There is something undeniable about the announcement of the new Bond girls.
And, yes, I know both Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris are women, not girls, and I've had many nice things to say about Harris and her work in the past. I use the term Bond girls because that's the term. Decades may have passed, Bonds have come and gone, and one thing that's never changed has been the Bond girls. As much a part of the series as the familiar orchestral sting or the gun-barrel circle that opens each picture, the announcement of the new Bond girls is always interesting if for no other reason than they are bound to be drop-dead beautiful.
Sometimes, the roles they play are ridiculous. Well, to be fair, most of the time, the roles they play are ridiculous. They are given preposterous names that no human being would ever actually have, and they are asked to just roll with it, play it as real, as the rules of the universe where a James Bond could exist. When you have a character named Dr. Holly Goodhead, it is the "Dr." that makes me laugh, not the single-entendre smutty joke. It is the straight-faced absurdity of it that I love.
There is something undeniable about the announcement of the new Bond girls.
A few months back, James Rocchi and I spent the afternoon at Dreamworks in Glendale, talking to William Joyce, Peter Ramsey, and Christina Steinberg about their new film, "Rise Of The Guardians."
I walked away from that event thinking there was a good chance Dreamworks had developed a real winner here, and now the first trailer is available, and it certainly is pretty.
One interesting thing to note… the main character in the film isn't actually one of the Guardians. It's Jack Frost, who wakes up a la Jason Bourne at the start of the film, imbued with the magical powers of winter but not sure who he was or where he came from. His journey is the movie. The film starts with him underneath the surface of a frozen pond, waking up, stepping out, claiming the staff that gives him his powers, and heading off in search of an identity.
It's during that journey that he encounters Nicholas St. North, aka Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Sandman, who doesn't speak at all in the film. Jack Frost is played by Chris Pine. And yet, he's not in this trailer. There are actually shots in the trailer that have Jack Frost in them in the film, and in this trailer? They don't.
As giant monster movies go, "Wrath of the Titans" is definitely one of them.
I have written about both version of "Clash Of The Titans," both the original Harryhausen film and the recent remake. And now, Jonathan Liebesman has directed the sequel, which sort of veers off and does its own thing. In that way, it falls right in line with the tradition of the Harryhausen sequel. The Sinbad movies are all sort of generally connected and share a vague sense of continuity and reality, and when I think of the movies he worked on, not all of which were written and directed by the same people, I think of the monster fights. The creatures. The beasties. The fabulous, fabulous beasties.
And about ten minutes into "Wrath of the Titans," a fabulous beastie shows up and goes on a rampage, and Sam Worthington fights it, and he sort of gets his ass handed to him. Reeeeeeeeeal hard. And I kind of loved it.
It's July 7th, 2011, and I'm standing on a traffic island on a busy street in San Francisco, watching Jason Segel serve food from a catering truck to Da'Vone McDonald while his dad, David Paymer, looks on with approval. It's surprisingly cold outside, and this is just the start of what promises to be a very long day on-set.
There aren't many filmmakers who I can say I've visited on the set of every single one of their feature films, but "The Five-Year Engagement" is the third feature that Nicholas Stoller has directed, and it's the third time I've joined him on-set to watch him work and see what he's up to.
Like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," this film is a close collaboration between Stoller and Jason Segel, who co-wrote the film with him. And, of course, Rodney Rothman is right there with Stoller again, producing and serving as a sort of comic sounding board for Stoller on the set. Watching these three guys work together, you get a sense that these are people who are incredibly comfortable as a team, and who have developed a shorthand that serves them well at this point.
JAMES BOND 007 DECLASSIFIED
File #3: "Goldfinger"
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 Guy Hamilton
Screenplay by Richard Maibaum & Paul Dehn
Produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
CHARACTERS / CAST
James Bond / Sean Connery
Pussy Galore / Honor Blackman
Auric Goldfinger / Gert Frobe
Jill Masterson / Shirley Eaton
Tilly Masterson / Tania Mallet
Oddjob / Harold Sakata
M / Bernard Lee
Solo / Martin Benson
Felix Leiter / Cec Linder
Simmons / Austin Willis
Miss Moneypenny / Lois Maxwell
Dink / Margaret Nolan
After the gun-barrel image of Bond firing at the audience, we see Bond emerging from the water somewhere, a fake seagull on his head, and he immediately starts working to infiltrate wherever he is. This involves knocking out guards, firing grappling hooks, and planting plastic explosives all over a bunch of nitroglycerin tanks.
So this is where "Twilight" has brought us, folks.
Over the weekend, a full-blown bidding war erupted over the novel "50 Shades Of Grey," which makes sense if you're just thinking of it as part of the genre that has made "Twilight" such a success. After all, the word is that author E.L. James essentially wrote this as a non-supernatural answer to that series. Universal and Focus Features ended up the winner when the smoke cleared... but now what?
Obviously, Hollywood is starting to wake up to the notion that women aren't just "another" demographic to chase, but could be even more significant than the overserved fanboy culture that's been so roundly serviced by the studios for the past decade. While I know there are plenty of young women who enjoy fantasy and science-fiction and action and all those things, there are many young women (and older women, of course) who have been ignored by the studios for quite some time, offered limp romantic comedies as the only real nod to them as a group.
We're at that point in the publicity campaign for "The Avengers" where they kick into high gear, and we start to see footage in all sorts of strange places.
The recent trailers offered up some big moments, and when I was speaking to writer/director Joss Whedon after the live-chat we did at SXSW for "The Cabin In The Woods," we discussed the decision to put that amazing shot of The Hulk catching Iron Man into the trailer.
"That comes late in the film," Whedon said, admitting that he wasn't sure about including the image at first. "But Marvel tested it and they told me that whenever they included that shot in the trailer, the scores went crazy." Based on the reaction online, I'd believe it. In my own house, I can tell you that the focus group consisting of my wife and my two sons were 100% enthusiastic about that image and the trailer as a whole.
The thing that I worry about at this point in the release of a giant blockbuster is that the campaign will start to cough up things I'd rather see in the theater in the context of the finished film. As other promotional partners start to put things out, that's a distinct possibility. Today, for example, Norton Security released a behind-the-scenes featurette about the film, built around a short interview with Whedon.
It makes sense that the Wachowskis are looking forward to their next film now, because they're in the final stages of working on "Cloud Atlas," the movie they made with Tom Tykwer.
I'm dying to see "Cloud Atlas," if only because the book seems so wildly impossible to turn into a film. I love that. I love when artists take on a challenge that big, especially when the conventional thinking would be to do something safe and commercially friendly. After all, the two "Matrix" sequels tarnished the reputation of the series to such a degree that it went from becoming the most promising franchise of the 2000s to being a punchline. And while I love "Speed Racer," it is treated as a punching bag at this point. Even with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry and Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon aboard, this is anything but a safe bet.
Let me ask you this: why would Christopher Nolan bring "The Dark Knight Rises" to Comic-Con?
Forget about a full-blown screening of the film, which is never going to happen. Warner Bros. isn't going to show 10,000 people something they know those 10,000 people are going to see a week later at $15 a pop. That's just math. But regarding a panel for the film, what would make anyone think that with his final film, following up one of the most successful films of all time, Nolan would suddenly change his entire game-plan and show up with his cast and clips and answer questions?
To be clear, the rumor started to spread last week that Warner Bros. was planning a secret Comic-Con panel for the film, and as the rumor grew, it eventually became "AND THEY ARE SCREENING THE MOVIE, TOO!"
Nope. Not true. Neither one of those things is happening.
When you write about entertainment all day every day, you tend to get caught up in minutiae, and it leads to editorial decisions I would call questionable. When you're writing breathless headlines about Pez dispensers, you may be working too hard to find relevance in the irrelevant. Getting hung up on the micro often prevents us from focusing on the macro, but I'd like to take the opportunity to take a step back from time to time to examine 'The Bigger Picture.'
There have been two stories developing this week that fascinate me because of what they seem to suggest about the larger world of media and the way the audience is starting to truly drive the major choices being made.
Last night, I was thinking about these two stories, about the controversy surrounding the ending of "Mass Effect 3" and the reboot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and I was watching reports stream in about the crowds turning out at theaters for the midnight screenings of "The Hunger Games," and it all seems to be further proof that we are in the midst of The Age Of Fan-Fiction.