It's James Wan's world this year, guys.
"The Conjuring" is first up for him, and it's become a major piece of the puzzle for Warner Bros this summer. They have been testing the film to phenomenal results for a while now, and when I say phenomenal, I mean it. The film tells one of the many stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the parapsychologist married couple who became well-known thanks in part to the Amityville Horror case. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star in the film, and word is they're both great in it. I hear it's scary, that it satisfies as a story, and that people really love the cast. I'm excited to see Farmiga and Wilson's takes on these iconic characters.
Not that there's a frame of them in the trailer.
I love that this entire trailer seems to be taken from one sequence or one section of the film, and that the emphasis here is on Lili Taylor. What's clear is that Wan has started casting the ever-lovin' crap out of his movies now, and that he's become one of the most consistent guys out there in terms of crafting a certain kind of haunted house thrill ride experience. I think anyone who enjoyed "Insidious" is going to be surprised in a very pleasant way by what he's up to with the sequel, and with that hitting theaters not long after "The Conjuring," I think the sequel could explode in a way the first film didn't.
It's James Wan's world this year, guys.
I'll say this for Marc Webb: he's got good taste in casting.
Chris Cooper is now onboard to play Norman Osborn in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," which means he could well be menacing Peter Parker right there alongside Electro (Jamie Foxx) and The Rhino (Paul Giamatti).
That's a lot of characters to juggle for a blockbuster which is also introducing Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) and Mary Jane Watson (Shailene Woodley) into the series. We still have no idea if The Daily Bugle and J. Jonah Jameson are going to be brought into Webb's series any time soon, and we also don't know exactly how these new characters are going to be used.
Osborn was kept off-screen in Webb's first film. We heard mention of him, but he quite literally stayed in the shadows. It was obvious that they were building to a reveal, and having someone like Cooper play the part pays off that tease. The question now is which version of Osborn we'll be seeing in the film. Is he going to already be deeply involved in the research that transformed him into the Green Goblin? Or is he going to try to reverse engineer the accident that gave Peter his spider powers and is that what's going to push him over the edge?
Here we are with the newest frontier in entertainment reporting. Now we are reporting at the moment that someone is ready to walk into the room to pitch a project. There was the story last week about the pitch for a remake of "The Stooge" starring Roger Rabbit and Mickey Mouse at Disney, and I think there's more to say about that this week, but that's all it was… a pitch. The studio hadn't made a decision yet, and in the case of Guillermo Del Toro's proposed "dark DC" movie, currently titled "Heaven Sent," it's also true that no decisions have been made yet.
Instead, today's story is that Del Toro is now ready to present his version of the story to the studio to see if this is something they want to to continue to develop or if it's too esoteric. Right now, Warner Bros is taking a ton of heat over the way they're making decisions about the superhero properties they own, but I'll give them credit for at least taking occasional chances in development. I am a huge fan of "Galaxy Quest," and the script by Robert Gordon is one of the best comedy scripts of the last 20 years. Gordon has not had the huge career I expected when I first read "Galaxy Quest," but he has written a few unproduced gems, the best of which was "Bizarro," which is exactly what it sounds like. He told a Superman story in which Superman only appeared for about three pages, and the entire rest of the film was about Bizarro's time on Earth doing his best to be Superman, mangling the task in every possible way. It is a hell of a read, and I would have loved to have seen it. I get why they didn't make it, but it would have been glorious to see trailers for a "Bizarro" movie and then listen to the general public's collective "WTF?!" every time it played. They've also developed several different versions of a possible "Lobo" movie, and while I'm not a huge "Lobo" fan, I think it's cool that they were willing to even consider doing the character as a movie.
You schooled us pretty hard the last time there was a WGAw strike. You made a pretty convincing case for a Hollywood without writers, and while we'll never admit it to you as a group, you broke us. You really did. And it has ruined the industry that I love in a million small ways that you're not even going to notice for a decade or so, and when you do, it may well be too late. You fought us over money and your right to more of it, and you hurt us enough to make us take a deal that we knew in our hearts was not right.
If you try to do the same thing to the VFX industry, you are going to lose.
I'm not telling you this because I want you to win. I just don't think you realize that this is not the same situation as when the writers decided to strike. You are correct. You can indeed lowball us and force us to do free rewrite after free rewrite and you can screw us on points and offer us insulting archaic math problems instead of real profit participation and we'll smile and ask for more. But if you start putting FX houses out of business and trying to lowball that side of the business, you may be crippling yourself.
This is embarrassing.
Not for me, of course. I'm not the one who hit delete on whatever folder led to the desperate phone call I got at 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. I'm actually pretty flattered, considering all the time and energy I've spent writing about how much I don't like awards season. See, there's been a catastrophe at Price Waterhouse (1) and the Academy has been scrambling for the last few days to figure out how to handle it (2). Someone must have decided that it is my healthy disdain for the process that made me perfect to help them fix things, and as a result, I have been asked to step in this year and pick every single Academy Award on my own (3).
The weirder part is that they not only lost the winners, but the nominees and the categories, and so I've got to put it all back together. I'm pretty sure I got most of this right, and perhaps in a few cases, I've made slightly different choices than the Academy would have. Perhaps.
You tell me… as today wraps up this year's edition of what increasingly feels like a Bataan Death March… what movies would you like to celebrate today, whether they were nominated or not? Because if that's what today is genuinely supposed to be about, and if the Oscars are just a conversation starter, then what movies from 2012 would you like to celebrate one last time before we all move on to 2013?
Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn are slowly, surely building a shared filmography that is absolutely positively comic book crazy, and it looks like little by little, they're taking over 20th Century Fox's entire superhero agenda.
When I first talked to Vaughn about Millar's work in the days leading up to his decision to option the rights to "Kick-Ass," it was obvious that Vaughn responded to Millar's storytelling on an almost chemical level. It's not just which stories Millar was telling, but his voice. Vaughn loves to throw a shot to the ribs of propriety whenever he can, and in Millar, he seems to have found a fellow provocateur.
What I respect about Vaughn is the way he's built a very loyal crew that works for him not only when he's directing but also when he's producing. When I was on the set for "Kick-Ass 2," it may have been a Jeff Wadlow film, but I saw the same familiar faces in many of the key technical positions that I've seen on "Stardust" and "Kick-Ass" and "X-Men: First Class." His collaboration with Jane Goldman has been incredibly important to the overall voice of his films, and I would imagine Jane will be part of everything moving forward as long as Hollywood doesn't finally figure out that she's awesome and work her so hard that she's no longer got time to be part of each of Matthew's movies.
If The Mandarin is going to work as the villain in "Iron Man 3," he's going to have to be a fairly radical reinvention of the character that has traditionally appeared in the pages of the Marvel comics. It goes beyond the obvious issue of him being a sort of oddly dated "Yellow Menace" character, and it's more about the fact that villainy in the 21st century looks very different because the world itself has changed.
Ben Kingsley's take on The Mandarin is, before anything else, media-savvy. He's a television terrorist, a guy whose every accessory, whose look and voice and mannerisms are all created, calculated, part of an image that he's trying to project. He is a brilliant tactician, but that's not just about military strength or being able to reach out and, oh, I don't know… blow Tony Stark's house right off the side of the mountain where it sits. His strength comes from his complete lack of fear, his determination to use every single tool available to reshape the world to his will.
If you're a fan of the Hunger Games each year, then you're probably still just as stunned as I was by the way the 74th annual games wrapped up. I'll admit, at first I was upset by the idea that they had thrown out the rules and changed things just to give Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Meelark a happy ending, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think they deserved to win.
After all, the Games are about out-thinking your opponents just as much as it's a physical challenge, and it was just plain strategically brilliant for Katniss to make the move she did. It was the only way either of them was really going to "win," and it forced the Capitol to really decide what they want. Is the point of the Games to crush every player, no matter what, or is it to give us a new hero every year, someone to remind us of the best of what we can be and do? If that's the goal, then this year is the bonus plan, because I think both of these players are worth our admiration.
We here at HitFix are pleased that the Capitol reached out to us to help premiere this Victory Tour poster, and I don't know about you, but when Katniss and Peeta make their stop in my district, I'll definitely turn out to see them live and in person. It's strange… I know they're still part of the system, and nothing has really changed, but there's something about the way they pulled off their win that has given me something akin to real hope for the first time in a long time.
I wonder if that makes President Snow nervous at all. Because it should.
The most surprising thing about Ric Roman Waugh, the co-writer/director of "Snitch," having started his career as a stuntman from a family of stuntmen is that "Snitch" is, for the most part, a drama and not the action movie that the poster and the trailers would want to make you believe it is. That's not really a problem with the film so much as it is a case of misleading marketing. Taken on its own merits, "Snitch" is a solid, small-scale story about what a father is willing to do to help correct an injustice he sees landing on his teenage son after he makes an inexcusably stupid mistake.
Participant Media is one of the production partners on the film, and if you know them as a company, you know that their mandate is making movies that deal in some way with social issues, and I was surprised to see that this is really a movie about how flawed the mandatory minimum sentencing system is in the war on drugs. At the start of the film, Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is at home, and a college friend tells him that there's a package coming that he'll need to sign for, a package he'll pick up as soon as he gets home from school. It's a huge shipment of Ecstasy tablets, and when it arrives, he not only signs for it, but he opens it, and right away, the DEA descends on the house. They were ready for him to accept ownership of the package, and they treat Jason as a major drug dealer. Thanks to the amount they caught him with, they've got him on the hook for at least ten years, and they can go as high as thirty years if they choose to. The US Prosecutor on the case is the politically ambitious Joanne Keeghan (Susan Sarandon), and she seems more than happy to throw the book at this dumb kid.
"Social" seems to be the biggest buzzword for the Playstation 4, as it is for pretty much any device that connects in any way to the Internet at this point.
Sony held a major press event tonight in New York to officially premiere the next generation console as well as some of the launch titles that will be available for it. The first one that flabbergasted me was "Driveclub," which is basically a virtual reality racing game that is based around team-based racing, and the racing footage they showed was so remarkable, so close to photo-real, that it really does feel like a jump forward, something I haven't felt from gaming in a while. It's been incremental steps for the last few years, and that's fine. I understand that we live in an age of technical marvels, and I don't take for granted how spectacular something like "Sleeping Dogs," which I just finished playing is, even if gamers in general greeted it with a shrug as a knock-off of "Grand Theft Auto." That may be true, but it's still eye-popping and the game play is mind-blowing considering I remember when "Spy Hunter" was the state of the art.