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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Fox has just announced the cast of Josh Trank's upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, and things are looking a little left of center. Joining Michael B. Jordan's Johnny Storm will be Miles Teller as Reed Richards, Kate Mara as Sue Storm, and Jamie Bell as The Thing. And while some of these casting's aren't quite set in stone, this is increasingly looking like the final lineup for the film. Saying that the new movie is casting against type would be an understatement. The new cast is virtually unrecognizable compared to the 2005 version, and the internet is erupting in reactions from every inch of the emotional spectrum. From seething rage, to elation, and even mild confusion, The casting of Marvel's first family has people divided in earnest. Here are our thoughts on the casting choices.
MILES TELLERas Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic
A24 via Everett Collection
How He Fits: He kind of doesn't. At all.
How He Deviates: There’s a loveable goofiness to Miles Teller, but we're not quite connecting the dots between him and Reed Richards just yet. He’s not quite nerdy enough, and he definitely doesn’t have a dignified scientist aura to him. We don’t see much of Reed Richards in Teller at all.
How He Compares to Ioan Gruffudd: Worse. Gruffudd was one of the few bright spots of the largely banal first film. He really looked the part of Reed Richards.
Public Consensus: The one phrase to sum up the twitter reactions would be a resounding "Uhhh….What?" People seem to be mostly just confused by the casting choice, and many are complaining that Teller is simply too young to play Reed. Twitter user @dylhorgan asled, "This week in bad superhero movie casting: How is Miles Teller even close to being old enough to play Reed Richards?"
Final Assessment: Teller, for our money, is the biggest question mark of the casting announcement. There isn’t anything about the actor that screams “Mr. Fantastic”, though he was obviously cast for a reason. I guess we’re going to have to wait and see on this one.
KATE MARAas Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman
How She Fits: Physically, Mara seems to be a match for the Sue Storm in the comics, especially since she’s recently dyed her hair blonde. Personality-wise, she seems like a solid choice as well, since Sue is somewhat reserved and shy – Mara plays a lot of quieter characters. Between her ambitious reporter on House of Cards and her hacker/revolution-leader in Transcendence, Mara shouldn’t have any trouble portraying Sue’s genius intellect.
How She Deviates: Mara’s characters tend to be a lot darker than Sue Storm, who gives off a more innocent, all-American vibe, which could affect the way that Sue is written for this reboot.
How She Compares to Jessica Alba: Mara’s definitely a better choice than Alba, who, while not terrible, wasn’t given much to do other than run around and look pretty.
Public Consensus: Fan response to the casting has been overwhelmingly positive. To quote Twitter user @Roby_Aguilar: "OMG. OMG. OMG. MILES TELLER, MICHAEL B. JORDAN, JAMIE BELL & KATE MARA IN FANTASTIC FOUR?!?!?!?!?! God is real. GOD. IS. REAL."
Final Assessment: Mara’s a good choice for Sue Storm. She’s a talented actress, and she doesn’t fit the “bombshell” constraints that female actresses in superhero films tend to get stuck in, which means she will hopefully get more to do onscreen than Alba did. And since it seems to have been the least outrage-stirring casting choice that the team behind this reboot has made, she also seems to be approved by the fans. She generally comes across darker and more serious than Sue is, though, and since we haven’t really seen her play particularly upbeat characters, that could keep her from meshing well with the rest of the cast
MICHAEL B. JORDANas Johnny Storm/The Human Torch
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
How He Fits: Jordan has the natural charm and charisma to play a freewheeling ladies man, but he also has a daring quality to him that a character like Johnny Storm needs. He might not have the necessary physique quite yet, but a quick trip to the gym can fix that.
How He Deviates: The biggest deviation in all of the casting news, Michael B. Jordan is nlack whereas Johnny Storm has always been portrayed as a white man. Cue the Twitter riots.
How He Compares to Chris Evans: Better. Now don't get us wrong, Evans played a fine Johnny Storm. But over the past few years, Jordan has proven himself to be a monumental young talent. While Evans certainly had Johnny Storm's trademark wit in spades, Jordan might be able to mine the character's hidden depths while still cracking wise and getting the girls.
Public Consensus: Many have commented on Jordan’s race being an issue, but (optimistically!) an emerging tide of Twitter users are trumpeting the actor's talents, laying waste to the idiotic arguments that a black Human Torch is "sacrilege." Twitter user @ZachLNFS tweeted “Michael B. Jordan is the one bright spot in the Fantastic Four cast and, of course, the most derided. Good job, Fox. Good job, internet." Other’s are wondering how Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan are going to play siblings. We're guessing adoption.
Final Assessment: The actor clearly has the goods to play a terrific Johnny Storm, despite what some of the seedier corners of the Twittersphere think about race in comic books. Ignorant tirades aside, he’s clearly the best actor of the bunch and a considerable step up from the previous Human Torch.
JAMIE BELLas Ben Grimm/The Thing
Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
How He Fits: Once Ben Grimm becomes The Thing, he has a lot of trouble dealing with his new powers, which take a toll on him emotionally. Bell plays a lot of brooding characters, which means he would have no trouble portraying all of the inner turmoil that The Thing is experiencing.
How He Deviates: Ben and The Thing are huge, strong, muscular guys, whereas Bell is… not. This is less important after he turns into The Thing, but since we don’t know how much of the group’s origins the film will focus on, it might be difficult to believe that Bell spent his childhood protecting Teller from bullies. Ben’s also a pretty happy-go-lucky guy, while Bell tends to come across as serious and brooding.
How He Compares to Michael Chiklis: When it comes to giant orange space rock monsters, nobody beats Michael Chiklis.
Public Consensus: It’s pretty mixed. There are plenty of people who are excited about his casting, but many are concerned that’s he’s not built enough to play the role properly – for example, Twitter user @BCCrooky said they would "like to see Jamie bell, scrawny Jamie bell who played tinting, as Ben Grimm aka the thing."
Final Assessment: We probably would have swapped Bell and Teller’s roles, if we’re being honest. Bell just seems to work better as a serious, genius scientist, while Teller seems more likely to play his upbeat sidekick. However, Ben has a difficult time dealing with his transformation, which caused a lot of psychological trauma; Bell would definitely be able to play those aspects of the character really well. Since he’ll likely spend most of the film being CGIed into his rocky form, his acting ability is probably more important than his physical appearance in the end.
Bono and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin helped raise $26 million (£17.3 million) for charity by singing at a star-studded auction in New York on Saturday (23Nov13). The U2 frontman teamed with top designers Sir Jonathon Ive and Marc Newson to put together a collection of specially designed luxury items, from companies such as Hermes and Apple, for Jony and Marc's (RED) Auction at Sotheby's in Manhattan.
The event included a performance by Bono and Martin, who joined forces to sing a medley of U2's Beautiful Day and Lou Reed's Perfect Day, with the Coldplay star playing a custom-built red grand piano which was sold for $1.9 million (£1.3 million).
Other items featured in the sale included a storm trooper helmet from the Star Wars franchise signed by George Lucas which sold for $245,000 (£163,333).
The auction was attended by more than 1,000 guests including Harrison Ford, Meg Ryan, Courtney Love and Hayden Panettiere, and it raised around $13 million (£8.7 million) for Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The final total came in at around $26 million (£17.3 million) after executives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to double the sales figure.
Late music legend Lou Reed will be remembered at a tribute show in New York City on Sunday (24Nov13). The concert, which will be held at Manhattan's Bowery Electric, will feature members of The Vaccines, Patti Smith Band guitarist Lenny Kaye, Reed's former collaborator Shahzad Ismaily and rockers Hollis Brown, who will perform the Velvet Undergound's 1970 record Loaded in its entirety.
Proceeds from the gig, titled Last Great American Whale: A Concert in Memory of Lou Reed, will go to the Ali Forney Center, a charity which helps the homeless.
Reed died last month (Oct13) at the age of 71.
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.
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Enrique Iglesias, Fall Out Boy, Josh Hutcherson, Kevin Jonas and Nikki Reed were among the stars who joined host Nick Cannon to honour outstanding youngsters at the TeenNick HALO Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday (17Nov13). Mariah Carey's husband launched the Nickelodeon bash in 2009 to honour teenagers who are making a difference in their communities by "helping and leading others", and he returned to host the 2013 show at the Hollywood Palladium.
During the concert, four teens were honoured for their community service work and the ceremony featured performances from Fall Out Boy, Austin Mahone and Enrique Iglesias, who closed the event.
Other guests at the bash included Dax Shepard, Darren Criss, Chloe Bennet and Jennette McCurdy.
Cannon says of the 2013 event, "I'm humbled by the truly inspiring and tremendous work these HALO honorees are doing in their communities. It's my goal to continue the conversations about issues that impact teens today, and empower young people to take action and make a difference in the world."
Lou Reed's widow Laurie Anderson attended a stirring memorial to her late husband in New York City on Thursday (14Nov13). Fans were invited to pay their respects to the rock legend, who lost his battle with liver disease on 27 October (13), at a sombre event near Lincoln Center's Paul Milstein Pool and Terrace on Tuesday (12Nov13) via a post on Reed's Facebook.com page.
New York: Lou Reed at Lincoln Center was advertised as "a gathering open to the public - no speeches, no live performances, just Lou's voice, guitar music & songs - playing the recordings selected by his family and friends".
Fans turned up in their droves as loudspeakers pumped out classic Reed tunes like Sally Can't Dance, Heroin, I'm Waiting for the Man and Sweet Jane, and they were treated to an appearance by Anderson, who briefly walked among them and stopped to chat with a few mourning devotees.
A memorial service for Lou Reed is set to take place in New York on Thursday (14Nov13). The gathering will be held at The Paul Milstein Pool & Terrace at Lincoln Center and will feature tracks by the rocker in lieu of speeches.
Morrissey will release his rendition of Lou Reed's classic song Satellite Of Love to mark the rock icon's death last month (Oct13). The former The Smiths frontman performed the track during a taped concert in Las Vegas in November, 2011, and now three years on, he has announced he will release the cover as a tribute to Reed.
The song will also mark the release of the audiobook version of his hit memoirs Autobiography and will be available to buy from 2 December (13).
Satellite of Love first appeared on Reed's seminal 1972 album Transformer. Reed died at home in New York on 27 October (13) after a battle with liver disease.
Actor Jackson Rathbone is trying to persuade his Twilight co-star Nikki Reed to get pregnant, so his baby son Monroe has a playmate. Rathbone's new wife Sheila Hafsadi gave birth to the couple's first child last year (12) and now the movie vampire is urging the boy's godmother to start making family plans with her musician husband Paul McDonald.
He says, "Nikki will be an amazing mom, so we're trying to infect her with baby fever so we can have an amazing kid for Monroe to play with. We want him to have a little buddy."
And is seems little Monroe will have a sibling or two in the very near future - his proud dad is keen to add to the family.
He tells People.com, "We kind of hope that we’ll have twins, a little boy and girl."