The debates can finally end: Ansel Elgort has just landed the lead in the hotly-anticipated adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, directed by Josh Boone. He will star opposite YA queen and Divergent costar Shailene Woodley.
"Ansel is whip-smart and uber-charismatic and everything I dreamed for Augustus Waters," Green tells EW. "I am by nature a cautious pessimist, but I’ll just say it: Now that we have Shailene and Ansel, I am completely, unreservedly psyched about this movie."
Elgort's Augustus Waters is a videogame-loving ex-basketball player who lost his leg to osteosarcoma, and a complete dreamboat. Woodley plays Hazel, a teenage cancer patient who meets fellow sufferer Augustus in a cancer support group.
"Elgort is the epitome of the boy John Green brought to life so vividly in his novel and he truly embodies the character traits we admire so much about Gus," Boone says. "His humor, sensitivity, honesty and confidence floored us. Watching him with Shailene was like seeing the film for the first time. Hearing then say okay to each other was incredibly moving. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have found our Gus."
Playing Woodley's on-screen love interest will be quite the change from their current on-screen relationship: Elgort is currently playing Caleb Prior, Woodley's brother on Divergent (adapted from the Veronica Roth bestselling series).
"We were all swept away by the humor, charm, and aching vulnerability Ansel brought to his portrayal of Gus," The Fault In Our Stars producer Wyck Godfrey says. "His performance completely annihilated our concerns about his playing Caleb in Divergent with Shailene, and we are confident that the fans of Fault will fall in love with him the same way that Hazel does – slowly, and then all at once."
Divergent is currently in production, while The Fault In Our Stars begins production in August.
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Thanks to the recent speech at the Republican National Convention in which the former Dirty Harry berated a chair holding an invisible Barack Obama going into a movie starring Clint Eastwood as a technophobe who has trouble not walking into tables and chairs on a daily basis isn’t exactly a setup for success. But believe it or not it’s actually not that unfortunate context that’s the problem: from the clunky script and pacing to Clint’s ever-present grumble and the film’s predictable plot Trouble with the Curve is a slow pitch right down the middle.
And this is coming from someone who loves baseball movies so much she’s suffered through Kevin Costner’s For the Love of the Game – twice. But Trouble isn’t really a baseball movie. It’s a sappy father-daughter relationship tale with baseball as the hook and the caulk filling in the film's cracks.
Gus (Eastwood) is one of the oldest most respected scouts in the game but he’s getting old his eyes are going and some twerp with a laptop (Matthew Lillard) and his frat boy henchman are determined to shove Gus out of his position at the Atlanta Braves and replace him with a computer (muah-ha-ha). His daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) who he named after Mickey Mantle because that’s how much he loves baseball is trying to make partner at her law firm in a pool of misogynistic bigwigs when she’s called down to North Carolina to help her dad at the behest of his boss and best friend (John Goodman). While she should be working things out with her pops a young scout named Jimmy (Justin Timberlake) shows up flirts with Mickey and steals the storyline for the entire middle section of the film.
While Eastwood’s growling grumbling demeanor are perfect for the role of a stalwart old man who refuses to give up the game he once knew he’s saddled with stale jokes and quips – you may know them as “dad jokes” – that undermine his ability to be the wise man who knows better than these young whippersnappers. Adams does the best she can with a role that asks little more than for her to be smart sassy and outspoken but it simply feels like the role was over-cast. Timberlake’s character is plagued with Gus’ same brand of dad jokes but luckily for us the former boy bander is oozing with enough charm to make any joke no matter how terrible funny enough to make us fall in love with him – for an hour and half anyway.
Script issues aside where the film really starts to lose its way is in its portrayal of Lillard’s young ladder-climbing villain. At one point they even show him sitting in a dark room backlit by a lone desk lamp as he instructs his henchman to keep spying on Gus. All that’s missing is a maniacal laugh and a fluffy cat on his lap for him to stroke with his ruby-ring-decked hand.
It’s this hyperbolic villainy coupled with the treatment of Gus’ mortal enemy (technology) paired with two battling relationship stories (Timberlake and Adams vs. Eastwood and Adams) and the slow plodding pace that keep this film from being what it should be: a perfectly sweet predictable popcorn flick.
Trouble would be a perfectly adequate movie to casually watch on a Sunday afternoon with your dad but then again you could just get Field of Dreams on Blu-ray just as easily.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros]
Ridley Scott’s plodding pointless Robin Hood calls to mind a line from a stand-up routine (link NSFW) Patton Oswalt did a few years ago about George Lucas’ limp Star Wars prequels: “I don’t give a s**t where the stuff I love comes from. I just love the stuff I love.” Though there was never any discernible desire among filmgoers to know what the mythical medieval outlaw’s early days were like Scott nonetheless spent $230 million to tell us.
And so precious little of Robin Hood is devoted to all of the stuff we love about the title character — you know the stunning displays of archery skill the robbing from the rich and giving to the poor etc. Instead we're forced to watch as the future folk legend who begins the film as a lowly infantryman in King Richard’s crusading army engages in significantly less riveting endeavors like gambling with fellow soldiers in between sieges arguing against the killing of defenseless Muslims planting a wheat field just in time for the rainy season and debating the merits of the Magna Carta (which we learn through Scott’s usage of lame repressed-memory flashbacks that his father actually wrote).
Needless to say this isn’t Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood (which say what you will was at least entertaining) but a gritty period-authentic “real” take on the character absent all the usual Hollywood gloss and polish. Scott’s faux-revisionist approach calls for copious hand-held camera work a subdued color palette and various other cinematic devices (but no blood — this is PG-13 after all) meant to properly depict the nasty and brutish reality of existence in the early 13th century. Dirt and grime are omnipresent and all of the actors appear as if they haven’t bathed or shaved for days. Poor Cate Blanchett usually radiant even when dressed down looks positively ghastly as old Maid Marion.
For the lead role naturally Scott tabbed his trusty pal Russell Crowe the very embodiment of modern actorly grit who in Robin Hood perpetually bears the weathered sneer of a man awakened too early after a roaring bender. His principal adversary is not the Sheriff of Nottingham whose role is reduced to that of comic relief but Godfrey (Mark Strong) a scheming Rasputin-like advisor to the throne of England who secretly conspires to aid her greatest enemy France.
Unfortunately Robin and Godfrey share almost no screen time together draining much of the potential weight from their conflict. Their rivalry is mainly played out by proxy with a former royal functionary (William Hurt looking as lost and confused as we are) acting as a go-between while our Robin labors vainly to imbue a semblance of believability to his hasty courtship of recently-widowed Marion. His effort among other things involves an audacious narrative switcheroo reminiscent — I s**t you not — of this scene from the 2006 comedy Beerfest.
It goes without saying that drawing comparisons to a movie called Beerfest does not bode well for a serious-minded period epic. If there’s a silver lining to be drawn from Robin Hood it’s that the filmmakers mercifully chose not to release a 3D version of the film indicating that there was at least one kind soul at Universal Pictures who couldn’t bear the thought of some poor sap paying $19 to watch this medieval monstrosity.