<p>I'll bet Chris Hemsworth wishes he had a magic hammer right about now as bad things start happening in 'Cabin In The Woods'</p>

I'll bet Chris Hemsworth wishes he had a magic hammer right about now as bad things start happening in 'Cabin In The Woods'

Credit: Lionsgate

SXSW - Day One: A preview of what to expect from us during the festival

Music docs, crazy midnights, and experimental voices abound

It's come up so quick this year that I'm having trouble believing that South By Southwest is finally underway today.

I'm here for the entire film portion of the festival, and for those who haven't been here, you may not realize that SXSW is not just about movies.  There is also a major Interactive conference, and an amazing Music festival.  Interactive runs concurrently with film, and Music starts just as Film is ending.  The net result of all of this is that Austin is absolutely, no question, 100% bananas for the next 15 days or so.

I'm here for Film, though, and unless I can wrangle my way into the show Fiona Apple is playing, all of my events are Film oriented, and I thought before we get going, it would be good to look ahead at what you can expect from our coverage.

For example, TONIGHT kicks off the festival for me.  I'm going to see a Norwegian dark fairy tale called "Thale," then the premiere of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's genre-bending "Cabin In The Woods" serves as the centerpiece premiere, and then it's off to the South Lamar Alamo for a midnight screening of "[REC] 3," the latest chapter in the dark and disturbing Spanish horror franchise.

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<p>James Cameron, seen here at last year's CinemaCon, is a crazy man, and I wouldn't want it any other way.</p>

James Cameron, seen here at last year's CinemaCon, is a crazy man, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

One Thing I Love Today: James Cameron, world explorer

The director of 'Avatar' set a deep-sea dive record this week. What can't he do?

I can't really imagine many modern blockbuster filmmakers who would be a match for James Cameron just on a comparison of filmmaking skills, but I can think of even fewer who could stand up against him when it comes to real-world fortitude.

Sure, it's easy to be an adventurer when you're rich, but only in the sense that you actually have the resources to make your wildest dreams come true.  Money doesn't make it any easier to face the fear that comes with doing something truly dangerous, and anyone who writes off what Cameron accomplishes when he's in world adventurer mode is not being honest about what it is that he does.

For example, this past week, Cameron broke a world record for depth diving in a submersible that he helped develop, and it sounds like it was amazing.  I'm even more excited to see what happens when he travels to the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific, and what sort of footage he brings back from it.

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<p>Andrew Stanton is entirely too camera-ready to have spent his life as a science-fiction and animation nerd.&nbsp; This makes me suspicious.</p>

Andrew Stanton is entirely too camera-ready to have spent his life as a science-fiction and animation nerd.  This makes me suspicious.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Andrew Stanton talks about bringing 'John Carter' to life

What does 'Lawrence Of Arabia' have to do with Mars?

My last interview this week for Disney's "John Carter" is with the man charged to finally bring this 100-year-old character to life on the big screen, Andrew Stanton.

First, let me just say that anyone whose favorite film is "Lawrence Of Arabia" is okay by me, and especially when you can see that so clearly in the film they've made.  I'm not sure I ever would have made the connection between that film and the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  It feels natural when you see how Stanton does it, though, and that was just one of the things we discussed when we sat down at the Boulders resort in Carefree, Arizona, to talk about his movie.

Stanton is a great spokesman for his film, and I feel like the Pixar team that's been part of the company from the start is the contemporary equivalent of the group of filmmakers in the '70s who helped create the blockbuster in the first place.  There was that explosion of creativity that came from guys like Lucas and Spielberg and De Palma and Scorsese and that entire peer group, and watching how their work evolved over the decades since that first amazing wave of films has been impressive.  The Pixar team is now starting to move into live-action, and seeing how they maintain their voice, I'm starting to believe there's nothing these guys can't do.

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<p>Paul Williams, Barbra, and a pair of Oscars?&nbsp; That's the '70s all over, isn't it?</p>

Paul Williams, Barbra, and a pair of Oscars?  That's the '70s all over, isn't it?

Credit: SXSW

Watch: 'Paul Williams Still Alive' trailer makes its debut on the eve of SXSW

A look back at one of the industry's best songwriters is poignant, powerful

Paul Williams is a survivor.

The notion that the greatest challenge he's overcome in his lifetime is himself is just one of the things that makes Steve Kessler's documentary "Paul Williams Still Alive" such a pleasure and a revelation.  I've been familiar with the work of Paul Williams my whole life, and in many cases, I wasn't even aware when I was first introduced to his work that it was his. 

When the Muppets sang "Movin' Right Along" or "The Rainbow Connection" in "The Muppet Movie," or when Jodie Foster sang "My Name Is Tallulah" in "Bugsy Malone," I didn't know who wrote those songs.  I just knew that they were burned into my brain right away.  When I heard Karen Carpenter sing "Rainy Days and Mondays" or "We've Only Just Begun" on the radio, I didn't even think of the songwriter.  I just heard the story she was telling and the heartbreak that she wore like a badge.

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<p>I can't find a photo that shows all the greatest characters from 'Game Of Thrones' at the same time, so I'll have to settle for one great big slab of Dinklage.</p>

I can't find a photo that shows all the greatest characters from 'Game Of Thrones' at the same time, so I'll have to settle for one great big slab of Dinklage.

Credit: HBO Home Video

One Thing I Love Today: 'Game Of Thrones' arrives on Blu-ray in spectacular fashion

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We catch up with season one of HBO's amazing high fantasy hit

I've read the first book in George R.R. Martin's epic "A Song Of Ice and Fire" series, and I'm a fan of that book.  I have heard a wide range of opinions about the rest of the series, and I've done my best to avoid spoilers, since I have the books here in the house and will read them at some point.  I did not watch the HBO adaptation of the first book when it aired, so I've waited patiently for the Blu-ray release.  I have a preference for powering through a full season of TV when I can, and I can't think of a show better suited for that sort of marathon viewing than this one.

When HBO decides to gamble on a show, they go big, and I respect that.  "Game Of Thrones" is gorgeous, and it looks and sounds tremendous on Blu-ray.  What makes the Blu-ray the ultimate edition, though, is the way they've taken full advantage of the interactive nature of the format to help viewers if they want help keeping track of the show's complex family politics.  I think the show does a great job of explaining it all for you, but I understand that it's a dense bit of text overall, and the extra features here are outstanding.  You can turn on a program guide that will work during the episodes, giving you facts and history and interconnections at moments you might need the prompt.

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<p>Venom, as originally drawn by Todd McFarlane, is one of the most visually recognizable Marvel villains, which may be why Sony still insists they're making a standalone film for him.</p>

Venom, as originally drawn by Todd McFarlane, is one of the most visually recognizable Marvel villains, which may be why Sony still insists they're making a standalone film for him.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Director of 'Chronicle' reported to be in negotiations to make 'Venom' movie

Without Spider-Man, why make a Venom film at all?

I have never understood this idea.

New Line was the first studio to option the rights to "Venom," and it's always confused me deeply to imagine a film in which you only have the Venom character without Spider-Man.  Sony had to eventually buy the rights to the character so they could incorporate him into their "Spider-Man" series, and I would argue that their intense desire to force the fan-favorite character into the third film despite Sam Raimi's misgivings is one of the reasons that film does not work. 

Raimi had no real desire to do anything with Venom, and I understand why.  Venom is the sort of character that serves as a dividing line for comic book fans.  I find that it's basically all about how old you were when they started publishing Venom stories.  I was getting out of comic collecting right around the time the age of Todd McFarlane began, and I didn't really care for where the comic industry was heading at that time.  I don't feel superior to fans who grew up with Venom as a cornerstone of what they loved about Spider-Man, though.  I just don't agree with them.

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<p>Nash Edgerton's new short film 'Bear' will be playing at SXSW this year, but we spoke to him about it at Sundance.</p>

Nash Edgerton's new short film 'Bear' will be playing at SXSW this year, but we spoke to him about it at Sundance.

Credit: HitFix

SXSW: Director Nash Edgerton talks about 'Bear' and Baz Luhrmann's 'Great Gatsby'

One of the most ingenious short filmmakers today shares tricks of the trade

One day, the Edgerton brothers will rule Hollywood with an iron fist, and I for one welcome our new Edgerton overlords.

Joel Edgerton, of course, is working hard in front of the camera these days, and he's managed to finally make the jump to Hollywood leading man.  I am enormously fond of the work he did last year in "Warrior," and while I didn't love everything about "Wish You Were Here" at Sundance, Edgerton is great in it.  There's something about the new breed of Australian leading men that really sets them apart from the gym-trained oh-so-smooth LA brand of guy, something more genuine and rough-hewn.  It's little wonder so many of them are making the jump to action hero these days.

The other Edgerton, though, is the one that needs to have his turn in the spotlight, and I am convinced that day is coming.  His short film "Spider" is one of those that you never forget after you've seen it, and every single time I show it to people, I love watching them as they watch it.  The same is true of his latest film "Bear," and I'm excited that it's screening at SXSW.

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<p>Willem Dafoe is a river to his people... or his Tharks, rather... in the new fantasy adventure 'John Carter'</p>

Willem Dafoe is a river to his people... or his Tharks, rather... in the new fantasy adventure 'John Carter'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Willem Dafoe and Lynn Collins share memories of Barsoom and 'John Carter'

Two of the most memorable actors in the new epic adventure discuss their roles

By far, the two performances I think people will speak about most frequently when they discuss "John Carter" are given by Willem Dafoe and Lynn Collins.

When I joined the cast at the Boulders resort in Carefree, Arizona, I started my day with an interview with Willem Dafoe.  He was the first person from the film that I spoke to after our screening the night before, and he turned out to be a real pleasure.  I've been watching and admiring his work since "To Live And Die In LA," and I think he's only gotten better with age.  He is one of those actors who brings such a unique and intense presence to everything he does that it's a thrill to sit down with him finally.  I only wish it could have been longer.

With Lynn Collins, I'll confess to being one of the people that was skeptical about the casting of her as Dejah Thoris when it was first announced.  I only really knew her from "Wolverine," and that's a hard film for anyone to use as a calling card.  In "John Carter," though, I think Collins proves herself to be a strong, sexy, and smart lead actress.  She infuses the role with qualities that I'm not sure existed on the page, even in the Burroughs version, but that feel absolutely right.

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<p>Taylor Kitsch seems happy to be having one of those years that actors dream about, and we discussed that as part of the press day for this weekend's new release, 'John Carter'</p>

Taylor Kitsch seems happy to be having one of those years that actors dream about, and we discussed that as part of the press day for this weekend's new release, 'John Carter'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Taylor Kitsch and Dominic West represent good and bad in 'John Carter'

We chat with the hero and the villain of this science-fantasy adventure

"John Carter" comes out this weekend, so you know what that means?  If you answered "Lots of 'John Carter' interviews," then you win, and as your prize, you get… well, lots of "John Carter" interviews, actually.

What better way to kick off our coverage of the film than with John Carter himself?  I went to Carefree, Arizona to not only see the film but to talk to the team who made it, and obviously, part of that day consisted of sitting down with Taylor Kitsch, on whose shoulders much of the film rests.  This is a major year for Kitsch, and if anyone's being given a shot at new movie stardom this year, it's him.  After all, he's the star of this, then he's the star of "Battleship," which will be one of the summer's biggest films in terms of scale if nothing else, and then later in the summer, he's one of the stars of Oliver Stone's adaptation of Don Winslow's "Savages."  That's a pretty big line-up, and I'm curious to see where Kitsch stands at the end of the year.

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<p>Darth Vader attempts to locate a Rebel spy onboard a shuttle during Disneyland's 'Star Tours' ride</p>

Darth Vader attempts to locate a Rebel spy onboard a shuttle during Disneyland's 'Star Tours' ride

Credit: Disneyland/Lucasfilm, Ltd.

One Thing I Love Today: The new 'Star Tours' is more transporting than expected

Disney did more than just update the ride to make the ride brand-new again

I am not what you would call a Disney nerd.  At least, not compared to the truly hardcore.  However, I think it's safe to say that Disney's various parks have always been part of my life.

I grew up in Florida, and many of my formative memories come from time spent at Walt Disney World.  I remember spending the Bicentennial there, I have crazy stories to tell about my Grad Nite, and I probably went to the park somewhere between 50 and 100 times between the ages of 3 and 20.

When I left Florida, I also left behind the Disney habit.  I know adults who adore Disney and who spend a lot of time and money there each year, and I don't begrudge anyone the pure enjoyment of it.  I admit I had a really snotty attitude about Disneyland when I moved to California, so that made it easy to break the habit.  After all, you could take every square inch of the property in California and put it in the parking lot of Florida's Magic Kingdom.  The scale of the Florida property is amazing, and that's what I was used to.  Over time, I've come to really love Disneyland for the history and for the charm of the place.  It's a very different experience than the Florida version, and I appreciate that.

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