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Louis Leterrier

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Bad Magic, Badder McAvoy.

Are you watching closely? Fast Five meets Zombieland meets The Prestige as Jesse Eisenberg does magic and Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine finish off their post-TDKR house payments in the full trailer for Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me, also with Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Common, and Michael Kelly. Looks pretty goofy…but maybe.

Also in the trailer bin, and NSFW: After working with Danny Boyle in Trance, James McAvoy takes another step towards fully embracing his inner Ewan MacGregor in the trailer for Jon S. Baird’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Filth, also with Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt and Imogen Poots. Never read the book myself, although the Bad Lieutenant meme is a bit of a cliche at this point.

Rewrite of the Titans.

The most drastic changes in the film come at the expense of the gods. Many watching the movie wonder why Danny Huston would have been hired to play Poseidon when he has almost absolutely nothing to do in the film; the answer is that nearly two thirds of the business with the gods was edited out of the film, and the very tenor of the god scenes was changed in fundamental ways.

As the unnecessary sequel train leaves the station, CHUD’s Devin Faraci details the many major post-production rewrites (re: studio-mandated dumbing down) that afflicted Louis Leterrier’s recent Clash of the Titans. Unclear if it would have salvaged the movie, but the original version does sound a good bit better than what ended up on screen.

Made of Stone.

After about a half hour or so of stilted, mind-numbing, make-you-want-to-claw-your-eyes-out exposition, Louis Leterrier’s interminable remake of Clash of the Titans, for some reason or another, takes a brief moment to badmouth Bubo, the metal owl from the 1981 version of the film. Well, say what you will about that goofy Harry Hamlin-Burgess Meredith-Lawrence Olivier flick and its Minervan comic-relief droid — At least it had heart.

This whiteboy-angsty retread of Titans, on the other hand, basically has no pulse whatsoever. It’s just a lumbering, CGI-ridden box office monstrosity not unlike its Cloverfield-ish Kraken, and one that could desperately use the same spark of life Zeus ostensibly once infused in mortal men. You remember that godawful tag line from the first trailer — “Titans will Clash“? Well, the FX processors notwithstanding, that’s about the level of effort put forth by this movie, as in none at all. Granted, Clash isn’t quite as awful as last month’s woeful Alice in Wonderland, but it’s definitely in the same lo-rent ballpark.

This iteration of Clash begins with a starfield and the demi-goddess Io (Gemma Arterton, late of Quantum of Solace, soon of Prince of Persia) in full expository mode, a la Virginia Madsen at the start of Dune. (Or, for that matter, Cate Blanchett in Fellowship — Leterrier explicitly bites from PJ’s Tolkien trilogy several times here — See also all the very LotR-like pans of Perseus & co. walking through Glorious Nature to wherever they’re going next.) So, anyways, this backstory is pretty standard — Zeus defeats the Titans, he, Poseidon and Hades divvy up the universe, etc. etc.

And eventually, along comes Perseus (Sam Worthington, more on him in a bit), a son of Zeus found lost at sea as a babe by a fisherman (Pete Postlethwaite, paying the mortgage). Unlike earlier iterations, this Perseus grows up a sullen, wrathful sort, and particularly after Hades (Ralph Fiennes, wasted) drowns his entire family as an afterthought to a fly-by shooting of sorts. Bent on revenge for these murders, Perseus soon enlists on a suicide mission to defeat Hade’s powerful pet, the fearsome Kraken — which, thanks to a bit of inopportune blasphemy by Cassiopeia, the queen of Argos (Polly Walker, wasted), will either be destroying the city or devouring its sensitive-soul, Peace Corps-ish princess, Andromeda (Alexa Davalos, unremarkable) in ten days time.

So this glum, grim, and altogether peeved demigod sets out with a team of soldiers — let’s just go ahead and call them the body count — to find a way to stop the Kraken, which may or may not include fending off giant scorpions, battling Calibos (Jason Flemyng), bartering with witches, and wrangling with Medusa (Natalia Vodianova). And, given the subject matter, it’s almost weird how boring all of this turns out to be. Partly because Perseus’ fighting style throughout is basically “run-in-the-other-direction-from-the-CGI-thingy.” Partly because the script…well, sucks. It’s just bad one-liners and lazy exposition all the live-long day. And partly because, aside from a pair of Asterix-and-Obelix-style hunters who tag along for the ride (Ashraf Barhom and Mouloud Achour), nobody’s having any fun whatsoever here. It’s all grimacing and cursing the Gods for this, that, or the other thing. Just deadly dull stuff.

Is this innate boringness Sam Worthington’s fault? Well…maybe. I said after the also-terrible Terminator: Salvation that Worthington “has presence, and I could see him being a A-lister if given the right material.” But after Avatar and this flick, I’m revising that statement. He’s had three bites at the apple now, and, while I suspect some female or gay readers may disagree — and making some allowances for the fact that, all three times, he probably spent a good bit of his days on set reacting to a green tennis ball — he’s really starting to come across as a charisma-free zone to me.

But, that being said, everybody here, with the possible exception of Casino Royale‘s Mads Mikkelsen, seems devoid of charisma here, even usual stalwarts like Liam Neeson and Fiennes (both phoning it in, as is brother Poseidon, Danny Huston — But, to be fair, Huston only has one line.) True, handsome/pretty stiffs like Worthington and Arterton so far seem to be shapely blanks no matter what film they’re in. But somehow or another, this movie has the power of Medusa over everyone involved: It just seems to suck the life right out of people. My advice, if it’s not too late: Don’t attempt to look this one in the eyes. By the Gods, save yourselves and turn away.

The Kraken meets Dokken.

Hey, Perseus: Cloverfield called — they want their Kraken back. The Avatar trailer bounty continues with another 300-ish trailer for Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans remake, with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Pete Postlethwaite, Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Mads Mikkelsen, Jason Flemyng, and Alexa Davalos. Eh, ok. They’re still angling too hard for the meathead demographic imho, but at least they lost that embarrassing “Titans will Clash! tagline from the last go-round.

Phi Slamma Gamma.

Of course, the Celts weren’t the only Big Green Guys going on a rampage this past week. Like much of America, I dutifully caught Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk last Saturday, partly to fill the cinematic void until the more-anticipated summer movies return (Next stop, June 27: Wall-E and Wanted.) And, well, if you haven’t seen it yet, this iteration of Hulk is about what you’d expect after Ang Lee’s notable misfire: Namely, it’s two hours of mostly mindless, Gamma and CGI-enhanced action sequences, strung together by generous heapings of Marvel continuity pr0n and a few bare threads of story, ripped mostly from the old TV show. Now, ever since Marvel hired the director of The Transporter to take another crack at Banner, this is exactly what the Hulk relaunch was billed to be. And since I too desired to see more “Hulk Smash!” from the Ang Lee version, I find it hard to be too down on these proceedings, and I’d say I enjoyed myself most of the time. Still, there’s not much here here. If you’re not a “Marvel guy” and just feel like taking in a super hero movie to whet the appetite for Hellboy 2 and The Dark Knight, I’d spend your money on Iron Man.

After a spiffy quick-edit reintroduction to the Hulk’s origin (albeit without Rick Jones or a gamma-nuke), Leterrier’s Incredible Hulk begins its first hour with a man on the run. It’s been 157 days since Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) last went all Tyler Durden on us, and he’s now hiding out in the sprawling slums of Rio de Janeiro, trying to stay off the grid, and otherwise working to keep a lockdown on his anger issues. But the US military — represented by one take-no-guff, mustachioed general, Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) and his deadly, if aging, new Special Ops assassin, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) — wants its potential Gamma-weapon back, and they will follow Banner to all ends of the earth to reacquire it, including the City of God. The first attempt at capture results in an “incident,” prompting Banner to head back to the States to look for a cure (with the help of his old flame, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler)) and the government to consider growing its own enhanced supersoldier (with the aid of the WWII-era superserum that helped bring forth Captain America.) Alas, Specialist Blonsky just can’t get enough, and before long he’s toyed with the forces of nature enough to make of himself an Abomination. This is what the military experts refer to as “blowback”…

And commence the smashing. But fear not, faithful readers! From the aforementioned super-serum to the Tony Stark sighting (now featured in the commercials), we have enough nods to the expanded Marvel universe amidst the carnage to make even Comic-Book-Guy blush. We’ve got S.H.I.E.L.D., we’ve got Doc Samson, we’ve got The Leader. (Fans of the TV show, take note also of the Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno sightings.) On one hand, for a old-school comic reader like me (albeit not a huge fan of The Hulk), the fact that Marvel was taking their properties to the next level and introducing interfilm continuity was the most exciting thing about this project. On the other, all the fanboy nods throughout made this film feel somewhat inchoate and unformed on its own. (What’s more, making it seem like the entire Marvel universe is in play carries its own pitfalls. When Banner is first seen discussing a cure online with a mysterious “Mr. Blue” out of New York City, I couldn’t believe they’d managed to shoehorn Reed Richards into the film. When it turned out to be someone else, I found myself let down.)

Finally, I know that I was among those asking for more mayhem and destruction from Ang Lee’s film, and that, as a character, the Hulk doesn’t really have any other setting other than “destroy things.” Still, by the time the Hulk and the Abomination engage in a climactic CGI-slugfest in my old ‘hood, I was well on the way to checking out. Part of the problem, I think, is that the fight here plays almost exactly like the final Iron Monger sequence of Iron Man. Our hero must face a bigger, more powerful eeeevil version of himself, and occasionally ensure that his significant other isn’t in the line of fire. If we’re running that show again, to be honest, I’d rather watch it with Downey and the Dude than with these two pixellated monstrosities. All that being said, Leterrier, Norton & co. have done a passable job with this Hulk do-over, and — as with Iron Man — if they’re getting the gang back together for another run, you could probably count me in for a matinee. Just maybe bulk the story up a little more next go, fellas. Too much smashing make Hulk brain tired.

Banner Bulks. | Harry Splits.

Hulk smash? Or does Hulk whine for two hours about his condition like last time? The rather underwhelming teaser for Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk is now online. (I had hopes for Norton, but it looks like, if anyone saves this film from summer mediocrity, it’ll be Tim Roth.) Meanwhile, Harry’s seventh year at Hogwarts, Deathly Hallows, has been split into two films, both directed by Order‘s David Yates and coming out in 2010 and 2011 respectively. If it’s at all like the book, I guess there was just too much camping in the English countryside to fit in one film.

Vigilantes and Vulcans.

Also, some casting news that emerged on the eve of Comic-Con: First, the Watchmen cast is now official — yes, it’s finally happening — and it is as rumored (along with Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Grey’s Anatomy — um, ok — as The Comedian.) And, for the trekkies out there, it seems Matthew Quinto, a.k.a. Heroes Big Bad Sylar, has been cast as Starfleet Academy-era Spock for J.J. Abrams’ Trek movie. (Also, strange to discover from this article that Abrams and Greg Grunberg, the mind-reading cop of Heroes, are childhood best friends.) Now, Quinto is a good physical match…a highly logical choice. But Sam Rockwell as James T. Kirk? That’s genius. (Spock pic not official — I found it here.) Update: Another casting note: Tim Blake Nelson joins Louis Leterrier’s Incredible Hulk revamp as Dr. Samuel Sterns (a.k.a. The Leader), further swelling an already ridiculously tricked-out cast for a remake of a movie made less than five years ago. But, hey, gift horses and all that.

Hurt v. Hulk, Norrin from Cincinnatti, Matt takes Mjolnir?

In Marvel comic-to-film news, William Hurt joins Louis Letterier’s increasingly-stacked The Incredible Hulk as Gen. Thad “Thunderbolt” Ross. (The movie, it may be remembered, already stars Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, and Tim Roth.) And, also rumored to be in the works: a Silver Surfer film written by J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 (Will the character have any life in him after FF2 this weekend? I somehow doubt it) and a Thor film directed by Matthew Vaughn of Layer Cake and Stardust. (Ooh…can we get Beta Ray Bill?)

Mr. Orange, meet Mr. Green.

I have to say, I continue to be completely thrown by what’s emerging from Louis Leterrier’s Incredible Hulk do-over. Now joining Ed Norton as Bruce Banner are Liv Tyler as the love interest (Betty Ross, a.k.a. Jennifer Connelly in the Ang Lee version) and, more interestingly, Tim Roth as the villain, Emil Blonsky a.k.a. Abomination. Norton v. Roth in a chew-and-smash-the-scenery contest? That should be great fun.

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