"I can't think of a single time when anything alien in human hands ended well."
So here we are… the first direct tie-in to a Marvel movie currently in release on "Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD." I've been curious to see how they would handle this since the moment they announced the series, and considering how many dangling threads there are at at the end of "Thor: The Dark World," it seems like this is a perfect test case.
Here's where we start to see what happens after the events of one of the big Marvel films, as characters move in to clean up, categorize, and study the aftermath of something like, oh, let's say giant Elven spaceships opening interdimensional rifts centered in the middle of England while Asgardian superbeings beat the ever-lovin' crap out of evil creatures.
Skye (Chloe Bennet) gives voice to the average citizen here, reminding Coulson (Clark Gregg) that not everyone knows all of the backstory already. It's funny hearing her talk about Thor and remembering that her character hasn't been front and center for any of the truly cosmic stuff yet. She's taking it all on faith at this point.
"I can't think of a single time when anything alien in human hands ended well."
What would motivate any filmmaker to make a film that ends up being a success and then immediately turn around to make that same exact movie again with a different cast?
It's always seemed like a very strange move to me, and I had the same questions about Ken Scott remaking his 2011 film "Starbuck" as the upcoming Vince Vaughn movie "Delivery Man." It also seemed like an odd decision to cast Vaughn in the role, as the slacker charisma of Patrick Huard is almost completely different than the manic giant that Vaughn normally plays. I was curious to talk to Vaughn about what he liked in the material and why he signed on.
Vaughn's been one of those guys I've known and chatted with the entire time I've been writing about movies online. "Swingers" broke out at the very start of my time writing online, and it's been fascinating watching Vaughn work to define himself over time. It has not always been an easy process for him, and he has a reputation as a guy who pushes himself and his collaborators very hard behind the scenes. It seems almost unreal that "Delivery Man" would have come together as quickly and evidently painlessly as it did.
Thanks to the way the release schedule came together this fall, I have interviewed Woody Harrelson thirty-seven times since September. Thank god it's Woody Harrelson, one of the easiest guys to chat with in this business, because when this happens with a star and with the strange ways things end up getting timed, it's easy to run out of things to talk about, and that doesn't seem to be the case with him.
When I went to the press day that Lionsgate held for 'Catching Fire,' the sequel to 'The Hunger Games,' Harrelson was paired with Liam Hemsworth, who returns as Gale, the young man who grew up with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as her best friend. Both of them play supporting roles in the film and, more than that, both of them are playing characters who have hidden agendas in the film, which means that they've got to play two totally different levels to what's happening from scene to scene.
As I mentioned in my review of Disney's newest animated feature film, "Frozen," there is also a short that's going to be playing in front of the movie, and as much as I would recommend the feature, I would also urge anyone who's an animation fan in a broad general sense to check it out for the short, "Get A Horse."
Directed by Lauren MacMullan, the short connects the present to the past in a fascinating way, and it is absolutely essential to see it in 3D if you want to see what the filmmakers had in mind. As I watched the short, I found myself laughing a fair amount, which wasn't wildly surprising at the time. It was only afterwards that it struck me: that might be the first time in my entire life that I have laughed out loud because of something that Mickey Mouse did.
Animation is one of my favorite things about the existence of movies. I cannot overstress how much I love the entire idea of animation, and from childhood on, I have watched anything and everything I could. I spent many of my childhood years in Florida, close enough to Walt Disney World that we went as often as eight or nine times a year. It's easy to see how large a shadow Disney animation has cast over the entire art form, and there is no denying that Mickey Mouse is an icon, instantly recognizable around the world.
Why was I nervous?
The moment I went from thinking "Eastbound & Down" was fun to thinking it was sort of fiendishly brilliant was at the end of the first season, when the emotional climax of the entire run of episodes consisted of Kenny Powers putting someone's eye out with a baseball. It was played as a huge triumphant moment, complete with the best musical quote of the year, and it was so deeply unhinged that I couldn't believe anyone had convinced a network to air it.
This year, I've been writing about "Eastbound & Down" each week as it's been counting down to last night's final episode, and I found myself getting more and more anxious about the eventual fate of Kenny Powers. I should have relaxed, though, because this has been as confident a final season of television as "Breaking Bad" was, although far fewer people seem to have been caught up in the excitement of watching Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and David Gordon Green (along with the other great writers and performers involved this year) pitch a perfect game. After the way the third season resolved, it felt like anything was possible this year, and there was no way to predict what the guys would do to tie things up.
Let's be frank: "Little Shop Of Horrors" is the best thing to ever happen to the Disney company, and they had absolutely nothing to do with it on stage or on film.
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's stage production was a grimy, crazy, bloody little rock musical that featured the end of the world, a sadistic abusive dentist, murder, and a man-eating plant, and it was a huge off-Broadway hit. During the five years it ran, Disney went through the roughest years for their animation division ever. "The Fox and the Hound" opened the decade with a swing and a miss, and in 1985, "The Black Cauldron" came very close to closing the doors for good.
No matter what small charms they possessed, both "The Great Mouse Detective" and "Oliver & Company" represent a company that is floundering, unsure what to do or how to do it. There were some amazingly talented people working on those films, both holdovers from the actual era of Walt Disney himself and young artists who would later reshape the industry, but they weren't making movies that really showcased all that talent. They were making films that felt like they were on auto-pilot, playing to a model that no longer worked.
It was hard to avoid mention of the Bat-kid online this weekend, and for good reason. It was an enormously sweet story with some amazing images available, a pretty great combination.
Earlier today, I sat down with Christian Bale to talk about his work in the new film "Out Of The Furnace," and it was pretty obvious from the moment I walked into the room that he was in a great mood. I know Bale has a reputation for being very intense, but I've always found him to be a thoughtful, articulate interview. You just have to walk in ready to have a real conversation. Today, though, there was that extra something, no doubt motivated in part by the pride he takes in his work in the film.
I had to ask him about Bat-kid, but not just about the boy. I mean, I think it's safe to say that no one's going to be coming out as strongly anti-Bat-kid in the press any time soon. My question was more about how it feels to be part of a legacy that can inspire people the way they were inspired by this story.
Each and every week, each and every day, I have to make constant decisions about what I can cover, and it mostly just comes down to time. I wish I could write about every single thing that interests me. I wish I could review every single thing I see. But I have to pick and choose, and so I try to create a balance of smaller things, bigger movies, blockbusters, indies… I want to cover as wide an array of things as possible because that's the only way this blog can ever truly reflect my own tastes and interests.
There's a lot of genre stuff I cover because those were my formative sates, and I love seeing how far we've come in terms of mainstream acceptance of these things and in terms of how we can tell these stories on film. There are certain characters and series that I'll always be interested in, and certainly I'm curious about how they're going to handle things in "Man Of Steel 2" or "Superman Vs. Batman" or whatever the heck they end up calling the sequel to Zack Snyder's superhero blockbuster from this summer.
A nine-day court case that has lingered for almost exactly 50 years has finally come to a permanent, irrevocable end, and that is very good news indeed for fans of James Bond.
"Thunderball" is probably the most important Bond film ever made, although I doubt it's anyone's favorite. I would love to know what Ian Fleming was thinking when he tried to cheat Kevin McClory in the first place after they spent a few years working with him to try and turn the still relatively new James Bond character into a potential movie franchise. They started in 1958, and they worked up several treatments and screenplays together. They finally settled on "Thunderball," which was called "Longitude 78 West" at that point, and they started work on the film. That's when Fleming figured out that he was low man on the totem pole, financially speaking, and he started trying to kill the deal. He and Ivar Bryce, one of the other producers on the film, made some very shady moves to cut McClory out of the movie, and it killed the movie before they got out of pre-production. At that point, Fleming could have probably gone back to writing original Bond books and been fine, but for some reason, he turned the script they were going to shoot into the novel that was published as "Thunderball," and he published it in 1961 with absolutely no mention of either McClory or Jack Whittingham, the other writer who had been part of the development process.
You will find few more passionate advocates for Darren Aronofsky's work online than me. One of the first times I was quoted in a campaign for a film was for "The Fountain," and I couldn't have been more excited about it. I knew that movie was a hard-sell, but I also felt like it was something special, and anything I could do to help was my genuine pleasure.
Both "The Wrestler" and "Black Swan" topped my list of the year's best films when they came out, and they felt like a huge step for Aronofsky, movies that tapped some nerve with people, more accessible than his earlier work but without any compromise. I have been eagerly anticipating whatever's next, and when "Noah" was announced, I was naturally curious to see what he might be putting together.
So please keep that in mind when I say that today's "Noah" trailer left me cold, and more than that, it worried me. It looked no different than most of the noisy blockbuster fare of the last decade, and there is a seriousness to the trailer that could easily turn into camp if tipped the wrong way. Then again, it's just a trailer and it's ridiculous to judge something based on two minutes of footage… right?