Young adult literature, as a broad, overall genre umbrella, confuses me.
It's a huge business these days. It's taken over giant swaths of the chain bookstores, and it seems like every time I turn around, there's a new sensation, a new series that kids are crazy about, and Hollywood's chasing those audiences like Boy Scouts on a snipe hunt, catching dozens of "Eragon"s or "City Of Ember"s for every "Twilight" or "Harry Potter."
James Frey, the writer who was humiliated on Oprah Winfrey's show after the truth about his "memoir" came out, has rebounded into a new career as the manager of a young adult literature sweatshop of sorts, where he manages a lot of young writers on a bunch of different ideas at once, and "I Am Number Four" is the result of one of those collaborations with a guy named Jobie Hughes. The movie, in theaters and IMAX today, was adapted from the book by "Pittacus Lore" by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Marti Noxon, and it should be little surprise that a TV dream team like that has put together what feels like a very expensive pilot for a series I doubt we're ever going to see.
It's familiar fare. Alex Pettyfer stars as "John Smith," a teenager who is perpetually on the run, moving from town to town with Henri, played by Timothy Olyphant. Henri is his bodyguard, and the two of them are fugitives from a distant planet called Lorien. They are being hunted by the Mogadorians, big creepy dudes with sharp teeth and funky tattoos on their heads. There are others like John and Henri, but they're scattered, all hiding on their own. And each time the Mogadorians catch and kill one of them, another tattoo on John's leg lights up and burns him and tells him that they're one step closer, and they're coming for him as well.
Young adult literature, as a broad, overall genre umbrella, confuses me.
Well, that was quick.
Sean Daniel has been producing movies for 20 years now, and before that, he was a studio executive at Universal, having supervised films like "National Lampoon's Animal House" and "Do The Right Thing." He's a guy who has fairly broad taste as a producer, having worked on films like "Dazed and Confused," "Tombstone," "The Mummy," and "The Wolfman."
And now Sean Daniel is the producer of "Dead Island," based on the video game that became a buzz sensation based on the animated trailer that premiered a few days ago.
For most of his career, Daniel was partnered with Jim Jacks in Alphaville, but he recently established The Sean Daniel Company, and they're the ones who bought the rights to the game. It's really no wonder the rights sold this quickly. When something blows up like that, there's a momentum that can push things over, and this is a case where the heat was so instant, and so widespread, that it was a matter of who, not when.
I think we're being punked.
I've never met Jaume Collet-Serra. Never spoken with him. All I can judge is the way he approaches his films, and so far, he strikes me as a prankster. It's sort of like with Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant, two very funny guys who also write movies like "Night At The Museum" and "The Love Bug." It feels like they're writing these films almost as a dare to studio executives. "Go ahead. Tell me I'm not taking this seriously. Tell me you understand comedy well enough to explain why something does or doesn't work." And when no one calls them on it, people actually make these movies and treat them like they're meant to be good.
With Collet-Serra, he has made a grand total of four movies now. One of them, "Goal II: Living The Dream," is part of a trilogy of soccer movies that all pretty much look and play the same, so you can't really judge it as his. With "House Of Wax" and "Orphan," though, I got the same feeling watching both movies. He's obviously skilled with a camera, and there's a playful sense of style to what he does.
But the movies themselves? Totally bats**t crazy.
And the feeling I get as I watch these films is that Collet-Serra totally knows that. I think he reads a script and decides, "Oh, this is obviously written by a crazy person. OF COURSE I want to direct it." I know David Johnson, who wrote "Orphan," and while David seems like a perfectly charming, intelligent, sane person, I would say "Orphan" proves that there are great churning seas of madness just below that surface. That is one wackadoo thriller. It's fun because it is so unapologetically loony.
Remember about a week ago, when I was all, "OMG, Shane Black might direct 'Iron Man 3'!" and you were all "No way, dude," and I was all "Yuh-huh!" and you were all "He's not gonna get that job." and I was all "Yuh-huh he totally should"?
Well, guess what? HitFix can now confirm that Shane Black is in final negotiations to direct "Iron Man 3" Although Marvel Studios will not confirm the negotiations at this time, sources have confirmed to HitFix that the deal is moving forward and should be finished soon.
I'm still seeing some indifference or even outright dismissal of Black as a director as I watch reactions stream by this afternoon, but the first thing that you have to keep in mind is that Marvel needed to find a filmmaker who would make Robert Downey Jr. happy for this third film, and if he brings nothing else to the table, Black's got that covered. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was a crucial movie in Downey's filmography, the right film at the right time to prove to studios that he was still able to turn up the charm. You could argue that everything Downey has today started with "KKBB," and that he owes Black a return of that sort of career boost.
Yesterday, waaaaaaaaay down at the very bottom of The Morning Read, I ran a video that is a trailer for a new video game called "Dead Island." I thought it was a nifty little mood piece, and that's about all the thought I gave it.
It is genuinely amazing to me, then, to see just how much impact one dialogue-free video game ad can have. If you look at Twitter, "Dead Island" has been trending for the last 24 hours. If you go to Google and search, there are hundreds of news articles in the last 24 hours. Axis Animation, the Scottish production house that made the trailer, has become a big story today. I'm even hearing that the film rights to "Dead Island" have become a hot property based entirely on that one short spot.
Here's how you know it's huge: Devin Faraci has written a strongly-worded editorial dismissing it.
All of this for something that is essentially a zombie version of a Coldplay video. Why? What is it about internet culture that allows something that brief and, honestly speaking, inconsequential, to suddenly become an overnight phenomenon? I think the next big talent pool for feature film directors is not going to be from music videos or short films, but from video game cut scenes and from these moody sort of announcement videos that have become increasingly common in the gaming industry.
That's the name you'd think of first when you're thinking of filmmakers to get a "Wonder Woman" feature film off the ground, right?
That was the first name I remember hearing attached to it. That was when I was working on the Universal lot, and Reitman, along with Michael Gross and Joe Medjuck, was set to produce the film for Warner Bros. They had their offices for Montecito Films there at Universal, part of their overall deal. Reitman worked on the film for something like six years, going through several treatments and scripts and writers in the process.
By the time I started contributing regularly to Ain't It Cool News, "Wonder Woman" was starting to heat up again, and the word I heard was that Reitman had one more shot to get it right. That was around 1998.
Didn't happen. So Warner Bros. gave the project to Jon Peters.
Didn't happen. So Warner Bros. gave the project to Joel Silver.
And Joel Silver started hiring writers. Jon Coen, one of the guys who worked on "Minority Report," ended up doing a few drafts, and that same era, Silver seemed bound and determined to hire Sandra Bullock to play the character. Her name ended up tied to the role for several years, and not just by fanboys, but by Silver himself. Todd Alcott ended up writing a few drafts, and I remember reading a few of them around 2000 or 2001, and not really recognizing the character. She was a spy who could fly around the world like Superman, and there was a lot of action, but it didn't strike me as being "Wonder Woman" in any specific way.
When I first read Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns," it felt revolutionary to see someone imagine Batman and Superman at the other end of their lives, after decades on the job had worn down their bodies and their souls, and ever since then, we've seen any number of superhero tropes bent and broken for fun by all sorts of creators. At this point, it's silly to call anything in the genre "post-modern," because the entire superhero world has been turned inside out so many times that it's hard to tell where the deconstruction begins anymore.
Which is not to say there's no room for a good idea, and it sounds to me like Jonathan Ross, the TV host and comic book addict who is married to Jane Goldman, has come up with a pretty cracking good idea. Matthew Vaughn, Goldman's frequent creative partner, evidently feels the same way because he's starting to discuss his plans to bring "The Golden Age" to the bigscreen.
There's no guarantee at this point that Vaughn will direct the film, but he's definitely involved in developing it for the bigscreen. The comic isn't even in stores yet, but that didn't stop Vaughn when he signed on to bring "Kick-Ass" to life before it was on comic shelves, and that worked out pretty well for him. In this case, the book deals with a retirement home for superheroes, and a group of them who decide to help out their grandchildren when the world is threatened.
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Holy cow… Michel Gondry adapting "Ubik" as a film is one of those things I wouldn't even dream of asking for, because I'd figure there's no way anyone would actually pony up the money to make that real. Yet that's the word this morning, and if Gondry really does end up making that film, it could be the Phillip K. Dick adaptation that Dick deserves. His literary legacy has been deeply abused by Hollywood over the years, and if you only know him from the movies that are loosely based on his work, you'd think he was a guy who had big ideas and wrote a whoooooole lot of stupid action scenes. The truth is that movies have rarely done well by his work. There's a spiritual component to his books and stories that is often intentionally overlooked, and the surreality of his best work is often abandoned in favor of empty explosions. Gondry would be a perfect filmmaker to adapt "Ubik," one of the headiest of all of Dick's novels, and I can honestly say that it sounds like such a perfect marriage of filmmaker and material that I can't believe it will ever come to pass. Please, Gondry, prove me wrong.
I've seen "Drive Angry 3D" twice now, and I'll say it plain: it's fun.
It is big and silly and badass and fun. Nicolas Cage is so totally in on the joke from the moment he appears onscreen and William Fichtner is commanding, to say the least. Amber Heard is Amber Heard, as preposterously sculpted as ever, and she does indeed play an archetypical Last Girl with a great deal of gusto.
In building their muscle-car mythology, Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer spoke fluent film nerd to each other, as they do in any conversation you have with either of them, and especially when they're together. I find I'm speaking a lot of the same particular language as them, which may be why I enjoy their work.
They sent over something just for you today, a back-and-forth look at seven movies that left unmistakable fingerprints on "Drive Angry 3D." Just reading the way they digested these movies, I think you'll get a real clear idea of whether or not you're interested in what they've done. They make a case for their film better than I can, so check this out and see if you're in tune with them, too:
You know, sometimes even the best of intentions, commercially or critically, don't matter. Something might make sense on paper but not work when it is actually released, and in some cases, it would be merciful if someone just had the heart to pull the plug early.
Last week, Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that he had told his agents at CAA to start seriously considering film offers again, and there was much rejoicing by fanboys who don't own calendars. Evidently, people think Arnold's going to just pick right up and start making the exact kind of movies he used to make, as evidenced by the story on Deadline today which indicates that Universal is starting to eye the "Terminator" rights again with the notion of Justin Lin directing.
Guys… that's a bad idea.
First of all, I think enough money has been thrown at the "Terminator" franchise, and the audience just doesn't seem to care. They couldn't get an audience to show up for "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," and they couldn't get an audience to show up for "Terminator: Salvation," and in the end, I don't know anyone who still cares. There's no pressing narrative issue that anyone really needs addressed, and the only reasoning behind those rights still being sold or resold is that number-crunchers think there's more juice to be squeezed from the orange. I know, I know… they've got William Wisher tossing out ideas, and Wisher's as close to Cameron as you're going to get at this point, but it doesn't change the fact that no one cares.