Prince Caspian — the review’s up!

My review of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is now up at CT Movies. For a little more background on the paragraph where I talk about C.S. Lewis’s approach to pre-Christian paganism versus post-Christian modernity, see my three-year-old posts on the astrology of Narnia and the paganism of Narnia.

Indy IV — John Hurt’s identity revealed?

For months, there has been speculation that John Hurt may be playing Abner Ravenwood, the father of Indy’s erstwhile girlfriend Marion Ravenwood, in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which comes to theatres next week Thursday. The filmmakers, on the other hand, have been keeping his character’s identity secret. But the cat may have been let out of the bag now — and with the filmmakers’ approval. So, dear reader, if you do not want to know the answer to this question just yet, do not — I repeat, do not — check out the bonus features on the new “special edition” of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) that came out today. Or at least not the ‘Indiana Jones: An Appreciation’ featurette.

Cory Edwards tackles Fraggle Rock

Two years ago, I interviewed Cory Edwards, the writer-director of Hoodwinked! (2005; my review), and in that interview, he talked about how he tried to overcome the budget limitations on his animated film by employing the same “fakey” but “charming” aesthetic that Jim Henson had used for Kermit the Frog. So I wasn’t that surprised to read in Variety tonight that Edwards is bringing another of Henson’s old creations to the big screen:

The Weinstein Co. will turn the Jim Henson series “Fraggle Rock” into a live-action musical feature.

Cory Edwards, who directed the animated “Hoodwinked!” for TWC, will helm the picture and write the screenplay. The Jim Henson Co. will produce and TWC will distribute. . . .

The deal furthers the relationship between TWC and the “Hoodwinked!” creative team. Edwards is reteaming with “Hoodwinked!” co-writer Tony Leech on the animated alien adventure “Escape From Planet Earth,” on which Leech is making his directing debut.

Edwards is separately developing a live-action feature adaptation of Cedar Fair’s Halloween Haunt franchise, designed to be shot in 3-D by Kerner Optical and produced by Davis Entertainment, Dave Phillips and Tracey Edmonds. That pic is looking for a backer. . . .

This news comes only two months after it was announced that Jason Segel, the writer-star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, will be developing a big-screen revival of the Muppets themselves. Edwards and Segel couldn’t be more different in terms of their approach to comedy — at least where family-friendliness is concerned — but their work does suggest a strong, shared affinity for the works of Henson etc. It could be interesting to see them share a panel discussing the subject, or something like that.

UPDATE: Cory Edwards comments at his personal blog.

The trivialization of a Hitler movie.

The first time I saw someone put brand-new subtitles on this clip from Downfall (2004; my review), it was when Warner decided to ditch their HD-DVD product and go exclusively with Blu-Ray as their next-generation, high-definition format of choice:

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More recently, there was this version produced after the Democratic primaries in North Carolina and Indiana last week:

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These were the only two variations of this gimmick that had come my way until today, when I came across this post by Karina Longworth, who is surprised to discover that there have been several other variations as well. She comments:

Almost all of these clips have view counts on YouTube in the six or seven figures. Downfall was the second-highest grossing foreign language film of 2005, but it still only made about $5.5 million. Almost certainly, more people in this country have now seen a clip from the film wrangled into a new context than would have ever seen the film in its original state. Downfall thus becomes part of the cultural conversation, but at the same time, it seems unlikely that any of these clips could effectively function as commercials for the film. Maybe it’s sad or maybe it’s totally appropriate, but it seems clear that the general YouTube user would be able to summon way more excitement for the concept of Hitler on the phone with Microsoft tech support, than they would for the concept of Hitler…doing Hitler stuff.

So, ironically, the movie that was supposed to “humanize” Hitler — not by excusing him, but by treating him as a human being with enormous flaws rather than a cartoon or a supernatural demonic type — has ended up contributing to his trivialization.

Canadian box-office stats — May 11

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay — CDN $5,740,000 — N.AM $30,716,000 — 18.7%
21 — CDN $8,990,000 — N.AM $80,418,000 — 11.2%

The Forbidden Kingdom — CDN $4,960,000 — N.AM $48,261,000 — 10.3%
Made of Honor — CDN $2,500,000 — N.AM $26,275,000 — 9.5%
Forgetting Sarah Marshall — CDN $4,810,000 — N.AM $50,772,000 — 9.5%

Iron Man — CDN $14,310,000 — N.AM $177,134,000 — 8.1%
What Happens in Vegas — CDN $1,610,000 — N.AM $20,000,000 — 8.1%
Nim’s Island — CDN $3,310,000 — N.AM $44,257,000 — 7.5%
Baby Mama — CDN $2,310,000 — N.AM $40,377,000 — 5.7%
Speed Racer — CDN $746,852 — N.AM $20,210,000 — 3.7%

A couple of discrepancies: 21 was #9 on the Canadian chart (it was #12 in North America as a whole), while Redbelt was #10 on the North American chart (it was #12 in Canada).

Newsbites: Religulous! Lincoln! Treader!

No time to argue! You throw me the newsbites, I throw you the whip!

1. Variety reports that Religulous, Bill Maher and Larry Charles’s satirical documentary about religion, has been postponed from its early summer release date to October 3, which is more or less the same time of year that Charles’s last film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), opened. The new release date also happens to be smack dab in the middle of the Jewish High Holy Days; this year, Rosh Hashanah takes place September 30 while Yom Kippur takes place October 9. It’s also a few days after the end of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim fast.

2. Variety reports that Steven Spielberg is finally going to get around to directing that Abraham Lincoln biopic that he and Liam Neeson have been talking about doing for a while now. He could start shooting it as soon as early next year — but first, he has to shoot the opening installment of the Tintin trilogy.

3. Variety reports that Walden Media is “partnering with HarperCollins Children’s Books to launch Walden Pond Press” — and along the way, it mentions that Steven Knight, the writer of Dirty Pretty Things (2002) and Eastern Promises (2007), is now working on the script for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Knight and Dawn Treader director Michael Apted previously collaborated on the William Wilberforce biopic Amazing Grace (2006).