Monday, November 30, 2009

Ryan Reynolds: Green Lantern Won’t Be a Typical Origin Story

Green Lantern star Ryan Reynolds told MTV’s Splash Page recently that while the upcoming film intends to introduce mainstream audiences to Hal Jordan, the titular DC Comics character, it won’t be like most drawn-out superhero movie origin stories. Rather, it will cut to the chase pretty quickly.

“It is [an origin story] to a certain degree, but it’s not a labored origin story, where the movie [truly] begins in the third act,” he said. “The movie starts when it starts. We find out Hal is the guy fairly early on, and the adventure begins.”

Reynolds also drew comparisons between this film, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), and Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, saying that some of the best parts of the film don’t necessarily involve the Green Lantern saving the universe with his super-powered ring.

“I think you walk away from this first film, and the moments that you remember and the moments that mean so much to you, not unlike Iron Man, are the moments where the guy’s not in the suit,” he said. “That to me is the tough thing to get right. And that's something that they did get right [in Iron Man]. You see why this guy’s in the suit, and that’s what’s interesting to me. Not that he is in the suit, but why."

I was never the biggest Green Lantern fan growing up, but I’ve been thoroughly enjoying what Geoff Johns has been doing with the character over the past few years—especially Green Lantern: Rebirth and the phenomenal Blackest Night. This could be a major ongoing franchise for Warner Bros. if they play their cards right. Casting Reynolds was an excellent start.

Meanwhile, Reynolds will also star in a Deadpool film after playing the fan-favorite Marvel Comics character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The spin-off has yet to enter production.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Zombieland 2 in 3D?

Recently, Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer told Moviehole that the sequel to the zombie survival comedy will likely be in 3D. Yep, that means blood and guts, right in your face. Sounds fun, right?

“The genre really lends itself to 3D,” said Fleischer, who confirmed that not only is Sony Pictures gearing up for a follow-up, but the original cast—Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin—is also eager to return.

Emerging as a surprise hit earlier this year, Zombieland arrived at a time when I was getting pretty tired of zombie movies, and the film was so freshly entertaining that it completely reignited my interest in the sub-genre. While Fleischer told Moviehole that the film is a few years away, I’m assuming that this and other 3D film projects will be fast-tracked if James Cameron’s Avatar is a success. But with one anonymous early reviewer calling the anticipated 3D sci-fi epic “alienating,” “weird” and “literally vomit inducing,” 3D technology could be a hard sell in the years to come.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s wishing each of you out there a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

In celebration of all things turkey, pumpkin pie and football, here’s a video we can all be thankful for: the Muppets performing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

As awesome as this is, I’ve secretly got my fingers crossed for more Muppet/Queen mash-ups. Kermit the Frog singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” couldn’t possibly be more appropriate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Michael Bay: Megan Fox’s Character Won’t Be Killed Off in Transformers 3

While the tension between Megan Fox and her Transformers director Michael Bay is the stuff of legend at this point (she has reportedly compared him to Hitler), the explosion enthusiast rushed to his leading lady’s defense at a recent Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

“She called me [after the Hitler comment] and goes, ‘It’s all bullsh—t, Mike,’” Bay told USA Today’s Andrea Mandell. “The press, they just like to prey, and stalk, and pounce and find a good little juicy thing. But she’s always wanted to do these crazy comments. That’s just her. She’s great.”

As for those rumors that Bay’s going to kill off her character, Mikaela Banes, in the next Transformers sequel? “No, no, no,” he said. “She gets enough of that already.”

The USA Today piece points out that Bay directs commercials for Victoria’s Secret, which is a bit of a shock. That being the case, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more pyrotechnics and giant robot genitals in our lingerie ads.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Wort Repose

I’m taking a much-needed break from my full-time job, and while I thought this would mean I’d be posting more updates than usual this week, I’m probably going to be taking it easy until after Thanksgiving. With so many great new video games currently in my grasp (Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii), I’m going to be preoccupied for the next few days in a very good way. Plus, I do sort of need to sleep in and relax for a change.

Even if I don’t blog, I’m still writing my weekly reviews of Heroes and Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the good people at Broken Frontier, so check those out on the odd chance that you’re jonesin’ for James Wortman. And, if you are, you should probably know that there are far better things to be addicted to—elective surgery, for example.

11/24 Update: Well, that break sure as heck didn’t last! I'm like the Jay-Z or Brett Favre of mildly popular nerd bloggers...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Star Trek Hits DVD and Blu-ray

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot is, hands down, one of the best films of 2009. It’s funny, there’s a ton of action and it makes Star Trek accessible to general audiences for the first time in a long time. I’m not an obsessive Star Trek fan (although I do own the original series and the first six movies on DVD), but I saw this film twice in theaters and have since watched it twice at home. I’ll still probably watch it at least once more before Thanksgiving rolls around. Yes, a Star Wars geek is fawning over Star Trek. Deal with it.

Since I haven’t made that jump to Blu-ray just yet (reminder: Christmas is next month), I picked up the two-disc DVD set on Tuesday, and I’m surprised how well this movie holds up on repeat viewings. And while surely not as in-depth as the Blu-ray, I dig the DVD special features, which include a few making-of featurettes and deleted scenes. My favorite sequence that didn’t make the cut? When the film’s Romulan villain Nero (Eric Bana) is captured by Klingons. Abrams and crew will probably revisit the Klingons in the sequels, and I can live with that.

Speaking of sequels, SCI FI Wire reports that we will likely be seeing the next installment in the revamped Trek franchise in 2012. At the November 16 DVD/Blu-ray launch party, Abrams and his crew also let loose with some minor spoilers. According to producer/writer Damon Lindelof, the sequel might feature some time shifting.

“One of the things we like to do as storytellers is drop you in the middle of something,” Lindelof said. “And the question that you're asking yourself is: Where am I in relation to the last time I left these guys? Could this be something that predated even, perhaps, some of the adventures that they had in the first movie? Does it happen five years later? Is it happening two seconds later? Who knows? So we’re not going to tell you.”

Abrams also hinted that the film will deepen the romance between Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and successfully dodged a question regarding the possibility of revisiting iconic Trek baddie Khan Noonien Singh.

“We’re not even at that stage yet, but the fun of where we are on the sequel is we could use some of what was done before in a new way,” Abrams said, to which co-writer Roberto Orci added, “That’ll be kind of a groupthink decision.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Sells Almost Five Million Copies on Day of Release

It might be old news to many of you fellow gamers out there, but I felt it was important to acknowledge that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold an estimated 4.7 million copies in its first 24 hours on sale. According to gaming blog Kotaku, Call of Duty publisher Activision is calling Modern Warfare 2’s November 10 release “the biggest launch in history across all forms of entertainment,” raking in $310 million in the United States and the United Kingdom alone. Incredible.

I’ve been debating whether or not it’s necessary for me to write an in-depth review of Modern Warfare 2 at this point, especially since most people who are interested in this title probably own it already. I could talk about how its campaign storyline is better than that of just about any recent Hollywood war film. I could wax poetic about its exhaustive multiplayer options, phenomenal graphics and gritty realism. I could even tell you that it might be the best game of 2009. But I won’t. Or maybe I just did. Whatever.

Bottom line? Modern Warfare 2 kicks all kinds of ass.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season One Explodes Onto DVD and Blu-ray

I’m always surprised when I run into a Star Wars fan that isn’t watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but I certainly don’t blame them for being skeptical. When the feature-length premiere was released theatrically in August of 2008, it was thoroughly savaged by audiences and critics (myself included) for its bizarrely stylized character designs, awkward pacing and poor attempts at humor. When that movie opened, as Obi-Wan Kenobi might say, it was as if millions of geeks suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

But then the television series debuted on Cartoon Network that fall, and it started off pretty good. Then it got really good. Today, as its second season rolls on, it might be one of the best pure action-adventure shows on television.

So, yeah, it’s worth checking out.

While smaller compilations of Clone Wars episodes have been released in the past, Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season One, now available, collects all 22 episodes in a single set, including seven director’s cuts as well as companion featurettes for each installment. The set is also packaged with an exclusive 68-page production journal. Exclusive to the Blu-ray set is an interactive Jedi Temple Holocron Vault with more than three hours of additional content.

Since this set hit shelves, I’ve gotten the chance to re-watch each of these episodes, many of which I haven’t seen since they originally aired. Save for a few misfires—namely the Jar Jar Binks-centric “Bombad Jedi”—this entire season holds up incredibly well, particularly the later episodes. The Clone Wars has also introduced some pretty cool new characters, namely plucky teenage Padawan Ahsoka Tano and the sinister bounty hunter Cad Bane, who made his debut in the incredible season finale, “Hostage Crisis,” my favorite episode thus far.

Supervising director Dave Filoni and his team should be congratulated for crafting a show for young audiences while at the same time appeasing longtime fans of the franchise. If you love Star Wars, you pretty much need to own this set.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Activision Blizzard Announces the Call of Duty Endowment to Benefit Veterans

If you’re a gamer, you know that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is available as of midnight last night. But if you’re an American you also know that Veterans Day is tomorrow, November 11.

Acknowledging that this hotly anticipated title will likely be among the biggest releases this year, publisher Activision Blizzard has established the Call of Duty Endowment (CODE), a non-profit benefit corporation that will direct resources to groups helping American soldiers transition to civilian careers. The publisher will use proceeds from sales of the game to fund the endowment.

At the November 10 launch of the initiative in Washington, DC, Activision Blizzard pledged to raise and donate millions of dollars to bolster awareness of veteran unemployment through CODE. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 500,000 unemployed veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 currently living in the United States.

Additionally, CODE announced a $125,000 grant made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), an organization that offers career services to veterans with disabilities, especially those with spinal cord injuries. The grant money will help underwrite the cost of a new PVA Vocational Rehabilitation Services Center in Boston.

As pumped as I am about Modern Warfare 2, I’m even more excited knowing that the money I’ve spent on it will benefit the real-life heroes on whom this franchise is based. For more info on CODE, visit callofdutyendowment.org.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Will Khan Return in the Next Star Trek Movie?


Like most New Yorkers, I’m pretty stoked about the Yankees’ 27th world championship win last night, but allow me to remove my baseball cap for a moment and put on my rubber Vulcan ears. I’ve got a Star Trek sequel update! 

Director J.J. Abrams recently told MTV News that while the next installment in the rebooted series is still in the writing stages, he’s not averse to including Khan, the franchise’s fan-favorite baddie played by the late Ricardo Montalb├ín, in the anticipated film. Introduced in first-season Star Trek episode “Space Seed,” Khan emerged as a sci-fi icon in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, widely regarded as the best film in the series.

“Now that we are in a parallel existence with what fans of the original series love so much, we could introduce any number of characters, settings, references and situations that the original series introduced,” Abrams told MTV’s Josh Horowitz. “Dealing with Khan would certainly be a challenge, but we had an equal challenge in finding our crew of the Enterprise.”

Fortunately, whether or not Khan features prominently in the next film or in future sequels, Abrams isn’t planning on rehashing what we’ve already seen. Smart move. Having said that, my fingers are crossed for more tribbles and half-naked green women. A man can dream.

“While I don’t want to approach the second film as a remake of episodes we’ve seen in the past...nothing is off limits in terms of what we’re discussing,” said Abrams.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pondering Paranormal Activity

I finally got a chance to see Paranormal Activity over the Halloween weekend, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it quite a bit. While a vocal minority has dismissed the low-budget thriller as a lukewarm Blair Witch Project rip-off, I think it accomplishes quite a bit in the scare department without resorting to cheap, blood-and-guts shock tactics. It even succeeds as a teaching tool. Confused? Read on.

Shot in a faux-documentary style and presented as recovered footage, Paranormal Activity, written and directed by Oren Peli, is about a young couple plagued by what seems to be a demonic spirit. In response to a series of strange occurrences in the house, much of which is directed at his girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston), Micah (Micah Sloat) decides to buy a video camera in an attempt to record these phenomena. But as Micah’s fascination with this supernatural presence deepens, the entity’s actions become far more dangerous.

While terrifying in its own right, Paranormal Activity is also an effective morality tale. Its message? Try not to be such a douchebag. If you think you know more than a demonologist when it comes to dealing with an evil spirit, you don’t. If a psychic tells you that trying to contact a demon with a Ouija board is a bad idea, it is. If verbally challenging a demon only intensifies its malice toward your girlfriend, stop. Bad things will most certainly happen.

Learn from Micah: don’t be a dick. Ghosts (and most people, believe it or not) tend to hate that.