For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
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20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
It's been a big year for film releases, and we mean that in every sense of the word. Everything about 2013 was big, whether it was Alfonso Cuarón documenting the vast expanse of space, or Guillermo del Toro showcasing the massive monster battles, most blockbusters in 2013 went for a "bigger is better" approach, and succeeded for the most part. This idea of going big or going home is probably why The Wolverine got lost in the shuffle this year, but it is also why the film stands out against the other spectacle-laden films that came out this year.
In a year when everyone else went big, Wolverine went small. Instead of telling an expansive story that changes the overarching X-Men mythos, this film decided to tell a more personal story that attempted to examine the man behind the claws and the rapid healing factor. Releasing on Redbox Instant by Verizon on Dec. 31, we're inclined to suggest that everyone revisit the overlooked 20th Century Fox film. In The Wolverine, we meet up with Logan hiding up in the cliffs of Canada until a mysterious Japanese woman comes looking for him. What follows is a somber adventure through the streets of Japan that sees Logan getting wrapped up in the conflicts of a wealthy Japanese family, and eventually coming to terms with some past demons.
The thing that makes The Wolverine stand out amidst the other super hero films this year is that there are not world-ending plagues, or monsters waiting to tear up a city. The film's conflict revolves around one family, and a few outside characters, and it's a nice change of pace from every other comic book film that seems to build up into some city destroying or world ending calamity. While you may have been to busy with Man of Steel or re-watching The Avengers for the umpteenth time, you may have missed a forgotten gem of the year. It might be scuffed around the edges, but it's still worth a look.
The Wolverine leads a pack of other 2013 films releasing through Redbox Instant by Verizon's kiosk and screening platforms at the onset of 2014. Check out the list of new titles below:
At the kiosk, via Redbox Instant by Verizon...The Wolverine (available 12/31)Despicable Me 2 (available 1/7)Fast & Furious 6 (available 1/7)Prisoners (available 1/14)Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (available 1/14)Lee Daniels’ The Butler (available 1/14)The Family (available 1/14)Captain Phillips (available 1/21)Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (available 1/28)Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (available 1/28)Rush (available 1/28)
And coming in January via Redbox Instant...The Guilt TripTexas ChainsawJack ReacherHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersThe Last StandRed Dawn (1984) & Red Dawn (2012)Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Bollywood superstar Imran Khan has been honoured by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for helping a troubled dog. The actor has received a Hero to Animals Award, which honours those who help abused creatures, for intervening when he allegedly saw a trainer hitting a dog on the set of his latest movie, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein.
PETA's India manager of Media and Celebrity Projects Sachin Bangera says, "This dog would have been terrified and endured more abuse were it not for Imran's compassionate and quick action. We encourage everyone to stop and speak up for animals who are subjected to pain or suffering, because if you don't, maybe no one else will."
Bosses at the organisation reportedly sent Khan a basket of dog-shaped vegan chocolates as a mark of gratitude for helping the animal.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Chris Pratt is on a roll (and not into another pit a la his character Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation). According to The Wrap, Universal is eyeing Pratt for the leading male role in Jurassic World.
Assuming the actor does end up taking the role (and is able to figure out a filming schedule that would work with Parks and Recreation), he'll appear on screen alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, and possibly the Life of Pi star Irrfan Khan who is also being sought after for the film. Josh Brolin had originally been in talks for the lead role, but a deal was never made.
If Pratt signs on for the Jurassic Park sequel, then the up-and-coming big-name star could add yet another film to his growing list. Pratt, who has already proved his worth on the NBC comedy alongside Amy Poehler, has been quickly building up his "serious" acting credentials in films like Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. Additionally, he is set to star as Peter Quill in Marvel's 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy, voice the lead role in The LEGO Movie, and appear in The Delivery Man and Spike Jonze's Her. From the looks of it, Pratt doesn't plan on being pinned as the loveably dopey Andy forever. (But we still want a Parks and Recreation and Jurassic Park mash-up, because that just seems like it would be magical.)
Jurassic World, which will be directed by Colin Trevorrow from the script he co-wrote with Derek Connolly, will hit theaters June 12, 2015.
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It was ladies night at the Soul Train Awards in Las Vegas on Friday (08Nov13) as Tamar Braxton and Janelle Monae took home top prizes. Braxton was named Best R&B/Soul Female Artist and she also picked up Song of the Year for Love & War and the Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award. The singer also performed a three-song set during the ceremony.
Monae, who was recovering from a throat infection that prompted her to delay the start of her new tour, claimed the prestigious Video of the Year Award for her Erykah Badu collaboration Q.U.E.E.N.
Other winners included K. Michelle, who was named Best New Artist; Ashanti (Best Independent R&B/Soul Performance for Never Should Have); Kendrick Lamar (Album of the Year for good kid, m.A.A.d city); Miguel (Best R&B/Soul Male Artist), and Robin Thicke, who landed Song of the Year for his summer anthem Blurred Lines.
Meanwhile, Keith Sweat was honoured with the Soul Train Lifetime Achievement Award, and scored the event's highlight by performing with Faith Evans, and R&B legend Dionne Warwick was gifted the Legend Award following tribute performances from Ron Isley, Ruben Studdard, Chrisette Michelle and Gladys Knight.
The superstar quartet each sang a snippet from one of Warwick's hits and then came together to sing her 1985 tune That’s What Friends Are For.
Another performance highlight came at the top of the show when Jennifer Hudson teamed up with Evelyn 'Champagne' King, Chaka Khan and rapper T.I. for a hits medley, while Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick performed The Show with Doug E. Fresh.
The awards ceremony, hosted by Anthony Anderson, was held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
British boxer Amir Khan has escaped serious injury following a car crash in America. The fighter was forced to cancel a training session on Wednesday (06Nov13) after the collision with an alleged drunk driver.
Posting the news of his road drama on Instagram.com, Khan wrote, "Hit by a drunk driver on the way to the gym. Police are here and arrested the man. Back neck hurts. He hit us while we was (sic) parked full speed. No sparring or gym today."
Khan is currently in training in the hopes of landing a fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Russell Brand has sparked fresh speculation he is in a new relationship following his split from Jemima Khan. The funnyman/actor was attending an intimate event hosted by news website The Huffington Post in London on Monday (04Nov13) when he confirmed he has a new romance.
Brand, who split from socialite Khan in September (13), told a packed crowd on the evening, "I'm in a relationship at the moment."
The Get Him to the Greek star did not reveal his new love's identity.
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has been forced to apologise to his neighbours after a horde of devotees gathered outside his house to wish the actor a happy birthday. Khan, who turned 48 on Saturday (02Nov13), was stunned to find a crowd of fans waiting on his doorstep in Mumbai, India to celebrate the star's birthday.
However, the enthusiastic audience reportedly disturbed his neighbours and Khan took to Twitter.com to apologise on their behalf, writing, "Thank you everyone. All who came outside the house with crackers and posters. Love to you all and apologies to the neighbours. Your love makes me happy."