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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Bands that tour together go through all kinds of ups and downs. Let's face it - if you spend more time with your bandmates than your own family for good amounts of time, people are going to get on each other's nerves. It's a given. Especially since there tend to be multiple strong artistic personalities all vying for supremacy and there will be inevitable clashes. There's screaming, yelling and possible flying projectiles. Then people usually suck it up and move on. These bands couldn't get past those conflicts and found themselves breaking up, depriving fans of more albums together. Here's five examples of world-known groups who fractured.
There really hasn't been a phenomenon as gigantic as the Fab Four were when they first hit the music scene in the sixties. The mere sight of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison or Ringo Starr either in person or on TV could send fans into fits of gleeful shrieking. After unparalleled success for years, the band broke up in 1970, a decade after its creation. There were many causes, not one singular event. They stopped touring four years before the split and their manager died in 1967, but the final straw was the collapse of their shared company Apple Corps, Ltd. and an ensuing intra-band legal battle over who should look after their business affairs, ruthless Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein or McCartney's new father-in-law Lee Eastman. Solo careers also contributed to the demise. After a sustained period of brilliance, the band was no more, Sadly, there will never be any reunion, with the shooting of Lennon in 1980 and Harrison's death from cancer in '01.
Another supergroup that formed not too long after The Beatles. After seeing Syd Barrett, their guitarist, leave from too much drug use, they brought in a new guitarist, David Gilmour, who quickly proved himself as one of the best in the business. Soon there was growing tension between Gilmour and frontman Roger Waters, who wanted to control all aspects of the band. First they fired Rick Wright, their keyboard player - he doesn't appear on the last Waters/Gilmour Floyd album, The Final Cut. They then split and there was a huge fight about the Pink Floyd band name. Gilmour reunited with Wright and drummer Nick Mason to make two more albums (though when they were touring to promote the first non-Waters album, they had to have lawyers on call on every city so they could play any songs that Gilmour had co-written with Waters). There has been a recent thawing in the ice, as Gilmour and Waters have played together at several concerts, including the legendary guitarist making an unannounced appearance during Waters' The Wall tour. It's a shame that fans were deprived for decades of the collaboration, though and Wright is now dead, so we will never see a full Pink Floyd again.
The Police burst onto the scene in 1978 with the hit song 'Roxanne.' There was a period of time after that where Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland could lay claim to being in the biggest rock band in the world. But the group was so tired of each other after the end of the Synchronicity Tour in 1984 that they split up. They briefly reunited to do another version of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', but they had to use a drum machine in place of Copeland, since he had broken his collarbone. It was an argument over drum machines that turned out to be the final straw that led to the group's undoing. Sting wanted to use an incredibly complicated one and Copeland used another. Copeland actually credited his drum machine as the inspiration to become a composer. The band reunited for a concert tour but they haven't done any new studio albums. Sting actually just released another solo album, further dashing any more reunion hopes.
This band serves as a warning for those groups that include family members. The fallout is Liam and Noel Gallagher, two brothers, who now despise one another to the point that one of them would turn down tens of millions of dollars to reunite. There was a lot of success early on with the the release of their first album, Definitely Maybe in 1993. They had an even bigger hit in their next album, (What's The Story) Morning Glory? Sadly, there were continual conflicts amongst themselves and various bandmembers kept quitting. Finally, after the birth of his son and a scary incident involving a fan running onstage and assaulting him, Noel got so fed up with Liam (a fight where Liam broke his guitar didn't help) that he quit the band in 2009, replete with a dramatic announcement on the band's website. So that's where we are, and it looks like nothing's going to break the (Wonder)wall between them.
Guns N' Roses
While the group has never actually 'broken up' in the sense that the other four have, it's a far cry from the lineup that was featured in Appetite For Destruction. The only constant has been lead singer Axl Rose. The first to go was Izzy Stradlin, who had problems with how Rose ran the band and his less-than-stellar treatment of fans. He also found it hard to be sober among a group of hard-partying rockers. After that began a steady trickle of band members leaving, including guitar legend Slash, until it was Rose with a whole new band. There was so much bad blood that Axl Rose refused to attend the '12 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions if it meant being in the same room as the other orignal members. It's a shame, since this current incarnation is a pale shadow of the powerhouse that took the world by storm in the late '80s.
More:The 'Avengers:Age of Ultron' Trailer Is Such A TeaseWe'll See More of Nucky's Decline: 'Boardwalk Empire' Renewed For Season FiveThese Big Studiou Movies Could Be Indies
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
The film and television nominations for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been released, recognizing achievements in both individual performances and the strengths of ensemble casts. This year's television award nominations are listed below, including many worthy recipients, but there are also a few surprising absences. Among the hard-hitters listed below are dramas like HBO's Mildred Pierce and Boardwalk Empire, AMC's Breaking Bad and comedies such as ABC's Modern Family (which swept the Emmys this year) and NBC's 30 Rock. However, some might be surprised not to find the new Showtime drama Homeland or NBC's secret weapon Parks and Recreation.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Jan. 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS.
Click here to read the list of this year's film nominees.
18th ANNUAL SAG AWARDS NOMINATIONS: PRIMETIME TELEVISION
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Laurence Fishburne - Thurgood (HBO)
Paul Giamatti - Too Big to Fail (HBO)
Greg Kinnear - The Kennedy (Reelz Channel)
Guy Pearce - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
James Woods - Too Big to Fail (HBO
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Diane Lane - Cinema Verite (HBO)
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey (PBS)
Emily Watson - Appropriate Adult (Sundance Channel)
Betty White - Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine (CBS)
Kate Winslet - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Patrick J. Adams - Suits (USA)
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad (AMC)
Michael C. Hall - Dexter (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates - Harry's Law (NBC)
Glenn Close - Damages (DirecTV)
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story (FX)
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife (CBS)
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer (TNT)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock (NBC)
Ty Burrell - Modern Family (ABC)
Steve Carell - The Office (NBC)
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julia Bowen - Modern Family (ABC)
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey - 30 Rock (NBC)
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family (ABC)
Betty White - Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO) - Steve Buscemi, Dominic Chianese, Robert Clohessy, Dabney Coleman, Charlie Cox, Jose & Lucy Gallina, Stephen Graham, Jack Huston, Anthony Laciura, Heather Lind, Kelly Macdonald, Rory & Declan McTigue, Gretchen Mol, Brady & Connor Noon, Kevin O'Rourke, Aleksa Palladino, Jacqueline Pennewill, Vincent Piazza, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Van Wagner, Shea Whigham, Michael Kenneth Williams, Anatol Yusef
Breaking Bad (AMC) - Jonathan Banks, Betsy Brandt, Ray Campbell, Bryan Cranston, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Paul
Dexter (Showtime) - Billy Brown, Jennifer Carpenter, Josh Cooke, Aimee Garcia, Michael C. Hall, Colin Hanks, Desmond Harrington, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Rya Kihlstedt, C.S. Lee, Edward James Olmos, James Remar, Lauren Velez, Peter Weller, David Zayas
Game of Thrones (HBO) - Amrita Acharia, Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Josef Altin, Sean Bean, Susan Brown, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Ron Donachie, Michelle Farley, Jerome Flynn, Elyes Gabel, Aiden Gillen, Jack Gleeson Iain Glen, Julian Glover, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Richard Madden, Jason Mamoa, Rory McCann, Ian McElhinney, Luke McEwan, Roxanne McKee, Dar Salim, Mark Stanley, Donald Sumpter, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams
The Good Wife (CBS) - Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Alan Cumming, Matt Czuchry, Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Archie Panjabi, Graham Phillips, Makenzie Vega
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC) - Scott Adsit, Alec Baldwin, Katrina Bowden, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Tina Fey, Judah Friedlander, Jane Krakowski, John Lutz, Jack McBrayer, Tracy Morgan, Maulik Pancholy, Keith Powell
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - Mayim Bialik, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch
Glee (Fox) - Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Ashley Fink, Dot Marie Jones, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Mike O'Malley, Chord Overstreet, Lauren Potter, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr., Iqbal Theba, Jenna Ushkowitz
Modern Family (ABC) - Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Julia Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, Ariel Winter
The Office (NBC) - Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, John Krasinski, Paul Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Oscar Nunez, Craig Robinson, James Spader, Phyllis Smith, Rainn Wilson, Zach Woods
After garnering widespread praise (and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting) for his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me Kenneth Lonergan was in-demand. In September 2005 the writer/director began production on a follow-up feature: Margaret which touted Anna Paquin Matt Damon Mark Ruffalo Matthew Broderick Allison Janney as well as legendary filmmakers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) as producers. The movie wrapped production in a few months time. The buzz was already growing.
Now six years later the movie is finally hitting theaters. So…what took so long?
The journey to this point hasn't been an easy one and it shows. If a film's shot footage is a block of granite and the editing process is the careful carving that turns it into a statuesque work of art Margaret feels like it was attacked by a blind man with a jackhammer. The film is a cinematic disaster a mishmash of shallow characters overwrought politics and sporadic tones. The story follows Lisa Coen (Paquin) a New York teenager who finds herself drowning in chaos after distracting a bus driver (Ruffalo) causing him to hit and kill a pedestrian (Janney). Initially Lisa tells the police it was all an accident but as time passes regret takes hold and the girl embarks on a mission to take down the man she now regards as a culprit. That's just the tip of the iceberg–along the way Lisa deals with everyday teen stuff: falling for her geometry teacher (Damon) combating her anxiety-ridden actress mother losing her virginity dabbling in drugs debating 9/11 and the Iraq War cultivating a relationship with her father in LA and more. There are about eight seasons of television stuffed into Margaret but even a two and a half hour run time can't make it all click.
For more on Margaret check out Indie Seen: Margaret the Long Lost Anna Paquin/Matt Damon Movie
Why bother with scripted material? In The Real Cancun camera crews follow 16 college kids for eight days of spring break debauchery in Cancun Mexico and record every drunken sexual and shirt-lifting moment. In true The Real World fashion casting producers went out of their way to select a diverse and uninhibited bunch that would beget enough clashes and hookups to tantalize moviegoers for 97 minutes. The ensemble includes among others strictly platonic buds Heidi and David non-drinker Alan Texas Tech party twins Roxanne and Nicole the already hitched Sarah and male slut Jeremy. Add lots of alcohol to the mix and things get interesting. The gang of drunken teens eventually peer-pressures Alan into drinking and we get to witness his life spiral out of control: "I wanna see hooties!" the former square peg hollers after his first shot of tequila. That's about as deep as it gets folks but it's doubtful anyone going to see The Real Cancun is expecting anything meaningful. Moviegoers will at least walk away from this film with two invaluable lessons: Men will discover that head-game playing women long to be pursued by virile members of the opposite sex; women come to the realization that all men really want is to get laid.
With the exception of a few players The Real Cancun cast is a pretty likeable one. One of the most memorable is Wisconsin native Laura. This kewpie thinks she has met the man of her dreams in sexpot Jeremy. But barely a day after they hook up this insensitive guy is already moving on to his next target--with Laura in the same room. You'll love how she spends the rest of the trip blatantly sabotaging his potential trysts as best she can. There's also Sky who spends several days teasing Paul into a sexual tizzy only to leave him hanging. When Paul eventually stumbles into a more receptive girl's bed he finds himself face to face with the Wrath of Sky. Duh--doesn't he get that she would have given it up had he pursued her just one more day? But with 16 teens to document it would be impossible to relate to so many different spring break experiences and some inevitably fall by the wayside. Amber Brittany and Fletch for example were either forgotten about or left on the cutting room floor. Others like Miami model Casey are simply too flaky to care about.
Helmer Rick De Oliviera previously served as executive producer on a couple of MTV series--and it shows with this directorial debut. The movie plays out like a truncated season of The Real World complete with enthusiastic introductions fights hook-ups and sad good-byes. The difference is the film is filled with R-rated bonuses including a wet T-shirt contest some grainy nighttime surveillance footage of teens bumping and grinding away and other things they can't get away with on cable TV. Here's an afterthought: wouldn't it be cool if the producers brought the kids back for a reunion special so we could find out who left Cancun with crabs? The Real Cancun of course doesn't deal with the downside of Spring Break or its repercussions. But if you let yourself be immersed in its irrelevance it actually has some enticing moments which to some moviegoers might be the nipple-pierced twins' incestuous striptease. Actually one of the funniest moments is from an outtake in which Heidi calls her mom to tell her rapper Snoop Dogg is staying at their beachfront villa. "A loose dog?" mom shoots back proving yet again that parents just don't understand.