G.I. Joe: Resolute

Now that everyone’s had the chance to see it for themselves, it’s probably safe to say that “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” was a bit of a disappointment. If there’s any good that came out of the summer blockbuster, however, it’s “G.I. Joe: Resolute,” the online animated series produced in conjunction with the film’s theatrical release. Written by comic legend Warren Ellis, “Resolute” takes a decidedly more mature approach with the “G.I. Joe” franchise in both story and tone. The set-up is still the same – Cobra Commander has stolen some kind of top-secret device and the Joes have to stop him before he uses it to take over the world – but it doesn’t feel nearly as cheesy as usual. There’s also a cool subplot involving Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow that dives into their backstory, while all of the usual suspects make some kind of appearance. It would have made for a great TV pilot if so many major characters didn’t die, but although it’s something that most fans would probably enjoy, “G.I. Joe: Resolute” is simply too short to warrant its $13 price tag. Paramount would have been better off including this on the recent DVD release of “The Rise of Cobra,” because then at least there’d be something worth watching on the disc.

Click to buy “G.I. Joe: Resolute”

  

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Superheroes and megabucks

Just another day in movietown.

* Sony has signed James Vanderbilt, who wrote the first draft of “Spiderman 4” (now twice rewritten), to pen an additional two Spidey screenplays. Writer Michael Fleming speculates that the studio wants to speed up production as the S-man is their most reliable vehicle and a Julie Taymor’s Broadway musical with music by Bono and the Edge, is in fairly deep financial doo-doo long before opening night. (Of course, there is another way Sony could make money — come up with something new…nah.) Vanderbilt, by the way, is also the writer behind Brian Fincher’s cinephile favorite, “Zodiac.”

I personally wonder if Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Sam Raimi have much interest in doing any more films after the next one, which I suspect is a bit of a Mulligan for the sporadically entertaining and occasionally embarrassing mess that was the last Spiderman film. Also, Maguire is older than he looks (34 as of last June), and time is running out. A forty-something actor might work for Iron Man, but for Spidey, it’s kind of another story.

* Speaking of young superheroes, or in this case super anti-heroes, Variety tells us that Lionsgate has purchased the domestic rights to Matthew Vaughn’s comic-book adaptation “Kick-Ass,” with a cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Anne Thompson is very much on board and notes the strategy of indies using Comic-Con to get distribution. She also has a video from the con which doesn’t want to play properly on my computer. In addition, those who understand finances better than I might be able to draw something kind of line between and this Nikki Finke item having to do with the sale of some stock by Lionsgate Bigwig Joe Drake.

* Ignoring my fervent prayers, “G.I. Joe” is doing very well abroad. At least people who complain about the dumbing down of America will have to realize it’s not just us. Misery loves company.

  

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Box office victory for “G.I. Joe”; “Julie and Julia” attracts many ladies of a certain age

Not a lot of big surprises at this weekend’s box office. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” apparently did even better than some expected in the “flyover” or “heartland” areas (this is supposedly where “real Americans live,” which is nice to know as a coastal fictitious American). As per the trades, it made an estimated $56.2 million this weekend, several million better than $45-50 million number I repeated last time.

For those of us (me!) seeking a cloud in Paramount’s silver lining, Nikki Finke does offer that the studio actually predicted a round $60 million earlier and that the film’s $175 million budget is just a tad on the high side. (That’s a minimum of 17 smallish budget studio films that could have been made for the same price tag.)

Finke has some doubts that the movie will hit $300 million or be profitable all on its own, though merchandising here is obviously a possible financial bonanza for toy maker Hasbro. She also has some doubts about the foreign market in light of sentiment abroad opposed to U.S. militarism. It might be tempting to say then, that Barack Obama is the best friend Paramount has here, but Finke points out that “G.I. Joe” came in at #2 in Australia, once the third most enthusiastic member of “the coalition of the willing” under Bush-esque rightwinger John Howard. She also expects it to be blown out of the water by the apparently entirely non-brainless “District 9” next weekend. I never thought I’d say this, but from Nikki Finke’s mouth to God’s ears.

Meryl Streep and Stanley TucciMeanwhile, the culinographic “Julie and Julia” also performed pretty much precisely according to expectation and pulled in a satisfactorily satiating estimate of $20.1. According to a “rival exec” Finke quotes, the dual memoir dramedy had one of the oldest demographics he or she had ever seen, which I guess makes sense considering you have to be over a certain age to have watched Julia Child regularly on television. Finke also says the audience was almost exclusively female, despite the fact that we all like food that tastes good. In any case, those whose dating preferences includes middle-aged and older women now know their next film-going destination.

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One born every minute

Let’s face it, the movie business is all about roping in the suckers, but I mean that in the nicest possible way.

* Several Comic-Cons ago, a rumor was about that Marvel was going to stop publishing comic books entirely and concentrate strictly on making movies and generally just marketing the hell out of their characters. This struck me as patently absurd because, even if the tail is wagging the dog, you still need the dog. Nevertheless, fiscally speaking at least, Marvel’s waggable rear is definitely stronger than its canine according to Variety‘s Marc Graser:

….Licensing is expected to generate the most coin for the company during the year, with up to $215 million, followed by movies and TV shows at up to $150 million, and comic books with $120 million.

* “G.I Joe” is a chicken-hearted pantywaist when it comes to critics. It’s kind of funny because “Team America” got really good reviews overall and from all appearances this is pretty much exactly the same movie.

* Why is Anne Thompson so much cooler than other film journos? We’ll, she’ll go to see Bollywood movies in unfashionable Artesia, relatively close to my highly uncool zip code, for starters. She also has three great trailers, including one for the Coen Brother’s next film. “The rabbi is busy.”

* Apparently piggybacking somewhat on his Oscar night success, Hugh Jackman is going to star in “an original contemporary musical” for Fox based on the life of P.T. Barnum, the circus impresario perhaps most famous today for opining that a sucker is born every minute. (I’d go for each second, myself.) I’m not sure what they mean by “contemporary” given that Phineas T. Barnum died in 1891, but I take it that “original” is meant to differentiate the film from the 1980 Broadway musical which starred Jim Dale and Glenn Close. Apparently Anne Hathaway, who had also had a bit of success in the Oscar’s opening number, will be joining him as singer Jenny Lind (and there’s talk of a new version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Carousel” also to pair Jackman with Hathaway).

The music will be by some guy named Mika, who I had never heard of until just now but whose opera background and overall approach reminds me of a more classic R&B/funk and T-Rex/Bowie influenced Rupert Wainwright. After watching the video below, I’m largely sold though I hope he tries to avoid anything too obviously anachronistic. (I’m not sure Barnum should be getting funky on us, though I love the funk.) The high quality of the music and Mika’s way around various types of retro sounds makes me think he might be just right for the project. Also, naming your song “Grace Kelly” won’t ever hurt your standing with me.


Mika – Grace Kelly
by SamFisher037
  

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G.I. Joe: Season 1.1

“He’ll fight for freedom wherever there is trouble, G.I. Joe is there!” And now, thanks to the fine folks at Shout! Factory (no doubt inspired by the upcoming film), the classic 1980s animated series has been re-released on DVD. For those who might not remember, G.I. Joe is a team of highly-trained soldiers assigned to defend the world against a terrorist organization known as Cobra. The good guys were comprised of Duke, Flint, Scarlett and Snake Eyes (as well as a host of other interchangeable Joes), while the baddies included Cobra Commander, Destro, The Baroness and Zartan. The characters themselves are probably more memorable than the actual show (you can thank Hasbro’s long line of action figures for that), but even though most of the episodes don’t stand out, they’re still entertaining – especially when compared to the junk on TV nowadays.

It’s not very often that a childhood favorite retains the appeal it did when you were younger, but “G.I. Joe” fairs much better because, with the exception of characters with stupid codenames like Snow Job, Barbeque and Beach Head, the series was essentially one big action movie that just happened to be animated. In fact, it even debuted with three annual miniseries (“The M.A.S.S. Device,” “The Revenge of Cobra” and “The Pyramid of Darkness,” all collected here) before going into syndication as a weekly cartoon. The first seven episodes of Season One have also been included in the four-disc set, while an interview with writer Rob Friedman and a handful of “Knowing is Half the Battle” PSAs highlight the modest collection of bonus features. Diehard fans will still be better off waiting for the Complete Collector’s Set due out later this month, but for those that would rather test the waters and see if “G.I. Joe” is just as great as they remember it, Season 1.1 is the perfect way to help jolt your memory.

Click to buy “G.I. Joe: Season 1.1”

  

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