<p>James Cromwell's Farmer Hoggett is one of the most endearing characters in film history, and introducing my kids to him was one of this month's highlights</p>

James Cromwell's Farmer Hoggett is one of the most endearing characters in film history, and introducing my kids to him was one of this month's highlights

Credit: Universal Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: 'Babe' vs 'Tron' on Blu-ray

Do the boys prefer disc wars and the MCP or Farmer Hoggett's farm?

It's been a long and frustrating day of dealing with my son's educational future, so it seems appropriate for me to wrap it up with the latest column in the Film Nerd 2.0 series that outlines my efforts to help my kids make sense of the preposterous number of media options available to them.

I love seeing things with fresh eyes, and there is no easier way to do that than having kids and really engaging when you share something with them.  One thing I've learned is that kids make their decisions about what they want to see very quickly, based on the most basic information or impressions, and that it is hard to predict what will affect them and what won't.

Both of my sons were out of town for a stretch of nearly six months at the end of last year, and as a result, when "TRON: Legacy" was released, they weren't here.  Toshi, my five-year-old, had seen the trailers and was interested in the lead-up to release, but by the time they got back, the film was out of theaters.  And knowing there was a Blu-ray release of the original film in the works, I never broke out my old DVD of the film for him.

The entire time they were gone, I stockpiled movies for them, and we've been chipping away at them as we've been catching up.  Finally, as we were putting together our plan for a recent weekend, Toshi decided that it was finally time for the big "TRON" double-feature, while Allen decided he wanted to see "Babe," or, as he referred to it, "PIGGY!"

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<p>The Capitol demands its Tributes, and Lionsgate is happy to throw two more kids into 'The Hunger Games'</p>

The Capitol demands its Tributes, and Lionsgate is happy to throw two more kids into 'The Hunger Games'

Credit: Lionsgate

'Hunger Games' finds unknowns for fan favorites Rue and Thresh

Lionsgate starts a district-by-district countdown on Facebook

I would suspect that many of the tributes cast in "The Hunger Games" are going to be fresh faces, and while that may be a budgetary decision in large part, it's also a choice that could work in the film's favor.

Rue is one of the characters most beloved by readers of "The Hunger Games," and for good reason.  Casting Rue is critically important because the character has to make a major impression on audiences without a ton of screen time, and so first reactions are going to be important with her.

Looking at Amandla Stenberg, my first reaction is that she's too young… and that's exactly right.  She looks like she's half the age of Jennifer Lawrence, who will star in the film as Katniss Everdeen, and watching these characters face each other down in a battle of life and death should be upsetting.  Director Gary Ross has spoken already about how important it is for him to get a PG-13 for his movie, and he can't have it be overtly violent or bloody.  He can, however, play with the empathy of the audience, and casting Rue to be this young… that's a smart decision.  It even pays off the fact that Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson look a little older than some people expected.

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<p>How can you argue with a guy who won an award as 'Best Asskicker' when he gets cast to play Parker?&nbsp; You can't.&nbsp; Because he will break your thigh.</p>

How can you argue with a guy who won an award as 'Best Asskicker' when he gets cast to play Parker?  You can't.  Because he will break your thigh.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The Morning Read: Jason Statham set to bust heads as 'Parker'

Plus ActionFest tributes, Ernie Kovacs, and one crazy 'Dr. Who' compilation

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Jason Statham as Donald Westlake's Parker, huh
?  If you're not familiar with the author or the character, you still might have seen at least one of the previous films based on the material.  Mel Gibson adapted it with "Payback," John Boorman's "Point Blank" featured Lee Marvin in the role, and the craziest version of the book is Ringo Lam's "Full Contact."  There are a total of 24 books in the Parker series, but for some reason, we keep getting loose adaptations of The Hunter, the first book in the series.  And now, according to Variety, we're getting another one, with Taylor Hackford set to direct, and with Jason Statham set to play the role.  That's pretty good casting, but they're going to have to work hard to wring something new out of this particular piece of material.  In addition to all of the previous film versions, there's also an outstanding comic adaptation by Darwyn Cooke that was published not long ago, so it's definitely a book that has been interpreted and reinterpreted already.  Even so, this looks like the first adaptation that's actually using the character's name, and it makes me wonder… if this first one works, will they move forward with Statham in more films based on other books in the series?

And in the meantime, how about a long-lost Donald Westlake book to tide you over?

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<p>Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth play Loki and Thor, brothers whose complex relationship drives much of the drama in Marvel's newest superhero movie 'Thor'</p>

Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth play Loki and Thor, brothers whose complex relationship drives much of the drama in Marvel's newest superhero movie 'Thor'

Credit: Marvel Studios/Paramount

Review: 'Thor' offers up colorful, cosmic intro to Asgard's greatest hero

Intimate at times, epic at others, 'Thor' is strong addition to Marvel universe

I am of mixed mind about the glut of superhero cinema right now, and this summer is going to test the patience of the audience with the genre. 

In the comments section for my "Transformers" piece yesterday, Vern posted a few times, invoking the image of Pauline Kael trying to write about the current landscape of movies.  And it's both very funny and a nice humbling reminder that critics are defined by their overall diet of movies.  We are only ever as good as the movies we are given to write about, and when I'm done with all of this in the future, will the sum total of my work be varying opinions about how well people crafted movies that primarily deal with dudes in funny costumes beating the hell out of each other?

The thing is, part of me has been waiting my whole life to see the Marvel characters in particular brought to life on the bigscreen.  Now that they're actually doing it, there is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing how they approach each of the characters, and even if I haven't loved all of the films, it's been exciting to watch these things come to fruition.  And I am happy to admit that I'm an easy mark for this sort of thing.  I have a voracious appetite for pulp, and I'm not sold on the idea that these movies need to be "important".  On the other hand, if they're not fun, they don't really have any reason to exist.  These films cost a small fortune, especially if you want to make the outrageous seem possible, and that sets up the expectation that they must be bigger and more significant than the average issue of a comic book… even if that's all these films really are.

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<p>Want to see more of Optimus Prime?&nbsp; On July 1st, the Transformers return with what looks like their biggest and craziest film so far.</p>

Want to see more of Optimus Prime?  On July 1st, the Transformers return with what looks like their biggest and craziest film so far.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Sneak peek: 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon' offers craziest robot action yet

The destruction of Chicago, Sam vs. Starscream, and Sentinel Prime on display

I think it's safe to say that there are many people who openly dislike "Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen."  And, after sitting with him for a half-hour yesterday to talk about the third chapter in the giant robots franchise, I'd say Michael Bay is one of those people.

And just wait till you see his apology.

There will be a new trailer for "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon" that appears in front of "Fast Five" next weekend, and Thursday morning, a small group of us met at Paramount to see the trailer, a chunk of scenes from the movie, and a 3D sizzle reel.  And the trailer is, in a word, outrageous.  The scale of this film is so different than what I thought it was that I'm almost at a loss to describe it.  It's not even the same genre as the first two "Transformers" films.  This time out, Bay is making a full-blown alien invasion movie that just happens to use Autobots and Decepticons, and the result looks like the craziest action movie ride this summer.

And, yes, I'm prepared to say that after just one presentation.  I've certainly had my problem with some of Bay's films over the years, but he is as in love with pure action for the sake of action as any filmmaker working right now, and it looks to me like he's gone out of his way here to build scenes that no one's ever done before.  It also looks like he's embraced the idea of 3D as a tool to enhance those action scenes, and like he's having fun with the pure little-boy-game of imagining giant robot mayhem this time.

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<p>Tyler Stout's full poster for 'Akira' is being made exclusively available to the lucky people attending the Mondo Mystery Movie tonight in Austin, TX, but we've got your first look at the poster exclusively here at HitFix.</p>

Tyler Stout's full poster for 'Akira' is being made exclusively available to the lucky people attending the Mondo Mystery Movie tonight in Austin, TX, but we've got your first look at the poster exclusively here at HitFix.

Credit: Mondo/Alamo

Exclusive: Your first look at the poster for the Alamo/Mondo Mystery Movie

Plus some insight into what makes Mondo tick and where they're headed

I am not a collector.

Not really.  I certainly have my share of items here in the house that celebrate or commemorate my lifelong passion for film, but I don't spend much money on shirts or toys or posters right now, because if I did, my wife would kill me with a rock while I was sleeping.  We've got school to pay for, a new car to buy, and a million other obligations, not even taking our mortgage into account.  Yet if I had spare cash just laying around, I guarantee a good percentage of it would end up in the pockets of Justin Ishmael and the rest of the guys behind Mondo.

I remember the Mondo Tees that was part of the original Drafthouse, and it's hard to believe that the business it is today grew out of those humble beginnings, but I shouldn't be surprised.  After all, Mondo is another of the charmed businesses in the orbit of Tim League, and a big part of why he's been so successful is because he goes above and beyond to make each exhibition experience special.  That philosophy seems to be a big part of the creation process behind the posters that are now the main cultural output of Mondo, posters created by artists like Tyler Stout and Oly Moss.  Now that Mondo is licensing titles, they're able to create amazing art for these films we collectively love, posters that should have been used in theaters, but that would have never been approved by studios.

What I love most is that these posters manage to sum up why we love a film in very simple fashion, and tonight, there's an event going on where they'll premiere an incredibly limited-run poster.  It was announced as a secret screening, and it's only once the lights go down that the audience will discover they're seeing the anime classic "Akira."  

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<p>David Arquette and Courteney Cox return to their familiar roles of Dewey and Gale in 'Scream 4'</p>

David Arquette and Courteney Cox return to their familiar roles of Dewey and Gale in 'Scream 4'

Credit: Dimension Films

Listen: David Arquette joins the podcast to discuss Dewey's return to 'Scream 4'

We discuss the legacy of 'Scream' along with this week's new DVD and theatrical releases

As long as I've been working online, there have been "Scream" movies to cover.

I remember the frenzy around "Scream 2," the desperate rush to figure out what Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson were doing with the movie, the fake scripts that were leaked to the Internet.  And from the start of our conversation, it's apparent that David Arquette remembers those days as well.

It's been a long time since that happened, though, and in the time since, both the Internet and David Arquette have changed quite a bit.

It's a weird podcast this week.  Scott and I digressed a bit as we were running down this weak in home video, and we spent almost a full hour on the first part of the podcast.  I tried to torture him with this week's round of Movie God, but I failed completely because the more we talked, the clearer it became to both of us:  we are not Wes Craven fans.

We'll get into it in the episode, but it's one of those things I hate bringing up because Craven's got such a major reputation in the world of horror, and in person, he's a pretty great guy.  Smart, charming, with a wealth of interests, he's one of those guys who is always impressive in conversation, and yet, looking at his career as a whole, I have trouble wrapping my head around how he built that reputation.

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<p>Caesar, a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis and the wizards at WETA&nbsp;Digital, made his debut in the trailer for 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' today</p>

Caesar, a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis and the wizards at WETA Digital, made his debut in the trailer for 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' today

Credit: 20th Century Fox/WETA Digital

A big morning for WETA: 'Hobbit' diary and 'Apes' trailer

Nostalgia and the cutting edge collide in behind the scenes and trailer debuts

Hobbits and WETA and "Apes," oh my!

Okay, I won't lie.  Watching the production diary for "The Hobbit" was tremendously exciting.  Three years of promise starts right now, really.  Three years of curiosity and teases and glimpses and marketing, done the way really only Peter Jackson has ever mastered online.  Nobody else has ever done for a giant blockbuster the same level of outreach, something that Jackson and the amazing New Line team orchestrated on "Lord Of The Rings" and that Jackson did again with Universal on "King Kong."  And Peter Jackson standing in Bag End in 3D glasses is a mighty cheeky way to kick things off.

If the "Rings" films mean anything to you, there are some incredible things on display here.  Goblin tunnels?  Beneath the Misty Mountains?  OMG.  OMFG.  And if you don't know the story of "The Hobbit," then let me just say that you've got some wonderful adventure storytelling ahead of you.  I love Tolkien's giant triple-play, but I've always thought that "The Hobbit" is one of the best adventure stories ever written, self-contained and self-explanatory and just plain fun.  Thrilling.  Evocative. Suggestive.  And beautiful.

Oh, lord… Ian McKellan.  13 dwarves.  Martin Freeman.  Andy Serkis in the make-up chair.  WHO AM I KIDDING?  It's fantastic.  And the local New Zealand first day of filming blessing of the soundstages.  I love where they chose to start the shoot.  What a great thing to dig into, and now they've given themselves the rest of the process to nail down the performance in one of the most important and iconic scenes in the entire story.

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<p>Daniel Craig will return as James Bond as least two more times for Sony and MGM, thanks to the deal that was announced today.</p>

Daniel Craig will return as James Bond as least two more times for Sony and MGM, thanks to the deal that was announced today.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Sony strikes deal with MGM for next two James Bond films

Co-financing deal gives Sony two more dates with the superspy

It is, to say the least, good news to hear that Sony and MGM have worked out a deal for not one but two new James Bond movies.

There's been speculation about this possibility before now, but the confirmation today should be enough to make James Bond fans around the world relax now.  I have to say I was genuinely upset at the idea that we might not see more of this new Daniel Craig version of the character.  I know plenty of people who dislike this approach to the franchise, but I figure we've had decades of smarmy jokey Roger Moore style Bond films, and it's nice to finally have a Bond that makes me feel like someone actually read an Ian Fleming novel at some point.

I like the story that has been developing over the course of the Craig films so far.  "Casino Royale" was a very strong introduction, and now, I can hope that on November 9, 2012, I'll be seeing the next chapter in that story.  We've been building towards some answers regarding whatever the organization is that has been pulling the strings in the first film and in "Quantum Of Solace," and it feels like MGM and Sony, knowing they're making "Bond 23" and "Bond 24" together, can wrap that story up if they want to now.

The big picture relevance of today's press release is that Sony and MGM are now looking at a five year deal where they will be co-financing and releasing films together.

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<p>Bradley Cooper visited the Wall Street Stock Exchange to promote his new film 'Limitless,' because we all know how much the Crow loooooves securities trading.</p>

Bradley Cooper visited the Wall Street Stock Exchange to promote his new film 'Limitless,' because we all know how much the Crow loooooves securities trading.

Credit: AP Photo

The Afternoon Read: Will Bradley Cooper really play 'The Crow'?

Plus P. Diddy is a 'Bellflower' fan and Justin Theroux stages a beard-off

Welcome to The Afternoon Read.

I don't have a problem with Bradley Cooper signing on to play The Crow because of any special feelings I have about The Crow.  It's more because it sounds like an amazing bit of career suicide just as things are heating up for Cooper.  For one thing, no matter who plays the part, they're going to be compared to Brandon Lee, and that's a sucker's game.  Lee's work in the Alex Proyas original is the very definition of a star-making performance, and there's not a lot of character to the character.  It's a make-up job, a sulk, and some violence.  I hope this is just an early round of the casting guessing game, and not something Cooper's really close to actually doing.  But when Borys Kit uses terms like "in early negotiations," that's very specific, and frankly, in this case, sort of terrifying.  Relativity, which just had a surprise hit with Cooper's movie "Limitless," seems determined to move quickly on this one, and with this casting news, it sounds like they're off to a really weird start.

So, uh, they appear to have discovered a new elementary particle, which cold possibly change our understanding of the properties of matter.  Nothing major.

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