We'll soon find out as audiences take in “The Lone Ranger,” the big-screen adaptation of the 1949 TV series which debuted July 3 and stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer of “The Social Network.” The characters in the TV series originally appeared on a radio show, circa 1933, and also appeared in a series of films later in the 1930s. Even later films with the characters included 1956’s “The Lone Ranger” and 1958’s “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold,” both of which starred the lead actors from the TV series, Clayton Moore (who portrayed the titular Lone Ranger) and Jay Silverheels (who took on the role of Tonto). A 1981 film titled “The Legend of the Lone Ranger” had different actors portray the characters.
But even Verbinski says that pop culture had moved on past the Lone Ranger when he was growing up.
“I grew up in the '70s, so it was Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah and not so much the Lone Ranger,” Verbinski said during a recent panel discussion led by Yahoo moderator Ben Lyons. During the panel, Verbinski, Depp, Hammer, and Bruckheimer answered questions from Internet users.
And Verbinski says he wanted to put a twist on the story that some feel they know so well.
“We're telling it from Tonto's perspective,” the director said of his film. “He's our way into this story. You've all heard this story, but you've never heard it from the guy who was there.”
Depp said he found Tonto fascinating when he was younger and a fan of the TV series.
“When I watched the show, I just didn't understand why Tonto was the sidekick,” he said.
The actor said he was also sensitive to the troubled history of Native Americans when he took on the role of the Lone Ranger’s friend.
“The goal was to, in my own small way, right the many wrongs that have been done to those people,” Depp said.
The film has already attracted attention for its large budget and the many stunts Hammer and Depp perform in the trailers. Hammer said he knew how to ride a horse before the film, but he encountered some new challenges during “Ranger.”
“I've never ridden a moving horse on top of a train or through a bank before, so that was new,” the actor said.
Depp also cited riding a horse when asked what his biggest challenge on the film was.
“The most difficult thing was staying alive when you're on a horse that's moving at high speeds,” he said. The actor called “Ranger” the most dangerous movie he’d ever worked on.
Verbinski said so many things went wrong during the film that watching the movie now is “a sense memory of pain.”
“It was the hardest film I've ever been on,” he said. “It was absolutely nuts. The train never worked.”
Three years ago, the animated movie featuring Steve Carell’s grumpy but warm-hearted villain Gru, “Despicable Me,” conquered the summer with a staggering box-office gross. Can the movie’s sequel do it again?
In the first film, Gru, who yearns to be respected as an evildoer but can never seem to make his crimes go correctly, adopted three girls whom he planned to use against a fellow supervillain, only to find his heart melted by the children who were just looking for a family. In the sequel, which came out July 3, Gru is approached by the Anti-Villain League, who ask him to work for them and help take down someone dangerous. When Gru finally agrees, sparks fly between him and an Anti-Villain League agent, Lucy (Kristen Wiig).
In addition to Carell and Wiig returning (Wiig actually voiced a different character in the first film), the three actresses who play Gru’s daughters, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Elsie Kate Fisher, are all back for the sequel. “Law & Order” actor Benjamin Bratt voices a new villain, while “Ruby Sparks” actor Steve Coogan plays the head of the Anti-Villain League. Bratt replaced actor Al Pacino after Pacino left the project.
Reviews so far have been mixed. Mark Kermode of The Observer called it “funnier... than its predecessor” and said he “laughed [his] way through pretty much the entire film.”
“The real joy, however, is in the increased role of the goggle-eyed Minions,” Kermode wrote, calling them “comedy gold."
Forbes writer Scott Mendelson, however, was less impressed, running his review with the headline “Despicable Me 2 is despicably generic.”
“The first act of Despicable Me 2 is so winning and engaging that it’s almost a tragedy how the rest of the film falls into bargain basement formula,” he wrote.
Entertainment Weekly writer Owen Gleiberman agreed, giving the film a C grade.
“In the surprisingly toothless sequel, [Gru] has been neutered into a boring nice guy,” he wrote. “Adults will just regret the way that Despicable Me 2 betrays the original film’s devotion to bad-guy gaiety.”
Langston, a street-smart black teen from Baltimore, knows little to nothing about his grandparents, who have never been a part of his life (having fallen-out with his single-mom some years before). Economic hardship results in Langston and his mom being evicted from their home, so the former ends up journeying to New York to spend the Christmas holiday season with his estranged grandfather and his wife.
It doesn’t take so long for Langston to buckle under the strict rules imposted by his grandpa (who is a reverend), which eventually leads the frustrated young man to attempt and flee back to Baltimore. However, along the way, Langston makes new friends who – along with some divine intervention – teach him vital lessons about family, faith, and healing from the past, as illustrated through the soulful music and story of the Black Nativity.
American R&B recording artist and actor Jacob O’Neal Latimer Jr. plays Langston in the film Black Nativity, which is based on the stage musical created by the 20th century black culture innovator, Langston Hughes. The film’s all-black primary cast includes Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker (The Butler), Angela Bassett (Olympus Has Fallen), Tyrese Gibson (Fast & Furious 6), Mary J. Blige (Rock of Ages) and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls).
The Black Nativity teaser trailer is here, and it provides a sneak peek at the film’s cast – with an emphasis on (no surprise) Latimer and Hudson – performing original songs and tweaked renditions of staple Christmas carols. It seems an interesting mix of gospel and R&B, but we’ll see how musical purists feel about this cinematic interpretation of Hughes’ show. At the least, Black Nativity‘s clean visual design and standard vocal recording approach ought to be less divisive than director Tom Hooper’s use of cinéma vérité techniques on Les Misérables.
Black Nativity was adapted for the big screen and directed by Kasi Lemmons, the actress/writer/director whose filmmaking body of work includes the Southern period drama Eve’s Bayou and true-story based Talk to Me. Both of those movies tend to be cited as being underrated by the online film critic/blogger community, so perhaps Black Nativity will be the project that brings Lemmons more attention and the wider acclaim that many feel she deserves.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
Reality singing star Susan Boyle’s Scotland tour, her first-ever solo concert series, has already sold out almost all of its tickets.
Boyle, who received global attention when a video of her singing the Les Misérables song “I Dreamed A Dream” on the TV show “Britain’s Got Talent” hit YouTube, won second place on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009 and has released four albums, with her most recent, titled “Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage,” having been released last November.
Boyle’s Scotland tour will last seven nights and will include stops in the Highlands, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. Concert organizers told the Scotsman that 98 percent of the tickets for the tour had already been sold as of 4:24 p.m. Scotland time.
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“Audiences can expect something from her past four albums, and something different. There will be a complete range of music, fro Tina Turner to Adele,” an unnamed spokesperson for Boyle told the Scotsman. “This tour is her way of thanking the Scottish public for their support since Britain’s Got Talent. They have been unbelievable.”
Boyle’s debut album, “I Dreamed A Dream,” became the fastest-selling album of all time in Britain. The singer published an autobiography titled “The Woman I Was Born To Be” in 2010 and a musical, titled “I Dreamed A Dream,” was created based on the book. “Dream” debuted in Newcastle in March 2012 and toured during that year. Elaine C. Smith, who co-wrote the script of the show, starred as Boyle and the production was mostly positively reviewed in the UK.
The singer is also making her acting debut with a film set in England in the late nineteenth century titled “The Christmas Candle,” which also stars “Les Misérables” actress Samantha Barks. John Stephenson is directing the film and James Cosmo and John Hannah are co-starring.
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Six months have passed since the events of the Dexter season 7 finale, revealing that, in spite of what previously occurred, Dexter has been able find solace in the peace that Debra’s forced bloodshed has provided him. No longer seen as the prime suspect for the Bay Harbor Butcher, or the focus of desire for a femme fatale, Dexter has taken these months to put his life in order, to once again be happy. For Dexter, it’s as if things couldn’t be any better; Deb, on the other hand, isn’t holding up so well.
As Dexter has been enjoying his life, Deb, instead, made the decision to quit the force and join a private investigation firm; a step up from her previous position, no doubt, but one that she uses to punish herself for what she’s done. Instead of taking on the type of high-profile cases a former Lieutenant in the private sector should, it’s the “down and dirty” ones that she feels most comfortable immersing herself in. For Deb, it’s simply about mentally surviving what she has done and, right now, numbing the pain is the best that she can do.
Deb and Dexter’s relationship, too, has reached its breaking point, forcing Deb to realize that Dexter’s unapologetic thirst for the blood reaches far beyond what she could ever imagine, to include the loss of any innocents who may get in the way. And even though Deb is aware that James Doakes fell at the hand Dexter, to keep his secret safe, it was she who had the choice, who decided to choose Dexter’s life over LaGuerta’s. The loss of a criminal’s life is one thing, while the loss of an innocent one is completely different – but to Dexter, they’re one in the same; just another mess to clean up, so to speak.
But Dexter’s life isn’t as perfect as he believes, and it’s Debra who has been able to touch the heart of the monster, forcing him to step outside his sociopathic lifestyle in an attempt to feel for, to understand, to “fix” the sister he inadvertently and unintentionally betrayed. As a serial killer mastermind, Dexter is self-sufficient and almost perfect, and it’s likely that he could very well thrive and survive if left alone. But Dexter isn’t alone – not anymore.
Dexter’s interest in human relationships has been a part of the series from the beginning, but now, with his secret out there, with Harrison growing up, with Deb taking on an emotional weight she was never prepared for, he wants to – and must – integrate himself in aspects of humanity that, up until this point, he simply observed. Like with most things, however, this must be learned, not forced, and Dexter still stumbles when he attempts to be “normal,” even if his heart is in the right place.
Dexter’s weakness has been and always will be the human relationship, and as Dexter attempts to force Deb to understand that murdering LaGuerta is “all right,” to provide her with the same logic that he uses to sleep at night, he continues to reveal more and more of his broken personality, showing her what truly lies deep within his tainted soul. What’s more, each and every attempt that Dexter makes at mimicking normality opens himself up to being caught, as Dexter was built for one thing and one thing only: to kill. Anything outside of that is, as Harry continuously warns him, a mistake. So which path will Dexter choose?
Perhaps the addition of Evelyn Vogel, who is revealed to have played a part in Dexter’s origins, will allow him to explore all that went in to creating the murderous machine that he finds comfort in. But still, even with knowledge of the past, Dexter is going to have to make a decision for himself and his future: Will he continue on his path of taking lives, fulfilling the destiny that his father, Harry, laid out for him? Or will he shed his bloody apron and continue to reach for those emotional bonds he yearns for, filling his world with life instead of death? At this point, is it even possible to change? Does anyone – including Harry – want him to change?
For many years, Dexter has excelled at the job he was given, to kill, but throughout, he has continuously reached beyond the murderous binds that tie him, obtaining things he could have never imagined possible. And though it’s Dexter’s past that most certainly defines him, it’s the decisions that he makes now, for his future, for his family, that will reveal the true strength of the man behind mask.
Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.
Lucy Lawless is coming to “Chicago.”
Lawless, who starred in a Broadway revival of "Grease" and is best remembered for her starring role as Xena the Warrior Princess on the 1995 show of the same name, will star as one of the lead characters in the Kander and Ebb musical. The show will run for three days at the Hollywood Bowl later this month.
“I could not believe that they had cast Lucy from New Zealand in this iconic musical, a classical American art form, on a hallowed stage like the Hollywood Bowl and they let me [be involved],” Lawless told Fairfax New Zealand News.
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Lawless will portray Matron “Mama” Morton, a prison matron who accepts bribes from those in the jail. "Les Miserables" actress Samantha Barks will play criminal Velma Kelly, while Stephen Moyer of “True Blood” will be portraying the amoral lawyer Billy Flynn and Drew Carey of “The Price Is Right” will be playing dimwitted Amos, husband of the show’s protagonist, Roxie Hart. The show will run from July 26 to July 28 and will be directed by actress Brooke Shields, who played Roxie Hart in the show on Broadway in 2005. Lawless and Shields both starred in the 1994 Broadway revival of "Grease," both playing the role of Betty Rizzo at different points in the production.
Lawless was seen most recently on the NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” where she guest-starred as Diane Lewis, a love interest for Nick Offerman’s character Ron Swanson, and the 2010 series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" as well as the show's spin-offs.
“Chicago” premiered on Broadway in 1975 and was famously choreographed by Bob Fosse. The best-known adaptation of the musical “Chicago” is the 2002 film version, which won Best Picture for the year and a Best Supporting Actress statuette for actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. Renee Zellweger played Roxie Hart, a woman who kills her boyfriend and goes to jail, where she discovers that being a female criminal makes you a celebrity in 1920s Chicago. Zeta-Jones played Velma Kelly, a fellow famous figure who is accused of killing her husband and sister, while Richard Gere played Billy Flynn, Queen Latifah took on the role of Mama Morton, and John C. Reilly played husband Amos.
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After seventeen years of rumors, speculation, and false starts, director Roland Emmerich appears to finally have some traction for the long-awaited Independence Day follow-up, tentatively titled ID Forever. If all goes according to plan, the sequel will actually be comprised of two feature length films – Part I and Part II – with the first installment tentatively scheduled for July 3rd, 2015. The filmmaker has been busy promoting his soon-to-be-released thriller White House Down, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, which sees a hostile force take control of the White House and put the President’s life in jeopardy (not to be confused with Olympus Has Fallen).
Unsurprisingly, ID Forever has been a regular topic of conversation for Emmerich on the White House Down press tour and today we’ve got good news for fans of patriotic speeches and outer space cigar smoking – as the director has confirmed that both Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman are expected to return for the sequel(s).
Speaking to Movies.com in a New York City Q&A, Emmerich asserted that the actors, who played fan-favorite cable guy/computer hacker, David Levinson, and fighter pilot/President, Thomas J. Whitmore, are two returning faces set for ID Forever. As we’ve previously reported, the sequel’s cast is expected to be a mix of familiar franchise participants and entirely new characters – roughly a 50/50 blend for the main cast. Previously, Goldblum and Pullman have expressed interest in the project, but this is the first report suggesting that Emmerich has included them in his plans for the film – and that he expects they’ll reprise the roles. That said, the director does not outright say the actors have signed contracts – meaning that, until we hear official confirmations, it’s still possible one or both of the characters might not make it into the final film.
Regardless, the most notable omission to the ID Forever crew will be Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller - who is not expected to return. In the new interview, Emmerich asserts that they simply cannot afford the actor but the filmmaker was quick to clarify that Smith has not yet read the final script and that a Hiller cameo is still possible – if for no other reason than to “pass the torch” to new cast members.
Regardless of how viewers might feel about Smith these days (considering the amount of backlash aimed at After Earth), Hiller was a fan-favorite character responsible for many of the best (and most memorable) moments in Independence Day. As a result, a cameo by the actor would be a nice way to close-out the Hiller storyline – without requiring the production to front a huge salary.
That said, if Smith opts to pass on Emmerich’s cameo ideas, there are still plenty of ways for the filmmaker to explain Hiller’s absence - especially since early plot details suggest the movie will take place in real time, 20-25 years after the original alien invasion. That time jump (made possible by complicated space travel/wormhole physics) should also help provide Goldblum and Pullman with fun material for their characters – since they’ll be playing much older versions of Levinson and Whitmore.
Even at the most basic level, a story about people who survived the first alien attack and then spent the next 20 years (possibly) preparing for a second wave is intriguing – even before you consider the continued personal stories that will be included. For example: President Whitmore should no longer be President and his young daughter, Patricia (played by Arrested Development‘s Mae Whitman), will be in her twenties. Similarly, will Emmerich bring back Margaret Colin to reprise her role as Levinson’s wife, Constance Spano? If so, it’s likely the pair could have decided to have their own children in the subsequent two decades.
Until we know more, let’s all keep our fingers crossed that – since Goldblum is back - Levinson’s father, Julius (portrayed by Judd Hirsch), will also make an appearance.
The Movies.com interview also (casually) suggests that Emmerich is still interested in a Stargate sequel, and that it might be next on the filmmaker’s schedule after ID Forever Part I and II. However, that appears to only be speculation at this point – as Emmerich collaborator Dean Devlin already mentioned they were interested in returning to the Stargate franchise in the future. As a result, Emmerich’s comment is merely confirmation that the pair could return to their other beloved sci-fi property at some point.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
It’s taken 17 years, but Fox has at last dated Independence Day 2 to hit theaters during (when else?) the Fourth of July holiday frame in 2015. The sequel will pick up in real-time, some twenty years after the first movie. However, co-writers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich (the latter is returning to direct) have revealed that ID4-2 takes place in an alternate present-day reality, where humanity has spent the last two decades harvesting the alien technology featured in the first movie.
Cast-wise, Independence Day 2 is expected to bring back characters from the first film – like former U.S. president Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and MIT graduate-turned cable repairman Dave Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) – but Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) won’t be among them. Similarly, the cast will be half new characters, some of whom may become more prominently featured in a third installment (assuming the first sequel is a satisfactory box office hit).
Devlin and Emmerich had mapped out the ID4 sequel as a two-part narrative arch, under the working title ID Forever Part I & II. The latter has informed Collider that “I think [Fox] decided to only do one first” for the time being, and has set James Vanderbilt (the writer for Emmerich’s White House Down) to polish off the script.
That’s understandable, given that Emmerich’s disaster blockbuster formula isn’t so fresh nowadays (following ID4, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012), and the self-contained nature of ID4 gives all the more reason to wonder if demand for a sequel is so high after many years. Not to mention, the number of alien films released in recent years – a handful of which proved to be mediocre or worse – make it harder to get enthused about yet another blockbuster that feature extraterrestrials in an apocalyptic scenario (the end-of-the-world sub-genre is, likewise, starting to feel over-saturated at this point).
As for Smith’s lack of involvement, Emmerich told the NY Daily News:
“Will Smith can not come back because he’s too expensive, but he’d also be too much of a marquee name. It would be too much. We have like maybe half of the people that you know would know from the first film (in the script) and the other half people who are new.”
What’s funny is that Smith has made it known that he doesn’t want to turn into “the sequel guy,” and yet many of his oft-rumored upcoming projects are followups to his previous tentpole successes (Bad Boys 3, Hancock 2, I Am Legend 2, etc.). While M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth – which stars Will and his son Jaden – has performed below expectations, the sci-fi film has still managed to take in $172 million worldwide; meaning, the ex-Fresh Prince’s ability to get projects green-lit probably won’t take that big a hit (and it won’t change his mind about not becoming the go-to guy for sequels).
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
Another American is coming to “Downton Abbey.”
“The Ides of March” actor Paul Giamatti will be appearing in the smash-hit British drama as Harold Levinson, brother of American countess Cora. The brother character has been discussed during the series by Cora and their mother (Shirley Maclaine), but so far had remained offscreen.
Harold is “free-spirited,” Carnival Films managing director and “Downton” executive producer Gareth Neame said in a statement, and that during the finale of the upcoming season, he and Maclaine will “upset the Granthams’ apple cart.”
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“We can't wait to see him work alongside Shirley Maclaine,” Neame said.
The show centers on the lives of a British aristocratic family, the Crawleys, and the drama occurring between the family’s servants. So far, the family has weathered World War I and the social upheaval of the 1920s.
And (spoiler alert for season three) “Downton” shocked fans with its most recent season finale, which aired on Christmas Day in the UK, when the episode included the demise of the romantic lead, Matthew Crawley, who was married to the Crawley family’s oldest daughter.
Giamatti starred to critical acclaim in the HBO miniseries “John Adams” as the title character, a role for which he received an Emmy Award. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 2005 film “Cinderella Man” and was one of the two male leads in the well-received 2004 film “Sideways.”
He will portray Friar Laurence in the upcoming adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” and will play the Spider-Man villain the Rhino in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” He will also appear as part of the star-studded cast of the film “Saving Mr. Banks,” in which Emma Thompson will play “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks will portray Walt Disney.
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Last night, tightrope walker Nik Wallenda crossed a 1,400-foot wide channel of the Grand Canyon in just under 23 minutes, a stunt that was viewable online and through the Discovery Channel. The tightrope walk, which stretched over a distance long as four football fields and 1,500 feet above the canyon floor, was watched by many, including celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Piers Morgan. Two of our interns, Colby Bermel and Casey Lee, watched it live. Here's what they thought.
Colby Bermel: Casey, I thought this was a really cool experience overall. Nik Wallenda obviously did something really bold, and it was fun – is that the right word? – to watch him walk on the wire from all the different camera angles.
Casey Lee: It was amazing! I feel like we hardly get to see dangerous stunts pulled off anymore, with all the waivers you have to sign for everything these days. But this was great entertainment! Of course, I’m only saying that now because I know he got across OK.
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Colby: Yeah, when he walked across Niagara Falls last year, he had to be cabled in at the last minute. But just to clarify for our readers, he was NOT hooked in to anything when crossing the Grand Canyon at a height that's the equivalent of the Empire State Building! Yowza! And this was all live – but there was a ten-second delay, probably in case anything did happen.
Casey: He crossed the Niagara Falls, too?! Kudos to this guy, but I think he might be a little bit crazy. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t hooked up to anything. The way his shirt was billowing, it must have been so windy up there!
Colby: He was wearing bootcut jeans. Bootcut jeans!
Casey: Right? I can’t even move in my jeans in day-to-day life, let alone trapezing across the Grand Canyon. What about those cameras? No. 4 was my least favorite (secretly my most favorite!).
Colby: I did like No. 4 – it was essentially a GoPro attached to his chest pointed downwards – but I got bored of it after a while. So I switched to Camera No. 2, which was the helicopter swirling around him. That was super intense. I kept waiting for “Survivor” host Jeff Probst to poke his head out of the helicopter and go on some spiel. I just LOVE this clip of Probst on a helicopter in last year’s “Survivor: One World.”
Casey: I could only watch No. 4 camera for a bit, too; it started making me dizzy. But there was that moment when he kneeled – KNEELED – on the stupid cable thing and I was like, “What are you doing?! This is already hard enough! Just CROSS!” I really got into the spirit of the thing. A lot of other people did, too, like Piers Morgan, as you could tell from the Twitter comments appearing on the side.
Colby: Yeah, this was clearly orchestrated to be a “social” event for viewers. People could tweet about the event with the hashtag #skywire, which is what the Discovery Channel was calling this whole spectacle. My favorite tweet was from Frankie Muniz. Where has he been since the mid-2000s?
Casey: Living in his mansion – I just Googled it. I’d get lost in that place. Plus I’d buy a Segway with a GPS to navigate the halls with. You’ve seen that Samsung commercial with Ozzy Osbourne, right? The one where he’s using the map function to get around his house? It’d be like that.
Colby: My favorite celebrity-cellphone commercial is last year’s Apple ad with Samuel L. Jackson, where he’s asking Siri how to make risotto. I mean, how can you not love that guy?
Casey: Talented, funny, and he cooks. This is why Samuel L. Jackson is a keeper!
Colby: Agreed. Case closed.
Colby Bermel and Casey Lee are Monitor contributors.
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