From the Wayback Machine: Atari Movie!

I don’t know why this little piece of news delights me so, but it does. I mean, here we are in the age of the Nintendo Wii, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday:

It was Christmas, and my brother and I unwrapped an Atari console amidst whoops and hollers. We spent the remainder of the day playing Pong, Tank, and also a game I think was called Adventure (oh, it was! Here it is!). We thought we were the luckiest and coolest kids around.

I tried to explain Space Invaders to my son the other day and he just stared at me blankly for a while. Then he rallied and started peppering me with questions. Can you fly? (No.) Can you get new weapons? (No.) Well, can you set off a special shield or pass through to a secret level? (No and no.) Finally he gave up and said that maybe I just don’t like games all that much, because that sounded boring.

(I then made him sit through a twenty minute lecture on how I used to walk uphill both ways through the snow, barefoot, to school every day.)

Anyway, you’ll never guess who’s making a Nolan Bushnell biopic:

Leonardo DiCaprio has more fake IDs than Fletch.

The ubiquitous actor-producer has just become attached to star in “Atari,” a pitch that writers Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman sold to Paramount on Friday about the godfather of the video game industry, Nolan Bushnell. DiCaprio’s Appian Way shingle is producing the biopic, which the filmmakers hope will play with elements from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Tucker.”

Bushnell was an engineering student, puzzle-lover and game enthusiast (chess, Go, early computer games) who went from fixing broken pinball machines to launching Atari Corp., a video game manufacturer, in the early ’70s. Its first product was a little game called Pong that transfixed kids in suburban rec rooms across the country and led to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of video game sales. Within a few years, he sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million.

During the next three decades, Bushnell started many other tech ventures and also created Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theaters.

See? Space Invaders is too interesting.

Stay tuned for Fraggle Rock movie

it’ll soon be coming to the big screen as a feature film:

Cory Edwards, who directed the animated “Hoodwinked!” for TWC, will helm the picture and write the screenplay. The Jim Henson Co. will produce and TWC will distribute.

Just like the series, the film will be populated by a mix of human characters and Fraggle Rock puppets. TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein, who has been steering his company more aggressively into the family film arena, made the marriage with Lisa Henson, who runs JHC with her co-CEO brother, Brian Henson.

Ahmet Zappa will be exec producer with Brian Inerfeld.

It would be wrong for me to hope that they come up with a new theme song, right? Probably it is. But I can hope.

Speed Racer opening tomorrow

As I’ve mentioned before, Speed Racer has been a hotly-anticipated movie in my household. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you who’s more excited about it, actually—the kids or my husband. Now it’s finally almost here and I have some good news and some bad news.

Good news first? Okay! Check out this Go Speed Weekend! contest, where a bit of creativity could land you a weekend trip to Los Angeles or other cool prizes. Entries are being accepted through Tuesday, May 13th, 2008, so you still have time to enter if you have a need for speed swag.

The bad news, I’m afraid, is that the critics aren’t exactly embracing Speed Racer with enthusiasm. The Tomatometer is running towards “rotten,” with reviewer quotes indicating that this movie is best handled with a few analgesics:

Maybe every generation gets its own “Tron.” Not to whine, but: my eyeballs were on fire.

Kyle Smith

Oh. Dear. Um… ouch?

The lure of seeing this in Imax is certainly… ummm… waning in the face of the reviews, I have to say. But after all of this anticipation… I just don’t know. We may see it anyway.

I’ll bring my sunglasses.

Early thumbs-ups for Iron Man

Iron Man gave me that all-too-familiar feeling of… worry. It’s such a meaty story with great characters. Have they pulled it off? Dare I check the reviews?

I dared, and then I heaved a big sigh of relief. The Tomatometer is registering unexpectedly high—94% Fresh, in fact, the last time I checked—and it appears that the hype surrounding this project may well be warranted. So far, the critics love it.

And if you’re the sort of person who loves a little backstory, be sure to check out Newsarama’s Inside the Iron Man piece by Joe Tirella, too. It’s a nice little peek into title actor Robert Downey Jr.’s journey in this project. I, for one, feel better already to know that he read decades-worth of Iron Man comics to prepare.

I guess I know what we’ll be doing this weekend….

Marvel heads across the pond with Iron Man

in the United Kingdom:

Marvel has commissioned Gaul’s Method Animation to make 26 half-hour “Iron Man” shows. Marvel and Method are co-producing with U.K. animation shingle Cinnamon Entertainment.

Maybe you’re not familiar with Cinnamon, but the rest of the world isn’t:

Cinnamon managing director Anthony Bouchier said his company’s role in producing the series “is a tribute to the quality of animation talent working in the British Isles.”

Cinnamon, which has contributed early design and modelling work, specializes in children’s animation and is best known for BBC1′s CG toon hit “Freefonix.”

“Freefonix” follows the adventures of a pop group 50 years in the future in the city of Los Bosmos.

This is all coming just in time for the excitement over the soon-to-open Iron Man feature film, of course:

The latest “Iron Man” TV series will follow the release of the live-action “Iron Man” feature.

Pic, which stars Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role and Samuel L. Jackson as Marvel superhero Nick Fury, opens May 2 Stateside and in the U.K.

I have to admit, Iron Man has always been one of my favorites. I think it’ll be a great addition to any Saturday morning line-up. But maybe I just have a weakness for large robots; hard to tell.