"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Thursday, December 4, 2014

And the 24th Bond film will be called....

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Lots of James Bond news coming out of UK's Pinewood Studios today.  Like huge news!  The 24th Bond film will be titled Spectre and most of the cast and crew from Skyfall returns to continue the legendary spy's adventures.

Director Sam Mendes was on hand today to divulge new information about Bond 24.  First up, the film's name is officially confirmed.  It's Spectre, which stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge And Extortion, a terrorist organisation which was around in the earlier Bond films. Makes sense as the newest films have been quite interested in Bond's past.

Also revealed was the cast with Daniel Craig back as Bond, Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as the new M (I miss you already, Judi Dench!). Now to the newcomers, the Bond ladies include Monica Belluci and Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista from Guardians of the Galaxy as Mr. Hinx and two more cast additions that are bound to raise eyebrows, Andrew Scott (Sherlock) as Denbigh and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser.

For you car aficionados out there, a new Aston Martin was also announced.  What intrigues me is the official synopsis: “A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”  Raise your hand if you're already thinking MOLE!! Spectre hits theatres less than a year from now on November 6, 2015.  

TV Movie Review: Toy Story That Time Forgot

The newest TV special featuring those loveable toys from the Toy Story universe with Toy Story That Time Forgot is yet another win for the franchise.  The holiday event shows us why we can't get enough of these characters and why it warrants another feature film with Toy Story 4. Pixar head John Lasseter returns to directing for the film due to release June 16, 2017.  While the story for the new feature is by directors Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, the screenplay will be written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack who wrote Celeste and Jesse Forever.

Coming back to Toy Story That Time Forgot, this time around, the much neglected dinosaurs Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn) and Trixie (voiced by Kristen Schaal) step into the limelight when they accompany Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen) and their pal Bonnie (voiced by Emily Hahn) to a post-Christmas play date.  While Bonnie and her friend Mason get distracted playing video games, the toys go off exploring on their own and they discover the new world of Battlesaurs who really dig being Battlesaurs. Translation: They don't know they're toys. "Incredible, isn't it?" states Buzz.

Led by the power-hungry Cleric (voiced by Steve Purcell), the Battlesaurs pit Mason's toys in an arena against each other.  These dinosaurs aren't messing around. You fight to the death.  As Woody, Buzz and Rex's lives are on the line, it's up to Trixie (questioning her own dinosaur-ness) to find Bonnie and be the heroine.

I don't know how Pixar manages to add new and interesting characters to this decades old franchise like the Angel Kitty (voiced by Emma Hudak) who is at once hilarious and adorable and Reptillus Maximus (voiced by Kevin McKidd), the new love interest for Trixie.  The story manages to serve both the old and new characters well.

For those of you who may have had enough of Toy Story, don't give this funny and sweet holiday special a miss.  For long-time Toy Story fans, there's so much these characters have yet to say and I look forward to seeing these new characters (hopefully) in Toy Story 4 too.  Especially Angel Kitty! Her words of wisdom need to go on some motivational posters.

Written and Directed by Steve Purcell; Edited by David Suther; Music by Michael Giacchino


New Character Posters and Videos from Pixar's Inside Out

It's time to meet the five emotions that take centre stage in next June's Inside Out, the first original outing for Pixar since 2012's Brave. Have a look at Disgust, Anger, Fear, Sadness and Joy, the little voices who reside in young Riley's head.

Meet Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling)

                     Meet Anger (voiced by Lewis Black)

               Meet Fear (voiced by Bill Hader)

            Meet Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith)

          And finally, meet Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens Trailer

It's not coming out until after a year from now but the first teaser from the ongoing saga of the Star Wars has made its presence felt. And how! I was excited in anticipation all day knowing it was coming tonight (early US morning) and now it's finally here, well, I've got to say, I'm not on the fence anymore on whether we needed another Star Wars movie.  These are the original sci-fi heroes and heroines of our childhood, and now we'll have new heroes and heroes to meet.

The first face we see (literally) is John Boyega (Attack the Block) in Stormtrooper outfit after a voice intones "There's been an awakening. Have you felt it?" What's that about? Well, no time to process info because the next shots come at us fast and furious: there's a cute little robot, Stormtroopers, the new 'Leia' maybe with Daisy Ridley playing an unknown character escaping from someone, Oscar Isaac as a pilot, the Sith with a completely badass lightsaber and the shot we've all been waiting for, the return of the beloved Millennium Falcon set to that familiar John Williams composed theme for Star Wars.  And then the title, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a long wait... December 2015.

No appearances as yet from other key actors like Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Lupita N'yongo or Max Von Sydow who are also cast in The Force Awakens. Oh, and apparently some older actors named Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are also part of this film.  I wonder how Luke, Han and Leia fit into this new universe. We have to lots to guess before the next trailer hits.

So folks are you officially excited that a new Star Wars universe film will greet us next Christmas? Thoughts?

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, it struck me how faithful to the book and the characters the movies remain. More so than even the Harry Potter series. Don't get me wrong, I thought the Harry Potter movies were great but I was always glad I had the books to return to.

In the case of The Hunger Games, no little detail goes unmentioned. And the characters remain true to the books. I could see Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss wrestle with her inner demons and fears just as I could imagine Katniss struggling in the books. I've said it with the previous films as well that Lawrence is the glue that holds the series together. We are centred through her experiences in this journey to make it to the other end, alive.

When we last left Katniss rescued by the rebels from the Quarter Quell had just been told that her district, the only home she's ever know, has been destroyed and she's now in District 13. Needless to say, Katniss has many questions and so do we. Here in 13, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is in charge, flanked by Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright). They try to convince her to join the fight against the Capitol but Katniss refuses to budge until she knows what happened to Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

Of course, Katniss does agree to be their Mockingjay eventually once she realizes she can bargain with Coin for Peeta and the rest of the tributes' lives.  From therefore, we are launched into a full-fledged uprising as the citizens and top brass of District 13 try to reach out to the other Districts to unite against President Snow (Donald Sutherland).  Snow is just as callous and evil as other film installments of this series. While he wants to quash the rebels, he is also involved in a battle of wills with Katniss.  He knows her deepest fears and attacks them ruthlessly. 

We are also updated into the lives of the other non-Tribute characters.  Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) is reduced to wearing grays, a colour that she probably knew existed.  Primrose (Willow Shields), Katniss's younger sister, is training to be a doctor.  And Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is training for war.

War is completely at the forefront in this film.  Katniss is held up by Coin and Heavensbee as the symbol of hope, the reason to keep fighting.  As we read about citizens protesting for basic human and civil rights around the world in 2014, the events of Mockingjay set in probable dystopian future does resonate.  Could this be the future we one day inherit if we are not careful? This does require a lot of pondering. 

However, the Mockingjay Part 1 is setting up the scenario for the final battle. And leaving a lot of questions up in the air.  How will Katniss get her Peeta back? How will the Districts rise up to take down the Capitol? What will their future entail? And will any of them make it out alive?

The A-list cast (most of them Academy and Emmy winners and nominees) are top-notch.  I thought the scenes negotiating Katniss's Mockingjay terms with Moore and Hoffman were wonderful. The film is dedicated to Philip Seymour Hoffman, he will deeply missed.  Moore is a welcome addition as the unreadable but tough President Coin. 

Jennifer Lawrence knows Katniss like a second skin, Katniss is much more vulnerable in this film, she not only has to worry about her friends and family. She now holds the burden of what happens to other Districts as well.  Woody Harrelson as Haymitch is completely underused and I wanted more scenes with Effie, she brings some humour to very serious film.

Director Francis Lawrence is much more comfortable in the world and characters in his second film in this series and it shows.  The details of the underground world of District 13 were just as I imagined them while reading.  Though aboveground, District 13 boasts of lush green forests and soothing rivers, it wasn't quite the broken, barren District reduced to rubble from the books.  Most of the cast also spends a majority of time in dull grays, browns and black uniforms.  Those eye-popping costumes from the previous films, (RIP Cinna), are sorely missed as well.  

Fans of The Hunger Games series will no doubt like the film but like I rushed through reading Mockingjay in one go when I got the book, I wished the film wasn't broken down into parts. But then again, it does leave you wanting more.  

Directed by Francis Lawrence; Screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong; Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins; Cinematography by Jo Willems; Edited by Alan Edward Bell and Mark Yoshikawa; Music by James Newton Howard

Additional cast: Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer


What I'm Thankful for in 2014: Movies Edition

There's so much to be thankful about every year: family, friends, your health.  But I always make it a point to make a list of movies I'm thankful for. Why? As Mel Brooks once said, "Movies saved my life. They rescued my soul."  I feel the same way.  Through the good times and the bad times, they've been my companion in life.  So without further ado, here's my list of top 5!

1) Book adaptations: There were some great book to film adaptations out this year from Gone Girl to The Fault in Our Stars to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.  And while they stayed faithful to the original material, they have retained their voice.  All of these films debuted at number one at the box office, a pretty impressive feat.  Who says the book is better?

2) The LEGO Movie: I'm still humming the crazily catchy 'Everything is Awesome' from the extremely funny and clever The LEGO Movie from co-directors and writers, Chris Miller and Phil Lord.  With a surprisingly emotional core and hilarious interpretations of iconic characters (I loved Will Arnett's angsty Batman), the animated film was meta to the extreme. But hey, it worked, I can't remember another film where there were more adults for an animated film than children.

3) Comic book adaptations: From March until the end of summer, you couldn't go far without bumping into a comic book film.  They were everywhere, from the universes featuring Spider-Man, some Avengers, X-Men and even some new Guardians of the Galaxies.  And there's here to stay, as is evidenced by both Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios both unveiling a superhero franchise lineup that goes deep in 2020. And I'm afraid that's only the start as The Guardians of the Galaxy proved with claiming the number one this summer season.  Clearly, this audience wants more.

4) Time Travel: This oft used trope was back early this summer in two highly enjoyable films, The Edge of Tomorrow (a clever sci fi Groundhog Day starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt for 2014) and X-Men: Days of Future Past where the X-Men generations past and present collided in an A-list bonanza that audiences loved.

5) Hiccup and Toothless: It was a long wait but 2014 featured the return of one of my most favorite animated duos, Hiccup and Toothless, older and wise, but just as adorable in How to Train Your Dragon 2.  Their friendship goes through some pretty difficult tests in the second film from the trilogy and that ominous line about Toothless's future has me pretty worried for the finale.  But, until then, let's enjoy the lovable antics these two get into up high in the skies.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The host of the 2015 Oscars is...

Multi-talented, multi-hyphenated Neil Patrick Harris is the new host of the 2015 Oscars. This is pretty awesome.  This will be the first time the actor is hosting the Oscars, although he has hosted the Emmys twice and the Tonys four times.  He also an Emmy and an Tony.  Hmmmm, methinks he aiming for the EGOT of hosting AND winning.  That Barney Stintson always was an overachiever.  Harris is currently starring in David Fincher's Gone Girl which could quite possibly be nominated for some awards itself come Oscar day.  The Academy Awards airs live worldwide on February 22, 2015.  
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