An alien from planet Krypton crash lands on Earth and is raised by a couple from Kansas who protect him from the world as he matures into one of the most powerful beings in existence: the whole of Earth is no doubt familiar with Superman‘s origin story by now – whether from comic books or film, odds are you’re aware of Kal-El/aka Clark Kent/aka Supes. So in launching Man Of Steel  director Zack Snyder has taken a risk tackling the iconic character and risking Super-franchise fatigue from the get go. But with the guidance of Legendary Pics producer Christopher Nolan, screenwriter David S. Goyer and composer Hans Zimmer, he manages to add a few twists to Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster beloved Superman mythology, creating a film that – while not exactly fresh – is nevertheless chock-full of a vibrant confidence and plenty of tentpole swagger to justify the relaunch of a once proud franchise. Moments of bad dialogue and heavy-handed (unavoidable) exposition aside, Man Of Steel gets so much correct that it should have no problems ushering in a new flock of fans. Huge scope, high stakes and grand action sequences make this pound for pound the most entertaining Superman film to date – though NOT the BEST FILM – that’s undeniably Richard Donner & Christopher Reeve‘s Superman . I’m just saying this film is a huge tentpole that will easily step on a lot of this season’s blockbuster hopes with its huge red boots. This is no small feat when you consider the franchise was near death following the last attempt at a reboot, Superman Returns . The interesting thing about Man Of Steel is its unusual narrative, loaded with flashbacks that could have been a mess but instead mirror the fractured mind of a person… um, alien… who is lost and confused, a Stranger in a Strange Land. And it works; the structure IS Superman. The minds behind Man Of Steel were smart not to try to emulate the earnestness we associate with the John Williams anthem-ed classic, instead creating a character that is larger than even the filmmakers themselves. And their interpretation works. Aided by a truly remarkable performance from Henry Cavill, there’s a ton of emotion on top of two tons of action, creating a character who’s accessible despite his super-humanity. He’s just plain likable; the ultimate boy scout, lonely and lost, a tortured soul who happens to go by the name of Kal-El from Krypton. Cavill fills the larger than life role with great poise, and while there’s no red underwear on display (sorry ladies), rest assured the dude looks a’ight in that S suit. And the supporting cast is super tight too: Kevin Costner brings irascible heart to protective foster parent Jonathan Kent, Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Take Shelter, and the classic Michael Shannon Reads the Insane Delta Gamma Sorority Letter video short) brings his notorious crazy eyed intensity to self-righteous heavy General Zod, while Antje Traue steals the show as Faorah-Ul, an instant classic badass! And the action sequences!?!? Exactly what you’d expect if Supes was real: mass destruction courtesy of pissed-off Kryptonians, with Metropolitans (residents of Metropolis?) caught in the crossfire. So much carnage it’s almost another in the line of apocalypse films. And since with huge scope comes huge cost you’ll find yourself snickering at some in-your-face-product-placement in all that smoldering rumble! In short, I had a damn good time, and hope DC Comics uses this as the bar when they attempt the inevitable sequel. So if you’re tired of superhero flicks I’ve got bad news for you: if they continue to be this bold and adventurous they’re here to stay.
June 20, 2013 No Comments
Most franchises fizzle out, lose steam or simply get run into the ground. In some rare cases – I’m looking at you Harry Potter - they actually get better and better as they approach the end of their saga. The Marvel run (separated chronologically into “Phase 1″ and “Phase 2″) shows no sign of dissipating as it aims for the upper echelon of comic book cinematic history. Simply put, Iron Man 3 is a solid chapter in Tony Stark’s arc, that rare third installment that’s strong enough to stand alone and smart enough to mine the past. But you’re one of the critics who hated Iron Man 2 (2010). You ask me, “Hey Rockie, what makes this IM so special?” Well, look no further than the film’s director - Shane Black, who’s has been a consistent Hollywood talent for decades, the man who pioneered blending hard R action with hard R humor like some crazy sleazy alchemist. His scripts for the Lethal Weapon films (directed by Richard Donner) still impress with their seamless blend of action and character, and my personal favorite - The Last Boy Scout (1991) - is a sublime marriage of Black’s WTF? loaded script with Tony Scott‘s slick direction. And who knew that his directorial debut, the underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) would be a hint of things to come – as he then joined up with Robert Downey Jr. for a voiceover-fueled neo-noir and now does so again, on a much grander scale. Over the course of Black’s IM3, as Tony Stark has to dig deep to conquer his problems, we get a glimpse of that sardonic, action-packed, character-centric humor that made Black a millionaire screenwriter. When we meet Stark he’s reeling from the New York attack that took place in The Avengers, manically struggling to juggle his Mach suits and personal life, and feeling vulnerable and exposed. He’s a man with a lot of gadgets who’s in constant need of human support: whether from his constantly put-upon girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), complete strangers (he teams up with a small boy in whom he sees a lot of himself), or the hilariously named Iron Patriot (Don Cheadle), a militarized version of Stark himself. When a new terrorist threat (The Mandarin – an instant classic thanks to Sir Ben Kingsley and some clever writing) invades the defenses of the President Of The United States (what the William Sadler!?), Tony’s arrogant hubris bubbles over – a theme intrinsic to the Iron Man series and character. Not only does Stark have the Mandarin to deal with but also AIM – a group of scientists led by Guy Pearce – which IM3 ushers into the Marvel film world for no doubt future fun. All this – and the steady array of innovative Mach suits concocted by the brains behind IM3 - makes for a wonderful mix of action/adventure which will dazzle and amaze. There are some great supporting roles on display, including Rebecca Hall, adding some twitchy-face action, and the underrated James Badge Dale (check him out in my personal fave The Grey) as an explosively scene-chewing henchman. And have I mentioned this film is hilarious, with well-placed humor nicely balancing the action out? I have? Ok. Point is I loved Iron Man 3 because it manages to do everything right, taking elements of part one (the prototype tech and ‘geez, I hope this works’ shenanigans), elements of part 2 (‘A God Can Bleed!’), and introducing us to new elements (War Machine/Iron Patriot), all while managing to entertain and never stalling in the process. And by turning Stark into a humbled human this installment has made him into an even greater hero, one you actually care about. It’s a solid “Phase 2″ kick-off with Shane Black proving he’s the man for this (and other) job(s). Hey Marvel: more like this please!
May 8, 2013 No Comments
BATTLE ROYALE up on the big screen where it belongs! In Austin!
Austinites rejoice! Spearheaded by our very own IsleOfCinemite Rockie [
@RockieWarAntz], IOC is proud to present a very special treat for fans of fantastic film in Central Texas! April 25th, 2013 – MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
As many of you already know, Kinji Fukasaku‘s Battle Royale (2000) - the GREATEST movie of the 21st Century – was never shown theatrically in the U.S. of A. This travesty is now being corrected, and here’s your chance to see this masterpiece as it was intended – with a crowd of fans in a packed freakin’ theater!
I’ll spare you more superlatives because there is simply nothing I can say to do this movie justice. All you need know is that it is the culmination of one of the finest directorial careers of all time, that rare cinematic beast that satisfies heart, mind, soul – and hunger for action! I’m serious – if Luis Buñuel, Seijun Suzuki, Jack Hill, Peter Jackson, Samuel Fuller, Steven Spielberg, Álex de la Iglesia, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Dante, Brian DePalma and several more of your favorite filmmakers (and some you never heard of) had a celluloid baby this would be it. THIS WOULD BE IT! Or forget all those names and just know that it’s a goddamm Kinji Fukasaku film!
So gather all ye Austinites! If you’re a fan of J.J. Abrams‘ Lost, if you’re a fan of The Hunger Games (nobody’s judging), of The Running Man (1987), if you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, Lord of Illusions, Lord of the Dance, Traci Lords - hell if you possess a set of eyes in your skull -
YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE!!!
And check out a great scene from the movie, previously featured here !
We need your asses in the seats to make this happen! So go sign up to see it now! April 25th, 2013 – but you have until the 18th to purchase tickets!
April 1, 2013 1 Comment
REWIND THIS! had its world premiere at SXSW and IOC was were!
Josh Johnson‘s ode to the VHS age, Rewind This! (2013) opens with a film enthusiast combing a flea market for VHS tapes, overflowing with the sort of passion any and all global VHS hunters (and film lovers) will immediately recognize. This image sets the tone for the love story to follow, between human film fanatics and the dead format known to Gen X‘ers as VHS. As some of you may recall I interviewed Josh before the film’s completion (here), as he, Carolee Mitchell and Christopher Palmer set out to tackle the subject none had dared tackle before them. And now, seeing the final result, it’s safe to say that their film will go down as a definitive work: an in-depth documentary that dives into the history of VHS, from it’s inception to its demise (Betamax is touched upon but as victor of the format war the spoils go to VHS). We get a glimpse into some incredible VHS collections, owned by people eager to proudly show them off and explain how they acquired their precious and rare finds. Although loaded with local Austin film junkies and VHS collectors, Rewind This! manages to broaden its horizons by traveling the globe: to Japan, where legendary Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii explains his relationship to the format and how he became “spoiled”by it. To Canada, where Exotica director Atom Egoyan explains the magic in discovering the uses you could get out of VHS. Film critics offer perspectives as well, including heavy hitters like Drew McWeeney and James Rocchi, and what emerges is a well-rounded portrait of more than just a format but a moment in time. Having grown up in video stores (and currently employed by one) my favorite moment is director Frank Henenlotter explaining the unique feature on his sublime horror comedy Frankenhooker‘s VHS box: press a button and hear a reanimated prostitute ask you “Wanna date?” This prompts a montage of several other VHS junkies explaining the same feature, and results in the sort of rush of recognition shared by enthusiasts across the world: I personally hit that damn button a million times with every visit to the video store! But beyond my own attachment to VHS, Rewind This! is an essential historical document. Without the VHS boom there’d be no video stores, no developments in home video, no DVR, no making films in the backyard with friends and family, and none of the thousands of future filmmakers mesmerized by aisles of VHS boxes sitting like dreams up on video store shelves. As we inch closer to an all-digital age, where all is streaming with little to no physical media at all, the younger generations of film-aficionados can now fully understand the foundation – because it was during the VHS age that true cinematic passion thrived, and that passion today fuels all their cult/weird/action-packed journeys into the incredible – be they film or interactive gaming or whatever. Like Not Quite Hollywood (2008) and Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) before it, Rewind This! will whet your appetite for rare films to add to your collection, but with the added bonus of causing you to scour the earth hunting for a VHS player the second you finish watching it. Powerful stuff, and a must see for cinephiles everywhere!
March 20, 2013 2 Comments