Legendary finally unveils their long-promised Chinese action film 'The Great Wall'
Credit: Universal/Legendary

Legendary finally unveils their long-promised Chinese action film 'The Great Wall'

They've been revving up for this one for years

Welcome to the future of blockbuster movies.

Legendary Pictures was started as a major funding partner for studios, with an aggressive creative team of their own onboard, and over the years, I’ve talked to Thomas Tull repeatedly about his goals and his work. Tull has stayed very true to the earliest vision of what Legendary should be, and he genuinely seems to be driven by his own interests as a fan. He didn’t get interested in Batman and Superman because Warner needed someone to pay for their films; he specifically asked to be involved in those films because he adores them. Same thing with Godzilla. Same thing with Pacific Rim. These are things that hit Tull dead center in his nerd pleasure center, and he throws his support behind them because he wants to see them given all the resources possible.

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Review: 'Jason Bourne' is one trip to the franchise well too many for this spy
Credit: Universal
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Review: 'Jason Bourne' is one trip to the franchise well too many for this spy

Matt Damon's fine, but is fine the best that this creative team can do?

In every movie in the Bourne series (except for Legacy), there comes that moment. You know the one. Some shadowy government scumbag is convinced they’ve got the drop on Bourne, and they’re celebrating their accomplishment only to have the phone ring or the computer screen come on just in time for Bourne to tell them that he’s looking at them through a sniper’s scope or he’s recorded them threatening to kill the President or he’s got naked pictures of them and a goat, and as they realize just how screwed they are, here comes the Moby on the soundtrack and there goes Bourne, back into the shadows until next time.

The problem is, the charm has definitely faded, and Jason Bourne proves to be one trip too many to the well, lapsing into accidental self-parody in places. There are scenes I dug and a few set-pieces that work, and there’s an overall level of intensity that I like from director Paul Greengrass. Taken as a whole, though, this is very familiar territory, and I just don’t care when the stakes are this low and the violence is this rough. It’s like beating someone with a tire iron because they didn’t cover their mouth when they sneezed. The film never really makes a compelling case for why Jason Bourne should be back in action, or what makes him heroic in any significant way at this point, and that feels like a problem.

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'Ask Drew' looks at which horror remake might be a perfect fit for Robert Eggers
Credit: HitFix

'Ask Drew' looks at which horror remake might be a perfect fit for Robert Eggers

Plus we play a fiendishly hard round of 'Remake This'

In all the excitement of Comic-Con week, I have been negligent, and I forgot to post the latest episode of Ask Drew for you.

I love how quickly you guys jumped right back into playing along, and this week, we ended up picking a Remake This! instead of a Movie God, but either one of those is acceptable, and I want you to feel free to come up with the most diabolical entries for both games.

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'Kong: Skull Island' makes an impressive Comic-Con debut with a new trailer
Credit: Warner/Legendary

'Kong: Skull Island' makes an impressive Comic-Con debut with a new trailer

'Apocalypse Now' with fur works for me

Brie Larson had a pretty good Saturday at Comic-Con, I think it’s safe to say.

She's had to do a fair amount of juggling around this film so far. When she won her Oscar this spring, she had to fly in from where she was shooting Kong: Skull Island to do so, and Saturday, they had to pull her away from her press duties for Kong: Skull Island to take the stage in Hall H to announce that she is officially signed to play Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, in what will easily be one of the most eagerly awaited films Marvel has ever made.

But before we get all crazy about a movie that doesn’t even have an announced director yet, let’s look at the other film she came to San Diego to discuss today, because that is a seriously awesome trailer. Jordan Vogt-Roberts and screenwriters Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins, and Dan Gilroy all deserve credit for avoiding the problems inherent to simply remaking King Kong one more time. Instead, they’re using the general iconography and building a new film that kind of looks like Apocalypse Now starring a 100-foot gorilla instead of Marlon Brando. And if that doesn’t get you interested, then nothing will, I suppose.

First and foremost, Larry Fong’s photography is absolutely amazing here. Fong is not only one of the best of the big blockbuster cinematographers working these days, he’s also a really active Twitter user, one of the few DP’s to be so open and accessible to fans. He’s one of the stars of this trailer, and I love the way the trailer hints at what we’ll see in the actual film without revealing much of anything. Instead, they spend their time building tension and suspense and introducing what looks like a pretty great overall ensemble.

In addition to Larson, we’ve got Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton), and the one and only Terry Notary as Kong himself. Notary, who I’ve spoken to for the site before, is a movement coach and an actor who has worked with Andy Serkis extensively, and I’m curious to see what he brings to Kong. I didn’t realize until now that Kong was being created using performance-capture, and I’m excited to see what other monsters there are on that island that they’re not showing us yet. Those giant boneyards certainly drop some tantalizing hints.

Overall, this is a knockout first look at something and combined with that great new one-sheet…

… I’m feeling like we may be in for something special.

Kong: Skull Island is in theater March 10, 2017.

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Zack Snyder's 'Justice League' makes a triumphant trailer debut at Comic-Con
Credit: Warner Bros

Zack Snyder's 'Justice League' makes a triumphant trailer debut at Comic-Con

Aquaman! Holy cow!

Despite what many people believe about critics or people who write about movies professionally, I love to be surprised, and I love to be proven wrong.

When I kicked off an unexpectedly vehement wave of fan-driven mayhem this spring by sharing buzz I’d been hearing about Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, I did so without having any idea what kind of blowback I’d get. I wasn’t looking to shake anyone’s faith, and I certainly wasn’t pretending that the buzz I’d been hearing was the final word on anything. That’s one of the reasons the extreme overreaction bummed me out so much. If I can’t feel free to honestly report which way the wind is blowing as we build up to the release of a film, then you’re essentially asking me to just be part of the marketing arm of the studios. That’s not how I started writing about film, and it’s certainly not going to be where I end up. Fans seem to only want to hear good news, or they want their own opinion reinforced, but again… that’s not really my job.

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The first 'Wonder Woman' trailer makes a big noise at Comic-Con
Credit: Warner Bros

The first 'Wonder Woman' trailer makes a big noise at Comic-Con

Could they have really pulled it off?

Warner Bros. has made a habit of owning Saturday mornings at Comic-Con, and it feels like this year is no different. Our own Emily Rome was in the room today to bring you a report about how they rolled things out, and it sounds like Conan O’Brien was a great choice to be the host.

By far, the biggest noise they made today was with the first trailer for Wonder Woman, and congratulations to Warner for doing what fans have been asking for so loudly for so long. More than ever, I am keenly aware of the hunger that exists for representation in pop culture, and watching what happens when an audience feels included and respected is, frankly, inspirational. It reminds me of why I loved fandom when I was a kid. I spent much of my childhood reading books and watching movies that made me feel like I was alone in the world, with one or two friends who might be into the same thing. It wasn’t until my first science-fiction convention that I realized how many other people felt the same way I did. My whole life, I’ve been lucky enough to be the person who is the default in pop culture, so I’ve always been able to see myself in stories and onscreen. If it’s someone else’s turn now, it doesn’t negate all of those things I’ve read and seen, and I’m sure I’ll still see plenty of myself.

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Lionsgate shocks the horror world and reveals a finished 'Blair Witch' sequel at Comic-Con
Credit: Lionsgate

Lionsgate shocks the horror world and reveals a finished 'Blair Witch' sequel at Comic-Con

Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are very sneaky men

You sneaky little so-and-sos.

Lionsgate premiered Blair Witch, the new reboot of the 1999 horror classic, at Comic-Con earlier tonight, and they gave the exclusive news about the until-now-top-secret film to Entertainment Weekly. What I find amazing is that they’ve screened this film at least once for press and they managed to actually keep the secret until now. I know how embargoes work, and I know how people love to talk, so for Lionsgate to have pulled this off makes me believe once again that you can actually have and keep a secret in this business.

Much like 10 Cloverfield Lane did earlier this year, this film snuck up on us while hiding in plain sight. It’s tough to keep the entire existence of a movie a secret, but keeping the nature of it a secret by telling everyone that it’s something else seems to be a workable game plan. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett spend a fair amount of time interacting with members of the film press socially, as do the film’s producers, Jessica Wu and Keith Calder, so I give them extra credit for all keeping poker faces as they worked to relaunch one of the most recognizable titles of the past 25 years.

You’ll notice I haven’t referred to it as a “franchise” yet. That’s because it’s not one. It’s a first film that was made totally independent, and a sequel that (whether you’re fond of it or not) was such a major financial misstep that it killed the property dead. At least when people talk about the Ghostbusters franchise (also one good film and one movie that is considered a major misstep), they can also be referring to the larger property that spilled into games and comic books and toys over the years. With Blair Witch, it was one film, one sequel, and then nothing. Radio silence since then.

Lionsgate, which absorbed the old Artisan catalog at some point, was smart to make this new Blair Witch under the radar. If they’d announced it from the very start, they’d be dealing with years worth of complaining and griping at this point, no matter what. That’s just the way fandom works at this point. I’ve already seen some people complaining that Lionsgate just ruined the surprise and should have only revealed this at the exact moment the film comes out, but that’s just not feasible in terms of marketing. By choosing to use Comic-Con as their launching point, they had most of the entertainment press in one place at one time, and by keeping the surprise until now, they were able to enjoy a major shock wave that pretty much stole the day out from under anyone else. Hell, as Simon Barrett pointed out, they didn’t even tell the people who were there at the screening until they were seated, which means this happened —


— which is super-cool, I must admit.

My experience with The Blair Witch Project was pretty special, and I will always hold it dear because the way I saw it helped turn it into a real exercise in terror. Before the film played at Sundance, a video cassette was sent to Harry Knowles. It was unmarked, and Harry, who has a deep abiding love of PT Barnum, couldn’t resist playing up the whole backstory. He told us that it had been sent to him with a note that the sender wasn’t sure exactly what the film was, or whether or not he should believe it. He claimed to be asking for help in determining if it was true, and Harry knew that my friends and I were about to start a cross-country drive at around 2 in the morning. We were just wrapping up the final night of the Quentin Tarantino Film Festival in Austin, and we had about 26 hours of driving ahead of us to get back to LA. Harry organized one final stop before we left, though, at the apartment of our friends Jed and Rebecca. He put on the film, and we sat there slowly but surely getting pulled into the expertly built film that has been imitated so many times since 1999.

When the film ended with Mike standing in the corner and Heather screaming and none of us sure what we’d just seen, Harry wished us a cheerful farewell and sent us out to drive a good five hours in the pitch dark through what I can only call “Texas Chainsaw country.” And we were TERRIFIED. We were beside ourselves. Every little thing freaked us out, and we loved it. By the time we got to LA, I was head over heels in love with The Blair Witch Project, and the entire experience reminded me of why I love horror films in the first place.

Based on the new trailer (which we’ve embedded here), it’s clear that this is a real sequel. One of the main characters is the younger brother of Heather from the first film, and he’s looking for answers about what happened to his sister. Knowing Blair Witch so well, I’m curious what they plan to do to make this “the scariest movie ever made,” as there have been so many films that have aped the first film completely that it feels like Wingard, Barrett, and their collaborators have their work cut out for them. Early word from the Comic-Con screenings seems to be good, though, and no matter what, I am stoked to see this team pull off such an epic bait-and-switch.

We're at an interesting moment for horror, and I had a discussion about that with Chris Eggertsen which you can see embedded below.

Blair Witch arrives in theaters September 16, 2016.

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Wonder Woman's looking colorful on her very first one-sheet
Credit: Warner Bros

Wonder Woman's looking colorful on her very first one-sheet

Holy cow, they actually made this movie

This is a Wonder Woman poster.

It’s pretty much exactly what you’d want from a Wonder Woman poster, too.

In the past 25 years, I’ve probably read 20 different drafts of Wonder Woman scripts developed by Warner Bros. The worst one I read started with Wonder Woman wearing a black leather Trinity outfit when she crashes the invisible jet and dies, only to have the outfit crawl off of her and go looking for the nearest person with Amazon DNA to make them the new Wonder Woman. The best of them was by Laeta Kalogridis and felt like a completely faithful take on the George Perez years of the comic, with Ares as the main villain.

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Our epic interview with Ivan Reitman looks to the past and the future for 'Ghostbusters'
Credit: Sony Pictures

Our epic interview with Ivan Reitman looks to the past and the future for 'Ghostbusters'

Plus find out the official name of the 32-year-old no-ghosts logo

When I first met Ivan Reitman, I was warned to be on my best behavior. I was an employee at Dave’s Video, a laserdisc retail store, and Reitman was one of the store’s most important customers.

He, Steven Spielberg, and Danny DeVito all had a standing order. They wanted one of every title. Everything. If it came out, they owned it. Reitman’s assistants picked orders up frequently, but every now and then, he’d be the one that came in, sometimes with his teenage son Jason in tow. When he did come in, it was important that we keep him happy. He was one of the guys keeping the doors of that business open, and we absolutely went out of our way to make sure he got anything he wanted.

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Review: 'Star Trek Beyond' is a terrific 50th anniversary salute to the series appeal
Credit: Paramount Pictures
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Review: 'Star Trek Beyond' is a terrific 50th anniversary salute to the series appeal

The films boldly go in the right direction for the overall series

Star Trek Beyond is, for lack of a better description, the goods.

When I walked out of the JJ Abrams reboot in 2009, I was giddy about the potential for the series. I thought they did a terrific job casting the film, and by the time the movie ended, they were set to head out into space on their five year mission, seeking out, boldly going, and it felt like they had wiped the slate clean as storytellers so they weren’t beholden to anything anymore other than the characters.

That’s what made Star Trek Into Darkness so confounding. I think there’s great energy to the filmmaking, which I liked when I first saw it, but I’ve never seen a movie more tied in knots to try to trick an audience, and for so little payoff. The moment they decided to make a movie that hinged on Khan as a villain, they painted themselves into a narrative corner, and they never figured out how to get out of it. I thought the film was nearly impossible to review, because it was so much technical skill and so many great actors all in search of a story worth telling. It may not have helped that Roberto Orci’s own politics ended up wedged into the film’s “false flag” storyline, which might have worked if that had been the whole film, but which feels wildly out of place wrapped around the slavishly inverted Wrath Of Khan remake.

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