<p>You want to fix your franchise?&nbsp;Just add The Rock.</p>

You want to fix your franchise? Just add The Rock.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Dwayne Johnson and Adrianne Palicki make 'GI Joe: Retaliation' serious fun

HitFix
B-
Readers
B-
Jon Chu's obvious fandom makes this one feel especially sincere

I had fun with "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra," and I don't remotely feel bad about it. Stephen Sommers isn't a great overall storyteller, but when it comes to ridiculous action movies that seem giddy on their own invention, Sommers has done it right more often than wrong. I think "Van Helsing" is so bad and such a frustrating botch of a decent high concept that is almost erased any goodwill he'd ever built up as a director, but "G.I. Joe" felt like a nice rebound.

When I praised the film, I made the very clear distinction that I liked the energy with which he told the story and the reality that the movie created. I thought Channing Tatum was miscast in the lead, and when I recently rewatched the film, I feel like it's pretty clear that Tatum hadn't really relaxed into his own talents as a performer yet. I felt like the film had a pretty clear shot at kickstarting a series, and while I enjoyed it, I think Sommers didn't care about doing "G.I. Joe" the way the fans would want to see, but instead used "G.I. Joe" as an excuse to make a Stephen Sommers movie that just happened to use a sort of sci-fi military premise that fit the title.

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<p>Gerard Butler is in prime 'Die Hard' mode in the exceptionally silly 'Olympus Has Fallen'</p>

Gerard Butler is in prime 'Die Hard' mode in the exceptionally silly 'Olympus Has Fallen'

Credit: Millennium Films

Review: 'Olympus Has Fallen' is silly and shamelessly jingoistic fun

HitFix
C
Readers
C+
Should we be comfortable with this sort of cartoon villainization?

At least someone still knows how to make "Die Hard" movies.

There is very little about "Olympus Has Fallen" that I would consider fresh or surprising, but Antoine Fuqua does a nice job of creating a certain degree of tension that he manages to sustain for most of the film's running time, and as an action movie, it is satisfying. I am startled by a few major technical issues with the film, but for the most part, I enjoyed it as I watched.

On the other hand, if I take a step back and view it through any sort of political filter, it's kind of horrifying. And considering where we are right now in our relationship with North Korea, the film feels ill-timed at best, downright inflammatory at worst. Last year's terrible "Red Dawn" remake was too chuckleheaded to be taken seriously by anyone. "Olympus" follows a pretty familiar shape, and the extended opening sequence serves to set up Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a Secret Service agent who is basically a surrogate member of the First Family. When we meet him, he's in the boxing ring, sparring with President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), who is wrapping up a family trip to Camp David so he can head out to a major fundraising event, his wife Margaret (Ashley Judd) and his son Connor (Finley Jacobsen) in tow. On the icy road as they head into town, there is a terrible car accident, and Banning makes a choice that ends with him being transferred permanently off the President's detail.

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<p>Ryan Gosling will give you all the punches.</p>

Ryan Gosling will give you all the punches.

Credit: Nicolas Winding Refn

Director of 'Drive' reveals new Gosling images from 'Only God Forgives' via Twitter

Refn's new one looks stylish and violent already

I'm really curious to see how Twitter evolves in the future. It's gone from what I considered a ridiculous idea the first time I heard about it to a very powerful form of social media where information is shared in new ways and at lightning speed. I think people are trying to figure out how to game Twitter in some cases, and in other cases I see people simply being people, using it in a very pure and sincere way, and there's no rules that dictate how it has to be at this point.

I know that there is actual language in contracts these days that mandates that certain people have to maintain a social media presence, and there are agencies that exist to provide people who can manage that presence for you. In some cases, when you read the Twitter feed of a public figure, you're getting something that's been vetted, something that is written by committee and used to release certain publicity materials at certain times.

Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling working together is automatically interesting after their collaboration on "Drvie." I think it's safe to say that they now demand a certain level of curiosity just by virtue of what they each bring to the table. Gosling's taste is great nine times out of ten, and that tenth time, I can almost always understand what attracted him to the project. He picks his scripts and his directors with care, and I think it speaks well of him that filmmakers seem to like to work with him more than once if possible.

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<p>Between takes on the set of 'Star Trek Into Darkness,' Chris Pine likes to entertain the cast and crew with his impression of Cesar Romero as The Joker</p>

Between takes on the set of 'Star Trek Into Darkness,' Chris Pine likes to entertain the cast and crew with his impression of Cesar Romero as The Joker

Credit: Paramount Pictures

One more international trailer for 'Star Trek Into Darkness' manages to still keep secrets

Can Paramount make it to release without spoilers being leaked?

It's amazing to me that we've got a new "Star Trek" movie hitting theaters in May and we still know very little about it. Amazing and, I must say, highly enjoyable.

At this point, I've decided that even in my review, I'm not going to spell out the details of who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing in the film. At this point, if Paramount and Bad Robot have successfully kept the true nature of "John Harrison" a secret, then more power to them. I think it's an interesting coincidence that they're using Robert April so prominently in the "Countdown To Darkness" comic series that IDW is publishing, since I was the one person to point the finger at April as the possible identity of Cumberbatch in the film, but I suspect even that is part of the misdirect.

What I do know for sure is that this is a seriously confident marketing push so far. This new international trailer has some great imagery, and I like that we're still not seeing a polished and practiced crew onboard the Enterprise. I don't mind seeing this new configuration of the classic characters go through some difficult learning experiences on their way to becoming the iconic characters of the original series. I hope they hold off on assigning them on their five-year mission until they've been well and truly tested as a team. After all, you'd send your best and brightest out there to make first contact with a wild and untamed universe, wouldn't you? And right now, these characters are still learning how to be a united crew.

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<p>Christina Applegate will follow up her currently-shooting role in 'Anchorman 2' by co-starring in the upcoming 'Vacation' reboot</p>

Christina Applegate will follow up her currently-shooting role in 'Anchorman 2' by co-starring in the upcoming 'Vacation' reboot

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Christina Applegate will take a 'Vacation' with Ed Helms

One of the most reliable female comedy leads working joins the reboot's cast

Christina Applegate is an example of how a young performer can make a graceful and successful transition to an adult career, and every time I hear someone make excuses for a Lindsay Lohan or an Amanda Bynes during a spectacular public flame-out, I feel like Applegate is the perfect way to refute the claims that it's the system that ruins these people.

After all, when Applegate was cast on "Married With Children," she was a kid, and she'd already been acting for the better part of a decade. She did guest bits on TV shows like "Charles In Charge" and played small roles like the young Grace Kelly in a TV movie.  "Married" was the moment she finally made a real impression, though, and the character she played was a heavy metal bimbo. If anyone was set for inappropriate attention and plenty of it, it was her, and yet from the very start, it was obvious she had a phenomenal sense of timing. There were a few attempts to build movies around her while "Married" was still on the air, but nothing really clicked. It seemed like TV was going to be the place where she worked best, and networks seemed determined to build shows around her. "Jesse" ran for 2 seasons, but I'll bet most people would be hard-pressed to even remember what that is at this point.

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<p>The new animated film from the director of 'How To Train Your Dragon' and 'Lilo &amp;&nbsp;Stitch' may play the jokes broad, but there's real heart to the way it portrays family.</p>

The new animated film from the director of 'How To Train Your Dragon' and 'Lilo & Stitch' may play the jokes broad, but there's real heart to the way it portrays family.

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

Review: 'The Croods' may be obvious, but its heart is in the right place

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Strong vocal performances anchor a silly but sentimental film

Chris Sanders seems to me to be one of the shining stars in the animation world right now, and while I don't think his new film 'The Croods' is as great as either "How To Train Your Dragon" or "Lilo & Stitch," it's still a solid execution of a fairly simple idea. There are some visually breathtaking moments, and the family material in the film is executed with real heart, directly and honestly. For families who have been waiting for a movie to see together for most of the spring, "The Croods" is going to be a welcome sight, indeed.

Eep (voiced by Emma Stone) is a typical teenage girl, bristling at the restrictive rules her parents live by, eager to see the wider world around her, and able to hunt and kill prey with her bare hands. She is, after all, a caveman. Or cavegirl. Or whatever you'd call her. She lives with her father Grug (Nicolas Cage), her mother Ugga (Catherine Keener), her brother Thunk (Clark Duke), her grandmother (Cloris Leachman), and her baby sister Sandy, and they spend most of their time blocked safely in their cave, afraid of the outside world. They venture out to eat, and that's about it. Grug believes the entire world is a threat, and there's value in fear. To his credit, pretty much everyone they've ever known has been eaten or stepped on or otherwise killed, and they are the last of their kind that they know of, so there's some justification for the way Grug feels.

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<p>I hope he looks exactly like this is the new movie, but it's otherwise gritty and dark. That would rule.</p>

I hope he looks exactly like this is the new movie, but it's otherwise gritty and dark. That would rule.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Disney's got David Lowery jumping from a Sundance triumph to the 'Pete's Dragon' remake

Does this mean Shane Carruth might direct? Probably not, but let us dream

I should start this by saying that David Lowery was a regular contributor of reviews to Ain't Cool News for many years while I was an editor at the site. He wrote as "Ghostboy," and he was always one of the quietest but most consistent of the reviewers we had sending us material. I always looked forward to seeing what he had to say, and he had a good eye for films that were worth catching up with as soon as possible. I've "known" David online for years, but to my great amusement, we've still never actually met.

This year, Lowery was all over Sundance. He was the editor of "Upstream Color," the Shane Carruth film, he was the writer of "Pit Stop," and he made his feature directorial debut with "Ain't Them Bodies Saints."  There's not one of those three films that would have given me any indication that he would be the person Disney would turn to in the hopes of rebooting "Pete's Dragon."

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<p>It's been a long journey from the original Japanese film to the new American reboot, but it looks like Godzilla may finally be scary again next summer.</p>

It's been a long journey from the original Japanese film to the new American reboot, but it looks like Godzilla may finally be scary again next summer.

Credit: Toho Studios

'Godzilla' begins production and Gareth Edwards says hello from the set

Hard to believe the big guy's back in theaters in just over a year

Today, for the first time in a while, there is a Godzilla movie shooting somewhere in the world.

I can't believe it was 2004 when I wrote about the Hollywood premiere of "Godzilla: Final Wars." At the time, Toho was experiencing some kaiju fatigue, and they declared that they were finished. They've actually stuck true to their word in the years since, and as a result, Godzilla has been absent from the bigscreen for the better part of a decade now.

Considering what an important overall cultural icon he is, it's sort of amazing they've been willing to keep him off-screen for this long. Toho considers him one of the most important assets they own as a studio, and the decision to allow Hollywood to take another crack at the character could not have been an easy one for them.

This has been a long and careful process for Legendary Pictures, too. They know how badly things went with the Devlin/Emmerich version, and they seem to understand what some of the most pronounced mistakes were with that film. But knowing what's wrong and fixing what was wrong are two different things, and Legendary has been moving slowly during pre-production on this because they didn't want to screw it up a second time.

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<p>Tina Fey should take Paul Rudd and that suitcase and take off in search of a better script than 'Admission'</p>

Tina Fey should take Paul Rudd and that suitcase and take off in search of a better script than 'Admission'

Credit: Focus Features

Review: 'Admission' wastes the considerable charms of Tina Fey and Paul Rudd

HitFix
C-
Readers
n/a
The director of 'About A Boy' whiffs his latest adaptation of a novel

I haven't read the novel by Jean Hanff Koreltiz that served as the source material for the new film "Admission," but Karen Croner's screenplay is one of those films where the lead characters are ostensibly smart people who do some oddly not-so-smart things for reasons that seem less than genuine. I wouldn't call "Admission" a bad film, but I think it's a muted pleasure at best, even with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd both doing their best to keep things light and charming.

Fey stars as Portia Nathan, who works at Princeton as one of the gatekeepers who help decide who gets into the school and who doesn't. Portia is portrayed as one of those people who has no real life outside of her job as the film begins, and she seems fine with that. Her devotion is one of the reasons she ends up as a candidate to replace her boss (Wallace Shawn), the department head who is about to retire. All she has to do is buckle down for one more admissions season, do her job as well as she always has, and then reap the rewards.

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<p>Just how many spy franchises does one man need?</p>

Just how many spy franchises does one man need?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Is signing Tom Cruise to star in 'Man From UNCLE' an impossible mission?

Guy Ritchie's big-screen version is looking for a lead

When I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago for the "Incredible Burt Wonderstone" press day, part of what we did involved a tour of David Copperfield's private magic museum. In order to get into the museum, you have to go through an outer room that is a reproduction of the men's wear store that his parents owned. Before showing us the secret door that would open the door to the inner warehouse, Copperfield told us that his favorite show as a kid was "The Man From UNCLE," and as soon as he said it, the theme started playing.

To some degree, "The Man From UNCLE" has always been the poor cousin to other spy shows. Norman Felton is the creator of the show, but his work was overshadowed by the publicity around Ian Fleming, who created two characters for the show. Napoleon Solo and April Dancer (who later served as the lead in "The Girl From UNCLE") both came from the back-and-forth between Fleming and Felton, and there was a point where the show was going to be called "Ian Fleming's Solo." The James Bond producers sued to prevent the show from using Fleming's name in the promotions for the show, and his work was just a small part of the overall premise. Producer Sam Rolfe also played a big part in coming up with the details of how UNCLE worked. Once the show went on the air, it was quickly turned into a buddy show, with Robert Vaughn playing Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin. The series ran for 105 episodes in the mid-to-late '60s, and it was a massive cultural hit.

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