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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: August, 2009

POSTED: Monday, August 31, 2009, 1:04 PM
In a huge deal that promises to shake up the superhero franchise business – and the theme park and merchandizing businesses – Disney and Marvel Comics announced today that the former was acquiring the latter, to the tune of $4 billion.
 
That means that once the dust (and the sequel rights?) settles, the likes of Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Captain America and the Fantastic Four will be pitching their tents -- and their tentpoles -- in the Magic Kingdom. It’s a mighty stable of brand names, a gaggle of caped crusaders and costumed avengers (including the Avengers) that boasts mega-cross-generational appeal and that shows no sign of flagging in popularity. The Mouse House now has its very own squad of neurotic, wisecracking crime-busters to bust up the box office with. 
 
“By the hammer of Thor!” as 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon likes to exclaim.
 
POSTED: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 4:24 PM

Maybe one of the reasons Quentin Tarantino insists on spelling Inglourious Basterds the way he does (the director’s not saying) is that there’s already a Spell-Checked Inglorious Bastards out there in the universe.

Released in 1978, Enzo Castellari’s World War II action pic remains a cult fave, revered in certain cinema circles – Tarantino’s circle being one of the more notable. (Tag line on the original poster: "Whatever the Dirty Dozen did, they do it dirtier!") To capitalize on the new Weinstein Brothers' release, the first Inglorious has just been sent out on DVD and Blu-Ray via Severin Films. Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson star as members of a gang of criminals who escape an Allied prison convoy with a plan to hop over the Swiss border, but end up ‘volunteering’ for a suicide mission deep inside Nazi-occupied France instead.

Svenson’s the head Bastard in Castellari’s flick, Brad Pitt the head Basterd in Tarantino’s. The latter film definitely veers off into different territory, plot-wise, albeit still in Nazi-occupied France. Both Svenson and director Castellari show up to do cameos in Tarantino’s $70 million over-the-top Holocaust revenge actioner.
POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 2:33 PM
Add up the box office of the whopping summer hits Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the number you get (and this is just the domestic tally, as of Aug. 13) is on the far side of $465 million.
So, what next for the matchup between Paramount Pictures, distributors of said films, and Hasbro Toys, owner of the trademarks on Transformers and Joe? The studio and the toymaker must be wracking their respective noggins trying to find more lucre in the vaults. Um, I mean, on the Toys R Us shelves. 
Well, Hasbro owns the Nerf Balls. How about a live-action, CG-driven action thriller about anthropomorphized foam orbs plotting to destroy the Eiffel Tower? Nerf Balls: Retaliation of the Dart TaggersMichael Bay is said to be interested.
And then there’s the venerable rainbow-hued My Little Pony gang. How about a live-action, CG-driven action thriller in which Pinkie Pie and Scootaloo must thwart an evil plot to turn Ponyville into a glue factory and destroy the Eiffel Tower? G.I. Joe helmer Stephen Sommers is already at work on the storyboards.
 
POSTED: Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 2:41 PM

When Steven Spielberg heads to the National Constitution Center on October 8 to accept his Liberty Medal, he’ll be bringing vivid memories of a childhood spent in the Philadelphia area. From my interview with the filmmaker way back when Schindler’s List was released in December, 1993, Spielberg had this to say about his days as a whippersnapper living in Haddon Township, NJ -- and hanging around the grand hall of Philadelphia’s landmark John Wanamaker department store, in the shadow of the bronze eagle statue:

"My family lived in Haddonfield and we used to go to Philadelphia on weekends to visit relatives. . . . My parents used to put me under the eagle and leave me there for an hour and a half, alone.

"My job was not to wander - no nannies, no baby sitters - and they went shopping, because I was impossible to shop with. So they would go all around Wanamaker’s and I would sit there terrified because there was this eagle over me, there were a million people and there were nuns playing the organ. 

About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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