So would you buy that for a dollar?
Jose Padilla is an enormously talented filmmaker. Let's just get that out of the way up front. I want to believe that he's going to take "Robocop" and make something special of it. I want to believe that he's going to successfully navigate the Hollywood system and make something that is worth his time.
Earlier this year, I unintentionally stirred up a fair amount of noise when I commented on the script for the remake while I was reading it. I was on Twitter one night and having a hard time believing what I was reading, and I may have been unkind about the project. But as even the licensing reel that showed up online today notes, the original still regularly shows up on lists of the best of the genre, and for good reason. The alchemy that went into that film has proven impossible to reproduce with any of the sequels or the TV shows, and it seems to me that they're making some big weird choices in trying to get "Robocop" right.
Can Lily Collins and Harald Zwart make this the new 'Twilight'?
I have not read "The Mortal Instruments," mainly because there are only so many hours in the day and there are now roughly 100,000 different Young Adult series that deal with romance and the supernatural, and I have to sleep and eat occasionally.
Screen Gems is gambling on this as a new franchise that can put them into the same sort of business that Summit has so beautifully managed over the last few years with the "Twilight" franchise and which every studio in town has been chasing as hard as possible. Lionsgate managed to pull it off with "The Hunger Games," but there are plenty of examples of where it's gone wrong, the cinema landscape littered with the corpses of "City Of Ember," "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising," "Eragon," and more. At first glance, I'm not sure what sets "The Mortal Instruments" apart. It looks like a riff on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," with Lily Collins starring as Clary Fray, a girl who learns that she is not a mortal, but is instead a powerful being born to hunt and kill demons on Earth.
A new film from Paul Weitz looks like a nice mix of humor and heart
Oh, I see… Friday is trailer day. Lots and lots of new trailers, and they're all over the map in terms of genre and tone.
I had no idea Paul Rudd and Tina Fey were making a film together, and I always enjoy it when a trailer shows up out of nowhere like this. It's a Paul Weitz movie, so I'm going to guess it falls somewhere between a traditional comedy and a traditional drama. It features Wallace Shawn, Michael Sheen, Gloria Reuben, and Lily Tomlin, and it's aiming for a March 2013 release.
Here's the synopsis for the film:
Straight-laced Princeton University admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey) is caught off-guard when she makes a recruiting visit to an alternative high school overseen by her former college classmate, the free-wheeling John Pressman (Rudd). Pressman has surmised that Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), his gifted yet very unconventional student, might well be the son that Portia secretly gave up for adoption many years ago. Soon, Portia finds herself bending the rules for Jeremiah, putting at risk the life she thought she always wanted — but in the process finding her way to a surprising and exhilarating life and romance she never dreamed of having.
Here's the trailer, via Yahoo! Movies:
Twitter's become a bullhorn for the busy comic mogul
Mark Millar seems to have hit a groove right now that is sort of amazing to watch unfold. For a long time, he was the guy with a lot of development deals, the guy whose work was sort of inching its way towards the big screen, and then that Russian madman and Hollywood vets Brandt and Haas figured out how to pull off "Wanted," and Matthew Vaughn sort of lost his mind for "Kick-Ass" and pushed it through before anyone realized what was going on, and suddenly everything's coming up roses.
His recently announced deal with Fox where he's consulting with them on their Marvel titles is a great gig, and we'll see how much they follow his lead. We'll see if they can pull off something fun with their next wave of movies, and if they finally get to do something of the crazier stuff they have the rights to do, like that "Deadpool" movie. I have no idea what his plans are, and that's a good thing. I know that the creative team on "Fantastic Four" is amazing (Josh Trank direting and Jeremy Slater writing) and that "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" sounds like a promising direction for the series with Singer returning for the first time since "X-Men 2." That's actually sort of a huge deal based on how badly that relationship ended when he left to do "Superman Returns," and I'm curious to see if we see Sentinels right away at the start of the film as the giant extended middle finger to Rothman on his way out the door.
Even with Chapman speaking for himself, the film just doesn't work
- Critic's Rating D+
- Readers' Rating D+
When I discovered Monty Python, I fell head over heels for them as soon as I saw them. It wasn't a case of gradually getting interested in their work. There are plenty of things that required repeat exposure before I formed a full opinion, but not with Python. I was in fifth grade, and a friend named Craig Carver had me over to his house one afternoon. He told me he had a movie to show me that would blow my mind, and in this particular case, he was right. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" felt to me like something I had been waiting for my whole life, a secret language that I spoke as soon as I heard it.
I quickly found myself obsessed with them, watching "Flying Circus" anytime it aired, tracking down their other movies. When "Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life" came out, I talked my way into seeing it in the theater three different times, delighted each time to see the horror that washed over everyone when they reached the Mr. Creosote sequence. I bought the records they put out ("Matching Tie and Handkerchief" was a particular favorite) and I memorized all of it.
See what nice things you get when your film does business and gets good reviews?
So basically, a whole lot of people I know are making "Deus Ex."
We ran a piece back in July when CBS Films made a deal with Square Enix and Eidos Montreal to adapt "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" for the bigscreen, and I said then that it is a promising property. When I wrote that, I hadn't played the game yet. So I rented it from GameFly and gave it a try, and pretty quickly realized that while I like the world and the imagery and the kinds of ideas they're playing with, I haaaaated the game itself. No fun at all. It was just a case of the mechanics being too busy and the mix of stealth and shooting all seemed very clunky, and it's one of the few games I've played where I just bailed out halfway through because nothing about it compelled me to keep playing.
Even so, the world remains fertile, and in some ways, my problems were about the gameplay being less interesting than the world or the characters. I would rather have watched it than played it. Today's announcement that C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, the team behind "Sinister," are going to be handling the co-writing and directing duties for the film is a step in that direction, and now we know the property is in the hands of people who are authentic fans of this stuff.
The weirdest mainstream franchise in history gets weirder in the home stretch
- Critic's Rating B-
- Readers' Rating A
Bill Condon had one advantage working in his favor from the start as director of both halves of "Breaking Dawn," the final film in "The Twilight Saga," and that is that the nature of a conclusion allows you to do things dramatically that no other story in the series can do.
Catherine Hardwick deserves high praise for the same reason Chris Columbus did on the "Harry Potter" series, because even if their respective films in their respective franchises aren't the best films in those series, they still had to get the whole thing up in the air to start with. They had to find the cast. They had to set the stage. They had to establish a tone and a visual language that every other director in the series then had to react to, and if you're the fourth guy on the series, you're going to benefit from any mistakes other people have made on the earlier films. You'll be able to build from what they've done, and while they're busy feeding the audience exposition or grappling with the inertia of a movie like "Eclipse," where nothing of consequence happens to anyone at any point, if you're making the conclusion, you get to deliver payoffs, and that's always going to be more fun.
Could this kick off a new series for the studio?
- Critic's Rating B
- Readers' Rating n/a
William Joyce is one of the best guys working today in the world of children's books, and the work he produces deserves to be added to the same shelf where we put names like Sendak and Silverstein and Seuss. He has a beautiful, instantly recognizable art style, and he writes in the loveliest cascades of language. There's something very dreamy and very familiar about his work as soon as you're introduced to it. He is absolutely among the top tier of people who do what he does, and "Rise Of The Guardians" is, before anything, a tribute to his storytelling style and a fairly remarkable realization of the visual worlds he creates.
The film, written by David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Peter Ramsey, begins with Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine) slowing waking up to consciousness. He remembers nothing. He is newborn to his powers, and we watch him get his footing, like the early scenes in "Bambi," and then leave into the wider world. He doesn't really understand the way the world works or what his place in it is, and he operates on an instinctual level.
An interesting lesson in the evolution of a franchise film is available online
I am always slightly horrified to watch when fandom decides to turn on someone. And to be fair, I know it's never a group decision, but rather a ripple effect, and that it's just a percentage of people when something like this goes down. Even so, it can feel like everyone thanks to just how vocal people get and how unrelenting the negativity can feel sometimes.
It felt like a few years ago, Damon Lindelof had been embraced by fandom at large and he was one of those names everyone was talking about. When it was first announced that he'd gotten the gig rewriting what became "Prometheus," it seemed to be a pretty popular choice. These days, things have changed so much that he swore off the AICN talkback last week on Twitter. He's a whipping boy, and much of it is based on something that I think is very hard for people to judge, which is his contribution to the film. I like Lindelof, though, and I think a lot of this pile-on is unfair and ridiculous. I don't think he deserves to be the one person that fanboys attack over "Prometheus" or "Lost," and I think he is swinging for the fences when he works. Whether he actually hits that home run or not, he's trying to do the sort of big-idea big-entertainment movies that I love dearly, and I like that he's in the mix, trying to amaze.
Can Sam Raimi make this feel like real magic?
"The Great and Powerful Oz" has not been an easy film for Disney to make, but as they kick their campaign for the film into a higher gear, they're doing their very best to send out an air of confidence about it.
This new trailer certainly shows us more of the world than we've seen before, and it's pretty plain why earlier trailers couldn't show us any of this stuff. In a movie where so much of the environment and so many of the characters are computer generated, it's hard to have footage ready to show early. Even now, I'm betting we're seeing much of the finished work, and the movie itself still has a lot of rendering and final tweaking to do before it's ready. There's also a heavy emphasis this time around on Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, and Rachel Weisz as the various witches of Oz, and all I can say about that line-up is that Sam Raimi has exquisite taste.
For a film that has to be based on the Frank L. Baum books and not the classic 1939 film for legal reasons, this sure does look like the 1939 film. Much of the iconography seems to have been lifted directly from the classic Warner Bros. version of the story, including that spooky shot of the Wicked Witch that I pulled the image from that is at the top of this story. The Munchkins, the Emerald City, the Flying Monkeys… these are all very recognizable here.