With the IRON MAN sequel only a month away it’s a surprise to be given any more footage from the film, especially since we’ve already been given so much, but here is a new clip from IRON MAN 2. The clip’s a short one but shows us a complete scene in which Robert Downey Jr. (SHERLOCK HOLMES, A SCANNER DARKLY) as the titular Iron Man, flies down to the ‘Stark Expo’.
IRON MAN 2 takes off where the first left us, the world now knows Iron Man’s identity while the US government demands Tony Stark hand over the Iron Man suit and numerous villains plot to take him out. The clip comes just after director Jon Favreau announced on his Twitter that he’s finished the final cut of the film and has handed it over to Marvel.
IRON MAN 2 is released on May 7th, but be sure to check out Cinefantastique Online’s review of the film on May 2nd.
Hot on the heels of the Chris Evans as Captain America announcement comes the news that Sebastian Stan ( THE COVENANT, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE) has been cast as his side-kick, Bucky Barnes, in the upcoming big-budget film adaptation of CAPTAIN AMERICA.
In the comics Bucky Barnes was a teenage orphan, eager to join the army but too young to enlist so instead became a mascot. It’s during this career change that he discovers Captain America’s true identity and becomes his partner, only to be killed off at the end of World War II and then resurrected in 2005.
Interestingly enough, Sebastian Stan was actually in the runnings to play Captain America himself at one point until Evans took the role. The shoot for CAPTAIN AMERICA is set to start this summer, with a 22nd of July, 2011 release date expected.
THOR, the new Marvel comic book adaptation, has been in production since January now and director Kenneth Branagh (FRANKENSTEIN, THE MAGIC FLUTE) has just updated the LA Times on its progress. Here he describes the visual style he’s going for with the film as well as attempting to play down any nasty rumours about on-set fights between his actors.
Branagh has some extremely promising ideas for the film, stating that it will be,
Inspired by the comic book world both pictorially and compositionally at once, we’ve tried to find a way to make a virtue and a celebration of the distinction between the worlds that exist in the film but absolutely make them live in the same world. It’s about finding the framing style, the color palette, finding the texture and the amount of camera movement that helps celebrate and express the differences and the distinctions in those worlds. If it succeeds, it will mark this film as different…. The combination of the primitive and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern, I think that potentially is the exciting fusion, the exciting tension in the film.
I’d certainly have to agree with the director here. THOR is in need of something that will give it a little bit of prestige, something that will set it apart from the thousands of other superhero films, and if he manages to pull off this vision then it’ll definitely make THOR one to watch. On the rumoured clash between stars Anthony Hopkins and Chris Hemsworth,
It’s going very, very well. We’re in New Meixco [sic] now where we have a contemporary Earth part of our story. I guess we’re two-thirds of the way through the story and at this stage of the game what’s surprising and delighting me is the way the cast, the ensemble, has fused together. It’s kind of an interesting combination of very young and very experienced people and the double-up of that, it seems to me, is there is a lot of fire in the movie.
Based on this quote, any rumours about on-set fighting seem completely unfounded, which can only be a good thing. No stills or trailer have been released thus far but I’d be surprised if nothing materialised at this years Comic Con. THOR is set for release on the 6th of May, 2011.
KICK-ASS is inventive, cool and funnier than a Bugs Bunny Saturday morning cartoon.
Over the last decade it has become an industry standard for studios to release at least one superhero film as a tent-pole for their summer schedule. More recently, having been kick-started by SIN CITY, a new trend has surfaced: releasing smaller budgeted, more violent comic book adaptations around the Easter holidays. Films such as 300 and WATCHMEN aren’t particularly suitable for summertime, in which cinemas are dominated by mass-appeal blockbusters; these films stand more of a chance in an earlier slot in the year.
New entry in this strategic release model is KICK-ASS, based upon Mark Miller’s extremely violent comic book of the same name and directed by Matthew Vaughn (LAYER CAKE, STARDUST). The story concerns Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training, or meaningful reason to do so. KICK-ASS does exactly what it says on the tin and, although it’s let down by a few tonal missteps, is best summed up as a wildly entertaining synthesis of SPIDER-MAN and KILL BILL.
Make no mistake, KICK-ASS is tremendously violent, and it doesn’t give a damn if you’re offended by it. Bullets fly, legs are severed and, in one of the film’s most splatter-hungry moments, a man is blown up in an industrial microwave. To make matters worse (read: better) a lot of the time the pain is being dealt out by a twelve year-old girl, uttering profanity-ridden punch lines such as, “OK you c*nts, let’s see what you can do now”. The film then, is clearly not one to take grandma to see on the Sunday matinee.
The ensuing fight scenes are some of the best I’ve seen in years: inventive, cool and funnier than a Bugs Bunny Saturday morning cartoon. The two stand-out sequences would have to be the first involving ‘Hit-Girl’ (the previously mentioned twelve-year-old, played by Chloe Moretz) – which is hilariously abrupt and highly visceral – and the slick and satisfying one-take attack by ‘Big Daddy’ (Hit-Girl’s father and partner in crime, played by Nicolas Cage) upon a warehouse full of gangsters.
KICK-ASS is more than a collection of Tarantino-worthy action set-pieces, however; most of the story focuses on Dave’s adolescent trials and tribulations. They aren’t, as you might expect, riddled with Peter Parkeresque clichés and outdated morality struggles; the story attempts to take a more modern and humorous look at today’s teenagers. Dave isn’t a loner or a complete loser but isn’t exactly one of the popular kids either, marking a refreshing twist in genre conventions.
The insertion of pop-culture references such as YouTube and MySpace, as well as a sub-plot which sees Dave pretend to be gay in order to get close to the girl of his dreams, make the film much more culturally relevant. KICK-ASS also works very well as an amusing parody of superhero films, beginning with a false-start involving an Armenian teenager testing out his Icarus-inspired costume and plunging head-first into a taxi rather than soaring into the skies.
In fact, Vaughn has so much to pack into KICK-ASS that it could have easily become an overly long mess of ideas. The director pulls it off, fortunately, by employing a swift and energetic pace that keeps almost the entire narrative intact in less than two hours – a worthy achievement in and of itself. The soundtrack is similarly energetic and fun, comprising of a selection of modern licensed tracks, which give the film an extra sheen of cool. The film is also impressive from a technical standpoint, taking most of its stylistic cues from the medium it’s adapting.
Caption cards reading “Meanwhile” and “Six months later”, a bright and bold colour pallet, as well as a gorgeously animated flashback, all aid in creating the look of a comic book come to life. The acting is first class, and you can tell everyone involved had a blast making the thing. Aaron Johnson does a good job of making Dave’s somewhat senseless actions seem empathetic, and Chloe Moretz seems an actress wise beyond her years; she makes you truly believe a twelve-year-old girl could kick that much ass. Nicolas Cage is also in rare comedic top form here, with a perfect deadpan delivery and brilliant parody of Adam West’s Batman.
For the most part, KICK-ASS is a very faithful adaptation of the comic book, and for that alone it should be praised. Most of the films pitfalls, however, occur when it chooses to stray too far from the source material. Notable changes to the relationship between Dave and his love interest, Big Daddy’s history, and the ending of the story only make the film cheesier and more fantastical than it needed be. For a film seemingly so intent on creating a semi-realistic world in which real people try to be superheroes, additions such as a jet-pack with mini-guns attached simply seem unnecessary (even if they are fun in their own way).
Additionally, the conclusion of the Dave’s romantic aspirations clashed with the overall tone of the film, and there is also a slight awkwardness to some moments in which tragedy and comedy are blended. Nevertheless, KICK-ASS is the most invigorating and exciting comic book adaptation to come along for a long time and is certainly not to be missed.
KICK-ASS (2010). Director: Matthew Vaughn. Writer: Jane Goldman (screenplay) and Mark Miller (original comic). Cast: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage.
Edgar Wright’s (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD trailer has been a long time coming, but it’s finally been uploaded to Apple Trailers for all to see. The trailer itself focuses on the main plot of the film; Scott Pilgrim (played by Michael Cera) gets a new girlfriend, only to find that in order to keep her he has to fight (sorry, defeat) her seven evil exes.
SCOTT PILGRIM is an adaptation of Brian Lee O’Malley’s cult comic book series of the same name which reads like a combination of manga fight scenes, video games references and a twenty-something coming of age drama. Edgar Wright has been hard at work on the film adaptation for some time now and it’s great to see the long-awaited trailer at last. The minute and a half shown here gives a good impression of the manga and video game inspired visual style of the film and the fights scenes look like they they’re going to be a lot of fun.
The film is due for release on the 13th of August this summer but it’s more than likely that we’ll see another trailer before then.
Warner Brothers releases this feature film adaptation of an obscure comic book character. The plot has the U.S. government hiring the titular bounty hunter (Josh Brolin) to confront a terrorist (John Malkovich) who is threatening to a Hellish apocalypse. Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Aidan Quinn, and David Patrick Kelly co-star for director Jimmy Hayward, working from a script by Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, based on a story developed with William Farmer, inspired by the DC comic book character created by John Albano and Tony Dezuniga. Release date: June 18.
Hugh Jackman is back with the adamantium claws in this prequel revealing the back story of Wolverine. Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, and Dominic Monaghan co-star for director Gavin Hood, working from a script by David Benioff, based on the Marvel comic book character. 20th Century Fox releases on May 1.
This film combines elements of comic book fantasy with horror to create an enjoyable brew – sort of a film noir version of THE EXORCIST, crossbred with the stylization of THE MATRIX. Keanu Reeves is excellent in the title role, a sort of self-interested superhero, battling the forces of Evil (and sometimes the forces of Good, too).
The story, based on the Hellblazer comic books, maintains suspense by imagining a Manichean world evenly divided between Good and Evil, which are portrayed as opposing forces locked in an eternal war that follows its own set of rules, regardless of the collateral damage on either side. Our cynical hero seems to see little difference between them; at least, he joins the forces of good not out of any altruism but to advance his own personal agenda.
Most of the special effects and supernatural manifestations are of the entertaining “aint-it-cool” variety, but a few segue into the genuinely horrific (such as an early exorcism scene). The film runs through a stack of familiar cliches (for example, Constantine has a young helper who wants to get off the sidelines and prove himself), but the writing and performances make them work; on a few occasions, they are even genuinely moving.
Overall, this is an imaginative effort — one of the better comic book adaptations of recent years, even better than the recent HELLBOY, which covered somewhat similar terrain.
The film’s plot bears some remarkable siimlarities to the 1995 film THE PROPHECY. In both cases, the war between Good and Evil is portrayed as a take-no-prisoners battle in which even angels are soldiers who may inflict collateral damage. In both cases, the angel Gabriel turns out to be the true villain, and in both films Satan makes a third act appearance that aids hero (not out of the goodness of his heart but because it serves his own interests).
According to the Internet Movie Database, Alan Moore created the character of John Constantine at the behest of artists Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, who wanted to draw a character resembling Sting. Unhappy with the film adaptations of his other works (FROM HELL and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN), Moore swore off Hollywood and declined a “created by” credit on CONSTANTINE.
The two-disc collector’s set includes numerous bonus features and a collectible Hellblazer comic book, featuring a reprint of issue #41, plus a Hellblazer short story. DISC ONE: the feature film, with audio commentary from director Francis Lawrence, producer Akiva Goldsman, and screenwriters Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello; a Perfect Circle music video titled “Passive”; and two theatrical trailers. DISC TWO: 18 minutes of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending; “Conjuring Constantine”; “Production from Hell” documentary gallery; ‘”Imagining the Underworld” documentary gallery; “Constantine Cosmology”; “Foresight: the Power of Previzualization.”
The audio commentary alternates between two different discussions: one between director Lawrence and producer Goldsman; one between screenwriters Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello. Even with four voices, the commentary is not enough to fill the whole film, leaving gaps during certain scenes. Both conversations end as the credits start to roll, leaving the post-credits epilogue with commentary
The commentary is somewhat informative, but as often happens, it repeats information available in the other supplemental features. It is also frequently dull, merely explaining scenes to us. Goldsman tends to be jokey, interrupting Lawrence to say things like “This scene bugs me!” (during the Vermin Man sequence, of course). Brodbin and Cappello wander off into generalities instead of focusing on specific scenes.
We do learn a few interesting things, such as that Brodbin was working on the script back in 1996. Also, a few story points are clarified that are left vague in the film (for instance, it is Gabriel, not Mammon, who “dusts off” the remains of Balthazar after he has served his purpose – something you could probably figure out if you sat down and reasoned it through, but which the film itself never states).
The music video is of minor interest; outside of the footage from CONSTANTINE itself, there is little worth watching, and the song is merely okay. The two trailers are labeled “teaser” and “theatrical,” but the teaser trailer is basically a shorter earlier version of the later, complete with footage from the film (which is often not the case in teaser trailers, which are usually put together early to “tease” the audience before the film is completed).
Disc Two is loaded with features that are filled with interesting information. Many of the interviews were conducted on-set of specifically for the DVD, so this is a bit more than the talking-head “press junket” stuuf that often ends up as supplemental material.
“Conjuring Constantine” takes a look at the history of the comic book character and how he came to the big screen, which involved a change of nationality from English to American.
Production from Hell offers three short documentaries. “Director’s Confessional” looks at Lawrence’s transition from music video to feature film. “Collision with evil” takes us behind the scenes of the spectacular car wreck near the beginning. And “Holy Relics” examines the effort to create realistic looking props.
Imagining the Underworld also offers several vignettes, this time related to special effects. “Hellscape” reveals that Hell was intended to look like a Los Angeles freeay, the idea being that wherever you were on Earth, there was a parallel version in Hell. “Visualizing Vermin” takes a look at the creation of the Vermin Man sequence, in which a demon appears in the form of a multitude of bugs (curiously, the live-action suit used for reference looks better in someways, than the CGi that ended up in the film). “Warrior Wings” tells us that Lawerence wanted darker wings (inspired by classical paintings) for the Angel Gabriel, not traditional white ones; the special effects people created them in the computer, modeled after a bird of prey, like a hawk. “Unholy Abduction” shows us how the character of Angela was dragged kicking and screaming through the walls of a building, using mostly miniature and greenscreen effects.
“Constantine Cosmology” offers up an analysis of the mythic underpinnings of the film, but it is not particularly insightful.
“Foresight: The Power of Pre-Vizualization” offers up a handful of animatics that were used to pre-visualize scenes, to help with camera placement and special effects. The computer-generated versions run below the finished versions from the film, for comparison and contrast; there are also three scenes that were not film. An optional commentary from director Lawrence explains why changes were made or scenes abandoned.
The Deleted Scenes are mostly transitional stuff and additional exposition that are not particularly enlightening. We do see the shorter version of the Vermin Man sequence (which originally had only eight effects shots due to budget restraints). And we see Constantine in bed with Ellie, the half-breed demon who was cut out of the film. None of the scenes is essential, and all were wisely deleted, improving the film. CONSTANTINE (2005). Directed by Francis Lawrence. Screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello, story by Brodbin, based on the Hellblazer comic books by Jamie Delano & Garth Ennis. Cast: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Gavin Rossdale, Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare