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DAILY BULLETIN: Early reviews for Django Unchained, details for Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, and the trailer for Pacific Rim

Critics are (mostly) liking Django Unchained
django-unchained-posterThe rest of us won’t be able to see Quentin Tarantino’s slavery-revenge-western Django Unchained for awhile yet, but critics are already weighing in with their opinions. As expected, the word is largely positive.

Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny summed it up thusly:

Django Unchained is Blazing Saddles with a body count, a positively incendiary entertainment about America’s greatest shame, the personal and social toll of slavery…”

Over at Badass Digest, Devin Faraci opened his review this way:

“Fist-pumpingly exciting and blood-boilingly provocative, Django Unchained is very much a spiritual sequel to Inglourious Basterds.”

If there’s any disagreement among critics, it boils down to how long the film is. Some, like Allison Willmore, feel it overstays its welcome. In her review for Movieline, she noted:

“There’s a good movie inside Django Unchained, maybe even a great one, but it hasn’t been carved out of the lopsided excess.”

A number of other critics voiced similar concerns with the film, even though they all came away with mostly kind words. Personally, I’m not too worried. A lot of people felt Inglourious Basterds dragged at times (Willmore noted it was her least favourite film in Tarantino’s filmography, alongside Django Unchained). I loved Inglourious Basterds. Where others felt it could’ve used trimming, I was in dialogue heaven. I could’ve listened to those characters blab back and forth for hours.

That said, it’s worth noting that this is Tarantino’s first film without his longtime editor Sally Menke at his side. Menke died in 2010 at just 56 years of age. For Django, Fred Raskin had the unenviable task of stepping into her shoes. He’s worked with Tarantino previously as an assistant editor on both Kill Bill films. He’s also got a background in action (Raskin edited Fast Five, Fast & Furious, and The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift).

There’s definitely a balancing act to editing any film. Take out too much, and you lose important details (see the theatrical cut of Kingdom Of Heaven). Leave too much unnecessary stuff in, and you bore the audience to tears (see Pearl Harbor). Hopefully Raskin is as good at finding that balance as Menke was.

Update on Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence
I’ve been following news about Wally Pfister’s Transcendence with interest. He’s best known as Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer (the two have been partners since 2000’s Memento), but now he’s getting set to take the helm on a film of his own. It’s not slated to come out until sometime in 2014, but details have been coming out in bits and pieces. Johnny Depp will star, and now The Wrap has obtained a script summary:

“The summary obtained by TheWrap has many details about the futuristic story. In it, three scientists — Max and the husband and wife team, Will and Evelyn — have been developing a programming code for the world’s first fully self-aware computer. Depp will play one of the lead scientists, Will. The other two roles have not yet been cast. […]

According to the summary, a group of anti-technology terrorists assassinate Will, Evelyn uploads his brain into a prototype supercomputer. Although she at first finds the experiment seems to have gone wrong, before too long Evelyn finds Will responding in computer form. She goes on to connect Will to the Internet so he can help make further scientific breakthroughs. Will asks Evelyn to connect a microphone and a camera up to the computer so he can see and speak to her as well.

Will creates a backup of himself to every computer in the world, and furthers his work through accessing online indexes. (Kosove told TheWrap this plot point is no longer in the script.) When the anti-technology organization finds out, they try to steal the supercomputer and destroy it, but Will no longer needs the computer to survive.”

Sounds pretty nutty, right? If that weren’t enough to grab your interest, the shortlist of actresses who might play the female lead is strong. Deadline reports Rooney Mara, Emily Blunt, and Rebecca Hall are the front-runners. Any of the three would be great, I think, although I have to say I’m a huge Mara fan. She did great work with David Fincher on The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Any opportunity to see her onscreen again makes me happy. I’m looking forward to this one.

First trailer for Pacific Rim released
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s roster of trailers, here comes another. I wouldn’t ordinarily devote a separate news item to a single trailer, but the hype around Pacific Rim had me pretty excited to see something, anything, about the movie. So at long last, here’s the trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s next film:

If I had to sum this up in three words, they would be “this looks dope”. So many cool things to point out here. I love that shot of the giant alien destroying the bridge. I love hearing Idris Elba deliver a rousing speech (and in his real accent for once! I’m so used to hearing him put on the American accent I was momentarily confused). Sure it’s trope-y as hell, but even out of context I dug it. I love that the computer has the GLaDOS  voice for some reason.

Mostly, I’m just excited that a Guillermo del Toro film looks like it’ll finally make it to the finish line again. It’s been awhile since his last (2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army), and it seems like a lot of his projects end up going nowhere or stalling for long periods of time.

There are a few reservations for me. It’s in 3D, so ew. The screenwriter, Travis Beacham, has a pretty mixed record. His last film was the Clash Of The Titans remake, which doesn’t inspire confidence. But even so, it’s giant robots battling against huge aliens, not Shakespeare. The film boasts a solid supporting cast, including Charlie Hunnam, Clifton Collins, Jr., and Charlie Day. If their performances work as well with the inherent silliness of the story as Elba’s does, I foresee a lot of fun.

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