Why did the success of 'The Avengers' almost kill 'Deadpool' as a movie?
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Why did the success of 'The Avengers' almost kill 'Deadpool' as a movie?

How did they manage to rehab the character after a disastrous debut?

Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick did something superheroic on Deadpool: they stayed attached as the screenwriters of the film for six full years.

To understand just how weird that is, keep in mind that the way the studios are doing things these days, they will occasionally hire totally different writers to work parallel to one another, writing totally different scripts, only to shuffle those scripts together into weird-ass Frankenstein creations. Or they'll go from writer to writer to writer to writer until they finally end up hiring one of the eight or nine "closers" who seem to put their name on everything these days.

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The director of 'Hardcore Henry' promises crazy action mayhem with the first trailer
Credit: STX Entertainment

The director of 'Hardcore Henry' promises crazy action mayhem with the first trailer

This one's just plain crazy, and that's exactly what the filmmaker intended

By far, the most aggressive film I saw at last year's Toronto film festival was a first-person action film that felt unlike anything else screening at the entire event.

Since then, it's been retitled and now you can get your first look at the official trailer for Hardcore Henry tonight, and it's every bit as lunatic as the film itself. I spoke to writer/director Ilya Naishuller this week about how things have unfolded for him and his movie since STX Entertainment picked it up for release.

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Review: Profoundly unfunny 'Zoolander 2' faceplants on the runway
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Profoundly unfunny 'Zoolander 2' faceplants on the runway

HitFix
D
Readers
n/a
Ben Stiller swings and misses and throws the bat and poops his pants all at once

I wanted to laugh last night. Hell, I needed to laugh last night. And Zoolander 2 failed me completely.

Brutally unfunny, visually off-putting, and filled with cameos so embarrassing I am bruised from holding a cringe for a full half-hour, Zoolander 2 is every horrible decision you can make with a comedy sequel wrapped up into one nigh unbearable film.

There is a single shot in one scene of Olivia Munn, and I couldn't tell you what she was playing or what role got cut down in the final film, but that one last errant useless shot, left in instead of being totally excised with the rest of her part, sums up the way the entire film feels to me. It feels like it was thrown together in a blender and just poured into a cup indifferently, no matter what ended up blended in there. So many jokes fall so flat that it's almost impressive after a while. Characters appear and disappear randomly, and they hold the entrance of the film's villain so long that I forgot he was in the movie by the time he finally showed up.

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Kristen Stewart may head an interesting cast to tell the JT LeRoy story... but which one?
Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Kristen Stewart may head an interesting cast to tell the JT LeRoy story... but which one?

If we don't know the whole truth yet, which version of this story will the film tell?

One of the films from this year's Sundance Film Festival that I'm still chewing on is Author: The JT LeRoy Story. The documentary by Jeff Feuerzeig is well-made and obviously was produced with an enormous amount of access to Laura Albert, the writer at the heart of the very, very strange saga. That's part of the problem, though. I'm not sure why anyone would ever trust a single word out of Albert's mouth, especially not on the subject of JT LeRoy, and in the end, her involvement makes me believe the movie less, not more.

For those unfamiliar with the story, JT LeRoy was a literary phenomenon in the late '90s, a young author who became a celebrity as much for his backstory as for his prose. People like Bono and Courtney Love and Gus Van Sant and Billy Corgan all believed fervently in LeRoy, and while secrecy was part of his persona in the early days, eventually LeRoy started making more personal appearances and doing more readings of his work and traveling around the world. It was almost eight years before the New York Times broke the story that LeRoy didn't actually exist and the entire backstory that had made him so irresistible to the celebrities who embraced him was fabricated.

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What Oscar nominees luncheon image charmed even this awards-season hating Grinch?
Credit: A24

What Oscar nominees luncheon image charmed even this awards-season hating Grinch?

Sometimes, pure sincere joy trumps even the most hard-earned cynicism

Last night in Santa Monica, I moderated a Q&A with George Miller, who I've been interviewing repeatedly since March of last year, at the intermission of a double feature of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Road Warrior.

We had some time to talk before the Q&A, and he was in terrific spirits. He spent the afternoon at the Oscar nominees luncheon, and he seemed to have a terrific time. I mentioned Rooney Mara's outstanding quote from yesterday ("Sometimes [awards season] feels like you're celebrating the same person's birthday for months on end") and he laughed, then added "But it's a wonderful party." There are few people more cynical about awards season than me, and if you want a dose of that, read the opening part of my Coen Brothers interview yesterday. Seeing Miller's obvious pleasure yesterday cut through that cynicism, and I found myself really rooting for him to wrap up this year with a trip to the stage to collect an Oscar.

But let's be honest… is there anything more charming on the awards circuit this year than the ongoing story of Jacob Tremblay?

The young star of Room gave an enormously mature performance, and it's easy to forget that he's just a normal (if talented) little kid. Watching how much he's enjoyed himself over the course of what can be a real grind for even the most polished of adults has been impressive. Yesterday, he was at that same luncheon, and his dad was taking pictures and sharing them via Twitter. The best of them… well, let's just take a look…


Come on. What's not to love about that? Stallone's been making plenty of jokes about his age, and how long it's been since he was last at the Oscars for the first Rocky, and Tremblay is at the very start of a career. He's young enough that really anything could happen. We may be talking about this as one of many great performances in a decade, or we may look back at this as a lovely single moment for him. We'll see.

But today, at that luncheon, there was clearly a sincere giddy joy shared by all of these people, and it's so sincere that it's even making my tiny black Grinch heart feel something. I'm sure it will pass, but I figured I'd share my brief change of heart.

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Holy cow! Ava DuVernay may direct Lupita Nyong'o in a new SF film for Amblin
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Holy cow! Ava DuVernay may direct Lupita Nyong'o in a new SF film for Amblin

This is a pretty exciting combination of talent if it comes together

Here we go.

Right now, as we see conversations ranging from the essential to the ridiculous about diverse voices in film, there are a few key figures who are central to the discussion, and very few of them are being watched as closely as Ava DuVernay. I was flattened by her film Selma in 2014, and she's been a great steady clear voice in this ongoing debate about how best to knock down the conventional walls of who is or isn't "allowed" to tell Hollywood stories. One of the things that I've hoped as she's been circling projects is that whatever she chooses to direct next is something that broadens the definition of what a black woman can or can't do in our industry.

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Joel and Ethan Coen on how they turned Hollywood history into the hysterical 'Hail, Caesar!'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Joel and Ethan Coen on how they turned Hollywood history into the hysterical 'Hail, Caesar!'

A loose and funny conversation with two of our very best filmmakers

I still get nervous about certain interviews.

It's human. I love movies dearly, and have since I was young, and when I talk to filmmakers who I respect enormously, I tend to either talk waaaaaaay too fast or just overcomplicate my questions. Once things start, though, a good conversation is a good conversation, and I relax into things. That's particularly easy when you're talking to someone who give back as good as they get, and that's the Coen Brothers in spades.

Three quick points before we dig in. First, enjoy Backstory, a new video series we're doing here at HitFix in which I pull back the curtain a bit on the stories that went unreported or untold over the last 25 years while I've been working here in LA. While I spoke to the Coens about To The White Sea during our interview, we didn't get into the impact that the film's implosion had on them, something that I heard repeatedly from people close to them at the time. I go into that in further detail in the video.

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Why wasn't the best movie trailer of Super Bowl Sunday shown on TV?
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Why wasn't the best movie trailer of Super Bowl Sunday shown on TV?

The Jungle Book looks great, but you wouldn't know it from the TV spot on Sunday

To be honest, it feels like the studios just don't care anymore.

There was a time starting in the late '90s where each year, the Super Bowl trailers were bigger and more amazing. The studios really pulled out all the stops to try to dazzle this gigantic captive audience, and this Sunday, on what should have been the biggest Super Bowl show of all time, everything felt perfunctory. Phoned in. Just one more commercial or trailer or spot.

I liked the Jason Bourne spot. "When the world is at war, we need the perfect weapon" seems like a pretty good line to reintroduce Matt Damon's superspy to the franchise that was as much a showcase for Paul Greengrass as it was for Damon. Having the two of them back makes this one of this summer's biggest events as far as I'm concerned. The commercial itself was fine. Didn't knock me out. I thought it was interesting there was footage in the ad that was shot within only the last few weeks (the Vegas stuff), and in general, it felt like a very early announcement trailer. They'll do bigger and better later.

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Review: 'Deadpool' is the world's most violent and vulgar Bugs Bunny cartoon
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: 'Deadpool' is the world's most violent and vulgar Bugs Bunny cartoon

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
The Merc with a Mouth finally gets the film he deserves, and it's ridiculous

To be honest, I can't believe this movie even exists.

It's not like Deadpool is some impossible to decipher art film, or like the plot is impossible to follow. It's more a case of "Fox has never been this loose or this adventurous with any of their franchise superhero properties, and I'm not sure how anyone convinced them to do this," and if for no other reason, I salute the studio for taking this particular chance.

And while superhero films are enormously popular and the X-Men franchise in general has been a steady performer for the studio, make no mistake: Deadpool represents a genuine roll of the dice. Aside from the R-rating, a first for this franchise, it's also just plain weird. Structurally, I can't think of another film quite like it. It's two scenes as well as some flashbacks and connective tissue. That's it. In one scene, Deadpool attacks a bunch of cars to find a guy. The guy gets away and, in the second scene, threatens Deadpool's girlfriend so they fight. That's it. That's the entire story. It is almost preposterous how little "plot" there is in the film.

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What one choice could end Hulu as a company completely?
Credit: Hulu/Bad Robot

What one choice could end Hulu as a company completely?

Time Warner's willing to play dirty pool to keep a broken system

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Time Warner is in the early stages of conversations that would see the media giant buy 25% of Hulu. Seems rational enough to me. But in the story, one of the ideas that is floated is that Time Warner is worried about cord cutting and looking to downplay or even end one of the main functions of Hulu as a service by doing away with next-day streaming episodes of current TV shows.

If it's true, then my relationship with Hulu Plus will end immediately after a very happy nine year subscription to the service.

I was an early adopter, first signing up in late 2007, and, yes, I would love to cut the cable cord completely. I have Charter Communications as my cable/Internet provider right now, and my service on the cable side is, in a word, awful. I detest cable. I detest bundling. I actively resent paying for 100s of channels I don't use. I am in many ways a dream consumer for the studios because I am happy to pay for the media I want. I insist on it, actually. But when it comes to paying for media I don't want and that I won't ever use? Well, that's where it starts to seriously piss me off.

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