Over the last year or so, Steven Spielberg has teamed with a variety of high-profile filmmakers to get an astounding number of projects off the ground. He made the sci-fi western Cowboys and Aliens with Jon Favreau, the sci-fi sports drama Real Steel with Shawn Levy and the sci-fi sci-fi flick Super 8 with J.J. Abrams on the big screen, but has been just as prolific on the small screen with Terra Nova, Falling Skies and Smash. Last night, he launched The River on ABC, a new series as ambitious as LOST and as creepy as creator Oren Peli’s breakthrough film Paranormal Activity. A pairing of tastemakers as influential as these two was bound to be something special, and below I’ve listed four notions that I took away from its two-hour premiere. (You should also check out our exclusive interview with star Joe Anderson).
But first a little background: The show starts off when Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), a beloved TV personality who made a career out of exploring the Amazon with his show “The Undiscovered Country”, disappears. Six months later, with no trace of him, his crew or his ship The Magus, the search effort is called off, but his doting wife scrambles together a crack team of interested parties to pick up where the professionals left off. In tow are two cameramen charged with documenting their quest, a private security expert, a navigator who worked with Cole in the past (and his daughter), the daughter of one of Cole’s closest confidantes and her own son who bears a chip on his shoulder thanks to his father’s enthusiasm to entertain the masses at the price of his own childhood. When they set out to locate Emmet, they make a startling discovery that none of them were prepared for.
The Scares are in the Setting
ABC’s LOST took place on a mysterious Island, and throughout the series we explored its various landmarks, hatches and temples. The showrunners were able to take natural environments like forests and caves as well as artificial constructs and make them characters unto themselves with startling physical features and sound effects that were branded into our minds. The River, with an Amazonian adventure and a supernatural narrative at its heart, is capable of the same inherent terror. We are plunged into the darkness of The Magus in the first hour of the show, and the lack of visibility coupled with the found-footage filming style makes for a jarring, original experience for TV fans.
The River is the Anti-Once Upon a Time
While alphabet vets Ed Kitsis and Adam Horowitz paint a kid-friendly portrait of the sunny side of magic with Once Upon a Time, The River aims to provide mature audiences with a darker and more sinister look at what can be done with the fantastic fictional practice. It becomes evident early on in the premiere event that Emmet Cole was involved with Occult forces, and director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, Orphan) brings them to life with old-school techniques and digital effects. Given the flux of sunny fairytale adaptations we’ve seen recently on the small and silver screen, it’s refreshing to see someone take a different approach toward magic, one that is sure to deliver lots of thrills as the series progresses.
Every Show Could Use a Smoke Monster
The River’s biggest draw is its unseen enemy. The show teases a supernatural antagonist early on in the pilot and its significance is made pretty clear with backstory that ties to the travellers’ mission. It’s not as mysterious as the Island’s smoke monster – we learn what it might be by the end of the first hour – but its effect on the characters is substantial. My theory? Every show could use an external force to shake things up. Think about what Grey’s Anatomy could do with the ghosts of patients past running through Seattle Grace, or how much more interesting 24 would’ve been had Jack Bauer contended with the spirits of all the men he’d killed? I’m only kind of joking here people…
More Bruce Greenwood, Please
Overall, the cast of The River left me unimpressed. The performances that made the cut feel more like read-throughs than the real thing, and a few of the actors really took me out of the experience. Bruce Greenwood, however, makes up for what the rest of the roster lacks in dramatic believability. We see his character in non-linear fashion through old scenes of the “Undiscovered Country” show and in found-footage that the rescue team stumbles upon, and it’s fascinating to watch Cole’s descent into madness in this way. One moment you’re watching a family man in his prime, the next you see a deeply flawed, frightened and paranoid individual who’s obviously in over his head. He’s playing two characters with Cole, and I hope we get to see more of both throughout the series as finding him will answer many questions about what’s going bump in the night out there in the Amazon.
If San Diego Comic-Con is the Frodo of pop culture gatherings, than New York Comic-Con is its Samwise Gamgee. Or, better, if San Diego Comic-Con is the Professor X of pop culture gatherings, than New York Comic-Con is its Cyclops. OK, ok—if San Diego Comic-Con is the Han Solo of pop culture gatherings, than New York Comic-Con is its Chewbacca…is this making sense?
We here at Hollywood are always ready to channel our inner fanboy when it comes to comic conventions, sniffing out the latest and greatest in movies and TV geekery. We braved the crowds of this year's San Diego Comic-Con and we'll do it again this coming weekend, October 14 - 16, to tackle SDCC's east coast companion, New York Comic-Con.
Whether you'll be in attendance or not, you'll want to take a look at what's in store for your favorite properties, as news will be flying from the panels and booths all four days. Here's Part 1 of our NYCC Preview (click the links to find out times/locations):
Friday, October 14:
Star Wars: The Blueprints by J.W. Rinzler
The author of The Making of Star Wars gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how designers created the world of the legendary saga.
Once Upon a Time Screening and Panel
Lost and Tron Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz serve up an advanced screening of their fairytale show and discuss what to expect once debuts October 23.
A look at the new MTV animated show starring Adam Brody, Josh Gad, Alan Tudyk and Olivia Thirlby, created by David Gordon Green, director of Pineapple Express and Your Highness.
Locke & Key Pilot Screening
The axed FOX horror show screened for the SDCC crowd and now it's the Big Apple's turn. Can the response breath new life into the network's interest?
Is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo a Superhero?
Comic pros debate whether the famed trilogy's heroine is superhero material before the movie adaptation's December release.
Batman: Arkham City
NYCC audiences will get the scoop on the Nolan-inspired video game sequel. Kevin Conroy, the legendary voice of Batman, and Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez will be in attendance.
SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! An Audio Misadventure
The Sundance hit documentary, chronicling the bizarre history of the world's first viral hit, screens for Con-goers.
DC Animated Original Movies
DC Animation mastermind Bruce Timm will present a look at the direct-to-DVD studio's upcoming slate, including Batman: Year One, Catwoman and Justince League: Doom
The Venture Bros.
Show creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick will discuss the highly praised animated series, as well as taking questions from fans (which you can submit here!).
Marvel: Anime on G4
Jeph Loeb takes the stage to preview the upcoming X-Men anime series and announce the first casting for Blade.
Seth Green will be on hand to discuss and preview the next season of his animated sketch comedy show which premieres October 23.
The network goes all out with a preview of all of their returning shows including South Park, Ugly Americans and Nick Swarsdon's Pretend Time.
Jay and Silent Bob Get Old
The infamous filmmaker-turned-pocaster Kevin Smith and his partner in crime Jason Mewes will fill the theater seats for a live taping of their show.
Head here for Part 2 of Our New York Comic-Con Preview!
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
The 1982 science fiction classic was rebooted with a big screen sequel, with the original film's star Jeff Bridges reprising his role as the software engineer who created the arcade game universe.
Tron: Legacy has proved popular with film fans, grossing more than $165 million (£110 million) worldwide since its release earlier this month (Dec10), and now it has been revealed the sequel will be followed by a TV show featuring the voice of Wood.
Tron: Legacy screenwriter Adam Horowitz tells Boxofficemagazine.com, "There's a 10-part micro series that will premiere next summer... We've hired an incredible team... We hesitate to tell too much just yet, but it will fill in the blanks of some things, and also explore some new areas as well... Bruce Boxleitner is in it, Elijah Wood, Linda Moore, Paul Reubens, Lance Henriksen. I mean, we've got a really cool group of actors."
Despite the deluge of comic book adaptations that have made their way to the big screen in the last decade, M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable remains one of my favorite superhero movies of all time, and proves beyond a doubt that Shyamalan can be an extremely masterful filmmaker when he takes his time with a story and sticks to the basics - like character development - which he overlooked with The Last Airbender. So I was intrigued to see today on MTV's Splashpage the elusive director talking explicitly about a possible sequel to his 2000 thriller and its connection to his planned 'Night Chronicles' trilogy, of which the upcoming Devil is the first part.
"I cannibalized the idea for the sequel to Unbreakable for one of the 'Night Chronicles,' Shyamalan told MTV's Josh Horowitz. "It was such a cool idea for a villain, and it was actually originally in the script for Unbreakable, and it was too much. There were too many villains, so I pulled this villain out and was like, 'I'll make this the second flick.'"
But as time went on, Shyamalan's villain came to be co-opted into his upcoming 'Night Chronicles' trilogy, which he will neither write nor direct, though he conceived the stories and will produce - a smart move after The Last Airbender received such negative criticism. "I fleshed it out more and more, and thought, 'This could be a standalone movie," he continued. "I'll just say it: the third 'Night Chronicles' movie is what would have been the sequel [to Unbreakable]. So now I need to come up with a new idea."
I, for one, hope Shyamalan develops a bad case of writer's block. Unbreakable was a fantastic movie - probably the director's best - but not one that requires a sequel. What made the film great was its hidden (spoilers ahead!) setup: it's a superhero origin story disguised as a slow-paced drama about a failed marriage. What makes the movie work is that we don't realize we're watching Bruce Willis becoming a hero almost until the very end; it's one of the few Shyamalan "gotcha" twists that really works (unlike in The Village). A sequel could only be another superhero movie, which would lack the magic and mystery of the original. Still, I'm intrigued that a character and storyline that Shyamalan had planned for Unbreakable or its sequel will be coming to the screen as the third installment of the director's 'Night Chronicles' project.
Until then, we'll have the trilogy's first installment, Devil, in theaters September 17, followed by Twelve Strangers, a thriller seemingly inspired by Sidney Lumet's Twelve Angry Men - about a jury deliberating a murder case - this time with supernatural elements. You can check out the full MTV interview below:
Movie Trailers - Movies Blog
Today marked a sunny day for The Dark Knight.
Also for a guy who grows younger as he gets older and a kid who beats all odds to win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The Producers Guild of America has announced its nominations for best movies, documentaries and TV shows. Nods in this movie category often foreshadow what’s to come by way of Oscar later on.
The 20th Annual PGA Awards will take place Jan. 24 at the Hollywood Paladium.
The complete list of nominees is as follows. First, for theatrical movies:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall
The Dark Knight
And for documenaries:
Man on Wire
Standard Operating Procedure
Julie Bilson Ahlberg
Trouble the Water
And for animation:
Kung Fu Panda
And for episodic TV/comedy:
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Lori Jo Nemhauser
And for episodic TV/drama:
David E. Kelley
Mark A. Baker
Todd A. Kessler
Robert Lloyd Lewis
Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
And for "nonfiction" TV:
Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List
Lisa M. Tucker
This American Life
And for "live and competition" TV:
Bertram van Munster
Hayma “Screech” Washington
The Colbert Report
Stephen T. Colbert, DFA
Real Time with Bill Maher
And for "long-form" TV"
Bernard and Doris
A Raisin in the Sun
Finally, honorary awards and recipients:
Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television
MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson
The Stanley Kramer Award
Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen
MORE NEWS: It's Dolly and Charlie Romijn-O'Connell!