Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Well, they certainly went big this time. Being the nerd that I am, I always await the next HARRY POTTER trailer with a bit of excitement. Almost every year around this time there's a teaser for the next installment, which doesn't offer a whole lot, but still manages to create a fair amount of buzz. This year, there is no teaser (well, there have been a couple sneak peaks, but nothing that's garnered much attention), just a full-blown trailer previewing both installments of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS.

In my humble opinion, this was very smart advertising. PART 1 comes out in November, so they could have just previewed that and left the PART 2 stuff for a later date, but this way they are billing the film as a two-parter. This way, anticipation for PART 2 is already getting built up pretty high.

I know the purpose of a trailer is to make a film look good, but I can't help but believe that this will be something special. I have a love/hate relationship with the HP series in general and that relationship carries over to director David Yates as well. I really enjoyed HARRY POTTER 5, but I didn't care for 6. I just don't know what they were trying to do with that film. It was too much teen drama and kookiness for being at this stage of the series. I don't think that will be a problem with these last two films. Next July, the HARRY POTTER series will end forever, the action and drama we've all anticipated has to be there if they want to end things off on the right foot.

I was seriously bummed after reading "The Deathly Hallows" because it didn't deliver to my expectations. Some parts dragged on too long and the serious action felt rushed. Characters' deaths sometimes happened off-page with no sense of tragedy to them and some of the more dramatic moments lacked the weight they deserved. The only thing that kept me from being seriously depressed about the letdown was the fact that the movies would have a chance to get things right. I know things aren't typically done this way as the movies have a way of short-changing their sources, but film is uniquely capable of correcting the flaws of the 7th book. The dramatic weight of the story is now in the hands of Yates and the actors, who will no doubt go big this time around. Even in the trailer, the high-level of action appears to be there. The intensity of Harry and Voldemort's confrontations is also there as well as the drama that the book lacks. I'm really looking forward to these films because I believe they can erase my bitter feelings towards the book's conclusion, thus changing my outlook on the series as a whole.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Interviews with Orci & Kurtzman

This writer/producer pair (often teamed with J.J. Abrams) are some of the most sought after talent in Hollywood today. Their resumes include: STAR TREK, "Fringe" and the upcoming COWBOYS & ALIENS. Naturally, with their penchant for sci-fi, the two were honored at last weekend's Saturn Awards. Here are a couple interviews with the duo, one before the event and one after, where they discuss the next season of "Fringe", production on COWBOYS & ALIENS, their progress on the STAR TREK sequel and a lot more.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman talk STAR TREK 2, COWBOYS & ALIENS, FRINGE, HAWAII 5-0 on Red Carpet at 2010 Saturn Awards from ColliderVideos on Vimeo.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman on COWBOYS & ALIENS, STAR TREK 2 Villain, FRINGE Season 3, VIEW-MASTER, More from ColliderVideos on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Trailer Time


I posted a trailer for this film a little while back, but they've released a more in-depth trailer now that reveals a bit more of the film's plot. For me, this has certainly become one of the most anticipated movies of the year. There's a release date scheduled for mid-august, but I doubt that's a wide release. Hopefully, I'll still get a chance to see it.


For some reason, people are having a hard time wrapping their head around this film. "A film based on Facebook? What?!" It's not based on Facebook, it's not like the imminent Battleship and Monopoly adaptations. This isn't a plot that revolves around the mechanisms of the social networking site itself. The film tells the story of its founding and the controversial fallout for creator (and now Billionaire), Mark Zuckerberg. With Sorkin's screenplay and Fincher's directing, you can expect something pretty special out of this. Release date: October 1st.


I've posted this before, but I thought I'd do so again as the trailer has now become more accessible. This film also has a summer release date (July 16), but like ANIMAL KINGDOM, there's no telling how many theaters it will actually hit.


This looks like a very interesting documentary by Oliver Stone. South and Central America are really a mystery to us here in the states and lately they have been demonized by our media. Why? This film has a limited release in the coming weeks, I'd be surprised if it ever becomes wide.


Just thought I'd throw this one on there too. It's getting pretty good reviews currently. Looks pretty weird.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Guillermo del Toro Interview


So, it would appear that all the projects I recently speculated about as Del Toro's next film are not options at this time.

He explains why AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS is a hard sell, that HELLBOY 3 doesn't have a script, and the FRANKENSTEIN isn't quite there yet. However, he does have three potential projects in mind. I'm very curious to see what he ends up with.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


This is a new section where I write about what I hate.

1. All this talk about M. Night Shyamalan's new script:

There's been some buzz about M. Night's new script and it's been making headlines lately. My first thought was "So?". So what if he has a new script? Haven't people learned by now that he just makes garbage? His next film, THE LAST AIRBENDER might end up being a fun, kid's action film, but that won't prove that he's back to form with the potential for okay original stories. I like the SIX SENSE well enough and I'm actually more fond of UNBREAKABLE, but everything after that is utter dreck. SIGNS possesses one of the biggest plot holes in film history, the surprise ending to THE VILLAGE can be called a mile away, LADY IN THE WATER is just silly and THE HAPPENING is marked by some of the worst acting and plot development I've ever seen. Now, because of THE LAST AIRBENDER, he's good again? No no, I'm not buying it. Wasn't there a time after LADY that people were saying this guy might never get hired again? Hollywood has been uncharacteristically gentle lately. There are plenty of people who shouldn't be stars anymore because they don't produce or take part in decent, profitable entertainment and yet we still see names like Jennifer Aniston in the marquee. Which brings me to my next point: Guess who's taken an interest in M. Night's script? None other than the great Bruce Willis! Again, who gives a shit? When was the last time Willis was involved in anything of note? His last decade of work has been filled with so much forgettable action-rubbish, I can't believe he's still considered an A-lister. Are his films even profitable anymore? Jesus, I saw a trailer for the comic adaptation RED earlier today (starring Willis) and that looks like more of the same garbage. Dame Helen Mirren, you should be ashamed.

2. I saw a trailer for THE SMURFS today and boy did that piss me off. I can't believe they're even making this movie. Who cares about The Smurfs? And to make matters worse, they're leaving their own animated world and coming to ours. Freaking awesome. What a great excuse to have these blue freaks enjoy pop culture and dance to rap music. God, couldn't you have stopped with ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS. And that damn song in the trailer is irritating too.

3. Chris Klein checks into rehab after DUI:

Oh yeah? BFD. Who is Chris Klein? Oh yeah, he was in AMERICAN PIE a decade ago. The only time anyone talks about this guy is when he's being shit on. Oh look, there's the guy that got dumped for Tom Cruise! Oh look, he can't sing! (That was actually pretty funny) Oh look, Klein's been hittin' the sauce again. When did people start being able to extend their celebrity by hitting rock-bottom? (see Lindsey Lohan)

4. I've been hatin' for a while on the TWILIGHT films because they're garbage, but there's actually worse garbage out there. Robert Pattinson seems like a douche, but he might be alright when this series ends. Taylor Lautner is such a damn wiener, but you gotta admire his determination. Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, irritates the hell out of me. She's a terrible little actress and this reluctant-celebrity schtick is getting pretty old. "Oh, being a celebrity is so awful, I'm just so awkward around everything". Get over it. Start acting like a goddamn grown-up. You've been acting since you were a little kid, this is exactly the kind of life you wanted, so enjoy it. Just pull yourself together or retire to the woods somewhere away from all these anxiety inducing people. I'm sick of seeing you spaz your way through interviews.

I feel better.

Trailer Time

Just a few trailers I thought I'd share:


I wish this film was still going by its original title, which refers to the ceasefire pleas he made before eventually being gunned down by friendly fire. Pat Tillman was a heroic and honorable man and a true patriot. Friendly fire isn't a great way to go, but it happens. That's not the appalling part of his death. What's shocking is that his family was lied to and the details of his death were covered-up. The lack of honesty by the US Military during this whole ordeal was shameful and petty. There was no good reason to hide the details of Pat's death. He deserved a lot more than that. Hopefully this film has brought his family some measure of peace because now everyone can know the truth of what transpired.


This film is an adaptation of the Jim Thompson novel of the same name. Stacey Keach also starred in a 1976 version of the film. I've taken a particular interest in this film because I've heard so many great things about the book. I'm also a huge supporter of Casey Affleck ever since THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES. He's truly a remarkable actor and early reports indicate that his performance in this film is outstanding. THE KILLER INSIDE ME premiered at Sundance earlier this year to a fair amount of controversy due to its lengthy depictions of violence against women. Numerous critics demonized the film and cursed Sundance for showcasing it. A great quote coming from Stephen Dalton at The Times takes a jab at reviewers who judged the film so harshly "The Film Critics, I suspect, have made the classic mistake of confusing content for intent". The film is currently in the midst of a limited release and I can't imagine it getting much wider.


CYRUS also premiered at Sundance earlier this year, but to a good amount of fanfare. The Duplass brothers (BAGHEAD) direct John C. Riley, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener in this peculiar comedy. I'm excited to see this because Jonah Hill's performance looks downright fantastic, mixing humor with sadness with a touch of scary. This film is also in the midst of a limited release. I can't imagine why it wouldn't hit more theaters in the near future considering its popular cast.


Towards the end of the trailer there were some critical comparisons to THE LIVES OF OTHERS. If this is at all true, then this film is worth seeing. I love the idea of Cold War spy films post-Cold War.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Nerd News

I wasn't around this weekend, so I have some belated nerd news:

1. Marvel plans on using short films to introduce side characters -

This is an incredibly intelligent plan. There are so many interesting and important characters that will likely be relegated to the background for the major Marvel films coming out in the next couple years. Mentioned specifically in this rumor are Black Panther, Luke Cage and Dr. Strange. I would even settle for animated short films to introduce characters, but live-action shorts would be unique and probably more effective. Look for more news on this in the near future.

2. Adam McKay likely as THE BOYS director -

This has been rumored for some time, but it looks like the ANCHORMAN director is close to sealing the deal and taking on this graphic novel property. The Garth Ennis title is about a covert squad known informally as "The Boys" who are charged with monitoring and handling super-powered human beings. It's like if there were superhumans in the real world. Likely, they would all have huge egos and be intensely difficult, unlike the often-benevolent superheroes of typical comic fare. McKay is a talented comedic director and he seems interested in the position, so I'm all for this. I'd be interested to see what he could do with an action-packed graphic novel adaptation. THE BOYS will likely be released some time next year.

3. DEADPOOL has been offered to Robert Rodriguez -

The director's seat for the Marvel Comics character's solo film is currently empty, but Rodriguez is an early candidate. He certainly has the talent to pull it off, but it seems that he would rather make films from the comfort of his Texas greenscreen studio, so I'm not sure he'd want to venture out and make this film, which would likely require a fair amount of location shooting. Rodriquez also seems to be partial to directing films that he had a hand in developing and he seems to already have a lot of potential projects on his plate. I'd be surprised if he took the job, but i guess he didn't turn Fox down outright. So we will just have to wait and see.

4. Sam Raimi front-runner to direct OZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL -

This film will follow the origins of the Wizard of Oz character, who had his beginnings as a circus performer. Robert Downey Jr. is expected to play the lead. Downey and Raimi seems like a winning combination, but, as I've said before, I just don't care for all these "Oz" projects that are currently in development. They all just seem unnecessary. THE WIZARD OF OZ isn't a classic because of it's story is anything special. Garland and the history of the production are what's most remembered about OZ. Also, I don't want anyone to bring up RETURN TO OZ and how they want this film to be more like that film in tone. Go back and watch RETURN TO OZ. It's not the dark film you remember, it's just boring and cheap.


Okay, so I was reading something on RT about future classic monster themed films and the blurp mentioned that Breck Eisner (The Crazies) is expected to direct BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT before moving on to the ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK remake. "Blood of the Innocent" is a 1985 comic that pits Jack the Ripper against Dracula. That's right, you read that correctly. Jack the Ripper vs. Dracula. Isn't that insane? This might seem like a bad idea to most, but I find it too delightfully mad. If this actually gets made, I'll be ecstatic.

6. Guillermo Del Toro to announce his next project at Comic-Con -

Since leaving THE HOBBIT, the subject of Guillermo Del Toro's next project has caused much speculation. There was some brief talk about a new VAN HELSING project that he might be involved in, but further investigation into that matter has proved it to be unlikely. There are a lot of projects that are high on Del Toro's list, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was something no one has ever heard of. The most likely candidates, however, are an adaptation of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness", FRANKENSTEIN and a third HELLBOY film. Comic-Con will take place at the end of July, so we only have to wait a month. Whatever it ends up being, I'm sure it will be exciting.

7. Nerd Trailers -


I'm all for a Zach Snyder directed film about warrior owls, but they really need to ditch that 30 Seconds to Mars song in the trailer if they want me to think this isn't going to be lame.


I would have very little faith in this film if it wasn't for Edgar Wright (HOT FUZZ) directing. It just looks very odd and a little too "scene" for me, but I might be able to get into it.


I'm not sure I'm that into this. It just doesn't seem very exciting to me. So does the film mostly take place on a boat? This seems less appealing than the last film (which I liked), which didn't exactly rake in a lot of money. If this film performs poorly, it might be the death-rattle for the Narnia series, there was enough trouble getting this film made.


I'm pretty jazzed about this. THE GREEN HORNET looks like it will be a lot of fun and with Gondry in the director's chair, I have no doubt it'll be unique. Also, when I looked at the cast list today I found a couple surprises: Edward Furlong and Edward James Olmos! Too bad this film won't hit theaters until early next year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Milwaukee Film Festival's Early Selection Trailers

I just thought I'd post trailers for the first seven selections for the Milwaukee Film Festival. The Festival isn't for another 3 months, so expect a lot more screening announcements in the future.






METROPOLIS (Extended):


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trailer Time

It's time to take a look at a few trailers for upcoming films!

Recently, I posted a trailer for Neil Marshall's CENTURION. Now they've released a red band trailer that gives an even better sense of the film's plot with the addition of a few more gory sequences as well. I'm excited for this one because the footage from the trailer looks great and stories about wayward groups of soldiers always have potential.

CENTURION has a release date set for late August. I hope it's a wide release as this is definitely worth a trip to the theater.

Next up is the trailer for [REC]2, the sequel to [REC], the popular Spanish film that spawned the well-receieved American remake QUARANTINE. To be honest, I never saw the American film, but I heard it was pretty close to the Spanish film, which I thought was a pretty good little film. It's shot using the ol' diegetic digital camera gimmick. I'm not a huge fan of this technique, but it works well in [REC], which was thoroughly creepy and better than most recent zombie-fare.

The sequel reminds me a bit of ALIENS as it pertains to the plot. In the trailer we see a group of soldiers headed into the arena of the first film to handle the violent contagion. Presumably, they would be better equipped to handle the situation, just like the marines in ALIENS, but we know how things are likely to end up. "Game over, Man! Game over!".

[REC] 2 actually has a pre-theatrical rental/on-demand promotion going on at the moment. I'm not sure which outlets are offering this, but it seems like a lot. You can rent it for 48-hours at Amazon.com for $9.99. Otherwise, the film has a limited US release set up for early July. Personally, I think the on-demand idea was a very smart way to make this film more accessible. Kudos to whomever decided on that.

Lastly, I wanted to post the trailer for Sophia Coppola's next film SOMEWHERE. I'm not a big supporter of the director actually. I liked THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, disliked LOST IN TRANSLATION and downright despise MARIE ANTOINETTE, but something makes me think I'll appreciate this film.

I'm happy to see Stephen Dorff return to a good role. He's been doing bit parts and straight-to-video for a while now and I always thought he deserved a more prominent career. I'd also recently noticed that Dorff started to look really old, but he looks like a movie star again in this trailer. Coppola did a lot for Bill Murray's dramatic career with LOST IN TRANSLATION, maybe this film with garner Dorff similar positive attention. SOMEWHERE is set for a wide release on December 22nd of this year.

Oh, I have one more actually, for Mark Romanek's NEVER LET ME GO. This is Romanek's first feature since ONE HOUR PHOTO back in 2002. He was then slated to take on THE WOLFMAN a few years back, but left due to creative differences. I wonder what his version of that film would have been like, probably better than Johnston's. Either way, this trailer looks pretty interesting.

The trailer is a bit foggy on a premise, but it seems to have an ISLAND-esque plot. At some point in their development, these children are sacrificed for something, putting an end to their "short lives" as mentioned in the trailer. The setting of the film being an English boarding school is very interesting when juxtaposed with that type of sci-fi; We see the electronic bracelets in the preview. These types of stories have been done before, but they are typically loud, action-packed affairs. This seems to be a quiet film, more introspective, perhaps focusing more on the existential questions of humanity. I like this and with Alex Garland (28 DAYS LATER, SUNSHINE) in charge of the screenplay, my faith in the film is that much more solidified.

NEVER LET ME GO has a limited release date scheduled for October 1st. Hopefully, it will have a wider release before the end of the year.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nerd News

Lots of nerdy news this week:

Michael Fassbender rumored for either SPIDER-MAN or X-MEN: FIRST CLASS -

When James McAvoy was cast as Charles Xavier in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS a couple weeks back, I made a few predictions as to who might fill the role of young Magneto. Fassbender was on my list (which also included Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling) and it looks like that is becoming a possibility. I thought Hardy seemed more likely, but I was definitely hoping Fassbender would get the role. He has a pretty solid range, so I'm sure he could pull it off. If not Magneto, Fassbender might be in line to play a villain in the SPIDER-MAN reboot. Which villain? Nobody knows as details on the film are being pretty closely guarded, but I'd be happy with this as a consolation if he didn't get the X-MEN role. He was great in last year's INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and phenomenal in FISH TANK. He can be seen later this summer in JONAH HEX, which looks crummy, but his villainous role might save the whole damn thing. He also appeared in 300, so he must be big on graphic novel adaptations, or maybe he knows that they're a great way to make a lot of money and get a lot of exposure. Good for him, I hope one of these opportunities pans out for him.

Jamie Bell likely to play Peter Parker in SPIDER-MAN -

I liked the Raimi films just fine, but I was never big on Tobey Maguire in the title role. He's just too much of a wiener and a bit too whiny. I can't get behind a Spidey like that. That's why I was a bit miffed when I heard Sony was considering a bunch of new wiener kids to play him in the reboot. After a bunch of rumors and casting news, Jamie Bell has emerged as the likely candidate. I can't say I'm too familiar with all his work and I never saw BILLY ELLIOT (where he got his start), but he has a nice resume and seems like a stout fellow. That is to say - I'd be okay if he was officially cast. Though I'm still not terribly excited for this film.

Geoffrey Rush to return as Barbossa in PIRATES 4: ON STRANGER TIDES -

Well good! Rush was probably my favorite part about the first film and I suppose then my favorite part of the whole series. I didn't care for PIRATES 2 or 3, but 4 is starting to come together nicely with Depp, Rush and McShane on board with no Bloom or Knightley in sight. It's getting more and more likely that I'll want to see this in theaters.

In a bit of Television News: Ricky Gervais to appear on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -

The news that "Curb" is coming back for another season is great enough, but this news that Gervais will appear in, at least, the 8th episode of next season is the icing on the cake. Apparently, he will be playing himself. What interactions he could have with Larry I can't even imagine in my wildest, funniest dreams. I have such high hopes for this. Apparently, "Curb" is set to start production soon with an aim at airing on HBO in 2011.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt rumored to be in the running for Riddler role in DARK KNIGHT follow-up -

Gordon-Levitt is turning into quite a sought-after actor these days. Lots of people really love him and a few like to hate on him, I'm one of those rare people in the middle. I haven't seen anything yet that would make me an avid supporter, but I don't doubt that he has talent. He apparently joked about reading for the third Batman film while working with director Christopher Nolan on this summer's INCEPTION and that has reportedly become a reality. I feel like we're a few months away from hearing any concrete news on the matter and I'm not even sure that the film's script is finished. Furthermore, I'm not sure why everyone is assuming that the Riddler has to be the villain in this film. It's likely, but not a given as there are plenty of other interesting villains that could be utilized. Personally, I think JGL is a bit young for the Riddler role, but I guess I wouldn't mind it and I certainly wouldn't mind him taking on some other role in the film. More news on Batman casting as it comes.

The Mortal Kombat short film/movie pitch -

Well, here it is:

It's come to light that this clip is a pitch made by FAME remake director Kevin Tancharoen to Warner Brothers in the hopes of getting the chance to direct the next film in the series. The studio is said to be keen on rebooting the series. I'm not sure why, I didn't think people were all that in to Mortal Kombat these days, but what do I know? Fans seems to really be liking this short film and hoping it will be made into a feature. I'm less enthusiastic. I don't see the need for a MK film at all. If this short were actually a trailer, I don't think I'd see the film. But that being said, If one does get made, I hope this guy gets the job because he seems to be very enthusiastic and despite my misgivings about the short, it's done well for only costing $7500. I'll be interested to see what the studios decision is and what the final product will be. However, I'm still predicting an MK reboot never gets off the ground.

SPLICE Review - Close To Good

Vincenzo Natali's SPLICE opened last weekend and I'm guessing you probably didn't see it. Despite having a relatively large marketing campaign for being such a small film, it still performed like a small film at the box-office, coming in #8 over a fairly quiet weekend. With the KARATE KID and A-TEAM films opening this weekend, SPLICE will likely be pushed from the top 10. This still isn't bad considering that I have a hard time fathoming how it got a wide-release in the first place. That's not to say that it was poor by any means, plenty of poor films can be seen everywhere, this was just very out-there.

First off, the film forces the viewer to take a pretty large leap of faith. SPLICE is set in a sort-of sci-fi alternate reality where peculiar splicing experiments are possible. The magnitude of these experiments and the impossible hurdles involved in achieving them are never fully explored. All it takes is an all-nighter, some good music, and a few variations in key-stroke to allow for human-animal hybridization. I'm not knocking storytelling here, I'm merely laboring my above point; this is a world unlike our own. Once situated, we can start to take in the focal point of the film: the relationship between the two leads (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) and their creation, Dren (Delphine Chaneac).

Dren, the semi-human chimera, really steals the film. Neither Polley nor Brody give particularly great performances (though Polley often reminded me of a young Julianne Moore), both being outshined by their creature creation. Dren offers a surprising amount of modes and emotions. At times she's childish, then a seductive adolescent, then vulnerable, playful, malicious, dangerous and the adjectives continue. Each scene in her development brings something new and she never speaks a word up until the very end. It's a great, almost mimed, performance. A lot of credit needs to go to newcomer Chaneac, but I can't say the credit is all hers. A lot of what goes into making Dren great is brought out by unique and graceful visual effects (notably her wings) and also the practical makeup magic of great Greg Nicotero. My only complaint about Dren's portrayal is the constant chirping noise she appears to be making. It's certainly fitting and, at times, it works very well, but there are also plenty of times where it doesn't seem to match the action, thus revealing itself to be a dubbed-in sound. Certain scenes might have been more effective and eerie if Dren were entirely silent. But that seems to be a theme with SPLICE - not knowing when to be silent.

There was too much exposition for my taste. Cutting some of it out could have shaved off some of the run time and made for a more intelligent film. We get that Elsa has mommy-issues simply from the scene where she looks through her keepsakes. That point does not need to be fleshed out as it is. Elsa's desire to have Dren for a child instead of a real child is probably one of the more interesting things in the film and it could have been gleaned by anyone who just considered the evidence, Clive doesn't need to spell out the reasons. It's also apparent that Dren's human DNA donor was Elsa, that discussion too could have been left out. Film's often have a hard time finding a nice balance between spoken and inferred exposition. Some films just don't know how to convey information without dialogue, that's not the case here though. SPLICE's spoken exposition is merely redundant. Natali just needs a bit more faith in his direction and a little less in his script.

My favorite thing about the direction of the film was how the three leads' relationship was built. The initially reluctant Clive and the overly assertive (to the point of seeming psychotic) Elsa make for interesting parents. There's definitely a lot of Freud/Jung in the film. A sexual relationship is slowly and intelligently built between Dren and her "father", an example of Freud's "feminine Oedipus" complex or Jung's Electra Complex. As the film plainly moves toward this and the eventual consummation of their sexual tension there's nothing the viewer can do but watch and squirm. Clive clearly has a screw or two loose, but his attraction to Dren has so many rational (albeit unpleasant) layers, the most obvious being that she has Elsa's DNA. The love scene is pretty awkward, but nobody batted an eye when Jake Sully went all inter-species in AVATAR.

Unfortunately, this interesting psychological dynamic had to be ruined by the final ten minutes of the film. Ol' Oedipus himself, having been ignored in favor of the less known sister-complex, had to rear his ugly head. No way could he take a backseat to Electra. Dren's abrupt sex-change is telegraphed earlier in the film, but I was still hoping it wouldn't happen. Is it a bad way to end the film? No, I guess not, it still brings up some interesting ideas, but it just wasn't necessary. It also felt rushed compared to the Electra element because it didn't have the benefit of an entire film's attention. SPLICE would have been a lot better if it ended with Dren's first apparent death. She had a certain Frankenstein quality to her, the tragic abomination, but this is shattered by the end that paints her/him as more of a monster.

I feel like this film was a missed opportunity at something truly great. It still gets points for originality and quality direction though. I look forward to seeing what Natali does next, which is reportedly an adaptation of the sci-fi classic "Neuromancer" by William Gibson. B-.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This Week in Movie News (Nerd News)

It seems that most of these little compilations of weekly news include casting rumors for THE AVENGERS, this week is no different:

Jeremy Renner likely for the role of Hawkeye - This has been rumored for a while, but it seems to have recently become a done deal. Earlier this year, whilst riding high due to his performance in Best Picture THE HURT LOCKER, Renner became the target of numerous productions. This was no surprise as the actor has long been underappreciated. The most exciting of these rumored productions is the massive AVENGER flick due out in 2012 (to be directed by Joss Whedon). Hawkeye is a minor role, which works for Renner because he is also very interested in working with Paul Thomas Anderson on his next still un-titled film. If you look at a lot of comics, the character isn't really anything to write home about. I doubt that if it weren't for the graphic novel series "The Ultimates", Hawkeye would probably not appear in the film at all. In the above-mentioned series Hawkeye still plays second-fiddle to the first-stringers, but he also has his very exciting moments. Instead of some superhero outfit, this Hawkeye is clad in black and sunglasses, displaying a coolness and wit about him that is a perfect fit for Renner.

For those who do not know, Hawkeye is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who possesses the ability to turn most objects into something lethal with incredible accuracy (even fingernails!). The AVENGERS is starting to get crowded, I hope the proper amount of attention is paid to the right people.

More Marvel, Neal McDonough to play Dum Dum Dugan in CAPTAIN AMERICA -

This is another minor role, but I'm happy about his involvement and McDonough's casting. Dum Dum, full name Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader Dugan, is a great character if for nothing other than his appearance. His style includes a bowler hat and a bushy mustache, which McDonough reports he'll also be wearing (he's already started on the mustache). Dugan is also an excellent marksman and, reportedly, will be part of Cap's Howling Commandos unit in the film. If you don't know McDonough by name, I'd wager that you'd recognize his face. The man pops up just about everywhere, most recently on "Desperate Housewives" as Dave Williams. Aside from that, he often appears as a heavy, a tough guy, or a military man.

Also joining the cast of CAPTAIN AMERICA...Stanley Tucci -

Tucci will appear as the German scientist Abraham Erskine, the man who creates the super-soldier serum that transforms weakling Steve Rogers into the most powerful man on the planet. Tucci is coming off an Oscar Nomination for his supporting role in Peter Jackson's THE LOVELY BONES.

THREE MEN AND A BRIDE might just be a reality -

I don't know who is exactly clamoring for this, but it might just happen either way. For those who don't know or care to remember, there was once a pair of films featuring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson as the caretakers of a young girl - first, THREE MEN AND A BABY (directed by Leonard Nimoy), second, THREE MEN AND A LITTLE LADY. The third film in the series would obviously involve the men giving away the now-grown woman and walking her down the aisle. I don't really see what this film would accomplish besides setting a curious new precedent about the need to make any sequels possible. Selleck and Guttenberg, though likable, aren't exactly burning up the big-screen. Neither is Danson for that matter, but at least he still gets work. Do people really need to know what happened to the "Baby/Little Lady"? Does anyone really care? Zach Galifianakis made a subtle joke about the films in last year's THE HANGOVER. I thought it was funny, but not a lot of people laughed because they didn't understand it. I see failure written all over this project, but I guess only time will tell.

Tony Jaa's Retires -

Thai martial artist and film superstar, Tony Jaa, has retired from films and joined a monastery. Apparently, he rode into his new home on an elephant and proceeded to become an officially ordained monk. This seemed odd to me, but I haven't followed Jaa's career. I don't want to recount it all here, but I suggest looking into it. However, I will mention that the details involve Jaa's time as director of ONG BAK 2, which, under his watchful eye, became an incredibly troubled production from which he disappeared into the jungle for months before being brought back. The turmoil of this period in his life could make for a VERY interesting film, probably far more interesting than any of his stunt-laded pictures.

Like I said, look it up. I guarantee it's fascinating.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What To Watch This Summer While TV is Dead

I guess I don't really touch on Television all that much, but I certainly partake in a lot of it. Summer is a great time to get out and enjoy various recreations, but one is likely to have some downtime as well. There's going to be lazy and rainy days. On such occasions it would be typical to flip on the trusty television, but summer lineups across the board a typically abysmal. Sure, you could watch some films or read a book, but I don't advocate abandoning TV altogether. Summer is also a good time to catch up on shows you never got a chance to watch. I have a few suggestions for anyone looking to fit a little more TV into their lives:

1. "Battlestar Galactica" - That's right, BSG. This is a fairly nerdy suggestion (there are more coming), but anyone who can get their hands on this show should. I guarantee that after watching the first couple episodes, you'll need to finish out the whole series. Don't be fooled by the nerd-stigma or the association to the campy original, "Battlestar" is deadly serious and powerfully made. I started watching it last summer and it completely took over my thoughts for an extended period of time. This version of the story starts with the end of humanity at the hands of the cylons. All but a handful of humans (relatively) have survived the decimation of their homeworlds. Led by their courageous leaders, Captain Adama (Edward James Olmos) and President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), the survivors set off for somewhere to call home out of reach of the cylons.

BSG ran for 4 Seasons and ended in 2009. It's generally considered one of the best things to ever be on television. The performances are great and the production values are top-notch, especially considering the show was on Sci-Fi (now SyFy). The show has elements of BLADE RUNNER and the TERMINATOR franchise, only better and more in-depth. This time around, the cylons aren't just villainous robots, they appear to be human because they were made to be indistinguishable. Part of BSG's appeal is learning more about this pseudo-humans and their nature/motivations for killing off humanity. Another draw of the show is its mystery elements; we are told from the get-go that there are cylon sleeper-agents amongst the survivors and it is (slowly) revealed who they are. The whole situation will keep you guessing and questioning the protagonists. There are also plenty of episodes that don't involve the cylons and only concern human affairs. These are some of the best. Torture, abortion human rights, power hierarchies in government, social status and martial law are all touched on with great success without preaching a particular viewpoint. I started with this first because I'm pretty sure it's my favorite show ever, but despite my enthusiasm, it took me the better part of six months to get through the 80 or so episodes and several miniseries. This summer would be a good time to start it off though.

2. "Dexter" - This show is quite the phenomenon, but it airs on Showtime and not everyone has Showtime. I know I don't. I watched this mostly on DVD and Netflix instant watch. So, it's reasonable to assume that there's still a lot of people out there who haven't seen the show. If you haven't, do yourself a favor watch it. The first episode I ever watched was from the second season and I didn't even pay attention to the whole thing, but when it was over, I wanted to keep watching. The production values are slick, the story arcs are often winding, unpredictable and tension inducing, and the show's star, Michael C. Hall, is ultra-charismatic (he won a Golden Globe for the role earlier this year). The show has run for four seasons thus far with a fifth starting this fall. Unlike "Battlestar", this is a quick watch. Each season is only composed of 12 or 13 episodes and there are so many cliffhangers and nail-biters that it wouldn't be unreasonable to polish off half a season on a lazy afternoon.

I don't think it would be short-sighted of me to say that the most intriguing component of the show is Dexter. There are a lot of subplots and important characters, but I don't really pay them much mind and I honestly don't think they have a positive effect on the show. Hall is the star, of that there's no doubt. Having your primary protagonist be a serial killer is a fine line to tread. Yes, he only kills bad guys, but he's still mentally ill and there has to be a downfall for him eventually. I think there's a little vigilante in all of us, so I can see why people would get behind the character, but it's Hall's performance that truly seals the deal. He's just so likable. His inner-monologues are often funny and sometimes scary. On the outside, he presents a certain vulnerability, but he consistently rebukes this by sharing his lack of feeling and numbness to the world. He's something the typical viewer can't quite understand, an enigma and the performance is so believable. If you end up watching this thing through to the end, you might end up ordering Showtime before the 5th season starts. I'm considering it myself.

3. "Deadwood" - This will go down in history as one of the highest-quality television shows of all-time. Unfortunately, "Deadwood" also belongs to the fraternity of television shows that never got a proper ending. With all the sets, quality actors and equipment, the show became too expensive for HBO to continue despite its popularity. After the third season (which ended with a great amount of build-up for the fourth), the show got axed and its stars were scattered in the wind. Timothy Olyphant, who starred as Seth Bullock, can now be seen in movies (THE CRAZIES, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) and as the star of FX's "Justified". Ian McShane (Al Swearengen) starred in NBC's "Kings" and will portray Blackbeard in the upcoming 4th PIRATES film. The list of quality performers stretches far beyond these two as well. I think that's what made "Deadwood" so good. It was never the most action-packed show, most episodes are spent in anticipation of events that will eventually come to pass, but the characters keep it lively and very entertaining.

The show tells the true story (with a fair amount of creative liberties) of the lawless and corrupt Deadwood camp in South Dakota. The three seasons find the town in some state of growth and the drama revolves around that pains that accompany that growth. The show is often shocking because it doesn't clean up the old-west with anachronisms. Deadwood is gritty and filthy and its people are the crude and violent children of the West. You get the sense while watching it that you're getting proper picture of what things were like, both aesthetically and through content. The experience of watching the whole series is bittersweet because you'll come to love it, but your heart will break when you realize that there is no fitting conclusion and there never will be. Despite going through this "Deadwood" depression, I'd still highly recommend watching every episode.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nerd News (Continued) - Del Toro No Longer Directing THE HOBBIT

There was some unfortunate news released over the latter half of the weekend that I didn't get to comment on: Guillermo del Toro will not be directing THE HOBBIT. Del Toro has been committed to the project for the last few years, working on the screenplays and pre-production with LORD OF THE RINGS director Peter Jackson. Getting a man so adept in the fantasy genre (see: HELLBOY 2 or PANS LABYRINTH) in the director's chair was quite a boon and something that had me immensely excited for this project. At the moment though, it's not to be, Jackson will be seeking out a new director.

The reason for the departure is simple: MGM, who holds the rights, recently filed for bankruptcy and obviously is in no condition to greenlight the picture, which originally had a tentative release date in late 2011 (the next BOND picture is also indefinitely postponed). Del Toro was enough of a team player to stick out the original postponement to 2012, but when the word came down that part 1 of THE HOBBIT (it's been split into two films to be released a year apart) might not hit theaters until 2013, Del Toro jumped ship. And he's completely justified in doing so. The man originally agreed to give over three years of his life to these immense projects, but three had become six and that was simply too much of a time commitment. Del Toro has a book series he's anxious to continue work on, he's also an incredibly ambitious director with many potential projects lined up that couldn't be postponed until 2015.

I am sad that he won't be directing THE HOBBIT and who they'll get to replace him is something I won't even speculate to as I was so used to the idea of him at the helm. However, I remember being mildly saddened at his getting the job in the first place. Del Toro is too talented to be delayed for so long. If I couldn't see one of his films before 2013, I'd be very disappointed. He has a Frankenstein film on tap as well as Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" and, of course, a HELLBOY trilogy to round out. I'd love to see him involved in any of these projects. The whole nerd community is sad at his departure from the Tolkien adaptation, but these lemons are likely to make some very sweet lemonade.

If you want to read the official statement from Del Toro and Jackson, check out The One Ring.Net.