Taylor Kitsch

lone

Editor’s note: Our review of Lone Survivor originally ran during last year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens tomorrow in wide release. Director Peter Berg made a massive misstep with 2012′s Battleship. There was a decent ninety-minute popcorn movie buried underneath all the bloat, but worst of all, it had no personality. It didn’t feel like a movie Berg had to make. Not every movie has to be a serious passion project, but when the passion is onscreen, it speaks volumes. That theory is proven well by Berg’s latest film, Lone Survivor, his best film since The Rundown. The true life story follows, if you haven’t guessed yet, a lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg). You could consider that a spoiler, but the movie opens with the rescue of Luttrell. It’s a questionable creative decision because a good deal of filmgoers will discover Luttrell’s journey with this film, but then it becomes more a matter of how Luttrell got there rather than who survived. Berg goes about introducing Luttrell and his team — Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) — with the standard camaraderie and exposition that’s expected. It’s a fine set-up, but it’s forgotten once the four of them are thrust into battle, where we learn more about them through action.

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johncarter-truth1

Mars has been the source of fascination for writers of science fiction for more than a century. Even today, after decades of knowledge about the Martian landscape, which has included orbiting probes and rovers that have landed to collect samples. However, before humans even came close to red planet, writers have set their sights on our closest planetary neighbor. Ray Bradbury wrote The Martian Chronicles stories in the 1940s, but thirty years before that, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the John Carter of Mars series. It took a hundred years to make that book series into a big-budget feature film, but Disney achieved that last year when Pixar director Andrew Stanton helmed what might be the biggest financial disappointment for the Mouse House (at least until Gore Verbinski gave us The Lone Ranger this past summer). Still, many have heralded John Carter for its scope and vision, including staying as true to the original source material as possible in today’s world of blockbuster cinema. Some have said that John Carter was the first action hero and possibly the first superhero. After all, he certainly acted like one, leaping across the Martian desert. These feats of leg strength began when he first arrives on Mars, learning to walk on a new planet. Once he gets his Mars legs, John Carter is able to jump like the athletic love child of Superman and Michael Jordan. It starts with long bounds, but soon he is able to vertically leap over people, Martians, and even […]

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lonesurvivor

Mark Wahlberg is continuing his grand tour of racking up macho roles by now playing a Navy SEAL in Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor. Did you know that these men are heroes? Because the very literal, somber rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” playing in the background of the trailer that seems to be stuck on the part where he says “heroes” will remind you if you’ve forgotten. Lone Survivor tells the true story of the failed 2005 Navy mission “Operation Red Wings,” in which a four-man team headed to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to hunt down Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. I hate to be the one to point out a spoiler, but I’m pretty sure only one of them survives. The foursome is played by scruffed-up versions of Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster. Eric Bana also stars. For fans of war tales or male bonding to the sweet, dulcet sounds of Peter Gabriel (who isn’t?), Lone Survivor is probably going to be a hit. But otherwise, it seems like just another war movie to add to the pile.

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Movie Stars

As if answering our well-established hypothesis about Hollywood shutting down the production of genuine movie stars, the industry offered a positively scientific blitz of testing this year to challenge that assertion and ultimately prove it correct. The home version of the game is to try and name the last movie star minted by the studios, the last big name to emerge and become wildly popular because of their appearances in motion pictures, the last figure to be crafted by the system in order to help secure a bigger box office for it. However, filmmakers gave us something much more concrete this year in order to prove once and for all that — while a face or two still rises from the periphery to the forefront in movies – we should be mourning the concept of “The Movie Star.” They gave us Channing Tatum and Taylor Kitsch. Let’s start with some magic.

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A Look Back at the Cinematic Facial Hair of 2012

The movies released in 2012 have been notable for many reasons, impacting or reflecting news events both positively and negatively. It’s also seen new innovations, the most notable being the first release of a film in 48 frames per second. However, cinematic historians will also look back on 2012 as being a banner year for facial hair. The entire crew of Film School Rejects relishes glorious facial hair (and yes, that also includes the ladies on staff). We all wish we could have half the style that characters in the movies this year displayed on their lips, chins and cheeks. Now, as the year draws to a close, we reminisce on the many styles we’ve seen on movie screens in 2012, and maybe give some tips on how to grow your own face so glorious.

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Drinking Games

By now, you’ve come to realize that 2012 was the year of Taylor Kitsch. It hasn’t necessarily been a good year for him, but it has indeed been his year in movies. Between a disappointing turn in John Carter and a underwhelming Savages, he ran off to join the Navy and fight aliens in Battleship. This is quite possibly his best performance yet, considering his acting in this flick is Oscar-worthy compared to co-star Rihanna. You can check it out for yourself because Battleship hits DVD and Blu-ray this week. Based on the popular Hasbro board game, Battleship chronicles the story of an alien invasion attacking Naval warships near Pearl Harbor. You remember the aliens from the board game, don’t you? If not, have a few drinks while you watch the film, and it will soon all be clear. (Hint: It won’t be clear at all.)

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This could have been the year that Taylor Kitsch became one of the biggest working actors on the planet. He already had a cult following for playing the dreamboat, bad boy role on TV’s Friday Night Lights coming into 2012, and that was before two of the biggest studios in Hollywood put him in the position to star in their big budget, tentpole summer releases. By starring in Battleship and John Carter, Kitsch experienced a few months of marketing blitz and media saturation that have only been matched by rare names like Will Smith and Tom Cruise. If his movies had become hits, he would be seen as one of the hottest faces in the movie industry today. But his movies weren’t hits. Kitsch got back-to-back shots at breaking into the world of blockbuster superstardom, and he experienced back-to-back failures. If anything, studios must be looking at the kid like he’s box office poison. So, what should the young actor do now that his career is visibly faltering? Taking a step back from the blockbusters and making something less hyped and less ambitious seems about right. How about an English language remake of a well-liked Québécois dramedy?

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Savages 2012

It’s tough trying to figure which side of Oliver Stone’s career Savages would fall under. Part of the director’s output is fueled by an angry that’s always unafraid to show people at their ugliest. Then there’s another side, which we’ve seen these past few years, that’s much softer. While Stone’s recent work has been far from the image of a cuddly teddy bear — with the exception of familial scenes peppered throughout Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – he’s become more empathetic towards his characters and less willing to poke fun at them, which was highlighted best by 2008′s W. Where does Savages fit between those two distinct outlooks? Somewhere comfortably in the middle. Based on Don Winslow‘s novel of the same name, Savages tells the bloody, dramatic, and comical tale of a three-way relationship taking a turn for the worst. The thinker, Ben (Aaron Johnson), and the doer, Chon (Taylor Kitsch), run a business together, providing some of the best weed in California. With business and life going too well, others attempt to cash in on their success, namely Elena, a major drug kingpin who features both genuine charm and ferocity, played by Salma Hayek. When Ben and Chon decline her business proposal, Elena hits them closest to home: their shared lover, O (Blake Lively). To get her back, Ben and Chon wage a small-scale war, attacking both the business and family side of Elena’s life.

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Boiling Point

With what is being called a massive failure at the box office, pulling in just $25 million domestic dollars (or 12% of its budget), Peter Berg‘s Battleship is sinking, but not before firing a warning shot across the bow of stupid ideas. And by a “warning shot across the bow” I mean a giant, moronic cruise missile. Battleship wasn’t destined for failure – after all, almost any idea can be made good. If you ignored the title, the idea of a few naval vessels fighting off aliens sounds pretty cool and not altogether stupid. However, you slap the Hasbro logo in-front of the credits and include a sequence where a missile destroyer blindly fires into the ocean while a captain shouts out “J-11″ and the stupidity quotient rises exponentially.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we’re always a hit…with elderly mimes and people whose favorite band is The Jerky Boys. This is the Internet’s best place to wait around for articles on the sites you like to load – sort of a cyberspace truckstop. And like a truckstop, we celebrate things that most people cast off as “trivial” or “base” or “seriously detrimental to one’s memory and critical thinking skills.” We are too! Wait, what was I saying? Anyway, this week we’ve had the very rare privilege of stumbling across a little gem of a rotten turd that will be playing a limited engagement of roughly ten shows a day in every single theater across the country. The arthouse maestro Peter Berg has taken the board game Battleship, that wonderful tool for teaching children all the necessary tenets of blind, desperate warfare, and extrapolated its meager mechanics into a two-hour cinematic testament to the struggle between Hollywood and your brain. Incomprehensibly bad as Battleship may be (read: totally is), I couldn’t help but wonder if the “plot” on the screen wasn’t merely a smoke screen for something that, like the invading alien ships, lurked just below the surface. So I gathered all the best minds in the Junkfood Cinema war room, which may or may not be my pet name for the corner booth at my local TGI Friday’s, and formulated some theories on just what the hell was going on here. My hope was to come up with a […]

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When a “loose” adaptation of Hasbro’s iconic board game Battleship was announced, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what type of film was in the making: big, loud, manic summer fun. The man to deliver on that promise was none other than Peter Berg, a director whose filmography ranges from Friday Night Lights to Hancock. After over three years of working on the film, Berg didn’t make a film that passes itself off as anything it’s not; he’s made Battleship. Battleship features the expected markings of all commercial tentpole films, something Berg did not want to shy away from. As the anti-film school director put it, he wanted to make a global event film, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When your film’s based on a popular board game, how could you? Berg, along with his potential blockbuster, could not be more self-aware. Here is what Battleship director Peter Berg had to say about letting life inform storytelling, his organic and actor-friendly approach to filmmaking, and how to keep your sanity while crafting a $200m event film:

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On December 7, 1941, the naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked by 353 Japanese planes. It was a day that lives in infamy, but now director Peter Berg has reconciled the Americans and Japanese (finally!) in the dumbest, broadest, most pointlessly explosive way possible with Battleship. This obnoxious chore of a movie suffers from two cardinal sins. One, it’s probably the smallest-feeling big movie of the past three decades. Two, it steals so much from other, better movies that there’s no doubt Universal‘s legal team spent time considering possible action. Everything from the script to the CGI are low quality, making this $200m tentpole feel like it was made for fifteen bucks and a pack of gum.

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If Castaway was not romantic enough for you (and, really, how could it be? Tom Hanks never really loved that volleyball) and Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon is too been-there, done-that for your tastes, MGM and Temple Hill Productions just might have something to rattle your palm tree. The studio has optioned the rights to Tracey Garvis Graves’ “On the Island,” a desert island-set romance with a big twist. Instead of just tossing a pair of mismatched lovers into the sea, Garvis Graves has upped her characters’ differences by age (older woman, younger man) and also thrown in a medical complication (one of them is recovering from cancer) to make the drama even more, well, dramatic.

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Oliver Stone’s adaptation of the oppressively hip Don Winslow novel Savages’ has been making a lot of waves on FSR today. First we showed you the teaser for the film, something like the trailer for the trailer (a new marketing trend that could get hilariously annoying if it becomes more pervasive), and now we’ve got the the full length trailer for the film; which adds some actual plot description to the loud noises and sexy imagery of the teaser.

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Unfortunately for this year’s WonderCon, I was only able to spend one day at the convention. When busting your cherry, convention or otherwise, it is often best to go nice and slow. While I’d have loved to get a few more hours at the convention, which moved to Anaheim, California, this year, I did more than just get my toes wet. Because it was raining. I spent the better, longer part of Saturday sitting in the massive ballroom at the Anaheim Convention Center, just down the street from Disneyland, staring up at a gigantic screen projecting clear images of actors, actresses, writers, and directors which, to my naked eye, were tiny specks about a quarter of a mile away. The panels I managed to get into included Lockout, Battleship, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Resident Evil: Retribution, so let’s all take a look together at the joyous cinematic wonders they had to show!

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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 heads to the desert to hide in a cave, hoping against hope that some mystical bald alien will beam him to Mars so he can make a pass at the ridiculously gorgeous Lynn Collins in a brass bikini. Unfortunately, no one came to his rescue, so he snuck into an abandoned house in upstate New York to terrorize some people. Again, no one came. That left Kevin to skip his movies this week so he could go to the library and find a book that would allow him to curse Eddie Murphy into not speaking. He hasn’t been heard from since.

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John Carter

This weekend presents you with the opportunity to do many things. If you’re in the Central Texas area, you’re probably hitting up SXSW 2012 alongside the intrepid staff at Film School Rejects and many other fine publications. But if you’re note falling down drunk on the streets of Austin, trying to punch-kick everyone following a screening of The Raid, you may want to escape to another wild wonderland: Mars. Beginning today, Disney is releasing John Carter into theaters. Based on the century-old book “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Carter follows a Civil War veteran who is transported magically to Earth’s red neighbor, where unknowable danger, a classic hero journey and the love of a gorgeous, tough princess await him. Also, he encounters 9-foot tall, four-armed green aliens who sound like Willem Dafoe, vengeful war mongers played by the likes of Dominic West and a CGI-enhanced landscape created by a team led by Pixar alum Andrew Stanton. All-in-all, it’s quite a ride. And to give you an idea of why you should just ignore the poor early buzz and simply enjoy the ride, we’ve compile a list of 7 Very Good Reasons to See John Carter This Weekend. Join us on this magical journey…

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John Carter Mondo Poster

John Carter arrives in theaters today consumed by terrible buzz and reduced expectations, with prognosticators of all stripes predicting a monumental flop for Disney. It’s a 3D, $250m affair that’s tracking worse than the second weekend of The Lorax, they say, and it’s a ridiculously expensive gamble for a first-time live-action director (Andrew Stanton, of Finding Nemo and WALL-E fame). In the press, the narrative has been written: You don’t want to see this movie. And that’s a shame, because it’s actually quite good. It’s sad that we’ve reached a cultural place where a bold, imaginative science-fiction effort like this, a film with beautiful imagery and a well-founded allegiance to gloriously pulpy source material, is so easily dismissed. Not to get all Armond White here, but the contemptible gleeful scorn being heaped on the film by Nikki Finke and others just reemphasizes how little so many people who write about movies actually care about movies. If they gave a damn about, you know, art, they’d have to acknowledge that at the very least this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s century-old novel “A Princess of Mars” harkens back to the grand mid-century Disney tradition of films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which took great pleasure in immersive production design. You could take or leave the plot, though I’d mostly take it, but there’s no disputing the fact that Stanton has rendered Mars as a complete universe unto itself, full of zooming spaceships and cluttered, towering cities, a weird and altogether […]

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Many things have been said about Disney’s John Carter. From bloggers who say it’s “full of action” to a marketing department at a major studio that’s having trouble explaining what, exactly, the hell John Carter is to the general public. Nerds know. Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ century-old story Princess of Mars know. Those of us who have seen it know that there’s plenty within it to love. So what else can be done to give you a reason to see it when it hits theaters this Friday, March 9? How about a 10-minute clip featuring the back story of our title character (played by Taylor Kitsch), an appearance by Bryan Cranston and almost some ‘of Mars’ kind of action. It’s not the high-flying, impressively scaled scenes from the movie, but this 10-minute clip should give you a good idea of what’s going on. If you’re still needing more, well, we’ve got more coming.

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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