Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
We know one thing the Man of Steel is afraid of: my cell phone ring tone
SAN FRANCISCO - One of the benefits of being at an event like WonderCon is that you sit down with people who are involved in some of the most-anticipated projects for genre fans, and you get to be among the first people to talk about those projects with them.
I'll be moderating the panel for Tarsem Singh's new film "Immortals" later today, and the star of that film is Henry Cavill, who, of course, has been cast to play the lead role in Zack Snyder's upcoming "Superman."
Cavill is a guy who has been on the cusp of superstardom for a while now. He was almost James Bond. He was almost Bryan Singer's Superman. He even read for Batman at one point. And yet, in each of those moments, someone else ended up playing the part. Now, finally, on the strength of his work in "The Tudors" and the early buzz around his performance in "Immortals," it feels like Henry is having that moment.
Sitting down with him today, most of the conversation had to do with "Immortals," but we did take the time to talk about stepping into the suit of one of the most recognizable characters on Earth. My impression of Cavill after spending a few minutes chatting with him is that he's a dynamic choice for the role.
We spoke a bit about Superman during our time together, and while we'll have our full "Immortals" conversation for you later, we wanted to share the "Superman" stuff with you immediately, since there's such intense curiosity about who he is and what he's going to bring to the role.
Plus a spirited Q&A shows off the easy chemistry between the cast
Hal Jordan prepares to transform himself into an outerspace superhero in this summer's 'Green Lantern,' starring Ryan Reynolds.
Credit: Warner Bros.
SAN FRANCISCO - Team HitFix rolled into town midday on Friday, giving me just enough time to check into my hotel, get something to eat, and make my way over to the Moscone Convention Center so I could see the Warner Bros. presentation for one of their biggest summer movies, "Green Lantern."
I spoke to a couple of people who saw this presentation at CinemaCon in Vegas, but I specifically asked them not to tell me details, just overall impressions. I wanted to walk in as cold as I could today, all things considered. For Warner Bros, this is make-or-break time on this film, and they're struggling to shake off an underwhelming start to their campaign. The problem they've faced all along is that this is an incredibly post-heavy film. So much of the movie is just now starting to really exist that they've had to hold off until now, and they know that fandom has become intensely curious, and that any absence of information will lead to people speculating that something's wrong.
Based on how packed the convention hall was today, I don't think Warner has to worry about whether or not people are curious about the film. I saw tons of Green Lantern shirts and full costumes in the hall. This is a huge comic right now, probably bigger than it's ever been before, and it feels like if there's ever been a moment to make a movie about the character, this is it. I know the character in a general sense, but I am not a rabid fan by any means. As a result, I don't have any particular expectations or demands for the film. All that matters to me is how it plays as a movie. For me, this is as "new" as a big adapted comic book movie gets.
Who just landed one of the hottest roles in town?
Lily Collins will play the title role in Tarsem's 'The Brothers Grimm: Snow White' opposite Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer
Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
SAN FRANCISCO - I'll be writing up my impressions of the presentation for the new Paul Bettany film "Priest" a little later tonight, but one of his co-stars in the movie is making news tonight, and at the end of the presentation, I had a chance to ask her about it directly.
As the event was winding down, there was a Q&A in the front of the theater with Cam Gigandet, Paul Bettany, director Scott Stewart, and Min Woo-Hyung, the creator of the graphic novel, and they were joined by Lily Collins, who is probably best known to audiences as the daughter of Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side."
Coming Soon's Silas Lesnick leaned over to me near the end of things and showed me a tweet from Variety's Jeff Sneider saying Collins was "in talks" to play the title role in "Snow White," Tarsem Singh's version of the story which Relativity Media is financing. I tried to raise my hand for the Q&A, but things were already winding down. I decided to see if I could catch up to Collins before she left the theater.
Sure enough, right at the door to the auditorium, I found myself directly behind her and just said, "Miss Collins?"
She turned around, and I quickly asked, "Is there any truth to the rumor that you're going to be playing Snow White for Tarsem?" Even if she hadn't answered, she has no poker face whatsover, and a huge smile immediately erupted on her face.
"Yes!" she exclaimed. "I just got cast today!"
Easter Bunny movie plays best to the very, very young
E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) and Fred (James Marsden) make unlikely but amiable allies in the new family comedy 'Hop,' in theaters today.
One of the great surprises of the last half-dozen years has been the emergence of James Marsden as a committed, unabashed goofball.
When Hollywood gets hold of a guy like Marsden, they inevitably push him towards leading man roles. Romantic roles. Heroic roles. And while he may have been overshadowed in the "X-Men" series by virtue of Hugh Jackman's star-making performance and writing that barely knew what to do with Cyclops, that's not his fault. He just did what he could with what he was given. It was only once he wrapped that series that things started to get genuinely interesting for him. His role in the flawed "Superman Returns" was one of the best things about that film, and he took the very small role of Corny Collins in "Hairspray" and ran with it. The two films that confirmed for me that this is a guy who will not stop until he's exhausted the comic potential in a role, though, were "Enchanted" and "Sex Drive," and that's when I started to hope that more directors would pick up on this stealth-weirdo lurking beneath those movie star good looks and really give him something to do.
In "Hop," Marsden stars as Fred O'Hare, a guy who is adrift in his life, unable to find a job that satisfies him, constantly flirting with the disapproval of his parents (Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins) and leaning on his sister Sam (Kaley Cuoco) for help. And while the ads all emphasize the talking CGI bunny named E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) as the star of the film, structurally, this is Fred's story. As a little boy, he saw the Easter Bunny one morning, and before he could take a picture to prove it, the Easter Bunny was gone, leaving Fred with questions for the rest of his life.
Plus is this the best weekend of movies so far this year?
The star of the new movie 'Rubber' takes a moment to reflect on his many adventures... for no reason.
Credit: Magnet Releasing
Quentin Dupieux is an intriguing filmmaker, and I'm very interested in tracking down his first feature film, "Steak," based on how strange and wonderful his new film "Rubber" is. I saw the film at Fantastic Fest last year, and I adored it. Why? No reason.
Sorry... the "no reason" thing is a recurring joke in the film, and it feels appropriate that the film is finally hitting theaters and VOD on April 1st. It's a big broad wink of a movie, and if you're up for a little post-modern fun in a movie about a telekinetic tire that makes people's heads explode, I recommend that you seek it out.
And if you're not? Well, you can skip the interview I did with Dupieux this week, and there will still be some great new stuff in the podcast, our second this week. Scott came over and we played a round of Movie God inspired by "Your Highness" and some of the films I feel are present in that movie's DNA. And then after that, we got into a discussion about this weekend's line-up of movies, and how it's one of the strongest weekends so far this year.
I've been enjoying this season of the podcast. I think Scott and I have settled into a rhythm as we record these, and I'm realizing that the very nature of the podcast is transitory. These are meant to feel off-the-cuff, conversational, and relaxed. I don't want to do some over-rehearsed radio show. I just want to hang out with my best friend, chat about movies and whatever else is going on, and laugh. And I like being able to invite you guys to do that with us, something that's not always possible.
Barbara Hershey, Lin Shaye, and writer-director team James Wan and Leigh Whannell all weigh in
James Wan, the director of 'Insidious,' sat down with Leigh Whannell, his writer/co-star in the film, to discuss the art of low-fi scares.
It's sort of amazing to think that James Wan and Leigh Whannell are the co-creators of one of the biggest horror franchises of all time, financially speaking, and yet they only ever really participated in one film in the series.
How many filmmakers are strong enough to do that? These days, everyone wants their sure thing, their cash cow, the property they can keep milking until they've gotten every last dollar out of it. For many filmmakers, if they created something like that, there's no way they'd ever walk away from the series. Yet with Wan and Whannell, the moment it became apparent that "Saw" was going to spawn a sequel, they moved on.
And so far, they haven't repeated themselves yet. I may not love "Dead Silence," but I give them credit for trying something markedly different with their second film, and then they tried something even more different with "Death Sentence," which I liked but didn't love. Through it all, I've found myself interested in their choices and impressed at how much they've avoided doing the easy or expected thing.
Monday morning, I drove down to the Magic Castle, a beautiful Hollywood club and restaurant that is members only. Seeing it in the daytime and being able to walk around and really soak in the details without anyone else there was a treat, but sitting down to talk to Barbra Hershey, Lin Shaye, and Wan and Whannell together was the real reason to attend.
Great music, a strong director, and a simple story make for a memorable ride
Saoirse Ronan is the title character, out for blood, in Joe Wright's strange, surreal action-thriller 'Hanna,' in theaters April 8.
Credit: Focus Features
I would not say I am the biggest Joe Wright fan in the world.
When his "Pride and Prejudice" came out, there were many critics who flipped out immediately for his work, and while I think it's a very well-made version of the story, telling that particular story again didn't do much for me. I felt more strongly about "Atonement," which I like quite a bit, and that film certainly suggested someone with some very strong visual ideas and technical acumen. "The Soloist"… well, I'm curious if even Wright would defend that film. I find it intolerable, naked Oscar bait that rings false in every frame.
And to be honest, the descriptions of "Hanna" had me worried that we were going to cover some overly familiar ground in terms of story. Just last year, I thought the Hit Girl/Big Daddy story in "Kick-Ass" pretty much nailed the father-daughter dynamic in this type of story, and other elements of the story seemed to be similar to films like "Salt". Even though the script was on the Black List, I never read it, and I kind of paid little attention to the movie during production.
I'm happy to say that Wright is on his game again in this one, and he's made a really strange, lovely little arthouse action movie that delivers an emotional kick and some strong visceral thrills. It is surreal at times, surprisingly small-scale, and it works primarily because of the combination of Wright's meticulous film sense and some wonderful, nuanced work from actors playing fairly broad and thinly-written roles.
And did I mention that the score by the Chemical Brothers is sick? Because it is. Completely and utterly sick. And I love it.
Plus 'Green Lantern' apologies, more on 'Justice League,' and the last word on 'Sucker Punch'
I would pay extra to get tickets located high in the tall trees when 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' makes it to Broadway
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Welcome to The Evening Read.
Well, Monday didn't happen, mainly because I had an early morning press event for the new James Wan/Leigh Whannell film "Insidious" at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I didn't even get back to my house until almost 2:00 in the afternoon, at which point I had other things to write and publish.
There were a number of things that broke over the weekend, but I feel like we're at a weird point in the way movie news is reported where teeny tiny non-stories turn into giant ridiculous waves of chatter, simply so people have something to talk about. The most ridiculous things get endlessly debated, and so the scale of what is or isn't news has become so skewed that it's hard for me to get excited about a lot of what's going on out there.
I find myself getting frustrated by things like the preposterous flap over Natalie Portman and "Black Swan," and I see the same groupthink answers about why it's "an outrage" over and over. I'm not sure who allegedly promised moviegoers that every frame of Natalie Portman dancing in that film was really her, but it certainly wasn't the director or the actress. When I interviewed Portman last year, she was pretty clear about the fact that a year of dance training allowed her to stand and move like a dancer, and not that she was suddenly a professional-level ballerina. Film is illusion, and it sounds like the people stoking the fires of this idiotic outrage believe they were watching a documentary instead of, you know, a movie. And don't bring up the Oscar. Unless you can show me some rule book where it says that you have perform every shot in a film to qualify for an Oscar, nothing about this affects her win one little bit.
Our first look at Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig seems very promising
Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are forced to work together to stop an invasion in this summer's big genre mash-up 'Cowboys and Aliens'
Credit: Universal Pictures
"Cowboys and Aliens."
There is a bluntness to that title which should help it cut through the noise that surrounds the summer season, or at least that's the gamble that Universal's making. This film has been in development longer than I've been working as an online writer, but in different forms. It took a long time before they finally clicked into the creative team that finally took it from "title in search of an idea" to the film we'll finally see onscreen this year.
And this is a case of a title that existed before a story. The comic book was an attempt to develop the material in some form after Platinum Studios had optioned the title and a drawing to Hollywood in the first place. The project went through a lot of hands, and it was one of those things that seemed like it would never happen. And not because anyone got it wrong, per se, but rather because it seems like there's so few ways to get it exactly right. That's the thing about these genre mash-up movies. Once you get past the high concept notion, you still have to make a real movie that stands on its own.
Last November, a group of writers was invited to Santa Monica to sit down with Jon Favreau in the editing room for "Cowboys and Aliens," and we ended up seeing the first 40 minutes of the film before talking to the director for about an hour. I've known Favreau for a while now, and I can tell you that the enthusiasm he has for this movie is different than anything I've seen from him during production of a film, and that includes the first "Iron Man." Whatever "Cowboys and Aliens" ends up being, Favreau seems pleased with it, and I have a strong feeling audiences are going to agree.
We interview the women who make this weekend's science-fiction thriller work
Vera Farmiga seemed to enjoy talking about the challenges she faced in the making of 'Source Code,' which opens Friday in theaters everywhere
"Source Code" is a lot of fun, and it's not just a one-note popcorn pleasure. Director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley have built a smart satisfying science-fiction/Hitchcock movie that uses a very clever conceit to tell a very simply and lovely human story. It's just plain enjoyable, and I strongly encourage you to check it out this weekend.
Jake Gyllenhaal is very good in the lead role as the guy who finds himself being sent back into the same eight minutes, over and over, but what gives the film its heart and soul is the tension between him and the two very different women in his life. Christina (Michelle Monaghan) and Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) each exist in different moments, different times, and they deal with Colter (Gyllenhaal) in very different ways. Christina is the girl caught in the moment on the train, the repeated eight minutes before the explosion, while Goodwin is the one speaking directly to Colter in the lab setting known as the Source Code.
There are different demands made of each of the actors, and sitting down to talk to them during the SXSW festival in Austin, we talked about those challenges. Monaghan sort of surprised me in person. She always plays such girl-next-door sort of down-to-earth types in her films, and even though it was 9:00 in the morning, she showed up looking like a rock star. And then on top of it, she's charming and cracking jokes and in a great mood? It's enough to make you sick.