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AICN-DOWNUNDER: Geoffrey Wright's MACBETH, A POSEIDON Sinking, A STAR WARS Letdown, And More!!

Merrick here...

Here's Laturo with a look at the world of entertainment (Australian style), including one of the funnier reviews I've seen of POSEIDON.


I dare do all that may become a man; Who dares do more is none.


It's not the edgiest thing in the world to have a rant against George Lucas. Everyone does it, and everyone's been doing it for about seven years now. No, saying negative stuff about Lucas is as cliched as, say, George Lucas doing things that piss off fans.

There are going to be very few of you who have missed the furore, but it happened something like this:

- Lucasfilm announced that, despite years of foot-stamping denials, it will be releasing on DVD the original STAR WARS trilogy as it was presented over twenty years ago in cinemas
- Fans are cautiously happy
- More details about the DVD set emerge, and fans stop being happy

What the hell happened? Well, I'm first going to direct you to two much better monologues on the subject: the first is here, by Bill Hunter at the Digital Bits (scroll down to 5/19/06); the second is right here on AICN, and was written by my lord and master, Quint Quintofferson. They'll give you a more detailed look into what happened.

The short of it is that Lucas hates the way the original trilogy appeared back in the day, and appears to hate the fact that most fans prefer it that way. So, when he did those new SFX versions in the late nineties, he "taped over" the original negative. So how are they going to do a DVD transfer? Well, they're copying it directly off the Laserdisc copy they made way back when.

The DVDs are coming packaged with the newer versions; you cannot buy the originals without buying the "spiffed up" versions of the Episodes IV, V and VI. The reasons for this are obvious. For one, Lucas doesn't want to risk the embarassing possibility of the old crappy versions outselling the brand new ones. Second, he's almost certainly hoping that people will get fed up with the poor quality transfer of the original originals, and decide to pop in the other, crisper disc instead.

It's a pretty poor thing to do the people who made you what you are, especially considering (as Bill Hunt points out) "Even if it's true that Lucas and his staff destroyed all of the original negatives, it's unlikely in the extreme that they also destroyed all of the interpositives, all of the separation masters, and all of the release prints. In fact, we know that they didn't."

George, I actually feel sorry for the legacy you're setting in place for yourself. Your behaviour is petty and more than a bit insulting. It's why I've completely given up on STAR WARS altogether.

That's a pretty big statement, I know, but it's true. The films I loved when I was growing up now represent something else. Take a look at it like this: if you watch the films in episodic order, the Empire comes to power, and is later destroyed by the rebels. However, that's not how they were made. Watch them in chronological order, and the Empire wins. For some reason, I find that very telling.

You took something I loved and bastardised my memory of it so often and in so many ways, that I've now moved past the stage of anger; simply put, I no longer care.


According to Variety, Russell Crowe is bouncing in and out of Baz Luhrmann's SPEEDILY-CUT ROMANCE FILM. Both Crowe and Nicole Kidman were attached, possibly hoping for some success after the disaster of EUCALYPTUS. Apparently, Crowe's desire for script approval was getting up Baz's nose a bit, so he offered the role to Heath Ledger... who turned it down. Then Crowe apparently tried to get the role back by forgoing script approval, but Baz and Company weren't having a bar of it. Who's going to get the role? Personally, I'm betting on an actor.

Luckily, Crowe does have a project to help pay the bills. He's appearing next in TENDERNESS alongside recently-cast Jon Foster. Crowe plays a cop trying to discover whether a teenager murdered his own family or not. The film will be directed by Orstralian John Polson.

Ledger is also keeping busy after knocking Baz back. He will be playing Bob Dylan in the new Todd Haynes-directed biopic, alongside Cate Blanchett (Bob Dylan), Christian Bale (Bob Dylan), Richard Gere (Bob Dylan), and Julianne Moore (Bob Dylan). This is what happens when casting directors go mad, people. Ledger replaces Colin Farrell, who was apparently going to be playing "Bob Dylan". Heath's significant other Michelle Williams will also be taking a role, but which role? Your guess is as good as mine.

Can't get enough of Ledger this week, it seems. Phillip Noyce (local boy made good) will direct Ledger and Rachel Weisz in an adaptation of "Dirt Music" by Tim Winton. The "psychological love story" set in Western Australia will shoot in just under a year's time, and centres on a love triangle between Ledger's loner, the wife of the region's most successful fisherman, and (presumably) the region's most successful fisherman. I still haven't recovered from studying Winton's "That Eye, The Sky" in high school, so I'll temper my expectations for now...

This was actually corrected by Quint in this article here !!!, but it turns out I was fairly incorrect about Weta Digital working on the New Zealand Sam Raimi-produced vampire flick 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. I was corrected by a Mr Mark Wilcox who runs Black Magic, a website I can't believe I haven't heard of until now. Mark's got so many scoops, he makes a third-tier web-writer like myself feel a tad insignificant. Pop over there for a look; I have a feeling I'm going to be directing you to his news items at least once per column from now on...



Rolf de Heer's TEN CANOES picked up the Special Jury Prize at Cannes, thus confirming what we all suspected: the film is, at very least, better than ALEXANDRA'S PROJECT. Right off the win, Palm Pictures bought the rights to the North American release, so expect to see the film Stateside later this year.


I'll finally be catching X-MEN 3 on Sunday, but those who loved all three might want to do some cinema searches. Looks like those all-night screenings that some cinemas (including Greater Union) do, playing three films in a row, will soon feature all three X-MEN films back-to-back! Sounds pretty cool. A bloke called Craig dropped me a line because, "Who wants to watch this kind of thing in an empty cinema when you can have heaps of other real X-Men geeks getting to watch the first X-Men again on the big screen, cheering when Xavier comes out on top etc." Wanting to share the experience with a group of other film geeks? This is what fandom is all about.


Gregory Pakis's THE GARTH METHOD has already picked up awards at festivals in Australia and the US, so why haven't you seen it? And why aren't you giving more money to charity? These seemingly unconnected questions can both be taken care of if you go the Old Colonial Inn at 127 Brunswick Street in Fitzroy (that's in Melbourne, btw) on either Saturday June 10 at 5:30pm, or Sunday Jun 11 at 6:30pm. You can drink beer whilst watching Garth's antics, and the tickets are by donation in support of Sophie Delezio and the Day of Difference Foundation.


You guys in Melbourne get all the cool stuff. There's me, for example. Probably other things as well. One of those other things has turned out to be Chris White of Weta, who did a whole lot of visual effects work on KING KONG. On June 26, he'll be giving a free (that's FREE) lecture at the University of Melbourne, thanks to NICTA. You'll need to RSVP by June 19 though, so head HERE for more info. Thanks to Melinda.


The mutants managed to knock Ron Howard's crapfest off the top spot, but don't fret! Hopefully, this won't be the last we see of powerhouse duo Akiva Goldsman and Dan Brown! I'd be surprised if we saw another MISSION IMPOSSIBLE entry, as the film only made a zillion dollars, and the studio was clearly expecting 1.3 zillion. That's Hollywood for you.



Costra-Gravas remakes (for all intents and purposes) MAD CITY, the novelty of releasing a film on 06/06/06 wears off before the title even comes up, Brenda Blethyn is cool, Wolfgang Peterson posits a powerful "What if?" scenario ("What if we spent two hundred million on a crap film and nobody came?"), and Barry Levinson's appeal for release from Director's Prison is refused.



Two reviews for you today. The second one is me going on a rant about POSEIDON; before that is what I believe to be the first review of Geoffrey Wright's MACBETH (I certainly haven't found any others floating about). I have actually spoken to people over the past few months who have either worked on it or seen early screenings, and I'd heard a lot of good things. But, according to Mr Underhill (er, the reviewer), this may not be the case. Oh, and as everyone's started referring to this film as MACBETH, I'm going to assume that it's officially dropped its initial German Expressionismistic title of "M".


Reviewed by Mr Underhill

I recently had the chance to attend a preview test screening of the new Australian film MacBeth and thought I'd pass on my thoughts. The concept of the film is pretty simple: Take the Bard's classic story and set it in the Melbourne criminal underworld. Nice, I thought. This could work. However, about 60mins into this 2 hour film I was very bored and if I hadn't been promised free movie tickets for watching it would have walked out there. This film is excruciating and probably one of the worst films I've seen.

The test screening was for people between 16 and 25 and if this is the target audience I doubt the film is going to work. The writers have chopped the play down to fit it into a much shorter time frame and the choice to use the original dialogue does not work a bit. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, which had a sort of timeless feel to the setting, this film is very much set in the now and hence the dialogue looks way out of place and the actors have no idea how to deliver it, leading to many, many awful performances. Which brings me to the next point, the direction. I think the "whoa cool we're making a film aren't we great filmmakers" vibe clouded everyone's view from seeing what was right in front of their nose, there is zero direction, of anything. Many of the choices were questionable and the huge emotional vacuum one feels at the end of the film is only filled by frustration at ones self for having wasted the time with this film.

Don't be swayed by the cool looking stills people this is a stinker!

Call Me,

Mr Underhill.


Reviewed by Latauro

(spoilers below)

Pop quiz: who directed DAS BOOT?

If you answered "Wolfgang Peterson", then your name is probably Wolfgang Peterson. Either that, or you're so gullible you actually believe what film credits tell you.

Am I being harsh? Or not particularly clear? I was one of the defenders. I was one of those guys who would dismiss Wolfgang's latest piece of shit as an anomaly in an otherwise sterling career. Then, one day -- I think it was around the time TROY came out -- I started to question my Wolfgang love, or, at least, my Wolfgang appreciation. The list of anomalies was growing ever-steady, the list of classics was getting harder to recall, and the Sherry Lansing jokes were gaining in frequency (both regularity and, for some reason, pitch). A perusal of his filmography reveals a lot of German-language TV movies that would have interested me greatly during my early DAS BOOT years. I mean, if Wolfgang had become the director BOOT suggested he would, then tracking down his early work would be compulsory.

Unfortunately, we're now talking about the man who, over the past decade, made AIR FORCE ONE, THE PERFECT STORM and TROY. That's not an impressive list. Maybe some of you hold one or more of these films close to your heart, but I found them all to be exceptionally tedious. Impressively, POSEIDON leaves them all for dead.

POSEIDON -- or HOW TO GET RID OF ALL THE BLACKS, HISPANICS AND NON-WHITES IN SEVEN EASY EXPLOSIONS -- is what happens when you show an alien race a disaster flick from Earth and then get them to make one of their own. It's a bad impression of a film, and that's partly to do with the fact that nobody associated with it possesses any kind of emotion. I'm not talking about the emoting on-screen; I'm talking about makers of the film. The guys who probably saw Data's emotion chip on "The Next Generation" and tried to find one on eBay for themselves. These guys are robots. How else could they completely misunderstand how humans operate and interact?

First of all, we begin with the usual girl-likes-boy, girl's-father-doesn't-like-boy setup we're used to in this kind of movie. I mean, the entire Kurt Russell/Emmy Rossum/Blonde Guy story is so blandly familiar, I'm thinking that perhaps all the guys who wrote ARMAGEDDON should consider a class action lawsuit. You know what's coming. Okay, fine. It's an action film. We're going to get the cliched disaster-bringing-us-closer plotline, and I can live with that. No, the problem here is that screenwriter Mark Protosevich seems to think that as well, and puts zero work into developing the characters. I know this sounds like a dumb criticism for an action film, but when it's clear the writer's given up by the time the first line of dialogue is spoken, you get a little pissed off.

Then we get to the deaths. The systematic knocking-off of the characters one-by-one. The first one, the death of Freddy Rodriguez's Hispanic Waiter, is about as contrived as they come. Waiter, who is only going along with them because Kurt Russell promised him a lot of money, decides at the very first Obstacle of Danger they come across that he's going to insist everyone else goes first. He selflessly insists everyone get across the Elevator Shaft of Death before him. Then the thing breaks and he's hanging onto Richard Dreyfuss's foot for dear life. But the elevator is about to fall, and so Josh Lucas tells Dreyfuss to shake him off. Wait a second... is this an interesting moral dilemma? What's it doing in this film? Suddenly my interest is piqued, and I wait eagerly for the characters' reactions. "Boy, that was close! Where to now?" they practically say.

If only they'd been consistent with that idea; that killing those around is okay so long as you survive. But no, Hispanic Woman suffers a bizarrely-uninspired death, and suddenly everyone is too choked up to continue. All the tough men are crying and gripping each other for support... you'd think their mothers had just died. Why were they so upset? Um... 'cos people sort-of cry and stuff when other people die... right, Wolfgang? Pity that only occurred to you when you were shooting that one scene.

If I'm being a dick about it (and I know I am), it's because there is not an ounce of character continuity throughout the entire thing. Josh Lucas is a Loner, so he tells us, but when the others insist they're going with him, suddenly he's risking life and limb to save them. That's not character development. That's establishing someone as one thing and then having them do the opposite so your cast can talk about how rare it is to find an action film with interesting characters when they're doing the interview circuit.

If you don't believe me, look at Kevin Dillon's character. Basically playing a rich version of his character from "Entourage", Dillon acts like a complete arsehole at every turn. When Our Heroes are providing him with a means of rescue, he delays his Climb To Freedom so he can randomly insult them for two minutes. Then Josh Lucas and Kurt Russell grin at each other for some reason, and let him cross. What happens next? A big flaming thing drops and crushes him to death. I think that was when we were supposed to cheer. Look, I've met arseholes in my life, but this is just about the worst-written character I think I've ever come across. I'm almost tempted to show him to my students as an example of what not to do. It's really that bad. Meanwhile, I'm trying to work out how Kurt and Josh were able to intuit the flaming pillar of death. Bizarre.

Yeah, I'm nitpicking the film scene-by-scene. I just sat through this tripe, and I need to get some pleasure out of it. In this case, my pleasure comes from pointing out how fucking retarded almost every moment of this bullshit is. And I haven't even reached the thing that pissed me off the most.

POSEIDON has the honour of displaying the least amount of regard for human life since Michael Bay's unwatchable BAD BOYS II. I can just imagine Wolfgang at parties and shopping malls, looking at the crowds and thinking, "How cool would it be if these guys all exploded?", because it's been a while since I've seen anybody get so much pleasure from corpses (the best necrophilia joke in the talkback wins a jpeg of steak knives). It's one thing to have a high body count; in a situation like this, of course you would. It's another to display each and every death in the most sensationalist way possible. And, I suppose, it's fine to have sensationalist deaths if you're making ZOMBIE CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, but you're not. You're making the Summer Tentpole Popcorn Action Whatever, and even if you're only pretending to have believable characters, treating their deaths the way you do simply makes you look like an unfeeling hack. The most horrific of these is Kurt Russell's big death scene, in which he drowns in the most graphically horrific way possible, moments before his corpse comically hits a button that saves the day! Someone actually wrote this.

I was wondering why you'd want to remake a film that had just been remade... particularly if it had been done as a sub-standard TV movie. The TV movie had the advantage of featuring Steve Guttenberg! What do you have? Oh, an incredibly large budget? Okay, what are you going to do with it? Lots of explosions. Great. I wouldn't even mind if the explosions had appeared to be caused by anything, y'know, explosive. Instead, they go off at random intervals, or whenever the film gets "slow". It'd make a great drinking game.

Look, I'm getting sick of having to put the "I like an action film as much as the next guy!" disclaimer on reviews like this, and I shouldn't have to. I shouldn't have to qualify my dislike of a big SFX film, but I'm sure this review will end up in the "Critics hate action films" pile anyway. Still, I'm hoping some people avoid the film based on this review. Then I'll know I've done my job.


- NBC to re-jig its flailing sitcom output by producing a new sitcom about five Scottish musicians who make cool rock albums and hang out in New York cafes, "Franz"

- Felicity Huffman to reprise her character of "Bree" in the new cross-country Marvel spinoff, EX-MEN

- Ron Howard reveals that ANGELS AND DEMONS will not actually require a script, as he will be literally filming each page for a minute a piece and then putting them in numerical order

Peace out,


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