Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Marvel reveals entire "Phase 3" slate; "Black Panther", "Captain America: Civil War", two-part "Avengers: Infinity War" among films announced

I'm speechless. When I heard that there was a top-secret Marvel announcement today, I figured that Marvel would officially announce the Civil War storyline, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and maybe a few directors. I hoped that Spider-Man was involved, but I knew that was unlikely. However, even in my wildest dreams, I couldn't have imagined that Marvel would reveal their ENTIRE Phase 3 slate. But that's what happened, so let's break it down. This account of the events at the Marvel panel is from Latino Review insider Umberto Gonzalez (aka El Mayimbe) and Collider editor Steven Weintraub.

Marvel started the panel with the official trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which received a rapturous response after it debuted last week. Studio head Kevin Feige then delved right into the slate for Phase 3. The first announcement was that the third film in the Captain America franchise, titled Captain America: Serpent Society, would hit theaters on May 6, 2016. We pretty much knew that was happening already, so the only big news was the title.

After that, Marvel moved on to Doctor Strange, which will hit theaters on November 4, 2016. Scott Derrickson will direct the film. However, we don't yet know who's starring in the film, despite the supposed confirmation from multiple sources that Benedict Cumberbatch would be playing Stephen Strange in the film. Looks like that hasn't been made official yet.

Marvel then shifted to 2017, where some things have changed. Feige  revealed that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will now debut a bit earlier in 2017. It was originally set to hit theaters on July 28, 2017, but it's been moved up to May 5, 2017. A better date for what will surely be one of the biggest upcoming Marvel flicks.

July 28, 2017 was the next available date on the list and that date will now see the release of Thor: Ragnarok with Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston. From what I can tell, Ragnarok is the Norse Apocalypse, which should make for an interesting story. The Thor franchise is the least interesting one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I'm glad that they've decided to do a big story to presumably close out the trilogy.

Black Panther was the next film to be announced and it generated a ton of excitement on the internet. The film will be released on November 4, 2017. After that, Marvel revealed that Captain Marvel will debut on July 6, 2018 with Carol Danvers as the lead character. Captain Marvel will be Marvel's first female superhero solo flick so it's definitely something to get pumped for. Finally, Marvel revealed that Inhumans, another intergalactic team-up movie, will debut on November 2, 2018.

But that's not all. Feige then revealed that Avengers 3 will be titled Avengers: Infinity War and will be released in two parts. Infinity War Part 1 will hit theaters on May 4, 2018 and Part 2 will debut on May 3, 2018. However, Feige didn't even stop there. Marvel proceeded to announce that Get on Up and 42 star Chadwick Boseman will play Black Panther.

Some fans were disappointed when Marvel announced earlier in the panel that Captain America 3 was going to be entitled Serpent Society. That changed towards the end of the panel when Feige announced that the real title was Civil War. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans joined Feige on stage along with Chadwick Boseman.

That was the main bulk of the news today, but some more interesting tidbits were revealed in the Q and A with Feige afterwards. Here are some of the main points that Weintraub and Mayimbe made in tweets during the Q and A session.

-"We will see Black Panther in costume for the first time in Cap 3 Civil War."- Weintraub
-"Feige says Hulk will appear in all the Avengers movies and a solo film is still a "we'll see""- Weintraub
-"Black Panther will be a big part of Civil War."- Mayimbe
-"Spider-Man is just a rumor per Feige."- Mayimbe
-"Black Widow is going to be featured in the Avengers movies and not solo movies."- Weintraub
-"Feige says Civil War is not about secret identities and more about who do superheroes report to."- Weintraub
-"Feige says anything not revealed today is just a rumor till its worked out."- Weintraub

Weintraub also discussed how Inhumans Easter eggs are coming soon and that Feige is meeting with Reggie Hudlin soon for Panther. All in all, some very exciting stuff is coming.

Look for more reaction from me later. This is just too much to process right now.

Image Credits: Marvel Movies Wikia, Ryan Penagos, Rope of Silicon, Screen Rant, Marvel

After the reveal of 'Interstellar', where does the Best Picture race stand?

The fall movie season started a while ago, but the Oscar race is finally heating up. Most of the major awards players have premiered, and some movies can definitely be eliminated from competition at this point. However, big movies like Unbroken, Big Eyes, American Sniper, The Gambler, Exodus and A Most Violent Year still need to debut. However, one of the big ones debuted yesterday: Interstellar. It definitely stirred the Oscar race up. Here are my current Best Picture predictions with additional analysis about the state of the race.


1. Birdman
2. Boyhood
3. Interstellar
4. Gone Girl
5. Unbroken
6. Foxcatcher
7. The Imitation Game
8. The Theory of Everything
9. Whiplash
10. American Sniper

Until yesterday, I was certain that Interstellar would be our Best Picture winner. I had heard nothing but spectacular things and the talent involved was too much to pass up. But then the reviews hit. I was blindsided yesterday when the first official reviews for Interstellar debuted and were decidedly mixed. Some praised the film (Variety, Time Out), some lambasted it (The Playlist), but most fell somewhere it in the middle, calling it a good film that just isn't perfect. The film is sitting at 69% on Rotten Tomatoes and 77 on Metacritic. Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but not stellar (pun intended) either. This doesn't mean that Interstellar isn't going to win Best Picture. It just means that it isn't the hands-down favorite anymore.

Before I delve into the top ten, let's talk about some of the films that I don't have nominated. Fury was a question mark going into the month of October, and having seen the film, I think it's still a question mark. It's an odd little film and it doesn't seem like one that is tailored towards the Academy. I also took A Most Violent Year and Inherent Vice out of my top ten. A Most Violent Year could definitely surprise, but at this point, it looks too small to crack the final ten. And Inherent Vice is apparently just plain weird. Reviews have been good, but it don't see it making the cut. 

So where does that leave us? Certain films we know will be nominated. The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game will be Best Picture nominees. They're too generic to win, but they're well-liked and feature performances that will be nominated in many acting categories. American Sniper also had a terrific trailer, but which Clint Eastwood will we see? The one who made Million Dollar Baby or the one who made Jersey Boys? It's in my top ten for now, but I feel like this is one to be hesitant about. Whiplash feels like a movie that could sneak in to the final ten as well. It's a beloved film and J.K. Simmons could definitely win Best Suppoting Actor. It's just not a movie that's going to win. Same can be said for Gone Girl and Foxcatcher. Gone Girl is one of the best movies of the last several years, yet I don't see it having a chance at the win. Foxcatcher is another film that is highly admired, but also very dark. 

That leaves us with Unbroken, Interstellar, Boyhood, and Birdman. Unbroken is the one unknown quantity in this group. However, I dare you to watch that trailer and not immediately think of awards glory for this film. This movie practically screams Oscar contender. It definitely is not a film to sleep on. Boyhood is another film that I believe will be in the race until the very end. It's an incredibly ambitious film and I refuse to believe that the academy will not want to award director Richard Linklater in one way or another. I've already discussed Interstellar in great detail, but I'll wrap it up by saying that we can't count this one out until the very end. 

Right now, I have Birdman winning Best Picture. I've heard some pundits discuss how odd of a film it is, but it has so much going for it. For one, Fox Searchlight is great at promoting these movies. They led 12 Years A Slave to victory last year and I think that they can do the same with Birdman. Box office has also been huge and reviews have been spectacular. Not to mention the fact that it's a Hollywood movie and the Academy loves those. It's not a surefire thing, but right now, Birdman is my pick. 

Image Credits: Hollywood Reporter, New York Post, Moviefone, Coming Soon

Monday, October 27, 2014

'Ouija' and 'John Wick' lead middling weekend at the box office

A new horror film and a well reviewed R-rated action flick hit theaters this weekend with both seeing solid results. Universal's Ouija, the microbudget horror film from Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions, debuted in first place with $20 million. That's a solid result for the low budget flick, but it is nowhere near the numbers that Annabelle reached earlier this month. With the PG-13 rating and the built in audience, Ouija should have done much better. Reviews certainly didn't help (10% on Rotten Tomatoes) and word of mouth will be awful (the film got a "C" Cinemascore). However, this movie practically cost nothing, so it will turn a profit in the end. 

In second place was John Wick, the new Keanu Reeves action flick. The film pulled in $14.1 million this weekend, which certainly isn't awful. But with reviews hanging around 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, I can't help but feel that this movie should have done better. The "B" Cinemascore is solid, but indicates that audiences were expecting more. In the end, this is another movie that couldn't have cost much, so a $14 million debut is nothing to sneer at. 

Sony's World War II drama Fury fell only 45% to third place and grabbed $13 million. Fury has now made $46 million and will likely hang around for the next few weeks. It hasn't held as well as Gone Girl, but it could hang around and gross as much as $80 million. Speaking of Gone Girl, David Fincher's psychological thriller finished in fourth place with $11.1 million. The R-rated drama has now grossed $124 million and is one of the year's biggest hits. A finish around $150 million is to be expected. 

The Book of Life also held spectacularly well, Fox's animated comedy dropped only 42% and pulled in $9.8 million in fifth place. The film, which is budgeted at $50 million, has now made $29.9 million. It's going to need some really good international grosses to end up in the black. In sixth place was St. Vincent, one of the most pleasant surprises of the weekend. The dramedy, which stars comedian superstar Bill Murray, pulled in $8 million in just over 2,000 theaters. The film also received an "A-" Cinemascore, which is quite impressive. This movie should do pretty well over the next few weeks. 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day finished in seventh place with $7 million. The family comedy has now grossed $45.5 million on a $28 million budget. Not too shabby at all. The Best of Me took a steep 53% plunge to eighth place and grabbed $4.7 million. The poorly reviewed romantic drama has now made $17.6 million. 

The Judge finished in ninth place with $4.3 million this weekend. The mediocre drama has now made $34.3 million, which is not good considering the $50 million budget (I'm curious to see where that money went). And finally, Dracula Untold rounded out the top ten with $4.3 million. The film has now grossed $48.3 million in the US (the film has done much better internationally). 

In the limited release world, Birdman continued to impress with $1.4 million in 50 theaters. It expands further next weekend. And Citizenfour, the Edward Snowden documentary, grossed $125,000 in five theaters. 

Next weekend sees the expansion of Birdman and the release of Nightcrawler and Before I Go To Sleep. Here are my predictions:

1. Nightcrawler- $16 million
2. John Wick- $9.5 million
3. Fury- $8.6 million
4. Gone Girl- $8 million
5. Ouija- $7.5 million
6. The Book of Life- $7 million
7. Birdman- $6.9 million
8. St. Vincent- $5.7 million
9. Before I Go To Sleep- $5 million
10. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day- $4.5 million

Image Credits: Reel Entropy, Screen Rant

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Marvel debuts spectacular trailer for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

Marvel has pretty much entirely taken over the entire cinematic world over the course of the three years since The Avengers destroyed at the box office. Iron Man 3 made over $1 billion, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World grossed more than their predecessors at the box office and Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel's biggest gamble yet, became the highest grossing film of 2014. So it is certain that Avengers: Age of Ultron will come with highly inflated expectations and insane anticipation. The first trailer was supposed to debut on October 28 with Marvel's ABC show Agents of SHIELD. However, the trailer leaked online last night and Marvel decided to bite the bullet and release the trailer. Check it out below:

Avengers: Age of Ultron looks pretty freaking awesome. The trailer hints at more of the grounded action that we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and less of the comedy that we saw in some of the earlier Marvel flicks. Ultron also appears to be a formidable and creepy antagonist and the special effects look terrific as usual. I'm very excited for this movie and I can't wait to see what Marvel has in store for us. Avengers: Age of Ultron stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Bettany, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Serkis, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Altwell, Stellan Skarsgard and Don Cheadle. It hits theaters on May 1, 2015.

Image Credit: Marvel

Fury review

The last time Brad Pitt did a World War II movie, it was Inglorious Basterds. The last time David Ayer did a film about brothers in intense combat, it was End of Watch. Naturally, people were excited for Fury, Ayer's gritty, violent war drama set during the final months of World War II. With a cast led by Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena, Logan Lerman and Jon Bernthal, Fury is a highly entertaining drama with great performances and some of the most exhilarating battle scenes of the year. It does wander in the middle a little bit, but the pure filmmaking on display in Fury is worth the price of admission and more.

A man rides on a horse through a battleground littered with bodies. The white horse stands out among the dead bodies and shattered tanks. Suddenly, a man jumps off a tank and the man straight through the eye. The man with the knife is Sgt. Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Pitt), one of the last members of a five-man Sherman tank crew. Wardaddy, Bible (LaBeouf), Gordo (Pena) and Coon-Ass (Bernthal) manage to get the tank moving and head back to a war camp. A fresh young rookie named Norman Ellison (Lerman) is then assigned to their crew. Norman has strong ideals and is highly opposed to killing. Of course the team immediately dislikes him. However, through many lethal experiences and dangerous missions behind enemy lines, the crew bonds together before facing their most dangerous threat yet.

Fury might not quite be as viscerally graphic as Steven Spielberg's masterpiece Saving Private Ryan, but it is certainly up there with that gruesome film. This is a viciously intense film filled with indescribably perfect moments and strong performances from its lead crew. They all have strong chemistry with each other and manage to make you care about the characters. Not to mention the absolutely astounding battle scenes. Fury has a few problems, yet still manages to impress because of its outstanding filmmaking qualities.

The opening scene of Fury is something worth talking about because it wowed me immediately. Ayer's camera appears to be looking at a mountain range, but it's actually a patch of dirt littered with bodies. The way that it so perfectly captures the horror and oddity of war is mesmerizing. The simple beauty is then interrupted by the shocking outburst of violence I mentioned earlier. After that, we're then introduced to the entire tank crew. It's the perfect way to open this movie and simply one of the best opening scenes I've ever witnessed.

Fury's opening represents the best of this film and the pinnacle of what Ayer was trying to do with this movie. It's not to say that it's all downhill from there, but the opening perfectly expresses Ayer's themes and the power of this film. War is quiet dialogue and simple, unusual conversations with surprisingly disturbing violence intermixed every once in a while. Despite the fact that Fury is not a completely perfect film, it's an exceedingly well made one and a film that inspires thought even days after the initial viewing.

Five strong performances also highlight this thematically and emotionally involving war film. Brad Pitt doesn't quite have the same brash gusto that he does in Inglourious Basterds, yet he still manages to give a quietly thoughtful performance. Shia LaBeouf is also impressive as Bible, the most philosophical member of the group. Despite the fact Jon Bernthal and Michael Pena have less to do, both manage to chew the scenery at different times. In the end, Logan Lerman surprised me the most. Granted, he's the only one with a dynamic character to work with, but it's still strong work.

The sheer adrenaline rush of the battle scenes is terrific as well, managing to find the proper balance between horror and excitement. The crew's final stand inside the broken tank is an amazing war scene, a perfect mix of blood, atmospheric cinematography and brilliant sound design. And throughout the early parts of the film, there are other impressive battles, especially the one between a German Panzer tank and the Sherman. It is purely awesome.

On the technical side of things, this is a perfect film. The sound design was insanely good, and even if this film gets shut out in the major categories at the Oscars, it will surely be nominated for a lot of the technical stuff. The sound makes you feel as if you're really there and it is spectacular. The cinematography is perfect, capturing every single detail of the World War II atmosphere. It's especially impressive during the final battle of the film.

Fury runs into its only problem around the middle of the film. It's a movie without much of a narrative, which has worked in many previous war films, but in the case of Fury, it makes the film feel a little aimless after a while. The second act is also dreadfully slow. The crew heads into the house of a German family and then proceeds to stay there for over twenty minutes. It's a long scene without much purpose and it doesn't really impact anything for the rest of the film. I remember hearing that some scenes were added to Fury to strengthen the bond between the characters, and if I had to guess, that was the scene that was added.

In the end, this is great filmmaking from director David Ayer in a very solid flick. It's a movie filled with extraordinary battle scenes and strong acting. Fury lost me a little bit in the second act, but managed to come back stronger than ever with an intense and emotional third act highlighted by an awesome and intense battle scene. In all likelihood, Fury is a movie that will last in your memory for quite some time after you watching it. That, along with the strong direction and sense of atmosphere, makes Fury worth watching.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                             (7.6/10)

Image Credits: Red Carpet Refs, Shock Ya, Geek Tyrant, Film School Rejects, Fat Movie Guy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

'The Conjuring 2' moves to 2016; new horror film from New Line to hit theaters on October 23, 2015 instead

After the massive success of The Conjuring last year, Warner Bros. and New Line immediately realized that they had a new franchise on their hands. They greenlit a spin-off movie titled Annabelle, which would star the creepy doll that appeared in the first few minutes of The Conjuring. That movie was released earlier this month and has made $166 million worldwide so far on a paltry $6.5 million budget. All of the signs were pointing to The Conjuring 2 being one of the biggest horror movies of all time. However, that is most certainly not going to happen now. 

Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. and New Line have pushed The Conjuring 2 back to an unspecified 2016 release date. The studios will now release a different horror movie on October 23, 2015, which was when The Conjuring 2 was scheduled to debut. The rumor over at Deadline is that the October 23 date will be occupied by either Crawlspace or Superstition. Crawlspace stars Michael Vartan and is about a widower who moves into his new house with his new wife and daughter. Superstition is about a family who moves into a house where a witch was executed. Neither one sounds all that interesting to me. There is currently no word on when The Conjuring 2 will be released, but I'm betting on a summer 2016 release. 

Image Credits: USA Today, Screen Crush

DC announces several new films set for release between 2016 and 2020; 'Aquaman', 'Justice League' included

After the shocking bit of news that revealed Marvel's plan to pit Captain America against Iron Man in Captain America 3, which would effectively bring the Civil War storyline to life, Warner Bros. responded by announcing their plans for several DC comics films over the next few years. While most people knew that DC and Warner had these plans all along, this was the first time that we officially knew what was going down with the DC universe.

Unsurprisingly, director Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will kick things off on March 25, 2016. The mega-blockbuster will star Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Henry Cavill and Amy Adams will reprise their roles as Superman and Lois Lane, respectively. Dawn of Justice will obviously be the set up film for this whole universe and will be an important experiment for Warner Bros.

Dawn of Justice will be followed by Suicide Squad, which will hit theaters on August 5, 2016. The first screen adaptation of these characters will be directed by David Ayer, whose previous credits include End of Watch and Fury, which just hit theaters this weekend. Ayer is a talented director (Fury is a gritty, violent and engrossing war film) and I'm very interested in this film. I'm betting on a hard R rating at this point because of Ayer, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see this film get slapped with a studio-mandated PG-13.

Suicide Squad is a film without any well known characters, so DC is going to have to rely on big-name actors to fill these roles. And according to Collider, DC is going to be bringing some stars to the table. Per Collider, Warner Bros. is looking at casting Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Tom Hardy, and Ryan Gosling. Those are some big names and I truly believe that Warner will be able to snag some of those actors. Smith and Robbie just did work for the studio in their new romantic drama Focus, and they seem to really enjoy working with each other. There's also a decent chance that Gosling could appear. The only actor I have a problem with is Tom Hardy. He's a brilliant actor, but he's already rumored to be playing the lead villain in X-Men: Apocalypse. Therefore, he might not have time to do Suicide Squad. All in all, Warner Bros. is going to go all out when it comes to making this obscure superhero flick and I bet that they'll knock it out of the park.

But the news doesn't stop there. Warner Bros. also announced that Wonder Woman is getting a standalone movie as well, set for release on June 23, 2017. Gal Gadot will star and it will be the first major superhero movie starring a female. A very impressive step forward for the studio.

After that, DC will unveil Justice League Part 1, with Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Amy Adams with Zack Snyder in the director's chair. The film will debut on November 17, 2017. I would be more excited for this movie if Snyder wasn't directing, but I guess I'm still interested. If there's a good story and a good screenplay, it'll be fine. But right now, it's a question mark.

2018 will see the release of two more standalone DC movies. The first one hitting theaters that year is The Flash, which will hit theaters on March 23, 2018. The Perks of Being A Wallflower star Ezra Miller will be playing the character. That has sparked debate among fans who had hoped for the star of The Flash TV show (Grant Gustin) to appear as Barry Allen in the movie as well. However, Ezra Miller is a supremely talented actor and I'm very happy to hear that he is going to be in this movie. DC's second 2018 flick will be Aquaman, with Jason Momoa. The film will debut on July 27, 2018. I'm actually really excited for this one. I just love the idea of an Aquaman movie.

Two more films will hit theaters in 2019: one standalone film and one major sequel. Shazam will premiere first on April 5, 2019, with Dwayne Johnson starring as Black Adam. Shazam is another movie that I'm excited for, but I'm honestly surprised that Shazam is coming out in 2019. I would have thought that this movie was much farther along than Wonder Woman or Suicide Squad. However, Johnson is often busy so maybe he can only fit the movie in near the end of the decade. Finally, DC will close out their 2019 with Justice League Part 2 on June 14, 2019 with Snyder directing again.

After that, DC will release two more standalone origin films in 2020. Cyborg, starring unknown actor Ray Fisher, will hit theaters first on April 3, 2020. Last time I checked, Fisher will also be appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, so I'm surprised that they're waiting so long to give him his origin story. And finally, DC will release a Green Lantern reboot on June 19, 2020. No real news on that one so far.

There's no question that this news was revealed in response to the surprise announcement that Marvel was finally moving forward on the Civil War storyline. I'm optimistic about a few of these movies, but I really hope that DC isn't planning too far out. In 2008, Marvel might have had plans for more films, but they surely didn't announce all of them. In the end, I'm excited to see how the DC Cinematic Universe plays out, but I'm undoubtedly more excited for Marvel's next movies. Marvel still has the upper hand right now.

That's all the DC news that I have at this moment, but I'm positive that we will be hearing much more about the DC Cinematic Universe in the near future.

Source: Collider, The Hollywood Reporter
Image Credits: Variety, DC Comics, Screen Rant, Grant Land