Showing posts with label Liam Neeson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Liam Neeson. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2019

Review: "Men in Black: International" is Poo Doo

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 9 (of 2019) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Men in Black: International (2019)
Running time:  114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material.
DIRECTOR:  F. Gary Gray
WRITERS:  Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (based on characters created by Lowell Cunningham)
PRODUCERS:  Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stuart Dryburgh    
EDITORS:  Zene Baker, Christian Wagner, and Matt Willard
COMPOSERS:  Chris Bacon and Danny Elfman    


Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, Emma Thompson, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, Kayvan Novak and Kumail Nanjiani (voice)

Men in Black: International is 2019 science fiction-fantasy and action-comedy from director F. Gary Gray.  This is the fourth film in the Men in Black (MiB) film series, and the first in a new MiB series that is part reboot and part sequel.  Men in Black: International finds the organization that has always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe searching for a spy working within MiB.

Men in Black: International introduces Molly Wright (Tessa Thompson), an overachiever who, as a child, had an experience with an alien.  This encounter led to Molly discovering the existence of “The Men in Black.”  Molly, after years of searching, has finally found the Men in Black's New York City base.  That earns her a meeting with “Agent O” (Emma Thompson), the head of MiB's U.S. branch, who is impressed by Molly's tenacity.

Molly becomes a probationary MiB agent and is sent to London where she answers to the head of MiB's United Kingdom branch, “High T” (Liam Neeson).  Soon, Molly finds herself partnering with “Agent H” (Chris Hemsworth) on an assignment to protect an alien VIP, the Jababian party animal, Vungus the Ugly (Kayvan Novak).  Vungus' death will spark a hunt for the most destructive weapon ever made and also for a traitor hiding within the ranks of MiB London.

While visiting the IMDb page for Men in Black: International, I discovered a member review of the film that declared, “This movie is politically correct (You've been warned!).”  I don't know what the person who posted this means by “this movie is politically correct.”  Among those for whom “PC” has become a battle cry are malcontents who think fictional characters in popular entertainment must fit their personal tastes and ideals in physical appearance, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, to name a few.  Coincidentally or ironically, the aforementioned review is as unimaginative and as clueless as the movie, Men in Black: International, is.

I don't often hold screenwriters solely responsible for a bad movie, but, by my estimation, screenwriters  Matt Holloway and Art Marcum, are largely responsible for the fact that Men in Black: International is an all-time franchise low in the Men in Black film series.  Everything about the writing is weak:  the flimsy, clumsily convoluted plot; the dull, insipid characters; and the pointless settings.

Chris Hemsworth's Agent H is amiable and forgettable; he is a charming (alien) womanizer, whose charm is about effective as a pretty knick-knack.  When he isn't onscreen, he isn't worth a second thought.  H is like a tepid version of Kevin Beckman, the character Hemsworth played in the 2016 Ghostbusters film.  Tessa Thompson's Molly/Agent M is no better, and M may actually be worse.  It is as if Thompson is not sure if she should play M as a cool and reserved female agent or as a curious and determined investigator of the weird.  The screenplay gives neither Hemsworth nor Thompson enough material from which to fashion a character that is more than a type.  They could not do much more with two characters that barely register above a whisper.

Liam Neeson's face is so frozen that I thought he was healing from a face lift, and his character, High T, is not the kind of magnetic character Neeson normally plays.  An actor who usually brings passion to his performances was like stiff, wet underwear frozen on the clothesline by cold weather.

Men in Black: International does have a few characters that are engaging.  Rafe Spall makes the best of his “Agent C,” an excellent rivalry type character (to H and M) who is largely wasted.  Every time Emma Thompson is onscreen in Men in Black: International, one can only think of the wasted opportunities – great actress, not great material.  Kumail Nanjiani provides some much needed laughs in his voice role as the diminutive alien (and CG creation), “Pawny.”

Men in Black: International's plot, about a threat to MiB, is full of misdirection, that cannot hide an sterile and uninspired plot.  The film manages to make the settings, from New York to London to Marrakesh (why?) to Paris, appear indistinguishable from one another.

I can never forget the unique feelings of joy I felt the first time I saw the original Men in Black (1997), which I have seen in its entirety at least three times.  That film retains its freshness, inventiveness, and its endearing weirdness after repeated views.  The sequels have struggled to capture the original film's sense of something amazing and new.

Men in Black: International may be the start of a new series of MiB films, but it feels too tired and too worn out to be an ignition.  It is clumsy and contrived in its action scenes, which is why I blame the screenwriters.  If director F. Gary Gray is really good at anything, it is in directing action movies and thrillers, and even he can't generate excitement from the hapless blueprint that is this film's script.  Men in Black: International is a bore and a chore to watch.  Yes, there is an occasional good moment here or there, but I was embarrassed that I had convinced two friends to see it with me.

And that title, Men in Black: International, is clunky, too.  Start over... again, Sony.

3.5 of 10

Official "Men in Black: International" trailer is on YouTube.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint syndication rights and fees.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from February 1st to 9th, 2019 - Update #34

Support Leroy on Patreon:

CULTURE - From Deadspin:  Who's Killing The Soul Of Sneaker Culture?

MOVIES - From YahooEntertainment:  James Cameron reveals the working title for upcoming "Terminator" film, "Terminator: Dark Fate."

MOVIES - From THR:  Phil Lord and Chris Miller's latest project, "The Last Human," is sparking a bidding war.

TELEVISION - From Variety:  "The Walking Dead" star, Danai Gurira ("Michonne"), is leaving the series after the tenth season, which is scheduled to debut October 2019.

AWARDS - From Deadline:  Sean Penn campaigns hard for Bradley Cooper and his film, "A Star is Born," at the Oscars in a "Deadline" article.

MEDIA - From THR:  Amazon god-king, Jeff Bezos, alleges that AMI (American Media, Inc.), the parent company of the "National Enquirer" is trying to blackmail and extort him.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Michael B. Jordan and Warner Bros. obtain the novel "Black Leopard, Red Wolf."  Written by Marlon James, this buzzy novel has been called an "African Game of Thrones."

MOVIES - From Variety:  Pre-production on the "World War Z" sequel has been halted.  Budgetary concerns may be the reason.

AVATAR - From TheWrap:  Edie Falco has joined James Cameron's "Avatar" sequels.  The second film in the franchise is due December 2020.  The 2009 original set box office records.

AWARDS - From Variety:  "Avengers: Infinity War" (3 wins) and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (4 wins) dominate 2019 / 17th annual Visual Effects Society Awards.

COMICS-FILM - From Collider:  Apparently Disney CEO Bob Iger wants to keep producing R-rated movies based on Marvel Comics, like the "Deadpool" franchise.  He is also open to continuing R-rated FOX franchises.

BLM - From CBS42:  Alabama Attorney General and Exalted Cyclops Steve Marshall will not bring charges against the officer who killed E.J. Bradford, Jr., an African-American man.

COMICS-FILM - From Deadline:  Lauren Shuler-Donner, a producer on Fox's "X-Men" film franchise, speaks about the time of transition as "X-Men" moves from Fox's control to Disney.  She says Marvel will likely recast Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackson in Fox's films.

OSCARS - From YahooEntertainment:  The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards gather at the annual nominees luncheon and take a class photo.

COMICS-FILM - From Newsarama:   Brian Michael Bendis, one of the creators of Miles Morales of the film, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," says that he is still writing an X-Men film, even in the wake of Disney's buyout of Fox.

ANIMATION - From Newsarama:  "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" dominates Annie Awards.

CELEBRITY - From TheDailyBeast:  Oscar-nominated Liam Neeson once wanted to commit and act or racist murder against a Black person (or "Black Bastard," as he described his potential victim).  I'll let the article tell you the rest...

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  The ratings for (fake) Super Bowl 53 hits a 10-year low for Super Bowl ratings.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 2/1 to 2/3/2019 weekend box office (Super Bowl weekend) is "Glass" with an estimated take of $9.5 million.  This is the third week in a row that "Glass" tops the weekend box office.

MOVIES - From YahooEntertainment:  Rami Malek has something to say about original "Bohemian Rhapsody" director, Bryan Singer.

AWARDS - From TheWrap:  Alfonaso Cuaron wins the tops prize at the 2019 Directors Guild Awards for his film "Roma."

MOVIES - From Variety:  The hit 1992 film, "Groundhog Day," is getting a sequel, but it is a VR game and not a movie.

AWARDS - From Deadline:  The American Cinema Editors (ACE) announced their "Eddie Awards," with "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "The Favourite" winning the feature film awards.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  The next two "Mission: Impossible" films will appear a year apart, July 23, 2021 and August 5, 2022.  Tom Cruise, of course, will return.

SCIENCE - From TheAtlantic:  Death-Cap Mushrooms Are Spreading Across North America

MOVIES - From THR:  Leigh Whannell ("Saw," "Insidious") is the latest director connected to the long-promised (and unnecessary) "Escape from New York" remake.

CELEBRITY - LGBTQ - From Variety:  Jussie Smollett speaks publicly for the first time since the anti-gay, racist attack against him in Chicago earlier this week.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Javier Bardem joins Timothy Chalamet in Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" film reboot.

MOVIES - From Variety:  There are new photo images from Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."


From YouTube:  First trailer for "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," which is in theaters August 2, 2019.


From Deadline:  The British actor, Albert Finney, has died at the age of 82, Thursday, February 7, 2019.  Finney was a five-time Oscar nominee, the first time being for the film with which he is most often associated, "Tom Jones," although he never attended the Academy Awards ceremony.  He also turned down the honor of being knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

From ESPN:  Baseball Hall of Fame member (1982) Frank Robinson has died at the age of 83, Thursday, February 7, 2019.  Robinson was the first and only Major League Baseball player to win the MVP in both the American League and National League.  Robinson was also the first African-American manager of a Major League team (Cleveland Indians, 1975).

From TheWeek:  Former U.S. Congressman, Representative John Dingell (Democrat - Michigan, 12th U.S. District) has died at the age of 92, Thursday, December 7, 2019.  Dingell retired at the age of 88 in January 2015.  He was the nation's longest serving U.S. Congressman.

From EOnline:  The actor Kristof St. John has died at the age of 52, Sunday, February 3, 2019.  St. John was best known for starring in the long-running CBS soap opera, "The Young and the Restless," playing "Neil Winters."

From TheWrap:  The actress Julie Adams has died at the age of 92 years old, Sunday, February 3, 2019.  She is best known for her role as "Kay Lawrence," the damsel in distress in the classic Univeral Pictures horror flick, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon."

From THR:  Prolific television director, Andrew McCullough, has died the age of 94, January 22, 2019.  McCullough directed Orson Welles and James Dean on the small screen.  He also directed episodes of classic family sitcoms like "The Donna Reed Show," "Happy Days," and "Family Ties."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from May 20th to 26th, 2018 - Update #21

Support Leroy on Patreon:

MOVIES - From TheNewYorker:  How Superheroes Made Movie Stars Expendable

MOVIES - From YahooGMA:  Film critic Peter Travers lists 17 summers movies to get to know.

SCANDAL - From YahooGMA:  The guy who says that "Star Trek" actor, George Takei, groped/molested him is still peddling his story.

BOND - From BleedingCool:  Universal Pictures has won the bidding war for the distribution rights to the 25th James Bond film, which will star Daniel Craig and be directed by Danny Boyle.

SCANDAL - From CNN:  Several women are accusing Oscar-winning actor, Morgan Freeman, of inappropriate behavior and harassment.

From TheWrap:  Harvey Weinstein to Surrender to New York Authorities Following Sexual Misconduct Probe

COMICS-FILM - From THR:  Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, and Don Johnson join HBO's "Watchmen" pilot which is being overseen by Damon Lindelof.

SCANDAL - From YahooEntertainment:  Moses Farrow, son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, says that Woody Allen never molested his sister, Dylan Farrow, as his mother Mia and Dylan have claimed for 25 years.

MOVIES - From THR:  Liam Neeson joins Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in the "Men in Black" spinoff.

CELEBRITY - From TheRinger:  The Baffling Return of Mike Myers.

COMICS-FILM - From YahooEntertainment:  What was the cost of Brad Pitt's split-second cameo in "Deadpool 2."

MOVIES - From BleedingCool:  Anjelica Huston is among the actors joining "John Wick: Chapter 3."

CELEBRITY - From YahooEntertainment: Legendary martial arts actor, Jet Li, is reportedly having serious health issues.

STREAMING - From ShadowandAct:  Ava DuVernay will executive produce a TV series about Amazon queens, entitled "The Last Amazon."

OBAMAS - From ShadowandAct:  Netflix has officially announced a huge production deal with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 5/18 to 5/20/2018 weekend box office is "Deadpool 2" with an estimated take of $125 million.

ECO - From Earther:  Lawns Are an Ecological Disaster

STREAMING - From Nerdist:  Amazon's "Lord of the Rings" TV series will follow a young Aragorn.  Adult Aragorn was played by Viggo Mortensen in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" film series.

CANNES - From Deadline:  "Shoplifters," a film by Japanese director, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, has won the Palme d'Or, the top prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.  Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman" won the "Grand Prize."


From TheNewYorker:  American author Philip Roth has died at the age of 85, Tuesday, May 22, 2018.  He won the "Pulitzer Prize for Fiction" in 1998 for his novel, "American Pastoral."  Several of his works were adapted into film, including the novel, "The Human Stain."

From THR:  Movie poster artist-designer, Bill Gold, has died at the age of 97, Sunday, May 20, 2018.  Considered to have revolutionized the movie poster, Gold produced posters for film such as "Casablanca," "The Exorcist," and "A Clockwork Orange."  Gold produced dozens of posters for Clint Eastwood films, including "Dirty Harry" (1971), "Unforgiven" (1992), and "J. Edgar" (2011).

From ESPN:  Noted college football player, Billy Cannon, has died at the age of 80, Sunday, May 20, 2018.  Cannon played collegiate football for Louisiana State University, where he won a national title in 1958 and the Heisman Trophy in 1959.

From BRAdvocate:  A image gallery look-back at Billy Cannon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Steve McQueen's "Widows" Begins Principal Photography

Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency Begin Principal Photography on Steve McQueen Thriller Starring Viola Davis

Film Was Written by McQueen and Best Selling Author Gillian Flynn

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption: “Widows” is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms. “Widows” also stars Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Daniel Kaluuya, Lukas Haas and Brian Tyree Henry. See-Saw Films’ Oscar®-winning team of Iain Canning (“The King’s Speech”) and Emile Sherman (“The King’s Speech”) are set to produce with Bergen Swanson (“Shame”) serving as executive producer.

    “Steve McQueen is a groundbreaking filmmaker and we’re proud to support his vision for this film, and so delighted to be working with him again following our successful partnership on ‘12 Years a Slave.’”

“Emile and I couldn’t be more excited about ‘Widows,’” says producer Iain Canning. “It is a film that continues See-Saw Films’ relationship with Steve McQueen who has brought together a dream cast to tell a compelling story about what lengths people will go to in order to change the circumstances of their lives.” Producer Emile Sherman adds: “New Regency has been such a supportive and committed home for the project and we are excited to be working with Fox on this timely production.”

“Combining visionary directing, writing, an extraordinary cast, and a riveting story that unites thrilling action with nuanced character studies, ‘Widows’ is a project that truly speaks for itself,” said Yariv Milchan, Chairman of New Regency. “Steve McQueen is a groundbreaking filmmaker and we’re proud to support his vision for this film, and so delighted to be working with him again following our successful partnership on ‘12 Years a Slave.’”

“Widows” creative production team includes director of photography Sean Bobbit (“12 Years a Slave”), Academy Award®-winning production designer Adam Stockhausen (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”), costume designer Jenny Eagan (“Beasts of No Nation”) and Oscar®-nominated editor Christopher Tellefsen (“Moneyball”).

“Widows” is a See-Saw Films production in association with New Regency presentation of A Steve McQueen Film and will be distributed worldwide by Twentieth Century Fox. The movie will be released on November 16, 2018.

About Twentieth Century Fox Film
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of the studio: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions, and Twentieth Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios.

About New Regency:
Founded in 1991 by renowned producer Arnon Milchan, New Regency is actively engaged in entertaining the world. The company has produced some of the most successful and critically-acclaimed films of all time with over 130 films and more than 50 television series in the company’s vast library, including Academy Award®-winner “The Revenant” (2016) and the back-to-back Academy Award®-winning Best Pictures, “12 Years A Slave” (2014) and “Birdman” (2015). New Regency is also dedicated to continuing to foster its unparalleled filmmaker relationships and today boasts partnerships with the most acclaimed and sought-after creative forces in the industry.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Washington DC Film Critics Name "La La Land" Best Film of 2016

Founded in 2002, The Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) is comprised of professional DC-based film critics with affiliations in television, radio, print and the internet. As of 2013, WAFCA has grown to include 58 dedicated members from the District, Maryland and Virginia.

The 2016 WAFCA Awards were announced Monday, December 5, 2016.

The 2016 WAFCA Award winners:

Best Film:
La La Land

Best Director:
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Actor:
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Actress:
Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Best Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Best Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis (Fences)

Best Acting Ensemble:
Hell or High Water

Best Youth Performance:
Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)

Best Voice Performance:
Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls)

Best Motion Capture Performance:
Mark Rylance (The BFG)

Best Original Screenplay:
Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Eric Heisserer, Based on the Story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang (Arrival)

Best Animated Feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Documentary:

Best Foreign Language Film:

Best Production Design:
Production Designer: David Wasco; Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, SDSA (La La Land)

Best Cinematography:
Linus Sandgren, SFS (La La Land)

Best Editing:
Tom Cross, ACE (La La Land)

Best Original Score:
Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)

The Joe Barber Award for Best Portrayal of Washington, DC:


Monday, June 15, 2015

Open Road to Distribute "A Willing Patriot," Starring Liam Neeson




Open Road Films has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to A WILLING PATRIOT, which reunites the company with Liam Neeson who will star and will be financed and produced by MadRiver Pictures, along with Film 360, Hollywood Gang and Jason Keller. The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films and Marc Butan of MadRiver Pictures.

In the international thriller A WILLING PATRIOT, a CIA agent (Neeson) engages in an elaborate cat-and-mouse game with a sinister terrorist who's planning an imminent attack.

Martin Zandvliet (“Land Of Mine”) will direct A WILLING PATRIOT from a script by Jason Keller, who will produce along with Film 360’s Guymon Casady and Darin Friedman as well as Hollywood Gang’s Gianni Nunnari. Film 360’s Ben Forkner, Hollywood Gang’s Shannon Gaulding and MadRiver’s Ed Fee will oversee on behalf of their respective companies.

A WILLING PATRIOT will shoot on location in South Africa, Morrocco and Tunisia with Open Road Films planning a wide release in 2016.

“Working with Liam Neeson on ‘The Grey’ was a fantastic experience and a success in every way” stated Tom Ortenberg. “A Willing Patriot, like ‘The Grey,’ is top-notch character-driven film. We are thrilled to re-team with Liam and producer Marc Butan, with whom we are working on the upcoming release of ‘Triple 9,’ on this international thriller.”

“We’re excited to be back in business with Open Road,” said Marc Butan. “They showed passion and enthusiasm for this film from day one, and we couldn’t have found a better home for it.”

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Open Road Films by Tom Ortenberg, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Elliott Kleinberg, and Executive Vice President of Production and Acquisitions Peter Lawson. Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which packaged and arranged financing for the film, negotiated on behalf of MadRiver Pictures. Neeson, along with MadRiver, are represented by CAA, while Zandvliet is repped by WME. Film 360 is represented by PJ Shapiro and Julian Zafijen, and Hollywood Gang and Keller are repped by attorney Carlos Goodman. Keller is repped by CAA and Management 360.

Open Road Films is a leading, independent, theatrical motion picture company, releasing a diverse slate of star-driven films which has included multiple #1 releases. It was founded in 2011 by AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC) and Regal Entertainment Group (Regal), the two largest theatrical exhibition companies in the United States. Open Road and its lenders recently extended the company's $100,000,000 credit facility through 2018.

Current and past releases include: Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which took the #1 spot at the box-office during its opening week and received an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Screenplay, along with a Golden Globe nomination – it was named one of the best films of 2014 by the AFI and National Board of Review and top critics nationwide; the hit film Chef, written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau along with Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr.; The Nut Job, which opened to over $25 million at the box office as the highest ever opening for an independent animated film; The Grey, directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson, which opened #1 at the box office; End Of Watch, directed by David Ayer and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, which opened #1 at the box office; Rosewater, written and directed by Jon Stewart; A Haunted House starring Marlon Wayans; and Side Effects, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum.

Upcoming releases include: Dope (6/19/15), a critical hit and audience favorite comedy out of the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival, written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa; Triple Nine, a thriller directed by John Hillcoat starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer and Clifton Collins, Jr. (9/11/15); Rock The Kasbah (10/23/2015), starring Bill Murray along with Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride and Scott Caan, directed by Barry Levinson; the Untitled Oliver Stone/Edward Snowden Project (12/25/15), written and directed by Oliver Stone starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley; Spotlight, directed by Thomas McCarthy, starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci; and Sleepless Night starring Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan.

MadRiver Pictures launched in May 2015 following an initial capitalization from a round of private and strategic investors and a $30 million revolving equity investment from Vendian Entertainment. The company plans to finance and produce a broad slate of 3-4 wide release films per year in the $15-50 million budget range.

The existing MadRiver Pictures production slate, includes: John Hillcoat’s “Triple 9” starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul and Anthony Mackie, which will be released by Open Road Films on September 11, 2015; Burr Steers’ “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” starring Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston and Lena Headey, based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling novel, which will be released by Screen Gems on February 19, 2016 and James Gray’s “The Lost City of Z” starring Charlie Hunnam, which begins principal photography in August.

Film 360 has THE GALLOWS coming out on July 10 through Newline/Warner Bros. and is currently in post-production on the STEVE JOBS movie at Universal Pictures which is coming out October 9. Film 360 is also producing LIFEBOAT with a screenplay by Bill Broyles, Joe Wright directing and Anne Hathaway producing and starring for Working Title and Focus Features.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Idris Elba, Channing Tatum Among Presenters at 87th Oscars

Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Channing Tatum To Present At 87th Oscars®

Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Liam Neeson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Channing Tatum will be presenters at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air on Sunday, February 22, live on ABC.

Bateman appeared in the Best Picture Oscar®- nominated films “Up in the Air” (2009) and “Juno” (2007). Most recently Bateman starred in the “Horrible Bosses” (2011 and 2014) franchise, “This Is Where I Leave You” (2014), and “Bad Words” (2013), Bateman’s directorial debut.  He is currently working on “Untitled Joel Edgerton Project” and recently wrapped production of “The Family Fang,” his second directorial effort in which he also stars.

Elba most recently starred in the 2014 thriller “No Good Deed.” His other film roles include “28 Weeks Later” (2007), “Thor” (2011), “Pacific Rim” (2013) and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (2013). He has been nominated for four Emmy Awards®, including three for Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for “Luther” (2010). Elba will next be seen in “Beasts of No Nation.”

Elgort made his film debut in 2013’s “Carrie” and followed up with three more films in 2014: “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Divergent” and “Men, Women & Children.” He will next be seen in the sequel “The Divergent Series: Insurgent.”

Kidman won an Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for “The Hours” (2002) and was nominated for her leading roles in “Moulin Rouge” (2001) and “Rabbit Hole” (2010). Her other credits include “Dead Calm” (1989), “Far and Away” (1992), “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999), “Cold Mountain” (2003) and “The Golden Compass” (2007). Her upcoming films include “Lion” and “The Secret in Their Eyes.”

Neeson received an Oscar nomination for Actor in a Leading Role for his performance as the title character in “Schindler’s List” (1993). Other film roles include “The Dead Pool” (1988), “Husbands and Wives” (1992), “Michael Collins” (1996), “Love Actually” (2003), “Taken” (2008), “The Grey” (2011) and “Non-Stop” (2014). He will next be seen in “Ted 2” and “Run All Night.”

Paltrow is an Oscar winner for her leading role in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998).  She has starred in such films as “Great Expectations” (1998), “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), and “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) and most recently the “Iron Man” franchise (2008, 2010 and 2013).

Tatum, who currently stars in the sci-fi feature “Jupiter Ascending,” appeared in last year’s “22 Jump Street” (2014), “Foxcatcher” (2014) and “The Lego Movie” (2014).  His previous credits include “White House Down” (2013), “Magic Mike” (2012) and “21 Jump Street” (2012).  He will star in “Magic Mike XXL” later this year.

Previously announced presenters and performers include:

Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Viola Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Kevin Hart, Josh Hutcherson, Scarlett Johansson, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lopez, Jared Leto, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Sienna Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Eddie Murphy, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Margot Robbie, Zoe Saldana, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep, Miles Teller, John Travolta, Kerry Washington, Naomi Watts, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

Jack Black, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga, Anna Kendrick, John Legend, Adam Levine with Maroon 5, Tim McGraw, Rita Ora and Tegan and Sara with The Lonely Island.

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscars, produced by Zadan and Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review: "Taken 2" Does Not Suffer from Middle Film Blues

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 1 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

Taken 2 (2012)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  France; Language:  English
Running time: 92 minutes (1 hour, 32 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
DIRECTOR: Olivier Megaton
WRITERS: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (based on characters created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen)
PRODUCER:  Luc Besson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Romain Lacourbas (director of photography)
EDITORS: Camille Delamarre and Vincent Tabaillon
COMPOSER: Nathaniel Méchaly


Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Shergedgia, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, and Luke Grimes

The subject of this movie review is Taken 2, a 2012 French thriller, directed by Olivier Megaton, produced by Luc Besson, and starring Liam Neeson. The film is a sequel to the 2008 film, Taken.  In Taken 2, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills finds himself facing off against the father of a man he killed while hunting for his kidnapped daughter in Paris (as seen in the first film).

Early in Taken 2, former CIA operative, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), is still trying to find ways to get closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace).  This time, it is by helping her pass her driving test, which she has already failed at least twice.  Meanwhile, Bryan's ex-wife and Kim's mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen), is having severe marital problems.  All three of them are about to have worse problems than they expect.

Over in Europe, specifically in Tropojë, Albania, funerals are being held for the Parisian-based, Albanian mobsters Bryan killed for kidnapping Kim in the first film.  Murad (Rade Shergedgia) is a mob boss and the father of Marko, one of the dead men.  Bryan killed Marko by electrocution, and Murad vows to capture Bryan, to bring him to the men's graves, and to kill him there.  They track Bryan to Istanbul, Turkey, where he is vacationing with Lenore and Kim.  Murad and company launch an attack and are able to abduct Bryan and Lenore.  Before Bryan can kick their attackers' asses, however, Kim will have to free his ass.

I had put off seeing Taken for about three years.  I saw it shortly before Taken 2 was released.  I put off seeing Taken 2 for three years, and decided to see it in time for the release of Taken 3.  When I finally saw Taken, I had to admit that it easily surpassed my expectations.  Taken was and remains a terrific thriller, a feisty little revenge flick that plays like a big-time, big studio thriller.

Now, that I have finally seen Taken 2, I have to admit that it surpassed my expectations.  It received such negative reviews that I avoided seeing it in a movie theater.  Taken 2 is not quite as good as Taken, but it isn't far off.  Like the original, Taken 2 strains credulity, and Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills does stuff that takes him into the fantasy realm of Jason Bourne films.  In this sequel, Bryan seems a little less human and more robotic than he was in the original movie.

Still, I like that Maggie Grace's Kim plays a bigger part.  Here, Grace approaches playing the action sidekick with the same terrified energy she used to play the first film's victim.  Yeah, Taken 2 is still a Liam Neeson vehicle, but it seems less so because of what Maggie Grace and even Famke Janssen (an underrated actress) bring to the film.  The always good  Rade Shergedgia (whose last name seems to have multiple spellings) manages to steal quite a bit of this film for himself.  So I am once again taken in by a Taken film.  Taken 2, like the first, is a tasty fast-food film.

7 of 10

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Negromancer News Bits and Bites for the Week of January 4th to 10th, 2015 - Updated #17


From YahooTV:  ESPN teams with Marvel Entertainment, Spike Lee, and Eva Longoria for new film series.

From ShadowandAct:  Jordan Peele of the comedy team, "Key & Peele" is working on a horror movie with an interesting premise:  the "horror" of being a black man in today's America.

From Variety:  For the third weekend in a row, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the #1 film.  For the weekend of Jan. 2nd to 4th, 2015, the final film in The Hobbit trilogy won the weekend box office with an estimated take $21.9 million.


From NerdReactor:  "Batman Vs. Superman" could be divided into 2 films, with the first debuting October 2015 and the second retaining the March 2016 release date.

From NerdReactor:  DC Comics has a new Power Girl, and she is a young Black woman.

From YahooTV:  Edward James Olmos joins "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

From IBTimes:  Crazy "Iron Man 4" rumors.

From HitFix:  "Daredevil" will hit Netflix on Friday, April 10th, 2015.

From HitFix:  "Ant-Man" trailer.

From Newsarama:  Scarlett Johannsen signs to play the lead in the adaptation of the manga/anime, Ghost in the Shell.


From YahooMovies:  Liam Neeson wouldn't mind a return to Star Wars.  I wouldn't mind his return either.

From FlickeringMyth:  The latest news about the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" toys suggest that Darth Vader will return in some form.


From Indiewire:  What Clint Eastwood's American Sniper says about America.

From TheIntercept: Another penetrating gaze at American Sniper


From VarietySamuel Goldwyn Jr., the son of legendary Hollywood mogul, Samuel Goldwyn, died at the age of 88 on Friday, January 9, 2015.  He won a Primetime Emmy for producing the 1988 Oscar ceremony.  He was nominated for a best picture Oscar as one of the producers of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

From TheWrap:  The actor, Rod Taylor, died at the age of 84 on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.  He was best known for his roles in Alfred Hitchock's The Birds and in the 1960 film version of The Time Machine."

From YahooMovies:  Khan Bonfils, the actor who played Jedi master "Saesee Tiin" Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, died in London on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

From YahooCelebrity:  I am a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.  Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak is suffering a personal loss.  His 15-year-old daughter, Alina, died Monday, January 5, 2014.

From People: ESPN personality and longtime SportsCenter anchor, Stuart Scott, died at the age of 49, today, Sunday, January 4th, 2015.  He had been battling cancer since 2007.  Negromancer sends condolences to Stuart's family and friends.  I am kind of at a loss for words right now.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review "Excalibur" is Epic, Unforgettable (Happy B'day, Liam Neeson)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 77 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Excalibur (1981)
Running time:  140 minutes (2 hours, 20 minutes)
WRITERS:  Rospo Pallenberg and John Boorman; from an adaptation by Rospo Pallenberg of Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory
EDITOR:  John Merritt with Donn Cambern (no screen credit)
COMPOSER:  Trevor Jones
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey, Nicol Williamson, Robert Addie, Gabriel Byrne, Keith Buckley, Katrine Boorman, Liam Neeson, Corin Redgrave, Niall O’Brien, Patrick Stewart, and Clive Swift

The subject of this movie review is Excalibur, a 1981 drama and fantasy film from producer-director John Boorman.  The film is mostly based on Le Morte d’Arthur, the 15th century Arthurian romance written by Thomas Malory.  Excalibur focuses on Merlin the magician, King Arthur, and Morgana Le Fey.  It depicts how Arthur unites a land, creates the Round Table, and builds Camelot, while forces conspire to destroy it all.

John Boorman’s Excalibur is the acclaimed director’s lushly filmed take on the Arthurian legend as adapted from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.  Early in the film, we see Arthur’s illicit conception when his father, King Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne), use magical trickery to seduce, Igrayne (Katrine Boorman), another man’s wife, and impregnates her with the child that would become Arthur.  Later, Merlin (Nicol Williamson) claims the infant Arthur as the price Uther must pay Merlin for providing the magical disguise Arthur used to seduce Igrayne.

Later, young Arthur (Nigel Terry) pulls the sword of kings, Excalibur, from a stone, which makes him King Arthur.  The film tells the story of the rise of Arthur’s kingdom and the righteous birth of The Knights of the Round Table.  Then, things go bad when Arthur’s wife, Guenevere (Cherie Lunghi), takes Arthur’s best, bravest, and most favored knight, Lancelot (Nicholas Clay), as her lover.  Arthur’s sister, Morgana (Helen Mirren), a crafty sorceress, connives until the balance of power shifts from Merlin to her.  The film concludes with Arthur’s final battle, this against his son, Mordred (Robert Addie), whom Arthur fathered with Morgana.

Boorman, his screenwriting partner Rospo Pallenberg, cinematographer Alex Thomson (who earned an Oscar nomination for his work here), composer Trevor Jones, and costume designer Bob Ringwood (who earned a BAFTA Award nomination for his work in this film) came together to create an exquisite rendition of the tale of King Arthur and Camelot.  The film is full of Christian symbolism, in particularly dealing with Christianity supplanting the old gods and necromancy in favor of men.  There is also a lot of sexual subtext, much of it is surprisingly gay; there is lots of man love and admiration of the virility, honor, bravery, and skill of men.  Men really admire and love great men in this story, and women, for the most part, are trouble in this film.

Boorman wanted to emphasize the story over the characters in his take on the Arthurian myth, and he uses the stunning visuals to evoke feelings, but to also get the viewer to think about the things for which the stories of King Arthur and his kingdom stand.  However, the actors really don’t surrender and play the role of puppets.  They play up to the symbolism and imagery.  They don’t treat their roles as figurative, but as interpreters of the things that this myth teaches us about the better parts of human nature – humility, charity, bravery, and sacrifice, and an understanding to forgive the trespasses our friends, loved ones, countrymen, and fellow humans make against us and we against them.

In Excalibur, John Boorman composes his scenes and photographic shots as if each were a giant painting, a series of representational works meant to tell a powerful tale about universal ideals.  There is something grand in Excalibur, and in spite of its faults:  some poor dialogue, the tendency for the film to suddenly take big leaps forward in the narrative time, and Boorman’s assumption that we should be familiar with these characters and their motivations, it succeeds.

8 of 10

Monday, May 23, 2005

Updated:  Saturday, June 07, 2014

1982 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Cinematography” (Alex Thomson)

1982 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Costume Design” (Bob Ringwood)

1981 Cannes Film Festival:  1 win: “Best Artistic Contribution (John Boorman) and 1 nomination: “Palme d'Or” (John Boorman)

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"The Lego Movie" Builds Past $200 Million in Global Box Office

“The Lego® Movie” Assembles More Than $200 Million in Global Box Office

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Audiences are connecting with “The LEGO® Movie” in a big way, driving the first-ever full-length theatrical LEGO adventure past $200 million in worldwide box office, less than two weeks after its record-breaking release. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

“The LEGO Movie,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and LEGO System A/S, made its North American debut on Friday, February 7. It took in an opening weekend gross of $69.1 million, making it the largest February opening for any animated film and the largest opening for an animated Warner Bros. release. It has since gone on to earn a total of $146.3 million at the domestic box office, and still building.

The film has also launched its international engagements in a number of European, Asian, and Latin American markets, including the UK, Spain, Scandinavia, Hong Kong, Korea, Brazil and Mexico, earning $60.4 million to date, for a combined worldwide box office total of $206.7 million, and climbing.

Many major territories have yet to open, including Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Australia and Japan.

Stated Fellman, “‘The LEGO Movie’ is everything we hoped it would be, and then some: a big, fun, moviegoing experience for the whole family. Congratulations to the phenomenal voice cast and to directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee for their unwavering commitment to bringing this ambitious project to the screen. We are thrilled by the overwhelming response and early word-of-mouth that has made this movie a must-see, and we have every expectation that this is just the beginning of a long and successful run.”

Kwan Vandenberg added, “In addition to congratulating the talented filmmakers and cast, we also want to thank The LEGO Group and our partners at Village Roadshow for helping to make ‘The LEGO Movie’ such a tremendous success. The LEGO brand has captivated generations with a focus on discovery and imagination. By bringing those ideals to the big screen in such a fun and exciting way, ‘The LEGO Movie’ speaks to kids and adults the world over, and we believe enthusiasm will remain high as the film continues its international roll-out.”

“The LEGO Movie” tells an original 3D computer animated story about Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, “The LEGO Movie” stars Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Charlie Day, with Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Lord & Miller also wrote the screenplay, from a story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO construction toys. “The LEGO Movie” is produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee. Executive producers are Jill Wilfert, Matthew Ashton, Kathleen Fleming, Allison Abbate, Zareh Nalbandian, Jon Burton, Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Seanne Winslow, Matt Skiena and Bruce Berman; and co-producer is John Powers Middleton. The filmmaking team includes cinematographer Pablo Plaisted, production designer Grant Freckelton, editors David Burrows and Chris McKay, and composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Chris McKay also serves as animation co-director.

“The LEGO Movie” is a Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, in association with LEGO System A/S, a Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures Production. It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

This film is rated PG for “mild action and rude humor.”

LEGO, the LEGO logo, the minifigure and the brick and knob configuration are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2014 The LEGO Group. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Warner Bros.' "Run All Night" Begins Production

Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Run All Night” Begins Production in New York

Shooting underway on the crime thriller starring Liam Neeson and Ed Harris

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Run All Night,” starring Oscar® nominees Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List,” “Taken”) and Ed Harris (“Pollock,” “The Hours”), as well as Joel Kinnaman (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), under the direction of Jaume Collet-Serra (“Unknown”).

Brooklyn mobster and prolific hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), once known as The Gravedigger, has seen better days. Longtime best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Harris), Jimmy, now 55, is haunted by the sins of his past—as well as a dogged police detective who’s been one step behind Jimmy for 30 years. Lately, it seems Jimmy’s only solace can be found at the bottom of a whiskey glass.

But when Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Kinnaman), becomes a target, Jimmy must make a choice between the crime family he chose and the real family he abandoned long ago. With Mike on the run, Jimmy’s only penance for his past mistakes may be to keep his son from the same fate Jimmy is certain he’ll face himself…at the wrong end of a gun. Now, with nowhere safe to turn, Jimmy just has one night to figure out exactly where his loyalties lie and to see if he can finally make things right.

Shooting in and around New York City, primarily in Brooklyn and Queens, “Run All Night” also stars Vincent D’Onofrio (TV’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), Boyd Holbrook (HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra”), Patricia Kalember (“Limitless”), Genesis Rodriguez (“Identity Thief”), and Academy Award® nominee Nick Nolte (“Warrior”).

Collet-Serra directs from a screenplay by Brad Ingelsby. The film is being produced by Roy Lee (“The Departed”), Michael Tadross (“Gangster Squad,” “Sherlock Holmes”), and Brooklyn Weaver (executive producer, upcoming “Out of the Furnace”), with John Powers Middleton (TV’s “Bates Motel”) serving as executive producer.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Martin Ruhe (“The American”), production designer Sharon Seymour (“Argo”), Oscar®-nominated editor Craig McKay (“The Silence of the Lambs”), and costume designer Cat Thomas (“The Heat”).

“Run All Night” will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Your Short Film Could Be in "The Lego Movie"

Online Video Contest Offers LEGO® Fans Worldwide a Chance to Place Their Own Work in the Upcoming 3D Animated Feature, “THE LEGO MOVIE”

Entries are Eligible for a Score of Prizes, and One Grand Prize Winner’s Creation Could Be Included in the 2014 Release

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Beginning March 25, LEGO® fans registered worldwide on will have a one-of-a-kind, hands-on opportunity to take part in the growing excitement for “THE LEGO MOVIE” by creating a 15-30 second video clip based on its story, in the LEGO ReBrick Movie Competition. The winning video could be featured in the film, the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, opening February 7, 2014.

The fan-produced clips will relate to an exciting scene in the film, in which the citizens of the LEGO universe rally to prevent an unspeakable disaster. They do this by quickly disassembling the elements of their environments, brick by brick, and rebuilding them into fantastic and fun hybrid vehicles and tools—the stranger and more innovative, the better, like rocket/dragons or butterfly/speedboats—to take part in an epic battle.

Using only LEGO bricks and non-licensed LEGO minifigures, contestants will select a character and set their action sequence in one of their favorite LEGO worlds, such as LEGO City, Space, Pirates, Western, Vikings, Dino, Castle, and others. After building and recording their LEGO designs, they will upload the video to YouTube, and bookmark it on the Building Challenge page, where it will be open for voting from the entire ReBrick membership. The 25 videos earning the most “Likes” will ultimately be reviewed for creativity, originality, theme and suitability for the film by a panel of judges, including Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, writers/directors of “THE LEGO MOVIE.”

The Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, for a VIP Tour; a meeting with the directors, to participate in a LEGO build; an exclusive LEGO film camera designed and built by the official LEGO model shop; plus souvenir items from the movie’s set, signed by the designers. His or her winning entry may also be edited into the film’s big battle sequence. Second and third place winners will also be honored, as well as winners of bi-weekly prizes selected during the challenge’s six-week run, for a range of additional prizes, including tickets to the Studio’s tour, “THE LEGO MOVIE” merchandise, a $200 gift card for the Studio’s online store, and a feature spot on The Official LEGO Channel on YouTube.

All entrants must be at least 16 years old and be registered on the LEGO fansite Submissions will be accepted from March 25, 2013, at 9:00 A.M., until May 6, 2013, at 8:59 A.M., EDT. Videos must be between 15-30 seconds and be captured using a camera that is at least 3.2 megapixels, and framed to fit within a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Submissions must contain only LEGO elements and figures with no customized parts, must follow the ReBrick House Rules, and must be suitable for children.

Local regulations and complete prizing information can be found on the Contest Rules page at, with additional guidelines, examples and updates available at microsite

Winners will be announced on May 20, 2013.

“THE LEGO MOVIE” opens in theaters February 7, 2014. The 3D computer animated adventure tells the story of Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

“THE LEGO MOVIE” stars Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Morgan Freeman as the voices of the animated characters. The film is directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (“21 Jump Street,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) from their original screenplay, and story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO construction toys. It will incorporate some of the LEGO world’s most popular figures while introducing several new characters, inviting fans who have enjoyed the brand’s innovative toys and hugely popular video games for generations to experience their visually unique LEGO world as never seen before.

The film will be produced by Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”) and Roy Lee (“The Departed,” “How to Train Your Dragon”).

LEGO, its logo, brick & knob configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2013 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Still Taken with Original "Taken"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Taken (2008)
Running time: 93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language
DIRECTOR: Pierre Morel
WRITERS: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
PRODUCER: Luc Besson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michel Abramowicz (director of photography)
EDITOR: Frédéric Thoraval
COMPOSER: Nathaniel Méchaly


Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Holly Valance, Olivier Rabourdin, Gerard Watkins, Arben Bajraktaraj, Nicolas Giraud, and Katie Cassidy

The subject of this movie review is Taken, a 2008 French thriller produced by Luc Besson and starring Liam Neeson. The film was released in January of 2009 in the United States. Taken follows a retired CIA agent through Paris as he tries to find his kidnapped daughter.

Former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) wants to be closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), whom he calls “Kimmie.” The 17-year-old lives with her mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart (Xander Berkeley). Bryan has a rocky relationship with Lenore, who pressures him not to be overprotective of Kim. That’s why Bryan reluctantly signs a permission slip that allows Kim to travel to Paris, France with her older friend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy).

Not long after the girls arrive in Paris, they are kidnapped by a group of men. Bryan races to Paris to find Kim, but her kidnappers are ruthless, murderous men who hide in Paris’ shadowy criminal underworld. Now, he must rely on old skills as he races through Paris’ darker districts to save his daughter before she disappears forever. Heaven help anyone who gets in his way.

I had put off seeing Taken for about four years, and, now that I’ve seen it, I can say that it easily surpassed my expectations. Taken is a terrific thriller. It is a feisty little revenge flick that plays like a big-time, big studio thriller. I think that there are a few holes in the plot and even some things that the characters do in the movie that poke credulity. It is not enough to stop me from enjoying the movie.

Perhaps, this film was not meant to be a Liam Neeson vehicle, but it became one because of Neeson’s fierce performance. He is genuine as a daddy both desperate to make up for lost time with his daughter and resolved to let no one and no thing get in the way of him finding his stolen child. Neeson does the best killer-robot-like-action dude. When other actors take on that kind of character, they can sometimes seem too cold and/or too stiff: either inadvertently (Wesley Snipes in Blade: Trinity) or because of limited acting range (Chuck Norris – pick a movie).

I must also say that, once again, the Luc Besson slick-shiny-cool action movie generator has produced another pop movie hit. Director Pierre Morel plows through this script’s inanities like a chef determined to make the best meal that he can out of Big Mac ingredients. His resulting dish, Taken, is actually quite tasty.

8 of 10

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday, November 12, 2012

Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson Join LEGO Movie Voice Cast

Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman and Alison Brie Join New LEGO® Movie Cast in Starring Vocal Roles

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman and Alison Brie are the latest stars to sign on for the new LEGO® feature film adventure, currently in production. The four will join Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Morgan Freeman in voicing characters for the upcoming original 3D animated film, set for a February 7, 2014 release, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.

The first-ever full length theatrical LEGO movie follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

Ferrell (“The Campaign”) stars as the voice of Emmet’s primary adversary, President Business, an erudite, anal-retentive CEO who has a hard time balancing world domination with micro-managing his own life; while Neeson (“Taken” and “Taken 2,” Oscar nominee for “Schindler’s List”) stars as the voice of the president’s powerful henchman, known as Bad Cop, who will stop at nothing to catch Emmet. Offerman (NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”) takes on the role of a craggy, swaggering pirate obsessed with revenge on President Business and Brie (NBC’s “Community”) plays a sweet, loveable member of Emmet’s team with a powerful secret.

Chris Pratt (“Moneyball”) stars as the voice of Emmet. Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) and Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games,” Emmy nominee for “30 Rock”), will star as two of Emmet’s fellow travelers: Vitruvius, an old mystic; and tough-as-nails Lucy, who mistakes Emmet for the savior of the world and guides him on his quest. Lucy also calls upon the mysterious Batman, a LEGO minifigure voiced by Will Arnett (Emmy nominee, “30 Rock”), with whom she shares a history.

The 3D computer animated adventure will open nationwide on February 7, 2014.

Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (“21 Jump Street,” Golden Globe nominee “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) are directing from their original screenplay, story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO construction toys. The film will incorporate some of the most popular LEGO figures while introducing several new characters, inviting fans who have enjoyed the brand’s innovative toys and hugely popular video games for generations to experience their visually unique LEGO world as never seen before.

The film will be produced by Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”) and Roy Lee (“The Departed,” “How to Train Your Dragon”). It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

LEGO, its logo, brick & knob configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2012 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Wrath of the Titans" Mostly Tepid

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 71 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Running time: 99 minutes (1 hour, 39 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Liebesman
WRITERS: Dan Mazeau and David Leslie Johnson; from a story by Greg Berlanti, David Leslie Johnson and Dan Mazeau (based upon the 1981 screenplay by Beverley Cross)
PRODUCERS: Basil Iwanyk and Polly Johnsen
EDITOR: Martin Walsh
COMPOSER: Javier Navarrete


Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, John Bell, Lily James, Alejandro Naranjo, Sinead Cusack, Spencer Wilding, and Danny Huston

Released earlier this year, Wrath of the Titans is a 2012 American fantasy film. It is a sequel to the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans (itself a remake of the 1981 film of the same name). Perseus, the hero of first film, must free his father, Zeus, from the underworld and also stop an ancient evil from destroying the universe. Louis Leterrier, the director of the 2010 film, acts as one of Wrath of the Titans’ executive producers.

Wrath of the Titans opens a decade after Perseus’ heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken. Since the death of his wife, Io, Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus, is attempting to live a quiet life as a village fisherman and as the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius (John Bell). Meanwhile, the power of the gods has been fading, and the walls of the underworld prison, Tartarus, are breaking and threatening to free the imprisoned Titans. Both are caused by humanity’s growing lack of devotion to the gods.

Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) travel to Tartarus to meet their estranged brother, Hades (Ralph Fiennes), hoping that they can reunite and rebuild Tartarus’ walls, but Hades has other plans. He imprisons Zeus and begins to drain him of his divine power, which Hades will use to revive the monstrous Kronos, the father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. As Kronos slowly revives, the Titans are loosed upon Earth.

Now, Perseus leads a small band of brave souls towards the treacherous underworld to rescue his father, Zeus. He must also gather the three great weapons of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon: Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades’ Pitchfork, and Poseidon’s Trident, in order to form the one weapon that can stop Kronos, the Spear of Trium.

I’m not sure what I should say about Wrath of the Titans. I liked some of it, especially the last act, which is mostly action and which mostly held my attention. I strongly disliked the first act, which is mechanical and surprisingly unimaginative. The middle act has some good ideas and moments. Wrath of the Titans lacks the charm of the 1981 film, and in this film, Perseus, lacks the passion he had in the 2010 movie. That is surprising considering that Perseus has something big for which he must fight – a son.

I can say that after seeing this, I am glad that I didn’t go to the trouble of driving to the local cinema and spending money for a ticket to see Wrath of the Titans. I think that it is time to put this franchise to rest.

5 of 10

Friday, September 07, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: "Schindler's List" is Fine Art

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 19 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Schindler’s List (1993) – B&W with color segments
Running time: 194 minutes (3 hour, 14 minutes)
MPAA – R for language, some sexuality and actuality violence
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
WRITER: Steven Zaillian (from the novel by Thomas Keneally)
PRODUCERS: Gerald R. Molen, Branko Lustig, and Spielberg
EDITOR: Michael Kahn, A.C.E.
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/WAR with elements of thriller

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle, and Embeth Davidtz

When Steven Spielberg finally won his Oscar for “Best Director,” he also picked up an additional statue as a producer when Schindler’s List won the “Best Picture” of 1993. Schindler’s List is without a doubt one of the greatest films of the last quarter of the 20th century, and it is also truly film as art.

The film’s title character is the real life Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi Party and a war profiteer. The Czech-born, German businessman made his fortune exploiting cheap Jewish labor in German-occupied Poland. As World War II progresses, Schindler grows more horrified as the Nazi’s step up the process of exterminating Jews, especially after he witnesses the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto in 1943. He convinces a barbaric German commander, Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), to let him have the 1100 Polish Jews he has on a list he created with his longtime partner and Jewish prisoner, Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley). This group of Jews are scheduled to be gassed at Auschwitz, but he is allowed to use them to operate a munitions factory at Brinnlitz. The second half of the film follows Schindler as he lavishly spends his fortune on bribes, parties, and gifts on important German officials who will tolerate him using Jewish workers. Schindler’s Jews and their benefactor struggle to stay alive as Germany steadily loses the war because it is at this point that Germany begins to try to hide evidence of the Holocaust.

Although many have criticized the film for being overly-sentimental, propagandistic, and historically inaccurate (Oskar Schindler may have been less charitable and more opportunistic in his quest to save the Jews, and Jewish prisoners may have had to pay their way onto the list, according to some), Schindler’s List is nevertheless a very powerful film. It resonates more than just emotionally and is also a very well made film. In fact, Spielberg’s mixture of classic Hollywood style, black and white photography, and a documentary-like directing technique make for a inimitable and distinctive film. Whenever the film narrative turns to Liam Neeson’s Schindler, Spielberg frames the character as if Schindler were in an archetypal 1940’s Hollywood film noir. When chronicling the Germans’ brutality against the Jews, Spielberg creates a raw, visceral, and immediate art splashed on the wide canvas of a world simultaneously real and dreamlike.

It’s a bravura effort from one of the great film helmsmen. Spielberg makes a compelling film that you can’t help but watch even as he brazenly displays the monstrous cruelty of Germans. Still, that is the way Spielberg emphasizes that the Germans considered their Jewish slaves and prisoners to have no future, that they were merely the tattered remains of a history already forgotten.

It’s a shame Neeson did not win the “Best Actor in a Leading Role” Oscar that year, losing to Tom Hanks. In many ways, Neeson is as important to the film as Spielberg. Schindler is both the foundation upon which this story is built and the axis upon which it turns. Neeson recognizes the faults of the man and subtly pushes Schindler’s less than savory attributes to the surface. He makes him more human than hero. Neeson conveys the sense that there is always something else going on in Schindler’s mind, something quite different from what he tells his friends and adversaries. An actor giving a character that much verisimilitude is rare. That Neeson can make the sly, sneaky, and recklessly flawed Schindler so engaging and intriguing is itself a work of art.

10 of 10

1994 Academy Awards: 7 wins: “Best Picture” (Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, and Branko Lustig), “Best Director” (Steven Spielberg), “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published” (Steven Zaillian), “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Allan Starski and Ewa Braun), “Best Cinematography” (Janusz Kaminski), and “Best Film Editing” (Michael Kahn), “Best Music, Original Score” (John Williams); 5 nominations: “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Liam Neeson), “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Ralph Fiennes), “Best Costume Design” (Anna B. Sheppard), “Best Makeup” (Christina Smith, Matthew W. Mungle, and Judith A. Cory), “Best Sound” (Andy Nelson, Steve Pederson, Scott Millan, and Ron Judkins)

1994 BAFTA Awards: 7 wins: Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Ralph Fiennes), “Best Cinematography” (Janusz Kaminski), “Best Editing” (Michael Kahn), “Best Film” (Steven Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, and Branko Lustig), “Best Score” (John Williams), “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Steven Zaillian), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Steven Spielberg); 6 nominations: “Best Actor” (Liam Neeson), “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Ben Kingsley), “Best Costume Design” (Anna B. Sheppard), “Best Make Up Artist” (Christina Smith, Matthew W. Mungle, Waldemar Pokromski, and Pauline Heys), “Best Production Design” (Allan Starski), and “Best Sound” (Charles L. Campbell, Louis L. Edemann, Robert Jackson, Ron Judkins, Andy Nelson, Steve Pederson, and Scott Millan)

1994 Golden Globes: 3 wins: Best Director - Motion Picture (Steven Spielberg), “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Steven Zaillian); 3 nominations: “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (John Williams), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Liam Neeson), and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Ralph Fiennes)

2004 National Film Preservation Board: National Film Registry


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" Retains Its Innocence"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 31 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Running time: 136 minutes (2 hours, 16 minutes)
MPAA – PG for sci-fi action/violence
PRODUCER: Rick McCallum
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Ben Burtt and Paul Martin Smith
COMPOSER: John Williams
Academy Award nominee

SCI-FI/FANTASY/ACTION/ADVENTURE with elements of a thriller

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Pernilla August, (voice) Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Oliver Ford Davies, Hugh Quarshie, (voice) Ahmed Best, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Terrence Stamp, Brian Blessed, Andrew Secombe, Ray Park, (voice) Lewis Macleod, Steven Spiers, Silas Carson, Ralph Brown, and Samuel L. Jackson

The 1999 film, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, is the fourth release in the Star Wars film franchise. It is also the first film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, a series of three movies in which the stories take place before the events depicted in the original Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983). The Phantom Menace has been recently re-released as a 3D feature.

Back in 1999, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was highly-anticipated release, and although it was a tremendous success at the box office, the movie received mixed reviews from professional film critics and reviewers. The Phantom Menace received criticism from Star Wars fandom, some of it intense. However, I am a fan of The Phantom Menace, and it is my favorite of the three prequel films. My feelings about it are similar to a statement that Ewan McGregor, who starred in the film, made, and that is that The Phantom Menace is just a little fairy tale about a group of people running from one side of the galaxy to the other, having adventures. And I like going along with them on these adventures.

Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are two Jedi Knights who must help Queen Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) save her planet Naboo from the Trade Federation, which is determined to take it. Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) is a Naboo outcast who joins the Jedi on their quest. After the group escapes from a Trade Federation-controlled Naboo, they land on the planet Tatooine, where they meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), a boy with the potential to be a powerful Jedi. Dark forces, however, hunt them in the guise of Darth Maul (Ray Park), an apprentice of the Sith, the Jedi’s ancient enemies.

Directed by George Lucas, The Phantom Menace is the first of three prequels to the original Star Wars movies (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi). Lucas doesn’t give his cast the room to stretch their characters, and his dialogue is mostly wooden and awkward. It is often painfully obvious in how unpolished both the acting and the writing is. Neeson has the most room to roam, but McGregor’s talent is sadly wasted. The driest performance has to be that of Lloyd as the young Anakin Skywalker, he his moments. Jar Jar Binks is a computer-generated character, and while Best does excellent work in creating a unique voice for the character, Jar Jar is an annoying character.

Other than that, TPM is a blast. In a way, it is like a fairy tale in which the cast runs from one hot spot to another, barely staying ahead of the bad guys. In the pod race sequence that occurs in the middle of the film, one can see Lucas’s ability to craft scenes of breath taking intensity that match the best car chases and chase scenes with the flair of the movie serials of Hollywood’s bygone era. Maul’s attack on Qui-Gon and, later, the final battle between the two Jedi and the Sith apprentice are exciting and beautifully staged. In fact, the action sequences are so good that they make up for TPM’s duller moments.

Although it doesn’t recall the excitement of Star Wars or have the dramatic impact of The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is fun. It doesn’t try to be quality filmmaking so much as it dares to be quality, lightweight entertainment. And at that, it is very good.

7 of 10

2000 Academy Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing” (Ben Burtt and Tom Bellfort), “Best Effects, Visual Effects” (John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Scott Squires, and Rob Coleman), and “Best Sound” (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Shawn Murphy, and John Midgley)

2000 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects” (John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Scott Squires, and Rob Coleman) and “Best Sound” (Ben Burtt, Tom Bellfort, John Midgley, Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, and Shawn Murphy)

2000 Razzie Awards: 1 win: “Worst Supporting Actor” (Ahmed Best, the voice of Jar-Jar Binks); 6 nominations: “Worst Picture” (20th Century-Fox), “Worst Director” (George Lucas), “Worst Screen Couple” (Jake Lloyd and Natalie Portman), “Worst Screenplay” (George Lucas), “Worst Supporting Actor” (Jake Lloyd), and “Worst Supporting Actress” (Sofia Coppola)