Next Bond?

The last instalment of James Bond, Skyfall, was nothing short of fantastic. The darker, more ominous Bond was something of real class, with Daniel Craig’s performance as the titular character being a masterclass in action hero acting. However, the Cheshire actor is now 46-years-old; he’ll be a year older when Bond 24 is released in 2015. It is no secret that the studio, MGM, will be starting to look for new Bonds, so who is in with a chance?

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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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Weekend box office: A crime caper, a demon (non) con, and some bulked up Na’vi head to the ‘plex

The good news is that it seems pretty clear that “Vampires Suck” will not be the #2 movie again this weekend. The not-quite-news is that, with the reign of “The Expendables” also almost certainly over, there is some real doubt about what will be #1 because of the special extended edition, all 3D, release of box office champion “Avatar” in over 800 theaters.

While Ben Fritz confesses to some actual confusion, jolly Carl DiOrio cautiously leans toward the heist thriller “Takers” to take the weekend with some amount in the “teen millions.” Although our own Will Harris found some things to like in a thoroughly mixed review, the thriller is being out-and-out bashed by many critics, with the consensus being that the film, which stars Chris Brown, potential A-lister Idris Elba, and “Avatar” leading-female-life-form Zoe Saldana (well, Will says she’s hardly there), is a tinsel-laden rehash or, as Cinemablend’s Josh Tyler puts it (via Rotten Tomatoes pull quote):

The logical result of watching Heat over and over and over until your brain burns out, and then wondering what it would look like if the whole thing were remade as a Smirnoff Vodka commercial.

Doing better critically is this week’s other new wide release, “The Last Exorcism.” Producer Eli Roth’s first foray away into PG-13 scares, the movie boasts a premise that actually threatens to justify one more shot at the increasingly large horror mock-documentary subgenre with a premise I know I’ve seen somewhere before in some form. It’s about an avowedly phony exorcist who opts to document his own con job only to find himself beset by…well, just guess. It’s a premise ripe for laughs and satire as well as scares and a majority of critics find this an auspicious debut for first time helmer Daniel Stamm.  There’s been some viral promotion for this film. Considering the style and the no-name cast, I’m sure the budget for this “Exorcism” was good and low and that’s nearly always a smart move, especially with an attempt at horror that’s more than just frightening.

One proviso, however. Most seem to agree that the ending is a let down. One thing about the most commercially successful entries in this genre, they might not have been great cinema in the usual sense, but they had wowser endings.

Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Lucas Black In the indie world, the year’s next candidate for break-out film turns out to be “Get Low,” which will almost no longer be a limited release as it expands onto 570 screens. Yes, I’m one of the very few writers not to be the least bit charmed by the film. So, what’s the voice of one-almost-lone movie critic versus a wave of good reviews and enormous, well-earned goodwill built up by three great stars like Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray? Don’t answer that.

  

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Monday trailer: “Legacy”

This perhaps too intense looking political thriller/psychodrama is, according to Pajiba independently made with a Nigerian director and Nigerian money, shot largely in a single room, and has been on the festival circuit. Still, it looks to me like it could have some commercial potential beyond your usual festival fare. Clearly, Idris Elba, whose Britishness — and real life sense of humor — are pretty much a secret to U.S. audiences so far, is being groomed for the A-list with his upcoming turn as James Patterson’s Alex Cross. Who knows what the legacy of “Legacy” will be?

  

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A trailer double bill: “The Black Swan” and “The Red Shoes” and some movie news too, I guess (updated)

I’m miles from home, I’ve left my mouse at home, and the barristas where I am are annoying while talking about movies, which is extra annoying to me. Can’t they talk annoyingly about sports instead? Why am I here? I got here early to beat the traffic and am across the street from the New Beverly Theater where I’ll be frittering hours away doing something unspeaking geeky on the occasion of the birthday of a fellow film geek blogger.

So, there’s no time for discuss the more interesting than usual casting news that Idris Elba will be taking over the role of James Patterson’s Alex Cross in the upcoming series reboot, that January Jones will try something different from tantalizing and annoying “Mad Men” viewers as Betty Draper and will be taking over the role of Emma Frost in “X-Men: First Class” or that Noomi Rapace, who originated the role of Lisbeth Salender in the Swedish “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is about to be heavily promoted for an Oscar nomination and may be taking on some blockbuster roles in big time American flicks, except that I just did. Instead, I’m presenting the really terrific — and outstandingly creepy — trailer for “The Black Swan” which seems destined for the title of most unnerving ballet film of all time, which I guess is just what we should expect from Darren Aronofsky after all this time. 13 year-old Chloe Moretz has already endorsed it in my recent interview with her. [UPDATE: Anne Thompson has thrown some very cold water over the Nikki Finke/Noomi Rapace story. I’m sure readers of both blogs may be seeing more about this one.]

I think I’ve presented it before here, but what the heck, after the flip is the trailer for the rather strange and very ravishing classic film Aronofsky pretty much had to have been thinking about as he made his film. I hope Mr. Scorsese, whose directing her “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” guides young Ms. Moretz to “The Red Shoes” — I can’t imagine he wouldn’t, seeing as he’s said it’s his favorite movie.

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