Brett Ratner

The Rock Hercules

If you want your mind blown, consider this: there’s a Hercules movie coming out this summer. In a little over a month, in fact. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track, but here’s a great example of a potential blockbuster that’s slipped mostly under the radar. Or maybe we’ve avoided it because we already had an abjectly horrible Hercules movie this year, and we haven’t quite recovered yet. We got a good look at a trailer back in March, and this offers a little more plot beyond Hercules telling us his name, but it still looks mostly like the movie is made out of sweat. Check it out for yourself:

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Hercules

Was Hercules truly a god? Was he just a mortal man? Was he, as Disney posited, flanked at all times by a chorus of R&B singers and a grumpy man-goat? The world may never know. Even if the world does kind of know, because Hercules was not a real person and just some guy the Greeks made up who could lift really, really heavy things. But Brett Ratner‘s Hercules isn’t satisfied with this answer. Instead, it offers up its own. This Hercules is something different, something billed as a “revisionist take on the classic myth,” where Hercules was not the son of Zeus and lived in a totally realistic Greece devoid of any supernatural beasts. Which makes it super awkward when the first trailer for Hercules rolls out supernatural beast after supernatural beast for Dwayne Johnson to beat with a club. Technically, this Herc might still be a non-godly one — the text cards proclaim, “BEFORE HE WAS A LEGEND… HE WAS A MAN,” and Ian McShane spends most of the trailer bellowing other, similar things about man and legend. But it seems somewhere along the line Ratner decided against “revisionist real-world Hercules,” and opted for “revisionist does-all-the-same-things-old-Hercules-did” Hercules.

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dueling hercules

Something oddly wonderful happened in early ’70s Hollywood the likes of which was never glimpsed again. No, I’m not referring to Elliott Gould’s emergence as a leading man and international sex symbol. Instead I’m talking about a situation where two studios with similar projects decided to combine forces instead of racing to complete competing movies. 20th Century Fox had the rights to Frank Robinson’s and Thomas Scortia’s novel “The Glass Inferno,” and WB had the rights to Richard Stern’s “The Tower.” Both books were disaster tales about a devastating high-rise fire, so the studios combined their efforts resulting in 1974′s The Towering Inferno. It was an immense success. Similar scenarios have happened many times since with competing projects bearing a remarkable resemblance to each other in plot or subject, but none of them have ended in that same congenial way. Either one film drops out of the running (think Linda Lovelace biopic Inferno surrendering to Lovelace), or two similarly themed movies hit screens within months of each other. That’s actually the most common scenario, and it’s set to happen again next year. Kind of. Two CGI-filled epics about Hercules are set for release in 2014. February will bring Hercules: The Legend Begins, a Renny Harlin film starring Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz as the muscular hero, and then Brett Ratner‘s Hercules with Dwayne Johnson in the title role flexes its way into theaters in July. While these head-to-heads are often tough to call a victor on in advance, this one seems like a […]

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Who is James Packer? He’s an Australian businessman who’s the son of late media tycoon Kerry Packer, he’s the guy who just sold Consolidated Media Holdings to News Corp for $2.1 billion, and he’s the guy who’s teaming up with Brett Ratner to put the infamous director in charge of his own production company. According to Deadline, the duo are teaming up to create RatPac Entertainment, an entity that’s looking to produce and finance independent films as well as co-finance big blockbusters through partnerships with the larger studios. Not yet is much known about the fledgling company’s immediate plans, but it’s said that they’re already set up as a co-financier on two unnamed projects, and Ratner says of the new venture,“We intend to build a major independent film company which not only has the ability to fully finance its films, but which also offers creative independence for its filmmakers.” Traditionally, Ratner gets a bad name in the film media because he’s made a few unfortunate comments in public interviews and he’s largely thought of as being the sort of journeyman director who’s brought onto films to toe the line and protect corporate interests; so it’s likely that the idea of him heading up his own production company is going to take a lot of flack. But, really, does it sound like that bad of an idea when you think about it?

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What is Casting Couch? It’s not an actual couch, you guys. Seriously, stop it. Kristen Wiig may have walked away from her regular gig on Saturday Night Live to focus on her film career, but she would be insane to walk away from the chemistry she has with her former SNL cast mate Bill Hader; getting those two together is always a comedy goldmine. And though they’ve appeared together as a big screen duo before, they’ve never really gotten the chance to anchor a film together as the stars. That all changes now! Variety is reporting that the twosome have signed up for an indie comedy called Skeleton Twins, where they will play two estranged twins who reunite after both have near death experiences on the same day. Luke Wilson is also set to appear as Wiig’s husband, a character who is described as being a “nature frat boy,” whatever that means. Regardless, the results are bound to be hilarious.

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The best news to hit the X-Men franchise in many years was that X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn had signed on to make the sequel, and that said sequel would take its inspiration from a classic X-Men story called “Days of Future Past.” For weeks we’ve been living in a bright and sunny paradise where the future of Fox’s X-Men movies looks very bright, indeed. But suddenly, thanks to news from the party-poopers over at Deadline Hollywood, things aren’t smelling quite so rosy. They were the first to report the news that Vaughn has now decided to drop out of the project to instead focus on another comic book adaptation for Fox based off of Mark Millar’s ‘Secret Service.’ This leaves the future of X-Men: Days of Future Past somewhat up in the air. And, if you’ll remember, the last time a successful X-Men director dropped out of the franchise he was helming, the results were Brett Ratner being brought in for the abysmal X-Men: The Last Stand. There isn’t a chance that something like that could happen again, is there?

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Movie 43 Trailer

It’s been a really long time since a sketch anthology movie got released in theaters. I’m not some sort of human trivia machine, so I don’t know exactly how long, but let’s just say that it’s been quite a while since somebody showed somebody else their VHS copy of Kentucky Fried Movie in a college dorm room. The people at Relativity Media are making a big play at bringing the form back though, by recruiting an army of funny filmmakers and a legion of talented actors to put together a new sketch comedy anthology called Movie 43. Who do they have directing segments of this thing? People like Bob Odenkirk, James Gunn, Elizabeth Banks, Peter Farrelly, and tons others. Who’s starring? People like Halle Berry, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, and many more than can be typed without having your fingers cramp up. This movie cast Gerard Butler as its leprechaun, so you know it’s star-studded.

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The Flamingo Kid

At a certain point in the Hollywood remake game, you just have to throw up your hands and say, “sure, why not, let’s just remake anything!” And that seems to be what might have transpired in Brett Ratner‘s mind, because the filmmaker is now set to produce a remake of Garry Marshall’s The Flamingo Kid. See? Sure! Why not? Okay! Deadline Hollywood reports (via The Playlist) that Ratner will produce the film (through his Rat Pictures) alongside Walt Disney Pictures. And, while a remake like this certainly feels strange, this new film will also have a familiar face on board – veteran producer Michael Phillips, who also produced the original, Matt Dillon-starring production. Hey, look at that! Maybe this idea isn’t insane! Additionally, music video director (and For Colored Girls scribe) Nzingha Stewart will pen the script.

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Ever since Chris Tucker uttered the phrase, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” in the trailers for the original Rush Hour, that pairing of him and martial arts legend Jackie Chan has become, for better or worse, an enduring part of our pop culture lexicon. Despite the initial joy everyone experienced by watching a loud black guy and a bumbling Asian guy teaming up and becoming friends, however, by the time the third film had come and gone, it started to feel like the Rush Hour formula was getting pretty tired, and should probably be put to bed. At least, it felt that way to audiences. To people who make lots of money producing a franchise, things tend to look a whole lot different. That’s why, when Crave Online asked Rush Hour producer Arthur Sarkissian if he has any new projects on the horizon, it comes as no surprise that he responded, “I am working on Rush Hour 4 right now with Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.” He went on to explain his statement by saying, “I’m trying to do it closer to how I did Rush Hour 1, more down to earth, more gritty, introduce two new characters and make it real the way the first one was. I personally was not happy with the third one. I thought 1 and 2 were very good. I think 3 got out of hand a little bit. It’s not a matter of just bringing them […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It happens nightly. It’s about movies. Sometimes television, too. It’s written by a guy who thinks he’s funny. He is often wrong. We begin this evening with a quick programming note. For the second time in the history of this column, we will be celebrating a week of guest entries. Once again, members of the FSR staff have come forward to pledge their swords to the battle for excellent nightly movie news link-dumps. I will be away doing my usual moving and shaking, while the likes of Nathan Adams, Kevin Carr, Luke Mullen, Kate Erbland and a doubtfully sober Robert Fure will be taking the reigns. I have faith that you will all survive their week of debauchery. I bid you to go with god. Above, Bane reacts to this news in a new image from The Dark Knight Rises.

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There have been a lot of small, brilliant pieces of movie news lately. Cool ideas and interesting people attached to projects with potential. That’s why it’s particularly bitter to hear news that feels a lot like gargling acid. This specific swallow comes from Deadline Fredericksburg who report that Universal is back to mining their own library to come up with Midnight Run 2. Maybe a sequel would be a good idea. Who knows. Martin Brest had his own sins as a director, but Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run were his best. It’s tough that he ended his career on Gigli, but it might be even tougher that Universal is working with Brett Ratner to direct a sequel to the Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin-starring flick about an accountant trying his best to keep breathing while the FBI, some bounty hunters and the mob are on his tail. What’ even better than his aggressive mediocrity is that they’ve got David Elliot and Paul Lovett (Four Brothers and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) to write the script.

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Could the endless weeks of rampant speculation be over? Is it possible that we finally know what Brett Ratner’s next directing project after Hercules is going to be? Not necessarily, but Variety has some news on a new film that he’s definitely involved in as a producer, and that he might end up directing if things work out. His Rat Entertainment is in talks to adapt “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution,” a chronicle of the early days of MTV written by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum. Ratner has earned a lot of criticism over the years due to his ADD directing style, but what better project for him to take on than a historical look back at the people who invented vapid, quick-cut nonsense? Factor in that the man’s last film, Tower Heist, was actually mostly unoffensive, and we may be at the beginnings of a Brett Ratner revolution. Especially now that he has all of that Oscar controversy behind him. Sure, we’re not yet certain that he’s going to end up directing this one, but it’s probably an easy bet that he’ll at least be in the room when they’re auditioning young actresses to play Nina Blackwood and Martha Quinn; so both this movie and the girls should end up with his fingerprints all over them.

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According to a report from Variety, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is currently in negotiations to star in Brett Ratner’s next film, Hercules. Normally I might be scoffing a little at this news, but today it’s striking me as being a good move, and for several reasons. The first being that while I usually find Brett Ratner’s work to be less than satisfying, last night I gave Tower Heist a watch, and while it was pretty stupid, it wasn’t completely offensive. And the best parts of the film were the performances by Eddie Murphy and Alan Alda, two charismatic actors who were given pretty decent platforms to show off their inherent charm. If there’s one thing that The Rock has got in spades, it’s charisma, so perhaps there’s hope for a Brett Ratner film yet. The second reason I’m cautiously optimistic about this news is just that it’s a movie about Hercules. Any career move that shows Johnson intends on continuing his re-commitment to getting huge in the gym, dropping elbows on people at Wrestlemania, and starring in big budget action movies is a good sign to me. He lost me there for a few years when he was way trimmed down and just trying to subsist on smirking his way through kids’ movies. The world needs another action icon, not another former symbol of masculinity degrading himself for money. Leave that to Ice Cube.

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Drinking Games

Have you ever wanted to stick it to those smarmy white-collar crooks who raid pension funds and embezzle money from hard-working citizens? Well, you may never get this chance, but you can do it vicariously through the characters in Brett Ratner’s blue-collar revenge film Tower Heist, out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Though, since no one is going to try to rob a fat cat’s penthouse apartment (because if you’ve got the time, ingenuity and energy to do that, you’d be rich by now), why not relax a bit when you watch the film. And what better way to relax than with some of your favorite adult beverage to keep you company?

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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The last forty-eight hours have been tumultuous ones for this year’s Academy Awards telecast. First, the show’s producer Brett Ratner was unceremoniously asked to step down from his position after the world realized that he was a creep. Then his host, Eddie Murphy, soon followed, wishing the new producer and new host the best of luck. Fans all over the web were in an agitated state, debating who should take their places, with a large contingent actively campaigning for a very Muppet Oscars. The Academy seems to be in a bit of a panic though, because less than a day later they’ve already locked their choices down, and the replacements they found can most accurately be described as safe. First, it was announced that Brian Grazer would be the new producer. After this, speculation began to run rampant that Billy Crystal would be the most logical and easy choice for Grazer to plug in as host, seeing as he’s done the job so many times and has a seemingly endless enthusiasm for the gig. Sure enough, earlier today Crystal took to his @BillyCrystal Twitter account and made the following announcement, “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.” Since then, the Academy’s official account has retweeted Crystal’s claims, making things pretty official.

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Last night’s Movie News After Dark column reported the news that Brett Ratner was forced to resign from being the producer of this year’s Academy Awards telecast due to publicly making some homophobic comments that offended a number of people who viewed them as hate speech, and disgusted everyone else who viewed them as sobering proof that there are still men in their 40s who talk like 15-year-old kids trying to impress their friends while drinking Slurpees in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. The news that Ratner would be stepping down as producer was viewed as a negative to absolutely no one. But there has now been some collateral damage from Ratner’s exit that’s bound to bum some people out. In the wake of Ratner’s resignation The Academy has made an announcement that Eddie Murphy has stepped down as the host of the show as well. It seems that Eddie feels that a new producer would be better off stepping into a completely fresh situation with their own host rather than trying to continue work on what had already been done, because when asked about his decision he said, “First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party’s decision with regard to a change of producers for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I’m sure that the new production team […]

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The Dark Knight Occupies Wall Street

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s not the nightly news column you want right now, but it’s the one you need. Because you need a nightly news column that will be strong in the face of adversity, cover the things you care about, and publish videos of Ryan Gosling being sexy without words. We begin tonight with a shot from the set of The Dark Knight Rises, something we’ve refrained from covering too much. However, I found this particular photo — one of a batch from Mail Online – that shows a tender moment between our hero, as played by Christian Bale, and his new foe Bane, as played by Tom Hardy. Just a little hug as Chris Nolan’s production occupies Occupy Wall Street in New York.

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Culture Warrior

One of the great misconceptions about Hollywood is that it is a liberal institution. Several false assumptions inform this misconception: thinking of “Hollywood” as a monolithic entity in any way besides its shared corporate infrastructure, confusing public endorsements of celebrity politicians by celebrity movie stars as political activism, thinking that left-leaning consumers of movies see Hollywood as representing their political beliefs in any way, selectively reading a limited number of texts (e.g., Green Zone “proves” Hollywood’s liberalism, but every superhero movie ever isn’t proof of its conservatism), and, most importantly, thinking that the most public figures associated with Hollywood (i.e., stars and filmmakers) are Hollywood. This last point I think is one that has continued to be the least considered when such straw man critiques are drawn, because Hollywood here is equated only with its most visible figures who overshadow its intricate but also not-so-shrouded political economy. It’s no mistake that despite the fluctuating numbers of major and minor Hollywood studios in the past 100 years, the most powerful studios, like the biggest banks in the nation, have been referred to as “The Big Five.” And indeed, to the surprise of no one, both Big Fives have had and are continuing a lucrative relationship with one another. Hollywood’s agenda, of course, has always been profit, and the representatives of this ideology are not George Clooney and Matt Damon, but Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal (Chairman/CEO & Co-Chairman, Sony/Columbia), Stephen Blairson (CEO, 20th Century Fox), Brad Grey (Chairman/CEO, Paramount), Ronald Meyer […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grabs a protest sign and a test so he can occupy something. All the big cities are taken, so he decides to Occupy Hollywood, but being one of the 99%, he can’t afford a plane ticket from Ohio to California. So, he occupies his local multiplex, squatting in the front of their biggest screen. There, he has a chance to check out the loosely-related Tower Heist and later drinks some spiked egg nog and wanders into a later screening of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. At least that’s what he’s telling the authorities.

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