Agatha Christie’s cinematic renaissance

With the release of Rian Johnson’s Agatha Christie-esque whodunit Knives Out (2019) coming up November 29, the Queen of Crime is making a comeback after BBC One’s Miss Marple (1984-1992) and ITV’s Poirot (1989-2013) sanitized her writing, according to The Guardian. Johnson cites Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (2017) as well as even Kyle Newacheck’s Christie parody, Murder Mystery (2019), as inspirations behind his own homage. David Brawn of HarperCollins, Christie’s publisher for the last twenty-five years, says the darker, more psychological crime authors of the 1980s are the reason audiences stopped taking her as seriously.

Hulu review: Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” (2007)

Not only did this abortion of a movie kill Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, it also spawned Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) reboot, a franchise which lasted all of two films.

Yes, it really is as bad as the reputation that precedes it.

If you don’t know what not to watch next, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (2007) is available to stream on Hulu. The filmmaker is also part-responsible for Ivan Raimi and Grant Curtis’s script.

That sixty-three percent of positive reviews aggregated via Rotten Tomatoes is a passing grade for a failure of a superhero film.

One year after Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004), the time is right for an uncharacteristically vain Peter Parker (Maguire) to propose to the struggling (not to mention jealous and selfish) Broadway actress Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), whose star flickers as Spider-Man’s rises.

Harry Osborn (James Franco), Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), and their sisters all do battle with Spider-Man.

Ad interim, an extraterrestrial parasite falls to Earth on a meteorite and bonds itself to Peter, teasing out the dark side of his powers, jeopardizing his humanity, and whispering disastrous hairstyling advice into his ear.

To be fair, Spider-Man 2 was the all-time greatest of its genre until the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), so any sequel was all but destined to fall short (much like Nolan’s own The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as a matter of fact).

And Spider-Man 3 comes its closest to working in the first act, with the conflict between Peter and the New Goblin mounting to a critical pitch throughout the course of the (accidental) trilogy.

Once Harry succumbs to amnesia (yes, seriously), the soap operatic melodrama drowns the drama in so much curdled cheese, and the tightly wound tension wets its pants in a flaccid anticlimax.

Even the laughably miscast Grace as Venom could have seduced Peter into killing Harry under Raimi’s horror auteurship (which distinguishes the hospital setpiece in Spider-Man 2), but, instead, we get a superfluous Sandman, and an underused Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Consequently, the character arcs are oversimplified into the most thoughtlessly digestible versions of themselves.

That’s why this critic strained to synopsize this overcrowded picture.

It’s an opportunity missed – Peter could’ve lost MJ after murdering Harry, and then Raimi could’ve directed a sequel about Gwen, with the splendidly computer-animated Sandman as the antagonist – and it’s an opportunity sorely missed, because Maguire is Spider-Man.

His boyish screen persona satisfies the comic book wish fulfillment of a nerd becoming a superhero, as opposed to the hipster supermodel that is Andrew Garfield; Tom Holland is the best of both worlds, and he may not be what Sony deserves, but he is what they need right now.

Fans react to “Sonic the Hedgehog” redesign

Amidst backlash, Paramount pledged in May to overhaul the character design behind the titular video game hero of Jeff Fowler’s Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), and with the new trailer released yesterday morning, the response on Twitter has been positive, according to The Guardian. With his human teeth removed, his eyes enlarged, and the color of his fur brightened, the Sega mascot now more closely takes after character designer Naoto Ohshima’s original vision, a lovechild between Japanese kawaii as well as American “cool.” The preview for the Jim Carrey vehicle also features more aesthetical takeaways from the games, both scenically and auditorily.

A One Direction fan fiction adaptation wins big at People’s Choice Awards

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Australian actress Josephine Langford stars in a movie based on a self-published e-book about a college student who falls in love with Harry Styles. (Image Courtesy: BBC News).

Jenny Gage’s After (2019) beat Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) as well as Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman (2019) at the People’s Choice Awards in the drama category, despite only seventeen percent of critical reviews aggregated through Rotten Tomatoes being positive, according to BBC News. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes’s nephew, Hero-Fiennes Tiffin, is adapted from a piece of One Direction fan fiction first published by Anna Todd on WattPadd in 2013, which has gone on to be read more than six hundred million times and snagged the thirty-year-old author a book deal. Roger Kumble’s sequel, After We Collided (2020), recently wrapped production.

Philip Pullman defends Chris Weitz’s “The Golden Compass” (2007)

Philip Pullman, the author behind the His Dark Materials young adult fantasy series, took to Twitter this morning to speak up for Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass (2007), an adaptation of his 1995 novel of the same name, according to The Independent. Only forty-two percent of reviews aggregated through Rotten Tomatoes for the Nicole Kidman vehicle are positive, and its underperformance scrapped the two planned sequels, but Pullman, praising the cast (and singling out star Dakota Blue Johnson), says they had not enough time. The televised interpretation, BBC One’s His Dark Materials (2019-), is a critical as well as popular success.

Sharon Stone recreates iconic “Basic Instinct” scene for “GQ”

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Sharon Stone received a standing ovation for her acceptance speech at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, empowering women to celebrate their own life-changing moments. (Image Courtesy: Entertainment Tonight).

Sharon Stone won the Woman of the Year Award on Thursday at the 2019 GQ Men of the Year Awards in Berlin, asking for a chair to be brought on stage to reenact the moment that changed her life from Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992), according to Entertainment Tonight. The sixty-one-year-old star told the audience to cross and uncross their legs along with her, reconstructing the most iconic (or infamous) part of the performance which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Stone says she had to fight hard for Woman of the Year after being a joke for so long.

A CGI James Dean has been cast in an upcoming independent film

Using old footage and photos as well as a voice actor, Magic City Films, the production company behind Anton Ernst and Tati Golykh’s Finding Jack, will cast a computer-generated James Dean in their new Vietnam War drama, according to Time. Chris Evans took to Twitter to condemn the digital performance as “shameful,” but Mark Roesler, chairman and chief executive of CMG Worldwide (who licensed Dean’s likeness to the filmmaking team), says CMG represents the Hollywood icon’s family’s interests. Dean starred in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Elia Kazan’s East of Eden (1955), and George Stevens’s Giant (1956) before dying in a car accident in 1955 at twenty-four years old.