storm clouds on the horizon for the superhero movie genre?

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans (Original Release Date: 12 June 1981)

The original Clash of the Titans has gotten some attention thanks to last year's remake.  I guess that's cool, but I don't know how capable it is of making new fans.  I can see people new to it liking it for what they feel to be kitsch.  Looking at it as an adult, I can also imagine its original audience seeing it as kitsch.  Harryhausen's old-school approach to stop-motion looks creaky in comparison to the "go motion" developed by Phil Tippett for Empire Strikes Back, so it might have been a tough sell even then. 

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Dead and Buried

Dead and Buried (Original Release Date: 29 May 1981) 

Either I've seen all of Dead and Buried and only remembered the ending, or I somehow only caught the ending and never saw the rest of the movie. I think it's the former. It felt familiar to me from the beginning, but I told myself as it went along that it must have borrowed this or that element from another movie. By the time I got to the end, I knew I had seen it. It's a doozy of an ending, with a last shot right out of the Twilight Zone playbook.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Exclusive: Voltron Force update

A little over a year ago, atrejub and I took a trip to WEP's main headquarters in St. Louis to get the lowdown on the latest Voltron developments. We got a few cool exclusives on the upcoming movie and Voltron Force, and were invited to come back some time for an update. Since Voltron Force will be debuting in under a month, we figured it would be a great time to drop in and get another advance look for Corona readers.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Outland

Outland (Original Release Date: 22 May 1981)

I'm going to do something I haven't done yet and recommend that you not watch Outland at its original speed. Sometimes life gets in the way of these Retro Reviews and I end up having to make compromises. I was dealing with a time crunch this week. I've seen Outland before, so I decided to watch it at 1.5 times its original speed using the VLC media player. (It's free, it's open source, and it can be yours by clicking here.) It turned a 104 minute movie into a seventy-minute movie. What follows is a review of the seventy minute version.
 

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Retro Review 1981: The Legend of the Lone Ranger

The Legend of the Lone Ranger (Original Release Date: 22 May 1981)

The Legend of the Lone Ranger is one of my favorite movies, and much of this review will be a love letter to it. I re-watched it for the review, but I didn't need to. If I were stranded on an island and had to reconstruct movie narratives to keep my sanity, I'd manage with The Legend of the Lone Ranger as well as I'd manage with The Empire Strikes Back or E.T. 

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Pixote

Pixote: a Lei do Mais Fraco (Original Release Date: 5 May 1981)

Hector Babenco's Pixote is a movie about kids trying to survive in a world that doesn't seem to want to let them.  Outside of a documentary short like Ciro Durán's Gamín, my guess is that era reviews didn't have much to compare Pixote to beyond Luis Buñuel's Los Olvidados or Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. I'd also guess that not all of these comparisons were flattering. Babenco's direction here lacks the visual punch of Buñuel's, and his characters are nowhere near as well-formed as Dickens's. With any Buñuel comparison, one must contend a sophistication that, to this day, leads people to argue over how much of the work is earnest, and how much of it is ironic or parodic. (This excludes film students.  I'd say film students still love to debate whether Las Hurdes is a documentary or a parody of a documentary, but the truth is that the debate is no more. Film students--those eager little embryo ironists--champion any hint of potential wink-wink-nod-nod as the fiercest gospel truth.)  Pixote lacks any discernible irony, and the kids, minus an exception or two, aren't developed well enough for the viewer to be able to tell them apart.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Retro Review 1981: The Hand

The Hand (Original Release Date: 24 April 1981)

The Hand
is the answer to the question "What else did that kid who played Christina Crawford in Mommie Dearest do?"  That's the kind of movie The Hand is: one you're liable to know about because of its relationship to another movie, director, or star, and not one you're liable to have seen.  (Another answer to this question, it turns out, is The Happening, where she plays "Woman with Hands Over Ears."  I consider this neither a step up nor down, and, without bothering to look at the three decades' worth of [likely] bit parts in between, declare her career to be remarkably consistent.)

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Retro Review 1981: The Howling

The Howling (Original Release Date: 10 April 1981)

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Hardly Working

Hardly Working (Original Release Date: 3 April 1981)

I’ve been trying to think of some way to review this movie that doesn’t just involve me nitpicking through it scene by terrible scene. I’ll do my best.

Hardly Working works hard to convince you Jerry Lewis is funny.  The movie opens with a montage of slapstick highlights from older Jerry Lewis comedies.  I’m sure reviewers at the time made a point about how they were funnier than anything in the movie to follow.  The more cynical of the reviewers might have pointed out that many of these clips are unfunny, and set a precedent for the rest of the movie.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Cutter's Way

Cutter's Way (Original Release Date: 24 March 1981)

Having mostly nice things to say about a movie puts me at a disadvantage.  I don't think this is all my fault.  Higher education (especially in the arts) fosters a feeling of superiority, and I've spent nearly half my life bogged in that mire.  The reviewer comes to think his voice lacks authority unless he uses it to suggest he is smarter and more cultured than what he's reviewing,and he is encouraged to continue looking down on as many things as possible by positive responses to his negativity.  Anton Ego discusses this in what may be my favorite scene in Ratatouille

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