<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
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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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<p>Just one of the many moments that scared the holy hell out of my kids when we finally screened &#39;Raiders Of The Lost Ark&#39;</p>

Just one of the many moments that scared the holy hell out of my kids when we finally screened 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Film Nerd 2.0: Indy and Batman and X-Men, oh my

My kids are starting to assert their own taste, and that's a great thing

We live in an age of franchises.

One of the simple truths of modern pop culture is that there is nothing a studio values more than the ability to get a series off the ground where they can constantly count on fans coming back for more of the same. My kids are on the hook for so many ongoing series at this point that I have to sometimes remind them that films that aren't part of a series are also worth watching.

There are some series that they're not ready for yet, like "Lord Of The Rings" or "The Terminator," and Toshi is constantly pushing to see the things that have been on the "not yet" shelf for a while. Recently, we've dabbled with a few series, and the reactions from both of the kids have been interesting, and not what I expected.

For example, one would think that based on the series I wrote about sharing the "Star Wars" saga with my kids that the same amount of thought and energy would go into figuring out how to introduce them to Indiana Jones.

One would think that, but one would be wrong.

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<p>He&#39;s done enough action films that we feel safe saying Chiwetel Ejiofor would make an awesome Bond villain.</p>

He's done enough action films that we feel safe saying Chiwetel Ejiofor would make an awesome Bond villain.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Chiwetel Ejiofor may be signing on to play the next Bond villain

Could this be our new Blofeld?

So is the new plan to only hire recent Oscar nominees to play Bond villains? Because if so, I'm cool with that.

I'm trying not to think about the next James Bond movie too much because I will get unreasonably excited about it when it's actually coming out. While I think "Skyfall" is one of those films that you shouldn't try to dig into too deeply on a plot level because of how much coincidence is built into it, it is one of those movies that is just plain pleasurable to watch, start to finish. There is a confidence about it that more than makes up for the things that make no sense, and Javier Bardem is having so much fun playing a terrible, terrible person that I wish he could come back for another film.

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