Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
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.
Moviemaker Tim Burton has won the first round of a court battle with his ex-girlfriend - a judge has ordered she revise her suit.
Actress Lisa Marie Smith, who has appeared in a string of Burton's films as well as dating the director for nearly 10 years, claims he cheated her out of assets they promised to share together.
She sued Burton in December alleging she was tricked into signing a contract with the filmmaker giving up the right to make further claims to his fortune. She also accused a lawyer of secretly acting on Burton's behalf.
However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanchez-Gordon said there wasn't enough evidence in Smith's complaint to support her claim Burton used fraud to cheat her out of assets. She has 10 days to revise her suit.
Burton maintains Smith was given $5 million to sign the contract, which released him from any further claims to his assets. He added if she wanted to rescind the deal she must return the money.
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
Olsen twin goes home
Teen actress Mary-Kate Olsen has been released from a health facility where she underwent six weeks of treatment for an eating disorder widely reported to be anorexia, her spokesman told Reuters on Monday. The 18-year-old icon is "feeling very well" and will continue treatment privately while preparing for college, her publicist Michael Pagnotta said. "The focus right now is on school," Pagnotta said in a statement. "She intends to live her day-to-day life normally. ... She won't be hiding. She'll be going out and doing a lot of the things that she's missed doing over the past few weeks." Olsen and her twin sister Ashley plan to enroll together at New York University in August.
Ja Rule faces assault charges
Ja Rule turned himself into Toronto police Monday and was charged with assault, following an incident at a downtown club last month, Reuters reports. Since a judge allowed a publication ban on the details of the case, authorities would say only that the charge stems from a June 5 incident at a Toronto nightclub. No more information was available. "There's no celebrity justice here," the rapper's lawyer said outside the courthouse. "You don't get treated differently in this country if your name is Martha, Michael or Ja Rule, everyone is treated the same and he'll be treated fairly." The 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, made a brief court appearance and was released on $7,500 bail.
CSI actors rehired at original salary
CBS has rehired CSI: Crime Scene Investigation stars Jorja Fox and George Eads at their original salaries of $100,000 per episode, the AP reports. Fox was dismissed July 14 after failing to provide written assurance that she planned to show up for the start of production on the series' fifth season, while Eads was let go the next day when he didn't show up for work. At the time, both actors were in salary negotiations with the network. After they were canned, Fox and Eads released appeasing statements explaining their predicaments as the result of misunderstandings.
Soprano fans must wait until 2006
Cabler HBO announced Thursday that the sixth and final season of the hit mob drama The Sopranos won't premiere until sometime in 2006, The Associated Press reports. The show, which stars James Gandolfini in the lead role of Anthony Soprano, wrapped up its fifth season last month. "It's like the Harry Potter book," HBO chairman Chris Albrecht said. "You'll wait very long and be happy when you get it." Albrecht added Sopranos creator and executive producer David Chase could now take all the time he needs to write, suggesting the final season could become longer than the customary 10 episodes Chase committed to in January.
Seacrest's On Air off air in some markets
On Air With Ryan Seacrest will soon be off the air in some parts of the country due to low ratings. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the Sinclair Broadcast Group has pulled the syndicated talk show from more than 20 of its TV stations. Sinclair stations that carry the American Idol host's show include WCWB in Pittsburgh, WLFL in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., WZTV in Nashville, WTTEL in Columbus, Ohio, and KABB in San Antonio. The move could deal a major blow to On Air, which has been struggling with low ratings since its debuted in January. It's unclear, however, when the move will take effect.
Actor Sorrells arrested in shooting death
Veteran actor Robert Sorrells, who starred in numerous film and TV Westerns including the 1969 feature Death of a Gunfighter and the popular TV series Gunsmoke, was arrested Monday for investigation of murder after witnesses told police he walked into a Simi Valley, Calif., bar Saturday and shot two patrons, killing one, AP reports. A bartender told L.A.'s Daily News the 74-year-old actor had been at the bar until it closed Friday night, returned Saturday morning looking for his credit card, then returned again in the afternoon and opened fire. Police said he shot Arthur De Long, 45, in the back and Edward Sanchez, 40, in the face and back. De Long was killed. Sanchez, 40, was hospitalized in serious condition, AP reports.
Jackson's defense wants more time
In a motion requesting the trial be delayed four months, Michael Jackson's defense team called the singer's child molestation investigation a "breathtaking" effort to take down a major celebrity, the AP reports. "The scope of the prosecution's investigation is breathtaking," the document stated. "This is not a usual criminal investigation. It is an effort to take down a major celebrity. The expenditure of resources by the prosecution is unprecedented and extravagant." Prosecutors said in a reply that while they would not oppose a "reasonable" delay, four months was too long. Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail and scheduled to stand trial Sept. 13.
Michael Moore getting Sicko
Director Michael Moore, whose $6 million pic Fahrenheit 9/11 become the first documentary to cross the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, won't have trouble financing his next film, Sicko, a critique of health-maintenance organizations. "Clearly, if you make a movie that has this ratio of how much it costs to its gross, you're going to find an easy time making your next film," Moore told reporters in a conference call over the weekend. Moore said the idea for Sicko grew from a segment he did on his The Awful Truth TV show, in which he staged a mock funeral at an HMO for a patient who was denied an organ transplant he needed to survive. The HMO relented and paid for the transplant.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.