The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
The Writers Guild announced its screen nominees this morning with Best Original screenplay nods going to Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for (500) Days of Summer, James Cameron for Avatar, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore for The Hangover, Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker and Joel and Ethan Coen for A Serious Man.
Contenders in the adapted screenplay category are Scott Cooper for Crazy Heart, based on the novel by Thomas Cobb; Nora Ephron for Julie & Julia, based on the books Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme; Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman for Star Trek, based upon Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Up in the Air, based on the novel by Walter Kirn.
Documentary screenplay nominations are: Richard Trank for Against the Tide, Michael Moore for Capitalism: A Love Story, Mark Monroe for The Cove, Robert Stone for Earth Days, Chris Rock & Jeff Stilson and Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar for Good Hair, and Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman for Soundtrack for a Revolution.
The 2010 Writers Guild Awards will be held on Saturday, February 20, simultaneously at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City.
Steve Carell and Tina Fey, who will be seen together in next year's Date Night, are loosely attached to star in Mail-Order Groom, a Warner Bros. comedy.
According to reports, Bad Santa scribes Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have come on board to do a light rewrite of the script, which was originally written by Robert Carlock and Scott Silveri from a story based on an idea by Fey's husband, Jeff Richmond, along with Carlock and Silveri.
The story follows a naive single woman who can't find love and ends up with a mail-order husband from Eastern Europe. The film is expected to be in the vein of Borat and in the tone of 30 Rock, according to Pajiba, which also says Warners has the project tentatively lined up to shoot in April.
The film has no director but The Los Angeles Times reports that the studio's shortlist includes Jay Roach, Richard Linklater and Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris. The latter pair directed Carell in Little Miss Sunshine while Linklater directed the Ficarra/Requa-scripted Bad News Bears remake.
The only window for Carell and Fey to shoot would be the hiatus of their NBC TV shows, The Office and 30 Rock, respectively, notes The Hollywood Reporter. Fey wraps Rock in late March. Carell is currently filming Dinner for Schmucks during his winter hiatus.
Carell's Carousel Prods. and Fey's Little Stranger are producing Groom.
To those only vaguely familiar with The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold’s bestselling novel about a murdered teen who observes her family — and tracks her killer — from beyond Peter Jackson might seem like an odd choice to direct the film adaptation. Why would the visual effects maestro who orchestrated such grand spectacle in films like King Kong and the Lord of the Rings trilogy be attracted to Bones’ somber reflective subject matter wherein nary an orc or a goblin can be found?
Shortly after the film's opening moments Jackson’s definitive answer arrives in the form of the “in-between place ” a breathtaking limbo where our wide-eyed heroine 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) arrives after her life is cruelly cut short by a next-door neighbor and closet predator named ominously enough Mr. Harvey (Stanley Tucci). Susie’s experience of the afterlife as a sort of spiritual way-station featuring elements of both heaven and hell (but mostly heaven) is a veritable CGI playground for Jackson one in which he can employ all of the digital tools in his vast arsenal in the service of a powerful affecting story.
And what a gorgeous playground it is. As Susie journeys through her wondrous netherworld — sometimes alone sometimes accompanied by a perky young spirit guide named Holly (Nikki SooHoo) — Jackson serves up a succession of exquisitely rendered landscapes for her to explore from placid spring meadows to boundless Alpine slopes to lush green forests. Jackson knows all too well that the issue of life after death especially when considered in regards to those who left us too soon is fertile emotional ground. With the help of an irresistibly expressive Ronan he mines it shrewdly.
Back on Earth unfortunately The Lovely Bones takes the form of a poorly-constructed deeply unsatisfying police procedural. Frustrated by the authorities’ inability to find the killer Susie's anguished father (Mark Wahlberg) mounts an investigation of his own aided occasionally in Ghost-like fashion by his daughter’s unseen hand. Tension rises as the mystery unravels — Jackson having drawn us in with his shamelessly manipulative handiwork has us by the emotional short-hairs so much so that we’re willing to overlook the film’s gap-laden storyline redundant narration underdeveloped supporting characters and a generally underwhelming Wahlberg. We just want payback damnit.
But when The Lovely Bones’ moment of truth arrives Susie abruptly changes her mind effectively turning almost every preceding plot point into an infuriating red herring and depriving us of the emotional release Jackson so steadfastly prepared us for. What we’re left with ultimately is an experience akin to taking a shot of morphine and watching someone play the videogame Myst for two hours (a span that might very well be reduced to 45 minutes if the film’s copious slow-motion shots were all played at normal speed). And once the anodyne buzz wears off the comedown is agonizing.
Amreeka and Sin Nombre also made the list, which was announced in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning (01Dec09).
The Last Station, which chronicles the final days of Russian author Leo Tolstoy, and the acclaimed Precious scored the most nominations with five each.
Early Oscar favourite The Hurt Locker missed out on a nomination because it was selected last year (08).
Maria Bello (Downloading Nancy), Nisreen Faour (Amreeka), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Gywneth Paltrow (Two Lovers) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) will fight for the Best Female Lead prize, while the Best Male Lead honour will be contested by Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ((500) Days of Summer) Souleymane Sy Savane (Goodbye Solo) and Adam Scott (The Vicious Kind).
Meanwhile, Ethan & Joel Coen (A Serious Man), Lee Daniels (Precious) and Michael Hoffman (The Last Station) lead the Best Director nominations list.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Food, Inc., More Than a Game, October Country and Which Way Home will battle for the Best Documentary honours, while A Prophet, An Education, Everlasting Moments, Mother and The Maid will compete for Best Foreign Film.
To be eligible for an Independent Spirit nod, all films must have been made for less than $20 million (£12.5 million). Films must have either screened at a major film festival including Sundance, Toronto or Film Independent’s own Los Angeles Film Festival or had a one-week engagement at a commercial theatre.
The awards will be handed out in Los Angeles on 5 March (10).
Does Fox Searchlight have a country-music Wrestler up its sleeve? That's the buzz surrounding Crazy Heart, for which the specialty division has scheduled a surprise, last-minute screening. The film is still dated for release next year, but the thinking is that this could be a warm-up for a 2009 release and awards push, says the blogosphere.
Searchlight was the darling of the awards season last year with both The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire. Given the lukewarm response to this year’s one-time hopeful Amelia, says the Risky Business blog, the outfit may now be putting its muscle behind Crazy Heart, the country-music drama starring Jeff Bridges.
Searchlight does have another serious awards-season contender in (500) Days of Summer, a candidate for an original screenplay nod. And, in the mind of The Big Picture blog, the studio must be betting that Bridges -- perennially one of Hollywood's most-underrated actors -- could land some best actor nominations.
Crazy Heart marks Scott Cooper's directional debut. The film is based on Thomas Cobb's novel and centers on a washed-up country singer who gets his life back on track thanks to the help of a female reporter, and a close but complicated relationship with a younger country star.
T-Bone Burnett serves as a producer, and Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall also star.
Company reps, BIZ says, aren't formally confirming that there's a calendar move or awards-push in the offing, but given how much Searchlight has been a fixture on the Oscar circuit the past few years -- and how high expectations are for this film, which execs have been buzzing about for several months -- it would almost be odd if they didn't.
TBP reports that sources say Searchlight is planning a limited Dec. 11 release in Los Angeles and New York before taking the film wider early next year.
The rumors are true: Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy will star in George Miller's long-awaited continuation of the Mad Max franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road. Miller is set to start filming next August in Australia.
Hardy has previously been seen in films like Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla and Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. He also has a role in Christopher Nolan's upcoming Inception.
His name had been bandied about recently for the newest Mad Max, although Australian paper The Daily Telegraph was putting Sam Worthington in the role earlier this week.
Theron next appears in The Road.
The logline on the script is being kept under wraps, but the Heat Vision blog says the movie takes place a short while after the story detailed in the last Max movie, Thunderdome.
Doug Mitchell is producing with Miller. Warner Bros. is set to distribute.
Miller had announced last weekend that preproduction work was starting in New South Wales, but he didn't give any indication as to whether Mel Gibson might return or who would play the male lead. "It could be Mel, it could be anyone," he told reporters.
Miller and the 21-year-old Gibson launched their careers with Mad Max in 1979. Sequels came in 1981 with The Road Warrior and in 1985 with Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
Fox 2000's dramedy Town House is coming together after a long gestation period.
Variety reports that Zach Galifianakis and Amy Adams are said to be in talks to star in the film that Once helmer John Carney came aboard 2007. Ridley and Tony Scott are producing.
The story, Variety says, is loosely based on Tish Cohen's debut novel of the same name, which centers on an agoraphobic man who lives with his teenage son in a historic Boston townhouse that he inherited from his rock-star father. With royalties from his father's work dwindling, the man is forced to come to terms with his life. A call girl strikes up a friendship with the man.
Fox 2000 is eyeing a summer 2010 start date.
This would be a detour from the comedy roles Galifianakis has lined up since his breakout in this summer's The Hangover.
Adams recently wrapped production on David O. Russell's The Fighter, alongside Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.
Ridley Scott is talking to Angelina Jolie about a role in Gucci, the director's drama about murder and decadence in the Gucci fashion dynasty.
Media reports say Jolie would play Patrizia Reggiano, who was sentenced to 29 years in jail for plotting the murder of her ex-husband, Maurizio Gucci. Scott has approached Leonardo DiCaprio to play Maurizio, but he is not attached at this point.
Fox 2000, for which the project is a priority, is eyeing a 2010 start date. Scott Free and Giannina Facio are producing.
The studio is hiring a writer to work from Charles Randolf's current draft of the script, which follows the drama that highlights the glamorous days of the Gucci family dynasty in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Infighting hobbled the clan until Maurizio, the grandson of founder Guccio Gucci, came out on top of a power struggle to run the family business.
In 1995, gearing up to reestablish the brand name via then-newcomer designer Tom Ford, Maurizio was gunned down in front of his Milan apartment.
Jolie is likely to next star in The Tourist, the Spyglass thriller that has Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in line to direct. Scott is in post-production with Robin Hood for Universal Pictures and Imagine.
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Variety has confirmed a rumor floated by the Scriptshadow blog earlier this month: Columbia Pictures and director David Fincher have set the core cast for the so-called Facebook movie, The Social Network.
Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield have all been signed to key roles.
Eisenberg will play Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg; Timberlake will play Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder who became Facebook's founding president; and Garfield will play Eduardo Saverin, the Facebook co-founder who fell out with Zuckerberg over money.
Aaron Sorkin wrote the drama based on the book by Ben Mezrich, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal.
Production will begin next month in Boston and then move to Los Angeles.
Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Cean Chaffin will produce. Kevin Spacey is exec producer.
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