Zack Snyder’s Watchmen follow-up Sucker Punch has run into a little further casting trouble with two more of his leading cast members dropping out of the project.
First, lead Amanda Seyfried left owing to commitments with other projects, notably her filming schedule for HBO’s Big Love. Now it seems that Emma Stone and Evan Rachel Wood have joined Seyfried in leaving the project, leaving only Abbie Cornish and Vanessa Hudgens from the original five named for the movie.
According to the report on /Film, both Stone and Wood have dropped out owing to scheduling conflicts. I would have to partially go against the assertion made in the /Film article however by saying that this must, just must, have to do with both the disappointing Watchmen box-office and, more than that, with the negative press given to Snyder’s direction of the film.
He certainly picked up praise for taking on the project in the face of such potential fanboy backlash, but his actual direction of the movie was it’s biggest problem, lacking the kind of nuance and emotional intention which goes hand-in-hand with better directors who had been interested in the project.
Anyway, back to Sucker Punch. Joining with Stalwarts Cornish and Hudgens, and Seyfried’s replacement Emily Browning, are Donnie Darko’s Jenna Malone and Dragonball: Evolution’s Jamie Chung.
I’ve seen Malone in a few projects in the past but she’s never struck me or been particularly memorable, outside of her turn in Darko. I literally know nothing about Chung at all so I’ll just give her the benefit of the doubt for now.
So the questions are being raised and the production is beginning to role into gear for Snyder big follow-up. Whether he needs to deliver is unlikely as Watchmen will have given him currency for a little while. But with so many dropouts already, this production is starting to feel troubled from the outset.
I was probably sitting right in the centre of the grand Watchmen debate. I didn’t hate the film with fanboy outrage or the bemused annoyance of the un-anointed. But I didn’t sing its praises in the way many others did. I will freely admit the film is a startling vision, but beyond looking just about right in comparison to its source material, it was poorly handled emotionally and imaginatively. Director Zack Snyder was my primary source of scorn. I don’t doubt the difficulty of the position in which he was placed. No one, Greengrass or Gilliam included, could possibly have pleased everyone with an adaptation of such beloved graphic fiction.
But, while that can be taken into account briefly, his attempt to please as many people as possible meant the overall work was compromised, ending up giving the world and mixed, muddled and messy moving storyboard of frames linked only briefly in the running time. He works so hard to make everything so close to Alan Moore’s print vision that he forgets to differentiate in his own mind between the two mediums. He is desperate to fit in as much dialogue and as many scenes from the novel as he can, in the process sacrificing any creativity which should be brought to any adaptation.
Watchmen feels flat and lifeless on the screen, only managing to break into moments of greatness through the generally good performances and some superlative sequences. Is it not telling that easily the most brilliant moment of Watchmen is the opening title sequence? Tracking the alternative history Moore sets up through visually breathtaking montage; re-appropriating Dylan’s ‘The Times Are A-Changin’ to be an anthem for his history rather than for 1960s America; these are the brave moves taken by a director who understands he cannot possibly fit the source material onto the screen wholesale and must improvise. It’s that moment, when Snyder gives himself the freedom to interpret the source material in his own way, that you feel finally as though a real adaptation is occurring in front of your eyes.
For me, although I think Watchmen is a finer achievement of scale, Dawn of the Dead is still the most successful and satisfying project of Synder’s. Here, he had no qualms about giving his own take on a classic original film, eschewing the political and social concerns of Romero’s original to produce a visceral, thrilling action film. He interpreted the material brilliantly, something he resolutely fails to do in either Watchmen or the turgid 300.
Snyder has now been talking up his next project, Sucker Punch, and the bravery of Warner Bros in putting out his films in the past. I don’t deny WB has become the top major studio for taking risks with its major projects. But Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder is nowhere near the risk which would have been involved in taking on Watchmen by Gilliam or Watchmen by Greengrass (even if his re-contextualisation would have been a step too far). Sucker Punch, which will follow a young girl sent to a mental asylum and her fantasies of escaping alongside her fellow inmates, doesn’t really sound like much of a risk either. Snyder’s Watchmen may not have done the kind of business many were hoping for – although I will continue to argue against that – but this is a project in which a relatively bankable director has recruited five very attractive young women (lead Emily Browning joined by Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Evan Rachel Wood and Emma Stone) to take part in what I predict will be a series of semi-intense action sequences and recall the kind of Grindhouse films Tarantino so desperately aimed for a couple of years back. I don’t deny that sounds entertaining, but I can’t imagine this will provide any evidence to contradict that Snyder is a competent director with a knack for divisive slo-motion action and no ability to harness the emotional core of a story.
Following the move by Amanda Seyfried to drop out of Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, it appears a replacement has been found.
Emily Browning, most recently in The Uninvited and previous in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, is being rumoured as the replacement for Seyfried in the role of Baby Doll, the inmate of a mental asylum who lives inside a fantasy world in which she imagines escaping alongside her fellow inmates.
I know literally nothing about her as an actress but, given the rest of the casting, she does fit the attractive, young starlet category Synder appears to be seeking.
Kevin Smith is to launch outside of his comfort zone (no View Askew, no Scott Mosier producing) to direct A Couple of Cops, a buddy movie to star Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Could provide an interesting view on how Smith is developing as a director and possibly give the world another really good buddy movie which, on premise, seems closely in the vein of late-80s Shane Black-style stuff.
Zack Snyder is forming an all-girl cast for Sucker Punch, about girls in a mental asylum who fantasises about escaping with all her inmates. Likely to star the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Evan Rachel Wood and Emma Stone. Doesn’t specifically make me too excited but I would be interested to see what Snyder does next because he handled the entire Watchmen saga, the build-up and movie, with aplomb.
Megan Fox has begun to take up some new offers which are likely to offer very little new to her current persona. Fox has reportedly joined the cast of Jonah Hex alongside Josh Brolin and will star in Fathom, an adaptation of the comic series. Cinematical reports that Fox has been a fan of the comic series for some time and is helping to bring it to the screen, likely making her the dream girl for many, many JoBlo readers around the world. Maybe however she should get a little praise for understanding that she has limits and using her talents in the most lucrative way possible. Hats off to Ms Fox.
Leonardo DiCaprio is to team with Christopher Nolan on the latter’s post-Dark Knight project, Inception. the film has been described as a science fiction piece ‘set in the architecture of the mind’ and was also written by Nolan. You’d have to suggest that this won’t garner anything near the level of business Dark Knight did but it’s good to see Nolan is nourishing his filmmaking skills elsewhere, something that would have been advisable to Sam Raimi back in the day and would most likely have provided the world with better Spiderman sequels.
Talk is rife on what the next Danny Boyle movie will be. Reports emerged early in the week, very speculative, that he could direct the next James Bond. Later however, it seems he is closing in on doing a remake of My Fair Lady, putting of another project called Hanna, about a teenage assassin.
Also in the news: Jim Jarmusch’s Limits of Control has a trailer; Mickey Rourke, Vince Cassell and Alice Braga will star in an adaptation of Paulo Coehlo’s 11 Minutes; A viewpoint from Slate on how a Tarantino Watchmen would look; Barry Sonnenfeld will direct an adaptation of Korean film Scandal Makers; Keira Knightley is to star in Never Let Me Go, an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s amazing novel, which you should probably read instead now Knightley has signed up; A three minute clip of The Boat that Rocked has turned up; Ed Zwick is to direct In the Heart of the Sea by Nathan Philbrick; Ridley Scott has talked a little more about his Monopoly movie.