The 21 year old will team up with another newcomer, Brenton Thwaites, for the new film, about two stranded teens on a desert island.
Former Bond girl Denise Richards has signed on to play the mother of Evan's character, while Christopher Atkins, who portrayed Shields' fellow castaway in the original film is set for a cameo, according to Internet reports.
The 1980 film created a storm of controversy thanks to Shields' steamy scenes. The actress was 14 when she shot the movie.
Since Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel A Princess of Mars was published nearly 100 years ago his otherworldly tale story has been subsequently been reworked and riffed on by nearly every sci-fi book or movie to follow. Star Wars Dune Avatar—sift through filmmaker interviews and it's easy to find threads tying their inspiration back to Burroughs. Which makes John Carter the big screen adaptation of Princess of Mars particularly surprising. The film's epic presentation of Martian races colliding in battle could feel stale but instead blossoms with color imagination and fun. Director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo Wall-E) has a strong sense of what makes "adventure" adventurous helping John Carter encapsulate everything about a great time at the movies.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) a Civil War veteran with the entire Confederate army on his tail finds himself mysteriously transported via a magic cave (or alien technology? If you get caught up in these details John Carter may not be for you) to smack dab in the middle of a Martian desert. As Carter overcomes the planet's gravity a physical difference that allows him to leap tall structures in a single bound (sound familiar?) he runs into one of Mars' many races: the eight-foot tall four-armed green Tharks. As their prisoner/friend/specimen John Carter takes a back seat to the unique world of the Thark world full of clockwork architecture and airships archaic customs and political strife. The Tharks are in the midst of a 1 000 year battle with the humanoids of Zodanga led by the villainous Sab Than (Dominic West) who is in turn manipulated by the occasionally-invisible shapeshifter Matai Shang (Mark Strong). The Tharks have teamed up with the residents of Helium including the stunning scientist warrior Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) but doom is impending and quickly the Spartacus-esque Thark fighter Tars Tarkas turns to Carter for help.
Unlike Avatar which introduced its fantastical world using the safety net of a simple archetypical story John Carter has no reservations bombarding its audience with plot and intrigue. At times the specifics of the world's complex societies and strifes are complicated and confusing but similarly to info-heavy scripts—think the recent Michael Clayton or Margin Call or heck Shakespeare—Stanton Mark Andrew and Michael Chabon's screenplay feels assured of its own drama confident that no matter your understanding the theatrics will sway you. The human element of John Carter exists behind even the most CG-ified alien creature and that's what keeps us on board.
If there's any misstep it's in the casting of Kitsch a fully capable action hero unconvincing as survivor of the Civil War. Kitsch feels pulled from present day but John Carter needs to be a Confederate soldier in more than name. Kitsch is up to the task of ripping up white apes with giant steel blades or jumping over armies of raging Tharks but in scenes of introspection or humorous back-and-forths he loses footing. The real star is Collins as Dejah Thoris who nails the epic qualities of reciting enjoyably ridiculous Martian-speak. She stands out even in the blinding desert sun and even when decked out in over-the-top boobage costuming manages to deliver a compelling and rousing performance. Doesn't hurt that she knows her way around a swordfight or two.
With John Carter moving at lightning speed investing in the film's handful of characters becomes a difficult task but talented folk like Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton bring zest to characters on par with James Cameron's Avatar creations. And with such a strong background in animation it's no surprise that Woola John Carter's scrappy space dog sidekick is as realized and tangible as the rest of the gang. The scrappy six-legged critter adds humor to John Carter born completely out of the moment. Don't confuse this with the Star Wars prequels—nothing cutesy or ham-fisted here.
A streamlined John Carter would have really popped but as a first live-action effort for Stanton the fill is still something to behold. With breathtaking design sweeping action and a score by Lost Star Trek and Pixar vet Michael Giacchino that finds perfect balance between Lawrence of Arabia and Indiana Jones the film works as an immersive cinematic experience that will have you "ooo-ing" and "aaa-ing." If you step into John Carter you'll likely find yourself transported to another world—it beats trying to find a magic cave.
Summer-movie season is built on expectations and excitement, both from escapism-seeking fans and money-seeking studios. But like just about everything else, there’s no guarantee that all will go according to plan: For moviegoers, Cowboys & Aliens might not turn out to be the Next Great Superblockbuster, which seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point. Let’s take a look at the most highly anticipated movies during the run-up to summer 2011 and how they actually turned out, as well as some blockbusters that had lower expectations going in.
Anticipation: It’ll be sufficient, not great; an appetizer to other superhero movies’ midsummer entrees – with a smidge of doubt about whether Kenneth Branagh, heretofore best known for Shakespeare adaptations, is the right choice to bring one of Marvel’s most beloved characters to the big screen. And who’s this Hemsworth guy?
Reality: Better than our wildest dreams. Branagh enabled Thor to be tense, tight – but he also prevented it from being tightly wound or too tense; this was not a typical Branagh production, and that’s a good thing. Hemsworth, too, did a fine job in the title role, proving that a relative unknown can be good for a high-profile role. The movie earned a somewhat ho-hum (by summer-expectations standards) $448 million in box office around the world, but that’ll go higher with the subsequent Thor entries.
Anticipation: An off weekend. A comedic bridge between tentpole releases. A chick-flick Knocked Up tolerable for dudes – although the much-talked-about “bathroom scene” might detract from that a bit.
Reality: The comedy of the year. Written by chicks and about chicks, featuring an almost all-chick cast, but make no mistake: This was no chick flick. This was fresh R-rated comedy with a fresh voice, and it made a lot of people laugh – and rich.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Anticipation: Why, Johnny, why? Don’t you already own enough islands? We still love you, though!
Reality: No surprises whatsoever in this cash-grab. Possibly better than the previous two Pirates flicks, but nowhere near Curse of the Black Pearl in any way – except moneywise (it’s the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time), which is why there’s no end in sight for this franchise.
The Hangover Part II
Anticipation: The first one was impossible to replicate – and not because it was that amazing – but, of course, here we go again. And, man, does the trailer look bad.
Reality: It made a ton of money, especially internationally (hat-tip to Todd Phillips for setting it outside the U.S.), so there’s that, but can anyone really say this wasn’t a huge step back? Gone was the element of surprise – we know the Galifianakis shtick by now, since he’s cinematically ubiquitous; ditto Ken Jeong – and in its place was lackluster, forced hijinks courtesy of Phillips and Co. in a sequel that just wasn’t meant to be, unless you had a financial stake in the franchise.
X-Men: First Class
Anticipation: Marvel fatigue hasn’t yet set in, and this prequel – at least judging by the trailer – looks like an exciting, quasi-fresh restart. Plus, the studio went the “good actor” route over the “big-name” route. Wise choice, probably.
Reality: Superb acting from non-household names McAvoy and Fassbender and directing from Matthew Vaughn breathed new life into this franchise – in the form of gravity and more serious overtones. Box office ($350 million worldwide) was adequate but not superb.
Anticipation: The next E.T.! It’s got the best, most buzz-building prerelease campaign of any summer movie – not to mention Steven Spielberg as an exec producer and the next Spielberg behind the camera. It can’t fail!
Reality: Meh. Perhaps the buzz was too high, perhaps we were all a little more fatigued from the NBA Finals than expected – and we didn’t even play! – but J.J. Abrams’ unabashed homage to Spielberg didn’t quite deliver on its hype. Box office returns, even on a “shoestring budget” of $50 million, weren’t great, and the movie itself, while undeniably exciting and fun at times, was ultimately a bit of a style-over-substance letdown. An ever-so-slight disappointment from the not-quite-next Spielberg.
Anticipation: This’ll finally be Ryan Reynolds’ long-deserved breakout, catapulting him to the A-list and movie-franchise roles and … [trailer finishes buffering] that cost $200 million to make?? Yikes.
Reality: Reynolds’ ascension probably remains on track, but Lantern was a relative calamity. The movie was a mess, from the disappointing special effects to the non-chemistry to the “Are you kidding me?” storyline(s) – and the box office was even uglier: The movie couldn’t even recoup its budget, which rarely happens for summer movies, even if it means a studio bigwig has to buy millions of dollars in tickets to prevent such a financial travesty.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Anticipation: Oh, right – this franchise still exists. Looks like more of the same: Michael Bayness, minus the shock and awe of the first movie’s groundbreaking effects. Minus Megan Fox, too.
Reality: The most surprising adequacy of the summer. The merciless barrage of effects was par for the course and, unlike the previous Transformers entry, decent enough new-fashioned fun, even with another overlong run time. Also unlike its predecessor? It crossed the $1 billion mark at the (worldwide) box office and wound up in the all-time No. 5 spot.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Anticipation: No Potter finale will please us all (unless J.K. Rowling pops up at the end and says, “Psych! There’ll be one more movie!), but just … blow us away like never before, David Yates.
Reality: Actually, it did pretty much seem to please us all – to the tune of over $1.2 billion grossed worldwide, good enough for third best, ever. And director Yates turned in the steadiest, best, and probably most-faithful-to-the-book Potter flick of the entire franchise. It’s safe to say that the highest expectations of the year were surpassed with Part 2. Satisfying, in every way.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Anticipation: Typically, the worst superhero movie of the summer is saved for last. And Joe Johnston (The Wolfman) does anything but inspire confidence. But hey – never know…
Reality: Not bad. Perhaps aided by the somewhat lukewarm anticipation (and the surprisingly solid reviews), the movie was good popcorn fun, nothing more but certainly nothing less. Chris Evans earned his spot in the Marvel universe, and Johnston deserves credit for helping the movie outgross some of the bigger titles heading into the summer season. Speaking of Cowboys & Aliens…
Cowboys & Aliens
Anticipation: Indiana Jones and James Bond? A brilliant genre-mash concept? Jon Favreau directing? Another movie that just cannot fail!
Reality: Surprise of the Season (Bad Version). Cowboys & Aliens might not quite be remembered as this summer’s Jonah Hex, but, well, it likely won’t be remembered, period. For such an original idea, the execution and end results felt as stale as any token blockbuster wannabe: aimless action, gratuitous explosions, crazy noise for no good reason and altogether ‘WTF?!’-ness. And those box office earnings? Let’s just say that even though the tally will not be finalized for a while, it’ll probably come in at about 10 percent of what the studio was hoping for – and there’s a good chance it won’t even make its money back with worldwide gross factored in.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Anticipation: Before the trailer, almost no expectations. After the trailer – with what looked retro-CGI apes! – almost no positive expectations.
Reality: Surprise of the Season (Good Version). James Franco was innocuous, and the movie, whose trailer resembled a last-gen video game, turned out to be well-done summer fun. It’s already a box office success, with much more money still to come, and probably a sequel or two.
While I like Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Michael Fassbender as much as the next girl, the current batch of rising stars in Hollywood are starting to look even more homogenous than usual. Put Sam Worthington, Chris Pine, and Andy Whitfield in a line, I’m not sure I could tell them apart. Let’s not even get started on Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg - their own mothers would confuse those two. We’ve heard that variety is the spice of life, but Hollywood doesn’t seem to be taking that lesson to heart. Here are some alternatives to the usual leading men of the big screen who we think could make the next great action stars.
1. Jason Momoa The native Hawaiin star of Conan The Barbarian might not be a household name yet, but he’s on his way. Despite being consigned to generic beefcake (not that we mind beefcake) roles in Stargate: Atlantis and Game Of Thrones, Jason Momoa’s natural charisma made those roles memorable. Plus, at the young age of 32, he’s already achieved the platonic ideal of beefcake masculinity by filling Arnold’s sandals in the Conan The Barbarian remake. Of course, Momoa is more than just a pretty face (and abs) - the actor is currently writing the script for a Conan sequel. Momoa’s a representative from an older, 1980’s school of movie stars, which makes him unique in a land filled with Michael Ceras. Since Sylvester Stallone isn’t getting any younger, and Dwayne Johnson seems to have gotten distracted by stuff like Tooth Fairy, Momoa could be the next big action star.
2. Idris Elba
You can’t talk about Idris Elba without talking about Stringer Bell. Elba was riveting as Bell, The Wire’s most complex criminal; a man who could order a beloved character's death without remorse but was still a model student in his Econ class at the local community college. Since his heralded Wire role, Elba has gotten more mainstream exposure, leading his own BBC cop drama Luther, appearing on The Office, and nabbing a supporting role in Marvel’s Thor film. Anyone who can wear Heimdall’s golden disco-suit and still look badass certainly has enough charisma to lead a film. Fortunately for Elba fans, he’s set to star in Guillermo Del Toro’s science fiction epic Pacific Rim. Stringer Bell working with genre legend Del Toro, fighting space aliens in a giant robot suit? Legendary Pictures, you can shut up and take my money. To make the wait for 2013 more bearable, he’ll also be appearing in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, due out next summer. While The Wire’s alumni have had mixed levels of success (ranging from solid lead roles to drug arrests), no one deserves mainstream success as much as Elba. Well, except Michael K. Williams.
3. Asano Tadanobu
Most Americans haven’t heard of Asano Tadanobu, but that’s likely to change over the next few years. The Japanese movie star has recently started to make international waves. His starring role in Mongol garnered critical praise in the west, showing that he can carry an epic (and one in a different language, to boot). Since then, he’s started taking smaller roles in Hollywood films, appearing in Thor and the upcoming Battleship. He’ll also star alongside Keanu Reeves in the American remake of the 47 Ronin. Plus, he’s already got his cult street cred down, from his role as scarred, blond badass Kakihara in Takashi Miike’s Ichi The Killer. It can be difficult to break into Hollywood as an international star, especially one who doesn’t speak English as his first language. But action films tend to level the playing field slightly, since dialogue isn’t as important as ability to look awesome with a sword in one hand and a blonde in the other. If Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan can do it, why not Tadanobu?
4. and 5. Don Glover and Danny Pudi
We’re grouping this Community duo together because, honestly, we’re not sure if we could stand separating BFF’s Troy and Abed. While Community has one of the best ensembles on television at the moment, Danny PudI’s pop-culture fixated Abed and Donald Glover’s overenthusiastic Troy stand out as the funniest members of a painfully funny cast. Comedy and action cross over all the time - just look at Tropic Thunder or Pineapple Express - and either of these actors could make an ideal transition. (Community’s zombie outbreak and paintball showdowns already serve as mini action films in themselves.) Pudi’s already branching out a bit, taking a role in supernatural LARP comedy Knights of Badassdom, and appearing alongside genre-crosser Seth Rogen in My Mother’s Curse. Glover’s internet campaign to play Spider-Man in the new film didn’t make it off the ground, but that doesn’t mean that other action roles won’t swing his way.
6. Dev Patel
Poor Dev Patel didn’t get his action career off on the best foot. After gaining international attention for his role in Slumdog Millionaire, Patel appeared in the dismal M. Night Shyamalan adaptation The Last Airbender. While it may have been a bad career move, we can’t really hold his acting against him since Shyamalan has managed to make even established actors like Mark Wahlberg, Paul Giamatti and Joaquin Pheonix look silly. Patel’s got the charming everyman quality that Shia LeBeouf always seems to be trying for, but without the baggage of being involved in Transformers or Indiana Jones 4. His next major role, in English Oscar-bait flick The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t a step in the action direction, but should gain him back some critical cred after Airbender.
7. Gael Garcia Bernal
Go find a twentysomething year old woman. Go on, I’ll wait. Now ask her what she thinks of Gael Garcia Bernal. I’ll assume that you’re reading the next paragraph a couple of hours into the future, because I’ve yet to meet a woman who wouldn't talk for ages about this guy. Maybe it’s his homoerotic role in Y Tu Mama Tambien, or his passionate turn as a young Che Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries. Or maybe it’s just his dreamy hazel eyes. But whatever it is, it makes him ideal as an action star. Women watch action flicks too, and it helps to have a hero who’s appealing to that demographic (think about Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, or Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, for instance). Bernal’s next few projects include starring with Al Pacino in Hands of Stone, and alongside Daniel Day Lewis in Martin Scorsese’s Silence - which is very impressive company for a young actor. It seems like Bernal is being groomed to join the Oscar-winning elite, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t slum it in an action film from time to time.
8. Chiwetel Ejiofor
Odds are, you’ve seen Chiwetel Ejiofor in something, be it as one of the five hundred characters in Love, Actually, the chilling Operative in Serenity, or the drag queen star of Kinky Boots. Ejiofor isn’t afraid to play outside the box, choosing roles diverse enough to rival Gary Oldman, and executing them all with flair. We know that he can pull off supporting action roles, from watching his thrilling turns in Serenity and Children Of Men, but Ejiofor has a unique, contained charisma that would make for an interesting action hero. He’s next appearing alongside James Caviezel in Savannah, and in historical drama Twelve Years A Slave, which should only improve Ejiofor’s exposure. Soon, he may stop being a “hey, it’s that guy” kind of actor and start being a “hey, it’s that awesome guy!” kind of actor.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.