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Studio coffee run: SPIRIT, THOR, the return of…

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§ Hero Complex has a long, detailed, fascinating article on a long ago attempt by Pixar’s John Lasseter to make THE SPIRIT:

But if the world had turned a little differently, if fate had been a little kinder, a “Spirit” feature film would have debuted in the 1980s that would not only have been revolutionary but — those of us involved in it were convinced — a huge hit, possibly the first $100 million-grossing animated feature. And the futures of such filmmakers as Brad Bird, Gary Kurtz, John Musker and John Lasseter might have taken alternative paths.


§ Splash Page reminds us that Kenneth Branagh is making a THOR movie!:

He continued excitedly, “There’s science fiction and science fact and fantasy all woven into one. It’s based on Norse legends which Marvel sort of raided in a brilliant way.

So who will play Branagh’s hero? Asked about the rumors of Kevin McKidd being up for the role, the director waved it off as premature speculation.

“There’s been lots of talk [about casting] — I sound like a politician — but we are too early at this stage. We’re getting the story and the visual effects together and all of that is very exciting. Someone sensational is going to play the part but it is early days.”


§ Io9 reminds us that SPEED RACER has become a whipping boy:

I understand that this summer’s big screen version of Speed Racer may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but I did think that those who saw it all admitted that the special effects were amazing… until I found out that the movie wasn’t on the short list for Oscar recognition in visual effects. The argument that, “well, there were a lot of other movies with great special effects this year, maybe Speed Racer wasn’t as worthy of recognition as those” loses all respectability when you see that Hancock and Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull are two of the fifteen films up for selection for the Oscar Short List. Can anyone out there really argue that Indiana Jones was more visually impressive than Speed Racer?


We predict vindication some day. Some day!

§ Speaking of vindication, or at least resurrection, against all odds, Steven Norrington is going to be allowed to make a movie again, after taking a five-year break following his last film, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. And surprise, it’s a comic book movie, namaely a reboot of THE CROW franchise:

For Norrington, “The Crow” deal marks the end of a long screen sabbatical. After making his breakthrough with the Marvel Comics hero “Blade,” Norrington took on a big-budget comic transfer with “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” Neither the director nor his star, Sean Connery, has made a film since.

Norrington said he felt demoralized by that experience, and the accomplished sculptor spent the next five years writing and working on his art. He made a deal to direct “Clash of the Titans” for Warner Bros., but left the project, he said, because he was “unable to excite Warner Bros. with my take, or influence the screenplay to any comfortable extent.” That pic goes into production early next year with Louis Leterrier at the helm.

  1. “but I did think that those who saw it all admitted that the special effects were amazing”

    Well, except they’re not. I’m impressed by the sheer volume of effects, but they didn’t read as anything. Every time the movie went into a full effects shot, my brain told me I was looking at some sort of Rorschach test rather than an image that was supposed to be anything.

    IMO and all that, naturally, but the effects on this movie didn’t do much for me.

  2. Look, it’s like this…..

    THE SPIRIT movie will be the next SPEED RACER movie. REGARDLESS of whether these are movies are good or bad, the INSANITY of dumping $100 or $200 million into properties that have a VERY narrow appeal to an ageing audience is a no-brainer ELIXIR FOR DISASTER. Anybody remember how THE ROCKETEER movie stiffed? And that was a very loyal adaptation to the material.

    So to do a SPIRIT movie that at once appeals to a very narrow and older comic book circle while simultaneously ALIENATING said circle by not being true to the source material….well….let’s just say that whatever studio made THE SPIRIT will be laying off people straight through 2009.

  3. Next week’s Time magazine has lists of top tens, and they include Speed Racer in their list of films as well as Iron Man. My own list can’t go beyond 5.

  4. If someone MUST give Norrington a directing job again (i.e., due to the fine-print of some Hellish pact), his “take” seems in perfect sync with most made-for-Sci-Fi-channel movies. Stick him there, but don’t let him anywhere near a real film, especially The Crow.

  5. Of course I am pumped about a Thor movie by a guy who really wants to instill a sense of myth into it,
    but,
    Beatster,
    you know, and I know, that this won’t be Goldlilocks’s first big screen appearance. no. Oh no.
    We know he first appeared as a cameo in that 1987 classic, THE ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.

  6. By the way, I was talking merely a commercial perspective, as much of WB’s profits on THE DARK KNIGHT went into offsetting SPEED RACER’s flopping.

    I personally want to rent SPEED RACER, which I’ve only heard great things about. But I think all us SPEED RACER fans are in the minority, as it was a cult cartoon show at best in this country….never gaining the vast commercial brand of a Superman or Spider-Man (Ditto for SPIRIT, which is doomed from inception).

    I think that if the makers of SPEED RACER were more level-headed and kept the budget really small, it would’ve been more profitable, but they were banking on the MATRIX brothers bringing boffo business and I think they were high on their own fumes on that one. However, from an artistic perspective, we, the fans, win getting a $200 million arthouse film based on a cartoon!!!! Hooray!

  7. SPEED RACER was superb. Period. Not just visually impressive or refreshingly funny. That too. But SPEED RACEER was great, GREAT film making. Everything clicked the right way, including the script, which was surprisingly poignant and to-the-point like some of the best PIXAR offers.

    I saddens me a lot that so much talent and effort sunk so spectacularly and so undeservedly at the box office.

  8. I guess everyone saw a different Speed Racer movie than me. It’s understandable, there are so many terrible movies, that people become desperate, and poor movies suddenly become good movies. There really is no accounting for taste. Check the link over at Aint It Cool to see six scenes from The Spirit movie. I’m pretty sure, if you liked Speed Racer, you will probably like the Spirit. What did you think of the Captain America movie or the Nick Fury movie? Pretty sweet I’m guessing.

  9. I say again, Stephen Norrington is a good director. One cannot blame only him for the painful experience that was “LXG”.

  10. If anything, I think Stephen Norrington was the one who was singlehandly responsible for having Peta Wilson’s movie career come to a complete & utter halt.

    What do you guys think about that?

    ~

    Coat

  11. Does anyone remember the 1987 tv movie of the Spirit that aired as a ABC movie of the week with starring Sam Jones and Nana Visitor?

    You’d think that someone at Lionsgate or Disney would rush that out on DVD in time for the movie release, for cripessake.

    ~

    Coat

  12. “If anything, I think Stephen Norrington was the one who was singlehandly responsible for having Peta Wilson’s movie career come to a complete & utter halt.

    What do you guys think about that?”

    I think Peta Wilson is responsible for Peta Wilson’s movie career coming to a complete halt (even though it really hasn’t; it just seems that way). LXG may be the highlight of her IMBD page except for those people who think La Femme Nikita: The Series was high quality television.

  13. There are so many Crow movies/new directions, that’s like giving him a direct to video film that happens to be in a theater.

    I’m usually not actively critical of other people’s stuff, but League, using the comic as source material or not, was a great premise that this guy just ruined beyond all hope of competency. As is evident by his movies, he should only be allowed to make late nineties style brooding movies where everyone spends all their time in dance clubs and there’s bad Kung Fu (because he’ll make a Baroque drama into it anyway). So, you know, like, the Crow franchise.

  14. Kevin McKidd is pretty inspired casting. Anyone who was in Rome needs a good career, IMO.

    I haven’t seen Speed Racer, but I think Time put it on their top ten list. Seems like a love it or hate it kind of thing.

  15. Shortly after the movie came out, Robinson was on a panel that year at San Diego about adapting comics to movies and he was not shy with his thoughts about his experiences, which were not all that pleasant.

  16. Fred – actuallly I do consider Le Femme Nikita to be high quality television – only for the hidden fact that it was a secretly a predecessor to “24” in terms of how television portrayed the delicate subject of terrorism before the days of 9/11.

    I have yet to view the last eight episodes of that series.

    ~

    Coat

  17. “Fred – actuallly I do consider Le Femme Nikita to be high quality television – only for the hidden fact that it was a secretly a predecessor to ’24’ ”

    I expected that you did, but my comment wasn’t a dig at you or other fans of that show. I just never got into it. I was mostly commenting on how fans of that show would have probably been hoping for great things from Peta Wilson once it ended, but instead they received LXG and all those other direct to video titles on her IMDB page (aside from Superman Returns).

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