Tag Archives: Quentin Tarantino

Killing Them Softly: Potential slaughtered by director

Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta star in Killing Them Softly. Courtesy of Alliance Films


Amazing movies have that uncanny ability to feel as if time just flew by. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a movie that seems intriguing on the surface but in execution falls short forcing us to check our watches every five seconds. Sadly, Killing Them Softly is one of these films.

Not all is lost as there are some positives in Andrew Dominik’s (The Assassination of Jesse James) latest film.

In Killing Them Softly, a couple of young knuckleheads rob a mob protected poker game only to find themselves hunted by a hired enforcer.

The adapted story has a great deal of promise, but Andrew Dominik’s direction seems to belay the entire film’s plot. Subtlety is clearly not one of Dominik’s strengths as he endlessly beats us over the head with the political speeches of Bush and Obama in an attempt to provide poignant social commentary. It just doesn’t work.

The cast is solid with Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy (Argo), Ben Mendelsohn, and James Gandolfini putting forth a great combination of dramatic and comedic performances.

The brutally, vivid violence was given a great deal of thought behind shooting at interesting angles and variable framerates.

In the end, the slow pace and lack of tension throughout most of the film forces the audience to nitpick on the faults rather than rejoice in the otherwise thought-provoking story.

Bottom Line: Not worth a trip to the theatre. However, there’s enough potential to give this a chance as a cheap rental.

Grade C

Runtime: 97 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


The Avengers: Simply the best!

Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo all star in The Avengers. Courtesy of Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last four years, you’re aware that Marvel’s The Avengers is getting its cinematic debut. The core characters have been established through five excellent movies; Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. The success of these movies have driven expectations for the ensemble film to a sickening high and the pressure rests squarely on Joss Whedon’s shoulders to deliver the goods (I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes).

The story is simple enough; a team of heroes assembles for the first time to stop the mischievous Loki from turning the people of earth into slaves. While it may sound like an uncomplicated premise, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity) managed to give this movie a sense of depth making this more than your basic popcorn, superhero mash-up. This is a great movie, period.

Whedon has proven any naysayers wrong through his masterful direction of the powerhouse cast. He allows the ensemble to share the screen time equally, giving the misfit characters added dimension. His incredibly balanced script is filled with hilarious wit, but also has a solemn tone to it.

Speaking of balance, you’ll find no better balance than the expertly chosen cast of this film. All returning actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Tom Hiddleston retain their high caliber work that we’ve seen in their previous films. Ruffalo plays Bruce Banner/The Angry Green Giant excellently and validates the decision to be rid of his inferior predecessor, Edward Norton.

The thundering action is constant but never overbearing, improving on the special effects of the previous films. The Hulk in particular is a real scene stealer, but for more reasons than the detailed CGI. Just watch it… you’ll see!

The post-production 3D treatment is actually decent when the scenes are bright. Unfortunately, the first half of the movie features a lot of dark scenes, which is difficult to see with 3D’s light-stealing limitation. A 2D presentation is better suited to serve your eyes and this phenomenal movie.

Bottom Line: This is the best superhero movie to date! Yes, even better than The Dark Knight.

Grade A+

Runtime: 142 minutes
IMAX: Yes, but only for one week
3D: Yes


The Avengers Trivia


With the release of The Avengers only days away in North America, I thought everyone would like some fun trivia about the movies that led up to the ensemble film. We’ll move in the chronological order of the movies.

 
 

Click here for the spoiler-free review of THE AVENGERS

 

IRON MAN


“Rachel McAdams was Jon Favreau’s first choice to play Pepper Potts, but she turned the role down.”
While I think McAdams is a fine actress, I much preferred the mature performance and actress in Paltrow.

“The script was not completely prepared when filming began, since the filmmakers were more focused on the story and the action, so the dialogue was mostly ad-libbed throughout filming; Jon Favreau acknowledged this made the film feel more natural. Some scenes were shot with two cameras to capture lines improvised on the spot; Robert Downey Jr. would ask for many takes of one scene since he wanted to try something new. Gwyneth Paltrow, on the other hand, had a difficult time trying to match Downey with a suitable line, as she never knew what he would say.”
Poor Gwyneth, great work Downey.

“In October 1999, Quentin Tarantino was approached to write and direct the film. Later, Joss Whedon, a big fan of the comic book, was in negotiations to direct the film in June 2001. In December 2004, Nick Cassavetes was hired as a director, with the film to release in 2006, but everything fell through. Finally, Jon Favreau was hired as director in April 2006.”
Iron Man by Tarantino… Chances are there would have been a lot a lot of people being blown to a bloody smithereens by Iron Man.

“Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise were interested in playing Iron Man. Cruise in particular was going to act in and produce the film. According to Jon Favreau, Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell were among the actors that were considered for Tony Stark during pre-production. Jon Favreau wanted Robert Downey Jr. because he felt the actor’s past was right for the part. He commented: “The best and worst moments of Robert’s life have been in the public eye. He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That’s Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic book character having trouble in high school, or can’t get the girl.” Favreau also felt Downey could make Stark “a likable asshole”, but also depict an authentic emotional journey once he won over the audience.”
Thank goodness they went with Downey!

“In the scene where Pepper discovers Tony removing the damaged Iron Man armor, you can clearly see Captain America’s shield on a workbench. This same scene was shown in many trailers, but the image of the shield was edited out.”
Stark didn’t know about Capt. America.

“This is Marvel Studios’ first self-financed movie. It took around 17 years to get the film into development. Originally, Universal Pictures were to produce the film in April 1990. They later sold the rights to 20th Century Fox. Later, Fox sold the rights to New Line Cinema. Finally, Marvel Studios decided to handle their own creation.”
And it shows. It led away from the poorer X-Men and lack-luster Spider-Man movies.

“Brian Bendis had written three pages of dialogue for the Nick Fury scene, out of which the filmmakers chose the best lines. To keep it a secret, the scene was filmed with a skeleton crew and was deleted from all previews of the film, which thus maintained the mystery and surprise and kept fans speculative and interested. It conclusively appeared in the final cut as a post-credits scene.”
Upon seeing this scene, I was ready for The Avengers.

 


THE INCREDIBLE HULK


“Louis Leterrier had been interested in directing Iron Man, but when Jon Favreau took that project Avi Arad (Producer) offered him a sequel to Hulk.”
Favreau made a better movie than Leterrier.

“Edward Norton, who had previously rewritten films he starred in, wrote a draft of the script which Louis Leterrier and Marvel Studios found satisfactory in establishing the film as a reboot of Hulk. As Norton explained, “I don’t think that in great literature/films explaining the story’s roots means it comes in the beginning. Audiences know the story, so we’re dealing with it artfully.” Norton’s rewrite added the character of Doc Samson and mentioned references to other Marvel Comics characters. He also wanted to put in “revelations about what set the whole thing in motion” that would be explained in future installments.”
Norton has too much attitude to properly play Bruce Banner, in my opinion. Bana delivered the better performance with the lesser director.

“According to Tim Roth, Edward Norton rewrote scenes every day. Edward Norton rewrote the script substantially and in certain posters, he was credited under the pseudonym of ‘Edward Harrison’. Norton’s writing credit was later denied by the WGA, and Zak Penn is the only writer credited.”
That’s probably why Marvel decided against asking him to return.

“There are references in the film to Marvel Comics’ next film, Captain America: The First Avenger. Firstly, there is a portrait of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America, seen in the General Ross’s office. Next, a label can be seen on the storage tank reading: “Dr. Reinstein.” Reinstein was the doctor who developed the Super-Soldier serum that transmogrifies Rogers into the Captain. Although cut from the theatrical run, Captain America can be seen in the alternate beginning on the DVD and Blu-Ray. When the last piece of ice breaks up toward the screen, hit the pause button. There, frozen in the ice, lays Cap with his shield.”
I missed all of these references when I first watched the movie.

“The VFXperts based the Hulk and Abomination’s movements on football linebackers.”
They could have used a motorcycle as a ball.

“According to Louis Leterrier, the final scene (Banner grins as his eyes turn green) was a deliberately ambiguous shot: it was meant to show that Bruce finally learns to controls the Hulk (for a Hulk sequel) or will become a menace (as the villain for the film The Avengers).”
The Hulk is the menace you want fighting on your side.

“In the post-credits scene, General Ross is drinking an “Incredible Hulk” cocktail at the bar. It is made using equal parts of Hennessy cognac and Hpnotiq liqueur.”
I’ll be having a few of these before I watch The Avengers again.

 


IRON MAN 2


“Emily Blunt was set to star as Black Widow but had to pull out due scheduling conflicts with her movie Gulliver’s Travels. Jessica Biel, Gemma Arterton, Natalie Portman, Jessica Alba and Angelina Jolie were also considered for the role of the Black Widow.”
While her acting isn’t the best, Scarlett did a good job with the role. It would have been great to see Blunt or Arterton in the role. Better actresses on all counts.

“Samuel L. Jackson was promised that Nick Fury would be given more screen time by director Jon Favreau. Jackson almost didn’t return to play Fury, due to problems with contract negotiations, but secured a landmark nine-picture deal to play Nick Fury not only in this film but in many other Marvel Studio productions.”
I guess he got tired of the quick post-credits scenes.

“Edward Norton was rumored to reprise his Incredible Hulk role as Bruce Banner, in a cameo for this film, as a foreshadowing of The Avengers.”
It worked out in the end. Would have upset people even more had they seen him as Banner a second time.

“Although Mickey Rourke spent several months on treadmill and weight training, he initially was still unable to move around and use the whip prop in the Whiplash outfit test due to its sheer weight. To get around this problem, Rourke would wear heavy vests in subsequent physical training sessions to accustom his body in moving while wearing heavy armor.”
Rourke’s a big boy. That suit must have been heavy!

“Scenes in the film explicitly foreshadow The Avengers:
• When Tony goes through his father’s case an old Captain America comic book can be seen inside; later he uses Captain America’s shield (a prototype) to build a reactor
• a news report of The Incredible Hulk’s campus battle is seen near the end of the film
• Stark and Fury discuss Stark’s membership throughout the film
• and Agent Coulson finds Thor’s hammer in a crater in the post-credits scene.”

 


THOR


“In 2005, Matthew Vaughn was going to direct this film, describing it as “the birth of a hero, interweaving Gladiator with Norse mythology.” He went on to direct the superhero films Kick-Ass (based on the series from Marvel Comics imprint Icon) and for Marvel X-Men: First Class. In April 2006, screenwriter and “Thor” fan Mark Protosevich wrote a script for the film, which he described as “an Old Testament God who becomes a New Testament God.” However, the script was so laden with VFX-worthy sequences that it would require $300 million to film, so when Matthew Vaughn signed on, he rewrote and trimmed the script to bring the budget down to a more agreeable $150 million.”
I hope Vaughn continues working on comic book films. He grounds them in reality, while retaining the “super” element better than most writers/directors.

“Brad Pitt was rumored for the role of Thor; Channing Tatum and WWE wrestler Paul Levesque (aka Triple H) was considered for the part; Daniel Craig was the first choice; and Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Alexander Skarsgård, Liam Hemsworth and Joel Kinnaman tested for the role, but finally Liam’s brother Chris Hemsworth got the part. Tom Hiddleston initially auditioned for the role of Thor, but Kenneth Branagh felt he would make a better antagonist and cast him as Loki.”
After Troy, it’s really easy to see Pitt as Thor. Channing Tatum would have just ruined the entire movie with his cheese ball acting.

“It’s mentioned in passing that Thor’s hammer was forged inside “a dying star”. This actually makes a modicum of scientific sense. When a very large star dies in a supernova, sometimes its remains collapse to form a “neutron star”. These objects cram the mass of the sun into the size of a city, forming a new kind of matter nicknamed neutronium. A single teaspoon of this material would weigh billions of tonnes. If Mjolnir was made of this material, it would certainly explain its incredible weight.”
I just love when science and fantasy get mixed together.

“The agent that grabs up a bow when Thor is attempting to recover his hammer is referred to as Agent Barton, and appears in the credits as Clint Barton. Clint Barton is the real name of Hawkeye, the archer hero in the Avengers comics.”
Jeremy Renner played Barton in both Thor and The Avengers. Almost didn’t notice him the first time I watched Thor.

“To prepare for the role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth put on a massive amount of build and weight, through a six-month regimen of trips to the gym and indulging in a massive diet of eggs, chicken, sandwiches, vegetables, brown rice, steak and protein drinks. “
I eat the same things, but I don’t look like him…

“The post-credits scene was directed by The Avengers director Joss Whedon to connect his film with this one.”
That was a very smart move.

 


CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER


“Sam Worthington and Will Smith were in early talks for the role of Captain America. Later on Garrett Hedlund, Channing Tatum, Scott Porter, Mike Vogel, Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans, Wilson Bethel, John Krasinski, Michael Cassidy, Chace Crawford and Jensen Ackles were on the final shortlist for the role. Kellan Lutz, Ryan Phillippe and Alexander Skarsgård carried out auditions, but ultimately the role went to Chris Evans.”
Will Smith as the tanned Captain – Could have worked. It makes me sick to keep seeing Channing Tatum’s name in the running for any Marvel character.

“Contrary to popular belief, a body double was not used for Chris Evans for the scenes when he was skinny. The filmmakers had originally planned to hire a body double and superimpose Evans’ face onto the double’s body, but ultimately scrapped the idea since director Joe Johnston claimed that Evans moved in a unique way and that no body double could replicate his movements. Ultimately, the filmmakers utilized digital technology to “shrink” Evans down, essentially erasing portions of his physique, until they came up with what the filmmakers called “Skinny Steve”. Over 250 shots were filmed like this, and because the shrinking process left empty space in the background, many of the scenes had to be filmed in front of a green screen so that they could superimpose the backgrounds back into the scene. Even attempts to double him for long distance shots and the scene where Steve chases down Kruger failed due to Chris having a unique and unduplicatable way of moving.”
Spread the word. A lot of false tales being spun on this matter.

“Alice Eve, Gemma Arterton and Keira Knightley were considered for the role of Peggy Carter. Emily Blunt turned down the role.”
Would like to see Arterton in one of the Marvel movies one day.

“Originally cameo appearances were planned in the film for James Logan Howlett (Wolverine) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto), who were present during World War II (Logan was a soldier and Lensherr was a prisoner of war). These cameos were scrapped due to rights issues.”
I hope Marvel gets the rights to all of the movies based on their comics. They’ve proven they can handle their work better than the other studios.

“Stanley Tucci took the role of Dr. Erskine because the role enabled him to use a German accent, which he always wanted to do.”
Always a good reason to take a role.

“The film was originally meant to be a standalone film, but after Joss Whedon was hired to direct The Avengers he was given a copy of the film’s script and made a few rewrites to tie it in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “I just got to make some character connections. The structure of the thing was really tight and I loved it, but there were a couple of opportunities to find his voice a little bit – and some of the other characters – and make the connections so that you understood exactly why he wanted to be who he wanted to be. And progressing through the script to flesh it out a little bit.””
I’ll trust Whedon with any superhero film he’s connected to. Great writer and director.

“The comic version of Captain America’s shield is most commonly said to be a mixture of Vibranium and Adamantium. Vibranium = the shield’s ability to absorb vibrations; Adamantium = the shield’s (near) invincibility. However, because of the X-Men/Wolverine movies (which are not a part of the “Marvel Studios” universe), Marvel Studios left the Adamantium part out to avoid confusion with moviegoers who might think that it’s a reference to Wolverine. When Steve discovers the gunmetal circular shield in the development office of Howard Stark, he asks what it’s made from. Vibranium is a fictional element in the Marvel universe that comes from the country of Wakanda, the land where The Black Panther, another Marvel superhero, lives.”
They should have just left in the Adamantium. We’re not that stupid.

 


THE AVENGERS


“Edward Norton was originally set to reprise his role from The Incredible Hulk but negotiations between him and Marvel Studios broke down. Norton was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo states it was an honour to take over as Bruce Banner from his friend Edward Norton: “Ed has bequeathed this part to me, I look at it as my generation’s Hamlet.” Before Ruffalo was cast as The Hulk, Joaquin Phoenix was rumored for the part.”
Ruffalo seemed to combine Eric Bana and Edward Norton in his performance.

“Mark Ruffalo is personally going to portray the Hulk through virtual-camera motion-capture, which allows him to actually portray the Hulk. Previous live-action versions have had Bruce Banner and the Hulk be played by separate people (Bill Bixby and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno), or had the Hulk rendered into the film in computer-generated imagery. Lou Ferrigno voices the Hulk in this film.”
Worked out brilliantly.

“Chris Hemsworth had to increase and expand his dietary/food intake in order to maintain the physique he built up for Thor.”
Oddly, he looks slightly smaller in this movie than he did in Thor.

“Director Joss Whedon had earlier been considered to direct X-Men in the 1990s. A big fan of the X-Men, he even wrote a script, from which only two lines made it into the film.”
I would love to see his script.

“Has an unusually high number of Academy Award nominees in the cast and crew for a comic book movie – or most movies for that matter: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, and possibly many others. “
Hopefully Whedon gets some Academy recognition one day.

From the left: Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Joss Whedon.


“The cast became good friends while filming so if all the actors happened to be filming scenes together in the same place, they would go out together after.”
It would have been great if they went in their costumes.

“Despite the fact that the studio had no involvement in producing the film, neither in marketing or distributing, the Paramount Pictures logo still appears in advertising. Despite Disney buying the distribution of Marvel films from Paramount (as Marvel is a Disney company), the latter studio will still receive partial box-office royalties for these projects.”
Paramount’s logo is still shown at the start of the film, but Disney’s isn’t. That’s weird.

“Legal rights issues prevented a number of “Avengers” characters from their inclusion in this film. Most notably, these include Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch, the twin children of X-Men) villain Magneto, and frequent adversaries Doctor Doom (nemesis of the Fantastic Four) and Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin (the primary antagonist of Spider-Man). Though all characters are owned by Marvel/Disney, the “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” characters had all been licensed to Fox Studios, and those of “Spider-Man” to Sony before work began on an “Avengers” film. Marvel has said that in the future they hope to regain the rights to all licensed properties, that the aforementioned characters might have a role in subsequent “Avengers” films.”
Get those rights back Marvel!

According to Director Joss Whedon, The original cut of the movie was over 3 hours long. There will be about 30 minutes of the excised footage included in the DVD Release, most of which revolves around Steve Rogers (Captain America). Whedon revealed that one of these scenes involved Rogers struggling to adjust to the modern world in his Brooklyn apartment and another revealed Steve Rogers’ reunion with Peggy Carter, his love interest from Captain America: The First Avenger.”
I want a copy now! September is too far away.

 


All facts were taken from IMDB.