Hugh Jackman

Warner Bros.

It’s been 11 years since we last saw Peter Pan. In 2003 P.J. Hogan made a surprisingly exciting and faithful adaptation of Peter Pan — one that really delved into the sexual subtext of J.M. Barrie’s text — but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Since it wasn’t much of a hit, that means nobody is complaining about already bringing the character back to the big screen. Joe Wright’s Pan isn’t a remake or reboot, though, but a prequel. Pan stars Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, and Garrett Hedlund as the innocent James Hook (who one day, of course, becomes Captain Hook). The trailer begins with an introduction to Pan (Levi Miller), an orphan during WWII. One night him and his buddies are kidnapped by pirates disguised as clowns, led by Blackbeard.

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20th Century Fox

When we last left our mutant friends (in X-Men: First Class) they had just averted a third world war off the coast of Cuba, Professor X was paralyzed from the waist down and Magneto and his posse had teleported off to continue their fight against a fearful and prejudiced human species. X-Men: Days of Future Past picks up some years into the future as the end product of that war is revealed to be the impending extinction of mutants worldwide at the “hands” of giant, adaptive robots called Sentinels. X-Men old and new are dropping dead, and a last ditch plan is formulated to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness into the past to prevent an assassination widely regarded as the trigger behind the Sentinels’ creation. Director Bryan Singer has been on a bit of a bumpy road with his last few films, from the underwhelming Superman Returns to the under-appreciated Valkyrie to the joke that is Jack the Giant Slayer, but after starting the X-Men film franchise fourteen years ago he’s finally returned to the mutant fold. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the best X-Men film since the last one he directed.

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X-Men Movie Commentary

Sometimes it’s hard to fathom that the X-Men franchise is solidly in its teenage years. It’s going to start driving and dating soon. The series is so significant to cinema history that it is responsible for launching the modern superhero film era. (Remember that this film came out only three years after Batman & Robin.) Without X-Men, there might not have been Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series or The Avengers films. With Days of Future Past hitting the theaters, it’s time to look back to the year 2000 when superhero movies weren’t given $100m budgets and unlimited power automatically. Writer/director Bryan Singer had something to prove with X-Men, and with a limited budget and a production schedule shortened by five months, he succeeded. Five months into shooting X2: X-Men United, Singer recorded a commentary for his groundbreaking film for the X-Men 1.5 DVD, which is preserved throughout subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases. Here’s a chance to listen in on what was happening at the dawn of the modern superhero movie.

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Darren Aronofsky THE FOUNTAIN

The Fountain and Noah are, in some ways, companion pieces. Director Darren Aronofsky‘s 2006 sci-fi mini epic is a movie about facing death. Its character must accept the singular rule of the universe: everyone dies. Noah focuses on the one man who has to allow almost everyone to perish, but like The Fountain, it still deals with a man accepting his destiny, no mattew how dire it may seem. Some claim Aronofsky’s latest will divide audiences and critics, but it likely won’t match the polarized response The Fountain received, a movie that was downright hated by some. To this day that remains a shame because it’s Aronofsky’s most emotional, complex, and rewarding film. The main problem with Aronofsky’s films in general is that, no matter how good they may be, they’re pretty surface-level dramas. Black Swan, as fun as it is, spells out its themes again and again, never leaving room for much interpretation. The Fountain does that too, but what it says sticks with you in a way his other films don’t. With Aronofsky’s other efforts you get the same film you saw on first viewing, but that’s not the case with The Fountain.  Aronfosky’s commentary for the film validates this belief. He doesn’t breakdown what it all means, but instead chooses to focus on the making-of and the kind of details that make his film grow richer on repeat viewings.

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jackman

After Hollywood heard the resounding cries of “I guess that would be okay, whatever!” in response to the barrage of Peter Pan films slated for revival, the writers behind one of the films have decided to do us one better and add double the pirates to the mix. The origin story Pan, directed by Joe Wright, will include the traditional character of Captain Hook, but will also feature the fearsome pirate Blackbeard to antagonize the poor little orphan Peter. Stepping into that role? Hugh Jackman is in negotiations to take the part after Javier Bardem passed. The film follows a young orphan (presumably one who never wants to grow up?) who is brought to the magical world of Neverland, where he becomes a hero to the native people by leading a revolt against the dreaded pirates. In previous incarnations of Peter Pan, Captain Hook took the reins in leading the pirates to torture Peter and his band of misfits. However, this new vision realizes Blackbeard as the main villain with Hook serving as Pan’s “close ally” before turning evil himself. Hey, every villain has their origin story too.

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X-Men Days of Future Past Trask

X-Men: First Class was a genuine shock — not because of the people involved or the story they chose, but because Fox managed to get out of its own way to deliver a solid comic book movie. X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006 had been cringe-worthy, they’d punted on X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2009, and going back in time for a prequel seemed desperate. Fortunately, the clean slate worked. The anticipation leading to X-Men: Days of Future Past is now completely different. No longer the slumping underdog, Xavier’s gifted students are coming off a hell of an introduction, and the latest Wolverine-focused installment was a success at the box office, while 5/6ths of it was a triumph of storytelling. Bringing in old faces like Ellen Page and Hugh Jackman alongside new players like Peter Dinklage to share time with Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy is a potent power play that has stacked the cast being led by director Bryan Singer. It’s still only potential at this point, though. This was a massive undertaking, so the question still looms large as to whether they’ve pulled off a difficult, fan-loved story, but the first full trailer might just have an answer:

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Prisoners 2013

If you’ve seen a recent trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners and bemoaned that it seemed to give the entire plot away – a pair of girls are kidnapped on Thanksgiving, and their terrifically angry and upset dads (played by Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard) capture and imprison man they think is responsible (Paul Dano, mewling it up), intent on beating him until he breaks – that’s a good thing, because the final product is trip into darkness that makes even extreme vigilantism the least shocking element of its twisted story. A thriller that doesn’t so much come with twists as puzzle pieces that cleverly slide into place across the course of its (incredibly engaging) 146-minute runtime, Prisoners is filled with a near-constant sense of tension and dread. Even the most seemingly benign scenes posses a low level of fear, and the final hour is heavy enough to leave audiences shaking (and shaken). The basic plot of Prisoners is indeed the one laid bare in its trailers – two sets of families, celebrating Thanksgiving together, discover that their young daughters have gone missing during the afternoon. Panic sets in quickly, and our various parents (Jackman and Maria Bello as one set, Howard and Viola Davis as another) swiftly assume the roles they will play during the duration of the film. Jake Gyllenhaal joins their fold as Detective Loki, a mysterious local cop who has never left a case unsolved, and one who certainly seems to have walked into a piece of […]

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trailer prisoners

Despite screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski‘s script earning raves all around Hollywood, Prisoners wasn’t exactly fast tracked. If you recall the project’s development, a series of talent were on and off the film, from directors Bryan Singer and Antoine Fuqua to stars Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. Even Mark Wahlberg was attached at one point, who, from the start, served as a key cheerleader for the project. According to Guzikowski, Wahlberg was one of the script’s biggest and most important fans. “Mark Wahlberg was the first person to champion it.” After that stamp of approval “everything got more and more attention.” Guzikowski wrote Prisoners as a spec script, and without Wahlberg, Prisoners and Guzikowski’s career would not have blossomed the way that it has. “He was totally pivotal in getting the film made. That endorsement helped it get around.” He went to write the modest hit Contraband for Wahlberg. While both features are drastically different, they feature a race against the clock tension. To keep that tempo on high, Guzikowski says, “You have to keep the visual of it all in mind. It has to have a musical sort of pacing. I think the best thrillers have a real rhythm to them.” As for where that rhythm comes from, it’s all about the drama. “That pace is informed by however the characters are feeling. I think that’s they key to making that ticking clock.”

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer has been very generous during the production of X-Men: Days of Future Past about letting us normal people see behind the scenes photos of the coolest aspects of the film. From tweeting a sneak peek at a full-sized sentinel, to even showing glimpses of character concepts (we’re very into X-Men), Singer is all about letting fans know what they’re getting with this movie.

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The Wolverine

The Wolverine would have been a better movie without studio meddling. I’ll say that again in a language that Fox can understand: The Wolverine would have made more money if the studio hadn’t messed with it. I have no idea if that last part’s true (considering that it made $141M worldwide this weekend), but a few things make the first one gospel. For the most part the movie eschews the kind of planet-destroying high stakes that have become the staple of the genre (and the summer), but while that’s refreshing, it gets into some serious trouble in the third act. A finale that reeks of studio notes visible on the screen. When it comes to primer’s on how to blow a good story, X-Men Origins has this beat, but it’s still got a few solid lessons. To describe those lessons, there are going to be some spoilers. 

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mangold

At Comic-Con Hugh Jackman didn’t quite apologize for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he kept insisting The Wolverine was doing cleanup duty for what came before. The actor helped pick a fantastic director to help whip the character back in shape in audience-friendly James Mangold. Although Mangold hasn’t done a film of this scope yet, he’s one to easily hop between genres, whether it be an Oscar contender like Walk the Line, or a nice horror yarn like Identity. The 3:10 to Yuma director also has a history with Jackman. The two worked together on Kate & Leopold – a movie I can’t turn away from on cable (but who can?) — and now they’ve made another fish out of water picture. This one just happens to feature a brute loner with metal laced into his bone structure. There’s often an elegance in the way Mangold handles the film, in both big and small ways, and while briefly speaking with him, he says that a sense of human closeness is what he wanted to achieve in a summer loaded with explosive set pieces. That’s just one of the ways he and Jackman redeemed a mutant with a shaky origin.

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wolverine-commentary1

Back in 2009, Gavin Hood came off some smaller independent character pieces to direct the big-budgeted superhero film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After a work print leaked online, resulting in a string of negative reviews, the film still did well in the early summer box office. It was a hit from a financial angle, but it left a lot of fans cold and led to a very different approach taken in its follow-up film The Wolverine. Now, looking back at the film, we can see how things played out behind the scenes as Hood talks over the movie in his commentary. Available on the original release DVD and Blu-ray, this commentary track highlights Hood’s love for Ryan Reynolds’ comedic timing and his views on how mutant powers manifest. But if you’re looking for an apology, it’s not here. Here’s what is:

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The Wolverine

With the exception of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, no single superhero has seen more screen time than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Since he was spotted on the set of Bryan Singer’s genre-propelling 2000 release X-Men wearing yellow spandex (a costume that would later be changed due to internet outrage), Wolverine has been Jackman’s role to own. From that first X-Men movie to the third, in which he was forced to end the life of his love Jean Grey, Wolverine has always been a central character to modern X-Men cinema. But unlike the armored billionaire Tony Stark, whose worst outings have been no worse than average (ahem, Iron Man 2), Wolverine has had some real stumbles — namely 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It was the kind of critical and fan-disappointing quality control disaster that would kill a lesser franchise. But like its central character, this is a franchise that heals well (and makes money despite itself), so Fox was willing to give it another shot. Luckily for fans, The Wolverine delivers where the previous outing failed, giving us what could very well be the defining cinematic appearance of Hugh Jackman as Logan.

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The Wolverine

When director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman took the stage for their Q&A with “a few clips” at Comic-Con, they had some baggage to confront. Jackman, especially, acknowledged the many, many, many shortcomings of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Mangold and Jackman discussed wanting to deliver the Wolverine, hence the title, The Wolverine. Fans have been waiting for the essential Wolverine tale and, for the most part, the two have succeed in giving it to them.

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Iron Man Extended Look

Today in life imitating art news, Robert Downey Jr. is one step closer to becoming an actual genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. Forbes has released their annual list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors, and the Iron Man star comes in at a firm number one, having made $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. There is no contesting that Downey Jr. is box office gold. He has starred in six films that have all grossed over $500m, and The Avengers and Iron Man 3 both earned over $1b during their runs. The Avengers, the third-highest grossing movie of all time, featured Downey Jr. once more in his beloved Tony Stark role – and it’s easy to argue that he stole many a scene throughout the blockbuster.

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Hugh Jackman

How far would you go if someone you loved was kidnapped and you thought you knew who did it? How much duct tape is involved? In Prisoners, from director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), a father has to face that question after his little girl and her best friend are taken. Hugh Jackman stars here as the despondent dad, Jake Gyllenhaal plays lawman Detective Loki (an Avengers tie-in?), and the rest of the cast is rounded out by some heavy-hitting names. The trailer gets right into the middle of the moral tangle, but watch it at your own risk because it looks like it gives away a ton:

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trailer prisoners

The National Association of Theater Owners recently made a formal request to studios to shorten theatrical trailers to a maximum two minute run-time. The impetus here is as much to speed up the movie pre-roll time for theater-goers as it is to cut back on possible spoilers or a simple excess of information. It appears Warner Bros. didn’t get the memo before cutting the first trailer for the upcoming thriller Prisoners. Hugh Jackman plays a father whose young daughter goes missing along with a friend, but when the detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) assigned to the case is forced to release the main suspect (Paul Dano) for lack of evidence all hell breaks loose in the lives of everyone involved. Terrence Howard, Maria Bello and Viola Davis co-star for director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies). To be clear, the trailer doesn’t appear to give away spoilers, but it does show more of the story than is necessary. Check out the fairly intense trailer for Prisoners below. It’s okay if you press ‘stop’ at the 1:50 mark as you should already be well intrigued and interested by that point.

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wolverine_13

If nothing else, a new trailer for James Mangold‘s The Wolverine serves one purpose – to remind us that the Hugh Jackman-starring film is coming out during the already-crammed summer blockbuster season. No knocks on the clawed one here, but am I the only one who can’t seem to remember that we’re getting a brand new X-Men tale within the next two months? That can’t be good, right? Especially when this one involves Logan going to Japan, getting all emo, and meeting up with a bunch of cool Marvel characters, including the Silver Samurai. Shouldn’t this be more on our radar? Wait, did we say an emo Wolverine? Oh, that might be the problem right there. Snooze. After the break, check out the newest trailer for The Wolverine, you know, if you’re still interested.

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wolverine_13

Following the release of the first trailer for James Mangold’s The Wolverine, it wasn’t hard to tell that we weren’t impressed. We even found 6 scenes copied from earlier X-Men movies. Based on the comments we saw, you weren’t very impressed in what you were seeing from The Wolverine, either. After the abysmal ride that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, who can blame us? Today the folks at Fox have set out again into the cold wilderness of comic fandom on the Internet with another minute-long trailer for the Hugh Jackman-led quasi-sequel. It’s clear that they don’t want us to know the story yet, but they would like to remind us that Wolvie is still the only superhero on the block who’s interested in “screaming in someone’s face as he stabs them to death.” That’s our buddy. And in this new trailer, put together with footage shown at the recent CinemaCon exhibitors convention in Las Vegas, has plenty of action, less of the terrible CGI and a better look at the Silver Samurai. All of these are good things.

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OriginsFast

The trailer for The Wolverine hit last week, and everyone who loves violence in their comic book movies got pretty excited since Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is the only superhero appearing in movies right now who isn’t afraid to scream in someone’s face as he stabs them to death. But after you watch the trailer, you might get a sense of deja vu. That’s because almost everything in The Wolverine trailer has already happened in an earlier X-Men movie. I’m talking about stuff like…

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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