The names being thrown around for the next Spider-Man cast include Frank Dillane, Andrew Garfield, Jamie Bell, Josh Hutcherson and Alden Ehrenreich. Do any of those names stand out? For me, the answer is no. Many of them are compelling actors you’ve seen before, and a couple have interesting stories with regards to how they were discovered, but these aren’t names that the general public will be able to rally around. Which is incredibly smart. Why? Because Webb is now in the process of lowering expectations, and that starts with keeping the audience off-balance. This won’t be the same singin’ and dancin’ Tobey Maguire. This is a new Spidey. You don’t know about this Spidey. And that gives this reboot a decent shot at finding a receptive audience. This is the part Shrek franchise completely missed. They made a third film that lost the audience, and then went out and made a fourth one that looked exactly the same. The third Spider-Man turned off a portion of the audience, and this reinvention will allow them to forgive and forget that frustration.
Well played, Webb, well played.
It’s already a daunting task, an 1,100 page book distilled down to a 127-page screenplay, but the production crew involved here clearly isn’t making it easy on themselves. They don’t currently have a cast. Which will make it tougher to film the movie. Plus, the concepts of Atlas Shrugged are daunting, which is why it’s gone through half a dozen stops and starts over the past four decades. The most likely outcome for Atlas Shrugged is a Watchmen scenario. They’ll honor the source material … while completely missing the general public. That is, if they find people to actually be in the film.
I was watching Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel when a thought occurred to me. Has there been a more influential person over the past century? Think of the topics he’s personally broached through Playboy and his own activism: Censorship, The McCarthy trials, the sexual revolution, civil rights, women’s rights, sodomy laws, drug laws, contraception, and on and on it goes. Of course Hefner’s personal life is tricky business, and in some ways it has sapped his rightful legacy, but you can’t dispute that the guy was twenty to forty years ahead of where the culture was headed. You could argue Oppenheimer was more influential (nuclear weapons) if you were feeling cheeky, but I think the things Hefner touched affect our day to day lives more often. Anyhow, check out the documentary if you get a chance, it’s worth a watch.
Whoa. Tom Cruise vs. Robert Downey Jr., big dumb fun vs. intellectual and blessedly rights-free Sherlock. Both are now scheduled for December 16, 2011. But there can be only one, Highlander! You’ve got to think that one of the tent pole projects will move off this date. Which one? If I had to bet I’d say Mission Impossible 4. Brad Bird will finish early, and they’ll move it up. In some strange way Sherlock Holmes is now the more established product and can play this game of chicken with leverage.
In hindsight, it was a predictable outcome. Sex and the City 2, being released in a down economy, gives critics a chance to lash out against rampant consumerism. Prince of Persia, coming out a day later, gives critics a chance to say “Hey, we like movies too!” Only it’s all mixed up, because Sex and the City 2 was executed on a much higher level. They meant to make it an impossible fantasy, whereas I’m fairly certain the writers behind Prince of Persia didn’t purposefully leave out any hint of a coherent story.
Additionally, why in the world are these two films coming out on the same weekend when the focal point of the marketing for Prince of Persia has been Jake Gyllenhaal’s abs? Persia should have come out next weekend, when it could have faced off against a bunch of tomato cans. Regardless, this weekend presents us with a controversial choice: materialism vs. mediocrity. It’s in your hands now, ticket buyers. Don’t let us down.
On that note, I hope you all have a great weekend, full of only easy choices!
Laremy is the lead critic and senior producer for a website named Film.com. He’s also available on Twitter.