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In Defence Of... Ben Affleck's Daredevil

In Defence Of... Ben Affleck's Daredevil
The critical and commercial success of Marvel's Netflix show has given the character of Daredevil a new lease of life, with a confirmed second series, a co-lead spot in the upcoming super-team show The Defenders and a possibility that the character could one day make an appearance in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that in mind, it's time to re-appraise the character's first big-screen outing – writer-director Mark Steven Johnson's Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck. Is it really as bad as its reputation suggests?

Released in 2003 (the same year as Ang Lee's Hulk and Bryan Singer's X2, though it was first out of the gate), Daredevil took more than $102 million at the Us box office and just $76 million outside the Us, for a worldwide total of $179 million. Despite more than doubling its budget it was perceived as a flop, especially alongside the likes of Spider-Man and X-Men, whose successes
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

Batman Vs. Superman: Ben Affleck Talks Batman Backlash

Batman Vs. Superman: Ben Affleck Talks Batman Backlash
While the vitriol has subsided considerably, there was a massive outpouring of negativity from fanboys around the world when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in Batman Vs. Superman. The actor, of course, is no stranger to the superhero genre, portraying blind vigilante Matt Murdock in Marvel's 2003 adventure Daredevil. During a recent interview with Playboy, the actor revealed that Daredevil was the only movie he ever regretted, which may have been part of the motivation in taking on the Batman role. The actor also spoke about the immense negative reactions from the fans and how he handled that, how Zack Snyder's vision convinced him to take the role, how this new version of Batman doesn't "compete" with Christian Bale's version, and how he has grown as an actor and an artist over the past 10 years.

The actor was told that George Clooney keeps a photo of himself as
See full article at MovieWeb »

Before Ben Affleck Becomes Batman, Let's Remember Everything Wrong With Daredevil

By day, blind attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) toils for justice in Hell's Kitchen. By night, he's Daredevil, The Man Without Fear - a powerful, masked vigilante stalking the dark streets with an uncanny radar sense that allows him to "see" with superhuman capabilities. But when the love of his life, fiery Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), is targeted by New York City's ruthless kingpin of crime (Michael Clarke Duncan) and his deadly assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), Daredevil may be about to meet his match. Daredevil (2003) was written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson. The cast included: Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock / Daredevil, Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios, Colin Farrell as Bullseye, Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk / The Kingpin, Jon Favreau as Franklin 'Foggy' Nelson, Scott Terra as Young Matt, Ellen Pompeo as Karen Page and Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich. The film earned $179 million at the worldwide
See full article at ComicBookMovie »

David Slade Directing Daredevil Remake

David Slade Directing Daredevil Remake
David Slade has signed onto direct a Daredevil reboot for 20th Century Fox.

We reported back in February 2010 that Fox was moving forward with a reboot of the 2003 Daredevil movie, which starred Ben Affleck. David Scarpa, who wrote Fox's remake The Day the Earth Stood Still, was hired at that time to write the script. It isn't known if he is still involved with the project.

This latest report indicates that this new Daredevil incarnation will not feature material from the first movie, so it seems this could be a new origin story for Daredevil.

There was also speculation back in 2009 that Katee Sackhoff was trying out to play Typhoid Mary, a former lover of Matt Murdock/Daredevil, who later became his enemy. The actress was spotted buying up every Daredevil comic she could find that featured the character, although we have heard nothing about Katee Sackhoff's involvement since then.
See full article at MovieWeb »

Dickie Roberts

Dickie Roberts
Opens

Friday, Sept. 5


A clear attempt to broaden David Spade's boxoffice appeal beyond the male teen demo, "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" generally succeeds -- in hit-and-miss fashion -- at bridging the gap between unlikable jerk and misunderstood good guy, though it's still something of a leap to leading-man territory. It may not be ringing praise, but the Sam Weisman-helmed comedy stands heads and shoulders above 2001's dismal "Joe Dirt".

The tale of a one-time A-list moppet consumed with making a comeback is in many ways an ideal vehicle for Spade's particular -- some might say unfathomable -- brand of snide deadpan humor. Scripted by Spade and longtime "SNL" writer Fred Wolf, his creative partner on "Joe Dirt", the film has an irreverent affection for the cult of TV celebrity, and the presence of dozens of real-life former child stars is a definite hook, however slim. "Roberts" should eke out middling returns before segueing to video.

Dickie Roberts' life fell apart after his '70s hit series was canceled and he was abandoned by his single mom (Doris Roberts in a brief but vivid turn as a monster of a stage mother). An overgrown, obnoxious kid who had a career instead of a childhood, he believes screen success is the only way to regain self-respect and contentment.

His desperate attempts to get back in the spotlight only add to his humiliation, and his girlfriend (Alyssa Milano, an FCS in her own right) dumps him. During their regular poker games, he and his pals -- former child stars Leif Garrett, Barry Williams, Danny Bonaduce, Corey Feldman and Dustin Diamond -- dis movie stars, and, in a nice touch, Williams continually antes up "Brady Bunch" memorabilia.

The film wades through tired in-joke territory (Dickie searches for famous actors at AA meetings) and some thuddingly laughless stretches before finding its tentative footing. The final segments are some of the strongest

a more consistent satiric slant on the star-making machinery would have benefited the film as a whole.

Tipped to a juicy role in a Rob Reiner film, Dickie and his agent (Jon Lovitz) -- who compensates for ineptitude with an unsurpassed willingness to put it all on the line for his client -- get busy trying to arrange a meeting with the director. But it's Brendan Fraser (uncredited) who gets him in the door, even though Dickie mispronounces his name.

Determined to prove to the doubting Reiner that he can handle a role requiring firsthand experience of human emotions, Dickie sets out to fill in the missing part of his stunted life: childhood. After raising some cash from the sale of his sordid memoirs, he embarks on a crash course in being a kid, finding a family willing to show him the ropes for $20,000. The joke is that he lands in a suburban idyll straight out of a sitcom, with a dazzlingly good-looking mom and dad (Mary McCormack and Craig Bierko) and two kids (Scott Terra and Jenna Boyd) who are wholesome and down-to-earth.

As the story wends its way toward vague homilies -- it's not the fame and money Dickie misses but the love and adoration -- there's a realistic dynamic between Spade and the kids. McCormack is fine as the sensible and sexy, too-good-to-be-true mom, but the supposed chemistry between Dickie and Grace is pushing things a bit. To its credit, the technically polished film doesn't try too hard to have it both ways -- comic and earnest -- and usually undercuts the sappy moments with insolence.

DICKIE ROBERTS: FORMER CHILD STAR

Paramount Pictures

Happy Madison Prods.

Credits: Director: Sam Weisman

Screenwriters: Fred Wolf, David Spade

Producers: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo

Executive producer: Fred Wolf

Director of photography: Thomas Ackerman

Production designer: Dina Lipton

Music: Chrisophe Beck, Waddy Wachtel

Co-producer: Blair Breard

Costume designer: Lisa Jensen

Editor: Roger Bondelli. Cast: Dickie Roberts: David Spade

Grace Finney: Mary McCormack

Sidney Wernick: Jon Lovitz

George Finney: Craig Bierko

Cyndi: Alyssa Milano

Peggy Roberts: Doris Roberts

Sam Finney: Scott Terra

Sally Finney: Jenna Boyd

Mrs. Gertrude: Edie McClurg

Themselves: Rob Reiner, Leif Garrett, Tom Arnold, Brendan Fraser, Dick Van Patten, Barry Williams, Danny Bonaduce, Corey Feldman, Dustin Diamond

Running time -- 98 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

Eight Legged Freaks

Eight Legged Freaks
"Eight Legged Freaks", a tongue-in-cheek homage to the giant bug sci-fi movies of the '50s, is fun while it lasts. The trouble is, its filmmakers run out of clever ideas and visual gags about halfway through. The movie, shepherded to the screen by movie-buff filmmakers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, should open strong, but the drop-off could be steep. However, "Freaks" is campy enough to turn into a top rental video.

Interestingly, its New Zealand co-writer/director Ellory Elkayem came to the Telluride Film Festival four years ago with a 13-minute black-and-white short, "Larger Than Life", about a single giant spider, that was both hilarious and scary. But Elkayem is not nearly as sure-footed in this overscaled Hollywood production, which misses his short's sneaky charm and stylish nuances.

The movie's best moments are crammed into the sections leading up to the invasion of a small Arizona town by an army of huge spiders. You can sense Elkayem's giddy joy in ransacking the various plot elements that went into old B movies. There's toxic waste dumped into a water system, and a crazy desert coot feeds the creatures that consume this waste to his collection of spiders. Naturally, they grow, then escape. And soon farm animals and pets get yanked from the screen to ghastly fates.

There's a small boy (Scott Terra) who quickly guesses what's going on, but no one listens to him because he's a kid. Then his older sister (Scarlett Johansson) experiments with her sexuality despite warnings by her been-there-done-that mom (Kari Wuhrer), who happens to be the town's sheriff.

Throw in a paranoid local radio announcer (Doug E. Doug) and an abandoned gold mine that a crooked mayor wants to turn into a nuclear dump and everything seems primed for an arachnophobia freakout. But it never happens. Once the invasion gets under way, satirical elements fall away and Elkayem fails to make most subplots pay off.

The film's two leads are David Arquette, the son of the mine's late owner, who returns to his hometown after a 10-year absence, and Wuhrer, the woman he left behind, only she never knew it. The two are perfectly cast. Both are likable but with an edge. He is hard-headed and impulsive yet terrifically tongue-tied in her presence. She is a far cry from the scream-and-faint heroines of most '50s sci-fi flicks: As a gun-totting sheriff, she resolutely takes her stand against an invading army.

But the computer-generated spiders are, frankly, bores. They're much creepier when small. Similarly, in a large cast of characters, each one gets introduced with a quirky comic personality, but most are abandoned in the ensuing commotion.

The movie comes loaded with references to other scare movies. The major one is the climax itself, which takes place in a shopping mall, mimicking the zombie invasion in George A. Romero's 1979 "Dawn of the Dead". But where Romero turned the mall into a satire of American consumerism, Elkayem uses his mall as a mere location without exploiting its many comic opportunities.

All below-the-line crews did their jobs well. Yet none of this prevents "Freaks" from falling flat in both the scare and laughter categories.

EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS

Warner Bros. Pictures

In association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment presents an Electric Entertainment production

Credits:

Director: Ellory Elkayem

Screenwriters: Jesse Alexander, Ellory Elkayem

Story by: Jesse Alexander, Ellory Elkayem

Producers: Dean Devlin, Bruce Berman

Executive producers: Roland Emmerich, Peter Winther, William Fay

Director of photography: John Bartlet

Production designer: Charles Breen

Music: John Ottman

Co-producer: Kelly Van Horn

Costume designer: Alix Friedberg

Editor: David J. Siegel

Visual effects supervisors: Karen E. Goulekas, Thomas Dadras

Cast:

Chris: David Arquette

Sam: Kari Wuhrer

Mike: Scott Terra

Ashley: Scarlett Johansson

Harlan: Doug E. Doug

Deputy Pete: Rick Overton

Running time -- 99 minutes

MPAA rating PG-13

Film review: 'Shadrach'

A well-meaning, would-be heartwarming exercise, "Shadrach" marks the feature debut of director Susanna Styron and is based on a short story by her father, novelist William Styron. Although intermittently touching, this tale of a 99-year-old former slave asking to be buried on the site of the plantation where he was born doesn't pack the dramatic wallop necessary for the big screen.

What would have made a perfectly respectable entry for the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" series of telefilms will turn out to be a complete nonstarter commercially.

Set in 1935, the story centers on 10-year-old Paul Whitehurst (Scott Terra), whose grown-up alter ego narrates the tale, told in flashback style (Martin Sheen provides the voice). Living a comfortable middle-class life in a small Virginia town, Paul leads a normal existence, marred only by the life-threatening illness of his mother. Whenever he can, he visits the Dabneys, who have fallen on hard times and live on the remnants of the aristocratic plantation owned by their ancestors. Headed up by the irascible Vernon (Harvey Keitel), a part-time bootlegger, and his loving wife Trixie (Andie MacDowell), the family includes seven children.

The story's events are set in motion by the arrival of the dignified and nearly dead Shadrach John Franklin Sawyer), who has traveled by foot all the way from Alabama to die and be buried on the land where he grew up. Initially horrified by the request, Vernon eventually agrees to help when his family takes the helpless old man to their hearts. Unfortunately, state laws prohibit Shadrach from being buried on private property; whatever narrative suspense the film holds lies in whether the family will be able to honor The Old Man's dying request. One guess as to the outcome.

Keitel, giving his usual well-modulated and thoughtful performance (the Southern accent is the only jarring note), and MacDowell, in an unusually earthy turn, do their best to enliven the thin material. Sawyer, an 84-year-old former postal worker with no previous acting experience, provides a luminous physical presence as the gentle Shadrach, and Terra is a wonderfully unaffected and natural child performer.

But the film is far too mild and slow moving to garner much interest, and director Styron, although making a respectable feature debut, doesn't yet possess the stylistic assurance necessary to provide greater resonance to the sentimental story line.

SHADRACH

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Director: Susanna Styron

Screenplay: Susanna Styron, Bridget Terry

Executive producers: Jonathan Demme, Steven Shareshian, Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Elie Samaha

Producers: Bridget Terry, John Thompson, Boaz Davidson

Director of photography: Hiro Narita

Film editor: Colleen Sharp

Music: Van Dyke Parks

Color/stereo

Cast:

Vernon Dabney: Harvey Keitel

Rixie Dabney: Andie MacDowell

Shadrach: John Franklin Sawyer

Paul Whitehurst: Scott Terra

Little Mole Dabney: Daniel Treat

Edmonia: Monica Bugajski

Lucinda: Erin Underwood

Middle Mole: Jonathan Parks Jordan

Mrs. Whitehurst: Deborah Hedwall

Mr. Whitehurst: Darrell Larson

Running time -- 95 minutes

No MPAA rating

FESTIVAL REVIEWS: The Los Angeles Independent Film Festival ends tonight. Screenings take place at Laemmle's Sunset 5, the Directors Guild of America Theatre and Harmony Gold. Details: (213) 933-3399.

SHADRACH

(Screened Thursday)

A period piece -- set in Virginia in 1935 as a 99-year-old slave returns to his former plantation to die and be buried among kin -- was the stirring opening-night offering at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival.

Graceful and touching, "Shadrach" is highlighted by a splendid performance by Andie MacDowell and an appropriately surly turn by Harvey Keitel. Prospects look best for "Shadrach" as an art house offering; however, the real afterlife of this luminous film will be on cable. "Shadrach" can win the hearts and minds of a wide range of viewers; namely, it can play just as successfully on the Sundance Channel as on the Family Channel.

Both spare and robust, the saga is, above all, a portrait of man's dignity and how respect is won and lost. Adapted from a William Styron short story, the film centers on the open observations of 10-year-old Paul (Scott Terra) and what he learns about life and death during one unforgettable weekend when his parents are away and he spends time with a ne'er-do-well clan, the Dabneys. Prosperous plantation owners in the 19th century, they've disintegrated to subsistence living, unable to scratch out a living on their tobacco-drained soil. But, as Shadrach remembers it from his youth, the Dabney plantation was once a great place, and he wants to be buried in the slave graveyard with his family and friends.

Abounding with raw irony and scrappy insights, "Shadrach" is a rich film about human failing and kindness. The central story is simple, and from this simplicity screenwriters Susanna Styron and Bridget Terry mine its kind themes. Admittedly, the duo sometimes overstretches with dewy fulminations on life and death, but these are minor quibbles. Under Susanna Styron's steady directorial hand, the yarn is fleshed out through rousing technical contributions, namely cinematographer Hiro Narita's telling compositions and composer Van Dyke Parks' twangy sounds.

MacDowell shines as the beer-swigging wife of Vernon Dabney. Alternately sucking on cigarettes and guzzling beer, it's a grainy, intelligent portrayal of a poor woman somewhat overwhelmed by life's situation but whose spunk and dignity enrich those around her. As her beleaguered husband, Keitel ventures into new territory -- geographical, that is. Southern Virginia is a long way from Scorsese-land, yet Keitel's coiled frustration is perfect for his role as a father who doesn't have much more than a pot for pissing. As the elderly slave, newcomer John Franklin Sawyer is well cast. His granitelike countenance belies an inner tranquility; through his stony eyes we see a being who has lived a full, abundant life. It's on the shoulders of Terra, as 10-year-old Paul, that the film rests, and the young fella is up to the weight. His bright performance smacks of a perceptive but ordinary kid, making his actions and observations all the more heartfelt.

Duane Byrge

PANTS ON FIRE

(Screened Saturday and Sunday)

This is a sleek attempt at a triangular black comedy in a middle-class, yuppie-American setting, but the storytelling is neither as savage nor as concise as it should be; none of the thorny, central issues is resolved. The pivotal character, Julie (Christy Barron), is having an affair and lying through her teeth about it, and as the fibs pile up and start to contradict, her people-pleasing grin turns stiff and desperate.

Writer-director Rocky Collins supplies some sharp dialogue, and there are several deft performances, notably Harry O'Reilly as Max, the deceived husband, an ambitious attorney who is touchingly soft around the edges.

David Chute

CITY AT PEACE

(Screened Sunday)

A stirring, emotional experience to watch, "City at Peace" is an involving but conventional documentary from the award-winning team of director Susan Koch and producer Christopher Koch. Focusing on several teenage members of the Washington City at Peace theater project -- who create, produce and perform in their own musical production -- the shot-on-video work is best suited for TV and cable, though limited theatrical exposure in major markets is a possibility.

One weeps for high schoolers Pam, whose brother is HIV-positive; Shanara, whose father is a terrible liar; and D'Angelo, whose brother was killed on the streets. These real-life stories and many more are incorporated in a lively stage musical destined to premiere at the restored Warner Theater, with most of the film following the mixed-race performers through sometimes-wrenching "exploratory exercises" and exhausting rehearsals.

"City" provides updates about the eight principal subjects, all of whom are talented and tough enough to keep trying to overcome troublesome pasts. The messages of never giving up hope, gaining self-respect, cultivating tolerance and promoting racial harmony come through loud and clear.

David Hunter

MR. JEALOUSY

(7:30 tonight, DGA 1 & 2)

There are couple of good laughs in Noah Baumbach's "Mr. Jealousy", a generally sluggish follow-up to his 1995 indie hit "Kicking and Screaming". An amiable comic turn by Carlos Jacott as a good-hearted stuffed shirt of a Manhattan yuppie is responsible for most of the guffaws. In the strongest sequence, Jacott's Vince turns up at a group therapy session under an assumed name, sporting an ascot and a briar pipe, rattling on desperately in a fake accent that vacillates between high-toned Oxbridge English and Highland Scot.

The movie could use a few more interludes of pure, explosive foolishness; most of the time it mopes along, infected by the bummed-out mood of the title character, a sullen, blocked writer named Lester Grimm (Eric Stoltz). He's a vacuum in human form, leeching the zest out of every scene he's in -- which is almost all of them. In fairness to Stoltz, the role is pretty narrowly defined; Lester's pathological jealousy, a lifelong ailment that happens to be focused at the moment upon the past affairs of his forthright girlfriend Ramona S(Annabella Sciorra), is practically all we know about him.

The group therapy subplot, at least, is consistently entertaining. Writer-director Baumbach has real flair for the comedy of embarrassment and social awkwardness, but he's burdened himself with a protagonist so opaque that not even wall-to-wall, voice-over narration offers much illumination. Jealousy can be such a baroque, extravagant emotion; it's a shame to waste it on a simp like Lester Grimm.

David Chute

See also

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