Friday, April 30, 2010

Slave Leia Car Wash!

This story started making the rounds on the blogosphere a few days ago, but I was saving it for Friday. After all, why not ring in the weekend with footage of Slave Leias washing cars?

Last weekend, G4’s Attack of the Show teamed with the 501st Legion—an international Star Wars fan organization—for a charity car wash benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Indeed, the Force is strong with this one. Watch the video below.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bill Murray Calls Ghostbusters 3 “Hogwash”

Sure, there has been a lot of news about Ghostbusters 3 over the last year or so, but it’s beginning to seem less and less likely the film will ever materialize. During an early March appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, series star Bill Murray dismissed the anticipated sequel as “crazy talk.” Later that month, Vulture reported that Columbia Pictures was trying to remove Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman from the project in favor of a younger director. So what’s the deal? Are we getting more Ecto Cooler or not?

In a recent interview with Cinema Blend, Murray once again trashed the idea of a third Ghostbusters flick, calling it a “myth.”

“All this talk is just talk,” he said. “Until someone actually creates a great script it’s just hogwash, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Reportedly, the writing team of Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg (The Office) has already turned in a script. Has Murray not yet read the script, or was he just unimpressed with it? As Cinema Blend points out, these guys wrote the script for the abysmal Year One, so it’s very likely that what they came up with just wasn’t that good.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heroes Might Return for a Final Season

It looks like Heroes could be getting yet another shot at redemption. According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC is expected to order a 13-episode “final season” of the struggling superhero drama.

Honesty time: If I hadn’t been writing weekly Heroes recaps for Broken Frontier, I probably would have abandoned this series about midway through the third season. Had I done that, I would have missed out on a few cool moments peppered throughout season four, but I also would have spared myself the aggravation of some bizarre storylines and nonsensical character progression that rendered the series unwatchable at times.

If creator Tim Kring and the gang are really going through with 13 more episodes of Heroes—which might actually be kind of cool since last season ended with “specials” entering the public eye—let’s hope they’re serious about it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Black Widow Spin-Off a Possibility!

What’s better than seeing Scarlett Johansson in skin-tight leather? Seeing Scarlett Johansson in skin-tight leather again. At the Iron Man 2 press conference in Los Angeles last week, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said that a Black Widow spin-off film starring ScarJo is “definitely possible,” /Film reports.

Johansson’s contract includes a role in the upcoming Avengers team-up film, as well as appearances in other Marvel Studios films, which could include spin-offs. I can’t imagine many fanboys having a problem with this news, can you?

Iron Man 2
hits theaters May 7.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Men in Black 3: Old and Busted or New Hotness?

Old franchises just won’t stay down in Hollywood these days, even when they’re really not that old. The first Men in Black flick—teaming Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as government agents who police and monitor extraterrestrial activity on Earth—was released in the summer of 1997. The Barry Sonnenfeld flick was a hit, and, to my young mind at the time, was reminiscent of the original Ghostbusters film with its blend of action, comedy and bizarre creatures. Like Ghostbusters, the film spawned an animated series, toys and a lesser sequel that never quite lived up to the original. When the second Men in Black film landed with a resounding thud in 2002, most of us suspected the series had run its course. But according to Sonnenfeld, it hasn’t.

The director recently told Showbiz 411 that Smith and Jones are confirmed for Men in Black 3, which could hit theaters as early as next summer. MTV’s Splash Page blog reports that the film was greenlit in October, and that Tropic Thunder scribe Etan Cohen is attached to write it. The film is rumored to revolve around Smith’s character, Agent J, going back in time and teaming with another version of Jones’ character, Agent K.

Oh, and the movie’s apparently going to be in 3D, but you probably saw that coming.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

James Cameron: Avatar Sequel Will Go Underwater

Unless you’ve been living under a rock on a faraway moon (and keeping all of that unobtainium for yourself, you greedy blue bastard), you probably know that Avatar, the biggest movie of all time, hits Blu-ray and DVD this week. In anticipation of the film’s April 22 (Earth Day) home video release, director James Cameron told the Los Angeles Times that while he’s already taken viewers through the lush jungles of Pandora, he has a new locale in mind for the sequel.

“I’ve already announced this, so I might as well say it: Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment—a different setting within Pandora,” he said. “And I’m going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won’t be a rain forest. I’m not saying we won’t see what we’ve already seen; we’ll see more of that as well.”

As movie buffs might recall, Cameron’s post-Titanic, pre-Avatar documentaries involved underwater exploration, so this is right up his alley. And if the wacky creature designs in the first film are any indication, it’s a safe bet the inhabitants of Pandora’s oceans are at least somewhat nightmare inducing. This is a good thing.

As for a third—and presumably final—Avatar film? Cameron’s ready to take us to other worlds. “We created a broad canvas for the environment of film,” he explained. “That’s not just on Pandora, but throughout the Alpha Centauri AB system. And we expand out across that system and incorporate more into the story—not necessarily in the second film, but more toward a third film.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lucasfilm Confirms Star Wars on Blu-ray

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. IGN reports that all six Star Wars films will finally be making their way to Blu-ray sometime soon.

During the Star Wars panel at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Lucasfilm’s director of fan relations Steve Sansweet confirmed—without going into specifics—that the high-definition release of the Star Wars saga “won’t be in the too distant future.”

“We have been at work for a couple of years working on—I won't call it the Ultimate Set because we keep finding stuff—but, a very full set of all six movies on Blu-ray with lots of extra material,” Sansweet explained. “We're finding all kinds of scenes from dailies that have never been seen before. Beyond all of those things that you know about… there are some real treasures.”

So the bottom line is that while Star Wars is finally arriving in this new format, these won’t be the definitive versions of the films (those will come later). Again, you shouldn’t be surprised.

Sansweet also dropped a massive bombshell concerning another Star Wars animated series. When a fan said during the Q&A portion of the panel that they would love to see the post-Return of the Jedi adventures of Han, Luke and Leia, Sansweet replied, “And you will, in the new animation.”

Whoa! Let the speculation begin!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Director Paul Verhoeven Calls RoboCop “the American Jesus”

You know, ever since I sat down and watched Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop analytically for an introductory film class at UConn, I’ve thought that the 1987 action flick’s story of resurrection and salvation was an obvious allusion to the story of Jesus Christ. But in a recent interview with MTV, Verhoeven confirmed my suspicions, saying that RoboCop (Peter Weller) is, essentially, “the American Jesus.”

“The point of RoboCop, of course, is it is a Christ story,” Verhoeven said. “It is about a guy that gets crucified after 50 minutes, then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes and then is like the super-cop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end.”

Wait, walking on water? During RoboCop’s climactic battle against Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his thugs in an abandoned steel mill, the titular robotic (and apparently messianic) law enforcer walks across a shallow pool of water and says the line, “I am not arresting you anymore.” “Meaning,” Verhoeven said, “‘I’m going to shoot you.’ And that is, of course, the American Jesus.”

Wow. Verhoeven also weighed in on the planned RoboCop remake. While he’s not against someone else taking a crack at his creation, he does think that part of the original film’s charm is that, due to budget constraints, it was pretty low-tech from a visual effects standpoint.

“I'm not so sure that [CGI and other modern effects] would improve the soul of the movie,” he told MTV.

Mass Effect 2 DLC: Stolen Memories, Money

Let me preface this post by saying that Mass Effect 2 is among the best games I’ve ever played. Even after two playthroughs with two different Commander Shepards (one male and one female), I still find myself consistently drawn to this second chapter in BioWare’s meticulously-crafted space opera. So when I learned that Electronic Arts and BioWare were releasing “Kasumi’s Stolen Memory,” the first piece of premium downloadable content (DLC) for the game, I knew I needed to own it. After all, 560 Microsoft Points ($7) seemed at first like a small price to pay for a new mission, new weapons and a new character.

So I bought the mission pack and was introduced to a mysterious thief named Kasumi. She needs my help infiltrating a formal party so she can break into the high-security vault of smugger/weapons dealer/art aficionado Donovan Hock. In return, she’ll join the crew of the Normandy. Sounds reasonable.

I liked the secretive James Bond-esque feel of the first half of this mission, as Shepard must dismantle Hock’s security bit by bit without alarming the guests at the party. Once Shepard and Kasumi get into the vault to retrieve the titular “stolen memory” (housed in a device called a graybox), the mission more closely resembles a standard Mass Effect 2 loyalty mission, with legions of faceless enemy soldiers and mechs to mow down before a final showdown with Hock. It was over in just an hour, which is consistent with other loyalty missions in the game. But, then again, we didn’t have to pay extra for any of those.

While some hardcore Mass Effect fans might argue that “Kasumi’s Stolen Memory” is worth the $7 it costs to download in spite of its brevity and the fact that Kasumi isn’t overwhelmingly interesting character-wise, the premium DLC trend is becoming a bit alarming. Why wasn’t this mission included in the release version of the game? Why must fans of the game shell out more than the $60 retail price of the game just to round out the crew of the Normandy? This is akin to a book publisher releasing an unfinished novel and asking readers to pay for additional chapters a few months later. Very lame.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jimmy Fallon Debuts Gears of War 3 Trailer

Say what you will about Jimmy Fallon, but the man is clearly a friend of the video game community. Cliff Bleszinski, design director at Epic Games and mastermind behind the Gears of War franchise, appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon early Tuesday morning to announce that the third installment of the blockbuster Xbox 360/PC series would hit shelves in April of next year. He called Gears of War 3 “the worst-kept secret in the video game industry,” referring to the accidental reveal of the hotly anticipated title on Xbox Live last week, when Bleszinski was originally slated to appear on the show.

The Gears head (ha!) premiered a trailer, “Ashes to Ashes,” which introduces some new tentacled creatures and—at long last—a female Gear. Progress? I think so.

Watch the clip below.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jon Favreau: No “Multi-Villainitis” in Iron Man 2

If you’ve been keeping track, Iron Man 2 is set to feature up to three villains: Whiplash (Mickey Rourke), Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and, possibly, Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson). What what other superhero flicks infamously featured trios of baddies? Batman & Robin and Spider-Man 3 spring to mind.

Uh oh.

Fortunately, Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau told the Los Angeles TimesHero Complex blog that fans need not be alarmed by this abundance of adversaries.

“You want to be sure you don’t suffer from multi-villainitis,” Favreau said. “That’s been the downfall of many other superhero franchises.”

He added that each new villain serves a clear purpose. The Black Widow (real name Natasha Romanoff) is meant to shake up the relationship between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), while Justin Hammer is meant to complicate the friendship between Tony and his best pal James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle). As for Mickey Rourke, well, he’s on hand to be creepy and destroy things with energy whips. He also has a pet cockatoo. ‘Nuff said.

“When done right, a superhero movie has the character’s personal life mirroring what’s happening in their superhero world, and sometimes you have to force things to do it,” Favreau explained. “In this case, I’d say, we found an organic way to do it. We wanted both A-story and B-story to be affected by these new characters.”

Iron Man 2 hits theaters May 7.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Toxic Avenger Remake? Really?

Look, I’m not about to pretend I’m outraged that The Toxic Avenger, the ultra-violent 1984 Troma cult classic, is getting remade as a PG-13 action comedy, according to Deadline.com. Sure, I discovered the first three Toxic Avenger movies in the early 1990s thanks to late-night cable television (specifically, USA’s Up All Night, hosted by the busty Rhonda Shear), but even then, I knew these movies were crap. However, I was somehow drawn to them because I knew they were something I really shouldn’t be watching. I also got a kick out of the fact that these raunchy, gory movies were the inspiration for Toxic Crusaders, a watered-down cartoon version of the movie property that teamed mop-wielding mutant Toxie with a gang of hideously deformed—and eco-friendly—superheroes.

While the Toxic Crusaders cartoon was short-lived—as were many kiddie franchises that tried to compete with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV and in toy aisles—it looks like producers Akiva Goldsman, Richard Saperstein and Charlie Corwin are going for a similar approach, turning Toxie into a “green” and presumably less violent heroic character. The remake could spawn sequels, another animated TV series and comic books.

Speaking of comic books, I should probably point out that Goldsman wrote Batman & Robin, arguably the worst superhero film of all time. Just thought I’d point that out.

Do I think a Toxic Avenger remake is a good idea? Honestly, I typically greet remake/reboot/reimagining news like this with a shoulder shrug at this point no matter how invested I am in the property. However, I imagine hardcore Troma fans are upset about this, since the over-the-top brutality in these movies is part of their charm and is likely the reason people still talk about Toxie today. Hell, even the off-Broadway Toxic Avenger musical—which is likely responsible for the renewed interest in the franchise—features a fake gore “splatter zone” in the audience. Are general movie audiences going to be at all interested in this kinder, gentler hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength?

By the way, if you love schlock cinema and have a Netflix account, you can instantly watch The Toxic Avenger IV: Citizen Toxie, which is perhaps the most disgusting film I’ve ever seen. Ever.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tron Legacy Writers Begin Work on Sequel

Rev up those light cycles, users! We’re still a few months away from the December 17 release of Tron Legacy, but Disney is already planning a sequel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

THR’s Heat Vision blog reports that Lost writers/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz—who wrote Legacy—are already working on a third Tron film. If Legacy scores at the box office, insiders say, Disney could turn this new story into a trilogy.

To quote Bit from the original Tron, “Yesyesyesyes!”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Clash of the Titans 2: Bubo Strikes Back?

In spite of mixed reviews and an apparently universal rejection of its post-production 3D conversion process, Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans remake had a tremendously successful opening weekend, earning $61.4 million in U.S. theaters. Not surprisingly, there is already talk of expanding the new Clash into a trilogy, taking demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) and his pals on new adventures that delve deeper into Greek mythology.

“I’m not saying I know what exactly will happen to Perseus in the next two movies, but I know the direction and it’s pretty exciting,” Leterrier told MTV. “It’s ancient superheroes.”

Indeed, and Leterrier knows a thing or two about superheroes. He directed the criminally underrated The Incredible Hulk, and he’s reportedly a strong contender to direct Marvel’s team-up flick The Avengers, which is slated for a 2012 release. But even if he doesn’t land that coveted gig, the reborn Clash franchise will keep him plenty busy.

“You’ve got so many creatures, so many heroes, so many gods,” Leterrier explained. “I could spend the rest of my life directing Greek mythology movies and I would still not finish everything.”

As for Clash’s heavily criticized 3D? Leterrier added that if he gets to complete his trilogy, he’d prefer to shoot the sequels using 3D cameras instead, as James Cameron did with Avatar.

"f we ever get to do [Clash] in 3D, that would be fantastic,” Leterrier said.

I haven’t seen the new Clash yet, but I’d certainly love to see more films based around Greek mythology.

So Leterrier, get Kraken! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Just a Reminder: Tony Stark Rules

Over the Easter weekend, Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures unveiled a clip from Iron Man 2 showing Tony Stark—as Iron Man—skydiving into a packed auditorium for Stark Expo, a celebration of all things, well, him, complete with fireworks, screaming crowds and scantily-clad dancers. Indeed, it’s good to be Tony Stark, at least at this point in the film.

You can watch the clip here, and if you’re looking for more Iron Man 2 awesomeness to tide you over until the film’s May 7 release, the official site is now live.

Lucasfilm Readies Star Wars Comedy Series

Is the Force strong with this one? How about the funny? Lucasfilm has announced it is developing an animated Star Wars comedy series with the help of Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich.

The New York Times reports that the untitled television series will be produced by Jennifer Hill (The Backyardigans) and directed by Todd Grimes (Back at the Barnyard). Former Simpsons writer and Daily Show producer Brendan Hay will be on the writing team.

“There’s a lot of awesome people involved,” Green told the Times. “And even the real fanboys who are like us, and very discerning about their Star Wars material, will be won over.”

While something tells me this could potentially be that kid-friendly Star Wars series we heard about last month, it sounds like this is a separate project. If that’s the case, I’m cautiously optimistic. Robot Chicken is at its best when it’s spoofing Star Wars, so Green and Senreich’s creative involvement inspires a great deal of confidence. But with this series, The Clone Wars, the pre-school cartoon and the upcoming live-action television series, I think we’re approaching a Star Wars saturation point if we’re not there already.

Red Letter Media Roasts Attack of the Clones

It’s taken me a while to realize this, but Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones is the worst of the Star Wars prequels. But rather than bore you with the reasons Clones doesn’t really work all that well if you think about it, I’ll direct you to Red Letter Media’s uproariously funny 90-minute review of the film, which hit YouTube this weekend. In case you forgot, Red Letter Media posted an equally brilliant analysis of The Phantom Menace late last year.

“Almost everything in this movie is wrong,” says Red Letter Media’s “Mr. Plinkett,” an obsessive film buff/deranged serial murderer. “The only way to really describe it [is] to imagine that someone has dumped out five different puzzles into a pile on the floor, mixed them all up and told you to put ‘em all back together in one hour or they were gonna stuff you into an old fridge filled with flesh-eating cockroaches.”

Plinkett astutely adds, “You know, if you stand back and look at this movie as a whole, it just comes off to the viewer as some kind of assembly-line production devoid of any emotional involvement by anyone; a film that coldly exploits the works of craftsmen and artists in a sterile, computer-controlled environment resulting in a series of colorful, crisp images that are played in a sequence.”

Looking back at the film, nearly eight years after its release, it’s really hard to disagree with him. Watch the first installment of the nine-part review below, and head to Red Letter Media’s YouTube channel to watch the rest.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Backlash of the Titans

Warner Bros.’ remake of 1980s cult classic Clash of the Titans hits U.S. theaters this weekend, and the early buzz isn’t great. While many critics have taken aim at the paper-thin plot and lackluster performance by Avatar alum Sam Worthington—who plays Greek demigod Perseus in the flick—the primary flaw appears to be the 3D conversion process forced upon the film in post-production. In his less-than-glowing review, Drew McWeeny of HitFix.com calls Clash’s 3D “an unwatchable mess, ugly and strange and difficult to sit through.” He adds, “This is the polar opposite of Avatar, which was designed in 3D, shot in 3D, and which did all of its FX work with 3D in mind.”

Duncan Bowles from Den of Geek writes, “I cannot emphasize this enough: do not pay out for the 3D, as it simply isn’t there. The director [Louis Leterrier, who helmed The Incredible Hulk] didn’t even want it apparently, but lo and behold, Clash of the Titans was retro-fitted to turn a fast buck and the result is shocking. Please, please if you go and see Clash of the Titans, watch it in 2D before this whole mess gets out of hand.”

Indeed, it looks like the 3D post-conversion trend is turning out to be a massive step in the wrong direction, and it’s really just getting started. Fortunately, some directors are taking a stand. Love him or hate him, Michael Bay has emerged as a vocal opponent to the 3D conversion process, which producers have tried forcing on him for the third Transformers film. He’s not impressed.

“Right now, it looks like fake 3D, with layers that are very apparent,” Bay told Deadline.com’s Mike Fleming. “You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, ‘huh, this kind of sucks’. People can say whatever they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice.”

As I posted recently, James Cameron—the man indirectly responsible for this 3D gold rush with the massively successful Avatar—is also opposed to post-production 3D conversion, saying that 3D should be a creative decision made by the director.

“This is another example of Hollywood getting it wrong,” he said. “Now, you’ve got people quickly converting movies from 2D to 3D, which is not what we did. They’re expecting the same result, when in fact they will probably work against the adoption of 3D because they’ll be putting out an inferior product.”

Bottom line? Don’t support half-assed 3D conversions. If you want to see Clash this weekend, see it in 2D as it was meant to be seen.