Geek Doc: The Death Of Superman Lives (2015)

the-death-of-superman-lives-posterDirector and documentarian Jon Schnepp asked the question many of us have been wondering since the 90s: What happened to Tim Burton’s Superman Lives? Back then, word got out that the Batman Returns helmer would put his stamp on the Man of Steel with star Nicolas Cage. Most of us didn’t hear much else aside from the film’s eventual demise, Kevin Smith’s recollection of writing the film’s first draft and later design images that would find their way online. Enter The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened?

As the film got rolling producer Jon Peters hired a slew of people to work on the project. Smith and two other screenwriters worked on the script, Burton invested himself in the story and a variety of costume designers and artists started working on the ever-changing visual elements.

But, even with so many people working hard on the film, it ultimately fell apart. The doc doesn’t necessarily place the blame on any one individual person involved, though its hard not to put Peters’ name up there with some of the chicanery he pulled. Ultimately, though, the answer to the question posed in the title comes down to some simple facts: Burton’s weird vision made the studio nervous. That same vision also would have cost a bunch of money to bring to life and the studio eventually decided to go another direction that lead to Superman Returns.

Even so, this doc isn’t really about why Superman Lives didn’t get made, it’s about all the work that went into it while the creative people involved thought they were making it. Everyone from Peters and Smith to Burton and costume designer Colleen Atwood. It’s fascinating to see how they all attempted to bring each others’ visions to life and maybe a little tragic that it was all for nothing. Except, it’s not really for nothing because this public record of their work now exists. I think that might be the great thing about this era of “why didn’t it get made” documentaries. They take something that a lot of people put a lot of effort into and bring it to your attention, even if it’s not in the originally intended way. With that in mind, I’m even more excited about eventually seeing Doomed and the one about George Miller’s Justice League movie.

For all the effort he put into the film, I give Schnepp huge buckets of kudos. Cage is the only major player who did get interviewed for this thing, but he still shows up thanks to some filmed segments of him trying on the costumes with Atwood and Burton. Those clips really bring the whole thing together because the represent the in-the-moment as opposed to the looking-back. I’m not personally a fan of the animated sequences in the film and think it’s super awkward for the interviewer to be on camera nodding when the subject is answering questions, but altogether I can’t recommend this movie enough for anyone who’s ever been even remotely interested in Superman Lives or the process that goes into making these big, blockbuster superhero films.

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Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

dante's infernoFede Alvarez, who most recently remade Evil Dead, is in talks with Universal to helm an adaptation of the Dante’s Inferno video game from Electronic Arts. The video games star a knight named Dante advised by the poet Virgil as he navigates a battle between heaven and hell. [via Deadline]Boss 2 2012 Gallery

Turns out Nicolas Cage won’t be in The Expendables 3, but Kelsey Grammer is close to filling the spot. Grammer will play Bonaparte, a former mercenary who helps the team out. [via Deadline]

It wouldn’t be a Bullet Points without a picture from Dwayne Johnson’s Twitter account. This time we’ve got two shots of the in-progress Hercules film based on the Radical comic Hercules: The Thracean War. One prominently features director Brett Ratner while the other shows another piece of impress set building. the-tomb-arnold-schwarzenegger

For about a day there was talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a bad guy in James Cameron’s Avatar 2 thanks to a story on Latino Review. Then sites like THR reported that Fox said the Terminator actor’s not even in talks for the role. Wahwah. MStuffins_001A

Comic book company BOOM! Studios, the same people who published 2 Guns, scored another live action deal. This one’s with Fox for a TV series based on Mark Sable and Julian Totino Tedesco’s Unthinkable. The plot revolves around an FBI agent teaming up with a screenwriter who was part of a think tank about potential threats years earlier. [via Deadline]

Finally, if you’re looking for some fan-made film continuations, check out The Dark Knight Legacy, which takes place in the streets of Gotham a year after the events of The Dark Knight Rises. The first episode features the Red Hood, Stephanie Brown and a guy doing a pretty darn good impression of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If you like what you see, you can contribute to the project’s Indiegogo page. [via SHH]

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

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TheWrap reports that Vin Diesel has signed on to star in the sci-fi, alien-fighting thriller Soldiers Of The Sun at Universal. Written by Arash Amel (Erased, I Am Legend 2), the flick finds Diesel and a group of soldiers in a post-apocalyptic world trying to find a city of gold.

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World War Z writer Matthew Michael Carnahan scored Ray Liotta and Linda Emond to play the parents in his Godfather-inspired modern day mob flick Violent Talent, Deadline reports. Carnahan wrote the script and will also direct.

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Deadline broke news that Hard Candy and 30 Days Of Night director David Slade will direct the first episode of NBC’s pirate series Crossobones. The show was created by Luther‘s Neil Cross and stars John Malkovich.

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The CW’s Arrow will be adding a new character based on the world of DC Comics played by Teryl Rothery (Caprica, Hellcats). SpoilerTV says she’ll portray Jean Lorring, a lawyer who defends Moira Queen for the crimes she confessed at the end of the first season. In the comics, Lorring was married to the Atom and eventually went insane.

Variety says that Switched At Birth‘s Cassi Thompson is replacing Disney star Ashley Tisdale as Nic Cage’s daughter in the big budget version of Left Behind currently in the works.

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Warrior star Joel Edgerton is looking to play Ramses in Ridley Scott’s Exodus against Christian Bale’s Moses, Deadline reports. This sounds like a more serious film, but if these guys don’t throw down at some point, it’s everyone’s loss.

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Sullivan Stapleton, the star of 300: Rise Of An Empire, signed on for Krive Stenders’ Australian thriller Kill Me Three Times, a project that’s been in the works for a while now. [via Deadline]

Finally, if you’re interested in checking out the motion comic prequel to the upcoming Mad Max game,  just check out the videos above and below. The game hits next year, but  what the heck is the deal with Mad Max: Fury Road?

Stallone Says Ford Is Replacing Willis In The Expendables 3

the_expendables_2 We here at Explosions Are Rad are big fans of the mash-up action-fests better known as The Expendables movies. The brainchild of Sylvester Stallone, the films bring together some of the best and brightest action stars of all time together offering explosions, fight scenes and gunplay worth the price of admission alone.

If you’re a fan of the franchise, you really need to follow Stallone on Twitter (he’s @TheSlyStallone). The legendary action star took to social media today to not only announce that Bruce Willis won’t return for The Expendables 3, but also that he’ll be replaced by Harrison Ford. “WILLIS OUT… HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!”

He followed that up with what seems like a slam against Willis who appeared as Mr. Church in the first two Expendables movies. “GREEDY AND LAZY …… A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE”

Willis’ Mr. Church played an important role in both films. In the first, he hired the team to invade Valena and in the second he uses their failure in the first movie as leverage to send them out to get a device that winds up putting them in direct opposition to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Vilain. He even got in on the action alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the second film. Will Ford do the same in 3? We sure hope so.

Last month, Stallone also said via Twitter that the new film, directed by Red Hill‘s Patrick Hughes, will feature real life fighters Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz as well.  Hopefully, they fall into Randy Couture territory and turn out to be super watchable on screen. The film is also said to star Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, Jackie Chan, Kellan Lutz, Milla Jovovich, Wesley Snipes and many more.

Rad Review: Drive Angry (2011)

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It seems impossible to tell if Nicolas Cage is a good actor. Instead of playing a character, he just controls how much of his inner lunatic he decides to let the camera see. Drive Angry from director Patrick Lussier (Dracula 2000, the My Bloody Valentine remake) lets Cage unleash the full flow of insanity as Milton, a guy who escaped hell to get revenge on cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke), who killed his daughter and snatched his grandaughter. Along the way he teams up with Amber Heard’s Piper, a tough young woman without much going on in her life aside from a cheating boyfriend and a crappy waitress job. As they operate their automobile in a perturbed fashion, Milton and PIper also have to stay several steps ahead of The Accountant (William Fichtner), an agent of Hell looking to bring back the escaped Milton.

amber heard drive angryLussier — who co-wrote the script with Todd Farmer (Jason X, the My Blood Valentine remake) — does a great job of having fun with this story. It’s not overly gory, but plenty of blood is spilled and bullets fired. The gore effects that do exist look just as gross as they should considering the wounds inflicted and the over-the-top style of the film. While the movie doesn’t get into hand-to-hand combat too often there’s plenty of excellent driving scenes, lots of gunplay and a few run-ins that show just how silly it is for regular ol’ humans to go up against supernatural entities.

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Actually, Heard gets her fists dirty more than anyone else in the movie and does a pretty serviceable job going up against dudes much bigger than her. She smacks around the woman her boyfriend’s cheating on her with before trying to give him the business end of an ass kicking. Later on, she throws down with King on an RV. After saying he’s going to kill her she drops this fantastic bit of dialog: “Between now and then, I’m gonna f*ck you up.” You might not think it to look at Heard in her other roles, but she delivers it like she means it, then backs it up. Good for her.

When it comes to the chase scenes, of which there many, Lussier gets pretty inventive with the car-eography. After a lifetime of watching car chases on television and in movies, they can get a little boring, but this one uses a lot of fun elements like the Accountant driving a Hydrogen truck into a small army of cop cars, stepping out on a truck and Milton driving just so to avoid the explosion. Sure, it looks a little CGI-y on Blu-ray, but it’s over pretty quickly and the idea is cool enough to outshine some execution flaws.

Speaking of of the Blu-ray presentation, it’s possible this movie looks too good. This is completely subjective, but since the film takes a lot of its cues from the grindhouse flicks of the 70s,  you sometimes want it to look a little less clean and pristine. It’s kind of like listening to a completely remastered version of a live Ramones show. Everything’s still there, but the grit is gone. That’s not to say this is a clean movie, there’s lots of death, carnage and nudity to go around, it all just looks really crisp and clear.

A few other highlights from the film include Tom Atkinson’s role as a local police captain. That guy’s pure gold in everything. Speaking of being great in everything, watching Cage and Fichtner on screen together is delightful. The fact that this is an original story with some big stars and a fairly good effects budget is also cool and something we’re seeing less and less of at the movies. After being disappointed with how Parker didn’t add much to the revenge/heist genre, it’s good to watch something like Drive Angry that did as much as it possibly could with the materials available.

Finally, did anyone see this in 3D? It was shot that way, but the Blu-ray rental from Netflix didn’t have the option. Drop a comment and let us know.