In the cinematic desert that is the January-February movie-release schedule one gains a greater appreciation for mere competence. And that’s precisely what you’ll get with Man on a Ledge a mid-budget thriller with modest aspirations and genuine popcorn appeal. Sam Worthington (Avatar Clash of the Titans) stars as Nick Cassidy a former New York City cop wrongly convicted for the theft of a prized diamond. After exhausting all judicial avenues for exoneration he takes the unusual and seemingly desperate next step of planting himself on a ledge outside the penthouse of midtown’s Roosevelt Hotel and threatening to jump. An NYPD psychologist (Elizabeth Banks) is summoned to talk him down unaware that Nick harbors an ulterior motive. From his perch above midtown he is secretly orchestrating a scheme to take revenge against the corrupt corporate chieftain (Ed Harris) who engineered his demise and prove his innocence once and for all.
Director Asger Leth making his U.S. feature-film debut with Man on a Ledge keeps the pace brisk and never allows the tone to stray into self-seriousness which is crucial for a movie whose premise is so devoutly ridiculous. The script from Pablo F. Fenjves provides enough feints and twists to keep us engaged. Jamie Bell and Genesis Rodriguez aren’t the most believable of couples but there’s a screwball charm to their comic routine as amateur thieves charged with aiding Nick’s scheme. (Leth can’t resist inserting an entirely superfluous – but nonetheless greatly appreciated – scene of the criminally gorgeous Rodriguez stripping down to a thong in the middle of a heist.) Worthington makes for a likable populist protagonist even if his Australian accent betrays him on copious occasions and Harris’ disturbingly emaciated frame lends an added menace to his devious plutocrat villain.
The opening credits of the found-footage excretion The Devil Inside include a helpful disclaimer advising us that the Vatican “did not endorse this film nor aid in its completion ” just in case we might be inclined to believe the Holy See were in the business of making schlocky horror flicks. One’s heart goes out to Satan whose involvement in the film is pretty clearly implied by the title but who received no such disclaimer. Even he deserves better than to be associated with this dreck.
The pseudo-doc-style story centers on a young girl Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) whose mother Maria (Suzan Crowley) murdered three people twenty years prior during what was later revealed to be an exorcism gone awry. Seeking to learn more about the tragedy that consumed her mother Isabella travels to Italy where Maria is currently housed in a Vatican-run mental hospital. The doctors prove frustratingly insensitive to her mother’s affliction causing Isabella to see out a pair of young renegade exorcists (Simon Quarterman and Evan Helmuth) for help.
Maria is one creepy bird a frazzled cat-lady whose eyes blaze with penetrating high-octane craziness even under heaviest of sedation. An early scene in which Isabella meets with her near-catatonic mother and gently tries to ascertain whether her insanity is of the conventional or demonically-inspired variety oozes tension as we wait for her whispered ramblings to explode into full-on Satanic mania. It’s a terrifically fraught scene by far the best in the film and sadly the only point in which we ever come close to being scared.
The film proffers a variety of different narrative threads and chooses to resolve none of them. What happened to the English priest’s uncle or Isabella’s baby? And what of that poor possessed gal with the hemorrhaging vagina? Was she ever able to get that under control? God only knows. Even crazy-eyes Maria the film’s MVP makes an all-too-hasty exit never to be hear from again after a half-baked exorcism attempt.
Director/co-writer William Brent Bell’s clear aim is to mimic the wildly successful Paranormal Activity films but he ignores the found-footage standard-bearer’s most important precept which is to keep the story simple rely as little on the “actors” as possible and pile on the cheap scares one after another. Instead we’re handed an abundance of character details we never asked for and which never really amount to anything save for some choice over-acting in the third act when the devil’s machinations turn everyone against each other. The film devolves into a kind of exorcism-themed Real World episode replete with “confessionals” in which the characters tearfully air their frustrations -- as if we gave a damn. Perhaps it’s a good thing we don’t because The Devil Inside concludes with what might be the least-satisfying horror ending in a decade.
Hollywood's ongoing obsession with all things extra-terrestrial is showing no signs of letting up. Deadline.com reports that Area 52, an alien-themed comic that enjoyed a four-issue run in 2001, has been targeted for big-screen adaptation by Summit Entertainment. The comic, penned by Ben Haberlin, concerns a top secret "government storage dump for otherworldly discoveries, manned by a ragtag group of misfits who have been exiled to the middle of nowhere to staff it. When an alien killing machine is accidentally hatched in this repository, the group must band together and use the stored mythological weapons and artifacts to save themselves and the world." Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian will produce the live-action adaption, while J.C. Spink will exec-produce.
One of the more highly anticipated alien-oriented films of 2012 is Battleship. Check out the trailer to the surefire blockbuster:
When a film receives multiple rewrites or goes through a number of drafts under the guidance of multiple scribes, some people take it as bad news. Sure, having too many "cooks in the kitchen" can kill the momentum that the original story had or cramp the narrative, but sometimes it works out for the best and a filmmaker gets to use the greatest bits from each writer. The Ten Commandments had four credited screenwriters; Toy Story had eight and look how those flicks turned out. That's why I'm not all that concerned about today's news regarding Paramount Pictures' untitled Jack Ryan reboot. The scoop: David Koepp will rewrite the script.
The film had an original screenplay from Adam Cozad, who created an origin story for Tom Clancy's beloved CIA analyst called Dubai. Sherlock Holmes' Anthony Peckham then came aboard for a pass on the script, which had then been renamed Moscow. Finally, Steve Zaillian, the Oscar winning writer responsible for Schindler's List and Gangs of New York among countless other classics (including the 1994 Ryan pic Clear and Present Danger), was brought in to polish and perfect the script in time for the shoot. Shockingly, Zaillian left the project before he started to work, forcing the studio to push back the start date as it was not entirely ready to go with the script in place.
Enter Koepp, who has lent his pen to action-adventure franchises like Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man in the past. He'll begin work on the Ryan script as soon as he finishes editing his own action flick Premium Rush (due January 2012). There's still plenty of time to make it work, as the new plan is to have star Chris Pine shoot his Star Trek sequel this year so he can start on this one in January. Lost's directing producer Jack Bender is still set to helm the flick, with Paramount based power producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld calling the shots with executive producer Mark Vahradian. Known for conceptualizing large scale action set pieces and intense character focused films, Koepp is one of the most accomplished and sought after scribes in the industry. It should come as no surprise that his services were in high-demand for a film like this, nor should it surprise you to know that I think his involvement will dramatically increase the quality of this script. I've always been a fan of the Jack Ryan films and this prequel, with great behind-the-scenes talent in place, shouldn't disappoint.
Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Congratulations are in order for Willie Block and Jake Emmanuel, the rookie screenwriting duo who today sold their action-adventure pitch to Paramount Pictures. The high-concept story mixes original ideas with the framework of the traditional Hunchback of Notre Dame story, says The Hollywood Reporter.
Said to be in the vein of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the film's plotline is being kept under wraps by producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian of Di Bonaventura Pictures, but the studio is moving quickly on the property. Needless to say, this won't be anything like the Mouse House's 1996 version of the Hunchback...
Emmanuel and Block also penned another action-comedy spec script, titled F*ck You I Win, that has made the rounds to studios this year, though it hasn't mustered much interest yet. Perhaps Paramount will option that project, too, after bringing the boys on board the back lot. It's commonplace these days for studios to keep prized scribes working on projects within the company, as we've seen screenwriters like Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio become Disney mainstays and Greg Berlanti become Warner Bros. Wonder Boy. Though I'm not so interested in yet another rendition of Victor Hugo's classic novel, we'll keep track of what these young wordsmith's are up to...
Source: Risky Business