Inside Movies & DVD with Drew McWeeny
As the 'Avengers' moves on, so does the actor
Liv Tyler and Edward Norton appeared together at the premiere for 'The Incredible Hulk' at Universal Studios Hollywood.
I had no idea the weekend would play out like that when I put up the first piece on Friday about Edward Norton not being asked back as The Hulk for "The Avengers." The back and forth of the statements released to HitFix from Marvel President of Production Kevin Feige and Edward Norton's WME representation was feisty, to say the least, and the story seems to have spread everywhere.
This morning, though, it feels like this chapter came to a close with the release of a statement by Edward Norton on his Facebook page, and thankfully that statement is not an escalation of the already-existing tensions. Instead, it's simply Norton gracefully saying that he enjoyed playing the part and he looks forward to seeing who is next to play the iconic role.
So despite all the sound and energy this weekend, nothing's really changed. Well, Devin Faraci's running the rumor that Joaquin Phoenix might be up for the role, and it makes a certain kind of sense. I've been told Phoenix was actually in the running for the part when they did the reboot with "The Incredible Hulk," and the art department actually worked up some Phoenix-as-Hulk art at the time. So maybe Marvel's figuring they've already got the design part down if he comes onboard, right?
Look, whoever it is, I'm obviously still very interested in "The Avengers." The real shame of it is that I thought they had the cast right. Whoever you cast as Banner needs to be able to stand toe-to-toe with Robert Downey Jr. and look like he can actually hold his own in an intellectual back and forth with the guy. I would love for the human scenes in the film to be as exciting as any of the superhero stuff, and I hope when Marvel does hire a new Banner, they end up with someone who brings real weight to the table.
As HitFix reported Friday, Edward Norton will not return to role of Bruce Banner
Next time The Incredible Hulk shows up onscreen, in 2012's 'The Avengers,' it will be a brand-new actor playing the role of Bruce Banner.
Credit: Universal/Marvel Studios
[Update - Sunday, July 11 2:10 PM PST: Edward Norton's agent responds to Kevin Feige's statement below.]
As HitFix exclusively reported yesterday, Marvel Studios has now confirmed that it is moving forward on development with their summer 2012 blockbuster "The Avengers," and they have decided not to cast Edward Norton in the key role of Bruce Banner, aka The Incredible Hulk.
In a statement sent in direct response to yesterday's story from the set of "Captain America" in London, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige forwarded the following exclusively to HitFix:
"We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks."
And that, as they say, appears to be that.
Fan reaction regarding Norton's departure from the role has been vocal, and there has certainly been much outrage at the idea of such a major piece of the puzzle being recast. There are also fans who are so anxious to see any version of "The Avengers" onscreen that the individual casting is less important to them than the issues of villains or storyline. One thing that is interesting in the statement is the indication that they are, indeed, looking for a name to replace Norton, and not an unknown. Who they pick will ultimately determine whether this continues to be an issue for fans or not.
She's seventeen, she could buy and sell me, and she's normal?I Madness
Miranda Cosgrove at the press day for 'Despicable Me,' the new animated comedy
If you ever want to put the magnitude (or lack thereof) of your own accomplishments in this world into perspective, I recommend interviewing Miranda Cosgrove.
When I was her age, I was basically a fire hazard with a driver's license, a complete hormonal lunatic who ran roughshod through my family life and my part-time job and my school year. My junior year is a blur, and I'm genuinely lucky I lived through it, being as stupid as I was. At 17, I couldn't be trusted to get from point A to point B without screwing it up.
Miranda Cosgrove runs an empire.
Sure, she's got help, but this is a 17-year-old who has already headlined a TV phenomenon (Nickelodeon's "iCarly") and who is just kickstarting what looks to be a huge pop music career. She's got an army of motivated fans, and she seems to be blissfully normal and scandal free. In conversation, she's bright and engaged and an utter professional.
Depressing. Suicidally depressing. I'm over twice her age, and I still feel like I'm doing good if I make it out of the house without forgetting my belt.
After the interview, she was kind enough to sign a CD cover for a five year old friend of Toshi's, and that CD cover pretty much blew that little girl's mind. I may not have much sense of Cosgrove apart from her performance in "Despicable Me," but it's obvious that she's very important to a generation of little girls. I'm always curious about what it is that causes a fanbase to latch on like that, which is why I'll always approach something like "Twilight" with genuine curiosity.
Flawed films both offer enough to be worth seeing
Jack Rebney is infamous from a YouTube video of outtakes from a commercial he starred in years ago, and he's the subject of the new documentary 'Winnebego Man'
Credit: Kino International
"Winnebego Man" is not, to my great surprise, the documentary about the socially awkward hippie who dropped out and retreated to the wilderness with his girlfriend, only to get them both eaten by a Winnebego.
It is, however, an ugly close-up look at a particular flavor of modern fame that is also explored in a different light in another documentary, also opening in limited release today, and taken together, "Winnebego Man" and "Cropsey" are interesting glimpses at the way our culture is shaped by media, the way media can affect an individual when caught in its unblinking gaze, and the notion of truth as captured by video and by word of mouth. Both films are flawed, but they are dealing with such compelling ideas that I don't mind, and in fact, I think they're significant because of what they say about where we are now.
The age of YouTube is an unforgiving one. One mistake, and you will be immortalized, roasted, parodied, chewed up and spit out. Just ask the Star Wars Kid how rough it can get.
There is a hunger for human failure, and video cameras have made what used to be a personal and temporary thing into the potential for sudden international notoriety. Jack Rebney, the subject of "Winnebego Man," was just trying to film a sales video for the Winnebego company when he stumbled into his fame via a series of profane and furious outtakes that were leaked. I'm not sure how I've managed to go this long without seeing any of the clips that seem to be fairly omnipresent on YouTube, and if you're in the same boat, allow me to introduce you to the miracle of Jack Rebney's vocabulary, which I warn you is decidedly not safe for work:
Is Marvel's tough business approach about to burn down a fan dream team?
This is what fans looked like when they found out that Marvel Studios plans to replace Edward Norton with 'an unknown' in the upcoming megamovie, 'The Avengers.'
Credit: Universal/Marvel Studios
[Update: Marvel releases an exclusive statement to HitFix confirming Edward Norton will not star as Bruce Banner in "The Avengers." Full details here.]
In two weeks, the San Diego Comic-Con gets underway, a mecca for fans of pop culture of all types, and the ultimate sweet spot for any company will be showing up with a comic-book movie and giant movie stars. There will be a parade of talent heading across that stage at Hall H, announcing projects, showing clips, and promoting movies. How much of a reaction do you think there would be if Marvel introduced Joss Whedon as the official director of "The Avengers," something that they've been refusing to confirm ever since the rumors first broke? And how much of a reaction would there be if he walked out onstage to personally introduce The Avengers?
Imagine that. "Ladies and gentlemen, you all know Tony Stark..." and there's Robert Downey Jr. "Of course, you know Nick Fury..." and there's Samuel L. Jackson. "I'd like to introduce you to two more of our team members, Thor..." and out walks Chris Hemsworth. "... and Captain America..." and then Chris Evans joins everyone else onstage. "... and, of course, the jolly green giant himself, The Hulk!"
And then some guy no one's ever seen walks out. And he is decidedly not Edward Norton.
Does that make sense to anyone else?
Because right now... that's the plan. After all the careful groundwork that Marvel Studios has laid the last few years, and after the way they've built this great cast film after film, they're going to make a colossal misstep at the finish line. According to Marvel sources, the company has decided that they are going to cast "an unknown" to play Bruce Banner and The Hulk in the film.
Great 3D and an engaging wit makes this a winner
This is either a scene featuring the Minions from 'Despicable Me,' or it is the absolute weirdest mosh pit of all time.
I am genuinely pleased and surprised that "Despicable Me" is an above-average animated comedy. Pleased because I feel like parents get punished so often walking into the theater for this kind of a film that when they aren't punished, it is a rare delight. And surprised because Illumination Entertainment is a start-up, a first time animation studio, and getting a movie this right is something that some companies never pull off, let alone the first time they try.
"Despicable Me" is the story of Gru (Steve Carell, using one of the weirdest Eurotrash accents possible), a supervillain who isn't really very good at his job. He's a minor key nuisance at best, and he's finding it increasingly difficult to get the Bank Of Evil to underwrite his efforts. When a new supervillain named Vector (Jason Segel) shows up and starts pulling off the sort of jobs that Gru wishes he could do, Gru realizes that he needs to do something amazing to secure his place in the hierarchy of evil. He launches his biggest plan yet with the help of Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) and his army of Minions, weird little yellow creatures who provide many of the film's biggest laughs, and in the process, sets off a battle of the bad guys with Vector.
This would be plenty to keep Gru busy, but he faces another challenge at the same time, and it's far more difficult. Looking for an easy way into Vector's house, he temporarily adopts three orphan girls named Margo ("iCarly" star Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), hoping to use them and their cookie sales as a distraction. Gru doesn't expect to feel anything towards the girls, and why would he? His own mother (voiced with evident relish by Julie Andrews) was an unfeeling monster, and Gru has no desire to be a father, no inclination to nurture. What we plan and what we accomplish in life are often different things, though, and "Despicable Me" illustrates that with charm and wit to spare.
With two movies in theaters this month, the comic performer is flying high
Steve Carell, seen here in 'Dinner For Schmucks,' has two movies in release this July and recently sat down with HItFix to discuss them.
When I posted the first of my two recent conversations with Steve Carell the other day, I mentioned that we actually had that conversation face-to-face at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. It's a beautiful hotel, commonly used by the studios for the various press days we participate in, and typically I would have just waited there so I could have the second conversation with Carell in person.
I had to run home, though, so when I did call in for the interview, he answered the phone already laughing.
Steve Carell: So... you couldn't take it anymore, could you?
SC: Pure torture, isn't it?
Drew: Oh, it was unbearable. I mean, how can you stand it? It’s luxurious and it's nice and there's room service. Oh, my God.
Drew: Yeah, I saw Craig Robinson downstairs as I was leaving.
SC: Oh, how is he doing?
Drew: He was out front, getting ready for the “Hot Tub Time Machine” Playboy Mansion party tonight, so...
A look at the book that kicked off the phenomenon and the first film in the series
Noomi Rapace has been embraced by fans worldwide for her performance as Lisbeth Salander, the lead character in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'
Credit: Music Box Films
This week marks the DVD and Blu-ray release of the Swedish film version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," and so it seems like the perfect time for me to jump in and finally write about this international phenomenon, the first part in what is called "The Millennium Trilogy," well aware that I am about to engage a fanbase just as vocal and opinionated as that of the "Twilight" books or the "Harry Potter" series.
As societal standards change, art has to respond by updating the archetypes it uses in storytelling, and so we find ourselves now at the dawn of the age of the Autistic Superhero. I'd argue that this particular idea was introduced to the mainstream in "Rain Man," in which Dustin Hoffman played a sort of exaggerated and ultra-capable version of what was then understood to be the "typical" autistic. Now, just over 20 years later, we've got TV shows like "The Big Bang Theory" where an obviously autistic character is carefully never referred to as autistic, and in pop culture the notion of the socially-awkward-but-brilliant specialist in this or that continues to get used and re-used. Now, with Lisbeth Salander, we get one of the most aggressive interpretations of the archetype so far, and the public appears to have fallen head over heels with this teeny-tiny bundle of fury.
Robert Rodriguez spearheads a return to form for this movie monster
No, really... go ahead... call me Larry. See what happens. And while you're thinking that over, buy a ticket to 'Predators.' Or else.
Credit: 20th Century Fox
In the interest of full disclosure, I should state for the record that my writing partner and I met with Robert Rodriguez as he was gearing up to make this film as co-writer/producer, before writers had been hired, and we pitched our take on the movie. Obviously, we didn't get the job, but as big genre fans, we were happy to at least get in the room and talk about this franchise and how to return it to a place of respect with someone as visibly enthusiastic as Robert was. If you believe that my losing a job would disqualify me from being able to speak about the final film in a fair way, then feel free to skip to the next story now.
I remember seeing the original "Predator" in the theater when I was seventeen, walking in with absolutely no expectations. I went with about six friends because it was free (we were all theater employees), it was new, and it was an excuse to smoke some doobs, drive across Tampa, and stay out late. I had no expectations for the film. At that point, I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger was only as good as the directors he worked with, and John McTiernan was an unfamiliar name. I thought his only previous film, "Nomads," was decent but certainly no guarantee that his next film would be anything special, and writers Jim and John Thomas were equally unknown quantities. As much as I loved "Conan The Barbarian" and "The Terminator," I thought Arnold's taste was largely suspect, and I was worried that "army dudes fighting a monster in the jungle" sounded like it was going to be cheesy. That was my greatest fear walking into a movie in the '80s... that special brand of embarrassing cheesy that still distinguishes '80s movies from all others.
Festival favorite finally arives on home video
Peter Marshall is the face of fatherly vengeance and wrath in the searing Australian drama 'The Horseman'
Credit: Umbrella Entertainment
And when I say "festival favorite" in that secondary headline, what I mean is "one of my favorite films I saw during a festival." That festival happened to be SXSW '09, so it was over a year ago, but for me, the film stood out then and hearing it's finally available for audiences to see in some form is great news, reason to revisit it.
Steven Kastrissios is the young writer/director of the film, and it's one of those names that I look up after seeing a film, knowing that I'm going to have to learn to spell it, because I have no doubt I'll be writing it many times over the years to come as he moves on to whatever's next. This is not a film I'd recommend because it somehow shatters the narrative paradigm or reinvents aesthetic film language... it's just a meat and potatoes revenge film, a father who is on a linear furious path of revenge against anyone involved in turning his daughter into first a porn "star" and second a corpse.
Christian (Peter Marshall) is an obviously named lead, ironic in every moment, but that sort of obvious move is countered by the surprising tenderness and depth of Marshall's work as a father whose entire system has been fried by the idea of his daughter dying. The further he digs into circumstance, the less he likes what he learns, and that pain would be bad enough without the idea of murder entering into it. His rage would already be something any father watching the film would identify with, something primal and direct. But knowing what happened to her, finding out detail after detail of it, just tears him to pieces, like the pain from her passing is this bullet that just keeps rattling around inside him, shredding, cutting, till nothing's left.