20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
The Planet of the Apes franchise has a deep lineage of interesting writers penning different chapters about our future simian overlords. With the latest installment of the franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hitting theaters this Friday, we've decided to put the spotlight on the scribes that have brought the ape-ocalypse to life throughout the years.
Rod SterlingFilm: Planet of the ApesNotable Works: The Twilight ZoneRod Sterling was the creator of the legendary sci-fi anthology TV series The Twilight Zone, whose influences continue to touch every inch of modern sci-fi storytelling. Besides The Twilight Zone, Sterling has also written a number of films, including thrillers like The Yellow Canary and Seven Days in March. He also created another anthology series, Night Gallery, which featured stories focusing on horror, supernatural, and macabre elements.
Michael WilsonFilm: Planet of the ApesNotable Works: Lawrence of Arabia, It's a Wonderful Life, The Bridge on the River KwaiBesides co-writing the first entry of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Michael Wilson wrote an astounding number of cinematic classics, including Lawrence of Arabia, It's a Wonderful Life, and The Bridge on the River Kwai. If Wilson's credits weren't interesting enough, the writer was blacklisted from the Hollywood studio system after being accused of being a communist. During this time, he wrote a number of films overseas. One of which was Salt of the Earth, a film written, produced, and directed by filmmakers blacklisted by Hollywood during the McCarthy era.
Paul DehnFilms: Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the ApesNotable Works: Goldfinger, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Murder on the Orient ExpressPaul Dehn is the most prolific screenwriter of the franchise, penning scripts for four out of the five original films in the series. Outside of the Planet of the Apes franchise, Dehn has written several spy thrillers including the James Bond film Goldfinger and a film adaptation of John le Carre's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. He also wrote the screenplay for Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express.
John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper CorringtonFilm: Battle for the Planet of the ApesNotable Works: The Omega Man, Boxcar Bertha, General HospitalThis married couple and screenwriting duo has lent its talents to five films over the years. Besides Battle for the Planet of the Apes, they also wrote the screenplay for Omega Man, another apocalyptic film starring Charlton Heston in the lead role, and Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha. The writing team is also known for their work on soap operas, having written for long-running soap staples like General Hospital and One Life to Live.
Lawrence Konner and Mark RosenthallFilm: Planet of the Apes (2001)Notable Works: Mona Lisa Smile, The Sorcerer ApprenticeLawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthall have worked together on a diverse number of projects including Mona Lisa Smile, Star Trek VI, and The Sorcerer Apprentice. They also, funnily enough, penned the script for Mighty Joe Young, another film about primates, but one with far fewer apocalyptic overtones. Lawrence Konner has also written for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire though without his writing partner.
William Broyles Jr.Film: Planet of the Apes (2001)Notable Works: Entrapment, Apollo 13, The Polar Express, Cast AwayWilliam Broyles Jr. is a bona fide A-list Hollywood screenwriter with numerous films under his belt including Jarhead, Unfaithful, The Polar Express, and Cast Away. His script for for Apollo 13 was nominated for an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.
Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver Film: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the ApesNotable Works: Avatar 3, Jurassic WorldMarried screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver had a handful of films under their belt, but the duo really broke out with their script for 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which revitalized the franchise and earned them a Saturn Award nomination for writing. Ever since, the pair have become a hot commodity for sci-fi blockbusters. Jaffa and Silver were hired to write the upcoming tent-pole films Jurassic World and Avatar 3.
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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When cinephile Guillermo del Toro set out to make Pacific Rim, the passion that fueled his quest was born from a great fondness for the long, varied history of monster movies. One of Hollywood's staples since the earliest days of motion pictures, these flicks haven proven to be a sub-genre with more versatility than anyone might have anticipated.
Silent era monster movies had to rely on well-timed tension, grotesque visuals, and a suggestion of doom to scare audiences (some of this era's entries rank still as among the scariest films to date):
The Golem (1920)
With the entry of talkies, monsters were able to develop personalities and motives. A more three-dimensional adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic novel derived its sense of fright by executing themes of the monstrosity of man himself:
A similar theme carried forth in the famous The Wolf Man, benefactor of one of the most horrifying montages in cinema history (a man's transformation into werewolf form):
The Wolf Man (1941)
With new advances in special effects and budget, the '50s brought forth the monster movies from which Pacific Rim adopts its species. These large scale disaster flicks, with monstrous creatures chasing innocents all throughout their hometowns, are nearly synonymous with 1950s and early '60s cinema:
The Blob (1958)
The 1970s saw a big shift in the sort of films Hollywood was producing in general, with a gritty and grounded sincerity overtaking the mass of the movie industry's output. Some of the finest dramas in film history came out of the decade and the same down-to-Earth, earnest sensibility that invigorated the works of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Milos Forman, and Sidney Lumet sept into the monster flicks of the era. For instance, Jaws, a film that took the large scale idea of a "monster" and turned it into something very real, thus amping up the horror all the more:
On the same token, we have Alien, a science-fiction staple whose true horror comes not from the bloodlust of the vicious monster, but from the claustrophobia of its systematically shrinking setting. The true monster, in fact, is the vicious dread building within, and tearing apart, each of the crew members aboard the Nostromo:
But of course, when things get too serious, you need some comic relief. And that, in essence, is what the '80s were. A good plenty of the decade's horror features were campy, crude, and provocative, returning the genre to its "just for fun" sensibility:
After the genre itself had gone through so many transformations, the 1990s ushered in the nostalgia phase (which present day moviegoers know all too well) with a series of monster remakes. A chance to explore the untapped possibilities of old favorites? Highlight the amended role they might play in a new dawn? Or just make a few bucks with a familiar title? Eh, whatever works.
An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)
Mighty Joe Young (1998)
And now, we have Pacific Rim, a true love letter to the genre itself. Although the film quite definitely pays most of its gratitude to the Godzilla-style, big scale thrashings of the '50s, there is no doubt a genuine love for all things monstrous in the heart and mind of the auteur del Toro. If you have any doubt, just check out his film Pan's Labyrinth... it'll creep, and charm, the hell out of you.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
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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.
SATURDAY 8AM: Disney is reporting $19.3M for the opening day of Prince Caspian, slightly better than the $18M I reported last night. If Prince Caspian performs the same way The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe did, the Walden Media picture should finish the weekend with a $55M opening. That would still be a 16 percent dip from the franchise-starters $65M start. Meanwhile Paramount is reporting $8.6M for Iron Man, a bit less than the $9.25M I projected Friday night. That should translate to a still-spectacular $32M third weekend for Marvel's first self-produced, self-financed feature.
Theatre owners and most of the so-called box office ‘experts’ were looking for an $80M+ opening weekend for Prince Caspian, and I called for $74M-$77M, so Prince Caspian is a distinct disappointment. Industry tracking pointed toward a stronger opening, and execs from competing studios have theories about why the new Narnia has opened soft. Despite generally positive reviews (69 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), many critics mentioned that the movie is darker than the first with some extended battle sequences, which could be a contributing factor. Also, one source tells me that the faith-based marketing effort was less effective this time around.
Reclusive Christian billionaire Phillip Anschutz is the money and driving force behind the Narnia films. Anschutz worth at least $5 billion, began as an oilman before moving on to railroads and telecommunications. He has invested heavily in sports and entertainment for the last decade. His Anschutz Entertainment Group now owns more sports teams and events than any company in the world, and AEG also owns stadiums and arenas like Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Nokia Theatre in Times Square and the O2 in London. The maverick also bought up troubled movie theater chains United Artists, Edwards Theaters and Regal Cinemas, and he now controls more movie screens than any other company. Before jumping into filmmaking six years ago, he told an associate that he wanted to be "doing something significant in American Christianity."
The next chapter of The Chronicles of Narnia, titled Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is already in production with director Michael Apted at the helm. Narnia 3 is set for release May 7, 2010, and if Walden Media follows with another sequel every two years, the franchise-ender, The Last Battle, would hit theatres in 2018. Prince Caspian’s weaker-than-expected opening puts this "master plan" in question.
What Happens in Vegas (Fox) added an estimated $4.65M Friday, and it will be a solid No. 3 for the weekend with $13.75M or so. That is an excellent performance, down just 32 percent from its opening weekend, for a new cume of $40.2M.
Speed Racer (Warner Bros) slowed to $2.4M on its second Friday, and it will manage only an estimated $8.1M, down 57 percent from last weekend. The Wachowskis anime-inspired epic will have banked only $30.2M domestic by Monday morning. Meanwhile, Sony’s Made of Honor is No. 5 with $1.65M Friday and a likely $5.3M for the three-day. The Patrick Dempsey vehicle will be just shy of $35M domestic by the end of the weekend.
Joachim Trier’s Reprise (Miramax) will probably be the top per theater performer of the weekend. The Norwegian arthouse offering, already a winner of three Amanda Awards including Best Picture, should finish the weekend with a $13,300 per theater average on three screens, holding off Prince Caspian, which will likely average $13,000 at each of its 3,929 locations.
Considering that the morning signified the official start of the annual race for awards season gold in Tinseltown, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation could have just used a starter’s pistol at the beginning of their announcement of the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards.
Instead they opted for something a little more glamorously apropos, with stars Kate Beckinsale, Mark Wahlberg and Steve Carell announcing the winners at a pre-dawn ceremony at Beverly Hills’ luxe Beverly Hilton Hotel.
But the race was indeed on, and on the film side the gay-themed Western drama Brokeback Mountain broke ahead of the pack early on with seven nominations, including Best Motion Picture--Drama, Ang Lee for director, Heath Ledger for actor, Michelle Williams for supporting actress, screenplay, score and original song.
Also faring well among the 2005 film crop were writer-director Woody Allen’s Match Point; the first-a-film, then-a-musical, now-a-film-musical The Producers; and George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck, each with four nominations. Clooney not only received individual nods for co-writing and directing the film, he also scored a best supporting actor nomination for his turn in the political potboiler Syriana.
Or was the nominee “Jorge Clooney,” as his friend and frequent co-star Wahlberg purposely mispronounced it when he made the announcement?
Meanwhile, over on the television side, Desperate Housewives wasn’t desperate at all, leading all comers with five total nominations, including individual Best Actress in a Television Series--Musical or Comedy nominations for stars Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Eva Longoria and last year’s winner, Teri Hatcher. Huffman also fared well on the film side, garnering a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture--Drama for her turn as a preoperative transsexual in Transamerica.
And while HBO continued its long trend of dominating the TV nominations with a total of 17 due to such multiple-nominated series as Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, newcomer Rome and the miniseries Empire Falls, the pay cable net was suddenly feeling the breath of a traditional network on its neck: ever-emergent ABC was just one shy of HBO’s tally with 16 nominations, thanks to such second-year staples as Desperate Housewives and Lost as well as newbies Commander In Chief and Grey’s Anatomy.
Seen On the Scene
Even though it was 5:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos looked like she hadn’t missed a second of her beauty sleep as she prepared to do a live shot for her other gig, the Today Show. “I don’t mind getting up so early,” she whispered to Hollywood.com seconds before she went live, joining the phalanx of journalists, photographers and videographers and the small army of anxious celebrity and studio publicists who turned out for the announcement. “It’s a test of my endurance.”
The celebrity presenters were also looking impossibly chic for the ungodly hour, especially Beckinsale, in a shimmery black satin Monique Luhllier gown more suited for the cocktail hour. Two of the stars were well rewarded for rising early: Carell snared his first-ever Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series--Musical or Comedy for his role as the winningly doltish boss on The Office, while Wahlberg shared in Entourage’s nomination as Best Television Series--Musical or Comedy as the co-creator and executive producer of that show.
After Beckinsale announced Entourage’s nomination and looked back at the still cool and collected Wahlberg expectantly, the actor took the podium and said dryly “I think because I’m American she expected me to be jumping up and down.”
Hollywood.com asked Wahlberg if he was jumping up and down on the inside, and he let us in on an inside secret. “You know what? She snuk the information to me, and to Steve about his nomination, earlier,” he revealed. “And she said ‘Isn’t that what you Americans do, jump up and down? I was going to do a little Ben Affleck-Matt Damon imitation, but I didn’t know if people would get it.”
“I was hoping for like the Running Man or some kind of something,” a clearly disappointed Beckinsale told Hollywood.com. “Because Americans can go either way with that. Sometimes they can go a little nuts. But it is a little early.” Still, the actress, nominated last year for her turn in The Aviator, confessed she almost got caught up int the celebratory spirit herself. “My daughter’s best friend’s dad [Harry Gregson-Williams] was nominated for The Chronicles of Narnia [for Best Original Score], so I almost made a noise in there--Whoo-hoo!--but I didn’t.”
Meanwhile, the usually “on” Carell showed his softer side, taking a break from TV interviews to dial his wife on his cell phone, quietly enjoying a sweet, congratulatory exchange away from the limelight.
Wahlberg--who was frequently distracted on stage by his silently vibrating cell phone with calls from Jeremy Piven (nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television) and the real life inspiration for Piven’s character Ari Gold, as well as his Four Brothers co-star Terrence Howard (nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture--Drama)--said he did not plan to send any congratulatory tokens to his Entourage posse. “Hopefully, since I got them all the job, they’ll send me a gift,” he suggested.
When asked how hard he thought he and his boys would be partying on Golden Globe night, notorious among awards shows for its free-flowing champagne and cocktails, he had a quick reply: “It depends on if we win or not!”
Click here for the complete list of nominations.