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.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Based on the beloved children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs tells the tale of Flint Lockwood an eccentric young inventor who spends his days in a makeshift laboratory building monkey-thought translators spray-on shoes “hair unbalder” serums and other strange creations. Regarded as a troublemaker and a nuisance by the residents of the small town of Swallow Falls Flint dreams of one day making something that will win their respect and earn him a place alongside the Edisons and Da Vincis of the world.
Flint thinks his latest invention a machine that turns ordinary water into gourmet meals at the touch of a button just might do the trick. But his big unveiling goes predictably awry when his machine launches like a rocket through Swallow Falls laying waste to the town square before eventually disappearing into the stratosphere.
Just when it appears that the townsfolk have finally had enough of Flint’s antics salvation arrives in the form of cheeseburgers raining from the sky thrilling the throngs of hungry people below. Success! Flint’s machine actually works — albeit not quite in the manner he originally intended.
WHO’S IN IT?
Lending his voice to the character of Flint is Bill Hader a Saturday Night Live regular who’s appeared in small roles in a ton of high-profile comedies including Tropic Thunder Pineapple Express and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Anna Faris (The House Bunny) co-stars as Sam Sparks a weathergirl whose bubbly on-screen persona masks a keen intellect she’s terrified to reveal — lest she be branded a “nerd” and shunned by the community of shallow talking-head news correspondents.
Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell voices the sleazy manipulative Mayor Shelbourne a wildly ambitious politician who eyes Flint’s invention as his ticket to higher office. James Caan (The Godfather) plays Flint’s well-meaning but emotionally distant father Tim a blue-collar fisherman who can’t find a way to relate to his brainy offspring. And fans of A-Team and Rocky III will instantly recognize the voice of Mr. T as Earl Devereaux the tough-minded town cop whose job is devoted primarily to preventing Flint from inadvertently destroying the town. Rounding out the main cast is Neil Patrick Harris (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) as Flint’s trusted monkey assistant Steve.
The animation of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is truly a joy to behold. With each successive meal that falls from the sky comes a brilliant new array of patterns and colors all of which burst from the screening in dazzling 3-D. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller rightly recognize the visual potential of the source material with its endless variety of colorful food items and serve up a delicious buffet of brilliantly-rendered set pieces.
But the film isn’t just a bundle of digital eye candy. Perhaps most pleasantly surprising about the film is the script’s sharp wit and clever observations which help make the experience enjoyable on a cerebral as well as visceral level.
Lord and Miller who also co-wrote the adapted screenplay did a generally solid job expanding the relatively thin source material for the big screen but the story still feels weak at times. It’s just engaging enough to keep you interested but not quite enough to make a lasting impression.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is something of a culinary rollercoaster. As food first begins to fall from the sky you might find yourself feeling a bit hungry. But as the plot progresses and Flint’s machine starts to spin out of control bombarding the town with every kind of slop imaginable don’t be surprised if your stomach starts to get a little queasy!
Top Story: Double Duty for Geena Davis
Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis, 47, is pregnant with twins, The Associated Press reports. A statement from her publicist said Davis is feeling healthy and is looking forward to the birth, which will be in the spring. She has one daughter with husband Dr. Reza Jarrahy. The actress, who says she has spent the past year and a half "concentrating on being a mom," is set to shoot a guest appearance on Will & Grace soon. She won an Academy Award for her role as a dog trainer in The Accidental Tourist and was nominated for Thelma & Louise.
Paris Hilton's The Simple Life Enjoys Hugely Successful Debut
Fox is getting a boost after a disappointing fourth place in fall sweeps thanks to its new reality series The Simple Life, starring hotel heiress Paris Hilton and her friend Nicole Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie. The show's Tuesday night debut proved to be a great success, drawing an average of 13 million viewers and easily beating out NBC's debut of The Tracy Morgan Show, Reuters reports. No doubt some of the show's success could be attributed to the recent buzz around Hilton, who is also currently starring in an underground sex tape that has surfaced on the Internet. The second episode of The Simple Life will air at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on Fox.
R. Kelly's Lawyers Want Porn Charges Dismissed
Attorneys representing recording artist R. Kelly have filed a motion in Chicago's Cook Country Court to dismiss the kiddie porn case against him, AP reports. Among the issues raised by Kelly's defense on Monday was the fact that the prosecution failed to specify the exact date for the alleged incident of child pornography. Because the prosecution only stated that the incident occurred sometime between Nov. 1997 and Feb. 2002, Kelly's attorneys have argued that the alleged victim may have been the age of consent at the time, and added that without a specific date for the alleged incident, it would be impossible for Kelly to establish an alibi defense. Kelly's defense team could argue the motion as early as Feb. 6, at the singer's next scheduled court appearance. The R&B star was arrested in June of 2002 on child pornography charges when a videotape of him having consensual sex with young girl surfaced.
Glen Campbell Formally Charged
Longtime country music star Glen Campbell was formally charged on Tuesday with drunken driving and assault, AP reports. The singer was arrested in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 24 on charges of DUI and leaving the scene of an accident after slamming into another car, leaving the scene and showing a blood alcohol level of .20 percent after officers stopped him at his Phoenix home. If convicted, the country star could face up to 30 days in prison under Arizona's harsh drunk driving laws. Campbell, 67, had been contemplating the end to his touring career even before his arrest, Reuters reports, having stated that he would rather play an early morning round of golf near his Phoenix home than deal with the rigors of traveling to various performance venues. Campbell's talk of retirement comes while his career is enjoying a bit of resurgence with the release of a four-disc box set entitled, Glen Campbell: Legacy 1961-2002, which includes notable hits like "Wichita Lineman" and "Rhinestone Cowboy."
Newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight has reported that ABC's bachelorette, Trista Rehn, is being sued by her former manager for a share of the $1 million the network has put up for permission to air her wedding to Ryan Sutter, AP reports. Kevin Allyn, Rehn's former manager, insists that he is entitled to 20 percent of the fee he negotiated with the television network. Preparations for the wedding have been aired as specials on ABC in recent weeks. Tonight the network will show a special on the couple's bachelor parties. The ceremony is set to air next Wednesday, Dec. 10.
John Walsh's Talk Show Canceled
Reuters reports that after a little over a year on the air, The John Walsh Show has been canceled by NBC. The famed star of America's Most Wanted began hosting the talk show in Sept. 2002 and it since became syndicated around the country, but suffered from a disappointing 15 percent drop in ratings over the year. Though production will end next week, it will air through the end of February sweeps. A statement from NBC read, "The efforts by John and his staff have resulted in impactful shows that have addressed real issues that viewers face on a daily basis…However, with his primetime program, charitable causes and extensive work with law enforcement, serious time constraints have made it very challenging for John to continue to host the The John Walsh Show."
Spike Lee Continues To Oppose Rap Music
Director Spike Lee is continuing to speak out against rap music at colleges and universities around the country. AP reports Lee told an audience of over 400 students at Brown University Monday night that rap portrays African-Americans in a negative light. "I've always felt you can feel the progress of African Americans by listening to their music," the 46-year-old filmmaker said. "Some of this 'gangsta rap' stuff, it's not doing anybody any good. This stuff is really dangerous." The director went on to say that many African-American adults seem to equate being an educated, well-spoken individual with being white, and insisted that as he was growing up, such things were seen as positive for all people. Lee urged the students not to support anything that portrays African-Americans in a negative way. "We buy all this stuff, not even thinking about what's behind it ...We can't just sit back and think it doesn't affect us. We have to be more choosy about the types of stuff we support," he told them.
Revolutions" Cleaning Up in Imax Theaters
Though its conventional box office numbers may not be meeting expectations after four weeks of general release, The Matrix Revolutions is enjoying very good success in giant-screen IMAX theaters around the world, according to Variety.com. On average, Revolutions is bringing in $12,500 per screening in IMAX theaters worldwide, as apposed to $1,900 per showing on conventional screens. Proceeds from the giant format showings are a mere fraction of the film's total revenue, however. Revolutions has brought in some $253.4 million at conventional box offices worldwide, and $8.5 million at IMAX theaters. IMAX co-CEO Rich Gelfond explained the giant-screen success, saying, "It shows that people have an appetite for seeing conventional films in the IMAX format…I think you're seeing a phenomenon where IMAX adds more legs to a film."
Amy Pascal Is Most Powerful Woman in Hollywood
According to Reuters, the Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter has named
Top Story: Nemo Dives Into DVD
Walt Disney Pictures is planning a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign for the DVD release of their smash hit Finding Nemo, which will come out on a two-disc collector's set Nov. 4. Variety reports the DVD edition of the highest grossing Disney/Pixar computer-animated film will include virtual aquariums that allow viewers to turn their TVs into fish tanks with swimming fish and sound effects. Other extras will include the CGI-short Knick Knack, which ran before the film in theaters, an educational featurette about Australia's Great Barrier Reef, filmmakers' commentary, deleted scenes, recording sessions, a making-of documentary and a tour of Pixar Animation Studios.
Lane Sues Movie Company
Oscar-nominated actress Diane Lane has filed a lawsuit against Intermedia Film Equities USA, claiming the production company failed to finance a film she was to star in as well as sign up co-star Bruce Willis, The Associated Press reports. Lane, who signed a pay or play deal with Intermedia to do the film Me Again for $3.5 million, was sent only three payments in June and is asking for the remaining balance of about $2.7 million to be paid to her.
Will He or Won't He?
Arnold Schwarzenegger has still not made up his mind whether he'll be running for governor of California, despite a report on Fox News Monday that said the Austrian-born actor would not seek the position after all, Reuters reports. "There are reports in the media that Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided not to run in the California recall election. These reports are incorrect," Schwarzenegger's political adviser George Gorton said in a statement. The Terminator trilogy star has let it be known he'd be interested in running if the unprecedented recall effort against California's Democratic Governor Gray Davis went forward. "[Arnold] has made no decision at this time [but] will continue to weigh the pros and cons with his family and will continue to seek the counsel of supporters and colleagues," Gorton said.
Campbell Hurt in Accident
Actor Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness) suffered minor injuries in a car accident in Oregon Saturday, AP reports. The 45-year-old actor was struck by a Jeep whose driver was cited for driving under the influence. Campbell was treated at a local hospital and released.
Spielberg Tackles Western Series for TNT
Yee-haw! Steven Spielberg will co-executive produce a 12-hour as-yet-untitled miniseries for TNT set in the great American West. Variety reports the story follows a pair of families, one white and one Native American, whose lives parallel the settlement of the American West in the 19th century.
Morgan Leaves SNL For Primetime
After seven seasons, comedian Tracy Morgan has left Saturday Night Live to star in The Tracy Morgan Show, a proposed sitcom not yet slated for NBC's fall schedule, AP reports. His new TV persona will be a hardworking family man. "This character gets to show people in the public that I'm a dad. They get to see the struggle," Morgan said at the Television Critics Association last week.
Williams Signs Up for Boomtown
Vanessa Williams will be the newest cast member on the NBC show Boomtown. AP reports the actress has signed on to play Det. Katherine Pierce and will appear in 10 of the season's first 13 episodes this fall.
Britney, Blige Kick Off NFL Season
Pop princess Britney Spears and hip-hop diva Mary J. Blige are signed up to give a free concert at the National Mall in Washington D.C. to kick off the 2002 National Football League season's first game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets on Sept. 4, Billboard.com reports. Organizers are also looking to add more acts, including Kid Rock and Aerosmith, for the show that will air on ABC before the game.
Role Call: Artisan Picks Up Dummy
Artisan Pictures has picked up the rights to the indie film Dummy starring the Oscar-winning Adrien Brody. Variety reports the film centers around a socially retarded young man (Brody) who breaks away from his dysfunctional family to live out his dream as a ventriloquist. Also stars Milla Jovovich and Illeana Douglas. Artisan plans to release the film in September.
Shooting on the romantic adventure film Beyond Borders starring Angelina Jolie will begin Thursday in northern Thailand. Co-producer Lloyd Phillips told The Associated Press on Wednesday that main filming on the movie will wrap up following about five weeks of shooting in the country. The Thai locations will stand in for Cambodia in the 1980s during the devastating rule of the Khmer Rouge. In the film, Jolie plays a married American socialite in London who falls in love with an idealistic doctor played by Clive Owen. Filming began in December, with previous shooting done in Namibia, standing in for Ethiopia, and Montreal, standing in for London and Chechnya. Beyond Borders, directed by GoldenEye's Martin Campbell, is expected to be released around Christmas.
It's absolute rubbish. That's what Madonna's spokeswoman told Reuters about media reports that the pop icon had made a series of unreasonable demands before taking to the stage for Up For Grabs debuting next month in London. Recent press reports claimed Madonna demanded a raised stage to stop fans from rushing her, theater staff were told not to have eye contact with her and cast members were told not to call her "Madge." Up For Grabs debuts in London May 23.
Noah Wyle, ER's handsome Dr. John Carter, and his wife, Tracy, are expecting their first child in November, the AP reports. Wyle, 30, met Tracy Wyle, a makeup artist, on the set of The Myth of Fingerprints in 1996. They became engaged on Valentine's Day in 1999 and have been married for about two years.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer will marry her boyfriend, British producer Matthew Vaughn, before the end of the year, Ananova.com reports. Schiffer's mother reportedly told Germany's Bunte magazine that rumors of the couple's split were false and that her daughter will "marry within the next six months." Schiffer, the one-time companion of magician David Copperfield, and Vaughn, who produced Guy Ritchie's films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, live together in London's Notting Hill.
Former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jason Priestley will drive for Kelley Racing in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, the AP reports. The 32-year-old actor has competed in several racing series before and has worked as a TV commentator at Indy Racing League races.
Pippi, Ozzy Osbourne's little black Pomeranian, is missing. A regular fixture on the MTV series The Osbournes, Pippi has apparently been lost for two months. According to MTV.com, the family is offering a $500 reward for any information leading to the dog's retrieval.
In the Biz
Billy Bob Thornton has been cast in the title role of Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa, Variety reports. The Dimension Films comedy, which is set for a Christmas 2003 release, follows two con men who travel to malls dressed as Santa and his elf.
Darren Star, the creator of HBO's successful comedy Sex and the City, will direct a film adapted from the book Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel by Tracy Quan for Sony's Revolution Studios. The book, based on Quan's Salon.com column, centers on the diary of a call girl working on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Variety reports.
Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnettare in talks to star in another Revolution Studios project about a pair of cops who become involved in a crime that revolves around the music business, Variety reports. The untitled police drama will be helmed by Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed White Men Can't Jump and Tin Cup, and is set to begin production this fall.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves said Tuesday the network likely would not air the Robert Urich movie Not in Our House because of its rough subject matter. According to Reuters, Urich plays a pedophile in a story about a family a year after an incestuous relationship comes to light. The film co-stars Meredith Baxter.
Francophone Celine Dion will headline this year's Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Beach, Fla., on May 12, the AP reports. The Canadian singer's song "My Heart Will Go On" became the first and only English-language single to top the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart. Dion will join previously announced performers Marc Anthony, Jaci Velasquez and Thalia.
Will Smith may have walked away from this year's Academy Awards empty-handed, but the rapper-turned-actor hasn't lost steam. According to MTV.com, Smith's next album will hit stores on June 25 and will feature two singles from Men in Black 2. Smith has not released new material since Willennium in 1999.
Rosie O'Donnell presented Gene Wilder with the first-ever Roche Beauty of Giving Award on Wednesday at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. The award was handed out as part of the Cosmetic Executive Women's Beauty Awards. Wilder is the founder of Gilda's Club, a support network named after his wife, Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989. O'Donnell also praised the beauty industry's commitment to charities that support women with cancer.
Warren Beatty and Kevin Spacey will be honored at this year's San Francisco Film Festival. According to the BBC News, Beatty is being awarded the Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement in film directing, while Spacey is being honored with an acting award. The festival opens today and closes on May 2.
Science fiction writer Damon Knight died Monday at a hospital in Eugene, Ore., of age-related causes, the AP reports. He was 79. Knight, whose final novel Humpty Dumpty: An Oval was published in 1996, was also an influential teacher, critic and organizer, helping to found the Science Fiction Writers of America. He also served as editor for the science fiction anthology series Orbit. Knight is survived by his wife, two daughters, two sons, two stepsons and seven grandchildren.
Jimi Hendrix's father, James Al Hendrix, died in his sleep at home Wednesday after a long battle with congestive heart failure, the AP reports. He was 82. Hendrix, a former Golden Gloves boxer, worked as a plumber, electrician and gardener before retiring in 1979 due to poor health. Hendrix is survived by daughter Janie and son Leon.