Movie Review: "Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn"

Takeaway: Joel Courtney (Joe Lamb in the 2011 Steven Spielberg/JJ Abrams film Super 8, for which he received critical acclaim and a Saturn Award) is absolutely adorable in the role of Tom... The actors are perfectly typecast and bring alive Mark Twain’s characters.

From The Week:

It’s only natural for expectations to be set high from a film based on a children’s classic, especially a muchloved and widely read one like Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. You tend to go into the cinema with preconceived notions. That despite the many attempts that have already been made to capture the scenes in the same vividness that the writer portrayed with the power of just his written word.

It seems impossible to capture the mood, the colours, the sounds and the smells on film in the same way that Twain could do with his simple words. The first such cinematic attempt was as early as in 1920s, followed by more recent ones in 1973 and then again in 1995, all of which have left readers of the adventures wanting more. The latter two cinematic ventures were based on the same episode The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in which he and Huck, Tom's friend from the streets, witness a murder in the graveyard. The two flee to Jackson Island and make a pact never to tell anyone about the incident.

However, when the goodnatured village bumpkin Muff Potter, who has been blamed for the murder, is sentenced to death by hanging, Tom breaks his promise and returns to exonerate him. Injun Joe, the actual murderer, tries to kill Tom during the hearing in court and makes a hasty exit. But soon later, Tom and Huck find references to a treasure and have to face Injun again.

Here too, the elements that are so unique and the very essence of Tom Sawyer’s adventures are depicted the wide expanse of the Mississippi river, the green and tangled Jackson Island, Aunt Polly’s legendary board fence, etc. But these remain just fleeting references without going into the details which made Mark Twain’s narrative so readable. There is no description of the colours or the smells of the people and places along the Mississippi or the Southern antebellum society which endeared readers of this American classic.

There is little rather no humour in the depiction of the ways of the people and their attitudes, particularly racism, that was so entrenched in American societies of the Deep South which Twain showcased. Director Jo Kastner has, however, succeeded in casting the right mix of actors. Fivetime Young Artist Award nominee Jake T Austin in the role of Huck is convincing in his awkwardness as a child from the streets.

Joel Courtney (Joe Lamb in the 2011 Steven Spielberg/JJ Abrams film Super 8, for which he received critical acclaim and a Saturn Award) is absolutely adorable in the role of Tom, as is Katherine McNamara (Myra Santelli in Girl vs Monster), despite her petrified expression through the length of the entire film. The actors are perfectly typecast and bring alive Mark Twain’s characters.


'Battlestar Galactica' star Jamie Bamber joins The CW's 'The Messengers'

Via Entertainment Weekly

The Messengers, one of the CW’s midseason shows, tells the story of five strangers affected when a mysterious object hits Earth. After collapsing, all five individuals come back to life just hours later with inexplicable powers, including strength and the power to heal. But once things begin to become more clear, those affected realize that they might be Earth’s only hope for stopping the Rapture … or perhaps, they’re causing it.

The Messengers currently stars Shantel VanSanten, Jon Fletcher, Sofia Black-D’Elia, JD Pardo, Joel Courtney, Anna Diop, and Diogo Morgado. And now, EW has learned exclusively that two others have joined the mix.

First up, Battlestar Galactica‘s Jamie Bamber has landed a recurring role on the series as Vincent Plowman, who’s described as “the unapologetically aggressive co-chairman of Plowman Family Farms, one of the world’s most successful agricultural companies. Along with his older brother Mark, he is the face of a business on the cutting edge of new farming technology that has the potential of eliminating draught and famine worldwide. But in the end, Vincent’s favored son status may uproot his ambitious plans in more ways than one.”

Also joining the show is Riley Smith, most recently seen on True Blood, who will play Vincent’s brother, Mark Plowman. Mark is described as “a quiet, salt of the earth type of man you’d expect to find walking the fields, not sitting in the boardroom of a powerful farming business. But as a family man, his heart is usually in the right place—especially when it comes to pioneering new ways to feed the world. But the shadow cast by his charismatic and outgoing younger brother has planted some deep resentment along the way that may destroy a lot more than the next harvest.”

The Messengers will premiere on The CW in 2015.


True Blood’s Riley Smith joins the cast of "The Messengers" in a recurring role. 

True Blood’s Riley Smith joins the cast of "The Messengers" in a recurring role. 


Sam Littlefield and Jessika Van Join "The Messengers"

Jessica Van

Via Deadline

Sam Littlefield (The After) and Jessika Van (Paper Lotus) have booked recurring roles on new CW drama The Messengers, from writer/co-exec producer Eoghan O’Donnell and exec producer Basil Iwanyk. In it, when a mysterious object crashes down to earth, a group of seemingly unconnected strangers die from the energy pulse, but then awaken to learn that they have been deemed responsible for preventing the impending Apocalypse. Littlefield, repped by Bold MP, Don Buchwald & Assoc., and attorneys Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson & Binder, will play Leland Schiller, a brilliant computer genius turned anarchist hacker. Van will play Koa Lin, a grifter from the gritty back alleys of Hong Kong who will use whatever means necessary to accomplish her goals.


Blumhouse Launches Multi-Platform Arm BH-Tilt

From Deadline Hollywood

Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions has launched BH Tilt – a new label dedicated to generating movies from Blumhouse and other filmmakers formulti-platform release. The new label begins with The Creep Trilogy by The Duplass Brothers, which will be released by RADiUS-TWC; the films Mockingbird, Mercy, Not Safe for Work and Stretch, which Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release digitally in October, and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which Orion is releasing in October.

"Mercy, based on a Stephen King story, “Gramma,” from his “Skeleton Crew” collection. In the story two boys visit their grandmother only to discover that she’s a witch.The Haunting in Connecticut‘s Peter Cornwell directs Frances O’Connor, Chandler Riggs, Joel Courtney, Dylan McDermott, Shirley Knight and Chris Browning."