Proving once again that Marvel Studios is as concerned with the caliber of its acting talent as it is big-budgeted CGI effects and action scenes, the studio is reportedly looking to cast John C. Reilly in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, according to Hitfix. The website reports that Reilly is being courted to play Rhomann Dey, who in the Guardians comics was an alien from the planet Xandar, but here may be reconfigured as a Phil Coulson-style S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
Sources say that Reilly's Dey would be "the primary face of normal humanity in the Guardians film." Basically, his character will serve as an intermediary between the Guardians team and S.H.I.E.L.D., so expect to see him in a black suit and straight-laced form — as straight-laced as John C. Reilly can be, anyway. We wonder, though, how much a representative of "normal humanity" anyone with the name Rhomann Dey could be. Still, with Reilly's possible casting, he'd join a roster that already includes Chris Pratt, geek queen Zoe Saldana, and The Walking Dead's Michael Rooker... making this the nerdiest movie of all time.
Representatives for Marvel and Reilly could not immediately be reached for comment.
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Marvel is making the jump to the small screen in a big way with this fall's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, exec produced by Joss Whedon. Lest you think this is just going to focus on stoic secret-service dudes in dark suits and darker sunglasses, the Alphabet makes it clear in the just-released full-length trailer for the show that they're planning this as a full-fledged Avengers tie-in, with maybe a superhero cameo or two every now and then. The first few seconds of the clip show The Hulk, Captain America's shield, Thor's hammer, and a flying Iron Man. So yeah, it's gonna be epic, even if those tiny cameos are all that we actually do see of the supes. (But, don't expect Robert Downey Jr. to suddenly show up.) Check out the trailer.
Every bit as exciting to me as the movie shout-outs is the proliferation of Whedonisms we see, or rather hear, in the trailer. Especially that moment when an agent begins an interrogation of a suspect and says, "There are two ways to do this." The suspect says, "Oh, is one of them 'the easy way'?" "...No..." That could be straight out of Buffy. Plus, it's got the always-great Clark Gregg. Coulson lives! As Whedon put it at the ABC upfront presentation on Tuesday, "Clark Gregg is an actor so talented, even I couldn't kill him."
Will you be watching in the fall?
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Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's bestselling book of the same name Friday Night Lights tells the true story of the dusty West Texas town of Odessa where nothing much happens until September rolls around. That's when the town's 20 000 or so denizens pour into Ratliff Stadium the country's biggest high school football field every Friday night to watch the Permian Panthers Odessa's "boys in black " take to the field. All the town's hope and dreams are pinned on the padded shoulders of these young gridiron heroes--including insecure quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black); cocky self-assured running back Boobie Miles (Derek Luke); headstrong self-destructive tailback Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund) who must contend with an overbearing abusive dad (Tim McGraw--yes that Tim McGraw the country singer); and the team's spiritual leader middle linebacker Ivory Christian (newcomer Lee Jackson). The Panthers begin their season with one thing on their minds--winning their fifth straight championship for the first time in the team's 30-year history--but for their coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton) it also means instilling a love and joy of the game in the boys' hearts amidst tremendous pressures and expectations. Easier said than done.
There isn't a false note in any of the performances and no one falls back on clichéd versions of their characters as is so easy to do in rah-rah sports movies. Thornton does a particularly good job as Gaines keeping you guessing whether he's going to be a hardass insensitive to his players' emotional needs (like so many movie football coaches before him) or if he truly means to coach his boys in a fair and decent way. Gaines too has to deal with his own pressures especially from the townsfolk who are likely to string him up if the team loses the championship. As for Gaines' players Black (the oh-so-serious kid from Thornton's Sling Blade) is all grown up and buffed out and still very serious. It works for the young actor though as the beleaguered Winchell struggles with the love-hate relationship he has with his chosen sport. Other standouts include Luke (Antwone Fisher) as the star player Boobie whose cocksureness leads him to an injury; Hedlund as the volatile Billingsley trying desperately to please his father; and McGraw making his film debut as the father a former Permian Panther champion who sure hasn't given up his competitive spirit basically beating it into his son. First Faith Hill (McGraw's real-life wife) in The Stepford Wives and now McGraw--who knew country singers could act?
From All the Right Moves to Varsity Blues to Remember the Titans Friday Night Lights unfortunately doesn't completely distinguish itself from the pack of football movies before it--like those this is all about how the young players--be they underdogs second-string nobodies or stars--rising above the mounting pressure and playing the best they can bless their hearts. Still there's no question the sports genre--particularly football--always gets the juices pumping with FNL being no exception. It might have something to do with our sick fascination with watching bone-crunching hits and body-punishing tackles. It's dangerous out there for these guys; no other sport (besides maybe hockey) can elicit such wince-inducing emotion and actor/director Peter Berg (The Rundown) exploits that. Obviously influenced by Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday Berg effectively paints his own gritty documentary-style picture of the competitive sport without relying on too many trite gushy over-the-top moments. And to give it credit the film does not necessarily have a feel-good "let's win one for the Gipper" ending; it is based on a true story after all and as we know real life isn't all sunshine and roses especially in the bloodthirsty world of Texas high school football.
Hardened by years of brutal but loyal military service special ops officer Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) is assigned to find the president's apparently kidnapped daughter Laura Newton (Kristen Bell). Pairing up with his protégé Curtis (Derek Luke) Scott works diligently with a task force of presidential advisors the Secret Service the FBI and the CIA to find her and through their investigation they stumble upon a white slavery ring in the Middle East which may--or may not--have some connection to Laura's disappearance. The straightforward search-and-rescue mission is soon bogged down in political machinations and the girl's abduction starts to look even more suspicious than it did at first. In fact the mission comes to an abrupt halt altogether when the girl is supposedly found drowned from a boating accident. Scott returns to his quiet life until Curtis shows up and proves that Laura is still alive and most likely trapped in the white slavery ring. In a race against time Scott and Curtis embark on their own unofficial rescue mission--and put themselves at the center of a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the U.S. government.
Val Kilmer probably won't be joining Mamet's dedicated circle of players--which includes Joe Mantegna William H. Macy and Mamet's wife actress Rebecca Pidgeon--any time soon. While it's clear Kilmer took the role to work with the talented writer/director he isn't well suited to deliver "Mamet-speak"--the rapid fire delivery of terse dialogue the writer is known for--and Kilmer looks uncomfortable trying to do it. The gifted actor who can't help but bring in his own quirky sensibilities to the part still hits the nail on the head as steely resolute Scott. But the minute he starts dispensing sage advice--Mamet-style--Kilmer sticks out like a sore thumb. Same goes for Luke (Antwone Fisher) who is entirely miscast as Scott's sidekick. Others in the ensemble however handle the Mamet chores more adeptly including Macy and Ed O'Neill (yes the guy from TV's Married ... With Children) as presidential aides.
Spartan's real problem however is that it's a thriller without much thrill. Mamet's expertise is in creating scenarios within a microcosm whether it's a world of con artists (House of Games; The Spanish Prisoner) salesmen (Glengarry Glen Ross) or even showbiz (State and Main). These Mamet films are even-keeled--almost devoid of emotion. He sets up characters and actions relevant to that particular world so when characters spout lines in Mamet's distinctive style it comes off as perfectly natural. Yet with Spartan Mamet is tackling a bigger grander picture and when his style is applied to the world as a whole it doesn't work. Plus in the thriller genre the audience needs to feel invested in the characters and Mamet's distant unemotional style doesn't lend itself to sending the audience's collective hearts racing. The only poignant moment in the film belongs to Bell as the wounded daughter who just wants a little attention from Daddy and the only truly exciting moments are during her rescue. That said however Spartan proves Mamet still knows how to craft a story. Although the script is at times vague and convoluted it thankfully never falls into any of the genre's usual patterns and it throws in enough twists to keep you on your toes.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second production of author J.K. Rowling's boy-wizard books, has added several prominent--and a few unknown--actors to its cast.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, big names will include Kenneth Branagh (How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog) as professor Gilderoy Lockhart, Jason Isaacs (Black Hawk Down) as Lucius Malfoy--Draco's dad--Miriam Margolyes (Cats and Dogs) as professor Sprout and Mark Williams (High Heels and Low Lifes) as Mr. Weasley--Ron's father.
In addition, Shirley Henderson and Gemma Jones (both from Bridget Jones's Diary) will play Moaning Myrtle and Madam Pomfrey, respectively.
But one of the main roles goes to little-known actor Christian Coulson, the BBC reports, who will fill the big screen as Tom Riddle, a younger version of the evil Lord Voldemort.
Sally Mortemore, a theater actress, will play librarian Madam Pince.
Chamber of Secrets has already begun filming at Scotland's historic Glenfinnan Tower and is set for a November release, just a year after its prequel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, made over $300 million at the box office.