There's a distinct possibility that the first film my younger son Allen sees in the theater will be Gore Verbinski's "Rango."
For one thing, it comes out on his third birthday. That's convenient. That wouldn't matter, except he's obsessed with the first trailer for the movie. And I have to agree with him that it's one of the more arresting, interesting movie trailers I've seen in a while. Visually, the film is unusual and striking and you almost need to see the trailer a few times just to get a handle on what you're looking at. But it's the comedy that he's smitten with, and he'll act the trailer out every time. He walks into my office, gives me a solemn, "Dad, play the lizard and the bird," and then plop himself onto my knee, waiting.
Every single time through, he would pretend to be a cactus when Rango would pretend to be a cactus, and then giggle like he was being tickled. I love seeing him fall for something, openly adore something like that. And it makes me love "Rango" right away.
There's a distinct possibility that the first film my younger son Allen sees in the theater will be Gore Verbinski's "Rango."
AUSTIN, TX - With programming ranging from a short look at one scene from Gore Verbinski's psychedelic animated Western "Rango" to an extended 40-minute sneak of "Cowboys and Aliens" to the full-length premiere screenings of "True Grit," "The Fighter," "TRON: Legacy," and "The Green Hornet," this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon was packed with sneak preview material.
It's hard to believe it's been 12 years now that Ain't It Cool News and the Alamo Drafthouse have been throwing this annual birthday party/nerd extravaganza for Harry Knowles. I still remember the original late night phone calls with Harry talking about his dreams for the thing. Originally, the idea was that you'd pay a low price of $25 to get in, but as the 24 hours wore on, the programming would become intentionally more punishing, and anyone who wanted out early had to pay, and the earlier you left, the more it would cost. The original poster for the first festival played into the idea that once we locked those doors, you were in for a wild ride programmed by a dangerous crazy person. Very quickly, though, BNAT developed into a very special event, a combination of very personal vintage programming, practical jokes, endurance tests, and, yes, sneak premieres of some of the biggest films of the year.
When we last spoke to Michael Sheen at at Comic Con in July, not a lot was known about his character Castor, nor exactly how he fit into the story of the film. But Mr. Sheen spoke so enthusiastically about the project, it was obvious that he was a "Tron nerd." He spoke of keeping his "11 year old self" happy by doing the film.
Cut to half a year later and his enthusiasm is in no way muted. Sitting down with his beautiful costar, Beau Garrett, we find that Sheen was highly involved in the development of his character and his look. "It was great to be a part of that and influence the direction the character went" says sheen.
Beau Garrett, on the other hand, stepped onto a much more wholly formed concept in her part as the siren Gem. "It was an idea Joe (director Joseph Kosinski) had had for a long time. I sort of got to jump into something that was already created." said the actress.
If I had been back from Austin in time this morning, I would have gone to Disneyland to see the crazy party that Disney threw for the premiere of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" trailer. How do I know it was crazy if I wasn't there? Because it's Disney, and when they want to impress upon you that something of theirs is an event, there's no one who can do it bigger. And in the case of this particular film, Disney's making one of the biggest bets they've ever made as a studio, and seeing it pay off is of utmost importance.
After all, Gore Verbinski was the director of all three of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" films, and he's just as much a part of their success as Johnny Depp's work as Captain Jack Sparrow is. The films are all, even if you're not crazy about how overstuffed they get, remarkably built pop entertainments. That sort of stuff doesn't come natural to every filmmaker, and I'm interested to see how Rob Marshall does with the responsibility of transforming this from a trilogy of hugely successful films into an ongoing franchise for the studio. RIght now, that's still a hypothetical proposition, even if I was able to confirm recently that they're planning to shoot the fifth and sixth films in the series next year in Hawaii. For now, though, they've got Marshall's name front and center in the trailer for what it's worth, and they're counting on him to figure it out.
You can almost smell the horses in these four clips from the Coen brothers remake of the John Wayne Classic "True Grit." Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld star together as an unlikely posse, in pursuit of a killer played by Josh Brolin.
Jeff Bridges stars as Rooster Cogburn, a character so different from his Kevin Flynn in "Tron Legacy," also in theaters this month, it could make your head spin. Matt Damon is LaBoef, a Texas Ranger and Hailee Steinfeld is Mattie Ross, a stubborn young girl who hires Cogburn to chase down Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father.
Drew had the pleasure of seeing it and reviewing it here and I'm looking forward to seeing it soon, in the meantime, check out the four clips embedded below for a taste of each of these characters and see if you'll want to join the hunt when the movie opens in two weeks.
MANHATTAN BEACH, CA - Standing in the middle of Heimdall's Observatory, with the Rainbow Bridge extending from the front of the room, we need only turn the dials built into the walls and the floor to send ourselves anywhere in the Universe.
Of course, we may have to get past the frozen warrior standing outside first.
When I got the call to join a group of other journalists on the set of the new Marvel Studios movie "Thor," due in theaters next May, I didn't have to think about it. For one thing, it's not every day you can drive your own car for just over an hour and end up in Asgard. And for another thing, I was curious to see how Marvel planned to handle one of the trickiest of the steps on the road to "The Avengers," and I'll be the first to admit it… I had my doubts.
After all, it's one thing to make a movie like "Iron Man," or a movie like "The Incredible Hulk," where we see fantastic characters dropped into a world that is very recognizable. That's a big part of the Marvel Universe in general, and one of the reasons for its enduring appeal. But with "Thor," you're introducing a whole new world of rules, and you're suddenly stretching the Marvel Universe in a new direction, expanding it to include magic. I've always liked "Thor" as a comic, but as a film? It seems like the biggest gamble yet for Marvel Studios.
Film fantasy has always been tricky, and one of the biggest reasons is because it's tough to make magic feel real, and it's even tougher to make a magical world work onscreen without it feeling like a bunch of special effects. Growing up, I had to really exercise my suspension of disbelief on the fantasy films I loved, and that's fine. That was part of the pleasure of those films, handing yourself over to the imperfect illusion, and it seemed like great fantasies were few and far between, so as a young filmgoer, I learned to savor whatever I got and enjoy the things that worked while overlooking the things that didn't.
We live in a remarkable age, though, when the wholesale creation of miracles has become commonplace, and we've gotten to the point where we almost routinely ignore the amazing. The thing is, when the technical game has been raised for everyone, and the heavy lifting of world-building can be done to such an astonishing degree in film after film, it all comes back to the intangible, the hard-to-define, the genuinely magic, and that is just as rare as it's ever been.
For all the effort involved in the first two films in the "Narnia" franchise, neither film worked completely for me. I think they are both handsomely made and ambitious and serious-minded enough that I respect the efforts, and there's an admirable loyalty to the work of C.S. Lewis in the adaptations. The second film improved on the first film in several ways, and one of the things that worked in its favor was the cumulative weight of watching the young cast playing the Pensevie kids grow up between films. Now, with "The Voyage Of The Dawn Trader," the franchise has managed to deliver its best adventure yet, and I'm curious to see if it ends up being too little too late.
Tron: Legacy is a faithful follow up to the 1982 Disney classic (cult classic?) It's amazing on the eyes and makes great use of 3D technology to truly create an immersive world. But with "modern" also came "serious" and the film tends to remain on the grim side of things with considerably less humor than the first. One exception to this tone, however is the appearance of Castor, played by Michael Sheen.
In the film, Castor owns the "End of Line" club, and is apparently the man to see if you want to get in touch with Zuse, a powerful rebel fighting against CLU. Sheen has a blast playing the flamboyant club owner, and is one of the few actors in the film that appear to be having fun.
His costume is all glam rock and If you'll notice, this is also the scene where Daft Punk makes their cameo appearance. They were obviously sucked into this universe after playing "Derezzed" in Flynn's Arcade.
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie both seem to have approached "The Tourist" with the same intent, and there are stretches of the film that are pure tactile pleasure as a result of the inherent energy that exists between two smart and pretty movie stars with their charisma turned up to "high."
And make no mistake… "The Tourist" exists solely as a vehicle for an audience to spend a few hours staring at movie stars. As a film, it's not "about" anything. There's no depth, no subtext, no greater significance. It is a piffle, a trifle, a souffle. For a film like this to work at all, it needs to be lighter than air, pure candy, and there are absolutely moments where "The Tourist" gets all of that right, where everything aligns, and in those moments, it is a reminder of why that sort of thing is enjoyable in the first place.
Unfortunately, the film can't sustain that feeling for the full running time, and all those pesky plot mechanics keep getting in the way. The film is about a woman, Elise Ward (Angelina Jolie), who is being watched carefully by the Financial Crimes division of England's government. Why? She was the lover of a man named Alexander Pearce, a con artist who vanished with hundreds of millions of dollars. It's been two years, and they've been watching her, waiting for the moment he emerges to contact her so they can swoop in and arrest him. Paul Bettany plays Inspector Acheson, the man in charge of the case, and he's obsessed with it, and with Elise Ward as well.
SANTA FE – One of the joys of the “Cowboys and Aliens” set visit was getting to hang out with Bob Orci. The guy is a bundle of energy and really likes to talk about his projects. For ‘Cowboys’ he’s performing double duties as writer and as producer, so he had spent a better part of the past three months before our visit on set in the New Mexico desert. As I mentioned before, the set had a light and happy mood, or perhaps everyone was just happy to have someone new to talk to.
Ever since the trailer premiered last week, there has been talk, most notably in the New York Times about audience expectations about a movie with such a flatly comedic title like “Cowboys and Aliens” but a very serious tone, even in the trailer. Orci was aware of this disconnect and talked to us about the various directions they thought about going tone-wise before settling on “Western, interrupted.” He looked upon it as an advantage.
We all know of movies that work really well for the online film folks and the Comic Con crowd, but falter when they hit the less “quirky” world of mainstream audiences (Scott-COUGH-Pilgrim-COUGH.) Obviously with talent like Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde, Orci and company do not mean for this picture to only appeal to a niche audience, even though the film is based loosely on a comic book by Scott Michael Rosenberg and Damon Lindelof. Mr. Orci seemed confident that they had enough lead time to get audiences used to the idea of a non-ironic movie with a very ironic title. Time will tell if he was right.