Josh Gad ("Love and Other Drugs") has joined the cast of the long-in-development movie adaptation of classic 1960s sitcom "Gilligan's Island" at Warner Bros. Pictures.
The contemporary update of the story will likely follow the mold of pretty much every episode of the show which followed a group of tourists shipwrecked on an uninhabited Pacific island.
Amongst the group are a vacuous female movie star and her nubile but naive young ingenue, a lazy elitist millionaire and his spoiled but ultimately noble wife, a high school science teacher with the ability to turn coconuts into workable electronic equipment, and the ship's stubborn captain and clumsy first mate - ex-Naval officers with a strange almost master/slave-style relationship.
Gad will star and co-write the script with Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez. Previously attached producers Chuck Roven and Richard Suckle are no longer onboard.
While she's carved out something of a name for herself in action films, former "Friday Night Lights" star Adrianne Palicki was also briefly known as the new Wonder Woman.
Of course that David E. Kelley-produced NBC pilot about the famed Amazonian failed to get past the stage, the pilot never making it to air. Palicki remains proud she got selected to play the role, and was recently asked by IGN if she regreted that the series didn’t move forward:
"I wouldn’t say regret. I was devastated when it didn’t go and it was expected to. It was one of those things that was shocking. But in retrospect it was probably a blessing. It would’ve been a really hard thing to shoot.
And I got to wear the costume -- I should say, I got paid to wear the costume! So not many people get to say that. [laughs] I’m really blessed to have gotten to do that and maybe someday down the line I’ll get to play that character or another awesome icon again."
Palicki confirmed she'll return as Lady Jaye in the upcoming "G.I. Joe 3," and she still gets scripts for various action features.
"I think it’s hard to find females who can do the action stuff and I think that when people see somebody… there are only like three or four [actresses] who are in all that stuff, because it’s like once people see that they can do it, they put them in a lot of things.
So yes, I definitely get a lot of scripts for action films. Which is awesome, because I love doing it. I love doing my own stunts. I’m one of those crazy people, but it’s a fine line because you don’t want to get pigeonholed.
That’s why I try to do comedies or even a little independent film, just to stay above board. To keep it real, and to keep me from getting injured once in a while! I’m 30 and I feel like I’m 57 years old!"
While he's known predominantly as an actor, Shia LaBeouf has tried to carve out himself as an amateur filmmaker in recent years. His short film "HowardCantour.com", about an online film critic (Jim Gaffigan), premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and now finally ended up online on Monday.
Then, in the last 24 hours, things went to hell. Viewers of the short quickly pointed out that the short is extraordinarily similar to Daniel Clowes' 2007 comic "Justin M. Damiano". LaBeouf neglected to credit the source either in the film, or whilst promoting it. LaBeouf never spoke to Clowes about adapting the book, the author telling Buzzfeed:
"The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf. I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind."
The film has since been pulled, LaBeouf tweeting and apologising for the apparent plagiarism saying:"In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation... I'm embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration... I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work"
Things didn't end there though, because as Wired put it: "LaBeouf may Have plagiarized his apology for plagiarism". It seems that one of his tweets, "Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work" was found to have been lifted, almost verbatim, from a 2009 Yahoo! Answers response.
One of the sites that hosted the short tells WIRED that they would consider restoring it under certain conditions:
"We were led to believe by Shia and the filmmaking team that the story and script for HowardCantour.com was completely original. This was a film that screened at Cannes and dozens of other festivals around the world for a year and a half with no outcry about the uncredited use of Daniel Clowes’ work. That didn’t come until it hit online. If it wasn’t for the legions of online Clowes fans, this may never have come to light. As curators of a powerful but under-appreciated medium like short film where filmmakers spend years of work to make little or no money, the recognition you get from your work, and therefore attribution, is often all you have, so we take it seriously. Until Clowes grants permission and is credited in the work, we’ve pulled the film offline."
Seems to be a big day for trailers. First up is "Welcome to Yesterday," a project previously entitled "Almanac". Essentially the film appears to be a blend of "Chronicle" and "Frequency" with a found footage, teen-centric approach to the classic sci-fi staple of time travel and messing with one's own past.
Next comes "Grand Piano," the Elijah Wood and John Cusack-led high-concept real-time suspense thriller set around a piano recital. Wood plays a musical prodigy and pianist who suffers from stage fright. Moments before his comeback performance, he discovers a note written on his music sheet - threatening to kill him if one wrong note is played.
Finally there's the UK teaser trailer for "The Double," filmmaker Richard Ayoade's comedy about a man who is driven insane by the appearance of his doppleganger. Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska star.
The Sigma Protocol
Julie Bush has hired to pen the new draft for the film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's last novel "The Sigma Protocol" for Universal. Numerous scribes such as Irwin Winkler and Matt Holloway have penned previous drafts.
The story follows the son of a Holocaust survivor who gets entangled in an international conspiracy by industrialists and financiers to take advantage of wartime technology that reverses aging. [Source: Deadline
American Zoetrope has acquired the film rights to Alysia Abbott's critically acclaimed memoir, "Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father" which Sofia and Roman Coppola will produce. Sofia Coppola and Andrew Durham will co-write the screenplay.
The coming-of-age story is set against the backdrop of San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s, both before and after the AIDS epidemic, a crisis that would later claim the life of Abbott's father, the widowed poet and gay activist Steve Abbott. [Source: 42West]
Fox 2000 has optioned the rights to Robert Crais' best-selling 2013 novel "Suspect". David DiGilio ("Eight Below") is adapting the script and Nina Jacobson will produce.
The story follows a rookie LAPD officer who loses his partner in a shooting and, in a form of therapy, is tasked with taking care of Maggie, a PTSD-suffering German Shepherd who lost her handler in Afghanistan. The pair help each other heal and chase his partner's killers. [Source: THR]
Guys and Dolls
"Game Change" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" scribe Danny Strong has been hired to pen the upcoming film remake of the classic movie musical "Guys and Dolls" for 20th Century Fox.
The movie will be based on author Damon Runyon's short stories about the gangsters and gamblers of the 1920s and 1930s. [Source: Contact Music]
Kevin Costner is trying the Liam Neeson route of an older actor playing a former CIA operative who ends up kicking ass in a Luc Besson-produced Europe-set action thriller.
Costner, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen and Hailee Steinfeld star in the story about a government hitman with a terminal disease who must go on one last mission in order to get a potentially life-saving drug, one that unfortunately has hallucinatory side effects.
The first trailer and poster for the film have hit, check them both out below:
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has been labelled the top-grossing actor of 2013 by Forbes Magazine.
Johnson's films racked up a tally of $1.3 billion at the global box office, thanks largely in part to the $789 million worldwide haul of "Fast and Furious 6" and the $375 million of "G.I. Joe: Retaliation".
His "Fast and Furious 6" fellow co-stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker came in fourth and sixth respectively.
Slotting into second place was Robert Downey Jr. who only had one film this year, "Iron Man 3," which still racked up $1.2 billion at the global box-office.
Steve Carell came in third mostly thanks to the $918 million of "Despicable Me 2". Sandra Bullock was the highest earning woman in fifth place thanks to "Gravity" with $642 million and "The Heat" with $230 million.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" director Jon Chu and "Divergent" scribe Evan Daugherty are currently working on the script for a third "G.I. Joe" movie. Chu claims he is "taking it to another level with this one...it's gonna be a really fun movie. We're taking it in a whole new direction."
The plan is to mix some old favorites with some new characters played by well-regarded actors. In regard to the new characters, Chu tells MTV that they will be "exciting ones that I know the fans will love, and people that I've always wanted to work with"
The big surprise though was the idea that Channing Tatum could return to the series despite his apparent death in the second: "You never know. Storm Shadow died in the first one and came back in the second one, and then other characters have died and never come back. The G.I. Joe world, the best thing about it is you never know who's coming back and who's not."
Step Up 5
The fifth film in the "Step Up" series, which has scored the new and official title of "Step Up All In," is scheduled to hit cinemas on July 25th 2014. [Source: Summit Entertainment]
Gods of Egypt
Summit have announced that Alex Proyas' big-budget fantasy epic "Gods of Egypt" is now locked for a February 12th 2016 release. [Source: Summit Entertainment]
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Studio Ciné Live has unveiled the cover to the latest issue of their magazine and it features a good look at Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in his new costume for the near future scenes of "X-Men: Days of Future Past".
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The first trailer for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the much anticipated sequel to the well-regarded "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," hits tomorrow morning. In the lead up, the briefest of teasers has gone online:
Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day," "Olympus Has Fallen") is attached to direct a currently untitled biopic about American track and field hero Jesse Owens for Disney Pictures, BermanBraun and Netter Films
The story will be based on ESPN host Jeremy Schaap's new book "Triumph," with David Seidler ("The King's Speech") adapting the script.
Set against the backdrop of Berlin's 1936 Olympics, it chronicles how the son of an Alabama sharecropper won a record four gold medals.
Hitler had insisted Jews and Blacks not be allowed to participate, but relented when threatened with a boycott.
Gil Netter, Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun will produce. Fuqua is currently in post-production on "The Equalizer" due out late next year.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THIRD SEASON FINALE
Last night's third season finale of Showtime's "Homeland" brought a major shake-up to the thriller that has frankly been in the works since the first season - the death of Nicholas Brody.
Already renewed for a fourth season, the sometimes thrilling, often frustrating and occasionally ridiculous third season closed out not so much on a cliffhanger as what could have easily served as a full on conclusion for the series.
In a strange attempt to seek redemption, Brody assassinated a high-ranking Iranian official, and was ultimately hanged for it, in order for Saul's plant to get the rogue nation under U.S. control.
Brody's death has been a long time coming, in fact he was supposed to be killed off at the end of the first season - though plans changed once it was shown Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) shared such chemistry together. Then the plan was for two seasons. Ultimately it became three, with Brody absent for much of this year.
The show is now about to get around to doing the thing it originally planned to do long ago - reboot itself. With Brody properly gone this time, his family out of the picture, Saul now in the private sector and Carrie now considering a job as section chief in Istanbul - where can the show go?
The most logical scenario? Jump forward a year (or several), beginning with Carrie and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) in Istanbul at work as they try to stop a new threat. Saul would come back into the action in some form a few episodes in.
But can that bring the show back to the heights it once achieved? Whether it likes to admit it or not, the show was originally built on Brody and the questions over his loyalty. Fans have stuck with it through its various fumbles over the last two seasons in a big way due to the Brody/Carrie dynamic.
With him gone, what's left? The most Brody-less first two-thirds of this season give the best indication of what kind of show will remain. Will you tune in?
Arnold Schwarzenegger built his name on action, not to mention a lot of bodies. In fact a new half-hour Youtube video has compiled the "Schwarzenegger Kill Count" which tallies up every single death that Arnie's on screen characters have caused. The final total? 509.
Everything from a random bit of spouse shaking in a guest spot on "Streets of San Francisco," to the slaughterhouses of "Commando", "Predator," "Total Recall," "Raw Deal," "Red Heat," "The Running Man," both Conans and multiple Terminators.
"Hercules in New York," "Red Sonja," "Kindergarten Cop," "The Last Action Hero," "True Lies," "Eraser," "Batman and Robin," "The Sixth Day," "Collateral Damage," "The Expendables 2" and "The Last Stand" also all have their fair share of corpses.
It's utterly gratuitous, senseless, bloody violence... and man is it great.
It should be said right off the bat that “Out of the Furnace” is not a great movie. In fact, it’s relatively typical of your normal revenge thriller, though it clearly aspires to be more. It stumbles in many areas, but what makes it so appealing is its terrific ensemble cast. Everyone in the film gives applaud worthy performances, elevating the tale to something better than it has any right to be. While it may not reach many “best of” lists, it would be a shame to see it not receive some acting nominations from awards groups nationwide. Although by-the-numbers in many ways, “Out of the Furnace” is still a gripping watch because of them.
Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is a small town mill worker who wants nothing more than to live a normal life. He’s one of those quiet heroes screenplays are so fond of, someone who gets things done, helps others and fixes mistakes without dealing with any real confrontation. Despite his non-confrontational attitude and desire to live a normal live, his days are complex. His brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck) who is likely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his stint in Iraq, is a gambler and can’t find the money to pay his bookie, John (Willem Dafoe). This means Russell has to bail him out with the little bit of money he has earned, lest something bad happen to him. His girlfriend, Lena (Zoe Saldana), wants nothing more than to have a child, though his hesitance shows he may not be ready for one. And on top of that, his father is gravely ill.
This is enough to give the film its dramatic and emotional edge, but “Out of the Furnace” takes things a few steps further. Russell eventually ends up killing a mother and child when he accidentally slams into their car, which incarcerates him. By the time he gets out, his dad is dead and his girlfriend has left him. It should also be noted that all of this happens in the front end of the movie. These things pile on so high that it would be tragic if it wasn’t so comical. Things get even more complicated later on, if you can believe it, when the psychotic crime boss Harlan (Woody Harrelson) enters the picture and threatens violence against Russell’s brother.
Cramming so much into one picture proves to be the film’s biggest downfall. It’s like the screenwriters didn’t have total faith in their material, so they just threw more and more on top of it until they reached a point where they thought it would practically force viewers to sympathize. It’s a tactic that doesn’t work and it comes off as a tad insulting. Its interesting messages also find themselves skewed by this oversaturation and by some late movie muddle that takes otherwise grounded characters and jumps them to extremes with some questionable actions.
Essentially, “Out of the Furnace” is about how we handle desperation. In the film, Russell handles his situation with poise, showing his kindness whenever he can, even if that kindness means something as seemingly minor as sparing the life of a deer he has resting at the end of his sights, while Rodney is self-destructive, opting to fight in an underground ring, but refusing to throw the fight as instructed due to his own vanity. The juxtaposition is striking at first, but as the film goes on and characters abandon these ideals, it loses its focus. One could argue that what happens is still an exploration of how we handle desperation when we reach our tipping point, but it makes the message no less flimsy. What it explores in its opening moments are negated by its closing.
Even without its hypocrisy in its final moments, the climax is too silly to be taken seriously, ending with your typical Hollywood stylization with an event that would never be allowed to happen in real life given the circumstances. To say more would be to give it away, but what it all boils down to is that “Out of the Furnace” doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be. Yet it all goes back to the performances. Every one of these actors, including the ones I’ve neglected to mention, give uniformly excellent performances, doing their absolute best with material that is decidedly subpar. For those less interested in acting and more interested in story, “Out of the Furnace” won’t be too enticing, but if you enjoy seeing some of today’s most talented performers at the top of their game, this is one you won’t want to miss.
It’s hard not to love Disney animation. For many decades now, they’ve captivated the hearts and minds of all ages with sweeping musical numbers, beautiful visuals and endless imagination. With heart and wit always seemingly at the center of each tale, their movies are timeless and will continue to be watched for many more generations to come. Their latest, “Frozen,” rests comfortably alongside the rest of Disney’s collection, even if it doesn’t quite reach the wonder of those that have come before.
Anna (Kristen Bell) is a spunky girl. She was always close to her sister, Elsa (Idina Menzel), as a child, but in their older years they’ve grown apart. This is because Elsa has powers of ice that she can’t control and when they were young, she accidentally harmed Anna, an event Anna no longer remembers. By distancing herself from her sister, she ensures she’ll never harm her again.
However, Elsa is about to be made queen of her kingdom, which forces her to open up the castle doors to the people. This leads to a circumstance that reveals her powers, frightening the people and forcing her to rush off into the mountains. Determined to get her back, Anna jumps on horseback and rides away to find her, eventually enlisting the help of common man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his deer, Sven, and a magical snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad).
Just in terms of visuals, “Frozen” is a marvel. It’s absolutely beautiful to watch, perfectly capturing the aesthetic of a childlike imagination that mixes exaggerated views of reality with magic. With our technological advancements in animation, it has never been a better time to revert back to your childhood and enjoy an animated movie and this works as a perfect example of that. Its songs, too, are wonderful, echoing Disney’s 2010 hit, “Tangled.” Sung beautifully and written with care (with a few jokes thrown in the lyrics for good measure), combining them with the pleasing sights are sure to bring goose bumps to all but the hardest of cynics. In these ways and more, “Frozen” is a Disney movie in all the best ways.
Perhaps uncharacteristically of a Disney movie, however, is its surprisingly uneven story. The story itself is grand with neat ideas and real emotion (the opening, in particular, packs more emotional punches than most movies do in their entirety), but it breaks the cardinal sin of storytelling: it doesn’t follow its own rules. The most egregious example comes shortly after Elsa flees the kingdom.
Her whole life, she has been unable to control her powers, isolating herself so as not to harm anyone else. Her bedroom is covered from the floor to the ceiling in ice and when she picks something up with her bare hands, it immediately freezes over. It’s this lack of control that creates the primary conflict for the film’s main story arc, but the first thing Elsa does when she reaches the mountains is build an elaborate ice palace, complete with spiraling staircases and giant swinging doors.
This moment doesn’t necessarily leave a huge stain on the story as a whole, but it’s a contrived set-up, existing as a means to give the other characters a location to reach and making moot the film’s previous rules. One late movie twist, that I unfortunately won’t be able to talk about in depth, only adds to the perplexing inconsistencies of a movie that would have been fantastic otherwise. After the true motivation of a certain character is revealed, it calls into question nearly all of the events that led to it. Writers, above all, need to ensure their characters do things that make sense and that they follow their own established set of rules. In these regards, “Frozen” fails miserably.
But there’s so much more to the film than those admittedly glaring blunders. Olaf, in particular, is a treat. With energetic voice work by the underappreciated Josh Gad, he shows up just in the nick of time, picking the movie up from its midway slump. He’s ever the optimist, smiles incessantly and never misses the opportunity to make a joke. He’s one of the most charming and hilarious Disney characters in quite some time. If that doesn’t sell it for you, “Frozen” is opened by a spectacular Mickey Mouse short that cleverly blends old school 2D black and white animation with the new colorful 3D visuals we’re accustomed to today. It alone is worth the price of admission, but the good news is that the movie that follows, while not a new Disney classic, is a pleasant experience in and of itself.
Last year's smash hit, "The Hunger Games," was of a quality similar to many smash hits in recent years: it was good, but not great. Despite a bevy of things it did well, there were a number of story issues and missed dramatic opportunities that were only made all the more apparent by the undeserved hype its fans were spreading.
Its sequel, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," fixes many of its predecessor's mistakes. The drama is more potent, the story better structured and, though it eventually falls into more or less the same dragged-out rhythm of the previous film, the stakes are raised higher. The movie still doesn't rank among some of the best this year has had to offer, but it's a marked improvement and sets the stage for a promising final installment.
Since the last Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have become celebrities. Their story of love has captured the hearts and minds of the people in their districts, much to the chagrin of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Their actions have sparked a rebellion among the lower districts, which is seen as a threat to the Capitol.
It's now the 75th year of the Hunger Games and every 25 years, the Capitol has a special event, a quell, to celebrate and remember the Capitol's victory over the people's uprising all those years ago. This year, President Snow, in an effort to subdue the districts' recent attitude change brought on by Katniss, announces that they will take previous winners of the Hunger Games and pit them against each other. Once again, Katniss finds herself in dire situations, but with the help of some as-of-yet unknown allies, things may begin to change.
If the original film was about anything, it was about our bloodlust, our desire to watch people destroy themselves and each other in an entertaining way. It may be an easy allegory given the destructive reality television personalities our society focuses on, but it's also a truthful one. We've become so accepting of these things that it hardly fazes us anymore. "Catching Fire," on the other hand, is a wake-up call. It's about not standing for the status quo if that status quo is corrupt or evil.
More specifically, it makes a connection between the perpetuation of fear by media figures. In the film, President Snow wants to keep his people docile and prevent an uprising through the use of manipulation and misinformation, knowing full well that fear is a powerful tool and strong suppressant. Comparisons to so called "news" networks like Fox News are easy to see and this is where the film finds its grounding. Its greatest strength is in its commentary.
Of course, that commentary isn't exactly subtle. Not much about the film is. The art direction is also once again simultaneously fascinating and perplexing, with clashing schemes of drab, bleak colors in the slummy districts and bright, colorful decor in the extravagant Capitol. Although the colors and costumes are meant to distinguish between the poverty stricken and those who live lavishly, the distinction is too extreme. When one aspect of the film is realistic and grim while the other feels like a cartoon, it inadvertently gives itself a confused tone.
Where "Catching Fire" surpasses the original is in its emotionally charged story. The original had some great dramatic moments, but they felt isolated from the story as a whole. After young Rue died in a tremendously sad scene, she was quickly forgotten and the trauma such an event would have on Katniss was never fully explored. There were no dramatic ripples that carried throughout the entire film.
"Catching Fire" is the opposite. Few individual moments have deep impact, but the product as a whole combines to create overarching emotion that builds steadily and doesn't go away until the end credits begin to roll, and this is despite the inconsistent tone. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" isn't perfect and will no doubt be spoken of in hyperbole by its many supporters, but it's nevertheless a step up in nearly every regard.
With Phase Two of its master plan for pop culture domination now well under way, Marvel has put itself in a precarious position: The novelty value of seeing these characters on the big screen for the first time is spent, the afterglow of The Avengers has worn off, and loft fan expectation means coasting is not an option.
Fortunately for them, Thor: The Dark World is more fun than a sequel to a movie based on a 50-year-old comic book superhero with a back-story pilfered from Norse mythology has any right to be. The character is arguably the trickiest of the Big Three to elaborate upon, and the movie is content to deliver what it reasonably should and nothing more: a brisk, enjoyably silly, and visually impressive adventure spectacle.
The Dark World picks up from where Thor and The Avengers left off, with our Asgardian hero wrapping up a two-year campaign to restore order to the Nine Realms and clean up the mess his foster-brother/frenemy Loki (Tom Hiddleston) created after he sabotaged the kingdom’s interstellar highway and unleashed alien marauders on Earth. During that time, Thor has been pining for his long-distance girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who has apparently been sitting by the proverbial phone waiting for him to resurface.
Which he does, once Jane stumbles into one of the many holes in reality that have been popping up all over England of late, uncovering a weapon of massive mass destruction called the Aether, and in the process awakening the race of Dark Elves and their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who want to — what else? — wipe out the universe and return it to its original state of primordial darkness. This puts jane in imminent peril, and ultimately requires Thor to form a very uneasy alliance with his estranged brother in order to protect her and the universe. How’s that for boyfriend material?
laca_1015thorthedark_worldHemsworth is still charismatic as everyone’s favorite Asgardian, though he has to struggle with the same problem that has dogged every actor who has played Superman: that of being saddled with the thankless role of noble, upstanding hero. It’s a generic archetype that is only as engaging as the villain opposing it, though Hemsworth is thrown a bone of sorts thanks to Thor’s hot-headed and impulsive nature.
As such, it’s when he’s butting heads with Loki that the movie really sizzles. Hiddleston really gets to flex his acting muscles this time around in what has quickly become a fan-favorite, signature role. Loki is played with more ambiguity this time around, and Hiddleston has us appropriately loving and hating the scheming little bastard in equal measure — sometimes simultaneously. Hiddleston has said in interviews that he is leery of Loki out-staying his welcome; he shouldn’t be concerned just yet.
On the flip side, Eccleston is fine as Malekith, delivering portentous lines in Elvish with such gusto that you’d think he studied at the Svartalfheim School of the Performing Arts, but as with Iron Man 3, the character is sadly underdeveloped and little more than a plot device, leaving the story with a poorly defined antagonist. To his credit, Eccleston at least makes him eccentric enough to be watchable.
Most of the supporting cast from the first installment return as well, though a few are pushed into the background a bit this time around. Anthony Hopkins still grounds the movie as Thor’s gruff, disapproving father Odin, and Rene Russo is given more to do as his mother, Frigga. Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård again provide a nice streak of comic relief as Jane’s astrophysicist colleagues, neatly off-setting the gloom and doom.
More than anything else, the movie benefits from the fact that it is free from the requirements of origin stories and franchise building, able to focus on telling a comic book action romp. Director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) has worked almost exclusively in television, but he transitions to the big screen smoothly, balancing the sprawling plot and technical demands of the ambitious effects and action sequences while avoiding the wretched excess that often bogged down Man of Steel and other recent blockbusters. More importantly, he and his cast and crew proves that there is life after The Avengers, and that the Marvel Age of Movies isn’t over yet.
An underwhelming adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s cult science fiction novel, Ender’s Game is a shiny spectacle with a hollow center, a missed opportunity that makes a half-hearted statement.
Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield, Hugo) is an introverted child gifted with a strategic mind that makes him an ideal candidate for training in the International Fleet, tasked with protecting the Earth from an alien race who attacked the planet 50 years earlier.
The invasion resulted in millions of casualties and was barely thwarted; as such, the planet is desperate to defeat the aliens decisively before they can make another attempt. Due to their mental malleability and video game-enhanced reflexes, children are seen as better candidates as fleet strategists.
Ender’s older siblings washed out of the program — his brother Peter (Jimmy Pinchak) was too violent and sister Valentine (Abigail Breslin) was too compassionate — but he is viewed as a prodigy to be groomed by Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford in one of his best performances in years) and Major Anderson (Viola Davis).
His training largely involves playing zero-G laser tag with squads of other adolescent Napoleons in an orbital space station in between learning to be a leader, dealing with the pressure placed upon him, and sparring with bullying team leader Bonzo (Moises Arias), whose escalating antagonism brings out Ender’s dark side.
Enders Game 3Gavin Hood has improved as a director since the best-left-forgotten X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he’s never able to deliver on the lofty intentions of Card’s novel or adequately explore its themes. Granted he has a lot of ground to cover with a story that examines war from a variety of complex and unsavory angles, but he cuts corners in all the wrong places.
Like many filmmakers working with science fiction, Hood gets caught up in effects and action sequences and loses sight of his characters. Ender’s Game is true to its source material, but slavishly so. hole chunks are lifted from the book but aren’t reshaped to fit the different medium, and so a certain clunkiness sets in.
Too much time is devoted to tedious training sequences that aren’t put into context as well as redundant Greek-chorus exchanges between Ford and Davis, and later Ford and Ben Kingsley, who plays a half-Maori war hero who comes across as a Yoda/Mr. Miyagi hybrid with an admittedly cool facial tattoo and an affected Kiwi accent.
Card’s novel had a keen edge to it that cut to the quick as it explored the notion of shaping adolescents into cold and calculating battlefield commanders by approaching warfare as a game to be won at any cost, up to and including genocide.
Hood dances around the premise, takes a few stabs at it, but never really engages with it or its implications. He plays it too safe, going so far as to soften to Ender’s fateful confrontation with Bonzo and attempt an upbeat ending that hints at a sequel. Both rob the movie of the gut-punch that made the novel so effective.
We all wish we could go back in time. Remember that time you said something stupid and hurt someone’s feelings? Or that time you stumbled over your words while talking to the prettiest girl you’ve ever met? Or when tragedy struck a friend or family member? What if you could go back and do it all again, changing those moments for the better?
That’s the premise behind “About Time,” the latest film from Richard Curtis, the writer and director of 2003’s romance hit, “Love Actually.” What’s explored here isn’t exactly new ground, but the way it’s handled is positively exquisite. If 2009’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is an example of how not to tackle similar themes, “About Time” is the exact opposite. It nails it to a degree few films that explore life and love do, making it one of the best and most emotionally affecting movies of the year.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) has just turned 21. Aside from the expectations the monumental birthday brings, his life seems pretty normal, but his father (Bill Nighy) is about to change it drastically. It turns out that all men in his family have had an extraordinary ability. They can actually go back in time.
All it takes is a dark, secluded room and some concentration and they can be whisked off to any place they’re thinking of, with a couple caveats: they can’t go forward in time, only back, and they can only revisit places they’ve already been and change events they’ve already experienced. This unique ability gives the otherwise timid and introverted Tim a chance to try new things without consequence. Eventually, he ends up in London working a boring job at a law firm, but one night, he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and he immediately falls in love.
The story that follows is one of both utter joy and inescapable sadness. It’s one that explores the craziness of life and the hopelessness that one finds when they realize that some things simply can’t be changed. Even with this power, Tim finds that when one thing is fixed, another is broken. It’s a movie that acknowledges that life is messy and it sometimes isn’t going to play out the way you want it to, but it also stops to see its beauty.
Throughout his time twisting journey, Tim realizes that happiness isn’t in fixing life’s stumbles, but in embracing them. But perhaps more than anything, he learns that the true key to happiness is simply in living and not taking for granted this wonderful and magical ride we’ve all been granted, in noticing the little things and not letting precious moments pass you by.
While these life lessons are hardly revelatory, they’re handled with the utmost care, turning what could easily be an overdose of cheese into something that’s truly beautiful and easy to embrace and understand. All but those who have led the easiest of lives will be able to connect to the raw emotion presented here. Much of this success comes from the technical expertise in its crafting.
“About Time” is a beautiful film to watch, with one of its few downsides being an unnecessarily shaky camera. The camera is so uncomfortable wonky at times that it’s difficult to even see the emotion on the character’s faces, particularly in an early scene when Tim’s walking home after meeting Mary, his elation barely registering because of it. While such shakiness can add to a more hectic movie, it doesn’t fit this film’s generally calm demeanor.
But what really makes “About Time” work is its performances. Bill Nighy is as charming as ever and Domhnall Gleeson proves his chops after working in side roles in films like “Dredd” and “Harry Potter,” but it’s the lovely Rachel McAdams that really shines here. She’s one of the most likable and beautiful actresses working today, but she is normalized here. Her hair is occasionally off kilter, her dresses a bit nerdy and her overall beauty is toned down, but it’s her charisma that makes it work.
When Tim runs into his first love, who by all accounts is a much prettier and physically desirable woman, one night in London and she invites him to her place, he turns her down and rushes back home to Mary. There’s an unexplainable connection he feels with her, but we get it. McAdams creates in Mary the girl all guys want to bring home to their parents.
“About Time” is admittedly a little rough around the edges, particularly in its clumsy handling of its numerous side characters like Tim’s perpetually unhappy playwright friend, Harry, played by the criminally underused Tom Hollander, but those rough edges are minor when compared to the joy that encompasses them.
This film is relatable to anyone who has ever made a mistake they wish they could fix, anyone who stumbled over their words when trying to explain to their crush how much they cared for them and anyone who has lived through life’s sad inevitabilities. “About Time” may be too sentimental for some to handle, but the romantically inclined won’t want to miss it.
Easily the most powerful, compelling, devastating, and just plain blunt film about slavery ever made, Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, 12 Years a Slave is a raw and searing indictment. it plumbs the depths of that Lincoln and Django Unchained only skimmed.
Northup’s dark odyssey is a harrowing one: A free man in Saratoga, New York, he lived as a husband, father, and talented violinist until he was tricked by two white men into visiting Washington, D.C., for a series of performances. Once there, he soon finds himself stripped of his papers and briefly imprisoned before being smuggled out of the city, renamed “Platt”, and sold at auction. Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is first sent to work for a relatively kind plantation owner, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). But following an ugly episode with an overseer (Paul Dano), he is traded to a new owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). A drunk and a sadist, Epps is a walking nightmare of a human being; Mrs. Epps (Sarah Paulson) is, in her own fashion, just as malicious, harboring a vicious jealousy for Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), a slave whom Epps exploits as a sexual plaything.
Ejiofor has carved out a performance that will likely define his career. Largely under-used over the years, he’s given memorable performances in films as far afield as Dirty Pretty Things, Serenity, and Kinky Boots. Here, he dominates some truly challenging material that would elude most others; he delivers the period dialogue with effortless cadences, and just as easily speaks volumes in lingering close-ups of his haunting facial expressions. Fassbender also rises to the occasion, plumbing the weaknesses that define Epps, rather than just playing him as a stock villain.
There are a number of strong supporting performances throughout, including the aforementioned Nyong’o and Cumberbatch as well as Paul Giamatti as a slave trader, and Alfre Woodard as a former slave who enjoys a life a privilege with her former owner. Brad Pitt puts in a cameo as a sympathetic Canadian laborer, a thankless deus ex machina role that allows for what can loosely be considered a happy ending.
12 Years a Slave represents a quantum leap forward for McQueen, who previous films (Hunger and Shame) were tense but emotionally remote drama. He’s more ambitious here, and he and screenwriter John Ridley do not shy aware from depicting the ugly details or positing the question of how such cruelty and brutality could be condoned, much less tolerated.
Most know what they're getting into when they sit down to watch something with the infamous "Jackass" logo plastered on it: over-the-top and increasingly dangerous back-to-back stunts that have no connection to one another other than the jackasses performing them. In this sense, the three movies that were previously released aren't your typical story driven events.
So it may surprise you to know that "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" actually is. Sure, the story is thin, cliché, poorly written, horribly executed and all around un-involving, but it's there. On that level, "Bad Grandpa" fails miserably, but it would be foolish to think those who venture to the theater to see it are going for the story. They're going for the inanity, the ridiculous situations the make-up heavy Johnny Knoxville can get himself into and on that front, it delivers.
The story is simple (or, perhaps more fittingly, simplistic). Knoxville plays Irving Zisman, an 86 year old man whose wife has just died. He's thrilled because now, for the first time in many years, he's a single man and can hit the town and try to pick up women. However, during his wife's funeral, his daughter shows up and drops his grandson off. It turns out she's heading to jail, so he is now responsible for young Billy, played by Jackson Nicoll. He doesn't want this burden, so he sets off on a road trip with Billy to drop him off at his father's place in North Carolina.
And thus starts a road trip so outlandish it makes Thelma & Louise's journey look relatively normal in comparison. Irving and the little headache accompanying him shove his dead wife in the trunk of his car, head out to a Bingo event where Irving hits on every woman who passes and even get into some shenanigans at a children's beauty pageant where Irving convincingly dresses Billy up in a dress and passes him off as a girl. These moments are scripted similar to the way any hidden camera show or mockumentary film is scripted: the two actors are in on the joke while those around them are blissfully ignorant.
While the movie itself is wildly uneven, some of these individual moments land so well that many viewers will struggle to find the time to breathe in between each enthusiastic guffaw they produce. Furthermore, due to the unpredictable nature of the people they encounter, the two are required to stay on their toes and adapt to the situation, ad-libbing lines of dialogue that only someone with no shame could possibly say. Indeed, "Bad Grandpa" has moments of absolute hilarity.
But those moments are, sadly, interspersed between stretches of crushingly dull and horribly unfunny nonsense. Perhaps unsurprisingly, "Bad Grandpa" is at its best when Knoxville does what he does best: hurt himself. Although certainly tamer than the "Jackass" movies we've become familiar with, the film nevertheless contains enough physical jackass-ery to satiate the appetite of those who miss the group's enthusiastic craziness. Knoxville's ability to take physical punishment is again morbidly fascinating to watch, particularly in one scene involving an adjustable bed where his body is more or less folded in half.
What drags down "Bad Grandpa" the most isn't its stretches of boredom, as even the best "Jackass" films have skits that don't work, but rather its uninspired story. Irving Zisman has become such a well-known face to the "Jackass" faithful that a loose narrative isn't necessary to string his antics along. Why not just go from skit to skit as is "Jackass" custom? It's unfair to lob criticism at a movie that purposely has no structure like those films, but by forcing one in, it's easy to pick apart that shoddy structure. By becoming more like a traditional film, "Bad Grandpa" loses some of its "Jackass" luster.
Further hurting "Bad Grandpa" are its dramatic shifts in visual quality—mostly due to the different types of hidden cameras that were needed to pull off these moments—and numerous breaking of the fourth wall. This isn't a mockumentary like "Borat" where the person onscreen is aware he's being filmed, so every time the characters look into the camera, it's jarring, though to be fair, it doesn't pull you out of the story like it would in another film because the story is so lousy anyway.
But these problems don't stop "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" from doling out at least three or four riotous laughs, though most perceptions of the film will rely on the viewer's patience. Are the long stretches of unfunny filler material too boring to make this enjoyable? Or do those aforementioned riotous moments make up for it? Answers will vary wildly. As for me, I'm of the latter opinion. In terms of consistent laughs, it's one of the most uneven films I've ever seen, but what it lacks in consistency, it makes up for with some truly inspired immaturity.