Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Alright Already! Who is the Joker?

To me, the essence of the Joker is the snobbish smile of sociopathic detachment matched with nervous laughter bordering on ghoulish hysteria. He's an aristocratic, foppish vaudevillian, who laughs at the violent nature of life. The same tragedy that creates in The Batman, a creature of unbending will with a bleak determination to control khaos, creates a Joker that rejects control, rule and societal constructs, a Joker who has no sense of morality that embraces the khaotic nature of cruelty. While, Ra's Al Ghul is the only villain that is Batman's match, when done right the Joker is something scarier... Batman's opposite. This new film is supposed to re-introduce us to Batman's most famous foe...So whose gonna play the Joker?

There is a reason I have been staying far away from Batman movie news lately. First, it's just getting into pre-production mode, so there has been little to talk about. Second, the news has been pretty inconsistent and frankly, it changes every other day. Everybody and your Mom has been linked to or rumored to be considered for the Joker role: established old timers like Michael Keaton (I kid you not, Batman as the Joker!) and Robin Williams... Young big timers like Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Hugh Jackman...up and comers like Sam Rockwell and Hugo Weaving.... unknown or lesser knowns like Lachy Hulme and Paul Bettany... and the two people I think would nail the role.. Vincent Cassel and Crispin Glover. Every other week the rumor mill spits out some super secret gossip saying that one of those guys or Al Roker or Nicole Kidman is playing the Joker. So I just decided to stop messing with you and ignore the rumors until things started to settle a little. This scoop may be contradicted Tomorrow, but since it comes from Batman on Film's Jett, I would tend to trust it. Either way, its a nice piece in that it gives you a broad overview of all the rumors we have been hearing and let's us know which ones are hints at the truth and which ones are the illusions of a crackhead.

Batman On Film has the story HERE!
Big Joker Scoop?

Author: JettWednesday, April 26, 2006 - 5:44 AM CENTRAL TIME:

Jett here. The following comes in from a LONGTIME source who has provided BOF with much dead on info regarding BATMAN in the past. Some news has been revealed/broken here at BOF (like Ken Watanabe and Katie Holme's casting in BEGINS); some has been kept secret to keep this source anonymous. This is a rather lengthy report, but it clears up a lot of stuff and reveals the Joker info I alluded to cryptically last week. (One note regarding news from BOF: If you copy and paste this on message boards -- cool; But PLEASE include a link back to BOF. Thank you.) Anyway, here goes...

I first slipped you information many years ago that centred on the possible casting of Jude Law as Bruce Wayne/Batman. This was long before Christopher Nolan's involvement with the franchise. Law's name was also thrown about re: Petersen's BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN project. Now it seems we have come full circle. Your site has mentioned Law as a candidate for Harvey Dent. This is incorrect. Law is being [considered for The Joker]. He is a WB suggestion (one of a select few). WB do not have a "wish list," but WB has narrowed down a couple of names for Nolan etc. to consider later this year.

As far as I know, Paul Bettany is not on this list. His name holds some appeal with a section of the Batman fan base, but the idea is not exactly setting WB's world on fire. Too many creepy villain roles; been there, done that. He was never really in this race, as your site intimated recently – well done ;)

Lachy Hulme is on this list. He is not the "frontrunner" as many have suggested; he is the "dark horse." WB is concerned about his lack of profile in the US, but they are keeping a very close eye on him. Hulme's lack of profile could be remedied with two projects, MACBETH and an Australian comedy called BOYTOWN. The buzz for both films is very strong. Cillian Murphy landed his casting call for BATMAN BEGINS off the career boost 28 DAYS LATER gave him; likewise, Hulme only needs for one of these films to click. FYI: Hulme HAS met with the producers. He is the only actor not contracted for sequels to have done so.

I can confirm that The Joker role is a small and mysterious one in the sequel. It will be nothing like the Jack Nicholson-style showcase that the previous Joker provided.
Reps for Sam Rockwell were pursuing the role in the hope that this Joker would be on par with the 1989 Joker, but soon discovered otherwise. Hugh Jackman also expressed interest in The Joker. Upon learning the size of the role he explored the Harvey Dent option instead. Due to Jackman's association with Marvel, however, you can probably count him out of either role in the BATMAN BEGINS sequel. Probably.

Hugo Weaving is also on the WB Casting list; Johnny Depp is not. Guy Pearce has never been discussed for any role in the sequel; neither has Robin Williams.

The other issue perplexing WB is Katie Holmes. I can't confirm whether she will be in the sequel or not. This is not due to whether she was weak in BATMAN BEGINS; the consensus at WB is that Holmes delivered a fine performance. The issue is, what to do with her character? That is a problem for Jonah and Chris to resolve.

And that's the point: Chris Nolan now has the power to do whatever he damn well pleases. The "WB Casting List" has been compiled simply as some "helpful suggestions" for him.

Let's pop out a Wiki on the Clown Prince of Crime! HERE!

The Joker is a fictional DC Comics villain, widely considered to be Batman's arch-enemy and the most well-known villain in comic book history. The idea was conceived by Batman inker\letterer Jerry Robinson (while on staff under Batman creator\artist Bob Kane), the Joker first appeared in Batman #1 (1940). Originally conceived as an evil "court-jester" type, the character was rejected by studio writer Bill Finger as being "too clownish" however, he later relayed the idea to Bob Kane. Kane, who started out as a "gag" artist, loved the concept and encouraged its production. Mr. Finger found a photograph of actor Conrad Veidt wearing make-up for a silent film entitled The Man Who Laughs (which was based on a novel by Victor Hugo) and it was from this photograph that the Joker was modelled.

The Joker is a humor-obsessed criminal with a clown-like appearance, who likes to kill people with fatal hilarity. Writers have alternatively portrayed him as a goofy trickster-thief or as a serial killer with a warped sense of humor. Recent writers of the Batman comic book series have preferred the latter, and the Joker has been responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, such as the murder of Jason Todd, the successor to the mantle of Robin after Dick Grayson, the injury/paralysis of Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl/Oracle, and the death of Sarah Essen Gordon, Jim Gordon's wife.

The Joker is regarded by fans and comic-book aficionados as one of the greatest villains in comic-book history and by many the one with the most psychological depth.

The Joker has been featured throughout the Batman saga, and has been an enemy of the Caped Crusader in most adaptations in other media. Interpretations of the Joker that have made him well-known to the general public include Cesar Romero's in the 1960s Batman television series, Mark Hamill in the DC Animated Universe and Jack Nicholson's in the 1989 feature film.

The Joker (as played by Nicholson) ranks number 45 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time. (it should have been Tim Curry.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Transformers Update: Can Bay Do It?

Michael Bay is making "The Transformers" as a live action feature. Steven Spielberg is Executive Producing and is said to have a heavy hand in this. I don't like Michael Bay. I don't like his movies, his 1980's style, his lack of depth, his over the top action over substance...I don't like him so much, I almost hate his dog. (I love dogs!)

Steven Spielberg is a man of two film careers. The "Jaws," "Duel," "1941," "Empire of the Sun," "The Color Purple," "Munich," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Catch Me If You Can," "Amastad," "Raider of the Lost Ark" Spielberg and the "War of the Worlds," "Minority Report," "AI," "Jurassic Park," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," "Always," "Saving Private Ryan" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" Spielberg.

Optimus Prime is a giant robotic version of Captain America, that just happens to transform into a Mack Truck. (see "Why We Love Cap!") At ten years old, I think he was the first political leader I really believed in. (I know, I'm a sad man..) He was strong and brave, honest and wise, compassionate and peace loving, all wrapped up in an ass kicking robot that turned into a Semi!!! Optimus was John Wayne and Gregory Peck crammed into a tinfoil rollup with Vultron. Yeahhh..

Let's Wiki up some Optimus! (from HERE)

Across the assorted continuities of the "Generation One" universe(s), there have been various interpretations of Optimus Prime; the cartoon leant towards Optimus Prime as a straightforward, wise and essentially upbeat battlefield general, while the Marvel Comics series, in addition to these more obvious characteristics, suggested a Prime secretly plagued by self-doubt and, more importantly, a conflicted sense of pacifism. One of Prime's most notable characteristics was his adamant commitment to leadership by example, and avoidance of any hypocrisy in his command.

The above mentioned pacifism was not always readily apparent, but Prime's craving for peace is generally palpable. He was an extremely reluctant warrior, and it was at times implied (particularly in the Movie, albeit in a subtle manner) that the conflict with the Decepticons lasted as long as it did primarily due to his unwillingness to take a more aggressive stance. Consistent with his appearance, he had an aura of tremendous size, strength, and authority, but which at the same time was overlaid with a sense of equally great compassion and benevolence, and at times, sorrow and fatigue. Archetypically speaking, Prime was a somewhat tragic paladin whose primary motivations were both his desire for peaceful existence, and his sacrificial concern for the welfare of those other than himself. Although his massive shoulders were able to carry it, the burden of his command weighed very heavily.

A tragic constant of the character is his predilection for self-sacrifice - across all continuities and depictions of him (and later, his modern namesakes), it is almost a certainty that Prime will meet his end and later return to life (sometimes to repeat the process).

All I can tell you is if this big blockbuster realizes Optimus Prime, it will work. The fact that they would make this as a live action spectacular is a no brainer with Today's technology. If it feels like Michael Bay has changed the heart of the Autobots or Optimus Prime, who I must shameful admit to feeling a childhood reverence for, then all is lost. What I'm reading below has some good possibilities, let's hope this doesn't become the unintentional comedy that "Bad Boys" was..

Over at IGN FilmForce (HERE) Stax gives up a pretty nice update on the film.

IGN FilmForce has learned which actors are poised to join the previously announced Shia LaBeof in the cast of the DreamWorks-Paramount live-action feature film version of The Transformers. (LaBeof will star as "Sam," the unlikely teen hero of the movie.)

IGN has confirmed through multiple sources that Oscar winner Jon Voight is in talks to reunite with his Pearl Harbor director, Michael Bay, as "Keller." A casting notice online describes Keller as the U.S. Secretary of State.

Another Bay veteran, Armageddon's Michael Clarke Duncan, is closing in on the role of "Figueroa." This character is described in a casting notice posted at Sneak Peek TV as being "Dominican by way of the Louisiana Bayou. Chief Warrant officer in the Army. Spirited fellow who loves to sing. Close team member of Lennox."

And who is Lennox? Sources indicated that Vegas star Josh Duhamel has a lock on the role of the young military commander.

Bernie Mac is the frontrunner for the role of "Bobby Bolivia." A casting notice said Bolivia "could sell ice to an Eskimo. Tries to get Sam to buy a car. Your typical wheelin' dealin' used car salesman."

IGN has also learned that the following actors are being lined up for roles:

Tyrese as "Epps";

John Turturro as "Simmons";

Rachael Taylor as "Maggie," previously described as a super-hot and super-smart codebreaker for the government;

Megan Fox as "Mikaela," referred to in a casting notice as Sam's love interest;

Travis Van Winkle as "Trent";

John Robinson as "Miles."

There is still no word yet on who will be voicing the Autobots and the Decepticons. Transformers is slated to begin filming next month for a July 4, 2007 release. It is being produced by Angry Films' Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Ian Bryce and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay are exec producing. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (The Island) wrote the latest draft of the screenplay; John Rogers (The Core) penned an earlier draft.

Below, Quint from Aintitcool News invades Bay's world and comes up with some interesting is HERE!

One thing I can confirm, straight from Bay's mouth (and this is something he wanted the fans to know) is that he is going to audition the original voice actors for the Autobots and Decepticons. He said it's no guarantee they'll get cast, but he's going to give them a listen. His main fear is that the actors have aged since the cartoon and that age may be noticeable in their voices.

Bay then showed me a rough design for the TRANSFORMERS teaser poster. It was a robotic eye overlooking planet Earth, kind of peeking over the curvature of the globe. The eye was in a brow the shape of a right triangle and looked very mechanical, iris and all. The tagline was "Their War. Our World."

The biggest difference from the cartoon and toys is that the Autobots and Decepticons aren't going to be as blocky. Bay said that when they started breaking down how these robots transform from vehicles to robots the blocky end result didn't make any sense and looked pretty silly. So, you see the working parts of the vehicles much more on the robots, you see sharper angles, but they all stem from them transforming.

He showed me another robot, a Decepticon called Scorponok (if I remember correctly, although it could have been called Skorpikon), a giant robot scorpion which had three long, thin pliable blades for each of its pincers that could join together and rotate, becoming drills. The tail folded up over its body and had a long sharp barbed pole that would shoot out of the end (presumably to skewer anything in the immediate area).

It was around here that I got my first look at Optimus Prime. I saw three concept art pieces on Optimus. The first was a headshot. He is blue, like the cartoon, but I noticed a lack of red in the early stuff I saw. Mostly steel gray and blue. Not sure what I think about that. His face is a bit longer than I remember the cartoon being, but the image I think of when I picture Optimus Prime is when his face guard is up. Bay was quick to point out that the Optimus I was seeing was him without his battle mask. Like the other robot I saw, Optimus was more angular than the cartoon, but he was still hulking. He was by no means lithe and skinny. Bulky, but not blocky.

The second piece of art I saw had him standing full size, head to toe , on the right side and his vehicle form on the left. Yes, it's still a Mac truck.

The third piece was a close up on his eyes. There was actually 2 different pieces here, two different options for how the eyes would look. They still haven't decided on the eyes yet, but Bay said the robots, and Optimus Prime especially, had to show emotion and you couldn't do that with just glowing red eyes. The one I liked the most had the iris of the eye looking like a turbine engine. Very mechanical, but like a camera shutter it appeared that he could dilate the "pupils." There were metal slats around his eyes as well that looked like they could slide over each other to give the area around the eyes specific movement and life. The other option was exactly the same, but the iris had what looked like wires instead of slats (turbine engine thingys). It was very pretty and mimicked the look of a human iris a bit more, but felt out of place in the robotic skull.

It was very obvious to me that Bay was getting excited about the project as he was revealing these little bits to me, which was very cool to see. Mostly because the more excited he got, the more he wanted to share about the film. He picked another page and slid it to me and told me that when he was first approached he wasn't sure about the movie, thinking it would just a giant toy commercial. What hooked him was Shia LaBeouf's character, a teen that is getting his first car. He said that rite of passage for a teenage boy, that of getting your first car, is something he connected with and gave him a human angle to get involved emotionally with the story. Of course, Shia's character ends up with a banana yellow '70s looking car with lots of wear... and of course, that car is a Transformer.

The art Bay slid over to me was like the Optimus Prime work, with Shia's yellow beat up old car on the left and the car transformed into a giant robot on the right.

We talked a bit about the beginning of the movie. It starts in the Antarctica with a man chipping away at a giant ice wall. Something happens, his dogs run away and ice wall opens, the man falling into an icy cave, sliding down into the earth. When he stops, the camera pulls back and shows him resting in a giant robotic hand, half in and half out of the ice. I saw this piece in production art and it was very atmospheric with giant shapes in the surrounding ice walls and the tiny man resting in the palm of a robot. palm of a robot.

Bay later revealed that although this is the beginning of the movie, it isn't the first thing we see. Bay's words were, "We will actually see Cybertron," which is the planet where the Autobots hail from.

I then saw about 10 minutes of animatics....the action seemed to be huge and what you'd want from a movie like this... I saw fights between fully transformed Autobots and Decepticons that had them plucking lamp posts out of the ground and smashing the other with the blocky concrete end, I saw them jumping all over each other, only to be shot back by an arm cannon, I saw mid-air transformations from a Jet into a robot as it collides a standing robot in downtown LA...

The other animatic sequence I want to mention before I wrap up this report is a freeway chase. Bay said he has done many chase scenes in his career, but he wanted this one to feel different from his other chases. The sequence has Optimus and a Decepticon speeding along a crowded freeway, the Decepticon's truck flipping over any vehicle in its way. Optimus is catching up to him and transforms as he gets close, keeping the tires on the ground and avoiding as many cars as he can. The transformation was everything Transformers geeks would want to see big. It was smooth and ended with Optimus crouching, the wheels still on the ground.

I still wonder what Soundwave will be? An 8track? Rumor says a heliocopter...nahh... How about a Karaoke machine?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Whose Side Will You Be On?

Well, it seems mostly that people are choosing the side of Hugh Jackman's Agent! Please, I'm starting to think that this is the Wolverine spinoff movie! I wonder if size on the poster is based on actual payscale?

Over HERE,
Superhero Hype! has learned that Fox will air a 7-minute preview of X-Men: The Last Stand on Thursday, May 11 from 8:30-8:37pm ET/PT! The preview airs right before the series finale of "That '70s Show," which is on from 8:37-10:00pm ET/PT.

X-Men: The Last Stand hits theaters on May 26th.

If for some reason you need more X3 stuff, the fancy website is at:

DC Movies: Here Comes Sgt. Rock!

Okay, forget about GIJoe. Put away Snake Eyes, Duke, Roadblock and Scarlett. Forget Nick Fury. Forget Shield, forget the Howling commandos and forget Dum Dum Dugan. Let's even forget Captain America and don't bring up the Punisher. In the 1960's and 70's DC Comics owned military machismo with it's own dark and dreary group of ass kicking yet somber War Comics series.

There was the "
Haunted Tank," the bizarre adventures of the ghost of Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart who protected his descendent, Sgt. Jeb Stuart and his (coincidently), "Stuart" tank crew.

The "Unknown Soldier," was a darker twist on "Captain America" in which a covert and always in disguise super soldier pops up just at the right time and place to do the dirty work for the USA. His only tell, a scratch at the neck to soothe the itch caused by his latex masks.

The cornerstone of DC's war comic brigade was unquestionably Sgt. Rock and his men of Easy Company. This wasn't Joes versus Cobra, shooting laser beams from shiny pretty colored hovercrafts, this was men kneeling in trenches lobbing grenades, wearing torn uniforms and praying to God not to die! By Today's standards, these comics weren't realistic, in that planes could be brought down by a well placed bullet and the Sarge's reckless traits (the precursor to the 80's Rambo-tastic hero never gets shot phenomena) would have killed him by the third page of issue one, but the darker themes of the pointlessness and devastation of war charged out of every somber page.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics seem to be on a role with Batman back and Supes and Wonder Woman on their here comes Sgt. Rock!!! I really wonder if a War Comic, based on War Movies can translate into a War Movie itself. Still, those gritty little stories of the Easy Company deserve a shot, let's hope they get a fair deal and a good cast.

Below, the Hollywood Reported fills us in:
(from HERE)

April 19, 2006

Cox locked up for WB's 'Rock' duty

John Cox has been hired to write "Sgt. Rock," an adaptation of DC Comics' World War II adventure series being produced by Joel Silver for Warner Bros. Pictures. Sgt. Frank Rock was the leader of his infantry unit, Easy Company. He first appeared in a 1959 issue of "Our Army at War." In 1977, with the character's steadily rising popularity, the comic was renamed "Sgt. Rock" and ran until 1988. The property has long been in development at Warners, with such scribes as Brian Helgeland, John Milius, David Peoples, Jeffrey Boam and Steven De Souza having tackled the adaptation.

You also might want to check out a review of an earlier script HERE!

Let's step over to the Wiki-a-tronic 5000:
(found HERE and HERE)

Sgt. Frank Rock is a DC Comics character who has been the most prominent war comics character in the company's history. He originally appeared in a strip in the comic book Our Army at War #81 in 1959 with his unit, Easy Company. The stories, written mainly by Robert Kanigher, and drawn by Joe Kubert, steadily gained popularity, until, in 1977, the name of the comic was changed to Sgt. Rock. The comic ran until Sgt. Rock # 422 released in July 1988.

During World War II, Sgt. Rock fought in the infantry branch of the U.S. Army in the European Theatre and eventually rose to authority within his unit, Easy Company. The unit was made up of a disparate collection of individuals who managed to participate in every major action in the European war. Rock's dogtag number was 409966, which had been, it was claimed, Robert Kanigher's own military serial number.

Sergeant Rock is heavily muscled in the classic depictions by Joe Kubert, and was generally shown with close cropped hair, generally red in color. The classic Rock was usually dressed in olive drab fatigues, with his shirt generally torn during combat to reveal his well muscled physique, with a .45 calibre Thompson submachine gun and .45 calibre Colt M1911A1 automatic pistol as his armament. Oddly, the classic artwork almost always depicts Rock with an M-1 Garand cartridge belt which would be useless to him, as well as two belts of .50 calibre ammunition, which Rock considers lucky charms.

Unlike many contemporary war characters, Rock had a deep loathing for the war, but was grimly loyal to his unit to see it through. This loyalty extends to when he was sent home to be a combat instructor, but insisted on returning to his unit in the field while on leave. Kanigher insisted late in the run of Sgt. Rock that the title character would not survive the war. The ultimate fate of Sgt. Frank Rock is a complicated story. According to legend, he was killed on the last day of the war by the last enemy bullet fired.

Kanigher also mused on possible movie portrayals of Rock, opining in the letters column of Sgt. Rock that Lee Marvin would be "laconic" enough to play the part (not to mention having played a similar character in the film The Big Red One.) Rumours were abundant in the late 1990s that Bruce Willis might portray Rock on the big screen, but to date no movie adaptation has come to light.

Easy Company is the name of a fictional comic book World War II US Army infantry unit led by Sgt. Rock in stories published by DC Comics. In the stories, the unit saw action in every combat zone in the European Theatre. Unlike actual units, the unit has at least one African-American member, which was in defiance of racial segregation policy of the Army.

The Skipper - Easy was always commanded by an officer, usually referred to by Rock as "the skipper" and holding the rank of captain. At least one company commander, a "retread", was shown in the rank of major.

Sergeant Frank Rock - the "topkick" or senior NCO, with the Rank of "Master Sergeant"

Bulldozer - A large, strong and not notably bright member, and Rock's second-in-command. Real name: "Horace Eustace Canfield"

Wildman - A History Professor before the war, noted for his bright red full beard. His nickname derives from turning into a "Wildman" when engaged in battle. Real Name: "Joseph Wildman Schapiro"

Jackie Johnson - an African-American trooper and ex-Heavyweight Champion, whose character was an amalgamation of Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. Notable as one of the first non-stereotypical African American Characters in comics.

Little Sureshot - A Native American who always decorates his helmet with some feathers

Ice Cream Soldier - A small soldier whose nicknames derive in part from being at his best in combat during cold weather, and in always being "cool in combat". Real name: Phil mason.

Four Eyes - A bespectacled soldier and ironically, one of Easy's best sharpshooters

Zack - Easy's original Bazooka man. Lost one arm in combat, but returned for a final mission.

Long Round and Short Round. Zack's replacements on the Bazooka, always working as a team.

Canary - A soldier known for always whistling in any circumstances not requiring silence.

Worrywart - A solid soldier, constantly worrying about whether his number was almost up.

This does not include anonymous replacements and one-time characters who are frequently killed off in the stories. Easy Company's Lieutenants, when they appear at all, are frequently killed off within the first few pages. Letters columns in the 1980s included a roster of all characters introduced into the series; several dozen character names were listed, including some anonymous soldiers.