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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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Season 37 (!) of late night institution Saturday Night Live comes to a close tomorrow night on NBC with host and musical guest Mick Jagger closing things out. While the finale has all the makings of a classic episode written all over it (especially with Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire coming by to jam out with The Rolling Stones front man) there's already been plenty to make this a memorable season. Before we bid adieu to this season of SNL, let's look back at all the highs (Melissa McCarthy's debut, Jimmy Fallon and Maya Rudolph's returns) and lows (Lindsay Lohan's "comeback," Lana Del Rey's "performance") and everything in between from this past year.
Alec Baldwin Breaks a Record: The 30 Rock star kicked off season 37 the only way he knows how: by hosting for a record-breaking 16th time. Trumping pal Steve Martin for the coveted title, Baldwin proved yet again, why he's one of the best SNL players to never actually be an SNL cast member.
Melissa McCarthy Establishes Her Place as a Comedy Queen: Riding high off the success of Bridesmaids and her Emmy win, the funny lady proved that her breakout year was no fluke. Her first-time turn as host of the October 1, 2011 episode set the bar awfully high for the rest of the season. The actress was the ultimate team player (including getting to have fun with her Bridesmaids co-star Kristen Wiig in the opening monologue) and had no problem going above and beyond the call of duty in the name of comedy for sketches in which she fell down a flight of steps, humped a balloon, and squirted Ranch dressing on her face.
Welcome Home, Jimmy and Maya: Will Ferrell may have had a disappointing homecoming last week, but his fellow SNL alums Jimmy Fallon and Maya Rudolph most certainly did not. Fallon's spirited holiday-themed episode and Rudolph's non-stop funny turn made for the two best outings this season. (The third being, of course, McCarthy's.) It's hard to argue against the notion that the glory days of SNL are long over when old cast mates are the best part of a current season, especially when writers up the ante for sketches like Rudolph's inspired Maya Angelou-meets-Punk'd bit:
Lana Del Rey ... Sings?: SNL can be a great place for a new artist to get massive exposure, but that widespread attention doesn't always help. During the Daniel Radcliffe-hosted January 14 episode, musical guest Lana Del Rey blew up the Twittersphere after her warbly performances of her songs "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans," inspiring cries of "What was that?!" The backlash was almost immediately met with backlash (including a counter attack by Wiig on Weekend Update) and Del Rey redeemed herself with an improved performance on Letterman, but the damage was done: The singer will forever go down in SNL infamy.
Taran Killam Dances His Way to the Top: Taran Killam has quickly established himself as one of the most promising cast members on SNL thanks to his scene-stealing in hilarious sketches like "J-Pop America Fun Time Now" and his killer impressions (namely Andy Cohen) but the rising star became a viral sensation when he paid homage to musical guest Robyn. Boosting morale in the writers' room at 4:30 in the morning, Killam kills it mimicking the "Call Your Girlfriend" video.
Jon Hamm Comes to the Rescue: Lindsay Lohan was supposed to have a comeback this year, propelled by her fourth SNL hosting stint. But there was no classic "Debbie Downer" moment to be found, and Lohan looked stiff during the poorly written episode. With the exception of the instantly viral "Real Housewives of Disney" sketch and a cameo from Jon Hamm, who earned more laughs than the hostess, it would have easily been considered the season's worst. (The honor still belongs to Anna Faris, who also deserved better.)
Digital Shorts Turn 100: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer celebrated an important milestone when their Digital Shorts reached 100. That's right, Justin Timberlake doing unspeakable things to your mother, Michael Bolton dressing up as Captain Jack Sparrow, and 98 other awesome things got a proper star-studded tribute. Watch it here: ="text-align:> Zooey Deschanel Can Laugh At Herself: Siri, does New Girl star Zooey Deschanel have a good sense of humor about her quirky, overly adorable persona? She sure does! Look no further than the incredibly funny "Bein' Quirky with Zooey Deschanel" sketch, which Deschanel herself appeared in as Mary-Kate Olsen facing off against herself (well, Abby Elliott, anyway.) Watch it again or for the first time. "It's not garbage if it's new to you." Paul Brittain Makes An Exit: After just a year with SNL, it was announced in January that featured player Paul Brittain was exiting the show to pursue other projects. While Brittain's impact was minimal, he did leave the 37th season with some memorable moments, including a visit from the whimsically weird Lord Wyndemere and Kings of Catchphrase Comedy headliner Goran “Funky Boy” Bogdan. Kate McKinnon Climbs On Board: With Brittain out, there was space for a new featured player. Enter: Kate McKinnon, a great impressionist (as evidence by her dead-on spoof of Bravo's Tabatha Takes Over) with even greater potential. While she's only had a few weeks to show SNL fans what she's got, Season 37 looks like it set the stage for a stellar Season 38 for McKinnon. What was your favorite and least favorite moments from this season of Saturday Night Live? Which ones did we miss? Sound off in the comments section! More: Mick Jagger To Host Saturday Night Live Finale SNL Promo: Mick Jagger Scolds Kristen Wiig For Wasting Magic – VIDEO The Six Best Saturday Night Live Cast Reunions Ever
The Resident Evil star's dad, Bogdan 'Bogich' Bogdanavich, was sent to prison for a health insurance fraud when the actress was a teenager.
Jovovich grew closer to him when she visited him in jail, but his "playboy" nature made her wary of dating similar men.
The star, who is set to wed her filmmaker partner Paul W.S. Anderson later this month (Aug09), says, "My father, Bogich, was arrested and sent to prison when I was 15. He was a doctor and jailed for eight years for a health insurance fraud. Unfortunately he trusted the wrong people and they left him to rot. In the end he made a deal to get out, but the charges were never dropped.
"It's still hard for my dad because he never felt vindicated. It was the most traumatic thing that had happened to me. I visited him a lot and we became closer as a result.
"My dad was a playboy, so I've made sure I stay away from bad boys. In the end I went for a man who could take care of me and my family. Paul is an incredible dad to our daughter, Ever - he's not crazy or wild. What could be better? I have a talented, handsome, successful husband who adores me.
Jovovich and Anderson have a 20-month-old daughter, Ever.