Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Anthony Bourdain is, without a doubt, the punk rock travel show host and celebrity chef. No matter how many TV series he hosts, cooking classes he teaches, books he writes, and comics he authors, he doesn't subscribe to any genre — anything and everything he does is very specifically Bourdainian. So that's why the fact that his first episode of the final season of No Reservations takes place at the "hipster apocalypse" that is Austin's annual South by Southwest music festival (heck, he even posed for the picture above, alongside staple indie band Sleigh Bells) may have his fans scratching their heads. Luckily, Bourdain took some time to chat with Hollywood.com and explain the reasoning behind the choice. He also talks about why he's switching to CNN, as well as his "ironic" status as a celebrity chef and how the Kardashians are ruining cooking shows for everyone... well, sort of.
Hollywood.com: You start off this last season of No Reservations in Austin at South by Southwest. It’s a hipster smorgasbord there. Was it your idea to start off there?
Anthony Bourdain: We’ve done the show in Saudi Arabia and in many ways – I’m not saying it’s "enemy territory" – but in a lot of ways it’s a completely different culture. It’s just not my natural environment. You know, hipster apocalypse. But my crew, we’re very tight. The camera people, the post-production and production people. And we are all active users of the social media, both for fun and [because] it’s really part of the process of making the show. So we were invited to do a panel at South by Southwest. So already, we were going to be there, doing a panel during South by Southwest. I’m a guy who likes music, I like Austin a whole hell of a lot, and I thought this was a good opportunity to tell an interesting story in an interesting place. And I think the contrast between a crotchety guy in his 50s and a bunch of hipsters – this could be entertaining. It also points at what I’ve sort of reluctantly come around to believe, that for all of the humor to be had at their expense, the movement and the direction of gastronomy and even fine dining right now is very much hipster-driven. Might you find yourself exploring the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn at some point?
The last show, our last show. Look, it’s an inevitability. To end a series without having explored Brooklyn, right next door to my own town, would have been an egregious oversight. It would have been snobbery and willful blindness and stupidity. I’ve made shows in gun country, Red State America, and some of it in Saudi Arabia, in socialist Nicaragua. I guess I should, I think I could probably handle the culture clash in Brooklyn. Especially due to the fact that so many exciting things are happening out there foodwise. Was there a “bucket list” going into the last season?
There’s always sort of a list in my head of things I’d like to do if the opportunity presents itself. I mean, I met Ludo Levevbre at Top Chef a few years ago, and I asking him where he was from and he said, ‘A small town in Burgundy.’ And right away, I said, ‘Oh, we should do a show where we go together back to where you grew up. That would be a great show.’ So, we did that this year. Going back, with Chef Michael White, back to Emilia-Romagna in Italy, where he came up as a young chef. Those were on my list. My bucket list? I filled in my bucket list eight years ago. I’m kind of beyond that now. I’ve jumped out of a plane and I’ve been on The Simpsons and write for David Simon. There’s nowhere else to go but down. If I get hit by a car tomorrow, I’m not going to be laying there as I bleed out on the street, bemoaning that I never got a chance to live. With being on CNN, there’s a show I’m looking forward to doing, they will be able to enable me to ... go up the Congo River. That is on my bucket list. Is that for sure or is that something you’re trying to get going with them?
It’s for sure that sooner or later. With an organization like CNN, I will get that done. I’ve been trying to do it for years. Is that the appeal of switching over to CNN? The fact that they can offer these opportunities to you?
They’re a worldwide news organization with a structure on the ground and experienced connections. Their ability research, to provide experienced professionals on the ground, like in the Congo – they’ve sent reporters there, they’ve done stories there. They know how to get things done. That’s a huge, very attractive feature of CNN. Also the fact that show will air simultaneously all over the world as opposed to being sold piece-mail to various networks all over the world – I like that people like our show in Malaysia, and Singapore, and Taipei, and Latin America, and we don’t have to wait two years to see how they like the show now. It’s nice knowing, "Did we do it right or did we screw it up?" Because we hear those things right away. It’s like, "How could you come to Singapore and not eat Chicken-rice?" In the past, and in your book, you’ve talked about the idea of the celebrity chef and how that’s not your thing, but it’s kind of interesting now that you’re arguably more famous than many "celebrity chefs" because of your anti-celebrity standpoint. What do you make of that?
Irony sucks, but there it is. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I’ve become part of the problem. Do you think that maybe instead of "becoming part of the problem," you’re actually offering a better way of going about the celebrity chef idea?
When I wake up every day, I don’t look in the mirror and say, "Okay, today, I am going to be sure to not be a role model, not be an advocate." TV has allowed me — whatever my job is, it’s allowed me to see the world, work with a lot of really interesting people, and just do a lot of cool stuff, and have an interesting time, have a fun time. And at the end of the day, amass interesting stories to tell. That’s what it’s all about for me. And having woke up for much of my younger, previous life, I don’t like to wake up ashamed of what I did the night before. So whatever I do, I try hard to not do anything today that I might feel ashamed of tomorrow. Hence, you don’t see the pots and pans line. I don’t have a spice mix. There aren’t Anthony Bourdain flame-encrusted knives. There’s no merch. That’s not integrity on my part; it’s vanity. I just – no can do. Are there any food-themed shows that you like to watch or can stand to watch?
I do think there are shows that are valuable. I don’t want to live in Ina Garten’s world, necessarily, but I think she knows how to cook. If you watch Ina Garten’s show, chances are at the end of the day, you’ll be better at cooking chicken than you were before. That’s not necessarily the case with a lot of cooking shows. I sorely miss Mario Batali’s Molto Mario show. I thought that was a terrific standard for a cooking show. I thought that was good for the world. I like Eric Ripert’s show, his new one … Look, it’s possible. I think the instinct to give people what they want is a really fatal one when you’re trying to make good television. It’s something I’ve tried to never think about. Whether it’s books or anything else, I never sit down and think, "What do my fans expect? What do they like, what do they want?" That’s not how I got here. I got here by doing the other thing. I try to make television that’s interesting to me and tell stories that are interesting to me and the people that I like working with ... I’ll do the very best I can at it. And if people like that, that’s fantastic. I’ve talked to cooking experts for another piece a while back, and many of them noted that the problem with a lot of the shows on Food Network and similar networks is that they perpetuate myths about cooking. Do you think that problem exists? Do you see it as a problem?
With the language of television right now, there’s sort of a Kardashian-ization of everything. There’s this notion on a lot of shows that there’s no cooking without drama. It’s not enough to have people cook their hearts as best as they can anymore, they have to be rolling around on the floor, tearing each other’s hair extension out … People are trying to do what works. They’re trying to squeeze drama into something … Good cooking is not enough. That decision was clearly made a long time ago … They want drama, they want heart-wrenching personal backstories, they want a shouting chef screaming at people to the extent that that perpetuates stereotypes? Sure. At the end of the day, people actually care a little more about who’s cooking than they used to. Being a chef, being a cook enjoys a social status it did not when I started out for sure – when it was dead-end position for low-lifes. Now there’s a certain glamor attached, to the extent that people walk into a restaurants now and are actually interested in what the chef thinks they should eat. That’s a positive result of even the worst food television. You’re an expert on all things New York and there’s a concept emerging now that more and more TV shows are taking place here, and that’s this phenomenon of trying to experience like a real, authentic New York night. Do you think that that still exists? And if so, what do you think that looks like?
Look, New York is at its most authentic in the morning. Going to Russ and Daughters or Barney Greengrass and getting a toasted bagel or a bialy with smoked fish and cream cheese – the New York breakfast, the New York deli. Sure, those things exist. Whatever the restaurant of the moment is, that’s rarely going to be what you’d call a real New York anything. Do you think the real New York is ever shown in media?
There’s a lot of really vibrant, exciting stuff going on right now. I mean, anything April Bloomfied [who started The Spotted Pig] or David Chang [who started Momofuku] does is going to be interesting. There are a lot of chefs out there doing really exciting things. Andy Ricker has opened up a New York chain of a Portland Thai restaurant – that’s about as New York as it gets. New York was always about people from someplace else coming to New York and doing something cool and interesting that New Yorkers enjoy. It’s a pretty low threshold to be considered a New Yorker or to be considered "real New York" because we’ve always been such a melting pot. And if you’re crazy enough to love New York after two years here, that pretty much makes you a New Yorker. But old school New York? Sure. There are still old school, unchanged-by-time New York institutions that seem to be hanging on. I want to touch on the comic book you wrote, Get Jiro. You went to Comic-Con for it this year. Was that the first time you had been?
I was at Comic-Con in 1976 – it had to be one of the first ones in New York – when I was a young, wannabe comic artist. But yeah, since then, it was my first, and I had a ridiculously good time. I fully exercised my inner nerd and comic enthusiast. I had so much fun. Having been there in the ‘70s, what do you make of what Comic-Con has become now that it’s focused on a lot of TV and big studio films?
I don’t care. For me, it was a gigantic space filled with vendors selling really, really cool products and beautifully bound, in-color graphic works of art. All in one place. So, bigger is better as far as I’m concerned. And I was treated really well. I was concerned that I’d be treated as sort of an outsider. I put a mask on at one point and walked around the floor, buying comic books. I just had the best time. So much fun. And it’s a boy’s dream come true; I’m in my 50s and yet, I just did a comic book. That’s so awesome. Did you have any favorite purchases from walking the floor?
Yes. I got an anthology of classic Richard Corben works … I bought a new Gary Larson book. I reconstituted my old underground comics collection of late ‘60s and ‘70s SAP comics. So I was very, very pleased with my purchases. Would you ever be interested in turning your comic book into a TV series or a movie?
I have very low expectations for any of these things. I don’t care. I just don’t care. I don’t care at all. I’d like to do another comic book because it was really, really fun and deeply satisfying to write a story and work on it and see it come together with the art and the structure and the color. It was very creatively satisfying for me, and ridiculously so. I’d do another graphic novel in a minute. Whether I ever make a dime, or it ever becomes a movie or TV show, I really could care less … I very much hope to [do another comic]. The final season of No Reservations premieres Sept. 3 at 9 PM ET on Travel Channel. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Travel Channel (2)] More: Why Anthony Bourdain's 'The Layover' Actually Works Anthony Bourdain Leaves Travel for CNN: Will He Take His Edge With Him? Video: Watch Anthony Bourdain Eat Bull Testicles
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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.
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.
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.
A New York-based research company has completed a comprehensive review of the fall TV season and determined that CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles should score big ratings Tuesdays at 9 p.m. while NBC's The Jay Leno Show could prove to be a powerhouse at 10 p.m. -- particularly on Tuesdays.
NewMediaMetrics' predictive analysis, says Mediaweek, shows that ABC's FlashForward, NBC's hospital drama Trauma; Fox's Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show and the CW's Vampire Diaries all have promise. Other new series flagged by NewMediaMetrics are ABC's The Forgotten, Fox musical comedy Glee and ABC's Cougar Town and Eastwick.
In all, ABC boasts nine of the top 20 new shows, according to the NMM analysis. Last year, NMM's picks resulted in an 86.4% accuracy rate.
In addition to Tuesdays, NMM believes the primetime Leno experiment will get good traction on Thursday nights as well.
NMM co-founders Gary Reisman and Denise Larson noted that while no one has seen a final blueprint for the new Leno program, the elevated expectations are a function of viewers' "emotional attachment" to the comedian, explains Mediaweek.
Full story: http://www.hollywoodwiretap.com/?module=news&action=story&id=38601?3e3ea140
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Barnyard reminds me of a classic Far Side comic strip from Gary Larson in which there’s a bunch of cows in a field near a road standing around on two legs smoking cigarettes chatting with one another. One of them suddenly yells “CAR!” and they drop on all fours and act like well cows as the car drives by. Once the car is gone they stand back up again and resume their activities. Funny right? For a comic strip. To concoct a whole movie around the idea however you might be pushing it. And so we have Barnyard. The cows—along with the hens the goats pigs horses et. al.—walk on two legs and conduct themselves in a humanly fashion when the farmer is away. They even party hardy in the barn-turned-speakeasy once the sun goes down. Of course to keep the story going Barnyard throws in a father-son conflict with evil pillaging coyotes as the villains. Whatever. The cows are still standing in the end. The list of big talent lending their vocals this time around also fail to inspire. Comedian Kevin James voices the main cow Otis the “original party animal” who could care less about anything else but having fun. Gruff veteran Sam Elliot plays his dad Ben the strong leader of the farm who tries to teach his son how to care for the other animals. Yawn. Let’s see there’s also Friends’ Courteney Cox as a lovely she cow; Wanda Sykes as her wisecracking friend (does she do anything else but wisecrack?); Danny Glover as a wise old mule (yes this is what he’s been reduced to); and Andie MacDowell as a mother hen. A real mother hen. Don’t even ask about Wild Mike. And don’t even get me started on the fact ALL the bovines have udders regardless of gender. Is Otis a bull trapped in a cow’s body? Of course as I’m obsessing over this rather glaring error in animal realism I have to stop myself realizing I’m watching a movie about talking farm animals livin’ life large as quasi-humans. Sigh. Writer/director Steve Oedekerk—Jim Carrey’s go-to screenwriter having penned Bruce Almighty and both Ace Venturas—also has Kung Pow: Enter the Fist under his belt. Yes he knows a bit about comedy but his comic sensibilities obviously run very broad. In other words there are no subtle inside remarks aimed at the adults. To Oedekerk’s credit there are some moments of hilarity especially when Otis and a bunch of “Jersey” thug cows go for a joy ride. But it’s fleeting. It might be time to take a break from this glut of cutesy CGI animation.