Midweek movie news

You’d think Jewish New Year and Labor Day coming so close together would slow down the pace of movie news a little, but leisure is for suckers and Yahweh is just another bit player in this hard luck town.

* The talk of the geek-o-sphere for some time is going to be the announcement of a massive and potentially trendsetting film/television cross-over adaptation of Stephen King’s multi-volume “The Dark Tower” mega-epic. Universal, which has had some very tough times lately, is taking what I’m guessing could be a make-it-or-break-it gamble on the project, the news of which was broken by Mike Fleming earlier.  I’m not a King reader, but I am intrigued by the fact that it’s a western-science fiction-horror cross-breed. In any case apparently the plan is to start with a movie, go to a 22 episode not-so-mini-series, and then onto another movie, another series, then wrapping it all up with movie. The idea being to provide fans with both the grandeur of theatrical films and the detail and time of a television series.

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It’s intriguing but laden with potential pitfalls. One is that it demands an awful lot of time and people who aren’t following the series may feel shut out of the latter two movies. The other is that, quite frankly, I feel the “A Dangerous Mind” creative team of director Ron Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman — who I gather will be writing and directing the first two films and the entire first series at least, which could be some kind of record if that’s what’s really going to happen — simply haven’t indicated they’re up to this kind of material. I hate to say it but winning Oscars can be negative indicator sometimes.

It’s not that I doubt their ability to crank it all out. Howard is obviously a very competent director who knows how to make highly professional material and I have tremendous respect for him as an individual and one of the more positive forces in Big Moviedom. However, he’s always shown a tendency to play it safe and often a bit dull when the chips are really down creatively as a director and none of Goldsman’s movies have been all that inspiring to me either. All I’m saying is that I had a good feeling about Peter Jackson taking on “The Lord of the Rings” and I have a bad feeling about it, though I’d seriously love to be wrong.  Something tells me this project needs a real lunatic and Ron Howard is one of the sanest guys in show business. Huge King fan Quint at AICN has similar misgivings. He has a more riding on this than I.

* Simon Abrams is right re: “Kick-Ass” doing a lot better than people assumed. Even though I cover the weekend grosses here, we all make way too much of those openings and fail to look at the overall picture. Calling a movie a bomb that makes nearly half its budget in its opening weekend is just idiotic anyhow. The actual success of the film may have figured in the ongoing financial struggles between Lionsgate and Carl Icahn.

Aaron Johnson is

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The epic epicness of “Scott Pilgrim”

For those of you who haven’t read Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” comic series — about a twentysomething slacker who must defeat the seven evil ex-boyfriends of his new girlfriend, Ramona V. Flowers — well, there’s a good chance you’ll want to pick them up after seeing the first trailer for Edgar Wright’s big-screen adaptation. There has been a lot of buzz around the Twitterverse about “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” with directors like Jason Reitman calling it a “game changer for the genre” and Kevin Smith saying that “nobody is going to know WTF just hit them.”

I’ve been excited about this project for quite a while. The source material is wildly original, Wright is one of the most creative directors working today, and the cast is absolutely perfect — from Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the lead roles, to Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Jason Schwartzman as the evil exes. The movie doesn’t come out until August, so to help whet your appetite until then, check out the trailer below.






  

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Better late than never, it’s your Friday and weekend movie news dump

Since I took a day off earlier in the week, I’ve got probably enough material for fifteen separate blog posts, but just one will have to do…

* Since about Wednesday (my day off) items about the upcoming Superman film being presided over by Christopher Nolan have been rolling out. First Latino Review broke the news in Spanglish that writer David Goyer, who has been involved with Nolan’s Batman franchise from the start, would be on board. Now IESB (via Bad Guy Wins) reports what it says are rumors that  the director of the Superman film will be Christopher’s writing partner brother, Jonah, making his directorial debut.

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That seems reasonable enough especially given that Nolan’s going to be busy with the third instalment in his Batman franchise. I get a bit more skeptical about the idea that Nolan will be sticking around to direct the long-mulled Justice League movie which would presumably include the new Supes (whoever he may be; sorry Brandon Routh), the current Batman (just as long as no one gets into his eyeline), and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, but I suppose anything is possible.

* I could spend the next week trying to figure this one, but negative PR campaigns against Best Picture Oscar nominees have become de rigeur in recent years and the shrapnel is flying in more than one direction around “The Hurt Locker.” First there were stories from Pete Hammond and a typically voracious Nikki Finke about anti-“Avatar” e-mail blasts by producer Nicolas Chartier. Today there was a far more substantive front page news story in the Los Angeles Times on some disagreements among military people about the film’s putative claims to authenticity. The most serious allegation — which doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to being proven — charges that the crew drove a Humvee into a Jordanian village in order to film angry locals.

Though I think quite highly of Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a frequent guest on Rachel Maddow’s old radio show, I think his criticism is way off-base and was surprised to see him on the anti-“Hurt Locker” side. I don’t think anything in the film indicates that the dangerous-seeking behavior of Jeremy Renner’s character is supposed to be typical, but simply one person’s reaction to an insane situation. Still, it’ s easy to understand why some might kind of forget the movie, though attempting to mirror reality to some degree, makes no claims to being anything other than fiction.

Steve Pond covers the push-back by reporter-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal.

The Hurt Locker

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A geeky movie Tuesday

Little time but some big news today in the geekier realms of moviedom (which is pretty much all of big moviedom these days, or so it seems at times).

* The dynamic duo of Finke and Fleming have broken the news that “Dark Knight” helmer Christopher Nolan will be leading — though probably not directing — a new Superman reboot that will definitely not follow on the (in my view) somewhat underrated Bryan Singer/Brandon Routh semi-sequel to the Richard Donner/Richard Lester films of the seventies. I’m sure me and half of everyone reading could probably write a novel length essay about this. From my end, at least, that’ll have to wait.

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* The apocalyptic battle over the rights to “The Terminator” winds on. Last night, Nikki Finke claimed the exclusive that something called Pacifore had purchased the rights for $29.5 million. Today, since Pacificore is a Santa Barbara-based hedge fund with presumably no knowledge of how to make a blockbuster franchise film, they are today reportedly in negotiations with the former bidding adversaries, Sony and Lionsgate as to actually making new Terminator films. Ben Fritz of the L.A. Times Company Town blog has the details. Apparently, if the negotiations don’t go well, legal action may be in the cards. Gotta love show business.

* And a fun casting story to top everything off. Did I ever tell you people I actually know people who’ve actually been on UCLA stages with Tim Robbins back in the day? It’s really true. Well, I just got a few degrees of separation closer to the “Green Lantern” movie since the very talented writer-director-actor-dramaturg and Sarandon-ex (<sigh>) has joined the cast of “Green Lantern” where he’ll be playing the Peter Saarsgard’s dad. Heat Vision has the scoop.

  

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Comic-Con in the morning and the “Dead of Night”

This morning started out movie-ish, as I arrived just a couple of minutes late for the annual “Master of the Web” panel devoted to online geek film blogging and reportage, this year featuring such occasional or frequent guest stars here as Devin Faraci of CHUD fame and ex-Moriarity Drew McWeeney, now of HitFix. After answering many of the usual questions — no, they don’t allow advertising to influence reviews, if you’re want to start a career writing about movies, expect years of hard unpaid labor, to be followed by severely under-paid harder labor, etc — the movie stars arrived.

Brandon Routh and Sam Huntington, pals in real life, will be reprising their winning hero/sidekick act from “Superman Returns” with a darker but comedic, action/supernatural edge in the upcoming “Dead of Night.” An adaptation of the  “Dylan Dog” comics series from Italy’s Tiziano Sclavi. After some semi-rough clips from the upcoming film, Routh and Huntington were accompanied onto the very crowded podium by lovely co-star Anita Briem (“Journey to the Center of the Earth,” “The Tudors”), who had to put up with a question about a supposed liaison with Megan Fox. (I couldn’t find any links to back this one up. My apologies to pervs and gossip hounds alike.)

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