Liam Neeson

After fighting kidnapping pimps involved in the sex trade, after fighting wolves, after fighting Nazis in black and white, Liam Neeson is in talks to fight terrorists on a plane. According to Variety, Warners wants him for Non-Stop, and it’s easy to see why. The story is focused on an Air Marshall (who Neeson would play) that gets hip to a terrorism plot on an international flight (one that apparently doesn’t have any transfers or scheduled refueling sessions). He then, most likely, kicks a bunch of ass and tells people to get off his plane. The script was written by John Richardson and Chris Roach – both of whom are newcomers to the writing game – and will be directed by Jeff Wadlow (Cry_Wolf). The poster is going to be great. Neeson looking stony with a cut or two on his face, a plane looming in the background, the tag “The Flight is Non-Stop. So Is He.” Goosebumps.

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“Yes, the same Jane Fonda who has been described as a communist, was part of the “F” the Army too and is an enemy sympathizer.” “Perhaps Fonda will be perfect at mangling history on film, since she’s certainly done that in real life.” “Of all people Hollywood could haven chosen to portray Nancy Reagan in a new film, they come up with Jane Fonda. It’s like they’re trying to offend half of America before the movie is even made. ” “Arch-liberals Fonda and [John] Cusack playing a pair of major figures on the Right? Conservatives should stock up on antacids starting … now.” That’s Townhall.com, News Busters, The Lonely Conservative and Breitbart.com in response to the Variety story that writer/director Lee Daniels (Precious) has hired Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan for his new movie The Butler, which follow the story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served under eight, count ‘em, eight presidents during his career.

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Countdown to the End: Love Actually

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Love Actually (2003) The Plot: Love Actually marked one of the first multi-plot story line films (that actually worked) which explored the different stages, phases and versions of love set against the magical background of Christmas time in London. From the young love of Sam (Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson) to the forbidden love of David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) to Daniel (Liam Neeson) dealing with heartbreak, Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) unrequited love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) and the blossoming relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), each relationship depicted a different side and aspect of that crazy emotion that seems to drive and link us all. Love Actually showed audiences that in the end, all you need is love (despite the pain, anguish and complications that can come with it) and did so in a way that was sweet, humorous and touching.

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Look, Battleship will probably end up proving that it has at least a few original ideas in its head. Someone out there has to have shoved in one or two scenes that don’t look exactly like other movies, but the trailers certainly aren’t out to prove that. Nevertheless, it’s time to stop ragging on this flick for being a moronic idea and time to start ragging on it as a clear patchwork of other movies. Somehow, Universal has bypassed the need to do Hollywood math by simply copying and pasting directly from other films that have been successful. Why make something like Iron Man or like Transformers when you can go ahead and just make them again under a different name. Watch this new trailer and try to say with a straight face that the alien design isn’t Iron Man with a paint job. Watch the giant building collapse and try not to think up 5 other movies within the past 2 years where it’s happened (and try extra hard not to imagine the exact same scene in Dark of the Moon). No one says much of anything. Probably a good thing. But, whew, the action sure does look eye-popping.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in his Jedi robes and grabs his lightsaber, heading to the theater to see the 3D re-release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. While there, he faces a sea of estrogen as ladies of all type swarm into the multiplex to see Channing Tatum’s abs multiflex. After using his lightsaber to break through the wall of pre-Valentine’s Day ladies, he faces more obstacles with twentysomething dudes heading out to see Safe House and obnoxious families to see Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Fortunately for Kevin, he is able to dispatch everyone with his Rock-inspired “pec pop of love.” It was an early Valentine’s Day massacre.

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Director Peter Berg is making his bid for A-level status (box office-wise) this summer with an adaptation of the Hasbro game Battleship. That, by the way, is a complete misuse of the term ‘adaptation’ seeing as the game has zero story elements to adapt. Maybe if the movie featured naval combatants going head to head and controlled by unseen forces? Or if the aliens were manipulating ships to fight each other? I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here, but you can see how difficult it would be to make a good movie from the game. So why do it? Obviously Universal is hoping to find the same success with Hasbro that Paramount has with their Transformers movies, but it’s still so nonsensical. The Battleship name offers no recognizable pull for audiences. These aren’t fighting robots that viewers have seen in action previously on TV or via toys in their hands…this is a board game with no moving pieces. The film could exist exactly as is under a different name and would end up with the exact same box office results. Check out the new ad below.

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Joe Carnahan

The first reaction of anyone coming out of The Grey probably won’t be, “I bet the director of The A-Team, Smokin’ Aces, and that BMW short Ticker made this!” Joe Carnahan prefers it to be that way. The director’s fifth feature film isn’t a full-blown action romp, but is instead a thrilling meditation on life, death, and survival. (Check out our review here.) Similar to Carnahan’s breakout feature, Narc, The Grey shows all the trappings of a true personal project — the kind of story that a filmmaker had to tell. And, after speaking with Carnahan for 25 minutes, that was clearly the case. From White Jazz to Killing Pablo, when the personable man finds a story that comes from his core, he’s got to get it made. Here’s what Joe Carnahan had to say about the life and death themes of The Grey, writing and portraying real men, and why he never wants to become a “one for them, one for me” filmmaker:

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Aural Fixation - Large

Getting lost in the freezing cold wilderness with little to no hope of survival is frightening enough, but when the threat of a killer pack of wolves start descending on a group of blue collar workers who just survived a plane crash, the stakes are set even higher. Composer Marc Streitenfeld creates a sonic landscape that is both moving and terrifying, perfectly mirroring the snowy landscape that surrounds these men as they try to survive the elements. The heavy use of strings and piano are faint enough to keep from overpowering the already intense scenes and performances that make up The Grey, but are still powerful enough to support those moments and help add to the emotional weight of each actor’s striking performances. The Grey also makes an interesting choice in choosing not to turn up the volume or throw in a ton more instrumentation, even when those on screen are running and fighting for their lives. Streitenfeld instead scales back to allow those more natural sounds (and the sound of those ferocious wolves) to take over.

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The man vs nature genre of action/adventure films is usually a pretty reliable one when it comes to attractive scenery and entertaining scraps between man and beast. From the popcorn perfection of Jaws to the bloody thrills of Savage Harvest there’s a visceral thrill to be found in battles fought fist against claw (or teeth, beak, trunk, etc). With the exception of the very best however the films are usually pure entertainment that stop well short of anything resembling engaging human drama. The Grey is one of those exceptions. Mostly.

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The Reject Report - Large

Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong. But in our current form we have to take into account things like star power and demographics and mass appeal, the kinds of aspects that go into making a film financially successful. This week sees three new movies wanting that success and one Oscar contender expanding to wide release. Liam Neeson fights wolves, Sam Worthington faces a ledge, and Katherine Heigl takes on…money, I guess. I’m not really sure. Only one of these movies can be the victor while the other two scrounge for scraps to make up $10-15m. Not even worth the effort really. It’s the Reject Report, and you shall not pass. Okay, now you can pass. Go ahead.

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The Must See Movies of January 2012

With the gut-wrencher Shame, an uncomfortably funny Young Adult, Spielberg’s heart-string pullin’ War Horse, a high-flying Tintin adventure, the shining return of Cameron Crowe, the oversized popcorn blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the overlooked hilarity of Carnage, the pulpy thrills of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the subdued near-masterpiece that is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, last month was a pretty fantastic time at the movies. Now we’re entering January. While this time of the year is usually a dumping ground — and we’ll be getting plenty of films of that low-caliber — there’s a surprising amount of films to check out this month, mainly the award-ready expanding releases.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Recently, I found myself looking for a movie to watch that was Christmasy and festive, but not necessarily something so holiday-themed that it had Santa Clauses, reindeer, and Jesuses in it. You know, something about normal people but set around the time of the holidays. While perusing all of the top ten holiday movie lists that I could find around the web, I saw one title keep popping up again and again, Richard Curtis’s Love Actually. I never saw this one when it came out, it just looked like another generic romantic comedy to me, but it turns out a lot of people love to watch it every year around the Christmas season. And further research led me to the fact that a lot of people mention it as one of the few romantic comedies that’s actually good from the last decade as well. Sounded strong enough for me to give it a watch. It turns out I didn’t much care for the film, though, and my need for something Christmasy had been left unsated. Not willing to go out on another limb, I decided to revisit a film that I had already seen before, one that I remembered enjoying much more than I was expecting to back when it was released. This second choice was Thomas Bezucha’s 2005 film The Family Stone, which already seems to be rather forgotten. Luckily for me, time did not prove my idiocy, because upon a second watch I found that I still enjoyed […]

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The first glimpse we got of Peter Berg’s upcoming board game adaptation (it hurts me somewhere deep to have to type those words) played a little coy with us, and at first made it look like the film would be sticking to the Battleship board game’s naval battle roots. Once a spaceship popped up and the whole thing turned into an alien invasion movie, it was kind of a surprise. This second look at Battleship, however, doesn’t bother to take any time tying this movie to the board game at all. It’s all alien invasion from beginning to end. And with a color palette very reminiscent of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, a bunch of elaborately techno ships and weapons that look like they’re right out of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, sound effects that seem to be ripped from Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, and a big ol’ headline that says this movie is from the company that brought you Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, I think it’s safe to say that Universal is aiming this thing less at fans of grid based strategy games and more at fans of Michael Bay’s big, dumb Transformers movies. It leaves me with a question: if this movie isn’t going to have anything to do with naval battles at all, why even attach it to the Battleship name? Why not just admit what you’re doing and call it Gobots? Check out the new trailer below.

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If there’s one shot that’ll get your juices flowing for Joe Carnahan‘s upcoming survival epic, it’ll be one that features Liam Neeson sporting broken glass – why aren’t they plastic? – knuckles to face off against a hungry wolf. From the looks of it, that seems to be the plot of The Grey. Most of this slick teaser features CG wolves looking like angry CG wolves, with the scared and pissed humans looking like scared and pissed humans. Will the film be just two hours of that? I hope so. Director Joe Carnahan is certainly never someone to shy away from going a little nutso. Even in a tent-pole film like The A-Team, the man had a set-piece involving Bradley Cooper and a flying tank. Would Christoper Nolan ever have the gusto to do such a thing? I think not. Take a look at a gruff and cold Liam Neeson in the teaser for The Grey after the break.

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After getting my hair blown back by all the awesome old man violence in the first Taken, I’ve been following the development of the sequel pretty closely. The idea of making a sequel to a film where a guy’s daughter gets kidnapped is a tricky one. What do you do, have her get kidnapped again? Have somebody else in the family get kidnapped? It’s pretty easy with a concept like this to get into ridiculous, “how does the same thing happen to the same guy twice” territory. But as long as they don’t dwell on the improbabilities and instead just focus on Liam Neeson brutally exacting his vengeance on bad guys, I don’t really mind. When Neeson first started talking about a sequel to Taken, I cheered. When it was announced that the film had found itself a director, I was cautiously optimistic. And now that word has come down the pipe that shooting will start soon, I’m officially getting excited. Producer Luc Besson had a chat with Coming Soon, and revealed that new director Olivier Megaton had been spending some time on a recent trip to LA to begin scouting for the film, that shooting would most likely begin in October, and that the entire cast of the first film would be back for the sequel. Wait. didn’t Liam Neeson kill everyone in the first movie? No, apparently Famke Janssen played his wife and she’ll be returning. I must have missed that while I was concentrating on all the […]

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Seriously folks. Battleship may very well turn out to be a fun action flick, but this trailer makes it look like a massive chore to sit through. Directed by Peter Berg (who has proven that he knows good character and story), this film shows off the talents of Liam Neeson’s one-liner abilities as well as the fill-in-the-blanks action prowess of Dolph Lundgern’s son Taylor Kitsch. It goes strictly by the book, and the comparison to Transformers and Skyline is so apt that you can still see the afterbirth pooling around the edges if you look hard enough. So, look hard:

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It’s obligatory for anyone writing about this news to point out two things. One, we hate writing it. Two, we’re going to anyway. Consider it a casting announcement that just happens to have bigger implications for a movie that should remain as secretive as possible. After all, at a time when Chuck Klosterman is wondering whether The 6th Sense could be made in our spoiler-happy internet world, it’s especially appropriate to see a scoop like this come down the pipeline. It’s not a massive twist, but it could be a game-changer, so if you don’t want any of the surprises for The Dark Knight Rises ruined, read no further. If you don’t mind, or are willing to take the chance that this won’t be that big a deal, feel free to find out what actor filmed a scene for the movie.

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There was something about Taken that audiences just responded to. I don’t know what it was, but I felt it too. For some reason we were all just ready to see Liam Neeson go completely badass and mess some people up. The guy may be in his 50s, but when he told those guys that he had the set of skills necessary to take them out in that trailer, we all believed it. So I went to see the thing, and I sat there, not expecting much, yet inexplicably drawn to the film. For the first 30 minutes I was pretty bored and upset that I had been sucked in by the ad campaign. And then his daughter got taken, and for the rest of the runtime the movie was pure, brutal ass-kickery. And I’m not talking about the flippy, dancy, show-off type ass kicking that we get in most movies these days. Liam Neeson was a bone breaking, tooth and nail, creepy psycho. It was very satisfying to watch, and the movie ended up making a ton of money. So, guess what, bad news for Liam Neeson… somebody in his life is going to be taken again! Can you believe it? Or maybe there will be a twist and this time Neeson will be the one who gets taken. Either way, Taken 2 is looking like it’s going to happen. Neeson seems to be on board, Luc Besson is going to write again, and they’ve found a director. This […]

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It would have been an awesome opportunity for other aging actors to hop into the role and turn it into a Bond-like revolving door of men trying to rescue their daughters, but Liam Neeson has worked out a deal to star in Taken 2. It’s good news all around, and it’s difficult to see this sequel being anything more (or less) than the same airtight action of the last with a straight line toward the murderizing of bad guys. Plus, there’s nothing that says Luc Besson can’t start a series of films with all the 60+ actors of our time crushing skulls and saving daughters. Think about it, Besson. C’est Parfait.

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This seems calamitous, but Liam Neeson may not be able to reprise his role as the father with a very deadly set of skills (unless you count Unknown as a de facto sequel to Taken). Deadline Aransas Pass is reporting that Luc Besson wants to make a sequel happen this year, but Neeson wants to take some time off from a grueling schedule. If he does, and if Besson wants to push anyway, they’ll need to find another actor for the job. This sounds awful, but there is a silver lining. Imagine if this random scheduling problem launches a series of movies about aging, highly skilled bad asses trying to get their duck-running daughter back. What if Taken 2 was Gary Oldman kicking ass and chewing bubble gum, followed by Clint Eastwood in Taken 3 and Harrison Ford in Taken 4. Colin Firth, Tom Hanks, Jason Isaacs, Bruce Willis, Robert De Niro, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush. That’s right. I said it. Geoffrey Rush. Put guns in all of their hands and set them loose on baddies of all different stripes. Then top it all off with Helen Mirren playing a mother with a particular set of skills, and you’ve got thirteen of the most stream-lined action flicks of the past four decades. But, yeah. Losing Neeson would be pretty bad news.

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