Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The 7 Most Epic Rickrolls Ever

It seems these days that almost everything is made easier with the aid of the internet, and that notion certainly holds true when it comes to pranks. One recent phenomenon that can attest to this growing trend is the humiliating gag known as the Rickroll. If you don't know what it means to be Rickroll'd, then I welcome you to the world wide web, internet virgin. And if you do, then here are 7 examples of some of the best Rick Astley pranks that have been pulled and then documented.

7- Olympic torch procession

We can only guess that the sole reason people would protest the recent Olympic torch relay through San Francisco would be in objection to the recent inhumane treatment of Tibetan monks by the Chinese government. And not simply because they are 22 and unemployed, and their mother gave them permission to have the car for the day, and they think that mocking the establishment with a kooky internet fad will make them hip, local celebrities. Fortunately, for these creative jokesters, their effort to prank a symbolic relay runner and a couple police escorts was caught on film, increasing their gag's punch-line ten-fold, and in turn giving them some credence regarding the prank's potentially admirable motives.

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: Maybe 3 if you're counting the relay runner and the cops, however, if you include the Country of China it's about 1,321,851,891.

6- Scientology protest

If you plan on mocking an unbelievably ridiculous religious denomination/cult, what better way to do so than with an equally ridiculous prank. This gag saw the annoying power of Rick Astley face off against idiots who are possessed by victimized alien spirits that died at the hands of the evil Galactic Federation's leader Xenu. And as if those Martian-embodied morons didn't have it bad enough just going up against Mr. Astley's generic 80s easy-listening tunes, they also had the music delivered to them by a real life werewolf of London (sporting a light blue jacket and backpack no less). It's rumored that Tom Cruise was so angered by this demonstration that he plans on making that stereo-holding werewolf the villain in the soon-to-be summer blockbuster Mission Impossible 4: This Mission Just Got a Hell of a Lot More Impossibler.

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: If you just want to count the church/compound being targeted for the protest maybe about 100, but since the prankers are probably including all Scientologists/nuts worldwide it's probably around 50,000

5- Eastern Washington University College Basketball game

An Eastern Washington women's basketball game was the subject of this massive Rick Roll, when a gentleman garbed in Mr. Astley's striking black outfit and unbuttoned trench coat proceeded to confuse many middle-aged attendees. On this day, the high-flyin' Eagles roundball team took second stage to what was, by the looks of it, a much more entertaining spectacle as the power of music transfixed a feverous mob. Strangely enough, it appears that the cheerleading squad was also in on this prank that perplexed numerous fans, since they danced to a seemingly choreographed routine. Apparently Rick Astley's enthralling songwriting has the ability to mesmerize even those who seem the most opposed to following superficial trends.

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: Judging by the sparse attendance I would guess that the Fightin' Eagles aren't doing very well this season, and around 75 people are getting "Roll'd" as a result.

4- London's Liverpool St. train station

On April 11, 2008, the Liverpool train station in London England heard "Never Gonna Give You Up" pour out of thousands of poorly maintained mouths and teeth. Unfortunately, since there were so many pranksters involved in the gag, the number of victims that could still fit into the prank space was reduced. Still, it isn't too tough to imagine an older and fatter Rick Astley shedding a tear or two of joy, after having so many people be willing to sing his outrageous lyrics after all these years. If there is one train station on the planet that truly understands what it means to "Rick Roll," then the station at the corner of Primrose and Sun Street in London, England is that place. God Bless you and all your patrons, you strange mass transit system hub.

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: There weren't any exact or scientific measurements taken duringing this particular prank, but it's been specualted by some Rickroll experts that maybe a thousand or so people attended this mobroll.

3- Albany News anchor

"Wow, you guys really got me," says a mortified anchor woman as she's made a fool on national TV by her hate-filled peers, who obviously know not the power of the Rickroll (Did the prankster really call him "Rick Ashley?" Amateur.) These are the upsetting reactions of Rick Astley's many victims and it won't be long before these casualties start retaliating with violence. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to think that seconds after this show rapped, that blonde news anchor viciously killed the entire Fox 23 news team including the sportscaster who is peculiarly absent. The horrible thing is, isn't every viewer of this news cast getting Rickroll'd as well, since we are all witnessing the same atrocities as the blonde anchor woman? If that's the case, it won't be long before a massive mob lines up outside Fox 23's doors armed with torches and pitchforks, ready to do the unthinkable to the responsible party.

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: If we are simply counting just the news anchor than I'm confident in estimating that 1 person was pranked, however, if we also include all the viewers of Fox 23's local news coverage then it's maybe a couple dozen.

2- Youtube's April Fools Day prank

Remember when Youtube pranked everybody by making each video on their front page link to a Rick Roll.? If you don't, then you're probably a liar because they got everyone. On April Fool's day of 2008, the site responsible for starting this whole crazy fad showed appreciation to it's many users by repeatedly pranking them with Rick Astley's incredible gift of song. With Youtube claiming to get 100 million hits a day that could stand as potentially the biggest Rickroll ever. The only problem is if there isn't a witness to the gag is it really a prank? I mean, would anyone really be all that embarrassed if they didn't have a friend or group of strangers standing around laughing and pointing? If a tree is Rickroll'd in a forest with no one around to laugh at it, is it still getting pranked?

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: According to Youtube 100 million people traffic their site each day, so lets say maybe 9 out of 10 Youtube patrons fell for the gag making some 90 million people feel like an ass this 1st of April.

1-Shea Stadium

The New York Mets (a.k.a. the unpopular New York baseball team) decided to hold a progressive internet vote to determine a new team song that would be played during their remaining home games. Regrettably for them, the internet proved to be more divisive than progressive, and as a result many non-Met fans and tech-savvy troublemakers swamped their electronic ballot boxes with Rick Astley's chart-topping hit. Then on April 7, an obtuse Mets organization announced and then played the contest winner, much to the chagrin of this mediocre baseball team's fans. Shea Stadium was not only filled with Rick's generic voice and inane lyrics, but with the disgust and boos that can only be created by a fan base so willing to embrace mediocrity.

Estimated Rickroll victim tally: Since Shea Stadium holds about 57,333 apathetic fans,lets say about 57,400 people were pranked including both team's players, coaches, and staff.

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Videos: Radiohead: In Rainbows Animated Music Videos Contest

Radiohead is all about the contests and fan participation this year. Voting continues in the "Nude Re/Mix" competition (I wrote about a few of these a couple of weeks back) and meanwhile aniBoom's In Rainbows Animated Music Video Contest, which invites people to create animated pieces set to In Rainbows tracks, has decided on 10 semi-finalists. The winner of this competition, which is being voted on by readers and will ultimately be judged by the band itself, will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a shot at having their video air on the Cartoon Network's [adult Swim]. Here they are, 10 very different worlds set to the music of Radiohead's latest.
"Reckoner" by Clement Picon
"All I Need" by Gerhard Human
"Videotape" by 16tracks
"Zoo" by Anthony Catania
"Wish Away the Nightmare (Jigsaw)" by Henning Koczy

"Reckoner" by ViDEOGRUPPE

"Jigsaw Falling Into Place" by Marko Milankovic

"Nude - 1000 Pound Bomb" by Paul Beck

"Faust Arp" (1 minute) by Dany Saadia

"15step" by Hideyuki Kota

[In Rainbows is out now on ATO in the U.S., MapleMusic in Canada, XL in the UK, and Hostess Entertainment in Japan]
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Indiana Jones: 10 behind-the-scenes facts you may not have known

Tom Selleck could have been Indiana Jones
Almost Indiana: Selleck

1. Tom Selleck was George Lucas's original choice for the role but had to turn it down due to his commitment to the US TV series Magnum PI.

2. Indiana Jones was actually Indiana Smith until the first day of shooting.

3. The famous scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Indy shoots the man dramatically wielding a scimitar was improvised by Harrison Ford. It is rumoured he was suffering from piles and didn't want to do the extended fight scene that was planned.

4. Sean Connery, who played Indy's father in The Last Crusade, is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford.

Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Father and Son: Connery and Ford

5. Renowned British wrestler and Auf Wiedersehen Pet star Pat Roach was killed twice in Raiders of the Lost Ark (as a Sherpa in the bar fight and as the Nazi pugilist who meets the wrong end of a propeller) and is pushed into a rock crusher in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

6. Harrison Ford got his distinctive chin scar in a car crash in his 20s.

7. R2-D2 and C3PO, the robots from Star Wars, can be seen in the hieroglyphics in the Well of Souls in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Indiana Jones and his trademark fedora
Real deal: Indy and his fedora

8. The "chilled monkey-brains" in Temple of Doom were actually made from custard and raspberry sauce.

9. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas play missionaries in the airport at the start of Temple of Doom.

10. Indiana Jones' horse in The Last Crusade was also John Rambo's horse in Rambo III.

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Why both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter TOTALLY SUCK!

A little over a week ago, on May 14, 2008 we exclusively broke the news that Jason Reitman, the director of Juno was adapting the book UP IN THE AIR which you can read HERE. Later on that afternoon, Jason Reitman’s publicist Bebe Lerner of ID PR called me personally and asked me to update our story. Our scoop forced her to go into spin mode. Bebe wanted us to say that Reitman’s directing deal for UP IN THE AIR was not yet in place. We kindly obliged. In return, the only thing we asked Ms. Lerner to do was to tell the Hollywood trades to either mention or credit us with breaking the story. She agreed. As a precaution, when we broke the story we even emailed Borys Kit over at The Hollywood Reporter and a reporter at Variety.

Our scoop would explode all over the internet on other movie sites throughout the afternoon. Our story even made the coveted front page of a popular social news website.

Later that night at Midnight (EDT), Variety posted the story on their site which you can read here. Guess what? We weren’t mentioned. We emailed Tatiana Siegel and Michael Fleming (Variety) and kindly requested that their story recognize our contribution and properly credit us. We were ignored.

An hour later at 1A.M., The Hollywood Reporter ran their story without crediting us over here. We were heartbroken.

Later that morning on May 15, 2008, we again emailed Ms. Siegel and Mr. Fleming at Variety and once again we we’re ignored. At least Borys Kit from The Hollywood Reporter was kind enough to email us back, apologize, and explain the situation.

That apology is bittersweet though because Borys Kit and Variety did it to us again today with the news of Jake Gyllenhaal being cast as the lead in Prince of Perisa which we first broke HERE ABOUT A MONTH AND HALF AGO ON APRIL 8TH. This not only happens to us but to all movie websites and bloggers that break exclusive news.

Both Variety and Hollywood Reporter don’t properly credit movie websites when they are due at least a mention for breaking a story!

It’s a common practice which consistently not only frustrates us, but our online peers.

You want evidence?

I contacted BeBe Lerner to ask for an explanation and it went to voicemail. She wrote me back an email. Read below. Pay attention to the part that says and I quote –

“We appreciate you changing the story and all of the sites, including Variety and THR, Cinematical, etc. Picked up on your reporters' reporting.” “Thank you for changing the post so swiftly. I already had a conversation with Mike Fleming. It's caused a stir.”

bebelerner2 - Get more documents

This time, we contacted an editor, Anne Thompson, about the situation because she did after all write an article in Variety on how blogs are reshaping film coverage which you can read HERE. We thought we had a sympathizer in Anne Thompson. We were wrong. Again, we were ignored. You know what the irony of Anne Thompson’s article is? WE WE’RE THE ONES WHO BROKE THE NEWS OF SHIA LaBEOUF BEING CAST IN INDIANA JONES! Not Variety!


The point is I and a lot of other movie websites have absolutely had it. For the first time, an email dialogue took place this past weekend between webmasters of the top movie websites and blogs addressing the issue. You can say a commission was formed. Frosty from Collider put in his two cents on the issue over HERE. Jeffery Wells even chimed in over HERE.

Now it’s our turn.

May 20th is a special day in the Latino community because May 20th is when Cuba declared it’s independence from Spain back in 1902. Today, we here at Latinoreview coin May 20th, 2008 as the day we declare our independence from linking to trades. Other movie websites are doing the same thing. We now ask you the audience to join us in EL GRITO DE LOS MOVIE GEEK BLOGGERS (Shout of the movie geek bloggers)!

Instead of supporting Variety and The Hollywood Reporter online, we ask you to support your preferred movie website or blog who works harder in bringing you the news and content, which we all make universal for all to enjoy.

I don’t know what kind of Buccaneer ship Peter Bart is running over at Variety, but a bunch of us are not going to stand for it anymore. What we do isn’t easy. We have to bust our tail for our scoops and all we ask is for some common courtesy. I speak not only for myself and my website but for the community as a whole in which we think we have been consistent enough in blowing the lid off some big stories to at least get a mention. Let’s face it, who broke the casting the Joker and Harvey Dent in the upcoming THE DARK KNIGHT?

Here’s a hint, it wasn’t Variety or The Hollywood Reporter.

Folks, do you know that Aint It Cool News in the last 12 years has been mentioned a grand total of 7 times? Outrage.

Call us what you like Mr. Bart. Amateur Fanboy, Blogger, niche pub (my favorite), whatever.

We are here to stay and are changing the landscape in how people get their news. Don’t think so? Read these articles HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Cinematical Seven: Who Else Could Have Played Indy?

Indiana Jones -- he's got to be Harrison Ford, doesn't he? Okay, we had young Indiana Jones characters -- River Phoenix in the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Sean Patrick Flanery in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles -- but I never really thought of Indy as a character who could be cast in any other way. You know, you figure the part in Raiders of the Lost Ark was practically written for Ford, who'd been in a couple of George Lucas films before that anyway (Star Wars and American Graffiti).

However, that assumption couldn't be more wrong. I've been digging around on that great source of reliable information, the Internet, and reading all kinds of stories about the casting of Indiana Jones. The general gist is that Steven Spielberg was interested in Ford, but Lucas didn't want to be one of those directors who cast the same guy in all his movies. So they tested a bunch of other actors, and were seriously interested in one who had to back out ... and then ended up with Harrison Ford after all. We are all profoundly grateful. But let's take a look at some of those actors allegedly under consideration, and a few more that I threw into the mix just for fun. (I picked only actors who were alive and the right age at the time, which is why you don't see Steve McQueen on the list.)

Tom Selleck

Selleck is the most likely of all the casting choices on this list. He'd supposedly been picked to play Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but couldn't make it work with his Magnum P.I. schedule and had to decline. I can see him as Indiana Jones, but I think his performance would have dated the first film even more than it is now (which arguably isn't much). Selleck always strikes me as being a product of the 1980s. His later attempts at action-adventure movies provided us with fare like High Road to China and Quigley Down Under. For bonus points, imagine if Spielberg had succeeded in not only getting Selleck in the lead but also convincing Danny DeVito to play Sallah, and hey, let's throw Debra Winger in the mix as Marion Ravenwood. Raiders would have been less of a hit and more of a cult movie, dripping with extra cheesiness, on a double-bill with Big Trouble in Little China.

Michael Douglas

Douglas came along a few years after Raiders and offered his own take on an Indy-style character in Romancing the Stone. But why didn't anyone think of him as Dr. Jones? He was the right age and had the right looks. Douglas hadn't done much in the way of action films before Romancing the Stone -- he'd played a heroic doctor (Coma) and a heroic cameraman (The China Syndrome) but nothing involving fight scenes and Nazis. Apparently he had a skiing accident in 1980 that would have kept him out of the running for action roles. It's said that Sharon Stone was seriously considered for the role of Willie Scott before Kate Capshaw came along and stole Spielberg's heart. I'm not fond of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but a version starring Douglas and Stone might have had much more entertaining chemistry (and been much less shrill).

Jeff Bridges

I've only read one reference to Bridges possibly being cast as Indiana Jones, but it does make the mind boggle. On the other hand, you can't think of The Dude in this context -- this is the Jeff Bridges who starred in an entirely different kind of blockbuster special-effects movie, Tron. Before that, he'd been in the King Kong remake and Heaven's Gate. (And way before that, The Last Picture Show.) Still, I can't picture him in the fedora. And just think ... what in the world would have happened to his career? Would we still enjoy him in The Big Lebowski or The Fisher King? Could he have fit a fourth Indy film in his schedule along with Obadiah Stane in Iron Man? This is an alternate reality I prefer not to pursue.

Jackie Chan

Have you ever seen the film Armour of God 2: Operation Condor? The 1991 film was Jackie Chan's tribute to Raiders of the Lost Ark, except that Chan decided his action hero would have three lovely supporting heroines, not only one. The opening scene in particular is obviously a love letter to the opening in Raiders. It makes you wonder what would've happened if somehow, in some universe, Spielberg and Lucas tried casting Chan as Indiana Jones. Chan's big American film in 1981 would turn out to be The Cannonball Run, which did not exactly launch his Hollywood career, and which showed that he didn't have the fluency of English he displayed 16 years later in Rush Hour. He wouldn't have delivered "It's not the years, it's the mileage" in quite the same way, but on the other hand, Indy would have had fabulous martial arts skills.

Tim Matheson

Matheson apparently participated in some screen tests to cast Marion, reading for Indy, but I can't determine whether he was seriously considered for the role. All I can think of is Otter in Animal House, the womanizing frat boy carrying the little doctor bag. Otter might possibly carry a whip, but I'm not sure he'd know how to use it. And it would have been weirder still if he'd been paired up with Karen Allen -- you'd expect Peter Rieger to show up at any moment and punch his lights out. The last I've seen of Matheson was as the Vice President on The West Wing ... very un-Indy-like.

Kevin Kline

This is all my own imagining -- Kline had appeared in no movies around the time Raiders was being cast, and would have been a completely unknown except for Broadway musicals and a small soap-opera role. His role as the Pirate King in the 1983 film adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance is delightful, and shows that he at least knew how to swashbuckle a bit. And let's not forget that he played Douglas Fairbanks in Chaplin. I can't really see him as Indy, though. He's not quite edgy enough. However, he did end up working with Raiders co-writer Lawrence Kasdan in several movies, starting with The Big Chill and moving into a more action-hero role (sort of) in Silverado. If he'd starred in the Indiana Jones films, Kline might never have taken such a broadly comic role as Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, so let's be thankful he was off the Hollywood radar at the time.

Nick Nolte

Several sources claim that Nolte was in the running for the Raiders lead. But the actor frankly scares me sometimes, which doesn't strike me as a good characteristic for an action hero like Indiana Jones. Indy should never be creepy. But back in the late 1970s, Nolte wasn't playing creepy guys -- he was perhaps best known for playing a bad boy-type in the TV mini series Rich Man, Poor Man. He missed out on Raiders but instead ended up with the lead in 48 Hours as the straight man to Eddie Murphy. I like to imagine an edgier, darker version of Raiders in which not only was Nolte cast as Indy, but Sean Young (who'd participated in screen tests) played Marion Ravenwood and Klaus Kinski (who claims he was offered the role) terrorized everyone as Major Toht.

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Top 10 Fights In Movie History

Violence in movies – terrible, isn’t it. No! We all like to see a good old-fashioned scrap once in a while.

Don’t even try to deny it. You may try and act like you abhor violence in movies, but deep down the sight of two people kicking the crap out of each other really gets you going.

Well, hecklerspray understands. There’s been many a time when we have pictured ourselves beating Sting to a bloody pulp. See kids, violence is fine as long as it’s in your mind, not on the streets. Anyway, to celebrate the fact that we all love to see someone evil get a good hiding, we have come up with our 10 favourite fight scenes in films.

And if you disagree, we’ll come around your house…

10. From Russia With Love (1963)

James Bond has had many brutal encounters on his way to saving the world, but none quite as thrilling as this punch-up against Robert Shaw’s assassin in a narrow train compartment. Shaw’s crime: asking for red wine with fish. That’ll teach him.

9. The Big Country (1958)
You see, men really were men back in the old days. This manly jaw-breaker between Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston goes on so long the people watching it go to bed. Even the following morning they are still slugging away at each other.

8. Kill Bill Volume 1

To us, this scene in which Uma Thurman kills off an entire army of deadly assassins is when Quentin Tarantino came of age as a director. Without his superb dialogue to help him, he still managed to come up with a superbly co-ordinated and creative fight sequence, which culminates in the spectacular demise of Lucy Liu’s character. Oh, and it’s got lots of limbs being chopped off

7. Bridget Jones’ Diary

We do feel a slight amount of shame for putting this pathetic excuse for a brawl between Bridget Jones’ would-be suitors in a list of the finest fights in movie history. But, let’s face it, we all like to think in a fight situation that we would kick ass like Bruce Lee. However, in reality we probably fight more like fucking Ang Lee

6. King Kong

King Kong kicking the crap out of three T-Rexes is the monster of all fight scenes.

5. Oldboy (2003)

Armed with just a hammer, the main character in this 2003 South Korean film has to somehow find his way past a narrow corridor cluttered with baddies trying to stop him. All in one take. It’s hammer time

4. Empire Strikes Back

It’s possibly the most iconic chapter in the entire series. After an exhausting duel with Darth Vader, Luke gets his hand cut off and is told the truth about his father. Hecklerspray remembers walking out of the cinema still in shock.

3. Happy Gilmore (1998)

After constantly bickering throughout a round of golf. Adam Sandler finally punches Bob Barker in the mouth. It leads to one of the funniest fight scenes in history. “The price is wrong, bitch.”

2. Evil Dead 2

Beaten up by your own hand – what a slap in the face that is. But that’s just what happens to hero Ash after his hand is bitten by one of the, er, evil dead. He thinks he has the final laugh when he cuts off it off with a chainsaw, but that is only the start. Very funny.

1. They Live

We’re pretty sure this is the longest fight sequence in history. It just goes on, and on, and on…

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Seven Things We Want From The Hobbit

It's hard to imagine, after the awe-inspiring success of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and barrage of legal debacles that followed its release (hope you enjoy that crow you're eating, Robert Shaye), that Peter Jackson is actually going to be returning to Middle-Earth for not just one, but two more films - one based on Tolkien's classic The Hobbit and the other... um, we're still not sure. (What exactly is a "bridge" film? Will it be "The Young Aragorn Adventures"?) Fine, Pete's not directing the new Hobbit-centric movies, but he is producing (and assumedly co-writing) them, and he's found a tremendous director, Pan's Labyrinth's Guillermo Del Toro, to follow in his footsteps. We'd never want to suggest that Del Toro is merely acting as Jackson's surrogate - particularly since he'd probably send giant cockroaches and Hellboy after us - but we're confident that Del Toro is a smart enough filmmaker that he'll take what he needs from Jackson and his WETA Workshop and find his own way down the rest of the Hobbit-hole.

And, while The Hobbit isn't scheduled to be released until sometime in 2011, Hobbit fever is already spreading like wildfire, with Jackson and Del Toro scheduled to host an hour-long web chat to field fan questions about the movies on Saturday the 24th. (You can register for the chat here.) Now that this opportunity to talk directly to the filmmakers has presented itself, it's gotten us at The Deadbolt thinking about what we really want to see from a film version of The Hobbit. The Hobbit is one of the classic works of children's literature, holding a warm place in our hearts that's reserved only for such youth-defining books as Where The Wild Things Are and The Phantom Tollbooth. While the other LOTR books are canonical works of modern fantasy, The Hobbit transcends the fantasy genre and is, unquestionably, the most universal work Tolkien ever wrote. With that in mind, we have a whole different set of expectations for Guillermo Del Toro's The Hobbit than we had for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. We're much less concerned about battles and Balrogs and much more concerned about preserving the most memorable qualities of one of our favorite childhood fables.

And so, just in time for the inaugural Hobbit web chat, The Deadbolt presents...

The Seven Things That Any Good Hobbit Adaptation Must Have:

1. It has to be funny.

Sure, J.R.R. Tolkien was no Jim J. Bullock or Carlos Mencia (please note the sarcasm, Tolk-heads), but The Hobbit is a surprisingly funny book. The text is filled with slapstick, verbal puns, and wacky moments (the introduction of Thorin's dwarf gang and the ensuing breakfast debacle at Bilbo's house, for one) that you probably wouldn't expect after watching Peter Jackson's earnestly stoic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Let's be honest, while we all love the LOTR movies, humor isn't exactly their forte. In fact, aside from some anachronistic dwarf-tossing humor and Legolas and Gimli's running death toll, there's barely a chuckle in the whole trilogy. So, we're a bit nervous that, in an attempt to make The Hobbit fit in stylistically, that all the good-natured funny stuff is going to be tossed by the wayside. I mean, honestly, how exactly is Guillermo Del Toro going to handle the trolls tossing dwarves into sacks, sitting on them, and debating how to eat them without a wink and smile? If treated seriously, that scene will be borderline ridiculous. It doesn't help that Del Toro isn't really known for comedy (well, Mimic was funny for different reasons), and Jackson's sense of humor is far too in-your-face and wrong for Tolkien (watch Meet the Feebles and tell us if we're wrong). Just remember - The Hobbit is, by the intention of its author, a lighter, funnier, more family-friendly work than The Two Towers. Either embrace the light-heartedness or don't even bother.

2. It needs to work as a stand-alone film.

It would be a mistake to treat The Hobbit like LOTR 4: The Prequel. We're not saying that continuity and carry-overs should be ignored - we love that Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis are returning - but while Fellowship, Two Towers, and Return of the King were written as a trilogy, The Hobbit was written as a stand-alone adventure. More than any of the LOTR movies, this film needs to stand tall on its own merits. That means Del Toro can't assume that we know anything about Middle-Earth before we enter the theatre, and the story needs to have a definite beginning, middle, and end. We know that there's this nebulous "Hobbit sequel," based on a hodge-podge of Tolkien works, that's being filmed at the same time, but man, will we be pissed if The Hobbit ends with a "To Be Continued..." The Hobbit is a perfectly contained story that begins and ends at Bag End, and is short enough that it doesn't need two movies to tell the tale. This has the potential to be one of the ultimate all-ages fantasy adventures of all time - just like the original book - so let's not taint its appeal by retro-fitting the story to make it a part of the Peter Jackson LOTR mini-series.

3. The whole movie can't be about the Battle of the Five Armies.

Don't get us wrong. We've been hard on Peter Jackson in our previous two sections, but we desperately love, love, love the Lord of the Rings movies. They, honest-to-god, definitely compete with the original Star Wars series (not the crap-tastic prequel trilogy) for the "best movie trilogy EVER" title. But, as much as we love Jackson's LOTR, The Hobbit was one of our favorite books growing up, so we treasure it a lot more than an Orlando Bloom movie, hence the tough love. And here's another hard truth that it might be difficult for WETA to swallow - the Battle of the Five Armies can't dominate the whole damn film. Yes, the final battle between the goblins and wargs and the armies of men, elves, and dwarves DOES bring the story to a general close and resolves the conflicts between most of the main characters, but it literally takes place during ONE chapter of the original book. We're totally fine with the battle closing the movie, but it can't be transformed into a Helm's Deep-sized uber-war that concerns most of the narrative, like it did in Two Towers. The Five Armies battle gives The Hobbit a very cool high-octane action note to close on, but Bilbo's journey and the confrontation with Smaug are infinitely more important. But Peter Jackson loves his epic-scale castle sieges, so we're a bit worried. Let's hope that Del Toro has a better sense of what's driving the story of The Hobbit, and, if the battle takes up more than 35 minutes of screen-time, we'll be very, very disappointed.

4. Smaug needs to be a classic movie villain first, dragon second.

Earlier this month, the ultimate LOTR fan site,, published a fantastic essay about the "dragon problem" that's facing Del Toro and WETA as they begin pre-production of The Hobbit. The gist of the problem is that, thanks to poor special effects, overuse, and horrible movies like Dragonheart and Eragon, dragons have (to quote "taken a place just behind unicorns and rainbows as the most hackneyed subjects of fantasy art." So what does that mean for The Hobbit adaptation, particularly when the debatable climax of the story involves the interaction between Bilbo Baggins and one of the coolest, most breath-taking, bad-ass talking dragons in the history of literature, the treasure-hoarding Smaug? Renaissance festivals and lackluster CGI have defanged the dragon for modern film audiences, so how can Del Toro hope to make Smaug as cool as he needs to be? Our advice - concentrate on the drama and dialogue of the Smaug scenes first and worry about his design later. Smaug, first and foremost, needs to be a classic villain - we're talking Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader, Hans Gruber, etc. - and we need to be much more afraid of his words and demeanor than his spiky claws or teeth. In fact, Del Toro should use the scene in No Country for Old Men between Anton Chigurh and the gas station owner as the model for the tone and level of raised stakes in the Bilbo/Smaug scenes. Chigurh was so scary it didn't even matter that he had the haircut that he did, so if Smaug's character is handled correctly, it shouldn't matter that movie audiences aren't afraid of dragons anymore.

5. Don't cut out all of the songs.

We can't believe we're saying this. We were totally in favor in clear-cutting all of the namby-pamby ballads and singing from the LOTR movies, and we happily mocked any nerds who claimed that Fellowship of the Ring was ruined by the exclusion of the karaoke-loving Tom Bombadil (one of the best decisions Jackson ever made). But, as we've mentioned, The Hobbit is a totally different beast. In terms of tone, The Hobbit needs to be a lighter and funnier film, and it also needs to be a Midnight Run-esque road movie, in which Thorin and his band of treasure-lusting dwarves eventually warm up to their vastly different Hobbit companion, Bilbo. And Tolkien's songs - The Hobbit contains probably his best lyrics ever - are a great vehicle to convey those changes in tone. There are some, frankly, hilarious dwarf songs and the moments where the wood-elves mock Bilbo and Thorin in song are priceless. Plus having Bilbo and the dwarves engage in a hearty fire-side sing-a-long might be the best movie male-bonding moments since the choruses of "Show Me the Way to Go Home" in Jaws. The key, however, will be to resist making the songs all sound like Enya-esque, Celtic lullabies, and instead make them sound more like the mead-hall ballads that Robert Zemeckis used so well in his Beowulf.

6. Explain the ring.

This is going to sound like we're contradicting ourselves. We'd previously said that we didn't want The Hobbit to get mired down in the continuity of the other LOTR films, but there is one big element in the story that really will need to be explained within the context of the whole LOTR series - the One Ring. In The Hobbit, which Tolkien wrote before the other LOTR books, the ring is simply a magic ring that can turn the wearer invisible (and can make Gollum purr "My precious..." for hours). Even in the opening of Fellowship, Peter Jackson showed us that Gandalf and Bilbo had no idea of the ring's dark legacy. However, now, thanks to Jackson's insanely popular movies, we all know what the One Ring can do. So, when in The Hobbit, Bilbo wears the ring for weeks at a time to evade capture by the wood-elves, every card-carrying LOTR movie fan is going to think, "Wait, why isn't he being corrupted? Why doesn't he see the fiery eye of Sauron?" And, before Tolkien fans throw a fit, notice that we said "every card-carrying LOTR MOVIE fan," not fans of the original books. We're no Tolkien experts. We're sure that there's some footnote or appendix that explains why Bilbo could wear the ring for weeks and be fine and why, several years later, the ring turned Frodo into an emo-looking mess. But the thing is - most movie fans aren't versed in Tolkien's complete canon. We know (and love) the movies, so the ring disparity will have to be explained somehow in The Hobbit, just so us average joes don't spend the whole time wondering why the Nazgul haven't showed up and speared Bilbo's ass yet.

7. Don't be afraid to make Gandalf a bit of a bastard.

The big difference between Gandalf the Grey (the pre-Balrog wizard) and Gandalf the White (post-Balrog) is that the Grey is a hell of a lot more fun. Ian McKellen did a terrific job of bringing a playful gravitas to Gandalf in the opening reel of Fellowship of the Ring - bumping his head in Bilbo's house one moment, showing off his awe-inspiring power the next - and we really want him to keep that same mischievous menace in The Hobbit. Granted, Gandalf does get some nicely heroic moments throughout the story - killing goblins, fighting in the Battle of the Five Armies - but the truly memorable Gandalf moments in The Hobbit are watching the wizard con Bilbo into becoming the dwarves' burglar or mysteriously disappearing whenever trouble is afoot. We're not saying that Gandalf is cowardly or immoral, but his Hobbit incarnation should have more of a Han Solo roguish charm than the stately, austere presence of Gandalf the White in Two Towers and Return of the King. (And, of course, we're talking about Han Solo back when he was allowed to shoot first and didn't suck.)

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6 Flicks That Drove Crazies to Kill

Just as the literature-inspired shooters of the 70s and 80s were probably crazy long before they picked up a copy of Catcher on the Rye, the psychos who claim a movie drove them to kill were probably psycho long before screening Psycho. (But hey, you never know.) These are six films that supposedly pushed people over the edge.

1. William Friedkin’s BUG

This creepy but not entirely successful 2006 psycho-thriller about paranoia and insect infestations was directed by William Friedkin, most famous for The Exorcist. bug_ver3.jpgDespite dealing with a few murders and plenty of craziness in its own plot, the crime it inspired was considerably more horrific and strange. In January, blaring headlines like “Millionaire executive unhinged by horror film killed daughter” announced the tragedy, apparently trigged as stressed-out insurance executive Alberto Izaga watched Bug in a theater with his wife. (It was the only movie playing that had available seats; perhaps this tragedy could’ve been avoided, ironically, if the film were more popular?) Soon after, his wife would find him babbling incoherently in the middle of the night, shouting about the film, the Devil and death. Experiencing what his wife would call an “extreme and sudden” breakdown, he bludgeoned his two-year-old daughter to death while yelling “God doesn’t exist! The universe doesn’t exist! Humanity doesn’t exist!” Judged not guilty by reason of insanity, the judge passed sentence thusly: “This is a truly agonizing case. No sentence I pass can ever match the sentence you will pass on yourself.”

2. The Matrix and the Landlady Effect

The Matrix and its many sequels are deadly films. Deadly not only in terms of pacing, plot development and believability (the sequels especially), but also, strangely, to landladies. Claiming they had been “sucked into the Matrix,” a Swedish exchange student, Vadim Mieseges, and an Ohio woman, Tonda Lynn Ansley, attacked their landladies in an attempt to free themselves from mind control. Both plead (and were granted) insanity, and thus liberated from the Matrix (and, one would assume, their leases), they’re “free” to spend the rest of their lives in mental hospitals.

3. Scream

Yes, even parodies of horror movies can inspire people to kill. In fact, the list of murders attributed to this film is shockingly long and the crimes especially grotesque; this truncated version is from Crimelibrary:

A boy and his cousin in Los Angeles obsessed with the film murdered his mother by stabbing her 45 times; a man wearing the mask shot and killed a woman in Florida; a boy in France killed his parents while acting as Ghostface; and in England, a pair of boys repeatedly stabbed a third one, claiming the film had prompted them to do it.

4. The Ten Commandments

heston.jpgAdmittedly, this isn’t a film you’d expect to find on this list, nor associated with such brutal crimes. It was a more innocent time, perhaps: in 1959, a serial rapist and killer dubbed the “the Beast of the Black Forest” was striking fear into West German hearts. Caught when he carelessly took a bloodstained suit to a tailor for mending (and left behind a briefcase containing a sawed-off shotgun), under interrogation 23-year-old Heinrich Pommerencke would blame his lust crimes on Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, especially noting a scene in which scantily-clad women dance around a golden calf. (That’s when he “knew he had to kill,” he said.)

5. Taxi Driver

John Hinckley, Jr., President Reagan’s would-be assassin in 1981, has the rare distinction of claiming he was influenced not only by a book (Catcher in the Rye, naturally) but a film: Taxi Driver. The latter certainly has more parallels to Hinckley’s crime: Robert DeNiro stars as a lonely, obsessive taxi driver who hatches a plot to kill a prominent politician, but ends up unleashing his rage on a warren of local pimps, thus saving the waifish, gold-hearted prostitute played by Jodie Foster from a life of iniquity. Hinckley got the story a little backwards, claiming that he needed to shoot Ronald Reagan in order to “impress” real-life Foster (not a prostitute), with whom he was obsessed. (Nobody said psychos were logical.)

6. Natural Born Killers

060706_columbine_hmed_12p.h2.jpgThis film has the dubious distinction of having “inspired” more killings than perhaps any other; the real-life body count is likely higher than that of Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis’ nihilistic killers in the film. They include a copycat Bonnie-and-Clyde style rampage which left one man dead and another woman paralyzed, a teenager’s decapitation, a gang killing and two infamous school shootings — Michael Carneal’s Paducah, Kentucky rampage and Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold’s massacre at Columbine High School; the latter used the term “going NBK” in reference to their murderous plans.

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‘Spider-Man 4 & 5′ To Be Shot at Same Time?

Spider-ManThe Spider-Man movie franchise has definitely brought Sony a lot of good press, despite the lackluster outing the third installment made. However with Tobey Maguire playing Peter Parker, aka, Spider-Man, I’m not 100% certain what they were expecting (it should always have been Topher Grace).

Now a new scoop out of Cinematical has reinvigorated Spider-Man fans the world over, with the possibility that future Spider-Man movies 4 and 5 could be filmed at the same time.

The news goes that within the last few weeks, James Vanderbilt turned in a working draft of a fourth installment for the Spider-Man franchise. According to their source, “his story arc has encompassed two films, making Spider-Man 5 shootable at the same time. The studio saw dollar signs and is in the process of reworking his deal to snatch up the story arc.”

Naturally there is no word on what the story arc would be, and there will likely be no confirmations on any of this for some time, as it appears both sides are still trying to work out the minutia of it all. But it definitely adds some spark to the Spider-Man franchise once again.

But just because there is no official word doesn’t mean that we can’t all theorize like crazy. For my bet, having spent a lot of time with Spider-Man over my life, I would suggest a paired installment would weave a storyline including the return of a goblin of some sort — there always were a lot of them — and the Kingpin.

We’ve got a comments section below, so make sure you tell us who you think the villains will be in a possible paired fourth and fifth Spider-Man installment.

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