J. J. Abrams

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Less than two years ago, scientists at UC San Diego made the “discovery” that spoilers don’t matter. Not only did they find that stories aren’t ruined by knowing the ending but that people prefer stories when they know the ending. That sounded like hogwash to a lot of us, and to a degree the study was faulted. For one thing, it doesn’t really apply to anything but short stories, as that’s the only medium employed. And on top of that, these short stories weren’t of much significance to the participating subjects. The people weren’t invested in the stories, which makes a huge difference according to a more in-depth look at spoilers in a new article at The Atlantic. Change the studied medium to a series finale of a TV show the subjects had been watching for years (or at least many seasons’ worth of episodes), and you’ll surely see different results. Even then, there are always a number of factors to consider. One thing the UCSD study got correct, not that it was a revelation, is that good storytelling throughout is more important than plot, especially a plot’s conclusion. That is what matters most to enjoyment, regardless of the medium, and what makes us return to certain stories over and over. But if you consider the way we relate to stories, the return to some works can also be more akin to revisiting our past, thinking back on a memory or watching an old home movie. Even if you’re re-reading […]

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Star Trek Into Water

If you’re starting to look at pieces of Star Trek Into Darkness just to imagine what J.J. Abrams‘s Star Wars movie will look like, the second trailer for the upcoming sequel is perfect for you. There’s a scene in which Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) are in a small ship being chased around what looks like a trench on the surface of the Death Star, and they squeeze through a tight spot reminiscent of when the Millenium Falcon eludes two TIE Fighters on a large asteroid in The Empire Strikes Back. Also, the Enterprise crew appears to venture underwater… Maybe they’re looking to recruit Jar Jar Binks?

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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

With the world all abuzz about J.J. Abrams stepping up as the director of Star Wars: Episode VII, it almost feels like we’ve forgotten that there’s still another Abrams-directed Star Trek movie that we haven’t gotten to see yet, and chances are it’s going to be pretty awesome. So, in order to remind us to spend money on Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise, the promotional team behind Star Trek Into Darkness has put out a new behind the scenes featurette that talks up how crazy the movie is going to be and how it’s such a complete filmgoing experience that it’s essentially the last movie you’ll ever need to see (until the next one). What’s in the video? Well, honestly it’s just a series of the film’s big effects shots interspersed with talking heads interviews with Abrams and some of his cast members, but it’s worth a watch to get a sense of just what the expectations for this film are. Abrams calls the movie “the most fun and challenging experience that I’ve had” and “everything I’ve done wrapped into one movie,” and great pains are made to promote how much bigger in scope this sequel is than Abrams’ first Star Trek movie and what a relentless and action-packed roller coaster ride it is.

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Star Wars

While the news that Disney chose J.J. Abrams to direct their first go-around with the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode VII, hasn’t been universally accepted as good news by everyone, it’s hard to argue the fact that there were far worse candidates the studio could have tapped. And now another piece of news regarding how Disney plans on handling the Star Wars franchise has hit, and it’s one that’s probably going to give nervous fans a little bit more confidence in their decision making going forward. Remember how Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was post-converted to 3D and re-released in theaters, and how everyone was up in arms because not only is the film geek community sick of movies getting shoddy 3D conversions, but they’re doubly sick of everything getting recycled and repackaged, and they didn’t ever really like Lucas’ Prequel Trilogy in the first place? Sure you remember, all of us have at least that one Star Wars-obsessed friend who takes everything involving the franchise way too seriously and then talks your ear off about it. Well, the good new is, according to Deadline, the new Disney-owned Lucas Film has decided to scrap the planned 3D conversions of Episode II and Episode III, and instead focus all of their energy on the Abrams-helmed Episode VII. So there are two less things we’re going to have to listen to people bitch about.

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

There’s at least one big piece of movie news you heard about this week. That’s right, Kevin Kline has finally been cast in the role he was born to play: Dakota Fanning‘s love interest. Oh, and you might have heard that J.J. Abrams is going to direct Star Wars Episode VII: Ewoks Suck, Dude. But with the holiday and the inauguration and the football championships and following the everlasting story of the fake girlfriend of Manti Te’o, you might not have been able to read every necessary film-related article or blog post on FSR or the rest of the Internet. Fortunately, as always, the Reject Recap is here to help. Playing a video of Beyonce’s performance from Monday on mute and pretending she’s reading the following words while you do the actual recitation out loud is recommended but not required.

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J.J. Abrams

As was breathlessly reported earlier this week, Disney has now confirmed (via press release) that J.J. Abrams is their official pick to direct their new Star Wars film. There’s not much else to say as of now, so let’s roll out some fun quotes from the release! Kathleen Kennedy: “It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie. J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.” George Lucas: “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller.  He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.” Abrams: “To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor. I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.” What a lovefest. Abrams will produce alongside his Bad Robot and partner Bryan Burk and Kennedy. The press release also confirms that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg will both consult on the project.

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ronhoward_contemplating

While it might normally seem appropriate to scoff at a multi-hyphenate powerhouse like J.J. Abrams and a name brand director like Ron Howard taking on a new adaptation of a foreign TV movie that’s nearly a decade old, producer Abrams and now-attached-director Howard have certainly picked a potentially compelling project to team up on. Vulture reports that Howard is now set to helm a remake of Israeli TV movie Kol Ma She’Yesh Li, to be titled All I’ve Got (per its English translation) that Abrams is producing through his Bad Robot shingle. The original film was written and directed by Margalit Keren. If you don’t know who Margalit Keren is, that’s fine, but most other outlets seem intent to report that she also wrote “numerous episodes” of the Israeli show Be’Tipul, which Showtime ultimately adapted into its In Treatment. It’s okay if that bit of trivia doesn’t help you get a grasp on Keren and her work, because it hasn’t done much for us either. Lucky for all of us, the film sounds compelling!

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Editors Note: The following interview was conducted in September 2011 but has never been published before today. It is finally seeing the light now because The Day is finally hitting DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday, November 27.  In an interview posted earlier today, director Douglas Aarniokoski and actors Cory Hardrict and Michael Eklund discuss the beneficially miserable conditions of shooting The Day, a post-apocalyptic thriller about a band of starving survivalists who go up against a group of cannibals. After talking with them, I sat down with Dominic Monaghan, Shawn Ashmore and Ashley Bell to talk about their own experiences making the film and developing characters they were given little background on. Monaghan and Ashmore also addressed aspects of The Day extra-diagetically relating to their work on Lost, The Lord of the Rings and the X-Men films, while Bell discussed her role as a kick-ass action heroine, which I’ll admit is the highlight of the film. Someone should give her a franchise besides the Last Exorcism films.

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Star Trek 2 Teaser

Are you simply unable (or, more precisely, unwilling) to wait until May of next year to see more of J.J. Abrams‘ patented lens flares, Chris Pine’s tight pants, and Zachary Quinto‘s perfectly pointy ears? Desperate to find out just what sort of “darkness” we’re “trekking” into? Do you just like going to movie theaters to see tiny slices of footage from full-sized features? You’re in such luck! Paramount Pictures has just announced that they will show the first nine minutes of Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness on no less than 500 IMAX 3D screens beginning on December 14. Variety reports that the footage will “act as an extended trailer in front of The Hobbit when it bows Dec. 14.” Paramount and Warner Bros. (the home studio of The Hobbit) appear to be in the business of trading these mega-trailer favors: last year, a six-minute “prologue” for Warner’s The Dark Knight Rises played in front of IMAX prints of Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Isn’t synergy fun? The film utilized IMAX cameras for a number of sequences, and Greg Foster, Chairman and President, IMAX Filmed Entertainment, said of the footage: “Our longtime partners J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and the Bad Robot team have really hit it out of the park – the footage is absolutely incredible. Their use of the IMAX Camera and canvas is sure to impress current and future Star Trek fans alike, and we’re thrilled to once again work with our friends at Paramount Pictures to offer this extended ‘first look’ […]

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Star Wars

Before we get into today’s line-up of fresh Star Wars Episode VII talk, can we just take one moment to reflect on how truly insane it is that we’re reporting on an entire string of rumors about a seventh Star Wars film that is actually being made within mere months? Have we thought about that enough? Yes? Okay. First up, more director rumors! (We know you guys love these.) Joining the ranks of Zack Snyder, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino, J.J. Abrams has weighed in on his potential for helming the film with a big, fat, resounding “no.” The director told Hollywood Life: “Look, Star Wars is one of my favorite movies of all time…I frankly feel that – I almost feel that, in a weird way, the opportunity for whomever it is to direct that movie, it comes with the burden of being that kind of iconic movie and series. I was never a big Star Trek fan growing up, so for me, working on Star Trek didn’t have any of that, you know, almost fatal sacrilege, and so, I am looking forward more then anyone to the next iterations of Star Wars, but I believe I will be going as a paying moviegoer!” Cross Abrams off the list (probably). And what about Jon Favreau? Favs gave a bit of a riff on Abrams’ answer to the outlet, saying: “I think both J.J. and I come from a generation of people who formed our whole creative persona around what […]

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Revolution Television Show

Editors’ note: Hey! TV stuff! With Revolution premiering on NBC this very evening, why not journey back with us to our own world without power – way back in July when we wrote about the show’s pilot episode as part of our Comic-Con coverage. This feature was originally published on July 16, 2012. NBC’s new television series Revolution was everywhere at this year’s Comic-Con, from a giant skin covering the side of the Hilton Hotel (a skin that was unavoidable if you happened to be near the San Diego Convention Center and you happened to have your eyes even slightly open) to a large scale set piece stationed in the middle of the hullabaloo of the Gaslamp District, so it’s not shocking that the series’ panel and pilot premiere was positively packed. The original series is a good fit for the ‘con – a new hour-long drama that takes place in a world without electricity and populated by people just trying to survive, people trying to seize (metaphorical) power, and people trying to figure out why the lights went out (and the planes went down and the cars stopped working and the water stopped running). Creator Eric Kripke is a known name to a niche audience of TV fans – he also created beloved long-running series Supernatural – but it’s the more marquee names that Revolution might be trading on to lure in fans for the show. Both J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau are executive producers on the project (along […]

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Hold on to your hats, kids, this is not a remake of the 1974 Charlton Heston-starrer. No need to froth at the mouth just yet. Deadline Hollywood reports that Universal and J.J. Abrams‘ long-rumored Earthquake has finally gotten off the ground after being set up back in 2008. That incarnation of the film had David Seltzer set to pen it, but Universal and Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions have now hired Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black for the gig. It’s an interesting job for Black, who is best known for writing both Milk and J. Edgar – perhaps we’re in for a historical earth-shaking flick? Black has, however, been busy as of late with some different projects that also signal his desire to branch out. He adapted Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven” for Ron Howard to direct, he penned Barefoot Bandit about real-life criminal Colton Harris-Moore for Fox, and he’s currently working on an adaptation of the Dark Horse graphic novel “3 Story” for his next outing as directing. And speaking of Black, directing, and disasters…

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Ever since James Cameron’s Avatar made an unheard of amount of money and wowed audiences with its visuals by shooting natively in the 3D format, nearly every big release we’ve seen since has tried to cash in on the craze by offering up a 3D version of itself. This has been going on for a few years though, and in showbiz time that might as well be a century. By all accounts the 3D craze is getting a bit long in the tooth, and it’s probably time for the next big trend to come along and replace it. What will that trend be? If a couple of reports that came out today are any indication, it’s going to be filming portions of your movie with IMAX cameras. The idea of filming select sequences of a film with IMAX cameras and charging customers a premium to experience the scope and clarity of the images on IMAX screens isn’t exactly a new one. Already Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol have used the technique to create unique visuals and score some impressive box office dollars. But, with dueling announcements that two new gigantic franchise films also intend to use this strategy, we might be seeing the birth of a full-on trend.

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While we all eagerly await the next production from Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot (that would be Star Trek 2, if you’re living under a rock), the studio and the filmmaker’s production shingle have picked up not one, but two brand-new scripts from fresh screenwriters that look to fit right into their wheelhouse. Hey, it’s not everyone’s wheelhouse that includes both Nazi hunters and sci-fi movies that rely on hard-core psychics to make sense, and that’s a credit to the partnership. First up, on the more official side of things, Paramount has sent out a press release (via Deadline Livermore) announcing their acquisition of a spec script from screenwriter Patrick Aison called Wunderkind that they will be producing alongside Bad Robot. The film is described as “an elevated two-handed action/thriller set in the 1970′s following a young Nazi hunter with the CIA and an older Nazi hunter working for the Mossad. The two become reluctantly intertwined in their hunt and shocking twists result.” Nazis! Action! Twists! While Aison is a new name in the screenwriting world, he does come with some solid interest attached to his name already. He’s co-written the upcoming Spierig Brothers film, Echo Station, with Brad Kean and his first spec script, Takedowns, was purchased by GreenStreet Films with Kevin Rodney Sullivan attached to direct. But as cool as Aison and his Wunderkind may be, it’s the other new possible pick-up for Paramount and Bad Robot that’s wetting my whistle…

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J.J. Abrams

According to Variety, J.J. Abrams‘s Bad Robot and Paramount are working together to develop a spec script purchased from Matt Stuecken (associate producer on the soon-to-be-seen  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Josh Campbell. It’s a small budget, science fiction thriller, and there’s literally no more information than that. Most likely, per Abrams’s request. Finding a director could be a crucial element in discovering some excitement here beyond the basic idea of having Abrams produce something with both science and fiction involved. But there’s the larger question. Is Abrams’s name and his usual sense of mystery enough to get you interested in something he’s producing?

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If you would have told me a couple years ago, when I still had the bad taste of Cloverfield in my mouth, that J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot had a new action film in the works, my ears probably wouldn’t have perked up much. But right now I’m still riding off the high of Super 8 and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so questions of what Bad Robot is up to next are very much on my mind. Talk about a good 2011. Now, this company is famously secretive, so of course not much is know about their new project, but Variety is reporting that Abrams and his partner Bryan Burk, along with Let Me In director Matt Reeves, are set to produce a new action movie that will be directed by Brad Parker, coming from a script by Michael Gilio. Parker has one feature under his belt, The Diary of Lawson Oxford, and he did work with Reeves as a second unit director on Let Me In, but he seems to be a filmmaker that comes from the school of David Fincher. He cut his teeth doing a lot of commercial work and work for MTV, and then he stepped into the film world by doing digital effects for Fight Club back in the late 90s. It sounds to me like he’s learned at the feet of all the right people, so I’m interested to see what he has to offer as the man in charge.

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Culture Warrior

Usually I’m quite cynical about end-of-year lists, as they demand a forced encapsulation of an arbitrary block of time that is not yet over into something simplified. I typically find end-of-year lists fun, but rarely useful. But 2011 is different. As Scott Tobias pointed out, while “quiet,” this was a surprisingly strong year for interesting and risk-taking films. What’s most interesting has been the variety: barely anything has emerged as a leading contender that tops either critics’ lists or dominates awards buzz. Quite honestly, at the end of 2010 I struggled to find compelling topics, trends, and events to define the year in cinema. The final days of 2011 brought a quite opposite struggle, for this year’s surprising glut of interesting and disparate films spoke to one another in a way that makes it difficult to isolate any of the year’s significant works. Arguments in the critical community actually led to insightful points as they addressed essential questions of what it means to be a filmgoer and a cinephile. Mainstream Hollywood machine-work and limited release arthouse fare defied expectations in several directions. New stars arose. Tired Hollywood rituals and ostensibly reliable technologies both met new breaking points. “2011” hangs over this year in cinema, and the interaction between the films – and the events and conversations that surrounded them – makes this year’s offerings particular to their time and subject to their context. This is what I took away from this surprising year:

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Recently, we’ve been reporting on rumors that strange but awesome actor Benicio Del Toro was being pursued by J.J. Abrams to play the villain in the upcoming sequel to his Star Trek reboot. Those rumors were coming from multiple sources and seemed to be completely legit. Alongside that, we’ve also been completely irresponsibly speculating that the villain Del Toro was being asked to play was Khan, the genetically engineered tyrant who served as the crew’s nemesis in the previous film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This was based on nothing other than Del Toro’s general swarthiness and how great he would be at stepping into the scantily clad shoes of Ricardo Montalban, and wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. Today, however, there is news on both of these fronts. Vulture is reporting that the deal with Del Toro is dead. Reportedly, as of last Wednesday, both sides decided that they couldn’t agree on money and parted ways. So, given that shooting for the film is scheduled to start in January, that gives Abrams a window of only a few weeks to find someone else to step into the role. A role that there is new news about. In the same Vulture article, they are claiming that they have heard from “highly placed sources” that despite Abrams’s comments to the contrary, the villain for this new Trek is indeed going to be Khan Noonien Singh. Speculation is that when Abrams told Hitfix that it was “not true” that Del […]

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There’s some action going on over at J.J. Abrams’ super secret lair where he makes all of his super secret movies, and Variety has the scoop. Apparently his upcoming Star Trek sequel calls for even more attractive young actors than his original go around with the franchise did, because he’s been testing actresses like Theresa Palmer, Hayley Atwell, and Alice Eve to play a character new to Star Trek canon. And after all the tests were tested and the deliberations were deliberated, it’s looking like Eve is the first choice of Abrams and crew to become the newest member of the Star Trek universe. She hasn’t officially signed yet, but sources expect it to happen soon. Eve is kind of a wild card casting in my eyes. Mostly she’s done a bunch of TV series and the Sex and the City sequel, so I don’t have much of a basis to form an opinion on her as an actress. I did see her starring turn in She’s Out of My League though, and I remember that not only was I presently surprised by how palatable that film was as a whole, but I kind of walked out of the theater having a crush on Eve as well. She’s pretty and charming, so high five Star Trek 2!

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