I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Prolific British character actor Billy Nighy is in talks to join the cast of I, Frankenstein, Variety reports. The Pirates of the Caribbean star will reportedly play the primary villain, a "demon prince" tasked with tracking down and capturing Aaron Eckhart's Adam, aka Frankenstein's monster. The film is based on Underworld co-creator Kevin Grevioux's graphic novel, and will be directed by G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra writer Stuart Beattie.
Production on I, Frankenstein is slated to begin in Australia in February of next year, with plans for a February 22, 2013, release.
Billy Nighy's voice can be heard in the upcoming animated film Arthur Christmas. Click on the image below for more photos of the venerable actor:
The Dark Knight star has signed up to appear in I, Frankenstein, a new film based on Underworld co-creator Kevin Grevioux's graphic novel of the same name, which sees Shelley's monster having survived into the present day.
The movie's screenwriter and director, Stuart Beattie, tells Variety, "Mary Shelley's story is about the creation of the first human being. This is the story about that being becoming human."
Eckhart follows in the footsteps of Hollywood's most famous Frankenstein's monster, Boris Karloff, and Robert De Niro, who played the creature in 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Filming of I, Frankenstein is due to begin in January (12) in Australia.
It was bound to happen eventually. Vampire craze, zombie craze, something of a werewolf fixation...now: Frankenstein craze. The latest Frankensteinian development is I, Frankenstein: a story of Mary Shelly's monster surviving for centuries and living to see an age-old warfare between two immortal societies. If you're not really on board with that, there is some good news: Aaron Eckhart will play the role of Frankenstein's monster ("Adam").
Yeah, it's hard to picture Aaron Eckhart as grotesque. A lot of us even found it hard to accept him as minorly shlubby in Meet Bill...although it might be inaccurate to assume that a group described as 'a lot of us' actually saw Meet Bill.
But Eckhart as an adept performer. He did pull off half-monstrous in The Dark Knight with a hefty sum of excellence. So why not go the whole nine yards this time?
Now,you might be thinking, that the presence of other types of superhuman monsters running societies could go against the point of the original novel. But as the film's director and writer Stuart Beattie (who contributed to the scripts of each of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) has said, "Mary Shelly's story is about the creation of the first human being. This is the story about that being becoming human." It seems like the man intends to stay loyal to the spirit of Shelly's character. Even if this new world is not one we ever expected Frankenstein's monster to wind up in, that doesn't mean it is a direct contrast to anything we have derived from Shelly's literature.
Even a laughable, shouldn't-have-been-made pilot can't stop Adrianne Palicki's rise to stardom. The former Friday Night Lights star and would-be Wonder Woman has just joined Paramount Pictures anticipated G.I. Joe sequel Cobra Strikes, according to Deadline. She joins series veterans Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Byung Hun-lee as well as other newcomers like Dwayne Johnson, DJ Cotrona, Elodie Yung and the RZA.
Jon M. Chu, director of Step Up 3D and Never Say Never, is filling in for Stephen Sommers, who passed on helming the sequel to pursue his adaptation of Odd Thomas. His 2009 original grossed $300 million worldwide despite some pretty middling reviews, and the property is still ripe with trilogy potential. Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have provided the script for the new film, which means you can expect some better dialogue than what Stuart Beattie, David Elliot and Paul Lovett concocted for the first.
I've got nothing against Palicki; in fact I think she's perfectly suited for a movie like this. She's a genre superstar at this point, having appeared in last year's supernatural actioner Legion and will continue on that path with the Red Dawn remake which will hopefully hit theaters later this year. Taking on the role of Wonder Woman was the biggest move of her career and even though audiences may never get to see her as the Mother Theresa of Super Heroine's, joining the Joe's will ensure that she'll stick around for some time to come.
G.I. Joe 2 hits theaters summer 2012.
Depp has thrilled moviegoers with his portrayal of the flamboyant pirate, who the actor has admitted was inspired by Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards, in all three films of the franchise.
He's currently shooting the next instalment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, set for release in 2011 - but the screenwriter of the original film, Stuart Beattie, has stunned fans by revealing Depp was not his first choice for the role.
Beattie wanted Jackman for the part - but the Australian X-Men star was a relatively unknown actor at the time, and Disney bosses opted to hire Depp.
He tells Fox News, "I initially wrote that character with Hugh Jackman in mind. Hence the name Captain JACK Sparrow."
And Beattie also admits his pirate project took a decade to come to fruition: "I spent ten years pitching it (to) Disney and they weren't interested. Then finally, I got a call to come back in."
Master Chief might fight on the big screen after all.
According to Vulture, the years-long quest to turn Halo into a feature film is rages on as DreamWorks Pictures is trying to obtain the rights to revive the project, which was halted in 2006 for being a huge, giant money pit. Reports estimate that Universal dropped nearly $12 million into the project before it stopped production.
But, alas! Halo: Reach released last month to the tune of $200 million in first day sales. So, yeah, it's pretty obvious why Halo is a hot topic again.
And to avoid any legal problems, DreamWorks is being clever with their production. In order to make the movie, they're basing their films on Halo: The Fall of Reach -- a.k.a. the book series based on the video game. Sneaky! And Stuart Beattie (Collateral) already wrote a script based on the first novel and sent it to Microsoft, so we'll see where that goes.
Regardless, it seems like movie studios will continue to go around in circles to make this film. Vulture quotes a source who doesn't believe it will ever happen -- not because of Hollywood politics, but because of Microsoft.
"It's a gigantic waste of time, because [Microsoft] doesn’t want anything to happen in any other media that could screw up a multi-billion dollar franchise. Somebody has to be in control of a movie; it’s a director’s medium. But they’re completely averse to that. Because if Steven Spielberg fucks it up, what’s your recourse? So the rule is: "First, do no harm,'" they said.
And although we have no idea who this quoted dude is, he makes a really good point. Halo is a near-perfect franchise, so why risk messing it all up with a potentially bad movie? Yeah, it could be a pretty sweet action flick, but is there much of a story there? Personally, I'd rather just play video game than watch a movie that makes me want to play a video game. But, if they have to make it, I guess they could cast a really good lookin' fella as Master Chief and I'd be able to convince my girlfriend that Halo is, in fact, cool.