2011 preview

March 11, 2011 | 6:20 a.m.

‘Super 8’: New trailer hits Twitter with close encounters of ’70s kind

A new trailer for the Paramount Pictures film “Super 8”  went out to the world via Twitvid and Twitter — very much a sign of the times in Hollywood 2011. The material in that trailer, however, was more like a vibrant time capsule of the youth of the movie’s director, J.J. Abrams, as well as the 1970s and 1980s films so closely associated with its producer, Steven Spielberg. The film is set in 1979 and built around a small-town story of grief, coming-of-age friendships and the arrival of something truly startling and completely alien. The influence of Spielberg is an intriguing topic and there are plenty of visual cues here that take all of us back to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,”  “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and even “Jaws” — you can make a list (and many bloggers certainly will) of the Spielbergian shots of kids with […]
Feb. 23, 2011 | 9:16 a.m.

‘X-Men: First Class’: James McAvoy calls it ‘a love story’ like Butch and Sundance

James McAvoy leads the way to the past in “X-Men: First Class,” which opens June 3 and presents him as a younger Charles Xavier, the mutant master who sees the world in very different ways than his frenemy, Erik, who is destined to become Magneto. Our Geoff Boucher caught up with McAvoy a few weeks ago while the 31-year-old Scottish actor was shooting the Fox film in L.A. GB: It sounds like you had your hands full with the water-tank work here in L.A.? JM: It was me saving Michael Fassbender’s … which is always fun. We worked together before, we met on “Band of Brothers,” which was my first TV job and probably his first or second. We both ride motorbikes, you know, scooters, around London, and every now and again, we’d pass each other and stop and give an old pump […]
Feb. 21, 2011 | 6:35 p.m.

Johnny Depp: My favorite comic book character is…

Just got off the phone with Johnny Depp and although there was plenty to chat about — with “Rango,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Dark Shadows” and “The Lone Ranger” at various stages in the pipeline — I had to sneak in a comic-book question. When he was growing up in South Florida, did he have a stack of favorite comic books in a corner of his bedroom? “Oh yeah. I was a rock ‘n’ roll kid, mainly, but prior to age 12, when the rock ‘n’ roll sort of took hold, I was a comic-book head. I liked Sgt. Rock. And I loved the Sub-Mariner. I loved Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner.” I told Depp he’s in good company when it comes to admiring Bill Everett’s imperious sea king — last year Clint Eastwood told me Namor was also his […]
Feb. 04, 2011 | 6:52 p.m.

‘Cowboys & Aliens’: Jon Favreau’s campaign trail and popcorn primary

This is an an excerpt from my front-page story in tomorrow’s Los Angeles Times: The private jet from Van Nuys kicked up pale dust as it landed on an airstrip just outside this state capital, and the passengers crossed the tarmac with the quiet determination of candidates preparing for a rally in a battleground state. “This is our Iowa caucus,” director Jon Favreau said as he climbed into a waiting black SUV with Ron Howard, the two-time Oscar winner who is a producer of Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens,” scheduled to hit theaters July 29. “This is like the primary. Our election night is that opening weekend this summer.” Favreau, Howard and their team didn’t fly 1,400 miles to meet with foreign investors, movie exhibitors or a panel of top film critics. Their destination was a scruffy little theater in a […]
Feb. 02, 2011 | 3:57 p.m.

‘Captain America’ director: ‘Our Bucky isn’t a sidekick … there’s a darker edge’

FIRST LOOK IMAGE Captain America has been throwing his mighty shield for 70 years and his sidekick, James “Bucky” Barnes, was right there at his side in that first comic book adventure in March 1941. The star-spangled hero’s junior partner is also making the leap to the silver screen this summer in “Captain America: The First Avenger” but don’t expect the grinning teenager from the vintage wartime comics — this won’t be your grandfather’s idea of a superhero sidekick, according to director Joe Johnston. On Sunday, viewers of the Super Bowl will get their first real look at actor Chris Evans in action as Captain America with the airing of the initial television commercial for the July 22 film — and the ad also offers a glimpse of actor Sebastian Stan  (“Gossip Girl,” “Kings”) as Bucky, but this version is more “Band of Brothers” than he is boy […]
Jan. 28, 2011 | 11:56 a.m.

‘Real Steel’: Has Shawn Levy made a robot movie with human heart?

On paper, the film “Real Steel” is about a near-future America in which robot gladiators bash in each other’s mechanical skulls for cheering crowds — it’s a mash-up of NASCAR gearhead passion and Ultimate Fighting Championship blood lust with a dash of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots. That premise, though, makes the opening scene in the film all the more startling. Instead of  clanging thunder and CG metal mayhem, the story begins on a lonely Heartland highway with the twang of a forlorn guitar. The star of the film, Hugh Jackman, is the picture of world-weary loneliness as he drives a truck to a rural fair amid the wheat fields. He parks and stares through the windshield in silence and the camera lingers, and lingers, and lingers. It’s an unhurried portrait of regret in twilight hues, something you might expect to see in a film like “Crazy Heart” or “Lone Star.” […]
Jan. 21, 2011 | 1:23 p.m.

‘Captain America’ title will be changed to ‘The First Avenger’ in Russia, South Korea

EXCLUSIVE How do you sell a movie called “Captain America” to an overseas market? In South Korea, Russia and the Ukraine, apparently, the answer is you don’t even try. The film “Captain America: The First Avenger” will have its title truncated to, simply, “The First Avenger” in those three overseas markets, according to Marvel Studios insiders. The choice was made by Marvel, Paramount Pictures’ international team and distributors in those three countries based on market research results. Those involved in the decision are being careful to frame the move as a matter of brand management and consumer awareness and not as a decision tilted by cultural or political winds. In private, Marvel insiders said that early on in the project’s planning there was talk that the title might need to be changed in numerous international markets but that there was a “pleasant surprise” — the brand recognition of the comic-book superhero […]
Jan. 21, 2011 | 7:40 a.m.

‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ 4: Has the real Blackbeard’s sword been discovered?

EXCLUSIVE PHOTO Here’s an exclusive new photo of Ian McShane as the fearsome Blackbeard in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,”  the fourth voyage of the Disney mega-franchise that stars Johnny Depp as the swashbuckler Jack Sparrow. The movie and its tale of  the elusive Fountain of Youth and carnivorous mermaids hits theaters May 20, so it seemed a bit spooky — or suspect — that there’s all of this scuttlebutt going around the Internet right now about the real Blackbeard’s sword being recovered off the coast of Beaufort, N.C. Was this just Disney trying to gin up some headlines or an archeological moment of mad timing? I contacted the team who has been studying the infamous English pirate’s sunken flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and they say that the recently secured artifact could be a weapon that old Edward Teach gripped in his hand, but it just as well might have […]
Jan. 19, 2011 | 2:47 p.m.

‘X-Men:First Class’: Three exclusive photos and a report from the stressed-out set

The movie posters promise that “X-Men: First Class” will be released June 3, but on Tuesday cameras were still rolling on the Fox film’s set and director Matthew Vaughn, making his biggest major studio feature film to date, sounded like a man running out of time. “I’m at that stage where I feel like a boxer against the ropes,” the director said as his crew prepared for the next shot on a location set in Long Beach. “I’m just throwing punches and taking them as they come and making sure I don’t hit the canvas.” In the pages of Marvel Comics, the X-Men have been the ultimate outsiders for decades — even other superheroes view the strange mutant crew with mistrust, prejudice and disdain. So it’s fitting that “First Class,” the fifth Hollywood adventure for the heroes, will arrive in theaters this summer with so […]
Jan. 18, 2011 | 5:24 p.m.

‘Captain America’ director: ‘This movie is going to surprise some people’

“Captain America: The First Avenger” director Joe Johnston is not one of Hollywood’s shiny, happy people — the 60-year-old Texas native is known for blunt candor and a withering glare. That’s why I was bit taken aback the other day when I called his cellphone and heard a voice on the other end that actually sounded something close to giddy. “I watched the movie for the first time a few days ago and I just looked at the first cut and there is so much entertainment value — it’s just flat-out fun to watch,” Johnston said of his Marvel Studios film, which hits theaters July 22.  “Maybe I’m somewhat biased — I was there [when we made it] — but, seriously, it’s funny, it’s exciting and there’s great visual effects.  The movie is going to be something more than people are expecting. This movie is […]
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