<p>It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

It pretty much looked exactly like this when we sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to discuss his role in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. hints at the future of Iron Man and working with Shane Black again

A fast and loose chat with Downey about the latest chapter in the mega-franchise

I've interviewed Robert Downey Jr. enough times now to know that the way it works is you give him a little question and you sit back and let that brain of his spin. The reason I can't imagine anyone else playing the Tony Stark we've seen in the Marvel movies so far is because that character is so closely tied to the qualities I've seen in the real Downey off-screen. In some weird way, the "Iron Man" films will eventually serve as a highly stylized form of autobiography, telling the story of Downey's enormous promise, his rocky years of self-destruction, and his eventual metamorphosis into the blockbuster-friendly charm machine that he's become.

We had twenty minutes with him.  There were four or five of us around the table.  When he strolled in, he had with him "The Box," his omnipresent collection of various vitamins and health supplements, and he looked healthy and happy.  We jumped right in, asking him if he had any hesitations or worries about playing the character for the fourth time.  "This is… the grab bag wish list of things we've always wanted to do and haven't had the chance," he said.  He had his own expectations for the sequel, and they were hefty, to say the least.  "[This] was supposed to answer all the questions for the audience, cure all my uncomfortable moments in the past playing this character, and get in every idea that fell by the wayside in the last three movies. Then we shot the movie and I feel like there’s still a number of other things we have to do."

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<p>I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'</p>

I'm getting the feeling there's not much time for this in 'Iron Man 3'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr, Kevin Feige and Shane Black host an early peek at 'Iron Man 3'

Plus the brand-new trailer for the film makes its debut online

I have carefully constructed my life so that I do not have to brave the horrors of Los Angeles morning rush hour traffic very often, and on the rare occasions I am willing to do so, it had better be for something worthwhile.

For example, if someone were to offer me a chance to sit down on a late January morning with Robert Downey Jr, Shane Black, and Kevin Feige to talk about "Iron Man 3," that would be worth it.  I don't often do roundtables, but in a situation like this one, I know everyone else at the table and I know all three of the people we'll be interviewing, and I have a pretty good idea that it's going to be a relaxed and informative conversation.

The morning began with them taking us over to a screening room and showing us the Super Bowl spot (keep in mind this was a few weeks early), and then they tried to show us the new trailer for the film.

"Which new trailer?" you ask.  Well, that would be this new trailer...

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<p>Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.</p>

Come on... Summer Glau with a sword and a tiny skirt? That's not even fair.

Credit: IndieVest

How can a film starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pudi and Summer Glau sit on a shelf for two years?

Who killed 'The Knights Of Badassdom'? Wade Bradley, apparently

It's popular for writers to grumble about the development process, and I've certainly got plenty of horror stories, both mine and those of my friends, about things that were said or done during notes meetings. Honestly, though, if you're paying a writer, then that's an expected part of things, and it's something that good writers learn how to handle with grace and with wit.

The true enemy right now, especially as the old filmmaking model starts to disintegrate and new models seem to spring up almost weekly, is the shady world of international financing. The absolute worst notes meeting I've ever had doesn't begin to compare to the amoral, unethical, and downright criminal things I have personally observed during the financing part of making a film. One bad deal can haunt you for years, and trusting the wrong person to be part of the financing team can absolutely destroy not only your film, but you as a filmmaker.

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<p>James Franco and Michelle Williams make some magic together in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'</p>

James Franco and Michelle Williams make some magic together in 'Oz The Great and Powerful'

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Review: 'Oz The Great and Powerful' should please Raimi fans and Oz fans in equal measure

HitFix
B+
Readers
C+
Despite a miscast lead, the film offers a lovely fantasy fable

Based on the billion-dollar worldwide box-office, I felt very alone when I despised Disney's "Alice In Wonderland" a few years ago.  The entire thing just made my skin crawl, and it seemed to me to demonstrate a near-total misunderstanding of Lewis Carrol's work.  When the first trailers started to arrive for Sam Raimi's "Oz The Great And Powerful," which opens this week, it looked like more of the same to me.  I love Raimi, but everything about this one had me worried when I walked into the theater.

Turns out there was nothing to worry about.

While it certainly fits neatly into the generic blockbuster mold that it seems like every studio uses these days, there's enough genuine wonder to make this work where "Alice" failed, and it honors the world that Frank L. Baum first created instead of trying to rebuild it into something it's not.  "Oz The Great and Powerful" is the story of a Wizard who does not exist, and the collision of four characters who all need or want him to exist for different reasons.  This collision leads to a collusion, an agreement that this symbol is more important than the truth, and this shared lie, this "Wizard Of Oz," manages to change everything as a result.

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<p>James Franco plays a morally shady version of the beloved Wizard in 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' and we sat down to talk to him about it.</p>

James Franco plays a morally shady version of the beloved Wizard in 'Oz The Great and Powerful,' and we sat down to talk to him about it.

Credit: HitFix

James Franco talks about protecting the Disney brand in 'Oz The Great And Powerful'

Reunited with Raimi, Franco talks about playing a sense of wonder

I didn't have a chance to see James Franco's film "Interior. Leather Bar" at Sundance, but I am certainly intrigued by the idea behind it.  Co-directed with Travis Mathews, it uses the footage that was deleted from William Friedkin's infamous movie "Cruising" to confront the hypocrisy that exists in the way gay sex and straight sex are portrayed onscreen and in the media.

Heady stuff, but it's pretty clear at this point that Franco loves confrontational art, and that one of the things he is intrigued by is the exploration of human sexuality on the fringe of the mainstream.

Today, Franco is speaking out about the Australian censorship of another movie by Mathews called "I Want Your Love." The unrated film features a six-minute unsimulated sex scene between two men, and it has now been banned from screening at festivals in Australia, which sent Franco running for YouTube so he could weigh in on the decision.  I like that Franco seems unconcerned about the giant mega-budget Disney family movie he's got coming out on Friday. There are plenty of movie stars who would steer clear of any controversy, especially one about explicit gay sex, during the week of release, but not Franco.

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<p>Steve Carrell seems highly entertained by the recent table read for 'Anchorman 2'</p>

Steve Carrell seems highly entertained by the recent table read for 'Anchorman 2'

Credit: HitFix

Steve Carrell can't keep a straight face when discussing 'Anchorman 2'

He seems just as excited by the upcoming sequel as we are

The first time I met Steve Carrell was on the set of the original "Anchorman."

I wasn't formally invited to the set, but a friend who was working on the film knew how excited I was about it being made, and he invited me to come down and see him while they were shooting on an exterior location.  It wasn't easy to find them in the particular corner of downtown LA where they were working, but I eventually made my way there, just in time to see them setting up to shoot the giant rumble between Ron Burgundy and his friends and the rival news teams from around San Diego.

It's one of the craziest moments in the film, and it was even crazier standing there watching it unfold.  When I watched them stage the moment where Brick, Carrell's character, killed a guy on horseback with a trident, I was sure we were never going to see that in the finished film. I had trouble believing something this gleefully ridiculous was ever going to make it intact to the screen for release.

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<p>Yep. This is going to be awesome.</p>

Yep. This is going to be awesome.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Harrison Ford joins the cast of 'Anchorman 2' as a veteran news anchor

Adam McKay's comedy sequel keeps getting more and more promising

Adam McKay has made many funny films, but I think he'd be the first to admit that there is something special about "Anchorman."

Part of that is the script, which might be the most unfettered bit of madness that McKay and Will Ferrell have put together so far, a celebration of a breed of glorious idiot that is far too rare today.  Part of that is the ensemble, packed with actors who were all completely in tune with the weird reality of the film, all of them free to try almost anything in front of the camera.  And part of it is because broadcast news is so preposterously silly, especially on the local level, that you barely have to exaggerate to make it work.

I thought one of the best things about the film was the way they suggested the '70s in little details like the non-stop littering or the smoking in public, accentuating some of the worst of the decade with glee.  When the sequel arrives in theaters in December, I'm excited to see how they have moved the cast up to the '80s, and it sounds like they are indeed dealing with the rise of the 24-hour-a-day news cycle thanks to the advent of the cable news networks.

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<p>This. Please.</p>

This. Please.

Credit: DC Comics

Are Christopher Nolan and David Goyer the solution to Warner's 'Justice League' woes?

Throw Christian Bale in the mix, and it all starts making sense

As of this moment, I have been sent five e-mails that offer up variations on the following theme:

"Ha ha I knew you were a liar and Joseph Gordon Levitt is NOT BATMAN! HA HA!"

You guys are cute. Here's the thing, though… while I have no doubt El Mayimbe's latest piece on what's happening at Warner Bros is factually accurate, I also have no doubt that things are changing weekly at Warner when it comes to the future of their DC Universe movies, and that the piece I wrote about Joseph Gordon-Levitt was accurate when I wrote and published it.

I can't imagine what the development meetings on "Justice League" have been like for the last year or so, since the release of "The Avengers," but I'm guessing it's been an exercise in both optimism and frustration. I think they have every right to be optimistic based on all the great characters they own under the DC banner, and they absolutely should be frustrated because from an outsider's perspective, it looks like the entire company is asleep at the wheel.

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<p>I have no idea what award George Clooney is holding here, but chances are he'll have even weirder things to deal with in Brad Bird's 'Tomorrowland'</p>

I have no idea what award George Clooney is holding here, but chances are he'll have even weirder things to deal with in Brad Bird's 'Tomorrowland'

Credit: AP Photo/dpa, Uli Deck

Exclusive: The secret of Brad Bird's 'Tomorrowland' is not what you think

Can misinformation hurt a film with the public as much as genuine spoilers?

Secrecy in Hollywood is a tricky thing.

When you're dealing with a collaborative art form, you have many people involved and at times, you have so many people involved that there is no way to keep them all locked down and on message, and things leak.  I've been the beneficiary of those leaks many times over the years, and I've had filmmakers ask me if there is any way to keep things from getting out.  There are ways to do it, but it can be tricky.

One of the most difficult points in the process to keep protected is casting because there is information that gets sent out to agencies, and in many cases, the entire script is also sent.  I've gotten some of my best scoops from friends at different agencies, and there are certain films that I put on a list to let those friends know that something is a priority. Sometimes you end up with a story because you've been chasing it, and sometimes things just fall into your hands.  It's a very strange process, all things considered.

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<p>Nicholas Hoult is front and center as the star of 'Jack The Giant Slayer'</p>

Nicholas Hoult is front and center as the star of 'Jack The Giant Slayer'

Credit: Warner Bros

Review: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, This 'Giant Slayer' is not much fun

HitFix
C+
Readers
B
it's a swing and a miss

I try not to pay too much attention to the reactions of others before I write a review, but sometimes it's hard to avoid.  I saw Devin Faraci refer to the film as "an atrocity" on Twitter, and I saw Harry Knowles argue that Devin's the wrong audience and that it's a kid's film so Devin's reaction isn't fair.  I've seen more reactions as negative as Devin's, and something I read actually compared the film to "The Princess Bride," which strikes me as something akin to blasphemy.  

I was surprised by the vehemence of Devin's reaction, but equally disappointed that Harry seems to dismiss some very real issues with the film by simply excusing it as a kid's film.  I think the frustrations I have stem from seeing things in the movie that suggest they could have pulled this one off.  I think they got more right than wrong, but it's unable to come together as a cohesive experience, and I'd love to know how the choices were made that ultimately make it feel like it missed the target.

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