Splash News / Marvel
It seems that Marvel has hit the ground running with its four upcoming Netflix series. Hot off the news that Drew Goddard has been approached to write and produce Daredevil, Marvel has also approached Twilight writer Melissa Rosenberg to write and produce its Jessica Jones series. Now before the pitchforks are brandished and several villages are burned to the ground by the comic book fans who are instantly turned off by the Twilight brand, Rosenberg has had a wealth of experience in television and film beyond the realm of sparkly vampires. It should also be noted that the writer was involved with ABC's now defunct attempt to bring Jessica Jones to the small screen, AKA Jessica Jones, so she has experience with the character. It also helps that a woman is writing a series that finally features a female superhero, something which the cinematic Marvel universe has been in serious need of.
In the comics, Jessica Jones is a costumed superhero/private investigator that has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Daredevil and Spider-Man. She is romantically involved with fellow superhero Luke Cage, who will also be getting his own Netflix series in the coming years. The character was introduced in the critically acclaimed comic book series Alias, a book that many consider to be a landmark title in comic book history.
Hopefully, Rosenberg is as up for the task as her résumé leads us to believe. Her previous work includes writing for the early seasons of Dexter (the good ones) and a number of episodes for strong, clever shows like The O.C. and Ally Mcbeal, both of which feature some strong female characters and a fun amount of wit that every comic book series needs.
This news coupled with Goddard's Daredevil signing shows that the Marvel brass is doing its best to select the perfect creator to write and produce each one of their series. The comic giant has found success in allowing its creatives to steer the ship on their projects. Marvel's key to success is in the way that its characters feel distinctive in their solo outings. Just as each individual comic book series has its own writer and penciler to fill in and color the world with their own sensibilities, Marvel has let the writers and directors of their films put their own style and influence into each film. Kenneth Brannagh was allowed to give Thor a nice helping of Shakespearian gravitas and tragedy that made the God of Thunder feel mythic. Joss Whedon put his trademark wit into the mouths of The Avengers, which helped each member of the team shine. James Gunn and Edgar Wright, who are directing Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man respectively, also stand to give each film their own individual touch that will fit in and highlight the best parts of the properties' characters. Most importantly, Marvel is choosing writers and directors that fans feel safe entrusting their beloved characters to. Hopefully, their winning streak continues when Jessica Jones hits Netfix's streaming service.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Norm Zada, 59, admits he has been in love with 76-year-old Rivers for over 30 years after meeting her backstage at a comedy show.
He told her about his lasting crush when he became a subject on her new TV show How Did You Get So Rich - and Rivers was so taken by his loyalty she agreed to date the former mathematics professor-turned-publisher.
What makes the odd romance even odder is Zada made a name for himself by refusing to work with cosmetically-enhanced models - and now he's dating perhaps the world's poster woman for nips and tucks.
Zada reportedly launched Perfect 10 in the mid-1990s after a friend was rejected from the pages of Playboy magazine because her proportions did not fit the magazine's tastes.
But despite his own personal taste for 'real' women, Zada has always found Rivers "intriguing" and "fascinating".
He says, "I was in love with Joan for quite a while back, about 30 years ago... but I had to admire from afar. I got that. She was happily married.
"Then all of sudden they decide to do this show about how I made my money and I had an opportunity to meet her in person - and we got along very well.
"I've always had a lot of respect for her and now we're dating. It's just started and I'm supposed to see her in L.A. when she next comes here. She is a very intriguing lady.
"I would say I have a fascination with her. I've met a lot of natural beautiful models in my time, but I can appreciate women who are incredibly intelligent and are so interesting to be around and learn from, I've always told people that without a high IQ I don't care how attractive the women is, I can't personally get interested in her. Joan is at the very end of the spectrum in terms of IQ.
And Rivers has confirmed she and Zada are an item; her publicist states, "Joan is dating Norm Zada.
Zada, the son of Fuzzy Logic computer scientist Lotfi Zadeh, previously worked at IBM and was an adjunct mathematics professor at Stanford University, Columbia University and UCLA, where he penned textbooks on computer science.
He turned his back on academia to become a professional poker player before starting up the Perfect 10 empire.
His glossy full of lovelies wrapped up business in 2007, but the enterprising businessman still oversees the spin-off website and remains one of Los Angeles' most powerful players, living among the rich and famous like Denzel Washington, Sylvester Stallone and Rod Stewart in Beverly Park, where Rivers was a recent guest.
And he's already planning a future with the comedienne, who has been single since her beloved husband Edgar Rosenberg died in 1987.
Zada adds, "I would like to go out to lunch with her for the next five years, absolutely, because every meeting would be intriguing.
"I absolutely adore her and just love the IQ and the knowledge and the enlightenment. She's a great dinner companion. We're going to have fun together because I'm going to love talking to her and hopefully she won't hate talking to me.
Rivers isn't Zada's first funny gal - he briefly romanced beloved comedienne Lucille Ball.
Zada reveals, "She used to call me 'The Computer' and I would go visit her at her home on Roxbury in Beverly Hills, and we basically just played backgammon... We were very close.
"But Joan is actually a lot funnier in person than Lucy was... Joan Rivers is in a class by herself.".
Walt Disney animation’s first foray into 3D ‘toon making isn’t just a technical triumph it thankfully also tells the clever story of Bolt (John Travolta). He’s a superstar TV canine who believes the superpowers he displays weekly on his series are for real --especially when it comes to the protection of his master and co-star Penny (Miley Cyrus). One day however the dog is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City. Lost alone and confused on the streets of the Big Apple Bolt is still living the show vowing to get to Penny who he believes has been kidnapped by the “green-eyed man.” And so he embarks on a cross-country journey to L.A. to save Penny. Along the way he is joined by an abandoned wily housecat Mittens (Susie Essman) and a TV-loving hamster Rhino (Mark Walton) who believes everything he sees on the tube is ALSO real. Of course Bolt is in for rude awakening when he finds out he is just a regular dog but he still needs to get to Penny -- even if it means she might not be there for him when he returns. Disney is not a studio that generally depends on superstar voices for their animated films but in casting Travolta and tween queen Cyrus they have scored a bullseye. Travolta’s Bolt is a delightful cross between the self-assured superstar and a pooch in denial. The actor doesn’t phone it in but instead creates an original and loveable dog that stands proudly in Disney’s large canon of canine greats. The action scenes created for Bolt’s TV series are lots of fun and the interactions with his traveling companions are choice. As Penny Cyrus is sympathetic sincere and she even gets to sing a duet with Travolta “I Thought I Lost You ” which she co-wrote. The show is nearly stolen though by comedian Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Mittens -- a smart determined and emotionally wounded pet cat abandoned by her owners and forced to wander the streets alone. And by Mark Walton as the hilarious Rhino the obsessive fanboy hamster who rolls around in his ball. Walton is actually an animator in real life who happened to be so good at voicing Rhino during tests they just gave him the job. Disney vets Chris Williams and Byron Howard capably usher the venerable Disney label into the brave new world of 3D animation and the results are promising -- putting the audience right in the center of Bolt’s universe. The TV series action set pieces are particularly effective in using the technology. It’s not even necessary to see the film in 3D because the whole CG process has come a long way in a few short years and Bolt is one of the best looking most accomplished animated films in memory -- glasses or no glasses. Williams and Howard expertly blend humor pathos and blockbuster-style action scenes effortlessly giving “Bolt” an appeal beyond just the target kid demo.
Don’t let the previews fool you—Terabithia isn’t anything like Chronicles of Narnia. Based on the Newbery-Award winning children’s novel by Katharine Paterson the story is more about childhood friendships and the way imagination can quite literally open new worlds. Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson) sees himself as an outsider at school—and at home. He really only feels himself when he’s drawing. Then he meets the new kid Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb) who has just moved from the big city. Despite their differences—she’s rich he’s poor—they become fast friends. Leslie who likes to spin magical stories opens Jess’ eyes to the possibilities and together they create the secret kingdom of Terabithia a mystical place accessible by swinging on an old rope over a stream in the woods near their homes. Interacting with the Terabithian denizens they’ve imagined both evil and good Jess and Leslie learn to deal with the pressures of their young pre-adolescent lives—and learn what the power of real friendship truly means. The young fresh cast really make Bridge to Terabithia work. Robb and Hutcherson are already veteran kid actors: Robb is best known for stealing hearts in Because of Winn-Dixie (another kid novel adaptation) and popping chewing gum as Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while Hutcherson played the tough older brother in Zathura as well as Robin Williams’ kid in R.V. Their acting experience clearly shows as they make the friendship between Jess and Leslie both genuine and heartfelt. There isn’t a false moment in their performances especially from Hutcherson who at first sends off an I-could-care-less vibe but through his soulful eyes becomes more attached to Leslie and their secret place. And as Jess’ little sister 7 year-old Bailee Madison plays the moppet without any cutesy affectations. As far as the adults are concerned stand outs include Robert Patrick as Jess’ stern dad just trying to make ends meet for his family and Zooey Deschanel as the kids’ music teacher who Jess has a crush on. In 1978 author Katharine Paterson wrote Bridge to Terabithia for her then 11 year-old son David Paterson about a special friendship he had. It was an instant hit. Now David all grown up is able to bring his mom’s touching story to life as one of the writers. Talk about a family effort backed by Walden Media--the geniuses behind Holes and Chronicles of Narnia. Directed by Rugrats creator Gabor Csupo Terabithia truly captures the essence of childhood imagination even I dare say more so than Narnia. Maybe it’s because the idea of Terabithia comes from the minds’ of very real children who are going through very real emotions as they enter into adolescence. Csupo keeps the imagery simple allowing audiences to create a fantasy world filled with mythical creatures right along with the film’s main characters. And if you haven’t read the book you might be surprised by the story’s poignancy. In a saturated field of animated duds and kid films better suited as after-school TV specials Bridge to Terabithia stands out as a one of the better family movies to come around in a long time.
November 02, 2001 4:49am EST
Frank's (John Travolta) ex-wife Susan (Teri Polo) is planning her second marriage to respected businessman Rick (Vince Vaughn) (we know this because he receives an award from the city's chamber of commerce). However Frank and Susan's 11-year-old son Danny (Matthew O'Leary) is having trouble adjusting to the prospect of a new stepfather. The carefree Susan nonetheless goes ahead with the impending nuptials which go off without a hitch until an uninvited guest shows up at the wedding. Turns out this guest Ray (Steve Buscemi) used to be Rick's partner in crime before he became a town pillar and has come to town to collect some sort of unpaid debt. Worried about tarnishing his newfound image Rick decides to get rid of his old buddy. But he soon finds out Danny is on to him and terrorizes the tyke into keeping his dirty secret. Danny tries to get help but no one except Frank believes him.
Travolta (Swordfish) is believable enough as a caring blue-collar father but he doesn't seem to give more to his performance than needed. It could be his over-simplistic character; Frank was almost too good of a guy and lacked authenticity. Vaughn (Made) is menacing enough to pull off the role of Rick but his character is unfortunately never fully developed. Viewers are expected to buy that he was once really crooked and now the pillar of the community with hardly any basis. Polo (Meet the Parents) plays the part of a concerned mother well but it conflicts with her character's aloofness. It's hard to believe her concern over her son after she marries a man she obviously knew nothing about. For his first feature film O'Leary demonstrates a lot of potential for a young actor and was well cast as Danny.
Harold Becker's Domestic Disturbance sticks to the tried and true evil stepfather formula which makes the story a little too predictable. The film might have been more interesting had the story risen above the level of a made-for-TV movie. There were also some elements to the story that made it a bit hard to swallow like the fact that the local police department was not able to prove a murder had obviously taken place. There are a few corny scenes like when Travolta goes crashing headfirst into a car windshield but still manages to give a dopey smile to his terrified son tied up in the back seat. Surprisingly the film still provides enough tension and suspense to make it entertaining even when using old tricks like unexpectedly seeing the villain's reflection in a mirror. The look of the film and the accurate re-creation of a small seaside tourist town in Maryland add to its visual authenticity.