I'm curious… does anyone think it actually matters what human cast they put together for a "Transformers" movie at this point?
After all, even though I gave the last film a positive review, that was for the Bayhem and the hour-long siege in Chicago, which I still think is a dazzling extended bit of action filmmaking. Everything that is wrong with the "Transformers" series can be traced to every scene in the films that does not involve giant robots bashing the hell out of one another.
You can't blame them, really. The first film told a small-scale and somewhat charming variation on a "boy and his car" story, a coming-of-age piece that also happened to involve giant extraterrestrial shape-shifters. Each of the sequels has added an unnecessary sense of bloat to the proceedings, though, and even as they've gotten more bizarre, they've grossed more and more money. It's become harder to sit through long stretches of "character comedy" that is often filled with some of the strangest choices you'll ever see in a mainstream blockbuster.
I'm curious… does anyone think it actually matters what human cast they put together for a "Transformers" movie at this point?
At this point, I'll bet even Hugh Jackman is wondering just how much Wolverine is too much Wolverine.
Right now, they aren't even done with "The Wolverine," the Japan-set stand-alone film by James Mangold that's coming out in July, and Hugh Jackman is already doing wardrobe tests for the about-to-start-shooting "X-Men: Days Of Future Past."
Bryan Singer, returning to the world of "X-Men" for the first time since he left Fox in turmoil so he could go direct "Superman Returns," seems to be enjoying every single part of the pre-production process, and he's being fairly open with imagery via his Twitter account. I ran a photo last week that he sent out from Storm's wardrobe test, showing off Halle Berry's new look, and yesterday, he had a little fun with the way fandom is freaking out over every little thing he releases by putting out the first image of Wolverine from "DOFP."
I love watching a long-term artistic collaboration come into focus. When Neill Blomkamp released "District 9," one thing that was obvious was that Blomkamp and his star Sharlto Copley had a great chemistry, and that they were both equally important to the way that film worked.
A few weeks ago, when I went to the special event for "Elysium," both Copley and Blomkamp were present and they were talking about how they adjusted their method of collaboration for this new film. What was evident was the kinship they feel and the connection they have. They have that thing you need in a constant collaborator, that ability to not only know what the other guy is thinking but to throw things at him that he might not expect. There is a trust that is inherent to the way they communicate, and as a result, I hope they continue making films together for as long as they're both interested.
One of the ways I feel like I'm disconnected from the way a lot of people digest pop culture is the way I tune out celebrity gossip almost completely. When I hear someone say that they "hate" a celebrity, I wonder what gets them to that point. There are no celebrities who matter enough in my world for me to hate any of them, and certainly not because of the way they live.
Case in point: when I think of Gwyneth Paltrow, I think of her onscreen work. I think of the first time I saw her in the largely unseen gem "Flesh and Bone," where she was captivating and carnal and impressive. Over the years, I've liked much of her work, and she's made her fair share of films that did nothing for me. Through it all, it never occurred to me to hate her.
Is it because she's married to a rock star and because she runs a lifestyle blog? Because I've never visited it, and I'm not even sure what it's called, and I certainly don't think there's any chance anyone's going to force me to read it any time soon. And who cares who she's married to? I think the reason many people love gossip is because it gives them something to compare their own life to, and when they see someone living better than them, it gives them a specific target for their anger.
Is it because she was just picked as "The Most Beautiful Woman Alive" by People magazine? Because that's another thing that seems very silly to be upset by. It's not like she demanded that they run the headline, like when M. Night Shyamalan insisted they call him "The New Hitchcock" in a story. I doubt she campaigned for it at all. She's got a big new high-profile film coming out, so it makes sense that they'd pick her.
When we sat down, all I knew was that I wanted to talk about the way her role in "Iron Man 3" has evolved. I think I accidentally offended her a bit when I asked her how it was to step into the energy between Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black, because she made a point of explaining that Shane was the newcomer, and that he was the one joining their family. That's totally true, of course. She's been part of the Marvel Universe since "Iron Man," and now that her contract is up, it's time to reflect on the experiences she's had so far and decide if she's going to stay involved moving forward. The things they have her do in this film definitely shook up the sense of sameness that can set in after playing a part four or five times, and she sounded like it was a good experience.
Will we see more of Pepper and Tony? I'd bet on it. Right now, these people have a real sense of ownership over the characters they've established on film, and I think money is only one small part of the decisions they'll be making about the future.
And if you seriously feel like you need to say terrible personal things about Paltrow, do it elsewhere. I would rather have a conversation about her work than about any weird baggage you've picked up because you spend too much time reading about her personal life. Everyone I've ever known who worked with her has great things to say about how she is on a set and what she brings to the table in a collaboration, and those are the things that matter here.
"Iron Man 3" will blow the back wall out of your local theater starting Friday.
There are times you want to shake things up and try something new, and there are times you want to be part of a tradition and do things a certain way, and finding the balance between those two impulses are a big part of successfully remaking any franchise film or figuring out how to add new chapters to something that is already in progress.
For example, I'm looking forward to hearing what Hans Zimmer does with the score for "Man Of Steel." The hint we got of it in the most recent trailer for the film was enough to make me think he managed to do something that is genuinely different, somehow setting aside the huge iconic influence of the John Williams "Superman" score. That's not easy to do. I think Michael Giacchino managed to craft a great score for "Star Trek" in 2009, and watching the sequel I was struck anew by just how great and memorable his theme really is. It's not often I walk out of a new film these days with a score stuck in head, instantly evocative, impossible to shake.
The countdown is complete, and at least on our end of things, the summer is underway.
So far, members of the HitFix staff have seen at least half of the films from this countdown, including "Iron Man 3," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "The Great Gatsby," and while we may be embargoed from reviewing them, we can tell you that our enthusiasm for the summer is unchanged. This is a great, diverse line-up of material, and it doesn't matter what your tastes are… something in here is going to appeal to you.
Maybe you're looking forward to seeing some new adventures for some familiar faces this summer. Nothing wrong with that, and Hollywood is happy to help with Robert Downey Jr. facing a very different take on The Mandarin, one of Iron Man's most famous rivals. There's also the follow-up to 2009's successful relaunch of "Star Trek," with JJ Abrams once again directing and playing games with some of the most iconic moments from the original series. Hugh Jackman's playing "The Wolverine" for the sixth time, we check in with a young Mike and Sully for "Monsters University," the anti-social lunatics of "Kick-Ass 2" dish up some more bad behavior, and Superman will finally punch a whole bunch of someones in "Man Of Steel."
In the days leading up to WonderCon, I had a link to an online screener of the "Pacific Rim" footage that Warner Bros. sent over so I'd get a chance to see the footage before the event. They told me it would play a grand total of three times before the link would expire, and I called both of my sons into the office to watch it with me.
Not even two seconds passed between the three screenings of the footage. As soon as it ended, both of my kids started demanding that I restart it. Then again. And when the link expired, they looked at me like it was "Lord Of The Flies" and I was about to get hunted. They were rabid about what they saw, and I figured their near-chemical reaction was because they are seven and five years old respectively.
Then at WonderCon, I watched an entire auditorium of people have the exact same reaction to the footage, and seeing it on a giant screen, I was struck by how impressive it is, how primal the reaction is when you're watching giant monsters and giant robots throw down like this. That last image, with the jaeger walking down the street dragging an oil tanker like a baseball bat, is completely thug. It's just absurd, and when you're making a movie about giant monster and giant robots, absurd seems like the way to go.
I've been on enough sets with Matthew Vaughn to know how much he loves actors. One of the great pleasures for him during the making of a film is seeing how actors enhance and evolve the scenes that have been playing in his head since he decided to make the film.
I have yet to catch up with "The Secret Service," one of the 47,378 series that Mark Millar is currently publishing, but when I was in London in November to visit the set of "Kick-Ass 2," there was already a sense that Vaughn's next film would be "The Secret Service," and that he was in a hurry to get it started because he was worried someone would try to make a similar movie if he didn't do it soon.
According to a report tonight on Latino Review, Colin Firth is the first name cast in the film, and he'll be playing a superspy working for MI6 who becomes a mentor to his young slacker nephew. The spy, known as Uncle Jack, wants to usher his nephew into the same life that he leads, but he's not sure it's going to work. Mark Millar has described the series as "James Bond meets 'My Fair Lady,'" and that certainly seems like a high concept that could kickstart a series if done correctly.
Matthew and his longtime collaborator Jane Goldman co-wrote the script, and that is certainly reason to be optimistic. Looking at how Goldman and Vaughn handled "Kick-Ass," I trust them to take whatever liberties they have to while maintaining the flavor that drew them to the project in the first place.
For my money, one of the most unexpected but exciting developments in the Marvel universe is the upcoming TV series, "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.", especially since Joss Whedon's the man in charge. There are very few people working in the field today who know how to build a television season for maximum impact the way Whedon does, and when he assembles a group of writers and actors, he has a knack for building amazing teams.
Today, an alleged spoiler went up online about the "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." pilot, and specifically the fate of Agent Phil Coulson, played in "Iron Man," "Iron Man 2," "Thor," "The Avengers," and even the "Ultimate Spider-Man" animated show by Clark Gregg. His death was a major turning point for The Avengers as a team, and it helped unite them against Loki and the invading aliens. /Film seems pretty confident that their report is correct, and it certainly makes a logical sort of sense.
Stephen Sondheim is a titan in the world of musical theater, and it would seem self-evident that you'd want to make movie versions of his brilliant and successful stage events. Even so, even as Hollywood has started to come around to the notion of the musical once more, Sondheim's work has been slow to make the jump in recent years. I'm not talking about "West Side Story" or "Gypsy" or any of his early successes. I'm talking about the last ten to fifteen years of Hollywood, where Sondheim's name just hasn't been the same powerhouse it once was.
Sure, we've got a movie version of "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street" from a few years ago, but I think most Sondheim fans had their issues with the adaptation, and rightfully so. Sondheim may be the most demanding composer working in American musical theater, and even the best singers who have tackled his material have found it to be a challenge. Casting non-singers (the kindest possible term for Helena Bonham Carter) in a lead in one of his productions seems like cruelty to both performer and audience.