All together now! Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can... against two bad guys?
He'll have to, because Sony confirms that Paul Giamatti is in talks to play the thick-skinned nemesis Rhino for 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, expected to go into production in February. It had already been announced in November that Andrew Garfield's Spidey would be tangling with Jamie Foxx as classic villain Electro, with Dane DeHaan on board as Harry Osborne, a.k.a. The Future Hobgoblin. Shailene Woodley has also been announced to play Mary Jane Watson, previously portrayed as a Broadway hopeful by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi's trilogy. That now leaves Felicity Jones as the only cast member who's role hasn't yet been specified.
Marvel introduced Rhino to their Spider-Man comics in 1966. Unlike Spidey, the Lizard, or the Sandman, Rhino is not a mutant. He was originally the product of an Eastern Bloc engineering project to graft an impenetrable artificial hide to a Soviet soldier''s skin. When wearing the hide, the subject would be all but invincible, capable of deflecting bullets, withstanding extreme temperatures, and able to crash through walls like a juggernaut. To aid in his quest to smash things and look as goofy as possible, he'd wear a horn atop his head. No surprise that comic writer Mike Conroy called him "one of Spider-Man's dimmest villains."
In his battles with Spidey and Hulk, he was decidedly a Cold War Era villain. He was even known to team up with Hulk's nemesis, The Abomination, who was the antagonist of 2008's Ed Norton yawner The Incredible Hulk. You know what that means: crossover! Okay probably not. Actually, in recent years, with the Cold War having receded into the history books, Rhino has been portrayed in a more sympathetic light, and has even teamed up with Spider-Man on a few occasions.
Paul Giamatti has made no secret about his desire to play Rhino in the past. In a May 2011 appearance on Conan, he all but pitched Sony to play the role. "He looks like a rhino!" Giamatti said. "Why would I not want to do that? He would run into stuff real fast and smash into it...I think I would be the best Rhino possible."
This does raise an age-old question, however: how many villains is too many? In fact, you could argue that there's never been a great comic book movie that features more than one nemesis for its superhero. Tim Burton's Batman franchise, which initially honed in with laser-focus on Jack Nicholson's Joker, unraveled when both Catwoman and the Penguin (and maybe even that creepy Christopher Walken character) battled the Caped Crusader in Batman Returns. (To say nothing of the multiple evildoers in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.) Raimi's Spider-Man franchise itself melted down when it decided to have three villains for its third installment. Or four, if you count Evil Emo Spider-Man, who literally punches Mary Jane in the face after dancing his way through a cabaret. The reason why these films don't work is pretty simple: with more villains the plot invariably becomes more complicated, the characterizations for each of the baddies are watered down, and the battles become bloated and excessive. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will have a lot of history to overcome if it's to reverse this pattern.
What do you guys think? Excited about the prospect of Giamatti playing the Rhino? Or would you rather, if Giamatti were to take on any future comic book project, for him to get his Harvey Pekar on again with a sequel to American Splendor?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: WENN]
Paul Giamatti Talks 'John Dies at the End', and How We'll Watch Movies in the Future
Andrew Garfield on 'Amazing Spider-Man 2' Costume Changes and Superhero Responsibilities
'Amazing Spider-Man': One on One with Garfield, Stone, Ifans, Leary and More!
You Might Also Like:
J. J. Abrams and ‘Star Wars’: Has the Lightsaber Been Passed to the Right Director?
100 Hottest Women of the Century: PICS
S6E9: It’s not taking any great leap to say that 30 Rock is not the show it used to be. And I’m not even referring to quality—it’s an entirely different program from its earlier days. 30 Rock in Season 1 was a fast-paced, Mumblecorey inside look into a everything-goes-wrong television studio and account of what it’s like being a woman in an industry and world where your gender is often used against you by peers and colleagues. It was something special. As time went on, 30 Rock began to realize just how funny it was capable of being. And away slipped a lot of the focus on themes and, more tragically, character development. Liz Lemon is no longer Liz Lemon—she’s instead the framework for the old Liz Lemon’s quirks and faults, without any of the humanity that bound them together. The same goes for Jack, for Tracy, and, most of all, for Jenna, who has devolved from insecure attention-seeker to vindictive monster. Again, none of this is anything that hasn’t been said many times before. But I bring it up for a specific reason: despite all of this, 30 Rock still, almost without exception, makes me laugh my brain out.
This week’s special Leap Day-themed episode, “Leap Day,” is unequivocally silly. It is ridiculous to the point of abandoning reality on more than one occasion. It exemplifies what I mentioned above about the lack of the old humanity in these characters—particularly in Liz. Every so often, it gets kind of stupid. But it is so freaking funny that I’m sure I missed a handful of noteworthy lines under my laughter.
“That was this creep I went to college with. Such a nerd! And this is coming from someone who wrote lyrics to the song the cantina band plays in Star Wars. [Singing:] Figrin D’an the Kloo horn man…" – Liz
EVERYONE celebrates Leap Day—except Liz Lemon, of course. She has never given Feb. 29 much thought. But she does embrace the Leap Day spirit of “taking a leap” and doing what you ordinarily wouldn’t when an old college classmate—nerdy boy turned Internet billionaire who fell in love with her back at the University of Maryland and has been holding a torch for her ever since—invites her to his Leap Day party, and then offers her twenty million dollars to take his virginity.
Liz actually considers it (in the spirit of Leap Day, of course) and intends to go through with it before the plot is foiled by the arrival of a pack of attractive women with gold-digging intentions. Season 1 Liz would never, for any amount of money, consider this sort of thing, and would be appalled to the point of an empowering speech by the mere suggestion of it. It does make me a little sad to see that Liz gone from the show. She is the one we all cared about. She was a real person who warranted our attention and sympathy. Season 6 Liz, not so much—which pains me to say as a Tina Fey devotee. But she is still capable of delivering laughter. And that’s worth a lot more than it’s often given credit for. "Would you watch a television show, and I'm just spitballing here, called Spitball?" - Jack
"Sir, Rebecca Bird-stein needs me." - Kenneth Jack has his own sort of Frank Capra storyline—one that is pretty compacted, though, due to the episode’s huge amount of stuff going on. Jack sets aside Leap Day to win an ongoing bet with his business school buddies about making the most money every Feb. 29—as such, he neglects his young daughter and thrusts himself full force into an obsessive capitalistic plight. Kenneth, donning the role of Leap Day William (obviously), takes Jack through his unhappy, lonely childhood, his present of neglectful parenthood, and the horrific future, wherein his daughter becomes a liberal and joins Habitat for Humanity as a result of his absence during her developmental years (that gag is a pretty terrific one). After awakening from this “nightmare,” Jack abandons his work and heads home to spend time with his daughter. "Nothing's impossible on Leap Day! It's like I said in my cameo appearance in Leap Dave Williams, 'Gimme your wallet, old man!'" - Tracy
Tracy’s story, befitting of such a silly episode theme, is my favorite of the three. Tracy finds fifty thousand dollars of Benihana money under the couch in his dressing room. In the spirit of Leap Day, he vows to spend it all in one night. What I like a lot about the Tracy story is the fact that the entire gang of TGS “others” tag along for the ride: Pete, Frank, Twofer, Lutz, Grizz, Dot Com, and Cerie included. Still, the gang cannot manage to spend even a substantial fraction of Tracy’s inordinate sum of Benihana money. So what is he to do? An incredibly funny, and more incredibly silly, scene has Tracy following a stream of consciousness that eventually leads him to the idea of feeding the poor…which then leads him to another thought, and on and on, until he does in fact land back on feeding the poor. Which he does. It’s another good-natured ending without too much depth, and a lot of laughs to get us there. "I saved Leap Day! And connected with my son! And I solved the big case from earlier! Merry Leap Day, everyone!" - Jim Carrey
"Hey, take a leap, pal!" - Grumpy guy
"THAT'S THE SPIRIT!!!" - Jim Carrey But the unparalleled victory of this episode is the intercut shots of in-universe movie Leap Dave Williams, a send-up of every post-Ace Ventura Jim Carrey movie, starring, in such a heroic fashion, Jim Carrey himself. Reminiscent of Liar, Liar, Bruce Almighty, Yes Man and probably Mr. Popper’s Penguins to some degree, Carrey embarks on a life changing Leap Day adventure where he himself is transformed into the mythical Leap Day William, only returned to form after learning and embracing the spirit of the holiday. The spot-on parody is so good that even if the rest of the episode were trash (which it is most certainly not), it’d be worth it for the intermittent scenes of Carrey making note of his physical changes in the mirror, attempting to hide them from wife Andie MacDowell, and finding out what it means to take a leap. As a huge Jim Carrey fan (in other words, a person), I appreciate this well-meaning send-up more than anything of the like the show has accomplished lately, including its funny but just-plain-weird Dark Knight parody, and the funny Martin Luther King Day Garry Marshall spoof. Both were entertaining in their own rights, but Leap Dave Williams is a historical benchmark for the art of parody. Sometimes I miss the old 30 Rock. I’ll frequently hope the show can find its old heart and soul once again, giving us the warm but never sappy moments that we used to find so often between Liz and Jack. We might never see that again. But at least we still have the laughter. Do you think 30 Rock still has the power of comedy? Was Jim Carrey’s self-deprecating parody a hit for you? Will you take a Leap this Feb. 29? Let us know in the comments section, or on Twitter @Hollywood.com and @MichaelArbeiter.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
JANE LYNCH gave U.S. TV audiences a late night laugh as host of Saturday Night Live at the weekend (09Oct10), when she performed a series of spoofs of her hit TV musical GLEE. The actress opened the comedy sketch show singing a tribute to her cheerleading coach character Sue Sylvester, accompanied by a horn section, back-up dancers and funnyman FRED ARMISEN on guitar.