Sunday, August 30, 2009

REVIEW: Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

Year: 2009
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger, Mélanie Laurent, Eli Roth
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
MPAA: Rated R

Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds has been in development for over a decade because the story just kept evolving and expanding. Tarantino produced nearly 3 scripts, but just couldn't come up with an ending. He put the project on hold and instead worked on the Kill Bill volumes. After he finished Kill Bill, he went back to Inglourious Basterds and trimmed several sections to make it into one film. Tarantino did Grindhouse (Death Proof segment) next with director Robert Rodriguez so he had to put Inglourious Basterds on hold once again. After Grindhouse was over, Tatarntino started development on Inglourious Basterds for The Weinstein Company. In July 2008, The Weinstein Company teamed with Universal Pictures to help co-finance and distribute in international markets. The two companies accelerated production so it can be completed for release at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.

Plot Outline:
In German-occupied France, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds," Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own.

Inglourious Basterds is the new film from director Quentin Tarantino and probably his best in a long time. The film tells its story through chapters, very similar to Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. This works out nicely because Inglourious Basterds doesn't have just one plot, but rather many. The film's trailers have been oddly leaving out a good jest of the story. In fact, Brad Pitt and his Nazi killing squad hardly take up much screen time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing considering all the pieces fit and make sense in the end. Tarantino continues to leave his trademark in this film with meaningless dialogue. Their are several scenes that feel very stretched and that's mainly due to the long conversations the characters tend to have. This also results in the film being longer than it probably should have been. The film is roughly 2 and a half hours long, yet it feels alot longer than that. The dialogue just seems to drag the film down. With these problems out of the way, the film is just pure awesome. The characters are fun to watch and fun to listen to, especially when you have solid performances all around. The film also touches in some humor every so often that's just a blast to see and very Tarantino-like. He also makes good use of the amount of gore and blood in the film. It never feels like its too much or unnecessary. The ending was also quite good and not just another lame Hollywood ending. Its just refreshing to see a World War II movie end in a different way than we have all known to expect.

Brad Pitt plays the lead character of the film, Lt. Aldo Raine. Pitt is an excellent choice for this role because he shows a side to himself that we haven't really seen. He sports a new accent and he definitely feels like hes not trying too hard. This tends to make his character seem alot funnier than hes suppose to be. Christoph Waltz plays as a detective of some sort, Col. Hans Landa. Now, Ill be honest and say that I've never heard of Waltz until this film, but damn does he give one hell of a performance. He easily steals every scene hes in and gives a performance that's easily worth an Oscar nomination. He essentially creates a character that not only is scary, but also very intelligent. We also have the lovely Diane Kruger playing as Bridget von Hammersmark. I personally wouldn't say this is her best performance, but shes still pretty good in this film. Her character is mostly a hit and miss in terms of performance. I never really felt that connection with her character that I did with the ones listed above, but she was still fun to watch. Mélanie Laurent plays as a smoking hot, Jewish immigrant: Shosanna Dreyfus. Laurent is another actress that I never seen before this film, but she totally nailed this role. Shes wonderful to look at and delivers an enjoyable performance that might be worth checking out.

The visual look of Inglourious Basterds is practically great. I was a bit worried that this film was going to go the same route of Tarantino's last film, Death Proof in which the film's visual style was hampered with an odd use of different grain filters. Luckily, this film doesn't have any of those problems and easily ranks high up their with Tarantino's Kill Bill collection in terms of visual fidelity. The film does contain some grain here and their, but its hardly distracting and never overused. Colors tend to pop like no other and really showcase's the films vibrant tone. From the beautiful grassy field in the beginning of the film to the colorful Nazi occupied theater at the end, the film is just wonderful to look at. This is by far Tarantino's most beautiful film in terms of its cinematography and wonderful environments. Flesh tones are pitch perfect and you can clearly tell who's playing who. Detail is also quite strong and really makes for an image that's beautiful to glaze at. Its not razor sharp like the Kill Bill volumes and their are some occasional scenes that tend to look a little softer than others, but its still up their with some of the new releases I have recently seen.

The soundtrack in Inglourious Basterds is just as great as the visual style of the film. While the music really isn't a big part of the movie considering theirs hardly enough of it in it, but its still very good. It kind of reminds me of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and the similar use of music in that film. Its definitely not as exciting or engaging as the Kill Bill volumes, but its still very good and it somewhat carries the film. The bass in Inglourious Basterds is also great. The film has a ton of scenes that involve guns and explosions. These all sound terrific in terms of bass usage. It feels very dynamic and nicely spread out. I was expecting the film to be mostly front centered considering theirs a ton of dialogue, but luckily, I was proven wrong. The bass in Inglourious Basterds is far from what I would call reference material and it doesn't hold a candle compared to new releases like District 9 or Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but what we have is more than enough especially when you consider the amount of dialogue the film has.

Inglourious Basterds is a great film and one that's sure to become another Tarantino classic. Its refreshingly funny and just flat out entertaining. Its so damn nice to see a film based around World War II and actually end up going in a different route that we wouldn't have expected. Other than the scenes dragging due to the overuse of dialogue, this is easily one of Tarantino's best films. The cast is great with Christoph Waltz giving a phenomenal performance that's very much worthy of an Oscar. The visual style of the film is definitely a step up from Tarantino's last film, Death Proof. The vivid colors and exceptional detail truly makes this the most beautiful film I have seen this whole year. The soundtrack is just as good and is nicely mixed with the story of the film. Its also worth mentioning that it definitely comes close to the music in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, which still stands out as my favorite film of all time. I can easily recommend this to Tarantino fans because it truly feels like his film, but also to those looking for an entertaining film. I had high doubts that we would see another great film like District 9 before the summer season was over, but I'm happy to report that I can add Inglourious Basterds to that short list.

Grade: B+

Monday, August 24, 2009

Teaser For Christopher Nolan's Inception!

Warner Bros. has debuted the teaser trailer online for The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan's new film, Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy and Michael Caine.

Opening in theaters on July 16, 2010, the Warner Bros. Pictures release is described as a contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind. Nolan also wrote the original screenplay.

Looks pretty cool for a teaser and a hell of alot better than The Dark Knight teaser. I'm still trying to figure out why Warner Bros. would give this film a $200 million budget. I mean from the looks of that teaser, it doesn't look like its going to be a special effects extravaganza like Avatar. Its also worth mentioning that big budget films like this usually star Will Smith because he brings in the crowd. I cant help, but feel that this film ain't going to make its budget back even with the impressive talent invovled.

28 Weeks Later Director Helming Bioshock Movie?

"28 Weeks Later" helmer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is in talks to direct "Bioshock," the Universal Pictures adaptation of the Take-Two Interactive videogame. Gore Verbinski has stepped out of the directing slot, but remains the film's producer through his U-based Blind Wink shingle. John Logan wrote the script.

Verbinski opted out of directing because he couldn't commit to an overseas shoot since he is locked into directing the Paramount animated film "Rango," with the title character voiced by his "Pirates of the Caribbean" cohort Johnny Depp.

"With "Bioshock," Fresnadillo is stepping into one of the highest-profile projects on the Universal roster. Verbinski came attached as director when Universal made a multimillion- dollar against gross percentage acquisition from Take-Two. Verbinski then stepped away from directing his fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film because he expected to be in production on "Bioshock" last spring in Los Angeles.

But Universal put on the brakes during the pre-production phase because the budget rose to $160 million and the studio needed it to cost less. At the time, Universal sources vowed this would not turn into another "Halo"-- U and partner Fox dropped out of that vidgame adaptation, which was to be directed by "District 9" helmer Neill Blomkamp with Peter Jackson producing. But the negotiations with Fresnadillo indicate the studio is determined to make "Bioshock" offshore.

Once it was clear Verbinski wouldn't direct, he and the studio sparked to Fresnadillo, whose deal is contingent upon the thumbs-up from Take-Two, which maintains director approval. Fresnadillo's producing partner, Enrique Lopez Lavigne, is in talks to become a producer.

"Bioshock" takes place in the underwater city of Rapture, where a pilot crash-lands near a secret entrance and becomes involved in a power struggle.

I'm really happy to finally hear some news on this project considering its one of my most anticipated films. I am alittle sad to hear that Verbinski isn't going to direct the film, but at least hes still on board as producer. I still don't think this should be a cause for concern considering the studio is talking to 28 Weeks Later helmer, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo about tackling the project. I personally think Fresnadillo is an excellent choice to bring Bioshock to the big screen. While, Verbinski probably would have made the film more visually entertaining, I think Fresnadillo will bring out the more horror elements of the story. Here's hoping Fresnadillo signs on and production on the film goes smoothly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bourne 4 Lands A New Writer And A 2011 Release

Josh Zetumer has signed on to pen the fourth installment of Universal's "Bourne" movie series, writing what is being described as a parallel script.

George Nolfi, who worked on "The Bourne Ultimatum," initially came back for the fourth entry. He also boarded to write and direct "The Adjustment Bureau," an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story that reteams him with "Bourne" star Matt Damon.

But as that movie nears its September start date, Nolfi had to step away from "Bourne." Not wishing to slow development and keen on making "Bourne" part of its 2011 slate, Universal hired Zetumer to write a new script. It is unclear what will occur after Zetumer submits his draft or whether his script will be integrated with Nolfi's.

"Our hope is that Nolfi, a key member of the 'Bourne' team, will return after he is done with 'The Adjustment Bureau,' " a Universal spokesperson said.

Writing two scripts, though rare, is not without precedent in the tentpole movie world. "Star Trek: Generations," "Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer" and "Wolverine" are movies that had parallel scripts commissioned and sometimes had them combined. "Conan," still in development, is another project that falls into that category.

Frank Marshall and Jeffrey Weiner are producing the latest "Bourne" installment.

Not sure how I feel about this since I'm not too familiar with Josh Zetumer. I can understand that writer George Nolfi is busy directing The Adjustment Bureau, which is another title I'm really excited about, but he was a key writer in the Bourne series. I still have high hopes for the 4th installment because Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass are on board. Those two alone gives this film a strong chance considering the amount of talent both Damon and Greengrass bring to the table. I'm happy that Universal didn't want to delay this any further and quickly decided to do something about it. As long as the series continues to have a strong story and Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, than I could care less if they keep making them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Universal Pictures Debuts The Wolfman Trailer

Universal Pictures has revealed the trailer for director Joe Johnston's The Wolfman, opening in theaters on February 12.

In the film, Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself.

I cant believe it, but that Avatar trailer still has me thinking about it. That said, The Wolfman trailer looks great and the extra delay time definitely looks like it payed off in terms of special effects. I have high hopes for this film and can only pray that it delivers. If this film is successful, than we can start seeing more Universal horror monsters getting remade, which isn't a bad thing because it just means that more audiences are going to be introduced to these classic iconic monsters.

The Trailer For James Cameron's Avatar!

20th Century Fox has released the first trailer for James Cameron's Avatar, opening in 3D theaters and IMAX 3D on December 18. The sci-fi action-adventure stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Peter Mensah, Laz Alonso, Wes Studi, Stephen Lang and Matt Gerald.

Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.

Wow, that trailer was nothing less than breathtaking. Theirs alot riding on Avatar considering its massive budget (over $200 million) and the fact that its Cameron's first feature film since 1997's Titanic. Having just seen the trailer just minutes ago, I can honestly say it will surely live up to the hype. If their was any film out their that deserved to be seen in 3D, this is it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peter Berg Talks About Hancock 2 Possibilities

Director Peter Berg has some ideas for a sequel to Hancock if one ever comes to pass.

At the end of last year's Hancock, it was revealed that Will Smith's superpowered character was actually an immortal god who became vulnerable only when in the presence of his goddess companion (Charlize Theron). Berg confirmed that a sequel would elaborate on the film's mythology.

"There might be another god out there," Berg said in an exclusive interview last month in Pasadena, Calif. "

Might be another one."If two gods render each other mortal, imagine what kind of wrench a third would throw into the mix. Also, imagine the casting to match up with Will Smith and Charlize Theron! In the mythology of Hancock, all the gods supposedly died out except for our heroes, so a third deity would tweak the mythos.

Berg also confirmed that the subplot of Jason Bateman's publicist character should pick up where it left off in Hancock, where he's starting his charity campaign.

Of course, Columbia Pictures would love another Will Smith blockbuster for the earliest possible summer position. Smith and Berg, however, are in no rush. "They like to fast-track it, but Will's busy, I'm pretty busy," Berg continued. "We're excited to do one, but we want the script to be right and the movie to be right. We don't feel a burning imperative to go right back into it."

Well, the first film had potential to be something special, but achieved it. It might be interesting to see if another Hancock film will end up being good. I'm sure it will be a killer at the box office, but here's hoping it doesn't contain no silly twist or wasted performances. Besides, I think both Smith and Berg are busy with other projects. So if another film were to get greenlit, it probably wont go into production till mid-year next year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sony sets writer for Spider-Man 5 and 6

As Sony Pictures Entertainment preps a fourth installment of "Spider-Man" to begin production early next year, the studio has quietly engaged screenwriter James Vanderbilt to pen "Spider-Man 5" and "Spider-Man 6."

Vanderbilt was the first writer on "Spider-Man 4." Director Sam Raimi brought on David Lindsay-Abaire to rewrite the script, and Gary Ross is now rewriting that script. The studio is enthusiastic about where it stands as the picture begins prepping for an early 2010 production start for a May 2011 release.

Raimi didn't embrace all of Vanderbilt's ideas, but execs at Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios have. Vanderbilt has been hired to pen the fifth and sixth movies, which have an interconnected storyline. That's what was originally discussed when Vanderbilt signed on to write "Spider-Man 4," but the idea of shooting a fourth and fifth film back to back with the original cast was scrapped.

Sources said it was unclear whether Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst will be back. If they aren't, Vanderbilt's script would be the blueprint for a franchise reboot. After committing to his fourth "Spider-Man" film, Raimi signed on to direct a new franchise based on the massively multiplayer role-playing online computer game "World of Warcraft" for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Maguire and Dunst were locked into the first three pictures and made a new deal for "Spider-Man 4." It's unclear how long they want to continue with the series.

I'm still trying to figure out if Spider-Man 4 will deliver. Spider-Man 3 left a bad taste and I know it wasn't director Sam Raimi's fault. Here's hoping the villain for Spidey 4 will actually have alot more screen time and actually gives Spider-Man a fight for his life. I really hope that we get an "R" rated movie with Carnage as the main villain in either Spider-Man 5 or 6.

Monday, August 17, 2009

REVIEW: District 9

District 9

Year: 2009
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Vanessa Haywood, Mandla Gaduka, Jason Cope, Vittorio Leonardi
Distributor: TriStar Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

In 2006, director Neill Blomkamp was chosen by Peter Jackson as the director of the Halo movie that Microsoft, Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox were putting together. When Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox backed out after 5 months of early development, the project went into hiatus. Peter Jackson and those involved in the Halo movie felt obligated to give financial support to Blomkamp and give him another chance to do another film. It was than decided that Neill's short film, Alive in Joburg could be expanded into a feature film. Work on the film began the day after the Halo movie was halted. The film's budget was set at a mear $30 million, which allowed the film crew to have more creative freedom. QED International fully financed the production of the film and entered into a distribution deal with Sony Pictures under TriStar Pictures.

Plot Outline:
It's been 28 years since the aliens made first contact, but there was never any attack from the skies, nor any profound technological revelation capable of advancing our society. Instead, the aliens were treated as refugees. The government of South Africa set up a makeshift home in District 9 as politicians and world leaders debated how to handle the situation. As the humans begin to grow wary of the unwelcome intruders, a private company called Multi-National United (MNU) is assigned the task of controlling the aliens. But MNU is less interested in the aliens' welfare than attempting to understand how their weaponry works. Unfortunately, the highly advanced weaponry requires alien DNA in order to be activated. When MNU field operative Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is exposed to biotechnology that causes his DNA to mutate, the tensions between the aliens and the humans intensifies. Wikus is the key to unlocking the alien's technology, and he quickly becomes the most wanted man on the planet.

The plot in District 9 is very good and easily makes for an entertaining movie. Not only is it original, but its just so damn refreshing to finally see something new and unique. The film is told in a documentary style that is somewhat similar to films such as Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project. The fist half of the film moves at a slow pace while gearing up for an intense, action filled second half. The film does a wonderful job of telling its story that it would seem almost impossible for anyone to not understand whats going. Maybe it does too good of a job explaining everything that it makes the first half seem alittle longer than it should be. I also found the third act to go in a direction that I felt wasn't necessarily the right one. It just wasn't something I was expecting and felt somewhat off compared to what it was leading to. It also doesn't help that the film has many unnecessary use of foul language that honestly felt un-needed. Don't get me wrong, I love it when actors swear their brains off, but only if it feels natural. Pulp Fiction, my favorite film of all time has over 200 foul words, but it feels much more natural in that film than it does in this film. Its not something that I felt hampered the story, but just a small nitpick of mine. Other than these small issues, District 9 is definitely the best film of the Summer. Its exciting, entertaining and at times, breath-taking. District 9 delivers what many other summer films failed to deliver, which is a movie experience that your going to talk about for sometime.

Sharlto Copley plays as the main focus of the film, Wikus Van De Merwe. Having not heard of Copley before this film, I didn't know what to expect. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed because he gives a very good performance as Wikus and one that the audience will enjoy rooting for. He brings alot of emotions to Wikus and just makes him a very likable character. It also helps that he gets the most screen time out of everyone else in the film. Vanessa Haywood plays as Wiku's wife, Tania Van De Merwe. Shes also very good in her role especially for someone who I haven't seen in another movie. She has many emotional scenes that I think she nailed nicely. Shes perfect opposite Copley, but I do wish she had a bigger presence in the film. Mandla Gaduka plays as Fundiswa Mhlanga and hes pretty decent in the film. Its kind of hard to tell about his acting considering the films main focus is on Wikus and his struggle to find a cure. We also have Jason Cope playing as Grey Bradnam. He too is difficult to judge considering he doesn't get much screen time. Not to mention he is still early in his acting career.

The visual look of District 9 is simply astonishing. It was filmed in a documentary style with HD handy cams, kind of like Cloverfield. This adds a certain realism to the film and it almost feels like you right in the center of the action. This type of fast action/quick edit mixed with the jaw dropping special effects, simply make for one hell of a film. Just by judging the films TV spots, I doubt anyone would have guessed it was made for only $30 million. Director Blomkamp definitely has some tricks up his sleeve and he really helped out with the special effects team. Its also worth noting that the films transfer is excellent too. I didn't notice much grain aside from a few shots in the beginning. The image remained as smooth as possible for the remainder of the time. Colors were nicely saturated to the point where it really made the cast shine in the hot city of Johannesburg. Black levels were also strong and easily up their with some of the recent film releases. Flesh tones were spot on perfect and never displayed any micro-blocking. Detail is also great and easily tops some of the films I have seen lately. Close up shots show a great deal of clarity and pounds of sweat on the cast members. Its worth noting that the alien creatures are also amazingly detailed.

The soundtrack in District 9 is just as impressive as the special effects. The original music is done by composer Clinton Shorter, who has been scoring TV shows most of his life. Shorter's ambient music just goes perfectly hand and hand with Blomkamp's bleak vision for this film. The film doesn't have a particular theme song, which is a shame because I would have wanted something pacifically for this film that's epic like the Star Wars theme is to Star Wars. Still, the film has wonderful engaging music that never gets in the way of the story and always seems to be moving at a good pace. District 9 also features a good amount of bass usage that just simply blows everything in its path. I raved about how Cloverfield was demo material in terms of sound, which it still is. That said District 9 comes dead even if not one step higher than Cloverfield in terms of a rocking theater experience. This film is guaranteed to be demo worthy when it hits Blu Ray later this year. Trust me, its really amazing.

District 9 is a breath of fresh air that just happens to be the best summer film to grace the big screen this year. Its original, its gripping and damn well entertaining. It is really the film we the movie lovers have been craving for considering the lack of originality coming from Hollywood in the past few years. If it weren't for the third act and slightly overuse of foul language, it would of ranked as high as an "A". The cast is mostly good with hardly anyone else being a significant part other than Wikus. The special effects are outstanding and truly impressive for a film made on only $30 million. It honestly gives Michael Bay and his $200 million budget Transformers sequel, the middle finger. The soundtrack is equally impressive and certainly delivers the right type of music for the right type of atmosphere. The bass is going to be demo worthy for years to come. I recommend this to those looking for a great Sci-Fi action film or to those who were left with a bad taste in their mouth because of the crappy summer films we have lately been getting.

Grade: B+

Friday, August 14, 2009

X-Men Director To Tackle Battlestar Galactica Movie?

Universal Pictures has set Bryan Singer to direct and produce a feature version of "Battlestar Galactica."

It's not clear whether Ronald Moore, exec producer of the recent series, will be invited to write the screenplay, but Singer will clearly put his own creative stamp on the project, as the studio indicates that the film will be "a complete reimagination."

Glen Larson is aboard to produce.

The original version of the series ran for two seasons on ABC beginning in 1978. Singer had long been intrigued with "Galactica" and flirted with relaunching it into a TV series right after he directed the original "X-Men". At the time, he was teamed to exec produce the series with Tom DeSanto and to direct the pilot of the new version.

The director got busy on other projects, but he was prescient, at the time calling the Galactica brand "a sleeping giant." Moore became the executive producer of the 73-episode series, which had a successful run on the then-Sci Fi Channel starting in 2004.

Even though I don't watch the show, I really think Ronald Moore should be involved with the movie in some capacity, considering he was the one that spearheaded the recent and successful version of Battlestar Galactica on SyFy. I'm also a big Bryan Singer fan because the guy is simply talented. I know people are going to continue hating him for Superman Returns, but if you guys knew the whole story with that project than you wouldn't necessarily blame him. Singer did what he could with that project, the script just wasn't up to speed with what comic book fans wanted out of Superman. Still, the guy is talented and I really enjoyed the first two X-Men films especially X2: X-Men United. I also thought his last film "Valkyrie", was pretty solid so Singer definitely has a good track record with his films. Its going to be interesting to see what creative input hes going to have on the Battlestar Galactica Movie.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sony In Talks To Pick Up Heath Ledger Film

Heath Ledger’s final film has finally found a Stateside buyer.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group is in advanced talks to pick up "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," with plans for it to go out theatrically, likely this year, via Sony Pictures Classics.

Pic is expected to be a lucrative homevideo title due to the Ledger angle and the other star power. Terry Gilliam’s adventure also features Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, who replaced Ledger in various fantasy scenes after the thesp died during the film’s production in January 2008.

"Parnassus" was officially unveiled at Cannes this year in an out-of competition slot toward the end of the festival. Several buyers screened the film just before Cannes, but a deal didn’t immediately emerge.

The "Parnassus" deal with Sony has long been in the works and could be made official this week.

The film goes out in the fourth quarter through various distributors in European territories including the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, plus Australia and New Zealand.

Cool, it just means were going to get it here in the states soon judging by Sony's past scheduling. Here's the international trailer, but I hope we get a theatrical version soon.

Christopher McQuarrie Writing Wolverine 2?

Christopher McQuarrie has signed on to write the script for Fox's sequel to its "Wolverine" movie.

McQuarrie is not unfamiliar with the character. The scribe, who won an Oscar for writing "The Usual Suspects" for Bryan Singer, reteamed with the director to write 2000's "X-Men."

Though McQuarrie could have received a credit, he voluntarily took his name off the movie when the final version was more in line with David Hayter's script than his.

Hugh Jackman is set to return as the Marvel Comics character, a mutant with healing powers and a skeleton laced with the indestructible metal known as adamantium. Jackman is also producing via his Fox-based Seed shingle along with Lauren Shuler Donner.

The movie's story line will take its cue from the early 1980s Chris Claremont/Frank Miller miniseries, which is set in Japan and features Wolverine dealing with ninjas as he struggles whether to follow his animal killer instincts or the life under a samurai's code of honor and respect.

The studio put a sequel in development after the movie, titled "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," carved up almost $180 million at the domestic box office and $363 million worldwide.

This gives the movie alot more hope than I was initially expecting. Christopher McQuarrie is a pretty good writer and I'm sure he will do wonderful things with the Wolverine sequel. Now if the movie can only get an experienced action film director.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ed Helms Set To Star In Central Intelligence

Universal Pictures has acquired the spec script "Central Intelligence" as a star vehicle for Ed Helms. Project becomes the second Helms comedy to take root this summer on the heels of "The Hangover."

Ike Barinholtz and Dave Stassen's script revolves around an accountant who's thrown into the world of international espionage after reconnecting with an old friend through Facebook.

Principato/Young's Peter Principato and Paul Young are producing. Matt Berenson and Allen Fischer are exec producers. Joel Zadak will be co-producer.

Sound un-original, but I think Helms is a funnyman so I'm sure hes more than capable of pulling this off. Hopefully its not in the same vein as Get Smart.

Warner Bros. Thinking Of A Lego Movie?

Warner Bros. is toying with plans to develop a movie around Lego and its popular building blocks.

Scribes Dan and Kevin Hageman are penning the script for the family comedy that will mix live action and animation. Warners is keeping the plot tightly under wraps, but it's described as an action adventure set in a Lego world.

Dan Lin, who is shepherding Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes" and exec produced the studio's upcoming family film "Shorts," will produce the movie through his Lin Pictures.

Roy Lee will produce through his Vertigo banner, while Jill Wilfert, VP of licensing and entertainment at Lego, will oversee the pic for the toymaker.

This is by far the dumbest idea I have heard in sometime now. Hollywood has sure run out of ideas and is looking into toys for film adaptations. How in the blue hell are you going to make a movie about Lego? I mean I'm still trying to wrap my brains around the idea of Ridley Scott doing a Monopoly movie.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Astro Boy Trailer Debuts

MSN has debuted the trailer for Astro Boy, coming to theaters on October 23rd. Directed by David Bowers, the big screen adaptation features the voices of Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Bill Nighy, Eugene Levy, Matt Lucus and Donald Sutherland.

Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Tenma (Nicolas Cage). Powered by positive "blue" energy, Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy encounters many other colorful characters along the way. Through his adventures, he learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it takes to be a hero.

Looks kinda cool for a kids movie. The animation looks superb and almost Pixar status. I doubt I will see this in theaters, but it might be cool to rent it for its picture quality once it hits Blu Ray.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Michael Jackson's This Is It Coming Oct. 30th!

Beginning October 30th, the world will have a front-row seat for Michael Jackson's final concert, as Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment release Michael Jackson's This Is It.

This Is It is being produced with the full support of The Estate of Michael Jackson and will be drawn from hundreds of hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage, captured in high definition with state-of-the-art digital sound as the late singer was preparing for his concert series in London. The film, which will also offer select sequences in 3-D, will provide a unique career retrospective and feature interviews with some of Jackson's closest friends and creative collaborators.

The rights to the exclusive footage were acquired from AEG Live and The Estate of Michael Jackson. Sony Pictures and Sony Music will co-produce with AEG Live and the Estate, and Sony Pictures will distribute the film worldwide. Randy Phillips and Paul Gongaware of AEG Live will serve as producers of the film.

The majority of the film's footage was shot in June, 2009 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California and The Forum in Inglewood, California, as Jackson prepared for "This Is It," the series of fifty concerts Jackson planned to present at the O2 Arena in London.

This Is It will offer Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer, his career, and the stage spectacular that would have been. The film will provide moviegoers with an unforgettable front row experience compiled from extensive footage that shows Jackson's meticulous preparation for his 2009 London shows.

I'm pretty happy about this and its something people have been wanting to see ever since it was first discovered. I know it may sound like a sleazy cash in for some, but I think this is smart on Sony's behalf to release it this year when where still talking about Michael Jackson (Though, I'm sure people will be talking about the music legend for many years to come).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Trailer For Universal's Cirque Du Freak Movie

Universal Pictures has revealed the trailer for Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, directed by Paul Weitz and opening October 23rd. The fantasy-adventure stars John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia, Patrick Fugit, Ray Stevenson, Michael Cerveris, Frankie Faison, Jane Krakowski, Orlando Jones, Kristen Schaal and Salma Hayek.

14-year-old Darren (Chris Kelly) was like most kids in his suburban neighborhood. He hung out with his best friend, got decent grades and usually stayed out of trouble. But when he and his buddy stumble upon a traveling freak show, things begin to change inside Darren. That's the exact moment when a vampire named Larten Crepsley (John C. Reilly) turns him into something, well, bloodthirsty.

Newly undead, he joins the Cirque Du Freak, a touring sideshow filled with monstrous creatures from a snakeboy and a wolfman to a bearded lady (Salma Hayek) and a gigantic barker (Ken Watanabe). As Darren flexes his newfound powers in this dark world, he becomes a treasured pawn between the vampires and their deadlier counterparts. And while trying to survive, one boy will struggle to keep their brewing war from devouring what's left of his humanity.

I haven't read the fantastic novels the film is based on, but that trailer looked really fun. Not to mention that its being directed by Paul Weitz, which is always a plus in my book. I know some people are probably going to argue that John C. Reilly is miscasted, but Id wait for the movie before passing judgment. Hes a good actor and I'm sure he will do fine in this role.

REVIEW: Funny People

Funny People

Year: 2009
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

After Knocked Up, director Judd Apatow had the desire to base his next film on his early experiences as a struggling comedian. Having the success of both The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Universal stepped in to distribute and market the film. Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, and Leslie Mann were cast as the three leads in March of 2008. Apatow had Sandler, Rogen, and Jonah Hill, who all play stand-ups in the film, write their own material for routines. Apatow filmed them performing their routines in front of live audiences, using six cameras to capture their performances and audience reactions.

Plot Outline:
George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a very successful yet self-involved stand-up comedian who learns that he has an incurable blood disorder and is given less than a year to live. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is a struggling up-and-coming stand-up comedian who works at a deli and has yet to figure out his onstage persona. One thing these different men have in common is that neither of them have any close friends. One night, George takes notice of Ira when they perform at the same club and he hires him to be his semi-personal assistant and opening act at his performances. George and Ira form a close bond as George teaches Ira how to win the crowd and Ira helps the dying George find closure in his legacy.

With Funny People, director Judd Apatow went for a more serious and mature film compared to his previous work. The story is more emotional and nicely refreshing. Its not particularly an original idea, but its still very good. I just love the fact that Apatow always aims for those realistic and human-like story lines that blends funny jokes with an emotional plot. It just makes for a film that many people can relate to and know about it. Even if its different than what we normally expect from him, its still a welcome change that really tests his ability as a writer and a director. The film still contains what has become the Apatow trademark of raunchy jokes, which are still very funny. The film ain't as funny as Knocked Up or Superbad, but it doesn't seem like its trying to be. It definitely feels like a darker comedy than the ones he has produced over past. While I personally enjoyed this film very much, I found its run time to be somewhat of a big issue. A comedy film is usually best when its kept short. Its very hard for a comedy flick to sustain that exciting and entertaining value for more than 2 hours especially when the film is more drama than comedy. That's essentially the case with Funny People. The films run time is well over 2 and a half hour with many of the scenes in the second half just dragging on. It almost feels like the second half is a completely different movie. Theirs also several scenes that feel like they could have been trimmed or shortened.

Adam Sandler plays the lead character in the movie, George Simmons. I appreciate some of the serious roles he has taken in the past such as Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me. Hes a good actor when hes with the right director and Funny People proves this once again. His performance in the film is easily the best performance I have ever seen from him. He exhibits a wide range of emotions that works very well for the type of character he plays. Seth Rogen plays as George Simmon's only true friend, Ira Wright. Rogen is always a blast to see on screen because hes always pretty funny. He makes for a good partner next to Sandler's character. I'm sure the audience will tend to favor him more simply because hes more relate-able and always seems to be answering the questions the audience might be wondering. Leslie Mann plays as George's true love that got away, Laura. Now, I usually tend to like Leslie especially when shes in Apatow's films, but I thought she was awkwardly casted for this film. Her performance seems very limited and doesn't seem to have enough material to truly show her skills. We also have the talented Eric Bana playing as Laura's husband, Clarke. Bana gives a pretty good performance as the husband and hes pretty enjoyable to see on screen.

The visual look of Funny People is pretty good, but I was really surprised with the films cinematography. It was done by none other than 2 time Oscar winner Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan). Its far from his best, but its surprisingly good especially for a drama/comedy film. The films transfer seems to be in good shape, but their is a hint of film grain present through out the films run time. Its much more noticeable in the beginning since its basically showing old stock footage of Adam Sandler doing prank calls. The grain is hardly distracting and I personally found it to give the film a more realistic feel. Colors were nicely done and not too obtrusive. It wasn't necessarily vibrant, but it definitely felt like it had a good amount of color in the image. Black levels are strong, but not too strong. The image never seems to suffer from digital noise or lose any detail during the darker scenes. Flesh tones seem to be on spot and you can clearly tell who's who. Detail is generally good, but just like Apatow's previous film, Knocked Up, I came across a few scenes that seemed slightly softer than the rest. Still, close up shots show a good amount of detail and this is a pretty good looking movie, especially when you consider that its a comedy with no high tech special effects.

The films soundtrack is pretty good, but definitely not up to par with Knocked Up. The films music is composed by Michael Andrews and Jason Schwartzman. Since Apatow went for a more serious route, the film hardly uses much music. What we get is pretty good and feels natural for a film like this. I do however miss the good soundtrack that Knocked Up possessed. Funny People also isn't going to win anyone over with its bass. For a drama/comedy flick like this, theirs hardly any heavy use of bass. It isn't dynamic and feels like its more center forward than spread out. What we have isn't bad, but I guess we shouldn't have expected much considering its usually the action films that deliver in this department.

Funny People is a big and bold step for director Judd Apatow. I think hes becoming more skillful in keeping us connected to his characters while throwing very relate-able stories with it. I enjoyed the story and really liked the characters. I thought the films run time was exceedingly long and their were definitely some scenes that could have been trimmed or simply left out. I thought the cast was pretty great for the most part with Sandler giving in my opinion, the best performance he has ever given. The films visual look was in the vein of similar Apatow produced comedies and it looked pretty good for a film like this. I thought the soundtrack was alright, but definitely weaker than the ones on his previous films. I cant say I loved this film like I did with Knocked Up, but its still a very good film. Its got an emotional story with relate-able characters that you will love and hate. I appreciate that Apatow decided to try something new and go in a different step than his previous work. I'm already excited about whatever he has cooking next.

Grade: B

Little Red Riding Hood Gets Gothic Twist

Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way banner is developing a Gothic reimagining of "Little Red Riding Hood" with screenwriter David Leslie Johnson.

The "Red Riding Hood" project's been developed internally at Appian Way but isn't being positioned as a possible acting vehicle for DiCaprio.

The best-known version of the story -- in which a wolf disguises himself to fool a girl delivering food to her sick grandmother in the forest -- was published in the 19th century by the Brothers Grimm. Earlier oral versions of the tale, which date back to the Middle Ages, are far darker and sometimes involve a werewolf rather than a wolf; the first published version, by Charles Perrault, concludes with Red Riding Hood eaten by the wolf, with no happy ending.

I'm very interested in this since I like the story of Little Red Riding Hood. I always wanted to see a darker version of it since what we always got was a kids friendly version. If they want this film to be a good hit at the box office than they would have to cast a well known actress as Little Red Riding Hood. I'm not sure who would fit the part right, but I wouldn't mind seeing Ellen Page take on the role.

Larry Fessenden Helming The Orphanage Remake

Actor-producer-director Larry Fessenden has signed on to helm "The Orphanage," New Line's remake of the Guillermo del Toro-produced Spanish-language horror movie.

Fessenden also has written the script with del Toro, who is producing the new film with Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson of Contrafilm.

The 2007 pic was directed by del Toro protege Juan Antonio Bayona and centered on a woman who, upon returning to the orphanage where she grew up, discovers that her son's imaginary friend is the same person who terrorized her when she was a child.

Del Toro and Fessenden know each other from the horror circuit, with del Toro's admiration of the triple-hyphenate's work leading him to handpick him for the directing gig; del Toro saw in him a filmmaker who understood the conventions of the horror genre and could execute a movie that would be as scary and disturbing as the original but in an American context.

I personally haven't seen The Orphanage (El orfanato), but I know some people who have and they simply loved it. I'm sure alot of people are pissed that they are remaking this for American audiences, especially considering the original came out in 2007. I honestly don't think this is that bad of a news. I mean they still have del Toro on board and hes basically over looking the project. Now if people know del Toro than they would know that hes not an idiot and he would not sign on to help produce this movie if he didn't believe it could be as good if not better than the original. I'm not sure if the director is particularly the right choice since I've never heard of him, but if del Toro believes in him than theirs nothing to worry about.

Trailer for Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones!

DreamWorks Pictures has now released the trailer for Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, opening in theaters on December 11.

Based on the critically acclaimed best-selling novel by Alice Sebold, the film centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from heaven. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal. Oscar® nominee Mark Wahlberg and Oscar® winners Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon star along with Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli and Oscar® nominee Saoirse Ronan.

Looks fucking amazing and also looks like another hit from director Peter Jackson. I'm a huge Jackson fan and simply admire all of his films. You can bet your ass, Ill be their day one when this film opens.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sam Worthington To Replace Tom Cruise In The Tourist?

Sam Worthington is in talks to join Charlize Theron in "The Tourist," the Spyglass remake of the 2005 French thriller "Anthony Zimmer" that will be directed by Bharat Nalluri.

Theron became attached last fall to play a female Interpol agent who uses an American tourist in an attempt to flush out an elusive criminal who was once her lover. Worthington came into the loop after Tom Cruise dropped out.

Cruise's consideration definitely stalled the momentum of "The Tourist," which Spyglass originally had hoped to put into production last March. Theron's presence kept it viable, though, and it is back on the fast track with Worthington.

"The Tourist" was scripted by Julian Fellowes, rewritten by Chris McQuarrie (who worked closely with notes from Cruise) and Jeff Nachmanoff did the latest revision, based on McQuarrie's rewrite.

While Spyglass has to lock down its deals before aligning with one of the studios with which is has output deals, production is slated to begin in early 2010.

"The Tourist" is being produced by Spyglass in partnership with Studio Canal. Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum and Jonathan Glickman are producing.

Seeing as how I haven't seen Worthington's last movie, Terminator Salvation, I'm not sure what to expect from him. I was hoping that Cruise stayed on board, but I guess hes busy with other projects.