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Del Toro in talks to direct The Hobbit! by Matt Click
January 28, 2008, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

Well, it’s been a tough week for the entertainment industry, particularly with the heavy blow of losing young actor Heath Ledger. But here’s some absolutely fantastic news to cheer you up, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes:

After the past few weeks’ spate of bad news (and weather), have we got some silver lining for you: our preciousss is in motion to return to the big screen. Now that Peter Jackson has kissed and made up with the studios, New Line and MGM are in talks with Guillermo del Toro to direct two, simultaneously shot installments of The Hobbit!

A quick recap for those just joining us: Jackson was originally interested in adapting The Hobbit, but a very loud, very public squabble over profits between Jackson and New Line Studios for the Lord of the Rings trilogy put the kibosh on that project. The two parties reconciled their differences last December and Jackson, busy with The Lovely Bones and Tintin, joined The Hobbit as executive producer with creative control.

And now del Toro is in talks to direct the back-to-back Hobbit movies, each budgeted at $150 million (substantially higher than any of the Lord of the Rings movies). Filming will begin in 2009, with release dates currently set for 2010 and 2011. Currently, del Toro is putting the final touches on Hellboy II: The Golden Army. He was previously announced to begin work on 3993, a dramatic horror movie written by The Orphanage scribe Sergio G. Sanchez, and it’s unknown how The Hobbit will affect that movie’s production.

Huzzah! This is the best news I’ve heard in a long, long while. Del Toro is one of my favorite working directors. He’s fantastic for this.

Also, just a quick note to Here’s Looking at Film readers: I am now posting again at my old blog, Rocket Number 09. However, you will still find me posting reviews and entertainment news here at Here’s Looking at Film. But if you enjoy my writing here, I recommend checking out my other blog. Thanks readers!


Cloverfield lives up to hype, expectations by Matt Click
January 27, 2008, 3:27 am
Filed under: Film Reviews
**** out of *****
If Godzilla finally mustered the courage to ask The Blair Witch Project out for a few drinks and the two shared one glorious night of passion, the resulting cinematic child would be something called Cloverfield.Cloverfield, which is produced by television bigshot J.J. Abrams and directed by relative newcomer Matt Reeves, is a monster flick filmed entirely on handheld camcorder. It’s a film that, quite literally, drops the audience into chaos as a gargantuan monster attacks New York. We are the embedded witnesses as Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and friends trek through the ruins in search of his damsel in distress, Beth (Odette Yustman).
But the plot really isn’t what’s important in Cloverfield. The imperative thing to remember is that there is a giant freaking creature with four arms, tentacles and a mean case of fleas reaking absolute havoc on the city and knocking tank shells aside like they were gnats. After waiting months to catch a glimpse of the thing, the monster both completely surprised and satisfied me. It’s a completely original creation, strange, frightening and colossal.
The handheld camerawork (which has, apparently, caused extreme cases of nausea) is nothing new, of course — but it’s innovative here in that something as epic and grand as a skyscraper-toppling creature can be brought down to the human level and truly involve the audience. In the special effects department, Cloverfield doesn’t disappoint. There are some truly breathtaking shots in this film involving both the monster and the ensuing destruction.
If I were to criticize anything about the film, it would be the absence of anything fresh in the story or dialogue department. In this respect, Cloverfield falls just short of what 2007’s The Host managed. As unique a film as Cloverfield is, it’s still lacking in truly gripping characters and plot. But, as stated earlier, those things really take a backseat to the fact that there’s a huge monster having its way with the military.
After months of hype and speculation, Cloverfield manages to live up to its end of the bargain and fulfills the promise it made last July — to be a truly kickass American monster flick. This is a volatile, intense film experience that I highly recommend. Make sure you catch it on the biggest screen you can manage.

Hellboy II: the gang’s all here! by Matt Click
December 21, 2007, 3:17 am
Filed under: Trailers

Those who know me will attest to my love of all things Hellboy. As an avid fan of the comics — the artwork, the mythos, the Cthulhu-esque monsters, the characters — I’m eagerly anticipating Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Guillermo Del Toro of Pan’s Labyrinth fame did an excellent job with the first Hellboy film, and this second one looks like a rip-roarin’ good time. Plenty of monsters, a cool-looking baddy and — what’s this? — a BIGGER gun for Hellboy? Count me in!

Check out the trailer here.

I Am Legend brings Matheson’s novella to the big screen … finally by Matt Click
December 21, 2007, 3:06 am
Filed under: Film Reviews

Film Review
I Am Legend
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Will Smith
Rated R, 101 mins

**** / *****

There has yet to be a perfectly faithful adaption of Richard Metheson’s I Am Legend, a novella I rank without hesitation in my top five books of all time. It is a brilliant character study of one man alone in a world gone mad — where creatures hunt the night and loneliness haunts the days. And even if it isn’t completely loyal to the source material, director Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend is about as close as we’re going to get. And it’s a pretty damn good movie to boot.

Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a military scientist and the last man on Earth (or so he thinks). In 2009, a virus intended to cure cancer goes airborne and mutates a percentile population into ravenous creatures known as Dark Seekers. Neville, one of the few humans immune to the virus, spends his days alone, gathering food, hunting and holding conversations with mannequins he’s staged in a video rental store. At night, Neville barricades himself in his home and tries to sleep through the inhuman howls of the Dark Seekers roaming the streets outside. Neville is mankind’s last hope — and he only preservers to find a cure.

Smith commands the role of Neville with a subtle honesty — this is certainly one of his strongest performances to date. Crafting such a vivid and entertaining film out of what is, essentially, an hour of Smith and a German Shepard roaming about a desolate New York City, is a challenge. But Smith and Lawrence are more than up for the challenge, and the result is a fantastic film, part action flick, part quiet character study.

The creatures in this film — the Dark Seekers who, for lack of a better word, are basically vampires — are truly frightening. The first glimpses we catch of these things, illuminated at the fading end of a flashlight, are some tense moments. The creature design is just excellent. These aren’t the mutants of The Omega Man. These are the vampires that Matheson envisioned for his novella — swift, cunning and ruthless.

Yes, the film takes a few hefty liberties (the ending, for starters, is drastically different). But the central story and themes are present. We feel Neville’s loneliness and desperation as he strives for what may seem like a futile goal. As I said … we have yet to see a truly perfect adaptation of the novella. But Lawrence and Smith have given it everything they’ve got, and the end product is great.

The Dark Knight trailer has arrived — Joker on deck! by Matt Click
December 17, 2007, 6:03 am
Filed under: Trailers

We’ve been waiting months. Hell, I’ve been waiting over a year now — ever since Heath Ledger was announced as Christopher Nolan’s pick for Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, in the summer of 2006. But now we’ve finally got it … a glimpse at Ledger’s darker, creepier Prince of Clowns. And it’s not an audio sample or a leaked promo shot. This is it. The real deal.

The first official trailer for The Dark Knight.

I’ve been watching it almost constantly since its debut late Sunday evening. If I had any qualms about Ledger’s Joker, they’re all but dashed now. He’s just fantastic in the role — creepy, commanding and sinister. This trailer just reeks of awesome, and it’s been a long while since I’ve been this pumped about a flick so far in advance. July 2008 had better get here soon. I’m not sure how much longer this film fan can wait.

In which Matt returns and gripes about televisions by Matt Click
December 13, 2007, 3:14 am
Filed under: Random Entries

Yep, I’m back. I could make a big long entry detailing the many, many excuses I’ve prepared, but I’ll stick with the most prominent: college. I think education is a pretty solid excuse to not update your blog, isn’t it? Lucky for me, Kolby had my back and dropped three reviews a few days ago. I think I like this tag-team blog gig. But enough of my yackin’ — let’s boogie!

Congratulations on the new television. Too bad you’re an idiot.

Alright. So flat-panel TVs are all the rage right now. And I’ll admit, they’re pretty slick. I mean, think about the 40″-60″ widescreen televisions we had six years ago. They look like the freaking monolith compared to these sleek and sexy hi-def wonders. And that’s the thing too: they’re lighter, slimmer and the picture quality is absolutely fantastic. No gripes here. But here’s the inevitable downside to technology: the consumer is going to find a way, somehow, to screw it up.

Enter, stage right, the wall-mounted flat-panel television. Because people thought it would be cool to stick a TV on the wall — simply because it’s light and slim enough to — houses across America now have plasma TVs hanging above their fireplaces. There are two things wrong with this: 1) It looks stupid and 2) It is, inherently, stupid. Why, you ask, would mounting a TV on the wall be a bad idea?

Because the average family room is less than 15 feet from one side to the other, that’s why. And mounting a flat-panel on the wall is like sitting in the front row of the movie theater. Most experts agree that the eyes should be level with the top of the TV screen to ensure minimal neck, back and eye strain. But if you nail your TV to the wall, where does your gaze fall? About five feet short, partner.

I understand the appeal. It saves space. It makes the room look bigger. Some people think it looks cool. But the hard facts are these: mounting a TV on the wall is bad for the eyes, neck and back. And, as I mentioned, it looks stupid to have a flat-panel mounted above your fireplace. And don’t ask me why, it just does and you know it. And I for one don’t want to sit through any film with my neck bent at an 120 degree angle.

Hopefully this is a passing fad and people will return their TVs to the entertainment centers where they belong.

Three is a magic number by phoqueoff
December 8, 2007, 7:11 am
Filed under: Film Reviews

Hey everyone! I’ve just finished writing a trio of movie reviews. There are a couple more on the way, but it’s finals week here, so I don’t have a whole lot of extra time. Anyways, enjoy these ones!


Film Review:
Cassandra’s Dream
Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell
Rated PG-13, 108 mins

** ½ out of *****

The newest Woody Allen venture is a slightly mixed bag. The story of two English brothers, giddy after the purchase of a gently used sailboat, the titular Cassandra’s Dream, Allen’s latest, despite a talented cast, falls short. Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell are Ian and Terry respectively, an ambitious would-be real estate mogul and uncharacteristically lucky gambler and mechanic. When a high-stakes poker game goes awry, both brothers are forced to call upon rich Uncle Howard, Tom Wilkinson, for help. Unfortunately for them, Uncle Howard demands a price that neither of them may be prepared to pay.

On the plus side, both leads are not only convincing, but sympathetic, Farrell particularly so as a man torn apart by his sins. The triangular power struggle between both youths and their distant, yet ever-present uncle provides tension, but like the rest of the movie, it fails to satisfy. Unfortunately, the film, as a whole, ultimately goes nowhere. The ending and climax are both abrupt and do not pay off. Half of its characters are simply forgotten, while the two leads are rather hastily dealt with. In the end, Cassandra’s Dream’s comments on greed and ambition are too frivolous to carry any real weight; the film succeeds only in leaving the audience feeling cheated of dénouement.

Paranoid Park
Directed by Gus van Sant
Starring Gabe Nevins, Lauren McKinney
NR, 85 mins

**** out of *****

Another new offering from an established filmmaker, Gus van Sant this time, left me feeling more satisfied. An exploration of underground skate culture in Portland, Oregon, Paranoid Park is a confessional written by Alex, a high school student on the fringe of the dissident skating scene, daydreaming to one day play a real role therein. After a night at Eastside Skate Park, dubbed “Paranoid Park” by the runaway punks who reign supreme within the confines of its concrete basins, Alex takes part in the unintentional murder of a train station guard. The film is a recount of the subsequent events, told in Alex’s own words, awkward stumbling over words and all. What truly succeeds here is the spot-on portrayal of adolescence and the desire to be a part of that subversive scene on the edge of which every teenager finds themselves at one point of another. Lauren McKinney adds a touch of tenderness and intelligence as Macy, a friend of Alex. And yes, she does have acne. It’s about time that we see a zit on screen that is not part of a joke. Van Sant’s soundtrack, an eclectic mix of cool, classic jazz, punk anthems, and even nature sounds, despite its radical variety, somehow works as a whole; it underscores perfectly both Alex’s skater daydreams and his disorientation after seeing a man killed.

In addition to adolescence on a grand scale, Paranoid Park provides its viewer with a glimpse into the life of Portland youth. Those familiar with the Pacific Northwest will recall that Portland has one of the highest percentages of homeless teens in the nation, a population whose constituents were responsible for the creation of the titular skate park. Although, it is worth mentioning that the “Paranoid Park” shown in van Sant’s movie is located in a different area of town than the actual Paranoid Park.

Like Gus van Sant’s other films, Paranoid Park can be a bit lacking in the substance department. The long walking shots of brooding teenagers can border on superfluous, but the film works in the end. I found its quiet dreaminess to be an extension of Alex’s state of mind. Paranoid Park is more than just stylish pretension; its slow pacing may not appeal to everyone, but its depiction of adolescent dislocation rings true.

This is England
Directed by Shane Meadows
Starring Thomas Turgoose, Vicky McClure
NR, 101 mins

***** out of *****

My favorite of the three, This is England is a hilarious, heartfelt, and later, scary and tragic piece of cinema. From its euphoric beginning to its sobering conclusion, This is England takes hold of you through its surprisingly talented young star, Thomas Turgoose. Turgoose as Shaun exhibits a natural gift for comic timing as a young misfit who falls in with a crowd of punks in 1980s England. Margaret Thatcher’s politics and the events of the British/Argentine war loom in the background and underscore the darker elements of Shaun’ story, specifically racism. The juxtaposition of the happy-go-lucky, Doc Martin-buying days of Shaun and his new band of friends with Shaun’s initiation into a neo-Nazi-like group of racists hits hard in the minds of the audience. Turgoose is backed by a charming and eclectic cast, including the beautiful Vicky McClure as Lol, and the sheer oddity that is Rosamund Hanson as Smell. Strangely endearing, Hanson as Smell is one of the film’s most hilarious aspects. What made This is England even funnier was seeing it in Rennes and witnessing attempts by the French to translate such phrases as “Maggie is a twat,” into their native language. It’s no surprise that this film has been hailed as the best British film of 2007, as it is, without a doubt, one of the best of any nation this year.