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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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Thursday trailer: “X-Men: First Class”

It’s still the dead of Winter, but Summer (or the movie version of it, which actually stars in late Spring) is getting closer every day. “X-Men: First Class” is of special interest to me as it marks the return of director Matthew Vaughn to the franchise. (Vaughn famously dropped out the third X-Men installment shortly before production and was replaced by nobody’s favorite, Brett Ratner.)

Ironically, I’m not the biggest fan of any of the “X-Men” movies I’ve seen so far. However, Vaughn and his writing collaborator, Jane Goldman, most recently of “Kick-Ass,” have batted 1000 a with me as they careen from genre to genre and fail to rake in the big money I think they richly deserve. Let’s just hope this isn’t only a movie for critics and hardcore genre geeks. As you probably already know, James McAvoy is a much hairier and more ambulatory Dr. Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender is a much younger Magneto.

H/t Deadline. I’m definitely digging the retro vibe here.

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Tuesday night trailer: “Jane Eyre”

I’m not sure how I’ve managed it, considering I was an English major throughout high school and half of college and all, but I’ve somehow managed to miss not only Charlotte Bronte’s novel, but every film and television version so far of “Jane Eyre.” Nevertheless, after hearing actress Sally Hawkins — who appears for half a second in this trailer — praise the director yesterday in casual conversation at a press day, and seeing the trailer below, I not only am looking forward to the movie, which stars the fast-rising pair of Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender as well as Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, and Imogen Potts, I think it might be time for me to read the book. I’m a sucker for mistreated child stories.

By the way, that director is Cary Fukunaga, who pulled off a very impressive debut with “Sin Nombre.” Promising.

H/t Coming Soon.

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It’s your pre-Labor Day end-of-week movie news dump. Yay.

As the madcap summer movie series ends, just a few items to wrap up the silly season.

* Not silly at all and quite possibly tragic. It appears there was a very serious stunt-related accident on the set of “Transformers 3,” or perhaps it was a not so stunt-related “freak accident,” says Nikki Finke.

* L’affaire Depardieu et Binoche est tres bizarre. (If my French is incorrect and it almost certainly is, please send complaints to the UCLA languages department.)

* The concept art from the canned Pixar film, “Newt,” is beautiful. Maybe someday we’ll get to see the abandoned footage. Their discards are probably at least twice as good as most finished films.

newt3

* I have a feeling we’re going to hear a lot about “The Black Swan” through Oscar season. It apparently wowed them in Venice though the thoughtful and quirky cinephile critic emeritus J. Hoberman of Village Voice finds it “borderline risible.” To me, remaking “The Red Shoes” with a dash of Dario Argento and even DePalma (not my favorite) sure sounds pretty cool.

* Christopher Rosen may be a doubter, but I say keep hope alive, Kristen Bell!

* Director Tomas Alfredson, who did such a great job on “Let the Right One In,” is shifting genres from very young vampires to depressive real-world style spooks like George Smiley (Gary Oldman this time ’round) in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” Michael Fassbender, however, left to be a superhero so now Tom Hardy of “Inception” is stepping in. That should work okay, too. (I finally saw “Inception,” by the way, and…I’m too tired to talk about it now, which is sort of how I felt as I was watching it, actually.)

* Is “Hunger Games” really “The Running Man” with teens or more like “Battle Royale” made safe for an American audience? Sam Mendes, Gary Ross and David Slade duke it out to see who’ll realize whatever it is. Interesting to see the name of the talented writer Billy Ray involved here.

* Crocodile Dundee may now roam free in the Outback — I mean the branch of the steakhouse chain in Burbank.

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