"This Is The End" looks crazy.
This is another of those moments where I sort of can't believe what studios are willing to greenlight, and I thank god someone's a big enough lunatic to make the films I want to see.
I know "Your Highness" didn't do big money at the box-office, and I couldn't care any less. I got to see it, and if no one else dug it, I still got to see it. I am delighted that Universal was willing to spend their money on a film that seems so ridiculous when you describe it that it sounds like an April Fool's Day joke that got out of hand, with no one willing to admit that they were kidding all the way through the day of release.
"This Is The End" has had a long strange path to get to the screen, starting life as a short film that was a student project. The film, for those who still don't have it on their radar, deals with the end of the world as experienced by a group of soft Hollywood actors who hole up in James Franco's house to try and survive. The cast is all playing themselves, but exaggerated versions of themselves, and you get a real sense of that in the opening half of the new trailer for the film that just came out today.
"This Is The End" looks crazy.
I've always enjoyed watching Craig Robinson's work, whether in features or on television or even live as a stand-up, and I think one of the great pleasures of "The Office" has been seeing the way his character changed and grew over the course of the show.
As they were in production on the final episode of the series, Brian Baumgartner (Kevin on the show) was basically live-tweeting from the set, and I thought it was pretty emotional, as it always must be when you're wrapping up something that's been your primary focus for a decade or so. When I got a few minutes to chat with Robinson at this weekend's WonderCon, our main point of conversation is the upcoming comedy "This Is The End," in which Robinson plays himself, trapped in a house with James Franco, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, and Jonah Hill as the world ends.
But we also got around to "The Office," and what I like most about Robinson is that while he's a very quick wit and he certainly knows how to goof on the whole publicity process, when it came time to talk about this milestone in his professional life, he was nothing but sincere, and it's pretty obvious how much the series has meant to him.
I love that most of the cast stayed intact over the long run of "The Office," and it still seems somewhat miraculous to me that NBC not only managed to successfully translate the series to America, but that it managed to take on a life and an identity all its own. If you'd asked me after the pilot whether on not "The Office" would work, I would have bet against it whole-heartedly. It just felt like the original Ricky Gervais version was such a singular thing that trying to make it happen again would be foolish. I am thrilled to have been dead wrong, and it was a pleasure to touch base with Robinson and hear how much it meant to him.
"This Is The End" opens June 14, 2013, and the final episode of "The Office" airs on May 16 on NBC.
By far, the best part of my Saturday at WonderCon was standing on the stage and watching the faces of the crowd as they got their first look at the special presentation reel that Warner Bros. brought for "Pacific Rim."
By now, you've probably read accounts of it. I wasn't able to take my sons to WonderCon, mainly because I couldn't figure out how to let them see "Pacific Rim" without them also seeing the footage from "The Conjuring," which would pretty much freak both of them out permanently. Warner Bros. helped me make sure the kids saw the footage, though, and by the time they saw a robot dragging an oil tanker down the street then using it like a baseball bat, they were pretty much out of their minds with excitement. What made Saturday great was seeing grown adults responding with that exact same unfiltered glee.
After we walked off-stage, Guillermo and I stepped into one of the few quiet spots in the entire auditorium and we talked for a few more minutes about the movie and about where he is right now in the process.
The buddy cop movie will never die.
As long as people are pointing cameras at other people and creating fiction, someone will be working riffs on the notion of two dudes with guns who have to deal with one another to accomplish something. There have been thousands of these films so far, both from Hollywood and from indie filmmakers, and I feel like I've sat through every single one of them.
In most cases, it comes down to chemistry. If you get the right two guys, the formula works. When I was part of the Warner Archive Instant beta test, one of the first movies I watched was "Freebie and the Bean," because it's freakin' "Freebie and the Bean." Alan Arkin and James Caan appear ready to beat each other to death in almost every scene of that film, and it makes me cackle every single time I see it. Sometimes you'll see a variation on the equation like one of the people isn't a cop, but is instead a convict, a la "48 HRS." Or you'll get the suicidal crazy guy teamed up with the straight arrow, a la "Lethal Weapon."
As "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" kicks off what looks to be a fairly successful weekend, I thought I'd bring you two final interviews I did for the movie last weekend.
First, we've got the pairing of D.J. Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki, who play Flint and Lady Jaye in the film. I'm not a first generation "G.I. Joe" fan. I didn't watch the cartoons or read the comics when I was a kid. I think I missed it all by a few years, and at the time it was huge, I was into things like Jim Jarmusch movies and live punk shows and bad behavior that drove my parents crazy. It's strange interviewing cast and crew who made this film who were younger than me, the perfect age to be "Joe" fans, and see that they've managed to take that childhood enthusiasm and translate it into this second attempt at pulling off the series on film.
Holy cow. Someone please tell me that this is it. All the "Twilight" books have been filmed, and now we've got a movie version of the novel "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer, and that's all she wrote, right? Please, someone, tell me this is all, because I need some good news after sitting through the preposterous, tone-deaf, almost breathtakingly terrible new film by once-promising writer/director Andrew Niccol.
Someday, someone smarter and more tactful than myself will write a book examining the insidious way talented filmmakers subjugated themselves to the knuckle-headed financial juggernaut of the Stephenie Meyer machine. I may dislike the last two films in the "Twilight" series enormously, but my frustration at watching the considerable talent of Bill Condon squandered on those two films is tempered by the knowledge that he just bought himself the freedom to make anything he wants for the rest of his life. Now Andrew Niccol has been tasked with taking her one non-"Twilight" book and bringing it to life, and the result helps emphasize some of the problems with both the uber-popular "supernatural romance" sub-section of the young adult genre right now and with the career of Niccol himself.
With this week's 'Wolverine' and 'Iron Man 3' trailers, has our spoiler culture reached an event horizon?
I think I've reached my saturation point.
I know that sounds weird considering who I am and what I've published over the years, but it's true. And if I'm reaching my breaking point, I can't imagine what it feels like for people who just want to go see movies, have a reasonably unspoiled experience, and enjoy the things they see.
I published something earlier this week about the spoiler that was not so subtly hidden in the six-second sneak that James Mangold released for the trailer for "The Wolverine," and frankly everything about this sentence makes my nose bleed. I think this whole trailer for the trailer thing is gross, and it speaks to this artificial sense of frenzy that studios try to create. While I know plenty of people who want to see "The Wolverine," I don't know a single fan who felt so crazed about it that they needed to see six seconds of footage one day, twenty seconds the day after that, and then two different trailers today. In the span of three days, I've gone from having seen nothing from the film to being totally sick of the film, and it's got nothing to do with the film. It's all about suddenly feeling like it's everywhere, and I'm seeing things I'd rather not see out of context. As my friend Damon said on Twitter…
@houx If it's 6 seconds, then twenty, then two minutes, mathematically we should see the film Thursday and all of the footage shot by Friday.
Obviously, the rest of this article is going to deal in things that you might not want to know about movies that are not in theaters yet. Maybe. I'm giving you the general warning now to cover anything I might discuss below, because I am hyper-aware these days of how much it means to people to have the choice about what they do or don't learn before they sit down in a theater.
One of the things I heard repeatedly while I was on the set of "Kick-Ass 2" was just how eager Matthew Vaughn was to get started on his adaptation of "The Secret Service," another Mark Millar comic book. This was not long after Vaughn had officially left "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," and the rumor mill was in overdrive that Vaughn was going to be the guy who took the helm of "Star Wars: Episode VII."
I was told repeatedly during my visit that the "Star Wars" rumor wasn't true, and that Vaughn's full attention was on getting "The Secret Service" up and running. One of the reasons they wanted to move quickly was because both Millar and Vaughn were concerned that someone would take the basic premise of the series and make a movie that would beat them to the punch. This is a series that Millar has been thinking about since he was in his early 20s, and it only recently came to fruition with Dave Gibbons, his dream artist, handling the visual side of things.
When Millar first started talking about the premise for the series, he said this incarnation began life a few years ago in a pub when he and Vaughn were discussing "Casino Royale" and wondering why they didn't start with the actual training of James Bond if they were planning to fully reboot the character. They discussed the way Terence Young helped transform the rough-around-the-edges Sean Connery into the refined James Bond that we met onscreen in "Dr. No," and they talked about a fictional version of that process. Millar described it as a counter-terrorism spin on "My Fair Lady," which is definitely a high concept hook.
I'm guessing we're going to get a number of character trailers for "Kick-Ass 2" now, and the first one arrives today. It's very Hit Girl-centric, and small wonder: when we look back on these films eventually, however many they end up making, one of the things that will be most notable about them is the story of Hit Girl and the actor playing her. Chloe Moretz has had a fairly remarkable series of experiences between the two films, and seeing the way she plays this role on both sides of all of those other films is pretty remarkable.
Right before she flew to London for "Kick-Ass 2," Moretz finished work on Kimberly Pierce's "Carrie," and when we spoke at Pinewood Studios, she was still trying to fully digest that experience. Carrie White is a certain kind of reserved and withdrawn and beaten down, and while "Kick-Ass 2" sees Mindy facing the scorn of the mean girls at her high school, she's no victim. I'm guessing the reactions you'll see from the two characters couldn't be more different.
Don Payne, whose film credits include "Thor," "Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer," and "Thor: The Dark World" passed away last night in Los Angeles, according to friends who spread the word today via Twitter.
It seems fitting that I learned the news from the Twitter feeds of both Kat Dennings and Jaimie Alexander, who played Darcy and Sif in "Thor," and from Mike Scully, the man who first hired Payne to write for "The Simpsons." Payne is one of those people who I never met, but who was friends with a number of people who I am friends with, and I always heard good things about him on a personal level. He inspired real loyalty in some people I trust implicitly, and I always hoped we would end up meeting at some point. One of the people speaking fondly of him tonight was Zack Stentz, one of the other credited writers on "Thor," which I think speaks volumes. It isn't everyone who can remain friends on the far side of an arbitration process.