Why can't Terry Gilliam catch a break? As a former member of Monty Python, Gilliam should receive whatever he wants for life, a system Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and John Cleese have worked out with the British government, I believe. And yet the group's lone American still has to struggle and stretch to make his projects reality. Okay, so Gilliam makes strange movies. 12 Monkeys? Strange. Brazil? Stranger. And he has some bad luck, like when his movie about Don Quixote imploded (as documented in the film Lost in La Mancha), and when Heath Ledger, the star of his latest film, died in the middle of shooting. But he still managed to finish it, so why doesn't anybody want to distribute the thing?! Don't they know how important this man's work is? He was in Monty Python!
If you're anywhere near a computer, television or another entity drawing breath, you know that movie villains are kind of hot right now. Hoping to cash in on a little of that Batman scratch is Sony, who just pushed into development a project that would bring back Venom, Spidey's gooey black nemesis from Spider-Man 3.
Collectors and speculators everywhere are apparently snapping up Heath Ledger action figures left and right from Mattel's toy line for The Dark Knight. According to a (kinda) recent New York Post article, toys of Ledger as The Joker are hard to find, and go for double the price or more on eBay. Granted, this happens every time a new wave of Batman toys gets released, because there are always more Batmen than villains, but the frenzy over Mr. Ledger's likeness -- his only action figure so far - seems especially feverish. Which gives us a great idea for a successful toy line...
Riddle me this, riddle me that -- who can possibly defeat the big, bad Bat? Not Brendan Fraser, Jet Li, three yetis and an army of zombies, that's for sure. The Dark Knight topped the box office for the third week in a row, bringing in an additional $43.8 million, for a grand total so far of 394.9 million in the U.S. alone -- plus $200 million overseas. And the film has yet to open in Germany and Russia. That's Bruce Wayne folding money, son! Sadly, Batman will be defeated next weekend by the combined forces of the Green Hornet (Seth Rogen) and the Green Goblin (James Franco) in the stoner action flick Pineapple Express. C'est la vie!
When Aunty Entity sang "We Don't Need Another Hero" at the end of Mad Mel Beyond Thunderdome, she was doing the theme song for the latest trend in Hollywood. Whenever something is successful, the machine churns out an assembly line of them, and thanks to Spidey, Magneto, Bruce Wayne and The Thing, Hollywood is continuing to churn out superhero movies. When they get to Letterman: The Movie, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, I'll know we've gone to Hell in a handbasket.
Robert "April Fresh" Downey, Jr stars in the upcoming Iron Man, whose character is as tormented as Batman's and twice as drunk. The late Heath Ledger aims to invoke heartbreaking memories of Brandon Lee in the new Batman. I expect both of these films to open big and be at least tolerable, if not enjoyable the way summer movies used to be when I was a wee lad sneaking into R-rated movies. It's a Catch-22, though: I'm sick of these movies and their implied successes will only mean more.
Case in Point: Stan Lee has started a new CG-animated superhero series called Legion of 5. It has nothing to do with the Legion of Doom, I presume, but the Hollywood Reporter states the film will have video game tie-ins and other merchandising. The man responsible for many of those superheroes listed above is keeping tight-lipped about the content of his characters or what they'll be up against, but one thing they'll vanquish is whatever opens opposite them when the time comes.
Lee also has in the works a movie called Tigress, where a woman gets tiger like powers after, I dunno, getting hit with a radioactive fly ball in Detroit. These powers will probably force her to jump on an Exxon sign, think Frosted Flakes are great, and attack fans at Cincinnati Bengals and University of Memphis games. Since she couldn't play Catwoman, this sounds like the perfect job for Sean Young.
Writer-director Terry Gilliam's movies have had such a reputation for being beset by unforeseen problems that The Onion spoofed the former Monty Python member's propensity for terrible luck. (This was even years before the untimely and tragic death of Heath Ledger, who died soon after shooting began for Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.) An attempt to make a sequel to Time Bandits never got off the ground because several of the original actors had died. Budget disputes put the kibosh on other projects. Two attempts to adapt Alan Moore's Watchmen never came to fruition. Way back in 2000, Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was beset by a flood and an injury that sidelined star Jean Rochefort. But it looks like Gilliam's luck may be changing for the better.
Now that The Dark Knight has dropped out of the Top Ten at the box office (after 11 weeks!), it's probably on its way out of the theaters -- not counting, of course, Warner Brothers' plans to re-release it during Oscar season next year. But for those who just want to be able to play it on a constant loop in their homes, the DVD and Blu-Ray will both be out on December 9th, just in time for you to buy it for yourself for Christmas, thereby putting to rest the annual question of what you'll get yourself instead of buying something for your Aunt Selma.
Let's get the hype out of the way: Yes, The Dark Knight was hyped, hyped, hyped. Yes, it's opening on about seven gazillion screens (more than 4,300, to be precise). Yes, the hype got even more deafening after Heath Ledger's tragic death. The hype factory for this movie was working at such volume, in fact, that the rest of the movie sort of got lost in all the white noise. (For example, Aaron Eckhart? Fantastic in his own right, but there's nary a mention of his performance in the media coverage up to this point.)
Okay then, hype acknowledged -- about the movie, and about Ledger's performance in it. And to think I foolishly worried the movie couldn't live up to it all.