JJ Abrams gets closer to the director's chair as release date shuffle kicks in
I sincerely hope that Mike Fleming's report is correct and that JJ Abrams is finally ready to commit to directing "Star Trek 2."
Now that Paramount has dealt with the reality that the film won't be ready for the June 29, 2012 date they originally claimed for it, Jon Chu's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (which is evidently not called "Cobra Strikes" as previously reported to my endless amusement) will be moving up into that spot. I have no idea what to expect from that sequel as they've basically thrown out most of what made me cackle about the first film, like Joseph Gordon Levitt as Cobra Commander or Chris Eccleston as Destro.
On the other hand, having Abrams onboard as director for "Star Trek 2" makes me feel like the film is off to the right start. The first film works because it has a tremendous sense of energy and because that cast is so great together. The script had the unenviable task of both setting up a franchise and figuring out a way of folding the original series into it seamlessly. It's impressive how much heavy lifting they pulled off without ever forgetting to entertain.
Some lighthearted moments in Montana
Yes, she's talking about streaking.
To answer a question a few of you had about the Harrison Ford interview yesterday, no, that's not a green screen behind us with stock footage of cows and cowboys playing in the background. The press event was held on a ranch in Montana just outside of Missoula, and those are real cows, that's a real field.
Usually these interviews are held in cramped and hot hotel rooms, and it's not always the most pleasant experience for the actors who must sit there and give interview after interview all day long.
Here, instead of hotel rooms they had set up a row of tents that held all the lights and the equipment, with the back wall open to the field you see behind us. The ranch sent some cows and some cowboys to hang out back there as set dressing and the result is what you see in this interview.
Needless to say this was a nice change of pace, and a very relaxed atmosphere prevailed, which is probably why the subject of streaking came up.
How does Peter Berg turn a board game into a big summer event?
Yep. That's exactly what I'd expect a Peter Berg "Battleship" to look like.
It's funny… Berg is one of those guys who has definitely made enough films now that we can get a handle on him as a filmmaker, and between his writing, his producing, and his directing, he seems to be a mass of fascinating contradictions. The rancid, curdled laughs of "Very Bad Things," the heartfelt sincerity of "Friday Night Lights," and the balls-out macho of "The Rundown" all feel like the work of different people, but I get the feeling that's Berg in a nutshell. Here's a guy who is capable of great sensitivity, but who has an inner musclehead that will not be denied.
"Battleship" looks, frankly, hilarious. Berg is smart enough to know that there is something inherently ridiculous about making a film based on that game, and so he's embraced that and made a movie that looks, based on this first trailer, to be blatantly aware of what it is. That Brooklyn Decker/Taylor Kitsch stuff on the beach is straight out of the "Armageddon" playbook… all we need are some animal crackers. And the dynamic between Kitsch and Liam Neeson looks awfully familiar as well for fans of Michael Bay's movie about the meteor the size of Texas.
Romantic comedy plays both to and against convention to strong effect
- Critic's Rating B+
- Readers' Rating B+
Romantic comedy is a difficult genre to get right, and I think that's because audiences are so painfully undemanding when it comes to what they'll pay to see. As long as producers and writers and directors are rewarded for just maintaining the status quo and making the same thing over and over, there's no reason for anyone to try any harder. In the case of "Crazy Stupid Love," it is obvious that everyone involved is aware of the cliches they're up against, and they seem determined to avoid the traps that are inherent to this kind of material. They are more successful than not, thanks in large part to a great cast, and overall, the film is an above-average example of how to do this.
Although next to no one saw "I Love You, Philip Morris," the last film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, but it was a smart, wicked, impressive take on the romantic comedy that pretty much exploded all the conventions of the genre, not least because the story dealt with two men as the central couple. The two of them worked together as a writing team first on the films "Cats & Dogs," "Bad Santa," and the remake of "The Bad News Bears." Oddly, they did not write "Crazy Stupid Love," which was instead written by Dan Fogelman, whose credits include "Cars," "Bolt," and "Tangled." From that list of credits, I wouldn't really imagine a film like "Crazy Stupid Love" to result from the collision between them all, but it seems like their sensibilities are a nice mesh, and the result is something that definitely has a very mainstream sensibility, but punctuated with some genuine observation, some honest insight into the way we all struggle towards what we think we want, and how we often lie to ourselves about what that is.
"It's fun to play a character the audience doesn't find an instant sympathy for."
Harrison Ford was kind enough to set-a-spell with me in Montana a few days back to talk about "Cowboys and Aliens," Jon Favreau's genre mash-up of sci fi film and western that opens this Friday. Set in the late 1800's, the movie answers the ageless question: 'what would happen if aliens invaded the old west?'
Ford's Character is Colonel Dolarhyde, a rich and rather bitter rancher. Dolarhyde is forced to team up with an amnesia stricken bandit (Daniel Craig) as well as the Indians he despises in order to fend off the invading horde of aliens and retrieve his kidnapped son and the rest of the townspeople.
I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about talking to the man. A feeling I shared with seemingly everyone else from the press. He's scary to us. He can be a man of few words and he does not suffer fools gladly. It's not hard to imagine how many "fools" become entertainment reporters, so you can see how he may build a reputation of being "difficult" among them.
`Comic-Con: 'Knights Of Badassdom' conquers Hall H with 'True Blood,' 'Firefly,' and 'Community' cast
Plus all the Dinklage you could ever need
SAN DIEGO - Saturday was a strange and sort of wonderful day in Hall H, and it felt like panel after panel had somehow slipped one by the programmers. I love it when the films that play in Hall H are the things that need attention, not the things that have already had more than a little hype ahead of time. For many people, the "what the heck was THAT?!" discovery of this year's Comic-Con was Joe Lynch's "Knights Of Badassdom." I thought the entire panel was entertaining and funny and confident, and it seemed to convince the tough audience sitting around me as well.
There's no denying the high concept of "Knights" is pretty much as niche nerd specific as possible, and that can be tricky when a distributor is thinking about how to sell something, but the film benefits from having a cast that is suddenly very high-profile and easier to sell. You're looking at a lot of overlap from different types of fandom, plus a sort of cumulative marketability that comes from the sort of cross-platform buzz you can generate with these people involved. If there's one thing I learned from this year's convention, it is that television draws huge crowds, bigger than the movie panels this year, and should not be underestimated as a commercial force.
Genre mash-up never quite gels as a film despite excellent work from many
- Critic's Rating C
- Readers' Rating B
SAN DIEGO - Handsomely produced, packed with a cast that all do expert work, directed well and polished to a high gloss, "Cowboys and Aliens" largely left me cold. It's a troubling misfire because it feels like all the elements were in place for something special and fun, and instead, it is an exercise with no result, window dressing in search of a film.
"Cowboys and Aliens" is not a bad film. It's not unpleasant. It's not offensive. I'm frustrated by my own reaction to it precisely because I acknowledge a certain sort of efficiency to the way it's built. Jon Favreau called his shot on this one when I visited him in the editing room of the film, talking about how important it was to make this a genuine Western first, and then to simply introduce one fantastic element. I saw the first half-hour of the film on that visit, and then again in December at Butt-Numb-A-Thon when Favreau came down to visit and make the same presentation. I liked what I saw then, and tonight, when I saw the finished version of that first act, I really admired the construction of that stretch of film. It opens well. The problem is, it opens so well that it sets up expectations that it utterly fails to meet.
Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, and Zooey Deschanel join Rudd for new one-sheet
The Crocs alone are going to get me in the theater.
I'm sure there are people out there who don't like Paul Rudd, but I can't actually recall meeting any of them. I know first-hand the effect he has on the ladies, because I've witnessed it whenever my wife is around him or even watching him, and I think there is an entire generation of women who were marked for life by "Clueless." For comedy fans, there was a rebirth of Rudd that started with "Wet Hot American Summer" and really picked up speed thanks to "Anchorman." And Hollywood loves him, as evidenced by James L. Brooks casting him as the lead in his last film and actually casting Jack Nicholson to play his dad.
When you talk to Rudd about comedy, it's obvious that he's a huge fan and a rabid consumer, a guy who is almost always out there pushing for the new. One of the reasons I love seeing him make comedies is because I know how seriously he takes it. You should listen to the new "Comedy Bang-Bang" podcast, where host Scott Aukerman talks to Rudd, David Wain, and Ken Marino about the making of "Wet Hot." Rudd's great at taking what is on the page and making it live and breathe, but he's also one of those guys who is just painfully funny in off-hand conversation.
The 'Cowboys and Aliens' star attaches himself to Max Allan Collins adaptation
Harrison Ford must have had a good time riding and shooting for "Cowboys and Aliens," because he's signed to play Wyatt Earp in an adaptation of "Black Hats," a Max Allan Collins novel.
Collins also wrote "Road To Perdition," and he's a damn fine comic and prose writer. Pulpy and smart, he's got a knack for hooks. He knows how to set up a good game of "what if?", and in this case, Wyatt Earp shows up in New York in the '20s to check in on the son of Doc Holliday, only to end up butting heads with a young Al Capone who is leaning on Holliday's son's speakeasy.
My review of "Cowboys and Aliens" isn't ready to be published quite yet, but since both Variety and the Reporter have published and other people are starting to show up on Rotten Tomatoes, it's a safe bet I'll be jumping into the mix sooner rather than later.
A gorgeous cast of both genders shows up in support of Tarsem Singh's vision
SAN DIEGO - If you followed our WonderCon coverage this year, then you saw a fair amount of material about Tarsem Singh's new film, "Immortals." We interviewed the cast and the director, we spoke with producer Mark Canton, and I even moderated the panel with Henry Cavill and Luke Evans. I walked away from that thinking that the film looks very stylish, and that it's obvious Tarsem's not doing anything like a traditional take on mythology, but instead a supercharged superhero take on gods and titans.
There were two chunks of new footage from the film shown today in Hall H, the first of which showed scenes from throughout the film. "Long before Man roamed these lands, there was a war in Heaven. The victors declared themselves Gods. The vanquished were renamed Titans and imprisoned deep inside a mountain."
The film deals with King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) deciding he is going to unleash those titans to topple the gods, and the gods turning to Theseus, the one human they think can lead an army against Hyperion. Much slow-motion and bloodshed ensues.