TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Gravity was the toast of the Broadcast Film Critics Association's 19th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards on Thursday (16Jan14). The science-fiction film nabbed seven awards, including a Best Actress In An Action Movie prize for Sandra Bullock and a Best Director honour for Alfonso Cuaron.
The multiple wins bookended a successful day for the moviemaker and company - Gravity led the pack for Oscar nominations, which were announced on Thursday morning. The film picked up 10 nods including Best Picture, Best Actress (Bullock) and Best Director.
David O. Russell's American Hustle was a four-prize winner at the Critics Choice Awards. The cast was honoured with the Best Acting Ensemble and the movie was named Best Comedy, while Amy Adams added another trophy to her haul when she landed the Best Actress in a Comedy trophy.
Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave was also a multiple winner - the slavery drama bagged the Best Picture honour and Lupita Nyong'o choked back tears as she accepted the Best Supporting Actress accolade for her role as Patsey. The film's writer, John Ridley, was also feted with the Best Adapted Screenplay award.
And hard-hitting drama Dallas Buyers Club also scored victories in two of the night's biggest categories - Jared Leto won the Best Supporting Actor award and Matthew McConaughey walked away with the Best Actor honour, while Cate Blanchett took home the Best Actress award for Blue Jasmine and Leonardo DiCaprio won gold in the Best Actor in a Comedy category for The Wolf of Wall Street.
DiCaprio's other 2012/2013 movie The Great Gatsby was also among the multiple film winners, as was Lone Survivor and animated hit Frozen.
One of the night's highlights came when Oprah Winfrey took the stage in Santa Monica, California to present her The Butler co-star Forest Whitaker with the Joel Siegel Award for his humanitarian efforts and work with the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, which he founded in 2012.
Praising the actor, Winfrey told the crowd, "In his most recent role in Lee Daniels' The Butler, I had the privilege of seeing first hand how Forest suddenly and so masterfully embodies the soul of a character. He is indeed a great actor, but let me tell you my friends, he is for sure an even greater man.
"He is devoted to his family, he loves life and he cares deeply about our earth and its people. I just marvel at his remarkable humanitarian efforts."
The full list of winners is as follows:
Best Picture - 12 Years a Slave
Best Actor - Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress - Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Acting Ensemble - Cast of American Hustle
Best Director - Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Best Original Screenplay - Spike Jonze (Her)
Best Adapted Screenplay - John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Supporting Actress - Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Best Young Actor/Actress - Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color)
Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
Best Art Direction - Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn (The Great Gatsby)
Best Editing - Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger (Gravity)
Best Costume Design - Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby)
Best Hair and Makeup - American Hustle
Best Visual Effects - Gravity
Best Animated Feature - Frozen
Best Action Movie - Lone Survivor
Best Actor In An Action Movie - Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor)
Best Actress In An Action Movie - Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Best Comedy - American Hustle
Best Actor In A Comedy - Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Best Actress In A Comedy - Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Best Sci-fi/Horror Movie - Gravity
Best Foreign Language Film - Blue is the Warmest Color
Best Documentary Feature - 20 Feet from Stardom
Best Song - Let It Go by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Frozen)
Best Score - Steven Price (Gravity)
Louis XIII Genius Award - Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Richard Linklater
Joel Siegel Award - Forest Whitaker
The Butler director Lee Daniels is in talks to bring a long-awaited Richard Pryor biopic to fruition on the big screen. Michael B. Jordan, Damon Wayans and Eddie Murphy are all currently in the running to play the late actor/comedian, who died of a heart attack in 2005, aged 65.
Pryor's widow, Jennifer, is producing the film along with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The untitled project has been in the works since 2009, with actor Forest Whitaker becoming the last big name attached to help bring Pryor's life story to the big screen. He signed on last March (13) to write the script and also produce the film, although it is not known if he is still linked to the movie.
Adam Sandler and director Bill Condon were previously involved in the project before it was shelved in 2011.
Matthew Mcconaughey has won the first ever Best Actor prize at the Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York on Monday (02Dec13). The star was honoured with the first prize in the top acting category for his standout role as an AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club at the fourth annual ceremony.
Taking home the Best Actress prize was Short Term 12's Brie Larson, who has been receiving rave reviews for her role as a teacher working with troubled kids.
Another big winner of the night was Fruitvale Station, as its lead actor, Michael B. Jordan, won Breakthrough Actor and director Ryan Coogler won Breakthrough Director for his first feature film.
The top film awards were given to the team behind The Act of Killing for Best Documentary, and Joel and Ethan Coen for Inside Llewyn Davis, which won Best Feature.
Special awards were also handed out to director Richard Linklater, Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and the late James Gandolfini, who was honoured by his pal and former The Sopranos co-star Steve Buscemi.
Buscemi told the crowd, "I did not know the meaning of intimidated until those first few takes and I felt as a director obligated to say something... Jimmy was very gracious and patient with me. Tony Soprano did not come easy to him. He couldn't just turn it on and off, but when he got there it was incredible."
Hosted by comedian Nick Kroll, the fourth annual Gotham Independent Film Awards officially kicked off the 2014 awards season.
Actor Steve Buscemi will pay tribute to his The Sopranos co-star James Gandolfini at the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards next month (Dec13). The late actor will be honoured for his career achievements on 2 December (13) at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
Buscemi says, "James Gandolfini was a friend, an inspiration, and an extraordinary talent whose presence is missed by all of us who knew and loved him. It is an honour to present this tribute at the Gotham Awards recognising his impact."
Other honourees at the 23rd annual New York awards show include Forest Whitaker, director Richard Linklater and media executive Katherine Oliver.
Gandolfini passed away after suffering a heart attack while vacationing in Italy in June (13).
British director Steve Mcqueen's critically-acclaimed new drama 12 Years A Slave has scored a trio of top nominations for the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards. The movie, based on a true story, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery, and his performance has earned him a nod for Best Actor. He will face competition from Matthew McConaughey for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, Robert Redford for All Is Lost and Isaiah Washington for Blue Caprice.
McQueen's leading lady, Lupita Nyong'o, has also gained recognition in the Breakthrough Actor category, which includes Kill Your Darlings' Dane DeHaan and Michael B. Jordan for Fruitvale Station, while the picture itself is shortlisted for Best Feature, against Inside Llewyn Davis, Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Upstream Color and Richard Linklater's Before Midnight.
Meanwhile, the stars mentioned for Best Actress include Scarlett Johansson in Don Jon, Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine, and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now.
The Gotham Independent Film Awards will take place in New York on 2 December (13), when Forest Whitaker and Linklater are also due to receive career tributes.
The Big Apple prizegiving traditionally kicks off the film world's awards season with winners often going on to land Oscar nominations and wins.
Director Lee Daniels set his sights sky-high when casting new movie The Butler as he wanted U.S. President Barack Obama in a starring role. The historical drama tells the story of real life White House butler Eugene Allen, re-named Cecil Gaines in the movie, who served under eight consecutive U.S. Presidents including Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
The film boasts an impressive cast list including Forest Whitaker as Gaines, Alan Rickman as Reagan and John Cusack as Nixon, and Daniels reveals he wanted to cast Obama as himself.
He tells website Thegrio.com, "(I wanted) Obama.... (But) I was too afraid to ask him. (Even if I had) I think that he was in the middle of something called the election. It would have been weird if I had somebody playing Obama. I couldn't have anybody playing Obama but Obama."
The role of Obama eventually went to Orlando Eric Street.
Movies that take place in the White House are usually focused on the President of the United States, but Lee Daniels' drama The Butler serves up a new perspective on the old location. Starring Forest Whitaker, Jane Fonda, and Oprah Winfrey (among a long list of Hollywood power players that make up the rest of the cast), the movie tells the story of Eugene Allen, the longtime White House employee who served under eight American presidents.
Allen was the White House's head butler from 1952 to 1986, and had a unique front-row seat as political and racial history was made. The Butler also stars Alex Pettyfer, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Melissa Leo, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, Terrance Howard, Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Vanessa Redgrave.
Watch the just-released trailer below:
The Butler hits theaters October 18, 2013.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
More:Robin Williams to Play President Dwight Eisenhower in 'The Butler'Nancy Reagan Approves of Jane Fonda's Casting in 'The Butler'
From Our Partners:What Happened to 33 Child Stars (Celebuzz)40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)
We've got TERR-ENCE HOW-AAAARD! But when it comes her co-star in Lee Daniels' The Butler, Oprah Winfrey may end up raising her voice out of anger rather than excitement. That genteel gent Terrence Howard decided to OWN up to some, um, intimate details about shooting sex scenes with Oprah... or rather, with a particular part of Oprah's anatomy. Be forewarned: you will never be able to un-read anything your innocent eyeballs gaze upon after this interview with Movie Fanatic.
RELATED: Terrence Howard: ‘Iron Man Ruined My Career’
Howard says it was a revelation to "make out with Oprah, to have love scenes with her and those tig ol' bitties." Come again? "She's such a lovely, voluptuous woman," the Crash star added a smidgen more seriously a few seconds later. "She's very, very beautiful. That was wonderful. That was wonderful." Mind you, he said this during a junket interview for his new action thriller Dead Man Down, out March 8. So when the junkets for The Butler start (the film doesn't have an official release date but is expected out later this year), we can only assume he's really going to let loose. Check out the video because, really, just reading his comments in print don't do them full, lecherous justice:
In case you're wondering how exactly these love scenes came about, The Butler stars Forest Whitaker as a White House butler who served eight presidents over thirty years. Howard and Winfrey have supporting roles as other members of the White House staff. The film will also feature Robin Williams as Dwight D. Eisenhower, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, and John Cusack as Richard Nixon. And apparently, things get pretty hot and heavy between Howard and Winfrey at one point. Somehow we're guessing his particular choice of words here are not among Oprah's Favorite Things.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: FayesVision/WENN]
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.