Fantasy

Paramount is Done Talking Airbender, Professionally

The producers of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender movie adaptation have heard your concerns about the casting of the film and don’t care. Fans responded angrily when it was announced that the lead characters would be portrayed by Caucasian actors. They set up websites, posted on blogs, and even sent letters to the producers of the film. And they don’t care. After a series of angry twitters between himself and fans, producer Frank Marshall gave his final comment:

The casting is complete and we did not discriminate against anyone. I am done talking about it.

At this point, it is clear that Frank Marshall and co. do not care what fans of the show think. Filming has already begun with no casting changes. Round one goes to the producers. Round two? Well, that’s up to us.

If you believe, as I do, that the casting of this film is horribly wrong and insulting to the Asian American community then let your dollars speak and refuse to buy a ticket when the film is released. If it tanks at the box office, we can stop the movie franchise.

Petitions didn’t work. Fan outcry didn’t work. Only dollars will work. The only way to send a clear message that the fan community will not stand for such outrages is for this thing to fail horribly. There’s a youtube channel set up for fans to send in their own boycott movies.

Source: Media Action Network for Asian Americans

Where the Wild Things Are

As always, I was initially skeptical when I heard the news that McG Spike Jones (thanks Marty) was making a live-action Where the Wild Things Are movie. But this looks fantastic! As a monster lover myself, I feel that this movie will capture the spirit of the book. Where the Wild Things Are opens October 16.

The Storm Warriors Go All 300

I nearly messed my pants when the sequel to Storm Riders, The Storm Warriors, was announced. And now we have the trailer. Hm…

Okay, if you never saw 300, this would be UH MAY ZING! But because we have 300 as a template for shooting green screen action flicks, you can’t help but pass this off as somewhat derivative. I really hope not all of the battle scenes are shot this way. There’s something to be said about two armies running at each other over a big desert. That’s such a stable of the epic chop socky genre. I can see that they want to break away from traditional kung fu epic tropes, but this preview reads too much like 300 Goes to China.

UPDATE: Well, there’s another trailer out there. More green screened slow mo. hmmm…

Source: The Storm Warriors

Guest Review of Coraline

Coraline

Angry Zen Minion Tyler Anderson sent in this wonderful guest review of Coraline.

Coraline. Is. The. Shit. Period.

As an avid stop-motion animation fan, I was incredibly excited for Coraline. My excitement was well rewarded with an incredible experience, which excels in almost every aspect of the format. From the backgrounds to the little realistic motions like hair moving and water to the jiggle of overweight tennants, everything is spot on. Consider the fact that Coraline’s hair was made up primarily of wire, and every time that her hair seemed to move it was individual pieces of wire being moved millimeter by millimeter per frame. Seeing it move on screen without feeling like it wasn’t moving naturally was astounding. The 3D is done very well also. It’s not your typical gimmicky 3D where things pop out at you every seven seconds to capitalize on the novelty, instead the entire movie was shot in 3D. You have a perpetual feeling of everything kind of hovering in front of you a little bit off the screen, which was nice, especially when they used it when you weren’t expecting it, like names in the credits hovering above what’s going on onscreen. This felt less like a gimmick and much more like an actual experience.

For those who aren’t acquainted, Coraline, based on a book written by Neil Gaiman and was written for the screen and directed by Harry Selick (of “James and the Giant Peach” and “Nightmare Before Christmas” fame) is the story of Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning,) a 12 year old girl who moves from Michigan to the “Pink Palace Apartments,” a slightly dilapidated, pink three story Victorian. Her mother (Teri Hatcher) and father (John Hodgeman) are working on a gardening magazine and are as a result too stressed and preoccupied for her. This leads to her exploring the house and discovering a little door, which her mother explains, was blocked off when the house was split into apartments. Apartments which are occupied by Mr. “B” Bobinsky, voiced by Ian McShane; a Russian Circus performer, and downstairs are Ms. Forcible and Ms. Spink a pair of elderly, former burlesque performers who have a collection of Scottie dogs, living and dead, and are voiced by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, respectively. Upon hearing a squeaking coming from downstairs late one night, Coraline heads to the source of the noise, noticing that the previously shut little door, is open. She crawls through to a world where her “other” mother and “other” father have been waiting for her. Her “other” mother is slightly thinner and much more attentive than that of her real mother, offering all manner of treats and her “other” father is much more eccentric, playing jaunty tunes and gardening in an automated, preying mantis shaped gardening machine. The only other major distinction between her two sets of parents being the button eyes her “other” parents are sporting, which are both whimsical and very creepy at the same time. Needless to say things are not entirely how they seem. And what looked as though it was the perfect place for her starts to turn into a twisted realm.

This is a great movie for all ages. In a time where children’s animation and entertainment is catered more to short attention spans and mass marketing, Coraline takes it’s time. Case in point; I took my little sister along, she enjoyed the movie, but the first thing she did was complain that it was too long. At only one hour and fourty minutes I felt differently. Coraline allows itself to touch on the creepy undertones of the movie. Scenes with the “other” mother and “other” father, despite being full of whimsical imagery still managed to creep me out a little bit, which I felt was perfect it feels very reminiscent of Seleck’s other works, which is by no means a bad thing. One of the best parts of this movie is the fact that unlike other animated features, the voiceover work doesn’t at any time feel annoying or grating. The only part of Coraline I felts could have been done without was that of Wybie. He and his “other” equivalent are the tagalong charactrs for Coraline through their native worlds and he seemed to serve no purpose other than to introduce the Cat (voiced by Keith David,) which, while it doesn’t speak in the real world, serves as a guide for Coraline through the “other” world. In short, Coraline is excellently animated, very well acted and is a visual treat. I would very highly recommend seeing it in 3D if your local cinema supports it.

Thanks, Tyler! Brilliant review.

Audrey and I caught this on Saturday and absolutely fell in love with the movie. It was also our first 3D movie experience and I totally agree with Tyler. If it’s available, you MUST see it in 3D. A totally new movie experience for me and well worth the ticket price.

Slumdog Firelord

Dev Patel

Dev Patel has been cast as Prince Zuko replacing that boy band dude, Jesse McCartney, in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. I hear Patel is quite good in the Slumdog Millionaire. It’s on the list of movies I’d like to see, but I haven’t yet had the pleasure. Still supremely annoyed that Dante Basco isn’t Zuko, but at least now the principles aren’t completely Caucasian.

The casting for this film was probably doomed from the start. Were this a series of novels, no one would care what the cast looked like. But since there’s such an Asian influence in the design of the world and the characters, seeing real people who look so vastly different from the animated characters is horribly disappointing. Patel doesn’t quite fit what I would expect of a Zuko, but at least he’s Asian.

Satisfied? Hardly. As much as I bristle against non diverse casts, I hate token minority casting even more. It’s certainly better than nothing, I’ll grant them that. But it’s far from what fans have been hoping for.

Thanks to AZM Ally Kensei Dave and AZM Minion Tyler Anderson for sending over the news. I was actually gonna drop this yesterday, but I wanted to sit on it and mull it about before I launched into another silly tirade.

[Via Variety]

Dawn Treader Docks at Fox

Narnia

One month after Disney kicked Narnia’s Dawn Treader out of port, the property has landed at Fox. Voyage of the Dawn Treader will begin filming at the end of this summer for a holiday 2010 release date. I expect the lead kids will return to reprise their roles. As much as I didn’t want to see Prince Caspian, I think the series would suffer greatly if they recast.

Fox’s recent lawsuit over Watchmen doesn’t make them geek friendly. But the core audience for Narnia doesn’t seem to be all that geeky. I wonder, is this new life for the franchise or the kiss of death?

[Via Variety]

Disney Dumps Narnia

Narnia

If you ever pondered whether or not the modern Disney was only interested in egregiously ginormous sacks of cashola, ponder no further. Disney is dropping the Narnia franchise citing “budgetary and logistical” reasons.

Actually, looking at the numbers puts this move into perspective. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe brought in $292 million domestically and $453 million world wide for a total of $743 million in 2005. Caspian took in $141 million and $278 million world wide for a total of $419 million this year. If the downward trend continues, the third film will skirt dangerously close to the break-even line. Disney is quitting while they’re ahead. Who can really blame them?

Does this downward trend signal wanning interest in the fantasy genre? Golden Compass didn’t do so well domestically, and despite a strong overseas showing, the producers pulled the plug. Eragon and Stardust didn’t perform well at the box office. Could it be that certain fantasy properties just don’t reach an audience? Harry Potter will certainly make mince meat out of the box office this year. Are the Potter films an exception?

I would really hate to see studios shying away from the fantasy genre. Maybe it’s time for a genre makeover. So, dear readers, in 2009, what would you do to help get fantasy back on its feet?

[Via Hollywood Reporter]

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