Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Robots in disguise and all that jazz

Transformers, like The Goonies, falls under the category of, "Trends I just missed because I got older".

From Iwatchstuff, "For those who didn't know, Michael Bay, director of such classics as Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, is currently cranking away at his next American masterpiece: Transformers, the dramatic story of transforming robots. And even more exciting, he's blogging! And he says the film is going splendidly:

We finished our first week. One of the best first weeks on a movie I've ever experienced. We shot over 250 set ups.
250 setups for the week seems like a pretty strong shooting week, particularly because, if I know Michael Bay, that means about 50 slow-motion shots of walking towards the camera and the rest as 360 degree pans."

More Superman Posters


From IWatchStuff: "Some new posters for Superman Returns have been released. One depicts a romantic moment between Lois and Superman, lit with the soft glow of an old Hollywood film of the 40's. The other shows Lex Luthor holding a piece of Kryptonite, only instead of using Kevin Spacey, they've just drawn some bags under the eyes of a Charlie Brown cartoon. In this scene, Luthor has decided to borrow from the sinister plans of one of his peers, holding out the Kryptonite until Superman is just about to kick it, then pulling it away real fast."

Go here for even more Superman posters.

Star Wars 3D


Here's the lowdown on the Star Wars saga's conversion to 3-D, including which SW movie gets it first and when.

The June '06 issue of Popular Science has an article on the emergence of new 3-D movie technologies from 2 different companies, "Real D" and "In-Three", the latter of which is now hard at work converting the Star Wars saga from 2-D to 3-D. Here's how the article opens...

In March 2004, staffers at Industrial Light & Magic in San Rafael, California, filed in and out of a screening room, drawn by news of a technology demonstration. Tech breakthroughs on the ILM campus are nothing unusual, of course -- this is, after all, the special-effects shop that George Lucas founded back in 1975 to create the never-before-scene visuals of Star Wars. But this was different. This time, outsiders had arrived to show ILM's own work in a whole new, trippy light. The staffers put on pairs of thick glasses and watched as clips from Star Wars were played. Suddenly the screen itself seemed to dissolve away, as scenes stretched out toward the audience. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's faces grew closer to viewers as the characters prepared to chase a would-be assassin. Pod cars buzzing in the background really appeared to be hundreds of feet away. It wasn't like watching a big screen on a wall; it was like looking through a massive picture window. Soon, the Jedi Master himself came in. George Lucas sat down, put on the glasses and, within a few minutes, passed judgement: "I'm sold! I'm sold! I'm sold!"

What Lucas witnessed that day was better than any 3-D he had ever seen. No shaky pictures. No color loss. No distortions that disconnect your eyes from your stomach. He was among the first to see the next generation of 3-D movies, marked not only by their clarity but by their range.

The article goes on to explain that In-Three's technology will work in regular movie theaters rather than only IMAX and other specialty theaters.

In-Three's system will use special electronic LCD glasses that turn the left and right frames on and off within 300 microseconds so that instead of polarizing image angles or color shifts, it simply shows different images to the left and right eyes. The system projects via a single digital projector that is shooting alternating frames for the left and then right eye while sychronizing with the LCD glasses turning those frames on and off over and over, the left-right-left-right frames come by so fast that the eye and mind aren't able to perceive them as on/off but rather as a natural, constant, stereoscopic view with full color and brightness.

Converting a traditional 2-D live-action movie to 3-D can take as long as a year. After a patent war with another 3-D company, In-Three is, for the time being, very tight-lipped about their conversion process. What is known about the process is that within each frame, each object must be trimmed out, moved around, and altered with a sense of depth.

Most importantly for us Star Wars fans, the article mentions that one of the first public viewings of this new 3-D will be in theaters Spring of '07 with the 3-D release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace; the other 5 movies in the Star Wars saga will follow.

New Clerks 2 trailer is funny


JPX posted a link to the same trailer that he posted nearly two months ago (although there's no faulting that Rosario Dawson picture), so here's Octopunk stepping in to make things nice. Go here for a short clip of the two main characters discussing sequels, and here for the offical trailer, which does some fun color/black-and-white goofery at the beginning.

Let the crappy tie-ins begin

Man there's nothing I hate more than the requisite soundtrack compilation, especially when half the music isn't even found in the film. Instead, we get a bunch of LAME "inspired by" offerings. Check out the tracklisting for the Superman Returns soundtrack below. Nothing kills the mood of a film faster than a soon-to-be-dated rock song thrown into an otherwise good film. Anyone remember that horrible Prince song in Batman? How about Chad Kroeger's "Hero" in Spider-Man? Contrast this Superman Returns soundtrack with the Superman: The Movie soundtrack

Where's John Williams when you need him?

"A collection of rising stars pays musical tribute to the red-caped American icon that is synonymous with Truth, Justice and the American Way on SOUND OF SUPERMAN. The compilation features covers and original songs that explore themes of heroism and name-drop the Man of Steel, who makes his highly anticipated return to the big screen in SUPERMAN RETURNS, opening nationwide on June 30th. SOUND OF SUPERMAN will be available from Rhino Records on June 13 at regular physical and digital retail outlets and at www.rhino.com for a suggested list price of $13.99.

American Hi-Fi saves the day with "The Rescue," the first single from SOUND OF SUPERMAN and an all-new studio track from the hard-rocking quartet. Before the album hits the streets, Los Angeles power trio Maxeen provides a sneak preview with "Save Me," a pre-release available now exclusively through the iTunes Music Store.

Since the superhero’s debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman has become a pop culture icon familiar to generations. The man, the myth and the metaphor have all found their way into some great songs over the years. Chicago emo-punkers The Academy Is… suit up for "Superman," which was originally recorded by garage rockers The Clique in 1969—the track, with its iconic refrain of "I Am, I Am, I Am Superman," was later revived by R.E.M. on the album Lifes Rich Pageant. Garage rockers The Films go back 30 years with their take on Donovan’s #1 1966 hit, "Sunshine Superman." The Sun get the dance floor bumping with their frantic take on "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman," originally recorded by The Kinks. A group of rookie rockers called Royal courts the dark side with its version of "Brainiac’s Daughter," a song originally cut by XTC’s psychedelic side project Dukes of Stratosphear.

SOUND OF SUPERMAN also includes covers of more recent vintage with Paramore’s rousing acoustic version of Foo Fighters’ 1997 smash, "My Hero," New York indie-pop quartet Nightmare Of You channeling their inner Flaming Lips on "Waitin’ For A Superman," and the celebrated Boston quintet The Receiving End Of Sirens’ take on the Stereophonics’ "Superman."

The album also contains original music from some fresh new faces in rock. Punk-infused indie rockers Motion City Soundtrack provide the guitar heroics with "The Worst Part…" while Jack’s Mannequin’s infectious piano pop is showcased on the new track "Meet Me At My Window." Chicago’s Plain White T’s add the pulsing anthem "It’s So Easy" and South Dakota rockers The Spill Canvas come to the rescue with "Saved." The collection also features an original rocker from Sara Routh called "You’re Never Gone." Sara is the sister of Brandon Routh, who dons the iconic red cape of the world’s best-known comic book hero in Superman Returns."

SOUND OF SUPERMAN Track Listing:

The Academy Is… "Superman" (The Clique/R.E.M. cover)
Plain White T’s "It’s So Easy" (original)
The Sun "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" (The Kinks cover)
Motion City Soundtrack "The Worst Part…" (original)
The Films "Sunshine Superman" (Donovan cover)
Maxeen "Save Me" (original)
Paramore "My Hero" (Foo Fighters cover)
American Hi-Fi "The Rescue" (original)
The Spill Canvas "Saved" (original)
Jack’s Mannequin "Meet Me At My Window" (original)
Nightmare Of You "Waitin’ For A Superman" (The Flaming Lips cover)
The Receiving End Of Sirens "Superman" (Stereophonics cover)
Royal "Brainiac’s Daughter" (Dukes of Stratosphear cover)
Sara Routh "You’re Never Gone" (original)

A Teflon summer season?


By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — Critics haven't been crazy for this season's biggest movies.
But who cares? Studios are learning that a thumbs up from movie reviewers hasn't mattered much at the box office this year. That may explain why they're showing fewer films for the media.

Through the first quarter of the year, at least 11 films have not screened for critics before their release, the Associated Press reports. In the same period last year, only two movies didn't screen.

And when critics do see a movie, a negative review seems to have little effect on sales — especially for films with a built-in audience.

Take The Da Vinci Code (some critics would say "please"). According to the movie review site rottentomatoes.com, fewer than a quarter of critics gave it a positive review. And only 55% recommended X-Men: The Last Stand.

No matter. Da Vinci was the first bona fide hit of summer, opening at $77.1 million. X-Men's $122.9 million was the biggest Memorial Day opening ever.

"We make movies for people, not critics," says Jeff Blake of Sony Pictures, which released Da Vinci. "The best thing you can do is get your movie to the public and let them decide."

This year has marked some particular differences of opinion between the press and public. Mission: Impossible III got the best reviews of the franchise, earning a thumbs up from 70% of critics. But the $150 million Tom Cruise thriller has mustered only $116.2 million.

Akeelah and the Bee won over 85% of critics, but the Laurence Fishburne drama has taken in just $16.9 million.

"Critics' clout has gone down," says Harry Kloman, who teaches journalism at the University of Pittsburgh and reviews movies for Pittsburgh's City Paper. "With the advent of new media and the Internet, studios know they can reach the audience they want to reach. They don't need us for big movies."

Studio executives say critics still matter, "especially for smaller movies," says Don Harris of Paramount Pictures. "But you don't have to cater every movie to them. Some movies, like Da Vinci Code, are bulletproof."

Just in time for Horrorthon 2006


From JoBlo.com: "The Arrow recently had the chance to fly over to Japan to check out some of the filming on THE GRUDGE 2 and today Sony was cool enough to send JoBlo.com/Arrow in the Head the exclusive first look at THE GRUDGE 2 teaser poster. The film opens wide on October 13, and features lots of hot chicks and...well, creepy Japanese kids, I think. Either way, I'm likely to see it since it comes out around Halloween and I'm a big fan of that holiday. I'm also a big fan of strippers. That has nothing to do with this story, but there you go."

Hopes are dashed for Die Hard 4

From AICN, "Fox, in an attempt to always find a better director than the last time out, has gone from John McTiernan to Len Wiseman, director of the UNDERWORLD films for their next installment of DIE HARD... which is apparently being called DIE HARD 4.0, where John McClane comes out of retirement to fight a gang of viscious Internet Terrorists!"

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sly knows not to bite the hand that feeds him


Rambo IV

From Stallonezone, "After speaking to some contacts at Nu Image this past weekend production may begin soon as Sly is currently set to finish editing Rocky Balboa by the middle to end of June. At the Cannes film festival this past weekend producers from Nu Image were looking at possible distributors to carry the film. As things stand now they have been in serious talks with Warner Brothers since they had some success with the Nu Image film 16 Blocks starring Bruce Willis. They also plan to use many ff the international distributors which distributed the film. After seeing the script for the film distributors have show much interest although Warner Brothers still was pushing for a large scale action director to take helm of the film. Despite initially being turned down by Ridley Scott and Richard Donner Nu Image may attempt to go the extra mile in dollars and give Donner the chance to direct. Although Stallone signed on to star and write the script he has an option in his current contract to direct unless another director is found before two months of filming. In the coming days expect some major news on Donner if he accepts the position. In other news Ted Kotcheff has signed on as an Technical Consultant to the film where he will work on a part time basis with the film and assist Stallone in directing such a large action film.

In some casting news I was contacted by the agent of Mike Vogel who told me that as of now he has not signed on to play Patrick Merchant. Although my contact at Nu Image tells me it is imminent he as of now has not signed on. I did though speak to a representative of Jenna Boyd and she did tell me that she was in final negotiations as is Bruno Campos for roles. James Brolin, Kim Dickens, Avery Brooks, Linden Ashby, Ken Kercheval and Randee Heller have all signed on. Tony Burton and Larry Wilcox will not be appearing in the film as previously reported.

A friend of mine at Nu Image has sent me part of the script and I must say that I was out of breath while reading. Although I only got the first forty seven pages it is by far the best scripted Rambo film of the bunch. The first script written by Kevin Lund and T.J. Scott dealt with Rambo and his wife (also from the military) on the hunt for the kidnappers of his daughter. Although it was an ok script from what I heard it was very action oriented and had little character analysis. The script begins with the character of Patrick Merchant visiting the wife (Carrie Southworth on board to play her) of his former buddy who was killed in action. Following this he goes to an small diner located in an rural town of Colorado. Dressed in rags and wearing a military badge he is treated badly as his food is spit in by the owner. This scene in reflection of society showed a country which in some parts is not in favor of military men. Merchant attacks the owner and is sent to a small jail cell in the town while he await to be arraigned. Merchant has flashbacks of the death of his friend while in prison and the war crimes which he was wrongfully accused of. The first scenes of the film are almost identical to that of First Blood except these deal with the character of Merchant. We see Merchant as a quiet character who like Rambo in the original films was held accountable for a countries mistake (if you think like that). One scene during the prison sequence shows Merchant being victimized and beaten by fellow guards as Rambo was in the first film. The next day before arraignment Vogel is bailed out by the town Mayor when he found out that a military man was being held. In the biggest surprise of the script the Mayor is a character who was already in one of the Rambo films and played Rambo’s largest nemesis. This man now understands and respects military soldiers and lets Merchant out. Merchant says to the man “at least someone respects what I do” and he responds “well at one point I didn’t but a man a while back showed me how”. Immediately after these words the script goes right to a scene at Rambo’s new boat shop where he builds boats with his wife who is in charge of the finances of the company. Rambo now is much more subdued and has accepted and strived in his new life. He is a family man who has drifted away from the man that he was. His house features no military objects and there is no mention of his military background. In the scenes following this (I was told I could not spoil the whole script) Rambo has the ones things in his life that now mattered taken away from him. His daughter becomes kidnapped from a brutal cult military group which had already served time in the military. The main villain in the film (played by Bruno Campos) is a stronger villain then any other Rambo film. The way in which the stories of Rambo and Merchant connect is fascinating and truly great writing by Stallone and Jeb Stuart. Both of these men are fighting the same fight, one attempting to save his daughters life while one attempting to clear his name. The character of Colonel Keating is an ok written character but was a bit overused in the parts of the script which I read. Although we know he is after Merchant for military crimes he has about one hundredth of the brain intelligence as Truatman did and is overall a boring character. Unlike other Rambo films do not expect a headband and machine guns. This is a very different story. Although the script will have to be shortened (it would not be over two and a half hours) it was a strong piece of work which is by far the best Rambo film to date.

In some other news Nu Image has put “The Kitchen Boys” into pre-production and the film will hopefully begin shooting in January since Poe will be pushed back until next summer due to Robert Downey’s shooting schedule this fall. Stallone has also signed to appear in the final four episodes of “Brotherhood” a new Showtime series which begins airing this summer. He will play an Italian mobster in a war against the Irish mob."

Burk: Team Abrams On Trek XI

From scifiwire, "Lost executive producer Bryan Burk told SCI FI Wire that he will be part of the team developing a proposed 11th Star Trek movie, along with Lost co-creators Damon Lindelof and J.J. Abrams, who will direct. Abrams' longtime writing colleagues Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who co-wrote Abrams' Mission: Impossible III, will also be involved.

Burk said that he will be an executive producer of Trek XI. "We're all very excited," Burk said in an interview at "Destination: L.A. 2," a fan charity event in Glendale, Calif., over the weekend. But Burk declined to discuss details of the movie: "We actually have this thing where we're just not talking about it outside of ... us right now. And to say I'm excited is the understatement of the [year]. ... It's going to be pretty great."

Burk also dismissed earlier rumors that the movie would center on Spock and Kirk's first meeting at Starfleet Academy and their subsequent early adventures. "I can tell you that that article leaked out prematurely, so there's no formal statement made from any of us, other than we all couldn't be more excited about it," he said.

Burk also smiled when asked if Abrams' longtime friend and frequent star Greg Grunberg would appear in the Trek movie, as either a Klingon or a member of the Federation. "First of all, there's no way Greg Grunberg knows what the Federation is," Burk said with a laugh. But, he added: "When is Greg Grunberg not in a project that we [do]?"

Burk, Kurtzman and Orci have worked alongside Abrams on many of his projects, including TV's Alias. Burk is also an executive producer on Abrams' ABC shows What About Brian and the upcoming Six Degrees."

Lucas responds to fanboy bitching


Lucasfilm: Original Star Wars 'bonus'
Fans protest release of laserdisc prints on DVD
By Susanne Ault 5/23/2006
In the wake of extreme fan protests, Lucasfilm is positioning its release of the original ’70s theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars movies as bonus features.

As groused about on various DVD enthusiast Web sites, including www.thedigitalbits.com and www.hometheaterforum.com, Lucasfilm confirmed the studio is not remastering these early films. The prints for the Sept. 12 DVDs of Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi come from laserdiscs of the films released in the mid ’90s. This means that Episodes IV-V1 will be presented in widescreen but not anamorphic, thereby not making full use of modern TV screens.

Lucasfilm acknowledges that some imperfections are embedded in the prints, but director of publicity John Singh said the company felt there was little need to invest resources into sprucing up films that have already been restored to pristine form.

Special edition versions of the films with additions made by George Lucas were released in theaters in the ’90s and on DVD in 2004.

“We put a lot of time and effort into digitally restoring the negatives for the 2004 DVD releases,” Singh said. “The late ’90s theatrical versions represent George’s vision for Star Wars. We hoped that by releasing the original movies as a bonus disc, it would be a way to give the fans something that is fun. We certainly didn’t want to be become a source of frustration for fans.”

Although the prints aren’t in the best of shape, the masters used for the laserdiscs “do look good,” Singh assured.

Both old and new versions of Episodes IV-VI will be included in the Sept. 14 Star Wars sets, to be distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The revamped ’90s theatrical versions will be offered in anamorphic widescreen.

This release also represents the first time the movies will be available individually on DVD.

Fans have threatened to boycott buying the original Star Wars films if they aren’t cleaned up.

“These are the versions that the fans saw as kids back in the ’70s—this was how they grew up,” said Ron Epstein, HomeTheaterForum.com co-owner. “George doesn’t like these versions, and it’s not the way he wants his legacy to be remembered. But fans [are saying], ‘You aren’t doing us a favor [in putting out] what basically amounts to a laserdisc transfer.”

Aware of the uproar, Lucasfilm is in the process of directly contacting its upset fan base in an attempt to smooth things over.

Some fans had been speculating that Lucasfilm was saving its big gun efforts for the new generation DVD formats. But the company said that at this time, there are no plans to release the original ’70s Star Wars versions in high-definition.

“We absolutely appreciate the fact that these fans are so passionate,” Singh said. “It’s indicative of the fact that they care so much about Star Wars.”

Insert gay Batman joke here


I knew nothing about this...guess I've been out of the DC Comics loop for a while. I wonder if this "52" series is in response to how successful the Ultimate Marvel universe is.

From the BBC: "Batwoman Hero Returns as Lesbian

Comic book heroine Batwoman is to make a comeback as a "lipstick lesbian" who moonlights as a crime fighter, a DC Comics spokesman has confirmed. Batwoman - real name Kathy Kane - will appear in 52, a year-long DC Comics publication that began this month.

In her latest incarnation, she is a rich socialite who has a romantic history with another 52 character, ex-police detective Renee Montoya.

52 will be published in the UK as a graphic novel by Titan Books in 2007.

The series is set in a world in which established superheroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman no longer play a part.

Reinvention

The new-look Batwoman is just one of a wave of ethnically and sexually diverse characters entering the DC Comics universe.

Others include Mexican teenager Blue Beetle - who replaces the character's previous white incarnation - and the Great Ten, a government-sponsored team of Chinese superheroes.

Regular characters Firestorm and The Atom, meanwhile, have been reinvented as black and Asian heroes respectively.

The characters are part of a wider effort to broaden the make-up of comic-book creations in line with society as a whole.

Batwoman, who first appeared in July 1956, has not been seen since September 1979 when she was killed by the League of Assassins and the Bronze Tiger."

Note of clarity: This is Batwoman, not Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon. As far as I know, she's still crippled from injuries sustained in The Killing Joke and now plays the role of Oracle, the data-crunching computer geek that backs up the JLA. There's a new Batgirl out there who's someone else.

Avi Arad on Spidey 3, FF2 and the Hulk Sequel


'Kevin Roegele' tells Superhero Hype! that Marvel Studios' Avi Arad revealed some new bits to Empire magazine:

Avi Arad talks about future Marvel movies in the latest issue of Empire magazine. The article confirms not only that Galactus and the Silver Surfer are odds on to appear in FF2, but that the Hulk sequel in 2008 will be titled The Incredible Hulk.

Here is everything he says:

Spider-Man 3

"This is definetly a '3' in terms of scale. Movie one was origin, movie two was, 'I cannot do it anymore,' and movie three is, 'I'm powerful, what does that do to me?"

Regarding Venom: "I don't know about Venom, I know about Topher Grace!....The black suit is a metaphor for Spidey's mental state. In Spider-Man 2 we wanted him to put the suit back on; here we'll want him to take it off. He cannot be the Peter we want him to be unless he takes the suit off...."

Fantastic Four 2

"It's a couple of years later and we get to see what their life is like. What else is there for them to accomplish, what issues are in their lives, where's Doom?"

Regarding Galactus: "They'll be some pretty big surprises. What we're trying to do is not to show him, but to show someone else, initially."

Hulk 2 aka The Incredible Hulk

"It's still a study in anger. It's more a love story between Bruce and Betty. It has the feel of The Fugitive, and Bruce is on a mission to get rid of the Hulk. When you see the Abomination, you'll see something really special.

"X-Men" Makes A S**tload!


From Darkhorizons, "Move over Da Vinci and get set for an "X-Men 4" sooner rather than later it seems as Memorial Day now looks like it'll be the new favourite weekend to open films. "X-Men: The Last Stand" opened on Friday to no new competition, average critical reviews, scathing attacks from its comic book fan base, and one of the more widespread yet relatively subdued marketing campaigns for a blockbuster this month.

The results however paid off... big time. On its first day the third "X-Men" film garnered a jaw-dropping $44.1 million, the second biggest opening day for any film of all time, behind only last year's "Star Wars: Episode III" ($50.0m), and the third highest single day take (behind SW3 and Shrek 2) ever. The amount sits well above the opening day of "X2" ($31.2m) and is more than half again what "The Da Vinci Code" took on its opening day ($28.6m).

The super jump though wasn't going to last, on Saturday the film dropped 30% (every other film in the Top Ten gained 20-40%), but nevertheless still managed a massive $31.8 million. All up the movie looks set to earn just over $100 million for the standard three day weekend and around or over $120 million for the four day holiday. Without question it will be the biggest opening for a Memorial Day weekend ever (thrashing "The Lost World" with $90M for the four days), and its three day total will fit it at around the fifth highest opening weekend of all time position, right next to the last two "Harry Potter" movies.

This opening smash has sent some shock waves throughout the industry in more ways than one. Whilst industry buzz for 'The Last Stand' was mixed and surprisingly quiet, amongst the fan boy community there was a loud amount of negativity from hard core fans who loved the first two films and weren't happy with the way Fox was rushing the project and hired a new director to take over for geek favourite Bryan Singer.

Singer's defection from X3 to "Superman" lead many to speculate that X3 was rushed in order to beat "Superman" to the gate. The massive opening, and to a lesser extent the not too shabby reviews, must seem almost like a vindication for Fox chief Tom Rothman's decision to move ahead so fast. Rothman put the bottom dollar first over the wishes of the X-Men fans, and the results paid off big time for Fox in a big opening weekend at a time when the industry is more desperate than ever for them.

The downside though is a potentially quicker drop-off in repeat business due to the lack of that staple support. The big opening also goes to show that despite various comic book movies flopping lately, if there's a genuine big enough fan base there (ie. Batman, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, etc.) then the money will come raking in no matter what the quality. It also will likely cause people to up their estimates on the opening of "Superman Returns" in June, despite mixed reaction to the trailers and somewhat negative buzz brewing in the industry to the Singer epic. That may change depending upon how the first screenings go in early June.

The weekend wasn't only ruled by the "X-Men". On the limited release front, the Al Gore global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" garnered a staggering $65,000-per-screen opening day - easily the strongest average for a limited release opening this year."

No "X4" But Spin-Offs Still Planned


From Darkhorizons, "With "X-Men: The Last Stand" opening big at the box-office, speculation quickly arose that a fourth "X-Men" film may be rushed into development. The talk came despite the studios insistence that 'The Last Stand' would be the final film in the trilogy.

Well Fox are sticking to their guns, but Marvel head Avi Arad confirmed that there are no plans for an "X-Men 4" in the works, but their two proposed spin-off films are still very much on the cards.

Arad told the trades that "The first reaction, which we should discard, is here comes 'X-Men 4'. We're working on 'Wolverine,' which is definitely a continuation, and we have a very interesting script about a young Magneto".

Will Fox change their tune and pressure him for a fourth? Seems unlikely due to the expense involved. In many ways it now seems that "Wolverine" will serve as the unofficial fourth film sometime either in 2008 or 2009."

Fifth "Potter" Gets Some New Faces


From darkhorizons, "Casting is well underway on "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange was to be played by Helen McCrory, but she's had to bow out due to a pending pregnancy. At the time when her scenes in the Ministry of Magic were to be filmed, she would've been close to giving birth which would be impossible to hide.

Now, CBBC Newsround has revealed that the role will be played by Helena Bonham Carter. They also confirm that the part of replacement Care of Magical Creatures teacher Professor Grubbly-Plank has gone to veteran actress Apple Brook.

Jason Piper has been cast in the part of the Bane the Centaur. Finally, a flashback featuring younger incarnations of existing characters has got its players set - Young Sirius Black will be played by James Walters, Young Remus Lupin by James Utechin and a Young Severus Snape will be played by Alec Hopkins."

Friday, May 26, 2006

He say you Brade Runna

I found some cool stuff while hunting up Blade Runner pics.


V for Vendetta DVD details

Cheap one
From DVDfanatic,

"Warner Brothers Home Entertainment will release 2 versions of V for Vendetta on August 1, 2006.

The 1-disc version, available in Widescreen or Full Screen, will retail at $29.99. The 2-disc Special Edition, available in Widescreen only, will be available for $34.99.

They both will include:

"Freedom! Forever!: Making V for Vendetta" Featurette
Theatrical Trailer

The 2-disc will have these exclusive features:

"Designing the Near Future" Featurette
"Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot" Featurette
"England Prevails: V for Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics" Featurette
"Cat Power Montage" Feature
Easter Egg

Expensive one

Mark your calendars


From starwars, "To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Gen Con LLC will throw the largest party ever for fans of the saga, taking over the entire Los Angeles Convention Center in May 2007 for five days filled with live entertainment, celebrities from all six movies, special film and video presentations, an exhibit of movie props and costumes, exclusive merchandise sold at a 24-hour-a-day store, pop culture tributes, immersive events, costume contests, and scores of additional activities.
Star Wars Celebration IV will fill the L.A. Convention Center from Thursday, May 24 to Monday, May 28, 2007. Admission to the first day of the event will be for worldwide members of the Official Star Wars Fan Club, many of whom will help plan and run special programming themselves. The convention will be open to the general public from Friday through Monday, Memorial Day.

"Generations of fans have loved Star Wars, many passing along the 'Star Wars gene' to their children," said Steve Sansweet, Director of Content Management and head of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm. "This is the first chance to celebrate all six movies in the saga-George Lucas' complete story-as well as the vibrant future of Star Wars. If you've ever been to one of our Celebrations-or if you haven't been before-this is the one not to miss."

Celebration III, a four-day event held in Indianapolis in April 2005, attracted more than 34,000 fans from all over the world. "We started getting questions about a possible Celebration IV even while the last convention was running," Sansweet noted. "So we're determined to far outstrip anything we've done before, both in size and scope, as well as introduce many first-time activities and lots of exclusives."

Lucasfilm is also working on other Star Wars-related events in the Los Angeles area just prior to Celebration IV, "so we're expecting Southern California to become 'Destination: Star Wars' from the weekend before through Memorial Day weekend," Sansweet said.

The convention announcement was made jointly by Lucasfilm Ltd. and Gen Con LLC. Gen Con will once again manage the convention on behalf of Lucasfilm and the Official Star Wars Fan Club. The Celebration IV announcement is being made a year in advance to give fans worldwide a chance to plan for a week-long "Destination: Star Wars" blow-out in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is the ideal site for a 30th Anniversary convention, Sansweet said, since there are many Star Wars roots in the area. It was also the location of the first official Star Wars fan gathering, the 10th Anniversary Convention. Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977, on just 32 theater screens in North America, including Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

One of the highlights for fans at a Star Wars convention is the chance to buy unique merchandise, including an exclusive, limited-edition action figure. Because this has led to bottlenecks and long lines in the past, the Celebration IV store will be bigger than ever, self-service, well-stocked with merchandise, have plenty of check-out lanes...and be open 24 hours a day from the opening of the show on Thursday until the close on Monday!

"Gen Con is thrilled to be working again with Lucasfilm on this very special event," said Peter Adkison, owner of Gen Con LLC, producer of Gen Con Indy and other Gen Con events. "Together I know that we will produce a convention that will not only meet, but exceed, fans' expectations. With Lucasfilm 100% behind this show, it's going to be the biggest party in the history of the franchise. We are particularly focused on dramatically improving the selection and service in the Celebration store."

Stay tuned to starwars.com as your primary source for updates about programming, guests, activities, entertainment and exclusive merchandise at Celebration IV to be released as they are confirmed closer to the convention. Online ordering for tickets to the event and for discounted hotel rooms is scheduled to begin late summer/early fall. There will also be information on getting around Los Angeles, traveling to and from the Convention Center, and on shuttle buses available for convention-goers who are staying in the city."

Blade Runner finally gets some R.E.S.P.E.C.T.


From darkhorizons,"25 years on, "Blade Runner" will finally be seen as it should have been from the beginning. After years of legal issues and skirmishes, Warner Bros. has managed to sort out all the problems and is aiming for a September reissue of the remastered "Director's Cut" version, followed by a theatrical release of a version promised to be truly Ridley Scott's final cut reports Variety.

The sci-fi classic had a troubled history from the start: When Scott ran overbudget, completion bond guarantors took control of it and made substantial changes before its 1982 theatrical release, adding a voiceover and happy ending.

That version was replaced by the much better-received director's cut in 1992, but Scott has long been unhappy with it, complaining that he was rushed and unable to give it proper attention.

Scott started working on the final cut version in 2000, but that project was shelved by Warner soon after due to rights issues. The restored "Director's Cut" will debut on homevid in September, and remain on sale for four months only, after which time it will be placed on moratorium.

"Blade Runner: Final Cut" will arrive in 2007 for a limited 25th anniversary theatrical run, followed by a special edition DVD with the three previous versions offered as alternate viewing: Besides the original theatrical version and director's cut, the expanded international theatrical cut will be included. The set will also contain additional bonus materials."

I seriously thought this was a joke

"Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, the third chapter of the non-stop slasher thriller I Know What You Did Last Summer, on DVD August 1st. Directed by Sylvain White (North Hills), the film stars Hollywood’s newest "up & comers" including David Paetkau (Final Destination 2), K. C. Clyde (Friends With Money), Torrey DeVitto (TV’s "Beautiful People") and Ben Easter (Pearl Harbor). In this horrifying sequel, the legend has been passed on to another set of friends in Broken Ridge, Colorado, where a seemingly harmless prank goes unexpectedly wrong and leads to an accidental death that will haunt this group longer than they think.

In I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, a group of teens accidentally kill a fellow friend as a result of what was supposed to be a seemingly harmless 4th of July prank. As part of a desperate cover-up the friends band together and form a pact, deciding to take their secret to the grave. Little do they know that they really will be taking their secret quite literally to the grave as one year later their secret comes back for revenge. Can they figure out who’s killing them off one-by-one or will they be able to bury their secret forever? I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer has a run time of 92 minutes and is rated R. In addition to the DVD release of I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, SPHE will also release a Collector’s box set of all three films from the horror franchise, which includes this new film as well as the original two films:

I Know What You Did Last Summer starring Jennifer Love Hewitt (TV’s "Ghost Whisperer," The Tuxedo), Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Grudge, Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed), Ryan Phillippe (Crash, Gosford Park), Freddie Prinze, Jr. (TV’s "Freddie," Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed) and directed by Jim Gillespie (Joyride). I Know What You Did Last Summer is terrifying tale of a body that just won't stay dead. After an accident on a winding road, four teens make the fatal mistake of dumping their victim’s body into the sea. But exactly one year later, the dead man returns from his watery grave and he’s looking for more than an apology, he’s looking for revenge. I Know What You Did Last Summer has a run time of 100 minutes and is rated R.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Mekhi Phifer, (TV’s "ER," 8 Mile), Brandy Norwood (TV’s "Moesha") and directed by Danny Cannon (TV’s "Crime Scene Investigation"). I Still Know What You Did Last Summer is the screamer sequel to the blood-chilling box office hit I Know What You Did Last Summer. Remember Ben Willis? He’s the fisherman who killed the boy who was driving the car when it went off the road in the fatal accident that killed his daughter Sara. He’s the man in the slicker with a hook in his hand ready to exact bloody justice…and he’s back. It’s hard to forget a man who refuses to die. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer has a run time of 100 minutes and is rated R."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Monster is in the house


Monster House looks fun! Check out the trailer here.

Ghost Rider trailer


Okay, I've never understood the whole Ghost Rider thing. From what I can tell he's a skeleton, he's on fire for some reason, and his choice of transportation is a motorcycle. Beyond that, I'm not really sure what the deal is.

Go here to see the flaming skull in all his glory.

Octopunk adds these comments from IWatchStuff: "After watching the teaser trailers (there's both a domestic and international) to Ghost Rider, I've had a few thoughts as to why this looks like it will be as bad as director Mark Steven Johnson's previous films, Daredevil and Simon Birch.

1. Ghost Rider is stupid. The coolness of a skeleton on fire, riding a motorcycle with flaming wheels, peaks around the sixth grade, when a skeleton on fire with breasts, riding a motorcycle with flaming wheels, takes over as "coolest idea."

(Octopunk here, and I agree a million percent. I've always felt this idea sprang from the same aspect of the Marvel muse that brought us Silver Surfer, as in "Hey it's the 60's! What are the kids into? Surfing? Great. Then, in the 70's, it was "choppers." Yawn.)

2. The effects are terrible. I've seen a more realistic flaming skull tattooed on the forearm of a biker. Granted, the phrase "I'll Stab Your Mom With My Cock" written above it in gothic lettering made it somewhat less realistic, but you get the idea.

3. Nicolas Cage has given up as an actor. His willingness to make National Treasure 2 is probably the best indicator of this. The man has no interest in making decent films. And with the ridiculous mustache he's got in World Trade Center and the youthful, messy coiffure he sports here, it seems like the only idea they've come up with to make him better is gluing hair to him.

The only saving grace might be that, unlike Johnson's previous efforts, this movie isn't about cripples."

Cool poster


This poster for The Descent is pretty cool. From IWatchStuff: "When a group of women exploring a cave become trapped, they discover that breaking into spontaneous kissing isn't their biggest worry: it's some kind of creatures! I first mentioned the trailer here, and now JoBlo has gotten the first look at the poster. It reveals nothing about the movie, but provides the first realistic portrayal of what hell is like if your biggest fear was an orgy of athletic girls."

Creepy Pulse trailer


This trailer for Pulse (a remake of the Japanese film Kairo) looks pretty damn good, despite reports that the ending was Hollywoodized. Check out the creepy trailer here.

Star Trek Animated comes to DVD


This is great news. I have a good bootleg set of these cartoons and they're terrific. Go here for the dirt.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Again with the terrorists

From Iwatchstuff, "Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, Bruce Willis announced another sequel to the popular Die Hard was ready to start shooting and is poised to be in theaters by next summer.

"We're as close as we've ever got to getting Die Hard 4 started. It won't be called Die Hard 4 but that will be the story. Hopefully it will be out next summer."

Honestly, how many times can he be in the wrong place at the wrong time so that he stops a group of terrorists? There's only so many times it's feasible. At least for the Home Alone series, they switched kids after two of them. I'll believe there are several negligent parents of children capable of inventing elaborate traps, but there's no way John McClane is catching more terrorists. At his current age, it might be a better idea to literally make it about him dying. To show he's "dying hard," he can keep slapping the doctor's hand away from turning off his life support machine. And he'd make wisecracks about it."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Angels and Demons being eyed by Sony

From Comingsoon.net, "With Sony Pictures' The Da Vinci Code earning a massive $224 million worldwide its first weekend, Times Online is reporting that the studio is already looking towards a possible follow-up.

According to Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures, the studio is hoping to bring another novel by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons, to the big screen:

Tom Hanks could return to star as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who appeared in the book and will be the hero of Brown's next novel. Mr Blake said: "We are very interested in filming Angels and Demons. We hope that the relationship with Dan Brown will be a long one. That could be the next project."

Angels and Demons was the reclusive author's third novel after he gave up his job as an English teacher. It tells the story of Langdon's brush with a shadowy secret society, the Illuminati, and his frantic quest for the world's most powerful energy source, in the company of a beautiful Italian physicist whose father, a brilliant physicist, has been murdered.

"The Da Vinci Code" was Brown's fourth book."

New scenes shot for Superman II Donner release


"The Superman Homepage can reveal exclusively that Warner Bros. held interviews last month to find a double for Christopher Reeve for additional footage they are shooting for the special edition DVD of "Superman II".
It is not known if Brandon Routh was available or considered, but I was told that the scenes involved were only a couple of shots from a distance. The interviews were for actors not photo-doubles. It probably would not have been worth it for them to bring in Brandon Routh.

This Donner Cut of "Superman II" is being released as part of the 14-disc Ultimate Edition Superman DVD collection scheduled for release later this year."

Picard says, "Make it no"

From IFmagazine: "THE SKINNY: With rumors floating that J.J. Abrams is going to revitalize the STAR TREK movie franchise with a prequel, iF MAGAZINE cornered former STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION star Patrick Stewart at the X-MEN: THE LAST STAND junket to get his feedback on the recent announcement.

"Well, everyone is asking me about this as if I should know, and the only thing that I do know is that three or four months ago I got a call from agent in Los Angeles who said, 'You're not going to believe this, but we're hearing rumors from Paramount that they're interested in resurrecting the franchise,' and that Abrams particularly is apparently a huge fan of the original series and NEXT GENERATION," explains Stewart. "But I have heard nothing that has linked NEXT GENERATION to a possible new project and so I don't know. I'm not really thinking about it because it was a big part of my life for seventeen years and it's a little like a love affair that you've gotten over."

In some ways, you could say the divorce is final, though Stewart says that would be a bit of a misnomer.

"There was never really a divorce, but a separation really," says Stewart. "Still it's somewhat painful. I'm ambivalent about it. [The last movie] was modestly received although it made money and didn't lose money. But the studio then thought that it was time to say goodbye. We ourselves had been saying for several years that we didn't want to overstay our welcome. 'Let’s go.' So who knows. I will watch that space with interest."

And of course the big question – what if a script showed up that re-teamed the whole gang – would he do it?

"You can go on a forage for some things, and well, I just don't know if it would be good to do that or not," says Stewart. "I am very, very proud of what we did on that show. And every now and again I sit in a hotel room and watching the show on television and I go, 'Hello. I don't remember this episode.' I'll be sitting there watching and forgetting that I ordered room service and there's a knock on the door. I let the guy in and he comes he sees that I'm watching the show. He's going to go back to the kitchen and say, 'I've just seen the saddest thing ever. This guy is sitting there watching his old show.' So it was a great part of my life and I don't know if would be smart to put that space suit up again, but if meant being together with Brent [Spiner] and [Jonathan] Frakes and Michael [Dorn] and LeVar [Burton] – that would be brilliant because I love these people and I cannot see enough of them."

International Superman Returns trailer looks groovy


You now how you've always wondered, "What would happen if someone shot Superman in the eye?" Okay, maybe you haven't, but I have. Okay, I haven't either, but it's in the trailer damnit and it's pretty CG cool.

See for yourself.

Box Office


From Darkhorizons, "In spite of strong protests from Church groups, a 2.5 hour run time limiting sessions, and a flood of intense bad word of mouth from critics last week, that didn't stop "The Da Vinci Code" juggernaut from raking it in big at the box-office this weekend.

Sony's estimates have the film landing $77 million for the three days and many think the actual total will be a tad higher as it takes into account an expected big drop on Sunday that may not happen. Despite its wide release over almost 4000 screens, the film also managed to pull in a whopping $20,615 per screen average.

With only little buzz, Dreamworks CG animated comedy "Over the Hedge" managed to benefit from the influx of business as well, opening to a truly excellent $37 million and a strong $9,171 per screen take across just over 4000 screens. The WWE star Kane's new action vehicle "See No Evil" managed well, taking in just over half its $8 million budget on opening weekend.

The hogging of business by the new titles meant existing releases dropped all across the board including recent strong performer "RV" (down 48.7%) and other major blockbusters like MI3 (down 56.0%) and "Poseidon" (down 58.5%) - the former already considered a disappointment, the later one of the Summer biggest bombs.

Of the slips only two films managed to keep floating a little - dark comedy "Thank You for Smoking" (down 42.1%) and most surprisingly Lindsay Lohan comedy "Just My Luck" (down 40.7%) which opened horribly last week."

It's all happening


Head over here for more pictures.

Friday, May 19, 2006

OCTOPUNK'S BIG ADVENTURE


Hey everyone, let's not forget that Octopunk heads down to San Diego Legoland this weekend to compete for a coveted model building job. My glass is raised to you, Octopunk, go kick some Lego-butt!

Halle Berry is a dizzy chick


From Moviesonline, "So if you were to browse the news and come across THIS article and then maybe THIS one, you might realize it's the same actress talking about the same movie, yet she gives a completely different opinion on whether she would or wouldn't star in said film.

Obviously we are talking about Halle Berry and the "possible" fourth installment in the X-Men saga. It is being highly rumored that 20th century Fox has no intentions of making a fourth film (though a Wolverine Spin-off is in the works) so maybe Mrs. Berry's confusion is a moot point. Halle Berry plays the character of Storm in the hit films, filling an important role as far as fan-boys are concerned.

In one article Berry insists that should X-Men 4 be green-lit she would pretty much drop any other project just to play Storm again. Yet in the other she claims she would rather hang up the cape for good.

"I have got some projects now that should keep me busy for the next two or three years if I am lucky," she says in Article A. "It is a franchise that I love and a character that I love and now that I have a voice in the movie I really love it. If another great X-Men came along I could probably change my plans".

Yet in contrast during a X-Men 3 Junket she was quoted saying "I don't think I'll do this again or a spin-off because I do want to focus on other aspects of my career, and there are other things I want to work on."

Halle Berry has been known to hesitate signing on for the X-men sequels due to script concerns; in other words she wants Storm to have a bigger role in the films. Personally if Bryan Singer, or Brett Ratner said "Hey, Shawn. Will you be in the next X-men movie, playing this semi-famous Mutant from the comics (the kind only a fan-boy would recognize) for one small scene?". I'd say "I'm dreaming. Are you paying me for this or should I pay you?". Obviously Halle doesn't share my opinions on fame.

Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) is pretty convinced there will not be a fourth installment. And even if there will be it's going to be some time after the Wolverine spin-off. I think he sees it like I do, where while the X-men movies are guaranteed blockbusters, the time and effort to put them together can be very demanding on the actors and crew. Obviously the actors and directors are going to want to move on to new projects, such as "X-Men" and "X-Men 2" director Bryan Singer's choice to direct "Superman Returns" instead of "X-Men 3".

If that is what Halle Berry wants to accomplish, sure I respect that. But right now I think that she's trying to hint to 20th Century Fox that if they give her a (bigger) reason to return, she just might.

"X-Men 3: The Last Stand" slices into theaters on May 26th."

There's nothing like free advertising!

By C├ęsar G. Soriano, USA TODAY
In The Da Vinci Code, historian Leigh Teabing warns that revealing the "truth" about the Holy Grail will create a crisis of faith in the Catholic Church.
The "truth," of course, is that the story is fiction. But today's release of the big-budget film has prompted protests around the world.

Some have labeled as blasphemous the book's premise: that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had a child, creating a bloodline that still exists. It also portrays some members of Opus Dei, a conservative Roman Catholic group, as murderous villains.

In the USA, Christian clergy and scholars have produced more than four dozen books and countless websites to pick apart the premises of the book and film.

"It represents the most serious attack on Christianity I've ever known in 30 years of ministry," says the Rev. Erwin Lutzer, author of The Da Vinci Deception. Though some have called for a boycott, he sees this as an opportunity to talk about what the Bible says about Jesus. "Historic Christianity has nothing whatever to fear from The Da Vinci Code. All the good arguments are on our side."

But as Da Vinci opens in the USA today, protests have begun:

• In India, government censors Thursday cleared the film without cuts but slapped on an adult rating and ordered disclaimers noting it is fiction in response to complaints from Christians and Muslims, who had demanded a ban. India's broadcasting ministry says today's release may be delayed while disclaimers are added.

• In Thailand, the film opened on schedule Thursday after the government's censorship board overturned an earlier decision. But it ordered disclaimers saying that the film is fictional.

• In China, the film opened uncut Thursday, despite a boycott call by China's Roman Catholic church, which has no ties to the Vatican.

• In Moscow, Russian Orthodox protesters picketed theaters, denouncing the film as an "insult."

• In South Korea and Singapore, courts have rejected calls to ban the film, citing freedom of expression. The Christian Council of Korea is calling for a boycott.

• In the Philippines, where 81% of the population is Roman Catholic, Cardinal Guadencio Rosales denounced the film as "an attack on the divinity of Jesus Christ," launched "for love of money."

In Britain, a nationwide survey last week found that 59% of Britons believe there is some truth to Da Vinci Code; 36% who read the book believe the Catholic Church is conspiring to hide the truth.

"People are taking this stuff seriously," says Jack Valero, a spokesman for Opus Dei in London. "We don't take the book seriously." He says Opus Dei has received several inquiries from people wanting to join as a result of the publicity.

First shot from Pirates of the Caribbean 3

From Iwatchstuff, "Pirates of the Caribbean 2 hasn't even been released yet, and already what's being reported as the first shot from the third film has turned up online. In it, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow has donned what appears to be some sort of Asian garb, raising his scores in math and science by nearly ten points. We'll have to wait until 2007, the film's release, to see why his hat has a reservoir tip."

Watts Makes "Promises" To Cronenberg

From Darkhorizons, 'Naomi Watts has signed to star with Viggo Mortensen in David Cronenberg's crime drama "Eastern Promises" for Focus Features says The Hollywood Reporter.

Watts will play Anna, a midwife at a London hospital who gets dragged into the criminal underworld when she tries to discover the identity of a 14-year-old girl who died whilst giving birth.

Viggo Mortensen is set to play the mysterious and ruthless Nikolai, a man with links to one of London's most notorious organized crime families. His carefully maintained existence is thrown into turmoil when he crosses paths with Anna.

Scripted by Steve Knight ("Dirty Pretty Things"), "Promises" was developed by the BBC before being picked up by Focus. Shooting begins in November once Watts finishes Michael Haneke's remake of psycho-drama "Funny Games".'

See No Evil actually good?


The trailer for this looked very paint-by-numbers, but this guy seems to like it. From Ainitcoolnews,

"Boys-- This is kind of a weird question, but have you ever thought there should be a movie about a big bald retarded muscleman with extreme religious views running around an abandoned hotel banging people against walls and plucking their eyeballs out? If so, today's your lucky day, and SEE NO EVIL is your movie.

The retarded muscleman is played by Kane, not the rapper Big Daddy Kane but apparently a famous wrestler of some kind, making his acting debut. According to the credits he is playing "Jacob Goodnight," a name they unfortunately never say in the movie. Like the character, the movie is big, dumb, almost definitely using steroids, and also way more fun than you would think.

SEE NO EVIL is the first film from the prestigious WWE Films. WWE is what we used to call WWF until they got sued by the World Wildlife Foundation. I guess people must've been donating money to Hulk Hogan thinking he was gonna use it to save the pandas, but it all went straight into his 24" pythons. I was hoping the WWE Films logo would be accompanied by rockin guitars and clanging metal hammers, then it would explode and spray sparks and flames everywhere, and maybe some skulls and demonic goatheads. It turns out their film division is a little more high-minded than the wrestling division though, so it's a simple logo with the sound of an orchestra tuning. I mean I'm talking 100% class. Then the last shot in the movie is a dog peeing into a dead man's eye socket. By the way this review contains spoilers.

The victims/heroes of the movie are a bunch of tough talking twentysomething juvenile delinquents straight out of a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequel, brought in to clean up a filthy abandoned hotel as part of their community service. They are accompanied by two surprisingly lenient correctional officers, one of them being a kind of cool stoic cop with an artificial arm. This guy is the most interesting character and, of course, the first to die. (At first it seems like they're going for a funny twist where all the nice people die first and most horribly, and the assholes come out alive.)

The kids do almost no cleaning before they wander off to take part in various leisure activities:

1) Kicking back in unsanitary hotel rooms. They make themselves comfortable even though the walls are covered in filth and we keep seeing cutaway shots of squeaky rats crawlin around or roaches fuckin each other doggystyle.

2) Going up to the fire damaged penthouse to enjoy some of the ol' illicit drugs and/or sex. It is hard to say what will happen to these characters.

3) wandering through secret tunnels to find a lost treasure one character read about on the internet

For our entertainment, these activities are all interrupted by Kane, who will suddenly stomp out with a huge ax or a long chain with a hook on the end. A big bald dude just doesn't have the same iconic presence as a Jason or a Freddy, but he's a pretty entertaining villain because he really knows how to manhandle somebody. He is constantly dragging people by the hair or lifting people up by the neck, sometimes throwing people long distances or banging them against a ceiling or that type of thing. But he's bad at judging distances so his victims always get a limb or a head closed in the elevator doors, or he clumsily bangs em against a wall going through a doorway.

Sometimes he's treated like a t-rex, you hear him stomping in the distance. Other times he makes an entrance like he probaly does in wrestling. Like when he's behind a two way mirror and suddenly appears in a dramatic pose, silhouetted holding a giant ax.

Director Gregory Dark (WHITE BUNBUSTERS, NEW WAVE HOOKERS, DEEP INSIDE VANESSA DEL RIO, BLACK THROAT, BETWEEN THE CHEEKS... yeah right, like I gotta explain to YOU guys who Gregory Dark is) unfortunately slathers the movie in the obnoxious style some call "nu horror." Constant avid farts, whooshy camera move sound effects, random bleeps and blurts and buzzes and vibrating cameras. There's alot of Kane's-eye-view shots where everything is shaky and blurry. Ironically, the guy who collects eyeballs apparently needs glasses. One pretty hilarious show offy camera move is when a guy gets scared and takes off running with a steadycam attached to his face. For a minute it's like Spike Lee did a slasher movie.

Having one of the Dark Brothers (actually now days I guess he's both of the Dark Brothers) direct the movie is fitting because there's a theme about sexual repression. This Jacob Goodnight character has a corny backstory about how he was raised in a cage by a crazy Christian extra-super-fundamentalist mother who made him look at porn magazines and then punished him for it. A person with a more open upbringing would just go home and jerk off to a Dark Brothers movie but this poor bastard has to jerk off to a real girl locked in a cage.

So yeah, it's the same "sexually repressed killer gets riled up by teenagers screwing and smoking pot" thing we've seen in HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT movies. But there's a funny twist. This guy is so paranoid somebody might screw in his abandoned hotel that he has all the bedsprings hooked up to a system of strings and pulleys that rings a bell and tells him what room the fuckin is going on in. When it happens, he gets an outraged "What the fuck!?" look on his face. As if he never foresaw the possibility that these bells would ring some day. We have a code red.

As far as maniacs go he's kind of a lovable oaf by the end, and Kane sometimes does a good job with the facial expressions (thankfully he barely talks). Other times he does wrestling style "make sure the guy in the back row can see it" acting. When he gets mad he puffs his cheeks out like a cartoon.

Although the characters, dialogue, story, camerawork, etc. are all incredibly fuckin stupid, there are a couple things in it that could be considered clever, including at least two really spectacular death scenes. I saw this at a free screening that was mostly empty. That's something you don't see too much, 'cause people would watch a documentary about picking boogers if you gave them a free hat and poster. But this small audience laughed throughout the movie and especially at Kane's climactic, uh, smackdown. When I saw the ridiculous teaser trailer I thought this looked like a bad straight to video movie, but I was wrong. This is something you gotta see with an audience. Definitely the funniest and most consistently entertaining bad horror movie I've seen in a long god damn time.

I do have one complaint: there's a scene where the bitchiest character gets force fed her cell phone. Unfortunately, we don't get to hear the phone ring from inside her. It's obvious, but it's a wasted opportunity. It also would've been nice if the talk button got bumped inside her stomach and it cut to her friend on the other end saying, "Hello? Hello?"

That last shot I mentioned before, with the peeing dog, is a brilliant post-credits bonus shot. Except for some reason they got the idea that the type of people who would pay money to see a slasher movie starring a professional wrestler are not the same type of people who would stay and watch the credits. So they put it near the beginning of the credits, which kind of weakens the effect. Still, you gotta respect a horror movie that not only doesn't show the killer come back to life at the end, but also shows his mutilated corpse being crudely defiled by animals. Like I said, 100% class.

That said, I swear on Jacob Goodnight's piss-smelling grave that I would pay money to see him undead in a sequel.

I would like to congratulate WWE Films, the Dark Brothers, and everybody that goes to see this movie in the theater. That's what this world needs more of: heroes."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Re-Animator is in the house!


I really like the Re-animator movies. They're stupid but fun and they have a wonderful Bruce Campbell-wink-to-the audience humor about them. The direct-to-DVD 3rd film, "Beyond Re-animator was every bit as fun as its predecessors. I'll definitely be watching this upcoming film in a future Horrorthon. By the way, people, Horrorthon 2006 is only 5 months away!

From Horrorview, "Well how's this for a great chunk of horror news? One of my favorite actors has signed on to star in one of my favorite horror franchises!! That's right, William H. Macy will be starring in the next Re-Animator film, HOUSE OF RE-ANIMATOR!! Macy will be playing a U.S. President who drops dead, and his cabinet will summon the illustrious Dr. Herbert West to revive him!! This one sounds like it will be played primarily for laughs, but that's fine by me, especially knowing that Stuart Gordon will be directing this entry, with Brian Yuzna returning to the role of producer!"

Why fanboys get a bad rap


Damn, listen to the nitpicking complaints about the original Star Wars trilogy being released on DVD. Fanboys are never happy. From Aintitcoolnews,

"Quint here. No one was more excited than I was to hear about Lucas finally relenting and releasing the original un-fucked with Trilogy on DVD. I bitch a lot about the Special Editions and am very critical of the prequels and as a result I could never bring myself to purchase the SE STAR WARS TRILOGY DVDs that finally hit a while back, despite the gorgeous transfer. I found myself watching the DVDs and getting into the movies, reverting back to my childhood self and then being pulled out of the experience every time some cartoon abortion popped up for no good reason.
I have my laserdisc copies of the original films, so I just held out hope that Lucas would realize how much more money he could make when he released the Original Theatrical versions on a better format.

Now he has and I am thankful, although the more and more I hear about the release the less enthusiastic I'm becoming. Let's start with the DVD covers... they're terrible.

When you have someone like Drew Struzan at your disposal... someone who has done brilliant work on the most cheesy STAR WARS novel and did fantastic work on the '97 SE release posters, why go for that Photoshopped crap? Okay, you don't want to spend much money on this new release, don't want to pay for 3 more Struzan paintings... why not use original poster art? StarWars.com claims those above pieces are mimicking the original theatrical campaign, which is rubbish. If you don't want to use the obvious one-sheets, how about the lesser used poster styles for this Limited Edition release? Why not make it feel special for the fans?

But that's all surface stuff. The important stuff is the content. The releases are going to be the 1995 Laserdisc masters and The Digital Bits confirmed today that they won't even be anamorphic widescreen transfers, just the letterboxed transfers, which would mean we're not getting the full theatrical experience. For sound junkies there is no option to listen to a digitally remastered THX soundtrack. We'll get the two-channel stereo. I'm not a stickler on this one. I can't complain on this one. This is how it was originally released and on some films, like JAWS, I prefer the original soundtrack as the 5.1 sound on the first JAWS DVD sounded canned and just wrong.
UPDATE: I was alerted to the fact that all the original STAR WARS films were released as 70mm experiences during their releases, which would mean they did have a 6-channel audio mix originally, so the 2-channel stereo only option on the DVD just became officially ridiculous.

God, I really didn't want this to sound like fanboy whining, but I guess it is going that way, isn't it? I said that if Lucas released the original theatrical versions on DVD by themselves with no extra features whatsoever, I'd pay double to pick them up than I'd spend on a spiffy SE set. I just assumed he'd at least give us an anamorphic transfer for the DVD. As it stands now, the laserdiscs I have now are going to be equal to the quality of the DVDs they're releasing.
Puts me in a bit of a pickle. I'm convinced Lucas is just squeezing this release in while DVD is still going strong and will eventually release a digitally remastered version of the original cuts on whatever the next generation home video will be... blu-ray, HD, whatever. I'm positive of it. However, do I want to take the gamble that this will be the only way to own my favorite Trilogy on DVD (that's not a bootleg, of course)?

Oh, and before I start getting yelled at for wishing for a digitally remastered DVD because then I'd be wanting something more than the theatrical cuts... It's one thing to clean up the original film, it's another thing to have CGI creatures running around. Would you call that brilliant WIZARD OF OZ DVD transfer that came out last Christmas a Special Edition? No, it's just cleaned up and all the original elements were just presented as clear and beautiful as they were photographed to be.
So, this turned into a much longer rant than I intended it to be. What is it about STAR WARS that brings this out in geeks? Sorry about that. Believe it or not, I'm not complaining about the original theatrical editions finally coming to DVD. I'm very happy about that. I just have some problems with the release and felt the need to vent. I'm just getting tired of the way the fans always seem to be getting shafted on the original STAR WARS films. Lucas called the original theatrical versions "work prints" and it seems like he still feels that way. What do you folks think?"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New Superman Poster


I like the perspective. It's like he's saying "Look! Down in the sky!"

'Narnia' follow-up release moved to summer 2008


From Hollywoodreporter, "Walt Disney Pictures' follow-up to Andrew Adamson's blockbuster "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" has been moved off the Christmas 2007 release schedule to summer 2008. Disney rescheduled "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" hours after Columbia Pictures circulated an announcement Tuesday staking a claim on December 8, 2007 for the domestic release of its new fantasy fable "The Water Horse." Columbia's similarly themed fantasy fable aimed at family audiences pre-empted by one week Disney's "Prince Caspian," which had been slated for December 14, 2007. Both sweeping epics are produced by Walden Media and when left to open one week apart were perfectly poised to cannibalize one another's 2007 Christmas boxoffice. The perceived threat to its family audience during the frame was enough to make Disney blink."

More on that Wolfie spinoff


From Moviesonline, "With Wolverine being the most popular character in the comics, video games, and of course, movies, everyone knew "Wolverine" the movie was coming. It was only a matter of finishing the trilogy so that Hugh Jackman could take Logan to new heights of lone anti-hero action. "X-Men: The Last Stand" is less than two weeks away, and while doing the rounds, the hot topic isn't what Hugh Jackman will do next, but when.

Screenwriter David Benioff ("Troy" and "Stay") is hard at work penning the script. And, Hugh Jackman is doing in-depth research on everyone's favorite tough guy mutant with the cynical attitude and good heart underneath all that adamantium. According to what Jackman told ComingSoon.net, he's been digging into Wolverine's background in the comics, which presumably includes the story of "Origin" and possibly "The End." Here's what he had to say on the subject of the movie's current pre-production status:

"We have two drafts and David is going to do another draft, and then we'll find our director. I'm not going to make a decision until I have the script right, but I'll definitely look at Brett [Ratner]. I don't want Wolverine to appear to be 'X-Men 4' in disguise; I don't want to make it stylistically the same. I want to do something different. That's my idea. Until we have the script, I don't really know who's right, but there's been a lot of interest from a lot of really amazing directors, so I'm really excited."

The third and supposedly final "X-Men" movie opens May 26th for Memorial Day weekend to kick off the first half of this summer's superhero movie fest with the second half, "Superman Returns," coming a month later. "X-Men" is second only to "Spider-Man" as the golden titles of Marvel Comics and their mark on the superhero movie boom of recent years. The third "Spider-Man" of the anticipated trilogy is already on its path to being next summer's mega blockbuster, which leaves only "X-Men" to keep Marvel a heavyweight contender in the comic movie biz. So now, with the "X-Men" movie franchise coming to a wrap, the spotlight is being taken off the X-many and focusing on the X-one to keep things fresh. After "X3" hits, it will be time to work towards Marvel's film future, and "Wolverine" is it."

This Perfume doesn't stink


From AICN: "I just got back from a screening of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer and had a brief chat with Tom Tykwer outside afterwards. I have to say that as a huge fan of the novel since it came out nearly twenty years ago, I doubted that a good film could be made of this strange and recalcitrant novel...but I was more than pleased with what Tykwer was able to do with it. Obviously, there were some technical problems in that certain scenes hadn't been color-corrected, there was mostly temp music, and some scenes were even digital elements transferred to film for this screening, but all in all it was a fantastic success. It's a dark film, and I don't want to include any spoilers here because I think it's a film that needs to be experienced without knowing any plot twists (unless you know the book of course).

First off, it's a remarkably faithful adaptation of the book, with the very big exception being that the lead character has been humanized and is almost sympathetic, which i believe to be a good thing; it adds a poignancy that was lacking in Susskind's novel. The technical elements are excellent, and acting very strong across the board, especially from Ben Whishaw in the lead. The only false note, surprisingly, was Dustin Hoffman who seemed to be in a different movie.

Tykwer was humble afterwards, because I think the general sense from the audience (and apparently from studio execs that were present) is that a critical scene at the end is too dark and audacious for American audiences. But, hopefully, since it will be released in Europe a few months before we get the finished film here, it will generate enough positive buzz to keep American distributers from hacking the end before its release.

The biggest surprise is that Tykwer was really able to create a cinematic sense of smell. Through crafty camerawork and an intricate sound design, the movie absolutey transports you into Grenouille's world.

I know this movie has had a difficult time getting to the big screen, but Tykwer, who next to Lars Von Trier is - to me- one of the most interesting filmmakers working in Europe, really pulled it off, and I just hope that it finds an audience in the U.S."

Variety reviews The Da Vinci Code


By TODD MCCARTHY: A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international bestseller has become a stodgy, grim thing in the exceedingly literal-minded film version of "The Da Vinci Code." Tackling head-on novelist Dan Brown's controversy-stirring thriller hinging on a subversively revisionist view of Jesus Christ's life, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull, but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material; result is perhaps the best thing the project's critics could have hoped for. Enormous public anticipation worldwide will result in explosive B.O. at the start in near-simultaneous release in most international territories, beginning May 17 in some countries -- day-and-date with the official Cannes opening-night preem -- and May 19 in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Sitting through all the verbose explanations and speculations about symbols, codes, secret cults, religious history and covert messages in art, it is impossible to believe that, had the novel never existed, such a script would ever have been considered by a Hollywood studio. It's esoteric, heady stuff, made compelling only by the fact that what it's proposing undermines the fundamental tenants of Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, and, by extension, Western Civilization for the past 2,000 years.

The irony in the film's inadequacy is that the novel was widely found to be so cinematic. Although pretty dismal as prose, the tome fairly rips along, courtesy of a strong story hook, very short chapters that seem like movie scenes, constant movement by the principal characters in a series of conveyances, periodic eruptions of violent action and a compressed 24-hour time frame.

The appearance of its easy adaptability may have been deceptive, however, as what went down easily on the page becomes laborious onscreen, even with the huge visual plus of fabulous French and English locations, fine actors and the ability to scrutinize works of Da Vinci in detail.

What one is left with is high-minded lurid material sucked dry by a desperately solemn approach. Some nifty scene-setting, with strong images amplifying a Paris lecture delivered by Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) intercut with the Louvre murder of curator Sauniere by albino monk Silas (Paul Bettany), spurs hope that Howard might be on track to find a visual way to communicate the book's content.

But from the first one-on-one scene between Robert and French police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou, occasionally hard to understand), in which she convinces him that cop Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) intends to hold him for the murder, the temperature level drops, and continues to do so as the pair goes on the run to stay one step ahead of Fache while using their complementary specialties to decipher the meaning of the cryptic messages Sauniere scrawled on his body in his own blood before he died.

Part of the quick deflation is due to a palpable lack of chemistry between Hanks and Tautou, an odd thing in itself given their genial accessibility in many previous roles. Howard, normally a generous director of actors, makes them both look stiff, pasty and inexpressive in material that provides them little opportunity to express basic human nature; unlike in the book, they are never allowed to even suggest their fatigue after a full night and day of non-stop running, nor to say anything that doesn't relate directly to narrative forward movement. It's a film so overloaded with plot that there's no room for anything else, from emotion to stylistic grace notes.

The pursuit of a man and a woman barely known to one another was a favorite premise of Alfred Hitchcock, and one need only think of the mileage the director got out of such a set-up in films from "The 39 Steps" to "North by Northwest" to realize some of the missed opportunities here.

Temporary relief comes, an hour in, with the arrival of Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing, an immensely wealthy Holy Grail fanatic to whom it falls to explain, in unavoidably fascinating monologues, the alternate history the story advances. It is Teabing's thesis that the early Church, beginning with the Emperor Constantine, suppressed the feminine aspects of religion both stemming from pagan times as well as from the prominent role in spreading the faith he insists was played by Mary Magdalene, a role underlined by a close look at Da Vinci's celebrated "The Last Supper."

More than that, however, Teabing insists that Mary Magdalene, far from having been a prostitute, was actually Jesus' wife and that they had a daughter whose bloodline has persisted. McKellen seems to relish every moment and line, which can scarcely be said of the other thesps.

Given the widespread readership the book has enjoyed and the howls of protest from Christian entities beginning with the Vatican, it is hardly spoiling things to point out that the baddies here are members of the strict Catholic sect Opus Dei, including Silas and Alfred Molina's Bishop Aringarosa, defenders of doctrine determined to eliminate the threat to the established order posed by the so-called Priory of Sion, an organization secretly holding the "knowledge" that could cripple the church.

Even after the action moves from France to England, there's still a long way to go, and the final dramatic revelations, however mind-boggling from a content p.o.v., come off as particularly flat.

The darkly burnished stylings cinematographer Salvatore Totino brought to Howard's previous two films, "The Missing" and "Cinderella Man," prove rather less seductive in the largely nocturnal realms of "The Da Vinci Code." Hans Zimmer's ever-present score is at times dramatic to the point of over-insistence.