<p>Arnold is, indeed, back.</p>

Arnold is, indeed, back.

Credit: Lionsgate

Review: Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Last Stand' delivers big action fun

HitFix
B+
Readers
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Acclaimed Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon makes a strong US debut

There are very few actors who could walk away from the world of film for a decade and expect to be welcomed back by an audience, but Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a career out of defying the odds.  No one would have expected that a muscle-bound Austrian with a thick accent would be able to carve out a successful career starring in not only action films but comedies as well.  No one would have believed that America would embrace an action icon with the last name "Schwarzenegger."  And now, he manages another truly astonishing feat, returning to the world of movies after his time spent as the Governor of California, and to complicate things, he did it in a really good movie.

I am amazed that "The Last Stand" is as fun as it is, but I shouldn't be.  After all, it's directed by one of the few filmmakers to place not one but two films on my end-of-the-year top ten lists in the last decade.  Kim Jee-woon has more than proven himself as a significant voice in Korean cinema with movies like "The Foul King," "A Tale Of Two Sisters," and "A Bittersweet Life," but it was the back-to-back punch of "The Good, The Bad and the Weird" and "I Saw The Devil" that convinced me that he is an important voice in genre film.  He has a remarkable gift for staging action sequences, and he has a knack for building in all sorts of surprises into each sequence.  I honestly believe we'll be discussing his work for as long as I'm writing about film, and now we'll be able to add a chapter to that conversation in which we talk about how he snuck into the American system making a better-than-it-should-be Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie.

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<p>Bounty Hunter Embo was introduced in a 'Seven Samurai'-inspired episode of 'The Clone Wars,' and now Zack Snyder is apparently using the same film to inspire a stand-alone 'Star Wars' movie.</p>

Bounty Hunter Embo was introduced in a 'Seven Samurai'-inspired episode of 'The Clone Wars,' and now Zack Snyder is apparently using the same film to inspire a stand-alone 'Star Wars' movie.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Warner Home Video

Zack Snyder developing stand-alone 'Star Wars' film inspired by 'Seven Samurai'?

Kurosawa and 'Star Wars' have always gone hand-in-hand

The true test of the ongoing commercial appeal of "Star Wars" will not come with the release of Episodes VII, VIII, and IX.  The true test will come when they finally leave the story of the Skywalker family behind and begin telling stories that are set in the universe that George Lucas created, but that explore new corners and new characters.

That test may be coming sooner than anticipated, and I am eager to see how it plays out.  Zack Snyder is developing a stand-alone film that uses Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" as a foundation, according to a report this morning on Vulture, and that seems like a perfectly logical development.  After all, "Star Wars" has Kurosawa in its DNA in a major way.  The first film in 1977 was directly inspired by elements from "The Hidden Fortress," and when Lucas began casting the movie, they made overtures to Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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<p>Josh Brolin was in an unusually outgoing mood when we sat down to talk about his work in this weekend's new release, 'Gangster Squad'</p>

Josh Brolin was in an unusually outgoing mood when we sat down to talk about his work in this weekend's new release, 'Gangster Squad'

Credit: HitFix

Josh Brolin talks about throwing punches with Sean Penn in 'Gangster Squad'

Plus he threatens to report me to Penn over a comment

One of the most distinct memories I have involving Josh Brolin took place on the set of "Jonah Hex," where we interviewed him standing outside on a muggy New Orleans night, a few yards away from a swamp where there were alligators visibly checking us out.  Brolin's extensive prosthetic work in the film made it nearly impossible to understand him when he spoke, but he seemed delighted by the way it affected him.

Brolin strikes me as the kind of guy who loves to immerse himself in a role, losing himself in the little details.  I think the way he has evolved as a performer has been impressive, and it would have been impossible to guess back in the early days of "The Goonies" and "Thrashin'" that he would evolve into one of our most interesting leading men.  As I mentioned to him at the end of this interview, I value his presence in movies precisely because of the mileage that is so evident on him these days.  This is a guy who has lived, and who has built up his fair share of scar tissue.

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<p>More of this but in 3D?&nbsp; Bring it on, Summer 2014.</p>

More of this but in 3D?  Bring it on, Summer 2014.

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Jurassic Park 4' sets a 2014 release date but still has no director

Someone's got their work cut out for them

It has always been the goal of Universal and Amblin' to continue making "Jurassic Park" movies, and part of me wishes they would have greenlit the insane version that John Sayles and William Monahan wrote a few years back about a commando team of genetically-modified dinosaur/human hybrid creatures who were sent in to destroy South American drug cartels.

Alas, we have lost our opportunity to witness that particular strain of madness, and instead, there's another version that they've been developing, with Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver scripting it.  That's one of those totally logical moves considering "Rise Of The Planet of The Apes" managed to salvage a property that Fox had been frustrated by for decades.

Universal seems confident that the latest draft of the script cracked whatever problems they've been having, because they just set a release date for the film of June 13, 2014.

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<p>There are many reasons Hollywood rewarded 'Life Of Pi' with numerous nominations today, not the least of which is because it's so durn pretty.</p>

There are many reasons Hollywood rewarded 'Life Of Pi' with numerous nominations today, not the least of which is because it's so durn pretty.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

What the Oscar nominations really say about Hollywood 2013

This is the industry's chance to define themselves for the world each year

I do not cover the Oscars here at HitFix, something that was voluntary.  For one thing, we've got Greg Ellwood doing a great job of it with his Awards Campaign blog, and Greg has actually worked on Oscar campaigns back when he was working in studio publicity.  He understands the psychology of the campaigns, and he also knows the Academy members who are voting and he has a sense of what they feel as the season wears on.  Then we added Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge to the HitFix family, bringing their In Contention site into the fold, and that means we've got a lot of really smart and committed awards-season writers doing a great job of covering the ins and outs of Oscar all year round.

Then there's my whole attitude about the Oscars, which I've been vocal about here in the past.  One year, I did a live-tweet of "Vampire Circus" on Blu-ray during the Oscars, and then last year, I had a very strange experience when Greg had an experimental television delivered to my house and I ended up live-blogging a ceremony that was broadcast from an alternate dimension.  But this year, instead of just bitching about the awards again on nomination day, I thought I'd try something a little different, something that treats the Oscars seriously, but from a different perspective.

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<p>Kurse was one of Thor's most powerful opponents in the comics, but he had the help of The Beyonder, raising the question of whether or not the character might appear in 'Thor:&nbsp;The Dark World'</p>

Kurse was one of Thor's most powerful opponents in the comics, but he had the help of The Beyonder, raising the question of whether or not the character might appear in 'Thor: The Dark World'

Credit: Marvel Comics

Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in 'Thor: The Dark World'?

It would certainly turn up the stakes for 'The Avengers 2'

Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in "Thor: The Dark World" this coming November?

A few hours ago, I got an e-mail pitching me an interview with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje because he has three movies coming out this year.  I don't need much convincing about him in general.  I've been a fan since he appeared as the terrifying Adibisi, and I'd like to interview him just to finally ask how the hell he kept that hat on in that series.  He was also Mr. Eko in "Lost," a role that he made seem more significant than it ended up being in the end.  He's a talented guy, and he's impossible to forget after you've seen him work.

So in this e-mail, they went over his roles this year.  First, there's "Bullet In The Head," the Walter Hill action film that stars Sylvester Stallone.  He's also going to be at Sundance to promote the film "The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister and Pete," which he stars in with Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks.  But in the description of his role in "Thor: The Dark World," they highlight that he's playing both "Algrim The Strong" and "Kurse."

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<p>If I was friends with Emma Stone, I would go out of my way to find something to say to her every single day that would make her make this face.</p>

If I was friends with Emma Stone, I would go out of my way to find something to say to her every single day that would make her make this face.

Credit: HitFix

Emma Stone talks about working with Gosling again and dressing up for 'Gangster Squad'

One of Hollywood's most charming young stars does not disappoint

Not every movie star works for every audience.  There are people who make me happy every time they show up in a movie, and they haven't caught on with the mainstream for whatever reason, and there are movie stars I find baffling.  Often, fandom finds itself divided along gender lines for reasons both obvious and not so obvious.  What studios and filmmakers always hope for is a star who unites people, and Emma Stone appears to be just such a star.

There are many reasons people find her appealing.  She's got great comic timing, and she seems to handle herself just as well in interviews as she does when her dialogue is scripted.  She also rarely seems to take fame seriously, which is a healthy attitude.  She's been smart so far about the films she's chosen and the collaborators she works with, and if anyone in her age group is poised for a long and interesting career, it's her.

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<p>Despite those sleepy eyes and his devastating smile, I managed to keep most of my clothes on during my Ryan Gosling interview for 'Gangster Squad'.&nbsp; Impressive, no?</p>

Despite those sleepy eyes and his devastating smile, I managed to keep most of my clothes on during my Ryan Gosling interview for 'Gangster Squad'.  Impressive, no?

Credit: HitFix

Ryan Gosling discusses '40s slang and first crushes in 'Gangster Squad' interview

Plus read why Gosling is scared to work with Emma Stone

I've got a fistful of "Gangster Squad" interviews to run in the next few days, and I thought we'd kick things off with Ryan Gosling.  I know, I know… simmer down, ladies.

Gosling is at that strange place that actors find themselves sometimes where he's not really a box-office star by the standard definition.  His presence in a film doesn't automatically open the film, but he's certainly as high profile as an actor can be.  He's constantly photographed and magazines and tabloids spend a lot of column inches on him.  He has a fairly dedicated fanbase that can be very vocal, and it certainly feels like he's one big hit away from fulfilling that full star potential.

I don't get the feeling any of that is terribly important to him, though.

When we sat down to talk on Saturday, he was my first interview of the day, and he always strikes me as a guy who knows how silly the press junket format can be, and he guards himself, using humor to make it an easy day and to also deflect anything too personal.  He's good at making you feel at ease, and I would imagine that makes people feel like they can cross that line with him.  It's an illusion, though, and I wanted to keep things light.

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<p>This photo tells you everything you need to know about the relationship between Johnny Knoxville and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new action film 'The Last Stand'</p>

This photo tells you everything you need to know about the relationship between Johnny Knoxville and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new action film 'The Last Stand'

Credit: HitFix

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville discuss their unlikely partnership in 'The Last Stand'

Everything about this makes me smile

I've been interviewing Johnny Knoxville for what seems like a decade now, and living in LA, I find that I run into him on a fairly regular basis just out and about.  Perhaps because of the hyper-casual nature of "Jackass," he never seemed like a celebrity, but more like a friend who just happens to have a TV show.  That's part of the appeal of that program, and Knoxville is one of the easiest guys to talk to about his work that I've ever met.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is someone I've watched my whole life but who I never had reason to meet until last week.  Then, in one quick burst of three days, I rode a tank that he was driving, saw his new film "The Last Stand," and then sat down to interview him for the first time.  I could have happily spent a half hour talking to him by himself, but of course, that's not how these press days are set up.

Instead, you walk in, you get your four or five minutes, and then you're done.  And in this case, I had two people in one room.  Thankfully, the pairing of Knoxville and Schwarzenegger is just weird enough to be really entertaining, and the film they both star in surprised me enormously.

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<p>Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, and John Magaro all co-star in David Chase's 'Not Fade Away'</p>

Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, and John Magaro all co-star in David Chase's 'Not Fade Away'

Credit: HitFix

The young cast of David Chase's 'Not Fade Away' discuss their rock'n'roll education

Beatles or Stones? It's still one of the most pressing questions in life

If David Chase never worked again, his legacy would be completely assured because of the seismic impact that "The Sopranos" had on culture.  That's got to be an interesting feeling for an artist, knowing that you've created something that will endure, and it's the ultimate goal of creating and sharing work with other people.  You hope you'll be able to reach the largest possible audience, and when you do it and you see that work ripple through the rest of pop culture, it's a best case scenario.

Whatever you would expect as a follow-up to something like "The Sopranos," Chase had something else in mind, and his debut feature film is now playing in limited release.  It's a gentle, heartfelt look back at the '60s and the way rock'n'roll changed the world, told on a personal scale.

John Magaro stars in the film as Douglas, a kid who has his world turned upside down by the British Invasion.  He sees rock'n'roll as his way out of the life that he was born into, and more importantly, he sees it as a way of winning the woman he wants, played by Bella Heathcote.  It is a small personal story, filled with specific observations, and it feels nakedly autobiographical.  Jack Huston co-stars as another member of the band that Douglas starts, and when I sat down with Magaro, Heathcote, and Huston, I was curious about their own backgrounds in music.

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