Thursday, January 22, 2015

Coming Soon: Project Almanac

Release Date: January 30, 2015
Rating: PG-13
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Produced by: Michael Bay
Written by: Jason Harry Pagan, Andrew Deutschman
Starring: Jonny Weston, Sophia Black D'Elia, Amy Landecker
Running time: 106 minutes

A young group of disgruntled high school students are shocked to discover that one of them appears to have visited their seventh birthday party as his teenage self. They do a little digging and realize that the technology allowing time travel is not only possible, but that it's being developed in one of their parents' basements. Being impulsive teenagers, they immediately decide to use the device to improve each of their lives. However, the game is taken too far when world-changing paradoxes and ripples begin to emerge from their tampering, and they must determine a way to set things right before everything is changed forever.

Seeing that this film was produced by Michael Bay will either be a turn-off or a sign of credibility, depending on the person. However, his involvement in a project like this (which seems to be fairly hands-off) appears to be just enough to guarantee a decent production budget from the studio heads who are still rolling in Transformers money from last year. There's no doubt that this film's premise is intriguing, combining the found-footage style of Chronicle and Cloverfield and combining it with a slightly more serious take on Back to the Future.

Not a lot of people may have heard of this film, but it's sure to make a decent amount of box office dollars in the barron wasteland that is the cinemas during January. Having a cast made up of relative unknowns is also a smart way to go for the studio, as the lower budget can be focused more on the special effects that are crucial in a story such as this.

However, this production wasn't without it's hiccups, as the release date for Project Almanac kept being pushed further and further back, filming in 2013 and moving from early 2014 now to January of 2015. During a recent interview, I asked the cast members how they were impacted by the constant uncertainty that accompanies such a fluid release schedule for a film they all worked so hard to produce. "(After the delay) we went back and we did reshoots," Jonny Weston explained, "and the movie became a lot better and a lot more complex than they had originally thought." Sofia Black D'Elia added, "I think we're all just so excited that this movie is coming out at all. We're really proud of it, and we can't wait for people to see it."

When asked about the comparisons to Chronicle that will inevitably come, Sofia responded, "I think it's quite different than Chronicle. Obviously they're both found-footage, so you could just say that they're similar in that way. But Chronicle is a much darker film than ours." She went on to say, "Project Almanac is kind of a fun ride for the most part. And it's a great group of friends... I think we all wanted to make a very realistic look at teenage love... and friendship."  

The trailers have already swayed many of the skeptical (myself included) into giving this film a try, and many are predicting this to be a surprise hit of the early year. With interesting ideas being presented and a more entertaining and fun application for the technology involved, it's easy to see why this film has garnered the excitement that it has. Project Almanac is coming to theatres everywhere on January 30th, so make sure to click one of the theatre links on the left to reserve your tickets!

** Are you excited for Project Almanac? Let me know in the comments section, and don't forget to like the Facebook page! **

Friday, January 9, 2015

Most Anticipated Films of 2015

It's a new year, and that means we get a whole new slate of movies to look forward to! Unlike most years where I struggle to put together a list of 10 films that I really can't wait to see, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the biggest years in movies that we've ever had. Just to give an idea of the films that didn't make this list: Furious 7 (not a huge fan, but a lot of people really love the later installments of the Fast and Furious series), Poltergeist (a remake of the classic 1980 film starring Sam Rockwell), Fantastic Four (a reboot of the popular Marvel comics super team), Mad Max: Fury Road (an action-packed dystopia adventure set in the Mad Max movie universe with a must-see trailer), In the Heart of the Sea (based on the real-life story that inspired Moby Dick, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth), and Mission Impossible 5 (which I really can't wait to see, but without any footage I wasn't quite excited enough about it to boot out one of the other 10). With all that out of the way, here are my most anticipated films of 2015!

<<Just a note to those viewing on a mobile device, you probably won't be able to view the videos embedded in this post, so switch to desktop or click on the title above the video in order to view them.>>

*Honorable Mention*

The Peanuts Movie (11/6/2015)

This officially gets my The LEGO Movie award by just absolutely charming me by the trailers with its mix of nostalgic and modern animation styles. Just like with that one, adapting the work of such a beloved cartoon carries a great deal of risk. Many Schultz purists are already bemoaning the insertion of modern music and 3D animation into what was originally conceived as a simple, hand-drawn story about a group of kids and a silly dog named Snoopy. Based on the efforts made to emulate the original creation, I'm definitely willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt and I can't wait to see it at the end of this year. Let's hope it's as fun as it has the potential to be!

#10   Terminator Genisys   (7/1/2015)

Okay, I know this film is steeped in controversy for its unusual title (which I can write off given that I suspect it's the name of a computer "system" that may evolve into Skynet... though I could be totally off on that), but also for what many are perceiving as a desperate cribbing of the two films in the series that hold universal appeal. I was a bit skeptical of this movie at first too, but after seeing the trailer and the combining of the first two plots into one while adding a clever twist to it, I think this could actually end up being pretty cool. It may not be the most intellectual film of the year, but I still really want to see what Universal can do with the Terminator franchise.

#9   Kingsman: The Secret Service   (2/13/2015)

Typically this kind of film wouldn't really get my notice, let alone be on my top 10 most anticipated films of the year. However, that' just goes to show the power that a director can bring to a project. After seeing what he could do in the amazing X-Men: First Class, and actually loving his underappreciated gem that is Stardust, I became a pretty huge Matthew Vaughn fan. In truth, he was one of my first picks to direct Star Wars: Episode VII... but more on that later. As for Kingsman: The Secret Service, it looks like it could be a fun James Bondian adaptation of a Marvel comics imprint with a cavalcade of recognizable faces that can only bring legitimacy to a property that many (including myself) probably haven't heard of previously. We'll find out how good it is in just a few weeks!

#8   Ant-Man   (7/17/2015)

After the incredible year they had in 2014 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy), it seems like Marvel can do no wrong. They're going to test that theory with what is surely their least marketable character to date, Ant-Man... is it too late to change the name? Despite the obscurity of this hero and the production woes that most people who follow movies are aware of (primarily Edgar Wright's departure), I honestly think Marvel may be in for another surprise hit. With a likable star like Paul Rudd in the lead and a Hollywood legend like Michael Douglas as his support, not to mention all of the technical mastery that Disney and Marvel bring to the table, I honestly think Ant-Man is going to surprise a lot of people this July.

#7   Tomorrowland   (5/22/2015)

If you're as in love with Disneyland as I am, you'll immediately recognize where the title for this movie originated. Though being named after a section of an amusement park, even the happiest place on earth, may not be the most promising concept, the director of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Incredibles paired with one of the creators of TV's Lost has to give the project some credibility. Throw in a really intriguing teaser trailer and George Clooney... yeah, I'm sold. It may be the most mysterious movie on my entire list, and therefore has a lot of room for error. Then again, it also has a lot of potential for greatness, which its certainly set up for based on the quality of the talent involved. Count me in for Tomorrowland this Memorial Day weekend!

#6   The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2   (11/20/2015)

This movie is going to make a crapload of money. Even though the last installment wasn't quite as good as Catching Fire, it perfectly set up the conclusion that Mockingjay Part 2 promises to be. By getting the set up out of the way in the first part, we're all on the edge of our seats for the explosive ending they've been building towards. Having read the book, I'm acutely aware of the action-packed and highly controversial finale and I can't wait to see how director Francis Lawrence wraps up this excellent franchise.

#5   Inside Out   (6/19/2015)

Pixar has been a little rocky over the last few years... both Monsters University and Cars 2 were misfires in my opinion, though I actually really enjoyed Brave. With public perception not entirely in the studio's favor, director Pete Docter looks to redeem their reputation with a wildly creative and original story that has almost unlimited potential for the comedic and emotional storytelling that has become Pixar's trademark in their best films. Just watching this trailer makes me ache inside, because I still have five more months until I can see the whole thing.

#4   Spectre   (11/6/2015)

Ever since Casino Royale I've been really liking this new iteration of 007 with leading man Daniel Craig, and after the really terrific Skyfall I don't think I could be more excited for another James Bond film than its follow-up, Spectre. Being familiar with some of the original installments in the franchise, I know the significance of this title, and with the same creative team that brought us the best Bond film yet (director Sam Mendes, composer Thomas Newman, etc.) I expect we're going to get another mind-blowing adventure... and the re-introduction to a legendary 007 villain. We'll see if he's petting a cat this time.

#3   Jurassic World   (6/12/2015)

Ever since I was a child I've been infatuated with dinosaurs, and most of this can be traced back to the release of the original Jurassic Park in 1993. I've seen every installment of the franchise in theaters (to varying degrees of enjoyment), and I was a little apprehensive when I heard about Universal Studio's plans to make another sequel. However, when the casting announcements started to come out for Jurassic World and I saw some of the people involved, I started to gain more confidence in it. Then the trailer came out, and I got downright giddy to go back to Isla Nublar and see the dinosaur park brought to fruition. It may not end up as the best of the franchise, but this is a list of my most anticipated films... and I cannot wait to see what this movie is going to be!

#2   Avengers: Age of Ultron   (5/1/2015)

In pretty much any other year, this would easily be at the top of the list. With all the returning cast and crew, and what looks to be the most powerful and dangerous villain they've faced yet, Avengers: Age of Ultron looks to up the ante after the record-breaking success of Marvel's first ultimate team-up movie. This trailer really sells the intensity of this slightly more serious sequel, and James Spader's voice as Ultron is enough to send chills down your spine. Rumor has it that one of our heroes might not make it beyond their encounter with the super-intelligent robot, and I don't even know whether the ending will necessarily be a happy one... which only makes me even more excited! Writer/director Joss Whedon has put three years of work into this screenplay, and all signs point to an improvement over what we all went nuts for in 2012. Bring on Ultron!

#1   Star Wars: The Force Awakens   (12/18/2015)

And for the most obvious selection of my list... we're getting another Star Wars film, people! I never thought this was actually going to happen! I'll save my thoughts on the entire Star Wars saga for another time (maybe a few Fridays before the release of this film... if you catch my drift), but the idea of new adventures from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is everything I've wanted ever since I was old enough to realize that movies were made by people. After knocking it out of the park with the Star Trek reboot (and being a self-proclaimed Star Wars fanatic), JJ Abrams set himself apart as the perfect choice to bring this seminal franchise back to prominence. The mystery surrounding this original Star Wars tale is only accentuated in the teaser trailer that spawned a million fanboy theories, and the ambiguous title only deepens our curiosity. It's still seems like its lightyears away, but I'll be waiting with bated breath for The Force Awakens this December.

** There you go! What movies are you guys looking forward to most in 2015? Let me know in the comments section and don't forget to like my facebook page! **