Star Wars Rogue One: first cast photo

First look at the cast for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

First look at the cast for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Walt Disney dropped the very first picture of the cast from its newest Star Wars film, Rogue One. The name is now officially Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The very impressive cast assembled by director Gareth Edwards (who directed the 2014 Godzilla film) includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly, as a motion capture character), and Riz Ahmed.

Disney reports that filming on this has just begun. It’s due to be released in 2016. I’m really looking forward to it.

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey… — A Review

Richard Stanley showing the remnants of the mask he wore as an extra on Island of Lost Souls.

Richard Stanley showing the remnants of the mask he wore as an extra on The Island Of Dr. Moreau.

While I was never one who thought that the 1996 version of The Island Of Dr. Moreau was truly the worst movie of all time, it was pretty bad. It’s main offense for me was that it was boring to the point of feeling overlong–and this was a film that was just over 90 minutes in length. But watching David Gregory’s fantastic documentary, Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley’s Island Of Dr. Moreau, I saw for the first time just how really f–ked up this movie was, at least on the ‘behind the scenes’ end of it.

Back in the 1990s, Richard Stanley was already a hot commodity as an indie filmmaker, with Hardware and Dust Devil under his belt (and both are excellent films that you should seek out, too) and so when he pitched a remake of Island of Lost Souls to New Line (the House that Freddy built–and which would also produce the Lord Of The Rings films), they jumped at the chance. But what was originally going to be a low budget horror fest soon ballooned into a mega-budget monster, thanks to the addition of Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer to the cast. And that was when Stanley had been fired from the film–but the documentary wisely gives both sides of the story by also interviewing the studio executives who were involved (they sincerely felt that Stanley was way in over his head).

But the documentary continues to examine what life was life on the set of Lost Souls even after Stanley left (at least, officially…he secretly returned to the set as one of the masked extras), and this is where it really gets good. Marlon Brando was famous for his eccentric behavior on film sets, but he was an angel compared to some of the antics that Val Kilmer pulled. And soon, both of these stars (Kilmer was at the height of his fame back in the ’90s–not so much today) were warring with each other, holding up the production, and giving John Frankenheimer (who replaced Stanley) ulcers.

It's been a helluva long, rocky road from Oz....

It’s been a helluva long, rocky road from Oz….

The cast of Australian extras don’t hold their punches in describing what went down on the set–as well as what went down off the set, as well (let’s just say they really had a nice time). Fairzua Balk is the only star of the film who is interviewed (Brando’s dead, Kilmer probably didn’t want to pick at an old wound, and David Thewlis didn’t want to be involved) and she is wonderful; offering more fascinating insights about what happened, including a funny anecdote where she discovered first hand just what Brando thought about working on the film. This is literally a case where the behind the scenes stories were better than the movie itself, and the documentary does a great job at bringing them to light. Don’t miss it. –SF

Movie pick me ups for the winter blahs

It’s the middle of the winter, the sun has been chased away by a blanket of gray skies that smothers a landscape covered by bland white snow. It’s cold, slippery, and just plain miserable. What do you do? Put on a movie to lift your spirits! Here’s a list of what works for me to chase away the winter doldrums.

Wait sec...did I forget my keys...?

Wait sec…did I forget my keys…?

Head Above Water

Cameron Diaz stars in this light-hearted murder mystery about the much-younger wife of a judge (Harvey Keitel) who inadvertently sinks deeper and deeper into murder and mayhem at their summer beach house. Based on the Norwegian film Hodet Over Vannet, if this seems a little bleak for a pick me up, bear in mind that it is a comedy, a very dark comedy (just imagine if Hitchcock had made a comedy back in the day–no, wait…actually, he did: The Trouble with Harry). Head Above Water is pretty funny, and its warm summer setting helps to take your mind off the chill.

Man, the WWE really went all out this time. It's a battle of the divas...to the death!

Man, the WWE really went all out this time. It’s a battle of the divas…to the death!

The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001)

Any movie that features the lovely Rachel Weisz (along with the equally lovely Patricia Velasquez) in a wild knife fight scene while clad in skimpy Egyptian bikinis is a must see (at least for me). But both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are just plain fun, with Arnold Vosloo hamming it up as the titular villain in two imaginative romps that are enjoyable together as a flight of fancy. Avoid the third Mummy film, which lacks Weisz, director Stephen Sommers, as well as the wondrous charm of the first two films.

Wait, that's it! If we just stay out of the water, the sharks can't get us! Girl, you're a genius!

Wait, that’s it! If we just stay out of the water, the sharks can’t get us! Girl, you’re a genius!

Shark Night

Shark Night involves a bunch of good looking, hot young folks on vacation who meet up with a bunch of killer sharks under the control of rednecks with nothing better to do. Yes, the movie is just as silly as that description makes it sound, and that’s a part of its charm. The hot-bod cast spend the better part of the film’s running time in bikinis (and ladies, there’s equal time for you with the guys here, too), and you’ll spend the better part of the night laughing at the ludicrous plot (plot? what plot?) and the over the top villains. Think of it as being a good (unintentional) comedy.

This PInhead guy wants to show me things? Jinkies!

This PInhead guy wants to show me things? Jinkies!

Scooby Doo (2002)

Daphne and Freddie are badly miscast with bland actors, and the CGI Scooby looks downright creepy in some scenes, but I actually liked the 2002 live action Scooby Doo, which makes for a good winter viewing film thanks to it taking place on a tropical island. Besides, the smart script (which was co-written by James Gunn, who would later go on to do a little film called Guardians of the Galaxy) pokes gentle fun at the original cartoon’s tropes, which a lot of the hard core fans (like me) will pick up on. And Linda Cardellini and Matthew Lillard are both picture perfect here as Velma and Shaggy, respectively. Zoinks!

No need to go see the rodeo whenever Wonder Woman's in town.

No need to go see the rodeo whenever Wonder Woman’s in town.

Wonder Woman (2009)

This underrated animated feature stars the voices of Kerri Russell (The Americans) as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) as Steve Rogers and even Alfred Molina (Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2). It’s an entertaining introduction to DC Comic’s First Lady of superheroes that’s fast-paced and visually striking. Here’s hoping Gail Gadot’s take on WW in DC’s upcoming live action films will be equally as enjoyable to watch.

There’s plenty more titles that I can think of, but that’s what I can come up with here and now. The main point is to pass on the heavy message films and just go for whatever makes you happy, no matter how silly it is. Happy winter movie viewing! –SF

Floating women in horror posters

Ugh, that burger is really repeating  on me....

Ugh, that burger is really repeating on me….

I’ve noticed a new trend in horror movie posters. Floating women. Yes, the studios seem to think that images of unconscious women floating through the air will be enough to make us want to see their movies.

So far, I’ve come across two films with floating women in their posters. Both are horror movies.

Oh, were you using this room? Excuse me, I'll just float down the hall, here....

Oh, were you using this room? Excuse me, I’ll just float down the hall, here….

Is there some reason that they’re basically dressed the same in the horror posters? Just a simple dress and no shoes? I mean, what…did they run out of money on the costume budget? Assuming these were photos of models, of course. And if the horror movie posters were taken from photos, did they hang the model on wires, or did they put out a call for women who can float? So many senseless questions…so much wasted time.

I guess having a floating woman in the posters for a romantic comedy just wouldn’t work.

She's just had a little too much helium tonight.

She’s just had a little too much helium tonight.

Well, unless the dude happens to be dating an angel…. Have a Happy New Year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens — a look at the trailer

Just a few days after the first trailer for Jurassic World dropped, we get this: the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is the first true Star Wars sequel directed by JJ (I love me some lens flare) Abrams. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Wheeee! I'm finally free!  Woo-hoo!

Wheeee! I’m finally free! Woo-hoo!

^ This little guy looks like Beach Ball Artoo. I have to admit that I’m intrigued to see what the story is behind this, if there is one. If nothing else, it should make for an interesting action figure.

You, know, this elevator music still sucks....

You, know, this elevator music still sucks….

^ We get our first look at the new Stormtroopers. If you’re wondering how they’re new, just take a closer look at their “faces”.

Car keys, car keys, where'd I leave the damn car keys...!

Car keys, car keys, where’d I leave the damn car keys…!

^ Our first look at actress Daisy Ridley as she’s starting up her transport.

Hope I can beat the traffic at Mos Eisley!

Hope I can beat the traffic at Mos Eisley!

^ And she rides off. I love how the folks in Star Wars never have to worry about flat tires.

Red Leader to Gold Leader, we've begun our attack run on the Game Of Thrones cast!

Red Leader to Gold Leader, we’ve begun our attack run on the Game Of Thrones cast!

^ And brand new, redesigned X-Wing fighters are attacking…somebody.

I shall now begin the holy crusade to cut down these trees. We Sith Lords HATE trees....

I shall now begin the holy crusade to cut down these trees. We Sith Lords HATE trees….

^ And then there’s THIS guy…. Looks like they shot this in the snow-covered woods around my house. Come to think of it, I DID see a dude in the woods with a light saber recently…say, you don’t think….

Seriously, I really like the new light saber design. It evokes a broad sword version of the classic light saber. Very cool.

What the hell kind of air traffic control is this?!

What the hell kind of air traffic control is this?!

The Falcon is back, and we also get the rousing Star Wars theme, and I can’t wait to see this, now. By the way, the Falcon has a new radar dish, and it looks a little like a bow tie.

I’m really psyched to see this one. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in December, 2015. Here’s the trailer:

The Jurassic World Trailer

Universal Studios released the first full trailer for Jurassic World, their reboot of the Jurassic Park series. Steven Spielberg didn’t direct, but he did executive produce this one.

Does King Kong know they borrowed his gate?

Does King Kong know they borrowed his gate?

They cleaned up the main gate, and even fixed the name so that, instead of Jurassic Park, it now reads Jurassic World. Looks like they also did away with the Ford Explorers, with everybody riding in a monorail-type train now–which should make it easier for them to become a dinosaur smorgasbord. Just peel open the train to get at the tasty little treats inside!

What do you think, honey, should we try the rides, or just go get eaten by the dinos right now?

What do you think, honey, should we try the rides, or just go get eaten by the dinos right now?

And the park looks like it’s finally open! A multitude of people are seen enjoying the pleasures of Jurassic World…shortly before they become permanent residents. I swear, once I saw these folks, my first thought was: Christ, they’re all doomed! They might as well be red-shirts in a Star Trek episode.

We got a flat tire? In this thing? How?

We got a flat tire? In this thing? How?

And I want one of these things. And I don’t mean as a model kit (although that would be nice), but for real! I want to drive this through the woods. Wait until the deer and the groundhogs see me in this gizmo.

Oh Bruce, how the mighty have fallen....

Oh Bruce, how the mighty have fallen….

And it looks like we might be getting some aquatic dinos this time out. Jurassic Park meets Jaws? Count me in!

All in all, even though this film really wasn’t on my radar, I’ve wound up getting pumped by this trailer. I even got a chill when I heard the piano slowly playing the JP theme. I’m looking forward to seeing it, now. Jurassic World will be released in June of 2015. Here’s the full trailer:

But what about Scarlet?

Just yesterday, I posted a fanboy squee-filled essay about the news of one of my favorite actors (Benedict Cumberbatch) from one of my favorite TV shows (Sherlock) playing one of my favorite childhood comic book characters (Doctor Strange).

Today I take to task the same movie company (Marvel) in a rant about their recent announcement of upcoming superhero movies, a list of films that you can see here.

Admittedly, it’s a nice line-up, featuring the Guardians sequel, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel–with the latter being touted as Marvel’s first superhero film with a female in the lead. And yeah, that’s nice; good for Captain Marvel (whoever the hell she is), it’s really nice, but…but…

What about Black Widow?

Yeah, what about her?

Yeah, what about her?

She made her first appearance in Iron Man 2, which wasn’t one of the better Marvel movies, but she still rocked hard in that. Then she went on to hold her own against the superhero boys club in The Avengers. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Black Widow was so good in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that she damn near stole the movie.

And let’s not forget that the actress who has been playing Black Widow, Scarlet Johansson, is a veteran of stage and screen who has been acting since she was a kid. Her most recent movie, Lucy (which I haven’t seen yet), was a solid hit, proving that she can carry an action film by herself.

What's this I'm hearing about there being no Black Widow flick? Lemme pop a couple of knees here and see if they feel any differently....

What’s this I’m hearing about there being no Black Widow flick? Lemme pop a couple of knees here and see if they feel any differently….

But no…oh no, Marvel’s first superhero flick will be Captain Marvel. Not the guy from DC Comics who says “Shazam!” a lot and fights a super-intelligent worm bent on world domination (don’t you just hate worms who’re like that?!), not that Captain Marvel…oh no, this is the Marvel Comics version of Captain Marvel, who will be their first female superhero.

Let’s just ignore Black Widow altogether, why don’t we, Marvel? Yeah, sure, why not? She only saved the world a few times, I mean it’s not like she was a real superhero, or anything, right? What the hell…?

Looks like Doctor Strange is finally cast

The inner-net is buzzing with stories about how Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) has been cast as Doctor Strange in Marvel’s upcoming movie about their comic book sorcerer. One blog went as far as making up a cool picture of Cumberbatch as Strange:

The game is afoot!

The game is afoot!

The link and story where this came from is right here.

Some of the sites are saying that he’s definitely cast, while others are stating that talks between Cumberbatch and Marvel have begun. Whatever, I think he would be the perfect choice to play this part, and if he is cast, then I’d really like to see this one. It’s being directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister), so I already had high hopes for this flick to begin with.

I was first introduced to Doctor Strange as a kid when I watched the TV movie that aired back in the late 1970s. (You can see it right here.) This made me seek out the character in the comics, and I was not disappointed. Doctor Strange and Jonah Hex were two of my favorite weird comic titles to read way back when I was a little spud.

Horror and superheroes, all in one movie…where’s the popcorn? 🙂

Batman Begins: a sneak preview of Bane?

I was re-watching Batman Begins (I’m in the process of re-watching the entire Nolan Batman trilogy, which are my all-time fave Batman films) and I noticed something during the big climatic confrontation near the end.

Of course, I should mention that there are SPOILERS ahead. The movie’s now nine years old, but better safe than sorry, I guess.

Anyway, Ra’s al Ghul, the evil mastermind who’s revealed to be Liam Neeson (I told you there would be spoilers!) carries out his plan to destroy Gotham City from within by dispersing a special hallucinogenic gas throughout the city. To prevent himself from falling prey to his own gas, Ra’s puts on a gas mask that looks a little familiar:

"Hey, why are my eyes still burning? Should I also be wearing safety goggles?"

“Hey, should my eyes still be burning? Should I also be wearing safety goggles?”

If you don’t get the reference, he reminds me a little bit of Bane, a future Bat Villain who would vex Batman in the Dark Knight Rises.

"I've lost my car keys, and would appreciate it if the finder would bring them the to the main office. Thanks, and enjoy the game."

“I’ve lost my car keys, and would appreciate it if anybody who finds it would bring them the to the main office. Thanks, and enjoy the game.”

Considering that the back story in Rises ties these two together (they share a past history), the mask that Ra’s wears could almost be seen as foreshadowing the eventual arrival of Bane in the third and final Nolan Batman film.

I don’t know if director Christopher Nolan was plotting ahead that far back when making Batman Begins, but–now knowing what is to come–this is still a pretty cool thing to see.

Thanks, Mr. Ramis

"Never drive angry!"

“Never drive angry!”

When I heard of Harold Ramis having passed away today, I was extremely saddened to hear this. For one thing, he was only 69, and I was hoping to see much more from him as an actor/writer/director. But it was also because I feel as if I owed him thanks for helping me get through a rough patch in my life recently. Ramis didn’t help me personally, of course; but, strangely enough, one of his films wound up helping me far more than I realized when I first saw it.

I had never seen Groundhog Day, which Ramis directed, until just about a year ago, which was about two months after my father’s death. Up until that time, I had only seen Groundhog Day in bits and pieces, never all the way through. And so when I saw it playing on cable (this was back when I still had cable TV), I decided to finally give it a shot.

In short, it was the first movie I had seen since my father’s death that made me laugh out loud. It made me forget my grief ever so briefly, and that alone was enough for me to be very thankful that Groundhog Day exists. So, thank you, Mr. Ramis; watching Groundhog Day made me realize it was ok to laugh, and in retrospect, it also gave me an ever so gentle nudge to move on with my life.

RIP, Harold Ramis.