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Del Toro in talks to direct The Hobbit!
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
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!
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
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!
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
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.

Cloverfield confirmed with new trailer!
November 19, 2007, 11:37 am
Filed under: Trailers

Good ol’ Empire … seems the Brit entertainment mag got the exclusive on the brand spankin’ new 1-18-08 trailer, which screened before Beowulf this past weekend. The title is confirmed as Cloverfield and we get a peek at both the giant monster (we see … a tail, maybe? … slither through some skyscrapers) and a couple of smaller monsters. I am psyched!

So, check out the trailer pronto.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that what I at first believed to be creatures are actually the silhouettes of a couple of guy in HAZMAT suits restraining an “infected” woman. If you watch closely, you can see the the figure of the woman expand and nearly explode — ew …