Joe Wright's 'Pan' goes big with a visually aggressive new trailer
Credit: Warner Bros

Joe Wright's 'Pan' goes big with a visually aggressive new trailer

Garrett Hedlund and Hugh Jackman don't seem shy about big character choices

It takes a certain degree of hubris to sign on to a "Peter Pan" movie at this point.

J.M. Barrie's play/book/beloved cultural icons are enormously malleable as a story, and there are plenty of fans of the Walt Disney animated version as well as Steven Spielberg's "Hook" and even P.J. Hogan's "Peter Pan." All of those films tackle different parts of the iconography in different ways, and there have been some heavy hitters involved.

The Disney film is one of their best features, especially if you're just considering the old school Disney films, and I think it's one of the moments where the Disney animators got everything right. They'd made enough movies in a row by that point to have developed a shorthand, and a style, and a confidence. "Peter Pan" may have some unfortunate moments in terms of cultural sensitivity, but I would argue that the entire world of Neverland should feel like the way children view the world, in big broad strokes. Stylization is fine; insensitivity is not.

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Film Nerd 2.0 finds the heartbreak at the center of the original 'Bad News Bears
Credit: Paramount Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0 finds the heartbreak at the center of the original 'Bad News Bears

This scrappy comedy led to some very serious conversations

Toshi tends to start a movie night with a sort of weird meditative state he goes into while standing in front of the bookcase full of his Blu-rays. He can stand there for a half-hour reading titles and asking me questions, and it always entertains me to hear him slowly circle in on the thing he wants to see.

Just because there have been some R-rated titles in the mix recently doesn't mean it's become a free-for-all, and there are plenty of things Toshi would like to watch that I still believe he's not ready to see, leading to some tense negotiations. What I find most interesting about those negotiations is how vividly I remember holding them from the other end of the equation. When I wanted to see a film as a kid, if my parents had any problem with it, I would turn into Clarence Darrow. I would bring in evidence to back up my claims, and I'd make emotional pleas, and I'd do my best to convince my parents I only wanted to go because they would enjoy the film. Whatever it took, I'd try. It worked best with my grandmothers, but every now and then I'd just wear my parents down until they finally let me see whatever it was I was obsessed with.

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Even 'Hitman' is getting in on the act as we say goodbye to 'Mad Men'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Even 'Hitman' is getting in on the act as we say goodbye to 'Mad Men'

Sometimes, you take advantage of a moment, and you do something different with your marketing.

Tonight's final episode of "Mad Men" is a big deal for fans of the show, and even if you're not a fan, you're probably well aware by this point that the show is ending. It's not going to be a cultural event on the same scale as the end of "MASH" or "The Fugitive," but for people who have been with it since the start, "Mad Men" represents a particular voice that will be greatly missed from the larger cultural conversation.

It was very canny, then, of the people behind this summer's "Hitman: Agent 47," to put together this ode to the show's unmistakable opening title sequence:

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Review: 'Tomorrowland' offers a dull and oddly preachy vision of the future
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Review: 'Tomorrowland' offers a dull and oddly preachy vision of the future

HitFix
C+
Readers
n/a
Considering the talent involved, this one is baffling on every level

This may be the hardest review I've ever had to write.

After all, I think Brad Bird is a certifiably great filmmaker. I have been a fan of his work as long as I've seen his name on things, starting with "Family Dog," the animated episode of "Amazing Stories." So of course, I walk into his films hoping to like them. The year it was released, "The Incredibles" was my pick as best film, and both "The Iron Giant" and "Ratatouille" have also found spots in my top ten lists at the end of the year.

In fact, for years, one of the things I was proudest of in all of the work I've done writing about movies from the early days of Ain't It Cool News to right now involved "The Iron Giant." That film is beloved now, and deservedly so. There was a point, though, when it looked like Warner Bros. was going to be sending the movie straight to video. At that point, the film was still under the radar for everyone, and Warner could have pretty easily killed it if they'd wanted to. Someone who was working on the film got crazy about this idea, and they reached out to me through some mutual friends. As a result, one late night, I drove to a friend's apartment, where I was shown an unfinished work print of the movie on VHS. Parts of it were black and white, parts of it where still just story reel, and then parts of it were finished in full 2.35:1 and color, and it was breathtaking even in that rough form.

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George Miller on unleashing the animal inside Max for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
Credit: HitFix

George Miller on unleashing the animal inside Max for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

Our finest action filmmaker discusses the orchestration of his remarkable mayhem

One of the side benefits to the release of "Mad Max: Fury Road" has been the availability of George Miller for conversation.

When I moderated the Q&A with him after this year's SXSW screening of "The Road Warrior," by far the best parts of the evening were when I was standing outside the Paramount or standing backstage with him, chatting. Miller is that rarity, someone who lives up to expectations and then exceeds them. There is an enormous sweetness to him, and not a hint of ego. When you're the director of one of the most imitated action movies of all time and you're returning to your most iconic creation for the first time in 30 years, there might be some justifiable ego, but Miller seems to be sincerely modest about his work.

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Exclusive: 'Batkid Begins' poster promises a big emotional punch
Credit: New Line

Exclusive: 'Batkid Begins' poster promises a big emotional punch

The year's most heart-warming documentary gets a one-sheet

"Batkid Begins" will break you.

Oh, sure, there's a chance you won't have an emotional response to it. You might be a robot, after all. That's possible. You could be the actual Grinch from the Dr. Seuss story. I guess that would be an acceptable excuse. Or you could be Jeffrey Wells. Otherwise, I can't imagine a human being that would not be flattened by the emotional power of the documentary by Dana Nachman.

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Part one of our in-depth second look at Joss Whedon's 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Part one of our in-depth second look at Joss Whedon's 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

We're digging into the ways the film does and doesn't pay off the themes Whedon explored

"Ultron thinks we're monsters. This isn't just about beating him. It's about whether he's right."

-- Captain America

When I went back tonight for my second look at "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," I honestly didn't know what to expect. It feels like it's been months since I saw the film for the first time, and most of my personal hard drive has been taken up with thoughts of "Mad Max: Fury Road" since I saw it. That's not a slam on Joss Whedon or his work on the "Avengers" sequel, either. It's just that "Fury Road" pushed a button in me that no other film has in quite a while, and it's easy for me to get full-on obsessed with a film I love.

What struck me most about "Ultron" on second viewing is that the script for the  movie is thematically robust, and my problems with the movie were far less pronounced watching it again. For one thing, I really looked at the details of the big set pieces in the film, and I believe this may be one of the most interesting attempts yet at translating the sort of action that exists in comic books to the bigscreen. It's also the most ambitious film yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while I think the film has some problems, I would rather see ambition thwarted than complacency rewarded.

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'Fault In Our Stars' director set to expand Fox's universe with 'New Mutants'
Credit: Marvel Comics

'Fault In Our Stars' director set to expand Fox's universe with 'New Mutants'

This is just one of the ambitious projects the young filmmaker is set to tackle

So confession time: of all of the books Marvel has ever published about any of the characters in the X-Men universe, "The New Mutants" remains my very favorite.

Part of that was timing. I was 13 when the series began publication, and I was already a fan of the X-Men. My best friend at the time was a comic nerd the way I was a movie nerd, and he knew my tastes well enough that when the book was about to launch, he urged me to make sure it was on my pull list. It blows my mind that Chris Claremont was basically forced to create the series under duress. From the moment the book launched, I was all aboard for the story of a group of kids who were recruited to attend Xavier's school. At that point, the original X-Men were all adults, and this was a chance for Marvel to prep the next generation of characters.

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Tom Hardy on reinventing Max Rockatansky for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
Credit: HitFix

Tom Hardy on reinventing Max Rockatansky for 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

It's hard to believe this is the guy who is such a wild animal onscreen

If you have any questions about how good an actor Tom Hardy is, all you need to do is interview him sometime. Trying to connect the soft-spoken guy who has trouble holding eye contact when answering questions to the wild animal you see in films like "Bronson" or "The Dark Knight Rises" or, indeed, "Mad Max: Fury Road," is nearly impossible.

When we sat down to talk about his work in the film, we were joined by his personal stuntman in the film, and I wish we'd had about five times more time to ask questions and talk about the process. One of the reasons "Fury Road" is such a wild experience is because of the expert use Miller and his team made of CG, using it to simply remove safety rigging. That allowed them to use the actual actors in more scenes than you would expect.

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Luc Besson joins Twitter to announce new science-fiction film 'Valerian'
Credit: Europa Corp

Luc Besson joins Twitter to announce new science-fiction film 'Valerian'

And there was much rejoicing

Now that's how you join Twitter.

Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element" is one of those movies that seems to have grown over the years since it was first released, and I am pleased to see how often it's mentioned these days or referenced in some way. It has been confounding to see Besson's directing career over the eighteen years since it came out, though, because he hasn't even come close to making a film in the same genre. There was a point where he claimed he was completely retired, and he's made movies like "Arthur And The Invisibles" and "Lucy" instead of making the "Fifth Element" sequel "Mr. Shadow" or something else that might scratch that same itch.

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