This bald-headed, active duty U. S. Navy sailor first considered pursuing his singing dreams when he won an on-ship "American Idol"-like competition amongst his fellow sailors. He was so dedicated to...
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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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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Clueless stars Donald Faison and Stacey Dash are to reunite on the small screen 18 years after they first appeared as high school sweethearts in the cult coming of age movie. The pair starred as Murray Duvall and Dionne Davenport in the 1995 film, alongside Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, and went on to reprise their roles in the spin-off Clueless TV series, which ran from 1996 to 1999.
Now the duo is set to play on-screen lovers once again in an upcoming episode of U.S. sitcom The Exes in which Dash play will play a woman who is seduced by Faison's character Phil Chase.
The episode airs in the U.S. on Wednesday (10Jul13).
It’s official. We’re all old. Today, June 11, is the 10th anniversary of American Idol, which means the series is basically the age of a precocious, articulate child. (Are you ready for the pre-teen years, Nigel Lythgoe?) In honor of the series that has surprised, delighted, entertained, and enraged us for the past 10 years, we’ve compiled the show’s best, worst, and WTF moments. But listing the series’ best performances would be too easy. Instead, we've decided to look back at the non-musical moments — after all, we can't forget the outrageous fights, falls, and outfits meriting a slack-jawed double-take. These are the non-competition-based moments you probably forgot (and many that you’re still trying to).
Thanks for 10 entertaining, perplexing years (and Season 9), Idol!
Best of the Best
Kelly Clarkson’s Finale Breakdown with Nikki McKibbin and Tamyra Gray: This adorable break of emotion follows what is still the best finale moment of the series (no winner’s single can beat “A Moment Like This”), but the best part was when Clarkson couldn’t manage the final line due to an overwhelming wave of emotion. And when Nikki and Tamyra joined her in a group hug and helped their girl out (Nikki perhaps a bit too much), it truly felt like an expression of family, instead of cutthroat competition.
Ruben Studdard Earns a Nickname: “The Velvet Teddy Bear”
Juanita Barber Gets Testy With Simon: She was wrong. So totally wrong. But man, did it feel good to see some dish it back to King of Mean, Simon Cowell.
Season 5’s Ayla Brown Gets Famous Again When Scott Brown Tells the World She’s “Available”: Hey, thank God her Idol fame came back into the spotlight, or she’d have to settle for just being Brown’s “available” daughter. No one wants to be famous for being pimped out by your politician father.
Sanjaya’s Ponk Hawk: There are no words for this glorious incident. Only video.
Anthony Fedorov’s Transformation: He showed up looking like Revenge of the Nerds: R&B Adventure, but by the end of his Season 4 run, he looked more like a back-up Nick Carter. How this prepared him for his future role as Jesus Christ: Superstar, remains a mystery.
Chris Sligh’s Inspiration for Auditioning Was “To Make David Hasselhoff Cry”: This guy, he’s got jokes. And that one was a classic.
Queen Couldn’t Stand Ace Young’s “We Will Rock You” Either: In rehearsals, Brian May tells Young, "I will not do that to my song," when the contestant asks if he could spice up its beats. There’s nothing quite like the vindication of knowing a legendary rock band agrees with you.
Phil Stacey’s Helluva Day: In the same day, Phil Stacey wowed the judging panel in his audition, walked away with a golden ticket, and became a father.
Kelly Pickler’s Wealth of Ditzy One-Liners: The Season 7 contestant never failed to make us laugh, even if she wasn’t sure why. From the mind-boggling “What’s a ballsy?” to the classic “I had salmon,” Miss Pickler regularly had us in stiches.
Idol Gives Back Gives Us a Good Laugh: Idol Gives Back gave us back a little hope after a dreadful Season 9 in the form of some giggles. Russell Brand and Jonah Hill attempted to make us laugh with their cross-promotional Get Him to the Greek mumbo jumbo, but it was Wanda Sykes grilling Simon that really did the trick. Plus, let us take hilarious note of Tim Urban’s ditzy moment at the 1:20 mark.
Kara and Paula Give Bikini Girl a Piece of Their Minds: The bobble-headed Bikini Girl of Season 8 has become infamous. Not only did she attempt to set women-kind back about a 100 years with her sexist stunt of an audition, but she just wasn’t that great. Leave it to the ladies, Kara and Paula, to show her what real singing sounds like… even if it did descend into the madness of a giggly screechfest.
Screechfest Part Deux: Katy Perry vs. Kara: We all knew it was almost time for Kara to take a hike, and Katy Perry was the perfect sassy lady to help her in the right direction (and throw a coke in her face).
Scotty McCreery Apologizes For Bullying Jacee Badeaux: During the Season 10 auditions, the poor 15-year-old was left without a group mere hours before group performances and no one would have the youngster. The little guy spent most of the night crying until he finally found a group, but the real tender moment came when future winner Scotty McCreery took to the stage to deliver a sincere apology for adding to the kid’s terror.
Heejun Han “Talks a Lot of Craps” About Richie The Cowboy: Best. Group Week Fight. Ever. Oh, Heejun, you need a sitcom. It was hilarious watching Richie push Heejun’s every button and hearing Heejun’s annoyed responses about “hating all cowboys… even the Dallas cowboys,” but his “apology” took the cake:
Next: And now, for the Worst moments…Worst Moments – So Bad, They’re Good
Ryan Starr’s Mind-Boggling Wardrobe: Note to future Idol contestants: Try not to look like you’re hoping to be America’s Next Singing Gladiator when you’re on that very public stage.
Clay Aiken. Singing a Grease Song. In a red leather jacket: Song choice aside, let us analyze this ridiculous get-up. Dear Clay, this was about as tough as a teddy bear in a gladiator costume. Sorry, Clay, but Tim Gunn would not approve.
William Hung Followed Up His Idol Audition With “Success”: And by that, we mean some very “discerning” consumers paid money for his “album.”
Elton John Called Voting “Racist” When Jennifer Hudson and LaToya London Were Eliminated: There’s just one small issue with Sir John’s argument. That same season, Fantasia Barrino took home the Idol title.
Jonathan Rey Throws Water at Simon: This angry auditioner didn’t like what Cowell had to say (either that or he was just as curious about what was in that mysterious Coke cup) and he upended Simon’s Coca-Cola Chalice all over the cranky judge.
The Brittenum Twins Break the Law Before Showtime: After making it through Hollywood week, these singing twins threw it all away when they were busted for identity theft and were removed from the show. Idol says: Crime Doesn’t Pay.
Season 6’s Jared Cotter Dedicates “Let’s Get It On” To His Parents: Yes, you should always thank your parents. But maybe, just maybe, check the words of the song you’re about to sing before you dedicate a sex anthem to mommy and daddy. It’s just a thought.
Danny Noriega Nabs Himself a Catchphrase: Too bad “I guess they weren’t likin' it” wasn’t what America was looking for in an Idol.
Simon Tells Ryan to “Come Out Already”: These two were constantly in hot water for their homophobic banter, but this cantankerous reply from Simon Cowell took the cake. It’s one of those things we wish we could forget, but unfortunately, it’s on YouTube.
Kristy Lee Cook Gets a Little Bold With Simon: There’s defending yourself, and then there’s sticking your foot in your mouth. Guess which one describes Kristy…
Ryan Tries to Hive-Five Scott MacIntyre: Hey Seacrest, let’s try to not grab a blind guy’s hand and force him to high five you. That’s not awkward at all.
Everything Siobhan Magnus Ever Wore: She may have had a set of pipes for days, but Siobhan consistently looked like she walked into a closet covered in glue and wore whatever managed to attach itself to her sticky figure.
Kara Picks a Fight With a Guy Who's Clearly Screwing With Her: Part of the deal for an American Idol judge is putting up with the obviously fabricated characters the producers throw at them, but usually, the judges seem to be in on the game. Kara didn't quite get that concept, especially when the handsome and terribly annoying Andrew Fenlon waltzed into the audition room.
Casey James’ Creepy Audition: Yes, Kara, you had to endure Bikini Girl, but please don’t turn what should be an innocent audition into your wild, uncomfortable fantasy. We don’t want to join you in that apparently dark place.
Jennifer Lopez Cries for Chris Medina: When the judges had to eliminate Season 10 hopeful Chris Medina, despite his incredible tear-jerker of a love story, we understood Jennifer's pain. Her drama taking up the majority of the camera time, however...
Jermaine Jones is Chastized and DQ’ed on National Television: It’s understandable that the Idol producers would like to make sure they explained Jones’ sudden departure, especially after the media broke the story before his last episode could air, but this “interview” was just cruel and unusual. It’s one thing to have your past indiscretions aired all over the media, but it’s completely another to have your past indiscretions explained to you like you’re a child in front of 14 million people.
The Birth of Randy’s “Yo” Pin: Season 11 saw Randy’s favorite accessory come out to compete against Steven Tyler’s scarf collection and Jennifer Lopez’ hair. There’s just one snag with his little plan: “Yo” is not a catchphrase, my friend.
What’s you favorite – or least favorite – non-musical Idol moment?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
Does American Idol Need an Electoral College?
American Idol: Dream Duets For the Finale
American Idol Recap: Opposites Attract
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.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
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.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Carbon copying the already overly convoluted idea from the previous Final Destination movies the latest worst installment continues on the theme of one unlucky twentysomething being able to predict who’s going to die and when; this time it’s Nick. After attending a NASCAR race with his girlfriend Lori and their friends Hunt and Janet Nick has a premonition about an elaborate horrific accident that threatens everyone present. Naturally it comes true — and even though plenty of people die in the stands Death (you know the bogeyman) has only just begun. But Nick realizes that he might be able to save the survivors of that day by remembering the order in which they're supposed to die and warning them of their imminent demise. Unfortunately though not everyone believes him and they carry on with their dangerous activities ... like going to a hair salon or — gulp! — through a carwash.
WHO’S IN IT?
Up-and-coming actor Bobby Campo plays the main pretty young thing and he makes the best of what is ultimately an untenable and God-awful role to have to accept. Still fresh faces capable of pulling off his part are a dime a dozen and Destination’s past leads like Mary Elizabeth Winstead at least left us feeling their fear. Supporting actresses Shantel VanSanten as Lori and Haley Webb as Janet are there for little more than eye candy and ear-shredding screams while former MTV 'It' dude Nick Zano as the obnoxious clichéd — and obnoxiously clichéd — Hunt can’t even provide the occasional comic relief for which he was brought on. The lone bright spot comes courtesy of an evidently desperate-for-work Mykelti Williamson (aka Bubba in Forrest Gump) who plays a widowed security guard adding a shred of cred to the otherwise disposable cast (which includes a barely there Krista Allen).
Clocking in at a mercifully brisk hour and 15 minutes the makers of TFD find one way to not essentially call us stupid: They know we want our scares quickly and they deliver — except for actually scaring us. Aside from its running time the aforementioned credible performance by Williamson is literally all the movie has going for it.
Wow where to begin? Destination another in a loooong line of wholly unnecessary sequels is riddled with problems — from the are-you-kidding-me? “special” effects (even in 3-D) to the jaw-droppingly horrendous writing. Director David R. Ellis (helmer of the infinitely better Final Destination 2) should bear much of the blame. He seems uninterested in delivering anything that people go to the movies for; this Destination is nothing more than tenuously connected scenes of video-game-like deaths that try to one-up each other. And not one of the sequences is even mildly suspenseful or scary — just disturbing in the sense that some people will actually smirk in earnest at the cartoonishness of it all.
The writing though is the real culprit. Eric Bress’ (also an FD2 alum) script is incredibly unimaginative merely recycling similar but better executed scenarios from the three previous movies and swapping out the settings. With ideas so bad Bress makes it abundantly clear that there’s no inane death massacre left to explore at this point; it's basically a metaphorical surrender. And yet the dialogue is even worse — with stock stereotypical block characters muttering it to boot.
LEAST FAVORITE SCENE?
Not to completely give it away — lest we make the movie predictable! — but one of the death scenes is just so far beyond ridiculous that it transcends even sarcastic laughter. Hint: It involves water and it’s about midway through the movie … if you dare stay that long.
Even if you’re not a cinephile and you couldn’t care less about things like character depth and plot development and you’re looking for a very quick thrill The Final Destination is well beneath you. It makes recent straight-to-DVD releases look like fully coherent masterpieces. Whether in 3-D or 2-D it’s a mustn't-see!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
In the late '50s a group of elementary students put futuristic drawings in a time capsule that is then buried on school grounds. One overly obsessed kid Lucinda goes her own way by writing hundreds of mysterious seemingly non-sensical numbers on her entry. Fifty years later it’s dug up and comes into the possession of Caleb the young son of John Koestler a recent widower and astro-physics professor who becomes obsessed with the papers Caleb has brought home from class. He soon discovers the random digits are actually not-so-thinly disguised dates (including 91101 of course) for “future” disasters and there are clearly three of those dates yet to come. Although nobody believes his ramblings about this code for impending doom a nearby plane crash proves he is on to something so ominous the fate of the world could be in jeopardy. With all hell about to break loose the prof takes matters into his own hands.
WHO’S IN IT?
Just a couple of years ago Nicolas Cage starred in Next as a magician who could see into the future and had to prevent a nuclear attack. Now he’s at it again as an MIT professor who also has clues to future catastrophes and also is out to prevent the inevitable. And of course in the National Treasure films he latched on to maps that had contained similarly dark deeply held secrets. Nic clearly likes “knowing” stuff before the rest of us and he’s quite believable even if some of the circumstances in his latest sci-fi adventure are really out there -- literally. Cage somehow makes you buy into this stuff which is key to the ultimate success of the flick. As the key kids Chandler Canterbury as Caleb and Lara Robinson as Lucinda (and later Abby Lucinda’s granddaughter) are properly eerie and haunted-looking. Rose Byrne is also along for the ride as Lucinda’s grown daughter who is able to provide goosebump-inducing information that the numbers alone can’t. There’s also some dead-on creepy emoting from D.G. Maloney as a quietly foreboding stranger who seems to be following Caleb.
Unlike some recent movies of this type with nothing on the agenda but pure mayhem “Knowing” delves into the bigger issues of why we are all here providing something other than just big explosions to talk about on the way home from the multiplex. Director Alex Proyas (I Robot Dark City The Crow) certainly knows how to pull off complex action set-pieces but he and his screenwriters also seem to be genuinely interested in exploring the meaning behind the madness.
Some of the more pedantic dialogue Cage is given can be groan-inducing but since he plays John as a total believer we can forgive it. Also the film falls victim to a final act that veers into typical disaster movie territory and isn’t as compelling as the first two thirds which try to keep the premise at least marginally credible. At two hours it probably could have been tightened anyway.
The rain-soaked plane crash sequence with its gritty hand-held photography is riveting to watch and one of the most frightening depictions of a jetliner disaster put on film yet.
GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN ...
If you are really squeamish it might be worth "knowing" that you should take breaks in the big disaster sequences as the CGI effects can get pretty violent and graphic particularly for a PG-13 movie.
With plans to record a fundraising song titled "What More Can I Give?" Michael Jackson has lined up support from today's hottest acts to aid survivors and families of victims of the recent terrorist attacks the United States suffered earlier this month.
The question is: Could Jackson recreate the success of his 1985 tribute tune "We Are the World"? Our answer: Definitely.
With support from Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, Jackson is currently recording "What More Can I Give?" with the goal of raising $50 million for relief efforts, Jackson's spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, told ABCNews.com on Monday.
According to SonicNet.com, a Spanish-language version of the song is also in the works.
On Thursday, however, a spokeswoman for Jive Records told Hollywood.com that neither Spears nor Timberlake had confirmed their involvement in the upcoming Michael Jackson project.
"I believe in my heart that the music community will come together as one and rally to the aid of thousands of innocent victims," Jackson said on a press release. "There is a tremendous need for relief dollars right now and through this effort, each one of us can play an immediate role in helping comfort so many people."
Who would know better than to come up with a project like this than Jackson, who in 1985 co-wrote the tune "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, a song that would raise $65 million for USA for Africa, a fund that helps victims of starvation in Africa.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 on March 23, 1985 at No. 21 and won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
While some may think that Jackson's effort to record a new song is only intended to increase interest in his comeback efforts, the King of Pop has always been involved in charitable organizations.
In October 1998, tenor Luciano Pavarotti and Jackson's close friend Elizabeth Taylor joined the superstar in a series of concerts Jackson organized and headlined to benefit the World Peace Foundation for Children (WPFC), in hopes of providing aid to needy children and families around the world.
In Jackson's opinion, music is capable of touching people's souls, and it's "time we use that power to help us begin the process of healing immediately," he told ABCNews.com.
Jackson is not alone. Other musicians are doing their part to pay tribute to the victims by donating to different relief funds.
Music producer Phil Ramone and television producer Merv Griffin assembled several of the artists in Los Angeles to attend a fund raising event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sept. 16.
Stacey Wolf, publicist for actor Kevin Spacey, said that the event benefited the American Red Cross and featured a performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" sung by Spacey.
Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, are some of the confirmed participants at the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon being put together by the CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC networks. The event will be broadcast live from Los Angeles and New York Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern and Central. The show will be tape-delayed in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.
Singer Whitney Houston is taking a similar approach by planning to re-release her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which she originally performed before the Super Bowl XXV in 1991, when the nation had ended the Persian Gulf War. Houston's label, Arista Records, told SonicNet the singer will split the proceeds between the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fun and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund.
Janet Jackson, James Taylor and R&B singer Maxwell have joined the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Backstreet Boys, and Sade with $10,000 each in donations to the ClearChannel.com Relief Fund.
Rebecca Allmon, director of public relations for Clear Channel World Wide, told Hollywood.com on Friday that the fund has raised $5.4 million through artist contributions, patron donations, and individuals around the country who can donate money over the phone or online through Clear Channel's official Web site.
"We are so overwhelmed with the generosity of Americans everywhere who are financially participating to express their outrage," Allmon said. "We are deeply fortunate to be in a position to make that happen."
Proceeds from the Clear Channel Relief Fund will benefit organizations including the New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania police, firefighters and emergency workers, the U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, and the national and local chapters of The American Red Cross and The Salvation Army.
By having access to media resources, such as radio stations and public service campaigns, Allmon said, billboards have been created across the nation with messages that read, "In God We Trust. United We Stand."
On Sept. 14 in Birmingham, Ala., Governor Don Siegelman, spoke and led an audience of 7,000 for a candle light vigil, where civil and religious entities had an opportunity to express their feelings on the tragedy, Allmon said.
Britney Spears, along with boyfriend Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync, have created The Giving Back Fund, a charity foundation to aid the families of victims of the attacks, Launch.com reports. The fund is gathering entertainers and athletes for a special event in the near future that will benefit victims.
Spears also plans to give $1 from each ticket sold for her upcoming fall tour, and hopes plans to raise $2 million in merchandise sales and by auctioning front-row seats at her shows, The Associated Press reported.
Janes Addiction's guitarist Dave Navarro had mobile units for blood for his Sept. 12 show in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Charlotte, N.C. show on Sept. 15. "Dave didn't feel comfortable with playing shows without doing something about it," Navarro's publicist, Bobbi Gale, told Hollywood.com on Friday.
Rock band Incubus donated the proceeds from their Sept. 15 and 16 shows in New York to relief efforts. Godsmack also donated their proceeds from the sale of their merchandise to the New York City Public and Private Initiative, a fund benefiting the families of police officers and firefighters.
After canceling her show on Sept. 11, the day of the attack, Madonna led a prayer for peace at her Staples Center performance in Los Angeles on Sept. 14. Other artists such as Aerosmith, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson and Cake have canceled shows in the aftermath of the tragedy.
This bald-headed, active duty U. S. Navy sailor first considered pursuing his singing dreams when he won an on-ship "American Idol"-like competition amongst his fellow sailors. He was so dedicated to his goal that he missed the birth of his second daughter on audition day of season 6 of "American Idol" (his daughter arrived early!). He currently lives in Jacksonville, FL; however, he grew up in Cincinnati, OH and holds a degree in vocal performance, as well as performs as a U.S. Navy singer. He is married with two children.