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    Martin Freeman Not Out of The Hobbit Business Just Yet!

    Fuck a duck! The UK tabloids were dead on. Huh.

    In an update on the story from yesterday, Entertainment Weekly confirms Martin Freeman was indeed offered a seven-figure payday to play Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. While verifying the British actor turned it down (due to his prior commitments to another season of Sherlock), word is Warner Brothers/MGM aren't taking "No" for an answer just yet.

    The studios have punched up a proposed schedule that would allow Freeman to finish his arrangements to the hit BBC series (He's booked up for 20 weeks worth of work next year) and headline the two Hobbit movies. All parties are working to reach a deal.

    Certainly an interesting development and a positive note for fans desperately waiting to hear good news on the troubled productions' front. So does this suddenly make me change my tune on my thoughts The Hobbit won't happen anytime soon? Nope, there are still plenty of other things to get done before cameras can roll in New Zealand – namely sort out MGM’s money woes and determine just who the Hell is directing this.


    Joel McHale Joins Spy Kids 4

    The trades report Joel McHale (star of Community on NBC that you should be watching and E!'s The Soup) has joined the cast of Spy Kids 4. He'll play "the spy-hunting reporter" husband of the earlier cast Jessica Alba whose kids will be the new protagonists this time around.

    Casting is still underway for the tiny heroes and the villain, the Time Keeper. Presumably production will commence in the coming months to make its August 19, 2011 release.

    Is there still interest among the general populous for this franchise? I'd say...probably. The first three were relatively well-liked and successful. Then again, I don't think the world is begging for more. But I could imagine this fourth installment (being labeled as a reboot for some reason) will do fine next summer.


    Ronald Reagan Biopic in the Works

    Hollywood is taking another stab at President Ronald Reagan's life, and thankfully for their sake, they've (supposedly) learned from the mistakes of the infamous 2003 television mini-series.

    THR has the details.

    Reagan will be adapted from two top-selling biographies of the fortieth U.S. President, has a $30 million budget and aiming for a late 2011 release. No distribution deal has been hammered out nor have any actors or filmmakers lined up.

    Let the fantasy casting begin and I'll go ahead and throw a name in the ring for "Paw Paw Reagan" (as my sister used to call him) – Jon Hamm.

    One shouldn't do a ball-sucklingly positive portrayal. That's boring, pandering and uninspired. But you don't need to go so overtly-negative either. Doing that makes everyone involved come off as Hollywood assholes preaching to us dumb-folk in "fly-over country."


    Robert Schwentke Secures R.I.P.D. Directing Gig

    A couple of weeks back surfaced reports Robert Schwentke (whose latest Red opens this fall) was the front-runner for the Ryan Reynolds-starring R.I.P.D. He was also said to be in contention for Wolverine 2, but I think we all know here this sounded like the better route to go.

    "TOLDJA" reports it's now a done deal as Schwentke will direct the supernatural/buddy-cop project. Based on the comic by Peter Lenkov, Reynolds will play a deceased cop continuing his line of work in the afterlife as he's partnered up with a gunslinger from the Old West.

    Production is being eyed to start towards the end of summer 2011. Reynolds is booked solid from here on out with the currently-lensing comedy The Change Up with Jason Bateman, the action/thriller Safe House with Denzel Washington early next year and his worldwide promotional circuit to pimp Green Lantern.

    It's also further proof (like it or not) Reynolds won't be headlining that Deadpool movie Fox keeps talking up.


    Michael Caine versus Bees: Round 2

    Michael Caine has joined Josh Hutcherson and Dwayne Johnson (*Sigh*) for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island according to Heat Vision. He’ll play Hutcherson's granddaddy which will reportedly see the two-time Oscar-winner in "action mode, engaging in several chase sequences, including one involving giant bees."

    Hence The Swarm reference in the title.

    Hey, the man likes to work and Batman 3 won't be shooting until next spring. I can't wave my nagging finger of disappointment at Caine simply because he's already done plenty of bad movies in years past (the afore-mentioned Swarm, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Jaws: The Revenge, Bewitched, etc.)


    Liam Neeson (sadly) boards 'Battleship'

    Every so often in Hollywood, a film comes along that  is just doomed from the get go.  Whether it be the premise, the actors involved, or just the idea that some studio exec would greenlight the disaster waiting to happen, the film eventually follows its self-fulfilling prophecy and completely bombs critically and commercially.

    Low and behold, we have Universal's $200 million budgeted, Summer 2012 tentpole release of Battleship, based off the popular Milton Bradley board game to be directed by the Hancock helmed, Peter Berg.  If that previous sentence alone wasn't enough to get you to understand my sentiments, maybe this next one will.  The science fiction/action-adventure centered around a Naval fleet who must protect earth against alien invaders, will star Taylor Kitsch (TV's Friday Night Lights), Rihanna (hip-hop star making her acting debut), Alexander Skarsgaard (HBO's True Blood), Brooklyn Decker (famed Sports Illustrated swimsuit model), and Tom Arnold (yes, Tom Arnold).

    With that said, you should now understand the article's title. Liam Neeson, the incredibly talented and badass actor of Darkman, Schindler's List, Batman Begins, Kinsey, and Taken, has joined this already sinking ship (no pun intended). Liam is set to play Admiral Shane, the father of Brooklyn Decker's character who...does it really matter to be honest? Hopefully he does his "thing" and gets a fat paycheck out of it, because that's the only positive he's going to get from a film like this.


    Exclusive: New Wizard of Oz Book and Film in Development!

    TMT has just learned of a Wizard of Oz spin-off sequel in the works. The plan is to release a novel first and then a film adaption will follow. The book will be released later this year or early next year. No start of production or release date have been set for the film as of yet, but I"d expect to hear something more concrete shortly after the release of the Novel.

    The Novel is being published by Lulu Publishing Inc and the film adaption is being developed by independent production house Buzz Motion Pictures.

    The story is as follows:

    Dorothy and Toto return to Oz exactly one year after their last arrival to Kansas from their first trip after a call of help from Glinda the Good Witch. The Munchkins are missing and so is Glinda's magic! Get ready to click your heels for the first time in over 70 years as you join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Toto, and the Lion on an entirely new adventure down the yellow brick road!

    You'll also meet new exciting characters like patchwork girl, a hungry tiger, a rainbow princess, talking horses, and singing trees along the way!

    Prepare yourself for ''Dorothy and Toto in Oz'' and discover what happened next in the story of Oz!

    Principal Photography Begins on 'The Cold Light of Day'

    Following up with my previous entries, it was announced today that prinicpal photography has begun on the action-thriller, The Cold Light of Day.  The Mabrouk El-Mechri directed film, starring Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis, and Sigourney Weaver, will shoot entirely in Spain till November 13th.  Here's the official press release:


    Production Begins in Spain on the Action-Thriller
    Directed by Mabrouk El-Mechri

    Alicante, Spain  September 7th, 2010 – Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver will join Henry Cavill in Summit Entertainment and Intrepid Pictures’ action thriller THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY.  Principal photography commenced on September 6th and will continue through November 13th.

    THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY, set and filmed entirely in Spain, will be shot over ten weeks in the Community of Valencia and Madrid as well as several weeks on the stages at Ciudad de la Luz studios in Alicante.  Mabrouk El-Mechri directs the project from an original screenplay by Scott Wiper & John Petro, with revisions by Richard Price.  Intrepid principals Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans will produce the project along with Jesus Martinez, principal of Galavis Film which will co-produce the project.  Steven Zaillian from Film Rites, Kevin Mann and Matthew Perniciaro of Picture Machine, and Wiper will executive produce.

    The film is a US-Spanish production, and the majority of the cast and crew are Spanish and European.

    Also starring are the Spanish actors Verónica Echegui and Oscar Jaenada. Co-starring are Caroline Goodall, Roschdy Zem, Joseph Mawle, Rafi Gavron and Emma Hamilton.

    THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY is an action thriller that centers on a young American whose family is kidnapped while on a vacation to Spain.  He is left with only hours to find and the connection between their disappearance and his father’s secrets.

    Summit Entertainment will distribute the film in the US and sell internationally. Erik Feig, Summit’s President of Production, and Summit’s Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Michael Schaefer, will oversee the project for the studio.

    About Summit Entertainment
    Summit Entertainment is a worldwide theatrical motion picture development, financing, production and distribution studio. The studio handles all aspects of marketing and distribution for both its own internally developed motion pictures as well as acquired pictures.  Summit Entertainment, LLC also represents international sales for both its own slate and third party product.  Summit Entertainment, LLC released on average 10 to 12 films annually.

    About Intrepid Pictures
    Intrepid Pictures, an independent production and financing company founded in 2005, co-produced the $82 million worldwide box office hit THE STRANGERS.  Intrepid plans to produce and finance three to four pictures annually, and is currently packaging THE RAVEN, THE BYE BYE MAN, and the action picture THE COURIERS for production.

    About Galavis Film
    Galavis Film SL is a company from Valencia founded by Jesus Martinez in 2002, dedicated to producing and financing domestic and international films. Galavis Films has participated in the production of the titles THE KASERÓN and THE ART OF STEALING.  In addition to THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY Galavis Film is preparing production the films LADY SCARFACE and BAIT.


    Tangled Viral Video

    It seems a little strange that Disney should choose this popular YouTube clip that sounds like a cross between a stoner marvelling at a double rainbow and starring in his first porn film to use as a spoof for their new viral video for their upcoming animated film Tangled...but they've gone and done it anyway.  And, it's actually kinda funny.

    You can check out the clip below, courtesy of

    Tangled opens in theaters on November 24th. 


    Marveling At The Past - 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' (2009)

    "I was just the fool that got played."

    'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' represents everything that is wrong with prequels. We knew going in that it was a mistake to devote an entire film to Logan's origin. You were not only going to completely undermine and damage the first two X-Men movies and the time they spent developing the character and his back story but also create a film completely devoid of surprise, suspense or tension because we already know what happens.

    I resigned myself to that. I expected it. But 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' also represents perhaps the point where the comic book movie genre has, for the most part, become truly stale. The film shows all the symptoms of a film series' fourth time at bat, the point where it has nothing original left to say and falls back on a proven but utterly creaky formula. It also throws in a fair few elements from other films of the genre and, in one case, downright plagiarism (that would be the scene where Logan is taken in by Ma and Pa Kent for five minutes, just for those of you who managed to purge that atrocity from your minds).

    I resigned myself to that as well. For the first hour or so, the film was what I expected it to be; lame, unoriginal, confused and dull. I was expecting to walk out of the theatre saying that the film was crap but 'Ghost Rider' and 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer' were worse……

    ..…I think the movie might have heard me at that point and cried back "you wanna bet?". Because the movie then proceeded to become as utterly stupid and retarded as those two films but topped off with the most atrocious special effects I’ve seen in a $100 million movie in a long time. At least Ghost Rider and the Silver Surfer looked good. Wolverine couldn’t even manage decent computer animation in a bathroom scene where he’s just looking at his new adamantium claws in a bathroom mirror. It isn't as though this was something that had not been done before. We've seen Wolverine's claws done quite successfully in three previous films, in large scale action sequences no less. It just defied belief.

    When it comes to comic book movies, I will admit that I can be quite shallow regarding my criticism at times. If the film provides that spectacle and fun then I am willing to forgive it a lot. What stunned me the most about 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' was how damn cheap and small scale it is as a film. Director Gavin Hood, whether intentionally or not, stages the film as if it were a play being performed on stage with the most minimal of set decoration, backdrops and extras. The world of 'Wolverine' never feels alive or lived in. This only worsens towards the back half of the film when it starts to resemble a live action beat 'em up video game as Logan travels from one colourful location to another to fight a bizarre collection of characters. By the time Gambit gets pinned down, you are tempted to yell "YOU WIN" at the screen.

    Things could have been different. If we follow on from my article on 'X-Men: The Last Stand', where I re-concieved that film into an epic two parter which would have ended with Logan heading out onto the lonely road again, the Wolverine movie would have certainly been a sequel. Although I personally do not hold the Wolverine solo comic series penned by Frank Miller in as high regard as some, there is certainly something to be said for doing a solo sequel movie for the character. Wolverine, being a mutant whose power is to slice and dice people to pieces with razor sharp claws, is a rather ridiculous character to be constrained by a PG13 rating. If the studio were able to take a risk on making a lower budget, R rated Wolverine film with a completely different tone and style to the X-Men movies then we would certainly have something worthy on screen.

    The original Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine comics are not particularly dense. They are a simply story told well. Logan travels to Japan, falls in love with the daughter of a powerful crime lord and fights overwhelming odds just to be with her. Though Miller's intention is to re-mould the Wolverine character slightly to give him more of a Japanese sensibility, the story is really just a very cool excuse to see him fight ninjas, samurai and Yakuza. It is the perfect pitch for a straight forward action movie. It might actually be one of those rare cases of the source material working better on screen than on paper.

    By having the story set after the X-Men films, they would have had the creative license to do whatever they wanted. We would have felt for the character. We would have feared for his life. We would have no idea where his journey was going to take him. As a prequel story we are robbed of all of this. Wolverine is going to lose his memory. There is no point trying to create any tension over the possibility of Logan not surviving the adamantium bonding process as we know he does. There is no point having any final face off between Wolverine and Sabertooth as the latter's fate is already pre-determined and he must show up in X1. There is no point having Logan threaten to rip Stryker in half because he has to show up in X2. The moment Logan's love interest Kayla Silverfox shows up on screen she has a sign growing out of her reading 'dead meat' in big neon letters.

    In fact the reason the final act of the film is so painful to watch is because it finds itself without the freedom to tell its own story anymore and so constrained by the need to make sure the continuity of the series ties together. Even though the studio is intending to get back on our good side by setting the prequel sequel in Japan, those handicaps remain. Logan is still going to have to end up back in that shitty Canadian bar fighting people for money.

    The character himself is barely recognisable as the Wolverine that I know and that we have been told about in the previous X-Men movies. What glimpses we got of his backstory in the first film was perfectly satisfactory. When Bryan Singer delved back into it with the second, he wisely upped the ante for the character by bringing him face to face with his past and the realisation that he may not want to know where he came from or who he was beforehand. Stryker taunts that Logan was always an animal and he just gave him claws. Maybe there was the intention to really delve into that origin based on that tantalising line and show the real Logan. But that is not what we get. The Logan of 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine', or little Jimmy if you like, is an adorable little kid with sibling issues who endures several lifetimes of violence and kills countless people.....but only in the service of his country. As a result, those first two X-Men films are completely undermined.

    Even sweeping aside the film's problems simply functioning as a prequel, it is still a confused mess that does not know what it wants to be about. I love the fact that the filmmakers wanted to try and make an X-men movie that deals exclusively with character relationships and doesn't feel the need to explore concepts of prejudice, tolerance and teen angst once again. But you still have to pick a theme and stick to it. 

    The film initially appears to be the story of two brothers being torn apart by circumstance and a lifetime of violence, and the consequences which come as a result. It isn't particularly original but it would have held our attention. The film looses this angle after the first reel and by the climax you would be forgiven for forgetting that Wolverine and Sabertooth are brothers. It seems to have no bearing on the proceedings. The film tries for an angle of betrayal by love akin to 'Casino Royale' but there is too little of the romantic relation ship for it to be potent. The film tries to be a quest for revenge for a little while but ends up being so confused about who Logan is really angry at between Sabertooth and Stryker, not to mention the realisation that neither of those characters can be killed as they show up in future, rendering it pointless.

    The icing on the cake of course is the treatment of Deadpool. I don't know very much about the character myself but I think it is fair to say that when Wade Wilson is revealed at the climax of the film in his mutated form, we are supposed to be freaked out or at least mildly spooked. Instead we are just left scratching our heads about yet another character that is supposed to provoke a reaction from the audience but has not spent enough time on screen to resonate. We are, however, truly freaked out when Patrick Stewart shows up a little later as a as a soulless, dead eyed, expressionless CGI corpse.

    But you know something? After twenty articles and revisiting every Marvel movie, things like that don't hurt anymore. I'm not angry about a bad comic book movie made by Fox anymore. I'm just fed up. We deserve better. Whether we get it or not as Marvel Studios attempts to take greater control of their properties and Fox lets Bryan Singer back into the X-Men franchise, 'Marveling At The Past' will continue with each new release. I hope you'll join me.