Top 10 movie-related stories from January 2013
Here's a new feature for JoBlo.com where, every month, we're going to look back at some of the most popular stories in the world of entertainment and fandom, weigh in with our two cents and offer you guys the same opportunity. The types of stories covered will range from general entertainment news, to movies, TV, and even video games and comics should something huge break. Basically, anything that engages our audience. More than anything, this is meant to be a fun look back at some of the biggest stories of the month- ranging from the huge, to the more obscure items that you may have missed. Everyone's encouraged to offer their opinion on the stories, and- if I've missed anything, please be sure to strike back below. Here we go- with January 2013...
After being delayed four months in the wake of the tragic Aurora shooting, which resulted in a partial re-shoot to eliminate a movie theater shootout, GANGSTER SQUAD finally opened in North American theaters. The reaction was tepid at best. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film sits at 33% “rotten”, while financially it's managed to eke out $43 million- so far. Financially, that's not a terrible result, but it's underwhelming given the hot cast, which includes Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. My own review
was pretty negative, and most talkbackers seemed
to agree it was a letdown, despite some good performances (Gosling) and a few solid action scenes. As for the re-shoots, apparently the movie theater shootout was replaced by a similar scene set in Chinatown, which many- including myself, singled out as the best part of the movie.
In the second
biggest piece of STAR WARS news this month, Lucasfilm- now owned by Disney, has opted to discontinue the 3D re-releases of the original saga, following last year's middling release of THE PHANTOM MENACE in post-converted 3D. To most fans, this seems like a good move. Having sat through the 3D version of episode one, it seemed like a pretty blatant cash grab, although I'll admit to being disappointed that the original trilogy won't be coming back to the big-screen. If Lucasfilm REALLY
wants to get people excited for the new films, the best idea would be to re-release the original, non-special edition versions of the original trilogy theatrically. Now THAT
would be exciting.
After losing yet another showrunner, AMC hired Scott Gimple to take over for the departing Glen Mazzara on the fourth season of THE WALKING DEAD. While Gimple was already on the writing staff, Mazzara's departure is controversial. For one thing, Mazzara himself was a replacement for the original showrunner, Frank Darabont. After a rocky season two, many WALKING DEAD fans say the first half of season three has been the best ever- and many say that's thanks to Mazzara at the helm. While he'll be finishing out the season (the second half of season three begins soon), Gimple will be assuming control as of next season. How will that affect the show? We'll have to wait and see...
Arnold Schwarzenegger's official return to the silver screen came and went pretty quickly with THE LAST STAND. It's opening weekend, it barely broke the top ten, opening at number 10, with a measly $6.3 million, with business plummeting from there. What happened? It would be easy to explain if THE LAST STAND happened to be bad, but it wasn't. THE LAST STAND has a 59% RT rating, which is pretty decent for an action movie. It's a fun film- maybe a tad fluffy, or cheesy, but it's certainly a good time at the movies. In fact, I'd wager it's Arnie's best since ERASER. Maybe it's that after years of being the governor of California, no one wants to see Arnie back as an action hero. Or maybe he's too old (although his age suits the part perfectly)? Who knows? It's a great little flick, and hopefully people will give it a chance when it hits Blu-ray/VOD. We'll see if his team up with Sly (whose own BULLET TO THE HEAD did even worse than LAST STAND)- THE TOMB does any better.
The poster for Fede Alvarez' upcoming remake of EVIL DEAD promises to be “the most terrifying film you will ever experience.” Some how I doubt it- but, an intriguing sign is that the MPAA slapped it with an NC-17 after seeing the first cut. It was immediately chopped down to an R-rating (with an unrated Blu-ray/DVD likely to follow)- but this is a good sign. At least it promises that Alvarez isn't going the route of many other “re-imaginings” by watering down the original. As Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi are both on-board as producers, I'm very optimistic.
The biggest surprise to emerge from the MPAA this month was that they've slapped A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD with an R-rating. The first films were all hard-R, but LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD was watered down to a PG-13 at the eleventh hour. I'm very surprised Fox is letting this go at R, as the rumour was this was conceived as PG-13. It's a pleasant surprise to be sure- and it means we'll at least get a full-on “yippie-kay-yay-mother-fucker” at some point. But is this the case of GOOD DAY being a full-on R, or did the MPAA just have a bee in their bonnet for violence in this case? Take for example THE EXPENDABLES 2, which I'm pretty sure was conceived as a PG-13 (notice no swearing in the film), until being slapped with an R-anyway, which explains all the slap-dash CGI gore. Will A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD be more of the same? We'll know soon enough.
Days after Lance Armstrong finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his now infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey, the gossip mill was buzzing that J.J Abrams was prepping a biopic, with Bradley Cooper rumored to star. It seems the rumors were just that- rumors, with Cooper recently denying he'd ever do an Armstrong biopic. Even if it doesn't come soon, there will inevitably be a Lance Armstrong biopic at some point. He may be a lying jerk, but he's a fascinating character, although it's certainly too soon for him to get the big-screen treatment (no one wants to see him make money off a film either). But, it'll happen sooner or latter.
I was lucky enough to attend this year's edition of the Sundance Film Festival, and once again it was jam-packed with films. It's far too early to tell which films are going to catch on, but I saw a few that seem poised for crossover success, including THE SPECTACULAR NOW, THE WAY WAY BACK, and FRUITVALE, which is already getting Oscar buzz. Again, we'll have to wait and see- but of the twenty-nine films I saw, there were only two or three bad ones. That's pretty damn solid.
Given that nine films were nominated for best picture, and only five directors got the nod, there was bound to be a lot of controversy over the directors who got snubbed. Katherine Bigelow, and Quentin Tarantino both got overlooked, but perhaps most surprising was Ben Affleck, who everyone assumed was a lock for ARGO. What's even stranger is that Affleck won the Golden Globe and the DGA award for best director, without even getting nominated for an Oscar. And, with ARGO now the front-runner to win the big prize, his exclusion seems very strange indeed.
Well, what else could have been number one? J.J Abrams being signed to direct the new STAR WARS movie is the biggest news since...well, since Disney bought Lucasfilm. Abrams for director seemed like wild fan speculation only a month ago, but now it's official. To me, Abrams seems like a logical choice, with him being an admitted devotee of the type of film-making exemplified by Lucasfilm at it's best. Abrams directing STAR WARS is like Joss Whedon directing THE AVENGERS, in that he'll give fans the film they want to see, while still appealing to a huge crossover audience. This is exciting news.
The only downside is that by jumping on STAR WARS, what happens to his STAR TREK series? STAR TRK INTO DARKNESS looks amazing, but certainly Abrams will be too busy with STAR WARS to helm a third film. And really, do we want Abrams to have a monopoly on sci-fi for the next decade? What will probably happen is that Abrams will continue with STAR TREK as a producer, with another director at the helm. It certainly worked well for MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE- GHOST PROTOCOL, so if he's able to bring in a director like Brad Bird, or someone similarly exciting, both franchises will be in good hands.