TV Review: Next Action Star
Sun Jun 13, 2004 03:53 PM ET
By Michael R. Farkash
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Based on the tough criteria of this reality series, Arnold and Sylvester would never make the cut as action idols. Arnold? Lose the accent! Sly? Jettison that New York attitude!
Chock-full of power moves, and coming to you from exec producers including Joel Silver ("The Matrix," "Die Hard"), "Action Star" offers up an engaging, rude and funny debut focused on the audition process.
Contestants punch empty air and talk tough, vying for the chance to star in a major movie to be produced by Silver. It's the battle of the good, the bad and the self-plugging, as wannabe Terminators and Tomb Raiders try to impress hard-nosed casting directors.
Fine editing and direction notably tightens the solid camera moves.
As with other reality shows, rejection is often merciless and swift. A few of the hopefuls -- lacking in star quality, out-of-shape and with limited acting chops -- attempt to make a memorable impression on casting directors Victoria Burrows, Scot Boland and Marki Costello.
"I'm small, but I got fight," announces one female contestant. "You can take it or leave it."
"We'll leave it," says a casting director, pointing to the exit.
Silver ("The Matrix," "Die Hard") appears on camera, outlining ideal heroic traits of action stars and enthusing about finding new talent.
The series continues weekly with the expected angst about who will stay and who will get the boot. It's tough, all right, when performers have to leap out of buildings and dive into underwater love scenes. Screen tests are particularly alarming when the performers are asked to dodge real gunfire.
The music, too melodramatic in places, underscores elements like weeping actors in acting class getting in touch with their feelings. Fortunately, judicious editing and directorial choices again minimize the potential surplus of sentiment.
As with most of the more notable reality shows, there's plenty of voyeurism and guilty pleasures to be had. Inevitable personality clashes and conflict emerge as the contestants settle into a lavish estate in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. The first bad move on one woman's part is her squabbling over who gets the upstairs bedroom. There's a clear sense of who among these folks would demand the biggest trailer on the set.
Keanu Reeves in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" may have said it best: "Party on, action stars."
Executive producers: Joel Silver, Gary R. Benz, Cris Abrego, Rick Telles; Producers: Steve Richards, Greg Noveck; Created by: Gary R. Benz, Michael Branton; Developed by: Brass Ring Entertainment, Silver Pictures Television; Supervising producers: Ben Samek, Jude Weng; Director: Glenn "GT" Taylor; Line producer: Page Feldman; Cinema action unit producer: Alan Schechter; Co-producer: Chris Brewster.