Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny

'John Carter' gets a poster, but what movie is it trying to sell?

Andrew Stanton talks a great game as Disney kicks off their ad campaign

<p>An alien warship hovers over the surface of Barsoom in production art for Andrew Stanton's upcoming 'John Carter'</p>

An alien warship hovers over the surface of Barsoom in production art for Andrew Stanton's upcoming 'John Carter'

Credit: Walt Disney Company

"John Carter" might technically qualify as the "longest-in-development" movie of all time.  They've been trying to make a film version of the Edgar Rice Burroughs character since the very beginning of the film industry, and yet, for myriad reasons, the film that comes out next year represents the very first onscreen vision of the character and the world he lives in.  Considering next year is also the 100th anniversary of the creation of John Carter, that seems astounding to me.

During the era where Harry Knowles was working to produce a version of the film with a round-robin of directors including Jon Favreau, Kerry Conran, and Robert Rodriguez, I watched a lot of the work they were doing, including production art and concept work, and the one thing that was obvious no matter who was in charge was that Barsoom and the world of John Carter is a rich feast for the right filmmaker, and it's all a matter of how you choose to embrace all the opportunities laid out by Burroughs in the first place.

James Mangold nears deal to direct 'The Wolverine' with Jackman

The director of 'Walk The Line' and 'Copland' may be next up for 'X-Men' franchise

<p>Wolverine's still heading to Japan, but now it looks like James Mangold is the guy behind the camera.</p>

Wolverine's still heading to Japan, but now it looks like James Mangold is the guy behind the camera.

Credit: Marvel Comics

James Mangold is, according to reports, in final negotiations to direct "The Wolverine" for 20th Century Fox from the screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie.

This is the same script that Darren Aronofsky was attached to for a while, and it will take Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, to Japan.  Fox has been looking at possible directors for a while now, since Aronofsky left the project, and with Mangold aboard, they can start to get serious about when they're going to make this.

There are some complications ahead, though.  Tom Hooper is finally bringing the musical version of "Les Miserables" to the bigscreen, and it appears that Jackman may end up playing Jean Valjean for him.  Great role, and Jackman's been itching to do a major movie musical for a while now.

More importantly, with "X-Men: First Class" in the loop and with the film getting better critical and fan response than either of the last two films in the "X-Men" franchise, Fox has a choice to make.  Do they really want to make another Wolverine-only movie, starring the single most expensive cast member in the franchise, or do they want to move forward and build on something that people seem to be enjoying tremendously?

New 'Attack The Block' trailer crash lands online

Check out the new red-band look at the year's coolest cult hit

<p>Moses (John Boyega) gives a dead beastie the stink-eye in the oh-so-fun 'Attack The Block'</p>

Moses (John Boyega) gives a dead beastie the stink-eye in the oh-so-fun 'Attack The Block'

Credit: Screen Gems

In just a few minutes, I'm on my way out the door to the Arclight Theater in Hollywood, where I'll be introducing a screening of "Attack The Block," then moderating a Q&A with a very special guest from the film right afterwards.  This will make the third time I've seen the film, and I'm looking forward to it again.

It's exciting that they're going to be releasing the film in July in limited release, and I sincerely hope it does well enough to eventually go wide.  I think it could happen, too.  It's going to take a strong campaign on Sony's part, and they're putting out a new trailer that's red-banded and that is going live online right now.  

They're also showing the film to people, as much as possible.  It's a tactic that really worked for the original "The Hangover," which screened approximately 4,750 times before it was finally released.  They've got the film booked at the LA Film Festival, they're going to end up with some sort of Comic-Con presence this summer, and then they're hitting theaters.  They're being aggressive about this, and I hope it pays off for them.

Pixar drives down a more serious road with 'Cars 2'

The sequel skews older with an action packed sub-plot

<p>&nbsp;Rolling for their lives</p>

 Rolling for their lives

Credit: Pixar

I have to admit that I had always kind of avoided the original "Cars." It had seemed like the most nakedly "market tested" Pixar film to me. I saw it as a movie that popped up right at the height of the NASCAR craze replete with hundreds of cute toy-ready cars just begging to be merchandized. The design of the characters, with their extra big adorable eyes leant the whole thing a syrupy air that had kept me away.

Of course when I sat down and actually watched the movie I was taken in by heart of the thing. It has a solid story of cocky little red race car who is forced to slow down and appreciate small town values and the beauty of the countryside. Still not my favorite Pixar film, but a solid effort and I'd recommend it.

So my cynicism had melted a bit as I rode the bus across the Bay Bridge to visit the Pixar campus back in March to get a sneak peek at "Cars 2" and meet the folks behind the film. We had been bused out the night before to have a tour of their newly built office building, attend a Pixar 25th anniversary mixer and screen the "Toy Story" Short "Hawaiian Vacation," which will be released theatrically in front of "Cars 2." I don't have a lot to say about the night before, however, as I can't talk about the the short, and the mixer was pleasant but not much to write about.

More after the jump.

EXCLUSIVE: What 'Batman' star shot a scene for 'Dark Knight Rises' on Monday?

Secret cameo gives big hints at the film's overall thematic direction

<p>When the Dark Knight rises next year, which star from an earlier film will be making an appearance to surprise him?</p>

When the Dark Knight rises next year, which star from an earlier film will be making an appearance to surprise him?

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

I would hate to be the guy who blows all the big secrets for Christopher Nolan's upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises."  In fact, after some of the ways I've stumbled across giant secrets over the years and blabbed them without knowing full well what the impact would be, I try to err on the side of caution when I can.

Having said that, some news crossed my desk today that is too cool not to share.  However, I want to ask you to respect that not everyone is going to want to know this news, and without knowing context for it, we're still not sure what it means for this third film in Nolan's saga.  If you reprint this news, please try to preserve some sort of a secret for people.  I'm going to run the actual news after the fold, and I'm warning you… it could be a bombshell of a spoiler.

I contacted Warner Bros. to ask them to comment on this story, and they politely refused, saying that's simply not policy when it comes to the Batman films that Nolan and company make.  They know already that they're not going to get him to confirm something, especially not something like this.

Review: Awkward, uneven 'Green Lantern' packs no punch

DC's big summer superhero movie fails across the board

HitFix
C-
Readers
C+
<p>'Have you seen the movie they made about you, Hal?' 'No, is it good?' 'Don't make me punch you.&nbsp; I'm not sure I would ever be able to stop.'</p>

'Have you seen the movie they made about you, Hal?' 'No, is it good?' 'Don't make me punch you.  I'm not sure I would ever be able to stop.'

Credit: Warner Bros

I want to like "Green Lantern."

I don't want to be the guy who calls the time of death at the scene of the crime.

I walked in with several different levels of expectation for the movie, and to fully explain my reaction, I'll have to clue you in to what I was thinking as I sat down.  First, my two sons are absolutely out of their mind crazy to see the movie, and I was watching it as a parent wondering if it would be appropriate for the boys based on the other things they've seen.  Second, I like the idea of DC and Warner Bros. trying a big DC Universe on film, and I hoped for "Green Lantern" to be the movie to kick that off.  Third, I think Ryan Reynolds is a guy who is primed for stardom, and he's just looking for the right movie.  I walked in liking the last few major pieces of marketing, the stuff I saw at Wondercon and the big online trailer and the last big mythology trailer.  I like Martin Campbell at times.  In general, I was pumped and primed and buttered to go.

And yet...

I don't like "Green Lantern."  Not even a little bit.

I think the movie is pretty much inert, artificial and dead on arrival.

Tom Cruise in talks to star in a wildly-miscast Jack Reacher movie

Just because the author of the books likes the idea, does that make it right?

<p>Tom Cruise, seen here at the premiere of 'Super 8,' fits into the pocket of a normal-sized man, yet he's going to play Reacher for Paramount?&nbsp; Really?</p>

Tom Cruise, seen here at the premiere of 'Super 8,' fits into the pocket of a normal-sized man, yet he's going to play Reacher for Paramount?  Really?

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

What, are you people trying to kill me?

Look, I'm dealing with the third case of mono I've had in my lifetime, and my entire central nervous system is a little shaky to start with, so when I see the headline "Tom Cruise In Talks To Play Reacher," my first reaction is to kick my computer into little pieces then run outside and bellow impotently at the sky in rage.

That's normal, right?

I wrote an article last year where I brought up a candidate for the job, Dwayne Johnson, and I admitted that I'm still fairly new to the world of Jack Reacher.  Love the character.  I think Lee Child writes awesome, compulsively readable pulp.  And one of the things that I love about his character is the image I get as I read each of the books.  Like John D. McDonald's Travis McGee, Reacher is a very specific type of man, a huge slab of beef who can fall on a bad guy like a goddamn house.  When you cast these roles, you need burly, outsized macho men.  You need physical specimens that will make the rest of us feel painfully inadequate.

So you hire Tom Cruise and Leonardo Di Caprio?

Disney reveals teaser for 'Cars' spin-off movie 'Planes'

Am I the only one who is creeped out by the world of these movies?

<p>I'm not sure what to make of the fact that this is a Disney movie and that Pixar's name is nowhere to be seen in that trailer, despite the fact that this is a spin-off from 'Cars'</p>

I'm not sure what to make of the fact that this is a Disney movie and that Pixar's name is nowhere to be seen in that trailer, despite the fact that this is a spin-off from 'Cars'

Credit: Walt Disney Home Video

I don't get it.

I want to get it.  I want to understand the basic world so that it doesn't nag at me while I'm watching these films, but so far, I don't get it.

Here's the thing… every Pixar film hangs on at least one big idea that the audience is asked to accept, and for the most part, I get the big ideas.  "The Incredibles" is a family of superheroes.  Easy enough.  "A Bug's Life" is our world, but just observed from the perspective of bugs.  "Toy Story" sets up the basic rule that toys are alive but pretend not to be when we're around.  Got it.  "Ratatouille" asks you to swallow the notion of a rat with a refined palette who wants to be a world-class chef.  "WALL-E" takes place in a world where our trash finally choked our planet out.  All of these ideas are fairly easy to grasp.

TJ Miller and Scot Armstrong join forces on 'Road To Nardo'

The co-writer of 'The Hangover Part II' is set to bring more bad behavior to the screen

<p>I&nbsp;cannot even fully explain to you how much my sons love T.J. Miller in 'Yogi Bear,' and to be honest, it terrifies me.&nbsp; Just a little.</p>

I cannot even fully explain to you how much my sons love T.J. Miller in 'Yogi Bear,' and to be honest, it terrifies me.  Just a little.

Credit: Warner Home Video

Hollywood, like football (at least according to Oliver Stone), is a game of inches.

Sure, there are people who arrive with their first film, fully formed and lucky enough to connect with the public in a way that means that they never have to struggle.  But those people are what we call "freaks," and for the most part, people in the film industry have to make their way from job to job, gradually climbing the food chain, until they are able to call the shots for themselves.

"Road To Nardo" could represent a major jump forward for at least two of the major collaborators in the film, and I'm curious to see how it comes together.  The first reason I'm curious is T.J. Miller, a comedian who has been steadily building a resume since he first appeared in "Cloverfield."  Miller is very funny when you see him onstage, and I'm not sure I've seen a film yet that uses him to anywhere near his full potential.  My kids are big fans after "Yogi Bear," but that's hardly representative of the sort of work he does as a stand-up.

'Spider-Man' producer Laura Ziskin passes away at 61

A remarkable life and career cut short and remembered

<p>Laura Ziskin produced the Academy Awards show twice, but will likely be remembered most for her work on the 'Spider-Man' series</p>

Laura Ziskin produced the Academy Awards show twice, but will likely be remembered most for her work on the 'Spider-Man' series

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Laura Ziskin was an uncommonly decent person, and not just by the admittedly low standards of Hollywood culture.

I had several encounters with Ziskin over the years, and always found her to be sharp, funny, and kind, and it was obvious on every set of hers I ever visited that she cared deeply about the work she was doing.  I remember two different times that Harry Knowles and I dealt with her, once on the set for the original "Spider-Man" in 2001, and then again on the set of the live TV version of "Fail Safe," and in both cases, she went out of her way to deal with us personally instead of handing us over to publicists or assistants.  When she talked about the projects she was working on, it never felt to me like I was being hard-sold something.  Instead, she was just a tireless cheerleader for her collaborators, knowing full well how hard it is to produce even a bad film, much less a great one.

Get Instant Alerts on Motion/Captured

Around the Web