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.
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While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
S2E2: NBC did a nice job of packing three weeks worth of blind auditions on The Voice into two, back-to-back nights. It’s amazing how last night’s two-hour special quickly tripled the team members and brought the total to 13 singers. Every coach is pretty even at this point with three singers except Christina, who has four, and keeps displaying her need to show off a little too much cleavage (I’m not complaining). It was a “jam”-packed night that saw some ultra-creative song renditions of Adele’s “Someone Like You” to a coffee-house cover of Trey Songz “Say Aah.” Oh, and the judges threw in a mini Prince concert to kick it all off. Let’s get this party started!
“As soon as I heard the second voice kick in, I was really, really intrigued.” - Christina
Our first duo of the season, The Line (consisting of Hailey and Leland) hit the judges early with “American Girl,” a song I’m proud to say was inspired in Gainesville at the campus of my Florida Gators (just saying). The group got together after Leland approached this buxom blonde by offering her a shot of Jack Daniels (my kind of guy). Apparently this couple is not involved even though you can tell Leland is playing the long con. Keep at it man, it will happen someday. Blake jumped on The Line first, later followed by the trio of Christina, Cee-Lo and Adam, almost at the same time. Blake was not happy. He was even less pleased when they chose Christina, who laughed and gloated a little too much.
The next singer selected is one who will definitely use the show’s platform to spread his message. Jamar Rogers got off Crystal Meth six years ago only to find out he had HIV. Cee-Lo is his personal idol and after he made a bold choice by singing “Seven Nation Army,” it was kismet as Cee was the only coach to turn his chair around and select the young man. It was a goosebumps kind of moment. He actually kind of sounded like a mix of Cee and Adam during the performance. Rogers put it best when he said “There is beauty that does come from ashes.” Okay, I’m done being sentimental, let’s move on.
“If you look across this panel here, you’ll see spikes and you’ll see tattoos, and things like that. I’m your county guy, I’m your man.” - Blake
Oh Blake, you smooth talker you. That plea cajoled Gwen Sebastian, who is putting off having a family to pursue music, to join his team after everyone except Christina buzzed in. The girl had a wide range from the start singing country hit “Stay” and Cee-Lo mixed it up by getting in the action. That would have been an interesting pair! Adam felt left out, poor baby, so he buzzed in as well. Blake and Cee hit the nail on the head by calling her rendition kind, considerate and tender in all the right places. We know what Blake meant by this but lord only knows what Cee meant and that’s probably for the best.
In addition to our first duo of the season, we saw our first 50 year-old in Kim Yarbrough. No early bird special jokes here. This woman is as cool as the other side of the pillow, once having worked security for Dave Matthews Band. You kidding me? There was also the little detail of her working in a potato chip factory (I can’t make this stuff up). The woman doesn’t look a day over 49 and with deep soothing tones, she belted out “Tell Me Something Good” to the delight of Cee-Lo, who started to hump his chair (again, not kidding). After Adam used his best Willy Loman (look it up people), she gladly chose the rock star.
“But you’re beautiful obviously, so congrats on that.” - Adam
It was a bad day for the hotties as Pamela Rose, who Adam congratulated on her looks, and Dez Duron, a Yale football star, were sent packing. Christina took one look at Duron, who sang Backstreet Boys and said “How adorable are you?” Obviously not cute enough.
“I saw a woman in a military outfit singing an incredible Adele song. I was like look at this hot chick singing who’s defending our country.” - Carson
Air Force hottie Angie Johnson has been deployed to the Middle East seven times, and that alone should earn her a spot on the show, but her voice was a nice addition. Carson actually helped get Johnson on the show after seeing a YouTube video of her with over a million hits. Johnson busted out “Heartbreaker” to the delight of Cee-Lo, who was obviously smitten. Even Christina could not pry this war vet away from Cee’s strong, yet little hands. Mark one for Team Cee-Lo.
The highlight of the night for me was Lindsey Pavao who had the stones to sing an acoustic version of “Say Aah” by Trey Songz, who tweeted #LOVE right after her performance. Her Fiona Apple influence was apparent to Christina, Cee and Blake who all buzzed in. Despite Christina creepily saying she wanted to “play” and “experiment” with Pavao, she still got her aboard the Aguilera train.
“I could hear the swag, it sounded like swag” - Cee-Lo
This was one of the more interesting pairings of the night. Jermaine Paul used to sing background vocals for Alicia Keys, but his audition piece was a soulful “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne and instead of going with the natural fit Cee-Lo, he went with Blake. That’s punk, R&B and county all rolled into one blind audition. Now, I think Paul made the right choice here and one that may catapult his career. Blake is not going to give Paul anything and he does not care one bit that he used to sing for Keys. You can just tell these two are going to push each other to their limits. Worse comes to worse, it will make for some entertaining TV.
I swear there must be some singers out there who had a normal life, but they are not on The Voice. Angel Taylor comes from an abusive father and used music as an escape. It was fitting that her audition was “Someone Like You” by Adele and prompted Adam, Blake and Cee-Lo to all fight for her. With a very smoky tone, this girl was absolutely nervous to start but even I could tell there was serious raw talent there. And even though she admitted to having a serious crush on Blake, she chose Adam who we all know has “Moves Like Jagger” (even thought Jagger is 70 and probably has a hip replacement).
After two intense nights, we get a well deserved week off from The Voice to marinate on the singers already chosen by the coaches. It’s time for everyone to pick a side and root for a team. So, the only question I have for you is what’s it going to be: Team Christina, Adam, Cee-Lo or Blake?
What did you think of the show last night? Do you like who was chosen for the teams? Do any of the backstories touch your heart? Let us know with some comments below and find me on Twitter @TheRealRothman.
Coming soon in a theater near you -- heads of women exploding from an overload of handsome.
Ryan Reynolds and Bradley Cooper are set to star in an upcoming untitled action-comedy, written by Sheldon Turner (Up In The Air), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story follows two San Francisco cops in need of some assistance with a case. So they call on their fathers -- who also happen to be former cops and former partners on the force. What follows is an updated, edgier, and R-rated Lethal Weapon style flick (but with Cooper's eyes and Reynolds' smile, it's difficult to imagine something that edgy).
No word yet on who's going to play the fathers -- but hopefully, for the sake of realism, it's some dudes with full heads of hair.
The film's idea originated five years ago, then titled Blowback (good thing they changed that) and was pitched with a little bulkier feel. Dwayne Johnson -- then known as "The Rock" -- was attached to one of the roles.
Reynolds, who's fresh off making kids smile at Comic-Con by reciting the Green Lantern oath (set to release June 2011), stars next month in an indie-thriller called Buried. Cooper also just finished up his action hero duties coming off The A-Team from earlier this summer.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter