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ParaNorman Film Trailer

Posted by: Matthew Turner 10/08/2012 @ 15:17
Subject: Film

Total films seen so far this year: 268
Films seen in the last week: Jackpot (again), Offender, The Dinosaur Project, The Expendables 2, Step Up 4: Miami Heat, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, In The Dark Half, Barbara, The Bourne Legacy, I Against I, Tower Block

FILM OF THE WEEK: AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY


Superhero News: Ben Affleck and the Justice League of America

I was all set to write about the news (reported by Variety no less) that Ben Affleck was in talks to direct the Justice League of America movie, but the internet being what it is, that's already been denied by Affleck and his 'people'.

According to Deadline, Affleck was approached and shown the script, but said no, which is a shame, as he'd have been an interesting choice. As a lifelong Marvel fan, it's hard to remain unamused by the undignified scramble to get an Avengers-rivalling Justice League of America movie going, but this recent spatter of non-news is at least an indication that Warner Brothers are aiming high.

It's also interesting to note – according to Empire anyway – that the prevailing wisdom on the project is to push ahead with their own JLA franchise with all new actors rather than attempting to consolidate their existing franchises and have Bale as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern and so on. I hadn't been following the JLA news too closely up to now, so I wasn't aware that there was actually a script (by Will Beall), which Empire claim only Affleck has seen so far.

It's going to be very hard to actually get the project right, without blatantly ripping off The Avengers. A lot is going to depend on the casting, for one thing – particularly in the case of Batman and Superman. Still, that's part of the fun of superhero movies – all the fevered speculation about who's playing who, which villains will feature, will it be anything like the cartoons and so on.



Personally, I'd go down the TV-friendly route, cast Smallville's Tom Welling as Superman (we already know he can play the part) and fill out the rest of the cast with hot-from-TV faces, e.g. Jensen Ackles as Batman (he has the jaw), a decent TV wise-cracker for The Flash, Alison Brie as Wonder Woman...and...er...excuse me, I drifted off for a moment there.



Anyway, with Affleck turning the project down we're essentially back to square one. In the meantime, remember the golden rule and ignore any blog story that contains a question mark, e.g. “David Tennant to play the Hulk?” (an actual non-story). The answer to any story with a question mark is always “No”.

Films I Am Dying To See: ParaNorman

I was a huge fan of 2009's Coraline, so I'm excited to see ParaNorman, a similarly creepy-looking 3D animated adventure by the same production team. Set in the small New England town of Blithe Hollow, ParaNorman centres on a lonely young boy called Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who's exactly the person you'd cast if you were doing this live-action) who sees dead people, Sixth Sense-style.

When his town is attacked by the undead, following a centuries-old witch's curse, it's up to Norman to use his gift to save the day. The tantalising voice cast also includes Anna Kendrick as Norman's bitchy cheerleader sister, Casey Affleck as Norman's jock brother, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as school bully Alvin (probably not a part Mintz-Plasse would land in real life), Leslie Mann and Jeff Garlin as his parents (“He's probably up there playin' with his ouija or his orbs...”) and the likes of John Goodman and Bernard Hill as the townsfolk.



The trailer makes it look as if the film, like Coraline, is going for genuine scares and creepiness as well as big laughs and I'm excited to see if they can pull that off. Assuming the trailer hasn't blown all the film's best gags (unlikely in this case, but it happens) there are some excellent jokes on display – I particularly like the ringtone/hockey mask gag at the 2m25s mark, plus I'm a sucker for any film that includes an “I'd give it a few minutes in there, if I were you” joke. I'm sophisticated that way. Incidentally, animation fans can check out an interesting behind the scenes video here.

Hopefully the animators will be making full use of the 3D process to have hands reaching out of the screen, creatures flying at our heads and so on. At any rate, it opens here on September 14th, so not long to wait now.


Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):

Only two new entries this week, with Alison Klayman's documentary Ai
Weiwei: Never Sorry
and Step Up 4: Miami Heat both making it into the top ten. Oddly enough, I saw them back to back this week at national press screenings and both films, bizarrely, share a similar central theme, about the importance of protest art/performance. An entirely unintentional coincidence, obviously, but a rather delightful one nonetheless. In fact, I highly recommend seeing them as a double bill.

Also, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry has a cat that can open doors.

There now follows the usual plea to See Smaller Films First (#SSFF, etc), since the likes of Step Up 4 will be around for at least a couple of weeks yet, so if you are planning to see Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry then please see it this weekend, as smaller films desperately need your support.

Interview-wise, this week it's a veritable bonanza. We have exclusive interviews with Brave director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian; an exclusive interview with Brave star Kelly Macdonald; an exclusive interview with Brave co-stars Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd; an exclusive interview with Offender star Joe Cole; an exclusive interview with Matt Kane and Natasha Loring (Beaver Falls), stars of The Dinosaur Project; and an exclusive interview with Fernando Meirelles, director of 360. Elsewhere you can still read our semi-exclusive interview with Searching For Sugar Man director Malik Bendjelloul and the film's subject, Mexican-American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez; our exclusive interview with director William Friedkin for Killer Joe; an exclusive interview with Gina Gershon for Killer Joe; an exclusive interview with Bobcat Goldthwait and Joel Murray, director and star of God Bless America; our exclusive interview with Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, star of the magnificent A Royal Affair; and our exclusive interview with The Angels' Share director Ken Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty. Come back next week for an exclusive interview with Sean Hogan, writer-director of next week's The Devil's Business.

1. Searching For Sugar Man
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. Undefeated
4. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
5. The Dark Knight Rises
6. Magic Mike
7. The Amazing Spider-Man
8. Step Up 4: Miami Heat
9. The Flowers of War
10. Leave It On The Floor



DVD of the Week: Man on a Ledge (out now, online RRP price £10.99)

This week's DVD of the Week is does-what-it-says-on-the-tin thriller Man on a Ledge, directed by Asger Leth. Sam Worthington stars as Nick Cassidy, an ex-cop who's managed to escape from prison after serving a couple of years for supposedly stealing a giant diamond from jewel magnate David Englander (Ed Harris). Arriving in New York, Nick heads straight for the 21st floor of a building and positions himself on the ledge where he waits for the cops (Elizabeth Banks and Ed Burns) and the media to arrive before threatening to jump.

However, it soon becomes clear that this is all part of an elaborate plan involving Nick's brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his slinky girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez), who are busy breaking into a building just across the street and are in constant contact with Nick. But what are they up to? Worthington continues to be something of a charisma-free zone, but he's not required to do anything too emotionally taxing here and he turns in a decent performance as Nick. Fortunately, he's surrounded by a superb support cast – Banks is particularly good as his super-smart negotiator Mercer, while Harris provides a reliably hissable villain and Bell and the allergic-to-clothes Rodriguez (who strips down to lacey pink underwear during the heist for no reason whatsoever) generate strong chemistry as Joey and Angie.

 

Leth maintains a decent pace throughout and keeps a tight control on the drip-feed of plot information in order to keep the audience guessing longer than strictly necessary. The film also makes strong use of its vertiginous central location (as does the DVD cover) and Paul Cameron's glossy cinematography makes New York look impressively shiny, as if someone's nipped round and given everything a quick polish before the film-makers get there. The main problem is that even allowing for a certain suspension of disbelief, some of the plot contrivances are completely ridiculous, while the film is frequently derivative of several much better films and completely falls apart during the last 15 minutes, leading to a badly written, unintentionally laughable finale.

That said, this delivers solid 'B' movie thrills for the most part and is enjoyable enough in a forgettable Friday night thriller sort of way. Worth seeing if you like that sort of thing.

Extras on the DVD include: a short featurette on The Ledge, interviews with the crew; and a trailer with commentary by Elizabeth Banks (an excellent idea that ought to become a regular DVD fixture).


 

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