If you were lucky enough to get the nifty SHIELD briefcase edition of Marvel Phase One, you were treated to a sneak peek at Phase Two. Part of that peek were a number of photos and concept art from Ant Man (which I thought was phase 3…cameo in an earlier film?), Thor The Dark World showing Jane Foster in Asgard, Captain America: The Winter Soldier showing our first look at The Winter Soldier and the Falcoln, and Guardians of the Galaxy showing wide galactic vistas and the core team of Starlord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora (just cast as Zoe Saldana) and Drax the Destroyer. Widen your eyes in geeky wonder and drink in the possibilities. What do you glean from all this visual insight? Phase two is only a few weeks away, people, we got to get our geek on here.
Another day and another sad passing. Cinema’s most famous critic, Roger Ebert, has passed away at the age of 70. I didn’t often agree with him, but he was always entertaining to listen to, especially when paired on his show with the late Gene Siskel. Ebert reviewed films for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years. He was a shaping voice for half a century of movies. He was a journalist and an Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. He was a fighter. Official obituary from the AP wire pasted below:
Roger Ebert, the most famous and most popular film reviewer of his time who became the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism and, on his long-running TV program, wielded the nation’s most influential thumb, died Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. He was 70.
Ebert had been a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967. He had announced on his blog Wednesday that he was undergoing radiation treatment after a recurrence of cancer.
He had no grand theories or special agendas, but millions recognized the chatty, heavy-set man with wavy hair and horn-rimmed glasses. Above all, they followed the thumb — pointing up or down. It was the main logo of the televised shows Ebert co-hosted, first with Gene Siskel of the rival Chicago Tribune and, after Siskel’s death in 1999, with his Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper. Although criticized as gimmicky and simplistic, a “two thumbs up” accolade was sure to find its way into the advertising for the movie in question.
Despite his power with the moviegoing public, Ebert wrote in his 2011 autobiography, “Life Itself,” that he considered himself “beneath everything else a fan.”
“I have seen untold numbers of movies and forgotten most of them, I hope, but I remember those worth remembering, and they are all on the same shelf in my mind,” Ebert wrote.
He was teased for years about his weight, but the jokes stopped abruptly when Ebert lost portions of his jaw and the ability to speak, eat and drink after cancer surgeries in 2006. But he overcame his health problems to resume writing full-time and eventually even returned to television. In addition to his work for the Sun-Times, Ebert became a prolific user of social media, connecting with fans on Facebook and Twitter.
The thumb logo remained the property of Ebert and Siskel’s widow, and in early 2011, Ebert launched his new show, “Ebert Presents at the Movies.” The show had new hosts, but featured Ebert in his own segment, “Roger’s Office.” He used a chin prosthesis and enlisted voice-over guests to read his reviews.
While some called Ebert a brave inspiration, he told The Associated Press in an email in January 2011 that bravery and courage “have little to do with it.”
“You play the cards you’re dealt,” Ebert wrote. “What’s your choice? I have no pain, I enjoy life, and why should I complain?”
His 1975 Pulitzer for distinguished criticism was the first, and one of only three, given to a film reviewer since the category was created in 1970. In 2005, he received another honor when he became the first critic to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Ebert’s breezy and quotable style, as well as his knowledge of film technique and the business side of the industry, made him an almost instant success.
Ebert’s television career began the year he won the Pulitzer, first on WTTW-TV, the Chicago PBS station, then nationwide on PBS and later on several commercial syndication services. Ebert and Siskel even trademarked the “two thumbs up” phrase.
And while the pair may have sparred on air, they were close off camera. Siskel’s daughters were flower girls when Ebert married his wife, Chaz, in 1992.
“He’s in my mind almost every day,” Ebert wrote in his autobiography. “He became less like a friend than like a brother.”
Ebert was also an author, writing more than 20 books, including two volumes of essays on classic movies and the popular “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie,” a collection of some of his most scathing reviews.
Ebert also was embraced online in the years after he lost his physical voice. He kept up a Facebook page, a Twitter account with nearly 600,000 followers and a blog, Roger Ebert’s Journal.
The Internet was where he forged relationships with his readers, posting links to stories he found interesting and writing long pieces on varied topics, not just film criticism. He interacted with readers in the comments sections and liked to post old black-and-white photos of Hollywood stars and ask readers to guess who they were.
“My blog became my voice, my outlet, my ‘social media’ in a way I couldn’t have dreamed of,” Ebert wrote in his memoir. “Most people choose to write a blog. I needed to.”
Ebert wrote in 2010 that he did not fear death because he didn’t believe there was anything “on the other side of death to fear.”
“I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state,” he wrote. “I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.”
With Star Trek: Into Darkness only a little more than a month away (pause for joy), JJ Abrams is making the media rounds and is getting as many Star Wars questions as he is Star Trek. He talked to SFX about whether Star Trek Into Darkness will be for all fans of the franchise and later as to whether there were any Star Wars influences that have made their way into his two Trek films.
“Of course you can’t make this for everyone. There are going to be detractors. But I think that the important thing is this movie, at least the ambition behind it, is… if you’re a Star Trek fan, you’re going to be very happy. Because the movie acknowledges, in a big way, what has come before. If you’re not a lifelong Star Trek fan, like myself, what I think and hope is that you’ll have a great time and you’ll be gasping and shrieking and laughing and crying and all that stuff in a way you would not expect to in a Star Trek movie.
I wouldn’t say that the first movie is an absolute Star Wars derivation. The irony of course being that Star Trek came out before Star Wars. We’re inheriting Star Trek, so we’re allowed to do space stuff. Of course when Star Wars came out, people referred to Star Trek, because it was spaceships. Everything is sort of a derivation of everything else. Just the way Star Wars was of Flash Gordon and of dogfight war films in the TIE Fighter sequences. Everything has something it borrows from.
Where this story goes, if you’re going to go to a place that’s as intense as some of the stuff is in this movie, I think you need balance. And so while there are moments that are pretty dark and crazy, those scenes just won’t matter to you – you won’t care about them – if you haven’t been laughing along the way and rooting for these characters you have to feel for. The idea is to try and balance it, not to have it be one thing or the other.”
Star Trek Into Darkness. May 17th. Cannot come soon enough.
I believe Iron Man 3 has now broken the record for most posters released in the two months prior to release. This one focuses more on Tony’s support staff: Rhodey, Pepper, and Guy Pearce (always there when you need him, Guy). Iron Man 3 opens in less than a month. Look for a bunch of images and concept art from Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2 later this week.
I disappeared into Columbia for 20-25 hours and beat Bioshock Infinite in a mad absorption of gaming brilliance (not on my part, Ken Levine and Irrational Games to thank there). I have a giant backlog of things I need to review including that, but reality is very nosily poking its way into my escapes from it. Stupid reality. At any rate, let me know how you’ve been murdering the minutes this week!
Books: Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley
Blu Ray: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey
TV/HULU: Modern Family Season Four
Community Season Four
The Daily Show with John Stewart
The Colbert Report
The Amazing Race Season Twenty-Two
Music: More movie scores. Lots of A Beautiful Mind and Pirates of the Caribbean as moods shift from John Nash crazy to Johnny Depp crazy.
Video Game: Bioshock Infinite
The Walking Dead Episode Five
Alan Wake’s An American Nightmare
* XBOX Live, gamertag: sleeplessdave; feel free to friend me!
Comics: Daredevil Vol. 4 by Mark Waid
New Avengers Vol. 5 by Brian Michael Bendis
Absolute All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison