<p>This is exactly what your mother warned you would happen if you didn't stop in a painful moment from Universal's 'The Wolfman,' in theaters February 12.</p>

This is exactly what your mother warned you would happen if you didn't stop in a painful moment from Universal's 'The Wolfman,' in theaters February 12.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The best preview yet of Benecio Del Toro and Emily Blunt in 'The Wolfman'

Check out Benecio, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, and plenty of fur and fangs

The more I've seen of the film, the more I'm crossing my fingers (even the disturbingly broken ones) that Universal has pulled off a stylish and freaky remake of "The Wolfman."  Benecio Del Toro approached this as a passion project, and I love that it's a no-joke Monster Kid wearing Rick Baker's make-up in this one.  I still wish I could have seen what Mark Romanek would have done with the material, but considering when Joe Johnston stepped into the process, this sort of is Romanek's film.  He made a lot of the big choices that will influence what you see onscreen a week from Friday.

Toshi's become a big fan of the original Universal "The Wolfman" in the last few months.  It started when his godfather gave him a series of monster books, each one highlighting a different classic monster.  He's had me reading them to him at bedtime almost non-stop, and he's particularly drawn to the plight of "Lorren Tablet," as played by Lon Chaney Jr.  I get it.  There's something heartbreaking about a monster who doesn't want to be a monster, and if this new film gets that part of it right, that'll go a long way towards making the film work.  Lawrence Talbot always resonated for me as a kid, and it's interesting to see that my little budding film nerd feels the same way.  It'll be a looooooong time before he ever lays eyes on this new film, of course, since it's an R-rated take on the material, but for now, he's happy to watch the final fight from "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman" over and over, cheering as he does so.

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<p>Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin all star in the horror/comedy 'Zombieland,' available today on BluRay and&nbsp;DVD.</p>

Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin all star in the horror/comedy 'Zombieland,' available today on BluRay and DVD.

Credit: SPHE

DVD & Games Forecast: 'House Of The Devil' goes VHS and pan-and-scan and we love it

Plus 'Star Trek Online' sends Trekkies into orbit

Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast.

It's not a terrible week for releases, but as I'm looking at the weeks ahead, it seems to me like the industry is just going through the motions.  I'm a film nerd, so I absolutely will find something to be excited about every week, but for the general public, there are fewer and fewer must-have titles, fewer and fewer great surprise catalog releases.  It just seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy, like the industry has decided that VOD is going to take over, so they're doing everything they can at this point to make that come true.

Blech.  I love my physical media, and I don't want an all-VOD future.  Let's see what's going on this week that will keep me feeling like someone somewhere cares:

THIS WEEK'S FEATURED TITLES:

"The Music Man" (BluRay)

That's right... the beloved Robert Preston vehicle finally hits BluRay, and that starts with "B" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for "pool."  I watched this Sunday night with both of my boys, and they loved it.  The music delights, number after number, the comedy still plays loud and clear, and the new transfer by Warner Home Video is probably the best we could ask of the film.  There are places where the grain inherent to the print is a little overwhelming, but for the most part, the colors pop and the image shimmers.  This is one of those feel-good movies that you can never overplay, and that was built to last, and this new edition only underlines just how true that is.

"Zombieland" (BluRay/DVD)

quite liked Ruben Fleischer's debut feature, and the BluRay looks sensational. What's interesting about rewatching the film is that you can clearly see how it was structured originally as the kick-off of a TV series, several episodes from a larger arc smooshed into a theatrical feature instead.  The film's got clever to spare, whether in the way it establishes the rules at the beginning or in the case of the Big Movie Star Cameo sequence, and Fleischer has an excellent eye.  I think one of the reasons the film ended up being so much fun is because it didn't use the idea of zombies to push a larger metaphor, which is typically how the genre ends up playing out.  Not that I dislike zombies as a metaphor, but it's just occasionally nice to see a film cut loose and have fun.  It helps that the cast is all on their game, and that the film plays more to the comedy side of the horror/comedy equation.  "Zombieland" may not be an all-time genre classic, but sometimes "just plain fun" is exactly what you're looking for.

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<p>The cast of 'Lost,' including many figures thought to be long gone, gather for one in a series of mysterious 'Lost Supper' parodies that are leading up to the final season of the remarkable series.</p>

The cast of 'Lost,' including many figures thought to be long gone, gather for one in a series of mysterious 'Lost Supper' parodies that are leading up to the final season of the remarkable series.

Credit: ABC/Touchstone

Sixteen episodes to go, and I'm feeling more 'Lost' than ever

A look back at the series and some thoughts on the final season ahead

Tomorrow night is a huge one in pop culture for me.  The first part of the evening, I'll be at "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" at the Nokia Live in downtown LA.  I'm taking my wife and Toshi, and based on everything we've been hearing from people who have already gone to see the show, it should be a hell of a night.

And as soon as it's over, we'll be speeding back to Northridge, with AICN's Quint and Kraken in tow, so we can watch the two-hour season premiere of "Lost."  I'll be recapping the final season of the show, just as I did last year, and the only reason I haven't been babbling about it for the last few weeks is because I've been distracted by Sundance and other work that's been piled up.  Good thing, too, because when I think about tomorrow night, I get unreasonably excited.

Here's the thing... I don't expect that every single question raised by the series over the past five seasons will be answered this year.  We've got sixteen episodes to go.  They're going to have to cover some serious ground just to cover the big things, and I'm fine with that.  I don't think great fictions comes with every single thing tied up and gift-wrapped.  I remember when I was interviewing Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott a few years ago, and we were discussing the construction of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" franchise.  Say what you will about those scripts, but one of the things we discussed really rang true for me.  They talked about the theory of "distant mountains" when you're building a series, the idea that you should always leave yourself more room in your world than you explore.  It leaves room for the viewer to insert themselves into the world, giving them things they can "solve" for themselves.  As long as the creators of "Lost" don't give you every single little detail set in concrete, there's still room for interpretation and conversation, and that's just plain smart storytelling.

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<p>What do you think is happening in this new image from the upcoming horror film 'The Crazies'?&nbsp; Read today's Morning Read to find out.</p>

What do you think is happening in this new image from the upcoming horror film 'The Crazies'?  Read today's Morning Read to find out.

Credit: Overture Films

TMR: Three new exclusive stills from 'The Crazies'

Plus possible first looks at 'Thor,' 'Green Lantern,' and 'Captain America' on film

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Any time I take a break from The Morning Read, jumping back into it feels intimidating until I actually do it.  These are probably the most labor-intensive columns I put together for the site.  It probably doesn't help that I had weekend plans with Rip Torn that got a little complicated, and I haven't heard back from him.  I guess I need the distraction, so let's jump right in.

Mike Fleming was the first to reveal the existence of Shane Salerno's mysterious documentary about J.D. Salinger, a passion project that's been underway for years now, and I'm curious to see if the rumored missing five minutes actually turn out to be an appearance by the author, or if this is going to be another hype moment like Morgan Spurlock's ultimately empty Osama documentary.

And speaking of documentaries, Karen Schmeer's work as an editor was tremendous, and her reputation among filmmakers was amazing.  This weekend, Errol Morris broke the shocking news that she had been killed by a car that was speeding away from a robbery.  That's the sort of death that will never make sense to anyone who knew her, and all they can ever hope to do is remember her work and her spirit, much like Shawn Levy did in his moving tribute to her.

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<p>The four Marx Brothers at their very best in the 1933 classic 'Duck Soup,' the first film under discussion in our new column, 'The Basics'</p>

The four Marx Brothers at their very best in the 1933 classic 'Duck Soup,' the first film under discussion in our new column, 'The Basics'

Credit: Universal Home Video

The Basics: A re-introduction to a new column

In which we welcome Will Goss from Cinematical to the fold

Okay, so that didn't exactly go as planned.

Waaaaaaay back on May 8th of last year, I wrote a piece called "The Basics:  My Favorite Film, or Where The Conversation Begins."  It was meant to be a spin-off from my ongoing series, "The Motion/Captured Must-See Project," and it began because of some criticisms that were leveled against another online writer.  Here's what I wrote about the reasoning behind the column:

"... one of the reasons I have spent the last 14 years writing about movies online is because I think those of us who have this voracious appetite for movies, who have gone out of our way to mainline thousands and thousands of films, good and bad, big and small, mainstream and obscure... it's our obligation to pass on to others why we do that, what makes those films worth that sort of investment of time and energy, and to steer people to the things that we think are most essential. In a world where you have as many options as we do now for entertainment, where you can constantly swim in the new without ever looking backwards, it seems to me more essential than ever to communicate our enthusiasm for the greats, the films that we hold dear.

So I called Alex [Billington]. And instead of just lambasting him about what he hasn't seen, I suggested a different approach to this, one that acknowledges that there are probably far more people out there whose relationship to movies is like his than like mine. Or Devin's. Or Harry's. One of the reasons I've had this long friendship with some of these other film writers is because they speak the same language I do. They have the same vocabulary. If I reference a movie, they'll understand it, and they understand why I draw a comparison. And so if we're going to treat this... all of it... like a conversation, then we have to acknowledge that if we want people to take part in that conversation, we have to invite them in, not attack them for something they haven't experienced yet."

At that point, my idea was that I would reach out to Alex and suggest one film at a time to him that he hadn't seen, writing a column to explain why I felt like that film was essential, and then he would write a response column on his own site in which he could talk about his reaction to the movie.  To start, I suggested he go see a 70MM screening of my favorite film, "Lawrence Of Arabia," and he agreed.

That was the last I ever heard from him about it.

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<p>Katie Aselton stars with Dax Shephard in 'The Freebie,' which she also directed and which screens as part of this year's Sundance Film Festival.</p>

Katie Aselton stars with Dax Shephard in 'The Freebie,' which she also directed and which screens as part of this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2010: 'The Freebie'

Katie Aselton's knowing film tells hard truths about fidelity and love

Marriage is hard work, and for anyone in the trenches, this year's Sundance was a rough ride.

"The Freebie" is ostensibly a comedy, but it's a comedy that plays rough.  Katie Aselton, who wrote, directed, and stars in the film, offers up a a tough look at the way couples can find themselves stalled out in their emotional connection, and what they'll do to try to reforge those connections.  In this case, Darren (Dax Shepard) and Annie (Aselton) have been married for several years, and they have a relationship that looks perfect from the outside.  They spend all their free time together, they laugh, they share crosswords in bed, and they seem genuinely happy.  But their sex life has grown stagnant, to the point that they can't remember the last time they were together, and as they confront that idea, they try to figure out the best way to kickstart things.

What begins as a theoretical conversation quickly becomes an agreement:  for one night, they'll call a time out, and each of them is allowed to pick one person to have sex with.  No questions asked.  No strings attached.  No recriminations.  Their thinking is that the vacation from fidelity will rekindle the passion between the two of them, and after setting some ground rules, they kick things off.  The film then jumps in time to after the night off, and leaves the question hanging:  who did what, and how is it going to affect them in the long run? 

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<p>The corner that is the center of a debate over abortion in the new documentary '12th &amp;&nbsp;Delaware,' part of this year's Sundance Film Festival.</p>

The corner that is the center of a debate over abortion in the new documentary '12th & Delaware,' part of this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Credit: Sundance Film Festival

Sundance 2010: '12th & Delaware'

The directors of 'Jesus Camp' return with a look at the abortion debate

We live in a country where genuine debate seems to be dead, and has instead been replaced by polemic, polar opposites that scream at each other.  Most documentaries these days are produced to advance an agenda by one side or another, and as a result, sitting in a theater frequently feels just like watching this biased news channel or that one.  Not that I think bias is necessarily a bad thing, or even something that can be avoided, as long as it's open and not disguised.  A film like "Outrage," for example, is profoundly biased, but it still makes its points in a clear-eyed, well-argued way.

What's truly difficult is to make a film about something as hot-button divisive as abortion and still somehow give both sides of the debate equal time and equal weight.  Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, the filmmakers behind the terrifying "Jesus Camp," found the perfect way into the conversation in their new film "12th & Delaware."  Even the title of the film serves as a microcosm, since I'd imagine there are thousands of 12th and Delawares in America.  In this case, Ewing and Grady went to Fort Pierce, Florida, where they found a remarkable situation that sums up exactly where we are with this dialogue right now.  Their approach to the film was to give both sides of the situation half the film to present the case with no editorializing at all, and in doing so, I think they've made a powerful film that is infuriating and heartbreaking.

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<p>Director Martin Campbell, pictured here on the set of 'Casino Royale,' returns to theaters this weekend with the new Mel Gibon film 'Edge Of Darkness'</p>

Director Martin Campbell, pictured here on the set of 'Casino Royale,' returns to theaters this weekend with the new Mel Gibon film 'Edge Of Darkness'

Credit: EON Productions

The M/C Interview: Martin Campbell discusses 'Edge Of Darkness'

A short chat with the man who's kickstarted James Bond... twice.

My sit-down conversation with Martin Campbell didn't take place under the best of circumstances, through no one's fault.  It was just one of those things.  It was the press day at the Casa Del Mar, and things ended up running super-late.  My interview was supposed to be at 12:05, and at 2:00, I was finally ushered into the room where Campbell was sitting, visibly agitated that his lunch was being delayed by yet another reporter. Even worse, I knew that Devin Faraci from CHUD was waiting to talk to him after me, meaning his lunch was even further away than he thought.

It's hard enough to have a real conversation in these circumstances, but when things get this sort of tight, what you get is pretty much a quick set of cursory responses.  I credit Campbell for attempting to dampen his own irritation with the situation, and I hope we were able to touch on some points that are of interest.  You be the judge:

Martin: How are you?

Drew: Very good, sir.  So... my 4-year-old is now a fan of your work.

Martin:  Oh, good.

Drew:  They sent us the Disney "Zorro" to watch first...

Martin:  Oh, have they?

Drew:  ... and then when the BluRay for your first Zorro film showed up, he insisted and it became like a big event this week in the house.

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<p>Paul Bettany reaches for profundity but falls short in the oddball misfire 'Creation,' one of two movies opening today dealing with fathers crippled by grief over their dead daughters.</p>

Paul Bettany reaches for profundity but falls short in the oddball misfire 'Creation,' one of two movies opening today dealing with fathers crippled by grief over their dead daughters.

Credit: Newmarket Films

The M/C Review: 'Creation' and 'Edge Of Darkness'

Two fathers, two dead daughters, and a whole lotta grief

I put off writing these because, frankly, I don't have a lot to say about either of the films.  I wouldn't call either of them a bad film, but I don't think they deliver any real satisfaction.  They fall into that middle ground that seems to frustrate film critics the most, the amiably mediocre, and because there's little room for hyperbole when writing about a middling effort, most film critics feel handcuffed in these instances.

"Creation" is the story of Charles Darwin in the years after he'd done his research but before he published "Origin Of The Species," and it is earnestly acted by Paul Bettany, Toby Jones, and Jennifer Connelly, among others.  Jon Amiel is a director whose work I've liked many times in the past, but this time out, there's no pulse.  I watched the film one and a half times, afraid that maybe I was too tired the first time I saw it, but there's something overly serious and glacial about the film that just doesn't work for me.  It's a film about ideas, but it skips across the surface of those ideas, and dramatically, the film just lays there.  The major conflict in the film comes from the difference between Darwin's ideas and the religious faith of his wife.  Toby Jones plays Thomas Huxley, who pressures Darwin to publish his book because he believes it will be the final blow from science, killing religion once and for all.  Darwin and his wife are already stretched thin because of a personal tragedy, so the tension between them, escalated by his work, threatens to destroy them.  And that tragedy is what ties today's two new films together, and the way both of them handle the tragedy is oddly similar.

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<p>She ain't heavy... she's Uhura.&nbsp; Zoe Saldana prepares to deal some pain in 'The Losers,' the ensemble action film Warner Bros. will release on April 9.</p>

She ain't heavy... she's Uhura.  Zoe Saldana prepares to deal some pain in 'The Losers,' the ensemble action film Warner Bros. will release on April 9.

Credit: Warner Bros/Dark Castle

'The Losers' continues this year's push to bring '80s action movies back

The first trailer for the film highlights the cast and the things that go boom

Are you ready for the return of '80s action movies?

A few weeks ago, we got our first look at "The A-Team," which seems to be filled wall-to-wall with ideas that are right out of the '80s, and now "The Losers" premieres its first trailer over at MSN Movies, and it looks like Sylvain White is just as big a fan of that aesthetic as Joe Carnahan is.

The film was written by Peter Berg and Jamie Vanderbilt, the guy behind the new "Spider-Man" scripts, and here's the way Warner Bros. describes it in the official synopsis:

"An explosive tale of double cross and revenge, "The Losers" centers upon the members of an elite U.S. Special Forces unit sent into the Bolivian jungle on a search and destroy mission. The team--Clay, Jensen, Roque, Pooch and Cougar --find themselves the target of a lethal betrayal instigated from inside by a powerful enemy known only as Max. Presumed dead, the group makes plans to even the score when they're joined by the mysterious Aisha, a beautiful operative with her own agenda. Working together, they must remain deep undercover while tracking the heavily-guarded Max, a ruthless man bent on embroiling the world in a new high-tech global war."

The cast includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Columbus Short, Holt McCallany, Oscar Jaenada, and Jason Patric.

Interested?  Well, here's the embed from MSN Movies:

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