Interviewed by Curt Pires. Read the advanced review of THE ACTIVITY #1 here.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today Nathan. First off lets talk about your brand new book that hits the shelves December 21st . THE ACTIVITY. What was the inception of the project ? How did this concept enter your idea space? Having read the first issue, this strikes me as sort of a niche of comic, and style of story telling that isn’t really touched on much: Espionage comics.
First off, for the most part, THE ACTIVITY is not an espionage book. There will be issues that are espionage-like, but on the whole it is an action thriller in the vein of MODERN WARFARE, with some MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE in there. The idea came from reading about the real group INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT ACTIVITY, and realizing that there was nothing like this book–a grounded, realistic action/team/military thriller out there in comics (and has never really been).
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We here at Giant Killer Squid love new talent, and even though Alan Van Sprang has been around for awhile, his name is now starting to make it into some major circles. I recently had the chance to ask Alan some questions about starting out, Romero’s zombies, being Immortal and Mickey Rourke’s unblinking eyes. Enjoy!
GiantKillerSquid: How does a kid who grew up in Calgary, Alberta Canada end up working beside names like Mickey Rourke, John Hurt and Isabel Lucas?
Alan Van Sprang: It was a natural progression really. I graduated High School, went to theatre school at Mount Royal College, started doing regional theatre across Canada, got an agent in Vancouver which started me doing a bit of film and T.V. I found myself enjoying that medium a bit more and eventually got myself out of the theatre loop and found myself doing film and T.V. Each job I got was a bigger and better opportunity, which led to the next, and here I am battling Immortals and smoking cigarettes with John Hurt.
GKS: You’ve now starred in multiple George A. Romero zombie flicks (Land Of The Dead, Diary Of The Dead, Survival Of The Dead). What’s your take on the new zombie revival and the master of the genre himself?
AVS: Well, naturally I’m a slow zombie fan and a huge Romero fan, always have been. But I love zombie flicks, love Shaun Of The Dead, love The 28’s, although those aren’t zombies. I was close to getting a part in Zack Snyders Dawn Of The Dead remake, which I loved, thought that was a great remake. Actually, I’m loving the whole horror/remake surge, I think zombies will live forever (laughs).
GKS: Romero’s Survival Of The Dead is definitely one of the biggest roles you’ve done on film. Was there added pressure going into this film, as it’s star?
AVS: Well, yes there is added pressure naturally because you are carrying a story, so you are continually having to keep the whole arc of the film in your mind at all times. But I find it much easier playing huge parts and carrying stories than not. When you are supporting you don’t have the same freedom and room to breathe when telling the story, as you do when you are carrying it or when you are integral to the plot and how it moves along. But I know George so well now it was actually like going to zombie camp. It was beyond fun. He has always been so open to letting me do whatever I want that it just makes the process that much more rewarding.
GKS: Anonymous Rex, by author Eric Garcia, happens to be one of my favourite novels. Tell me about your character development process for film, particularly your character in this film, Raal?
AVS: Character development for Raal…hmmm, how do you become a Dinosaur? It was quite fun actually. Eric Garcia was on set everyday and kind of walked us through his whole take on the novel and the screenplay. I just would go on camera and be as bad ass as possible, keeping in mind that I was a bit of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Obviously we were hiding our true identities so we were always told not to have primal reptilian qualities, keep them human.
GKS: Did you get a chance to hang out with Faye Dunaway off set while filming Rex? What is it like meeting some of the big names in the film industry, as you yourself build your name?
AVS: Yeah, I spent some time with Faye on-set chatting. She was great to me, definitely the diva of the film world, an amazing presence. She works her ass off on character development which is amazing to watch and experience. I have always found meeting big names quite fun and easy. I never really get star-struck so I have always had a very laid back, very real relationship with a lot of them. For the movie I did “NARC” with Ray Liotta, we had been best friends and partners in the movie, so Ray wanted to spend quite a bit of time with me before we went to camera. So for a few weeks I would just go over to his hotel lobby and we would meet for dinner and drinks and just hang out. Working with him was definitely the best and most ‘learning’ experience I have had to date.
GKS: In addition to well over 20 film titles, you have a TON of television appearances. Which do you prefer, film or television?
AVS: I love both, but I definitely have a love affair with movies. It’s a much grander and slower process. The attention to detail is so rewarding for an actor and you are afforded the time to try and create something that is so absolutely right, where the story is crystal clear. Whereas T.V. is a bit rushed. Doing “The Tudors” was a much different experience, it was like doing a movie every episode, very rare for T.V.
GKS: Corner Gas is a massive cultural phenomenon here in Canada! Why the hell weren’t you on it?
AVS: I’m not funny enough for Corner Gas. I think I’m funny, I can be spontaneously funny in life, but you TELL me to be funny…not funny.
GKS: Degrassi is another Canadian icon. And you did act in Degrassi: The Next Generation. How does it feel to be part of such a huge tradition?
AVS: I loved being on Degrassi, loved seeing and meeting the actors from the original series, they’re all such great people and some of the true icons in Canada. In theatre schools we had a “Schools Out” party when that Degrassi movie came out, I cried for weeks, poor Wheels, Poor Lucy. (ed. Note: I still remember Caitlin saying “You Fucked Tessa Campenelli”, and she said that on T.V.!)
GKS: Tell me about the latest film you’re working on, “The Immortals”.
AVS: I play Darieos, who is an ex-slave who teams up with Theseus and is part of the Theseus 5. And unfortunately my friend, that is all I can say, otherwise I will be sued (laughter). Sorry Mark.
GKS: That’s okay, you can make it up to me by getting me press passes for the preview!
GKS: Tarsem Singh, director of “The Immortals” brought such an amazing distinctive visual style to his past feature “The Cell”. Is that same direction going to be applied to “The Immortals”?
AVS: One thing I can say about Tarsem is that he is a master visualist and he is definitely bringing that, without a doubt, to “The Immortals”. He is truly a genius and has the imagination of a four year old, and energy for days. Going through the sets and the story board with him was a six hour process in itself.
GKS: Okay, you’ve worked with both Mickey Rourke and Daniel Baldwin. Who would win in a staring contest?
AVS: (hard laughter) Mickey Rourke hands down! I don’t think he ever DOESN’T stare. Daniel would just start laughing.
GKS: Describe yourself as one fruit and one vegetable.
AVS: I’m definitely a banana and a red pepper.
See Alan Van Sprang in the upcoming BluRay release of George A. Romero’s Survival Of The Dead and the upcoming theatrical release The Immortals.
When you think of GKS what comes to mind? One hot hunk? Yes. Gladiator helmets? Of course. Rabid beasts foaming at the mouth? Certainly. But my high-school yearbook picture aside, let’s talk about all of these elements in one movie.
Back in July of ‘09, Syfy viewers were treated to Hellhounds, a fantasy-horror mixing the genres of the mythological period-piece and the creature feature. To coincide with the release of the film on DVD (available now on Amazon.com), I had the chance to pick the brain of the star of the film, Scott Elrod.
We’ll get right into the interview, but first here’s the official synopsis for Hellhounds:
When Kleitos’ (Scott Elrod) jealous friend Theron poisons his bride Demetria (Amanda Brooks), the warrior descends into the Underworld to rescue her, slaying the duplicitous Theron. The evil ruler Hades raises Theron (James A. Woods) from the dead to lead a pack of undying hellhounds, wolf-like guardians who have been released to do the bidding of their master—kill everything in their path and bring Demetria back to Hell.
It’s quite apparent that Scott is right at home here on GKS; he’s a big fan of the genre films that no doubt inspired Hellhounds. Here’s what Scott had to say..
RF: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Scott! So let’s get right into Hellhounds… what was it about Hellhounds that sold you on the project?
SE: I have always been a fan of SC-FI! So the chance to be a part of that was appealing. Toss in the gladiator side of it and I was sold. Not to mention that Rick Schroder was directing. Grew up watching him as I’m sure so many of us did so that in itself was an honor.
RF: This type of sub-genre, the period-piece epic, is relatively unsaturated save for the classics (Spartacus, Ben-Hur, etc.) though we’re beginning to see a new wave of more fantasy-based films like 300 and the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake. Did you approach the film from the vantage point of the period-piece, or were you more conscious of the fantasy/horror element?
SE: I would say neither, as these where taken care of via the special effects, costumes, and locations. I mean sure I was influenced by the classics like Spartacus, Gladiator, Ben-Hur, etc… but all in all I just tried to be as true to the script as possible. I approached it as someone who lost his wife, found out my best friend was responsible, and all I could think about was how to save her and have revenge on him.
RF: Are you a fan of the classic mythological movies, like the aforementioned Spartacus and Jason and the Argonauts? If so, was their any influence on this film, or the approach from the cast and crew?
SE: Yes a big fan, But my greatest influence was the film Gladiator. It being a great piece, you just want to be that guy!
RF: Greek mythology isn’t something easily replicated, especially on an inter-personal level – Did you do anything unusual to prepare for the role of Kleitos?
SE: As mentioned above, for me it was more about understanding the circumstances of the role I was portraying and try to be as true to that as possible.
RF: How was the physical shoot for Hellhounds, in terms of being on location in Romania, and the action scenes? Any unintentional decapitations?
SE: This was for sure the most physical demanding project I have ever done. From a location standpoint (spending a week filming in a cave to a couple of days in a bunker/torture facility used by Ceausescu) to the limited amount of time we had to shoot the film (18 days). This included a day and a half of travel time so really 16.5 days. Translation… We busted our ass! 16 plus hour days in a 3rd world country (just getting there was a treat) it made for the couple of hours sleep you got at night AMAZING! Don’t get me wrong by no means am I complaining as looking back on it, it was a great learning experience, I met some great people and would do it all over again given the chance. Bottom line the cast bonded day one, we had a great crew and that got us threw this project.
RF: The genre is most famous for it’s early stop-motion-animation work from the legendary Ray Harryhausen; in the digital age of today it’s become impractical to be so practical, and CG is the standard for digital effects, as is the case with the Hellhounds; as an actor was that an easy thing to work around? Did you have to fend off the obligatory pretend character?
SE: Imagination and direction I feel is the only way to deal with CG. In this case I was very fortunate to have a Director who had a great understanding and vision of the BIG picture. Which brought the two together (fantasy and real life) in what I hope portrayed as seamless and real as possible.
RF: I assume you’ve seen the final cut of the film. With a property so based on a specific visual aesthetic, did Hellhounds come together as you pictured in your mind, or where there any surprises?
SE: I watch it every night before I go to bed! Come on don’t you?! In fact I am watching it now…Enough with all the questions you are interrupting my movie! As for the final cut, I was surprised… In a good way. On set we get to see some of the daily’s. This is raw footage of what was just shot that day. So picture looking at your 4 inch camcorder screen and having to imagine a large wolf-like animal chasing after you in black and white, no sound effects, music etc. so to see the final project with all the CG added it was very cool.
RF: Are there any genres similar to this that you would be keen on taking on – sci-fi, horror, etc.?
SE: Always open to great scripts regardless of genre. I will be honest with you ever since seeing The Shining, horror films have freaked me out! One word… NIGHTMARES!
RF: What’s next for you?
SE: Super busy with Pilot season as all the new shows are in the process of being cast so reading new scripts, meeting with casting directors, producers, etc. I have 4 independent films that are in post production right now; Death and Cremation, Hard-breakers, Knifepoint, and Tricks of a Woman. A feature with Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Jeff Goldblum called The Baster that will be out this August. Just wrapped a guest star on ABC’s Castle and a Movie of the Week called Uncorked with Julie Benz, Elliott Gould and JoBeth Williams that will be airing this March.
Big thanks to Scott for taking the time to chat with us. If you haven’t checked out Hellhounds out already, head on over to Amazon
and pick up a copy!
You ever see one of those actors or talents that you just know is going to explode? Not literally, but in the sense of star quotient. Well, GKS’ own Ryan & Gavin recently had the pleasure of chatting with one such person – actor Max Ryan.
Those in the know will remember Max from his villainous debut in Kiss of the Dragon alongside Jet Li and more recently as the big bad guy opposite Jason Statham in Death Race.
Listen to the full interview below, where we touch on everything from being the “hope of Europe” and superheroes to Max’s next big projects including a new take on the Hunchback and his own comic book, The Devilfish Project.
Audio not working? download the interview (right-click and ’save as’)
Thanks to Max for taking the time to gab with us; seriously folks, dude is so legit and fun to talk to. We just might have to get a part II going sometime…
Visit Max Ryan’s official site or follow him on twitter.
Gavin here, and not only is this the end of the fun times I had with Jason Harlan, it’s also the debut of a brand new, never before seen, EXCLUSIVE haralncore.com boxpunx. You’ll find it at the end of the article. Click it. Print it. Make it. This I command you! And thanks go out to Jason Harlan for letting me into his world and talking to me. He is a great guy and an excellent artist. Find all of the models you can make and more at harlancore.com. Go there now. You’ll love the PF4 line I promise you. And keep your eyes peeled for some customs by me and a cutom design contest here soon.
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Gavin here, and I really had a hell of a time talking to Jason about all things gamer and anime and everything. He runs www.harlancore.com, the amazing home of the BoxPunx (and now the DollPunx too). We talked about a great deal of things here so without further ado I give you part two of my talk with Jason Harlan!
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Gavin here, and I love me some papercraft. It’s like oragami on crack. I am totally addicted to the stuff. But of all of the awesome papercraft sites out there only one stands above and beyond the rest. It’s models are amazing, the style is intriguing and the design template is friggin’ sweet. I speak of course of www.harlancore.com, run by an artist named Jason. I got the chance recently to sit down with Jason and have a talk about the entire world that is harlancore. Enjoy as I give you part one of my interview.
Gavin Stone: First off, tell me why you got into making papercraft?
harlancore: I had been collecting kubrick and bearbrick toys and was doing sketches of my own ideas. I wanted to make some customs but didn’t want to buy a bunch of blank toys. I mean, I wanted to, but couldn’t afford to. Then I bought Cardboy’s CMYK cartridges and discovered, hey this model is half paper…I bet I could make a paper model that I could customize. That’s the simple story of how I started.
Gavin Stone: I loved kubricks. I was all over the Evangelion ones. What were your favorites?
harlancore: I have some of the ALIEN kubricks that are really cool, a 300% pushead anniversary bearbrick, and yeah I really like the EVA ones too. I also like the Cry for Dawn and Devilman kubricks.
Gavin Stone: Devilman is awesome. The first BoxPunx I ever made was Spider-man. It was hard as hell to put together once I got to the legs. It just confused me. How hard was it to create the template?
harlancore: The hardest part is definitely making the template. What seems simple to you may not be so simple to others, especially if there are little to no instructions. I have since gone back and changed the legs, but it did take a while to come up with a better way. I always make quite a few templates before deciding on one, usually because how I imagined it would look vs how it came out is very different at first. As time has gone by, I have got better at thinking in 3-D.
Gavin Stone: Was the redesign more of a forced thing since there were weird people like me who just kinda looked at it and went ‘huh’ when we got the legs? Cause since then it’s second nature to me now.
harlancore: Right, once you understand how the legs are supposed to go, it’s pretty simple after all. I guess I changed it in part of people’s comments, but also a desire to simplify the model as well, from a “cutting” aspect. When cutting out so many models, the mind tends to focus on things like “how can I make this easier?” So changing the model also meant quicker to cut out.
Gavin Stone: I have to agree with that. Why do all of your designs stick their tongues out? Are they pissed at us or something? Are they mad we cut them out, cause I think if someone cut me out it might be a little painful.
harlancore: Haha! My favorite question. Ultimately I intended it as a trademark. An easy way to recognize my models. If the tongue is sticking out, people would think of me. As far as interpretation, I will leave that up to the collector. Maybe it’s because punx can be rude. But they can also be poetic as well.
Gavin Stone: Why did you make BoxPunx 2.0 without tongues? I was designing some custom designs and I realized there are no tongues for that model!
harlancore: When I was changing the legs to simplify that model, I realized I could fit two models on one page, if I lost the tongues, and make it that much quicker to cut out. Plus I thought it would be fun to do some models without the tongues for a while. Mix it up a bit and all that. Although I did just finish adding the tongue back to the 2.0 template and plan to release that soon.
Gavin Stone: Sweet, though i would have loved to see Nemisis with his tongue out at Leon. Now that would have been a funny ass rasberry match.
harlancore: hehe, indeed.
Gavin Stone: The DollPunx line. Explain to me how you came up with it cause when I first tried it I made the pimp from ‘Innocence and Rainbows’. My Pimp did not come out very good and I was ready to scrap that line, but then you threw DarkStalkers out there. Why did you feel the need to make a new template past the boxpunx?
harlancore: I have sketchbooks where I draw tons of various shape combinations. I started experimenting with the idea of giving the basic boxpunx shape some long sexy legs. Eventually I sketched this scary looking Japanese schoolgirl character into the dollpunx shape and thought it looked kind of interesting. I built it and really liked it, especially how it was both similar and different to what I was already doing. Like the shapes were now reminiscent of my style, not just the drawing. At least that’s the feeling I got. So I started drawing more characters into the shape, liked the results, and decided to go ahead and release it as a new model.
Gavin Stone: When I think of Donovan, I don’t think Long Sexy Legs.
harlancore: lol, me either, my hurdle with the dollpunx was how to make the “skirt” each model has look masculine when it needs to. Luckily I think it worked out.
Gavin Stone: I had that issue too. When I put together John Talbain I looked at it and said “What the Hell?” but the design grew on me and as a set it comes together.
harlancore: Sometimes in order to make something work you have to MAKE IT WORK. That is the boxpunx manta I guess, hehe.
Gavin Stone: You took on a very ambitious project with the PF4 series – A ‘player vs player’ concept. Why? Did you not have enough to do? I mean I am not complaining, but being an artist myself I know how much time things can take.
harlancore: I guess it’s just a desire to make as many as I can. I love these characters, I have for many, many years, and it just seems natural that they would be a part of boxpunx. It would be easier sure if there were only 12 Darkstalkers, but I think, if a fan likes these models, and I left out their favorite character, that would be a disappointment. So the PersonaFAN series is big, because there are so many characters. Plus I like having an endless pool of model ideas. Being a fanboy, I don’t expect to run out of inspiration any time soon.
Gavin Stone: So do you like Darkstalkers or Persona better?
harlancore: I am definitely a bigger Persona fan than Darkstalkers fan, but I really love the character designs for both games on an almost equal level.
Gavin Stone: I haven’t played Person since the first one, but Darkstalkers is eternal to me. I am all over Felicia. I play her and make fighting cat noises and it is just a lot of fun. Which, but the way, you gave Felicia some weird hair. I saw in the strategy guide you had some issues with it. Did you just run out of glue or what cause she has a lot of hair.
harlancore: Felicia wasn’t easy, no. I made a bunch of different hair styles and none of them looked very good. I wanted her hair to be “big”, but didn’t want to just glue a big piece of hair to her back. The first one I made was like that, and instead of hair it just looked like this big blue piece of paper stuck haphazardly to her. So I decided to dial it back a bit. Sorry to all the Felicia fans out there if you aren’t happy with the hair! I invite you to fix it and send me the template! At some point I have to just go with something and move on. Or else I will never finish!
Gavin Stone: You blogged that you wanted to get back to more original artwork? Does this mean you will leave the fanboy types of designs to someone else? I feel you have a great mix of original and licensed items to offer. It would be a shame to lose that variety. You have Johnny the Homicidal Maniac next to some Disco Queen. Awesome.
harlancore: I will never stop doing fanboy stuff, I just want to bounce back and forth really. I really like the variety as well. Plus, I absolutely love making the promotional images for the fanboy stuff. It never gets old!
Gavin Stone: So will we see a Squee to go with Johnny?
harlancore: Maybe. I am wearing a Squee T-shirt right now! I love Jhonen’s characters, and imagine I will make one or two more before it’s over.
Gavin Stone: I love it! Jhonen Vasquez is odd. I can not imagine Nickelodeon approaching him of all people to make a cartoon, but we got Invader Zim from it
harlancore: Yeah, unusual story for sure, but we the audience did indeed benefit! Thanks you guys! hehe
Gavin Stone: I would love to see Filler Bunny, or that thing from Everything can be Beaten. That thing was creepy.
harlancore: Indeed. Either of those in animated form would be cool to see.
Gavin Stone: One thing I do not see a lot of in your archive is movie based papercraft. Why is that? Where’s the love for some awesome movie characters?
harlancore: Although I love video games and sci-fi fantasy stuff, most of the movies in that genre fall flat for me, so I gravitate to more dramatic, independent cinema. Not good inspiration for papercraft. I like directors like David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sophia Coppola, and Michel Gondry. I like movies with great soundtracks. Plus there are a lot of toys, both papercraft and vinyl, based on movie characters already. I did make R2-D2 and C-3PO though. Right now I am just waiting for the next good idea.
Gavin Stone: Yeah, i’ll get to your lacking oversight in the star wars category later…:P
harlancore: lol, ok
Gavin Stone: Also I notice you make a lot of unique decisions in your character choices. Like for [adultswim] you made Number 21 but not the Monarch. What draws you to make those decisions?
harlancore: I thought it would be cool to occasionally make characters other than the main characters. Especially if someone has already make excellent versions of those characters. Take Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Squidbillies for example. I love those shows, but there are already great Cubeecrafts for all of the characters. Instead of making more, I just downloaded and built those! It’s all an attempt at being different really.
Gavin Stone: as much as i love #21 do you plan to make more [adultswim] guys? I need some SuperJail things.
harlancore: I love Superjail. I am definitely going to make Superjail boxpunx. That will be coming sooner than later, I have already begun sketches.
Gavin Stone: That is like my favorite freaking show on [adultswim]. I was sold from the pilot when the meat monster rose up and ate the werewolf inmates and the pink bunny inmates. Awesome freaking show. You have to do a Combaticus.
harlancore: Yeah, it’s great. The art is tremendous, and all the voice actors are hilarious. I have always loved David Wain, so hearing him as the warden is a real treat.
Gavin Stone: I like Alice. She is a real character.
harlancore: Indeed. I want to do them all, definitely. A whole set could be awesome.
To Be Continued On Wednesday!
Happy new year everyone! 2008 is a wrap, and it was a fantastic year for film. I can’t recall a year that’s been as consistently awesome since the eighties. But without further ado, here’s what my best and worst for the year.
Note, there are several flicks not included in that I just couldn’t see. I got married in October, and to say the rest of the year has been hectic is an understatement.
10. Funny Games
I wasn’t quite sure of how I felt about Funny Games while I was watching it, but it hit me shortly afterwards: I’ve never felt so uncomfortable watching a film for its entire duration.Michael Haneke adapted his own 1997 film for the US market that tells the story of a family terrorized by two strange young men. The films tension, pacing and turns of bizarre make this film one of a kind for the year and an unusual addition to my list.
9. The Foot Fist Way
Danny McBride is ridiculously funny. Dare I say the film achieves just as much as Napoleon Dynamite, with McBride’s performance as a small-town Taekwondo instructor making him next in line for the comedy torch. If you haven’t seen this one, check it out immediately.
8. The Strangers
Quite honestly, The Strangers creeped me out. I can count on one hand how many horror films have accomplished that in the last decade alone. The film is so concentrated, and small; it is the perfect little horror story that keeps us with our main characters as they go through hell. And to further drive the scare home, the true horror is revealed at the films bleak ending. Much like Funny Games, The Strangers is a complete downer that I may not watch again, but damn was it effective.
7. Speed Racer
Don’t crucify me just yet. I felt that everyone was way too hard on Speed Racer. Like I said in my review, if this film came out when I was eight, I would’ve lost my shit. Whether you dug it or not, the films visuals are eye-popping, and the first true live-action cartoon. Granted it could’ve lost a good 15 minutes in run-time, I had a whole lot of fun watching it, and I think that was the point.
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
There’s just nothing wrong with this comedy. The entire cast brought something to the table, and I laughed my ass off thoroughly. I can’t wait to see more from Jason Segel.
5. The Incredible Hulk
I totally gushed over this in my review, and after a few more viewings since its release on Blu-Ray, I stand by it. This is the best a Hulk film can be, and major kudos to director Louis Leterrier. I really hope that Edward Norton can come back for a sequel, or at least to be a part of the Avengers movie.
4. Burn After Reading
I caught this one on Blu-Ray last week, and I knew it would make this list within 10 minutes. This cast was a knockout. Every character was perfectly lost in their roles, and equally hilarious (though it was wonderful to see John Malkovich get some much deserved attention). There can be no doubt that the Coen brothers are the two of the finest directors working today, and perhaps two of the best of all time in terms of consistency.
3. The Dark Knight
What else can be said about The Dark Knight that hasn’t been said thousands of times already? The film is EPIC, plain and simple. I’ve re-watched it a couple times since its release on home video, and with every subsequent viewing I do notice little things that seem a little off, like Batman’s voice, fight scenes, and perhaps some pacing issues. But c’mon, scrutinizing these things does not take away from the film as a whole. That’s like criticizing a microscopic imperfection in the Sistine Chapel.
2. Iron Man
While not as technically or traditionally sound as The Dark Knight, I see Iron Man as the greatest comic book film made to date. Its cast, performances, visuals and devotion to its source material has me squirming in geeky giddiness every time I watch it. I simply adore it. I got five bucks, however, that says Watchmen destroys it. Until then, Iron Man is king.
You can check out my review of Pixar’s masterpiece here, and that’s all I can really say. Wall-E should serve as a how-to for any filmmaker. It is completely and entirely a display of visual and technical excellence. My heart had not been melted since E.T., and Wall-E mopped the floor with ol’ canned ham head.
I was going to make a list of the 10 worst films of last year… but in reality there is only one. This one is so bad, that to put nine more films in the same category would be unfair. That film, of course, is M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.
The Happening is one of the biggest pieces of shit I have ever seen in my entire life. The film lacks any and all subtlety… even when the monster is AIR. Thin air. Wind. People ran away, screaming, from a gust of wind. Who the fuck in their right mind would agree to let someone film this? Why would any actor want to do this? I can’t really call them actors anymore, the performances, across the board, were some of the most atrocious I’ve ever seen. What is the point of this movie? Shyamalan created a vehicle simply to indulge a simple audience in showing us death scenes. None of the characters have a mission or struggle to overcome, other than breathing air. Ridiculous. Shyamalan is horrid.
There you have it. There’s just a glance back at 2008 in film. 2009 has some interesting stuff coming up, like Star Trek, Pixar’s Up, and my most anticipated film of all time, Watchmen (keep your fingers crossed that it will be released).
I wish you all the best in 2009!