I picked up writer/director/editor Gareth Evans‘ The Raid 2 on Blu-ray this week and damn if it wasn’t worth every penny. The quote on the box from our own Matt Goldberg calls the film “one of the greatest action movies ever made” and, after watching it, I can’t say that I disagree. Evans takes everything that made The Raid great and augments it to create an unforgettable action spectacle that is bigger in every conceivable way. It goes without saying that the stunt work and fight choreography is top notch, but work that strong shouldn’t be taken for granted so I’m mentioning it anyway. Additionally, DP’s Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono use of color and contrast manage to make the film’s extreme violence look and feel more artful than a hammer ripping someone’s throat out has any right to be. I’m cramped for space here, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the film’s lead, Iko Uwais, delivers an absolute powerhouse performance that is both physically impossible and emotionally deft. All told, The Raid 2 is a masterful piece of technical action work that should be appreciated and analyzed for years to come. For even more, check out our Blu-ray review here.
Begrudgingly moving away from The Raid 2, this week’s Top 5 features interviews for and Matt’s review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Warner Bros. bumping up the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the first trailer for Focus Features’ The Theory of Everything, an introductory look at the films of Andrew Dominik, and the Alamo Drafthouse announcing the first wave of programming for its annual Fantastic Fest. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each of the above.
1. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Interviews and Review
I’m as much a sucker for childhood nostalgia as the next person (and trust me, i loved the Turtles as a kid) but nostalgia alone isn’t enough to carry me to the theaters to check out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My hope is that it’s a solid entry in the franchise that this generation of kids can adore the way I did the first two films, the cartoon series, and the video game tie-ins. Unfortunately, Matt’s review doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that this is the case with Jonathan Liebesman’s new live-action take. In spite of the lackluster feedback from the pic thus far, the Ninja Turtle lover in me still recommends checking out Christina’s interviews with Megan Fox & Will Arnett and director Jonathan Liebesman and producers Andrew Form & Brad Fuller as well as Perri’s set visit report and set interview with Megan Fox & Will Arnett.
2. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Release Date Change
Confirming that it wanted no part of sharing an opening weekend with Marvel’s Captain America 3, Warner Bros. announced this week that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is having its release bumped up six weeks from May 6th, 2016 to March 25th. Because why not announce release dates for the next six years while you’re at it, Warner Bros. also gave a rundown of its DC film releases through November 2020 which includes 11 films overall, two of which are coined “event films” releasing in 2018 and 2020. Interesting to say the least considering that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the only other DC film confirmed to be in development as of today.
3. First Trailer for THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Focus Features rolled out the first trailer for its Stephen Hawking-centered drama The Theory of Everything this week and the results are a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the trailer makes the film look incredibly touching as it focuses on his motor neuron disease diagnosis at the age of 21 and the impact it has on his work and his relationship with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. On the other hand, the love story looks a little heavy handed for my liking. Color me interested but not completely sold for now.
4. The Films of Andrew Dominik: An Introduction
Beginning next week, our Evan Dickson will grace the site with an in-depth look at the films of New Zealand’s Andrew Dominik: Chopper (2000), The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), and Killing Them Softly (2012). I could tell you about the goals of the series here but I think Evan sums it up nicely in this introduction which ran earlier in the week. Having never watched a Dominik film, I’m hoping this series will give me a good indication of where best to start.
5. First Programming Wave Announced for Fantastic Fest 2014
The Alamo Drafthouse’s annual Fantastic Fest is a film festival after my own heart. Specializing in genres such as sci-fi, horror, action, fantasy, etc., the festival never fails to include films that go on to be personal favorites of mine (i.e. documentaries such as Room 237, Jodorowsky’s Dune, and The American Scream). It should come as no surprise, then, that the 2014 version of the festival’s first wave programming announcement makes this week’s cut. I’m sure there will be others that catch my eye, but right now director Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is my most anticipated of this list.