Box Office Preview: ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Madagascar 3’

Prometheus

“Prometheus” is the story of a team of explorers who “discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth.” Which makes sense because I feel like I’ve been hearing about it since the dawn of man. This is one of my biggest problems with the Hollywood hype machine, even when a movie is (supposedly) good, I start to hate it before it even comes out simply because I’m sick to death of hearing about it. Anyway before I get too off topic, the rest of the synopsis is that the clue leads the explorers “on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”

If we read between the lines a bit, what we get is this: Ridley Scott (the man who gave us “Alien” and “Blade Runner” returns to sci-fi, which is probably a good thing. In fact, “Prometheus” was originally intended to be an “Alien” prequel. Luckily, that notion was abandoned, because prequels suck. Instead, Scott says the film shares “strands of “Alien’s” DNA” and takes place in the universe but creates and explores its own mythology.

Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof (of “Lost” fame) wrote the film, and its stars include Noomi Rapace (the original “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series), Michael Fassbender (the British dude who fucked up three in “Inglorious Basterds“), Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Idris Elba. “Prometheus” has been certified fresh and stands at a 74 on the Tomatometer, so check it out if your a fan of the genre or any of those involved.

Madagascar 3

It’s the second sequel to an animated children’s movie. It still stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith as a lion, zebra, giraffe, and hippopotamus, respectively. And they’re all still trying to return to blissful captivity in a New York zoo after being shipwrecked in Madagascar and a host of other misadventures. So if you’re the kind of person who a) thinks animated films are only for children or b) enjoys the unexpected at the theater, “Madagascar 3” isn’t for you, right? Let’s ask Bullz-eye’s David Medsker:

A culture change is clearly taking place at DreamWorks Animation. After spending years making films that made lots of money but had no soul, the studio slowly but surely began making smarter films and, for the first time ever, one of their films outclassed a Pixar movie released in the same year (“Kung Fu Panda 2” vs. “Cars 2”). The first two films in the “Madagascar” franchise were definitely products of the old regime; there was lots of busyness, but little to sink one’s teeth into. When grown-ups dismiss animated films as kid’s movies, it’s movies like “Madagascar” and its sequel that they’re referring to.

Aw, rats… But wait, there’s more:

Which is what makes “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” such a pleasant surprise. For starters, the movie is batshit crazy… It is so ridiculous that it becomes sublime.

See what I did there? A little preview switcheroo for ya. Medsker seems to believe there’s a changing of the guard going on over at Dreamworks, and the rest of the movie reviewing establishment seems to agree. “Madagascar 3” is at a 75 percent on the Tomatometer, and Lisa Kennedy of the Denver Post (who gave the film three and a half out of four stars) wrote: “From time to time the improbable occurs: A sequel outdoes its original.”

I think my sheer hatred of all thinks sequel is giving me an ulcer, perhaps “Madagascar 3” will make me (and those like me) just a little less cynical. Alright, let’s not get crazy here, probably not, but Madagascar 3 just might be one of those exceptions that proves the rule.

  

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Mubarak ho, Mr. “Robot”-o

Though there’s been some bombshell television news today, it’s been a blissfully slow news 48 hours regarding the movie world. True, Mike Fleming had a couple of scoops yesterday. His short list of possible “Superman” directors is fun — I’ll take Duncan Jones please, though Matt Reeves would be okay, too.  Also, though I remain impressed by her work, having just seen another terrific performance by Chloe Moretz at a screening last night of “Let Me In,” the fact that she’s got another nice gig as “Emily the Strange” is interesting but not exactly earth shattering. So, I’ll forgo the end-of-week movie news dump.

Instead, we’ll spotlight what have to be the trailers of the day, if not the week. According to Anne Thompson, it apparently started from a tweet by the very busy former “Lost” showrunner Damon Lindelof, who’s heading to India and will be checking out what has to be one of the most lavish Bollywood films ever in terms of effects. It’s a superheroic science fiction tale involving, well, a robot, a giant snake thing, an enormous number of guns, and, of course, big time musical numbers! Here’s the short trailer and some brief TV spots Thompson ran.

Also, just about the time Thompson put up her post, I was alerted by friend-of-the-blog-and-blogger Randy R. to a another, slightly more musical comedy oriented trailer that was running on the site of Ms. Thompson’s comics counterpart, Heidi MacDonald.

Gotta love Bollywood: something for everyone.

Just for the record, “Robot” is directed by Shankar (though it’s such a common name I’m not 100% sure if this is the same Shankar who crafted the hugely popular  “3 Idiots,” though it seems like a reasonable bet) and stars Aishwarya Rai and Rajnikanth who I gather is known as simply Rajni and is a superstar. The music is by A.R. Rahman who is easily the best known composer of Bollywood music here in the West for his terrific work on “Lagaan” and also as the double-Oscar winning composer of the music for “Slumdog Millionaire.”

  

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Lost: Season Six – A Preview to the Beginning of the End

lost_preview

Just as it became a pop culture phenomenon during its first season, “Lost” will once again be on everyone’s radar as the island drama builds toward its inevitable end with the Season 6 premiere on February 2nd. Though Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof have done an incredible job over the years of juggling all the different storylines and mysteries, it’s asking a lot to think that they’ll be able to end the show without criticism from some of its fans. With that said, however, I cannot wait to see what they’ve cooked up for the show’s sixth season, because after last year’s head-scratcher of a finale, there’s plenty at stake.

The biggest question of all revolves around Jughead. Did Juliet succeed in detonating the hydrogen bomb, and if so, will it really reset time like Faraday led Jack to believe? Early indicators certainly point to that being the case, with several former cast members returning for an unspecified amount of episodes. This includes everyone from minor players like Charlotte (Rebecca Mader), Libby (Cynthia Watros) and Boone (Ian Somerhalder), to more influential characters like Faraday (Jeremy Davies), Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), Michael (Harold Perrineau) and, of course, Charlie (Dominic Monaghan). No word yet on whether Mr. Eko, Ana-Lucia, Shannon or Walt will also find their way back into the “Lost” universe, but rumor is that Cuse and Lindelof are bringing back everyone they possibly can, and that extends to many of the supporting characters as well.

Of course, there’s also a chance that Juliet hasn’t changed the past, but merely created an alternate reality that branches off the one we know. Don’t forget, “whatever happened, happened,” so no matter what may have sprouted as a result of Jughead’s detonation, that particular timeline will always exist. Granted, even if we are treated to a look at how the survivors’ lives would have turned out if Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed, you can be sure that we’ll still be seeing plenty of the island throughout the season. There’s no way the Losties are done just yet, because there are still a number of questions left unanswered, such as…

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TCA Tour: Lost

Let us begin our coverage of ABC’s “Lost” panel by giving all due props to Jonathan Storm, TV critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who kicked things off with the following statement: “Hello, I’d like to ask each one of you to tell exactly what happens in the final season.”

Nice try, Mr. Storm.

Fortunately, Storm had a back-up question ready to ask of the panel – which consisted of Emilie de Ravin (Claire), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Evangeline Lilly (Kate), executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Michael Emerson (Ben), and Jorge Garcia (Hurley) – once the laughter stopped: how are you feeling as this comes to an end?

“As we were walking out onto the stage and this montage was playing, I was whispering to my cast members, ‘I am going to cry like a baby when this show ends,'” said Lilly. “It’s become so nostalgic for us to look back over six years and have grown up together and grown up in front of all of you together. It’s been so intense that for it to come to an end is going to be life-changing.”

Garcia instantly agreed. “Certain places that we shoot, it’s, like, ‘Wow, I haven’t been here since season three,'” he said. “Right now, it’s very appreciative and precious.”

“There’s a lot of camaraderie on set now,” acknowledged Holloway. “It feels…a lot of magic, like the first season. It was an incredibly magical year, and the whole experience, of course, has been incredible, but this last year, everyone’s really getting that sense of camaraderie and nostalgia, and it’s just been fabulous.”

“You know, personally, I’m just feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude,” said Lindelof, “and the idea that we’re getting to end something while anybody still cares and while we still kind of love each other, as opposed to everybody saying, ‘It’s about time.’ This is sort of a once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-career experience, for a show that’s still performing, for the network to allow us to end it, is a tremendous gift. As Evangeline was saying, as I was walking onto the stage, I was sort of experiencing a sense of, ‘I can’t believe they’re going to actually let us get away with this.'”

When asked how long the conclusion of “Lost” had been determined, Cuse acknowledged that there really wasn’t a definitive answer to that question. “We came up with the final image of the show a long time ago back when we were first plotting out the mythology in the first season, then we started adding elements to that as we went along…and, really, between the first and the second season is when we cooked the mythology,” he said. “We kind of knew what the end point was, but as you move towards the end point, you add elements. Obviously, the end is not yet written, and there are certain sort of mythological, architectural elements that are intact for that ending, but a lot of character stuff will get worked out as we go along. I mean, that’s part of the discovery process of writing. For instance, Michael Emerson wasn’t on the show at that point. It’s a fun process because we sort of have a concept of where we’re going to end the show, but there is still the process of actually executing it and there still is the process of discovery, particularly on a character level, that will come into play as we finish the show.”

“So if you guys have any ideas,” said Lindelof, “we’re open-minded.”

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2009: A Year’s Worth of Interviews – The Top 100 Quotes

Some people think that the life of a work-at-home entertainment writer is one of the most lax jobs out there, since the perception is generally is that all you do is sit around and watch DVDs, occasionally venture out of the house to see movies or concerts, and then sit in front of the computer and write about them. Okay, it’s a fair cop. But when you throw interviews into the mix, there’s a bit more work involved. First, you’ve got to get the interview (they aren’t always handed to you on a silver platter), then you’ve got to do the research to make sure that you can ask some halfway knowledgeable questions, and after you conduct the interview, let’s not forget that you’ve got to transcribe it, too. In other words, yes, there really is work involved…and when I went back and discovered that I’d done well over 130 interviews during the course of 2009, I suddenly realized why I’m so tired all the time.

For your reading enjoyment, I’ve pulled together a list of 100 of my favorite quotes from the various interviews I conducted for Premium Hollywood, Bullz-Eye, Popdose, and The Virginian-Pilot this year, along with the links to the original pieces where available. As you can see, I had some extremely interesting conversations in 2009. Let us all keep our fingers crossed that I’m able to chat with just as many fascinating individuals in 2010…

1. Pamela Adlon: “In the first season (of ‘Californication’), when we had the threesome with the nipple clamps, I was, like, ‘I don’t get this, I don’t know how you’re gonna do it.’ And then, all of a sudden, there’s a crane with a camera hanging over our heads, and you’re, like, ‘Okayyyyyyy. But how are you gonna sell this? How are you gonna make it work?’ And they ended up shooting it brilliantly, cutting it together, and it just all ended up working without me having to compromise my own personal morals.”

2. Jonathan Ames: “After my first novel, my mother said to me, ‘Why don’t you make your writing more funny? You’re so funny in person.’ Because my first novel was rather dark. And I don’t know, but something about what she said was true. ‘Yes, why don’t I?’ Maybe I was afraid to be funny in the writing. But since then, seven books later, almost everything I’ve done has a comedic edge to it.”

3. Ed Asner: “I loved journalism until the day my journalism teacher, a man I revered, came by my desk and said, ‘Are you planning on going into journalism?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘I wouldn’t.’ I said, ‘Well, why not?’ He said, ‘You can’t make a living.’”

4. Sean Astin: “When somebody brings up a movie (of mine) that I haven’t heard about in a long time, I feel like a 70-year-old pitcher at a bar somewhere, and somebody walks in and says, ‘Oh, my God, I was in St. Louis and I saw you. You pitched a shutout.’ It’s real. I really did do that, because someone today remembers it.”

5. Darryl Bell: “The legend of ‘Homeboys in Outer Space’ has become much more incendiary than the actual show. It’s funny how I usually challenge most people who talk about how much they disliked ‘Homeboys’ to name me five episodes. Most of them can’t, because they just bought into the ‘oh, it’s awful, just the title. Oh, it’s terrible.’ What’s interesting is that I had a great conversation with Chi McBride, who was doing ‘The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer,’ which, if you want to talk about in terms of the imagery of what was wrong, that show was much more infamous than ‘Homeboys.’ Yet it’s not remembered in the same way because the title didn’t grab you in the same way. I remember Chi pulled me aside and he was, like, ‘Look, everyone who is criticizing what you’re doing would take your job from you in two seconds. All of them. So all I can tell you is that this is one blip on both of our careers, and we are moving on.’”

6. Adam Campbell: “For some reason, people always pick on the British sensibility, and we always come across as stupid, but remember: we used to run this country!”

7. Nestor Carbonell: “Let me make this perfectly clear: I do not wear make-up, and I do not wear eye-liner. This is something I’ve had to deal with my whole life. I remember I was in college in Boston, I had a commercial agent, and they sent me out for some print commercial stuff. And they called me into the office and said, ‘Look, we called you in to talk to you because we just want you to know that…well, we don’t think you need to wear eyeliner.’ And I’m, like, ‘What?’ ‘Yeah, it’s okay, you don’t have to wear it for print ads.’ ‘No, I’m not wearing eyeliner!’ And I kept dabbing my eyes and saying, ‘Look! No eyeliner! I’m not wearing any!’”

8. Elaine Cassidy: “The last two days of shooting (‘Harper’s Island’) was probably the most hardcore, the coldest anyone has ever been. It was like your head was freezing, and my motivation for most scenes was, ‘The minute this scene is over, I’m heading straight over to that heater to get warm.’”

9. Chris Cornell: “I started as a drummer, so I sort of took on singing duties by default. I had sung backgrounds and some lead vocals from behind the drums in different bands that I’d been in, and I’d gotten great responses for the songs I would sing. I really started pursuing the possibility of being a lead singer based on the fact that I was working a full-time restaurant job and then playing gigs at night, hauling drums around. One day, it just dawned on me that, ‘Hey, I could be in a band and be the singer, and it would be a lot easier!’”

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