Showing posts with label Warner Bros.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Warner Bros.. Show all posts

Monday, February 12, 2018

When Clint Eastwood Calls: Working on 'The 15:17 to Paris'

The 15:17 to Paris
Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone playing themselves in
Clint Eastwood's The 15:17 to Paris. (Warner Bros.)


It’s pretty unbelievable to think that on August 21, 2015, a terrorist attack on Thalys train #9364 bound for Paris was stopped by the courageous actions of three Americans traveling through Europe. It is almost equally unbelievable that those three young men were asked by Clint Eastwood to portray themselves in a new movie. But he did and when Clint Eastwood calls, you answer.

While recreating the events that happened on that fateful day in front of a camera was a completely new experience for these men, it was also a risky move for Eastwood as well.

“I’ve used non-actors before in smaller parts,” said Eastwood in a recent press release “but not exactly playing themselves or recreating precisely events in their own lives. But in this case, as we kept going through the whole episode on the train, working out the logistics of how it happened and how we could film it, it was like they were performers playing themselves already. They kept showing us how it had all gone so we could be as accurate as possible, and for me to feel comfortable that it would be like seeing the real thing. It seemed like a rare opportunity, having the real participants available and willing, and then giving them a shot at it. I wanted them to be only themselves, nobody else, and I felt they could do that.”

The movie The 15:17 to Paris retells the story of when Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler left Berlin to meet up with Alek Skarlatos in Amsterdam and how they were faced with one of biggest decisions of their lives aboard the 15:17 trai. At the time, Stone was in the Air Force, Skarlatos was in the Oregon National Guard and Sadler was a student at California State University. Together, the three saved over 500 lives on that fateful day.

“It hasn’t been a conscious choice to tell heroic stories or make movies about everyday heroes,” said Eastwood. “I just do the stories that come along and interest me. Some feats are exceptional, and beneficial to society, and it’s nice when you can tell a story like that.”

The film also follows the course of the friends’ lives, from the struggles of childhood through finding their footing in life, to the series of unlikely events leading up to the attack.

Recently, I got a chance to speak to these life-long friends about their movie-making debut, Clint Eastwood and their faith. Here’s what they had to say:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

This Day in Pop Culture for November 21

Tweety Bird was "born" on November 21, 1942.

Tweety Bird is Born

Tweety first appeared in the Warner Bros. short, A Tale of Two Kitties on this day in 1942. He was originally named Orson who looked much different than he does today. His name is actually a combination of the words “sweetie” and “tweet” and is said to have been based on Red Skelton’s character, “Mean Widdle Kid.” Tweety is actually older than Sylvester the cat who didn’t appear until Friz Freleng created him in 1945. Sylvester and Tweety worked together for the first time in 1947’s Tweetie Pie which also won the studio’s first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons). The two been partners ever since appearing together in numerous movies (like Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action), TV series (like The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries and The Looney Tunes Show) and as recently as the 2014 short, Flash in the Pain with Wylie Coyote and the Road Runner.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Finally, 'Justice League' is the Movie We've Been Waiting For

Movie Review of "Justice League"
Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Godot (Wonder Woman), Ray Fisher (Cyborg), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman) (Warner Bros.)


The idea of building a movie franchise is easy. Creating one that works is a lot more difficult. Even for known properties. For instance, Universal has wanted to bring back their famous and classic movie monsters for years now, but their films, The Mummy reboot being the most recent, didn’t sit well with movie-goers. When Warner Bros. and DC Comics decided to not only reboot Batman and Superman, but also bring other DC Superheroes to the big screen for the first time, the idea was met with much enthusiasm. How hard could it be? Marvel has had great success with its Iron-Man, Captain America and Thor movies.

The first to come out of the gates was the Superman reboot, Man of Steel in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder, this Superman was different from what many of us were expecting. While diehard fanboys loved the film, other casual comic book movie fans didn’t get it. This movie was much darker than any of the previous Superman movies. And despite how good Henry Cavill was in the role when allowed to emote, most of the time this version of Superman was super-moody and the overall tone of the story was super- serious voiding any joy whatsoever.

Movie Review of "Justice League"
Amy Adams as Lois Lane. (Warner Bros.)
Then came last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which many were hoping would correct the errors made in the first film. And while there were rumors that Warner Bros. retooled it, the end product came off even worse. Even with the addition of Affleck as Batman which some fans said was the best part. Once again, the tone was still way too serious, the storyline was completely confusing and it just wasn't any fun.

Batman v Superman introduced Batman, but unlike Superman, he had already been on the scene in Gotham for about 20 years. And a rough 20 at that. This Bat had a huge chip on his shoulder while Superman seemed incredibly distant. Neither came across as likable in the least. In fact, one of the best features of these two comic book giants was seeing them operate in their duel lives as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, who are usually presented as nice, friendly and even humorous men. Here, they just came across as jerks. Even the entrance of Diane Prince/Wonder Woman didn’t help matters much.

Movie Review of "Justice League"
J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon (Warner Bros.)
However, when Wonder Woman came out in her own standalone story last summer, the heroine was allowed to smile a bit more and overall, the film didn’t take itself too seriously. Much of that goes to the fish-out-of-water storyline with the princess operating outside of her own world, the comedic timing of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor and the better storytelling under the direction of Patty Jenkins. Finally, it seemed as if DC had remembered how to make a fun superhero movie after all.

Though Justice League was directed by Zach Snyder once again, it appears that the third time is a charm (although he probably had a lot of help) as he carries on this new direction with a lighter tone, friendlier heroes and a film that was a joy to watch. Even Batman’s suit appears to be more a blueish grey instead of black. The introduction of new characters to the big screen (but not new to fans) include Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg helped to form the Justice League were welcome additions and we finally got the movie we've been waiting for. Well, at least, more of us anyway.

This movie moves at a faster clip than the previous ones and doesn’t drag out as long as its predecessors. Each character is allowed to emulate the heroes we want to see and admire, despite the film’s potential to be downer given its sad theme. They spout off lines with more wit and humor than before and we finally get to see the fun side of these guys. At least, a little bit. Granted, each of these superheroes still carry a lot of baggage from their previous lives, but now they choose to focus on the greater good. No one likes a whiny superhero.

Movie Review of "Justice League"
Meeting Comissioner Gordon by the Bat-Signal. (Warner Bros.)
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Superman died in his last film. Justice League begins shortly after his death. Despite the fact that many people of earth wanted to rid the alien being from the earth (he just didn’t know his own strength) in the previous film, here he is mourned and the world is at a loss. Especially Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and his mother Martha (Diane Lane). Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) is suffering from guilt and persuades Dina Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help him recruit some “super friends” who all have special abilities and could possibly work together to ward off the next evil attack. He has no reason to believe an attack will come - just a hunch. It takes a while, but the two are able to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to join their little club. And it’s a good thing that they did too since Steppenwolf and his team of parademons (giant vampire-ish flying insect creatures) are now ravaging the planet looking for three “mother boxes” which will help Steppenwolf destroy the planet as we know for no good reason. (So many super-villains want to destroy the planet without any good reason to do so. This is one of the film's weaker moments. The other is the fact that Lex Luthor is mentioned, but never shown.)

Without giving anything away, any true comic book fan knows the worst kept secret that lies in this movie. With that said, just go with it. You'll be glad you did. However, it also makes giving details about this movie difficult without spoiling.

One of the film's standouts is Miller's Flash. He's a bit goofy at times, but he brings a much-needed levity to this bunch. In a way, he is sort of like The Avengers franchise adding the young Spider-Man to their team. They are both young, immature and not jaded. J.K. Simmons also makes an appearance at Commissioner Gordon in a role that is way too short. Maybe they will be able to squeeze him in a few more scenes with the next one.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Holy Disappointment - 'Batman v Superman' is a Dud

Movie review of "Batman v Superman."
Batman and Superman face off. (Warner Bros.)


After the downer that was the film that was supposed to kick off the DC Comics movies franchise, Man of Steel (2013), and the lackluster response from both critics and audiences alike, we were all hoping that Warner Bros. and director Zack Snyder would not make the same mistake again with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. They didn’t. Instead, they made an even worse film.

In Batman v Superman, Superman (Henry Cavill) is still dark and moody, but this time, he shares the screen with Batman (Ben Affleck) who isn't any cheerier. Since we all know Batman’s origin story, we are saved from another retelling of that story except for a few brief flashbacks from that fateful night when young Bruce Wayne’s parents were shot right in front of him and his mother's pearls bounce all over the place. Instead, we learn that Bruce Wayne as Batman has been serving the city of Gotham for about 20 years. He no longer lives in his family’s mansion his butler, Alfred (Jeremy Irons) operates more like the tech guru character of Lucius Fox rather than serving up Wayne’s afternoon tea. Also, Instead of being the charming socialite that the millionaire has played in every other version of the Batman story, this Bruce Wayne keeps a low profile focuses all of his attention of investigating the alien that has crash landed from Krypton. Wayne isn't the only one.

Despite his good deeds, Superman doesn’t know his own strength and Wayne is concerned that the red-caped one is actually causing more harm than good. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is also skeptical of the Bat as well as Bruce Wayne and begins to investigate Wayne Enterprises. But wait, there's more.

The film also introduces pot-stirer, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) to the mix attempting to take over the world (as one does). Luthor meets with both Batman and Superman separately convincing each of them to not trust the other. If that wasn’t enough, a mystery woman (alright, everyone knows it’s Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot) conveniently shows up here and there looking suspicious. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get to do much more than give a sexy pout until much later in the movie. Oh, and we do get a few short glimpses of the future Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash which will be a part of the upcoming Justice League movie.

Overall, the story is super…long. And dull. No real action takes place until about an hour into the film, but the music does sound menacing though, trying to build up some tension. The confusing storyline might appeal to fan boys, but to the causal comic book movie fan, nothing makes much sense. (Rumor has it that the "director's cut" of the film features even more footage, but actually makes the story more coherent.) Sure, we all know that Lex Luthor is Superman’s arch enemy, but in this story, it isn’t clear what he has against him or why he wants to kill him. It doesn’t help that Eisenberg’s version of the super villain’s greatest strength is how annoying he is.

Then, after much buildup, there is the big battle between the Batman and Superman. While both of the men’s intentions are good (they are looking out for the citizens of the world) they seem more preoccupied by their own pride judging the other. "Do you bleed?" Batman asks allowed.

Just as in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman is still over-serious with all of the potential fun it could have brought to the big screen sucked out of it. Sure, these superheroes are selfless, but they act as if their special abilities are a burden rather than a gift that needs to be shared. As a viewer, you want to  like these guys. Unlike Marvel’s current batch of heroes who all seem like people you would like to hang out with, these DC heroes represent those emo kids you avoided in school.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

DC Heroes Come Together - Video of the Day


Here is the new trailer for Justice League coming to theaters next month. Can someone tell me why Aquaman spends so much time out of the water?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

June Foray: Seldom Seen, Often Heard, Forever Missed

June Foray and the many characters she has played.
(Left) June Foray at the 41st Annual Annie Awards (Flicker), Rocky the Flying Squirrel
(Jay Ward), Granny (Warner Bros.), Squaw (Disney), Lucifer (Disney), Witch Hazel
(Warner Bros.) and Natasha Fatale (Jay Ward)
While celebrities voicing animated characters are a dime a dozen, nobody can match the talents of famous voice talent artists like Mel Blanc, Clarence Nash, Thurl Ravenscroft and even Robin Williams. Unfortunately, we lost another voice talent recently: June Foray. While you didn’t see the actress much, you are well aware of the many characters she has voiced over the years.

Foray passed away on July 26, 2017, two months before she would have turned 100 years old. Foray began her long career starting with radio work when she was just 12-years-old. During the late 1930's, Foray starred in her own radio series, Lady Make Believe which help to launch her into making appearances on many other radio shows at the time. In the 1940’s, more than just her voice appeared in a few movies, but by then, her work as a voice artist really took hold.

Foray is known mostly for the different characters she has played for Disney, Warner Bros., Jay Ward and Water Lantz among others. For Disney, you may remember her for playing Lucifer the Cat in Cinderella, Squaw in Peter Pan, Witch Hazel in the Donald Duck cartoon, Treat or Treat and even Grandmotehr Fa in Mulan.

For Walter Lantz, Foray played numerous voices for the Woody Woodpecker cartoons including Woody’s niece and nephew, Splinter and Konthead. Warner Bros. hired her to play another Witch Hazel for a few Bugs Bunny cartoons and later took over the role of Granny from former voice artist Bea Benaderet. She worked a lot with Mel Blanc who voiced most Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird and others. She also voiced the Chuck Jone’s Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and a similar voice for the scary Talky Tina doll in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Of course, most people know Foray for playing the voice Rocky the Flying Squirrel on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show where she also played Natasha Fatale and Nell Fenwick. Foray continued to play the Warner Bros. and Jay Ward characters to as late as 2014 with her last works being the The Looney Tunes Show and another Rocky and Bullwinkle theatrical short.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

This Day in Pop Culture for July 27

The first official Bugs Bunny cartoon was "A Wild Hare"

First “Official” Bugs Bunny Cartoon is Released 

While Porky's Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a “Bugs Bunny-like” rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery, was released on this day in 1940 and is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon. It is the first film where Bugs is voiced by Mel Blanc (who would continue to voice the rabbit for many years) and the first for the hare to utter, “What’s Up Doc?” A huge success at the box office, the short also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

'Laff-A-Lympics': The Animated 'Battle of the Network Stars'

(Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros.)


Since ABC has revived (at lease for this summer) The Battle of the Network Stars, I thought I might showcase another show that was loosely based and/or inspired by the twice-yearly TV special: Laff-A-Lympics (also known as Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics). Don't remember it? Watch the video after the jump and see if that brings back some memories for you.

Though Laff-A-Lympics only lasted for two seasons, it was a fairly popular limited animated cartoon series sandwiched between episodes of Scooby-Doo, Captain Cavemen and the Teen Angels and Dynomutt. The show aired on ABC from September 1977 to July 1979. Videos of the two seasons are available on DVD.

Like the Battle of the Network Stars, which featured one team from the three national networks (ABC, NBC and CBS), this cartoon pitted well-known Hanna-Barbera characters against one another divided up into three teams: The Scooby Doobies, The Yogi Yahooeys and the Really Rottens. At the time, most kids were well aware of all of the team players on the Scooby Doobies, but not as many were familiar with some of the Yogi Yahooeys. Worse though was the decision to create almost all new characters for the Really Rottens.

Originally, Dick Dastardly and Muttley were going to lead the team, but those characters were co-owned by Heatter-Quigley Productions. So, Hanna-Barbera created the Dick Dastardly look-alike, Dread Baron and gave him Mumbly as his pooch. Though he had a strong resemblance to Muttley complete with the same distinctive laugh, Mumby was actually an existing character who played a detective years earlier. Apparently, somewhere down the line he choose a life of crime.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

This Day in Pop Culture for May 30

Mel Blanc was born on May 30, 1908

The Voice of Bugs Bunny is Born

I am fully convinced that many of our beloved animated friends would not be so enduring to us if it wasn’t for Mel Blanc, “the man with a thousand voices.” Born on this day in 1908, Blanc spent the bulk of his years giving voice to Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Conzales, the Tasmanian Devil, Barney Rubble (from The Flintstones), Mr. Spacely (The Jetsons), Woody Woodpecker and many others. Those characters have lived on since Blanc passed away in 1989, but they have never sounded quite the same since. However, in 2012, Warner Bros. took the audio recording of a 1950’s children’s album to help voice the Daffy Duck short, Daffy’s Rhapsody. It was as if he never left.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

'LEGO Batman' - Just Remember It's a Movie About a Toy

Review of "The LEGO Batman Movie."
Barbara Grayson (Rosario Dawson) and Batman (Will Arnett) in  The LEGO Batman Movie. (Warner Bros.)


Everyone appears to be in love with The LEGO Batman Movie. Taking the best character from 2014’s The LEGO Movie and giving him his own story is brilliant. Will Arnett voicing Batman is hilarious and I was really looking forward to the film. While I found the movie enjoyable (and also a little too long) I left the theater wanting more of a story.

The best part of The LEGO Movie was that the ending cut to a live action scene with a boy and his father and you realize that everything you saw before was just the imagination of a child playing with LEGOs. That scene gave the film the warmth that it needed and helped to make sense of some of the antics that happened earlier on in the story. The new LEGO Batman Movie is also a story told from a child’s point of view, but it isn’t as clear. I went in thinking I was going to see one movie and ended up seeing another.

Despite the many references to just about every Batman franchise there is, this isn’t a “Batman” movie. It’s a movie about a LEGO figure called “Batman.” All the characters and elements are there, but you aren’t going to see a classic Batman story. He doesn’t even use his utility belt.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Vanessa Hudgens is Super in Powerless

Review of the TV show, "Powerless."
Jennie Pierson as Wendy, Ron Funches as Ron, Vanessa Hudgens as Emily, 
Danny Pudi as Teddy  (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Warner Bros/NBC)


DC Comics has been taking a beating lately. While the company has been making money with it movies by Warner Bros., one of the biggest complaints is that the films are overly serious and squeeze all the fun out of them. That’s not a problem with NBC’s Powerless which doesn’t take itself seriously at all.

Powerless is the “lighter side of DC” that actually works within the comic book universe and yet be its own thing. The worst thing about the show is its title which doesn’t really mean much. You see, Powerless is a workplace comedy centered at Wayne Security located in Charm City. As a division of Batman’s…er…Wayne Enterprises, the company strives on creating new products to help the local citizens survive the various attacks on their city from super villains and give help to superheroes as well. Unfortunately, the company is either too slow to the party or another company comes up with a copycat product making Wayne Security virtually “powerless” to compete with them. Get it?

What the show lacks in a name, it shines with Vanessa Hudgens. Hudgens, best known for her roles in the High School Musical movies (and dating Zac Efron) proves that she just might have a future in comedy. She plays figuratively rose-colored glasses-wearing Emily who has just taken on a new job in leadership at the failing company without knowing that it is actually failing. She is absolutely sure that she will be able to make a difference there and that everyone will love her. She is in for a rude surprise.

Friday, August 5, 2016

'Suicide Squad' Mirrors the Human Condition

Movie review of Suicide Squad.
Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Katana, Flag, Killer Croc and Diablo. (Warner Bros.)
After months and month of hype (and virtual pleading from Warner Bros. for audiences to like this film) Suicide Squad has finally come to theaters and like its cast of characters, it has a few flaws. That is not to say that it is not enjoyable to watch. It’s an entertaining film. Is it good? Well, that depends.

As of late, DC Comic movies make a lot of money, but not as much as Warner Bros. would like. Each has its own set of fans that “loved” it regardless of the content but has faced a lot more backlash from others. Most complain that the films Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were too dark. Some say that the films would have done better if they were rated “R” as if the rating were some sort of magic wand. So, it is of no surprise that Suicide Squad had numerous tweaks in hopes of appeasing the fans as well as the critics. Instead of making a better movie, the end result is a choppy mess with little focus. Still, there are some diamonds in the rough if you seek them.

“I want to assemble a task force of the most dangerous people on the planet – the worst of the worst – who I think can do some good.” Says Amanda Waller, played by Viola Davis who is essentially just playing out a slightly different version of Annalise Keating from her TV show, How To Get Away With Murder. Suicide Squad opens with Waller stating that she has “got them all” even referring to Harley Quinn as the Joker’s girlfriend, but … she doesn’t have the Joker, creating the start of the first plot hole. Does she really think that she can use Harley without any backlash from the Joker?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Harry Potter to be Featured in Concert Series has New Home

(Inquisitr / Getty Images)
Harry Potter fans have even more to celebrate as CineConcerts has announced that the company has partnered with Warner Brothers Consumer Products to perform a concert series featuring every Harry Potter movie made states Variety. Audiences will have the luxury of re-viewing a Harry Potter movie with a live symphony orchestra performing the entire score of the film while they watch. 

Each of the Harry Potter films have been remastered to only include the dialogue and sound effects. Any musical score will be played by a live orchestra while the film will be presented on a 40-foot screen. “All the music is pulled out of the film, so that’s one of the interesting challenges — mixing the live music against the dialogue and the effects,” says CineConcerts president Justin Freer.

Friday, December 11, 2015

'In the Heart of the Sea' is More Than a Whale of a Tale

Review of the movie "In the Heart of the Sea."


If you were spared from reading the novel Moby-Dick when you were in school, you might be surprised to learn that the Herman Melville story was actually inspired by true events. In 1820, the whaling ship, the Essex from New England was the target of a giant white whale and if In the Heart of the Sea is accurate, that creature had a score to settle with the ship’s crew. Chris Hemsworth, who plays First Mate Owen Chase, says it best: “The hunter became the hunted.” For some directors, there would be a temptation to treat scenes to become similar to “Jaws” but while the film has plenty of action, Ron Howard smartly focuses more on the human interaction of the story.

Based on the book by Nathaniel Philbrick, the story begins with Melville (Ben Whishaw) seeking out an aging Tom Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) who was a cabin boy on the Essex and is the last living survivor of the attack. Melville desperately wants to hear Nickerson’s story firsthand as he knows that this information would help him write the next bestseller. At first Nickerson refuses, but after some prodding from his wife (Michelle Fairley), he relents.

Review of the movie "In the Heart of the Sea."
Nickerson tells about how Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) was to captain the ship, but was demoted to serve as first mate instead. This might have to do with the fact that Chase was born into a family of farmers which didn’t look so good on paper. Instead, the investors of the trip offered the captain job to George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), an inexperienced man but one who came from a family with a great reputation. Young Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland) observed how these two men clashed right from the beginning. Chase was insulted since he was promised the job and Pollard hated the idea that he would be babysat by Chase. It is not surprising that the ship suffered a major blow when Pollard wanted to go through a storm while Chase wanted to go around it. After a successful killing of a smaller whale, the ship met the big one who wanted nothing more than to kill the entire crew.