Newsbites: The Nicolas Cage edition!

Remember how I said Bangkok Dangerous was not going to be screened for the media? Well, in a sense, it was, but in a sense, it wasn’t.

I and other critics were eventually invited to a promotional screening last night, which was nice, but as I have mentioned here before, screenings that take place the night before the release date “don’t count” as proper press screenings, because they take place too late for the newspaper critics to file their reviews in time for the opening day’s papers.

This screening was even more unusual, though, because the studio didn’t just passively make it difficult to review the film on opening day; they actually told us not to review the film on opening day, telling us that anyone who saw the film last night would have to refrain from posting a review of it until Saturday. Well, obviously, this didn’t make any sense, since any schlub could buy a ticket to a matinee screening on Friday and write about the movie on their blog or whatever immediately afterwards … so at the last minute, the studio amended its rule and told us that we could post our thoughts on the film after 3pm today.

And so, here we are. And, uh, I don’t have all that many thoughts about the film, really.

I seem to recall that, when I attended the Nicolas Cage press conference at the National Treasure: Book of Secrets junket nine months ago, he told us that friends of his had seen Bangkok Dangerous and thought it might be his best film since The Weather Man (2005). I thought that statement was odd for a number of reasons, and now that I’ve seen the film, it seems odder still.

Many critics have complained that this film harks back to the bleak, dreary, morally confused genre pics that Cage made a decade ago or so — films like 8MM (1999), for example — and I would have to agree. Others have said that it continues Cage’s recent losing streak, in terms of the quality of the projects he has picked, and I would sort of agree there, too, though the National Treasure movies have obviously been very successful at the box office, at least, and I tend to think they’re good dumb fun, as well. I would also add that, with one possible exception, nothing in Bangkok Dangerous inspired the sort of incredulous laughter that greeted Cage’s ridiculous remake of The Wicker Man (2006).

So, the new film isn’t a complete wash-out. I did like a few of the gun-battle shots, and there are a few nice funny bits besides — even if most of them involve a romance which, when it works, feels like it belongs in an entirely different movie, and, when it doesn’t work, threatens, for just a moment, to make the movie melodramatic to the point of being simply laughable.

That aside, though, taken as a whole, the movie is kind of dull.

In the meantime, while Cage has been promoting this film, he has been talking about several other projects, too. Here’s the rundown:

1. There will almost certainly be a third National Treasure, but the question now is what the subject should be. At the junket I attended last year, Cage said he wanted to go global and make the next movie about an “international treasure”, but now he says, “There’s been talk about doing it in the South, maybe in New Orleans.” — MTV Movies Blog

2. Werner Herzog’s sequel to Bad Lieutenant (1992), which will star Cage in the role created by his National Treasure co-star Harvey Keitel, will not be driven by the “Judeo-Christian programming” of the original film, says Cage. “This one is much more existential.” Oh, and this film is reportedly taking place in New Orleans, too. — MTV Movies Blog

3. The sequel to Bad Lieutenant might tone the religion down, but if there is a sequel to Ghost Rider (2007), it will probably pump the religious content up. “It looks like it will take place in Europe and the character will work with the [Catholic] Church,” says Cage, who has been discussing the sequel with the studio. “It hasn’t progressed to [who the next villain will be] yet to be able to say, but I do know it will be shot in Europe and there will be some sort of connection working with different religious figures.” — MTV Splash Page,

Newsbites: The post-apocalyptic edition!

Just a few items to help pass the time as we wait for the future.

1. Denzel Washington is going to star in The Book of Eli, a “post-apocalyptic drama” that “focuses on the not-so-distant future where America is a wasteland and a lone warrior . . . fights to bring society the knowledge that is key to its redemption.” The film will be directed by Albert and Allen Hughes, whose last big-screen project was the Jack the Ripper comic-book adaptation From Hell (2001). — Variety, Hollywood Reporter

2. Terminator Salvation director McG sure likes his reading material. Two weeks ago, he said he got his actors to read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road as part of their research for the film. And now he says he got them to read Philip K. Dick‘s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel that inspired Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), as well — and he’s even entertaining the idea of directing his own version of that story. But set aside the remake talk for now; the more interesting question is what his use of that novel suggests about the depiction of the robots in the new Terminator film. — Variety

3. And speaking of the Terminator franchise, Brian Lowry has posted a review of the upcoming season premiere for The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and he says the series “continue[s] to deliver”. — Variety

Save Me — the review’s up!

My review of Save Me — a movie about an “ex-gay” ministry starring Chad Allen, the gay actor who starred in the Christian movie End of the Spear (2005) — is now up at CT Movies.

Wallace & Gromit in The Right Trousers

Hat tip to Amid Amidi, from whom I stole this headline.

Newsbites: The sci-fi pulp fantasy edition!

Time to get a few more backlogged items off my plate.

1. Has it really been two years since Guillermo Del Toro first talked about directing a Tarzan movie? Oh well, a little thing called The Hobbit got in the way, and now the producers of the Tarzan movie are thinking of getting someone else to direct. Someone like … Stephen Sommers. Ugh. — Variety, Hollywood Reporter

2. The judge presiding over the Watchmen lawsuit between Fox and Warner has set a trial date: January 6, exactly two months to the day before the film is scheduled to come out. Fox is trying to prevent the film from being released at all. — Hollywood Reporter, New York Times

3. I remember words like “yarn” and “centon”, but I had no idea the word “frak” was created for the original, cheesy, 1970s version of Battlestar Galactica and not for the new, improved, gritty version that everyone now knows and loves. Huh. — Associated Press

4. Mark Millar likes trilogies, apparently. The comic-book writer says he is working on a “basic story” for the next two Wanted films, and he says he is currently pitching “a big three-picture Superman thing, like a Lord of the Rings epic, starting over from scratch again with a seven-hour Superman story. One to be released each year.” — Newsarama, G4

5. James Cameron says Avatar, his upcoming effects-heavy 3-D movie, “makes ‘Titanic’ look like a picnic. . . . It’s simultaneously the most vexing and the most rewarding type of production that I’ve done yet.” — Canadian Press

Newsbites: The vaguely religious edition!

Time to get a few backlogged items off my plate.

1. MTV Splash Page has deemed this “Magdalena Week”, in honour of the upcoming movie based on the comic book about a female superhero who is descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. In today’s introductory post, actress Jenna Dewan says the film will downplay the character’s Catholic background, making her more of a “spiritual” fighter than a “religious” fighter. — MTV Splash Page

2. Rex Mundi creator Arvid Nelson has posted some thoughts on what it’s like to work with Hollywood — and he wants us all to know that his comic book, which concerns the Holy Grail and a possible descendant of Jesus, was published three years before The Da Vinci Code. — MTV Splash Page

3. I know almost nothing about Dalton Trumbo’s novel Johnny Got His Gun beyond the fact that the 1971 film version, directed by Trumbo himself, featured Donald Sutherland as Jesus. (Sutherland was nominated for a Golden Turkey Award for his efforts.) The book was adapted into a play in 1982, and now Ben McKenzie is starring in a feature-film version of that play, which is set to debut later this month. I have no idea if Jesus will make an appearance in the new film, let alone who might play him. — Variety

4. There is a new book out on the brouhaha over The Last Temptation of Christ (1988); written by Thomas R. Lindlof, it is called Hollywood Under Siege: Martin Scorsese, the Religious Right, and the Culture Wars. I wonder how it will compare to Robin Riley’s Film, Faith, and Cultural Conflict: The Case of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. — Bible Films Blog

5. The last time I mentioned Steve Taylor‘s adaptation of Blue Like Jazz here, it was supposed to start shooting in May of this year. But now Taylor says the filming has been put on hold due to a lack of funding. — CT Movies

6. Tim Roth will play a “half owl, half angel” in an adaptation of the children’s book Skellig. — Hollywood Reporter