Weekly Ketchup

Weekly Ketchup: Branagh directs Thor, Seagal vs. aliens?

Plus news about Warner Bros' Yogi Bear movie

by | October 3, 2008 | Comments

This week’s Ketchup sees the announcements of two movies with ties to the JFK conspiracy theories, the obligatory 1980s remake project, and lots of news for comic book projects.


If there’s one thing that always made Thor stand out as a character and a comic to me, it was his vaguely-Shakespearean way of speaking. I don’t know if Stan Lee intended it, but he basically educated generations of kids about antiquated words like “thou”, “thee” and “doth”, and it made Thor seem even more “bad ass” along the way. Thor putting his big stone hammer beatdown on some troll, yelling something like “Verily, thou will not stand!”; you just don’t get better than that in classic comics. Walt Simonson’s 1980s run was also great at that. And so, it makes a brilliant kind of perfect sense that Marvel is negotiating to put the job of directing Thor in the hands of Kenneth Branagh, who has built his reputation on his adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. With a script full of Thor-speak, Branagh will be the guy to make sure that the actors are able to speak that way without sounding, you know, really lame. And now, I will do a little of speculating. Might Marvel also have an eye on getting Branagh to also play Thor’s human alter-ego, the meek, crippled Dr. Donald Blake? Branagh obviously doesn’t have the frame or stature to play Thor himself, but he seems like a very good choice to play Blake, but again, that’s just me guessing. Like Robert Downey, Jr., Kenneth Branagh is an actor who seems ripe for breaking out from the B list into being a major star. Branagh’s got the second star spot in Valkyrie coming next year (presuming that Tom Cruise-pirate-looking-Nazi movie doesn’t flop), and if he were to star in Thor, that might just do the trick for his career.


Warner Bros has apparently given up on their Scooby-Doo film franchise, but they have another Hanna-Barbera classic cartoon in mind as their next animated/live action smash up: Yogi Bear. Although the actual 1961 Yogi Bear cartoon only ran for one season, there was a previous Yogi Bear (animated) movie in 1964, and Yogi starred in several follow-up series, usually ensemble pieces like Yogi’s Space Race (yes, a bear in space), most of which were kind of low rent, IMO. Despite not technically being a hit character, Yogi Bear is definitely a cultural icon, with phrases like “smarter than the average bear” and “pic-a-nic basket” being instantly identifiable. Yogi Bear will be a combination of CGI animation (Yogi and Boo Boo) and live action (Ranger Smith and Jellystone Park), to be directed by Ash Brannon (co-director of Surf’s Up) and written by Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia (cowriters of Surviving Christmas).


You would be challenged to come up with a director/actor match that has produced more classic films consistently than Martin Scorsese and Robert de Niro (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, etc). So, it is very good news this week that they are reteaming for #9 with I Heard You Paint Houses, an adaptation of a book about Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor organizer who claimed to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, and to have been involved in the Bay of Pigs and having knowledge about the assassination of JFK. The title is an allusion to a mobster slang of “painting houses”, referring to blood splatter on walls. The mobster tell all aspect of this movie feels a lot like Goodfellas, but with a bigger scope. Paramount is the studio behind I Heard You Paint Houses, from a script by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, American Gangster).


Jack Black is reteaming with the writers of Kung Fu Panda for Universal Pictures on an untitled live-action spy spoof that is basically a take-off of the Jason Boune series. Black is to play a character who wakes up on a beach in Cuba with amnesia, so he assumes that he is really a deadly secret agent, ala the Bourne movies. The best thing about Kung Fu Panda was arguably the writing, and Jack Black has done this sort of physical comedy before (Tropic Thunder, Nacho Libre), so there might be promise here. That Universal is the studio behind the Bourne series can’t possibly be a coincidence.


Although this year’s Diary of the Dead was a certified corpse at the box office, director George A. Romero started filming this week in Ontario on an untitled project which reportedly has the production working title of Blank of the Dead (the “blank” to be filled in later, obviously). The movie is set on an island, so I’m just going to guess here that maybe the title will be Island of the Dead (regardless of the previous movies with that title). Romero wrote and is directing the movie, about the residents of a remote island whose relatives are rising from their graves, and there’s not a single person in the cast I’ve ever heard of.


How could a week go by in Hollywood in 2008 without a remake of a 1980 movie being announced? This time, it’s the Mickey Rourke/Robert de Niro Southern-fried voodoo/magic-infused movie, Angel Heart, which is being produced by former New Line Cinema big shot, Michael de Luca (Blade, Boogie Nights). This is an interesting remake, because my initial reaction is “ah, come on, stop with the remakes, already!”, but then I remember my Remake Rule. Which is: remakes are okay if the original movie was flawed. And, Angel Heart, although nostalgia wants to remember only the best (Lisa Bonet sex scenes, Robert de Niro being all evil), was definitely a flawed movie. It was over long, and borderline boring/pretentious. So, I’m going to give the Angel Heart remake the benefit of the doubt, and allow that the basic concept could result in a better movie.


This week, three separate stories about DC Comics superhero movies all strangely touched upon the same subject: filming starts in 2009, two of which are specifically in the spring of 2009. Tying all three together, I have to wonder if this is a direct result of the recent Warner Bros/DC Comics conclave about how best to take on Marvel. Movie people in Chicago are being told to get ready for the third Christopher Nolan Batman project. Kevin Spacey is saying that he’s prepping for another Superman in 2009. And producer Donald De Line (The Italian Job) says Green Lantern is being fast-tracked for a spring, 2009 production start. Of those, the most exciting news is the Green Lantern greenlight, because that is a character with a lot of big screen promise. The most interesting is the Kevin Spacey news, because it runs a bit counter to things we’ve heard, such as the possibility of a post-Singer reboot that probably wouldn’t include Spacey as Lex Luthor. All three are huge titles, and if they all really did film in 2009, would give Warner Bros (which also has some Harry Potter movies) probably the largest 2010/2011 schedule, even bigger than Paramount’s Marvel slate of Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers (which was confirmed this week as going to that studio).


The slow creeping doom of age and impending death is closing in on Steven Seagal, age 57, and so he is trying to get Hollywood to pony up some cash to make Under Siege 3. But oh, being a surprisingly limber chef on a train or a boat won’t be enough time around. Talking to MTV, Seagal says he wants Under Siege 3 to be “more mystical, or maybe extraterrestial in nature.” That’s right, Seagal wants to beat up aliens. MTV speculates that he means something like Under Siege in Space, but I think it probably be more like he’s a chef on a boat, and then it turns out there’s aliens on the boat. Personally, I think what Seagal should do with Under Siege 3 is just have his chef working at a restaurant, and he’s constantly thinking there’s bad guys attacking, but it’s really just, you know, the shrimp delivery guy. That could be comedy gold.


Talking to IESB.net, director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) gave us our first insight into what the planned 300 sequel will be about: the year of Spartan battles inbetween the Battle of Thermopylae depicted in 300, and the Battle of Plataea, from which the film’s narrator was seen in the flash forwards. What Snyder and Warner Bros have to wait for, for more details, is for Frank Miller to actually write the graphic novel sequel to 300, for them to adapt. So, what happened in that year? From what I can tell, the biggest event was a month later, in the naval Battle of Salamis, which involved fleets from dozens of Greek cities, just one of which (and not one of the larger) was from Sparta. So, will Miller’s new book focus on sea battles more than naked dudes with shields?

#10 JFK Part Deux?

Producer John Davis (The Firm, I, Robot), through his deal with 20th Century Fox, has procured the rights to an upcoming expose book called Good Night, Dorothy Kilgallen, about a journalist, Dorothy Kilgallen, who died mysteriously in 1965 following her attempts to investigate the conspiracy theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who was also a personal friend of Kilgallen. It’s been a long time now since movies like JFK and Ruby delved into the same subject matter, and people are still fascinated with the subject.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS through his MySpace page or via a RT forum message.

Tag Cloud

Syfy The Witch BBC Martial Arts unscripted Avengers documentaries psycho witnail Rock A24 discovery Nominations 4/20 Mary Tyler Moore IFC APB Amazon Prime book 20th Century Fox canceled TV shows mutant Women's History Month Cannes Academy Awards Shondaland laika New York Comic Con Character Guide CW Seed Disney streaming service universal monsters See It Skip It thriller YouTube Premium boxoffice SundanceTV binge LGBTQ Certified Fresh disaster BET Black History Month indie Paramount romantic comedy spain Photos blockbuster batman Horror Discovery Channel theme song Thanksgiving superhero San Diego Comic-Con HBO Max Tumblr PaleyFest 2015 historical drama The Arrangement Tomatazos Mystery DC Comics Mary Poppins Returns Biopics politics Red Carpet Star Trek rotten E3 spider-man Arrowverse Disney Channel critics Marvel Television Holiday MCU BET Awards Shudder AMC Trophy Talk SDCC child's play OneApp documentary Super Bowl crossover X-Men worst Trailer 2018 jamie lee curtis PlayStation Anna Paquin justice league cancelled Sundance TV halloween chucky Writers Guild of America travel quibi Schedule Holidays Sci-Fi indiana jones Family Mary poppins aliens Quiz FX Mudbound Lionsgate Film Nickelodeon miniseries a nightmare on elm street adventure police drama what to watch Fox News Polls and Games Hear Us Out series Film Festival Summer First Reviews OWN war Marathons Fantasy hist Comic Book romance comedies Marvel Studios Infographic Binge Guide name the review vampires ghosts science fiction Ovation Funimation El Rey free movies social media Musical Brie Larson Reality Opinion Comics on TV VH1 GIFs golden globes SXSW video tv talk crime drama Vudu YouTube Red Rocky nbcuniversal renewed TV shows Animation concert game of thrones Rom-Com technology hispanic Pixar satire TV renewals cancelled TV series Hallmark Christmas movies Superheroes composers YouTube Universal Disney screenings PBS Britbox A&E Year in Review Winter TV video on demand zombies Adult Swim sequel Pop TV Creative Arts Emmys revenge supernatural Amazon Studios dc RT History hollywood Tarantino Columbia Pictures Apple TV Plus mission: impossible die hard latino joker biography CBS foreign Tubi reboot USA Network Set visit asian-american stop motion richard e. Grant scary movies TV Land dragons President Paramount Network The Purge Hallmark Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TLC Podcast Premiere Dates franchise strong female leads crime thriller Lifetime werewolf reviews zero dark thirty Western Logo Bravo CBS All Access Countdown Endgame Food Network cancelled television cancelled TV shows Masterpiece Fall TV Watching Series medical drama FXX CMT natural history Awards Tour Action stoner MTV ABC Interview Lifetime Christmas movies Elton John FOX television Peacock Grammys Rocketman Superheroe versus comics TruTV ITV dark RT21 Lucasfilm movie HBO Ghostbusters Disney+ Disney Plus game show stand-up comedy cats Hulu Netflix rotten movies we love emmy awards Oscars Freeform 2016 docudrama DC Universe comic toy story BBC America criterion harry potter Crackle films Awards 21st Century Fox ABC Family Teen space Calendar cults screen actors guild adaptation Spectrum Originals Emmy Nominations festivals TCA 2017 Starz 2019 Comedy Central Sony Pictures psychological thriller green book breaking bad Best and Worst Black Mirror Song of Ice and Fire doctor who Valentine's Day National Geographic CNN Apple TV+ Sundance Now teaser Apple TCA Winter 2020 Acorn TV cartoon Turner parents sag awards 2020 VICE Reality Competition comiccon slashers 2017 First Look Baby Yoda diversity FX on Hulu spinoff WarnerMedia transformers Television Critics Association Showtime DC streaming service casting zombie 24 frames BAFTA TCA Pet Sematary Cartoon Network political drama Nat Geo YA ESPN Musicals Epix Dark Horse Comics award winner Trivia crime TNT GLAAD Christmas TCA Awards finale TBS DirecTV Turner Classic Movies TV directors Captain marvel TCM Ellie Kemper singing competition sitcom streaming talk show best sports ratings Winners Chernobyl animated twilight Marvel dramedy Toys Spring TV Classic Film Drama children's TV BBC One Television Academy E! true crime all-time WGN independent Star Wars TIFF The Walking Dead spy thriller Sundance Esquire Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt nature serial killer Spike NYCC dogs cops Emmys VOD HBO Go Netflix Christmas movies anthology Pirates LGBT Extras Disney Plus Video Games Sneak Peek spanish language Pride Month Comedy Mindy Kaling American Society of Cinematographers fast and furious 45 obituary USA facebook Crunchyroll anime Music 007 History news Travel Channel kids robots dceu MSNBC elevated horror The CW Heroines GoT based on movie Walt Disney Pictures 72 Emmy Awards Stephen King Warner Bros. Election cooking Amazon cinemax south america period drama Country christmas movies NBC classics IFC Films 71st Emmy Awards Kids & Family DGA Amazon Prime Video canceled cars blaxploitation mockumentary Box Office Pop Cosplay movies