Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Snow White and the seven ... shaolin monks?

When I first heard this I had to assume it was a joke, but perhaps not. And, after all, doesn't just about everything in life go better with kung fu?

According to Variety, Disney has signed Francis Lawrence ("Constantine") to helm the fantasy-adventure "Snow and the Seven." The live-action project inspired by the "Snow White" fairy tale focuses on a British girl raised in 19th-century Hong Kong who realizes her destiny is to conquer an evil force. She then prepares to fight by training with seven Shaolin monks.

Stop laughing if you can and imagine this. The "seven" concept may be more than a little tired, but the more I think about this idea (rather than anything having to do with the day ahead of me) the more it just sounds like the perfect kind of fun.

Why? Well, for one, Hong Kong fight choreographer extraordinaire Woo-ping Yuen, who oversaw the action for, among many others, "Fearless," "Kill Bill" and, perhaps most importantly, "Kung Fu Hustle," is already on board for this.

Now, if they can get Stephen Chow's acrobatic running mates, and maybe Mr. Chow himself, to play the seven monks, I'll definitely be on board. Besides, no matter how silly this all turns out to be, no kid should live too long without learning at least a little karate, so I can just say bring it on.

"Godfather IV"? What could have been

No one comes out looking out too good in this rather sad story.

According to the IMDB, when Mario Puzo was very sick and nearing death, Francis Ford Coppola approached Paramount Pictures with a pitch for a Puzo-written "Godfather IV" to give his old friend some much-needed cash. Paramount, understandably after the rather disastrous "Godfather III," balked at investing lots of money in a new chapter, and therefore passed.

Coppola, so desperate to help the ailing Puzo, apparently went to Paramount in 1999 with the offer to help Puzo write a final chapter for free. He said, "He and I cooked up an idea for what there would be for The Godfather IV and we went to Paramount... and we said, 'Look, Mario is not well. Hire him to write this Godfather IV script, I will help him, do it for nothing...' Mario was very concerned to leave his kids some money and they just never made the deal... Mario died and it was heartbreaking."

Now, there have certainly been worse reasons to make a movie, but I don't see how you can possibly blame Paramount for this. Who would have taken on a "Godfather IV" at that point? Either way, I guess we're all just left to imagine our own ending, which may be for the best.

Does Hollywood fear the black superhero?

Given that John Singleton has directed what I have quite often cited as my least favorite film of all time, I have to take this one with a huge grain of salt, but I fear the man may have a point.

Along with bankrolling some fairly great flicks ("Hustle & Flow" among them, so thanks!), Singleton has been struggling for a while now to direct one of two superhero flicks. The first is "Luke Cage," which is set to star Tyrese Gibson as a man who, wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn't commit, escapes from prison to become a superhero mercenary. That one has, according to Singleton himself, undergone several script revisions already and is slow to get started.

Another possibility for Singleton is "Black Panther," the black Marvel superhero created by Stan Lee who made his first appearance in the "Fantastic Four" comics. That's admittedly all I know about the character who is largely credited as being the first black superhero.

Which got me to thinking ... have there been any black superheros on the big screen? I can only think of Samuel L. Jackson's Frozone in "The Incredibles," but I'm talking about in a starring role. I certainly can't think of any, and Mr. Singleton thinks he may know why. Here's what the director had to say to

JS: There's scripts on it. Hollywood has a very limiting view on what makes a pop culture picture. If you put a black face on it, they think it's black thing; but yet we have all these movies that have come up and whenever they any black people in it, they make all this money. That's the thing that's holding 'Luke Cage' up. They think it's a small superhero movie. It's not going to be a small stupid movie like 'Meteor Man'. I'm trying to make 'Luke Cage'.

Amen brother. I'm definitely pulling for him on this one, even with my doubts about his directing skills. So, what was that Singleton movie I just hate so much? "Higher Learning." Just typing out the words gives me painful flashbacks!

Two posters worth drooling over

The first of these comes courtesy of the great Froggy film site, which despite being in French is simply one of the best movie resources on the planet. Want proof? It's the only place I could find this utterly cool poster for "Hellboy 2" this morning. After "Pan's Labyrinth" I'll follow Guillermo del Toro just about anywhere, and I could definitely do with more Hellboy. The art for this was done by Mike Mignola and presented at Comic-Con.

Next comes a simply cool poster for that J.J. Abrams monster flick that's apparently not called "Cloverfield" or "1/18/08," but actually "Overnight" (yawn.) I'd be more quick to dismiss this as the next "Snakes on a Plane" flop waiting to happen if it weren't written by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" vet Drew Goddard. This poster is swiped directly from Aintitcool, where you can go to see more pictures from the movie set.

R.I.P Michaelangelo Antonioni

I have to confess that I know very little about Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni, but I was still sad to hear that he had passed away Monday at age 94.

In fact, the only Antonioni movie I have seen is "Blow Up," but that alone is enough to make him a legend to me (yes, I know, I should see "L'Aventurra" asap.) "Blow Up" was such an odd movie that it just stuck in my mind much longer than most flicks do. What made it so memorable was that, despite Antonioni's clear hatred of the modern world, he still managed to craft something so singularly cool.

Here, in his honor, is one of its best scenes, in which David Hemmings stumbles into an underground party only to find the Yardbirds tearing things up and bringing (in Antonioni's eyes) the world down with them. Enjoy!


jeremy said...

Yeah, Bergman, Antonioni and a video artist who you probably never heard of (Jeremy Blake), all in a 24 hour period. The world has lost some visionaries, certainly. And yes, you most definitely need to see L'Avventura.

As for black superheroes--um, does MeteorMan count?

Reel Fanatic said...

I wanted to include Meteorman, Jeremy, but that movie is just so damn silly that I just couldn't bring myself to do it! .. You're right that I've never heard of Jeremy Blake, but there are many great things in this world that somehow pass me by

Splotchy said...

John Singleton is (in my opinion) a truly awful director, and while racism is certainly alive and well in Hollywood and elsewhere, I'd chalk up Singleton's inability to get these projects started as more of a testament to his stinkiness than his blackness.

Having read Marvel comics as a lad, I feel free to give you my opinion that Black Panther and (especially) Luke Cage aren't particularly interesting superheroes. A side note: I believe that for a brief time, Cage was actually in the Fantastic Four, replacing The Thing, who had gone off to find himself or something.

And lastly, I don't think Blade is black in the comix, but he certainly was onscreen.

Chalupa said...

What about Spawn?

On a side note, there's a Rammstein music video where the band is the 7 dwarves and Snow White is this crazy tyrant that beats them, steals the gems they mine and then dies of a drug overdose, not from a poisoned apple. I thought it was pretty hilarious. I never thought of the story in that way before.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah ... You're certainly right there, splotchy! .. And I think you're mostly right about Singleton ... He seems to have somewhat better luck as a producer, so maybe he should just stick to that.

Lorcy said...

Yep, as with female superheroes, Hollywood does have a problem, mainly fear of scaring the stereotypical white male 14 year old audience,

The Blade Trilogy is probably the most successful black superhero franchise, but it's often more preceived as a vampire/horror/action/Wesley Snipes franchise than a pure superhero one,

John Stewart in the Justice League animated series and the Static series are also pretty popular.

Steel played by Shaquille O'Neal and Spawn are probably the only black superheroes to date to get to the big screen. Incidentally there is quite a few superhero parodies with black actors: Meteor Man, Blank Man, Super Soul Brother, Pluto Nash (maybe?)

this site has a great list of current and past black superheroes


Jonathan said...

Singleton is pretty much a hack as far as I'm concerned. "Boyz N the Hood" is his one good film, and even that one doesn't hold up near as well as say "Menace 2 Society," "Do the Right Thing," or the highly underappreciated "South Central." Out of curiosity what is the Singleton film that you site as the worst; I assumed it was "2 Fast 2 Furious," but I would understand if you said "Shaft" or "Poetic Justice" as well.

Reel Fanatic said...

It's "Higher Learning" for me, Jonathan ... Singleton has made many stinkers to choose from, but that one just stands out to me as being just purely awful .... And thanks for the link, lorcy .. I've often wondered why it is that black superheroes appear so often in spoofs, but so rarely in serious (well, sort of serious) superhero flicks

Mercurie said...

Snow and the Seven sounds ridiculous on paper, but then I can think of plenty of kung fu movies that sound silly when you describe them but somehow work on the screen!

I think Steel and Spawn are pretty much the only black superheroes in film right now. I know others would count Blade, but I see him as a vampire hunter instead of a superhero (Buffy doesn't count as a superhero, too). I know that distinction is a thin one at best, but to me a superhero fights all sorts of crime, not just the supernatural sort. LOL.

Anyway, I really would like to see Luke Cage on the big screen. He was one of my favourites from the Seventies. A Black Panther movie would be interesting as well, although the character never interested me as much as Cage.

It's sad that both Bergman and Antonioni died the same day. I've been a huge Bergman fan for about twenty years. I've seen a few of Antonioni's films (L'Aventurra, Blowup, and The Passenger) and I have to say I enjoyed them a lot (Blowup is one of my favourite films).

Jonathan said...

How did I forget about "Higher Learning?" Yeah, that is about as pretentious and godawful as a film can get. Maybe that's why I forgot about it.

renee said...

Keith, I hope your brother is ok tonight.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for your concern, Renee .. He is indeed OK, and I'm told he was dining safely in St. Paul as that happened

Fated said...

I love your blog. :) It amuses me. I agree with you about Guillermo del Toro.

Horray for movies!

The Playlist said...

Might you have a link somewhere to the Godfather story? I've looked all over IMDB's news and celeb news section, but i cannot find it.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ask and you shall receive .. I found the story through the always reliable and usually fantastic filmick blog, but here's the original IMDB link, assuming it still works