For a person of a certain disposition (hi), the arrival of summer can feel like it comes with a lot of pressure to ... like, do things? Outside? Look, I didn't become a pop culture writer with a focus on TV because I enjoy letting the sun beating down on my vulnerable, fish-belly-like skin (and yes, I have already gotten my first burn of the year). So at first when I saw that Dark Skies was out on VOD, my thought was, "This is the perfect way to counterprogram the weather: I'll post up on the couch and revel in the skies' darkness and screw the actual beautiful sunshine outside!"
Then I watched the trailer and found out that Dark Skies is also part of the hiking-industrial complex's relentless propaganda machine. Whereas some horror movies are content to make you scared of terrible things aliens could do to you, or terrible things that can happen in your house, Dark Skies gets greedy and throws in both. Apparently, the alien that's specifically targeted my family for destruction might initially make its presence known by installing a naive art exhibit in my living room? That's the most benign thing that happens in the trailer, and I would probably hate it more than being made to bang my head against my front picture window.
Reese, in pieces: Here is yet another video of Reese Witherspoon mismanaging her husband's DUI arrest. In this clip, Toth informs Witherspoon that she just "turned it really bad." Ah, scenes from a marriage. Police dash cams just make me feel more nervous about Google Glass.
This Friday sees the release of Iron Man 3, with Robert Downey Jr. returning to the role that took him from (hugely rewarding) indie purgatory to all-out blockbuster movie star. But there are more than two chapters to the RDJ saga, and this week the Grantland staff looks back at some of the most memorable moments of his career.
On Thursday, Ghostface Killah stopped by MTV's RapFix Live to plug Wu-Block, the new collaborative effort from him and D-Block's Sheek Louch, and happened to get on the topic of his recent, odd little legal skirmish. While taking fan questions over Twitter (how 2012 of you, RapFix Live!), Ghost was asked, "There are rumors that Marvel is trying to sue you over Ironman. How wack is that?"
We are willing to stipulate that the first Iron Man is among the best comic book movies of all time. Was it better than even The Avengers? Is it fanboy blasphemy to dare introduce such an idea, especially considering the Marvel All-Star Spandex and Airbrushed Body-Armor Superhero Gangbang is the third-highest-grossing film in the history of mankind? Let's table that discussion for the moment, but we will point out the fact that Iron Man didn't squander an entire set piece on propeller repair. Sorry. Things get awkward when you try to speak truth to power. To his credit, Captain America was really good at pulling that one lever labeled "FIX FLYING HEADQUARTERS."
We are also willing to stipulate, perhaps less controversially, that Iron Man 2 was a garbage fire so white-hot we've mentally recast Taylor Kitsch in it to keep recent-vintage Robert Downey Jr. pristine in our minds. Not even Mickey Rourke's electric whip burlesque rodeo could save it, no matter how many race cars he sliced in half.
On Wednesday, Marvel Films announced the director for Captain America 2: The Return of the Sepia-Stained Pectorals, due to be released in 2014. Make that directors: Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo were given the gig over fellow finalists Tim Story (Fantastic Four) and George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau). At first blush it may seem strange that the fraternal filmers responsible for the “Advanced Gay” episode of Community and the Arrested Development episode in which Jason Bateman and Will Arnett endeavor to track the seal that ate their brother’s hand would be given the keys to such an expensive, if retro, sports car. (The first Captain America made over $368 million worldwide in 2011. Take that, globalization!) But from a purely creative perspective, the Russos — whose previous feature credit was 2006’s failed bromance You, Me and Dupree — are actually an inspired choice. Their time on manic sitcoms like Happy Endings and especially Community provided opportunities to direct everything from bottle episodes to full-on paintball bloodbaths, and their zippy sensibilities are a good fit for the winking pop propaganda that made the first installment a surprising success. But there’s an equally clever business sense at play here as well. After dabbling with proven cinéastes for the opening chapters in their ever-expanding multiplex multiverse — Shakespearian Kenneth Branagh for Thor, '40s fetishist Joe Johnston for the first Cap, and aging swinger Jon Favreau for Iron Man — Marvel has turned to another medium entirely to find the talent capable of keeping the party going, and, more importantly, the costs down: television.
Despite a premise that fused two once-reliable genres and a cast featuring both Indiana Jones and James Bond, Jon Favreau’s $163 million Cowboys & Aliens got smurfing smurfed at the box office over the weekend, opening to a measly $36.2 million — well below even the modest $45 million its makers had predicted. As Harrison Ford scrambles into the nearest refrigerator, we at Grantland are left to wonder just what happened. We asked an agent, a producer, and a publicist for insight on why C&A bombed so badly — and what the fallout might be for its makers and Hollywood at large.