<p>Zack Snyder is directing and co-producing an adaptation of the 'Guardians Of Ga'hoole'&nbsp;novels, which got a new title today.</p>

Zack Snyder is directing and co-producing an adaptation of the 'Guardians Of Ga'hoole' novels, which got a new title today.

Zack Snyder's 'Guardians' no longer guarding Ga'hoole

Animated film gets a new title

Last December, I was one of several people who visited the set of Zack Snyder's next live-action film, "Sucker Punch," and it'll be a while before we're cleared to write about what we saw.  One of the more interesting detours for the day, though, was a presentation of the other film that Zack and his wife/producer Debbie Snyder are working on, a CGI animated film that was called "The Guardians Of Ga'hoole."

I say "was" because as of today, the title has changed.

According to Borys Kit at the HeatVision Blog, the new title for the film is "Legend Of The Guardians."  I can understand that the world "Ga'hoole" might have thrown people before they see the film, but it's a distinct title, and as with "The Secret of NIMH," which this sort of reminds me of, it's a title that hints at a secret and that pays off once you've seen the movie.

The film is all CGI, produced in collaboration with the folks at Animal Logic, who were the primary CGI house on "Happy Feet."  We didn't see much finished work in December, but what we saw was lush and beautiful, and there was a genuinely scary edge to much of the footage, even in rough form.  I think it's a really interesting left turn for Snyder as a director, and I totally understand his desire to make something that his kids can see.  It doesn't feel like he's treating it as something less than his live-action films, though.  Instead, it feels like his sensibility, with the same sort of action choreography.  It's just that the stars of the film are owls and other animals.

Read Full Post
<p>Angelina Jolie may work with Darren Aronofsky on an adaptation of the novel 'Serena' if they can find someone willing to foot the bill.</p>

Angelina Jolie may work with Darren Aronofsky on an adaptation of the novel 'Serena' if they can find someone willing to foot the bill.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

TMR: Angelina Jolie teams up with Darren Aronofsky for an intense drama

Plus an interesting Twitter experiment starts and 'Tron' goes full IMAX

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I have a goal for March.  I have a number of reviews that I've been sitting on, mainly because there are only 24 hours in any given day, but before I leave for South By Southwest in Austin... before I do one more festival... my goal is to finish and publish every one of those reviews.  I sincerely hate having a backlog of material, and I want to reach a point where I am caught up, where moving forward, what I have to do is simply new stuff.  Over the course of any year, things just kind of stack up, and it's time to clear house.

In general, I find myself constantly struggling to do better, to be more efficient, to manage my time in a more productive way.  It's never easy.  But if I didn't keep working at it, all the various ways I spend my energy would just plain eat me alive.

First things first, if you're on Twitter, you need to follow a girl named @Tyme2Waste.  Trust me.  Do it now.  Read all the tweets she's posted so far.  And then buckle up.  We'll talk about why on Wednesday.

I can't say I'm sorry that Angelina Jolie decided to pass on a sequel to "Wanted."  I don't think anyone really needs that, except maybe Mark Millar and his accountant.  And when she passed on it, she did so to consider some very interesting other offers, including an outer-space picture with Alfonso Cuaron (yes, please) and now word has surfaced that she may be teaming up with Darren Aronofsky on an adaptation of Serena: A Novel.  I haven't read the book, but it sounds intense, and I'd love to see her work with him.  I also love that Aronofsky seems to be working faster and faster these days.  The more movies we get from him, the better.

Interesting story over at /Film about how there will be five sequences in "Tron Legacy" that will take full advantage of the IMAX format, a la "The Dark Knight."  One difference, though, and it's an important one... unlike "The Dark Knight," the sequences weren't shot using actual IMAX cameras.  I didn't go on Saturday for the trailer event, but I'm looking forward to seeing the footage as soon as possible, and I hope the movie is as big a trip as the original was.  Disney's certainly got the full weight of their marketing muscle working on building awareness for it already.

Read Full Post
<p>Mia Wasikowska stars as Alice, along with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, in Tim Burton's new version of 'Alice In Wonderland,' opening in theaters March 5.</p>

Mia Wasikowska stars as Alice, along with Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, in Tim Burton's new version of 'Alice In Wonderland,' opening in theaters March 5.

Credit: Walt Disney Company

The M/C Review: 'Alice In Wonderland' is anything but wonderful

This is one tea party you will not want to attend twice

It's been a little over a week since I saw Tim Burton's new "Alice In Wonderland", which is not so much a remake or an adaptation as it is a sequel, ignoring of course the idea that Lewis Carroll wrote a perfectly lovely sequel himself.  It is wrong-headed in pretty much every way it can be, poorly designed, loud, and worst of all, boring.  It is a catastrophe as a movie, and as a place marker in the career of Tim Burton, it is a big fat dead end.

Remember when it used to be exciting to hear that Tim Burton was making a new film?  Those days seem to be well and truly behind us.  That's a shame, too.  Ever since the moment the lights came up at the end of my first screening of "Pee Wee's Big Adventure," I've been interested in this filmmaker.  I love that film unreservedly.  I think it's witty and beautiful and it has such amazing visual imagination.  I caught up with his short films "Vincent" and "Frankenweenie" later, and I have huge affection for both of them.  "Beetlejuice" is a little messier than "Pee Wee" as a script, but it's still heaps of fun to watch.  I'm not crazy about his "Batman," but I think he was railroaded on that movie.  "Batman Returns" is all his, and I absolutely prefer it for reasons I've written about at length in the past.  "Mars Attacks!" is a film that many people hate, but I think it's a hoot.  It's a mess, but I have to love those crazy little alien bastards hanging around their spaceship in bikini underwear, doing perverted experiments and blowing up things just for fun.  "Sleepy Hollow" is a solid modern-day Hammer film with a groovy movie monster and a love for spilling the red.  "Big Fish" doesn't work for me at all because (A) my father loved me and (B) the stories Albert Finney tells don't work at all thematically.  And "Sweeney Todd" is a movie that works for me in every way except the most important... the music.  And considering it's a Sondheim adaptation, that's made it almost impossible to rewatch.

Read Full Post
<p>Imagine my surprise when I saw the nurse who gave me my last prostate exam in the trailer for the new remake of 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'</p>

Imagine my surprise when I saw the nurse who gave me my last prostate exam in the trailer for the new remake of 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'

Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

A new 'Nightmare On Elm Street' trailer offers familiar scares

But is the film just going to play like a greatest hits rehash?

By now, we're all familiar with the arguments both for and against remaking classic horror films, or even not-so-classic ones.  There are certain titles within the horror community that are considered more sacred than others, though, and approaching a remake of one of these titles, there will naturally be a more pronounced sense of hesitation for fans.

"A Nightmare On Elm Street" was the film that helped establish New Line as a real contender in the independent world.  When it was released, they didn't have any major marketing muscle to help them.  They had to rely on some freaky TV spots and word of mouth, and sure enough, it worked.  Not only did it create a new horror icon in the shape of Freddy Krueger, but it also spawned something like 11,000 sequels.  That's an approximate number, but it was certainly enough of them to dilute him almost completely as a figure of fear.

The problem was twofold.  First, there was little reason for Freddy's return, which makes him automatically less frightening.  Random horror that just strikes for no real reason is less interesting than horror that is specifically targeting you as a victim, or (even worse) horror that you have brought on yourself.  Second, Freddy started to get too damn funny.  I hate wise-cracking Freddy.  This is a guy who was murdered by a group of parents because of what he did to their children.  This is a vile, repulsive human being whose evil was so strong that he he came back from beyond the grave to keep hurting his victims.  And yet, by the time the series was done, Freddy was a Halloween costume for children, a joke.  Defanged to such a degree that it was hard to remember a time when he was genuinely scary.

Read Full Post
<p>What could they possibly do for a 'Paranormal Activity 2'?&nbsp; Well, I'm pretty sure they had a guest room.&nbsp; You could put the camera in there for a while.</p>

What could they possibly do for a 'Paranormal Activity 2'?  Well, I'm pretty sure they had a guest room.  You could put the camera in there for a while.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

TMR: De Palma possible for 'Paranormal 2' and and Variety makes a huge ethical gaffe

Plus the making of "Drunk History' and the best junket moment ever

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Is it really already the last weekend of February?  Good god, at this point, time goes by so fast that I feel like Dave Bowman inside the monolith.  It seems like Sundance was yesterday and SXSW starts tomorrow and in the meantime, I'm just scrambling to write as much as possible.  I'm working on a script with my writing partner for the first time in a year in what little free time I have, and it's felt incredibly good to be finally flexing that creative muscle again.  I love this work I do here at HitFix, but I am amazed that a whole year has already gone by and we're into the second year now.  If I let myself, I could spend every day just churning out articles, and never get around to writing my own material again.

One of the things that takes up a lot of mental real estate is the prep involved in the Morning Read.  I'm always looking for material for it, always bookmarking things for later, and it's changed the way I read things online.  I spend more time now, hunting and reading, and I almost never get to use everything that I bookmark.  This week, several things got on top of me, and as a result, I've got paaaaages of bookmarks, and today, I want to share at least a few, even if I am getting a late start.

Man, I was taken aback when The LA Times ran a piece about the potential directors for "Paranormal Activity 2."  I like the first film, so don't take this wrong, but... what world are we living in where Brian De Palma is considering Oren Peli's leftovers?  That's just f'ing crazy.  Admittedly, De Palma is good at creepy horror, he's been preoccupied with notions of what reality is in front of a camera for decades, and his not-very-good "Redacted" was a direct experiment in this sort of found-footage filmmaking.  So it's not that I think it's a bad choice.  But still... this is BRIAN FREAKING DE PALMA we're talking about.  His career trajectory is so awful that it makes me feel better about my own near-total failure in Hollywood.  If this guy, at this point, is looking this as a potential job, then obviously this business is deeply broken.  Brad Anderson (who's no freshman, no matter what The LA Times says) is a great choice if they can get him.  I'm a little amazed that the list features names I actually like.  I guess the first film's success put Paramount in a great position on this one.  My question is who's going to be able to pull this off and have it in theaters in October.  Sounds like one hell of a ride for some filmmaker, and my guess is we'll have a name soon if they hope to make that date.

Read Full Post
<p>Niels Arestrup and Tahar Rahim co-star in 'A Prophet,' the powerful new film from Jacques Audiard</p>

Niels Arestrup and Tahar Rahim co-star in 'A Prophet,' the powerful new film from Jacques Audiard

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

The M/C Review: 'A Prophet' is intense, harrowing, and a must-see

French film about prison life is jet black but still emotional

A young man is sent to jail.  He ends up under the wing of an older mentor.  He works his way up the private food chain inside the jail and then eventually makes some moves of his own.

It's not a particularly new story, but as told by Jacques Audiard, "Un Prophète" is electrifying, soulful entertainment, a beautifully told film featuring great performances and remarkable cinematography.  I saw the film at the Toronto Film Festival, and it actually made my top 20 for last year.  Here's what I wrote when I included it on the list at #12:

"Jacques Audiard has been building an incredible resume as a director over the last  decade, and he's been working as a writer for almost 30 years now, but to me, it feels like everything came together for the first time here, with 'A Prophet,' a haunting film that takes the 'life in prison' genre and supercharges it with a soul that's normally lacking from these films.  A young Arab man is sent to prison, where he has to learn the rules of survival.  He demonstrates a real knack for it, though, and gradually starts to move his way up the social ladder, eventually crossing into a world that is typically closed to his kind, the Mafia.  The relationship between him and an Corsican crime boss is a study in the way power works, and in the way it fosters resentment that slowly simmers until someone has to die.  The film is visually arresting, but beyond that, it feels authentic, organic, never forced despite the rigid structure of the script.  It is a singular experience, and it managed to take a basic story (someone learning to survive in prison) and make it feel like it's being told for the very first time."

I don't think it's accurate to say this is the first time Audiard has put it all together.  Both "Read My Lips" and "The Beat My Heart Skipped" are very good films, and "A Prophet" is definitely an extension of the work he did on those, the next evolutionary step for him as a filmmaker.  It's just that the jump here from very good to oh-wow-great was enough to send me reeling. 

Read Full Post
<p>Tracy Morgan describes his bowel movements in loving detail to Bruce Willis in Kevin Smith's new buddy-cop comedy 'Cop&nbsp;Out'.</p>

Tracy Morgan describes his bowel movements in loving detail to Bruce Willis in Kevin Smith's new buddy-cop comedy 'Cop Out'.

Credit: Warner Bros.

The M/C Review: Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis in 'Cop Out' fall flat

Buddy cop film with no chemistry aims high, misses completely

I haven't spoken to Kevin Smith regarding "Cop Out," but everything I've read him say is that he doesn't look at this as a "Kevin Smith" movie.  It seems to be hard to review his films without reviewing him to some degree, but I get the feeling he'd rather be left out of the review.  So fair enough.  Suffice it to say he directed and edited the film.

"Cop Out" is a case study in how you can do everything right in theory and everything wrong in practice.  I like the idea of hiring writer/directors to sometimes shoot someone else's script, and I think they should do the opposite, too... have someone else direct their work and give that person the trust of final cut.  And so I'm down with the idea of hiring this guy to make a movie outside his comfort zone.  Tracy Morgan is a performer who's only as good as the context you give him, and I like the notion of him in a cop film with a real cop movie icon, Bruce Willis.  That works as an idea.  Seann William Scott and Guillermo Diaz and Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody and Jason Lee... all good comic performers who have had great moments in the past, and who make sense if you're trying to fill the cast out.  A script that makes the much-discussed "Black List", which increasingly seems to be "the list of all the stuff that's about to start casting in the next four to six months" rather than any sort of genuine poll of the best unproduced scripts.  All of these things are ingredients that should add up to a fun studio comedy that pays playful "ho-mage" to the interracial buddy cop films of the '80s.

They don't, though.  At all.

Read Full Post
<p>Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson deal with some very bad things in 'The Crazies,' the new remake of George Romero's '70s horror film.</p>

Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson deal with some very bad things in 'The Crazies,' the new remake of George Romero's '70s horror film.

Credit: Overture Films

The M/C Review: 'The Crazies' showcases Tim Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, smart horror

Another remake of a George Romero film yields strong results

Civilization is, at best, a verbal agreement that we trust each other to uphold, and it seems to me the older I get that all it would take to topple it all is the slightest excuse, the smallest push, and it would all end up in ash.

That's the fear at the heart of "The Crazies," a loose remake of George Romero's 1973 film, and it's a surprisingly effective and engaging film that hits the ground running and never lets up.  Anchored by strong lead performances by Tim Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, the movie is being sold as a sort of pseudo-zombie film, but The Crazies themselves are not the thing to be most afraid of in the film.  Instead, it's the reaction to The Crazies that is truly frightening, and what makes the film work is just how grounded it is in the total distrust of authority that seems to be growing in our society these days.  It would make a fascinating double-feature with Michael Winterbottom's recent documentary "The Shock Doctrine," an explicit illustration of the worst-case scenarios presented in that film.

This is the second Romero remake that has turned out to be surprisingly strong.  Zack Snyder's "Dawn Of The Dead" gave fanboys fits while it was in production, but when it was released, it turned out to be a good horror film with a great opening sequence, and a lot of what made it work was the casting.  Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, and Jake Weber all elevated the film with their work, never once treating the material like they were slumming.  The same is true of "The Crazies," with Olyphant and Mitchell playing a married couple who are the sheriff and the family doctor for a small town in the midwest.  Joe Anderson as a deputy and Danielle Panabaker as Mitchell's assistant also do strong work, really putting a face on the human toll of this particular tragedy.

Read Full Post
<p>Warner Bros. would love to see Superman fly again, but according to sources, David Goyer is not onboard to write a new adventure for the 'Man Of Steel'... yet.</p>

Warner Bros. would love to see Superman fly again, but according to sources, David Goyer is not onboard to write a new adventure for the 'Man Of Steel'... yet.

Credit: Alex Ross/DC

Updated: Is David Goyer suiting up for new Superman film 'Man Of Steel'?

Rumors say yes, but our sources say not yet

UPDATE:  (5:30 PM PST) - Now IGN is saying that not only has Legendary Pictures hired David Goyer to write the film, but he's also got a co-writer:  Jonah Nolan.  And IESB is saying that there's already a finished draft of "Batman 3," and that's what got Warner Bros. to pull the trigger on "Man Of Steel" now since the clock is ticking before they lose the legal rights to make a film about Superman.

I'm going to attempt to clarify this with some people, but since this story has become such a hot potato today, I'm doing my best to separate cover stories from confusion, and there are some wild contradictions in what I'm hearing.

ORIGINAL STORY:  (3:30 PM PST) - When David Goyer left his show "Flash Forward" recently, there were dozens and dozens of stories, led by Nikki "Toldja" Finke, about how he was leaving to write a new "Batman" film with Christopher and Jonah Nolan.

Only that wasn't true. 

Chris Nolan is still hard at work on "Inception," and will be until the film is in release.  There have certainly been some "Batman" conversations, but the idea that the script is in progress right now isn't correct.  It's a process that will begin when they have the current work off their plate, and not until.

Fink also recently broke a story saying that Chris Nolan will be godfathering a new "Superman" film through development.  That may be true, although I can't independently verify it, and at this point, there's been so much about Superman that's been written that is inaccurate that I hardly know how to sift through it anymore.

This morning, Latino Review ran a story in which they say that David Goyer has been hired to write a film called "The Man Of Steel" for Warner Bros.  They have some details about it, including Braniac's involvement and the notion that the Daily Planet is struggling against the internet for survival.

Thing is, I don't think that's accurate, either.  All due respect to the guys at Latino Review, who are very good at breaking scoops, but according to my source, someone who absolutely is in a position to know if this has happened, David Goyer has not been hired, and they are not moving forward at the moment.

Read Full Post
<p>Guy Williams and Antonio Banderas have both played the legendary outlaw and hero, Zorro, the subject of the newest installment of 'Film Nerd 2.0'</p>

Guy Williams and Antonio Banderas have both played the legendary outlaw and hero, Zorro, the subject of the newest installment of 'Film Nerd 2.0'

Credit: Walt Disney Company/SPHE

Film Nerd 2.0: A Tale Of Two Zorros

Will the boys prefer the '50s TV show or the '90s big-budget blockbuster?

Walt Disney was a genius.

That's always important to remember, and easy to forget on any conscious level.  At this point, "Walt Disney" is a corporation, a corner of pop culture that is ubiquitous.  But before that, before the parks, before his name became a brand, Walt Disney was a genius.  And for someone who grew up after the real heyday of Walt as an onscreen figure, there are things I simply never knew.

One of the greatest things about the Walt Disney Treasures series is that they offer up collections of what I would call the ephemera of Walt's career, things that don't necessarily have the same sort of awareness now that they once did, but that were key steps along the way.  Like many of the things that Walt Disney was associated with, "Zorro" was not created by him, but when Disney got around to telling his version, he did it in a way that staked a certain ownership on the character for an entire generation.  The "Zorro" series that premiered in 1957 was hugely influential to young audiences at the time, and I know a whoooole lotta film geeks who were kids then who have fond memories of that show.  They know the theme song.  To them, Guy Williams was the gold standard that they'll compare any other Zorro to, forever.  For an older generation, Douglas Fairbanks was Zorro.  To the generation between, it's Tyrone Powers.  My sons are just the right age for the adventures of Zorro, and when trying to decide where to start them, I decided that Disney was the right way in.

Each season of the show comes in a separate oversize tin case.  "Zorro: The Complete First Season, 1957 - 1958" is a hefty six-disc collection, featuring all 39 episodes of the first season of the show as well as two one-hour episodes of the show produced after the second season ended, both of which aired originally on "Walt Disney Presents."  They're all remastered, and they are as impressive as any black and white film from the '50s, crisp and clean and genuinely sort of amazing, especially for the time.  Disney spent a ton of money on this film, and as a weekly production, it looks better than a lot of modern shows.  Matte paintings, major stunt sequences, tons of extras, expert swordfighting... the show has it all, week after week.

Read Full Post