Sci-Fi Thriller ‘All You Need is Kill’ Gets New Title

Tom Cruise is having a really bad day, again and again, in 'Edge of Tomorrow.'

Tom Cruise is having a really bad day, again and again, in ‘Edge of Tomorrow.’

Tom Cruise’s sci-fi thriller All You Need is Kill, due next summer, has received a much-needed name change.

The movie, now known as Edge of Tomorrow, finds Earth at war with an alien race called the Mimics. Cruise stars as unlucky soldier Bill Cage, who after being killed in battle with the invaders is caught in a time loop and must relive the same battle over and over. Becoming a smarter soldier with each battle, Cage takes the fight to the aliens with the help of veteran soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt).

Edge of Tomorrow is based on a graphic novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. The movie so far looks like a mash-up of Source Code and Halo, or a Groundhog Day with more exploding heads, neither of which are necessarily a bad thing.

Edge of Tomorrow will hit theaters in IMAX 3D on June 6 next year.

Source: Entertainment Weekly.

Image Courtesy: ScreenCrush.

‘True Blood’ Receives Season Seven Pick-Up

Alexander Skarsgård and Anna Paquin star in HBO's 'True Blood.'

Alexander Skarsgård and Anna Paquin star in ‘True Blood.’

HBO’s bloody vampire drama True Blood has received a seventh season order.

The show is currently airing a sixth season of ten episodes, with the seventh season expected next summer.

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo called True Blood a “signature show for HBO, and a true phenomenon with our viewers” in a statement. “Thanks to [showrunner] Brian Buckner and his talented team, the show continues to be a thrill ride like nothing else on TV,” he said.

Source: TV Line.

Photo Courtesy: Digital Spy.

Lucas Till Will Appear in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Lucas Till will appear in Bryan Singer's 'X-Men: Days of Future Past.'

Lucas Till will appear in Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’

In the latest casting news for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, a tweet from director Bryan Singer has revealed that Lucas Till will reprise his role as Alex Summers, aka Havok, a mutant with the ability to absorb and release energy.

The tweet read: “‘Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.’ -JFK”

The tweet included a picture of Till in military fatigues in what appears to be a military base.

The upcoming film will serve as a sequel to the X-Men: First Class prequel and the original X-Men trilogy, bringing together mutants from both series to combat a shared threat. The cast is already huge, including stars of both franchises like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, and Anna Paquin.

Other new characters include Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage as the film’s main antagonist and American Horror Story‘s Evan Peters as mutant Quicksilver.

Source: Entertainment Weekly.

Photo Courtesy: IMDb.

‘Glee’ Star Cory Monteith Dead at 31

Monteith was 31.

Cory Monteith, star of FOX’s Glee, has died at 31.

The unexpected death of Glee star Cory Monteith shocked the world this past weekend.

Vancouver police have confirmed that Monteith, 31, was found dead on Saturday at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, where he had been staying since July 6.

At a press conference on Saturday evening, a police spokesperson said that there were “no indications of foul play.” An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday, July 15.

Monteith played protagonist Finn Hudson, a high school athlete who discovered a talent and love for singing after joining his school’s glee club. Monteith won a 2011 Teen Choice Award for his performance in Glee. Monteith’s other work included a supporting role in the Selena Gomez comedy Monte Carlo and a lead role in the upcoming mystery McCanick.

20th Century Fox Television, Fox Broadcasting Company, and the executive producers of Glee released a joint statement, which read:

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Cory was an exceptional talent and an even more exceptional person. He was a true joy to work with and we will all miss him tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

 

Photo Courtesy: Parade.

DVD Review: Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER in Christopher McQuarrie's action thriller.

Tom Cruise broods in Paramount’s action thriller adaptation.

Tom Cruise is no Jack Reacher, despite what the posters may say. Cruise lacks the brawn, height (in the books, the character clocked in at 6’5″), and most importantly the charisma of Lee Child’s protagonist. The actor does his best to launch a new franchise with Jack Reacher, but the overlong end product is ultimately a unfortunate misfire. 

That’s not to say that the action thriller is a total dud. Director Christopher McQuarrie deserves a great deal of credit for keeping the action moving, particularly in the film’s harrowing close-quarters fight scenes. While Jack Reacher‘s dialogue drags and sags, the action sequences are exciting and innovative. Reacher’s brawl with hired thugs in a cramped washroom is a standout, simultaneously brutal, exhilarating and humorous. And the film’s second-act car chase is a heady, jarring thrill, much better-executed than most recent comparable scenes. McQuarrie also excels at bringing out the darkness in Jack Reacher‘s criminal underworld, infusing many scenes with a unshakeable, uneasy sense of dread and decay.

Jack Reacher‘s biggest flaw is its inability to juggle a lot of moving parts at once. The plot, based on Child’s novel One Shot, follows Reacher’s investigation of the murders of five seemingly random civilians by an expert sniper. It’s a decidedly dark story for an action thriller to tell, and McQuarrie’s stomach-churning depiction of the murders, the film’s opening, is an immediate and highly potent sucker punch. However, Cruise attempts to sell Reacher as a brooding antihero with an acerbic wit, and when faced with such abject carnage, all he can do sullenly stare into the distance and fire off a few inconsequential one-liners.

The supporting cast is equally dissonant. Rosamund Pike shows cleavage but no acting ability as defense lawyer Helen Rodin, who regresses from successful businesswoman to damsel in distress with little reason other than to give Reacher something to do. Meanwhile, Werner Herzog slithers around as a Russian mobster called the Zec, a really nasty piece of work, and David Oyelowo works on making his temple veins stand out as a detective at odds with Reacher. Only Robert Duvall, a reliable action staple, and Alexia Fast, a fresh new talent, stand out in their few scenes.

It couldn’t be any clearer that this is Cruise’s vehicle, but the actor surprisingly doesn’t make as much of an impression as he should. He’s a less likable Ethan Hunt with no sense of humor, entirely bereft of the charm the audience is meant to believe draws  characters to him.

Unfortunately for Paramount, little apart from McQuarrie’s direction really works, and Jack Reacher devolves into a series of clichés surrounded by such stale dialogue as “I’m a drifter with nothing to lose,” meant to sound threatening but actually just painful. By the time the two-hour mark rolls around, Jack Reacher has outstayed its welcome, and there’s still half an hour to go.

Cruise does his best work when he’s allowed to infuse his fight scenes with a playful, devil-may-care attitude, but Jack Reacher‘s script fails him, and the audience, by taking itself entirely too seriously. It saps the fun out of it all, leaving Cruise to run through the motions without the energy he needs to keep the audience invested. I would love to see what a creative director like McQuarrie could do with a more energetic, intelligent and interesting script, but Jack Reacher is as by-the-numbers as they come, too lazy to think for itself or ask its audience to do the same. C+

Image Courtesy: The Boston Globe.

DVD Review: The Call

Halle Berry picks up the phone in 'The Call.'

Halle Berry picks up the phone in ‘The Call.’

The Call is a better movie than it needs to be, and you should be grateful for that. After all, this is a thriller arriving in the middle of March, where most studios usually bury their duds. But lo and behold, save for a final fifteen minutes that throw credulity out the window, The Call is a bona-fide nail-biter that mostly delivers on its intriguing premise.

Halle Berry stars as Jordan Turner, a veteran 911 operator who answers a call from teenager Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin), who has been abducted by a serial killer (Michael Eklund). As Jordan and the police race to find Casey, Jordan realizes that the girl’s captor is the same man who abducted and murdered a teenage girl six months earlier.

The screenplay cleverly takes a familiar idea and makes it taut and suspenseful by confronting intelligent characters with believable obstacles. Casey’s phone is disposable, which prevents the police from tracking it. Signal strength varies in and out. Computer screens load agonizingly slowly. No one makes any bone-headed moves that take the audience out of the story, a refreshing change from typical thriller fare.

Berry is aces as Jordan, presenting her strengths and weaknesses without making her either superhuman or pathetic. She’s a compulsively watchable heroine, and Berry succeeds in dialing up the tension to almost unbearable levels. Breslin, all grown up, is just as good as a kidnap victim who keeps her wits about her even under the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. Though The Call is her first thriller role, it certainly won’t be her last after this pulse-pounding performance. And Eklund is scary good as the story’s resident maniac, savoring every homicidal giggle.

As Jordan attempts to keep Casey on the line long enough to locate her, The Call is a top-notch thriller. It’s only once Jordan gets out from behind the desk that the movie loses its momentum. The last fifteen minutes, viscerally satisfying though they are, end The Call on an odd, almost sour, certainly implausible note. Less, for The Call, would have definitely been more.

That implausible ending aside, any March thriller that keeps me glued to the edge of my seat as consistently as The Call did is hard to dismiss as common trash. It’s better than most of the generic thrillers that major studios churn out year after year, and that’s noteworthy in of itself. The Call, though it careens wildly out of control in its final act, is an entertaining and accessible way to spend an hour and a half. B

Image Courtesy: Gorgview.com.

DVD Review: The Last Stand

Schwarzenegger prepares for battle alongside Knoxville.

Schwarzenegger prepares for battle alongside Knoxville.

Though billed as Arnie’s big comeback to acting, The Last Stand only really ever adds up to the Governator spinning his wheels and spitting out paltry clichés. What should feel exciting and fresh in this actioner instead comes across as cloying and threadbare, a wasted opportunity. Painfully stilted line reading from the entire cast, especially Arnie, doesn’t help. Sadly, The Last Stand ultimately does more harm to Arnie’s rep than good; Schwarzenegger looks shockingly old, and he’s given agonizingly little to work with.

The Last Stand doesn’t waste much time with set-up. A bad man in a fast car is heading for the border, and only a small-town sheriff (Schwarzenegger) and his motley crew of deputies can stop him. It’s a simple premise but not an unpromising one. And as Arnie, partnered with Jaime Alexander (Thor), Rodrigo Santoro (300), and resident Jackass Johnny Knoxville, preps for battle and comes out guns blazing, the film has a certain charm. What a shame that the energy it should have dissipates so quickly.

Schwarzenegger knows he’s best at kicking ass, so that’s what he spends a good portion of the movie doing. It’s once he’s required to start talking that the film really starts to fall apart; between his thick accent and the often incomprehensible script, nothing but the action works. And it’s not even all Arnie’s fault. The supporting cast, composed of typically fine actors like Forest Whitaker (playing a DEA agent) and Alexander, is for some reason incapable of delivering any good lines at all. Most of them are so mediocre that they fade from memory before the end credits roll. Watching Whitaker pace as his prisoner escapes him is less fun than watching paint dry. It’s only Knoxville who manages to make some jokes land with his typical manic, daredevil energy, but his part is strangely limited to only a few scenes. A buddy-cop flick with the Governator and the Jackass would have been much more fun to watch. Alas, they share only a few minutes of screen-time, spouting hackneyed dialogue all the while.

The action is serviceable, with some nifty car chases and a satisfying shootout that decimates half of the sheriff’s sleepy town. But there’s not enough of it, and The Last Stand takes too long in getting to that titular climax. The first hour and twenty minutes feel like warm-up, because that’s all they are. By the time the bullets start flying in earnest, it’s too little, too late. It would be one thing if the screenwriter had something interesting to say in the scenes he stuffs with dialogue, but it’s all dull platitudes, accomplishing nothing. There are only a couple of lines that show signs of life, but those are rarities, and the monotony is grating. I’m sure that Arnie will back, and I can only hope that it’s in fare better than this. C-

 

Photo Courtesy: Spinoff – Comic Book Resources.

DVD Review: Hansel and Gretel – Witch Hunters

Arterton and Renner have a bone to pick with the world's witches.

Arterton and Renner have a bone to pick with the world’s witches.

Reviewing a movie like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a fool’s errand. Anyone who can read knows that this dark fantasy, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, is not aiming to win any awards or make picky critics happy. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters wants to be exactly what it sounds like – a bloody, fun, and unapologetically loopy revenge fantasy, starring two very attractive people and a whole lot of nasty-looking weapons. And there’s something to be said for a movie that gives its audience exactly what it promised them in the first place. For most of its short (88-minute) running time, it’s a shamelessly simple, delightfully disposable take on a classic story. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

The movie picks up the tale of two extremely gullible siblings fifteen years later; evidently lacking access to therapy, they’ve dealt with their trauma by becoming formidable bounty hunters, hunting down every witch in sight with a stockpile of crossbows, shotguns, and pistols. Both still bear serious psychological and physical scars from their imprisonment (Hansel’s a diabetic as a result of his forced candy binge, a nice touch), and their mission to destroy all witches is a very personal. When they arrive in the town of Augsburg, where children are going missing, Hansel and Gretel face their toughest challenge yet: a coven of witches led by the powerful Muriel (Famke Janssen).

Director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) pulled off a major casting coup with Arterton and Renner, two stars typically found in higher brow fare than this. The two are game and have an easy chemistry both in their conversations and their witch beat-downs. They do a decent job of bringing to life their certifiably badass characters, no easy task. Their performances are intentionally serious, and while that does work with the film’s tone, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters would have been more entertaining if both the script and the actors had loosened up a bit instead of playing it straight. Arterton seems to be having a better time than Renner, whose scowl never recedes for a second, but neither one of them truly runs with the absurdity of the movie’s central concept.

Wirkola keeps the pace moving quickly, likely to hide the undercooked script, and it’s not a bad choice, because with such tight direction, the film never wears out its welcome. The director also embraces his film’s darkness, maxing out the gore and griminess in his action sequences.Unfortunately, the movie’s serious tone is a poor choice given how close the movie’s concept is to falling over the edge into parody. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is at its heart a revenge fantasy, about two screwed up adults with a bone to pick, and that refreshingly simple concept would have served a goofier film better. Even as blood and guts splatter the screen, it’s all should be tongue-in-cheek, never grim or morbid.

The film is positioned as the start to a series, which gives me both hope and concern. There isn’t much to Wirkola’s concept, enough for one movie, sure, but probably not enough for a series. Then again, with subsequent installments on the way, perhaps the leads and the script can loosen up and tell a fun story, instead of getting weighed down with introductions. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters doesn’t take place in any particular time period and accuracy was clearly not a concern in this first film, so the sky’s the limit for what they can do with follow-ups. One thing I do know is that Arterton and Renner are a team I’d watch anywhere. B

Image Courtesy: JoBlo.

DVD Review: Broken City

Crowe and Wahlberg come face to face.

Crowe and Wahlberg come face to face.

There are exciting, engrossing thrillers, and there are godawful thrillers. Broken City, boasting a terrific cast including Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, should fall into the first category, but instead winds up in the middle, wallowing in mediocrity due to its disappointingly weak script. Broken City is not a bad film, but it’s also far too meager and simplistic to measure up against the classic film noirs it attempts to emulate, like Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.

Director Allen Hughes treats the audience to some gorgeous images of the cityscape, focusing in on looming, opaque skyscrapers as if to expose the city’s darker, more sinister side. New York feels alive and dangerous, and the cinematography is often striking; one brutally fast car crash is so potent that it gave me whiplash. The director’s skill in transforming his setting into a secondary character suggests a major talent. Unfortunately, Broken City‘s undercooked script doesn’t give Hughes much to work with.

Protagonist Billy Taggart (Wahlberg) is an ex-cop working as a private eye after killing a homicidal rapist who got off on a technicality. Struggling to make ends meet, he sees an easy way out when Mayor Nicolas Hostetler (Crowe) offers him big bucks to look into his wife’s affair. But when Taggart starts to dig deeper, he finds himself in over his head and in the ruthless politician’s crosshairs.

Wahlberg, sporting a thick Boston accent, plays Taggart with a mix of streetwise wariness, moral indecision, and sullen anger. Crowe one-ups him as the charismatic, slimy Hostetler; he’s a simultaneously charming, menacing, and unsettlingly plausible villain, a ruthless Machiavellian fat cat who delights in playing puppet master. It’s an unconventional part for Crowe but one that he plays well, filling every line with dangerous verve. And Zeta-Jones brings a sense of class as the elegant and sultry First Lady, as cunning and cold-blooded as her husband. The supporting cast is also strong, especially Alona Tal as Taggart’s loyal assistant and Jeffrey Wright as an unscrupulous police commissioner.

As Wahlberg and Crowe face off, the movie comes to life with a powerful kick, upping the tension with every line. But outside of those few compelling snippets of dialogue (Crowe’s rousing, guileful speech during a mayoral debate comes to mind), there’s very little going on. It’s all style, no substance; ultimately, Broken City‘s plot is its weakest link. Like Crowe’s politics, despite all the posturing and presentation, what it all comes down to is unabashedly straightforward. With a cast as great as this, a more interesting, layered story would have elevated Broken City above standard genre fare. As it is, the movie is diverting without being particularly smart, thoughtful, or exciting. It’s a no-frills B-movie masquerading as something much more interesting. B-

Photo Courtesy: ScreenCrave.

Review: The Purge

Ethan Hawke expects some unwanted visitors.

Ethan Hawke expects some unwanted visitors.

Is mankind inherently evil? If murder was legal, would you kill someone? Is the letter of the law the only thing preventing carnage on a massive scale? James DeMonaco’s micro-budgeted horror thriller The Purge has a lot of big questions on its mind. What a shame that it’s never given the opportunity to answer them.

The Purge imagines America in 2022 as “a nation reborn.” Poverty and crime are at all-time lows because, for twelve hours a year, citizens are given carte blanche to kill, rob, rape, destroy, you name it, in the name of purging all of their most angry base instincts. It’s a neat concept, perhaps one that doesn’t completely hold up under close scrutiny (the impoverished and starving don’t feel hungry enough to steal any other time of the year?), but one that’s innovative nonetheless.

The film narrows its scope too much by focusing on the Sandins, a wealthy family living in an affluent suburb. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) works as a home security developer, while his wife Mary (Lena Headey) deals with the difficult kids, Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder). They live an idyllic life, until the Purge starts, and stupid/innocent Charlie momentarily lifts the fortifications to allow a man running for his life into their home. As the man’s pursuers attempt to break into their home, the Sandins find themselves fighting for their lives, and the film  begins to dissolve into horror-movie cliches.

Hawke clearly embraces his ‘action-hero’ role, and he pulls it off for the most part. His fight scenes are exciting and believable. Hawke lacks the physical presence of Liam Neeson, for one, but he succeeds in holding the audience’s attention. Headey is also well-cast, showing off a dramatic range typically reserved for higher-caliber movies than this. A psychotic Rhys Wakefield plays his small part well. No one else stays on screen long enough to make an impression.

After its promising beginning, as DeMonaco showcases some of the horrific violence perpetrated during the Purge, the film becomes disappointingly bogged down by its plot, which refuses to allow The Purge to move past the home invasion subgenre to address its most compelling ideas.The film’s bigger themes are buried by ceaseless, senseless violence, frustratingly so.

Faceless baddies lunge from the shadows, blood spurts everywhere, there’s a predictable third-act twist, and none of it sticks after the credits roll. Inexplicably, the film’s only original aspect – its thought-provoking premise – is sidelined in favor of cheap, gory, toothless kicks. The audience gets few answers, and with a running time of only 85 minutes, The Purge is too slight to pull off the thoughtful social commentary it’s striving for.

The Purge is a serviceable home invasion thriller, but it gives hints that it could have been more. With such an intriguing central idea, it should have been much more. For a high-concept movie about a society reliant on heinous violence, The Purge is dismayingly tame.  C+

Photo Courtesy: The Hollywood News.