The fight for the future has been on hiatus since the rights to the beloved Terminator franchise landed in the hands of the hedge fund Pacificor, leaving Skynet without a studio to back its production of new T-800s. Virtually every conglomerate would want a piece of Cyberdyne, but now it appears that Universal is seriously considering taking over the property as original star Arnold Schwarzenegger is ready to return to film.
Deadline reports that the studio is interested in putting two of its most dependable creative players - director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan - together to work on the next installment of the series. While Lin has handled the last three entries in the Fast and the Furious franchise and Morgan has scripted this April's Fast Five in addition to Wanted and Keanu Reeves upcoming 47 Ronin for the studio, their presence doesn't inspire as much confidence as William Wisher's. Wisher was an uncredited writer on James Cameron's 1984 original and a co-writer of 1991's T2. He supposedly has written a 24-page treatment for the next film and a four-page concept outline for a sixth Terminator film, both of which follow the post-Judgment Day storyline that began in McG's middling 2009 entry Terminator Salvation. What has me excited about Wisher's take on the next chapters is that time travel will play a bigger role in the narrative arc and perhaps he'll finally have an answer to the age old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Of course, none of this is set in stone as there's a lot of deal making that will precede the purchase of the franchise rights, but Deadline's report hints at Schwarzenegger's eagerness to return to acting as the catalyst for this new development. I'd be excited to see the former Governator reprise his iconic role, but will the rest of the world buy it? Universal's decision may hinge on that question...
In 1995, Sylvester Stallone and director Danny Cannon butchered a beloved British comic book character. The Disney-produced Judge Dredd (adapted from the popular 2000 AD comics) was all style, no substance and was the first in an almost never-ending series of cinematic duds from the Rocky star (Daylight, Driven, D-Tox). Because the film strayed so far from the source material, many fans have longed to see their favorite judge, jury and executioner reincarnated for the big screen and now it looks like a well-known genre star will don the helmet and become "the law".
Digital Spy reports that Karl Urban will take on the iconic character in IM Global's new take on Dredd. Pete Travis (Vantage Point) will direct from a script by Alex Garland (28 Days Later). I'm already more optimistic about this attempt at adapting the character because of the significantly more streamlined approach to the project's development. The original film had three credited writers (including current power-producer Michael De Luca and Terminator scribe William Wisher) - a process which often leads to a clash of ideas that can convolute a story. Garland penned this version on his own and given his impressive track record with Danny Boyle (which also resulted in the criminally underrated Sunshine and The Beach), I've got no reason to doubt him.
As for the man behind the helmet, Urban is no stranger to sci-fi or action. The New Zealander has been a working actor for almost twenty years, but became a valued commodity for genre fare after he ventured to Middle Earth to play Eomer in Peter Jackson's gargantuan Lord Of The Rings trilogy (he appeared in the latter pair of films). More physical roles followed, including 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick and The Bourne Supremacy, 2005's Doom and 2007's Pathfinder. By the time audiences got a taste of his critically-hailed turn as Bones in 2009's Star Trek, Urban was already circling the Dredd remake, but officially committed to the character over the weekend after dropping hints about it at the San Diego Comic Con.
Judge Dredd is scheduled to lense this fall for a summer 2012 release, which would give Urban two films to promote that year (the second being the eagerly-awaited Star Trek sequel). In the meantime, you can catch him in this October's Red opposite Bruce Willis and in next summer's Priest with Paul Bettany and Maggie Q.
Source: Digital Spy
While passing through Cairo during a sabbatical from the priesthood following World War II Father Lankester Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) receives an offer from Semelier Ben Cross) a collector of rare antiquities to join a British archeological excavation in the remote Turkana region of Kenya where a Christian Byzantine church has been unearthed. Although Merrin has lost his religion (he left the church after being forced by the Nazis to commit atrocities against people of his parish) the skilled archeologist accepts the mission out of curiosity: The pristinely preserved church dates back more than 1 000 years before Christianity even reached the East African plain. Once there Merrin anxiously heads to the excavation sight and enters the partially buried church to discover it has been vandalized--or so he thinks; a large wooden cross has been broken and hung upside down. He also encounters Dr. Sarah Novack (Izabella Scorupco) who runs a local hospital and informs the men that the last man in charge of the excavation had gone mad and was now in a sanitarium in Nairobi. The mystery thickens when a local boy Joseph (Remy Sweeney) shows signs of satanic possession. The Turkana blame the mysterious church for the unexplained supernatural activity including a woman's delivery of a Satan-like maggot-covered still born infant. Soon tension mounts between the Turkana and the British troops stationed there.
Poor Skarsgard. To his credit the veteran actor tries his best to add a dash of distinctiveness to his underdeveloped character Father Merrin. Skarsgard (King Arthur) supplies Merrin with an air of attitude a sort of aloofness that screams I don't owe anyone anything. Armed with brute strength and fearlessness (he moves a large concrete slab without breaking a sweat and crawls through unlit basements without ever flinching) Merrin is practically transformed into sexy religious superhero. But Skarsgard even can't escape the silly dialogue that explains what is self-explanatory. "If everyone died who buried them?" Merrin asks aloud outside a cemetery where a plague supposedly whiped out the village's population. Scorupco (Reign of Fire) meanwhile doesn't inject anything extra into her rather forgettable role as Sarah a rather sweet but boring physician. Her metamorphosis in an identical looking Regan MacNeil form the original 1973 Exorcist however pumps some much needed thrills into what's otherwise lackluster horror. One of the most memorable performances comes from Alan Ford (Brick Top Polford form Snatch) who plays a perpetually drunk archeologist with a putrid skin ailment. Ford's rendition of Jeffries is so alarmingly disgusting that it makes Lucifer look like a sweetie pie.
The best thing about Exorcist: The Beginning is its deceptively promising opening set in Africa in the mid 400s. It's an eerie scene bound to make audiences' hair stand on end as a lone bedraggled priest slogs through a dry and dusty plain littered with millions of corpses nailed to upside-down crosses. But in its post-World War II setting the film suffers a setback both in storytelling and visuals. The film was originally directed by Paul Schrader who replaced helmer John Frankenheimer who died before filming began. But producers reportedly thought Schrader's version wasn't frightening enough and handed the reins over to Renny Harlin (Driven) in hopes he would turn out a more spine-chilling rendition. But sadly there is no chilling of the spine to be experienced here. Harlin uses horror film clichés to spook the audience like the faithful light-going-out-in-dark-settings scenario that the film feels more like an episode of Scare Tactics. Harlin's special effects are laugh-out-loud funny too including his inane man-eating CGI hyenas with beaming blue eyes. The beasts move about the screen as if they have no weight or substance to them. What makes those cartoony hyenas even sillier though is the fact that their presence is not needed (they're hardly scary) or even explained which pretty much sums up the film's biggest problem: The spotty story leaves too many questions unanswered. The script credited to Caleb Carr and William Wisher and later revised by Alexi Hawley is so vague it's irritating.
Just when you thought the "Batman" franchise had left superhero movies creatively bankrupt, caped crusaders and masked villains are invading Hollywood once again.
This summer's release of "X-Men" promises to be the first in a long list of big-budget comic book adaptations. Many of these were on the back burner for several years but have been making headlines in recent weeks, ever since it was announced that Sam Raimi will likely be the director of Sony's long-awaited "Spider-Man" movie.
"The Greatest American Hero" The latest, and perhaps most bizarre, project announced is a big-screen version of "The Greatest American Hero," the early 1980s TV show that starred William Katt as bumbling superguy Ralph Hinkley (the character's surname was changed to "Hanley" after John Hinckley's attempted assassination of President Reagan). Space aliens give Hinkley a superhero suit and an instruction manual, but he loses the manual and must learn how to harness the powers of the suit on his own, with zany, madcap results. The show, which also starred Connie Sellecca as Katt's girlfriend and Robert Culp as his boss, is probably best remembered for its scenes of Katt learning how to fly and for its zippy theme song. According to Daily Variety, Touchstone Pictures has bought the rights to make a film about the knight-errant man in red tights and has hired two screenwriters to put the project in motion. No word yet on whether the "hero" will turn in those tights for 1990s-style body armor a la Batman.
While the "Greatest American Hero" news came from out of the blue, other super-duper movies have been eagerly awaited by comic geeks, studio licensing executives and toy manufacturers for most of the 1990s. Finally, just last week, Variety reported that the "Fantastic Four" movie, with its long and tangled history, might finally get off the ground with director Roger Donaldson ("Dante's Peak") at the controls. It's a merchandiser's dream -- four superheroes, plus the villains! -- and it's been in the works since 1994, when Marvel Comics made legal maneuvers to prevent director Oley Sassone from releasing his $2 million feature film version of the classic comic.
It's not that Sassone's version wasn't licensed by Marvel, but the comics publisher had received a bigger, better offer from producer-director Chris Columbus ( "Bicentennial Man") to do a first-class job; thus, the cheap quickie was never released and has been relegated to grainy bootleg videotapes sold on the underground. Now Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, the Invisible Girl and Human Torch, not to mention their nemesis Dr. Doom will probably command a $100 million budget if they ever make it to the screen.
The "Fantastic Four" news comes after word that several other Marvel properties are also moving from the back burner to the front. Last week, the trades reported that Columbia Pictures is close to hiring director Mark Steven Johnson ( "Simon Birch") to write and direct "Daredevil," the story of a blind criminal defense attorney by day who dresses up like a demon by night and stalks the city for criminals using his radar-like, radioactivity-enhanced senses to detect danger and evil-doers. Then there's "Dr. Strange," which writer-director Chuck Russell ( "Eraser") has recently been hired (also by Columbia) to develop. There's no speculation yet as to who'll play the young, crime-fighting psychiatrist Stephen Strange, who was known to utter strange incantations such as "By the hoary host of Hoggoth."
While Marvel Comics has the lion's share of superhero movies in the works (studios are also working on adaptations of "The Silver Surfer" and "The Incredible Hulk," although those two projects have been stuck in development hell for some time), rival publisher DC Comics isn't out of the picture, not by a long shot.
Apparently not even George Clooney and Joel Schumacher could succeed in killing Warner Bros.' "Batman" franchise. The studio is reportedly talking to "Pi" director Darren Aronofsky about making "Batman 5," and the studio's highly anticipated "Superman Reborn," once known as "Superman Forever," is said to be gearing up again now after being shelved two years ago when Tim Burton walked away (or was fired, depending on what you believe).
Warners is said to be pleased with the new "Superman" screenplay by Bill Wisher, and the candidate for Most Unlikely to Direct is ... Oliver Stone. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stone is the No. 1 candidate for the job, and the studio wants to take a nontraditional approach to America's most traditional superhero, "sans the tights and more 'Matrix' like." Did Lex Luthor kill President Kennedy? Stay tuned.