Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Movie News Roundup

Fickle Film

      Like any archetypical Clint Eastwood cowboy, I'll be donning a hat. We can call it the movie marshal's hat; Eastwood preferred a beaver felt Stetson made famous in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy. As an enduring cultural icon, Eastwood's name is synonymous with tough-talking-no-nonsense banter. So, I'm going to pay forward his legacy of straightforward talk. It's a spirit that cannot be effectively translated to words, of course, but I'm going to do my best. After all, stubbornness in spirit is also a primal facet of The Man With No Name. I'll be corralling the genuine and barefaced movie news of the day (sometimes the week/month/year), assuming the news is worthy of underscoring, and offering my brief analysis. My fierce pal, Dezmond of Hollywood Spy fame, also deserves some of the recognition for this post' inspiration. As the James Bond of movie news, he's consistently on the ball, reporting developments that appeal to moviegoers across the world. Kudos, my friend.
      As we know, film news developments are fickle creatures. Interesting, timely news is not only beholden to whimsical decision makers, but earnest, around-the-clock reporters; predators of information, eager to broadcast the latest and greatest snippets of anything remotely topical. I believe Clint Eastwood, in an entirely different context, said it best: "if you want a guarantee, buy a toaster." But Eastwood also famously stated: "I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it." Therefore, the inherent unreasonableness of reporting shall not deter my willingness to underscore, what I deem, the interesting movie developments of the day. And with that charming nugget of wisdom, let's get to today's news.

      First up is the big budget, tentpole film The Lone Ranger. It reunites Jack Sparrow with Gore Verbinski, his director on Pirates of the Caribbean (thankfully, only the first three) and Rango. Deadline broke the news concerning its release date: the fictional masked Texas Ranger's big screen debut is set for December 21, 2012. The early winter time is traditionally a competitive time for new releases. 2012 is no different. December is always an opportune time for statue-hungry filmmakers, seeking Oscar acclaim. Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Ang Lee's Life of Pi highlight the pivotal season.
      TLR will be directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The two stars are Armie Hammer, as the title character and Johnny Depp, as Tonto. On a personal and professional level, Hammer has the most to gain. Is The Lone Ranger primed to be his breakthrough role? He gained widespread acclaim for his portrayal of the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, but a substantive role opposite Depp should provide him with ample opportunity to elevate his exposure. He's got the look and the personality to be a star, but does he have the sustained talent? His portrayal of the Lone Ranger should give us sufficient evidence.
      Depp will play Tonto, who Verbinski envisions as "Don Quixote told from Sancho Panza's point of view." In an interview, Depp piggybacked Verbinski's plans for the film: "[Lone Ranger is] a real opportunity to give a salute to them [Native Americans]." Verbinski's narrative, from all accounts, will portray Tonto in a more Native American-friendly light, reversing the previous "Tonto as a sidekick to The Lone Ranger" approach. 
      My only bone of contention: is this film further evidence that Disney is drubbing movie franchises into the ground? It's no secret that The Lone Ranger languished in development hell. Or, can Depp, Hammer, Verbisnki and Bruckheimer deliver a crowd pleasing, Oscar contending picture; undoubtedly, a steep expectation? I'm optimistic, but my optimism is tempered by Disney's visions for the film's tone. All I'm asking, begging in fact: please do turn the franchise into some kind of cartoonish, Power Rangers-style adventure. No tomfoolery and supernatural extravagance. 

      Next up on my agenda is an awesome X-Men song parody called "Born This Way." I guess it was only a matter of time before Lady Gaga and mutant creatures collided. Thanks to Ryan from TheWarpZone, pop culture gluttons, Gaga crazies and superhero superfans must wait no longer.
      If you're a fan of Henry Jackman's X-Men: First Class soundtrack, John Ottman's X2 score or the 90's cartoon theme song, then this song is positively just for you. Ryan's winning riff pays tribute to the mutant superheroes via Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" tune. I encourage all of my readers to watch the hilarious proceedings. Why? Because of the following...Hilarious lyrics? Check. Acoustic guitar? Check. Infectious energy? Check. Magneto costume? Check. No First-Class spoilers? Check. Potential sequel? Check.
      My one complaint with the video: this guy, obviously a devout X-Men fan, only singles out Wolverine as the prime fluke in the franchise. Has he not seen The Last Stand? But I'll admit: such a quibble is tawdry at best and does not diminish the endearing quality whatsoever. 
      TheWarpZone is prepared to make a full-on music video, if they get a strong response. Thus, if you dig it, spread the word.

      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II is just over a month away. And Warner Bros is ratcheting up its marketing for the beloved franchise. TV commercials are rampant, actors are making the proverbial rounds, advertising costs are soaring, movie theaters are decorating their halls with Potter posters and filling their coming attractions with elaborate trailers. Most recently, Yahoo Movies has premiered 11 exclusive "Action Banners." The banners feature all of the movie's major characters, and some minor ones, in get this awesome wrinkle: full on battle mode. For the full slate of badass posters, go here. My favorite banner of the bunch is...well, His. Name. Is. Harry. Potter. But the Neville and Draco posters are BAMF worthy. Diehard Potter fans will surely love them all.

      Speaking of awesome new posters, I just discovered Super 8's latest illustration. And I urge you all to turn your speakers up because it screams Spielberg. It's a gorgeous poster. The detail is impeccable save for Kyle Chandler's poorly rendered face; such an awkward look for the Coach. But, in terms of thematic conveyance, does the poster elicit too much? In other words, is the overt Spielbergian supernatural touch a good or bad thing? I'm aware that Abrams did not make the poster. But the question is warranted because he likely signed off on it. 
      Is Abrams' Spielberg influence, as some critics decry, too drastic in design? Is his film merely manufacturing Mr. E.T. and Close Encounters' dramatic flair for nostalgia? Can it possibly be that Abrams is trying too hard to replicate, what was for Spielberg, an organic style from the past? My contention is that a director, clearly influenced by a prior style and sensibility, can also predominantly infuse his own distinct touch. Abrams is purposefully melding elements of Spielberg with elements of his own guise. I think the mixture is more of a harmonious marriage than a disjointed juxtaposition or hodgepodge. Ultimately, the beauty of the debate, which is also the saving grace of cinema, is that we can all judge for ourselves. The even better part: we get to find out this week. For you extremely lucky few attending tonight's free screenings, may the force be with you. For those of you who want to create your own luck, the "sneak preview showings" start tomorrow. For more information on how to earn a spot, go to

      And finally, for the most distressing news of the day, a third Hangover film is feverishly in the works. According to a new interview with Zach Galifianakis in Rolling Stone, the third time may be the charm. From early accounts, it appears that the powers that be may jettison the plot structure from the first two films in favor of something vastly different. Well, hooray for originality. Of course, this is preliminary information and, as the whims of Hollywood vacillate, so too do the major developments. Thus, let me add a disclaimer: this information is subject to change. 
      For my liking—and not just because I hate dealing with the inevitable migraine/nausea the morning after—the less Hangover talk I must endure, the better. Unless the third movie does one of two things: 1. the Wolfpack fighting an actual pack of wolves or 2. the Wolfpack transforming into awesomely bawdy werewolves. If Phillips can dream up a nightmarish Hangover-style debauchery fest that engulfs into something from The Howling, then I'm in, wholeheartedly. I can totally imagine Alan running amok in a psychiatric resort. Can you?


= Hungover: An Alcoholic Werewolf in [Wherever]


  1. I have to catch up on Harry Potter. I'm not sure which movies I missed, but I definitely have not seen them all. I would like to see the final one in theaters, just so one day, I can say I was there.

    I'm actually looking forward to Super 8.

    Saw the Hangover 2. I'll admit I laughed, but I don't give those types of films credit.

    Good video clip!

  2. Excellent report, pal! I do wonder though - releasing a movie on the last day of the planet? Really? That's gonna kill the rest of the weekend AND the repeat business...I also wonder if they haven't gone a little too far in casting so the former sidekick is not an equal - as it seems Depp on screen might well destroy the fellow in the Robin mask who's not as well known. I also think these are the wisest words I have read in a while: "No tomfoolery and supernatural extravagance." Which could also be read as "Keep Jon Peters and his talking dogs and giant robot spiders FAR from this movie!" Not sure when I'll be able to make it out to Super 8 - the sked is packed - but we'll see...and really like your ideas for The Hangover 3/Howling 9: Your Fiance is a Werewolf! And lastly, Paul, don't make "those types of films" pay cash all the time! Thanks Matty!

  3. Can't wait for Super 8. I'm heading there this weekend. This is going to be a titanic mash-up the two greatest alien on earth films ever, E.T and John Carpenter's The Thing. Both from th same year, too, 1982.

    I am so not up for Lone Ranger and here's why. I don't think Disney, Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer have the creative ability to make a great film told from the POV of a Native American. Disney's great contribution to Native American films aside from the racist Davey Crockett schlock include Squanto and the dismal Pocahontas. Not very accurate in spite of the strong Native American casting. They cleaned up all the mistreatment as per usual. I see them doing everything they can to blockbuster this at the expense of character and story. Disney likes to remake everything in the image of the happiest place on earth. Revisionist bullshit artists are what they are.

    Okay, getting off the soapbox.

    The Wolfpack in a Howling-esque send-up would be hilarious. I can so see Mr. Chow as the psycho camp director/alpha werewolf. LMAO!

  4. WOW! That's a massive post, Matty! :)

    "...director on Pirates of the Caribbean (thankfully, only the first three)" - C'mon, Verbinski a true visionary and such a versatile director. I love him! :) Anyway, I'm excited about "Lone Ranger", it looks very promising.

    I expect a lot from HP & TDH 2, and it'd better not disappoint. :)

    And, you're right.. this Super * illustration screams Spielberg!

  5. proud to have you, a smart hunk, as one of my regular visitors although my penguins don't like you (Kowalski is jealous of your wits, Private of your muscles and Major thinks you have secret world domination plans) :PP

    I will watch SUPER 8 on dvd probably, and LONE RANGERS isn't my cup of tea. I do like Armie, but Depp is getting kinda boring and plus I don't like Wild West. Loved the Gaga tune :)

  6. @ Paul

    I feel ya. I actually had to devote an entire week to ALL of the Harry Potter films because there were some (and I wasn't even sure which ones) that I either hastily watched or didn't see at all. In lieu of the big climactic finale, it was a necessary endeavor, if not a tad tedious. Not all the films are that good. The best, in my opinion, is The Prisoner of Azkaban. Can the finale exceed it? We shall see...

    Super 8 is going to be an awesome theater experience. I agree with your take on Hangover II, and I'm glad you enjoyed the video.

    Thanks for the comment.

  7. @ Craig

    Thanks man! Excellent comment, yourself.

    I completely dropped the ball on that connection, huh? When I learned of the release date, I didn't realize it falls on the same day as the supposed "apocalypse," lol. But thanks for reminding me. Now, I'll just be happy if I actually get to see the film.

    I think Hammer could be a strong co-star, but his experience is still very minimal. So, my projection, of course, is not backed by any empirical evidence. I just have a hunch that Hammer will stand out, in a good way. He's got star potential.

    Thanks for digging my quip! I must say, your comment is even funnier, and more enlightening. Hopefully, you can catch Super 8 sooner than later. And your idea for a Hangover 3/Howling 9 mash-up is money!

  8. @ Melissa

    Our Super 8 fandom/enthusiasm is apparently contagious. I'm catching it this weekend, no ifs, ands. or buts about it. And kudos for the mention of The Thing. Totally underrated film for its time. Frankly, it deserves more acclaim. It was one of the first films, in my deep recollection, that actually terrified me.

    You're more than welcome to engage the soapbox anytime you like. Your rants are always passionate and insightful, which is really, all one can ask for.

    I think The Lone Ranger can deliver creative entertainment in spite of Disney's decrepit involvement. Verbinski is capable of interesting narrative (the first Pirates film and Rango, for instance), but he cannot allow Disney to spoil the movie's tone. This film will succeed by being bold. If Disney diminishes the sincerity of the Native American elements, the film could be an unmitigated disaster. I hope it doesn't go that way.

    But you're absolutely right about your unceremonious drubbing of Disney's influence. They vitiate and glorify everything they touch, often times for the worse. On occasion, I enjoy their "happiest place on Earth" approach. But most of the time, it's patently uncalled for. We'll leave it at that, otherwise I'd have to write another extensive post.

    Mr. Chow as the "psycho camp director." YES! Make that movie now, please!

  9. @ Nebular

    Go big or go home, right!? Haha, you know I like to elaborate.

    And when I made that comment, I was praising Verbinski, not debasing him. Thus, I mentioned the first three Pirates films, which are anchored by good story (or examples of what constitutes good story), as opposed to the latest incarnation (which was directed by Rob Marshall and was an utter disaster).

    Glad you recognized the Spielberg inspired illustration (we can thank Drew Struzan, the illustrator), which brings me to my final point: Spielberg can do no wrong.

    @ Dezmond

    You're welcome pal!

    And thanks for the "smart hunk" praise. I can consume flattery all day, lol. I'm glad you're penguins dislike my presence. I'm not gonna please everyone. However, I do appreciate the sentiments of one Mr. Major. "Secret World Domination plans," he suspects. Well, I can't ruin a good secret.

    I strongly encourage you to watch Super 8. You'll get a good kick out of it. And Depp is not boring, he's just overexposed. The guy's an amazing chameleon. I always enjoy what he brings to the table, from a creative and energy standpoint. And I knew you'd enjoy the Gaga song. It was clever.