Simon Pegg joins Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' as the Great and Powerful Og
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Simon Pegg joins Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' as the Great and Powerful Og

Now, that's some damn fine casting

There is no project in development right now that is more avidly followed in my own household than Ready Player One. Toshi, my ten-year-old, read the book last year and since then, he's been utterly obsessed with the notion that is going to be a movie, especially with Steven Spielberg set to direct.

'80s pop culture in general drives Toshi crazy, and I'm fascinated by his love of it. While I understand what drove Ernie Cline to write the book, I am more confused by a ten year old, born in 2005, who experiences nostalgia for an era that ended fifteen years before he was born. My conversations with people who are working on the film say that it was important to Spielberg that he get legal clearances on all of the '80s stuff before he signed his deal to make the film. This is going to a pop culture collision on the order of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but with an even broader reach.

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New trailer for 'Now You See Me 2' promises a heist movie with lots of tricks
Credit: Lionsgate

New trailer for 'Now You See Me 2' promises a heist movie with lots of tricks

There is something hilarious about Harry Potter playing the bad guy in this

When I wrote about the first trailer for this summer's big sequel Now You See Me 2, I mentioned how much I dislike movies about magicians because they inevitably cheat and feature magic that can't be done live. A story consultant who worked on the film reached out to me to tell me that all of the magic in the film was researched and developed with stage magicians who worked to make sure that all of the magic in the film could be done live by stage magicians, though, and maybe closer to the release we'll try to bring screenwriter Ed Solomon into the studio to discuss this.

You can hardly blame me for my skepticism, though, when this trailer features a scene where Jesse Eisenberg evidently stops the rain, reverses the direction of the rain drops, then explodes into water while standing in the middle of a crowd of people. I'd love to see that effect play out live, because I'm reasonably sure it's impossible.

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Sure enough, it's Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg for new Indiana Jones
Credit: Walt Disney Company/Lucasfilm

Sure enough, it's Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg for new Indiana Jones

No other details are known at this point

Over the last few years, there have been ongoing rumors about what was going to happen with Indiana Jones, and the most prevalent by far has been about Chris Pratt playing the role in a reboot.

We've held firm to the belief that any new Indiana Jones film would star Harrison Ford and be directed by Steven Spielberg, though, and we've reported that even when the Pratt rumor was at maximum velocity.

And now, Disney and Lucasfilm have confirmed the thing that we have been saying they would confirm, and it's pretty much the only real detail offered so far. This morning, with no fanfare, the Walt Disney Company sent out a very short press release that absolutely lit up the Internet.

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Heroes Vs Villains returns for its third year with new characters and old champs
Credit: Paramount/Warner Bros/CW Network

Heroes Vs Villains returns for its third year with new characters and old champs

Can Xena make it a three-in-a-row sweep?

It's that time of year again, and we need your help.

For the last few years, we have been celebrating a March Mayhem showdown between Heroes and Villains here at HitFix, and it's become one of the largest events of the year for us. Every spring, we pick 64 of our favorite good guys and bad guys from movies and TV and set them up for a series of head to head encounters that allow you, the readers, to pick your favorites.

Buckle up. Heroes Vs. Villains 2016 begins today.

We've been surprised by the results, too. For two years in a row, Xena has emerged as the big winner, and she's back to defend her title this year. With a new Xena series on the way, her fanbase is likely more engaged than ever, so there's a good chance she could take the title again. She beat Hannibal Lecter in the final round last year, and if you want to go back through and see how each of the 2015 match-ups played out, you can. You can also go back and check out the 2014 results as well.

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First 'Sausage Party' trailer is gleefully filthy R-rated comedy mayhem
Credit: Sony Pictures

First 'Sausage Party' trailer is gleefully filthy R-rated comedy mayhem

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are up to some deranged things these days

A work-in-progress screening of Sausage Party took place in Austin tonight as part of the SXSW film festival, and I'm not surprised people seem generally pleased with what they saw. The studio's asking people not to formally review the movie since it isn't finished yet, and it sounds like they still have a little over a month until they have what they would consider a "finished" film. But they're in the home stretch, certainly, so they have to be feeling pretty good about the enthusiastic response they'e gotten tonight.

The red-band teaser trailer is also available now, so you can get an idea what to expect. The film is a very, very R-rated animated comedy, and part of the joke is that it has to look like a real Pixar movie. That's not easy or cheap, and it's exciting to get a look at the work that's been done on the film. I talked to Seth Rogen about the movie when he was here in the studio with us, and I've embedded that conversation below.

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Review: 'Midnight Special' serves up a strangely beautiful parable on parenting
Credit: Warner Bros
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Review: 'Midnight Special' serves up a strangely beautiful parable on parenting

A very special little boy and a dangerous road trip done a different way

A young boy who possesses strange and difficult-to-explain powers makes his way towards a mysterious rendezvous with his father doing everything he can to protect him from anyone who might stop him.

That's it. That's the basic plot of Midnight Special, and when you boil it down that far, it sounds like something familiar, something we've seen many times before. What makes the film sing is the extraordinary control exhibited by Jeff Nichols as a filmmaker at this point, especially when he's working with Michael Shannon, who has given some of his finest performances when working with Nichols.

That continues here. Michael Shannon plays Roy, and when we meet him, he's on the road with his childhood best friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and his little boy Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). It's not clear at first why they're running, where they're coming from, or where they're going, and Nichols does a very nice job playing with ambiguity here, definitely leaning towards the less-is-more school of storytelling. Even as the film concludes, there are plenty of questions, some of them big, some small, that are still unanswered, and it's perfectly acceptable.

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Just how many people did it take to 'play' Colossus in 'Deadpool'?
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Just how many people did it take to 'play' Colossus in 'Deadpool'?

Performance is tricky to define when you're creating a character this way

Wired published a video today that details the creation of Colossus in the smash runaway hit Deadpool, and while it's short and fun and not really a nuts-and-bolts step-by-step, it does do a nice job of illuminating just how hard it is in the age of digital effects to really assign authorship of certain performances.

Andy Serkis has become our first real digital movie star, and there is no denying the part he plays in creating characters like Caesar in the new Apes movies or Gollum from Lord Of The Rings. But when you're talking about the final version of the character that we see onscreen, we have to acknowledge the huge role played by the digital artists who take these various elements and combine them into something that has to live and breathe if these films are going to work.

That's one of the things I love most about movies. They are magic tricks. When you consider the history of film, it's always about creating an illusion. It's about sewing together all these individual frames of film into something that convinces us, that fools us into feeling and caring and being excited and getting our hearts broken. We all know that there are stuntmen doing the dangerous work, and yet we continue to allow actors to get away with that ridiculous "I do all my own stunts" nonsense because that's the illusion that the movies sell us.

I liked Colossus in Deadpool, and I think there's something smart about making him feel like a real-life comic book illustration. We're entertain a phase of superhero movies right now where we're adhering more closely to the original costume designs than ever before, and I think that's because the mainstream is more and more accepting of comic book reality. Besides, when you see details like the moving eyes on Spider-Man's Captain America: Civil War suit, it sells the reality in a way that we've never seen movie adaptations attempt before. I think the more stylized these films are, the better. I don't want my comic book movies to look just like the real world. What's the point of that? I want to see a comic book brought to life, and that's how Colossus feels to me.

I'm curious to see if they have a deeper dive into the film's visual effects work on the Blu-ray release. Tim Miller's background makes me curious how he approached making the film for way less than a standard blockbuster price tag. People have been talking about the film's R-rating as a key part of its success, but what other filmmakers should really pay attention to is how Miller made a movie like Deadpool for a significantly reduced cost. Fox spent less than they've spent on any other X-Men movie, including the first one, and they have been printing money as a result. Maybe you don't have to spend $400 million to have a giant franchise hit. Maybe you can spend smarter and win bigger as a result.

Right now, Deadpool is still in theaters.

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Rian Johnson teases a familiar set in a new 'Star Wars Episode VIII' image
Credit: Walt Disney Company/Lucasfilm

Rian Johnson teases a familiar set in a new 'Star Wars Episode VIII' image

Cinematographer Steve Yedlin's in front of the camera today

Rian Johnson maintains a fairly playful and open presence on social media, and while he's understandably been a little bit quieter than late while he's hard at work shooting Star Wars: Episode VIII, he has certainly enjoyed dropping tiny breadcrumbs, and I like today's breadcrumb quite a bit.

Is that the cockpit of the Falcon that cinematographer Steve Yedlin is standing in? It sure looks like it. And I'm sorry, but they're four weeks in already? It's exciting knowing that they're rolling, and I'm curious to see how tight a lid they're able to keep on things, especially considering how they're shooting on real locations like Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. I love seeing that Star Wars is willing to use real locations in the films even as they continue building sets at Pinewood Studios.

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Review: Great performances make '10 Cloverfield Lane' a cut above most thrillers
Credit: Paramount Pictures
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Review: Great performances make '10 Cloverfield Lane' a cut above most thrillers

Director Dan Trachtenberg makes an impressive debut with this closed-space thriller

If you walk into the theater expecting a direct sequel to Cloverfield, you may be disappointed, but I'd expect most audiences to be quite satisfied with the smart, character-driven thriller that is 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Economically told from the start, the film moves beautifully. This is a strong feature debut for Dan Trachtenberg, working from a script by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle, and a beautiful showcase for three very good actors. It is simple, it is direct, and it is impressive. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) flees her marriage after something happens with her husband, and as she's on the road, upset, she is in a terrible car accident. When she wakes up, she is in a bunker owned by Howard (John Goodman), a farmer, who tells her that there has been some sort of attack on the surface, and they are unable to leave now. There is one other person, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) in the bunker with them. Things go badly. That's pretty much it, and yet, using that very simple template, 10 Cloverfield Lane delivers a terrific piece of entertainment, tense and smart and concise.

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Review: Sacha Baron Cohen hits comedy rock bottom in the awful 'Brothers Grimsby'
Credit: Sony Pictures
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Review: Sacha Baron Cohen hits comedy rock bottom in the awful 'Brothers Grimsby'

It's not often that someone this talented fails so completely

Sacha Baron Cohen is a very smart, very funny man. One of the best parts of his publicity tour for The Brothers Grimsby has been hearing him give interviews out of character about his process when working on Da Ali G Show, Borat, and Bruno. The worst part of it, unfortunately, is the movie The Brothers Grimsby, which is an entirely laughless affair and easily the low point of Cohen's career so far.

No one is more shocked by my reaction to the movie than I am. I am an easy laugh. I'll admit it. I am predisposed to laughter. That's my natural state, my preferred condition. I love comedy. I love all forms of comedy. I love cerebral wordplay. I love silly physical slapstick. I love the gross. I love the esoteric. If you search through my collection, you'll find all kinds of things, and I love that. Every now and then, though, someone will take a big swing and miss completely, and it's almost fascinating to see what a total whiff The Brothers Grimsby is. From foundation to frosting, the entire thing is off, and the result is one of the most difficult sits I've had in a while. I didn't just sit without laughing; I found myself actively hating every choice, every new scene. It's miraculously bad. It is a case study in getting everything wrong, to such a degree that I have to think it's just a one-off. Nobody as talented as Cohen misses as completely as this unless they're really, really trying. Whatever else I might say about the film, I don't think Cohen was indifferent about it or phoning it in. He's trying as hard as he can here, which is part of what made me cringe.

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