Friday, April 28, 2006

Hollywood gets ready to segue into summer

From USAtoday, "Hollywood loves to repeat itself. But studios would rather avoid a sequel to last summer's bummer, when the box office slipped 9%.
The fuse is lit and burning for the start of the major moviegoing season, Mission: Impossible III, arriving May 5. There must be a few heroes who can undermine The Slump II. Maybe Mission man Tom Cruise. Or the new Superman.

As for less super types, Jack Black squeezes into tights as a Mexican wrestler in Nacho Libre, and an egghead Tom Hanks is on the case in The Da Vinci Code.

USA TODAY's Scott Bowles, Anthony Breznican, Claudia Puig, Mike Snider and Susan Wloszczyna examines 13 potential heroes and their potential to fly or flop.

SUMMER MOVIES CALENDAR: Plan your box office entertainment

Tom Cruise in 'Mission: Impossible III,' May 5

The plot: Super spy Ethan Hunt falls in love and faces off with an evil arms dealer (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Why he may soar: When has Cruise not? At 42, Cruise has powered 14 films to blockbuster status in North America, more than any other star, and seems impervious to the publicity surrounding his love life and belief in Scientology. And with director J.J. Abrams and Oscar winner Hoffman in this latest chapter of Mission: Impossible, Cruise seems destined for his 15th hit.

Why he may crash: Spy fatigue. Abrams concedes that he's competing with television shows like 24 and his own Alias, along with the return of James Bond later this year, for audience attention. "It can be a bit much," he says. "I think we have to hark back to some elements of the classic TV show to be heard through all the noise."

Gitesh Pandya of boxofficeguru.com, though, believes the film is a lock. "It's the first big movie of summer, and people are going to be hungry for explosions and car chases."


Josh Lucas in 'Poseidon,' May 12

The plot: When a luxury cruise ship is flipped by a surging wave, a gambler (Lucas) reluctantly leads passengers to safety.

Why he may soar: Wolfgang knows action. With director Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm, Air Force One) and $140 million worth of special effects behind him, Lucas may be ready to take his place among heavyweight action stars.

Why he may crash: Real-world events. After Hurricane Katrina, are moviegoers ready to see drowning on the big screen? "I expect some people will walk out of the theater," Petersen says. "But I don't want to be timid. I want to treat the disaster genre realistically. That's what makes it effective and truly scary."

Pandya says the film will face tough competition, coming a week after Mission and a week before Da Vinci Code. "It's stuck in a real tough month," he says. "That may have the toughest time of the big films of May."


Tom Hanks in 'The Da Vinci Code,' May 19

The plot: A symbologist is drawn into a murder mystery that involves the origins of Christianity.

Why he may soar: Forty million readers and counting. The runaway hit by author Dan Brown assures that the film adaptation has all the name recognition it needs. And with Hanks in the role of daring symbologist Robert Langdon, the film could be the hit of summer.

Why he may crash: Religious outcry. Opus Dei, the Roman Catholic group portrayed as murderers in Da Vinci, has already asked distributor Sony Pictures to include a disclaimer that the thriller is entirely fictional. And more protests may be coming, says director Ron Howard: "It's a work of fiction, but every once in a while, good popular fiction stimulates debate. And that's OK."

Pandya says the movie "is pretty much a guaranteed hit. You've got a huge fan base and a whole other group that hasn't read the book but is really curious about it."


Hugh Jackman in 'X-Men: The Last Stand,' May 26

The plot: The X-men are offered a "cure" for their mutations.

Why he may soar: History. The X-Men series is one of the most successful comic book franchises in history, having raked in more than $370 million with two films. And Jackman promises this will be the last. "It's a little melancholy, saying goodbye, but it's right for the story."

Why he may crash: History. Comic book fans were more than a little peeved when Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour films) took the reins from Bryan Singer, who directed the first two films. "They don't really like change," Ratner says of the comic book and Internet communities. "But I think we'll be able to settle their concerns pretty quickly."

"This could be the biggest movie of the summer," Pandya says. "The first two movies have lived up to expectations, and a change of directors may make the last one fresh."


Jack Black in 'Nacho Libre,' June 16

The plot: A timid cook at a Mexican monastery raises money for orphans by secretly moonlighting as a luchador (that's a wrestler, for the ring-impaired).

Why he may soar: Mild, inept chef by day, wild masked marauder by night, Black is back where he belongs — far away from scene-stealing gorillas. Instead, he is in the capable comic hands of writer Mike White (School of Rock) and director-writer Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite).

"Nacho is a flawed human," says Hess of Black's character, who gets distracted from his mission by newfound fame. "But he eventually comes to his senses about what his priorities are." As for Black, he says, "He definitely brings a special sauce to whatever he does." His prowess at physical humor is front and center, but "he also shows a tender side I haven't seen before."

Why he may crash: The sport might be a tad too esoteric for much of the country. But the chance to observe Black go ape in a cape will be hard to resist. "This is the way we want to see him," says Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers. "This is the Jack we knew and love from School of Rock." Besides, he says, "We like seeing overweight people strip down."


Adam Sandler in 'Click,' June 23

The plot: Husband, father and architect Michael Newman has a hard time juggling the demands of job and home. That is, until he buys a magical universal remote — one that allows him to fast-forward, pause, skip and slow down his cluttered world.

Why he may soar: What sounds like a high-tech version of Bruce Almighty might be a perfect transitional vehicle for Sandler, who turns 40 this year and is expecting his first child — a girl — with wife Jackie any day. And with the womanly Kate Beckinsale (Underworld: Evolution) as his spouse, the film promises to be more femme friendly than last summer's jockstrap-o-rama The Longest Yard.

"He is an average-guy superhero in this," says director Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy). "A guy with everyday problems trying to make ends meet." He might think he has found a solution. But, as he gets older, "He realizes he is missing out on big chunks of his life."

Why he may crash: What's with all this domesticity? Happy Gilmore doesn't need no stinking wife and children to be funny. Not to worry, fans. Just wait till you see what Sandler does when a well-endowed jogger bounces by and his dog has to poop. "The pieces in the trailer suggest you may get older but you can stay immature forever," Rolling Stone's Travers says.


Brandon Routh in 'Superman Returns,' June 30

The plot: Long-absent Man of Steel returns to Earth — is Lois still waiting?

Why he may soar: It's the first Superman movie in nearly 20 years, since Christopher Reeve last wore the cape in 1987's ill-received Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Plus, Bryan Singer is directing after delivering two smash X-Men movies. Routh says Superman will have internal strife, much like recent screen incarnations of Spider-man and Batman: "It's about how he feels about his destiny to be the world's protector. Even though he's an alien, he wants to be part of the world. We see him through some challenging emotional situations."

Why he may crash: Routh, like Reeve was at first, is an unknown — but the character will be the draw. Peter Guber, host of AMC's Sunday Morning Shootout, says its budget and marketing costs — likely topping $300 million — mean it can't be just a hit, it has to be a super, monster mega-hit: "Whether Superman will fly at the altitude and velocity it needs to — which is big and far — I couldn't answer, but it will fly. And it will be a major identified flying object this summer."



Johnny Depp in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,' July 7

The plot: Captain Jack Sparrow, the ultimate scene-stealer from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, is back for more swaggering and staggering — this time taking on Davy Jones and his battalion of zombie soldiers.

Why he may soar: This role in the 2003 blockbuster put Depp over the top. He was nominated for an Oscar, rare for a comedic performance. "I suspect Johnny Depp's second stab at this character will be equally triumphant," says Howard A. Rodman of USC's School of Cinema-Television. "His sly, fey kohl-eyed Keith Richards imitation found a large audience, particularly among young women, who seemed thrilled to be offered an alternative to the pumped-up, fast and furious swaggerings of more traditionally 'masculine' hunks."

Why he may crash: Will Captain Jack's posturing get old?


Paul Giamatti in 'Lady in the Water,' July 21

The plot: A building super finds a nymph in the apartment pool.

Why he may soar: Timing. With director M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, The Sixth Sense) in his corner, Giamatti seems primed to be an A-list leading man after strong turns in Cinderella Man and Sideways.

Why he may crash: Sky-high expectations. After a middling reception for 2004's The Village, which did $114.2 million, Shyamalan faces pressure to deliver a suspenseful summer hit. "I don't want to be the 'twist ending' director," he says. "I'm not afraid to tell a straight fairy tale. You can't make movies based on what people expect you to do."

Pandya says the film may be challenged by a lack of high-profile stars, "but the real draw of this is Shyamalan. The Village faded fast, but he's still a bankable director for scary films. And there aren't a lot of scary movies this summer."


Uma Thurman in 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend,' July 21

The plot: Superheroine gets super-mad when dumped by a beau.

Why she may soar: Remember Kill Bill? As a superhero using her powers to make ex Luke Wilson suffer, Thurman could attract both the comic book and the date crowd. "She has a terrible bad attitude and it's fun to play such an ill-tempered hero," says Thurman. "Take all of the most neurotic qualities of the most insecure girlfriend you ever had, and then give her excessive power, like the ability to turn a tantrum into an earthquake."

Why she may crash: Competition is tough this summer. "This is not a franchise picture," says Shootout's Guber. "It could do wonderful if it's outrageously funny and work in a sense of Scary Movie to spoof superhero stuff."


Will Ferrell in 'Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,' Aug. 4

The plot: All-American driver faces French foe.

Why he may soar: Audiences seem to prefer Ferrell as the main attraction, which he is in this racing comedy. And his race car driver Ricky Bobby could drive the fervent NASCAR audience into theaters. Ferrell has "made some terrific films that have appealed to a very broad audience, so it made a lot of sense for us," says Sarah Nettinga, an executive producer on the film and director of film, television and music entertainment for NASCAR.

Bobby, says Ferrell, "is this brash, cocky Southern driver who lives by one motto: 'If you ain't first, you are last.' ... He's a bit of a throwback."

The heroic arc for Bobby includes a downfall, says Ferrell, who co-wrote the screenplay with Adam McKay (Anchorman). "In the end, he figures out the right way to drive and the right way to live his life," Ferrell says. "So, he's a pretty good hero."

Why he may crash: Ferrell doesn't channel the archetypical hero's persona. And, most important, will NASCAR fans get the joke?


Nicolas Cage in 'World Trade Center,' Aug. 9

The plot: New York Port Authority cops are trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Why he may soar: This film will focus on one story of inspiration and triumph in a day of unparalleled horrors. Cage has proven himself a reliable action hero in National Treasure and Con Air, and he has shown depth in his Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas. "I don't know if I'm going to put the title of entertainment on World Trade Center," Cage says. "I do see it as storytelling that documents history."

Why he may crash: Though director Oliver Stone adds prestige, his conspiracy-theory reputation may unfairly alienate people from a movie that attempts not to take a political stand. Shootout's Guber says WTC's fate is tied to Universal's 9/11 movie United 93, which will forecast success or rejection: "This film is drafting behind that film."


Samuel L. Jackson in 'Snakes on a Plane,' Aug. 18

The plot: Hundreds of serpents are set loose on a flight from Honolulu to L.A. that's carrying a witness expected to testify against a Mob boss, and it's Jackson's FBI agent Nelville Flynn to the rescue.

Why he may soar: Snakes are fine and a plane is dandy, but without our man Sam in charge, this chunk of cinematic cheese would likely curdle upon impact. In other words, "If it were Paul Walker in Snakes on a Plane, no one is going," says Rolling Stone's Peter Travers. "You know Sam will have his usual spark and sense of humor."

Jackson says of his character, "He's a career FBI agent who has been through a divorce and is now married to his job. But he's not a by-the-book kind of guy. He believes danger is part of his life and relishes it."

Flynn also relishes digging around the cargo hold for possible weapons. "He shoots a spear gun when he comes under attack by seven different rattlesnakes," says director David R. Ellis.

Why he may crash: Internet hype in April can only elevate a B-movie thrill ride so high. "The snake effects have to be good," Travers says.

Still, Jackson understands what audiences want. "You have to see fangs sink into someone's flesh. A snake's head has to be cut off with blood shooting everywhere. It's the kind of movie that makes you want to scream, 'Don't go in there.' "

Lots of upcoming superhero films, most lame



From Thehollywoodreporter,

Marvel Studios outlines slew of superhero titles
First is Favreau-helmed 'Iron Man'

By Borys Kit

Marvel Studios has hired Jon Favreau to develop and direct the big-screen adaptation of "Iron Man" and has attracted an impressive roster of writers to help bring some of its high-profile characters such as Captain America and Thor to the big screen.

Favreau will direct a feature version of Marvel's armored hero and develop the script with the writing team of Arthur Marcum and Matt Holloway ("Convoy"). The project originally was set up at New Line with Nick Cassavetes directing.

In the comic, Iron Man's real identity is that of billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, who develops an armored suit that lets him fly and shoot "repulsor rays." The comic debuted in the 1960s, and Iron Man's origin involved Stark being a prisoner of the Viet Cong. The comic evolved into Stark fighting spies, both political and industrial, while also battling alcoholism.

Writer-director-actor Favreau appeared as "Foggy Nelson" in 2003's "Daredevil" movie, and as he grew as a director -- helming the effects-heavy family adventure movie "Zathura: A Space Adventure" -- he and Marvel chairman Avi Arad looked for projects to collaborate on. Favreau's sensibilities have been to eschew CGI in favor of an almost retro aesthetic, but "Iron Man" will see him changing his tune.

"I've always been very reticent to use CGI to the extent that it has been used by other filmmakers," Favreau said in an interview. "I think that now, through motion-capture and the integration of miniatures with CGI, like in 'King Kong,' I'm starting to be a lot more convinced by what the technology can do. But the idea of using CGI and relying solely on that to tell your story, those days are past. I think that integrating practical filmmaking and augmenting it with CGI is the key to making it an emotionally involved story."

"Iron Man" will be Favreau's next movie, and he hopes to go behind the camera early next year. Favreau is repped by CAA.

Among Marvel's other projects is a sequel to 2003's "Hulk," being penned by Zak Penn, whose credits include Marvel's "X2" and upcoming "X-Men: The Last Stand."

"Ant Man" is being adapted by "Shaun of the Dead" co-writer/director Edgar Wright. Wright will direct and co-write with scribe partner Joe Cornish. Edgar also will co-produce with his Big Talk Prods. partner Nira Park. Ant Man is really Dr. Hank Pym, a biochemist who discovers a rare group of subatomic particles from which he concocts a size-altering formula that he tests on himself.

"Captain America" is being adapted by David Self, who is no stranger to Marvel, having worked on adaptations of "Namor, the Sub-Mariner" for Universal, and "Deathlok" for Paramount. He also wrote "Road to Perdition," the Sam Mendes-Tom Hanks movie that was originally a graphic novel.

Captain America is a character created during World War II as a symbol of American strength and values who fought Nazis. After his popularity waned in the 1950s, he was brought back as a member of the superhero team the Avengers. Part of his origin included being frozen in suspended animation, thus having a "man out of time" foil to it. Self said it's an aspect Marvel will be keeping.

"He's a Norman Rockwell character who is faced with today's America and is forced to look at his own past, things in the '40s that weren't necessarily what they were cracked up to be, and also how today's country may be different than it looks," UTA-repped Self said.

"Nick Fury" is Marvel's hero who is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., (Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division), a spy agency. Andrew Marlow, whose credits include "Air Force One," "End of Days" and "Hollow Man," is writing.

"Thor" follows the adventures of the legendary Norse thunder deity and is being penned by Mark Protosevich ("Poseidon").

"In the comics, the stories that appealed to me most were the features called 'Tales of Asgard,' " CAA-repped Protosevich said. "They were very much based on the traditional Norse myths and how the relationship between being like Thor and Loki and Thor and Odin, and how these beings manifested themselves. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say the movie will take place in the world of myth and legend but will not betray some of the thematic elements of the comics that made them so appealing, like the idea of a god growing to truly understand man."

The writers and directors Marvel has brought on board are huge comic book fans -- Favreau read comics in high school and doodled, and according to Self, "Captain America was my favorite superhero as a little kid because my dad told me I could one day be Captain America" -- which is the No. 1 prerequisite, Marvel chairman Arad said.

"Unless you buy into the gestalt of what is Marvel and understand the characters and metaphors and treat them as living people, we are not interested," Arad said. "This is material that has withstood the test of history, and the director and writers have to feel a sense responsibility."

Marvel is moving ahead into discussions with talent and visual effects houses as it gears up for full-scale production. The first release is anticipated in 2008.

The movies are expected to be financed with Marvel's $525 million revolving film financing facility and distributed under Marvel's overall distribution arrangement with Paramount. The sequel to "Hulk," however, will be distributed by Universal, which distributed the original.

President and chief operating officer Michael Helfant will oversee the company's growth to accommodate this newly expanded production activity.

The projects will be shepherded and produced by Marvel president of production Kevin Feige and executive vp production Ari Arad.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lost 2nd season DVDs coming September 5

From TVblog, "Heck, the second season isn't even over yet and here we are with news about the DVD set. Buena Vista Entertainment has tentatively scheduled the second season set to be released on September 5.

Which means it will be timed perfectly for you to watch the last episode of the season over and over and over again in slow motion and freeze frame, trying to figure out the season-ending cliffhanger in time for the third season opener that will happen in late September."

It won't be as good as the original


From Darkhorizons, "French filmmaker Eric Valette ("Malefique") is set to direct the English-language remake of Japanese supernatural horror hit "Chakushin ari" ("One Missed Call") for Warner Bros. Pictures reports Variety.

Screenplay was adapted from the original Japanese film by Andrew Klavan, and the story revolves around a college student whose friends begin receiving cell phone messages from the future in which they hear themselves being murdered. When she receives her own death message, the coed has three days to change her fate.

Lensing is set to begin this summer. In Japan, "One Missed Call" has become a lucrative franchise, with a third installment now in production."

Spring brings a thaw in ticket sales

By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — What slump?
With nearly a third of the year behind it, Hollywood is selling movie tickets at a brisk pace, a full $100 million ahead of last year. But the surge might have less to do with the quality of this year's films than the sheer number of them.

Through last weekend, 2006 ticket sales are at $2.5 billion, a healthy 4% ahead of last year's number during the same period, according to Nielsen EDI. Spring has been even healthier: 13% ahead of spring 2005.

The fast start gives executives hope that the industry will reverse a three-year attendance slide. Admissions have fallen about 14% since 2002, when the number of tickets sold to North American theaters reached a decades-high 1.63 billion.

"It's nice to have some good news after all the bad," says Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal Pictures, which scored a hit this year with Inside Man. "Maybe things will be a little less unpredictable this year."

Still, some studio execs are surprised 2006 is so quick out of the gate.

Only one movie this year, Ice Age: The Meltdown, has taken in more than $100 million. At this time last year, Hitch, The Pacifier and Robots had hit the blockbuster mark.

"It is a bit shocking no movie had done it," says Chris Aronson, a senior vice president at 20th Century Fox, which released Meltdown. "Still, the weekends have been pretty strong. I think we're getting a better idea of delivering what audiences want."

But Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo says the reversal stems more from studios flooding the market. Through the first 16 weekends of the year, there have been 50 wide-release films, Gray says. Through the same period last year, 39 movies were released on at least 600 screens.

And with the average big-studio film taking in $38 million at the box office, 11 extra movies "is a big chunk of change," Gray says.

And there's little proof that movies are getting better, says Senh Duong, founder of movie survey site rottentomatoes.com. His site found that the average movie this year received a positive review from 56% of the nation's critics. That is the same score as movies released last year, and 3% lower than movies released in 2004.

"Quality-wise, there doesn't seem to be much difference," he says.

Hulk fight Abomination

From Iwatchstuff, "Speaking on the future of Marvel Studios, chief executive Avi Arad revealed that the villain for the sequel to The Hulk will be the big, green, Yugoslavian counterpart to the transforming hero, the Abomination.

"Our Hulk," Arad says, "will be a diet Hulk. Lighter. Focusing on the love story, Hulk as hero, and his battle with the villain." For that villain, Arad has chosen one of his favorite baddies: Abomination, a former Yugoslav spy who has mutated into a 980-pound freak of terrifying strength and unpleasant demeanor.
Using another green, gamma-radiated behemoth as the villain to the Hulk seems like a good idea to me. The two nearly evenly balanced creatures should make for an intense on-screen encounter. It's the same concept that makes lesbian pornography--again, two perfectly matched specimens engaged with each other--so much better than other pornography genres: no penises."

Atlas Shrugged

From Darkhorizons, "After years of delays, Ayn Rand's most ambitious novel may finally be coming to the big screen reports Variety.

Lionsgate has picked up worldwide distribution rights to a film version of Rand's 1957 epic "Atlas Shrugged", considered in many polls to be the most influential book in history short of the Bible. The story revolves around the economic collapse of the U.S. sometime in the future and espouses her individualistic philosophy of objectivism.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are rumored to be circling the leading roles of Dagny Taggart and John Galt. The likes of Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway have previously been attached to the flick. The budget is expected to cost a little above $30 million with actors expected to take paycuts."

The Sci Fi Channel continues to bore me


I mean, do we really need a prequel to Battlestar Galactica?

From AICN, "SCI FI CHANNEL UNVEILS POWERHOUSE DEVELOPMENT SLATE

Unprecedented Commitment to Original Programming With Top Tier Creative Talent Including Jesse Alexander, Freddie Prinze Jr., Eric McCormack

NEW YORK SCI FI Channel's Mark Stern, EVP, Original Programming, announced today an aggressive slate of original scripted dramas, miniseries, alternative reality and late night series for the Channel. Already established as an industry leader with highly acclaimed and award-winning shows such as 'Battlestar Galactica,' SCI FI Channel's latest slate of high profile projects showcases top industry luminaries and offers imaginative, broad appeal entertainment.

Scripted Series

CAPRICA: From executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick ('Battlestar Galactica'), writer Remi Aubuchon ('24') and NBC Universal Television Studio, this new series is set over a half a century before the events that play out in 'Battlestar Galactica.' The people of the Twelve Colonies are at peace and living in a society not unlike our own, but where high-technology has changed the lives of virtually everyone for the better. But a startling breakthrough in robotics is about to occur, one that will bring to life the age-old dream of marrying artificial intelligence with a mechanical body to create the first living robot - a Cylon. Following the lives of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas (the family of William Adama, who will one day become the commander of the 'Battlestar Galactica') 'Caprica' weaves corporate intrigue, techno-action and sexual politics into television's first science fiction family saga.

SNAP: From 'Alias' and 'Lost' producer Jesse Alexander, 'Snap' is a one-hour Hitchcockian thriller about a Federal agent who uncovers a deep-seated and seemingly unstoppable conspiracy. The Internet has secretly become sentient, infiltrated every aspect of our lives, and is surreptitiously manipulating human beings towards some larger unknown agenda. Without ever revealing its full intentions, the Artificial Intelligence uses a disparate group of people to commit seemingly unrelated and petty crimes. But every person has been chosen for a reason, even if they don't know it. And every crime is not as innocent as it seems. When our Federal Agent tries to fight back, his life is put in danger. But how do you fight an enemy that can watch your every move? The only way to combat this ubiquitous foe is from within, going undercover as a "willing" participant in the AI's grand plan, and trying to stop the conspiracy before it reaches its terrifying conclusion.

PERSONS UNKNOWN: From Academy Award-winning writer Christopher McQuarrie ('The Usual Suspects'), who executive produces with Heather McQuarrie, 'Persons Unknown' is a surreal mind-game of a series centering on a group of strangers who awaken in a deserted town with no memory of how they arrived, only to realize that there is no escape. Watched by omnipresent security cameras, their every attempt at leaving the town's borders is thwarted by mysterious forces. The only source of information is fed randomly through remotely controlled televisions, and as mistrust begins to breed, every alliance will be tested, especially when new guests begin to arrive. 'Persons Unknown' is from Fox Television Studios.

THE BISHOP: From executive producers and writers Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Conrad Jackson, this one-hour drama revolves around a young slacker whose charmed life is disrupted when he discovers that he has a supernatural gift. Initially rejecting the responsibility that comes with his newfound power, he soon realizes that the mystery surrounding his gift is rooted in his lineage, and in the father he never knew. As he goes on a quest to uncover his secret past, he discovers some shocking truths about himself. 'The Bishop' is from Brillstein-Grey Television.

BLINK: From executive producers Eric McCormack ('Will & Grace') and Michael Forman, and writer Irving Belateche, this thought-provoking series asks the question: what would happen if you could freeze that moment in time when something you do or a decision you make changes your life forever? A group of Afterlife investigators try to help those about to make the wrong choice, in the blink of an eye before destiny is sealed forever.

Miniseries

CHARIOTS OF THE GODS: A six-hour miniseries based on the worldwide best-selling novel by Erich von Daniken, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' meets 'The Da Vinci Code' in this startling tale of extraterrestrial infiltration of human evolution. When a soldier returns from his tour of duty, he brings with him an artifact that holds the key to uncovering one of the greatest secrets in the human existence - aliens have been interfering with human genetics since ancient times, and Earth has become a pawn in a covert war between two alien factions. Suddenly, his seemingly harmless souvenir makes him the target of forces he cannot comprehend. As he struggles to accept these cataclysmic truths, he discovers that he alone may hold the key to securing Earth's future. 'Chariots of the Gods' will be executive produced by Irwin Winkler ('Rocky Balboa,' 'De-Lovely'), David Winkler and Rob Cowan, and will be written by John Whelpley ('Star Trek: The Next Generation').

Reality

DESTINATION TRUTH: From Neil and Michael Mandt, 'Destination Truth' takes us on one man's search for the truth in a reality show that investigates stories of the unexplained across the globe. The show, hosted by Josh Gates, is a credible investigation of these stories with a first-person style that often alternates between moments of dramatic tension and humor. Every week, Josh visits a different destination around the world that is home to notorious supernatural and mysterious stories, such as the Fire Worm of Mongolia or the Chupacabra of Chile. He attempts to get to the truth by talking to witnesses and experts while immersing himself in situations that, while bizarre, are real and relatable.

Late Night

GROUND CONTROL: From Carson Daly Productions, this half-hour late night strip focuses on a wide-range of human interest and news topics relating to science fiction and the world of the supernatural, the paranormal, and the unexplained. With a fast-paced news/talk format including spirited debates and celebrity/expert guests, this will be a hallmark show for the network - a homebase for the expanding sci-fi genre. Fresh, innovative, and even irreverent, 'Ground Control' will be the kind of program that offers something for everyone.

UNTITLED MINISTRY OF UNKNOWN SCIENCE SKETCH COMEDY SERIES: A half-hour, hybrid sketch comedy, 'Ministry of Unknown Science' uses the classic "PBS" science news magazine show format as a launching point into mockumentary segments, sketches, commercial parodies, field tests, interviews and other stream-of-consciousness insanity. The content of the show seems remotely real, but is, of course, totally unreal and always hilarious. Features "The Ministry of Unknown Science" sketch comics Jason Berlin, Tim Walker, Rico Gagliano and Eric Truheart.

SCI FI Channel is a television network where "what if" is what's on. SCI FI fuels the imagination of viewers with original series and events, blockbuster movies and classic science fiction and fantasy programming, as well as a dynamic Web site (www.scifi.com ) and magazine. Launched in 1992, and currently in 85 million homes, SCI FI Channel is a network of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good Trek news from Abrams

From IWatchStuff: "After it was announced that Mission: Impossible 3 director J.J. Abrams would breathe new life into the Star Trek franchise by taking over the 11th film, rumors flew that the picture would tell the story of Kirk and Spock's early years. Speaking with Empire, however, Abrams now says the rumors are unfounded:

'The whole thing was reported entirely without our cooperation. People learned that I was producing a Star Trek film, that I had an option to direct it, they hear rumours of what the thing was going to be and ran with a story that is not entirely accurate.'

So if you heard a crash this morning, don't worry. It was just a nerd's dreams shattering."

Well, not these nerds.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Uwe Boll continues to make bad movies


From Moviesonline, When will someone stop the madness! The infamous Uwe Boll is currently prepping his next "project". "FAR CRY" is based on the 2004 video game. The plot follows a retired Special Forces Officer, Jack Carver who is now a gun for hire. A photographer contracts Jack to escort him to a group of remote islands. After arriving on the island the photographer disappears and Jack's boat is attacked and destroyed.

Jack must now find who attacked him and his missing employer. Rumor is this production will shoot in early 2007. Cast attached to the project is Michael Pare.

Star Wars gets the shaft again


From Darkhorizons, "Comedies "Wedding Crashers" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" took in five nominations each for the 2006 MTV Movie Awards, easily leading the pack. Viewers can vote for winners before May 19th at Movieawards.mtv.com. The ceremony will be taped June 3rd at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City and airs June 8th. Here's the full nominations list:

MOVIE
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Universal Pictures)
Batman Begins (Warner Bros. Pictures)
King Kong (Universal Pictures)
Sin City (Dimension Films)
Wedding Crashers (New Line Cinema)

PERFORMANCE
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk The Line (20th Century Fox)
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features)
Rachel McAdams - Red Eye (DreamWorks)
Steve Carell - The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Universal Pictures)
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow (Paramount Classics)
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line (20th Century Fox)

COMEDIC PERFORMANCE
Owen Wilson - Wedding Crashers (New Line Cinema)
Adam Sandler - The Longest Yard (Paramount Pictures)
Steve Carell - The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Universal Pictures)
Tyler Perry - Madea's Family Reunion (Lionsgate Films)
Vince Vaughn - Wedding Crashers (New Line Cinema)

BEST ON-SCREEN TEAM
Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen & Romany Malco - The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Universal Pictures)
Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott & Jessica Simpson - The Dukes of Hazzard (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans & Michael Chiklis - Fantastic Four (20th Century Fox)
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson - Wedding Crashers (New Line Cinema)

BEST VILLAIN
Cillian Murphy - Batman Begins (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Hayden Christensen - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox)
Ralph Fiennes - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Tilda Swinton - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Disney Pictures)
Tobin Bell - Saw II (Lionsgate Films)

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Andre "3000" Benjamin - Four Brothers (Paramount Pictures)
Isla Fisher - Wedding Crashers (New Line Cinema)
Nelly - The Longest Yard (Paramount Pictures)
Jennifer Carpenter - The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Screen Gems)
Romany Malco - The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Universal Pictures)
Taraji P. Henson - Hustle & Flow (Paramount Classics)

BEST HERO
Christian Bale - Batman Begins (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Jessica Alba - Fantastic Four (20th Century Fox)
Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Kate Beckinsale - Underworld: Evolution (Screen Gems)
Ewan McGregor - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox)

SEXIEST PERFORMANCE
Beyonce Knowles - The Pink Panther (Sony Pictures)
Jessica Alba - Sin City (Dimension Films)
Jessica Simpson - The Dukes of Hazzard (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ziyi Zhang - Memoirs of a Geisha (Sony Pictures)
Rob Schneider - Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (Sony Pictures)

BEST FIGHT
Kong vs. the planes - King Kong (Universal Pictures)
Stephen Chow vs. Axe Gang - Kung Fu Hustle (Sony Pictures Classics)
Angelina Jolie vs. Brad Pitt - Mr. & Mrs. Smith (20th Century Fox)
Ewan McGregor vs. Hayden Christensen - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (20th Century Fox)

BEST KISS
Jake Gyllenhaal & Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features)
Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow (Paramount Classics)
Anna Faris & Chris Marquette - Just Friends (New Line Cinema)
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt - Mr. & Mrs. Smith (20th Century Fox)
Rosario Dawson & Clive Owen - Sin City (Dimension Films)

BEST FRIGHTENED PERFORMANCE
Rachel Nichols - The Amityville Horror (MGM)
Jennifer Carpenter - The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Screen Gems)
Derek Richardson - Hostel (Lionsgate Films)
Paris Hilton - House of Wax (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Dakota Fanning - War of the Worlds (Paramount Pictures)

mtvU STUDENT FILMMAKER AWARD
Joshua Caldwell (Fordham U.) - A Beautiful Lie
Sean Mullin (Columbia U.) - Sadiq
Stephen Reedy (Diablo Valley College) - Undercut
Jarrett Slavin (U. of Michigan) - The Spiral Project
Landon Zakheim (Emerson College) - The Fabulous Felix McCabe"

Hoo Ha! to Ocean's 13


From AICN, "Just when you thought the cast couldn't get any bigger Steven Soderbergh adds in a heavy-hitter like Al Pacino in the next OCEAN'S flick. I caught a lot of shit in a previous OCEAN'S 13 article by saying I prefered OCEAN'S 12 to OCEAN'S 11. Don't get me wrong. I liked the heist better in the first flick, but the actors seemed to have found their groove by the time the second flick came about. The cast seemed to be having more fun the second time around and I guess that rubbed off on me as an audience member.
I'm hoping that Pacino is playing the bad guy in here. I could believe a group with the likes of Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Cheadle, etc could be royally fucked if someone like Pacino has them in his sights. All I know right now is his character's name is Willie Banks and he owns a big-time hotel and casino in Vegas. Badass addition no matter how they use him, I say."

I did it all for you guys


I've never been a fan of Julia Stiles. Her round head, flat face, and husky voice never did it for me. I'm somewhat disappointed that she's in the new Omen remake, but the trailer looks like fun. Check it out here.

The official site for the new Superman film is spiffy


Check it out here.

Somehow AVP 2 has been given the nod


From Aintitcoolnews, "I have to admit, I gave up on the ALIEN VS PREDATOR franchise about thirty minutes into the first film. I just don’t buy the ways they’ve compressed the two franchises into one. It doesn’t pay off in the ways you think it might when you hear the idea for the first time. Aliens. Versus Predators. That sounds impossibly awesome if done right. Admittedly, I’m not sure what specifically you’d do... I just know I didn’t dig the end result of what Paul W.S. Anderson did with it.
So why read the sequel? Because there are still many, many fans who want to know what’s going to happen next to these icons... these amazing monsters that seem to be so much better than the films they’re in. You’re curious, and you want to hope that maybe this one will be better. Maybe they will have learned from the experience of making and releasing the first film.
Or maybe not.
Shane Salerno, who wrote the first drafts of the first film, is back to take pole position on this film as well, and his draft sets some pretty big things in place that I have to assume aren’t going to be changing by the time it makes it to film. This is the draft dated 12.15.05 that I’ve got here on my desk.
The script starts exactly where the last film left off. The body of SCAR, the slain predator from AVP, lies in a place of honor onboard the Predator Starship. The body convulses. Alien chestburster pops out. And then in a matter of seconds, it grows to nine feet tall, and we see the Predalien. “Shiny, elongated alien head. A Predator fang-rimmed mouth. Alien jaws. Predator body. Alien tail.”
Okay. The Predalien goes on a rampage, kills a bunch of Predators in their cryostasis tubes, then faces down three Predators in a fight. During the fight, a hole is blown in the side of the ship, and the Predator Starship falls back into Earth’s atmosphere. The fight continues onboard the ship as it crashes. It hits the Earth deep in the woods in cloak mode, and everything onboard is killed.
Well... sort of. One Predator lives just long enough to send a distress signal, and we see that two face-huggers are missing. As the last living Predator sends his signal successfully, one last Alien appears from somewhere, and it kills the Predator, then steps outside, so that page two ends with the line:
”For the first time ever, an ALIEN FOOTPRINT forms on American soil.” And just like that, continuity dies forever.
Seems that those woods are located outside a small Texas town. And that small Texas town is populated by an incredibly pat cast of characters including Dallas Howard, a tough-guy ex-con who’s just been released from prison. Yes... that’s right... the tough guy has the same name as Ron Howard’s daughter. Ouch. There’s also Ricky Howard, his little brother who is a pizza delivery guy and the type of high school nerd that Fox is hoping will go see this film on opening night. Sheriff Morales used to be buddies with Dallas, but now he’s trying to be effective as a 33-year-old sheriff with a bunch of deputies who are too scared to go roust homeless people if they’re not in a group. You’ve also got Tim O’Brien, his seven-year-old daughter Molly, and his estranged wife Kelly, who is just returning home from a tour in Iraq. Lots of people just returning home in this one day considering how small the town is.
A father and son who are out hunting together stumble across the still-invisible Predator ship, and as they’re investigating it, they get attacked by the face-huggers. Their disappearance starts the plot in motion, but not until somewhere around page 26 or so, which means we’re treated to a lot of blather about these genuinely unengaging characters. Honestly... who cares? Do you think anyone who is buying a ticket for a film called ALIEN VS. PREDATOR 2 gives a flying fuck about the problems of a high school kid delivering pizza? Do we really need the ten-zillionth variation on a scene in which a bully picks on a kid because he has less money than the popular kids? Do you think this audience is looking for a tender family drama about a woman who went to war while her husband stayed behind with their daughter? I know you want to find a compelling human story to tell that then gives you a great springboard into the Aliens and the Predators and, you know, the versus, but trust me... this is not that compelling human story. Instead, it’s a chore, a cliché, and setting it in present-day Texas seems like a completely insane choice from the very start. Is it just that you figure it’s cheaper to do a shitty slasher-movie formula with monsters plugged in? Because at that point, you’re spitting in the faces of everyone who has ever loved either ALIEN or PREDATOR in any of their forms. The Alien films were never Earthbound, and that’s part of the appeal. Yes, PREDATOR was set on Earth, but it was set in a remote location, which makes sense. Dropping two monsters as destructive as this into the middle of a familiar modern setting robs them of a lot of their exotic nature.
And what passes as innovation here is just sad. As the father and son struggle in their cocoons, knowing full well they have face-huggers growing inside them...
”WE CREEP toward Buddy’s stomach. Until we are...
INSIDE STOMACH: (EXTREME CLOSE UP)
Like watching fuel go through an engine, the Alien moves through the six feet of Buddy’s large intestine. For the first time we see what an Alien does inside a human being.”
Really?
Because I’d like to see the Alien home planet. Or, for that matter, the Predator home planet. I’d like to see if the Aliens have any civilization of their own. I’d like to see what sort of social structure the Predators have. There are a million things about these two franchises that I’d like to see, and I can honestly say that “what an Alien does inside a human being” is not on that list.
And forgive me... I’ve really tried in the last few years not to go after a writer, because I respect how hard it is to turn out anything in the studio system, and I know how often you can have your hands tied by notes that make no sense, and I know that all the pressures of creating a piece of work are ten times worse when you’re dealing with something that is based on an existing property that has devoted fans. But Shane Salerno... please... you’ve got to try harder than this. Kelly (the Iraq mom) gives her daughter Molly a pair of night-vision goggles as a present when she gets home, leading to this exchange:
MOLLY: If any monsters try to get us tonight, I’ll be able to see them before they’re even on our street.
KELLY: There are no monsters, angel.
Oooooh, boy. Dude. Why don’t you just show the little girl watching ALIENS with her goggles? It’s no less subtle as a bit of foreshadowing. And naming a character “John McTiernan”? Don’t, man. Do me a favor and pretend it’s all real, and don’t make reality-breaking jokes like that.
The distress signal summons a single Predator to the Texas woods, and as the Sheriff organizes a search party for the missing father and son, they are stalked by the Predator, who sees the guns on their belts and marks them as fair game.
It’s not until around page 40 that the film officially becomes Alien versus Predator. Or more like Predator Hunting Alien. The Predator visits the crashed invisible ship. He sees the black box holograms, sees what happened onboard. Sees the heat signature of the Alien’s footprints leading out into the Texas woods. Realizes he’s got to go after it.
And to make the point, MR THOMAS (yes, like John and James, creators of Predator) writes “SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST” on the chalkboard. Seriously. The hard cut is to a classroom, and that’s what is written on the chalkboard. And just so we don’t miss it, MR THOMAS then delivers a monologue about survival of the fittest. And Darwin. And natural selection. And he goes on for a full page about what it means. And then when the Predator finds the Alien cocoons, where both the hunter and the son are dead, chests exploded, we actually still hear MR THOMAS (yes, like John and James, creators of Predator) in voice-over, still explaining the central simplistic theme of the film, some insane studio note gone horribly out of control:(
MR. THOMAS (V.O.): What cannot adapt, becomes extinct.
YEAH! GAME ON, MOTHERFUCKER!
Or, at least, I presume that’s what they want us to stand up and yell at this point, as the Predator knows that there are three Aliens loose at this point. Three he has to find and kill.
As of page 40, that’s the basic premise. Let’s ignore all the lousy human soap opera stuff that’s padded out those first 40 pages. We’re looking at a present-day rumble between a predator and three aliens. Is that what you want from the sequel? Are we really content with an excuse for a movie instead of something that actually advances what is a pretty rich cinematic mythology? Even though I have issues with ALIEN 3 and ALIEN RESURRECTION, I think they all have interesting implications for the franchise, and I think they all ultimately respect the basic concepts of what an ALIEN movie is. The promise of that franchise was always, in part, “What happens if they reach Earth?” Because it was clearly established in the films that these things had never been seen on Earth. That’s why they are so valuable. They’re brand-new and worth looking at. That’s what made that teaser trailer for ALIEN 3 so enticing. “On Earth... everyone will hear you scream.” We were finally going to see the impact of the introduction of this creature into our own ecosystem. It was going to be chaos... a nightmare... and that was a film I always hoped we’d see. Maybe even from someone like Scott or Cameron.
But this? A modern-day introduction of the Aliens into small town Texas? A four-way monster rumble that’s given a back seat to some fairly uninteresting human padding is hardly the film I think I want as a fan, and I’m willing to bet other fans feel the same way.
This film doesn’t seem to be connected to the first ALIEN VS PREDATOR except for the shot of the Predalien being born onboard the ship. Keep it. Just figure out a different place to crash the ship. Make it something where the introduction of these creatures genuinely threatens a way of life. THE THING always struck me as great because the stakes were so high. You needed your fellow men to survive, but suddenly, you couldn’t trust any of them. That sets some pretty serious stakes. Here, it’s sort of like a ‘50s monster movie in terms of how much time is devoted to rote character stuff. When Molly and Kelly turn back up, it’s for another earnest tearful conversation about monsters. *sigh* When Ricky faces down his bully and runs around with his girlfriend Jesse, it’s stuff you’ve seen in a thousand high school TV dramas and movies. And there’s a lot of it, with Aliens and the Predator all creeping around in the background. The Aliens keep reproducing, more face-huggers grabbing people, and by page 60, the first head-to-head has happened. Salerno even puts in the score so it’s easy to track. “Predator 1, Alien 0.”
Someone actually says the line, “If it bleeds, we can kill it,” which isn’t nearly as bad-assed as it was the first time we heard it in the original PREDATOR, but that might also be because this time it’s followed by, “We’ve got to get to a phone!”
Look, if this was just an original monster movie by Salerno, with monsters he created, given a compelling reason to go head to head in the midst of this human town... that would be better. Because Salerno writes some decent action scenes. If this was like a really rough-and-tumble TREMORS, which is sort of what it seems to be aiming at, that might be fun. But as an AVP film...
It takes until page 60, well over halfway into the film, before people even realize there’s something going on that’s out of the ordinary. Once they see the Alien and the Predator, they finally react to the situation, calling in the authorities. The National Guard.
That’s a good choice.
Everyone decides they need to go get supplies they can use to fight the Aliens and Predators, and they start to head towards the location of the next big set piece to end all set pieces. Yes. That’s right. It’s true. They all head over... to Super K-Mart.
And that’s a bad choice.
Again... of all the things I’d want from a film with this title, an extended battle sequence inside a product placement wet dream is not my idea of spectacular. That might just be me.
And maybe it’s the crass, heartless nature of the script that bugs me. It’s all so mechanical. There’s a walk through the sewers, actually one of the better pieces of pure action writing in the entire script, and then they emerge onto a street in the middle of town. “At least on this one city block, it is eerily similar to the ruins of New Orleans after the flood.” Yikes. I don’t know if I’d evoke the name of a genuine tragedy in the middle of your crummy monster movie.
The action sequence that closes the film, where it finally gets back to the Predator vs Alien stuff, is written well enough. It’s an exciting fight sequence, better imagined than any of the action in the first film:
”THE REMAINING TWO ALIENS
attack and ruthlessly devour the Predator, as revenge for Antarctica, as revenge for a hundred hunts over a thousand years.”
The human stuff is ridiculous, and by this point, people are doing such absurd superheroic stuff that it’s hard to relate to anything we’re watching. When Dallas Howard (the tough guy, not the pretty girl) gets hold of the Predator gun and starts killing Aliens, the script finally kicks into a sort of horseshit overdrive that it never shakes.
And the ending...
Well, I guess I should say, “What ending?” At 104 pages, the script ends abruptly with a shot that raises more questions than anything, and not in a “Cool, I need to see a sequel tomorrow!” sort of way, either. More in a “Are you kidding? I sat through 100 minutes for that?” sort of way.
Final calculation, taking all the decent work into consideration, it’s catastrophic. It’s really that bad a script. If fans don’t already feel like whipped dogs, they will by the end of this, and the sad thing is, they’ll buy just enough tickets to guarantee Fox makes another one of these, if only for DVD, in the future. Because it’s so cold and crass and calculating, so pointless a retread of the work of the genuine talents involved in the franchises previously, this is the one that feels like the stake in the heart of both properties. This is the announcement that they’re not remotely interested in continuing the films in a way that expands the great work that already exists. It’s creatively bankrupt in a way designed to take the least effort for a return. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, having to kiss off both franchises for the time being, and all I can hope is that there’s a genuine rebirth later. This certainly isn’t it."

The Chronicles of Narnia will be around for a while


From Darkhorizons, "Entertainment Weekly this week published an article outlining Walden Media's plans for the future of "The Chronicles of Narnia" series of films and its surprising what's in store.

First up, its certain that the fourth book "Prince Caspian" will be the next adventure. Despite its shorter length than 'Wardrobe', there's no plans to fuse elements from the other novels into it. Producer Mark Johnson confirms that adapting the story is proving tougher than 'Wardrobe' and it now looks like the film could be pushed back a year to Xmas 2008 due to visual effects demands.

The fifth and sixth books, "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "The Silver Chair", will be done next with the studio planning to use Caspian and these two as "an interlocking trilogy that will be shot in that order".

What about the other three books though? No word on if the studio plans to do any of them, though most likely the first novel "The Magician's Nephew" will be the first post-trilogy project."

A peek at that CASINO ROYALE script


"WHO WROTE THIS?
Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, DIE ANOTHER DAY, STONED), and Paul Haggis (CRASH).

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A bad guy named Le Chiffre is, essentially, a banker for terrorism around the world. Bond thwarts a particular bomb plot, causing money problems for Le Chiffre, who launches an ultra-high-stakes card game to reclaim his lost fortune. Bond infiltrates the game in an effort to bring down Le Chiffre. It’s “gamble against terrorism!”

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “REBOOT”? THEY’RE STARTING OVER?
Yes – they’re starting over.
We meet a Bond who is nowhere near as experienced or refined as previous incarnations of the character. For example, we see this Bond actually earn his “Double 0” status – via two assassinations which go down in a pre-title sequence. One “0” for each person dropped = “00”. We even see Bond’s “007” ID being forged in the bowels of MI6 as part of the film’s opening titles.
This Bond isn’t used to killing…but it’s part of his job. There’s no glory in it for him, though – he’s haunted and even distracted by the ugliness of death. More on this element later.
Also, the universe he inhabits is much more…I hesitate to use the word…”realistic” than it was before; the story is grounded in a far less stylized world than previous Bonds.

SO, HOW “REAL WORLD” IS THIS NEW BOND?
M: When they analyzed the stock market after 9/11, the CIA discovered there had been massive shortings of airline stocks. When the stocks hit bottom on 9/12, someone made a fortune.
Or…when nearly everything is going wrong that can go wrong with Bond’s mission…
M: Christ I miss the Cold War.
GONE is nearly any visage of over the over-the-top action sequences we’ve come to expect from James Bond movies. There are a few large-scale set pieces, but they feel a tad derivative. They’re fine enough, but they’re oddly familiar.
An elaborate chase through (and around) a crowded airport has a DIE HARD sensibility. Bond chasing a bomber onto the scaffolding of a construction site evokes the Statue of Liberty sequence from REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS. Are these familiar because we’re conditioned to expect bombastic shenanigans from Bond movies…and anything less is jarring? Or, is the over-the-top nature of (many of the) previous films, in actuality, a critical component of this concept’s personality? Is Bond, simply, too closely associated with excess to divorce itself from it?
If this is the case, perhaps it’s “too soon” for CASINO ROYALE?

WHERE DO THEY GO IN THIS MOVIE?
Prague. Pakistan. Uganda. London. Nassau. Miami. Alps. Montenegro (where the Casino Royale is located). Venice.

WHAT ELEMENTS OF “CLASSIC” BOND ARE RETAINED?
During Bond’s first kill, there is a shot looking OUT through the barrel of the gun held by his prey. Bond spins and shoots his victim…shooting “us”. The iconic “gun barrel”…Bond spinning to shoot at the camera…and the resultant flow of blood we know as the franchise’s graphical intro is now implied to be the James Bond’s first “0”…his first kill.
Monty Norman’s Bond theme music is referenced in the final moments of the script.
007 does introduce himself as “Bond, James Bond.” Once…unexpectedly.
Bond’s tuxedo. But he’s not used to Tuxedos; it’s a big moment for the character when he gets one. He likes the way he looks in it; sizes himself up proudly in the mirror…spinning back to check himself out again…to make sure he looks as good as he thinks he does. He seems almost…proud. There’s a “working class” quality to his reaction…someone who isn’t used to having nice things suddenly has something nice.

WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT THIS SCRIPT?
Its humanity. In many ways, this feels like a drama that is also a spy movie.
For better or for worse, this James Bond is a very human, extremely flawed, and utterly sympathetic character. There is no stoicism here, no square-jawed resolve. He’s lost, and alone. M is implied to be a mother figure for him, as well as a safe-haven - though neither is clearly stated. And Bond could use a little help, because CASINO ROYALE sends him through the ringer – physically and emotionally – over and over again.
This Bond is barely holding himself together. He seems like something of a cannonball…bouncing from adventure to adventure, place to place…as if looking for something bad to happen to him. One scene finds Bond marching towards a villain (and his henchmen) with a knife palmed from a dinner table; he’s going to take on three armed men at once with one shitty knife. The narrative describes how Bond knows this is suicide, but he’s doing it anyway.
Bond has enormous difficulty being close to anyone; he’s also a bit cynical. When trying to pick-up the hot wife of a man he’s observing, the woman indicates that her husband would be too upset if she went with Bond.
SOLANGE: I’m afraid I’m not that cruel.
BOND: Perhaps you’re just out of practice.
But, deep down inside, Bond truly, deeply wants to connect with someone. He simply has too many doubts, too much fear, is plagued by too much insecurity, and wears too much armor for this to happen. He systematically pursues attached (or married) women because he feels it’s cleaner…more base. VESPER LYND breaks through all of this – becomes someone for whom Bond is willing to leave behind the only world he’s ever known.
VESPER: You love me?
BOND: Enough to quit and float around the world with you, until one of us has to get an honest job. Think it will have to be you, I don’t think I know what an honest job is.
The final quarter of CASINO ROYALE is a love story. It’s a story of two people who are trying to leave an uncertain, violent reality they're simply unable to cope with any longer. They want to look for something new; they want to build something new.
CR’s emotional arc is about Bond learning that the greatest strength of all is not one’s ability to kill…and not keeping the people who care about us at bay. It's allowing ourselves to trust - and to love. Alas, it’s also about the potentially disastrous consequences of doing so. The plotline here is quite nihilistic…and almost cruel…in its treatment of Bond. It repeatedly condemns his bitterness and paranoia as weaknesses to be discarded, then turns around and reinforces (and even justifies) his misgivings in very painful ways. When we last see Bond, he’s more angst ridden, more bitter, and less trusting than ever before. And, again, he is very much alone.

BESIDES THE CHARACTER DRIVEN DRAMA, WHAT ELSE IS “DIFFERENT” HERE?
CASINO ROYALE’s treatment of violence.
This is an extremely violent script, but the violence is neither glorified nor sanitized. A great deal of blood is specified; death is not pretty. Reference is made to disposing of the bodies…the carnage resulting from 007’s shenanigans is a plot point.
An effective sequence finds Vesper in the shower after a brutal fight in which she and James killed a bad guy. She has blood under her fingernails and can’t get them clean. In shock and disbelief, she just sits down in the shower, naked. Blankly…far away. Bond comes into the bathroom, notes her torment. He helps her wash the blood from her hands (he’d cleaned his own hands earlier), then holds her closely. Not sexually – just closely – together in the “warm rain.”
Death in this newly defined Bond world is a grim necessity and inescapable reality. It'll be quite interesting to see how it’s handled on-screen…in both execution and aftermath.
Also of note: A great deal of “nudity” is specified. Not gratuitous nudity, though. Bond is stripped naked for a torture scene involving testicles and a carpet beater, and there’s also “comfort” nudity – the kind of nudity shared when two people are in love (Bond and Vesper).

WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THIS STORY THAT WE’VE NEVER LEARNED BEFORE?
At one point, Vesper sizes-up James in a way he does not dispute. She tells him he’s an orphan, who didn’t come from money (which caused problems for him at school), who only succeeded via the charity of others…hence the chip on his shoulder. I don’t believe this has been conveyed in previous films…if I missed something, please accept my apologies and feel free to correct me in the Talkbacks below.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK IN THE SCRIPT?
BAD GUYS are still stereotypically one dimensional. Like this one!
A great deal of effort was clearly expended on developing the 007 character into a personae (Producers? Writers? Studios?) felt would be more accessible to modern audiences. So, why not throw multi-faceted villains into the mix as well? Why not really craft CASINO ROYALE into something unusual? Give our newly defined Bond some nicely realized big bads to face?
But this doesn’t happen. There’s not a single moment of evilness, nastiness, cunning, deviousness, or wicked “bad guy” conversation that tells us these antagonists are any more challenging, any more special, any smarter, or any more unusual than the endless rabble of jerks we’ve seen in countless other Bond movies (or other cinema in general). Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber (in the first DIE HARD movie) had a level of charisma and intellect that made him both compelling and daunting. Such a character would quite nicely with this new Bond…but no one even remotely similar can be found. This is new Bond –vs- super-clichéd, Euro-trash baddies, straight up.
BOND THE RENEGADE. Another shortcoming is the script’s over-reliance on a truly tired conceit: Bond as a semi-renegade who M is constantly irritated by, doesn't 100% trust, but tolerates in order to get “X” job done. We’ve seen this shtick before in Bond, and we’ve seen it elsewhere. This kind of notion is a one-off at best, and should not be hammered in again and again. The script writers are trying to make 007 stories more plausible…yet advancing such a tired gimmick stretches plausibility to the breaking point.
DIALOGUE. There are some wonderfully written dialogue sequences that would require a few pages to accurately recount. Some smart, sharp, witty writing between Bond and Vesper in particular. But we also have to suffer through rather desperate attempts at coolness and wit. Examples:
SOLANGE: Why can’t nice guys be more like you?
BOND: Then they’d be…bad.
Eeeeeewwww. There are also a few “bad guy” exchanges that Mike Meyers will likely embrace with giddy glee – they’re that clichéd.
LE CHIFFRE: Oh, but you are wrong! Because even after I have slaughtered you and the girl, your people will still welcome me with open arms!
This dude deserves to be shot on the merit of that line alone.

WILL THIS MOVIE BE ANY GOOD?
CASINO ROYALE is not the disaster some have feared. It is certainly uneven, and sometimes it’s uninspired. But it succeeds wildly in two unexpected areas: 1) This is an affective drama/love story, and 2) It successfully molds Bond into a new character, a new type of man – into someone I really liked. Although, I’m not sure this man should be called “James Bond”.
Which points to an interesting question: Who is James Bond to us? What does he mean? Will the masses embrace such a radical re-definition of an established cultural icon? Or, will they kick him to the curb – desiring someone tried and true? To me, “classic” Bond embodies the qualities we all wish we could possess. He’s cool, capable, confident, attractive, driven, smart, and fearless – but he’s not indomitable, not unbreakable, and not without compassion, gentility, and love.
If this is assessment is correct (which it may not be), will anyone out there want to be this new Bond? My hunch says, “No.” Why would we aspire to be insecure, uncertain, a little crazed, a lot frustrated, and quite lonely and sad? The new Bond is a great character, and may well work on the level of a John Carpenter anti-hero, but I’m guessing audiences’ heads will explode in spectacular, gooey unison when they realize how little of the Bond they know is recognizable in this new incarnation.
The “drama” in this story could work quite well if the film makers care enough, and are brave enough, to play it for all it’s worth. Real people (tired people) in a visceral world of deceit and ultra-violence, simply trying to find normality (and peace) could play quite nicely if performed honestly, and helmed bravely.
But this needs to go all the way…and needs to be strong…if it’s going to work. By “all the way”, I mean a hard R rating . Uncompromising. Unforgiving. Shock us. Put us into the world Bond and Vesper inhabit - the world they want to abandon. Make us want them to find something better.
Then…this might be very cool. Anything less could play as desperate, frustrating, awkward, half-assed, and even cheesy.
In the end, such mammoth changes were completely unnecessary – they aren’t required to bring a franchise a healthy shot of adrenaline or freshness. J.J. Abram’s MISSION: INPOSSIBLE III is a perfect example of this: The movie simply shifts M:I's focus to its characters, instead of starting from scratch. It gives emotional resonance to the action we’re watching – instead of settling for mere spectacle. These differences are often simple and subtle, but they are profound, and fall nicely in line with what this new Bond could have been.
We’ll see whether we end up shaken, stirred, or both, on November 17..."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Star Trek XI is not Lost


Jordan, this is not likely to improve your Star Trek mood. From Darkhorizons, ""Star Trek" is dead, long live "Star Trek". Paramount is resurrecting its "Star Trek" franchise by setting "Mission: Impossible III" helmer J.J. Abrams to produce and direct the eleventh "Star Trek" feature, aiming for a 2008 release reports Variety.

Abrams, who's highly buzzed M:I-III marks his feature directing debut, is most famous for creating and producing such hit series as "Lost", "Alias" and "Felicity". Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, Abrams' producing team from "Lost," also will produce the yet-to-be-titled feature.

The project, to be penned by Abrams and "Alias"/M:I-III scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, looks like it'll be a prequel of the franchise with the story set in the early days of original series characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock - including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer space mission.

"Star Trek" has been Hollywood's most durable performer other than James Bond, spawning 10 features that have grossed more than $1 billion and 726 TV episodes from six shows spanning five decades.

The decision to relaunch comes a year after UPN pulled the plug on "Star Trek: Enterprise" amid dismal ratings, and four years after "Star Trek: Nemesis" turned in the worst performance of the ten films with $43 million domestic.

Its expected long time producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga will not be involved and their proposed plans for an eleventh feature, including a script by Erik Jendresen, have been scrapped."

Another MI3 review

From AICN, "Hola all. Massawyrm here. The Team Stoopid. That’s been the geek mantra for 10 years now, ever since the first installment of the latest incarnation of Mission: Impossible (aka The Tom Cruise Show) hit screens back in ’96. The Team. Where the hell was the team? The first movie had the team…for like five minutes before they were all slaughtered…and Tom Cruise put together another team…who almost entirely betrayed him…leading to a second film that ignored the idea of a team entirely. And for those that didn’t grow up with either of the two TV incarnations – the show was ENTIRELY about the team. Phelps wasn’t a point man, he was the brain – and always assembled a team of people who were very good at very specific things. In fact, the closest thing we’ve had to a true Mission: Impossible movie thus far was Steven Speilberg’s Munich. Wheelman, explosives expert, clean up man, brain. Now that’s a Mission: Impossible team.

Now personally, I really hated the first one. I just couldn’t get over the idea of Phelps being the bad guy. I mean, come on, that’s like making a Star Trek movie in which Kirk turns out to be the one who betrayed the Trek Gang – or like a Bond movie with a new 007 in which James Bond is the new M and sells the new Bond and the Union Jack up river. It’s just not done. But they did it. And it sucked. Then, the second one…well, here come the tomatoes. I like the second one. But not as a M:I film. I liked it as a John Woo movie. No, it wasn’t a REAL John Woo movie, filled with a beating heart and pathos out the yin/yang…but it LOOKED like a John Woo film. And if Hollywood wasn’t going to let Woo make a real Woo film, at least we got something that looked just like one. Like I said, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. But if there’s one thing that can be said about Paramount’s attempts at making M:I films, it’s that they’ve done exactly what we’ve been begging for MGM to do with the Bond films. Take big name action directors and let them have a go at their own stylized version of Mission: Impossible. I mean it at least gave us hope that eventually we could get a good one.

So, now that they’ve handed the franchise over to Alias creator J.J. Abrams, will we see a long time geek who’s heard all the complaints actually deliver something that we’ve been dying to see? Yes. Yes we will. For the most part. While the main storyline is entirely focused upon Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, this time he’s given a team, a real team – each chosen for their specific skills. And the team kicks ass.

Maggie Q is the bombshell infiltrator (there was always a bombshell) and master saboteur. Jonathon Rys Meyers is the wheelman/hotshot pilot who isn’t at all useful unless required to go very, very fast. And Ving Rhames is back as the single best field techie in the game. And in this Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is nothing without them. They work together, as a team, in complete unison – each playing their own part in each elaborate infiltration. And believe it or not, there are entire sequences in which Ethan Hunt can only sit and wait while someone else on the team has to pull something amazing out of their ass. No one plays second fiddle for very long, each member getting a chance to show exactly why they’re IM agents. So, yes. It is a real, honest to god Mission: Impossible movie. The Tom Cruise show has finally is over. Mostly.

If I have one complaint about the team focus, it’s that there isn’t enough character development with Maggie Q and Jonathon Rys Meyers (although they do get one, single, amazing scene together.) The focus of the film is still very much on Cruise. This time, however, the balance is almost just about right. At least they finally give Rhames the attention he deserves. Ving simply owns in this, finally being given the much needed Luther character arc. The Luther of ten years ago is dead and gone. No longer the guy simply happy to be back at work on the team, no longer the guy giggling at the opportunity to work alongside Hunt again, Luther is tired. IM has become his life and outside of that life, there’s nothing. He’s bitter, worldly and has developed a relationship with Hunt that only two guys who have almost died together a dozen times can have. And he’s become Hunt’s conscience.

And Hunt has a lot to think about this time around. In M:I3 Hunt takes on the pathos of Kirk circa Wrath of Khan. He’s gotten out of the game and is starting to secretly regret it. But when one of his trainees goes missing, several of his protégé’s try to get him to come back and assume the role in which he belongs. He resists, but just like Kirk, can’t fight his nature. This incarnation of Hunt requires Cruise to pull out all of the stops and deliver a role that fuses both his love of high risk stunts and the honed talent he showed in Magnolia and Eyes Wide Shut. He’s conflicted, in love and sells every moment of it in a way the previous films never allowed.

Abrams was absolutely the right choice for this. And to be perfectly honest, I was never sold on the idea that he was until I watched this. Come on, all of the previously attached directors were soooooo much sexier in terms of their body of work. Lost is awesome, but I’ve never been a fan of Alias. The “Chicks Beating Ass” genre in my opinion is far past played out and it always struck me as a poor man’s La Femme Nikita (the movie, not the low rent USA series that actually WAS a poor mans La Femme Nikita.) But much like he was right about Firefly, Herc was absolutely correct about what Abrams could do with a real budget. Hercules, and any longtime Abrams fan, is going to shit themselves when they see this. It is EXACTLY what you’ve all been talking about. M:I3 pulls out Abrams’ bag of tricks and story ideas and gives them the full backing that only a budget like this had could allow. It’s dark, brooding and puts its characters through hell. Much like the pilot for Alias, it opens with Hunt bound to a chair and fucked 6 ways from Sunday – then flashes back to show us just how he ends up there. And it’s a gruesome, heart wrenching ride to that chair where he ends up on the wrong side of a gun facing down one of the most ruthless son of a bitches he’s ever faced.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is amazing. Mother fucker channels, nay, becomes Lee Marvin. He’s cold, calculating and has zero time to partake in penny ante bullshit like monologueing. You’re going to give him what he wants or he’s going to put a bullet in your fucking skull and move on to the next guy, asking the exact same question with the same exact inflection. Without getting angry about it. No deathtraps, no leaving it to his lackeys. He’s going to pick up a gun and do it himself. He’s going to fuck you up and you’ll will think twice about crossing him. Hoffman is not only the single most perfectly realized villain in recent memory, but a real honest to god M:I villain. This isn’t some Bond villain retread like in the last two films. This is a businessman, a guy who’s doing his thing, is good at what he does, and only a team of top notch IM agents could ever imagine taking him down.

And just to add icing to the cake, Abrams brings in a cast of top notch support to add a genuine sense of what IMF is all about. Lawrence Fishburne lays the smackdown as the agency director like only he can. Billy Crudup once again proves he’s the best young actor no one in the mainstream seems to know about with a great turn as Hunt’s protégé turned mission leader. And of course Simon Pegg commands every bit of screentime he’s given as the headquarters based techie – and as usual he’s funny as all get out, delivering a few of the best lines in the whole film. No one plays nervous likeability like Pegg and fans of his work will find this worth the viewing just for him alone.

This is a film so good, that I want a sequel. Now. Tom, seriously buddy. It’s time. Make one of these every two years. Ethan’s done. It’s time for IMF to promote him. He’s done with fieldwork. Let him oversee teams. Bring in a new pointman to work with Ethan’s team. I want more Q, more Meyer’s and a hell of a lot more Luther. Come on, I mean, Rhames is awesome. He deserves a regular gig…and we as an audience deserve more films exactly like this. Don’t worry, you can still appear in the films – show up for a couple days or a week of shooting – overseeing the team…maybe even the occasional surprise wild stunt to save their bacon. But this is exactly the type of film we need to see a lot more of. Mission: Impossible was a great series…and M:I3 could be the beginning of a great series of films. Think it over, Tom. Seriously.

This isn’t Mission: Impossible 3. This is Mission: Impossible – The Good One. The really good one. It’s an action blockbuster geek film, made by geeks for geeks. But Joe Six-Pack is gonna have a hell of a time too. One of those rare summer films that actually delivers on everything Summer films ‘promise’. Highly recommended for bitter M:I fans who have been waiting for the proper treatment of the material, anyone who enjoys action films, Abram fans…and pretty much anyone with a pulse that doesn’t look down their nose at movies with big stars or budgets.

Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Forest of the Damned renamed


From Moviesonline, "We have your exclusive first look at the dvd artwork for Forest of the Damned, here in North America its going under the title Demonic. The great Tom Savini (of George Romeros Dead trilogy fame) is staring in a new indie horror flick called "Forest of the Damned" !

The story follows a group of teenagers who are on summer vacation. As they are driving through the Miranda forest they accidentally (of course!) run over and kill a young girl. With their car out of commision and no cell phone reception they are stuck to wandering the woods. They soon come across the cabin of Stephen (Tom Savini). Stephen is a lonely hermit who has spent most of his life holed up in his cabin in the woods after witnessing his parents brutal murders by the strange 'nymph' creatures whom inhabit the forest. These nymps were actually angels from heaven who were expelled once they began to experience human emotions such as lust, desire, hatred and the like. Stephen, bored with his lonesome life, uses the kids as bait for the nymph's dirty work."

Review, "When I first popped this film into my DVD player I didn't really know what to expect. I assumed that the top billing of Tom Savini would actually mean he appeared in about four seconds of the movie. Boy was I in for a surprise. Not only does he actaully have a huge part, but the entire film is pretty good with characters of depth, cool effects, an original story and solid acting.

One thing I must add is that I began to notice a trend concerning the names of the characters. They are Judd, Molly, Ally, Andrew, Emilio...you get the idea. That's right, they went there. They named the characters after the brat-packers. I actually think this is a cool send up to the films that we all loved as teens, but it is too bad that it was done by Sleepaway Camp 2 first.

Of course I expected to see the usual throwaway characters of the typical slasher flick variety. Once again I was pleasantly surprised. These guys work their butts off and produce some impressive reactions to the crap they have gotten themselves mixed up in. My two favorite characters are Daniel Maclagan and Nicole Petty as Judd and Molly. Watch for their scenes. They work really well together. Ally, the bitch of a sister is the one character I couldn't wait to see die. I wanted to kill her myself. I personally would have thrown her ass out of the van in the beginning. I hope she was just a really good actress. ;) Savini is convincingly sinister if not a little over the top.

Often films will have good actors and a good story only to fall short with the effects. That is not the case with Forest of the Damned. The vampish sirens are significantly spooky with their mouthfuls of scary as Hell teeth. The make up and the death scenes are decent all around.

Johannes Roberts directs this film with style and an obvious eye for gore. My only issue with his work is that sometimes the scenes will go on a little longer than necessary. It sometimes reminds me of those Saturday Night Live skits that don't know when to quit. I caught myself saying several times "if they would have just stopped right there, they would have nailed it." But Roberts is a capable director who knows what horror fans like to see. His ability to build tension is remarkable. I look forward to seeing more of his work."

Was there even a part 2?

From Dark horizons, "Angelina Jolie will be reprising her role as Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider 3" reports Britain's The Daily Express.

Jolie will be required to start training almost immediately after her new child's birth. Jolie is currently residing in Nambia with Brad Pitt and their two adopted children awaiting the birth of their child.

The creator of the game and character, Ian Livingstone told the newspaper that "Paramount has optioned it and Angelina has agreed to star in the third", whilst a source added "Angelina is already in training to make sure she gets rid of her post-pregnancy bulge. She wants to be in tip-top shape and look better in Lara's outfit than ever".

Despite both previous "Tomb Raider" films getting a critical drubbing, the films took in $274 million and $156 million in their theatrical runs and did booming business on DVD. The gaming franchise, which suffered from poor sequels, bounced back in recent weeks with the new release "Tomb Raider: Legend" landing in top sales spots around the globe and enjoying very good reviews.

Jolie is also presently attached to a variety of projects including two further sequels next year - "Sin City 2" and "Ocean's Thirteen"."

First American Haunting review


From horror movies.ca, "Exorcism, demonic haunting and ghost stories are ruling the world of horror movies today with there high intense storylines and religious backdrops making today's movies very moving and hard hitting. One thing is for sure though An American Haunting was not like the rest of the dribble out there today, this was very entertaining,
scary and satisfying and also worth the money for once. American Haunting wastes no time in setting itself up as a thriller with something more on its mind than just simply rehashing the same old scare tactics that every 'Exorcist' remake/ has to resorts to. Directed by Courtney Solomon, manages to create something that The Exorcism of Emily Rose fails to do, So the plot outline. Between the years 1818-1820, the Bell Family of Red River, Tennessee was visited by an unknown presence that haunted the family and eventually ended up causing the death of one its members. Starting with small sounds around the farm, and the sitting of a a strange BLACK WOLF with piercing yellow eyes, the sounds escalated into full brutal contact with the certain family members, causing psychological and physical torment.

The performances by Donald Sutherland and Rachel Hurd-Wood are absolutely wonderful, very deep and they do the movie justice making this movie not just a story but it drags you into the family and you feel so much more. The real star is Rachel Hurd-Wood. She gives the best performance of her short career. She is wonderful as a young girl in the clutches of pure evil. I had seen Courtney Solomon's first film, "Dungeons & Dragons" and was extremely disappointed. Solomon more than makes up for his past failures, but this really does make up for all the failures. So the choice of cast were just right for the movie and with emotional acting comes great rewards and I think that An American Haunting was a success just purely because the actors suited so well and gelled within the movie walls extremely well.

The movie reminded me a lot of the "The Others" with Nicloe Kidman the film really delivers and it says something important at the same time, something within that effects you without shouting it out at you. But aside from the deep messages the movie does actually scare you at the same time and I felt myself jumping out of my sweaty seat again and again through the movie. The scenes look fantastic creating the perfect setting for a olden day horror movie, even the mist creped me out enough to focus on my pot of salsa rather than the absolutely terrifying movie on the screen. Powerful scenes of rape and touchier of this 15 year old girl fill the screens which is really eye watering to watch and because of its frequent appearance on screen it made me feel a little sad and sick watching it. Too much focus on the rape of a innocent girls is too much for me, give me a slaughtered guy in a bread bin and I'm happy! Still great dark scenes with loud audio smashing made me jump out my skin the whole way through.

The story was decent and I also feel it was a scary movie, right up to the ending. The movie builds up this sense of horror inside this evil house, but then ends with a silly sequence that supposedly ties everything together. That's the only disappointment to the movie, throughout the movie its such a clear straight forward horror movie that actually works and then disaster! The movie flips around and starts trying to become something more and starts twisting and turning on the screen making the fans of the movie confused about what actually happens in the end. After 20 minuets of working it out I'm satisfied but I think being straight all the way through and then trying to be as difficult as The Dark 2006 at the end really did not do it any favours. The cinematography by master Adrian Biddle and the score by Caine Davidson are first rate, and help propel you into an unforgettable ghost story that will linger in your memory and haunt your dreams/nightmares for months after.

Even though the movie is scary it fails to be anything than a standard scare for me. I expected this movie to be another movie like "Emily Rose" where the director tries to compensate for a slow plot with pretty choreography. But it doesn't and it holds its own as a great horror movie and one ill be buying as soon as it hits the shelf's. If you looking for a solid horror movie that's going to help you get into a females pants, please my friends take this home."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Harry reviews MI3


From Aintitcoolnews, "To say that this is the best of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series is kinda lame praise. I like Brian DePalma’s – but ultimately – today when I rewatched it, about an hour in… I dozed off. The second one, Woo’s one? All style, all flash, but easily one of the shittiest most vapid films made within the history of “hopefully cool films” covered by AICN. Is this third one the best? You better believe it.

No, the real question is: In the realm of pop-spy action spectaculars – is there anything close to being this good?

The answer is “kinda”.

First off – ya kinda gotta just throw out all those brilliant Sean Connery JAMES BOND flicks… Nostalgia, period and young Connery just trumps just about anything the modern world has to offer us.

Just for clarity sake – I kinda don’t count films like 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR and THE PARALLAX VIEW and THE CONVERSATION and MUNICH in this sort of thing, because those are so ‘reality-based’ in their tone – that they kind of form their own sub-genre of cool.

No – I’m talking about Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan BOND flicks. MR. & MRS. SMITH. I’m talking about films, that until tonight were topped by TRUE LIES by James Cameron.

The best modern pop spy film… movies with gadgets and impossible stunts… James Cameron’s TRUE LIES reigns supreme… or shall I say reigned supreme.

J.J. Abrams… first time feature film director has just launched into the stratosphere of badass holy shit watch him go directors. On top of that… That trailer you’ve seen. That little tingle you get from Phillip Seymour Hoffman when he talks about hunting down and hurting the woman that Ethan Hunt cares about… YOU’VE NO IDEA.

J.J. is a geek director. He’s the sort of guy that if you had to sit down with him for an hour to talk about Mission Impossible… You could spend about 30 minutes talking about favorite iterations of the old TV series, he’d openly talk about liking the first hour of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, how he didn’t care at all about the second one… And how he wanted to do two things with this series. 1) Find out who Ethan Hunt is when he’s not “the Michael Jordan of Spies” and 2) Make it about teamwork and the resources of the IMF.

Seriously – I know that about JJ, cuz I sat down with him for an hour to do an interview with him regarding MI3 for PENTHOUSE. I didn’t really want to get off track in that interview by talking about “the history of cinematic spies” – though I really did want to. And I was handicapped in that interview by having not read the script or having seen the movie.

Now that I’ve seen it – I would completely be paralyzed by geek overload by just how amazing I feel MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 is… and how it’s the best damn retooling of TRUE LIES that will ever be done.

Essentially – that’s the film. Only – it’s not a romantic comedy at its heart. There’s romance, but it’s a light overtone to the entire film. I’ve watched TRUE LIES a lot. And through all of that – the one thing that always kinda bugged me about the film is a lack of a strong villain… and how I wish it had been more intense, played more straight. I love the humor – but humor tends to be a valve to release tension – and had they not played it for laughs… Had scene after scene not been hit with jokes throughout… well, it would have been amazing. It would have been…

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3.

Having seen the film… that teaser trailer makes you want to see the scene where Phillip’s Owen Davian captures Ethan Hunt and his “girlfriend” Julia and you kinda want to see the screws get turned on. And that trailer… It tells you it’s going to happen. It tells you that Ethan is gonna get hurt… real bad in this film. And right from the beginning. Pre-credits… that’s what you’re given.

Tom Cruise… trapped in a chair… manacled and pleading for his life and the life of the woman he loves. And there’s Philip… with a gun to her head, asking his questions about a “Rabbit’s foot” that Ethan was supposed to give him… and counting to 10. At 10, the women he loves is going to be shot in the head. Is it a play on the scene in MARATHON MAN? Absolutely. Is it good? Fucking A it’s good, strike that, it’s great.

In fact, the wonderful thing about this film is… You remember GOLDFINGER? Specifically – remember Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe)? Remember how he was always several steps ahead of Sean Connery’s Bond. Remember how he knew he had Bond’s number? How Bond was an annoyance, not a problem? Well Auric was a pussy galore compared to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian. It’s a classic good guy / bad guy match-up. Philip isn’t laughing maniacally. He isn’t making empty threats. He doesn’t give Ethan a goddamn inch the entire fucking film. Ethan is beaten at every fucking turn, every corner, every twist. The fucker thinks he’s good, but Philip is just much much smarter.

In fact, the brief flash of time in this film where Ethan has the upper hand… is only punctuated by exactly how fucking badly Owen fucks him up… almost at a blink. And this fucking Owen Davian… he’s not one of these cats that takes his time in unleashing revenge. He’s all about not just getting free, but instantly making his enemy his bitch.

Seriously. Contrary to the typical post-Oscar fuck-up, Hoffman stands at home plate like the Babe that he is, and points to above the big green wall and knocks his performance clear over that and beyond. No stutter step here. He’s everything he’s supposed to be and more. He’s just sort of a marvel in this film.

That said – This is Ving Rhames’ best outing in an MI flick. He’s got a swagger and a charm that’s just gold here. His Luther genuinely comes across as an old friend this time out. Like a teammate that has gone to hell and back with ya, and is still there busting your chops – but still covering your back, still rooting for ya and still doing everything in his power to keep Ethan around.

However – the real gold of this film is in just the sheer number of great performances and moments that folks like Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup, Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q have.

Fishburne has reached a stride in his career. That place where the man could be handed a yellow pages and told to read the lawyer listings and damn if he wouldn’t make it seem like you were listening to options that were a matter of life and death… while at the same time making them seem entertaining. Here… He’s basically the man in charge of the IMF. There’s a part of me that wishes we could see a flashback film to when he was an agent, cuz I guaran-fucking-tee ya, he was THE MAN. There’s a scene where he has Tom’s Ethan and Billy Crudup’s John Musgrave in a room… basically putting the screws to Tom on a particular recent fuck up that Laurence is holding him accountable for… and Billy comes to Tom’s defense… repeatedly – and as a result, Fishburne decides to just repeatedly brow-beat Crudup’s character… and the look on Tom’s face is that of the schoolboy that’s real glad the teacher is lecturing the kid next to him, but still has that pained expression of anticipation of his own ass-whupping. Meanwhile… Fishburne is just wonderful.

As for Billy Crudup – he’s really very good in this. I really do feel he’s an actor that’s just waiting for that one particular part to bust him out in a really big way. In terms of charisma – he holds his own with Tom Cruise – and that isn’t easy, by any means.

Of course – there is one actor in particular in this film that is sheer genius. And that’s SIMON PEGG! His character is named Benji Dunn – and he’s kinda brilliant. Simon is a tech specialist. He isn’t in the movie much, but he’s a scene stealer. The second he appears on screen, all actors around him go invisible. His monologue about the Anti-God is classic stuff. The sort of material that we geeks retain in our bizarre freakish psyches for late night geek babblings regarding the fundamental secret essence of the universe. You know you have those conversations… and Simon is just the sort of man-god that can give you fodder for those occasions. This time, it’s all about the Anti-God. Genius.

Then there’s just the women of this film. Jesus. Keri Russell is yummy. Michelle Monaghan is the one to marry. And Maggie Q? There’s this red dress she wears that is easily drool inducing. What I love is that these are not just eye-candy decorations. Keri’s character is instrumental to Ethan coming back to “the game.” Michelle’s character is what makes the “game” a matter of life and death. And Maggie Q? She’s that unbelievably hot, talented and deadly babe that made the TV series so badass.

The main thing there is – that’s an IMF team. Not just that, but they show you IMF headquarters… a bit of how it all works… How they make those amazing masks and how they’re applied. I can just imagine Greg Nicotero, Rick Baker and Stan Winston sitting around wishing they had this system. It’s one of those impossible things that just… when you finally get to see how it is applied… it’s about a thousand times cooler than it ever was coming off.

Lastly – we come to Tom Cruise.

In recent times it seems everybody everywhere seems to be obsessed with… what I frankly feel… is all the wrong things regarding the “Tom”. Frankly, I don’t care who he’s in a relationship with. The “crazy” stuff from last year… like bouncing on Oprah’s couch… Well, given my current lunacy regarding my own personal life… I get him. The is it real or isn’t it stuff? Hell, I see monkeys speculating on my personal life all the time, but doesn’t make what happens between the two of us any less real and I’m sure it’s the same way with Tom. His religious choices? Who cares?

The real story with Tom Cruise continues to be his habit of hooking up with other top talents in the industry… taking insane “impossible” risks on first time feature film directors and putting them in charge of a dying franchise – on the hopes that they’ll reinvigorate it. And it actually being a home run!

Tom’s picking of J.J. Abrams is one of those divine inspirations that we’re all going to be thanking him for years and years and years for. This is some of the surest handed direction we’ve seen in this type of film ever. I mean, he sure as hell cleaned Woo and DePalma’s clock this first time out.

But the amazing thing is… in spite of the grotesque over-publicity of his personal life… we’re not seeing Tom decay on screen. His game hasn’t wavered an inch. In fact, the maturing of his face… the ever so slight tired corners of his eyes aren’t making him look old, but like he’s lived. And in this film he’s just so good. He comes across as dashing, charming, cavalier, earnest, romantic, competent, deadly and amazing.

When he’s asked how much ammo he has left, and responds with enough. You believe him. And watching him ride that motorcycle, wearing those shades, onto a tarmac for a plane that’s taking off… You know he’s riding to the Danger Zone – and I can’t help, but smile. There was just something about that image that did it for me.

Before I go, I have to revisit James Cameron. Why? Because of any other filmmaker – J.J. seems to have taken his greatest inspiration from Cameron. This movie isn’t bathed in icy blues and rich Hildebrandt golds. Instead – you can see that Abrams loves ABYSS, ALIENS: DIRECTOR’S CUT, TRUE LIES, TITANIC. There’s elements borrowed and turned into something new and exhilarating. Take… the bridge scene from TRUE LIES. Here – it’s given an amazing treatment – in a totally different way.

If you’ve been a fan of ALIAS or LOST and you’re dying to see what J.J. can do with the big toys, you’re going to be blown away. The difference between this film and his television work is just amazing. On TV, J.J. has risen to the top of the game. With this first film, he proudly steps out bringing the right talent from his cathode ray tube days and mixed it with a great deal of wonderful cinematic talents.

My fave crew choice? Michael Giacchino, who did the score for the film. You may remember his brilliant score for THE INCREDIBLES. Here, he gives the scenes emotion, urgency and excitement – just as he did there, but with a more elegant flair.

In all – this film isn’t a parody of a spy film, this movie isn’t goofing around. This is a seriously badass spy flick, and it will have critics around the country crowing about “Third Time’s The Charm!”

I just wish the franchise had been this good from the beginning. My God. Two more this good would just be amazing. As it stands, I just want to see Tom doing fresh material and I want to see the great J.J. science fiction film. It’s in him. I guarantee it. It’ll knock all of our dicks in the dirt, just like this one did to me tonight. I’ve got a good feeling about this summer."