Showing posts with label New Line Cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Line Cinema. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Review: First "MORTAL KOMBAT" Film Has Not Lost its Immortal Charm

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 50 of 2023 (No. 1939) by Leroy Douresseaux

Mortal Kombat (1995)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for non-stop martial arts action and some violence
DIRECTOR:  Paul Anderson
WRITER:  Kevin Droney (based on the video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias)
PRODUCER:  Lawrence Kasanoff
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  John R. Leonetti (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Martin Hunter
COMPOSER:  George S. Clinton


Starring:  Robin Shou, Christopher Lambert, Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, Trevor Goddard, Chris Casamassa, Francois Petit, Keith H. Cooke, Steven Ho, Gregory McKinney, and the voices of Frank Welker, Ed Boon, and Kevin Michael Richardson

Mortal Kombat is a 1995 martial arts and action fantasy film directed by Paul W. S. Anderson.  It is the first film in the Mortal Kombat film franchise, and is based on the video game series, Mortal Kombat, which began in 1992.  Mortal Kombat the movie focuses on three martial artists who find themselves entered into a martial arts tournament that will decide the fate of Earth.

Mortal Kombat opens in the dreams of Liu Kang (Robin Shou), a former Shaolin monk.  Kang dreams of the death of his brother, Chan (Steven Ho), at the hands of Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a powerful sorcerer.  Now, Kang is determined to avenge his brother's death, and to do this, his most enter the tournament, Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat is a martial arts tournament that is held once every generation between the representatives of the realms of Earth and Outworld .  There have been nine previous editions of the tournament, and the realm of Earth has lost all of them.  If the warriors of Earth lose this tenth tournament, the realm of Outworld and its Emperor will invade the realm of Earth.

Although Kang's former comrades in “the Order of Light” are reluctant to have him represent them in the tournament, Lord Rayden (Christopher Lambert), the god of thunder and defender of the realm of Earth, believes Kang is the right choice.  In addition to Kang, Rayden has chosen two other entrants, Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby), a movie star who wants to prove that his martial arts skills are legitimate, and Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson), an American special forces operative, who is hunting another entrant in Mortal Kombat.  That would be Kano (Trevor Goddard), a criminal allied with Shang Tsung.

Kang, Cage, and Blade travel to Shang Tsung's island where they meet Princess Kitana (Talisa Soto), the Emperor's adopted daughter, who wants to ally with the Earth warriors.  With its strange rules, Tsung's weird warriors, and lurking danger, Mortal Kombat will test the warriors from the realm of Earth to their limits.

I first saw Mortal Kombat when it was initially released to theaters in August 1995.  I liked the movie, but at the time, I was not overwhelmed by it.  I do remember it fondly because I saw it with coworker who was a fellow college student and also a dear friend for many years.  Since then, I have grown fond of Mortal Kombat, and I have wondered why over the years.

The Mortal Kombat video game and subsequent film adaptation are hugely influenced by the legendary Bruce Lee's classic 1973 martial arts film, Enter the Dragon.  There seems to be some kind of mental and dream time connection in my mind and imagination between this first Mortal Kombat film and Enter the Dragon, which is one of my all-time favorite films.  [However, I have only watched the 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, in its entirety once, and I have not seen the 2021 franchise reboot, Mortal Kombat.]

Mortal Kombat is by no means perfect.  Some of the dialogue is stiff, and is made stiffer by the actors' deliveries, especially in the case of Bridgette Wilson as Sonya Blade and Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage.  However, the two aren't always bad, and I find them rather likable.  Christopher Lambert is unfortunate as Lord Rayden, I'm sad to say; everything about his character is forced and contrived.  Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is over the top and melodramatic as Shang Tsung, but I really dig his performance and his character.  I think there isn't enough of Tagawa's Shang Tsung.

The two best things about Mortal Kombat 1995 are Robin Shou as Liu Kang and the film's soundtrack.  Shou, an underutilized Hong Kong-born actor, is magnetic as Kang, and Shou is the one that makes the film more than just a standard martial arts/action-fantasy film.  Mortal Kombat also features The Immortals' single, “Techno-Syndrome,” with its signature yell of “Mortal Kombat!”  It lifts this movie any time a few strains of it are played, and the music certainly creates a sense of anticipation for me.

So Mortal Kombat is by no means a great film; it may even be a mediocre film.  For me, however, it seems to get better each time I watch it.  I think I hear the opening notes of “Techno-Sydrome” now.  “MORTAL KOMBAT!”

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Monday, December 4, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Review: "CREED II" Stands Strongly on Its Own

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 10 of 2023 (No. 1899) by Leroy Douresseaux

Creed II (2018)
Running time:  130 minutes (2 hours, 10 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality
DIRECTOR:  Steven Caple, Jr.
WRITERS: Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone; based on a story by Sascha Penn and Cheo Hodari Coker (based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone and Ryan Coogler)
PRODUCERS:  William Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, and Irwin Winker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Kramer Morgenthau (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider, and Paul Harb
COMPOSER:  Ludwig Goransson


Starring:  Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Milo Ventimiglia, Robbie Johns, Brigitte Nielsen, Andre Ward, Tony Bellew, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, Max Kellerman, Jim Lampley, Roy Jones, Jr., Michael Buffer, and Scott Van Pelt

Creed II is a 2018 boxing drama and sports movies directed by Steven Caple, Jr.  It is the eighth entry in the Rocky film series, which began with the 1976 film, Rocky.  Creed II is also a sequel to 2015's Creed, which was a spin-off of the Rocky series.  In Creed II, newly crowned heavyweight champion, Adonis Creed, faces off against a boxer who is the son of the man who killed his father in the boxing ring.

Creed II opens three years after the events depicted in Creed.  Boxer Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) finally defeats his rival, Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (Andre Ward), to win the heavyweight championship of the world.  By his side is his trainer, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), the rival-turned-friend of his late father, Apollo Creed.  Creed's widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), who adopted Donnie as her son, is proud of him and his accomplishments.  His girlfriend, singer-songwriter Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson), also accepts his proposal of marriage

On the other side of the world, however, ghosts from his and Rocky's pasts stir. In Kyiv, Ukraine lives Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the former Soviet Union boxer who killed Apollo Creed during a bout in 1985.  After losing to Rocky in a subsequent boxing match, Ivan moved to Ukraine in exile.  Seeking an opportunity for redemption and a chance to regain glory, Ivan has been training his son, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), to be a professional boxer.  Using training methods that are practically torture, Ivan has turned Viktor into a monster of a boxer who can and has broken his opponents' bodies.

Assisted by American boxing promoter, Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby), Ivan is determined to get Viktor a match against Donnie.  For Donnie, it is a chance to settle his late father's affairs, but Rocky wants no part of such a match.  Can Donnie's body take the punishment fighting Viktor will inflict?  Donnie must also answer this question: why is he really a fighter?

As I said in my review of Creed, I have never watched the movie, Rocky, or any of its sequels in their entirety.  I doubt that I have ever watched enough of them to amount to an entire film.  I don't like boxing movies, but after watching these Creed films, I am thinking about diving into the Rocky series.

I thought director Ryan Coogler delivered some powerful work in the first Creed, and I think director Steven Caple, Jr. delivers an equally powerful film in Creed II.  Although Creed II's story is directly connected to 1985's Rocky IV, it is not as reliant on the Rocky franchise the way Creed, with its multiple intimate connections, was.

Like Coogler did in the first film, Caple gives Sylvester Stallone the space he needs to give one of his best performances as Rocky Balboa in decades.  Stallone, who also co-wrote Creed II's screenplay, actually evolves the character of Rocky, showing more about his character and life.

Caple also gets an excellent performance from Michael B. Jordan.  Jordan makes Adonis Creed seem genuine; all his hopes and dreams and the things that make him proud or angry resonate strongly in Creed II.  I dare say that Jordan is Adonis Creed the way great actors have seemingly made themselves into their characters (for instance, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and as Henry “Indiana” Jones).  Simply put, Jordan makes Donnie real.

Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor is good, but the character seems as if she is becoming a younger version of Phylicia Rashad's Mary Anne, and Rashad already does the mothering in this film quite well.  Dolph Lundgren is nice as Ivan Drago, delivering a layered performance as a fully developed character.  I must say, however, that Florian Munteanu is magnificent as Viktor Drago.  Viktor does not have many lines, but Munteanu tells the character's story and reveals his personality with his expressive eyes and emotive facial expressions.  Viktor Drago needs his own movie.

I did not think that I would like Creed II so much, but I love it.  I think its depictions of boxing matches are more intense than those in Creed (shout-out to Creed II's editors:  Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider, and Paul Harb).  The finale between Donnie and Viktor is the cherry on top of Creed II, a movie that can go toe-to-toe with the other boxing movies that I have deigned to watch.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Thursday, March 2, 2023

2019 Black Reel Awards:  2 nominations: “Outstanding Actor” (Michael B. Jordan) and “Outstanding Score” (Ludwig Göransson)

2019 Image Awards (NAACP): 1 nomination: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Michael B. Jordan)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.



Saturday, February 25, 2023

Review: "CREED" Fights Furiously in the Shadow of "Rocky"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 9 of 2023 (No. 1898) by Leroy Douresseaux

Creed (2015)
Running time:  133 minutes (2 hours, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality
DIRECTOR:  Ryan Coogler
WRITERS: Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington; from a story by Ryan Coogler (based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone)
PRODUCERS:  Roger Chartoff, William Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, and Irwin Winker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Maryse Alberti (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Claudia Castello and Michael P. Shawver
COMPOSER:  Ludwig Goransson
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Tony Bellew, Ritchie Coster, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, Graham McTavish, Gabe Rosado, Brian Anthony Wilson, Max Kellerman, Jim Lampley, Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser, and Hannah Storm

Creed is a 2015 boxing drama and sports movies directed by Ryan Coogler.  It is the seventh film in the Rocky film series, which began with the 1976 film, Rocky.  Creed is also a spin-off of the Rocky series.  The film focuses on a young boxer who struggles with his legacy, but seeks out his late father's friend and former rival to be his trainer.

Creed introduces Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan).  He is the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed via an extramarital affair.  Creed's widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), took Donnie into her home in Los Angeles, which opens up many opportunities for him.  However, Donnie also wants to be a boxer, but when he finds that no one will support or train him, he travels to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

There, he convinces Apollo Creed's old friend and former rival, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), to train him.  Initially reluctant to return to boxing, Rocky eventually agrees and begins training Donnie at his old stomping grounds, Front Street Gym.  When Donnie gets the offer to fight the “light heavyweight” champion of the world, “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew), Stallone isn't sure that he should do it.  Donnie's new girlfriend, singer-songwriter, Bianca (Tessa Thompson), also has her doubts.

To do this, Donnie will have to embrace his legacy as well as forge a new one for himself.  But is he willing to accept that the world does not want Adonis Johnson.  It wants “Adonis Creed?”

I have never watched the movie Rocky or any of its sequels in their entirety.  I doubt that I have ever watched enough of them to amount to an entire film.  I don't like boxing movies, although there is one I do like, the 1949 Film-Noir, The Set-Up.  However, I have been a fan of writer-director Ryan Coogler since seeing his powerful film debut, Fruitvale Station (2013).  I am crazy about his two films for Disney's Marvel Studios, Black Panther (2018) and its sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022).  I am intrigued by the upcoming Creed III, so I decided to see the one Coogler film that I'd skipped, the first film in the series, 2015's Creed.

In some ways, Creed seems entirely reliant on the first three film in the Rocky series.  It obviously would not exist with those films, but sometimes Creed acts as if it could not exist without constantly referencing the past.  Creed, as a film, struggles with its own legacy (Rocky) as it tries to become its own thing just as Adonis Johnson struggles with the legacy of Apollo Creed.  Will becoming Adonis Creed overshadow Adonis' own identity and achievements?  Can Creed escape the shadow of Rocky.  Perhaps, they find a happy medium, Adonis more so than the film that tells his story.

Beyond that, Creed is a really good film because Ryan Coogler is an exceptionally good filmmaker.  Here, his work makes him come across as a natural, and I now see why Marvel was willing to consider him for Black Panther all those years ago.  Coogler gives Sylvester Stallone the space he needs to give his best performance as Rocky Balboa in three decades.  The role had become a stereotype, but here, Coogler makes old and ailing Rocky seem like a genuine life lived instead of as a caricature revived.

Coogler also gets Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson to give what still seem to be the best performances of their careers.  Adonis and Bianca have weight and depth, and Jordan makes Adonis feel like an especially developed character.  Jordan carries Adonis' history and emotions as if they were real things.

It is a shame that the Oscars could only recognize Stallone – via the “Best Supporting Actor” category that he did not, but should have won.  It is as if the Academy, especially the directors and screenwriters' branches, fears Ryan Coogler colossal talent.  Still, Creed, in spite of its spin-off imperfections, will be remembered much more than many of 2016's Oscar favorites.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Saturday, February 25, 2023

2016 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Sylvester Stallone)

2016 Black Reel Awards:  5 wins: “Outstanding Actor, Motion Picture” (Michael B. Jordan), “Outstanding Supporting Actress, Motion Picture” (Tessa Thompson), “Outstanding Director, Motion Picture” (Ryan Coogler), “Outstanding Original or Adapted Screenplay, Motion Picture” (Aaron Covington and Ryan Coogler), and “Outstanding Motion Picture” (Sylvester Stallone, Irwin Winkler, David Winkler, Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Kevin King-Templeton); 4 nominations: “Outstanding Score” (Ludwig Göransson), “Outstanding Ensemble” (Francine Maisler), “Outstanding Original Song” (Tessa Thompson, Ludwig Göransson, and Sam Dew for the song, “Grip”), “Outstanding Original Song” (Donald Glover, Vince Staples, Jhené Aiko, Ryan Coogler, and Ludwig Göransson for the song, “Waiting for My Moment”)

2016 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Sylvester Stallone)

2016 Image Awards (NAACP):  4 wins: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Michael B. Jordan), “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Tessa Thompson), “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture-Theatrical” (Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington), “Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture-Theatrical” (Ryan Coogler); 2 nominations: “Outstanding Motion Picture” and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Phylicia Rashad)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.



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Friday, January 13, 2023

Review: Original "HOUSE PARTY" is Still Letting the Mutha Burn

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 of 2023 (No. 1892) by Leroy Douresseaux

House Party (1990)
Running time:  104 minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Reginald Hudlin
PRODUCER:  Warrington Hudlin
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Peter Deming (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Earl Watson
COMPOSERS: Marcus Miller and Lenny White


Starring:  “Kid 'n Play”: Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin; Robin Harris, Martin Lawrence; “Full Force”: “Paul Anthony” George, Lucien “Bow-Legged Lou” George, Jr., and Brian “B-Fine” George; Tisha Campbell, A.J. Johnson; “Grove B. Chill: Gene “Groove” Allen and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell; Kelly Jo Minter, John Witherspoon, BeBe Drake, Clifton Powell, J. Jay Saunders, Barry Diamond, Michael Pniewski, and George Clinton

House Party is a 1990 comedy film from writer-director Reginald Hudlin.  The film stars the then popular hip duo, “Kid 'n Play,” and is based on Hudlin's 1983 student short film, which he made while attending Harvard University.  House Party focuses on music, romance, and the unpredictable at school night house party.

House Party also features supporting performances by three members of “Full Force,” a hip hop and R&B musical group known for singing, songwriting, and producing.  There are also two members of the hip hop duo, “Groove B. Chill,” and a cameo by noted funk musician, George Clinton.  The film also stars the late comedian Robin Harras (1953-90), who died nine days after the film's release.

House Party introduces aspiring rapper, Christopher Robinson, Jr. a.ka. “Kid” (Christopher “Kid” Reid).  He is looking forward to a house party thrown by one of his best friends, Peter Martin a.k.a “Play”(Christopher “Play” Martin).  However, while at high school, Kid has a lunchroom altercation with a bully, Stab (“Paul Anthony” George), and his two associates, Pee-Wee (Lucien “Bow-Legged Lou” George, Jr.) and Zilla (Brian “B-Fine” George).

Kid goes home and convinces his father, Christopher Robinson, Sr. a.k.a. “Pops” (Robin Harris), to let him attend the party, although it is on a school night.  After he receives a note from Kid's school about the lunchroom fight, Pops forbids Kid from attending the party as punishment.  Kid sneaks out and attends the party anyway, but his father isn't the only one he has to avoid.  Stab and the boys are ready to deliver a beat-down as soon as they find Kid.  Will Kid avoid his tormentors long enough to enjoy the party?  Which girl will Kid choose:  Sydney (Tisha Campbell) or Sharane (A.J. Johnson)?  Will Play stop annoying Bilal (Martin Lawrence), the DJ at his party?  And who will win the battle of rhymes – Kid or Play?

The National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress recently made House Party one of its 2022 selections to the  “National Film Registry.”  Films that make the registry are considered to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

House Party certainly fits that description, perhaps on all levels.  House Party was the first African-American teen comedy to receive mainstream success, both theatrically and in home entertainment.  As a “hood movie” (a film set in an inner city, predominantly African-American neighborhood), it shares elements with other other hood films:  police harassment, school violence, “the projects,” single-parent homes, working class homes, poverty, etc.  However, House Party is straight comedy, and what other “hood movies” treat as high drama or as teary melodrama, House Party plays for humor.  For instance, the character Sharane is “from the projects,” but she lives in an apartment in a nicely appointed Section 8 complex with her quiet, extended family.  Also, the two white police officers that vex Kid and Stab, Pee-Wee and Zilla are mostly harmless, although the film does suggest that they do physically abuse some of the characters off-camera.

Despite the fact that the film was released almost 33 years ago and was likely filmed almost 34 years ago, House Party still seems fresh.  Perhaps, that is because the film is filled with authentic examples of the African-American pop culture of the time.  The fashions, hairstyles, dancing, music, and dialogue are more treasures (sans the edginess) from a time capsule than than they are remnants from a bygone era.

This recent viewing was the first time in about 30 years that I had watched the film in its entirety, and I discovered that I still love the cast today as much as I did then.  Some, like Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, and Darryl “Chill” Mitchell, have had long careers in television.  Others, like Kid 'n Play, left their heyday behind decades ago, which is a shame.  As “Kid 'n Play,” Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin were personable and had excellent chemistry together.  I think media companies never really tapped into their potential as media stars.  It is also a little sad to wonder what would have been with Robin Harris in regards to the House Party sequels.

At that time, however, the entire cast came together and worked like a well-oiled machine.  House Party's infectious and exuberant soundtrack provides the perfect backdrop to writer-director Reginald Hudlin's lighthearted, but energetic comic romp.  The plot is fairly routine, but the execution is what makes this film really work.  Maybe, what makes House Party “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” is that it was and still is a fresh look at Black teens who party hard and squabble often without anyone getting a cap popped in his or her ass.  House Party still seems unique, and I can attest that it is still a blast to watch.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Thursday, January 12, 2023

2022 National Film Preservation Board:  1 win:  “National Film Registry”

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



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Friday, October 21, 2022

Review: Uneven, Bombastic "BLACK ADAM" is Strictly for Fans

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 63 of 2022 (No. 1875) by Leroy Douresseaux

Black Adam (2022)
Running time:  124 minutes (2 hours, 4 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language.
DIRECTOR:  Jaume Collet-Serra
WRITERS:  Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani (based on characters created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck)
PRODUCERS:  Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, and Beau Flynn
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Lawrence Sher (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  John Lee and Michael L. Sale
COMPOSER:  Lorne Balfe


Starring:  Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Quintessa Swindell, Marwan Kenzari, Bodhi Sabongui, Mohammed Amer, Jalon Christian, Henry Winkler, and Djimon Hounsou with Viola Davis and Henry Cavill

Black Adam is a 2022 superhero and action-fantasy film from director Jaume Collet-Serra.  The film is based on characters created by writers Bill Parker and Otto Binder and artist C.C. Beck originally for defunct publisher, Fawcett Comics, and now owned by DC Comics.  Black Adam the movie focuses on a legendary hero who returns to life after nearly 5000 years, bringing his unique form of justice to his besieged homeland.

Black Adam opens in 2600 BC.  In the city of Kahndaq, there is a legend that the tyrannical king, Anh-Kot (Marwan Kenzari), intended to create an object of dark magic, the Crown of Sabbac, which is known to give the wearer great power.  He enslaves his own people and forces them to dig in the mountains for “Eternium,” the magical crystal Anh-Kot will use to make the crown.  A legendary hero, Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), arises and kills Anh-Kot before the hero himself is buried somewhere in the ruins of the Anh-Kot's castle – so the legends say.

Present day Kahndaq is oppressed by members of the international crime syndicate known as “Intergang.”  They are searching for university professor and resistance fighter, Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi).  She is trying to locate the Crown of Sabbac, with the help of her brother, Karim (Mohammed Amer), and some of his colleagues.  Ambushed after finding the crown, Adrianna revives Teth-Adam, and although he kills her assailants, the risen hero proves to be something much less than a hero.

Meanwhile, from the United States, the superhero Hawkman/Carter Hall (Aldis Hodge) leads a group of heroes, the Justice SocietyDoctor Fate/Kent Nelson (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone/Maxine Hunkel (Quintessa Swindell), and newcomer Atom Smasher/Albert “Al” Rothstein (Noah Centineo), into Kahndaq to take Teth-Adam into custody.  While Adrianna and her son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), watch, Teth-Adam battles the Justice Society throughout the city.  However, Teth-Adam will be forced to confront the truth about himself and about his past if he and the Justice Society are going to stop a great evil from ruling Kahndaq again.

In case you are wondering, Teth-Adam does not become “Black Adam” until the end of the film.  He is neither hero nor villain.  Black Adam, in the case of this film, is not so much an anti-hero as he is simply Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  The movie only exists because Johnson willed it into existence.  Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films' original plan was apparently to make Black Adam a supporting character/villain in the movie Shazam that was released in 2019.  Johnson wanted more for the character than to be a mere lackey, and truthfully, had he appeared in Shazam as Black Adam, Johnson, as an international movie star with a huge personality, would have dominated the film in ways that probably would have been bad for it.

In the case of Black Adam the movie, it is Johnson's will that holds this film together, otherwise, it would fall apart.  The screenplay is a disaster with a plot that is a patchwork of clumsy sub-plots.  The film's pace is uneven, being a mixture of tedious action sequences and unnecessary fighting.  The characters are either barely likable or are ridiculous.  The kid character, Amon Tomaz, is actually quite nice, but his mother, Adrianna, is really irritating.

Don't get me started on the Justice Society.  As Hawkman, actor Aldis Hodge is so intense that it makes a lot of his performance seem like overacting.  [Actor Michael B. Jordan also has a problem with being too intense.]  Pierce Brosnan is embarrassing as Doctor Fate, but Brosnan's problems could be a poorly written character and crappy dialogue.  The superhero Cyclone is … tragic.  So is Atom Smasher, but actor Noah Centineo delivers Smasher's bad dialogue in a way that sounds funny.

Twice while watching Black Adam, I wanted to walk out of the film, but I was seeing it with a friend.  Black Adam seems much longer than its 124-minute running time.  At one point, I thought the film was over, so I checked my phone and discovered that there was more than a half-hour left.  I can only recommend this films to die hard fans of superhero movies and to fans of Dwayne Johnson.  I could not recommend this film to anyone else.  I'm only giving this film a “C” grade because I am a fan of Johnson and an admirer of what he has built for himself; if not for him, I don't know how much lower I would go.  I am not sure that I could watch Black Adam again, even in bits and pieces when it becomes a cable TV staple.

4 of 10
★★ out of 4 stars

Friday, October 21, 2022

The text is copyright © 2022 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Monday, August 15, 2022

Olivia Wilde's "Don't Worry Darling" to World Premiere at Venice Film Festival 2022

New Line Cinema’s and Filmmaker Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling” to World Premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New Line Cinema’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” the highly anticipated second feature from director Olivia Wilde, is set to make its out-of-competition world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia, running from August 31st to September 10th, 2022. The announcement was made today by Alberto Barbera, Director of the 79th Venice International Film Festival of La Biennale di Venezia.

In tandem with the announcement, Wilde—who will attend the Festival, along with co-stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Gemma Chan and Chris Pine—stated, “I am honored and thrilled that ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. When we dreamed of making this movie, we imagined Venice as our ultimate goal, and we can hardly believe it’s really happening! From our cast —led by the formidable Florence Pugh and Harry Styles—to the design of this world and the kinetic cinematography, the film was crafted for viewing in the collective setting of the theatrical experience. For this first screening to take place in the jewel-like surroundings of the Venice Lido and in the presence of some of international cinema’s most accomplished artists is beyond exciting. I look forward to sharing the visceral ride of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ with the world, beginning with the Venice Film Festival, and I wish to thank Alberto Barbera and the Biennale for the selection. This is truly a dream come true.”

The Venice International Film Festival is officially recognized by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association). The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. The Festival also organizes retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards a better understanding of the history of cinema.

From New Line Cinema comes “Don’t Worry Darling,” directed by Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”) and starring Florence Pugh (Oscar-nominated for “Little Women”), Harry Styles (“Dunkirk”), Wilde (upcoming “Babylon”), Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”), KiKi Layne (“The Old Guard”) and Chris Pine (“All the Old Knives”).

Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia.

While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause.

But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise?

An audacious, twisted and visually stunning psychological thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a powerhouse feature from director Olivia Wilde that boasts bold performances from Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, surrounded by the impressive and pitch-perfect cast.

The film also stars Nick Kroll (“How It Ends”), Sydney Chandler (“Pistol”), Kate Berlant (“Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood”), Asif Ali (“WandaVision”), Douglas Smith (“Big Little Lies”), Timothy Simons (“Veep”) and Ari’el Stachel (“Respect the Jux”).

Wilde directs from a screenplay penned by her “Booksmart” writer Katie Silberman, based on a story by Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke (“Chernobyl Diaries”) and Silberman. The film is produced by Wilde, Silberman, Miri Yoon and Roy Lee, with Richard Brener, Celia Khong, Alex G. Scott, Catherine Hardwicke, Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke executive producing.

Wilde is joined behind the camera by two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography Matthew Libatique (“A Star Is Born,” “Black Swan”), production designer Katie Byron (“Booksmart”), editor Affonso Gonçalves (“The Lost Daughter”), Oscar-nominated composer John Powell (“Jason Bourne”), music supervisor Randall Poster (“No Time to Die”) and costume designer Arianne Phillips (“Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood”).

A New Line Cinema presentation, “Don’t Worry Darling” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and is set to open in theaters internationally beginning September 21, 2022 and in North America on September 23, 2022.


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Review: "THE CONJURING: The Devil Made Me Do It" is Crazy and Scary as Hell

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 1 of 2022 (No. 1813) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
Running time:  112 minutes (1 hour, 52 minutes)
MPAA – R for terror, violence and some disturbing images
DIRECTOR:  Michael Chaves
WRITERS:  David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick; from a story by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and James Wan (based on characters created by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes)
PRODUCERS:  Peter Safran and James Wan
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Michael Burgess (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Peter Gvozdas and Christian Wagner
COMPOSER:  Joseph Bishara


Starring:  Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O'Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugenie Bondurant, Shannon Kook, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Keith Arthur Bolden, and Sterling Jerins

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a 2021 supernatural horror film from director Michael Chaves.  The film is a direct sequel to 2016's The Conjuring 2 and is the third film in The Conjuring series and also the eighth film in “The Conjuring Universe.”  Once again, actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play fictional versions of real life, American paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren.  In The Devil Made Me Do It, the Warrens investigate a murder linked to demonic possession.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opens on July 18, 1981 in Brookfield, Connecticut.  Noted paranormal investigators, Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), are assisting in and documenting in the exorcism of eight-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard), which is being performed a Catholic priest.  The exorcism is also attended by David's parents; his sister, Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook), her boyfriend, Arne Johnson (Ruairi O'Connor).  During the exorcism, the demon transports itself into Arne.  Ed witnesses this, but suffers a heart attack and falls into an unconscious state before he can warn anyone.

The following month, Ed wakes up at the hospital and reveals to Lorraine that he witnessed the demon enter Arne's body.  Meanwhile, Arne and Debbie have returned to their apartment located above Brookfield Boarding Kennels where Debbie works.  After feeling unwell, Arne murders the kennel's owner, Bruno Sauls (Ronnie Gene Blevins).  Arne is facing a capitol murder charge that could earn him the death sentence.  The Warrens insist that Arne's attorney defend him by claiming demonic possession as a defense.  Meanwhile, the Warrens have to find evidence that helps prove that Arne was possessed when he killed Bruno.  However, Ed and Lorraine are about to discover that in this investigation, they have both a human and a demonic adversary.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on the events surrounding the real life murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in Connecticut in 1981.  The film's narrative may also correspond with The Devil in Connecticut, a 1983 book about the trial written by Gerald Brittle.  Brittle is currently suing Warner Bros. and other parties, claiming they infringed upon his 1980 book about the Warrens, The Demonologist.

One thing that I have found is that The Conjuring film series is super-scary even when I don't focus on the Warrens' real-life investigations in which these film are supposedly based.  And The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is no less scary than the previous films in the series.  In fact, The Devil Made Me Do It may be the darkest entry in the series because it deals with horrendous human evil.  Director Michael Chaves wrings bone-chilling, heart-stopping terror from the horrific set pieces that make up The Devil Made Me Do It's narrative.  There is a sequence in a funeral home that had me glued to my chair, but I won't say more.  The fewer spoilers I offer, the more terror you will feel, dear readers.

Once again, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson give excellent performances as the Warrens.  They have the gift of making the Warrens seem like two eccentrics who are not only a loving couple, but are also ass-kicking demon fighters.  The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the kind of supernatural horror film that is as frightening as the best slasher horror films – with less bloodshed.  I hope The Conjuring series returns for a fourth time... and many more after that.

8 of 10

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Review: Jackie Chan Really Rumbles in "RUMBLE IN THE BRONX"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 53 of 2021 (No. 1791) by Leroy Douresseaux

Rumble in the Bronx (1996)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – R for some language and violent sequences
DIRECTOR:  Stanley Tong
WRITERS:  Edward Tang and Fibe Ma
PRODUCER:  Barbie Tung
EDITOR:  Peter Cheung
COMPOSER:  J. Peter Robinson


Starring:  Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Francois Yip, Bill Tung, Carrie Cain-Sparks, Morgan Lam, Marc Akerstream, Garvin Cross, Alf Humphries and Kris Lord

[Destin Daniel Cretton, the director of Marvel Studios' “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” has said in interviews that the films of Jackie Chan heavily influenced his Marvel film.  I decided to go back and take a new look at the first Jackie Chan film I saw, “Rumble in the Bronx.”]

Rumble in the Bronx is a 1995 Hong Kong martial arts film starring Jackie Chan and directed by Stanley Tong.  Both Chan and Tong directed the film's action choreography.  Rumble in the Bronx was released in Hong Kong in 1995.  New Line Cinema released an English-dub version of the film with a shorter run time than the original version in February 1996.  The film also introduced Jackie Chan to a mainstream audience in the United States.  Rumble in the Bronx focuses on a young man from Hong Kong who uses his martial arts skills to take on a street gang and murderous mobsters while visiting his uncle in New York City.

Keung (Jackie Chan) comes to New York City to attend the wedding of his Uncle Bill (Bill Tung) to his bride-to-be, Whitney (Carrie Cain-Sparks).  Uncle Bill, who lives in the Bronx, is also about to sell his grocery store, “the Wah-Ha Supermarket.”  Keung meets Elena (Anita Mui), the woman who is buying the supermarket, and he ends up agreeing to stay in the U.S. a little longer to help Elena with the transition of ownership

What Keung does not know is that his uncle's store and this Bronx neighborhood is plagued by a street biker street gang led by a man named Tony (Marc Akerstream).  Keung thwarts the gang members the first time he meets them, but he also meets a Danny Chan (Morgan Lam), a disabled Chinese-American boy whose sister, Nancy (Francois Yip), is a member of the gang.  Keung attempts to help Danny and Nancy, while in constant battle with Tony and his crew.  However, neither Keung or Tony know that they are about to become entangled with a vicious crime lord, White Tiger (Kris Lord).

I had heard of Jackie Chan by reputation long before I had a chance to see Rumble in the Bronx.  Prior to the release of that film in 1996, Chan was an international movie star, but only had a cult following in the U.S.  I do remember that a friend of mine at the time was a huge Jackie Chan fan and went out of her way to see his films.  Also, the fact that Rumble in the Bronx was set in New York City, but was actually shot in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada fascinated some commentators.

The truth about most Jackie Chan films is that they are not about the plot, but are an excuse to show the amazing martial arts, acrobatic, gymnastic, and stunt skills of Jackie Chan.  Chan is an amazing performer and a charismatic movie star, even when speaking in what is not his first language, English.

At the time of the U.S. theatrical release of Rumble in the Bronx, I read an article that said that Chan had been seriously injured while performing his own stunts over forty times.  For much of his career, Chan has done most of his own stunts, and Rumble in the Bronx shows Chan in all his glory.  Watching it, I saw many instances in which he did things that could and should have killed him.  But Chan is like a real-life superhero, getting up every time he is knocked down.  Once I started watching Rumble in the Bronx this most recent time, I had a hard time stopping for anything.  Chan moves so fast that it makes the film seem to be shorter than it actually is.

Rumble in the Bronx is also a bit odd beyond Chan's act.  The film is surprisingly humorous, making it a delightful action-comedy, but it is also unexpectedly violent, including depicting a brutal kind of murder that one would not expect in this film, considering its humorous slant.  However, Rumble in the Bronx also includes one of my favorite Jackie Chan stunts, the scamper through the grocery cart.

Rumble in the Bronx is not a great Jackie Chan film, but truthfully, it was the perfect film in which to introduce mainstream American audiences to one of China's greatest movie stars.  And, also truthful, Rumble in the Bronx is quite enjoyable.

6 of 10

Thursday, September 2, 2021

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

"The Conjuring" Cinematic Universe Surpasses Two Billion Dollars in Worldwide Box Office

New Line Cinema’s “Conjuring” Universe Surpasses $2 Billion at the Global Box Office

Visionary filmmakers James Wan and Peter Safran’s hugely popular franchise has crossed the major milestone and remains the most successful horror series of all time

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amidst the global pandemic, New Line Cinema’s “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” which kicked off the summer as theaters continue to open around the world, has taken in more than $196 million worldwide, pushing filmmaker James Wan and producer Peter Safran’s “Conjuring” Universe past the $2 billion mark at the global box office, with the film still to open in such markets as Thailand, India and Japan. The announcement was made today by Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

In making the announcement, Emmerich said, “Our thanks to James, Peter, all the casts and crews and Walter, Richard, Dave and the team at New Line—you’ve delivered one of the scariest and most artfully crafted horror franchises in history. These phenomenal results showcase the support of audiences and genre fans from all over the world and we congratulate you on your incredible success.”

Since it launched A Nightmare on Elm Street, New Line Cinema has created an unparalleled legacy in horror and has remained at the forefront of the modern era of the genre. Globally, all seven films in the “Conjuring” Universe rank among the top 25 horror movies of all time, with four of the titles in the top eight. The worldwide theatrical grosses for the previous “Conjuring” Universe films stand as: “The Nun” at $366,172,824; “The Conjuring 2” at $321,571,936; “The Conjuring” at $320,219,495; “Annabelle: Creation” at $306,776,383; “Annabelle” at $257,670,907; and “Annabelle Comes Home” at $231,402,409.


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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Review: "THE CONJURING 2" is One Hell of a Scary Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 38 of 2021 (No. 1776) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Running time:  134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
MPAA – R for terror and horror violence
DIRECTOR:  James Wan
WRITERS:  Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, and James Wan and David Leslie Johnson; from a story by Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes, and James Wan (based on characters created by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes)
PRODUCERS:  Rob Cowan, Peter Safran, and James Wan
EDITOR:  Kirk M. Morri
COMPOSER:  Joseph Bishara


Starring:  Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Lauren Esposito, Benjamin Haigh, Patrick McAuley, Simon McBurney, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Simon Delaney, Frank Potente, Bob Adrian, Robin Atkins Downes, Bonnie Aarons, Javier Botet, Steve Coulter, Abhi Sinha, Daniel Wolfe, and Sterling Jerins

The Conjuring 2 is a 2016 supernatural horror film from director James Wan.  The film is a direct sequel to 2013's The Conjuring and is also the third film in “The Conjuring Universe.”  Like the original film, The Conjuring 2 stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as fictional versions of real life, American paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren.  In The Conjuring 2, the Warrens travel to North London to help a single mother and her four children who are being plagued by a supernatural spirit.

The Conjuring 2 opens in 1976.  Noted paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), are involved in the investigation of the haunting of the house in Amityville, Long Island, New York, the case that came to be known as “the Amityville Horror.”  During a seance, Lorraine is drawn into a vision where she relives the murders committed in the house by Ronald DeFeo, Jr., in which he killed his mother, father, two brothers, and two sisters.  The spirit of one of the killed children lures Lorraine to the basement, where she encounters a demonic figure that looks like a nun.  Lorraine also witnesses a horrifying fate for her husband, Ed.

The Conjuring moves forward to 1977.  In Ponders End, the southeasternmost part of the London borough of Enfield, there is a council house on Green Street that is the “Hodgson Residence.”  Here, Peggy Hodgson (Frances O'Connor) lives with her four children:  daughters, Margaret (Lauren Esposito) and Janet (Madison Wolfe), and sons, Billy (Benjamin Haigh) and Johnny (Patrick McAuley).  Peggy's husband, Richard, has abandoned them, and she struggles to support her family.

In addition to financial problems, the family has another strange problem.  Janet starts to sleepwalk and to converse in her dreams with an entity in the form of an angry elderly man who sits in the family's armchair, insisting that the Hodgson Residence is really his house.  Eventually, Janet's mother and siblings begin to witness the paranormal events surrounding her.  A media firestorm ensues and a representative of “the church” asks the Warrens to travel to London and to investigate the Hodgsons' claims.  Lorraine, however, fears that this confusing case may cost Ed his life.

As much as I liked The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 is one of those cases in which the sequel surpasses the original.  The sequel is really scary, and is certainly a superior cinematic ghost story.  Not only is it spine-tingling, but it also made me feel tingling all over my body, especially in my thighs (TMI?).  The Conjuring 2 has some wild scenes that frightened me so much that I felt my butt checks really clinching (again, too much information?)  So, yeah, I'm trying to tell you that The Conjuring 2 is just plain scary.  It scared me so much that I was too afraid to finish it the first time I watched it.

Where I found the sequel to be superior is its emotional component in the form of Ed and Lorraine Warren.  As good as it was in the original film, in the sequel, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson's screen chemistry is uncannily convincing, at least as I see it.  Their performances seem so genuine and honest that they make their version of the Warrens come across as a real, longtime, loving, married couple.

Farmiga and Wilson make The Conjuring 2 so fresh and surprising, when in many ways, it is like another spin on the really scary 1979 film, The Amityville Horror.  I have confidence that going forward the (dark) fate of The Conjuring film franchise rests in the hands of its (romantic) leads.

8 of 10

Thursday, June 3, 2021

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

"Mortal Kombat" Soundtrack Due April 16th

Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Available April 16, 2021 on WaterTower Music

Features New Original Score From Golden Globe-, Grammy- and Emmy-Nominated Composer Benjamin Wallfisch

New Track “Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)” Now Available

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WaterTower Music announced the Friday, April 16, 2021 release of the soundtrack to New Line Cinema’s explosive new movie “Mortal Kombat,” which brings to life the intense action of the blockbuster video game franchise in all its brutal glory, pitting the all-time, fan-favorite champions against one another in the ultimate, no-holds-barred, gory battle that pushes them to their very limits. The film, helmed by award-winning Australian commercial filmmaker Simon McQuoid marking his feature directorial debut, is set for release nationwide in theaters on April 23, 2021 and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max in 4K UHD, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos on supported devices for 31 days from theatrical release. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) contains all new score by Golden Globe-, Emmy-, and Grammy-nominated composer Benjamin Wallfisch (IT and IT Chapter 2, Shazam, Blade Runner: 2049 [w/ Hans Zimmer]). The first single from the album has already been released. “Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)” is composer Benjamin Wallfisch’s musical homage to the music, fans, and enduring lineage of Mortal Kombat. The track was produced and performed by Wallfisch and mixed and mastered by Tom Norris (Skrillex, Gaga, Zedd).

Director Simon McQuoid discussed working with Wallfisch on the score and on “Techno Syndrome 2021.” “Ben and I both knew that we needed to use the classic Immortals track ‘Techno Syndrome’ as source material for the entire score of ‘Mortal Kombat.’ But along with that, we knew that an updated, elevated version of the song also needed to be created, and Ben certainly delivered. I am so excited by this new 2021 version of the track; when I first heard it, it blew my mind. Actually, Ben kind of blew my mind on a daily basis through the making of this film, so we can all thank Benjamin Wallfisch for his genius and passion in creating ‘Techno Syndrome 2021.’”

Benjamin Wallfisch further elaborated. “When I was invited to come on board ‘Mortal Kombat,’ I was very aware of the responsibility that comes with scoring a franchise so deeply embedded in pop culture and with such a passionate fanbase. My first question was what can we do with ‘Techno Syndrome,’ a piece of music so much part of the DNA of the game and the original movies? What motifs could be reinvented and blown up to a full-scale symphonic sound world in the score, and might there be room for a full reinvention of the whole song as an EDM single in 2021? A huge thank you to The Immortals for giving us their blessing to reimagine their classic track in this way, as a celebration of the world of Mortal Kombat and its fans, and of the uplifting power of Electronic Dance Music, which the original did so much to light the fuse of 30 years ago.”

The soundtrack release date is set for April 16 and features 24 tracks by Wallfisch, who interpreted the film’s themes and emphasized the story’s hard-driving, visceral action through his music. Fans will be thrilled to hear the composer’s heart-pumping score, which includes themes for such characters as Lord Raiden, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, Cole Young, Shang Tsung, Liu Kang, and Kung Lao, among others, and epic battle themes from the film, including “Kano v Reptile” and “Sub-Zero v Cole Young.”

Mortal Kombat (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) will be available April 16. The first single, “Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)” is now available, and the full album track list is as follows. All music by Benjamin Wallfisch.

1. Techno Syndrome 2021 (Mortal Kombat)
2. Hanzo Hasashi
3. Lord Raiden
4. Bi-Han
5. Shang Tsung
6. Cole Young
7. Birthmark
8. Sonya Blade
9. Kano v Reptile
10. Liu Kang
11. The Great Protector
12. Sub-Zero
13. Kung Lao
14. Origins
15. Kabal
16. Goro
17. Arcana
18. Jax Briggs
19. The Void
20. The Tournament
21. Sub-Zero v Cole Young
22. I Am Scorpion
23. We Fight as One
24. Get Over Here

From New Line Cinema, “Mortal Kombat” was helmed by award-winning Australian commercial filmmaker Simon McQuoid and produced by James Wan, Todd Garner, McQuoid and E. Bennett Walsh.

In “Mortal Kombat,” MMA fighter Cole Young, accustomed to taking a beating for money, is unaware of his heritage—or why Outworld's Sorcerer Shang Tsung has sent his best warrior, Sub-Zero, an otherworldly Cryomancer, to hunt him down. Fearing for his family's safety, Cole goes in search of Sonya Blade at the direction of Jax, a Special Forces Major who bears the same strange dragon marking Cole was born with. Soon, he finds himself at the temple of Lord Raiden, an Elder God and the protector of Earthrealm, who grants sanctuary to those who bear the mark. Here, Cole trains with experienced warriors Liu Kang, Kung Lao and rogue mercenary Kano, as he prepares to stand with Earth’s greatest champions against the enemies from Outworld in a high stakes battle for the universe. But will Cole be pushed hard enough to unlock his arcana—the immense power from within his soul—in time to save not only his family, but to stop Outworld once and for all?

The diverse international cast reflects the global nature of the brand, with talent spanning the worlds of film, television and martial arts. The ensemble includes Lewis Tan as Cole Young; Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade; Josh Lawson as Kano; Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden; Mehcad Brooks as Jax; Ludi Lin as Liu Kang; with Chin Han as Shang Tsung; Joe Taslim as Bi-Han and Sub-Zero; and Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi and Scorpion. Also featured are Max Huang as Kung Lao and Sisi Stringer as Mileena.

McQuoid directed from a screenplay by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham, from a story by Oren Uziel and Russo, based on the video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Michael Clear, Jeremy Stein and Larry Kasanoff served as executive producers.

Bringing the hugely popular property to the big screen, McQuoid led a team of Australian and U.S. filmmakers, including director of photography Germain McMicking, production designer Naaman Marshall, editors Dan Lebental and Scott Gray, visual effects supervisor Chris Godfrey, costume designer Cappi Ireland and fight choreographer Chan Griffin. The music is by Benjamin Wallfisch.

New Line Cinema Presents an Atomic Monster/Broken Road Production, “Mortal Kombat.” The film is set for release nationwide in theaters and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max in 4K UHD, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos on supported devices for 31 days from theatrical release. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.

“Mortal Kombat” is rated R for strong bloody violence and language throughout, and some crude references.

Benjamin Wallfisch scored Andy Muschietti's “IT” and “IT Chapter Two,” David F. Sandberg's “SHAZAM!,” Leigh Whannell's “The Invisible Man,” and is co-composer of Denis Villeneuve's “Blade Runner 2049” (with Hans Zimmer). Wallfisch has worked on over 75 feature films and received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations, and was twice Grammy- and Emmy-nominated.

Wallfisch’s other recent projects include Neil Marshall's “Hellboy”; Academy Award Best Picture nominee, Ted Melfi's “Hidden Figures” (in collaboration with Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer); and Sandberg's box office hit “Annabelle: Creation.” On the invitation of Zimmer, he contributed music based on Elgar's “Enigma” Variations for Christopher Nolan's “Dunkirk.”

In recent years, Wallfisch has also scored Gore Verbinski's “A Cure for Wellness”; the Steven Spielberg-produced short film “Auschwitz,” directed by James Moll; James Marsh's “King of Thieves,” starring Michael Caine; and Steven Knight's “Serenity,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway.

With over 25 albums of his music released to date, Wallfisch has performed live in over 100 concerts worldwide, leading orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony at venues including the Hollywood Bowl, Sydney Opera House and Royal Festival Hall. He has collaborated, recorded and performed his music with artists including Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock and Yuja Wang, and has over 50 concert music commissions to his name.

WaterTower Music, the in-house label for the WarnerMedia companies, releases recorded music as rich and diverse as the companies themselves. It has been the soundtrack home to many of the world’s most iconic films, television shows and games since 2001.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

"Malignant," James Wan's Upcoming Horror Flick, Has Finished Shooting

James Wan’s Original Horror/Thriller “Malignant” Wraps Production

Independently Financed by Starlight Media and Midas Innovation, a Presentation of Atomic Monster, Starlight Media and New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures set for Global Distribution, Excluding China

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shooting has wrapped in Los Angeles on Atomic Monster’s “Malignant,” the latest creation from “Conjuring” universe architect James Wan (“Aquaman,” “Furious 7”). The film marks director Wan’s return to his roots with this new original horror thriller.

“Malignant” stars Annabelle Wallis (“The Loudest Voice,” “The Mummy,” “Annabelle”), Maddie Hasson (YouTube Originals’ “Impulse,” “Novitiate,” “I Saw the Light”), George Young (“A Bread Factory” Parts 1 & 2, “Containment,” HBO Asia’s horror mini-series “Grace”), Michole Briana White (“Lila and Eve,” “She Hate Me,” “Encino Man”), Jake Abel (“Another Life,” “Dirty John,” “Love & Mercy”), Jacqueline McKenzie (Netflix series “Pine Gap,” “Halifax: Retribution,” “Romper Stomper: Next Gen”), and Ingrid Bisu (“The Nun,” “Toni Erdmann”).

Wan directed from a screenplay by Akela Cooper (“M3GAN,” “The Nun 2”) and JT Petty, story by James Wan & Ingrid Bisu. Plot details are being kept under wraps. The film is produced by Wan and Michael Clear, with Richard Brener, Eric McLeod, Bisu, Judson Scott and Starlight Media’s Peter Luo serving as executive producers. The film is being independently financed through Starlight Media and Midas Innovation.

Behind the scenes, Wan was joined by his frequent collaborators, director of photography Don Burgess and editor Kirk Morri (“Aquaman,” “The Conjuring 2”) and production designer Desma Murphy (art director, “Aquaman,” “Furious 7”), as well as costume designer Lisa Norcia (“Insidious: The Last Key”).

Scheduled for release on August 14, 2020, “Malignant” is a presentation of Wan’s banner, Atomic Monster, Starlight Media and New Line Cinema, and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, and in China by Starlight Media.


Friday, November 15, 2019

WaterTower Music Announces "The Good Liar" Soundtrack

The Good Liar Soundtrack Available on WaterTower Music

Two-time Academy Award Nominated Composer Carter Burwell Provides New Music for Director Condon’s Suspense Thriller Starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WaterTower Music is excited to announce today’s digital release of the soundtrack to The Good Liar, a thriller from New Line Cinema about the secrets people keep and the lies they live. The film stars legendary actors Helen Mirren (Oscar winner, The Queen) and Ian McKellen (two-time Oscar nominee, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gods and Monsters), together on the big screen for the first time. Directed by Bill Condon and based on the widely acclaimed novel by Nicholas Searle, The Good Liar hits theaters nationwide Friday, November 15, 2019. The music from the film is composed by Emmy Award winning and two-time Oscar nominated composer Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carol).

Condon, who won an Oscar as screenwriter of Gods and Monsters, glowingly discussed his frequent creative collaborator and what the composer brings to the music of The Good Liar. “Carter is a master of bringing out emotions that may exist under the surface and, if you go back and know what you’re looking for, he has a wonderful way of dropping little musical clues throughout. The scoring is the final element that ties all the pieces together.”

Burwell further elaborated on the film and its music. “The Good Liar opens with a classic overture, during which the main characters and their musical themes are introduced. The characters meet and we see that, like most people, they are not completely honest with each other. But five minutes into the film you know the level of deceit is much more serious than that.”

“As is obvious from its title,” the composer continued, “The Good Liar is about untruth, so early on I asked Bill how much lying the music should do. He felt the most important role for the score was to keep drawing us in, weaving its own web to tangle us enjoyably in the misdeeds we’re watching. Not so much lying to the audience as making them co-conspirators.”

Carter Burwell has composed the music for more than 90 feature films, including Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Rob Roy, Fargo, The Spanish Prisoner, Gods and Monsters, Velvet Goldmine, Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (BAFTA Award nominee for Film Music), Before Night Falls, A Knight’s Tale, The Rookie, Adaptation., Intolerable Cruelty, No Country for Old Men, In Bruges, Burn After Reading, Twilight, Where the Wild Things Are (Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Score), A Serious Man, The Blind Side, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 & 2, Mr. Holmes, Legend, Anomalisa, Hail, Caesar!, The Founder and Goodbye Christopher Robin.

Burwell wrote the music for 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell and written and directed by Martin McDonagh. He received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award nomination and won the British Independent Film Award for Best Music for his work on the film. His other recent films include Wonderstruck, which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was Burwell’s fourth collaboration with director Todd Haynes; and the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a six-part Western anthology film for Netflix which marked their 17th project together and premiered in November 2018. His original score for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was named to the 2019 Oscar shortlist. He also wrote the music for the animated feature Missing Link directed by Chris Butler. Among his recent credits, Burwell wrote the music for The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup and Steve Carell.

Burwell wrote the music for the drama Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and directed by Todd Haynes, which premiered in Cannes and was released in theatres in November 2015. He received his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score for Carol, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award. He won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Award for Best Music Score for Carol and Anomalisa. Burwell previously worked with Haynes on Velvet Goldmine and the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, for which he was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).

His theater work includes the chamber opera The Celestial Alphabet Event and the Mabou Mines productions of Mother and Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day.

In 2005 he developed a concert work for text and music titled Theater of the New Ear, presented in New York, London and Los Angeles. The text, by Joel and Ethan Coen and Charlie Kaufman, was performed by a dozen actors, including Meryl Streep, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hope Davis, Peter Dinklage and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The music was performed by the eight-member Parabola Ensemble, conducted by Burwell.

Burwell’s dance compositions include the pieces The Return of Lot’s Wife, choreographed by Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, and RABL, choreographed by Patrice Regnier. He has performed around the world with his own ensembles as well as others, such as The Harmonic Choir. His writing includes the essay "Music at Six: Scoring the News Then and Now," published in the inaugural issue of Esopus magazine in 2003 and reprinted in Harper's Magazine in 2004, and the essay “No Country for Old Music” in the 2013 Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Burwell has taught and lectured at The Sundance Institute, New York University, Columbia University, and Harvard University. His website is

Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions. And Roy means to take it all. From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.

Helen Mirren and McKellen star together on screen for the first time, in this smart and suspenseful thriller from New Line Cinema about the secrets people keep and the lies they live. The Good Liar was directed by Bill Condon, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Gods and Monsters, from a screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher (Mr. Holmes), based on the widely acclaimed novel by Nicholas Searle. The main cast also includes Russell Tovey (The History Boys, Quantico) and Jim Carter (Downton Abbey).

The film was produced by Greg Yolen and Bill Condon. Richard Brener, Andrea Johnston, Aaron L. Gilbert, Jason Cloth, Anjay Nagpal, Jack Morrissey and Nick O’Hagan served as executive producers. The creative filmmaking team included director of photography Tobias Schliessler, production designer John Stevenson, editor Virginia Katz, and costume designer Keith Madden. The music was composed by Carter Burwell.

New Line Cinema presents, in association with BRON Creative, a 1000 Eyes Production, a Bill Condon Film, The Good Liar. It is being distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

"Hello Kitty" Film is in Development

New Line Cinema and Sanrio Announce Plan to Bring Hello Kitty to the Big Screen Worldwide

FlynnPictureCo. will produce the pop culture icon’s global feature debut, to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--New Line Cinema, Sanrio and FlynnPictureCo. announced that they will be teaming up to develop an English language Hello Kitty film for a worldwide audience for the first time in her 45-year history.

    “I am extremely pleased that Hello Kitty and other popular Sanrio characters will be making their Hollywood debut. Hello Kitty has long been a symbol of friendship and we hope this film will only serve to grow that circle of friendship around the world.”

The partnership marks the only time Sanrio has granted film rights to Hello Kitty and other popular characters—including Gudetama, My Melody, Little Twin Stars and more from its expansive universe—to a major film studio, giving audiences outside of Japan the opportunity to experience Hello Kitty as a feature film. Hello Kitty’s debut under the partnership will be produced by Beau Flynn and executive produced by Wendy Jacobson for FlynnPictureCo. in the culmination of a passionate, nearly five-year journey to secure the rights to develop Hello Kitty for the global big screen. A search for writers and creative talent will commence immediately.

Hello Kitty has been delighting fans around the world for more than four decades. Initially designed in 1974 and introduced on a coin purse a year later, Hello Kitty has since exploded into a global phenomenon, becoming one of the most recognized characters in the world. She can be found in 130 countries on more than 50,000 different branded products each year. She has captured the imagination of people of all ages and her heartfelt message of friendship has endeared her to generations of fans.

Sanrio founder, President and CEO Shintaro Tsuji said, “I am extremely pleased that Hello Kitty and other popular Sanrio characters will be making their Hollywood debut. Hello Kitty has long been a symbol of friendship and we hope this film will only serve to grow that circle of friendship around the world.”

Richard Brener, President and Chief Creative Officer, and Carolyn Blackwood, President and Chief Content Officer, New Line Cinema, said in a joint statement, “We are thrilled to partner with Sanrio and FlynnPictureCo. on developing a film based on this treasured icon. It’s a rare privilege to have the opportunity to explore the possibilities of such timeless IP. Hello Kitty and her friends have been part of our shared culture for decades, and we look forward to exploring where her newest adventure will take her.”

Beau Flynn, CEO, FlynnPictureCo., added, “Hello Kitty has been one of the most beloved characters around the world for the last forty-plus years. We’re incredibly honored that President Tsuji has entrusted us with the responsibility of bringing her story to the big screen globally for the first time ever, and it’s a dream that we get to do this with our long-term partners at New Line and Warner Bros. With the positive and family-oriented values that Hello Kitty and Sanrio embody, there has never been a better time than now to share her message with the world!”

Beau Flynn's FlynnPictureCo. (FPC) specializes in high-concept, tentpole studio films designed for the worldwide audience. FPC is currently under a three-year overhead deal with New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. (WB), where the banner has had a deal for over 12 years. The production company has done more than $3.2 billion and counting at the global box office. FPC most recently wrapped Disney’s Jungle Cruise, with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, which will debut worldwide July 2020. In 2018, FPC had two blockbuster releases starring Johnson, which grossed more than $725 million combined worldwide: New Line/WB’s Rampage as well as Legendary/Universal’s Skyscraper. FPC starts shooting Red Notice with writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber, also starring Johnson with Gal Gadot, in October of this year. Past releases also include San Andreas, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Building on more than 50 years of innovation and creativity, New Line Cinema continues its long and successful history of producing critically acclaimed hit films that resonate with both mainstream and niche audiences around the world. A unit of Warner Bros. Entertainment since 2008, New Line maintains separate development, production and business affairs operations in coordination with Warner Bros. to maximize film performance and operating efficiencies.

New Line produced the Oscar-winning The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit Trilogy, each of which generated close to $3 billion in global receipts. Other New Line films include such popular and acclaimed hits as IT and the upcoming It Chapter Two; Creed & Creed II; The Conjuring 1 & 2, along with The Nun and Annabelle blockbusters; Rampage; San Andreas; Horrible Bosses; Sex and the City; Hairspray; The Notebook; Elf; The Wedding Singer; Seven; Dumb and Dumber; The Mask; and such popular franchises as Final Destination, Rush Hour and Austin Powers, as well as the iconic A Nightmare on Elm Street films.

Sanrio is the global lifestyle brand best known for the pop icon Hello Kitty. Home to many endearing characters including Gudetama, Chococat, My Melody, Bad Badtz-Maru and Kerokerokeroppi, Sanrio was founded on the “small gift, big smile” philosophy – that a small gift can bring happiness and friendship to people of all ages. Since 1960, this philosophy has served as the inspiration for the broad spectrum of unique products and experiences offered by the company. Today, more than 50,000 Hello Kitty-branded items are available in 130 countries. In addition, Sanrio is operating two theme parks in Japan—Sanrio Puroland and Harmonyland—and also licensing Sanrio characters for theme parks overseas including in China.