Friday, July 31, 2009

Remake Watch 2009: Jesus Christ Superstar

THR's Risky Biz Blog is reporting that Jesus Christ Superstar is potentially next on the remake chopping block. I don't know anything about the original or the musical, but Marc Webb, director of (500) Days of Summer is potentially helming. I hope it's just like that movie, with Jesus and Mary bonding over Smiths songs and anal sex jokes, with cute animations come to life.

Also, it turns out Ridley Scott is directing the Alien prequel, as per Variety. I think I'm gonna take it off the "reboot" list. Funny, how it went from a remake, to a reboot, to just seeming like another entry in the franchise.

Remake Watch 2009:
16 film remakes announced
4 film remakes released
2 tv remakes released
1 reboot announced
2 reboots released
1 remakes announced/released direct-to-DVD
1 TV remake

A "reboot" is defined by Remake Watch as a new attempt at a film series with new actors playing old characters (thus, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Race to Witch Mountain are excluded). Sequels to remakes (The Pink Panther 2, Halloween 2) are ignored.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wolf Man's Lament

I remember when The Wolf Man was announced as a vehicle for Benicio Del Toro, with One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek at the helm, I was excited. It had the potential to be a stylishly creepy movie. If you've seen One Hour Photo, just picture the clean, stark look of the Sav-Mart (a look also present in many of hus music videos), and then picture it being corrupted by something as uncontrollable as turning into a werewolf. In 2007, Romanek already had at least two collapsed film follow ups to Photo behind him (the Tom Hanks thriller Cold Case and the ill-fated adaptation of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces), so I was anxious to see him make a movie, especially something I could see working so well.

Predictably, creative differences led to Romanek leaving the project, and Universal, in their infinite wisdom, replaced him with Joe Johnston, director of Jurassic Park III. It's not that I think Johnston sucks as a director, it's just that he has no discernable style, he's a workman, not an artist. Clearly the studio had no idea how much of a buzz-builder Romanek really was (or how much of a buzz-killer Johnston would prove to be), but The Wolf Man pretty much dropped like a rock off of everyone's radars at that point. Even a disreputable director like Brett Ratner would have been a better choice as far as promoting the movie goes; imagine how much more you would have heard about the movie in the last year if Ratner was directing it. They premiered a teaser at Comic-Con 2008 that, as far as I know, was never officially posted online, and didn't even bother showing up at Comic-Con 2009.

CHUD is reporting that Universal has just bumped The Wolf Man to February 12th, 2010. Ho, hum. Who knows, maybe Joe Johnston will have directed a surprisingly good movie. But by that point, will anyone care?

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Where are my wife and daughter?"

Bloody-Disgusting is reporting a rumor that Robert De Niro has a role in Machete, the feature-length expansion of Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse trailer. I think that'd be awesome. One of Robert De Niro's last great roles was in Tarantino's Jackie Brown, and I think the atmosphere of a movie like Machete would be perfect for De Niro.

Then again, I don't know how he'd feel about taking on the same character Jeff Fahey once played, though. Thems be big shoes to fill.

Assuming all goes according to plan (and I think the internet is not holding its breath), Machete starts shooting in a few weeks with Ethan Maniquis taking main directorial duties (Rodriguez is co-directing in some capacity).

Whip It good?

I don't believe in Fox Searchlight. They've put out some good movies, but they're also becoming as bad as 20th Century Fox with their insistence on turning quirk into a commodity.

I don't believe in Diablo Cody. You're probably thinking, 'but Diablo Cody didn't write this movie!' Yeah, she did. Prove to me that Shauna Cross and Lorene Scafaria aren't Diablo Cody. I bet you can't do it, can you? Didn't think so. Time's up.

And I really don't believe in Ellen Page. Her biting cynicism is just the right kind of cyanide to kill the earnestness and joy in a film. I'd love to see her come out of her shell and really put something up on the screen, because it'd probably be really raw and intense, but she just seems guarded all the time.

On the other hand, I do believe in Drew Barrymore. It's clear that her enthusiasm and spunk are genuine, and I get plenty of that in the above trailer. Is it enough to make me want to see the movie? I don't know. I'd guess probably not in theaters. But the trailer didn't repulse me the way I was expecting it to.

Also, it's got Future Man in it!

Whip It! opens October 9th, 2009.

Stephen Chow makes July 9th, 2010 look less interesting confirms the news I knew in my heart was coming for months and months now: Stephen Chow is dropping out of Michel Gondry's Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen.

This is a shame. It still sounds cool, and I still love Gondry, but it doesn't sound as weird without Stephen Chow. But then, what do I know. Maybe they'll cast Fabio or Jason Statham or Samuel L. Jackson as Kato.

The Green Hornet will hopefully open on July 9th, 2010.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Remake Watch 2009: Nothing!

That's right, nothing! After a slew of remake announcements, it's been all quiet on the new remake front for a few days. In order to satisfy your remake-news needs, however, I have dug up quite a bit of information on already-announced remakes, and attached an awesome, hot picture of Chloe Sevigny, just because I f--ing want to, and I totally f---ing can.

- The Karate Kid is now called The Kung-Fu Kid. Also, they changed the name of the mentor character to Mr. Han and made him a janitor, among other things. Whether or not it actually qualifies as a remake anymore is debatable. Source: The Associated Press.

- Speaking of not-remakes, some site called Mania has a blurb about how Stephen Norrington's Crow film is about an entirely new character and changes the story. Hmmm...

- Kate Bosworth signed on to the Straw Dogs remake, along with Alexander SkarsgÄrd. Via Variety.

- Nicolas Cage tells MTV that the second Ghost Rider should be a whole new take on the character. Soon they'll be rebooting movies before they start!

Remake Watch 2009:
15 film remakes announced
4 film remakes released
2 tv remakes released
2 reboots announced
2 reboots released
1 remakes announced/released direct-to-DVD
1 TV remake

A "reboot" is defined by Remake Watch as a new attempt at a film series with new actors playing old characters (thus, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Race to Witch Mountain are excluded). Sequels to remakes (The Pink Panther 2, Halloween 2) are ignored.

Earth Needs Stuntwomen

Hey, look, the movie trailer for Raging Phoenix!

The girl is Jeeja Yanin, who starred in Chocolate. I like women, and I also like seeing people getting their ass kicked. Seeing a woman kick a bunch of ass is just like a sexy, entertaining bonus. Also, there is a scene with sawblade legs or something tucked away in the middle of the trailer, as if it isn't the coolest part.

That said, I've seen three martial arts films from Baa Ram Ewe: Ong-Bak, Tom Yum Goong aka The Protector, and Chocolate. They all had two things in common. They contained the best martial arts I'd seen the year they came out -- hell, some of the best ever -- and they were all among the worst films I'd seen that year (not to mention they've been getting worse as they go on...not good). Whoever writes movies for this stable of stuntpeople really needs to step up their A-game. Take District B13 as an example: it's got lots of martial arts, a paper-thin plot, and clever jokes (especially from Taha, the villain). That's really all you need.

Raging Phoenix opens at some point in the future. Normally clicking on the title would lead to the IMDb page and I'd list a date, but there isn't an IMDb page yet.

Source: FilmDrunk.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cheap Thrills: Fair Game (1995)

Cheap Thrills is a column on The Following Preview featuring movies that can be had new at certain stores for $5 or less. Today's movie is the action-thriller Fair Game (1995), which I found at a Big Lots! store for $3.00.

Note: Normally I write spoiler-free reviews, but this one talks about the ending. Obviously, Fair Game is full of shocking twists you'll never see coming, so consider yourself warned.

My memory of the early 1990s is pretty vague and as the years pass, it gets all blurred together, but for whatever reason, 1994 sticks out in my head as the year when I first heard of Cindy Crawford. I also remember the buzz about Fair Game being her first starring role in a major motion picture, but this was long before I cared about movies, so it isn't until now that I've had the pleasure of viewing her first big foray into big-screen work. The verdict? Cindy Crawford is a knockout with limited acting talent, and the movie is hilarious.

Lots of movies have clothesline plots, but Fair Game is almost deliberately uninterested in the details of why Ilya Kazak (Steven Berkoff) would want to kill Kate McQuean (Crawford), other than the broad strokes: she's a lawyer, and somehow her lawyering is going to interrupt his attempt to steal $900 million dollars. Kate is out jogging when Kazak's silly Russian henchmen try, and fail, to kill her for the first time (as far as I can tell, the bullet is deflected by her armband Walkman). She ends up making a statement at the police office where Max Kirkpatrick (William Baldwin) works, he forgets to have her sign it, and is conveniently there for the first in a string of situations where he manages to save Kate's life.

Mediocre action movies only have one card to play for the audience's approval, and that's the action. At first I was worried the movie was going to bore me to death, slogging through character development for Kate (plot-relevant lawyering with an uncredited Dan Hedaya) and Max (not-relevant ex-girlfriend wackiness with Salma Hayek), but when Kate's huge mansion of a house gets seriously explosion-y, the movie becomes entertaining in a hurry. It's a cliche that men like to see stuff blown up real good, but the pyrotechnics experts working on Fair Game knew what they were doing: while the non-action operates on an indeterminate level of sincerity, the explosions are firmly over-the-top, setting the tone for the rest of the movie. For whatever reason, it's mostly cars: cars that get shot in the gas tank, cars in parking garages, cars being swung into other cars, and even an old yellow beater that Max crashes into a railroad crossing sign while boarding a train in the most complicated, stupid and wasteful way possible.

Speaking of which, the other tone-defining element is William Baldwin. Will falls in the middle of the three Baldwins whose film performances I can recall from memory (I've seen Nothing But Trouble, but I'll be damned if I remember Daniel). Occasionally, he's got Alec's charisma, and he delivers his lines with a little nuance, but his facial expressions are extremely goofy. From the moment he springs into action, guns ablaze, flying through the air, it's like a 1980s-era Nicolas Cage has time-traveled into the film, only with more intense, deliberate mugging. IMDb says Fair Game had more than a handful of reshoots. I don't know what's new and what isn't, but a positive side effect I'd credit to this process is that Baldwin's chances to emote alone appear to be cut down significantly. More than a handful of scenes seem like they were meant to go on longer, but don't, giving the audience a mere hint of William's upset-face instead of a full dose.

Meanwhile, Kazak does amusingly stupid things like fire a gun while standing in the bottom of a boat and explain his plan to Kate for pretty much no reason at all. He's eternally optimistic and memorably slimy; while most of his screen time is spent in the front seat of an SUV looking angry at Max's ability to escape death and/or yelling at more henchmen to go try some more, he elevates himself out of forgettability with extra-exaggerated snarling. His crew is intense too: perpetually Eeyore-faced Olek Krupka, a totally underutilized Jenette Goldstein, and Marc Macaulay at his most Michael Ironside-ish. They drive around in the aforementioned SUV with a hacker named Stefan (Gustav Vintas), tracking credit card numbers and using heat scanning to try to spot Kate and Max, but Max fools them by accident when one of his cop friends flushes the toilet and the cold water takes him off their grid. Awesome!

As for Crawford, she stumbles over more than a handful of lines, and the emotional state of her character varies wildly from scene to scene at the beginning of the film (potentially not her fault; might be the editing again), but she has enough personal charisma to coast through the film. Her scene with Hedaya is solid, and a later scene where she puts some moves on a computer nerd is fun. She also gets to participate in the action from time to time, taking the wheel during a great chase sequence involving a tow truck, and guns down at least one villain (while topless, of course). Clearly, she wasn't destined to be a movie star, but for the purposes of a film like Fair Game, what she pulls off here is more than adequate.

At the end, all of the elements come together at once: a magical bomb that looks like a tape recorder goes off, sequentially blowing up every part of the ship except the part that Kazak is in (which is strange, since I think the bomb is two feet away from him). Max and Kate jump off (Crawford gets wet, Baldwin makes a hilarious face) and Kazak manages to drown (still trying to pull his money out despite the boat sinking and exploding) on one of the most explosive boats of the 90's. The DVD is full-frame, but the original version was 1.85:1 (and the picture here may be open matte, although I'm guessing it's cropped). There aren't any features. Was Fair Game worth the $3 I spent on it? Certainly.

Here's the trailer for Fair Game, which isn't on the DVD. It's about as amusing as the film, with the painfully cliched voice-over (Kate and Max don't hate each other that much in the movie) and lots of dialogue that didn't make the final cut.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II

ComingSoon notes they're making a "TJ Hooker" movie. Some will remember that a fictional "TJ Hooker" movie was a joke at the beginning of the first Charlie's Angels movie. If they're making joke movies from movies into movies now, then they should really start with Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money and See You Next Wednesday.

Just sayin'.

DVD: The Motion Picture! Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!

This is old news by now, but reported that Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to turn the arcade game Asteroids into a movie, and Hollywood couldn't even wait 24 hours to top itself with a View-Master motion picture.

Something the world at large seems to have forgotten but I never will is that they once announced a Slinky movie. Here's the report, from, years ago, reproduced because the site itself no longer hosts the article.

CGI-Animated Slinky Movie in the Works
Source: USA Today
Friday, January 2, 2004

According to USA Today, two studios are said to be interested in doing an animated movie about Slinkys, the popular toy that bounces up and down. Former Venezuelan child star Henrique Vera-Villanueva, the president and CEO of H2V Entertainment, is directing a CGI-animated feature tentatively titled Slinky: The Magic Quilt.

"We are creating a completely imaginary, full world all based on the Slinky," says Vera-Villanueva, who adds that two studios are interested in distributing his film, to be finished in 2005 for the 60th anniversary of Slinky's introduction. "It's a bunch of characters, some of them new, such as the Slinky scarecrow and the Slinky robot, some based on the property known as the Slinky Pets.

"The main character is a big Indiana Jones-type Slinky," says Vera-Villanueva, whose idol is director Tim Burton. "This character is on an adventurous quest, but it's a character-driven film, like Ice Age."

Obviously, Slinky: The Magic Quilt never came to fruition, so let's hope someone with more than two brain cells realizes that Asteroids and View-Master make no f---ing sense either.

I do want to see Ridley Scott's Monopoly, though. Please, make that.

Dear Amanda Seyfried, you deserve better. Much better. Sincerely, Tyler Foster.

Over at Shock Till You Drop, you can watch the trailer for Jennifer's Body, which brings together three of my least favorite things in the whole world: 20th Century Fox, Megan Fox, and Diablo Cody. It looks pretty much as bad as I expected (the movie's visual style looks aggressively boring, the Rocky Horror Picture Show homage is strained, the CG is awful, etc.), but Amanda Seyfried seems unexpectedly interesting, like a beam of light shining in one of the world's deepest, darkest caves.

Additionally, the trailer suggests some of the problems this movie raises aren't going to be contained within the film itself. The trailer prominently features the R rating at the end (after it tries to sell the film on the fact that it's got Panic at the Disco songs in it). We've just come off The Hangover, and I wouldn't want a terrible movie like Jennifer's Body f---ing up the return of the R rating (also worth noting: the last two films where Fox promoted the R were Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and The Happening). I'm also all for gender equality, so I'd love to see both women embracing horror films and horror films embracing women, but writers like Diablo Cody think the only way to appeal to women is to make fun of or prey on men. The result is the kind of idiotic, catty garbage that would likely appeal mainly to either terrible, vindictive people, or those who don't like R with their horror movies.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Watch the trailer for Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! right away.

This just shot up my list of most-anticipated movies of 2009, not to mention it's yet another movie opening in October, along with Shutter Island, The Box, Couples Retreat, bad Amber Heard's strange, given its historical status as a dump month, that it's starting to look like the best month of 2009.

It's been suggested on message boards and things that Damon could get an Oscar nom for this movie, and from the trailer, I'd believe it.

The poster is also hilarious.

I want that poster on my wall.

The Informant! opens on October 9th, 2009.

Cheap Thrills: Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Cheap Thrills is a column on The Following Preview featuring movies that can be had new at certain stores for $5 or less. Today's movie is Leonard Part 6 (1987), which I found at a Big Lots! store for $3.00.

I'd heard many things about Leonard Part 6 long before I finally got the chance to see it. When I was younger, I was a fan of the movie Ghost Dad, and later the movie Meteor Man, which also had Bill Cosby in it, and if I can find it, will be the subject of a later Cheap Thrills. During those Ghost Dad years, I considered renting Leonard, but ended up choosing not to for some reason. Now, almost a decade later, I find myself wishing I could buy Ghost Dad on DVD, but apparently I saw a TV version with several scenes I feel I'd miss too much, so I have to settle for Leonard Part 6.

This movie has a long-standing reputation as being one of the worst movies ever made -- so bad, in fact, that Cosby went from talk show to talk show telling people not to see it. He won three Golden Raspberries for it, which he requested be made of 24k solid gold and Italian marble. Is it as bad as they say? Actually, no. I've seen plenty of movies that were more painful to sit through, and most of Leonard Part 6 is just dull, but that poses another question: how can a film with the extremely likable Cosby playing an ex-secret agent called back into duty to stop a mad vegetarian from using mind-controlled animals to kill all the humans be this boring?

The problem is mostly the direction by Paul Weiland, who is apparently still directing films (like last year's crowning Patrick Dempsey achievement Made of Honor). Half the jokes are painfully telegraphed (mainly anything involving the awful narration), and the other half fall disappointingly flat. Most of them seem to have been thought up on a whim, such as a late-breaking joke where Cosby tries to say something mildly romantic to his estranged wife, but water falling from above is dropping right onto his face, and he splutters through the sentence. Did someone really think this would be funny? During a fight, Leonard forces his opponent to eat a hot dog, and the guy's head explodes. Was he allergic? Was it an explosive hot dog? Why am I asking these questions?

Occasionally, however, a joke or two will shine through. Cosby sells a handful of gags pretty well, despite looking extremely bored at all times, and even Weiland executes a couple of gags with directorial finesse (frogs hopping a car holding a CIA agent into a pond is visually amusing, and a finale involving Alka-Seltzer and dishwasher fluid looks pretty spectacular). Fans of The Matrix will note that the first Oracle, Gloria Foster, plays the vegetarian villain.

Leonard Part 6 is not worth your three dollars. If it had a little more verve, it might have been a demented little cult classic, but for all the random jokes in the movie that have psychotic yet clever payoffs (a fortune-telling woman, speaking a gibberish language not even Leonard understands, gives him butter, and when the punchline arrives, the reasoning makes some sort of drug-induced logical sense), the movie just can't pick up enough energy or enthusiasm to be more than a flop. Foster's character sums it up best, cackling as she watches Leonard using ballerina shoes to out-dance her flock of gymnastic, man-sized chickens: "Clever...but dumb."

Leonard Part 6 on IMDB.

Couples Retreat

Here's the trailer for Couples Retreat. Give it a gander.

The amazing thing is, aside from Ken Jeong as the therapist, how unApatow the movie seems. Not that I'm dissing on Apatow, but here's a movie that seems to have a distinctly traditional style of joke-delivery, and it's got an idea for a movie that seems to go beyond the "formula" version of the idea and pokes a little into the characters' personal lives. This same premise could have easily been about ONE WACKY VACATION, with the title Looking to Get Away? and the tagline "Wish You Weren't Here.".

That said, it only looks amusing rather than laugh-out-loud hilarious, but perhaps it's rated R and this trailer can't showcase the movie's funniest jokes. The main appeal on my end is seeing Vince Vaughn in something that isn't Christmas-related, doesn't look atrocious, or both, since I've felt he's one of the more underutilized actors in the current generation of movie comedy stars.

In addition, Kristen Bell.

Couples Retreat opens on October 9th, 2009.

Remake Watch 2009: An American Werewolf in London, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Bloody-Disgusting has the exclusive on John Landis' An American Werewolf in London being remade by The Weinstein Co., while The Hollywood Reporter has the information on Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.

Aside from the fact that John Landis' original film is a classic, werewolves are inherently boring. They're kind of like the lame cousin of zombies that nobody talks about, and even in that sense, Hollywood totally ran the zombie train into the ground (with the 10-ton vampire caboose bringing up the rear), so a werewolf movie just sounds like the s---ty version of a boring idea. It's too bad, the exception was The Wolf Man, but then Mark Romanek quit and they replaced him with Joe Johnston, and my interest was permanently dead. Matt counters by saying they're "a good metaphor", but I don't think Hollywood has any interesting ideas for werewolves (as evidenced by their ideas for the aforementioned zombies and vampires) that would involve metaphors and s---.

As for Don't, produced by Guillermo Del Toro and probably starring Guy Pearce, I just think of the Nickelodeon show "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" and how much more I'd rather see that.

I remember recently I was in a bookstore, and someone was talking about the Three Stooges movie, and he was telling a customer he heard on the radio that Jim Carrey, Sean Penn, and Guillermo Del Toro were in it. Except he said Gallardo Del Toro, or Guerrero St. Toro, or something really stupid. Thanks, bookstore guy. Now whenever I hear Guillermo Del Toro's name, I'll always think of that. He even knew it was wrong on a subconscious level, because he was surprised the filmmakers had cast the director of Pan's Labyrinth. Of course, he meant Benicio Del Toro, who is starring in The Wolf Man, so I tied that story back around. Kinda.

It was also announced that the It's Alive remake is going direct-to-DVD via First Look Studios after WB dumped it.

Remake Watch 2009:
15 film remakes announced
4 film remakes released
2 tv remakes released
2 reboots announced
2 reboots released
1 remakes announced/released direct-to-DVD
1 TV remake

A "reboot" is defined by Remake Watch as a new attempt at a film series with new actors playing old characters (thus, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Race to Witch Mountain are excluded). Sequels to remakes (The Pink Panther 2, Halloween 2) are ignored.