THE #1 INDEPENDENT MOVIE BLOG IN YOUR HEARTS

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Trio

Paramount Pictures/MGM

Nobody will ever have the balls to remake Back to the Future or The Terminator. They are the untouchable time travel classics. And without them we couldn’t have a movie like Hot Tub Time Machine, which paid it all back in homage in ways that wouldn’t make a lot of sense for people unfamiliar with those earlier cultural staples (and who’d just be confused now if there were multiples of them). Not a whole lot about the 2010 comedy mirrors BTTF, yet the ending has a similar, albeit more extreme, case of the present being altered for the better thanks to changes made via a trip to the past. The movie concludes with a brilliant joke: Rob Corddry‘s character has used his knowledge of the future (present) to invent Google before Google (he calls it “Lou-gle”).

Sorry to spoil that for anyone who hasn’t seen the first HTTM already, but them’s the breaks when sequels happen — they tend to lead off from the ending of the original.

It’s like The Terminator. You can’t not know how it ends if you know anything about Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Of course, back then you had seven years to catch up. This time you only have only four, as Hot Tub Time Machine 2 hits theaters this Christmas. The sequel continues to follow in the footsteps of the BTTF series. Back to the Future Part II didn’t need to happen, but it did happen, and it also kind of elaborated on a joke that concluded the original. And also like BTTF2, HTTM2 changes direction to go forward in time. However, judging by the first red band trailer, out of Comic-Con, HTTM2 still follows in its own franchise footsteps, too, by featuring a lot of humorous cursing and a lot of boobs.

Watch the NSFW spot below. 

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review kill team

Editor’s note: This is a rerun of a review that was originally published during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

The Kill Team is the most daring documentary of the year so far. The production did not involve traversing the Pacific Ocean on a raft or dodging government censors, but filmmaker Dan Krauss’s military exposé is not that kind of audacious. Rather, this is an example of real journalistic bravery, both in its content and its composition. Its subject matter is among the most challenging in recent memory, the case of the Maywand District murders. At least three innocent Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. Army soldiers in early 2010, to be charged later that year. To even bring this story to the screen takes a certain amount of chutzpah.

Yet the daring of The Kill Team goes beyond the simple presentation of this tragedy. Krauss hides nothing, nor does he get lost in horrifying images and testimonials. This is not a film about the sensational aspects of evil, the unapproachable sociopathy of a small number of soldiers. Rather, Krauss drives right into the ethical conundrum at the center of the murders, the inherent violence of not only the war in Afghanistan but of modern warfare in general. He doesn’t offer any answers. This is crucial. The Kill Team respects its audience, trusting us to rise to the occasion of witnessing these events, but it does not tell us which conclusions to draw.

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Shazam

DC Comics

Will he play the titular Shazam or will he play the nemesis Black Adam? That seems to be the question of the day for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is either giving the world insight about an upcoming DC superhero role via his Twitter account or trolling everyone during the week of Comic-Con. It would be a nice, albeit cruel ruse to continue to talk about a big superhero reveal while Comic-Con is raging, especially on a weekend when you’re big tentpole Hercules hits theaters.

We will likely know much more tomorrow afternoon when Warner Bros. takes the stage in San Diego to lay out their plans for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and beyond, but for now we’ve got these tweets from The Rock himself.

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Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios

Updated: New posters are being released throughout the weekend. As they become available and form a larger poster, we’ll update this page.

One of the studios expected to take this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con by storm, as they have in years past, is Marvel Studios. While other studios seem to be avoiding the convention and its droves of buzz-spreading fans — namely 20th Century Fox not bringing Fantastic Four or any new X-Men news — Marvel is doubling down on the place that seemingly launched its success (see: Iron Man in 2007). This year their big panel is the crown jewel of Comic-Con’s Saturday programming, but that won’t stop them from starting early. As they did for The Avengers, they have begun releasing character posters for Avengers: Age of Ultron that will probably all fit together nicely as one big spread. First up: Iron Man, Black Widow, Scarlett Witch, Captain America and a lot of Ultrons. A lot of Ultrons.

There’s also a very cool Ant-Man poster, in case multiple Avengers isn’t enough for you.

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Winchester House

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, 571113

If there’s one thing that little old ladies with way too much money and time on their hands are good for, it’s eccentricity. Such is the case with a one Mrs. Sarah Winchester, the widow of Mr. William Wirt Winchester. She was heiress to the massive Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the creator of the legendary Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. The story behind the sprawling, misshapen and believed-to-be-haunted mansion is just as fascinating as a peek inside its endless corridors and doors that lead to nowhere. And now, according to Variety, the Spierig Brothers (Predestination) are taking the whole tale to the big screen with Winchester.

After the premature deaths of her infant daughter (to marasmus in 1866) and her husband (to tuberculosis in 1881), Sarah Winchester sought the guidance of a spiritualist, who gave her some rather unconventional advice. Her misfortune was being caused by the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles — Native Americans, Civil War soldiers and anyone else who caught the misfortune of stepping in front of the barrel of their brand of gun. The only way that Sarah could escape the same fate as her baby and husband was to flee the East Coast for California and continuously build a home for herself to appease these malevolent spirits. As long as she kept building the great house, she would never die.

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SpongeBob SquarePants movie

Paramount Pictures

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! Absorbant and yellow and porous is he! SpongeBob SquarePants! Who is going to haunt your nightmares until the end of time? SpongeBob SquarePants!

If you’re familiar with SpongeBob SquarePants the television show, you already know what happens when SpongeBob is out of the sea. No, he doesn’t turn into one of these dudes, he’s just a yellow kitchen sponge. It’s a solid sight gag, and also just weird enough to make both kids and parents laugh. Fine, yes, it’s also kind of disturbing, but it’s disturbing in all the right ways. This, however, is just terrifying. SpongeBob is now bound for the big screen with the 2015 feature, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and our very first look at the new film bowed at Comic-Con yesterday. Good luck with the sleeping.

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Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) and his band of mercenaries have been summoned by Cotys, the King of Thrace (John Hurt), as he’s in a bad way and under threat from a head-chopping despot named Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann). Yet Thrace has no army, and Rhesus’s extremely substantial forces won’t stop until every last Thracian neck has a blade in it or a chain around it. Is Hercules man (or demigod) enough to train an army and save Thrace from the grip of totalitarian power?

Why are we even asking — this is Hercules! Slayer of the Nemean Lion! Decapitator of the Hydra! No doubt you’ve heard of him, if not from his many tales of valor, then from the onslaught of ads that have been pimping Johnson in lionskin for weeks.

Except Hercules battles through all those labors (and all that CGI beast footage) in about two minutes in an opening montage/summary of the hero’s most famous deeds. Then, with a tasteful spear-up-the-butt joke, the film sweeps them all aside, revealing that everything we thought we knew about Hercules was just a sham. This Hercules is not a demigod; just a man with a knack for misdirection. He’ll come away the victor in a 40-0n-1 duel… with plentiful assistance from his Greek variant on the Merry Men, lurking just out of sight. He’ll slay a man with a single punch… due to the arrowhead he’s secreted away between his knuckles.

This is con man Hercules, a soldier of fortune with no noticeable godliness (a concept that comes from the comic, Steve Moore‘s “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” which Hercules is based off of). It’s a clever conceit, just one that’s wrapped in, at times, kind of a dumb movie.

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Fantasia 2014

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here.

The Daybreakers are a group of five men whose rap sheets include murder, armed robbery, assault and worse, but after trying their hand at kidnapping a three year old boy only to see the ransom drop go bust they decide to add something new to their repertoire — fatherhood. They raise the boy, now named Hwayi (Yeo Jin-gu), as their own. It’s a harsh childhood as five sociopathic fathers is no replacement for the love of a real parent, but he learns kindness and affection from his surrogate mother, Yeong-joo (Lim Ji-eun), who’s also a long-term captive of the men.

Hwayi is raised to fear and respect his fathers, but they’re also capable of bonding with the boy in an attempt to shape him into one of them. Over the years they teach him their various specialties until finally, twelve years after stealing him from his parents, they take him on a job and pressure him to make his first kill. Already affected by being forced to murder someone, Hwayi is thrown for a far bigger loop when he discovers the identity of the victim and the details of his own existence.

Hwayi: A Monster Boy is a rare example — and I don’t say this lightly — of nearly perfect genre cinema. Writer/director Jang Joon-hwan‘s long-awaited follow-up to 2003′s Save the Green Planet is a deft and bloody melange of action, suspense, comedy, heart, drama and humanity that refuses to let your attention wander. (For the record, I also don’t use the word “melange” lightly either.)

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Sony Pictures Classics

Sony Pictures Classics

Since time immemorial Woody Allen has been entranced by the art of illusions. A proponent of magic tricks as a child, Allen’s affinity for legerdemain has manifested itself throughout his filmography — most notable in his surreal homage to Federico Fellini, Stardust Memories. Now with Magic in the Moonlight the nebbish New Yorker has pulled off yet another impressive act of prestidigitation: making a jubilant and delightful trifle that — much like many of his other 44 films — ponders the rhyme and reason of our existence, however futile or fruitful that may be.

To Stanley (Colin Firth) our existence is meaningless. In order to remain comfortable in that unrepentantly bleak worldview, he’s made a career out of exposing pseudo spiritualists — opportunistic swindlers who dupe people into believing they possess divine powers bestowed to them by some omniscient deity. The Englishman’s latest assignment is to debunk the mythical Sophie (Emma Stone), a young American woman who has convinced everyone around her that she’s, as one character exclaims, “a visionary and a vision.”

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THE RUN

Fantasia 2014

Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here.

Khaliff (Aaron Aziz) has returned to his home village after seven years away with the military. It’s no pleasant homecoming though as he arrives after his father is murdered by a group of thugs and his sister has been kidnapped. What’s an angry young man with elite military training to do?

He begins investigating both crimes — a step the local authorities seem unwilling to take — and discovers a world of small town corruption, organized crime and sex slavery. With the help of a peppy cab driver and the woman Khaliff loved and left behind seven years ago he goes looking for his sister with both fists (and feet) flying.

It’s never a good sign when you watch an action movie and think to yourself, with no exaggeration, “I could do that.” This is especially the case if you’re a movie blogger. The new Malaysian film, The Run (aka Lari), is just such an example though as it’s an action film with utterly unimpressive action. This leaves a familiar and simple plot to hold the movie up, but the execution there is equally inept.

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Miles Teller and JK Simmons in Whiplash

Sony Pictures Classics

Do you miss the days when J.K. Simmons was a sadistic, sociopath prison rapist? Nowadays, he’s not so much into the dangerous manipulation and sex abuse – not when there’s a steady line of cop, military and general “authority figure” roles that let Simmons speak to us with his particular manner of sarcastic wisdom.

But all those lectures on what we don’t know about our insurance have gotten a little stale. It’s time for Simmons to reclaim his rightful place on the “please stop screaming at me, sir” throne. He’ll do so with Whiplash, this year’s Sundance darling that stars Miles Teller as a young jazz drummer who just wants to make it big, man, and Simmons as the big man who will guide Teller to his dreams of being the next Buddy Rich.

Oh, and Simmons’ preferred method of musical instruction is screaming so close to your face that his saliva strands brush your eyelashes.

That’s the twist with Whiplash. Unlike most films where a character is super good at playing some kind of instrument, music isn’t the all-enlightening force that will right our hero’s wrongs and provide that outlet for creative expression that lets us know how deep and yet also flawed he is. Here, music is a platform for the scary bald man to beat you, then threaten much worse: he’ll “gut you like a pig” if all drumming is not perfect from now until the sweet release of death.

Watch the new trailer for the movie below.

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Harry Treadaway and Rose Leslie in Honeymoon

Magnet Releasing

Newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway of Penny Dreadful) and Bea (Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones) have had it up to here with your conventional wedding behavior and are taking a honeymoon off the beaten path. Keep your lush white sand beaches and ice cold tropical drinks with their tiny whimsical umbrellas that magically get refilled by a kindly bartender, okay? They’re not interested. They’re heading off to a decrepit cabin in the spooky, spooky woods for some quality one on one time in order to relax and not get turned into zombies, thank you very much.

Honeymoon, directed by Leigh Janiak and written by Janiak and Phil Graziadei, seems to follow a familiar path for young lovers on vacation in a secluded location. They’re about to face certain and treacherous peril, and there’s not a lot that they can do about it – if the first trailer for the film is any indication. As any good horror movie lets you know, if you’re attractive, horny and out in the woods, the forces of evil are going to be knocking on that cabin door in about five minutes looking to harsh your mellow. Hope you can get your security deposit back on the rental cottage, kids. Or at least see the silver lining in all this and tell the folks back home about the bitchin’ summer you had with your sweetheart amongst the trees? 

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Pixes vs King of Kong

Columbia Pictures/New Line

One of our favorite documentaries of all time here at FSR, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters debuted back in January 2007 at the Slamdance Film Festival. Before it even released in theaters that August it had become an enormous cult sensation, particularly with people who aren’t normally into nonfiction films. Also before it even opened, director Seth Gordon was recruited by New Line (who also distributed the doc) to remake the feature, presumably to share the goofy story of rival arcade game champions with a much broader audience that wouldn’t ever, ever watch a doc, no matter how entertaining. It’s totally unnecessary, and those doc-despisers don’t deserve this story if that’s how they’re gonna be, but that’s Hollywood for you.

As with most plans to redo docs as dramatic or “narrative” films, though, this one has been taking its sweet time — and doesn’t seem like it’ll ever really happen. Gordon was given other offers from New Line in the meantime to direct other big Hollywood movies such as Four Christmases, and he’s since been attached to a bazillion other projects. Yet over the years, he’s consistently confirmed that a King of Kong remake is still going forward, with minor details revealed that it could actually be more like a sequel and that it will be shot mockumentary style. And according to IMDbPro, following a couple years of unknown status, the project is now listed back in the script stage as of April 21st.

But the more we see of Adam Sandler‘s upcoming alien invasion comedy, Pixels, for which Gordon is an executive producer, the more we’re assured that it’s going to be the final nail on the coffin for New Line’s attempt at a second King of Kong movie. The first footage from Pixels, a remake of the hit 2010 short, will likely be revealed this week at Comic-Con, but a few images of Peter Dinklage‘s cocky character have already been released ahead of the event’s official start, and boy if he doesn’t look absolutely modeled after King of Kong‘s Billy Mitchell. See a full still via Entertainment Weekly and a very brief clip at the end of a tour of the SDCC Pixels-branded arcade via Slashfilm below.

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