Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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First thing's first: if you haven't watched last night's episode of American Horror Story...GET OUT! Right now! This post will spoil a lot of things for you, so don't say we didn't warn you!
Now, back to business: it was an epic evening of episodic television on the Ryan Murphy horror show last night. The revelation that murderer-at-large Bloody Face is in fact none other than our very own Doctor...Oliver Thredson, came as quite a shock to many. (Can anybody say: TWIST!) That's right, the show's beloved Zachary Quinto is, in fact, our killer of women. And while some people may have seen it coming (cough cough I am a television genius cough), others were shocked that the long-built-up serial killer wasn't revealed to be the is-he-or-isn't-he-a-Nazi (he's probably a Nazi) Dr. Arthur Arden, played by James Cromwell.
It was a dark turn for the character many once believed to be the single ray of light to right so many of the erred ways of the Briarcliff staff. Now, we have a whole new set of worries: will Lana live? How has Bloody Face been able to escape prosecution for so long (since he is seen in the 'Modern' sequence, scaring his imitators away from Adam Levine's nearly-dead body)? How many copycats are there? Did this infamy stem from Lana's writing? (Will she live to write the story of Bloody Face?) Will there ever be hope for poor Kit (Evan Peters)? We went right to the source himself, in an interview with Quinto to get some answers.
So how did Quinto feel about his character's dark turn? "I knew from the very beginning [about Thredson being Bloody Face], it was part of the conversation I had with Ryan about coming back to the second installment of the show in the first place," he explained. "As a result I felt that my responsibility then became creating a character that people could trust."
Quinto sees the role as perhaps a bit less foreign to the everyday human experience than most would assume at first glance. "It's more rooted in character and relationships. I like that this was grounded and real, and I'm always drawn to that sort of connection. ... It was an immersion."
But when it comes to playing a serial killer with such deep knowledge of psychiatry? It seems like there's more going on there, huh? Quinto agrees. The slow build to getting the "how" and the "why" of Dr. Thredson's desire to help Lana flee the asylum kept everybody guessing. "I think a lot of his actions in the first four and a half episodes of Asylum were serving some ulterior motive. I think he was trying to gain Lana's trust, gain some proximity and intimacy with her. ... I think he was definitely trying to show her that he could be there for her, that she could rely on him even in as something as ugly as [the process of undergoing aversion therapy treatment]."
Quinto, an openly gay man himself, knows that fans may have found his approval of the therapy unsettling, but asserts that it's just about playing to the times. "... It was a pervasive mentality that homosexuality could be treated ... [Dr. Thredson] was implementing the 'forward thinking' of the time."
That said, Quinto believes Thredson himself doesn't totally believe in it—outside of being a really great manipulation tactic on Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson). "It put him in a position when it didn't work that he could go deeper. ... He knows [the aversion therapy] won't work on some level, I think, and he can sort of be more radical about [getting Lana out] since she already has more faith and trust in him. It's an incredibly manipulative tactic that works."
This, of course, leads to the question: why Lana, of all the patients—someone who, on some level, he must morally oppose (since, you know, he did kill her girlfriend and all)? Well, apparently we're close to finding out! "Next week's [episode] is called The Origins of Monstrosity, so it really dives into a lot of the roots of the characters in Asylum. A lot of things will become clearer and probably more disturbing in the coming weeks." Sounds...ominous.
And while fans can rejoice at the announcement of the third season pick-up, Quinto is staying quiet on his potential role for next season. "I'm so glad it's doing well and people are responding to it...[but] I haven't had any conversations with Ryan about what he's thinking about for a third season."
In the end, Quinto believes that the show is breaking ground, and pushing boundaries that are asking to be pushed in this modern world. "I think there's obviously a sense of collective anxiety in the world that we live in," Quinto explained. "It's very complicated—precariously perched in so many ways [politically and socially], and I think that plays back [in Asylum]. It taps into that kind of primal fear that all of us share, that builds in society, and needs an outlet. ... [Horror shows] stand to serve that purpose ... and I think that's important, actually. It's exhilarating but also a little bit scary that it reflects the world."
Horror shows are certainly reaping the benefits of this fear, it seems, and Quinto agrees. "A story that reflects societal fear back at the audience—on some visceral level—is the most compelling kind of horror, and I think that's what the show's doing in a lot of ways."
What do you think about Quinto's character revelation? Surprised by the Bloody Face unveiling? Sound off in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Byron Cohen/FX]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Today, we're checking out the return of American Horror Story now that it has buried the gimp in the leather suit and moved into an insane asylum. Are you quaking in your boots?
Series: American Horror Story
What Comes After the Colon?: Asylum
Premiere Date: Wednesday, October 17, at 10 PM on FX
Log Line: New story, new cast, new location, new ghosts, new bad accent for Jessica Lange, same old scariness.
Murder's In the House: This time around, instead of the California "Murder House" with all its deceased residents, the show is investigating Briarcliff, a former tuberculosis ward that became a mental institution in the 1960s that sounds like it's the name of a secretarial school. In modern America it is an abandoned, graffiti-covered relic much like an empty warehouse or Detroit.
Who Is Back: Jessica Lange, of course, this time playing a patrician New England nun named Sister Jude who has a bad attitude and lust in her heart. Sarah Paulson, who played a psychic last season, has an expanded role as Lana, a reporter who wants to expose what is going on at Briarcliff. Evan Peters, who was the man in the rubber suit is now Kit Walker a man who may or may not have murdered his wife. Zachary Quinto, one of the dead bickering gay lovers, is now a psychiatrist on staff at the hospital. Oh, and Ryan Murphy says that Dylan McDermott will be back in some capacity this year. As long as we get to see Dylan McDermott's back side, then everything is fine.
Who Is New: Shakespeare in Love star Joseph Fiennes is Sister Jude's scratch post as the cleric who runs the asylum, Babe lover James Cromwell is this year's creepy doctor who lurks in the basement, Argo escapee Clea DuVall is Lana's lesbian lover, Big Love sisterwife and hipster queen Chloe Sevigny plays a nymphomaniac, Lily Rabe as a stupid nun. Oh, and let's not forget Jenna Dewan (aka Mrs. Channing Tatum) and The Voice chair spinner Adam Levine as a pair of lovers visiting the asylum.
The Serial Killer: This year the big baddie is "Bloody Face," a creepy serial killer who skinned his victims and wears a corpse's bloody face as a mask.
Things in This Season that Ryan Murphy Is Obsessed With: Redheads, gay people, people with developmental disabilities, mean old blonde ladies, uniforms, bondage, S/M.
Worst Dirty Talk: "Do you want to do it in the death chute?" "Ready for an injection?" "Do it again and I'll blow you." "You can totally put it in my ass right now." "You can shave me bald as a cucumber and I'll still be the hottest tamale in this joint."
References to Women Receiving Anal Sex: Two.
Butt Shots: Two.
Sexual Encounters: Four.
Crazy Head Contraptions Like in Clockwork Orange: Two.
Worst Time Travel Joke: "30 cents a gallon? Just because you're out here in the sticks doesn't mean you can gouge people."
Creepiest Place Always: The woods. Nothing good ever happens in the woods in horror movies. It's not like that's where the teddy bears are having their picnic. People are always dying in them there woods.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: FX]
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After revealing a set of short, mysterious, and creepy teases, American Horror Story: Asylum creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have finally unveiled a full trailer containing scenes and clips from the upcoming season, which will feature entirely new overarching themes – lust, fear, insanity, and religion – and a new setting in Briarcliff, a former East Coast tuberculosis ward that was changed into an asylum for the criminally insane in the 1960s.
Season 2 will feature many new as well as familiar faces – some Season 1 veterans are returning for another round, however as different characters entirely. Emmy winner Jessica Lange is back, this time as Sister Jude, a nun running the asylum. Sister Jude isn’t all prayers and faith, though… she seems to enjoy torturing (more Season 1 vets) Evan Peters' Kit, and Lily Rabe's fellow nun Sister Eunice. Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet will make a return to the series as well, but instead of playing a victim like he did in Season 1 (heeeeere piggy-pig-pig), he will portray a killer. Other returning players include Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto.
Some new faces that will be serving up scares, chills, and all around creepiness are Adam Levine, Jenna Dewan, Chloe Sevigny, James Cromwell, and Joseph Fiennes.
Watch the new trailer below, and hit the comments to tell us what you think. Are you prepared to be scared? Or are you going to be like me, watching the premiere through the cracks between your fingers? The new season premieres Oct. 17 on FX.
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: FX]
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Casting TIdbits: Looks like June from ABC’s Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 (Dreama Walker) has some competition — and no, it's not her roommate Chloe (Krysten Ritter). Angelique Cabral has nabbed the recurring role of Fox Paris, a junior analyst who works with June at her new firm. Meanwhile, Steven Culp will go to Grey's Anatomy, Maureen Sebastian heads to NBC's Revolution, Wendy Crewson will stir the pot on Revenge, and Tara Summers will work with a fictional Tara (Maggie Siff) on Sons of Anarchy. [Deadline]
Happy Endings: Looks like this year might be the actual year of Penny (Casey Wilson). The perennial singleton is about to gain a long-term (at least six episodes) beau. Nick Zano, who recently starred in 2 Broke Girls, will play Pete — the brave man willing to take on the challenge. [THR]
American Horror Story: Finally, AHS has given us something to scream about. After several 15-second bits of creepy nuns and old bathtubs, FX released a trailer that shows the new cast (including Adam Levine, Chloe Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes, and James Cromwell) and the old (Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe, and Sarah Paulson) in costume, as a creepy take on "Que Sera Sera" plays in the background. Can it be October 5 now? [TVLine]
30 Rock: 30 Rock is known for its great guest stars, but this year they're about to get bad — Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston will appear alongside comedy great Catherine O'Hara. O'Hara will play the mysterious hillbilly Kenneth's (Jack McBrayer) mom, while Cranston will play her special "friend." [EW]
[PHOTO CREDIT: David Edwards]
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Ryan Murphy's uber-mysterious miniseries-slash-horror-show, American Horror Story has its dancing shoes on with their most recent casting of Adam Levine's better half. And who better than Channing Tatum's wife, Jenna Dewan to get in on the freak(y) show? Dewan joins Levine and a truly stellar cast list that includes Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Zachary Quinto, Chloë Sevigny and Lizzie Brochere, to bring the show to life (in death?) in its entirely new second season.
We wonder if there will be any musical numbers taking place at the East Coast "horror institution" where the show is set this time around, since Levine and Dewan are known for their happy feet. The art of the dance is strong with this one: Dewan started her career as a noted dancer. Even before her Step Up days, Dewan had a very impressive career as a back-up dancer for Justin Timberlake and a bevy of other musical acts. And (of course) who could forget Levine's declaration of his moves being like that of Jagger's? Give us a musical episode or give us death, Murphy! Although if you turn it into another Glee-ful after-school special, we might be less than accepting.
What do you think of the casting choice? Do you think Dewan can convince Tatum to make an appearance (we think a dead and/or crazy stripper is exactly the character choice to boost this show up to perfection)? Sound off in the comments!
[Image Credit: Lionsgate]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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No one knows crazy better than a soap star. Former All My Children actor Mark Consuelos — who is married to Live! host Kelly Ripa — has been cast to play Spivey, a criminally insane person in the upcoming season of FX's American Horror Story.
Unlike the first season — which took place in a haunted mansion — season two will center around characters living in an insane asylum in the 1960s. Consuelos's co-stars include Jessica Lange, Joseph Fiennes, James Cromwell, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Levine, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, and Lizzie Brochere.
Photo Credit: WENN.com
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.