Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chris Evans: Captain America Gets an ‘Awesome’ New Look in ‘The Avengers’

This was probably expected, but Captain America star Chris Evans revealed in an MTV News interview that the character will be getting an entirely new look when he is thawed out to team up with Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and other Marvel Comics luminaries in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, which hits screens next summer.

“[It’s a] new costume,” Evans told MTV of Cap’s modern garb, which promises to be a departure from the World War II-era look he’ll be sporting in his film debut this summer. “Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s really cool.”

The Avengers
started filming this week in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Check out video of MTV’s sit-down with Evans below.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

‘Green Lantern’ Gets an Extra $9 Million to Fix Effects

So, you know how the Green Lantern trailers we’ve been seeing make the film look like a video game cutscene…from like 10 years ago? Well, as reported by Variety, Warner Bros. has taken notice, funneling an additional $9 million to the production to beef up the CGI before the film’s June 17 release date.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Green Lantern is going to suck entirely, but it seems to me as though the studio’s confidence in the Martin Campbell-helmed project might be waning as the release date approaches. We learned a few weeks back that Warner Bros. plans on expanding the cinematic DC Universe as Marvel Studios has done with its properties, and a misstep at this point would hurt the chances of other DC films getting the green light. Green Lantern needs to do well, and based on what we’ve seen so far, June 17 could be more of a Blackest Night than a Brightest Day for fans of the character.

Variety notes that this last-minute scurrying is typical of many big budget special effects-heavy films as of late, and this summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon have faced similar production crunches.

Chris de Faria, Warner Bros.’ executive vice president of digital production, had some assuring words for those eagerly anticipating the film.

“There is no problem on Green Lantern,” he said. “We try to add things to make the movie better until the 11th hour. That doesn’t mean we're risking the movie up to the 11th hour.”

To read the full story, click here.

‘Avengers’ Assembles!

With Marvel Studios’ Thor getting glowing early reviews leading up to its May 6th release date, we’re officially allowed to start really geeking out about next Summer’s The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s ambitions Marvel team-up flick featuring the aforementioned Asgardian hammer-wielder, Captain America (whose solo film hits screens in July), the Hulk and Iron Man. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, the anticipated ensemble flick—long believed to be unfilmable—has begun principal photography in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Other shooting locations include Cleveland and New York City.

Here’s what we know so far. Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. will be returning as Thor, Cap and Iron Man respectively, while Mark Ruffalo steps in for Ed Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Tom Hiddleston, who plays Thor’s devious brother Loki, is also set to reprise his Marvel Studios role, as are Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Stellan Skarsgard (Professor Eric Selvig) Samuel L. Jackson (Agent Nick Fury) and Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson).

Newcomers to this veritable cinematic Merry Marvel Marching Society include How I Met Your Mother Star Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) as Hawkeye. It should be noted that Renner reportedly has a cameo in Thor, so keep an eye out for him. Get it? Because…nevermind.

Head over to EW.com to check out an exclusive set photo from the first day of filming, which gives us a glimpse of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo as it appears in the film.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige Discusses the Film Future of the Marvel Universe

In anticipation of Thor’s May 6 theatrical release, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Disney twenty-three magazine that the cinematic Marvel Universe will continue to expand after next summer’s Avengers team-up flick.

In addition to Iron Man 3, which will be helmed by Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black, Marvelites can look forward to more superhero solo outings in the years ahead.

“Thor will go off into a new adventure, and Captain America will continue to explore the modern world in another film of his own,” Feige told the quarterly publication of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club, which hits stands May 3. Beginning with The Avengers, all Marvel Studios-produced films will be released by Disney.

He continued, “We hope that holds true for the characters appearing in that film—Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the spy organization, S.H.I.E.L.D—all of whom are more than worthy and capable of carrying their own films. And, we’ve got a lot of other characters we’re prepping and getting ready for film debuts: the world of martial arts, these great cosmic space fantasies, Dr. Strange, and the magic side of the Marvel Universe. There are many, many stories to be mined.”

Awesome. Let’s just hope quality isn’t compromised with so many Marvel films on the agenda. To read more about the future of the cinematic Marvel Universe, head over to IGN.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Little Girl Joins the Dark Side at Disneyland

A little girl by the name of Sariah Gallego participated in Disneyland’s “Jedi Academy Training” to duel with Darth Vader, and the Dark Lord of the Sith no doubt found her understanding of the Force at such a young age to be “impressive…most impressive.” Yoda was reportedly less enthused.

This clip comes from YouTube user erndog714, and it gets funnier every time I watch it. For an extra laugh, check out the Stormtroopers’ reactions to Sariah’s unexpected dark side decision. Enjoy!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Role Revealed

Weeks ago, we learned that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be reteaming with Inception director Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises, but the specifics of his role remained unclear. After reports that the Golden Globe-nominated actor would be playing Alberto Falcone—son of Gotham crime boss Carmine Falcone—were proven false, Batfans were left scratching their heads. Which villain would Gordon-Levitt play? The Mad Hatter? The Riddler? Calendar Man?

Well, the reality is nowhere near as exciting as any of those suggestions (hey, I like Calendar Man). As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Gordon-Levitt has been cast as John Blake, described by Warner Bros. as “a Gotham City beat cop assigned to special duty under the command of Commissioner Gordon [played by Gary Oldman].”

Pedestrian? Sure. But with Gordon-Levitt’s fellow Inception alum Tom Hardy playing Bane and Anne Hathaway stepping into the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman, the movie’s full of iconic baddies as is. Also, it’s great seeing big-name actors playing these smaller roles.

Speaking of smaller roles, Oscar winner Marion Cotillard—yet another of Nolan’s returning Inception cast members—will play Miranda Tate, “a Wayne Industries board member eager to help a still-grieving Bruce Wayne [played by Christian Bale] resume his father’s philanthropic endeavors for Gotham.”

Interesting. For more on this story, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

‘Deadpool’ Has a Director

It looks like Fox is finally getting the ball rolling on Deadpool, its X-Men spin-off featuring everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth. Deadline.com reports that visual effects guru Tim Miller will direct, and Ryan Reynolds—who had a bit part as the wisecracking antihero in X-Men Origins: Wolverine—is expected to star. Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are working on the script.

Although the character has fallen out of favor with many Marvel Comics readers due to sheer oversaturation (I mean, how many Deadpool series do we really need?), it’s cool that Reynolds is willing to commit to two superhero franchises from different sides of the comic book universe at the same time. He’s already starring in Warner Bros./DC Entertainment’s Green Lantern, opening June 17, and if that film rakes in the green (snort!), sequels won’t be far behind. Furthermore, since this summer’s X-Men: First Class marks the fifth film in the franchise (with more on the way), it’s unlikely that the character’s first solo outing on the big screen will be a one-off. So, yeah, Mr. Reynolds might be busy for a few years.

As for Miller, my first reaction was … who? Deadline notes that he created and owns Blur Studios, and he’s directed “numerous cutting-edge video game trailers.” Upon further inspection, he’s done visual effects work for geek-friendly fare such as Daredevil, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Bryan Singer’s X-Men and X2: X-Men United. This might be his directorial debut, but at least he’s played in this sandbox before. I’m curious to see how this turns out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Michael Shannon Cast as General Zod in ‘Man of Steel’

It looks like Superman will face General Zod in Zack Snyder’s forthcoming franchise reboot, Man of Steel. The studio confirmed that Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, 8 Mile, Boardwalk Empire) will be playing the role of the maniacal Kryptonian supervillain.

In a Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures press release, which you can read in full at Superhero Hype, Snyder said that “Zod is not only one of Superman's most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant because he has insights into Superman that others don’t.”

He continued, “Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.”

Zod first crossed paths with Kal-El in the pages of Adventure Comics back in 1961, but the character garnered mainstream recognition following his appearance in Richard Donner’s Superman (1978) and, most notably, Superman II (1980). In the Donner films he was played by Terence Stamp, who ordered the world to “kneel before Zod” while Kal-El traded his sun-enhanced abilities for a chance at a normal life with Lois Lane. Various iterations of Zod—most of which have been influenced by the film version—have appeared elsewhere, including Superman: The Animated Series and Smallville.

Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) has been ripped to shreds for its laborious tribute to Donner’s films, and I was under the impression that Snyder was going to approach Man of Steel as if no Superman films came before it. Why, then, is he going after the one memorable villain from the original series that wasn’t Lex Luthor? Furthermore, will Snyder and Shannon be able to resist the urge to mimic Stamp’s iconic performance? Is there any chance we won’t hear the “kneel before Zod” line at least once in this flick? Am I asking too many questions?

Man of Steel hits theaters in December 2012.

A Wort Report Double Feature: ‘Sucker Punch’ and ‘Your Highness’ Reviewed

Sucker Punch

Although I saw Sucker Punch during its debut weekend—on the night of March 27 to be exact—I’ve held off on posting my definitive opinion of it. This delay is partly because of a hectic work schedule over the past few weeks, but it’s also because I frankly wasn’t even sure if I liked it or not. Yes, the visuals are astounding, which is pretty much expected from Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) at this point. However, I feel that the core narrative robs the viewer of the opportunity to enjoy much of what they see on screen. It’s cool to watch hot chicks in lingerie fighting steam-powered zombies, orcs, dragons and robots, but when the battles exist on a plane that’s two planes of existence removed from the film’s version of reality, there’s little reason for the viewer to get excited about any of it.

Sucker Punch revolves around Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a girl who is institutionalized by her abusive father and is scheduled to be lobotomized in five days. Once she’s locked inside the confines of a mental asylum, Sucker Punch shifts to another level of reality, where the girls are instead dancers in a sleazy bordello. When Baby Doll and her fellow inmates seek out each of the five items that will grant them their liberty, the film shifts perspective yet again, taking the viewer to outlandish fantasy settings ripped straight from your favorite video games.

If all of this sounds confusing, that’s because it is. Sucker Punch is hardly the “turn-off-your-brain” popcorn flick its trailers would have you believe. As vignettes, each of the film’s battle-torn dreamscapes is a testament to Snyder’s ability to dive into the brain of the average 13-year-old male and give them exactly what they want. However, these set pieces are packaged in such a dire narrative wrapper that we’re never really able to sit back and soak up the manic spectacle.

It’s hard for me to outright recommend Sucker Punch to the average viewer, yet I do think Snyder should be commended for trying something different. The film borrows from a variety of sources—including Japanese anime, video games, comic books and several other sci-fi/fantasy films—but all of these influences are pieced together in a wholly original way. Sucker Punch isn’t a sequel, a reboot, a prequel or an adaptation, and even though it was hardly a box-office success, it takes risks in a genre that has become increasingly dependent on built-in audiences. We should appreciate that.

Your Highness

Speaking of built-in audiences, sophomoric fantasy farce Your Highness opened this weekend. A medieval take on the stoner comedy, this film was helmed by Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green, who reteams with James Franco and Danny McBride to mix swords and sorcery epics with dick and fart jokes. If you’ve seen and loved the red band (R-rated) trailers for the film, there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy Your Highness. It doesn’t approach any comedic high water marks by any means, but I think we all need some filthy, low-brow humor once in a while. I paid $11.25 for my ticket, and I feel as though I got my money’s worth.

Starring alongside Franco and McBride is the Black Swan herself, Natalie Portman, who flexes her comedic muscles once again after the surprisingly good No Strings Attached. The Oscar-winning actress is showing a lot of range as of late, and I can’t wait to see her in Marvel Studios’ Thor, which hits theaters March 6.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Wort Repose

If you know where I work, chances are you’ll understand why I haven’t posted any updates in the last week. If you’re still wondering why I’ve been so busy, let’s just say I was preoccupied with something this past weekend that sort of rhymes with “Pennsylvania” and involves lots and lots of pyrotechnics (and this year, Snooki).

This week, I’m taking a much-needed breather from the blogosphere, but fear not! I’ll be back to commenting on the latest and greatest geek news right here in just a few days. Until then, feel free to stalk me on Twitter.