Poor Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow). Some years back her parents and brother were slaughtered by Richard Fenton (Jonathan Schaech) a teacher who had developed a psychotic fixation on her. Richard went to an insane asylum but he broke out and now he’s back in town just in time for Prom Night where he resumes his pursuit of Donna and knocks off some of her friends for good measure. Bringing up the rear is dogged Detective Winn (Idris Elba) desperately trying to nail Fenton as the body count mounts. Sooner or later--and it’s much later unfortunately--Donna will come face to face with Fenton one last time. With characters as one-dimensional and dumb as these there’s not much the cast can do except stand around in their prom outfits waiting to get killed off. As the deranged killer Schaech stares glares and skulks around. Leading lady Snow widens her eyes and worries accordingly throughout while Elba tries to inject a little intensity into the stock role of the cop on the case. Working from a bad screenplay by J.S. Cardone first-time helmer Nelson McCormick displays little enthusiasm--either for the genre or for this particular film. The scare tactics are hackneyed and usually involve characters surprising each other--a gag that gets really old really quickly. When one character mutters “This is getting silly. Enough already ” we couldn’t agree more. And we’d add “boring” to that statement. It should be noted however that there’s an awfully high body count for a film rated PG-13 even if the film isn’t as bloody as one might expect. McCormick and Cardone have re-teamed on the upcoming remake of The Stepfather and if their collaboration here is any indication horror fans may have reason to be afraid--very afraid.
For a few years in the '60s and '70s producer Gerry Anderson made "supermarionation" all the rage in the world of British children's television. His stop-motion puppets starred in a number of sci-fi adventure series most memorably Thunderbirds which followed the exploits of International Rescue -- a team comprised of ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy and his sons. Based out of their secret fortress on Treasure Island the Tracys (aided by lovely secret agent Lady Penelope) used their amazing rocket-powered vehicles to prevent disasters and save lives around the world. Now 40 years after Thunderbirds' TV debut Star Trek vet Jonathan Frakes has brought Anderson's characters to life on the big screen. Front and center is youngest son Alan Tracy (Brady Corbet) who dreams of the day he too can pilot one of his family's fab ships and lead missions. But first he has to prove himself to his father Jeff (Bill Paxton). That opportunity comes sooner than either expects when mysterious villain The Hood (Ben Kingsley) strands Jeff and the older Tracy boys in space and attacks Treasure Island. With only his friends Tintin (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) and Fermat (Soren Fulton) to help him Alan has to grow up quickly if he wants to save his family ... and the world!
It would be easy to mock several of the performances in Thunderbirds-- to chide Paxton for his earnest seriousness as Tracy patriarch Jeff to dismiss Corbet's angst-tinged eagerness as Alan to roll your eyes at Kingsley's over-the-top mystical fierceness as The Hood and to wince at Fulton and Anthony Edwards' nerdy stuttering as science whizzes Fermat and his dad Brains. But actors are only as good as their script and the one Frakes has given his cast (courtesy of screenwriters William Osborne and Michael McCullers) is weak and clichéd at best filled with after-school-special-worthy lessons for Alan to learn. "You can't save everyone " Jeff tells his son somberly and even Tintin has a moral for her crush when he's feeling selfish and indulging in self-pity: "This is hard on all of us Alan." Talk about insight! What makes it even more frustrating is knowing that the actors are capable of much more even the kids: Both Corbet and Hudgens did well with supporting roles in Thirteen. Thunderbirds' only real bright spot is Sophia Myles as Lady Penelope. A cross between Reese Witherspoon's Elle in Legally Blonde and Jennifer Garner's Sydney on Alias Myles' Lady P doesn't let her pink couture wardrobe prevent her from coolly kicking ass when the situation demands it. Attended by her droll driver/man-of-all-trades Parker (Ron Cook) Lady Penelope is a fresh feisty heroine with all of the film's best lines -- and the coolest car to boot.
Frakes cut his directorial teeth on episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and his first feature film was Star Trek: First Contact so he would seem like a natural choice to bring a cult sci-fi TV show to the big screen. Unfortunately while he does an admirable job re-creating (and improving on) the original Thunderbirds' mod sets cool ships and special effects (which are fine if a bit more TV-sized than summer blockbustery) Frakes can't seem to decide who his audience is. If he was aiming at grown-ups who remember the show fondly from their own childhood he should have embraced the source material's campiness (à la Starsky and Hutch) rather than restricting it to the Tracys' plastic Barbie-like furniture and Lady P's bouffant hairdo. If on the other hand Frakes was hoping to entertain today's kids he should have really reinvented the show for a 21st-century world (à la Stephen Hopkins'1998 Lost in Space) rather than clinging to the '60s references As it is he's stuck somewhere in the middle leaving adults bored during the kids-on-an-adventure bits and children mystified by the handful of jokes aimed at their parents.
Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) has it made. His screenwriting career is on the rise his first movie's just been made and he's got a cute girl. Life is good--until the House Un-American Activities Committee mistakenly fingers him as a Communist and he quickly falls from the A-list to the blacklist. Getting dumped by both his studio and his girl is nothing a little drinking can't remedy but after drowning his sorrows he nearly drowns himself when he decides to drive drunk and his car veers into the river knocking him unconscious. When Peter comes to he can't remember who he is or where he came from so he's taken in by the kindly people of Lawson a burg stuck in time and still mourning the loss of many of its sons in World War II. They mistake him for Luke Trimble one of their long-lost boys who went MIA in World War II and are overjoyed at his return. Luke's father Harry (Martin Landau) whose zest for life had dwindled so much that he let his beloved movie house The Majestic fall to ruin but with "Luke's" return he plans to reopen it. Celebrations abound. Peter-as-Luke even returns to his relationship with fiancée Adele (Laurie Holden). Meanwhile Peter may have forgotten who he was but the Feds haven't and they're on his tail.
When Carrey's given the right material like he was with The Truman Show he can exhibit moments of greatness. The Majestic doesn't give Carrey the leeway to show his quirky sensibilities demanding that he play it straight throughout the movie (there are a few--too few--glances at humor that Carrey doesn't play up). To bring off the kind of schmaltz this movie oozes Carrey had to bring something of an edge to his character. Instead Peter is neither likable nor unlikable coming off as a bland confused schmo until the climactic end which after two hours of his weak personality is wholly unbelievable. Landau is unexciting as a caricature of the sad sentimental old man without hope--you want to sympathize but there's something faintly chilly about him. Holden's liberated-woman lawyer might have played better in a contemporary movie; she looks and acts too much like a modern-day actress trying to portray a woman of the '50s.
Was this some kind of vanity project dreamed up by a director too taken with his own greatness and past success? Was Frank Darabont envisioning an It's a Wonderful Life for the next generation? (Psst…it's likely the majority of the modern moviegoing public doesn't know who Frank Capra is and could care less especially when the movie is as slow and as completely unbelievable as this one.) Apparently Darabont's in love with his own direction because hardly a moment goes by without some lingering reaction shot. Darabont took an intriguing story about amnesia and mistaken identity and slathered it with sap. Old-fashioned period stories can be lots of fun but it's imperative they be able to keep a present-day audience's interest by including a bit of modern wit and pace. Unfortunately this sticks to the straight-and-narrow. Nobody's going to buy the two-dimensional main characters the shiny happy townspeople or especially the schlocky my-country-'tis-of-thee finale. In its favor The Majestic's ultimate message is a nice one. The movie does have its heartfelt moments and its '50s feel is authentic if a little polished.
The Sopranos's Robert Iler will have to wait until an Oct. 25 court hearing to find out whether the charges of second-degree robbery and marijuana possession against him will be dropped, Entertainment Tonight reports. At a hearing Wednesday, a Manhattan judge delayed a decision citing insufficent information. Iler, who stars as Tony Soprano's troubled son, was arrested July 4 with three other teens for allegedly robbing two 16-year-olds of $40. Iler, who pleaded not guility, is out on $2,500 bail.
The Dixie Chicks want more money. Their record company, Sony Music Entertainment, wants more albums from the spunky country trio. Now both parties seem to be heading to court. Sony filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Tuesday against the Dixie Chicks, a week after the Flygirls demanded that Sony renegotiate their contract, The Associated Press reports. Sony wants to enforce the current contract, which calls for up to four more albums. The Dixie Chicks, whose albums Wide Open Spaces and Fly sold a total 15 million copies, could not be reached for comment.
ODB, of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan, was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison Wednesday after he pleaded guilty in April to criminal possession of a controlled substance, The Associated Press reported. ODB, whose real name is Russell Jones, was arrested in July 1999 after police stopped him for running a red light and found cocaine and marijuana in his car. A New York state Supreme Court judge also recommended that state correction authorities determine whether Jones needs psychiatric or substance abuse treatment. Jones has been in and out of trouble with the law since 1987, having been arrested on charges of drug possession, shoplifting and threatening a former girlfriend.
Hong Kong's Jackie Chan, who has built a career on executing one death-defying stunt after another, will receive the Special Grand Prix of the Americans on Sept. 25 at the 25th Montreal World Film Festival. "If we are today keen on Asian movies based on martial arts, this is mostly thanks to Jackie Chan," festival spokesman Henry Walsh told the Hollywood Reporter.
Soul legend Al Green will receive the lifetime achievement award Oct. 4 from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation during the 12th annual Pioneer Awards ceremony at the Apollo Theatre in New York, Variety reports.
Supermarionation practitioner Gerry Anderson, who created the 1960s cult shows Thunderbirds and Stingray, received an MBE (Member of the British Empire) this week at Buckingham Palace, BBC News reports. There are no strings attached to this award.
An Asian-American watchdog group demanded an apology Tuesday from Late Night with Conan O'Brien after comedian Sarah Silverman used the racial slur "chink" in a joke on the July 11 show, AP reports. "It's not constructive to use such a hateful word and play it off for laughs. It just gives people permission to continue to use it," Guy Aoki, president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, told AP. A spokesman for the show had no comment.
Dave Matthews is hardly known as one of rock's bad boys, but even he isn't afraid to disregard the rules in the name of having a good time. University of Colorado officials fined Matthews and his band $15,000 after their July 11 concert ran past a 10:30 p.m. curfew by 15 minutes, AP reports. "They tend not to go over curfew that frequently, but they were just having a great time and wanted to keep playing a little longer," Ambrosia Healy, the band's publicist, explained.
To boldly teach where no android has taught before. Jerri Ryan, formerly Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager, has officially joined the cast of the high school drama Boston Public, Fox officials announced Tuesday.
Perhaps Iggy Pop has a thing for old Disney cartoons. The pioneer punk rocker's list of backstage demands for an upcoming Scottish concert in August includes seven dwarves and pack of American-made cigarettes, even though he doesn't smoke. He also demanded broccoli because he hates the vegetable and wants to throw it in a bin, officials with the Gig on the Green concert in Glasgow told Scotland's the Daily Record. Officials said that they are taking Pop's demands in good humor.