Tag Archives: Sony Pictures

The Art of the Deal… Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Ghost Rider SOV TeaserAnd while the original ‘Ghost Rider’ focused on just that, Ghost Rider, this one focused on the ‘deal’ to be Ghost Rider. Now, up-front, I’ll admit I’m a comic book guy and film buff and this film is not ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Iron Man’ or even ‘Thor’. However, it isn’t Dolph Lundgren’s version of the Punisher or, luckily, the original ‘Ghost Rider’. (FYI: I saw this film for free at a special engagement Preview.. otherwise, I probably would not have seen it till the DVD or pay cable release.)

‘Spirit of Vengeance’ is a bit more of a reboot than a sequel, and in my estimation better than the original from a comic book standpoint. As a Hollywood flick, it’s simply the same sh!t, different film. The story is recycled from a number of genres, the acting is nothing the Academy need worry about (Nick Cage’s performance was on par for… well, any Cage performance), and some of the action sequences are a bit too herky-jerky for the 3-D, but it isn’t a total loss. The comic lore is advanced a bit (depending on which version of Johnny Blaze / Danny Ketch you want to follow) and even drops hints for returning characters in a possible sequel. Idris Elba does give a fair performance for an underwritten yet prominent character and Christopher Lambert cameos are always fun.
Spirit of Vengeance‘Marvel Knights’ is the mature comic line for Marvel characters and at some point Disney will hand their more adult characters to film makers who understand the difference between making a 90 minute crash’em-up and a story with action. While Punisher: War Zone was almost a step up for ‘Marvel Knights’, this one is a step back. Luckily, it’s only a 90 minute crash’em-up flick and you’ll be on your way to lead a normal, happy life. Bathroom breaks allowed but you probably won’t need it.

2 Stars

10 Movie Remakes That Are Better Than The Original

From: Yahoo! Movies

Last week, Sony Pictures and MGM released its remake of horror classic “Carrie” starring Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore.

While it may not be better than the 1976 original — it’s tough to top the Oscar-nominated performances of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie — there are plenty of remakes that have improved upon the original.

We’ve weeded through a ton of remakes — including some you may not realize are remakes — to find the best ones.

The films on this list were selected according to audience and critical reception via Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic (where available) along with awards won. If two films were equally matched in reviews, we went with the movie more fans are familiar with today.

From oldest to newest, here are 10 films that are better than its original.

“The Maltese Falcon” (1941) Warner Bros. Maltese Falcon

Remake of: “The Maltese Falcon” (1931) Rotten Tomatoes: 100% / 67%*

John Huston’s adaptation of the best seller starring Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam Spade has been called one of the American Film Institute’s best films and has been nominated for three Oscars.

Even Roger Ebert called it one of the best movies ever made.

Maltese Falcon rogues gallery

The film was so successful, Warner Bros. originally wanted Huston to work on a sequel in ’42. That project was shelved since he and the actors went to work on other projects.

“The Ten Commandments” (1956)  Paramount PicturesTen Commandments

Remake of: “The Ten Commandments” (1923) Rotten Tomatoes: 91% / 83%

More than 30 years after making the silent film, Cecil B. DeMille returned to direct the ’56 classic. The movie won one Oscar for visual effects and airs every year around Easter on television (Definitely a fond childhood Holiday memory).

“The Ten Commandments” is among the highest-grossing films of all time when adjusted for inflation.

Heston as Moses

“Airplane!” (1980)   Paramount PicturesAirplane

Based on: “Zero Hour!” (1957) Rotten Tomatoes: 98% / 46%**

Chances are you’re unfamiliar with ’50s movie “Zero Hour!” But if it didn’t exist, there probably never would have been an “Airplane!”. Leslie Nielsen’s parody classic borrows heavily from the original.

Airplane Fever

Surely we must be joking? We’re not, and don’t call us Shirley.

“The Thing” (1982)  Universal PicturesJohn Carpenter's The Thing teaser

Remake of: “The Thing From Another World” (1951) Rotten Tomatoes:  79% / 87%

Time may have named the original the “Best sci-fi movie of the 1950s,” however, you can’t deny John Carpenter (the man who brought us “Halloween”) and ’80s Kurt Russell.

Total Film:  “The Thing is one of [Carpenter’s] greatest moments, creating a terrifying atmosphere of claustrophobia, suspense and paranoia. And Kurt Russell is as good as he’s ever been, wearing one of the best beards in movie history.”

Kurt Russell

Empire:  ” The Thing is a peerless masterpiece of relentless suspense, retina-wrecking visual excess and outright, nihilistic terror. …  Back in 1997 Carpenter told Empire that ‘You’ll never, ever, see anything like The Thing again.’ Like MacReady and Childs we’re still waiting. We might be for a long time yet.”

“Little Shop of Horrors” (1986)  Warner Bros.Little Shop of Horrors

Remake of: “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960) Rotten Tomatoes: 90% / 92%  Metacritic:  81%

Sure, the original may have had Jack Nicholson in it, but that was in a small, small role. While the critical reception for the original may edge out the remake, Frank Oz’s rendition of the musical based off the original film with Steve Martin and James Belushi helped make it a cult classic.

The New York Times: “WHO could have imagined that ”Little Shop of Horrors,” the 1960 comic horror film shot by Roger Corman in two days’ time, would continue to grow bigger, mightier and more formidable, much like the man-eating plant that is its unsung star? …  Mr. Martin’s solo number has been hilariously staged, as he combines Elvis Presley posturing with a wonderfully wicked delivery of phrases like ”root canal.” Seldom has one single film sequence, in which Mr. Martin gleefully terrifies his patients and brandishes the most ghastly array of instruments, done as much to set back the integrity of an entire profession.”

Audrey II

“Fatal Attraction” (1987)  Paramount PicturesFatal Attraction

Remake of: British television movie “Diversion” Rotten Tomatoes:  78%  Metacritic: 67

Technically, we’re still going to count this one since it’s probably not well known that this was an adaptation of a TV movie.

Fun fact: “Diversion” writer and director James Dearden actually wrote the screenplay for the Hollywood film adaptation. The movie went on to become the highest-grossing film of the year worldwide and received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director.

Glenn Close Fatal

“True Lies” (1994) 20th Century FoxTrue Lies

Remake of: French film “La Totale!” (1991) Rotten Tomatoes:  72%  / n/a

We’ll admit, we’ve never seen the French film from Claude Zidi; however, you can’t beat a James Cameron film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger secretly working as a government agent while his wife (Jamie Curtis) believes he’s a computer salesman (also serves as a wonderful homage to the James Bond films).

The film received an Oscar nod for Best Visual Effects.  At the time, the film was one of the most expensive ever made (an estimated $115 million)

Curtis for Arnold

“Ocean’s Eleven” (2001)  Warner Bros.Ocean's Eleven

Remake of: “Ocean’s Eleven” (1960) Rotten Tomatoes:  82%/ 46%

The Rat Pack may have starred in the original, but it was George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt, who made robbing a Las Vegas casino look awesome while also infuriating Al Pacino (Note: Al Pacino was not in this film!  He was in Ocean’s Thirteen… tsk tsk Yahoo!).

Successful Eleven

Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers: “What is Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh doing remaking a 1960 Rat Pack flick best remembered for Frank Sinatra’s orange sweaters and Dean Martin being Dino? Answer: having a ball …  Forget Oscar, Ocean’s Eleven is the coolest damned thing around.”

“The Departed” (2006)  Warner Bros.The Departed

Remake of: “Infernal Affairs” (2002) Rotten Tomatoes: 92% / 95%  Metacritic: 86 / 75

Another phenomenal casting list comprised of Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin  about an undercover cop (DiCaprio)  trying to discover a mole (Damon) in the Massachusetts State Police force (Shot in various locations in and around Boston, including my hometown of Southie).

The film won four Oscars including Best Picture of the Year and Best Director.

Leo Jack Departed

Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, highlighting the positives of both films, while not discrediting either.  “The story is inspired by “Infernal Affairs” (2002) by  Alan Mak  and  Andrew Lau , the most successful Hong Kong film of recent years. Indeed, having just re-read my 2004 review of that film, I find I could change the names, cut and paste it, and be discussing this film. But that would only involve the surface, the plot and a few philosophical quasi-profundities. What makes this a Scorsese film, and not merely a retread, is the director’s use of actors, locations and energy, and its buried theme.”

“True Grit” (2010)  Paramount PicturesTrue Grit

Remake of: “True Grit” (1969) Rotten Tomatoes:  96%  /  90%  Metacritc: 80

Though John Wayne made the original film a classic and earned an Oscar for his performance, the update from the Coen brothers starring Jeff Bridges as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn along with Matt Damon and Josh Brolin was celebrated by critics and moviegoers not only for sticking closer to the source material, but also all of the actors’ performances.

However, despite 10 Oscar nominations — including Best Picture, Director, and Actor — it won none.

The Denver Post’s Lisa Kennedy: “This ‘True Grit’ makes the original almost unwatchable except as a curio …  In the new version, Portis’ novel is returned to its proper locale: the post-Civil War frontier where the James brothers raised such a nasty ruckus.”

Bridges True Grit

Ebert: “In the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit,” Jeff Bridges is not playing the John Wayne  role. He’s playing the Jeff Bridges role — or, more properly, the role created in the enduring novel by Charles Portis , much of whose original dialogue can be heard in this film. Bridges doesn’t have the archetypal stature of the Duke. Few ever have. But he has here, I believe, an equal screen presence. We always knew we were looking at John Wayne in the original “ True Grit” (1969). When we see Rooster Cogburn in this version, we’re not thinking about Jeff Bridges. … Bridges’ interpretation is no doubt closer to the reality of a lawman in those years of the West.”

*Denotes critical reviews for the remake and original, respectively when applicable. **Audience score

Ian Flemming’s actual Bond… Casino Royale (2006)

Casino RoyaleFrom Connery to Brosnan, there has been one constant; They didn’t look like the written Bond. 007 was never intended a pretty boy handsome spy, but on film he translated to it. Enter Daniel Craig: I’m not saying he’s not a handsome man, but he is closer to the more realistic Bond Flemming wrote 50 years ago. His gritty and not so smooth features are closer to the Hoagy ‘Stardust’ Carmichael the face was based upon. Add in the original Bond novel, and yes, we have a movie.

Now, most of the Bonds reach near epic proportion, more than just a popcorn movie often does… this follows those footsteps. Exotic locations, little gadgetry and more rough-house, this follows the ideals of ‘Dr. No’ and ‘From Russia…’ than let’s say ‘Die Another Day’.

Bond Mister White

Yes, Judy Dench as M throws the timeline way out of whack for actual Bond-o-philes, but even the producers admitted they couldn’t recast the role any better, so tough. Craig enters the role at just the right time, a little known face in the U.S., with several international roles, he is definitely fresh and hits home with the brooding and broken Bond, who we’ve seen glimpses of in established Bonds before him.

Bond torturedIs he the best 007? Far too soon to tell. But he’s off to one damn fine start.

5 Stars

An Amount of Comfort… Quantum of Solace (2008)

Yes, the title “Quantum of Solace” is taken from a short story of Flemming’s… this film however has nothing to do with it. The title and its scientific meaning is quite applicable as at this point there is quite an amount of comfort with Daniel Craig as 007.

Quantum of Solace UKThough a bit more violent than most of its predecessors, ‘Solace’ follows the current formula with excellent results. Very little in the gadget department, but the right mix of guns, booze and hot broads. Connery (and to an extent even Lazenby) should be proud. Yes, Roger Moore was a bit outspoken on the violence, but he was the comedic Bond. A one two punch of 007 hasn’t been thrown this hard nor this effective since the original debut of “Dr. No” & “From Russia…”, the last one-two combination of any real 007 mettle being Moore’s “For Your Eyes Only” & “Octopussy”. Again, the formula of little gadgetry, a lot of girls and villanous stories.

Though I agree with Judy Dench and Daniel Craig that the characters of ‘Moneypenny’ and ‘Q’ should be returned to the background environment, I’d hate for it to be at the expense of the current formula. The first 007 sequel (or prequel, depending on how you look at it) to pick up directly where the preceding film left off and introducing us to Quantum, the obligatory successor to ‘S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’ (which just sounds cooler anyway) we’re given insight that Bond’s job is far from over… and that there are sequels a plenty to follow. The mix of friends, villains and Bond Girls makes great contrast against Craig’s brooding and bruised agent (both internally and externally). The fact that M can note “They will do anything for you, won’t they?” is a great psychological dig at the many years established as the screen’s most suave user of the female form… physically, mentally and fatally.

Craig Arterton QOS
Though I was not a fan of the opening title sequence (a departure from the established formula from Maurice Binder and his successors) I was pleased to see the return of the ‘Three White Dots’ at films end as a pre-cursor to the next film.

A great popcorn film which keeps you in the seat. Well paced and action filled with very little lag…. no bathroom breaks.

4 Stars

“I’m Batman.” Spider-Man (2002)

Spiderman 2002When Batman spoke that answer to scared thug in 1989 he dealt a blow for every Comic character, not just the Warner’s backed DC characters, to the major studios in saying ‘We belong here.’… Unfortunately for Marvel, they couldn’t compete till now.

Sure, ‘Blade’ came off huge, but very different from his comic origins though for the better. ‘X-Men’ was a surprise hit and great comic book film, again, if not following the comic lore page by page. ‘Spider-Man’ does so nearly panel for panel right from a grand splash page. Updated for the times, the story still holds true. “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…” and the film conveys Stan Lee’s basic message with oomph. In true Marvel fashion, not over the top or straying from the character, it hits home. A normal teenager dealing with extraordinary circumstances and walking the high wire ever so carefully along the way. Perhaps the most cinematic anti-stereotypical ending in film as Boy meets Girl, Boy chases Girl, Boy saves Girl, Boy rejects Girl!!? Yes, that one closing scene where Peter turns from not only Mary Jane but from a part of himself indeed epitomizes what Comic Heroes have done for nearly 70 years… sacrifice. And in one instant, it is made clear.

The Spidey Kiss

Perhaps one of the more perfect Comic to Film examples… where ‘Batman Begins’ was 95% dead on, ‘Spidey’ reaches 99%. With this film, it’s not Marvel vs. DC but another example, a shining example, of ‘We belong here.’… ‘Nuff Said.

5 Stars