Now, I’m not sure that anyone was actually saying to themselves “You know what I’m desperate to see? A fourth Mission Impossible film!” It’s not as if there are extra layers to find out about IMF Agent Ethan Hunt, other than him being a chance for Tom Cruise to do cool stuff, and the previous films have also been tonally all over the place to an extent that’s rarely seen in film series (from the overdone Le Carre action of Brian DePalma, to the ludicrous pomp of John Woo, and the fun but deeply forgettable JJ Abrams). However, throw Incredibles director Brad Bird into the mix – finally making his live action debut – and you’ve certainly got me interested. Now we’ve got the first trailer for Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, and it’s certainly one of the more weirdly constructed trailers I’ve seen in a while. There’s several deeply cool moments in here, and some shots that certainly hint at how Bird’s visual style is going to transfer (especially into the action sequences, considering that The Incredibles is dangerously close to being a flawless action movie), and yet there’s a lot of stuff that, to be honest, looks a bit daft – most of it involving Tom Cruise running REALLY FAST, or Tom Cruise doing that odd face he does when he’s fighting. There’s also the decision to slather an Eminem track over half the trailer (because when I think of sexy spies on the run and the title ‘Ghost Protocol’, I think ‘Eminem’), the way the trailer seems to reboot itself halfway through to be a completely different tone, and the unintentionally homo-erotic showdown between Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…). I’m still very interested in how Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol is going to turn out – but here’s hoping any future trailers are a little more willing to blow me away…
Movie Trailer: The Muppets (2011)
It’s difficult to have grown up in the late Seventies/early Eighties and not have the Muppets imprinted somewhere on your pop culture consciousness. Jim Henson’s joyously anarchic cast of felt-and-fuzz puppets were a genuine sensation in their time, but they haven’t always maintained a fantastic profile or quality ratio since – meaning that when ‘The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever’ was first announced, I was genuinely intrigued. There’ve been lots of rights issues on the Muppets (with the characters now being owned by Disney) that had delayed any new Muppet projects for a while, and there was a serious move happening to try and do a movie and relaunch the Muppets in the public eye, but what really impressed me was when Knocked Up/Forgetting Sarah Marshall star Jason Segel got involved simply because he really, really wanted to see a Muppet movie done right, and ended up both starring in and co-writing the movie.
After the initial teaser trailer (the fantastic spoof ad for terrible-looking romantic comedy “Green With Envy”), the Hangover 2-themed teaser and the Green Lantern-themed teaser, we’ve finally got a full trailer for the movie (which has been retitled with the less distinctive (but understandable under the circumstances) “The Muppets“) – and it looks like Segel, along with Forgetting Sarah Marshall co-writer Nick Stoller, has done a really good job in capturing the Muppets’ uniquely oddball mix of fun, sentiment and nonsensical mayhem. Now, if only the distributors could get themselves sorted out so that the UK doesn’t have to wait an extra two months (until February 2012) before we actually get to see it…
Movie Trailer – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Updated – now with HD Version…)
Okay – I don’t usually like posting shakycam Youtube recordings of footage – but when the red-band trailer for David Fincher’s upcoming remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hit the net, I couldn’t resist. I was already intrigued by the idea, especially after exactly how good The Social Network turned out to be (especially when I’d become a little unsure of Fincher – I hadn’t exactly been entranced by The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I still haven’t seen Zodiac…), and when I heard Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were doing the soundtrack, I became genuinely excited. The Social Network soundtrack is something I’ve had on near-constant play since it came out last year, and while I’m not onboard with the critical love the original film version got (I thought it was an intriguing, well-acted but slightly overlong and pulpy thriller), I was definitely keen to see what Fincher did. And now we’ve got the first trailer – and even in shakycam Youtube format, this is something else. This won’t be up for long, and a full-quality version will be hitting at some point next week (and well done if you’ve got that level of patience), but if you’ve got the chance, click below, as this is a seriously well-crafted trailer…
(Update – 1/6/2011 – Well, Sony have finally yanked the redband from Youtube, but we’re still waiting for a proper, official release of the trailer. There’s a greenband, safe for work version floating around (which has no blood or nipples, I’m sure you’ll be delighted to hear) but that keeps getting taken down as well. Tomorrow should be the day for it turning up in full-on HD, and not before time…)
(Further Update – 2/6/2011 – The official teaser is now up at the Apple site in glorious shiny high-def, and I’ll be slapping an official Youtube embed up here as soon as possible (it’s an Apple exclusive at the moment). Of course, it’s the green-band, work-safe version (with none of that bloodletting or nudity, thank-you-very-much), and rather annoyingly they’ve also cut a few sections of the trailer that worked perfectly well before (there was a tracking shot close to the beginning that worked brilliantly with the music, and now isn’t there. And the previous end of the trailer, which went from the fantastically blaring titles to a quick shot of Rooney Mara and the brief caption “She’s Coming”, has now lost the “She’s” part. Que?). For those who’ve seen the redband, it’s still a strong trailer, but it is interesting how removing the slightly harder images does at certain points make this look like an extremely dramatic film about people walking through doorways. Cracking cover version, though (with vocals from Karen O, apparently), and I’m still definitely intrigued…)
Movie Trailer – The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin is something that’s intrigued me for a while – I grew up with Tintin, it formed part of my love of comic books, and stories like The Crab with the Golden Claws, Prisoners of the Sun and Explorers on the Moon are seared into my subconscious. Herge’s globe-trotting adventures have always had a massive appeal, and while a full-on live action adaptation would have just been wrong, the concept of a motion-capture CG adaptation that kept to Herge’s distinctive style was… interesting.
Then, there’s the creative team behind this. The first draft of the screenplay was done by Steven Moffat (before some sci-fi series started taking up all his time), with further work done by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish. It’s being directed by Steven Spielberg, with the next in the series due to be helmed by Peter Jackson. The still images we’ve seen so far have been interesting – lurking in a halfway house between photo-realism and Herge’s original artwork.
Well, now we’ve got our first actual footage from the film. The teaser trailer for the film is now up in Hi-Def at the Apple trailers site, and it’s… interesting. It looks exactly as gorgeous as you’d expect (especially since, as far as I know, Weta Digital is handling all the animation), with many of the early shots not even looking computer-generated, and there’s a couple of moments which suggest that Spielberg handling 3-D could be an interesting experience. (There’s also the fact that despite this first instalment in the planned franchise being largely an adaptation of The Secret of the Unicorn, there’s a big chunk of The Crab with the Golden Claws in this teaser, suggesting we’re getting a brisk origin for Tintin and Captain Haddock’s friendship). The one thing it doesn’t do, of course, is show us much of the characters or much of the dialogue, giving us no chance to see if they’ve succesfully transferred the leaps in motion capture made by the Avatar crew into a film which doesn’t star giant blue pointy-eared space elves. The end shot of Tintin himself is gorgeously executed and amazingly photo-real, and the stylisation may prevent this from falling into the glassy-eyed creepiness that Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap films have often ended up with. However, until we see some actual scenes, I’m going to reserve judgement, and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will remain something I’m interested in, but not quite genuinely excited about yet…
The Thursday Trailer: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
I’ve been wondering for a while exactly why Rise of the Planet of the Apes exists (beyond, of course, the fact that Tim Burton’s uniquely awful Planet of the Apes remake still managed to make a healthy amount of money). It has seemed to be a terribly pointless film for a long time, but we’re in the era of the reboot, so I guess the fact that we’re essentially getting a big budget remake of ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’, of all films, shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise. Well, the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes trailer is up in High-Def at the Apple website, and the results are… interesting. Admittedly, there’s a worrying amount of cheese here, especially as it’s yet another tale of EVIL scientists tampering with NATURE ITSELF (and it’s nice to see that scientist James Franco has named his genetic virus therapy after his favourite Goth band), but there’s also some striking effects work from Weta Digital, and some impressive imagery in here that does at least suggest that there might be a few moments of genuine heft, and that Rise of the Planet of the Apes might be a little bit more than just a completely cynical cash-grab. Not that I’m getting myself too excited, of course…
This gets in out of sheer weirdness – Roland Emmerich, the man who most recently blew up most of the world in the frankly rather dreadful 2012, has suddenly decided to make an Elizabethan-era conspiracy thriller that suggests William Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by somebody else. No, really, he has – and here’s the trailer on Apple. The visuals are great and the use of the Radiohead track is even better – but this is Roland ‘Independence Day’ Emmerich, for heaven’s sake…
This actually seems to be a brief sales reel that’s ended up on IMDB by accident, and doesn’t even have a proper ending (it seems to conk out about ten seconds early), but this teaser for the extraordinarily well-intentioned Mozart and the Whale has to go here, simply for the fact that someone looked at a script about an Aspergers-affected emotionally troubled savant falling in love, and said “Hey! Get me Josh Hartnett’s number!” The results are not, shall we say, ideal….
Movie Review: Sucker Punch (2011)
Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens,
Jamie Chung, Scott Glenn ~ Writers: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya
Director: Zack Snyder ~ Year: 2011
The Low-Down: A schizoid mix of Shutter Island, Brazil, Inception, Moulin Rouge and Caged Heat, Zack Snyder’s geekfest opus Sucker Punch is an ambitious failure of jaw-dropping proportions. It’s also firm proof that it takes more than a gun, a sword and a midriff-exposing schoolgirl outfit to make an empowering kick-ass heroine…
What’s it About?: Sentenced to a grim lunatic asylum by her evil, EVIL stepfather, Babydoll (Emily Browning) is a traumatised teen who’s facing a personality-wiping lobotomy in five days, thanks to a corrupt orderly. Or is she the latest addition to an opulent bordello, where the girls all dream of escape? Or is she a superpowered action heroine, questing her way through lurid and explosive universes of the imagination?
The Story: In an odd kind of way I can’t help but slightly admire Zack Snyder. After all, this is a man who said “I want to make a film where nubile warrior vixens in suspenders battle giant samurai, dragons, and steampunk Nazi zombies”, and actually got someone to pay him to make it happen. It’s just a pity the end result ends up so ferociously boring, as well as being possibly the most misguided and wretched example of a director trying to prove themselves since Guy Ritchie’s hilariously awful 2005 oddity Revolver.
At the least, it’s hard to fault Sucker Punch in terms of ambition. In an era where big-budget original projects are the exception rather than the rule, it wants to stand out from the crowd. “Hey,” it says, “why can’t I be a reality-altering tale of a quest for freedom and the transformative power of the imagination, refracting my ‘escape from a girl’s mental institution’ plot through three separate realities?” It’d be a great idea, if all the ingredients of Sucker Punch weren’t crammed artlessly together in an indigestible stew that functions more as a sequence of music videos than an actual story, giving us a film that isn’t much more than a hyper-stylised guided tour through Zack Snyder’s personal scrapbook of geek fetishes.
From the evidence here, he’s definitely one of those directors who’s only as good as his material, and should on no account be allowed to write his own stories, as he barely seems to know how to create a believable emotional reality on camera. From the soundtrack of nu-metal cover versions (which somehow manages to choose songs that are both thunkingly obvious and staggeringly inappropriate) to the wildly inappropriate tone (which was obviously never meant to be tailored for a PG-13 certificate in the States), you’ve got a film that simply lurches from one scene to another, feeling like a teenager’s crazed recreation of some film they saw once that they really liked.
This needn’t have been a fatal problem – after all, plenty of films have been massively flawed but coasted by on the strength of their eye candy and some exciting battle sequences. And yet, one of the greatest acheivements of Sucker Punch is that Snyder takes the concept of sexy girls fighting Nazi steampunk zombies, dragons and ninja robots, and actually make it dull.
All of these sequences take place in the head of our main character, the vacuous and completely uninteresting Babydoll (Browning) while she’s performing lewd and lascivious dances that have the power to turn all the men in range weak at the knees. These sequences are supposed – in theory – to be heightened versions of the missions the girls have to perform in order to escape, metaphors for their imagination triumphing over adversity.
Trouble is, it’s impossible to care – these sequences are spectacular, but there’s never any sense of reality, never any stakes, and never any reason to emotionally connect with these ‘superhero’ versions of the characters. Parallels with Inception have been made – but while Inception has its flaws (and excessive exposition is definitely one of them), the one thing it does have is a genuine sense of risk, of something being at stake. We know the rules, and we know how the multiple worlds connect to and relate to each other. Sucker Punch’s multiple worlds exist simultaneously but only rarely connect – once the fantasy sequences start, we’re basically in a different movie for the next ten minutes, one that only rarely links up to anything resembling actual drama. Stuntwork, CG and absurdly overblown slow-mo are the order of the day, but presented without any explanation, any reason, any reality.
Yes, Snyder is capable of rendering some amazingly energetic and imaginative battle sequences – but half of his tricks are ripped off from other directors, and the rest are worn to the ground in Sucker Punch to such an extent that he’s effectively robbed me of any fleeting interest in seeing a Zack Snyder-directed Superman movie (especially in the train-attack and subsequent robot fight, where the CG-assisted speed-ramping is cranked up to such a ludicrous extent, I almost thought it was a Zucker Brothers-esque parody of how insanely stupid CG-assisted fight sequences have finally become).
Sucker Punch ends up playing as if someone had edited videogame cutscenes into a Baz Lurhmann remake of a Seventies girls prison flick, and the grinding repetition (nu-metal cover version, briefing, kill footsoldiers, fight boss, rinse, repeat…) soon becomes incredibly wearing – the insane spectacle loses its novelty, and simply becoming noise for noise’s sake.
It’s not as if we’re given anything much to care about outside of the action. Lead actress Emily Browning is a complete cypher, spending most of the film looking awesomely photogenic and slightly dazed, and while Abbie Cornish (the angry one) and Jena Malone (the spunky, rebellious one) make a vague impression, it’s not as if they’re actually being given characters to play.
The only performers who really make an impression are Scott Glenn, channelling the late David Carradine as the wizened Wise Man who guides Babydoll through the various missions (and also manages to make some of the clunking dialogue sound almost bearable) while Oscar Isaac as evil orderly/evil brothel owner Blue actually pulls off a genuine performance (one that’s certainly stronger than Carla ‘Enjoy my eccentric European Accent’ Gugino).
Everyone else is essentially playing paper-thin cartoons and eye-candy, but while the Girls-prison-flick meets Moulin Rouge tone runs out of steam pretty quickly, the biggest failure of all in Sucker Punch is that this overblown, pretentious, chin-stroking nonsense actually thinks it’s empowering. Note to Snyder: When your film has its main character spend virtually the entire film being menaced by men, exploited by men, admired solely for her gorgeousness (and her ability to harness the power of Sexydance), not having anything resembling an interior life, and regularly escaping into a fantasy world where she gets told what to do by a man – that’s not empowering in the slightest.
It’s really no worse in this regard than any Hollywood film in the last ten years that’s tried (and usually failed) to do a decent action heroine (aside from rare examples like Kill Bill), but if you’re going to make a lurid exploitation flick, just come out and say it. Sucker Punch wants to be saying “Free your mind!” – but its only real message is: “Yes, dear, you can go killing dragons and zombies, but do make sure that you’re wearing something incredibly skimpy that shows off your arse, won’t you?”
The Verdict: If you want two hours of things going KA-BOOM and skimpy outfits, then Sucker Punch will intermittently push your buttons. Otherwise, this ambitious failure is the working definition of ‘a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ – a mish-mash of influences that’s too busy throwing CGI and opulent production design in the audience’s faces to give them anything to care about.
Movie News: Dear Zack… (An Open Letter to Zack Snyder, on the occasion of casting Michael Shannon as Superman villain General Zod)
Dear Zack Snyder,
STOP CASTING ACTORS I LIKE IN YOUR SUPERMAN FILM!
I mean it. I was okay with Henry Cavill – after all, he’s the kind of mostly unknown actor who’s still notched up plenty of experience, and could work out very well. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Kal-El’s adoptive father? A brilliant, almost blindingly obvious choice. Diane Lane as Martha Kent? Hell, yes – even if the attractiveness of Superman’s mother just shot through the roof. But so far, I wasn’t too invested. After Superman Returns not working out at all, I wasn’t going to let myself get excited about another Superman film. All was well.
Then Amy Adams got cast as Lois Lane. I’d been expecting a twentysomething, and probably someone who’d be slightly miscast (as in Superman Returns, with poor old Kate ‘I look about twelve in this film’ Bosworth). Lois is one of those deceptive roles that looks easy but isn’t, and even Teri Hatcher in the Lois and Clark show never got close to besting Margot Kidder in the original Superman movies. However, Adams could conceivably do it – and suddenly, I was in a bit of a bind. After all, this was Zack Snyder’s Superman we were talking about – a film I was in no rush to see before I saw Sucker Punch, and after which all I wanted to do was grab a Warner Bros exec by the scruff of the neck and scream “Why? Why would you do this? WHYYY???”
And then, you had to do it. You had to cast Michael Shannon as General Zod.
That’s an incredibly good choice. If you’re going to do Zod (especially after the simply magnificent job Terrence Stamp did in Superman II), you’ve got to get it right. There were rumours that it might be Viggo Mortensen, but Michael Shannon is just as good, if not better considering he doesn’t have the visibility and foreknowledge that comes with Viggo. Shannon has, up until now, been one of those quietly impressive character actors who occasionally turn up in big films, but do most of their work in quiet, intense indie dramas (the most notable films I can think of featuring Michael Shannon are Grand Theft Parsons, Shotgun Stories, and The Woodsman – all of which feature him in very different roles). He’s an intense, dedicated actor, capable of bringing real fierceness to the role, and this will certainly catapult him into a much-deserved bigger league. It’s a great bit of casting.
I just wish it wasn’t for a Zack Snyder film.
I didn’t see your Dawn of the Dead remake. 300 was attention-grabbing, but shallow as a puddle. And I was burned with Watchmen – which was a decent, admirable effort, but did feel like a two-and-a-half hour thesis on why adapting Watchmen into a movie was a very bad idea. I recently made the mistake of seeing Sucker Punch, and am still reeling from the experience (it’s taken me a long time to write a review, just to fully express my slightly rambling feelings on exactly how unempowering this supposedly empowering fantasy was).
You may be a really nice guy – but your directorial style is, to be honest, borderline insane. You don’t seem to have any idea how to create a consistent emotional reality in your films (you managed it occasionally in Watchmen, but then, you had an excellent blueprint to work from). You throw eye-candy at the audience whether it’s necessary or not, bludgeoning them into submission. Your ability to select a completely inappropriate or thunklingly obvious pop song for your film soundtracks is unparalleled. (From the awfulness of the Leonard Cohen-scored sex scene in Watchmen, to the non-stop “Oh dear god…” experience that was the Sucker Punch soundtrack, your musical taste is truly the gift that keeps on giving). There doesn’t seem to be a single shot that you don’t think couldn’t be at least slightly improved by slow-motion, or funky CG speed-ramping. You were convinced the world was ready for an 3-D CGI animation starring armoured owls (A hint: it wasn’t). You actually managed to somehow make a film where sexy girls in kinky underwear fight Nazi steampunk zombies into one of the dullest, most repetitive things I’ve seen in a cinema for years.
You are quite plainly completely out of your mind.
Even with the new title – just ‘Man of Steel’, no Superman – your new movie fills me with a sense of foreboding. I’d like to think that maybe you’ll ratchet your style back and approach the film in a calmer perspective. But I really doubt it. A Zack Snyder Superman film isn’t something I wanted. But I’m getting it anyway. So…
PLEASE STOP CASTING ACTORS I LIKE IN YOUR SUPERMAN FILM!
You’ve made your point. Go nuts from hereon in. Perry White and Jimmy Olsen? Go nuts. Cast the most ludicrous actors you can think of. I don’t mind. Just please- don’t let me look at another casting notice and think “Damn that’s a really good choice,” followed by a Wrath of Khan-style cry of “SNYYYDERRRR!!” Okay?
I’m glad we had this little chat. And I’ll be watching you, you slo-mo lovin’ motherfunster…
The Friday Linkfest (1/4/2011): Links on my Mind
Warner Bros are aiming for a Justice League of America movie by 2013. The question has to be asked – what the hell is going on with the Warners and DC-related superhero films? They’ve previously said that ‘we’re not doing crossovers’ – that the Nolan Batman films wouldn’t cross over with any other motion pictures, and that neither would Snyder’s Superman – each series would tackle them as the only superhero in their world. Now, this is a step away from the Marvel ‘grand plan’ to culminate in The Avengers (which hasn’t always worked – Iron Man 2 being a case in point), but did seem to make sense at the time (especially with how aggressively realistic the Nolan films have been). Now, however, they’re saying they’re aiming for a JLA film in 2013 (which is absurdly quick), and that the JLA will feature Batman and Superman, but not Henry Cavill as Superman, and not whoever inherits the Bat-cowl when the franchise is rebooted following The Dark Knight Rises (which I’m willing to bet will embrace a slightly more comic-booky direction once Nolan departs).
Now, if they weren’t going to use Batman and Superman, I could understand it – while they’re the two big heavy-hitters, it would be possible to cope without them (in a similar way to how Marvel Studios films have to cope without crossovers with Spider-Man, the X-Men or The Fantastic Four, because they sold the rights). It’s also not impossible to have two different live-action versions of the same character around – Superman Returns was made while Smallville was on the air, and if the Wonder Woman TV series is a success, there could be both a TV and a film version of Wonder Woman, as one concept is for the JLA film to launch characters that could then go on into standalone movies. But this has never happened in movies before – two different versions of the same character, possibly appearing within months of each other? Warners experimented with this in 2008, when a JLA film came very close to being made (and which would have mostly starred unknowns, including The Social Network’s Armie Hammer as Batman) – it was a weird idea then, and it’s a weird idea now. Presumably, any spin-offs from JLA would be taking place in the same universe – so some DC films will cross over, but others won’t? Are they seriously trying to create an onscreen version of the DC multiverse? Are they out of their minds? Well, 2013 is a very optimistic date for a film that big (It’ll be interesting to see how well Green Lantern does on release – that could have a major effect on how the DC Universe films progress, especially if it doesn’t end up doing well…), and I suspect minds could be seriously changed if The Avengers turns out to be a giant-sized monster hit…
Green Lantern’s publicity is being delayed by the extensive effects work. Some recent superhero films have been quieter in the pre-publicity stakes than others – Captain America only just unveiled its first full trailer, while Thor has been giving us all kinds of images and trailers since late last year. Green Lantern hasn’t exactly been doing brilliantly – the first trailer has its moments but didn’t exactly blow me away, and given that this is a long, long way from the relatively earthbound action of Iron Man or The Dark Knight, you’d think they’d be doing more to sell the film. Well, they would be, only the combined problems of major sequences taking place on fully CG alien planets, plus the added problem of doing all this in 3-D, means that the whole process has been delayed, and the next trailer for Green Lantern won’t be ready until the release of Thor on May 6th – and that’s only about six weeks before the movie itself is out on June 17th. They’re even still casting voice roles (with Michael Clarke Duncan strongly tipped for the slightly-awkwardly-named Killowog), and given that the summer is already stuffed to bursting with blockbusters, it does at least put a big question mark over whether Green Lantern is going to sink or swim.
The Wonder Woman costume for the TV pilot has been modified – the version spotted in a location shoot doesn’t have funky PVC trousers, and the boots are red now, instead of blue. Now, this may be as a result of the ludicrous level of fan complaints when the costume was unveiled, but it of course hasn’t done anything to quell the somewhat hilarious tide of people bitching online that “it still looks like a Halloween costume” (because of course, the Lynda Carter 70s TV costume in no way looked ridiculous) and generally moaning about how of course the show’s guaranteed to be completely terrible anyway. There are times when I love fandom, and there are times when I don’t.
Amy Adams has been cast as Lois Lane in the upcoming Zack Snyder version of Superman. Now, this is both really good news – Adams is a great actress, and a surprisingly good choice for Lois Lane – and really annoying, as I’d much rather she was appearing in a Superman film not directed by Zack Snyder. At the least, it’s a surprise to have a Lois who’s actually eight years older than the guy playing Superman (Adams is 36, Henry Cavill is 28), plus it’s really nice that Adams will actually look old enough to be an experienced reporter (as opposed to poor old miscast Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns, whose version of Lois looked about twelve years old).
And, to coincide with this in a rather sadder way, Deadline posted a letter from Joanne Siegel – widow of Superman creator Jerry Siegel, and original model for Lois Lane – written two months before her death, asking the head of Time Warner to actually pay the money the company legally owes the Siegel family (and to stop the crappy legal delaying tactics they’ve been using). Yes, we all know that most corporations are going to act in crappy underhand ways – but the Superman legal saga is an epically complicated one, and it’s just a pity it couldn’t have been resolved before Siegel passed away.
Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode is called – shock, horror – ‘The Doctor’s Wife‘! Now, I’m pretty sure, if I’m remembering correctly, that this is a bit of a meta-in-joke as well, as the production team did at one point (in the classic era) try to identify a leak to the fan press by falsely putting out the completely bogus title ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ just to see what happened. It’s certainly not what I expected – the initial thought is that obviously, it’s going to be another ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’ where it turns out that the Doctor hasn’t actually had a secret daughter stashed away all these years, and it’s unlikely to be a River Song-centric story considering Moffat’s bound to be handling that side of things. Actress Suranne Jones is playing the character ‘Idris’, so I’m mildly perplexed – especially considering that Gaiman has actually said that his story brings back someone (or something) we haven’t seen since the Sixties (or, to be more precise, the 1969 story The War Games). Of course, the Doctor has actually already been married onscreen – he accidentally acquired an Aztec wife in the sixties historical story ‘The Aztecs’, but I can’t imagine Gaiman is constructing a whole story around that. I guess we’ll wait and see…
Also Gaiman related – his novel American Gods has been optioned, apparently by a director with ‘many, many Oscars’. Who knows what this means, but it’s a challenging idea – American Gods is a fascinating, occasionally tricky book (one I struggled with on my first reading, but eventually came to really love), but it doesn’t strike me as especially filmable. But then, neither did Stardust, and look what happened there…
Continuing the recent theme of Hollywood adaptations that completely miss the fecking point of what they’re supposed to be adapting, Hollywood are plotting a modernised version of Miss Marple – and have cast Jennifer Garner. Yes, the star of spy action series Alias. My mind is reeling at exactly how much of the original material just got thrown out of the window. Alright, Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost may be involved, but will someone please find the other people who are involved in this and then punch them? (And then sit them down in front of the BBC Joan Hickson Marple adaptations and go “LOOK!”?)
And as if that wasn’t depressing enough, the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits may be remade as an ‘action franchise for kids’. No. No. NO. I’m sorry, but that’s entering territory where I may have to hunt down and kill anyone who’s responsible for bastardising the wonderful, quirky and barmy world of one of my favourite films. And again: NO.
HBO drama series The Wire, re-imagined (rather well) as a Victorian-era novel.
The BBC4 pilot episode adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently books has been comissioned for a series of 3 1-hour episodes. As you’ll see from my review of the pilot, I’m not exactly delighted by this. I guess it’s possible that writer Howard Overman might iron out the issues with the first episode given more time, but I doubt it. Whether I have the patience for another three hours of vaguely tiresome comic shenanigans that bear a vague passing resemblance to books I really, really like remains to be seen…
And finally, news of a slightly more promising movie remake – director David Gordon Green is helming a US version of utterly barmy Italian Horror movie Suspiria. Now, this would normally strike me as a bad idea, especially since Suspiria is a genuinely demented, eye-searingly colourful and hyper-violent movie, one of the few horror movies I’ve seen that genuinely qualify as nightmarish, but David Gordon Green strikes me as a director capable of bringing something interesting to the table (especially in the way he’s bounced from lyrical arthouse dramas to stoner action comedies like Pineapple Express). He’ll have to go some to match the sheer lunacy of Suspiria, but at least he is planning to use significant amounts of the original progrock-tastick Suspiria score by Goblin, a major element of the original’s unique atmosphere, as you can hear from the attention-grabbing, barmy and deeply unsettling main theme:
Video/Audio: Movie Tech-A-Go-Go (Sound and Vision – TRON: Legacy, The Social Network and Inception)
It’s time to indulge my love of finding out the fine details of how certain movies are made, and here’s a couple of videos I tracked down that give in-depth looks at aspects of two of the more attention-grabbing films of the last few months (admittedly, they’re attention grabbing for very different reasons). First up, here’s a one hour in-depth panel discussion with the sound and editing team from TRON: Legacy, giving a detailed look at the development and creation of the movie’s soundscapes from the initial teaser right through to the finished film:
“TRON LEGACY” – Sound Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.
And secondly, here’s another panel discussion, but this one dealing with music and sound design on a very different kind of movie – David Fincher’s brilliant portrait of the birth of Facebook, The Social Network. In this 45-minute discussion, there’s lots of attention paid both to the sound design and the music itself, and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have a lot to say about the thoughts that went into creating a brilliant piece of electronica and one of 2010’s finest film soundtracks:
The Sound and Music of “The Social Network” Panel from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.
Finally, here, via BDKreviews.com, is a 45 minute audio interview with Wally Pfister, the cinematographer who’s worked on every single Christopher Nolan film since Memento, and here gives plenty of info on Nolan’s working methods and the technical know-how behind the mind-bending SF thriller Inception, as well as giving out some vague but extremely interesting tidbits concerning Nolan’s upcoming third Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises…
Video: Star Wars Begins
You can’t throw a brick on the internet without hitting a Star Wars-related image/cartoon/video somewhere. One of the most heavily watched in recent years is, of course, the Red Letter Media series of epic video reviews of the Prequels, most notably the one dealing with The Phantom Menace (which would be a dazzling piece of film criticism, if it wasn’t for the tiresome and rather mean-spirited ‘Serial Killer reviews a movie’ gag that’s been eventually run into the ground), and much of what’s out there deals heavily with the truly gigantic level of disillusionment Star Wars fandom went through as a result of the prequels. Certainly, it’d take something astonishing to actually get me truly excited about any Star Wars-related project now (the fact that we’ve now got 3-D conversions of all the films coming up had me basically thinking “So What?”) and I know there are plenty who feel the same.
However – there are people out there who’ve kept the faith, and one of them (Youtube user jambedavdar) has made a fan documentary that, frankly, will take some beating. Star Wars Begins is a fourteen part, two-and-a-half-hour documentary that takes you through the whole movie and shows you alternate takes, storyboards, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and concept work, as well as giving you a gigantic selection of audio interviews with a massive number of both the cast and crew. There’s a lot of minute detail here (including things like minor differences in dialogue between versions), but there’s also some big surprises, and a gigantic amount of trivia in what adds up to the greatest unofficial Star Wars DVD extra ever. A long watch but one that’s well worth it, Star Wars Begins is a fascinating exploration of the magic of old-school movie making, as well as a reminder that before the franchise, before the prequels, and before the disappointment, Star Wars was just a movie – and a rather bloody good one, too…