Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wow, two reviews for one post?! Well, it’s Brendan Fraser, what can I say? Besides one of them isn’t worth wasting a whole post on it so…
But let’s start with:
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Featuring: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
Plot: Inspired by Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Unfortunately the characters are using a copy of the actual book in the story.
Official website: http://www.journey3dmovie.com/
Comments: If this was made to prove that one cannot make a good action movie with only three characters, bad dialogue and one top box office name (or one used to be top box office name in this case) then I would give it a 10 without any hesitation at all. I’ve heard that it was made for 3D viewing, I haven’t seen it in 3D so I can’t exactly comment on that, I suppose it does improve the visuals a lot, but no amount of 3D can improve a movie to the point of making it good when the script simply isn’t there.
Journey to the Center of the Earth Trailer
Featuring: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Guillory, Eliza Bennett, Richard Strange, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis
Genre: fantasy, adventure
Plot: What happen when one man has the ability to bring into the real world characters from book while reading out loud. Interesting life must he have…
Official website: http://www.inkheartmovie.com/
Comments: I wish people could make good fantasy movies… sigh… Seeing the trailer I was having high hopes for this one. Unfortunately it failed to deliver. And when I think I was whining about Stardust two years ago… Paul Bettany and Helen Mirren are good as always, but Brendan Fraser and Andy Serkis don’t rise up to their usual standards. Hell, Brendan Fraser hasn’t done that in years now, possibly since the first Mummy movie, the damn thing must have taken him back to tomb with it, but hey, I’m still hoping… The one good thing that came out of this is that it made me want to read the book and I’ll try to get it the next chance I’ll get to do that.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Oscars Opening Number - Hugh Jackman
Musicals Are Back - Hugh Jackman, Beyoncé, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper
Update: I didn't say anything about the performances when I posted the videos but maybe I should. The opening number was great. I didn't care much for the recession theme, but it was well done and wonderfully performed. Hats off to Mr. Jackman. And who would have thought Anne Hathaway had that voice in her? The standing ovations were well-deserved.
Now regarding the musical medley my enthusiasm is starting to decrease when I get to it. Hugh Jackman and Beyonce are quite alright, she's quite a bit of a diva actually, but the other two couples don't really fit in. Their performance is weak and they look more like filling, I don't know why they called them at all. Well, actually I do know why, but they shouldn't have made that compromise for publicity's sake.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
While waiting for the show let's take a look at what he did while hosting the Tony Awards in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
2003 Tony Awards Opening Number
2004 Tony Awards Opening - One Night Only
2004 Tony Awards - The Boy From Oz
2005 Tony Awards - Medley
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Around the time when X-Men III: The Last Stand premiered in Cannes in 2006, the rumors started to circulate about a new movie featuring Wolverine alone. Hugh Jackman professed his interest in doing such a movie because of his love for the character provided they had a good script, and the title was added to his IMDB profile page with a tentative release date set for 2007.
That wasn't going to happen. He got to film three more movies, The Prestige, Deception, Australia, he landed his voice to two animated movies, Happy Feet and Flushed Away, and he also produced and stared in an attempt of a musical series, Viva Laughing, that was doomed to fail, before he got to the most anticipated Wolverine.
Finally, in the fall of 2007 he announced they had a script he was happy with, he mentioned a twist he liked a lot, and they were looking for a director for it.
In the beginning of January 2008 shooting started quietly in New Zeeland. For over a month all we got to see was a random tabloid photo of Jackman enjoying a shotover jet river ride in his spare time. Meanwhile casting rumors were popping out all over the place. Liev Schreiber was playing Sabertooth. Danny Huston was playing William Stryker. Lynn Collins was playing Silver Fox. The studio was in no hurry to confirm either of them.
And then on 14th of February 2008 the first official Wolverine photo hit the web causing a frenzy. It was featured on tons of websites as everyone had an opinion about it, it brightened up single's Valentine's Day, and it was turned into wallpapers scaring off grandmothers passing by the pc (true story!). As a side note, it was the inspiration behind XMO: Wolverine - An Unofficial Website, which was put online the same day and it wasn't too bad for only a couple of hours of work.
The next news concerned two big names added to the roaster, and I don't necessarily mean big actor names but characters. Ryan Reynolds was playing Deadpool and Taylor Kitsch was playing Gambit. More fans became interested in the movie debating whether this was a good move or not. Also, Dominic Monaghan was Beak and Will.I.Am was Wraith, Daniel Henney was Agent Zero and Kevin Durand was The Blob. At this point people started to voice their concern that too many mutants were involved and it was starting to look like X-Men 3: Reloaded, being full of cameo appearances. And we all know how that one turned out. Mind you, they didn't know yet about Emma Frost, Cyclops and a few others. In their defense it should be said that an action movie can't be done with one character alone, especially an anti-social one that no one can stand up to.
Empire released two more badass photos from the same forming trend.
But the big star was a fan made poster that was mistaken for an official one and therefore ended up on all sorts of official sites, in magazines and even on eBay. We can't fault it for it, it was a damn good one.
Rumors started to spread regarding artistic differences between the director Gavin Hood and Fox studio on the set of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. They seemed to be confirmed when Richard Donner flew over to Australia, though later it was asserted that he was also one of the producers and he was just visiting his wife, also a producer of the movie.
Meanwhile Hugh Jackman was stalked by the paparazzis and photographed just about everywhere: on the set, at the gym, in the street, with coffee, without coffee, in the harbor, outside his house, on a different set, on the beach, etc.
Principal photography ended in June, additional production work following to be done in L.A.
In July Hugh Jackman made a surprise appearance at San Diego Comic Con and he didn't settle for only for bringing his charming self. The poor attempt of a poster is not worth mentioning, but the rough material that was screened sure is. It didn't tell much about the plot, but it did give us an idea of the general feel of the movie and that was a good one. This well-inspired move raised more interest in the movie than any PR Fox did, and the studio didn't go out of its way for it anyway. I have to say I was hooked after watching that footage. A bootleg copy can be seen here.
A long waiting came after that with no more news while Hugh Jackman was shooting additional scenes for Australia. At the end of November Wolverine made it on the cover of Empire Magazine. In the same time advertising for the official X-Men Origins: Wolverine game and action toys was being done.
The X-Men Origins: Wolverine official website came online though it didn't have much on it, only to be completed in December with the very much anticipated trailer. The video is more elaborated and edited than the Comic Con footage but it doesn't add much to what we already know about the story featuring some of the material we have already seen. It's interesting to notice that a forehead bullet hit plus an army of needles that appear in the French trailer are missing from the US one. Nevertheless, it is still impressing and Wolverine is one tough badass guy. He even got a haircut that suits him for a change.
We started the new year with a new photo taken from the above mentioned scene.
Two weeks of shooting in Vancouver scheduled for January stirred even more rumors. People started to bitch about how bad Fox must have screwed up if it needed re-shooting, forgetting that due to conflicting schedules and weather conditions those two weeks of shooting had been planned ever since last fall and producer Lauren Shuler Donner had mentioned it in various interview.
It got so bad that Hugh Jackman felt the need to clarify things in a message sent to Ain't It Cool. On one hand it's cool to see a movie star so involved in what he's doing and on the other some might wonder if the situation is really desperate since the case can be argued both ways. We're just happy he had the courtesy to send a group photo attached to it.
A simple X-Men Origins: Wolverine teaser poster was released soon after that. For some reason I happen to like the fan made one better.
Then it was time for three poorly photoshop edited promotional photos. I sure hope Fox put all its money into the making of the movie 'cause I didn't see much going into promotion.
A real tour of force hit the screens, and then the web, with 3 TV spots aired in consecutive days in mid February. Plenty of screenshots can be found here and the videos are below.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine TV Spot #1 - Outcasts
X-Men Origins: Wolverine TV Spot #2 - Brothers
X-Men Origins: Wolverine TV Spot #3 - Legends
If anyone had any doubts about the movie until now they can sleep in peace. The videos raise some questions like how come Wolverine and Sabertooth are brothers now? The audience has to be reminded that this isn't a comic adaptation to screen but a movie inspired from a whole series of comics the way I see it, so not all details are expected to be respected but just the general idea. Other than that they look damn good. Hats off to the director Gavin Hood, no wonder Totsi got an Oscar. His skills are showing especially in the second TV spot.
In answer to those who complained about Liev Schreiber not being big enough, blond enough, hairy enough, my only concern now is that he might steal all the scenes he's in like he did in Defiance. Deadpool is not fully Deadpool yet, which leaves an opening for another origin movie like planned, and the action scenes featuring Gambit seem to be the coolest so far. Silver Fox is shown dying twice like in an early draft of David Benioff's script that I read last spring, and that makes me think that a similar ending must have been used too.X-Men Origins: Wolverine Final Trailer
Quoting the official synopsis: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past". And what a past!
One problem still remains, there are almost two months and a half left until the movie opens on May 1st.
May can't come any sooner!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Et voila, the polls are closed and now we know the winners of the 2008 Cititor SF Awards:
Dan Simmons – Ilion 32% (68 votes)
Best Romanian Short Story:
Link to the vote results page
Link to the winners announcement page
And now the comments... this was one tricky voting process I will have to say. The nominations were made by the readers of the said blog, and the voting was open to everyone. To be completely fair one would have to read all the titles in all categories, which is a lot to ask in our country and given the current state of economy. Therefore it's a good thing the vote wasn't mandatory for all categories. Not everyone is into SF and Fantasy and Horror. I don't care how many awards a horror novel has got, I'm still not gonna read it because it's just not my cup of tea.
Now that we have established that, let's focus on the categories that do actually interest us. Again we're prone to be partial. Given one category, those are only five of all the titles published last year, we're faced with the following possible case scenarios: we read everything, make a decision and vote, or we read some of the titles and we choose from those few, or we read just one work and vote? But what if we didn't like that much what we read and we're pretty sure some other title is better only that we didn't get to that one yet? For example, I've got all 3 volumes from the Dozois anthologies. I didn't have time to read them, the way things are going it looks like I'm saving them for the summer vacation, but I did read the first volume published the previous year and I liked it quite a bit. Will I be tempted to vote for one of them assuming they're close in quality and disregard the other titles which I might or might have not read?
Hardest category to vote in was Best Translated Short Story and the reason is pretty simple. There are at least five anthologies published plus other stories from SF magazines and you really have to be into short stories to read them. I for once would pick a novel over a series of short stories any day, it keeps me entertained longer. Also tastes can vary a great deal here.
One puzzling category was Best Translation. Unless I've read the original how am I supposed to know for sure that when the story flows well or stumbles the credit/blame belongs to the author or translator? Of course we're not talking about typos and lack of accords but still, the translator has and important job too.
Best Reprint was probably one of the easiest since all titles are close to what one might call classics or at least they're famous enough. I'm still a little disappointed Picnic on the Side of the Road didn't win, I have soft spot for it.
One category that should have been easy, Best Cover Art, it wasn't because they didn't provide links to the nominated covers, or at least I didn't find them, and I had to go online and look for pics big enough to figure out what was going on in those images. That part was annoying.
I left the juciest part for the end, Best Romanian Short Story. In theory this should have been rather easy too. One didn't need more than an hour to read all the stories and there was even time for a coffee break to muse over them and pick the favorite. In practice though... where have all those votes come from? It looks like a voting war. And if those votes come from friends, like someone suggested, then I'm really envious 'cause I know for sure that one of the authors doesn't have that many friends.
Don't ask me if the winner deserves it, I can't possibly be objective in this particular case. Make up your own mind!
Here's the winning story - Inghetul:
Here's the votes rundown:
And here's an interview with the author:
(the poor thing should have tried to be more awake when she answered those questions in order to sound more articulate)
It has to be said that the technical implementation behind the voting process had something to do with it. It's an online poll, so it's either based on cookies or IPs. Anything more complicated than that would have decreased the voters' number to half or less. But on one hand one can work around cookies, and on the other the use of IP can leave people with the impossibility to vote, which again isn't fair. There is no clear answer. The way things are my only complaint is that they shouldn't have showed the percentages for the partial results.
I will end here saying that I am happy and, why not, proud that the story won. If even half of the voters have read it then I'm happy and I thank them all. And one more thing... if you had to choose between coming in second place for such an award and winning in a category that will be discarded next year, what would you choose?
Sunday, February 8, 2009
02.02.2009 - 08.02.2009
|1||PANG Qing / TONG Jian|
|2||DUBE Jessica / DAVISON Bryce|
|3||ZHANG Dan / ZHANG Hao|
|4||DUHAMEL Meagan / BUNTIN Craig|
|5||McLAUGHLIN Keauna / BRUBAKER Rockne|
|1||DAVIS Meryl / WHITE Charlie|
|2||VIRTUE Tessa / MOIR Scott|
|3||SAMUELSON Emily / BATES Evan|
|4||CRONE Vanessa / POIRIER Paul|
|5||WEAVER Kaitlyn / POJE Andrew|
I haven't seen any of it since Eurosport didn't bother to air the competitions. :(
All I can say is that Worlds look promising this year so bring it on! :D
Friday, February 6, 2009
20.1.2009 – 25.1.2009
|1||Aliona SAVCHENKO / Robin SZOLKOWY|
|2||Yuko KAWAGUCHI / Alexander SMIRNOV|
|3||Maria MUKHORTOVA / Maxim TRANKOV|
|4||Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV|
|5||Lubov ILIUSHECHKINA / Nodari MAISURADZE|
|6||Nicole DELLA MONICA / Yannick KOCON|
|7||Erica RISSEEUW / Robert PAXTON|
|8||Maylin HAUSCH / Daniel WENDE|
|9||Adeline CANAC / Maximin COIA|
|10||Vanessa JAMES / Yannick BONHEUR|
|3||Kevin VAN DER PERREN|
Ice Dance Results
|1||Jana KHOKHLOVA / Sergei NOVITSKI|
|2||Federica FAIELLA / Massimo SCALI|
|3||Sinead KERR / John KERR|
|4||Nathalie PECHALAT / Fabian BOURZAT|
|5||Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE|
|6||Pernelle CARRON / Matthieu JOST|
|7||Anna ZADOROZHNIUK / Sergei VERBILLO|
|8||Ekaterina RUBLEVA / Ivan SHEFER|
|9||Kristin FRASER / Igor LUKANIN|
|10||Katherine COPELY / Deividas STAGNIUNAS|
I know, I know, it happened last month and I'm late but I was sick during the Euros and I spent the entire week in bed watching skating, which is good I guess as opposed to staying in bed without skating.
A few random comments regarding the competitions:
- Maria MUKHORTOVA / Maxim TRANKOV - still can't take the pressure and fail to deliver during the LP
- Tatiana VOLOSOZHAR / Stanislav MOROZOV - are still improving, I'm impressed how far they got considering where they started
- Yuko KAWAGUCHI / Alexander SMIRNOV - what is it with the Russians and their fascination for clown numbers?
- Brian JOUBERT - I was happy to see him win, he was slightly better during the SP, changing the LP was a good idea, I didn't like the other one he used this season. I was a little disappointed to see him play it safe during the LP, I would have liked to see a real fight.
- Samuel CONTESTI - he was the highlights of the entire competition for me, I loved his cowboy program
- Kevin VAN DER PERREN - happy to see him on the podium again, not crazy about the skeleton costume
- Yannick PONSERO - getting better too, impressing LP
- Alban PREAUBERT - not sure what to say, not crazy about his style and I never liked his programs much
- Tomas VERNER - loved both of his programs, sad to see the meltdown during the LP
- Kristoffer BERNTSSON - it's confirmed once again, he's better during the SP and always had problems with the LP
- Jana KHOKHLOVA / Sergei NOVITSKI - the OD neon outfit is still making me cringe, I liked them, well, well enough for first place
- Federica FAIELLA / Massimo SCALI - good God I hated all of their costumes, and they didn't convince me with their programs either
- Sinead KERR / John KERR - absolutely loved them though they looked sort of tensed during the FS
- Nathalie PECHALAT / Fabian BOURZAT - didn't like their costumes and clowns again? *shudders*
- Anna CAPPELLINI / Luca LANOTTE - I like them, they look sweet and innocent
- Laura LEPISTÖ - she delivered a solid performance
- Carolina KOSTNER - loved her costumes but for some reason she fails to convince me
- Susanna PÖYKIÖ - it was nice to see her do well again
- Kiira KORPI - I would have liked to see her perform better
As for the Gala, nothing outstanding really... no, can't remember anything.
See you at the Worlds! (on the couch of course ;))