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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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
The Bollywood star, whose parents are screen stars Dharmendra and Hema Malini, became engaged to Bharat Takhtani at a private ceremony on Sunday morning (12Feb12).
Close friends and family, including Bollywood's Jaya Bachchan, were there to witness Deol's engagement at her mother's house in north Mumbai.
Deol says, "I am happy and I thank everyone for their blessings."
Mum Hema adds, "We are very happy today for Esha and Bharat. It is a happy moment for all of us. Bharat is a very nice person. It is a private function."
In another overhaul of major elements, The Tourist is facing yet another shift in its casting and direction.
With the lead female role recently moving from Charlize Theron to Angelina Jolie, the lead male character now looks as if it may be played by Johnny Depp. That's after the previously attached Tom Cruise dropped out and was replaced by Sam Worthington. Further, the director's chair, recently said to go to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, now has Alfonso Cuaron circling.
Worthington reportedly exited along with von Donnersmarck over creative differences.
The film is heading towards a February production start. Graham King's GK Films is financing and distributing through his deal with Sony.
A while back, the remake of the 2005 French thriller Anthony Zimmer had Bharat Nalluri directing and Cruise and Theron attached. Worthington came into focus with Theron after Cruise took Knight and Day at Fox. Von Donnersmarck then came into the picture with Jolie.
Depp enters the frame via King, with whom he has a close relationship, most recently collaborating on Rum Diary and the Gore Verbinski-directed animated pic Rango.
The Tourist sees a female Interpol agent rope an everyman American tourist visiting France into becoming bait in the hunt for a wanted criminal who's also her former lover.
Spyglass' remake of Jerome Salle's 2005 thriller Anthony Zimmer is going through another casting shift. Charlize Theron, who had long been attached, has opted out. The Tourist, as the film will be called, may now see Angelina Jolie step in, the Risky Business blog reports.
The move is the latest step in what looks like an A-list game of musical chairs with Theron, Jolie and Tom Cruise the main players.
Cruise was formerly attached to Tourist, but dropped out with Sam Worthington now in for the story of an American vacationer who, on behalf of Interpol, goes undercover to entrap a former lover who's a suspected global criminal.
Cruise had also previously been attached to Salt, which Jolie has just wrapped. Jolie stepped in to replace Cruise in that film in a rare script change that shifted the main character from a man to a woman.
Meanwhile, Jolie has often had her name bandied about in conjunction with a big-screen adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Lately, however, Theron's name has come up as a potential to play protagonist Dagny Taggart.
In any case, The Tourist is seeking a director, as Bharat Nalluri, who had been attached to direct, is as of last week off the project, Biz says.
Neither Spyglass nor the director or actresses' reps could immediately be reached for comment by the blog. Production has been tentatively set for early 2010.
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The Australian actor was drafted in after Cruise dropped out to star alongside Cameron Diaz in a new, as-yet-untitled action comedy from James Mangold.
In The Tourist, Worthington will star alongside Charlize Theron as an American holidaymaker used by an Interpol agent to hunt down a crooked ex-lover.
The film, a remake of 2005's French thriller Anthony Zimmer, will be directed by Bharat Nalluri, according to Variety.com.
Watch out, Katie.
Charlize Theron is negotiating to star with Tom Cruise in The Tourist, the remake of French thriller Anthony Zimmer. Theron would play an Interpol agent who uses an American tourist in an attempt to flush out an elusive criminal with whom she once had an affair. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day's Bharat Nalluri is set to direct, with production expected to begin in March. Theron was most recently seen with Will Smith in Hancock. Next up is next month's The Burning Plain with Kim Basinger and January's The Road with Viggo Mortensen.
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Drab prim and more than a little prudish Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) isn't a very good governess--her rigid personal beliefs keep getting in the way of her ability to hold a job. Homeless and hungry on the streets of 1939 London she's on the verge of despair when fate sends her to Delysia Lafosse's door. Flighty enthusiastic and impulsive Delysia (Amy Adams) is a club singer with aspirations of becoming a serious actress; to achieve her goals she'll literally charm the pants off of any man who can help her--even at the risk of losing her one true love forever. Equally shocked and fascinated by Delysia's sophisticated fast-paced colorful lifestyle Miss Pettigrew uses her brief time as the young woman's faux social secretary to try to save her from herself. At the same time she begins to let go of old fears and finds the way to her own happiness. Miss Pettigrew benefits immensely from the strengths of its two stars. McDormand is both funny and affecting as the title character; she plays a recurring gag in which Miss Pettigrew almost gets to eat with just the right notes of humor and pathos. The twinkle in her eye as she takes the measure of Delysia's world is convincingly conspiratorial and her scenes with co-star Ciaran Hinds who plays courtly lingerie mogul Joe are both sweet and realistic. Adams meanwhile is just as captivating as she was in Enchanted. Delysia's perky effervescence hides both determination and vulnerability and Adams mixes all three elements expertly. The ladies get strong support from their fellas particularly Hinds and Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace who plays Delysia's poor-but-ardent suitor Michael. And Shirley Henderson is perfectly poisonous as socialite/salon owner Edythe. Parts of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day have a distinctly screwball feel -- particularly the early scenes in which Miss P. arrives at Delysia's and must immediately juggle four or five different crises for her new client. The brink-of-World War II setting with its cocktail parties jazz clubs and dames in bright red lipstick encourages that association. But director Bharat Nalluri's movie is also a touching romance with scenes of true poignancy that centers on a complex mature heroine who knows life isn't all roses. His ability to balance the two yields a genuinely funny accessible comedy that has some real depth to back up its lighthearted romping. Even if like Delysia Miss Pettigrew is only a passing presence in your life you'll likely remember her quite fondly.
As part of a continuing investigation into allegations that major Indian crime figures had laundered money through film producers in Bollywood, film star Salman Khan was questioned by authorities in Mumbai Wednesday, presumably about the payments he received for appearing in the film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, which police say was financed by an Indian crime lord now living in Pakistan. Bharat Shah, a diamond merchant who says that he alone financed the film, and Nasim Rizvi, the producer, have remained in custody since their arrests last month after police recorded telephone conversations between them and Karachi-based Indian mob figure, Nasim Rizvi.