Red Dawn: Why the Remake is So 2009

by Ethan Alter November 21, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Red Dawn</i>: Why the Remake is <i>So</i> 2009

If there was ever a good reason to remake the '80s chestnut Red Dawn, it would be to bring John Milius's teenage action movie kicking and screaming into the 21st century in a version that didn't resemble such a Cold War relic. And that seems to have been the motivating idea behind this new, updated Dawn that's finally opening in theaters a full three years after it wrapped production in 2009. (The movie fell victim to the bankruptcy of its original studio MGM -- the same plight that delayed the release of Joss Whedon's The Cabin in the Woods, which was made around the same time and received a belated theatrical release last April.) Funnily enough, in the relatively short amount of time, the new Red Dawn already seems as dated as its 1984 predecessor. Her are four ways that this largely pointless remake feels so 2009:

Snow White and the Huntsman: The Fairest of Them All

by Ethan Alter June 1, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Snow White and the Huntsman</i>: The Fairest of Them All

Every summer there's that wild card big-budget studio picture that catches you off guard by being better than you could have predicted. Last year, that film was the Hail Mary franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which made up for the terrible performances of its human cast with a compelling simian hero (Andy Serkis's Caesar) and some entertaining ape-driven action sequences. And while 2012's summer movie season is just getting started, Snow White and the Huntsman is the current favorite to be its most unexpected surprise. That's not to say it's perfect, by the way; first-time director Rupert Sanders and screenwriters Evan Draugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini make a number of major and minor mistakes in the process of bringing the age-old fairy tale back to the big screen. But the movie ultimately gets more right than wrong, finding the proper balance between spectacle and storytelling -- a trick that certain other recent blockbusters (looking at you Men in Black 3 and Battleship) failed to achieve.

Thor: The Dark World: It’s Hammer Time, Again

by Ethan Alter November 8, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Thor: The Dark World</i>: It’s Hammer Time, Again

The original Thor was a timid movie made by a timid studio, still uncertain how fantastical they could make their superhero spectacles lest audiences revolt. That's why the title character -- a godlike being who hails from the otherworldly realm of Asgard -- spent so much time on boring old Earth, where he engaged in lots of lame fish-out-of-water comedy, middling action set-pieces that all seemed to occur in the same three-block radius of a fake, set-bound town and a chemistry-free romance with a visibly bored female lead. So whatever its flaws, Thor: The Dark World leaps and bounds over its predecessor simply due to the fact that it embraces, rather than runs from, its fantasy origins. Much like Thor himself, Marvel has matured since their early days (banking more than $600 million on an unprecedented superhero team-up movie helps with the growing-up process) and is now more willing to take chances, trusting that audiences are with them for the long haul.

Rush: Faster, Thor! Kill! Kill!

by Ethan Alter September 20, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Rush</i>: Faster, Thor! Kill! Kill!

Ron Howard's 22nd feature film, the Formula 1 racing drama Rush, also has the distinction of being his first independently financed vehicle since his days toiling for self-made B-movie king, Roger Corman. But don't get too excited, sports fans -- Opie hasn't gone all Harmony Korine on us. Although produced outside the studio system within which Howard has been ensconced since the early '80s, Rush (which is being distributed in the U.S. by a major) is as mainstream a movie as they come. Still, if it isn't exactly innovative on a formal or narrative level, it does remind you that, when gifted with a particularly strong piece of material, few journeymen directors can craft more skillful commercial crowd-pleasers than the maker of Splash, Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.

The Avengers: The Gang’s All Here

by Ethan Alter May 4, 2012 12:01 am
<i>The Avengers</i>: The Gang’s All Here

It's not hard to understand why people are so excited for The Avengers. For starters, its release signals the start of the annual summer blockbuster season, when audiences can look forward to four solid months of effects-heavy escapist entertainment. Secondly, for the millions of moviegoers who have followed the individual Marvel heroes through their own big-screen adventures (not to mention their own comic-book titles), the thought of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk sharing the same frame and battling the same common enemy (as well as each other) is pretty remarkable. And lastly, there's the fact that the Avengers are assembling under the watchful eye of writer/director Joss Whedon, at last making his leap from cult artist to mainstream moviemaker. While Whedon's name might not mean anything to a good 50-60 percent of the audience that'll show up opening weekend, there will be a significant segment of moviegoers more thrilled about seeing his name in the credits than any of the actors'. With all these various elements coming together, who can blame those viewers who are heading into the theater expecting to see the comic book movie to end all comic book movies?

Five Thoughts About The Avengers Trailer

by Ethan Alter October 11, 2011 12:19 pm
Five Thoughts About <i>The Avengers</i> Trailer

They're heeeeere! Joss Whedon's all-star adventure The Avengers is still seven months away from hitting theaters, but Disney is wasting little time getting footage out there to the superhero-starved masses. After a new batch of photos hit the interwebs last week, here comes the movie's first official trailer, which offers a far more substantial peek at the movie's scale and set-pieces than that short teaser at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger did. Here's our instant reaction to a trailer we're sure we'll be watching over and over again in the run-up to the movie's May 4, 2012 release.

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