Defendor – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Peter Stebbings

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Michael Kelly, Sandra Oh, Kat Dennings

Synopsis: Arthur Poppington is a mentally handicapped individual whom dresses up as the vigilante Defendor, with weapons including marbles, angry wasps, and a WWI trench club.   He is on a mission to defeat the villain “Captain Industry”, whom nobody seems to have heard of.   He is assisted by Kat, a prostitute he meets through his crime-fighting deeds.

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Upcoming Genre Films for 2011 Part Deux – A Preview by Film Nerd

First of all thanks to Urban Fantasist for that awesome post.   Consider my appetite whetted.   As you referred to yourself though, there are certain tastes of mine that were not catered to, so here is a preview of 2011 from the perspective of someone who collected comics in high school.

I will be using the same list as Urban Fantasist from io9, but I will extend from there a little bit from a post by blastr featuring the top 55 trailers for films coming out in 2011.   I will of course avoid overlap between these lists.

The Green Hornet (io9, blastr)     January 14

A remake of the series that first captured hearts on radio serials then on television, featuring a rich guy turned vigilante.   The character was created by the guy who brought us The Lone Ranger, and at one point in the radio series it was indicated that the Hornet is descendant of the Ranger.   Directed by Michael Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, it could prove interesting.

I Am Number Four (io9, blastr)     February 18

A group of nine aliens hiding out as teenagers on Earth are hunted down for extermination by the government.   With three down, this film follows the story of the fourth to be targeted.    Based on a novel of the same name.

The Adjustment Bureau (io9, blastr)     March 4

Matt Damon plays a congressman destined for big things, before he meets and falls for Emily Blunt’s ballerina.   He was supposed to never meet her again, but somehow does, and falls in love with her.   The mysterious agency of the title steps in to prevent the relationship, and put our heroes life back on the set path.   Escaping, running, and hiding ensues….

Battle: Los Angeles (io9, blastr)     March 11

Gritty war film with hand-held camera work with visceral closeups, etc.   Oh yeah, and humans are fighting aliens.   Sounds like a great big B-movie, but with a cast headlined by Aaron Eckhart, may prove a hidden gem.

Red Riding Hood (io9, blastr)     March 11

Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman star in this retelling of the classic tale, with the wolf recast as a werewolf connected the past of she with the hood.   Don’t know how Urban Fantasist missed that one, sounds like her cup of tea!!

Paul (io9, blastr)     March 18

Comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as two mates on an American road trip that meet foul mouth alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen.   Some of the gags on the trailer are foul, but delightfully so!!

Sucker Punch (io9, blastr)     March 25

A film by Zack Snyder, who previously brought us 300 and Watchmen.   He does have a talent for absolute visual splendour on-screen, and the trailers indicate this will be no different.   It is hard to get a grasp on what it is about, but seems to be the story of five girls attempting to escape the clutches of evil authority in a mental asylum…or is it a war zone???   Or a bordello??

Super (io9, blastr)     April 1

Okay, so the concept of this sounds very similar to Kick-Ass… average bloke dons a costume to fight crime.   So lacking in originality on that count perhaps.   Just watch the clip posted on blastr though and I dare you not to show some interest!!

Hanna (blastr only) April 8

Eric Bana’s ex-CIA agent trains daughter Saoirse Ronin to be the perfect assassin, with the goal to target Cate Blanchett.    A lot of talent there in that sentence, and a pretty cool concept to boot.    The trailer also kicks butt!!

Your Highness (io9, blastr) April 8

Danny McBride and James Franco reteam with the director of Pineapple Express to star as royal brothers on a rescue mission… a comedy that drags Natalie Portman and my favourite Zooey Deschanel along for the ride.   I am still giggling at the trailer… “What a coincidence, I was just about to finish thinking of you!!”   Hehe.

Thor (io9, blastr)     May 6

The Norse god is exiled to Earth, as reimagined by Marvel Comics.   Mjolnir was spotted after the credits to Iron Man 2, resulting in my second Nerdgasm for that film.   Those that don’t know that this is part of building towards Joss Whedon’s The Avengers should be stripped of their geek badge immediately!!

X-Men: First Class (io9 only)     June 3

The second Marvel movie for 2011.   With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones on board, and Kick-Ass’ Michael Vaughn directing, can we put the travesty of X-Men: The Last Stand behind us???

Green Lantern (io9, bkastr)     June 17

A film based on a DC universe second tier hero.   Ryan Reynolds is good casting, but the CGI costume is still a little off-putting for me.   However, has the potential to be the next Iron Man, whom was one of Marvel’s second tier heroes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (io9, blastr)     July 15

You really want a synopsis for this one?

Captain America: The First Avenger (io9 only)     July 22

The source of my first Nerdgasm in Iron Man 2 was spotting Captain America’s shield partially constructed in Tony Stark’s work room.   Like Thor, this is building to Whedon’s The Avengers, and has Chris Evans donning the tights in what can only be called great casting!

Cowboys and Aliens (io9, blastr)     July 29

James Bond and Indiana Jones!!   The old west!!   Aliens!!    Daniel Craig waits from unconsciousness with a strange device on his arm.   Harrison Ford plays the villain of the piece, that teams with Craig when the bigger threat arrives.   Why didn’t they think of this earlier???

The Thing (io9 only)     October 14

Prequel to John Carpenter’s iconic original.   Stars Joel Edgerton, and personal favourite Mary Elizabeth Winstead, last seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (io9, blastr)     December 16

Downey Jr. and Law return to 221B Baker Street, this time to face the infamous Professor Moriarty.   Be warned, blastr screwed up, the trailer from the first film, not the first trailer for the second!!

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (io9 only) December 23

Steven Spielberg directs his first fully motion capture film.   Peter Jackson produces.   They will be swapping roles for the sequel!!   Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.   Some writing was even done by Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffatt!! Add that element of retro charm and I am sold!

Man, that is a lot of movies…. I hope Bride of Film Nerd doesn’t kill me when we need a second mortgage!!

 

Easy A- A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Hayden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Alyson Michalka, Stanley Tucci

Synopsis: Olive (Stone) was the girl at high school that most people ignore.   That is until rumour spreads that she has lost her virginity.   It is not the case, but given the reputation is there, she plays up to it, and even uses it to help guys in her school that could use a popularity boost, claiming numerous romantic encounters with each.   This incurs the wrath of fellow student Marianne (Bynes), and her cohort of pro-christianity followers.   She further fans the flames by embroidering a red A onto her wardrobe, in reference to the punishment of adulterous Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

A review by Film Nerd.

I cannot begin to express my relief that studios seem to have woken up to the fact that good comedy is not all about pratfalls and fart gags.   It feels like recent so-called comedies have relied all to heavily on these elements, and any hint of intelligence or wit has actually been removed.   However, the last 12 months has seen a change to this trend, starting with The Hangover last year, that did rely on some classic comedy, but had true heart, and was followed by knowing geek comedies Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (click the inserted links to read my reviews of these films).   Easy A continues this trend, injecting the teen comedy with actual humour, heart, and even includes somewhat an element of an homage to the classic John Hughes films of the 1980s.

The story is told in a narrative form, Olive discussing events that have occurred to her in the last few weeks via webcast.   An interesting presentation method, easily identifiable in today’s age of free-flowing information.   It turns out to be more than just a gimmick though, and itself plays an interesting plot-development element.   Emma Stone plays Olive with sass and intelligence, often having the come-backs you wish you thought of at the time.    Beyond this, though, Stone proves to have great range in scenes requiring sympathy for all the guys she helps get over their social inadequacies.   Her range is also in evidence when things inevitably go horribly wrong, at which point her performance is nothing less than heart-breaking.   Stone is fantastic, and is one of my many actresses to watch at the moment.

A film is not made by one cast member alone though, and the supporting cast here are a veritable treasure trove of delights.   Clarkson and Tucci play Olive’s liberal, yet unequivocally understanding parents, and they add quirkiness to the family scenes, which is much more of a delight than the cliché of the strict, overbearing parents.   Hayden Church, Kudrow and McDowell all have little screen time, but each one of them resonates in that space of time.   Her peers at the school do come across as a little more one-dimensional, but that is perhaps a scripting problem as well.   They do fade away in comparison to the delight that is Stone’s Olive.   Perhaps the only exception is Byrd’s Brandon, the first guy she helps who wishes to shed the tag of being a homosexual.   It is a tough role, in that it comments that this subterfuge should not be necessary, yet for the character, the pain of the response from other high school student’s is just too much.   I had only seen Byrd previously on Cougar Town, and on the basis of this performance am keen to see what he does next.

I referred earlier to the fact that events do take a turn for the worse.   Rather than just play on the comedy element, the film does go into the effect that perceptions of promiscuity can have,no matter how unwarranted,  and the devastating effect it can have on a person of being ostracised by one’s peers.    This was already far from being your average comedy, but this addition to the plot is far from being an addition for the sake of drama, but is a natural progression of the events on-screen, and much to the film’s benefit.   Even the resolution of these matters does not come across as tacky, or loosely added on for the sake of a happy ending.   Regardless, you do leave the cinema smiling.

This film is not getting as many cinema sessions here in Sydney as many less-deserving films appear to be, but do not take this as a perception of the quality of the film, only as a perception of what sells.   This is a wonderful with an amusing premise, well written and acted characters, and some absolutely razor-sharp comedy.   A must!

4.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

Easy A on IMDB

Easy A on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNbPnqyvItk]

Kick-Ass

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz

Synopsis: Curious as to why no one has ever really donned a costume and fought crime just like in the comic books, teenager Dave Lizewski buys a wetsuit online to become “Kick-Ass”.   He suddenly finds himself a minor celebrity after taking a beating, however he gets mistaken by crime boss Frank D’Amico as the person interfering with his operations.   The ones responsible, however, are more genuinely highly trained vigilantes, Big Daddy and Hit Girl.

A review by Film Nerd

A lot has already been said about this film, and it gained a reputation, particularly among parental groups, over the level of swearing and violence.   Ok, this is a valid point, if you think you are taking your child to your average Spiderman or Batman feature.   However, allow me to stand on my soap box a bit and say LOOK AT THE RATING PEOPLE!!”   This is a film for mature audiences, despite the presence of an 11 year old assassin.   And if the parental stance is that you have employed an 11yo to drop the c-bomb, Chloe Moretz took on the role of Hit Girl with her own parents’ consent, and watching her on screen shows a performer wise beyond her years, and she strikes me as the type of kid that can distinguish acting from reality!!

Soap box rant over.   I feel it important to cover those facts first, as this is a film that “kicks ass”,  and will be my first ever 5 star review for Film Actually.    If I were to give this a defining genre, it would have to be comedy.   Yes there is violence, as brother of Bride of Film Nerd once stated, scaring Bride of Film Nerd from joining me to see it.   A shame, given her love of comedy.   I feel that she would have enjoyed this film, as despite the violence, more often than not it is done in a comedic way and there is no excess of gore to turn the weak stomached away.

Aaron Johnson takes on the title role, and makes Kick-Ass his own.   Despite some intentionally cringe-worthy moments, you can’t help barracking for the guy.   Mark Strong once again portrays one of the most delightful of villains, and Christoppher Mintz-Plasse as his son trying to make dad proud shows there is more to this guy than Superbad’s McLovin.   The show however, belongs to Cage and Moretz, who chew up the scenes together and give the real entertainment backbone of the movie.   Moretz even outshines a back in form Cage, but when he dons the Big Daddy costume and channels Adam West’s 1960s Batman, it is absolutely priceless.

So yes, this is a violent, cuss-heavy film.   But did that ever turn anyone awat from Tarantino, whose films generally contain a lot more of both??   If you like comedy, and you are not easily offended, see this film yesterday!

5 stars (out of a possible 5)

Kick-Ass on IMDB

Kick-Ass on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrKHu2UX1vA]