The first Santa Clause had a somewhat clever premise on how an ordinary guy can become Santa Claus just by putting on the red suit while the second Clause was about finding a Mrs. Claus. What’s the third clause? The Escape Clause which allows anyone who is Santa the option to give it all up and become a mortal man again. Of course Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) aka the current Santa has no intentions of leaving the job. But his lovely wife Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell) is expecting their first child and missing home a great deal so Scott has to juggle having his in-laws (Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret) come to the North Pole--which he has to disguise as Canada to keep the “Secret of Santa” alive--with getting ready for Christmas. It’s kind of hectic. And throwing a huge wrench in the whole deal is the envious Jack Frost (Martin Short). Relegated as the “opening act” to Christmas Frost wants his own gig and sabotages Scott at every turn in order to steal the job away from him. There’s no nipping at your nose with this guy; it’s all-out war. Allen makes no apologies for his career. Why should he? He’s been moderately successful playing everyday dads in Disney comedies displaying the right mix of milquetoast-iness and humor. Plus as Scott/Santa he also gets to be sentimental. I just wonder if he still wouldn’t like to do something more cutting edge? Short on the other hand never could find the right kind of starring vehicle for himself but instead has created some hilarious supporting characters (if you don’t believe me rent The Big Picture). Jack Frost is another one to add to the list. The comedian has way too much fun playing the nasty ice man with steely blue eyes a smart--if frosty--three-piece suit and who gets to say lines like “I invented ‘Chill!’” Mitchell (TV’s Lost) reprises her role as the sweet-as-pie Mrs. Claus and has some nice moments with Scott. And what a surprise to see Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret in this! They are perfect as the meddling in-laws especially Arkin who finds everything wrong with Scott and his “toy factory.” Buena Vista didn’t feel it was necessary to pre-screen Santa Clause 3 for critics. They probably believe the audiences for this franchise is already built in and they don’t need jaded critics slamming the film for being silly and meaningless. Smart. But as much as it pains me to say it Santa Clause 3 directed by Michael Lembeck (who did Santa Clause 2) really isn’t that awful. Yes it’s all terribly predictable with the schmaltz so thick you could cut it with a knife. But there’s also something surprisingly endearing about these movies. They have always provided a sort of warm family-friendly feel without too much forced circumstances—and most importantly they are legitimate Christmas movies--even its being released just as we are putting away the Halloween decorations. Honestly I’d take a Santa Clause 3 over a Christmas with the Kranks (sorry Tim Allen) any day.
Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) has a really bad rep and with good reason: Five years ago convicted killer Riddick escaped the galaxy's law enforcement during a botched interplanetary prison transfer and has been on the lam ever since. As The Chronicles of Riddick picks up our antagonist finds his relative freedom has been compromised when mercenaries out for the $1 million bounty on his head discover his location and hunt him down. Riddick escapes their clutches steals their ship and sets off for Planet Helion to find Imam (Keith David) the Muslim cleric he rescued in Pitch Black and the only person who could have squealed his location to authorities. But while Riddick's hunch about Imam are correct the cleric has a reason for luring the mammoth murderer out of hiding: Helion is falling to unholy armies of Necromongers--warriors who conquer by force in the vein of Star Trek's Borg. Of course Riddick doesn't give a damn about the Helions or their plight--until he gets wind that the Necromogers want to kill him because of an old prophecy that foresees their end at Riddick's hands. Like it or not Riddick is left with no other choice but to battle the Necromongers.
The character of Riddick is unquestionably what made Pitch Black one of the most sequel-worthy sci-fi films in years. And Riddick would not have been one of sci-fi's most intoxicating characters if it weren't for Diesel. Like his Dominic Toretto in the 2001 actioner The Fast and the Furious Riddick is a villain of few words but when he speaks his carefully chosen words have impact--even if the dialogue is at times overly theatrical. Riddick is the perfect antihero; a cold-blooded and indifferent being who somehow evokes more compassion than the film's so-called good guys. Joining Riddick are some recurring characters including David as Imam but Riddick benefits the most from the addition of some new characters particularly Colm Feore as Lord Marshal the Necromonger leader whose goal is to rid the universe of all human life. Feore channeling nuggets of Julius Caesar into his role makes for one of Riddick's most thrilling foes. Another prominent addition to the cast is Judi Dench who has a surprisingly small role as Aereon an Elemental captured by the Necromongers and used for her special powers including ESP.
Writer/director David Twohy took his horror pic Pitch Black which gained a cult following since it was released four years ago and managed to successfully turn it into an sci-fi actioner of epic proportions. Everything is grander here which is almost a given considering Twohy shot Pitch Black on a dime in Australia using colored filters. In Riddick the director distinguishes the film's different environments--the Necros' mothership Crematoria's cavernous prison and Helion--using warm to cool tones that are dazzling yet more subtle than its predecessor. The CGI effects get a little gamey at times but production designer Holger Gross' gargantuan sets are impressive and help craft Twohy's otherworldly vision into a plausible one. And although Twohy jumps genres from Pitch Black to its sequel his storyline evolves logically from the original premise. But while moviegoers unfamiliar with Pitch Black will be able to follow the story easily enough they may have a difficult time grasping what makes Riddick such a big deal; the film explains the legend but never fully captures its quintessence. This could hurt Riddick's chances to broaden its Pitch Black fan base.
Top Story: Roberts Readies for Motherhood
Julia Roberts, 36, and her husband of almost two years, Daniel Moder, 35, are finally going to be parents. According to The Associated Press, People magazine reported the Oscar-winning actress is due to give birth to twins early next year. US Weekly also reported Roberts, 36, has been pregnant for about nine weeks with twins, while Star magazine, citing unidentified sources, said the twins were a boy and a girl. Roberts' spokeswoman, Marcy Engelman told People that twins run in Roberts' family, with her great-grandmother and a pair of cousins born as twins.
Apprentice's Kwame Gets the Boot Again
After losing the big job, The Apprentice runner-up Kwame Jackson was asked to step down again--this time as a judge for Donald Trump's Miss Universe pageant, AP reports. Jackson was disqualified by pageant organizers for waving at beauty queens he bumped into in the lobby of their hotel. "Kwame is intelligent, charming and we were really looking forward to him judging on our panel," pageant president Paula Shugart said in a statement. "But his interaction with the delegates, albeit unintentional, is strictly prohibited." In his defense, the 29-year-old Harvard MBA said, "I was meeting up with some friends who had flown in to support me, when I was recognized by some of the delegates. As a natural human response, I extended my hand to greet them."
Moore Wants Mid-Summer Release for Fahrenheit
It's all about the fireworks. Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is close to a deal to secure a mid-summer theatrical distribution for his Palme d'Or-winning documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, Variety reports. The deal was still unresolved on Monday, however, as potential distributors debated the wisdom of widely releasing a highly controversial film at the height of the blockbuster season. The final deal is likely to be a complex arrangement with multiple parties, including U.S., Canadian and home-video distribs. Variety reports sources close to the talks said Moore was eyeing a June 25 or July 2 theatrical release date, with a home-video release in October.
Flint, Mich.'s First Film Festival
Back in Michael Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., they are preparing for their inaugural film festival, the Flint Film Festival, AP reports. "People who've never been to a film festival will quickly find out this is the real heart of filmmaking. All the great films were made by people who started out like this," festival chairman Greg Fiedler, executive director of the Greater Flint Arts Council, told The Flint Journal. It runs June 4-6 and features 29 original films--features, shorts, documentaries, music videos and student productions--by independent filmmakers from as far away as Germany.
New Polar Express Trailer on the Way
The new full-length trailer for the upcoming animated holiday film The Polar Express will debut online June 1, as a special feature of The Daily Prophet on the Harry Potter site, www.harrypotter.com., as well as in theaters June 4 with the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The Polar Express, based on the popular children's book, comes to the big screen courtesy of the Oscar-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis and features the voices of Hanks, the late Michael Jeter, Chris Coppola and more.
Marvel and Sony Kiss and Make-Up
Comic-book publisher Marvel Enterprises Inc. has settled litigation with Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. over their Spider-Man Merchandising L.P. joint venture, which licenses merchandising rights for the Spider-Man movies. The bad blood between the comic book giant and the studio goes back to May 2003 when Marvel first sued Sony Pictures, claiming the studio was using its power to distance Spider-Man from Marvel in the minds of retailers. Sony Pictures then countersued, accusing Marvel of using the litigation to force renegotiation of its contract with Sony. Then, in January, Marvel sued Sony Pictures again, claiming the studio employed "Hollywood accounting" to deprive it of $6 million worth of merchandising royalties on Men in Black. The case was heard by a private judge, but details of the resolution, which include all cases, were not disclosed, Reuters reports.
Scott Wolf Marries Former Real World Cast Member
Party of Five star Scott Wolf married Kelley Limp, a former cast member of MTV's The Real World: New Orleans over the weekend. Wolf, 35, and Limp, 27, wed in a traditional wedding ceremony Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Limp's hometown of Fayetteville, Ark., the AP reports. The couple, who met through a mutual friend in New York, said they plan to live in Santa Monica, Calif., after a honeymoon in Africa. Limp, who joined The Real World: New Orleans in the spring of 2000, now works in TV marketing in Los Angeles.
Letterman's Team Wins Indy 500
David Letterman got his adrenaline going this Memorial Day Weekend, but not just by hosting his long-running CBS series Late Show with David Letterman. The race car Letterman co-owns, driven by Buddy Rice, won the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, the AP reports. Letterman has been a silent partner to Bobby Rahal, the front man and lead partner on what had been known as Team Rahal, since 1996. But two weeks ago, Rahal, one of the best American road racers ever, outed Letterman as a contributor and announced he was renaming the team Rahal-Letterman Racing. Letterman, an Indiana native, has been a lifelong fan of open-wheel racing. Pop star Jessica Simpson sang the national anthem at the event, while Morgan Freeman drove the pace car in the race.
Role Call: Wayne Brady Lands First Starring Role in Running Scared
Talkshow host Wayne Brady has landed his first starring role in a feature, opposite Paul Walker in the action thriller Running Scared. According to Variety, the story revolves around a father (