News And Reviews - by Bob Yosco
Issue 51 - December 9, 2001
News & Reviews Audio: Not Available This Week
Ocean’s Eleven. PG-13 (mild profanity, brief gunplay), 114 minutes.
So this is the flick that people are predicting will knock Harry from the top of the box office... interesting. Don’t get me wrong, Ocean’s is not a bad movie, and it has plenty of star appeal, but I really didn’t believe it would hit the ground running so hard.
Come back with us to 1960, and the original incarnation of this reimagined tour de farce. Frank, Dean, Sammy, Pete, Joey and others were part of what was a pretty awful motion picture, but the whole was greater than the sum of all parts simply because these guys had chops. None of them were any good at dramatic acting, or to be honest any kind of acting, but their personalities/celebrity were a thing out of legend and the Rat Pack ruled for quite a time.
December 2001 finds the remake to be far slicker than the Daddy, and most of these guys and gals are pretty awful actors in their own right so the premise holds true, but according to the laws of random chance somewhere along the way one of them simply has to buy steal or borrow something resembling a personality. Just not yet though.
Danny Ocean (George Clooney) assembles an eclectic gang of ne’er do wells to simultaneously knock off three Vegas casinos and amscray with something along the order of $150 million. Brad Pitt is his usual scruffy self in the Dean Martin role, Don Cheadle is the new and improved Sammy Davis Jr., Matt Damon is the son of a legendary cardsharp, and Julia Roberts does an amazing job of holding back her famous I’m-a-platypus/phony-ear-to-ear-grin. To show how devoid of chops the new cast is, veterans Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould simply walk away with all of the chewed and digested scenery... simple because they crank out every imaginable vaudevillian stooge persona ever invented, and the remaining glassy-eyed clothing hangers called actors haven’t a clue and aren’t getting one anytime soon.
But okay, this is almost 2002 we’re talking about and the depths of mediocrity aren’t likely to head for the penthouse so we grade things on the bell curve of unevenness that is the norm, and by that barometer Ocean’s Eleven doesn’t do so bad. The original was made famous for it’s unmitigated cool and the twist ending; the reimaginated one will be remembered for what passes for cool and golly, weren’t there an awful lot of familiar faces.
Alien 5. Fox seems ready to sell the franchise off because none of the suits can make a determination on exactly how much money to shell out for yet another retread of the tired old dog that used to fetch pretty durn well. The scripts have been dreadful, Sigourney has been playing THE star to the hilt and hoping Ridley Scott decides to collaborate with her so she can make one last killing as an actress, and forget ever seeing Alien vs. Predator... it’s just way too difficult for these simple minds to sort through.
Ray Bradbury is telling anyone who’ll listen that A Sound of Thunder, the feature film version of his short story of the same name, will have cameras rolling by early spring 2002. Pierce Brosnan is still on board to portray the dino-hunter, but, and get this, Renny Harlin was fired as the director because he wanted to change what was in essence the theme of the entire screenplay. A time traveler journeys back to take a gander at some dinosaurs, and despite severe warnings to the contrary, he steps off the designated pathway and crushes a butterfly. When he returns to his present day, history has changed for the worse and the moral of the whole bloody thing was that small, seemingly insignificant steps could reverberate to topple mountains. Famous story, part of the Science Fiction hall of fame, and Renny Harlin steps up to Bradbury and says... hey Ray, everything seems cool and all, but how’s about we do away with that butterfly shtick?
Priceless stupidity... you just can’t make this stuff up.
Charlie’s Angels 2: Cameron Diaz is asking for $20 million to star in the sequel, but there doesn’t appear to be any truth to the rumor that Drew demanded at least half of that, or $5 million, whichever was more, or she’d turn them down flat.
Variety is reporting that Jerry Bruckheimer is ready to produce Pirates of the Caribbean, a feature film based upon the Disney theme park ride. Doesn’t appear to be any truth to the rumor that in his search for authenticity, the movie version of Pirates will break down every ten minutes and smiling ushers will giggle that everything is okay so please relax a little while until the glitches get fixed.
The next Terminator flick has been budgeted to the tune of $170 million, and that makes it officially the most expensive movie ever made. Linda Hamilton remains bedridden and under a doctor’s care after suffering from near-terminal hilarity from reading the script they sent her, so maybe the beancounters can hire an unknown actress to star opposite Ahnuld and save a few bucks.
Miramax still has interest in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, but how long they will continue to wait on Mr. Card getting a screenplay together is anyone’s guess. In the mid-80’s a 15-year-old Brad Pitt was slated to portray Ender, and in the 90’s it was Culkin, but each and every time it seemed Ender’s was heading for a greenlight something big went poof. Mr. Card is a wonderful book writer who hasn’t a clue about screenplays so whenever Miramax finally has had enough and demands the thing get started, look for the movie to be a pale shadow of the book that became something of a legend in its own time.
No Braniac for Smallville. Okay, so if you put Smallville on one of the Big-3 networks it draws less of a look-see than Emeril, but that doesn’t stop executive producer Al Gough from getting a swelled head and saying silly things like, "If there are interesting villains we can reinterpret through our prism we will do that, but nobody in a costume will show up in Smallville." Reinterpret through our prism? A genuine autographed pic of Dave for anyone who can tell me what in all hells that means. I’m giving this show a break so I don’t mind all that much that Lana Lang isn’t a fiery redhead, an Asian gal is modern and brings something to the mix, okay. I also don’t mind that the young Lex Luthor looks to be in his mid-30’s. I also don’t mind that Superboy is a whining, pouting, simpering, mewling, malcontent. But reinterpret through our prism?
Walden Media has optioned the rights to C. S. Lewis’ 7 book Narnia series, and hopes to develop it into a franchise beginning with novel number two, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The Potter money and the projected Rings cash has these guys frothing to get in on the action, so look for something to get done relatively fast as far as making Narnia film worthy.
Bond 20. Halle Berry will be the next Bond gal. Halley Berry may not be the next Bond gal because of the possible scheduling conflict with X-Men 2. Halle Berry may try to do both films at the same time. Halle Berry may ask the producers of Bond to film around her until she’s done with X. Whatever Ms Berry in fact does, the producers are having one heckuva hair-pulling, face-scratching cat fight over who was responsible for even asking this lady in the first place.
It’s an N&R two-fer this week as we take a look at the latest from a Fantasy bestseller as well as a terrific little stuck-in-the-airport read.
Last Man Standing, by David Baldacci. Hardcover, 464 pages, approximately $16.00.
Okay you don’t have to be stranded in an overbooked airline terminal to appreciate the need for a good, mindless read, but if you ever have you know the joy of finding something to while away the hours. So as a public service contribution we present Mr. Baldacci’s latest effort of super-G-man shtick, Last Man Standing. Web London (that’s the hero’s name folks, not the internet address of an exterminating service near Buckingham Palace) is the head honcho (has there ever been a secondary honcho?) of the FBI’s crack Hostage Rescue Team, but everything goes belly up when he and the gang are ambushed in an alley as they gather to stamp finis to the career of an evil drug lord. Web survives (catchy way to weave in the reason for the title, and why all the parentheticals, anyway?) and must look deep within himself to ask question after question for why he, and he alone walked away from such a bollix.
This is a wonderfully fast paced read; both the good guys and bad guys are interesting and complicated enough to draw you inside the covers. The only downside, well there are two actually, the thing is still in hardcover and $16 might be a tad generous for a quick ruffle through when times are dreary... and as seems to be the case more and more, the book is chockablock full of grammatical errors and enough might very well be written off to license for colloquial effect... synesis and all that jazz, but it almost ruined it for me a few times when I was drawn away from the suspension of disbelief and back into Sister Elizabeth’s second grade English class to recant my dreadful dearth of synergy with syntax.
It’s not Chaucer, but it’s a nice imaginative read.
The Pillars of Creation, by Terry Goodkind. Hardcover, 560 pages, approximately $17.00.
Every year or so, Terry Goodkind, aka The Man Who Would Be Bob Jr., squeezes out a volume detailing the continuing adventures of the fantastical Richard Rahl, but in this effort we don’t get to see Dicky or his babe of a wife Kahlan until well into the dreary, yawning middle of the book or so. Doesn’t matter for Terry or his publishers, as each and every predecessor of the mega-hit Wizard’s First Rule is a bestseller and copied directly from whatever Robert Jordan has been doing lately. Dicky and Kahlan get separated, Dicky and Kahlan must find ways to thwart the powerful forces of evil and survive without each others significant powers, Dicky and Kahlan reunite until something tears them away from one another yet again. Just don’t let the synopsis on the jacket fool you... this isn’t about them this time, or rather little to do with them, but more to do with the fact that The Wheel of Time series has been stretched to a minimum of 11 books and the once wonderful Wizard’s series must follow to leech every last penny from a fan base that really wants to see these things get back on track.
Don’t hold your breath. Bad writing, bad characterizations, bad plot. This thing stinks.
Zero Shadowstars. As another public service announcement, don’t waste your money or even the stamp on your library card.
Until next week, gang, and while we’re gearing up for LOTR here’s hoping Dave can finally come up with some kind of contest to celebrate the opening for what looks to be a wonderful flick. He keeps threatening to do so, I keep whining I’m too busy, but the lad does have a way about him, eh?