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.
Spaced is here! The situational comedy directed by Edgar Wright and starring the show’s creators Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes is now available on DVD in the U.S. after going off the British airwaves seven years ago.
Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fans are sure to flock to the series about two twentysomethings named Tim (Pegg) and Daisy (Hynes) who move in together as a pseudo couple in order to get a good deal on their London flat.
Hollywood.com tracked down the trio at this year’s Comic Con to find out the five reasons fans should check out the new DVD.
Reason #1: The commentaries will be plentiful and not the least bit boring.
Edgar Wright: There are 14 new commentaries on top of the 14, so 28 commentaries in total. We did commentaries with some of our various geeky celebrity fans. It was sort of a geek nexus of me, Simon, Jess, Quentin Tarantino, Matt Stone, Kevin Smith, Patton Oswalt, Bill Hader…Diablo Cody. That’s good isn’t it? Simon Pegg: A lot of it was nice because they were people who had inspired us in the first place, particularly in the instances of Quentin and Kevin Smith. To do commentary of the scene the Pulp Fiction reference we do in episode one series two. Having Quentin in the commentary booth was quite bizarre, sort of a moment of circularity that I think anyone rarely experiences. It was great. Kevin Smith just wanted to talk about other things didn’t he …
Jessica Hynes: Yeah, breast feeding…we talk about lots of different things. I think that’s the thing about DVDs commentary is that you go completely tangential. It becomes a lot more interesting because you get the strange ramblings and actually that sometimes if you are too literal can be boring.
Reason #2: This is the U.S. version of the show, so don’t expect a remake.
Edgar Wright: It was quite an upsetting experience for all of us [when they tried to remake the show in the U.S.] really because you know we were in a situation where we didn’t have the rights to the show. We were in our mid twenties when we made that so we were lucky to get the show made, but we didn’t have the muscle to control the rights so we were in a situation where the show could get made never having to consult us and they didn’t. The sad thing is they didn’t respect us enough as artists enough to get in touch, but still saw it fit to use our names in trade articles about the show so that’s why we were really furious about it. It just started off on the completely wrong foot and I personally didn’t want a remake to happen anyway because the show is very personal and it should be left as it was.
Reason #3: The show and the extras are a direct result of the fans:
Edgar Wright: The first series and the second series have a lot of re-watchability factor because there are lots of little details, jokes and things to pick up on a second watch. I think that came from knowing how much people were scrutinizing it on the internet. As soon as it was shown on TV the fans would pour through every single extra on the DVD and list all the commentary and get all the references like the Homage-O-Meter and all the trivia stuff and I think that influenced the second series and everything we’ve done since.
Reason #4: They went the extra mile to keep all the original music
Edgar Wright: There were a few music licensing issues we had to iron out for North American and we wanted to make sure that the DVD that was released in North America was the same as the one released in the UK. That took a little while, but we are very pleased.
Reason #5: American fans will see a show that was a commentary on pop culture, before the creators joined the pop culture landscape themselves.
Simon Pegg: It is quite like the snake eating itself. I think when we started making references to Spaced in Shaun of the Dead that’s was the most crystal moment of self indulgence ever. In Spaced there is a line where Tim says something about every odd number Star Trek movie being shit which is a huge irony considering I’m starring in Star Trek 11. So it is funny how those things come back to haunt you. Obviously the rule doesn’t apply anymore [laughs].
Spaced is now available on DVD
Nothing about the action-packed cop genre is left untouched in Hot Fuzz. It starts off by introducing Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) a sort of supercop with an arrest record 400 percent higher than anyone else's on the London force. He's so good he makes everyone else look bad—so his superiors reassign him to the sleepy English village of Sanford. Angel is then paired up with the well-meaning but bumbling Police Constable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) who is also an affirmed action-movie junkie. He views Angel as a chance to possibly see some real gun-blazin’ action—except nothing much happens in Sanford. Or does it? A series of grisly deaths leads Angel to believe this quiet burg may not be what it seems even though the elders of the town (police inspector Jim Broadbent and local grocery story owner Timothy Dalton among others) shrug them off as “accidents.” It just might be time for these small-town cops to break out some big-city justice. Yippee ki-yay! Pegg and Frost have way too much fun with this. The boys were friends long before Shaun of the Dead and their natural camaraderie is obvious. Pegg is the perfect Abbott to Frost’s Costello as the no-nonsense Angel teaches the affable Butterman a few things about law enforcement while Butterman teaches Angel how to loosen up a bit. Plus that wonderfully dry British sense of humor they both share is infectious which clearly must be the reason the myriad of veteran British actors appear in supporting roles. Along with Dalton and Broadbent there’s Bill Nighy and Martin Freeman as Angel’s superiors who ship him off to Sanford. Around the World in 80 Days' Steve Coogan Cate Blanchett and Extras’ Stephen Merchant make uncredited appearances. Even lesser-known but still recognizable Brits show up including the original The Omen’s Billie Whitelaw (Mrs. Baylock) and Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Paul Freeman (Belloq). Everyone is not only laughing on the outside but on the inside as well. Pegg and Frost’s third partner in crime is co-writer/director Edgar Wright. After the three of them cooked up 2004’s Shaun of the Dead their side-splitting send-up of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead none of them could have imagined the cult success it would achieve. Simon Pegg went on to co-star with Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III while Nick Frost starred in the British indie Kinky Boots. But it’s Wright who seems to have gained the most attention notably from Quentin Tarantino who took Wright under his wing even asking the Brit to shoot one of the “trailers” for Grindhouse’s intermission. Wright is very creative with Hot Fuzz employing hard quick cuts and framing the action much like the genre he’s poking fun at. The best is after one of the climactic gun battles Angel and Butterman stand in the town square as the camera revolves around them 360 degrees á la Bad Boys. The one drawback to Hot Fuzz is its troubled ending. After what would seem to be a perfect way to conclude the film drags on for another 20 minutes trying to pack in more action-movie clichés. But overall this won’t really detract from the fun you’ll have.
In the schlocky tradition of the venues after which it is named Grindhouse is two separate features—double the terrific badness that is exploitation cinema (or quintuple it if you count the “prevues”). First up is Planet Terror. It opens with stripper er go-go dancer Cherry (Rose McGowan) working the stage her limbs still intact. Later that night she bumps into an old flame bad-boy drifter Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) who is something of a human arsenal. Which soon comes in handy when they along with a select few others (including Marley Shelton Michael Parks Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey) are warding off townsfolk that have turned into blood-lusting zombies after contracting a virus. Of course Cherry’s machine-gun leg (which you’ve by now seen ad nauseam in the trailer) is also a helpful little gadget for slaying the walking dead. A bathroom break and two fake trailers later we have Death Proof whose chief weaponry is a car. Its owner Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) has made the driver's seat death proof; that way whether murdering his young female victims by crashing head-on into their cars or driving at literally breakneck speeds he’ll survive. After taking care of a batch of young Austin Texas scenesters he scouts out his next group o’ gals (Zoe Bell Tracie Thoms Rosario Dawson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead). These ladies however aren’t exactly afraid of a broken nail—or neck. One trick in Quentin Tarantino’s large bag thereof has always been casting. In that vein career reinvention seems one of his favorite pastimes and Kurt Russell is Tarantino’s latest pet project—that is his latest “cool” makeover. Russell wasn’t a lost puppy like a pre-Pulp Fiction John Travolta but the former Snake Plissken—a favorite character of Tarantino’s—needed intervention. In Death Proof Russell reminds us of his roots and that movies such as Dreamer are forgivable offenses. Because here he’s psychotic pathetic and humorous in a role that although it doesn't actually amount to a lot of screen time is frankly more believable than Travolta's gangster. By default then Rose McGowan is the Kurt Russell of Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and what an impeccable bit of casting that was too. (She also appears in Death Proof.) Having never quite been paparazzi material McGowan still has an ounce of mystery to her and as an actress she’s devilishly appealing. Thus she was perfect for the role of gun-legged Cherry and once you mop up your own drool after the opening scene you’ll see why—but it’s mostly because she’s game for anything! Par for the course there are countless other big names (i.e. Nicolas Cage Bruce Willis Dawson Tarantino himself and Fergie) between these two movies and three trailers. But as always with these two directors the more obscure the better. Freddy Rodriguez (HBO’s Six Feet Under) is an impossible sell on paper but makes his drifter work somehow; Brolin is surprisingly the creepiest between the two movies; Shelton's performance seems more like an audition to someday take over the reigns for Uma Thurman and she passes with flying colors; and possibly the best performance comes from Thurman’s Kill Bill stunt double Zoe Bell. The best thing about directors Tarantino and Rodriguez is that they're every bit as enthusiastic as the fanboys that will devour this (double) movie—they’re film gods and yet mere film geeks. They know what it’s like to sit in a theater and be blown away by the power of the movies they love and Tarantino is probably doing that right now in his own movie theater with his own movie. If so he’s earned it. Not that Rodriguez is some sort of slouch. His Planet Terror is what any proper zombie movie should be: no-holds-barred nastiness. It’s also damn good fun while paying homage to its predecessors. His story is mostly meat-and-potatoes—after all zombie cinema doesn’t allow much wiggle room for writers—but McGowan’s arc and uh limb deficiency is pure gore genius. Otherwise it’s all blood-and-guts geysers all the time which depending upon your tolerance level is great! After the hilarious gruesome and jaw-dropping fake trailers—from Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) Eli Roth (Hostel) and Rob Zombie (The Devil's Rejects)—you realize the first feature was but an appetizer. Tarantino is quite bold with Death Proof in that he dares to tamper with his homage to slasher-type exploitation films by mixing it with another genre—his own. Which is to say long talky takes that each time set a comfortable mood—a mood tailor-made for him to put a bullet through. It's somewhat subtle prior to the sheer eruptions of violence. And even though Tarantino’s dialogue is as always nothing short of entrancing viewers will have to be more patient in waiting for action to emerge in Death Proof but once it does they’ll be either rewarded or sorry. In those “action” sequences Tarantino delivers one of the great car-chase scenes in recent history and ultimately dispels any charges of misogyny. That'll make sense after you see the movie.
Top Story: Possible Disney/Miramax Split on the Horizon
Could the bloom be off the rose that is the relationship between family-oriented Walt Disney Inc. and its edgy subsidiary Miramax Films? Variety reported Tuesday that negotiations between Mouse House CEO Michael Eisner and Miramax chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein have reached a stalemate. Under the current agreement, which expires in 2005, Miramax distributes its film through Disney's Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group. And while Miramax normally finances or acquires films and then distributes them without a tussle, the indie studio must still seek Disney's approval for large-budget films (those over $30 million). According to Variety, the impasse in the negotiations is over money. Eisner is seeking to scale back Miramax's $700 million-a-year budget while the Weinsteins would like to see it maintained. If talks between the two sides reach a Pixar-like deadlock, Miramax could tentatively buy back the company and its library or seek third-party distribution for future productions. But the loss of its indie arm would be a sever blow to Disney: Miramax is believed to have generated $2 million in profits for the Mouse House last year and currently supplies 40 percent of its live-action releases.
Sizemore Blames Dirty Test Results on Prescription Drug
Actor Tom Sizemore, who was convicted in 2003 of beating and threatening his ex-girlfriend, former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, blamed his "dirty" test results on his continued use of the prescription drug Eldepryl. Prosecutors filed documents on Monday accusing Sizemore, who last year was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to complete a residential drug rehab program for his addiction to crystal meth, of violating his parole by testing positive for methamphetamine use and for contacting Fleiss. But Sizemore's lawyer filed a declaration from a doctor blaming the test on his continued use of Eldepryl, which metabolizes as a substance similar to the illegal drug. Prosecutor Robert Cha, however, noted Eldepryl is only approved for treatment of Parkinson's disease, which Sizemore does not suffer from. A hearing is set for June 25 in Los Angeles.
NBC, Universal To Merge
NBC closed its deal to merge with Universal Wednesday, creating a new media conglomerate that will take its place alongside giants such as Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc., AP reports. The new company, to be known as NBC Universal, will be led mainly by NBC executives including Bob Wright, the NBC chairman who will become its chairman and CEO. Wright will also continue as vice chairman of General Electric Co., NBC's parent company. Wright said in a statement the combination presented a "tremendous growth opportunity for our viewers, advertisers, employees, and GE shareowners."
Kiefer Sutherland Single Again
24 star Kiefer Sutherland has filed for divorce from his wife of nearly eight years, citing irreconcilable differences, The Associated Press reports. Sutherland and his wife, Elizabeth Kelly Winn Sutherland, were married on June 29, 1996 but have been separated since August 1999. This was the 37-year-old actor's second marriage; He wed his Then Killing Time co-star Camelia Kath in 1988 but the couple filed for divorce two years later. Sutherland was also engaged to Julia Roberts, whom he met while filming Flatliners in 1990. The nuptials were scheduled for June 14, 1991 but never took place.
Raiders Didn't Hire Apprentice Nick
A spokesman for the Oakland Raiders told the AP Tuesday that reports the franchise had hired The Apprentice contestant Nick Warnock to sell luxury suites at the Oakland Coliseum were "premature." Artie Gigantino said the Raiders met with Warnock, 27, last week but no deal had been completed. "The way it was left, Nick was going to fulfill prior commitments and when he was done we'd revisit what the next step was," Gigantino said. Warnock is currently working for Jason Binn's Niche Media Holdings, publisher of several high-end magazines. He will sell advertisements and will be based in Los Angeles, the AP reports.
Primetime Nielsen Ratings From May 3-9
Thursday's series finale of the NBC sitcom Friends drew an average 52.5 million viewers, giving the network to its best weekly showing in two years. Friends ranks as the fourth most-watched series finale in TV history, behind CBS' M*A*S*H(106 million), and NBC's Cheers (80.4 million) and Seinfeld (76.3 million). According to Nielsen Media Research figures, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships for the week of May 3-9 were: Friends, NBC, 52.5 million; Friends Clipshow, NBC, 36.9 million; ER, NBC, 28.4 million; Survivor All-Stars Finale, CBS, 24.8 million; Survivor All-Stars Reunion, CBS, 23.9 million; American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 22.8 million; American Idol (Wednesday) Fox, 21.2 million; CSI, CBS, 20.4 million viewers; NBC Movie of the Week: '10.5' (Monday) NBC, 19.9 million; Survivor: All-Stars, CBS, 19.2 million.
Tarantino Commends Some Movie Piracy
In the right context, director Quentin Tarantino isn't completely opposed to movie piracy. In an anti-piracy seminar Tuesday in Cannes, Tarantino told audiences he was grateful people sold bootleg copies of his Oscar-winning film Pulp Fiction in China, where the violent thriller had not been released. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the auteur also said he was happy that certain rare movies not available from legitimate sources can be found on bootleg. "I would be a liar if I was to say, across the board, no piracy," Tarantino said. The Motion Picture Association (MPA), the foreign lobbying arm of the major Hollywood studios, estimates pirated hard copies has resulted in losses of about $3.5 billion for its member companies.
R&B Artist Whitehead Found Dead
R&B singer John Whitehead, best known for his 1979 hit song "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," was found shot to death in Philadelphia, Penn., Tuesday. AP reports Whitehead, 55, and another man were working on a vehicle when they were shot by two gunmen. Whitehead was shot in the neck and collapsed, while the other man, Ohmed Johnson, was shot in the buttocks and was reported in good condition early Wednesday. "Why did they do this to my dad?" Dawn Whitehead, 33, asked at the scene. "I just talked to him yesterday ... He was a fun person. Who would want to kill him?" Police had no immediate suspects or motive.
Soldier's Video Diary To Air on CBS
On Wednesday, CBS' 60 Minutes II will air a video diary of a young Amer