Friday, March 23, 2007

SPIDEY Watch: The Final Frontier

Well guys, this is the last of it. Today Sony released the final trailer for Spider-Man 3 and it's the big enchalada. Venom is now officially released to the world and the movie is just a little over a month away. It's sort of bittersweet in a way. The speculation and little details make a film like this all the more exciting. Now the film will live or die on its quality as opposed to its hype.

So, I'll just say that I've had a lot of fun following the progress of this one. Hopefully, you have to. So, until my review gets posted (Hopefully on May 5th), this is about the last of Spider-Man 3 you'll be seeing in detail here at Pop-Culture Episodes.

I'm swamped with school work right now and don't want to bog this whole thing down in another thousand word extravaganza. So, sit back and enjoy the trailer:

See ya in "BAT Watch".


P.S.: That Heath Ledger poster is a fan-made thing. I just thought it looked nifty.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jet Li All Wrapped Up In THE MUMMY 3?

Gracias! Well, unfortunately my review of Shooter is non-existent. We arrived at the theatre the other night, free passes in tow, to be told that the theatre was full. Seems they handed out buttloads of free passes and we were screwed... Even though my friend Tom won them on a radio station giveaway. So, don't blame me! Blame the nitwits at Tinseltown Cinemas! Instead, out of boredom, we went to the Joel Schumacher directed (Never a good sign) Jim Carrey "thriller" The Number 23... I'm not going to do a review but suffice to say it is the biggest load of crap to be deposited in theatres so far this year. Avoid at all costs! Yuck. So, that tragedy aside, lets focus on some news brewing down in ol' Hollywood town about a franchise that we'd almost forgotten about.

In case you hadn't heard, the big news of today was posted on a few sites (but specifically Rotten Tomatoes) ( and it's... Meh. Universal, in all their collective wisdom, have decided to film another entry in the exceedingly vanilla Mummy franchise. You probably remember them vaguely: Lots of sand, a bunch of hokey CG, the dude from Encino Man, and wasn't The Rock playing a lobster or something in one of them? Well, the answer is yes to all of that and so... little more.

The first one, directed by hack extraordinaire Stephen Sommers) starred Brendan Fraser (The Encino Man in question), Rachel Weisz (Now an Oscar winner for The Constant Gardener), Arnold Vosloo (Darkman II &III), Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Apocalypse, TV's Sleeper Cell), and John Hannah (JOHN HANNAH, ladies and gentlemen...). It featured a bunch of goofy mumbo jumbo about the evil Mummy Imhotep doing evil mischief and, consequently, kidnapping Brendan Fraser's son. The second one (Also "directed" by Sommers) was pretty much the same except The Rock (very briefly) showed up as the Scorpion King and did cheesy battle with our heroes. Finally, the Scorpion King showed up in his own self-titled spin-off (Produced by Sommers, directed by Chuck Russell) where the cheesiness continued in hopelessly clunky dialogue and battle scenes ripped from Conan The Barbarian.

Now, I saw all three of these films in theatres. Why? Because I'm a sucker, that's why. The first one was a weak, disposable Indiana Jones knock-off that I'd forgotten by the time the credits rolled. Perhaps it was this amnesia that led me stumbling into The Mummy Returns. I actually thought it was kinda fun. It was dumb as a pile of rocks but it had a certain charm that made me smile at its inanity. It was good for a laugh. That mild (very mild) affection is probably what drew me to The Scorpion King. Like Returns, it was hokey and stupid and kinda fun. Instantly forgettable, but enjoyable.

Well, the franchise went dormant after Scorpion King failed to match the success of its predecessors. Audiences didn't really notice, and the cast, for the most part, went on to better things (John Hannah is presumed missing and if anyone finds him please notify his agent.). Stephen Sommers moved on to the soulless abomination Van Helsing, continuing to bore audiences with his unique brand of talentless monkey-direction. For the most part it was as if the whole thing had only been a really vague dream...

But the news today was a wakeup call. The franchise is now in the hands of uber-clown Rob Cohen (XXX, Stealth, that upcoming Bruce Lee movie I wrote about a while back! - Pictured), and they have announced their villain. Well, since I killed all suspense with the title of today's entry, let's just state the obvious. Jet Li is now contractually obligated to be seen in this film. So, whether he's the Mummy remains to be seen. Perhaps a kung-fu Mummy would be the next obvious step for this franchise to go in...

From what I have bothered to read, the new film is set a fair number of years after the events so wondrously chronicled in The Mummy Returns. This time, Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz's son is now all grown up and ready to kick some Mummy tail. So young... uh... Billy (I made that up), with mumsy and dadsy along for the ride, will do epic battle with the undead Ninja Mummy. I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled... beyond... belief... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I swear Hollywood doesn't learn their lessons well! ("Really?", you say.) This one has all the makings of a big 'ol flop. It reminds me of when they made that sequel to Tomb Raider even though no one liked the first one and it (Surprise!) fizzled. And attaching Rob Cohen to it doesn't help matters. This guy is a magnet for box-office duds lately... Possibly because he lacks the subtlety of even Michael Bay. The only way I can see this franchise thriving is under a director with a serious creative vision for it. I'm talking total reinvention. Start from square one and bring in a whole new cast of characters (And no villains with dumb names like Imhotep).

I'm not slagging Jet Li (Pictured) or nothing either. I thought he was really good in Unleashed, and I still consider Kiss Of The Dragon to be an underrated gem. I want nothing more than for this guy to get some good material (Like I feel about Chow Yun-Fat) and really break through to the mainstream (With something better than The One or Cradle 2 The Grave that is...). That Kato role in the now-in-development Green Hornet sounds promising... As it stands though, I have a feeling Jet will be the only real reason to see The Mummy 3. That and to see if they throw some work John Hannah's way. John Hannah gotta eat!


This next bit sounds like a really, really cool project (In fact, probably more deserving of the A-story slot Mummy 3 got...). Director Bryan Singer (Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2, Superman Returns - Pictured) is teaming up with everyone's favorite punching bag Tom Cruise to film a yet-to-be titled epic WWII adventure about a mission to assassinate Hitler! The film's been scripted by Nathan Alexander, Singer and his Usual Suspects co-writer Christopher McQuarrie. The project is off and running already, scheduled to film this summer (So as to not interrupt Singer's Superman sequel).

Me, I'm a sucker for anything WWII. Whether its Saving Private Ryan, Flags Of Our Fathers, Dirty Dozen, U-571, Great Escape, Bridge Too Far, or even Pearl Harbor (I know, I know...), I can't get enough. And with a pedigree like this it almost makes me forget about Tarantino's frequently stalled WWII adventure Inglorious Bastards. Either way, I'll be there when this one hits theatres. Singer has yet to falter in my eyes, and Tom Cruise, love him or hate him, always give these types of movies his all. Last Samurai was a testament to that.

So, sorry folks about the lack of Mark Wahlberg in today's post. But c'mon, The Mummy 3! Eh? Eh? Bah, see ya next time you ingrates!

Just kidding. Please come back!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Yargh! A Trailer Full Of PIRATES Off The Port Bow!

Greetings my disciples. Trust your weekend was most excellent. Well, I'm back with another blithering blog entry. Today we're going to take a little journey to... The World's End. And by that I'm referring to the third and final (?) entry in the stunningly successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, At World's End. The marketing blitz hit a high point today with the release of the newest trailer, and it is a doozy. You all can see it pretty much anywhere on the internet right now (,,,, and I recommend you do before plowing onwards into the mountain of minutiae that is today's entry.

Now, when last we left the series, with last summer's Dead Man's Chest, things were looking pretty grim. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) had been devoured by the giant squid monster ruled by Davy Jones (Bill Nighy - Pictured), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) were going through a rough patch, Norrington (Jack Davenport) had taken off with Jones' heart, and poor Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) seemed doomed to eternal damnation. Then, they announced that Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) was back and would be taking command of The Black Pearl. Why, it was all too much drama for a person to take!

Finally, on May 25th we will have all our questions answered and hopefully all the threads will be tied into a neat little package. Or it could end like The Matrix: Revolutions. Annoyed confusion leading to pouting and emotional hysteria. I have faith, however, that this one will work due to the quality of Dead Man's Chest.

"Hold up!" you're thinking! "That movie was a big ol' let-down!" Yes, many people felt that the second entry was a less than successful follow-up... But I'm not one of them! HA! After an admittedly bumpy first act I thought the story really took flight. I thought that Davy Jones was a truly wonderful (and potentially classic) villain who was far more interesting than Barbossa from the first film. I also liked that the filmmakers trusted the audience to jump into the story without unnecessary exposition reminding us what happened in the first film. I thought every one of the comic set-pieces worked nicely, and the action moments were equal to, if not superior to those which came before. The actors really fell back into the characters nicely and really worked to develop them as opposed to just running in place. I also felt that returning director Gore Verbinski perfectly matched the tone of the first film, while setting the bar even higher. Hell, I even thought that the cliffhanger ending worked out really well, and I hate abrupt endings (Yes, Matrix Reloaded, I'm talking to you!)Plus, the kraken was just plain cool.

Even if you think I'm completely wrong and that everything I just typed is moronic you
do have to admit this: That trailer looks pretty cool. Everything from the clever comedic bits to the epic scenes of pirate ships nearing waterfalls, spinning around whirlpools, etc. have been handled with real flair. I'm particularly pleased with the shots of Depp battling Davy Jones on the ship's... er... mast? No, I don't think it's a mast... Damn I really am bad with nautical terms... Well, whatever, it looked awesome. I'm also really wild about the whole idea of having pirates from all over the world converging into a battle of momentous proportions. With a series like this the ending has to be huge. Throw in everything and the kitchen sink. Yargh...

I'm also pleased to see Chow Yun-Fat in an American film role that may actually be memorable. After truly horrific films like Bulletproof Monk and The Corruptor I had lost faith that Yun-Fat would ever get any really good material in fickle western cinema. I mean, come on, this guy was amazing in Hard Boiled! He deserves A-quality material for that film alone! Well, regardless, it looks like he's got a good part here, as the pirate Captain Sao Feng (Pictured).

I do have to mention, though, that I hope this is the last film of the series. The Disney honchos have hinted at multiple more installments (And after the 400 million plus gross of Dead Man's Chest who can blame them), while Verbinski and assorted cast have said "NAY!". I'd like this one to end up as a trilogy. For once let a film series end before it slowly dies from overexposure and familiarity. Only time, and The World's End's profits, will tell.

Anyways, consider me psyched. This is the film I'm most looking forward to this summer... After Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer that is. I'm still a little confused about how Barbossa came back to life but I'm sure a perceptive 8 year old could answer that question. So, see you on May 25th when the goons from Disney order us from our homes to see this film. Disney don't play around when it comes to aggressive marketing... Yargh.
Well, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It was announced the other day that, due to its staggering success, a sequel to 300 was in the planning stages. Perhaps I'm being overly cynical. If there's one thing Hollywood cares about it's quality over anything else. And if you believe that then I've got some magic beans for sale.

My hopes are lifted, however, by the news that Frank Miller (Pictured... On the right), the artist/writer who created the graphic novel 300, as well as Sin City, Dark Knight Returns, etc., is going to be a key figure in putting the follow-up together. While the details are vague at best (I'm unclear whether Miller will make a graphic novel that will then be adapted, or simply work on a script and visual ideas), it appears that the next film will be based on another classic Greek story. Perhaps the eternal fire or something. Regardless, while I mock creating a sequel to films such as this simply for the sake of profit, I'll remain cautiously optimistic about this one. When they announce director Zack Snyder's involvement I'll be less cautious.

Well, there you all go.
I'll be back soon with another fun-filled, time-wasting, zip-trippin' entry!

See ya then. Yargh.