First look at the mega-sequel gives some hint of the film's grand scope
If I had been back from Austin in time this morning, I would have gone to Disneyland to see the crazy party that Disney threw for the premiere of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" trailer. How do I know it was crazy if I wasn't there? Because it's Disney, and when they want to impress upon you that something of theirs is an event, there's no one who can do it bigger. And in the case of this particular film, Disney's making one of the biggest bets they've ever made as a studio, and seeing it pay off is of utmost importance.
After all, Gore Verbinski was the director of all three of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" films, and he's just as much a part of their success as Johnny Depp's work as Captain Jack Sparrow is. The films are all, even if you're not crazy about how overstuffed they get, remarkably built pop entertainments. That sort of stuff doesn't come natural to every filmmaker, and I'm interested to see how Rob Marshall does with the responsibility of transforming this from a trilogy of hugely successful films into an ongoing franchise for the studio. RIght now, that's still a hypothetical proposition, even if I was able to confirm recently that they're planning to shoot the fifth and sixth films in the series next year in Hawaii. For now, though, they've got Marshall's name front and center in the trailer for what it's worth, and they're counting on him to figure it out.
You can smell the horses in four clips from the Coen bros' Western
You can almost smell the horses in these four clips from the Coen brothers remake of the John Wayne Classic "True Grit." Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld star together as an unlikely posse, in pursuit of a killer played by Josh Brolin.
Jeff Bridges stars as Rooster Cogburn, a character so different from his Kevin Flynn in "Tron Legacy," also in theaters this month, it could make your head spin. Matt Damon is LaBoef, a Texas Ranger and Hailee Steinfeld is Mattie Ross, a stubborn young girl who hires Cogburn to chase down Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father.
Drew had the pleasure of seeing it and reviewing it here and I'm looking forward to seeing it soon, in the meantime, check out the four clips embedded below for a taste of each of these characters and see if you'll want to join the hunt when the movie opens in two weeks.
Once you've been to the Rainbow Bridge, everything else pales
MANHATTAN BEACH, CA - Standing in the middle of Heimdall's Observatory, with the Rainbow Bridge extending from the front of the room, we need only turn the dials built into the walls and the floor to send ourselves anywhere in the Universe.
Of course, we may have to get past the frozen warrior standing outside first.
When I got the call to join a group of other journalists on the set of the new Marvel Studios movie "Thor," due in theaters next May, I didn't have to think about it. For one thing, it's not every day you can drive your own car for just over an hour and end up in Asgard. And for another thing, I was curious to see how Marvel planned to handle one of the trickiest of the steps on the road to "The Avengers," and I'll be the first to admit it… I had my doubts.
After all, it's one thing to make a movie like "Iron Man," or a movie like "The Incredible Hulk," where we see fantastic characters dropped into a world that is very recognizable. That's a big part of the Marvel Universe in general, and one of the reasons for its enduring appeal. But with "Thor," you're introducing a whole new world of rules, and you're suddenly stretching the Marvel Universe in a new direction, expanding it to include magic. I've always liked "Thor" as a comic, but as a film? It seems like the biggest gamble yet for Marvel Studios.
Third time's a charm, but is it too late for audiences to notice?
Film fantasy has always been tricky, and one of the biggest reasons is because it's tough to make magic feel real, and it's even tougher to make a magical world work onscreen without it feeling like a bunch of special effects. Growing up, I had to really exercise my suspension of disbelief on the fantasy films I loved, and that's fine. That was part of the pleasure of those films, handing yourself over to the imperfect illusion, and it seemed like great fantasies were few and far between, so as a young filmgoer, I learned to savor whatever I got and enjoy the things that worked while overlooking the things that didn't.
We live in a remarkable age, though, when the wholesale creation of miracles has become commonplace, and we've gotten to the point where we almost routinely ignore the amazing. The thing is, when the technical game has been raised for everyone, and the heavy lifting of world-building can be done to such an astonishing degree in film after film, it all comes back to the intangible, the hard-to-define, the genuinely magic, and that is just as rare as it's ever been.
For all the effort involved in the first two films in the "Narnia" franchise, neither film worked completely for me. I think they are both handsomely made and ambitious and serious-minded enough that I respect the efforts, and there's an admirable loyalty to the work of C.S. Lewis in the adaptations. The second film improved on the first film in several ways, and one of the things that worked in its favor was the cumulative weight of watching the young cast playing the Pensevie kids grow up between films. Now, with "The Voyage Of The Dawn Trader," the franchise has managed to deliver its best adventure yet, and I'm curious to see if it ends up being too little too late.
The owner of the 'End of Line Club' is also Daft Punk's boss
Tron: Legacy is a faithful follow up to the 1982 Disney classic (cult classic?) It's amazing on the eyes and makes great use of 3D technology to truly create an immersive world. But with "modern" also came "serious" and the film tends to remain on the grim side of things with considerably less humor than the first. One exception to this tone, however is the appearance of Castor, played by Michael Sheen.
In the film, Castor owns the "End of Line" club, and is apparently the man to see if you want to get in touch with Zuse, a powerful rebel fighting against CLU. Sheen has a blast playing the flamboyant club owner, and is one of the few actors in the film that appear to be having fun.
His costume is all glam rock and If you'll notice, this is also the scene where Daft Punk makes their cameo appearance. They were obviously sucked into this universe after playing "Derezzed" in Flynn's Arcade.
Pretty people on a silly romp still manages to not quite connect
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie both seem to have approached "The Tourist" with the same intent, and there are stretches of the film that are pure tactile pleasure as a result of the inherent energy that exists between two smart and pretty movie stars with their charisma turned up to "high."
And make no mistake… "The Tourist" exists solely as a vehicle for an audience to spend a few hours staring at movie stars. As a film, it's not "about" anything. There's no depth, no subtext, no greater significance. It is a piffle, a trifle, a souffle. For a film like this to work at all, it needs to be lighter than air, pure candy, and there are absolutely moments where "The Tourist" gets all of that right, where everything aligns, and in those moments, it is a reminder of why that sort of thing is enjoyable in the first place.
Unfortunately, the film can't sustain that feeling for the full running time, and all those pesky plot mechanics keep getting in the way. The film is about a woman, Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie), who is being watched carefully by the Financial Crimes division of England's government. Why? She was the lover of a man named Alexander Pearce, a con artist who vanished with hundreds of millions of dollars. It's been two years, and they've been watching her, waiting for the moment he emerges to contact her so they can swoop in and arrest him. Paul Bettany plays Inspector Acheson, the man in charge of the case, and he's obsessed with it, and with Elise Ward as well.
Robert Downey Jr. almost played the role of Jake Lonergan
SANTA FE – One of the joys of the “Cowboys and Aliens” set visit was getting to hang out with Bob Orci. The guy is a bundle of energy and really likes to talk about his projects. For ‘Cowboys’ he’s performing double duties as writer and as producer, so he had spent a better part of the past three months before our visit on set in the New Mexico desert. As I mentioned before, the set had a light and happy mood, or perhaps everyone was just happy to have someone new to talk to.
Ever since the trailer premiered last week, there has been talk, most notably in the New York Times about audience expectations about a movie with such a flatly comedic title like “Cowboys and Aliens” but a very serious tone, even in the trailer. Orci was aware of this disconnect and talked to us about the various directions they thought about going tone-wise before settling on “Western, interrupted.” He looked upon it as an advantage.
We all know of movies that work really well for the online film folks and the Comic Con crowd, but falter when they hit the less “quirky” world of mainstream audiences (Scott-COUGH-Pilgrim-COUGH.) Obviously with talent like Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde, Orci and company do not mean for this picture to only appeal to a niche audience, even though the film is based loosely on a comic book by Scott Michael Rosenberg and Damon Lindelof. Mr. Orci seemed confident that they had enough lead time to get audiences used to the idea of a non-ironic movie with a very ironic title. Time will tell if he was right.
Plus a bit of chat about her mysterious role in 'Cowboys and Aliens'
When you are asked, "Would you like to spend time sitting in a room talking to Olivia Wilde?" the correct answer is always "yes."
Thankfully, it seems that many more opportunities for that situation will be presenting themselves in the year ahead, because she is basically the female Sam Worthington now, suddenly cast in every potential blockbuster, and once people start to see the work she's doing in these films, my guess is that even more offers are going to start to roll in.
I may not be the biggest fan of "TRON: Legacy" overall, but there are things that I think undeniably work about it. First and foremost, Olivia Wilde's performance in the film is alive in a way that almost nothing else about it is. She plays Quorra, a key collaborator for Flynn in the time he's spent hiding somewhere inside the computer world of the film.
Who is Quorra? More importantly, what is Quorra? These questions and the answers to them are some of the most compelling things about the film, and if there's anything in the movie that felt genuine or human, it is due to the way she reacts to the circumstances she faces in the film.
Updated: Watch the trailer that poses numerous questions
The "Transformers" films so far have managed to frustrate many different demographics in many different ways. I liked the first film, more than I typically like Michael Bay's movies, but it seemed to make the hardcore "Transformers" fans from the '80s crazy because of all the ways it messed around with the characters and situations they knew. The second film frustrated anyone who likes coherence or narrative structure or non-racist robots. And the idea of Michael Bay shooting a 3D movie for the third chapter in the franchise sounds like a whole new form of motion sickness waiting to be invented.
Today is the launch for the official marketing campaign on "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon," the new sequel, and the biggest news for fans of the series is the release of the teaser trailer that you can see now in HD on Apple.com. It's a big teaser, too, set during the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the response today has been favorable from most people, even those who didn't like the first or the second film. I'm guessing this is actual footage from the film, not just something shot for a trailer, and it looks like the set-up for the film, a reveal that we found a crashed Autobots ship on the moon, complete with not-quite-dead robots inside.
Maybe I'm dumb, but wasn't the teaser trailer for the first film pretty much the exact same idea, but set decades later and on Mars?
And if you were the people making "Apollo 18," wouldn't this teaser trailer give you fits?
What does this mean for the film's Oscar chances?
"Blue Valentine," the piercing new drama by Derek Cianfrance starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, has won its appeal against the NC-17 rating originally awarded to the film by the MPAA's ratings board. The film will now be released with an "R" rating on December 31st by the Weinstein Company.
What does this appeal mean in regards to the MPAA overall, and what does this mean to the film as an awards season contender? Those two questions have both come up in the last few weeks in multiple conversations about the film, and I think both questions have answers that can be seen as either troubling or promising depending on your perspective.
For example, the Classification and Ratings Administration, or CARA, which is the actual voting body of the MPAA that handles the ratings, has been changing in the last few years, and I would argue that this appeal has to be viewed as part of a continuity of events that indicates that the CARA's decisions are just as random and baffling as ever, but that the appeals process has finally been fixed, meaning filmmakers have a real shot at getting a reversal on those totally arbitrary decisions at this point.
The reason I think the system has started to work is because of one revision in the rules on the appeal process, allowing for appeals to cite precedent. That's so important, such a fundamental idea, that it seems bizarre that it's a recent development. When you can point at a moment from an earlier film that was rated "R" and show that it was either the same or more graphic than a moment you're fighting for in your own movie, it's invaluable.
The following quotes were sent over from The Weinstein Company in response to today's appeal:
“All of us – the filmmakers and cast – were united in our support for the film in its original form. After presenting our case to the MPAA appeal board today, they were convinced of the artistic nature of Blue Valentine and recognized that it was consistent with the kind of movies for which The Weinstein Company is known. We appreciate their decision to give the film an ‘R’ rating,” stated TWC Co-Chair Harvey Weinstein, who led the appeal with a team of attorneys including Alan R. Friedman and David Boies.
“Every so often you get to stand up for something that you believe in. We believed in presenting relationships and sexuality with an honesty and truthfulness often lacking in the grand tradition of Hollywood sensationalism,” stated Derek Cianfrance. “I am thankful the MPAA saw the light and were humble enough to reverse their decision, and I am also thankful for all the support from the industry and fans of Blue Valentine. This is a victory for free speech and artistic integrity.”
“I am so appreciative that the MPAA was gracious enough to reconsider their rating of the film,” offered star Ryan Gosling. “I can’t express how grateful I am to those in the media who stood up for the film and put their reputations on the line in using their voices to support something they believed in. This is a film that was created for the audience, to reflect how complex they are and to involve them in a dialogue that Derek Cianfrance has been trying to engage them in for twelve years. We’re over the moon to have the opportunity to finally be able to share it with those for whom it was intended.”
“It is amazing to be a part of this historic decision,” said Blue Valentine producer Jamie Patricof. “While this has been a frustrating distraction from the film, the outpouring of support from the industry, journalists and film fans has been truly moving. We are ecstatic, that the MPAA was able to see the honesty that Derek was able to achieve in this film and overturned the original rating, so the film can now be seen all across the world.”