Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cameron vs. M. Night?

When I first saw this story, I really was hoping poor, embattled M. Night Shyamalan really was gonna take on James Cameron, but it turns to just be a still fairly comical game of coincidences.

Just as James Cameron was revealing details about his long-gestating "Avatar" flick, which will become the first $200 million movie, if I'm not mistaken, M. Night and Paramount were announcing their own plans for a series of "Avatar" movies.

As fun as it would be to see a clash of the titans (well, a titan and a fallen idol, anyway), the similarity apparently ends at the name.'

Cameron's flick, aiming for a summer 2009 release, pits a band of humans in a battle against a distant planet's indigenous population. He will use the 3-D technique he has perfected in documentaries and special-effects help from Peter Jackson's Weta crew.

Young Aussie actor Sam Worthington will play an ex-Marine who ends up leading the planet's indigenous species in battle against the human colonizers, and Zoe Saldana will play a local woman with whom Worthington's character falls in love.

Even with $200 millin behind him, this all just makes me kinda say meh. It's gonna have to look really friggin fantastic to add anything new to this rather tired story line. In fact, I'm amazed to be saying it, but M. Night's "Avatar" may be the more interesting of the two.

His flick will be based on the popular Nickelodoen kids TV series. The show, which i admittedly have never seen, is set in an Asian-influenced fantasy world permeated by martial arts and magic, and follows the adventures of the successor to a long line of Avatars who must put aside his irresponsible ways and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. M. Night's flick will be a live-action version of the animated show.

The best thing about that description is it could fairly entertaining or just epicly awful (think the disastrous BBC production of the Narnia stories - just wretched.) And M. Night has proven he is capable of going either way. Stay tuned.

"Bandidas" on DVD

When I first read the description of this in a preview of 2006 flicks, I remember turning to my co-worker Renee Martinez and declaring it just might be the best idea for a movie ever conceived. Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek robbing banks across Mexico, with a comedic assist from the always-funny Steve Zahn.

But it never appeared in a movie theater in my little corner of the world, or anywhere else, as far as I know. And it probably was never meant to. Because although this movie could never be called great by any standard, it is fairly good in that category of Saturday afternoon TV movies.

You know what I mean. The kind of movie that looks instantly familiar and comfortable, the kind that you always stop by for at least a few minutes of when it pops up over and over again on TBS. "Bandidas" is destined for heavy rotation in that arena, and I'll tune in for at least a few minutes when I find it there.

The movie's strength is in its comedy, and specifically in the banter between its dazzling leading ladies. Cruz and Hayek were clearly having fun playing rivals who eventually join forces, and it shows. And, of course, they look great doing it.

What silly story there is involves an American robber baron (a completely over-the-top Dwight Yoakam), who runs Mexican farmers off their land to clear the way for a railroad. After their families are attacked, Cruz and Hayek, with help from Zahn as a bumbling criminologist, set out to rob banks to help their countrymen get back on their feet.

Luckily, it's all played out as silly as it sounds. Though it's not nearly as good, the movie it most reminded me of is "Tombstone," which holds a special place in my heart.

One wrong note: Though I will never complain about watching Penelope Cruz showing off her ample cleavage, there's one scene that's just unbelievably degrading. After our pair of bandidas looks to Sam Shepard (wtf?) for help in training for their crime spree, he puts them through a series of physical tests. The oddest of these was having them inexplicably do pushups in a shallow pool, making their already rather skimply outfits - of course - wet.

Why two actresses of this caliber would put up with such nonsense is beyond me, but this wasn't enough to ruin the fun vibe that permeates the rest of this flick. I'd never recommend buying it, but for a weekend rental, you can certainly do a lot worse.


Anonymous said...

As long as Shyamalan is basing his stuff on someone else's work, I should be fine with his Avatar. Its like when he went to film school, he was only in the writing class for how to write a first act. The big "reveal" in his movies should come in the first 25-30 minutes, and the remaining hour should be the story.
Anyway, still no word on "Dante's Inferno" on here . . . just wondering how you think it will be.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm intrigued by Dante's Inferno, Jeremy, but I haven't posted anything about it yet because I really haven't heard anything yet ... I like Vincent Spano, despite his faults, and it should be interesting, even it turns out to be a big mess

Anonymous said...

Hmm . . . I didn't even know about the Vince Spano one--I meant the paper doll one w/ Dermot Mulroney and James Cromwell.
Dante's Inferno

Reel Fanatic said...

Wow ... with paper dolls? That looks pretty incredible, and definitely one I will check out as soon as I can

Anonymous said...

Dante's Inferno would certainly be cool... Oh, I thought 'Waterworld' broke the infamous 200 million barrier.

sarah said...

Idiocracy sounds pretty amusing (previous post)

i'm still devistated that i *probably* won't be able to see Pan's Labyrinth on the big screen.

Valerie said...

Woo-hoo, an AVATAR movie! I never thought I would say this about a cartoon, but I love them. At first I netflixed them to watch with my son, soon my husband and I were both hooked.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm gonna have to check themself out myself on DVD, Valerie .. I love that style of animation, so it should be a kick

RC said...

the avatar idea just seems really dull to me.