2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - News Poster

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Visual-Effects Pioneer Douglas Trumbull on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ Digital Innovations

Visual-Effects Pioneer Douglas Trumbull on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ Digital Innovations
Visual-effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull first appeared in Variety on Dec. 17, 1968, in a review of the sex satire “Candy,” for which he created two outer-space sequences. His other movie credit that year was more memorable: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” on which he was one of the masterminds behind the groundbreaking special effects.

Trumbull — also known for his effects work on such films as “Blade Runner” and “The Tree of Life,” and for directing 1972’s influential “Silent Running” — continues to push the boundaries of filmmaking, working on digital innovations and theater design as part of his ongoing quest to create a new and immersive experience for moviegoers. He spoke recently with Variety about how he got his career off the ground by working on the Stanley Kubrick classic.

Your father worked on the effects on “The Wizard of Oz.” Was he an influence on your VFX work?

No, by the time I was born,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Terry Gilliam Says Stanley Kubrick Wanted Him To Make A Sequel To 'Dr. Strangelove'

Terry Gilliam Says Stanley Kubrick Wanted Him To Make A Sequel To 'Dr. Strangelove'
When you think about Stanley Kubrick's output, you don't really think about sequels. The celebrated auteur was not one to return to his previous work, and the lone sequel that did come from one of his movies, Peter Hyams' "2010: The Year We Made Contact," was so different in tone and spirit from "2001: A Space Odyssey" that it might as well just have been some other random science fiction movie (Kubrick was obviously uninvolved). But new comments made by "12 Monkeys" director Terry Gilliam suggest that before his death Kubrick was not only plotting a sequel, but had intended Gilliam to direct: a follow-up to his black comedy "Dr. Strangelove" entitled "Son of Strangelove." According to Gilliam, in an interview with Twitch, "I was told after Kubrick died — by someone who had been dealing with him — that he had been interested in trying to do another 'Strangelove' with me directing.
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2001: A Space Odyssey Lost Footage Not Planned for Release

With the release of The Complete Metropolis earlier this year, which restored some 25 minutes of footage to a classic film, you can't help but wonder how many other important pieces of cinematic history are still waiting to be discovered out there. As it turns out, just last week, we learned of another potentially amazing discovery: an additional 17 minutes of Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey had been found sitting in a salt mine vault in Kansas. Documentary filmmaker Douglas Trumbull revealed this fact during a recent screening of the film in Toronto, which immediately got people talking about the possibility of re-integrating the footage and preparing a brand new release. However, some people disputed the fact that this was actually a new discovery, claiming that the studio had known about the extra footage for years, and now this week Warner Brothers have issued a statement [1] to help
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WB Uncovers Lost Footage From Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'

WB Uncovers Lost Footage From Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'
Warner Bros. has evidently found 17 minutes of lost footage from Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi classic "2001: A Space Odyssey" in a Kansas salt-mine vault, according to Forgotten Silver (via Slash Film and The Film Stage). Douglas Trumbull (the film's special photographic effects supervisor) revealed the exciting news at a recent screening of "2001" in Toronto. Trumbull said he wasn't sure what the studio plans to do with the footage, which was found in pristine, "perfectly preserved" condition and is considered an important piece of movie history. According to its IMDb page, "2001's"
See full article at The Wrap »

17 Minutes of Lost ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ Footage Found

17 Minutes of Lost ’2001: A Space Odyssey’ Footage Found
Almost like discovering a monolith buried underground, Warner Brothers recently found 17 minutes of lost footage from Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey in a salt-mine vault in Kansas. But before you go and drop acid in anticipation of an extended cut of the film, consider the slippery slope this footage constitutes. One, just because the footage was found doesn't necessarily mean it's going to make it into the public eye. Two, Kubrick himself reportedly cut the footage from the film because he felt it created pacing issues. And three, the film is just about perfect as is, do you really want to screw it up? Hit the jump for more details on the footage as well as what it might contain. The Film Stage [1] first alerted us to the news of this footage. They point us to a reports from Forgotten Silver [2] and Blastr [3] about an event in
See full article at Slash Film »

Blade Runner Named Top Sci-fi Movie

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Blade Runner Named Top Sci-fi Movie
Blade Runner has been named the greatest sci-fi film of all time in a new online poll of 100 iconic movies.

The futuristic picture, starring Harrison Ford, went on to become a cult classic despite a poor performance at the box office when it was initially released in 1982.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was voted into second place, while Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979) and 1927 classic Metropolis rounded out the top five in the survey, compiled by Totalscifionline.com.

The top ten is as follows:

1: Blade Runner (1982)

2: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

3: Star Wars (1977)

4: Alien (1979)

5: Metropolis (1927)

6: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

7: The Terminator (1984)

8: Planet of the Apes (1968)

9: E.T. (1982)

10: Solaris (1972)

Colbert To Live Forever In Space

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Colbert To Live Forever In Space
American comedian Stephen Colbert is making a bid for immortality - his DNA has been digitised and will be sent to the International Space Station.

Video game designer Richard Garriott, who is one of few private citizens to travel into space, will visit the station next month - and is taking material with him to create a time capsule of human DNA.

And The Colbert Report star is delighted that he has been chosen to contribute to the mission. In a statement, the funnyman references his love for 1968 sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, and his dream to have his identity live on in space.

He says, "I am thrilled to have my DNA shot into space, as this brings me one step closer to my lifelong dream of being the baby at the end of 2001."

And Garriott adds, "In the unlikely event that Earth and humanity are destroyed, mankind can be resurrected with Stephen Colbert's DNA. Is there a better person for us to turn to for this high-level responsibility?"

Tribeca fest talks up panels

Tribeca fest talks up panels
NEW YORK -- The Tribeca Film Festival is introducing the "Behind the Screens" and film executive-targeted "Tribeca Talks Industry" programs, featuring conversations with Sissy Spacek, Lou Reed and Isabella Rossellini.

The fest also unveiled participants in its "Tribeca Talks and Conversations in Cinema" panels: Buzz Aldrin on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mike Figgis on digital filmmaking, Christiane Amanpour on global dialogues and Steroid Nation author Shaun Assael on performance-enhancing drugs in sports.

In a "Tribeca Talks Industry" panel, The Hollywood Reporter business editor Georg Szalai will host "Click to View: The Future of New Media," which will include Rossellini discussing shorts she's created for mobile devices. Other new TTI panels are "Reuse, Remix and Renew: Film Tools for the 21st Century" and a talk with director Shane Meadows.

The programs run April 24-May 4 at venues around Manhattan.

Writer Arthur C. Clarke Dies at 90

Writer Arthur C. Clarke Dies at 90
Arthur C. Clarke, the legendary science fiction writer whose work inspired the classic Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, died early Wednesday at his home in Sri Lanka; he was 90. According to his aide, Rohan De Silva, Clarke died after suffering from breathing problems; the author had been suffering from post-polio syndrome since the 1960s, and often used a wheelchair. Born in the United Kingdom, Clarke served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and after the war earned a degree in math and physics at King's College London. He soon became involved with the the British Interplanetary Society, and also pioneered the concept that satellites could serve as telecommunications relays. While writing a number of non-fiction technical books on space exploration, he also began work on fiction in the 1940s, including "The Sentinel," a 1948 short story he wrote for a BBC competition that would later serve as the basis for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. After meeting with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick in 1964, the two began to collaborate on the script for a film that would expand on Clarke's initial story. Both began work on a book that would serve as a basis for the screenplay, but work on the film began in conjunction with the writing of the novel. As a result, the Kubrick film was released in 1967, well before the book's publication in 1968. While Clarke and Kubrick were both credited with the film's screenplay (earning an Academy Award nomination), Clarke was cited as the sole author of the book; the writer would go on to document the many differences between the book and film in The Lost Worlds of 2001, published in 1972. The film became a landmark work of cinema, featuring such iconic images as a looming black monolith and a score of classical music, including the piece "Thus Spake Zarathustra," that would become forever linked with the film. Clarke also was a television commentator alongside Walter Cronkite for the Apollo moonshots in the late 1960s, and would go on to host a number of science-oriented television shows in the 1980s. He continued to write throughout the 1970s (his works included the novel Rendezvous with Rama), and in 1982 wrote a sequel to 2001 entitled 2010: Odyssey Two, which would later become a 1984 film. Though he was not credited on the screenplay, Clarke corresponded with filmmaker Peter Hyams over the film. In the late 1990s, he was the subject of accusations of pedophilia, just as he was about to be made a knight; later investigations cleared him of all charges, and he finally received his knighthood in 2000. Clarke's home since 1956 was Sri Lanka, where he pursued his passion for marine diving. In December of 2007 he recorded a "good-bye" video message for friends, family and fans of his work. Clarke was briefly married in the early 1950s, and has no children. --IMDb staff

Be Kind Rewind

Be Kind Rewind
Sundance Film Festival

PARK CITY -- After highly imaginative explorations of man's natural instincts (Human Nature) and the interplay of memory, dreams and personal relationships ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and The Science of Sleep), Michel Gondry has turned his playful gaze to film itself.

Be Kind Rewind wants to probe the interplay among films, their audience and the people who make them. It's an exuberant, fanciful fable set amid the scruffy outskirts of American society, where people's need for escapism coincides with their desire to participate in its creation.

For all of Gondry's undeniable talent, it would be hard to imagine him pulling off this delicate and even cornball conceit without his star, Jack Black. With irrepressible exuberance and going-in-five-directions energy, Black is the embodiment of Gondry's whimsical notion that a small-town Ed Wood could infect an entire downtrodden neighborhood with the filmmaking fever.

As with most Gondry films, Rewind is not for all tastes. Its good-natured sweetness will appeal to many; others may shun the fractured fairy tale altogether. Yet this French filmmaker has developed enough of an international fan base for his fanciful films to fully support this modestly budgeted effort. New Line releases the film Feb. 22.

Certain that microwaves from the power plant he lives near are killing him, Jerry (Black), a mechanic in the struggling New Jersey town of Passaic, tries to sabotage the plant. Only he gets caught in an electromagnetic field that leaves him dazed, confused and magnetized. He thus inadvertently erases every videotape in a rental store run by his childhood pal Mike (Mos Def) while its owner, Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), is away.

When customer Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) wants to check out Ghostbusters, Jerry and Mike stall her until the end of the day. They spend that time making their own version of that film using a video camera, homemade props and playing all the roles themselves. Miss Falewicz, who has never seen the film, actually likes their version. So the two continue the ruse by making crude versions of Rush Hour, Robocop, Boyz N the Hood and The Lion King for loyal customers. Jerry calls the process of re-enacting these popular movies "sweding," though the reason for that term is a bit hazy.

Soon the customers themselves are participating in these "swedes." Productions get a bit more lavish for King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Carrie through the use of "special effects" and camera tricks. Then a Hollywood lawyer (a nicely imperious Sigourney Weaver) shows up with charges of intellectual property theft. She demands the tapes' destruction.

Gondry, who also wrote the script, keeps the focus on pop cinema. No one swedes a Bergman movie or Citizen Kane. (Which might have taken the humor in a very different yet interesting direction.) Consequently, the film doesn't go very far in its examination of film culture. Rewind can be read as a lampoon of indie filmmaking or the preposterousness of much of popular cinema or simply a gentle fable about the YouTube/MySpace generation's fascination with ego-centric creativity.

The climax -- in which the store's dilapidated building is threatened with demolition and everyone including Mr. Fletcher makes one final film supporting Fletcher's long-held claim that jazz legend Fats Waller was born in the location of the video store -- pretty much squeezes all the comic action that's left in this whimsy about sweding. The film may overstay its welcome by a good 10 minutes. But everyone has been such good company, it feels churlish to say so.

The real film crew, in this film about bad filmmaking, performs very well indeed.

BE KIND REWIND

New Line

Partizan Films

Credits:

Screenwriter-director: Michel Gondry

Producers: Georges Bermann, Michel Gondry, Julie Fong

Executive producers: Toby Emmerich, Guy Stodel

Director of photography: Ellen Kuras

Production designer: Dan Leigh

Music: Jean-Michel Bernard

Co-producer: Ann Ruark

Costume designers: Rachel Afiley, Kishu Chand

Editor: Jeff Buchanan

Cast:

Jerry: Jack Black

Mike: Mos Def

Mr. Fletcher: Danny Glover

Miss Falewicz: Mia Farrow

Alma: Melonie Diaz

Running time -- 100 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

'Bull' roars on new AFI list

"Raging Bull" and "Vertigo" are up, and "The Graduate" and "On the Waterfront" are down.

On Wednesday night, the American Film Institute revealed a new list of the 100 greatest movies of all time as part of the CBS broadcast "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies --10th Anniversary Edition."

With votes cast by 1,500 filmmakers, critics and historians, the AFI compiled a new list of greatest movies as a mirror to the rankings it unveiled in 1998. The qualifier in the update is that the movies under consideration were narrative films with significant American elements.

Although some tastes may have changed, Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" topped both lists.

But this time around, Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" battled their way into the top 10, at No. 4 and No. 9, respectively. In the original list, "Bull" ranked No. 24 and "Vertigo" was No. 61.

They supplanted "The Graduate", which fell from No. 7 to No. 17, and "On the Waterfront", which sank from No. 8 to No. 19

Of the 43 films from the past decade, 1996-2006, that were on the 400-film ballot, only four made the cut: "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (No. 50), "Saving Private Ryan" (71), "Titanic" (83) and "The Sixth Sense" (89).

New additions to the list from previous decades included "The General" (No. 17), "Intolerance" (49), "Nashville" (59), "Sullivan's Travels" (61), "Cabaret" (63) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (67).

John Ford's Western "The Searchers" moved up the most of any film, going from No. 96 to No. 12. "City Lights" and "Unforgiven" also improved their standings.

The top 10: "Citizen Kane", "The Godfather", "Casablanca", "Raging Bull", "Singin' in the Rain", "Gone With the Wind", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Schindler's List", "Vertigo" and "The Wizard of Oz".

AFI's  100 Years...100 Movies

1. Citizen Kane, 1941

2.The Godfather, 1972

3. Casablanca, 1942

4. Raging Bull, 1980

5. Singin' in the Rain, 1952

6. Gone With the Wind, 1939

7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962

8. Schindler's List, 1993

9. Vertigo, 1958

10. The Wizard of Oz, 1939

11. City Lights, 1931

12. The Searchers, 1956

13. Star Wars, 1977

14. Psycho, 1960

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

16. Sunset Blvd., 1950

17. The Graduate, 1967

18. The General, 1927

19. On the Waterfront, 1954

20. It's a Wonderful Life, 1946

21. Chinatown, 1974

22. Some Like It Hot, 1959

23. The Grapes of Wrath, 1940

24. E.T.

Force strongest with VES

Force strongest with VES
Star Wars, released 30 years ago this month, tops the Visual Effects Society's rankings of the 50 most-influential visual effects films of all time. The list was released today.

The seminal film from George Lucas helped inspire many of today's visual effects industry professionals to pursue the craft. "It revitalized the entire visual effects industry and created a new industry," said Jeff Okun, a visual effects supervisor and chairman of VES.

Said visual effects veteran Richard Edlund, who won Oscars for his work on all three films in the original Lucas trilogy: " 'Star Wars' woke up a sleeping giant. The audience enjoyed booing the villains and cheering the heroes. Since 'Star Wars, ' its audience salivates for new effects movies."

He added that the production also introduced the use of new visual effects techniques, including motion control.

Blade Runner captured the No. 2 spot on the VES list, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Matrix tied for third, and Jurassic Park came in at No. 5. The top 10 is rounded out by Tron, King Kong (1933 version), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Alien and The Abyss.

A Trip to the Moon, the 1902 Georges Melies classic that features the iconic image of a spaceship landing in the eye of the "man in the moon," which is captured on the VES Awards trophy, is ranked No.

Cameron To Direct First Movie in 10 Years

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James Cameron is to make new movie Avatar, his first film since 1997's Oscar-winning blockbuster Titanic. Fox Filmed Entertainment has confirmed Cameron is to start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, followed by live-action work in August, ahead of a summer 2009 release. Cameron has also written the screenplay for the movie, which tells the story of a wounded marine who is sent to the faraway planet of Pandora against his wishes, and finds himself caught up in a battle of survival with the planet's inhabitants. The 52-year-old has spent years researching and developing the new filming techniques needed to create the movie's $190 million hybrid of action and animation, and he claims he's been "the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood." He vows, "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theatre in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey or the next generation's Star Wars. It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting."

Cameron sets live-action, CG epic for 2009

James Cameron is set to direct Avatar, his first dramatic feature since the Oscar-winning blockbuster Titanic in 1997.

Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said Monday that Cameron will start virtual photography on the sci-fi epic in April, with live-action photography commencing in August, for a summer 2009 release. It will be filmed in a new digital 3-D format for release in 3-D.

The director already has spent years in R&D on the multiple processes needed to create a $190 million hybrid of live action and animation, which he vowed will never pass the $200 million mark. "I've been the busiest unemployed director in Hollywood," he said. "We're going to blow you to the back wall of the theater in a way you haven't seen for a long time. My goal is to rekindle those amazing mystical moments my generation felt when we first saw '2001: A Space Odyssey, ' or the next generation's 'Star Wars.' It took me 10 years to find something hard enough to be interesting."

Said Rothman: "Jim has taken the time to get it right, and we're taking the time to do it right. It's worth the wait."

Neither Cameron nor Fox want to repeat the budget overruns that plagued the $200 million Titanic, the director said. "We are shooting only 31 days of live action, all onstage. It's controllable. No weather conditions. No water on this one," he said. "When you come back to the table years later to make a movie of a certain scale, you want to make sure you cross all the t's and dot all the i's. We're 2 1/2 years out, and we've already shot 10 minutes of the film. The FX guys are working, the characters are designed, animators are already working."

Partly through its work on six documentary features including Ghosts of the Abyss, Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment team has researched a potentially groundbreaking mix of live-action cinematography and virtual photorealistic production techniques for Avatar, which will feature virtual characters.

Avatar, with a screenplay by Cameron, will mark the director's return to the sci-fi action-adventure genre. He first wrote an 80-page treatment 11 years ago.

Ion charges up Warners deal

Ion charges up Warners deal
NEW YORK -- Ion Media Networks Inc. announced Tuesday a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution that will give Ion broadcast rights to classic films like Superman and Amadeus and TV shows like Chico and the Man and The Wonder Years. The former Paxson network's deal starts Saturday, when Ion will air Superman III in a tie-in to the launch of the new movie Superman Returns. Other movies in the package include All the President's Men, Oh God!, Dog Day Afternoon and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The other movies will be scheduled in the future, though it wasn't clear immediately what the schedule would look like. CEO Brandon Burgess said Tuesday that it was likely that the movies would run in primetime on the weekends, while the TV shows would be aired in a strip schedule on the weekdays.

'Space Odyssey' Composer Ligeti Dies

Hungarian composer György Ligeti died Monday. He was 83. Ligeti passed away in Vienna, Austria, after battling a long illness and spending the last three weeks confined to a wheelchair. Best known for his work on the soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick's cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ligeti was regarded as one of the world's leading 20th-century musical pioneers. He won early critical acclaim for his 1958 electronic composition Artikulation and the orchestral Apparitions, gaining notoriety for a technique he called "micropolyphony." Ligeti spoke six languages, including his native Hungarian, German, French, and English. His former assistant and editor Stephen Ferguson, says, "He was one of the few avant-garde composers who found his way into the modern program. He reintroduced techniques of polyphony out of the tradition of Bach and Palestrina with a playful and innovative sense of sound. He developed a new sound - cluster sound - which fascinated Kubrick and propelled Ligeti to the top of the great composers of the second half of the 20th century."

Hanks Hails 'Space Odyssey' As His Favorite Film

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Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks has hailed sci-fi adventure 2001: A Space Odyssey as his favorite film of all time. The Forrest Gump star insists he "can't see enough" of the 1968 Stanley Kubrick-directed movie, because it involves the audience in a unique way. He says, "That's what I'm looking for when I go to see a film, just like any other cinema-goer. The period, the topic or the genre don't matter to me. The only thing that matters for me is: 'boy, what would you do if that were you?"' He also listed 1972 mafia movie The Godfather, crime thriller Fargo, violent high school drama Elephant and Boogie Nights among his top five all-time favorites.

Stealth

Stealth
Stealth, Hollywood's latest virtual movie, features impressive action sequences -- all created through technology -- a thin story, cardboard characters and snicker-inducing dialogue. The film thus follows the inevitable equation: The greater the reliance on technology, the less human and therefore the less engaging the story.

Stealth, directed by XXX's Rob Cohen, targets the young male audience with a full payload of high-octane action, macho posturing, impressive military hardware and an old-fashioned cheesecake. This is a reliable demographic for a solid opening weekend. The real question is the film's staying power for the second weekend. Here the Columbia release might be vulnerable.

Funnily enough, the problem with the movie -- that it's a virtual movie with only cursory human interaction -- also is its subject: For the U.S. Navy of the "near future" is looking to replace human pilots with artificial intelligence-based drones.

As the movie gets under way, only three Navy pilots are excellent enough to fly its latest stealth fighter jet: Ben (Josh Lucas), Kara (Jessica Biel) and Henry (Jamie Foxx). Their commanding officer, Capt. Cummings (Sam Shepard), seemingly without any military superior of his own, has enough juice to ram through Congress and the Pentagon a pilotless aircraft that he insists will be the "new wingman" for our Terrific Trio.

The thing is called an Extreme Deep Invader or EDI, which everyone pronounces as Eddy when they are not calling the plane Tin Man. It does have a male voice, not unlike HAL's in 2001: A Space Odyssey, so you know what Ben means when he says, "I've got a bad feeling about that plane."

Rushed into action ahead of schedule, the drone watches -- and learns -- when Ben overrides his commander's orders and successfully destroys a target swarming with terrorists in downtown Rangoon without any collateral damage. (You do believe that, don't you?) Returning to the aircraft carrier, Eddy gets hit by lightning, goes haywire, nearly crashes, arrives in sick bay in bad shape -- and Capt. Cummings immediately clears him for duty.

(Essentially, Shepard is reprieving his Black Hawk Down role of the commander who receives bad news in a remote operation center, only this time with the sinister overlay. It seems that a rogue element within the military-industrial complex is determined to promote the invention of a wacky scientist with the James Bondian name of Dr. Orbit.)

Before Eddy returns to action, however, the movie indulges in a Thai Swimsuit Special, where the pilots repair to Thailand to strip down to beachwear so audiences can admire the buff bodies of Lucas and Biel. You also learn that the two pilots have developed romantic feelings for each other.

Back in clothes, the pilots fly off to a mission near the Pakistani border, where Eddy goes bananas. Having learned from Ben that orders are a sometime thing, Eddy ignores a command and creates a potential nuclear disaster. Then Eddy decides to continue the Joy Ride up to Siberia to launch World War III.

The nonstop action from this point does yield exciting dogfights and aerial gymnastics. The film marries two different technologies, namely Tergen (for terrain generator), developed by Digital Domain, which can create virtual backgrounds; and a special gimbal, a device that allows the mock jets to incline at different angles in all directions.

There also is an intriguing second-act twist in W.D. Richter's screenplay, in which Ben engages Eddy in a midair conference and talks him over to the side of the good guys. More excitement is then generated by Eddy and Ben's rescue of Kara, who has ejected over North Korea.

The movie never really establishes any compelling reason for the Navy to want to remove pilots from combat, and the illogic compounds itself from that point. The movie does deliver the video game goods but strands its characters in a no-man's-land of crude characterizations and silly dialogue.

The actors can do little to elevate these roles. Lucas displays bravery and guile, Biel resiliency and a sweet smile, while Foxx has the misfortunate to follow a truly great acting year with a role that numbs his usual exuberance.

Technical credits are where the real action is, especially the sleek design of the hypersonic fighters and cinematographer Dean Semler's excellent blending of the virtual movie with locations in Australia, Thailand and New Zealand.

STEALTH

Columbia Pictures

An Original Film/Phoenix Pictures/Laura Ziskin production

Credits:

Director: Rob Cohen

Screenwriter: W.D. Richter

Producers: Laura Ziskin, Mike Medavoy, Neal H. Moritz

Executive producers: E. Bennett Walsh, Arnold W. Messer

Director of photography: Dean Semler

Production designer: J. Michael Riva, Jonathan Lee

Music: BT

Costumes: Lizzy Gardiner

Editor: Stephen Rivkin

Cast:

Ben: Josh Lucas

Kara: Jessica Biel

Henry: Jamie Foxx

Capt. Cummings: Sam Shepard

Keith Orbit: Richard Foxburgh

Capt. Marshfield: Joe Morton

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time -- 121 minutes

I, Robot

I, Robot
The robots in I, Robot are metal figures in black, white and gray with thin limbs and translucent faces and chests. And because the sets are often shot in low light levels, the movie at times resembles a black-and-white 1950s sci-fi thriller.

Which is fitting, for the film works best as a kind of mindless, action-packed B-movie. But on the A-level at which recent science fiction/fantasy films operate -- meaning the Spider-Man, Harry Potter and Terminator series -- this movie falls woefully short. A story about a future revolt of intelligent machines is too old to bear much scrutiny without a new twist. Throw in highly predictable character and story arcs and the film screams, Been there, done that.

Will Smith's drawing power and a snappy marriage of live action with digital elements assure a sizable opening. Domestic boxoffice certainly could exceed $100 million, with much of that coming from young males. Nevertheless, the film will disappoint science fiction fans accustomed to much more from Hollywood's merchants of fantasy.

It's been 36 years since Stanley Kubrick's benchmark 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yet director Alex Proyas and writers Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman, drawing inspiration from Isaac Asimov's seminal sci-fi collection, plunge into a tale of robots and an intelligent, HAL-like computer as if this were unexplored territory. Only one man on Earth seems to realize the dangers robots pose for mankind. Everyone else thinks he is a paranoid nut. Would not cops, scientists and politicians have at least seen all the previous movies? Wouldn't they at least know that when a monopolistic corporation that manufactures robots houses itself in a large, soulless skyscraper only evil can lurk within? Or that when robots talk in soothing, patronizing tones these disguise a malevolent intent?

Apparently not. For Chicago 2035 is a city filled with robots supposedly trained to be docile servants and programd to never harm a human. Then one robot, a new NS-5 model that goes by the name of Sonny, emerges as chief suspect in the death of the scientist who created him, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell). Yet brash police detective Del Spooner (Smith) cannot persuade anyone -- not his boss (Chi McBride), the head of U.S. Robotics (Bruce Greenwood) or robot psychiatrist Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) -- to stop the rollout of the NS-5s. They won't even consider Sonny a suspect.

"What suspect?" his lieutenant demands. "It's a can opener!"

A can of worms is what gets opened. Soon hundreds of vicious NS-5 robots chase and attack Smith when he drives through a tunnel, leaping off large trucks, destroying his car and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. But -- get this -- no one in the middle of the city sees a thing! Everyone writes off the incident to Spooner's mental instability.

Spooner, it turns out, is himself part man and part machine, having been pieced back together by Dr. Lanning following a tragic auto accident. So thanks to his superhuman strength and Dr. Calvin's newfound ability to point a gun, close her eyes and still hit her target -- this after Dr. Calvin becomes convinced of Spooner's theory -- humanity is able to battle back against the NS-5s.

Visual effects supervisor John Nelson and special effects house Digital Domain tackle a movie with more than 1,000 effects shots. Sonny himself is a three-dimensional CG character that channels the voice and movements of actor Alan Tudyk. Yet the robot and human worlds never truly merge. Fights between men and machine look fake, and other than Sonny, no robot develops any personality other than that of relentless menace.

Smith carries the movie on his broad and often bare shoulders, which is a heavy load since nearly everyone including the human cast acts like automatons. Even Smith is not very good company as the script requires him to act pissed-off before given a reason to behave so. Moynahan brings a stiff beauty to the role of the techno-scientist, but her timid filmmakers won't allow romantic sparks to fly between their black male and white female leads. That's not futuristic; that's retro.

I, ROBOT

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox in association with Mediastream IV present a Davis Entertainment Co./Laurence Mark/Overbrook Films production

Credits:

Director: Alex Proyas

Screenwriters: Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsmith

Screen story by: Jeff Vintar

Suggested by stories by: Isaac Asimov

Producers: Laurence Mark, John Davis, Topher Dow, Wyck Godfrey

Executive producers: Will Smith, James Lassiter, Michael Shane, Anthony Romano

Director of photography: Simon Duggan

Production designer: Patrick Tatopoulos

Music: Marco Beltrami

Visual effects supervisor: John Nelson

Co-producer: Steven R. McGlothen

Costume designer: Elizabeth Keogh Palmer

Editors: Richard Learoyd, Armen Minasian, William Hoy. Cast:

Del Spooner: Will Smith

Dr. Susan Calvin: Bridget Moynahan

Sonny: Alan Tudyk

Dr. Alfred Lanning: James Bromwell

Lawrence Robertson: Bruce Greenwood

Granny: Adrian L. Ricard

Lt. John Bergin: Chi McBride

MPAA rating: PG-13

Running time -- 114 minutes

Hopkins Finds Hannibal Inspiration in Hepburn

  • WENN
Hopkins Finds Hannibal Inspiration in Hepburn
Sir Anthony Hopkins turned to Katharine Hepburn and Truman Capote to find a voice for the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter. The Welsh actor combined the voices of the multi Oscar winning actress and American author with the sound of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey to create the eerie monotone voice for Silence Of The Lambs in 1991 and more recently Hannibal and Red Dragon. Hopkins recalls, "I read the script and - boom - I knew intuitively how to play him. There were two, maybe three voices that I heard. I thought of Katharine Hepburn, Truman Capote and Hal. During rehearsals, I was going to try some cockamamy American accent which I knew I couldn't identify. I knew I had got them all because there was this amazing silence at the end of my first speech, and Jonathan Demme let out a 'My God'."
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