This Week’s Ketchup features news stories about new entries in the Godzilla, Evil Dead, G.I. Joe and Bourne franchises, as well as new roles for Johnny Depp, Edward Norton, Jennifer Lopez and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This Week’s Top Story
SPIKE LEE RETURNS TO BROOKLYN AS MOOKIE FROM DO THE RIGHT THING
As this writer compiles the Weekly Ketchup each Friday, sometimes it seems like many movie websites overlook some of the biggest stories. This one is definitely in that category. While many sites continued to cover last week’s news about Spike Lee’s involvement with the English language remake of South Korean thriller Oldboy, a potentially much bigger story didn’t even always get a mention. Spike Lee has started filming an independent movie called Red Hook Summer in Brooklyn, NY and in addition to directing, he’s also acting… as Mookie from Do the Right Thing. That’s right, Red Hook Summer appears to be a de facto sequel to the film that many consider to be not just Spike Lee’s best film, but arguably one of the best films of the 1980s. Red Hook Summer is described as a story about an Atlanta man spending the summer in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, which is also home to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood (AKA Bed-Stuy) depicted in Lee’s controversial 1989 drama. Spike Lee directed, wrote, produced and starred in Do the Right Thing as Mookie, a young pizza delivery man caught in the middle of a racial incident at Sal’s Pizzaria (where he works). That’s one way to describe Do the Right Thing, but the reason it’s considered a modern classic is that the film succeeds even without the socio-political elements. So, the question now is whether Red Hook Summer has what it takes to live up to the promise of being an implied Do the Right Thing sequel/spin off/whatever-it-is? There’s also no word yet as to whether other Do the Right Thing costars will also be returning (such as, say, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Rosie Perez or Martin Lawrence).
Fresh Developments This Week
#1 JOHNNY DEPP’S PRODUCING NIGHT STALKER AND PAUL REVERE MOVIES
Walt Disney Pictures is looking to keep their Jack Sparrow in-house by aligning with Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil production company on two ambitious movie projects that Depp is likely to star in. The two projects are a big screen adaptation of the classic (but short lived) 1970s supernatural thriller TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and a historical drama about Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. The Night Stalker project is described as an adaptation of the original 1972 TV movie that led to the reporter character of Carl Kolchak (as played by Darren McGavin) getting his own TV show. Kolchak: The Night Stalker featured a different supernatural-themed investigation every week, but that TV movie’s story was all about a serial killer that Kolchak suspects might actually be a real vampire. If Depp’s Night Stalker sticks with that story, it can be seen as something of a follow up to the Dark Shadows movie (also based on an early 1970s cult hit TV show) in which Depp is playing the vampire Barnabas Collins (directed by Tim Burton… of course). As for the Paul Revere project, the movie is expected to focus on the 24 hour period in April, 1775, during which Boston silversmith Paul Revere made his ride from Charlestown to Lexington to warn the provincial congress (and all other Revolutionary forces he met along the way) of the incoming British advance. Johnny Depp and his coproducer are currently looking for screenwriters to work on both projects.
#2 HAWKEYE AND THE INCREDIBLE HULK FACE OFF IN THE BOURNE LEGACY
It’s been known for a while that Jeremy Renner will be following up his role as Hawkeye in The Avengers with yet another franchise entry: The Bourne Legacy. Rather than playing Matt Damon’s role of Jason Bourne, Jeremy Renner will be playing another government assassin trained by a department even more nefarious and dangerous than Bourne’s. It?s been known for a while that Rachel Weisz will be playing the new agent’s love interest. This week, however, brought news of who is in talks for the role of the film’s villain, and it’s Edward Norton. If Norton signs, The Bourne Legacy will potentially be the answer to a future trivia contest. Before Jeremy Renner signed on to play Hawkeye in The Avengers, Edward Norton was at one time expected to reprise the role of Dr. Bruce Banner from The Incredible Hulk. The Hulk production was the focus of many media stories involving the script, which Edward Norton reportedly rewrote (although he wasn?t credited by the WGA in the end). We may never know the exact answer to how it happened, but Mark Ruffalo was eventually cast as Banner/Hulk instead of Edward Norton. Anyway, back to The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy (Duplicity, Michael Clayton), who also cowrote the first three Bourne movies, will be directing the fourth movie this fall for Universal Pictures, from a script he cowrote with his brother Dan Gilroy (Two for the Money; cowriter of The Fall).
#3 EVIL DEAD 4 IS FINALLY, REALLY, ACTUALLY HAPPENING
For horror fans, there may have been really only one news item worth even mentioning this week. It started with a tweet from actor Bruce Campbell, “Believe in the remake, dawg!” The remake Campbell was talking about is the movie that has sometimes been called Evil Dead 4. The news that pre-production is starting in Detroit ends an 18 year wait that began the day after Army of Darkness came out in 1993. Sam Raimi is handing the directing job off to young Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez, for whom Evil Dead 4 (or whatever it’s eventually called) will be his feature debut, following a couple of shorts including one called Panic Attack!. Fede Alvarez also cowrote the remake script with his Panic Attack! cowriter Rodo Sayagues. However, their script is now getting another rewrite from a surprise source: Academy Award winner Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body). Although no plot details are known yet, as a remake, we can guess that it will probably be about someone finding a book called the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in a remote cabin, which then leads to the unleashing of “deadites,” which are reanimated body parts and corpses possessed by evil spirits. The original Evil Dead producing team of Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell are all shepherding the project through Ghost House Pictures, and Lionsgate is handling international sales for the film’s eventual release. There’s also a strong chance that Bruce Campbell will appear in the remake in some form, although it’s not yet known if he will be playing Ash, or some other character. Finally, you can click here to see the short film Panic Attack! that inspired Raimi, Tapert and Campbell to entrust Alvarez with their most cherished horror franchise. There’s no animated deer heads, but it’s still pretty cool.
#4 HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER’S BIG THREE ARE THE DARK KNIGHT, MAN OF STEEL AND… GODZILLA
Screenwriter David Goyer may have started with movies like Kickboxer 2: The Road Back, Demonic Toys and the TV movie Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, but he really did work his way up to the big time. Later on, he worked on movies like Dark City and the three Blade movies, and today he is working with director and producer Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight Rises and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Batman and Superman are obviously larger-than-life characters, but Goyer’s next movie has them beat, handily. He has signed with Legendary Pictures (the studio also behind those superhero franchises) and Warner Bros to do a rewrite of the reboot of Godzilla. Screenwriter David Callaham (cowriter of Doom, The Expendables) wrote the first draft, which David Goyer will now rewrite. Movie fans understandably may have bad vibes about Godzilla, following the critically-panned disaster of a movie that was the 1998 Godzilla. However, this new Godzilla relaunch project is expected to have nothing in common with that film except a title and a coproduction credit with Toho, the Japanese company behind the classic monster franchise. Normally, this might be the part where I explain what Godzilla is about, but really, if I have to do that… you’re reading the wrong column. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros hope to have Godzilla ready to stomp back into theaters possibly as soon as 2013.
#5 MICHAEL CHIKLIS AND JENNIFER LOPEZ MAY JOIN JASON STATHAM IN PARKER
Parker is the name of the latest movie based upon the criminal anti-hero character created by author Donald E. Westlake in a series of novels. Previous movies based on the character (but frequently with a different name) include Point Blank, The Outfit and Payback. It has been known for a while that Parker will be directed by Taylor Hackford (Ray, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Devil’s Advocate). However, enough casting news has happened since Parker was last mentioned in this column that it’s definitely time for an update. First off, the role of Parker himself will be played by Jason Statham, star of the Transporter and Crank franchises. Jennifer Lopez recently started negotiations to play Parker’s love interest. And this week, Michael Chiklis, AKA Vic Mackey from The Shield, signed on to play Parker’s nemesis. Although the nature of Chiklis’ character isn’t precisely known yet, many online fans this week have expressed hope that this will be an opportunity for Chiklis to flex his tougher, meaner acting muscles. Filming of Parker starts in New Orleans next month.
#6 ERIC NORTHMAN FROM TRUE BLOOD STICKING WITH THE VIKING THING
Some actors have a niche, and they just stick with what gets them steady work. It’s such an obvious fact that it’s probably not even worth mentioning. Consider Alexander Skarsgard, who plays Eric Northman, the former Viking vampire in HBO’s True Blood, for example. When Thor was casting up, there was a good while when Skarsgard was in the running, and was considered by many fans to be the obvious choice, because, really, who else could Marvel possibly cast? When the guy who played Kirk’s dad in Star Trek got the role instead, many people were frankly dumbfounded. People thought “Norse” and “blonde” and “tall,” and Alexander Skarsgard seemed like almost the only choice (sorry, Tyler Mane!). That notion stuck around when his dad was cast in Thor, and he wasn’t. Well, Alexander Skarsgard’s big screen Viking ship came in this week with the news that he is attached to star in and produce a Warner Bros “epic” with the working title of The Vanguard. Skarsgard will play one of two Viking brothers who are banished to North America, and so they must spend the rest of the movie attempting to get back home to Sweden (Skarsgard is himself Swedish). Screenwriter Chris Boal, who doesn’t yet have any produced movies to his credit, is working on the script. This was a big week for Chris Boal, because he also signed another deal with Warner Bros to work on an untitled ancient war epic about Roman general Gaius Julius Caesar, who went on to become Rome’s first, you know… Caesar. Warner Bros is seeing the project as a two movie franchise with the first movie ending with Caesar taking control of Rome, and the second movie would address the rest of his life (Cleopatra, “Et Tu, Brutus?”, etc). Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning), who is also directing the Clash of the Titans sequel for Warner Bros, is attached to direct the first Julius Caesar movie.
Rotten Ideas of the Week
#3 ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S WILL-HE-WON’T-HE RETURN TO MOVIES DRAMA ENDS WITH THE LAST STAND
The year 2011 has seen Arnold Schwarzenegger at the center of a rollercoaster ride revolving around the question of how he will make his return to movies after several years as the Governor of California. The year started with several different projects being mentioned, including a possible movie based upon a planned animated TV series called The Governator (in which he would have played a superhero who fights crime alongside Maria Shriver and their four kids). However, that was all before Schwarzenegger’s extramarital misadventures were made public in May, which very quickly led to Schwarzenegger announcing that he was putting his acting career on hold. Just two months was apparently long enough for Schwarzenegger to recover, because this week Lionsgate announced that the Austrian Oak will indeed make his return in The Last Stand. Schwarzenegger will play ex-LAPD officer Sheriff Owens, whose sleepy border town surprisingly becomes the last line of defense against a fugitive drug kingpin who is speeding towards Mexico with a car full of hostages and violent gang members. The Last Stand will also mark the English language debut of Korean thriller director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil, A Tale of Two Sisters). This story is Rotten for other reasons, too, but the clincher was a comment from Kim Jee-Woon, which seems to be trying a bit too hard to draw a connection to one of the best action films of all time. Here’s what he had to say, “[It’s] kind of a combination of Die Hard and High Noon where (the latter) was about protecting something very important that needs to be protected, while Die Hard is a very drawn-out, long process that almost kills someone in the process. So my film will be something that has to be very well protected and, in the process, we almost die protecting it in a way.”
#2 RAY STEVENSON TO BE VILLAINOUS AS FIREFLY IN G.I. JOE 2
Ray Stevenson is one of those fan favorite actors who unfortunately also frequently signs on for movies that he seems too good for. Stevenson arguably made his reputation playing Titus Pullo on the HBO series Rome, and his filmography also includes roles in King Arthur, The Book of Eli, The Other Guys, The Vampire’s Assistant, Thor (as Volstagg) and of course, as the third Punisher star in Punisher: War Zone. His next movie role will be Porthos in this fall’s The Three Musketeers, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (the Resident Evil guy, not the Boogie Nights guy). This week, Stevenson added yet another potentially disappointing movie to his filmography by signing with Paramount to play the villain Firefly in G.I. Joe 2: Cobra Strikes. Like returning characters Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, Firefly is described as a “ninja master,” as well as an expert saboteur. Channing Tatum (Duke), Ray Park (Snake Eyes) and Lee Byung-hun (Storm Shadow) are the only cast members expected to return. In addition to Ray Stevenson, the other new cast members revealed thus far include D.J. Cotrona (Flint), Dwayne Johnson (Roadblock), Adrianne Palicki (Lady Jaye), RZA (Blind Master) and Elodie Yung (Jinx). Director Jon M. Chu (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D) will start filming G.I. Joe 2: Cobra Strikes later this summer, from a script by the Zombieland team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Paramount Pictures has scheduled G.I. Joe 2: Cobra Strikes for release in August, 2012.
#1 THE AKIRA REMAKE MAY GET AN UNKNOWN DIRECTOR
Back in May, Albert Hughes, codirector of The Book of Eli, From Hell and Menace II Society with his brother Allen, dropped out of Warner Bros’ planned live-action adaptation of the manga series Akira. Now, Warner Bros is in talks with director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Orphan) to take on the adaptation instead. Movie fans probably best know Akira as the basis for the 1988 anime film of the same title, which regularly tops critics’ lists as either the best, or one of the best, anime films of all time. Akira tells the story of two teenage motorcycle gang members who become involved with a secret government experiment that causes one of them to become a super-powered mutant with catastrophic mental abilities. The project has been the subject of much fan outrage for a variety of reasons. One issue is the idea of adult actors like Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling being considered. Besides age, there’s also the question of Akira being Anglicized, with the setting changed from Neo Tokyo to Neo Manhattan. Besides all that, there’s the very idea of doing a de facto live action remake of Akira at all. Specific to this news, there’s also Jaume Collet-Serra’s Tomatometer record to consider, which is entirely rated “Rotten,” with his best reviewed film (Unknown) only getting a Tomatometer score of 56%. For so many reasons, Warner Bros’ continued efforts for a live action Akira movie is the week’s most Rotten Idea.
For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook or a RT forum message.