Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vamp Cramp

I haven't seen any of the Twilight flicks, and I have to admit that my desire to amend that situation is hovering somewhere between "slim" and "nil."  I guess I'm just too far removed from the demo to invest much emotion in whether Morose Girl picks Shining Boy or Shirtless Boy.  Still, with the proliferation of vampyr-abilia across all corners of pop culture, I point the stake squarely at author Stephenie Meyers for unleashing her legion of Twi-hards upon the unsuspecting world.  In case you needed further proof of Twlight's destructive power, here's Uproxx with a look at some of the other things Twilight has ruined for us besides vampires.

Serkis: Ape

This morning I saw a story on AICN that promised to reveal which actor was playing Caesar, the chimpanzee revolutionary at the center of the upcoming Rise of the Apes.  Before even clicking through, I thought to myself, "Watch it be Andy Serkis."  Then I clicked the link and, uh, yeah, it's Andy Serkis.  While Serkis' face and name may not be familiar to many, his performances no doubt are, thanks to his memorable mo-cap work portraying Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and playing a slightly bigger ape in '05's King Kong.  Based on his work there, it looks like Serkis has become typecast as Hollywood's go-to "motion-capture ape guy."

In Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the film from which this new one most clearly springs, the central ape roles were, of course, played by actors in appliances, with Caesar himself played by series star Roddy McDowall.  Since they are going the all-CG, mo-cap route with this one, I guess Serkis is the guy to do it, and he joins star James Franco, and the recently-announced John Lithgow and Freida Pinto in the cast.  I still have some concerns about how directly Rise will be tied in with the existing Apes mythology, and -- more importantly -- whether it will even click with audiences, but regardless, the film is due to hit theaters just over a year from now (and just under ten years since Fox's last go at the property).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Taibbi Takes Down...

Yep, it's time once again for one of those epic Matt Taibbi smackdowns that always make for such interesting reading.  This time Taibbi, who's blogging for Rolling Stone full-time these days, goes after CBS News correspondent Lara Logan for her criticism of Stone reporter Michael Hasting's ballyhooed piece that led to General McChrystal's resignation (and subsequent retirement).  Of course, Taibbi doesn't stop there, tossing much of the extant media establishment under the bus as well.  Not much else I need to say, so jump on over here and enjoy!

Rockatansky Road

It's taken awhile, but after a quarter-century of wandering the irradiated wasteland of post-nuclear Australia, Max Rockatansky is finally headed back to the movies.  Rockatansky, better known by his nom de cinema of Mad Max, was created by director George Miller and producer Byron Kennedy in the 1979 film of the same name, and set the template for an entire subgenre of post-apocalyptic movies that followed in his wake.  As the lodestone upon which that entire vein of filmmaking is built, Mad Max is one of those brands so iconic that I'm surprised its been out of the public eye as long as it has.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Recommended Reading

Frank Rich on this week's McChrystal brouhaha and its broader implications about both the state of the media and the state of public interest in the Afghanistan war:
The war, supported by a steadily declining minority of Americans, has no chance of regaining public favor unless President Obama can explain why American blood and treasure should be at the mercy of this napping Afghan president. Karzai stole an election, can’t provide a government in or out of a box, and has in recent months threatened to defect to the Taliban and accused American forces of staging rocket attacks on his national peace conference. Until last week, Obama’s only real ally in making his case was public apathy. Next to unemployment and the oil spill, Karzai and Afghanistan were but ticks on our body politic, even as the casualty toll passed 1,000. As a senior McChrystal adviser presciently told [Rolling Stone's Michael] Hastings, “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.”
More at the link.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Focked Up



Weren't we just talking about unnecessary sequels?

For as much as I enjoyed Meet the Parents ten years ago (!!!), I had an equal and opposite negative reaction to its sequel Meet the Fockers, in '04. Thus, my net response to the trailer for the third trip to the well, Little Fockers, is pretty much total apathy, and I'm curious how many people feel the same way I do.  Despite the first sequel's $279 mil domestic total, I chalked that up mostly to goodwill left over from the original, and didn't sense any kind of groundswell for a third entry.  Also, I never thought I'd see the day that Robert De Niro, greatest actor of his generation, was doing "24-hour hard-on" jokes, but here we are.  Ah, progress.

Like with most threequels, the vibe I get from the trailer is an over-reliance on the audience's familiarity with the character and situations from the previous films to do most of the heavy lifting.  To my mind that's just lethal for comedy, but also marks this as strictly a bank account movie.  Just look at the Austin Powers or Naked Gun series, both of which started humbly but morphed into mammoth commercial enterprises with most of the creativity drained away by the time their respective trilogies closed out.  Come to think of it, is there any comedy franchise that's successfully made it to three entries before burning out?  I'm drawing a blank.

The Science of LAW & ORDER

Via College Humor:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The HUMAN Fund

And speaking of successfully exploiting second and third-tier DC Comics characters, a case in point is Fox's terrific Human Target TV series, which ended its first season on a cliffhanger but will (thankfully) be back in the fall.  I sang the show's praises here, but with the first season now up for pre-order you can get it and see for yourself.  And remember, if you order the set (or anything else) through this site, you're helping put a tiny bit of change in my pocket too, so get shopping!

Hexed

I mentioned in my Jonah Hex review earlier this week how I wasn't that familiar with the comic book exploits of the gunslinger, but with yesterday's release of the DC Comics iPhone app, I took care of that (and kissed productivity goodbye) by downloading the first six issues of the current Hex ongoing series (which started in '05). By the time I'd worked my way through them, I was even more irked at the unfortunate movie version.

With Warners no doubt licking their wounds over the film's opening (the worst of the year for a wide release), their natural inclination will be to indulge in some navel gazing to see where they went wrong, but before they get too far ahead of themselves they might want to head over to Heat Vision, where Borys Kit has a fascinating/depressing account of the Frankensteinian process the studio undertook in stitching together several different stories and styles (including what the heck Aidan Quinn and Will Arnett were doing there).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

General Intelligence

Much of the week's news cycle thus far has been consumed with reactions (and reactions to the reactions) to General Stanley McChrystal's offhand -- but not, unfortunately for him, off-the-record -- comments to Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings (whose article you can read in its entirety here here).  This morning, President Obama answered the media's will he/won't he question of canning McChrystal, his point man in the Afghanistan theater, by replacing him with immediate superior David Petraeus.  Now, I don't have near enough knowledge of the ins-and-outs of military strategy to say whether this is anything other than a lateral move, but when Slate's Fred Kaplan says it's a good thing, I tend to listen.

"If I've lost Jon..."

That title is, of course, a paraphrasing of President Johnson's famous quote when he learned that newsman Walter Cronkite, considered the most trusted man in America, had turned against the then-ongoing Vietnam conflict.  "If I've lost Cronkite," said he, "I've lost Middle America." 

Well, I'm not sure what it says about our postmodern times that satirist Jon Stewart has assumed the "most trusted" mantle, but I have to think that if President Obama has caught The Daily Show lately, he's likely echoing Johnson.  Indeed, while Jon's jackhammering of the Obama admin over the whole Deepwater Horizon fiasco has been pointed, it's hardly the first time he's gone after Team Obama, whom he's lampooned at least as pointedly as he did the previous White House.

Salon's Matt Zoller Seitz makes the point, and I agree fully, that this commitment to principle over politics, even if it means smacking down your own guy, is what raises Stewart beyond the partisan bomb-throwing he's usually accused of on the right.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Song Selections

Topless Robot picks their ten favorite theme songs from '80s cartoons.  I might have a quibble or two with some of the placements (G.I. Joe is always number one for me) and some of the selections (what the hell is My Little Pony doing on there?) but overall it's a rock solid list.  I defy you not to get sucked into the YouTube black hole and get lost for a few hours once you start clicking on some of those embedded vids.  And yes, I liked the Jem song when I was a kid.  Shut up.

Jason the Barbarian

In January I posted about the upcoming Conan the Barbarian reboot, directed by Marcus Nispel and starring Baywatch and Stargate actor Jason Momoa as Robert E. Howard's creation.  From seeing him on the latter, I was supportive of his selection, and from this first production still (via AICN), it appears the filmmakers have gotten the look down as well.  Obviously this is a project that will likely live or die based on the script and production-quality, but casting-wise they done good.

Stirring the Hornet's Nest

As a film property, the Green Hornet has been bouncing around the development slate for so long now that whatever pop culture cache the character may have had (from his popular 1930s radio show, but more likely thanks to the late Bruce Lee's role as sidekick "Kato" on the short-lived '60s TV series) has long since gone away.  The Hornet is now in the same position as The Shadow, or Doc Savage.  Yes, the names may be familiar to a few, but for most general audiences, they're an almost-total blank slate.  Even for me, I have a very basic familiarity with the character and concept, and that's about it.

Thus, after rights-holder Columbia spent more than a decade flirting with everyone from George Clooney to Greg Kinnear to play the lead in their Green Hornet feature film, the idea of casting Seth Rogen who, let's be honest, doesn't exactly exhude "superhero," as the millionaire-turned-vigilante was either a masterstroke of expectation management, or a desperate bid to give the property some currency.  Adding Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) to the mix as director is, again, one of those decisions that will either be lauded for its brilliance or derided for its boneheadedness, and either way it'll be in hindsight.

Hornet was supposed to see release this summer, but has been pushed back to January to convert the already-finished film to 3D.  Either that's a positive assessment of the movie's wide appeal, or a desperate bid to make some extra bucks off an apparent turkey.  I get no clues from the just-released first trailer, which isn't that bad for what it is.  My initial read is that Rogen really did get into shape for the part, and appears to be playing it (somewhat) straight.  The tone of the sell seems a bit schizophrenic though, as if the studio hasn't quite figured out if it's an action movie with comedy, or a comedy with action in it.  I'm willing to give it a shot, but I'm genuinely curious what the postgame on this one will be.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Jonah and the Fail

Zaki's Review: JONAH HEX

The real tragedy of Jonah Hex is that Josh Brolin is a good enough actor to almost make you forget what a lousy movie it is.  Almost.  This is a film so slapdash, so incompetently assembled that, at a scant (though hardly breezy) 80 minutes, you start wondering what exactly was cut out if this is what they left in. Before it's even finished, with the character riding off for further cinematic adventures that will remain forever unseen, you're performing a mental autopsy to try and pinpoint the cause of death.  Was it gross negligence, rampant neglect, or some combination thereof?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Padded Sell

Ever since I got my first iPod Touch a few years back, there's been nary a moment that it isn't by my side or in my hand.  When I'm not busy scouting content for this site, I'm checking my Facebook or e-mail or bank balance.  When the iPad was announced, it took every ounce of reserve to keep me from hitting up the Apple Store the instant it came out.  Knowing me, I have a strong suspicion I'll end up with one eventually, but Peter Bregman makes a pretty good case for why I shouldn't.  Not because of flaws in the technology, but because of flaws in our own nature.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Get 'im, Johnny!"

Putting the pin on all the Karate Kid talk, AV Club recently conducted a lengthy interview with actor William Zabka, forever immortalized as the original film's quintessential baddie Johnny Lawrence. While his turn as Daniel-San's nemesis was just one of many douchebag roles he essayed onscreen throughout the '80s, Zabka, still a working actor (seen most recently in the underrated Hot Tub Time Machine), is comfortable with his Cobra Kai infamy, and seems like a pretty cool guy to boot. Who knew!

Ghost Write-Off

Yesterday I mentioned Columbia's ramping up Karate Kid Mark II, Part II, but here's another Sony sequel in active development I'm trying to figure out who exactly was clamoring for. I missed Ghost Rider during its theatrical run in early '07, but when I finally caught it on DVD a few months later, it was even worse than the reviews had led me to expect. It was almost as if writer/director Mark Steven Johnson had taken all the fanboy bile and badwill he'd built up from his mediocre Daredevil in '03 and said, "You think that's bad? Well, check this out!"

Bear in mind that I'm one of the few people who didn't hate Daredevil (especially the far-superior Director's Cut, which stands head-and-shoulders above the theatrical release), so it's not like I was rooting for the guy to fail, but holy yikes! The flaws start with the miscast Nic Cage in the lead, and head rapidly downhill from there, leaving a charred trail in their wake. It's so bad that not even the presence of poor Peter Fonda and the usually-dependable Sam Elliott in the cast are enough to save things. I could go on and on if I had the time and/or inclination but, well, I don't.

With the first one taking in an only so-so $115 mil domestic take against a $110 mil budget (though, granted, it did better internationally), a sequel seems counter-intuitive, even with the studio going in grittier direction that jettisons everything about the first one but Cage (who remains a box office draw). But then, Sony's interest here is financial, not artistic. At risk of losing the Ghost Rider license to Marvel's owners at the Mouse House if they sit on it for too long, they'd rather churn out an unwanted sequel than allow that to happen. Is Hollywood the dream factory, or what?

Blue Dawgs

God help us. 



After seeing this, I'm feeling the sudden, uncontrollable urge to punch something.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

You knew THIS was coming...

When I did my Karate Kid Nostalgia Theater last week, I was only half-joking about the remake spawning its own line of sequels.  Well, with a $54 mil haul last weekend that blew away all expectations and more than earned back its production budget, Deadline broke the most anticlimactic news of all time earlier this week.  In the series' previous life, 1986's The Karate Kid, Part II took in an impressive $115 million domestic total (outgrossing its predecessor), but Part III in '89 completely flamed out with a paltry $39 mil (the less said about The Next Karate Kid, the better).  Any bets on what the shelf-life will be for the Jaden Smith wing of the Karate Kid franchise?

Eighth Time's the Charm?

And while we're on the subject, here's Jon Stewart from last night's Daily Show helpfully pointing out that Obama is just the latest president in a trail of broken promises and blown deadlines when it comes to achieving energy-independence.  As with Stewart at his best, it's both sidesplittingly funny and really freakin' depressing.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Recommended Reading

President Obama's Oval Office address Tuesday night was intended by his handlers to tackle the BP oil spill head-on, with many preemptively comparing it to JFK's "We will land on the moon" exhortation from '61 in its ability to galvanize the public in charting a course away from fossil fuel dependance.  And yet, most of the reaction has been muted at best.  Andrew Wood examines  Obama's Tuesday speech in terms of what was said and -- more tellingly -- what wasn't.  A highlight:
...our war is not against this particular spill, dreadful as it is. Nor is the problem solely with British Petroleum. In fact, protestors who take pride in picketing their neighborhood BP gas stations, only to fuel their SUVs at another station down the street, are pointing their weapons in the wrong direction.

Our struggle is with a notion that American horizons must never be constrained by reality, that we can have our cars and lawns, and certainly our extravagant houses, without considering the price we pay by maintaining a society with so little regard for efficiency or sustainability.

Our ongoing economic recession, where we first heard the term "Jingle Mail" to represent the growing clammer of homeowners mailing their keys to the bank to stop drowning in underwater mortgages, is merely the first shock to a system that has endured longer than we deserve. Since World War II, when we promised ourselves an endless cornucopia of suburban houses and bulging refrigerators, our war has been against reality. And now reality has the upper hand.
Much more at the link.

Dick Wolf Talks UK, LA, Cancellation

In a video posted to Digital Spy a few days ago, Law & Order creator Dick Wolf has what I believe is his first on-camera conversation about the show's abrupt dismissal from NBC's lineup last month, with his thoughts on the series finale and the prospects of some kind of "wrap-up" movie for the show (his feelings echo my own on that one). There's also some talk in there about the currently-ongoing UK version, as well as a very brief mention of what to expect from the impending LA model.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kung Fresh

Zaki's Review: THE KARATE KID (2010)

I have a very simple rule when it comes to sequels, prequels, and remakes: "First, do no harm."

What has to be asked in attempting to extend the shelf life of a successful film property once, twice, or thrice is whether it meets or exceeds the qualitative bar set by its progenitor. Of course, the mercenary nature of the movie industry makes this a pretty tough prospect, and the Hollywood highway is littered with franchises that started out strong and simply ventured out one sequel too far.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The LAW Report

Gene Ritchings, longtime production coordinator of the Law & Order mothership, shares his behind-the-scenes remembrances of the recently-deceased series:
Within the “glamorous” world of a film crew there is often factionalizing, back-biting, ego-busting, petty competitiveness, and a sour, spiteful atmosphere, quite apart from the creative conflict necessary to produce the best possible product. Yet Law & Order was legendary among New York film crews as a great place to work. In an industry where – as Dick Wolf once said of Hollywood – “Shadenfreude is considered a polite emotion,” everyone worked together respectfully and supportive of each other’s contribution. Whatever momentary bitchery erupted in the daily tumult of working in a highly charged atmosphere, I am sure everyone who ever worked on Law & Order is sharing a deep grief at the end of a remarkable experience.
There's more, including a terrific memory of the late, lamented Jerry Orbach upon his retirement after twelve years playing Det. Lennie Briscoe.

In other news, replacement series Law & Order: Los Angeles doesn't have its cast yet, but is still targeting a fall premiere.  A few days ago Aussielo posted the casting breakdown that's going out to agents and, no great surprise, it sticks pretty rigidly to the established formula that's served the brand so well in the past.  Details after the jump.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A-Listed

Zaki's Review: THE A-TEAM

At one point during The A-Team, director Joe Carnahan's unquestionably dumb, undeniably fun redo of the seminal '80s adventure series, the titular team is stuck in a tank that's plummeting out of the sky toward the ground and certain doom. Spotting a nearby lake, their leader, Col. John "Hannibal" Smith (Liam Neeson), orders the turret angled and several volleys fired. Before you know it, they've nudged the tank over in mid-air, and "flown" it over to the lake. Splash.

If that description fails to elicit even a half-smile from you, then you can pretty much guess where you fit as far as this film's intended audience.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nostalgia Theater: Karate Kid Edition

The Karate Kid redux premieres today, and while a few folks out there are livid at the rank hubris it takes to redo such a beloved institution, I'm taking it mostly in stride.  After all, even if this one ends up being hugely successful, even if it generates its own set of diminished-returns sequels, I can almost guarantee you it'll never spawn this...

Transgressions

Until now, the only thing we've heard about the highly-anticipated (not by me, mind you) third Transformers movie, due next summer, is that my favorite dead-eyed actress Megan Fox had departed the production (jumped or pushed, depending on who you ask), and was promptly swapped out for another piece of eye candy.  But franchise director Michael Bay recently gave USA Today the lowdown on some of what he has planned for the series' third leg, including revealing the Big Bad (who may be familiar to diehard fans).

Now, longtime followers of this site know that I happened to like the first Transformers quite a bit, and was anxiously awaiting the first sequel.  Of course, anyone who read my review of Revenge of the Fallen last year also knows what my experience with that was like.  So you can probably see why it's been a chore for me to muster much enthusiasm for whatever tidbits of news have trickled out thus far for this next entry (or the promise of a next entry at all, for that matter).

To his credit, and like series star Shia LaBeouf did a few weeks ago, Bay does cop to the first sequel's failings, but if the saying is "once burned, twice shy," then for me the last one was like that scene in Home Alone when Joe Pesci's head gets blasted with a blowtorch.  When it comes to Transformers 3, it'll take a whole lot more than I think Bay is capable of to convince me I wouldn't rather stick an icepick in my ear than watch it.  But hey, I'm keeping an open mind.  Really.

Recommended Reading

In today's hyperactive media culture, where pre-packaged talking points stand in for substantive discourse, any discussion of the ongoing Mid-East conflict inevitably lapses into the binary configurations of "my side: right" and "your side: wrong" without even a cursory attempt to encompass the many complex issues that have kept a lasting peace forever at arm's length. In one of the better pieces I've read on the subject, historian Tony Judt cuts through some of the rhetorical barnacles that have accumulated vis-à-vis Israel, Gaza, etc.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thorful

AICN was first up with this, and I'm posting it here out of more a sense of duty than anything else.  Yesterday Entertainment Tonight aired a segment about their visit to the New Mexico set of Thor, and while it did offer our first glimpses at stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman in action (as well as Anthony Hopkins as Odin), it was all I could do to get through the four minutes before my brain calcified from listening to the vacant windbag of a host.  Between the guy asking Portman about her chemistry with Hemsworth (Seriously, what do you think she'll say?  "No, we don't have any.") to his constant mentions of the actor's size, I wanted to lob a hammer at my computer screen.  I haven't watched ET since around the same age I would've been interested in the VMAs, and I think I know why now.  Anyway, check out the vid after the jump but, y'know, caveat emptor and all that.

Marshall talks Indy and Bourne

In reference to those Indiana Jones rumors I expressed skepticism about yesterday, Indy producer Frank Marshall, who's probably in as good a position to know as anyone, has taken to his Twitter account to put the kibosh on them:
The rumor about INDY 5 is completely false. Nothing has changed, we are not shooting next year and still in the research phase...
So, like I said.  Gonna happen, just not yet.

Marshall, who also produces the Jason Bourne movies for Universal, additionally revealed via Twitter that writer Tony Gilroy, who scripted the very-successful Bourne trilogy based on the late Robert Ludlum's novels, is back in the fold to pen a fourth installment.  What this means for star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, both of whom had begged off further entries, remains unknown for now.

The BP Braintrust

A little on the nose?



(Thanks to the folks at Upright Citizens Brigade for this one.)

Gross, man.

Back in '08, I picked Tropic Thunder as one of my fave five of the year (for which I took no end of grief from some), but even though I loved (and still love) the movie, what I didn't love was Tom Cruise's extended "cameo" as Hollywood mogul Les Grossman.  That he drew so many accolades for such a showy, obnoxious turn is a testament, I think, to the power of lowered expectations.  My problem with Cruise's screen persona is that even when he does Oscar-bait stuff like Vanilla Sky or Valkyrie, too many of his actorly mannerisms shine through to ever allow him truly vanish into a role (and I don't see that impression changing later this month with Knight and Day, which frankly looks terrible).

Just compare Cruise in Tropic Thunder with his castmate Robert Downey's Oscar-nommed role as black-faced Aussie actor Kirk Lazarus to see what I mean about disappearing inside a character.  Anyway, Grossman made a comeback a few days ago during the MTV VMA show (which I didn't watch -- mainly because I have a soul, but also because I'm not thirteen), and now, because no one in particular demanded it, Cruise is set to reprise Grossman in a straight-ahead feature.  The as-yet-untitled Les Grossman flick will be produced by Cruise and Tropic director Ben Stiller, and released by Paramount, who apparently miss their mid-to-late-'90s role as sole purveyor of features based on one-note Saturday Night Live characters.

TEAM Dispirit

With Fox's big screen revamp of The A-Team hitting theaters tomorrow, Nikki Finke has a fascinating, warts-and-all look at the flick's decade-plus journey through Hollywood's development hell, and how the whole thing was nearly scuttled at every turn by a Fox exec who, surprisingly enough, isn't Tom Rothman.  I know, I'm as shocked as you.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Meloni Exits SVU

The knocks keep coming for longtime Law & Order watchers.  We've already covered the demise of the original show ad infinitum here, but now comes the news that Christopher Meloni, who's starred as hard-bitten detective Elliot Stabler on Special Victims Unit since its 1999 premiere, will depart the skein at the close of next season (its twelfth).  This comes via the man himself, who also offers some thoughts on how he'd like to see Stabler leave the force (hint: he wouldn't retire).  In addition to Meloni's departure being momentous in its own right, it also leaves the future of the veteran series beyond next season in doubt.

Unlike the L&O mothership, which practically made its reputation on swapping its players like baseball cards, SVU, while possessing a very talented ensemble, has primarily revolved around stars Meloni and Mariska Hargitay.  While this has earned the pair a considerable amount of audience loyalty, it also makes the way forward a bit more complicated.  Still unknown is whether Hargitay returns sans Meloni (my guess is no), and, failing that, whether the show continues without its original stars.  Given the brand's storied history, I'm guessing it will, but I'd hate to see Dick Wolf go all "Coy and Vance" and risk diminishing the show's legacy.

And by way of another interesting stat, SVU actor Richard Belzer has been playing his character John Munch since 1993, having originated him on Homicide: Life on the Street before transferring to Special Victims upon the former's cancellation.  After next season, that would put him just two years shy of tying the record for longest-running primetime character (alongside Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke and Kelsey Grammer's Dr. Frasier Crane).  Curious to see if he gets the chance to match or meet that record.  Given how things worked out for the original Law & Order, it could go either way.

Jonesin'

You knew it was only a matter of time before folks started talking about another Indiana Jones flick, and AICN had a post yesterday claiming to reveal the next movie's plot, with the promise of less CGI and a return to the old school filmmaking that made the original three so beloved.  Honestly, considering that we heard Indy IV chatter for more than a decade before the movie even came out, and most of it differed significantly from what we actually got, I'll believe this when I'm walking out of the theater.

Still, given the global box office tally for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and given the continuing stagnation in Harrison Ford's career, it does seem more likely than not that Professor Jones will be running-and-jumping on the big screen at least one more time.  It also seems that the audience is still there -- albeit a little warier after the collective crotch-kick we all experienced last time.

To wit, here's my buddy Brian Hall summing up the sequel's challenge:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Feeling Kombative

While channel-surfing across HBO recently, I happened to catch Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, last year's misbegotten attempt to reinvent the video game favorite as a more "serious" film franchise that would (they hoped) consign the craptastic Jean-Claude Van Damme version from 1994 to the circle file in much the same way Nolan's Batman films have done with Schumacher's.

But let's be honest, Batman Begins this wasn't.  The Legend of Chun-Li (starring Smallville's Kristen Kreuk in the title role, and poor, poor Neal McDonough as the main baddie), starts out as just sort of run-of-the-mill mediocre, but it's elevated to a whole new plateau of legendary badness when Chris Klein (of Rollerball infamy) makes his entrance as "tough guy" detective Charlie Nash.  Really, I don't even have the words.

Why do I bring this up?  Because it looks like Mortal Kombat, that other big fighting game from the '90s, may get the "so serious it's hilarious" treatment as well.  You might (or, more realistically, might not) remember that the game was previously adapted to the big screen in two mediocre-to-bad offerings in '95 and '97, but director Kevin Tancharoen is hoping that this demo reel he filmed will drum up studio interest in another Kombat flick (and why's it spelled with a "K" anyway?):

Tolerance: Zero

Following up on my recent post about Cordoba House, the planned Islamic cultural center in downtown NY, here's a look at some of the protests it's incurred, including this gem:
At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

"Go home," several shouted from the crowd.

"Get out," others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called "The Way." Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

"I'm a Christian," Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.
Sometimes you just have to shake your head at this stuff.

(Thanks to my friend Eric San Juan for sending this one my way.)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Nolan Talks Batman and Superman


Chris Nolan recently recently sat down for an interview with Empire mag to discuss next month's Inception, and they also got in some talk about the next Batman and Superman projects, both of which he's shepherding and both of which are aiming at a 2012 release.  While the Empire site doesn't have the interview up yet, the folks at Superhero Hype were nice enough to pull the relevant highlights for us. 

In addition to confirming that he won't be helming the rebooted Man of Steel flick, Nolan also disclosed that he hasn't as yet signed on to close out his Batman trilogy (though that is his intention).  Click here to read more, including whether or not the Joker will return in the next Batman, his secret to making Superman and Batman work, and how DC's movies differ from Marvel's offerings.

Before the Storm

It's been fortysome days since the Deepwater Horizon rig started spewing a bubbling crude (oil, that is) into the Gulf Coast, with some estimates saying it could be as long as Christmas time before it's capped. As if the certainty of longterm environmental harm wasn't comforting enough, the oil has now stretched its tendrils into Florida's hurricane corridor, and with storm season nearly upon us, this whole thing could turn into a Roland Emmerich flick before too long. TPM examines the worst case scenarios, but be aware that after you read them you might be tempted to walk into traffic.

Flotilla Clusterf#&k, Part II

Following up on yesterday's post about The Daily Show's take on the media's coverage of recent events in the Persian Gulf, Jon Stewart reacts to Glenn Beck's reaction to the media reaction.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Glenn Beck Airs Israeli Raid Footage
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Hammer Holder

Yep, it's Thor.

I realize that after yesterday's leak of Captain America's costume designs, this one seems almost anti-climactic -- especially since we've already seen a production still -- but I'm posting it here for completeness' sake (and you can see more at Collider). As I've sad before, I really like the look that director Kenneth Branagh is going for, and I think Chris Hemsworth is a terrific visual fit for the part (and after his brief turn in Star Trek last year, I don't doubt that he has the acting chops as well).

Like with the Cap images, however, it's worth clarifying that these are computer-generated concept mockups, so while they do give us more details of the how the suit will look, they don't provide an actual representation of Hemsworth all duded up. As clarified by HitFix's Drew McWeeney, who has seen the costume up-close and in action, while the image above is accurate, it's not necessarily film accurate, as lighting and context will also do some of the lifting.

Flotilla Clusterf#&k

Over the last few days, there's been plenty of reaction in the media to recent goings-on in Israel, Gaza, and the Persian Gulf.  Now Jon Stewart has a reaction to the reaction.  I'll tell you, after two weeks of Daily Show reruns, it's sure good to have 'em back.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Clusterf#&k to the War House - Korean Peninsula & Middle East
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cats' Meow

It looks like animated fave ThunderCats is the latest '80s property to hit the comeback trail, courtesy of current rights-holder Warner Bros. and Cartoon Network.  While I wasn't really a fan of the show growing up, this news fits comfortably enough within this site's wheelhouse that I figured it was worth noting here.  Hailing from the same era of syndicated kidvid that unleashed Transformers and G.I. Joe on America's toy-buying population of prepubescents, ThunderCats premiered in 1985 and tracked the exploits of a race of cat-people from the planet Thundera stranded on the primordial "Third Earth."

I can't say I was really clamoring for this, as the original always struck me as a warmed-over He-Man retread with fur.  Then again, maybe I was just looking for logic in the wrong place.  I also found it strange how each ThunderCat had a name representing their specific cat-race (the lion guy was Lion-O, the tiger guy was Tigra, the cheetah woman was Cheetara, etc.).  If that was the case, what were the other lion people or tiger people called, since all the cool names were already taken?  Yes, this is the stuff I spent time thinking about as a kid.  Anyway, I know the show still has plenty of fans who I'm sure will be very excited by this news, so there it is.

Quote of the Day

A tweet from writer Gerry Duggan:
Um, I don't want to cause a panic but BP's chairman just put his baby son into a rocket and blasted him into outer space.

Shield Wielder

Yep, it's Captain America.

While JoBlo went up a few days ago with a description of the suit being utilized in next summer's Captain America: The First Avenger, I was hesitant to link to it without some visuals.  Well, AICN has solved that problem with a series of images depicting what they confirm are the finalized designs for Cap's movie togs.  Gotta say, I love this.  It perfectly captures the character's iconic look while updating it enough to work in live action (and it sure beats the heck out of this).  Very much looking forward to seeing some actual stills of Chris Evans on the set.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

LAW Practice

Just back after a very busy week in Hollywood working on a new project that you'll hopefully hear more about soon.  In between prepping, planning, and shooting, there was some downtime too, and when I wasn't catching a flick in theaters (including Prince of Persia, for which I should have a review up tomorrow), I was busy getting my Mr. Boy cohorts hopelessly hooked on the entire Law & Order catalog.

Of course, with the preponderance of reruns littering the cable landscape, there's rarely a moment when some iteration of the brand isn't playing, so it's pretty hard not to get hooked.  Once USA's Special Victims Unit marathon kicked in this past Memorial Day, it was all over for Team Boy.  I'd offered the first hit and created a couple of junkies.  That addictiveness is what powers the franchise's loyalty -- whether SVU, CI, UK, or OG -- and it's why the Los Angeles transplant will probably enjoy just as healthy a lifespan as its siblings (notwithstanding 2005's there-and-gone Trial By Jury).