REVIEW: Salt

Salt
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofer, and Daniel Olbrychski

In the age of the 3D cash-in, Hollywood has been lax on its movie stars.  Unless you call Sam Worthington, “star” of Avatar and Clash of the Titans, one, you don’t actually find many legitimate celebrities inhabiting these movies for more than a cameo.  You can say what you want about explosions and gun shots flying at you in 3D, but if you don’t have star power behind it, your movie will just be replaced by the next quick sell.

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REVIEW: Inception

Inception
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Cotillard

Waves crashing to shore, then a body; these are both one of the first things we see in Inception, and one of the last.  Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated dream-thriller may wow you with its visual prowess, dazzle you with its high-ended concepts, and intrigue you with its heist-style head invading, but it has a typical Hollywood-style circular structure.

If it sounds like I’m already being hard on Nolan and his predetermined masterpiece, it’s only because you need to know right off the bat that it does not reinvent cinema the way it’s publicity campaign suggested.

Many reviews have pointed out all of Nolan’s influences (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix) and for good reason: Inception is chock full of moments where anyone who’s seen a sci-fi movie will chuckle to themselves.

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REVIEW: Splice

Splice
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Written by: Vincenzo Natali & Antoinette Terry Bryant
Starring: Adrian Brody, Sarah Poley, Delphine Chanéac, and Brandon McGibbon

In Splice, we begin our descent into the murky waters of the cloning issue by rising up, in first-mutant perspective, to see our creators.  Through the murky blue-tint of the screen, we see doctors interacting much like they would on any of the countless hospital TV shows on air.  It feels natural, and commonplace.

This is one of the important strengths of Vincenzo Natali’s unique film.  It shows us the everyday lives of two doctors, Clive Nicoli (Adrian Brody) and Elsa Kast (Sarah Poley), whose lives are anything but conventional, and then turns their respective worlds upside down.  The camera does not hint at the abnormal life forms as in Alien.  Rather, it blends the clone Dren (Delphine Chanéac) in with her creators.

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TRAILER: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Directed by: David Slade
Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay) Stephen Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

The third installment is finally here. Not like the wait was long from lasts November’s New Moon, but non-Twihards are anxious for this franchise to get wrapped up so we don’t have to hear about it from the news, tabloids, and endless marketing campaigns by the studios who are doing a great job on cranking out these half rate movies while the blood is fresh in the franchise. A summer release will be interesting for Summit, to see whether it can pick up movie goers, or if fans will abandon it with so many other better options out there.

Despite the eager fans the franchise has, the franchise shows up with a little less enthusiasm. The trailer looks much of the same old Twilight we’ve already seen in the first two films. People fight over Bella. Bella has to pick a man. Men go around tearing each other up over a bony pale virgin Arizona. Not much else happens. Ever. Continue reading

Summer Box Office Predictions

1. Inception

Release date: July 16th

Plot summary: Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is an agent who has the technology to enter the minds of business tycoons to retrieve their strategies and sell them to the highest bidder. But the mind is no safe place for Dom and his team who find themselves in a place where things can rearrange and people can have powers outside of reality. When a heist goes wrong, one CEO seeks to steal the technology from the thieves attacking him.

Why it will rule: Just a few short summers ago, Christopher Nolan delivered audiences The Dark Knight, a domestic and overseas smash that made $1 billion worldwide and nabbed the attention of critics and mainstream audiences alike. Nolan’s talent lies in making brilliant narratives into dark, compelling films that are popularized by their own quality. Add in Leonardo DiCaprio and his latest success with Scorsese’s Shutter Island and Warner Bros. incredible marketing team for dark blockbusters, it looks to be a hit. All that and the trailer proves that this is going to be Memento mind-bending with The Dark Knight effects squad and July release.

Why it will fail: With the exception of the Batman franchise, Nolan has yet to have a real big blockbuster. Without the branding, and without knowing what it is really about, audiences might turn down this smarter box office fair for more Transformers style blow em’ up blockbusters as entertainment. Also, this movie is missing the Heath Ledger effect.

Estimated box office: $100 million OW / $410 million Domestic

2. Toy Story 3

Release date: June 18th Continue reading

TRAILER: Salt

Salt
Directed by: Phillip Noice
Written by: Kurt Wimmer & Brian Helgeland (screenplay)
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Zoe Lister Jones

Angelina Jolie typically has two types of roles.  The bad-ass action chick, a la Wanted, or the heavy dramatic roles, a la Changeling.  This summer, she will be playing more of the former, with a little of the heavy stuff mixed in.

Salt, from director Phillip Noice, seems from the trailer to be a summer action flick filled with acting talent and perhaps a plot that doesn’t suck.  The thrills in the trailer seem to be grounded in some kind of distorted realism.  Jolie appears to be playing kind of a girl Superman, hiding in broad daylight and not wearing a mask when she becomes the ass-kicker.

Liev Schreiber also stars in the movie, so it’s nice to see that Mr. Noice appears to be favoring talent over names that will just sell, though Jolie will do just that.  The trailer hits all of the normal bells and whistles when it comes to this kind of intrigue-based action/thriller.

It sets up the kidnapped boyfriend premise while interspersing some well choreographed action sequences featuring Angelina tasing some meddling policemen.  In all, it appears to be a typical summer flick, though it may end up being more or less than either of those by its July 23rd release date.

Highs: The casting, especially that of Angelina Jolie.  It’s always nice to see her throttling cronies.

Lows: No real complaints with the trailer other than it’s mundane, over-used structure.  Would it kill people to have a trailer like the one for A Serious Man?

Trailer Grade: B+