The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that classic leading man from The Comancheros, The Longest Day and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines has died in his home in Montecito yesterday. He was also known for his performance in the television show Cimarron Strip as well has for his performance in The Mark, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. According to to the article, "Whitman did get nominated for best actor but lost out to Judgment at Nuremberg's Maximilian Schell — whose sister, Maria, played Whitman's love interest in The Mark. "Maria told me she didn't know who to vote for that year!” he said."
Whitman began his on screen career in 1951's When Worlds Collide, appearing in numerous films and television shows all the way up until 2000. His work had a huge range of genres, from westerns to suspenseful crime to creature features. After his half of century of acting, he retired to his 30-acre Santa Barbara area ranch and worked in real estate.
I have to just come right out and say that I love that Disney has made a fantasy film for young adults! To make magical and mythical creatures cool again was just a joy to see. But of course we all know that Pixar like to take our hearts, tear it into tiny little shreds, and then rebuild it lovingly and send us out with a nice hug.
The story is about two brothers whom the elder one barely knew his dad and the youngest wasn't even born when he died. Via some magic handed down to them, they were given a chance to bring their dad back for one day. Of course, the spell doesn't work out so well and they are only able to bring back his lower half. So the brothers set out on a quest to find another magical source so they can get a chance to see their dad one last time.
Reading that synopsis probably gives you the idea that this movie probably isn't for little kids, and I don't think it is! This is a far more mature story than I think younger kids would have a harder time to wrap their heads around it. Sure there are moments of pure slapstick comedy like any great animated film would have, but the story team at Pixar took the broken heart of a broken family and was able to put those feelings into the audience. Pixar has mastered the sorcery of making audiences feel exactly what they want you to, and that just proves their writing and storytelling skills are almost always firing on all cylinders. If you grew up with a broken family, you can't help but be touched in someway by this film. Be prepared!
Of course all the magic that Disney could conjure up still didn't arrive without some flaws. For me, some Pixar films made my jaw hit the floor with it's near photo-realistic rendering. I'm thinking of more recent films like Cars 3 or Finding Dory. But this one, although beautiful shots were throughout, felt a little stale. Maybe it was the extra characters all looked too similar and not so different. Maybe the animation seemed to be more "cartoonish" than watching how cars drive and fish swim. But then in the other hand, this is a fantasy film! You can't expect any realism to it. However, the charm is this is about taking Lord of the Rings and putting it in a contemporary setting, and doing it with charm and heart. I will also point out, when the brother voiced by Chris Pratt, talks about his last time he saw his father was near identical of his Guardians of the Galaxy character's moment with his mother. Ironically, his brother is voiced by Tom Holland, who is probably the best incarnation of Spider-Man, and shared screen-time with Pratt in the last two Avengers movies. With this said, I really want to see a live-action movie with these two in it!
Go see Onward and be prepared to have your heart touched as magic runs from opening frame to the last. Also, get there early to see Disney's attempt of making The Simpsons short cartoon the prelude to the feature (which I'm not sure how I feel about, to be honest). It's going to be great for the older kids, which is probably why The Simpsons made it's appearance here. And if you love fantasy films, Dungeons & Dragons or anything with magic, you'll love going Onward.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Well... I didn't see that coming.
Going into this movie, I wasn't looking for much more than a relaunch of the movie originally intended for Universal's Dark Universe. This was Universal's response to Disney/Marvel and Warner Brother's own comic book universes, where all the stand alone characters in their intellectual properties would collide. The film was originally slated to include Johnny Depp as the titular character, but it was scrubbed and turned into this film after The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, failed to launch the franchise after the one movie. A movie with Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's monster was also canceled. Personally, I didn't think The Mummy was all that bad and I was excited to see Universal embrace the property they have: their monsters. So admittedly, I was not excited to see the scraps of this movie after the Dark Universe collapsed into a cinematic black hole, but I'm glad I saw it!
This movie is not without it's many faults, and in someways does feel like Frankenstein's monster lurching around the screen, but take it for what it is. It's a suspenseful and psychological thriller that has it's origins in a classic monster movie. Lots of shots of empty hallways, doorways and other empty space that by the end of the movie you're convinced there's an invisible man standing there, waiting for the right moment to mess with your head. Leigh Whannell, of the Saw films, does a fantastic job of building suspense, even though it's incredibly predictable.
Elisabeth Moss does a fantastic job of having one foot in reality and still battling the mental games her ex is playing with her while he can't be seen. If you've seen her in The Handmaid's Tale, it's very similar acting, or maybe even characters. But she does sell the situation and the movie would not be able to have any legs if it wasn't for her performance. Overall, this movie does have it's moments jump-scares and brooding music, but it also has it's moments of "we all saw that coming."
There was a not so subtle cameo (more like mention) of the Central Coast, and I didn't see it coming either. Elisabeth Moss' character is an alumni of Cal Poly Architecture School, and is evident by the sweatshirt she wears, degrees on the wall and mentioned during a job interview. Seeing the movie on the Central Coast is bound to have someone shout out, "Hey, Cal Poly!" like it's a hidden cameo, but it's something that you really can't miss.
This movie is a fun that I wish was still in the Universal monster universe roster, but still happy with the results.
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Here's a trailer for the 2017's Dark Universe by Universal:
Variety is reporting that Spielberg has left the director's chair for long awaited Indiana Jones 5 movie, scheduled to begin production sometime this summer. According to Variety, who had the exclusive news, that "Ford v Ferrari director James Mangold is in talks to take the job. Mangold has been put in this situation before when he took over the Wolverine franchise; 2017’s Logan was a blockbuster, grossing $619 million globally, and earning Mangold an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay."
The film has been "in the works" since Disney announced it back in 2016, and subsequently has seen many delays. It is unclear if this will cause another delay, with production only a few months away. Spielberg is still set to remain on the project as a producer, but this is the first time in 39 years he will not be sitting at the director's chair. One project that delayed Indiana Jones was Spielberg's involvement with his upcoming remake of West Side Story, set to be released later this year. Harrison Ford is still attached to the project, for now, as he has been talking about his involvement as he went on his press tour for his recent release, Call of the Wild.
Spielberg is not the first crew member to step down from their role for this film. Screenwriter David Koepp left the project and Jonathan Kasdan, son of Lawrence Kasdan, came in to finish the script, causing another delay. Disney is also undergoing a major change with CEO Bob Iger stepping down effective immediately yesterday, and so upper Disney brass might be also influx. According to Variety's report, both Disney and Spielberg are declining to comment on the matter.
The last film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Krystal Skull, did feature local Central Coast iconic town of Morro Bay, standing in for Cuba during it's iconic "map sequence." You can see Morro Rock and the tall smoke stacks that are a staple of Morro Bay.
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The Call of the Wild is a tremendously famous novel by Jack London and many versions have been done with this. So now, Twentieth Century Studios (formerly Fox and now owned by Disney), sets out in telling this tale using CGI animals.
Watching this movie I felt like this movie was made specifically for substitute teachers to play during their classroom coverages. It touches, and glosses, over lots of the history behind the novel and it is obviously made with a younger audience in mind. Which is fine, only the material is very hard to adapt for a younger audience. I don't think Jack London had that in mind. It's fascinating to see how the film was marketed, showing Harrison Ford with the dog named "Buck." Ford does a good job with the screen time he has, but he's maybe in the film for about a third of the total run time. He plays an individual with a troubled past and running to the ends of the world to find peace. I wish we had that movie instead.
This story follows "Buck" for the entire movie. From spoiled house dog, to (spoilers) becoming leader of a wolf pack. But along with all the gorgeous nature shots, the experience to me felt a little cheated by all the CGI. It was all very artificial, which still may work with younger audiences, but felt like it was almost a lazy conversation on set of "we'll fix that in post." Also, when the animals are more animated and show more emotion than your on camera actors, that's a bit of a problem if you want to have a more serious film. Also there's some great actors in this film who have a "blink and you missed it" role, which just makes them feel wasted to me.
So take it for what it is: a very mature story told through a cartoon dog's eyes. Then you'll have a decent time.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
So, I have to admit something. I went into this movie with very low expectations. The film currently has only a 64% rating on RottenTomatoes critic score, but I saw it had a 94% audience rating. I don't put too much stock in the audience score, just because of the way people can just trash (or love) movies with or without cause. And so 64% was relatively low. I had my four-year-old daughter with me over President's Day weekend and we decided to go see this movie together. I was wondering how she'd respond to the movie, being someone who played the video game as a kid I know the material well, but she's going in cold turkey. And now I'll admit something else, the movie whole heartedly deserves that audience score as well as the "A" rating on CinemaScore.
This movie wasn't as nostalgic to the games as I had thought, but that's not bad. There was enough little nods and winks, especially at the beginning and end, to keep me happy. But for the most part it was a fresh take on this character and those around him. I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie in almost every way. I also want to especially thank this movie for giving us the Jim Carrey that we all knew and loved from his earlier career. His performance was the typical zany, over-the-top and wild character we come to love. I'm thinking like Ace Ventura, The Mask, or even Liar, Liar. Here he's the super-villain and plays to that perfectly and it's be-a-utiful to watch again. James Marsden also has a history of doing films that don't take themselves too seriously, but he does each of those roles with heart and charm and it works incredibly well in this movie. I loved his work in the X-Men series, but here it's more like Hop, 27 Dresses or Enchanted kind of charm.
Sonic himself is fine too. He doesn't have too much character arc, and it's really about the characters he's interacting with. The cast of characters that are supporting this movie are top notch. Even Neal McDonough from Desperate Housewives and Captain America had a small, throw away part in this movie. But everything is done with heart, even in the over the top zany elements. As long as the audience can suspend their disbelief, they're going to enjoy. And judging from audience reactions, they're able to do that with ease and really enjoy this movie!
The movie isn't without it's faults, and is of course a kids movie. But it's engaging, not overly on-the-nose and has great moments. Parents will enjoy this movie too as the humor is primarily in good taste, but there's plenty of laugh out loud moments. This is something that the whole family will enjoy, even if you don't like the video game, it's a fun film. Far more entertaining than I thought it would be.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Last night was Hollywood history! Many stars gathered for the annual Academy Awards. Parasite, made major history with four wins, including Best Picture and Best International Feature, and took home the big wins of the night. Other films that did well were 1917 getting three awards, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Ford v Ferrari and Joker got two a piece. All other winners were the only one for their movie. Netflix's The Irishman was the only Best Picture nominated movie that was shut out with no wins in any category. But Netflix won't complain too much as Laura Dern secured the company it's first acting Oscar for Marriage Story.
What do you think of the Academy's decision last night? Agree? Disagree? Let us know!
Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon Ho, Producers
ACTOR, LEADING ROLE
ACTRESS, LEADING ROLE
Once upon a Time... in Hollywood
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Toy Story 4
Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen and Jonas Rivera
Bong Joon Ho
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone
Ford v Ferrari
Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
Music by Elton John, Lyric by Bernie Taupin
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
The Neighbors' Window
Ford v Ferrari
Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy
Screenplay by Taika Waititi
Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won
Story by Bong Joon Ho
As a followup to Warner Brother's attempted expansion of their DC Universe, Birds of Prey follows up directly after the events from 2016's Suicide Squad. Which almost is as insane as Arkham's inmates, if you look at the Rotten Tomatoes score of Suicide Squad sitting at a 27% fresh critic rating and a 59% audience rating. But I suppose if you see the film made over $700 million at the box office Suicide Squad brought in, I suppose you can see a sequel coming. And actually, Birds of Prey is more of a spin-off than a real sequel and to put it bluntly... it's a mess.
It is without a doubt that Harley Quinn is one of the most popular villains of the DC Universe, and if you've ever been to any Con (convention), you will see hoards of Harley Quinn cosplays. So banking on the love of the character is exactly what Warner Brothers is doing here. They do finally seem to be taking a cue from Marvel, in that they can't be so damn serious all the time and they need to diversify their portfolio. I look to Wonder Woman 1984 as a hopeful sign this is continuing, but this movie can't seem to take anything seriously. Grant it, the movie is really called Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and so the entire movie is made with her as the narrator. This does work to benefit the movie and has some nice comedic timing to it, but most of everything else is lost.
Each of the characters in the movie feel as well rounded as a square peg. To his credit, Ewan McGregor does stand out in a predominantly female cast as the super villain, Black Mask. I always enjoy watching actors we don't normally see as bag guys really get down and dirty. And in Birds of Prey's hard R rating, you see plenty of that. Not that it's a bad thing, but many times I was just thinking, "this was inspired by Deadpool." Similar to The Gentlemen, there are no real good guys here, except for the one cop who gets fired, probably because of the obscene shirt she is forced to wear.
There are times when I found myself enjoying bits and pieces of the movie, just because I was going on this ride. Which most of the times was literally dumb luck, or as I see it, just lazy writing. These Birds of Prey seem to just have laid a rotten egg.
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Kirk Douglas passed away today, according to his son, Michael Douglas' social media, Variety reports. Michael says his father, "leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet."
He is best known for his role in Spartacus, which included scenes shot here on the Central Coast at the famous destination of Hearst Castle. He has also won an honorary academy award. Douglas was also a WWII veteran and former Broadway star. But beyond this career, Douglas did lots of philanthropic work.
Variety reports that "Douglas and his wife Anne donated millions for the construction of the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion at the Motion Picture & Television Fund for residents with Alzheimer’s. Funds were also donated to the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles Mission; the Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City; Sinai Temple in Westwood; and the Kirk Douglas Scholarship fund at Douglas alma mater St. Lawrence U.
Survivors include his wife Anne; three sons: actor-producer Michael and producers Joel and Peter; and at least seven grandchildren. His youngest son, Eric, died in July 2004."
With The Original Broadway Cast.
Filmed onstage at The Richard Rodgers Theatre.
In A Theater Near You.
October 15, 2021
That's what the tweets said coming from the official Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda pages. It looks like Disney is taking on the screen adaptation with the original cast. Disney and Miranda are no strangers to working together, including working closely on the lukewarm Marry Poppins Returns film, but also having him help with a song featured in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
According to Variety, Miranda said: “I fell in love with musical storytelling growing up with the legendary Howard Ashman-Alan Menken Disney collaborations — ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘Beauty and The Beast,’ ‘Aladdin,'” Miranda said. “I’m so proud of what Tommy Kail has been able to capture in this filmed version of ‘Hamilton’ — a live theatrical experience that feels just as immediate in your local movie theater. We’re excited to partner with Disney to bring the original Broadway company of ‘Hamilton’ to the largest audience possible.”
Hamilton debuted on Broadway in 2015 and won numerous accolades, including 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for drama.