Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
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Models and musicians – the pairing is as perfect as pancakes and syrup. Just last week, U2 bassist Adam Clayton married his model girlfriend Mariana Teixeira de Carvalho in Dublin, entering a long, distinguished line of rockers who have said “hell yeah” to fashionistas and models around the globe.
Here’s a rundown of some of the best model/rocker pairings over the years.
Kate Moss and Pete Doherty Kate Moss may be happily married to The Kills’ Jamie Hince, but before there was Jamie, there was her busted relationship with Pete Doherty. Moss was hardly a vision of innocence herself, but hooking up with a notorious, self-admitted junkie made for pure tabloid gold. Drugs and scandal followed, with Doherty claiming everything from “loving her bones” to saying that Moss was a “nasty old rag” who once kicked him in the head. In his mind, the pair broke up because, according to Doherty, “I can’t buy her diamonds.”
Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley The Piano Man definitely loves his statuesque blondes, and supermodel Christie Brinkley is no different. Brinkley starred in Joel’s video for “Uptown Girl,” which, contrary to popular belief, wasn’t actually written about Brinkley, but another one of Joel’s model exes – Elle McPherson. The pair married in 1985, but their marriage was strained due to Joel’s philandering and love for booze, and they finally divorced at the end of 1993.
Jack White and Karen Elson This couple was smoking hot and seemed like they were made for each other. White and Elson met when the former starred in the White Stripes video for “Blue Orchid,” and the pair married in 2005. Although they divorced 6 years later, they were awesome enough to hold a divorce party in 2011, so everyone thought that all was well between the two. However, lately Elson has accused White of basically being a douchebag (who really has it out for the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, for some reason), and White has countersued her in what’s become a messy ending for the once-reigning Couple of Cool.
Caleb Followill and Lily Aldridge Son of a preacher turned rock star who has fire-sex meets California girl at overexposed music festival, and they live happily ever after – that’s essentially the story of Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill and Victoria’s Secret Angel Lily Aldridge. The two met at Coachella in 2011 and married later that year. Their daughter, Dixie Pearl Followill, was born in June last year.
Simon Le Bon and Yasmin Parveneh Not all model/rocker pairings end badly. Simon Le Bon has been married to Yasmin Parveneh since 1985. At the time of their marriage, their relationship was all over the gossip headlines – Le Bon was the lead singer of Duran Duran, one of the biggest bands of the 1980s, and Parveneh herself was one of the highest-earning models of the decade.
Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo Previously trying his darndest to be the Leonardo DiCaprio of the pop world, Adam Levine has had a long list of models by his side. His latest model girlfriend, Behati Prinsloo, is set to be his future wife, putting to rest his image of the perpetual pop bachelor. Though the pair had briefly broken up and Levine wasted no time in hooking up with model Nina Agdal, the two got back together and decided to get engaged.
Agyness Deyn and Albert Hammond, Jr. When Agyness Deyn and Albert Hammond, Jr. hooked up in 2008, it seemed like a match made in hipster heaven. Usually seen in paparazzi photos holding hands and walking dogs, the relationship was rumored to be much rockier than it initially seemed, and the couple finally broke up a year later. Deyn has definitely dated her share of rock stars, including The Paddingtons’ Josh Hubbard, Phantom Planet’s Alex Greenwald, and Last Shadow Puppets frontman and solo artist Miles Kane. The world is waiting for a supergroup of all the model’s exes, hopefully called Deyn’s Discards.
Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter Like Billy Joel, Rod Stewart likes his women tall and blonde (and nearly identical-looking). In 1990, Stewart married model Rachel Hunter, the woman responsible for millions of young men saving up their dollars for Sports Illustrated issues in the 90s. The two separated in 1999 and officially divorced in 2006, and Hunter went on to have it going on as “Stacy’s Mom,” while Stewart – what else? – married another model.
Iman and David Bowie Arguably one of the coolest couples ever, Iman and David Bowie have been married since 1992. The union of Ziggy Stardust and the most gorgeous advocate for social aid had the entertainment world in a frenzy. Forget haters, barely anyone thought that this marriage would last, but twenty-one years later, the couple is still going strong.
Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour From the documentation of his behavior in the media, it’s safe to say that anyone who dates Axl Rose is probably making up for some bad karma in a past life. Allegations of physical abuse, theft, and violence Rose’s relationship with Seymour, but for some reason, the couple still decided to get engaged. The engagement was short-lived, due to Rose accusing Seymour of being unfaithful (because why would anyone cheat on a prize like Axl Rose?) and the couple finally broke up.
Keith Richards and Patti Hansen Who would’ve ever thought that Keith Richards would be the guy to be married to his wife for thirty years? Richards married model Patti Hansen in 1983 and have been together since then. A couple that makes it through drugs, rock and roll, Mick Jagger, and everything in between, is definitely a couple that stays together.
Paulina Porizkova and Ric Ocasek When these two hooked up, most people were scratching their heads, thinking “….what?” The gorgeous, then-19 year old Paulina Porizkova was featured in the Cars’ video for “Drive,” and although lead singer Ric Ocasek was still married at the time (and 35 years old), the two started dating and have been together ever since. Porizkova has also gone on to say that Ocasek is better-looking than George Clooney.
Paul McCartney and Heather Mills And the award for the most notorious rocker/model pairing goes to Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. Mills is a former model, famous for 2 things: having a prosthetic limb as part of her leg and for trying to suck Sir Macca drier than anyone else ever could. The pair married in 2002 and divorced 6 years later, with the divorce becoming a highly-publicized affair for the settlement amount that the celebrities were fighting for. Mills wanted £125 million – McCartney offered £15.8 million. Because is £15.8 million is obviously pennies, Mills kept fighting for more, eventually ending up with a total of £24.3 million, plus £35,000 per year to take care of their daughter. The best part of this is that Mills fancies herself to be a charity campaigner.
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.