News Bites: Turtles and Transformers

News Bites LogoThis week’s assortment of news bites largely consists of superhero movie news and other adaptations. There are a few denials of things, a few rumors, and a few confirmations. There’s also a distressing amount of Michael Bay news. Such is life.

Read on to find out what’s going on.

Ninja Turtles, the film franchise reboot being produced by Michael Bay (which has been the cause of many well-ground molars to date) now has its four turtles. Playing Leonardo, the leader of the team, is Pete Ploszek, making his film debut and nearly his acting debut (he’s had two single-episode roles on TV). Playing team brain Donatello is Jeremy Howard, who has had minor film roles in a number of things, but nothing major that I’m aware of. Noel Fisher plays party dude Michaelangelo; he may be the best known of the actors. While his film roles are similarly minor, including bit parts in Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Battle: Los Angeles, he also has had recurring roles on Showtime’s Shameless and the History Channel’s Hatfields & McCoys miniseries. And playing Raphael is Alan Ritchson, who had a recurring role on Blue Mountain State, a low-brow football sitcom. It appears that Bay is essentially going for unknowns in the roles; as the actors are all going to be playing motion-capture characters, it may be that he simply didn’t want to pay a big name actor for a face that won’t ever be seen. The film is slated for release on June 6, 2014.

Samuel L. Jackson is joining Jose Padilha’s RoboCop remake as a media mogul. I’ll say this one thing for the reboot, though so far it hasn’t filled me with enthusiasm: between Jackson and Gary Oldman, it’s at least getting some fun actors in the supporting roles.

The female lead has been cast for Transformers 4, and it’s Nicola Peltz. Peltz’s previous film roles include the role of Katara in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, and the role of one of the daughters in 2006’s Deck the Halls. Those wanting to see her in a more recent (and less Shyamalany) performance can see her on TV in A&E’s Bates Motel. If you do, let me know if she’s any good; I have to admit I haven’t been interested in checking that series out.

Some sad news this week. Writer-producer Don Payne has passed away at the age of 48 from bone cancer. Payne was a writer and consulting producer on The Simpsons. In the film world, he was largely known as a writer of superhero movies, from My Super Ex-Girlfriend, to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, to both Thor and Thor: The Dark World. He was also involved in the long-rumored (but likely abandoned — see below) Lobo project for Warner Brothers. Rest in peace, Mr. Payne; Thor by itself would earn you the respect of superhero movie geeks.

DC Comics is planning a documentary on their villainous characters, to be titled Necessary Evil. Production on the film starts tomorrow, and fans at WonderCon have the opportunity to cameo in the film if they dress up in costume. Christopher Lee, who certainly knows a few things about villainy himself, will narrate the documentary. Release plans have not been revealed, but given the relatively limited appeal of documentaries in general, it’s more likely to be direct-to-video than theatrical.

MGM and GK Films are bringing Lara Croft back to the big screen with a reboot of the Tomb Raider film franchise. Considering Tomb Raider was pretty much the only successful video-game-to-film adaptation (no, Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t count, since it wasn’t based on a pre-existing game), it’s not surprising that they would want to try again. And since Angelina Jolie is apparently disinterested in revisiting the role, it’s also not surprising that they’re going the reboot route.

Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo have joined the cast of the new Vacation movie, which media people are still bizarrely calling a reboot even though it’s following the next generation (the term is “sequel”, guys; you should be familiar with it by now.) Still, the confusion is somewhat understandable, as — much like the The Thing prequel — the film’s current title is simply Vacation, reusing the existing franchise title. Chase and D’Angelo will be reprising their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, though it won’t be in large capacity. They will be visited by Rusty and his wife, played by Ed Helms and Christina Applegate, as they trek their kids across the country to visit Wally World before it closes for good.

The long-running series of lawsuits from the Jerry Siegel heirs against DC Comics and Warner Brothers over the ownership of Superman have hit yet another snag (surprising, perhaps, only the Siegel heirs.) A 2001 contract had the Siegels cede the rights to DC Comics with certain provisions; the Siegels have most recently been trying to reclaim the rights under the assertion that the contract was null and void, alleging DC knowingly did not meet the provisions (chiefly a royalty payment). A Ninth Circuit judge struck down the lawsuit, stating that although the Siegel heirs may have the right to rescind the contract, they have not actually gone through the proper legal channels to do so — breach of contract is not the same as “the contract doesn’t exist”, which has essentially been the Siegel’s assertion in this present case. The Siegels may still have the opportunity to pursue legal action via the alleged breach of contract, but it’s possible they may face issues with the statute of limitations after so long. There are many lessons to be learned here, but chief among them may be “If you’re going to sue somebody, make sure you’re suing them for the right thing.”

Manny Eating is “hearing” that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is getting a major actor to play a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent: Robert Redford. While this would be very surprising news, if it’s true it could also be very good; Redford is certainly a great actor, and could bring a lot to a supporting role in the franchise. Funny thing is, if they hadn’t chosen to go with the Ultimate Universe version of Nick Fury (who was designed to look like Samuel L. Jackson before the films were even in the works), I could see Redford as the main Marvel U. version. Latino Review has heard the same rumor, and says Redford’s character is named Pierce. They also say that UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre has been cast in the role of Batroc the Leaper, French master of the martial art savate. So… now not only are wrestlers being cast in movies, but they’re casting fighters who don’t even have the tentative acting experience of the WWE. If St-Pierre is really Batroc, here’s hoping he proves to be multi-talented.

Ryan Reynolds, speaking in an interview, says he doesn’t have any interest in reprising his role as Green Lantern in a Justice League movie, but that the right script and director could change his mind. He also states that there is a Deadpool script in the works that he loves, but that it’s a very hard R — “nearly NC-17” — and he isn’t sure a studio would risk it.

Dwayne Johnson says the DC Comics scripts he’s previously been loosely attached to — Lobo and Shazam! — are no longer happening. That Lobo has gone away is considerably less surprising than the idea of it actually happening, but it’s a shame Shazam! is going back into wishful thinking territory (though not surprising, as long as it’s been since it was last talked about). Black Adam is a role that I can honestly see Johnson possibly doing well in. Johnson does say he still wants to do a superhero movie eventually; he also wants to do Star Wars, though he hasn’t been approached on it.

While Sam Mendes isn’t going to direct the 24th James Bond film, producer Barbara Broccoli is determined to get him back for a later film in the franchise.

“Time after time, history demonstrates that when people don’t want to believe something, they have enormous skills of ignoring it altogether.”
— Jim Butcher, Dead Beat

About Morgan R. Lewis

Fan of movies and other media
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12 Responses to News Bites: Turtles and Transformers

  1. Looking forward to the inevitable RoboCop vs. Ninja Turtles.

  2. Spikor says:

    They’re going to put Batroc in a movie. Batroc? I know that the first Cap had a campy vibe to it… but Batroc is just one of those characters that I can’t picture being taken seriously on any level.

    You didn’t mention Megan Fox landing April O’Neil. Has that already been debunked?

    • I can’t imagine Batroc being a major character… he’ll probably come across as “just some martial artist” in the film.

      I mentioned Megan Fox being cast in Ninja Turtles a few weeks ago. It’s confirmed that she’s in the movie as “the female lead”. It’s not confirmed that the female lead is April O’Neil. Either way, it doesn’t really bode well, does it?

      • Spikor says:

        I’m pretty sure the confirmation that it is, in fact, April O’Neil landed this week. Not positive… I can never keep track of where I read what, and how reliable it is. That’s why I don’t do News stuff. πŸ˜›

        In my opinion, there’s no doubting what the movie will be like. It’s Transformers all over again. If you want Turtle Ninja action, you’ll be all set. Want to see an interesting play on the dynamics of the relationship of Shredder and Krang? Keep movin’.

        • Not that I’ve seen… the speculation is strongly that it’s April O’Neil, but even as recently as the “four turtles cast” announcement, the producers are still refraining from coming out and saying so.

          And no, there’s not really any question on what it’ll be like. I think the moment it came out that they were going to be aliens instead of mutants, we all knew it was going to be bad… the only question is how bad. To be honest, every bit of news I see keeps making it look worse.

  3. alloogs says:

    Maybe it’s me, but DC could have a hugely cool, and profitable, documentary idea there. If Michael Moore can make a few million slamming the government in theaters, I know there are enough comic geeks to pay to see someone talk about the Joker and Luthor for 2 hours. I’d pay theater price to see it, if it seems well done.

    • I’d pay to see it as well, but I don’t know that the average theatre goer would. I think Moore was only really successful a couple times, and only because he’s such a sensationalist. You may be right though.

  4. Good for Barbara Broccoli. Rooting for her to win in her pursuit of Mendes. Skyfall was the best direct Bond flick ever.

    I can see The Rock as Black Adam, too. That would be awesome. πŸ˜€

    Not surprised Chase and D’angelo’s services could be obtained for a requelmake. If they could sell out to Old Navy, there’s no way theyd resist this!

    • I thought you’d like the Broccoli bit.

      And yeah… assuming the Rock can actually act (I’m still not sure he’s really been put to the test there), he would have made a great Black Adam.

      I’m also unsurprised about Chase and D’Angelo being involved in the new Vacation. Still have pretty mixed feelings about the whole idea, though… I mean, there are only really two good films in the franchise anyway…

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