Admittedly, I went into The Croods with a great deal of skepticism. After all, as a mom, I've been subjected to more than my fair share of Ice Age and Madagascar movies. So no matter how cute the little sloth may be (and Kristin Bell is probably gonna freak when she sees it), I wasn't exactly jumping for joy heading into the theater. But this movie won me over. It started out a little slow, but after they got to the gist of the plot, I was charmed by the actual storyline. Even though it was co-written and directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders, I'm quite tempted to credit its quality to Sanders -- who made Lilo & Stitch -- and not the dude behind... Space Chimps.
This past weekend, two big-budget action movies, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Inception, went head-to-head. And while Apprentice was heavily hyped, and obviously meant to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, the film tracked poorly, got middling reviews and ultimately made half as much as Inception, despite opening two days earlier. ($25 million vs. $60 million.) With profitability in question and hopes of a sequel evaporated, we took a look at the fun-for-the-whole-family action-adventure to see what went wrong.
This movie had a lot of potential to go wrong. The original cartoon, starring Mickey Mouse, is a short-form classic, and turning it into a modern-day, live-action feature film, especially one starring the occasionally painful to watch Nicolas Cage, seemed like it was fraught with peril -- especially if you aren't a big fan of the films of Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Cool Runnings, 3 Ninjas). Despite the trailers' general awesomeness, I had recurring visions of a train wreck of Super Mario Bros. proportions. Luckily, the movie turned out to be a fun, funny adventure that more than lives up to the original's legacy -- in fact, the scene where they pay homage to the original is my least favorite. Sorry, Mickey.
It seems difficult to mess up a character like Ghost Rider. He's a motorcyclist with a flaming skull for a head, who hunts the guilty and makes them relive their crimes with his Penance Stare. He looks awesome, and his goals are pretty straightforward. And yet, somehow, the movie based on the comic book character was pretty universally awful. A lot of it had to do with the story, but the rest had to do with the cast: Eva Mendes was dull as the true love, Wes Bentley wasn't particularly intimidating as the evil demon, and Nicolas Cage's quirky stuntman actually overshadowed his skull-faced alter ego. So that may be why they're making another Ghost Rider movie without Cage. Wait, they can do that? Isn't Cage, like, a huge comic book fan? We can't imagine he's thrilled to have been booted from his own superhero franchise, but hopefully he'll have more success with The Sorceror's Apprentice. (Although they should probably avoid putting his huge face on the posters, which seems to be a common thread among his bombs.) In the meantime, we say remake more unsuccessful Nic Cage movies using a different actor. Everybody wins! Except for Nic Cage.
Today is Nicolas Cage's birthday. It's also the day the first mainstream release of 2011 comes out, which just so happens to be Cage's first attempt at playing a character who didn't live during the industrial age. Fans of Cage's famous (on-screen) freak-outs will probably cackle with glee at the thought of him throwing one in a castle courtyard (think Ray Liotta as a wizard in In the Name of the King), but I'm happy to see his overly serious delivery placed in a context where it actually makes sense, something we got to see a little bit of in last year's Sorcerer's Apprentice. Granted, serious Cage isn't as fun as manic Cage, but in Season of the Witch, he gets to act noble in a time when nobility actually meant something, and it's okay for him to act holier-than-thou when he has a big fricking cross on his chest. He probably should have done one of these movies years ago, because Season is better than a significant portion of his recent output. That's not saying much, but it certainly says something.
Nicolas Cage may be the star of the new medieval action-horror movie Season of the Witch, but he wouldn't last through the opening credits without his wingman, played by Ron Perlman. As a pair of Crusaders escorting a witch to trial through plague-infested Europe, Cage and Perlman's characters make great use of their shared history as soldiers, and Perlman steals his scenes with his wit and charm. We talked exclusively to the Sons of Anarchy and Hellboy star about the role, his co-stars, and what's next for him as Clay Morrow and as Hellboy himself.
Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has two movies out this week -- one starring himself, and one starring his life-size, photo-realistic Nic Cage puppet. Man, that thing is creepy.
Watching commercials for Kick-Ass, one might be tempted to think that the movie is over the top. And depending on your definition (are the Coen brothers over the top? Tim Burton? Neveldine/Taylor?), it probably is. But while over-the-top movies often turn out to be the most enjoyable, Kick-Ass is actually more down to earth than most "serious" superhero movies. That's because the main character in the movie isn't a comic-book character, he's just an insecure teenager, and the other heroes are not superpowered at all -- they're just intelligent people with a flair for the dramatic and the element of surprise. The movie still goes a bit too far in places, but compared to the Crank series, Kick-Ass is like An Education with ski masks. It's also really funny, really violent and really entertaining.
Have you ever bit into a Jelly Belly jellybean, expecting it to be something tasty, like Toasted Marshmallow, but instead it's something nasty, like Buttered Popcorn? I totally got ready for marshmallows when I saw a news story that announced that there was a trailer out for the movie G-Force. I was like, "Awesome! Finally, a full trailer for the sure-to-be-excellent computer-animated movie about a team of five crime fighters in bird suits, based on the Japanese cartoon of the same name that I grew up watching!" Then I clicked the link, and the taste of Buttered Popcorn jellybeans filled my mouth. G-Force the movie is something totally, totally different, and totally, totally nauseating.
This movie weekend is surprisingly balanced with different kinds of movies opening. Great job, Hollywood! High five Ari Gold for me! You've got I Love You, Man for laughing, Duplicity for knowing what a farce not dissimilar to professional espionage that romance is, and Knowing for knowing that the world is an unavoidable ticking time bomb of doom and destruction.
Quick Knowing plot synopsis: Nicolas Cage plays a man of science whose young son digs up a 50-year-old time capsule that predicts the dates and death tolls of impending disasters (because of how worthwhile things are always being put in time capsules) and Cage has to stop something called "The Whisper People" who look like Krycek with a Spike dye job from ending the world. The trailer feels really Shyamalan-y with the whole there's an event happening and a man who sees no meaning in the world is taught that the world is lousy with meaning and he has to get it together to save his family and stop the world from ending thing. But really -- if the damn world is ending and there are supernatural albino fake Kryceks whispering around perpetrating it, what's Captain Corelli's Mandolin going to do about it? Make out with Penelope Cruz and hope the Nazis don't see? If that is the twist ending of the film and I just spoiled it for you I apologize. I should have written that down and put in a time capsule instead. I know that now. I have learned my lesson. Anyway, I watched the whole trailer and this movie looks a lot like these other movies: