Monday, April 21, 2008

Asian Epic Forbidden Kingdom tops Blockbuster World Wide in it's first week release

Asian Epic Forbidden Kingdom tops Blockbuster World Wide in it's first week release

Jackie Chan and Jet Li's anticipated joint release beat out ''Forgetting Sarah Marshall'' to finish No. 1 in a hard-fought battle, while ''88 Minutes'' underperformed and ''Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'' was a solid top-10 contender

By Joshua Rich

Jackie Chan and Jet Li may be getting old, but they packed a lot of punch into the box office this weekend. The Forbidden Kingdom, the first movie to pair the martial arts legends, fought its way to a victory, while the R-rated romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall finished a strong second in a hotly contested race that helped boost the cumulative box office to its best result in several weeks.

The Asian action fantasy grossed a better-than-expected $20.9 mil, according to Sunday's estimates. That's Jackie Chan's best debut ever for a non-Rush Hour movie, and it's Jet Li's top premiere after 1998's Lethal Weapon 4, in which he had a supporting role. What's more, it's among the biggest openings ever for any martial-arts flick, and the highest one since Kill Bill Vol. 2 bowed with $25.1 mil in early 2004. With a kid-friendly plot and PG-13 rating (it was directed by Rob Minkoff, who also helmed movies like The Lion King and Stuart Little), The Forbidden Kingdom was able to draw in a young crowd, which accounted for fully half of its business and no doubt boosted box office. That audience gave the movie a strong A- CinemaScore grade, the best among all new releases, which suggests that the film should have more financial kick in the weeks to come.

A 21st Century American teenager takes a spellbinding, dangerous journey into martial arts legend in the new action/adventure epic FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. Shot on location in China, THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM marks the historic first-ever onscreen pairing of martial arts superstars Jackie Chan (RUSH HOUR, DRUNKEN MASTER) and Jet Li (FEARLESS, ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA), and features the awe-inspiring action choreography of Wo Ping (THE MATRIX, CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON). While hunting down bootleg kung-fu DVDs in a Chinatown pawnshop, Jason (played by Michael Angarano - “24”, “Will and Grace,” LORDS OF DOGTOWN, SEABISCUIT) makes an extraordinary discovery that sends him hurtling back in time to ancient China. There, Jason is charged with a monumental task: he must free the fabled warrior the Monkey King, who has been imprisoned by the evil Jade Warlord. Jason is joined in his quest by wise kung fu master Lu Yan (Jackie Chan) and a band of misfit warriors including Silent Monk (Jet Li). But only by learning the true precepts of kung fu can Jason hope to succeed - and find a way to get back home.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Real Review 10,00 BC from viewers

10,000 BC

Not fun, not even in a cheesy sense, 7 March 2008


Some critics have moaned that as film technology grows, the storytelling ability of the movies shrinks. I have never quite agreed with this assessment, as I believe there is a place for spectacle of any variety, even the mindless kind. However, to those who share the view of those critics, 10,000 B.C. will most likely be the most convincing piece of evidence to their argument. Here is a movie that looks like it cost millions to make, but is saddled with a screenplay that looks like it came from the Dollar Store.

Director and co-writer, Roland Emmerich is no stranger to brainless spectacles. This is the guy who brought us Independence Day and 1998's Hollywood take on Godzilla, after all. There's a very fine line between brainless and just plain brain dead, unfortunately. 10,000 B.C. is short on spectacle, short on plot, and short on just about anything that people go to the movies for. There are characters and a love story to drive the bare bones plot, but this seems to be added in as an afterthought. I got the impression that Emmerich and fellow screenwriter, Harald Kloser (a film score composer making his first screenplay credit), had the idea for a couple cool scenes, then tried to add a bunch of filler material between them. They threw in some sketchy characters that hardly reach two dimensions to inhabit this filler, and called it a screenplay. In order for spectacle to work, even the cheese-filled variety such as this, there has to be something for the audience to get excited about. This movie is just one big tease.

The plot, if it can even be called that, is set in the days of early man. The heroes are an unnamed tribal people who speak perfect English, all have the bodies of supermodels, and hunt mammoths for food. The two characters we're supposed to be focused on are a pair of young lovers named D'Leh (Steven Strait) and Evolet (Camilla Belle). Why they are in love, and why we should care about them, the movie never goes out of its way to explain. The rest of the villagers do not really matter. They exist simply to be captured when a group of foreign invaders come riding into their peaceful tribe, and kidnap most of them to work as slaves back in their own home colony. Evolet is one of the captured, so D'Leh and a small handful of others set out to find where they've been taken to, and to seek the aid of other tribes that have also been invaded by this enemy. There's a mammoth herd here, a saber tooth tiger there, but they have nothing to do with anything. They're just computer generated special effects who are there simply because the filmmakers felt the current scene needed a special effect shot. I'd be more impressed if the effects didn't look so out of place with the actors most of the time.

10,000 B.C. probably would have worked better as a silent movie, or a subtitled one, as most of the dialogue that comes out of the mouths of these people are as wooden as the spears they carry. The good tribes are the only people in this movie who have mastered the Queen's English, naturally. The evil invading tribe speak in subtitles, and sometimes have their voices mechanically altered and lowered, so that they sound more threatening and demonic. No one in this movie is allowed to have a personality, or act differently from one another. Everybody in each tribe talks, thinks, and behaves exactly the same, with facial hair and differing body types being the main way to tell them apart. This would make it hard to get involved in the story, but the movie dodges this tricky issue by not even having a story in the first place. Once the film's main tribe is attacked, the movie turns into an endless string of filler material and padding to drag the whole thing out to feature length. Aside from a brief encounter with some bird-like prehistoric creatures, there are no moments of action or danger until D'Leh and his followers reach the land of the invading army. The movie throws a saber tooth tiger encounter to fool us into thinking something's gonna happen, but the tiger winds up being just as boring as the human characters inhabiting the movie, and is just millions in special effects budget wasted on something that didn't need to be there in the first place, other than to move the shaky plot along.

There is a key ingredient missing in 10,000 B.C., and that is fun. This movie is not fun to watch at all. I kept on waiting for something, anything, to happen. When something eventually did happen, it was usually underwhelming. I know of people who are interested in seeing this movie, because of the special effects, or because they think it looks enjoyably cheesy. To those people, I say please do not be drawn in by curiosity. This isn't even enjoyable in a bad sense. Your precious time is worth more than what any theater may be charging to see this movie. For anyone wondering, yes, that includes the budget cinema and the price of a rental.

Mind numbingly stupid, 7 March 2008


I am a huge fan of, but I never bothered posting a review. Too much effort, too much fun reading other people's reviews. But tonight... I had to get out of my system how awful this movie is. Tonight... I feel like I was sent on Earth for a purpose. I feel like I understand my role in the great destiny of mankind: to warm people not to watch this piece of garbage.

It is true that this movie is somewhat the same than Apocalypto. Without a lot: talent, good actors, suspense, drama. Actually I'm not completely honest. There was a part of the movie when the audience got tense. You could feel a sort of tension in the air. People on the edge of their seats. Something was going to happen on the screen... all of a sudden... the end of the movie, yes. The flow of people rushing out, happy to be delivered, happy to go back to their lives.

The highlight of the evening: the previews. It looks like some pretty funny stuff is coming out soon.

Review by author of Prehistoric Humans in Films/TV, 8 March 2008


I am the author of Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television: 581 Dramas, Comedies and Documentaries, 1905-2004, published by McFarland in 2006. Spoilers ahead.

First, 10,000 B.C. is by far the biggest, most expensive and elaborate film about prehistoric people ever made, with the exception of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was very expensive in its day, but of course had only 15 min. (the Dawn of Man segment) about early hominids.

Second, I wanted to like 10,000 B.C., but I have to agree that it was a pretty thin, by-the-numbers epic. The first scenes, which seemed to be trying for some degree of anthropological realism, were undercut by silliness. Later the film got better (for me) because it dropped all attempts at realism and went for all-out fantasy adventure. The whole film was a long plod to the big mammoth stampede, but you really can't go wrong with a mammoth stampede.

Third, there is no basis for the contention that the prehistoric people should have looked unhealthy or should have had bad teeth. Prehistoric humans had to be very healthy and strong during their usually short lives. And they had excellent dental health because they never ate processed food or sugars. The teeth of Otzi the Iceman, the Neolithic ice mummy found in the Alps, were in good shape except that they were worn down. He probably never had a cavity in his life, but by the time he died in his 50s his teeth were worn down by decades of eating rough grains.

Fourth, to those who complain that the heroes and heroine looked too attractive for their setting, this is a normal movie ploy. Heroes and heroines usually look better than the villains and bystanders. If you don't like it, don't go the movies. Anyway, the assumption that prehistoric people were unattractive is probably no more valid than the assumptions that they were stupid and brutish. Many people in modern primitive societies look good.

Fifth, complaints that the prehistoric people's speech is given in English are fatuous. Medieval Danes and Scots didn't speak English either, but Shakespeare wrote Hamlet and Macbeth in English. Quest for Fire had invented prehistoric languages and no subtitles; Clan of the Cave Bear had spoken Neanderthal with subtitles. But those are not the only valid strategies for the problem of how to make comprehensible prehistoric films.

Sixth, films are not necessarily poor just because they are inaccurate. Most historical films and most Westerns are quite inaccurate about real history. Almost all prehistory films have been inaccurate, but they should be judged for their entertainment value. Even the films that tried to be accurate, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Quest for Fire and Clan of the Cave Bear, made serious errors. The only really accurate prehistory film I know of is Ten Canoes (Australia, 2006). The big error in 10,000 B.C. is the existence of the prehistoric civilization. There were no prehistoric civilizations, and there were no snowy mountains near Egypt. But the main problem about 10,000 B.C. was its uninspired story, not its inaccuracies.

Seventh, it is too bad that the villains were made to be proto-Egyptians. They wear cloth head-coverings, one has a hooked nose; they have Egyptian-style sailing boats and they make pyramids. The pyramid building scenes, with whip-happy slave drivers, are borrowed from The Ten Commandments. It comes off as a big-budget remake of a nasty, racist 1964 British B-film, East of Sudan, in which white explorers and black tribes fight Arab slave-takers. As if the public doesn't get enough Arab-baiting entertainment these days.

Finally, I reject the fanboys who assume that movies about prehistoric humans are all stupid and are easy targets for their jeers. In addition to 2001: A Space Odyssey, I will defend the professionalism and entertainment value of One Million B.C. (1940), One Million Years B.C. (1966), Quest for Fire, Ten Canoes, and to a lesser degree, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, as well as the comedies Caveman and The Flintstones (the 1994 film) and the cavemen-in-modern-times films Dinosaurus!, Iceman and The Descent. Clan of the Cave Bear was a more interesting disappointment than 10,000 B.C. The many different strategies used by these very diverse films show that prehistory has been a fertile field for filmmakers. 10,000 B.C. was also laudably different from its predecessors. It just wasn't very good.

Two trivia points. First, Camilla Belle played the little girl in Jurassic Park: The Lost World. This makes her probably the only actor to appear in both a dinosaur movie without cavemen, and in a film about prehistoric humans without dinosaurs (assuming the big, flightless predator birds were not intended to be dinosaurs). Second, the character name Old Mother was used in a previous prehistory TV show, in the Dr. Who story An Unearthly Child (1963).

Real Review of I AM LEGEND

I am Legend


It is the year 2012. In the ruins of New York city. Robert Neville who is a military scientist who is the lone survivor of a biochemical disease which was supposed to cure cancer 3 years previous. With only blood thirsty zombies as his neighbors and his trusty dog, Samantha, Robert is trying to discover a cure for this disease and to find out any other people who might have also survived. Written by John Wiggins

After the outbreak of a lethal virus in 2009, in 2012 U.S. Army virologist Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville is left as the last healthy human along with his trusty dog in New York City and possibly the entire world. For three years, Neville is trying to discover a cure for this disease and to find out if any other people might have also survived. But most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But his blood is also what The Infected hunt, and Neville knows he is outnumbered and quickly running out of time. Written by Anthony Pereyra {}

Robert Neville is a scientist who was unable to stop the spread of the terrible virus that was incurable and man-made. Immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and perhaps the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But he is not alone. Mutant victims of the plague -- The Infected -- lurk in the shadows... watching Neville's every move... waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But he knows he is outnumbered... and quickly running out of time. Written by Warner Bros. Pictures


Really well acted, well done film, 14 December 2007


At first, I thought that this movie would be okay at best, abysmal at worst. But I was pleasantly surprised to see Will Smith, "Robert Neville," give a spectacular performance, full of emotion and anger, and bordering a bit on the insane side. I take off points only because it seems like a film that's been done before (and it has, I know, but I don't mean literally). What sets it apart from the rest of the post-apocalyptic man made human killing virus that zombifies people films is the depth of Will Smith's character. With cross-cuts to dreams and the portrayal of Robert Neville's loneliness, the audience connects with him on both a deep mental level and a more surface level driven by pathos. You both laugh and cry with him, you jump out of your seat when he gets scared, and you cheer for him throughout. I walked in expecting a zombie shoot-em-up and settled into something much more thought provoking and intense. It wasn't perfect, but it certainly deserves a look, even if you're not into the whole undead thing.

"Legend" really separates itself from all other post-apocalyptic films., 14 December 2007


Is it me, or does every movie that portrays the future, it's always some post-apocalyptic setting or the fall of man with man itself to blame? Not a lot to look forward to is it? Anyways, after years of being let down by so called scary zombie/virus movie genres and other blockbuster thriller debacles, "I Am Legend" really separates itself from the group.

Without giving too much way, Will Smith plays a sole survivor of a world dominating virus created by man that was originally created to cure cancer. Three years into the "new" world, Smith (who was a former doctor) dedicates his life to survival, finding a cure....and talking to mannequins. In order to find a cure he seeks out the infected, who only come out at night, and hoping to correct man's mistake.

"Legend" was the first truly scary movie I've seen in some time. Realism is the main factor in scary movies in my opinion. If it can happen, than that's pretty scary. Also, Smith's portrayal of despair and borderline insanity of three years of seclusion added to the effect. With the exception of his dog, Smith had no live contact with constant failure attempts of his cure only leading to his insanity. It had a "Cast Away" feel to it with his dog as to Hank's volleyball and his house reminding you of that stranded island.

The action/suspense scenes coupled with superb sound direction were also heart pounding and unexpected which added to the "scare" factor. Whenever Smith engaged with the zombie-like survivors, there was that claustrophobic feeling that I haven't felt since "Alien." My only real complaint was the overuse of CGI over real actors for these characters, but with their speed and strength that these things showed if may have not been possible.

"Legend" overall is one of the better movies of 2007 and a must see. Not Oscar-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly entertaining, realistically tense and maybe even thought provoking.

Way to COMPLETELY change/ruin the original novel "I Am Legend.", 15 December 2007


Basically this film changes the main character COMPLETELY, deletes EVERY OTHER character from the novel, ends with Neville being a hero rather than an ANTIHERO, contains a dog in a completely changed way from the novel, and ADDS all other characters completely NOT in the book. Also, Neville's family is killed in a helicopter crash in the film. In the book, his wife returns from the dead as a vampire and Neville visits her in the mausoleum nearly every day. He longs to be with her. His daughter too dies from the plague of the disease.

Read the novel. Skip the movie.

If this had been called anything other than "I Am Legend" I would have given it maybe 3 stars to begin with...but since it stole he namesake of a great, great novel only to let me down more than The Lost World did... 1 star. Rent it if you are THAT bored sometime...

What?, 16 December 2007


This was like Spike Lee directing a George Romero movie that could have been an hour shorter. All of the "infected" looked like Gollum from Lord of the Rings mixed with Beowulf. If the flashbacks were framed near the beginning, maybe I would have cared if he was alone. With the lack of soundtrack, it made the movie drag on like it was four hours long and do we need to place the camera on Will Smith for two minutes, watching him stare at nothing? He only has about two expressions in his repertoire anyway. This movie could have been great but it was edited all weird and could have used some music to heighten his alone time to pull us into his miserable world. If you want to see the concept done correctly, in my opinion, check out The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. Same thing done well. Or even Omega Man with Charlton Heston. They were actually more real and scarier, just another example of Hollywood putting style over substance to give The Fresh Prince an Oscar nod.