November 26, 2010

The Motion Picture Divide

Robert Margolis in The Definition of Insanity
The worlds of high budget 3D films, and low budget independent films have never been so separate, like the national divide between the rich and poor. Ten years ago I would have said that this would not happen. The birth of digital video, desktop editing with effects and digital animation tools made me think that the future of motion pictures would have no financial barriers of entry, only creative ones. Near the beginning of all of this I was a producer of The Definition of Insanity, a digital movie that blurred the lines of documentary and feature, something which has become common. That was 2004, and my thinking was that as cameras improved there wouldn’t just be intimate cinema verite style features made for less than $100,000, but also epic films for the same small budget. This doesn’t seem to be the case, and I am not sure why.

Tuesday night I went with a friend to see a Ted Hope sponsored indie film called You Won't Miss Me. It was very much in the vain of Definition of Insanity, and I respected it. The star and co-writer Stella Schanbel so much blurred the lines of improvisation and performance that it put me in a state of empathetic anxiety. This film was not polished, but it was moving in a way that pulled me into the drama of a young New York artistic society. This still left me with the same confusion over the state of independent film. After all, the same week as this premiere was also the release of the Microsoft Kinect. Again it is a consumer technology that wasn’t even fathomable a few years ago. Yet Avatar, with a $300 million budget, is so removed from any independent film in production value, that entrance into the mainstream seems as far away now as it did in 2004 when we made Definition of Insanity.

This may be the wrong way to look at it though. Maybe it is possible that the world needs these extremes, making it more of an access to distribution problem than a budget, or technology related issue. The TCM documentary Moguls, about the rise of Hollywood’s culture domination, reminded me of a fundamental difference between silent film and sound pictures. The silent films were not only visually stunning, but they involved a level of improvisation that wasn’t possible with sound stage schedules and crew sizes. The genius of Lloyd, Keaton and Chaplin wasn’t just in comedy and acting in a structured sense, but in an intuitional impromptu sense. The move to sound films wasn’t a problem for these actors because they had to speak, but because they had new confines of schedule and movement. Chaplin was the only one of these three to be at all successful in still making films that were mostly silent, like City Lights, and the main reason is that he had the power to control distribution. City Lights is not so different from other Chaplin films, it is just right in the middle of the talky age, making it a standout. It might be that the same thing that made it impossible for Buster Keaton to have films seen in the age of sound films, is the same reason that it is difficult for a film like Definition of Insanity, or You Won’t Miss Me to compete with Harry Potter or Avatar.



This article was guest written by Matthew Putman, a physicist, composer, entrepreneur and occasional film and theater producer. More on Matthew at www.matthewcputman.com.


November 24, 2010

MRQE's 10 Best of 2010: The Top Ten 3-D Movies

We here at MRQE would be seriously remiss not to acknowledge the 3-D craze. Love it or hate it, the 3-D craze made a huge impact on the face of this year's film, and more and more examples are sure to follow in 2011. What follows are the ten best 3-D films of the year. And before you start assuming what sort of movie will be on the list, more than a few of these are certainly not for children.



10. Pirahna 3-D
MRQE Metric: 60
This one's not for the kiddies, folks. Gorehound director Alexandre Aja makes his 3-D debut with this bloody remake of the 1970's Jaws ripoff. The resulting comedy-horror is awash in both blood and babes: updating the plot means that the movie is mostly populated by Jerry O'Connell (as a faux Girls Gone Wild mogul) and his posse of buxom beauties. Nearly everyone onscreen meets an outrageous watery demise, of course, and the resulting carnage is more than a little nauseating. This one didn't exactly kill at the box office, but a sequel is planned all the same with the eyeroll-worthy title of Pirahna 3DD.




9. Alice in Wonderland
MRQE Metric: 60
Tim Burton turns his trademark warped whimsy to the classic Carroll tale. Set some time after the events of the books, the film deviates wildly from what audiences expect from their Wonderland adventures, due to Burton disliking the original plot and wanting to make his own. Well, okay then. The casting, while sometimes inspired, isn't particularly surprising (Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp, check). The CGI effects often turn out strange instead of fantastic: Carter's Red Queen in particular, decked out with a cartoonishly huge forehead, looks pretty creepy.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


8. Jackass 3-D
MRQE Metric: 61
Have a yearning to watch grown men completely and messily humiliate themselves on the big screen, in 3-D? You're in luck. The MTV extreme prank series pulled out all the stops for its third cinematic outing, making sure that absolutely everyone sitting in the theater felt like vomiting at least once while watching the revolting proceedings. If you missed this, um, special experience while it was in the theaters, you're in luck, as the DVD release will include Jackass 3.5, a feature-length outtake reel of stunts that didn't make it into the movie release.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


What a long strange trip it's been for director Zack Snyder. Best known for his comic book adaptations like 300 and Watchmen, 2010 saw him showing audiences a markedly softer side to his work. Based on a children's book series, Legend of the Guardians follows a ragtag band of barn owls as they struggle to protect their paradise against an owl army. Okay, so it's not the most groundbreaking plot in the world, but the movie was singled out for its particularly beautiful animation. No Uncanny Valley for these fine feathered friends; the film is a joy to look at even if the script isn't that sophisticated.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


6. Shrek Forever After
MRQE Metric: 64
Because another Shrek film is exactly what the world needed. This time, Shrek is cast into a strange alternate version of his storyland home, and must team up with his supporting cast (who don't recognize him thanks to the spell) in order to restore the status quo. If you've seen one Shrek film, you've seen them all, and Shrek Forever After was no different. Fart jokes, tired pop culture gags from three years ago, cheesy pop songs--this one has it all. Whether you want it at all is something else entirely.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


5. Megamind
MRQE Metric: 67
With the voice acting of Will Ferrell, Tiny Fey, and Brad Pitt, Megamind brings its A-game to this superhero comedy. The titular archvillain, distinguishable by his giant blue head (the better to store his genius brains in, my dear), manages to defeat the Superman-like hero Metro Man early in the movie. Instead of wallowing in his victory, Megamind instead starts finds himself in an existential funk–what else is there for him to do, after all, now that he's taken out the world's greatest hero? A plan to create a better hero to fight and a surprise romance with Metro Man's girlfriend prove to be enough complications for one film.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


4. Despicable Me
MRQE Metric: 70
The second film on the list with a supervillain as protagonist, Despicable Me came out first and foremost. Steve Carell plays Gru, an ogre-like fiend who longs to steal the moon. A wrench is thrown in his plans, however, in the form of three little orphan girls who follow him home. Gru at first tries to abandon them at every opportunity, but soon they begin to form a strange little family. This is definitely the sweeter movie of the two, though Despicable Me doesn't skimp on silly shenanigans, either.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


3. IMAX: Hubble 3-D
MRQE Metric: 75
Never heard of this one? You're not alone. This was a special release only for participating IMAX theaters and museums. This eye-popping documentary gives audiences a front row look at the wonders of space, delivered through the eyes of several special IMAX cameras that were brought up on space shuttle missions. While this description makes Hubble 3-D sound like one big NASA commercial, there's nothing more fantastic than the truth in this showcase of the cosmos. All the special effects in this baby are one hundred percent real: talk about a big bang for your buck.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


2. How to Train Your Dragon
MRQE Metric: 80
My personal favorite on the list, How to Train Your Dragon is ridiculously cute and smart to boot. An island filled with Viking warriors has been in conflict with treacherous dragons for generations, to the point where even the Viking children are drafted at a young age to fight the menace. When Hiccup, an incompetent pacifist Viking, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Toothless, an injured dragon, neither communities will ever be the same. Sure, the story isn't wholly original, but the movie is delivered with enthusiasm and sophistication. The result is something fun, original, and often breathtaking–the nighttime dragon flights are the sort of thing that modern day 3-D was made for.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


1. Toy Story 3
MRQE Metric: 90
The undisputed champion of both the box office and the critics, Toy Story 3 is one of the films of the year, 3-D or not. The 3-D is never used to the detriment of the characters or the story, and story is king in this sharp and sentimental goodbye to the playroom gang. I grew up with the Toy Story movies, and this was the best (and most emotional) sendoff to the series I could have hoped for. And while I'm not going to say that you're heartless if you didn't like this movie . . . you're heartless if you didn't like this movie.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com



Want more 3-D wonder? Check out our pre-2010 list of the best movies released in 3-D!

Check back here each week till New Year's, as we continue to countdown the best that 2010 had to offer.


November 23, 2010

WTF of the Week: From Swans to Claws

Director Darren Aronofsky is known for arty and critically acclaimed fare such as Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, and the upcoming and much anticipated Black Swan. So, it's not surprising that Fox Entertainment would want to bring Aronofsky in under their wing for a two-year production contract. He has a pretty good track record come awards season, so it makes sense that Fox would want yet another chance to grab some Oscar glory.

The WTF in this bit of news, then, has to do with the kind of project Fox is attaching Aronofsky to, now that he's in their corner. One would expect something in a similar vein to his previous projects: cerebral and highly stylized psychological profiles. Fox has something a little . . . different in mind. 

Looks like the first film he'll be helming for them is the follow-up to the mediocre spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The choice of a sequel to the Hugh Jackman film isn't a surprise: comic book movies are still making bank, and the first Wolverine film was moderately profitable. What remains to be seen is whether Aronofsky's particular style will successfully translate to a franchise primarily meant to sell action figures. This isn't the first time a studio's brought in an arthouse director in order to class up their comic book movie (Kenneth Branagh making a Thor movie? I am so there). It's just one of the strangest examples to date.

Source: Deadline

November 22, 2010

Box Office Wrap-Up: We're Still Wild About Harry (Not So Wild About Everything Else)

It's the beginning of the end for Potter & Co.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the huge winner this weekend was the first part of the epic finale to the long-running Harry Potter film series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I raked in $130 million this weekend, the highest grossing opening for the film series yet. Harry didn't even have to go 3-D in order to get there, too; while some of the revenue was from IMAX screenings, that was as fancy as it got. 

Deathly Hallows is practically the only big ticket non-3-D film in a holiday season where everything from TRON: Legacy to Yogi Bear is getting the 3-D treatment. Not that Potter's success is surprising. Warner Brothers could release the film in Pig Latin, and with the characters portrayed by Popsicle sticks instead of actors, and still make a mint.

Reviews seem to be solidly positive from Potter fans and critics alike. Lisa Schwarzbaum, of Entertainment Weekly had nothing but high praise, calling Part I “the most cinematically rewarding chapter [of the series] yet.” Roger Ebert chimed in with his own accolades for the “handsome and sometimes harrowing film.” Ebert, like many others, cautioned viewers that coming into the movie cold without a decent grasp on all things Harry Potter would only lead to confusion: the days of Hogwarts 101 are most decidedly over. The choice to split the mammoth final book into two films has been largely hailed as an inspired choice: instead of the need to whisk the audience from spectacle to spectacle, the film gives characters and audience alike room to breathe.

The rest of the top ten was deprived of the cash that Deathly Hallows scared up; overall box office grosses for the weekend were down compared to earlier years. While Megamind slipped into the number two slot, for example, it only did so with $15 million to its name, a far cry from $130 million. The major counter-release of the weekend, The Next Three Days, settled for a disappointing fifth place and $6.8 million dollars. The dramatic thriller, featuring Russell Crowe as a mild-mannered man on a quest to prove his wife's innocence, was criticized as uninspired and unconvincing. Roger Ebert held some particular scorn for the project, calling The Next Three Days a waste of the top notch talent of Crowe, co-star Elizabeth Banks, and director Paul Haggis.

The remainder of the top ten holds little surprises: train-set thriller Unstoppable clocked in at third for the weekend, while Due Date held steady at fourth. Valerie Plame biopic Fair Game, currently playing in a limited release schedule, managed to surface at tenth place with $1.4 million. Most of the stragglers should expect to be knocked out of the running come Wednesday, when the big Thanksgiving releases like Burlesque and Disney's Tangled start landing.

Here's the full top ten:
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (MRQE Metric: 71) -  $130 million
  2. Megamind (MRQE Metric: 67) - $15.5 million
  3. Unstoppable (MRQE Metric: 69) - $13.5 million
  4. Due Date (MRQE Metric: 51) - $8.7 million
  5. The Next Three Days (MRQE Metric: 56) - $6.8 million
  6. Morning Glory (MRQE Metric: 63) - $5.3 million
  7. Skyline (MRQE Metric: 35) - $3.1 million
  8. Red (MRQE Metric: 65) - $2.3 million
  9. For Colored Girls (MRQE Metric: 54) - $2.2 million
  10. Fair Game (MRQE Metric: 69) - $1.4 million


How does the box office compare to MRQE reader's tastes? See what's currently trending on MRQE!

November 18, 2010

MRQE Rewind: The Magical Cinematic World of Harry Potter

I'll admit it: I am totally psyched for the new Harry Potter film. The extra long book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has produced an extra long movie, split into two parts in order to keep audiences from losing all sensation in their rears. The first half hits tomorrow, while we all have to wait until summer for the second part. In anticipation, let's take a look at the Potter films that have led us up to the end of the series: the good, the bad, and the Dobby.



The first film in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is all fluff and fancy. Directed with painstaking accuracy by Chris Columbus, Sorcerer's Stone was fantastic for the kiddies back when seeing Harry, Hagrid and Hogwarts in the flesh was still novel. The rewatch value, however, leaves much to be desired. The shots of tiny Daniel Radcliffe reacting with wide-eyed wonder to some new CGI-assisted delight are too numerous to count, and the whisking of the audience from spectacle to spectacle becomes tedious rather than magical. The special effects seem a bit shoddy to the modern audience, too; the big Quidditch scene looks mind-bogglingly amateur to today's jaded eye. For completists only, and certainly not good for the blood sugar.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


The darkest installment in the series to date, Half-Blood Prince presents a wizarding world under constant and insidious attack. Not even Hogwarts is safe from the enemy, and the film ends in tragedy and Harry's cliffhanger declaration to leave school forever in order to track down the Dark Lord. The direness of the plot is alleviated somewhat by the romantic comedy-esque bumblings of Ron and Hermione, but the comic relief doesn't always work. In the face of such a dangerous enemy, after all, isn't it all a bit frivolous to worry so much about who's taking you to the dance? The conflict of tone is what keeps it near the bottom of the list: you either love or hate this one, it seems like.


Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


I remember the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets primarily for bringing us Dobby the house elf, who is quite possibly the most aggravating character in the entire series. With his constant self-flagellation, his squawking voice, and his ubiquitous presence in the movie's press campaign, Dobby became a symbol for the Potter haters of all that was annoying about the franchise. The cooler parts of this installment, like Kenneth Branagh as a showboating guest teacher, are completely overshadowed by stupid Dobby. Which is a shame, since the second in the series is an improvement over the previous film. The plot is tighter than Sorcerer's Stone, Harry gets to fight a giant snake with a cool sword, and there's a sequence involving giant, feral spiders that still manages to give me the creeps.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


MRQE Metric: 74
As the Hogwarts gang is besieged, both by dark forces amassing outside and tyrannical teachers, Harry and his friends take matters into their own hands in an effort to thwart Voldemort and his goons. It's also highly watchable: instead of a blow-by-blow of every tiny incident, Phoenix streamlines the plot and presents the most important events while retaining the essence of the story. Much of this is due to director David Yates, who adds a quasi-realistic touch to the character interaction and emotional resonance. The film also benefits from some quality acting: Helena Bonham Carter engages in some prime scenery chewing in her first appearance of shrieking banshee Belletrix Lestrange, and Phoenix also saw the introduction of kooky fan favorite Luna Lovegood.

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com

MRQE Metric: 75
This fourth outing in the series is notable for its darker turn in comparison to the first three. The first major death happens here (Cedric Diggory, played by a pre-vampire Robert Pattinson), and the last act is no longer tied up in a tidy bow. At the end of the film, Voldemort is reborn and loosed upon the world and Harry has essentially failed, which is pretty weighty stuff for a children's series. Since Goblet of Fire was the first of the series with a huge pagecount, this means there's nearly twice as much material to cover, and the running time (a hefty 150 minutes) certainly reflects this. The result is a sometimes muddled quality to the storyline, but a newly mature tone and a central cast growing into their talent overcomes the occasional awkwardness of the material.


Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com


MRQE Metric: 79
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my personal favorite of the series, and I suspect that I'm not alone in this. After the muddling direction of the previous two films, Azkaban showed us what the Potter franchise could be in its depiction of a world filled equally with wonders and perils. Arthouse favorite Alfonso Cuaron lends the goings-on a lush, unique touch. For the first time, Harry, Ron and Hermione begin to come into their own, and Cuaron's well-measures pace gives the trio room to breathe. Gary Oldman as fugitive Sirius Black sets the bar for future guest stars; his performance is stark, intense, and oddly touching. This one's a favorite of both the critics and the fans for a reason.


Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at MOVIECLIPS.com



Have more fun with wizards and mythical creatures as you peruse MRQE's 20 Best Movies Based on Myths, Legends, and Folklore.


November 17, 2010

Trailer Watch: Cowboys & Aliens, Cars 2, Battle: Los Angeles, Winnie the Pooh, The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste)

Daniel Craig in Cowboys & Aliens.
What a week for trailers! Today we got our first peak at Jon Favreau's comic book adaptation, Cowboys & Aliens. Pixar released their official trailer for Cars 2, with the cars going spy. And, Columbia Pictures gave us our first look at Battle: Los Angeles. Disney's Winnie the Pooh is also causing quite a buzz. Plus Oscar talk is abound with the French hand-drawn 'toon, The Illusionist. Read more about the films and watch the trailers below.



Cowboys & Aliens
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Release Date: July 29, 2011

Jon Favreau certainly knows a thing or two about comic book adaptations, and his directorial follow up from the Iron Man franchise is this sci-fi westerner based on a 2006 graphic novel. If you ever wondered how those old John Wayne movies might look with a sci-fi touch, then this is the movie for you. Dark and mysterious are the mark here, as a stranger with no memory walks into a town that hates strangers. Those Colt .45s certainly are no match for what's to come. Hopefully this is the movie that turns around Harrison Ford's career.




Cars 2
Director: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Cast: Owen Wilson, John Ratzenberger, Bonnie Hunt, Larry The Cable Guy
Release Date: June 24, 2011

Of course, with the release of any Pixar movie the question always comes back to, "will this be Pixar's first dud?" Considering the studio's track record with sequels, this will likely score high at the box office; that said, the first Cars, didn't fare well with critics amongst their other films. So, Cars 2 can really go either way. Looking at the trailer, Pixar does present a fun ride. This time Lighting McQueen goes on a world tour, but then gets wrapped up in an espionage thriller. It is great to see more of this universe filled with anthropomorphic modes of transportation. But, will Pixar answer the ultimate question of who or what builds/creates these machines, or if they mate (they do feel love, after all)? Probably not.




Battle: Los Angeles
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez
Release Date: March 11, 2011

It's the movie we all wanted Skyline to be. And from the looks of the gritty trailer, Battle: Los Angeles, just might be the lovechild of District 9 and Independence Day. Where as Skyline went all Cloverfield by telling the story of an alien invasion through the eyes of eye witnesses (read: love story), Battle: Los Angeles wants to take it to the more gritty level. After all, with alien invasion movies, all we want to see are armed forced battling the invaders. Here we got the Marines, and leading the pack is Aaron Eckhart as the Marine Staff Sergeant. Beginning with a slideshow of UFO sightings from around the world, the trailer takes us into what this all leads to. And, in case you're wondering, the song featured in the trailer is "The Sun's Gone Dim and The Sky's Turned Black" by Johann Johannsson.




Winnie the Pooh
Director: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall
Cast: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson and Tom Kenny
Release Date: July 15, 2011

According to IMDb's "Fun Facts," this is Disney's fourth sequel to a film from the Disney Animated Classics that was produced in-house. The wonderful hand-drawn adventure is coming this summer, and everything that made Winnie the Pooh so magical can be seen in the trailer. For Gen-Xers and Echo-Boomers who grew up with the 1977 classic, this will be one tale that you will enjoy just as much as your kids.




The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste)
Director: Sylvain Chomet
Cast: Jean-Claude Donda, Edith Rankin
Release Date (U.S.): December 25, 2010 (limited)

Not to be confused with Neil Burger's 2006 movie of the same name, this French animated film is pegged to be one of the nominees for this year's Best Animated Feature Oscar. However, it's unlikely this film will get that nod in light of some other 3D movies. Jacques Tati's 1956 screenplay was turned into this magical and wonderfully animated film. The Illusionist has been garnering much critical praise from its festival run and international release. With its State-side release this Christmas, it's likely to become one of the top rated films of the year.





Check out the trailers to recent upcoming movies on MRQE!


November 16, 2010

New on DVD and Blu-ray: The Kids Are All Right, Avatar Collector's Edition, Modern Times, The Complete Metropolis

This week on DVD & Blu-ray, check out the quirky family comedy The Kids Are Alright, travel to Pandora (again) with the Avatar Collector's Edition, or indulge your love for the classics with fabulous re-releases of Modern Times and The Complete Metropolis.



MRQE Pick of the Week: The Kids Are All Right
MRQE Metric: 79
The Kids Are All Right [Blu-ray]This lighthearted but topical dramatic comedy has been one of the better-reviewed films of the year, and is expected to make big waves again come awards season. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play a middle-aged hippie couple rearing two teenagers in California. When their children become curious about the identity of their anonymous sperm donor, they set out to track him down. What they find is Mark Ruffalo as Paul, a scruffy and charming vagabond who immediately enchants them. A spur of the moment dinner invitation is made, and soon Paul is squirming his way into the lives of the family, sparking mixed feelings, discomfort, and serious soul searching on the part of Bening and Moore. What results is a unique approach to the tried and true familial dysfunction film. Check this one out for the fabulous performances: anything Julianne Moore is in tends to be fabulous.

 WatchIt!
The Kids Are All Right
The Kids Are All Right [Blu-ray]
The Kids Are All Right [Amazon On Demand]
The Kids Are All Right


MRQE Metric: 77
Avatar (Three-Disc Extended Collector's Edition + BD-Live) [Blu-ray]There's already been a huge release of James Cameron's blockbuster on DVD and Blu-ray, but you can't blame him for going to the well again in the hope of more consumer dollars. This time out, it's the Three-Disc Extended Collector's Edition (try saying that five times fast). This features a whopping three separate cuts of the movie, including an even longer version “never shown in theaters,” forty-five minutes of deleted scenes, and a feature-length documentary. My personal favorite goodie is the “family audio track with objectionable language removed.” Nearly-naked blue aliens are still family-friendly as long as they don't curse, I guess.

WatchIt!
Avatar (Three-Disc Extended Collector's Edition + BD-Live) [Blu-ray] 
Avatar (Three-Disc Extended Collector's Edition)
Avatar [Amazon On Demand]


MRQE Pick: Modern Times
MRQE Metric: 98
Modern Times: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray]The highest rated movie on MRQE, Charlie Chaplin's classic farce about the rat race, is coming out in a gorgeous Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-Ray, featuring a brand new high definition transfer. Chaplin is at his slapstick best here, wrestling with oversized machines in an almost graceful ballet. The social commentary comes as fast and furious as the gags do; this is a classic for a reason. Since it's a Criterion Collection release, you know that the extras will be equal parts informative and entertaining: as well as an audio commentary by Chaplin expert David Robinson, there's also a handful of rarely-seen Chaplin shorts (among many, many other features). It's a perfect gift for the film buff in your life (or for yourself).

WatchIt!
Modern Times (Criterion Collection) 
Modern Times: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] 


MRQE Metric: 93
The Complete Metropolis [Blu-ray]For decades, Fritz Lang's Art Deco classic has only been available in a somewhat truncated form, due to much of the footage supposedly being lost. An amazing find a couple of years ago and a painstaking restoration led to this: the most complete version of Metropolis any of us under eighty years old have ever seen. This is Metropolis as it was meant to be seen, folks. Now you can see what all the fuss was about. The quality difference for the recently found footage is discernible, but it's come a long way and doesn't ruin the viewing experience.


WatchIt!
The Complete Metropolis 
The Complete Metropolis [Blu-ray]
Metropolis [Amazon On Demand] 




Check out all the latest movies just released on DVD and Blu-ray on MRQE!






November 15, 2010

Box Office Wrap-Up: Megamind still makes mega-money, other premieres fall short of success

Megamind derailed Unstoppable in
this weekends' box office
Courtesy: DreamWorks
Family crowd-pleaser Megamind manages to keep the top spot for a second time in a row at the box office, raking in an additional $30 million this weekend. That makes a total of nearly $90 million for DreamWorks' superhero comedy, giving Hollywood yet another 3-D success story. DreamWorks is plenty pleased about audiences' appetite for CGI adventures, but they should enjoy it while they can: the unstoppable juggernaut that is the Harry Potter franchise is expected to hit hard come the Thanksgiving holiday.

Out of this week's new releases, Unstoppable with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine was the most successful, gaining a second place premiere slot and a $23.5 million opening. The “Speed-on-a-train” action thriller doesn't break any new ground, but critics largely (if somewhat begrudgingly) gave the film a pass for being an entertaining watch. Keith Staskiewicz over at Entertainment Weekly gave Unstoppable a thumbs-up for its lack of pretension, calling the high-speed premise “refreshingly bare." Audiences seemingly agreed with him. Sometimes, after all, all you want is to be entertained for a few hours without having to think about it that much.

Not faring as well were the other two high profile premieres that opened this weekend. The alien invasion epic Skyline got some decent buzz around ComicCon time, but even science-fiction fans seemed pretty unimpressed by the final product. Bogged down by an awkward script and a no-name cast (the most recognizable actor is Scrubs' Donald Faison), Skyline's impressive visual bombardment of alien destruction couldn't overcome its wafer thin plot. Variety's Joe Leydon sneers that Skyline has nothing to offer but “a Kmart mash-up of Transformers and Independence Day." Ouch. The film made a meager $11.7 million, but it was made for a remarkably small budget for its kind--a cool $10 million--so technically it's reaping a profit.

Even unluckier was the Rachel McAdams romantic comedy Morning Glory. An impressive cast (besides McAdams, there's Diane Keaton, Harrison Ford, Patrick Wilson!) and a breezy take on morning news shows couldn't draw enough attention this weekend. It premiered in an embarrassing fifth place, with $9.6 million to its name. I guess everyone saw this one back when it was called Broadcast News.

Rounding out the bottom half: Tyler Perry's unexpected adaptation of the play For Colored Girls makes its first appearance on the top ten this week. Known for his successful comedy films, Perry took a risk in tackling more serious fare here. The results are apparently pretty hit or miss, and For Colored Girls has been greeted with middling and unexcited reviews. Much of the criticism is aimed at Perry rather than the source material or the star-studded cast; Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum says almost apologetically that “the craft of filmmaking is not (Perry's) strong suit." Double ouch.

October's heavy hitters like Jackass 3-D and Paranormal Activity 2 managed to linger a little longer at the bottom of the list. They shouldn't expect to be there long, as the Thanksgiving slate of movies is just around the corner. Turkey, pumpkin pie, and Harry Potter, here we come...

Here's the full top ten:
  1. Megamind (MRQE Metric: 67) - $30 million
  2. Unstoppable (MRQE Metric: 71) - $23.5 million
  3. Due Date (MRQE Metric: 51) - $15.5 million
  4. Skyline (MRQE Metric: 35) - $11.7 million
  5. Morning Glory (MRQE Metric: 62) - $9.6 million
  6. For Colored Girls (MRQE Metric: 54) - $6.7 million
  7. Red (MRQE Metric: 65) - $5.1 million
  8. Paranormal Activity 2 (MRQE Metric: 59) - $3 million
  9. Saw 3D (MRQE Metric: 35) - $2.7 million
  10. Jackass 3-D (MRQE Metric: 61) - $2.3 million

How does the box office compare with viewer tastes? See what movies are currently trending on MRQE!


November 14, 2010

WTF of the Week: Playing Around With What?

Rihanna will make her big screen
debut in 2012's Battleship
In the category of “you can't make this stuff up, people”: as Hollywood continues to strip-mine established intellectual properties in the hopes of creating the next blockbuster franchise, the choice of source material is starting to get a little wacky.

The rights to several board games such as Battleship, Candy Land and Monopoly have recently been snatched up. Battleship is currently filming with stars Rihanna and Taylor Kitsch, and even the Ouija Board is being developed into a film. But the board game movie trend has definitely reached its strangest this week with the announcement that a Rubik's Cube movie is in the works.

At least most of the previous purchases have made some sort of sense: games like Candy Land have a mythology and plot behind them already, and even the Ouija Board can easily be made into your standard ghost flick. But Rubik's Cube? Might as well cook up Hopscotch: The Movie next.

Source: Empire Online

November 10, 2010

Trailer Watch: Kung Fu Panda 2, TRON: Legacy, Big Mommas, Just Go With It, Hall Pass

Courtesy: DreamWorks
This week's trailer watch takes a look at hot sequels, and new comedies. Catch the first glimpse of Kung Fu Panda 2. Check out Jeff Bridges, young and old, in the latest TRON: Legacy trailer. Martin Lawrence goes back in drag. Plus, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston just go with it, while the Farrelly Brothers need to see your hall pass.






Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom
Director: Jennifer Yuh
Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen

Attached to Megamind, in either 2D or 3D (depending on how you see the movie) is the teaser for DreamWorks' follow up to their hugely successful 2008 CGI adventure. Can you beat Po (Jack Black's character) in a staring contest? Take the challenge and watch!




TRON: Legacy
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde

The latest trailer for Disney's TRON: Legacy takes us deeper into the relationship between Kevin Flynn and his son Sam--played by Jeff Bridges and Garrett Hedlund (Eragon), respectively--and the catalyst for Sam's entrance into the world his dad built. It's worth a watch, especially to see Jeff Bridges look as he did circa 1982.




Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Director: John Whitesell
Cast: Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson

It's been four years since Martin Lawrence donned a fat suit and a floral dress, but he's back, and he's taking Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder) along in the third installment to the Big Momma franchise. Just as the title suggests, Jackson is playing Lawrence's stepson, as the two go undercover at an all-girls college.




Just Go With It
Director: Dennis Dugan
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker

Adam Sandler's last effort, Grown Ups, caused more groans than laughs in the theater, but his latest, Just Go With It, looks promising enough to remind us why we enjoyed his mid-90s romps. Sandler joins Jennifer Aniston in a quirky romantic comedy about a man who picks up women by pretending to be married, who then must then pretend he's going through a divorce in order to land the lady of his affection. While Nicole Kidman is also attached to the film, her scenes are absent from the teaser.




Hall Pass
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Cast: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer, Christina Applegate

Perhaps Owen Wilson should go back to crashing weddings. In this new comedy from the Farrelly Brothers, Wilson teams up with SNL's Jason Sudeikis as two married men whose wives give them one free week to have an affair. Of course, from the trailer it seems that there's a lesson to be learned at the end of the film. But, it's great to see more of Sudeikis, as he was the only thing that made The Bounty Hunter watchable.





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