the Mechanic

We can complain all we want, rationalize, or hope for the best, but the easiest way to stop the remake assault that studios have foisted upon audiences is not to pay for it. The studio system still hasn’t found a silver bullet for killing the monster of low attendance, and 2011 might have been the worst wake-up call they could get. Movie attendance fell by 4.4% from 2010, down to the lowest level since 1995. The problematic silver lining is that foreign sales are higher, which could result in even more broadly-appealing (and “appealing” is used generously here) movies that are generic and treat dialogue like a second-class citizen. On the losing side of the field (the one where producers aren’t having Gatorade dumped on them), are the remakes of 2011. Remakes are thought to be attractive because they come with built-in name recognition for audiences, and development has already been partially done for a story that’s already proven itself as a money-maker. For fans, they’re also infuriating because they signal both a lack of creativity coming out of an industry built on it and the potential (likely) bastardization of something we hold dear (and, yes, of course the original is still out there; it’s the principle of the thing). So it may come as pleasant news for some to see that remakes, regardless of their quality of genre, failed spectacularly at the box office this year. It’s the kind of thing that may just deter producers from trying to […]

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Boiling Point

Pointing out the flaws in Hollywood is easy – there are hundreds of them. Unfortunately for the entertainment system, I’m a fan of taking the low road and always pointing those flaws out. After all, it’s not easy to be mad every week without taking a few cheap shots. A child of the 80s, I’m a big fan of action. Guns, knives, swords, bullets, punches, jump kicks, Van Damme, you name it, I dig it. Hell, I’ll watch the shitty UFC/WWE vehicle movies that go straight to DVD just to see somewhere get punched in the eye socket. You’d think action movies would be easy to make and send to theaters. Toss in some fireballs, some blood, some roundhouse kicks – easy, right? Apparently not. I mean, sure, we get good action films every now and then, maybe even once a month – but how many more just fall flat? What’s wrong with Hollywood and action movies when one of the best, if not the best, action movies so far is the animated Kung Fu Panda 2?

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Remakes are often thought of as automatically inferior to the original, but if you’re willing to give them a chance they’re often as good if not better than their cinematic predecessors. Well, maybe “often” is a bit of an exaggeration… but it does happen. Take Simon West’s remake of the Charles Bronson classic, The Mechanic. I say “classic” but while Michael Winner’s 1972 film is solidly entertaining and features a killer ending it isn’t truly great cinema. It’s the actors (Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent) and the multiple twists and turns that make it fun, and West knows it. His remake sticks close to the formula and brings in the always fantastic (and angry) Ben Foster for support as well as some solid gunplay and action scenes, and the result is an exciting and fast-moving action thriller that would have made Charles Buchinsky proud. The Mechanic hit shelves this week, and we’ve got a free DVD for one lucky winner. How can you win? Simple… tell us in the comment section below which Bronson movie you’d like to see remade next and who you think should take on his role. It can be a film from anywhere in his career, in a role big or small, and special consideration will be given if you happen to pick my own personal favorite Bronson flick…

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This Week in Blu-ray

After a few weeks of hellish uncertainty, This Week in Blu-ray is back to being on time. That is, if you count being available at some point on Tuesday as being “on time.” Which I do, for the record. Moving on, the most important thing to remember is that we’re back with some advice in one of the most diverse weeks of Blu-ray releasing so far in 2011. We’ve got a new one from Criterion, a few classics, action films for people who wish they were Jason Statham, horror films, an animated superhero epic, and a movie starring Kat Dennings. There’s something for everyone this week. Pale Flower (Criterion) I must differ to Roger Ebert for a moment, as he says it far better than I ever could: Pale Flower is “one of the most haunting noirs I’ve seen, and something more; in 1964 it was an important work in an emerging Japanese New Wave of independent filmmakers, an exercise in existential cool. It involves a plot, but it is all about attitude.” What Masahiro Shinoda created in 1964 is an enduring and indelible excursion into Japan’s underworld. It’s also a relentlessly cool film for its time. Criterion, to their credit, has gone to great lengths to preserve it and restore it for HD Blu-ray. They’ve included an uncompressed monaural audio track, brand new video interviews with the director and a new (and allegedly improved) English translation. As this is my first experience with Pale Flower, I can’t say how […]

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This Week in DVD

One of the best things about writing for a movie website like Film School Rejects is access to the “hookers and blow” combo deals at film festivals. That probably counts as two best things, but the takeaway to remember here is that there are the occasional perks to the gig. The actual best thing though (aside from meeting some great and fun fellow movie lovers) is exposure to films I may never have seen otherwise. One such example is this week’s Pick, an American indie that I only caught via screener when it hit theaters… in the UK. Other releases this week include a re-release of Dario Argento’s fantastic Deep Red, a vengeful Djimon Hounsou in Elephant White, the gorgeous Minka Kelly in The Roommate, Jason Statham stretching as an assassin for hire in The Mechanic, Anthony Hopkins drinking Chianti with Satan in The Rite, and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Brotherhood A group of hopeful fraternity pledges find themselves in a real pickle when the initiation process results in several serious crimes and one pledge bleeding to death on the couch. This is a fantastic thriller that rarely takes a minute to breathe once the action and suspense starts. It’s also filled with strong performances including what deserved to be a star-making turn by Trevor Morgan. From my my full review… “[This] is a rare and unexpected success in that it takes a relatively well worn plot, jettisons […]

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Boiling Point

PG-13 gets a lot of flack from us mature audiences sometimes – and with good reason. Often we complain that movies that deserve an R (Live Free or Die Hard) get knocked down to a PG-13 rating and lose the edge that can make them great. Todd Brown over at TwitchFilm recently made the point that PG-13 killed the movies it was meant to save – that is, youth adventure films. While I’m all for any chance to poke PG-13 into the eye any chance I get (and jam a thumb into the MPAA some place where they’d rate it R for violence), I don’t really follow that PG-13 killed youth adventure movies. But don’t worry. It’s still a bit of bullshit for other reasons.

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The Reject Report

Good for Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, and all the other oddly named people involved in The Roommate. Not only did it come out #1 on this Super Bowl weekend, not only was it able to beat out the James Cameron-backed Sanctum, but it was the only film this weekend to even get into double digits. I’m not sure if that says a lot for The Roommate, the current slate of movies available for the masses, or the power of the Super Bowl draw away from the movie theaters. You can’t really put much of the blame for the weekend’s weak numbers. The past three years have had films open in the $20 or $30-million area. In 2009, Taken opened on Super Bowl weekend with $24.7 million, and that can’t even be considered counter-programming to the big game. Not like last year or 2007 when Dear John and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour opened to a $30.4 and $31.1 million, respectively. So the Super Bowl was a draw away from the movies.

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The Reject Report

A year ago last week, James Cameron’s groundbreaking Avatar beat out Titanic to be the highest domestic grossing film of all time. Cameron just happened to be the director on the monstrously successful Titanic, too. You all know this. What you might not have known is that Cameron is back, and this time, he’s going spelunking. Sanctum is sure to be Cameron’s next grand excursion into box office glory and could very well beat even Avatar’s record breaking numbers. What’s that? Cameron didn’t direct Sanctum? He just produced it? But the trailers…oh, never mind. Tank.

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The Reject Report

That wacky Anthony Hopkins sure knows how to turn ‘em in. With his broad hijinx and penchant for silly string gimmicks. The devil might have had something to do with it, too, as The Rite opened to number one this weekend. It’s opening wasn’t as big as you might expect, but it did a decent job. With a reported budget of $37 million, it should be fine with its mid-teen debut. That is unless you’re going by Kevin Smith math, in which case, the film is a serious dud. That’s a digression for another time, though. The Rite will do just fine, and Hopkins is sure to make many more stinkers films before his days in films have come to a close. His Hannibal days have long since passed, and you aren’t likely to see many more $100-million films from him beyond any franchise work.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Awards Season junkie and editor-in-chief of In Contention, Kris Tapley, joins us to shoot the bull on the Oscars. We’ll be roasting that bull on a spit and serving it for our live-blog next month. Could Natalie Portman lose her sure-thing Oscar? Why did Inception never have a chance at Best Picture? Who will win Best Costume Design?!? We ask the tough questions. And then answer them. Plus, we also review The Mechanic in case you’d rather see something blow up besides an actor giving a thank you speech. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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The Week That Was

With every week that passes, it feels like things just keep getting better and better around here. It’s becoming increasingly easy to put this very column together. New writers and very soon, we’ll have some new columns to tout. There’s a reason why the tagline “The Cure for the Common Movie Blog” now graces our homepage. Because if we’re anything around here, it’s uncommon. And you can find out why with the links that I’ve strategically placed after the jump. It’s all part of a little game I like to call The Week That Was.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. Explosions! Action! Bullets flying everywhere! Vein juice spilled on the ground! Motorbikes! People falling into pools because of motor bikes! Garages that don’t work on Saturday! Assassins! Proteges! Bronson! Today’s trailer from the 1972 film from Michael Winner isn’t hard to guess even if it’s going by a different name. Think you know what it is? Check the trailer out for yourself:

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Recently I spent an entire weekend watching Charles Bronson films in an effort to document his very best kills. I, and at various times a rotating cadre of my friends, watched 20 movies over three days during what was dubbed Bronsothon. Needless to say, I waded through some really awful movies that weekend, but there were more than a few pleasant surprises. Among them were Mr. Majestyk, Death Wish 2, and The Mechanic. The Mechanic blew my mind because as much as it was a familiar Bronson shoot-em-up, it was also a fairly cerebral character study. It also had an ending I did not at all expect; I loved it. When I heard the upcoming Jason Statham film was a remake, I had to see it.

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The Reject Report

Just slightly different than the rites of spring. There’s less sun, less green on the trees, and a whole lot more Tony Hopkins flipping out at the sight of holy water. It’s okay, though. He’s not alone. Jason Statham is doing his best Charles Bronson impression for the counter-programming. Okay. He’s not doing a Bronson impression at all, but he is starring in the remake of The Mechanic. He’s also brought along Ben Foster, which may only add to the strangeness of it all. Did I say “may”, because I meant “absolutely.” It’s what’s in store for the wide releases this weekend, so let’s get to that analysis.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of December combing through Wikileaks, calling Cleo, and building balsa wood trailers to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in January. You watch movies, so this guide’s for you.

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Jumping out of windows! Smashing cars into other cars! Slowly walking away from a devastating explosion while putting on designer sunglasses! Jason Statham steadfastly refuses to make a different film, which is bullet-based music to the ears of some fans. With the new trailer for the Mechanic remake, Statham proves he can do the thing everyone on the planet knows he can do – play a bad ass with a gun and a score to settle. Still, without the mustache, he’s only operating at 34% Bronson. It’s red-band, so enter in your date of birth and enjoy the ka-booms:

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Jason Statham in The Mechanic

If you had told me that I’d be writing up three trailers this evening and that the one starring Jason Statham would be the most appealing one I’d have called you mad. Mad! But then it happened anyway…

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benfosterinterview

The star of The Messenger talks about losing loved ones, his X3 disagreements with Brett Ratner, and the film he turned down five times.

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greenlantern-header

It’s the end of the week, and we’ve got a bunch of news stories in the bin here at Reject HQ that we’d like to share with you…

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