Entertainment Today and Beyond

Never Met a Zombi I Didn’t Like…

Newly commissioned Dawn of the Dead (1978) poster

With AMC’s The Walking Dead series emerging as a huge hit for the cable network, zombies appear to be more popular than ever.

It’s no secret that I love this stuff and think The Walking Dead is one terrific piece of television. Having said that, I still believe the greatest Zombie movie is George Romero’s 1978 masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. It truly is the Gone with the Wind of horror. Check out this really cool, newly commissioned, poster.

November 2, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Keaton turns 60!

Can that be true? I almost can’t believe that today Michael Keaton turns 60 yrs of age. Has it really been 22 years since the release of Tim Burton’s Batman? Believe it or not, the answer to that question is yes. It has been that long since the film in which Keaton played Bruce Wayne/Batman hit theaters and truly changed the way movies have been marketed since.

Here is a piece I wrote 3 years ago asking the question why Keaton (who’s been one of my all time favorites) didn’t have the overall career popularity/longevity that Tom Hanks has had. I think the comparison is a fair one considering that both of these fine actors can and have shined in both comedic and dramatic roles.

Here’s hoping Keaton still has a few great roles ahead of him.  Happy Birthday Beetlejuice! 

WHY didn’t MICHEAL KEATON ever become the SECOND coming of TOM HANKS?

After reading that actor Michael Keaton has been cast as supporting voice of the Ken doll in Pixar’s upcoming TOY STORY 3, it made me think: “Why hasn’t Keaton been more prominent in movies over the past ten years?” I’ve always been a big fan, even before he got cast as Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s 1989 original Batman movie. One of my all time favorite films is Ron Howard’s NIGHT SHIFT. Released in 1982, this comedy was Keaton’s first starring role and he was never better. Cast as the film’s comic engine – idea man Billy Blazejowski opposite Henry Winkler’s straight man – Chuck, Michael stole the film.

When the film hit theaters that year critics raved about this new kid on the block and. the movie scored at the box-office. This despite reports that he was close to being fired numerous times when studio executives didn’t like the film’s dailies and seriously considered replacing him. The sleeper success of Night Shift, and the buzz around a new up and coming talent, opened the door for this fresh and energetic actor. From here, Keaton went on to do MR. MOM, a big box-office success, just one year later. After Mr. Mom, Keaton worked consistently, starring in films like JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY, a spoof comedy that I always thought was a very funny although most critics weren’t as kind and the box-office wasn’t so good either. In 1986 he teamed up with Ron Howard for their second movie together, GUNG HO. The film received a mixed response from critics and, while the box-office was alright, it was far from a blockbuster. Personally, I really liked both his work and the movie itself.

It was at this point in his career that he hit his first big dry spot with back to back bombs; the little seen TOUCH AND GO in 1986 and mega bomb THE SQUEEZE one year later. That film was regarded as one of that year’s worst and many feel it was the most sub-par movie in his career. At that point the talented actor was stuck in Hollywood limbo as roles dried up. It wasn’t until Tim Burton cast Keaton in BEETLEJUICE, a part that was originally only supposed to be little more than a cameo, that his stock started to rise once again. After watching the dailies of his performance as the bio-exorcist, or the “Ghost with the Most,” Burton decided to keep beefing his part up and Keaton eventually became the heart and soul of the film. Opening in the summer of 1998, Beetlejuice was both a critical and box-office hit. Keaton, once again, was back on Hollywood’s radar screen.

That same year the actor took on a serious role in CLEAN AND SOBER and the result was astonishing. Nominated for a Golden Globe award, Keaton proved he was multi-dimensional in terms of his acting range, giving a complete and compelling performance as a recovering drug addict. While not a big box-office hit, Keaton garnered the respect of both critics and his peers. It appeared that he was entering the TOM HANKS realm of an actor who could thrive in both comedy and drama, a feat that isn’t easy to pull off. In 1989 Michael would gain worldwide attention when seen on the big screen in Warner Bros mega blockbuster, BATMAN. While many doubted the casting choice, he pulled it off in spades and was riding higher than ever! Two years later he returned for the inevitable sequel, BATMAN RETURNS. While the movie was profitable, it was not as big as the original and fans were spilt on the direction Burton was taking the franchise.

Things turned once again, and not for the better, in his career when he took a pass on the third Batman film, Batman Forever. He reportedly turned down thirty-five million dollars simply because he didn’t like the direction the studio was going in when Burton passed and Joel Schumacher took over. Since 1994 Keaton has only been in one high quality film, a starring role in THE PAPER, the third film he has done with Ron Howard. He’s gone from one bad project to another – DESPERATE MEASURES and JACK FROST in 1998, QUICKSAND, which went straight to DVD in 2003, the mediocre First Daughter in 2004 and the flat out awful WHITE NOISE in 2005, although the film did do well at the box-office. While Tom Hanks’ career thrived in the decade, Keaton’s clearly was the polar opposite. Born Michael John Douglas, Keaton is now 56 years old. Do I ever expect him to become a huge star once again? Probably not! As a big fan, I hope he may still catch a great role and win an Oscar and, yes, I think he’s that good! In a perfect world I would love to see Warner Bros let him put on the bat suit one more time and play an aging caped crusader. That would make a fascinating movie and Keaton could pull it off! Will it ever happen? Probably not. So, am I excited about his involvement in TOY STORY 3? Not really, as I think he can give the world of movies so much more than that and hope that he finds the right vehicle to make it happen.

September 6, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scarface Blu-ray Cast reunion party

Stars Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham and producer Martin Bregman will celebrate the upcoming worldwide Blu-ray release of SCARFACE at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on August 23, 2011.

Talk about standing the test of time. The 1983 gangster film directed by Brian DePalma and written by Oliver Stone clearly has a huge following that only continues to grow since its theatrical release 28 years ago. It’s just one of those movies that you can watch over and over again and never seem to get tired of.

I remember seeing the film twice on the big screen at the Kings Plaza theater in Brooklyn, NY. I remember it playing right next door to Clint Eastwood’s “Sudden Impact”. While not a big hit at the time, Scarface has managed to became a major player in pop culture that relates to movies. 

Besides the Blu-Ray release which comes out Sept 6th, Universal will show Scarface Aug 29th for one night only, nationwide, in theaters.  This is a pretty cool video. Take a LOOK

August 26, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News, Galaxy of Movie Greatness | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weird coincidence: Food of the Gods comes back in my life

Food of the Gods poster

Food of the Gods

After going on Facebook today I noticed that the New Beverly revival theater in Los Angeles is going to show the 1976 B shlock fest “The Food of the Gods” Tuesday, July 26th, as part of a tribute to the movie’s writer-director Bert I. Gordon.  What I found amusing about this is I just watched Food of the Gods at my local community theater this weekend.

My friend Scott at the theater screened it for me Sat at midnight in DVD projection after I bought a copy on Amazon last week. I first saw Food of the Gods when I was nine years old at the Mayfair Theater in Brooklyn, NY. I think I saw it there 3 or 4 times and always enjoyed the pure craziness of what amounts to a giant ‘rats verses man’ movie.  Having now seen it for the first time in 37 years, I must say I enjoyed the heck out of it again. MGM released the DVD in 2007 as part of their midnight movie series and the print is quite good. Very good, in fact. Check out the trailer if you have never seen it and get a copy on Amazon now!

July 25, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News, Galaxy of Movie Greatness | , | Leave a comment

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Comic-Con trailer

This new Rise of the Planet of the Apes trailer was shown over the weekend at Comic-Con and I really like what I see. While you certainly have to suspend disbelief that Apes could take over our modern society (it was a little easier to believe in the 70’s), the footage looks pretty compelling. It certainly makes me excited to venture out on August 5th and see if this latest Apes movie can recapture the magic of the classic original franchise.  Take a look

July 25, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | | Leave a comment

New UK trailer to Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I must say of all the trailers for movies coming out this summer, surprisingly this one packs the most emotional punch by far. I really like what I see here. This story is a reworking of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. It looks fairly involving with some very interesting special effects that don’t overwhelm the emotional core that this trailer is going for. That feels refreshing indeed. Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens nationwide August 13, 2011. Take a LOOK

June 29, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | | Leave a comment

Warner Bros. Releases first Dark Knight Rises promotional photo with pic of Tom Hardy as Bane

Marketing starts early nowadays. WB has already started its promotion of the 3rd installment of director Chris Nolan’s highly anticipated new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Even though the movie just stated filming a few days ago, a photo of Tom Hardy as the villainous Bane has been released. This image almost instantaneously erases the bad memories of the silly cartoon character in the much maligned “Batman and Robin”.

The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters next summer.

May 25, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , , | Leave a comment

First Trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

With remakes and reboots clogging up the majority of what’s in production in Hollywood these days its no surprise that 20th Century Fox would go to the well once again with a new Planet of the Apes movie. This one, titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a new variation of the 4th entry in the original classic series Conquest, and it stars the worst host of the Oscars ever – James Franco. While it’s hard to pass judgment on this first footage (I’m not jumping up and down just yet) I know I’ll be on line opening weekend because I find the concept fascinating; although its unlikely that anyone could truly recapture what made the originals so appealing.

I think what made the first film in the series that starred Charlton Heston in 1968 so great was that Director Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton) clearly was a great storyteller and had tremendous patience in his filmmaking, something clearly lacking in many of today’s movie makers.

Actually, after recently re-watching all five films in the original series, I found myself hooked once again. This is as good as it gets when you’re talking science fiction. It’s really interesting how the writers were able to interconnect each installment and keep the series thought-provoking throughout. Although Battle for the Planet of the Apes is by far the weakest in the series, I’m still amazed how bleak the second installment, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. You rarely ever see both main stars killed off in any mainstream films; one of my all time favorite movie endings.

As for Tim Burton’s remake of the origianal, I never thought he would be a good fit for this genre and he clearly was not. While the film has its bright spots, including the terrific performance by Tim Roth as General Thade, overall it was a huge letdown compared to the classic 1968 original. I hated the fact that Burton decided to film most of it on soundstages instead of on location which would have given the movie a more authentic feel. Considering how many ideas, scripts and talent (Oliver Stone, Philip Noyce, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was slated to star at one time) that had been attached to the project before Burton stepped in, it’s hard to believe that this re-boot of the famed franchise crashed and burned in reviews. Despite being a financial winner, in retrospect Burton never should have taken on this project. It was like mixing oil and water.

Rise of the Palnet of the Apes swings into theaters August 5th 2011. Take a look at the trailer:

April 27, 2011 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

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