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.
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Supernatural is one extremely unique show. Even during a fast-paced and high stakes mythology arc like the one currently taking place in Season 8, it found time and a clever way to tie in a minor character from Season 7. Remember Krissy Chambers, from “Adventures in Babysitting?” She was back in last night’s episode, “Freaks and Geeks,” but she had grown up and changed a lot more than just a regular year’s worth.
The last time we saw Krissy, Sam and Dean had convinced her father to give up the hunting life so she could lead a normal, safe life. But when Sam and Dean found her and two other teens hunting a nest of vamps during one of their cases, they realized she wasn’t as safe in suburbia as they thought.
It seems that another hunter from Sam and Dean’s past created a school for young hunters: Victor believed that with the right upbringing and training, he could create the next generation of hunters, but better. He recruited three teens (Krissy, Aiden, and Josephine) whose families had been murdered by vampires and helped them get revenge for the promise to keep hunting for Victor after they achieved their personal goals. That’s right: Krissy’s father was killed during their “normal” life, and she was back in the game for revenge. Welcome to Hunter University!
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While on the surface, Hunter University actually seems like a great set up with its homely atmosphere, normal schooling and chores mixed in with highly trained hunting, but this is Supernatural. If something seems too good to be true, there is something insidious brewing beneath the shiny veneer on the surface. Victor was so desperate to build his family back up (his wife and kids were murdered by supernatural creatures) that he actually ordered a vampire to kill the teens’ families, and set up other vampires to take the fall. Once he helped the teens orchestrate their revenge, they would be fully committed to Victor’s schooling and his makeshift family.
Dean and Sam obviously figured out the truth behind Victor’s nefarious plans – because they truly are the best damn hunters out there – and helped reveal the truth to Krissy, Aiden, and Josephine. Dean even imparted his wisdom to the kids that hunting isn’t always about killing and there are shades of grey to good/evil when he taught them how to cure a vampire who hadn’t fed yet. Sometimes, you can save people instead of just killing them. And his teachings caught on: instead of shooting Victor for revenge, Krissy left him alive to live with his pain and regret. She took the high road, but Victor took the low road and he shot himself in the head. Intense.
It was interesting to see Dean’s new attitude spelled out, since he hadn’t yet vocalized it ever since he changed in Purgatory and throughout his bond with Benny. He truly has evolved from his bloodthirsty, shoot ‘em up attitude from earlier seasons, and it was great to see him pass along this more reasonable and human way of hunting, especially since this is the next generation of hunters. Krissy, Aiden, and Josephine have seen too much to leave the life, but they did promise not to go out looking for evil. If it wandered into their town, it was fair game.
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It always hits me during episodes like "Freaks and Geeks" that Supernatural is a truly loyal show, both to its fans and its history. Last night demonstrated how nothing in the past is forgotten. Rather, everything the Winchester brothers have been through adds up and is always in play. From the reemergence of Krissy and Victor (both separate occurrences in Sam and Dean’s past hunting days), as well as vampire lore from previous seasons, including the cure for the condition that came about when soulless Sam let Dean get turned into a vamp, Supernatural is committed to everything it has served up over the past 8 seasons, and is constantly proving that no detail goes unnoticed and no plot line unresolved. It even tied it all into the current issue with a neat little bow that never felt forced.
This week’s lesson reinforced Sam and Dean’s desire to close the gates of hell now more than ever, since they’ve seen the newest generation of hunters already too entrenched in the life to ever leave it voluntarily. Sam and Dean know the only way out of the hunting life is to die early, and bloody. These three teens may be good hunters, but there’s no guarantee in this life. The only way to make sure everyone’s safe and no one has to live like the Winchesters have is if there is nothing out there to hunt in the first place.
Dean was renewed with purpose to save Krissy and all the others like her out there whose lives have been turned upside down by hunting, while Sam was renewed with purpose to find a way to have a cookie-cutter, suburbia-loving, white picket fence with kids and a wife lifestyle. The only way both brothers could achieve their goals is to finish the trials and close the gates of hell. And from next week’s promos, it seems like we are going to continue that process with the next trial... let's hope Sam lets Dean help him live through it!
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[Photo Credit: Liane Hentscher]
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Remember this day. April 4, 2012 will forever be the day the world was introduced to Titanic in 3-D. And while the film, oh I don’t know, provided an unhealthy obsession for an entire nation of kind, gentle, movie-loving humans in 1997, much of the chatter around the revival of the James Cameron epic has been about the quality of the 3-D. Is it worth it? Is it even good? And I’m here to tell critics on both sides: it doesn’t even matter.
Titanic was not just a best picture contender from the late 90s. It wasn’t just an achievement in filmmaking. For many of us, it defines a pivotal year in our lives. It served as the introduction to Leonardo DiCaprio Syndrome, and the primer for later even more wild obsessions like Justin Timberlakenza and our more recent battle with Ryan Goslingitis. It taught us that it’s okay to ask a guy you just met to draw you “like one of his French girls” as long as he’s a street urchin with a heart of gold and he has at least one drawing of a fully clothed old woman in his portfolio to prove he’s not a pervert. In essence, Titanic taught us how to love. (In the “worries your parents that you’ll forever idolize characters from movies, confuse them with real life, and end up alone forever” sort of way, but we grew out of it, so cool your jets.)
The connection, while somewhat nostalgic, goes beyond that description. An entire generation’s attachment to the film stems from its merits in some respect, but the real reason that the smell of Green Apple Bubblicious I was chewing the first time I saw the film evokes my memories of “Come Josephine in my flying machine,” the chorus from “My Heart Will Go On” still gives me goosebumps no matter how many times I’ve heard it, and I started watching every Kate Winslet movie like clockwork since 1997, is that the connection to Titanic, for many of us, is a purely emotional one.
So the ads and movie posters can make claim after claim about the magnificence of the 3-D conversion, and critics can lambast it all they want. In reality, the new treatment is just gravy. For many of us, seeing Titanic in IMAX or 3-D or even 2-D in the theater again is really just a chance to go back in time to the moment we first fell in love with the film (even those of us who didn’t quite understand the underlying meaning of that sweaty hand on the car window). We could walk into the theater and receive a pair of the old-fashioned paper two-tone-plastic 3-D glasses and still be down for the voyage. Bells and whistles or not, it's all about love. Unhealthy, film-inspired love.
Are you heading to the theater to relive your adolescent experience all over again? Will you be bringing your Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers to celebrate the occasion? Will you throw your Diet Coke-soaked mini-icebergs at the screen if the 3-D isn't up to snuff, or will you just be happy to see the flick in the theater?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter at @KelseaStahler
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Top Story: Passion To Go Primetime?
Apparently Mel Gibson's Icon Prods. has quietly started the process of shopping for TV licensing deals for The Passion of the Christ, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It would be the first hugely successful film to come down the pike as a true free agent for pay TV and broadcast/basic cable licensing in more than five years, since Fox scooped up the rights to George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace. But sources told the Reporter Icon has made it clear to prospective buyers that the film must run in its entirety and that even some of the more graphic scenes of beatings cannot be edited down, which would make it tough for the four broadcast networks to line up advertisers for the controversial film, even if cuts were made. Others on the list include HBO, Showtime and other major cable outlets.
McGregor Turns Easy Rider
Ewan McGregor, who recently starred in Big Fish, takes to the road on his motorcycle for his next project. Reuters reports the 33-year-old Scottish actor will embark on a three-month journey around the world starting in Eastern Europe, through the hostile terrain of Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska and ending in New York. He'll be joined by friend filmmaker Charley Boorman, son of director John Boorman, who will film their adventures as a documentary. Since January, Reuters reports the pair have trained with ex-soldiers and learned how to perform emergency medical procedures to ensure they can survive any encounters with unfriendly weather, wildlife or serious accidents.
Walters Could Net Hefty Book Deal
Star interviewer Barbara Walters is close to signing a contract with Miramax Books to write her memoirs, Reuters reports, while a report in New York's Daily News speculated the deal could be worth as much as $6 million. "They were very closed mouth over at Hyperion," Publisher Weekly's editor John Baker told Reuters about Miramax's parent publisher. "But an editor there told me they expected to be able to confirm something in about 24 hours." But Baker said he was surprised at the $6 million figure. "I expected it to be a lot lower than this. It sounds phenomenally high. You'd have to sell a couple of millions of copies to get the money back. I'd be surprised if it comes down at that level."
More on Writing Books…
Billy Crystal has joined the league of celebrities who write children's books. As a "love poem" to his first grandchild, the 57-year-old actor penned I Already Know I Love You, published by HarperCollins, which details things Crystal hopes to do with his grandchild, including eating spaghetti and going to a baseball game, Reuters reports. "It's profoundly moving when your baby has a baby," Crystal said about his daughter having a child, after reading his new book to 5-year-olds at the Children's Museum in Manhattan Tuesday.
Simpson, Jackson Rate Well Over Weekend
The ABC Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey variety special, which took in 11.5 million viewers Sunday, as well as Janet Jackson's appearance on Saturday Night Live helped bolster the ratings over the Easter weekend, The Associated Press reports. CBS won the week overall with 11 million viewers, while NBC came in second with 10.2 million viewers. Fox had 8.6 million viewers followed by ABC with 7.7 million and the WB and UPN with 2.7 million each. For the week of April 5-11, the top 10 shows were: American Idol (Tuesday), Fox; The Apprentice, NBC; Survivor: All-Stars, CBS; American Idol (Wednesday), Fox; ER, NBC; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: Georgia Tech vs. Connecticut, CBS; The Swan, Fox; Friends, NBC; Without a Trace, CBS.
Parton Receives "Living Legend" Award
Dolly Parton will receive "The Living Legend" award from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the AP reports. The 58-year-old singer and songwriter, whose hits include "Jolene" and "9 to 5," will perform at the ceremony for a taped special set to air in May on the cable channel Great American Country. Past recipients include musicians Johnny Cash and Ray Charles; filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese; comedian Bob Hope; and baseball player Cal Ripkin Jr.
Role Call: Affleck Joins Glory; Plummer in Our Fathers; and Beauty Shop
Ben Affleck is set to star in Jerry Bruckheimer's Glory Road, which aims to start production this summer. In the project, Affleck will play college basketball coach Don Haskins who led the first all-black lineup of players from Texas Western to the NCAA championship in 1966 … Christopher Plummer will star in Showtime's adaptation of David France's Our Fathers, about the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. Plummer will portray Boston's controversial Cardinal Bernard Law, whose repeated failure to remove abusive priests from ministry lead to his resignation in December 2002 … Andie MacDowell, Alfre Woodard and Bryce Wilson have joined the ever-growing cast of MGM's Queen Latifah comedy Beauty Shop. MacDowell will play a conservative Southern socialite, while Woodard is set to play Miss Josephine, the shop's Afrocentric stylist. Wilson will play a con/truck driver turned hairstylist.
Top Story: Blake Loses Lawyer, Trial Postponed
Robert Blake's murder trial has been postponed indefinitely after Blake's lawyer Thomas Mesereau Jr. quit the case, citing "irreconcilable differences," AP reports. Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp canceled the jury selection that was to begin in less than two weeks and postponed the trial indefinitely following a one-hour meeting with Blake and Mesereau. Judge Schempp set a hearing date for Feb. 23, by which time Blake should have a new lawyer. Best known for his TV role as a tough talking cop on the '70's drama, Baretta, Blake, 70, is accused of murdering wife Bonnie Lee Bakely outside a restaurant in 2001. Spokeswoman for the district attorney's office Sandi Gibbons said, "We had no idea this was coming. It's like being punched in the stomach. It's like having the rug pulled out from under us. We're a little shell-shocked right now." This is the third lawyer Blake has lost.
That '70's Show Stars To End Run Next Season
Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher will be around a little longer than originally planned, AP reports. Though Grace, 25, had made it know that this season would be his last, he has decided to stay on for one more season. Ashton Kutcher will also remain on the show though next season. The comedy has aired on Fox since 1998.
Paris Hilton May Host Pageant
Notorious party girl and now TV star Paris Hilton may host Donald Trump's Miss USA Pageant on NBC, AP reports. Trump reportedly got the idea while Hilton's parents were visiting his estate in Palm Beach. ""I've known Paris since she was a little girl. She's a fine girl ... I think she will give the pageant its highest TV ratings," the real estate tycoon told US Weekly.
Christian Groups Behind The Passion of the Christ Opening Day
Christian groups are going so far as buying out entire theaters so people may watch Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ and then discuss its message in church, AP reports. Says Josh Baran, a public relations executive publicizing the film, "They're going to bus them to theater. They will give assignments in many churches--go to the movie, we're going to talk about it." Other groups are going still further, standing in line to buy people tickets to the film, free of charge. Cory Engel, pastor of Harvest Springs Community Church in Great Falls, Montana explains, "This is a window of opportunity we have. Here's a guy who's putting his money into a movie that has everything to do with what we do. Churches used to communicate by having a little lecture time on Sunday morning. People don't interact that way anymore." The Passion of the Christ will open in 2,000 theaters on Ash Wednesday, a remarkable number considering the film is self-financed by director Gibson and all the dialog is in Aramaic and Latin. Jewish and Christian groups have expressed concern that Gibson's film depicts Jews as being solely responsible for the death of Jesus. "When they attack him, they attack millions of people in middle America," said Jennifer Giroux who created a website devoted to getting people to watch the film, "We have watched films concerning the Holocaust with compassion, concern and with sorrow, and we just want to be able to watch this beautiful, beautiful movie about our faith."
Speaking of Faith...Faith Evans To Attend Rehab Clinic
As part of an agreement wherein drug charges will be dropped, Faith Evans and her husband have agreed to complete a 13-week drug-counseling program, AP reports. Evans and her husband Todd Russow were charged with marijuana and cocaine possession and having improper license plate tags after the couple was pulled over in suburban Atlanta last month. Evans is the widow of rapper Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1997.
Role Call: Affleck a Brat, McGraw Goes Out On Friday
Ben Affleck has signed on to star in a new adaptation of Josephine Tey's novel Brat Farrar, Variety reports. Affleck will play the eldest of sibling in a story of familial strife following the death of the patriarch. Affleck's character was thought to have died as a boy, but returns to claim a portion of the deceased wealth. The 1963 novel was adapted once before in 1993 as the film, Paranoiac. Fight Club scribe Jim Ohls' script will more closely follow the novel's plot than the previous adaptation did...
Country singer Tim McGraw will start filming this week on a film adaptation of H. G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights also starring Billy Bob Thornton, AP reports. McGraw, who previously acted in the unreleased indie, Black Cloud, will play an alcoholic father who tries to relive his youthful football success through his son. The film takes place in a football-obsessed Odessa, Texas. McGraw's wife, Faith Hill, will be seen later this year in the remake of The Stepford Wives.