The Cynical Optimist – 14/7/08



Moving sucks. The process of boxing up everything you own, which in my case isn’t much more than a few boxes of graphic novels, toys, video games and tons of DVDs, can be nerve-racking and utterly maddening. I recently moved from a small college town in Virginia to the sprawling metropolis that is Charlotte, North Carolina.

Growing up in a small town affords one many privileges – the overall absence of hardcore traffic, quiet surroundings and some wide open spaces to roam around in, but there are obviously many negatives. It’s boring and monotonous and there just aren’t that many things to see or do. Here in the big city, it’s quite different. There’s an infinite supply of restaurants and stores, and sprawling streets that leave me scatterbrained trying to traverse their snarled and twisted paths.

What does this have to do with you? Well, certainly being a writer for Moviehole and being in a city that has press screenings will provide visitors reviews of upcoming films before anyone else – so you’ve got that to look forward to. As far as everything else goes, I doubt you’ll see a difference in my column, except for maybe the occasional rant on traffic and car repair (as my car’s breaks are currently shot).

Okay, enough of this. I’ve got quite a few things to talk about this week so lets DO IT!

Requiem For a Robocop

The Hollywood Reporter claims that Darren Aronofsky is in talks to direct the remake for 1987’s classic film “Robocop.” Readers of my column have read my (cynical) thoughts on the “Robocop” remake, but hearing Aronofsky’s name attached gives me hope.

For those who aren’t familiar with Aronofsky, he’s the visionary behind the math thriller “Pi,” and more prominently known for his film adaptation of “Requiem for a Dream.” Aronofsky’s last film, “The Fountain,” starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, is one of my all-time favorite films – so I’m pretty optimistic in seeing what he could do with “Robocop.”

Peter Sciretta over at /Film has provided some interesting insight into the story, pointing out that Aronofsky is “scheduled to direct Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg in “The Fighter,” based on the real life story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward.” MGM’s hope was to have Robocop in theaters by 2010, according to the recent marketing materials, but Aronofsky might not be available.

On the short list of directors I’d like to see remake “Robocop,” Aronofsky would be right up at the top with Paul Verhoeven (director of the original) and Robert Rodriguez. Lets all keep our fingers crossed that “Robocop” gets the amount of talent and care that it deserves.

The Day the Earth Stood Still… again

1951’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” is one of my all-time favorite films. After seeing Spielberg’s 2005 “War of the Worlds,” I actually began writing my own treatment for a remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” but before I could even finish an outline news spread that Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) was directing an adaptation starring Keanu Reeves as the iconic Klaatu.

Initially I was quite excited about the project. Unlike a remake of “Robocop,” a new take on a film that’s 57 years old seems warranted, especially a classic like “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” I personally loved Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” and envisioned something very similar for this remake, until I read a draft of the script.

This screenplay, by David Scarpa, left me more than disappointed. Some spider-like machine that was more of an advance camera tripod replaced the iconic robot Gort. There seemed to be little in common with the classic film, but a new trailer has surfaced that has helped quell these fears and cynical thoughts of mine.

The original film, one of the more poignant and resonant science fiction films of all time, used a non-violent approach. It was a quiet, more somber film with a few instances of heavy action sequences. Klaatu visits Earth and sends a message to its inhabitants that they must change their ways – or else. He uses his robot Gort to demonstrate their power – but in this new trailer it seems things are much more over the top, with entire cityscapes and stadiums being destroyed by some unknown force.

Have Derrickson and Scarpa completely missed the mark with this new film? It’s hard to say – I feel like a lot of the original intentions are still in place, but instead of it being focused on the Cold War, it’s more aligned with our currently nuclear-lined wars and the threat of global warming (and our mistreatment to the planet).

Check out the trailer over at Apple, and let me know what you think.


I think I saw this the first time when it was called “Pathfinder,” right? No – how about “10,000 B.C.”? For the life of me I can’t figure out why people at other movie sites are calling the recently unveiled trailer for this film “must-watch” material.

Directed by Howard McCain, a relatively unknown director whose last project was a made-for-TV movie 10 years ago, “Outlander” stars Jim Caviezel, John Hurt and Ron Perlman. During the reign of the Vikings, Kainan (Caviezel), a man from a far-off world, crash lands on Earth, bringing with him an alien predator known as the Moorwen.

According to the film’s official synopsis, both man and monster are seeking revenge for violence committed against them, and Kainan leads an alliance to kill the Moorwen by fusing his advanced technology with the Viking’s Iron Age weaponry.

Cue the groans and forehead slaps. Is this actually happening? The trailer makes me cringe in a way I haven’t experienced since the 1999 adaptation of “Beowulf” starring Christopher Lambert. What happened to Caviezel’s career? He was JESUS for Christ’s sake. Now he’s playing a third-rate humanoid alien chasing dragons in Viking land?

If this film is good, I will gladly eat my words – but being as The Weinstein Co have yet to announce a U.S. release date, I seriously wonder if it will even get a wide release. Based solely off what I’ve seen in the trailer and on the poster, “Outlander” makes the Dolph Lundgren “Masters of the Universe” movie look like “The Shawshank Redemption.”

This looks like a Sci-Fi Channel original film that was made for about $15 bucks, as opposed to the typical $10 they’ve spent on such hits as “Boa Vs. Python,” “Mammoth” and the classic, “MegaSnake.”

Did You Know?

For years Guillermo del Toro considered “Hellboy” a dream project and had always wanted to cast Ron Perlman in the lead, but could never secure a budget or studio approval. After the massive success of Blade II (2002), del Toro was offered Blade: Trinity (2004) or Hellboy, and though he briefly considered trying to schedule both in, he chose Hellboy. By the way, a little known fact: Baby Hellboy, Sammael, Ivan the corpse, Train Driver and Kroenen were all voiced by Guillermo del Toro. – IMDB

Only days before the role of Batman was cast in “Batman Begins,” eight actors were asked to audition for the part. The actors were Christian Bale, Joshua Jackson, Eion Bailey, Hugh Dancy, Billy Crudup, Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill and Jake Gyllenhaal. While Bale won the part, Christopher Nolan liked Murphy’s audition so much, he cast him as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow. Strangely enough, Marilyn Manson was considered for the role of Crane. – IMDB


Be sure to go see Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” which just hit theaters. If you’ve read my review, you know I gave it 4.5 stars, and it’s not only my favorite movie of the summer so far, but one of the best films of 2008.

Trying to hang in there until “The Dark Knight” is released? Yeah, I hear ya. While you’re waiting, check out “Batman: Gotham Knight” now on DVD. It’s an anthology of six short films based in the Batman universe. It’s like “The Animatrix,” but with Scarecrow and Killer Croc – and how could you turn that down?