Saturday, October 28, 2006

Are We To Expect A SUPER Summer 2009???

'Ola! Well, looks like my Friday new release format has crashed after one consecutive week. Don't blame it on me! Blame it on a lackluster group of film debuts. Babel? Interesting, but not sold. Catch A Fire? Za? Saw III? What can I really say other than I thought the 2nd one was a disappointment and I have little anticipation for this one... Oh, and that it wasn't even screened for critics (Never a good sign...). So, I'm choosing to spend my time writing about something else... Something... SUPER!!!

Okay, before I plunge into the brightly colored abyss, let me make a few things clear. I loved Superman Returns! Not liked, LOVED! I thought it was a brilliant reinterpretation of the character and a great way to re-vamp the franchise. I also think director Bryan Singer is a genius! This guy made the X-Men franchise what it was (Before Brett Ratner lowered the bar a bit with X-Men: The Last Stand) and I think he's been unfairly criticized for Superman's darker tone.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about! Believe me, that is not an uncommon thought. My Iron Man entries draw the same sort of reaction. Or so I'm told. Anyways, it was announced today throughout the web (Though my main source was Ain't It Cool News: that Superman Returns (Henceforth referred to as SR) has finally crossed the $200 million mark. Now, this is pretty blah news to base an essay on, so it gets better! That box-office accomplishment was the necessary incentive for Warner Bros. to green light a sequel. So, Bryan Singer has signed to return, bringing with him Brandon Routh (Superman), Kate Bosworth (Lois Lane), and the whole supporting cast. Now this is exciting news! The budget is a bit smaller ($140-$175 mill) to accommodate SR's gross (SR's budget? $204-$208 mill! Yowza!), but that's still more than enough to make another spectacular movie!

There were a lot of complaints that SR was too solemn (Depressing, even!), and not "FUN" enough (Wasn't that X-Men 3's problem? Too much action, not enough drama? Make up your minds, people!). Singer has responded to these comments, promising that he's gonna go all "Wrath Of Khan" on this one! What does that mean? Ummm... Ricardo Montalban bearing his chest a lot, and caterpillars crawling in people's ears? No, apparently he means action-packed and exciting. He's promised a new cosmic villain (Rumors are swirling around that it's Brainiac [pictured]) in an attempt to get some new blood after many felt Lex Luthor wore out his welcome in SR. Personally, I loved Kevin Spacey as Lex and hope he comes back, even if it's in a role like Magneto in X2 - working with Superman to overcome a greater evil.

I'll give Singer one piece of advice though (Like I'm in the position to!), and that is to knock some sense in Kate Bosworth (Left)! Her Lois Lane just doesn't work. She's not peppy, quirky or interesting. Look back at the original Superman: The Movie and Superman 2. Margot Kidder was no beauty queen, but she had such great comic timing and an eccentric approach to the character that we could see why Clark/Supes would fall for her. She was spunky & adorable, as well as a goofy best friend. Bosworth, on the other hand, is mopey and bland. She'd be overlooked in a Staples department store. Bosworth should be forced to spend a month shadowing Kidder (Even if it means living in the bushes in stranger's yards, as Kidder did in her mid 90's breakdown... Hmmm... That's really mean of me! I still love ya Margot!), and get this character fixed. She's the only thing holding the series back.

I hope Singer (Right) keeps the darker edge though. I liked his positioning of Superman as a Christ-figure. It was interesting and made the character seem more real in this day and age. I loved the first two Chris Reeves Superman's, but they wouldn't work very well today. The 2nd two Reeves films wouldn't work either, but then they didn't work back then... God, Nuclear Man *shudders*). I like where Singer has taken it and I hope he doesn't wuss out due to a few vocal complaints from fanboys. We've seen the original films/Lois & Clark/Smallville takes, let's see where Singer can take this! Nobody's complaining about the differences between Burton's Batman films and Chris Nolan's new Bat-films (Though, they did complain about Schumacher's Batman flicks, and I joined in their fury and still remain bitter!). Let the man tell his story and if you don't like it, wait for the next storyteller to give his interpretation!

...But then I loved Superman Returns, so I'm biased! Ha! By the way, if you haven't seen Superman Returns yet, make sure to rent it when it comes out on Nov. 28th. Oh, and if you know Kate Bosworth tell her to rent Superman 1 or 2!
As always (or se it seems), the B story of the day is here to draw your attention to a trailer to a neat little movie that shows real promise. I don't know how many of you recall the gritty 2002 cop thriller Narc... It was the one with Ray Liotta as a really dirty cop and Jason Patric as his morally upright partner. It was faaaaaaaaaaaaaaar better than the similar Training Day (Although Liotta didn't get to yell "King Kong Ain't Got Sh*t On Me!"... That probably woulda gotten him an Oscar like Denzel...).

Either way, Narc director Joe Carnahan has finally put together his follow-up film (after leaving Mission: Impossible III during stalled development) and it's called Smokin' Aces! It's a frenetic, cool looking crime thriller starring a really great assortment of quirky actors. It stars Ben Affleck (Daredevil, Chasing Amy), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development - The Greatest Show Of All Time!!!), Alicia Keys, Andy Garcia (Ocean's Eleven, Untouchables), Jeremy Piven (TV's Entourage, Very Bad Things), rapper Common, Ray Liotta (Narc, Goodfellas) and Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity, Waiting...). So, yeah, an eclectic cast, in what very may well be one of the sleeper hits of the spring. Do yourself a favor and check out the Smokin' Aces trailer:

Because, let's face it: The world hasn't been the same without Affleck in the limelight! Remember: He's ain't Benny From Tha Block no mo'! Let's welcome him back with open arms.

Okay, that's my bit for tonight. I wasn't even going to do one, but daylight savings got me that extra hour of writing time!

Hope you all are having a great weekend! I'll post again on Monday!

*EDIT*: This post was supposed to be up Saturday night but was all sketchy. I know many of you wept, possibly finding solace in the good book... Hopefully this doesn't become a regular occurence (The malfunctioning, not the finding solace in the good book...).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

SPIDER-MAN 3: An Eye-full Of Venom!

Okay, people! Today's entry is a really polarizing one. This is a serious "I don't give a crap!"/"This is the most exciting news of the week!" type-thing. I actually wasn't going to give it mention but a friend convinced me that this was worth devoting attention to (So blame him if this stuff bores you!). Either way, it surrounds a movie that I imagine 98% of the population of North America will end of seeing anyways. So, let's get to the point of today!

Spider-Man 3 has been surrounded by a tornado of gossip, hearsay and misdirection since its early inception. The media has reported false rumor after false rumor. We were told that co-star Topher Grace would be playing Electro, that Grace and Thomas Haden Church would be playing the same character: the shape-shifting villain Chameleon, they even reported that the movie would follow the storyline of the universally hated Clone Saga storyline (A storyline so awful that Marvel's Spider-Man sales plummeted and they ended up rewriting everything so that it didn't really happen), with Grace as Tobey Maguire's clone, Ben Reilly (aka The Scarlet Spider!).

All these news leaks were nonsense (And brilliantly leaked by Sony, and prank-loving Spider-Man director, Sam Raimi), however one leak proved true. Bewildered co-star Kirsten Dunst accidentally let it slip that Topher Grace would be playing fan-favorite villain Eddie Brock, better known as Venom.

Now, for those who don't know a Venom from a Toxin (*snort* snort*), here's his rough history. In the 80's there was this really cheesy event called Secret Wars, in which superheroes had to travel to another galaxy to battle an intergalactic being called the Beyonder. While over there Spider-Man found an alien symbiote that he could wear as a living suit. The suit could take any form and could shoot webs and the whole nine yards. All was dandy, till the suit tried to take over Spidey's body, hence casuing to his discard it. The suit then found a willing host in Eddie Brock, a disgraced photographer with a serious grudge against Spider-Man alter ego Peter Parker (for exposing his news story as false). Brock merged with the symbiote and became Venom, a villain who not only despised Spider-Man, but also Peter Parker. Whew...

Now, the sheer ridiculousness of the early parts of Venom's origin will no doubt be rewritten so the film will better suit the more realistic tone set by the first two pictures. Eddie Brock has been downsized from a massive weight-lifter type dude to, well, that skinny kid from That 70's Show (That's him in that photo at the top of this entry). They will, also, I imagine attempt to make him a more sympathetic character, like Raimi did with Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man 2.

Now, since the knowledge of Venom's participation became public, fan fervor has been uproarious, eagerly awaiting a glimpse of how the character will translate to the screen. All the excitement over Venom has almost completely over-shadowed any interest in Haden Church's Sandman character. However, Sony, in a brilliant effort at building anticipation, have kept the venomous one tightly under wraps (even excluding him from the film's first trailer), with not a single image of the character leaking into the public eye... Until now!

Now, before I get to the actual pics, I'll warn you that they are far from A-quality photos. In fact, they aren't even shots from the film (Or even of Topher Grace). Rather, they are in the form of a leaked character sketch and the prototype for a sculpture that will be sold in connection with the film. So, I'll dispense with the excitement-building and show them to ya!

Now, I'll be the first to admit, the production sketch is pretty vague. It is apparently authentic, but it's impossible to know how far into the development process this picture dates. Anyone that has seen production sketches knows that they typically evolve from one thing into something completely different over the course of development. Heck, C-3P0 started out in a feminine form similar in concept to Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Han Solo looked like a light-saber wielding Bee Gee's member. So, there's really no saying if this sketch is anything like what will show up on screen.

The sculpt, however, is undoubtedly very much what we will be seeing on screen. They are obviously toning down the monstrous Venom image of the comics to better act as the dark mirror image of the movie Spider-Man. Unfortunately we don't get a glimpse at the mouth, as that's obviously Brock's mouth being revealed by the suit. I'm curious whether the filmmakers will go with the gaping-jawed, slobbery look of the production sketch, or the slightly subtler toothy grin of the image above-right. Either way, I like the direction they're going in.

So there you have it. This is nitpicky movie-geek stuff to be sure, but it's also cool to see that a beloved character is looking to be well-translated. It's shaping up that Venom will more likely fall into the Dr. Octopus category of excellence, and not into the Power Ranger-tastic group that Green Goblin fell in. Either way, I'll be in the theatre next May no matter what, and the majority of you likely all will too.

And just to show some love Thomas Haden Church's way, here's a cool Sandman pic. Don't worry Tommy, we still think you're cool... And you were really good in Sideways! Anyways... moving on... ____________________________________________________________________________________

Now to talk about a movie I really don't care about! I don't know how many of you recall the mediocre 2004 remake of Dawn Of The Dead (If you haven't seen it, go rent the 1978 George Romero classic instead!), but it was successful enough to warrant a follow-up. So, now we're getting a remake to the 1985 Romero film, Day Of The Dead. The trailer has just been released and you can check it below:

Now that you've wasted 2 minutes of your life watching it, I'll comment on it! What the hell is that? First off, this isn't a remake! The original took place in an underground bunker, where an army platoon found solace after zombies had overrun the world above... This looks like a Resident Evil rip-off! And come on, I do not buy Mena Suvari as an army ranger! If you're gonna throw an American Pie alum into a bad horror movie, get Chris Klein. He can actually pull off a soldier role (As witnessed in the infinitely better We Were Soldiers). This whole project has straight-to-video written all over it. Why can't Ving Rhames get better work? This man is one of the most intense actors out there! Wasn't it enough he had to be in Dawn Of The Dead? Call up Tarantino and get a Marcellus Wallace film going or something. Geez... Oh, and if you want to see a decent remake of Day Of The Dead (Which itself was no prize!), rent 28 Days Later. It's too similar to be mere coincidence. Better yet, go rent the original Night Of The Living Dead! It's far scarier than this crap-fest will be.

Yuck, I am growing very tired of bad zombie movies. To think we also have Resident Evil: Extinction on the horizon too... I'm going to go cry into a pillow...

At any rate, this entry is done! You had geeky excitement followed by whiny bitterness. Let's hope the next post isn't such as emotional roller-coaster.

I'm going to go watch Survivor: Cook Islands. It always cheers me up. Jeff Probst, the tribe has spoken, and you sir are the new king of cool!

Later y'all!

*EDIT*: Bah, stupid Survivor recap episodes! Now, I'm really angry! Damn you Probst, Damn YOU!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jump-starting Geriatrics! ...And Other ROCKY Developments!

Hiya folks! Happy Monday-Monday Day! I was reading a bit piece on rotten today regarding Indiana Jones IV and Harrison Ford's eagerness to reprise the role. It's basically a fluff-piece of nothing concrete (Hence the lack of a link), but it got me thinking. What is it of late that has inspired this trend of dusting off long-dead franchises?

Now, to be fair, Indiana Jones IV has been "in development" since 1994 or so. It ain't a recent development. I have my doubts, however, about it coming together in the next little while, judging from George Lucas's non-committal attitude. I think the time has come to either make the damn thing or shut up already!

Is there really a high demand for another film in this series? The last chapter, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade ended on such a poetic note, with the characters riding off into the sunset. Also, it was called THE LAST CRUSADE! On top of all that, those films were released over a relatively short period of time ranging from 1981-1989, a perfect period of time to keep the tone of the films consistent. To me, it's time to call it a day. The book has been closed for 17+ years, for the love of Mola Ram!

The Indiana Jones films, for me, are very much films of their time. They embraced a more old-fashioned attitude towards action and adventure, an attitude long annihilated by filmmakers like Michael Bay. There was a sort of playfulness and panache to the violence, that may seem sort of odd to today's audiences. It's not easy to go back to that style either: Look at the Star Wars prequels and compare them to the original films. There is a definite modern sensibility of upping-the-ante of the violence in the newer films; more decapitations, impalings, etc. I find it unlikely they wouldn't try something similar with the Jones series (Heck, George Lucas is producing!).

Most importantly, I have a certain image of the character of Indiana Jones. Seeing 64-year old Harrison Ford cracking the whip wouldn't quite fit that. Yeah, I have faith that Spielberg can deliver a good movie, but is this film really necessary? Why not create something new that could feature Ford as a new character, more fitting of his current place in life.

Speaking of 60+ year old actors returning to classic roles, this Christmas will mark the return of Rocky Balboa in the film of the same name (I guess they figured Rocky VI sounded too redundant...). Now, this one makes a little more sense to me. Anyone who saw Rocky V felt a bit of a sense of disappointment of how the series supposedly ended. Watching Rocky beat up Tommy Gunn on a dirty Philadelphia street was kind of pathetic. After the glitz and decadence of Rocky IV, it didn't quite fit. It was an odd, sad little film that didn't do the character justice. I'm hoping that Rocky Balboa can correct this, it's just unfortunate they couldn't have wrapped it up sooner, preferably with a better fifth instalment. Seeing 60 year old Sylvester Stallone bobbing and weaving around the ring is stretching it a tad (Despite the fact the man doesn't appear to have aged past 40.).

While I'm casually optimistic and accepting towards the return of Rocky Balboa, I'm less excited about seeing the return of John Rambo in Rambo IV: In The Serpent's Eye. First off, who thought of that title? It sounds like a bad direct-to-video cheese-fest starring Jan Michael Vincent or Michael Dudikoff! Bah!

Now, I should confess, I love the Rambo series! Rambo: First Blood Part 2 is one of the best action films to come out of the 80's! I even enjoyed the much maligned Rambo 3! That said, like the Indiana Jones series, this is a character whose time has come and gone. I can't see audiences rushing out to see Stallone wearing a headband and blasting away at attack choppers with an oversized machine gun in Burma. Do kids even know who Rambo is anymore? He was a very much a product of his time (And come on, it won't be the same without the mullet!) and it doesn't seem quite right to place him in a current context. Since 9/11 and the Iraq War fallout, the idea of the All-American Soldier doesn't have the same unquestionable appeal (This also applies to the Captain America film currently in development). I also don't like the idea of having Rambo leading a team of younger commandoes (as he does in the rumored storyline on Rambo is a loner, not Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen. Plus, not having Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna, deceased as of 2003) in it is just plain wrong. I'm all for a Stallone-revival! I've always had a soft spot for the mumbling lug, but I'm not sure resurrecting Rambo is the way to go about it. Now Cobra on the other hand...

Yes, folks, the 80's is coming back in a big way. On top of the above, we have the often mentioned (By me!) Live Free Or Die Hard & Terminator 4 to look forward to in the near future. There's even been rumblings of a fifth(!) Lethal Weapon film. I'm just curious as to when RoboCop is going to get rebooted. God knows, they made him fly in RoboCop 3, and the mind marvels at where they can take him next! So, I'll see you at the theatres in 2009 when RoboCop 4: Mechanized Mars Attack Avenger hits theatres. ____________________________________________________________________ Okay, now to talk about something I know little about! ...And that would be the video-game based property Halo. Now, I'm not a video game enthusiast, or "gamer" as they prefer to be called (According to my friend Gabe), but I have a small morsel of interest in the upcoming Peter Jackson produced film adaptation. Seems, the mighty franchise has hit a snag over financing!

According to a story at Rotten Tomatoes
(HERE:, it seems Universal and Fox have dropped out of the project, seeing the hugely expensive venture as being a little too risky. Can't say I blame them. The typical video-game movie doesn't make much, with the highest grosser, 1995's Mortal Kombat, doing 90 mill or so. Halo, from the looks of it is going to cost well into the 100 million bracket, more than double what recent video game films such as Silent Hill, Doom, and the Resident Evil franchise have pulled in. I have no doubt Halo will go into production in the near future (Peter Jackson being attached helps significantly), and I for one hope that it's good. Why? Well because I've had all I can take of awful video-game adaptations! Doom and Resident Evil: Apocalypse weren't simply bad, they were boring, embarrassing, pathetic efforts with not a single ounce of cleverness or originality. Because of them, I haven't been able to bring myself to rent Silent Hill. So, here's hoping Halo breaks the cycle, because I'd like to see the stigma of the "video-game based" film disappear.

Well, that's all folks. I better get back to the script I'm writing. You want a picture that has it all? Drama? Suspense? Hilarity? Well this is it! It's a faithful adaptation of the classic NES game Duck Hunt, and it's gonna be BIG!!!

Till next time!