<p>Jennifer Garner could hardly contain how much she enjoys football when we spoke about her work in the new film &#39;Draft Day&#39;</p>

Jennifer Garner could hardly contain how much she enjoys football when we spoke about her work in the new film 'Draft Day'

Credit: HitFix

Jennifer Garner on how her own football fandom prepared her for 'Draft Day'

Plus watch her geek out about playing scenes with Ellen Burstyn

Just before we started this interview, I mentioned the craziest thing that happened on the set of "The Invention Of Lying," curious to see if Garner had ever made the connection. When I visited that set, it was in Lowell, Massachusetts, and it was just me visiting for the two days I was there. They sent a driver to my hotel on both days to get me to and from the set, and if there's anything I've learned over the years, it is that you should always talk to the drivers on a film, because they know everything.

Sure enough, the guy who drove me back and forth during my time in Lowell was especially chatty, a really nice guy who had grown up in the area. One of the things we discussed was that another movie company had optioned the rights to the driver's life and they were planning to make a film about him. He told me some of the details of his life and his story, and he told me a few stories about his brother, and I'll say this much… he was great at telling those stories. Even so, I figured I'd never hear anything else about the guy or his story.

Then a few years later, David O. Russell released "The Fighter," and I pretty much got my mind blown. The driver on "The Invention Of Lying" was Micky Ward, and they really did end up making the movie about his life story. When I asked Garner if she remembered him, she had that same "oh my god" moment that I'd had in the theater. She said she never made the connection, but she remembered him from when he was a driver.

I've run into Garner many times over the years, and she always strikes me as someone who is essentially unchanged by their time working in the film industry. She never seems like she considers herself a star, and she seems to genuinely consider whatever question you ask her instead of just offering up the same sound bite over and over. I'm not sure Hollywood really knows what to do with her. She's given plenty of good performances, but she's never really had that one role where she cuts loose and shows us everything she's capable of. Maybe that's not important to her. She seems perfectly happy giving strong performances in supporting roles, and she doesn't seem driven to work non-stop just to keep working.

She also seems like she's still very connected to her roots, as you'll see when we talk about her upbringing in our interview about the new film "Draft Day," where she co-stars with Kevin Costner. We talked a bit about working with Ellen Burstyn, who plays Costner's mother in the film, and her joy at getting to work with Burstyn was very clear from the conversation.

Overall, it's always nice to check in with Garner, and especially when you're able to discuss something where she's done nice work.

"Draft Day" opens in theaters everywhere on Friday.

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<p>Your kids are sure to love the abundance of GPS-related humor in &#39;Rio 2&#39;</p>

Your kids are sure to love the abundance of GPS-related humor in 'Rio 2'

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios

Review: 'Rio 2' is fine for kids, but seems too familiar to really fly

HitFix
C
Readers
B
Hey, at least it'll make Fox shareholders happy

"Rio 2" is a perfect example of franchise maintenance in place of storytelling, and the nicest thing I can say about it is that my kids found it to be an agreeable way to spend part of an afternoon.

I know I saw the first "Rio." My review of it was published in the days before we started putting letter grades on films in our reviews, but I would have given it a B or a B-. I liked the way they used Rio as a setting, I thought the performances were spirited and fun, and I really liked the soundtrack that was put together by Sergio Mendes. The sequel, which is practically the definition of "more of the same," is less successful in the way it uses the rain forest as a setting, and it features performances that feel far more phoned in while still featuring a non-stop dynamic soundtrack put together by Sergio Mendes. There is nothing about the film that feels particularly compelling, and the story is really just an excuse to put a new obstacle between Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) while bad guy Nigel (Jemaine Clement) once again skulks about, all on the way to a happy ending you'll see coming a mile away.

A movie like this is made and scheduled because it is a property that Fox wants to keep active, not out of any particular need in storytelling. Carlos Saldanha is a reliable co-ordinator for this kind of bright, colorful, kid-friendly property. The palette of the movie is once again eye-popping and vivid, and it's apparent that the Blue Sky team has gotten to a place where they are capable of enormous technical sophistication. Looking at the actual craft of the animation, they're very impressive. There's some very strong character performance work that is made more memorable because of the mannerisms of real birds that they use. But all of it is in service to a disappointingly familiar overall piece of work.

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<p>Zach Braff plays a dad who is struggling to hold his family together while figuring out his own path in life in &#39;Wish I Was Here&#39;</p>

Zach Braff plays a dad who is struggling to hold his family together while figuring out his own path in life in 'Wish I Was Here'

Credit: Focus Features

First trailer for Zach Braff's 'Wish I Was Here' wisely emphasizes mood over plot

This one's very simple and very special

Zach Braff's new film "Wish I Was Here" had its premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and I reviewed it out of that first screening. At the time, I didn't even think about the film as being potentially controversial. It's such a sincere, sweet, sharply-performed film that it seemed like an easy one to recommend.

I guess I was absent from the Film Critics Union meeting where we all decided that we're not allowed to like Braff's work anymore, past or present. That same meeting must have been where we all decided that because he used Kickstarter to help make the film, we must automatically hate the movie and review the way it was made rather than the film itself.

Already, I'm seeing plenty of snark today in response to the trailer for the film. Allow me to offer a counterpoint to that by saying that the trailer does a nice job of suggesting the tone of the film without giving away the entire thing. A good deal of the trailer is built around a few specific scenes in the film, presented here in a way that isn't about giving you story so much as a mood.

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<p>Agent May is just one of the characters who gets put through the ringer in tonight&#39;s episode of &#39;Marvel&#39;s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.&#39;</p>

Agent May is just one of the characters who gets put through the ringer in tonight's episode of 'Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' promises big changes, but does it deliver?

How do we feel now that they've paid off the season's biggest storyline?

One of the greatest acts of sleight of hand involved with telling any ongoing narrative, whether it's a TV show or a comic book or a movie franchise, is giving the impression that you are creating major permanent changes in the story without burning down all the things that drew the audience to the thing in the first place.

When you've got a show like "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.," that's not a danger because this entire season has been a struggle for the show to find its voice and build a narrative head of steam, and any adjustments they make right now can only work to the show's advantage. It helps that last week's episode and this week's are both directly tied to the events of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," since the film definitely shook up the status quo of the Marvel Movie Universe.

Of course, you can't just shake things up for the sake of doing so, either. That's no better than simply telling the same dull story without any adjustments. For it to really work, major changes have to offer something thematically important to the story, or they have to organically tie in to what's come before. It's a balancing act, and I don't envy the creative team behind "S.H.I.E.L.D." The pressure had to be monumental to get tonight's episode right, and it feels like they've finally paid off much of what they've been doing over the last sixteen hours of the series.

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<p>Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner make a strong couple in the charming adult comedy &#39;Draft Day&#39;</p>

Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner make a strong couple in the charming adult comedy 'Draft Day'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: Kevin Costner's winning performance anchors the smart and charming 'Draft Day'

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
It's nice to be treated like a grown-up by a Hollywood comedy

Ivan Reitman's early comedies leaned heavily on the idea of the scruffy underdogs who managed to retain their personal quirks within systems designed to break them down. Whether it was the rowdy campers and counselors of "Meatballs" or the shabby soldiers of "Stripes" or the Ghostbusters, Reitman's movies seemed to celebrate these characters and the entire idea of rebellion.

After those films, though, he became an A-list director whose movies seemed to lean on high concepts that were much less interesting. "Legal Eagles" and "Twins" were both dispiriting efforts that leaned heavily on movie star charisma in place of actual scripts and characters. In general, any film Reitman made with Arnold Schwarzenegger felt like a total refutation of the things that Reitman did well.

The one bright spot in his post-"Ghostbusters" filmography was "Dave," which started as a sharp and funny script, and if "Draft Day" feels like any of his prior films, it's "Dave." It's nice to see a comedy that is about adults simply doing their jobs, without any ridiculous high-concept grafted onto things. The NFL draft is a huge business event now, and for sports fans, it is the moment each year when all things are possible. The script by Scott Rothman & Rajiv Joseph does a wonderful job of laying out not only the stakes but the process in a way that even someone who has never paid attention to football can understand, and Reitman seems to take great pleasure in simply standing back and letting his cast play the material.

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<p>Here they come...</p>

Here they come...

Credit: Marvel Studios

Are you ready for the first full clip of Star-Lord in action in 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'?

Lookin' better all the time

"Guardians Of The Galaxy" has gone from completely unknown quantity for the general public to "that weird-ass trailer that I saw in front of 'Captain America' this weekend."

That's progress.

I am positively desperate to get the go-ahead to share all of my impressions from the set visit I did for the film in London, but that embargo will probably be in place until around the time of Comic-Con this year. I'm hoping that Marvel does a giant presentation for the film in Hall H. Every time we see footage that is more finished, the film looks better and better. Some of the clips have been part of everything since Marvel showed the footage at last year's Comic-Con, but they get more and more polished as James Gunn gets closer and closer to finally finishing this one.

Tonight, MTV premiered a clip that builds off of one of the bits we see in the trailer.

There's something very familiar about the set-up to the scene, but it's like the goofy and hilarious inversion of the opening scene from '"Raiders Of The Lost Ark." Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) breaks into what looks like an ancient alien structure so he can steal The Orb. There may be a more specific name for the artifact, but right now, all we know about it for sure is that Quill wants it, and he's not the only one.

When Korath (Djimon Hounsou) and his team burst in, Quill drops his name like it's supposed to strike fear into the hearts of all of them. Their confusion speaks volumes, and I love that we're going to get a hero in this film who is constantly having to introduce himself. It's pretty far from the model established in the other Marvel films.

The best part of the clip is the final little bit in which Quill uses his rocket boots to… well, just check it out:


That's awesome, and I love that we finally see Quill put on the helmet/mask that defined the character when he was originally introduced. Pratt nails the tone with every line, and this is seriously starting to look like a whole heap of big splashy science-fiction fun.

"Guardians Of The Galaxy" will be in theaters August 1, 2014.

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<p>Sony&#39;s planning to pile &#39;Spider-Man&#39; related movies into the theater at a startling pace, and Drew Goddard is close to signing his deal to direct &#39;The Sinister Six&#39;</p>

Sony's planning to pile 'Spider-Man' related movies into the theater at a startling pace, and Drew Goddard is close to signing his deal to direct 'The Sinister Six'

Credit: Marvel Comics

Drew Goddard nears a deal to direct the Spider-Man spinoff film 'The Sinister Six'

Is this really a good plan for Sony?

We've heard over and over now that Sony is planning to expand the "world of Spider-Man," and it seems to me to be one of the riskiest plans any studio in Hollywood has at the moment.

Sure, it sounds like a safe bet at first. After all, it's Spider-Man. He was one of the first of the true blockbuster superheroes of the modern age of superhero movies, and the reboot a few years ago went about as well as Sony could have hoped. They are notably light on homegrown franchises at Sony, so they're looking to make the most of Spider-Man while they can. The problem is that they may well be pushing the property to the breaking point in the process.

I think Drew Goddard is a tremendous choice for pretty much anything. The guy's a damn fine writer, and "Cabin In The Woods" is a film that I have enjoyed more each time I've seen it. There is something really interesting in a playful sort of way about trying to build a big giant movie around nothing but super-powered bad guys, and if they're not actually fighting Spider-Man, I'm not sure what "The Sinister Six" is going to be about. That's not necessarily a bad thing. We're at the point with these movies where filmmakers are going to have to start shattering formula and trying new things if they want to keep the films fresh and if they want to keep surprising audiences.

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<p>I can&#39;t wait to see the dramatic fall-out when Han Solo walks in on this during &#39;Star Wars Episode VII&#39;</p>

I can't wait to see the dramatic fall-out when Han Solo walks in on this during 'Star Wars Episode VII'

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Peter Mayhew will suit up again as Chewbacca for 'Star Wars Episode 7'

Pretty sure this confirms that the Expanded Universe no longer matters

Okay, so can we finally stop asking how much of the Expanded Universe they're planning to use in "Star Wars: Episode VII"?

In 1999, "Vector Prime" was published as part of the "New Jedi Order" series of novels. In it, author R. A. Salvatore secured his place on my enemies list by killing Chewbacca as he tried to save Han Solo's son Anakin. I am a lifelong shameless fan of Han Solo's friend and business partner, and I've always felt like they treated Chewie badly. In the first film, I've never understood why he doesn't get a medal at the same time as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. It's like they think he's Han Solo's dog instead of his co-pilot. Killing him made headlines, but it didn't make for a good book, and it seemed really short-sighted of them to eliminate the character.

Thankfully, those books no longer matter. If you're a fan who spent a lot of time and energy on the Expanded Universe novels, I sincerely hope you enjoyed them and that they were part of your personal "Star Wars" experience, but I think it's important that the films don't feel bound to adapt those stories or treat them as canon. These films have to be able to surprise us, and if it's just a matter of them creating a big-screen checklist of things that fans already know, what fun would that be?

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<p>Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith are both expected back for the sequel to &#39;Karate Kid&#39;</p>

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith are both expected back for the sequel to 'Karate Kid'

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Crazies' director Breck Eisner signs to direct Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in 'Karate Kid' sequel

Took 'em long enough

My children reached a major milestone in their life recently, when I screened the new film "Chinese Zodiac" for them on Blu-ray. The film isn't one of Jackie Chan's best, but it has several fun set pieces, and the closing credits are like a giant overview of Jackie's whole career, along with footage of his stunts going wrong, a long-time tradition for his movies.

They have now both declared Jackie Chan The Coolest Person Alive and they're desperate to see more of his movies. I get it, because I know so many movie fans who have had that same lightning bolt moment with Jackie Chan movies over the years. You see him do something that defies logic and safety and the rules of physics, and next thing you know, you're in Chinatown trying to find an import Blu-ray of the uncut "Drunken Master 2."

What really blew their minds, though, was when I told them that "Chinese Zodiac" was not the first film they've seen him in. Toshi told me I was crazy and refused to believe me until I brought out the Blu-ray for the remake of "The Karate Kid," a movie that they both watched four or five times after it arrived at the house. They really enjoyed the film, but for some reason, they never connected the Jackie Chan who plays Mr. Miyagi in that film with the Jackie Chan from "Chinese Zodiac." Once Toshi finally got his head around it, he was even more impressed.

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<p>If I were the director of &#39;X-Men: Days Of Future Past,&#39; I can&#39;t imagine this would make me happy.</p>

If I were the director of 'X-Men: Days Of Future Past,' I can't imagine this would make me happy.

Credit: Carl's Jr.

Why is our first view of Quicksilver from 'X-Men' in a Carl's Jr. TV commercial?

This feels like a huge tactical mistake

We must be getting close to the release of "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" if the fast-food tie-in commercials are already airing.

Here's what I don't understand. Quicksilver, played in Bryan Singer's movie by Evan Peters, is one of the main new characters in the series, and he plays a key role in securing Magneto's escape from an impossible prison in the film. We've seen photos of Peters in his costume from the film, but he hasn't featured in any significant way in the trailers so far.

That means that our visual introduction to Quicksilver in motion comes in the form of 30 seconds of him eating an X-tra Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit. If they were hoping to make him seem interesting or intimidating or cool, this is pretty much the opposite of the way they should have handled things.

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