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    Tuesday
    Sep072010

    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 ComingSoon.net:

    Tangled opens in theaters on November 24th. 

    Tuesday
    Sep072010

    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.

    Tuesday
    Sep072010

    Hilary Duff in Contention for Spider-Man Reboot

    Feels a bit like déjà vu from a year ago when every actress under the sun was rumored to be Black Cat for Spider-Man 4. With the newbie Webhead secured in Andrew Garfield, it's time to fill out the supporting players, including an as-yet-cast villain and the young dame to cause heartbreak and cock-teasing. In the case of this new iteration, we're talking about Gwen Stacey.

    In a piece focused on her home with husband Mike Comrie, the Globe & Mail gave away that former teen-star Hilary Duff is up for the role in the 3D reboot:

    "Although tastefully furnished (Comrie says he's unsure if anything is from The Brick), it is relatively humble by Beverly Hills standards. The kitchen contains evidence of their professional lives – his daily diet is posted on the fridge (from a bacon cheddar burrito for breakfast to five pigs-in-a-blanket as a nighttime snack) and a script marked 'Spiderman' sits on the table, with lines for a character simply called “girl” highlighted in yellow (rumours swirl about who Spidey's love interest will be in the series' next instalment.)"

    I'm sure there's no way they thought putting that spec of a detail wouldn't spike up the hit-counts for a post most normally wouldn't give any attention to! She's such a logical choice for Gwen too! I mean she already has blonde hair and all. She’s perfect!

    All power to her, but I'm not holding my breath expecting Marc Webb & Co. to go this way.

    Tuesday
    Sep072010

    Martin Freeman to The Hobbit: "Thanks, But No Thanks!"

    What happened to Tobey Maguire and The Hobbit? I didn't doubt those rumors originating towards the end of last year and since his reign as Spider-Man is over, shouldn't it have been easy to get his signature on a deal to headline the Lord of the Rings precursor?

    Nonetheless, another actor is rumored to be in the running for the youthful Mr. Baggins.

    According to The Sun, an offer was made by Martin Freeman, star of the original UK incarnation of The Office and currently of the BBC hit Sherlock. He's been a fan-favorite for the role, but don't start leaping for joy fanboys. He apparently 86ed the opportunity to succeed Sir Ian Holm:

    "It was too late for Martin because he had already signed up for another series of Sherlock. It was agonising but he had no other choice."

    Since this originated from the UK tabloids, there's a 99.999999% chance this is utter bullshit, and that would make me a sucker for even running with this. But hey someone has to keep spreading false hope about The Hobbit.

    Tuesday
    Sep072010

    Gemma Arterton Meeting Ridley Scott about Alien Prequels

    Even with the talent involved, I don't give a damn about these proposed Alien prequels. Please, Ridley Scott, we don’t need to be told in specific details just where those acid-blooded fuckers came from or what the deal is (well, was) with the giant space jockey. Some things are just better left to our imagination, or fan-fiction.

    Alas, 20th Century Fox seems content with moving this forward and I get the impression this will happen with or without Scott behind the helm. Maybe his logic is "I might as well be the guy to do it, right?" *Shrugs*

    Speaking to The Times (via Digital Spy), Gemma Arterton confesses she'll soon meet with the Blade Runner helmer upon his request after seeing her performance in The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Details are being kept to the minimum, but rest assured she wouldn't be playing a younger Ellen Ripley. Oh God, please tell me Ripley's mum isn’t the lead.

    With Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans (and its 2012 sequel lensing next Spring), doesn't she have enough tentpoles under her belt already?

    Tuesday
    Sep072010

    Natalie Portman Offered Gravity

    Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, plagued with delays and ill-fated searches for its lead, may have found salvation.

    Hot off the heels of the glowing reviews for Black Swan, Risky Business says a firm offer has been sent to Natalie Portman to headline the ambitious space-set 3D Robert Downey Jr. co-starring project.

    This comes after two rejections from original choice Angelina Jolie, recent rumblings of Rachel Weisz being name-dropped (via Latino Review), and Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively being earlier touted as the two finalists.

    She doesn't have the overseas box-office appeal of Jolie (a key, but fair, reasoning behind Warner Brothers' hesitance). But she has a crop of high-profilers hitting next year – the Ivan Reitman-directed comedy No Strings, Your Highness and, of course, Thor.

    Knock on wood, this crisis has been averted and she accepts.

    Monday
    Sep062010

    Weekend Box Office: September 3-5

    Courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

    1.  The American - $13.1 million

    2.  Machete - $11.4 million

    3.  Takers - $10.9 million

    4.  The Last Exorcism - $7.4 million

    5.  Going the Distance - $6.9 million

    6.  The Expendables - $6.6 million

    7.  The Other Guys - $5.3 million

    8.  Eat Pray Love - $4.8 million

    9.  Inception $4.5 million

    10.  Nanny McPhee Returns - $3.5 million

    George Clooney proved a box office winner this Labor Day weekend, easily beating out Robert Rodrieguez' Machete for first place with $13.1 million for the weekend and a $19 million total since opening last Wednesday. 

    Machete performed strongest on its opening day on Friday, although business was steady enough through the weekend to finish in second place with $11.4 million ($14 million total including the Monday holiday).  Last weekend's winner, Takers, held on surprising well, dropping 47% to come in third place with $10.9 million.  It's total domestic gross now stands at $39.9 billion, which isn't bad for a film released during one of the quickly-forgotten last weekends of the summer.

    The holiday weekend was not as kind to The Last Exorcism, which dropped a whopping 64% from its opening weekend with just $7.4 million.  Still, that's better than Drew Barrymore's romantic comedy Going the Distance did this weekend, which barely outdistanced The Expendables' $6.6 million to come in fifth place with just $6.9 million. 

    The rest of the top ten consisted of holdovers that played well while most audiences enjoyed the last official weekend of the summer.  Even Nanny McPhee won the battle against a re-release of Toy Story 3 to round out the top 10 with another $3.5 million.  Toy Story 3's box office shot up 89% this weekend, add another $1.9 million to its staggering (and well-deserved) $408 million domestic total. 

    We start the fall movie season next week with Resident Evil: Afterlife kicking all of those sweet family movies out of the 3D theaters.   Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

    Monday
    Sep062010

    Andrew Garfield talks 'Spider-Man'

    After being silent for over two months since it was announced, Andrew Garfield has finally spoken of what it's like to be the new Spider-Man.  In an interview with The Trades, promoting Never Let Me Go and The Social Network (both films I'm definitely seeing), Garfield states:

    "I have been waiting for this phone call for 24 years, for someone to call me up and say, "Hey, we want you to pretend to be a character that you’ve always wanted to be all your life, and we’re going to do it with cool cameras and cool effects and you’re going to feel like you’re swinging through New York City. Do you want to do that?" [laughs] “Let me just consult with my seven-year old self and see what he thinks...” So my seven-year-old self started screaming in my soul and saying, This is what we’ve been waiting for. Like every young boy who feels stronger on the inside than they look on the outside, any skinny boy basically who wishes their muscles matched their sense of injustice, God, it’s just the stuff that dreams are made of, for sure. It’s a true f*cking honor to be part of this symbol that I actually think is a very important symbol and it’s meant a great deal to me, and it continues to mean something to people. So yeah, I feel like I’ve been preparing for it for a while. Ever since Halloween when I was four years old and I wore my first Spider-Man costume."

    It sounds like the guy is really passionate about the role.  I'm yet to see a film of his, but everything I've read says this guy is an extremely talented actor.  We'll see how he does come Summer 2012.

    Monday
    Sep062010

    An update on 'Batman 3'

    Via the always reliable Batman-on-Film, it seems the hush-hush Batman 3 is still being scripted right now.  As Jett reports:

    According to our old friend "A.P.," BATMAN 3 is still currently in the script stage. As of yet, no start-of-production date, etc. have been set. From what I've been able to gather, we're at the point where director Chris Nolan is giving brother Jonathan Nolan's script a polish. As far as an announcement, it'll come via the trades before the end of 2010. Since it is already September, that means sooner rather than later.

    So what does this all mean?  Well basically, Chris Nolan is putting the finishing touches on the Batman 3 script so casting should begin soon if it has not started already.  Also, if an announcement is coming before the end of the year, we should know by January what the title is, who the villian will be, whose joining the cast, and when filming begins (probably around Spring of next year).

    Looking forward to all this.  Now I wonder if Christian Bale will come out of the cave he's been hiding in for the past year and a half...

    Sunday
    Sep052010

    Aussie Musical "Bran Nue Dae" Opens September 10th

    "One of the most delightful, heartfelt and crowd-pleasing musical comedies in years."- Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

    ****(Four stars) “I loved this film!”- Win Kang, OC Examiner

    "Hilarious...A celebration. The next homegrown cinema classic" - MTV (Australia)

    The film Stars Australian Idol winner Jessica Mauboy and Pirates of the Caribbean’s Geoffrey Rush!!!