William Shatner says 'I'm Back!': Is that for 'Star Trek 3'?
Credit: Paramount Pictures

William Shatner says 'I'm Back!': Is that for 'Star Trek 3'?

It makes sense, but does that mean it's happening?

It makes sense.

After all, the device that JJ Abrams used to bridge the original "Star Trek" series of films and television shows to his 2009 reboot was an appearance by Leonard Nimoy as an older Spock, adrift in time and able to catch a little face-to-face with both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

Why wouldn't Paramount eventually make a move to try to get William Shatner to take advantage of some other temporal paradox and make an appearance with Chris Pine, passing the torch from Kirk to Kirk or, even better, maybe even taking a poke at the younger version of himself?

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Marvel's secret plan for their movie universe seems to be driving Hollywood crazy
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel's secret plan for their movie universe seems to be driving Hollywood crazy

Everyone's aping the moves, but not taking away the right lessons

Everyone else is just playing Marvel's game at this point.

I have no doubt some of the DC/Warner movies will be good, and some will likely be bad, and there will be people who prefer them because there is a strong chance they are going to be radically different in tone than anything Marvel's making, and fandom will continue to rage and debate even as Fox struggles to manage their own unconnected corner of the Marvel Universe. But make no mistake… Marvel is driving the entire conversation right now. Everyone else is reacting to them, or being forced to try to emulate them, or making a conscious decision not to react to them, which is still a reaction, and through it all, Marvel is making the choices they're making based on a long-range story-driven game plan that takes business considerations into account but that also seems designed to ever keep anyone from being in the position of being able to ruin their plans over money.

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Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner discuss how joy gets a family through a 'Very Bad Day'
Credit: HitFix

Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner discuss how joy gets a family through a 'Very Bad Day'

A 'Very Bad Day' was a chance for daily joy for the stars and their onscreen kids

At this point, I've known both Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner for years, and I have very strange memories of watching each of them work. I was on set for "Anchorman" when Brick killed a man with a trident, one of the weirder afternoons I've witnessed on any movie. I stood on top of a building in downtown Los Angeles and tried to have a normal conversation with Garner while a wardrobe assistant polished her butt in her Elektra costume, which is more distracting than you'd guess.

Through it all, the two of them have always struck me as titans of poise. Carell is one of those guys who generally seems bemused by things, no matter what's going on, that smile of his always threatening to erupt, and Garner is both no-nonsense and incredibly sweet in conversation. Both of them seem like people who are always up for the discussion of what they're doing, but also like they're very good at carving off private lives away from the work.

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Review: Paul Thomas Anderson turns 'Inherent Vice' into a woozy, wild triumph

Review: Paul Thomas Anderson turns 'Inherent Vice' into a woozy, wild triumph

HitFix
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Readers
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I will never look at a chocolate banana the same way again

NEW YORK - Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" is probably the most accessible novel he's ever written, set in 1970, a sort of hyper-clever nod to the Raymond Chandler tradition of Los Angeles detective stories. As much as I wanted to like his work, I was never able to really dig in and enjoy Pynchon's books. They felt to me like something to be conquered. With "inherent Vice," I finally found myself caught up in not just his language but with his characters and the world that he was describing. It was my in to the rest of his work, and so it holds a special place for me among his novels.

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The real-life refugee cast of 'The Good Lie' give the film's script credit for telling truth
Credit: HitFix

The real-life refugee cast of 'The Good Lie' give the film's script credit for telling truth

These 'lost boys of the Sudan' have found a way to share their story

The cast of "The Good Lie" came by the HitFix studios this week so we could sit down to discuss the work they did in the film, and the way the movie manages to avoid some of Hollywood's most irritating bad habits.

First up, I spoke with Arnold Oceng and Kuoth Wiel. Oceng is the film's ostensible lead, although I think it's a fairly balanced movie overall in terms of the way it treats its ensemble cast. He's also the one cast member of the four main refugees with the most acting experience, and unsurprisingly, he was fairly poised in our interview.

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Review: Evil doll movie 'Annabelle' never matches scary confidence of 'The Conjuring'
Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

Review: Evil doll movie 'Annabelle' never matches scary confidence of 'The Conjuring'

HitFix
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Readers
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White people have it pretty good in this oddly bloodless thriller

John R. Leonetti is no James Wan.

"The Conjuring" is one of the most exciting surprises I've had in recent memory. I didn't expect anything of it when I sat down to see the horror film in a screening room at what used to be the New Line offices on Robertson. It was me and a handful of other people in the room, and for the first time in a long time, I found myself genuinely caught up in a horror film, scared, absorbed in a way that often escapes me. "The Conjuring" is as confident a ghost story as I've seen in recent years, and Wan deserves whatever bump he gets from that film's success.

I can see why "Annabelle" got made. I can hear the meetings in my head where the film was discussed, and it makes logical sense. After all, the opening sequence in "The Conjuring" is one of the scariest things in the movie. It's an effective, efficient scene that lays out the way the haunted artifacts room in the home of the Warrens works, and it establishes Annabelle as an ongoing source of fear. In theory, the idea of a film about that doll and the origins of its haunting sounds like a good idea.

So why doesn't the finished film work?

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An exclusive look at 'U For Utopia' from the brand-new 'ABCs of Death 2'
Credit: Drafthouse Films

An exclusive look at 'U For Utopia' from the brand-new 'ABCs of Death 2'

What exactly is that thing on wheels?

So how did you guys spend your Thursday nights?

Me, I'm enjoying "The ABCs of Death 2," which is live on VOD right about now. It's a sequel to the anthology film that Drafthouse Films put out a few years ago, another chance for 26 different directors to get together to make short films about… well, death in all its forms. Murder, accidents, crimes of passion, age, sheer stupid luck. It's a great group of filmmakers working on the movie this time, and we've got a couple of fun things coming up to help celebrate the release of the movie.

Tonight, for example, there was a #DeathParty. What's that? Well, on Twitter, a bunch of the filmmakers all got together to hold a live conversation, a running commentary during the film, starting at 7:00 PST. They were joined by Tim League and Ant Timpson, two guys who have the most rabid appetites imaginable for the absurd and the extreme.

I've got an interview coming soon with Vincenzo Natali, director of "Cube" and "Splice" about his chapter in the film, but for tonight, let's just go with a still from "U Is For Utopia," his chapter in the film.

Natali is the perfect kind of filmmaker for this kind of film, a guy with a very clear voice who has struggled with some really brutal development periods on films he's made. With this, he gets to make a complete idea, and he gets to do it quickly, delivering something and being able to move on and not having to dedicate years of his life to something that ends in frustration.

Check back here on the 7th and on the 23rd for two more fun "ABCs Of Death 2" updates involving Natali.

You can find the film on VOD now, and the film will roll into theaters on October 31st, just in time for the most f'ed up Halloween parties imaginable.

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Michael Keaton gives good crazy in exclusive images from 'Birdman'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Michael Keaton gives good crazy in exclusive images from 'Birdman'

Wait... is that really Zach Galifianakis?

As the fall season gets underway, I'm starting to finally get a look at some of the movies I've been most excited about, including "Birdman," which I get to see tomorrow. I couldn't be more excited about the movie based on what I've heard, and I'm doing my best not to watch clips or to learn too much. I want to see it all in context.

Well… almost all. They did send me some new images from the film today that I'm going to share, featuring the cast and, in one shot, the director. Is it weird that one of the things that makes me happiest about the mere existence of this film is that Michael Keaton is front and center again?

In general, Michael Keaton's career has been the source of confusion for me for a while now. Keaton is the quintessential '80s leading man, the cloth from which Tom Hanks was cut, the model that everyone imitated, and he has been missing from starring roles for too long. When he showed up in the same small role in both "Jackie Brown" and "Out Of Sight," it felt like everyone I spoke to about it was excited the same way. They were thrilled to see him. They said they wanted to see more of him. They were confused why we haven't seen him more often lately.

While "Birdman" is an original, written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, it feels like there are parallels between the character Keaton's playing, named Riggan Thomson, and his own professional persona. While it seems like an easy thing to imagine that as an actor you'd want to be playing the biggest roles possible, making the choice to become Batman is a big one, and it becomes a defining moment, no matter what else you do in your career. I would imagine there are things about the role that would haunt you no matter what, no matter how much you appreciated it, and while I normally am not a fan of movies about the people who make movies, I think there's some real dramatic heft to the concept.

Anyway, enjoy the photos, and I can't wait to both see and review the movie.

"Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)" begins as a limited release on October 17th, then starts rolling out wider at the end of the month.

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Robots and Bay-hem loom large in 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' concept art
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Robots and Bay-hem loom large in 'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' concept art

Want to see what Optimus Prime's packing under the hood?

One of my favorite parts of any filmmaking process, especially on big giant science-fiction or fantasy films, is the design process when illustrators work to figure out the visual signature of a film.

As Paramount gears up to release "Transformers: Age Of Extinction" on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, they sent over a fistful of the artwork that was created to help pin down the look of the movie. Sure, it's a sequel, but there were so many things that had to be redesigned and so many new characters that had to be introduced that they had as much work to do here as they would have on any original film.

You'll see a lot of environmental stuff in these images as they worked to find the look of the Knight Ship and some of the inhabitants of that ship, and you'll see studies on several of the new Transformers. I like the concept art of the Bumble-Bee battle in the streets of downtown Hong Kong a lot.

Say what you will about Michael Bay, but it's clear looking at this art that this is a guy who pushes his design team to dream as big as possible.

"Transformers: Age Of Extinction" is in stores tomorrow.

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David Fincher calls R2-D2 and C-3PO 'slaves' and explains why he's not making 'Episode VII'
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

David Fincher calls R2-D2 and C-3PO 'slaves' and explains why he's not making 'Episode VII'

I would watch the heck out of Fincher's movie based on what he said

One of the reasons for the enduring appeal of "Star Wars" is that different people can take wildly different meanings from the films, depending on which character or characters they feel most drawn to. Case in point? David Fincher, currently promoting "Gone Girl," gave an interview in which he presented an interesting read on the first two films in the ongoing space opera saga.

I'm sure some fans are going to accuse Fincher of overthinking this, but I think he's got a valid point about the "Star Wars" universe, one that I've thought about a fair amount as I've gotten older and as I see the films from a fresh perspective. George Lucas spoke early on about how he considered R2-D2 and C-3PO to be the leads in the entire series, and I remember him saying they would be the only characters to show up in all of the movies. While I don't really like the way C-3PO's backstory is handled thanks to the prequels, I have an inordinate fondness for the two characters, and in particular, I remember how it felt as a kid when I first saw the film and realized that the droids were the ones having the adventure, with all the human characters coming together because of the actions of the droids. I've always considered them to be hugely important to the movies.

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