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.
If you’ve got something to say about Death you say it to His face—when you meet him! So goes one mantra for Final Destination 3 and luckily for the film’s sake death personified has no face and is everywhere. It all starts when high school senior Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) warns several friends off a roller coaster after having a premonition about it. After the coaster goes awry killing Wendy’s friends who didn’t heed her advice the survivors feel lucky—except Wendy. Her premonitions continue this time forewarning her that those survivors will suffer their fates in the order in which they were to be killed on the coaster. The dead youngsters walking include students and most importantly her sister her partner in crime-prevention (Ryan Merriman) and well herself! FD3 makes it nearly impossible for the Wayans Brothers to make April’s Scary Movie 4 their last. The requirements of the FD3 cast are similar to those of its teen-horror-flick brethren: Each member must look good while onscreen and even better as a victim—which isn’t to say they all must look “pretty” as they die but rather they must look right for their respective deaths. But for the two leads Winstead and Merriman they have to actually act. Winstead the prettiest darned clairvoyant ever does a surprisingly fine job evoking her perpetual doom absurd as it all may be. She shows dramatic range that might even exceed the level of cheap fun desired. Like Winstead Merriman turns in a solid performance as the absolute cliché for this sub-genre. He plays the high-school-jock type who’s thrust into actual emotions following a crisis. All the performances are totally overdone but that is precisely the protocol for kitsch; thus jobs well done.
For director James Wong the film could’ve been inflected a different way. It could almost be close to being close to being deep—what with undertones of karma and fate and perhaps metaphysics and whatnot—but clearly he knows his audience consists of mostly sneakers-in. Wong directed the series’ first installment and he deftly sticks to the formula that made that—and its sequel directed by David Richard Ellis—a minor hit. He knows how to arouse the gag reflex with almost cartoonishly silly methods of death and of utmost importance he’ll have audiences guessing aloud the wacky deaths that await each character. Like most contemporary horror flicks FD3 confuses “scary” for “explicitly grotesque.” But Wong does enough—barely—to keep subconsciously masochistic audiences from completely closing their eyes and coming back for more. Much like a (bad) roller coaster.
Top Story: Richard Simmons Slaps Airline Passenger
Exercise guru Richard Simmons, known for his Sweatin' to the Oldies exercise videos set to songs from the '50s and '60s, was cited for misdemeanor assault for allegedly slapping a man, the AP reports. Simmons was at the Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport waiting for a flight to Los Angeles Wednesday when a fellow passenger recognized him. According to Phoenix police, the man "made the offhand comment, 'Hey everybody. It's Richard Simmons. Let's drop our bags and rock to the '50s.'" Simmons, 55, reportedly walked over to the passenger and slapped him in the face. The man wasn't injured but told police he intends to file charges against Simmons.
Simon Cowell's Finger Causes Controversy
Did American Idol judge Simon Cowell flip fellow judge Paula Abdul the bird on national television? Cowell and Fox are having to respond to this allegation today after online Internet columnist Matt Drudge pointed out Cowell's odd middle finger alignment during Tuesday night's telecast after the acerbic judge argued with Abdul over a contestant. And he wasn't the only one to take notice. Federal Communications Commission spokesman Richard Diamond told Reuters Thursday the agency had received a few complaints about the incident, which are generally reviewed to determine if an investigation is warranted. But Cowell is vehemently denying the allegation. "I certainly would never make a gesture like that toward Paula or on national television," Cowell said. "Sometimes I lean on my index finger. Sometimes a different finger. Sometimes two at the same time, or, God help me, even the whole hand. I never even thought about it until now."
Houston Checks Out of Rehab
Whitney Houston, who had been undergoing treatment in a drug rehabilitation center, has left the facility five days after checking in because she "felt the walls were closing in on her," a source close to the singer was quoted as saying in the Daily News. The source also said the singer is now staying at a rented home near her home in the Atlanta area. Houston's spokeswoman told The Associated Press Thursday that the report is no big deal and that the singer is still taking part in the rehab program but at another location.
Bobby Brown Back in Jail
Whitney Houston's husband, meanwhile, has been ordered back to the pen. Massachusetts Judge Paula Carey sentenced Bobby Brown to jail Wednesday for 90 days or until he can come up with more than $60,000 in child support owed to the mother of two children he fathered, Reuters reports. Local media report that Brown, who will serve the sentence at the Norfolk County House of Correction in Dedham, Mass., wept at his hearing.
Aretha Franklin Released From Hospital
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who was admitted to Detroit's Sinai-Grace Hospital Saturday for treatment of a low platelet count, a blood disorder that can lead to hemorrhaging, was released Wednesday. "She responded very well to her treatment and she's doing just fine," Dr. Claud Young, Franklin's longtime personal physician, told Reuters. Young said the temporary disorder was caused either by a virus or an allergic reaction to antibiotics Franklin had taken earlier, but was not related to the singer's hypertension. In a statement released by her New York-based publicist, Franklin said she planned to spend her 62nd birthday Thursday at her Detroit-area home.
Ryan Seacrest Defends Color Pink
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest is lending his support to six boys from Ensign Middle School in Newport Beach, Calif., who were banned from a class portrait for wearing pink T-shirts. According to the AP, the eighth graders were pulled from class portrait last week because principal Edward Wong feared the color could be associated with gang-affiliated "dance crews," which hold all-night dance contests and raves. The boys, however, denied being crew members and said they wore the shirts, described as "Easter pink," to stand out in the photo. Seacrest said Tuesday he got involved because a student told a local newspaper that pink was popular among teens because it was a color often worn by Seacrest. He declared this week "Think Pink Week" and asked listeners on his KIIS-FM morning radio show to wear pink on Friday.
MPAA Wants Public To Report Pirates
The Motion Picture Assn. of America said Wednesday at the movie theater industry's annual ShoWest convention in Las Vegas that they are considering a plan to encourage customers at movie houses to squelch criminals using camcorders to record films illegally. "We are considering an MPAA camcorder reward program," Bill Shannon, the MPAA's U.S. anti-piracy operations director said. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Shannon talked exhibitors through a behind-the-scenes tour of how pirates steal and distribute films worldwide and chronicled a handful of films' fates after they were camcorded and pirated, showing how a film can be pirated in New York and then appear on the streets in China in less than two weeks.
VH1 Greenlights Michael Jackson Movie
Music cabler VH1 has greenlighted an unauthorized movie about pop oddity Michael Jackson. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project, tentatively titled Family Values, has begun preproduction in Calgary, Alberta. It will follow Jackson's life from his Thriller heydays to his current scandal-plagued legal woes and include flashbacks to his old Motown. Executive producer Jon Katzman said the film will strive for an objective portrayal of Jackson's life. "We're big fans of Michael's. We're going to do our best to present the facts as truthfully as possible," he said. "We're not taking sides one way or the other." Jackson has not been consulted on the project, however, and he script will not be derived from any one source of material.
Role Call: Suvari Heads to Beauty Shop; Wilkinson, Hauer Join Batman Begins
Mena Suvari is joining the cast of Queen Latifah's Barbershop spin-off, Beauty Shop, which begins shooting next month.
Pierce Brosnan was named the sexiest man alive by People magazine in its issue released Thursday, Reuters reports. Previous recipients of the title include Brad Pitt, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and George Clooney. Benjamin Bratt took honors for the sexiest single guy alive and Mexican president Vicente Fox was named sexiest world leader. Brosnan, who starts working on his fourth Bond movie in January, married his long-term girlfriend Keely Shaye Smith in Ireland in August.
Geena Davis is expecting a child in April with husband Reza Jarrahy, Reuters reports. Davis, 45, and Jarrahy, 30, were married in September. This is the actress's fourth marriage. She was previously married to restaurant manager Richard Emmolo, actor Jeff Goldblum and director Renny Harlin.
Dudley Moore received his Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) award from the Prince of Wales at London's Buckingham Palace on Friday, BBC News reports. Moore, who currently lives in New Jersey, flew to London this week to receive his award. The actor suffers from a rare brain condition called progressive supranuclear palsy and attended the ceremony in a wheelchair.
Actor Albert Hague died Monday in a hospital near Los Angeles after suffering from cancer, BBC News reports. The 81-year-old actor played the bad-tempered music teacher Mr. Shorofsky in the 1980 film Fame and for five years on the television series.
Robert Downey Jr. appeared in court for a progress report on Thursday and thanked a judge for allowing him to continue treatment in a live-in drug rehabilitation program, Reuters reports. Downey, who was sentenced to a year in a drug treatment center after pleading no contest to drug charges in July, tested negative to all drug tests.
Former Baywatch babe Yasmine Bleeth
was charged on Friday with two counts of possession of cocaine (a four-year felony) and one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of narcotics (a misdemeanor) in Romulus, Mich., AP reports. The 33-year-old actress was arrested Sept. 12 after police investigating an accident involving her car found cocaine in her purse. Charges also stem from a subsequent search of Bleeth's hotel room. Bleeth pleaded innocent and posted a $10,000 bond. A hearing is set for Nov. 30. The actress had no comment.
A stunt double for Robert De Niro was charged Wednesday with two counts of criminal impersonation and released on $100 bail. According to The Associated Press, Joseph Manuella told Vietnam veterans in Port Jervis, N.Y., that he was filming a documentary about the war so they would lend him props. He also received discounts on lodging and filmmaking materials and even acquired a credit card in De Niro's name. The former New York City firefighter worked with De Niro in The Fan and Great Expectations.
The plot thickened in the Screen Actors Guild election debacle Thursday after polling administrator Sequoia Voting Systems revealed that there were 260 more ballots counted in New York than deposited at the official post office box by union voters. Sequoia executive Robbin Johnson blamed this new discrepancy on the U.S. Postal Service and denied any stuffing of the ballot box. Johnson already admitted to removing signature lines from 24,800 New York ballots, Variety reports.
Howard Stern's production company is developing a first-run syndicated comedy for CBS, Variety reports. Kane will center on a woman who returns to her husband and kids in the Deep South after a long absence. The deal comes as the syndicated Howard Stern Radio Show, which has been in repeats on CBS since August, goes off the air this weekend.
Mick Jagger, whose new album Goddess in the Doorway hits stores next week, performed at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday to promote the release, Reuters reports. Concertgoers consisted mostly of young models, who were paid $100 each to surround the small stage and shriek and claw at Jagger's legs. Celebrities in attendance included Meg Ryan, Billy Crudup, David Spade and Heath Ledger.
Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney will team up for Joel and Ethan Coen's next project for Universal Pictures, Variety reports. Intolerable Cruelty is described as a Howard Hawks-style old-Hollywood glamour picture in which Clooney and Zeta-Jones will play bitter rivals who fall in love.
Barbie maker Mattel, Inc. challenged 20 Hong Kong students to come up with the creative outfits for the 42-year-old doll, Reuters reports. The most eye-catching design unveiled for the media Friday was an off-the-shoulder, backless dinner gown which showcased a stunning dragon tattoo running down Barbie's back. Mattel has no plans to mass-produce the "Tattoo Barbie" designed by Hong Kong Polytechnic University student Wingo Wong.
Adam Sandler will develop a pilot for NBC starring Jon Lovitz and Norm Macdonald, targeted for fall 2002. According to Variety, Lovitz and Macdonald will play mismatched roommates. The comedy will be written by Tim Herlihy (Big Daddy