Friday, March 16, 2007

FILM: Cate Blanchett Joins Indy 4

The oscar-nominated actress will adventure with Harrison Ford in Lucasfilm's next epic.

The extremely talented Cate Blanchett has been cast in Indiana Jones 4. Blanchett isn't a stranger to franchise films, appearing in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and has worked in a handful of recent successes such as Babel, Notes on a Scandal, and The Aviator. She also acts in the upcoming Bob Dylan bio pic I'm Not There along with Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Adrien Brody, Julianne Moore, and others. Blanchett will most likely play the powerful love interest in Indy 4.

I appreciate this casting choice. While Blanchett certainly wasn't my first choice for the role, I think she will be great in the part. She has a sense of power that is absent with most actresses in Hollywood and she really transforms into every character she takes on. Cate Blanchett may not be playing Galadriel or Katherine Hepburn but you can be certain she'll will find a way to twist the role in her favour.

What do you guys think about this casting choice? Does Cate Blanchett have what it takes to beat Alison Doody, Kate Capshaw, Karen Allen, and all the other love interests from previous Indiana Jones adventures?

Check back here for more news on Indy 4 as the film develops.


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

VIDEO GAMES: Halo 3 in September?

Sources say the high-profile shooter will ship two months earlier than expected.

An annonymous source has told IGN that Bungie and Microsoft plan to ship Halo 3 in September hoping to beat the holiday rush. If this is accomplished the game would be able to establish a large market (like it doesn't have one already) at least two months before Sony or Nintendo would be able to return fire.

This is great news if true. I can't wait for the next Halo and the sooner it releases the better, as long as it isn't rushed. I have been yearning for the third installment of the series for ages and I can't wait to get it up and running on my 360.

Bungie is also putting out their Halo 3 beta this spring, giving gamers a chance to test out a portion of the game well-before it ships. I'll post my impressions of that experience as soon as I'm able to play it.


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Grifter & Midnighter #1 Review

Two of Wildstorm's top-guns collide in this six issue mini-series.

I am a HUGE Grifter fan. I don't know what it is about the character but he is just awesome. Now, that being said, I had really been looking forward to Wildstorm's Grifter & Midnighter mini-series. The only other Grifter book on the shelves is the main WildC.A.T.S. title (which has been months in-between issues) and I wanted more of the masked assassin's comics to read. Grifter & Midnighter had the potential to fill that void. Unfortunately the premier issue didn't give the best first impression.

One of my complaints with this first book is the writing. Chuck Dixon has really been around the block when it comes to comics, and usually does a fairly decent job, but this issue felt really cheesy and dull. Most of the dialogue spoken between characters are throwaway one-liners and cliche phrases that don't even apply to the scene. The story is a very simple one but it's handled in an extremely messy fashion. Plot points are convoluted and sloppy and Dixon molds the characters flat as paper, making it hard to care for them or the conflict at hand. I felt myself gagging reading some of the material in this issue and I was tempted to put the book down at times, eventually gaining enough courage to force my way through it.

Another problem I have with the book is that Grifter is nowhere to be found. The character gets a few panels here and there but is generally absent from the issue. Even in the five or so pages where we see him, he's just chilling at a table. What's cool about that? I want to see Grifter rocking the socks off of some baddies, not taking a lunch break. I guess they are just saving the guy for later issues, building the reader's anticipation for the character.

One highlight of the issue though is the art. Ryan Benjamin does a fairly good job with the characters he's given and manages to bring life to the otherwise static scenes with his expressions and gestures. Hopefully this guy gets hired to do a big project after this mini-series because I really like his stuff so far.

The first issue of Grifter & Midnighter was a letdown. While the art is good, the writing of Chuck Dixon is piss-poor, reminding me of a really bad B-movie. The issue is also all about Midnighter and, while he is a cool character, I'd much rather have the spotlight focused on Grifter.

Am I being too harsh with this opinion on the book? Tell me what you think, post a comment.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DVD: Casino Royale DVD Review

Sony Pictures' two-disc release of Casino Royale shoots to kill.

Casino Royale is definitely worth owning on DVD. It's the best Bond film in years, arguably since the Connery days, and it showcases the debut of Daniel Craig as 007. The film was loved by critics and fans of the series when it hit theatres back in November and still holds a whopping 94% at Rotten Tomatoes, something not many films have accomplished.

Now, the two-disc DVD release includes the full 144 minute film (obviously) along with over 90 minutes of additional features and footage. The most significant out of the three main features is the 2006 piece shot for AMC titled Bond Girls are Forever. This 50 minute documentary examines the evolution of Bond's leading ladies over the decades. Maryam d'Abo, who played opposite Timothy Dalton's Bond as Kara Milovy in 1987's The Living Daylights, narrates the feature and talks with many Bond Girls of the past. We hear from Ursula Andress (Honey Rider, Dr. No), Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore, Goldfinger), and Maud Adams (Octopussy, Octopussy), among others. The documentary is quite interesting, shedding light on the view of Bond Girls in society and the development of power in the role, something that was absent in the early days of Bond.

Another extra worth checking out is the 26 minute Becoming Bond feature. This documentary focuses on the media reaction to the announcement of Daniel Craig as Bond and how he was able to overcome the unjust disgust fans of the series threw at him immediately after he was cast in the film. While many different people are interviewed in this piece, including director Martin Campbell, it's really a one-on-one interview with Craig.

There is also a 23 minute piece on the stunts in the film titled James Bond: For Real. Casino Royale is a gritty and mean Bond film, something we haven't seen in the past, and this documentary shows how that effect was created by some of the stunt work. This bit also talks a bit about casting free runner Sebastien Foucan in the film along with the development of the extreme sport.

The DVD also features Chris Cornell's music video for his song You Know My Name, which is featured on the film's soundtrack.

I'm happy with the Casino Royale DVD and I'm glad it's in my collection. It's a great film and these two discs have enough bonus material to provide a few hours of informational entertainment. Although, I wish the DVD had a director's commentary. I can't believe how many releases are shipping without commentary tracks recently. The Departed, The Prestige, Borat, and now Casino Royale, and that's just the past month or so. Hopefully we see (or hear) more commentaries in the near future.


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FILM: Gerard Butler to Take on Snake Plisskin?

Rumours have surfaced that the action star from 300 will play Snake in an Escape From New York remake.

Apparently Gerard Butler has earned quite a name for himself with the recent $70-million opening weekend box-office success that is 300. Hollywood has taken note and it appears that the Scot is quickly on the rise. Producer Neal Moritz (The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T.) is set to produce the remake of the 1981 cult-classic while writer Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) has script duties.

While I really like Gerard Butler in this role, I don't think that this film should be remade. Especially with this creative team. Escape From New York is a cult hit that defines Kurt Russell's career as well as the feeling of films in the 80s. Plus, Moritz has a track record for producing BAD movies. He's got films like Torque, xXx: State of the Union, and Stealth on his resume, along with the Fast and Furious trilogy. The guy is a hack and I'd hate to see him ruin something like a high-profile remake like this.

I'm also insecure with the choice of Ken Nolan as writer for the flick. The guy is fairly green with only one feature credited to his name and I don't think he can handle the duties of adapting the film alone. Sure, he has an entire film of reference material to work with, but I think he's a poor choice.

It'll be interesting to see how this picture turns out, if it does infact get made. I really like Butler in this role but I'd prefer him to make his mark in something new instead of a rehash of something from the past.

What do you guys think about this? Should a remake of John Carpenter's Escape From New York by made?


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Monday, March 12, 2007

FILM: Hitman Movie Cast

The role of Agent 47, the unforgettable character from the Hitman video game franchise, has been cast, and surprisingly it's not Vin Diesel

Actor Timothy Olyphant will play Agent 47. Olyphant is known for his roles in Scream 2, Rock Star, and The Girl Next Door. He also plays the character of Seth Bullock on HBO's Deadwood.

Now, I like Timothy Olyphant but I think he's the wrong choice for Agent 47. The hitman is supposed to be extremely cold, reserved, and precise where Olyphant is known for being a bit, how can I put this, silly. He does have the chiseled jaw found on the video game character and I'm sure he'll look the part when bald, but I can't see him adding much more to the part. It'll be interesting to see where he takes the character but I can't see him in the role, at least as of now.

Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, Desperate Housewives) has also been cast in the film and will play a man who's task it is to take down Agent 47.

Another notable is that retired French director Luc Besson (Taxi, The Fifth Element) is producing the film. Now, I'd be much happier if he was directing this adaptation but it's being done by Xavier Gens (Sable noir, Frontieres). I'm not sure if I can put much faith into Gens with this project as he's quite green but I'm excited to see where this film goes.

I don't have high expectations for Hitman, but it should be worth a look.


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