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.
Washington will take to the New York stage in April in the August Wilson play, which centres around U.S. race-relations in the 1950s.
The original 1987 production starred James Earl Jones as patriarch Troy Maxson, Mary Alice as his wife and Courtney B. Vance as his son. It won both the Tony Award for best play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
Washington was last on Broadway in 2005 in a revival of Julius Caesar, in which he played Brutus.
The new production will be directed by Kenny Leon, who directed Wilson's Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean on Broadway.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Although The Great Buck Howard is not the literal story of the once popular (in the '60s and '70s) entertainer known as the Amazing Kreskin the film makes it known this is a pretty thinly disguised tribute to the man who made 88 appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show before fading into obscurity on the dinner theater circuit. Writer/director Sean McGinly who worked briefly as Kreskin’s assistant has reinvented him essentially as Buck Howard a “mentalist extraordinaire ” who once strode in the limelight with numerous TV and Vegas appearances but now plays faded community centers and hasn’t filled a theater in decades. As his new assistant law-school dropout Troy Gable quickly learns it isn’t easy working for Buck who still sees himself as a big star but when a quirk of fate intervenes and he really does get a second chance at the national spotlight neither one is quite prepared for what comes next.
WHO’S IN IT?
John Malkovich is a fine actor but he isn’t exactly known for comedy. As Buck Howard however he has the role of a lifetime and he’s simply amazing wryly funny as the has-been mentalist who would never admit he isn’t still every bit the top celebrity he used to be. Although Malkovich plays him somewhat pompously he’s ultimately quite touching as a celeb who once commanded great attention and still craves it on his own terms. As his new unwitting assistant Colin Hanks drolly underplays most of his scenes with Buck and effortlessly shows the quiet desperation of a wannabe writer who’s not exactly sure what he should be doing with his life. Emily Blunt is lovely as a publicist who helps engineer Buck’s surprising comeback; and there are also small but fun bits with Steve Zahn Griffin Dunne and even Colin’s real-life dad Tom Hanks whose company bankrolled the movie.
In the same sweet but low-key vein of My Favorite Year McGinly paints a portrait of the less glamorous aspect of showbiz when an outsized personality starts traveling on the downside of the entertainment world. Clearly his days with Kreskin gave him an entree into this life and his film is nicely observant and respectful. But still very funny.
The film plays it all a little too safe. It doesn’t seem to want to be anything more than a snapshot of life after huge success has faded; adding a little more complexity might have offered an even richer role for Malkovich. It’s pleasant but there’s not a whole lot of depth.
Buck hypnotizes a large crowd of volunteers but gets sidetracked and neglects to snap them out of it. It’s pricelessly funny and captures the ego of the guy perfectly in the expert hands of Malkovich.
Produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Apatow’s BFF Seth Rogen Drillbit is a little bit My Bodyguard a little bit Freaks and Geeks. The story focuses on three geeky high school freshman--Ryan (Troy Gentile) Wade (Nate Hartley) and Emmet (David Dorfman)--who become primary target practice for the campus bully Filkins (Alex Frost). Enter Drillbit Taylor (Wilson) a homeless Army deserter who answers the boys’ ad for a bodyguard mainly because he wants to rip them off. During the course of the movie however Drillbit teaches the boys how to stick up for themselves and grows to care about them especially after he pretends to be a substitute teacher at their school--you know to “watch” over them. It’s a cool gig for the drifter since he gets free coffee a new girlfriend (Leslie Mann as a horny English teacher) and newfound respect. Eventually everything goes to hell in a hand basket as they are wont to do but at least everyone walks away learning some valuable life lessons. We should say “Awww ” but thankfully the script keeps the gag reflex to a minimum. While Wilson may be phoning it in a little as Drillbit--a likeable rascal who’s a cross between a Dupree and a Wedding Crasher--his certain charismatic style is undeniable on screen. You can’t help but like him in whatever he does even if the film he is in pales by comparison. Not to say the rest of Drillbit’s cast isn’t supporting Wilson as best they can. The unlucky geek squad is full of fresh faces with newcomers Gentile and Hartley capturing their inner nerd with a passion. Many will also recognize Dorfman as the spooky kid from the Ring series now a pipsqueak-y teen. Frost (Elephant) has the crazy eyes of a psychotic teenager bent on humiliation and destruction of those who stand in his way. Realistic? Perhaps not but he makes a decent villain. Mann is handed the smallest part possible but makes her presence known. Her mini-seduction scene with Wilson in the teacher’s lounge is definitely one of the film’s better moments. Still this is Wilson’s movie and frankly he can do better. Seth Rogen must have had a hell of a time in high school--he can’t quit writing about it. On Judd Apatow’s first effort TV’s Freaks and Geeks Rogen played a high school freak while last summer’s Superbad which he co-wrote with former high school bud Evan Goldberg took high school geekdom to a whole new level. Now he and Apatow team up on another I’m-a-geek-in-high-school-but-stay-true-to-myself effort hiring director Steven Brill to helm the proceedings who brings his own level of expertise having directed such comedy favorites as Without a Paddle and Little Nicky. Drillbit does have its hilarious moments--a montage of hiring a bodyguard stands out (including the cameo from the original My Bodyguard Adam Baldwin)--but overall it just isn’t as fresh and different as other Apatow/Rogen collaborations. They seem to have forgotten how not to rehash past experiences--or past movies. There's also the fact that Drillbit is PG; by surpressing the colorful language it may have hindered their creativity. Either way the current comedy kings miss the mark this time around.
Brad Pitt is furious that a photograph of him taken by artist Robert Wilson last year has wound up on the cover of an issue of Vanity Fair.
The Troy star's lawyers are currently considering legal action against the magazine, insisting the actor had no idea he was going to appear on the December cover.
Pitt is seen posing in a blue colored photo in nothing but white boxers and socks and holding a gun while appearing to be drenched with water.
According to entertainment Web site TMZ.com, Pitt had agreed to be in Wilson's avant-garde video art project in September and signed a legal release at the time for the still and video images taken in the shoot, but had no idea they would ever be used for a magazine cover.
Pitt's representative says, "We are very disappointed that Vanity Fair has chosen to put an unauthorized cover on their magazine. It seriously makes me question their integrity and motives."
Representatives for Vanity Fair have hit back at the allegations, saying, "In a letter dated Oct. 5, 2006, and sent to Pitt care of Brillstein-Grey (Pitt's managers), Wilson informed Pitt that a still image from this portrait was going to be featured in the December art issue of Vanity Fair."
A source claims the star never saw the letter.
The Vanity Fair representative adds, "Brad Pitt posed for a Robert Wilson video portrait, and in the photo release (signed by Pitt), agreed to allow Wilson to use the portrait or any images from that sitting in connection with any publicity on Wilson's video project.
"Vanity Fair decided to do a story on Wilson's video portraits and obtained rights to the entire collection of photographs from those sittings, which included Pitt's."
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That big Hulk of a guy not only got mad, he got super green, making a heap of cash at the box office this weekend. The latest Marvel comic actioner raged its way to the No.1 spot, debuting with a smashing $62.6 million.*
The opening for the not-so-jolly green giant, however, didn't quite reach the same levels as Marvel Comics' flagship Spider-Man, which set a three-day opening record of $114.8 million last year. The Hulk also trails the most recent Marvel entry, X2: X-Men United, which opened with $85.6 million last month. Among all films to open so far this year, The Hulk weighs in at No. 5, Reuters reports.
Still, The Hulk's massive numbers make it the biggest June opener of all time, followed by Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me with opened in 1999 at $54.9 million and Scooby-Doo, which opened in 2002 at $54.1 million.
Last week's topper, the briny Finding Nemo, managed to keep afloat in the second spot with $20.5 million. The high octane 2 Fast 2 Furious crossed the finish line in third place with $10.3 million, while the comedy with a higher power Bruce Almighty commanded fourth with $10 million. Rounding out the top five was the heist thriller The Italian Job stealing $7.2 million.
Other newcomers this week included the romantic comedy Alex & Emma, which swooned its way into seventh place at $6.2 million, and the American Idol ultra-pop flick From Justin to Kelly, which boogied in at No. 11 with $2.8 million.
THE TOP TEN
Universal Pictures' PG-13 The Hulk crushed the competition to take the No. 1 spot with an ESTIMATED $62.6 million at 3,660 theaters. Its per theater average of $17,104 put it well above the other films on the top 10 list.
The story follows a brilliant genetic scientist working with cutting-edge technology who absorbs a normally deadly dose of gamma radiation. When combined with his own altered DNA, the radiation turns him into an impossibly strong, rampaging creature known as the Hulk.
Directed by Ang Lee, it stars Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott and Nick Nolte.
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo fell a spot to second place this week with an ESTIMATED $20.5 million (-28%) at 3,404 theaters (-21 theaters; $6,022 per theater). Its cume is approximately $228 million.
Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton, it features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett.
Universal Pictures' PG-13-rated action-packed sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious slipped to No. 2 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $10.3 million (-45%) at 3,140 theaters (-278 theaters; $3,280 per theater). Its cume is approximately $102.1 million, making it the ninth film released in 2003 to cross the $100 million mark.
Directed by John Singleton, it stars Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser and Devon Aoki.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 Bruce Almighty dropped to fourth place in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $10 million (-30%) at 3,074 theaters (-403 theaters; $3,253 per theater average). Crossing the huge $200 million mark, its cume is approximately $210.7 million.
Directed by Tom Shadyac, it stars Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated actioner The Italian Job surprisingly climbed up the ladder this week from seventh to fifth in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $7.2 million (-25%) at 2,095 theaters (-602 theaters; $3,449 per theater). Its cume is approximately $67.6 million.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Edward Norton.
Paramount's PG rated animated feature Rugrats Go Wild fell two spots to No. 6 with an ESTIMATED $6.6 million (-42%), staying at 3,041 theaters ($2,190 per theater). In the film, Nickelodeon regulars the Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys team up to get off a deserted island. So far, it's accumulated approximately $23.5 million in two weeks.
Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, it features the voices of Michael Bell, Jodi Carlisle, Nancy Cartwright, Lacey Chabert, Melanie Chartoff, Cheryl Chase, Tim Curry, Elizabeth Daily and Bruce Willis.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 soppy romance Alex & Emma debuted in seventh place with an ESTIMATED $6.2 million at 2,310 theaters, averaging $2,701 per theater.
The film revolves around a novelist with a serious case of writer's block who hires a stenographer to help him finish his book, which he has 30 days to write or be killed by some nasty Cuban loan sharks.
Directed by Rob Reiner, it stars Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson and Sophie Marceau.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Sony Picture's PG-13 cop comedy Hollywood Homicide sank to eighth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $5.8 million (-48%) at 2,840 theaters ($2,042 per theater). The film, about a veteran police detective and his fresh-faced partner who are more interested in their side jobs than in the high-profile gangland-style murder they are currently investigating, has taken in approximately $21.4 million thus far.
Directed by Ron Shelton, it stars Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett.
New Line's PG-13 comedy Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd dropped three notches to ninth place in its second week with a dismal ESTIMATED take of $4.2 million (-61%) at 2,609 theaters ($1,639 per theater). The prequel to the 1994 Dumb & Dumber reveals how mentally challenged best friends Harry and Lloyd became pals, and has accumulated approximately $19.9 million.
Directed by Troy Miller, it stars Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri.
Warner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded dropped to No. 10 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $4 million (-30%) at 1,850 theaters (-500 theaters; $2,189 per theater). Its cume is approximately $264.5 million.
Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.
20th Century Fox's PG-rated musical romp From Justin to Kelly debuted with an ESTIMATED $2.8 million at 2,001 theaters, averaging $1,437 per theater.
The top two contenders from the first season of American Idol, winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, team up in this Grease-like beach musical, playing a pair who sing, dance and fall in love during Spring Break on Miami Beach.
Directed by Robert Iscove, it also stars Katherine Bailess, Anika Noni Rose, Greg Siff and Brian Dietzen.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $141.9 million, up 22 percent from last week's take of $116.2 million.
The Top 12, however, were down 5 percent from last year's $150.2 million total.
Last year, Fox's PG-13 Minority Report premiered at the top of the box office with $35.6 million at 3,001 theaters ($11,888 per theater), while Buena Vista's PG-rated animated Lilo & Stitch debuted at a close second with $35.2 million at 3,191 theaters ($11,050 per theater); Warner Bros.' PG rated Scooby-Doo came in third place with $24.4 million at 3,447 theaters ($7,101 per theater).