Plus a visit to one of the most amazing art departments ever
TORONTO - We're in China.
Well, technically, we're in Hong Kong by way of Toronto, standing on a soundstage that has been transformed into a city street that appears to have been wildly smashed to pieces, but when you're in the middle of it looking around, it's pretty convincing. We're in China, and the giant monsters were evidently here right before us.
It's March of 2012, and there is a small group of us who are visiting the set for Guillermo Del Toro's monsters vs. robots epic as the film nears the home stretch on what was, all things considered, a relatively quick shoot. Most of the stuff involving the Jaeger pilots was shot earlier in production because there is so much CGI that they're going to have to do to those scenes that they needed the lead time. On the day we visit, we're watching Charlie Day and Ron Perlman working together, which seems like a good deal to me.
The Pinewood Toronto Studios is a great facility, and it's funny that I'm running two set reports this week, one from each of the Pinewoods. We were met at the front door of the building where "Pacific Rim" had its production offices by Ian Gibson, Guillermo's badass assistant. And believe me… I've been in Los Angeles long enough to know when someone's assistant is of the particularly badass variety, and Gibson is one of those guys. The right match to Guillermo, and a great host for the first half of the day.
Everyone's back and some new faces pop up, too
Finally… an "Anchorman 2" trailer that features some actual footage from the film.
What amazes me is that they've got footage in there from the last day of shooting, which was only two weeks ago. I would imagine they've been cutting as they've been shooting because they're going to be in theaters in December, and knowing the way Adam McKay works, they probably shot about a bazillion feet of footage to give themselves plenty of options for each scene.
When I was at the "Despicable Me 2" press day last week, I wrapped up my interview with Steve Carrell and, as I stood up to leave, mentioned that I had visited the very end of the shoot, and Carrell just lit up. He told me that he thinks it's going to be completely insane this time, and even trying to describe his reaction to what they shot, he had a hard time keeping himself from laughing.
A switch of studios seems to have saved the project
One of the things that has always impressed me about Pete and Bob Farrelly is how no matter how big their films got or how much hype there was around them at a given moment, they still seemed to be two guys running a small family business, surrounded by friends and unconcerned with much beyond their personal work.
When you look at the credits for their films, you see a lot of the same names each time, and that's because they really do create a sense of community with their casts and crews. They take care of the people who help them make their films, and I have always gotten a sense of enormous loyalty from the people around them. When the guys say they want to do something, they stick with it, too. "The Three Stooges" is a movie they wanted to make for at least a decade, and the gradual process of chipping away until they figured out how to do it was all part of what they eventually made. "The Heartbreak Kid" was a pet project for years, a film that had inspired them profoundly that they really wanted to put a personal stamp on. Whatever you think of those films, they were things that mattered to the guys, things they fought for over time.
I swear I wasn't trying to make her cry
I am inordinately fond of Kristen Wiig.
When I saw an early, slightly shaggier cut of "Knocked Up," one of the first things I said afterwards to Apatow is that whoever the network lady at E! was, she was fascinating. Every moment she's on screen in that film, she's the only one I'm watching. The choices she made, the way she twisted every line… just fascinating.
That was right around the time she was starting to blow up on "Saturday Night Live," and over the course of her years on the show, she really carved out a spot for herself as a singular talent. Her approach to character entertains me because she never does what one would expect. I feel like she's a throwback to the early days of the show, when Anne Beatts and Marilyn Miller wrote pieces for Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman that were gentle and smart and utterly unlike anything that the boys on the show were doing.
And what does the mixed critical reaction mean for the series?
We already gathered here at HitFix for one "3 On 3" regarding "Man Of Steel," but we decided to go another round now that the film's in theaters and people are starting to weigh in on the film.
I've actually been surprised by the response to the film. I never considered that people might find it controversial or that there would be a huge debate about certain elements of the plot. It just didn't occur to me, so I'm a little flabbergasted about some of the conversations I had this weekend.
Once again, Greg Ellwood and Kris Tapley joined me to answer three questions that we still have about the movie. Check out the conversation below.
Plus why is the new film a prequel?
One of the pleasures of doing what I do for a living is the opportunity to meet people whose work has meant something to me over the course of my life as a film fan, and at this point, I feel like I've met a lot of biggest names on the list.
Until I was invited to the "Monsters University" press day, I didn't realize how much I wanted to meet Billy Crystal, but once it was on my agenda, I got excited about it. One of the shows that I love the most from the '70s was "Soap," and every five or six years, I revisit the series and fall in love with it all over again. There are a number of reasons to adore the series, but one of the most significant things about it was the character Crystal played. At a time when gay culture was basically just a punchline for the mainstream, Jodie Dallas was allowed to be witty and sharp and decent and way more than just a joke. Crystal's career could have ended there, but he somehow managed to avoid getting labeled or typecast.
The summer's rudest superhero movie goes as clean as it can for new ad
Later this week, I'll be publishing my set visit reports for "Kick-Ass 2," and I think you'll get a really great in-depth exclusive look behind the scenes at how Jeff Wadlow is following up Matthew Vaughn's first film. I had a few days on set by myself, and I was already familiar to the cast from the first film, so I think you'll get an uncommonly intimate look at the making of the movie.
It seems like Universal's really starting to push things into high gear for "Kick-Ass 2" this week. There's a new green band trailer for the movie, and while it's not overtly profane, they left enough of the edge in that it feels like they got away with something.
Could they be aiming for a Sinister Six movie in 2018?
If you're waiting for Sony to give up the rights to "Spider-Man" so Marvel can reboot the character and drop him into the same continuity as "The Avengers," you may want to take up a time-consuming hobby, because it's going to be a while.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is set for release on May 2, 2014, but Sony must already be feeling fairly confident about what they're seeing, because they put out a press release today to announce that they are setting dates for two additional sequels. On June 10, 2016, they'll release the third film in the series, and on May 4, 2018, they'll release the fourth.
That means that, barring some unexpected massive failure, this version of the Spider-Man story is going to last at least one more film than Raimi's version did, which makes me sad. I wasn't crazy about the first film, and more than anything, I'm just frustrated by my reaction. I love the character, and I want to love movies about him.
We discuss the film's worthwhile message with its creators
I didn't walk into the room planning to bellow "NERDS!" at producer Kori Rae and director Dan Scanlon, but it seemed like a very organic thing to do when discussing their new film "Monsters University."
I went to see the film for a second time this weekend so I could take Toshi and Allen, who have been raised as active members of the Church Of Pixar. As long as they have been alive, the iconography of the various films and characters created by the company have been part of their lives, and last weekend, when we re-painted the playroom, Pixar ended up playing a pretty major part in the decoration of that room thanks to some wall decals that they wanted to use.
I think I liked the film a little more a second time through, and I think one of the most interesting things about it is the way they're not afraid to play up the negative elements of both Mike and Sully's personalities. These are younger versions of the two, and they make some big mistakes in the way they behave and in the way they solve their problems in the movie.
The album's not even out and it's already everywhere
Well, that didn't take long.
Kanye West's "Yeezus" won't be in stores officially until June 18th, but the new "Wolf Of Wall Street" trailer is cut to the driving pulse of "Black Skinhead," one of the album's tracks, and it is a positively riveting first glimpse at what looks like the "GoodFellas" of the financial world.
It fascinates me that when we finally close the book on Martin Scorsese's career, hopefully another few decades and at least a dozen films from now, there's going to be a major chapter that will be defined by his work with Leonardo DiCaprio. At this point, it may be a more significant chapter than the period that was defined by his work with Robert DeNiro, and it blows my mind to consider that.