Fox wasn't kidding when they announced their plans to ramp up production on the various "X-Men" films.
Right now, Bryan Singer is hard at work finishing "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," and even so, he took a moment to Tweet this morning that we can also look forward to "X-Men: Apocalypse" in 2016.
Several sites are reporting a May 27, 2016 date for the film, although that wasn't part of Singer's Tweet. If that's true, then I'm curious what it means for James Mangold's "Wolverine" sequel. Would they try to get that done between the two "X-Men" movies, or will they now try to get Jeff Wadlow's "X-Force" up and running for 2015 instead and give Mangold time to aim for a 2017 release?
Apocalypse is a very powerful adversary for the X-Men, and if you want to talk about a role that gives an actor room to play something so over the top that they'll forget where the top is, Apocalypse is perfect for that. Thousands of years old, Apocalypse is so strong that he has actually been able to restrain the Hulk when the Hulk was angry. He has preposterous stamina, he's practically invulnerable, he can fly, he can teleport, he can alter his molecular structure to look like anything or anyone and he can mimic anyone else's super-powers as well. He can use energy to heal himself, to shoot psychic blasts, and to generate force fields. Oh… and he's basically immortal, possessing blood so complex that one drop of it can rewrite the genetic code of any other blood it comes into contact with. So… yeah. He's sort of a big deal.
I'll say this much for Fox… they appear to have gotten over some of their earlier hang-ups about the "X-Men" universe, and they're steering directly into some of the crazier areas of storytelling potential. I have no idea which Apocalypse story they're going to tell or how this relates to whatever happens at the end of "Days Of Future Past," but it's safe to say everything's coming up mutant for the next few years at 20th Century Fox.
We'll have more on this one as details become available.
What does this mean for the series as a whole?
Fox wasn't kidding when they announced their plans to ramp up production on the various "X-Men" films.
It looks like a particularly fun 30th anniversary program
The 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival will once again see Team HitFix descending on the slopes of Park City to cover everything and anything about the event that we can.
As usual, I call dibs on the Midnight line-up. While I don't always love the programming in practice, I love it in theory, and I've had some amazing viewing experiences over the last few years thanks to the Midnights. I'd say there's a pretty strong chance something from the 2012 Midnights line-up might make an appearance on my best of the year list this year, and it wouldn't be the first time.
So what we expect this year? Well, Tommy Wirkola is back with a sequel to "Dead Snow," which seems fitting. After all, I saw and reviewed the first "Dead Snow" at the festival. Wirkola, who went on to direct "Hansel & Gretel: Vampire Hunters," has a chance here to join that club of horror directors who make sequels that are more fun than the originals, and I hope he pulls it off. After all… Nazi zombies in the snow… that should be fun, right? All I know is "Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead" sounds like it could be a blast, especially with the wildly random addition of the always great Martin Starr to the cast.
The way he learned he got the part is pretty great
Benedict Cumberbatch is having one of those moments that actors dream of, where they are suddenly not only acclaimed for their work, but given opportunity to play a wide range of roles in material that they genuinely love. "Sherlock" may have been the thing that finally made him wildly in-demand, but he's been building towards this moment for a little while now, and he seems to be cherishing it now that it's arrived.
I don't remember him from "Fortysomething" or "Nathan Barley," but I must have seen him in them. Same with "Starter For 10" or "Amazing Grace." It was "Atonement" when I finally remember seeing him and taking note of his work. Then came "Sherlock," and he was suddenly launched into the awareness of filmmakers and audiences alike. I remember reading how Stephen Moffat was casting both "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock" at the same time, and he really debated what to do with Matt Smith and Cumberbatch and the two roles because he could see merit in both versions of the casting.
Can you imagine what would have happened if he'd just had them switch when it was time to regenerate the Doctor? Smith takes over as Sherlock, Cumberbatch takes over as the Doctor, and the Internet breaks. Right?
That would never actually happen, of course. For one thing, Cumberbatch is too busy now. It feels like he's on his way to becoming ubiquitous. Think of all the good work he's done the last few yeas. "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." "War Horse." "12 Years A Slave." And this summer, he was The Most Controversial Plot Twist Of 2013 as Khan in "Star Trek Into Darkness," a role that may have introduced him to a much larger audience than ever before.
When I sat down to talk to him, it was early in the day, and I think both of us were still just waking up. It was early on Monday, and as I sat down, they were resetting something on one of the cameras. I told him how upset my kids were that they couldn't come with me because he's become a big star in their eyes.
"Really? What have they seen?" he asked. I told him how much they'd enjoyed Smaug in "The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" and how much they were rattled by the Necromancer in both of the "Hobbit" films so far. I told him how much they both like him as Khan as well. He seemed taken aback at the idea of them seeing the film. "My kids wouldn't see it," he said. "I wouldn't want to have to explain to them who Daddy is killing and why." He asked if my kids had seen him anything else.
"They're big 'August: Osage County" fans, I said, and as he laughed, we got started.
"The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug" will be in theaters on December 13.
And it looks like they're sticking with the mystery of why his parents died
Peter Parker's back, and it appears that positively everyone would like him dead.
The first trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" covers a fair amount of ground, and it looks like the way they're making a story work with a multitude of bad guys running around is somehow tying all of them together. When Marc Webb cut back the stuff about some mystery behind the death of Peter's mother and father, I was hoping that was the end of that story thread. Instead, it looks like it is a major part of this film as well.
There's a lot to take in during this 2:41. I love the opening shot of him falling towards the city from above. One of the kicks of the best of the Spider-Man games is that feeling of falling as far as possible before snapping out a web to swing on. It looks like Peter and Gwen Stacy have picked up despite her father's dying wish. It also looks like Harry Osborne is absolutely the Green Goblin, with Norman stuck upstairs in bed.
Is this really the best way for anyone to be making movies?
So now we're down to watching studios fight over public domain properties that have been filmed repeatedly already?
I'm not sure I see the appeal of one new film version of "The Jungle Book," much less two, but at least I understand why Disney is making theirs. It's part of their new "You Already Love This, But Now It Has Real People!" franchise along with "Maleficent" and the still-shooting "Cinderella," and it keeps Jon Favreau in the Disney family, which is something that seems to be important to them. I'm happy for Justin Marks, who has been writing some big projects for the last few years and now seems to finally be seeing one of them come to fruition. I'm sure it'll be a big slick Disney movie, and I certainly hope it's good. They've already got a release date selected, with the film set to hit theaters October 9, 2015.
Of course you want a 'Justice League' movie, but this isn't how you get there
On one level, everything seems to be moving along well right now with development on "Man Of Steel 2." After all, they just announced today that Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman in the film, and in the new issue of Playboy, there's an interview with Ben Affleck conducted by Mike Fleming. The approach that they're taking to the new Batman in Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel" sequel comes up.
Say what you will about Affleck, but one of the biggest reasons he's been able to rebuild his career the way he has is because he seems genuinely self-aware. Watch him again in "Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back" and you see a guy who has already identified exactly what's wrong with his career and what he doesn't want to do or be moving forward.
People seem positively delighted to pull out his 2006 quote about never playing a superhero again when they mention his casting in the "Man Of Steel" sequel, but that seems like it means people don't know there is an evolution in the way human beings feel or think over time. And that's ridiculous. Of course people change. Of course their attitudes evolve. And with actors, it frequently just boils down to the material that they're presented, which, surprise surprise, appears to be the case this time as well.
David O. Russell makes a potent case for him being one of the funniest filmmakers alive
David O. Russell is a very funny man.
That's been easy to forget lately. The last time it feels like he made a full-on comedy was "I Heart Huckabees," and I still remember walking out of the first screening of the film, big smile on my face, only to run smack dab into a cluster of journalists all angrily venting about the film. They didn't just dislike it, they were furious at having seen it. One in particular was red-faced about it, and when I tried to walk by, they tried to rope me into agreeing with them about how terrible it was.
"I really liked it," I said, and it was as if I told them that their mothers never really loved them. They recoiled from me. It only made me love the film more, and it certainly wasn't the first time liking a David O. Russell film made people seem irritated or creeped out. "Spanking The Monkey" did exactly what it set out to do at a time when people hadn't been conditioned by an entire culture of squirm-based comedy, and "Flirting With Disaster" felt like he just found a slightly less overt way to push buttons. "Three Kings" was a near-perfect distillation of his voice in a mainstream package, a movie that managed to be political and wicked funny and tense and moving all at the same time.
A thoughtful chat with the title character from one of the season's biggest films
It makes perfect sense that any of the marketing we've seen for "Saving Mr. Banks" so far has focused almost exclusively on the relationship between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), and that makes sense. That is what the film deals with for the most part, but there's another relationship in the film that is, in its way, even more important.
Colin Farrell plays Travers Robert Goff, father to Helen Goff, aka Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley), the little girl who eventually grows up and takes the professional pseudonym of P.L. Travers. He is her world, as we see in flashbacks, and Farrell is great in the role. He shows us exactly why he would be so revered by his little girl, the dreamy and inventive personality that makes him so much fun to be with, and he also shows us why Goff was such a disaster in the professional world. His alcoholism is just part of the problem. He is simply not wired for adult life, and the ways he fails are heartbreaking. One of the things that has always defined Farrell is that sense of danger that is always simmering, and the thing that makes him dangerous here is just how much faith his daughter has in him, and just how misplaced it is.
Truth in advertising is a wonderful thing
One of my few complaints about "Frozen," the latest animated musical from Disney, is that they played a pretty aggressive game of bait-and-switch with audiences with the film's marketing. Sure, it paid off in a record-breaking weekend for the company, and in the world of the movie business, that makes them right and me wrong, but I still feel like the campaign they ran was a disservice to both the movie and the audience.
Ultimately, sell the movie you made. When I see a trailer that I find really appealing or intriguing or provocative and then I see the movie, and it's nothing like that trailer, it is unfair of me to be upset because it's not the trailer, and yet it's almost impossible not to have that reaction. From a pragmatic business angle, I understand that a trailer is just a piece of marketing, and its only real purpose is to get someone to pay money to see something. But from the point of view of being a film fan, I consider a great trailer to be a promise, a taste of a meal that someone is going to serve, and when someone tells me they're serving sushi, I don't want to eat a hamburger.
Chris Hemsworth continues campaign for Nicest Working Movie Star
As I work on a larger piece about Warner's ongoing DC "problem," I saw a story scroll past that made me smile. It's not news so much as a bit of backstory that makes a scene that we saw in a recent movie seem even sweeter.
We ran a story about one of the post-credit scenes in "Thor: The Dark World," the one that exists largely to drop a few narrative bread crumbs for next year's "Guardians Of The Galaxy," but that was just one of the two scenes that were hidden during the credits for the film.
In the other one, we see that Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is still sitting at the breakfast table in her English apartment when there's the familiar sound of the Rainbow Bridge opening up and depositing Thor back on her balcony. She runs into his arms, they embrace, and some serious making out commences. It's a nice swoony punctuation mark at the end of the film, and it seemed appropriate since one of the signatures of the "Thor" films seems to be palpable sexual tension between Jane and Thor, something that not every superhero series is able to pull off.
Today, though, Portman shared a story that set that scene in a different context. Turns out that was one of the reshoots, something that seemed likely looking at the last third of that movie, and it happened at a point where Hemsworth and Portman were working on opposite ends of the planet. Marvel couldn't work it out to get the two of them together, and since the movie is called "Thor," they decided Hemsworth was the one they couldn't live without.
So who stepped in for Portman as a body double to do the smooching stunt? Elsa Pataky, aka Mrs. Chris Hemsworth. Portman told The Daily News, "They put his wife in my wig an costume. That's why it was so passionate." That may be the single sweetest story we've heard in recent memory about solving a logistical issue during the production of a movie, and it certainly makes the Hemsworths sound like a happy couple.
"Thor: The Dark World" is still in theaters.