Sunday, May 30, 2010

Michael Bay to Reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Franchise

First off, here’s wishing each and every one of you a happy Memorial Day weekend. I should also add that I apologize for the relatively sporadic updates as of late. I’ve been settling into a phenomenal new job, and I’m trying desperately to maintain some semblance of a work/life balance. Nevertheless, I’m going to try to update two or three times a week, provided that the nerd news is juicy enough to comment on. I think Deadline.com’s report that Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes is rebooting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie franchise certainly qualifies.

According to the article, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon have enlisted Bay’s Platinum Dunes to produce a live-action reboot of the TMNT series, which New Line Cinema launched in 1990. So, Cowabunga? Well, maybe not. The Internet is already up in arms about this news, with many claiming that Bay will “ruin” the Turtles as he did Transformers. Pee jokes and racial stereotypes anyone? How about exploding pizzas?

All jokes aside, I’m less worried about Bay’s involvement than most people. After all, it’s not like he’ll be sitting in the director’s seat. What does worry me is the fact that Platinum Dunes has pretty much cornered the market on mediocre remakes of classic horror franchises (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, for example). Thus, there’s little indication that they will steer this property in the right direction.

If you troll a few message boards, you’re likely to come across more than a few children of the 1980s hoping that this Turtles reboot will take the franchise back to its gritty, black-and-white comic book roots. Sure, while it would be nice to see a faithful adaptation of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s independent comic book series, the reality is that the pizza-lovin’ goofballs introduced in the cartoon and the live-action movies were far more marketable. It's likely that Turtles movies will always lean in that direction, but how about a PG-13 relaunch that brings some edge to these characters without alienating the kids?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Filmmakers Aim to Adapt, Ruin Mass Effect

Remember how movies based on video games, as a rule, totally suck? Okay, good.

Moving right along, I’ve just learned via The Hollywood Reporter that Legendary Pictures has purchased the movie rights to Mass Effect, BioWare’s phenomenal 2007 space opera that spawned an even better sequel this past January. Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) is reportedly in talks to write the movie, which is being produced by Avi and Ari Arad alongside Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni.

Now, I always get fanboy douche chills whenever one of my favorite video game franchises makes that doomed voyage to the silver screen, but a Mass Effect movie? Aside from the fact that both Mass Effect games are pretty lengthy (each took me about 20 hours to complete, give or take), one of the primary appeals of this series is that ever-important element of choice. You choose Commander Shepard’s gender, appearance, past, abilities and moral choices. By stripping Mass Effect of that level of immersion, you’re left with a universe—as intricate and cinematic as it is—that’s far too similar to Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and other existing science fiction properties to stand on its own as a piece of non-interactive entertainment. To the general public, a Mass Effect movie will be wrongfully received as a Wars/Trek knockoff. This franchise is better than that.

THR notes that BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will serve as executive producers on the adaptation, which should provie Mass Effect fans a glimmer of hope. After all, one of the main problems with these game-to-movie translations (from Super Mario Bros. right on down) is that the creative forces that made the source material so compelling are seldom involved. Perhaps the BioWare guys will keep this project focused and give some pointers as to how a story that depended so much on audience (player) involvement can work as a feature length film. Since the project is still in its infancy, it’s difficult to say whether or not that will be the case.

But until we hear otherwise, the game-to-movie curse lives on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Megan Fox Booted from Transformers 3

For many of you, this news will serve as yet another reason not to see Transformers 3.

According to Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke, Paramount will not be picking up Megan Fox’s option on Transformers 3 and, reportedly, the decision to oust her from the blockbuster flick rested with Michael Bay.

Considering the fact that Megan Fox has been trashing the director in the press over the past year or so, saying he’s “like Hitler on his sets” among other disparaging remarks, it’s not all that surprising that Bay dumped her. However, Bay did seem to confirm Fox’s involvement in the film late last year when he confirmed its release date: July 1, 2011.

“P.S. Megan Fox, welcome back,” Bay wrote in an October posting on his website. “I promise no alien robots will harm you in any way during the production of this motion picture.”

Well, I guess he was half right, since it’ll be some other hot, young starlet of questionable acting talent on the run from evil alien robots next summer when Transformers 3 hits theater.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Heroes Is Officially Canceled

Cancellation or mercy killing? According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC won’t be bringing Heroes back for a fifth season due to its high budget and low ratings.

Last month, NBC was reportedly toying with the idea of ordering a 13-episode final season of the struggling superhero series, but the network apparently wasn’t interested in giving Heroes yet another chance to redeem itself (this would have been its third).

I wanted to like the fourth (and now final) season of Heroes, since I honestly believe the writers were making an effort to get this show back on track. Unfortunately, the season’s increasingly unfocused narratives and downright frustrating plot twists made it unwatchable at times. Hell, not even a much-advertised girl-on-girl kiss (the ultimate act of prime-time desperation) between Claire Bennet (Hayden Panetierre) and her college roommate could lure back Heroes’ formerly sizable viewership.

Sources told THR that the series could return for a special or television movie to wrap up all of its loose ends, but Heroes fans (if there are any at this point) probably shouldn’t hold their breath.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Racist Robots Won’t Return in Transformers 3

There were plenty of problems with last summer’s inexplicably lucrative Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but the film’s most glaring insult to American moviegovers was the inclusion of two foul-mouthed, illiterate Autobots named Mudflap and Skids, arguably the most blatant black stereotypes in recent cinematic history.

Fortunately, director Michael Bay has confirmed on his official website, Shoot for the Edit, that the racist robots known as The Twins won’t be making a return appearance in Transformers 3, which is slated for release on July 1, 2011.

“The Twins are not back in T3,” Bay wrote in a message board post on the subject. Has this notorious explosion enthusiast realized the error of his ways, or is he just focusing his energy on creating new needlessly controversial characters? I guess we’ll all find out next summer when Transformers 3 hits theaters.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sony Announces Men in Black 3 in 3D

It’s official: Sony Pictures announced on May 7 that Men in Black 3 will be released on May 25, 2012. Series star Will Smith (Agent J) has already signed on for the 3D film along with Barry Sonnenfeld, who directed the original film and its lesser sequel. The studio is in talks to sign Men in Black veteran Tommy Lee Jones as well as Josh Brolin, who would play a younger version of Jones’ Agent K character.

Wait, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin might both be in Men in Black 3? And they’re not calling it No Country for Old Men in Black? Sigh.

(Via Ain’t It Cool News)

Iron Man 2 Earns $134 Million Over Opening Weekend

Director Jon Favreau’s highly anticipated sequel to his 2008 breakout smash Iron Man earned an estimated $133.6 million domestically in its debut weekend, Deadline.com reports. The film, running in 4,380 North American theaters, raked in $52.4 million on Friday alone, including $7.5 million from Thursday midnight shows in about 3,000 locations. The film has amassed $194 million overseas, putting its global take at around $327 million.

Unfortunately there are some people out there who are disappointed by these numbers, since modern-day Hollywood economics dictate that any new blockbuster must have a record-breaking opening weekend to be considered a hit. Iron Man 2’s weekend gross puts it behind the three-day totals of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight, but glowing reviews and positive word of mouth will likely ensure the superhero sequel’s success in the long run.

As an unrelenting fanboy, I went to a packed midnight screening of Iron Man 2 and thoroughly enjoyed it. While I wouldn’t say it’s better than the first film, it’s a whole hell of a lot of fun and met my fairly lofty expectations.

Click here to read my full review at Broken Frontier.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Star Wars Day!

For some of us—myself included—just about every day is a Star Wars kind of day. But what some of you might not know is that May 4th is unofficially recognized by many fans as Star Wars Day. Why, you might ask? Because it lets wordplay-loving geeks say “May the 4th be with you” to one another. Yep, this exists.

“It’s nice that this particular date seems to observe and celebrate the power of the Force, and we’re thrilled that Star Wars fans continue to find new ways to connect with a galaxy far, far away,” a Lucasfilm spokesperson told the New York Daily News.

The holiday has flourished in recent years—mostly thanks to the Internet—with people around the globe planning Star Wars-themed parties and movie marathons.

Your move, Cinco de Mayo.