Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Highly-Anticipated Iron Man 3 Begins Production

Following in the footsteps of the record-breaking Marvel Studios' release "Marvel's The Avengers," production on the highly anticipated film "Iron Man 3," directed by Shane Black, has commenced production in Wilmington, North Carolina. The production schedule will also include locations in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, Miami, Florida and China.

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1963, "Iron Man 3" returns Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man," "Marvel's The Avengers") as the iconic Super Hero character Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Gwyneth Paltrow ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2,") as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle ("Iron Man 2") as James "Rhodey" Rhodes and Jon Favreau ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2") as Happy Hogan. Set for release in the U.S. on May 3, 2013, Marvel's "Iron Man 3" marks the second feature to be fully owned, marketed and distributed by Disney, which acquired Marvel in 2009.

Marvel's "Iron Man 3" Commences Principal Photography
In Preparation for May 3, 2013 Film Release

Marvel Studios

"Iron Man 3" continues the epic, big-screen adventures of the world's favorite billionaire inventor/Super Hero, Tony Stark aka "Iron Man." Marvel Studios' President Kevin Feige is producing the film. Executive producers on the project include Jon Favreau, Louis D'Esposito, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Charles Newirth, Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard and Dan Mintz.

Who They Have Assembled

Wow nice line up of talent in the creative production team on the film includes two-time Oscar®-winning director of photography John Toll, ASC ("Braveheart," "Legends of the Fall"), production designer Bill Brzeski ("The Hangover," "Due Date"), editors Jeffrey Ford, A.C.E. ("Marvel's The Avengers," "Captain America: The First Avenger") and Peter S. Elliot ("Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer"), and costume designer Louise Frogley ("Quantum of Solace," "Contagion").

Marvel's Track Record

Marvel Studios most recently produced the critically acclaimed "Marvel's The Avengers," which set the all-time, domestic 3-day weekend box office record at $207.4 million. The film, which is currently in release, continues to shatter box office records and is The Walt Disney Studios' highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time and marks the studios' fifth film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. Soooooo... WIN! They even streamed a showing of the film to the International Space Station.

In the summer of 2011, Marvel successfully launched two new franchises with "Thor," starring Chris Hemsworth, and "Captain America: The First Avenger," starring Chris Evans. Both films opened #1 at the box office and have grossed over $800 million worldwide combined. It was great to use these movies to drive the Avengers anticipation and not bog down the big movie with back story.

In 2010 "Iron Man 2," starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke, took the #1 spot in its first weekend with a domestic box office gross of $128.1 million.

In the summer of 2008, Marvel produced the summer blockbuster movies "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk." "Iron Man," in which Robert Downey Jr. originally dons the Super Hero's powerful armor and stars alongside co-stars Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow, was released May 2, 2008, and was an immediate box office success. Garnering the number one position for two weeks in a row, the film brought in over $100 million in its opening weekend. On June 13, 2008, Marvel released "The Incredible Hulk," marking its second number one opener of that summer. This was the start of the mammoth hero making movie machine.

The main reason these movies are successful is that they have people who are genuinely concerned about the integrity of the story and are interested in these heroes at the creative helm of these movies.

Published on News Blaze

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review of U.N. Me

U.N. ME - 90 Min - PG-13

Ami Horowitz, the film's host and creator, takes us on a very harsh look at the work that the United Nations (UN) has done. An organization that large is subject to corruption. This movie gives us the look at the dark side. I have never been a huge fan of documentaries but every now and then, one comes along, that gives you a glimpse at problems that exist, and need attention. This movie does an excellent job of making some observations of the UN organization by using its own information against it. Horowitz talks to ex-employees and also with the people who have been the victims of the corruption.

 The problem with a movie like this is when you observe something from one person's perspective, you are held down to their whims of the story, you have to see what they want to show you, you never get the whole truth. The issues brought up in this film are so large and so unconscionable even with that limited view, there are really no objectives sides that would lessen the horrific nature of the corruption. 

This movie did make me think about looking further into the problems and do more research to understand more about this issue. That's where this movie did an excellent job. When you spark something in your viewer and make them challenge their own understanding, you have really created something special.

 The only real criticism I have for this film is that at times, Horowitz makes jokes with the people he is interviewing. It looks like an attempt to make his subjects look foolish. It might be to soften the very dark reality that he is bringing to light. It comes off badly and he looks like he knows he should do something funny here, but has no idea how to pull it off. When you're interviewing someone who is forced to admit that they have not been able to define terrorism, or deny not knowing about what has been happening in their own country, or deny being at a meeting that was video recorded. You do not need to help in making them look foolish, they are doing a fine job by themselves.

 This movie is worth seeing from a geopolitical or a sociological standpoint. I was one of those people living with the belief that the UN had its problems but they did a lot of good work. Well they do a lot of good work but there are some problems that are so large that no amount of good can cover them up. I rate this film a green light mostly for the great work they did on the film's creation. Now go out and do another movie only less depressing, like starving homeless people or something.

 For more information, see the film website

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Friday, June 1, 2012

A Light Hearted Film With a Twist

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
BBC Films,
Kudos Film and Television, Lionsgate

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

This movie has all the elements of a great movie. If you look at it from a laundry list of its assets you have the potential for a really great film. Before you ask yourself "why do I want to see a fishing movie"; let me explain, fly fishing is only an element in the movie and not center of attention. The story surrounds two unlikely people who are brought together by a Sheik's passion for salmon fishing.
Fred Jones (Ewan McGregor) works for the British government as a fisheries scientist his life is full of angst dealing with his boorish pencil pushing boss and writing reports on the feeding habits of fish. He gets an E-mail from Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) asking what it would take to get Salmon to relocate to the wadis of the highlands of the Yemen. Harriet works for Sheikh Muhammed (Amr Waked) who has a vision about bring not just fish but prosperity to the people in the region.

Fred writes the e-mail off as a prank and writes back with a cheeky response. Meanwhile the Prime Minister's Press Secretary (Kristin Scott Thomas) is looking for some good news from the Middle East to give to the PM a good will story that will end in some great press. Building a bridge with the voting fishing community is just what she is looking for. She pulls some strings and Fred and Harriet are now working on a project that was completely inconceivable.

This story takes them from three completely different worlds and brings them out of their normal lives and exposes them to a world that makes them change as drastically as they are changing the environment.
This is a romantic comedy drama, a romcomdrom if you will. With so many elements it really spreads itself too thin, only touching on each of the different kinds of movies but not really diving deeply into the complexity of the relationships. It's a shame because of the really great talent they brought together. The Director (Lasse Hallström) works with this kind of film a lot and this film feels like he is in a rut. He did not do a bad job with this film but he did not do a great job either.

The cinematography was excellent. There are some shots that really parallel the struggles of modern humans and the animal kingdom. The landscape is wonderful to look at with the prime locations to film in. Scotland is visually contrasted to the desert of Morocco, but each is beautiful in different ways.
When dealing with a Middle East based story you can't avoid exploring the political and theological conflicts in the region. This movie does pose the questions of how to bring our cultures together; fishing is something that the characters use as a starting off point. I am really over thinking this but I think the take away for this story is that we have to talk with people to understand what our true common grounds are and start from there. I might have missed the point of this light hearted film.

This movie did make me think about how much we look at the Middle East and only hear about the radical factions and the violence. I have to remember that not everyone has the same ideas and feelings as what we see in the news. There are people over there that have the same loves as we have. Maybe they feel the same way about this film? Maybe that's our starting off point?

The Blu-ray edition of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen will be out July 17, 2012 presented in 1080p video and 5.1 DTS-hd Master Audio. An UltraViolet digital copy will be included.
A pair of bonus features included are 'Miracles Happen: Making Salmon Fishing in the Yemen' and 'The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday.'

To see the trailer of "Salmon Fishingin the Yemen:

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Avengers Assemble... in Space

Louis D' Esposito, Marvel Studios' Co-President and Executive Producer of "Marvel's The Avengers," announced in a press release they are working with NASA to uplink the film to the crew of the ISS. He is quoted as saying "The studio is privileged to share 'Marvel's The Avengers' with those up in space exploring the universe. A special thanks goes to NASA for utilizing their incredible technology to make this special screening miles above us in space happen. It is a screening that would make Tony Stark envious."


Not only is being an astronaut cool in itself, they also get to have a private screening of a record breaking film. This might be a gesture of thanks for letting Marvel film some of the movie at their Space Power Facility at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio.
The current space station mission is Expedition 31 and has a six-member crew consisting of 2 NASA Astronauts, 1 European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut, and 3 Russian (RU) Cosmonauts as follows: Don Pettit (NASA), Joe Acaba (NASA), Andre Kuipers (ESA), Oleg Kononenko (RU), Gennady Padalka (RU), Sergei Revin (RU).
For more information on this mission follow this link NASA Expedition 31
Dan Cook, a Psychological Support Coordinator with Wyle says "These are the types of things that help to keep the crew connected to home, which is a huge morale boost while being away for long periods of time." Entertainment offers important aspects of psychological support for astronauts on long-duration missions, such as those on the ISS.

My review of the film

I am glad I was alive when they final got an epic superhero movie franchise right. I am not a fan boy of the comics. I was aware of them but I never followed them. I can say that these movies have made me a fan. We have spent a long time waiting for this film and I was nervous they would follow the path of previous hero series.
I saw this movie twice on Saturday. I like to see movies twice, so once I can get lost in the story, and the second time I can really examine the film. Honestly, I would like to see it again because the second time I was just as involved with this story as the first viewing. Needless to say, I am giving this marvelous movie a green light.
I usually talk about the plot in high level but I am going to forgo that and say this movie is about 130 min of high action. I can't really talk about the plot without giving anything away so I will save most of the conversation for my spoiler section.
I will say that the Avengers are composed of Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). They are under the guidance of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). All of them did an outstanding job, I have absolutely no negative comments about the cast in any way, and they personified the characters in every aspect.
Hero films in the past have been victims of the studio machine. Once they have a story idea they mold and stretch it into something to fit everyone's palate, thereby ensuring that no one likes it. Perhaps they try to write the story to get as much as they can get out of the toys and games that go along with a big budget picture. These theories have failed in the past and I am glad to see that this is an example of a movie franchise that can keep the focus on the source material.

Balanced Humor and Action

I am also pleased with the fact they balanced its humor and action well. They had a great feel for smart and witty without going to lowbrow levels. In the past I think that people who make comic book films feel that it's going to pander to kids so they write for what they feel the 12 to 14 year old demographic will like. The writing in this film brings the humor level higher and is still understandable to that age range without talking down to them.
The second time around I did see some specific camera shots that seemed out of place for the pace of the surrounding scenes and there was a use of reflections in this film that was prevalent throughout the movie. I am really going to have to go again to catch more and to focus in on more of the setting than the action.
The big question is where do they go from here? How do they top this film? Joss Whedon is an exceptional storyteller and filmmaker. I know that he can do a long story arc well but even I don't see how they can continue at this level. I will enjoy watching him try.

Published in News Blaze