Author: Josh Wigler

‘Punisher’ Gets R-Rating

‘Punisher’ Gets R-Rating

The Motion Picture Association of America has sentenced Punisher: War Zone with an R-rating. According to CHUD, the R was granted for "pervasive strong brutal violence, language and some drug use."

Everyone who watched the red band trailer for Punisher: War Zone saw the exact same thing: disgusting, humiliating, bone-chilling violence at its absolute brainiest. For fans of Garth Ennis’ run on Punisher for Marvel’s MAX imprint, this was a very good sign. But panic broke shortly over speculation that the film would be watered down in pursuit of a PG-13 rating.

The rumors stemmed from reports that director Lexi Alexander had been unceremoniously dropped from the project due to conflicts with Lionsgate. Alexander reportedly disagreed with Lionsgate’s desire to pull punches with the violent content and their desire to use heavy metal music instead of the planned original score. All signs pointed to yet another cajones-free Punisher film.

The granting of the R-rating is sure to cool some fears as it’s likely to stick closer to Alexander’s vision, but the film is still marred with bad history. Thomas Jane, who played Frank Castle in 2004’s The Punisher, notoriously dropped out of Punisher: War Zone back in 2007. In a letter to Ain’t It Cool News, Jane wrote:

"I am, sadly — no, make that heartbrokenly — f*** it — just rip out the heart and stomp it into the pavement a couple of times — pulling out. Punisher fans are already fighting an uphill battle as it is. And I’ve always felt a responsibility to fight that fight for them and with them so that Frank Castle gets the treatment he deserves."

Jane closed the letter by calling the vigilante sequel "a movie that I just don’t believe in."

Many will argue that since The Punisher was universally panned, Jane’s opinion doesn’t amount to much. Still, it’s worth pondering why the acclaimed actor felt so strongly against the project.

Punisher: War Zone
centers on Frank Castle facing his most deadly foe yet, Jigsaw. The film, directed by Lexi Alexander, stars Ray Stevenson (Rome), Dominic West (The Wire), Julie Benz (Dexter) and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld). Punisher: War Zone will be released by Lionsgate on December 5, 2008.

Rothman Talks ‘Daredevil’ Reboot

Rothman Talks ‘Daredevil’ Reboot

In an interview with IESB, 20th Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman spoke about the possibility of rebooting their Daredevil franchise.

"A Daredevil, to use your words, reboot, is something we are thinking very seriously about," Rothman tells the site, though he adds that "[in] the movie business, nothing [happens] soon."

Fox still retains all the rights to the Daredevil franchise, Rothman claims, and thinks that audiences will be receptive to a relaunch if made to a high standard. Further, Iron Man cemented the fact that a second tier hero done well can make a lot of money.

Asked if a new Daredevil would match the dark tone of The Dark Knight, Rothman wasn’t sure that such a tone was the key to that film’s success.

"[Daredevil] needs a visionary at the level that Chris Nolan [director of The Dark Knight] was," Rothman states. "It needs a director, honestly, who has a genuine vision. What we wouldn’t do is just do it for the sake of doing it. Right?"

Not necessarily. Bryan Singer, director of X-Men and X2: X-Men United, went over to Warner Bros. to helm Superman Returns. Fox later signed Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) to replace Singer, but Vaughn also left the project due to creative differences. Rather than wait for Singer to become available again, Fox rushed X-Men: The Last Stand into production with Brett Ratner (rumored Guitar Hero adaptation) behind the wheel. In addition, James Marsden, who played Cyclops in the series, was given an extremely limited (and some might add insulting) role due to his decision to participate in Singer’s Superman Returns. In June 2005, Ain’t It Cool News ran a scathing review of the film’s script and included an open letter to Rothman pleading for him to take his time on the film. X-Men: The Last Stand opened less than a year later to lukewarm reviews.

The Mark Steven Johnson directed Daredevil did not fare nearly as well. The film, starring Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner and Michael Clarke Duncan, was panned by critics and fans alike. Released in 2003, the Man Without Fear graced the screen again briefly in the Elektra spinoff, also starring Jennifer Garner. That movie, too, didn’t fare well with the public.

Daredevil – The Director’s Cut was released on Blu-ray last Tuesday. Reviews of the cut call it "a better film, 30 minutes longer than the original." Could it be true? Buy the Blu-ray and find out!

Anyway, who would you like to see takeover the Daredevil franchise? How ’bout a Ben Affleck-directed Casey Affleck-starring reboot? Sound off on your ideas below!

AMC Goes to ‘Mars’

AMC Goes to ‘Mars’

The Hollywood Reporter details AMC’s plans to develop Red Mars, a new science fiction series based on the novel of the same name. Jonathan Hensleigh, writer of Armageddon and The Punisher, is on board as writer/executive producer. Michael Jaffe, Howard Braunstein, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and Eli Kirschner will also executive produce.

"[Red Mars] fits in with our bigger vision of wanting series that feel like cinematic one-hour movies," says Christina Wayne, AMC’s senior VP of original series and miniseries. "We’re always looking for big genres but to do them in slightly different ways so they feel fresh and new."

Red Mars, which AMC is touting as character-driven, is based on a 1992 novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. It chronicles the inhabitants of the first human colony on the planet. Robinson wrote two sequels to the novel, titled Green Mars and Blue Mars, as well as several short stories published in The Martians. AMC will certainly have a lot of material to mine for their series.

This is not the first time that Red Mars has threatened to invade television. James Cameron once held the rights to the Mars trilogy, hoping to develop it as a five-hour miniseries to be directed by Martha Coolidge. He eventually passed on the option. Gale Anne Hurd later planned a similar Mars miniseries for the Sci-Fi Channel, but that too never took flight. It remains to be seen whether AMC’s version will follow in the series’ already ill-fated track record.

In addition to Red Mars, AMC is currently developing a separate sci-fi miniseries, The Prisoner. The miniseries is a remake of the 1960s sci-fi series of the same name, with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen set to star.


‘Smallville’ Producers Talk ‘Graysons’

‘Smallville’ Producers Talk ‘Graysons’

News broke earlier this week that the CW was developing a new series based around the first Robin titled The Graysons. The show, set to focus on Dick "DJ" Grayson in his pre-Robin years, has been reported as a possible replacement for Smallville should Clark Kent’s pre-Superman adventures conclude at the end of this season.

Not so, say Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders, executive producers on Smallville and now hard at work behind the scenes on The Graysons. They issued a statement over at KryptonSite that clears the air of their intentions on developing the new series.

Says the pair:

"As news and rumors swirl around the development of The Graysons for the CW, we have every intention of letting you, our fans, be the first to know the reality. Never have we been so committed to the continuing success of Smallville as we are to seasons 8 and 9. While we are extremely excited to be working hand-in-hand with Wonderland, Warner Bros. and the CW to create the origin story of Dick Grayson, it has never been intended as a replacement for Smallville, as is speculated in some media. The cast, crew, writers and producers are all working full-steam ahead on a story-line for Clark that allows for seasons of further trials and adventures for our favorite hero. As always, we all have you to thank for achieving eight years of this amazing show that Al and Miles created, and we’re looking far beyond!"

This upcoming season of Smallville is sure to have plenty of DC heavy cameos to put any Superman lover into a fangasmic fit. Justin Hartley, who plays Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), has returned to the series as a regular this season, and will be joined once again by Justice League members Aquaman, The Flash, Black Canary, Cyborg and the Martian Manhunter. The Legion of Super-Heroes are set to join the fray this year, along with Plastique, introduced just last night. Most widely reported is the arrival of Doomsday, played by Sam Witwer (Battlestar Galactica). Doomsday famously killed Superman in the best-selling Death of Superman arc back in the nineties, leading to the creation of Superman replacements Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator.

With Peterson and Souders stating they have plans for Smallville beyond season eight, might they be setting up a junior version of the Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen stories? Holy kryptonite, that would be suh-weeeet.

Romero Brings Out His ‘Dead’

Romero Brings Out His ‘Dead’

George A. Romero is hard at work on a new untitled zombie picture, according to Variety. Though long speculated to be working on a sequel to his recent Diary of the Dead, all signs indicate that this upcoming feature is more in line with his previous Dead efforts.

The film "involves inhabitants of an isolated island off the North American coast who find their relatives rising from the dead to eat their kin. The leaders of the island feud over whether or not to kill their reanimated relatives or preserve them in hopes of finding a cure."

Just like a zombie invasion that you don’t see coming until it’s too late, Romero’s actually already deep into filming this new project. The film is fully cast, including Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Kathleen Munroe and others. Paula Devonshire is producing, while Peter Grunwald, D.J. Carson, Ara Katz and Art Spigel are executive producing alongside Romero. Shooting is taking place in Ontario, Canada.

Shortly after Variety‘s announcement, Ain’t It Cool News received a spy report from someone on the set of the new zombie flick, which the Web site is affectionately terming Island of the Dead. The report includes a description of scenes filmed, as well as a few photos.

The spy reports, "What I know about the scenes [I saw] filmed is that they take place while the survivors of a zombie attack are trying to escape an island they are on, and as they run for the ferry it has already departed and they miss the boat so they are forced to confront the zombies that are chasing them."

Sounds like classic Romero, who made his bones with his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, critically revered as both an exceptional horror film and social commentary. He continued that tradition with Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead, then returned to the franchise decades later with Land of the Dead. He broke tradition from his franchise with Diary of the Dead, filmed in a Blair Witch inspired "found footage" style. Romero’s legendary zombie work has inspired remakes, most famously Zack Snyder’s break-out interpretation of Dawn of the Dead.

Shia LaBeouf Injured on ‘Transformers 2’ Set

Shia LaBeouf Injured on ‘Transformers 2’ Set

"You’re too Shia, Shia! Hush-Hush, eye-to-eye!"

That’s Shia LaBeouf’s new theme song after this latest incident. The young actor has had a string of bad, painful luck lately that’s left him with some significant injuries. He was arrested in July after an early morning drinking related car crash that left his hand badly injured. There were some rumors that LaBeouf’s hand would never be fully functional again, going so far as to potentially losing a finger. Now recovering from the incident, the actor is back to work on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, his injury having been written into the film’s plot.

Now comes word that LaBeouf’s Final Destination-inspired luck has followed him to the Transformers set. According to TMZ, the troubled actor was injured by a prop on the set, cutting his face just below the eyebrow. After the injury was stitched, Shia hopped back on set and resumed filming. What a champ.

You know, it’s kinda like being lactose intolerant: eventually, you just live with the fact that dairy’s gonna give you the runs. Poor Shia’s gotta live with the fact that he’s always going to get beat up or otherwise publicly embarrassed. Trouble clings to this guy like a freakin’ symbiote. Still, it’s a small price to pay for hanging with Indiana Jones and Optimus Prime.

Zack Snyder on ‘300’ Sequel/Prequel

Zack Snyder on ‘300’ Sequel/Prequel

With the wild success of Zack Snyder’s 300, it’s hardly a surprise that there’s a sequel in the works. Yes, most of the cast is dead by story’s end, but before you call call madness, remember that this, is, SPARTA!! we’re talking about here.

IESB caught up with Snyder at a Watchmen event in Hollywood the other day, and got his two cents on the film’s follow-up. According to the director, development on the film project will only occur when Frank Miller has finished writing and illustrating the graphic novel’s sequel. Snyder wants Miller to have full creative control of the novel’s story, as was the case with 300.

It’s hard to imagine a sequel to 300 with Leonidas and the gang considering the film’s ending. There’s been speculation that the project would be a prequel rather than a sequel, thereby allowing Leonidas to return to fight again. Snyder set the record straight by pegging the film’s timeline between the Battle of Thermopylae and the Battle of Platea. In the film’s final narration, which takes place just before the Battle of Platea, Dilios reveals that Leonidas "died barely a year ago." Snyder says that the sequel will take place during this time, so the odds of Leonidas returning are pretty slim unless it’s in rotting carcass form.

300, based on a graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller, is a dramatization of the famous Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartan warriors battled against the Persian Empire. The film, released in March 2007, was the biggest March opening weekend of all time and the third biggest opening for an R-rated picture. The untitled sequel will be based on an as yet completed graphic novel, also by Frank Miller.

Big Screen Bears

Big Screen Bears

We just love bears here at ComicMix. Be it real bears, scary bears, Gummi Bears or Care Bears, we can’t get enough of these furry fellas! That’s why we’re pleased as punch to report that two famous bears are coming to a big screen near you.

Up first, Warner Bros. has announced a live-action feature version of Yogi Bear, based on the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Ash Brannon (Surf’s Up) is attached to direct, while Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia (Tooth Fairy, executive producers on That 70’s Show) are writing the screenplay. The film is said to be a live-action/animated hybrid along the lines of the recent Alvin and the Chipmunks. Yogi, who first appeared on The Huckleberry Hound Show before launching his own series in 1961, will be done in CG alongside his sidekick, Boo Boo. The majority of the film will be shot in live action.

And panda lovers will be happy to learn that a sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda is officially in the works. Set for release on June 3, 2011, Panda 2 will be released in 3-D on both regular and IMAX screens worldwide. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and other voice cast members will reunite for the sequel. Panda veteran Jennifer Yu Helson has signed to direct, while producer Melissa Cobb and co-producers/writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger are also set to return. Kung Fu Panda 2 will compete against Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2, also set for release in summer 2011.

If you can’t wait that long for more Panda action, all you have to do is wait until November 9 when the original film is released on two-disc DVD and Blu-ray. The package includes an original companion story, Secrets of the Furious Five. Ska-doosh.

Jon Favreau Discusses ‘Iron Man 2’

Jon Favreau Discusses ‘Iron Man 2’

With Iron Man 2 set to fly on May 7, 2010, it’s no wonder that director Jon Favreau is hard at work tuning up Tony’s armor and gadgets for his next adventure. But the big lug loves his fans so much that he took time out of his busy schedule to give an update on the upcoming sequel. Favreau participated in a live chat with fans through the LA Times yesterday and divulged plenty of information about Iron Man 2.

As of now, the film is still in the writing stages. "I’m working with Justin [Theroux], a writer," Favreau says. "He’s writing the first draft of the script. I’m working with a story board artist, [as] well as designing the costumes for good guys and bad guys."

The mention of "good guys" as a plural indicates that War Machine is a sure bet, "shoulder cannons and all," Favreau teases. But he also responds to a question about Nick Fury’s further involvement by saying, "SHIELD is important to the franchise, and what is SHIELD without Fury?"

As for those "bad guys," Favreau’s sticking to his stance that Mandarin and other villains "don’t hold up well to time and to the big screen, but their essence should inspire the characters." Nonetheless, the director has an "interesting take" on the ring-clad baddie which "allows us to incorporate the whole pantheon of villains." Can you say Fing Fang Foom?


‘Fringe’ Gets Full Season Order

‘Fringe’ Gets Full Season Order

Hot off the heels of yesterday’s report that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is endangered, word has come in that Fringe is thriving.

According to Variety, Fox has ordered a full season’s worth of episodes for their newest science fiction serial. That’s hardly a surprise, considering Fringe helped put Fox on top in the ratings on Tuesday night with a strong 9.91 million viewers. Of all new shows this season, Fringe has ranked No. 1 among all adults in the 18 – 49 age range. That ranking is in no small thanks due to House, the show’s lead-in. On Tuesday, Fringe retained 78% of House‘s audience in adults 18-49. Looks like Grumpy McGrump House (that’s his name, right?) is good for something.

Fox’s full season order means that nine more episodes will be produced for Fringe‘s freshman season, totaling the usuaal 22 episodes for a full season. There’s no guarantee that these episodes will be made, however, if the Screen Actor’s Guild approves an impending strike order. In that case, viewers will have a lot more to worry about than Fringe. Fingers crossed that those cooky Bishops can rig something up to stop the SAG!

This is the second freshman series to get a full season order, following on the heels of 90210. CBS’ well-regarded The Mentalist is expected to get its "back nine" order shortly.  Of the sophomore shows, Chuck is the only one with a full season order to date.

Fringe focuses on Olivia Dunham, an FBI Agent investigating mysterious happenings known as The Pattern. She’s assisted by Walter Bishop, an questionably sane but brilliant scientist, and his son Peter, an equally brilliant but arrogant mind. To catch up on the show, check out our weekly reviews by clicking here! (Yes, we know it’s a shameless plug-in, but just do it. It feels so right, and you know you want to.)