Riding Under the Radar with “Premium Rush”

Premium Rush

Feel the rush with Premium Rush.

In this hot and blockbuster heavy summer it’s nice to cap it off with a nice un-CGI-filled thrilling action flick like Premium Rush. The story is relatively simple: a dedicated bike messenger, Wilee played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is given the responsibility to carry a hot and wanted package from point A to point B. Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon), a dirty cop who takes matters into his own hands, loses a few thousand dollars in a Chinese gambling game requires Wilee’s delivery. As the movie begins we don’t know what the significance of the contents of the envelop entails but by clever storytelling we eventually realize the emotional import behind it.

The strongest element about Premium Rush is its storytelling. It has a very Reservoir Dogs -esque technique of jumping to the inciting incidents to reveal the purpose of the plot rather than a traditional linear style. The editing superimposes Wilee’s different routes and shows what time it is (which is a relevant to the plot) to help the pace of the movie and feel of the movie.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on-point in his performance, as he always is. This is his first top-billed role, not being supportive like in Inception or The Dark Knight Rises or having to share the lead role like in (500) Days of Summer, so this a simple test for the studios to see if he can carry the lead by himself. The exceptions of this might be 50/50 and Hesher His next endeavor at the box office is Looper who he shares with the infamous Bruce Willis but after that he has to get those excellent stand-alone roles to establish himself as a credible long-lasting star. Michael Shannon’s dirty, unpredictable cop was infectious to watch. Truthfully, I thought that he was on acid the whole time. Other than these two performances the other actors weren’t too noteworthy or memorable.

As for the movie itself, it could have used a little work. The laughs were few, far between and not too witty. It lacked a certain character to serve as a driving force to be able to properly entertain an audience. The plot and action scenes (even if they were a little repetitive) were the only forces that drove it because it was easy to follow and was original enough to hold anyone’s attention.

Bottom line is that it’s a good enough movie to enjoy in an Air-Conditioned room with comfy chairs to escape the summer heat and rest before school starts. Premium Rush isn’t a game-changer in the film industry nor does it promise to be. It’s popcorn munching fun but nothing more or less than that.

Did you see it this weekend? Will you see it? If you did, then what did you think?

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Trailer Tuesday: Seven Psychopaths

Yes, it is late on Tuesday making it an almost Trailer-Wednesday. And yes, my promised post on critics and audience is long overdue but I’m in a transition period especially because school is starting. Be patient. I’ll be more consistent. 

What I love about movies is ORIGINAL screenplays with the writer of said screenplay directing it. It’s something special when an artist with a vision can directly translate his/her vision to the screen without any kind of expectations from previous source material or anyone else’s biases to get in the way. Martin McDonagh is the man behind Seven Psychopaths. I’m not crazy about his history but mostly because there isn’t any. In Bruges seems to be his only cinematic endeavor and I haven’t even heard of that film before writing this article.

Take a look and tell me what you think.

What is drawing me toward this movie is the direct and self-conscious absurdity that it has. I mean, the inciting incident involves the petnapping of a shiatsu. Mix that in with loose-cannoned characters with guns, it then promises to be a crazy ride.

Starring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken and is slated to his theaters mid-October.

Trailer Tuesday: Red Dawn

In the day and age of remakes and reboots I was surprisingly not surprised by the remake of the 1984  classic Red Dawn. I don’t know, I just thought that it wasn’t too popular in its day or had any kind of demand here in 2012. Not once have I heard someone say, “Man, remember Red Dawn? That movie was the shiz. They should remake that.” Well, even without demand here it is.

1984’s version was inspired by the aftermath of the Red Scare where the US of A was scared crap-less of nuclear bombs, communism and the Soviet Union’s ever present threat. 2012’s version is focused on one of the “axis of evil,” North Korea. I actually heard that they were going to feature China but because of the country’s influential movie going audience the antithesis was switched to North Korea. I think we would have a more realistic and frightening if China were included but what can you do?

The original cast consisted of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Lea Thompson. This new edition includes the ever popular Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck and Isabel Lucas. In my opinion, it’s a promising cast but I hope they can achieve the realism and coolness that the original had.

What are your thoughts? Are you excited or do you groan at another remake?

“The Hobbit” in 48 Frames Per Second

 

Peter Jackson on the set of The Hobbit

Peter Jackson once again dares to change cinema but doubling frame speed.

This particular  article got my cogs in my brain turning. According to Screen Crave, Peter Jackson’s trilogy The Hobbit, has opted a new technique of shooting and screening the movie in twice the speed. Normal and traditional film movies are reeled at 24 frames per second (FPS) but doubling to 48 FPS reportedly makes it looks ultra realistic.

Now, I don’t want to focus on The Hobbit in this post but the technology, both the past and the future of film making and film screening. To me, the experience of sitting in an air-conditioned movie theater and absorbing anything that the screen throws at me. Anything that distracts me from that experience, if it’s the lady next to me shuffling through her purse or the gum I got stuck to the hind part of my pants (both had happened to me), just distracts from the experience. Now, when the distractions come from the screen I hold in great contempt.

I believe that 3D is the greatest criminal in this distraction. I’ve only seen Avatar and Jackass 3D in the more expensive format and even though the latter enhanced the hilarity of the movie (that’s why they did it) the former did nothing  but detract from the experience. And yes, I did see Avatar in the 2D format and I enjoyed it more; the colors were more vibrant and I didn’t have to worry about those pesky glasses.

When it comes to in home entertainment I’m a full advocate for High-Definition technology. At first, I thought it looked like a soap opera in every frame but I got used to it. It doesn’t deter from the experience any more.

Lastly, theaters are also transitioning from the traditional film strips that go reel to reel to a digital projector. I’m not taking sides on this one because I’ve seen both but haven’t seen any difference. One exception is when I go to a dollar theater and am shown a second-hand reel, there are noticeable scratches on the picture but other than that.

So, let’s go full circle and talk about The Hobbit‘s 48 FPS issue. It’s been said that it looks “too realistic” or “a bad Discover documentary.” Why is it a solid complaint to argue that it looks “too realistic” when we also complain about CGI looking too fake? Not that I want a picture to pop out of the screen to sit by me realism but I want a believe life-like image to be able to draw me in. From the reactions I’ve heard about 48 FPS it seems to be like my first concern about HD technology in home entertainment–  but I got used to it. It will probably take some viewers a while to get used to it but I think they’ll enjoy it over time. Will it bring more viewers to the theaters? Maybe. I don’t think it’s as much of a selling point as 3D is, unfortunately.

As for any changing industry there are purists out there that cling to established ways of film making. In the video that I’ll put below, Quentin Tarantino talks about the magic and illusion of film viewing and he specifically references a 24 FPS rate and wholly condemns any kind of digital projection showing.

As stated before, my main issue for the moving technology of film is the distraction of the experience. I applaud any film maker who takes chances and tries to make an impression on the industry. If upping the speed of frames changes that experience and isn’t well received as HD technology was then the technique won’t catch on and will die.

Is Peter Jackson trying to bring 48 FPS to the forefront of the “next big thing” in cinema like James Cameron did for 3D technology? Would you go to a 48 FPS movie over a 24 FPS? What is your favorite way of viewing a motion picture?

Trailer Tuesday: Here Comes the Boom

Sorry for the serious lack of posts these last couple of weeks. I’ve just had a bunch of ideas floating around about what to write about. Later this week I’ll have an article about general audience expectations and reception as opposed to a critical approach. So be looking for that. On with the show!

Kevin James has been subjecting himself to lower act movies since his King of Queens days, always going for the low budget comedies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Zookeeper and Grown Ups. It seems that he hasn’t realized his potential as a serious actor. When I got a glimpse of Here Comes the Boom I was surprised that James was in such a role that will stretch his dramatic acting.

The story seems cliche and well-rehearsed, essentially it’s an underdog story that we’ve all seen before in Rocky, Warrior or Real Steel. And, of course, it’s in the MMA sports world that is extremely popular in our day. But the main character isn’t a fighter but a high school biology teacher named Scott Voss who was at one time the “teacher of the year.” When his high school is forced to cut back on funds for extracurricular activities he devises a plan to join the underground MMA in order to win the funds for his school. Hopefully this will flip character development on its head rather than the always important redemptive tale.

Take a watch and tell me what you think.

It seems to be an emotionally driven story that will follow the underdog formula to an exact point. But I’m ready to be blindsided with something new and fresh.