Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?
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Looks like Universal got the jump on everyone at the end of this past week by announcing a boatload of release dates. Others are falling in line to grab their own weekends, and so we’ve got new dates for Lionsgate’s 3D version of Conan, which now seems to be officially called Conan 3D, and Sony’s 21 Jump Street, the latter of which is being pushed back from a 2011 date and had previously been dated as a ‘Winter 2012’ film. Read More »
The last bits of casting are coming together for Terra Nova, the Fox show about a time-traveling family that is being exec produced by Steven Spielberg. For months we’ve known that Jason O’Mara would be the lead actor, as the father of a family that goes back in time to prehistoric Earth, and that Stephen Lang would play the military leader of the Terra Nova settlement they find upon arrival. The new casting is after the break. Read More »
The Steven Spielberg-produced show Terra Nova is going through a few changes. It looks to be adding a notable actor, Stephen Lang, at the same time as it loses a key behind the scenes player in executive producer David Fury. Read More »
When the trailer for the M Night Shyamalan-scripted/produced movie Devil was screened at Comic-Con, people began laughing and booing when M Night’s name appeared on screen. I’ve seen the same thing happen to a much lesser extent at a normal Friday night screening in at the Hollywood Arclight. The M Night backlash seems to be in full effect.
M Night seems to have a sense of humor after all, and has recorded a faux movie trailer for a new thriller called Escalation (basically Devil but on a normal office Escalator which suddenly comes to a stop). The spoof trailer stars Shyalaman, Penthouse Pet Ryan Keely, one of the stars of Avatar, and MTV News correspondent Josh Horowitz. Watch the trailer now, embedded after the jump.
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Fan Fest takes place at the London Film Museum (on Google Maps) this Saturday and Sunday, the 24th and 25th April. The official website describes it as “The Ultimate Spy and Sci-Fi Event” and an “Action & Entertainment Weekender For All the Family”. I can also tell you that it’s going to be the single biggest gathering of James Bond alumni under one roof, as well a showcase for costumes and props from a wealth of beloved genre films, with a little bit of bias towards films made in Britain.
As well as the exhibits and signing sessions, the weekend will also feature a full timetable of onstage Q&A sessions with such geek luminaries as Ray Harryhausen, Avatar’s Stephen Lang and more Bond Girls and Guys than you could shake (not stir) a stick at. In true Q&A tradition, audience members will have a chance to ask their own questions after a bit of warm-up by the chair.
I’m lucky enough to be hosting Sunday afternoon’s Q&As . Here’s who I’m going to be speaking to:
2.30 Stephen Lang – Avatar‘s Colonel Quaritch
3.00 Richard Kiel and Blanche Ravalec – James Bond’s Jaws and Dolly
3.30 Eunice Gayson and Madeline Smith – the first Bond Girls to Connery and Moore respectively
Tickets will be available on the door, though there are a limited number of seats in the debating chamber so I would recommend booking early. There’s a lot of interesting folk appearing over the weekend and it’s not every day we see them interviewed, much less taking questions from fans.
Stephen Lang‘s reward for acing his portrayal of the villainous Colonel Quaritch in Avatar could be another showcase role as the colourful bad guy. There’s said to be a deal on the table right now that would see Lang taking the part of Khalar Singh in Marcus Nispel‘s Conan reboot.
Here’s how Singh was described in the casting breakdown for the movie:
He’s in his 40s to 50s, Asian or Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mongol, Turkish, or Persian, open to all ethnicities; commanding in size and manner, a warlord and formidable warrior, brilliant, cruel, weathered and tanned by the many campaigns he has waged and won.
From here on out, the description became a little more spoiler-prone. If you aren’t averse to plot details, read on…
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[Editor’s Note: We have published reviews of Avatar by David Chen, Brendon Connelly, and Russ Fischer. Here is a different take on the film from Hunter Stephenson.]
No man is an island, so James Cameron humbly ventured off several years into the future to create one for his own damn self called Pandora. And now he’s inviting the unwashed masses to explore it for a small fee, with permission to return, preferably in the company of an unsuspecting elder skin, if one so chooses. In my mind, the phrase “movie gods” as it applies to mainstream blockbusters had nearly become obsolete. Agree? The exciting, previously unimaginable computer generated wow-factor that Cameron and Steven Spielberg defined with Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park was followed by challengers to the SFX throne that, even at their best, never quite felt as revolutionary and transportive.
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[Editor’s Note: Last week we published David Chen’s and Brendon Connelly’s reviews of Avatar. Here is a different take on the film from Russ Fischer.]
James Cameron sure can build a world. His obsessive, detail-oriented approach to filmmaking is particularly suited to inventing alternate environments; in another life he might have been a magnificent city planner. Pandora, the world on which his film Avatar takes place, is rich in strange and beautiful detail. It’s a pulp wonderland, the sort of world that would make Robert E. Howard nod in approval. The science fiction of his teen years, the building blocks of early films like Aliens and the hidden sights discovered in his mid-life underwater career are recombined into an environment that becomes more than the sum of its parts.
When Pandora is allowed to take center stage it makes a hell of a subject. Cameron is fully engaged while exploring the planet’s verdant beauty, or, ironically, when blowing it to pieces. But while building his world the designer in James Cameron took precedence over the screenwriter. There’s an argument to be made that a story with roots so deep in pulp adventure doesn’t need to be well-scripted. I can’t get behind such a viewpoint. That a place imagined to the most minute detail should be home to a story so thin is the film’s greatest irony. Read More »