It’s Friday morning, and that means another batch of news bites. This turned out to be a fairly busy week in Hollywood, with a whole lot of movie news coming to light. There’s a big mess of Marvel news, a touch of Turtle news, a dash of Disney, and an assortment of news on other major film operations. What there isn’t, strangely enough, is the need for a rumors section this week. Everything is relatively solid, at least what I came across. I’m sure there’s some random speculation out there, but I only came across a few items that come under that header, and they’re all tied to more definite news.
So for once, we can have a Friday without any major rumor-mongering. Read on! Continue reading →
Very few actors manage to have a career that’s completely free of bad films. There are several reasons why an actor might make a bad film, and not all of them have to do with it being a bad actor. Some otherwise good actors have made some very bad films. Sometimes it’s because they weren’t aware it was going to be bad until it was too late. Sometimes it’s because they recognize that, although it’s a bad film, it gives them a chance to do something they’ve always wanted to do, whether it was play a certain role or work with a certain person. Sometimes it’s so that their kids have something they can watch that stars their parent. And sometimes it’s for the money.
Many times, an actor seems unaware of how bad their film is. But other times, they come to admit it later on — or immediately upon release. When they do, they often come out with something funny or insightful. So here I’ve gathered a small selection of quotes from actors about some of their least-favorite movies. With a couple exceptions, most of these are fairly well respected actors on the whole. But the films in question? Not so much.
Incidentally, I went with 13 quotes because that was the number of quotes I wound up with on distinct films, after trimming out quotes that didn’t seem as interesting or as pithy. There are a few bonus quotes thrown in as well. In all cases, I believe either the actor, the movie, or usually both, will be recognizable, but I’ve provided some details on the films just to show the reception they’ve gotten. Continue reading →
When I first saw the trailers for Batman Begins, I felt a mixture of anticipation and apprehension. I wanted a new Batman movie, one that would be true to the character as well as being a good movie overall. But there was a risk that a relaunch of the franchise would pander to the worst excesses of Tim Burton’s take on the character; it’s very easy to go overboard on the darkness and grimness with Batman, and the trailers for Batman Begins gave the impression it could happen again. And then the movie came out, and I loved it; it’s one of my favorite films.
When the trailers for The Dark Knight hit, I again felt that same mixture of emotions. Christopher Nolan had delivered a greater movie than I had anticipated before, but I knew from experience that sequels seldom held up to the original. And Heath Ledger didn’t look like what I think of when think of the Joker; in fact, his appearance would have fit in with the macabre and wretched appearance of the Penguin in Batman Returns. I had a legitimate concern that the sophomore effort for the franchise relaunch would fumble the ball. But Ledger turned out to be a fantastic Joker, and the movie was exceptionally good. It also would become one of my favorite films.
Four years later, and it’s 2012; trailers come out for The Dark Knight Rises. And again, the trailers seem a bit off, and don’t seem to generate excitement. (I know people were excited about The Dark Knight Rises, but my honest assessment is that the excitement existed independently of the trailers.) I had learned enough to not lose faith in Nolan, but I also knew it was still possible to flub the third act. And Bane has never been my favorite Bat-villain. But I shouldn’t have worried. Nolan has done it again. Continue reading →
“The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.”
With the blockbuster success of Batman Begins, anticipation was high for Christopher Nolan’s follow-up. Fans were excited. Even critics were looking forward to it. And Warner Brothers, of course, couldn’t have been more excited about the prospect of even more ticket sales. Most of the stars were returning. Christian Bale would don the Batsuit again, Michael Caine would again serve faithfully as Alfred. Morgan Freeman would return as Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman would again put on the uniform of Gotham City detective Jim Gordon, now a Lieutenant. Even Cillian Murphy was coming back for a brief cameo as the Scarecrow. Of the major cast members of Batman Begins, the only ones not to return were Liam Neeson, as his character arc was done, and Katie Holmes, who had played Rachel Dawes in the first film but bowed out of the sequel to instead star in Mad Money (which may charitably be said to have been a questionable career decision.) Replacing her in the role was Maggie Gyllenhaal, and the transition went off without a hitch; many viewers considered the recast role to be an improvement. Continue reading →
“Why do we fall sir? So we might learn to pick ourselves up.”
By the end of the 20th century, the Batman film franchise had fallen quite far indeed. The 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton, had been a massive success, finally establishing a successful serious superhero film other than fellow DC Comics title Superman, which by that time had fallen out of favor itself in the theatres. But Burton’s 1992 follow-up, Batman Returns, had a more mixed reception. Some loved the continuation of the darker themes of Batman; others hated it. Defenders and detractors both could be found among both audience members and critics… and in the upper echelons of Warner Brothers. It was felt that Burton’s vision for Batman was not marketable enough, especially to children. They brought in Joel Schumacher to direct the third film, 1995′s Batman Forever, and enforced a lighter tone on the picture. It was commercially successful, although not a critical darling, and the relative success of the merchandising led Warner Brothers to push things even further into lighthearted camp with the 1997′s Batman & Robin. But the fourth film did not appeal as strongly to the public, who reacted strongly against its campy tone; while it wasn’t the first time Batman had been campy, by any stretch, this time it was poorly-done camp. The critical thrashing and comparatively poor box office reception (it turned a profit, but not domestically) caused Warner Brothers to end the franchise, canceling plans for a fifth film, which would have been titled Batman Triumphant. A series that had started out with promise was now considered toxic. Continue reading →
There’s a trick to a dark comedy. There has to be a fundamental wrongness about the situation — else it isn’t dark — and yet there also has to be something likeable about the protagonist. Maybe it’s a genuinely good person in a bad situation. Or maybe it’s somebody who isn’t so good, but manages to be entertaining. In director Jan Egleson’s 1990 film A Shock to the System, the latter approach is taken, and a large part of its success can be put at the feet of star Michael Caine.
Caine plays Graham Marshall, a British-American living in New York and working at a large corporate conglomerate. Caine also narrates the film, although his narration is in the third person. This helps to create a sense of disassociation from his character, which is appropriate, as Graham is very much disassociated from life. His wife Leslie (Swoosie Kurtz) seems to respect his position more than she respects him, and that position is quickly shown to be going nowhere. He’s passed up for a promotion he’s been bucking for when his friend and superior George (John McMartin) retires, and it’s given to a younger man. Graham feels overlooked. He works hard at his job, and nobody notices. He does right by his underlings, and nobody notices. He seethes with frustration at the injustice, and nobody notices. He gets in an altercation with a bum and inadvertently shoves him in front of an oncoming train… and nobody notices. Continue reading →
Given the title of the film, it may be a bit ironic that I’ve been having a bit of trouble figuring out where to begin with my review of Inception. There’s a lot I feel like I want to cover, and yet at the same time, I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t seen it. Director Christopher Nolan is known for producing some very cerebral films, and his 2010 effort is no exception. Just keeping track of everything that’s going on in Inception requires your brain to constantly be whirring along, taking note of everything and trying to figure out what’s coming next. Some films suffer when this happens, others aim for it and it can be a virtue; Inception falls into the second group.
Fortunately, it’s possible to discuss the basic premise without spoiling anything significant. Anybody who has seen any of the promotional materials, from posters to trailers, will have at least the notion that it has to do with entering dreams. The plot may be intricate, but the premise itself is fairly straightforward. Continue reading →
It stars Michael Caine and it involves pirates. That’s enough to get me interested. Released in 1980, Michael Ritchie’s The Island is one of several films with that title; unlike the others, it’s based on a book by Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws. So all in all, it was looking like a pretty safe bet for a decent movie.
Caine plays Blair Maynard, a Korean War veteran since turned newspaper reporter. It’s implied his paper is little more than a gossip rag, but he manages to convince his editor to let him go down to Florida and the Caribbean to investigate a rash of disappearing ships. As his ex-wife is on vacation with her new beau, he takes his 12-year-old son Justin (Jeffrey Frank, who only starred in one film) with him, promising him a chance to visit Disney World along the way. Of course, a trip to see Mickey Mouse and Goofy would not make for an action movie (although I invite studios to prove me wrong), so you know that’s not what’s going to happen. Continue reading →
The 1990 comedy Mr. Destiny is centered around the notion that, if you change one key event in a person’s life, the whole life changes. It’s a familiar, often-visited premise in movies; It’s a Wonderful Life did it on such a grand scale (with the event being the life happening at all) that it’s spawned almost as many imitators as Elvis Presley. With a few rare exceptions, the genre consists of some apparently-luckless individual wishing on one simple change to their past that would make everything better. Their wish is granted, and initially it seems wonderful, and then they start to see the bad side of things and just how good their actual life really was by comparison.
In some alternate life, perhaps I chose to watch a different film than Mr. Destiny tonight. I’d like to think that other Morgan might have been some tiny bit happier for it, but who knows? Maybe he got stuck watching Jack and Jill instead. Continue reading →
As I noted a short while earlier, there have been a great many adaptations of the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This one was a made-for-TV movie, which would normally dissuade me from checking it out, but I decided to give it a chance anyway due to the actor cast in the title role, Michael Caine, who is usually worth watching. And indeed Caine turned in a very solid performance in the movie… unfortunately it seems he was also slumming it a bit, as the movie itself rather let him down in some ways.
It’s not the fault of his co-stars. All of them likewise gave worthy performances in their roles. Cheryl Ladd, probably best known from the original Charlie’s Angels, plays Sara Crawford, Jekyll’s sister-in-law and love interest. In this variation of the story, Jekyll is a widower, having lost his wife to pneumonia. Sara, the other daughter of Jekyll’s father-in-law and scientific rival Dr. Lanyon (Joss Ackland), is a married woman but her husband is off in Singapore, and she feels no love for him; she has always loved Jekyll. Lanyon blames Jekyll for the death of his daughter, and suspects adultery between Sara and Henry (he’s wrong, initially.)