As Comic-Con begins to unleash a plethora of new media assets, we at Hollywood.com will do our best to keep you up to speed on everything that is happening at the San Diego Convention Center. Today, we've got some concept art that is being billed as "Comic Con Exclusive Posters" of both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger as well as new images from Thor, which will hit theaters on May 6th 2011.
Though most of the recently-released images from Kenneth Branagh's anticipated comic book adaptation have been met with scathing criticism, I haven't found them all that bad. After all, Thor isn't supposed to look or feel like Spider-Man or X-Men; he is The God of Thunder, not a costumed vigilante. The film will undoubtedly have more elements of fantasy than sci-fi action like most Marvel movies have had until now. I believe that the production and costume design is similar to the depiction of the Gods in WB's Clash of the Titans remake and that could be a good or bad thing, but I'm not writing it off just yet - especially since we haven't seen any of these characters in motion yet. Wait until some footage is released before passing judgment, and have a look at the images for yourself below:
In this new photo, Warrior of Asgard Thor (Chris Hemsworth) wields the mighty Mjolnir in an Earthbound setting as his ridiculously pumped muscles chew up the scenery.
This photo shows Odin (Anthony Hopkins) counseling his Thunder God son back in Asgard.
Concept art of Thor battling his brother and arch-enemy Loki (to be played by Tom Hiddleston)
Concept art of Captain America (to be played by Chris Evans) and his Marine buddies storming a Nazi stronghold Source: Paramount Pictures
"Hannibal" can be taken off the endangered film project list, at least for the time being.
Universal has confirmed its intentions to stick by the "Silence of the Lambs" sequel, laying to rest reports on Entertainment Weekly Online last week that the studio was considering canning the project after Jodie Foster bailed out to instead direct Claire Danes in "Flora Plum."
"As far as we know, [this project] is alive," a Universal spokeswoman says. "[Star Anthony] Hopkins and [director Ridley] Scott are both very committed. We like what we've got, and the revised script is really, really good."
What's more, the project apparently will forge ahead with or without Foster.
"We've decided that we're not going to reapproach Jodie as the media has been reporting. We are trying to come up with the right lead to replace Jodie and are putting together a list [of candidates]," the same studio rep says.
The exact names on the titular list are under wraps, but Variety reported Monday that the studio has narrowed the leading lady race to Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth") and another unidentified actress. Right now, the smart money's on Blanchett.
But the studio may be well served to see what the paying public has to say. Close observers -- in the form of die-hard "Hannibal" fans -- have taken to a net-based poll on Silence of the Lambs -- The Sequel Site (http://hannibal.simplenet.com/lecter/) to give their two cents on who they think should play Clarice Starling (or a character facsimile). And there, Blanchett doesn't figure in the mix at all.
The modest poll (with less than 200 votes cast through Monday) shows "X-Filer" Gillian Anderson far ahead of the pack, with a comfortable 52% lead over fellow Clarice hopefuls Ashley Judd (10%), Helen Hunt (10%) and Holly Hunter (13%).
Though Anderson may be the enthusiastic pick of cyber fans, the fact remains that a Foster-less "Lambs" may be a tough sell at the box office. One rival studio exec told EW Online that "Jodie is synonymous with the part" -- speaking to the belief that Foster is simply indispensable to any "Lambs" franchise. (The actress, after all, won five major film awards -- including the Oscar -- for her turn as Clarice in the 1991 film.)
Hollywood has gambled before -- and lost -- when trying to make sequels minus key players from the original hits. Remember "Speed," the 1994 Keanu Reeves action blockbuster with Sandra Bullock? Probably. Then how about "Speed 2: Cruise Control," the 1997 sequel with Sandra Bullock and ... Jason Patric? Probably not. The Keanu-less flick grossed 60% less than the original. And let's not even get started on "The Sting 2," with Mac Davis (huh?) and Jackie Gleason (what?) trying to make audiences forget about, um, Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
With "Hannibal," Universal apparently is hoping that the franchise's other name-brand star, Anthony Hopkins, coupled with a worthy lead actress replacement, will eclipse the loss of Foster.
Foster, however, is not the first major player to drop out of the sequel. "Lambs" Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Ted Tally both rejected the follow-up project. Even Hopkins expressed doubts about returning as baddie Hannibal Lecter after reading the first draft of the script.
The ultimate question remains whether audiences will cough up cash to go see a "Lambs" sequel without the Foster-Hopkins pairing?
"I think Hopkins' involvement raises the quality of the film considerably," says Stuart Galbraith IV, a Hollywood-based film historian and author. "And if Cate Blanchett does replace Foster, it's not going to ruin the film. [Blanchett] is a very respected actress, and she's obviously been in the industry as long as Foster has. And in terms of pedigree, [Blanchett] would probably bring as much to the film as Foster did."
Another Hollywood analyst agrees a Foster-free "Hannibal" is not necessarily a wash.
"At least one of the leads needs to be there to ensure the success of the sequel. And moviegoers are thrilled that Hopkins is reprising his role," says Paul Dergarabedian of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. "Hopkins's return should be enough to get the audience back in the theater."
But Dergarabedian warns that audiences might not stomach as easily the project if the Foster replacement plays Clarice, as opposed to a different creation.
"If [Universal] creates a new character, the sequel would work," Dergarabedian says. "But it's harder to say [that] if they try to recast the part with a different actress."
No worries there. Works apparently are under way over at Universal to have the script reworked to account for the introduction of a new character (and to delete Clarice), Variety says. Steven Zaillian ("Schindler's List"), who rewrote the first draft of "Hannibal," is said to be on the case again.
Keep your fingers crossed, "Hannibal" fans. Despite a seemingly endless string of stop-starts, the film is scheduled to go in front of the camera this spring. We think.
Go to our Box Office section for recent weekend movie analysis.
In yet ANOTHER summer romp from the Judd Apatow factory line Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a beefy rotund guy who delivers subpoenas for a living. He also dates a young jail-bait cutie Angie (Amber Heard) when he’s not visiting his sweet stoner of a pot dealer Saul Silver (James Franco) to score the latest and greatest weed. In this case that’s the title star Pineapple Express a marijuana combination so lethal and unique Dale is almost (we said ALMOST) reluctant to destroy it by inhaling. But when he sets out to deliver a subpoena to drug kingpin Ted Jones (Gary Cole) he is spotted by the man as he commits a bloody murder. Freaking out Dale ditches the scene so fast he dumps some of the precious weed leaving it behind like a trail of breadcrumbs dropped by Hansel leading a trail to Saul. Reefer madness ensues as a full-blown freak out is set in motion and Dale and Saul hit the pedal to the metal in order to evade Ted and his loony goons (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson). This leads to so many crazy-weird encounters and near-death experiences it makes a Road Runner cartoon look like the work of Ingmar Bergman by comparison. Smashed heads sliced and diced ears banged up bodies galore--you want it Pineapple Express has got it. As the film’s ad line implores ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it!’ Rogen and Franco are the yin and yang of comedy here with wildly divergent styles that complement each other perfectly. Rogen plays Dale with such over-the-top hysteria and a high pitched sense of desperation he’s fun to watch--until you just want him to calm down and take a breath. Franco steals the film lock stock and barrel with his stoned-out weed maestro who clearly has ingested so much of the stuff himself that he qualifies for a place in the slacker hall of fame. With his parade of non-sequiturs and nonsensical ramblings Franco turns gentle Saul into one of the year’s most endearing and hilarious creations. Although the movie belongs to these two special mention should also go to Danny McBride who takes it on the chin (and everywhere else) as Red Saul’s unfaithful drug buddy and supplier. Cole is all evil menace while Rosie Perez shows up as his cop-tease accomplice. David Gordon Green a director previously known only for small downer indie films like All The Real Girls and Snow Angels seems to be getting off on all the toys producer Apatow has given him to play with. Adeptly handling the car crashes extreme violence and general anarchy on screen Green keeps the action moving and the laughs coming. The film is handsomely shot and production values are strong even though what’s on screen basically comes down to a how-can-you-top-this destruction derby. Working off a script from Superbad writers Rogen and his partner Evan Goldberg Green manages to evoke the spirit of a mismatched buddy movie along the lines of a Midnight Run but ratchets up speed tempo and noise levels to the needs of the average attention span for this type of flick. Take that Harold and Kumar! Although not as supergood as Superbad it’s all a lot of fun if you like your frivolity generously mixed with carnage. Huey Lewis also contributes a catchy title song that perfectly captures the whacked-out stoner spirit of the whole enterprise.
Appropriately enough this movie gets its title from the stinking saltwater lake in California's Imperial Valley that used to be a popular recreation spot before irrigation runoff poisoned the waters the fish and the community surrounding it. It's this run-down white-trash desert "destination" that serves as the backdrop for this arty noirish unpleasant film that more than borrows from Memento and Pulp Fiction. Val Kilmer is Danny Parker once a successful jazz trumpeter who wore cool suits and loved his beautiful wife very much. Tragedy strikes when he sees her gunned down in a drug deal and he vows revenge. To that end he adopts a new identity and goes deep--too deep--undercover as an informer for a couple of narcs (Anthony LaPaglia and Doug Hutchison). Danny (now Tom) infiltrates a gang of methamphetamine addicts led by a particularly nasty human specimen known as Pooh-Bear (Vincent D'Onofrio) who has snorted so much crystal he has to wear a plastic nose and reenacts the Kennedy assassination with pigeons just for kicks. In due time Danny completely loses his identity and morphs into Tom becoming into a junkie himself living in a vermin-ridden fleabag apartment and hanging with a bunch of "tweaker" losers like Jimmy "The Fin" (Peter Sarsgaard) while never losing sight of the score he wants to settle.
Val Kilmer's slippery detached demeanor is just what's required as his character fatalistically recounts his sad story via voiceover allowing the viewer to tag along with him as he explores what makes Danny/Tom tick. Kilmer seems to do best with character studies rather than action roles (i.e. his Jim Morrison in The Doors versus his parts in big-budget flops like The Saint and Red Planet). Vincent D'Onofrio almost seems like he's trying to re-create elements of his horribly depraved character in The Cell here. But in that movie it worked; in this one it doesn't. He's too out there for a small-time drug dealer and you're left going "Oh come on already." Oddly frighteningly this is Val Kilmer's movie.
This movie tries so hard to capitalize on the sleeper success of Memento but Tony Gayton's (Murder by Numbers) script completely lacks that film's tight originality and creative execution. Director D.J. Caruso tells the story in flashbacks and time shifts that keep you paying attention but which sometimes just confuse. Plus there's too much emphasis on the secondary characters and their theatrics--it's just self-indulgent filmmaking. Caruso's strong suit is that in his belaboring of many points he manages to create an authentically seedy gritty and evocative atmosphere especially making good use of the Salton Sea as a backdrop--both literally and figuratively--in his imagery.
Well, well, little Miss Quirky and Dark Christina Ricci is joining the ever-growing ranks of actors-turned-directors. Is it written somewhere that an actor has to direct to feel truly complete? Sure, there are a few who are actually pretty good at it. But a young 'un like Ricci? We'll wait to pass judgment. At least the project she's picked is right up her alley--the indie feature Speed Queen. It's a simple and happy film about a fast-food clerk (played by Ricci, of course) who goes on a wild--and deadly--road trip with a man and woman and then tells her story to a best-selling author while on death row. The style sounds eerily familiar to another dark comedy Ricci starred in called The Opposite of Sex, where the entire story is told through narration by the main character. Yet, Ricci is playing it smart--she's chosen something that doesn't seem too hard to direct and she's sticking to what she does best--playing the bad girl you almost root for.
Jackson and Lopez go Tick-Tock
...Just like two little mice, running up and down a clock. Hey, I like that! Wait until you hear the premise and tell me if you don't think that should be the tagline to the film. Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Lopez are starring in a new Columbia Pictures film called Tick-Tock about an amnesiac who wakes up in the custody of the FBI and finds out he is the prime suspect in a series of bombings in Los Angeles. So, like, the mice running around, trying to find ticking bombs--get it? Damn it, I should be a development executive.
The Red Dragon grows
Any film that has Edward Norton in it piques my interest. He's just one of those actors that picks the most compelling projects. For example, I didn't want to see Fight Club when it first came out, but when I did finally see it, I was floored. Same with American History X. So, I trust his judgment. Now, he and another very fine actress, Emily Watson, are in negotiations to join Anthony Hopkins in Red Dragon, Universal Pictures' prequel to the Hannibal Lecter series. I was a little skeptical when I first heard about this because I'm a fan of Michael Mann's Manhunter, based on the same best-selling Lecter novel by Thomas Harris. But now that Norton is on board, it's sounding better.
The story follows special FBI agent Will Graham (Norton), who is brought out of retirement to track down a serial killer named Red Dragon. In order to catch the killer, Graham, who was once almost one of Lecter's (Hopkins) victims, has to ask Lecter, who is now behind bars, for help. Watson will play Reba, a blind woman the wacko Red Dragon works with. If they can get a great person to play the killer, we are in business. Maybe Tom Hanks would want to try something completely different. Damn it, I should be a casting director.
Another TV movie makes it to the big screen
No, they aren't making A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story into a feature film (although I wouldn't put it past them). But once again Hollywood executives are taking what I think is material for a television movie and putting it on the big screen. It happens often, and really, it's a crying shame. In this case, the movie being made is the family drama--that should tip you off right there--Laurel Canyon with Christian Bale and Frances McDormand. In it, Bale plays a straitlaced young man who returns to his supposedly now-vacant childhood home with his fiancée after completing medical school to find his pot-smoking, record-producing mom (McDormand) still living there. He feels utter contempt for his mother's lifestyle, but when his fiancée gets lured into the dark ways of the rock 'n' roll world, mother and son must reconcile to get her back. Wow. The thing is, they disguise these dreadful sounding movies by casting top level talent to star in them. And that's supposed to make it better. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.
Spielberg's big Catch
After a whirlwind change of hands, it looks like director Steven Spielberg is going to direct Catch Me If You Can for DreamWorks, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star. I like the sound of this one. The film takes its material from the real-life story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the youngest man to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Apparently, he successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, an assistant attorney general and a history professor from 1964-66. He also cashed more than $4 million in fraudulent checks in 26 foreign countries. After he was caught, he became a consultant to the bureau. The film itself has been in development for several years with many A-list directors interested, including Cameron Crowe, Milos Forman, Gore Verbinski and Lasse Hallstrom. DiCaprio has been attached all along but has had to push back the start date until he finished shooting Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. James Gandolfini was going to star opposite but had to bow out as well. Well, OK, Stevie, it's up to you now--get that thing made!