If you thought the Viking Age was uninteresting in that old history textbook Pathfinder does it one better by actually upping the boring ante. In fact even ye Old World buffs out there will be disoriented. It’s set “600 years before Columbus ” when “people had to guard America’s shores from marauders.” One of those most noble guardsmen was Ghost (Karl Urban). Native Americans happened upon him as a young orphan boy and decided to raise him as one of their own--even though he was never truly accepted due to his unknown ancestry. Fifteen years pass and Ghost once a frail child has blossomed into a beast-sized man capable of warding off almost anyone. His size and skill set come in handy when Norse invaders look to raise hell in his village. Armed with horses swords and thorny helmets they kill and maim everyone in sight and mostly get away with it. That is until they mess with the object of Ghost’s affection Starfire (Moon Bloodgood) thereby seriously messing with Ghost. You don’t put Ghost in a corner! Beefcake actors are apparently a dime a dozen these days and Pathfinder lead Urban does nothing to separate himself from the supporting actors of his own movie let alone from the aforementioned Hollywood stereotype. Looking like a runway model on steroids the Lord of the Rings and Bourne Ultimatum star only stands out aesthetically here and is in danger of being pigeonholed and typecast for a long time to come. Unless he can somehow show a different side Urban will wind up on a long list with the likes of wrestlers-turned-actors who can’t act. Thing is in Pathfinder he can’t even manage the uber-virility his character is meant to project. Bloodgood (Eight Below) meanwhile owner of the best non-porn name in showbiz holds her own and softens things up in a movie otherwise completely dominated by males. And finally there's veteran Native American actor Russell Means (Natural Born Killers) who as the Pathfinder himself at least lends some desperately needed credibility. Looking up a director’s name and past work isn’t a fair way to pre-judge his or her movie but it may sometimes hint at what you’re in for. Take Pathfinder for example: Director Marcus Nispel's past work includes Texas Chainsaw Massacre and music videos. Massacre was terrible and music videos are stylized; thus we arrive upon Pathfinder which is terrible and stylized. When parents complain about violence in the movies this should be their focal point. Nispel like other offenders is unable to ever refrain and beheadings and such in all their slow-motion glory resemble fun video games. Not that his lack of morality makes Pathfinder the crap it is however. That blame rests on his apparent decision that such violence is all moviegoers want to see. And it is perhaps the sheer lack of a story that accentuates how mediocre the violent scenes really are--scenes that are meant to leave us agape in amazement as if we’ve never seen a loose eyeball on the screen before. On a (lone) positive note though the set design seems up-to-snuff.
A guy who usually doesn't have luck with the ladies Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) has finally found the perfect girl. Egged on by his buddy Vaughn (Rainn Wilson) Matt pursues the mousy and innocent-looking Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman) after the two meet on a subway. But Jenny has a few secrets--and what Matt doesn't know in this case can hurt him. See Jenny is really G-Girl a superhero and although it's a side most superheroes don't show G-Girl is a bit possessive and essentially has a borderline personality. So when Matt wants to dump her so he can go out with his quiet and cute co-worker Hannah (Anna Faris) Jenny er G-Girl goes ballistic. She unleashes her superpowers on Matt and unsuspecting Hannah doing things like throwing a shark through his window while they're making out tossing his car around immature things like that. What Matt doesn't do is obey the cardinal rule: Never break up with a girl when she's holding a knife--or when she can throw you through a wall by blowing on you. This should be Luke Wilson's moment to shine and he seizes it. He's had little chance to break away from his goofier-looking and more popular brother Owen and has never carried a movie as much as this one. It's perhaps his meatiest role in which he gets to show a restrained comedic side as well as a dramatic angry and perplexed side. Although it's a typical romantic comedy plot the storyline allows for more reach because of the absurd nature of the jealousy by G-Girl’s arch nemesis Professor Bedlam played perfectly by Brit comic Eddie Izzard as well as the persistently bad advice from Matt’s friend Vaughn played by scene-stealer Rainn Wilson (TV's The Office). Rainn is a definitely a talent to watch out for. Unfortunately Thurman is the biggest disappointment. She's exciting only when she rekindles her Kill Bill persona but is mostly outshined by the cute and fun Anna Faris who's so naively brilliant in the Scary Movie spoofs. Expectations would have to be high if you have director Ivan Reitman on board the guy behind such classic comedies as Animal House Ghostbusters and Dave. Perhaps that's why it's so disappointing--and so very familiar. The comic moments are retreads from the past. Sure we've seen the odd moments where mortals make it with super-human characters--Superman II Bewitched I Dream of Jeannie--and every once in a while the character with super powers gets a bit peeved and goes off the deep end. The best contribution Reitman makes is to keep the over-the-top comedic aspects in check. He doesn’t have the actors play it for laughs. But if you look at past history female superhero movies don't seem to do well at the box office (Elektra and Catwoman anyone?) maybe because guys don't like to take dates to see movies about women who will kick their butts. And guys will be cringing in their seats BIG time when Jenny is trying to analyze the real meaning of the color of a rose that she just got. "Red means that you're in love with the girl. Of course I'm not trying to pressure you." Ugh! Just take the flower.
Top Story: Suge Knight Back in the Hoosegow
Rap mogul and founder of Death Row Records Marion "Suge" Knight was sent back to prison for 10 months Thursday for punching a parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub, Reuters reports. The Compton-born record executive was arrested after the incident, which happened last month outside the White Lotus Club, a celebrity hangout frequented by the likes of Hugh Hefner, Jennifer Garner, Jewel and Jessica Simpson. The arrest was the second parole violation for Knight. He was paroled from prison in 2001 for an earlier assault conviction and arrested in December 2002 for associating with reputed gang members, but was cleared of most of the allegations against him and ordered to perform community service plus 61 days in jail. In fact, jail may be the safest place for the music exec. According to a Los Angeles Times report, Knight may be the ultimate target of a series of gang slayings that killed four people close to him: "Word on the street is there's a hit out on Suge Knight," said Det. Michael Caouette of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Queen Latifah Gets Breast Reduction
It's not your imagination. Rapper turned actress Queen Latifah tells USA Today that she had breast reduction surgery in April and went from "well over an E cup" to a double D. The 33-year-old Oscar nominee says she also lost 25 to 30 pounds in the past year through exercise and eating right. But Latifah said back pain forced her to consider surgery. "It took a year and a half to make that decision. It wasn't for confidence or image. I'm the anti-Hollywood girl." Latifah has become a spokeswoman for a new line of undergarments called Curvation.
Jam Master Jay Reportedly Feared for His Life
Ronald Washington, a lifelong friend of Jason Mizell, who was shot and killed at a recording studio in Queens, N.Y., last year, told police the Run-DMC rapper was carrying a .45-caliber handgun and feared for his life the night of his murder, CNN reports. Washington, who is currently detained on armed robbery charges in New York, did not disclose why Mizell, also known as Jam Master Jay, feared for his life that night, but his lawyer, Dana Grossblatt, said he has shared the reason with police. She also said Washington described to police and named the two men he claims he saw heading inside the studio minutes before he says he heard the gunshots that killed the rapper. Neither police nor prosecutors have named any suspects in the case or have stated a motive for the killing.
French Actress Marie Trintignant Dies
French actress Marie Trintignant died Friday in a French hospital, a day after she was flown back from Lithuania in a coma after sustaining severe head injuries following a violent incident with her boyfriend, Reuters reports. Trintignant's family has filed a complaint in a Paris court against her partner, Bertrand Cantat, the frontman for the French rock band Noir Desir, alleging premeditated grievous bodily harm and failure to help a person at risk. The 39-year-old singer was admitted early Sunday for alcohol poisoning and a suspected overdose of medicine or drugs soon after Trintignant was rushed to the same hospital in a coma with severe cerebral hemorrhaging. He appeared in court in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius Thursday and was placed under formal arrest for two weeks while police investigate.
Garner Stays With Alias Through 2008
Actress Jennifer Garner is finalizing a new deal that will keep her on the ABC drama Alias through the 2007-08 season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Garner, who won her second straight Emmy nomination for her role as undercover agent Sydney Bristow, is expected to receive a substantial raise. Under the new pact, Garner's salary will go from about $40,000 an episode to about $150,000 an episode. Alias is returning for a third season in the fall on ABC.
Dave Matthews, Mos Def Named for Shortlist Music Prize
Dave Matthews, Mos Def, Tom Waits, Tori Amos, Perry Farrell and the Neptunes will serve as judges for the 2003 Shortlist Music Prize, which honors the year's most creative and adventurous albums. According to The Associated Press, other judges include Chris Martin, Flea, Pete Yorn, Erykah Badu, Spike Jonze and Cameron Crowe. Music industry veterans Greg Spotts and Tom Sarig created the prize in 2001; past winners include N*E*R*D and Sigur Ros. The Shortlist Organization said this week a list of about 100 nominees will be released in late August with 10 finalists named in mid-September. The prize will end with a multi-artist Los Angeles concert in October with the winner receiving a $5,000 cash prize.
Ringling Bros. Accused of Animal Cruelty
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the nation's largest circus, will have to defend itself against charges that it mistreats elephants that perform under the big tent, the AP reports. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals and Tom Rider, a former Ringling Bros. elephant trainer filed the suit in 2000, claiming circus employees routinely beat the elephants with sharp bull hooks, keep elephants in chains for long periods of time and forcibly remove baby elephants from their mothers before they are properly weaned. A federal judge Wednesday declined to dismiss a lawsuit because Asian elephants are considered an endangered species under federal law.
Role Call: Verbinski and Cage in Weather, Dead of Night Gets Remade
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl director Gore Verbinski and actor Nicolas Cage are in negotiations to star in and direct, respectively, The Weather Man for Sony Pictures Entertainment. The project is about a divorced Chicago weatherman up for a new job on a network morning show in New York who must first make peace with his e
Randolph Smiley (Robin Williams) is on top of his game--he's the eponymous star of the highest rated kid's TV show Rainbow Randolph has his own Times Square billboard and makes lots of money. Until that is he gets caught taking bribes from stage parents. Suddenly he becomes the social pariah of the millennium and of course gets canned. Losing Rainbow Randolph however leaves the network in a bind. Now they have to find a squeaky-clean replacement pronto. Enter Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) and his alter-ego Smoochy an abnormally large fuschia rhino who sings children's songs about kicking drug habits and stepdads who aren't mean but simply adjusting. With his naivete unwavering ethics and unflagging ambition to make the world a better place he becomes the new number one show. Sheldon soon learns however how cutthroat children's entertainment can be as the powers that be try to corrupt his ideals. Meanwhile a homeless Randolph makes it his number-one priority to destroy the bastard who stole his life. Who's going to get Smoochy first the corrupt businessmen or crazy Rainbow Randy? Stay tuned...
When you hear the Smoochy cast list--Williams Danny DeVito Jon Stewart Catherine Keener--you automatically think mondo laughs. Added to the list is Norton who may not be known for his comedic talents but certainly adds credibility to the movie especially given that he rarely picks bad scripts. Luckily no one disappoints. Norton plays the straight guy with aplomb and shines brilliantly when singing his sappy yet lesson-filled songs. Keener whom we haven't seen since her Oscar-nominated turn in Being John Malkovich is also a standout as the jaded development VP who falls for Sheldon's sweet manner. She has an uncanny way of delivering lines that bite to the bone. And then there's Williams--as always he has extraordinary moments of sheer hilarity in the film. This isn't one of those films where the comedian has to attempt to act or simply be reined in by the director (as some have done) to give a good performance. Director DeVito (who also plays the greedy agent) is wise enough to simply turn the camera on the comedian and let him go. Just wish we could have seen more of him.
Ever wonder what it would be like to kill Barney? We're betting DeVito thought about it quite often--and things never turn out good for that purple dinosaur. The premise of Smoochy is one of the funnier ones in recent memory and seems to follow the dark comedic path DeVito has chosen in his other directorial efforts including War of the Roses and Throw Momma From the Train. Unfortunately Smoochy doesn't quite hold up to its hype (or its trailers) because basically it focuses on the wrong character. It's got some great moments granted especially when Smoochy is on his show. But instead of being about Randy's obsession to do away with his replacement the film chooses to follow Mopes and deal with the dirty business of making a kid's show which appears to involve the Mob (whatever). Smoochy would have been a lot funnier if Randolph could have finally succeeded in his quest instead of getting all sappy.