Archive for June, 2010

Cruise’s new film full of old tricks

Posted in Reviews with tags on June 23, 2010 by Steve Mesa

In their new movie Knight and Day, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz reunite once again with even longer screen time together than the last movie they were in, which was Vanilla Sky in 2001.

The life of June Havens (Diaz) is turned upside down when he meets Roy Miller (Cruise), a rogue secret agent who is holding a self-powered super battery that could run the power of a small town.

After June and Roy both realize that they need each other in order to survive, they begin to go on the run and travel to different places around the world from The Alps to Spain with Roy’s former colleagues (Peter Sarsgaard and Viola Davis) and a weapons dealer (Jordi Molla) on their tail.

Tom Cruise is playing a character that could have been a rip-off of his Mission Impossible character, Ethan Hunt. At the same time, he does not take his character too seriously as Cruise tries to have as much fun as he can have with this role.

Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, is playing the role of the dumb blonde that she has played several times in other movies such as The Sweetest Thing and What Happens in Vegas.

Midway through the movie and after nearly escaping death several times, Roy tells June not to leave the hotel they are staying in and she does the opposite by following him to a secret rendezvous. The chemistry between Cruise and Diaz is interesting to see as the movie progresses, but it gets more and more obvious that the movie will have a happy ending for the couple.

The story of the film takes a backseat to Diaz and Cruise because most of the movie’s structure borrows certain elements from other films whether it is the couple-on-the-run (North By Northwest) or the renegade spy chased by his former employers (The Bourne films).

There is also a scene in the film where June visits the residence of an old couple (Celia Watson and Dale Dye) that reveals a back-story for Roy that ruins Roy’s mysterious aspect.

However, the action and fight sequences are well choreographed especially in the scenes where Roy takes on a plane full of assassins and the couple is chased by bad guys in the middle of the Running of the Bulls event in Spain.

The most frustrating thing about watching this film is that the majority of the action sequences that occur in the movie have already been exposed for a great length of time through the film’s promotional campaign.

Based on that, anyone who plans to see Knight and Day or has an interest in this film should avoid seeing the film’s trailer and/or any further television sneak peeks.

Knight and Day has a solid start within the first twenty minutes and vivid action sequences, but it has a predictable storyline that borrows certain elements from other spy movies. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz share an interesting chemistry, but they individually do not bring anything new to the table.
KNIGHT AND DAY: 3 stars out of 5

TOY STORY 3 a must see this summer

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on June 22, 2010 by Steve Mesa

Not a lot of “threequels” live up to the success of their last two predecessors, but Toy Story 3 manages to do that with the return of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and some new characters added to the mix.

Eleven years after the events of Toy Story 2, the toys’ owner, Andy (John Morris), is getting ready to move away to college. Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) try to assure the rest of the toys that they will be happy living in the attic, but the other toys want to be donated so they can be played with by other children. Their destination turns out to be Sunnyside Day Care, which at first seems like a utopia for toys. However, they find out that it is more like a prison ruled under the iron fist of Lotso (Ned Beatty), a cuddly, strawberry-scented purple bear that will never let the toys leave once they learned the truth.

Toy Story 3 manages to improve the animation from the last two Toy Story films, even though those films were dated two decades ago. The film also has bright and vibrant colors that do not become too much for the eyes thanks to the hard-working Pixar’s animation team. The look of the texture of the characters in the movie has improved from the hairs of the human characters to the plastic of the toys. Toy Story 3 looks even better in 3D than Disney’s last 3D movie, Alice in Wonderland.

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack and the rest of the gang from the previous movies are back in usual form, but they also have something different to offer in their roles. They also manage to remind anyone who grew up watching the last two films, why these characters are beloved and memorable. The introduction of new characters to the franchise is welcoming and would not overwhelm the moviegoers on how many characters there are to follow. Ned Beatty is great as the main villain, a plush bear who acts more like a sadistic warden than a cuddly toy. His character also has a sad flashback that shows how and why he became who he is today. Michael Keaton is fantastic as Ken, especially when he sets sight on Barbie (Jodi Benson) for the first time and later tries to impress her with his extensive wardrobe.

Written by Oscar-winning screenwriter of the movie Little Miss Sunshine, Michael Arndt, the screenplay is great as it manages to make this film more than a tale of the toys’ misadventures. The movie at first becomes a “road” movie to get back to their owner, but then midway turns into a movie about being trapped in a “prison” daycare, through the narrative like classic films such as Cool Hand Luke and The Great Escape. There is even a scene in Toy Story 3 that pays homage to a scene in Cold Hand Luke where a character recites a monologue about spending time in “The Box.” The film has very funny scenes that include Mr. Potato Head’s body parts on a tortilla or the other toys resetting Buzz by accident to speak Spanish. While Toy Story 3 has humorous moments, there are also moments in the film that makes it real for the human characters, especially a specific scene that shows the transition from childhood to adulthood that can make any one with a heart, tear up.

Pixar has done it once again as their films keep getting better and better, especially with their latest masterpiece, Toy Story 3. The film is a fun and eye-popping ride for all ages with introductions to new character and a great screenplay to support the movie. The movie is now in theatres.
TOY STORY 3: 5 stars out of 5

Smith and Chan discuss new film, THE KARATE KID

Posted in Features with tags , , , on June 14, 2010 by Steve Mesa

Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan star together in the remake of the 1984 film, that made Cobra Kai, the Crane Kick and the expression of “wax on, wax off” famous, The Karate Kid.

Smith plays Dre Parker, a new kid who moved to Beijing because his mom (Oscar-nominee, Tariji P. Henson) had to relocate for her job. When Dre has had enough with getting beat up by bullies, he seeks the teachings and guidance of Mr. Han (Chan), who will teach him martial arts in order to get ready for a local tournament.

Smith and Chan were in town for the movie’s press tour and The Beacon had the privilege to sit down with the two actors about their movie.

Smith got familiar with the original movie when he was offered the role by his dad, Will Smith. Chan has also seen the movie as well, he says that the movie was good but the action scenes were silly.

Smith had to train vigorously for the fight sequences he takes part in The Karate Kid.

“It was difficult because I had to train three months before shooting the film, four months during the making of the film and now I am training again which together has been a year of training,” Smith says.

Chan was interested in taking the role of Mr. Han because he always wanted to work with Will Smith.

“I love Will Smith,” Chan says. “I have known him for many years when I met him in different countries like China and Japan, but we have never [worked] together.”

At first, Chan was hesitant about Jaden’s fighting skills until his stunt team, who was working with Smith before Chan got to meet him, told Chan that Smith is good.

“I liked training Jaden because he learned martial arts and also learned to respect other people and his family,” Chan says.

Smith said his most difficult scene in the movie to film was his first on-screen kiss because he hated being told specifically how and where to position himself when he was kissing his co-star, Wenwen Han.

Chan’s most difficult scene to shoot in the movie was a car scene he shares with Smith in which he had to remember an emotional dialogue that needed to be said in perfect English.

“When you remember the dialogue, you forget acting,” Chan says. “You have to act, speak and cry at the same time and the director wants me to do it again so he can shoot in different angles.”

Chan said that he wants to be more than just an action superstar; he says he want to be the “Asian Robert DeNiro.”

“If everybody still treated me like an action star, I would not be where I am right now,” Chan says. “I want to do all kinds of different characters just like Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino.”

Smith is hoping to make another Karate Kid movie in the near future, while Chan will be working on a movie called Chinese Zodiac where he will working on fight choreography, the screenplay and scouting the locations for the upcoming film.

GET HIM TO THE GREEK’s stars talks comedic chemistry and Diddy

Posted in Features with tags , on June 4, 2010 by Steve Mesa

Jonah Hill and Russell Brand reunites with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stroller to tell the story of a record company intern named Aaron (Hill) who has two days to get rock legend Aldous Snow (Brand) from his home in London to Hollywood to perform at the Greek Theater in Get Him to the Greek.
Hill and Brand were in Miami two months ago for the movie’s press tour and The Beacon had the privilege to sit down with the two comedic stars.
The last time Hill and Brand worked together was in the 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall where Brand played Snow and Hill played a hotel employee who is obsessed with Snow. Brand did not know that they really had comedic chemistry together until it was noticed by director Nicolas Stroller.
“It is like you are in the middle of having good sex, you do not think ‘My God, this is first rate’, Brand says. “You are just lost in the moment.”
“Russell is obviously hysterical,” Hill says. “Nick noticed we had good chemistry together and he wanted to see us as two leads in a film”.
Hill and Brand may be the lead actors in Get Him to the Greek, but there not the only talented actors to standout in the film as rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs star in the film as Aaron’s boss and Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss as Aaron’s girlfriend. Hill, who is a fan of Mad Men, was excited when he found out that she was going to be in the film with him.
Hill said that when Combs auditioned for the part of his boss in the film, he earned it.
“When you watch the movie, you find it shocking to see how funny he is because he steals the movie because it is so different to who he is in real life,” Hill says.
Brand said that working with Combs was amazing because he never met anyone like him before in his life.
“He is a real character, showman and one-of-a-kind individual,” Brand says.
Get Him to the Greek is produced by Judd Apatow and as part of the tradition for Apatow-made films, there is several extended and deleted scenes that did not make the final cut. Brand’s favorite scene that did not make it to the film was a scene that had him and Hill jogging in New York City. Hill’s favorite scene that also did not make the film involved Combs, Brand and Hill driving around Las Vegas in a Bentley car trying to do freestyle rap.
“It was a really funny scene that just did not fit in the movie,” Hill says. “It was one of those funny scenes that I hope will make it on the DVD releases of the movie”.
Hill has previously said in past interviews that the 2007 summer hit Superbad was his favorite film that he has done in his career. Now, he says that it is a three-way tie between Superbad, Get Him to the Greek and Cyrus, a movie he stars in with John C. Reiley and Marisa Tomei that comes out June 18th. However, he said that Superbad holds a special place in his heart because he says not only does he love the movie, but he is proud of the final product.
“It was truly a film made by really close friends and it was so much fun because we were all so close,” Hill says. “There were no expectations for Superbad while we were making it because some people thought it was going to be another cheap, dumb high school movie”.