June 27, 2014

Scratch Your Giant Fake Head Over The FRANK Trailer

Underneath that giant fake noggin is none other than Michael Fassbender.

Yes to all of this.

Aubrey Plaza Will Eat Your Face In This LIFE AFTER BETH Trailer

There are many reasons I'm glad that I gave Parks & Recreation another shot after that terrible first season, not the least of which is surly comic genius of Aubrey Plaza.  Her character, April Ludgate, might seem one-note at first blush, but Plaza brings a lot of heart to someone who almost never smiles.  Plus just about everything she says absolutely kills me.

Plaza has been quietly putting together a nice little feature resume as well, doing strong work in Colin Trevorrow's Safety Not Guaranteed and starring in the awkward teen sex comedy The To Do List, which is high on my To Watch List.  Later this summer she'll be starring in Life After Beth, another cute zombie comedy in which she plays a girl who dies and then comes back as a zombie of sorts.  It's an interesting take on the genre - she's not mindless nor does she sport a lot of decaying flesh.  But over time her cravings for dude-flesh become stronger and prove troublesome for her boyfriend (Dane DeHaan) and her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon).  And for you Criminal Minds fans, there's even an appearance by the dreamy Dr. Spencer Reid, perhaps as some sort of jumpsuited zombie hunter?

That last image of Plaza turtleshelling herself while chained to an oven is simply outstanding.

Life After Beth gets a limited theatrical run this August and a VOD release a few weeks prior, if you're into that sort of thing.

Fuck Yeah! PACIFIC RIM 2 Will Happen in 2017! Plus An Animated Series!

The apocalypse will be cancelled.  Again.

Pacific Rim was my favorite movie of last summer, without question.  It's in extremely heavy rotation at our house, both because we bought the blu-ray as soon as it was available and because it's been playing on HBO about 4 times a day for months now.  It's essentially become our default programming choice, whether it's watching the movie the whole way through, having something on in the background while cooking dinner or just killing 25 minutes between other activities.  Why American audiences didn't turn out for this thing in droves, (yet Transformers 4 will likely emerge as the highest grossing/most terrible movie of the summer) I will simply never understand.

Fortunately the rest of the world has much better taste than us, as Pacific Rim was a MASSIVE hit overseas. And since the release of the first film, Legendary Pictures has vacated the Warner Brothers lot and set up shop over at Universal.  Those guys could use a big franchise and it looks like Pacific Rim will be it.  Director Guillermo del Toro released this brief YouTube announcement yesterday, confirming that we will be getting an animated series as well as a second film that will hit theaters April 7, 2017.

I am absurdly happy about this.  The world of Pacific Rim is so incredibly rich and detailed that it feels as if del Toro could literally take this thing in about 50 different directions, all equally badass.  And considering how the last film ended, with all the jaegers destroyed and the kaiju breach sealed, he's beholden to very little from a story standpoint.  In fact, I kind of hope that the next film takes place another ten years in the future, with a new cast and a new status quo.  Charlie Hunnam's Raleigh Becket was easily the weakest link of the first film, but he also feels totally replaceable.  In fact, the only characters that I really NEED to see return are Mako Mori and Hannibal Chau.

I'm equally excited for this animated series which will not only continue to flesh out the universe but also hopefully attract a loyal and younger following.  Pacific Rim might have disappointed at the box office, but I suspect that it's winning over more and more fans on blu-ray (and apparently HBO).  Getting a few years worth of further stories ramping up to the next film can only be a good thing.

Long live Gypsy Danger!

June 26, 2014

Get A Good Look At Tom Hardy As MAD MAX

About a year ago, Entertainment Weekly started showing up at my door despite my never having asked it to do so.  That can't be a good indicator of their current business model if they're just giving that shit away for free.  Poor, poor print media.  Your time is almost up.  Lately I've been getting notices saying that my unsolicited subscription was about to expire and I think last week's issue was the end of the line.  Which of course means that this week's issue actually contains something of interest to me.

George Miller started shooting Mad Max: Fury Road approximately a million years ago.  This was a project that was delayed and derailed more than a few times, but when he finally had a cut to show to Warner Brothers they apparently flipped for it, so much so that they actually gave Miller more money for additional shooting days to flesh out some of the automobile action.  Next May we'll actually get to see the fruits of Miller's labors, with Tom Hardy stepping into the Max Rockatansky role and Charlize Theron as (I believe) the villain Imperator Furiosa.  According to this Entertainment Weekly cover, her character has one arm.  You can tell because of their HILARIOUS caption, oddly floating out in the middle of the image.  Oh EW, you're so witty.

Thankfully this is not a reboot but a direct sequel to the first three Mad Max movies, all of which I finally watched during my year-long movie watching quest and none of which I have written about as of yet.  Because I am a lazy bastard.  I sort of assume that when it comes to the character's history, Miller will be glossing over much of the truly bizarre Beyond Thunderdome, particularly all the stuff with the weird child society and their airplane cult.  Then again, Miller is also the guy responsible for the giant barrel of crazy that is Babe: Pig In The City.  So who fucking knows.

Head over to EW to check out a handful of other photos and storyboard sketches.

June 25, 2014

"PREDATOR'S GOT NARDS!" Shane Black And Fred Dekker Will Revive PREDATOR Once More

It's been ages since I sat down and watched a Predator movie all the way through.  That's a situation I should seriously rectify, because at this point I'm starting to feel like my impression of the franchise has been distorted over time.  The first film is fantastic, but I feel like everything after that has been an exercise in diminishing returns.  Sure the creature design is iconic and the basic premise - a lone alien arrives in order to hunt down humans like some kind of intergalactic safari - is brilliantly simple.  But like so many B-franchises, the concept seems to have creatively run its course over the course of five entries despite the inclusion of Xenomorphs into their overall mythology.

So color me a little surprised at the announcement that none other than Shane Black has stepped up to pump life back into the series.  Following the success of Iron Man 3, Black has been developing a handful of different projects including a potential Doc Savage movie, so the fact that he's suddenly willing to jump into bed with the Predator (let that image roll around in your mind for a few minutes) implies that he must have a pretty strong notion of how to approach the character.  It's a little unclear whether this would be a reboot or a continuation, but since there isn't a whole lot of continuity between the films that point feels almost inconsequential. (UPDATE: Black told the folks at Collider yesterday that despite the initial reporting, the concept is not a reboot but "an inventive sequel.") The idea of Black, who actually played one of the commandos in the first filim, returning to this franchise in any capacity is already intriguing.  What's more exciting is that while Black will be directing and writing the treatment, the actual scripting will be done by none other than Fred Dekker, who collaborated with Black way back when on the classic monster team-up adventure The Monster Squad.

I honestly wonder what Black and Dekker (zing!) have up their sleeves story wise.  We've seen jungle Predators, arctic Predators, urban Predators...just seeing the same premise in a different location feels played out at this point.  We've seen them take on a more menacing threat in the form of Giger's Aliens, so what else is left?  I feel like it's got to be a pretty radical departure.  Maybe some kind of role reversal, where some lone crazed human travels to the Predator homeworld and hunts them instead.  Or maybe a Predator who teams up with a human to defend mankind?  We sort of saw that in AvP, but maybe this time the Predator can actually speak English?  A Predator/human buddy cop movie!

Call me, Hollywood.  I've got all sorts of good ideas.

Here Is Your First MOCKINGJAY Teaser

Lots of people (particularly my wife) have some VERY strong feelings about The Hunger Games.  I am not one of those people.  The first film is fairly dull and seems to focus on all the least interesting stuff, and while Catching Fire was a significant improvement, I still find myself struggling to muster up any genuine excitement for this franchise.  I'll grant you that Katniss Everdeen is a total badass and Jennifer Lawrence does great work in the role.  Plus I'll support most anything that introduces the idea of creepy dystopian sci-fi to new audiences.  But at the end of the day it's hard to shake the feeling that it's really the love triangle melodrama that's driving a lot of the interest here, relegating the weird future stuff as mere window dressing.  It's like trying to argue that Twilight converted teenage girls into fans of non-sparkly vampire movies.

But whatever.  I'm not trying to slag Hunger Games or its fans.  (And it's certainly a huge step up from Twilight.)  I think it's just fine and I expect the franchise will only get better as it comes to a close.  I'll certainly be seeing Mockingjay Part 1 when it hits theaters this fall and I'll probably enjoy it, at which point I will promptly forget all about this franchise until Part 2 comes out a year later.

Anyway, here's a creepy teaser trailer for all you folks who are waiting for this film with baited breath.  You can even watch it in 4K, if you are appropriately equipped!

I say the more devious Donald Sutherland we get, the better.  But that's a good rule for life in general.

June 24, 2014

READY PLAYER ONE Gets An Extra Life With Writer Zak Penn

The weather was beautiful this past weekend, so the wife and I walked to the beach that's conveniently located a mere two blocks from our apartment and features a lovely view of the planes taxing around the runways at Logan Airport.  After feasting upon a small mountain of fried clams, I pulled out my Kindle and finally set about the task of re-reading Ernie Cline's fantastic sci-fi novel Ready Player One.  It's an engrossing read to be sure and once again I find myself unable to put the thing down.  It only took me about ten pages before I found myself wondering whatever happened Warner Brothers' proposed film adaptation.

This morning that question was answered.  According to The Wrap, Zak Penn has been hired to do a rewrite of the original script by Cline and Eric Eason.  Warners won a significant bidding war for the project way back in 2010 and we haven't heard much about it since then.  But it seems that the studio is gearing up to shop the project around to directors this fall.  In a perfect world they'd capitalize on Disney's colossal fuck up and hire Edgar Wright for this, post haste.  Sadly, I doubt we live in that world.

Penn has writing credits on a number of geek-friendly properties that are not exactly what you'd call highly regarded by their target audiences, stuff like X-Men: The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk and Elektra.  But he also wrote PCU and has a story credit on The Avengers, for what it's worth.  That geek sensibility is crucial when it comes to Ready Player One, which centers around a teenager who navigates through a virtual reality simulation (the Oculus Rift is modeled after Cline's OASIS) searching for clues that will lead him to a vast fortune hidden by the simulation's creator.  The virtual world is actually a whole universe made up of different regions drawing on popular sci-fi, fantasy and video game properties; the Firefly universe resides next to the Star Wars universe, which neighbors Star Trek, Dungeons & Dragons and Lord Of The Rings.  

The whole thing is a pastiche of every great genre franchise in the past 30 years, which makes any proposed film adaptation an intellectual property nightmare.  According to Cline, he had such a miserable experience with his first film Fanboys that he intentionally wrote Ready Player One as something that no one would ever try to adapt for the big screen, but anyone who's read the book can tell you just how incredible it could potentially be if someone could somehow manage to pull it off.  Plus I expect that folks like Nathan Fillion would totally be up for a fun cameo.

I had the chance to meet Cline briefly at South By Southwest this year and he's both down to Earth and totally hilarious.  He signed a copy of the book for me, asking "Star Trek or Star Wars?"  You can see my answer below, as well as an extra postscript he added once I showed him my then days-old Ghostbusters tattoo.  If he trusts Penn to take a pass at the script (and Penn was apparently his choice after meeting him during the recent New Mexico excavation for long lost E.T. Atari cartridges) then I'm inclined to trust Cline.  Besides, if this project ever does come to fruition, its success will truly rest on both the choice of director (seriously though, Edgar Wright) and what properties the studio can gain the rights to feature.  If they half-ass it, then what's the point?

The Latest TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Trailer Is Dubstep-tastic

Sweet Jeebus.

There are so many baffling choices in this new trailer for the Michael Bay-produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that my head is spinning.  I honestly can't tell if whoever cut this thing together is trying to make me laugh or not.  Like the moment when Splinter warns the turtles that they're about to face their most dangerous threat to date, and then it cuts to a shot of a dapper looking William Fichtner.  Hilarious!  I also can't tell if Shredder, with his giant Freddy-esque knife hands is actually supposed to be Fichtner inside some kind of Iron Man-style armored suit, or if he's actually just a nine foot tall robot.  Will Arnett definitely refers to robotic samurai, so is he talking about Shredder or the Foot Clan?  If we're gonna go back to the cartoon canon where all the Foot Soldiers were actually androids, well I'd be VERY okay with that.  Mostly because, in my head, it paves the way for Krang to show up in the sequel.  If we're really lucky, it'll turn out that Whoopi Goldberg was secretly Krang the whole time!

I do like the crack about the turtles not being aliens, but by the time the dubstep kicks in, it becomes clear that this movie simply isn't built for me and that's fine.  The original live-action movie is one of those things that I can still recite word for word with all the right inflection in place ("Regular?  Or menthol?") and I'm perfectly fine revisiting my DVD box set every few years and reveling in the nostalgia.  But I also can't begrudge today's youngsters from having the opportunity to enjoy the sublime pleasures of talking karate reptiles in a way that might be more accessible to their own sensibilities.

Somebody call me when Baxter Stockman turns into a giant talking fly.

Podcast Episode 19: Jenny Slate Shines In OBVIOUS CHILD

"Your head is spinning because you played Russian roulette with your vagina."
It's a hell of a thing, seeing people you know in real life appearing on the giant silver screen of your local multiplex.  For me it's always a little bittersweet, as it's a sharp reminder of my past life in the entertainment industry, but that doesn't mean I'm incapable of appreciating the success of my peers.  That appreciation comes even easier when it's a movie as good as Obvious Child, in which my former high school speech teammate Jenny Slate plays Donna, a struggling Brooklyn comedian who loses both her boyfriend and her day job, only to inadvertently get knocked up by arguably the nicest human on planet Earth.  Slate is terrifically funny as always, but she also imbues Donna with a tremendous sense of heart and grace.  There's a reason that multiple reviews have labeled this as a star-making turn for her; it's not easy to be graceful while calling someone "pee-farter".

What sets Obvious Child apart from films like Knocked Up or Juno is the no-nonsense approach it takes to the subject matter.  Donna quickly decides that an abortion is the only appropriate course of action and from that point on there's no emotional hand-wringing or second-guessing.  Abortion is presented as what it is, a perfectly safe and reasonable response that's been undertaken by millions of American women.  Donna's decision certainly isn't humdrum, but it's also not "the most important thing that will define her life forever."  It's dramatic and emotional without being a statement on her personhood or the morality of our society at large.  In that way Obvious Child feels incredibly refreshing, taking all the bluster and posturing out of a hot button political issue and instead focusing on the human reality, reminding us that there are real people at the heart of the matter that are too often overlooked.

Bart, Jamie and I discuss the many pros and cons of the film in the latest episode of the podcast, along with a brief trip down the rabbit hole of hilarity that is Movieguide.org's staid Christian film reviews.  We also ponder the implications of Rian Johnson taking over the new Star Wars trilogy, celebrate dodging the bullet of Father Of The Bride 3 and lament yet another pitch for the ill-advised Ghostbusters 3.  We forgot to talk about it at the end of the recording, but next week we'll be tackling the latest Transformers film.  Hopefully we'll make it through the whole thing without gauging our eyes out.


June 20, 2014

Behold The Final Trailer For DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Just a few days ago I was espousing the virtues of ignoring late-stage marketing for highly anticipated franchise films.  And yet, here's the third trailer and final trailer Matt Reeves' Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and it's just about perfect in every way.  Weta's effects work to create the apes continues to astound and I absolutely love the dark turn this franchise is taking, mirroring some of the later entries in the original series of films.  I've been slowly rewatching them over the last few weeks and having a blast in the process.  I think the series peaks a bit with Escape From Planet Of The Apes, which is nine kinds of entertaining for most of the running time before eventually dropping the floor out from under the audience in the final few minutes.  I'm hoping to squeeze in Conquest, Battle and Rise all before Dawn hits theaters.

Watch this trailer.  Or don't.  Either way, be sure to mark your calendar for July 11.  It's gonna be a highlight of the summer to be sure.

Rian Johnson Will Probably Take Over STAR WARS

Let's get right to the nuts of the thing.  According to the folks at Deadline, director Rian Johnson is being tapped to take over the main Star Wars trilogy, writing and directing Episodes VIII and IX once J.J. Abrams has completed his entry currently in production.  This is still technically unconfirmed, but I expect it'll be verified sooner rather than later.

I am incredibly torn.  On the one hand, Rian Johnson is a tremendous step up from Abrams, and that's coming from someone who's largely an Abrams fan.  All of Johnson's films are absolutely required viewing.  Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper...these are each impeccable films that are expertly crafted both on the page and on camera.  I'm excited at the prospect of Johnson directing a Star Wars film, but I'm absolutely ECSTATIC at the idea of Johnson writing a Star Wars film.  His scripts are all sharp, intelligent and most of all entertaining as hell.  And the guy's got geek cred oozing out of his ears.

On the other hand, I'm depressed at the thought of Johnson being stuck for the better part of the next decade laboring on a pair of giant studio films on which I expect he'll have very little creative leeway.  The main trilogy is going to be a HUGE moneymaker for Disney and they'll almost certain exert a crushing amount of control over this part of the franchise.  (see: Ant-Man.)  I'm excited that Johnson will get to play in the Star Wars sandbox, but I'd have rather seen him take on one of the standalone films where he'd have a bit more freedom get funky.  He'd fit in nicely with Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank.

Mostly I'm dismayed at the idea that we're not going to see an original Rian Johnson film until at least 2020.  That's an absolute travesty.  Then again, I'd be more than okay to see Johnson mainstays like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Noah Segan playing a couple of badass Jedi.

June 17, 2014

Podcast Episode 18: Yes, 22 JUMP STREET Breaks Through The Ceiling Of Shitty Comedy Sequels

I'll keep this short and sweet.  You should really go see 22 Jump Street because it is funny as shit.  In fact, I think it's set a crazy high bar for summer comedies that I don't see anyone else clearing this season.  (Sex Tape?  Jason Segel, you're better than that.)  Hill and Tatum are an amazing and unlikely comic duo and if we're lucky this is just the start of a long running theatrical bromance that will stand the test of time.

Comedy sequels are almost invariably a disappointment (I'm looking at you, Anchorman 2) and 22 Jump Street is actually the exception that proves the rule.  There's plenty of stuff that is simply preposterously funny on its own merits, like Channing Tatum's prolonged reaction when Jenko discovers who Schmidt's been sleeping with.  But what really puts the movie over the top into true brilliance is the way that it directly comments on the very nature of sequels themselves.  By the time we get to the closing credits, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller absolutely assassinate the idea of continuing the franchise any further while simultaneously eliciting some of the biggest laughs of the whole movie.  It's absolutely sublime.

Bart, Jamie and I discuss the movie along with the epic trailer for Birdman, as well as DC's as-yet-unconfirmed and insanely ambitious slate of upcoming titles.  You can also hear me get myself into domestic trouble once again.  I expect that to be a recurring feature of these podcasts from now until forever.

The UK Trailer for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Is The Last One I'll Watch

As much as we all like to shit on J.J. Abrams for his Mystery Box bullshit, I do share his sentiment that too many films today oversaturate audiences when it comes to marketing.  We get four different trailers and a dozen various TV spots that collectively reveal somewhere in the neighborhood of a half hour of movie before you've ever walked into the theater, and that certainly dilutes your sense of discovery when the movie finally unspools before your eyes.  It's for exactly that reason that I typically engage in a full on media blackout in the last month or two before the release of a big tentpole film.  I ignore YouTube links, I change the channel when an ad plays on TV...I've even been known to close my eyes, block my ears and softly hum through trailers that play when I'm seeing something else in the theater.  Usually a teaser and one full length trailer is enough to sell me on a movie and if I'm already on board at that point, I don't need to see anything else.

After today I'll be performing this same kabuki routine when it comes to Guardians Of The Galaxy, which is in a tight race with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes for my most anticipated movie of the summer.  I've been in the tank for this movie from the get-go and nothing I've seen has done anything to assuage my excitement.  This new international trailer is the first to give us a sense of Peter Quill's overall journey as well as our best taste to date of Rocket Racoon in action and I love everything about it.  Marvel's marketing machine is starting to seriously kick into high gear, having spent the last week releasing a series of character posters.  The best one is, unsurprisingly, the one with the gun-toting raccoon standing on the shoulders of a sentient tree person.

If you still need to be convinced that this movie is your cup of galactic tea, well then I feel sorry for you.  Maybe this will finally do the trick.

June 13, 2014

The Trailer For PREMATURE Is GROUNDHOG DAY Redux, Again.

Last week saw the premiere of Edge Of Tomorrow, best described as Groundhog Day in an alien warzone.  Now we have the trailer for Premature, best described as Groundhog Day in teenage boy's crotch.  I hope Harold Ramis is getting his royalty checks in afterlife.

The premise is simple: rather than restarting the day every time he dies or whenever the clock hits 6:00 AM, young Rob (John Karna) experiences a closed temporal loop whenever he has an orgasm.  Hijinks naturally ensue.  I had the good fortune to catch a screening of Premature at this year's SXSW and I was very pleasantly surprised.  This movie is gross and clever and just flat out funny.  Director Dan Beers has created something that far surpasses the expectations that are invariably set when you hear the description (made explicit in the trailer as if you couldn't connect the dots yourself) Groundhog Day meets American Pie.  It's also got a lot of heart and Karna is extremely winning as the lead.

Also, he's got a funny "O-face."

Helluva Deal! Grab The ALIEN Anthology Plus PROMETHEUS for $20

I have a serious problem when it comes to Amazon Blu-ray deals.  It seems like every day I stumble upon another one of my favorite movies on sale for a ludicrously low price.  Think I'm joking?  At the moment you can get Skyfall, Office Space, Reservoir Dogs, 3:10 To Yuma, The Way Way Back and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels all for $5 a pop.  Also, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is a shockingly accurate value assessment of that movie.*

Well today you can snag the box set of all four Alien films with a side order of Prometheus all for a mere twenty bones.  I'm not trying to be a shill for Amazon here, but that's just too good of a deal to pass up if you don't already own these movies.  And you really should.  I went years operating under the mistaken belief that these were simply monster movies set in outer space as opposed to the sci-fi masterpieces that they (mostly) are.  Twenty bucks would be a bargain if it was only for Alien and Aliens, easily the best of the bunch.  But Alien 3 is pretty interesting, Alien Resurrection is entertaining in that it contains a proto-version of Joss Whedon's Firefly crew, and Prometheus is absolutely beautiful if completely brain dead.  Either way it's only costing you $4.  

On top of all that, the Blu-ray transfers of all five films are simply stunning to behold.  You'd never know Alien was 35 years old by looking at it.  Here's the link.  Don't think, just click.

*Not entirely a criticism.  I enjoy that movie thoroughly, I just wouldn't pay more than $5 for it.

June 12, 2014

Holy Fuck This BIRDMAN Trailer


Michael Keaton as a burnt out actor famous for playing a superhero who may or may not be as crazy as the soundtrack to this trailer would imply.  All directed with jaw-dropping visual flair by the great Alejandro Inarritu (Babel, 21 Grams).  How is it possible that we're lucky enough to live in a universe where this kind of movie is allowed to exist?  The only thing missing from this trailer is a good shot of the Birdman suit itself.

They should have sent a poet.

James Franco And Seth Rogen vs Kim Jong-Un in THE INTERVIEW Trailer

I was already a fan of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, but after This Is The End (arguably the funniest movie of 2013) the two are now permanently in my good graces.  Any movie they feel like making together, I'm more than willing to show up.

This fall they're giving us The Interview and the premise is kind of wonderful.  James Franco and Seth Rogen play a tabloid TV host and his producer who are granted a rare interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.  The two are subsequently recruited by the CIA to assassinate the Glorious Leader.  Yes please.

Was that a nuclear missile taking off?  I love that there's some decent scope to this story, and I expect some serious shit will go down in the third act.  I also love that the Korean text on the propaganda poster above apparently reads, "Don't trust these moron Americans."

Franco forever.

June 11, 2014

The Trailer For DUMB AND DUMBER TO Tickles My Giblets

I'm always rooting for the Farrelly Brothers.  They are some of the funniest guys I've ever met and I even got the chance to work with them (as a lowly PA) on Fever Pitch.  They've had a rough go of it the last few years, having spent the better part of a decade developing a Three Stooges movie that wasn't exactly well received by audiences.  But those audiences were dumb audiences who I'm pretty sure had never actually seen a Three Stooges short before in their lives.  Sure the Jersey Shore bit feels instantly dated and lame, but I can fast forward through that bit.  The movie is full of the exact kind of broad, wince-inducing physical comedy that sustained me through childhood and the three leads were almost spooky in their portrayal of Larry, Moe and Curly.  Chris Diamantopoulos is utterly unrecognizable in the best way possible.  If you're a true Stooges fan, it's a must see.

Now the Farrellys have returned to what's probably their best film, Dumb And Dumber.  Harry and Lloyd are back once again, 20 years older and just as ridiculous as ever.  I kinda dig this trailer.  There are a couple of bits that cracked me up, I like goofy Jeff Daniels, and Jim Carrey looks to be back in his physical comedy element.  Then again, I don't know if he can still clear the bar set by Leonardo DiCaprio in the quaalude scene in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Check out the Shaggin' Wagon in the poster below.

Once upon a time, there was a Dumb And Dumber prequel and it was very unfunny.  Except for that one scene with Bob Saget.  That shit gets me every time.

June 10, 2014

Vincent D'Onofrio Is Your New Kingpin

Marvel and Netflix's upcoming Daredevil series continues to take shape.  First they changed showrunners, then they found their Matt Murdock in the form of Charlie Cox.  Now we learn that Vincent D'Onofrio, he of the Eggar Suit, will be stepping into the role of Kingpin.  And there was much rejoicing.

D'Onofrio is one of our strangest working actors and his presence as the imposing gangster/tycoon is now guaranteed to be anything but boring.  Michael Clarke Duncan's portrayal of the character was one of the few real bright spots of Ben Affleck's Daredevil but I expect D'Onofio's version will bear little to no resemblance, if for no other reason than the fact that he's not a seven foot tall black man.  Duncan was a somewhat significant departure for the character, who has traditionally been drawn as a tremendously fat and balding white guy.  I really wouldn't put it past old Vinny D. to shave his head for the role.  If they gave him a fat suit, I might die of ecstasy.

If you want a taste of what's (hopefully) to come, check out The Salton Sea starring Val Kilmer.  D'Onofrio plays a drug dealer with no nose named Pooh Bear who lives in the desert and stages recreations of the Kennedy assassination using pigeons.  It's exactly as awesome as it sounds.

Podcast Episode 17: Dangling From The EDGE OF TOMORROW

Against all odds, Tom Cruise seems to have found himself as the underdog of the summer.

I almost feel sorry for Cruise at this point.  The guy's personal life could be generously described as "suspect," and more bluntly described as "nine kinds of crazy."  He's certainly toned down his behavior since famously jumping up and down on Oprah's couch and subsequently arguing with Matt Lauer about the evils of psychiatry, but that shit stays with people and makes it hard to distinguish his on screen performance from his off screen antics.  I get it but I don't agree with it, mostly because I couldn't give less of a shit what an actor does in his personal life short of committing a crime.  Cruise can believe in all the Thetans and Xenus he wants and I'll still go see him in the theater so long as he keeps giving layered and compelling performances.  And rest assured that despite his advancing years, Tom Cruise has not lost a step.  Sure he might not disappear into a role like some of his peers, but the guy still has undeniable charisma and is the living embodiment of sheer, blunt-force entertainment.

In truth, it's been a while since he had a resounding box office success outside of the Mission: Impossible franchise.  But he hasn't been solely responsible for any huge bombs either, leaving him as one of the few stars left whose mere presence can bring just about any movie he wants a guaranteed green light.  (Will Smith is still being dragged kicking and screaming out of this club.)  Personally, I love that Cruise is utilizing his star power to make interesting, thought-provoking sci-fi spectacles.  It's like we can see his inner nerd showing, and that's incredibly endearing to me.  Last summer Cruise starred in Oblivion, a visual feast that proved to be mostly empty calories.  But I at least appreciated the effort.  Based on the somewhat lackluster marketing, you'd be forgiven for writing off this summer's unfortunately titled Edge Of Tomorrow as simply more of the same.  You would, however, be wrong.

Edge Of Tomorrow, which can essentially be boiled down to "Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers" is a surprising amount of fun.  Cruise brings a lot of depth to the role of William Cage, a military PR shill who's been drafted into service against an alien horde and gains the ability to relive the day of an epic D-Day-esque battle over and over again.  But he's nothing without Emily Blunt's Rita Vrataski, a.k.a. The Angel Of Verdun, a.k.a. The Full Metal Bitch.  How big of a badass is she?  She carries a sword made out of a helicopter blade.  Yeah.   Cruise is good, but it's Blunt who really elevates the proceedings, crafting a character whose hardened exterior protects a bruised psyche and a shattered history.  We learn very few real facts about her, but every glimpse we get is utterly fascinating and leaves the audience wanting more.  The same can be said of the film's setting.  Much like Vrataski, we don't get to see a whole lot of life outside the embattled beaches of France, but director Doug Liman has managed to craft a world that feels lived in and left me curious about the events happening off screen.  What would be going on in the States during the collapse of Europe?  I imagine there would be more than a few refugees taking up residence...

Most importantly, the time loops are extremely well executed, utilizing repetition to great effect both in terms of action and humor.  Much like Bryan Singer in Days Of Future Past, Liman is able to mine a lot of fun out of the ability to keep killing his characters in violent and surprising ways and then resetting the clock to bring them back for more.  Many have been quick (and correct) to praise the film for perfectly capturing the feeling of playing a video game in which you have to learn the enemy's movements by rote memory, frequently fucking it all up and committing suicide in order to start over.  You might think that would grow dull after a while, but the script by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez & John-Henry Butterworth keeps the audience smartly off balance, never allowing us to be sure whether we're seeing Cage perform some task for the first time or the 37th time.

I've seen a lot of criticism for the film's ending, and while I think it's a fairly big miscalculation, it's not enough to completely derail the film.  The word of mouth is overwhelmingly positive, and yet Edge Of Tomorrow finished a distant third in its opening weekend behind YA sensation The Fault In Our Stars and Disney's Maleficent.  Those target audiences are certainly very different demographics, and yet with 22 Jump Street and Transformers looming on the horizon, it seems all but certain that Tom Cruise's latest will at most be regarded a minor success.  That's a shame.  It deserves much better.

Episode 17 of the podcast features myself, Bart and Jamie chatting about all things Edge Of Tomorrow, including Tom Cruise fatigue, Emily Blunt badassery, fully realized action hero homo-eroticism and the film's somewhat nonsensical ending.  We also discuss the apparent conclusion of the Ant-Man director drama, Josh Trank joining the Star Wars universe, the merits of the Wachowskis and the feminist failings of Stripes.