Archive for April, 2007

Hot Fuzz – For the Greater Good

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

hotfuzz poster One thing is already for sure and that’s that SHAUN OF THE DEAD fans will love this movie. HOT FUZZ is not only a really funny movie but one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. I did have some doubts but after seeing Edgar Wrights fake GRINDHOUSE trailer, DON’T, I realized that he has talent as a filmaker (or at least one that makes a really funny movie) and not just a bad directer with only one good feature.

Though I will say one negative thing and here it is; If you arrive about 20 minutes late than it’s ok, all you missed is the long introduction of all the characters and all the shops ans stuff like that in Sanford. The movie doesn’t have a great start, but when the plot gets going than it becomes much more interesting. One thing I was surprised with is that there was a movie reference of BAD BOYS II. I loved that movie a lot (and probly stand alone when I say that) and I don’t know whether it was a joke or if the filmakers seriously liked it.

Some of the jokes though do not always appeal to an American audience (such as the human statue) some are parodies of American cop films, and there’s also line here and there that were taken from SHAUN OF THE DEAD such as “ever taken a shortcut before” or “you want anything from the shop?” “Cornetto.”

What I really didn’t expect was for this movie to not only place itself up there with the greatest comedies ever made, but also the greatest cop movies ever made. Like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ also takes the time to put the jokes on the shelf and take a more serious turn. By serious, I mean how the last 20 minutes of SHAUN OF THE DEAD became more of a zombie movie than a comedy but in a good way. I never expected that for HOT FUZZ. The movie has many twists and they are good ones but I won’t spoil them for you.

Here’s basically everything you need to know about HOT FUZZ. The movie makes fun of Spahgetti Westerns (riding in Sanford on a horse, from the way I viewed it), The Omen (there is a death scene at a church that is similar to the death of the priest in THE OMEN, in my opinoin at least), and what I found really funny, those corny moments in an action movie where they take a pause and make a scene all emotional.

All I can say about this movie overall is that it is truly funny and put me at the edge of my seat and that rarely happens at a midnight screening for me. Usually I fall asleep. Sadly the movie won’t make a lot according to the buzz on the net, but this is one of my new all time favorite flicks and is number two on my top movies for 2007.

So go see this movie for “the greater good.”

Meet the Robinsons – A return to more intelligent times…

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Meet the Robinsons When I saw this movie I knew there would be some criticisms on the movie about it being dumb. Knowing that when people see something they don’t understand their self defense mechanism kicks in and they call it stupid. That could not be further from the truth. Meet the Robinsons is one of the most intelligent movies produced in the world of animation in quite some time.

The jokes in the movie are many and range from low level sight gags to esoteric science jokes (attempt 212). The movie also takes many stabs at irrevorant jokes that are funny because they often challenge the concept of adult/child communication. If you like this type of humor there is a gold mine in Meet the Robinsons.

As far as the point of there being no message here that could not be further from the truth. The point was that you should never dwell in the past and count who to blame. You should figure out how to fix the problem and move on. Maybe this point is missed on an American audience (I am proud to be an American but this tends to be state of our culture) but it is very important to remember this. Success is built on the remains of failure by those that are willing enough to pursue it.

Also please note this is *not* a Pixar film. John Lassater did have a part in it (along with other Pixar staff) but it was a Disney film at the base.

Meet the Robinson is one of Disney’s best animated film in years for those that are willing to apply a small amount of critical thinking. It is highly amusing and teaches a good lesson to those who are willing to listen.

Disturbia – Better than I Expected

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

The first thing in my mind when I saw the trailer for this movie was “Rear Window Rip-off” Part of me didn’t want to see a classic butchered, and the other part of me wanted to know if it would actually be any good. The fact that it was rated PG-13 instead of R was a relief, telling me that it wouldn’t be a gory horror flick, so I sucked it up, and went to see it with a friend of mine.

DisturbiaI have to say, that this was much better than I expected it to be. I wasn’t really expecting too much, but I was very surprised. I found the movie to be smart and funny, as well as scary and thrilling.

It was scary, but at the same time it was lighthearted. I didn’t expect to be as drawn into the story as much as I was. Shia LaBeouf has come a long way from his Even Stevens days on the Disney channel, and I found it really easy to connect with and understand his character. The other characters just added to the overall tension and fun experience this movie was.

I understand that some people will expect this to be scarier than it really is…or to contain gore and other stuff typically found in teen thriller type movies, but that’s not really what I go to movies to see. I was wanting to see a good suspense/thriller along the lines of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and I got what I wanted. However much it is based off of the Rear Window though, it is very different in most aspects, which I was happy about.

This movie is a thriller, not a horror film, so don’t expect it.

Good movie, and I highly recommend it.

‘Scotty’ Set to Be Launched Into Space

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

If all goes as planned Saturday, the cremated remains of the actor who portrayed “Scotty” aboard Star Trek’s starship Enterprise will sail into suborbital space aboard a rocket launched from the southern New Mexico desert. Actor James Doohan‘s remains, along with those of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper and about 200 others, are aboard the second private rocket scheduled to be launched at Spaceport America, a commercial spaceport being developed in Upham, N.M.

UP Aerospace Inc. of Farmington, Conn., launched the first rocket from the desert site in September. But that Spaceloft XL rocket crashed into the rugged desert after spiraling out of control about nine seconds after liftoff.

Company officials blamed the failure on a faulty fin design. A Spaceloft SL-2 rocket, with a fourth fin added for stability, will carry the cremains, which were loaded into the rocket last month.

Family members paid $495 to place a few grams of their relatives’ ashes on the rocket. Celestis, a Texas company, contracted with UP to send the cremated remains into space.

Charles Chafer, chief executive of Celestis, said last month that a CD with more than 11,000 condolences and fan notes was placed on the rocket with Doohan’s cremains.

Doohan died in July 2005, at age 85. The remains of Gene Roddenberry, who created “Star Trek,” were sent into space in 1997.

Saturday’s launch from the fledgling spaceport currently a 100-foot by 25-foot concrete slab in a patch of desert more than 50 miles north of Las Cruces continues to keep the New Mexico project ahead of its nearest competitor in the West Texas desert.

Jeff Bezos, founder of, is said to be developing a spaceport north of Van Horn, Texas. Bezos’ Blue Origin is working to develop manned spaceflight for space tourists.

British billionaire Richard Branson also has announced plans to launch a space tourism company, which is expected to have its headquarters at the New Mexico spaceport.

Pro wrestler Austin takes act to Hollywood’s ring

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

From Reuters
In Hollywood, where hype so often seems to be the norm, pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin‘s frank assessment of his own performance in his debut movie is, if nothing else, refreshing.

“I didn’t stink the place up,” Austin told Reuters about his role in his new big-screen action adventure “The Condemned,” which opened on Friday. “I think I have a feel for it, and I think I have some ability.”

Austin, 42, has built a global fan base on the back of his brawling, obscenity-laced, bad-boy image in the ring. But about three years ago, he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles from his home in Texas.

He followed the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock, two other big-name grapplers who parlayed their charismatic wrestling personas into movie acting. In “The Condemned,” Austin portrays a character who uses his fists to do his talking.

“It wasn’t a stretch because it’s closer to my regular persona,” he said. “As long as I’ve been in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), my fans have only seen me as Stone Cold Steve Austin.

“I’m glad people will get a chance to see I can be a lot more than someone who uses a lot of four-letter words, drinks a lot of beer, flips people off and beats people up,” he added.

His fans will be relieved to know he still kicks a lot of butt. But like many a good, tight-lipped action hero before him — Stone Cold Steve said that as a boy he admired the likes of John Wayne and Charles Bronson — his character, Jack Conrad, is really a good guy caught in a bad situation.


Plucked from a Latin American jail where he was wrongly imprisoned for murder, Conrad is dropped with nine other convicted murderers on a remote island where they must battle each other to the death.

An unscrupulous television executive has rigged the island with hundreds of cameras to videotape the killings, and he and his crew are streaming the battle royal on the Internet.

In Hollywood, where movie executives often hawk their ideas as a blend of previous movies or television shows, “The Condemned” could be seen as a combination of “Rambo” and reality TV’s “Survivor.”

Austin, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds (113 kg), played college football in Texas and afterward worked as a manual laborer. That changed when he started watching pro wrestlers and decided, “I can do that.”

So he began a roughly 15-year career that vaulted him to professional wrestling’s championship level. Now, looking for a less physically demanding way to make a living, he said becoming a movie action hero was another “natural step.”

Hollywood critics have often wondered whether gun-toting screen heroes encourage real-life violence in society, a question that seems even more relevant in the wake of the recent deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University.

Austin said “Condemned” was filmed well before the college massacre, and the movie’s R-rating bars anyone under age 17 from seeing it without an accompanying adult in the United States.

His fans want to see hard-core action, and he is going to work to please them, he said, adding that in the end the movie offers a message about the destructive nature of greed.

Austin said “Condemned” is the first film of a three-picture deal, and he expects more to come.

“I want to make 50 more movies,” the plain-spoken Texan said. “But I’ve got to have good results at the box office.”

Blood stains and clown pants

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

I had a hunch there would be a lot of entries to the second Scene Challenge, but by the hammer of Thor, I never expected 162.

It’s taken hours to go through them, winnowing it down from a list of 25 to ten to the winner. There were so many solid entries that I found myself needing to stick pretty closely to the rules: it had to be about a guy picking up his clothes at a dry cleaner. This standard led me to ding entries that felt more like a laundromat than a dry cleaner. It also sidelined many scenes that created a fascinating situation but weren’t really about The Guy himself.

Believe me, I enjoyed the riffs on what a dry cleaner could be. A couple of times, I found myself thinking, “Yeah, I’d see that movie.” But since the competition was about introducing a character, the winning scene had to be about The Guy, not The World.

After a final battle between several really strong contenders, I ended up picking two that were very similar, each of which had aspects I really liked. The first is by Craig Ugoretz:

  • An ornery, ancient Honda careens into the parking lot, screeching into a space. Out tumbles CLARENCE MALLOY, unshaven, egg-beater hair, stained wife beater. All that’s missing are the wavy smell lines.
  • He struggles out of the car, trying not to let any balloons slip out, and ends up slamming the door on his clown pants. He always does that.
  • Clarence scurries up to the counter, out of breath. The cashier eyes him, wary.
  • I lost my ticket. But it’s Malloy, a clown shirt? Bosco stains? Oh, and, I’m in a bit of a hurry.
  • He tries a smile. It misfires.

Let’s look at what Craig did. The second sentence gives us a bit of a visual on Clarence, but it’s the “wavy smell lines” that stick. Honestly, it was one of the few descriptors I still remembered after 100 subsequent entries. I like the balloons in the car, but it’s too easy to miss. Adding something more concrete around “balloons” would help slow the reader down, as would breaking it into shorter sentences:

  • He struggles out of the car, trying not to let any of the 57 balloons slip out. He ends up slamming the door on his clown pants. He always does that.

The action inside the dry cleaners doesn’t do that much, though Clarence’s misfired smile is a nice touch. It could even be the end of the scene, if we were to cut to Clarence showing up at his next gig.

The second is by Danny:

  • A dust cloud enters.
  • It slowly clears to reveal JOE SMELLS, wearing quite possibly the first pair of clothes ever made, and they’ve certainly never been washed.
  • Have your rates dropped yet?
  • The cashier shakes his head ‘no.’
  • How about coupons, or specials going on?
  • The cashier rolls his eyes and points to a sign reading: WE DO NOT CLEAN CLOTHES YOU ARE CURRENTLY WEARING.
  • Smells sighs. As he exits–
  • All right, I’ll check back later. Again. You should really think about changing your policies though. They make you look cheap.

Most of the heavy lifting is done by the dialogue, and it works well. Danny relies on a single description to set up the visual. I’d love to know an age, and at least one other detail to give me a picture of who this guy is. Since we need “first clothes ever made” to help tie us into the dry cleaners, I might break that off as a second sentence and add some more goodness right after JOE SMELLS.

  • It slowly clears to reveal JOE SMELLS, 32, the most confident homeless man in Phoenix. He’s wearing quite possibly the first pair of clothes ever made, and they’ve certainly never been washed.

Congrats to Craig and Danny. I hadn’t meant to split the prize — but I hadn’t anticipated 162 entries, either.

Given the setup, I guess it’s not surprising that I had my pick of clowns, wary cashiers and stinky patrons. But there were a few other trends worth noting:

  1. “A, but not A.” You describe a character as being one thing, then immediately negate it. “Friendly, but somewhat aloof.” “Impeccably dressed, yet his tie is askew.” There’s nothing wrong with this technique, but you have to be careful that it doesn’t verge on impossibility. I kept waiting for a tiny giant to show up.
  2. Laundronoir. I guess it’s natural that blood stains would be a common theme, but I hadn’t anticipated so many tickets from decades ago.
  3. Past tense. Several of the early entries were written in the past tense, common to novels. Screenplays are always written in the present tense. But it’s nice to see some new contributors who haven’t been exposed to screenwriting trying their hands.
  4. Smell-o-vision. Along the same lines, screenplays can only directly describe things that can be seen or heard. If you’re referencing smell, a character in the scene needs to make the reaction: “Candace half-chokes on the smell coming off him.” Or at least make sure the reader knows that this is just for his benefit: “He looks like week-old roadkill, and probably smells like it, too.”

Again, there were a lot of strong contenders, so my congrats to the many readers who contributed. If you want to comment on a specific entry, be sure to reference it by number, because there are several duplicated names.


Friday, April 27th, 2007

Like everyone else near a keyboard, I've grown accustomed to Wikipedia.

I should probably wean myself.

Every now and again I'll check the IMDB discussion boards on movies I'm working on. It's pretty fascinating, if only as a study in the global game of Telephone that is the internet. My favorite debates are the ones where someone insists loudly and arrogantly and with supreme confidence that "This movie will be Rated R! I know someone at the stuido!"…even though the movie was never going to be R.

And yes, spellings like "stuido" are part of the fun.

So today, when I skimmed the boards for Superhero!, I was excited to see that someone was trumping the debate by citing the ultimate internet authority. Off I went to see the movie's entry on Wikipedia.


Let's go through it…

Superhero! is an action/comedy written by Craig Mazin and directed by David Zucker, and produced by Robert K. Weiss. The movie will spoof famous superhero films. It is distributed by The Weinstein Company. It is uncertain what the release date will be. Some sites confirmed that it will be released on March 21, 2008.

Boy, only thirteen words in, and they've already blown it. I'm directing, not David. I've always been directing. I've never not been directing. I'm also producing with Weiss and Zucker. We've shifted positions a little bit, but the same basic team behind SM3 and SM4 is still in place.

I do believe we are on the schedule for March 21, 2008, though, so good on them.

Now, here's the "purported plot."

Fabtopolis' greatest supervillain, a magician who goes by the pseudonym The Great Jim (Chris Elliot), has just kidnapped the city's mayor (Leslie Nielsen) and his wife (Anna Faris). Four of the world's most spectacular superheroes are called to the rescue: Beakman (Greg Giraldo) - the leader of the group, Squak (Eric Christian Olsen) - the wannabee, Cleara (Carla Gugino) - the see-through hero, and The Stoner (Ben Harr) - a loser who becomes a large stone monster when he gets high. The Great Jim is building a device that will allow him to sound like anybody in the world and this group of superheroes must stop him and save the mayor or the entire city will be destroyed.

As they race against time to defeat Jim, they team up with many other superheroes to try and take down Jim and his allies, including the dreaded Dock Cock (Kevin Mcdonald) and Mephistopheles (Adam Arkin).

Not bad. The only things they got wrong were everything. Every single thing. Insane.


Anna Faris married to Leslie Nielsen?

Dock COCK?

Folks, I know I've disappointed some audiences in the past. Maybe myself too. But if I ever write anything that even remotely resembles the above, I'm eating a gun. Okay? Here's a hint…we never do "funny names." Ever.

Then they move on to a list of the movies we will be spoofing.

Superman film series
Batman film series
Fantastic Four film seriers
The Hulk (film)
Spider-Man film series
The Prestige
Daredevil (film)
Ghost Rider (film)

We're not really specifically spoofing anything. We're taking on the entire genre. However, I can assure you that the vast majority of the movies mentioned above aren't even getting casually referenced.

The Prestige???

Here's my favorite part. "History." This is the part that sounds like actual information!

It is currently unknown whether David Zucker or Craig Mazin will direct. According to some sites, the film was supposed to be originally released on February 7, 2007. However the film's real release date has been reported to be delayed to March 21, 2008.

It was confirmed on March 2, 2007, that Adam Campbell will reprise his Superman role from Epic Movie.

Many cast changes were announced on March 13, 2007. Big name actors such as Josh Lucas, Laura Kightlinger, and Joshua Jackson turned out to be actors "considered" for the roles, but not actually cast.

The producers have decided to go with actors that are more familiar to this type of film. They've gone with Anna Faris, Kevin McDonald, and Chris Elliot to replace the others.

It's currently known. I'm directing. It was "confirmed" about wha-huh now about Adam Campbell? I've never even met the guy. He's not in our movie, and he's not going to be in our movie. Nothing against him, but he belongs to a different brand of…well…whatever genre Epic Movie is. Yeah, I was totally considering "big name actors" like….Laura Kightlinger??? I actually think she's very funny…but "big name actress?"

No, none of the actors mentioned in the paragraph above have been considered for anything in this movie (YET…because we haven't really gotten into casting yet…that's coming up in just a few weeks). But why should that stop anyone? Here's the "cast of characters!"

Greg Giraldo - Theo Payne / Beakman
Carla Gugino - Cleara
Leslie Nielsen - Mayor Jogen
Anna Faris - Mrs. Jogen
Eric Christian Olsen - Mark Ockle / Squak
Ben Harr - The Stoner
Chris Elliot - The Great Jim
Fred Willard - Alfred
Adam Campbell - Superman
Kevin McDonald - Dock Cock
Lil' Kim - Betty Sue
Jonathon Martes - Spider-Man
Penny Ulrich - Lindsey
Lochlyn Munro - Daredevil
Shannon Elizabeth - Elektra
Adam Arkin - Mephistopheles
Xavier Reboir - Lex Lover

I'll go in order, giving you a "yes" or "no". Presume that a "no" is both to the actor and the character. A "yes" is a yes to both.

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and no.

Other than that, it's a really accurate entry.

The Rocchi Review: Online Film Community Podcast — with Special Guest Anne Thompson of Variety

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Filed under: , , , ,

Do the trades really focus on business at the expense of show? Do people now get what you mean just by saying you're a "blogger?" And what killed Premiere dead -- and why isn't there a glossy, mass-market movie magazine in America? The Rocchi Review, our bi-weekly look at the online film community, is joined this week by Variety's Anne Thompson -- a veteran journalist, commentator and blogger -- and Anne and I talk about all the topics above, and much more. You can download the entire podcast right here -- and we hope you enjoy.
Permalink | Email this | Comments

Trailer Park: What Looks Good to Me

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Filed under: , , , , , ,

The focus of this week's Trailer Park is going to be a bit more self-indulgent than usual. If you've read previous installments, you've seen how I usually discuss several trailers that can be grouped together under a common theme. Sometimes, though, as I look at all the new previews no pattern emerges, so the trailers I'm focusing on this week are mentioned here purely because they appeal to me personally. It's "what looks good to me" week on Trailer Park.

Run Fatboy Run
Based on the fact that Shaun of the Dead is one of the funniest films of all time, and Hot Fuzz, which I haven't had a chance to see yet, looks quite awesome as well, anything starring Simon Pegg will grab my attention. Pegg's co-star from Shaun, Dylan Moran, also shows up in this trailer. Unfortunately, this preview suffers from one of my pet peeves: it doesn't actually tell you what the film is about. According to the synopsis on IMDB, Pegg is training for a marathon to win back the woman he dumped ten years earlier. What we do get, however, is Pegg running around in a pair of shorts even shorter than the ones Lieutenant Jim Dangle wears on Reno 911. Who knew that was even possible? There's some pretty good physical comedy on display here; like when Pegg takes a dive down a flight of stairs (yes, grievous bodily harm can be hilarious in the proper setting) and the bit with him drinking the raw eggs made for a pretty good laugh. This film marks the feature directorial debut of Friends star David Scwhimmer from a script by Michael Ian Black. Here's Erik Davis's take on the trailer.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Obviously this is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the summer, and I'm just as excited about it as anyone. I've read all of J.K. Rowling's Potter books, and like the films, each one has been better than the last. Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is loose once again, Dolores Umbridge, has been appointed Grand Inquisitor of Hogwarts School, and having read the books I couldn't help smiling when the trailer showed a bit of the Weasley twins laying mischievous waste to the school. The preview is flat out spectacular and I can't wait for this one. See for yourself:

Continue reading Trailer Park: What Looks Good to Me

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Another Look at Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man)

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Filed under: , , , , ,

Last night, I had a chance to see my first film of the Tribeca Film Festival, Charlie Bartlett. While I'll save plot details and the like for my review, I will point out that, in the film, Robert Downey Jr. plays a high school principal who's also a recovering alcoholic (though he's not doing so good with the whole "recovering" part). I point this out because it's been awhile since I've seen Downey Jr. on the big screen; I'm waiting to watch the majority of his recent roles on DVD. And though Charlie Bartlett certainly had a few flaws, I couldn't help but lose myself in Downey Jr.'s acting -- and all he's playing is a damn high school principal! Imagine how I'll feel when I see him as Iron Man. As I left the screening room last night, I couldn't help but thank God that this guy got clean. It is my opinion that he is one of the best actors working today, and to lose him to a drug would've been a damn shame.

That said, USA Today has a whole article on the Iron Man production which includes a brand new pic of Downey Jr. (as Tony Stark) forging the Iron Man suit. As you can see above, the dude looks pretty badass. Apart from the pic, the article delves into some of the training that Downey Jr. had to endure in order to get in shape for the role. Apparently, he's been lifting weights five days a week, while also practicing a good amount of martial arts. Says Downey Jr. about the role: "I'm more diligent than I used to be. I want to show Jon he was right to have faith in me. Whatever questions might have arisen about my life weren't issues with him." Though substance abuse is fairly common among actors and actresses, it has to be tough to play a role that's so close to the man you were (or are); to share your personal demons with the world, instead of just some therapist. I applaud Downey Jr. for taking the risk, and I cannot wait to see him play Tony Stark. Iron Man will hit theaters next May.

Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments