<p>David Koechner may seem all sunshine and light here, but don&#39;t be fooled. His dark side is on full display in &#39;Cheap Thrills&#39;</p>

David Koechner may seem all sunshine and light here, but don't be fooled. His dark side is on full display in 'Cheap Thrills'

Credit: HitFix

David Koechner recognized the chemistry in 'Cheap Thrills' immediately

One of our favorite funnymen expands the definition of who he is with his new film

David Koechner's got the best role of his career in the new film "Cheap Thrills," and this is one of those cases where you can tell that an actor is completely aware of just how great a part they've been given.

Or earned, as the case may be. Koechner's put in as much time in the trenches as anyone, and he's been a consistently interesting and unusual onscreen presence. I've been watching Dave perform live in LA and in films and on television for 20 years now, and he consistently manages to surprise me with choices he makes or with the way he'll approach a joke or a character beat. It shocks me that "Cheap Thrills" is the first film to make full use of the menace that Koechner is capable of projecting, but E.L. Katz should be high-fived repeatedly and vigorously for thinking outside the box and making such a great choice.

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<p>Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to us about his experience with the young and hungry cast of the new crime thriller &#39;Sabotage&#39;</p>

Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke to us about his experience with the young and hungry cast of the new crime thriller 'Sabotage'

Credit: HitFix

Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about playing alpha to his younger co-stars in 'Sabotage'

He may be older, but he's still the most enthusiastic salesman for his movies

As Arnold Schwarzenegger navigates the world of movie stardom again, he's made a decision which I think will result in better overall movies from him, and it's a fairly straightforward and logical one: he is playing his age.

Action stars in particular have to face that moment at some point in the process, and how they face it says a lot about them as people. Schwarzenegger jumped out of films and into the world of politics right around that moment when other active action stars have to grapple with the choice and start trying to find roles that allow them to make the transition naturally. He sort of bypassed that moment, and when he showed back up in "The Expendables 2" and "The Last Stand," officially announcing his return to major roles, he didn't hesitate. He is still playing leads, but he's not afraid to let them be older, a few steps slower, affected by the passage of time.

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<p>Russell Crowe is driven by visions to prepare his family for the end of the world in Darren Aronofsky&#39;s striking and strange &#39;Noah&#39;</p>

Russell Crowe is driven by visions to prepare his family for the end of the world in Darren Aronofsky's striking and strange 'Noah'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Russell Crowe is the stormy center of Aronofsky's turbulent and terrifying 'Noah'

HitFix
B+
Readers
C-
The year's most ambitious movie is spilling over with big ideas

Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" is not just one of the most ambitious films I've seen this year, it's one of the most ambitious films I've ever seen. It's a movie that is spilling over with ideas and images and emotional explorations of the metaphysical. It's a movie in which shamanic culture is part of the same tradition as fallen seraphim and blatant miracles. It tells a story that is so familiar at this point that it has no impact whatsoever and tells it in a way that is constantly pushing and challenging the viewer. Whatever your idea of the story of "Noah" is, Aronofsky, along with his co-writer Ari Handel, has found a distinct and different way into it, and what he's made is going to be worth conversation all year long.

One of the first things that strikes you when reading the Bible is just how much of it is concerned with lineage. Family trees are incredibly important in the Old Testament, and this film kicks off with a very simplified explanation. In the beginning, there was the garden. There was the fruit. Temptation. The snake. Cast out. Adam and Eve have three sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth. Cain and Abel take their act on the road and Seth and his descendants take care of the relationship with the Creator. Noah is shown to be the youngest descendent of Seth at the start of the film, and he sees his father killed by Men, sons of Cain whose industrial cities have choked the planet with waste and evil.

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<p>I have no idea what the heck is happening in this screen grab from &#39;Dead Rising 3,&#39; but I guess I&#39;ll figure it out when we give the game a try on Friday&#39;s Game Night.</p>

I have no idea what the heck is happening in this screen grab from 'Dead Rising 3,' but I guess I'll figure it out when we give the game a try on Friday's Game Night.

Credit: Capcom/Microsoft Studios

Game Night: One week in, 'Titanfall' still packs plenty of bang for the buck

We're going to try some single-player titles this week, too

One week in, and I think it's safe to say I am still getting my butt roundly kicked in "Titanfall."

Let's start with the adjustment I'm still making to the use of an XBox One. I played the PS3 for so many years that the controller just plain felt right in my hand. The use of it was fairly second-nature. Adjusting to a new console controller is like deciding you want to learn to write with the opposite hand that you use currently. It's the same basic action, but it's not easy to learn.

Even so, I can report with utter confidence that "Titanfall" is amazing. It is frustrating. It can be exhilarating. It is fiendishly well designed. And it is a playground if you can get your friends to play with you. That's been a big part of what I've enjoyed playing it, that ability to join a party full of friends and chatting while we play. It also led to a truly soul-crushing moment, but I'll explain that later.

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<p>Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans star as Black Widow and Captain America, forced to rely on each other in an unfamiliar moral landscape in &#39;Captain America: The Winter Soldier&#39;</p>

Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans star as Black Widow and Captain America, forced to rely on each other in an unfamiliar moral landscape in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Credit: Marvel Studios

Review: Captain America meets his match in the smart and stylish 'Winter Soldier'

HitFix
A-
Readers
A
Bar none, this is the best action film Marvel's made yet

First and foremost, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is the best action film out of the entire Marvel movie universe so far, bar none. Just in terms of sheer impact and choreography and execution and clarity of geography and did I mention impact because DAMN. If that is all that this film did well, that would be enough for me to recommend it.

Beyond that, though, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is a tremendous piece of pop entertainment, smart and engaging and featuring a home run movie star lead performance by Chris Evans and the best overall supporting cast in one of the Marvel movies in terms of everybody having something significant to do and everyone being written for to a degree where they're playing people and not just types. Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, this movie hits the ground running, literally, in a great scene where Steve Rogers (Evans) meets Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), a former member of a para-rescue unit who now works at the VA hospital. In one quick moment, they dispense with any need for fish out of water jokes and they introduce the notion that Steve is struggling with the bigger issues that affect him as a man out of time. He is having his doubts about the work he does for S.H.I.E.L.D., and in the film's first big set-piece, we see just how wet that work actually is.

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<p>Ethan Embry and Pat Healy joined us for a fast and funny conversation about their new film &#39;Cheap Thrills&#39;</p>

Ethan Embry and Pat Healy joined us for a fast and funny conversation about their new film 'Cheap Thrills'

Credit: HitFix

Ethan Embry and Pat Healy discuss the ways they find 'Cheap Thrills'

What reduces Embry to helpless laughter? Watch and find out.

As soon as I saw "Cheap Thrills" at the 2013 SXSW film festival, I knew it was something special. It is a very simple logline, a very direct set-up, but the way it executes the idea is pitch-perfect and it never flinches from the grim path that it sets for itself.

I've heaped praise on the direction by E.L. Katz and the script by Trent Haaga and David Chirchirillo, but one of the things that really makes the film sing is the casting. Pat Healy is one of those guys you've seen in a thousand things even if you're not sure you've seen him in a thousand things, and in the last few years, he's finally started getting the roles where you'll remember him. He was so disturbing in "Compliance" as the guy on the phone who creates the situation, and in "The Innkeepers," he and Sara Paxton play a pair of clerks who work at a hotel that is reportedly haunted. In this film, Healy plays Craig, a guy who has just lost his job and gotten an eviction notice, and he's not sure how to go home and face his family. He runs into his friend Vince at a bar, a guy he hasn't seen in quite a while, and they drink together for a few, talking about their problems.

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<p>Patton Oswalt made a memorable guest appearance on another Whedon series, &#39;Dollhouse&#39;</p>

Patton Oswalt made a memorable guest appearance on another Whedon series, 'Dollhouse'

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Mutant Enemy

Patton Oswalt joins 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' as longtime Nick Fury friend Agent Koenig

What part will he play in the Marvel movie universe moving forward?

Does it make me a bad person if I'm still surprised each time Patton Oswalt is cast as an actor?

Don't get me wrong… I think he's very good. I think the work he's done in films like "Big Fan" and "Ratatouille" and "Young Adult" is great. It's just that I still think of him primarily as a stand-up. I also think of him as a consummate fanboy, a guy who unabashedly loves what he loves, and a big part of what he loves is the world of comic books.

It must be delightful when your various passions all converge, and I'm willing to bet that Patton practically sprinted to set when he got the call to join "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." as Agent Eric Koenig.

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<p>I can&#39;t imagine Nick Offerman has ever been accused of being shy.</p>

I can't imagine Nick Offerman has ever been accused of being shy.

Credit: HitFix

Nick Offerman explicitly explains why he was cut from Seth Rogen's 'Neighbors'

We've got both safe for work and not safe for work versions of his answer

If there is indeed a zone, then Nick Offerman seems to be living in it these days.

I love stories about artists who succeed later in their career, and I think in Offerman's case, one of the reasons that Ron Swanson clicked is because there was a sense of authority that Offerman gives off that might not have been there in the same way if he was fifteen years younger. I look at him in something like "Sin City," and I can't imagine that guy as the same person who is giving one of the most amazing comedy performances on TV every single week right now.

I wrote about his new concert film on Valentine's Day this year, and the other night on the red carpet, when I heard him use the word "delicious" during an answer, it made me smile. He has this enormous zest for the life he's living right now, and a big part of that is his blatantly passionate relationship with his wife, actress Megan Mullally. He is certainly not shy about discussing just how passionate, either.

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<p>It&#39;s been a long road from page to screen for the comic book &#39;Powers,&#39; but now it looks like the show&#39;s going to land on the PlayStation Network.</p>

It's been a long road from page to screen for the comic book 'Powers,' but now it looks like the show's going to land on the PlayStation Network.

Credit: Image Comics

Bendis comic 'Powers' set to be the first original series produced for PlayStation

With XBox developing 'Halo,' is this the future of TV?

I got a chance to take a sneak peek at the pilot episode of "Enormous," a new web series about a world where giant monsters have laid waste to everything while a mysterious virus works its way through humanity.

Directed by BenDavid Grabinski, it's just eleven and a half minutes, but it establishes a world and it plays with some big fun effects and it feels genuinely cinematic. It serves as a stark reminder that the world is changing in terms of where we can sell projects and what kind of outlets there are for creativity these days. "Enormous" is set to premiere on the Machinima network. They also recently debuted "Rubicon," a live-action pilot from Chris McQuarrie and Mark Long, and they're premiering "Gable 5" next week, with Kevin Tancharoen directing Eliza Dushku. They are trying all sorts of things, and it feels like Machinima is offering up a genuine alternative to someplace like Syfy.

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<p>Ben Schwartz seemed delighted to be part of this year&#39;s PaleyFest celebration of &#39;Parks and Recreation&#39;</p>

Ben Schwartz seemed delighted to be part of this year's PaleyFest celebration of 'Parks and Recreation'

Credit: HitFix

Ben Schwartz loves the way 'Parks and Rec' has developed Jean-Ralphio's mythology

Plus he talks about how much fun he had doing 'House Of Lies Live'

As "Parks and Recreation" has progressed from season to season, one of the joys of the show has been watching the way they've built out the supporting cast, creating a world of lunatics who all live in Pawnee.

One of my favorite recurring characters on the show is Jean-Ralphio Saperstein, played by Ben Schwartz. He's not only a great foil for Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), he's also just a great hilarious force of nature in his own right. He's been a staple of the LA comedy scene for a while now, but Jean-Ralphio launched him to a new level of visibility, and at this point, it seems like he must work non-stop.

In recent seasons, they've started to expand Jean-Ralphio's family, first with his insane sister Mona Lisa (Jenny Slate), and more recently with his father, Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler). Each new thing we've learned about his family only makes him seem even weirder, and I love it. He's also a regular on Showtime's "House Of Lies," and not too long ago, he got the entire cast of that show (including Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell) to join him for a one-hour live improv special called, appropriately, "House Of Lies Live." It was great to see him play improv games with that cast, all of them out of their comfort zone.

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