Tag Archives: jason statham

20 years in the making: An Interview with Steve Alten by Kent Hill

 

 

Sometimes good things take time. Still, it is rare that Hollywood, being in possession of what it believes is such a ‘hot property’, would allow said property to languish in the depths of development hell. Especially for 20 years. But that is exactly where Steve Alten’s bestseller has been in residence. That, of course, is about to change.

Yes ladies and gentlemen (and in case you haven’t been following the story) next year Alten’s leviathan shall rise and finally arrive at a cinema near you. I have long been fascinated with the journeys  movies take on the road to the big screens on which we witness them. Some of these films never arrive, some appear in a confused and unfinished form. Others are the victims of too many cooks and most are a product of the machine.

For the films that don’t make it, (see great documentaries like Lost in La Mancha and Jodorowsky’s Dune (though Gilliam seems to have at last remedied this)) their journey is often as intriguing, if not more so, than what the final product might have been. But with MEG, the powers that be have what is a potentially massive franchise on their hands. So, why the wait?

The fates are strange and fickle. Steve Alten’s bestseller was optioned before it was complete, but it has taken the better part of two decades to arrive. I found this story intriguing, mainly because this was not some sort of artsy passion project or some grand tale of ridiculous hubris. No, what could have been, and what we may yet experience, might very well be the next JAWS? And while Spielberg’s film is by its nature a far more intimate piece; the shark menaces a small community and finally three men set out to kill the beast, MEG is something we are definitely going need a bigger boat for. A really BIG boat for!

Thus Steve Alten agreed to have a chat with me about the origins of his book’s long gestation toward its screen adaptation. What he relayed I found fascinating, and still believe it could become a great extra feature or a terrific stand-alone documentary of the ride this big shark movie as taken. But, like most fans, I am just grateful that with each passing day, we finally are at last drawing closer to the MEG movie’s premiere. Of course the real relief belongs to the creator. In many ways it has been worse for him, he having served on the front lines, he having been present for each false start and each heartbreaking hurdle. I have agreed to catch up with Steve before the film’s premiere next year. As the hype builds and teasers and trailers and all the ads  bombard our senses, what brings me pause and makes me smile is the thought of Steve Alten waking the red carpet, entering the theatre, taking his seat . . . and enjoying the movie…

…as I hope you will enjoy this.

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If they look ninjas, and they’re dressed like ninjas, and they fight like ninjas…they’re ninjas: An Interview with Doug Taylor by Kent Hill

Doug Taylor began wanting to be and architect and dreamed of being like the dad in The Brady Bunch, ’cause he worked from home. But he soon became disillusioned with this notion and eventually found his way into film.

Like most of us, after learning the fundamentals, it then becomes a question of what next? Fortunately for Doug, a friend and fellow film student had made contact with a couple of producers who were in Canada making low-budget horror films. Thus the screenwriting career of Doug Taylor began.

What would begin with a small horror film would spawn a career that would see the talented Mr. Taylor rub shoulders with both the famous and the infamous of the industry. He worked with visionaries like Vincenzo Natali and the so-labeled Ed Wood of the age Uwe Boll. He has written for both film and television and those early seeds in the horror genre have seen him work on modern classics within it such as Natali’s brilliant and terrifying  depiction of the dysfunctional family in Splice.

So sue me. I am a fan of the films of Uwe Boll; thus I was most eager to hear Doug’s account of the making of In the Name of the King, and I was not disappointed. Like the storyteller he is, Doug gave me all the behind the scenes goodies that a film nerd craves. So much so I now re-watch the film with new eyes.

Anyhow. You’re just going to have to kick back and have a listen. Doug Taylor is great screenwriter who has lived a rich and varied life and enjoyed all success one can at the Hollywood heights. Yet he still lives in the city he grew up in and ultimately he accomplished his dream of being just like Mr. Brady, and working from home.

I really great gentleman, full of fascinating tales both on screen and off. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you . . . Doug Taylor.

THE EXPENDABLES – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

THE EXPENDABLES is that hard R-rated film that hits the sweet spot for adults craving adult oriented action and humor with past and present staples of actions cinema. Sylvester Stallone crafts not only a film, but a hugely successful franchise, around himself and his movie star buddies. The film is so much fun to watch, watching these ancient relics double-fisting machine guns and laying waste to anyone in their path.

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Sure, the film is riddled with hammy dialogue, campy acting, ridiculous character names, and obnoxious action – but that is EXACTLY what this film should be, and is. Sylvester Stallone is one of cinema’s most unsung and undervalued auteurs. This is a guy, who has made catastrophic career choices; yet he’s been able to resurrect his career four, count it, four times due to his directing and writing abilities. Rocky, Rambo, Expendables, and now his reinvention of Rocky in last year’s CREED.

Stallone took a film with an eighty million dollar budget that yielded 275million at the worldwide box office, and spurred two successful sequels. The subgenre of the hard R rated B action films have seemed to have slipped off the cinematic radar in past years. Either we get a tent-pole movie star grazing his way through a watered down PG-13 film, or we get some sort of intentional franchise starter with an over-the-hill star fighting alongside a fresh face who more times than not, lacks acting chops severely.

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THE EXPENDABLES goes for it, and resets the mold of that strain of films we have missed. Stallone headlines Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eric Roberts. Not to mention all the other wonderful additions Stallone recruited for the two sequels.

Stallone creates a world that takes place inside the movie world. These guys are big, tough, and ooze masculinity. The dialogue is akin to what we heard from the same actors in the 80’s, the practical explosions are bigger, and the CGI blood is absolutely egregious. The director’s cut of the film stands slightly taller, adding a bit more depth, and rounds out some of the more clunky characters in the film.

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While this film is nowhere near perfect, it is perfect for what it is. Dolph Lundgren lynching Somalin pirates, Stallone quick drawing a revolver and taking out six guys, Eric Roberts being over-the-top snarling through his teeth, Jason Statham putting his fist through skulls, Mickey Rourke looking obnoxious as ever yet putting on an acting clinic in his brief scene, and everything else you’d want from a hard R, quickly paced B movie filled with explosions and gunfire. THE EXPENDABLES and its two sequels is a feverishly welcome return from an auteur that refuses to be rendered obsolete.

John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Mars: A Review by Nate Hill

  

Mars has been a consistently entertaining setting for films that are all across the board, as far as tone and subject matter goes. Brian DePalma’s Mission To Mars is a thoughtful, exhilarating piece, Anthony Hoffman’s Red Planet makes a fascinating effort, John Carter took the swashbuckling adventure route. And then there’s John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Mars, which is proudly the silliest of the entire bunch, a slice of sheer lunacy that admittedly serves as a distinct nadir in the auteur’s legendary career, and yet is fun on its own terms. It’s quite a weird little endeavour, and one can at least commend it for taking the brawny B movie route and littering its story with camp and Corman-esque nostalgia, instead of wasting it’s breath by being yet another stupid horror flick that just happens to be set in space. Carpenter is the master of high concept set ups that oddly feel minimalistic and lean when seen onscreen as opposed to paper, or word of mouth. In Carpenter’s vision we follow intergalactic cop Melanie Ballard (Secies beauty Natasha Henstridge) and her crew as they land on Mars to collect uber dangerous convict Desolation Williams (Ice Cube being Ice Cube). Along with her is Jericho Butler (Jason Statham), Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier brings with her the class and specificity of the films that Carpenter yearns for and emulates) and Bashira Kincaid (Clea Duvall). Things go swimmingly until a mining team nearby unearths an ancient defensive device used by the warring native clans of Mars centuries ago. The spirits set loose soon possess workers and Henstridge’s crew is faced with ancient, savage ghost warrior zombie things. Quite the chuckle worthy setup, isn’t it? Hell, it ain’t half bad, and there are certain moments of clarity where Carpenter’s early career brilliance flashes through the muck briefly. Ice Cube tries to be badass and comes off just plain silly, which is fine by me, as I love having a laugh at the guy. Clea Duvall fares best and is pretty much the only actor here who hasn’t found herself in a film like this anywhere else in her career. This makes her stand out, along with her immediate likability and charisma. The ghost warriors themselves resemble Moria Orcs with a serious methamphetamine problem, gaunt, vicious bastards that serve to give the makeup artist a good name, and are the best thing about the film, visually speaking. It ain’t Carpenter’s best, but fuck man it’s still Carpenter, and I’ll take all I can get.