More often than not, the news of an '80s movie remake would have me crying out "Why? Just... why?!" in a plaintive wail. But yesterday came news of a remake of The Last Dragon that has me clapping my hands like a kid who's just gotten a plastic pumpkin full of sweet, sweet treats. This is entirely because Samuel L. Jackson has been cast as the egocentric, larger-than-life, so-bad-he's-good villain known as Sho'Nuff. Originally played by the late Julius Carry, the self-professed "Shogun of Harlem" will once again face off against plucky young martial arts hero Leroy Green, but the plot will be updated for modern sensibilities. Which, sadly, probably means a dearth of those distinctly '80s tunes and no Vanity co-starring as the girlfriend.
Spike Lee is far better known for what he does off the screen than what he puts on it. It's a shame, because Lee is one of the few directors working today whose style permeates every movie he makes. Like Scorcese's work, one need only look at a few shots to immediately peg a Spike Lee Joint. And like the people IN Scorsese's work, Spike Lee appears to relish picking fights. After settling the fight he had over WWII movies with Clint Eastwood, Spike has now set the stage for one with penis-obsessed director-producer Judd Apatow. For what Apatow has done to shame my Johnson, he deserves to get punched out.
Far be it from me to say that George Lucas used up all his good ideas back in the '70s and '80s, but... George Lucas used up all his good ideas back in the '70s and '80s. Exhibit A: ...Well, pretty much anything he's done since the late '80s. But what I want to focus on here is Exhibit B: He recently suggested to Samuel L. Jackson, the most notorious part whore in all of Hollywood that perhaps he should start thinking about directing. Not to suggest that Jackson might not be a talented director -- we'll never know until he actually does it -- but why do I think this might be something Lucas suggests to every actor out there, ever? I mean, not everyone is cut out to direct, George. (See also: Wars, Star - Episodes I, II, III).
Frank Miller's The Spirit came out on DVD this week, and it was my first time seeing it. Despite being a lifelong Spirit fan and semi-regular Miller fan (I know, nobody cares about my life story), I had sworn not to go see the movie in the theaters after failing to recognize anything I loved about the original comics in any of the trailers, and felt vindicated as I heard the reports from my braver friends. The movie was a train wreck, they said, and I looked forward to giggling through it in the comfort of my home. Man, did I not know what I was getting myself into. The movie is such a bizarre, jumbled mess on so many levels that I had to sit down to figure out what was actually wrong with it, and if the wrongness could have somehow been singled out and repaired. It's obviously too late to repair anything, but if I could somehow go back in time and save something I should have loved from being god-awful, this is what I would fix...
I meant to write this yesterday, but I was still reeling from the loss of Bernie Mac. Not that Isaac Hayes takes a back seat to Mac -- while Mac was equally at home on TV, on the big screen and on stage, Hayes was a quadruple threat, with TV, movie, singing and songwriting credits to his name. Obviously, his claim to fame was the theme song to Shaft, but the man also co-wrote two legendary songs for Sam & Dave: "Soul Man" -- which inspired the title of a bad C. Thomas Howell flick, as well as an upcoming film starring Hayes, Mac and Samuel L. Jackson -- and "Hold On! I'm Coming," which has popped up on every soundtrack from Adventures in Babysitting to American Gangster. Yeah, that's right -- Adventures in Babysitting. Is it any wonder the man is a legend in my eyes?
For a man who is notoriously the biggest part whore in all of Hollywood, it seems that Samuel L. Jackson may in fact not be playing a role that came his way. It's being reported that Jackson won't be returning as Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, for any upcoming Marvel Comics movies. The actor, who had a small but no less cool cameo as Fury in an after-credit scene of this spring's smash Iron Man told the Los Angeles Times that he won't be appearing again as Nick Fury in any future Marvel Studios features. According to the actor, negotiations for his return broke down because "there seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world." Psst, Sam. It's not just the Marvel Comics world, buddy. You may want to put down that Snakes on a Plane II script and pick up a newspaper.
After Marvel announced they would be doing a Captain America movie, a lot of casting rumors started to get bandied about, and Marvel themselves reportedly said that they wouldn't mind seeing Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio in the role. While those two certainly fit Cap's blonde, blue-eyed pedigree (and have the acting chops that make fanboys happy), a new rumor has just shot out of the mill that combines acting chops with a lesser-known take on Cap to form an explosive piece of news that everyone will soon be talking about. The role of Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty, was supposedly offered to Will Smith.
Lakeview Terrace isn't as bad as you probably think it will be. And that's about the highest endorsement I can give it. Which is higher than I expected to give it after watching the trailer.
Things to like about Lakeview Terrace: Honestly, Samuel L. Jackson. He actually plays this part perfectly. He doesn't overact until it's sort of appropriate to do so. And... that's pretty much the end of what's good about the movie.
Perhaps hoping that the Christian subset of the movie-going public will confuse "The Spirit" as a holiday and/or Christian movie, Lionsgate has moved the release date of the comic-strip adaptation from January 16, 2009 to Christmas of this year. And while the more observant of us -- or at least those of us stuck in traffic in L.A. -- who have seen the billboards for the film with giant, noir-ish looking text reading "My City Screams" probably aren't mistaking it for a Christmas story, maybe the rest of the city really is screaming for Jesus. You never know.
According to Variety, the movie got a vote of confidence after Lionsgate brass presented the project to fans at New York Comic-Con. I hate to channel my 10 year-old self but, no duh, Lionsgate. Of course they were receptive to a comic-strip adaptation; it's Comic-Con. It's up against other Christmas releases like Marley & Me, The Time Traveler's Wife and Adam Sandler's Bedtime Stories, and only time will tell whether or not the greater public will be quite as enthusiastic as the comic book nerds.
"The Spirit," which was created by writer-artist Will Eisner in 1940, tells the story of Denny Colt, a masked vigilante who fights crime with the blessing of the city's police commissioner. Written and directed by Frank Miller (whose work also includes "Sin City," and "300") and starring Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes, the film will be an action-adventure romance that revolves around a slain rookie cop who returns from the dead to fight crime and track a cold-blooded killer. Which when you think about it, actually does kind of have Christ parallels. Perhaps the move wasn't so dumb after all.
Samuel L. Jackson's creeptastic performance was enough to put Lakeview Terrace on top at the box office for its opening weekend. It took in $15.6 million on 2,464 screens, and it was the only one of four new movies in wide release that managed to beat Burn After Reading, which held tight in the second spot with another $11.295 million in its second week.