Brad Bird on THE IRON GIANT – Fantasy Film Podcast


In 1999, Warner’s released THE IRON GIANT. Well… released may not be the best term. Slipped into theaters under the cover of night so that anyone who might be remotely interested couldn’t possibly know of its existence… yeah, that’s the term. Despite the stealth marketing, director Brad Bird’s animated tale of a young boy who lives in red-scare, 1950’s America and manages to bond with a giant, gentle, metal-eating robot managed to catch a few discerning eyes (mine included), and has since been championed as a tremendously entertaining animation classic. As for Bird, well, the guys at Pixar took note, too, and Brad wound up helming a couple of minor trifles you might have heard of: THE INCREDIBLES and RATATOUILLE.
The staff over at New York’s Film Forum clearly know a good thing when they see it, and this year, they decided to treat their audience to a limited run of THE IRON GIANT as a holiday treat. It’s running from December 22nd through the 28th, and to commemorate the event, I got an opportunity to talk with Bird. We were able to discuss the creation of GIANT, plus look into some of his other projects, including his live-action debut: the Tom Cruise-starring MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL.
Click on the player to hear the interview.

Gondry Calls Superhero Fans Fascists

via The Guardian

Interviewed by the UK’s The Guardian, Michel Gondry, director of Sony/Columbia’s THE GREEN HORNET showed surprisingly thin skin for a professional regarding the Comic Con audience walking out on his poorly-received panel this summer.

“I usually identify with the nerds, but these ones just reinforce the social rules. Their values are fascistic. All those people marching around in capes and masks and boots. The superhero imagery is totally fascist!”

While there may arguably be an element of fascism in the superhero/vigilante concept, Gondry seems to be unaware of the actual meaning the word. Fascism refers to a movement that combines far right and far left ideologies, promoting an ultra-nationalistic, modern and mechanized semi-socialistic state organized around a corporate model. Generally, authority is vested in a strong leader who controls both civil  and military forces.
In recent decades, it’s been used as a pejorative label by various people who think that anyone who disagrees or disapproves of something they’ve created or support is a bad person. 

Enjoying  superhero films that show respect for the traditional depictions of the characters is not a character flaw.  On the other hand, using hyperbole that compares someone with a different, possibly somewhat conservative  view of things to jackbooted thugs is, in my opinion a rather large character flaw… or at least a lapse in taste and  judgement.

He goes on to say:  
“When you step into this genre, they feel it belongs to them. They want you to conform, or they won’t like you. They want the conventional. But it’s fine. The movie’s been doing very well, I think, whenever we’ve screened it to normal people.”

From that statement, one must assume that Gondry feels superhero fans are not “normal people”.

Earlier in the interview, the director said:
“I don’t mock things, which makes me more vulnerable to mockery myself. If you’re cynical, you’re protected from mockery. But I have to be nice. I don’t think I have irony. A sense of humour, yes, but not irony.” 

So he doesn’t mock people and he wants to be nice?  Is Michel Gondry sure he has no sense of irony? (Which, in case you’ve forgotten, means saying the opposite of what you mean, for purposes of humor or  sarcasm.)
greenhornet_photo2Irritation at his apparently contemptuous assessment of a potentially significant segment of THE GREEN HORNET’s audience aside, I truly hope that Gondry’s authentic talents as a director make the film worth viewing. Some of the action sequences look promising. Perhaps the action-comedy approach will work better in context than it seemed in the rather labored and juvenile gags showcased in the trailers.
Next year will mark The Green Hornet’s 75th Anniversary, and it would be nice if the film helped revive interest in the venerable character.

'Walking Dead' Writing Staff "Fired"

WalkingDeadImg3Deadline reports that Frank Darabont, executive producer and writer/director of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, has released all of the writing staff from season one of the popular comic book-based Zombie series.
The fact that there will be “changes to the writing staff” was confirmed today by AMC.
The site says it’s rumored that Frank Darabont may ultimately opt to not replace the staff, but instead go with freelance writers. Half of the six episodes of this first short season were written by Darabont himself (penning two), and one by comic book creator Robert Kirkman. Perhaps he plans to work out the plotline of the entire 13-episode second season himself (or with Kirkman), and simply assign scripts to freelancers.
This is not entirely unprecedented;  BABYLON 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski dumped his entire writing staff after two seasons.  He wrote the bulk of the next three years himself, with only two freelance scripts, if memory serves. 
It’s unlikely that Frank Darabont intends to go that far.

New Green Hornet Trailer

The latest trailer from Sony/Columbia’s THE GREEN HORNET.
Well, it looks like it might actually be a fun action-comedy.
The problem is, it’s called THE GREEN HORNET, and just about guaranteed alienate any long-time fans of the 74-year-old radio/TV character—and possibly comic book fans in general.
The word is that preview audiences were enthusiastic about the film in test screenings.
Due out January 14th, 2011 directed by Michel Gondry from a script by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, based on the characters created by Fran Striker and George W. Trendle.
It stars Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Cristoph Waltz, Edward James Olmos, Tom Wilkinson, and Edward Furlong.
via The Moive Reel

1st Look at Karl Urban as 'DREDD'

Moviephone featured this picture of Karl Urban (STAR TREK) as Judge Dredd in the new movie adaptation of the comic, DREDD.
(Slightly tweaked for contrast, here.)

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

The picture was apparently taken in a pre-production rehearsal by “Jock”, a comic book artist working a conceptual artist for the Pete Travis (VANTAGE POINT)-directed film.
The character was first played by Sylvester Stallone in the 1995 JUDGE DREDD, which looked good from a visual standpoint, but disappointed in many other aspects.

'Cowboys and Aliens' – Trailer

Here’s the trailer to COWBOYS AND ALIENS, Universal Studios adaptation of the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.
Screen 007 Daniel Craig stars as Zeke Jackson, a hunted gunfighter caught up into a strange extraterrestrial invasion of an Arizona town in the days of the old West.
Also starring Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, and Sam Rockwell.
Directed by IRON MAN’s Jon Favreau.
Due in theaters July 29th, 2011.
Via Box Office Spy

American World teams with Bron Studio for 3 SF Films

L.A.- based indie American World Pictures has teamed up with producer Aaron L. Gilbert (TRANSLYMANIA) and his Bron Studios to co-produce three science fiction films.

From their press release:
“JABBERWOCKY, now in pre-production, is the first of the three films that the duo will produce. The film tells the story of a young squire who must become a warrior to save his people and the woman he loves after a horrific beast is unleashed on the Kingdom. Bron’s Bernie Melanson and John Raymonds serve as Executive Producers.
Films to follow will include LEVIATHAN and PANDORA’S BOX. “We love the sci-fi genre and are excited about these high concept films and about growing our relationship with Mark and Dana at American World Pictures” said Gilbert.
AWP Founder Dana Dubovsky states “Our first project, JABBERWOCKY, has been fast tracked and will begin filming in Bulgaria in late October.”
President of AWP Mark L. Lester and Dana Dubovsky first joined forces with Bron when AWP picked up the sales rights to Gilbert’s film PARADOX.
PARADOX_SorboPARADOX, which has been invited to the 2010 International Science Fiction Film Festival in Korea, in late October was directed by Leo Award winner Brenton Spencer (STARGATE ATLANTIS, Syfy’s SANCTUARY), and features a host of sci-fi stars, led by Kevin Sorbo (Andromeda, Hercules); Steph Song (jPod, The Thaw); Christopher Judge (Stargate); Alan C. Peterson (Shooter, Narc, Beautiful Joe); Alisen Down (Battlestar Galactica); and Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary).
The film introduces homicide detective Sean Nault (Kevin Sorbo) a cop on a parallel Earth who is investigating a baffling series of murders committed by a means his Earth has never seen before: the power of science. Sean uncovers an apocalyptic plot that will lead him to another dimension ­and the realization that, unless he prevents it, both earths could well be destroyed. Bron is currently in development on the PARADOX television series.

Sounds like an ambitious slate, always interesting to see independent genre productions continuing in the era when much of it has been co-opted by mega-budget big studio fare.
PARADOX is based on the comic book from Arcana Studios.

Chris Nolan to Direct 'Batman 3'

batman_Dark Knight suitEmpireOnline got some confirmation from Christopher Nolan about directing  the as-yet untitled BATMAN 3.

“It’s becoming inevitable, I’ll put it that way. I feel myself falling into it, I guess. And getting it all figured out and I’m pretty excited about what we’re doing so… If I haven’t announced it, I think that people probably all know at this point that I’m doing it.”

As for who “WE” might be, Chris Nolan told the site that he’s working on brother Jonathan Nolan’s script for the film now. So there is a screenplay, but no announcement of villain or plot, thus far.

'Superman' Rumors Update

Portman_AmadaliaAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Darren Aronofsky (PI, THE FOUNTAIN) has had some discussions about the possiblity of directing the Superman reboot.
Moviehole echoes this report, and adds that Natalie Portman (STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE), in Aronofsky’s horror fantasy BLACK SWAN has been mentioned as a possible Lois Lane.
At one point, Darren Aronofsky had a development deal in place to make a BATMAN: YEAR ONE movie, inspired by the comic book series. Warner Brothers eventually cooled on that idea (already in pre-production), and went with Christopher Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS reboot, instead.