MGM

Good news for a once bankrupt and destitute MGM, their first new production since hitting skid row is on the way. And, perhaps poetically, their new production teams them up with a man who is also on his way back up in the business. The Machine has signed Vin Diesel to star and produce. At the beginning of the 2000s many people saw Diesel as the next king of the action movie genre, but his career never really worked out that way, and Diesel saw his star power fade a bit over the past ten years. With the release and huge success of this year’s Fast Five, Diesel has another chance to make it to the top of the mountain. Could this be the smash hit that will finally anoint him as Hollywood royalty? The Machine sounds like kind of a cross between The Terminator and The Iron Giant. Those are two things that I love, so if they can find a balance in tone, I would say that this project has some real potential. Diesel will play a government weapon that was built to look like a human being, and who has been deactivated for many years. As this film opens, the killer robot is found, reactivated, and befriended by a small child. Presumably a lot of bonding happens after that, then followed up by a big action sequence where the government comes to try and reacquire the machine. Kind of like E.T., only Diesel’s character will love steroids […]

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Last summer, word was that Brett Ratner was going to tackle the likes of Hercules by way of the Radical Comics title “Hercules: The Thracian Wars.” Instead, he signed on to direct Tower Heist, and Hercules was put on ice. Until now. It looks like Ratner is circling around a new attack at the property being launched by MGM instead of Universal. The sword and sandals phase we’re in has had mixed results both in quality and box office, but it definitely seems like a genre poised for a comeback. According to Vulture, Ryan Condal is working on the script, but the issue, as anyone who’s read the comic knows, is that Hercules here isn’t really Hercules at all. He’s a mercenary that barely resembles the mythological man-god. Thus, it will also most likely fit in with the trend of seeing characters given darker traits and storylines. Still, it’s unclear why Ratner isn’t remaking Hercules in New York with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I hear he’s available.

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Boiling Point

News came last week that the troubled MGM remake of the classic, chest poundingly patriotic Red Dawn was getting a political face lift with the invading force being digitally swapped from Chinese to North Korean. But what’s the big deal, as Jack Giroux always drunkenly says: all Asians are the same. Kidding. He’s generally sober. But really, MGM is indeed going through about a million dollars worth of post production changes to get rid off as many China references as they can and replace them with North Korean ones. Why? Well China has the second largest economy in the world these days (second to the good ol’ US of A) and a lot of American companies do a lot of work in China. China also is notorious for throwing fits when anyone mentions things like death buses, oppression of freedom and religion, guacamole, spies, and basically anything that points a spotlight on how big a dick their government can be. So, obviously, big companies don’t want to piss off China and risk losing that sweet, sweet source of income. With MGM’s decision to make the change, plenty of outlets and writers like Vince over at FilmDrunk have taken aim at MGM and more or less called them pussies for bowing down to as of now imaginary Chinese anger over the film. But you know what? I support the switch to North Korea, and here’s why.

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In what seems clearly like a move to appease a massive movie market overseas, MGM will be changing their invading army in the Red Dawn remake to North Korea instead of China. In perhaps the first time, art and commerce are in agreement. Think about it. Did China ever make sense anyway? The reason the USSR was so effective in the 80s original was because of decades of Cold War hostility that seeped into the popular response. Do you really care about China? Are you honestly afraid of them? Of course not. Now how about North Korea? Exactly. The United States isn’t engaged in a Cold War right now, and using an enemy from a Hot War is far, far too realistically horrifying for a mainstream action film featuring teens. For example, Al Qaeda invading would be a different movie entirely. The LA Times gets into the nitty gritty on why the decision was made, but as far as the artistic side of the movie, this seems like a smart move that should have been made a long time ago. Sure, China is communistic just like the Soviets, but popular culture doesn’t particular care anymore. Kim Jong-il makes for a much better boogeyman, even if he did invent the apple and write every major work of fiction ever.

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When do they get started? When some poor schmuck volunteers. Fortunately, that schmuck – in the form of Elite Squad director Jose Padilha – has signed up for the job to direct the reboot of Robocop. Is there a better choice out there? Probably not. For one, Padilha is almost completely unknown to US audiences, and if the studios are going to keep forcing us to revisit the icons of our past, they might as well introduce us to the talent of the future while they’re at it. The project could give some great exposure to a worthy director. For two, Elite Squad and its follow-up are incredible movies that use violent action as less of a plot device and more of a calling card. Essentially, the logic of why MGM chose Padilha (even with names like Robert Rodriguez floating around) is a hell of a lot clearer than why, say, the guy who directed that Justin Bieber concert is now directing G.I. Joe 2. This is optimistic news. Although it will be light years different than Darren Aronofsky’s vision, Padilha is a talent that demands to be seen, and this project is a great way to showcase his particular set of directing skills. Let’s see if they can get this monster to work. [Heat Vision]

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New updates abound for the troubled pre-production of the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise. For a while work on the film had come to a standstill when its studio, MGM, was forced into bankruptcy. But recently, MGM got a bunch of their financial woes sorted out, acquired some new leadership, and the green light on more Bond seemed to be glowing. The only problem was that MGM didn’t have the resources to distribute the film themselves, so they had to find another studio to sign on to handle the distribution duties. Enter Sony. Sony was the studio with the rights to Bond 21 and 22, which ended up being Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Before these productions we were still in the Pierce Brosnan era of Bond, and while that started pretty strong the petals had come off the rose a bit. After decades of James Bond being a dark haired gent that had over the top, cartoony adventures, Sony took a big risk by pushing fair-haired Daniel Craig into the Bond role and changing the look and feel of the series to something more grounded and real. And they spent a lot of money promoting the changeover. That’s a lot of time, effort, and money put into a franchise that got handed over to MGM. Sony didn’t like this, Sony wanted back in. And getting the distribution rights to Bond 23 was their ticket to doing so. But there were several other studios vying for that […]

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Javier Bardem Bond

Javier Bardem is now an Oscar-nominated actor who is every bit as in-demand as after his career was launched in earnest by a cattle gun in No Country. However, instead of stories about him being cast, it’s all stories about the roles he’s being offered. Last week it was the massive commitment to playing the lead for The Dark Tower franchise – which comes with something like three movies, a television movie, a radio play and several mall appearances. Today, Deadline Bluthton is announcing that Bardem has been offered a leading role for Bond 23. The phrase “leading” may mean he won’t be playing a Bond girl (in a seriously progressive chapter in the character’s life), so it’s far more likely that MGM wants him as a villain. Perhaps with a cattle gun. There’s no denying he’s a great choice (unless they shave his head and give him a cat to stroke), so now it’s a question of whether he’ll take the gig or not. Fingers crossed that he does, because the prospect of Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem staring eye to eye before beating the living daylights out of each other has me waiting in a theater seat in anticipation already.

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MGM’s financial woes did a number on a handful of films that audiences were truly looking forward to, and with The Hobbit coming together so nicely (and yet, mostly without MGM), it seems as if the time is right for the next Bond installment to start heading down the pre-production path again. The Hollywood Reporter has reported in the barest sense possible that Daniel Craig will return as James Bond for the 23rd film, directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, and written by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade alongside Academy Award nominee John Logan. The movie will shoot later this year, and attempt to toast martini glasses on November 9, 2012 for a release in everyone’s neck of the woods. All I can say is, it’s about time. Sam Mendes is an amazing talent, and his version of the spy is sure to be something intimate and heartbreaking. Of course, we’ll be planning a list of our favorite twenty-thirdquels in anticipation.

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Like a wet dog clamoring out of a bath it didn’t want, MGM is still shaking off the slightly soapy remnants of its bankruptcy. The collaboration born of necessity between MGM and Warners seems like a far cry from 2007 when New Line and MGM were co-financing with Fox handling distribution to the world outside of North America. But here we are. Warners is officially handling world-wide distribution for The Hobbit films. The good news is that the bumpy road to get to the bumpy road of filmmaking is over, and the cameras can roll. The video game arm of Warners, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, also has the rights to develop a video game based on the property.

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Last November seems like decades ago at this point, especially in the business life of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. A little over a year ago, they were trying to sell themselves on the street to the highest bidder. Now, they’ve entered into bankruptcy with a court-approved plan in place, and they’ve raised $500 million to finance their return to greatness. The press release doesn’t mention specific films, but the abandoned slate (of in-development and ready-for-release films) includes the next Bond entry, Red Dawn, Jeepers Creepers 3, the animated Bunyan and Babe, Biblical biopic Mary Mother of Christ, and continued partnerships for the Hobbit films, The Matarese Circle, and The Cabin in the Woods. The big question is how MGM plans to spend that cash. It seems like a huge amount, but The Hobbit will eat up a decent chunk of it for second breakfast, and Bond 23 will most likely make a decent divot, too. MGM might essentially be gambling a fragile fresh start on two films.

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It was one of those things that completely exploded without any noise. The Sun ran a story claiming that Martin Freeman had to turn down an offer to play Bilbo Baggins for The Hobbit because of a scheduling conflict with a BBC show about Sherlock Holmes. Now, the word is out that New Line and MGM have returned to the actor with a proposed schedule that would allow him to do both. Letting the thought of missing out on millions of dollars, a chance to work with Peter Jackson and the opportunity of creating an iconic role slip away for a moment – the big news here is that Freeman might actually get to step into the hairy feet of Bilbo. There’s quite possibly no better actor for the gig. That is, if the movies ever actually get made. [EW]

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Tommy (Gene Kelly) and Jeff (Van Johnson) are grouse hunting in the hills when a fog lifts to reveal a sleepy little hamlet just a few hundred paces from where they are hopelessly lost. They decide to visit, but when Tommy meets Fiona (Cyd Charisse), he wants to stay despite the strange behavior of the townsfolk and the secret that they seem to be hiding.

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And it won’t be at one far away either. MGM’s troubles have affected a ton of movies so far, and Red Dawn is just the latest, and it might not be the last. Doesn’t anyone want to buy that damned roaring lion logo?

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Hot Tub Time Machine Review

There are two very excellent reasons why you should be interested in the Hot Tub Time Machine soundtrack. Check ‘em out inside.

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All month long we celebrate Best Picture Nominees that didn’t win. This week, we take a look at the Avatar of its time.

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MGM chairperson Mary Parent needs something big to resurrect the once-great studio that is now mere days from imploding. It has to be big, steely and it must be in 3D! Of course, this doesn’t jive with everyone.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we avoid getting hit by a volcano. By. That. Much.

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mgm-header

While driving around your neighborhood in two weeks or so, you might be drawn in by the allure of a poster board sign pointing you in the direction of a nearby garage sale where you can get a bag of clothes for $1, a VHS of Zeus and Roxanne for $1, and MGM for a negotiable price.

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craig_bond_header

Our good friends over at We Are Movie Geeks have what could very well be a very big scoop this evening, assuming of course, that it turns out to be true.

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Fame

The ‘Fame’ remake owes a lot more to ‘High School Musical’ and other films of its ilk than the 1980 original.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B


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