<p>Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Emily Browning, Scott Glenn, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jamie Chung get ready for war in 'Sucker Punch'</p>

Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Emily Browning, Scott Glenn, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jamie Chung get ready for war in 'Sucker Punch'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Set Visit: Visual overload, lovely ladies on 'Sucker Punch' set

In the first in a series, we try to get our heads around what Zack Snyder's making

VANCOUVER - Walking through the various sets and art departments and rehearsal spaces in use for the movie "Sucker Punch," Deb Snyder giving us the majority of the tour with well-orchestrated appearances from the various department heads and director Zack Snyder himself, one thing quickly became apparent to me:  no matter how hard they all tried to explain the film to me, this was not going to be a movie that would ever be easily summed up.

I've known Zack Snyder since the post-production period on "300," when I visited his offices in Burbank to watch some early footage that he'd finished, and he has always struck me as a guy who finds it frankly amazing that he gets to do what he does for a studio with some real muscle behind him helping him realize his imagination.  As we looked at some of the first finished scene from that film, I laughed several times, incredulous at what I was seeing, and the more I reacted, the more animated Zack got talking about how and why he used the various tricks in his bag.

For "Watchmen," I visited the Vancouver sets that were built for the film, and it remains one of the most impressive physical builds I've ever seen.  I got the feeling that was an important part of the publicity for that film after all the press about the greenscreens on "300," the way they built that world in a computer.  And walking around those sets with Snyder, as he basically described the way they took the inside of Dave Gibbons' head and turned it into a physical location that was several square city blocks wide, what I felt was his strongest attribute came into focus:  his total immersion in whatever it is he's making.

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<p>If I tried to explain what's happening in this scene in 'Rango,' you'd never believe me.&nbsp; It's really something you need to see for yourself.</p>

If I tried to explain what's happening in this scene in 'Rango,' you'd never believe me.  It's really something you need to see for yourself.

Credit: Paramount Pictures/ILM

Review: Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski bring the outrageous 'Rango' to life

Is it a Western? Is it 'Chinatown'? Is it for kids? Does it matter?

"Rango" is one of those films that I love simply because it exists. 

The fact that Gore Verbinski took all the box-office clout he earned directing the mega-blockbuster "Pirates Of The Caribbean" trilogy and used it to make a spaghetti western about a domesticated chameleon who ends up alone in the desert, animated completely by a company that has never made a full-length animated film… that is so totally preposterous that I feel like it's this great magical little accident, worth extra scrutiny right away.

The good news is that, for the most part, "Rango" is a wild and witty race through a variety of genre conventions, twisted through the filter of a bunch of strange-looking anthropomorphic animals running a riff on "Chinatown."  Yes, that's right.  It's "Chinatown."  For kids.  With animals.  In the old west.

There's a sophisticated silliness to what Verbinski and ILM have accomplished here, and the mix of slapstick with nimble verbal wit with designs by Crash McCreery, unchained after years of bringing some of the best-known fantastic creatures in pop cinema to life, is almost intoxicating.  "Rango" feels unhinged at its best moments, like anything might happen, and it's liberating to see such talented people running so absolutely off the rails.

I mean that as a good thing, by the way.

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<p>Charles Laughton is just one of the actors who has been drawn to the role of Quasimodo over the years, and he gave one of the best performances of his career in the role.</p>

Charles Laughton is just one of the actors who has been drawn to the role of Quasimodo over the years, and he gave one of the best performances of his career in the role.

Credit: MGM Home Video

Why would Josh Brolin and Tim Burton attempt 'Hunchback' again?

This Victor Hugo book has been filmed repeatedly, so why go back to the bell?

One of the highlights for me at this year's Butt-Numb-A-Thon was seeing the Charles Laughton version of "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame" on a theatrical screen.  I've seen that one many times, but always at home, and it's the sort of experience that benefits from being seen on as big a screen as possible.  Part of that is the impressive production design, but much of what I feel benefits from being blown up that big is Laughton's performance.

Quasimodo is one of those roles that actors are drawn to because of the various opportunities that it represents.  And with Josh Brolin, I can tell you that he is absolutely fascinated by the world of make-up heavy performances.  When I visited the set of "Jonah Hex" and talked to him about the appliances he had to wear in that film, he was loving the restrictions it placed on him as an actor.  And while that film didn't really work out for Brolin, it sounds like it didn't dampen his enthusiasm at all.

After yesterday's wins at the Academy Awards and the billion-or-so dollars it earned at the box-office worldwide, "Alice In Wonderland" is going to serve as a template for a whole lot of movies that are going to be greenlit in the next few weeks and months.  And in particular, it's going to make it very, very easy for a studio to say yes to any classic story with Burton's name attached.

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<p>William Fichtner prepares to kick ass and take names as The Accountant in 'Drive Angry 3D'</p>

William Fichtner prepares to kick ass and take names as The Accountant in 'Drive Angry 3D'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Watch: Wiliam Fichtner settles up as The Accountant in 'Drive Angry'

One of our favorite character actors sits down to talk about his new unstoppable bad guy role

I hate the idea that a compliment I was trying to pay someone may have inadvertently been taken as an insult, and I'm hoping that wasn't the case when I sat down last week to talk to William Fichtner.

See, I don't think it's an insult to call someone a "character actor" as opposed to a "leading man," and I'll explain why.  To me, "leading men" are frequently the movie stars who don't really change from film to film, and that isn't a good thing.  It's the reason they are movie stars, sure, but I would think that one of the reasons you become an actor in the first place is to vanish into different roles, becoming different characters to such a degree that the actor becomes invisible.

That's how I would describe William Fichtner.  I know that for me, it was "Contact" that turned him from "I recognize that guy" to "I need to make sure I see whatever that guy does," and he's been utilized well by filmmakers like Michael Mann ("Heat"), Kathryn Bigelow ("Strange Days"), Michael Bay ("Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor"), Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down"), and Kurt Wimmer ("Equiibrium").  He's made an impression on TV viewers on the show "Prison Break," and he gave great smarm in his appearances on "Entourage" as Phil Yagoda.

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<p>I can see why censors in the '50s had cardiac issues when dealing with the voluptuous Jane Russell</p>

I can see why censors in the '50s had cardiac issues when dealing with the voluptuous Jane Russell

Credit: RKO Pictures

Jane Russell, star of 'The Outlaw' and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' remembered

One of the hottest women from Hollywood's studio days passes away at 89

It is not enough to merely remark upon the passing of Jane Russell that "they don't make them like that anymore."

The truth is, they never made them like that.  Jane Russell was a cruise missile in a world of firecrackers, a Great White Shark of a sweater girl with a bawdy sense of humor about herself, and she cut an imposing figure in the films she made.

The thing about a death like this is while I am certainly sorry to hear about it, she's been out of the public eye for the past 25 years already.  The last onscreen appearance she made was an episode of "Hunter" in the mid-'80s.  She was never the most prolific actress, and the majority of her iconic work was done in the first fifteen years of her career, with much of her fame coming from TV appearances as herself and tabloid headlines when she was young.

Yes… as a male with a pulse, I absolutely admire the young Jane Russell for the volcanic sexual charisma she brought to films like "The Outlaw," "Macao," and "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," but she also had a wicked sense of comic timing, and that's what makes these performances endure above and beyond the visual splendor.

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<p>Will Smith attended the Justin Bieber premiere in Los Angeles with his entire family.</p>

Will Smith attended the Justin Bieber premiere in Los Angeles with his entire family.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Is Will Smith set to suffer in Biblical update 'Joe' for David O. Russell?

Two tough schedules might mesh for high concept riff on the story of 'Job'

The story of Job is a fascinating one, and if there's any section of the Bible I feel could really work in the hands of a smart modern filmmaker, that's it.

Right now, David O. Russell is as white-hot as he's ever been in his career, and even if he didn't win the Oscar this weekend, getting nominated really was the victory for him.  We talked in the most recent Motion/Captured Podcast about the way he's rebounded after the near-disaster of "Nailed," a dark political comedy that fell apart during production, and I'm thrilled to see how many projects he's got lined up.  Not all of them will happen, of course, but for a director, it's crucial that you overdevelop, because so many things can derail a film, no matter how good it sounds.

It makes sense that Russell would want to work with Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson again after the success they've all enjoyed with "The Fighter," and Tamasy and Johnson just sold their new spec "Joe" to Sony and Overbrook Entertainment, with Will Smith attached to star. 

It was on the Movie B.S. podcast that Eric Snider and Jeff Bayer got the Tamasy to open up about his script and just how it was inspired by the Biblical tale of Job, as Collider noted when they pulled this quote:

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<p>Quentin Tarantino, seen here at this weekend's Cesar Awards in Paris where he was honored, is said to be close to production for his new film, a spaghetti western.</p>

Quentin Tarantino, seen here at this weekend's Cesar Awards in Paris where he was honored, is said to be close to production for his new film, a spaghetti western.

Credit: AP Photo/Jacques Brinon

Quentin Tarantino teams Franco Nero and Christoph Waltz for his new spaghetti western

Plus where can you finally see 'Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair'?

Now this is how you start a week.

There have been rumblings building for the last few weeks that Quentin Tarantino was close to announcing his new movie, and that he was working on getting it ready to go.  I was hesitant to mention anything because I was worried that the death of his longtime editor Sally Menke last year might have sidelined him.  Menke was one of his key collaborators, and the loss of someone who is so important to his process could easily keep him from making a new film for a while.  No one would blame him, either.

Instead, it looks like things are coming together for a fall start for his next film, and thanks to Franco Nero, we now know what the ilm is, if only in the broadest of broad strokes.

How does a Quentin Tarantino spaghetti western sound to you?

I love the sound of that, personally.  I'm a big fan of the genre, and some of the best obscure spaghetti westerns I've ever seen were screened as part of Quentin's various film festivals in Austin.  And many of those starred Franco Nero, which makes it very exciting to hear that he's on the list of guys that Tarantino is putting together.  Keith Carradine and Treat Williams were named as also being part of the cast by Nero, and both of those guys would be perfect additions to this type of picture.

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<p>When I realized that C-3PO was the closest Alec Guinness was getting to an Oscar in 1977, it started me thinking about the value, or lack thereof, in awards.</p>

When I realized that C-3PO was the closest Alec Guinness was getting to an Oscar in 1977, it started me thinking about the value, or lack thereof, in awards.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Why I don't watch the Oscars, and don't care who wins

Enough of you asked that I feel compelled to defend my position

How did you spend your Sunday?

Me, I got up late, had lunch with my family, worked on some writing, finished playing "Call Of Duty: Black Ops," and then sat down to watch the same thing every other movie fan watched this Sunday evening.

My new Blu-ray of "Vampire Circus."

Wait… what?  As I was Tweeting some thoughts on the film, I was getting bombarded by people asking me why I wasn't weighing in on the Oscars, and I realized that in all the time I've been here at HitFix, I've never formally explained my anti-Oscar stance, and since it seems like covering the Oscars is automatically expected of anyone and everyone who writes about films, maybe an explanation is due.

So why don't I watch the Oscars?

After all, HitFix has a blog dedicated entirely to awards season and coverage of all the stops on the way to the Oscars, and we've certainly benefited from some ad revenue this Oscar season.  And I've done interviews with many of the nominated actors and directors and writers this year. Why wouldn't I take part in what many people consider to be the pinnacle of the year in movies?

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<p>Of course it all starts in the men's room for Elise (Emily Blunt) and David (Matt Damon) in next weekend's 'The Adjustment Bureau'</p>

Of course it all starts in the men's room for Elise (Emily Blunt) and David (Matt Damon) in next weekend's 'The Adjustment Bureau'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Matt Damon and Emily Blunt make 'The Adjustment Bureau' feel like destiny

Eccentric but endearing adaptation of Philip K. Dick story almost nails it

Hollywood is not kind to Phillip K. Dick.

The strange part is that I think Hollywood would claim otherwise. "Look at how many times we've turned his work into movies," they would say, and they might even think they've "improved" his work.  But the typical tact in bringing a PKD story to the screen is to take his big idea, his hook, and build a rigidly formulaic action movie around it.  I know people love "Total Recall," but I think it's a lot less subversive than it wants to be, and a lot more like most of the carbon copy Ahnold films of that era.  And it is an unfortunate template for adapting his work, because it shortchanges much of what makes his literature so compelling and dense and worth revisiting.

George Nolfi's "The Adjustment Bureau" has its own issues in terms of structure, but it works well in many ways, and overall, I thought it was surprising and even sort of touching.  It is a sweet film, a love story first and a game about the notion of fate and how we make it second, and much of what I would consider good about the film comes down to the chemistry between Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.

David Norris, played by Damon, is a rising star in New York politics, and he is at a turning point early in the film when he meets Elise, played by Blunt, in a bathroom.  And this awkward random moment turns into an instant spark of something, and Nolfi has done a great job of setting things in motion.  There's a playful quality to the film that I think is very strong, and there's no real mystery to things.  He reveals early on what the "big idea" is, and for once, we're not dealing with what I would call science-fiction.

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<p>Jenna Fischer, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, and Christina Applegate illuminate the magic and splendor of marriage in the aftermath of one of the funniest scenes from 'Hall Pass'</p>

Jenna Fischer, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, and Christina Applegate illuminate the magic and splendor of marriage in the aftermath of one of the funniest scenes from 'Hall Pass'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Owen Wilson shines in 'Hall Pass'

The ads for the film make it look like something it's not

It's strange that the Farrelly Brothers have become known for and identified by the most outrageous moments in their comedies.

Sure, they love to push buttons, and in "Hall Pass," their latest film, there are at least two scenes that are designed to provoke an involuntary response from the audience, big giant cold-bucket-of-water shocks that got huge responses when I saw the film.

But if you really want to try to sum up their work, you can't just look at those moments and use them as the totality of what they do.  You have to look at the unconventional casting that they've always made part of their movies.  You have to look at the way they try to find the sweet center of even the most extreme characters in their films.  You have to look at the regional focus of their work, the way they've made their corner of Rhode Island into something as particular to them as certain haunted corners of Maine are to Stephen King.

It's tough for comic filmmakers as they get older because comedy depends in no small part on surprise and the ability to catch an audience off-guard.  It's the same problem that horror filmmakers face.  The more films you make, the more an audience gets a bead on you.  They start to predict your rhythms.  And the moment an audience gets ahead of you, the moment they know when you'll zig and when you'll zag, you find yourself in a tough spot.  The Farrelly Brothers felt like preposterous anarchists when we first saw "Dumb and Dumber" or "Kingpin," and right around the time "There's Something About Mary" came out, they became a name brand.  Audiences got a handle on what it was that the guys did as filmmakers, and almost immediately, it was like the air went out of things for them.

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