Kate Mara

20th Century Fox

Kate Mara doesn’t read comic books, doesn’t want to read comic books and won’t need to read comic books in order to play The Invisible Woman in Fox’s upcoming The Fantastic Four. That’s because director Josh Trank told the cast they should avoid reading the comic books since the new movie won’t be based on anything that’s already down on ink and paper. This might be the best news possible for the genre. It’s unsurprising, though, because comic book movies have largely outgrown their paged counterparts over the last decade even as productions remain near-slavish to stories we’ve read before, villains we already know and imagery that’s taken directly from the source. Why is this great news? Because we’re having our culture happily fed back to us as we ask for seconds and thirds, and that’s a problem. It amazes me that some people rail against the unoriginality of remakes while cheering when the latest superhero movie announces that it’ll be using That Storyline People Liked From The 80s as the basis for its script.

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The Thing from The Fantastic Four: Rise of Silver Surfer

We’ve known for a while that Michael B. Jordan was going to bring his charm to The Fantastic Four reboot due next year from director Josh Trank, and now Variety has confirmed that The Human Torch will have some friends. Kate Mara will play The Invisible Girl, Miles Teller has been offered the role of Mr. Fantastic and Jamie Bell is expected to get the offer to play The Thing. The obvious takeaway is that this is more like The Abercrombie & Fitchtastic Four, but it’s at least a little encouraging to see an interesting shift away from the decade-old franchise incarnation. Will any casting matter while the film is under Fox’s roof? Maybe not. They haven’t exactly had a strong track record when it comes to superheroes. But in a world full of middle-aged people wearing spandex, it’ll be refreshing to see things tack a little younger. And just for fun, here are the new Fantastic Four members in their most recent projects. It should provide some — confusing — context. Squint and see if you can spot the powers:

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House of Cards

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Netflix gifted its subscribers with the full second season of its hit series, House of Cards, featuring a slam-bang season opener that left viewers reeling (and tweeting copious versions of “OH MY GOD”) and that pushed already-nefarious characters to new levels of both evil and unlikability. No, there’s no rule that characters need to be charming or likable or aspirational, but it sure is nice to watch a show that stars someone (anyone) whose actions you can respect and admire. The Underwoods and their lackeys have always been particularly underhanded, but the second season has already shoved them into new realms and practices of what is best described as over-the-top, unrelatable, and outsized evil. These are bad people doing very bad things, and as fun as it might be to watch them inflict their brand of political and personal striving on enemies, deserving or not, they are not the kind of characters anyone can actually root for. But if you can’t back the two lead characters of a series, who can you? Spoilers ahead for the first episode of House of Cards’ second series premiere.

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Transcendence

The future is a bleak and terrifying place. It’s already been established in countless films that no matter what we do, we’re doomed, so we might as well just embrace it. There’s no hoverboards, okay? You’re not going to be cruising down the street like Marty McFly, drinking your crazy Pepsi in the far-off glamorous land of 2015. It’s far more likely that we’re either going to bow down to our ape overlords after resisting but ultimately giving up because resistance is futile, or witness the rise of the machines. The singularity is coming. The new trailer for Wally Pfister‘s Transcendence is spelling out exactly what that means for Johnny Depp and his fellow scientists clearer than ever (It’s destruction). The film follows a brilliant scientist only known at this point as Will (Depp), who is working toward building the singularity — a complex computer system advanced far beyond the knowledge of all other technology or mankind. He and his team have already made headway and are presenting their ideas at a TED-like conference when a group of anti-AI terrorists (led by Kate Mara) take on the dual task of his assassination and destroying his research.

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House of Cards Season 2

When Kevin Spacey looks dead straight into the camera and says, “Welcome back,” in the House of Cards season 2 trailer, I don’t know whether to be proud or terrified. Proud because it means another installment of the political horror show built on a spider web foundation. Terrified because it means Spacey will continue to talk to the audience directly. That was one of the clunkier elements of an otherwise lung-squeezingly tight show, but it’s easy to shrug away once the intensity of the trailer grabs hold. For the most part, it looks like the same gang of players is rigging the game as the newly nominated Vice President Underwood loads the dice. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Potential Fantastic Four

Variety is reporting that the shortlist for Fox’s new Fantastic Four reboot is skewing young. The breakdown of testing actors includes Michael B. Jordan still being floated as The Human Torch; Miles Teller, Kit Harington and Jack O’Connell (Skins) for Reed Richards; and Saoirse Ronan, Kate Mara and possibly Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) for Sue Storm. Granted, Mara is 30, and Jessica Alba was 24 when she was cast in the role less than a decade ago, but the rest of the list tops out at 26 years for several of the gents while Ronan (the most veteran of the crew) won’t be able to drink legally in the States for a year and a half. In the previous incarnation, Ioan Gruffudd brought some grounding maturity, but the new vision may be looking to bring in adult supervision solely with Ben Grimm — unless they cast another 20-something for The Thing, too. Honestly, all of this is kind of cool. At the very least it brings a different angle to a franchise whose renewed existence is aggressively shrug-worthy. It’s also a way to make a natural through line for Chronicle director Josh Trank as he takes on legacy superheroes for a change.  There are a ton of middle-aged heroes out there, so maybe it’s time for a different flavor in the buffet of spandex and capes. Of course, regardless of who they cast, it’ll still be a superhero movie produced by Fox and written by the guy who wrote This […]

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dashes

What is Casting Couch? It’s a roundup of all the day’s casting developments that are fit to print. Read on to find out about a cool cameo Gareth Edwards set up for Godzilla. Though she’s still in the early stages of her directing career, Lynn Shelton (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister) has already proven that all she really needs is a couple of good actors and a room to shoot in, and she’ll be able to make a good movie. It stands to reason, then, that her next project could be the biggest thing she’s ever done, because Deadline is reporting that it’s close to landing a trio of high profile and extremely talented actors. Anne Hathaway, Chloe Moretz, and Sam Rockwell are all close to signing on for Laggies, which sees Hathaway playing an immature twenty-something who hides from her life for a week with her new teenage best friend (Moretz) after she’s spooked by a marriage proposal. Rockwell is reportedly up for the role of some old dude named Craig.

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House of Cards

The similar structure of their titles isn’t the only thing Game of Thrones and the new Netflix series House of Cards have in common. The first is set in a brutal Medieval-style fantasy world, and the second is set in present-day Washington, DC, but the scheming and lustful grabs at power are pulsing wildly at the heart of each. Of course they have their differences as well. Since Cards focuses on House Majority Whip Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), it’s maybe more exact to call it a version of Game of Thrones told almost explicitly through Tywin Lannister’s point of view. The congressman is aggressive and shrewd in his search to become President, but as the complete 13-episode season of the show (or 13-hour movie-you-have-to-keep-pressing-play-to-see) proves, there are other combatants willing to protect their interests just as fiercely and just as intelligently.

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Deadfall

Deadfall is a prime example of a film losing steam too quickly, making it an exceedingly weak and limp effort from The Counterfeiters director Stefan Ruzowitzky. What starts off as a promising, chilly crime yarn turns out to be another generic thriller, always hitting the beats we expect. The structure is in place to make for a decent B-movie, but Ruzowitzky deflates almost every scene with standard, by-the-book flat filmmaking. How formulaic is it? This formulaic: Jay (Charlie Hunnam) has just been released from prison. Don’t worry, though, he’s really a (mildly) innocent man. He also isn’t your “average criminal,” because most criminals don’t happen to be former Olympian boxers. Who live by the border of Canada. Who get tangled up in some bad (read: nearly wacky) situations. It’s  just a real shame for Jay that two casino-robbing siblings, Addison (Eric Bana) and Liz (Olivia Wilde), attempt to take advantage of him and his family on Thanksgiving. Their plan heats up, though, once Liza and Jay start to feel something for one another. Obviously, nothing new going on there. What is missing to make it work is any sense of investment from Ruzowitzky. He takes joy in constructing some of the film’s action, but when it comes to Hunnam’s character, his dopey love story, and his conflict with his parents, Ruzowitzky appears more bored with it all than we are.

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10 Years Review

The high school reunion film genre has been so flooded with entries that it’s reached the point of being nothing short of played out, so any new entry needs to justify its existence by offering some kind of unique spin on the usual, or at least by featuring characters that transcend the normal archetypes. Writer-director Jamie Linden fails on both counts in his 10 Years and seems to think that the film’s all-star cast compensates for those deficiencies. It doesn’t. No matter how much you love Channing Tatum, Aubrey Plaza, Anthony Mackie, Chris Pratt, Ari Graynor, or any of the other notables who turn up here, there’s no getting around the simple, basic fact that Linden’s movie doesn’t tell a story. It merely brings to life the world’s least interesting reunion, featuring a swath of staggering dullards played by talented people.

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10 Years Trailer

The high school reunion comedy is a sub-genre that’s ripe with drama and conflict. You’ve got the lost loves, the old rivalries, the people who have improved their stations in life butting up against those who have been taken down a peg, the people who have refused to grow up interacting with those that have gotten completely lame, and probably a handful of other familiar tropes that always seem to pop up. But that means that the high school reunion comedy is also a sub-genre that’s ripe with cliché, because, let’s face it, every single movie that falls into it always covers these exact same things. What’s the secret of making a good one then, if there isn’t much room for being unique? Probably making sure that the familiar material is at least infused with wit, and getting a talented cast to deliver it. Just from the trailer for 10 Years, it’s clear that this movie has the latter part of that equation taken care of. Just look at the names in this cast: Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Oscar Isaac, Justin Long, Ron Livingston, Kate Mara, Ari Graynor, etc… Whether this movie feels a little familiar or not, with a cast like that there’s guaranteed to be something in there worth watching.

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Happythankyoumoreplease unfolds in familiarly quirky, coming-of-age indie territory. Yet, despite its propensity for clichés and occasionally sappy tone, as exemplified by the film’s tagline – “go get yourself loved” – there’s an uncomfortable honesty at the heart of writer-director-star Josh Radnor’s first behind-the-camera effort. Somehow, the manifold plot devices (alopecia, photography, a cute foster kid) never detract from the picture’s winning evocation of the peculiar status of life spent as a struggling twenty-something, barely afloat in New York City. Radnor’s script is well-attuned to the lonely disorientation of being young and less than wealthy in the increasingly gentrified, high-end Big Apple and the daunting soul-searching that comes with the realization that maybe you were never meant to make it.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on a wizard’s robe, wears a colorful scarf and dances around in the woods with his magic wand yelling, “Stupify!” And that’s just to celebrate the release of Fair Game in his home town. He also takes a look at this little independent film that few people have even heard of, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. Sadly, a bizarre mishap with his wizarding skills causes a boulder to fall on his hand and pin him for 93 minutes, which was actually quite fortunate because it gave him just enough time to watch 127 Hours.

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Future filmmakers, if there’s one thing that your quirky indie comedy will need to have any shot at success beyond the snowy streets of Sundance, it is charm.

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theopenroadtimberlake

The comedy/drama starring Justin Timberlake and Jeff Bridges will actually see the light of day and the light of the projector late in the summer after wandering the indie wilderness for a year.

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kate-mara-1

Two new cast members sign on to Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau twitters from the set and wait, did we miss the fact that one of our favorite guys from AMC’s Mad Men is playing Tony Stark’s father?

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Emily Mortimer in Transsiberian

The Machinist director Brad Anderson spins a web of deception in this intense drama about traveling abroad.

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