Category Archives: Previews

Preview: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

You are either going to see this film or you aren’t and that’s probably got more to do with whether you have seen the previous film (or read the books) than whether you think this might be a good movie to see. I have read the books, I know what’s coming, and for me it’s a simple question of whether they can effectively tell the final chapter or will they royally screw it all up.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the films haven’t quite captured the best elements of the books, especially when it comes to its characters. The Half Blood Prince for example was so far removed from the central conflicts of the novels it may as well have been called something else. The fact that The Half Blood Prince storyline itself became a sub-plot was dumbfounding, I know friends of mine who had not read the books found it somewhat confusing.

It’s a great shame because it’s the characters that make the books as engaging as they are, and I get the feeling that the last few films have dramatically misunderstood what made those characters work. I remember in the The Order of the Phoenix feeling like they sucked the life out of the everything making it rather drab, dull, gloomy, and a little boring.

The trailer for this final film seems to suggest however that it’s packed with more action than all the previous seven films combined. This could be both a good thing, and a bad thing, you really don’t want a story built on strong characters and a wonderful world ending with a flurry of superficial fight scenes. I remember the TV show LOST, and for all it’s great writing and wonderful characters, it all ended in a fist fight. How lame can you get?

The other big talking point for this last installment is how well it will do at the Box office? Unbelievably The Sorcerer’s Stone is the most successful of the Potter films with a total $974 million worldwide box office takings, while Prisoner of Azkhaban (the best of the movies in my opinion) is the worst at $795 million. Regardless, then seven movies so far are all in the top 30 of all time, which means they are the biggest money spinners in Hollywood history.

How will the final film rank? Will it break the mystical $1 billion mark, putting it in the class of The Dark Knight? There’s nothing to say it couldn’t make the top three of all time, but to do that it would need more than $1.12 billion to dethrone the final Lord of the Rings. Realistically that the best it could do, there doesn’t seem to be a way to catch Titanic ($1.84 billion) or Avatar ($2.78 billion).

With the inflated 3D prices and the chance that most fans will see it more than once I don’t doubt it will do well. However is it’s appeal around the globe as strong as it is in the major Western countries? Perhaps the fact that the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is attached to this film is a good sign that insiders think it will be very big. Most of the top films in terms of Box Office rely heavily on the money taken outside of the US, with The Dark Knight being the notable exception. In that regard, I doubt it will break the magical $1billion mark, but I wait to be surprised.

It’s been frustrating not being able to talk about ending because not too many of my friends have read the final book, so I am really looking forward to that discussion. There’s only a week to go, enough time to watch each of the previous films, one film per day. I’m sure there are even some die hard fans who will watch the close to twenty four hours of film currently on DVD in one sitting before heading out the final film. Good luck to them, I wonder what they will get hooked on next?

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Preview: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The 2007 Michael Bay film Transformers didn’t set the critics on fire, but audiences it did, managing an amazing $709 million plus worldwide box office take.  Its success was in nailing the Transformers themselves and delivering a humorous spectacle worthy of the big screen. It was the perfect Saturday night popcorn flick with a lot of nostalgia for those who grew up with the cartoon.

It was also Michael Bay’s most successful film, almost $200 million more than his previous Armageddon. Perhaps it was the influence of Producer Steve Spielberg who reportedly focussed the script on the concept of “a kid and his car” as the means to tell the story. If you watch the film again thinking that this is a story about a boys first car you’ll notice how much time they devote to that concept.

I think in general critics didn’t give this film the due’s it deserved. It may have been superficial entertainment but the technical artistry and clever film making at work here is a cut well above your average Hollywood Blockbuster. It also managed to bring giant metallic robots to the screen and give them a sense of personality, Margaret from At The Movies said “I tell you, they’ve got more personality than some real characters in some films we’ve seen lately.”

Given the success (even the film score sold well) the sequel was inevitable and in 2009 The Revenge of the Fallen hit the screens. It certainly raked in more money at the box office (a cool $836 million), but it was ravaged by both critics and audiences alike. The film’s primary problem appeared to be that it was filmed during the writer’s strike and basically had no script.

Bay has spoken at length lately about how he got it wrong, pretty much publicly slagging on the film (source) and promising he’s learnt from the film and won’t make the same mistakes with the third. I can almost see you all rolling your eyes, Bay is always one to say whatever he can to sell his current project. He isn’t the only one however with a number of the key players in the second film saying Bay has genuinely looked to correct the issues, like having a script for starters.

The third film is out at the end of the month and it will be the longest of the three at two and a half hours. There’s no word on the size of the budget, but I’d safely say it’s up around $150 million at least looking at the trailers, and by the looks of the marketing campaign they are definitely spending a lot of cash promoting it.

It promises to be more like the first, with a smaller cast of both humans and robots in a more intimate setting. Gone is Megan Fox who is said to have been such a diva on set that an insurrection from the crew forced Bay’s hand in removing her. The official reason is she was too thin and Bay wanted the look of a girl next door, the kind any guy could hope to meet and woo. Why he cast Rosie Huntington-Whiteley then is a bit bizarre, but he’s always had a thing for Victoria’s Secret models and she’s certainly popular at the moment in the mens magazines.

The film also stars John Malkovish and Patrick Dempsey, increasing its star power, although you’d be hard pressed to find either of them in any of the trailers or marketing material. Regardless, its names that often make a Hollywood blockbuster at the box office. For a film like this, people are after the spectacle, all they really want to see is giant robots beating the crap out of each other, and they want to feel like it’s at least half way justified.

Will Dark of the Moon deliver? We’ll find out June 29!

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Preview: Super 8

You should make a habit of paying attention when you hear the name JJ Abrams, he’s not just the co-creator of lost, he’s also a terrific filmmaker. I’d be bold and call him a modern day Spielberg, but let’s wait a decade or two and then decide.

JJ Abrams lastest offering is Super 8 out next week on June 9, it’s produced by Spielberg and looks like a homage to his films such as The GooniesE.T., and Close Encounters.

Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, & Ron Eldard

You’ll find the trailer at the film’s official website (here) and it’s worth checking out. Abrams movie trailers are considered amongst trailer enthusiast (yes they exist) to be some of the best, mainly because they seem to stir something inside of us that makes us want to see the film.

Abrams has a very particular style of story-telling and he’s an adept of finding the emotional centre points to drive his love of big explosions and action sequences. To best describe his approach to film making you be best to watch this presentation to TED (here).

It’s a great little presentation and it touches on why some movies work so well and some don’t, and it might give you an insight into why an Abrams film is something to look out for.

Abrams has also taken a punt on the cast with the unknown Joel Courtney taking the lead role, and the likes of Elle Fanning (sister of Dakota). It’s not common for big budget Hollywood movies to take such risks and they can go horribly wrong. We know Abrams invests a great deal of his screen time into the characters, so these kids have a lot resting on their shoulders.

If the early hype is to believed then Super 8 is the movie of 2011 … I won’t miss it, and neither should you.

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