Sunday, December 16, 2012

'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' Review - It's Always Fun to Visit Old Friends on New Adventures

It's been over a decade since moviegoers last set foot in Middle Earth, the world J.R.R. Tolkien created back in his first novel, 'The Hobbit' in 1937. After the massive success of Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, it was only a matter of time before we saw 'The Hobbit' on the big screen. After years of development, and originally being a producer only role on the film, Peter Jackson stepped back behind the camera to bring us back to Middle Earth in the original first chapter of this epic saga. In a move that has become very popular in Hollywood, 'The Hobbit' isn't being told in just one film, but being split into multiple films to tell the story, turning it into a new trilogy. Bringing back some of the fan favorite actors from the original trilogy back, while bringing a whole new array of actors in as the new characters, Jackson has brought us back to Middle Earth in great fashion, but can it live up to the expectations fans have put into their heads for many years, while living up to the previous series? That's what many want to know, but the answer isn't a simple yes or no.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

'Looper' Review- What Would You Do to Save Your Future?

Many have been eagerly anticipating Rian Johnson's followup to 2008's 'The Brothers Bloom' for quite some time now. It feels like it's been at least two years since word first broke of this film entering development, with many hints, set pictures, and interviews trying to get the fans excited for his newest film. Expectations have been high, and thankfully, the film delivers on its promise. Johnson has crafted a gripping, powerful, and dark time traveling sci-fi tale that shows just how far a man will go to save his future. But what if there are two of that man, and they both want very different futures? That is the question that 'Looper' asks, while delving into the deepest and darkest side of human emotion, while winding through violence, mystery, and ultimately, greed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

'Total Recall' Review - A Slick, More Serious Take on the Phillip K. Dick Story

When it was announced that 'Total Recall', the 1990 action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was going to be made, many were very upset by the thought. But I was actually excited by the idea As fun as Arnold's movie may be, it's not exactly how I imagined "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", the Phillip K. Dick short story the movie was based on, being. So for me, this was a chance for the movie to return the roots of the story and start again. And while they're very similar movies, the new version of 'Total Recall' goes for a more serious take on the material, and I think it works in the film's favor. The film, directed by Len Wiseman ('Live Free or Die Hard, 'Underworld') and starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy, and Bryan Cranston is not only a visual treat, but it's a fun take on the material that put a smile on my face from ear to ear from beginning to end.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

'The Amazing Spider-Man' Review - The Spider-Man Movie I've Been Waiting For

Words can't express just how impressed I am with Marc Webb's 'The Amazing Spider-Man'. Many will say that Webb's film is unnecessary reboot, coming just a mere five years after Raimi's final outing, 'Spider-Man 3', but I don't agree. Not only is 'The Amazing Spider-Man' my favorite of all the Spider-Man films so far, but it also one of my favorite comic book adaptations to date. Featuring excellent direction by Webb, an outstanding cast, a strong script, and a great score, there is very little to not love about this movie. This is the movie I've been waiting for since I discovered the Marvel comics as a kid.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

'Brave' Review - Pixar's Moving and Beautiful Tale of Family Soars

When I see the name Pixar, I know that their is quality behind the product. Their are few studios that can hold a candle to the output that Pixar has put out the last twenty five years, be it films or shorts. This is their thirteenth film, and once again, Pixar knocks it out of the park. Many expected that 'Cars 2' was the beginning of the downfall of the company, but that couldn't be farther from the case. Pixar's newest film, 'Brave', is full of the things that I've always loved about their films such as humor, an amazing cast, beautiful animation, adventure, and plenty of heart, while bringing something new to the table: a fairytale. This is, for me, not only one of the strongest films in Pixar's filmography, but one of my personal favorites. 

'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Review - A Bloody Fun Revisionist Take on American History

"History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to wild deeds. History remembers the battle, but forgets the blood. However history remembers me before I was a President, it shall only remember a fraction of the truth..." So begins the opening monologue of director Timur Bekmambetov's adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith's novel 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'. The film follows the secret history of Abraham Lincoln, America's sixteenth president, whose life has been haunted by the undead. As a fan of the book, I couldn't wait to see the movie, but I was cautious going in to believe it could meet my expectations. But thankfully, director Bekmambetov, stars Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, producer Tim Burton, and author Grahame-Smith have made a thrilling, fun, and stylish movie that really fires on all cylinders and never really disappoints.

Friday, May 25, 2012

'Men in Black 3' Review - A Great Sequel to Finish the Series

It's hard to believe that it's been fifteen years since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones graced the screen in those black suits and shades in the first 'Men in Black' film. The film was an instant hit with audiences and critics alike, and helped solidify Will Smith's fame as a box office star. It's been ten years since we've last seen the men in black suits, and I was almost beginning to think that 'Men in Black 2' was going to be the end of the series. But if you know Hollywood, nothing that's worth money is left alone for long, and this series is no exception. After a rather turbulent and unusual production, including a long hiatus and an unfinished script, 'Men in Black 3' arrives this weekend hoping to win over audiences once again in the way the original did. Bringing back Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as Agent J and K, as well as director Barry Sonnenfeld in the director's seat, and a turn by Josh Brolin as a young version of Agent K,  'Men in Black 3' while not a perfect movie, is a vast improvement over its predecessor and a fun way to spend a summer afternoon at the theater. Especially considering the circumstances.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Celebrate 50 Years of Bond With This New Blu-ray Set September 25

I'm a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, I always have been. Going back to when I was young, my dad would show me the older Sean Connery movies, and I instantly fell in love with the suave and cool super spy who worked for M16. Over the years, I fully immersed myself into the world including the books, games, and whatever else I could get my hands on. I loved watching the different things each actor would bring to the role, because each being so different. The six actors, including Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierece Brosnan, and Daniel Craig all brought something new to the role that the previous ones hadn't. Not many movies series last as long, or as well known, as the Bond franchise, and the lasting power really shows how fun, exciting, and timeless the series really is. 

I've owned the series many times over, first on VHS, and twice over on DVD, and I have the select few that are on blu-ray. So I'm pleased to see that Fox is releasing this exciting new box set for blu-ray for Bond fans of all ages. The Bond 50 box set features all twenty two of the official James Bond films (Sorry, Connery fans, but Never Say Never Again is not included.) starting from 'Dr. No' and ending with 'Quantum of Solace'. It even includes the video blogs for this years upcoming film, 'Skyfall', which sees Daniel Craig return for the third time as Bond. I am definitely excited for this, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. It's going to be a fantastic set, and I can't wait to really dig into it's new special features. Hit the jump for the full press release and a look at the special features. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'Dark Shadows' Review - A Misguided Fan Tribute That Doesn't Quite Know What It Wants to Be

I've always been a fan of 'Dark Shadows', ever since I was young and sci-fi channel would air reruns of the cult soap opera from the 1970s. It was something I really looked forward to watching whenever it was on, and while cheesy now, it still had great storytelling and fantastic characters, especially in the late Johnathon Frid's Barnabus Collins, who would go on to become what the show was best known for. There have been two tries at bringing back the franchise since it went off the air, neither of which gained any traction. One of them, the series from the nineties even featured a young Joseph Gordon Levitt as the young David Collins. But some things are just better left alone, and sadly, the same can be said about this newest try at recreating the cult favorite. This time, we have Tim Burton at the helm, with a script written by Seth Grahame-Smith, and starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, and Jackie Earl Haley. The formula sounds like it should be a real winner, but needless to say, the film feels more like a mediocre fan film with a big budget than the great adaptation that it could have been. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

'Marvel's The Avengers' Review - Marvel's Best Film is Epic, Exciting, Fun, and the Best Comic Movie to Date

"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!" Those were the opening words of the first ever Avengers comic book that debuted in 1963. Then in 2008, Marvel placed the first building block of their Marvel cinematic universe in an after credits stinger in Iron Man. Featuring Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, he confronts Tony Stark in his house to talk to him about The Avengers initiative. Marvel had set their goals high, and after five movies and four years of work later, we've finally arrived at the film that everything was building to: The Avengers. And let me say, the wait has been well worth it! Marvel Studios, with the help of Joss Whedon, has given us not only what could be the greatest comic book movie yet, but one of the best action/adventure movies in recent memory.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Archaia Comics: An Amazing Comic Publisher You May Never Heard Of

Up until WonderCon, the only one of the titles that I'd heard of, from very far corners of some of my geek circles, was the Mouse Guard series by David Petersen. But I never ventured off into the realm until last month when I came across the Archaia booth. As I searched through the different graphic novels they offered, I began wondering why I had never really heard of them before. The incredibly intriguing thing, and the thing I love the most, is how much creative freedom their creators are given. Many of their titles are fully drawn and written by the creator, while others work with only their closest collaborators. It gives these books a very different feel from the major comic publishers. There's no crossovers that connect the different series they offer, no real publisher interference that you seem in some cases, nothing like that. This is real, unadulterated, creative freedom at it's finest. It's made me really fall in love with this publisher and the things they put out.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Academy Awards 2012 Predictions

With the Academy Awards being tonight, I've compiled a list of what I'm thinking will go home with the little gold Oscar statue tonight. Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below on my blog, as well as what you think will or won't go home with things tonight. And follow me on Twitter (@pj_campbell) as I live tweet tonight's show!

Friday, February 24, 2012

'John Carter' Review - A Perfect Return to Pulp Fiction Adventure and Science Fiction

For over a hundred years, Edgar Rice Burroughs' eleven book 'Barsoom' series, which began with 'A Princess of Mars', has been an inspiration for many of our most well known science fiction films, and has become a small staple of popular culture. Things like 'Star Wars', 'Avatar', 'Flash Gordon', 'Buck Rogers' as well as authors like Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke have all been inspired by Burroughs and his many characters and their adventures on the planet Barsoom, or as we know it as, Mars. But no character from the series has become more popular over time than John Carter, the hero of many of Burroughs' 'Barsoom' novels. Hollywood has spent many years of attempting to bring John Carter and Barsoom to the big screen, and now Academy award winning director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-e) and Walt Disney Pictures have worked together to finally give this series it's due on the big screen. Stanton has managed to bring the incredible world Burroughs envisioned all those years ago to the big screen in a true pulp fiction style adventure that fans and newcomers alike will fall in love with. This is science fiction, as well as action and adventure, at its finest.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

'Chronicle' Review - A Brilliant Take on Found Footage and Superheroes

When anyone utters the words found footage when talking about movies, I become very hesitant of the film. I'm not usually a fan of found footage features, with a select few such as 'Cloverfield' and 'Rec'. But the idea of a found footage movie dealing with superheroes had me very intrigued, especially one written by Max Landis, the writer of one of my favorite novels, 'World War Z'. Directed by new comer Josh Trank, 'Chronicle' not only is one of the best superhero films that's been made, but also one of the best uses of found footage that's been used.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance' Review - An Unfortunate Misstep For the Marvel Character

It's been five years since Marvel comics Ghost Rider last graced, or crashed and burned in some eyes, in Mark Steven Johnson's movie 'Ghost Rider'. The movie starred Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a man who makes a deal with the Devil to save his father, only to become cursed as a flaming skull vigilante known as Ghost Rider. The movie did well at the box office, but was considered by many to be a wasted opportunity to bring  the character to the big screen. Now Sony has gone back to the character to try again, with the duo behind the 'Crank' series, a new take on the character, and Nicholas Cage back as the anti-hero. But unfortunately, the movie falters out the gate and never quite recovers during it's short running time, making 'Spirit of Vengeance' a very disappointing return to the character.