"Heroes… there is no such thing."
Grammatically, that's a bit of a nightmare, but the sentiment seems clear. Ben Kingsley's Mandarin makes his debut for the non-Comic Con crowd in the first trailer for "Iron Man 3," and as much as it looks like an Iron Man movie and a Marvel movie, it also truly looks like a Shane Black movie.
And that is a very good thing, indeed.
One of the things you have to do in an ongoing series about a superhero, especially one who positively lives and breathes ego the way Tony Stark does, is find new and organic ways to knock him down and take away that confidence. Watching my wife's face tonight when I showed her the trailer, it's obvious that her investment in Pepper Potts and Tony as a couple is so strong that seeing the two of them thrown when his house explodes had her automatically upset and involved.
"Heroes… there is no such thing."
I'm going to be curious to see how much "This Is 40" resembles the screenplay that Universal just posted online in PDF format this weekend.
If you do decide to read the script, released as part of Universal's awards push for the film, it's interesting how strongly the voices of his actors are already embedded in the script. I can clearly hear Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, and even Maude and Iris Apatow in the characters that Judd's written for them. And while I like the script quite a bit, it's telling that the sequence I saw them shoot when I visited the set does not appear to be in that script anywhere. Then again the photo I put on this article comes word-for-word from the script, and on the page, it feels like the sort of thing you'll swear was improvised. That's sort of the magic of the Apatow process.
I have a feeling this week's trailer is only going to leave us with more questions, and honestly, this far out from release, that's all I want from "Iron Man 3."
This is the week where the hype campaign kicks off in earnest. I thought they made a tremendous showing at Comic-Con, and the trailer will most likely be a shorter edited version of what we saw there, which promised a Tony Stark under stress and a Ben Kingsley Mandarin. Entertainment Weekly has a shot of Kingsley's face today along with some hints about the character, part of the barrage of new images popping up in places like USA Today and Facebook. Tonight/tomorrow morning is the arrival of the trailer, this morning was the one-sheet, and in the meantime, I need to know if we've got it all figured out as to which character we're seeing in one of the new publicity shots.
I remember when the character was photographed on-set this summer. James Badge Dale, who has such a great and memorable scene in "Flight" this month, is onboard to play a character named Eric Savin who comic fans also know as "The Iron Patriot." Many people saw those photos and immediately figured that had to be Dale in the armor, and that had to be the Iron Patriot.
One week until "Cloud Atlas" lands in theaters, and I still have no idea what the general public is going to make of it.
They seem to be getting the word out, and it's certainly a hard film to describe to someone who doesn't know the book and who doesn't automatically get excited when they hear who made the film. It helps that they have Tom Hanks attached, although I do wonder if he means the same thing to young audiences that he does to the over-30 crowd these days.
One thing that will help make people curious is by talking about the way the recognizable cast vanish into the various characters they play over the course of the film, and that's something the ads seem to be emphasizing. I thought it was pretty great that Hanks slipped into character on "Good Morning America" and almost immediately dropped an f-bomb. I'll have some video interviews with the cast going up next week, including one with Hanks, and one of the things I discussed with him is how people expecting a "regular" Tom Hanks film are going to be flabbergasted when they see some of what he does in the film.
Let's be honest before we begin: whoever directs this film is walking into a situation where they are going to be in service of someone else's vision, and that vision is going to consist of dozens of people's visions, all of them combined into whatever that script ends up being. Before they have a director set, they're going to have a script that they are committed to, that they've paid for quite dearly at this point, and that director is going to have to be willing to make that movie.
There are names that people always like to throw out for everything, names that are preposterous because they just aren't going to do it. Instead of picking non-starters today like Terry Gilliam (no studio on Earth is pulling the trigger on a $150 million film with Gilliam at the helm), Lana and Andy Wachowski (they're not interested and would much rather focus on their own material), or even Steven Spielberg (not gonna happen), we're going to name ten artists we would like to see given free reign to make the material whatever they want to make it.
Some of these names you might expect based on my reviews and reportage over the years. Some of them you might not expect at all or even agree with. But all of these are people whose "Justice League" would get us in a theater opening weekend. Let's see how many of these names you like, and who I'm overlooking, both of which I'll expect plenty of in the comments section below.
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.
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.