Cinema Scoop  

Get an early jump at the movies

Greetings movie lovers, due to American Thanksgiving, this week's films are being released a couple of days early so here is a sneak peek at what you can see starting tonight.

     Life of Pi

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor... a fearsome Bengal tiger.

     My Take

Based on the highly acclaimed novel by Canadian author Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a film that has been in development for nearly nine years. Several different directors have been attached to the project over that time including M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Eventually the studio settled on Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Storm) to helm this ambitious and challenging project.

I read the novel eight years ago, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I always wondered how in the heck someone was going to translate this to film. A huge portion of the story concerns a young man stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean accompanied by a tiger. Much of this tale is contemplative and deals with the nature of spirituality and human faith in God.

I must say though, based on what I've seen from the trailers, Life of Pi looks like an absolutely beautiful film filled with exquisite visuals. I have total faith that Ang Lee was the right choice for this film and I very much am looking forward to seeing his interpretation of this story.

Lee decided to go with an entirely international cast so there will be very few recognizable stars in the film. One has to wonder if the studio isn't taking an enormous risk with this film, given its inflated budget due to the amount of visual effects required, and the fact that it has zero star power. Time will tell if it was worth it, but I sincerely hope that people will want to check it out due to the compelling story it has.

If you are in the mood for an inspirational and thought provoking film filled with visual splendour then you will definitely want to seek out Life of Pi.

     Rise of the Guardians

Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is a carefree boy who has no responsibilities in the world aside from bringing winter wherever he goes. But everything changes when Pitch (Jude Law), the Nightmare King, begins his plan to engulf the world in darkness. The Guardians, Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Sandman enlist Jack to join their group to stop Pitch and protect the children of the world.

     My Take

The latest animated fantasy adventure from DreamWorks Animation is based on a series of books by William Joyce called The Guardians of Childhood. The idea for the Guardians came from Joyce's daughter, who asked him "if he thought Santa Claus had ever met the Easter Bunny." The film includes a dedication to her because, sadly, she died of a brain tumour shortly into the production of this film.

I have some hope that this won't be just a run-of-the-mill animated romp because the studio brought in Guillermo del Toro as an executive producer in order to shape the story, character design, theme and structure of the film. Hopefully that means that it won't just appeal to small children.

I like the idea of combining several different fairy tale characters together to form a sort of Justice League or Avengers for the younger set. This could be quite an entertaining ride for both young and old alike.

I sincerely hope that Rise of the Guardians ends up being a magical and enchanting film and not just another hyperactive fantasy that resembles an exploding toy factory. We shall see.

     Red Dawn

In Red Dawn, a city in Washington state awakens to the surreal sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky - shockingly, the U.S. has been invaded and their hometown is the initial target. Quickly and without warning, the citizens find themselves prisoners and their town under enemy occupation. Determined to fight back, a group of young patriots seek refuge in the surrounding woods, training and reorganizing themselves into a guerrilla group of fighters. Taking inspiration from their high school mascot, they call themselves the Wolverines, banding together to protect one another, liberate their town from its captors, and take back their freedom.

     My Take

Here we go again with another pointless remake of an eighties film that wasn't anything that special to begin with. The 1984 original starred Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and Charlie Sheen and it tapped into the paranoia of that time during the cold war when Americans thought that the commies were coming to get them.

The new film features invaders from North Korea rather than the Soviet Union to keep it more topical of course.

Featured among the cast of this new version are Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

This film is likely to be all about the action as it's directed by Dan Bradley, whose only previous experience has been as a longtime stunt coordinator. I'm thinking that this might just be an empty film, lacking character development and filled with non-stop gun battles and staged action sequences.

There just doesn't look like anything overly compelling about this film and it is likely only going to appeal to die-hard action junkies. My guess is that it will fade quickly from our cinematic memories.

I'm willing to bet that this low-rent action flick, obviously lacking in any substance, is going to go over about as well as a fart in a church.

Just sayin'

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About the Author

Just to give you a little background on my qualifications, I've been a film buff my whole life and I enjoy all different genres.

I especially have a passion for classic cinema.

I spent most of the past 17 years working for Rogers Video, so not only have I seen an immense amount of movies, but I've recommended many films to people over the years.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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