A recent short-list of candidates pertaining to the starring role in Marc Webb's anticipated Spider-Man reboot put young talent like Frank Dillane, Andrew Garfield and Josh Hutcherson at the top of the order, but according to a new report from Bleeding Cool, the coveted role may already be cast.
The site suggests that Jamie Bell, who will be seen next year in Kevin MacDonald's The Eagle of the Ninth and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin, has emerged victorious and will don the red-and-blue spandex in the 3D tentpole, due July 3rd 2012.
Bell, who danced his way into Hollywood in 2000's acclaimed Billy Elliot, has worked his way around the industry quite successfully in the past decade, getting the chance to work with A-list filmmakers such as Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson and Edward Zwick while honing his craft. At 24, he's of the right age and has displayed the charming awkwardness necessary to play Peter Parker before in films like The Chumscrubber and Dear Wendy. Of all the candidates in the running, he's got the most varied, impressive and bankable resume to back up his ability.
As a long-time fan of Spider-Man across all media, I'm happy to see the production gain an actor of Bell's caliber. In just ten years he's gone from playing nebbish, Peter Parker-like characters to larger than life roles in Jumper and King Kong and has always brought gravity and grace to his work. Based on looks alone, I'd probably have gone with Hutcherson, but given Bell's extraordinary range I think that Sony has picked a winner. The bigger question at hand would be: how could he balance two gigantic franchises (Tintin is a planned trilogy, as one would assume the new Spider-Man film(s) will be).
Columbia Pictures has neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, so as of now we'll have to wait to see how this story pans out. Should it turn out to be true, it would be the first piece of positive news to come from the world of America's favorite web-slinger since Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 4 was scrapped - a move that may or may not have cost the studio dearly.
Source: Bleeding Cool
1. Marc Webb and Spider-Man Get Busy.
The names being thrown around for the next Spider-Man cast include Frank Dillane, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Bell, Josh Hutcherson and Alden Ehrenreich. Do any of those names stand out? For me, the answer is no. Many of them are compelling actors you've seen before, and a couple have interesting stories with regards to how they were discovered, but these aren't names that the general public will be able to rally around. Which is incredibly smart. Why? Because Webb is now in the process of lowering expectations, and that starts with keeping the audience off-balance. This won't be the same singin' and dancin' Tobey Maguire. This is a new Spidey. You don't know about this Spidey. And that gives this reboot a decent shot at finding a receptive audience. This is the part Shrek franchise completely missed. They made a third film that lost the audience, and then went out and made a fourth one that looked exactly the same. The third Spider-Man turned off a portion of the audience, and this reinvention will allow them to forgive and forget that frustration.
Well played, Webb, well played.
2. Atlas Shrugged Needs Humans.
It's already a daunting task, an 1,100 page book distilled down to a 127-page screenplay, but the production crew involved here clearly isn't making it easy on themselves. They don't currently have a cast. Which will make it tougher to film the movie. Plus, the concepts of Atlas Shrugged are daunting, which is why it's gone through half a dozen stops and starts over the past four decades. The most likely outcome for Atlas Shrugged is a Watchmen scenario. They'll honor the source material ... while completely missing the general public. That is, if they find people to actually be in the film.
3. Hugh Hefner, Just in General.
I was watching Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel when a thought occurred to me. Has there been a more influential person over the past century? Think of the topics he's personally broached through Playboy and his own activism: Censorship, The McCarthy trials, the sexual revolution, civil rights, women's rights, sodomy laws, drug laws, contraception, and on and on it goes. Of course Hefner's personal life is tricky business, and in some ways it has sapped his rightful legacy, but you can't dispute that the guy was twenty to forty years ahead of where the culture was headed. You could argue Oppenheimer was more influential (nuclear weapons) if you were feeling cheeky, but I think the things Hefner touched affect our day to day lives more often. Anyhow, check out the documentary if you get a chance, it's worth a watch.
4. MI4 vs. Sherlock Holmes 2!
Whoa. Tom Cruise vs. Robert Downey Jr., big dumb fun vs. intellectual and blessedly rights-free Sherlock. Both are now scheduled for December 16, 2011. But there can be only one, Highlander! You've got to think that one of the tent pole projects will move off this date. Which one? If I had to bet I'd say Mission Impossible 4. Brad Bird will finish early, and they'll move it up. In some strange way Sherlock Holmes is now the more established product and can play this game of chicken with leverage.
5. Prince of Persia Gets a Pass, while Sex and the City Gets Crushed.
In hindsight, it was a predictable outcome. Sex and the City 2, being released in a down economy, gives critics a chance to lash out against rampant consumerism. Prince of Persia, coming out a day later, gives critics a chance to say "Hey, we like movies too!" Only it's all mixed up, because Sex and the City 2 was executed on a much higher level. They meant to make it an impossible fantasy, whereas I'm fairly certain the writers behind Prince of Persia didn't purposefully leave out any hint of a coherent story.
Additionally, why in the world are these two films coming out on the same weekend when the focal point of the marketing for Prince of Persia has been Jake Gyllenhaal's abs? Persia should have come out next weekend, when it could have faced off against a bunch of tomato cans. Regardless, this weekend presents us with a controversial choice: materialism vs. mediocrity. It's in your hands now, ticket buyers. Don't let us down.
On that note, I hope you all have a great weekend, full of only easy choices!
Check out last week's Movie Musings here
Laremy is the lead critic and senior producer for a website named Film.com. He's also available on Twitter.
Spider-Man Casting Showdown
It's been a three years since the Spider-Man trilogy came to a close, and since Hollywood seems to be working in dog years, someone has decided that it's time for a remake. While the first Spider-Man series was a commercial success, fans were less than enthused about Spider-Man's transformation from wise-cracking, nerdy high schooler into a generic angst-filled superhero. And let's not even get started on Spider-Man 3. Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have brought on indie director Marc Webb and scriptwriter James Vanderbilt for the pared-down project, but the casting of the titular webslinger has been kept under wraps, until today. We'll walk you through the choices and our take on who should play your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and who's got the nerdy essence of Peter Parker down pat.
The Stage Star
Bio: English-American Andrew Garfield is one of the most critically acclaimed actors on our list. He's won a number of awards for his stage acting, and was named one of Variety's "10 Actors To Watch" in 2007. He's also had some big-screen success, appearing in The Other Boleyn Girl, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and Boy A, for which he won a British Academy Television Award. He's next appearing in the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's bestselling novel Never Let Me Go due out this fall, and The Social Network which tells the stories of the founders of Facebook.
Nerd-O-Meter: 5/10 - Garfield may look a bit gangly, but he's still a put-together professional.
Our Take: Garfield seems to be the best actor of the bunch but is virtually unknown in the States, which is a liability to the would-be blockbuster. While having older actors play high schoolers is a time-honored Hollywood tradition, at 27 he would actually be older than Tobey Maguire was when he first took the role. Garfield looks young, and cute (and kind of like Neil Patrick Harris and Seth Green's lovechild), but by sequel time a thinning hairline could catch up to him.
Bio: Despite his youth, 17-year-old Josh Hutcherson is one of the most experienced actors on our list, and one of the most recognizable. Or at least, he would be if he hadn't been hit by the puberty truck recently and changed from a gawky kid to an actual hottie. Star of such kiddy fare as Zathura, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, and Bridge To Terabithia, he's begun to transition to more adult films with this summer's The Kids Are All Right.
Nerd-O-Meter: 8/10 - Hutcherson is an actual teenager, which is the kind of awkwardness that's tough to fake. No matter how many makeovers you get, we'll all still know about Firehouse Dog.
Our Take: Hutcherson may have experience, but there's a big difference between appearing in a film as the wisecracking child sidekick and having to carry a film by yourself. Since this Spider-Man will doubtlessly be following in The Dark Knight's "gritty" footsteps (sigh), he may not be up to the task of dealing with Spider-Man's often angsty personal life.
Bio: I'm sure that Frank Dillane is not actually creepy in real life, but when your only publicity photos are of you as a young Lord Voldemort that's the impression people are going to get. Dillane is the son of British actors Peter Dillane and Naomi Wirthner, but made his first acting debut in last year's Harry Potter film.
Nerd-O-Meter: 6/10 - Like Hutcherson, Dillane is still technically a teen, which helps him out, but his look seems less "dork" and more "serial killer."
Our Take: No one knows who Dillane is right now, but Potter has made plenty of people stars.
The Rising Star
Bio: Alden Ehrenreich may be unknown at the moment, but he's lined up to be Hollywood's next big thing. Ehrenreich's lucky break came from being "discovered" by Steven Spielberg, who saw him in a short film when he was 14. He made his big-screen debut in Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro last year, and will appear in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere.
Nerd-O-Meter: 1/10 - Ehrenreich looks more like one of those jocks who would shove Peter into a locker.
Our Take: Ehrenreich may not have a lot of experience, but straight out of the gate he's been marked for success, developing relationships with two of Hollywood's finest directors. But he is still virtually unknown, and you can't say that he really looks the part.
The Big Name
Bio: "Big" is very, very relative in this case, but Jamie Bell is probably the best-known actor on the list, even if it's just in a "hey it's that guy" sort of way. Bell made his name as the star of Billy Elliot in 2000, but has generally moved towards action films like King Kong and Jumper. He's also set to take the titular role in Spielberg's Tintin film adaptation.
Nerd-O-Meter: 3/10 - He may have gotten his debut in a tearjerker, but he's pretty buff these days. Plus, he danced like no one was watching, and that takes serious moxie.
Our Take: Bell's probably the front-runner at this point, as he's got that added "people know who the hell he is" appeal. But while Bell isn't as old as Garfield, he's still pretty old to be playing a high schooler, and could run into similar issues. Plus, his hair is disturbingly close to Tobey Maguire's infamous emo bangs from Spider-Man 3. Hopefully they won't take his Billy Elliot experience as incentive to insert another dance scene to the film.
The Heat Vision blog reports that Spider-Man director Marc Webb has been quietly meeting and reading actors to play the title role in Columbia's reboot for several months with the list narrowing in the past week or so. The candidates include Jamie Bell, Alden Ehrenreich, Frank Dillane, Andrew Garfield and Josh Hutcherson.
Bell, who made his film debut as the eponymous Billy Elliot, has already stepped into the comics world by portraying Tintin in Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin, which hits screens in December 2011.
Ehrenreich was discovered by Spielberg, who saw a comedy video of him at a bat mitzvah of his daughter's friend. A couple of TV appearances followed and was cast by Francis Ford Coppola in 2009's Tetro.
Dillane, a Brit, had a role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where he won notices playing a young Tom Riddle.
Garfield gained notices for playing a young reporter in the UK TV movie trilogy Red Riding. He will also be seen in David Fincher's The Social Network.
Finally, Hutcherson, who is the youngest of the candidates at 18, also has the most experience. He's scored key roles in Bridge to Terabithia and the upcoming Red Dawn remake. He also appears in the Sundance hit The Kids Are All Right and starred with Brendan Fraser in Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Journey sequel will see his character leap to the forefront as Fraser is likely to drop out.
The group of actors seems to fall in line with what Webb has been looking to do with his take on Spider-Man, which is to cast relative unknowns in a story that roots Parker back in high school, HV notes.
Haven is one of those purposely nonlinear films in which multiple stories cross at "random" times and locations only to wind up being inextricably connected to each other in the end (thanks a lot Quentin Tarantino). In this case the two main arcs belong to shady businessman Carl (Bill Paxton) and his teenage daughter Pippa (Agnes Bruckner) and to laid-back fisherman Shy (Bloom) and his secret love Andrea (Zoe Saldana). Carl and Pippa flee to Grand Cayman from Miami when the Feds find out about his deal with cynical British businessman Allen (Stephen Dillane) while Shy has spent his whole life on the island getting by just fine until he falls for the boss's daughter and incurs her family's wrath. Their stories collide on one hot fateful night when tensions stretch to their breaking point and it becomes virtually impossible to tell who's out to get who--and why. Most of the film's characters are fairly one-dimensional but you can't really blame the cast--defiant Daddy's girl slick island shyster gun-toting gangsta crooked businessman poor fisherman with a heart of gold and so on. But because of that--and the fact few of the actors end up getting significant screen time due to the movie's fractured storytelling style--not many of the performances are all that memorable. Anthony Mackie (who also impressed in Half Nelson) does a good job seething with rage and resentment as Andrea's older brother Hammer and Saldana has her moments as a good girl brought down by heartbreak but everyone else seems to be in it more for the island location than the chance to stretch their acting muscles. As for Bloom he continues to prove that while he's good at "earnest" and "vulnerable " while "complex" and "tough" elude him. Making a movie like this work is no small challenge but unfortunately it's one that director Frank E. Flowers doesn't rise to meet. He juggles the interconnected stories awkwardly--after following Carl and Pippa for the first 30 minutes or so the film abruptly abandons them to switch over to Shy with no real explanation on where the other two have gone. It's only much later that the timeline and plot start to become clear but by then the characters' motivations and double-crosses have gotten so muddled that it's difficult to care all that much about how everything fits together. It's one thing to make an audience think a little. Memento and The Usual Suspects are fine examples of head-scratchers that reward you for giving your brain cells a workout. But it's quite another to confuse them with unnecessarily complicated details that don't end up making a difference in the end.
In the beginning of the Dark Ages the warlords of England are brutally kept in line by the Irish King Donnchadh (David O'Hara). Tristan (James Franco) has grown up hating the Irish for killing his family and has made a strong allegiance to father figure Lord Marke (Rufus Sewell) while Isolde (Sophia Myles) Donnchadh's daughter has grown up under her father’s thumb. After a fierce battle that leaves Tristan near death he washes up on Irish soil and is nursed secretly back to health by Isolde who tells him she’s someone else. The two fall madly in love but Tristan must return to England before he’s discovered. Meanwhile Donnchadh decides to stage a tournament between all the champions of England with his daughter as the prize. Tristan ends up winning the princess' hand for Lord Marke but is horrified to find out she’s his own true love. Tristan and Isolde now must suppress their love for the sake of peace and the future of England. But despite their best efforts to stay apart the lovers are driven inexorably together. Despite the fact that Franco (Spider-Man) and Myles (Underworld) look lovely rolling around on the ground in romantic trysts and gazing forlornly at one another you don’t necessarily feel any heat between them. That seems to be mostly the fault of Franco who plays the young Tristan far too stoically. We understand he’s a tortured soul torn between duty and love with his eyes perpetually half-filled with tears. But couldn’t he have shown a little more passion (and while he’s at it washed his hair)? The luminous Myles is better at showing her burning desire but she too is left many times sad and weepy. Only Sewell (Legend of Zorro) who is usually delegated to playing bad guys shows any kind of raw emotion as he first falls genuinely in love with his bride--and then is betrayed by her and the only son he ever knew. He’d probably make a great King Arthur. As the Celtic myth of Tristan and Isolde predates the Arthurian legend as well as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet you can easily see how those two more famous stories were possibly formed. Tristan & Isolde is a classic story of forbidden passion set against political upheaval as well as a tale about a tragic love triangle. Producers Ridley and Tony Scott had been fascinated with the legend for many years and finally got the opportunity to bring it to the big screen. Ridley however who directed last summer’s medieval fare Kingdom of Heaven wisely chose to hand over the directing reins to Kevin Reynolds (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) who adequately paints a picture of a time when chaos reigned. Maybe Tristan & Isolde is not as compelling or romantic as the king of them all Braveheart but it is certainly far more accessible than say Kingdom of Heaven. Sorry Ridley.
Based on the best-selling book by Mark Foster Game tells the remarkable real-life story of Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf). He was a working-class immigrant kid who in the early 1900s turned the privileged world of golf on its ear. The story begins with Francis working as a caddie at a posh country club where he masters the game by quietly practicing on his own. His French-born father (Elias Koteas) thinks he's wasting his time and should be earning an honest wage but Francis is far too smitten with the game to give it up. Francis finally gets his big break when an amateur spot opens up at the 1913 U.S. Open. With a feisty 10-year-old caddie named Eddie (Josh Flitter) by his side egging him on Francis plays the best he ever has. He eventually finds himself facing off against the sport's undisputed champion Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) a U.S. Open winner and six-time British Open champion (a record that still stands today). Their legendary battle changes the face of the sport forever--but I wouldn't necessarily call it the greatest game ever.
Game is one of those juicy little biopics actors can really sink their teeth into. Starting with our young lead LaBeouf (Holes) is sufficiently determined as the guy playing against impossible odds. His Francis with his liquid brown eyes and winning smile is full of optimism and raw talent that propels him into the majors. And he looks pretty authentic swinging a golf club too. Still it may be time for LaBeouf to move on from the Disney family fare and do something grittier sort of like what he showed in Constantine. Dillane--who was so achingly good in The Hours as Virginia Woolf's beleaguered husband--also does a fine job as the legendary Vardon a man haunted by his own demons. In a way Game is a story about both men who have more in common than they realize. Although a top professional in the sport Vardon has to fight against the elitist golfing community's prejudices. You see Vardon grew up dirt poor on the plains of Scotland and because of his background was never permitted into any "gentleman's" clubs. The cast of colorful supporting players add to the film especially Flitter as the caustic but encouraging Eddie. He may be small but he packs a wallop. The last shot of the movie features Francis and Eddie walking off the golf course at sunset evoking the classic Casablanca ending line "This is the start of a beautiful friendship"--which apparently really happened. The real-life Eddie and Francis remained friends for the rest of their lives.
The main slice against Game is that it's about golf. Besides comedies such as Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore a serious movie about the game really isn't going to stir your soul say like football or baseball. But actor-turned-director Bill Paxton--who made his directorial debut with the creepy Frailty--takes the story and keeps it convincingly affecting. Much like Seabiscuit it's the real-life historical context that makes Game even more compelling. Paxton painstakingly details how the game was played at the turn of the century--and who was allowed to play it. The whole discriminatory arrogance surrounding the game makes the stakes even higher for our heroes. Vardon had a score to settle while Ouimet simply became the game's new hero paving the way for legendary whiz kids like Tiger Woods to step up on the green. Paxton also views Game as a Western. The final golf round between Vardon and Ouimet is the ultimate shootout á la the OK Corral in which the camera angles are inventive--a bird's eye view of the ball sailing through the air or gliding on the green into the hole. Plus he keeps the tension as taut as he can considering the less than exhilarating subject matter. Oh come on who isn't a sucker for a good sports underdog story even if it is golf?