(Click on each of the following links to be taken to the corresponding set of freelance clips.)
(Click here for all of Ben's Screen Rant articles.)
Final Design for Kilowog in 'Green Lantern'
"Despite being physically imposing and utterly unattractive, Kilowog is best known for his heart of gold and tendency to use the word 'poozer' as an endearing insult. Basically, he’s the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman combined with Lenny from Of Mice and Men. And they say comic books can’t be literature…
" [...] Frankly, I still think they’ve missed the mark in terms of capturing the iconic visual appeal found in the comic books. This Kilowog looks less like a friendly man-pig that can still beat you senseless and more like Outback’s blooming onion. But maybe that’s some kind of brilliant, cross-promotional strategy between Warner Bros. and Outback, in which case I say ‘bravo’ to everyone involved, because now I’m terribly hungry for rib-eye." – Screen Rant, August 9th, 2010
Ten Videogames that Should Be Movies
" [...] One of the many problems, in my opinion, is that movie studios continue to adapt games that are themselves far too heavily influenced by movies. Mortal Kombat was just Enter the Dragon with magic. Resident Evil was just Night of the Living Dead with more guns. Doom was just Aliens without a single moment of tension. And Prince of Persia was just Aladdin with white people." – Screen Rant, Sept. 16th, 2010
Ten Horror Movies You've (Probably) Never Seen
"Good horror movies are such a rarity these days, they’re almost like a mythical creature—a cinematic unicorn, if you will. Aged fans speak of them as if through a great and terrible fog: 'Remember, long ago, when horror movies used to be awesome?' Bad horror movies, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen, stomping recklessly on our horror movie-loving hearts with little to no sympathy." – Screen Rant, Oct. 29th, 2010
Mitch Hurwitz Says 'Arrested Development' Movie Finally Happening This Year
"In fact, just last week I literally had a dream about what the [Arrested Development] movie might entail. Michael worked at Sitwell. Lucille was in prison. George Senior was free, happy, on his own. George Michael was in college. Buster got his hand back. GOB was still being GOB. Lindsay was exploring her new life as a non-Bluth. Tobias was still denying his own homosexuality. And, in a very self-referential development, Maeby was filming the movie version of the Bluths’ tumultuous lives. Needless to say, it was awesome." – Screen Rant, Feb. 5th, 2011
First Footage from 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2'
"The closer we get to the end of the Harry Potter [film] series, the more melancholy I get about the whole thing. I started out hating these films – hell, I’m still incapable of enjoying Sorcerer’s Stone – with no desire whatsoever to read the books. Ten years later and I’ve read all the books, seen all the films, and, for the most part, enjoyed every last minute. I can’t think of another film series that has produced eight incredibly successful films in a short span of ten years, with nearly all the same actors (Richard Harris, rest in peace), a lot of the same filmmakers, and a fairly consistent vision and quality throughout. It’s pretty impressive, when you look at it as a whole." – Screen Rant, March 18th, 2011
Anthony Hopkins Up for 'James Bond 23' Villain Role?
"Interestingly, three of the four actors rumored to be up for the role of Bond’s next nemesis have played the three most famous cinematic serial killers of the past twenty-five years: Hannibal the cannibal in Silence of the Lambs (Hopkins); John Doe in Se7en (Spacey); and Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men (Bardem). Heck, even Ralph Fiennes played the Tooth Fairy opposite Hopkins in Red Dragon (2002)." – Screen Rant, March 9th, 2011
Grant Morrison Calls 'All-Star Superman' Animated Film 'Epic'
"All-Star Superman – the comic book – is one of the weirdest, most creative, and most amazing iterations of Superman that has ever seen the printed page. Frankly, if it were up to me, Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, et al, would just remake the comic book, page for page and panel for panel, as The Man of Steel(not that Goyer has a great track record for that kind of thing). The book is perfect. The book takes the best of every era of the man of tomorrow and distills it into one very beautiful twelve-issue comic book story. I’m hoping against hope that the animated feature has captured just a portion of that brilliance and beauty, but you better believe that I’m dubious."
Tom Cruise Willing to Return for 'Top Gun 2'
"Frankly, I can’t imagine wanting to watch a Top Gun movie guest-starring Maverick as the father of the film’s protagonist, Maverick Jr., or whatever stupid concept they concoct to briefly shoehorn the character into the story. Is Tom Cruise so busy with Mission: Impossible 4 that he can’t take the lead in Top Gun 2, or is this just one of those studio-backed “next generation” deals where Hollywood’s hottest young stars take over for the stars of yesteryear?
"If it were up to me, Top Gun 2 would be a movie about an aging, drunken Maverick as a washed up airline pilot with a myriad of illegitimate children all across the planet whose lives he’s mostly absent from until he gets kidney cancer (on both sides!) and needs a transplant to survive. So basically it’d be a lighthearted comedy." – Screen Rant, Oct. 14th, 2010
Joaquin Phoenix's 'I'm Still Here' Trailer Debuts
"The question remains—was this whole thing just a massive practical joke at the expense of the general viewing public, and me in particular? Or is this a deadly serious documentary about one man’s descent into madness as a result of not getting an Oscar for either Gladiator or Walk the Line? Conventional wisdom seems to indicate that the former is the case. I can just picture Joaquin and Casey Affleck sitting around in their super-expensive chaise lounges, in their super-expensive mansions, sipping super-expensive margaritas whilst cackling their asses off about how funny and clever and tricky they were in all of this. Frankly, I’d be more inclined to give this movie the benefit of the doubt if it didn’t feel like they actually believed they’d pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes." – Screen Rant, Aug. 17th, 2010
(Click here for all of Ben's Centerstage reviews and articles.)
The Search for the Best Chicago Cheesecake
"There was a time, long ago, when I didn't eat cheesecake. Cheese? In a cake? It sounded awful to me, even gag-worthy. But then...I ate it. I ate the hell out of it. From that moment on, nothing was ever the same for me—particularly my waistline. Is it true now that I occasionally dream about eating cheesecake after cheesecake only to wake up with a massive hard-on, biting my girlfriend's shoulder? Yes. Is it true that the only scene I liked from the movie American Pie was the one where Jason Biggs is boning a pie, and then only because I imagined it was a cheesecake instead? Yes. Yes, it is. Then, of course, there was the time I told my oldest nephew that I loved cheesecake, to which he said, all indignant-like, 'Then why don't you marry it?' Out of the mouth of babes, as they say. It made me ponder, reflect and ultimately realize: I would gladly make an honest woman out of cheesecake if my government would allow it. GLADLY." – Centerstage Chicago, April 4th, 2008
How to Lose a Girl in Five Venues
"I'll just come out and say it: Breaking up with a girl is the most difficult thing you can do in your life, and that includes all the kidney stones, ball cancers and Bad Boys sequels you'll have to experience. (God knows you'll hate Bad Boys 3: The Most Racist One Yet!) Lucky you, though, there are options for exiting a relationship that don't involve pulling the trigger yourself. All it takes is a tiny push here and a little prod there, and your girlfriend of two weeks, 10 days or 13 years will be doing the dirty deed for you." – Centerstage Chicago, Feb. 19th, 2008
Comic Books Are Cool
"It's no secret among my friends and family that I'm a comic book freak. Truth be told, I'm addicted to the little bastards: I visit weekly; I pay out the ass; and sometimes I skip meals to support my addiction. When I told my girlfriend, through gritted teeth and bitter tears, that I had quit comics, 'And quit them for good!,' I started hiding them around the apartment—in the couch, under the floorboards, down my pants—like packs of cigarettes or tabloid magazines. Fortunately, Chicago is more than suited to enable my habit with its near endless supply of comic book stores. Don't be ashamed, people—succumb to the dorky embrace of Batman, Green Lantern, the X-Men and countless more!" – Centerstage Chicago, February 15th, 2008
Graphic Novel Reviews: 'Ghost World,' 'Kingdom Come,' 'Acme Novelty Library,' and 'Clumsy'
"Unless you're psychic or (cross my fingers!) stalking me, you probably have no idea that I used to draw and write my own thrice-weekly webcomic. Thus, when I say 'I love comics,' I say it not only as an avid peruser across a wide range of genres—from superhero to independent, from underground to mainstream, from hilarious to drop-dead dramatic—but also as an active participant in the all-too-underrated medium. That said, color me surprised to the point of painful arousal when I learned that there's actually a rather robust Chicago comic scene for me to explore and experience, with more than its fair share of awesome comic creators to pad the potent ranks." – Centerstage Chicago, March 28th, 2008
Cool Down Dates
"I think I can safely say that Old Man Summer and his deadly cancer rays are officially here, and that everyone wishes he would just go back to his hateful hole in the center of the sun already (where his roommate the Devil resides, if I'm not mistaken). Seriously. I'm half a blistering sunburn boil away from begging Old Lady Winter to prematurely return to shower us with her frozen, white "love" in the form of a record-breaking snowfall. At least then my skin wouldn't peel and fall off my body in fleshy, flaky, circular patterns, and my pit stains would be hidden underneath the extra wool layers. I know what you're thinking: "Why do you even go outside if your skin keeps falling off?" And to that I say: Good freaking question." – Centerstage Chicago, July 23rd, 2008
"Since the dawn of time and earlier, millennia before poetry, theater, the pictograph and television, men have been bored on dates. It's true. Oh, sure, we might say that we're having fun taking part in whatever little ditty our lady counterparts cook up—like square dancing, flower picking, vegan food eating, and poor people helping—but it's all a pack of unadulterated lies. Why do we do it? Why do we lie? Well, partly because we care so much about you—or at least enough to not want to cause a scene—and mostly because arguing about how stupid dates are is both exhausting and unrewarding." – Centerstage Chicago, July 4th, 2008 (FYI, this is 100% satire, I swear!)
'Hot' Dates for Hot Hotties Who Love to Get Hot
"For many Midwestern folk (myself included), the best thing about summer is not the actual heat that leaves you red in the face and stained in the pits, but rather the romantic heat that burns raw between two human hearts like an open nerve, pulsating on the precipice of erotic implosion. Hence the reason so many American movies with the word 'Heat' in the title have been so utterly successful (Heat, Body Heat, Red Heat, White Heat, In the Heat of the Night, Caged Heat, and Private XXX 13: Sexual Heat.)"
Gotta Get to Garfield Park!
"I'm ashamed to admit that I'd never been to a conservatory in my life before last Sunday. See, I was the kid in grade school (not to mention preschool, middle school, high school and college) who snored through the dull and dragging tours about the historical significance of cotton gins, cattle prods, telegraphs and butterfly havens. I love butterflies as much as the next guy, but unless they're deadly poisonous or big enough for me to ride on, they're not all that interesting to me. [...] The first thing you should know about the Garfield Park Conservatory is that it’s free, which is very good because I’m poor. I find that the more free activities I take part in, the more money I have at the end of the week to purchase breadcrumbs and sausage logs (my favorite meal ever). The next thing you should know is that the Garfield Park Conservatory, despite my almost insurmountable skepticism, is also very cool. The oversized green house has numerous rooms to call its own, all of which are separated by appropriately labeled doors. Case in point..." – Centerstage Chicago, May 15th, 2008
"Summer’s dead, like a festering corpse in a freshly-dug ditch. This, of course, is of particular note to ye collegiate types who view August not as the twilight of summer, but as the dawn of a new school year, a veritable malformed fetus ready to stunt its growth and plague your life for the next nine damn months and more. It’s so close now; so close you can practically taste its bittersweet confluence. Speaking of collegiate types—there are all kinds, all flavors, and all manner of weirdos, too. Besides the always obscure in-betweens, the campus social spectrum includes your frat boys and sorority girls, your A-student study nerds, your hipster-indie-kids who love their hipster-indie-music, your beefcake-roid-freaks (formerly known as ‘jocks’), and, last but not least, your ever elusive college geek who loves his video games more than his family, friends, or pet poodle Poopsy. Where do these avatars, these caricatures of men and women, go to find what the (original) Greeks called eros, what the Italians call amore, what the French call le passion, and what the Americans call sexual intercourse?" – Centerstage Chicago, Sept. 16th, 2008
And byline. Incidentally, I've never drunk a drop of alcohol in my life.