Do the Bourne movies make any sense? Enough. The first three films — The Bourne Identity Supremacy and Ultimatum — throw in just enough detail into the covert ops babble and high-speed action that by the end Jason Bourne comes out an emotional character with an evident mission. That's where Bourne Legacy drops the ball. A "sidequel" to the original trilogy Legacy follows super soldier Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) as he runs jumps and shoots his way out of the hands of his government captors. The film is identical to its predecessors; political intrigue chase scenes morally ambiguous CIA agents monitoring their man-on-the-run from a computer-filled HQ — a Bourne movie through and through. But Legacy has to dig deeper to find new ground to cover introducing elements of sci-fi into the equation. The result is surprisingly limp and even more incomprehensible.
Damon's Bourne spent three blockbusters uncovering his past erased by the assassin training program Treadstone. Renner's Alex Cross has a similar do-or-die mission: after Bourne's antics send Washington into a tizzy Cross' own training program Outcome is terminated. Unlike Bourne Cross is enhanced by "chems" (essentially steroid drugs) that keep him alive and kicking ass. When Outcome is ended Cross goes rogue to stay alive and find more pills.
Steeped heavily in the plot lines of the established mythology Bourne Legacy jumps back and forth between Cross and the clean up job of the movie's big bad (Edward Norton) and his elite squad of suits. The movie balances a lot of moving parts but the adventure never feels sprawling or all that exciting. Actress Rachel Weisz vibrant in nearly every role she takes on plays a chemist who is key to Cross' chemical woes. The two are forced into partnership Weisz limited to screaming cowering and sneaking past the occasional airport x-ray machine while her partner aggressively fistfights his way through any hurdle in his path. Renner is equally underserved. Cross is tailored to the actor's strengths — a darker more aggressive character than Damon's Bourne but with one out of every five of the character's lines being "CHEMS!" shouted at the top of his lungs Renner never has the time or the material to develop him.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton Duplicity and the screenwriter of the previous three movies) is a master of dense language but his style choices can't breath life into the 21st century epic speak. In the film's necessary car chase Gilroy mimics the loose camera style of Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass without fully embracing it. The wishy washy approach sucks the life out of large-scale set pieces. The final 30 minutes of Bourne Legacy is a shaky cam naysayer's worst nightmare.
The Bourne Legacy demonstrates potential without ever kicking into high gear. One scene when Gilroy finally slows down and unleashes absolute terror on screen is striking. Unfortunately the moment doesn't involve our hero and its implications never explained. That sums up Legacy; by the film's conclusion it only feels like the first hour has played out. The movie crawls — which would be much more forgivable if the intense banter between its large ensemble carried weight. Instead Legacy packs the thrills of an airport thriller: sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.
The Walking Dead drew out zombie fans of all calibers at San Diego Comic-Con last year, and with the success of the AMC show, this year is no different. In fact, word has it the line for Ballroom 20, where the panel is held, saw 9,000 members of the living awaiting word from the men behind the show. Creators Robert Kirkman and Frank Darabont along with stars Andrew Lincoln, Laurie Holden and Sarah Wayne Callies were on hand to talk about what makes the show such a hit and what we can expect to see next season.
First up, the panel reveals the all important premiere date! Sunday October 16 at 9 p.m. as part of AMC's annual FearFest!
Here are a few other need-to-know notes:
Frank Darabont offered to shoot moderator Chris Hardwick (Nerdist Podcast) in the face and make him a zombie. "You can shoot me in the face," says Hardwick. (Us too, Mr. Darabont. Us too.)
"The coursework is going back and reading Robert's comics." -Darabont
The tagline for Season 2: "The end of civilization... Was just the beginning."
"It picks up 2 seconds after the end of season 1. It literally begins with them driving away from the CDC" -Darabont
In a zombie apocalypse: "I'd jump off a bridge." -Kirkman "You need a headshot. Read the comic, learn the rules Robert!" -Hurd
Makeup genius/wizard Rick Baker is a fan: "I got a great phone call from Rick Baker saying how much he loved the zombies on the show." -Greg Nicotero
"You just turn up. Learn your lines. And get out of the way... Because the words are so cool to say." - Andrew Lincoln
"I'm now embarrassed because I haven't take Andrew Lincoln to the Cracker Barrel." -Kirkman
(via The Walking Dead Official Twitter)
"The idea of the show is that people get eaten or torn apart. That's not something you see on TV every day." -Robert Kirkman
"I immediately thought of it as a TV show. I read the first comic and went, AH!" -Frank Darabont
"I have a pedigree with a bunch of zombie projects, and we took a lot of the look form the artwork. Every character has contacts and prosthetics. We cast each and every zombie character and put them through Zombie School in Atlanta." -makeup artist, consulting producer Greg Nicotero
The trailer shows us that the photo released yesterday of Lori hiding under car comes with a particularly nasty walker onslaught on Atlanta. Trailer ends on the farm -- fans of the comic books probably know what this is about.
"You work as hard on a failure as you do on a success... I was worried that I had jinxed it because I loved it so much. It's hard to overstate how much you love it. We thought, well we only got six episodes, but now that we get a second season, we can REALLY scare you." -Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori)
"It's a good thing that i don't have the final word in casting. I'd just cast people I want to hang out with. Ed O'Neil, John Stamos." -Kirkman
Oh the typical, I-do-All-My-Own-Stunts bit from Andrew Lincoln: "I did pretty much all my own stunts, except for taking the horse down. Oh, and the driving. i only learned to drive four years ago."
Carl will get a bigger role next season, the actors are all so proud of him. He's going to blow our BRAINSSS. That's all they can tell us. Of course.
"This year we have a room of writers who know the show." - Frank Darabont
"It's a bit of pressure knowing that everybody loves the show. And there's expectation now" says Kirkman. It's "empowered us to try harder."
"I think the plan is to get there but it's not something we can rush. We have to take our time with it." -Kirkman on Rick in the show versus Rick in the Comics
The fake blood on the show doesn't taste too bad; it's made of corn syrup. They've perfected the makeup process to 90 minutes per walker.
In reference to the trailer: "Did anyone else just poop a little?" -Chris Hardwick
"It's all about slim chances now...slim chances are better than none." -Rick Grimes in the Season 2 Trailer
Jon Bernthal thinks we Walking Dead fans are badass. Knows we're hungry. Wants to feed us. (We're appreciative.)
"If you're a fan of The Walking Dead graphic novel I think you're really going to love this season" -Laurie Holden
(quotes and photo via E!)
The undead series crawls back to the small screen this October on AMC. Be sure to tune in then for all of the gory details.
It’s already a bad day for Tom (Stephen Rea) an unemployed middle-aged business executive who’s about to enter the ranks of the homeless--but things are only going to get worse when the sun goes down. Brandi (Mena Suvari) a young nurse with a penchant for partying is driving home after celebrating an expected promotion when Tom crosses the street at exactly the wrong moment. Brandi hits Tom then rushes home in abject panic--all the while incidentally Tom’s body is stuck in her windshield and he’s still alive. While Brandi frantically dithers and deliberates how to extricate herself from this situation without consequences Tom is trying to physically extricate his broken body from Brandi’s windshield. What begins as a simple if unfortunate case of hit-and-run becomes a battle of wills between Tom and Brandi--one that crackles with intensity and irony. Both Suvari and Rea give tremendous performances. Rea's downtrodden dignity is enormously empathetic. His attempts to save himself--exemplifying his renewed will to live--are agonizing to watch but also rousing in their own way as this underdog fights against some pretty steep (and bloody) odds. Interestingly enough it’s also easy to empathize with Brandi’s predicament--for a time. Hitting Tom was an accident but when she goes into self-preservation mode Brandi’s actions become more and more horrific with the consequences growing exponentially. Suvari (also an associate producer) hasn’t had a role this good since American Beauty and she makes the most of it. There’s also a nice turn by Russell Hornsby as Brandi’s drug-dealing two-timing boyfriend Rashid who gets drawn into her scheme--much to his regret. Stuart Gordon whose H.P. Lovecraft adaptation Re-Animator remains one of the premier cult films of the 1980s has lost none of his savage wit or his taste for dark humor. That this film is inspired by an actual incident only enhances its impact and its stinging irony. Truth is not only stranger than fiction it’s often stronger. Beyond the violence (sometimes extreme) and satire (sometimes overt) are some subtle yet potent observations about human nature--about not taking responsibility for one’s actions about not getting involved about covering up one’s mistakes. Stuck is not a preachy film but it’s frequently a penetrating one (no pun intended).
In true straightforward comic-book style TMNT starts with a brief backstory (without the laborious explanation on why four turtles and a rat become human-like in the first place) and then launches into the heart of the movie. After the defeat of their old arch nemesis The Shredder the Turtles—fun-lovin’ Michelangelo (Mikey Kelly) tech guru Donatello (Mitchell Whitfield) hotheaded Raphael (Nolan North) and pragmatic leader Leonardo (James Arnold Taylor)--have grown apart as a family. While Leo is off honing his craft the turtles no longer fight crime--except Raphael who still fights crime under the pseudonym Nightwatcher. Struggling to keep them together is their rat sensei Master Splinter (the late Mako). But strange things are brewing. Tech-industrialist Max Winters (Patrick Stewart) is amassing an army of ancient monsters to apparently take over the world. With the help of old allies April O'Neil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Casey Jones (Chris Evans) the Turtles finally come together as brothers to fight the good fight and once again face the mysterious Foot Clan who have put their own ninja skills behind Winters' endeavors. As opposed to hiring just A-list actors TMNT is a nice eclectic mix of veteran voice-over artists who give the Turtles their voices and regular actors such as Gellar Stewart and Evans. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’s Ziyi Zhang also gets in on the action providing the voice of the Foot Clan leader Karai who was once an enemy of the Turtles but now sees the value in what they do. Of course there isn’t a Robin Williams or Ben Stiller to laugh with but Kelly is pretty funny as Michelangelo who has had to resort to entertaining kids at birthday parties as “Cowabunga Carl ” a clown-for-hire in a “fake” turtle suit. It will all depend on whether those ninja-fightin’ pizza-eatin’ giant turtles still have a monetary appeal but methinks a new TMNT movie franchise has been born. The comic book was created in 1984 by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman as a spoof to the superhero stories and quickly took off into merchandising heaven with a toy license and then a television series. The original 1990 live-action movie used state-of-the-art animatronics but somehow felt static and fake. Since the last TMNT movie in 1993 the whole Turtle phenomenon has sort of fallen off the radar at least in the U.S. so the time was ripe for a renovation. Using the innovative CGI we know and love this new TMNT--created by a team of animators from California and Hong Kong under the watchful direction of Kevin Munroe--gives the Turtles not to mention all the otherworldly monsters they have to fight a realistic look and feel. With this kind of freedom the film can focus on the action which is the best part of the TMNT lore. Though the demographics may skew male ages 8-11 (as well as those 8-to-11-year-old boys who loved it back in the day and are now grown men) TMNT is just your basic supercharged animated fun.
Based on a 1943 short story “Mimsy Were the Borogroves” by Henry Kuttner and his wife C.L. Moore (who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Padgett) The Last Mimzy makes reference to Lewis Carroll’s famous nonsensical poem “Jabberwocky” which appeared in his novel Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Kuttner and Moore believed the poem may have actually been a communication with hidden meaning from the future so the movie expands on this idea. We meet 10-year-old Noah Wilder (Chris O'Neil) and his younger sister Emma (Rhiannon Leigh Wryn) who find a mysterious box on the beach that contains some strange devices they think are toys including a beat-up stuffed toy rabbit who Emma calls Mimzy. As Noah and Emma start exhibiting paranormal behavior--including blacking out their city for a few minutes—their parents (Joely Richardson and Timothy Hutton) grow more concerned especially when Mimzy turns out to be more than just a toy armed with a serious warning about mankind’s future. Slapping on an environmental message IS the latest craze after all. Part of Mimzy’s problem unfortunately stems from the stiff performances especially from the young actors. We’ve become accustomed to super-kids who can genuinely act their way out of a paper bag. But newbies O'Neil and Wryn really don’t have those innate acting skills even if they exhibit moments of valid emotions. Their cutesy affectations could be as much director Robert Shaye’s fault as anything else since kids need guidance—but more on that later. As for the adults Richardson and Hutton are also fairly nondescript as the hapless parents while Michael Clarke Duncan looks utterly lost as the big bad government guy who just wants to get to the bottom of what he perceives as a possible terrorist threat. The only actors who look like they are having any fun are Rainn Wilson (The Office) as Noah’s quirky science teacher and Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan) as Larry’s New-Age-y fiancé who is able to shed some light on what’s happening to the kids. These two should definitely play more on-screen couples. As Alice in Through the Looking Glass puts it "Somehow [‘Jabberwocky’] seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are!" Apparently neither does director Robert Shaye. You see his job up to this point has been running New Line Cinema as its co-founder. Now while I’ve always suspected studio heads are all frustrated filmmakers shelling out the big bucks does not a director make. Shaye even enlisted New Line-contracted executive producer Toby Emmerich to co-write the script with Bruce Joel Rubin who has really never risen above his claim-to-fame Ghost. Obviously The Last Mimzy is a New Line frat party but certainly these guys are not the strongest of talents either with the camera or the pen. They take what seems to be a fairly compelling premise and simply turn into Hollywood schlock stealing elements from several other films of Mimzy’s Spielberg-ian/Carl Sagan-ian ilk including A.I. E.T. and yes Contact. Too bad.
OK so we've met the Parents: Uptight ex-CIA operative Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) his preppy wife Dina (Blythe Danner) and their sweet daughter Pam (Teri Polo) who's marrying the adorable if slightly anxious male nurse Greg aka Gaylord Focker (Ben Stiller). Now it's time to Meet the Fockers Greg's kooky but lovable parents who soon threaten Greg's standing in Jack's coveted "circle of trust." In the inevitable meeting of the in-laws Jack is lead to believe Greg's dad the effervescent Bernie (Dustin Hoffman) is a lawyer but finds out he became a stay-at-home dad to raise little Gaylord. Greg's mom the outspoken Roz (Barbra Streisand) a "doctor " is really a sex therapist for the elderly. Big big problem. There's also incidents involving the Fockers' dog and the Byrneses' cat and Jack's toddler grandson some glue and a bottle of rum. Don't ask. At some point Greg and Pam have just got to cut the umbilical cord and move on.
One thing you can say about the Fockers' cast--they sure do look like they're having fun. Stiller is back doing the whole neurotic accident-prone thing he does so well. There's one meltdown scene in which he bears his soul while under the influence of Sodium Pentathol (courtesy of Jack of course). De Niro is once again playing the "heavy " as the suspicious elder Byrnes--and is still pretty good at making you laugh. On the other hand the wasted Danner and Polo stand around in the background looking appropriately appalled or sympathetic depending on the moment. Hoffman and Streisand however are the true standouts. They liven up the proceedings just by the sheer nature of their spirited characters. For the first time in awhile Hoffman's tendency to overact works as the bubbly Bernie while the delightful Streisand who's taken a break from acting for the past eight years gets to tap into her zany yet grounded What's Up Doc? persona we remember so well. Good times.
Meet the Parents director Jay Roach has a tough act to follow with Meet the Fockers. The original did surprisingly well at the box office probably because audiences got a kick out of seeing funny guy Ben Stiller go head to head with the Goodfella himself De Niro. But somehow the mishaps and miscommunications that made Parents so wacky seems to have been replaced with feel-good-about-your-family mush in Fockers. Jack for example is mostly up to his "let's catch Greg in the act" high jinks--until he sees the errors of his ways and gets in touch with his feelings. Huh? Granted the moments of inspired hilarity are still entertaining but the extra sentimentality doesn't really work as well given what the younger fans of Parents have come to expect.
When Professor Utonium (voiced by Tom Kane) creates Bubbles (voiced by Tara Strong) Blossom (voiced by Cathy Cavadini) and Buttercup (voiced by E. G. Daily) he's as excited and proud as any new parent. Then they start to fly around the room. From there we're treated to several scenes of "growing up Powerpuff " from their first peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (crusts cut off using infrared vision) to their first day at the Pokey Oats School (they learn to play tag and destroy the town doing it). When the townspeople see the destruction the girls have wrought they imprison the professor print nasty newspaper headlines ("Freaky Bug-Eyed Weirdo Girls Broke Everything") and vow to get those pesky kids. Disillusioned and depressed the outcast girls find solace and sympathy in an alley with a hobo named Jojo (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) who assures them in no uncertain terms that he is in the same boat. "Alas little ones " he says "I do not rock." But Jojo does have a plan: With a little help from the girls he'll build a machine that will make everything better--and the townspeople will like them again. In a life lesson on why you shouldn't talk to strangers the girls believe him and so they end up using their powers to help him achieve what is actually a diabolical goal--to take over Townsville using an army of mutant simians. Once the girls realize the error of their ways they battle Jojo (who's now calling himself "Mojo Jojo") and his army of monkeys attempting to save the world before bedtime--and to earn the trust of the townspeople.
The squeaky-clean voices of actors playing the Powerpuff Girls seem perfectly suited to the bug-eyed fin-fingered creatures; they're somehow innocent and experienced at the same time especially Daily's Buttercup. Strong's Bubbles certainly does bubble and Cavadini's Blossom imparts the steely resolve that makes her the leader of the pack. For comic punch though the monkeys really steal the show--Jackson's Jojo is supreme evil animated and he lets you know it. Kane's ability to perfectly capture the tone of a 1950s elementary school documentary voiceover should not go unnoticed either.
When Professor Utonium set out to create some little girls he didn't mean for them to have super powers. It just kind of happened when a little "Chemical X" got thrown into the mix. The same could be said of director/screenwriter Craig McCracken's final product: It's not a great film--even by kids' film standards--especially compared to the original TV show. It's slow in key places (the game of tag is interminable and the monkey battles go on and on) and kids will probably lose interest quickly as a result. But there are a few "X" factors that make it interesting for both kids and grownups as long as they can be persuaded to keep watching. First monkey jokes. The monkey army that Mojo Jojo attempts to lead is full of sneaky tricks for obliterating the town and wresting control from Jojo including baboon butt bombs the "sauce of chaos" and a barrel that rolls over things in the street including people and a dog that looks suspiciously like Snoopy. Second Planet of the Apes references. Buttercup rails at one of the chimps to "get your hands off him you darn dirty ape!" Third a mayor with an obsession for large green pickles sold from a cart: he's bizarre and slightly disturbing but nonetheless entertaining.