<p>George Romero, seen here directing 'Survival Of The Dead,' may end up making two more films in the series.</p>

George Romero, seen here directing 'Survival Of The Dead,' may end up making two more films in the series.

Credit: Magnet Releasing

George Romero discusses future movies 'Of The Dead'

Are there two more sequels on the way?

I feel vindicated.

I grew up on George Romero films, and specifically, I grew up on George Romero zombie films.  Everyone else who's worked in that genre needs to acknowledge how much he set the template that they've all followed since.  He's worked multiple variations in style and form as he's returned to zombies again and again.  I'm a fan of "Land Of The Dead," and when he made "Diary Of The Dead," I walked into it ready to enjoy it.

Didn't, though.  I hated it.  Haaaaaated it.

I thought his use of the found footage gimmick was frustrating, his lead characters were either unbearable or non-existent.  At the time, I wrote that the biggest problem with the movie was that we spent the whole film following people I hated as they drove by more interesting movies.  There were several scenes that were interesting, provocative, and ultimately frustrating because they suggested much better films than the one I was watching.

When I saw "Survival Of The Dead" at the Toronto Film Festival last year, I almost cheered when I realized about five minutes into the film that Romero was starting from one of those scenes in "Diary" and then following that story instead.  And sure enough, it was much more interesting.  I liked "Survival."  Didn't love it, but liked it.  I thought it suggested a refreshed Romero, a guy who was enjoying the work again.

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<p>Why is Samuel L. Jackson smiling like that?&nbsp;&nbsp;Because he knows how many more paydays he's got coming playing Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe.</p>

Why is Samuel L. Jackson smiling like that?  Because he knows how many more paydays he's got coming playing Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe.

Credit: Paramount Pictures/Marvel Studios

Is there a 'S.H.I.E.L.D' movie coming after 'The Avengers'?

That's what star Samuel L. Jackson claims

This just makes good sense.  After all, Samuel L. Jackson was one of the first people famously signed to a nine-picture deal by Marvel Studios, and his Nick Fury character is one of the lynchpins of the larger Marvel Universe.

In an appearance this week on RadioBigBoy, Jackson talked about the extended deal he's got with the studio and how busy it's going to keep him for the next few years.  He confirmed that he will be appearing in "Captain America," but not "Thor," which we knew.  He talks about how he'll be in "The Avengers" for the summer after that, which we also knew.

What was interesting was the news that we're going to be getting a "S.H.I.E.L.D." movie the year after "The Avengers."

It's not the most surprising thing to hear.  I'm curious to see how you build a movie around S.H.I.E.L.D. that's different from "The Avengers," but when you spend time building out these characters, film after film, why not use them?  Why not create a vehicle specifically for them? 

The most interesting thing about the way they're building all these movies is that Samuel L. Jackson is the ground zero, the character who ties all of these other characters together, and at 62 years old, he looks better than he ever has and he's finally playing the comic book leads that men half his age would love to play.  He has already made the role of Nick Fury his in a very permanent way, embracing the iconic design and investing him with a swagger ("I'm the realest person that you're ever gonna meet!") that makes him seem like the puppet master pulling all the strings in the Marvel Universe, and that's before we ever see Nick Fury in action.

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<p>Josh Brolin lays down some hurtin's in 'Jonah Hex,' the new DC&nbsp;Comics adaptation directed by Jimmy Hayward.</p>

Josh Brolin lays down some hurtin's in 'Jonah Hex,' the new DC Comics adaptation directed by Jimmy Hayward.

Credit: Warner Bros

The M/C Set Visit: Meeting 'Jonah Hex' in N'awlins

The latest DC Comics character to come to life is a little bit different

Even for someone who has done dozens of set visits at this point, the chance to visit a Western shooting on location is a rare thing.

I know a filmmaker who is a big fan of Westerns.  You could argue that most of his movies are Westerns, only disguised as other things.  I asked him one time why he didn't just make a Western finally, especially with the movie star he frequently works with, since that would be... you know... awesome.

"The horses.  I hate the horses."

The thing about shooting a Western is that you make a commitment.  If you're going to do it right, you have to really go for it.  You have to build the world as carefully as you would a sci-fi film or a fantasy film... you have to consider your work as something with texture... and my favorite Westerns are the ones that feel lived in... worn.  Leone did amazing work in that regard, and that's one of the reasons I sort of revere him.  I think he understood how much dirt and distress affected the reality of a Western, and what a balance it is.  He pushed it just enough to make it mythic, more so each time he made a movie.  When he started, I think his style was a result of budget.  In the end, the budget was the result of his style.  And that's because it got more pronounced.  Leone made the commitment.  He knew what he wanted to create.

Jonah Hex is a character who has been around in one form or another since the early '70s, and basically, he's the Man With No Face.  He's the archetypical Western hero, and he happens to have a crazy scar that covers half of the available real estate above his neck.  He's taken on many forms and been reinvented several times over his life span as a DC Comics mainstay.  His most recent successful run, helmed by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, was obviously on the mind of Jimmy Hayward when we arrived on-set.

You know how I know?  Because he told us.  Emphatically.

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<p>Donkey Kong is just one of the familiar '80s videogame icons who appears in the short film 'Pixels,' which Adam Sandler's Happy Madison is developing as a feature film.</p>

Donkey Kong is just one of the familiar '80s videogame icons who appears in the short film 'Pixels,' which Adam Sandler's Happy Madison is developing as a feature film.

Credit: Patrick Jean

Adam Sandler and Sony set to play some 'Pixels' on the bigscreen

Can first-time filmmaker Patrick Jean bring '80s videogame icons to life?

Patrick Jean, let me offer you two things.

First, congratulations on Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company signing you to turn your short film "Pixels" into a feature film.

Second, have you ever heard of a clearance lawyer?  Because, dude, you are going to become verrrrry familiar with them verrrrrrry soon.

When I made "Cigarette Burns" with John Carpenter, I had my first run-in with clearance lawyers.  I was dumbfounded by the process.  In our film, we had a fictional film that was the object of the search that drove the main character, and in our first draft, we simply called the film "La Fin Du Monde."  I still think it's the best possible title for a film that is so potent that it causes the audience to snap and kill themselves or others, but when we tried to get the title cleared, the lawyers refused to do it. They told us there was an Abel Gance film from 1917 with the same title, and that's why we couldn't use it.

Never mind that the Gance film has never been on home video and apparently doesn't exist at this point.  Never mind that it was a silent French film that no one in their right mind would confuse with the movie we created.  The argument from the lawyers was that people might think we were suggesting that Abel Gance was in league with Satan, and we might well get sued over it.

So, yeah... clearance lawyers are insane.

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<p>Russell Crowe was in an uncommonly good mood during the press day for this week's new release, 'Robin Hood'</p>

Russell Crowe was in an uncommonly good mood during the press day for this week's new release, 'Robin Hood'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Watch: Russell Crowe talks about 'Robin Hood' and cracks himself up

To be fair, he makes the interviewer laugh, too

Russell Crowe is one of those names that's on "the list."

That's the list of all the people who are supposed to be tough interviews, and when I look at that list, I get nervous.  I've sat across from some of those names, and they have lived up to their reputations.  I've shot interviews that I couldn't use, and I've had encounters I refused to write up simply because I thought they cast the subject of the interview in such a negative light.

Thankfully, Russell Crowe wasn't what I expected at all.

It helps that I kept running into him all day long leading up to the interview, and he was in a loose, approachable mood.  He was making jokes and chatting with people.  It wasn't what I expected from him at all, and so by the time I walked in and sat down, I was comfortable just talking to him.  We spoke off-camera for a moment about what may still be one of my favorite performances of his, "Romper Stomper," and then jumped right in.

What really makes this one a keeper is the last story he tells about Alan Doyle, the musician who Crowe suggested for the part of Allan A'Dayle, one of the Merry Men.  When you see how much Crowe lights up while telling stories about Doyle, you get a sense of the guy his collaborators talk about, but who we rarely get a chance to see in interviews.

Check it out and you'll see what I mean:

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<p>Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in 'The Adjustment Bureau,' a film based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, and the first trailer is available now.</p>

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in 'The Adjustment Bureau,' a film based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, and the first trailer is available now.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Watch: Matt Damon and Emily Blunt on the run in 'The Adjustment Bureau' trailer

Latest PK Dick adaptation looks appropriately trippy

The appeal of Philip K. Dick to filmmakers is easy to understand.  He wrote great high-concept stories, and often, the hook of a story would be so mind-blowing that execution almost didn't matter. 

The thing is that many of the stories that Hollywood has purchased, they've also ruined. 

The real problem in adapting his work seems to be finding a way to take these great ideas and render them as fleshed-out dramatic stories that play on more than just a "wow, great idea" level, and that seems to be particularly difficult for many of the filmmakers who have taken their shot at the great SF writer over the years.  That can be especially problematic when adapting a short story, since often, those are about a moment or an idea more than they're about characters or overall story.

"The Adjustment Bureau" marks the directorial debut of George Nolfi, who worked on the last few "Bourne" movies with Matt Damon.  It should be no surprise, then, to see Damon as the lead here. Nolfi also recruited the lovely and charming Emily Blunt, who seems lovelier than normal here.  SF, like horror, can be more direct in dealing with the human condition than conventional drama, and you can go for the grand gesture in some fascinating ways.  "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" told a story that anyone trying to get over a break-up would understand, but the SF premise of the film allows for a deeper look at the way memory has a hold of us, and the way we deal with our sorrows.  Here, the premise appears to be a way to deal with the undexpected curve balls that life throws at us while we're planning our lives.

Yahoo! Movies was able to premiere the trailer today, and here's your first look:

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<p>Vanessa Redgrave and Amanda Seyfried both bring their rather prodigious charms to the new film 'Letters To Juliet'</p>

Vanessa Redgrave and Amanda Seyfried both bring their rather prodigious charms to the new film 'Letters To Juliet'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

The M/C Review: 'Letters To Juliet' charms with low-key ease

Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave equally appealing in gentle love story

If you'd told me at the start of the year that I would only like one of the two major releases this weekend, either "Robin Hood" or "Letters To Juliet," I would not have been surprised.  But if you'd told me that the film made by Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe would be the one I found to be an intolerable collection of cliches and poor script decisions, I would never have believed you.

Gary Winick has demonstrated some ability with this sort of material.  "Tadpole" was an interesting small-scale film, and "13 Going On 30" was a shameless riff on "Big" that worked because Jennifer Garner made it work.  Winick also has "Bride Wars" to answer for, though, so he's certainly not without his sins to answer for.  This sort of breezy romantic film seems like one of the easiest things in the world to pull off, and certainly there are dozens of them a year.  Most of them are terrible, though, dependent on truly stupid and unlikeable characters, focused on the idea that women are incomplete without a man, incapable of anything that doesn't involve "romance."  I find it amazing that women actually watch "chick flicks," because so many of them seem to genuinely hate women and treat them like thin-skulled creeps.

"Letters To Juliet," which takes its basic inspiration from a true story, is a gentle, charming story that features a winning lead performance from Amanda Seyfried, who is finally starting to carry films on her own, and who proves here that she's absolutely capable of doing so.  She plays Sophie, a fact checker for The New Yorker, a girl on the verge of marriage to Victor (Gael García Bernal), and from the very start of the film, they allow her play a credible mix of strength and insecurity that has more to do with her age and experience than it does with her gender. She and Victor have a pre-honeymoon trip planned to Verona, although they have very different ideas about what they're going to be going to be doing once they get there.

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<p>Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett do their best to enliven the pointless and deadly-dull new 'Robin Hood,' from director Ridley Scott.</p>

Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett do their best to enliven the pointless and deadly-dull new 'Robin Hood,' from director Ridley Scott.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The M/C Review: 'Robin Hood' is another empty, unwanted prequel

Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott come up empty in this bone-headed origin story

"Robin Hood" is not a badly-made film.

"Robin Hood" is not an unwatchable movie.

"Robin Hood" is not a painful experience in a theater.

But having said that, I'm not sure "Robin Hood" is a movie anyone needs to see, or that anyone would have any reason to anticipate.  It's a near-perfect example of what I've been saying recently about remakes and sequels and reboots and prequels.  It is a fascinating miscalculation by smart and talented people, and it's the sort of film that must be frustrating to make, because there's no one way to fix it once things go as wrong as they go here.

I love "Gladiator."  Unreservedly.  I still think it's one of the best and most audience-minded movies Ridley Scott ever made.  I think it's incredibly good at what it does.  There's a tone, a style, a dramatic energy that the film gets just right.  Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott are equally responsible for that film's success, and there's no way to overstate the importance of Joaquin Phoenix's performance as a very, very bad bad guy.

The thing that "Gladiator" gets right that "Robin Hood" misses completely is a sense of fun.  Yes, there's a sense of tension and urgency, and the stakes in "Gladiator" are certainly personal and sad, but there's a sense of fun to the mayhem, a thrill.  I think Scott has a tin ear for "fun" a lot of the time.  He does somber well.  He does moody well.  He does atmospheric as well as anyone.  "A Good Year," his comedy with Russell Crowe in the lead, is a good example of what happens when Ridley Scott does "funny."  Maybe the lumps he took on that one explain the swing towards pure dour, which is what "Robin Hood" is, and it's a shame.

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<p>Jane Goldman made international news with her dress at the &quot;Kick-Ass&quot;&nbsp;premiere, but it's her work on a word processor that makes her Matthew Vaughn's secret weapon.</p>

Jane Goldman made international news with her dress at the "Kick-Ass" premiere, but it's her work on a word processor that makes her Matthew Vaughn's secret weapon.

Credit: Rex Features

Jane Goldman re-writing 'X-Men: First Class'

Definitely a good sign regarding the film's potential

The first hint that this might be happening came, as so many hints do these days, from Twitter.

Jonathan Ross, or @wossy, is the outspoken English TV host and comic book/movie supergeek who happens to be married to the charming and wicked-smart Jane Goldman.  She was Matthew Vaughn's co-writer on both "Kick-Ass" and "Stardust," and based on my time watching the two of them together on-set, I'd say that she's a key collaborative part of Matthew Vaughn's process.  The script that the two of them wrote for "The Debt," a Helen Mirren film that is still looking for a release date, is probably the strongest thing they've written together yet, and a clear indication that they're capable of far more than just post-modern comic book riffing.

About the same time that Matthew Vaughn was confirmed by Fox as the director of "X-Men: First Class," Ross posted something about how his wife's new job would keep her busy for the next ten weeks.

Hmmmm...

I tried to verify the news through the regular channels, but before I could even get a response, Ross did it himself.  Today, he posted that his wife is away from home working on "X-Men 4."  Okay, then.  Unless we hear that they've broken the team up so Goldman can write a future X-Men film with Matthew's working on "First Class," I'm going to take this as confirmation that Vaughn is indeed customizing this movie as he works to get it ready for a mid-summer production start.

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<p>Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, and Alan Doye appear both in 'Robin Hood' as Russell Crowe's Merry Men and on this week's Motion/Captured Podcast.</p>

Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, and Alan Doye appear both in 'Robin Hood' as Russell Crowe's Merry Men and on this week's Motion/Captured Podcast.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Listen: The Motion/Captured Podcast #5

Special guest Matthew Robinson discusses 'Iron Man 2,' 'Robin Hood,' 'The Puffy Chair,' and more

I am a firm believer in a learning curve.

Little by little, I feel like I'm getting a better idea of what I want out of this podcast, and I'm having fun with the process.  Matthew Robinson, who co-wrote and co-directed "The Invention Of Lying," is our guest this week, and based on the conversations I had with him when I visited him on the set of that film, I had a feeling Matthew would be a really good fit for the sort of conversations we've been having on the podcast so far.

Turns out, I was right.

To celebrate Matthew stopping by, we have two copies of his film to give away, one on Blu-ray and one on DVD.  If you'd like to win one of those copies, then post the most outrageous lie you've ever gotten away with in our comments section.  Points will be awarded for style and chutzpah.

In the meantime, please know that we are working to get the iTunes account set up.  There's a few tech concerns to deal with on our end, and we've been working our tech guys overtime to get the site ready for the arrival of Alan Sepinwall.  We're finally able to focus on some of these other things that have stacked up in the meantime, and as soon as possible, we'll have the podcast available for you in other ways.

For now, you can download the MP3 here, or play it via our embedded player.

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