Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A 'Piranha 3D' Sequel Is Spawning!

We’re all a bit baffled by the surprise success of Piranha 3D—Alexandre Aja’s three-dimensional rehash of Joe Dante’s 1978 schlocky creature flick—but with a $10 million opening weekend and a surprisingly generous critical reception, a sequel to the gloriously bloody horror comedy is already in the works.

“We are thrilled that audiences are not just loving Piranha 3D, but cheering for it,” producer Mark Canton said in a statement. “And it’s fantastic that so many critics are really getting the movie and recommending it. We can’t wait to get to work on the sequel.”

Suck it, Eat Pray Love.

In spite of my love of B-movies, I’ve yet to see this bad-on-purpose epic, but if all I’ve heard about its over-the-top gore (in 3D!) and gratuitous nudity (in 3D!) is true, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. Get it? Sink my teeth? Comedy.

To read more about the Piranha 3D sequel, head over to MTV.com.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A 'Today' Interview Strikes Back

I came across this gem on Topless Robot earlier today. Video website Devour recently unearthed a 1980 Today interview with Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, which aired just one week before The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters. Observe the contrast between Hamill’s youthful exuberance and Ford’s already-apparent disinterest in the Star Wars franchise.

Watch part 1 below.

Bryan Singer Reveals 'X-Men: First Class' Details

Call me a cynic, but I just haven’t been able to muster up any real excitement about Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class recently. Yes, based on what we saw with Kick-Ass, Vaughn is a capable director when it comes to comic book adaptations. And, yes, the fact that X-Men and X2: X-Men United director Bryan Singer is returning to produce the forthcoming prequel inspires some confidence. But let’s be honest: half of the X-Men movies have been utter garbage (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and if we look back at the original two films, they haven’t aged as well as we might have hoped. So why should we, comic book nerds, really care about a prequel film in a franchise that we only kinda, sorta care about in 2010?

Well, Singer himself recently gave a few reasons for us to start paying attention when he called Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles. Here are a few of the details Singer touched on:
  • The film takes place in the 1960s, grounding it firmly in the civil rights movement.
  • We’ll get to see Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) with hair, before he is bound to a wheelchair. Both he and his eventual nemesis Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) will be in their late 20s.
  • January Jones and Kevin Bacon are playing Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, meaning that the Hellfire Club will play a major role in the film.
  • X-Men: First Class will have an “international” feel, giving it what Knowles describes as a “James Bond vibe.”
  • The costumes will be “far more comic bookish.” Does that mean Cyclops, Jean Grey and co. will be donning the old-school blue and yellow tights? Stay tuned, True Believers.
X-Men: First Class starts filming on August 31. For the full story, click here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Looking Back and Moving Forward at Star Wars Celebration V

As most geeks are probably well aware, Star Wars Celebration V took place this past weekend in Orlando (ha, Lando). This particular Force-centric convention celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, considered by many to be the best film in the saga, but it also clued fans in on some upcoming developments pertaining to that galaxy far, far away.

George Lucas and co. unveiled an exciting new trailer for the anticipated third season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which kicks off September 17. The clip introduces Savage Oppress, a servant of the dark side and a formidable new threat to the Galactic Republic. Oppress is a Zabrak, the same species as Phantom Menace baddie Darth Maul. I’m guessing he’s savage and, well, oppresses people from time to time. Sigh.

“It’s important that when creating a new character that they become iconic,” says Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni. “It was important that you don’t confuse him with Darth Maul—we couldn’t make him red and black so we made him yellow and black.”

Okay, cool, I dig the look of the character (pictured above), but the name? After General Grievous, Cad Bane and now this guy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next major Star Wars villain gets saddled with the name Evil Vicious. it’s almost as if the creative team at Lucasfilm just picks synonyms for “bad” out of the thesaurus and calls it a day when it comes to naming new villains. I’d go on, but since The Clone Wars is an excellent show overall, I’ll let the lazy monikers slide for now.

Perhaps the biggest piece of Star Wars news to come out of Celebration V was the announcement that the entire Star Wars saga will arrive on Blu-ray in the fall of 2011. The boxed set will feature all six films and extensive special features, including deleted scenes. Among this never-before-released footage is an introductory sequence from Return of the Jedi that shows Luke Skywalker building his lightsaber.

Reportedly (and expectedly), the set will not include the unaltered pre-Special Edition versions of the first three films. On the contrary, we’d all be wise to expect entirely new alterations to the original trilogy when the set hits shelves next fall.

For complete Celebration V coverage, visit StarWars.com.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

'BioShock' Takes to the Skies

As much as I loved the original 2007 BioShock, I could never bring myself to purchase its sequel, released earlier this year. I’d heard good things, but the general critical consensus was that it was well crafted, but it was essentially a retread of the first game. Now, if you’re aiming to rehash a game, BioShock certainly provided a great template: it was fun, engrossing, looked amazing and provided a great deal of story without force-feeding it to the player. I welcomed a return to the underwater dystopia of Rapture, but part of me wanted something new and fresh for the follow-up that would justify shelling out another $60. Fortunately, Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite looks to be exactly what I was waiting for. After all, what better way to freshen up the franchise than by taking it from the depths of the ocean to the clouds?

BioShock Infinite takes place in 1912 in the airborne, hyper-patriotic American city of Columbia. Gaming blog Kotaku reports that Irrational—which did not develop BioShock 2—has been working on this project since wrapping up the original BioShock.

Although it takes place prior to the first game, Irrational’s creative director Ken Levin does not consider it a prequel.

“I don’t want to think about that,” Levine told Kotaku. “I don’t think it’s particularly constructive to have that conversation.”

But, like in the first game, BioShock Infinite transports the player to a crumbling would-be utopia. Levine describes it as a symbol of turn-of-the-century American Exceptionalism.

“This is not a floating world’s fair,” he said. “Columbia is a Death Star.”

Consider my interest piqued. Click here to watch the trailer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Spider-Man Musical’s in Full Swing?

Troubled Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—featuring music by U2’s Bono and The Edge—is apparently finally happening, with an official opening night set for December 21.

According to The Onion’s A.V. Club, the Julie Taymor-directed rock opera starring the Wallcrawler boasts a whopping $52 million budget, making it the most expensive musical in history. But will the show be worth the massive price tag, True Believers? We’ll all find out when preview performances begin November 14.

Click here for show info.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

This ‘Yogi Bear’ Poster Gave Me Nightmares

During my routine perusal of nerd news blog Topless Robot yesterday, I came across this startling new poster for Warner Bros. CGI/live-action Yogi Bear movie, which hits theaters later this year. Now, I’d seen the trailer for this sure-to-be trainwreck earlier in the week, and it initially seemed as tame, innocuous and easy-to-ignore as other CGI/live-action cartoon revivals such as Scooby Doo and Alvin and the Chipmunks. But after absorbing the poster’s imagery, character positioning and verbiage (“Great things come in bears.”) over the last 24 hours or so, I’m convinced that Warner Bros. is actively going out of its way to market this movie as pedophilic animal porn for kids. In 3D. Yeesh.

If you wish to further subject yourself to the sick and twisted horrors of Jellystone, visit the movie’s official site.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Italian Stallion in the Millennium Falcon?

It’s pretty safe to say that Star Wars would have been a lot different if Sylvester Stallone—not Harrison Ford—had played rogue smuggler-turned-hero Han Solo. But guess what? It very well could have happened.

In an Ain’t It Cool News Q&A session, one fan asked the iconic action star if there was any truth behind rumors that he auditioned for the role of Han Solo in the original Star Wars film. Sly confirmed this speculation, explaining that his audition “didn’t meet with much approval” and that when he stood in front of George Lucas, the Star Wars creator didn’t look at him once.

Stallone added, “[B]ut it all worked out for the best, since I don’t look good in spandex holding a ray gun.”

You can’t argue with him there. Plus, it’s hard to picture the likes of Rocky Balboa or John Rambo putting up with Ewoks.

Stallone’s latest film, The Expendables, opens August 13.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

‘Kick-Ass’ Indeed

Kick-Ass is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Here’s an excerpt from my review of the film, originally published on Broken Frontier earlier this year.

If a movie bears the title Kick-Ass, it’s opening itself up to a great deal of criticism if it doesn’t, well, kick ass. Fortunately, Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s acclaimed Marvel comic book series is a bold, bare-knuckled and bloody hilarious deconstruction of superheroes as adolescent power fantasies.

Like the comic book, the film follows Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a dorky comic book fan who often asks himself the question we’ve all pondered at one point or another: “How come nobody’s ever tried to be a superhero?” While lacking in a proper superhero origin story and—perhaps most importantly—super-powers or crime-fighting ability, Dave creates a costumed alter-ego. Donning a scuba suit he purchased online, Dave’s first outing as a masked vigilante proves unsuccessful, as he’s beaten up, stabbed and hit by a car. Following his multi-faceted pummeling, Dave spends several weeks in the hospital, having his bones reinforced with metal plates (much like Wolverine, as he points out). Additionally, he’s suffered nerve damage, increasing his threshold for pain.
With his newfound ability to take a beating, Dave once again takes to the streets as Kick-Ass, fast becoming an Internet celebrity after his parking lot brawl with some gang members finds its way onto YouTube. Dave starts a Kick-Ass MySpace page, becoming a hero-for-hire of sorts. Unfortunately, Dave’s antics attract the attention of mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), whose henchmen are being targeted by a masked crime fighter. Clearly, D’Amico thinks, this Kick-Ass character must be the one responsible. With the help of his comic book-loving son (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, more or less reprising his McLovin role from Superbad), D’Amico aims to take down Kick-Ass, even though the father-daughter team of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (Nicolas Cage and ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) are the real culprits and, unlike Kick-Ass, are very, very good at the whole superhero thing.

Johnson, a relative unknown in the United States, does an excellent job as Dave/Kick-Ass, clearly aping Tobey Maguire’s performance in the Spider-Man films to sell Kick-Ass not only as a winking commentary on superheroes in general, but on superhero movies as well. He’s particularly effective during his scenes with Lyndsy Fonseca, who plays Dave’s high school crush Katie Deauxma. With all of this film’s craziness—especially in its third act—it’s this somewhat bizarre teen romance that keeps Kick-Ass in perspective. After all, with Big Daddy and Hit-Girl stealing so many scenes of this movie, we often forget this is really Dave’s coming-of-age story.

And it is that teaming of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl that winds up being the most entertaining aspect of the movie. Big Daddy, who is actually former cop Damon Macready, has trained his daughter Mindy from a very young age to fight crime alongside him. You see, D’Amico framed Damon years ago, and his wife died during childbirth while he was in prison. Now, Damon and Mindy wage a two-person war against the mob.

Simply put, this is Cage’s best performance in years, especially when he dons the Big Daddy costume and does an uproariously funny imitation of Adam West’s Batman. The staccato speech pattern is quirky and jarring at first, but it’s also something we’d expect from a character that’s just as likely to shoot his 11-year-old daughter in the chest (she’s wearing a bullet-proof vest) as he is to wear mustache extensions while suited up to fight crime.

As for Hit-Girl, well, she’s likely the most memorable thing about this movie. What’s not to love about a purple-haired, pint-sized, foul-mouthed, femme fatale who mows down Mafia goons with relative ease? Hit-Girl’s no role model for the youth of today, but we love her anyway. Moretz has previously appeared in (500) Days of Summer and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but we’ll probably be hearing a lot more about her in the years to come. This is a star-making performance.

Click here to read the full review.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Thing Is …

Although hardly the biggest problem with Fox’s Fantastic Four films, most fans pretty much hated Michael Chiklis’ awkward, foamy Thing costume, which more closely resembled delicious sponge cake than not-so-delicious orange rock. Fortunately, Screen Rant reports, the studio is going the CGI route for the character in the franchise’s much-needed reboot, officially titled Fantastic Four Reborn.

Well, let’s at least hope the special effects work in the film is more creative than its title. Fantastic Four Reborn? They might as well call it Fantastic Four Rebooted. Maybe next time.

Click here here for the full story.