Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Full Length Trailer for "Skyfall" is Here!

Andrew: "That was dope." "Wow."

Those are the first things Sarah and I said, respectively, after we finished watching the new full length trailer for this fall's new James Bond movie, Skyfall. Needless to say, we're pretty damn excited for this (as you might have surmised if you've read our favorite films lists or our Lieber Award post). I'm absolutely loving the premise of this entry into a great franchise (leaving behind the relative stink of Quatum of Solace).Just.......just watch this trailer below. November 9th can't get here soon enough.

Skyfall stars Daniel Craig in his third turn as 007, Judi Dench as M (she's the best M in the series, in my humble opinion), and Javier Bardem in what looks to be a pretty sweet villain role.

The Liebster Award

The Liebster is an award that's passed from blogger to blogger as a recognition of quality work. We received ours from Nick at The Cinematic Katzenjammer. To accept the award however there are rules which must be followed:

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves
2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link to your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.

Since there are two of us in this blog, we will be answering these questions separately. Enjoy!

Monday, July 30, 2012

So Much Promise, Such Poor Execution: Our Review of "The Watch" (2012)

Directed By: Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod)

Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade

Rating: R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images

Run Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Synopsis: After the security guard of his store is brutally murdered one night, Evan (Stiller) decides to put together a neighborhood watch to catch the killer. He manages to get three guys to join him - Bob (Vaughn), who doesn't know how to deal with his teenage daughter; Franklin (Hill), a police academy reject with violent tendencies; and Jamarcus (Ayoade), a new neighbor who wants to make some friends. When the four of them discover an apparent alien invasion in town, they struggle to figure out how to stop it and to fix what's all wrong in their lives.


Andrew: Hello readers! We know it’s been about a week since our last review and for that we apologize. But the other night we caught a matinee of this past weekend’s new R-rated comedy The Watch, starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. Directed by Akiva Schaffer – one third of The Lonely Island – and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who teamed together to write Superbad), this was one of only two new releases this week. In our preview I said I was pretty excited because of the pedigree behind it, but you were less than enthused to see it. Turns out you were right to be, eh?

Sarah: Yeah! I had very little enthusiasm for this movie. Great pedigree and I usually love the actors in it, but I just wasn’t excited about the storyline and it turns out I was right not to be. Because this movie was one of the dumbest movies we’ve seen this year, in my opinion.

A: I wouldn’t say it was one of the dumbest, but it was certainly disappointing and very uneven in the comedy department.

S: It was like they were trying to fit in science fiction with a your typical Ben Stiller or Vince Vaughn comedy and then shoehorn some family conflicts going on…I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why it was the way that it was, and I thought it was just generally bad. I was bored!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Reasons Why: You Should See "The Dark Knight Rises" in True IMAX

Sarah: Hello readers! Last night Andrew and I, along with our friend Doug, made the a trek up to Framingham, Mass to check out The Dark Knight Rises in true IMAX. (You can find out review of it HERE.) We had gone to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol at this particular theatre last year just so we could see the prologue for TDKR, and when it rocked our socks off we knew going back for the whole thing was a must!

Now you have already seen the two posts we have done reviewing this movie, but we really think that you should really get out and catch this one on the big screen if you haven't yet! And here are 5 reasons why...

1.) Christopher Nolan and his cinematographer of choice, Wally Pfister, filmed over an hour of TDKR was with an IMAX camera. That's unprecedented in feature film history. And they way that the film transitions between widescreen and the IMAX footage was seamless. Almost the entire final act was shot and shown in IMAX which was awesome because...

2.) You get the full impact of the large-scale shots. The plane crash scene, the full city shots, the Bat flying around, the action scenes...it's all pretty awesome. Nolan specifically shot so much of this movie in IMAX to get the grand scope of these shots and to bring us further into the universe he's built in his trilogy. And it's easy to see why he wanted to.

(Andrew's note: "I almost never noticed when the film transitioned between IMAX shots and non-IMAX shots, but every single time the entire screen was taken up my jaw dropped. It's a gorgeous looking movie.")

3.) Details become clearer. If you are one of those movie-goers who loves to pick through the details of a film, then IMAX is the only way to see TDKR. For me personally, I loved that this was a better chance to take a look at all the amazing costumes. For instance, did you notice that the Dr. Crane/Scarecrow's costume actually made him look the part even without his mask. The shoulders of his suit ripped up the way they were was fantastic detail. I loved also how we could really get the nuances of Bane's expressions. His eyes are so powerful in this film so it was so cool to get the feeling that Bane was talking to the audience.

(Andrew's note: "This was the third time I've seen TDKR but it was the first time I've noticed how torn up and scarred Bane's arms are when he's not wearing his coat. During his first fight with Batman I couldn't help but keep looking at his arms and wonder what happend to his character to cause those. Thanks to IMAX, I could actually make that detail out.")

4.) The sound is impeccable. I'm not entirely sure it every IMAX theatre has as great a sound sytem as the theatre we were in last night, but I want to say they do. Regardless, the speaker system's in IMAX theatres can only help enhance Hans Zimmer's amazing score and amplify the sound effects in the action sequences. When Bane and Batman are hitting each other with all they've got you FEEL the punches land because of the sound waves. It's awesome. Speaking of feeling the action...

5.) The Jordan's Furniture and IMAX we went to in Massachusetts last night has something no other theatre we've ever been to has: butt-kickers. What are butt-kickers, you ask? Well in every single seat in theatre (which were all Tempur-Pedic seats, too) there is a bass speaker built into the seat. So when the action is going on or the music is rocking, your SEAT is rocking too! It seriously felt like we were in the plane with Bane and his henchmen in the opening scene. It just helped enhance the movie-going experience!

So, if you live close to a true IMAX theatre we highly suggest you get there to see this summer blockbuster! Even though it was the second time for me and the third time for Andrew, The Dark Knight Rises did not fail to deliver!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our Preview of This Week's New Releases (For Friday, July 27th)

Andrew: Hello readers! We're back with our preview of this week's new releases. Last week we only saw the wide release of one film, the juggernaut that is The Dark Knight Rises, but this week we see two films. One is an original R-rated comedy starring some big names, The Watch, and one is a sequel to a series that I have no idea how or why they're still making more of these, and that's Step Up: Revolution.
Sarah, you pick which one we'll talk about first.
Sarah: Let's go ahead and get the new Step Up Revolution out of the way. The only good one of these films was the first one. It actually did a lot to help Channing Tatum's career and he has turned into quite the movie star. But now, all these movies are are glorified dance videos. And granted, they have some pretty sweet dance scenes but the storylines are usually lacking pretty heavily.
They are niche movies that appeal to a very small audience, but an audience nonetheless so they continue to make them. These movies fall under my "Land Before Time Movies" – as in movies that have sequel after sequel made and I have no idea why.
Official Trailer for Step Up Revolution

A: I haven't seen any of them, to be perfectly honest. And it's pretty much because I have no interest in seeing them outside of checking out the dance scenes, and THAT'S only because I watched the Jabbawockeez on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew.
But looking at the box office information for this series on Wikipedia, I can see why the studio keeps making them. While each new one has made less money than the previous one domestically, it's been the opposite internationally and Step Up 3D actually brought in over $159 million total when it only cost $30 million to make. That's some nice profit.
Continuing my amazing research into this film, the star looks to be some actress/dancer named Kathryn McCormick who placed 3rd during a season of So You Think You Can Dance. The biggest name I can find on the cast list is Peter Gallagher, who I know best from The O.C. and a movie I’m not afraid to admit I love, Mr. Deeds. So the film-makers must be doing something right to make such a good profit off of these no-name films.
S: Like I said, they do have an audience. I think it is safe to say that we will probably not be seeing this one in the theatres...or ever for that matter. I think I just have a hard time seeing them based on my movie standards.
So let's move on to The Watch. This Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Jonah Hill movie looks to bring hilarity with a twist of science fiction to the screen this weekend. What do you think about this one?
A: I'm actually quite looking forward to The Watch because of the pedigree it's bringing. As you said, it stars Stiller, Vaughn and Hill who are all funny people in their own rights, but it's also directed by Akiva Schaffer, one of the members of The Lonely Island. He personally directed some of their best videos like "Dick in a Box," "Natalie's Rap," and "I Just Had Sex" to name a few. It's also co-written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who wrote Superbad together, and Goldberg also co-wrote Goon, a personal favorite of ours we just caught. So yeah, I'm all about the people behind the making of this movie. The fact that it's rated R gives me some high hopes, too, because those are relatively few and far between.
 Official Trailer for The Watch

S: True! I am expecting it to be similar to 21 Jump Street in the comedy deparment, which is holding the bar pretty high for it in our opinion. Vaughn hasn't been in anything lately that I really loved so I am excited to see what he can bring to this movie. Stiller will be hilarious in it I'm sure, and I love Skinny Jonah Hill. I can't seem to get enough of him lately and neither can Hollywood apparently! So while this weekend isn't going to be as epic as last week at the theatres, it looks to be one where we will be laughing more.
A: My one hesitation with The Watch is that Stiller and Vaughn seem to be playing roles that they always play. Stiller is playing the straight-guy, the every-man who's nothing special but kind of reacts to all the shenanigans that are happening around him; while Vaughn looks like he's playing a guy who's related to his Beanie character in Old School. That said I find them to be very funny in those roles. I've also heard good things about Richard Ayoade from some co-workers who've seen him in a British comedy show called The IT Crowd.
S: Oh yeah but we have come to love them for playing these characters, it wouldn't be fair to expect them to change for this movie. It should be entertaining and that is all I can ask for!
Also, because I was gone while this happened and didn’t get a chance to speak on it, I think it is important to also note that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Colorado shooting last week. It was such a terrible thing to happen in a place that brings joy to so many people.
A: Amen. Ok readers, be on the lookout for our review of The Watch at some point this weekend as we’ll definitely be seeing that one, and as always thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sarah Finally Saw TDKR So We Talk About Spoilerish Stuff (Plus Her Rating)

Andrew: Hello readers! Sorry we've been a little quiet since my review of The Dark Knight Rises on Friday, but it's still crazy busy at the day job and Sarah just got back from her trip late Monday. But fear not! We hit up the local multiplex last night to get Sarah caught up on TDKR and we're ready to get down and dirty with discussing some finer points of the movie and Nolan's whole Dark Knight Trilogy in general! (MAJOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN TDKR YET!!!!)


Ok Sarah, the first thing I want to get your take on, because it's probably the most talked about aspect of the film, is the ending. It looks like Bruce Wayne has sacrificed himself by flying the nuclear reactor over Gotham Bay in The Bat and is blown to smithereens. His estate is given to the city to be used as an orphanage, Alfred gets the money from his belongings after crying his eyes out at Bruce's funeral, and the city has erected a statue in Batman's honor. But then Lucius Fox discovers that Bruce fixed the autopilot on The Bat, Commissioner Gordon finds the Bat Signal replaced with a new one, Alfred - in a call-back to an earlier scene - sees Bruce alive and well with Selina Kyle at an Italian cafe, and John Blake follows some coordinates Bruce left him and discovers the Bat Cave, implying he'll take up the mantle as the new Batman.

What did YOU think of that ending???

Sarah: Let me start off by saying that this was an amazing movie. But to answer your question the ending was phenomenal! I thought the way they wrapped it up was a little quick for my liking. I found myself going, "But wait, I want more of THAT!!" I loved how this movie felt a little different from the last two but still fit in well in the trilogy. The introduction of new characters was well done and they were perfectly cast. 

Here's the thing. The Dark Knight Rises ends and lends itself to be the right set-up for another one! But Nolan has repeatedly said that he didn't want to do another one. What's up with that?!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Nolan's Third Act Certainly Rose to My Expectations: Andrew's Review of "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012)

Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language

Run Time: 2 hours, 44 minutes

Synopsis: 8 years after the Joker's chaotic attack and Harvey Dent's death, Gotham is in a state of peace and Bruce Wayne (Bale) has retired the Batman. But a fearsome thug named Bane (Hardy) arrives with plans to destroy the city, bringing Wayne out of retirement. At the same time a cat burglar (Hathaway) is catching Wayne's attention, and a young police officer (Gordon-Levitt) tries to help Batman stop Bane's terror attack.


Andrew: Hello readers! It's just me for this rare occassion. Sarah is away visiting family while I had to stay back for work. Naturally this had to happen when one of the most anticipated films of the year is released, so we can't do a regular review. So instead I will be giving a singular review of Christopher Nolan's final entry in his Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. I'm going to do my best to not spoil anything. When Sarah returns we'll go more in-depth into discussion points on spoilerish things, but for now I'll give my general thoughts on the movie.

In short, as I tweeted on the Two Tickets For... Twitter account (@twoticketsfor) not too long after getting out of the theatre, "Wow. Just.....wow." Of the many things that made say "wow" is just the sheer scope of it all. Nolan certainly went big here: the settings, the action pieces, the plot-lines, the villain. If someone at Warner Bros. told Nolan to go big or go home, he took the first option and ran with it.

I've read many reviews for The Dark Knight Rises so far and a few of them have pointed out that they felt there was TOO much going on. I don't disagree with that sentiment but I don't fully agree with it either. I can see where some moviegoers might feel like the first hour of the film is heavy on exposition and there's the potential for a lot of information overload. It didn't bother me, but with all the following stuff I can understand if others thought so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Brief Preview of "The Dark Knight Rises" (for Friday, July 20th)

Andrew: Hello readers! So it's been a little bit since we did a weekly preview, because Sarah and I have been pretty busy with our days jobs, but we figured we absolutely needed to do one this week for a couple of reasons.

For one, Sarah's going to be visiting some family out-of-state this weekend, and she flies out tomorrow, so we couldn't do it any later than today. And secondly, even though there's only one big release coming out this week, it's a DOOZY and I think we all know which one we're talking about.

Of course, we mean the final act in Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.

Sarah, we're both obviously looking forward to this film very much (just like most of the world). But what I want to know right off the bat is what specifically you're looking forward to about it the most?

Sarah: The thing I am most looking forward to most is getting some questions answered! Where has Batman been? What has he been doing? Do the people of Gotham really think he is the bad guy? Who is this new love interest? Is Catwoman gonna kick some ass? And WHAT does Joseph Gordon-Levitt have to do with the storyline!

So many questions and I still have to wait three days to see it in Virginia!

A: Those are some damn good questions, and I share a lot of them with you. Yeah, I want to know what JGL's role is. I know he's a young police officer under the guidance of Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon, but why is he in this film? A similar question can be asked for Marion Cotillard’s Miranda Tate. There’s been a lot of rumors that her character is Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins.

And I too would like to know how Anna Hathaway does as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, as well as how Tom Hardy does as Bane. These are two of my favorite current actors and it looks like they're both perfect casting choices for the roles. But how will they fit in this universe Nolan has created? And can they even come close to Heath Ledger's legendary turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight?

S: So many questions! Here’s another one: do you think people are putting too much pressure on this one? Do they have expectations that are too high?

A: I am 100% certain that any and all people who see TDKR and have seen TDK will have extremely high expectations, and possibly ones that are too high for Nolan's latest to fill. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Not in my mind, because TDK is an instant classic (thanks in large part to Ledger), so it's reasonable to think Nolan can make another one just as good.

I mean, I have Nolan's last two films in my personal top ten because they deserve to be there. I know I have high expectations for TDKR, especially since we've seen the prologue when we saw Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol in IMAX, but I also know I'll need to critique TDKR on its own merits. Honestly it'll be tough to do in practice, but it's what I'll be trying to do.

S: I think it is interesting yet touching that Nolan has stated that he won't have Ledger's Joker mentioned in this movie. It makes sense to me because of the nature of Ledger's death. So in that instance, I really don't think that he will have too much of a shadow that will be cast. I really think that Tom Hardy's Bane will be a fantastic addition to the bad guy club.

A: Good point on what Nolan’s said about the Joker not being mentioned at all. I think that’s part of the reason Nolan (who co-wrote the story with his brother Jonathan) set his last film 8 years after the incidents in TDK. Because it’s so long after the fact, and because Bruce Wayne has become a Howard Hughes-esque recluse during that time-frame, there’s no need to mention the Joker. Maybe that’s just something I’m reading into the situation, but it makes sense to me.

S: Could be! I can’t wait to find out, as this will be an exciting weekend for the summer blockbuster season! While Andrew will be seeing this movie opening night, I will have to wait until Saturday! "But how," you may ask, "are you going to write a dual review!?" Well, readers, we won’t be doing one immediately. Andrew will post a solo review first thing Friday, and when I return we’ll do a joint one in full discussion mode.

A: So be on the lookout for those this weekend! As always, thanks for reading! If you need a quick refresher or just something to get you pumped for the movie to come out, check out the trailer again below!

Official Trailer for The Dark Knight Rises

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Nice Way to Cool Down on a Hot Day, But Not Much More: Our Review of "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (2012)

Directed By: Steve Martino (Horton Hears A Who) & Mike Thurmeier (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs)

Starring: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez

Rating: PG for mild rude humor and action/peril

Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Synopsis: The whole gang is back but when the continents start to shift it causes Manny, Diego, Sid and Sid's grandma are all split up from the rest of the herd. While floating out in the ocean they come across a pirate crew led by Captain Gutt, a monkey who's ahead of the game. But when Manny destroys Gutt's ship while trying to get back to his family, Gutt makes it his mission to get revenge on Manny and his herd.


Andrew: Hello readers! Full disclosure: Sarah and I live in an apartment with no central air-conditioning. We only have one window unit and it’s in the bedroom. So the rest of the apartment gets really hot in the summer. So we decided last night was as good as any to hit the movie theatre to take use of their AC and catch a new movie!

So we caught the latest installment in the Ice Age franchise – Ice Age: Continental Drift. It’s the fourth movie in the series and all four main characters are back: Ray Romano and Queen Latifah as Manny the wooly mammoth and his wife Ellie, Denis Leary as Diego the sabertooth tiger, and John Leguizamo as Sid the sloth.

We have to be honest – we had absolutely NO intention of seeing this movie in the theatres.

Sarah: None whatsoever.

A: Until Sunday basically, because while we were lounging around the apartment trying to stay cool, we stumbled across Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs on FX and we kept it playing in the background while we read. As the movie was going we kept finding ourselves laughing at silly things every now and then.

S: We found it more humorous than we had imagined we would. It was a shrewd movie by Fox because if it weren’t for FX, we wouldn’t have seen it Continental Drift in theatres.

A: Which was obviously the idea, and it worked. So well played, Fox.

S: I actually hate to admit that I liked this movie. I found it entertaining, cute, light-hearted…to me the Ice Age movies are this generation’s The Land Before Time. So I find them to be cute and humorous at times. Not the whole time, mind you, but enough to be enjoyable.

Truthfully, these movies (to me) are mainly a game called “Can You Name That Actor?”

The motley crew that Manny and Co. come across, led by Captain Gutt (voiced by Peter Dinklage) and his first mate Shira the sabertooth tiger (voiced by Jennifer Lopez)
A: I swear I was going to make that exact comment! So since you bring that up, l’ll say that I thought the voice-acting was an obvious strength of this film. We’re not going to go in-depth into the comedy and if there was a social commentary the film-makers were trying to get across like we might with a non-animated film, but there was a who’s who of famous actors in this film and it was fun to guess who voiced which character.

The one we COULD NOT pick out was who voiced the film’s villain, Captain Gutt, the monkey pirate. I had no idea who it was going in but I knew I recognized the voice, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it was Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones. His role as Tyrion Lannister on GoT is my personal favorite character, so I was very happy to see it was him as the villain here.

S: And Jennifer Lopez was Shira the Sabertooth Tiger, the first mate to Capt. Gutt and a potential love interest for Diego. Take or leave her, she wasn’t fantastic but she wasn’t bad either. It was very obvious it was her.

You also had some other stars in smaller roles, like Nicki Minaj, Drake and Heather Morris (Glee) as some teenage wooly mammoths; Joy Behar in a very small role as Sid’s mother, and Nick Frost (Paul) as Flynn the Elephant Seal.

Look! It's Heather Morris (Glee), Nicki Minaj and Drake as wooly mammoths! Obviously.

A: It was a very solid cast, and I don’t want to forget Keke Palmer (Akeela and The Bee) as Peaches, Manny and Ellie’s teenage daughter. She was perfect as a teenager being embarrassed of her father and your cliche teenager  things like that.

S: What’s funny to me is that in the promotions and things I’ve seen for this movie, I’ve seen Nicki Minaj more than Palmer, so I thought she was going to be the daughter.

Regardless, overall I thought the movie as a whole was very cute. There were some really funny parts that we found ourselves chuckling at…

A: You in particular were laughing a lot at Wanda Sykes’ performance as Sid’s grandmother.

S: Oh my gosh, Wanda Sykes was my favorite character. Bar none the funniest character in the film. Her character and Sid played off each other really well. She was cracking me up.

A: Let's change focus real quick and talk about it in regards to how it was for kids that might see it. Did you think it was scary at any point?

S: There was one point where the main characters are floating on an ice float and come across some sirens that was kind of freaky. It might have been freakier in 3D, but we only saw it in 2D. Still, we were caught off guard.

A:I honestly didn’t realize what was going on at first. You were the one that realized they were sirens, so well done there.

The obligatory photo of Sarah's favorite character in the film, Sid's Grandma, voiced by Wanda Sykes. In a film with plenty of very good voice-actor casting choices, she's definitely one of the highlights.
S: I knew what was going on but I didn’t expect them to look like the monsters they end up being. It has it’s thematic elements and can be suspenseful at times, but for the age of kids you’d probably take to this…kids have seen scarier I’m sure.

A: Gotchya. There’s really no bad language at all, and there’s not a whole lot of juvenile humor.

S: Yeah! I found that interesting. There’s more cute humor like with the little guinea pig things…

A: Which sounded exactly like Ewoks, by the way. But yeah, I was more into the humor like the elephant seal and his silliness. 

The animation was pretty top-notch, which is to be expected from this series. We're not sure how good the 3D version looks, but there were certainly some scenes early on that I assume were shot particular that way for the 3D version. But the water and icebergs and all those things looked great.

Yeah, overall It’s a nice kids movie the parents would probably also enjoy.

S: I would say it’s a better kids movie than The Lorax was. I was more entertained by this than I was by The Lorax.

A: Completely agreed. So then what’s our final verdict?

S: Ice Age: Continental Drift was good. Not great, but solid. Unless you have kids there’s no reason to see this in theatres. I might actually even just pass on it.

A: Of the franchise, where would this one rank?

S: I watched the second one today and it was just okay. The first one is my favorite of the series, hands down, but I would say Continental Drift is my second favorite behind the original.

FINAL VERDICT: Unless you have children, just pass on it.

(Out of Five clapboards)
Photo Courtesies: The GuardianUs Magazine, Hollywood.com

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Trailer for Sam Raimi's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is Here!

Andrew: Hello readers! We've been slacking a little bit with the trailers the past week and we're very sorry about that, but we're making up for it right now because the VERY FIRST trailer for Sam Raimi's  Oz: The Great and Powerful has hit the web!

Raimi's The Wizard of Oz prequel stars James Franco as the title character, who as we all know from the original story isn't really a wizard but just a magician who got lost and wound up in the Land of Oz. It also stars some famous ladies as the trio of witches of Oz: Michelle Williams as Glinda, Rachel Weisz as Evanora, and Mila Kunis as Theodora.

I know I was hesitant about this film from the get-go, but after seeing what Raimi has in store I'm getting a little more excited for it. Check out the trailer below!

Official Trailer for Oz: The Great and Powerful

Oz: The Great and Powerful comes out March 8, 2013

(UPDATE: If you're having trouble watching the video on our mobile site, go to the very bottom of the page and click on Web Version, and you should be able to watch the video on your iPhones that way!)

It's Not as Good, But We'll Always Have Paris: Our Review of "To Rome With Love" (2012)

Directed By: Woody Allen

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni

Rating: R for some sexual references

Run Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

Synopsis: Set in city of Rome, Woody Allen interweaves the stories of many different people – from a retired music director and his newest discovery to a young Italian couple who lose each other in the city and more.


Andrew: Hello readers! Sarah and I made the trip down the street to our movie theatre and caught Woody Allen’s latest film, To Rome With Love. Much like Allen's 2011 hit Midnight in Paris, To Rome With Love is another film with an ensemble comedy that takes place in a large European city. So a lot of similarities between the two.

This was not a film we previewed since we didn’t do a preview this week (it’s been incredibly busy at work for the two of us), it’s been in limited release in North America for a few weeks but only went wide just this week, and it’s one of the rare movies that we went in to see that I had absolutely no idea what it was about (not unlike Midnight in Paris, actually).

You knew a little bit more about it than I did because you had seen the trailer and some of the actors on talk shows.

Sarah: I did but the previews were pretty misleading. I expected it to be mainly focused on Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Ellen Page (Juno), Woody Allen…I expected it to focus on them because that’s what the trailer showed.

But it actually focused more on the Italian actors in the movie, at least I thought so. It’s very much an Italian movie, very much a European movie. I got this feeling that it American audiences were the secondary audience in mind for Allen. Just the flow of it, the look of it…I guess that’s the best way for me to describe it.

A: I guess I don’t fully understand why you’re saying that though.

S: It’s kind of avant-garde. To me…it didn’t have a lot of similarities with Midnight in Paris. It didn’t have much of a general storyline. There were five different subplots going on at the same time…

A: Well before we get any further, let’s go through those five threads, then get into out take on them. (Fair warning, this might get a little confusing.)

The first one we are introduced to is Hayley and Michaelangelo, an American tourist and an Italian lawyer, who meet cute and fall in love. They get engaged, so her parents (played by Woody Allen and Judy Davis (Marie Antoinette) fly to Rome to meet Michaelangelo and his family. Hayley’s father, Jerry, is a reluctantly retired music executive. As it turns out Michaelangelo’s father, Giancarlo, is a GREAT opera singer…but only when he’s in the shower. (Giancarlo is played by the famous Italian tenor Fabio Armiliato). So that vignette actually revolves around Jerry trying to make Giancarlo share his talents.

Next we’re BRIEFLY introduced to Alec Baldwin’s character, John, a famous architect on vacation in Rome who meets Jesse Eisenberg’s Jack, a budding architecture student.

S: And John really becomes Jack’s…what would he be? His adviser?

Alec Baldwin plays John, a famous architect who "advises" Jesse Eisenberg's Jack, an architecture student who falls for his girlfriend's friend. We were just as confused sometimes as Eisenberg is here.

A: John basically becomes Jack’s conscience. And it confused us because it really becomes JACK’S story where he lives with his girlfriend, Sally, and Sally invites her friend Monica  (Page) to stay with them for a while, even though Sally knows all men seem to fall for her. So while Jack tells Sally he won’t fall for her friend, John is always there to cut through the b.s. and tell him what he truly knows deep inside, pointing out all of Monica’s negatives that Jack is blind to. We’ll get back to this one.

S: Then we have the young newlywed Italian couple, Antonio and Milly. They’re visiting Rome because Antonio’s uncles have offered him a big job and he’s to meet all their business partners. But when Milly leaves the hotel to get a quick haircut, their stories split into two different paths.

While Milly’s out, a high-priced escort named Anna, played by Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona), shows up at Antonio’s hotel room, his aunts and uncles show up all of a sudden, and in a case of mistaken identity he pretends that Anna is his wife. Hijinks ensue.

A: On the flip side, after Milly loses her cell phone in a sewer grate and can’t find the hotel again, she stumbles across a movie set and meets her favorite actor, the fictional Luca Salta, with whom she goes to HIS hotel room and fights the urge to sleep with a famous actor. Hijinks also ensue there.

S: And it was funny to see Penelope Cruz in a role like this. You have these two unknown Italian actors and in-between them is this Hollywood superstar. The balance of it was quite funny.

We both particularly enjoyed Penelope Cruz's comedic turn as Anna, a prostitute who ends up having to pretend to be Antonio's (far left) wife during an important meeting with his uncles, one of whom is in the middle of this shot.

A: It really was. The final subplot involved Robert Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) as Leopoldo Pisanello…

S: Who is a middle-class nobody.

A: He’s a self-proclaimed schmuck.

S: And all of a sudden he’s super famous and he has no idea why.

A: There’s paparazzi following him around, reporters constantly asking him inane questions about what he ate for breakfast that morning…and it’s all very humorous but also very surreal. He literally has no idea why he’s famous. So those are the five storylines, and really they have NOTHING to do with one another.

S: Which is strange. It’s not like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day where everyone’s related somehow. Instead the narrative just bounces between the five stories.

A: Correct. Ok, so when I say that I think this is a lot like Midnight in Paris I mean in that it’s a Woody Allen film, it’s in another European city, it’s another ensemble cast but it’s a very quirky comedy that I didn’t see coming. Because what it is, much like Midnight in Paris, is that it’s a bit of a fantasy.

S: It’s very fantastical, I was JUST going to say that. Especially Benigni’s storyline where his Leopoldo is famous all of a sudden and has no idea why and EVERYONE around him believes him to be famous, too.

A: A lot of the time we had no idea what was going on in this movie or why it was going on. Alec Baldwin…there are scenes where he’s in the scene with Eisenberg and Page and they’re both talking to him and he’s talking to them, but is his character there? Is he not really there? And then at the end, he and Eisenberg have a final exchange, go their separate ways and the camera follows Baldwin! And it’s like, “Well was he really there that time?”

To me the similarities between Allen’s last two movies are that their very fantastical, to the point where with this film we asked each other if the characters were all dreaming.

S: We did. And they never explain what’s going on. So in that respect yes, it was a lot of like Midnight in Paris. I just didn’t feel like this one had a central storyline and I suppose that’s because it didn’t.

A: And each story had some sort of commentary going on with it, a criticism of something. Most notably to me, one that made me laugh and I think I was the only one in theatre who laughed when I realized it, but at one point Leopoldo asks his chauffeur, “WHY am I famous?” And the chauffeur replies (and I’m paraphrasing here), “You’re famous because you’re famous.”

The storyline for Leopoldo (Roberto Benigni) was definitely the strangest of the them all, but Andrew found it to be a sharp critique of the world's infatuation with "famous" people.

And at that moment it clicked for me that Leopoldo’s storyline is Woody Allen kind of critiquing people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, socialites and reality TV stars like that…

S: Who are mainly famous for being famous. I got ya.

A: Exactly. I think that’s what his story was a critique on and there are others like that in this film as well.

S: I will say…my favorite character in this movie was Woody Allen’s Jerry. He was so funny…

A: Oh man, he was annoying me at the beginning with his neuroses.

S: That’s what I found so hilarious! He was this little nerdy dad, which I know is his shtick, but it totally worked for me. But each character had their own special personality that was really quite clever of Allen. I applaud him for that.

A: Yeah, it was great casting, the script was good but at times I thought characters might have rambled or Allen held a shot too long, but overall I liked the storylines. And you mentioned her earlier, I really liked Cruz. She was very funny, especially when she and Antonio are taken to meet all his uncle’s business partners and they end up all recognizing her.

Much like Midnight in Paris I liked the music a lot but I wasn’t a huge fan of how Allen shot the movie.

S: I mentioned at the end of the movie, and I don’t know if you’ll agree with me, but this is another movie that seemed very much like a stage performance. There’s a narrator at the beginning and end, which was odd but felt a lot like a play to me. Then you have the visual of Alec Baldwin’s John being Jack’s conscience, sitting off to the side all the time but it’s like he’s not really there? That’s a very visual thing that would translate well to stage. There’s a lot of scenery so it might be tough to completely visualize this film on stage…

A: And you might have to streamline or cut out a couple of the storylines so you’re not bouncing back and forth so much, but I see what you mean now.

S: All this said, I’m not necessarily sure I liked the movie all that much. It’s not a movie that I would just pop in on a Friday night. But it was certainly entertaining. I’m glad we saw it.

A: I don’t think this will get any Oscar cred like Allen’s last film, it’s not quite as good, especially with the five storylines it got a little confusing at times and it probably ran a little long. But I’m still glad we saw it.

FINAL VERDICT: Netflix it.

(Out of Five clapboards)

Photo Courtesies: MovienewzItalia LivingAceShowBiz.comMad Betty