Man is it hard to not get excited about Pacific Rim. From it’s simple “Giant robots versus giant monsters” plot description to much of the footage that has already been released, there’s really nothing that has made me think that director Guillermo Del Toro is not going to deliver on the promise of a crazy, old-school giant monster movie. And the footage screened at WonderCon this past weekend does nothing but reinforce that impression.
This clip gives us some more giant robots, more giant monsters and some voice over from star Charlie Hunnam as to why they are beating the hell out of each other.
Perhaps the most interesting of the projects that director Guillermo Del Toro is in the process of developing is the one that will see several of DC Comics supernatural superheroes teaming up to stop a world-threatening menace. Called by some fans Justice League Dark after a similarly-themed series that DC is currently publishing, it’s original working title of Heaven Sent has been changed to Dark Universe and it is possible that the film is an adaptation of writer Alan Moore’s “American Gothic” storyline which ran from Swamp Thing #37 to 50.
At a panel at Anaheim’s WonderCon Saturday, where Del Toro was primarily promoting his film Pacific Rim which opens this summer, discussion turned to the project and the director let loose with a few tidbits of information about the project -
Del Toro stated that a bible for the film had been written and that there is a screenwriter attached to the project that he hopes to be able to name soon. He did divulge that the film’s through-line would originate with Jason Blood’s history with Merlin and the Knights of King Arthur and how that resonates to create a threat in the present day.
Unlike when the character was played by the dark-haired Keanu Reeves in 2005′s Constantine, Del Toro promised that in his film the character of con man/mage John Constantine would be blonde as he is in the comics.
While he declined to get into too many specifics, Del Toro stated that the film would feature Constantine recruiting the other supernatural heroes.
Among the heroes recruited by Constantine are Swamp Thing, the Demon, Deadman, the Spectre and Zatanna. The film will also deal with some of their origins over its course. “Swamp Thing is at peace with who he is but Deadman is still trying to find out who shot him.”
Del Toro also stressed that he wouldn’t be able to get to serious work on the film until at least after he finished his haunted house film Crimson Peak.
1. The Last Stand (Lionsgate, 2,913 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated R): Conan the Barbarian. Commando. Predator. Total Recall. Terminator. True Lies. Say what you want about him, Arnold Schwarzenegger has an impressive resume of quality action films to his credit. He also has a number of questionable choices in his later career as well, so it is with great interest to see what the former California governor chooses for his return to acting after the end of his political career.
What he chose, well, I guess we’ll have to see what category it falls in. He plays a small town sheriff in a California border town that is faced with a big challenge–he must stop a drug lord and his heavily armed cartel from making it to the Mexico border with only a inexperienced and short-handed staff.
On one hand, it could be the simple kind of plot that Arnold pulls off so well. On the other hand, it could be considered silly and implausible if not done well. The early reviews have been somewhat favorable. We’ll have to see if Arnold’s return to lead roles is a sign that he is back.
2. Mama (Universal, 2,647 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Two young girls are found in the woods, more feral than human, five years after being abandoned by their homicidal father. They are taken to their uncle and his girlfriend (played by a deliciously gothy Jessica Chastain) to begin the healing process. But the couple finds out that two young children do not survive in the wilderness alone, and their protector is none too happy that they were taken away. What happens when the protector comes to take the children back?
The film both has a lot going for it (it was produced by Guillermo del Toro, stars the twice Oscar-nominated Chastain in the lead role, and the director of the Argentinian short film it was based on, Andres Muschietti, is back to direct the full-length ) but also has a lot going against it (the plot stretches credibility for even a horror film, the film was supposed to open in the more horror friendly October but instead was pushed to the film wasteland that is January, and–personal preference here–it is a PG-13 horror film). It doesn’t seem like a slam dunk horror flick to me.
3. Broken City (Fox, 2,620 Theaters, 109 Minutes, Rated R): Now, a film featuring some of the greatest actors in film today–and Mark Wahlberg.
Okay, that might not be entirely fair. While Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones might have Oscars, Wahlberg does have a nomination. But his work here as seen in the ads for the film seem worthy of a SNL mocking (when he says in the trailer “Your husband set me up. And I’m going to destroy him for it,” my mind keeps adding “Say hello to your mother for me” at the end of it).
Wahlberg play an ex-NYC cop who is hired by the city’s mayor (Crowe) to find out who is sleeping with his wife (Zeta-Jones). What was a simple trail and surveillance operation gets far trickier when a dead body shows up. Wahlberg realizes that he was set up by the mayor, and decides to bring him down.
Guillermo del Toro is still working at putting the finishing touches on this summer’s Pacific Rim, but he is also starting to gear up for his next film, the haunted house thriller Crimson Peak. According to Variety, the director has cast Emma Stone in the film’s lead and that a deal between the two is being worked on right now.
Outside of del Toro describing the film as a “classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story” we don’t know anything about the story nor how Stone’s character will fit into it.
Normally I am a fan of her work, so it came as a bit of a shock that she appeared to be so out of her depth in last weekend’s Gangster Squad. Hopefully, Stone will be up for whatever del Toro has in mind for her to do in the film.
Godzilla wasn’t the only kaiju making news yesterday. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Veags, director Guillermo Del Toro was on hand to unveil an alternate cut of the recently released trailer for his upcoming giant robots-fighting-giant monsters flick Pacific Rim. While we don’t see too much more of the giant monsters that are being sent by aliens through a dimensional doorway at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to attack humanity, we do see some more of the giant, human-piloted robots that we created to drive the monsters back.
Check it out –
Pacific Rim stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman and opens on July 12.
Back in November, Guillermo Del Toro was one of many directors rumored to be connected to possibly directing the just announced Star Wars: Episode VII. Del Toro dismissed the rumors stating that he had not even been approached about the possibility by Lucasfilm.
That has changed, as Del Toro told The Playlist that he eventually did receive a call from Lucasfilm, but passed on the opportunity.
We got one phone call to my agent saying, ‘Is Guillermo interested?’ And basically I have so much stuff already of my own, and I’m pursuing stuff that I’m generating already.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Del Toro passed, however. The director currently is wrapping up work on next summer’s Pacific Rim and has a number of other projects in various stages of development, anyone of which he could tackle next. To move right into Star Wars would mean to postpone any of these more personal projects for at least two to three years, depending on whether he was going to direct just Episode VII or all of the planned new trilogy. Given the amount of time that Del Toro invested in developing The Hobbit with Peter Jackson with an eye towards directing before ultimately leaving in frustration over delays relating to MGM’s financial crisis, I am not surprised that he doesn’t seem interested in working on a project where he might be beholden to someone else.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we’ll talk about how Blade was the true start of Marvel’s dominance of the comic book film.
One way to look at it, he could be the answer to “What if Shaft hunted vampires?” Or it could have very well been a counterpoint to Blacula, which hit theaters the year before. You can make any theory you want, but it seems like Blade’s first appearance in 1973’s Tomb of Dracula #10 played off the popular Blaxploitation trend of the day. It is ironic that a character inspired by a film genre would be the adaptation that would jump-start Marvel’s mastery of the film box office.
The comic book Blade was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan to be an adversary of Dracula. He was the son of a woman who was attacked by a vampire while giving birth to Blade. This bite passed on certain abilities to Blade, such as not being susceptible to vampires yet being attuned to their genetic makeup, therefore able to track them. Other than that, he was a highly-trained martial artist and fighter with no superpowers.
Before the film came out, Blade typically made only a supporting character in other character’s books, only having one, ten-issue series to his name. Not really the first character you’d expect to be made into a movie, considering Marvel’s most popular titles (X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four) either were stuck in development Hell or adapted with less than stellar results.
But Blade being the first of this new era of Marvel Comics films was probably the best thing to happen to the genre. Being that the character was so low on the totem pole, there were less preconceived notions about the concept, and, therefore, more freedom. It was brought to the screen by three people with respect for the comic book medium—writer David S. Goyer (a man who has written for comic books), Wesley Snipes (who has been attached to every African-American comic book character being brought to the big screen, from Luke Cage to Black Panther) and Stephen Norrington (who would go on to direct League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and would be attached at various times to the Ghost Rider film and The Crow reboot). These men would set the template of how to make a successful comic book film.
That template boiled down to being respectful to the source material while making the best film you can. Changes to the comic book source material shouldn’t be done arbitrarily, but to make the best cinematic presentation possible.
Case in point, the film changes Blade’s origin. His mother is still bitten by a vampire, but before she gives birth. But the bite now turns Blade into what is called a “Daywalker,” someone with all the powers and weaknesses of a vampire yet able to walk in the day time. This change adds more weight and pathos to the character, while making him more of a threat to the vampires.
Another part of the template is that Goyer and Norrington left the campiness at home. Blade is a serious work. Wesley Snipes consistently plays Blade as a grim, driven hunter, never with a wink of his eye towards the audience that he thinks he’s above the material. There are oodles of cyberpunk style layered on, but never to the point of becoming a joke. The project was approached not as adapting kiddie fare; it was approached as a horror concept and treated duly respectfully. And it was released with an R rating, to say that it definitely wasn’t kid’s stuff.
This first Blade almost tripled its budget, which set up the inevitable sequel, Blade II.
Goyer stayed on to write, but the directorial reins were handed over to a pre-Hellboy Guillermo del Toro. This film sent Blade to Europe in search of a hybrid band of vampire called Reavers, so advanced they hunt normal vampires. Blade is forced to team with a group of vampire mercenaries, one played by future Hellboy Ron Perlman, to eradicate the threat to humans and vampires alike.
Blade II made the most money of the series, and a franchise was born. But the future of the franchise was placed in jeopardy with the next sequel—Blade: Trinity.
David S. Goyer took over the directing duties in addition to his writing job this time around, and decided the Blade franchise needed to branch out. Therefore, he added two new vampire hunters to help Blade out: one from the comics in the form of Ryan “Mr. Comic Book Film” Reynolds’ Hannibal King and one original creation in Jessica Biel’s Abigail Whistler. The idea was to allow Blade: Trinity to showcase these characters so audiences would fall in love with them and they could spin them off into their own film franchise or in place of the Blade franchise if Snipes retired the role.
There were a number of problems with this. First off, they forgot to ask Snipes what he thought of this. Well, since he was a producer on the film, they probably did ask him. They probably just ignored what problems he had with the idea. Snipes felt Blade didn’t need another partner, he had Whistler (played by Kris Kristofferson in the first two films and written as Abigail’s father in this one) and that was fine. Snipes eventually sued New Line Cinema and Goyer, stating he hadn’t been paid what he was owed and that his screen time was deliberately reduced at the expense of giving the spin off characters more screen time, which hampered the quality of the film.
He might have had a point there, because the film is the weakest of the three. While I didn’t find it as horrible as some critics, it definitely seemed out of place in style and tone with the two previous Blade films. It attempted to ape the style of the other films, but came off as too glossy and less gritty than the others. The new characters did defuse the focus quite a bit, and while in this film they finally pit Blade against Dracula, the villain is mostly relegated to a background role, making for a wasted opportunity.
Despite the hard feelings, Snipes has repeatedly stated he would like there to be a Blade 4. But the actor’s imprisonment for tax evasion, him being over 50 when released in 2013, and Marvel gaining the rights back from New Line means that any new Blade film will probably be a reboot and most likely not feature Snipes.
Next time, we look at how the new era of comic book films opened the doors for more independent comic books to hit the big screen.
Guillermo Del Toro may have already set up his next project once he finishes next summer’s Pacific Rim, but he is not leaving that world’s giant robots and monsters behind. The director has been asked by Warner Brothers to start development on a sequel, even though it will still be seven months before the first box office receipts indicate whether one is warranted.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Del Toro will be working with Pacific Rim’s initial screenwriter Travis Beacham to craft a script for a Part 2.
Of course at this point, it is unclear as to whether Del Toro would return to the director’s chair for the hypothetical sequel, though he would undoubtedly at least hold a producer’s credit. He is definitely set to do his haunted house project Crimson Peak as his next film in early 2014 and has a number of other projects in development. His participation will come down to his schedule, how quickly Warners would like the sequel in theaters and possibly how much the studio might be willing to pay Del Toro to postpone further some of his other projects.
Although he is very likely up to his elbows in the post-production of his upcoming film Pacific Rim, Guillermo Del Toro is still looking towards his next project, specifically the ghost story Crimson Peak. Legendary Pictures, who are bankrolling Pacific Rim, announced the news today. They will be producing the film for Warner Brothers to distribute.
Crimson Peak is a project that has been on Del Toro’s backburner for a while now. He first wrote and then sold the screenplay to Universal back in 2007 after he had completed Pan’s Labyrinth. The chance to do Hellboy II and then the two years in New Zealand he spent working on developing The Hobbit with Peter Jackson kept him from doing the film for the studio. More recently, Del Toro was aked by Legendary what he would like to do as his next project and he sent them the scripts to his long in-development adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness (which Universal had also shown a brief interest in), an adaptation of The Count Of Monte Cristo he had been trying to get going for nearly 20 years and Crimson Peak and was pleasantly surprised when they came back with Peak as the project they wanted to finance.
Del Toro described the film to Deadline as “[A] very set-oriented, classical but at the same time modern take on the ghost story. It will allow me to play with the conventions of the genre I know and love, and at the same time subvert the old rules.” He further explains that he hopes to pay homages to the great hanuted house films of the past -
To me that is Robert Wise’s The Haunting, which was a big movie, beautifully directed, with the house built magnificently. And the other grand daddy is Jack Clayton’s The Innocents. I’ve always tried to make big-sized horror movies like the ones I grew up watching,” del Toro said. “Films like The Omen, The Exorcist and The Shining, the latter of which is another Mount Everest of the haunted house movie. I loved the way that Kubrick had such control over the big sets he used, and how much big production value there was. I think people are getting used to horror subjects done as found footage or B-value budgets. I wanted this to feel like a throwback.
We already know how much Del Toro loves the various sub-genres of horror, and if we look at Pan’s Labyrinth as his take on classical European fairy tale conventions, I think we can safely assume that we will be in for something scarily good.
But for those of you – OK, those of us waiting to see if Del Toro will ever get to make At The Mountains Of Madness, don’t despair. The director hints that the project may come to fruition with his current producing partners.
They love it, but we just finished Pacific Rim. They want to let that film happen and then my hope is, down the line we can do it. People ask how do i choose projects. All the projects in my roster are there because I love them, but the financing process is serendipity. And often, the ones I think will happen don’t, and the ones I think won’t happen, do.
Well, we know that there are some directors who would not take on the job of directing the recently announced new Star Wars films, there are two directors who hinted that they would be open to the idea. And coincidentally, those two directors are ones whose names have been bandied about in the press as possible contenders – Colin Trevorrow and Guillermo Del Toro.
First up is Trevorrow, director of the indie time travel film Safety Not Guaranteed, who has already been reported as having met with Lucasfilm presumably about the gig. And while he didn’t confirm that meeting while talking to Moviezine (via JoBlo), he didn’t exactly deny that the meeting took place.
It is not something that I can comment too much on. But I can definitely say, I am as much of a fan of Star Wars as everyone else for whom Star Wars was the most important thing in their life, when they were a kid. I’m deeply aware of how profoundly important it is, to billions of people. It really is a mythology and possibly even a belief system for a lot of people. I certainly can’t comment on what my involvement may ever be, I can definitely say that I would absolutely love to direct a Star Wars film at some point in my life. That would be incredible, I’m not daunted by it.
Lots of shades of grey in that quote, particularly that he can’t “comment too much” on it. Definitely sounds like a non-confirmation confirmation that there is some truth to the reports of him meeting with Lucasfilm. Of course, with only one film under his belt, and a rather small one at that, would Disney feel he is the right man for what would be a much bigger job?
Del Toro is one who is no stranger to big jobs, having spent much time working with Peter Jackson developing The Hobbit before potential delays due to MGM’s financial problems sent him packing to do the “monsters versus giant robots” blockbuster Pacific Rim for Warner Brothers. But even with some of the requisite experience for a Star Wars film, he still states that he would need to at least think about it. As he told Fanhattan -
You know, I saw it on the Internet, but I haven’t approached them, they haven’t formally approached me. I mean, I heard some rumblings, but to me it’s really — I have so many projects to discuss or think about. Something that is not a possibility yet, I don’t do that. You know, because I have so many things that I need to catch up with. If this becomes ever a reality, and there’s an approach to do it, I would then think about it, but it’s like thinking if I want to date a supermodel. I don’t think about these things.
Now I should point out that Fanhattan states that the emphasis on “formally” is Del Toro’s not their’s. Again, if we parse that, it does sound as if there were some informal talks. But in a recent interview with Collider, Del Toro did state that he was looking to do something a bit different as a follow up to Pacific Rim.
We certainly started tossing ideas for possibilities of a sequel [to Pacific Rim] and Travis Beacham and I are writing a proposal of ideas, but at the same time I know I don’t want to do that next. I want to do something else, I want to do something in a different genre that’s not so big. So I don’t know yet what it’s gonna be, but I know that next year I’m delivering Pacific Rim in July and then I’m doing—God willing—the voice shooting for Pinocchio and then the pilot for The Strain for FX.
Would Del Toro change his plans if Lucasfilm came knocking with an offer? Well, we know he would at least think about it.