Monday, December 29, 2008

It's official; Watchmen is f*#%ed.

I first reported on Watchmen's legal troubles back in August, then opined on its voyage towards clusterfuckery in September. You'd think, that as its March 6 release date comes ever closer, 20th Century Fox and Warners would stop biting each other in the sandbox and play nice, but apparently, these multi-million dollar companies truly are run by children.

Recent news means, my fellow nerds, that Watchmen may be totally fucked. At the very least, short of a miracle, we won't be seeing it in March. Last week, the judge in the case handed down a preliminary ruling that states that Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the Watchmen motion picture. According to an article in the Hollywood reporter, this ruling could force Warners to settle for a hefty payday. Ouch.

But is that really the outcome Fox is looking for? Look, if Warners has to settle, then it coughs up a bunch of dough to Fox. Alternatively, if Fox holds out for actual distribution rights, then, should the film be a hit, Fox stands to reap a ton of dough.

But, according to an article in today's New York Times, neither side is considering settling. Now, while Warners is being a little douchey in not offering a quick solution to this mess, they have sunk a huge amount of moolah into this film, and it's only reasonable that they'd be reluctant to give up any amount of profit to a company that had the project in their hands for a decade, and couldn't make it work. Fox passed on the project, it was shopped around to other studios for almost five years, and then Warners actually made a movie.

So, Fox had it, gave it up, waited a few years while other studios tried to make it, watched Warners develop it, go into pre-production, start shooting, finish shooting, go into post-production and then release a trailer and announce a release date. That's when Fox filed suit. So, you know, as I've said before, fuck Fox.

This only shows a ton of disrespect to fans, Zack Snyder and the cast and crew that worked their asses off to make a movie.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TR2N just got cooler.....which wouldn't be too hard, really

They are planning a sequel to Tron. Okay, first things first: Tron kicked fucking ass. Anyone who says otherwise probably molests collies. I'm just saying. Hating Tron means the terrorists win.

, then I heard that they were going to make a sequel. Hmm, totally uncalled for, but okay. As long as they don't make it completely lame and retarded. Oh, they're going to call it TR2N? Well, those expectations were dashed pretty fuckin' quickly, weren't they?

I was five years old when Tron came out. I loved it. I'm pretty sure that if a sequel came out the very next year, I would have lost my little six year old mind. 'Cause six year olds don't know shit. But if that sequel had been called TR2N, my six year old self would have turned to my mom and said, "That's bullshit, mommy."

First off, TR2N is not even a word. And the number 2 does not sound like an O (in case you're aiming for a 2 Fast 2 Furious type of thing). Nor does the number 2 look like an O. Basically it's a title that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. How do you buy a ticket for this thing at the box office? "One for Tr-two-en, please" because that's how it reads phonetically.

Well, Tr-two-en just got exponentially cooler. Bruce Boxleitner, it has just been announced over Aint it Cool, has signed on. Who's Bruce Boxleitner, you may ask? Well, for those that don't know, he was muthafuckin' Tron, bitches. Also, he was Scarecrow.

So, you know, it's edging closer to obtaining my interest. If they get Jeff Bridges, then I'll be sold. I just really hope they don't get this guy:

If Star Wars somehow got involved, this would be the nerdiest thing ever...

So, yeah, came across this on the interwebs. While I sincerely applaud the technical prowess on display here, I have to say, without reservation or equivocation: this is the geekiest thing I have ever seen.

This doesn't mean I don't like it. I mean the footage from Doctor Who is inserted a tad awkwardly, but it's kind of eerie how well the Star Trek stuff fits into the story they're telling. Well done sirs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

RIP - Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Sad news in the entertainment world today, as news comes that Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Star Trek actress and widow of creator Gene Roddenberry, passed away at the age of 76 following a battle with leukemia.

Barrett first appeared in the original Star Trek pilot, 1964's The Cage, as the first officer known only as Number One. When NBC commissioned a second pilot for the series, the cast was significantly retooled, and although Barrett's character was jettisoned, she would appear regularly on the series as Nurse Christine Chapel. She also provided the voice of Starfleet computers from the original series on throughout all subsequent series.

When Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, Barrett took on the recurring role as Counselor Deanna Troi's exuberant and somewhat brassy mother, Lwaxana.

At the time of her death, Barrett had just completed voiceover work for the upcoming Star Trek film, once again providing the voice of the Enterprise computer.

Rest In Peace, Mrs. Barrett Roddenberry.

Avengers Assemble - Casting Call - And the Rest!

For those of you that don't get the reference in the title, go here, and watch that clip till the end. Now, that's a slap in the face to two cast members! They list every frickin' person in the show, and then you get an "And the Rest!"

, a while back, I posted my thoughts on who should be cast as Captain America. I still stand by Leo. Marvel's also announced the Mighty Thor as the next hero to get the big screen treatment, and made plans for an Ant-Man film, though whether the latter will debut before the Avengers flick is doubtful.

, the founding members of the Avengers were Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Captain America joined soon after, and is considered a founder. So, we know Robert Downey Jr. will play Iron Man. I'm fairly certain the Hulk will appear, with Edward Norton putting in some sort of cameo. I've already put forth DiCaprio. So, who will play the rest?

The Mighty Thor

This might be one of the toughest roles to cast. Thor is supposed to be a frickin' god, after all. The way he's depicted in the comics is as an immensely powerful and almost ridiculously lofty character, spouting pseudo-Shakespearen dialogue and fighting frost giants, evil gods and trolls. Now imagine that dude hanging out with Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark. Hard, huh? Marvel made a brilliant move in hiring Shakespearean genius Kenneth Branagh to direct, but whoever they cast has to have enough chops to pull off the majesty and ass-kicking power without looking fucking ridiculous.

I vote for the current odds-on favourite, Kevin McKidd:

First off, the dude has the intense look Thor needs. Also he's blonde. I'm not that much of a stickler on actors having to look exactly like the character, but the guy's a Norse god, so blonde is kind of a must. Most importantly, he's got the chops. In Rome, he played Lucius and was great, successfully managing to feel modern and visceral while retaining the ancient feel of the story. He could very well be one of the few actors out there who could pull the part off, both physically and talent-wise.

The Wasp

She can shrink down to the size of her namesake, fly around and possesses a "sting" that is a blast of energy. Like many female characters created by men, she's a little lame and weak. Still, who would you get to play Janet Van Dyne, super-hero, fashion designer and socialite heiress?

Okay, I know that I posted earlier this year that Eva Longoria was in the running for the role. But I really have not enjoyed anything I've ever seen her in, so I'm not picking her. I'd go for Michelle Monaghan:

She's got some recognition, having appeared in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Gone Baby Gone, Mission Impossible III and most recently, Eagle Eye. But she hasn't broken wide yet. Yet. She probably won't ask for as much as Longoria, and she's definitely got the talent to pull off all of the Wasp's personality, and make something more of the admittedly under-developed character.


He can shrink down to the size of an ant! He can grow super-tall! Dr. Henry Pym is a genius who created Pym Particles, which allow both he and his fiance Janet Van Dyne to change their size. He's also an insecure mess of neuroses who accidentally created the villanous robot Ultron, has had more nervous breakdowns than Montgomery Clift and once actually struck Janet, his then-wife.

Whoever you get to play him must be someone who doesn't look like your typical super-hero. He has to be a geeky lab rat who somehow stumbled into the whole hero thing. So, I'm picking a guy who looks like, well, a skinny little geek, David Tennant:

I know, I know, my Doctor Who obsession is showing. Still, he's a great actor, he can sput the technobabble, and even though he doesn't look a whole lot like Pym does in the comic, he does exude geek chic and a certain nebbishy neurotic quality. After playing the Doctor, he's also ready for a little American exposure.

So, there are my choices for the Avengers. I think that if they assemble this cast (plus Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle, of course) you could have quite a fun little flick.

How could this movie be anything less than awesome?

Okay, here is a link to a movie that is absolutely certain to be filled to the brim with awesome. It is called Samurai Zombie.

Ahhhhh, Asia. I love how only your film industry can combine samurai, zombies, Pulp Fiction-like gunplay, anime, ridiculous violence and cosplay into a plot that will undoubtedly make no sense and yet still shake the pillars of heaven and hell with its sheer balls-to-the-wall awesomeness.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sexiest Man Alive to host Self-Congratulatoriest Night Alive

Breaking News: Hugh Jackman, recently named sexiest man alive by People Magazine, is set to host the 81st Annual Academy Awards this February.

Now, in the past, comedians have hosted the Oscars, but with the exception of Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal, none have well and truly clicked. The edgier, hipper comedians (David Letterman, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart) have come off as uncomfortable, neutered and/or inappropriate. The safer choices (Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg) seemed too eager to please.

Jackman, as an actor, may seem to be an odd choice, but over the years many actors have hosted. David Niven and Jack Lemmon both hosted numerous times, and both probably were great. Jackman has already hosted the Tony awards a few times to great acclaim, and as a singing, dancing and charming fellow, I bet he'll be the breath of fresh air they're looking for.

I had thought that Ricky Gervias was going to get the gig, but I'm actually pleasantly surprised by this choice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Avengers Assemble! - Casting Call - Captain America

Okay, over the last little while, I've been reading at more than a few comic book and film sites about who fans think should play some of the big roles coming up in the next Marvel Films.

Just to review, go here to learn about Marvel Studios' upcoming plans to recreate the Marvel Universe on the big screen. Also, waaaay back I posted about Eva Longoria purportedly being up for the role of The Wasp in The Avengers. Personally, she seems like a rocky choice to me, even if she does look like the character.

But back to the fans. At Newsarama, a poll just concluded that saw Fringe's Mark Valley the most popular choice for the role. Look, I don't mind Valley, but this vote seems to be totally about the fact that he superficially looks like Steve Rogers rather than any confidence in his ability to actually carry an entire film franchise on his back. This is what irritates me about these kinds of polls. No one thinks like you would have to when actually casting one of these things; namely that the person has to be capable of drawing some sort of audience, and he has to have the chops and the confidence to carry a whole franchise. You know why Iron Man worked? Because Robert Downey not only fit the part but also elevated the material beyond its comic book roots.

So, Nerdlinger (you may be saying), put your money where your mouth is and give us your pick.

Okay, here is my choice for Captain America: Leonardo DiCaprio.

Now some of you may be rolling your eyes right now, but listen to my reasoning here. First off, when Marvel took a chance and cast Robert Downey Jr, it was far from a sure bet. Downey was a well-respected, Academy Award nominated actor, yes, but he was not necessarily an A-list movie star. He was missing that big money-making crowd-pleasing blockbuster. Therefore, he was not crazily expensive like Tom Cruise, a level of movie star that can overwhelm both the budget and the character. But, what got people excited was that Downey had chops. Serious acting chops. No one doubted that whatever he did with the role of Tony Stark, it would not be a cheesy shallow interpretation. And it wasn't.

DiCaprio is sort of in the same boat. Yeah, yeah, he was in Titanic, but he's spent most of his career since then running away from that film as hard as he can. So, while he's a movie star, and a big one, his more artistic sensibility has kept him from attaining the same level as say, George Clooney or Brad Pitt. However, he might be ready to dive into a franchise comic book film, provided it's the right kind of role, and Steve Rogers (sickly depression era kid who becomes WWII super-soldier and then is frozen for the rest of the decade, waking up as a man out of time) provides more dramatic meat than most comic book roles. Look at that picture above. That's pretty damn close to 1940s Steve Rogers, isn't it?

Some of you might claim he's too much of a pretty boy. Well, I thought the same thing. Until Blood Diamond. That was the first film where I thought I was watching a man, not a very good looking young man. Even in The Departed, he had a "youthful" quality. But in Blood Diamond, I completely bought him as a badass ex-soldier. and you'd think he'd be psyched to appear as an icon alongside such quality actors as Downey and Edward Norton.

DiCaprio for Cap. That's my choice. What about Thor? Or Ant-Man and the Wasp? Check out a future post for my picks there.

Friday, December 5, 2008

RIP - Forrest J Ackerman

More sad news, though it was not unexpected given his health; legendary genre icon Forrest J Ackerman has passed away. He was 92 years old.

Ackerman created the legendary magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland in 1958, perhaps the first and best publication devoted to genre films. It was hugely influential, counting such future horror and science-fiction luminaries as Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, John Landis and others as fans. During his lifetime he amassed the largest and greatest collection of genre memorabilia in the world, including Bela Lugosi's Dracula cape, Mr. Spock's ears, and Lon Chaney's makeup kit, along with a staggering amount of photos and other items. Perhaps most impressively, he actually coined the phrase "sci-fi".

He interviewed legends like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price. He introduced countless youngsters to old genre classics. He was among the first to suggest that these types of films and stories were even worth serious scholarship and appreciation. Here's a wonderful obit.

Rest in peace, Uncle Forry. And hopefully, you'll come back the way you'd want, as a terrifying creature of the night.

RIP - Paul Benedict

Back in 1996, I was in my first year of theatre school at New York's Circle in the Square. If attending theatre school in Manhattan three blocks from Times Square wasn't cool enough, the professional Broadway theatre attached to my school was putting on production of Eugene O'Neil's Hughie, directed by and starring Al Pacino.

It's a two-man show, with Pacino playing a down-and-out gambler, dreamer and liar named Eerie, who spends a long, exhausted night talking to the night clerk at the flophouse he stays at. That clerk was played by Paul Benedict. Mr. Benedict passed away on Monday. He was 70 years old.

Though I did once almost literally run into Pacino in the halls (that's another story), I actually met and spoke with Paul a few times, and he was a kind and funny man. He was amazing in the paly, delivering wonderfully funny stream of conciousness monologues and more than standing up to the powerhouse that is Pacino.

Of course, Benedict was most famous for his wonderful portrayal of Mr. Bentley, the neighbour, on The Jeffersons. He also was the first director of the classic play Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. The LA Times has a nice obit here.

Rest in Peace, Paul, I'm glad to have met you.

I'm pretty sure I enjoyed "Synecdoche, New York"...

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that Synecdoche, New York was a brilliant movie. At least, what I understood, I liked, but there was a whole lot of the movie that reminded me of taking mind-altering chemicals. Not in a trippy way, but in the way that, while on drugs, even the most ordinary of things take on the quality of the surreal.

First off, the acting was universally amazing, starting with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who is just fucking great in this role. He anchors the film with his deeply flawed but deeply human Caden Cotard. I recognized people I know personally in him, and even saw myself there. I felt for the guy, even when he behaved in a pretty horrible manner. Hoffman is one of the few "great actors" that is not overrated.

Secondly, the huge amount of great roles for women was pretty awesome. I won't list how many amazing actresses were in this thing, but it was pretty incredible, and they all do great work. Special shout-outs must go to Samantha Morton (who is criminally underrated, actually) and Emily Watson.

What I liked about it where the qualities I understood. The interconnectedness of humanity; the way that one person is everyone. The overarching theme of accepting that we all will someday die, and coming to terms with the fact that from the day we're born, we're dying. The way that human relationships can lead to disappointment and regret.

But there's so much going on here, so many surreal touches and narrative twists, that it all begins to feel like there's simply too much going on to absorb. By the end of the film, I was convinced that it was the work of a genius, but a genius in need of guidance. There are a lot of elements that could have been cut from the film, not because they're bad per se, but because they simply cram too much into the piece and take the whole film off point, causing it to meander and feel unfocused.

Still, it's nice to have the complaint that a film tries to be too rich and complex and innovative. What a contrast to the empty, facile, vapid experiences films all too often offer up. I'm going to watch this film again, and maybe it will come together for me more. I hope so. It's a film that I really think is almost a masterpiece.