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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The producers of Natalie Portman's new film Jane Got A Gun are suing the movie's former director, who quit the project a day before shooting began in March (13). The executives, led by Scott Steindorff, claim Lynne Ramsay was paid $750,000 (GBP500,000) for a job she didn't complete, and they have filed documents in court in New Mexico alleging her departure delayed the production.
In paperwork obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the producers also claim Ramsay was "abusive to members of the cast and crew and was generally disruptive," adding, she "failed to adhere to proper safety protocol for handling weapons on set, when she pointed a prop gun directly at a camera and, in turn, at the camera crew before first taking proper precautions."
Producers are demanding that Ramsay pays back her salary, and they are also seeking punitive damages over claims of fraud and breach of contract.
The We Need to Talk About Kevin director was replaced by Gavin O'Connor.
The project has also struggled with casting troubles - Michael Fassbender was replaced by Jude Law, who was in turn replaced by Bradley Cooper, who exited the film in May (13).
Portman and Joel Edgerton stayed with the movie and were joined by Ewan McGregor when filming eventually got underway this summer (13).
There are levels of Trek fandom, never more apparent during the week of Star Trek Into Darkness' release. The causal viewer knows the names of the main characters, has seen a handful of episodes from all of the various series and caught each big screen adaptation as they've hit theaters. True "Trekkers" take it to the next level, absorbed in creator Gene Roddenberry's Utopian vision. They dress up in Federation-approved uniforms, debate the details of the franchise's mythology, and make their own treks to annual conventions.
But it can get even more hardcore. Take Steve Nighteagle, who is currently in the process of turning his home into a replica of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The results are something to behold.
"I work on it 7 1/2 months out of year!" Nighteagle tells DestasaBlog. The interior makeover seems to be partially out of love for Trek, partially out of a need for an all-consuming hobby. "Without filling in the rest of the year doing sci-fi I would be like a lot of folks who sit in a chair watching the boob tube. Too many years like that would put me in the grave!"
Nighteagle's investment in Trek lore is especially apparent when he describes watching the franchise's second theatrical installment, The Wrath of Khan, for the first time. "When Spock died…I couldn't believe it! I knew Leonard was very iffy about doing another movie! What was Star Trek going to do with this crew in future movies (without Spock)? It would be like eating a apple without your hands!" he says.
Click the image above or this link to get an inside look at Nighteagle's mind-blowing Star Trek house, which also includes built-in references to Duncan Jones 2009' sci-fi flick Moon. Sure, why not?
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More: The Craziest 'Star Trek' Theory You'll Read Today'Star Trek Into Darkness': OMG Faces EditionHow 'DS9' Became the Best Trek
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Let's face it the world of Hollywood pirating — with its peglegs eyepatches shoulder parrots and bounty of other swashbuckling tropes — is pretty silly. Even a high seas adventure like Pirates of the Caribbean has the ridiculous Jack Sparrow to help it hobble along. Pushing the comedy can only work in pirate movie's favor and Aardman Animation's Pirates! A Band of Misfits goes all out seizing the absurdity with a flare only British sensibilities could conjure. The film is a treasure trove of design and technical wizardry but for those less interested in the intricacies of stop motion animation Pirates!'s simple story packs plenty of low-key laughs that viewers all ages can pick up.
The Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant) is at wit's end. While he's enjoyed his time leading a ragtag group of wannabe pirates including Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin) Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen) and his number two Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) a lifestyle of eating ham and barely making ends meet is losing its luster. When Pirate Captain shows up to the annual Pirate of the Year submission day he's once again outdone by Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) who rides in on a whale full of gold. Driven by competition Pirate Captain reassembles his crew hits the open waters and begins a new wave of pillaging. It's all for naught until the pirates cross paths with Charles Darwin (David Tennant) who identifies Pirate Captain's "parrot" as an extinct dodo bird. Suddenly the pirates have a new (and lucrative) calling: science.
There's an unexpected intelligence to Pirates!. The movie based on a children's book of the same name centers on Pirate Captain's mid-life crisis delves into the world of 18th century science and pegs Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) as the mastermind bad guy behind the elimination of the pirate occupation. That gives the accompanying adults plenty to chew (and laugh) on but director Peter Lord doesn't stray away from an ol' fashioned slapstick routine. There's a marvelous stray bathtub sequence halfway through the film a wild ride through Charles Darwin's old tudor house that's a true spectacle. But even a simple gag involving baking soda and vinegar exploding sud bubbles is expertly crafted and executed by Lord.
The stop motion technique never feels limited in Pirates! even with a great deal of walking and talking scenes. Gideon Defoe's script is elevated by the vocal performances; Grant is perfectly cast as the faux-burly Pirate Captain while Martin Freeman's perfected "timid skeptic" routine from The Office and Sherlock is once again on full display. The Aardman team continues to have a knack for gesturing their puppets uniquely natural and human. Even with all the enormous pirate ships detailed cityscapes and dazzling action Pirates! is at its best when it focuses on the sillier calmer moments.
The tangibility of Pirates! A Band of Misfits comes through in its physical stop-motion animation techniques but also its genuine heart. There's a rare reality to the storytelling even at its most fantastical. While the film doesn't hit the same emotional chords as some of Pixar or Dreamworks' best you would need an X-marked map to find a Hollywood cartoon as sweet and heartfelt. So don't walk the plank on this one — board with kids in tow immediately.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.
The Wrap reported early Thursday morning that a deal has finally been reached in the late-night debacle at NBC.
Conan O'Brien and NBC have finally put pen to paper on a $40 million-plus breakup agreement, O'Brien's manager told the Web site.
The final sticking point, according to manager Gavin Polone, was severance for O'Brien's staff.
"It's signed. In the end, Conan was appreciative of the steps NBC made to take care of his staff and crew and decided to supplement the severance they were getting out of his own pocket," Polone told The Wrap.
"Now he just wants to get back on the air as quickly as possible."
O'Brien will end his seven-month Tonight Show run on Friday.
Then, it's expected that on March 1, Tonight will return with new/old host Jay Leno.
O'Brien will be free to begin work for another network on Sept. 1, a person familiar with the deal told TW.
Many Americans can remember where they were in 1980 when the USA's Olympic hockey team beat the USSR's and no wonder. It was a moment Sports Illustrated would go on to dub the single greatest sports moment of the 20th century. Not only does Miracle let you relive that glorious event it goes even further back chronicling not only the team's history but also America's mindset during the last decade of the Cold War. "Our psyche was fractured " director Gavin O'Connor explains. "We were a nation feeling really sorry for ourselves. Long gas lines. Inflation through the roof. The [Iranian] hostage crisis. No summer [Olympic] games. We were desperate for something to wrap our arms around anything to offer us hope. And then out of nowhere come these 20 kids." Specifically a U.S. Olympic hockey team handpicked by a very determined coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) from talented college players all over the country. The film focuses on Brooks the sacrifices he--and especially his family--makes his doubts and his dogged mission to turn the motley crew into champions using the Soviets' techniques and combining them with the best of the Canadian and European schools. He tells his players he will be their coach but not their friend and he works them to the bone until they emerge at Lake Placid a lean mean fighting machine with enough spirit to take on the world's most formidable hockey organization--and win.
Russell is a bit of an underdog himself; he's underrated but seemingly game for anything and he sinks his teeth into his portrayal of Brooks. Russell transforms himself--Minnesota accent and all--into the real-life hockey coach (who died right before Miracle's principal photography started) without much sentimentality or fanfare playing bad cop to Noah Emmerich's (Beyond Borders) good one as assistant coach Craig Patrick. Patricia Clarkson turns another fine performance as Brooks' wife Patti who never lets her husband forget what really matters even as his obsession threatens to take over their lives. The difficulty in casting Miracle however was finding talented hockey players who could also act. Filmmakers had to narrow some 4 000 contenders down to just 20 or so--an arduous process that proved worthwhile. The players all generally seem very natural in front of the camera and on the ice they really come alive. The only recognizable face belongs to Eddie Cahill best known for playing Rachel's younger boyfriend on TV's Friends as the team's star goalie Jim Craig. Because the character's mother died right before the Olympic trials it's definitely the most dramatic role of all the players and Cahill handles the job well.
A film like this has to maintain momentum if it's going to work--the narrative has to keep the audience engaged because they already know how the movie's going to end. Last year's Seabiscuit faced the same issue but thanks to its rich background stories and vibrant characters that film under the guidance of director Gary Ross drew audiences in and held their attention. Unfortunately Miracle doesn't pull this feat off nearly as well. Director O'Connor (Tumbleweeds) delivers flashes of poignancy especially between Brooks and his wife and the film tries hard not to slip into sappy "gee-coach-we're-a-family-now-and-we're-ready-to-win" moments. But it happens. If you've seen it once you've seen it a dozen times even in classic sports movie like Hoosiers that get away with it: the rah-rah speeches the tension as the team seems to fall apart and the ultimate victory of the underdogs who overcome great obstacles to become champions. Of course having said all that Miracle's payoff is still pretty spectacular. O'Connor and his team put you right there on the ice and you find yourself wrapped up in the game either for the first time or the hundredth cheering at each body check breakaway and goal. Miracle indeed captures a heroic moment in sports history.