Movie News

Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler

Last year Mark Wahlberg was on a roll. He showed he hadn’t lost any of his comedic chops from I Heart Huckabees in his comically sincere work in Pain & Gain and he delivered a refreshingly unshowy performance in Lone Survivor. What followed those two performances, which displayed what a wide-range he has, was Transformers: Age of Extinction, where Wahlberg played a Texan with a slippery Boston accent. After recently trying to revisit that film — which I gave up on 20 minutes into its 20 hour hour running time — it became noticeably clear that, strangely, Wahlberg isn’t really an action star. He undoubtably has the presence for those roles, but when you look at his track record in the genre — Max Payne, Planet of the Apes, and more — he never delivers the caliber of performances we know he’s capable of. Of course that kind of material generally doesn’t offer the juiciest of characters, but nonetheless, it’s rarely a role he seems comfortable in. Where Wahlberg seems at home is in this red band trailer for The Gambler. The actor plays Jim Bennett, an English professor with a serious gambling problem. Wahlberg is stepping in the shoes of James Caan, who played the lead role 40 years ago in Karel Reisz’s original film.

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Patrick Stewart

There’s something inherently calming about Patrick Stewart. The rich Shakespearean importance of his voice. His association with characters like Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier, characters we cherish for their stern, all-knowing wiseness. Even his baldness is soothing (mostly because trying to picture Patrick Stewart with hair is so unsettling — Google Images and the phrase “Patrick Stewart with Hair” will supply you with a few of his rare hairpieced performances, but he doesn’t really look like Patrick Stewart…just somebody’s dad). Because of this, Stewart is almost always the hero, the voice of reason, the wizened old sage instructing our heroes with nuggets of English wisdom. And he’s almost never the villain. How could he be? We’d love and respect him too much, and end up supporting his plans for world domination or killing all the koalas in the eucalyptus patch or whatever his villain goals are. So it’s with great surprise that Stewart has just signed on (which we know thanks to The Wrap) for a very ungood role in Green Room.

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Adrianne Palicki in Agents of SHIELD

Everyone’s talking about a sudden reason to tune in to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but they’ve all got it wrong. Yes, next week’s episode promises the attachment of the first trailer or Avengers: Age of Ultron, but who cares? It’ll be online immediately after anyway. You should be watching the show anyway, especially if you care that much about the Avengers movies, because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is totally awesome so far this season. And it’s not just a matter of the trivial procedural format being long gone from what was initially an inconsequential series. It’s not just that it’s found its purpose in the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier without being any more or any less significant to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe than any of its big-screen counterparts. Right now it’s because the show is all about kick-ass women. We could have guessed things would be getting good and empowering when the warrior princess herself, Lucy Lawless, showed up at the very start of season 2. But while she was definitely a strong addition, her Isabelle Hartley didn’t even last to the end of the first episode, “Shadows” (of course, this very show, not to mention comic book stories in general, is known for resurrecting dead characters). Actually, the first hero we really saw at the beginning of the episode and season was another female badass: Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Last week’s installment, “Face My Enemy,” ramped things up with not just one but two Ming-Na Wens, as her Agent […]

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Lionsgate Films

Back in April, it was announced that Eli Roth‘s horror-comedy opus Cabin Fever would be getting remade, so that a new generation who couldn’t afford getting in trouble with their parents again to sneak into an R-rated movie would now be allowed to witness the grotesque beauty of bein’ young and havin’ your skin fall off. And pancakes. Oh, the pancakes. While it seemed strange at the time of the announcement that a film just released in 2002 would already be rebooted (but hey, weirder things have happened), there was at least comfort in the fact that someone — namely new director Travis Zariwny (Intruder) — saw something in the original that lit a fire and produced new ideas and torrents of gore. Think of how many horror films you’ve seen that have involved getting a wild bunch of cute young things up to the spooky cabin that someone has clearly neglected to clean for a couple months or decades, only to realize that things are terribly amiss — and that it really would have been a good idea to pay attention to their surroundings instead of banging in the woods. The possibilities for reimagining that scenario are pretty endless.

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The Sandman

Finally, news that potentially involves the words “expanded universe” that doesn’t cause involuntary pulling out of one’s hair. Because when DC Comics and Warner Bros issued that great decree of Justice League-centric films last week (also, Suicide Squad), there was one extremely noticeable omission: David S. Goyer and Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s Sandman. Sandman‘s a film based on a DC Comic, and as the point of last week’s announcement was “Behold! Our supply of DC movies has no end!,” you’d think WB would want to pad the list with as many as possible. Heck, they included Lego Batman on the list, and no one’s expecting Batfleck to split Justice League Bat-duties with a tiny gravel-voiced LEGO piece.

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Terminator Original

Arnold Schwarzenegger is old, which means he’s going to look old in the next Terminator movie. He’ll be a robot with wrinkles, and according to James Cameron, that’s okay. “I pointed out that the outer covering (of the Terminator) was actually not synthetic, that it was organic and therefore could age,” Cameron said at a 30th anniversary celebration of the original film. “You could theoretically have a Terminator that was sent back in time, missed his target, and ended up just kind of living on in society. Because he is a learning computer and has a brain as a central processor he could actually become more human as he went along without getting discovered.” So that’s that, except it doesn’t really matter. This is the kind of external explanation that you can hold in the back of your mind even while laughing at what’s happening on screen. Even if they offer it up as exposition, it’s still a cosmetic solution for a real-world situation we all recognize. Schwarzenegger is thirty years older, so now they’ve got to explain why he’s that way in the movies, thus reminding all of us that it’s something which needs explanation. It’s lose-lose. On the other hand, there’s a chance that aging will offer Terminator: Genisys a gruff, sullen robot, but on the other other hand, is there any real hope that Schwarzenegger can rise above his hammy delivery to pull that off to its full potential?

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Speed Keanu Reeves

The thing about Key & Peele is that every time they come up with an idea that’s stranger than the last one, it seems perfectly normal. The comedy duo brought us sketches featuring a continental breakfast-themed nod to The Shining (with go-gurts, to stay), an elaborate Les Miz production just about how nobody gets the chance to clearly talk during the entire musical and of course, Mr. Garvey, the substitute teacher who can’t quite get the pronunciation of his white students’ names correct and is livid when anyone challenges him. Though Key & Peele (full names Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) had been in talks to make a film about their Mr. Garvey character, that’s apparently not up next. Neither is their proposed Police Academy reboot and their untitled project with Judd Apatow. Instead, their upcoming film is Keanu, the story of two best friends who pose as drug dealers and go undercover in the seedy underbelly of the criminal world, where people are despicable enough to kidnap a cap named after — who else? — the star of Speed.

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Sharknado 2

We’re all refreshing Sharknado‘s Twitter on an hourly basis, right? I’m going to assume that, yes, most of society is, so you probably already heard the news this morning that Sharknado 3 is real, and it already has a below-average shark pun tethered to its name: Feast Coast — okay, technically the word “feast” isn’t specifically a sharkological term, but put it in close enough proximity to the word “Sharknado” and it fits just fine. The details come from an Orlando-based Sharknado press tour, alongside the fateful Twitter reveal explaining just what a “Feast Coast” is. Apparently, it’s a stretch of coastal America from Washington, DC, to Florida marauded by airborne sharks. Then comes IGN with a scant few details more. The film will begin by hurling sharks at our nation’s capital (this is apparently “what [Washington, DC] deserves,” according to Syfy and Chiller President Dave Howe, who seems to hold a shark-based grudge against big government), then travel southward until it ends in Orlando. No cast has been announced yet, but it’s a safe bet that Tara Reid and Ian Ziering will return. Also, it’s probably best to assume that “Feast Coast” isn’t actually the subtitle for Sharknado 3, as Syfy is likely to hold another contest on social media to come up with the name, like they did for Sharknado 2: The Second One.

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Scarlett Johansson in UNDER THE SKIN

Earlier this week came news of WB/DC’s Suicide Squad, and the sparkly list of celebs wanted to play various morally murky supervillains. And right afterward came an update from Deadline- yes, Tom Hardy, Will Smith and Margot Robbie are super interested in pursuing some supervillainy (save for Ryan Gosling, who’s being all finicky). But in one throwaway sentence of that Deadline piece was something even more shocking (more shocking than Will Smith playing an outright villain, if you can believe it). It seems Robbie was free to pursue Suicide Squad because her previous target, the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation, had ditched her to pitch woo at Scarlett Johansson.

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Suicide Squad

Amidst all the DC Comics hooplah that’s got everyone so riled up (Ezra Miller, a solo Cyborg film, the dreaded words: “Part Two”) was a piece of news that was more or less confirmed a month ago: David Ayer‘s Suicide Squad. It’s a project that’s been in discussion for about a year (the words “suicide” and “squad” were first mentioned in reference to Warner Bros. back in December), and last month Ayer was said to be circling the project — meaning he’ll take it, probably, unless a stray tennis ball knocks him out of orbit and towards another gritty WWII tank movie. And when WB put out yesterday’s ten-page rap sheet of upcoming flicks, there was Ayer’s name at number two on the list — right next to a “Suicide Squad” and a “2016.” In case you haven’t seen the Squad pop up on Arrow, the Arkham game series or their recent animated movie (they’re so hot right now), here’s a quick summation of what makes this squad so suicide-y. The Suicide Squad is a team of DC antiheroes (and outright supervillains) recruited by Amanda Waller (think DC’s Nick Fury, but more dickish), used as a super-secret superpowered blacks ops team. It’s a win-win for all: the various Squad members (usually, names like Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Bronze Tiger and Count Vertigo) get years off the multiple prison sentences they’re all constantly serving (they are supervillains, after all), while Waller gets a hit squad that can suffer a few casualties without anyone losing sleep at […]

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Universal Pictures

What would Jurassic Park be without that iconic poster design? It seems so simple: take a circle, slap a rectangle over the top and let a dinosaur skeleton chill in the open space that remains. But somehow, circle + rectangle + dino skeleton = instant iconicism. There’s power in that odd, street sign-shaped design — so much so that every subsequent Jurassic Park film has been content to slap the logo on a solid color background and call it a day as far as poster marketing goes. (Sure, the original had all of these incredible John Alvin poster designs, but there’s a reason they went unused- in the end, the minimalist tease is so much more effective). And while we’ve seen a hint of what Jurassic World‘s dinocircle would look like — back when the film was first announced, it came with a cold metal update on the original icon — that wasn’t nearly its final form. Was it too simplistic? Too close to this near-identical design from a 2003 Jurassic Park-building sim game? Who knows? This new teaser poster for Jurassic World, however, just might be the finished product. Revealed to the world by director Colin Trevorrow on Twitter, it’s everything one would expect from a Jurassic poster — classic shape on a sparse background, with a logo to boot: “The Park is Open.” Hopefully future posters will be just as plainly informative about the park-to-be: “Tickets On Sale Now.” “Visit The Snack Bar For Some Jurassic Fries.” “Hey, Is That […]

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Sony Pictures

Once upon a time, Johnny Depp was a reasonably sane actor with only a few zany hats in his personal collection. Once upon a time, the name “Pirates of the Caribbean” conjured up animatronic seafarers, skeletons guarding plastic treasure and that skipping track playing “yo-ho yo-ho” over and over in a dark tunnel until it was time to leave and get a delicious churro. That all changed in 2003 when Disney realized turning their park rides into movies was a valid business venture (thanks for the Haunted Mansion memories, Eddie Murphy), and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was born. Four movies — and Depp staggering around doing his best Keith Richards impression (and an actual Keith Richards eventually too) — later we can now look forward to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. It’s certainly about time that they used that phrase, isn’t it? It’s the first warning you get while taking your dingy down the river into the tunnels of Disney’s most treacherous ride, and it’s definitely worth heeding. And now, the person likely to be putting that motto into practice for Captain Jack Sparrow in Depp’s fifth go-round as the drunkest, cunningest commander of the high seas, is noted portrayer of villains, Javier Bardem.

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Sony Pictures / ScreenGems

As it has been decreed by the Ancient Ones, all that was once film must now be TV. So it should be no surprise that, as of Sunday, we’ve got two more film franchises to be thrown on Hollywood’s towering pile of movie-to-TV ventures: Resident Evil and Underworld. From Variety comes the news on Resident Evil- Constantin Films, the production company behind the franchise, told the publication they’re shifting Resident Evil to the small screen after the sixth film (tentatively titled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) comes and goes. Then, over at IGN (which we picked up on via Digital Spy) came similar news from Underworld guru Len Wiseman- first a spin-off without Kate Beckinsale, then a main series film with Kate Beckinsale, then everyone packs up and moves to television. Wiseman also said the words “expanding” and “universe” in regards to all this new Underworld, but let’s slam that particular Pandora’s Box shut for now. With these two, we’re getting into hokey sitcom-level coincidence territory- two different studios revealing new TV shows, having done so on the exact same day with the exact same movie. Because Underworld and Resident Evil are practically twins- if you were to read the words, “Female hero in skintight leather blasts holes in horror movie monsters with dual-wielded pistols, then takes a break to marry her director who’s given the entire series a mild blue color filter,” you would have zero way of guessing which franchise we’re talking about.

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Labyrinth Movie

By announcing Billy Crystal‘s involvement with Which Witch, a new animated film that has him taking on starring, writing and producing duties, the Jim Henson Co. quietly slipped in just a few other, minor items. The studio, which is now run by the late Jim Henson’s children Lisa and Brian Henson, is ramping up its feature film side after focusing on television ventures for some time; and four films involving beloved Henson properties are on the way. While the rights to The Muppets were sold to Disney in 2004 — and those rights have definitely not gone to waste — the Henson Co. has enough franchises in their arsenal to pad their slate. According to Variety, aside from Which Witch, the studio is working on a Fraggle Rock film, a sequel to Dark Crystal, a movie based on Emmet Otter (there was a 1970s TV movie, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas) and a film centered in the world of Labyrinth. They also optioned the rights to “Frog and Toad” in 2012, but there hasn’t been any news on that front since.

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Marvel

The Internet hasn’t entirely exploded yet, but it might. The plans for Marvel’s much anticipated ‘Phase 3′ of cinematic universe adventures is beginning to take shape and it all seems to revolve around the competitive side of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. With the news that Robert Downey Jr. is in talks to take a much larger role in Captain America 3, it’s a confirmation that Marvel may unleash a version of its “Civil War” series, based on a 2006 run by Mark Millar. It’s a development that should have the most hardcore fans very excited. For everyone else, let’s explore for a moment how cool this might be.

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The Professional

It looks like the totally hypothetical Cinematic Teen Hit Girl Club is getting a brand new member. Deadline reports that The Giver star Odeya Rush has signed on to star in Hunter’s Prayer, a Jonathan Mostow-directed action-thriller about “a young girl who teams up with the assassin hired to wipe out her family to find the person responsible.” Oh, a buddy flick! Sam Worthington is already on board to play said assassin, who helps Rush’s Ella “navigate the tangled web of hitmen and thugs on her quest for justice.” And we thought you could just PayPal hitmen money.  Rush now joins a subgenre of films that center on guns, girls and (screw any attempts at alliteration) just plain illegal activities. And yet, said subgenre isn’t nearly as bankable as it once (oh so briefly) was, so why do we keep getting films about gun-toting teens with attitude? (Don’t say, “because it looks cool!”)  

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IndieGoGo

There are things that are spooky and scary and go bump in the night, monsters and demons and specters and whispering voices– the things that haunt your nightmares as a child and give you that foreboding feeling that you’ve tried to get rid of as an adult. And also there’s Iggy Pop. He’s definitely in there somewhere, probably between the boogeyman and saying “Bloody Mary” three times at a slumber party. That sounds about right. The Godfather of Punk, who is no stranger to the film world, has teamed up with Dario Argento to morph into a monster that probably hasn’t crossed most of your minds for some time, given the fact that there have been approximately 8,000 Dracula and Frankenstein adaptations to digest. Argento has launched an Indigogo campaign to turn Iggy Pop into the titular monster of The Sandman – a “Christmas horror” film, which they are careful to remind readers is about the “REAL Sandman” (possibly a pointed reference to a little Neil Gaiman project?)

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Lego Batman

Time to rip off this Band-Aid: The Lego Movie 2 is being postponed. I know how you must feel — take as much time as you need to fume, or sob, or ragepunch a hole through a few fully built LEGO sets. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Lego Movie 2 is being pushed into some shadowy date beyond 2017, because — and here’s the good news (our anti-Band-Aid) — their priority is now a Lego Batman movie. Feel better?

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The Mortal Instruments

Talk about immortality! (Sorry.) The Hollywood Reporter shares that The Mortal Instruments, Cassandra Clare’s bestselling and beloved YA book franchise (that first started as Harry Potter fan fiction, lest we forget), is bound for the small screen. And, no, you’re not misremembering things here – the series has already made one attempt at adaptation, with last year’s underperforming feature film, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The Lily Collins-starring feature was originally imagined as a franchise starter, but the film made less than $32m at the American box office (interestingly, the feature did make a grand total of $90.5m with worldwide receipts, but such a take still puts it in the bottom half of YA adaptations). Although there has been some chatter about lensing a second feature, it now appears that these Instruments are pointing in a different direction. Constantin Film, the rights-holding production company, will now revisit the series as a “high-end drama series,” with writer and producer Ed Decter on board as showrunner. 

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little house on the prairie cast

Sometimes TV series adaptations stir up something furious in us, a sudden supercharged desire to destroy the unholy abomination before it taints something we love (ahem, The Equalizer). Other times, they don’t seem like such a bad idea, as is the case with Little House on the Prairie. In our current climate, where people (me) are going around tagging TV adaptations as “unholy abominations” that should probably be purged from society, we could all use a palette cleanser. And there’s none better than Little House, a series as plain, tall and uniformly wholesome as TV could ever be. Or maybe not, because as The Hollywood Reporter has announced, the Little House movie has picked up Sean Durkin as its director. The same Sean Durkin whose only feature credit is Martha Marcy May Marlene, which is also about a quaint little family living out in the wilderness — only Durkin’s version has a few more instances of rape and psychological torture. For those screamingly obvious reasons, he’s an odd pick for Little House, but the last director Sony had lined up for the project was just as bizarre: David Gordon Green, whose indie dramas and freaky comedies with Danny McBride have just as little to do with gentle pioneer families and the soft rustle of the country wind through your prairie bonnet.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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