Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jamie Foxx to play Mike Tyson in biopic written by 'Wolf of Wall Street' scribe Terence Winter

Even though the biopic that is hitting theaters this weekend was disappointing (Get on Up- a promising film that ends up being a scrambled mess), I still love the genre and there's almost nothing better than a great one. That's why I'm excited for this film. I had no idea that a Mike Tyson biopic was in development, but it appears that one is and it's got one heck of a production team behind it. Oscar nominated Terence Winter, who wrote The Wolf of Wall Street, is set to write the script for a film about the life of professional boxer Mike Tyson. It is currently not known which period of Tyson's life the film will tackle, but it will likely be very R-rated and will look at the many aspects of Tyson's personality. But wait- it gets better.

Variety is also reporting that Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx (Ray) will be playing Tyson in the biopic. Foxx's manager, Rick Yorn is producing the film. It currently doesn't have a distributor, but with Winter and Foxx already set, I doubt that it will be long before the film is with a major studio. This is very exciting news. I like Foxx as an actor and many love the script for Wolf of Wall Street. The pairing of Winter and Foxx could be fantastic and I bet that many Oscars could be in the cards for these guys. I'm excited to see it all play out. If it's too ambitious, it could be terrible, but I think that Winter and Foxx can keep it together. The Mike Tyson biopic will probably hit theaters in 2016.

Source: Variety

Comic-Con trailer for 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is a pure adrenaline rush

Comic-Con was pretty disappointing this year. DC announced zero new release dates and Marvel only confirmed that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will be hitting theaters in July 2017. However, the Legendary panel revealed that Skull Island is in development and that Godzilla 2 is coming with Gareth Edwards returning to direct. In addition to the impressive Legendary panel, several new trailers were revealed and have started to pop up online officially. One of the most exciting trailers that was posted online was the teaser for Mad Max: Fury Road, a new installment in the famous Mad Max franchise. Check out the Comic-Con trailer below:

This trailer is awesome. Fury Road looks like everything I could want from an action movie. For one, George Miller, who directed the original films, is returning to direct, so that's a huge plus. And the cast is splendid. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult- it doesn't get better than that. The practical action looks incredible as well and the special effects look spot on. This looks like a home run for Warner Bros. and I can't wait to see the final product. Mad Max: Fury Road will hit theaters on May 15, 2015.

Universal moves 'The Mummy' to June 2016, 'The Huntsman' to hit theaters on April 22, 2016

Universal just swapped the release dates of two of their biggest upcoming tentpoles and it looks like both are poised to be hits. The Mummy, the reboot of the famed horror franchise, was previously set to hit theaters on April 22, 2016, but will now debut two months later on June 24, 2016. The film, which is an action/adventure film with horror mixed in, is one of the big films in the upcoming Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe and will probably be one of the biggest hits of that summer. Alex Kurtzman is currently in negotiations to direct the film and it will probably be made official soon. The Mummy will debut two weeks after Uncharted, a very similar film, and one week before The BFG, Angry Birds (such a bad idea), Independence Day 2, and Tarzan. I'm looking forward to it.

Universal also made another move today that will certainly shake up the 2016 box office landscape. The Huntsman, a spin-off of 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman was currently set for a tentative 2016 release date, but it now will officially hit theaters on April 22, 2016. Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron will reprise their roles and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) is set to direct. I have to say, I'm not looking forward to this film. Snow White was a bad film, but I do think that Hemsworth is a great actor, so I'm excited to see what he can do in a starring role. And Frank Darabont is a talented director. However, I still just don't like these revisionist fairy tale movies. They're so boring.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

New trailer for Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar' will blow you away

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar is my most anticipated film for the rest of the year and I simply cannot wait until I get to see this film. Currently, there are rumors that this film will be playing at the New York Film Festival, but I just don't see that happening. The AFI Fest in early November is still a possibility for the world premiere of the film, however, the odds are that it will skip the film festival circuit completely. It doesn't need the buzz. It really doesn't matter to me if the film plays at festivals, I'll be there opening day no matter what. This new trailer has only made me more excited. The emotion is stronger and the spectacle looks amazing. Check out the trailer below:

Wow. That's all I can really say after watching that trailer. It's not the most perfect trailer in the world, but the raw emotional power looks incredible. In addition to that, we get a better look at the space aspects of Interstellar and they look incredible. I'm betting on another Oscar nomination for Matthew McConaughey and I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being a serious best picture contender. This movie looks astonishing. It hits theaters on November 7. 

Universal and Legendary set 'Skull Island' for November 4, 2016, Joe Cornish rumored to direct

One of the coolest things that was revealed at this year's San Diego Comic-Con was the announcement by Legendary Pictures that Skull Island is being developed and will hit theaters on November 4, 2016. According to multiple sources, the studio announced the film by showing a brief teaser at the end of the Legendary panel that depicted an murky, dark island before zooming into King Kong shouting. Some in the audience were incredibly disappointed, as they were expecting a teaser trailer for Jurassic World. However, most people seemed excited about the prospect of another movie in the King Kong universe. Some even believe that a King Kong vs. Godzilla movie is in the works and that's even more exciting. All in all, Skull Island is a very interesting film and I can't wait to dive in.

Believe it or not, November 2016 is really not that far away and Skull Island is already looking for a director. Attack the Block director Joe Cornish is the front-runner for the job and Universal has already offered him the film, according to Deadline. However, the industry website notes that Cornish has been given many opportunities to direct big studio blockbusters since Attack the Block and has declined many of those chances. We'll probably see soon if Cornish gets the job, but I hope that he does. Edgar Wright and Cornish have worked together many times and that is an exciting possibility. I'm very much looking forward to Skull Island and I hope that Universal and Legendary get talented people to make this film.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

'Get On Up' review

James Brown was obviously one of the most influential musicians in history. His songs inspired a whole generation of superstars and shaped the hip-hop/R&B world that we know today. The Godfather of Soul deserves a good movie. Get On Up is not that movie. It's an incredibly messy film that jumps around James Brown's life like a person on drugs in a time machine and never even attempts to make the story cohesive. Chadwick Boseman is absolutely terrific, but even he can't save this thing. It's a film without focus and it's a bland and dull one as well. I was really looking forward to this film and I have to say that it was one of the year's biggest letdowns.

Get On Up is the story of James Brown (I think) and his meteoric rise and his downfall into drug-fueled paranoia. James starts out as a young boy in Augusta, Georgia. He lives with his abusive father and his kind mother (Viola Davis), who leaves him when he's quite young. James' father joins the army and drops him off at a brothel run by his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer). He works there for a while, then ends up in jail. However, a gospel group led by Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis) comes to visit one day and Byrd immediately recognizes Brown's talent. His family adopts him and then he becomes a superstar.

Sometimes looks can be deceiving. When I saw the previews and commercials, Get On Up looked like a relatively conventional musical biopic. You would get to see Brown's childhood, his big break, his meteoric rise, the epic fall and then the redeeming moment. Get On Up hits all of these beats, but mixes them all up. It starts in 1988 before jumping back to 1968 before jumping back to 1939 then moving forward to 1955 and it just goes on and on from there. Something will happen and then the film will jump forward to something else and then the movie will jump back to that other thing and it all just makes no sense. The film's jumbled style is audacious and interesting, but it doesn't work at all. I was very excited for Get On Up, but its attempt to do something different just falls flat.

Chadwick Boseman is the best thing about this movie by a long shot. His energetic, charismatic performance is absolutely fantastic and I would not mind at all if he was nominated for an Oscar. He brings a swagger to the role that is quite impressive and he carries several scenes throughout the movie. Boseman even manages to dominate some of the emotional beats that the script doesn't really warrant. It's a star-making performance for him after his relatively subtle turn as Jackie Robinson in last year and I really think that this movie will make him a star.

The rest of the cast is serviceable, but they are completely overpowered by Boseman. Viola Davis gives the strongest performance as Brown's mother. She has a great emotional scene with Boseman in the end, but she only appears in the movie for about ten minutes. Nelsan Ellis is okay as Bobby Byrd, but he never truly gets his chance to shine. And Octavia Spencer has what is essentially a one-scene cameo in this movie. She barely makes a dent.

The film also has a decent rhythm at times and some scenes have a strong funky spirit. The music is terrific and the performance scenes are entertaining. And most of the time, Boseman is the reason why the scenes work. I don't know if he actually did his own singing, but if he did, that's quite incredible. The performance scenes are exciting and dynamic, which is quite different from the rest of the film. They occasionally bring the film to life.

But just about every time I thought that this movie was going to stay on the right track and be entertaining, it ended up jumping around Brown's life again and the movie becomes a scrambled mess. Imagine Pulp Fiction as a biopic and you would get this movie. The only difference between the two is that the jumbled chronology works in Pulp Fiction. It doesn't work in Get On Up. I don't understand why the filmmakers felt that changing around the order of the story would work. It just messes the movie up.

Also, for a film about James Brown, this is an incredibly bland film. Boseman brings the energy every once in a while, but most of the time, this movie is just not that entertaining. It's just a forced, tired biopic that decided to mess up the order of the story. I really wanted this film to be good, but it just wasn't.

Get On Up is a PG-13 movie. James Brown did not live a PG-13 life. This movie waters down so many things throughout the story. Brown beat his wife, smoked crack and was just a terrible person at times in general. Get On Up gives you little hints of those things throughout the story, but director Tate Taylor tries to avoid all of Brown's issues completely and it really hurts the film.

When it comes down to it, Get On Up is one of the biggest disappointments of 2014. It's a bland, stale, borderline incomprehensible biopic that thinks it's a lot smarter than it is. Chadwick Boseman is terrific, but the idiotic, jumbled story tries way too hard to be innovative when it is simply another biopic that switched up its story. Simply a mess.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                              (5.5/10)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

'Godzilla 2' officially announced with director Gareth Edwards set to return

DC and Marvel really disappointed this year at Comic-Con. Both studios failed to announce anything fresh or new and ended up only confirming things that we knew. However, Legendary Pictures actually did make some interesting surprise announcements and one of those surprises was Godzilla 2. The massive monster movie hit was going to get a sequel, but there were going to be a few speed bumps thanks to recent news. Director Gareth Edwards, who impressed audiences and critics with his reboot of Godzilla earlier this year, recently signed up to direct a Star Wars spin-off movie which will take up a large chunk of his time for the next few years. But it seems that Legendary has found a way to have Edwards direct this movie. They confirmed his return at Comic-Con.

During the Legendary Pictures Comic-Con panel, CEO Thomas Tull showed a quick video message from Gareth Edwards. In the video, Edwards gave a brief address to the SDCC crowd saying that he was taking a break from Godzilla to work on a "small sci-fi movie" (aka Star Wars), but he wanted to give a quick look at his next monster film. The clip showed grainy newsreel footage (similar to the opening credit scenes from Godzilla) and revealed that Rodan, Mothra and Ghidorah will all appear in future Godzilla sequels. Those three classic Toho monsters will likely appear in Godzilla 2 and future team-up movies and that's an exciting prospect. Nothing else was revealed about Godzilla 2, but I would expect it to hit theaters in summer 2018 thanks to Edwards' commitment to Star Wars. No word on the cast yet since the film is so far out. 

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

'Lucy' tops 'Hercules' with impressive $44 million at weekend box office

Although the box office was still down year-to-year this weekend, both new films that debuted were impressive. Universal's Lucy, an original sci-fi thriller starring Scarlett Johannson, topped the box office with $44 million, which is very strong. The thriller cost only $40 million, which is low for an action film. The film's strong trailer and interesting premise drew audiences in and the star power of Scarlett Johannson was also a draw. However, the "C+" Cinemascore means that the brainy premise might have confused some audience members. Still, I'm betting that this film flies past the $100 million mark.

In second place was Paramount's Hercules, the big-budget mythological adventure pic starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The $100 million film grossed $29 million, which is higher than the $25 million that most pundits predicted. The marketing campaign for Hercules was ubiquitous, but relatively lackluster and audiences obviously didn't bite. Dwayne Johnson was probably the reason that this film did as good as it did. Hercules also did much better than The Legend of Hercules, the big-budget flop starring Kellan Lutz, which released earlier this year. The film also received a "B+" Cinemascore and could bring in audiences for weeks to come.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes finished in third place and took in another $16.4 million, which raises the film's total to $172 million. That's quite the impressive total and I bet that the film works its way to $200 million, making it one of the biggest hits of the summer. The Purge: Anarchy fell to fourth place this weekend and grossed $9.8 million. The horror thriller has now grossed $51.2 million and will probably pass its predecessor in the coming weeks.

Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue dropped to fifth place this weekend and made $9.3 million. That's a steep 47% drop from last weekend, which is unusually high for an animated film. The Disney sequel has grossed $35.1 million so far. Relatively disappointing considering the film was set up as one of the biggest animated films of the summer. Sex Tape dropped 59% to sixth place and grossed $5.9 million. The comedy flop has taken in $26.8 million so far and the film will likely crawl its way to $40 million.

In seventh place was Transformers: Age of Extinction, which took in $4.6 million. That raises the film's total to $236.3 million. Still the lowest for a Transformers film in the US, but it currently stands at $966 million worldwide. Quite impressive. And So It Goes, the romantic comedy starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton finished in eighth place this weekend with $4.5 million. Considering the film's almost non-existent marketing campaign, that's quite impressive. The film doesn't have a reported budget yet, but I can't imagine it's that high. Look for this film to finish with $15 million.

Tammy finished in ninth place with $3.4 million, which raises the film's total to $78.1 million. Pretty strong considering the awful "C+" Cinemascore. And finally, A Most Wanted Man rounded out the top ten with $2.7 million. The film, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles debuted in 361 theaters and had quite the impressive debut. Look for this film to make a lot of money in the future.

Also, Richard Linklater's Boyhood grossed $1.7 million in 107 theaters, which is extraordinary. The film has now grossed $4.1 million. In addition to that, Open Road's The Fluffy Movie grossed $1.3 million in 400 theaters. Not a good debut.

Next weekend sees the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, the terrible Get On Up and the expansion of Boyhood. Here are my predictions:

1. Guardians of the Galaxy- $86.4 million
2. Get On Up- $26.4 million
3. Lucy- $17.6 million
4. Hercules- $15 million
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes- $9 million
6. Planes: Fire and Rescue- $6.3 million
7. The Purge: Anarchy- $5 million
8. Sex Tape- $3.1 million
9. Boyhood- $3 million
10. Transformers: Age of Extinction- $2.5 million

Friday, July 25, 2014

'Argo' screenwriter Chris Terrio in talks to pen 'Justice League' for Warner Bros.

Argo was my favorite film of 2012 (it still remains one of my all-time favorites) and one of the best things about that film was the terrific script by Chris Terrio. The film was very taut, but also extremely funny. The credit for that goes to both Terrio and director Ben Affleck, but most people immediately knew that Terrio would have a very successful screenwriting career. Since Argo, Terrio has signed on to write Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which also stars Ben Affleck), and it appears that he's done such a great job that Warner Bros. wants him to write Justice League as well.

Deadline is reporting that Terrio is in talks with Warner Bros. to pen the script for Justice League, the Avengers-esque team-up that will likely hit theaters in 2017 or 2018. Word from Deadline is that the script for Dawn of Justice is terrific and that Warner Bros. wants Terrio to come on board for their DC Cinematic Universe. I believe that will be the case if the Batman v Superman script is as good as Deadline is reporting.
I'm very impressed that DC is rounding out their newly founded cinematic universe with talented folks and I'm excited that Terrio is coming on. He obviously works well with Affleck and I hope that the films end up being good. They're on the right rack at this point. If only they keep Zack Snyder in check with the insane amounts of destruction....

Edgar Wright to follow up 'Baby Driver' with adaptation of 'Grasshopper Jungle' for Sony

It was recently announced that director Edgar Wright would tackle the crime comedy Baby Driver next, after his exit from the Marvel project Ant-Man. Baby Driver will probably round up its cast relatively soon and should be out in late 2015 or early 2016. However, it looks like that's not the only project that Wright is prepping for. Earlier today, THR (The Hollywood Reporter) reported that Wright will also be tackling Grasshopper Jungle, a novel adaptation for Sony.

Grasshopper Jungle is based on the YA novel by Andrew Smith, which follows a group of Iowa teenagers who accidentally cause a deadly plague that awakens an army of preying mantises. All of this was first reported by THR, but The Wrap noted that Wright will likely direct the film after Baby Driver, his next picture for Working Title. No confirmation has come from Sony, but Wright posted a Vine about the book, telling his followers to pick it up. That's confirmation for me.

Wright is one of Hollywood's best and brightest directors and I was deeply saddened to see him depart from Ant-Man. However, Baby Driver and Grasshopper Jungle sound infinitely more interesting than a superhero film about a man that can transform into an ant. Although I would have loved to see Wright's take on the film, I'd much rather he continue to make brilliant and unique genre films that defy all expectations. Both of Wright's upcoming projects are among my most anticipated films for the next few years.

James Gunn will write and direct 'Guardians of the Galaxy 2'

One of the most anticipated movies for the rest of the year is Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, the epic space opera starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and more. Director James Gunn (Slither, Super) tackled the project a few years ago and has seemed to fall in love with the material. He even wrote a heartfelt letter after finishing the film that expressed his sadness over having to stop editing the movie and release it. However, James Gunn is far from done with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Even though The Playlist had a report early this week that revealed that Gunn was under contract for another Marvel movie, it seems that The Wrap knows exactly what that movie will be.

Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be one of the biggest hits of the summer. It's tracking for at least $70 million and some believe that the anticipation is so high that it could reach $100 million. It's also currently sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes through 25 reviews and will surely be another critical hit for the studio. Marvel definitely has another franchise on their hands and it looks like James Gunn will be on board as director once again. The Wrap interviewed Guardians co-screenwriter Nicole Perlman who confirmed that Gunn will be helming the sequel. "James will be directing 'Guardians 2', so he should also be writing 'Guardians 2'" she said in the interview. That pretty much confirms it.

I'm extremely excited for Guardians of the Galaxy and I'm betting that Marvel pulls it off. All the positive buzz is encouraging, but honestly, did anyone ever doubt that we would get a Guardians sequel? These characters sound like they're really important to the overall MCU, so I always believed that a sequel was coming. Nonetheless, it's exciting news and I'm betting that the film is officially announced at the Marvel panel in San Diego tomorrow. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let's Be Cops review

Buddy cop comedies are extremely popular at this point and there have been good and bad ones. The 21 Jump Street series is absolutely brilliant, but Ride Along was formulaic garbage. I wasn't really sure where Fox's new R-rated buddy comedy, Let's Be Cops, would fall. The trailers made the film look pretty funny, but also relatively generic. And that's exactly what this movie ends up being. Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans make for a solid duo, but they're not on the level of Tatum and Hill. There are a few chuckles and some legitimately great laughs, but in the end, it's a bland and unmemorable comedy.

Ryan (Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans) are down in the dumps. Ryan was a successful quarterback in high school and college, but a career-ending injury basically sidelined his entire life. Justin has been working on video games forever, but every idea of his is rejected by his bosses on the spot and thrown out for something stupid. One night, both of them decide to dress up as cops for their college reunion party. Once they go out on the streets, they realize that people actually believe that they're cops and they decide to go with it. Ryan impresses all of the people in his apartment complex, Justin gets the girl (Nina Dobrev) he's in love with and they actually start to act like real cops. However, the two buddies get in way too deep and end up tracking down a smuggler and fighting a Russian gang that rules their LA neighborhood. 

Let's Be Cops is a standard buddy comedy. Nothing more. Nothing less. It's relatively bland and honestly not all that interesting. The film is never bad, but there's not a memorable thing about it. The predictability is there from start to finish and this movie feels way longer than it actually is. However, it is actually pretty funny at times and Jake Johnson is a very charismatic actor who fits the lead role really well. There are a few laugh-out-loud laughs, but they're few and far between and it just never saves the film. In the end, Let's Be Cops is a movie that you catch on TBS on a Saturday when you have nothing to do. You'll probably like it better at home.

The performances in this film are relatively serviceable. No one really stands out, but Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans are a solid pairing, and Johnson is especially good. Both have good scenes and both fully commit to their roles, but they just don't have the electric chemistry that you need to pull off a great buddy cop comedy. The supporting cast is astonishingly weak. Rob Riggle is in this movie, but he's honestly not that funny, which is unusual (Riggle is typically dynamite). Nina Dobrev is there as well, but she's just playing the stereotypical girlfriend role. However, Andy Garcia does lend some levity to the film in his villainous role. He probably has only five minutes of screen time, but he stands out.

The actors aren't that great, so if this movie really wanted to be fantastic, it would have needed a solid script. Honestly, it doesn't have one. This movie isn't quite as generically predictable as Ride Along and there are definitely more laughs, but it still is littered with buddy cop tropes. The only difference is that the main characters aren't cops, they're only pretending to be cops. That's sort of a new spin on the genre, but all the usual cliches are there. The unique spin doesn't add anything.

When I saw Neighbors and 22 Jump Street, I laughed every minute. I was laughing really hard. Let's Be Cops was sometimes funny, but there were only a few belly laughs. Most of the jokes I just chuckled at. The humor is mildly funny but it's never that hilarious. A few scenes stand out and the musical choices are somewhat inspired, but this movie just didn't make me laugh that hard. It just doesn't go for it.

If you've ever seen a buddy cop movie, you know where this film is going. The only thing I gave Ride Along credit for was the entertaining final battle. I can't say the same for Let's Be Cops. The action is never exciting and you never truly care about any of the characters on screen. The scenes aren't shot well and the thrills just aren't there.

All that aside, I have to say that the weirdest thing about this movie is that it's the tamest R-rated comedy I've seen in my life. Sure, Damon Wayans smokes crystal meth and has a fully nude man run over him. But that's honestly all. This film truly feels like a PG-13 comedy that threw in some f-bombs and a little dash of raunchy humor just to get that R-rating. And it really doesn't pay off. The crude humor is funny, but the clever character moments are honestly more amusing. If they wanted to make a hard-R comedy, they failed spectacularly. There was nothing shocking, there were no "OMG" moments. It was all rather standard and bland.

This movie also feels really long. It's only 1 hour and 44 minutes, but I could have sworn I was in there for over two hours. That's never a good sign. I was entertained, but it wasn't enough. This film is just basically running through the motions. There are a few inspired sequences and I did laugh at times, but it just never really did it for me.

Let's Be Cops could be worse. But it could be better. The stars have charisma and there are some funny scenes, but let's face it, we've all seen this movie before and way better movies have been made with this same template. There's nothing unique or special and the movie just isn't that funny. The potential is there for something cool, but the film never follows through. It just goes through the motions and hits every cliche in the book.

THE FINAL GRADE:  C                                              (5.7/10)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Marvel announces another mystery film for 2018

Marvel Studios recently announced a bunch of releases dates that go all the way out to 2019. There were three dates announced for 2017, two for 2018 and one for 2019. Well, we can now add another date to that list as Marvel has now announced that another new film will hit theaters on May 4, 2018. That raises the total of 2018 films to three and means that Marvel will probably be doing three movies a year from now on. Also, what's interesting is that the May 2018 date was originally taken by The Amazing Spider-Man 4. With that film now indefinitely delayed, Marvel can swoop in and take that spot. The questions now is: what movies will fill these spots?

I speculated in the previous article about what the films might be. This new date adds a whole different layer to things. We know that Doctor Strange is likely coming in 2016. I'm also betting on Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor sequels in 2017. Avengers 3 is going to hit theaters at some point. We'll also probably get a Black Panther movie at some point and then after that, it's up for grabs. Black Widow could get a spin-off, Iron Man 4 could happen, Doctor Strange 2, Ant-Man 2, Guardians 3- it's all possible. We might know by Comic-Con. I'm betting that we hear the release dates all the way up to Avengers 3. Here are my current predictions (predicted dates in bold):

-Guardians of the Galaxy- August 1, 2014
-Avengers: Age of Ultron- May 1, 2015
-Ant-Man- July 17, 2015
-Captain America 3- May 6, 2016
-Doctor Strange- July 8, 2016
-Thor 3- May 5, 2017
-Guardians of the Galaxy 2- July 27, 2017
-Black Panther- November 3, 2017
-Avengers 3- May 4, 2018
-Black Widow and Hawkeye- July 6, 2018
-Ms. Marvel- November 2, 2018
-Guardians of the Galaxy 3- May 3, 2019

Like I said, those are just my guesses, but I'm definitely confident in most of my picks. Guardians of the Galaxy is a franchise now and with the Infinity Gauntlet coming into play, the Guardians are surely going to play a huge part. Ms. Marvel is questionable, but female superheros are the next step for Marvel. And finally, Black Panther and Black Widow have to happen. They just do.

Those are my predictions for Marvel's movie slate. The odds are, we'll know quite a few after Comic-Con. Come back on Saturday for new info about Marvel's upcoming movie slate.

'Uncharted' to hit theaters on June 10, 2016, 'Pirates of the Caribbean 5' will debut in July 2017

One of the films affected by the big Spider-Man shake-up at Sony was Seth Gordon's Uncharted. The big-budget adventure video game adaptation was previously not on the release calender, but now, it's set to hit theaters on June 10, 2016. That was the release date that previously belonged to The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and the summer date is a huge show of confidence by Sony. They need a bankable franchise desperately and Uncharted might be able to do that. The film will be directed by Seth Gordon, who is best known for directing Identity Thief and Horrible Bosses, two big studio comedies. Uncharted is undoubtedly an action/adventure film, so this is definitely a different step for Gordon. No roles have been cast yet, but I'm sure that they'll be announced soon. For now, I'm just hoping that we get a great adventure franchise out of Uncharted.

Speaking of adventure movies, Disney announced earlier today that Pirates of the Caribbean 5 will release on July 7, 2017, six years after the previous installment. That's a long gap between films and I'm really not sure if anyone cares about the Pirates franchise anymore. The last two films have been pretty terrible and I really don't believe that this one will be any better. The fifth installment will be directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sanberg, who are best known for the Oscar-nominated film Kon-Tiki. The assumption is that Johnny Depp will return and Christoph Waltz, Geoffrey Rush and Keith Richards are all rumored to have roles. The film was previously titled Dead Men Tell No Tales, but there's no word on if that title stands. I'm sure we'll hear more about this film in the near future.

Sony sets 'Sinister Six' for November 11, 2016 release date, 'Amazing Spider-Man 3' pushed to 2018

Sony's Spider-Man franchise has been in limbo lately after the disappointing results of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Before the film was released, Sony predicted that the superhero sequel would hit $1 billion worldwide and it ended up making only $706 million, which is the worst result in the franchise's history, even with the extra cash the film raked in thanks to IMAX and 3D ticket prices. Sony planned to do a Spider-Man universe similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and after Amazing Spider-Man 2, questions were raised about the future of the franchise. Some suggested that Sony just sell the rights back to Marvel, while others believed that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (which was previously set for a June 10, 2016) should be pushed back. Latino-Review's El Mayimbe even sent out a tweet this weekend that made many believe that the planned Sinister Six spin-off was canceled. Well, it turns out that's not quite the case.

Sony will now release Sinister Six on November 11, 2016. The spin-off that stars many of the franchise's villains will be written and directed by Drew Goddard, who is best known for directing Cabin in the Woods. It is not currently known which villains will appear in the spin-off, but I'm presuming that the Green Goblin and Rhino will be in the mix. Also, Sony has now delayed The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and it will now hit theaters in 2018. The Amazing Spider-Man 4 has been delayed indefinitely. At this point, it's not known whether or not Andrew Garfield will return to play Spider-Man.

This is not good news for Sony. At this point, they're barely hanging on for life and are only making movies to stop the Spider-Man rights from reverting back to Marvel. Sony barely broke even on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and will likely have to significantly downsize the budget if they want to actually make money. In addition to that, the reaction for TASM2 was mostly negative and many fans have completely turned on the franchise. Sony is just clamoring for a franchise and they're not gonna get it. I was entertained by The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but Sony just needs to kill this franchise. It's done.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Edgar Wright set to direct 'Baby Driver' in the aftermath of his 'Ant-Man' exit

A lot of fanboys across the country (including myself) were terribly saddened when Edgar Wright decided to leave Marvel's Ant-Man. Wright had developed the superhero film for years and his vision just ended up differing with Marvel's. Wright left, Marvel signed on Peyton Reed to direct the film and it's all behind us now. Both parties can work on their own separate projects. And it looks like Wright finally has another film lined up. Deadline reported earlier today that Wright will direct Baby Driver next for Working Title Films. The industry website describes the film as a "collision of crime, action, music and sound." That really doesn't give us much info about the plot, but if you head over to Screen Rant, you'll find that they have a link to an earlier article they wrote which describes the film as a "wild spin on the action and crime genre which will be set in the US." Still not much to go off of, but it's better than nothing.

Edgar Wright is definitely one of my favorite working directors in Hollywood. He's crafted some of the smartest, most visually stimulating and energetic comedies of the last ten years and I'm down for anything that he does. And I have to say- I'm actually glad that he left Ant-Man to go back and do a movie more like his Cornetto Trilogy (the trilogy comprised of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End). He seems to fit in well with Working Title (he did the Cornetto Trilogy with them) and Baby Driver sounds like a lot of fun. There's no word on the cast or the production start date, but I'm assuming that Baby Driver will hit theaters in 2016 or 2017.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Amazing teaser for Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' debuts

Nightcrawler is one of my most anticipated films of this year and I just can't wait to see it. Jake Gyllenhaal has been on fire lately (his finest performance to date was in last year's Prisoners) and the story of a man who gets caught up in the world of freelance crime journalism in Los Angeles is endlessly appealing. The supporting cast, led by Bill Paxton, Rene Russo and Riz Ahmed isn't too shabby either. And although Dan Gilroy is a first-time director, I have confidence that his experience as a screenwriter will help him. This just looks like a very intriguing film and one that could definitely pick up some awards buzz. A viral teaser for the film appeared on the web recently. Check it out below:

This is an electric and weird teaser and it only takes my excitement to another level. Gyllenhaal looks perfect for the role and I love the tone and pace of the teaser. While I originally imagined a noir-esque film, this looks like it might be a dark comedy of sorts, which is very exciting. I can't wait to see how this film ends up. Nightcrawler hits theaters on October 17, 2014.

Source: Rope of Silicon

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' tops weak newcomers with $36 million at weekend box office

The summer box office has been quite disastrous so far this year. No film has crossed $300 million and there has only been film to gross over $100 million on its opening weekend (Transformers 4). July is typically the hottest movie-going month of the summer, yet there haven't been too many hits. The lack of big films allowed for Fox's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to take the top spot again this weekend at the box office with $36 million. That's a relatively light 50% drop from last weekend. The film has grossed a stellar $138.9 million so far and it will likely end up as one of the summer's biggest hits. A final tally around $200 million is probable at this point.

Universal's The Purge: Anarchy finished in second place this weekend with $28.3 million. The action horror flick grossed less than its poorly received predecessor (The Purge debuted with $34 million- and a "C" Cinemascore), but managed to get a solid "B" Cinemascore, which indicates that audiences liked this one more than the first. I never saw The Purge, but I hated Anarchy and discourage you from seeing it. That being said, it will probably finish with around $80 million. Not bad for a film that cost only $9 million.

Third place belonged to Disney's Planes: Fire and Rescue, which debuted with a weak $18 million. That's less than Planes opened to last year ($22.2 million) and is quite the disappointing result for Disney. However, summer is far from over and with an "A" Cinemascore, word of mouth will be stellar. Still, I'm not sure if it's good enough to warrant a third film. Fire and Rescue cost $50 million, which isn't cheap. It did gross an additional $9 million overseas this weekend, but I'm not sure it'll be enough. We shall see.

Sony's Sex Tape was the big bomb this weekend, grossing only $15 million. For an R-rated comedy with a seemingly ubiquitous marketing campaign, that's an incredibly disappointing result. The film also received a disastrous "C+" Cinemascore, which means that Sex Tape is toast. The film cost around $40 million, which means that a worldwide total of $100 million is needed. I doubt that they'll be able to pull it out. Terrible reviews (20% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a surplus of R-rated comedies this summer (22 Jump Street and Neighbors are two of the biggest R-rated hits ever) probably contributed to the failure of Sex Tape. A final total around $40 million is likely.

Transformers: Age of Extinction finished in fifth place this weekend with $10 million. The action extravaganza has now grossed $227.1 million in the US, meaning that its final total will probably be around $250 million, which would make it the lowest grossing Transformers movie yet. However, its current worldwide total stands at $886.2 million, which is quite stellar. Age of Extinction will likely cross the $1 billion mark in a few weeks time. Tammy ended up in sixth place this weekend and took in $7.6 million. The poorly received comedy has now made $71.2 million and will likely push $90 million.

In seventh place was Sony's 22 Jump Street, which finished with $4.7 million. The hilarious R-rated comedy has now grossed $180.5 million. How To Train Your Dragon 2 finished in eighth place with $3.8 million, which was enough to raise the film's total to $160.6 million. Still a shockingly disappointing result. And the overseas box office hasn't been great either- the film has only made $384.5 million worldwide.

Maleficent ended up in ninth place this weekend with $3.3 million. The epic fantasy has now grossed $228.3 million and is definitely one of the surprise hits of the summer. And finally, Earth to Echo rounded out the top ten with $3.2 million. The film has now grossed $31.9 million. Not bad for a film that only cost $13 million to make.

Also, The Weinstein Company's Begin Again finished in eleventh place with $2.7 million, which is only a 2.1% drop from last weekend. The film has grossed $9.4 million so far. And Richard Linklater's Boyhood grossed $1.1 million in only 33 theaters. That's simply extraordinary. Zach Braff's Kickstarter project Wish I Was Here debuted this weekend with a lackluster $495,000. The film expands next weekend.

Next weekend sees the wide release of Hercules, Lucy, And So It Goes and The Fluffy Movie, the limited release of Magic in the Moonlight and A Most Wanted Man and the expansion of Wish I Was Here and Boyhood. Here are my predictions:

1. Lucy- $43.5 million
2. Hercules- $27.7 million
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes- $20 million
4. The Purge: Anarchy- $12.9 million
5. Planes: Fire and Rescue- $11 million
6. Sex Tape- $6.9 million
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction- $4.8 million
8. And So It Goes- $4.5 million
9. Tammy- $3.9 million
10. 22 Jump Street- $2.7 million

-The Fluffy Movie- $2.1 million
-Wish I Was Here- $1.4 million
-Boyhood- $2.6 million

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Marvel announces release dates for five new "mystery films"

Marvel is the hottest studio in Hollywood right now. They built up a ton of hype for The Avengers with their "Phase 1" movies and then wrecked the box office when the superhero team-up was finally released. Since The Avengers hit theaters, Marvel has had three major box office successes. Iron Man 3 grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, both Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier improved vastly over their predecessors and Guardians of the Galaxy is about to become one of the summer's biggest hits. It's been pretty good for the studio so far.

Marvel is also very good at planning far in advance. Before their most recent announcement, they had release dates set in 2015, 2016 and 2017 already and studio head Kevin Feige has stated that the company has a plan that goes all the way up to 2028. Pretty incredible. Yesterday, Marvel announced five more release dates, which led fans to obsessively speculate over what movies could fill those spots. Take a look at the upcoming calender for Marvel Studios (release dates announced yesterday are in bold print):

-Guardians of the Galaxy- August 1, 2014
-Avengers: Age of Ultron- May 1, 2015
-Ant-Man- July 17, 2015
-Captain America 3- May 6, 2016
-Untitled Marvel Film- July 8, 2016
-Untitled Marvel Film- May 5, 2017
-Untitled Marvel Film- July 27, 2017
-Untitled Marvel Film- November 3, 2017
-Untitled Marvel Film- July 6, 2018
-Untitled Marvel Film- November 2, 2018
-Untitled Marvel Film- May 3, 2019

That's quite the schedule. I'm expecting the studio to announce the name of at least three of these titles at Comic-Con, but with Marvel, anything can happen. It's almost been all but confirmed at this point that Scott Derrickson's Dr. Strange will be hitting theaters on July 8, 2016. The likelihood of Marvel announcing Dr. Strange officially (along with the actor who will be playing the lead, presumably Benedict Cumberbatch) is high.

I would also assume that Thor 3 is in the pipeline. The May 2017 date is a strong possibility, but I think that many are assuming that The Avengers 3 will be taking that date. However, I'm betting on July 2018 as the release date for Avengers 3. I think that would be a smart move. If they moved up that release date a few days to take advantage of the Fourth of July holiday, the movie would make a ton of money. At this point, I'm betting on Thor 3 hitting theaters on May 5, 2017 and Avengers 3 coming later.

After that, I think that it's safe to assume that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will take the July 2017 spot. Tracking for Guardians is good and I think that it's a franchise now for sure. I believe that the November 2017 spot will be taken by Black Panther. That's another film that Marvel really wants to get off the ground and a spot outside of the summer season seems like it would be a good fit for an original property. And finally, as I previously stated, I believe that Avengers 3 will debut in July 2018.

There are only two spots left after and I believe that both will be original properties. The November 2018 spot will likely belong to Ms. Marvel or the Black Widow spin-off. I believe that Scarlett Johannson can definitely carry her own film and I think that a spin-off starring her as Black Widow is certainly going to happen. Finally, something big is going to hit theaters on May 3, 2019. It won't be Avengers 4, but it could be Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or Inhumans, another original property that Marvel has wanted to make for a long time. It's too early to tell at this point.

So there you have it folks. That's your Marvel movie schedule for the next five years. Quite amazing. The next film is only two weeks away!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Best Films of 2014 so far

2014 has been an incredibly awesome year so far. Sure, we've had a few disappointments (How To Train Your Dragon 2, Transcendence, Muppets Most Wanted), but there have been a plethora of great films. From animated films like The LEGO Movie to comedies like Neighbors to big action blockbusters like Edge of Tomorrow, 2014 has been stellar across the board. Here are my 10 favorite films of the year so far.


On the surface, this movie is just another passable YA romance adaptation that has nothing to offer anyone who isn't a fan of the book. However, The Fault In Our Stars ends up being much more than that. It's a sweet, yet sad romance film that has two charismatic leads in Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley and a great supporting cast led by the terrific Laura Dern. It's an entertaining film from start to finish and it affects you emotionally as well. I was very surprised by The Fault In Our Stars and despite some problems I had with the ending, I really loved this film. One of the biggest surprises of the year thus far.


Wes Anderson never fails to deliver candy-colored spectacles and The Grand Budapest Hotel just might be his best one yet. Led by an Oscar-worthy performance by Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a beautiful and hilarious dark comedy. The performances are great and everything just flows from Anderson's style. The set design, the music, the action scenes, everything is simply his. It's a fantastic film from a visionary director at the top of his game.


It's always a good thing when a movie lives up to your expectations and X-Men: Days of Future Past certainly lived up to mine. The sequel to the brilliant X-Men: First Class might not quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but it comes awfully close thanks to the breathtaking action scenes and the surprisingly emotional story. Hugh Jackman and Michael Fassbender are great as usual, but it's James McAvoy who steals the movie. He gives the best performance ever in a Marvel superhero movie and moves you almost to the point of tears. It's a brilliant performance in a brilliant film that delivers on every level.


Roger Ebert is a figure that made a profound impact on my life, so I was bound to love the documentary on his life. However, I was not truly prepared for Life Itself. This is a film of immense power, a film that will make you laugh and cry and will certainly touch your heart. Ebert had such a love for life and a desire to show his life, warts and all. It's absolutely beautiful and astonishing. It's a hard watch at times, but it's such a life affirming film. A movie that can't be missed.


2014 has been an extraordinary year for comedies and 22 Jump Street is one of the best examples. I enjoyed 2012's 21 Jump Street. It was a funny, well-acted comedy that was much better than it had any right to be. However, I loved 22 Jump Street. If not for Seth Rogen's Neighbors, this would be the funniest comedy of the year. There are so many laugh-out-loud scenes during this movie and it's done so well that you just can't help but love it. The chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is brilliant and the action beats are terrific as well. Ice Cube is great in his supporting role and the meta humor is simply fantastic. One of the rare sequels that is better than the original.


Marvel ended up in a slump last year after The Avengers rocked cinemas the year before. Iron Man 3 was an entertaining film with some great moments, but I could barely get through it on a repeat viewing and it is relatively inconsequential to the cinematic universe. I enjoyed Thor: The Dark World for what it was, but it also is a film that I don't have any interest in rewatching. With all that being said, Marvel roared back to life this year with the terrific Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which just might be the best Marvel movie yet. It's a serious film, it's a suspenseful film and it has an impact on the rest of the universe. The Winter Soldier is a textbook example of how to make a sequel- make it darker, make it more complex and continue to develop the characters. The Winter Soldier accomplishes all of that while still incorporating some light humor. It's simply one of the best superhero films I've ever seen.


Seth Rogen is on a roll right now and Neighbors might just be his best film to date. The frat-boy comedy is essentially a modern update on Animal House, but it's the rare film that deserves to be placed in the same category as that beloved film. It's a raucous, filthy comedy with plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes and moments that will have you saying "Did they just do that?" It's the rare comedy that just goes for it. There's no holding back. Not to mention that the soundtrack and the party scenes are brilliant and the acting is top-notch. Zac Efron steals every scene he's in and Rose Byrne is also electric. Neighbors could have been another stupid frat comedy, but it ends up being one of the best movies of the year. It perfectly imitates the Animal House style of anarchic comedy while giving it a modern, pot-fueled update. Simply hysterical.


Very rarely do we got a sci-fi film as fantastic as Snowpiercer. The bold and brilliant film from director Boon Jong-ho is a mesmerizing, frightening vision of the future that only gets more dark and disturbing as it goes along. Chris Evans leads the stellar cast and is absolutely breathtaking as Curtis, the world-weary revolutionary who is tasked with leading the passengers to the front of the train. The supporting cast is strong as well, but it's Evans who steals the film, especially with his amazing monologue at the end of the film. The action scenes are beautiful and the social commentary is quite interesting. I really hope more people get to see this one because it is so, so good.


In a year where the blockbusters have actually been quite stellar, Edge of Tomorrow came as the summer's greatest surprise. Tom Cruise was coming off a string of bad movies (Rock of Ages and Oblivion were both intolerable), nobody knew if Emily Blunt could carry an action pic and director Doug Liman wasn't exactly a superstar. But somehow they did it. Somehow the people behind Edge of Tomorrow made one of the year's best blockbusters, a visually beautiful, action-packed and hilarious sci-fi extravaganza that is absolutely terrific. The script is witty and the pace never lets up. It's just a brilliant film and one that I will definitely not forget.


Typically, the months of January and February are cinematic dumping grounds. And for the most part, all of the films this year fit that cliche. The only film that didn't fit that mold was The LEGO Movie, a cinematic masterpiece. That might seem like high praise, but I'm telling you, it fits. The LEGO Movie is one of the best animated films of all time, a film filled with imagination, heart and boundless energy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are some of the most talented filmmakers in Hollywood. They're able to apply a certain style to every film they make and it just works. The LEGO Movie is the rare movie that deserves to be called an instant classic. It's that good.

The honorable mentions for me were Chef, which was a fun film with a stellar second half, A Million Ways to Die in the West, a hilarious comedy that paid homage to the western genre well, Non-Stop, an edge of your seat thriller that is one of Liam Neeson's best yet and Million Dollar Arm, an energetic and engaging baseball drama.

The worst films that I've seen this year are:

-The Purge: Anarchy
-Ride Along
-Muppets Most Wanted
-The Monuments Men

Well, the first half of 2014 was absolutely terrific. Here's to hoping that the second half is just as good.

'Gone Girl' to open New York Film Festival, 'Inherent Vice' also set to premiere at the festival

Believe it or not, the Fall Festival season is just around the corner. Toronto will be announcing their slate of films on Tuesday and Telluride can't be far behind. However, there are a few things that we already know. We learned earlier that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman will open the Venice Film Festival and now we know two films that will be hitting New York in late September/early October.

According to Variety, David Fincher's much-anticipated adaptation of Gone Girl will be opening the New York Film Festival on September 26. The Ben Affleck-starred drama is based on a best-selling novel and will open in theaters on October 3. The cast also includes Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Casey Wilson, and Neil Patrick Harris. I'm really excited to see the film and I think that New York is the right place to premiere it. Fincher also debuted The Social Network there and that turned out great. The trailers for this have been complex and interesting, so I'm very excited. 

Deadline is also reporting that director Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice will premiere at the New York Film Festival. The 1960's set psychedelic ensemble pic is set to be the centerpiece of the festival and will probably be one of the hottest tickets. The film is based off of the critically acclaimed Thomas Pynchon novel and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Jena Malone, Benicio Del Toro, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell and Martin Short and is currently slated to hit theaters in limited release on December 12 before a nationwide expansion in January. It's one of my most anticipated of the year and I hope that it delivers. 

'Overlook Hotel' moving forward at Warner Bros., Mark Romanek in talks to direct

The Shining is one of my favorite films and undoubtedly one of the greatest horror films of all time. Stanley Kubrick's masterful direction is mesmerizing from start to finish and Jack Nicholson's performance is terrifyingly unhinged. Warner Bros. has been developing a prequel to the film for some time now and it looks like it's finally moving forward with director Mark Romanek (more on that in a minute). For me, the news of a prequel to The Shining is actually quite exciting. I've been interested in the concept forever and the idea of exploring some of the things that are hinted at in the 1980 classic is very intriguing.

According to Variety, Mark Romanek is in talks to direct Overlook Hotel, a film that would take place before the events of The Shining and tell the story of Bob Watson, the hotel's first owner. Variety also reports that Glen Mazzara (former Walking Dead showrunner) has turned in a draft of the story. James Vanderbilt, Brad Fischer and Laeta Kalogridis will be producing the film. There's no word of a release date, but I would bet on a release date in late 2016. That's just my guess.

As I stated previously, Overlook Hotel is a film that I'm very pumped for and I truly hope that the screenwriters can create a terrifying horror film. I'm not familiar with the work of Mark Romanek (his previous films are Never Let Me Go and One Hour Photo), but from what I can tell, people seem happy with the choice. Let's hope he does a good job. In other related Shining news, Variety and other news outlets are also reporting that Doctor Sleep is in development, which I can't say that I support. I've read a bit of the book (which was recently released by Stephen King, one of my favorite authors) and it's extremely dark and kind of depressing. However, I plan on giving it another shot, especially if the movie is given the green light. For now though, we just have Overlook Hotel to look forward to and that's fine by me. I'm hoping that the film is terrific. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

'What If' review

After the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, many asked what the young stars of the series would do next. Their lives had been almost consumed by the franchise for ten years and their roles were so defining and iconic at this point, that nobody really knew what they could do to separate themselves from the characters. Three years later, we have a much better idea. Emma Watson has become a bona fide superstar with roles in films like Noah, This is the End and The Perks of Being A Wallflower. She's on the A-list now and I think that she'll be there for a long time. Rupert Grint has pretty much disappeared off the planet. His only notable roles have been in films like Charlie Countryman and CBGB. The series' main star, Daniel Radcliffe, falls somewhere in the middle. He starred in The Woman in Black in 2012 and appeared in the critically acclaimed Kill Your Darlings, but he hasn't had any other big mainstream roles. All of this brings us to What If, a new romantic comedy starring Radcliffe in one of his first major post-Potter roles. What If is a pleasantly entertaining comedy with whip-smart dialogue and great performances from its young leads. It's quite predictable at times, but in the end, What If is a really enjoyable film.

Wallace (Radcliffe) is at a point in his life where he really doesn't know what to do. He dropped out of med school after he caught his girlfriend cheating on him and then spent a year trying to figure out what to do. At a party thrown by his best friend and roommate Allan (Adam Driver), Wallace meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a girl who he forms an instant connection with. The only problem is that Chantry has a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) and they've been dating for five years. Wallace and Chantry decide to be "just friends" but Wallace always wants more than that. However, he doesn't want to ruin the relationship and it all just ends up being quite messy.

What If is a film that benefits from its strong dialogue and the wonderfully charismatic leads. In many ways, this is an incredibly generic rom-com on paper, but the actors and screenwriters manage to elevate the material to another level. Radcliffe, Kazan, Driver, Spall and Mackenzie Davis (who plays Allan's girlfriend) are incredibly talented and funny leads and some of them would fit in well in a Woody Allen comedy. And at times, this feels like a Woody Allen film. It's smart and cynical and romantic and quite terrific. However, the cliches and genre trappings become quite obvious at the end and it all wraps up quite tidily. It's a film that is quite unique in many aspects, so I was hoping for a less predictable story at times. Nonetheless, What If is one of the better romantic comedies in recent memory and a great showcase for some of the most talented young actors in Hollywood.

The script is quite wonderful and the film moves at a strong pace that keeps the audience constantly interested. This is a film that starts and never truly stops. It's always moving and that's slightly odd for a romantic comedy. However, it truly works and it's one of the best things about this film. The fact that What If moves at a faster pace than most action blockbusters is astounding and frankly, kind of awesome. The pace gives the film a spark of life and a personality that separates it from every other derivative rom-com from the last twenty years.

The dialogue is also incredibly smart and the actors consistently deliver it well. What If is a PG-13 film, so the dialogue isn't terribly filthy, but the discussions about sex and love are quite frank at times. Still, the dialogue is fast and witty and actually quite intelligent. What If is a film that looks at love from the perspective of both men and women and it's fascinating. It's also very funny. This is not just a romantic film- it's also a non-stop laugh fest. It's a hilarious film from start to finish.

I love the actors in this film and all of them do a terrific job. Radcliffe does a great job as Wallace and he proves that he can be a real movie star someday. People wondered if he truly had a future in acting after Potter and I believe that What If is confirmation that he does. Zoe Kazan is also pretty good as Chantry, Wallace's love interest. Kazan and Radcliffe's characters are very similar and the two actors have great chemistry. Adam Driver is one of the best young actors in Hollywood and he consistently delivers as Allan. Driver is hilarious and I can't wait to see him get some bigger roles (he is one of the main stars of Star Wars: Episode VII). And finally, Mackenzie Davis is good as Nicole, Allan's wild girlfriend. This is definitely a different role for her (she plays a very serious character on AMC's Halt and Catch Fire) and I was glad to see that. In general, the acting in this movie is quite brilliant. They all elevate the film to another level.

This film will inevitably be compared to other famous romantic comedies, simply because it's actually a good film. I've already read one review that compared it to When Harry Met Sally and the poster compares it to (500) Days of Summer. Even I compared it to a Woody Allen movie earlier in the review. Most of the time, that's just studio created hype, but in this instance, I would encourage you to believe it. While the film has a few problems, this is definitely a stellar addition to the romantic comedy genre.

Like I said previously, my only problem with this film is that it ends up falling into the usual romantic comedy trappings at the end. It's a quirky and offbeat film for about 75% of its runtime, but it ends up being sort of conventional and predictable towards the end. However, even the cliched stuff is tweaked just a little bit so it feels somewhat fresh and new. I wish that the filmmakers had stuck the landing with a more unique and interesting ending, but everything ends up coming together just a little too neatly.

Nonetheless, What If is a terrific romantic comedy and a good bit of summer counter-programming. The lead actors are terrific and the dialogue is often intelligent and hilarious. If this movie is a hit (and I think that it will be), I'm betting that we see a lot more from director Michael Dowse and the appealing lead stars. If you're looking for a good date movie or something that's just a little bit different this summer, you really can't go wrong with What If, one of the better romantic films of the year.

THE FINAL GRADE:  B+                                            (7.5/10)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Quentin Tarantino to begin filming 'The Hateful Eight' in early 2015

Quentin Tarantino has had quite an interesting time since his last film, Django Unchained, which tore up the box office and the awards circuit after it was released on Christmas Day 2012. In 2013, Tarantino revealed that he had written a new screenplay entitled The Hateful Eight and was set to eventually start production on that film with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins, Michael Madsen, Amber Tamblyn and Zoe Bell set to star. Unfortunately, the script for the film was leaked and Tarantino was not happy about that. He ended up suing Gawker (who had posted the link for his script) in January and scrapped all of his plans for the film, stating that he might eventually write a novel based on The Hateful Eight. However, things got interesting in April, when Tarantino held a live reading of the film in Los Angeles with the cast. Although Tarantino didn't confirm that he would be making The Hateful Eight, he seemed more interesting in doing the project again. According to Cinema Blend, he eventually said that he planned on making the film in late 2014, but a new report indicates otherwise.

Kurt Russell was recently interviewed by a local Fox station and in that interview he gave this quote to the anchors:

"There's a Tarantino project called The Hateful Eight that looks like it might go somewhere around the beginning of the year."

So there you have it folks, Tarantino's The Hateful Eight is moving forward. While that's not really an official confirmation, Russell is a part of the cast and it wasn't some random report from an unreliable source. He said it in an interview. The Hateful Eight is a very interesting project and I'm quite certain that Tarantino will make something special out of it. For a while now, speculation has been that Tarantino would have the picture ready in time for December 2015 and I highly doubt that's possible with the later start date. A summer 2016 date seems more plausible to me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

New films from Inarritu, Scorsese and David O. Russell to hit theaters in late 2015

While the 2014 awards season is already looking quite interesting, the 2015 season will also see the arrival of some high profile releases. A new Steven Spielberg Cold War thriller is already on the calender and is an early favorite, but it will definitely have some stiff competition in the form of Joy, The Revenant and Silence, new films from high-profile directors.

First off, we have Joy, the new film from David O. Russell, the director of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. Both of those films were huge hits with the Academy, earning a combined total of 18 Oscar nominations. However, only one of those nominations resulted in a win (Jennifer Lawrence won for Silver Linings Playbook), which is quite interesting. Nonetheless, any new film from Russell is immediately an Oscar favorite and Joy looks to be no different. Joy was announced a few months ago, but for whatever reason, I'm only writing about it now. It tells the story of struggling entrepreneur Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop and became hugely successful. Jennifer Lawrence will play the lead role and Russell will write and direct the film. It's set for a December 25, 2015 release from 20th Century Fox. Any new Russell film is immediately of interest to me (I gave both Silver Linings and Hustle an "A+", my highest grade), so I'm very excited to see what he does with this story. Expect it to be a heavy favorite until people see it. After that, anything can happen.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is not quite the Academy favorite that Russell is, but he's had some success with the Oscars in the past (his 2006 film Babel was nominated for several awards). However, the fact that his new film, The Revenant, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy is really the big draw. According to Rope of Silicon, the film will tell the story of a fur trapper who is mauled and left for dead, before heading out to exact his revenge on the men who betrayed him. This is a dark and interesting premise and I really think that it could make for an interesting film. 20th Century Fox is set to distribute the film, but according to Rope of Silicon, it looks like Megan Ellison and AnnaPurna are going to have to join in. Inarritu wants to shoot in sequence, which will add an additional $7 million to the budget. Fox doesn't want to do that, so Ellison is going to have to step in. That's a ridiculous move by Fox because with a star like DiCaprio, this movie will surely make back its money. The film is currently set for a December 25, 2015 release date. You can also check out Birdman, the next film from Inarritu, which will be hitting theaters on October 17, 2014.

Finally, it looks like the final quarter of 2015 will also see the debut of a new Martin Scorsese picture. His latest endeavor is Silence, and it's the story of two Jesuit priests who face persecution as they travel Japan in the 17th Century. The spectacular cast includes Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Ken Watanabe and Adam Driver and Scorsese is planning to shoot the film soon for release in November 2015, according to entertainment site Collider. The film was without a distributor for a while, but according to Deadline, Paramount (the studio that worked with Scorsese on The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo and Shutter Island) has picked up the film. I would assume that production will begin on this one in the near future. All in all, the 2015 fall season is looking spectacular and I can't wait to see all these films.

Snowpiercer review

The sci-fi genre has been around for ages, but I would argue that we've seen more great sci-fi films in the last decade or so than we have in any other stretch of time (excluding the late 1970's and early 1980's, when Star Wars, Blade Runner, ET and Brazil were released). Inception, Gravity, Edge of Tomorrow, The World's End, Super 8, Avatar (I don't love it, but a lot of people do), District 9, Star Trek- the list goes on and on. And now, I believe that we can add another title to that list. Snowpiercer is a beautiful piece of cinema, a rousing action spectacle and a compelling political film that is as entertaining as it is disturbing. The performances are stellar and the storytelling is brilliant. Director Boon Jong-Ho hits it out of the park with this film. It's one of the best films of 2014.

One of the coolest things about Snowpiercer is that it drops you right into the action. There's a little bit of exposition about the catastrophe that caused the demise of Earth, but other than that, there is very little set-up in general. The basic story is that, because of global warming, mankind released this gas into the air to cool down the Earth. Unfortunately, it backfired and a new ice age began. The only humans that survived were put on a giant train, which is set on a track that circumnavigates the Earth. The rich passengers are in the front of the train and the poor passengers are stuck in the back. This is where we jump in.

Curtis (Chris Evans) is a passenger in the tail section. He is undeniably the leader of the tail section and he is preparing for a revolution. His mentor and father figure, Gilliam (John Hurt) has planned this uprising with him for years and the revolt is about to begin. The tail section passengers are oppressed by the front and are often brutally punished. Curtis, Gilliam, Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer) plan to lead the passengers to the front of the train, where they will seize the engine from Wilford (Ed Harris), the owner and operator of the train. Curtis and friends execute the plan, but the disturbing nature of life on the train is slowly revealed as they make it to the front.

In a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, director George Miller detailed his plans for the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road. He described the film as an extended chase scene, where the characters are slowly revealed throughout the film. That sounds cool, but I'm afraid that Boon Jong-Ho beat him to the punch. Snowpiercer plays like an extended action scene most of the time and the only time it really slows down is for some of the best character moments I've seen in a film all year. This film begins with a revolution, which is quite the gutsy move. Most films like this would begin with about an hour of exposition about how terrible life is for the people in the train before the action begins. Not Snowpiercer. This film conveys all of that in twenty minutes. We see the suffering. It doesn't get beaten over our head, but we understand that life is awful for these people. We also get a feel for the characters. We understand their motives and their emotional struggles. All of this is done in twenty minutes. What brilliant filmmaking.

After that, the action begins and the film just doesn't stop. I would go into more details on what happens once the revolution starts, but that would ruin the fun. All I really need to say is that Snowpiercer is one of the best films of the year, a sci-fi film that makes you think while also wowing you with spectacle. It's disturbing, it's interesting, it's even darkly funny at times. Snowpiercer is simply a spectacular piece of cinema and it's one that will surely be remembered for a long, long time.

In spectacle-driven sci-fi films, you rarely see great performances. Snowpiercer changes that trend for the better. The acting in this film is incredibly brilliant. Chris Evans is the lead in this film and he is absolutely Oscar-worthy. He has an intensity about him in most scenes, but he's always a character you can relate to as an audience member. Evans also delivers a monologue towards the end of the film that is so haunting and frightening. He totally crushes it. It's the best scene of the movie and I would compare it to Robert Shaw's monologue on the boat in Jaws. It's that good.

Evans kills this performance, but he's not the only actor who turns in a spectacular performance. Tilda Swinton steals every scene that she's in as Mason, an evil representative from the front section. She fully commits to the role and it results in a charismatic, despicable performance. Jamie Bell also gives a fiery performance as Edgar, Curtis' right hand man. And Octavia Spencer has plenty of charisma as Tanya. Also delivering an impressive performance is Kang-ho Song, the Korean actor who plays the rebels' drugged out technical expert. In general, the cast is terrific and they all add a lot to the film.

The performances are great, but all the actors are helped by the terrific script and the brilliant direction of Boon Jong-ho. Seriously, this guy is a thoughtful, visionary filmmaker who has quite a bit to say. I would love to see what he could do with a bigger budget. He directs this film with such an urgency at times and such a meditative calmness at other times. He knows how to make a thrilling action scene and he knows how to do it well. He also knows how to create crisp dialogue that pops off the screen. Unlike Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (still liked the movie, but not as much as everyone else did), the quiet moments are interesting and I was really able to invest in these characters. I haven't seen any of Boon Jong-ho's other films, but I definitely will be checking them out after this one.

The action scenes are very practical, but they all have a creative twist to them. There's very little CGI on the train and most of the action scenes involve close combat. And boy are they thrilling. Seriously, there are some really terrific moments in this film. A massive fight scene between the soldiers for the front section and the tail passengers is brilliant realized and it effectively uses shaky-cam to capture the chaos of the moment. Another brilliant setpiece takes place in a sauna. Typically, I love music to intensify fight scenes, but the fight that takes place in the sauna needs no additional intensity. It is an insane scene from start to finish and is simply extraordinary. I could mention a few others, but I think you get my point.

The technical aspects of this movie are so, so good. This movie cost around $40 million to make, but it looks infinitely better than some Hollywood movies that cost $150 million. Each section of the train has its own distinct look and I wouldn't be surprised to see the production design team get some consideration during awards season. They certainly deserve it. And the cinematography by Hong Kyung-pyo is also splendid. All of the action scenes are captured so well and the film has a grimy look that is enhanced by the camera work. Well done.

Snowpiercer definitely works effectively as a whole, but some of the individual scenes in this movie are amazing. There's a scene in a classroom that took my breath away. It was so well-structured and so horrific that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It all builds up to a terrific action beat that blew my mind. Also, the final forty minutes of this film are so completely compelling and so thematically rich. It really raises some deep questions that I found to be entirely interesting. Not to mention the fact that the acting in those scenes is superb and that the writing is even better. Just plain fantastic.

Snowpiercer is without a doubt one of my favorite movies of the year. I rented it on VOD, so thankfully I had a chance to watch it twice. The first time I watched it, I knew I had just seen something special. However, I was a bit thrown off by the structure of the film. I didn't expect the revolution to take place so quickly, but honestly, when I watched the film again, I knew that it worked. You get a little bit of a set-up and then it's time to start the real story. This movie wastes no time and that's what makes it so effective and so memorable. I could nitpick a few things, but I'm not going to. This is a masterpiece of science fiction, a terrific, well-acted film with big, disturbing ideas and a lot of beautiful action. One of the best movies of the year.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A                                              (9.6/10)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' impresses with $73 million, 'Boyhood' stuns in five theaters at weekend box office

After a lackluster Fourth of July weekend that saw three new releases disappoint, the box office came roaring back to life this weekend with the arrival of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The sci-fi film opened with an impressive $73 million, which is almost $20 million more than its predecessor made in its opening weekend. That's quite the jump, and the "A-" Cinemascore is encouraging as well. I didn't love the film, but it's a good movie that is certainly worth seeing in theaters, so the result isn't surprising to me. In addition to the huge domestic opening, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes took in $30.4 million overseas, for a total worldwide gross of $103.4 million. Look for this film to soar overseas and take in a boatload of cash.

Transformers: Age of Extinction finished in second place again this weekend with $16.5 million. The action blockbuster dropped nearly 56% this weekend, which is not very good. However, Age of Extinction has already grossed $209 million. A finish around $250 million is in the cards, which is a massive disappoint for this franchise, considering that none of the Transformers films have ever grossed less than $300 million in the US. However, Age of Extinction's worldwide total stands at $752.5 million, the highest worldwide gross for any film this year. Even with a lackluster domestic result, the Transformers franchise is not slowing down any time soon.

Warner Bros.' Tammy ended up in third place this weekend with $12.9 million. The Melissa McCarthy comedy dropped only 40% this weekend, despite an awful Cinemascore. The film has now taken in $57.3 million and will likely push its way to $90 million. In fourth place, 22 Jump Street stayed strong with $6.7 million. The R-rated comedy has been in theaters for a full month now and its total domestic gross currently stands at $171.9 million. A final total around $185 million is probable.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 took a lighter drop this weekend, finishing in fifth place with $5.8 million. The big-budget disappointment has now made $152 million and will tap out with around $170 million. Such a shocking result for what was supposed to be the biggest film of the summer. Relativity's Earth to Echo held on pretty well in its second weekend, finishing in sixth place with $5.5 million. The low budget family adventure has now grossed $24.5 million. Sony's Deliver Us From Evil took seventh place with $4.7 million, which was enough to raise its total to $25 million. That's a disappointing result for what could have been the surprise horror hit of the summer.

Disney's Maleficent is still hanging onto eighth place and this weekend it added $4.1 million to its total. The fantasy film has now grossed $221.9 million. A final gross around $230 million is likely. The Weinstein Company's Begin Again grabbed $2.9 million in ninth place this weekend, which is a pretty solid total. The low-budget musical drama has taken in $5.2 million so far and will likely spread through word of mouth in the coming weeks. And finally, Jersey Boys rounded out the top ten with $2.5 million. The musical biopic has now grossed $41.7 million.

Also, in limited release, Richard Linklater's epic drama Boyhood, which tracks the life of a young boy for 12 years, took in $359,000 in five theaters. That's a per-screen average of $71,800. Quite impressive. The IFC films release will expand in the coming weeks. In addition to that, Radius-TWC's Snowpiercer took in $677,000 in 356 theaters. The film has grossed $2.6 million so far, which is far too little. Granted, VOD numbers aren't available, but I'm here to tell you that this is one of the best films of the year. Please go see it.

Next weekend sees the release of Planes: Fire and Rescue, Sex Tape, The Purge: Anarchy and the limited expansion of Boyhood. Here are my predictions:

1. Planes: Fire and Rescue- $39.5 million
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes- $34.3 million
3. The Purge: Anarchy- $27.6 million
4. Sex Tape- $20 million
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction- $7.9 million
6. Tammy- $7.8 million
7. 22 Jump Street- $3.6 million
8. How To Train Your Dragon 2- $3 million
9. Earth to Echo- $2.9 million
10. Begin Again- $2.7 million