<p>Joel Kinnaman tries to come to grips with his new identity in the remake of 'Robocop''</p>

Joel Kinnaman tries to come to grips with his new identity in the remake of 'Robocop''

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: 'Robocop' is a perfectly decent but mechanical remake

Someone looking for solid sci-fi action will most likely be pleased

Over the last few weeks, I've noticed a number of people start to hammer the drum that the 1987 film "Robocop" wasn't actually that good, and those of us who hold it dear as an example of how good filmed science-fiction can be are overinflating its reputation.

Hogwash. Balderdash. Nonsense and tomfoolery.

When the first film was released, I was a theater manager in Florida, and I can tell you that for almost six months before the film came out, that poster was a punchline to all of us who worked at the theater. I knew Paul Verhoeven's foreign films, and it looked to me like Hollywood had wooed him and then stuck him with a dog. The tagline for the film, "Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop," made me laugh, and not in a good way. Even the image on the poster, of Robocop half in and half out of the car, looked to me like an obnoxious cheapo piece of junk.

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<p>Sara Paxton and David Koechner are one seriously twisted couple in the masterful new dark comedy 'Cheap Thrills'</p>

Sara Paxton and David Koechner are one seriously twisted couple in the masterful new dark comedy 'Cheap Thrills'

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Exclusive: Sara Paxton and David Koechner are hot for 'Cheap Thrills' in new character posters

A brilliant dark comedy gets ready to make its debut

Thanks to the way I see movies at festivals, there are films that sometimes end up on my year-end lists that haven't had a full commercial release yet, and last year, "Cheap Thrills" managed to muscle its way onto my top ten list. I've seen it four times, and I remain completely smitten with the way the film makes the absolute most of its jet-black comedy premise.

This morning, we're lucky enough to premiere not one but two new posters for the film, part of a four-poster character campaign that Drafthouse Films is launching.

If you're not familiar with the film yet, it's got a very simple set-up. E.L. Katz directed from a script by Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo, and it tells the story of a guy named Craig (Pat Healy) who loses his job and has no idea how to go home and tell his wife Audrey (Amanda Fuller) and face his baby daughter. He runs into a shady old friend Vince (Ethan Embry) at a bar, and the two of them run into a couple named Violet (Sara Paxton) and Colin (David Koechner) who are out for a night on the town, celebrating her birthday, and playing some wild games.

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<p>You really should hear why they're playing 'Rock Paper Scissors' in this scene from the new version of 'About Last Night'</p>

You really should hear why they're playing 'Rock Paper Scissors' in this scene from the new version of 'About Last Night'

Credit: Screen Gems

Review: 'About Last Night' makes the most of a strong adaptation and a great cast

This is one remake that outpaces the original

When I first read David Mamet's play "Sexual Perversity In Chicago," it was the early '80s and I was starting to get really caught up in reading as much theater as possible. Mamet was one of the names I became fixated on, and part of that was because of the musical nature of his language.

Many reviewers at the time talked about how realistic Mamet's dialogue was, but I don't think that was the appeal at all. Quite the opposite, actually. The Mamet stuff from when he was at his prime is all gorgeous and metered and specific, and if you love the rhythms of the movie of "Glengarry Glen Ross," then you understand that appeal. It's not just what those guys say, it is the way they say it, the cascade of profanity, the rat-a-tat back and forth, the hostility hidden in the pauses, the lethal way men circle each other looking for weakness. I fell hard for Mamet. When I got to Florida State University, the first thing I directed was "Sexual Perversity," and I relished the chance to get in there and play with that text.

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<p>When you're onboard the Titanic and caught in the perfect storm, it's hard not to feel the gravity of the situation.</p>

When you're onboard the Titanic and caught in the perfect storm, it's hard not to feel the gravity of the situation.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lightstorm, Warner Bros

The 15 Greatest Disaster Movies of All-Time

So much destruction, so much cheese

Why do people like disaster movies?

The high-minded answer would be because they allow us to look at ourselves at a moment of complete vulnerability, where we are at our most human, and see how we react. Do we rise to the occasion? Do we give in to our worst natures? We enjoy these movies because they frequently show us both extremes.

There's also something spectacular about just watching things blow up, and disaster movies have gotten more viscerally thrilling over the years as technology has gotten better. Perhaps the entire genre built up to the release of Roland Emmericha's "2012," a movie so over-the-top preposterous that it basically folds every other disaster movie into one, complete with the wooden character work and the wafer-thin plotting that the genre is known for.

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<p>I&nbsp;love that thanks to the way he's standing closer to the camera, Harrison Ford looks like Andre The Giant in this shot.</p>

I love that thanks to the way he's standing closer to the camera, Harrison Ford looks like Andre The Giant in this shot.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Confirmed: Complete 'Star Wars: Episode VII' shooting dates revealed

Oh my gosh, this is really happening

Almost no Bothan Spies were injured or killed bringing you this report.

At least, I hope that's true. No one should get hurt over simply verifying some shooting dates, even on a film as highly anticipated as "Star Wars Episode VII: There's Still Not A Title".

Multiple sources now have confirmed for us that "Star Wars Episode VII" is set to start shooting mid-May and will run through September of this year, and most principal casting on the film is complete, with many announcements still to come. While Abrams had mentioned May during the TCA press tour and there had been speculation about the summer date, the full production schedule was finally confirmed for us.

If they wrap in September, that gives them over a year of post to build out the world that Abrams says he wants to make as close to the feel of the Original Trilogy as he possibly can. The thing that is most exciting to me about production dates is that extra added anticipation that we'll have any time during those four months as we try to imagine what the cast and crew are doing at that particular moment. Is today the day they shoot that full-sized Millennium Falcon they've built? Is today whatever lightsaber battle you know Mark Hamill's going to have to participate in? Are they shooting a scene with the ghost of Yoda today?

This goes back to my earliest thoughts as a film fan, those years between when I was seven and when I was ten, and between then and when I turned thirteen. Knowing that somewhere, there was a new "Star Wars" film being made, it simply made me almost permanently happy. It gave me permission to spend months dreaming about all the things that might happen.

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<p>Zoe Kazan isn't sure exactly who she is in the sweet and charming 'The Pretty One'</p>

Zoe Kazan isn't sure exactly who she is in the sweet and charming 'The Pretty One'

Credit: Dada Films

Review: Zoe Kazan gives a radiant dual performance in uber-charming 'The Pretty One'

Jenee LaMarque's film is both wise and very clever

What draws us to certain actors?

Audiences and actors have a relationship that is hard to describe or dissect. When we watch someone over the span of years or even decades, we grow to have certain feelings about them, certain memories of them, and who we are at the various stages of their career plays into the way we feel when we think of them. There are actors who we see almost as our surrogates because we run parallel to them in terms of age and development. There are actors we see as father figures or even grandfather figures, who embody a certain something during the years we develop. There are actors we feel protective of, actors we despise, actors we look forward to seeing, actors whose work feels like a secret told only to us. One of the strangest parts of that relationship is that much of what we're responding to is actually due to the writers and the directors and the cinematographers and stunt doubles and editors and make-up artists and production designers and costumers, and the actor is simply a part of this impression that builds up over time. In some ways, they are a minority stakeholder in the thing that we respond to, but still, we hang those feelings on them.

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<p>Who would you consider a deal-breaker for an 'Independence Day' sequel?&nbsp;Will Smith?&nbsp;Jeff Goldblum?&nbsp;Neither?&nbsp;Both?</p>

Who would you consider a deal-breaker for an 'Independence Day' sequel? Will Smith? Jeff Goldblum? Neither? Both?

Credit: 20th Century Fox

What does it mean if Will Smith turns down 'Independence Day 2'?

Should the studio be chasing him in the first place?

Without Will Smith, what is "Independence Day"?

That's the question Fox is facing now as they decide how to move forward with their sequel that they are planning to release on July 4 weekend of 2016, at least according to the report today that Will Smith has finally and officially passed on participating in the film.

Actually, Fleming builds in a little wiggle room at the end of the piece, making me wonder why report it again if this still isn't the absolute final total end result decision. Roland Emmerich has stayed busy in the blockbuster game over the last 20 years (has it really been that long?), but he and Dean Devlin did not remain paired in those films. Fox brought them back together to develop a possible sequel/reboot for what is, at heart, a fairly generic premise. Big alien ships roll in. Lots of people get worried. Stuff blows up. Good guys fight back. The aliens don't win. Will Smith was a member of a big ensemble when they made the first film, and while "Bad Boys" certain surprised people in terms of how well it worked, it didn't make him a giant bankable movie star. What worked in his favor in "Independence Day" was that he basically got to be himself, all swagger and charm, and punch an alien in the face.

I'd argue that in the first film, both Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman were bigger movie stars. Goldblum had been the MVP in "Jurassic Park" by being the guy with all the great lines who was smarter than everyone else, and in "Independence Day," they really challenged expectations by casting him as the guy with all the great lines who was smarter than everyone else. Smith popped out of that film because he was hungry and he was ready and he took full advantage of every moment he had. "Men In Black" was his reward for "Independence Day," and he's never looked back. Goldblum, on the other hand, has continued to have the same character career with occasional moments of increased heat, and I think audiences would enjoy seeing him back in the same role for this sequel. Besides, isn't he the one that actually beat the aliens? Don't you think they'd be looking for that human in particular?

Oddly, we are at the first moment in his career where Will Smith is no longer enough to guarantee a film's opening. While I think he could easily headline another monster hit, I don't think he is enough to make that happen anymore. "Men In Black 3" seemed to land on an audience that really didn't remember the first film, and "After Earth" not only failed, it failed because of Will Smith and the audience's reaction to Jaden being the lead. It was a personal rejection. I don't think "Winter's Tale" is in any danger of turning that around, and there's nothing coming from Smith that would suggest to me that him turning this film down is because he's "too big" for it. I think the opposite is true. I think he's afraid to be seen as someone who is coasting only on the past.

Then again, "Bad Boys 3" is in the works, so maybe he just plain doesn't want to do this.

Jamie Vanderbilt, who worked with Emmerich on "White House Down," has been working on two scripts for this, reportedly. One is with Smith's character, one is without. The fact that they can do that and it doesn't really impact the film one way or another would indicate they don't really need him. If you can imagine a draft without him, then how key can he really be to the story you're telling?

You tell me, folks… do you really want a sequel to this movie? Or does this seem like Fox worrying about an anniversary date instead of the actual movie they're making?

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<p>Reece Shearsmith isn't sure which way is up in the truly surreal and original 'A Field In England,' the latest from filmmaker Ben Wheatley</p>

Reece Shearsmith isn't sure which way is up in the truly surreal and original 'A Field In England,' the latest from filmmaker Ben Wheatley

Credit: Drafthouse Film

Review: Reece Shearsmith freaks out in Ben Wheatley's 'A Field In England'

A psychedelic period war film that defies easy genre labels

There are few filmmakers working right now who seem as set on the expansion of the very definition of "genre" as Ben Wheatley. Film after film, he throws curve balls at the audience, trusting them to be adventurous enough to follow him as he explores some truly dark and oddball corners of human experience.

Anyone who saw his breakthrough film "Down Terrace" would probably be excused for thinking he was just another English filmmaker in love with working class criminals, a sort of collision of Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows. With "Kill List," though, he made it clear that whatever you expected him to be, that's probably not what he was interested in being. "Sightseers" is the sort of dark comedy gem that can be fiendishly difficult to pull off, but he made it look effortless. They're all films that feel like they are drawn from a very British tradition of storytelling, but Wheatley has his own voice, and he's bending and breaking expectation with a fiendish sort of glee at this point.

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<p>Just what sort of Vision will this new Vision be?</p>

Just what sort of Vision will this new Vision be?

Report: Paul Bettany is taking a shocking on-screen role in 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'

If this is correct, this is a huge key to how the mega-sequel will unfold

Normally, I would ignore anything printed by The Daily Mail, which is notoriously untrustworthy, but they've just posted something that fits in so neatly with other information that we can confirm that it sounds like the broken clock is indeed, in this case, telling the correct time. Besides, I'm seeing other way more reliable folks like The Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit weighing in, and it's starting to look like this is for real.

According to their report, Paul Bettany will finally play a live-action role in a Marvel Universe movie, and it would make perfect sense based on the way things will play out in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." The long-time voice-only computer butler to Tony Stark will make the jump to playing the long-anticipated character The Vision.

Fans have been assuming since the title announcement was made last year at Comic-Con that Ultron would be the creation of Tony Stark in this film, as opposed to Hank Pym, who has traditionally played that role in the comics. That's a safe bet, and Stark does indeed play a major role in the birth of the character. Fans have also assumed that Jarvis would somehow factor into Ultron's birth, which also makes sense. After all, Stark has apparently had a fully-functioning AI working for him since before the opening of "Iron Man," something that he seems to treat as sort of matter of fact and totally normal.

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<p>It looks like they had a lot more fun making 'The Monuments Men' than I&nbsp;had watching it.</p>

It looks like they had a lot more fun making 'The Monuments Men' than I had watching it.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: George Clooney's 'Monuments Men' is unfocused and too soft

Talk about a film in search of a tone

George Clooney is now five films into his career as a director, which gives us enough room to try to discern a voice or a thematic intent or a unifying vision for the films he's made, and yet, when I look at those five films, what ultimately emerges is a portrait of a somewhat invisible man.

I think "Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind" is a very stylish film, and he navigated a fairly tricky piece of writing there. I understand why so many directors were drawn to Charlie Kaufman's script, and I understand why so many directors ultimately chose not to direct that same script. Clooney has a strong eye for casting, and he also helped figure out how to sell that reality, which wasn't easy at all. I think he also made very strong choices with "Good Night, and Good Luck," a fairly dry piece of writing about a decidedly non-sexy subject. While "Leatherheads" doesn't really work, I can see exactly what sort of screwball tone he's trying to pull off, and I understand the appeal of it. And while I think "The Ides Of March" tries to inflate a fairly simple idea into something more significant, it's obvious that he's a smart guy who wants pop entertainment to grapple with grown-up subjects.

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