Weekly Ketchup: Green Lantern and Ant-Man News, and a Discussion of the Hulk Trailer
Plus news of a possible Robocop refresh
Greg Berlanti, the TV wunderkind behind shows like Dirty Sexy Money, Brothers and Sisters and Eli Stone is eyeing to make his first big budget feature film with a project that is decidedly unlike any of his TV shows (with the possible exception of the Eli Stone dream sequences), cowriting and directing the long-awaited Green Lantern movie. With several different human character having worn the Green Lantern ring since the characters 1940s roots, what and who exactly Green Lantern is depends upon the individual fan, and what their exposure has been. For kids who mostly know the recent Justice League cartoons, it might be John Stewart (being played by rapper Common in the JLA movie, a separate project). The classic hero, I think, however is pilot Hal Jordan, and from what I've heard, that is who Berlanti is focusing on for this movie. Hal Jordan's tenure as Green Lantern is the longest, and with a later career as a destructive villain, the darkest and most interesting character arc that could be played out over a few movies, potentially. Berlanti sounds like he really loves the Green Lantern property, so I'm excited to see what he comes up with.
HEAVY METAL III
Director extraordinaire David Fincher is teaming up with Paramount Pictures to develop a third animated Heavy Metal anthology project, which will feature the contributions of eight or nine of today's most visually creative directors (we hope), including one directed by Fincher himself. For the unitiated, Heavy Metal is a fantasy/sci-fi magazine that is mostly a showcase of European artists who specialize in the bizarre, erotic and visually bold. Its popularity peaked in the 1970s and 1980s (but it's still going), and inspired two previous animated anthology movies, a fairly high profile 1980 release, and a less well known 2000 movie. This is exactly the sort of project that I honestly wouldn't have predicted (since the 2000 edition came and went with so little notice, but with someone like David Fincher involved, all of a sudden, it seems like such an obviously potentially awesome project. Woo. Of course, David Fincher is also the kind of creative person who seems to attach himself to a lot of stuff over the years. This one, though, being an animated short, probably does have a chance of him getting it done sooner than say, any one of his other 11 or 12 projects in development. Fincher's next live-action film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, will be released late this year.
REMAKES! THEY'RE GONNA LIVE FOREVER... BABY, YOU'LL REMEMBER THEIR NAMES
MGM announced this week that they've hired a 23-year-old MTV dance choreographer, Kevin Tancharoen, to direct a feature film remake of Fame, that 1980 chestnut about the lives of students at a New York performing arts high school. Gosh, a "high school musical", what an original concept for the early 21st century youth market! Someone like Disney should get right on this... maybe do a couple of made-for-TV projects first, and then make a third movie for a theatrical release. Anyway, there's no word yet about whether the remake will be literal enough to actually include the original movie's songs, if there will be all new music, or really, how much singing there will be (the dancing is a given, though).
MGM isn't stopping there, however. AICN found a press release today that includes references to other film franchises that the studio is planning on focusing on, and in the remake department, the list includes The Outer Limits, Deathwish and Robocop. I'm fairly ambivalent about The Outer Limits and Deathwish, with the first just being a nice umbrella title for a new anthology series, and Deathwish being a fairly formulaic 1970s series that I never really invested much interest in, besides just enjoying Charles Bronson being a badass. Robocop, however, as the AICN guys points out, is a trickier concept to bring into the 21st century and really do justice to the first movie better than its sequels did. Robocop was violent nearly to the point of satire, but it was done more of a social message than just for the sake of exploitation.
HOW MANY BIG BUDGET DISASTER MOVIES ARE DIRECTED BY TWO TIME OSCAR WINNERS?
After winning two Oscars for The Incredibles and Ratatouille, one of Pixar's top directors, Brad Bird, has signed to return to work for Warner Bros, the studio that majorly botched the release of The Iron Giant, back in those grey days when animation was not seen as being particularly financially promising theatrically. Bird is giving the studio a second chance on his live-action debut, a disaster movie called 1906 set during the San Francisco earthquake and the resulting fires that destroyed most of the city. The story revolves around a college student whose investigation of his father's death leads him to uncover a conspiracy that makes San Francisco vulnerable to the impending disaster. Bird is reworking a script by John Logan (The Aviator) which has been kicking around in development for quite a while, I seem to remember (dating back to the post-Titanic time when every studio wanted their own big budget disaster movie). Just another example of how long projects take to get produced in Hollywood sometimes, if they get made at all.
TODAY, WE CELEBRATE OUR...
Wolfgang Petersen (Troy, Poseidon) has signed on with Columbia (Sony) to direct Uprising, a sci-fi action movie about humanity's attempt to fight back after an alien race has successfully invaded and taken over Earth, which of course, sounds a lot like Independence Day, but that was also now over 10 years ago, so I guess it's fair game to have its concept redone by another big budget event movie. It's not like alien invasions are some sort of super original thing that hasn't been done in some way or another dozens of times (just that this particular byline does sound a lot like ID4, or Battlefield Earth, I suppose). The script is being worked on by Charles Leavitt, who also wrote K-Pax, which also had an alien-related themes (sort of).
Francis Ford Coppola's (Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now) is set to start filming in late March in Buenos Aires on his next film, Tetro. Reportedly based on Coppola's own experiences, Tetro is the tale of the conflicts that arise between the male members of a family known for its creativity, focusing on a multigenerational family of Italian-Argentinians. The cast is led by Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66) (replacing Matt Dillon who had been previously announced), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) and Maribel Verdu (Y Tu Mama Tambien), and you can probably expect Tetro to be released in Oscar season, late 2009 or so.
ANT-MAN, ANT-MAN, DOES WHATEVER AN... ANT CAN
Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright revealed recently that he's working on the second draft of the Ant-Man adaptation, which promises to be a slightly less comedic film than what he's known for (but not humorless, I would guess), including the news that the story will actually involve both men who have called themselves Ant-Man in the comics: Dr. Hank Pym and criminal-turned-good-guy, Scott Lang. I think it's very interesting that both are included, because Ant-Man is probably one of the "Avengers Prelude" movies (along with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, etc), I can't help but wonder if this movie might not actually produce more than Ant-Man. If Scott Lang comes out of the movie being Ant-Man, that could leave room for Hank Pym to become Giant-Man/Goliath in the Avengers movie (really big guy instead of a really tiny guy). Anyway, I can't say I've been super-fascinated with movies about teensy-tiny people (The Incredible Shrinking Man, etc), but the idea of a superhero who ride around on a flying ant is inherently cool on some level. He's got a massive white helmet too.
HULK SMASH... RHINO-LOOKING GREY CGI MONSTER
If you've turned on your computer this week, you probably know that the Incredible Hulk trailer debuted Wednesday on MTV. The good news, no... awesome news, is that the Hulk himself looks pretty much perfect. Understandably, the CGI work is not done yet, so there may be some shading (or whatever) issues, but just to compare this Hulk with the Ang Lee version, he looks much more like the Hulk I've read about for thirty some years now. Not faring as well, however, is the Abomination, a classic Hulk villain who has had *some* revisionism applied to his look over the years, but basically, his classic look is a very tall reptilian monstrosity with big triangular ears, all sorts of ugly bumps on his face, and huge teeth. The Abomination of the comics is taller, and less dense than the Hulk, and has his super strength all the time, whereas the Hulk has to "Hulk out" by getting angry to fuel his strength. Anyway... the Abomination in this trailer looks pretty much nothing like any comic form I've ever seen for him, and instead looks a bit like the Spider-Man villain "Rhino". Anyway, director Louis Leterrier has done a text commentary for the trailer, and he defends the Abomination's look, but I'm not really buying it. The action still looks great (a 26 minute Hulk vs Abomination destruction fest at the end!), but I'm just frustrated that a movie that seems to have so much going for it flaked out on something that should be so obligatory as getting a classic villain's look at least close.
YOU WILL BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY... AGAIN
Director Bryan Singer confirmed this week that he will indeed be returning for the sequel to Superman Returns (probably to be titled Superman: Man of Steel), and addressed concerns about how he adapted the character the first time around. Singer says the goal for the second movie is to up the ante, with a higher body count and "unrelenting terror." So far, the world has seen five big budget Superman movies, and it is true that none of them (except maybe Superman II) really pitted the Big Blue Boy Scout against a danger that was truly, emotionally frightening enough to warrant the abilities of such an unstoppable hero. Yes, the challenges were "big", but not you know, "Doomsday" big (I speak of the villain). Not that I would necessarily want to see the "Death of Superman" storyline done (actually, I specifically don't), but something like that would be preferable to the Lex Luthor storylines, especially considering what a lame villain he has been in the movies. I'll give Bryan Singer free advice right here... an awesome Superman movie villain would be: DARKSEID.
A HARBINGER OF X-MEN-ISH MOVIES TO COME
Paramount acquired the rights this week to Harbinger, a relatively now-forgotten 1990s comic book series published by Valiant Comics, and created by former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter. I never read Harbinger, but what I gather is that its story involved young people with amazing abilities, in a (non-costume-wearing) spin on the X-Men, Marvel mutants, etc. That's also a concept that NBC's Heroes basically does as well. Anyway, if this movie gets made, the director that Paramount has in mind is Brett Ratner, who came aboard for the third X-Men movie, and turned out a loud, sloppy mess of an ensemble hero movie. Well, at least with Harbinger, it's a superhero movie that not even most die-hard comic book fans have a whole lot invested in. So, he can basically do whatever he wants, and with low expectations, maybe we can only come out winners. Except, on a grander scale, whenever $100 million or so goes to a big budget superhero movie you don't care about, that's potentially one that a fan would really love, that doesn't get made.
A recent interview with Andy Serkis revealed some more details about the upcoming trilogy of motion capture movies based on the classic "TinTin" adventure comics being produced by Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg. Namely, that Spielberg's movie will come first, Jackson's will be second, and the director of the third is still unknown (and the list of rumored candidates is legion, including James Cameron, I've heard). Serkis also confirmed his own role in the movies, as Captain Haddock, the persistently cranky and blustrous bearded sailor who is one of TinTin's most frequent companions.
That's it for this week. Write me via my MySpace page with any hot news or whatever you want to share: http://www.myspace.com/gregdean88.
Greg Dean Schmitz