Godzilla's looking a little gassy in the first real 'Godzilla: Resurgence' trailer
Credit: Toho Studios

Godzilla's looking a little gassy in the first real 'Godzilla: Resurgence' trailer

Toho's kicking off their own rebooted franchise, and we've got our first real look at G in action

Hello, beautiful. Haven’t I seen you stomping a city before?

Whoa. Sorry. I forgot myself there for a moment because I was so hypnotized by the sight of Toho’s new Godzilla: Resurgence. I love that Toho retained the rights to make their own Godzilla films regardless of whatever Legendary and Warner Bros. are doing in the United States. Now that there’s an official trailer for this summer’s Godzilla: Resurgence, what’s become doubly clear is that they’re going to keep making Godzilla movies their way, no matter what. Man In Suit forever, evidently.

When I attended the premiere of Godzilla Final Wars back in 2004, I was assured by all the Toho execs I met that they were sincerely ending the series with that movie, and they’ve kept true to their word ever since. This film is meant to be a rebirth for the series, a hard reboot that abandons all other continuity, with Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi co-directing the film. Hideaki, who also wrote the movie, is the co-creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, one of the most enduring anime properties of all time, and this is a big summer movie for Japan.

It’s interesting to see that they’ve made Godzilla scary again this time. One of the reasons it’s hard to dismiss Godzilla as mere monster mayhem is because you can chart shifts in social attitudes by charting how Godzilla is portrayed at any given moment. In the original film, Godzilla was a terrifying force unleashed on Japan, a direct shadow of the bomb that had just been dropped on them by the U.S. It’s hard to watch that original film and not feel some true horror and sorrow. It’s a remarkable use of pop mainstream filmmaking as a way of dealing with a national trauma. Over time, Godzilla has also played protector, eventually standing as Earth’s safeguard against other far more malicious monsters.

There’s still no real story information here, but come on… it’s Godzilla. He’s very strange looking in this incarnation, with a sort of molten-lava appearance to his skin. When they started work on this film, Toho put together what they called the “Godzilla Conference,” a number of creatives working together to plan an overall approach to future Godzilla movies. They’ve got a plan. There are rumors that Anno might be planning to collaborate with Toho, somehow combining Evangelion with the Toho kaiju-verse, but nothing confirmed.

What that overall plan is remains a mystery so far, but it’s good to see that they’re definitely starting with Godzilla as something to fear, a terrifying monster in the tradition of the original film.

Godzilla: Resurgence opens in Japan on July 29, 2016.

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James Cameron promises four 'Avatar' sequels in Vegas presentation
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lightstorm

James Cameron promises four 'Avatar' sequels in Vegas presentation

Holy crap, that's a lot of Pandora

One of the reasons I love James Cameron is because he is so absurdly ambitious, and more often than not, when he aims high, he actually hits the target.

From The Abyss through Avatar, every time Cameron made a film, it would be accompanied by tons of press about how much money he was spending and how crazy he was and what a giant failure each film would be. It’s become a fairly familiar pattern. How many times in a row does someone have to do something before people stop predicting failure? At least three times, he’s made the most expensive movie of all time and the film has become a massive hit anyway.

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Elle Fanning's front and center in the haunting 'Neon Demon' trailer
Credit: A24

Elle Fanning's front and center in the haunting 'Neon Demon' trailer

The director of 'Drive' is back with a very different kind of horror film

Last year, I spent an afternoon at a beautiful sprawling house in Los Angeles where Nicholas Winding Refn was shooting his new film, The Neon Demon, and I spoke to both Refn and his young lead, Elle Fanning, about what Refn was unabashedly calling a horror film.

Knowing Refn’s work, though, I wouldn’t expect him to make something that would easily fit into a narrow definition of a genre, and today’s release of the first trailer for The Neon Demon seems to confirm that whatever it is he’s up to, it’s not going to be simple and straightforward. Gorgeous and surreal, this looks like Black Swan set in the world of modeling. Fanning has grown into one of the most interesting young actors working, and sitting and talking with her during the dinner break on the set that day, I was struck by that strange combination of an almost childlike innocence and this canny, self-aware maturity that seems to constantly be at war within her.

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The Charming Potato and 'Kingsman 2' seem to be a match made in Heaven
Credit: Lionsgate

The Charming Potato and 'Kingsman 2' seem to be a match made in Heaven

Matthew Vaughn keeps making this more interesting

The Charming Potato is joining the cast of Kingsman: The Golden Circle!

I remember the moment Channing Tatum clicked for me. It certainly wasn’t on first exposure. Sometimes I see an actor and immediately like what they’re doing, and when I saw A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, it was with some early hype about both the director, Dito Montiel, and this amazing new young star, Channing Tatum. Didn’t work for me at all. He was fine in the Step Up films, but that’s because the dancing was front and center. Films like Dear John or Stop-Loss did nothing to change my opinion of Tatum, and in a few cases, like G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra or The Eagle, I thought his presence actually damaged the overall movie.

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The first trailer for 'Doctor Strange' takes us inside the Sanctum Sanctorum
Credit: Marvel Studios

The first trailer for 'Doctor Strange' takes us inside the Sanctum Sanctorum

Can Steve Ditko fans start rejoicing?

My first conversation with Kevin Feige about Marvel heroes and bigscreen adaptations was almost 16 years ago now. And in the time that conversation has continued, he has always been very clear that his own favorite character, the one he most wanted to see become a movie, was one they would have to build to gradually.

Well, that wait is finally over. Earlier today, Donna posted the first poster for Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange, which seems to continue a certain back-to-the-camera Cumberbatch trend. Still, it was a cool look at the visual style of the film, and it was enough to keep us on the hook all day waiting for the premiere of the trailer tonight.

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Review: Mike Flanagan's 'Hush' is slasher fare served up lean and mean
Credit: Netflix
B

Review: Mike Flanagan's 'Hush' is slasher fare served up lean and mean

Sometimes it's enough just to get the basic moves right

An isolated house in the middle of the woods. A young woman on her own. A man with a mask and a knife.

Taken individually, none of those things are particularly fresh to the horror genre, but taken together under the firm directorial hand of Mike Flanagan, they add up, making Hush a worthwhile sit for horror fans of all stripes. Flanagan is a talented filmmaker who has yet to have his breakout moment. His movie Oculus played the Toronto Film Festival, and I liked it when I saw it. Overall, it got solid reviews. Last year, I saw an early screening of Before I Wake, which was supposed to come out months ago. It got delayed, and I can understand why. It’s not really a horror film, and figuring out how to sell the movie for what it really is might be difficult. I like it as well, though, and I thought it reinforced that Flanagan is coming at things in his own way.

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Review: Jon Favreau's 'Jungle Book' is a rich and rewarding family fable
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures
A-

Review: Jon Favreau's 'Jungle Book' is a rich and rewarding family fable

Eye-popping effects and simple human charm make a winning combination

Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book has been adapted to film numerous times over the years. The 1942 live-action film, which you can see via Hulu Plus if you have it, remains beautiful and mysterious even now, while the 1967 Disney animated version is one of their most iconic films. Years ago, when I was still new to Los Angeles, there was a stretch of about 18 months where my writing partner and I shared an apartment with a married couple named Dave and Laura. Laura was a preposterously sweet woman, and she had a keen affection for Disney animation. In particular, she loved Mowgli and his gangly, lanky frame, all elbows and angles. About halfway through last night’s press screening of the new Jon Favreau version, I couldn’t help but laugh, thinking about how much Laura’s going to love Neel Sethi, who stars as Mowgli, because he looks like he was plucked right off of some animator's drawing board.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about Disney’s new push to turn all of their animated films into live-action movies. It’s another way of strip-mining their own library, and the results have been wildly uneven so far. Cinderella, for example, struck me as a solid retelling of the original story, but there was nothing about Kenneth Branagh’s film that felt like live-action was essential or that illuminated the earlier Disney version of the story. It was fine, which is way more than I can say about the disturbingly ugly Alice In Wonderland that Tim Burton directed. Walking into The Jungle Book, I was worried that it would either be paint-by-numbers or that it would be a big empty style exercise, and instead, I walked away from it with one word running through my head repeatedly…

Magic.

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This behind-the-scenes glimpse at 'Kong: Skull Island' is an intriguing tease
Credit: Warner Bros/MTV

This behind-the-scenes glimpse at 'Kong: Skull Island' is an intriguing tease

No giant monkey yet, but this does raise some interesting questions about the film

Rounding out the Warner Bros. trio of sneak peeks during the MTV Movie Awards tonight was a behind-the-scenes featurette from the set of Kong: Skull Island, which Warner plans to release next spring, and it’s by far the most we’ve learned yet about the film.

Jordan Vogt-Roberts is directing the film, which is a key part of yet another Warner ongoing tentpole franchise, although a little sneakier than either Suicide Squad or Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. By now, it’s clear that Legendary Entertainment would like to eventually figure out how to get King Kong and Godzilla into the same film. Thomas Tull said as much to me years ago, when he was still developing Godzilla in the first place. He’s a huge fan of giant monster movies, and those two are the undisputed icons of the genre. It is the same impulse that led to pairing Batman and Superman, when you get down to it. But they’re not really making these films as a series. Godzilla is off doing its own thing over in that franchise, and it’ll be interesting to see which other Toho creatures actually make it to the screen in the Godzilla sequel. In the meantime, Vogt-Roberts is making his stand-alone film, and now we know for sure that it’s set during the Vietnam era.

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The new 'Fantastic Beasts' trailer teases more of Rowling's growing world
Credit: Warner Bros.

The new 'Fantastic Beasts' trailer teases more of Rowling's growing world

Warner's next big gamble feels like a very safe bet

By turning tonight’s MTV Movie Awards into a sneak peek at all things Warner Bros., the studio’s invited everyone to weigh in on the biggest items they’ve got coming for the rest of the year, and while Suicide Squad is definitely important to them, it’s not as important as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

I greatly admire JK Rowling as a writer, and not just for her work on Harry Potter. I think her Robert Galbraith novels have been terrific entertainment, and I really liked The Casual Vacancy, which I thought demonstrated a savage wit that has always been quietly present in her work but rarely unleashed to its full potential. Rowling is a ferociously smart writer from a business viewpoint, and this new venture into the “Wizarding World,” which seems to have become the catch-all description for the universe she’s building, is a very clever way of extending things without damaging any of the integrity of what she’s already done.

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Harley Quinn continues to dominate in new 'Suicide Squad' trailer
Credit: Warner Bros.

Harley Quinn continues to dominate in new 'Suicide Squad' trailer

Warner's playing it all right with these ads, but will the film deliver?

Unsurprisingly, much of the reporting around the Warner/DC situation continues to be driven by herd mentality and inaccurate.

For example, how many sites reprinted the story that the Suicide Squad reshoots were all about adding jokes to the movie because they used every joke in the movie in the last trailer? Sorry, but that’s just nonsense. There were some big reshoots, but it wasn’t just to add jokes, and they certainly didn’t use every single joke in the film in the last trailer. The reason everyone picks that up and runs with it is because they like how nice and neat it sounds. Reshoots. Add jokes. Fix movie. Never mind that people went crazy about my (accurate) reportage about how divisive early reactions were to Batman v Superman. People didn’t want to hear that story, so they attacked me and they attacked my reporting, determined to simply shout it down.

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