Everything about Contraband can best be summed up in the word “average.” There’s nothing too great about this B-movie action/heist flick, but nothing too terrible about it, either. While it is overly ambitious in some respects, it ultimately lands in that middle ground of mindless (and instantly forgettable) genre entertainment, despite its shortcomings.
Mark Wahlberg channels his usual soft-spoken tough guy screen persona as Chris Farraday, a former master smuggler who has settled down into a law-abiding life as a working dad and loving husband to his gorgeous wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale). When Kate’s little brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) is forced to dump a shipment of cocaine during a high-stakes smuggling run, he lands himself, Chris, and Kate on the hook of local thug Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi).
Chris’ attempt to negotiate with Briggs is…less than successful, leaving him just two weeks to get back into the smuggling game and come up with the money owed to Briggs.With help from his best buddy Sebastian (Ben Foster), Chris rounds up a small crew of deckhands to help him pull off a scheme involving counterfeit bills waiting to be smuggled out of Panama. Of course things don’t go as planned, and there are a few of the standard heist film twists and double-crosses that leave Chris and Co. in tight spots and facing long odds.
For a glorified B-movie, Contraband has an impressive lineup of actors. Foster and Ribisi are accomplished character acting talents, and their respective characters are definite standouts (especially Ribisi’s high-pitched drawling thug). Caleb Landry Jones and Luke Haas are both young actors gaining notice, though they’re mostly window dressing here; Kate Beckinsale, on the other hand, is almost too hot to be convincing as the blue-collar Mrs. of a seasoned criminal. At this point most people know whether they like Mark Wahlberg’s bad boy persona or not, and he’s definitely playing to type in this film. Other familiar faces like J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man), Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Sons of Anarchy star William Lucking all pop up here and there for some brief (but welcome) bit roles.
Contraband is, in fact, the American remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, and while I haven’t seen that film to know for sure, the script for this American version (adapted by Aaron Guzikowski) tries to do too much with some of the subplots and supporting characters – which would’ve been more of a pronounced distraction if director Baltasar Kormakur (who produced the Icelandic version) and his team of editors hadn’t cut them down to size.
The first act of Contraband is awkwardly clipped – almost as if Kormakur had shot longer scenes but had to truncate them to keep things moving (a choice I wholeheartedly support). The main narrative unfolds at a nice pace without dragging too much – though, as stated, the moments of subplot development later in the film are often cumbersome, disjointed, and never feel effective or necessary.
The other odd thing about the film is that it doesn’t really offer a whole lot of any one element: for an action film, there’s very little action (basically one shootout/chase sequence), and for a heist film, it’s not particularly inventive or clever in its twists and surprises (most of them you can see coming way in advanced). The plot is pretty much a standard point A to point B to point C progression, while we watch Wahlberg and his blue-collar cohorts breeze through the complicated process of international smuggling with such ease that it’s hard to suspend your disbelief for too long. Look for plot holes with any kind of critical eye and you will find many.
However, for all its mediocrity, most of the audience interested in Contraband will likely be satisfied with what the film delivers: Mark Wahlberg looking tough, acting tough, and delivering choice one-liners like “You think you’re the only guy with a gun?” or “I’m coming for you!” And even though some of the subplots wedged into the second and third acts venture into darker and more serious dramatic territory, thankfully they aren’t so much of a drag as to keep the film from ending on a fun (if not entirely plausible) note.
All things considered, if you enjoy seeing modern action stars like Wahlberg or Jason Statham in pulpy B-movie flicks, then Contraband will be a suitable distraction. Those with more discerning action movie palates should probably wait to catch this one on home video or basic cable.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Hot on the heels of a demonic monster opening weekend at the box office (to the tune of $34.5 million) for The Devil Inside, the film’s writer/director (William Brent Bell) and co-writer (Matthew Peterman) are already preparing to shoot another, currently untitled, “found footage” style horror film.
It’s no surprise to hear that the pair is moving fast, especially considering that most box office experts are expecting a major drop-off for The Devil Inside in the coming week – due to negative word of mouth and the unenthusiastic response of the critical community (read our review of The Devil Inside). However, regardless of the film’s reception, it managed to do big bucks on a $1 million budget – making the pair an attractive prospect for Hollywood executives.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, CEO of Sierra/Affinity, Nick Meyer had no problem touting the pair’s accomplishments – even if The Devil Inside legacy is still up in the air:
“From day one, we have been huge fans of this filmmaking team and the way they have crafted a unique movie-going experience with The Devil Inside. These are filmmakers we know and trust and they bring an original voice and style to our next project that will once again introduce audiences to a new expectaiton of what one can define as a genre film.”
Bell and Peterman will, as mentioned, write the film together with Bell once again pulling double-duties as director. The film is set for financing through Sierra/Affinity and the Incentive Filmed Entertainment Fund with Peterman as well as Steven Schneider (Paranormal Activity, Insidious) and Morris Paulson (The Devil Inside) producing – and Bell, Peterman, and Paulson’s company, Prototype, handling production. The film is set to start work in Romania this April – though no storylines or potential cast members have been revealed at this point.
Admittedly, this new project was just announced but it’s hard not to be somewhat suspicious given the lack of concrete details, and Schneider’s annualizing of the Paranormal Activity series - not to mention The Devil Inside cliffhanger and decent box office profit. Is it a possibility that, despite Meyer’s claims that the new film will set “a new expectaiton of what one can define as a genre film,” that the new film could be the no-brainer Devil Inside sequel?
Of course, with all the uncertainty around whether or not audiences would be receptive to a Devil Inside 2, there’s always the possibility that the pair is actually preparing a different “found footage” genre experience – hopefully with a better ending this round. A Deadline report indicates that the new Bell/Peterman film will “bring a similar filmmaking style to another classic horror mythology” – though, with so few details to go on, it’s possible that the movie’s producers are merely trying to muddy the waters a bit and keep people from speculating that the new film is actually just another installment in Hollywood’s next big annualized cash grab. We’ll likely know more next month – as Sierra/Affinity is expected to sell the project to potential foreign buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
Is ONE TREE HILL looking to go out with a bang or a pretty wrapped bow as it ends its 9th season? From all indications from the two-minute teaser which jump-starts this final season, and from the cryptic remarks of the cast and creator, fans better be prepared to break out the Kleenex. The body under a white sheet in the morgue make be the best clue, but given the number of tears shed at a special sneak peek screening of ONE TREE HILL’s 9th season opener by the cast last week, one of the show’s beloved characters is not going to make it through the season.
It was both a joyful reunion and a night of misty-eyes as the cast of ONE TREE HILL watched the screening with fans and talked afterwards about some of their favorite memories. In fact, one fan was so choked up by how much the show touched her heart that she was unable to speak and it prompted star Sophia Bush to rush to her aid with a handy tissue. (Fortunately, co-star Shantal VanSanten had the foresight to bring tissues and had come to Sophia’s rescue just minutes before.) Each of the appearing cast members, which included: Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Galeotti, Paul Johansson, Shantal VanSanten, Stephen Colletti, Robert Buckley, Tyler Hilton, Lee Norris and Jackson Brundage, and creator/producer Mark Schwahn, were clearly feeling the nostalgia and the weight of the memories of so many years working together. While filming had only wrapped a month or so before, the finality of knowing that this is “THE END” and that there will not be new memories in their home-away-from-home in Wilmington, North Carolina seemed to be startle them all over again.
For Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Galeotti, Paul Johansson, Lee Norris, along with M.I.A. James Lafferty, they were the last remaining original cast members from the pilot. Co-stars Chad Michael Murray, Hilarie Burton, Moira Kelly, Craig Sheffer, Barbara Alyn Woods, Barry Corbin, and Antwon Tanner had wrapped their characters’ storylines long before.
The newer cast members Robert Buckley, Shantal VanSanten, Stephen Colletti, Jackson Brundage and even Tyler Hilton may not have been there for the full nine seasons, but their tenure was no less impressive spanning several seasons on one of the few shows that originated back in the glory days of the WB.
Each and every one of the actors sitting before the fans that night alternated between gleeful joy and looks of profound sadness that the show had come to an end. While fans may shed tears at the loss of their favorite show, it is no less hard to say goodbye for the close-knit cast who treasured their time working on the show.
Goodbyes are never easy. But rather than make the night about saying goodbye, it was a night of celebration – to celebrate the great work of the actors and the other talent behind the show, and to give the fans a chance to share in this final hurrah with them.
So as the lights dimmed and the gripping teaser unfolded before our eyes, there were gasps. It foreshadowed a tumultuous, if not terrifying, and yet beautiful season ahead. Then as the remainder of the episode played out, we were able to share “the beginning of the end” with them. The journey for Brooke Davis, Haley James Scott, Nathan Scott, Dan Scott, Jamie Scott, Mouth McFadden, Clay Evans, Quinn James, Chase Adams, and Chris Keller was coming to an end. Whether they all survive unscathed and free to live “happily ever after” is yet to be revealed. But by the end of this final season, the window in which we have been able to peer into their lives will close forever.
Straight from creator/producer Mark Schwahn, he said he was not looking for “happy endings.” Instead, he focused on writing a story that is tinged with a bit of heart-ache and bitter-sweetness. Because this was the last chance to do it, he also wanted this 9th season to take more risks. So the show is not going quietly into the night, it will grip fans’ hearts and make them remember each and every precious moment.
Dispelling some of the apprehension that Mark’s words invoked, and clearly unable to contain herself, Sophia burst out she is simply excited to see what the fans think of it all. It was a big year for her as she was given the opportunity to direct the second to last episode, which propels the characters towards their momentous finale. Working with each of her castmates in that pivotal and adrenaline-rushed episode left her breathless and tingling with anticipation.
In response to the question of who is under the sheet in the morgue, Mark quickly quipped, “Not telling!” But, like Sophia, he is dying to see how the fans react to that revelation.
When asked what they will remember the most about the 9th season, the responses were varied. Joy said that she was thrilled to have Tyler back as his excitement and focus made each scene that much more rewarding and fun to work on together. Sophia chimed in to add that Tyler’s return is like seeing a unicorn: it is a rare and special treat! Then Paul said cryptically, “You have no idea what Dan will do this season” and, if the smug smile on his face was any indication, Dan is likely to rain down Hell on Earth if given the chance. Which may very well be true, given that the significant line from the opening episode was Nathan Scott saying, “Hell is empty – all the devils are already here.” Those words may be eerily prophetic. Mark also explained that he really wanted the characters of Dan Scott and Chris Keller back for the final season as he thought they made great antagonists “stirring the pot.” Finally, Sophia said that, for her, it was amazing exploring Brooke as a mother and a natural protector – the natural culmination for a beautiful journey and that she was absolutely satisfied with where Brooke’s journey had taken her. She is also grateful to her character for teaching her to own her successes and failures.
For Mark, wrapping a scene at the river court in the finale as well as revisiting Karen’s Café where it all began 9 years ago, were some of his favorite final memories. He recalled the bitter-sweetness of finishing the pilot and not yet knowing if they were going to be picked up and how he would be heart-broken if they did not get a chance to tell the stories he knew were waiting to be told. Yet nine years later, and here they are. So many great stories, remarkable memories and magnificent moments. A treasure by any count.
As was noted time-and-time again through the night as question-after-question was answered about their favorite memories from other the years and this final season, there was so much to appreciate and be grateful for. Joy also wisely noted, “No one was taking it for granted. We all wanted to appreciate every moment.” Mark added that this season remains his favorite because the countdown to the end made him savor and appreciate it more. He emphasized that he wanted to both honor the longtime fans who had been there since Day One and reward them with a sensational season. With fingers-crossed, they all hope that through the final episode, the fans will savor each moment along with them.
So while Paul may remember the scene where he got to kiss Bethany over and over again for each take before the camera, or Shantal will remember her heart in her hand at the end of each season as they awaited their renewal announcement, or Bethany will remember all those heart-tugging speeches that Haley made to Brooke over the years, or Lee will remember visiting the kids in Honey Grove, Texas, or Rob will remember his very first day on set and working with his lovely co-star Shantal, or Stephen will remember all the fantastic musical performances at Trick – the one thing that they will all remember fondly is the friendships they made. ONE TREE HILL was never just about the characters; it was about the actors, writers, producers and everyone else working on the show and how it indelibly impacted and influenced their lives as well. Nine years. Nine wonderful years. Not quite a lifetime, but surely a timespan to change lives. It gave them — and us — memories, friendships and 187 episodes to cherish.
It may be the end, but never goodbye. Wipe your tears, laugh and smile. This is just the beginning.
Tiffany Vogt blogs at The TV Addict.
The Devil Inside is presented as assembled found footage that follows twenty-something Isabella Rossi (Fernanda Andrade) as she reunites with her mother, Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), and searches for an exorcist that can free Maria of a long-running demon possession. Maria has been locked away in a Catholic psychiatric ward, following an attempted exorcism that resulted in the murder of three people 20 years prior.
However, as Isabella spends more time with Maria in the ward, strange occurrences begin to escalate as a dormant evil finds a convenient batch of new visitors to terrorize.
Some moviegoers will no doubt be ready to compare The Devil Inside to the 2010 film The Last Exorcism – since the film also features unique locales, documentary-style filmmaking, body-contorting horror sequences, and a weighty religious side-arc. In addition, The Devil Inside also relies on a similarly grounded tone – with a lot of exposition to fill out the story. Instead of the limited (horror in a box) scope and slow-burn pacing of the Paranormal Activity series, The Devil Inside employs larger sequences that feature characters rushing from room to room to uncover a mystery, or run for their lives. While the marketing might lead moviegoers to believe that the majority of the film takes place inside the Catholic psych ward, the film actually covers a surprising amount of Italian locales, while the exorcists’ “scientific” approach to freeing people of demon possession offers some fresh ideas – not to mention smart suspense cues.
The exorcisms in the film deliver some intriguing moments, but while there are definitely a number of jump scares throughout The Devil Inside, overall the “scariest” points tend to be less “frightening” and rely on expectation and tension more than in-your-face frights. The possibility of something terrible happening fuels most of the film’s best sequences – though, looking back, some horror fans may feel as though not a lot actually happens by the end of the various proceedings.
For better or for worse (depending on how much character drama a filmgoer wants in their found footage films), The Devil Inside spends a lot of time developing the primary characters – especially how the two main exorcists in the film feel about the Catholic church. David (Evan Helmuth) is a “company man” who, despite his frustrations with pastoral politics, believes in the church and identifies strongly with Catholic doctrine. Ben (Simon Quarterman), on the other hand, is the nephew of an accomplished exorcist – and feels that working outside of the church is the only way to truly help victims afflicted by demon possession. Along with the primary narrative arc involving Isabella, the movie spends a lot of time developing these side stories – all for very little payoff. As events unfold, The Devil Inside completely abandons character building and resolution in favor of “shocking” set pieces. One Ben-centric story bit is especially under served – even though it’s hinted at more than once. The result is an uneven narrative experience that’s front-loaded with too much exposition and ends without any real payoff for the mythos (or the characters). Similarly, audience members will probably find the film’s conclusion extremely abrupt or possibly outright infuriating – at least if they are hoping for an interesting (or exciting) climactic resolution.
That said, the most outright bizarre aspect of the film is the way that the “documentary” is actually presented onscreen. A number of segments feature hand-held camera work, via cameraman Michael (Ionut Grama), coupled with static security-like footage. However, on more than one occasion following close-up hand-held camera footage (i.e., Michael in the room filming), The Devil Inside cuts to one of the static shots ( where Isabella and Rosa are the only ones in the room, for example). While some moviegoers will no doubt consider this nitpicking, the success of “found footage” films is in their ability to (for a brief moment) attempt to trick the audience into believing that these things actually happened. As a result, anyone who is invested in how the film is being presented will likely be pulled out – due to the inconsistent strategies in presenting the footage.
The Devil Inside won’t break any new ground in the “found footage” horror genre, but it does offer some intriguing ideas about exorcism, a pair of interesting characters, and a number of tense (though not entirely frightening) moments. Overall, fans of the genre are likely to enjoy elements of the film – though, given the slow, exposition-heavy opening act and a TOTAL lack of any ending or closure, many moviegoers will leave the theater feeling as though the experience wasn’t worth the ticket money.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
3D has become something of a dirty word amongst moviegoers, and not without good reason: for every genuinely creative and/or enriching use of the format (Avatar, Hugo) there are a dozen other shallow, shoddy and gimmicky examples of 3D done wrong (Alice in Wonderland, Green Lantern, Clash of the Titans). When word got out that Star Trek 2 was going to be post-converted into 3D, many fans of the franchise feared that the sequel would fall into the latter camp of 3D movies.
Well, Star Trek 2 director J.J. Abrams isn’t letting those fears go unaddressed; check out what the geek-chic icon had to say on the subject – as well as some of the recent casting news about the sequel.
Abrams addressed the Star Trek 2 3D issue at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, while talking up the new Fox show Alcatraz, which he serves as producer on. On the subject of how they will shoot Star Trek 2:
We’re shooting on film, and the reason for that is I wanted to shoot with anamorphic, and you can’t shoot 3D in anamorphic.
Addressing the ongoing (jokes? concerns?) circling the Internet, in regards to Abrams’ divisive signature “lens flare” filming style potentially being an even bigger nuisance in 3D:
I’ve had some people make fun of me about that. Yeah, we’ve done some tests. Not only lens flare tests, but we’ve done 3D tests. We actually converted a bunch of the original movie, which looked really good. That was the thing that made me feel like, maybe that would be okay. But, I didn’t want to shoot the movie digitally…It will be converted, for those who want to see it in 3D. But, I wanted to match the look of the first one and shoot it anamorphically.
On a more interesting note, check out what Abrams had to say about the project which was ultimately selected for 3D conversion:
I did not fight for the 3D. It was something that the studio wanted to do, and I didn’t want to do it. And then, when I saw the first movie converted in sections, I thought that it actually looked really cool. So, I was okay with their doing it, as long as I could shoot the movie the way I wanted to, in anamorphic film, and then let them convert it. So, those who want to see it in 3D, which looked pretty cool, can do it, and those that want to see it in 2D can do that too.
While I’m sure that Abrams was just being honest in his answer, nothing is going to fuel the fire of those online naysayers than hearing that he didn’t even want to have the movie in 3D. There already enough people who currently view 3D as nothing more than a Hollywood cash-grab – Abrams’ words to little to dissuade that assumption.
Regarding some of the casting news that has recently been announced for Star Trek 2 - specifically that of Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), who is rumored to be taking over the villain role (of Khan?) from Benecio Del Toro:
Who said he’s our villain?…Honestly, he’s just an incredible actor. If you’ve seen his work in Sherlock, he’s just got incredible skills. He’s an amazing stage actor. He did amazing work (on stage) in Frankenstein. He’s brilliant. You try to cast people who are great. We got lucky.
Don’t let Abrams throw, Trek fans: for now, signs point to Cumberbatch indeed playing the villain, and that villain being Khan. We can’t prove it beyond a doubt, but the clues are definitely there to suggest that the actor will be playing a brainer version of Khan, with supporting actors like Joe Gatt providing the muscle. Still, we’ll have to wait for an official confirmation to know for sure.
What do you think about Star Trek 2 being pushed into 3D by Paramount? How about the casting of the film so far?
Star Trek 2 will be in theaters on May 17, 2013.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Fans of the fantasy series MERLIN have had a long wait since the dramatic finale of the 3rd season last year. But the long hiatus is finally over and it was worth the wait. Returning with its 4th season, things start off with a bang – or rather a nasty tear between our world and the netherworld and creepy crawlies soon swarm over Camelot. One icy touch and a person is not simply frozen in fear – they are literally frozen to death. Unleashed by Morgana and her evil sister Morgause, the Derocha are not simply ghosts in the night. They are supernatural creatures that will steal your soul, the very breath from your body, and worse yet – Merlin’s magic is impotent against them.
It is the moment that every wizard fears, when you look into the face of your enemy completely helpless to defend yourself against them. Until this point, Merlin has been able to stand steadfast in the knowledge that he can always use his magic to protect himself and everyone he cares about. But once that is stripped away, all you have is a man forced to use his wits to defeat a seemingly invincible enemy.
You can just hear the laughter as Morgana and Morgause watch with unbridled glee. The Derocha are doing all their dirty work for them and Camelot will swiftly fall if they are not defeated. In a desperate, last minute attempt to save the kingdom and all of them from a chilling death, Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of Camelot journey to repair the torn veil between the worlds before it is too late.
Part 1 of “The Darkest Hour” sets up the threat and the perilous journey. Part 2, which concludes this magnificent and spine-chilling story, airs the following Friday, January 12th. Neither part is to be missed as death comes-a-calling, and while one may yet escape, another may not. “The Darkest Hour” introduces a threat more devastating than they have ever encountered and the cost of saving Camelot comes at a steep price. But, make no mistake, you will laugh and cheer and yet still feel great sorrow in the end. The war between the sorceress Morgana and the warlock Merlin has just begun. “The Darkest Hour” emphasizes to both how much they stand to lose and why this fight must be to the bitter end. Former alliances and childhood friendships are cast aside as magic faces off against magic.
This entire 4th season is about love, loss, and embracing destiny. Merlin cannot just be a boy behind the prince anymore. It is time to step outside Arthur’s shadow and let Arthur stand to become the king that he is destined to be. Similarly, Morgana rises to claim her deliciously evil glory unfettered by the insecurities of the past. And Merlin will have to walk the perilous path of hiding his true identity from both of them – lest his role to play is revealed too soon.
With Uther incapacitated with madness, never having recovered from the betrayal of his illegitimate daughter Morgana, Arthur tries to stand in as ruler of Camelot – alas, with the counsel of his uncle Agravaine, who does not seem to have Arthur’s best interests at heart.
Then, as always, Lady Guinevere is the wild card. Still seen as a mere servant, who has favor with Arthur, her role is unfathomable to most. Yet Morgana has seen the future and knows that one day Gwen will sit on the throne at Arthur’s side. So while Gwen’s natural grace and low station poses not outward threat, Morgana knows that she must stop Gwen. Morgana’s battles spread her thin as she takes on Arthur, Merlin and Gwen on multiple fronts in order to recapture Camelot.
But this is the flaw in her plan. Morgana is always focusing on the wrong things. Even once she were able to get Arthur, Merlin and Gwen out of the way, she is not in a position to rule Camelot as the people do not love her and respect her. If anything, last season should have taught her is the lesson that without the people of Camelot behind her, she is nothing. But blinded by rage, fear and a burning desire to take back what she believes is hers by birthright, Morgana cannot see what truly matters – what it will take to win a kingdom from the inside – through the hearts of its people.
One cannot combat destiny by sheer force-of-will – one must woo it and the art of seduction seems beyond Morgana. Fortunately for Camelot, our heroes Arthur, Merlin, Gwen and the Knights of Camelot know a thing or two about love and how to properly woo destiny.
Tiffany Vogt blogs at The TV Addict.
Favorite New Guy: In a crowded field of very deserving candidates including HART OF DIXIE’s Wilson Bethel, REVENGE’s Gabriel Mann and ONCE UPON A TIME’s Josh Dallas, one man elevated evil to an entirely new level of fun. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES’ Joseph Morgan, we salute you!
Favorite Fake Newscaster: With his sly delivery and trademark smirk, Seth Meyers continues to demonstrate that should the day ever arrive when Jon Stewart decides to look for other opportunities outside of THE DAILY SHOW, the man manning SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’s Weekend Update desk is ready and waiting in the wings.
Favorite Funny: The $25 Foosball “bit” on COMMUNITY was worth every penny. Hence, Exhibit “A”
Favorite New Drama: With its litany of plot twists and cadre of characters whose murky loyalties had us questioning motives at every turn, HOMELAND was Showtime’s 24-equivalent minus the silly time constrains and plus the nudity.
Favorite New Comedy: What do you get when you combine a wickedly talented six person ensemble willing to do anything, and we mean anything, for a laugh? HAPPY ENDINGS, or as we like to call it, quite possibly the funniest series since that show about that coffee addicted gang from Central Perk.
Favorite Fictional Town: Complete with a seemingly never-ending calendar of events and festivals rivalled only by that of HART OF DIXIE’s Bluebell Alabama, this season of PARKS AND RECREATION cemented Pawnee Indiana’s status as the live action equivalent of THE SIMPSONS’ Springfield courtesy of a ridiculously endearing ensemble, an ever-expanding collection of hilarious townspeople, and one incredibly adorable horse (RIP Li’l’ Sebastian)
Favorite Fictional Family: Despite our love of MODERN FAMILY’s Dunphey-Pritchett clan, this blue-collar blogger feels a slight obligation to stick with fellow members of the 99% this year by raising a bottle to Showtime’s SHAMELESS Gallagher family for taking the dysfunctional family values to an entirely new level.
Favorite TV Trend: Suffice it to say, nothing puts a smile on our face like the proliferation of adorable television babies (See: RAISING HOPE’s Hope and DEXTER’s Harry)
Least Favorite TV Trend: The proliferation of the “T.B.D.” As in air dates for COUGAR TOWN, COMMUNITY, and AWAKE remain to be determined.
Trend That Has to Stop Now: Shows that deliver a series finale under the not-always-correct assumption that they’ll have life on another platform. (See: ENTOURAGE and ALL MY CHILDREN)
Best Excuse to Spend 3 Hours on a Couch: From THE MIDDLE to REVENGE and everything in between, there is nothing that makes us happier than Wednesday night’s on ABC.
Favorite New Bromance: What PERSON OF INTEREST’s Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) lack in verbiage, they more than make up for in steely glances that say more than most pairings do in an entire episode’s worth of dialogue.
Show in Desperate Need of an EXTREME MAKEOVER: SUPPORTING CAST Edition: The only thing funnier than 2 BROKE GIRLS leading ladies Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs are the writing team who thought that surrounding them with a collection of highly offensive and astoundingly unfunny stereotypes would be a good idea.
Most Pleasant Surprise: The unexpected ratings success of REVENGE, HART OF DIXIE and HAPPY ENDINGS, three TV Addict favorites that in any other year would normally have been classified as “on the bubble” due to the very fact we love them so.
Most Pleasant Surprise (Runner-Up!): Thanks to a string of phenomenally talented hosts including Alec Baldwin, Melissa McCarthy, Emma Stone, Jason Segel, and Jimmy Fallon, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE actually became appointment viewing again.
Favorite Finale: We challenge you to find anything more flawless than FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS final montage. Go ahead, we’re waiting.
On the one hand, it’s a $90 million project from a high-profile filmmaker that is based on an international best-selling novel that has only grossed $60 million in the U.S. so far; on the other hand, it’s an extremely adults-only, R-Rated murder mystery full of graphic content and fatalistic atmosphere that’s been generating excellent word-of-mouth. So, those financial returns are about as good as one could (reasonably) expect.
Nonetheless, there’s been some question as to whether or not Sony is actively pressing ahead with an adaptation of the next installment in author Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire, because of Dragon Tattoo‘s so-so box office performance. According to EW, that is in fact the case.
A Sony representative informed the publication that Girl Who Played with Fire remains on-target for a late 2013 release date. Dragon Tattoo leads Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig are likewise reportedly already signed on to reprise their roles as Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, respectively, in both the sequel and the (for now, theoretical) third franchise chapter, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
Dragon Tattoo writer Steve Zaillian is in the early stage of scripting Girl Who Played with Fire, which Fincher has the option to direct. While he has not yet committed to the project, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker has admitted that (should he sign on) he would prefer to shoot both the second and third Millennium book adaptations back-to-back, for both practical and artistic purposes.
Fincher’s take on Dragon Tattoo has been playing very well with professional critics and casual moviegoers alike; similarly, it ranked pretty high on our favorite 2011 movies list. That sets it apart from relatively recent costly studio franchise titles that only did so-so business in theaters in comparison to their actual production budget, but were also critical duds (ex. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, TRON: Legacy)… and yet, sequels to both are being developed, with G.I. Joe 2 having already completed production.
In addition, Dragon Tattoo should continue to play well during the slow-going month of January and will probably (*knock on wood*) manage to snag a handful of Oscar nods in the near future – which will also help keep it in the limelight.
That’s all to say: Dragon Tattoo may not be a box office smash, but it should ultimately prove to be profitable enough to ensure that Sony doesn’t abandon its franchise plans.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of The Girl Who Played with Fire as the story develops.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.