Big Picture: "Enough With The Batman, Already!"

Batman. Getting sick of this guy.



Paul Walker to star in gritty reboot of The Energizer Bunny

I actually like Paul Walker a lot. He looks like “the guy who comes with the picture frame,” but he’s perfectly willing to throw himself into the most absurd/stupid movie scenarios and hold a straight face – think Kyle McLachlan, only he never found “his” David Lynch.

Anyway, his new movie “Hours” looks like a prime example one of my absolute guiltiest pleasures: Spectacularly-unlikely “and THEN!!!!” story contrivances played as 100% straight melodrama – the sort of movie where watching the rest of the audience actually buy into the hacky, blatantly-manufactured suspense and “investment” is just an extra layer of joy:

Our premise? Walker’s wife has just died from complications during childbirth, and said complications have left the baby alive but hooked up to a ventilator because she hasn’t managed to breath on her own yet…

…and THEN!!! the hospital gets hit by Hurricane Katrina, flooding/half-wrecking the building and knocking out the electricity. There’s a portable generator that’ll keep the ventilator going…

…but THEN!!! it turns out the generator is broken, and will only hold a charge for three minutes at a time; leaving Walker stranded for however long it takes for help to arrive and battling weather, nature (please please please let there be crocodiles!!!), his own lack of sleep and armed-assault by Terrifying Looters… while stopping once every three minutes to wind-up his battery-powered infant!

It’s “Crank 3: But With A Baby This Time!” Bring it on.

Shiny

Two observations about “The Host” (new trailer below):

1.) When was the last time we had a talent-mismatch as profound as Andrew Niccol directing a Stephenie Meyer adaptation? I can’t think of a recent example as striking (no, not “Thor,” smartasses) – it’s like if David Lynch had decided to film the “Gor” series instead of “Dune.”

2.) I really like that the aliens’ “signature” is apparently that all their tools, vehicles, weapons, etc. have a mirrored-chrome finish.

Escape to The Movies: "Musclepocalypse"

Nobody cares about “Identity Thief.” Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” is actually pretty damn good and worth seeing especially if you’ve missed the trailers, but didn’t screen in time for review and is sort-of review-proof. So here’s a video-essay on Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s solo-“comeback” movies both bombing spectacularly.

Also INTERMISSION.

"Justice League" May Be Falling Apart. Already. Again.

BadassDigest reports on a persistent industry rumor that Warner Bros. may be hitting the brakes on their “Justice League” movie – which had previously been on a fast-track to get done in time to open alongside “Avengers 2” in 2015 – supposedly on account of Will Beale’s screenplay terrible and a big reason why they haven’t been able to interest a director yet.

So far, my favorite tertiary gossip to hit in the wake of this is the story that Ben Affleck turned down the job (that part was already widely reported) because Warners’ “condition” was that they also wanted him to play the new Batman in the film. Depressingly, I totally buy that – it’s clear that Warners has no idea what they’re doing on this project, and whether it gets made and fails or dies completely in production people are going to write books about what a colossal fuck-up this has become.

At this point, the future of the DC Movieverse rests solely on the shoulders of Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel.” If that film is good and/or becomes a major, major hit and suddenly Superman – THE lynchpin of the DCU and any hopeful JLA movie – is back on the pop-culture “kick-ass” radar; that could be the kind of invigorating game-changer that “Spider-Man” and “Iron Man” were.

Even still, if WB remains this skittish about “League” now I could easily imagine a scenario where they decide to play it safe and revive some version of the Batman/Superman project again (“It’s like ‘Justice League’ but BETTER, because we don’t have to worry about those hard-to-explain heroes with weird gimmicks like magic-rings, super-speed or a uterus!”) as a kind of warm-up test.

"Happy Birthday"

Not content to continue making it’s own mistakes, “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise (which was actually looking a little better what with Paul Giamatti now officially playing The Rhino) is now intimating that it intends to make Sam Raimi’s mistakes as well…

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This picture of a metallic locker numbered “14” was Tweeted by ASM2 director Marc Webb yesterday, as part of what’s become a succession of cryptic prop-image teases from the now-shooting film. The “Happy Birthday” seems to be in teference to the actor playing Harry Osborn in the movie, but the reason The Internet is flipping out over the image-proper is that in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics “Locker #14” is where Ultimate Peter Parker and Ultimate Eddie Brock found the Ultimate Symbiote Suit that wound up turning Ultimate Eddie Brock into Ultimate Venom. Ultimately.

I actually had to look that up, incidentally – I don’t have any USM trades onhand, and to be frank the series never left much lasting impression on me. Hence why I never put a lot of stock into the various justifications for the stuff I hated in the first movie being “closer to the Ultimate universe.” I know it is, folks – and it wasn’t good there, either.

So… Venom again, possibly as a post-credits tease for Part 3.

Sigh.

For me, Venom belongs on that list of comics characters/stories like Doomsday and “Knightfall” that just aren’t good but could maybe be gutted, skinned and reshaped into something halfway-useful for a movie. What has The Internet riled up about it in this case (apart from refusal to accept that simply seeing Spider-Man and his dull MacFarlane-era 90s foil tussel onscreen won’t be the Greatest Moment Ever) is the connection to the “Happy Birthday!” tweet, which – if toy reeeeeeaaaaaaallllllllyyyyy stretch it – could be taken to imply that it’s Harry Osboron, not Brock, that becomes Black Monsterface Spider-Man. I think that’s how they went in the current, Marvel Movieverse tied-in “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series, so there’s that.

Incidentally, in the Ultimate comics the Ultimate Symbiote is tied into the Ultimate Research being done for Ultimate Oscorp by Ultimate Richard Parker; so this could be another indication that we’re not abandoning that insipid plotline for these sequels. Ultimate Bummer.

Oh For Fuck’s Sake…

That’s it. I’m done. DONE. From now on I only have ONE ironclad rule for who should-be/would-be-good-if tapped to direct this or that “geek” franchise: A.B.A. Anyone But Abrams.

And yes, I’m including Michael Bay, Uwe Boll, Brett Ratner, Joel Schumacher, etc. I will gladly – happily, in fact – take memorably-awful “we’ll learn from this” catatrophes over the continued mediocratization of the so-called ‘nerd-cinema.’ ENOUGH, at long last, with the “good-enough-ing” of what was for a moment there an immensely positive movement in blockbuster-level filmmaking.