Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bill Murray: ‘No One Wants to Pay Money to See Fat, Old Men Chasing Ghosts!’

Bill Murray isn’t tight-lipped about his disinterest in returning as Dr. Peter Venkman for Ghostbusters 3, but a recent story published by The National Enquirer (yes, that National Enquirer), suggests that Murray finally received the script for review…and returned it to fellow ‘busters Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in shreds. Since this story comes from the Enquirer, we should all probably take it with a grain of salt. Then again, where’s the fun in that? Time to speculate and exacerbate! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, MASS HYSTERIA!

Accompanying the purportedly shredded script—penned by Office writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky—was a note that read quite bluntly, “No one wants to pay money to see fat, old men chasing ghosts!” Now, even though Aykroyd, Ramis and veteran Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman claim that the film will go on with or without Murray, this news isn’t at all encouraging for those hoping for another sequel. As for me, I tend to agree with Bill on this one. Let it go, guys.

For more on this story, head over to Screen Rant by clicking here.

Happy New Year, Wortmaniacs!

Another year is in the history books and, regrettably, several weeks have gone by without a new entry from yours truly. As much as I love the fact that my job now takes me to new and interesting cities every week, my travel schedule has really cut into my “write about nerdy stuff” time. Frankly, when I’m not on the road or writing on very tight deadlines, the last thing I can bring myself to do is blog. Having said that, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to find the time to write for myself more often, even if it’s just a couple of sentences at a time.

Now that I’ve apologized once again for seemingly abandoning The Wort Report—which turned five in November if you can believe that—Here’s a quick rundown of awesome stuff I’ve wanted to blog about over the past few weeks:

-The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are going to own next year, based on the trailers alone. Go ahead and call me a frothing fanboy. It won’t be the first time.

-Skyrim is one of the best games I’ve ever played…and I’m really not that far into it. Any gaming experience that can make me momentarily clear my mind of social or work-related responsibilities is to be commended.

-Peppermint bark is an underrated holiday treat.

-Finding deep dish pizza in Chicago is nearly impossible on Christmas night. I now know this from experience.

Anyhow, that’s it from me for now. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for bite-sized nuggets of Wortman on a more regular basis.

Friday, December 9, 2011

‘What Would You Say if I Pissed on You and Your Scientists?’

Dayjob Orchestra are weird dudes. That is all.

Patty Jenkins Drops Out of ‘Thor 2’

That was quick. Not long after being revealed as the out-of-nowhere director chosen to direct Marvel Studios’ Thor 2, Patty Jenkins has left the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog. Jenkins—who directed Charlize Theron in Monster—cited “creative differences” as the reason for her departure.

“I have had a great time working at Marvel,” Jenkins told THR. “We parted on very good terms, and I look forward to working with them again.”

After Kenneth Branagh’s surprisingly refreshing take on Marvel’s God of Thunder, I hope the studio finds a director suited to continue the character’s solo adventures beyond next summer’s Avengers team-up film. Who do you think it should be?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joker Creator Jerry Robinson Dead at 89

Comic book artist Jerry Robinson, credited as the creator of The Joker, died on Wednesday in Staten Island at the age of 89, The New York Times reports.

It’s long been contested whether Robinson or Batman co-writer Bill Finger were responsible for conjuring up The Clown Prince of Crime—in fact Batman creator Bob Kane contends that he and Finger were responsible for the character and that Robinson had little or nothing to do with it. However, comic book historians argue otherwise.

Robinson is also credited with helping create Batman’s sidekick Robin and the dichotomy-obsessed baddie Two-Face.

Although this is a sad day for comic book fans, it’s also a chance to honor the fact that Robinson brought to life the perfect foil to The Dark Knight, and introduced the world to a character that has thrived in every medium from comic books to animation to live-action feature films to video games. In fact, I’d say The Joker ranks right up there with Darth Vader among the best villains of all time.

For the full story, click here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Prologue to Screen before ‘Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol’


The rumors are true. MTV News reports that a six-minute prologue to The Dark Knight Rises will run on select IMAX prints of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol when the spy sequel hits theaters on Dec. 16.

According to the article, the brief clip—said to be the film’s opening sequence—will only play before Ghost Protocol on screens using true IMAX 70 mm projection. A mere 42 screens in the U.S. and Canada will show it.

I’m not sure if this convinces me to see Ghost Protocol—I barely remember seeing the third Mission Impossible movie to be honest—but this is undeniably a smart marketing move by Warner Bros. However, I think it’d be even smarter to widen the release to all IMAX screens whether or not they meet that specification, but what do I know?

For a full list of theaters playing the Dark Knight Rises prologue, click here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is Set Eight Years After Predecessor


Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, is set eight years after The Dark Knight, the director noted in a recent interview with Empire.

“It’s really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne’s story,” Nolan explained. “We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after The Dark Knight. So he’s an older Bruce Wayne; he’s not in a great state.”

Of the film’s primary villain, the brutish and calculating Bane, Nolan added that he wanted to put The Caped Crusader to the ultimate test in the conclusion to his trilogy.

“With Bane, we’re looking to give Batman a challenge he hasn’t had before,” Nolan said. “With our choice of villain and with our choice of story we’re testing Batman both physically as well as mentally.”

How physically? Actor Tom Hardy—who plays the baddie who infamously broke Batman’s back in the comics—went into sickening detail about Bane’s fighting technique.

“It’s about carnage,” Hardy said. “The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action." 

Ouch. The latest issue of Empire is on newsstands now. For more on this story, click here.

Time to Meet ‘The Muppets’

I’m typically not one to get into personal matters on my blog, partially because the stories of my life aren’t particularly exciting but mostly because it’s more fun to use The Wort Report to detach myself from reality and escape into the persona of a pop culture-obsessed geek with a penchant for rambling on about Star Wars and Batman. However, I can’t begin this review of Disney’s The Muppets without first saying why it was exactly the movie-going experience I needed on Friday night, Nov. 25.

For some reason, my family’s pets always seem to shuffle off this mortal coil on or around Thanksgiving Day. This year, it was Shadoe, a dog that I was fortunate enough to have in my life for more than 15 years—nearly two years beyond her expected lifespan. As lucky as we all were that she hung around for so long, having to take her to the vet to be put to sleep wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do on the morning after Thanksgiving. Needless to say, I was bummed.

Fortunately, a text from a friend lifted my spirits almost immediately: that night, we’d be seeing The Muppets.

If you know me—and if you’re reading this, chances are you do—then you know I’m pretty much a Muppets fanatic. I proudly and frequently wear my Animal T-shirt, I have multiple versions of “Rainbow Connection” on my iPod and I quote Statler and Waldorf whether the situation calls for it or not. Naturally, I was excited when I learned that Jason Segel was resurrecting The Muppets in a new feature film, and the string of trailer parodies and promotional footage released over the last several months did little to lessen my enthusiasm. Based on what I’d seen before stepping into the theater, Segel “got it.” The Muppets don’t need to be transplanted into other stories, as was the case with The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and the gang are interesting characters in their own right. Thanks to Segel’s unbridled passion for The Muppets, he’s made them wholly relevant for the first time in two decades.

The film introduces us to blissful not-yet-married couple Gary (Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams), who venture to California to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. Accompanying them in this trip is Walter, Gary’s felt-skinned Muppets fanboy brother who dreams of one day meeting his heroes. Gary and Mary take Walter to the Muppet Studios in Hollywood, but the property has fallen into disrepair because the general public has stopped caring about The Muppets. Art imitating life? Absolutely.

While visiting the run-down remains of Kermit’s office, Walter learns of a sinister plot by aptly-named oil magnate Tex Richman (played to a devious tee by Chris Cooper) to buy the Muppet Studios and the iconic Muppet Theater to gain access to the black gold surging underneath it. Once Walter, Gary and Mary alert Kermit to Richman’s plan, it gives our favorite amphibian a good reason to get the gang back together for one more show to raiseenough money to save the theater and the studios.

It’s not the most original storyline in the world, but The Muppets throws so many gags your way that it’s easy to move past the banality of the premise. From Kermit’s 1980s’-era robot butler serving up Tab and New Coke to Miss Piggy’s new occupation as the plus-sized editor of Vogue Paris to the introduction of a group of hard-edged Muppets knock-offs called “The Moopets,” Segel, co-writer Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords) are relentless in their quest to satiate longtime fans of the characters while reintroducing them to the public at large.

It’s cool seeing The Muppets reunited on the big screen, but the entire film would fall apart if we didn’t care about the human characters, so it’s a good thing that Segel and Adams approach their performances with the proper amount of self-aware hamminess. Their enthusiasm shines particularly bright in the film’s many musical numbers, four of which were written by Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie. One ballad in particular, “Man or Muppet,” had me in stitches, and telling you why would ruin the surprise.

If you were afraid The Muppets would somehow tarnish your childhood memories of these characters, rest assured that this film is essentially one long love letter to Muppets mastermind Jim Henson and anyone that holds a special place in their heart for the world he created. Go see it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

James Bond Returns to Theaters in 2012

It seems as though updating The Wort Report on a basis that resembles anything close to consistent is impossible with my new work schedule, so I’d like to extend my sincerest apologies for the lack of activity this month. Between international travel and a lot more day-to-day responsibilities at the office, my focus has been elsewhere over the past few weeks as I’ve barely had time to relax (let alone blog).

But anyway, speaking of dashing, charismatic world travelers, it has been confirmed that the next installment of the rebooted James Bond franchise will be hitting theaters in 2012. In a press conference held on Nov. 3—the same date Sean Connery was announced as the first James Bond—filmmakers revealed that the new film, Skyfall, would team series star Daniel Craig with director Sam Mendes and a cast that includes Bérénice Marlohe, Naomie Harris, Dame Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. Bardem (No Country for Old Men) will naturally play the film’s villain.

As noted on the official 007 Twitter page, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Brocolli said Skyfall has “some emotional context,” to which Mendes added that the film “is its own story” and “doesn’t connect with the last two movies,” Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

The official synopsis reads, “Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”

Honestly, the synopsis is too vague to be all that exciting, but I’m pumped that the Bond franchise is finally moving forward once again. For updates on the production, follow @007 on Twitter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New ‘Batman: Arkham City’ DLC Introduces Nightwing as a Playable Character

Damn, I really need to finish this game. A new DLC pack for Batman: Arkham City allows gamers to play as sidekick-turned-badass Nightwing (a.k.a Dick Grayson) in the critically acclaimed title. The download, available Nov. 1, also offers two Nightwing challenge maps and a Batman: The Animated Series skin for the character.

Watch Nightwing beat up the bad guys in spectacular fashion in the trailer below.

Spielberg Talks ‘Indy 4,’ ‘Nuking the Fridge’ and the possibility of another ‘Jurassic Park’ Film

It’s settled then. As much as jaded children of the ‘80s blamed Star Wars mastermind George Lucas for Indiana Jones’ refrigerator-aided escape from a nuclear explosion in 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, director and longtime Lucas collaborator Steven Spielberg claims full responsibility for the ill-received sequence.

“Blame me. Don't blame George,” Spielberg said in a recent interview with Empire. “That was my silly idea. People stopped saying ‘jump the shark.’ They now say, ‘nuked the fridge.’ I'm proud of that. I'm glad I was able to bring that into popular culture."

What Spielberg isn’t necessarily proud of was the inclusion of aliens (or “inter-dimensional beings”) at the core of the story. The director seems to side with critics and fans who don’t think extraterrestrials belong in the Indiana Jones series.

“I didn't want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings,” Spielberg admitted. “But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in—even if I don’t believe in it—I’m going to shoot the movie the way George [envisioned] it.”

But what about Jurassic Park 4, a film that has been talked about for the better part of the last decade? Spielberg claims we could be seeing his dinosaurs wreck havoc once again in the near future.

“The screenplay is being written right now by Mark Protosevich,” he said. “I’m hoping that will come out in the next couple of years. We have a good story. We have a better story for four than we had for three...”

Let’s hope so. For the full story, click here.

Monday, October 17, 2011

‘Transformers 4’ on the Way?

Wait, what? Didn’t Michael Bay say everything he had to say about robots fighting other robots in Transformers: Dark of the Moon? Well, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and the rest of the gang might be transforming and rolling out in yet another installment in the blockbuster series.

Reportedly, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner is in talks with Bay, studio partner Paramount and franchise executive producer Steven Spielberg about a fourth Transformers film. Now, even though thought Dark of the Moon was pretty good for what it was—mindless metal-on-metal explosion porn—I think we’ve reached our quota on Transformers movies for at least the next decade. Then again, there are tickets and toys to be sold, so it’s not like I’m all that surprised that Hasbro is pushing to continue the series.

Other Hasbro films in the works include Micronauts, Ouija, Candyland, Risk, Stretch Armstrong, Clue and Monopoly. And to think, some people believe that cinema is dying!

‘Thor 2’ to be Directed by…Patty Jenkins?

Marvel Studios has confirmed that Thor 2—set for release on Nov. 15, 2013—will be directed by Patty Jenkins. Is this good news? Honestly, I don’t even know. According to a posting on Marvel.com, Jenkins directed Charlize Theron in Monster, and helmed episodes of Entourage and Arrested Development. So there you go.

I’m disappointed that Kenneth Branagh won’t be returning for the sequel, as I thought he gave the Asgard sequences in the first film a near-Shakespearian level of gravitas (which was no surprise given his background). Still, Jenkins has a fairly diverse resume, and might very well be a good fit to bring us the further cinematic adventures of Marvel’s God of Thunder.

To read the full announcement, head over to Marvel.com.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not Going to New York Comic Con?

Well, I am! And I’ll be tweeting updates and photos from the show floor. Follow me on Twitter (@James_Wortman) to join me in basking in the nerdiness of the East Coast’s preeminent pop culture extravaganza.

I’m Still Geeking Out About the ‘Avengers’ Trailer!

It’s been two days since I saw it for the first time, but since I’m going to be spending my weekend wandering the halls of the Javits Center for New York Comic Con 2011, I figured I’d give the new trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers another look and…wowza.

I was really hoping director Joss Whedon would capture the group dynamic between Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and the banter here in the trailer—most of which involves Downey—is a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure how necessary it was for Scarlett Johansson to reprise her relatively minor role of Black Widow from Iron Man 2, but then I saw her back in that outfit. Yeah, this makes perfect sense.

Plotwise, we get some glimpses of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) being menacing, but I really can’t wait to see the Skrulls in action. For now, this awesome trailer will have to suffice.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Trailer for ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ Hits iTunes on Oct. 11

Gearing up for the fanboy frenzy of New York Comic Con next weekend, Marvel.com has announced that the full-length trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers—yes, that’s evidently the official title now—will arrive on iTunes Trailers next Tuesday, Oct. 11.

The ensemble flick featuring Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and other Marvel heavyweights will also be well represented at NYCC itself. An hour-long panel featuring Marvel Studios producer Kevin Feige, Chris Evans (Captain America), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) and Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill) will kick off on Saturday, October 15 at 6:30 p.m. Marvel will also be debuting never-before-seen footage during this special event at the IGN Theater.

Will I be there? Hell, does Thanos fear Squirrel Girl? See you at the Javits Center, True Believers!

Marvel’s The Avengers arrives in theaters on May 4, 2012.

Spoiler Alert! ‘Arkham City’ Will Be Off the Chain!

I tend not to get all that worked up about video games these days, mainly because I never really have time to play them. However, after watching this extended preview of Batman: Arkham City (via MrKQgaming on YouTube), I might need to clear my schedule when Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum sequel hits shelves on Oct. 18.

Looking back on the parade of terrible Caped Crusader-based video games released over the last two decades, did we ever anticipate that a developer could get things this right? And twice in a row by the looks of it? Holy turnaround, Batman!

Speaking of Batman, now’s as good a time as any to heap praise on DC’s rebooted Detective Comics series—among the best of the publisher’s “New 52” relaunch. Not that I have anything against Dick Grayson, but it’s great to have Bruce Wayne back in the cowl. Plus, Tony S. Daniel is weaving a particularly twisted tale that involves cutting people’s faces off. Just sayin’.

Anyway, check out this preview of Arkham City, and be sure to pick your jaw up off the floor when you’re finished.

‘Arrested Development’ Movie, New Episodes Finally Happening!

Well, this news is even more satisfying than a banger in the mouth! A film continuation of Fox’s Arrested Development—a brilliant series that was canceled far too soon—has been rumored and speculated upon by fans since the final episode aired in early 2006. However, those same fans (myself included) were delighted to learn just days ago that not only is an Arrested Development feature film in the works, but entirely new episodes leading up to the film’s release.

As reported by The New York Times, series creator Mitchell Hurwitz made this highly anticipated announcement at a New Yorker Festival event that reunited Hurwitz with Arrested Development cast members, including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Michael Cera. Despite out-of-hand rumors that Cera was the sole holdout, all of our favorite members of the Bluth clan will be returning.

“There’s business left to be done, but creatively we are all on board and have a very specific plan about how it would come out and what we would do and when we would shoot it,” said Bateman of the film. “I think we’re targeting next summer to shoot it.”

Hurwitz added, “Perhaps the series is in the fall. This isn’t my decision.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

‘Ghostbusters’ Returns to Theaters!

Charge up those proton packs, Ghostbusters fanatics! Our favorite paranormal investigators are bustin’ their way into theaters for a special limited engagement this October. Why? Because bustin’ makes them feel good, obviously! Plus, Halloween’s right around the corner, and I’ll take Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston over the latest crop of cruddy horror flicks any day.

Variety reports that the original 1984 film, directed by Ivan Reitman, will be screened in 500 theaters across the United States for single-screenings on three consecutive Thursdays: Oct. 13, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27. Ghostbusters will be digitally restored for this re-release, but don’t expect any George Lucas-esque revisionist history. This will be the same film we grew up with.

It’s odd that Sony Entertainment missed the boat (or in this case the Ecto-1) in terms of re-releasing Ghostbusters for its 25th anniversary in 2009, but given the cult status of the iconic supernatural comedy, I’d be surprised if this doesn’t become a yearly Halloween tradition. Plus, as Variety has also pointed out, this is a great way to get fans excited about Ghostbusters 3…if it ever happens.

For more on Ghostbusters’ return to theaters, click here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Six Things I’ve Realized Thanks to the ‘Star Wars’ Blu-rays

The Blu-ray release of all six Star Wars films last week has inspired many fans to re-evaluate their relationship with the saga. Do I need to purchase these movies yet again simply because they’re on a new format? Can I forgive George Lucas for the prequels? Is The Empire Strikes Back really the best in the series? Will Han ever shoot first again?

Like many geeks who wear their Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band tour shirts with pride, I went out and bought the set on release day, ready to dive into the incredible selection of special features and scope out the deleted scenes that we’ve never glimpsed until now. However, part of me was also bracing for the inevitable revisions Lucas has been making since the films hit DVD in 2004. Having spent some time with the set, I’ve realized a few things about the films that, in many ways, shaped my childhood and kick-started my passion for fantasy storytelling.

6) Return of the Jedi is Underrated
You read that right. Hardcore fans have been bitching about the Ewoks for nearly 30 years now, but I’ve actually come to admire the furry denizens of the forest moon of Endor. Per Steven Spielberg’s suggestion, Lucas “dared to be cute,” and the end result effectively conveys the idea that intelligence and ingenuity can overcome even the most impossible odds. Wicket? You’re alright.

Plus, the Jabba’s Palace sequence—puppets and all—is incredibly imaginative and a testament to the power of practical effects work. I could do without the cringe-inducing “Jedi Rocks” musical number added in 1997 for the Special Edition re-release, but this explosive finale is a solidly entertaining experience from beginning to end that gives these beloved characters the proper sendoff.

5) I Have No Reason to Watch the Prequels Ever Again
I’ve seen The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith more times than I’d care to admit, and I can’t imagine when I would ever get the urge to pop in the Blu-rays for another go. Do they have some cool moments? Sure. But I don’t see myself ever getting the desire to revisit the Boonta Eve Podrace, the Battle of Geonosis or the video gamey Mustafar clash between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Been there, done that, bought the limited edition Pepsi cans.

4) Lando Calrissian Rules
I can’t stress this enough. Billy Dee Williams was an amazing addition to the cast in The Empire Strikes Back, and helped give his longtime pal and fellow scoundrel Han Solo even more depth as a character. Plus, I never get tired of calling my friends “slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindlers.”

3) I Really, Really Hate the Jabba the Hutt Scene in A New Hope
It might have been cool seeing 1970s-era Harrison Ford conversing with a computer-animated Jabba the Hutt when the original trilogy was re-released in 1997, but now this scene stinks on ice. Besides the fact that Jabba the Hutt is portrayed as a simpering goon in this reinstated footage—a far cry from the all-powerful crime lord we meet in Return of the Jedi—but the sequence is redundant. Pay close attention to the dialogue next time you watch it. The conversation between Han and Jabba is nearly identical to the one Han has with Greedo just moments earlier. Did you hear? Even Han gets boarded sometimes! Do you think he had a choice?

2) The Deleted Scenes Were Deleted for a Reason
If you couldn’t stand The Phantom Menace before, just wait ‘til you get a load of the scenes that didn’t make it into the movie! Prequel bashing aside, I’m very glad that the sequences cut from the Star Wars films—many of which are being revealed for the first time on Blu-ray—were not included in the final products. It’s cool getting to see Luke hang out with his friends on Tatooine and I’m glad the much-talked-about “sandstorm” sequence in Jedi is included in this set, but the first act of The Empire Strikes Back would have been horrendous had it included the subplot about Wampas running amok in Echo Base.

1) George Lucas Alters His Movies to Spite Us All
Yes, I’m referring directly to Darth Vader’s awkward exclamation of “Noooooo!” at the end of Return of the Jedi. Really, George? Was it not at all apparent over the last 28 years that Vader intentionally sacrificed himself to save his son from The Emperor’s wrath? Do we need The Dark Lord of the Sith to vocalize his emotions in the most cliché manner possible? My theory about this pointless new addition to one of the most powerful scenes is that Lucas was so bitter about the fan backlash to Vader’s cheese-tastic “Noooooo!” in Revenge of the Sith that he included the line in Jedi just to piss us off. And lo and behold! He succeeded!

The funny thing is, I’m not totally against Lucas updating the films as long as the changes make sense. Blinking Ewoks? Cool. Making Yoda computer-animated in The Phantom Menace to maintain consistency with the other prequel films? Great. Adding more TIE Fighters to the Battle of Endor? Fine by me. Hell, I’m even okay with Lucas enlarging the door to Jabba’s Palace through the magic of CGI. But having Vader scream as he tosses The Emperor into a chasm robs the character of his mystique, drowns out John Williams’ brilliant score for the sequence and handholds the audience through a scene that’s pretty self-explanatory. Ugh.

The Company Behind New ‘Ghostbusters’ Slot Machine Has Tools, Talent

And you thought Ghostbusters 3 was a gamble! IGT—the same company behind the Star Wars Droid Hunt machine I love so much – is rolling out a Ghostbusters-themed slot machine starring Mr. Stay Puft, Slimer and our favorite paranormal investigators. Well, it looks like Dan Aykroyd was the only cast member actually willing to lend his voice to the project, but they’re all represented in some form or another.

Check out the trailer below.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wow, September Already?

Greetings, Wortmaniacs! I know, I know. You’ve missed me. My updates have been fairly sporadic since July and I’m not posting nearly enough to sustain anything resembling interest in this blog. But the fact is I’ve been incredibly busy at work tackling new responsibilities—which will include a great deal of travel—and I’m trying to enjoy something resembling a personal life when I don’t have my nose to the grindstone. To steal a line from Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”

This might seem like something resembling a “final post,” but it’s the furthest thing from that. I plan on continuing to update The Wort Report as much as possible, with the caveat being that “as much as possible” might mean I’m going week or two without new content. That’s the reality I’m trying to adapt to.

So instead of an abundance of smaller, time-sensitive posts about the latest nerd news, I might publish more long-form updates about things I’m doing, comics I’m reading, games I’m playing, movies I’ve seen and what TV shows I don’t have time to keep up with.

With that being said, it’s time for me to start wrapping this up so I can dig into the four No. 1 comics DC put out today as part of their “New 52” relaunch. I skipped last week’s Justice League, but I’m looking forward to checking out the new Action Comics, Detective Comics, Swamp Thing and Batgirl. Yeah, that’s right. I’m reading Batgirl. Screw you and your judgment.

Anyhow, I hope everyone’s having a great week. Speaking of this week don’t forget that X-Men: First Class hits DVD and Blu-ray on Friday! This film is definitely worth a first-day purchase, but if you’ve been reading my gushing posts about it all summer, you already knew that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dan Aykroyd Says ‘Ghostbusters 3’ Will Happen With or Without Bill Murray

Mr. Dan Aykroyd, you’ve accomplished many things. You’ve been in some of the biggest comedies of all time—Caddyshack 2 notwithstanding—and you’ve used your celebrity to launch a pretty good brand of vodka with an aesthetically pleasing bottle. However, your fascination with making Ghostbusters 3 with or without the involvement of Peter Venkman himself, Bill Murray, is a bit troubling.

In a recent interview on The Dennis Miller Show, Aykroyd said that the plan is to start shooting next spring whether or not Murray finally agrees to participate.

“Yes, we will be doing the movie and hopefully with Mr. Murray,” the actor said. “That is our hope. We have an excellent script. What we have to remember is that Ghostbusters is bigger than any one component, although Billy was absolutely the lead and contributive to it in a massive way, as was the director and Harold [Ramis], myself and Sigourney [Weaver]. The concept is much larger than any individual role and the premise of Ghostbusters 3 is that we get to hand the equipment and the franchise down to new blood.”

You know, I’d love to be excited about this, Ghostbusters fanboy that I am. But come on. One of the reasons why the original Ghostbusters film worked so well was the fact that Peter didn’t really take the ghostbusting thing all that seriously. He counteracted the stoic nerdiness of Egon Spengler (Ramis) and the giddy exuberance of Ray Stanz (Aykroyd). You add in the blue-collar sensibilities of Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and you have the perfect team dynamic. Without Peter, things would fall apart pretty quickly, and we’d end up with something a lot worse than Ghostbusters 2.

He went on to say that in the new movie, Ray will be blind in one eye and unable to drive the Ecto-1, while Egon will be too fat to strap on his proton pack. Hilarity will ensue, apparently.

“We need young blood and that’s the premise,” Aykroyd said. “We’re gonna hand it to a new generation.”

Aykroyd wants the new team to include three guys and a young woman. To listen to the whole interview, head over to DennisMillerRadio.com.

Yoda Puppet Gets Digitized in ‘The Phantom Menace’ on Blu-ray

Don’t act so surprised, fellow nerdlings. As reported on /Film and a myriad of other movie sites, Lucasfilm and the folks at Industrial Light & Magic have made additional visual tweaks to the Star Wars films in preparation for the saga’s first-ever Blu-ray release on Sept. 16. Chief among these cosmetic alterations is the appearance of a completely computer-animated Yoda in The Phantom Menace, replacing Frank Oz’s Yoda puppeteering in the 1999 prequel.

Now, I’m certainly not the only person to note that the bug-eyed, creepy and out-of-place version of Yoda in The Phantom Menace was downright ugly, so I’m sure we’re all glad Lucas and his team made the change to at least make the look of the character consistent with the other prequels. However, it’s disheartening that Oz’s final performance as the wizened green Jedi has been excised from the films forever.

If you watched the special features on the Revenge of the Sith DVD released in 2005, you’ve known that a digital Phantom Menace Yoda has been in the works for quite some time, and was probably completed years ago. However, this Blu-ray release will be the first time we’ll see the CGI character in the actual movie.

Head over to /Film to watch The Phantom Menace’s CGI Yoda in action.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Robert Downey Jr. Talks ‘Iron Man 3’ and Reuniting with Director Shane Black

For whatever reason, it’s seemingly impossible for a film studio to churn out a compelling third installment in a superhero franchise. From Superman 3 to Batman Forever to Spider-Man 3, comic book fans typically acknowledge the third installment in a previously successful series as the point at which a combination of studio meddling and creative fatigue reduces formerly compelling protagonists into broad caricatures and, in some cases, even parodies.

Keeping that unfortunate reality in mind, many fans are looking ahead to Iron Man 3 with some trepidation. After all, original director Jon Favreau left the series after the second installment, and many Marvel enthusiasts doubt that new writer/director Shane Black will be able to keep the character of Tony Stark interesting on his own after he teams up with Captain America, Thor, Hulk and the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in next summer’s The Avengers.

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog, series star Robert Downey Jr. allayed many fans’ concerns with the future of his character and the series that kick-started the cinematic Marvel Universe back in 2008.

“My sense of it is that we need to leave it all on the field—whatever that means in the end,” Downey said of the film, due out in May 2013. “You can pick several different points of departure for that.”

Downey previously teamed with Black in 2005 for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a tongue-in-cheek take on the film noir genre. Black’s other writing credits include Lethal Weapon, Lethal Weapon 2 and The Last Boy Scout.

“He’s more than the sum of his parts and he’s also kind of been a sleeper for a long time,” Downey said of Black. “We’re not talking much about [the script] right now because Shane is off writing and we talked before that and when we are talking again the talking is going to be over pretty quick [because we're on the same page]. It’s kind of like we’re fighting on the same side and at the same time we’re circling each other, so it’s all great. It should be great.”

For the full story, head over to Hero Complex by clicking here.

What if Ghost Rider Has to Pee While He’s on Fire?

Such questions will indeed be answered in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a sequel to Sony’s almost-terrible 2007 big-screen debut of Marvel’s Brimstone Biker. Nicolas Cage is back as Johnny Blaze, punishing evildoers with his flaming motorcycle, flaming vomit and—shockingly—his flaming urine.

I don’t understand why we’re getting a Ghost Rider sequel, save for the fact that Sony probably needed to churn out another movie to hold on to the film rights. Regardless of why it’s happening, we’ll get to see Spirit of Vengeance in February 2012.

Watch the trailer below.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Anne Hathaway Sounds Off on Catwoman Reaction

It’s no secret that comic book and movie geeks are hard to please, even when it comes to hot women in skintight leather. So I guess none of were surprised over the backlash against Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman duds in some leaked photos from the set of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

MTV News caught up with the Oscar-nominated actress, who had some interesting things to say about fans’ response to her costume. Watch the clip below.



Sunday, August 7, 2011

‘Game of Thrones’ Director Could Helm ‘Thor 2’

Variety reports that Marvel Studios and Disney are eyeing Game of Thrones director Brian Kirk to electrify Thor 2, set for release on July 6, 2013.

Thor pulled in $447 million worldwide under the directorial leadership of Kenneth Branagh, who has said he will not helm the sequel despite being invited back into the director’s chair. Following an appearance in next summer’s Avengers team-up film, Chris Hemsworth will once again play the titular Asgardian thunder god.

Although there are a few other directors’ names being kicked around, I think Kirk would be an ideal choice given his superb work on HBO’s Thrones series, especially considering rumors that the sequel will delve deeper into Norse mythology.

According to Variety, Thor co-writer Don Payne is returning to write the screenplay. For the full story, click here.

UPDATE: Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman Suit Revealed! Or Not!

Late last week, photos of a catsuited Anne Hathaway straddling a Batpod—totally not a euphemism—made its rounds on the ‘net, generating a ton of speculation as to how Selina Kyle’s feline alter ego would factor into Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, which hits theaters next summer.

On Saturday, notorious entertainment blogger Perez Hilton added more fuel to the fire with this unobstructed, full-body still of Hathaway’s Catwoman, complete with futuristic goggles and a noticeable lack of actual cat elements. However, a number of websites and even a few of you have noted that this graphic is a total fake. A fraud. a sham. Not real.

Move along, folks! Nothing to see here!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

First Look: Henry Cavill as Superman!

This Man of Steel publicity still of Henry Cavill wearing Superman’s iconic threads has been making comic book geeks lose their mind all day, and deservedly so. Judging by the shot, director Zack Snyder’s going to be putting a lot more emphasis on action this time around, which should be a welcome change of pace after Bryan Singer decided to make The Last Son of Krypton mope around for about 30 minutes too long in 2006’s Superman Returns.

Now, Cavill as Superman? He certainly looks the part, even though Superman’s iconic “S” spit curl seems to be missing and the suit looks like it might have more of a scaled texture to it than the spandex we’re used to. However, this graphic—with all of its sparks and twisted metal and unnatural light—suggests that Snyder is still giving in to his excessive stylistic urges. This means we’ll likely see an abundance of slow-motion action scenes and CGI environments which, after his polarizing Watchmen and his bizarre Sucker Punch, might not be received all that well by casual audiences. We’ll see.

Man of Steel is scheduled for release on June 12, 2013.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wort Report Double Feature: ‘Captain America’ and ‘Harry Potter’

And we’re back. It’d be no understatement to say that the last month was the busiest 31 days of my life, and after three weddings and my first-ever trip to San Diego for Comic-Con International I’ve been more than a little worn out. All that being said, The Wort Report is officially back as my life approaches something resembling normalcy.

With all of my traveling in July my free time was fairly limited, but I actually did manage to make it to the multiplex to check out Captain America: The First Avenger as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Now, I’m more than aware that most of you geeks out there have seen both of these flicks, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to revive The Wort Report by weighing in on both of these blockbusters.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel Studios strikes again. Not only does director Joe Johnston’s film work as a standalone World War II-era superhero epic, but it does an amazing job setting the stage for next summer’s Avengers team-up flick. Chris Evans makes Steve Rogers a hero we honestly want to root for, and the film maintains a 1940s serial-esque sense of swashbuckling adventure that sets it apart from Marvel Studios’ other franchises, namely Iron Man, Thor and The Incredible Hulk.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

This was another highly anticipated film that lived up to the hype, wonderfully capping off a series I never thought I’d enjoy as much as I do. Throughout the years, I’ve really appreciated how these movies—much like the books—evolved from kiddie fare into mature dark fantasy that rivals even Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy in its scope.

This second half of Harry’s final adventure hits all of the right emotional notes, largely thanks to superb directing by series veteran David Yates. I’m not crazy about the way the epilogue was handled (Potter and his friends don’t age much in 19 years, do they?), but the film otherwise succeeds as a proper send-off for characters we’ve all grown up with over the past decade.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Molto Bene!


Hiya folks! I can honestly say that my trip to Italy this past week was among the greatest experiences of my life, and I’d like to extend heartfelt congratulations and thanks to newlyweds Chris and Katie Melfa. If not for their decision to do a destination wedding in Assisi, I don’t know when I would have made the journey across the Atlantic to see its awe-inspiring sights, nor would I have experienced firsthand the many wonders of Rome. That’s me pictured with one of them: the iconic Colosseum.

I’m back in the U.S., but I’m hardly slowing down. My friends Morgan Lorenzen and Heather Stradling will be getting married this weekend, and next Wednesday I venture west to Comic-Con International in San Diego on WWE-related business. After that, my longtime pal Michael Johnson ties the knot at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

As you can see, I’m going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks, which essentially means any and all blogging will be kept to a minimum until August.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already, be sure to friend me on Facebook so you can check out photos from my Italian odyssey!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Viva Italia!

For the next week or so, I’ll be out of the country attending a wedding in Italy. As I enjoy a much-needed vacation, I’ll be mostly unplugged from Facebook, Twitter and the blogosophere. But don’t fret, Wortmaniacs! I shall return here soon enough.

Until we meet again, stay nerdy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

‘Thor 2’ Will Electrify Audiences in 2013

By Odin’s beard! According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney and Marvel Studios have agreed to move forward with a sequel to Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, slated for release on July 26, 2013.

Although Branagh will reportedly not be sitting in the director’s chair this time around, he will serve as a producer. Chris Hemsworth is attached to reprise his role as the titular Asgardian God of Thunder.

I’m excited to see what’s in store for this character after the events of next summer’s Marvel team-up film, The Avengers. Hopefully, Natalie Portman also returns as Thor’s earthbound lady friend, Jane Foster.

For the full story, click here.

Michael Bay Brings the Boom with ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’

Few films divide geeks quite like those in Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. Upon the release of each movie, film fanatics typically find themselves in two camps: Either they laud the films for their brash evasion of complex storytelling in favor of bombastic excess and CGI smackdowns between giant robots, or they view their incredible box office success as a prime indicator of our cultural collapse.

Whatever you think about Bay or his films based on Hasbro’s robots in disguise, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is poised to be one of the biggest releases in 2011. However, after the lackluster Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, is this third installment worth the hefty 3D ticket price? Read on to find out.

About that last movie …
From the opening frames of Dark of the Moon, it’s clear that Bay is sorry about how much Revenge of the Fallen sucked on a base level, and makes up for that massive misstep with a far more interesting narrative and a lot more action than its predecessor. In fact, the final hour of the film is essentially one long action sequence, as the Autobots—led by Optimus Prime—take the fight to the Decepticons as Chicago crumbles around them.

This is all well and good, but Bay simply can’t escape his tendency to transform his human characters into bizarre, eccentric caricatures. Series newcomers like Ken Jeong, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk and Frances McDormand—playing an excessively terse U.S. National Intelligence director—are so over-the-top in their roles that they undermine the more serious portions of the film. Like when the world is ending.

Additionally, John Turturro’s Agent Simmons character is wackier than ever, while protagonist Sam Witwicky’s mom, played by Julie White, uses her brief time onscreen to talk about the size of her son’s penis and the importance of cunnilingus. I wish I was kidding.

The new girl
After Megan Fox compared Bay to Adolf Hitler in the press, Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg were understandably unhappy with her, especially considering the fact that it was the original 2007 Transformers film that made her a star. With Fox out of the picture, Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely stars opposite Shia LaBeouf as Carly Spencer, Sam’s wealthy British girlfriend.

Huntington-Whitely does just fine in the role, although the circumstances of Sam’s breakup with Fox’s character, Mikaela, are a bit hackneyed at best. Plus, it’s hard to feel bad for Sam at the beginning of the film when he whines to Carly about not being able to find a job after college. Mooching off a hot rich girl doesn’t seem like such a bad gig, but I digress.

Now, I’m not sure if this has something to do with the film being shot in 3D or what, but there were certain scenes where Huntington-Whitely’s lips looked HUGE, and the size of her smackers actually fluxuates throughout the movie. I’m not alone in thinking this was ridiculous, as the audience erupted in laughter during several of her close-ups in the third act. I doubt this was the intended reaction.

The good
Because there are new toys to be made, there are several new Transformers introduced in Dark of the Moon. In addition to returning Autobots like Optimus, Bumblebee, Sideswipe and the foul-mouthed Wheelie, we meet the Wreckers, a group of brawlers bluntly described by McDormand’s character as “assholes.” We also meet a James Bond-inspired techie named Que and Wheelie’s wild-haired new buddy named Brains, who transforms into a laptop.

The most important new addition to the Autobot ranks is the aged Sentinel Prime, voiced by Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy. Fleeing Cybertron during the planet’s cataclysmic civil war, Sentinel crash-landed an Autobot spacecraft called the Ark on the far side of Earth’s moon. Thanks to a little revisionist history, it’s the discovery of this alien ship that initiates the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s. But undiscovered inside the Ark—left dormant as Sentinel slumbered—is precious cargo that could have changed the tied of the war on Cybertron.

No stranger to the Transformers universe after voicing Galvatron in 1986’s animated Transformers: The Movie, Nimoy joins longtime Optimus voice actor Peter Cullen and Lord of the Rings/Matrix/Captain America actor Hugo Weaving (as a battle-ravaged Megatron) in lending some major nerd credibility to the film. Also, I should add that Sentinel Prime is responsible for the coolest twist in the series, and I’m sincerely happy the folks at Paramount haven’t spoiled it in their promotional materials.

The bad and the ugly
Because Dark of the Moon is all about the Decepticons’ last-ditch assault on Earth and the Autobots, we are also introduced to some new evil automatons. Joining Megatron, Starscream and Soundwave are Laserbeak—Soundwave’s pteranodon-esque henchman—the slobbering Igor and the imposing Shockwave. Using a massive worm-like monstrosity as a means of transportation as well as devastation, Shockwave is simply badass.

Cause and effect
“Okay, so the movie’s about Sam not being able to find a job and the Decepticons once again trying to kill and/or enslave the human race … how are the special effects?” I’m glad you asked. Storytelling has never quite been Bay’s forte, but the man sure does know how to blow up a city. In this case, it’s Chicago.

Enhanced by some incredible use of James Cameron’s 3D technology, Dark of the Moon looks great. The transformation sequences are better than they’ve ever been, and the action during the film’s extended climax in the Windy City wonderfully blends CGI and live action.

Also, while I’m sure this was just another example of Bay’s fetishistic fascination with military hardware, there are some cool aerial sequences toward the end of the film showcasing a group of precision skydivers wearing high-tech wingsuits. Pointless? Kinda. But these scenes are fun to watch.

More than meets the eye?
Is Transformers: Dark of the Moon all style with very little substance? Sort of, although you’ll care a lot more about what’s going on this time around thanks to the higher stakes and some genuine peril throughout. All that said, the plot is loaded with holes large enough to drive Optimus Prime through, and several potentially dramatic moments that are marred by Bay’s reluctance to portray his human characters as anything more than mugging marionettes and exposition delivery systems.

Nevertheless, the action scenes in Dark of the Moon are undeniably slick, and more than justify the higher cost of seeing the film in 3D. In terms of sheer spectacle, Bay has redeemed himself after the disappointing Revenge of the Fallen, and has delivered what is arguably his best Transformers film yet.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not So Fast, ‘Green Lantern’ Sequel …

Although there were some early reports that Warner Bros. had greenlit (ha!) a sequel to the financially struggling (and pretty mediocre) Green Lantern film, Warner Bros. has affirmed that another film is not necessarily a guarantee for the ring slinging superhero, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The media outlet had previously reported that a followup to the Ryan Reynolds vehicle was a sure thing, citing a reliable source at the studio. However, a Warner Bros. spokesperson was quick to clarify to THR that a decision had not been made regarding the cinematic fate of the character.

With a reported budget of more than $200 million—and an additional estimated $200 million spent on marketing—it’s unlikely Green Lantern will be able to break even this summer at the rate it’s going. As such, Warner Bros. is completely justified in sitting on its hands for the time being.

For the full story, click here.

Michael Bay Urges Fans to See ‘Transformers 3’ in 3D

Based on the escalated marketing bombardment over the last few days, you’re probably well aware that Transformers: Dark of the Moon hits theaters worldwide tomorrow. Some of the early reviews are saying this is the best Transformers film yet, and while I’ll never quite forget how soul-crushingly idiotic the last film was, I’m kind of hoping director Michael Bay redeems himself with his third and presumably final Autobots vs. Decepticons epic. Because, hey, the first one was pretty cool.

In anticipation of the film’s release, Bay has been hard at work to ensure that moviegoers are seeing the best version of the film possible. In a posting on his official website, MichaelBay.com, the explosion enthusiast urged fans to see the film in 3D, a format he was vehemently opposed to prior to shooting Dark of the Moon.

Dark of the Moon has some of the most technically challenging sequences ever shot. And shot in 3D,” Bay wrote. “I must urge you to find the very best theatre and see this movie in that format. 3D was a forethought, not an afterthought in this movie. I’m glad [3D innovator] Jim Cameron and [Dark of the Moon executive producer] Steven Spielberg really convinced me to shoot in this new technology.”

Will you be seeing Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D? Do you really think Dark of the Moon makes up for the abysmal Revenge of the Fallen? Sound off on my Facebook page, or continue the conversation by following me on Twitter and using the hashtag #WortReport

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Well, ‘Green Lantern’ Pretty Much Sucks

Given Green Lantern’s dismal reviews and disappointing $53.2 million opening weekend, it seems almost cruel to add yet another bad review to the pile. The movie has already been savaged by everyone from top-tier film critics to obsessive comic book fans to casual filmgoers on Twitter, so people who haven’t seen it yet have been given fair warning to stay away.

But you know what? Screw it. I paid $16 to see this hot garbage in 3D, and I want to vent.

I’m not going to lie and say I’m a lifelong fan of the Green Lantern comic books. In fact, I’ll go on record in saying my experience with the character doesn’t extend far beyond Geoff Johns’ work over the last seven years or so. Still, by following the character from Rebirth to the “Sinestro Corps. War” storyline to Blackest Night and beyond, I gained a new appreciation for how expansive the DC Universe actually was. When I heard there’d be a Green Lantern feature film with Johns attached as a producer, I was thrilled. After all, I thought, the Green Lantern mythos is essentially Star Wars with superheroes, how could anyone screw that up? Someone must have mistaken that rhetorical question for a dare.

So Green Lantern, helmed by Casino Royale director Martin Campbell, is a loose retelling of Hal Jordan’s origin story. Well, that’s not entirely true. Star Ryan Reynolds is in full-on Van Wilder mode here, so the character more closely resembles the boastful and arrogant Guy Gardner. All that said, the filmmakers tells us this prick of a fighter pilot is Hal, so I guess we’ll take their word for it.

Anyhow, a dying purple alien (Temuera Morrison) bestows his green power ring to Hal, granting him amazing and otherworldly abilities based on his incredible will (the Green Lanterns’ power is based on willpower). Even though Hal is afraid of just about everything throughout the film, the ring chose him based on his ability to overcome fear. Go figure.
Now a member of the legendary Green Lantern Corps., Hal is transported to Oa, where he meets the fish-faced Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush), receives a few minutes of training from drill sergeant Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan) and clashes briefly with a Green Lantern leader named Sinestro (Mark Strong). Because this film isn’t interested in making Hal interesting or heroic, he quits the Corps. almost immediately and heads back to Earth, claiming the ring was wrong in choosing him. While you might think this weakens Hal’s character arc, keep in mind that the visual effects team on Green Lantern apparently put a lot of time and money into making Oa look as desolate and depressing as possible. You almost can’t blame Hal for wanting to leave.

But anchoring Hal to Earth is his childhood sweetheart-turned-steely aircraft executive Carol Ferris, played by Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively. Don’t let the last name fool you – she’s not the least bit enthusiastic about this material. However, she’s an ideal damsel in distress after scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is infected by an alien entity called Parallax and begins using his newfound abilities to lash out at everyone that wronged him, including his senator father (Tim Robbins) and Carol, who once spurred his romantic advances in favor of Hal. The character transition comes off as awkward, especially since we’re not really given the opportunity to care about him before his transformation into a cackling psychic supernerd. Nevertheless Sarsgaard looks like he’s having a lot of fun in this role, so at least someone was enjoying themselves on set during filming.

And let’s get to Parallax, the malicious force that thrives off the yellow-hued power of fear – a counterpoint to the Green Lantern Corps.’ mastery of will. It’s been featured pretty heavily in the comic book series, and even possessed Hal to turn him into one of the most diabolical villains in the history of the DC Universe. But alas, Parallax is reduced to a snarling, poorly rendered yellow blob with tentacles that goes out like a chump when Hal ultimately decides to become a hero during the film’s tensionless climax.

If I’m being harsh and dismissive toward Green Lantern, it’s because this movie could have been a lot better than it turned out. This film should have been the beginning of a superheroic space opera, and instead we’re subjected to a dull, lifeless, rushed and remarkably mundane iteration of the character’s origin story. After Marvel Studios’ Thor, Green Lantern just makes Warner Bros. look bad.

Oh, and if you stick around through the credits, you get a brief extra scene teasing a sequel. When Iron Man and Thor did this, I cheered. Here, however, hinting at a sequel is more presumptuous than titillating.

If you’re in the mood for superheroes at the cinema, save your green for Captain America.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hey, a New Trailer for ‘The Muppets!’

If you don’t crack at least one smile during this trailer for Disney’s The Muppets—opening this Thanksgiving—then you just might be a cynical douchebag. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Cap, USO Crazy!

At some point in Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers wears a ridiculous(ly awesome) version of his costume to entertain the troops as part of the USO. It’s a nod to the character’s iconic comic book appearance, and a low-res shot of Chris Evans in the getup has been making the rounds online. I stumbled across it on Topless Robot and reposted it here:

As goofy as the outfit looks, this wink to the fans offers some reassurance that director Joe Johnston and his team are approaching the World War II-era Marvel mythos with the right pulp sensibilities. Captain America hits theaters on July 22.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shia LaBeouf Talks ‘Indy 5’

Although Transformers actor Shia LaBeouf won’t be returning for the Hasbro franchise’s inevitable fourth onscreen outing—and neither will director Michael Bay—the 25-year-old actor is planning to reprise the role of Mutt Williams in a fifth Indiana Jones film.

In an interview with MTV promoting Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards, LaBeouf said that a sequel to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull “is not so far off,” and that series’ veteran star Harrison Ford is staying in peak physical condition for when he is called upon to don Indy’s trademark fedora and leather jacket once again.

“I talked to Harrison Ford,” LaBeouf said in the interview, which you can watch here. “He said he's staying in the gym, he said he’s heard no word, but he does know that George [Lucas] is out there looking for a MacGuffin.”

Let me come right out and say it. Yes, I was very complimentary of Crystal Skull when it was originally released. Maybe I was riding high on the incredible wave of Indiana Jones nostalgia that had overtaken many of us the summer of 2007, but I didn’t want to believe that Lucas, Spielberg and Ford had screwed up. Unfortunately, I bought the DVD later that year, and came to realize that Crystal Skull didn’t need to be made and never justified its existence with a compelling narrative. Nowadays, I can’t watch it for more than 20 minutes before I feel the need to turn it off or change the channel.

Bellyaching aside, LaBeouf as Indy’s rebellious son was the least of the film’s problems, so his return to the series doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m more bothered that Lucas and Spielberg think they have another Indiana Jones tale worth telling. If the last film is any indication, as Indy himself might say, this franchise belongs in a museum.

Who Is Jimmy Mortman?

WWE Superstar R-Truth is pretty upset with all the “Little Jimmys” of the world, especially some guy named “Jimmy Mortman” at WWEShop.com. I can’t say I’ve bumped into the guy around the WWE.com offices myself, but others have told me they see him all the time. Anyhow, he’s certainly rockin’ the bald look, which I can appreciate.

Learn all about “R-Truth’s Least Favorite ‘Jimmys’” by watching the clip below.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E3 Trailer: ‘Gotham City Impostors’

So, WB Games is releasing a downloadable Batman-themed multiplayer first-person shooter called Gotham City Impostors, which is kinda weird since Batman hating guns is kinda central to his character. As such, he’d probably be upset that civilians are dressing up like him and pointing shotguns at other civilians wearing Joker makeup.

I’m fairly certain Gotham City Impostors makes no sense for a couple of reasons, but it’s coming out in 2012 whether we like it or not.

Check out the E3 trailer below.

Bryan Singer Talks ‘X-Men: First Class’ Sequel

To be honest, I went into Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class expecting a trainwreck on the same level as X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yeah, I’d heard the positive early reviews, but I had a really difficult time convincing myself that Fox had somehow turned this creatively troubled franchise around with a crowded prequel set during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Thankfully, Vaughn kinda nailed it, largely thanks to superb casting. James McAvoy played a great young Professor X, while Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is always interesting to watch. January Jones strutting around in lingerie as Emma Frost doesn’t’ hurt the film either.

Seeing as how Fox’s X-Men series just got a lot better, I was pleased to learn that Bryan Singer—who directed the first two films and produced First Class—is already talking about a sequel that will similarly involve real historical events.

“I don’t know if every movie has to be a history lesson. But there’s a lot of history to cover. If we sequelized this, it could inhabit a whole world of the 20th century,” Singer told the Los Angeles Times. “When [First Class] happened, Kennedy had not been assassinated and the Vietnam War hadn’t happened yet.”

He continued, “What’s really interesting about the ‘60s setting is the civil rights movement.”

This would be an interesting direction for a First Class sequel, especially given the prevalent theme of tolerance and coexistence in the X-Men mythology.

For the full Times story, click here.

LucasArts Unveils ‘Kinect Star Wars’at E3

Really? Really. Damn. Now I need to buy a Kinect. At E3 in Los Angeles, LucasArts debuted Kinect Star Wars for Xbox 360’s motion-based peripheral. Naturally, I’m intrigued.

We’re all going to be ridiculous playing this thing, but personal pride has never really been an issue when it comes to Star Wars fandom, has it? Hell, I’m off to get a Sy Snootles lower back tattoo as I type this.

Check out IGN’s gameplay trailer below.