I can almost guarantee that Toy Story is a near-exact illustration of what Shawn Levy's childhood was like: his best friends were his playthings that he always sort of knew, in the back of his head, were alive. And that's what drives him to make so many movies about non-living things becoming living things. As if both Night at the Museum movies and Reel Steel weren't enough, he's now taking a stab at the original toy-come-to-life story: Pinocchio. Only, he's not really focusing on the whole Pinocchio aspect (naturally); instead, he's working on a prequel about the love life of Pinocchio's father, Gepetto. The script is titled The Three Misfortunes of Gepetto, and it is written by Michael Vukadinovich.
The newest entity in the cyclone of re-imagination that has hit Hollywood will follow the lonely puppeteer through an adventure to win the heart of a girl named Julia Moon. This name alone is a departure from the more European-sounding names of the original Disney film's characters (Pinocchio, Gepetto, Figaro, Cleo, Monstro...let's call Jiminy Cricket a tourist). A minor detail, perhaps, but should this indicate other, wider liberties taken with the story and character we know and love?
But back to the matter at hand: Levy has a truly strange fixation on this whole "things coming to life" theme that doesn't stop at the works listed. He's also attached to a Frankenstein project written by Max Landis. Hopefully this will satisfy his craving for now...if Levy gets involved with any of those rumored projects like Toy Story 4, Short Circuit reboot or Indian in the Cupboard IMAX Experience (okay, that last one I just made up), someone might have to call a good therapist. Source: Deadline
I would trust Shawn Levy with my life.
Perhaps not all of the director's big screen pursuits have been triumphs, but he has solidified his genius in my mind forever with the simple fact that he directed six episodes of the greatest live-action television series ever made: The Secret World of Alex Mack. A man so inspired as to deliver us a collective three hours of the most worthwhile character in modern fiction would naturally be a good choice to direct a film about another pretty decent literary figure: Frankenstein's monster.
Fox's Frankenstein film, written by Max Landis, is seeking a director. That director, reportedly, might very well be Levy. If there's one thing the man clearly understands, it is being an outsider. Someone who must hide his true identity, for fear of persecution. Someone struggling to understand his own purpose. Someone with a story to tell, but no one to whom to tell it.
If anyone in this movie turns into a puddle, my neurons will combust.
Disney's new movie Mars Needs Moms suffers from a classic mistake: focusing too much on one aspect of a production -- and in this case it's the visuals. The result is an unbalanced mess that looks terrific but doesn't have enough substance to leave the audience with anything more to "ooh" and "ah" at other than all the pretty colors. As we all know from that one really really hot girl/guy in high school who's now overweight and working a dead-end job looks can only go so far.
Adapted from the children's novel by Berkeley Breathed and directed by Simon Wells Mars Needs Moms follows Milo (acted by Seth Green voiced by Seth Robert Dusky) as he chases after his mother who's been stolen by Martians just a few hours after he told her he'd be better off without her. Once he arrives on Mars (by sneaking on the ship) he meets Gribble (Dan Fogler) who informs him of his problem: the Martians are ruled by a ruthless queen-like Supervisor (Mindy Sterling) who's decided that the hatchlings (babies who sprout from the ground like vegetables) must be divided: all males are thrown away into the dump and the females are raised by "nanny-bots" -- robots programmed by the "discipline" energy of good moms like Milo's from Earth. Milo and Gribble buddy-up and with the help of a rebel Martian named Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) the three of them venture to save Milo's mom before it's too late.
And venture on they do. Coming from producer Robert Zemeckis and utilizing the same motion-capture technology as The Polar Express A Christmas Carol and Beowulf Mars Needs Moms rushes forward embracing its visually stunning universe without taking a moment to stop and breathe. The characters never have a chance to do anything significant that would make the audience think they're substantial or important -- especially Gribble whom the filmmakers really really want us to care for. On top of that it relies on a plot line that we've all seen before and instead of diving into the parts that made it interesting (like the question of why men were thrown in the garbage and not women) it skims safely along the surface doing its best to avoid anything deeper than basic themes.
But that may be a little too picky. After all the movie is just supposed to be a fun little child's tale right? In that vein it succeeds. We feel like we're on an amusement park ride thanks to Ki's vibrant '60s flower-power paintings and the adventures on the Red Planet's surface. Even the moments that aren't super fast-paced present environments that are beautiful. Plus Fogler's performance as Gribble (as Jack Black-esque as it was) gives us some fun enjoyable moments and one-liners that kids will no doubt love.
Yet at the same time Mars Needs Moms' visuals aren't all glorious. In fact some hurt the plot because frankly the humans aren't animated very well. There's no life in their eyes. Simple movements like walking look awkward and too often characters facial expressions don't match the urgency found in their voices. Instead the animation just turns all the characters into weird cartoony versions of themselves that look so "almost human" they appear fake. And as always it's difficult to care for fake people.
Children will definitely enjoy Mars Needs Moms but from a filmmaking standpoint Wells really missed an opportunity to deliver something other than neat visuals and one-liners.
I Am Number Four a sci-fi action drama from D.J. Caruso (Disturbia Eagle Eye) about a teenage alien’s earthly travails has the look and feel of a CW series – i.e. lots of attractive young people some of whom possess supernatural abilities and superhuman amounts of angst and alienation. This is not a coincidence: Two of its screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar happen to be the creators and executive producers of Smallville a series chronicling Superman’s youthful pre-Metropolis years that’s now in its tenth and final season on the CW. (The script is adapted from a novel by Pittacus Lore.)
Unlike Smallville’s solitary Kryptonian I Am Number Four’s hero is not alone. Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) is one of nine gifted residents (each branded with a number for reasons not sufficiently explained in the film) from the planet Lorien who fled to Earth after their civilization was annihilated by the Mogadorians a race of mumbly trenchcoat-clad goons with tattooed scalps hell-bent on ridding the universe of its water polo players. (Indeed Pettyfer’s hair in the film perpetually bears that fresh-out-of-the-water look common also to surfers and lifeguards.) Together with his anointed guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant) he travels from small town to small town adopting assumed names and trying to keep a low profile so as to avoid detection by the Mogadorians who have followed the Loriens to earth to finish the job.
I Am Number Four skillfully mines much of the same emotional territory of the Twilight saga and its variants albeit from a slightly geekier less melodramatic more male-oriented angle. (Michael Bay produced the film.) Four’s itinerant lifestyle and otherworldly heritage make the adolescent struggle to fit in all the more difficult; he’s anti-social broods a lot and acts out toward Henri telekinetically. (Kudos to Caruso for the unorthodox but effective choice of Olyphant a guy who always looks to me as if he’s about to stab someone as the father-figure). This is likely because Four is in the middle of that awkward alien superhero stage: special powers like hands that glow brightly and emit beams of energy spontaneously reveal themselves at inopportune times causing him to flee from physics class mortified. Pettyfer's really got the tormented bit down; if he can master a few more expressions he's really gonna go places.
Despite these difficult public moments and despite Henri’s repeated warnings to avoid earthly relationships Four manages to strike up an inter-species romance with fellow attractive outcast Sarah (Glee's Dianna Agron) Bella Swan’s blonde equivalent a former cheerleader who has since disavowed her popular-girl past. This in turn invites the fury of Sarah’s former boyfriend and current stalker a bullying jock named Mark (Jake Abel).
Soon however Four’s rites of adolescence must take a backseat to the more pressing matter of defending his species – and his adopted planet – from the Mogadorians who’ve tracked him to his Paradise Ohio location via that advanced alien technology known as YouTube. An apocalyptic battle set at Four’s high school ensues during which he is joined by a fellow Lorien Number Six (Teresa Palmer) a hot-blooded Aussie biker chick whose powers include the ability to communicate exclusively in double entendres. Four is also aided by Sarah a UFO-obsessed sidekick (Callan McAuliffe) and a shape-shifting puppy.
I Am Number Four’s climax largely abandons its appealing Smallville ethos for something more suitable of a film bearing the name of Michael Bay but made with a fraction of the effects budget. The orgy of destruction involving CGI beasts and laser guns and explosions and tons of acrobatic stuntwork comes off a tad cheap if not a little tacky. Hopefully the filmmakers will get a bit more cash to make the sequel which I Am Number Four's ending rather blatantly labors to set up.
A Native American legend tells a story about humans named Skinwalkers who get supernatural powers once they feast on blood. The legend also says a 13 year-old boy will come someday when the moon is blood red and break the curse. Enter Timothy (Matthew Knight) a 13 year-old who lives in the town of Hugenot. His mother (Rhona Mitra) is concerned about her son's persistent nightmares and tells Uncle Jonas (Elias Koteas) she wants to leave town. Maybe it’s because a pack of Skinwalkers led by Varek (Jason Behr) have invaded the town. But Mom is in for a shock. It turns out Uncle Jonas his daughter (Sarah Carter) her fiancé (Shawn Roberts) the mailman (Lyriq Bent) and even Nana (Barbara Gordon) all turn into werewolves once a month and Timothy is the half-breed who may save them. Behr (Roswell) is practically unrecognizable but does a nice job as the long-haired well-built Skinwalker who sets out to kill the boy but soon discovers a secret that changes his mind. His sidekicks are both scary (Kim Coates) and sexy (Natassia Malthe) and they do well playing evil. Familiar character actor Koteas becomes the emotional soul of the film even when he transforms into a werewolf. But it's young Knight (The Grudge 2) who has the biggest challenge showing he can be scared fearless and smart—all at the same time. Not easy to do but the kid handles the chores with aplomb. Skinwalkers is really a rather tame werewolf film not unlike the Lon Chaney versions back in the 1940s. It's hard to make a compelling werewolf movie these days because they focus just on the gore. The classic exception is John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London which combined blood and guts with comedy but Skinwalkers actually comes close. It has action a good story and decent special effects without relying on the usual violence. Skinwalkers’ director James Isaac was responsible for one of the more creative Friday the 13ths Jason X and has a special effects background which is evident in Skinwalkers’ wolf transformations. The battles are nearly Matrix-esque and the scenes of the red moon and the morning sunrises are quite spectacular. The film may have suffered some bad buzz earlier on but it's far better than most of the other werewolf offerings.