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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It’s quite possibly the last end of the week movie news dump of 2010!

Things are supposed to quiet down as far as big movie news is concerned for the next couple of weeks, so enjoy these little draps and drabs of movie news from the last week while you can…

* It’s not quite on the level of finding a mysterious monolith on the moon but it comes close. AICN has it that EFX pioneer genius Douglas Trumbull has said that 17 minutes of lost outtakes from Stanley Kubrick‘s “2001: A Space Odyssey” have been found in a salt mine in Kansas. It’s important to remember this story, such as it is, originates from a message board and perhaps isn’t the best sourced item to ever hit the ‘nets. But what better place to store outtakes than a salt mine in Kansas? A pepper mill in Encino?

monolith

* Since the story’s been out since the beginning of the week, by now you’ve no doubt heard the news that Jon Favreau has walked away from “Iron Man 3” in what we’re being assured was an entirely amicable split motivated primarily by his desire to make the Disneyland themed “Magic Kingdom.” As a lifelong Southern Californian and a current resident in good standing of the city of Anaheim, I love the Happiest Place on Earth as much as the next guy. However, as the premise for a movie, I’m hugely skeptical and wondering just what it is that is getting people of the caliber of Favreau and Guillermo del Toro on board with this these theme-parked based projects. (I’m much less skeptical of the Fincher “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” because, well, it’s based on a beloved book of my childhood as well as a pretty cool Disney flick, not a ride.)

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Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2010 Summer Press Tour Wrap-Up: From the Big Bang to the Jersey Shore

He’s back.

That’s right, the summer 2010 press tour of the Television Critics Association – that’s TCA to you, see? – has come and gone, leaving in its wake a piece that I love to compile but hate to finish. It’s just that kind of experience: there’s always something else to write about.

I know I say this every time, so you’d think my mindset on the tour would’ve changed by now, but I still continue to get excited when I fly to California and spend the better part of two weeks ensconced in a hotel, watching and listening as closely as possible (which, admittedly, isn’t often as closely as I’d like) to various stars, directors, producers, and writers as they do a dog and pony show to promote their program. I know they get sick of it sometimes, but for my part, I still haven’t. I spend the better part of 48 weeks of the year in Chesapeake, VA, a place where I do not regularly cross paths with the people that you see on your TV screen. As such, I remain excited about the opportunity to participate in these ridiculously cool opportunities, and I still feel like I have to share the experience with you, the reader, lest they begin to seem normal to me.

It’s not normal.

It’s the TCA press tour.

And trust me, unless you’re actually in show business, life doesn’t get much less normal than this.

Most entertaining panel by a broadcast network: “Circus,” PBS. Given the subject matter of the series – yes, it really is about the circus, specifically what it’s like to be part of a traveling circus in 2010 – it wasn’t entirely surprising that the panel kicked off with acrobat Christian Stoinev demonstrating some of his gymnastic abilities, but that didn’t make his performance any less impressive.

Plus, he earned bonus points for incorporating a cute little dog named Scooby into the act, who jumped onto Stoinev’s butt, strolled down his back, sat on his feet, and looked as calm as possible as Stoinev balanced semi-precariously on his parallel bars.

Most entertaining panel by a cable network: “Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town,” IFC. When I walked into the ballroom and found that we’d all received autographed DVDs of the Kids’ latest endeavor, I thought, “Can it get any better than this?” (I’m a sucker for anything autographed.) Indeed, it could, as the Kids – minus Mark McKinney, who’d been called back to Canada because of a family emergency – held court and kept us in stitches.

Some of my favorite moments:

QUESTION: How long had it been since you had cross-dressed professionally before (“Death Comes to Town”), and was that sort of a difficult readjustment for any of you?
SCOTT THOMPSON: Define “professionally.”
QUESTION: With a large crew.
SCOTT THOMPSON: Oh.
DAVE FOLEY: Not just any exchange of money.
BRUCE McCULLOCH: So if you shoot porn with a small crew, that wouldn’t count…?
KEVIN McDONALD: That’s not cross-dressing professionally.
DAVE FOLEY: Yeah. If you put on a nice shirt and give a handjob at the bus station, that still is professional.
SCOTT THOMPSON: Yes, it is.
BRUCE McCULLOCH: And by “handjob,” we mean “Bible reading,” as we like The Bible.

* Dave Foley on the audience response to Scott Thompson’s cancer being in remission: “I’m getting a sense that a lot of these people are on the cancer side. Well, I hope you are proud of yourselves. ‘Oh, dammit, not another one beating cancer. Poor cancer. When will people learn to love cancer?'”

* Scott Thompson: “I had a much easier time making (‘Death Comes to Town’), even though I was fighting cancer, than I did with ‘Brain Candy,’ honestly. It was tougher to fight Paramount. Because, at least with cancer, you can win.”

QUESTION: Do you find that people, when they see you, wanted to just squash your head? Because, like, I’m sitting here, like, resisting.
DAVE FOLEY: Yeah, a lot of time it has no reference to that gesture. It’s people actually want to crush our heads.
KEVIN McDONALD: The first apartment I ever moved to in Los Angeles, 1996, I was in bed the first night, and a couple were having a fight in the floor above me. And he was crying, “I’m going to crush your head,” and I thought they were fans, but it turned out they weren’t.
DAVE FOLEY: Yeah, it was a bloody homicide.
KEVIN McDONALD: It was a bloody homicide, yes.
DAVE FOLEY: But still, you felt flattered.
KEVIN McDONALD: But still, I felt flattered.

* When asked about their current relationship with Lorne Michaels, who introduced them to the U.S., McCulloch said, “I watch him get a haircut once a year when I go to ‘Saturday Night Live,'” while Foley claimed, “I chill his Amstel Light.” (“And drink it,” added McDonald.)

* Kevin McDonald made the bold choice of using the word “guff” at one point, receiving no end of ridicule from his fellow Kids. “It’s a tough word,” said McCulloch,”I know it’s tough to hear.” Thompson gasped and shrieked, “You said ‘guff‘!” Foley, however, offered a practical solution to the assembled journalists. “You can put asterisks in that. Just G-asterisk-asterisk-asterisk for your print,” he said, adding, “Of course, you online media people can just change it to ‘fuck.’”

* “Death Comes to Town” was filmed in North Bay, ON, but Foley said that it was a rarity for locals to come up and acknowledge their recognition of the Kids. “Canadians don’t do that,” explained Thompson. “Yeah,” agreed Foley. “They’d just come up and start talking to you like they knew you. You know, you would be in the grocery store, and somebody would just come up behind you and say, ‘Special K is marked down today. I’m getting the Special K as well. What are you doing later, Dave?’ And that was how you knew they recognized you.”

* The miniseries features Foley playing “the kindly old town abortionist,” which made it a bit difficult to scout for locations. Foley said that they had to keep making up stuff to tell the people of North Bay, saying things like, “Yeah, this scene, it’s a gynecologist’s office,” or “Oh, it’s an obstetrician’s office.” Or, as Scott Thompson claimed, “It’s a very bad day care.” At this, the crowd of critics erupted with a mixture of boos and laughs. “That was good,” Thompson assured us. “That was bad,” Foley assured him. At this, Thompson nodded, grinned, and admitted, “Very bad.”

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Entourage 6.4 – Runnin’ on E

I’m sure some people will look at the title of tonight’s episode and crack a joke about how “Entourage” isn’t as good as it used to be, but not every episode can be as good as the one from last week. There are bound to be shows of the filler variety every once and a while (it’s the nature of the series), just like Eric isn’t always going to be as busy as he’d like. Unfortunately, with Vince’s Ferrari movie pushed back 12 weeks due to pre-production troubles, not to mention Eric’s decision to pull out of producing duties on Charlie’s sitcom, the Murphy Group has become a dead zone. Vince suggests Eric join him on a trip to Paris, but he’d rather just hang around the office with Ashley, leaving Vince to sex up waitresses and surf the web (“How come you’re not on this Facebook thing?”) to keep busy. In the end, however, Eric decides to shut down the Murphy Group for good, and I must say that I’m a little disappointed. I hope that doesn’t mean Eric will stop managing altogether, because he’s easily the show’s most interesting character.

The other two guys didn’t have much to do this week, either. Turtle was stuck shopping for back-to-school clothes with Jamie-Lynn, while Drama spent the day auditioning girls (read: making out with hot models) for his character’s new love interest on “Five Towns.” What could have been a great subplot for Kevin Dillon, though, quickly turned into typical Drama shenanigans. Upset over the lack of talent in the pool of candidates, Drama demands they audition real actresses for the role, and even visits Ed Burns with the suggestion that they go after Natalie Portman or Rachel McAdams. I find it hard to believe that Drama is so stupid that he would expect the network to chase down A-list talent for a brief kissing scene, but he gets his wish nonetheless when he begs Turtle to convince Jamie-Lynn to do the role. Granted, Meadow Soprano is certainly no Natalie Portman or Rachel McAdams, but she’s definitely a step up in quality.

It’s not exactly the kind of stuff that will affect the overall arc of the season, though, so it’s a good thing that Jeremy Piven is still around to save the day. It may be the writers who are responsible for giving the actor such great material, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t knock it out of the park every time. Ari has grown so much as a character over the last two seasons, and now that he’s trying to run a successful business and be a good husband, father and friend, the stress is really starting to show. I don’t know how much longer Ari is going to be able to play babysitter to Andrew, and quite frankly, the subplot is beginning to show signs of wear.

For the time being, it seems like the affair really is over, but now that Andrew’s officially left his wife, will he just go running back to junior agent Lizzie? And just who exactly ended the affair in the first place? From the way Lizzie “manned up” to Ari and apologized to him in person, I have a strange feeling she was the one who pulled the plug. That would certainly make more sense, because Andrew nearly flipped out when David Schwimmer started flirting with her in the business meeting. Now, Ari has a big decision to make: side with his wife and get rid of Andrew before he makes an even bigger mess of his life, or keep his latest Employee of the Month around long enough to reel in one of television’s most admired creative forces. With Vince cruising along in his career again, he certainly has the time to make up his mind.

  

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