Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes.
The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what.
No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization.
But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes.
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With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin.
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It's remarkable how much Veronica Mars feels like coming home again. Ms. Mars has had nearly a decade off from her detective duties, but the character and the series at large saunters right back into form with such a confident swagger, it feels like she never really left at all.
The product of a now infamous Kickstarter campaign, Veronica Mars is the film sequel to the much beloved but scarcely watched CW series that followed the adventures of a teenage private eye. Mars solved mysteries surrounding the seedy denizens of the fictional Neptune California, a beach town where the rich socialites and working class heroes clash quite frequently and often violently. The series was a terrific mix of Nancy Drew and Raymond Chandler, give or take a Buffy, airing for three seasons before being canceled. But thanks to creator Rob Thomas' audacious Kickstarter and a brewing cult of fans, Veronica Mars has been given a second chance at life, a chance that precious few shows receive.
The film picks up with Veronica (Kristen Bell) knocking on 30's door and enjoying a comfortable life in New York City with her long time boyfriend Piz (Chris Lowell). Her youthful gumshoe years are well behind her, but her old life comes back into swing when former flame Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is charged with murdering his starlet girlfriend. Veronica tells herself that she only wants to consult a friend, but Neptune's magnetic pull becomes too hard to resist.
The film is a ton of fun. It's still as whip smart as the series ever was, and the quips whiz by effortlessly and constantly... often right over the heads of those who aren't already baptized by the gospel of Veronica. The show quickly falls back into familiar rhythms, and the nine years away haven't dulled the character's verbal barbs. Prepare to be bathed in waves of wit. Even outside of the near-relentless banter, the show maintains a nice and heavy sense of tension when the mystery sets in, and things get serious. While the actual mystery itself is far from brilliant, it's still engaging enough to entertain. In any case, the main course here is the characters, and they are as stellar as ever. Keith Mars (the fantastic Enrico Colantoni) is still the easy frontrunner for dad of the millennium.
The most remarkable thing about the film is how much it feels like the Veronica Mars of old, and that's the best compliment we can pay it. The returning cast members slip into their old roles with so much ease, and the film never feels like it's straining to regain that old Neptune spark. It turns out that watching a near 30 Veronica is just as much fun as watching the sleuth in her teenage years. And the fact that the show's general formula doesn't feel out of place now that we're following a load of late 20-somethings instead of high schoolers probably says something about how smartly and strongly crafted the original show was in the first place.
Rob Thomas clearly isn't trying to broaden his formula to catch new fans, and it doesn't make sense that he'd do so anyway. This is clearly a film built from the ground up for Veronica Mars fans, as it should be. A hefty intro montage at the beginning tries its best to get newcomers caught up on the three seasons of the television show, but if you didn't spend at least a couple hours cruising along the seedy streets of Neptune all those years ago, some of the film's charm might be lost on you.
The Veronica Mars film, at its core, is basically a damned good two hour episode of the original series. Now, that's not exactly ambitious, but the fans that put down their hard earned money to fund the film weren't necessarily paying for ambition. What we have here is unquestionably and purely Veronica Mars. So self-assured and comfortable in it's own celluloid skin, it's a film that dutifully embraces everything that made that series so brilliant and fun in the first place. Welcome home, Veronica, it's been a while.
Warner Bros. Entertainment
There are plenty of cult television series with underdog stories. After Firefly was cancelled, Joss Whedon wrangled the capital to create Serenity, a movie that tied up all the loose ends left by the show. Seven years after Arrested Development was given the boot by Fox, Netflix picked it back up and gave the show new life.
But the biggest comeback in television history has to be awarded to Veronica Mars, the little TV show that could. Last spring, Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas blew up the Internet when he set up a Kickstarter to raise money for a movie that would wrap up the series. It seemed everyone in the TV and film industry had a fit about how crowd sourcing could change the way Hollywood operates. (As it turns out, aside from a few other successes, nothing much has changed so far.)
Now, with less than two months left until Veronica Mars premieres in movie theaters around the country, The CW announced a spinoff web series to air on its CW Seed website. Ryan Hansen will star in the web show as his character Dick Casablancas and Thomas will be involved in the production. Now that the fans have revived Veronica Mars, it seems she won’t die again — and we couldn’t be happier.
As Veronica Mars, Firefly/Serenity, and Arrested Development have proved, cancelling a TV show is not necessarily the true death of a series — especially when fans make their voices heard. Television series can be resurrected into movies, Netflix series, or web series. Of these, web series are the most important because they don’t require as much investment.
If the Veronica Mars web show is popular and successful, there’s a possibility other cancelled TV shows could go this route. (Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.) Whether or not Veronica Mars will live on past the web series, it goes to show how much influence the fans’ money — and voices — can have in Hollywood.
Cult TV show Veronica Mars is returning as a new online spin-off series. Fans of the detective drama can expect another dose of the show when a spin-off debuts online via the CW network's new Seed website - the same company which Veronica Mars called home when it was on the air from 2004 to 2007.
CW chief Mark Pedowitz made the announcement on Wednesday (15Jan14) during the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, and revealed, "The Veronica Mars movie got it going. (Creator) Rob Thomas is very excited about doing this at CW Seed, but... It may not appear before the film comes out."
He also added that the spin-off will likely consist of six to eight 10-minute segments, but no time frame has been set for its release.
Thomas later took to Twitter.com to reveal the spin-off will star Veronica Mars regular Ryan Hansen, who will play a version of himself, as he attempts to put together a spin-off for his character, Dick Casablancas.
Veronica Mars had a revival last year (13) when Thomas, along with star Kristen Bell, launched a Kickstarter.com crowdfunding campaign to bring the show to the big screen.
They ended up raising $5.7 million (£3.5 million) in fan donations in 30 days and became the most-supported project in the fundraising website's history.
The Veronica Mars film hits cinemas in March (14).
Granted, there is a good deal of crossover between the people who watched Party Down and the people who watched Veronica Mars. But for all those outlying "Are We Having Fun Yet?" exclaimers who never ventured the way of Neptune, the upcoming VM movie might bear some unexpected draw. Courtesy of Kickstarter, the film adaptation of Rob Thomas' neo-noir series set production underway in March, much to the delight of the cult fan community who bade a premature farewell to the program in 2007. Ever since, the movie has amounted a good number of Veronica Mars cast members to star, including central players Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen... both also Party Down alums. Now joining Veronica/Uda Bengt and Dick Casablancas/Kyle Bradway, as TVLine reports, are a pair of old friends: Rob Thomas mainstay Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe/Ron Donald) and VM first timer/Party Down champ Martin Starr.
As such, even if you didn't watch Veronica Mars, the Party Down appeal might be enough to draw you in... of course, almost nobody watched that show either, so who knows how many people are actually going to see this movie?
And of course, a Party Down-stocked cast does not prove an acceptable substitute for a Party Down film. Yes, we're duly excited for Veronica Mars, but these casting bits just whet our appetites for a feature chronicling the latest adventures of the Los Angeles catering company. But we won't be greedy — one Rob Thomas masterpiece taking film form at a time is just fine. So for now, we're happy.
But we'll be waiting. Knock Veronica Mars out of the park, then back to Kickstarter for Party Down. And if you have time afterward, maybe a Rats Saw God adaptation? Okay, that's asking a bit too much...
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Krysten Ritter and Ryan Hansen have become the latest Veronica Mars stars to join the cast of the movie adaptation of the cult TV series. Ritter will reprise her role as Gia Goodman in the film, which was funded by fans via a Kickstarter.com crowdsourcing campaign, and Hansen will be back as wealthy Dick Casablancas.
Announcing the news in a statement on Friday (14Jun13), Ritter wrote, "I'm thrilled to be reprising my role of Gia Goodman in the Veronica Mars movie. It's gonna be very juicy Marshmallows!!!!! AAAHHHH!!!! Forgive my over-use of exclamation points. Since you can't hear me squealing, I'm reduced to excessive punctuation. Ha!"
Hansen filmed a bizarre comedy dance video featuring Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell, to announce his involvement, saying, "I can't express how excited I am to be a part of this."
Other returning cast members include Kristen Bell, who played the title character on TV, Jason Dohring, Chris Lowell, Francis Capra, Tina Majorino, Amanda Noret, Sam Huntington and Daran Norris.
Production on the film is scheduled to begin on Monday (17Jun13).
The first Veronica Mars star who is not Kristen Bell is officially on board for the upcoming Veronica Mars movie, and you'll probably squeal when you find out who it is: Jason Dohring, a.k.a. Veronica's true love Logan Echolls, a.k.a. the dreamiest d-bag to ever grace the UPN network, has signed on to reprise his role in the Kickstarter-funded feature film about everyone's favorite teen detective.
Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas announced the news in an email to the movie's Kickstarter campaign backers. "Jason Dohring is officially on board for the Veronica Mars movie," Thomas says. "We now have three actors officially cast. Veronica, Logan and the waiter who says, 'Your check, sir.'"
The third role belongs to a generous soul who donated $10,000 to the project within hours of its official launch, with the promise that there's no way the donor's brief appearance would land on the cutting room floor.
RELATED: What We Know About the 'Veronica Mars' Movie
Dohring is only the second original cast member to officially commit to reprising his role, but the hold-up is really just due to contract negotiations. "Don't worry. We're busily working on bringing your favorites into the fold," Thomas assures fans in his update.
Thomas told the Huffington Post after the Kickstarter launch that in addition to Dohring and the two other cast members who appeared in the Kickstarter announcement video with him and Bell — Enrico Colantoni, who played Veronica's sheriff dad, Keith, and Ryan Hansen, who played Logan's even d-baggier best friend, Dick — he'd also reached out to many more of the show's regular cast members. "Before we launched, I talked to Francis Capra [Eli 'Weevil' Navarro], Percy Daggs [Veronica's BFF Wallace], Tina Majorino [Veronica's other BFF, Mac] and Chris Lowell [Stosh 'Piz' Piznarski] and told them what we're doing and that I hoped they would be available and excited about it," he said. "They certainly all are, but we don't have them in deals yet. ... I have a lot of confidence that we're going to get them, we're just not there yet."
RELATED: Why So Much 'Veronica Mars' Movie Backlash?
The VM movie will revolve around the gang's 10-year high school reunion. "Having Veronica drawn back around the same time as her 10-year high school reunion allowed me a graceful way to include as many of the cast members as possible," Thomas told the Huffington Post.
Though there was no doubt a Veronica Mars movie could happen without some epic love story action with Logan, it's nice to know the ink is officially dry on Dohring's contract.
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[Photo Credit: The WB]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.