Shailene Woodley, star of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and The Descendents, is currently in talks to star in the Summit/Lionsgate movie adaptation of the YA book series Divergent. This news comes close on the heels of ABC Family cancelling Secret Life and Woodley booking the role of Mary Jane Watson in the The Amazing Spider-Man sequel.
Divergent, the first of three books in Veronica Roth’s dystopian series, is set in Chicago in the future, where society is divided into factions based on human traits: erudite (knowledge), candor (honesty), dauntless (bravery), amity (happiness), and abnegation (selflessness). The story focuses on 16-year-old Tris Prior, who leaves the abnegation for a rival faction and falls in love, all while hiding a dangerous secret about herself. This secret could destroy the factions for good, but that may not be such a bad thing.
I am totally behind this casting choice, as Woodley would make a great Tris. Tris begins her life in a new faction completely alone and terrified. Woodley can pull off the role of scared teenager, as Secret Life proved when she was portraying a scared teen going through pregnancy in high school. As Secret Life went on, her character Amy became stronger and stood up for herself, which is what Tris learns to do in her new faction. Her transformation from scared, weak, and alone into a brave, strong, independent teenager makes up most of the first book in the series.
The secret Tris carries matures her quickly, and Woodley clearly has the talent to show all the emotions needed to make her story believable, as evidenced by her award-winning performance in The Descendants. One of the biggest reasons I am all for Woodley as Tris is that she actually looks 16, unlike a certain female protagonist in another dystopian YA book series movie adaptation.
Neil Burger (Limitless) is directing with the screenplay by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman).
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Maintaining the fantastical but dropping any semblance of whimsy Snow White and the Huntsman transforms the classic fairy tale into a bleak Lord of the Rings-esque hero's tale full of sword fights monsters and forces of evil bent on wiping out humanity. Instead of creating a unique world or conflict for its revamped characters to explore SWATH plays it safe and sticks to the familiar beats coming off like an amalgamation of every fantasy film that's ever graced the silver screen. Director Rupert Sanders sticks to flashy special effects (some of which are truly stunning) over his greatest asset: the charismatic cast. Kristen Stewart Charlize Theron Chris Hemsworth and eight familiar-faced dwarves try their best to elevate the thin material on display but the film is under a sleeping spell — and no one steps in to wake it up.
Once again an evil queen manipulates her way into the castle and heart of a widower king only to cut his throat and throw his beautiful young daughter Snow into the tower to rot. Years later a magic mirror reveals to the wicked Ravenna (Theron) that the now-of-age Snow White (Stewart) is the answer to her waning magic and wrinkly skin. But as Ravenna's slimy brother Finn comes knocking at Snow's door the imprisoned princess pulls a fast one escaping and opening the door for a large-scale adventure through the forests mountains and swamps of the mystical kingdom.
SWATH's action feel particularly shoehorned in each set piece drifting by without any weight or purpose. After fleeing the tower Snow takes shelter in The Dark Forest (there wasn't a better name? or a name at all?) where she's tracked by the Queen's freelancer The Huntsman (Hemsworth). A few fleeting character moments later the two are on the run together duking it out with otherworldly trolls and joining forces with a group of pint-sized ex-gold miners who believe Snow White is "the one." The epic speak commonplace in fantasy films plagues SWATH — without any details as to how or why the world works the way it does most of the dialogue amounts to characters screaming about "destiny." The lack of specifics filters into the journey too: at one point Snow White stumbles upon a forbidden forest bustling with fairies moss-covered turtles and an antlered creature that's never been seen by humans. The beast is a sign that Snow is savior of their world. Why? Anyone's guess.
The generic quality brings down the talent on screen namely Theron's delightfully wicked Ravenna who goes full on Joan Crawford/Mommie Dearest as she pulls strings to entrap Snow White. Naysayers of Kristen Stewart will have plenty of fuel after SWATH but it's the material that fails to serve the actress in this case. The actors in the film barely get to smile — the drab overcast look of the movie clouding even the performances — but the moments when Stewart's Snow brightens up things suddenly come alive. Hemsworth lightens the mood too showing off a sliver of his comedic prowess from Thor. Between the movie's instance for doom and gloom the patchwork script and Sanders' overuse of up-close-and-personal shakycam there's rarely a moment for the actors to do their thing. It's barely worth mentioning the handful of British character actors who pop up as the Dwarves who hobble around mumbling unintelligible quips. They quickly form a bond with Snow White — or so the movie strong-arms us into believing.
Snow White and the Huntsman is stuffed with imaginative spectacle but the artistry is lost on a hollow story. Crystalline mirror shard warriors the Queen's youth-sucking powers or landscapes that look like live-action Miyazaki animation — it all looks amazing but they're never more than spiffy special effects. The movie wants to be above the visuals teasing a smart tough Snow White but the potential is squandered by never allowing the heroine to stride beyond the conventional world. If Snow White's tale is a shiny red apple then modern tropes of fantasy are the poison.
Nicolas Cage and John Travolta may rip each others faces off once again -- but this time, they might wear thicker glasses and tighter jeans.
Vulture reports that the two actors may be reuniting for two indie thrillers. The first, called Shrapnel, was written by Evan Daugherty and appeared on the 2008 Hollywood Black List. It tells the story of a Bosnian soldier seeking vengeance against an American by creating a hunting game.
The project is supposed to start in June with Die Hard's John McTiernan as director, but there's one little hiccup. As Vulture points out, McTiernan has some legal troubles last year, when he was fined $100,000 and sentenced to a year in prison for perjury on a Hollywood wiretap case. He's currently out on bail and appealing the sentence -- so, you know, he might not be around for that June start date.
The other potential project is called Sea Trial, a Chuck Roven-produced film from writer/director Raymond De Felitta based on the novel by his father, Frank De Felitta.
Unfortunately, neither of these projects involve exchanging faces. So, to get that weird face-to-body thing, we're just going to have to watch The Curious Case of Chris Evans -- or in other words, Captain America.
Universal Pictures Snow White and the Huntsmen is one of many children's stories coming back to the big screen, but one of the only to have its cast nearly locked into place. Over the past few months Charlize Theron was on again, off again, but appears to be almost set to play the villainous evil queen while the main roles - that of Snow White and the Huntsmen - haven't gotten as much attention. That changes today as Viggo Mortensen, who has been rumored for quite a few parts in big-budget films lately, seems to be close to landing the role of the Huntsman, according to Variety.
Rupert Sanders will direct the picture from a screenplay by Evan Daugherty, while Joe Roth (Alice In Wonderland) is producing. This iteration of the fable focuses on a huntsman, who, in the original tale is supposed to kill Snow White but ends up letting her go. He becomes the young girl's protector and mentor of sorts as they try to escape from the evil queen who ordered her death. Michael Fassbender had been rumored for the role previously, but he's been busy courting other high profile offers...
Meanwhile, Snow White's part is a more interesting situation. Sources indicate that Universal has been screen testing untried youths for the iconic role, much like Paramount Pictures did (with great success) for True Grit. However, Heat Vision claims that Kristen Stewart is not only a front runner, but is being aggressively courted by the studio. The Twilight star supposedly is such a commodity that she's not even required to screen test, so she may just need to make her decision and we could have our star.
I could personally see both of these actors in the respective roles. Both are major stars, especially with genre audiences. Their involvement, in addition to Theron's, adds a bit of prestige to an otherwise mainstream project that would be less intriguing with a cast of relative unknowns. Adding in established stars gives it a dynamic that will undoubtedly work in its favor. Stewart, though most known for vampire romances, is a fine actress who's been playing her cards right, taking on lots of indie fare to balance the box office might of The Twilight Saga, while Mortensen is a respected thespian and a bankable lead thanks to The Lord of the Rings and his acclaimed recent work with David Cronenberg.
Snow White and the Huntsmen has been fast tracked by the studio as its already got a December 21st 2012 release date and its competing with Relativity's rival Snow White picture, which has Tarsem Singh at the helm.
Source: Variety, Heat Vision
Universal just set a bunch of release dates for some of their bigger upcoming movies. Are you intrigued? Yes, of course you are. Let's take a look.
Larry Crowne - July 1, 2011
Tom Hanks is directing and starring in this comedy-drama about the titular Larry Crowne, a middle-aged man who goes back to college when he is fired from his job. He smokes pot, joins the ultimate frisbee team, and gets into all sorts of hilarious collegiate hijinks. Wouldn't that be funny? No, actually he falls in love with his professor, played by Julia Roberts. Yawn.
Safe House - February 10, 2012
Denzel Washington is a hardened criminal (sure) and Ryan Reynolds is a young CIA agent (why not) in this action-thriller from Swedish director Daniel Espinosa. When a team of baddies destroy the safe house in which Washington is being held, the sardonic young Reynolds has to guide him to safety. It's like 16 Blocks, except Mos Def is Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis is Ryan Reynolds. And Washington won't have a speech impediment, hopefully.
Contraband - March 16, 2012
Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale are going to star in this remake of the 2008 Icelandic film Reykjavic-Rotterdam, in which the protagonist is a former smuggler trying to go straight, who gets roped in for one last job. Because there aren't already enough movies with this plot line, Universal is going to bring you another, and you're going to sit and watch it goddamnit. Baltasar Kormakur, who directed the original, will also be helming the English-language Marky-Mark version.
Untitled Judd Apatow Movie - June 1, 2012
'Untitled Judd Apatow Movie' is not the title of this untitled Judd Apatow movie, which is being written, directed, and produced by Judd Apatow. Or maybe it is? Has Judd Apatow's cultural relevancy reached such a point of critical mass that his only logical path now is to get all self-reflexive and make meta Judd Apatow movies about the process of making Judd Apatow movies? Maybe this will be a groundbreaking Charlie Kaufman collaboration. I would watch that.
The Bourne Legacy - August 3, 2012
Tony Gilroy will be directing the 4th installment of the Bourne franchise, which means Matt Damon won't actually be in it. Matt Damon told Universal he wouldn't star unless they brought back Paul Greengrass to direct. Universal laughed and decided to call his bluff. But no, Matt Damon is serious about not being in the next Bourne movie. And Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. So why are we still talking about this? Is anyone seriously interested in seeing a Bourne flick without Bourne in it? No? Okay then, moving on.
Ouija - November 9, 2012
Michael Bay's company Platinum Dunes is going to produce the hell out of this movie - as Michael Bay is want to do - with a rumored $80 - $100 million budget. Hell yeah! Enough with these pussy-footed $15,000 budget Paranormal Activity-type films. Anyway, this is a movie about a board game that people use to communicate with the dead.
47 Ronin - November 21, 2012
Keanu Reeves will star in this epic period film, based on the true story of a group of samurai in 18th century Japan who avenged the death of their master in a famous revenge-attack in 1702. Carl Rinsch, a promising commercial director we've had our eye on ever since we saw his very cool 2010 video short The Gift, will direct. Plus, Keanu is half Asian, so thankfully we won't have to deal with another brow-raising Tom Cruise-Last Samurai situation.
Snow White And The Huntsman - December 21, 2012
Tom Hardy (Inception) is rumored to be playing The Huntsman and Angelina Jolie the evil queen Ravenna in this reimagining of the classic fairy tale from spec scriptwriter Evan Daugherty. While I'm naturally skeptical of this project, The Playlist got their hands on the script and said it was "actually very strong, one of the better action-adventure scripts we've read in a while." Rupert Sanders will direct.
The Dark Tower - May 17, 2013
Oscar-winning director Ron Howard is set to helm the first of what Universal is setting up as a trilogy of films based on Stephen King's popular Dark Tower series, about the gunslinger Roland Deschain, who - long story short - sets out on a quest to find a tower-nexus at the center of his universe. This one's still a long ways off, but fans of the seven-book epic are already excited. You should be too, assuming Universal doesn't screw this one up. A TV series is also in the works.
September 10, 2010 12:46pm EST
John McTiernan is one of the few filmmakers who knows how to make an action movie that doesn't suck.
The director, whose credits include Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October, just signed on to helm the new action thriller Shrapnel (not to be confused with Len Wiseman's graphic novel-based sci-fi project of the same name).
Written by Evan Daugherty, the film follows two war veterans who hunt each other down in a game of cat and mouse. There will no doubt be lots of grunting and explosions. Paul Breuls and Anthony Rhulen will produce the picture.
"From the first time we read Evan's script, we believed we had the makings of a hit action film. With John McTiernan involved, the financing fell into place, and we expect to announce casting very soon," Rhulen told Variety.
Now that news is all fine and dandy, but one thing remains uncertain: McTiernan has a few legal issues to clear up. On October 4, the director faces sentencing after pleading guilty to making false statements to law enforcement officials during an investigation of Hollywood private detective Anthony Pellicano. Shrapnel's progress will likely depend on the outcome of the ruling.
Regardless, it's exciting to know that McTiernan will be behind a camera again, especially since most action films that hit theaters these days seem to be the same old, run-of-the-mill routine. Though the fore mentioned plotline sounds a bit thin, so did the loglines of most of his hits. It's his skill with the camera, his ability to create cinematic tension and his knowledge of the genre's conventions that have always made his movies better than the average actioner. Hopefully McTiernan can reinvigorate the action flick once again so that he can remind guys everywhere that his legacy shouldn't be defined by Rollerball.