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Moriarty's RUMBLINGS FROM THE LABS #26: SPIDER-MAN, HANNIBAL and ROCKY & BULLWINKLE + more...

Published at: Jan. 25, 2000, 7:23 a.m. CST by staff

Hey folks, Harry here with the latest Rumbling from that dear old fella, Moriarty. Before we get started reading, I just want to reaffirm that I am not a supporter of the current draft of SPIDER-MAN from Koepp... BUT... Neither is Sony or Raimi. Moriarty launches into SPIDER-MAN and gives that script... quite frankly what it deserves, but... this frustration and anger should not be directed at the current project in you good folks' minds. Massive changes are on the way, and you can rest easy knowing that we will keep you on the up and up with where things are on this project. As will every site on the net that covers cool movies. I tell ya... after reading this Rumblings... all I can think about is... Is it humanly possible that the ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE movie might be a work of some sort of demented genius? Tune in this Summer for the answer!





Hey, Head Geek...

“Moriarty” here.

The year 2000 is well underway now, and things are really heating up here at The Moriarty Labs. We’re working on a major peek behind the scenes of a film that’s heating up as one of 2001’s biggest event pictures. We’re also finishing the tunnel work that’s required for several major set visits, including one to what I consider one of TV’s finest shows. If you factor in the literal mountain of scripts we’re working our way through, it’s a seemingly endless maze of tasks. It’s a good thing we left the Sundance coverage in the capable hands of the lovely Lynn Bracken and our other correspondents. It frees us up to at least make a dent in things today.

NOT EVERYTHING’S NICE

I had occasion to screen New Line’s SUGAR AND SPICE here at the Labs over the weekend with several AICN regulars in attendance. All I knew about the film beforehand was that the script was written by Lona Williams, who also wrote 1999’s DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. I thought that film was an amiable but ultimately aimless “black” comedy, occasionally funny but nowhere near as sharp as Michael Ritchie’s SMILE, a film it was obviously modeled after. When I heard that S&S was supposed to be a dark comedy about cheerleading, I was sure I was going to basically just see more of the same.

Instead, I saw a film that’s pretty good, falling just short of very good. This is a stronger, smarter script than DDG. For one thing, there are real human beings mixed in with the cartoonish stereotypes, a combination that leads to moments of genuine emotion amidst what is a fairly broad comedy. At heart, the film is the story of Jack and Diane -- and, yes, they use the John Cougar song at least once in the movie -- and the way their intense high school love affair affects them and their friends, eventually leading to bank robbery.

The strange truth about Lona Williams as a writer is that she’s not nearly as mean as she wants to be. Considering both of her produced films are ostensibly in the same genre as HEATHERS or ELECTION, it’s amazing how frequently she pulls back from taking any truly brutal shots. In particular, the ending of S&S seems gutless, a collapse after a promising run. Having not read the script, I suppose it’s possible that director Francine McDougall or the studio spearheaded the soft, almost anti-climactic resolution, but it’s not just that one moment that chickens out. Throughout the movie, there are dramatic shifts in tone that seem to undermine Williams’ intent.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot that works in the film. Marley Shelton (PLEASANTVILLE) and James Marsden (DISTURBING BEHAVIOR, X-MEN) make a deeply appealing Jack and Diane. Shelton, who has just taken her place on the list as a potential Mrs. Moriarty, resembles Heather Graham closely, and like Graham, she seems game for anything, ready to harpoon herself, her looks, and any other target she’s given. She’s got great comedy chops, and she provides the film with a great anchor, managing to be both sickly sweet and somehow centered. She almost can’t help but be real. Marsden puts some truly subversive twists on his pretty-boy image, playing Jack as a decent guy who gets blindsided by love and lust. Of the two central roles, his is the easier, but it requires a delicate enough touch that he managed to convince me that he might be smart enough to pull off Cyclops this summer.

The supporting cast has some standouts. Mena Suvari, hot after her turn in AMERICAN BEAUTY, makes a strong impression in her few moments as Kansas, the trashiest of the cheerleaders, and Alexandra Holden, Rachel Blanchard and Melissa George -- ah, the luscious Melissa George -- provide able support as the rest of the squad. Sean Young has a very funny turn as Kansas’ mother, imprisoned since the day Kansas was born. In fact, one of the only really weak links in the film’s cast is Marla Sokoloff as Lisa, the girl whose police interrogation provides the framework for the film. It’s almost not her fault; the framework sucks, and when it finally comes full-circle, it cripples the movie, undermining every bit of interest we’ve had in the film until then.

Overall, the film -- which started life as SUGAR & SPICE & SEMIAUTOMATICS -- isn’t nearly as outrageous or as inspired as it wants to be, and the Tarantino-like bank robbery would only work if it was played seriously, going further than it dares in the current cut. Still, it’s a better film than any of the generic dreck Miramax keeps shoehorning Freddie Prinze Jr. into, and with some judicious editing between now and this summer, S&S just might turn into the tasty treat it wants to be.

DOES SOME OF THE THINGS A SPIDER CAN

Like Harry, I managed to come up with a copy of David Koepp’s SPIDER-MAN script this weekend, and like him, I tore into it the moment I had it home. I’ve been following this film’s development forever, it seems, since I was just a young evil genius reading VARIETY, seeing endless announcements from Cannon about the upcoming movie they were developing. I think that of all the classic superheroes that could be adapted to screen, few have the sheer potential that Spider-Man does. It’s a classic origin story, breathtaking in its simple power, and he’s got one of the great rogue’s galleries out there.

My enthusiasm for Spidey on film was greatly dampened when I got hold of the James Cameron scriptment a few years ago. I’ve heard so many people champion James for the project, lamenting the fact that he’s moved on, and I’ve never understood why anyone who had laid eyes on his horrific handling of the character would be anything but delighted to have him off the film. Even Stan Lee, god bless him, seems to think that Cameron automatically meant the film would work. Reading Koepp’s script, which closely adheres to the details of the scriptment, only confirms for me that it was the absolutely wrong way to approach the material, and I look forward to Sony starting over from scratch on the film’s script. They’ll have to; there’s no saving this one.

First, let me state again for the record: I hate the mutant webshooters that erupt from his wrists. I think it makes Parker into something he’s not, and it undermines one of his character strengths, his love of science. Peter figured out a way to make webbing in the comics, combining his newfound natural abilities with his long-cultivated scientific abilities to make himself into the final version of Spidey. By giving him these David Cronenberg-style webbing tubes that pop out on command, there’s really no reason to ever show him as a science geek. It’s just baggage now.

Second, I hate his relationship with Mary Jane in this script. I hate her introduction, her troubled family life. There’s actually a moment where she leaves her shitty house, then steps across railroad tracks into a decent neighborhood to meet her friends. Come on... that bit’s got whiskers on it, man. “The wrong side of the tracks”?!?! Why not just call the bad guy in the film “Simon Bar Sinister” and be done with it? There’s some decent material between them once they’re both in New York, but it’s too adult, too much of a doomed romance, and there’s too much emphasis placed on it. That bondage-oriented sex scene on top of the bridge has got to go, as well. There’s just no rationalizing it, or exposing Peter’s identity to her so early in the first film of what I’m sure Sony would like to see become a major franchise. I’m not even sure why they feel the urge to jam a fully-formed love story into the film, anyway. It’s SPIDER-MAN. Let’s just worry about one idea -- “with great power comes great responsibility” -- in this film, and start getting into other quirks of the character in later movies. There’s so much to accomplish, and every moment MJ is onscreen is a moment we’re not watching Spidey in action.

Third, I still think these villains are boring. They’re not as bad as Hummingbird Man and The Really Hot Guy from Hensleigh’s disastrous HULK script, but they’re bad. They are handled a little better here than in the scriptment. Hell, Koepp at least has the brains to call them Electro and Sandman in places. Still, the only way to justify using minor villains like this for the first film is to make sure you’re laying groundwork for MAJOR villains to show up in the next film. Come on... introduce Norman Osborne, or give us some hints about Doc Ock and his work. Remember that great scene at the beginning of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE with Zod and his goons in the big swirly thing on trial? Remember when they’re banished to the Phantom Zone? Yes, I know it was all supposed to be one big giant film at one point, but it ended up providing a beautiful, natural set-up for a sequel. Why not build one in from the beginning? You know you want to make other films about Spidey. Embrace that. Plant your seeds early, and it will pay off later.

There’s moments where Koepp really captures the feeling of being Spider-Man, and those are the moments where I can forgive him almost anything. The idea of swinging from building to building in New York, high above those concrete canyons... it’s seductive, and I’d almost go ahead and start production now. Damn the script problems... they’re fixable, right? Besides, it’s just the FX we all care about, right? That’s a dangerous attitude, Sony. Remember GODZILLA as you progress here. Make sure that you’ve got the best possible script, and make sure that it works as drama, not just as a thrill ride.

As far as Harry’s notion of casting James Duval goes, I think it’s intriguing. He’s got a casual physicality about him, as well as a cartoonish, almost exaggerated look. Unlike Harry, I actually know Jimmy, so I have to separate the idea of my friend from the idea of the ideal person for the role. The best thing about Harry’s suggestion is that it’s outside the box. When casting Spidey, the key is finding someone who comes to the role without significant baggage, someone who we the audience will discover as we watch the film. You want to find an actor experienced enough to handle a lead, but still on the fringe of the mainstream, someone who hasn’t had that one role that’s etched into people’s minds yet. Wes Bentley... he’s got crazy eyes. He might make a good Bruce Wayne, but Peter Parker was never a psychopath. Jason Schwartzmann... like I said in my RUSHMORE review last year, he’s a movie star, but he’s too small to pull it off. Nicholas Brendan... nice choice, but his TV work is going to keep him out of contention. He hasn’t carried a film of any size yet, and Sony’s never going to approve him until he does. When you talk about guys like Ryan Phillipe or Capser Van Dien or Leo Di Caprio -- who will be offered the role first, I’m betting, due to his work with Raimi and the fact that he’s freakin’ Leo Di Caprio -- you’re talking about actors who bring other roles into this film, guys who have already broken through. I know I’d believe Jimmy in the film. He can do standing back flips and ridiculous acrobatic moves, and he manages to make it all look second nature. In the end, every decision Sony makes -- whether they work on the script, whether they change directors, whether they spend $100 million or even more -- hinges on finding that right person. Best of luck to them.

HANNIBAL’S HOT

The other big script I read this weekend was Zallian’s draft of HANNIBAL, and it’s so damn good that I’ve been calling friends and reading them chunks of it. It’s richly textured, smart, filled with suspense, and it has a phenomenal ending now, somehow keeping Harris’ intentions intact while making mainstream concessions. I think it works from the first page to the last, with that coda on the airplane serving as a great twist for people who read the book. Zallian’s got a wicked sense of humor that he indulges here and there, but he never loses sight of the fact that this is an adaptation. I don’t know who taught him how to sift through a book and make his choices, but he consistently impresses me as a guy with real taste, real skill. I’m not going to run on and on here, since most of what I have to say about the script echoes Harry’s earlier comments, but I will say that whoever inherits the role of Clarice is going to come off looking brilliant. I wouldn’t alter it just to explain why it’s a different actress, either. After all, Brian Cox did a phenomenal job playing Lecter in the film MANHUNTER, and when Hopkins stepped in to play him in the second film, it was accepted easily. True, MANHUNTER didn’t win a shitload of Oscars, but the point is that the characters are what’s important, not the actors. To have another FBI agent pursuing this case wouldn’t make sense, not with the way the plot is built. It’s only because Hannibal still has a fondness for Clarice that certain elements of the film ever come together.

Oh, yeah... I wanted to point out that this script has the single best use of e-mail and the Internet I’ve encountered in a script. For once, it’s realistic. When someone searches for something, it’s just like it would be in real life. I don’t know why this strikes me as such an innovation, such a startling stylistic breakthrough, but I suspect it’s because of the way I’ve seen the Internet depicted in films like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. It’s just nice to see someone actually use it in a thriller without having to lie. It makes it feel like this could actually happen, like it’s the world I live in, and that makes the horror in the film even more disturbing. Nice touch.

DGA’S GOT SOMETHING TO SAY

Boy, we are deep, deep into awards season now, aren’t we? After the Golden Globes last night, we’re now officially in the home stretch that leads to March and the Oscars. Monday morning saw the announcement of the five nominees for best motion picture directing of the year, and it’s a strong list, even if it’s not exactly what I would have chosen. Sam Mendes for AMERICAN BEAUTY, Spike Jonze for BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, and M. Night Shyamalan for THE SIXTH SENSE are all first-time filmmakers, first-time nominees. Nice year to make a debut, it seems. I’m pleased that Frank Darabont was nominated for THE GREEN MILE, and I suppose I should get used to seeing Mann nominated for THE INSIDER, the first of his films that I just plain don’t like. His work is strong, but I thought Minghella’s work on RIPLEY and Anderson’s work on MAGNOLIA was just impeccable, and I would have preferred either of them in that fifth slot. Any way you look at it, the contests are interesting this year, with plenty of room for last-minute upsets. For the first time in a long time, this season is actually fun.

I KNOW WHAT I’D PICK

Another way you can tell that awards season is underway is all the qualification lists that are trickling out of the Academy. I was happy to see that AMERICAN MOVIE, MR. DEATH, and BEYOND THE MAT all made it onto the list of 12 eligible documentaries that the Academy will be screening. I was also intrigued by the list of seven candidates from which the Academy will choose their three nominees for Best Visual Effects. Right now, THE MATRIX, THE MUMMY, THE PHANTOM MENACE, SLEEPY HOLLOW, STUART LITTLE, WILD WILD WEST and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH are all in the running. Right off the bat, WWW and the Bond film should get bumped. Neither one of them contains anything of any real note. As much as I enjoyed THE MUMMY, I think it’s the slightest of the ILM entries on the list, and I doubt they’ll get more than one slot. Obviously their nomination will be for the groundbreaking work they did on TPM, a film that features the most convincing, overwhelming fantasy environment I’ve ever seen in a movie. No matter what narrative problems someone has with the film, there are sights in it that were simply unthinkable ten years ago. If there’s any film that could steal George’s thunder in this category, it’s THE MATRIX, a film that managed to use its FX as actual character development. Of all the races that are brewing, this is the one that could divide genre fans the most heatedly.

BALLBUSTED... SCREWED... LET’S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF

Okay, Universal, let me offer you just a quick bit of advice: it doesn’t matter what you call it at this point... the film’s doomed. You see, they’ve changed the title of PITTSBURGH or BALLBUSTED or whatever you want to call it again. Now it’s called SCREWED, which seems somewhat appropriate. This is the Norm McDonald/Danny De Vito vehicle about a guy who kidnaps his wealthy employer’s dog and holds it for ransom. The test screenings for this film have been horrific, and the word of mouth couldn’t possibly be any worse. What are you guys waiting for? It’s January, dump month. I mean, MGM managed to get SUPERNOVA out. I’m sure Universal is trying to tread lightly, since this is the directorial debut of Larry Karasziewski and Scott Alexander, who manage to do great work as writers on films like ED WOOD and MAN ON THE MOON. No one’s perfect, though, and this is a return to their PROBLEM CHILD days. Just go ahead and put this out and take your lumps, guys. Let’s see that Village People biopic and pretend this never happened.

HEY, WATCH ME PULL A BLOCKBUSTER OUT OF MY HAT!

No one is more astonished than I am, but I just finished reading the script for Des MacAnuff’s ROCKY & BULLWINKLE, and my face genuinely hurts from smiling and laughing all the way through. I’ve seen that teaser trailer a handful of times now, and I am just as creeped out as anyone by the sight of Bullwinkle standing in a crowd of people. I’ve actually ignored this film as it’s been coming together, flashing back time and again on the dreadful BORIS & NATASHA film or the various evil Jay Ward movies like GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE and DUDLEY DO-RIGHT. I figured there was no way this film would be anything but awful.

And I may have figured wrong.

Kenneth Lonergan has done with his script exactly what I complained above that David Koepp and James Cameron didn’t; he respected his source material, capturing the flavor of it precisely. How much you’re going to end up liking the final film is dependent on a few factors, the first of which is how much you liked ROCKY & BULLWINKLE on television. Me personally, I was a huge fan of the awful puns, the witty word play, and the absurd plots. Lonergan has preserved all of that, crafting a story that is just plain preposterous and is fully aware of it at all times. Until tonight, I didn’t actually know the premise of the film, but I certainly wondered why Fearless Leader, Natasha, and Boris were all people, while Moose and Squirrel were still animated. Turns out, it’s all a plot by Fearless Leader (Robert De Niro) to be elected President of the United States. He realized no one would elect a cartoon (insert your own partisan cheap shot here) and figured out a way to become flesh and blood.

I’m not about to ruin the script’s structure or any of its big jokes, but I had a blast reading it. If MacAnuff shows any sort of aptitude as a visual filmmaker and if ILM really cuts loose with the free-association visuals it will take to match the script, then this has a chance at being something truly special, and I’m certainly eager now to find out if that’s the case.

OF COURSE HE BANGED HER... HE’S JACK!

Looks like the Canton Company is chasing Jack Nicholson now to star in YOU AND ME AND YOU, which is described as the story of an older, retired businessman on vacation who spends the night with the woman of his dreams, only to find out the next morning that she’s the future wife of his son, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in years. The problem with casting Nicholson in almost anything these days is that as soon as I hear that he’s up for a role, I can picture the whole film and the performance. Unless he’s really pushed by something like the proposed AMERICAN CAESAR or AS GOOD AS IT GETS, he overwhelms films with his very Jackness. He’s a larger than life figure now, and the only way he’ll work in this particular project is if the Katherine Reback script rises above a premise that sounds like a bad THREE’S COMPANY episode.

MISSION: MORONIC

Didn’t anyone learn anything from the death of DIVX? Evidently not, because there’s a new process called SpectraDisc that’s being introduced soon, according to the online edition of WIRED magazine. The big “breakthrough” here is the creation of a technology that would cause the coating on DVD discs to self-destruct after just one play. Great... just what the world needs... mountains of useless plastic all because studios hate the fact that we purchase films instead of renting them. Why is it that every studio keeps looking for ways to punish collectors? As soon as someone finds a viable way to create single-play discs, the price on purchase copies will go up, and we’ll be stuck with inferior product at inflated prices. All I can hope is that consumers will ignore the new process if it ever makes it to market, and that confusion and lack of market saturation will kill this process quick.

DVDs IN REVIEW

The mail brought two pleasant surprises lately. First was VAMPYROS LESBOS, a film I had never seen before the great new Synapse Films DVD edition arrived. It’s not a great film -- hell, I’d be hard-pressed to call it a good film, even -- but it’s got an undeniably hypnotic quality. If you’re a fan of lesbian vampires or Jess Franco, I can confidently state that there’s never been a better way to enjoy the film. The only minor technical note I have is regarding a slight flicker that shows up from time to time in the film. It’s like a single frame of black that flashes at several points. It looks to be a fault in the original materials, and Don May, Jr. has done a knockout job of mastering the film’s soundtrack, which is worth the price of purchase on its own. Overall, this is further proof that it’s the smaller collector-oriented companies that are doing the really great work in the medium.

The second film I just got is the upcoming New Line release of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, notable for the secondary commentary track that features John Carpenter and his long-time collaborator Gary B. Kibbe. As always, John is an engaging speaker, and he manages to make this film, one of my least favorite of his later works, seem infinitely more interesting than it did when I first saw it. This isn’t the greatest release from the Platinum Series at New Line, but it points up the consistently solid work they do. Even with a minor film like this one, they deliver exceptional sound and picture, and they’ve made sure that there’s more here than just the film. For fans of the picture, it is a must have as soon as it’s released later this spring.

1-877-TAME HER

Call it. You’ll be glad you did. I mentioned this promotional idea for MAGNOLIA way back when I first reviewed the script, and it cracks me up to see how excited people get over a simple recording of Tom Cruise as Frank “TJ” Mackey in full pig mode. There’s an undeniable kick, though, to hearing him hawk his Search and Destroy system, and his payment methods rant is classic. I hope his Golden Globe was just a precursor to an Oscar win in March. He’s really pushed himself as a performer this year and he deserves it.

By the way, while I’m thinking of it, was anyone else struck by the amazonian beauty of Nicole Kidman’s sister, Cruise’s escort, at the Globes on Sunday? Good god, these Kidman girls are giants. I’m starting to think that Australia might be the perfect new site for the Labs.

Anyway, I have to get back to the ‘90s list. As promised, you’ll see parts II and III later in the week, with the wrap-up coming by the end of the month. Until then...

“Moriarty” out.

Readers Talkback

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  • Jan. 25, 2000, 7:31 a.m. CST

    I can't believe deniro is in this...

    by I'mAlanPartridge

    i saw the trailer and wanted to cry. It just looked...I dunno...awful...but then i know NOTHING about it so id shouldn't judge (yeah right!)

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 7:33 a.m. CST

    But if you say so...

    by I'mAlanPartridge

    I will suspend belief.

  • Seriously, I am!

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 8:20 a.m. CST

    I'll eat his liver....

    by Gil Reynard

    I can't wait for Hannibal to come out.I like Manhunter and love The Silence of the Lambs.Any news on what the plot is going to be?

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Matrix wins, je pense...

    by I'mAlanPartridge

    Just becasue it showed effects can add to the plot of the film rather than being background candy. Having said that Ja-Jar was a TECHNICAL achievement - but an artistic mistake (ie. he wasn't 100% succesful). Whereas Matrix made the FX work for the plot. And I for one had never seen anything like it before.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Did You Say "Jess Franco?"

    by mrbeaks

    The man is a filmmaking God. When it comes to inept directors, I'll take Jess over Ed Wood and Kevin Smith any day of the week. As for DDG, I rented it last week, and laughed maybe once; so, you'll excuse me if I don't await SUGAR AND SPICE with unbridled enthusiasm. How something so poorly conceived made it into production at New Line is beyond me. As Moriarty pointed out, I thought Miramax had the market cornered on uninspired teen comedies. However, you can chalk one up for New Line last weekend, as Miramax's estimates for DOWN TO YOU were off by a whopping $700,000; thus, NEXT FRIDAY is, once again, the box office champ. Really, though..... $700,000? And they're trying to pass that off as an honest mistake?

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 9:54 a.m. CST

    Good for De Niro!

    by cady

    What's wrong with De Niro doing this kind of movie? I'm glad he's trying to do more comedy. He's also never done a family picture. Read somewhere that Kevin Smith (CLERKS, DOGMA) also thought that the script for ROCKY & BULLWINKLE was the funniest he's read in a long time. Looking forward to it. It opens opposite THE PATRIOT and THE PERFECT STORM, both vying for the same audience in the lucrative 5-day 4th of July weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if it comes out on top at the box-office because it's got the family market cornered. I, for one, would rather see it than the other two.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Intergallatic Geek Civil War: Phantom Menace vs. The Matrix!

    by Tall_Boy

    The battle lines will be drawn! Who will come out on top? One thing for certain, this is gonna be bloody! Tune in March for the answer. I know I won't. I'm heading for shelter! (heads for the hills screaming at the top of his lungs)

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 3:21 p.m. CST

    Just curious...

    by Achilles

    OK, this is not a precursor to a slam on any of the AICN crew or anything like that. I have come to enjoy Moriarty's insight, and I've always liked Harry's views when he gets down to the nitty-gritty of filmmaking. My question is this: what do these guys do for a living, i.e. how do they support themselves? Are they writers? Do they actually work in the entertainment industry? Do they make their living solely by working on the site? They do jet off to LA a lot (that can't be cheap) and they're always getting advance copies of this or that. It sounds like they spend an inordinate amount of time watching films or reading scripts, time that would seem to preclude the possibly of having a 9-5 job, unless that actually was their job. If I recall, most or all of these guys live in Austin, not exactly a filmmaking Mecca, so I doubt if it can support a large community of movie industry personnel (although I think Sandra Bullock and Matthew McC. live there). Just wondering, I don't mean to invade anyone's privacy, or anything.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 4:10 p.m. CST

    Magnolia web sites

    by BenthicEx

    www.tameher.com or www.wdkk.com (as in What Do Kids Know?) take you to the Magnolia web site. Kinda cool. I think we have the Blair Witch Project to thank for this "it's really real" advertising. I heard there is a Seduce and Destroy infomercial somewhere on TV. Can anyone confirm this?

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 4:20 p.m. CST

    this SFX thing is no contest

    by Lazarus Long

    Please don't confuse the quality of the film or its story with the special effects. As one who has watched the documentary on the Matrix DVD, and seen many behind the scenes stuff for Phantom Menace (60 minutes special, etc.), it's quite clear that with the Matrix you have everyone creaming their jeans over one thing: the bullet-time photography, which the SFX people DID NOT INVENT FOR THIS FILM. Aside from that technique, you just have some good old decent effects. But Jar Jar criticism aside, the ILM people worked for years on the Episode One effects, and pushed the boundaries of every aspect of effects in film. I'm flabbergasted that you can look at an entire universe that was created, and then compare it to the Matrix, which isn't really more impressive for its time that Terminator 2 (again, one technique, the morphing, speaking for the whole film). This is just going to turn into another Anti-Phantom Meance debate, which should be behind us by now. From a technical standpoint, only a person with Zero conception of the creative process would believe this award belongs to the Matrix team. When the academy voters see the reel of highlights that ILM will provide for TPM, there won't be any question in their minds.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 5:27 p.m. CST

    My first choice for the role of Peter Parker; Chad Christ

    by Jimmy the Saint

    I don't think Jimmy Duvall is the best choice for the role. I just don't think he would be believable as a wizkid. Remember Keanu Reeves as an atomic scientist in Chain Reaction! shudder. No, my first choice for the job is Chad Christ who acted in Gattaca and Jawbreaker. Why do you ask? Age;The actor who is going to play Peter Parker has to look like a teenager, so the actor has to be in the age range of 16 to 23. Chad Christ has the right age. Appearance & Attitude; Chad has played a character in the movie Gattaca that is reminiscent to Peter Parker, when he was a geeky outsider at highschool. But Chad also played a confident kid in Jawbreaker, that acts like Peter after he became Spiderman. And he was believable as both characters, eventhough they couldn

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 6:43 p.m. CST

    SpectraDisc??? Fuck that...

    by Jopapa

    Just the same way all the wars and hatred do, SpectraDisc is physical proof that not only does mankind not learn from its mistakes, but that their all a bunch of dolts obsessed with money and greed. Beam me up, Scotty. There's not a single brain here even worth a squishy shit.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 6:50 p.m. CST

    Best Visual Effects? How about eXistenZ?

    by Stephen Dedalus

    I didn't care for the movie itself very much, but the FX were fantastic, and I'm not just talking about Jennifer Jason Leigh in the tight leather mini-skirt.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Rocky and Bullwinkle Soundtrack

    by gromit

    Let's see if anyone else thinks this is a good idea for the ending credits: Hey, Rocky by Boris Badenough. It's a novelty song from the 80's. I've got an mp3 at http://www.idrive.com/cslemp in the Shared folder.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 7:51 p.m. CST

    Vampyros Lesbos flaw

    by pulpculture

    The brief blackouts during the "Vampyros Lesbos" DVD are where Don May has dropped frames from his print. The prints May cobbled together to get the best transfer possible were not in the best of shape, and May decided the best thing to do was simply drop out the bad frames rathen than leave them (and their artifacts) in. Still, it's as good a transfer of the film as anyone is ever going to see.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 7:51 p.m. CST

    I guess I'm not the only one who watched the Oscars last year...

    by EL Duderino

    Did anybody remember when Scorcese and DeNiro were up on the stage about to present a series of clips of Stanley Kubrick (There was one other guy up there with DeNiro and Scorcese presenting this) and DeNiro's hair nearly took all of the seriousness of the event away because it looked so bad? Did anybody ever post a scoop on how that was the haircut for Rocky and Bullwinkle? Either way, I hope this movie does the series justice and doesn't turn out to be anything less than what the TV show was.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 8:38 p.m. CST

    HA!!!!!II knew it!!!!

    by user id indeed!

    You foolish naysayers once said Rocky and Bullwinkle would fail!!!Now look at you all!!!You believe!!!Yes!!!Gaze,my friends.Gaze upon the wonder that will surely be the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie!!!Go Rams!Superbowl,BABY!!!!!

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 9:28 p.m. CST

    TPM? Matrix? VFX Oscar?

    by Devils Halo

    Matrix, while it is gracious eye-candy, did nothing to further the accomplishments of visual effects. there was nothing groundbreaking and they only succeeded in 'bullet-time', something already being used (and already OVER-USED). TPM may be well ahead of the pack for overall achievement, but I think people may vote for Stuart Little. Now if Jar Jar had fur... that would probably cinch the Oscar for ILM, but I don't remember too many hairy creatures in TPM swimming in washing machines. The VFX Oscar goes to advancement of the medium, not artistic uses. Tho I keep scratching my head as to why Babe won over Apollo 13, in a field missing a 3rd participant.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 9:36 p.m. CST

    Can Lona Williams just steal ALL of Michael Ritchie's work while

    by Chthonico

    So she rips off Smile to make the pathetically unfunny Drop Dead. That does'nt work so the next logical step? To steal ideas from Ritchie's incredibly smart (and woefully under-appreciated) Positively True Adventures of the Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom (easily Holly Hunter's best work- and Beau Bridges' too for that matter). Gee what else has Ritchie made that she can steal, since she obviously can't come up with original concepts of her own?

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 10:15 p.m. CST

    Where the hell is Fight Club?

    by Basilica

    Damn the Academy, they leave Fight Club out of every frigging category! I understand why they wouldn't nominate best picture of director because the movie is way to subversive for them, but dang nabbit, it deserves at least a nomination for best special FX. I mean, come on, what was cooler: a fast boat going over some jumps, of a shot of the human brain, or of a jet liner being ripped in half? Now Phantom Menace will win best FX, no doubt about it, but Fight Club at least deserves a nomination.

  • Jan. 25, 2000, 11:43 p.m. CST

    Rocky & Bullwinkle movie might just work...

    by Kubrick

    I remember seeing the trailer for Rocky and Bullwinkle. A wonderful parody of the trailer for the 1st Superman movie and a nice refrence to another live-action/animated movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Honestly, I think this movie may just be very good.

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 12:48 a.m. CST

    Rocky and Bullwinkle

    by ultraman

    I just came back from the LA Gift show. You should see all the cool Rocky and Bullwinkle merchandise that is coming out. And wait until Toy Fair in New York. R & B is going to be a huge movie this summer which is why it has the 4th of July opening date. But the MOVIE EVENT OF THE YEAR will be at the beginning of the summer season by Universal again it will be The Flinstones. I know a lot of people didn't like the first one but this one is different. Live action and animation and a whole new attitude and cast. Everything you love about the cartoon will be reflected in the movie. Wait until you hear the details of the story Baby this is gonna ROCK. The casting is incredible and there's SOMETHING ELSE. Brian Levant directs Spielberg produces. Mark my words This will go down as one of the coolest movies Spielberg has ever touched in his carrer. DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID. I can't say anything else because I will be in BIG TROUBLE. 3 of the top movies of the year will come from Universal The Flintstones, The Grinch, Rocky and Bullwinkle.

  • These aren't technical computer whizzes who are voting for the VFX oscars, its the members of the academy, for crying out loud! I'm sure you all know how Oscars often aren't just given out for a single performance, but also for their contributions to film and their bodies of work. Lucasfilm's presence is going to play a big part in their decisions...

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 2:33 a.m. CST

    I'm on the fence about "Rocky and Bullwinkle."

    by Cereal Killer

    The teaser trailer looks like the worst kind of crap but Moriarty says the script is good so I'll reserve judgement for now. The effects award will probably (rightly) go to "Phantom Menace." The movie itself sucked but the effects are innovative. The only thing standing in its way is if voters mistakenly think Jar Jar, Watto and those Trade Federation guys are the sum-total of the effects. If they pay close attention to the cityscapes and vistas then "Phantom Menace" stands far above everything else that came out last year. It's just a pity that the script was so weak. As for "Fight Club," it had great effects but they don't give awards to movies that die at the box office. "Sugar and Spice" I'll go see since I enjoyed "Drop Dead Gorgeous." True it didn't push hard enough with the black comedy but it was still funny. As for "Spider-man," I always felt that having Parker invent his own webshooters was a weakness in the story and that he should've mutated so that they shot from his wrists organically. It doesn't make sense that he'd be broke when he invents this substance which would have many uses in the real world and would be worth millions of dollars. By rights if he were bitten by a spider and developed spider-like characteristics then he should be able to spin a web. Of course if we're being technical then the web shouldn't shoot from his wrists but should instead come out of his ass (or thereabouts). I still think that either Freddie Prinze or Nicholas Brendan make good choices for Peter Parker. This James Duvall guy is too Keanu-like for me. Parker isn't some dope-headed surfer type who looks like he bathes in bong water. This guy might make a good Jeff Spicoli in a remake of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (God forbid) but he's all wrong for Peter Parker. Also wrong would be Ryan Phillipe; right build but far too suave and in love with himself.

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 3:15 a.m. CST

    VFX and Technical Achievments are two different things

    by prajadhipok

    Isn't there another section of the academy awards dedicated to Technical Achievement? I wouldn't be surprised if TPM was cocksucked in those categories, but think about it... which movie did you gawk over more when the scenes came in? Matrix's Bullet Time was actually innovative cuz its not really the GAP ad weve seen, its far more superior to that if you look closely. My jaw dropped first time I saw it, and I still get amazed by it.

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 4 a.m. CST

    Bullet time VS. Gap Ads

    by Niiiice

    Its not all too obvious, but the GAP ads are frozen, then the camera rotates. On the Matrix DVD, the "innovation" came in when they decided for the characters to move while the camera moved and changed angles around them, something that showed heavy anime influence. How innovative that really is is subjective. Personally, I think they used it almost to the point of overkill in the Matrix, particaularly during the scene where Morpheus is jumping from the skyscraper and the agents shoot him in the leg. Just a thought....

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 8:26 a.m. CST

    Artaud in Austin

    by Achilles

    Hey Artaud, I wasn't dismissing Austin at all. I've never been there but I do hear great things about the town. I'm sure it is a great place to live (hence the reason why big name actors are moving there). All I was saying is that I don't think it could qualify as a filmmaking capital of America.

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 3:09 p.m. CST

    VFX, best improvements? best use? or best innovation?

    by enigma

    of all the nominees only TPM deserves the oscar for effects simply because how jaw dropping thet are. and as for all those who believe flo-mois a good story telling tool? how exactly realy? it hsows nothing about what its supposed ot imply, complete control of your environment, its just a spinny camera for gods sake. the REAL winner should be FIGHT CLUB. i dunno why it wasn't nominated, the title sequence was amazing. In fight club you only knew the things were cgi because you know no camera could move that fast etc. it is also a real use of the medium for narrative unlike a 'spinny camera' SPOILERS!! The film shaking literally The fake scene markers the title sequence the ikea room the basement bomb finding camera the Tyler vs Tyler fight the love scene the shooting himself the airplane collision need i go on? nu'uh fight club innovated special effects, its not an action film or a special effects film so no nomination despite it ebing the best use. and why no nom for mystery men?

  • Jan. 26, 2000, 5:31 p.m. CST

    Does this mean you're going to be regular again Moriarty?

    by All Thumbs

    And I'm talking about your column, evil one, not your prune juice intake.***I tried getting into this Talk Back all day yesterday (well, at least three times) and got an error message. It's almost no fun posting the first time in a day-old Talk Back. The energy from the author isn't lingering anymore and the energy from spirited Talk Back fights, er, discussions is only starting to form. Anyways...hope everything is fixed and that we'll see a lot more of our fav AICN writers on here, regularly.

  • Jan. 27, 2000, 12:23 a.m. CST

    Fight Club is the 3rd best movie ever made and the best movie ma

    by darius25

    Right behind Trainspotting (#2) and Braveheart (#1). Fight Club should win Best Everything HANDS DOWN!!!! That was all I had to say.

  • Jan. 27, 2000, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Ahem...Is there a Doctor Doom in the house?

    by Mahoney

    Forget any other Spidey villian out there...Doctor Doom is the one you need.

  • Jan. 27, 2000, 9:15 a.m. CST

    Matrix vs TPM, now I want a nice clean fight, no punches below t

    by Palmer Eldritch

    So what if the Matrix effects were used in the gap ads first so they're not as good as the TPM effects? like there hasn't been a mixture of live action and CGI combinations before, or totally CGI characters (Jabba in the SE anyone?) or motion capture. Anyway, what's wrong with movies taking effects and techniques from other forms. Does that mean that Januzs Kaminski shouldn't have his oscars for "Schindlers List" and "Saving Private Ryan" because natural light, handheld camera work and shutter effects were used in documentaries before feature films, or that Kubrick should have his Oscar for best special effects for "2001" posthumously taken away because he and Trumball copied the stargate "slitscan" technique from avant garde animators. A lot of TV ads have budgets and shooting shedules that are vast compared to movies if scaled up to the same running time (say 1 week and $1m to shoot thirty seconds, not even Titanic can rival that per frame!) Is is any wonder ads are the test beds for the most advanced FX.

  • Jan. 27, 2000, 3:48 p.m. CST

    Moriarity: Shyamalan is NOT a first time filmmaker!

    by mjr_8

    He also wrote/directed "Praying with Anger"('92) and "Wide Awake"('98). Am I the only one who thought "The Sixth Sense" wasn't that good. Other than the gimmick, it is just Hollywood fluff. Not exactly DGA material. Where's Neil Jordan, David Fincher, or Milos Forman. Far better directors, far better movies.

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