<p>'Would you believe we built that room for a Hulk?'</p>

'Would you believe we built that room for a Hulk?'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

A day at Bad Robot gives us a better look at 'Star Trek Into Darkness'

Plus we share a crazy theory about the secrets JJ Abrams is hiding in plain sight

The Bad Robot offices occupy a large building in Santa Monica that you would never notice just driving by.  I missed it the first time around the block, and had to circle back before I was able to hand off my car to the waiting valet.  I was afraid I'd missed the start of today's "Star Trek Into Darkness" event, but ended up making it in just enough time to get my green wristband, join my group, and start the tour of the building, designed to give us a look inside one of next year's most anticipated sequels.

To be clear, there was one point in the day where we saw something we had to promise not to disclose.  I wouldn't say it radically changed anything I'm going to share with you, but instead simply served to amp up my own enthusiasm because it was really, really, yes, I'm going to say it three whole times, REALLY cool.

If you're curious about the identity of the character played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Paramount took care of that earlier today, and they're not lying to you.  They released an image of Zachary Quinto as Spock, Cumberbatch in the cell that held Loki and Silva, and Chris Pine as Captain James T. Motherscratchin' Kirk, and in the caption, they named him as "John Harrison."

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Look, it's the bad guy for 'Star Trek Into Darkness'!&nbsp;I can't believe it's...&quot;&nbsp; &quot;SHHHH!&nbsp;Not one more word, Uhura!&quot;</p>

"Look, it's the bad guy for 'Star Trek Into Darkness'! I can't believe it's..."  "SHHHH! Not one more word, Uhura!"

Credit: Paramount/Bad Robot

IMAX prologue to 'Star Trek Into Darkness' teases expertly and answers nothing

One thing's for sure: the chemistry is definitely in full force for the sequel

Earlier this evening, I took the biggest "Star Trek" fan I know to see the nine-minute prologue that will be screened in IMAX venues in front of the release of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," and based on his reaction, I'd say JJ Abrams and crew have absolutely nothing to worry about when the film hits theaters in May of 2013.

Even now, at the end of the nine-minute presentation, I cannot conclusively tell you who Benedict Cumberbatch is playing.  We do meet him very early in the footage, though.  The film starts with an alarm clock going off, waking a married couple played by Nazneen Contractor and Noel Clarke.  They quickly get ready, peeking out their window at the rainy cityscape of London in the year 2259.  They drive to the London Children's Hospital to visit their little girl, who appears to be aging prematurely, sick and near-bald, completely unresponsive.  Clarke walks outside to catch some air and try to pull himself together, and someone steps up behind him to say, "I can save her."  Clarke turns around and we get our first look at Cumberbatch.

Read Full Post
<p>This can't end well.</p>

This can't end well.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise fights humans and aliens alike in the first trailer for science-fiction epic 'Oblivion'

Looks like Will Smith's got some 'After Earth' competition next year

I may not have cared much for "TRON: Legacy," but my problems were primarily with the script.  Joseph Kosinski's work as a director was meticulous and often quite beautiful, and I walked away curious to see what he could do with a different (and better) screenplay.

Maybe "Oblivion" is that screenplay.  I certainly hope so after seeing the first trailer for the film.  I always root for big-budget original science fiction, and I would love for this to be a smart action film that uses its impressive backdrop as a way to tell a story that really means something, a film that is more than just empty calories.  The reason I fell in love with science-fiction in the first place is because of the way it can tell universal stories about who we are and where we're going and how we relate to each other and the world around us, but one step removed, which often makes even the most difficult message more palatable.  It helps that two of the credited writers on the film are Michael Arndt, who is of course currently hard at work on "Star Wars: Episode VII," and Oscar-winner William Monahan.  Not too shabby.

Read Full Post
<p>Paul Williams, profiled so memorably in 'Paul Williams Still Alive' this year, is collaborating with Guilermo Del Toro, who we will now refer to from now on as 'The Happiest Mexican On Earth'</p>

Paul Williams, profiled so memorably in 'Paul Williams Still Alive' this year, is collaborating with Guilermo Del Toro, who we will now refer to from now on as 'The Happiest Mexican On Earth'

Credit: Abramorama Films

Guillermo Del Toro and Paul Williams join forces for a 'Pan's Labyrinth' musical

I may die of joy just from typing that headline

It does not remotely surprise me that Guillermo Del Toro is finally working with Paul Williams.

The idea of turning "Pan's Labyrinth" into a stage musical is intriguing.  It's a lush dark fantasy world, and I would imagine it gives the production team some great opportunities to build a gorgeous world on the stage.  It also deals with sweeping emotional arcs, and when you're creating a musical, I think the bigger the emotions, the better the piece.

Gustavo Santoallala is the composer of, among other scores, "The Motorcycle Diaries," one of my personal favorite scores of the last ten years.  I've played that soundtrack hundreds and hundreds of times while working, and I think he's got a very fresh and interesting musical voice.  His music with Williams writing lyrics sounds to me like an incredible marriage of talent.  Williams, of course, is known for his work with the Carpenters, his songs for "The Muppet Movie," and the absolutely incredible score for Brian De Palma's "Phantom Of The Paradise."

Read Full Post
<p>Anne Hathaway will break your heart. Period.</p>

Anne Hathaway will break your heart. Period.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Long-awaited film version of 'Les Miserables' delivers huge emotion

While not everything works, there is real beauty and power to the film

Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg certainly did not need for a film adaptation of "Les Miserables" to happen to validate the work.  After all, this is one of the most successful stage productions of all time, omnipresent for over over two decades, beloved and still relevant.  There was a point in Hollywood history where any successful stage musical was automatically brought to the screen in the most lavish possible fashion, but that hasn't been true for many years now.  Musicals, like Westerns, are increasingly rare, and Hollywood is no longer turning out performers who are automatically at home singing and dancing in front of the camera.  For Tom Hooper, following up "The King's Speech" was going to be tough no matter what, and I'll give him credit for ambition.  He called his shot and swung for a home run, and while he didn't knock it out of the park, the material itself is so strong, and the film's cast is so game, that it doesn't matter.

The script by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, James Fenton and William Nicholson is very faithful to the original stage production, which plays almost as a highlights reel of Victor Hugo's novel.  There is a sort of runaway train quality to the narrative, and the film maintains that same breakneck pace from the visually arresting opening moments to the final haunting moments. There is a feeling at times that things move so quickly and with such unrelenting pace that it's hard to catch your breath, hard to let yourself fully experience a beat emotionally, but that's the production itself.  It's just inherent to how they've told the story.  And while there are certainly things about the film that make full use of the difference between stage and screen, this still feels like a fairly intimately scaled story considering the time span it covers and the huge cast of characters involved.

Read Full Post
<p>I heard there's an entire sequence in the new film where Kirk intentionally gets his big hands so he can box Benedict Cumberbatch.&nbsp; Okay, no, I didn't, but admit it... that would be awesome.</p>

I heard there's an entire sequence in the new film where Kirk intentionally gets his big hands so he can box Benedict Cumberbatch.  Okay, no, I didn't, but admit it... that would be awesome.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Star Trek Into Darkness' teaser gives a first look at the sequel

Lots of big images for a very short glimpse

It seems like the release of the blockbuster trailers has now become a two-stage process, because it generates twice the conversation on sites like ours and twice the opportunities for people to become aware of the upcoming film.

Tonight, Paramount is releasing an "announcement video" to tell you that on December 17th, there will be a teaser trailer for the film.  That's exactly five months before the opening of the film, and seems like a perfect date to kick things off.

At least we're finally seeing footage.  This coming week, I'll see the nine-minute presentation that will be in front of "The Hobbit," and I'm also doing some other press event stuff that should answer a whole lot of the questions I have about what this film will cover and who Benedict Cumberbatch plays and all sorts of things.  But for now, this 60 seconds of "Star Trek Into Darkness" will be heavily scrutinized and discussed and debated, and Paramount will indeed get to dominate the conversation on Thursday even without putting out the full trailer.

UPDATE:  I'm putting a short piece at the end of this based on the Japanese language version of the trailer which is also available today, and for those of you who are spoiler-adverse, please be warned.  I don't know anything about the new film for sure, but there's an image there that is pretty hard to miss, and it's worth a little bit of discussion.

Read Full Post
<p>Amy Seitz is one of the stars of what appears to be one of the most promising movies of the year, 'Upstream Color,' the long awaited return of the director of 'Primer'</p>

Amy Seitz is one of the stars of what appears to be one of the most promising movies of the year, 'Upstream Color,' the long awaited return of the director of 'Primer'

Credit: ERPB

Which new trailer release counts as the most exciting film news of the week?

Shane Carruth's new film is set for Sundance and we couldn't be more excited

What is truly the biggest story for film fans in a week that has seen the first "Hobbit" reviews, building buzz on "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty," news on "Justice League," "Star Trek," "Man Of Steel," "Man Of Steel," then "Man Of Steel" again, 48FPS and the hailing of Anne Hathaway as the one sure thing of the year?  Easy.  For me, there's nothing more exciting than the fifty-three seconds of film that were released to promote a film called "Upstream Color."

"Oooooh," I can imagine some of you saying. "Is this some secret something from someone like Chris Nolan or JJ Abrams or Guillermo Del Toro or the Wachowskis or the Coens or some other mainstay in the film nerd universe?"  Nope.

It is one of many titles announced already for the Sundance Film Festival, and my first priority of the fest.  I will skip a day of movies if it means I guarantee my seat at the first possible screening of the movie.  Because while the guy who made it is not a household name, he is a name who should already be on the short list of talents to watch for anyone who saw "Primer," the stark, fascinating time travel exercise that was Shane Carruth's first and until now only film.  Shane Carruth has been slowly but steadily putting together the pieces to make a new film to follow up that 2004 debut.  For a first time filmmaker to take eight years between his debut and his follow up, that must have been a real test of Carruth's faith in film.  His is not an obvious, mainstream talent, and that's exactly what I love about him.

Read Full Post
<p>Johnny Depp and Terry Gilliam, seen here on the set of 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,' will not be collaborating as Depp sets up a new version of the Cervantes classic.</p>

Johnny Depp and Terry Gilliam, seen here on the set of 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,' will not be collaborating as Depp sets up a new version of the Cervantes classic.

Credit: IFC Films

Johnny Depp is now officially the man who killed 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote'

The actor sets up a new version of the Cervantes classic with Disney

The efforts to get "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" onto the bigscreen were well documented in the harrowing and ultimately heartbreaking documentary, "Lost In La Mancha," and it was a brutal reminder that no matter who you are and what your resume, filmmaking can kick the crap out of you at any point.

I would imagine that Terry Gilliam is somewhere today fuming about the idea that Johnny Depp just set up "a modern re-imagining of 'Don Quixote'" with Walt Disney, and Steve Pink & Jeff Morris will write the script.  It's interesting that Depp's still circling the character, but not surprising.  Don Quixote has a way of doing that to filmmakers, which was the whole point of "Lost In La Mancha."  Orson Welles spent much of his career chasing the story, trying to figure it out, and in the end, it broke him just like it broke Gilliam.  Depp was attached to star in the first version of Gilliam's film, and then ended up moving on, eventually replaced by Ewan McGregor when Gilliam tried to get the film off the ground a second time.

Read Full Post
<p>Charlie Hunnam seems preposterously happy about the work he's been doing lately, and in particular, Guillermo Del Toro's 'Pacific Rim'</p>

Charlie Hunnam seems preposterously happy about the work he's been doing lately, and in particular, Guillermo Del Toro's 'Pacific Rim'

Credit: HitFix

Charlie Hunnam gushes about 'Pacific Rim' and writing for the 'Sons Of Anarchy'

The gregarious young star talks about future plans and recent accomplishments

It's funny how someone who was born in 1980 can already have distinct movements in his career, but it's true of Charlie Hunnam.  Like many young stars, when he first got cast, there was a sense that it was a tryout for real stardom.  Certainly he made an impression in "Queer As Folk," and when he was given a shot at American TV, I liked the result.  "Undeclared" isn't quite as great as "Freaks and Geeks," but what is?  It was a lovely funny well-observed college show, and the cast was very strong and very young.  Roles followed in "Cold Mountain" and "Children Of Men" in small parts and "Green Street Hooligans" in a co-starring role that, unfortunately, just didn't connect.  The film has a lot of cool interesting things about it and is sort of a interesting miss, but certainly not the sort of thing that should stop a career cold.

Hunnam, though, disappeared until he showed up in "Sons Of Anarchy," and that's where he was born again hard.  Since then, he did "The Ledge," followed quickly by "Frankie Go Boom," as well as "Deadfall," the movie I sat down with him to discuss in the first place.  It's a small, confident neo noir story of two guys, a girl, a bag of money and some guns, and I'll also have chats with Olivia Wilde and Eric Bana for you this week. 

Read Full Post
<p>Bilbo Baggins prepares to sneak away in the dead of night in a scene from 'The Hobbit:&nbsp;An Unexpected Journey'</p>

Bilbo Baggins prepares to sneak away in the dead of night in a scene from 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

Review: Is 'very good' good enough for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'?

Peter Jackson's return to Middle-Earth frustrates at times, transports at others

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey" is an above-average fantasy film, a dense piece of entertainment that packs more visual wonder into its two-and-three-quarter hour run than seems possible.  It is a very good movie.  I say that upfront because any discussion about what does or doesn't work about the movie is going make some people very angry since they've been waiting to see it since 2003.  If a careful appraisal of the films flaws (and there are many) is upsetting to a fan who wants perfection from what they'll see in theaters later this month, then please just skim down and read the positive things I have to say, then go see it for yourself.

When I reviewed "Fellowship Of The Ring," it is safe to say that I lost my ever-lovin' mind for it.

I remain a huge fan of not only that film, but of every combination of footage consisting of "The 'Lord Of The Rings' Trilogy. The theatrical films, the extended editions, the DVD sets, the Blu-ray editions, an upgrade every time.  I think it is a major accomplishment in the history of fantastic filmmaking, drawing on horror, science-fiction, fantasy, and even historical dramas in terms of how it was crafted and paced and designed and executed.  Peter Jackson tried something that no one else had ever done on that scale, and he pulled it off with aplomb.

Read Full Post