Open Road Films via Everett Collection
David Ayer's Sabotage is just the latest stop in Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback tour, though it probably won't do the actor too many favors. Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA task force that specializes in taking down drug cartels. Each member of the team is a blunt instrument drunk off of their alpha male (and female) machismo, but to be fair, they are damn good at what they do. They're masters at going in hard, killing whoever needs killing, and heading to the strip club and drinking themselves into a stupor before the next round of street sweeping. Unfortunately, it turns out years of busting cartel bosses and being deeply unpleasant to everyone you come into contact with eventually catches up to you, and members of the squad start dying in ghastly and elaborate ways. And just like that, we have what basically amounts to an Agatha Christie novel with a gym membership and a pile of meth.
Unfortunately, and as expected, giving Agatha Christie a couple of reps at the gym and a pile of drugs turns her into a blithering idiot, because Sabotage is incredibly stupid. The central mystery somehow manages to be both preposterous and predictable at the same time. The film's one saving grace is its action. The action scenes are adrenal and exciting and unbelievably gory. Bloated corpses are poked and prodded, viscera hangs like ropes from a rafter. This film takes immense pleasure in being completely disgusting. It’s downright gleeful about it. Here's a full shot of a soiled toilet, just because. Here's a piece of skin hanging on some metal, why not. Isn't that cool?
While Sabotage does manage to thrill in spurts and stutters, there's absolutely nothing beating at the heart of the film. All of the main characters are completely and utterly repugnant, and you'll pity anyone who has to endure their company throughout the film. When characters do start to die, you won't feel all that broken up about it. In fact, you may even feel a twinge of joy, like the earth was suddenly unburdened from a pure source of rampant douchebaggery. Just imagine the most disgusting, and off-putting person you can, and then give them a gun, a badge, and a fierce sense of entitlement, and you have every single member of the film's DEA squad. They're all terrible.
And if that weren't bad enough, the acting ranges from mediocre to terrible. The usually wonderful Olivia Williams and the capable Sam Worthington continually forget which continent they're on, their accents dropping in an out like a bad radio connection; Schwarzenneger has a complete inability to emote anything apropos of the situation at hand. When looking upon a pile of ooze that was formerly in the shape of one of his best friends, his disappointment is more akin to seeing a temporarily occupied gym bench on chest day. All of the charm the actor showcased in something like the recent Escape Plan is washed out by Breacher's moping about his dark past, and when Schwarzenneger isn't allowed to be fun, then he's completely boring.
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Really, I should hate Sabotage. It’s a completely stupid and mean spirited film, but there’s a strange charm to the depravity of it all. There's an audaciousness to it. The film goes as far as it can to push limits, and succeeds at being appaling. It’s a film that knows how stupid and ugly it is and champions that fact. It’s playing in its own filth, and as gross as that is, at least it’s having fun. This is the kind of film that will be in heavy rotation at the local frat house. That’s doesn’t mean the film is good or even okay, but if you like watching horrific violence, awful mysteries, and awful people being awful, then boy do I have a film for you.
Universal via Everett Collection
Lone Survivor isn't a film for the faint of heart. It's a film that beats you down and only lets you up for a few precious moments before the credits roll, but that emotional throttling is what helps make the film such a powerful experience.
Peter Berg's Lone Survivor tells the story of Operation Red Wings, primarily focusing on a group of four Navy SEALs who are sent to the mountains of Afganistan to capture or kill a member of the Taliban. The plan goes wrong, and the team has to fight for their lives to escape the enemy-infested area. The film does a marvelous job of ratcheting up the tension before collapsing into its main action sequence, one that is as thrilling as it is unsettling. The long sequence brings forth memories of the infamous D-Day opening of Saving Private Ryan, except this film's fire-fight stretches out the violence like a medieval torture device. The langourous scene is, at times, hard to sit through. Each moment slips by in coiled tension. It's undoubtedly uncomfortable, and the film makes a point to never make the violence fun or enticing. The action isn't consequence-free, and every bullet fired carries weight, making the scenes brutal and unrelenting because of it. The film takes on the aura of a horror movie that wants you to feel every second that ticks by, and director Berg makes sure that a pressing hopelessness starts to weigh on the viewer just as it does on the soldiers.
Mark Wahlberg is plenty capable as Marcus Lutrell, a member of the SEAL unit that is sent on the mission. The supporting cast plays its parts admirably by believably infusing a diverse set of personalities and values into the soldiers, while still keeping them in tune with the same military culture that governs much of their thoughts and actions. There's a great scene where a difficult decision has to be made, and the viewer gets to see the different directions to which some of the character's moral compasses are tuned. Sometimes the right thing can mean different things to different people when the risk of death is on the table. The real standout in the cast is Ben Foster, whose SO2 Matthew Alexson swirls with barely contained fury. He is darkly intense and has electric screen presence that really starts to manifest when the bullets star flying and things become dire.
Universal via Everett Collection
For all the good will that the film builds up in its first and second act, the final third of the film hits some snags as history demands that the story take itself to a different location, sacrificing some of the tension that it has built up. In the last 30 minutes of the film, there are some odd tonal choices that don't gel with the tension brimming in the first half. A comedic scene involving a language barrier stands out in particular.
The movie makes a point to steer clear of any political judgment, and it doesn't try to lay blame for the botched mission on any one head. And while the film never outwardly states and opinion on the conflicts that America found itself embroiled in during this time period, the searing brutality depicted in the movie highlight that no one should be subjected to the pain that these men were faced with. Made abundantly clear is the soldiers' willingness to drop everything and serve their country the best way they know how. Lone Survivor tries to honor the soldier, but not glorify war.
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Lone Survivor is at its best when it makes you feel the worst. It gives soldiers their due reverence by showcasing the true terror of the battlefield, and while the film does start to sag a bit in its third act, it's still more than worth the experience in order understand the consequences of war, and its toll on the people in the trenches.
First, let's start with the bad news: The Mayan calendar (and, more importantly, a stellar John Cusack movie) have confirmed that the world is ending in a few weeks. I know, right? And we were all totally going to lose those 15 lbs and start journaling in 2013. Then there's the even worse news: You missed a lot of really good TV in 2012. So much good, in fact, that you have no hope of catching up before the end of days. That's where we (and the good news) come in — we've rounded up the best TV spoilers of 2012, so you can spend your remaining days with your family, or whatever. SPOILERS AHEAD, but sorry — no one will ever know who actually killed Alison DiLaurentis on Pretty Little Liars.
Let's start with the little guys:
How I Met Your Mother: Drama! It was eventually revealed that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is marrying Robin (Cobie Smulders). Also, Victoria (Ashley Williams) left her future husband at the alter for Ted (Josh Radnor), but they broke up afterwards because Ted wouldn't stop being friends with Robin. Those crazy kids!
The Office: Angela (Angela Kinsey) found out that her husband was cheating on her with Oscar (Oscar Nuñez). Way to be a good coworker, Oscar.
Parks and Recreation: Speaking of workplace comedies, Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) finally became engaged! It was adorable.
You still with me? Good. Because it all goes downhill from here. Time for some suicides and martyrdom:
Sons of Anarchy: The universally beloved Opie (Ryan Hurst) was brutally murdered early in the show's fifth season — sacrificing his life for the club in the most horrendous way possible (he was beaten to death with a lead pipe).
Mad Men: Then there was the tragic tale of Lane Price (Jared Harris), the British sap who hung himself in his office after he found himself in financial trouble, and was fired by Don. Not a dry eye in the house.
But not all major deaths on TV this year were via suicide — 2012 was huge for killing, or being killed by, children. Let's explore, shall we?
Breaking Bad: In the former category, the artist formerly known as Landry (Jesse Plemons) from Friday Night Lights (now known as Todd on Breaking Bad) murdered a small child after said child witnessed Todd, Walt, and Jesse robbing a train. It was probably the most disturbing moment on TV this year, which says a lot, given our next spoiler.
The Walking Dead: This one sounds horrific, but it actually made a lot of people happy — Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) died via C-section childbirth during a Walker attack on Walking Dead. Doc Herschel and the rest of the Grimes Gang were busy fighting Walkers in the prison, so Lori's son Carl (Chandler Riggs) had to watch while Maggie (Lauren Cohan) tore out her baby with a dirty knife. Then Carl shot her, before she rose again. It was a classic mother/son coming-of-age moment.
Downton Abbey: This one really hurt. Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) from Downton also died during childbirth — but she didn't become a zombie, so she should just shut up and count her blessings.
Those were all really depressing, so let's move on to justice — quite a few criminals were caught in 2012:
Breaking Bad: First and foremost there's Walter White (Bryan Cranston), the drug kingpin currently known as Heisenberg . We haven't yet seen the aftermath, but the first half of Season 5 ended with Walt's brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) learning his dirty, methy secret. Dun dun dun.
Dexter: This was a long time coming — Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), the brilliant Miami Metro detective, finally learned that her brother is a serial killer. So far, she's been taking it surprisingly well.
The Killing: Oh, we finally found out who killed Rosie Larsen. It was her Aunt Terry, sort of. Then the show got canceled.
Homeland: Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) was found out and captured by the CIA much, much earlier than anticipated. He's now working with them as a double agent, which is never easy when your other agency is TERRORISM.
Enough with all the humans. Supernatural spoiler time:
The Vampire Diaries: Elena (Nina Dobrev) became a vampire at the end of the third season's finale. This season, she totally dumped Stefan (Paul Wesley) and slept with Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Bad girls do it well.
Fringe: Peter (Josh Jackson) willingly turned himself into an Observer after his daughter, Etta (Georgina Haig), was killed. It was horrifying. He's going bald!
True Blood: The newly single Bill (Stephen Moyer) willingly drank the blood of the ancient, evil vampire Lilith at the end of last season — rising as an evil entity, and effectively earning the nickname "Billith." Run, Sookeh!
Now let's move on to family drama:
Revenge: Season 1 of ABC's new(ish) hit ended with Emily (Emily VanCamp) learning that her long-lost mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) was still alive, while everyone else thought that Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) had died. She hadn't, and Emily's mother ended up being very, very boring.
Revolution: Meanwhile, over on NBC's latest hit, good-guy Miles (Billy Burke) was revealed to have started the evil Monroe Militia — the same militia that recently kidnapped his nephew. (And they still haven't turned the lights on.)
Game of Thrones: In a case of outright family treachery, Theon (Alfie Allen) betrayed the Starks by storming Winterfell, pretending to kill young Bran and Rickon, and slaughtering many of their people.
Oh, and Klaine broke up on Glee. Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna [PHOTO CREDIT: AMC, Showtime] MORE: Leanne's Spoiler List: 'True Blood' Wants Fresh Meat, 'Parenthood' Heads to Court, & More! Leanne’s Spoiler List: 'AHS: Asylum' Mommy Issues, Love and Loss on ‘Dexter’ Leanne’s Spoiler List: Love is Shaky on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,' ‘Vampire Diaries’ Gets Darker
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In the cinematic desert that is the January-February movie-release schedule one gains a greater appreciation for mere competence. And that’s precisely what you’ll get with Man on a Ledge a mid-budget thriller with modest aspirations and genuine popcorn appeal. Sam Worthington (Avatar Clash of the Titans) stars as Nick Cassidy a former New York City cop wrongly convicted for the theft of a prized diamond. After exhausting all judicial avenues for exoneration he takes the unusual and seemingly desperate next step of planting himself on a ledge outside the penthouse of midtown’s Roosevelt Hotel and threatening to jump. An NYPD psychologist (Elizabeth Banks) is summoned to talk him down unaware that Nick harbors an ulterior motive. From his perch above midtown he is secretly orchestrating a scheme to take revenge against the corrupt corporate chieftain (Ed Harris) who engineered his demise and prove his innocence once and for all.
Director Asger Leth making his U.S. feature-film debut with Man on a Ledge keeps the pace brisk and never allows the tone to stray into self-seriousness which is crucial for a movie whose premise is so devoutly ridiculous. The script from Pablo F. Fenjves provides enough feints and twists to keep us engaged. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez aren’t the most believable of couples but there’s a screwball charm to their comic routine as amateur thieves charged with aiding Nick’s scheme. (Leth can’t resist inserting an entirely superfluous – but nonetheless greatly appreciated – scene of the criminally gorgeous Rodriguez stripping down to a thong in the middle of a heist.) Worthington makes for a likable populist protagonist even if his Australian accent betrays him on copious occasions and Harris’ disturbingly emaciated frame lends an added menace to his devious plutocrat villain.
Make sure to check out Part 1 of our San Diego Comic-Con Preview!
The weekend’s here, which means only two more days of the Con left to go!
Saturday, July 23 - Comic-Con Day 3: The Search for Spock
Saturday T.V. begins with some spy geekery…
NBC’s Chuck has enjoyed a constant stay of execution and its due to a devoted cult following that is sure to be coming to the "Chuck Screening and Q&A” at Ballroom 20 at 10AM. Co–creator, Chris Fedak, along with stars Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Josh Gomez, Adam Baldwin, and more will be on hand in celebration of the show’s fandom and final season.
This is not a Land of the Lost remake…
After a brief delay to make sure the effects looked right, Fox and Steven Spielberg’s Terra Nova, is here and being previewed at Comic-Con! Brought to you by the creator of the hugely underrated The 4400, executive producer Rene Echevarria, comes exclusive footage of the series that is sure to captivate sci–fans and dinosaur lovers everywhere.
V for Twixt? Oliver Twixt? Mr. Coppola comes to Comic-Con…
Many moviegoers, comic book fans and non, consider The Godfather, and The Godfather II, amongst some of the greatest movies ever made. While director Francis Ford Coppola has been off shooting small indies for the last few years, but now he’s teaming up with Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning for Twixt, a film written and directed by the beloved auteur. It’s not based on a comic book, but Coppola’s new film will be in Hall H at 11:45AM to hopefully generate a ton of heat for its late 2011 release.
Cyclopes, Drunk Robots, and the Planet Express
For having faith in a show thought long cancelled. Futurama has been back for a year now, and the cult fave will be at Ballroom 20 at 12:15 to preview footage from the Futurama Japanese Anime and a preview of the this summer’s season. Along for the panel are Matt Groening and David X. Cohen (Futurama’s creators), as well as stars Billy West (Fry), Katey Sagal (Leela), and John DiMaggion (Bender).
Yellow Fever at ComiCon…
Holy crow, The Simpsons has been officially been on television for a generation. Can anyone remember a world without them? Heck, the pure notion of such a thing is profoundly odd. What on Earth did people watch on Sundays pre–1989? Fans can go to Ballroom 20 at 1PM to help Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Anderson, and Tom Gammill for a celebratory panel and Q&A session, as the show gets ready for its 23rd season and 500th episode.
Batman and his bad girls…
What fun-filled day at Comic-Con would be complete without a Batman-centric panel? At 1PM in room 26AB will be a philosophical and psychological discussion “Psychology of the Dark Knight: How Trauma Formed the Batman and Why He’s Got a Thing for Bad Girls,” which features psychologist Travis Langley (Henderson State), Robin Rosenberg (Psychology of Superheroes), Michael Uslan, and Catwoman herself, Lee Meriwether, all dissecting the realism of Batman’s never-ending war on crime; as well as his attraction to women like Selina Kyle and Pamela Isley.
JMS, the hardest working writer in Comicdom…
He’s the creator of Babylon 5, and the comic book saga, Rising Stars. He’s written for Superman, Spider-Man,and Silver Surfer, as well as contributed to the scripts for Thor, and the upcoming World War Z. There might not be anything on this planet that J. Michael Straczynski can’t put a new and exciting spin on, and he’s bringing that unique vision to Room 7AB at 2PM to discuss what its liking writing for so many genres and mediums, and put the “Spotlight” on himself and his future.
Mayor Adam West...
“Family Guy” voice actors, Alex Borstein (Lois), and Seth Green (Chris) and the esteemed Adam West will be giving Ballroom 20 a sneak peek at season 10 and the upcoming episode, “Stewie Goes for a Drive," at 2PM. Sorry, no Seth MacFarlane announced as of this writing, but MacFarlane’s sister Rachel, along with Scott Grimes, and Wendy Schaal will be in the room at 2:35 to present a preview the new season of their show, American Dad.
The studios were bound to mine old folk tales for new films sooner or later…
As evidenced by the recent Little Red Riding Hood, Hollywood is now tapping into many of our childhood favorites and twisting them into dark fairy tales to make a new genre (which for the record, Todd MacFarlane already started with his “Twisted World of Oz” toys, but I digress). Hall H at 3:30 is where Universal Studios will be showing off some scenes of their upcoming twisted tale, Snow White and the Huntsmen, starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth, who will all be on hand to discuss the flick. Here’s hoping they cast Kenny Baker as Doc.
Speaking of Folk Tales, NBC is joining that bandwagon as well…
Fans might need to check their drawers for this one, because the geektastic tri–fecta of creative minds from Buffy, Angel, and The X–Files are reimagining the world of Grimms’ fairy tales in NBC’s newest series, Grimm. The twist on the folk tales is an exciting one, as a homicide detective learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters called Grimms, who are tasked with protecting the world from the supernatural creatures that lived in the fairy tales. If that sounds interesting , then get to Room 6A at 4:15PM for the “Grimm Pilot Screening and Q&A,” with the producers and cast.
Comicdom’s most prolific artist since Jack Kirby…
Creating WildC.A.T.S. as well as helping to re–envision the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, among many other accomplishments in comic books is something to be amazed by, and make no mistake–Jim Lee’s artwork is nothing short of amazing. In 6DE at 4:30 “DC Focus: Jim Lee,” brings the most in demand artist in the industry, now a co–publisher of DC Entertainment, to showcase his new looks for some of the World’s Greatest Superheroes. Then, join Lee Sunday at 3 in 28DE to see how the master himself works in “Drawing with Jim Lee.”
So wait, Peter now never existed?!...
Fans of Fringe are still reeling and scratching their noggins from the wildest twist in the series’ history, and that’s a hard feat to pull off considering this show is about alternate Earths who are at war with one another because a scientist lost his son to an illness in 1985 and then kidnapped the alternate version of that son in what became a successful attempt to save him from the same fate but caused dangerous rips within the fabric of reality. Phew — lot going on, no? Trust me that sentence makes perfect sense to fans of the show, who will no doubt pack Ballroom 20 at 4:30PM to hang out with series stars, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, John Noble, and Anna Torv to preview the third season DVD and the upcoming season. Hopefully we’ll get some clue as to what happened to Peter (played by Joshua Jackson), who is still on the show, despite seemingly no longer existing.
Yes, he IS supposed to be here today…
Almost twenty years ago, Kevin Smith became a household name in fanboy circles. The creator of the ViewAskewniverse, as well as writer of the excellent “Daredevil: Guardian Devil” and “Green Arrow: Quiver” comic books is coming to Comic-Con for his annual “Early Evening with Kevin Smith,” at 5:45 in Hall H, where the director will bring his usual anything goes Q&A to the Con. Nothing will be off–limits here, and trust me get to this one early if you want a seat.
Debunking all kinds of hokum since 2003…
Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and the rest of their team have worlds of fun at their job – being Mythbusters! The group will be at Room 6BCF at 7:45 for their annual Saturday panel, discussing what myths are being trounced in the show’s tenth season.
Now’s your chance to catch some of the panels you missed…
I’m sure you spent a great deal of time agonizing over which panels to go see and which panels had to fall by the wayside of your schedule. Let’s face it; no one can see it all at Comic-Con. But that’s why at 8PM in Room 25ABC will be a three–hour marathon of all of the best panels from Hall H and Ballroom 20!
Sookies everywhere, along with Fetts, Elves, and Robots of all universes…
True Blood is definitely an obsession of many a TV junkie, and Comic-Con is giving the fans of the show a vampire-inspired Masquerade Ball. So get your Merlotte outfits, Fett suits, and white Rogue hair streaks on and head to Ballroom 20, 5AB, or 6A, for the whole fangbangin’ party, starting at 8:30 and judged by writer/artists, Phil and Kaja Foglio.
The filmmaker is taking a backseat to Back at the Barnyard's Todd Grimes, who will direct the comedy series for Lucasfilm.
According to a statement from the production company, the show will "look at the saga's characters with a playful and irreverent tone".
Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich will work as creative consultants on the project, while Brendan Hay of U.S. TV comedy the Daily Show has signed on as head writer.
Producer Jennifer Hill tells Daily Variety, "They'll be shaping the type of comedy we're looking for and the look of the show."
Lucas' Star Wars franchise has spawned merchandise, video games and spin-off series that have earned more than $22 billion over the last three decades, according to a 2007 report in U.S. magazine Forbes.
An air date has yet to be set for the new animated series.