Transcendence – Radio Film Review

Johnny Depp goes digital in TRANSCENDENCE
Johnny Depp goes digital in TRANSCENDENCE

So because of Hour of the Wolf’s pre-emption last week, my review of TRANSCENDENCE, the science fiction romantic thriller in which Johnny Depp’s consciousness is loosed on the Web and a number of people — including Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy — fret about what that means for the fate of humankind (hint: How do you feel about nanobots everywhere?), was held for airing on this week’s show. Which is cool — I mean, the film, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to the promises of its premise, but the notion of what happens to humanity as it begins to intersect more and more with technology is so potent that I feel an examination of what director Wally Pfister did right and wrong in exploring the concept is still worthwhile. So, tardy though it may be, please enjoy this latest segment.
(Interestingly, HotWolf host Jim Freund so liked last week’s review of 23:59 — which was intended only to run on the Web — that he also included it in this week’s show. So we were actually ahead of the curve in that sense. BTW: If you tried to listen to that segment earlier this week and the player was broken, it’s now fixed. Give it a shot & enjoy!)
Click on the player to hear the review.


Transcendence – Spotlight Podcast 5:16.1

It's a brave but not especially bold new world faced by (clockwise from top)Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman in TRANSCENDENCE.
It's a brave but not especially bold new world faced by (clockwise from top) Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman in TRANSCENDENCE.

It’s some kind of irony that the experience of watching a film called TRANSCENDENCE is far from transcendent. Not that director Wally Pfister doesn’t try: The story of a scientist working in A.I. research (Johnny Depp) who has his own consciousness transferred to the Web is lushly mounted (as befits a big-studio production from the man who previously served as Christopher Nolan’s director of photography), reliant on an atypically grounded mise en scene that emphasizes the love story between Depp’s scientist and his colleague wife (Rebecca Hall),  and chock full of actors who can deliver skilled performances (joining Depp and Hall are Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara and Paul Bettany). Unfortunately, it’s that restraint, along with poor plotting (Really? We’re supposed to empathize with anti-technology terrorists whom we’ve previously seen murdering a roomful of innocent people with poisoned cake? Really?), that leaves the film as a promise unfulfilled.
The Cinefantastique Online team of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons get together to weigh what went right and what wrong with this ambitious attempt at  dramatic science fiction. Click on the player to hear the show.


Martin Landau: The CFQ Interview

Martin Landau (right) teams up with Johnny Depp and won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in ED WOOD.
Martin Landau (right) teams up with Johnny Depp and won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in ED WOOD.

Every now and then, we pause in awe of the people we’ve had the opportunity to spend time with. Doug Trumbull, John Kricfalusi, and Paul Verhoeven in earlier years, Armin Shimerman and Frank Oz more recently — now it’s Martin Landau’s turn, and we couldn’t be happier.
In an extended and wide-ranging interview, we got a chance to discuss the length and breadth of Martin’s career. In the course of talking about his roles in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, and his Oscar-winning portrayal of Bela Lugois in ED WOOD — and much, much more — Martin provides insights on the art of acting, shares anecdotes from the set, and talks about the sometimes seamy politics that drive the film industry. It is, all told, a fascinating exploration of the life of an actor — click on the player to hear the show.


Dark Shadows: The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast – 3:19

The Fangs are Almost as Big as the Lapels: An undead Johnny Depp braves the ravages of the 70's in DARK SHADOWS.
The Fangs are Almost as Big as the Lapels: An undead Johnny Depp braves the ravages of the 70's in DARK SHADOWS.

Two hundred years is a long time to revive a vampire, but then again, forty years is long time to revive the first horror soap opera (not counting an earlier, feature adaptation and a TV revival in the ’90s). In Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is cursed into vampirehood by spurned lover Angelique (Eva Green) in the 18th century and is buried alive (undead?) to await his unearthing in the 1970’s. What he finds is the family fishing empire in ruins, the occupants of stately Collinswood manor — including Michelle Pfeiffer as matriarch, Helena Bonham Carter as a drunk doctor, Jackie Earle Haley as a drunker handyman, and Bella Heathcote as a nanny who bears a striking resemblance to Barnabas’ lost love Josette — devolved into feckless dissolution, and Carpenters music everywhere.
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons have seen the film, and sit down to discuss whether Burton’s more comedic take on DARK SHADOWS’ melodramatics are worth the trip back to the Me Decade. Also in this show: What’s coming to theaters.


'Lone Ranger' & 'Dr. Who' Go West

Johhy Depp, Armie Hammer
Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer

Here’s the first picture released of Johnny Depp as kind of ‘ghost-warrior’ Tonto and a slightly city-fied Armie Hammer as the Masked Man in THE LONE RANGER.
Radio Ranger actor Brace Beemer often wore a black & white outfit in his public appearances as the character, so it’s not entirely without precedence.
Directed by Gore Verbinski (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN) THE LONE RANGER is due out in 2013 by Jerry Bruckheimer and Walt Disney Films.
Continuing in the western theme, DOCTOR WHO will go West in the third episode of the new season of the revived series, Written by Toby Whithouse (BEING HUMAN).
Actually, it’s south, as Spain is subbing for the American West in the BBC production.
Matt Smith as The Doctor
Matt Smith as The Doctor

Here’s a pic of Matt Smith donning a Stetson once again for the show, in which Ben Browder (FARSCAPE, STARGATE SG-1) will guest star. Saul Metzstein is directing.
Photo via

1st Official 'Dark Shadows' Picture

dark-shadows_DEPP_CUEntertainment Weekly is featuring the first official promotion still from Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s take on the 1960’s Dan Curtis Gothic Soap Opera DARK SHADOWS.
One unauthorized pic of Depp in a dead white make-up and sporting dark glasses and a wide-brimmed fedora had given the impression that the filmmakers might have been going for a Willy Wonka/Michael Jackson look, but this staged group shot offers a more traditional look at the character, though he’s somewhat in the background.
The photo has a look very similar to publicity photos of the ABC original series, and this is completely intentional, according to director Tim Burton.

“I remember seeing a group photograph of the cast of the original series… For me it captured the weird Dark Shadows vibe in a single image.
I had a brief window of opportunity to have our cast present at the same time, the day before principle photography began. We decided to stage a similar picture instead of rehearsing, to see if we captured the Dark Shadows feeling.”

I’d say they succeeded in this photograph, anyway.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

In addition to Depp as Barnabas Collins, the photograph features (L-R)
Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter)
Controrversial Glimpse
Controrversial Glimpse

Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Moretz, LET ME IN)
Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green)
David Collins (Gulliver McGrath)
Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote)
Mrs. Johnson (Ray Shirley)
Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley)
Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller)
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer)
See the link above for more information on the characters and how they may be similar and different than their original incarnations., provided by screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith.  WARNING:  this info contains a certain amount of mild SPOILERS.
Due out May 11th, 2012 from Warner Brothers Pictures.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Cinefantastique Spotlight 2:19.1

When Eyeshadows Collide: Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz glam it up in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.
When Eyeshadows Collide: Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz glam it up in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES pulled into port this weekend, plundering $90+ million from eager audiences. And that’s no surprise: People just love that incorrigible rapscallion (rapscallion?) Capt. Jack Sparrow — as portrayed by Johnny Depp — and apparently have a bottomless hunger for his adventures in a world where history and magic meld smoothly into one sumptuous, sea-going epic. Is the latest installment’s quest for the legendary Fountain of Youth a fitting follow-up to the previous chapters — or even better? Is Sparrow’s reunion with his old (and now-fully-mortal) nemesis Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) worth the wait? And do Ian McShane as the fearsome pirate Blackbeard and Penelope Cruz as his comely daughter (and potential Sparrow love-interest) worthy additions to our hardy crew? Listen in as Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons set sail by the North Star, brave the surging waves, and guide their podcast past the rocky shoals and in for a safe landing.
And in conclusion: Arrrrrrrr. There, that’s got it covered.


'Dark Shadows' Takes Flight

Here’s the premise of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of DARK SHADOWS,  according to Warner Brother’s press release.  JohnnyDepp_SHOLLOW

“In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet–or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.
The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor is Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family, to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.”

Looks like the film is play around with the time frame. On the Dan Curtis-produced TV series, Barnabas becomes a vampire around 1795-97 (both years mentioned, possibly a continuity error) and is released in then contemporary time (circa 1967).  I’d have preferred the “modern-day” scenes in the new film to be  set present-day, but I suppose an early-`70’s flavor could add to the charm of the piece.
Also, in the original soap opera Barnabas Collins might have been a somewhat feckless lover, but hardly a playboy. He was a pretty serious-minded, brooding and passionate man. Could they be going for a bit of that “Captain Jack Sparrow 18th Century rake” vibe?

Armie Hammer To Play Lone Ranger?

Armie Hammer Jr.
Armie Hammer Jr.

According to
Variety,  Armie Hammer Jr,  (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) is being considered to don the mask of The Lone Ranger in Walt Disney Pictures’ feature film adaptation of the radio, comics and television western icon.

Armie Hammer Jr.
Armie Hammer Jr.

According to
 Johnny Depp (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN) has been long-signed to play the masked man’s Native American friend and crime-fighting partner in the Jerry Bruckhiemer Production. PIRATES helmer Gore Verbinski (RANGO) is set to direct, from a screenplay by Justin Haythe (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD).
Johnny Depp will first have to complete his role in DARK SHADOWS, due to roll very soon with director Tim Burton. Yet Disney still hopes to ready THE LONE RANGER for release in 2012.
 This isn’t the first time Armie Hammer’s been up for a superhero role, he was set to play The Batman in Warner Brothers’ aborted JUSTICE LEAGUE movie.

Young Barnabas Cast for 'Dark Shadows'

Thomas McDonnelAccording to The Hollywood Reporter,  Thomas McDonell (THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM) has been cast as a younger version of Barnabas Collins in the Tim Buton/Johnny Depp DARK SHADOWS.
Depp is playing the mature Barnabas, cursed as a vampire by the witch Angelique (Eva Green, CASINO ROYALE), in the feature film based of the 1960’s Dan Curtis gothic soap opera.
Michelle Pfeiffer has been cast as matriach Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Bella Heathcote as governess Victoria Winters, and WATHCMEN’S Jackie Earle Haley as the coniving caretaker Willie Loomis.
With a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Warner Brothers intend for filming to get underway in April.
McDonnell certainly looks a good deal like a younger Johnny Depp, though it’s unknown how extensive the part might be. If I recall correctly, young Barnabas and servant girl Angelique Bouchard had a fling in Martinique, and she became obessed with the wealthyAmerican.