Universal has brought Dracula Year Zero back from the dead. The project, which once had Sam Worthington and Alex Proyas attached to star and direct, respectively, was shut down shortly before production after the studio deemed it too expensive. Deadline.com reports that it's been reborn, sans Worthington, with some guy named Gary Shore in talks to direct from a script by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless. Michael De Luca is producing.
Dracula Year Zero's story is said to revolve around Vlad the Impaler, the Turk-squashing Romanian prince thought to be the inspiration for the Dracula character.
Universal is trimming its board-game portfolio. According to Deadline, the studio today quietly pulled the plug on three of the seven game-inspired films it committed to make in 2008, when it signed a six-year partnership with the toy company Hasbro. The most prominent of the cancelled projects is Clue, an adaptation of the mystery-solving game Pirates of the Caribbean and Rango helmer Gore Verbinski is attached to direct. Despite the setback, Hasbro remains committed to seeing Clue re-visit the big screen (a 1985 adaptation, directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, and Lesley Ann Warren, flopped badly at the box office), and has announced that it is moving forward on the project with its own financing. Flash Gordon writers Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama have been hired to pen the script.
Magic the Gathering and the Ridley Scott-attached Monopoly have also received the ax, leaving Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, Candy Land, and Ouija as the only remaining board-game projects left on Universal's slate.
Look, Fox, I understand the concept of branding. I know that selling a movie is easier if your audience already has a notion of what a certain film is about, but why on Earth would you license Missile Command from Atari?
I know video games are popular, 80s nostalgia is in full swing and the two combined are a profitable force to be reckoned with - but Missile Command? Couldn't you at least find something with a little plot to it? I mean hell, even the original Mario Bros. had depth to it. In Missile Command, you just shoot things out of the sky and it's not even that much fun! I guess if Universal is adapting Battleship and DreamWorks is willing to make a View-Masters movie anything is possible.
Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama have been tapped to infuse this lifeless corpse of an interactive experience with structure, plot, characters and basic relevancy. Poor guys. I mean, aren’t there better games out there? Why hasn’t there been a Legend of Zelda game? You already have characters, plot and a built in fan base. And if Lord of the Rings can win a best picture Oscar, your arguments about the fantasy genre are null and void.
Guys, if you’re going to do this whole branding thing, at least do it right.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
When all-American girl Susan Murphy is inadvertently hit by a falling meteor on her wedding day she grows to be nearly 50 feet tall. The U.S. military gets wind of this renames her Ginormica and locks her away with a slacker group of other “monsters” in a top-secret compound. But when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and begins wreaking havoc these good-hearted but inept creatures are called into action by the President and must band together as a team to save the world from certain catastrophe.
WHO’S IN IT?
As usual Dreamworks has assembled a stellar A-list voice cast led by Reese Witherspoon as Susan/Ginormica. Playing one of the rare female animated heroes Witherspoon’s sweet/confused demeanor — in light of her highly unusual status as a fearsome freakazoid — hits just the right tone generously letting her zanier colleagues steal scenes from right under her (a long way down by the way). Chief among these are a not-so-bright gelatinous blue mass named B.O.B. hilariously voiced by Seth Rogen; the genius Dr. Cockroach Ph.D in the capable hands of House doc Hugh Laurie; and Will Arnett’s half-ape half-fish The Missing Link. In the human roles there’s Stephen Colbert as the idiotic U.S. President Kiefer Sutherland as the monster’s prison guardian Paul Rudd as the ego-driven weatherman fiancé of Susan; and a deliciously villainous Rainn Wilson as Galaxhar the alien determined to take over Earth.
Superb 3-D effects aren’t overdone and add immeasurably to the ginormous fun of the film but even seeing it in theaters that only show it in regular 2-D doesn’t spoil the pure joy of this cartoonish War of the Worlds. Throw in parodies of every cheap '50s sci-fi movie you can think of and you have the ingredients for a silly monster mash sure to appeal to just about anyone who wants to laugh. Despite the impressive production elements it’s the smart and clever script that really sets it apart from its competitors — and that even includes the similar Monsters Inc. from Pixar.
Like any kid-oriented comic ‘toon today the action can be a bit too frenetic and Monsters vs. Aliens piles a lot of it on in its trim 95 minutes. Still the lovable characters carry the day and somehow make it all palatable.
When Susan now Ginormica brings her new friends home to meet her parents chaos ensues and so do the laughs. Also impressive are the large action scenes that make fine use of CGI animation breakthroughs.
BEST SUPPORTING BLOB:
It's easily the one-eyed lame-brained blue lug of a people hugger named B.O.B. perfectly matched to the talents of Rogen. He rolls away with the movie and inevitably the merchandise tie-ins.