Friday, May 10, 2013

'The Great Gatsby' - C+ (Voice Over D-)

Let me first state, I love Baz Luhrmann.  I love his visuals, I love the music choices, I love his casting.  I love his amazing wife Catherine Martin, for whom nothing that is his could exist.  A perfect yin to his yang.

Let me also state, useless voice over, as a plot device, needs to be stopped.  It is the item MOST used to move a bad script along.  Writers, your audience isn't stupid.  They can figure out that a character is driving a car or walking down the street WITHOUT being told it's happening.

Now you see my dilemma when watching 'The Great Gatsby.'  It is visually the perfect foible to the loud, crass crap that litters the Summer viewing season.  However, it is been soiled with one of the WORST voice overs ever!  Leonardo Dicaprio is sublime.  However, DiCaprio seems almost superfluous in some scenes, as the miscast Tobey Maguire’s voice-over narrates Gatsby's actions faster than he can complete them.  By the end of the film, I was rolling my eyes and hoping for another one of the fantastic songs to drown out my urge to climb through the screen and throttle Mr. Maguire.

The supporting cast was perfect, Isla Fisher particularly.  The heavily CGI film was beautiful, but I can not forgive that they gave the tone of the film over to a butcher, yes, Mr. Maguire, I mean you.

Pros - 
- Soundtrack, with major credit to Jay-Z, as Luhrmann films always do, delivers.
- Visual stunning
- The dynamic between Leonardo Dicaprio and Joel Edgerton ('Zero Dark Thirty'/Star Wars I and II) almost saved the film for me.

Cons -
- Tobey Maguire - PLEASE SHUT UP!!!!!  You are a poor representation of almost the same character played by Ewan McGregor in 'Moulin Rouge.'  Very, very poor casting.  
- Not every metaphor needs to be visually displayed.  Again, the audience is not stupid.
- Carey Mulligan, one of my favourite Doctor Who heroines, has reduced to simpering and whining and by the end, I could care less.  Watch her in 'An Education' or the amazing 'Drive,' but don't expect a lot here.  She is mostly wasted.

Pagan Content - None

Friday, May 3, 2013

Edgar Wright Screens SHAUN OF THE DEAD and Debuts UK Trailer for THE WORLD’S END; SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD Cast Joins Him for Encore Screening


Just last night, writer-director Edgar Wright participated in a pair of Q&As at screenings of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as part of Entertainment Weekly’s ongoing CapeTown Film Fest.  In addition to providing fans some behind-the-scenes trivia on both films, Wright also debuted the UK trailer for his conclusion to the Three Flavours Cornetto / Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy, The World’s End.  While Wright asked the audience not to reveal too much about it before it’s released next week, I can say that it certainly looks to be in line with the previous two films and is intended to tie the entire trilogy together.  As for what else Wright had to say, hit the jump.
edgar wrightOn the topic of The World’s End, you can get a brief look at footage from the movie here.  The story centers on five childhood friends (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie MarsanPaddy Considine and Martin Freeman) going through an epic pub crawl in order to reach the fabled pub which the movie is named after.  During their crawl, they discover that the fate of humankind is on the line.  Also starring Rosamund Pike,  The World’s End  opens in the U.K. on July 19th and in the U.S. on August 23rd.
Here’s a recap of Wright’s trivia from the Q&A sessions:
  • Other possible titles for Shaun of the Dead were Tea Time of the Dead and Dave of the Dead. 
  • A British TV station that only chooses one word to censor left in every instance of the word “fuck” and chose to replace the one utterance of the word “cunt” with “cock” instead.
  • Obviously a big fan of George Romero’s work, Wright wanted Shaun of the Dead to be set in the same world as Dawn of the Dead, but with a very British take on it.
  • Romero was actually the first person outside of the production to see the finished film.  Upon viewing it, he called Wright and gave him his reaction, calling it, “Classy.”
  • Wright had additional Foree Electric name badges made up for Romero and star Ken Foree.  Foree’s original said “Assistant Manager” but was quickly changed to “Manager.”
  • The idea for the Cornetto trilogy started with the ice cream brand itself, which is Wright’s go-to cure for a hangover.  Since Pegg and Frost’s characters are hungover during the morning of the zombie outbreak, Wright thought it would be funny for Ed (Frost) to ask Shaun (Pegg) for one when he makes a trip to the shop.  At the premiere for Shaun of the Dead, free Cornetto ice creams were made available for everyone courtesy of the brand’s company.  Pegg and Wright thought this was great so they decided to work Cornetto in to their Hot Fuzz screenplay because: free ice cream.
  • In addition to the mention of Cornetto – which will be the green mint chocolate chip-flavored variety this time around - The World’s End will seek to tie in the other two films into a true trilogy.
  • shaun_of_the_dead_nick_frost_simon_peggOn Pegg’s character, Wright said that Shaun is an every-man who isn’t trying to save the world but is just trying to survive the day, Nicholas Angel of Hot Fuzz is a stand-up guy trying to do the right thing who lands in the middle of everything going wrong, and Gary King in The World’s End is completely wild and begins to think that, yes, perhaps he is the reason that bad things are happening.
  • Wright revealed that everyone who starred in either Shaun of the Dead orHot Fuzz will be seen in The World’s End.
  • Joining Wright on stage for Scott Pilgrim were cast members Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Brandon Routh and Satya Bhabha, plus comics creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.
  • Bhabha had a great story about auditioning for the role.  Although Bhabha lived near Wright in London, he knew that Wright wasn’t looking for any British actors for the film.  Bhabha put on a convincing American accent for the audition and won the part of the first Evil Ex, Matthew Patel.
  • As for the controversial ending of the film versus the eventual end of the O’Malley comics, O’Malley hadn’t written his own ending during the film’s production and he gave his blessing for the filmmakers to end it as they saw fit.  A version was drawn up that would have had Scott ending up with Knives (Ellen Wong) and then showing a moment of doubt in his final decision.  Wright said that Wong was far too sweet and he couldn’t do that to her, plus the alternate version almost caused fist fights to break out over dissenting reactions of audience members at a test screening.
  • For all of the film’s visual and special effects accents, getting the rights to use and change the color of so many branded t-shirts proved especially time consuming.  They had to ask the Smashing Pumpkins for permission to use their shirt design and change it to green – simply because that’s how O’Malley drew it – while scouring the internet for O’Malley’s inspiration for a scrawled The Kinks shirt; they also asked Sharpie if they could use their logo for a completely new shirt.
  • Much attention was paid to the color palette of the film; the t-shirts are simply a visual anchor for that.
  • O’Malley took his wife on their first date in the same park location that Scott and Ramona date in the movie.
  • Before screening Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Wright treated the audience to the live-action proof-of-concept treatment for Ant-Man.  It’s the same video that was shared with Comic-Con attendees, which is a fully-realized version of this storyboard sequence.
Be sure to come back Tuesday when the new trailer for Wright’s The World’s End makes its debut!