Chris Pine

Carnahan

Joe Carnahan is a director whose work has improved at such a rapid pace, pretty much everyone was caught by surprise when his 2012 survival thriller The Grey ended up being as good as it was. Even fans who were enthusiastic about his previous work like Smokin’ Aces and A-Team weren’t ready for what a deep and affecting meditation on mortality and the mercilessness of nature that movie ended up being. And the studio suits certainly didn’t know what they had on their hands with The Grey. Despite the fact that it was good enough to end up on a whole bunch of critics’ end of the year lists for 2012, they released it in January when the crap that they’re not optimistic about generally gets dumped, and they mis-marketed it as some sort of exploitation film where Liam Neeson boxes a pack of wolves. Just imagine the awards potential it could have had if it was released in the fall and was effectively marketed as the powerful drama it proved itself to be. What’s the point of bringing all of this up? Well, it looks like Carnahan’s followup to The Grey—a  movie called Stretch that’s said to be a darkly comedic thriller—is also experiencing some problems thanks to the studio people who are supposed to be supporting it. So many problems that, at the moment, there isn’t even a solid plan to put it out anymore.

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Jack_Ryan_Shadow_Recruit_Trust

The thing that separates Jack Ryan movies from the James Bonds and the Mission: Impossibles and the Bournes, etc., is that Ryan is an analyst for the CIA. That means they should be smarter than your average spy thriller. Sometimes they’re at least as smart. However, the latest, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is one of the dumbest, more cliched entries of the genre. It’s an embarrassment of plotting and exposition, with so many instances of presumed circumstances that fortuitously turn out to happen that it may as well be called “Jack Ryan: Lucky Duck.” To put it in modern context, it’s like a bad episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet has a lot less interest in characters and the logical choices they’d make. Questions I had leftover at the end of Shadow Recruit may be explained in Tom Clancy’s Ryan novels, but that shouldn’t matter. This isn’t even an adaptation so much as an “original” story inspired by those books and featuring a character with the same name. I wouldn’t be surprised if fans of Clancy find it no more a true Ryan installment than Die Hard fans found A Good Day to Die Hard recognizable as a movie fitting into that series. Feel free to give me clarification or suggestion of an answer to any of these, and remember that, though it should be obvious, this post is full of SPOILERS if you haven’t yet seen the movie.

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JACK RYAN- SHADOW RECRUIT

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn’t an action movie. Sir Kenneth Branagh‘s reboot of the Tom Clancy-based franchise is a straight-up thriller, and that’s an important distinction to make. The film may have a globetrotting story, which goes from New York to Moscow, but Branagh’s set pieces are all contained, even the motorcycle chase at the very end. If you counted the amount of bullets fired in this movie, it would be drastically less than most spy thrillers. That fact likely spoke to Branagh, who was more invested in Jack Ryan’s quick thinking than the character’s skills in combat. If you asked him about Thor a few years ago, he would’ve expressed more interest in the themes of brotherhood than Thor swinging his hammer around. Branagh has always been a character-driven filmmaker. When you make a juicy four-hour version of Hamlet, you have to be. Everything from that Shakespeare adaptation to even Peter’s Friends seems to play a part in Branagh’s blockbuster filmmaking. The director and co-star (he plays the Russian villain, Viktor) recently discussed his progression towards tentpole filmmaking with us, along with the excitement and education that comes with it.

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review jack ryan

Alec Baldwin. Harrison Ford. Ben Affleck. Playing Jack Ryan is almost as dangerous of a job as being Jack Ryan, and now 24 years after Tom Clancy‘s most famous character first hit the screen in The Hunt for Red October he’s back with a new face and a new reboot. This is not a good thing. Ryan (Chris Pine) is a college student when the Twin Towers fall in New York City, and the event leads him to join the U.S. Marines. An early mission in Afghanistan leaves him incapacitated and struggling to regain his physical faculties, but a mysterious C.I.A. agent named Harper (Kevin Costner) recruits him to help follow the money on Wall Street being used to line terrorist pockets. Ryan’s nose for numbers and patterns identifies a possible discrepancy with a Russian company headed up by Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), and then all hell breaks loose. Unlike those earlier films, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is not based on an existing Clancy novel. The “original” story uses elements of the Ryan we already know but adds in additional elements to increase his heroism and speed up his journey into the C.I.A. These elements work well enough, but as the story and action unfold it quickly becomes clear that those novels featured something else sorely lacking here. Brains.

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JACK RYAN

Fathers everywhere may have lost their favorite novelist recently with the passing of author Tom Clancy, but the man left a multitude of parting gifts on his way out the door. At least two new Clancy-branded videogames hit shelves in a couple months, and his most memorable fictional character is getting a big screen reboot. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit brings the famed C.I.A. analyst back to his rookie days and his first real adventure after he discovers a Russian plot to upend the U.S. economy through deadly terrorist attacks. This is the first of the Ryan films to not be based on one of Clancy’s novels, and that’s fitting as it’s once again an attempt at building a future franchise for the character. Chris Pine, already no stranger to franchise characters previously played by others, steps into the title role and follows in the big footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. This is particularly impressive for an actor of Pine’s miniature stature (see above). Check out the first trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit below.

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stid 05

Please note, this piece is to be read by those who have either seen Star Trek Into Darkness or who don’t mind having its various plot points spoiled for them. It is a frank discussion of what works and what doesn’t work in the film and will include descriptions of all the major beats, including the ending. Let me start by saying that I quite like Star Trek Into Darkness. I have now seen the film three times and while I don’t quite love it like I love the 2009 Star Trek – director J.J. Abrams‘ first attempt at boldly going and so on — I did enjoy it. The first film certainly has problems of its own, but several things keep you from stopping to think about the film’s issues, mainly the breakneck pace, the incredibly charismatic cast, Michael Giacchino’s fantastic score and, yes, even Abrams’ direction. In fact, it’s most of those same things that help keep Star Trek In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida afloat. But the cracks in the hull are far more apparent this time around, and the whole thing could have easily been a disaster. After the jump I review the downsides and then move past them to highlight the upsides.

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commentary-startrek

The reboot of Star Trek in 2009 was a risky move for Paramount. However, it paid off, reinvigorating the franchise that had died with the poorly performing film Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek became one of the biggest hits of that summer and introduced a whole new generation to the classic franchise. Abrams was not a Star Trek fan before working on the film (and arguably even less of one after making the movie), but that didn’t stop him and his production team from making a solid science fiction update. Throughout the commentary with his writers and producers, recorded only a month after Star Trek came out in 2009, it’s clear that the Star Wars films had a greater impact on the production team’s childhood. Maybe the search for a Luke Skywalker in the character of James T. Kirk was what made the film work so well.

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review star trek into darkness

2009′s big screen Star Trek reboot was a success on just about all fronts thanks to director J.J. Abrams and friends’ delivery of an exciting and entertaining adventure that managed to overcome large script flaws with personality, fun and a real sense of energy. It was a hit with audiences and critics alike and left many people genuinely interested in a follow-up. Four years later and Star Trek Into Darkness is finally here, but instead of taking that time to strengthen the area of their first film’s biggest weakness (the script) they’ve actually made things worse. Fresh faces, dazzling lens flares and witty one-liners were enough to distract before, but this time the script’s egregious efforts to pillage the past for story ideas and even lift whole scenes has resulted in a hollow shell of a film that thinks ticking recognizable boxes is a valid substitute for earned emotion and engaging narrative. After a brief pre-title card scene on a primitive alien planet where the Prime Directive is seemingly redefined, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his pointy-eared second in command Spock (Zachary Quinto) are called before Admiral Pike for punishment. Kirk is demoted, but when a terrorist attack in London leads to a deadly assault on Starfleet headquarters he’s quickly de-demoted and sent after the suspect, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). Himself a member of Starfleet, Harrison has gone rogue for reasons unknown, but when the Enterprise follows him to a Klingon planet the truth is revealed and endangers everyone aboard.

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johansson-kitchen

What is Casting Couch? It’s the same casting news roundup that it’s always been, but today Cannes started up, so it’s got a little extra juice. Christoph Waltz, Bradley Cooper, Michelle Williams, Joel Edgerton: they’re all in here. Seeing as Jon Favreau made more money than science knew existed with his two installments of the Iron Man franchise, he’s basically the kind of director who now has the power to do anything he wants in the film industry. So it was kind of refreshing to hear that what he wanted to do was make a simple indie movie called Chef about a chef who falls on hard times and tries to make his comeback by opening a food truck. But now Variety has reported that he’s gone and hired Scarlett Johansson to play his love interest in the movie, and suddenly his motivations don’t appear to be all that down to Earth. Johansson is an underrated actress and will probably be fine in the film, but—come on! Try to not let all of that power go to your head, Mr. Favreau. We’re watching.

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STID Pine

Turns out, all of that Khan mumbo jumbo has just been some super-clever misdirection on the part of Paramount and J.J. Abrams, as this new series of Star Trek Into Darkness character posters reveals the film’s true nemesis – wind! Big, gusty, blowing wind! Somebody, put a goddamn helmet on! We are, of course, kidding (or are we?), but this batch of posters certainly puts wind power front and center, and with the highly anticipated sequel just about a month away from release, there’s little else to talk about beyond the silly stuff and our excitement over the new feature. Check out the rest of the new Star Trek Into Darkness character posters, including Benedict Cumberbatch as whoever, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and Zoe Saldana as Uhura.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Oh, man, things are looking rough on the Starship Enterprise. At this point, we may not know exactly who Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be playing in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, but we do know that he’s a formidable villain who is going to toss some of our most beloved characters into a universe-threatening tailspin. Of course, this is an Abrams film, so that means lens flares and sparkling lights and a galaxy-sized serving of concernface. Or, at least, that’s what we’ve gotten so far and that’s what some brand new pictures, over at EW, are showing us. These exclusive new shots aren’t exactly anything new – Cumberbatch is the lone composed wolf, even Zoe Saldana‘s Lt. Uhura is looking mighty put out, lens flare – it’s still nice to see the old crew back together and ready to battle a common (maybe?) enemy. The outlet also reports just a touch more about Cumberbatch’s character, in saying that the feature focuses on “the headstrong Kirk [who] violates Starfleet orders and jeopardizes his command in order to take the Enterprise on the trail of a terrorist who launches spirit-crushing attacks on London and San Francisco. Sherlock star ­Benedict Cumberbatch plays the bad guy in question, a man called John Harrison who’s described by co-writer Alex Kurtzman as a ”member of Starfleet who turns on Starfleet.”” Spirit-crushing, eh? Check out five new, sparkly, concern-laden pictures from Star Trek Into Darkness after the break.

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Star Trek Into Darkness

While the announcement trailer (which is something studios are doing now) was decidedly dark, there’s a shining kind of hope in this new look at Star Trek Into Darkness (via iTunes) even as the Tom Waits Lite voice of Benedict Cumberbatch issues threats and Bruce Greenwood tells Chris Pine‘s Captain Kirk that his arrogance is going to be his (and everyone around him’s) downfall. Maybe it’s because we’re given glimpses of those people, crew members that we’ve already come to know and care about from the first movie. Or maybe there’s cause for celebration with the scope of this film. Or maybe it’s just because it isn’t as dark as it could have been.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

J.J. Abrams and friends are going to introduce Star Trek Into Darkness to the world in a big way when they show a 9-minute prologue to audiences salivating to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. This is par for the course for giant films, and so is showing off the work to movie website runners before everyone else.  While we caught early footage of the first Abrams Trek and were lucky enough to sit next to Leonard Nimoy for the surprise Drafthouse premiere, we didn’t go early into the Darkness. Fortunately, we have eyeballs and internet browsers, so we collected a lot of the first responses. Granted, these come with a shovel-full of salt (just like insane trailer/poster speculation), but the overall message from pundits and fans? All is well. Calm down. Into Darkness is set up for greatness. Gird your loins for a few minor, opening scene details but not for who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing.

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Star Trek Into Darkness Poster

There has been plenty of speculation over whether Khan (Khan!!!!) will appear as Star Trek 2‘s villain. This trailer — which is packed with tons of footage for a teaser — almost feels like a confirmation that Khan is indeed the antagonist of Star Trek Into Darkness. While no character outright says his name, there is a specific shot and line which implies they Abrams and his team were heavily inspired by Wrath of Khan. Or, knowing Abrams, that’s just a game of misdirection Paramount is playing… Take a look at the domestic trailer for yourself and decide, courtesy of Apple:

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Peter Ramsey

Rise of The Guardians is a step forward for Dreamworks Animation in the way How to Train Your Dragon was. Both films tossed away the company’s signature pop culture references, gag-driven narratives, and all their other much-criticized characteristics. Guardians and Dragon have both created their own universes, and in an unexpected way. Rise of the Guardians director Peter Ramsey - who did storyboards for a few of our favorite movies – takes the world, the stakes, and all the famed holiday characters seriously. There is no place for self-referential jokes in this universe, which is what surprised Ramsey the most. We spoke to the director himself a few weeks ago, who discussed how story boarding is the best film school around, how he took a live-action approach to the film, and the joy world-building:

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Chris Pine as Jack Ryan

The good folks at Paramount dropped this image in our inbox (which you can click to enlarge), and since it’s a little late in the year for National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day , it must be in support of the forthcoming Jack Ryan movie where Chris Pine takes the Tom Clancy mantle from so many who came before him. The film – also starring Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh – isn’t out until Christmas of 2013, but Branagh (who also plays the director) is already filming the story of Russian billionaires, international intrigue and terror plots. Of course, it’s impossible to get a good idea of the movie itself from a single picture, and it’s not like this is a period drama or superhero flick with costumes to show off, but it’s still a great reminder that the character will be back on the big screen next year.  The promise of an exciting motorcycle chase isn’t half bad either.

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Keira Knightley Cast in Jack Ryan

Despite some apparently rigorous auditioning, there has not been a tremendous flurry over which leading lady would be cast as Dr. Caroline “Cathy” Muller Ryan in Kenneth Branagh‘s Chris Pine-starring Jack Ryan. Perhaps the years we’ve spent waiting for the film have burned us out, or maybe everyone is just sick of “shortlists,” but word is now out on the final choice for the role, and it’s an interesting one. THR reports that Keira Knightley is in negotiations for the role of Mrs. Ryan for the film, which will serve as a prequel of sorts to Tom Clancy‘s book series about his popular CIA analyst character. The film will reportedly center “on ex-Marine and Moscow-based financial analyst Jack Ryan (Pine), who uncovers a plot by his employer to finance a terrorist attack designed to collapse the U.S. economy. Ryan must race against time to save America and his wife (Knightley).” The role of Cathy Ryan has been most notably played before by Anne Archer in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and she has also been portrayed by Bridget Moynahan in The Sum of All Fears and Gates McFadden (hey, Dr. Crusher!) in The Hunt for Red October.

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Kenneth Branagh wants to hurt Jack Ryan

When news first broke that Paramount would be bringing Tom Clancy‘s adventurous accountant, Jack Ryan, back to the big screen few people were all that thrilled. The character’s three previous incarnations (across four films) struck some as a series of diminishing returns creatively and a box-office flat line. But hey, even Ben Affleck‘s turn in The Sum of All Fears collected just under $200 million worldwide, and Paramount isn’t stupid enough to let go of a built-in audience. As long ago as 2008 word was that Sam Raimi would be helming Ryan’s return, but news and interest seemed to dry up shortly thereafter. A year later Chris Pine enlisted for the lead role, but the film seemed no closer to production. Earlier this year though Kenneth Branagh tossed his hat into the ring and signed on to direct. Would that finally be enough to get this thing going? Per Variety, Branagh is moving forward and has even gone so far as casting the lead villain to play against Pine’s heroic CIA analyst. Following in a long-standing Hollywood tradition he’s gone ahead and hired a British thespian to play a Russian bad guy.

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You know how clumsy puppies can’t help but be adorable, even when  they do awful things? Basset Hound pups are a prime example. Their feet are too big, they trip over their own floppy ears, and even if they eat the legs off your sofa, it’s whatever. All a Basset puppy has to do is look at you and you’re halfway over it. Writer/director Alex Kurtzman‘s People Like Us is almost like that – forgivably clumsy when it’s falling all over itself and wrecking things, but cute in spite of itself. …except for that whole almost-incest thing. Holy crap, that thing. People Like Us is the story of Sam (Chris Pine), a fast-talking dealer of anything with no use and a past-due expiration date. He’s the Jerry Maguire of selling people bullshit – and entirely unpleasant when we meet him. When one of Sam’s underhanded business deeds comes back to bite him, his boss, played by a skeez-tastic Jon Favreau, gives it to Sam straight – make up for the lost cash, or an unhappy client is reporting them both to the FTC.

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Star Trek 2 Teaser

Update: So, yes. This is a fan-made trailer. But it’s insanely good. And it must have taken a lot of effort. Apologies for posting it as official. The Klingon picture on the other hand, is definitely confirmed as real. Original Post: Benedict Cumberbatch appears to be stuck in a sci-fi beehive in the new teaser trailer for Star Trek 2. Or it might be some sort of rejuvenating bath. Either way, the trailer boasts an eerie, technologically ambitious voice over which promises to find the final solution for all of our problems. Usually when someone seeks that out, a bunch of people die. That’s probably why Chris Pine‘s Captain Kirk looks so concerned. This is Christmas in June for Trek fans, because this trailer is excellent, and because J.J. Abrams just sneaked an image of a Klingon into some recent footage. Check out both below:

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