January 17, 2017

Tag Archives: James Vanderbilt

“Independence Day: Resurgence” hopes to capture nostalgia 20 years later

You could generously call the decision to hide Independence Day: Resurgence from critics an “unconventional” choice. 20th Century Fox initially wasn’t screening the movie at all before it opened, then opted to only show it earlier today at a press screening hours after it hit screens, that’s not much of a sign of confidence. It’s odd too, considering how well regarded the original is and how well nostalgia worked for Jurassic World last year. Well, I hate to be the one to say it, but they were right to hide this one. It’s out now and likely will do strong business, but the quality drop between Independence Day and Independence Day: Resurgence is staggering. What a shame too.
I’m sure everyone knows what this flick is about, but just quickly, I’ll state the obvious that it’s a sequel to the disaster epic that more or less re-invented the modern summer blockbuster. Set 20 years after the first one, we catch up with almost every character from the first one (minus Will Smith, who has his character killed off since he passed on the project), along with a new generation of folks who will become heroes. You see, while Earth has integrated alien technology and made a bit of a utopia, the aliens have been planning revenge and are on their way. Once they arrive, everything is just bigger (though not better) than last time. I won’t even pretend to tell you where the plot goes, but it doesn’t make a lick of sense, that’s for sure. Roland Emmerich returns to direct, as well as co-write with his original partner Dean Devlin, who also had screenplay help from James Vanderbilt, James A. Woods, and Nicholas Wright. The cast consists of returning champions Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, and Robert Loggia, as well as newcomers Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, William Fichtner, Sela Ward, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Joey King, Deobia Oparei, Travis Tope, and more.

Having literally just seen it at that previously mentioned press screening, it’s my sad duty to report that this film is atrociously bad. Not only does it pick and choose what plot points from the first one it wants to follow, it just disposes of any of the character work that made you care. Emmerich doesn’t bother with personalities, so the orgy of destruction is as faceless as can be. Smith was […]

“Truth” seeks to be a second Oscar vehicle for Cate Blanchett

In some ways, the film Truth is the “other” film in this year’s awards race, which can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation. It’s the “other” Cate Blanchett Oscar player besides Carol, and the “other” journalism tale this season besides Spotlight. I’ll have plenty more on both Carol and Spotlight in the weeks to come, trust me there (especially in the latter’s case), but today I want to look at James Vanderbilt’s Truth, which opens in limited release this week and is not just a vehicle for Blanchett, but for Robert Redford as well. Is it up to snuff for the Academy? Well, I’ll tell you a bit more below…
The movie is an adaptation of the book by Mary Mapes and a look at the controversy surrounding those who worked at the news magazine show 60 Minutes and the CBS evening news. Blanchett plays Mapes, a producer, while Redford plays famous anchor Dan Rather, both of whom would get caught in a scandal after putting together a report on then President George W. Bush and his military service. They initially think they’ve done a solid journalistic piece, but a firestorm of criticism erupts in the aftermath, leading both to eventually lose their jobs. This is a look at the dangers of reporting on those in power and how one wrong move can cost you your career. Vanderbilt writes and directs, while the cast in addition to Blanchett and Redford includes Topher Grace, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, Elisabeth Moss, Dermot Mulroney, and Dennis Quaid. The cast is solid, trust me there, no pun intended.
Truth does suffer in comparison to both of the aforementioned titles, whether you’re comparing it as a Blanchett vehicle or a journalism story. Taken on its own though, away from Carol and Spotlight, it’s a solid, if overly dramatic look at a moment in time when no one wound up looking good on either side of the debate. Blanchett and Redford are quite good, while scribe Vanderbilt makes a mostly successful directing debut. In some ways, it treads similar ground to a plot line on the show The Newsroom, but this is far more based on reality, having come from Mapes’ own book. It might be too small for Oscar attention, but Blanchett’s presence on the precursor circuit will give it a fighting chance.
Speaking of awards, what kind of a campaign might this […]

J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve: Ten potential first time writer/director nominees for Oscar in 2015

Much like I’ve been saying, of the many storylines that begin during awards season, few are usually as compelling as the ones centered around who’s most due for an Academy Award. I think that it’s usually pretty satisfying to see a former bridesmaid finally become a bride, as it were. The other side of the coin, which is just as exciting to me, if when a first timer can finally get in the Academy’s good graces. Continuing this list trend I’ve been, below you can see a list I made up of ten filmmakers who’ve never been nominated for Oscars but are in contention this year. I’ve more or less ranked them by how due they are, and just to be fair, as per the usual. Take a look at the writers/directors below and as always, I hope you all enjoy!
Here now are the ten writers and/or directors most due for their first Oscar nomination:
10. Judd Apatow – A filmmaker who traffics in comedy, Apatow had one of this most well received titles this year in Trainwreck. He’s always been more likely to be nominated for his writing than his directing, but anything is possible, especially considering he didn’t work on this script. Apatow is also a producer here, so if a Best Picture nomination can happen, he can finally join the club.
9. John Crowley – Here’s a below the radar contender. Crowley’s Brooklyn is looking like a possibly safe bet to score with the Academy in a number of categories, but could Best Director be one of them? Crowley might be a longer shot among the possible Best Picture nominees, but time will tell in that regard. He’s definitely going to be a player, that’s for sure.
8. Alex Garland – Mostly known as a writer, Garland made his directorial debut this year with Ex Machina. Almost out of nowhere, it became a crossover success, sparking some Oscar buzz. While his screenplay is the more likely nominee than his direction, both will have trouble against more prestigious titles. Garland is worth keeping an eye on though, as he’s well respected within the industry for his genre work.
7. Derek Cianfrance – You can almost feel the greatness radiate from the work of Cianfrance. We’re still waiting to see if his contender The Light Between Oceans comes out this year or not, but if it does…watch out. The odds favor a […]

Spider-Man scribe snared for sequel

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Do you think Sony/Coljmbia has faith in what James Vanderbilt was able to do with the anticipated Spider-Man reboot currently being filmed by director Marc Webb?
The screenwriter received a serious vote off confidence when the studio recently hired him to begin penning a planned sequel … even before “The Amazing Spider-Man” wraps or reaches theaters.
Vanderbilt “had a meeting with the Spider-Man filmmakers and studio execs yesterday outlining his take, getting a thumbs up, and will now begin writing,” THR reports.
The current production is expected to wrap its filming in mid-April. It stars “Social Network” collaborator Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as his love interest, Gwen Stacy.
Webb’s “Amazing Spider-Man” will be in theaters on July 3, 2012. Now we’re left to wonder if it will conclude with a tease for the second movie, or possibly set up a trilogy like Sam Raimi recently attempted.
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Martin Sheen joins “Spider-Man,” and Sally Field might be next

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Some “Spider-Man” casting news is hitting the Interwebs this evening as Marc Webb rounds out his big-budget reboot.
Since we know the plot, conceived by James Vanderbilt, will focus on Peter Parker and his masked hero during his high school years, Webb and his already cast lead, Andrew Garfield, is going to need an Uncle Ben. And Variety reports Martin Sheen is in final negotiations to play Peter’s doomed relative.
But who will play the legendary Aunt May? Hours after announcing Sheen’s interest, the trade says Sally Field has been “offered” the role and is considering joining the production ahead of its December start.
What else do we know about Spidey? Well, Rhys Ifans is on board as The Lizard. And Emma Stone of “Easy A” will play Spidey’s love interest, Gwen Stacey. I think Sheen’s an excellent choice for Uncle Ben, though I wonder if he’ll survive long enough to appear in a few installments now that they’re not doing the traditional origin story that Raimi adapted in his first “Spider-Man.”
As for Field, I’m unsure. In a way, I wish Webb would just invite Rosemary Harris to return, as she nailed to role in Raimi’s films. She and J.K. Simmons would be the only actors I’d hold over from Raimi’s universe. Sadly, it ain’t happening.
“Spider-Man” will be in theaters in 2012.
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Rhys Ifans cast as (unidentified) villain in next “Spider-Man” film

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Well that didn’t take very long.
Sony just announced that Rhys Ifans of “Pirate Radio” and “Notting Hill” will play the villain, opposite Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, in the next installment of Spider-Man from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.
Here’s the release, in part:
The film, to be directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and produced by Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will begin production in December and will be released in theaters nationwide in 3D on July 3, 2012.
Commenting on the announcement, [Matt] Tolmach said, “We have been very fortunate to attract some of the best actors working today to play the villains in the Spider-Man movies, and it is exciting to see that trend continue with Rhys Ifans. After seeing his performance in our upcoming film ‘Anonymous,’ we’re in awe of his talent and think he’s the perfect choice to take on this role.”
The filmmakers prefer to not reveal which character Ifans will be playing in the forthcoming film.
Webb added, “What sets the Spider-Man villains apart is the complexity of their relationships with Peter Parker. Rhys’ incredible ability to embody both warmth and rage makes him the ideal choice for this character.”
So they don’t want to say who Ifans is playing yet? Interesting. I wonder how long Sony will be able to keep that cat in the bag. Given Ifans’ look, I think we can count out Venom … though that villain has been rumored. Unless they are skipping the normal Eddie Brock look like Sam Raimi did with Topher Grace.
Ifans certainly could pass for The Vulture, if he’s willing to shave his head. He’d also make an excellent Carnage, if the studio wanted to go down the symbiote route but avoid Venom altogether.
Interesting news, and a good choice out of left field. More info on Webb’s “Spider-Man” as it develops!
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‘Easy A’s’ Emma Stone joins Andrew Garfield in “Spider-Man”

HollywoodNews.com: Emma Stone has been cast as the female lead in the upcoming “Spider-Man” film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, it was announced today by Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures. Stone has been tapped for the role of Gwen Stacy opposite Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. The film, to be directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and produced by Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will begin production in December and will be released in theaters nationwide in 3D on July 3, 2012.
The casting continues an association between Sony Pictures Entertainment and the actress, who previously starred in “Superbad,” “The House Bunny,” and “Zombieland,” all for Columbia Pictures; she may currently be seen in Screen Gems’ hit comedy “Easy A,” and takes a cameo role in Screen Gems’ upcoming “Friends with Benefits.”
Commenting on the announcement, Tolmach said, “It’s been an incredible journey for us to watch Emma’s star rise as an actress. She is extraordinarily talented and has a very special on-screen spark that is perfect for this role. Given her history with the studio, casting her in one of our most important franchises is a real thrill.”
Webb added, “The chemistry between Andrew and Emma was stunning and made Emma the clear choice. At the heart of the story of Peter Parker is not only the amazing Spider-Man, but also an ordinary teenager who is wondering what he has to do to get the girl. Andrew and Emma will bring everything audiences expect to these roles, but also make them their own. Much to my surprise, it was fun to find out that our choice for Gwen (Emma) is also a natural blonde.”
EMMA STONE can currently be seen starring in Screen Gems’ hit comedy “Easy A.” Next year, she will star in Warner Bros.’ “Crazy, Stupid, Love” opposite Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling and in “The Help,” the adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel; she also takes a cameo role in Screen Gems’ “Friends with Benefits” and will voice a role in DreamWorks Animation’s comedy “The Croods.” Stone’s recent credits include “Paperman,” “Zombieland,” “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” “The House Bunny,” “The Rocker,” and “Superbad.”
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Emma Stone about to be cast as Mary Jane Watson in “Spider-Man” reboot?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: After “Easy A,” most critics predicted big things for charismatic starlet Emma Stone.
They had no idea how right they were.
Stone is about to be offered the role of Mary Jane Watson in Marc Webb’s anticipated reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise, according to Deadline. This after actresses Dianna Agron (“Glee”) and Georgina Haig (“Wasted on the Young”) were linked to the film as contenders for the coveted role.
Deadline reporter Mike Fleming says Webb also will be filling the role of Gwen Stacy, who is Peter Parker’s first girlfriend in the Marvel Comics. The presence of both Stacy and Watson suggests that Webb’s “Spider-Man,” penned by James Vanderbilt, will draw its inspirations from later animated series like “The Spectacular Spider-Man,” which was set in high school but featured both female characters.
Of course, Andrew Garfield of “The Social Network” and “Never Let Me Go” has landed the lead role of Spider-Man. Other rumors circling around the Internet say Sony is casting for the villain Venom, and is eyeballing Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but that has not been confirmed.
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Photo courtesy of PRPhotos.com.

DVD Review: “Kick-Ass” hurls the controversial Hit Girl to home video

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: HollywoodNews.com stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we review:
Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” could be viewed as the anti-“Batman Begins,” and in a strange way, that’s a good thing.
While both detail a superhero’s rise to power, the protagonist at the heart of Christopher Nolan’s origin story has valuable resources, authentic skills, a legitimate beef with society, and the power to make a difference.
That’s not necessarily the case with Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a mild-mannered teenager who becomes the costumed crime-fighter Kick-Ass after being mugged one afternoon, but quickly realizes he’s in way over his head. Kick-Ass can’t hang with bona-fide heroes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz). And after interfering with the criminal activities of Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), Kick-Ass angers a volatile foe … and gives birth to a potential nemesis in Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).
Those who protested the excessive violence of Vaughn’s serial thriller likely haven’t picked up a comic in decades. Clearly, though, Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman adore the medium and worship Mark Millar’s source book, treating Kick-Ass’s ascension with reverence and spending just enough time on Mintz-Plasse’s character to make his eventual conversion appropriately chilling. And yes, Moretz and Cage steal the show as the deranged father-daughter crime-fighting duo, though how their actions could be considered shocking years after Batman tutored Robin in the art of violence is a mystery.
While “Kick-Ass” and “Batman Begins” have their differences, they each deserve credit for approaching the comic book genre from viciously new perspectives, successfully breathing new life into an ever-shifting storytelling method.
Specifications for the DVD and Blu-ray are as follows:
• Ass-Kicking Bonus View Mode (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive) – Synchronous with the feature film, this innovative multi-media presentation incorporates video and audio commentary, behind-the-scenes clips and illustrative graphics with Co-Writer/Producer/Director Matthew Vaughn, plus cast and crew providing an all-access perspective on Kick-Ass
• “A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass “ documentary (Blu-ray Disc Exclusive)
• “It’s On! The Comic Book Origin of Kick-Ass” featurette
• Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Matthew Vaughn
• “The Art of Kick-Ass” gallery
• Marketing Archive
• BD Touch and Metamenu Remote
• Lionsgate Live™ enabled, featuring extra content for Internet-connected players
• Enhanced for D-Box™ Motion Control Systems
*Subject to change
• Standard Definition DVD Copy of the feature film
DISC […]

Andrew Garfield to play Peter Parker in ‘Spider-Man’

HollywoodNews.com: After a comprehensive worldwide casting search, Andrew Garfield has been chosen to portray Peter Parker when Spider-Man swings back onto the screen in 3D on July 3, 2012. The new film will begin production in early December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.
Today’s confirmation culminates what has been one of the most eagerly anticipated casting announcements in recent memory. Bloggers, pop culture speculators, and everyday fans have pored over and analyzed every conceivable online rumor in an attempt to discover the identity of the next actor to play Peter Parker. Garfield will immediately begin preparing for the coveted role.
The Spider-Man franchise is one of the most successful in film history and the three previous motion pictures have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office.
On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, “Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor’s work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker.”
Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, President of Columbia Pictures said, “Spider-Man is a classic superhero — a young man who balances his responsibility to serve humanity and crush evil with the shyness and normalcy of someone struggling to find himself. The role demands an extraordinary actor. You need someone who can magically transform himself from Peter Parker into Spider-Man. An actor who will depict the vulnerability of youth and the strength and confidence of a legendary figure at the same moment. We have found that actor in Andrew Garfield. From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker.”
Producer Avi Arad added, “I’m incredibly excited about Andrew Garfield. In the Spider-Man tradition, we were looking for a smart, sensitive, and cool new Peter Parker who can inspire us and make us laugh, cry, and cheer. We believe we have found the perfect choice to take on this role and lead us into the future.”
Producer Laura Ziskin said, “We are thrilled to have Andrew Garfield for this new incarnation of Spider-Man under Marc […]

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