Fantasy Films

Jack the Giant Slayer

While talking my dog on a stroll through Hollywood, my gaze fell upon a sufficiently giant billboard for the upcoming failure that will be Jack the Giant Slayer. Having previously seen a trailer, I knew it to be some sort of live action film, despite the billboard featuring some very cartoony looking giants. Taking them in, I was taken aback by one particular giant – one with a giant, orange, twiggy afro. “That’s silly,” I thought to myself, because that giant looked goddamn silly. A few giants over there was a two-headed fellow, with one head mostly normal and the other looking like it was quite possibly retarded. Seeing these two silly monsters together would have destroyed any hopes I had for the film if I, you know, had any hopes for the film. It reminded me of seeing the poster for The Hobbit, the one that made you think, somewhat accurately, that the film should have been called The Silly Dwarfs. The potent combination got me wondering when the fantasy genre got so goofy.

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Casting is currently at a fever pitch regarding the next great hope in the Young Adult film franchise arms race, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The most recent news we had about director Harald Zwart’s series-launcher is that Game of Thrones and Mad Men vets Lena Headey and Jared Harris had landed roles as two of the adult characters, and today comes news that two of the teenage roles that make up most of the primary cast have also been filled. The thrust of the City of Bones story, again, is that a girl named Clary Fray (Lily Collins) becomes suddenly involved in the hidden world of Shadowhunters (powerful beings who hunt demons right under our noses). The first Shadowhunter that she comes across is dreamboat Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), a troubled orphan who comes complete with a foster family. Said family is most importantly made up of two siblings who Jace lives and hunts demons with, Isabelle and Alec Lightwood. These are the oh-so-important roles that have now been filled.

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Kevin Durand and Robert Maillet

After the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, film executives all over Hollywood are presumably falling all over themselves trying to find the next series of young adult novels that could become a film series cash cow. Smart money has to be on the upcoming adaptations of Cassandra Clare’s ‘Mortal Instruments’ series of books, the first of which is called ‘City of Bones.’ They’ve got everything a young adult series needs: a protagonist with a vague destiny, supernatural shenanigans, monsters to be killed, a love triangle involving a bad boy and a nice guy; everything. Two of the main roles for the ‘City of Bones’ adaptation (just called The Mortal Instruments) have been filled for a while. Director Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid) has cast Mirror Mirror star Lily Collins as the protagonist, Clary Fray, a girl who finds that she has ties to a race of mystical demon hunters called Shadowhunters, and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland, the troubled and mysterious Shadowhunter who Clary develops a crush on. And now things seem to finally be picking up on the casting front, because Variety has a report that Zwart has started the process of filling the film’s villain roles.

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Over Under - Large

Despite the fact that we’re getting pretty close to its 75 year anniversary, The Wizard of Oz is just as recognized and celebrated today as it’s ever been, and we’ll probably still be showing it to our kids another 75 years from now. There’s good reason for that. Its music is gorgeous and iconic, its cinematography is ageless, and its production design and in-living-color presentation must have been something to see back in 1939. But, in the grand scheme of things, is this really a movie that’s so great that we should still be treating it with so much reverence? Or has watching The Wizard of Oz simply become a tradition we mindlessly follow, like always eating a turkey on Thanksgiving or puking up green food coloring on St Patrick’s Day? Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film Hook spins off of a legendary story, continues the tale of a handful of legendary characters, and was brought to us by maybe the most legendary director there’s ever been… but to say that it isn’t considered a legendary movie would be a pretty big understatement. It’s got a tone right in line with the best of Spielberg’s work, and it’s photographed just as beautifully as anything else he’s done, but ever since its release it has largely been considered a trifle, or even an annoyance. Critics have called Hook full of bad humor, overstuffed with exposition, and devoid of any of the magic of the original Peter Pan tale. Many consider it to be […]

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Director Tomas Alfredson first caught Hollywood’s attention due to the worldwide success of his Swedish language horror film Let The Right One In. And he inched even closer to global notoriety by making Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with the UK based company Studio Canal and a bevy of Britain’s top acting talent. One would think that whatever the director is doing next would be a much-hyped affair, but mum has been the word up until this point as to what Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor follow-up is going to be. Some news out of Sweden might soon put an end to everyone’s speculations, however. Apparently Alfredson has acquired the rights to Astrid Lindgren’s novel “The Brothers Lionheart,” with the intentions of turning it into a feature film. Lindgren, who many people know as the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, first published “The Brothers Lionheart” back in 1973. It’s a fantastical tale about a couple of brothers named Jonatan and Karl who end up having adventures in a adventure-ridden afterlife realm called Nangiyala. Despite the fact that it deals with death and illness and is generally pitch black material as far as a children’s story goes, “The Brothers Lionheart” has been successful all over the world, and has even already spawned a 1977 Swedish film that was directed by Olle Helbom.

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Immortals Director Tarsem Singh

The last few days have been pretty huge for director Tarsem Singh. First, his latest feature Immortals opened up to less-than-stellar to fairly middling reviews. Then he shocked the cinematic world with the completely ridiculous trailer for his next film Mirror, Mirror. And finally, he’s capped off his week by becoming attached to another film, this one called Killing on Carnival Row. According to Deadline Shahkot, Killing on Carnival Row was the first big spec script sale made by Travis Beacham, who has gone on to write things like Clash of the Titans and the upcoming Pacific Rim, but who never saw his first effort get produced. Killing on Carnival Row is described as a noir fantasy thriller set in a future city that resembles 18th century London much more than any sort of future city we usually imagine. Guillermo Del Toro was circling the project for a while, but like with most things Guillermo Del Toro, that didn’t end up working out. All of that previous stalling seems to be over though, because the producers putting this project together have said they now have studio backing, though they won’t reveal from who. And in Singh they feel like they’ve finally found their man to direct.

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When The Lord of the Rings trilogy hit theaters and became a money-making juggernaut at the beginning of the last decade, a rash of fantasy epics soon followed, trying to ride the coattails. None of them were really up to the task of cashing in on the Rings craze though, unless you count Harry Potter, which was going on at the same time and was mostly its own thing. These days, HBO has a popular show called Game of Thrones, which is also based off of a series of fantasy novels and, at first glance, looks a lot like The Lord of the Rings, and the Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit is on its way as well, so it’s looking like we might see another fantasy epic craze hit theaters soon. If that’s the case, then Snow White and the Huntsman is the first of the bunch. This movie isn’t just part of a potential spate of fantasy movies though, it’s also one of a number of Snow White movies that will be hitting theaters in the coming years. And it has the honor of being the first out of that group. So, when all is said and done, what will this film be remembered as? Another attempted Lord of the Rings copycat or the creator of the Snow White craze? After seeing the first trailer for the film, I would guess copycat. If you listen to the dialogue, you can tell that this is a telling of […]

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