Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

The Fighter Shaping Up

June 22, 2009

It’s been a long road for the Mickey Ward biopic – The Fighter. Matt Damon was initially attached and then pulled out. Brad Pitt was then attached and also pulled out. The Wrestler Director Aronofsky was replaced, the story got a re-write…for a long time there it seemed like this one wouldn’t be made.

Mickey Ward

But it now looks like things are starting to fall into place. When Christian Bale signed up alongside long time attached Mark Wahlberg last month to star in the film, the movie took a giant leap toward getting made. Since then it has been announced that David O. Russell is taking on the Directing role, and recently Oscar nominated Actress Melissa Leo began negotiations to play the role of Mother to Wahlberg and Bale’s characters. All in all, it looks like The Fighter is finally shaping up, with filming set to begin in July.

As a fan of both boxing and the movies, I say let’s get it on.

For those not familiar with Mickey Ward’s work, he is a recently retired (2003) blue collar boxer from Massachusetts who was known for his enormous heart and refusal to quit. His hard nosed determination and deference towards defence made for thrilling fights, and amongst the boxing fraternity he became something of a cult figure.

Even so, Ward toiled in relative obscurity for much of his career, and did not achieve mainstream success until his three fight series with Arturo Gatti. (For those who have never seen this guy fight, it doesn’t get any better than Round 9 of his first fight with Gatti – a staggeringly good round in one of the greatest fights in boxing history).

The movie will focus on the relationship between Ward (played by Wahlberg) and his half brother Dicky Eklund (Bale), a mid-level professional fighter (who once went the distance against Sugar Ray Leonard) who had to overcome his own battles with drugs and alcohol to help train Mickey to in-ring success.

The questions I really want answered though – how well will Wahlberg be able to handle the fight scenes? And who is going to play the part of Ward’s arch-nemesis, Arturo Gatti?

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Iron Man 2 Update

June 2, 2009

Lots of hype around Iron Man 2 recently, with the shoot half way through completion and a number of key sequences already in the bag. Comingsoon.net has a bunch of photos from the set available here, and Jon Favreau has been keeping fans up to date with his daily twitters – a great source of information on the progress of the shoot itself.

The man in the iron suit.

Downey gearing up for round 2 of the man in the iron suit.

The star of the show, Robert Downey Jr has described the sequel as being “incredibly risky and artistic for a big genre movie”. Sounds to me like that might be code for them trying to go for some of that, you know, “story” stuff that can sometimes get in the way of a big budget picture. You can read the full interview here.

Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Terrance Howard was not signed for the sequel, amidst reports of cost cutting and dissatisfaction over his performance. That move had fans up in arms, but nobody was more upset than Howard himself, especially if you consider the fact that they always seemed to be hinting that the second movie was going to feature an increase in screen time for the character (“next time baby”). In choosing Don Cheadle to replace Howard though, they took an actor with an impressive pedigree, and the early reports from the set suggest he is filling Howard’s shoes admirably.

Sam Rockwell has pretty much been in from the start, and the addition of Scarlett Johannson in the role of Black Widow has been well publicised – but the secrecy surrounding Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo in the sequel has also come to an end, with the news that he has signed an incredible nine picture deal with Marvel Studios to play the role of Nick Fury.

Mickey Rourke is also in the mix, donning his own 23lbs suit to play super-villain Whiplash in between his time on the set of The Expendables. Good to see that the star of The Wrestler is a busy man nowadays. Amazing what a successful movie can do for an actors schedule.

Checking Out The Road Ahead

May 29, 2009

I loved Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road – a bleak, broodingly creepy but fundamentally good hearted novel about a father’s determination to protect his son at the end of all things. It is unconventional though, and it doesn’t appear to be a book that would translate easily onto the big screen. It’s mysterious, haunting, and unrelentingly grim…I mean, this sounds exactly like the sort of thing Hollywood is going to balls up, right?

Maybe not.

Plenty can go wrong on The Road.

Plenty can go wrong on The Road.

Early reports suggest that this is shaping up to be a very literal, respectful adaptation of the winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Let’s hope so. The last thing we need is a repeat of what happened with I Am Legend – where they changed some key facts and tacked on some cheery feel-goodery so audiences felt more comfortable on their drive home. The Road isn’t that kind of book, and shouldn’t be that kind of movie, and anybody looking for light entertainment would probably be better off watching something else.

I like the decisions they have made with cast and crew, eschewing star power and going for people they feel confident can capture the right tone. Charlize Theron is probably the biggest name in the movie, but her “serious acting” credentials are pretty well known. Viggo Mortinsen seems like an outstanding choice for the father, and whilst he may not be known too well outside Australia, Director John Hillcoat showed in both The Proposition and Ghosts…of the Civil Dead (largely unknown but brilliant Australian flick from the late 80’s) that he is a man who appreciates mood and pacing. Fans of Nick Cave may also be interested to hear that he is composing the score, a job that on paper suits the dark prince of indie rock well.

Esquire Magazine’s Tom Chiarella is calling The Road The Most Important Movie Of The Year, which may be stacking a little too much pressure on it, but the article makes for a great read. The big question on everybody’s lips though – will audiences respond to a movie this dark and moody? Or will generations of film-fans who are used to their post-apocalyptic mayhem coming with Terminator style special effects walk out wondering what all the fuss was about?

Trailer Addict has previews for anybody wanting an early look at the trailer from The Road.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen Update

May 26, 2009

Just under a month to go until Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen hits cinemas and the marketing campaign is kicking into overdrive.

You can find all the latest trailers and movie posters here.

The promotion isn’t going to be quite as big as initially planned however, with one of the key advertising partners from the first film, GM Motors, on the verge of financial collapse and is downgrading its contribuition to the marketing budget.

Don't worry - still plenty of Megan Fox headed our way.

Don't worry - still plenty of Megan Fox headed our way.

The studio is bouncing back with a viral marketing campaign that got underway last week. It’s a strategy that got them plenty of buzz in the first film, and they will be looking to repeat the dose here.

The release comes at a difficult time, surrounded as it is by big budget movies such as Star Trek, Wolverine and Terminator: Salvation. That aside, studio hopes remain high. Transformers was a box office monster in 2007, and plenty of pundits are predicting this to be another box office success story for Michael Bay.

What about the critical response though? Throughout his career Bay has been lampooned over his preference for action and glamour (not to mention product placement) over plot and character development. Admittedly, some of his films have missed their mark pretty widely (and I hated Pearl Harbour as much as everybody else), but his position as the favourite whipping boy of critics, bloggers and journalists alike puzzles me a little.

Sure, his films tend to lack depth, he has little time for subtlety and his action sequences can be preposterously over the top – but he also makes fun, entertaining flicks that look good and perform well at the box office. Still the critics attack him like a polar bear on a gravy covered seal.

It’s a phenomenon the man himself is well aware of, and as he outlines in this interview in LA Times, he is ready for whatever backlash comes his way. Michael Bay knows you hate him: “There’s a lot of poison on the internet…whatever”.

Gilliam, Parnassus and Quixote

May 23, 2009

Terry Gilliam’s new movie, The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus has had its first screening at Cannes (outside of competition though), to luke-warm early reviews.

This movie is most notable as the final film of Heath Ledger, and given the extraordinarily difficult circumstances this film was made in, I think getting it finished and all the way to Cannes is something of a miracle. Large parts of the movie had to be re-written on the fly, and I think a few plotting/character issues can probably be expected (and even forgiven).

Gilliam is probably not crazy

Gilliam knows a thing or two about a crisis

Gilliam’s films are rarely made easily, and his well publicised aborted attempt to bring the man from La Mancha to the big screen was illustrated in the documentary Lost in la Mancha. But even with those experiences, the tragic passing of his star actor mid way through the shoot must have come as a blow on both a personal and technical level.

He is not the man to quit lightly however – the latest proof of which is the somehwat ironic news that he is going to once again attempt to get The Man Who Killed Don Quixote made. Johnny Depp is still attached to the project, but with with the enormously popular star committed to other productions, the scheduling difficulties are already beginnning.

Which, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly how Terry Gilliam rolls.

Inglorious Basterds Update

May 22, 2009

Reviews from the debut of Inglorious Basterds in Cannes are in, and as usual, Rotten Tomatoes has the pick of them.

Nikki Finke has also put together some of the UK reviews, and they can be checked out at her Deadline Hollywood Daily site.

It’s a mixed bag, to be sure, with comments ranging from “Gott-Awful”, all the way through to “a wonderfully acted movie that subverts expectation at every turn”. Some claim this is a return to form, sure to revive his career, whilst others are calling it a complete flop.

I'm predicting this scene ends in violence...

I'm predicting this scene ends in violence...

What we can be sure of is that the audience gave the film a rousing ovation at the end of the screening, and that right now Quentin Tarantino is the talk of the town. Those have to be good signs, although, Cannes has been kind to him before.

Personally, as an un-ashamed, un-repentant an un-whatever-else Tarantino fan, I’m excited about this one. In an era of sequels and prequels, Tarantino keeps moving forward, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do with his WW2 spaghetti western.

For those looking to whet their appetites, TrailerAddict has some previews. Ain’t it Cool News is also promoting a new clip – with an introduction by Tarantino himself. Check it out here

Terminator Salvation Update

May 20, 2009

I didn’t like this idea when I first heard it. We’ve been through the Terminator story…Arnie is the Governator now, the Terminator 3 fiasco is best not talked about, The Sarah Connor Chronicles were struggling (and has now been terminated itself)…I just didn’t see it.

But around the same time Christain Bale started screaming at people on the set, I started to become excited. Bale was obviously into it, I’m curious about what Director McG can do, and I liked the look of the cast – Aussie Sam Worthington, rap star Common, Helena Bonham Carter and the smoking hot yet oddly named Moon Bloodgood.

Terminator Salvation

The future looks pretty similar to catching the 5:30 train from Central.

Plus – the early photos looked fantastic. And now the latest trailer has me plenty excited.  For those who are interested, Apple.com also has an exclusive 4 minute preview.

Early reviews of the film haven’t been too flattering, but I’m reserving judgement. This seems like the kind of flick that movie critics may not get into as much as fans of the genre.

Plenty of support around Sam Worthington’s performance though, with this article in the Sydney Morning Herald suggesting that he is set to become the second Aussie in a row to outshine Christian Bale in a big-budget epic (in reference to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight).

That sounds a bit rich to me, but I guess there is nothing wrong with a little nationalistic flag waving every now and then. As long as it doesn’t end up like last time, when Paul Hogan got a Golden Globe for Crocodile Dundee and somehow wound up as the national tourism spokesperson.

Mad Max 4 – Beyond Beyond Thunderdome

May 19, 2009

Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph  is reporting today that the heavily rumored fourth installment of the Mad Max franchise is set to go ahead, and may even go into production by the end of 2009.

Early rumours were that this was going to be shot in 3D animation, but latest reports point toward this being a live action film instead. No confirmations at this stage, but Aint It Cool News  is stating that original Director George Miller is set to take the helm, which has to be considered a coup.

Add 30 years...and leather pants.
Add 30 years…and leather pants.

It looks unlikely however that Mel Gibson will be climbing back in the saddle for this one. Personally, I think that is a good decision. Mel’s best work will probably be done behind a camera at this point. And just between ourselves, he is probably getting too old for this sh*t.

Aussie Chris Hemsworth is Thor

May 18, 2009

Nikke Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily has confirmed her report from a few days ago – Chris Hemsworth is set to play Thor in the upcoming Marvel feature. Big news for the Australian, who is probably best known to American audiences as “George Kirk” (James Tiberius’ father) in the latest Star Trek film, although Aussies might remember him from his long run on Home and Away or the local version of Dancing With The Stars.

Plenty of questions over what direction they will take the movie – will we see Thor as the left wing revolutionary with a possible delusional God complex? Or will they get back to the mythological roots of the character and play up the God status? And what kind of look will Kenneth Brannaugh bring to the role of Director? Hamlet meets Hulk? A powerful character study of family conflict through the eyes of a Thunder God and his enormous hammer?

Either way – we do know this;

1) In addition to this movie, Thor is set to be included in an Avengers movie with Iron Man, The Hulk and a cast of other Super-hero types following this movie’s release in 2011.
2) Chris Hemsworth’s star is well and truly on the rise – this news comes on the back of his well received performance in Star Trek, his current work on the Joss Whedon project The Cabin In The Woods, and to top it all off he has recently signed up to play the lead in the remake of the 1984’s cult classic, Red Dawn. How’s that for the dream geek quadrilogy? 

Nice work if you can get it.

Is Nic Cage a zombie?

May 13, 2009
I'm just saying...

I'm just saying...

I saw Knowing recently. I saw Ghost Rider before that. Believe me folks, I know a re-animated corpse when I see one. And if nobody else is willing to ask the question, I will; has Nicolas Cage become another soldier in the swelling ranks of the living dead?

Is it possible that Nic passed away sometime after Adaptation, and has since been brought to life by one of the Hollywood studio’s burgeoning science divisions? Do you really think your average Hollywood exec would balk at the thought of bringing a star back from the dead if it meant more box office hits?

What are we to make of Cage’s vacant, expressionless shuffling throughout his last couple of films? What about these rumours that are coming to light regarding Cage’s contractual demands for his trailer to be supplied with fresh human brains twice a day?