Yet another movie not screened for critics.

My sources tell me that Doomsday — the latest film from Neil Marshall, writer-director of The Descent (2005) — will be opening this Friday without being screened for critics in advance. That would seem to be backed up by the fact that there are currently no reviews of the film at Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, both of which would usually have something to link to by now.

Doug TenNapel gets another movie deal

Last year, I mentioned that Doug TenNapel — animator, comic-book artist, video-game creator and occasional collaborator with one of my favorite musicians of all time, Terry Scott Taylor — had sold the film rights to his graphic novel Creature Tech to Regency Enterprises and 20th Century Fox a few years earlier. Now, Variety reports that Paramount Pictures and Sam Raimi’s Buckaroo Entertainment have acquired the film rights to his next graphic novel, Monster Zoo, which is about “a young boy who discovers his local zoo contains critters much more frightening than the ordinary collection.” The book comes out April 25.

Pro-lifers crash the Horton premiere?

This is for those who thought pro-lifers were going out on a limb by trying to claim Juno and Knocked Up as their own:

A kid-friendly movie doesn’t need to be “Harry Potter” to draw protesters.

At least that’s the lesson from the “Horton Hears a Who” premiere.

Ove the years, the signature line from Fox’s upcoming “Horton” has been used — to the anger and dismay of Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss — as a rallying cry for the pro-life movement. The line, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” has been adopted by right-to-lifers as a kind of slogan — even though in the context of the book it has nothing to do with abortion, and Geisel even threatened to sue over its use.

Fox’s Saturday’s premiere at Westwood’s Mann Village for its Blue Sky-produced “Horton” showed that the phrase continues to generate controversy, and offered the odd spectacle of a politically charged moment at a family-friendly affair.

A small group of pro-life protesters, some with red tape over their mouths, turned out to the event, chanting the “A person’s a person” line (in the the book it refers not to a child but to a speck of dust that contrains a micro-universe on the back of Horton, the elephant main character). . . .

People were chanting through red tape?

In any case, just imagine how things might have gone if this film had been an adaptation of Horton Hatches the Egg (1942).

Expelled — rounding up some odds’n’ends

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a documentary on the Intelligent Design movement and the opposition it faces from evolutionary scientists and the academic establishment, was originally going to open in February, on Charles Darwin’s 199th birthday.

The release date has since been postponed to April 18, and both the filmmakers and their opponents are using the extra time to raise awareness of the film, whether intentionally or otherwise; Variety was already reporting on the movie’s promotional efforts almost a month ago, and both SlashFilm and Paste magazine have noted that the new release date puts the movie out there about two months before Bill Maher’s religion-mocking documentary Religulous, which will presumably have a similar “guerrilla vérité” style but from a completely opposite ideological point of view.

Today, the New York Times reported that Orlando Sentinel critic Roger Moore caused a stir recently by giving the film a negative review at his blog. Leonard Pierce at The Screengrab has also written a scathing review, though the film’s fans don’t appear to have noticed it yet. In the meantime, the film has had glowing endorsements from Tom Bethell of the American Spectator and Jack Cashill of WorldNetDaily, and a more balanced assessment from my colleague Brett McCracken. Moore has been criticized for failing to sign and then follow a non-disclosure agreement, but McCracken says there was no such form to sign at the screening he attended; it is not clear whether Pierce, Bethell or Cashill were asked to honour any embargoes before writing their own commentaries.

Ben Stein, who narrates the film and stars in it, has spent the past few months drumming up interest in it, starring in trailers and doing interviews and so forth and so on. My own interview with him will appear at CT Movies closer to the film’s release date.

For now, here is the extended trailer, which includes a nod to Ben Stein’s cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986):

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And here is Ben Stein being interviewed by R.C. Sproul:

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It never fails. (Soundtrack affirmation.)

I am listening to the Star Trek movie soundtrack albums as I type, and I once again felt shivers run up and down my spine as I listened to ‘Stealing the Enterprise’, a track from James Horner’s original score for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). You can listen to it here, and the bit that gets the shivers going starts around the 6:13 mark and lasts for about a minute. Both the movie and the soundtrack album are an odd mix of strengths and flaws, but man, the moment represented here — the moment before Captain Stiles tells Admiral Kirk that he will never sit in the captain’s chair again if he goes ahead with his plan, and Kirk very deliberately ignores Stiles and goes ahead with it — always gets to me. I think the music at this point captures very well that sense of fateful choices being made, of intense loyalty causing friends to act outrageously on each other’s behalf, of people facing life-and-death matters that are so important they are prepared to suffer the consequences for their decisions. Overall, of course, I prefer Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) — both the film and the soundtrack album — but there is something about a person openly disobeying his own people that is inherently more dramatic than a person fighting for survival against an enemy. As the late, great Albus Dumbledore once said, “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” And for what it’s worth, the only single bit of movie music that gets to me as consistently as this is ‘The Map Room – Dawn‘ from John Williams’ score for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) — which is kind of funny, because the scene in question is only about a map; the really mystical stuff in that movie comes up in other scenes.

These are the Kyle Reeses I know, I know …

Warning: There be spoilers here.

Four months ago, I created a collection of photos depicting all the actors who have played John Connor in all the various timelines covered by the Terminator movies and TV episodes produced so far. Yesterday, I finally caught up and finished watching the entire first season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I discovered that multiple actors have begun to play some of the other characters too. So here is another photo archive — for Kyle Reese, Dr. Peter Silberman, and The Photo.

First, Kyle Reese.

In the first two films, we were led to believe that, in the original timeline before all the time-travel began, the nuclear war began on August 29, 1997 and Kyle was born some time after that. In other words, he lived his entire life under the rule of the machines — until John Connor sent him back in time to protect Sarah Connor and thus become John’s father. But by the end of the second film, Sarah and John had succeeded in averting the nuclear war, at least temporarily.

Now, in the TV show, we are told that the nuclear war is going to start anyway — on April 21, 2011 — at a time when Kyle is already eight years old. It is exceedingly unlikely, of course, that the circumstances that led to Kyle’s conception in the original timeline would have been replicated in the new timeline — and it is even more unlikely that the Kyle who was sent back in time to father John Connor in the original timeline would be all that similar psychologically to the Kyle who is sent back in time from the new timeline — but hey, let’s run with these ideas, for now.

So, here are the various actors who have played Kyle, from youngest to oldest. Note that there is a slight complication in that, according to the movies (timeline 1), Kyle was sent back in time from 2029, whereas in the TV show (timeline 4), he was sent back in time from 2027 — yet we are apparently supposed to think that the Kyle who was sent back from both timelines is one and the same. And while the TV show indicates Kyle was born in late 2002 or early 2003, I don’t believe the movies have ever specified how old he was. Finally, just to be a completist, I am including Kyle’s cameo appearance in the dream sequence from the “special edition” of the second movie.

Kyle Reese, age 5, timeline 4 — ?, age ?

Kyle Reese, age 8, timeline 4 — Skyler Gisondo, age 11

Kyle Reese, age 15, timeline 3 — Anton Yelchin, age 19

Kyle Reese, age 24, timeline 4 — Jonathan Jackson, age 25

Kyle Reese, age ?, timeline 1 — Michael Biehn, age 27

Kyle Reese, age ? — Michael Biehn, age 34

Second, The Photo.

In the first movie, Kyle is motivated to come back and rescue Sarah partly because John gave him a photo of her. Kyle tells Sarah he always used to wonder what she was thinking about when the photo was taken — and then, at the end of the film, after Kyle is dead and Sarah has become pregnant with his child, it is revealed that Sarah was thinking of Kyle himself, and pondering whether to tell John about him. (In the end, she does — so John knows exactly why he has to give Kyle the photo of Sarah.) Thus, the first movie follows a closed-loop view of temporal mechanics: You can go back in time, but you can only fulfill what has already happened.

The sequels have messed with that idea in multiple ways, to the point where each new branch of the franchise seems to exist on a separate timeline. And there is certainly something to be said for the idea that many timelines can branch off of a single moment in time. The paradox here is that The Photo persists as an essential element in the Terminator mythology — appearing in the second movie and also in the TV series — yet it represents the very antithesis of multiple-timeline dynamics. It serves as a constant reminder that John Connor would not even exist if the series had been following the open-loop view of temporal mechanics from the beginning.

Anyway, you could almost say that The Photo is, itself, a character in these films, so here are its various depictions, arranged chronologically — that is, following the lifespan of the photo, rather than the precise dates that any film or TV episode might have assigned to any of these moments:

The Photo — fresh out of the camera, 1984

The Photo — in John’s possession, 1995 (film) or 1997 (TV)

The Photo, timeline 4 — as seen by Kyle, 2027 (TV)

The Photo, timeline 1 — as seen by Kyle, 2029 (film)

The Photo, timeline 1 — destroyed as Kyle watches, 2029 (film)

The Photo, timeline 4 — discovered after the fire, 2027 (TV)

Finally, Dr. Peter Silberman.

Dr. Silberman is the only character who appears in all three films, and a version of him appears in the TV series as well. (Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in all three films as well, but he plays a different Terminator in each film and is thus a different “character” in each film.) In the first film, he is a skeptic who does not believe in the Terminators — but in the second film, he personally witnesses a confrontation between the T-800 and the T-1000, and he deals with this in different ways, depending on which sequel is telling the story. In the third film, it is clear that he has spent the past several years trying to deny what he saw; but in the TV show, he has gone to the exact opposite extreme and has become a fanatical, even religious, believer in the Terminators.

Dr. Silberman, in 1984 — Earl Boen, age 38

Dr. Silberman, in 1995 — Earl Boen, age 45

Dr. Silberman, in 2003, timeline 3 — Earl Boen, age 56

Dr. Silberman, in 2007, timeline 4 — Bruce Davison, age 61

And that’s it for now. If even more actors tackle these roles in future movies or TV episodes, I will update this post accordingly.

MAY 17 2009 UPDATE: I have added an image of Anton Yelchin as the teenaged Kyle Reese from Terminator Salvation.