At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief -- a.k.a. that Harry Potter knock-off that took "wizardry" and changed it to "Greek Mythology" -- might have a sequel in the works, according to the LA Times (who cite a "person who has been briefed on the project's status but was not authorized to speak publicly about it.") The report says that the sequel will be based on the second book in the five part series called The Sea of Monsters. Fox 2000 has hired Agent Cody Banks writers Scott Alexander and Larry Kraszewski to adapt the Rick Riordan novel, but Chris Columbus -- who directed the first film -- is not expected to return as director.
For those unaware, the story follows a boy named Percy Jackson -- a normal kid who discovers that he's the son of the Greek God Poseidon. He quickly learns that many aspects of Greek Mythology are real. Hopefully, these two films will lead to the boy's realization that he's actually a world-class swimmer, spawning a third film called Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Syyyke! I'm Actually Michael Phelps.
Source: LA Times
Chris Columbus director of the first two Harry Potter flicks has gone Greek trading wizards and witches for the gods and goddesses of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief based on the popular series of adventure novels by Rick Riordan.
Aside from his Jonas-worthy looks troubled teen Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman turning in a solid audition for the Peter Parker gig) seemingly has little else going for him: At school he’s shunned by his peers and stymied by dyslexia; at home he’s tormented by a sullen beer-swilling step-dad. The only solace from his dreary existence is found at the bottom of a swimming pool where he sits motionless for several minutes at a time staring blankly ahead.
What at first seems like textbook para-suicidal behavior is later revealed to be the happy byproduct of a rather stellar gene pool. Percy’s long-lost babydaddy we discover is none other than Poseidon the mighty Greek god of the sea (played funnily enough by Kevin McKidd of HBO's Rome) who descended from the heavens years ago and knocked up Percy’s mom (the gods it seems harbor major mortal fetishes) only to abruptly flee seven months after his birth. Among the traits he inherited from his deadbeat dad is the ability to survive underwater without oxygen for interminable amounts of time. So you see Percy isn’t an ordinary high school loser after all; he’s a freaking demigod yo.
It’s essentially the Harry Potter fantasy — the sudden discovery that one possesses talents far beyond those of typical mortals allowing one to permanently escape a life of endless tedium and mediocrity — straight from the director Columbus who helped kickstart the blockbuster franchise.
But ye gods — few movies in recent memory stumble out of the gate as badly as The Lightning Thief. Clearly intended to serve as the first installment of a franchise the film is nigh unwatchable for its first 30-odd minutes as Columbus labors awkwardly to establish the many intricacies and rules of the universe in which Lerman’s unlikely hero resides. Considering his resume you’d think Columbus might have learned a thing or two about laying out a backstory without resorting to the kind of forced exposition and clunky foreshadowing found in this film.
When the bulk of the expository gruntwork is finished The Lightning Thief does eventually hit a kind of narrative stride as Percy and his pals criss-cross the country facing various Hellenic horrors but it never engages on any level beyond the superficial. As in the Potter films I suspect the real emotional territory will be mined in the follow-ups — if there are any.
Meet the captain of the next Star Trek frontier: Scott Bakula.
A veteran sci-fi actor, Bakula (TV's Quantum Leap) will play Capt. Jonathan Archer in the fourth spin-off of the original Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise.
Bakula follows in the formidable shoes of William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew as leader of a Federation starship boldly going where no one else has gone.
"Obviously, I love the genre and am a longtime fan of Star Trek," Bakula said in a statement.
Executive producer and co-creator Rick Berman returns the sentiment.
"We couldn't be happier," Berman said. "Scott personifies the charm and intelligence that the role calls for."
Bakula's Archer is described as "a physical and intensely curious captain with a bold personality," according to a statement by Paramount Network Television. "Although he has a strong sense of duty, he is a bit of a renegade and is not afraid to question orders or even disobey them if he feels in his gut that he is right."
The fan site trektoday.com says that one aspect of Archer's personality is that he blames Vulcans for slowing human progress, which is a source of friction between Archer and his science officer Sub Commander T'Pau, a Vulcan.
Paramount is banking that Bakula (American Beauty, Life as a House, Necessary Roughness) will have the same effect that other big name actors have had on recent sci-fi television shows. Formerly MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson now solves problems on Stargate SG-1. Kevin Sorbo (The Adventures of Hercules) is now the hero of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.
Bakula, a Golden Globe winner and Tony award nominee, recently filmed the pilot episode of CBS' Late Bloomers, filling in after Burt Reynolds pulled out. But Bakula won't reprise his role in the serial, even if it does get a commitment for further episodes.
Paramount's press release did not officially confirm the next series' setting, but this news makes it all but certain that the series will indeed be set aboard a 22nd-century Enterprise, predating the period of the first TV series. Other cast members include John Billlingsly, Jolene Blaylock, Linda Park, Anthony Montgomery, Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer.
Star Trek: Enterprise is expected to air on Paramount's UPN Network, though a deal hasn't been finalized yet. Shooting begins Monday on the new series.
UPN officials would not comment.
Enterprise is picking up soon after Star Trek: Voyager ends. Voyager, whose series finale will air May 23 on UPN, has had a seven-year run. Voyager was the third spin-off since the original Star Trek hit the airwaves in 1966. In between, there has been The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and finally Voyager, which stars Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Kathryn Janeway at the helm of the 24th-Century spaceship.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Star Trek universe, writer John Logan (Gladiator, Any Given Sunday) is currently working on a second revision for the 10th movie in the Star Trek filmography. The film will reportedly be set for a Thanksgiving 2002 release.
Rumor has it - on a number of Trek-centric Web sites - that most of the Trek characters that currently appear in the movies will be killed, paving the way for a new crew to take over. A new villainous race is also rumored to appear, nothing quite like anything seen before in the Star Trek pantheon. All this supposedly follows Commander Riker and Counselor Troi's marriage in the first scene.