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Friday, July 25, 2008

"Cowboy Beebop" Goes Live Action

One of my favorite anime series, and what many consider to be one of the very best, is being brought to live action. I'm currently of two minds about this. Like most things that anime presents, the film could be beautiful. But as we know, live action adaptations don't always go as planned, and when it's 20th Century Fox behind things, it's either all or nothing.

Producer Erwin Stoff announced it recently:

“I’m developing 'Cowboy Beebop' for Fox, but doing it as a live-action film, so I’m working on that at the moment,” said Stoff.“I’m really excited to be working on it, and it’s in the really early stages. We just signed it the other day. I have such an enormous admiration for its creators, that our first and foremost concern is going to be a real degree of faithfulness to the tone of the movie, to the mix of genres, and so on and so forth. When I met with them in Japan, one of the first things that I brought up was the experience that we had on 'A Scanner Darkly', and how hard we worked to remain faithful to Philip K. Dick, and that was our big concern here.”

Well he sounds sincere... Stoff's track record isn't exactly respectable, but it's not horrible either. He did have a hand in "The Matrix," "The Devil's Advocate" and "Constantine." However it's going to take more than just remaining faithful to the source material to make a good "Cowboy Beebop" movie. I'll judge further when more comes along, but Stoff better fight for one of the finest writers in the business if he wants to keep fans happy.

"Cowboy Beebop." An amazing show. I'm not sure if they should risk tainting its great name. Well... There's no choice but to try now. Best of luck to you Stoff. Don't f$#^ this up.

"Stealing Time" On Screen

Columbia Pictures has green-lit a new film based on the theory of time travel. "Stealing Time" is said to be a sci-fi thriller that investigates the possibility of time travel.

The film will involve three different eras of people who look for a mysterious device that may answer the generation hopping question: Is time travel possible?

The film is to be directed by Walt Becker ("Van Wilder," "Wild Hogs") and is written by television writer Colin Trevorrow.

It's a shame such an interesting idea is being pinned by a wack job like Becker, but one can cross his fingers right? Maybe that's more of my false hope. No word on when production begins, but I imagine the film is far in to the 2010/2011 range.

"Elm Street" Gets Repaved

Oh no. First Jason, now Freddy returns. Apparently WB/New Line has hired Wesley Strick ("Cape Fear," "Doom") to write the latest adaptation of Freddy Krueger. The proposed project is said to be a straight up remake that will keep the high school setting and dive deeper in to the "psychology" of the Freddy character.

Another bad slasher franchise revitalized by a writer best left for Sci-Fi Original Motion Picture flicks? Pass. Freddy sucked then, I can't see him doing anything better now.

For those interested, the film is in its very early stages. I wouldn't expect this thing until 2010 at the very, very earliest.

Burton Takes Alice to "Wonderland"

Well it was only a matter of time. "Alice in Wonderland" is finally in the hands of director Tim Burton. Walt Disney is teaming up with the legendary director for a live action, and probably very bizarre, version of the classic tale.

Currently, rising Australian actress Mia Wasikowska is in talks for the role of Alice. (Currently she stars as a regular returnee on HBO's series "In Treatment.") The movie's script was written by Linda Woolverton. ("Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," "Homeward Bound") Shooting will begin this November and will be filmed in both live action and motion-capture.

"Alice in Wonderland" is rumored to arrive in theaters 2010 in Disney's Digital 3D.

Not too keen on the 3D crap, but everything else sounds pretty cool. "Alice in Wonderland" and Tim Burton? Must have been love at first sight.

Darren Aronofsky Takes On "RoboCop"

Well this blows my mind. After two movies about fighters...or wrestlers... (Take your pick) Aronofsky's next feature film will be "RoboCop." For the indie-film illiterate, Aronofsky is responsible for some of the most thought provoking and powerful films of the last 15 years. "Requiem for a Dream" is often considered his ultimate masterpiece and "Pi" is an amazing follow up. The man is also responsible for my all-time favorite film, "The Fountain;" an underrated work of art that transcends accepted filmmaking and moves into a spiritual and emotional world that no other movie would dare go.

Now that I'm done praising the man, I must say I am stoked for the next "RoboCop" installment. What I initially thought was a bad idea now seems like the second coming. Aronofsky could potentially do for "RoboCop" what Christopher Nolan did for Batman. The film is being written by David Self (Road to Perdition) and is said to take place 20 years after the RoboCop program has been dropped. Obviously someone wants to pick it back up.

So if the rumor is true, this new flick is a sequel to the original three films. (Yes, including the hideous third movie.) Part of me wishes they would just reboot the saga and start fresh. Regardless of my feelings on that, Aronofsky at the helm is nothing short of a great thing.

RoboCop returns, 2010.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Tron" Returns

Comic Con is underway and I get to be a mopping little nerd and stay on the other side of the country from it. The first bit of news I've got is some that will interest some friends of mine and baffles me. It'll interest my buddies because, well, they're fans of the original movie. It baffles me because, well, unlike them I thought the original flick was pile of crap.

That said, the title rings true. The long awaited sequel to "Tron" has had footage unveiled at this year's Comic Con, and guess who's back? A bearded Jeff Bridges supposedly reprising his role as Kevin Flynn.

According to the teaser the film is titled "Tr2n." Before Disney sprung this surprise on Comic Con goers rumors of a second "Tron" movie were already floating around with a 2011 release date. That sounds like a long way away, but considering that the movie hasn't even started filming I would guess that this teaser was filmed simply to announce that its coming and nothing more. I would also guess the title will be changed after it makes it further in to production. In addition, the movie will be featured in digital 3D.

Beyond this very little is known. I'm wondering if this really is a sequel and Jeff Bridges is playing the same character, OR if it's a remake and Jeff Bridges is simply playing some other character. Either way I think this material is kind of beneath him. I will say this much: It'll be interesting to see the visual difference between this and the 1982 cult movie.

With no official date I'm saying 2010 at the earliest, 2011 at the latest.

REVIEW - "Get Smart" (2008)

What is with comedies these days? I pondered this as I waltzed out of “Get Smart.” Yeah it had a few laughs, but it was hardly a great comedy and there were some gimmicks, jokes, slapstick—Whatever you want to call it, that simply weren’t funny. I definitely see the talent that was in the movie and I tried to enjoy it for what it was, but it was forced. It was clenched by the fact that I desperately wanted to laugh, but didn’t find the movie all that funny. Hopefully “Get Smart” does more for you, but there’s simply too little wit to be sampled from this film.

Steve Carrel plays the 2008 incarnation of Maxwell Smart, a man who gets promoted to field agent for Control after most of the agents are killed by Chaos. His new partner, Agent 99 (Anna Hathaway), is skeptical of his experience in the field; but the two press on to battle the forces of Chaos and their plan to terrorize America.

The story is simple and very much like the 1960s television series that the film is based off. The similarities end there. Steve Carrel plays a much different Maxwell Smart and Anna Hathaway plays a less friendly Agent 99. I considered this a good start because copying the original actors, Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, is pointless. Those actors did their thing a long time ago and it was good. Carrel is allowed to do his own thing here and the result is better than I expected. I feared too much of “The Office” would slip in to this movie, but he actually turns the character in to something new. Is the new Smart smart enough? Actually, yes. That’s also a downside.

The film’s material doesn’t do very much to capture the essence of Maxwell Smart. Smart was never really aware he screwed up in the television series and when he did he wrote it off with believable professionalism. In this film Smart plays a guy who actually does know what he’s doing from time to time, but when he screws up it’s a typical moment of embarrassment-turned-comedy. Case in point: Maxwell Smart allows hundreds of beads to drop on the floor and rolls his eyes at his buffoonery. Later it helps him when villains slip on the beads and are rendered unconscious. “I set that up.” Says Smart, with the utmost lack of confidence. The original Smart would have been completely confident that he set up a trap and would have believed it himself as well.

I’m not criticizing the way Carrel played the character, simply that he never touched what Maxwell Smart is. The irony to his name is that he thinks he’s brilliant and he maintains that even when he messes up. In this film, such humor is gone and Smart is a typical “Oops! I did this wrong, now laugh at me,” character. Not that there was that much to laugh at anyway.

Yes, I enjoyed the dart scene in the airplane washroom. I found the suicide banner to be hysterical, and Smart’s final solution for defeating Agent 23 was funny and very well set up. The problem with this list is the simple fact that I’m able to pick apart certain scenes I found amusing and line them up. Nothing was consistent— There were times I laughed, yes, but there were also times I was bored or even shaking my head at how unfunny a certain joke was. I even sat there wondering why there was such an explosive action sequence in the film. Why do we need to see a car chase on railroad tracks with an airplane hovering over it? The television series never had this. Have audiences’ attention spans become so short that an action sequence is thrown onscreen when we need it the least?

As I write this I still contemplate why so many comedies, such as this one, don’t fulfill me. In this case in particular I find it interesting that, in an attempt to create good humor, a studio remade a television series that actually was funny and then failed to reach its comedic level. What does that say about us? Is this generation filled to the rim with such bad humor that we’re going to have to settle for Seth Rogen’s filth and more Happy Madison productions? Or, like a joke that’s too smart for some people, do we simply not get what good humor is? I eagerly await the movie that gets me chuckling to the point of tears again. When all the Sandlers, Ferrells, Rogens and Carrels are gone, what will be next?

*1/2 out of ****

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poll Results - What Has Been Your Favorite Movie This Summer As of July 10th?

Well, as I expected, "Iron Man" moped the floor with all the other movies that had been released before July 10th. But now we get in to some interesting territory. "The Dark Knight" has been released and at a new recording breaking 155 million for the weekend it seems "Iron man" will be dethroned. In the meantime, Iron Man's victory is as follows:

Iron Man - 22 Votes (59%)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - 1 Vote (2%)

Speed Racer - 1 Vote (2%)

The Happening - 0 Votes (0%)

The Incredible Hulk - 2 Votes (5%)

Wall-E - 4 Votes (10%)

Wanted - 3 Votes (8%)

Hancock - 2 Votes (5%)

Other - 2 Votes (5%)

"Wall-E" a brilliant film came in a not-so-close second and some movies that I didn't even think would get a vote were. (Like "Speed Racer" and the vastly underrated "Narnia." I'll have a new poll up soon.

"Boondock Saints 2" Story Revealed

It's been a while since Troy Duffy announced that the sequel to the cult hit was green lit. Now, in typical Duffy style, the director of the film has given fans a lengthy preview of the film on a radio show. Here's what was caught from it:

You kind of wonder what has happened to the brothers… They have been living way back in the valleys of Ireland with their father on a family run sheep farm, way beyond the reach of technology or men. Way out there. It’s been sort of a bucolic existence, hard working pioneer-esque type stuff. They have long hair and beards, and stuff like that. You get the sense that they’ve been hibernating to come back. And there is an event that transpires in Boston. A priest murdered in a church and the body is rigged to make it look like the Saints did it. The one guy that the brothers and father have contact with is Il Duce’s brother. So he gets the first notion of this, puts his jeep in gear and tells the brothers what happened. And without even thinking of it the boys are up and out of there … they cut their hair, digg up their rosaries, strap on their guns, and they’re gone! And Dad has to stay back because something is wrong with him, and you can tell he doesn’t have much time left. So when the brothers smuggle themselves back to the US, back to Boston, in a very understandable way. And one of the guys they meet along the way is a Hispanic American named Romeo. And Romeo ends up becoming like the third brother or saint, fourth I guess if you’re gonna consider Billy. He’s a lot more of a bad ass than Rocco was. But his comedy is that he wants to be a lot more a part of this. So there is a lot of humor that comes from that. He’s hopefully going to be played by a friend of mine named Clifton Collins, who was in Capote and Frankie Flowers in Traffic.”

“When they land they basically start killing everything that they think is responsible for that priest’s death. And Romeo has a connection to the Hispanic underground in Boston, which over the last ten years has become pretty exceptional. That is how they are finding their information this time, instead of from Rocco in the first one. So, we’ve got some great set pieces, some big gun play and new types of stunts. But, right off the bat, we have the same three detectives back. And they are confronted … because Williem is not going to be in the second one… He is dead right off the top, and his protege, she is named Unis Bloom, she is a George peach. She’s got that doc holiday accent, super super sexy. So she’s the one going after the saints and now working with these three officers. And she’s FBI. Now immediately, the cops from the first film, they were all in on it. They helped the saints at the end of the day, they crossed over to the dark side. And they don’t know if she knows or not. That’s something we play with throughout the film. There is no love interest by the way. A lot of people hear there is going to be a female lead in Boondock and think there is going to be some kind of love interest… don’t worry about that… That’s not happening. It’s a way to throw a curb-ball at the audience.” … “So for my money, you can’t just give them everything they loved from the first one. You have to give them a new story. She is that new story. She is one hell of a firecracker. She starts going with the cops, and this helps preserve something I loved about Boondocks 1, and fans have remarked about. Billy’s character Il Duce is the third act. He blasts the story wide open. And because we’re keeping him in Ireland, he gets to do the same thing here. He comes back in the third act. The brothers, everything you think is going on, isn’t going on. Here’s the guy that did this. And it ends up being an old guy who has a connection to Billy. And you sort of figure out where this has all been going. And we go into a period flashback and we explain how Il Duce got to be Il Duce.” … “all the way to the point where he makes the first version of that leather vest.”

"The Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day" is expected to go in to production this August. (If of course a looming actors' strike doesn't shut it down first.)