"Mortal Kombat" Opens the Fan-Film Pandora’s Box

I’m of two minds about the new high-end breed of “fan films,” i.e. unlicensed adaptations of properties made by professional-level filmmakers. A lot of them are good, a lot of them are bad, and I won’t lie and say I wouldn’t relish to opportunity to take a shot at one myself had I the resources… but I can understand the criticism that people at that level might be better served coming up with their own material; particularly since the not-so-secret “dream” behind a lot of such projects – getting hired to make the “real” thing – hasn’t happened in any meaningful way yet.

Well, now it has. Warner Bros. liked Kevin Tancharoen’s “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” short (or, at least, the online reaction to it) so much that they brought him on to do the “Legacy” webseries… and now he’s getting to helm the real thing – a feature-film “reboot” of the series.

Um… yeah?

I mean, good for him certainly, but I really, truly hated “Rebirth” – just the ultimate apotheosis of the “gritty realism” style of adaptation that I’m completely, utterly sick to fucking death of. Yes, fine, it was well-directed and it was nifty that he got “name” B-list actors to show up, but right around the point where Reptile – in the games a monster from another dimension – shows up as deformed serial-killer I checked the hell out. Fuck that shit. “Legacy” was marginally better, but never rose above “here are spot-on imitations of my favorite beats from recent genre-films but with Mortal Kombat guys in it.”

I’m hoping, at least, that the film is NOT a continuation of either previous effort and actually tries to capture the games a little better – part of the reason I loved the recent game reboot was that it so enthusiastically embraced the Kung Fu meets metal album-cover in a halloween store feel of the original games, with absolutely zero effort made to cover up the high-camp insanity of the premise and characters. A movie of that, basically an ultra-gory “Big Trouble in Little China?” THAT I want to watch.

In any case, the bigger story here is that if/when this actually works out, “make fan-film, get hired” is going to REALLY take hold in the up-and-comer film world – get ready to see a lot of recent filmschool grads flooding YouTube with high-gloss takes on their favorite games and old cartoons hoping to catch a rights-holder’s eye.

On a completely-unrelated note, anyone have a ballpark figure on what a photo-real CGI Bowser would cost?

Harbingers of Fall

If I was sketching out an absurdist one-sentence parody of a present-day Oscar-baity project; “a Sandra Bullock movie where Tom Hanks dies on 9-11, told from the perspective of a precocious pre-teen boy, directed by Stephen Daldry with a trailer set to that same fucking U2 song” would make the shortlist. Easily.

In spite of that, I’d say this trailer for “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” actually looks pretty good…

Seriously, though – is there ANYTHING more irritating than hearing “Where The Streets Have No Name” kick up on ANY soundtrack?

Avengers: Earth’s Mugging-est Heroes

Anachronistic puff-piece factory Entertainment Weekly has a bunch of set photos from “The Avengers” this issue, which is reason enough to make it a “cover story” in order to snare wayward fans digging from scraps of information.

Less excusable? The absolutely horrible cover, clearly fitted-together from unrelated images (everyone’s eyeline is off) and demonstrative of Marvel not having a finished look at The Hulk ready for distribution yet – otherwise why would they have used that ghastly shot of Mark Ruffalo giving a duckface?

He Speaks For The Trees

From a pure entertainment standpoint, it’s been been kind of delightful to watch American “conservatives” turn into a caricature of themselves – i.e. going from “capital punishment is grim but necessary” to applauding Texas’ high execution-rate, and adjusting their environmental policy from the generally-reasonable opinion that nature/wildlife should not be placed above commerce/employment on the scale of importance to trying their darndest to become “Captain Planet” villains re: global-warming denial, Hummer-worship, “Drill Baby Drill!” etc. Hell, if they weren’t still potentially electable Republicans would be a real riot.

In any case, below you’ll find the poster for 2012’s “The Lorax,” which – thanks to the above-described state of the union – will undoubtedly be one of the most needlessly “controversial” big movies to be released next year…

Film is, of course, an adaptation of the beloved children’s book by Dr. Seuss in which a magical creature tries – unsuccessfully – to convince an industrialist that his factory is despoiling a wildnerness. Or, as you’ll be hearing it described on Fox News: “Socialist Propaganda Brainwashing Your Children Into Environmentalism As A Scheme To Enable Communist Muslims To Take Yer Freedoms!!!”

I’m a little concerned about this one, myself – apparently they’ve added some additional characters, which feels a lot like a gateway to cheaping-out on the original downer ending. But even if it’s not all that good, the “blowback” should be entertaining as hell.

Somebody Get Oroboros a Losenge..

Good news, producers of “Battleship”: your movie will soon no longer be everyone’s go-to example of are-you-fucking-kidding-me licensed-property adaptations. Lionsgate has given the go-ahead to a feature-length film based NOT on the video-game “Dead Island” …but on the trailer for the game.

For my non-gamer readers, “Dead Island” is basically every other fucking zombie game/movie ever, except this time it’s on a resort island and therefore toooooootally different. The main reason that it achieved s noteworthy level of anticipation was that it was initially advertised with a pretty remarkable trailer, seen here:

So… yeah, pretty cool short CGI zombie movie. Of course, those aren’t the in-game graphics. Or the main characters. And that bleak/sombre tone isn’t really replicated in the game. But you can see why it briefly became a viral-sensation. In any case, since the trailer is what drove the hype and got Hollywood interested in the first place, apparently the film will take it’s cues from IT as opposed to the game-proper.

For those keeping track: Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, Kirby, Metal Gear, sonic etc? All still lacking (proper) movies. Dawn-of-The-Dead-but-in-a-different-place-and-interactive #1,698? Coming soon to a theater near you.

"Final" Catwoman Looks Like This

JustJared (which I despise linking to as it’s just the worst kind of “People”-esque paparazzi hit-baiting celebrity site, but fair is fair) has snaps from the “Dark Knight” set of Anne Hathaway in the ‘default mode’ of the Catwoman outfit that underwhelmed everyone a month or two ago. Wouldn’t you know, it actually looks  a lot better; which maybe means that “spy” photographers are now doing a better job of promoting this movie than Warners is (or maybe means that I was right…)

As it turns out, everyone and their great aunt was right that the silly-in-a-bad-way goggles seen in all the other photos convert into silly-in-a-good-way cat ears when not in use, but evidently left out that she’s wearing a wraparound eye-mask under them. Also, it appears that Nolan and company have at long last found one wholly-impractical superhero design-staple that they wanted to keep: Catwoman is doing her thing in high-heels (I’d be inclined to say they’re just to make her look taller; but in some of the shots she’s actually running in the damn things…)

Y’know what I like about this? Other than the obvious, I mean? That the basic design skips right over the more recent comics and “Batman Returns” and instead looks more than anything like a quasi-practical version of the getup from the Adam West series – which is otherwise the antithesis of the oh-so-serious mode that this whole series has been running in up to this point.

"Lone Ranger" May Ride Again – or – Why Everything Sucks: Exhibit A

Disney’s proposed movie retooling of “The Lone Ranger” – a movie that nobody asked for, in a genre that doesn’t make money, whose two most-recent comparative cousins (Green Hornet and Cowboys & Aliens) both bombed spectacularly, being reworked in such a fashion as to alienate the dwindling fanbase that none the less compromises the ONLY people likely to give a shit, so troubled as a production as to have become an industry-wide laughingstock – is apparently close to getting a second lease on life, according to Deadline.

Why? Mainly because the good citizens of Earth just handed Disney another boatload of cash to watch Johnny Depp mug his way through a shitty fourth “Pirates” movie, also a little bit because (supposedly) Depp actually wants to bring some kind of mystic/main-character version of Tonto to the big screen.

But I’d say it’s ALSO probably because Disney’s non-animated/non-Pixar tentpole slate isn’t in spectacular shape right now. It’s hard to notice because nobody spins bad news like The Mouse; but the fact is Disney doesn’t have an all-but garaunteed blockbuster on the schedule other than “The Avengers” this coming May. Their other “big” projects – “Oz: The Great and Powerful” and “John Carter” – are both HUGE question-marks at this point: “Oz” has James Franco, not himself a proven boxoffice draw, in an “origin-story” for the Wizard of Oz being directed by Sam Raimi, who’s had some difficulty getting back on his feet after getting sucker-punched off the “Spider-Man” franchise… the only place up to this point where he’s been able to back up his considerable fanboy street-cred with serious boxoffice. “John Carter,” meanwhile, is supposedly seriously overbudget ($250 Million officially, said to be waaaaay more than that unofficially) had a trailer that interested pre-aware fans but confused the crap out of everyone else; capped off by a reception at D23 that was largely described as underwhelming-to-disasterous by the very web-press most eager to get a look at it.

That’s two potential big-budget duds in the offing, and it’ll be doubly-humiliating for The Mouse if “Avengers” is the only project that makes money – since it was already in planning/production before Marvel was part of Team Mickey, the narrative will be that while the subdivisions (Marvel and Pixar) are hitmakers “Disney proper” doesn’t know what it’s doing. Incidentally; “Oz,” “Carter” and “Ranger” all “belong” to the same producer team; Rich Ross and Sean Bailey. Thus, however much of an expensive mess “Lone Ranger’s” production might already be, the aforementioned knowledge that audiences evidently cannot get enough of Johnny Depp galavanting through bloated CGI setpieces is hard to ignore from a financial standpoint.

Incidentally, how likely do you suppose it is that someone at The Mouse has already floated the idea of trying to fit Depp into “Tron 3” as some kind of waaaaaaaacky program?