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Horns-Daniel-Radcliffe

Radius-TWC

The filmmakers behind Horns had a wealth of material at their disposal. Author Joe Hill‘s novel easily could’ve been adapted into a miniseries, which is an idea even the film’s director, Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes), endorses. It’s not a gigantic book, but it tells more than one story, both tonally and structurally. Hill’s novel goes from a comedy to a horror movie in a matter of pages. In the movie, those transitions often happen in seconds.

Pulling off those tonal shifts is a challenge and they’re certainly not meant for every filmgoer. Joe Hill, on the other hand, wants to see more of those kinds of movies. He also wouldn’t mind less adaptations like The Prince of Tides, a film he highly recommends staying away from.

Hill had plenty more to say in our discussion with him at Comic-Con, including why having a sexual fetish beyond high heels is important.

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Popeye

Famous Studios

Hercules may be the original superhero but he’s also something of a bore. The problem is that spectacular strength, when you get down to it, isn’t the most charismatic of superpowers. A gigantic, muscled titan without either personality or weaknesses can only wow an audience for so long. This is why Superman has the alien back story, why Achilles has that issue with his foot and why The Hulk suffers from anger-management issues. It is also why a great many Hercules films are hopelessly dull. And here we are, faced with yet another trip back to labored Ancient Greece with Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson.

But I’m not here to judge the newest Hercules. I’m also not going to try making you watch the old animated television series, The Mighty Hercules. It ran from 1962 to 1966, trying to capitalize off of the wave of Italian-made muscled movies of the era. Aside from some truly amazing theme song lyrics (“Sweetness in his eyes/Iron in his thighs), it was made on the cheap and features some pretty terrible scripts. Part of its problem, actually, is the inherent blandness of the character. He’s a powerhouse of strength with an impenetrable, enormous chest. He’s always going to win. That’s dull.

Enter a long-beloved American hero, Popeye the Sailor Man. He’s the sort of guy who wouldn’t even flinch when faced with this boring Greek demigod in the ring. Or, rather, the Olympic Stadium. 1948′s Popeye Meets Hercules is set at the very first Olympic Games, where the gods themselves have come as spectators. Hercules is the anticipated champion of every event, bursting into the arena like a particularly cocky boxing legend (and looking a lot like Popeye’s arch-rival, Bluto). No one dares to challenge him, at least not until he makes eyes at Olive Oyl. From that moment the sailor is up and fighting, determined to defend his girlfriend and his honor.

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Piranha 3D

Dimension Films

Four years ago Piranha 3D made an appearance at Comic Con. At the time, people weren’t expecting much from the movie. Director Alexandre Aja was just coming off the disastrously bad Mirrors and his remake of the Joe Dante film didn’t exactly look promising. In the end, Piranha 3D turned out to be a delightful surprise. It was funny, self-aware, and everything Piranha 3D should be.

The sequel, however, was not. Two years after the first movie Piranha 3DD scored a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes and only grossed $8m worldwide. Now compare those numbers to the first movie’s 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and $83m global box-office take. The drop in quality is rather apparent. Maybe that wouldn’t have been the case if Aja got to make the sequel he envisioned.

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A24

A24

Kevin Smith‘s attempt to reinvent or re-brand himself as a genre director began in 2011 with the uninspired and fairly forgettable (aside from Michael Parks) Red State, and now three years later he’s ready to take another stab at a dark and possibly horrific story. But while his last film featured extreme members of the religious right as the villains his latest appears to be focused on someone even nuttier.

Tusk is about a man (Michael Parks again) who lures a podcast host (Justin Long) into rural Canada on the pretense of telling a weird and mesmerizing account involving a disaster at sea and the walrus who saved his life. The man is after more than just one night’s companionship though, and the podcaster discovers too late that he’s become a part of the tale… and the tail a part of him.

Check out the first trailer for Kevin Smith’s Tusk.

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Game of Thrones

HBO

As they’ve done in years past, the folks at HBO and show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss used the annual Game of Thrones panel at Comic-Con to make a number of casting announcements. As we’ve talked about over the past few weeks, season five of Game of Thrones will spend a lot more time in the kingdom of Dorne, where the late Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) was from. And a lot of the storyline will revolve around the fallout from his death, including the reactions of his older, calmer brother Doran and his significantly less calm and far more aggressive daughters, known as The Sand Snakes.

With casting rumors swirling all summer alongside reports of new shooting locations in Spain, information was bound to be released sooner or later. Today was that day, with the panel showing a video of new cast members. We’ve got the breakdown after the jump, along with a wonderful season 4 gag reel.

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Leprechaun Origins

WWE Studios

One of the smaller reveals at Comic-Con was yesterday’s look at Leprechaun: Origins, the new WWE-branded reboot of those terrible films where Warwick Davis would put on a hokey green Halloween costume and murder teens, Irish folklore, and good taste.

For the eighth film in a franchise taken seriously by no one, ever, Leprechaun‘s offering of a trailer and poster weren’t gonna cut it; not when Christopher Nolan could descend at any moment and whisper, “Spaaaaaaace,” inciting mass panic in the streets. So Leprechaun: Origins upped its game the only way it could: revealing the yet-to-be-revealed design of its new, Hornswoggle Leprechaun. And for those who just asked, “What’s a Hornswoggle?,” he’s a WWE wrestler (real name: Dylan Postl) who happens to be a dwarf, and also happens to wrestle in a leprechaun outfit, because the WWE is where good taste is body-slammed until it is dead.

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Tim Burton in Death of Superman Lives

Jon Schnepp

I’m not going to rehash the story of when I met Kevin Smith while working a movie theater box office in the mid ’90s and how he told me about the experience of writing a Superman movie (those days filmmakers didn’t have to be guarded about things being easily spread on the Internet after chatting with fans). You can read what he said then in a piece I wrote early last year on the Kickstarter campaign for The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? Now it’s time to see what Smith says now, in the first trailer for the documentary, which is about the failed project.

Also in this trailer are a lot of other prominent people who worked on Superman Lives, including director Tim Burton (who is nearly driven to suicide talking about the sad fate of the film on camera), Lorenzo di Bonaventura (then the Warner Bros. exec who greenlit the movie; now producer of the Transformers and G.I. Joe film franchises), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Oscar winner for Burton’s Sleepy Hollow), Wesley Strick (screenwriter who took over from Smith), special effects artist Steve Johnson (who went on to do Spider-Man 2) and costume designer Colleen Atwood (a three-time Oscar winner, including one for Burton’s Alice in Wonderland).

There’s no interview with Nicolas Cage, unfortunately, but there is footage of him being fit for his costume, and some test footage of his version of Superman flying. Check out the trailer below.

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Marjoe DVD Cover

Docurama

Oh hey, it’s that time of year again where we get another Woody Allen movie. What better way to celebrate than to tell people not to watch it and recommend a documentary to watch instead? Even for one of the director’s latter-day films, Magic in the Moonlight is especially airy and forgettable. It involves many of the philosophical ideas with which Allen is so enamored, such as the search for meaning in a godless universe, but makes none of them stick. Which is a shame, since the film’s story, about a 1920s magician who seeks to debunk a young psychic, had potential. As an alternative, check out Marjoeanother film about exposing religious fraud, albeit in a radically different context.

While Moonlight is set amidst the spiritualism craze of the early 20th century, Marjoe deals with revival evangelism, which was the choice avenue for hucksters of that era (and whose spirit continues to a certain extent today). The title character, Marjoe Gortner, was a brief sensation in the late 1940s as a child preacher. At just 4 years old, he was preaching complex sermons to the masses, his parents claiming him to be a divinely-touched prophet. In reality, he was just preternaturally gifted in mimicry, memorization and stage acting. Even as a tot, Gortner didn’t believe a word he spoke. When his voice cracked, his gimmick was gone, and his abusive parents absconded with the millions he’d raised, and he spent his adolescence as a hippie.

He returned to the preacher game as an adult, modeling himself after rock stars, to great success. But his conscience weighed on him, and so in 1971 he decided to end his “ministry.” First, though, he took filmmakers Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan with him for one last tour.

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ChanelPreston.com

ChanelPreston.com

Outside of Comic-Con, there isn’t much happening in the movie world. Oh wait, there’s that 50 Shades of Grey trailer that was released this week in an attempt to bring balance to the force of nerd movie goodness. This is a different kind of nerdy, as we’ve found out over the course of tracking the movie’s development. It involves whips, chains and plenty of suppressed emotions from your mom’s neighborhood book club. It’s something that plenty of us around here aren’t really into — at least that anyone in the office is willing to admit — the world of BDSM. With that in mind, we might not be the right people to dissect the mix of pain and pleasure that make E.L. James’ book such a sensation.

In order to fully understand the first trailer for Sam Taylor-Johnson’s upcoming film adaptation, we asked fetish porn performer Chanel Preston to answer a few questions about the trailer, the book and even her thoughts on the Beyonce song. We wanted an expert opinion on the tale of Christian Grey and his riding crop, and that’s exactly what we got…

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Trio

Paramount Pictures/MGM

Nobody will ever have the balls to remake Back to the Future or The Terminator. They are the untouchable time travel classics. And without them we couldn’t have a movie like Hot Tub Time Machine, which paid it all back in homage in ways that wouldn’t make a lot of sense for people unfamiliar with those earlier cultural staples (and who’d just be confused now if there were multiples of them). Not a whole lot about the 2010 comedy mirrors BTTF, yet the ending has a similar, albeit more extreme, case of the present being altered for the better thanks to changes made via a trip to the past. The movie concludes with a brilliant joke: Rob Corddry‘s character has used his knowledge of the future (present) to invent Google before Google (he calls it “Lou-gle”).

Sorry to spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen the first HTTM already, but them’s the breaks when sequels happen — they tend to lead off from the ending of the original.

It’s like The Terminator. You can’t not know how it ends if you know anything about Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Of course, back then you had seven years to catch up. This time you only have only four, as Hot Tub Time Machine 2 hits theaters this Christmas. The sequel continues to follow in the footsteps of the BTTF series. Back to the Future Part II didn’t need to happen, but it did happen, and it also kind of elaborated on a joke that concluded the original. And also like BTTF2, HTTM2 changes direction to go forward in time. However, judging by the first red band trailer, out of Comic-Con, HTTM2 still follows in its own franchise footsteps, too, by featuring a lot of humorous cursing and a lot of boobs.

Watch the NSFW spot below. 

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review kill team

Editor’s note: This is a rerun of a review that was originally published during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

The Kill Team is the most daring documentary of the year so far. The production did not involve traversing the Pacific Ocean on a raft or dodging government censors, but filmmaker Dan Krauss’s military exposé is not that kind of audacious. Rather, this is an example of real journalistic bravery, both in its content and its composition. Its subject matter is among the most challenging in recent memory, the case of the Maywand District murders. At least three innocent Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. Army soldiers in early 2010, to be charged later that year. To even bring this story to the screen takes a certain amount of chutzpah.

Yet the daring of The Kill Team goes beyond the simple presentation of this tragedy. Krauss hides nothing, nor does he get lost in horrifying images and testimonials. This is not a film about the sensational aspects of evil, the unapproachable sociopathy of a small number of soldiers. Rather, Krauss drives right into the ethical conundrum at the center of the murders, the inherent violence of not only the war in Afghanistan but of modern warfare in general. He doesn’t offer any answers. This is crucial. The Kill Team respects its audience, trusting us to rise to the occasion of witnessing these events, but it does not tell us which conclusions to draw.

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Shazam

DC Comics

Will he play the titular Shazam or will he play the nemesis Black Adam? That seems to be the question of the day for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is either giving the world insight about an upcoming DC superhero role via his Twitter account or trolling everyone during the week of Comic-Con. It would be a nice, albeit cruel ruse to continue to talk about a big superhero reveal while Comic-Con is raging, especially on a weekend when you’re big tentpole Hercules hits theaters.

We will likely know much more tomorrow afternoon when Warner Bros. takes the stage in San Diego to lay out their plans for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and beyond, but for now we’ve got these tweets from The Rock himself.

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Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

Updated: New posters are being released throughout the weekend. As they become available and form a larger poster, we’ll update this page.

One of the studios expected to take this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con by storm, as they have in years past, is Marvel Studios. While other studios seem to be avoiding the convention and its droves of buzz-spreading fans — namely 20th Century Fox not bringing Fantastic Four or any new X-Men news — Marvel is doubling down on the place that seemingly launched its success (see: Iron Man in 2007). This year their big panel is the crown jewel of Comic-Con’s Saturday programming, but that won’t stop them from starting early. As they did for The Avengers, they have begun releasing character posters for Avengers: Age of Ultron that will probably all fit together nicely as one big spread. First up: Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlett Witch, Captain America and a lot of Ultrons. A lot of Ultrons.

There’s also a very cool Ant-Man poster, in case multiple Avengers isn’t enough for you.

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