The Last Exorcism, Takers and Avatar…AGAIN

In case you didn’t engorge yourself on Avatar last year, then apparently you’ll get a second chance at overindulgence starting this weekend when it opens in 700+ theatres. Avatar is getting a re-release based on the fact that there are nine extra minutes of Pandora footage that the audience just absolutely has to see. One can’t help but wonder why this extra footage wasn’t added to the DVD upon its release in April of this year. That seemed like a good enough time as any. No matter! I am sure it is totally worth forking over another $10.50 (assuming that it’s 2D) to watch the exact same movie over again.

Personally, you couldn’t pay me to sit through that overly long, poorly written, unoriginally concepted cartoon again. Granted the special effects are amazing and innovative and the first of its kind and yada, yada, yada, but what should we expect with the enormous budget that James Cameron had to work with? Give me $300 million bones and I will hire the best of the best and just make sure that they get it done. Cameron manages to take a recycled story of Pocahontas attached to some cutting-edge special effects and allows the world to believe that he did it all. I have to admit that I was pleased to see the look on his face in Kodak theatre when his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, (deservingly) won the Oscar instead of him. By the way, check out The Hurt Locker at a Redbox near you.

Didn’t Avatar make enough its first go-round? Domestically, it has made almost $750 million and just under $2 billion, globally. Just like the army from planet Earth that just had to get all the “Unobtanium” from the mines on Pandora, Cameron is making plenty sure to suck as much cash as possible out of his audiences. No doubt those die-hard fans are thrilled to see the film again in IMAX 3-D (the only format worth watching this film in) and those that didn’t get a chance to check it out the first time will make sure they experience it now. Be that as it may, I’m staying home.

Avatar is playing at Regal Green Hills 16 and Carmike Thoroughbred 20 starting April 27th.

The Last Exorcism opens this weekend and its pre-release buzz is quite positive, though that can change quickly. A Louisiana priest documents his last exorcism, but is faced with a far greater challenge than he anticipated. The Last Exorcism uses the same basic plot from its preceding exorcism-related movies and again, the victim of this possession is a teenage girl. We’ll see if the decent reviews can withstand opening weekend.

Takers is the latest heist/action flick locked and loaded with B-list actors and hip-hop artists. This movie spells disaster, but who am I to say how poorly it will perform at the box office when The Expendables made a surprising $34 million its opening weekend. Nevertheless, lightning never strikes twice in the same spot. But if you like explosions and guns and Paul Walker, this just might be the movie for you.

Both The Last Exorcism and Takers are playing in multiple theatres throughout the Nashville area.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World…Against All Odds

On paper, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World sounds like a bit of a stretch. A young man, determined to get with this one chick that he can’t stop thinking about, must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends before he can call her his own. It sounds a bit like Super Mario Bros. Does he already know he has to defeat 7 of these guys or will he find out after each one that “the princess is in another castle”? I have played similar storylines via the Playstation in a game called Mortal Combat. I have to ask myself, “Can they pull this off?” and also, “Do I even care?”. Can this Scott Pilgrim defeat all 7 of these villain ex’s? It seems that a more realistic outcome in such a gauntlet setup would have Scott win the first couple of fights and then be so worn out that he would get defeated by the 3rd or 4th ex-boyfriend. But who am I kidding? How dare I bring realism into the mix? Let’s face it, unless it’s Anime’, this film doesn’t sound promising. I understand that I am probably in the minority on this one, but forgive me if I don’t fall prey to the over-done Michael Cera underdog character embedded in the against all odds plotline of a film that attempts to wear some pretty big britches.

However, if there were any director out there that would be up to the daunting task of taking this outrageous storyline and making it work on film, it would be Edgar Wright, who just happens to be the very director charged with the daunting task of taking this outrageous storyline and making it work on film. Yeah, that just happened.

Edgar Wright is the same young Englishman who brought us the hilarious and refreshing zombie-spoof, Shaun of the Dead, starring Simon Pegg, where the zombies chase at a snail’s pace and the English humor resonates. Wright’s second feature was Hot Fuzz, also starring Pegg and also a “spoof-like” film. This time, Wright pays comedic homage to those quick-edit/action/mystery/cop thrillers. Naturally, the film that is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World should be put into the hands of the director that hit two grand slams his first two times to the plate; a director that can handle comedy and that has the chops to make a technically legitimate film at the same time. Also, I shouldn’t fail to mention the fact that Edgar Wright directed the entire series of Spaced, a British comedy sitcom that was criminally under-made (only 14 episodes) and remains vastly under-rated.

Now, regarding my Michael Cera comment above that no doubt left you with your jaw on the ground. Michael Cera continues to play the same character in every movie he does. The woe-begotten, under-dog, nervous, yet loveable, anti-social teenager who must somehow prove himself to someone is getting old with me. He’s a funny guy and great at what he does, but he will type-cast himself if this rut continues. I, for one, am not big on watching the same actor play the same roles film after film. I appreciate those more diverse actors that play a wider range of roles. On the other hand, judging from the storyline and the director behind the film, Michael Cera could very well be the perfect choice for this film. Plus, what do I care if he is type-cast before he turns 25? As long as he puts out a handful of great films on the way, it’s fine with me. As a matter of fact, the mere existence of Arrested Development makes it all worth it.

We shall find out today, August 13th, when the film gets a wide release, whether or not Edgar Wright successfully pulled this off. I have confidence in him, yet I remain skeptical.

Eat "Pay" Love

Eat Pray Love, at first glance looks like it could be a winner. That is because when you see the previews, you see a combination of leading lady Julia Roberts (no complaints here) and the slick cinematography of Robert Richardson (Inglorious Basterds, Platoon, JFK, Kill Bill, etc). It doesn’t hurt that the composer is none other than the extremely talentedDario Marianelli (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice). Pretty music, pretty photography, pretty lady eating yummy-looking food in exotic locations and very little dialogue make for a pretty disguise.

If that sparked your interest, which more than likely it did, then the list of cast members: James Franco,Javier Bardem, Viola Davis & Richard Jenkins, only strengthened your anticipation of the film. A stellar cast such as this only comes around a few times a year. Upon further inquiry, you might have learned that the film is directed by Ryan Murphy, the same fellow who brings us Glee. Unless this is a Mama Mia!remake, what could possibly go wrong?

Not only that, but you’ve probably noticed EPL posters up, the original book written by Elizabeth Gilbertleaning nicely atop stacks of itself on the front tables at Borders or Julia Roberts on Oprah, Regis & Kellyor Letterman, etc. All of this evidence, when taken at face value, seems like an open and shut case. “I will go see this film!”, you say. While you may have every right to do so, please allow me to present a counter-argument.

Eat Pray Love has not been screened by critics. This is not a good sign since it will be released this Friday, August 13. When I say, “not a good sign”, I mean that, more than likely, the movie will not be good. Many films that are not screened for criticsdo not do so in order to prevent negative reviews published before people actually see it. They want your money before you realize that it’s no good. The studios realize that despite the all-star cast and crew, the source material just won’t cut it, which brings me to my next point…the extent to which the film is being marketed.

No one can blame producers for getting Oprah on board, but the product placement such as: jewelry,clothing lines,handbags, teabags, travel packages and other unnecessary merchandise seem to be overcompensating for a potentially mediocre film…a film whose core message is about doffing material possessions and setting off on a journey in search of self and enlightenment. It seems that the film’s campaign attempts to exploit the desperation of many middle-aged, divorced women with disposable income who, upon after watching this film, will realize that they need to find themselves…and the first place they will look…HSN’s Eat Pray Love segment. This isn’t Star Wars. It would be one thing of the film’s target audience were children 10 and under, but this film reaches out to women.

Suffice it to say that EPL will not make its money at the box office, but at department stores.

Craig’s Examiner Article