<p>Paul Giamatti, seen here at the Sundance Film Festival, is in talks to join the cast of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'</p>

Paul Giamatti, seen here at the Sundance Film Festival, is in talks to join the cast of 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'

Credit: AP Photo/Victoria Will

Paul Giamatti may be The Rhino for 'Amazing Spider-Man' sequel

And Felicity Jones is also preparing to join the cast for part two

Paul Giamatti as The Rhino?

I'll say this for Marc Webb.  He's got one hell of a cast put together for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."  At this point, it seems like actors have all decided that everyone does a superhero movie at some point, so why not pick a side (good or evil) and just have fun with it?

Giamatti is a real-deal genre nerd.  The first time I was introduced to him was on the set of "Shoot 'Em Up," and it was obvious after a half-hour of conversation that this was a guy with a voracious genre appetite.  He's joining a great cast.  Obviously you've got Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Sally Field all returning from the first film, and two of the darlings of this year's Sundance Film Festival are joining the cast, since Shailene Woodley has been added as Mary Jane Watson and Dane DeHaan is going to play Harry Osborne.

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<p>Who would be your perfect fit when Marvel finally brings Dr. Strange to the screen as part of their Phase Three?</p>

Who would be your perfect fit when Marvel finally brings Dr. Strange to the screen as part of their Phase Three?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Kevin Feige promises 'Ant-Man' in 2015 and Dr. Strange as part of Marvel's Phase Three

Could we expect a 'Black Panther' film in the mix as well?

Last year, one of the most interesting parts of the Marvel panel at the San Diego Comic-Con was the presentation of the test footage for Edgar Wright's long-developing "Ant-Man" movie.

It was surprisingly rough, but I think it speaks to Marvel's enthusiasm for the project that they would decide to show it anyway.  As a proof-of-concept, it's incredibly effective.  Basically, it's just Ant-Man running down a hallway and then knocking out a couple of goons with guns.  What makes it feel so fresh is the way Ant-Man alters his own size during the run and the fight.  Devin Faraci described it as "size fu" after we all saw that Comic-Con panel, and that's a perfect way to sum up what it is that Wright seems to be doing.  He and Joe Cornish have been working on a script for the film for a while now, in-between other projects, and it looks like they've decided where "Ant-Man" fits into the larger picture.

Kevin Feige spoke to MTV Splash Page about Phase Three, which is going to be the batch of films made after "The Avengers 2" arrives in theaters in 2015.  They set a November 6, 2015 release date for the film in October last year, and Feige set the record straight on how "Ant-Man" fits into things.  It sounds like they're going to really start to stretch and try new things once they've got "The Avengers 2" in theaters, which Feige says is coming together well right now. 

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<p>'Wait a minute... this isn't the actual script we're using, is it?' 'I don't know. I'm just picking up paychecks till it's time for the Avengers sequel.'</p>

'Wait a minute... this isn't the actual script we're using, is it?' 'I don't know. I'm just picking up paychecks till it's time for the Avengers sequel.'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters' sets the bar high for 2013's worst films

HitFix
D
Readers
B
Who was this made for, and why?

I reviewed Tommy Wirkola's "Dead Snow" at Sundance back in 2009, and I was not a fan.  As I said in that piece, "'Dead Snow' takes a really great monster to build a film around - Nazi zombies - and somehow adds up to total mediocrity in execution."  Well, looks like Wirkola is two for two now.  When you're making a film called "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," you can approach it as a horror film first, or you can approach it as a dark comedy, or you could perhaps approach it as a really boring action movie that flubs both the horror and the comedy.

Guess which approach Wirkola opted for.

The script by Wirkola and Dante Harper opens with a very dark rendition of the classic Hansel and Gretel story, and right away, it feels like they're rushing to get through that moment instead of taking the time to tell it.  I think it's actually sort of clever to start with that fairy tale, let us really see what that witch is like, and then once the kids deal with her and save themselves, jump forward to see that they've taken this on as their life's work.  I can see how that premise could work.  It just doesn't work here, in this film.

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<p>More of this, please.</p>

More of this, please.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Why JJ Abrams is the right choice for 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

It looks like he's got the job, and that's a good thing

Unsurprisingly, I think it's promising news that JJ Abrams is going to direct "Star Wars: Episode VII."

Since there's no officially confirmation yet and I haven't personally confirmed things with any of the involved parties, I'm taking on faith that Lucas Shaw broke the biggest film news of the very young year.  If his story is accurate, then Abrams has the job.  Done deal.  Signed.  That's the specific language of his story, and the five billion sites that have also "confirmed" the story (ie posted The Wrap's story) are reporting this as done.  Closed.  This is happening.

Okay, so let's take it as 100% accurate right now.  Somewhere in LA, Abrams is wrapping up post-production on "Star Trek Into Darkness," approving FX shots and listening to tweaks on the sound mix and making sure it's as tight as it's going to get, and at the same time, he's got Michael Arndt's treatment (or script pages at this point for all I know) bouncing around in his head, and he's already dreaming about what he's going to do with "Star Wars."

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<p>As you can see, Tom Lennon is a very, very serious man.</p>

As you can see, Tom Lennon is a very, very serious man.

Credit: HitFix

Tom Lennon discusses the genius of Keegan Michael Key and Riki Lindhome's nudity in 'Hell Baby'

An uncensored video interview also spends a disturbing amount of time on Michael Ian Black in bike shorts

Thomas Lennon and I have several things in common.  We were both born in 1970.  We are both huge fans of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."  We both look spectacular in tiny shorts.  And I'm pretty sure we both think "Hell Baby" is very funny.

"Hell Baby" is, of course, the film that Lennon co-directed with his long-time co-writer Robert Ben Garant, and I reviewed the movie after its first midnight screening at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  A few days later, I sat down with Lennon at the Yarrow Hotel for a conversation that covered a number of topics.

For example, you'll hear a lot about Michael Ian Black and his penis and a pair of disturbingly tight bike shorts.

You'll also hear about Riki Lindhome's startling nude scene in the film.  Like, it's the most naked I've ever seen someone appear in a film.  It's the sort of nudity that makes screen caps redundant, because by the time it's over, there is no way you will ever forget it.

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<p>There is a lot of teabagging in 'Virtually Heroes.' Like really, a lot. Like however much you think, multiply that by two. And in that sense, 'Virtually Heroes' may be a completely accurate picture of online life in 2012.</p>

There is a lot of teabagging in 'Virtually Heroes.' Like really, a lot. Like however much you think, multiply that by two. And in that sense, 'Virtually Heroes' may be a completely accurate picture of online life in 2012.

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'Virtually Heroes' is a meta-mess of a video game comedy at Sundance Midnights

HitFix
C-
Readers
A+
Some good ideas can't survive a tone-deaf execution

PARK CITY - Look, if I ran a film festival, I'd take every opportunity that arose to invite Roger Corman to attend, too.  He's Roger Corman.  That's awesome.

But when I think of the midnight movie selections at Sundance, I think of genuinely edgy or interesting or ambitious movies.  Every festival that does midnight movies does it differently.  Sundance's midnights are not the same as Toronto's midnights.  At all.  I expect a certain something from the midnights here, and I'm not sure I get what the programmers saw in "Virtually Heroes," a video game/action movie mash-up that features Mark Hamill in a supporting role and that has Corman's name on it to boot.

There's a big difference between making a movie that is about gaming and making a movie that is an adaptation of a game.  Matt Yamashita's screenplay does seem to have a real understanding of the mechanics of video games, the places where the artificial nature of the world of the game simply gives out.  It's not a bad script, but it does lay out its biggest jokes early and then it sort of hammers those points over and over.  If this had been a short, I think it might have been sort of great.  There are just enough good ideas here for about 20 minutes of run time, but in a 90 minute film.  Even then, I have some issues with the filmmaking itself.  While I think Yamashita's script demonstrates some first-hand experience with gaming, the direction by G.J. Echternkamp is tin-eared almost from start to finish.

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<p>That's Brad Bird at the International Spy Museum in Washington talking to Hiestand Mendez, former head of the CIA's department of disguise and clandestine photography. BECAUSE&nbsp;THAT&nbsp;IS&nbsp;AWESOME.</p>

That's Brad Bird at the International Spy Museum in Washington talking to Hiestand Mendez, former head of the CIA's department of disguise and clandestine photography. BECAUSE THAT IS AWESOME.

Credit: Kevin Wolf/AP Images

Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof give us a sneak peek inside their sci-fi project '1952'

A single Twitter photo, but so many clues

The teasing has begun.

There are not nearly enough Brad Bird films in the world.  I just went and counted, and it's still way less than 1000, a situation I find completely unacceptable.  As long as I've been writing about movies online, I've been writing about Brad Bird movies.  I would still call the coverage I did on "The Iron Giant" some of the best stuff I've ever published, and it's been a real pleasure catching up with him on "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," and "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol."  In addition to have a remarkable story sense and a great knack for comic timing, Bird just plain loves movies, and that love informs pretty much every scene of everything he's ever made as a director.

Knowing there is a new Brad Bird film in development has me anxious enough.  I want to know everything, but I don't want to know anything.  I would love to see the whole thing right this second, but I'm terrified that I'll ruin it for myself as I cover it between now and whenever it finally comes out.  For the most part, Bird's been playing mum, and even as people have been clamoring for him as one of the best possible director choices Disney could make regarding the new "Star Wars" movies, he's been hard at work on "1952," a film that Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen are currently writing for Bird to direct.

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<p>Could this be two captains of the <em>Enterprise</em> in the same shot?</p>

Could this be two captains of the Enterprise in the same shot?

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Did the new 'Star Trek' comic confirm our theory about the bad guy in 'Into Darkness'?

Remember when we half-jokingly mentioned Robert April? Well, we're not laughing now.

When I was at the "Star Trek Into Darkness" press day at the end of last year, I noticed something that I mentioned in the article, a passing reference to "April" on some of the production design artwork.

Keep in mind this was the same day we first learned the official name of Benedict Cumberbatch's character in the film, "John Harrison."  This seemed to confuse people who have been reading every single word about the sequel that has been printed online.  After all, Bob Orci said at one point that the villain in the new movie is a character who appears in canon, which is one reason why many people made the jump to assuming that it was Khan or maybe Gary Mitchell.

Mitchell had to be ruled out early, though, because he made an appearance in the IDW comic tie-in to the Abrams film, and Orci and Kurtman have both said that the comic series is meant to be taken as part of the continuity of the film series.  If that's true, then maybe the half-baked theory I posted after seeing that mention of April isn't that half-baked after all.

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<p>Allison Brie and Nick Offerman play strong supporting roles in 'Toy's House,' a sharp and funny coming-of-age story at this year's Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Allison Brie and Nick Offerman play strong supporting roles in 'Toy's House,' a sharp and funny coming-of-age story at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'Toy's House' features a wickedly funny Nick Offerman and a great young cast

HitFix
B
Readers
A-
Jordan Vogt-Roberts makes a promising coming-of-age debut

PARK CITY - As we were waiting for a press and industry screening of "Toy's House" to start today, I said to a few friends I was sitting with, "This Sundance is distressingly light on Nick Offerman sightings so far."  When they informed me that he was part of the cast of "Toy's House," I took that to be a very good sign indeed, since I had no idea that was the case.  I knew nothing about the film when walking in today except that my friend Erik Davis saw it at an earlier screening and really enjoyed it.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this review, Nick Offerman and Allison Brie are both in the film, and they're certainly good in it.  It would be deceptive to say they are the stars of the film, though, because the real center of this picture, written by Chris Galletta and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is the unlikely summer friendship between Joe Toy (Nick Robinson), Patrick Keenan (Gabriel Basso), and the official winner of the "Oh my god have you seen this guy?" award for this year's Sundance Film Festival, Moises Arias, who plays Biaggio.  These three guys have just finished their freshman year of high school, and while it wasn't exactly a living hell, they don't seem to have made any real shift in their spot in the social pecking order.  Joe and Patrick are old friends, while Biaggio just sort of starts hanging around.  He decides these are his friends and he just joins them. Constantly. Whether he's been invited or not.

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<p>Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch bond in the unconventional new David Gordon Green film 'Prince Avalanche'</p>

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch bond in the unconventional new David Gordon Green film 'Prince Avalanche'

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Review: 'Prince Avalanche' strands Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch in the nowheres of Texas

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
David Gordon Green's latest may please fans of his earlier films

PARK CITY - I think it's safe to say that at this point, I have no idea what constitutes a David Gordon Green movie.  Is he the filmmaker who directed "Snow Angels" and "All The Real Girls" and "George Washington"?  Is he the comedy fan who made "Pineapple Express" and directed episodes of "Eastbound and Down" and who made "Your Highness"?  He's one of these guys who seem to have slipped loose from any sort of box that Hollywood tried to put him in, and so walking in to see something he's made these days, I've learned to leave expectations at the door and to meet the films on their own terms.

Set in the aftermath of some brutal Texas wildfires, "Prince Avalanche" is a small character driven film about two guys working a road repair crew through a seldom-used rural area.  Alvin is the older guy, the one who got the job in the first place, the one who knows how to live out in the Texas woods.  He's got a girlfriend back home, he's sending her money, he's using his time to read and paint and better himself.  Lance (Emile Hirsch) is the younger brother of Madison, the girl Alvin loves.  Lance doesn't know the first thing about camping or working or much of anything.  He's all impulse, a jittery little goofball.  Alvin finds himself frustrated with the kid most of the time, but he's making the effort because he loves Lance's sister and he wants to help her.

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