Remakes are in the movie news as usual. There’s not much more to say than a new iteration of John Woo’s classic international breakthrough, “The Killer,” and the fun but entirely non-classic caper flick “Gambit” are on the way.
The news on the latter is that this time the players are, in a switch from usual remake practice, a bit more mature than in the original. Cameron Diaz, who really needs to shine in something, and habitual award nominee Colin Firth, who’s doing just fine, will star. The twisty-turny tale is going forward with a years-old screenplay by the Coen Brothers, no less.
The setting has also been switched from Hong Kong to Texas and everyone will presumably be playing more or less their own ethnicity. The original had the very Anglo Shirley MacLaine playing a Eurasian woman of mystery and even more Anglo, as in actually British, character actor Herbert Lom as an Indian gazillionaire; Michael Caine who gets mentioned here on what seems like a daily basis, actually played an Englishman in it.
Regarding “The Killer,” before you Woo fans (and I’m certainly one) decry a crime against cinema, be aware that Woo himself is producing with his usual partner, Terrance Chang. Korean superstar Jung-Woo Sung will be making his English language debut with Korean-American helmer John H. Lee (the Korean-language love story, “A Moment to Remember”) directing and a screenplay by the previously unknown Josh Campbell. Oh, it’ll be in 3D.
I’ve written many times that I think complaints about remakes of classics are somewhat silly. If they’re bad or mediocre, they’ll be quickly forgotten. If they’re good, someone will complain about the remake of that one. Regardless, the originals aren’t going away any time soon. Below the flip are two samples of those originals. Try to see them both before the new versions come out for maximum compare-and-contrast fun.
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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?
* 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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A sprained ankle and other unexciting matters sidelined me yestereday, but now I can use my imposed semi-immobility for bloggy purposes.
* THR is claiming an exclusive that a date has finally been set for the two-part Peter Jackson/Guillermo del Toro collaboration, “The Hobbit.” (That’s with an assist from the late J.R.R. Tolkien, of course.) There was some apparent confusion earlier in the day, but it now looks like the two films will be released in Christmas of 2012 and 2013. That’s a year off from the original plan for the LOTR follow-up/prequel (though LOTR is technically the sequel here). Though this article doesn’t mention it, at least part of the problem was widely supposed to be the decline and fall of MGM.
* I’m not at all sure how the “poison pill” actually works but it appears that a decision by authorities up in British Columbia — which is, like, part of an entirely different country than ours and everything — will make it easier for Carl Icahn to attempt his hostile takeover of Lionsgate.
* Does anybody really want a “Clash of the Titans” sequel? Well, we’re getting one anyhow.
* Bill Murray is apparently bound and determined to be the proverbial turd in the “Ghostbusters 3” punchbowl. It wasn’t a punch I had my heart set on, in any case, much as I liked the first one.
* Just the day before yesterday I was part of a press round-table with the affable, stylish French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie,” “City of Lost Children”). Someone brought up his adapatation of the acclaimed, fantastical Booker Prize-winning novel, The Life of Pi, a project which the vagaries of movie-making had apparently forced him to give up on. Today, Anne Thompson brings word that it appears that the project has been picked up by another strong directorial hand, Ang Lee. And, guess what, it’ll be 3-D. Lee’s one of the movies’ great humanists still working, so I’m sure the film won’t be overwhelmed by effects.
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My highly esteemed colleague Will Harris has been right on top of the huge small screen stories that seem to be breaking right and left at the TCA conference this week. Still, it’s not like there hasn’t been any news in movieland. It’s almost hard to know where to start.
* The Hollywood Reporter as well as Nikki Finke and new stablemate Mike Fleming (more on that below) are carrying the news that, in the wake of ongoing script problems, the kibosh has been put on Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman IV” with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and a 2012 reboot, written by James Vanderbilt (“Zodiac“) announced. The new film will feature a once-again teenage Peter Parker, so Taylor Lautner is no doubt already in touch with his agent.
THR says the script problems had something to do with a disagreement over supervillains between Raimi and Sony and/or Marvel Studios. Finke also notes that the fourth installment would probably not have been in 3-D and it seems reasonable that that might have been a factor, given the current mania for the process.
* In another apparent scoop for new Deadline team member Mike Fleming, Tom Hanks is returning as a writer-director for the second time since making his 1996 charmer, “That Thing You Do!” A comedy, “Larry Crowne” will reteam him with his “Charlie Wilson’s War” co-star, Julia Roberts. Like “Up in the Air,” according to Fleming it’s somewhat topical in that’s it’s about a middle-aged guy forced to reinvent his career at a time when past generations where just starting to settle down.
While he’s at it, Fleming also has the word on Shia LaBeouf not going agentless after all and signing with CAA. Agents around the world can all breathe easier now.
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The second volume of Marvel’s new “X-Men” animated series may contain a few more episodes than the last DVD, but that doesn’t change the simple fact that anyone who wants to invest in the series will end up spending nearly twice as much as they would on a normal season release. I mention this not as a disgruntled fanboy, but as someone who believes that the show deserves much better. Like me, you probably had your doubts at first, but “Wolverine and the X-Men” is quickly shaping up to be just as good as (if not better than) the popular 90s cartoon. “Deadly Enemies” doesn’t feature an overarching story like the previous volume, but instead offers up five standalone episodes that longtime fans will appreciate. We probably didn’t need another Wolverine vs. Hulk match-up so soon after the release of the DVD movie, but we do get a cool Wolverine/Gambit team-up episode (“Thieves’ Gambit”), a story dedicated exclusively to Nightcrawler (“X-Calibre”), and the debut of fan favorite, Psylocke. If there’s one thing writers Craig Kyle, Greg Johnson and Chris Yost know, it’s how to please the fans with mutant cameos galore. Now if only we could enjoy them on DVD without having to worry about going broke.
Click to buy “Wolverine and the X-Men: Deadly Enemies”