It's all about the tease.
I have no doubt that when the new "Godzilla," directed by Gareth Edwards, arrives in theaters in May of 2014 that Godzilla will be seen onscreen extensively in some big giant crazy action sequences. None at all. When I had a long conversation one afternoon with Thomas Tull of Legendary Pictures way back at the start of this process, part of the attraction for him was getting Godzilla back onscreen and actually treating him like a character.
But for now, this first official trailer for the film is pure tease, and smartly handled. In particular, I love the way it starts. What I want most from this film is some sense of the awe we would feel if giant monsters suddenly woke up and started roaming the Earth, and it feels like they may have nailed that. Edwards wasn't the immediate choice to helm this film if you're just going by box-office accomplishments, but anyone who saw "Monsters" knows that he's very good at finding quiet moments even amidst chaos and mayhem.
It's all about the tease.
One of the most upsetting moments in Lucy Walker's new documentary "The Crash Reel" features Kevin Pearce, a world-class snowboarder who was waylaid on his way to the Olympics by a traumatic brain injury, talking to his parents about how he plans to return to snowboarding. This is on the heels of two full years of therapy that have obviously not restored him to anything like peak condition. Pearce seems completely set on going back to competition, and nothing his parents say seems to be eating to him. He's simply incapable of accepting the idea that his brain damage is permanent.
The subject of just how we've approached the health of players involved in full-contact sports is currently undergoing a culture-wide re-examination, and while sports fans might have to cope with some uncomfortable changes to the games that they love, it sounds like those changes have to happen.
There were few people more skeptical out the casting of Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher than I was. I wrote about it several times during the production of the film, but when the film finally came out, I found myself won over by Christopher McQuarrie's excellent script and smart, sleek direction. It is a really good old-school action movie, and while Cruise isn't the Jack Reacher I see when I read the books, he's got an intensity that makes up for the physicality.
So when I read that Cruise and McQuarrie, who are currently gearing up for "Mission: Impossible 5," are now set to develop a sequel to "Jack Reacher," I am actually excited by the news. I'm a little baffled by the choice of book, though, and this time, my issue has nothing to do with Cruise and whether or not he's the same size as Reacher.
People are so focused on the barrage of sequels and reboots coming in 2015 that it feels like they're overlooking some films that they're going to see sooner. One of the movies that I'm personally flipping out about is "Jupiter Ascending," the new science-fiction action film from Andy and Lana Wachowski.
While I'm a fan of all their films so far, I'm well aware of just how fanboys view them after "Speed Racer" and "Cloud Atlas." It's a shame, since there was a point where "a new sci-fi action movie from the guys who made 'The Matrix'" would have broken the Internet with the release of a new trailer.
I've been doing my best to stay quiet about everything I know about this film. I can say this, though… they're still not really showing you everything that's going on in the film, and they're not really telling you some of the coolest things about these characters. Channing Tatum's character Caine is, as we hear in the trailer, a hunter, but it's more than just training. He is genetically designed to be a hunter, and as such, he's got more than just human DNA bouncing around inside him. His ears, which you just glimpse a bit in the trailer, are the first clue that he's not exactly what he appears to be, and he's not the only modified character. I would love to see what Stinger looks like and who's playing him, but I don't think we even get a glimpse of him here.
Simon Kinberg has quickly become one of Fox's greatest assets, and it looks like they're about to double-down on him for the foreseeable future.
Earlier today, I recorded a short video piece about Kinberg's new deal to help expand both the "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four" worlds on film, and I'm sure he's got some big ideas about what to do with both of those properties. He's also hard at work on his "Star Wars" spin-off film, whichever one it is, as well as the TV show "Star Wars: Rebels." He's joined that club where he is pretty much booked every day of the year, and on giant movies that are absolutely going to be made. It's pretty rarefied air, and he seems to be handling it well. When I spoke to him last, at an event for "Elysium," he talked a little bit about how great it had been participating in the "Star Wars" process and spending time with Lawrence Kasdan, who has to be considered one of the old school masters of this sort of thing.
This raises a larger question, though, about the sudden move everyone's making to this model that's worked so well for one company. I feel like I may not have made the point I was trying to the other day, or at least I didn't make it clear with what I wrote. When I wrote about the way Warner is approaching their DC comic movies right now, I wasn't trying to say that I know the way they HAVE to fix things. Far from it. Ultimately, all that matters is that each studio look at what they have and find the best way to make it. That's all any of them can hope to do. There are hundreds of ways to screw up any potential adaptation, and only a very few ways it really works.
It's safe to say that there are very few positive reviews that have ever earned me the degree of truly furious e-mail that last year's review of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" did. Fans were furious at me for daring to give a Peter Jackson Middle Earth movie a B, and unwilling to entertain even the possibility that any of my issues with the movie were genuine. Once the film was released, though, general public opinion seemed to swing the other way and suddenly I started getting e-mail from people saying I'd been too kind, that I was in the tank for it, that I was somehow bending over backwards to give the film a good but not great review.
The truth is there are certain projects, certain series, there is no criticism that the fanbase wants to read, and there's no winning over an audience that is disinterested to begin with. These films are juggernauts, and they're going to be seen no matter what. Some might see that as an invitation to just phone it in and coast on former glories, but it doesn't feel to me like that's what happened here. I think Peter Jackson is putting himself and his amazing crew through just as rigorous and demanding an experience as he did on "Lord Of The Rings," if not more so. He is not resting on his laurels in any way. He couldn't, though. This is a much harder project to adapt, and looking at the differences between "Unexpected Journey" and this second film, "The Desolation Of Smaug," it's a pretty great practical lesson in how these kinds of films work.
In a move that should be a surprise to absolutely no one, Walt Disney Studios have acquired the rights to any future Indiana Jones movies, while Paramount Pictures will still own the first four movies. This has been pending since Lucasfilm was first purchased by Disney, but the rights to Indiana Jones have been separate and a complicated negotiation. Much like the Marvel deal, Paramount will continue to have a financial stake in any future Indiana Jones films, but as a silent partner.
Right now, Disney's full attention is obviously focused on "Star Wars Episode VII." After the amount of money they spent getting hold of the rights in the first place, it could be argued that there is no more important film for the studio to get right in the immediate future. The pressure on JJ Abrams must be enormous, and for Kathleen Kennedy, her future as the president of Lucasfilm Ltd. depends on her ability to manage the assets of the studio in a way that makes Disney feel like they're squeezing everything out of it that they can.
Fox wasn't kidding when they announced their plans to ramp up production on the various "X-Men" films.
Right now, Bryan Singer is hard at work finishing "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," and even so, he took a moment to Tweet this morning that we can also look forward to "X-Men: Apocalypse" in 2016.
Several sites are reporting a May 27, 2016 date for the film, although that wasn't part of Singer's Tweet. If that's true, then I'm curious what it means for James Mangold's "Wolverine" sequel. Would they try to get that done between the two "X-Men" movies, or will they now try to get Jeff Wadlow's "X-Force" up and running for 2015 instead and give Mangold time to aim for a 2017 release?
The 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival will once again see Team HitFix descending on the slopes of Park City to cover everything and anything about the event that we can.
As usual, I call dibs on the Midnight line-up. While I don't always love the programming in practice, I love it in theory, and I've had some amazing viewing experiences over the last few years thanks to the Midnights. I'd say there's a pretty strong chance something from the 2012 Midnights line-up might make an appearance on my best of the year list this year, and it wouldn't be the first time.
So what we expect this year? Well, Tommy Wirkola is back with a sequel to "Dead Snow," which seems fitting. After all, I saw and reviewed the first "Dead Snow" at the festival. Wirkola, who went on to direct "Hansel & Gretel: Vampire Hunters," has a chance here to join that club of horror directors who make sequels that are more fun than the originals, and I hope he pulls it off. After all… Nazi zombies in the snow… that should be fun, right? All I know is "Dead Snow: Red Vs Dead" sounds like it could be a blast, especially with the wildly random addition of the always great Martin Starr to the cast.
Benedict Cumberbatch is having one of those moments that actors dream of, where they are suddenly not only acclaimed for their work, but given opportunity to play a wide range of roles in material that they genuinely love. "Sherlock" may have been the thing that finally made him wildly in-demand, but he's been building towards this moment for a little while now, and he seems to be cherishing it now that it's arrived.
I don't remember him from "Fortysomething" or "Nathan Barley," but I must have seen him in them. Same with "Starter For 10" or "Amazing Grace." It was "Atonement" when I finally remember seeing him and taking note of his work. Then came "Sherlock," and he was suddenly launched into the awareness of filmmakers and audiences alike. I remember reading how Stephen Moffat was casting both "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock" at the same time, and he really debated what to do with Matt Smith and Cumberbatch and the two roles because he could see merit in both versions of the casting.
Can you imagine what would have happened if he'd just had them switch when it was time to regenerate the Doctor? Smith takes over as Sherlock, Cumberbatch takes over as the Doctor, and the Internet breaks. Right?