The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
The Nobel-prize winning writer's tale of a 90 year old bachelor who enjoys a night of "wild love with an adolescent virgin" on his birthday was set to be transformed for the big screen in Mexico later this month (Oct09).
But campaigners from the Regional Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean have successfully managed to close down the shoot - after filing a criminal complaint at Mexico's Attorney General's office on Monday (05Oct09).
The Mexican state of Puebla's government has since confirmed it has pulled funding for the project, therefore shutting down filming in the area.
Campaigner Teresa Ulloa insists the book's topic would promote the child sex trade if it made it to cinemas: "As a book, it does not have access to the most vulnerable people in society. Once they make the movie, it will be in movie theatres and later it will surely be on television."
But the film's co-director and producer Ricardo del Rio insists a 21 year old actress had been cast in the film, and the storyline did not even touch upon the character's age.
He says, "They are censoring a film before it's been made, without knowing either the script or the vision of the director. Here they have simply killed our adaptation. They have dealt us a fatal blow because we can't film without all the resources."
The book was released in 2004, and was a hit with critics in Mexico.
Top authors and experts weighed in on the best books of the last quarter-century for international literary magazine Wasafiri.
Three writers picked Marquez's book, while Salman Rushdie and Michael Ondaatje appeared on the list twice for two different books.
The Dark Knight (Warner Bros), which has generated an estimated $315M since opening 10 days ago, has provided a huge boost to the film industry. 2007 was a record-breaker for the business with a total domestic take of $9.65 billion, almost 5 percent better than 2007. The current year is at $5.66 billion so far, which is less than 1 percent behind last year’s pace.
The final five months of 2008 look very strong, and I believe that Hollywood will set a new all-time box office record, proving once again that the movie business is recession proof. Gas prices have led to more “staycations,” and at a national average of just over $7 for a movie ticket, a trip to the local multiplex remains a very good value .
In 2007, the August-thru-December period included 4 films that went on to gross $200M+, 10 movies that ultimately surpassed $100M domestic and 13 titles that topped $75M in U.S. ticket sales.
December 14 - I Am Legend (Warner Bros) - $256.39M
August 3 – The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal) - $227.47M
December 21 – National Treasure: Book of Secrets (Disney) - $219.96M
December 14 – Alvin & The Chipmunks (Fox) - $217.32M
December 5 – Juno (Fox Searchlight) - $143.49M
August 10 – Rush Hour 3 (New Line) - $140.12M
November 2 – American Gangster (Universal) - $130.16M
November 21 – Enchanted (Disney) - $127.8M
November 2 – Bee Movie (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $126.63M
August 17 – Superbad (Sony) - $121.46M
December 25 – The Bucket List (Warner Bros) - $93.46M
September 28 – The Game Plan (Disney) - $90.63M
November 16 – Beowulf (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $82.19M
I am projecting that this year’s August-thru-December period will feature at least 2 films with $200M+, 11 movies surpassing $100M domestic and 2 more that seem certain to get past $75M. Plus, there are seven more “Wild Card” movies with real breakout potential.
November 7 – Madagascar 2 (Dreamworks/Paramount)
Everyone at Dreamworks Animation is very high on this one. The original 2005 movie finished with $193M US, and this one has a real shot at $200M domestic.
November 21 – Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince (Warner Bros)
There is a guaranteed $250M in a Harry Potter movie, The last November HP release was Goblet of Fire, which hit $290M. It is fair to expect something in that range.
August 1 – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal)
Should easily top $100M in its US theatrical engagements. Industry tracking looks exceedingly solid, and Brendan Fraser has the “family-friendly action star” thing down pat.
August 15 – Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount)
I long ago tapped this as the late summer’s biggest hit. Robert Downey Jr. will have his second consecutive $100M, and look out for Tom Cruise, who reportedly steals the movie.
August 15 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros)
My guess is that anything with Star Wars in the title and the George Lucas seal of approval is good for at least $100M.
October 24 – High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney)
No-brainer. The Disney Channel phenomenon comes to the big screen and $100M is a certainty. The on-again, off-again real-life romance of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens will make great copy, and director Kenny Ortega has this formula down.
November 7 – Quantum of Solace (Sony)
Bond is Bond, and Daniel Craig is the best version since Sean Connery. I do not love the title, but my gut says it will be the biggest Jame Bond movie ever.
December 12 – The Day the Earth Stood Still (Fox)
I saw the trailer on the big screen for the first time before The The Dark Knight, and the audience seemed to respond well. I have my reservations, namely Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, but there is always room for an aliens attack/end of the world movie with a lot of great F/X.
December 12 – Seven Pounds (Sony)
Will Smith has 8 consecutive $100M grossing hits, and I do not think that streak will be broken here. Director Gabriel Muccino and the rest of the creative team from The Pursuit of Happyness return with the world’s biggest star in tow, and it cannot miss.
December 19 - Yes Man (Warner Bros)
Jim Carrey is coming off of The Number 23, his weakest live action film since The Majestic, but he is returning to his fool-proof brand of comedy. Funny premise. Life-affirming, feel-good movie for the holidays. Feels like a very safe bet for $100M+.
December 25 – Bedtime Stories (Disney)
In the same slot as last year’s Night At the Museum, Ben Stiller returns in a family-friendly story about a handyman whose bedtime stories begin to become real.
August 6 – Pineapple Express (Sony)
Huge buzz. The formerly humorless James Franco reportedly steals the show with an outrageously funny performance. This picture has a shot at $75M-$100M.
October 3 - Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney)
Part of what should be a huge fourth quarter for Disney. Talking chihuahuas, Disney’s marketing machine and an all-star Latino voice cast should bring tweens and families--especially Latino families. Salma Hayek, Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez and George Lopez lend their voices along with Drew Barrymore. There is at least $75M in this family film.
September 26 – Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount)
Director DJ Caruso and Shia LaBeouf, who scored a surprise hit with Disturbia, re-team on a thriller coming to theatres in late September.
September 26 – Miracle at St. Anna (Disney)
Spike Lee’s WWII drama about four African-American soldiers sounds uplifting, but his venomous back-and-forth with Clint Eastwood has taken some of the shine off of this project. Lee’s last movie, Inside Man, was his most accessible film yet.
October 10 – Body of Lies (Warner Bros)
Oscar winner William Monaghan (The Departed) has adapted the excellent David Ignatius novel of the same name. With director Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in the leads this picture could break out the way R-rated titles like The Departed and American Gangster did the last two years in this release slot.
October 17 – W (Lionsgate)
It is certain to be much talked-about, especially a few weeks before the Presidential election. This is an A-list cast and Oliver Stone’s typically creative version of the truth, and it may score big.
November 26 – Bolt (Disney)
With at least 800 3D locations (probably more by late November) and Miley Cyrus providing one of the voices, this animated movie will be a big family event for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
December 12 – Twilight (Summit Entertainment)
I have not read the books that spawned this film (probably because I am not a teenage girl), but there is no question that there is a huge audience waiting with bated breath for the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s series of novels. Hard to say how big the film will fly, but it certainly has a shot at $75M.
December 19 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount)
Brad Pitt stars as a man who begins aging backwards. With a script by Oscar winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, The Insider) and directed by David Fincher (Zodiac, Se7en), there is a real Oscar pedigree here, and there could be significant commercial upside.
Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
Beowulf slew the competition this weekend. The animated telling of one of English literature’s oldest epic poems debuted in the top spot at the North American box office with $28.1 million, giving a huge boost to 3-D films in the process.
Beowulf’s director Robert Zemeckis once again used performance-capture technology to render lifelike images of its stars Ray Winstone and Angelina Jolie. According to The Associated Press, 40 percent of Beowulf’s gross came from special 3-D showings in regular theaters and on Imax screens.
The film did $8 million in ticket sales on 638 screens equipped with technology from RealD, which uses a special reflective screen and polarized lens glasses that moviegoers can take as a souvenir. Beowulf also sold $3.6 million worth of tickets on 84 Imax screens showing the film using their own 3-D technology.
"If this isn't a mandate on the popularity and viability of 3-D, I don't know what is," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers, told AP.
The fantasy tale Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, opened in fifth place with $10 million, while Love in the Time of Cholera, an adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel starring Javier Bardem, debuted in 10th place with $1.9 million.
The Top 12 movies took in a total of $94.6 million, down 29.15 percent from last year’s total of $133.6 million and down 3.19 percent from last weekend’s total of $97.7 million.
The Top Three films at the box office this time last year: Warner Bros.’ Happy Feet, which opened at No. 1 with $41.5 million in 3,804 theaters, averaging $10,918 per theater; Sony’s Casino Royale, which debuted in second place with $40.8 million in 3,434 theaters, averaging $11,891 per theater; and 20th Century Fox’s Borat, which dropped to third place in its third week with $14.6 million in 2,611 theaters, averaging $5,593 per theater (Click here to read last year's box office report).
BOX OFFICE TOP 10 ESTIMATES
(Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)
No. 1: Beowulf (Paramount, PG-13)
• Gross: $28.1 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 3,153
• Per-theater average: $8,912
No. 2: Bee Movie (Paramount, PG)
• Gross: $14.3 million (-44%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 3,984 (+40)
• Per-theater average: $3,589
• Cume to date: $25.5million
No. 3: American Gangster (Universal, R)
• Gross: $13.2 million (-45%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 3,110 (+51)
• Per-theater average: $4,250
• Cume to date: $100.9 million
No. 4: Fred Claus (Warner Bros., PG)
• Gross: $12 million (-35%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 3,603 (unchanged)
• Per-theater average: $3,331
• Cume to date: $35.7 million
No. 5: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (20th Century Fox., G)
• Gross: $10 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 3,164
• Per-theater average: $3,168
No. 6: Dan in Real Life (Buena Vista, PG-13)
• Gross: $4.5 million (-25%)
• Weeks opened: 4
• Theaters: 1,901 (-40)
• Per-theater average: $2,373
• Cume to date: $37 million
No. 7: No Country for Old Men (Miramax, R)
• Gross: $3 million (+153%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 148 (+120)
• Per-theater average: $20,932
• Cume to date: $4.9 million
No. 8: Lions for Lambs (MGM/UA, R)
• Gross: $2.9 million (-57%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 2,216 (+1)
• Per-theater average: $1,310
• Cume to date: $11.5 million
No. 9: Saw IV (Lionsgate, R)
• Gross: $2.3 million (-53%)
• Weeks opened: 4
• Theaters: 2,097 (-807)
• Per-theater average: $1,111
• Cume to date: $61.8million
No. 10: Love in the Time of Cholera (New Line, R)
• Gross: $1.8 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 852
• Per-theater average: $2,201
Southland Tales (Samuel Goldwyn, R)
• Gross: $116,550
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 63
• Per-theater average: $1,850
Margot at the Wedding (Paramount Vantage, R)
• Gross: $82,929
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 2
• Per-theater average: $41,465
Smiley Face (First Look, R)
• Gross: $6,502
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 1
• Per-theater average: $6,502
You would think a man who’s deluded himself into thinking he’s observed a 51-year vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love could wait a few more days before asking the object of his affection to marry him. Not Florentino Ariza (Javier Bardem). As soon as he learns of the death of Juvenal Urbino (Benjamin Bratt) Florentino runs as fast as he can to propose to the deceased doctor’s grieving widow Fermina Daza (Giovanna Mezzogiorno). Needless to say Fermina’s not impressed with her old flame’s timing. No wonder she tells him to take a hike. And so we all introduced to the three sides of a love triangle that dates back to 1880s Colombia. Like Márquez’s book director Mike Newell’s sumptuously mounted but poorly executed Love in the Time of Cholera unfolds through flashbacks to explain how Juvenal came between soul mates Florentino and Fermina. Both are young and immature when they first meet and fall in love but their plans to marry are thwarted by Fermina’s controlling father Lorenzo (John Leguizamo). He does not approve of Fermina getting hitched to a man with little money and ambition so he pushes her into the bed of the rich but compassionate Juvenal. Florentino vows to be true to Fermina to the day they can be together again. But he discovers that the only way to ease his suffering is to make a fortune in business and seduce every women he meets. Then 51 years 9 months and 4 days later Florentino learns that Juvenal is dead... The literary version of Florentino Ariza is often described as a self-made man with the heart of a poet. The same holds true for the film but Bardem also plays Florentino as though he possesses the mind of Rain Man and the characteristics of a celebrity stalker. He goes from being downright childlike as he counts the number of his sexual conquests to pretty creepy in the blink of an eye. You half expect Florentino to pick up Bardem's air gun from No Country for Old and start killing those who stand between him and Fermina. There’s also no charm to Florentino so you’re left scoffing at the notion that 622 women would sleep with him by the time Fermina is widowed. Bardem also never clearly articulates the contradictions of this man who employs sex to cure him of the pain his vow of love for Fermina has brought him. Mezzogiorno is no better as Florentino. Her Fermina is spineless aloof and unlikeable. No man in his right mind would waste his life waiting to be with this cold fish. Catalina Sandino Moreno—wasted as Fermina’s devoted gal pal—would have made a more captivating and sensual Fermina. Bratt barely maintains a straight face whenever he’s required to rattle off some truly horrendous dialogue. The worst—but most entertaining—performance comes from the Razzie-worthy Leguizamo. Everything about Leguizamo—from his maniacal look to his mangling of the English language—suggests that he thinks that he’s in Mel Brooks’ History of Love in the Time of Cholera. If only we were that lucky. Given Márquez’s unique voice and florid proses adapting Love in the Time of Cholera was always going to be a challenge for Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell and The Pianist screenwriter Ronald Harwood. Much was bound to be omitted or consolidated but what’s on screen fatally lacks passion and intrigue. This is not a testament to the power of love but an absurd examination of lust and obsession. It doesn’t help that our star-crossed lovers are obnoxious and unsympathetic. If you’re not emotionally invested in them why would you care whether they eventually end up together? Honestly it’s Juvenal who deserves better. Newell rushes through each scene with little regard for the source material but his biggest crime is to turn a blind eye to his cast's’s embarrassing performances. While the film offers a few amusing moments—all involving Bardem and a naked woman—they do not provoke the same roaring laughter as its plethora of unintentionally funny scenes. Nothing is more hilarious than watching Mezzogiorno as the elderly Fermina disrobe caked in makeup and strapped into a fat suit. This spectacle spoils what it supposed to be the film’s most intimate encounter between Florentino and Fermina. At the very least the complete ineptitude of those involved in this $50 million debacle makes for great viewing. But for this reason alone Márquez should make sure that the first Hollywood-produced film based on one of his books also is the last.
Y Tu Mama Tambien costars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna staged a gala dinner in Mexico City on Saturday night in an effort to raise funds and awareness about poverty and injustice in the country.
The two actors and friends teamed up with rocker Peter Gabriel's Witness human rights organization and Mexico's Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights to stage the $300-a-head event.
At a press conference before the gala, Bernal congratulated filmmakers for bringing light to terrible acts: "Documentaries show us the injustices in the country where we live, that this problem exists. We can't escape it."
Luna and Bernal have launched a new production company, Canana, and plan to make a series of documentaries aimed at raising awareness about failures of the Mexican judicial system.
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It's official -- the famed festivities here have begun, even if the obligatory red carpet wasn't ready until the late afternoon. But a lack of carpet didn't stop the sun and stars from converging in the daylight this morning when Uma Thurman and Gerard Depardieu arrived with their posses for a screening of "Vatel," which opened the 53rd Cannes Film Festival.
The wind ravaged the Mediterranean waters (magically sparing Uma's golden locks) as cameras flashed and fans clapped. In this day of cutting-edge digital media, it's still fun to revel in the old-fashioned glamour of the young and beautiful (not to mention statuesque and blonde) Uma co-starring with the rugged, debonaire (you gotta throw in some French when you're on the Riviera) andmuch, much older Gerard.
The excitement here never dies. The next big stir was the dramatic arrival of the jury members who will bestow Cannes' career-making Palme d'Or (the Golden Palm Award.) This year's jury president is filmmaker Luc Besson ("The Fifth Element"). Among his 10 cohorts are Kristin Scott Thomas and Jeremy Irons.
The other must-watch Cannes category (with 22 films mostly by first-time directors) is Un Certain Regard. It opens today with the touching and femme-filled "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her." Rodrigo Garcia, son of Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, directs the likes of Cameron Diaz, Glenn Close and Calista Flockhart in this series of slightly interwoven vignettes. Other films to look forward to are "Famous," directed by and starring Griffin Dunne (multitasking is so chic), as well as "I Dreamed of Africa" starring Kim Basinger and Vincent Perez.
Uma, meanwhile, is ringing in the millennium in style, since she has not one, but two films here. The second is the lusty Merchant Ivory film "The Golden Bowl," which is a competition entry. Co-star Nick Nolte is flying in for that premiere later.
Just one question: Where's Ethan?