Why Superman and Batman may lose the war to Marvel before they even begin
Credit: Warner Bros.

Why Superman and Batman may lose the war to Marvel before they even begin

It's all going to come down to people falling in love with these icons

"No jokes."

Last week was about the fifth time I've heard that there is a mandate at Warner Bros. regarding any of the DC superhero films in development, and it's very simple and direct and to the point.

"No jokes."

It would seem like a crazy rule to set for an entire series of films. How can you know what the tone is for every story you'll be telling in a series before you've even started telling it? The thing is, DC has taken a few stabs at establishing this larger universe on film, and they've gotten smacked down for everything that hasn't had Batman in it. "Man Of Steel" made money, and I'm certainly not the only person to like the film. I may be one of its more ardent defenders, but I'm not alone. I think you'd have a far harder time finding someone to defend "Green Lantern," the studio's other big attempt at launching one of the core Justice League characters with a film franchise of his own.

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Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day are set to complicate 'Vacation' for Ed Helms
Credit: MGM

Chris Hemsworth and Charlie Day are set to complicate 'Vacation' for Ed Helms

Looks like this one is finally happening

It looks like "Vacation" is still happening, and they're adding cast members that are making me really want to see this movie.

When I interviewed John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein about their film "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," they were still just signed to write a new "Vacation" film. Since then, they've also been announced as directors for the film, and it's gone through some development twists and turns, including what felt like a step back just before they went into production so they could consider their options and fine tune it some more.

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With announcements for 'Executioner' and Remo Williams, Hollywood seems crazy for pulp
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

With announcements for 'Executioner' and Remo Williams, Hollywood seems crazy for pulp

But does the public even want these characters to make a comeback?

How many of you have ever read an actual original era pulp story? Anything involving Doc Savage or The Shadow or John Carter or Doctor Death or The Phantom Detective or Tarzan or Solomon Kane or Conan or The Continental Op? If you haven't, that puts you in what I am sure is a vast majority at this point. I can't fault anyone for not being a reader of that sort of source material. It's not something that is part of the active mainstream right now, but if Hollywood gets its way, that may be about to change.

There are some huge names in the world of pulp. By far, the biggest budget pulp title currently pending release is the David Yates "Tarzan" that Warner Bros. is putting out in 2016. When I interviewed Samuel L. Jackson at Comic-Con this summer, he repeatedly told me how excited he was by what he'd seen while he was filming "Tarzan." He feels like it's the right version, fun and cool and different. I know nothing about it. I have no idea what they're adapting or what approach they're taking. I like that the film is finished shooting and in the can and we still basically don't know anything and haven't seen anything. That's sort of refreshing. Alexander Skarsgard plays the title role, and Margo Robbie is onboard as Jane, so it's going to be an awfully pretty movie all the way around, and with Christoph Waltz as a bad guy, it seems like he'll be more than capable of any moustache twirling that is required.

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Review: 'Sin City' sequel serves up ugly stories, no fun, and even wastes Eva Green
Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'Sin City' sequel serves up ugly stories, no fun, and even wastes Eva Green

HitFix
D+
Readers
A+
Even the style wears thin this time around

There's a moment early on in "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" where we find Frank Miller seated in the bar where Nancy (Jessica Alba) is dancing, looking very much like the sort of creep who you'd expect to see populating a Frank Miller universe at this point, and when I spotted him, time and space folded in on one another and reality collapsed.

Well, okay, maybe not, but it is a wink in a movie that is already one long, drunken, woman-hating wink, and more than anything, I sat through the film questioning those years when I actually considered Frank Miller an exciting voice in comics. At this point, "Sin City" is threadbare parody piled on top of suffocatingly stylish homage, and the result is almost unbearable.

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Review: Chloe Moretz shines in surprisingly mature supernatural love story 'If I Stay'
Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Chloe Moretz shines in surprisingly mature supernatural love story 'If I Stay'

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Why is this teenage film more mature than many adult love stories?

Movies about young love are hard to pull off, and when they don't work, they can be cloying and obnoxious. Done right, though, there is something both lovely and piercing about them, and while I think "If I Stay" has to do a fair amount of juggling to get its premise to work, there is a cumulative power to it that I found undeniable and earned.

"Earned" is a big word for me in films like this. One of the biggest problems when you're making a film about love between people of any age is showing how love sparks between people and how it flourishes and doing it without giving in to short-cuts or cliche. How many times have you seen a supposed romance and the meeting is completely ridiculous? How many movies have you seen where you're supposed to just accept that characters have fallen in love because that's what the film needs them to do, not because of anything we see in the movie?

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Paul Rudd gets moody in San Francisco for first 'Ant-Man' photo
Credit: Marvel Studios

Paul Rudd gets moody in San Francisco for first 'Ant-Man' photo

So does this mean everything's fine now?

Oh, look, it's Ant-Man.

Actually, more accurately, it's Scott Lang, and it's a lovely foggy San Francisco day, and it's the first picture to prove that, yes, they are indeed in production now on Marvel's "Ant-Man," with Peyton Reed now directing.

I didn't realize San Francisco was the setting of the film, or any part of the film. I knew they were gearing up to shoot in Atlanta, so I guess I assumed that's where the film was set, or that they were using Atlanta to double for somewhere else. Right now, though, the production is here in California, making effective moody use of the Bay Area, and I like that first still.

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Exclusive: Scott Frank explains the 'present-day' Travis McGee he's making with James Magnold
Credit: Universal Pictures

Exclusive: Scott Frank explains the 'present-day' Travis McGee he's making with James Magnold

Which of John D. McDonald's books will they adapt first?

It is safe to say that I am very concerned about a Travis McGee film.

That's not to say I'm automatically negative about what's going to happen, but I think it's going to be tricky to get even one Travis McGee film right, much less an entire series of them. There's no way anyone gets a chance to make all 21 films in the series, nor do I think they should. Not every one of the books is perfect. I love them dearly, but there are certainly high points in the series, books I'd need to see brought to life, like "The Green Ripper." So if they're doing a film franchise, I'm curious how you even begin to make those choices.

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'Star Wars Episode VII': Sorting out the truth, rumor and speculation so far
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

'Star Wars Episode VII': Sorting out the truth, rumor and speculation so far

Plus we discuss what we hope this all means so far

It is a fascinating moment to be a "Star Wars" fan.

Right now, there is arguably more energy being expended on all things "Star Wars" than ever before. I remember the feeling in the early days of development on what became "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace," when there were just rumbles of a possible new film or even *GASP!* a new trilogy of films. Hell, I remember when the Special Editions were just a rumor. I remember when a friend of mine called and said, "They're not a rumor. I have something to show you." He came by my house with a videotape, and on that videotape was the very first teaser trailer for "Star Wars: A New Hope - The Special Edition," the very first new "Star Wars" footage in what had been fourteen years at that point. It was mind-blowing. It made me reassess what I had started to accept as the simple fact that there would never be more "Star Wars."

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Review: Michael Fassbender's performance anchors the eccentric 'Frank'
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Review: Michael Fassbender's performance anchors the eccentric 'Frank'

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
True life is just the jumping-off point for this one

It's safe to say that I won't see anything else like "Frank" this year, because I don't think there's a chance anyone's going to make anything else like "Frank" this year.

Written by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan, who previously collaborated on the adaptation of Ronson's book "The Men Who Stared At Goats," this is the story of an ambitious young musician named Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) who is struggling to define his own voice as a songwriter. He crosses paths with Soronprfbs, a very strange band as he watches their keyboardist try to drown himself, and thanks to that meltdown, Jon is given a chance to play with them.

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Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' will have a trailer attached to 'Sin City 2' in theaters only
Credit: Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' will have a trailer attached to 'Sin City 2' in theaters only

But what's it going to show?

What is Quentin Tarantino up to?

Man, I would love it if he's been sneaking around and shooting a movie without telling anyone. I don't think that's what happened… but who knows? I think it's far more likely that what we've heard is correct. The shoot will happen in the spring, and we can count on seeing the film in time for the holiday season in 2015.

But let's pretend for a moment. After all, word is breaking that The Weinstein Company will have a nearly two-minute-long trailer for "The Hateful 8" attached to the front of "Sin City 2" when it hits theaters next week. It appears the plan is not to officially put it online.

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