Month: June 2017

‘Jurassic World’ sequel gets a title

After Jurassic World‘s one through three, Universal decided to shake things up for their fourth film and call it Jurassic World. It starred Chris Pratt, hot off the heels of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ron Howard’s daughter, who’s just plain hot. The film went on to gross over a billion dollars worldwide and invigorated the seemingly fossilized franchise with new life.

Obviously a sequel was a sure thing. What wasn’t a sure thing, however, was the title. Would Universal return to the time-honored numbering system and call it “Jurassic World 2?” No. It had to be more epic than “world.”

After a boardroom of Universal executives quickly shot down “Jurassic Universe,” they settled for a subtitle. Thus, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was born. Today Universal revealed the first official poster. Check it out!

 world

Thoughts

A poster should tell you everything you need to know about a movie with a single image. Looking at this, I can tell it’s definitely a Jurassic Park movie. Bravo, marketing team!

Seriously though, the familiar emblem gives me the sense that this film is going to be more of the same but the slightly darker color pallet in addition to the photoshopped embers tell me this film is going to be a shade darker, which is in line with what we’ve heard from the film so far.

That said, the idea of hanging this up on my wall doesn’t excite me too much. How about you guys? What do you think about not only this teaser poster but also the official title for this sequel? Let us know in the comments below!

Ron Howard steps aboard ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo spinoff

Star Wars is more popular now than ever. With the current trend of cinematic world building, moviegoers have been coming out in mass not only to see the main episodic installments but also to support the new standalone entries. If you don’t think so, see last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which grossed more than a billion dollars worldwide.

With that kind of financial support from fans, the answer is an easy “Yes” to the question “Will they make another one?” In fact, the next spinoff set in a galaxy far, far away will center around a young Han Solo and is currently deep into principal photography. That’s the actual filming part for you not in the know.

Also for those of you not in the know, dynamic directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie, 21 & 22 Jump Street) were in the midst of shooting the bloody thing from a script they co-wrote with Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan when President of LucasFilm Kathleen Kennedy fired them. That news came two days ago and almost immediately LucasFilm had a shortlist of replacement directors.

Rumor had it that atop this shortlist was none other than Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Rush). Well, it appears those rumors are true. As of today, The Hollywood Reporter is– well, reporting– that Howard has indeed landed the job as the new pilot for the Millennium Falcon. Principal photography is scheduled to continue for three-and-a-half more weeks with five weeks of reshoots planned.

The young Han Solo film features Alden Ehrenreich as the iconic space outlaw, Donald Glover as frenemy Lando Calrissian, and Woody Harrelson as Solo’s mentor. The film also stars Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton. So far the release date has not been pushed back and is still slated for a May 25, 2018 release.

Thoughts

Howard is a safe bet for LucasFilm. At this point in the game, it’s apparent Kathleen Kennedy and company’s goal is salvaging what they’ve built with Lord and Miller. Howard is veteran and a consummate professional. He’ll be able to come in and get the job done without ruffling any proverbial feathers. Howard’s spent most of his life in the studio system and even won himself a couple of Oscars on different sides of the camera so he knows how to play ball.

Also, there’s a lot of speculation and hoopla being made about how exactly LucasFilm will credit the direction of this film and understandably so. This is, after all, an unprecedented moment in movies. If I had to put money on it, I’d say that Ron Howard will get the directing credit while Lord and Miller will get the directing credit.

Obviously there isn’t an example I can point to as to why I think this will be the case, but it kind of makes sense. Lord and Miller were fired from the project after all and Howard could go back during reshoots and change a lot of the pair’s original vision.

That’s just us, though. What do you all think about this? How should LucasFilm credit the direction on this film and what do you think about Ron Howard taking over? Sound off in the comments below! We want to hear from you.

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Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is dense and dumb

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Stanley Tucci

Synopsis: Humans and Transformers are at war, Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth (IMDb).             

Rating: PG-13

Year: 2017

Thankfully, Hollywood averted a looming writers’ strike back in May. So can somebody please explain why it still feels like nobody bothered showing up to the writer’s room for Transformers: The Last Knight?

I get gruff for it, but I actually enjoy the first live-action Transformers movie from a decade ago. It has a good understanding of itself and never takes itself too seriously. Like its animated source material, it whole-heartedly embraces the ridiculousness of giant, alien robots turning into cars and fighting each other. Most importantly, though, it features a coherent story with somewhat relatable characters, which is something the other films seriously lack.

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It’s sad then to see that Bay seems uninterested in addressing this long-standing critique of the series in ‘The Last Knight’ (that or he’s completely oblivious). Again the emphasis for Bay is on beautifully framed action set pieces and not the cartoonishly dull characters who occupy them.

If you care about Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager at all during this movie, chances are it’s because you saw the previous film. Here Cade’s a shell of his former self. Instead of organically developing through character decisions, it feels like he is being artificially manipulated through an indecipherable narrative via convenient, clunky dialogue. It’s obvious by Wahlberg’s undying deer in the headlights look that even he’s not sure what’s going on. That’s no mark against Marky Mark; rather, it speaks to how dense and dumb the script is.

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Adding insult to injury, Bay has miraculously managed to annoy me with Sir Anthony Hopkins, one of my all-time favorite actors. He plays the head of a mysterious organization in charge of keeping safe the secret history of the Transformers, although I couldn’t tell you why or how that’s done. Whatever their techniques, it seems the cat is out of the bag and Hopkins is out of his mind, or at least his character is: constantly babbling on and ceaselessly insulting everyone around him. Eventually, shaking my head became a reflex each time he opened his mouth.

Wahlberg and Hopkins may be the sexy names atop the marquee, but Transformers has always been about Optimus Prime and the best stories always pit the Autobot leader against his nemesis Megatron. One of the more exciting additions to the cast is Frank Welker, who returns to voice the dominate Decepticon for the first time in this live-action run (with no explanation for the character’s apparent resurrection). Alongside Peter Cullen, there is novelty in hearing the two original voices together again but neither one gets significant screen time.

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Like everyone else in this movie, the pair are unfortunate victims of an over-bloated script that doesn’t much bother itself with what makes the most sense story-wise. Major characters move around the world with no explanation as to how, major damage from epic fight scenes just disappear, and looming conflicts are easily explained away as if they never happened. After a numbing while of exposure, I began to question my own competency.

Despite his blatant disregard for these characters or their story, Bay knows how to shoot action. This is readily apparent throughout these films, ‘The Last Knight’ included. The problem is that most of it becomes digital noise because we’re not invested in the outcome and we’re not invested in the outcome because either we don’t care about the characters or we don’t spend much time with the ones we do care about.

Grade: F

What did you all think of Transformers: The Last Knight? Or did you give up on the franchise a long time ago? Let us know in the comments below!

 

LucasFilm Fires Directors of ‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff Mid-Production

In yet another gut punch, Variety is reporting that President of LucasFilm Kathleen Kennedy has fired Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller during the production of the currently untitled Han Solo spinoff film. The project started filming back in January and still has a few weeks left to go. Kennedy has stated that a new director will be announced shortly but no names were mentioned as possible replacements.

Originally, both parties were citing “creative differences” as the source of the split. However, Variety is now reporting that “A person with knowledge of the production” has come forward, saying the “chemistry” between the directors and producer was “never right.”

The source goes on to say that Lord and Miller also clashed with Lawrence Kasdan, their co-writer and executive producer on the film. After apparently being hired for their “vision and distinctive brand of filmmaking,” it appears neither of the head honchos behind the project were fans of the pair’s shooting style or the way they interacted with the actors.

Lord and Miller have carved out a pretty good spot for themselves inside the studio system by writing and directing such hits as The LEGO Movie and the rebooted 21 Jump Street movies.

Daniel Day-Lewis Retires From Acting

This is neither a drill nor a joke. Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis is retiring from acting. According to Variety, Day-Lewis’ spokesperson had this to say:

Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject.

At the age of 60, Daniel Day-Lewis leaves behind an unparalleled legacy. Not only was he nominated for five best actor Oscars, but the performer is currently the only person to win three. He first won back in 1989 for My Left Foot. His second win came off the heels of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood in 2007. He most recently won for his portrayal of the sixteenth President of the United States in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

The actor recently wrapped production on Phantom Thread, his second collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson. Not much is known about the film other than it is a drama set in the world of fashion amidst 1950’s London.

Thoughts

In our opinion, Daniel Day-Lewis is the single greatest actor of all time and after today movies will never be the same. Though no reason has been given for the actor’s departure, we hope all is well and wish him the best going forward. Thank you, Daniel Day-Lewis, for all you have given us as film fans and we look forward to seeing Phantom Thread!

Top 7 movie dads of (relatively) recent memory!

Movie dads have been offering moviegoers words of wisdom for as long as there have been movies. It’s unfortunate then that, over the years, many of the more memorable film fathers haven’t exactly been the best fathers. This goes for the likes of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, Uncle Buck in Uncle Buck, and even Gru in the Despicable Me movies. Sure, all three earned our affection and the affection of their kiddies in the end, but their initial– let’s say–lack of investment in fatherhood keeps them from joining the upper echelon of cinema caretakers.

So in recognition of Father’s Day, we’d like to shine the spotlight on some of the more recent dads in movie memory. Each can teach us a valuable lesson about what it means to be a great parent. Without further ado, here are the best patriarchs of millennial motion picture:

7.) Mr. Incredible (aka Bob Parr), The Incredibles (2004)

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Originally I was conflicted about adding Mr. Incredible to this list. Of course little kids should see their dads as superheroes and the symbolism of Mr. Incredible actually being a superhero sounded too good to pass up. However, like the aforementioned film fathers, Bob Parr begins the movie in a selfish state of mind. Feeling purposeless in a world that’s outlawed superheroism, he begins moonlighting as one for a mysterious client as a way to fill the void. It not until later that he learns his lesson and rediscovers new purpose as a father. When all was said and done, Mr. Incredible’s epiphany was so powerful I felt compelled to include him: it’s not what you do that makes you a superhero; instead, it’s who looks up to you while you do it.

6.) Noah Levenstein, American Pie (1999)

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Noah Levenstein (aka “Jim’s Dad”) may not be the “coolest” dad on the block, but if your dad walked in on you in the midst of a compromising position atop your mother’s freshly baked apple pie, you’d want it to be him. Not only does Jim’s Dad approach these delicate situations from a place of understanding but he’s willing to take the blame for an embarrassing situation that otherwise would certainty have lead to a grounding (or at least a timeout). The best part is that he does so without ever losing his cool. Jim’s Dad is endlessly patient with Jim and patience drives great parenting.

5.) Jack Byrnes, Meet the Parents (2000)

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Good parents make sure their child is taken care. Great parents make sure their child will continue to be taken care of long after they’re gone. Thus it’s only natural for a parent to be skeptical about anyone their kid will be spending the rest of their life with. If you chipped Meet the Parents down to its basic plot, that’s what you’d find: a parent wanting to be absolutely sure that Ben Stiller is capable of doing this for his daughter. This specific scenario just so happens to be every boyfriend’s worst nightmare. Jack Byrnes is an ex-C.I.A. counterintelligence agent with the training and technology necessary to examine and cross-examine his future son-in-law. Every parent wishes they could be this thorough.

4.) Marlin, Finding Nemo (2004)

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R&B Artist Monica often sings about crossing the ocean for the person she loves. In Pixar’s Finding Nemo, Single Fish Father Marlin repeatedly puts his own life at risk literally doing just that in order to rescue his son Nemo from certain, shaky death. Not only does this sea-faring venture help teach kids that sometimes you have to break free from your comfort zone to achieve your goals, but the film doubles as a heartwarming metaphor for the responsibilities of parenthood and the importance of being there for your kids when they need it most.

3.) Bryan Mills, Taken (2008)

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Taken is every parent’s worst nightmare: their child takes a trip out of country only to be abducted by men with bad intentions. Thankfully, Bryan Mills possesses a particular set of skills that can help him track down and save his daughter, even if it involves the slow, methodical murder of every person involved with her disappearance. Unfortunately, not every dad is a specially trained ex-C.I.A. operative with an underground intelligence network, but one can understand doing whatever necessary to ensure the safety of your kids.

2.) Alfred Pennyworth, Batman Begins (2005)

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Much like the other parents on this list, Alfred Pennyworth is a dedicated father. Unlike the other parents on this list, however, there is no biological basis for the sense of love and duty he feels towards Master Bruce. If you haven’t somehow been made aware by any of the numerous interpretations of Batman over the years, Alfred is not Bruce’s blood relative. He’s the family butler who raised Bruce from childhood after the tragic murder of his parents. It’s a fictitious act of self-sacrifice that reflects the real world compassion of adoption. Instead of shipping Bruce off to an orphanage somewhere and spending the rest of his days  in the sand sipping Malibu from a coconut, Alfred takes Bruce on as his own son and in the process teaches us that sometimes water is thicker than blood.

1.) Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

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While Alfred’s compassion for his son very much plays out in realistic fashion, but Chris Gardner gets the top spot on our list for one big reason: the dude’s a real person and The Pursuit of Happyness is based on a true story. Nobody is swimming across the ocean or picking off a traffic ring, the man in simply striving to make a better life for himself and his son. It’s simple but that’s true fatherhood: balancing time with your child while simultaneously trying to provide their basic needs and hopefully raising a good human being. It’s a full-time job onto itself and requires compassion and commitment. That’s why this story is so amazing. Not only does Chris have to provide for his son, but he has to do so out on the streets while looking for a job. Chris Gardner is a true superhero and shows us in this film that you can overcome any obstacle for your children.

What do you all think of our list? What film fathers did we miss? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

2017: The Oscar race so far

Believe it or not, we are quickly approaching the halfway mark of the year. That means we have seen half of the films that will be eligible for an Academy Award come early 2018. Yes, true Oscar season hasn’t quite started yet, but not all nominees are selected from the waning calendar months. As such, let’s take a look at a handful of films that so far could wind up with, at the very least, a nomination.

Get Out

Potential nomination(s): Best Original Screenplay

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Writer-Director Jordan Peele made quite the splash with his socio-thriller. The film landed positively with critics and audiences alike and went on to break multiple records at the box office. It’s also a smartly written film with layers of social subtext that lend itself easily to multiple viewings. Because of its impact on both the box office and the American social consciousness, Get Out is not likely to be forgotten among Academy circles come time to vote, despite its early February release.

The LEGO Batman Movie

Potential nomination(s): Best Animated Feature

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This one seems obvious. Of course The LEGO Batman Movie is going to be nominated for Best Animated Feature, right? Not exactly. Let’s not forget that the successful, well-received The LEGO Movie failed to garner a nomination back in 2014, much to the chagrin of critics and fans alike. So a nod here is not an automatic guarantee. Not to mention the film did not make a stir at the box office quite like The LEGO Movie. That said, this film was similarly adored by moviegoers and demonstrated the same level of wit and heart that’s so often associated with Oscar Darling Pixar. A nomination here would also serve as an apology from the Academy for its overlooking the original film a few years ago.

Beauty and the Beast

Potential nomination(s): Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Original Score & Best Original Song

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Disney’s live-action reimagining of Beauty and the Beast has been, fittingly, a beast at the box office. Earlier this year, the film joined the very exclusive billion-dollar club. That sort of mullah is tough to ignore come voting time. Of course money alone doesn’t get you an Academy Award nomination. However, engrossing detail in set design and costumes do. Plus the Academy loves themselves a good, eye-popping period piece. They also love musicals and this film has a sweeping score to accommodate its song and dance spectacles. And who among us did not fall head over heels for Dan Stevens when he bellowed “Evermore?”

Their Finest

Potential nomination(s): Best Makeup and Hairstylings, Best Costume Design & Best Production Design

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Like I said, the Academy loves themselves an eye-popping period piece and Their Finest definitely fits that mold. Like Beauty and the Beast, the attention to detail within the world of this smaller-scale romance is impeccable and it encapsulates each frame, becoming almost a character onto itself. That’s what production design is all about. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a film about the making of a film (the Dunkirk film before Dunkirk you might say) and the Academy’s self-indulgence has reared itself in similar scenarios before.

Ghost in the Shell

Potential nomination(s): Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design

GHOST IN THE SHELL

Best visual effects is a category almost entirely dominated by summer blockbusters (see 2014’s small sci-fi flick Ex Machina as an example of an exception). While Ghost in the Shell wasn’t exactly a summer hit, its budget could have fooled you into thinking otherwise. $110 million (BoxOfficeMojo) will make one pretty movie and, if nothing else, that’s what Ghost in the Shell is. Though there is always the more political concern from the Academy’s perspective that they won’t want to honor a film that received as much social backlash as this live-action anime did.

But if the Academy does decide to go ahead and acknowledge Ghost in the Shell, then there is also the chance that they might do so for its production design. Alongside the stunning visuals, the world of this adaptation is as colorful and enveloping as the beloved anime classic. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how the voters respond to this mixed bag of a film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Possible nomination(s): Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup & Hairstylings

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Superhero movies get a lot of technical love come Oscar season. In fact, the original Guardians of the Galaxy was nominated for Best Visual Effects. It also received some love in the Makeup and Hairstylings department. Seeing is how the franchise has a track record in these categories plus how Director James Gunn and company have managed to step up there game by introducing new, colorful alien races, it is very possible that ‘Volume 2’ could get the same treatment.

  Cars 3

Possible nomination(s): Best Animated Feature

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There used to be a time when the Oscar for Best Animated Feature mind as well have been renamed the Pixar Award. If they put out a film that year, you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt they would sweep it up. Alas, that time has come and gone and rival animation studios such as DreamWorks, Laika, and Illumination have stepped up their respective games. It also doesn’t help that Pixar has, for the most part, been focusing on stinker sequel/prequel projects as of late.

After not even seeing a nomination last year (a strong year for animated films, Cars 3 could, believe it or not, be a return to form of sorts for the company. It’s received mostly positive feedback from critics and fans and the original Cars film did itself receive a nod though it went ultimately lost out to George Miller’s Happy Feet. To its benefit though, 2017 isn’t looking as strong for animation as 2016 was. If nothing else, Cars 3 could end up just being a placeholder.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Possible nomination(s): Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects

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You probably wouldn’t believe me, but the Transformers films have a track record at the Academy Awards. If they don’t win, they are at least a lock for one or more of the technical awards. Call me crazy, but there actually is some good going on beneath all the Michael Bay explosive noise. I would not be shocked if ‘The Last Knight’ followed suit and received a nod in one of these categories as well.

Despicable Me 3

Possible nomination(s): Best Animated Feature

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Despicable Me is a very lucrative franchise, so much so that the Minions have become Illumination Entertainment’s calling card. That said, the films have never made much of an impression on the Academy. The original was not even nominated back in 2010 and though Despicable Me 2 was nominated, it eventually lost out. The films have made a positive impression, mostly, on critics and audiences so there is love for them. Plus the last one was nominated so there is potential we could see “Despicable 3” repeat.

The Beguiled

Possible nomination(s): Best Director

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This may sound crazy but hear me out. The Academy likes being on the right side of political issues. The last few years it’s involved the lack of representation for minorities. This year the hot button topic in Hollywood seems to be female directors. With the success of Wonder Woman and the underdog story that is Patty Jenkins, the Academy might be tempted to show some love towards the underrepresented filmmakers of the female variety.

The Beguiled might just be the outlet for them to do that. Sofia Coppola’s reimagining of the 1971 Clint Eastwood flick has been receiving early praise from audiences on the festival market. Plus the film stars a mostly-female cast. Then there’s the fact that Sofia Coppola is the bearer of a time-honored name in the industry. Maybe that will help ease the trepidation they seem to have towards nomination female directors.

Logan

Potential nomination(s): Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Best Picture

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With the exception of the technical categories like visual effects and sound, the Academy doesn’t typically show a lot of love for superhero movies. They bear the stigma of being nothing more than popcorn pulp. Still, there is a lot of love for Logan and the film’s got a lot going for it. First off, it benefits from a much smaller scale than its super powered peers. It feels more like an indie film than a comic book movie. There’s the chance that the severe lack of in-your-face digital noise helps Academy members digest it more easily.

Then there are the performances. Many are calling Hugh Jackman’s last ride as Wolverine his best performance yet, even better than his Oscar-nominated bow in Les Miserables. If the Academy members too have hearts (and we think they do), then there’s a chance Jackman could be nominated for Best Actor. Similarly, Patrick Stewart has been praised for his work as a dilapidated Professor X. Many are hailing his performance in Logan as his best work yet.

There is the chance that the Academy won’t want to give their coveted Best Actor Award to a comic book movie, but they might be more lenient when it comes to Best Supporting Actor. For this reason, Stewart has the edge if just one of these guys gets noticed for their work in this beautiful film and even more so if only one walks home with the gold.

Additionally, Logan could be looking down the barrel of a Best Picture nod. It’s a real possibility in a world where the Academy now nominates anywhere between 5 and ten films for the category. The film was praised by many for elements typically cherished by Academy voters, such as powerful performances and rich storytelling. It is still a comic book movie, however, so even if it does land a nomination for Best Picture, don’t be looking for Fox producers to be holding the gold come the end of the ceremony.

There you have it! A few early 2017 films that could turn in Oscar-worthy runs. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree and what other films of the first six months will you be looking for come February 2018? Let us know in the comments below!