Thursday, August 31, 2006

What the hell ever happened to Hard Candy?


From Moviesonline, "Hard Candy is coming to DVD and to say it is a controversial movie is a huge understatement. We have the complete low down on the DVD extras for you. It will be on DVD September 19th. In this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller featuring Patrick Wilson and rising star Ellen Page, precocious 14-year-old Hayley probably shouldn't be going to a local coffee shop to meet Jeff, a 30-something fashion photographer she met on the Internet. But before she knows it, she's mixing drinks at Jeff's place and stripping for an impromptu photo shoot. It seems to be Jeff's lucky night. But Hayley isn't as innocent as she looks, and the night takes a turn when she begins to impose a hard-hitting investigation on Jeff in an attempt to reveal his possibly scandalous past.

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES

Audio commentary with actors Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page
Audio commentary with director David Slade and writer Brian Nelson
Deleted scenes
"Creating Hard Candy" -a "making of" featurette
"Controversial Confection" featurette – relates the controversy of the subject matter and the difficulties in trying to get this film made.
DVD-ROM Director’s Production book"

Optimus Has A Really Big...Gun!!


From AICN, "The infamous tfw2005 message boards have turned up a picture of Optimus Prime (as seen in the new TRANSFORMERS movie) totin’ a big ass gun."

"infamous tfw2005 message boards"? wtf?

Gilbert, are you real?


From Iwatchstuff, “The teaser poster for Fox Atomic's Revenge of the Nerds remake has been released, reminding us why we hate nerds: mostly their stupid glasses, but also how they're annoying and nerdy.
To me, the poster seems a bit outdated in its portrayal of a nerd. I guess it's hard to convey social ineptitude, terrible body odor, repeated references to World of Warcraft, and talking to me for an hour about the benefits of Linux in a poster, but at least try.”

Star Trek Reloaded


Star Trek purists, take a deep breath! On Sept. 16, the iconic ‘60s series will return to syndication for the first time since 1990, but with a startling difference: All 79 episodes are being digitally remastered with computer-generated effects not possible when Gene Roddenberry created the show 40 years ago. The news could cause Roddenberry loyalists to have a collective cow, but the longtime Trek staffers in charge of the makeover say they're honoring the late maestro's vision, not changing it.
"We're taking great pains to respect the integrity and style of the original," says Michael Okuda, who spent 18 years as a scenic-art supervisor on Star Trek films and spin-offs. "Our goal is to always ask ourselves: What would Roddenberry have done with today's technology?" Okuda's teammates on the two-year project are his wife, Denise Okuda, with whom he's authored several Trek reference books, and 14-year Trek production vet David Rossi.
The upgraded episodes — to be shown out of order and one per week — will kick off with "Balance of Terror," a big fan favorite "that gives us a chance to really show off the ‘new' Enterprise," says Okuda. "The exterior of the ship now has depth and detail, and it will fly more dynamically." (Click here for a larger version of the image at left.) Painted backdrops will also be brought to life: Once-empty star bases will have CGI people milling about, while static alien landscapes have been given slow-moving clouds and shimmering water. Okuda notes that a view of Earth in the 1966 episode "Miri" has been "replaced with a more accurate image, now that we've gone into deep space and looked back at ourselves."

Trek's opening theme is also getting an overhaul: The music has been re-recorded in stereo with a bigger orchestra, and a new singer has been hired to wail those famous but wordless vocals. And goofs will be corrected: In "The Naked Time," there was no beam coming out of Scotty's phaser when he tried to cut through the bulkhead outside Engineering. Now there is.
From Iwatchstuff, “Between keeping track of the reissuing the Star Wars films and their personal duties of repainting new uniforms on G.I. Joes, nerds just can't get a break when it comes to the renovations of their old obsessions. The latest to fall victim to the hand of progress is Star Trek: The Original Series (we in-the-know call it TOS, but quietly, so no one beats us up). Trek Movie claims the series will be re-aired with new CGI effects for the opening and outer space scenes created for HDTV broadcast. Great idea. Don't they know nerds hate it if you tamper with anything they have an obsessive following for? That's why so many have run away from home when their mothers replaced their Mountain Dew with Big K's Citrus Drop.
The studio hopes the updated effects will attract a younger audience, primarily by digitally replacing Chekov with Raven-Symone.”

He hated Wicker Man remake


From AICN, "I watched Neil LaBute's remake of "The Wicker Man" last night, and thought I would send along a review to you.

Right off the bat, let me say that I have seen the original 1973 version of "The Wicker Man," and I don't hold it in nearly in as high of esteem as other movie lovers. The film has a rabid cult following, and while I don't dislike the movie, I never really understood the praises heaped upon it. The atmosphere is creepy, the song-and-dance numbers interesting to say the least, and the naked tombstone straddling intriguing. But in the end, it's a thin story padded with '70s-era quirks, capped by an admittedly bravura finale. So the idea of a remake, written and directed by talented filmmaker Neil LaBute (I love every one of his films except "Possession"), didn't exactly strike my as heresy. I was actually looking forward to seeing what LaBute would do with the story in the 21st century.

What I was not expecting, however, was THIS, one of the worst films I have seen this year and a travesty to anyone who found the original even remotely interesting. The central plot remains mostly unchanged: Nicolas Cage plays a cop who goes looking for a missing girl on a remote island (this time off the coast of Washington) whose inhabitants are odd to say the least. The original's religious fanatics have been replaced by a female-driven society whose ancestors sought refuge in the 1800s to escape male rule and persecution. There are a few men here and there, all silent, kept around for procreation purposes. Instead of Christopher Lee, the leader here is played by Ellen Burstyn as a sort of earthly representative of Mother Nature.

I have to say that I really liked the whole male-female dichotomy going on here. It was a brave move on LaBute's part (and probably wise to stay away from the whole religious aspect in this day and age), but I think the risk paid off, resulting in a societal view rarely seen, thus making the movie more interesting.

So Cage goes looking for clues, finding even more mystery and questions around every new corner. And just as the cop's mind slowly begins to unravel, so does the film itself.

LaBute actually does a teriffic job of establishing an eeire and unsettling atmosphere in the film's early scenes on the island. There's something obviously off about the inhabitants, with their Amish-like garb and distrust of outsiders, but their behavior is never overly crazy. It's just damn creepy, and LaBute nails it. It really gave me high expectations for the rest of the film.

Unfortunately, the film is about Cage, and his character is right out of Script Writing 101. As the movie opens, his cop is unable to save a mother and daughter from a horrible accident. So he's got the whole troubled past thing going on. And he's taking pills, which means we're supposed to constantly question whether or not the guy is indeed crazy. The lame dream sequences and black-and-white crash flashbacks don't help matters, either, considering they take up about a quarter of the film's running time.

And that's the big problem here: LaBute has replaced '70s-era kitsch with tired and worn-out cliches. The script even throws in a soap opera subplot invovling paternity issues. It's all very routine and very annoying.

So I sat in my theater seat, twidddling my thumbs, anxiously waiting to see what LaBute had up his sleeve for the ending. Would he wuss out and change the original's jaw-dropper of a conclusion?

I should've gotten the hint that something was wrong right at the start of the last reel, when the movie suddenly abandons its modern dress and turns into what looks like a film literally made in the 70s. The tone shift is so jarring that instead of inducing fear it merely illicits giggles.

And then the ending. I am not going to reveal the remake's ending here. But let me say this: The last two minutes of this film are the worst two minutes I have seen of any film this year, quite possibly this century. What LaBute does is absolutely, positively infuriating to anyone who has seen the original. He just bends it over and rapes it while screaming out, "Who's your daddy?!" Apparently, modernizing a film means adding an insulting semi-twist ending that nearly negates everything you've seen before it. It doesn't even make sense when you really stop and think about it as the theater lights come up. And if you want to get really technical, this film puts the entire feminist movement one giant step back.

But I digress. The acting here ranges from good (Nicolas Cage) to fantastic (Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski) to awful (Kate Beehan, the young girl's mother). The same can be said of LaBute's direction, which is at times inspired, other times adequate. The score by Angelo Badalamenti is terrific, as always.

I know I wouldn't have hated this film as much as I did if it wasn't for the that final scene, and I wouldn't have hated that final scene as much if I had never seen the original. So if you're going into the movie fresh, you'll probably be merely disappointed. The rest of us will just have to weep at what LaBute has done to our collective memory of the original "Wicker Man." Thanks a lot, dude.

If you use this, you can call me Gandhiboy (You had previously posted a review of "RV" from me in April")

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Terminator Coming to Small Screens, From Future!


From Iwatchstuff, 'Following the likes of Wayne Brady and Carnie Wilson, the imagined popularity of the Terminator has earned him a television program. The story is set to take place immediately following the events of Terminator 2, just after the point where everyone stopped caring about the Terminator. Warner has announced that David Nutter will direct the pilot, dubbed The Sarah Connor Chronicles, early next year. With none of the original cast returning, Nutter is currently preparing by deluding himself into thinking that "liquid metal will always be cool."'

Well, this is embarrassing


In 2004 I started a massive spreadsheet to record all the Horrorthon movies viewed, who viewed them in what order, what the rating was, what year they came out, etc. I hadn't even entered all of our 2004 movies until I started updating it earlier this week.

I input all my flicks for last year, but two fewer lines than should've been filled were filled. As I scouted out the mistake, I discovered I misnumbered my movies on the Horrorthon Score blog last year. I jumped from #31 to #34, and thereby falsely boosted my total from 55 to 57.

I still won, but please accept my heartfelt apology for misrepresenting myself this past year. I'm sorry! And kudos to JPX for being only 3 flicks away from the top spot in '05. We're expecting big things this year, pal.

JPX not happy about next client



How come there aren't more posts? Because I have to deal with this difficult client today. Feel sorry for me.

Diagnostic Impression:

Axis I

Principal Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, recurrent (296.32).

Eating Disorder NOS (307.50)
Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia, in partial remission (300.21)
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, in partial remission (309.81)


Past: Alcohol abuse/ dependence, in full remission (305.00/303.90)
Cannabis abuse/ dependence, in full remission (305.20/304.30)
Cocaine abuse/ dependence, in full remission (305.60/304.20)

Axis II Borderline Personality Disorder (301.83)

Axis III None

Axis IV Relationship problems

Axis V 60

Nolan wants to ruin Batman sequel


ComingSoon.net sat in on an edit bay session with director Chris Nolan for The Prestige (lots more on that next week!) and the helmer talked a bit about both his blockbuster hit Batman Begins and its upcoming sequel, The Dark Knight.

Nolan said he was very surprised by Batman Begins' success, "for the simple reason that I felt we had really poured our hearts out in making a good film and that on our own terms we had succeeded. I never really expected to satisfy critics and Batman fans and regular audiences equally. I mean I thought maybe we'd get two points on the drawing board if you like, but the fact that all three seemed to respond well, that was a big surprise to me. I mean it felt like you were going to lose one aspect or someone… I think we were very fortunate in that regard, it's very gratifying."

Talking about the follow-up, in which Heath Ledger will play The Joker opposite Christian Bale, he mentioned that they're changing things up. "I think what people responded to well about 'Batman Begins' is how different it was from their expectations so I think we would be foolish to not recognize that and to [try to replicate that now predictable blueprint]. I think we'll be doing something very different for the sequel. I certainly wouldn't have any interest in trying to repeat experience or the formula we've made, because particularly being the origin story, it's a very unique thing, a very singular experience. My interest would sort of be to move on from that and to do something quite different."

The Dark Knight is coming in June of 2008.

I'm not interested in the upcoming Transformers movie


From Iwatchstuff, “Yes, another Transformers picture. Until they go ahead and release some actual shots of these f'ing robots, we're going to have to keep stealing these cheap glances at the figurative Transformer urinal. Or the literal Transformer urinal, if you're into that. This closeup is the first to reveal that the robot faces will look like a Sega Genesis controller.
The shot is part of new series of Transformer portraits called "Trapped In..." This, the first in the series, features Bumblebee trapped in a narrow mine shaft. Be sure to keep visiting for the rest of the series, including Jazz trapped in a well, Optimus Prime trapped in an abandoned fridge, and Megatron trapped in an abusive relationship.”

Britney Spears is dumb


From Thesuperficial, “Britney Spears has reportedly registered online at Petit Tresor for thousands of dollars worth of baby gifts, including a $1,200 chandelier for her new baby's room.
"Oh, it's not a fake, she's having a baby shower soon and has told friends that they can order gifts from the site," a source tells the Scoop, adding, "It's not like she's expecting her friends to buy everything for the baby. She's already spent like $30,000 at the store." And the accessories and furniture strongly suggest that, as rumored, Spears is expecting a girl: although the chandelier features little airplanes, there's a preponderance of pink and frilly goodies among the merchandise.

I was thinking of buying my baby a $1,200 chandelier too but then I realized I'd rather just tape some lightbulbs together and spend the other $1,190 on something more useful. Although I can't even imagine would could be more useful than a chandelier for a baby. Maybe a Segway for the potted plant? Some speakers for the fridge?

Eyeball posters are creepy


From Moviesonline, “A new supernatural thriller starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as Joanna Mills, a tough young Midwesterner determined to learn the truth behind the increasingly terrifying supernatural visions that have been haunting her. Joanna has made a successful career for herself, as sales representative for a trucking company.

But her private life has been difficult; estranged from her father (SAM SHEPARD), stalked by an obsessed ex-boyfriend (ADAM SCOTT), and with few friends, Joanna fears that she is losing control. She sees and feels the brutal murder of a young woman she's never met, at the hands of a heartless killer - a man who appears to be making Joanna his next target.

Determined to fight back, Joanna is guided by her nightmares to the murdered woman's hometown. Once there, she will discover that some secrets can't be buried; some spirits never die; and that the murder she is trying to solve may be her own.”

[Octopunk]: When I was writing flap copy for Viking Childrens' Books, one stock phrase it was always okay to end the blurb with was "for you and your family to treasure again and again..." or some such. You know, to invoke the idea that you'd want to take the book off the shelf again later. The phrase "...and that the murder she is trying to solve may be her own" is just like that. Stock. We'd use that one at Viking, too.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Star Trek has a new hat


From Thedigitalbits, "I've posted here on The Bits before that Star Trek: The Original Series (which was shot and finalized on film) is currently being given new high-def transfers by CBS for future HD syndication, as well as eventual release in the new HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats (click this link and slide down a few paragraphs for that story). Enterprise was shot on film also (for its first three seasons) and HD too (for the fourth season), and it was post-produced in HD from the beginning, so it's ready to go now. We also know that all of the feature films are being remastered for HD release. And Star Trek: The Animated Series was recently remastered in high-def (from the original film elements) for its upcoming DVD release.

Now... going into the panel this weekend, I was wondering about The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. All three of those shows were post-produced and edited in 4x3, standard definition video... but the episodes were all shot on film. CBS could, in theory, go back to the original film elements for those episodes, re-transfer them all in high-definition and re-do all of the special effects with new CGI at high-def resolution. The result would be rebuilt HD versions of the episodes. All that would be required is the will to do it and the money to get it done right. This possibility was discussed during the panel.

So here's where it gets even more interesting. In doing some digging with our industry sources over the last few days... I've found out something that's going to come as a major surprise to a lot of you. It might be one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood in recent years. Never mind The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager: It turns out that CBS Video, as part of their high-definition remastering of The Original Series, IS giving a lot of the special effects shots a new CG face-lift! Specifically, they're re-doing all of the spaceship shots. This to me is a very exciting idea... in principle. As anyone who saw the Mirror Universe episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise will tell you, the old TOS ships look awfully damn good in new CG. The replicated TOS sets, the original ship designs... rather than looking dated, they actually hold up VERY well by today's standards. Re-doing the effects will give new life to The Original Series and could help it appeal to a new, younger generation of fans. Unlike, say... the Star Wars films... the original versions of these episodes will always be preserved in GREAT remastered quality on DVD. And it would be extremely cool if CBS would release BOTH versions of the episodes on HD-DVD/Blu-ray, such that you can choose which version you wish to watch... the original or the new enhanced version.

Here's my concern about this... I've learned that, rather than going with a proven effects house, CBS has chosen to do the new CG work in-house. One hopes that they've got someone with REAL Trek effects experience and knowledge involved in the effort... and they they're taking care to preserve the look and feel of the original shots. There's also the concern over whether CBS will re-frame the 1.33:1 aspect ratio series in 1.78:1 for HD presentation. I tried contacting CBS and their DVD distributor, Paramount, on this subject last week, but there was basically no comment. I suppose we'll find out soon enough, but cross your fingers in the meantime. Any way you slice it, however, this is a very interesting development. By the way, if anyone at CBS and Paramount DOES want to discuss this issue now... you know where to find me.

As Spock might say... "Fascinating." Stay tuned..."

Why the hell do I keep printing stories about the Transformers movie?


Transformers Details Revealed

SCI FI Wire got a rare peek at the production of director Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers movie in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 26, including the first up-close look at the disguised versions of four key Autobots: the chartreuse search-and-rescue vehicle Ratchet, the giant black GMC 4x4 Ironhide, the sleek silver Pontiac Solstice sports car that is Jazz and the muscle-y yellow-and-black Chevy Camaro that is the new Bumblebee—so new that the car in the movie is a prototype for a vehicle that hasn't even gone into production yet. Ironhide had an Autobot logo on his tailgate; Ratchet featured a fire department seal on its doors with the same logo in the design.

In interviews with cast and crew, SCI FI Wire also got a preview of the film and learned a few key spoilers:

•The film will offer background about the origin of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. The plot will be set in motion when 18-year-old Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) discovers his grandfather's pair of century-old glasses, improbably laser-etched with a map and information about the location of a key artifact, the "Energon" cube, which he then tries to sell on eBay. The movie will follow five separate storylines, which will all converge with a final battle between the Autobots and Decepticons, starting at Hoover Dam and ending in an American city that looks a lot like Los Angeles.

•The film is seeking permission to be the first production to film the exterior of the Pentagon since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; the movie will also shoot in various cities, including L.A., Chicago, Detroit and Washington.

•The film will feature a top-secret military unit called Sector 7.

•Voice casting of the Transformer robots is being left until later in the production, except for Peter Cullen, who was previously named to reprise his role as Optimus Prime. In particular, producers wouldn't say whether Frank Welker, who voiced Megatron in the 1986 animated Transformers film, would voice the character in the movie.

•The movie will use a mix of computer animation and large-scale puppetry to depict the giant robots. Megatron will appear as a plane, not a giant gun, as he did in early versions of the franchise.

•The film's first full trailer will appear sometime during the holiday season this year.

Overall, director Bay told SCI FI Wire that the movie strives for realism, despite its cartoony origins. "I only wanted to do Transformers if I could do it realistic," Bay said in an interview. "And from what I've seen and what we've done with our digital studies, putting it in real-world stuff, that is lots of effects around that are real effects, that's how we make it realistic." When Bay got the first call from producer Steven Spielberg, he said, "My first thought was, 'Nah, I'm not interested.' And just because I thought, 'OK, how am I going to do a toy movie?' And then I realized, when I went to Hasbro, 'OK, start over and go for [a] realistic alien-invasion-robot movie on Earth.' And so, with that thinking in mind, that's how I went about it."

On a hot Saturday, Bay and his crew shot a scene on a blocked-off street in the heart of downtown L.A. The scene featured the four Autobots, accompanied by military crews led by co-stars Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel, and young stars LaBeouf and Megan Fox, who plays Mikaela, LaBeouf's love interest. In the scene, the commandoes see what they believe to be Air Force jets flying overhead, then realize that the coming flying machines are something else—Decepticons in disguise?—and throw smoke grenades to obscure their positions as dozens of civilians run screaming around them. Ironhide, the black truck in the lead of the column of Autobots, appears to collide with a delivery truck carrying Furbys (the talking furry animal toys that are also made by Transformers maker Hasbro). The truck is on a gimbal, which allows it to swing up and stand perpendicular to the street, as if knocked on its end. The idea is that the Furbys will be knocked from the truck, in flames, then activate when the Energon cube flies overhead. "We just wanted to have burning Furbys on the ground, you know?" Bay said with a laugh. "We're going to be blowing up a lot of little Furbys." Transformers is currently in production, with an eye to a July 4, 2007, release.

Hollywoodland might be good


I love the old 50s Superman show and I'm really interested in this story.

From AICN, "Man, oh man. I never would have thought it so – but here it is staring me in the face. I never would have thought this role was suited to Ben Affleck. I mean, where in his life could he have possibly drawn the experience, depth and pathos to play a mediocre actor, who’s downfall is that he is a product of his own success that ultimately has a love life that is far more interesting than his body of work? It’s just so clearly out of character for him. Come on, there’s no pithy, talented best friend. It’s nothing like him. Honest. He really dug deep on this one.
But the man certainly knows how to give his audience what they want. Here he takes a role in a film that involves him playing a character who in Act 1, Scene 1, has already had a bullet put through his head. Methinks Ben is catching on to just how much we like him. Seriously, if there’s an A-list Hollywood Star in desperate need of career resurrection right now, it’s Ben. With his last four theatrically released films being Surviving Christmas, Jersey Girl, Paycheck and Gigli, the guy needs a metric shit ton of cred to prove himself worthy of his success in the minds of many. Will playing a role so close to home pull that off?
Yes. Yes it will. Right from the get go, Affleck hands his haters a nice, hearty, steaming cup of STFU as he comes out swinging with what is easily the single greatest performance of his career. No. Stop laughing. I’m not kidding. He’s actually really, really good. The man becomes George Reeves – both in his off screen persona and as the 50’s era Superman. The cadence of his speech, the poses he strikes for the kids, the sharp humor mixed with a deep sadness – Affleck delivers a complex, layered performance the likes of which few are expecting and unlike anything he’s done before. Affleck acts in this as if his life depended on it, so much so that even his harshest critics are going to have to admit this is at the very least an above average performance.
I’ve gotta say, I almost, almost, almost absolutely love this film. I am so there teetering on the brink, ready to give myself over to it - but one thing keeps me from completely loving it. I’ll get to that later. Because god damnit if there isn’t plenty here to love. First and foremost the characters are amazing. Each and every one. This story refuses to let anyone be pure, pristine and blameless. Like the best of James Ellroy’s novels, everyone here, both hero and menace alike, are smatterings of gray areas. They’re all uniquely human, each character equal parts sleazy, underhanded, selfish, loathsome, fractured, and 100% understandable. No one is a cardboard cut out or a cliché. Even the worst of the worst in this movie possess deep motivations. It’s an actors wet dream and a pure treat for anyone who revels in drinking in character pieces.
And as impressive as Affleck is in this, he’s surrounded by a stellar cast who all turn in perfect, nuanced performances. Adrien Brody, the films actual lead, lives up to his hype once again, playing a flawed as hell headline hungry gumshoe only on the case to make a quick buck, and he does it with all the sordid gusto this film deserves. Bob Hoskins turns on the menace as the almost mob-boss-like studio head. And both Diane Lane and Robin Tunney each give masterful performances as the terribly flawed women in love with Reeves. No one holds back in this and there isn’t a main character in this film who isn’t performing at the very top of their game.
But unlike most character pieces, the film has a riveting storyline with a fantastic structure. Hollywoodland evolves with two different linear timelines, following both the last few years of George Reeve’s life and the investigation of his death by Adrien Brody. The mood is that of a hard-boiled, noir detective story, complete with all of the conventions you’d expect from that kind of tale. It’s a fascinating approach to a true life story that can only be compared to the work of the aforementioned James Ellroy.
The film builds perfectly, with each detail drawing you deeper and deeper into the mystery. As the various theories are laid out and presented, each version of the truth weaves the details of the crime together into coherent possibilities. This is a real life unsolved mystery, and the film knows it and never pretends otherwise. The writing is, at times, razor sharp, with lines that are sometimes funny as hell and other times amazingly revealing without much having to be said. The direction by first time feature helmer (but long time television director) Allen Coulter doesn’t hint at all of being either a first effort, nor that of a TV director. This is experienced pro level direction in look, tone and performance. An incredible first film, Coulter is clearly someone to watch.
All in all, I have to honestly say I loved every single minute of this movie. Every last one.
So what’s wrong? What’s keeping me from absolutely loving this film? The ending. But Massawyrm, you said you loved every minute of this movie. In fact, you said that, like, six sentences ago. Yup. Unfortunately, Hollywoodland ends. Abruptly. So fast you don’t even see it happening. It’s like a blowjob interrupted right at the end by a call from your mother. Right out of the blue, the film wraps up despite feeling like it’s about to go into the final reel. There’s no resolution, at least not the kind you’re expecting. I mean, technically there is, but it sure doesn’t feel like one. There’s no detectible climax whatsoever.
And I both get and respect why the decision to do this was made. Rather than falling into the usual trap of presenting its own theory about what happened, Hollywoodland wants you to figure it out for yourself. It wants to leave the final reel to you. Who did it? Was it really suicide? The movie sure shares a lot of blame, and while it doesn’t tell you for sure who pulled the trigger, it leaves you with a sense that there are actually many responsible, regardless of who actually finished the job.
And once the movie takes you as far as it is willing to go, it ends. And it’s one hell of a sucker punch to the gut. The screen goes black and your jaw drops. What? They didn’t just end it like that did they? In retrospect, I really respect what they’re doing here. But walking out of the theatre in that melancholic daze is never a fun experience. Especially when the movie really feels like a detective film. I mean, who ends a detective film without absolutely telling you who the killer is?
And that’s going to be the kiss of death for a lot of people. Movies live and die in their third act. And often they live or die in the last minute of the film. A great or terrible last minute can utterly validate or raze everything a filmmaker has spent two hours building. While the ending here is a bold choice and has the best of intentions - trying to send you out into the lobby discussing what really happened to George Reeves - a lot of people are going to be put off by the all too sudden fade to black.
Hollywoodland really asks a lot of the audience in its final moments, and if you’re the type of person who hates ambiguity, this is really going to get under your skin. Like I said, I’m almost completely in love with the film. But it’s one of those films that I’m going to have to revisit, prepared for the ending, and let wash over me again to ultimately decide for sure. Everything else in the movie is so damned good that I want to love it, and I know my disappointment stems from my expectations. Either way I have to say – the last moments disappointed me. At least upon my first viewing.
But one thing is absolutely clear. All of the buzz about this being the first Oscar Contender of the year is accurate. You’re gonna hear people bring this up over and over again for a few months until the season fully reveals itself. There’s plenty nomination potential here, and thus far this may be one of the finest made films released in 2006. This is the film that far and away puts Ben Affleck back on the map. Another film like this and his flagging career will be nothing but a memory.
Highly recommended for True Crime fans, anyone eager to see Ben Affleck prove himself, those who enjoy character pieces or those who love a great film and don’t mind an ambiguous, sudden ending. Not recommended for anyone who hates a lack of resolution – this is just gonna piss you right the hell off.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will."

South Park is torture


From WWTDD, 'While being held prisoner during his trial for genocide, Saddam Hussein is forced to repeatedly watch himself as the Devil's gay lover in the South Park movie. It may be the first time Hussein has ever seen his cartoon counterpart, since he banned the movie in Iraq for betraying him as a homosexual. South Park creator Matt Stone says:

"I have it on pretty good information from the Marines on detail in Iraq that they showed him the movie. That's really adding insult to injury. I bet that made him really happy."

I'm not sure how this is some sort of punishment, since everyone knows that people from that part of the world love a good joke. They love to joke around and have fun, those people. A glass of scotch and a hearty laugh is what I picture when I think of them.'

Leatherface is ugly


From Darkhorizons, "A new official poster has been released for "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning along with a new synopsis.

The original 1974 film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", shocked and stunned audiences with its bone-chillingly realistic portrayal [of how much Texas sucks]. The horrifying story, drawn from a series of true events [more accurately portrayed in the much tamer movie Deranged, but whatever], is considered by many to be one of the greatest thrillers of all time [really?] and a landmark of terror that has influenced countless films in its wake [actually, the number is six]. Iconic in popular culture, its menacing evil character, Leatherface, will forever be one of the most recognizable screen villains [right after Rebecca Gayheart in Urban Legends].

With 2003's remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", starring Jessica Biel, the filmmakers at Platinum Dunes brought new life and vigor to the horror movie genre [thanks to the white tank top and tight jeans Biel sported], while also honoring its predecessor. Now the company continues on that path with a startling prequel, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning", which details the beginnings of the Hewitt clan and exposes their psychotic idea of family fun [all that yelling and carrying on? They don't look like they're having fun]."

[Bracketed stuff added later by Octopunk,] because I freakin' hate ad copy. I used to write it for children's books, and it's such crap. Stick adjective A into slot B. I mean "iconic in popular culture"? Bleah.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Driving Lessons Trailer Seems Familiar

Driving Lessons Trailer

From Iwatchstuff, "The trailer for Driving Lessons has been released, giving the redhead kid from Harry Potter one more shot at acting before turning to drugs and pornography. The plot involves a shy, dweeby boy who becomes best friends with an eccentric old woman as they spend their days together. Legal constraints must have stopped them from actually calling it Harold and Maude, but it luckily still fulfills the fantasies of those with an Oedipus complex."



Shot from Harold and Maude

Blow the force


From X-entertainment, "Born into a family with three much older moviegoing brothers, I was taught the ways of The Force from very early on. I used this so-called "Force" to make my parents buy me every Star Wars toy, game, doodad and gizmo I could find. Somehow, the official Star Wars tissue brand eluded me.The Puffs Company hooked up with George and an Ugnaught to provide The Empire Strikes Back Puffs tissues, which were just your ordinary everyday Puffs tissues…in a cooler box. Actually, there were several ESB boxes available, depicting everything from a Dagobah scene to an AT-AT onslaught on Hoth. I guess you bought the Dagobah tissues when you had one of those really mindfuckingly contemplative flus, and the AT-AT attack box when you just had to viciously sneeze constantly.

Though unmentioned in the commercial from which the screengrabs above were taken, each box had a cutout character poster on the bottom. The posters were left uncolored — that task was left for any kids brave enough to try to color in laminated cardboard with a Crayola crayon. Shit don't work, son.

While the television commercial is technically an '80s ad, its motif is far more similar to the many Star Wars toy commercials of the '70s, where the featured product was given a back-seat, so a kid with limited vocational skills could say more in thirty-seconds than John Moschitta Jr. ever did. In the case of the Puffs commercial, at least he's sharing the wordcount with an actress playing his Maw, and later, with C-3P0 and R2-D2. No, really.

First, the mother stuff. She walks in, and the kid's obviously sick, but he wants to play football, so he's acting all bitchy about it. Mom knows just what to do. Yanking a box of Star Wars Puffs from thin air, the child accepts his fate gracefully, apparently believing that being stuck inside sick with a Star Wars tissue box is better than being outside playing with friends. It's not that I don't wholeheartedly agree, but it's hard to imagine a kid who liked football shaking on a deal like this. The football kids were better than us, see.

Quickly losing himself in a sea of Star Wars, the kid's bedroom turns into outer space, and C-3P0 and R2-D2 appear, evidently able to walk around outer space as if it had full gravity and a system of invisible sidewalks. The Droids never address our snot-ridden hero directly, making obvious the fact that we're reusin' some of that fancy green screen footage shot for the film here.

Returning to reality as his mother reenters the room, the child is now a huge proponent of having a cold, and he "can't wait to sneeze again!"

Wait until he notices the cutout poster on the bottom of the box. Boy's gonna piss himself."

The MPAA continues to have a stick up its ass


From Bloodydisgusting, "It was announced yesterday that Lionsgate was planning on attaching the entire first scene of their film Saw III to the feature prints of Crank on September 1st, but the footage proved too intense for exhibition (yes, you can blame the MPAA). We've been informed that Lionsgate is investigating an AgeGate/age appropriate online outlet to debut the footage. One way or another, you fans are going to get what you want... more blood. Check out Saw III in theaters October 27th."

Little Children Trailer is stressful

Little Children trailer

From Iwatchstuff, "The trailer for Little Children looks pretty intense, showing two strained relationships that are about to explode like a metaphorical train wreck. I was able to derive this from the images of troubled relationships and hinted romances accompanied by the steady soundtrack of an oncoming train. It was the same way I was able to recognize my grandma's death as a madcap, goofy ride from the sounds surrounding her, which left me with a confused feeling. Why did she have to die watching The Benny Hill Show? Why was the wacky, sped-up pursuit of a beautiful woman so hilarious, even in this time of crisis? And who had stabbed my grandma?

The movie, by the Academy Award nominated director of In the Bedroom, Todd Field, stars Academy Award nominee Kate Winslet, Academy Award winner Jennifer Connelly, and Patrick Wilson, a good-for-nothing nobody."

Children of Men, Poster of Fetus


From Iwatchstuff, "The new movie Children of Men shows us what a mistake it was to let women get jobs. First it's wanting to work, then it's wanting to control their childbirthin', then it's losing the biological ability to reproduce, starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine. In this new poster, we also see the mistake in the pro-life argument: an early human fetus is basically a cocktail shrimp with ears. Let's face it, life doesn't start until you've tried the appetizer sampler at Applebee's. Dee-lish."

Yawn, Box Office


From Moviesonline, "Hope you are all having a good Sunday because it's time to take a look at the box office results for the weekend. Everyone must be reved up for football season [God no] because Mark Whalberg's football drama was apparently the movie to see this weekend. Although I suppose there really wasn't much competition. That's right, folks: the summer season is over. Say goodbye to the big blockbusters, and say hello to the movies that were not good enough for the summer, and certainly not ready for the holiday season. However I have to give some props to the comedy troupe Broken Lizard with their feature "BeerFest" which actually turned out to be the highlight of my Saturday evening. "Beerfest: came in 4th this week. This weekend also saw the release of Outkast rap/blues musical "Idlewild" which has likely been in the can for 2 years for good reason. If it takes this long for a movie to come out you have to realize it's not because they think that only a future audience is going to appreciate how good it is.

Invincible / $17,029,000 / Reviews
Talladega Nights / $8,000,000 / Reviews
Little Miss Sunshine / $7,500,000 / Reviews
Beerfest / $6,500,000
Accepted / $6,476,000
World Trade Center / $6,393,000 / Reviews
Step Up / $6,187,000
Idlewild / $5,892,000 / Reviews
Snakes on a Plane / $5,860,000 / Reviews
Barnyard / $5,433,000

Talking about the upcoming movies just isn't as fun anymore. There are no more pirates, or impossible missions, or even snakes on a plane to be excited about. There are some worthy movies of note next week, but we're going to be in a slump for the next few afterwards. The independant film "This Film is Not Yet Rated" is going to be the one to catch, especially if you have any interest in the movie rating system at all. Want to know why movies get the R rating or even the dreaded X? This is a movie that fights back against the mysterious organization of the MPAA, and I can't wait to check it out. Nick Cage's "Wickerman" also releases next week, but I've already heard my fair share of bad reviews to lose interest. After I've seen "Rated" I think I would rather spend my money on the yearly Jason Stathom action flick. This year we get "Crank" where we see Jason play a hit man who has been given a deadly poison that will kill him if he doesn't keep his adrenaline up. It's one of those plots that just screams "We have boat loads of action in this movie!" so it better be worth the hype."

The SCI FI Channel continues to blow


From darkhorizons, "Though SCI FI Channel has cancelled the long-running series "Stargae: SG-1", the show's producers are hard at work looking for a new outlet for the story to continue says GateWorld.

"As far as the future I can't comment yet because nothing has been confirmed. What we want to emphasize is that the franchise is not dying. SG-1 will go on in some way. We're just not ready to announce how" says executive producer Robert C. Cooper.

Cooper also emphasizes that "What's most important is that fans don't take out their frustration with Sci-Fi by not watching. In fact, what they need to do is watch both SG-1 and Atlantis LIVE and make sure the ratings stay strong. That helps prove to other outlets that might be interested in SG-1 that the show is still as strong as we think it is".

A formal announcement from the studio and the network is expected next week."

Big surprise, Spider-Man 3 will not be the last in the franchise


From Darkhorizons, 'Marvel's new CEO Kevin Feige recently told MTV News that "Spider-Man 3" is certainly not the end for that venerable film franchise.

"There will be many more Spider-Man films to come. We already have stacks of ideas for the next one because of the wealth of stories in the comics. We could be making Spider-Man movies for the next 20 years, based on the 50 years of Spider-Man history we have"

Will the same people be involved though? He was more cryptic on that front - "When you're concentrating on one movie at a time, there's a beginning and a middle and an end to that process. We've been topping each one as they go, [and if that happens again], that's the time for those discussions".'

Please just get rid of Kirsten Dunst.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Romero's next "dead" sequel sounds kind of dumb


The dead are rising again.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that horror maven George A. Romero has signed on to write and direct "George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead," the latest sequel to his 1968 cult classic "Night of the Living Dead."

With a story mixing elements of "The Blair Witch Project" and the long-running "Dead" series, the film will follow a group of college students shooting a horror movie in the woods who stumble upon a real zombie uprising. When the onslaught begins, they seize the moment as any good film students would, capturing the undead in a "cinema verite" style that causes more than the usual production headaches.

After going more than two decades without making an independently financed zombie film, Romero told his production partner Peter Grunwald he was frustrated working within the system. "I was trying to convince Peter we could just run off and do it ourselves," he said.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Everything old is new again, briefly. Then it's old again.


Horrorthon 2006! It's coming to get you!

In preparation, I'm putting a plan in motion to post all of our 2004 reviews that we just emailed to each other in the pre-blog era. The only problem is this: I can't access Yahoo from work, just my Mac, and only my work PC's Internet Explorer blogger setup lets me back-date posts. For those of you on the east coast, it means old reviews will be parked up top each day I do this until I can get to work and change 'em. (Right now I'm eating lunch at a Mexican restaurant I just discovered whose upstairs neighbors have a wireless hookup, hee hee.) Anyway, here's my final review from 2004, movie # 98. Which I believe is still the Horrorthon record.

Who's got the moxie to knock me off this mountain? C'mon, go for it!

Twenty minutes later, back at work

Okay, I did it. Switched the date. If you look at the Archives section (which for some annoying reason is showing up at the bottom of the page on my work PC, instead of the top), you'll now see there's a November 2004. Awwww yeaahh. If you want to read my Ring review, click here.
My new favorite show

I don't even remember how I stumbled into Little Britain but I haven't stopped laughing since. The Lou and Andy skits are particularly hilarious. Andy is the wheelchair-bound guy that's always taking advantage of Lou's kindness. "Yeah I know" is probably the most frequently spoken quote in our household these days. I'd highly recommend Netflixing. (Season 2 is better than 1)

Astronomers say Pluto is not a planet, Pluto pissed


PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) — Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.
After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, the International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is — and isn't — a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

Although astronomers applauded after the vote, Jocelyn Bell Burnell — a specialist in neutron stars from Northern Ireland who oversaw the proceedings — urged those who might be "quite disappointed" to look on the bright side.

"It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called 'planet' under which the dwarf planets exist," she said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella.

The decision by the prestigious international group spells out the basic tests that celestial objects will have to meet before they can be considered for admission to the elite cosmic club.

For now, membership will be restricted to the eight "classical" planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Much-maligned Pluto doesn't make the grade under the new rules for a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

Instead, it will be reclassified in a new category of "dwarf planets," similar to what long have been termed "minor planets." The definition also lays out a third class of lesser objects that orbit the sun — "small solar system bodies," a term that will apply to numerous asteroids, comets and other natural satellites.

It was unclear how Pluto's demotion might affect the mission of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which earlier this year began a 9½-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

The decision at a conference of 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries was a dramatic shift from just a week ago, when the group's leaders floated a proposal that would have reaffirmed Pluto's planetary status and made planets of its largest moon and two other objects.

That plan proved highly unpopular, splitting astronomers into factions and triggering days of sometimes combative debate that led to Pluto's undoing.

Now, two of the objects that at one point were cruising toward possible full-fledged planethood will join Pluto as dwarfs: the asteroid Ceres, which was a planet in the 1800s before it got demoted, and 2003 UB313, an icy object slightly larger than Pluto whose discoverer, Michael Brown of the California Institute of Technology, has nicknamed Xena.

Charon, the largest of Pluto's three moons, is no longer under consideration for any special designation.

Castle Dracula


This is a long, but really funny recollection of an amusement park haunted house that no longer exists - worth the read. Come on, you got the time. Yes you do. Oh fine, well I thought it was funny.

From X-entertainment, "I was going to save this for Halloween, but it can't wait. Longtime readers know of my fascination and love for a small but substantial beach/boardwalk community called Wildwood, located in as South Jersey as South Jersey gets. It's a magical place that I've been to with family and friends, year after year since I was literally just a baby. Sadly, I haven't been there for a few years now, either because I'm too old or because it's gotten too expensive or because it's changed so much, the excuses rotating from season to season. Sure, it ain't what it used to be, but even if it's half of what it used to be, I really should go back. It's always been my home away from home.

Still, there's a more genuine reason why I've been reluctant to return. There's this "Castle Dracula" amusement ride, which had been there for decades, and if you count older versions of the ride where it wasn't so Dracula-themed, parts of it had been standing for nearly a century. I loved Castle Dracula so, so much. In 2002, a couple of teenagers snuck into the thing during Wildwood's off-season (where it's a comparable ghost town), somehow managing to set the place ablaze using crude torches. Whether they meant to do it or not, I think it's pretty clear that somehow, someday, I'm going to have to find these kids and destroy them. The end result was a positively ruined and unsalvageable Castle Dracula that had its remnants smashed and cleared away by a wrecking crew, never to return. I don't know if I want to ever see the spot where it once stood. It'll hurt me much more than any missing amusement ride should.

In lieu of driving two hours to hold a candlelight vigil, I'll pay my respects with this article. Most of you have not seen Castle Dracula, much less heard about it outside of a couple of references in very old X-E articles. Bear with me on this, please. Sometimes, I gotta do one just for me."

Go here for hilarity:

Automaton Transfusion looks disgusting


In the recent rash of zombie films in Hollywood, I've been dying for something fresh, Steven C. Miller's Automaton Transfusion is that breathe of fresh air. I swear to you all that Miller delivers one of the best zombie films I've seen in decades! In the film shot for only $30,000, three teens find themselves in a town over run with zombies. Deciding to fight back, they go on a punch you in the throat, action packed, non stop ride through the city, woods, and schools.

Christopher Nolan decides to make Batman sequel not sucky



From Moviesonline, "Christopher Nolan has made it clear that the new "Batman" film franchise will not bring Robin into the mythology as long as he is directing, apparently having stated that Robin is in a crib somewhere still and the timeline isn't appropriate for him to enter the picture. To some this may come as a relief. But, there are many Robin fans out there who believe Robin, particularly Dick Grayson, who grows up to become Nightwing, plays a pivotal role in the Dark Knight's tale. Though the Boy Wonder was introduced as a means to draw younger comic readers to "Batman" in the 1940s, Robin has become much more than a cheap gimmick or a mere sidekick as some continue to believe he is.

As Dick Grayson grew up, he provided a brilliant counterbalance to Bruce Wayne, showing a contrast in the parallels of their orphaned circumstances where the superhero Robin was the mask for the boy Dick Grayson but the man Bruce Wayne is the mask for the superhero Batman. Some experts on the yin-yang complementary dynamics between Batman and Dick Grayson's Robin cite the first Boy Wonder's closeness to Bruce Wayne as one of the only things that humanizes him as he is one of the only people as close as Alfred to the lone Caped Crusader.

Often when fans think of Robin these days, one of two images comes to mind. The first would be the 1960s Robin, Burt Ward, with the "Holy [fill in the blank], Batman" campiness, but the 60s "Batman" television series was never actually meant to represent the comic in its truest form but parody it and superhero comics themselves. The second image would be of the Robin (Chris O'Donnell) from the Joel Schumacher films, "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin," generally considered to be two of the absolute worst superhero movies ever made, particularly the latter. But, this Robin was not really Dick Grayson, despite the character going by that name.

The Robin of the 90s movies was much closer to the Robin that was Jason Todd in the comics, considered one of the worst mistakes ever made in comics and somehow his character was translated to film as a vision of Dick Grayson's Robin. Jason Todd was the replacement for Dick Grayson once he left Batman and became Nightwing. While Jason Todd's character has resurfaced in the "Batman" comics mythology with a cult following of his own, he is usually regarded as the least like a Robin to ever be a Robin. And, there have been a few Robins since Dick Grayson, but Dick Grayson will always be the first and the true Robin to many.

This brings the point of Robin's role in the films full circle. If Nolan intends to explore Batman's origins and the beginnings of the characters that surround him, such as Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Dent, and The Joker, then it stands to reason that Dick Grayson is wandering around this universe somewhere. The pity is that if anyone could present Dick Grayson as he was always meant to be seen, it would be Nolan. The quality of Nolan's cinematic vision for Batman is equivalent to Frank Miller's comic vision for Batman. It is a darker world that is sensible and without the camp that has made some of the Batman characters a joke like Robin seems to have become when translated to screen from the inked page.

If Nolan can work in a little kid on a fire escape and on the streets in the Narrows, then he could certainly just lay the foundation for a world where even an infant Dick Grayson exists. The Flying Graysons were Dick's parents, and even a mention of them, direct or indirect, could set the stage for a larger story, perhaps even a spin-off down the line. If Nolan had the inclination, he could make the Robin that fans would actually want to see. Or, perhaps even a film about Nightwing. It's interesting to ask the question "What if..." when there is someone at the helm who could do the material serious justice. If Nolan believes Robin is too far off in the future to even glance in that direction, then that might just be a big loss to the Robin/Nightwing fans out there, as he is probably the most promising director to date who has proven he has the capabilities to do the original Robin right."

Why did Snakes on a Plane bomb?


By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
The problem with naming your film Snakes on a Plane is that if the movie goes belly up, that great title suddenly becomes a liability.
After the movie's $15.2 million debut last weekend, pundits had a field day: "All hiss and no bite." "Stirred, but not snakin'."

Such were the fortunes of Snakes, a film that had all the ingredients of a hit — except the moviegoers.

Still, executives at New Line Cinema, which distributed the movie, say the news wasn't all that bad. The $30 million horror film took in about half its cost on opening weekend, a respectable haul for most movies.

But they also concede that expectations outpaced their ability to deliver what many in the industry were expecting: a runaway hit powered by frenzied Internet fans.

"Maybe in a few days we'll gather to discuss what went wrong," says David Tuckerman, the studio's distribution chief. "Really, I don't know what that would be. I can't think of anything we would do differently."

Some moviegoers can.

Online fans of the film are hoping Snakes becomes a midnight favorite, or a cult sensation on DVD. Scores of websites offer movie scripts and shout-out lines for fans who seek a Rocky Horror Picture Show-type participatory experience.

"The best thing New Line can do is simply to leave Snakes alone and recoup their money on DVD, and I can almost guarantee that Snakes will have a shelf life of two or three decades," says Dustin Rowles, 31, the Ithaca, N.Y., publisher of the film review site Pajiba.com.

"Thank God it was a box-office failure over the weekend," he says. "A bigger draw would almost have certainly killed its cult value."

New Line isn't ready to give up on the movie, however. The studio launched a new round of television ads featuring positive reviews and audience reaction shots.

"It could have a strong run through the rest of summer," says Rolf Mittweg, New Line's chief of worldwide distribution and marketing. "The audience reaction has been great. That's the most powerful medium for film going."

Mittweg concedes the studio learned a few lessons about cyberspace. "It's hard to quantify how many people who are on the Internet go to the movies," he says. "The Internet users, the people who would create this kind of hype, are a very fickle part of the audience. We're still trying to learn what they want."

Even if studios find out what that is, it's no guarantee of success, says Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo. He wonders whether Hollywood and the media have bloated expectations from online fans.

"There's a difference between a cult following and a real movement," he says. "Serenity, Team America, any Kevin Smith film all have devoted Internet followings. But that doesn't mean there are enough fans to turn it into a hit, let alone a blockbuster."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

List of Movies based on Video Games


Okay, for clarity's sake, I grabbed this list from Wikipedia and trimmed off the irrelevant titles, like the slew of Pokemon movies you don't even want to know about. I haven't seen all of these, but I'll stand by my claim that the best efforts come from Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil (the first of each) and Silent Hill.

Alone in the Dark (2005)
BloodRayne (2006)
Doom (2005)
Double Dragon (1994)
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
House of the Dead (2003)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
Resident Evil (2002)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Street Fighter (1994)
Silent Hill (2006)
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Wing Commander (1999)

Some crazy crap involving action figures

ADAM & JOE'S CRYSTAL MAZE

I don't even know what the hell the Crystal Maze is, but I was looking for that Tom Cruise on BET video and this caught my eye. (I'm at work and I haven't even listened to it with sound...but the visuals alone look hilarious.)

Updates on all your favorite funny-book characters


From SHH, "We havent heard a whole lot about Captain America and the movie that is in the works but Kevin Feige was nice enough to spill the beans that the film is in fact in the works and progressing well. Quote from MTV:
"Captain America is in development right now," Feige promised. "There's a writer named David Self working on the script, and it's part of the new slate we're doing with Paramount. I think it's going to be pretty exciting. He's a few more years away, but what's coming together is going to make fans very happy."
I really enjoyed the Ultimate Avenger films and would like to see Captain America in a live action film."

The new head of Marvel Kevin Feige took the time to address some questions about the new HULK movie and the future of Spiderman when he talked to MTV. First off he addressed the question whether Eric Bana would return with a pretty vague answer.
"It's much too early for specifics," Feige said. "But Hulk remains one of our biggest characters, second only to Spider-Man in terms of popularity, so we're going to bring it back to the screen in a big way."
That is show biz talk for, we dont know yet. Which is fair. Not like Hulk 2 is coming out next summer or anything. He also shared some information on what we could expect in the Spiderman Movie franchise, and just how many more films we might get. The word is good since looks like we could be getting a ton more films.
"There will be many more Spider-Man films to come," he promised. "We already have stacks of ideas for the next one because of the wealth of stories in the comics. We could be making Spider-Man movies for the next 20 years, based on the 50 years of Spider-Man history we have."

Nerd adrenaline


The new poster for Eragon, based on the best-selling fantasy adventure novel about a Dragon Rider in a magical world, has been released, ready for nerds to print, cut apart, and use on their Dungeons & Dragons character sheets. Does your human warrior look like Amistad guy or John Malkovich? Or will you simply use Jeremy Irons, replacing the current Jeremy Irons you cut out of the poster for Dungeons and Dragons.

Mortal Kombat Enters The Unnecessary Sequel Code


From Iwatchstuff, "In what he sadly considers bad news, Robin Shou, known(?) best as Liu Kang from the two best kombat movies ever made, Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, has announced thatt he is being excluded from the next chapter of the Mortal Kombat saga because it focuses on Sub-Zero. Says Mr. Shou:

I got the bad news. I won't be in the next MK. Apparently, Sub-Zero will be the new hero. How'd that come about? No body knows. As if my character never existed. The story supposedly takes place before Lui Kang's time. A prequel of prequel. I haven't read the script but the word out there was... bad. I guess that's why it's taking this long for it to happen.
Though it's bad news for Shou that he won't get another great part, the worse news is clearly for everyone else on earth. I had no idea they were making another one of these things. Hearing this makes me feel like someone froze me, upper-cutted me, threw a little spike on a rope through my neck, (pulled me in and upper-cutted me again), turned into an animal, and tore my head and spine out of my body. And it was sweet!"

Paramount Pictures comes to its senses


By SANDY COHEN

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The latest high-profile Hollywood breakup is between a movie star and a top studio.

Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom Inc. (VIAB), which owns Paramount Pictures, said Tuesday the studio would sever its long and profitable relationship with Tom Cruise's film production company.

Both sides gave differing explanations for the split.

Cruise's partner, Paula Wagner, said negotiations on a new contract simply fizzled. Redstone, however, told the Wall Street Journal that Cruise's "recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

"As much as we like him personally," Redstone is quoted as saying, "we thought it was wrong to renew his deal."

The deal in recent years paid Cruise and Wagner up to $10 million a year to develop films and operate an office on the Paramount lot, the Journal said. It was reported that Cruise and the studio had been discussing a less lucrative deal.

In the past year or so, the usually guarded actor came under intense scrutiny after he jumped up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch while proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes, openly advocated Scientology, and criticized Brooke Shields for taking prescription drugs to treat postpartum depression. The religion founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard opposes psychiatry and its medication.

Redstone estimated that Cruise's off-screen behavior cost his latest movie, "Mission: Impossible III" between $100 million and $150 million in ticket sales, even as he praised the film as "the best of the three movies" in the action series.

"It's nothing to do with his acting ability, he's a terrific actor," Redstone said. "But we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot."

Wagner told The Associated Press that agents for Cruise/Wagner Productions stopped negotiating with Paramount over a week ago and have since secured independent financing, effectively taking any contract-renewal deal off the table.

"For some reason, Paramount has chosen to negotiate in the press," Wagner said, calling Redstone's announcement "surprising."

"It's not really the most businesslike approach," she said. "We've had virtually no dealings with Mr. Redstone."

The actor's last seven films have each generated more than $100 million. And the collaboration between Paramount and Cruise/Wagner Productions, based on the Paramount lot since 1992, has produced $2.5 billion worth of business, Wagner said.

Wagner said she and Cruise had been considering independent financing for their company "for a long time." She said the company has already obtained commitments from two hedge funds, whose names would be announced soon.

"For us, this is a very new and exciting direction. We look forward to working with all the studios."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Zombies Bite

To end the argument started over a year ago...

As you can plainly see, Flyboy turned into a zombie because he was bitten, not shot.

Get that thing away from me


Sometimes I wish was a space pirate. Other times I wish Hulk Hogan was my dad. Because my dad is cool and all, but he doesn't walk around in a neon speedo looking like he eats children for breakfast. And despite any objections he might get from his wife or kids or friends or anybody else that sees him on the street he's still going with the mustache. Sure it makes him look like a Civil War general but you say that like it's a bad thing.

The Ring rules

The Ring trailer

Yeah yeah I know, The Ring is old news. I don't care, I love this damn movie and this trailer still gives me chills.

Junk I can't afford, but want (and I'm sure Jordan has)


By Mike Snider, USA TODAY
Two months into the format war over the next generation of home video discs, neither HD DVD nor Blu-ray has made much of an impact on the market.
So far, fewer than 5,000 high-definition players have sold, estimates Mike Paxton of In-Stat, a Scottsdale, Ariz., tech research firm.

That's not too surprising, given the marketplace confusion over the dueling formats and the time it usually takes consumers to adopt new technologies.

But what is surprising is that reviewers say HD DVD matches up well with Blu-ray, which was expected to have the superior image.

HD DVD came out in April, two months before rival format Blu-ray in June, but most industry observers expected Blu-ray to quickly overtake HD DVD.

That HD DVD's quality matches and sometimes surpasses Blu-ray's is "very much a surprise," says Peter Bracke of HighDefDigest.com.

Blu-ray discs can hold more data than HD DVDs. Both discs look like DVDs but pack data more tightly and can process more video faster. Both formats deliver images with up to six times more resolution than DVD.

"Both formats are very equal," says Ron Sanders of Warner Home Video, which is releasing movies on both formats. "We wish there were one format. That would make consumers' options easier."

Consumers interested in video games are expected to vote for Blu-ray by buying the PlayStation 3 ($499 or $599, due in November), which also plays Blu-ray discs.

Later this year, Microsoft is expected to sell an external HD DVD drive that connects to its Xbox 360 video game system.

Tweeter stores' Frank Roshinski expects that as more movies come out, Blu-ray will match HD DVD's quality. "Next Christmas is when this format war really kicks in."

Mike Snider compares the two new high-definition movie disc formats and how they stack up to current DVD:

The test system: Toshiba HD-XA1 HD DVD player ($799) and Samsung BD-P100 ($999), Mitsubishi 57-inch HDTV capable of displaying 1080 progressive video, Yamaha audio/video receiver, six speaker surround sound system.

The Toshiba player starts up much more slowly than does a standard DVD player. Once it's going, though, the quality isstunning. Training Day, one of three Warner Home Video movies available on both HD DVD and Blu-ray, looked far superior than on DVD. Richer colors and increased sharpness and depth added to the film's gritty realism. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Rumor Has It, the other Warner releases on both formats, also had DVD versions on the flip side (priced at $40 vs. $29 for Training Day, which has no DVD version).

It's on Constantine and The Bourne Supremacy that you get a glimpse of HD DVD's interactive possibilities. Each has an "in-movie" mode that lets you watch the filmmakers and stars in a small picture-in-picture window superimposed over the film.

Viewing experience: The Samsung Blu-ray player started up quicker than the HD DVD player did, but still not as fast as a DVD player. In Training Day, the colors were muted compared with the HD DVD version. Still, the images had more detail and contrast than DVD. (Because the Samsung player outputs video progressively — redrawing all 1,080 lines 60 times each second, while the Toshiba HD DVD's video is "interlaced," drawing half the lines with each pass — you might expect the Blu-ray video to be superior.)
On Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Chapter 18), Blu-ray brought more definition to the colors and shadows in the apartment. And the crisp black-and-white video of Good Night, and Good Luck was superb.

Blu-ray, which promises advanced interactivity, has plenty of room to grow.

HD DVD gets a B+ as an impressive — and less expensive — high-def option. Grade Blu-ray gets a B- for not delivering the promised "wow" factor.

Nerd analysis


Okay, I realize that this post has nothing to do with Fat Albert, but I've been trying to find a place to post a picture of him for a while. Why? Because his name is Fat Albert and he's "fat" (he might also be "phat"). He's funny isn't he? No? sigh.

From Thehollywoodreporter, "As summer nears its end, "X-Men: The Last Stand," which nabbed middling reviews, seems to have exceeded expectations with a $441 million worldwide gross, while "Superman Returns" -- though it earned a strong, positive ranking of 76% on RottenTomatoes.com -- has yet to break the $200 million mark domestically. Although "Superman" is still playing overseas with a $347 million worldwide gross to date, it has failed to return on its lofty expectations. The drama behind Bryan Singer's departure from 20th Century Fox's "X-Men" franchise to direct "Superman" for Warner Bros. Pictures left much Sturm und Drang in its wake. But who were the real winners and losers on this deal?

Warners was delighted to poach Singer -- a proven tentpole director with a canny understanding of the action-adventure universe -- from Fox. He was available because Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rothman had been playing a game of chicken with him on his "Last Stand" deal: Singer wanted to cash in on the final installment of the "X-Men" saga. When Warners lured Singer away with the chance to direct "Superman" and a top-dollar deal -- sources say it was $10 million vs. 7% of the gross -- Rothman was livid. He promptly shut down Singer's Bad Hat Harry Prods. office on the Fox lot -- though Singer returned the next day to the Fox set of his TV series "House."

"We were in a heightened emotional state of mind," Fox president Hutch Parker says. "We believed that Bryan was going to do 'X-Men 3,' and when he made a different choice, it was scary and daunting to be losing someone so essential to the expression of the franchise. We had to rethink how to approach this. There was a lot of anxiety for everybody."

Rather than wait for Singer, Fox made the decision to go full steam ahead. "We needed the movie," Parker says, "and it was critical that it get made in that window. We were wary about where the comic movie would be in the larger cycle."

Fox first proceeded with director Matthew Vaughn and then Brett Ratner to meet the tentpole's original May 26 release date. But it cost the studio to make that target. (According to sources close to the movie, "Last Stand" cost about $168 million after tax rebates.) Producer Lauren Shuler Donner shouldered the burden of wrestling the movie into submission; the studio rushed two pricey screenwriters, Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg, to complete their scripts; and the studio paid dearly to get elaborate visual effects from about six FX houses, including Weta Digital, finished in time. In the short term, the studio clearly won the summer 2006 battle with Warners. But where is the "X-Men" franchise going forward?

Singer was the creative force behind the "X-Men" franchise, and now he's gone. Ratner is not in the picture; the sense in Hollywood is that Fox scored with "Last Stand" despite the director, not because of him. With its "X-Men" actors now too expensive to reassemble, Fox is proceeding with development on two "X-Men" spinoffs, starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (David Benioff and David Ayer have written drafts) and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The bloom is definitely off the "X-Men" rose. One could argue that in the long term, the studio would have been better off paying Singer to keep him or waiting to get him back. (Rothman and Singer eventually buried the hatchet over lunch.)

Freed from Fox's tough budget controls ("X-Men" cost $80 million and "X-Men 2" $120 million), Singer was ecstatic to be moving to a studio like Warners, which was willing to let him spend. But at the July 2005 Comic-Con International in San Diego, perhaps in a heady state of jet lag from his long flight from the "Superman" set in Australia, Singer launched the film's marketing campaign on a spectacularly wrong foot, happily proclaiming that the movie he was shooting was the studio's most expensive movie ever and might cost $250 million. From that moment on, Warners marketing tried to manage that number.

In fact, Warners failed to get out from behind that disastrous budget. The Internet ran rampant with reports that the movie was in the $300 million range. When the studio admitted to writing off about $60 million in costs from all the previous iterations of "Superman," some reporters added that to the studio's official $209 million budget -- a figure no one ever believed. If Warners had convinced Singer from the start to make a movie closer to two hours, it might have saved some money and come out ahead, instead of leaving entire $10 million sequences on the cutting-room floor.

"'Superman Returns' will be profitable for us," says Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov. "We would have liked it to have made more money, but it reintroduced the character in a great way and was a good launching pad for the next picture. We believe in Bryan and the franchise. Clearly, this was the most emotional and realistic superhero movie ever made."

But what really mattered to Warners was the successful relaunch of its franchise, and to that end they wanted to keep their director happy -- even if it meant letting him deliver a two-hour, 40-minute movie. "If Warners goes ahead with the 'Superman Returns' sequel," says producer Don Murphy ("From Hell"), "then they've ended up well because they've gone from having a wannabe franchise to a real franchise."

Returning to Comic-Con in July, Singer announced that he and Warners are in discussions about doing the sequel for 2009. But Singer said he "had certain issues" with Warners' marketing campaign. He also acknowledged his film's competition. "We had a little 'Pirates' and a little 'Prada.' It is a chick flick to some degree; it is a love story."

As challenging as it was for Singer to re-establish "Superman" by building on Richard Donner's 1978 classic, he also was working with a decidedly retro hero from a bygone time. There was little that Warners marketing could do to make Superman seem less square, wholesome and, finally, old-fashioned. (The "X-Men" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises do seem younger, hipper and more dangerous.) Choosing to reprise Lex Luthor might have been a too-familiar choice as well. "Bryan kicked ass," journalist Cheo Hodari Coker says. "But the principal argument does hold: Does the world really need Superman? Clark is a big blue Boy Scout. I wonder if this generation really has any heroes. Everyone is pushing in some way to be unheroic."

But Singer does know where he has to go with the sequel. He told Comic-Can fans that he would add more "scary sci-fi in the next movie." "We can now go to into the action realm."

While some "Superman Returns" viewers objected to the addition of an illegitimate child of Lois Lane and Superman (which never appeared in any of the comic books), Singer intends to proceed with that story arc. "There's a lot of room to go with that character and his upbringing and human background and Krypton heritage," he says. "He's the genetic material of both parents. Superman doesn't have that. It's hard to write for Superman. He's a tough character to create insurmountable obstacles for. This one is unique and insurmountable." For the sequel, Singer will be able to expand and play around with what he's introduced, and "bring in more of the energy" of the contemporary comics, he promised.

Singer likely will do another movie before the sequel to "Superman Returns," according to sources, possibly Warner Independent's "The Mayor of Castro Street" or "Logan's Run" at the big studio. Finally, though, Warners president Alan Horn and production chief Jeff Robinov want this tentpole director to be making movies on their lot -- and not Fox's. And that may, in the long run, be the real payoff to their "Superman Returns" investment."

Bug trailer is gross


From Iwatchstuff, "When a beautiful waitress at a backwoods bar falls for the obvious seductions of a creepy-looking hilljack, he somehow shoots some bugs* into her during or after intercourse in the trailer for William Friedkin's Bug. Unless the bugs were just in the hotel room; I'm really not sure what was going on most of the time. But trust me when I say that eventually Ashey Judd and friends get plagued with an infestation of bugs under their skin. Despite boasting a poster swiped from Saw, the Chicago Tribune is saying Bug is "one of the most disturbing horror movies imaginable." Meanwhile, Pete Doherty is saying, "Yeah, I hate it when bugs get under your skin and you can't get them out."

*not a euphemism for sperm."

See Bug trailer here.

Thundercats join a band


From Iwatchstuff, "Well, they're remaking Thundercats. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by any remakes at this point, but somehow Thundercats seemed untouchable. Not for the sanctity of the material, just because it's hard enough to believe someone was willing to make a cartoon about a group of cat-people from the planet Thundera fighting a transforming mummy and his band of mutants in the first place, let alone remake it. Luckily, the content is being re-imagined with the same sense of "cool" as a divorced dad trying desperately to win the affections of his child:

WB animation is remaking the Thundercats as an animated TV series. The animation style is whimsical, Americanized-anime, along the lines of Teen Titans. The setting is modern-day Earth, in a major city (possibly LA) The Thundercats are all teenagers. Their leader is Snarf (!) who is now a mystic with a "third" eye. Each of the Thundercats has a weapon with an "Eye of Thunderra" and transformative powers (not just Lion-O) When they aren't fighting evil, the Thundercats play together as a rock band. That's not a typo, or a joke. They are rockin' cats in their present form. Mum-Ra now has wings.
Seeing as how they're willing to make changes to the point of making the entire group teenagers in a rock band together, I have some other ideas they might as well tack on as well. First, let's forget fighting the mutants. They can just travel place to place solving mysteries. And ditch the whole "cat-people" idea. They can just wear cat costumes (long tails and ears for hats). And while we're at it, call them Josie and the Pussycats.

Oh, and give Mum-Ra some fucking wings, for god's sake."

Terrible show finally put out of its misery


The SCI FI Channel has confirmed that it will not renew its record-breaking original series Stargate SG-1 for another season, but will pick up its spinoff series "Stargate: Atlantis" for a fourth year. SG-1 aired its 200th episode on August 18th, and the SF series is the longest-running SF show on American television.SCI FI issued the following statement on Aug. 21: "SCI FI Channel is proud to be the network that brought Stargate SG-1 to its record-breaking 10th season. Ten seasons and 215 episodes is an astounding, Guinness World Record-setting accomplishment. Stargate is a worldwide phenomenon. Having achieved so much over the course of the past 10 years, SCI FI believes that the time is right to make this season their last on the channel. SCI FI is honored to have been part of the Stargate legacy for five years, and we look forward to continuing to explore the Stargate universe with our partners at MGM through a new season of Stargate Atlantis."Stargate SG-1, developed for television by executive producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner, is based on the 1994 feature film Stargate. SG-1, which originally starred Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge, began on Showtime, then moved to SCI FI after five seasons. The current cast includes Tapping, Shanks and Judge and newcomers Ben Browder, Claudia Black and Beau Bridges. It airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone continue to do silly things


From AICN, "Count me as a giant fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I'm totally stoked for the 10th season of South Park. When I heard the titles of the next two live-action films from Trey and Matt I immediatly got a big smile on my face. THE ALL-AMERICAN and, especially, GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK JAPAN!
The more I heard about the films, the more I kind of scratch my head. GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK JAPAN, a film that will combine live-action with "man in suit" action, is apparently going to be made with Nickelodeon films, which leads me to make the assumption that it'll be a family friendly film. Which is just bizarre. What would a Trey Parker and Matt Stone family comedy look like?
THE ALL-AMERICAN is a high school comedy and will be up first. Parker will direct both features and Stone produce. They will both collaborate with the screenwriters of each project for the final draft (Jeff Roda scripted ALL-AMERICAN and JF Lawton (PRETTY WOMAN and UNDER SIEGE) scripted GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK JAPAN!).
Both aren't the obvious choices for Parker and Stone, so either there is a typo in the announcements or they've decided to try their hand at something a little different. I'm all for them toning it down with a couple films as long as they still deliver my crude humor every Wednesday night!!!"