If the news had come from Mark Millar’s mouth, I wouldn’t have believed it. After all, this is that same man that stated back in 2008 that he was in line to reboot the Superman film franchise, a bold statement that never came to pass. So him saying that some studio hired him to act as a consultant on their comic book franchises, it would be easy to write off.
Only, this time it’s not Millar saying it, it’s the studio itself. 20th Century Foxannounced today that it has hired Millar to act as a “creative consultant” on movies from their studio based on Marvel Comics books. The studio is currently developing the writer’s Nemesis miniseries into a feature film.
Fox currently still owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties, two franchises Millar has written stories featuring for Marvel’s Ultimate Comics imprint. Millar’s friend, director Matthew Vaughn, is currently working on X-Men: Days of Future Past for the studio.
It is not known exactly what Millar will be consulting on. The obvious project would be the Fantastic Four reboot, but rumors are that FOX was so high on Josh Trank’s take on it that they were willing let Daredevil slip back to Marvel rather than let Marvel get their hands on any FF characters. The X-Men franchises seem to be fairly self-sufficient by this point, with the satellite Wolverine and First Class franchises chugging along and Bryan Singer supposedly willing to return to the main franchise. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consulting work to be done, unless Millar is going to be charged with getting more mutant franchises such as Deadpool up and running. Or maybe he’s just going to be a highly paid information desk, a resource the directors to use. It remains to be seen.
1. Larry Crowne (Universal, 2,972 Theaters, 99 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, my question is, why is a summer film starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts getting so little promotion. I have seen maybe two ads for this on TV. Granted, a lot of that might have to do with my TV watching habits, but still…
I did not even know that Tom Hanks directed and co-wrote the film (co-writing it with Nia Vardalos, most famous from writing & starring in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a film Hanks co-produced with his wife Rita Wilson). Maybe that’s why the film is keep such a low profile–Hanks doesn’t want to come off like a complete egotist.
Regardless, it tells the story of a middle aged man (Hanks) who returns to college after losing his job. While there, he develops a crush on his teacher (Roberts).
I loved Hanks last writer/dirctor/star turn, 1996′s That Thing You Do!, and I like both Roberts and Hanks as actors. So this should be right up my alley.
2. Monte Carlo (Fox, 2,472 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated PG): If I heard little about Larry Crowne, I’ve heard even less about this one. Not that I’m complaining, because this film seem awful.
The film appears to be a gender-switching updating of “The Prince and the Pauper” starring Selena Gomez as an American whose boring Paris vacation (Flaw #1 of the film, because if you are bored by Paris, you’re doing something wrong.) gets more exciting when she is mistaken for a look-a-like member of British royalty. I’m sure a romance
This appears to be a way for Gomez to reach a older audience while still keeping her tween fanbase along for the ride. I’m saying this not just because of the creepy, if poorly photoshopped, upskirt poster to the left, but also because her film BFF’s (or at least the actresses who play them) are six years older than her.
1. Green Lantern (Warner Brothers, 3,816 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Once upon a time, DC Comics held a monopoly on the comic book movie. Between the Superman and Batman franchises, DC was being well represented on the silver screen. Marvel was relegated to the B-move and direct-to-video market.
But those franchises became cases of diminishing returns as the filmmakers strayed away from what made the originals a success and move towards Richard Pryor as co-stars and nipples on Bat-suits. Marvel took a more active role in the production of their films, and we get resounding successes such as X-Men, Spider-Man and Iron Man. DC was forced to play catch up.
They took a step in the right direction when rebooting the Bat franchise with Batman Begins. It followed the same pattern as the Marvel films–stay true to the comic book roots while molding it into an exciting film. Things looked positive.
Then Jonah Hex came out, and it showed the same kind of studio think that caused the Superman and Batman franchises to fail. The filmmakers had no idea what made the comic book character so good, and they fiddled with it until the film was just horrible.
This brings us to Green Lantern. I always thought that this would be a comic character that, if done right, could establish DC as a powerhouse in the comic movie genre. The concept is equal parts Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Top Gun. It would be hard to screw up.
I reviewed the script and found it had the potential to be a quality film. Then I saw the jokey first round of ads for the film and felt a knot in my stomach. Jokes were added that weren’t in the script, and when the studio ads humor to a DC movie, it kills it.
The next round of ads seemed to be more on track with what I originally expected, so I started feeling good about it. Then I saw that the film is rated 22% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and I felt discouraged again.
I don’t know what to expect. But I know DC is pinning their hopes on this film to jump start a Marvel-like dominance of the movie theaters (a sequel is already in the works). But if they drop the ball, it could doom any DC film not being overseen by Christopher Nolan from ever getting made. And if they screw this film up, that would be for the best.
2. Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Fox, 3,338 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG): Having any attempt at doing dramatic work met with lukewarm response, Jim Carrey is in an interesting stage of his career as a film comedian. He has grown out of being the “Village Idiot” type of roles he played in Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber. He has grown out of the immature man-child roles he played in Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. Now he is consigned to the role of the neglectful father who only realizes the value of family after being reminded of it as his life undergoes an unorthodox upheaval.
That unorthodox upheaval comes in the form of six penguins sent to him by his father. They force him to not pay so much attention to work, which allows his family to enter into his life.
Formulaic family entertainment to be sure, but, depending on what your tolerance for Carrey’s earlier work is, it might come as an improvement.
1. I Am Number Four (Disney, 3,154 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, this has the look of a comic book movie without a comic book attached to it. At least none that I know of. The premise doesn’t seem familiar to me from my extensive comic book experience.
It involves a teenage boy who has great superpowers. He has to spend his life hidden from view, moving from town to town, because there are evil people out to kill him. However, at his latest stop, he finds love. Love complicates everything, especially a run for your life. Will this now be the place where he makes his stand now that he has something worth fighting for?
Well, that’s the plot. And one of the girls from Glee is in it, so that might bring people in. But who knows if that will be enough. This film has some pretty stiff competition this week. We’ll have to see if I Am Number Four becomes I Am Number One at the Box Office.
2. Unknown (Warner Brothers, 3,000+ Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Is it just me, or does this film remind you of Liam Neeson’s 2008 film Taken? In both films, Neeson plays a earnest and driven man who traipses through Europe, hellbent on getting back something that was taken from him.
Of course, in the former, it was his daughter. In this one, it is his identity. This takes away some of the dramatic punch but adds more mystery and conspiracy to the mix.
The story goes that Neeson’s character has the perfect live, gets in a ar accident and then slips into a coma. When he awakens, he finds out someone else has taken his place. He then must fight to get his name back.
3. Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (FOX, 2,821 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated PG-13): And then we have this one.
If you asked me back in 2000 if Big Momma’s House would become a cinematic trilogy, I would have said, “Good lord, I hope not.” But here we are, with a third film. Yikes.
This one follows a logical progression as now instead of Martin Lawrence’s character being the only one in drag (and for some reason a fat suit), now he must dress up his stepson (Brandon T. Jackson) in order to protect him after the boy witnesses a murder. They hide out in an all-girl art school. I’m sure they’ll find a way to work a locker room scene under the PG-13 radar.
Here’s a scary thought. These films could quite possibly go on until the end of time. You could have more men dressing up as women, maybe a woman dressing up as a man, more girl’s only locations to hide out in.
1. Tangled (Disney, 3,603 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): Ah, Thanksgiving! The time of year where we reunite with our families, immediately get sick of them and then go out and see a movie. Four are opening today, and they cover just about every member of the family.
There is a lot about this one that makes me skittish. First, it’s a non-Pixar CGI Disney film, which is always a dicey proposition. And while it is what Disney usually does best, a fairy tale adaptation (in this case, it’s Rapunzel), they are giving it a quirky, wacky comedic twist on it. And while the original story was aimed more at girls, the film seems aimed more at boys. There might be a little bait and switch going on there.
That being said, it still looks good enough for the young (and young at heart) to go see. I laughed out loud once or twice during some of the ads, so, that’s a plus.
2. Burlesque (Sony/ Screen Gems, 3,037 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Hey, moms! If you can trust your kids to go into Tangled by themselves, and you go to a showing of this film going up at the same time, you’ll leave the theater the same time they do.
But, would you really want to see it? On one hand, it looks like Oscar bait. Well, it looks like Chicago, but that film did win an Oscar. And it has an intriguing cast–Christina Aguilera making her film debut, Cher making her return to film, solid supporting actors like Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Kristen Bell and Dianna Argon.
But the plot is so old that it can remember a time before we had Social Security, televisions in every home and a second World War. A small town girl comes to the big city in hopes of becoming a star. She gets a job at a theater that is down on its luck and barely hanging on. Through pluck and determination, the farm girl gets to perform at the theater and, gosh darn it, isn’t she a hit! But does she have what it takes to save the theater! Ooh, I hope so!
3.Love And Other Drugs (FOX, 2,455 Theaters, 113 Minutes, Rated R): Here’s another one where I laughed out loud at the ads and yet have reservations about the actual film.
Whenever a film, especially a romance, is listed as a comedy and a drama, it usually never is really good at either or both at the same time. And this films is listed as a comedy and a drama.
Brokeback Mountain co-stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal reunite in this film. Hathaway plays a free spirit that will never be tamed. Gyllenhaal plays charming rogue who is more than a match for her. They’re in love, but will it last?
Sounds good if it was just a romantic comedy. But since drug abuse plays a role in the film, and Gyllenhaal plays a pharmaceutical rep, I can imagine where the drama comes in. And that’s a bit off putting.
4. Faster (CBS Films, 2,454 Theaters, 98 Minutes, Rated R): And then there’s this one. No fairy tale romances, no singing, no dramedy, just somebody killing a ;lot of people as fast as he can, the way the best revenge flicks work out.
Dwayne Johnson leaves the world of the kiddie flicks behind to return to the action genre he started out in. He plays an escaped ex-con who is tracking down the people responsible for killing his brother. He, in turn, is tracked down by a pair of cops and a pair of assassins.
See? That’s pretty much all you need for an action/revenge film. This one might not get great reviews from critics, heck, it might not be good at all, but it’s bound to be entertaining.
Tangled might have a chance in the already crowded Best Animated film category.
Burlesque does seem like Oscar bait, but is it really? Cher already has an award but could get a nod no matter how hackneyed the plot is.
Love and Other Drugs might seem like a long shot for any kind of nomination, but it is directed by Edward Zwick. Zwick has an Oscar as a producer for Shakespeare in Love), but as a director, he is good at getting his actors nods/awards (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Wantenabe, Denzel Washington). Hathaway and Gyllenhaal both have nominations in the past. So them getting acting nods is not entirely unheard of.
It’s pretty safe to say the chances of Faster getting any Oscar nominations are pretty slim. Well, outside of the technical awards, that is.
A film in limited release that could get some attention from the Academy is The King’s Speech (Opening Friday, 4 Theaters, The Weinstein Company, 118 Minutes, Rated R). It’s based on a true story (of the man who helped England’s King George the IV ascend to the throne), it’s the story of a man overcoming an affliction (granted, it’s stuttering, but still), it’s leads have had nods in the past and one victory to their credit (Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush), and it’s British.
1. Going The Distance (Warner Brothers, 3,030 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): As someone who has gone through a long distance relationship, I can tell you there is humor and interesting moments. My distance was a little shorter than the Chicago to Los Angeles trip this film’s characters have to span, but even in the trailer, I can see some mirror to my own life.
That being said, is there enough to build a movie around. Granted, in the romantic comedy genre, there is a desperation for something fresh and new that audiences could quite possibly give anything the benefit of the doubt. But the concept, or at least how the film seems to execute it, appears to be lacking in romance and comedy.
Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are charming actors, although I can do without their “real life relationship” being mentioned in every article about the film. Maybe they can make the material better than it appears.
2. Machete (Fox, 2,670 Theaters, 105 Minutes, Rated R): I love the fact that this film got made. I don’t know if the fake Machete trailer that appeared during the combined Grindhouse showings was my favorite, but it was high up there.
Apparently, it was popular with a lot of other people as well because they sewed a complete film around the edges of the trailer. Danny Trejo play an ex-Federale who might be in the U.S. illegally who decides to get vengeance on corrupt politicians who set him up.
The cast is fantastic. You have Trejo in the lead, which is a good thing. You have A-listers like Robert DeNiro and Jessica Alba with roles, you have reclamation projects such as Lindsay Lohan, Steven Seagal and Don Johnson, and you have true B-movie actors like Jeff Fahey. Not your typical Grindhouse cast, but exciting to watch.
Although, while I loved loved loved Grindhouse, audiences stayed away, scared by the “cinema verite” approach the directors took (missing reels, grainy footage, etc). It appears that those stylistic choices are gone here, and all we have it pure Mexploitation, but will moviegoers be wary?
1. Salt (Sony/Columbia, 3,612 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): The one fact I know about this film is that Tom Cruise passed on it to make Knight & Day, thinking this role was too close to his Ethan Hunt role from the Mission Impossible movies. This raises many questions. Does this mean that the only person worthy or replacing Tom Cruise is Angelina Jolie? Is Tom Cruise so easily replaceable that anybody can replace him? And if chose Knight & Day over this one, how badly must this one suck?
The plot involves a C.I.A. agent framed and accused of being a Russian spy. She goes on the run to try and clear her name. Stunts and a lot of near misses ensue.
In other words, a plot that you’ve seen a thousand times before.
2.Ramona And Beezus (Fox, 2,719 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated G):When I mentioned this film to wife, she oohed and aahed. The books of Beverly Cleary were obviously a very important part of her childhood, as can be assumed they were with many other people’s childhood.
Of course, my wife is several times the age of the target audience for this film ( I won’t say exactly how many times older–I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight). But if our daughter was only a decade older, says the wife, she would have taken her to see this film.
I don’t know how prevalent this attitude is, or how many kids love the Beverly Cleary books like my wife does, but if this is a popular sentiment, Angelina might be in for a spot of trouble.
1.Despicable Me (Universal, 3, 474 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated PG): For the longest time, I had no idea what this film was about. Every poster I saw had those minion things on it and I couldn’t understand what they had to do with the film. Did the film chronicle their lives in some strange otherworldy place? Was it a film about sentient bacteria?
Well, it turns out that they are minions of an evil scientist who has fallen on hard times. He has been dealing with stiff competition from a rival evil scientist and has lost his standing in the evil scientist community. But he has a plan to gain back his swagger–to steal the moon! Only one hitch. A trio of adorable orphans enter his life and teach him that there are more important things than stealing the moon. Like being a good dad.
This is done by Universal’s CGI animation department, so it is not a sure bet like Pixar or Dreamworks. Steve Carell is great in everything he does, so his lending his voice to the film can’t be anything but a good thing. This is the film I’ll probably see in my rare day out. But I am holding out judgement.
Although, I have to say, I am a little more encouraged after reading FBOL’s John Gibbon’s review of the film. If you want the opinion of the person who actually saw this film, please click here!
2. Predators (Fox, 2, 669 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated R): I’m am unabashedly a fan of the first Predator. I love the way it turned from an action movie to a Ten Little Indians-like thriller. I would have to say it ranks with Commando and Terminator as some of Arnold’s best work.
The sequel? Well, not so much. I only saw Predator 2 once, and I found it kind of boring. Moving the monster to the concrete jungle instead of the leaf and mud jungle was a mistake, and seemed to take the suspense out of the story idea.
So, when I heard this film would erase that film and replace it as the next-in-line sequel to Predator, I was very happy. And when I heard that Robert Rodriguez was involved and the premise behind it, I was even more stoked.
The plot is that a group of the most feared hunters Earth has to offer–a Yakuza assassin, a mercenary, a serial killer and others–are kidnapped and taken to the Predator homeworld to be hunted themselves.
It’s a premise that put an interesting spin on the plot of the original while adding something new. Hopefully, the end result can match the potential.
1. The Karate Kid (Sony/Columbia, 3,663 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated PG): This week has gotten a lot of chatter because it features two iconic 1980s properties remade for the new millennium. But while some might think this is a cute coincidence, I fear this might only be a harbinger of things to come. This could be the first sign that the studios will be coordinating their remakes so they all fit into theme weekends. And they’ll be able to do that because there will be so many remakes to choose from.
Anyway, this first film is a remake of the classic first Karate Kid film. And, as a fan of the original, I have to say I’m not really all that excited about this one. First off, and this is a minor thing, Jackie Chan says he’s going to teach Jaden Smith Kung Fu in the trailer. Kung Fu is not Karate. They are two different styles of martial arts. It is a small thing, yes, but enough to really annoy me.
Second, Jaden Smith really seems to be forced on me. I feel I am expected to like him because he is the son, and essentially a small version, of Will Smith. Both have the cocky smart-ass attitude, but Will’s is charming because he had decades to build it up. Jaden’s seems kind of obnoxious, to me at least. But I always feel snarky banter fits adults better than children.
Third, this film appears to be a shot-for-shot remake of the original. Sure, the location is now China instead of California and it’s “Jacket on/jacket off” instead of “wax on/wax off,” but all the themes, elements and scenes seem to be exactly duplicated. Instead of seeing a slavish, shot-for-shot remake of the Karate Kid, why wouldn’t I just watch the original instead?
2. The A-Team (Fox, 3,534 Theaters, 117 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Of the two remakes this week, the one I was a bigger fan of the original was The A-Team. It essentially was a live action cartoon, which is probably why the 11-year-old me liked it.
But it was also a vehicle for Mr. T. And as charming as Rampage Jackson might be on the MMA circuit, he’s no Mr. T. However, when you have Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson in your cast, you can count on them to pick up the slack.
While the Karate Kid remake appears to be too slavishly tied to the original, this one seem to be trying to make a break from its inspiration. The trademark black van makes an appearance, only to be destroyed if the trailer is any indication. B.A. still doesn’t like to fly, but it’s not as much of an issue as it was in the series. And Face, instead of being a supporting member of the team, seems to be more of the focus.
Although, that being said, I have to say I am interested to see what they have done. It seems to be as campy as the original, but with the action amped up to unblievable levels. I mean, you have to admire a film that shows the team battling fighter jets in a tank that was tossed out of an airplane. That is sick stuff right there.
1. Marmaduke (Fox, 3,213 Theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated PG): Okay, I am not what you call a fan of the Marmaduke comic strip. The only enjoyment I get from it is reading Josh over at Comics Curmudgeon compare the dog to a flesh-eating, demon beast.
But I have read the strip and I can say in no uncertain terms that Marmaduke does not talk. DOES NOT TALK!!!
I know that with the success of Garfield and Alvin and the Chipmunks, the market for talking cartoon animals is through the roof. But why go and adapt a comic strip, no matter how lame it is, to the big screen if you are going to change the basic elements of it to make it fit. This film didn’t need to be based on Marmaduke. It could have been a truly original concept about a really big talking dog. Because whatever good will and audience the film will get will be shot once Owen Wilson’s voice comes out of the dog’s mouth.
Besides that, it looks completely awful.
2. Killers (Lionsgate, 2,859 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Katherine Heigl seems to be channeling her inner Goldie Hawn for this flick, being part ditz/part savvy. This is not a bad thing and makes me more responsive to this film that any of her previous efforts.
Another selling point is Ashton Kutcher, who has dial back the pompous assness he usually bring with him to any film he does.
The plot involves a woman who is swept off her feet by the man of her dreams, only to find out that he is a spy and has a hit out on him. Instead of going on their honeymoon, they go on the run.
I think this has the potential to be a slice above the normal romantic/action comedy. But , then again, with the track record of the people involved, that isn’t a given.
3.Get Him To The Greek (Universal, 2,696 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): This film is the ipso facto sequel to 2008′s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Why ipso facto? Because this film has made a few major changes.
Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow was in both movies, but in the former, he was a spacey, self-centered, narcassistic twit, and in this one, he is a drug-addled, flighty, childlike twit. There might not seem to be that much difference between the two, but it is telling when you see it in action.
At least Brand is playing the same character. In the first movie, Hill played a creepy, obsessive fan by the name of Matthew the Waiter. In this film, he is still a fan of Snow’s, but is a record executive by the name of Aaron Green.
I don’t know why they felt the need to change the characters around so much. There was potential for a caper film with the characters from the first movie staying just the way they are. Well, anyway.
Look for a possible cameo by FBOL head honco Rich Drees during one of the concert scenes. If you see someone who looks like an emaciated Bruce Campbell, that is probably him.
4. Splice (Warner Brothers, 2,450 Theaters, 104 Minutes, Rated R): The “Scientists thumbing their nose s at science only to have sciene thumb it back at them hard” scenario has been a horror convention for as long as there has been horror. So powerful is the plot that is still alive today.
Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley play scientist forbidden from practicing their brand of science–cloning people. The pair decide to scoff at the law and combine human and animal DNA to create a new lifeform. Said lifeform grows up into a mythological-like creature who has major issues with its parents. Chaos and destruction ensues.
This film seems to have all the elements that makes this kind of story a winner. Unfortunately, it’s coming out on a very busy weekend. And how could anything in this film ever match the horror that is Marmaduke?