Tag Archives: Mark Wahlberg

In Theaters This Weekend: Holiday movie season FINALLY arrives!

17 Dec

We’ve been waiting patiently all November and December for the studios to start releasing their big holiday movie season blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls, and after what seems like an eternity of stringing us along with one big movie a week (or none at all), it’s finally here, and a hotly anticipated sequel is leading the pack.

TRON: Legacy, the follow-up to 1982’s underachiever-turned-cult-hit TRON, is blazing a light-bike trail into theaters, and the video game based movie is expected to rake it in this Christmas season. Riding high on nostalgia, when this sequel was announced, all the fan-boy sites lit up with excitement, and the finished product looks pretty sharp, looking like they actually got a budget for special effects this time, and rolling out in 3D, no less. Starring Garrett Hedlund and the stunning Olivia Wilde, with Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitnner reprising their roles, the only way this movie is going to suck is if they load up on CGI and nostalgia, and completely forget to write an interesting script, which surprisingly happens more often than you think…

The Fighter opens this weekend as well, and it’s making a strong case for Oscar contention. The true story of Boston boxer Micky Ward (played by Boston actor Mark Wahlberg), and his junkie brother and former boxer himself (played by Christian Bale), is the centerpiece here, and it’s the struggle between knowing when to fight for your family, and when to fight for yourself that’s going to carry this one into Oscar season. Now don’t get us wrong – if you think you’re going to see any acting better than Christian Bale this year, you’re wrong; he’s going to run away with this one. But the movie as a whole just doesn’t strike us as the same caliber as a Rocky or Raging Bull. Bale is a heavyweight here, but the rest of this movie should just throw in the towel.

Also opening up is something for the date-night set, and on paper, this looks great. Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson, in a James L. Brooks romantic comedy that deals with a couple sticky situations? Perfect, right? But then you actually take a look at the movie, How Do You Know, and ‘sticky’ becomes the best adjective you can find. Wilson, a professional baseball player, and Witherspoon, a former softball player, live together until she finally has it with his fear of commitment. Old friend Paul Rudd just so happens to be around when she walks out and tries to capitalize on her newly single status, but oh wait, didn’t you forget you were in the middle of a federal indictment that your dad Jack Nicholson keeps trying to tell you about but you keep running away so you don’t have to hear it? Doesn’t really make you seem like boyfriend material. This movie could be an easy way to kill a couple of hours and make your girlfriend happy, but all in all it can’t possibly stack up to the sum of its parts.

And last, and certainly most least, is Yogi Bear the movie, a mix of live action and 3D animation that is sure to provide the worst jokes and most groan-worthy moments of 2010. With Dan Aykroyd as the voice of Yogi, an unrecognizable Justin Timberlake as the voice of Boo Boo, and Tom Cavanaugh as a completely neutered Ranger Smith, none of the talents are used to their best potential. Cavanaugh can’t display his edgy wit, Timberlake’s voice is so manipulated that he might as well not even be in the movie, and let’s face it, Aykroyd hasn’t been funny since the first Ghostbusters. If you have kids, I can’t fault you for going to see this if they’re begging you, but for God’s sake, if you actually check this out on your own, you need to get your head checked.

In limited release: Casino Jack, the Jack Abramoff story starring Kevin Spacey as the sleazeball lobbyist is hitting select markets this weekend, and so is Rabbit Hole, based off a play about a marriage turned upside down after the death of a child, starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.

Whew, that’s a lot of movies. At least you know that now the studios are serious about the holiday season. Can’t wait to see what’s next…

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In Theaters This Weekend: December movie season officially starts with a low roar

10 Dec

December is reserved for big blockbusters and Oscar-pandering indies, but last week, December 3rd, gave us little of either, so maybe this week we can pick up the pace, Hollywood? This weekend the studios get back on track, but it’s going to be a slow build up to Christmas Day, and the big Christmas weekend releases (TRON: Legacy, True Grit, Gulliver’s Travels, Little Fockers), but for now we’ll just take what we can get, and that’s two big movies that target completely different audiences.

First up is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third film based off C.S. Lewis7-part book series. A series that was clearly meant to ride the coattails of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it made a big splash in 2005 with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but come on, we bet you can’t name the second movie in the series, which leads us to question, why are these movies still coming out, and who is really still interested anymore? There may be some fans left to check out this kiddie version of ‘Rings’, but this franchise is currently treading water, and the chances of getting through all seven of Lewis’ books looks pretty bleak.

A glowing blue sword in a movie that swears it's not ripping off 'Lord of the Rings'

The other big movie opening up this weekend, and a 360 from Disney’s ‘Narnia’ fantasy is The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in a mistaken identity tale revolving around international intrigue and a bunch of stolen money. Depp plays a timid traveler hoping for a relaxing trip to Italy, while Jolie is the question-mark vixen who wraps him up in the twisty plot. While it’s fun to see Depp and Jolie onscreen together in exotic locales, the movie comes off a bit convoluted, and we could easily rattle off a list of films that have visited this familiar territory. The Tourist will be a much better option on date-night, than say, Morning Glory, but much like that film, despite its big names, this one seems like it will easily be forgotten.

In limited release: The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale’s inspiring movie about a boxer that’s down and out, but gets one last shot at the title, is opening in select theaters this weekend.  Following a strong pugilism pedigree, the filmmakers are chasing Oscar gold, but despite Bale’s very convincing turn as a junkie who coulda been a contender, The Fighter might float like a butterfly, but misses on the sting. Also in limited release is The Tempest, director Julie Taymor’s flashy update of Shakespeare’s last play. However, with Taymor’s Broadway catastrophe currently taking up most of her attention, bet that her film will go overlooked, and aside from the art house crowd, most audiences should follow suit.

The Fighter

24 Sep

By josh

Let it be known, Oscar loves a fighter. As far as the professional sports go, pugilism is the number one contender when it comes to the Academy Awards. Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull – even Hilary Swank got into some girl-on-girl action in Million Dollar Baby – all won major awards, and only Stallone missed out on the acting honors, losing to Peter Finch for Network.  So when a boxing film comes along, any actor is going to beat down the door to get it – the story of the individual, rising from adversity, honing their craft, scrapping to make it to the top, dripping blood and sweat while reaching for the gold – kinda sounds like the life of an actor anyway. Plus, this one is guaranteed Oscar fodder. The Fighter is the next boxing film to get in the ring, and Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are the latest ones chasing the title.

The true life story of street kid Micky Ward (Wahlberg) and his troubled brother Dickie (Bale) is the centerpiece here, as we see a struggling boxer get a shot at the big fight. Wahlberg’s embarrassing money bout lands him in the hot seat as the laughing stock of his Boston neighborhood, and Bale’s trouble with the law lands him in jail. After giving up, Wahlberg goes the redemption route, lets go of his brother, takes solace in the arms of a new lady, Amy Adams, and makes one last run at the title. Will Micky win this last fight, or go down with his glass chin up, making a last respectable showing? We’ll just have wait and find out…

We can’t help watching this trailer thinking we’ve already seen this movie three and four times over. The already mentioned Rocky and Raging Bull meets Gone Baby Gone and Good Will Hunting’s Boston setting. Boxing has always been the perfect metaphor for overcoming personal adversity. Not a team sport, it’s one man dealing with struggles both in and out of the ring, and their triumph is theirs and theirs alone, with coaches and women and onlookers coming in and out, helping or hurting the cause. It’s why actors love the role, as they get to prove their worth without having to share the screen time with any teammates, and why the Academy loves the films, because whether or not they win or lose, they go the distance, toe to toe with an opponent who is always portrayed as not having to work as hard to get to the title themselves. Can we ever get a boxing movie where both fighters are shown in a dramatic light? No, because that’s just not how drama works.

The thing that’s going to save this movie isn’t the directing or the choreography (boxing movies always get choreography nominations), but the acting. We’ve got Mark Wahlberg, who despite his ups and downs in role choices, has proven he can be taken seriously in Boogie Nights and The Departed. And Amy Adams’ breakout role in Enchanted has been followed up with the indie Sunshine Cleaning and charming turns in a list of chick flicks, not to mention those pants in Night at the Museum: Battle  of the Smithsonian. But the real knock out here is Christian Bale and his gaunt appearance. We’ve seen Bale dangerously drop weight before in The Machinist, and he dives in deep again here, looking like a junkie fallen boxer, who at one point could’ve been a contender, but the hardships of the neighborhood turned him to drugs and crime. Yes, Mark Wahlberg is the main character, but the star will prove to be Bale, who has proven that he can get intense on set, and drudge out all the nastiness that the role requires. He’s not afraid to look foolish, and that fear is what holds lesser actors back from achieving true greatness. If it weren’t for the lame inspirational score that takes over halfway through the clip, we’d be convinced that The Fighter could overcome its obvious influencers.

So, will it suck?

Yes. Despite the pedigree held by boxing flicks, this one just seems too easy. The struggling street hood (Rocky) with the trainer who has personal struggles (don’t forget, Paulie was a drinker) and the neighborhood girl that becomes his muse (Adriiiiiian!) – it’s Rocky with a Southie accent. It can be good, but don’t expect to walk out thinking you’ve just seen something original. However, keep an eye on Bale come Oscar time. The Academy loves a transformation; see Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, or the adage about going “full retard” in Tropic Thunder. You can expect Bale to beef back up to take on the still unnamed villain in the next Batman installment, but for now he’s committed to the role, and don’t expect The Fighter won’t go down swinging.

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