Well the net and the entertainment industry are all a buzz. It’s official…nothing if safe from the world of remakes franchise revivals. Most people realized this after Star Trek became such a blockbuster success. Heck, G. I. Joe just came out, and that franchise was limited to toys and accompanying DVD’s for well over a decade. Of course, I’d wager that G. I. Joe would prove that some of these ‘revivals’ are can be bad as well as good. I for one am not eager to see it.

Oddly enough there seem to be a lot of 80’s kids shows turned into modern movies for somewhat more mature audiences. Transformers (2007), TMNT (2008), G. I. Joe (2009), before you know it Fraggle Rock is going to show up on the big screen.

Star Trek (2009 ) went back to the original cast of characters from the late 60’s TV show. Barbarella is in the works as we speak.

And now, someone wants to go back even further- the Farrelly Brothers actually want to make a Three Stooges flick.

Now don’t get me wrong- these guys are probably the best guys to do it, based on their track record. But will a brand name  from the black and white era sell in the 21st century? For a while it seemed Sean Penn and Jim Carrey thought so. Penn was rumored to be cast as Moe, I believe, and Jim Carrey was going to play Curly. He stated he was even going to put on weight for the role. Try to imagine Jim Carrey’s persona in Curly’s shoes. While they are both over the top, I can hardly imagine Carrey pulling it off very well. He’s just too set into his own stage personality.

As for Sean Penn, I’m not even sure I’ve seen him in anything remotely resembling a comedy. When I think of Sean Penn, I think of Mystic River (1998) and the Thin Red Line (also 1998). The closest thing to a comedy I have seen him do was Milk, which was still much more a drama than a comedy. Somehow the hardcore drama actor being thrown into the role of Moe doesn’t seem to be very realistic.

Thankfully, the two actors may have reconsidered. they seem to have moved to greener pastures. Meanwhile, another actor has reportedly come onboard- Paul Giamatti. Unlike Penn and Carrey, Paul Giamatti looks like he could make a fair Larry, and his highly laudable acting talent fits the mold fairly well. But with the other two star roles abandoned, who will accompany him on screen?

Curly might seem like a hard shoe to fit, but there are some actors and comedic figures that can physically fit the slapstick bill. Kevin James comes to mind. Perhaps even Larry the Cable Guy, if need be. Both seem to have made a name in pseudo slapstick or otherwise goofy comedy gigs. With a little work, either of them would look the part as well. I think between the two Kevin James is preferable given his adaptability. Larry the Cable Guy is, well, Larry the Cable Guy. Can you really imagine him not being the Larry so many fans have come to know and love?

Moe is a little harder I think. I think that one will be filled by a wildcard type actor. Somehow I imagine Johnny Depp will offer to take up the role. If the opportunity presents itself long enough, he might decide to add it to his long list of oddball roles that others cannot do so well. Of course, the Moe role isn’t too far from George Clooney’s character Everett McGill from O Brother Where Art Thou (2000). I suppose there are several actors that work here, but finding the right one is going to take some serious digging.

And even after all this is settled, is anyone really going to see a movie based on three clownish figures from the early decades of the last century? Inevitably I suppose it must draw a certain Friday night crowd. Any laugh will do after a particularly hard week of work. But is this going to be a kid’s movie, or something more mature? Is it going to be set in modern times? Will that even work? For the sake of nostalgia- and for this kind of movie, you have to inevitably appeal to nostalgia- that they keep the film set in times of the original Larry, Curly and Moe. Otherwise, it will lose all of its charm.

Assuming that there are still moviegoers who remember what that charm was after all these years.

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Ghosts of Sci-fi past

December 7, 2008

So why am I on this kick about old 50’s monster flicks?

Well, because for some reason filmmakers feel the need to revive all of these old dinosaurs. They even decided to redo some of the cheesier ones. For instance, director Robert Rodriguez is in the process of filming Barbarella, with Rosie McGowan as the seductive spacewoman. The original Barbarella (1968) was an erotic science fiction-comedy which starred Jane Fonda, and wasn’t only cheesy but featured infamously suggestive content. It generally had that corny Flash Gordon look and its thematic elements, but with sexuality injected into the mix. At one point, there’s is even a strange torture senario invovlving a device that causes its victim to experience sexual pleasure so intense it is practically fatal.  While this film may have a special niche in the cinematic world, it seems rather random to do a remake of it. Yet, they even got the original’s producer, Dino De Laurentiis, to produce the remake as well. The writers of Casino Royale (2006) are also invovled in this new sci-fi flick.

But it gets even weirder than Barbarella. If you’ll remember, it wasn’t too long ago that I reviewed one of the 50’s most laughable science fiction films; Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). Well, rumor has it someone intends to do a remake of that, too. John Johnson and Darkstone Productions not only plan to recreate the film in honor of Bela Lugosi and Ed Wood, they want to make a serious horror movie out of it. According to the film’s website (that’s right, its far along enough they already have a web site for it) the movie will be released on the 9th of September next year, titled simply as Plan 9.

http://www.plan9movie.com/

But not all of the coming sci-fi remakes are based on silly movies. After all, in just five days we will get to see the remake of one of the 50’s greatest alien hits, the Day the Earth Stood Still. While they changed the form that the ship comes in, they have otherwise seemingly remained faithful to the original. This film truly did have a fairly intelligent subtext to it, and the remake will retain that. They even kept the original look for the giant robot, and it doesn’t look absolutely ridiculous in the trailer. I would have never thought that would be possible. Apparently, they decided to go with Keanu Reeves hoping his experience playing Neo from the Matrix (1999). The choice might be a little obvious and cliche, but at least there’s a good chance it’ll work.

This isn’t the first time that one of the more serious classic sci-fi movies have been remade. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) was remade on several occasions, the latest being the Invasion in (2007).If the Day the Earth Stood Still is successful, it will bring a great deal of dignity to a genre that had none for a good long while. Unfortunately, that dignity may soon dissapear the following year. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Well, Watchmen’s competition released its new exciting trailer attached with the Bond flick this month. This is the latest big production by producer/director J.J. Abrams, creator of Cloverfield (2008) and the television series Fringe and Lost. He has had a very successful career in science fiction programs, despite most of his material being somewhat experimental. Most of his work invovles a strange slant on a traditional sci-fi archetype. For example, Cloverfield is like a giant monster movie, but through BlairwitchoVison.

Well, the unusual quirk Star Trek  is that it is a prequel. Apparently, Star Trek is following the same path as Star Wars. The dynamic style gives the Star Trek universe a visual quality the low budget series could not achieve. This film is fairly distinct from its predecessors.

However, unlike Star Wars, this installment of Gene Roddenberry’s classic franchise maintains at least some of the original designs from the 1960’s television series. The ships and outfits are exactly like the uniforms Spock and Captain Kirk wore in the original series. The ships have a modern twist to them, and the Vulcan civilization seems to be heavily influenced by Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the elves in Lord of the Rings. Clearly, Abrams and company are trying to bring the innovation and beauty of the 21st century epic film genre to one of the oldest franchises in television history. From the trailer, it looks like they have the visuals down. Luckily, even the young actors are acceptable as youthful incarnations of Spock and Kirk.

My fear is that Star Trek will invovle so many starship battles that it will look like Star Wars with Star Trek ships. Granted, the filmmakers have finally figured out that by tilting the camera they can make the battles more intense, and clearly there was a huge budget for special effects. I just hope it won’t be excessive.

My hope is that this film will breathe new life into Gene Roddenberry’s outdated creation, and show us why so many people still keep up these silly conventions.  As someone who never got into the Trekkie stuff, I’ve always felt that there was just too much to digest. There are literally decades of characters and plots. Star Trek never seemed to cater to anyone other than the hardcore crowd. Some time ago, that trend changed. They started doing a spinoff prequel series, and now there is a prequel movie that will reach a wider audience, and it features the original characters.  

I would suggest anyone remotely interested in the franchise check out this movie. If you are going to test the waters, start from the beginning and you might as well see it on a really big screen.

“Watchmen” Preview

November 22, 2008

watchmen1

Well, I posted my preview of the Spirit and it seems like few people were actually looking forward to it. I am skeptical of it myself. However, it was only shortly after I posted about that particular film that I discovered the anti-Spirit. In May of next year, Watchmen will show up on the big screen.

Watchmenis obviously based on the graphic novel with the same name, and there seems that most people that are familiar with the comic book medium know about Watchmen. For the ones that are not, this collection is basically about what happens when superheroes exist in the real world, and whether they would be a boon or a curse on society. However, it is much more complex than that isn’t it? The story also takes place over several decades leading to the year 1985, the year prior to the novel’s release. There is a great deal that has to do with the doomsday clock and the threat of nuclear holocaust-a threat that superheroes are essentially powerless to face. This, and each characters’ personal issues and neuroses cause them to behave more like imperfect beings, sometimes even as criminals. This wasn’t typical for comicbooks at the time, and still isn’t today, although Marvel Comics is going that direction, especially after Moon Knight’s reemergence and the “Civil War” they went through.

The project of filming this graphic novel isn’t a new idea. In fact, its been on the table for forever. Many big names has been attached to it-including Joaquin Phoenix, John Cusack, Daniel Craig, and Terry Gilliam. None of them are involved with this shoot. Gilliam reportedly even declared the thing unfilmable. Then, a new up and coming director signed on-Zack Snyder, director of Dawn of the Dead  (2004) and 300 (2006). While this particular filmmaker may not have much experience, what he has done is amazing. Let’s not forget that  300was a comic-book movie, and darn good one at that.  The cast he has is full of relatively unknowns and lesser knowns, but there is quite a bit to suggest that they are very capable of pulling this off. There is even an Oscar nominee among them. Like 300, Watchmen will look as much like the graphic novel as possible, even in terms of color and lighting. Exact images from the book are replicated here.

However, the expectations for such a movie are incredibly high. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Zack Snyder and his crew can pull this off brilliantly.There is a lot of promise here.  Alan Moore has expressed his excitement for the movie, and Kevin Smith has also seen an early screening and was very impressed with it. It might be difficult to create the cinematic equivalent of the “most celebrated graphic novel of all time”, though.

Whatever the case may be, it surely will be better than the Spirit.     Be sure to vote on my poll, please.

Special Note: This trailer is the first of three. The latest can be found at: http://watchmenmovie.warnerbros.com/

Well, this Christmas we get to see yet another spectacular multi-million dollar comic book movie put out by Frank Miller, complete with that distinctive Frank Miller look. It looks every bit as stylized and surealistically beautiful as Sin City (2005) and 300 (2006) was. The legion of lovely actresses and the presence of the cinematic legend that is Samuel L. Jackson should make any movie goer tremble with excitement.

Instead, the last couple trailers make the film look just plain odd.

While the film injects strong neo noir conventions into a beautifully dramatized landscape, there isn’t anything in the trailer to suggest that the film has any substance. In fact, it doesn’t even reveal much in the way of a plot. All we get is a steady stream of femme fatales, which is admittedly nice because we rarely see much of them any more. Now we get at least five or six in just one movie, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes among them! This Spirit guy must be a studly love-machine to have this many girls after him. Or maybe he is just the horniest comicbook hero alive…

While much of the plot may remain a mystery, the character of the Spirit is a little more clear. He is a classic mix of action hero and noir anti-hero. He leaps from rooftop to rooftop, answering any woman than cries out for him and killing his villians “all kinds of dead”. All the while in a fedora and a red tie. Even his proffessed love for his urban jungle brings film noir to mind.  You don’t exactly get that much any more. Aside from the rooftop thing, where is the comicbook hero?

Well, apparently this guy can recover from fatal blows. Oddly this hero reminds me of “the Phantom” and “the Shadow”, both of which are vintage characters from radio serials and early comics. Both characters recieved film adapations in the 90’s, although neither did remarkably well. The Shadow (1994) in particular had a noirish asthetic. Is it possible that the Spirit can prosper where the Shadow failed? Only the Shadow knows. Heh.

Well, maybe not. Many of the lines taken out of the movie are very silly and quite preposterous. In one trailer there is a clip of Samuel Jackson dressed as a Nazi…see, the whole effect of being a white supremecist only works if the person is white. Aside from Jackson’s odd wardrobe, this film looks like it could be interesting. If it lives up to Frank Miller’s previous films, that would be both a relief and a surprise.