Since helming Sony's alien invasion action pic Battle: Los Angeles, Darkness Falls director Jonathan Liebesman's profile has risen significantly. The scale of that 2011 spring blockbuster made him an ideal candidate to further Warner Bros. burgeoning Clash of the Titans franchise - the qualitative results of which will be determined on March 30 when Wrath of the Titans is released. Now the 35-year-old filmmaker is looking to leave his mark on another blue-chip property - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Variety reports that the Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies and Platinum Dunes production - first reported back in 2010 - is interested in bringing Liebesman on board. The project has a script from Iron Man writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, and was touched up by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol scribes Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum. Originally slated to hit theaters in 2011, the film looks like it can actually move forward now that the companies are looking at directors.
So the question is: is Liebesman the right guy for the job. I'm undecided at this point. So far he's made a name for himself with violent, visceral horror flicks and larger special effects driven tent-poles. The latter has definitely provided him all the experience needed to realize producer Michael Bay's vision for the film, but the Heroes in a Half Shell have won places in all our hearts because of the characters, not necessarily the action. I haven't seen him create protagonists as strong as any of the Mutants in any of his films to date, and that's what makes me a bit nervous.
Whoever takes on the Turtles must understand that exploring the relationship between battling brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello is more important to the film's success than set-pieces and action sequences. We need to see contemporary iterations of the characters that also stay true to the heart of what they stand for, otherwise the new TMNT film will be just another rehash of a nostalgic brand.
Source: Variety (via ComingSoon)
September 02, 2010 11:19am EST
When the animated opening credits of Warner Bros. Going the Distance begin a barrage of colorful images envelope the screen shaking and shifting to the sounds of contemporary pop-rock like a hipster-chick in a SoHo lounge. It sets the tone for a lighthearted but levelheaded romantic comedy that like the music is cool and crafty but not completely above the clichés of the tried-and-true genre.
Making her feature-film directorial debut Oscar-nominated documentarian Nanette Burstein (On the Ropes) set out to make a film that as she put it “would feel as real as possible” – a tough job when taking on a studio comedy. But with a relatable premise a punchy script and a cast that possesses a ton of personality she succeeds at delivering a surprisingly fresh film that chronicles the pros and cons of a long-distance relationship between Justin Long’s Garrett and Drew Barrymore’s Erin.
The first half hour is filled with the standard situational set-ups and character introductions that one expects from any film. We learn everything we need (and want) to know about Garrett and Erin: He’s a New York record label workhorse and she’s an aspiring journalist interning at a metropolitan newspaper. They frequent the same dive bar in downtown Manhattan and have a beer and barbeque-wings fueled fling which turns into a steady summer-long relationship. But all good things must come to an end and as September approaches she prepares to head back to Stanford for another semester much to their mutual dismay. However the feelings between them are sincere and they decide to give their spatially challenged relationship a shot.
Real-life couple Long and Barrymore have a few touching moments throughout the film mostly when the trials of their long-distance relationship take a toll but they are a bore in comparison to the supporting cast. Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day bring frat-house etiquette and bro-mantic charm to the movie as Garrett’s best friends Box and Dan. Together they are the living embodiment of testosterone and man-child — archetypes that have become all-too common in current rom-coms — but with legitimately funny performances they really pay off. Christina Applegate is good for a load of laughs as Erin’s older sister Corinne who is skeptical of Erin’s eagerness to engage in yet another risky romance; she steals the show with her unrelenting commentary.
Going the Distance doesn’t break new ground within the genre or redefine cinematic romance but it balances the sweet and sour moments of its story very well. Burstein minimizes the drama and keeps the comedy raw to maximize the entertainment value of the movie which should please all who purchase a ticket. Somehow the long distance dilemma hasn’t been tackled on film before and that makes the movie appear to be more original that it really is but in a year where so few romantic comedies have brought the goods (The Back-Up Plan Sex and the City 2) Going the Distance does just that.
Based on Chris Van Allsburg's enchanting award winning children's book the story begins on a snowy Christmas Eve where a doubting young boy lies in his bed waiting to hear the sound he doesn't know if he believes in anymore: the tinkle of Santa's sleigh bells. What he hears instead however is the thunderous roar of an approaching train where no train should be: it's the Polar Express. Rushing outside in only a robe and slippers the incredulous boy meets the train's conductor who urges him to come onboard. Suddenly the boy finds himself embarking on an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with a number of other children--including a girl who has the tools to be a good leader but lacks confidence; a know-it-all boy who lacks humility; and a lonely boy who just needs to have a little faith in other people to make his dreams come true. Together the children discover that the wonder of Christmas never fades for those who believe. As the conductor wisely advises "It doesn't matter where the train is going. What matters is deciding to get on." Gives ya goose bumps doesn't it?
Talk about a vanity project for Tom Hanks. He portrays several of the characters in the film--the conductor the hobo who mysteriously appears and disappears on the Polar Express the boy's father. Wait isn't that Hanks playing Santa Claus as well? But if anyone can pull off some cheesy dialogue about the spirit of Christmas this Oscar-winning actor can. Interestingly the film also incorporates adults to play the children (none of the characters have names actually) with Hanks as the Hero Boy; Hanks' Bosom Buddies pal Peter Scolari as the Lonely Boy; The Matrix Revolutions Nona Gaye as the Hero Girl; and veteran voice actor Eddie Deezen as the Know-It-All Boy. Everyone does a good job but trying to make CGI-created people seem real is a difficult undertaking. With
The Polar Express director Robert Zemeckis has created an entirely new way to do computer animation called "performance capture." "[It's a process that] offers a vivid rendering of the Van Allsburg world while infusing a sense of heightened realism into the performances. It's like putting the soul of a live person into a virtual character " visual effects wizard and longtime Zemeckis collaborator Ken Ralston explains. Oh is that all? Problem is no matter how hard they try it doesn't work--not completely. Similar to flaws in the 2001 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within virtual characters just can't convey human emotion as well as real-life actors plain and simple. And with a touching story like Polar Express that real-life connection is missed at times.
Of course like the images in the book it's still an exceptionally beautiful film to watch. Zemeckis enjoys being a filmmaking innovator. He charmed audiences with a lively blend of live action and manic animation in the 1988 classic action comedy Who Framed
Roger Rabbit? and then wowed them with the 1994 Oscar-winning Forrest Gump blending authentic archival footage of historic figures with the actors. Now with The Polar Express it's this performance capture which gives Zemeckis unlimited freedom in creating the world he wants. And boy does he make use of it. True the story is a classic but the director knows he has to make The Polar Express exciting for the tykes-- simply riding around in a train to North Pole without any thrills certainly wouldn't be enough for the ADD world we live in. To accomplish this the film is padded with exhilarating scenes such as the train going on a giant roller coaster ride through the mountains and across frozen lakes (too bad Warner Bros. doesn't have a theme park) and the boy's race across the top of the snowy Polar Express. Even the North Pole is a booming magical Mecca filled with some pretty boisterous (and weird looking) elves who like to send Santa off in style Christmas Eve--watch out for Aerosmith's Steven Tyler making a cameo as a jammin' elf. Ho-ho-ho!
November 13, 2002 8:20am EST
The Screen Actors Guild will present Clint Eastwood with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG Awards on March 9. Eastwood first gained recognition when he starred in a trilogy of popular spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s, including A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. His screen incarnation of "Dirty Harry" Callahan--the cop who found it easier to shoot suspects than interrogate them--in the actioners Dirty Harry and Sudden Impact spawned the immortal line: "Go ahead--make my day." Eastwood is currently directing his 24th feature film, Mystic River, which also marks his 19th time as producer. SAG president Melissa Gilbert called Eastwood a film icon, adding, "His prolific career as an actor and filmmaker demonstrates a total command of the medium that has rightly earned him the admiration of his peers, the industry and the public."
During preparations for the MTV Europe Awards, rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs told Reuters he wished his ex Jennifer Lopez the best of luck in her future with Ben Affleck. He then flashed a huge canary yellow diamond on his finger and said he would lavish his future wife with such jewels. Combs, who is hosting the awards show in Barcelona on Thursday, added, "By Thursday, everyone will be focused on me again."
Singer Bobby Brown was ordered to stand trial in Georgia later this month on charges dating back to 1996, including driving under the influence of alcohol, Reuters reports. The charge surfaced when the R&B singer and husband of Whitney Houston was arrested last Thursday in Atlanta for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, speeding and having no driver's license or proof of insurance.
Former talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael filed a libel lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Tuesday against the National Enquirer. According to Reuters, Raphael alleges the tabloid falsely reported in its Oct. 22 issue that she had suffered a mental breakdown after the cancellation of her long-running talk show. She is seeking punitive damages exceeding $100 million.
The American Film Institute announced plans Tuesday for a new top-100 list that will rank the top screen villains and heroes. According to The Associated Press, the institute is sending ballots to nearly 1,500 directors, actors, studio executives, critics and others involved in the entertainment industry. Voters will be able to choose among 400 nominated characters from American film history.
Warner Bros. Pictures is making a feature film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the novel will be adapted and executive produced by screenwriter David Benioff. This is not the first time Bell will make its way to the big screen. Paramount Pictures' 1943 version, which starred Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, was nominated for nine Oscars.
Sopranos stars Drea de Matteo and Michael Imperioli will co-host VH1's Big in 2002 Awards on Dec. 15, the AP reports. The ceremony pays tribute to "those moments and people that captivated and inspired us in 2002," the cable channel said. Categories include "Strange but True," "Can't Get You Out of My Head" and "Been Caught Scene Stealing."
Guitarist Carlos Santana, country singer Willie Nelson and teen rock sensation Michelle Branch will headline the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 11. The show will pay tribute to former president Jimmy Carter. Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange will emcee the show.
A judge has ruled that Courtney Love won't have to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in the ongoing legal dispute with the Nirvana bandmates of her late husband, Kurt Cobain, The Associated Press reports. Last May, Love asked that Nirvana LLC, the business partnership she formed with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl in 1997, be dissolved on the grounds that she signed the agreement at a time when her judgment had been impaired. The judge commented that granting the request for a psychiatric evaluation would "serve no other purpose than to contribute to a circus-like atmosphere" to the legal proceedings, but added that if Love tries to claim she was incapacitated again, the issue of a mental examination could be revisited.
The latest Madonna buzz is that she will indeed make a cameo appearance in the new James Bond film. According to Ananova.com, director Lee Tamahori told Entertainment Tonight that Madonna will spend two days filming the cameo role in Die Another Day, wearing an outfit specially designed for her.
Diet guru Dr. Robert Atkins, who promotes a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, is recovering from a cardiac arrest he suffered at his Manhattan home on April 18, which he said is not related to diet. A spokeswoman for Atkins, 71, issued a statement saying: "This was not a heart attack but a cardiac arrest related to an infection of the heart he has been suffering from for a few years, " the AP reports.
Following ABC's two-hour finale of the reality series The Bachelor yesterday, Alex Michel is still single. Of the 25 women who competed for a chance to marry the bachelor, Michel chose Amanda Marsh, but he asked the 23-year-old event planner to first move to California to live with him before they walked down the aisle. She said yes.
HBO is developing a reality series tentatively dubbed General Manager for summer 2003. The series, a cross between Bull Durham and The Real World, would allow viewers to track the progress of a minor league baseball team, and then control its destiny through the Internet, Variety reports.
The editors at TV Guide have selected Seinfeld as the greatest television show of all time, the AP reports. Shows included in the top 10 on the magazine's list of the top 50 television shows are All in the Family, The Sopranos, The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.
In her talk show's final farewell, Sally Jessy Raphael smashed her trademark red-framed glasses but didn't shed a tear, the AP reports. "They belong to the [production] company," she explained later about the glasses. The show was canceled after it sank to ninth in the ratings among talk shows.
Henry Winkler, better known as the Fonz from Happy Days, will executively produce Hollywood Squares alongside Michael Levitt, Reuters reports. They will replace John Moffit and Pat Lee Tourk, who were let go after Whoopi Goldberg revealed she was leaving the show's center square.
Dr. Dre has been named as one of the defendants in a lawsuit filed by five former and current Detroit, Mich., city officials, claiming their privacy was invaded. According to the AP, the lawsuit alleges that hidden cameras and microphones were secretly used to "intercept, eavesdrop upon and record" exchanges between city officials and Up In Smoke tour organizers. Also named in the suit are Magic Johnson, AOL Time Warner, Best Buy and Panavision.
Looks like White Zombie rocker Rob Zombie will finally get his day in court. Two years ago, Zombie filed a copyright lawsuit against Mazda Motor Corp. for using music from his 1998 album Hellbilly Deluxe for a television truck commercial without his permission.
Adventure sailor and author Thor Heyerdahl, who died of brain cancer at a family home in Italy on April 18, was honored by some 1,000 mourners--including Norwegian royals King Harald and Queen Sonja at his funeral Friday in Oslo Cathedral. He was 87.