For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Vikings began its raid on the small screen last season, coming away with a bounty of ratings riches. Surprising everyone, the show became the number one new cable series of the year with an average of over 4 million viewers. Now Vikings is sailing back to the small screen with an ambitious, dark, and dangerous new season.
When we last left off our favorite raider Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was battling with brother Rollo (Clive Standen) while complicating his love life. On a raid he spent time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) while at home his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was dealt the crushing blow of seeing daughter Gita die. And former monk Athelstan (George Blagden) was finally starting to take to the Viking way of life.
Hollywood.com was lucky enough to chat with Vikings stars Travis Fimmel, George Blagden, and Alyssa Sutherland to get the scope on Season 2. Here’s what they let slip:
Athelstan has embraced the Viking way of life... or has he?As the season begins, Athelstan has seemingly thrown his lot in with the Vikings entirely. But has he really given up on his Christian faith?
“We leave Athelstan in Season 1 in a very conflicted place. The most interesting characters to play as an actor and watch as an audience are the ones that have deep conflicts running throughout. It would have been far too easy to make Athelstan a completely converted pagan and gung-ho into Viking life,” actor George Blagden said about his character.
“What you see throughout the first few episodes of Season 2 is an attempt and potentially a bit of a bluff on his part. Hopefully what we’ve been able to capture this season is the ongoing conflict that Athelstan has.”
Ragnar’s love life gets complicatedWith his relationship with the tough-as-nails Lagertha on the rocks, Ragnar spends some quality time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug. The repercussions of their momentary fling are far-reaching in Season 2, especially when Aslaug shows up in town pregnant.
“He wants it to be like the Brady Bunch, Ragnar does,” star Travis Fimmel said about Ragnar’s hope of combining both families. “People are putting 21st century values on it, but that stuff happened back then. He had to give it a shot anyway, you know?”
Bjorn grows upSometime in the first four episodes, we jump forward in time four years. This allows little Bjorn to grow up into The Hunger Games actor Alexander Ludgwig.
“We loved Nathan O’Toole, he’s such a great little actor and we were really sad to see him leave. But Alexander’s fantastic too, so he was very well replaced,” Fimmel said. “And he’s a big, big boy. He grows quick in four years.”
Lagertha changes in Season 2Her husband’s betrayal and her daughter's death lead to a much different Lagertha in Season 2.
“Lagertha seems to be chasing a bit more power now,” Fimmel said. “She wants to be Earl. She’s had a taste of power and she’s more about that now.”
Aslaug isn’t a homewreckerAslaug’s appearance on the scene broke up power couple Ragnar and Lagertha, a relationship fans were already deeply invested in after only nine episodes.
“I think it’s really cool that we get to bring this idea to modern audiences,” actress Alyssa Sutherland said. “It’s interesting to me how they struggle with the idea and dilute it down into Aslaug being a “homewrecker” or the other woman, and I question whether that concept would have even existed back then. I like the complication of that storyline.”
Sutherland points out that Aslaug’s goal wasn’t to break up Ragnar and Lagertha when she shows up in town pregnant.
“It seems like a bold move, but what other pregnant chick wouldn’t chase down the baby daddy?”
But Aslaug might have special powersThe world of Vikings has always been filled with mysticism and Princess Aslaug is no different. In Season 2, we find out she might have the power of second sight.
“What I love about the way [writer and creator] Michael Hirst does it is you’re not totally sure if these magical elements that he weaves in every now and then are really happening or if it’s just what they believed at the time,” Sutherland said. “I like that it’s left up to the viewer to decide. I certainly think that Aslaug, whether she was a seeress or not, she certainly believed it and the people around her believed it.”
The season starts with a dramatic battle sceneSeason 2 gets off to a action-packed start with a full-tilt battle between brothers Ragnar and Rollo. But they’re not the only ones doing battle.
“The director shouted ‘cut’ and there was silence and you could just hear this giddy laughter soaring over the forest. And it was me, standing amongst the shield wall, just off my face on some adrenaline high,” said Blagden of his first Viking battle. “Because there’s no pretending; when they smash into the shield wall they really smash into the shield wall.”
Series star Fimmel remembers the dramatic season-opening battle a little differently though.
“Those two days we shot it were some of the hottest days on record in Ireland. A lot of people passed out that day and there were a few injuries,” Fimmel said. “That’s what I remember most about that day.”
Things remain complicated between Ragnar and Rollo How do you fix a relationship like Ragnar and Rollo’s? The two brothers have found themselves almost consistently at odds since the series began, since Rollo’s jealousy often transforms into betrayal.
“It’s going to be pretty hard to ever trust Rollo again,” Fimmel says. “But he’s blood and that’s an important thing to Ragnar. There are certainly big obstacles to overcome with Rollo. The two brothers have a good arc this season, and it’s a lot different from last season.”
Vikings returns for Season 2 on February 27 at 10 PM on the History channel. Will you be watching?
Summer Series: ABC's saucy new drama, Mistresses, finally has a premiere date. The nighttime soap, starring Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes, and Jes Macallan as a group of friends trying to navigate the dating world and maintain worthwhile relationships, will debut Monday, May 27 at 10 PM ET/PT on ABC. Monday nights will be relationship-centric on the network this summer, as The Bachelorette will also premiere in May. The annual dating reality competition will premiere at 9 PM ET/PT on the 20th before moving to its regular 8 PM time slot the following week. Meanwhile, Scott Foley announced on Twitter that his seven-episode Fox comedy, The Goodwin Games, will debut Monday, May 20 at 8:30 p.m. The comedy, about dysfunctional siblings competing to earn their father's fortune, was originally slated for midseason. [ABC/Twitter]
Touched By an Angel...of Death: Ring the death knell for Touch, because all signs point to cancellation for the struggling Fox drama now that star Kiefer Sutherland has been offered another show. The actor has reportedly been offered the lead in NBC's drama The Black List, about the world's most wanted criminal who suddenly decides to turn himself in, along with everyone he's ever worked with. The offer is in second position to Touch, with means Sutherland is contractually obligated to keep his old job if the drama is renewed for a third season, but this new offer combined with Touch's less-than-stellar Friday night ratings likely mean it won't be back. But anything's possible! [Entertainment Weekly]
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Boomerang: Aussie Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) is heading back to TV. He's reportedly firming up a deal to star as Felicity Huffman's husband in Fox's drama pilot Boomerang, about a family of government assassins. He'll play the ex-CIA boss of the family business, which also includes his wife and two grown sons. [Deadline]
Sonuva: Donal Logue is officially returning to FX's Sons of Anarchy for Season 6 as a former U.S. Marshal with a grudge against the SAMCRO gang. Creator Kurt Sutter said Logue was contracted for at least 10 episodes, and only appeared in three of those during Season 5. [Zap2it]
Robocop: Michael Ealy has landed the lead in the new Bad Robot/J.H. Wyman scifi pilot about Los Angeles policemen and their robot partners (seriously). Set in the near future, the show is described as an "action-packed buddy cop show where all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like android." Ealy will play the robot half of the main partnership, Dorian, "who understands humanity more than" his partner, the yet-to-be-cast John Kennex. [Deadline]
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Gone Campin': USA has greenlit a brand new reality series called Summer Camp. The show sounds sort of like a fantasy camp for...camp, wherein 16 adults go back to a lakeside retreat and compete against each other in crazy competitions inspired by traditional camp games. At the end of the eight episodes, they'll face off in an Olympic-style "Campathalon." The new series will air in the summer, which is coincidentally (or completely logically) when NBC is premiering its new summer-camp-set drama, Camp. [Deadline]
Narc: HBO has added The Hurt Locker and Flight actor Brian Geraghty to the cast of Boardwalk Empire for Season 4. He'll play a prohibition agent "with ulterior motives" assigned to Atlantic City. [Deadline]
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[PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Feld/ABC]
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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.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.