Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Archive for December, 2011

Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer (born December 24, 1973) is an American author known for her vampire romance series Twilight. The Twilight novels have gained worldwide recognition and sold over 100 million copies globally, with translations into 37 different languages. Meyer is also the author of the adult science-fiction novel The Host.

Meyer was the biggest selling author of both 2008 and 2009 in America, having sold over 29 million books in 2008 alone, with Twilight being the best-selling book of the year. She sold an additional 26.5 million books in 2009, making her the first author to achieve this feat in that year. Meyer was ranked #49 on Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in 2008”, and was also included in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list of the world’s most powerful celebrities in 2009, entering at #26. Her annual earnings exceeded $50 million. Also in 2010, Forbes ranked her as the #59 most powerful celebrity with annual earnings of $40 million.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I have no issue with the whole Twilight craze, it’s not my thing, but it’s not aimed at me… If it introduces a few more fans to the horror genre then it can only be a good thing.


Prometheus trailer

It’s finally here, the full Prometheus trailer… and it looks fantastic.


Prometheus posters

The first full trailer will be released later today… Until then, here’s a selection of early poster art for the highly anticipated Ridley Scott movie Prometheus.


Steven Spielberg – Part 3

After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s ‘Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade’. Once again teaming up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean Connery in a supporting role as Indy’s father. The film earned generally positive reviews and was another box office success, becoming the highest grossing film worldwide that year; its total box office receipts even topped those of Tim Burton’s much-anticipated Batman film, which had been the bigger hit domestically. Also in 1989, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic comedy-drama ‘Always’, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. Spielberg’s first romantic film, Always was only a moderate success and had mixed reviews.

In 1991, Spielberg directed ‘Hook’, about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, who returns to Neverland. Despite innumerable rewrites and creative changes coupled with mixed reviews, the film proved popular with audiences, making over $300 million worldwide (from a $70 million budget).

In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the film version of Michael Crichton’s novel ‘Jurassic Park’, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic company, the film would eventually become the highest grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office) with $914.7 million. This would be the third time that one of Spielberg’s films became the highest grossing film ever.

Spielberg’s next film, ‘Schindler’s List’, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler’, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust. Schindler’s List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). With the film a huge success at the box office, Spielberg used the profits to set up the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization that archives filmed testimony of Holocaust survivors. In 1997, the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made (#9) which moved up to (#8) when the list was remade in 2007.

In 1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorks, with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffin. In 1997, he helmed the sequel to 1993’s Jurassic Park with ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’, which generated over $618 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was the second biggest hit of 1997 behind James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ (which topped the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder for box office receipts).

His next film, ‘Amistad’, was based on a true story (like Schindler’s List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg released Amistad under DreamWorks Pictures, which issued all of his films from Amistad until the awful mis-step ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ in May 2008.

His next theatrical release in that same year was the World War II film ‘Saving Private Ryan’, about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) sent to bring home a paratrooper whose three older brothers were killed in the last twenty four hours of action in France. The film was a huge box office success, grossing over $481 million worldwide and was the biggest film of the year at the North American box office. Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction. The film’s graphic, realistic depiction of combat violence influenced later war films such as ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Enemy at the Gates’. The film was also the first major hit for DreamWorks, which co-produced the film with Paramount Pictures (as such, it was Spielberg’s first release from the latter that was not part of the Indiana Jones series). Later, Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced a TV mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers. The ten-part HBO mini-series follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The series won a number of awards at both the Golden Globe and Emmy Awards.

In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick’s final project, ‘A. I. Artificial Intelligence’ which Stanley Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about a humanoid android longing longing for love, A.I. featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline, adapted by Spielberg himself. Though the film’s reception in the US was relatively muted, it performed better overseas for a worldwide total box office gross of $236 million.

Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir ‘Minority Report’, based upon a short story by Philip K. Dick about a Washington D.C. police captain in the year 2054 who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met. The film earned over $358 million worldwide. Roger Ebert, who who named it the best film of 2002, praised its breathtaking vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg blended CGI with live-action.

Spielberg’s 2002 film ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is known for John Williams’ score and its unique title sequence. It was a hit both commercially and critically.


Alma – Short Film

Alma is Rodrigo Blaas’ first short film as a director. Originally from Spain, Rodrigo Blaas has worked in animation for more than ten years, in Spain and in the United States.

Seizing the possibility of directing his first independent short film, Rodrigo Blaas asked some of the best artists in their field to take part in this independent project: French animator Bolhem Bouchiba, character designer Carlos Grangel and Sergio Pablos, ArtDirector Alfonso Blaas, music composer Mastretta and sound designer Tom Myers.

Guillermo del Toro is looking to executive produce a feature length version.

Check out the website for images, bio’s and information.


David Fincher – News Update

With David Fincher doing a lot of interviews for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo over the past few days, there is a good amount of talk out there about the possible second and third films that could follow Dragon Tattoo. David Fincher doesn’t yet know if he’ll direct those films — or he isn’t yet saying, at least. That’s something that likely won’t be announced until after the film has its first opening weekend, which is imminent.

Whether or not those films happen, there are quite a few other projects in Fincher’s queue. Some are movies he might direct, like the Cleopatra film that would star Angelina Jolie, and the pilot for the Netflix series House of Cards. He’s also got 20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea on the docket, and he’s still working as a producer on films like Black Hole (based on the Charles Burns graphic novel, not the Disney sci-fi film) and The Goon. He has offered slight updates on all those projects in the past couple days, quotes below.

First up, Fincher talked to MTV about Cleopatra which The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network producer Scott Rudin is producing, and which has Angelina Jolie attached to play the title character. It sounds like that one is less than set, at least from the perspective of having Fincher direct:

That’s something I would love to do with Angie… It’s something that was brought to me that you have to take seriously. Scott has this wonderful book [by Stacy Schiff] and hopefully Eric can find a way in. I’m not interested in a giant sword and sandal epic.

We’ve seen scope; everyone knows we can fake that. That stuff doesn’t impress in the way that it did even 10 years ago. We expect that from cable. So that’s not the reason to do that. What is it about this character that has purchased this place in our history and imagination that is relatable today?

And on the subject of Cleopatra, Fincher told Collider that the film is still in the earliest stages:

Cleopatra, I haven’t even begun. I’ve just spoken with Angie [Jolie] and Eric [Roth] and I’m trying to figure out how to weigh in. It’s just a discussion about what can it be, what are people expecting, what do we need to do to destroy that?

Then there is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was originally written by Scott Z. Burns, and brought Andrew Kevin Walker on to rewrite.

I don’t know what came before me. We’re plugging away, trying to get a script that sort of satisfies all of the… you know, it’s a tricky thing because it’s a $200 million 3D thing done in water, and you don’t want to go off half-cocked. You can find yourself with a $75 million overage in a movie that completely takes place underwater, especially in 3D. 3D is a whole different thing for reflective sources.

The director is also saying to a few outlets about the fact that doing a sci-fi movie that is set 120 years ago is appealing, in part because of the novelty of seeing the genre through era-appropriate eyes.

Then there’s The Goon, the animated film based on Eric Powell‘s comic book series of the same name. (Totally different project from the Jay Baruchel hockey comedy Goon.) We’ve been tracking this one for a couple of years, but there’s little public info. The last major update came when Fincher appeared with Powell at Comic Con in 2010. We’ve seen some test footage, but at this point there is still no one to pay for the film.

Eric’s been working on it and Tim’s been working on it [Tim Miller from Blur Animation], and Jeff (Fowler). People continue to work on it and refine stuff, but it’s hard for me because I’m in Sweden, so I can’t really make many production meetings, but the attempt is to in January really go out and try and figure out a price that makes sense… I don’t know why you can spend $200 million on The incredibles but you can’t spend $50 million on The Goon,’or $130 million on Kung Fu Panda and $50 million on The Goon.

Fincher also sounds like he’s still working on the adaptation of Charles Burns‘ incredible and disturbing graphic novel Black Hole:

It’s a really great script by Dante Harper, so the hope is that will win out… It’s so weird. It’s so great, because it would be great to see. It’s a very tough… there’s make-up FX and digital FX that are expensive and to do it right, you gotta do it just right, because it has to challenge your idea of the human body.


Steven Spielberg – Part 2

Rejecting offers to direct ‘Jaws 2’, ‘King Kong’ and ‘Superman’, Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFO’s, which became ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ (1977). One of the rare films both written and directed by Spielberg, Close Encounters was a critical and box office hit, giving Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy as well as earning six other Academy Award nominations. It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing, Frank E. Warner). This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg’s rise. However, his next film, ‘1941’, a big-budgeted World War II farce, was not nearly as successful and though it grossed over $92.4 million dollars worldwide (and did make a small profit for co-producing studios Columbia and Universal) it was seen as a disappointment, mainly with the critics.

Spielberg then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released Close Encounters: The Special Edition in 1980. For this, Spielberg fixed some of the flaws he thought impeded the original 1977 version of the film and also, at the behest of Columbia, and as a condition of Spielberg revising the film, shot additional footage showing the audience the interior of the mothership seen at the end of the film (a decision Spielberg would later regret as he felt the interior of the mothership should have remained a mystery). Nevertheless, the re-release was a moderate success, while the 2001 DVD release of the film restored the original ending.

Next, Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark‘ (1981), the first of the Indiana Jones films. The archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford. The film was considered an homage to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and the recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director (Spielberg’s second nomination) and Best Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated for Best Picture). Raiders is still considered a landmark example of the action-adventure genre. The film also led to Ford’s casting in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

A year later, Spielberg returned to the science fiction genre with ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982). It was the story of a young boy and the alien he befriends, who was accidentally left behind by his companions and is attempting to return home. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial went on to become the top-grossing film of all time. E.T. was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

Between 1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing films: ‘Poltergeist’ (1982), for which he also co-wrote the screenplay; a big-screen adaptation of ‘The Twilight Zone’ (1983), for which he directed the segment “Kick The Can”; and ‘The Goonies’ (1984) on which he was executive producer and also wrote the story on which the screenplay was based.

His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel ‘Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom’ (1984). Teaming up once again with Lucas and Ford, the film was plagued with uncertainty for the material and script. This film and the Spielberg-produced Gremlins led to the creation of the PG-13 rating due to the high level of violence in films targeted at younger audiences. In spite of this, Temple of Doom is rated PG by the MPAA, even though it is the darkest and, possibly, most violent Indy film. Nonetheless, the film was still a huge blockbuster hit in 1984. It was on this project that Spielberg also met his future wife, actress Kate Capshaw.

In 1985, Spielberg released ‘The Color Purple’, an adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, about a generation of empowered African-American women during depression-era America. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and future talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey, the film was a box office smash and critics hailed Spielberg’s successful foray into the dramatic genre. Roger Ebert proclaimed it the best film of the year and later entered it into his Great Films archive. The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, including two for Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. However, much to the surprise of many, Spielberg did not get a Best Director nomination.

In 1987, as China began opening to Western capital investment, Spielberg shot the first American film in Shanghai since the 1930s, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel ‘Empire of the Sun’ (1987) starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale. The film garnered much praise from critics and was nominated for several Oscars, but did not yield substantial box office revenues. I’s one of y favourite Spielberg films and was one of the best films of the year.