Someone is going to make a new version of "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea."
Bold prediction, I know, but at this point, it's inevitable. Too many different writers have taken a crack at it lately, and in May of 2010, I wrote a piece about no fewer than three different versions that were in development at the same time. There was the Sam Raimi version that Craig Titley wrote, there was the Ridley Scott version that Travis Beachum was writing for 20th Century Fox, and there was also a Disney version that was originally being developed for McG until David Fincher went in and pitched the studio his own version that Scott Burns was going to write.
Now, just over two years later, it looks like Fincher is close to getting a green light from the studio, and according to Variety, they are asking him to put everything else on hold for a month as they look at the numbers and decide if they can make the film. Andrew Kevin Walker was working on the script earlier in the year, and the studio must be pretty happy with what's on the page right now. Variety also reports that Brad Pitt has been approached about playing the part of Ned Land, the sailor whose encounter with Captain Nemo drives the story. If anyone can get Pitt to sign on to what sounds like a far more normal role than he normally plays, it's Fincher, and if Pitt does sign on, that sounds like an irresistible package for Disney.
Someone is going to make a new version of "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea."
Warner Bros. seems determined to go head to head with Marvel Studios and the marketing muscle of Disney, and if they follow through on the plan that Ben Fritz wrote about in today's LA Times, it could prove to be one of the most significant tests of their ability to turn their DC Comics characters into an ongoing successful film franchise.
At this point, I think of the Marvel Universe as one big franchise. It doesn't matter which particular character or number you mention, since it all seems to work in concert as a huge single world that they are building, film to film, character to character. The phenomenal success of "The Avengers" this summer is a testament to how much good will they built up over their build from "Iron Man" to today, and as they prepare to start releasing their Phase Two films, they seem even more confident and in control.
Warner Bros., on the other hand, has got some serious problems when it comes to all things superhero.
Michael Stephenson's first documentary, "Best Worst Movie," was about the infamously terrible "Troll 2" and the cult audience that has sprung up around it. Stephenson had a special connection to the story being told seeing as how he was the young star of the film, and many of the interviews in that film would not have been possible or nearly as personal if Stephenson had not been behind the camera.
As a result, it would be easy to assume that his connection is the reason that film was so good, but that would be a mistake. His second documentary, "The American Scream," is just as good if not better, and it indicates that Stephenson is a natural documentarian, a guy who is able to get his subjects to open up and reveal themselves and who is able to tell a great human story. This time, the subject is "home haunters," people who put on elaborate haunted houses or set up extravagant displays as part of their celebration of Halloween. The film is about to get a limited theatrical run, and it will also be airing on the Chiller network on Sunday, October 28, at 8:00 PM EST.
This weekend, Summit Entertainment is going to try to launch a new franchise with Tyler Perry starring as "Alex Cross," a character created by publishing juggernaut James Patterson, in a film directed by Rob Cohen, who directed the first "The Fast and the Furious," kicking off one of the few reliable franchises Universal has at the moment. This is a perfect storm of franchise-friendly energy, and with the announcement this week that they are already in development on "Double Cross," the follow-up film, it seems like Summit is about as confident as a company can be.
And why not? Tyler Perry has built one of the most reliable brand names in the business, made even more remarkable by the fact that he's done it with very little conventional press support. Perry is, like Kevin Smith, someone I respect for their accomplishments even if I'm not crazy about the work they produce. Perry worked hard to put together his media empire, and he targeted one audience aggressively, a tactic that has paid off in what looks like a sort of blind faith agreement between him and the people who see his films. When they walk up to the ticket window, I'll bet money that nine times out of ten, they ask for a ticket to "Tyler Perry."
JAMES BOND 007 DECLASSIFIED
FILE #11: "Moonraker"
This series will trace the cinema history of James Bond, while also examining Ian Fleming's original novels as source material and examining how faithful (or not) the films have been to his work.
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Screenplay by Christopher Wood
Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and William P. Cartlidge and Michael G. Wilson
CHARACTERS / CAST
James Bond / Roger Moore
Dr. Holly Goodhead / Lois Chiles
Hugo Drax / Michael Lonsdale
Jaws / Richard Kiel
Corrine Dufour / Corinne Clery
Sir Frederick Gray / Geoffrey Keen
Chang / Toshiro Suga
Manuela / Emily Bolton
Dolly / Blanche Ravalec
Col. Scott / Mike Marshall
M / Bernard Lee
Q / Desmond Llewelyn
Miss Moneypenny / Lois Maxwell
I get such a particular emotional surge seeing the Space Shuttle piggybacked on a plane. The recent flybys here in LA were major events in my household, the slow drive across LA was reason enough to leave the house at a preposterously early hour on a Sunday morning, and if you get me started talking about the space program, it's hard to get me to shut up. It is one of my favorite things, so imagine how space-crazy "Star Wars" fan me reacted when the sequel to "The Spy Who Loved Me" opened with the theft of the Space Shuttle, which hadn't actually launched yet. Pretty much the perfect set-up for a Bond film for me, right?
Nine year old me would say yes. Forty-two year old me, who just rewatched the movie, would not concur.
If you spend much time on horror-oriented websites, chances are you saw some footage from the upcoming "Evil Dead" remake that leaked from the New York Comic Con. I'll say this much for the film based on that quick look… it felt like an "Evil Dead" film. I do not envy Fede Alvarez because he's going to have a lot of people gunning for him sight unseen on that movie. The original is more than just a well-liked low-budget horror film. It was a major announcement of voice by Sam Raimi, and the "Evil Dead" series features one of the most iconic central performances in the history of the genre from Bruce Campbell.
Monday night, DreamWorks Animation screened their upcoming animated film "Rise Of The Guardians" in New York, and it seems like people liked it. I'm seeing it soon, and I'm very curious about it. The combination of talent on the film is intriguing, including creative consultant Guillermo Del Toro, author and visual designer William Joyce, storyboard artist Peter Ramsey who is making his jump to directing on the film, and of course the screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire.
Robert Zemeckis has never made anything like "Flight," and Denzel Washington has rarely played a character this damaged. I frequently feel like studio movies arrive somewhat predigested because of how many times we've seen variations on the same basic formulas, and when you do run into something that takes its own path, that tells its own story in a way you're not expecting, it can be positively shocking. Working from a strong piece of material by John Gatins, Zemeckis seems to be trying something that is, for him, both new and a clear representation of the things that make him most interesting as a filmmaker.
I remember seeing Spike Lee talk about the making of "Mo' Better Blues," and one of the things that he said made the film difficult to shoot was a firm rule from Denzel Washington that he did not want to do any elaborate love scenes or any sort of onscreen nudity with a female co-star because of his own offscreen marriage. As good as he is, there's often a sense that he's holding back something, that he is careful about his image. It's the sort of thing that I think often affects Will Smith's choices as a movie star as well, and it can be hard to let go of after you've lived with it for a long time. I couldn't help but think about that when we first see Denzel in this film, in bed with Nadine Velazquez, finishing a beer for breakfast and doing a rail to wake himself up as she walks around the room totally nude. At one point, he gives a sideways glance right up her backside as he talks on the phone, and there is a world weary quality to the beat that is both funny and immediately crushing. This is the sort of performance where there's no personal vanity involved, and there's no thought of Denzel as Denzel.
I have certainly spent my fair share of time and column inches writing about the remake culture that we're suffering through right now, and by and large, I'm not a fan. I think there is an anemic degree of imagination on display from the studios these days, and even the excuse that these things fund the chances that they take starts to look a little thin when the remakes outnumber the originals ten to one.
But I'm willing to admit that there are remakes that make sense, and when there's a piece of material that speaks to the times we live in or that offers an opportunity that a filmmaker feels strongly about, then I'm more than happy to watch what they come up with. And in the case of "Carrie," I would argue that the time is absolutely right to revisit what remains one of the most potent of Stephen King's novels.
After all, it's not like bullying has stopped. If anything, today's technological culture has created a whole new way for kids to be tormented and teased. It's been hard reading the stories about Amanda Todd and looking at the video she left behind when she committed suicide recently and seeing how there are still people who were part of her world who continue to pile on the abuse even now that she's dead. It's just one more disturbing story in a long line of them, and while some people seem to think this is new, I think it's just a new version of something that's been around as long as there have been weak and strong kids, as long as people have felt different, as long as there has been the need for some people to victimize others to make themselves feel better.
I'm going to have to stop watching clips and trailers at this point, I think.
Then again, this latest clip is so much fun that I'm not sure I'm going to be able to stop myself.
I know very little about Silva, the mysterious bad guy that Javier Bardem is playing in the film, but one of the keys to making a Bond film work is pitting him against someone who is a worthy adversary. So far, the early reviews that I've glanced at seem to really like Bardem's work, and this new clip is one of the best glimpses we've had so far of Silva and Bond together.
What I like about this is the way it feels like Silva is engaged in the game here. It feels like he's enjoying the cat-and-mouse with Bond, and the move he pulls to get away is pretty great. It's also pretty clear that this is another film where Javier Bardem is visually disturbing, adding to the menace. Nobody makes wigs more upsetting than Bardem, and his "blonde policeman" thing he's got going on here is really freaky.
Two of the films that most frustrated me this year were "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Prometheus," and it's important to point out that I don't get frustrated when I see a film that is terrible from start to finish. Those are easy to dismiss.
I get frustrated when I see a film that has real potential but which falls short thanks to certain decision-making. "The Amazing Spider-Man," for example, is a film that has many of the pieces right. Casting is a big part of making these films work, and I think they cast the film incredibly well. It was the script that made me crazy with that one, and I knew that the film had been tinkered with repeatedly during production, with some major parts of the film dropped very late in the process.