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6 items from 2007


The Seeker: Dark Is Rising

5 October 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

We've seen the spawn of Satan in such films as Rosemary's Baby and The Omen, and bad seeds have frequently tickled and terrified audiences. Child saviors haven't been as prevalent in the movies. But in The Seeker, based on the popular children's novel The Dark Is Rising, we have the story of a child chosen by the forces of light to battle evil spirits; the fate of the earth hangs in the balance. With some quasi-religious overtones, the film might have a built-in audience, though it's not going to make much of a dent in the Harry Potter franchise.

The opening cleverly thrusts us into an ultra-contemporary world of cell phones and high-tech malls where Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) is not quite at home. The youngest of six sons in an American family transplanted to England, Will is not comfortable with his peers. To make matters worse, he keeps seeing flocks of ravens that want to claw his flesh. Eventually, he learns that he has a mission to save the world from dark forces that intend to wreak havoc. His nemesis is a threatening figure called the Rider (Christopher Eccleston), but he also has a group of allies known as the Old Ones who instruct him in his supernatural powers and guide him on his otherworldly quest.

Seeker is well cast with a mix of British and American actors. Ian McShane, who often is cast as a Satanic figure, here plays Will's spiritual guide, and he lends stature and dignity to the battle between good and evil. Eccleston exudes malevolent power, and he has fun playing the Rider's alter ego, a bumbling English doctor. The young actors who play Will's siblings have a natural ease on camera, and Ludwig is inherently likable, capturing the character's befuddlement as well as his innate decency.

Yet the film plods along without a lot of excitement or inspiration. There's one scary sequence with an army of snakes led by an albino cobra, but a lot of other scenes depend on elaborate CGI effects that aren't all that thrilling. Another problem is that the plot requires young Will to go through a series of trials to find the six signs that will enable him to save the world, and there simply isn't enough variety in these ordeals. The movie's one surprise twist will be pretty transparent to anyone above the age of 6.

Although the film is extremely well photographed by Joel Ransom, it fails to build a sense of mounting terror. The denouement is completely predictable, which might be satisfying to young viewers who haven't seen a lot of movies. For the rest of us, Seeker is a ho-hum exercise in mysticism and hocus-pocus.

THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING

20th Century Fox and Fox-Walden

Marc Platt Prods.

Credits:

Director: David L. Cunningham

Screenwriter: John Hodge

Based on the novel by: Susan Cooper

Producer: Marc Platt

Executive producers: Ron Schmidt, Adam Siegel

Director of photography: Joel Ransom

Production designer: David Lee

Music: Christophe Beck

Costume designer: Vin Burnham

Editors: Geoffrey Rowland, Eric A. Sears

Cast:

Will Stanton: Alexander Ludwig

The Rider: Christopher Eccleston

Merriman Lyon: Ian McShane

Miss Greythorne: Frances Conroy

Dawson: James Cosmo

Old George: Jim Piddock

Maggie Barnes: Amelia Warner

John Stanton: John Benjamin Hickey

Mary Stanton: Wendy Crewson

Gwen Stanton: Emma Lockhart

Max Stanton: Gregory Smith

Running time -- 99 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

»

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Deadwood: Cast Believes HBO Movies Are Dead

4 October 2007 10:55 AM, PDT | TVSeriesFinale.com | See recent TVSeriesFinale news »

When Deadwood was cancelled last year after three seasons, HBO calmed outraged fans by announcing that the series would be concluded by a pair of movies. Unfortunately, there's been little movement on those projects and it's been looking less and less likely that they'll ever happen. Now, the stars of Deadwood say our suspicions are unfortunately correct.

Cinematical's Ryan Stewart recently spoke to Ian McShane (Deadwood's Al Swearengen) about his upcoming film The Dark is Rising and asked about the status of the long-awaited Deadwood movies. McShane said, "I just got a call on Friday from... a dear friend of mine, who told me that they're packing up the ranch. They're dismantling the ranch and taking the stuff out. That ship is gonna sail. Bonsoir, Deadwood."

The actor went on to say that, even if HBO did want to make the films, he's already committed to other film projects »

- TVSeriesFinale.com

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Buckle up: Allen joins Uni's 'Race'

8 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Joan Allen, hot off of Universal Pictures' The Bourne Ultimatum, is returning to the studio for Death Race, Paul W.S. Anderson's remake of the Roger Corman cult classic. Ian McShane and Tyrese Gibson also are buckling up for the action thriller, which Jason Statham is toplining.

Death Race sees a future America in which prison inmates are forced to brutally compete in an enclosed arena. Statham will play a prisoner who, with only weeks to go before his release, is coerced into being a driver and becomes the crowd favorite called Frankenstein.

Allen will play the warden of the prison who runs the race and ruthlessly forces Statham to enter the arena. McShane will play a coach, while Gibson is a sociopathic racer named Machine Gun Joe who seeks to escape from prison.

Production will start this year with an aim for a fall 2008 release.

Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner are producing via their C/W Prods. as well as Anderson and his Impact Pictures partner Jeremy Bolt. »

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Hot Rod

2 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

This review was written for the theatrical release of "Hot Rod".NEW YORK -- "Saturday Night Live's" Andy Samberg might be billed above the title, but the real stars of his big-screen vehicle "Hot Rod" are the multitudes of stuntmen suffering unending physical abuse in his stead. Playing a wannabe Evel Knievel who sets out to jump over 15 buses to raise money for his verbally abusive stepfather's (Ian McShane) heart operation, Samberg pretends to be pummeled by inanimate objects for nearly all of the film's running time.

Unfortunately, the gags start to wear thin shortly around the 15-minute mark, not to mention the fact that they pale in comparison to the real-life indignities endured by the members of the "Jackass" crew.

Still, the young actor displays a reasonably engaging and sweet comedic screen presence, sort of a variation on Will Ferrell's dim-witted cluelessness with occasional interludes of Adam Sandler-style emotional volatility.

Apparently originally designed as a vehicle for Ferrell, who serves as one of the executive producers, the comedy is high in concept, low in sophistication. To say that it wastes the talents of McShane (who at least seems to be enjoying his hammy turn) and Oscar winner Sissy Spacek, as Samberg's patient, long-suffering mom, is an understatement.

Also wasted is Isla Fisher, who plays it mainly straight as Samberg's love interest and has little opportunity to display the comic talents seen in "Wedding Crashers", and Will Arnett, doing his usual deep-voiced, boorish routine.

On the other hand, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader and Danny McBride are quite funny as Samberg's sidekicks, and "SNL's" Chris Parnell scores some laughs as a pompous AM radio broadcaster.

Pam Brady's formulaic screenplay mainly assembles a series of physical set pieces in which Samberg's character falls off his motorbike, gets hit by assorted vehicles, literally becomes a human pinata, etc. Director Akiva Schaffer executes these sequences with enough brio to induce laughter from juvenile-minded audience members, but only rarely -- as with a hilariously edited montage of the star falling down a mountain for what seems like an eternity -- do they display real imagination.

In a shamelessly brazen attempt to replicate the success of Samberg's "SNL" video shorts "Lazy Sunday" and "Dick in a Box", there is a sequence involving the repeated chanting of the phrase "cool beans" that seems instantly ready for YouTube.

Much of the film's humor stems from the soundtrack, consisting largely of cheesy cuts from the apparently not forgotten heavy-metal band Europe.

HOT ROD

Paramount Pictures

A Michaels/Goldwyn production

Credits:

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Screenwriter: Pam Brady

Producer: Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn

Executive producers: Will Ferrell, Jimmy Miller, Jill Messick

Director of photography: Andrew Dunn

Production designer: Stephen Altman

Music: Trevor Rabin

Co-producer: Louise Rosner

Costume designer: Patricia Monaghan

Editor: Malcolm Campbell

Cast:

Rod Kimble: Andy Samberg

Denise: Isla Fisher

Kevin Powell: Jorma Taccone

Dave: Bill Hader

Rico: Danny McBride

Marie Powell: Sissy Spacek

Frank Powell: Ian McShane

Barry Pasternack: Chris Parnell

Jonathan: Will Arnett

Running time -- 83 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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Hot Rod

2 August 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

NEW YORK -- "Saturday Night Live's" Andy Samberg might be billed above the title, but the real stars of his big-screen vehicle Hot Rod are the multitudes of stuntmen suffering unending physical abuse in his stead. Playing a wannabe Evel Knievel who sets out to jump over 15 buses to raise money for his verbally abusive stepfather's (Ian McShane) heart operation, Samberg pretends to be pummeled by inanimate objects for nearly all of the film's running time.

Unfortunately, the gags start to wear thin shortly around the 15-minute mark, not to mention the fact that they pale in comparison to the real-life indignities endured by the members of the Jackass crew.

Still, the young actor displays a reasonably engaging and sweet comedic screen presence, sort of a variation on Will Ferrell's dim-witted cluelessness with occasional interludes of Adam Sandler-style emotional volatility.

Apparently originally designed as a vehicle for Ferrell, who serves as one of the executive producers, the comedy is high in concept, low in sophistication. To say that it wastes the talents of McShane (who at least seems to be enjoying his hammy turn) and Oscar winner Sissy Spacek, as Samberg's patient, long-suffering mom, is an understatement.

Also wasted is Isla Fisher, who plays it mainly straight as Samberg's love interest and has little opportunity to display the comic talents seen in Wedding Crashers, and Will Arnett, doing his usual deep-voiced, boorish routine.

On the other hand, Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader and Danny McBride are quite funny as Samberg's sidekicks, and "SNL's" Chris Parnell scores some laughs as a pompous AM radio broadcaster.

Pam Brady's formulaic screenplay mainly assembles a series of physical set pieces in which Samberg's character falls off his motorbike, gets hit by assorted vehicles, literally becomes a human pinata, etc. Director Akiva Schaffer executes these sequences with enough brio to induce laughter from juvenile-minded audience members, but only rarely -- as with a hilariously edited montage of the star falling down a mountain for what seems like an eternity -- do they display real imagination.

In a shamelessly brazen attempt to replicate the success of Samberg's "SNL" video shorts Lazy Sunday and Dick in a Box, there is a sequence involving the repeated chanting of the phrase "cool beans" that seems instantly ready for YouTube.

Much of the film's humor stems from the soundtrack, consisting largely of cheesy cuts from the apparently not forgotten heavy-metal band Europe.

HOT ROD

Paramount Pictures

A Michaels/Goldwyn production

Credits:

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Screenwriter: Pam Brady

Producer: Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn

Executive producers: Will Ferrell, Jimmy Miller, Jill Messick

Director of photography: Andrew Dunn

Production designer: Stephen Altman

Music: Trevor Rabin

Co-producer: Louise Rosner

Costume designer: Patricia Monaghan

Editor: Malcolm Campbell

Cast:

Rod Kimble: Andy Samberg

Denise: Isla Fisher

Kevin Powell: Jorma Taccone

Dave: Bill Hader

Rico: Danny McBride

Marie Powell: Sissy Spacek

Frank Powell: Ian McShane

Barry Pasternack: Chris Parnell

Jonathan: Will Arnett

Running time -- 83 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

»

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Fox Walden puts four on calendar

17 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

20th Century Fox has set the release dates for the first movies made under the new Fox Walden banner, which is a joint venture between Fox and Walden Media.

First out of the gate will be The Dark Is Rising, which will be released for the Columbus Day weekend of Oct. 5. The movie, which centers on a young man who learns that he is the last of a group of mythical warriors, stars Ian McShane, Frances Conroy, Christopher Eccleston, Gregory Smith and Jonathan Jackson and is directed by David L. Cunningham. The film is wrapping shooting in Romania.

Walden and Mandate Pictures' co-production Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is scheduled for Nov. 16. Zach Helm wrote the script and is making his directorial debut on the picture, which stars Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman and Jason Bateman.

Nim's Island, which goes into production in the summer, has staked out a release date of April 25. Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin star in the movie, about a magical place ruled by a young girl's imagination, which is being directed by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett. »

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6 items from 2007


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