Box Office Preview: Nothing to See Here

Snow White and the Huntsman

Who throws a cupcake, honestly? On a similar note, who would think combining Snow White with high fantasy and action/adventure is a good idea, honestly? Why, Universal Pictures, that’s who. We’ve got them to thank for the atrocious “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Coming soon to a theater near you!

I just can’t wrap my head around it, it seems like they’re actually trying to make a terrible movie. What separates good fantasy, stuff like “Game of Thrones” or “Lord of the Rings,” from the alarmingly awful majority of the genre is the subversion of cliches like the ultimate battle of good versus evil. When it comes to “Game of Thrones,” believe me, I should know. Especially given how much of my life I spend writing about it. Yet the tagline for “Snow White” is “Evil meets Destiny,” it’s right there in the trailer. I feel I should add this isn’t just me being grumpy either, the film’s at a 46 percent on the Tomatometer.

The movie’s about… Come on, what do you think it’s about? It’s Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the queen. Old queenie gets her panties in a bunch when her talking mirror tells her Snow White may one day be the fairest of them all.

The only difference between this and the Disney version is the queen sends a Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White. Seriously Hemsworth, if I wasn’t still feeling my “Avengers” contact high I might not be able to forgive you for this. Oh, and there’s battles and actiony stuff too, which always makes for a better film. Just ask “Battleship.”

Piranha 3DD

I didn’t think it was possible for me to be less excited about a movie than “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Then I watched the trailer for “Piranha 3DD.” I think I may have strained whatever muscles are responsible for dry heaving. Did you know the extra “D” in the title is meant to indicate this a sequel? Because I didn’t. I suppose it’s also a boob joke. Don’t blame the messenger, this is high-brow stuff folks. Summing this one up on my own might induce actual vomitus. To spare myself the trouble I’ll let the three of you interested peruse the official synopsis:

After the terror unleashed on Lake Victoria in Piranha 3D, the pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas are back. This time, no one is safe from the flesh eating fish as they sink their razor sharp teeth into the visitors of summer’s best attraction, The Big Wet Water Park.

Just copy and pasting that hurt. Anyway, “Piranha 3DD” stars a bunch of young no names, along with people like Ving Rhames, David Hasselhoff, and Gary Busey. To this I say fine, get your money while there’s money to be got. But then I read that Christopher Lloyd is in the picture and my face looked something like this. That’s right, the man who played Doc Brown in “Back to the Future” and Taber in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is dragging his name through the mud with this garbage. Alright, in his defense the original’s been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. But “Pirahna 3DD’s” rating on the Tomatometer stands at a measly 12 percent.

Avoid this film like the plague, or, you know, a pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas.

Battlefield America

Did I say I was unexcited about “Pirahna 3DD” because “Battlefield America” has brought me to depths of disinterest I never thought possible. The synopsis calls it “A steady look at the underbelly of the youth battle dance culture in Long Beach, California.” The underbelly of youth dance culture? Seriously? Even if that didn’t sound ridiculous how many dance off movies can there possibly be? And now we’ve got to involve children?

Apparently “Battlefield America” is director Chris Stokes’ follow-up to 2004’s “You Got Served.” Since when do movies as universally disliked as “You Got Served” (16 on the Tomatometer) get follow-ups? Well, for a while now. I suppose a better question is why these movies get follow-ups, sequels, or anything of the sort. Well, money. Always money.

Please don’t make me talk about this movie anymore, it’s killing me. If you’re going to the theater this weekend see “The Avengers” or “Men in Black III.” Better yet, see Wes Anderson’sMoonrise Kingdom” if you have the opportunity. Please don’t waste your time or money on these new releases.

  

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Box Office Preview: ‘Avengers’ and Something About a Hotel


The Avengers

As I discussed over at Real Men Read Comics, Marvel has been building towards this one for a long time. After a long wait and perhaps too many attempts to connect the dots, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the gang are coming together on the big screen.

I’ve actually got something nice to say about a new release, maybe even a few nice things. This is groundbreaking territory.

“The Avengers” was written and directed by Joss Whedon. This is the dude who brought us “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Firefly.” If you don’t know what “Firefly” is, you need to find out. It’s on Netflix instant, so go on, get. I’ll even give you the link. Like his projects, Whedon has built up quite the cult following over the years. And, as if all that wasn’t enough, he co-wrote “Toy Story,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar. That’s right folks, motherfucking “Toy Story.”

“The Avengers” has all most of the stars of the individual films back in their roles. We’ve got Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and most importantly, Robert Downey Jr. in his perfectly sardonic portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Now, Mark Ruffalo may have replaced Eric Bana, er, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, but that’s probably a good thing. If you’re sick of all these different Bruce Banners flying your way, don’t worry, Ruffalo recently signed a six-picture deal to play The Hulk.

Let’s not forget about the supporting cast, rounding out the team are Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. But wait, there’s more, Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role from “Thor” as Loki, the film’s main villain. Hiddleston also played a brilliant F. Scott Fitzgerald in “Midnight in Paris.”

One of the ways you know a superhero movie, is great is when the dialogue is better than the action sequences. This is what we got in “Iron Man,” when oftentimes Tony Stark was more gripping with his super suit off than on. You should expect no less from Whedon, and according to Bullz-eye’s David Medsker, the Joss has delievered:

Once Whedon gets the cast in the same room and gives them the chance to interact as people rather than superheroes, the movie blossoms in a strangely wonderful way, one where it’s easy to wish that they would keep talking, rather than ramping up for the butt-kicking that is just around the corner. Indeed, until the climactic battle sequence, the action plays second fiddle to the talking, and as odd as that sounds for a superhero movie, it’s the right call.

If all this wasn’t enough, “The Avengers” has been certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at a 93 on the Tomatometer. For once, I’m actually excited.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The only other film getting a wide release this weekend is “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Believe it or not, John Madden was actually able to direct a film that doesn’t star Brett Favre. Hold on. I’m getting word that it’s a different John Madden, the “Shakespeare in Love” John Madden. Oh, well things make more sense now.

Kidding aside, this is a film about a group of British seniors, including Academy Award-winners Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who decide to “outsource” their retirement to cheaper and seemingly exotic India. When they get there, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel doesn’t look quite as it did in the brochures so both hilarity and drama ensue. The film also stars Penelope Winton, whose interactions with Maggie Smith in “Downton Abbey” are fantastic, so hopefully we get some of that here.

There’s a reason no other movies are being released this weekend, studios were scared of “The Avengers,” and rightly so. But it’s pretty clear that “Hotel” is “The Avengers'” antithesis, and so too is its target audience. That said, with its award-winning cast and 78 rating on the Tomatometer, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” seems to be well worth seeing in its own right.

  

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No fooling, it’s Thor’s-day at the movies

I don’t usually do these kind of posts on Thursdays, and it’s April Fools’ Day. However, there’s simply too much apparently non-joking, actual movie news to leave for Friday. So, here we go.

* Of course, in Hollywood, it’s not always easy to spot the April Fool’s story from the real thing. That’s why IESB frontloads their big possible, eventual scoop today with all sorts of promises that they’re not joking. Anyhow, it appears that #1 cult creator Joss Whedon, most recently of “Dollhouse” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” fame, is supposedly on the short list to direct “The Avengers,” currently being penned by Zak Penn.

avengers

If you’re skeptical about this, you’re far from alone. Just check out the slightly quizzical reaction from Whedon’s robotic and slavishly devoted cult — of which I am a known member — over at Whedonesque. (I’ve even forgiven Whedon for listening too much to Rahm Emmanuel and selling out to big pharma and not fighting hard enough to keep the public option in the health care bill….Oh, wait, wrong blog.) Still, Whedon’s known for staying in touch with his fans. I strongly suspect that, if the story were completely unfounded, he’d have posted something about it by now.

One creative point. Some fans seem skeptical that a collaboration between Penn and Whedon could work. Well, of course, Whedon has actually done any number of rewrites and polishes on other people’s scripts — a lot of folks give him credit for most of the wittier portions of “Speed” — and though Penn has been involved with some pretty conventionally dull flicks in his day, he’s not completely lacking imagination and humor. His little seen 2004 comedy-thriller mock-documentary, “Incident at Loch Ness,” has some remarkably hilarious moments,  most of them courtesy of Werner Herzog, playing himself and also taking a cowriting credit. If Penn’s good enough for Herr Herzog, he’s perhaps good enough for Joss Whedon.

* Speaking of “The Avengers,” the movie about the only actual deity in the group, “Thor,” is currently in production and director Kenneth Branagh talked about the film and his affection for the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/et al comic books in today’s L.A. Times. This was not some random publicity glad-handing but a deliberate effort to squelch some unpleasant — and, to my ear, unlikely — rumors being reported in the tabloid press which allege open on-set criticism/anger directed at newcomer-lead Chris Hemsworth from venerable master thespian Anthony Hopkins, presumably relating to the 26 year-old star’s relative lack of experience, at least compared to Hopkins.  Hopkins, who’ll be playing Thor’s even more venerable dad, Odin, and Branagh have strongly denied the rumors and painted a picture of a happy set.

I was fairly impressed with Hemsworth’s work in the opening of “Star Trek,” so I tend to lean towards the official story here. He’s also a veteran of an Aussie soap, “Home and Away,” and history teaches us that soap vets tend to become pretty good actors when actually allowed time to learn their lines properly and develop characters. I don’t know much about Hopkins on a personal level except that he’s gotten this far in his career without these kind of incidents being an issue that I can think of. I suspect it would take a titanic lack of talent/ability to visibly annoy him at this point.

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A Chat with Antonio Elias

Can you imagine being an actor who’s worked in TV for the past few years and, when you finally score your first movie gig, it’s “Star Trek”? Nice work if you can get it, as the song says, and Antonio Elias – who plays one of the officers of the Kelvin in the opening sequence of the film – will be the first to tell you that the work was very nice, indeed. We chatted with Elias about how he got into the acting game, got the story on how close he came to picking up a series-regular gig with Dylan McDermott a few years ago, found out a bit more about how “Star Trek” originally would have opened, and learned about his next film, “Spoken Word.”

Stay tuned for…

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