<p>Chloe Grace Moretz arrives as a fully-formed movie star by the end of her first scene as Hit Girl in 'Kick-Ass,' due in theaters in April&nbsp;</p>

Chloe Grace Moretz arrives as a fully-formed movie star by the end of her first scene as Hit Girl in 'Kick-Ass,' due in theaters in April 

Credit: Lionsgate/MARV

The M/C Review: 'Kick-Ass' really, really does

Matthew Vaughn's giddy ballet of hyperviolence sends the BNAT audience reeling

I've been lucky enough to attend all eleven Butt-Numb-A-Thon festivals in Austin, TX.  For the first ten of them, I was a contributing editor of Ain't It Cool News, the website founded by Harry Knowles, and BNAT is a combination birthday party for Harry and movie-nerd freakout that runs 24 hours straight, one film after another, a mix of vintage and premieres.

I'll be bringing you a number of reviews over the next couple of days from BNAT, although if you want, you can already read my reviews of "The Lovely Bones," Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs," or James Cameron's "Avatar," all of which played this year.

First up, though, let's talk about this year's big winner at BNAT, and the way the screening turned from a very good screening of a very good film into the stuff of legend.  This was one of those happy accidents that I find make an event into something more than just a screening, and it's one of the things Harry has built the legend of BNAT on over the years.

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<p>Russell Crowe stars as the famous outlaw Robin Hood this summer for director Ridley Scott in 'Robin Hood'&nbsp;</p>

Russell Crowe stars as the famous outlaw Robin Hood this summer for director Ridley Scott in 'Robin Hood' 

Credit: Universal

Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe reteam in new 'Robin Hood' trailer

Apple has the HD premiere today

I know that we're all supposed to harumph and say we hate "Gladiator" these days, at least based on the way the fanboy nation reacts every time it's mentioned, but forget that.  I loved "Gladiator" when it came out and I still think it's one of the most acutely entertaining moments of Ridley Scott's career.

I'm also on record as being a huge fan of the director's cut of "Kingdom Of Heaven," a film that was mistreated to a disturbing extent during its theatrical run.  Fox shot themselves in the foot on that one, because the shortre theatrical cut deserved to fail... it made no sense.  The longer version, though, is powerful and impressive, and almost overwhelming during the battle scenes.

Now it's back to the well for Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, who could probably stand to have a box-office hit, and I'll admit... I'm having a hard time working up much enthusiasm for yet another rendition of "Robin Hood."  Then again, it's all about how the story is told, and I'll admit... there are two things that have me immediately interested:  Cate Blanchett and Mark Strong.  Both of them are exciting each and every time they work, and Strong in particular is on a roll right now.

So if you're curious, check it out at Apple.com, where the trailer made its official debut today, and where you can see it in HD.  "Robin Hood" arrives in theaters May 14, 2010.

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<p>Nicolas Cage was almost Superman, and he definitely played Ghost Rider, but you'll forget both of them once you meet Big Daddy&nbsp;</p>

Nicolas Cage was almost Superman, and he definitely played Ghost Rider, but you'll forget both of them once you meet Big Daddy 

Credit: Lionsgate/MARV

New 'Kick-Ass' clip and poster introduce Nic Cage as Big Daddy

The buzz builds as a new image arrives

I'm going to be publishing my thoughts on "Kick-Ass" verrrrrrrrrry soon, but I don't want to rush it.

Suffice to say, Matthew Vaughn conquered that Austin audience this weekend, and I'm thrilled with the way the film cut together.  When you visit a set, you're looking at parts.  Pieces.  Potential.  But until a film is done, almost anything could happen.  I've seen films that were moderately impressive on set come together in a way that is almost confusingly great, and I've seen the exact opposite.  With "Kick Ass," I hoped it was going to work from the moment I read the script, and in every one of the set reports I wrote after visiting last year, I was optimistic.  I've been playing cheerleader ever since, and now, I'm thrilled to see that whatever I thought it was going to be, it's better.

Today, UGO got hold of the new "Big Daddy" character poster and a great new clip.

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<p>Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal chat late into the night in 'Crazy Heart,' which opens in limited release on Wednesday&nbsp;</p>

Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal chat late into the night in 'Crazy Heart,' which opens in limited release on Wednesday 

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Watch: Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, and Maggie Gyllenhaal discuss 'Crazy Heart'

Drew McWeeny interviews the three stars of this underdog winner

One of the nicest things about the way "Crazy Heart" has just sort of blown in out of nowhere at the end of this year is how rare it is these days to discover a film without any hype attached, particularly one starring people like Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Scott Cooper's film was originally going to get its first public exposure at next month's Sundance Film Festival, but Fox Searchlight made a very last minute decision to put the film out this year instead.  As a result, when I sat down to see it, I hadn't seen a trailer or a still or read anything at all.  I just saw it cold.

My reaction to the film led me to enthusiastically ask the film's publicists if I could talk to the cast at the TV day, and they were kind enough to offer all three, one at a time.  I will admit I had an ulterior motive here, but I'll explain that a little later.

First up, I sat down with Maggie Gyllenhaal, who I met at Sundance in 2001, when she was in town for "Donnie Darko."  She and her brother Jake were at the "Darko" after-party, held at a "cabin" which was actually a four story house packed full of hundreds of people by the time the night was finished.  Even amidst all that madness, I had a chance to spend some real time with both of them that night, and Maggie struck me as a young woman who was already at home in that particular world, thanks to the influence of her talented parents, Stephen Gyllenhaal and Naomi Foner.  She was just out of college, and she seemed determined to do work that mattered to her, outside the Hollywood game as much as possible.  In the years since then, she's done a lot of interesting work, and I think she's one of the most eccentric actresses working right now, in a good way.  She makes very unusual choices, and frequently.  Yeah, she's in "The Dark Knight," but she's doing a lot more like "Secretary" in the meantime.  Here, I think she does very natural work, and I wanted to talk to her about how she and Bridges found their rhythm together:

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<p>&nbsp;'Avatar'</p>

 'Avatar'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The M/C Review: Cameron's 'Avatar' delivers, transports, delights

James Cameron's the king of a whole new world now

In many ways, my anticipation for James Cameron's "Avatar" started in 1977, when I emerged from the darkness after my first viewing of the original "Star Wars."

I was seven years old, and my brain had just been rewired by what I saw on that screen.  I didn't know how George Lucas discovered those alien planets and managed to get movie cameras to visit them, but I knew for a fact that I had left Earth and visited new places, met real aliens, and had a fantastic adventure.  And the experience transformed me immediately into a cinema junkie in general, but specifically, it awakened a deeply-seeded love in me for the idea of world-building on film.

In the 32 years since then, I've read a lot of science-fiction and fantasy, both high-minded and pulp, and I've seen pretty much everything in those genres on film.  I've watched the gradual refinement and evolution of special effects on film, and I've watched many filmmakers, including George Lucas, try to nail the same sort of giddy feeling of travel to a new world, and I've seen most of them fall short.

Yesterday morning, I got a hit of the real stuff for the first time in a long time. 

I haven't seen as persuasive and passionate a trip into a fantasy world since Peter Jackson's triumphant "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, with the most significant difference being that James Cameron is offering us a personal vision of a brand-new place, and in doing so, he's absolutely given birth to a brand new world, one in which he is the undisputed king.

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<p>Josh Brolin stars as the mysterious Jonah Hex in 'Jonah Hex,' the big-budget Western due out from Warner Bros in 2010.&nbsp;</p>

Josh Brolin stars as the mysterious Jonah Hex in 'Jonah Hex,' the big-budget Western due out from Warner Bros in 2010. 

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Morning Read: Josh Brolin's in 'Men In Black 3' and reshooting 'Jonah Hex'?

Plus I step in 'Jersey Shore' and enter the debate over Script Shadow

Welcome to The Morning Read.

I think it's official.  2009 has just plain kicked my ass.

I've never been sick as many times in a year as I have been this year.  I've never slept less hours in a year than I did this year.  I've never worked as much in a year as I have this year.  I perpetually feel like I'm being chased by a bear.  My comprehensive physical last week is the first one in the last decade that I outright failed, with my doctor just writing "NO" on my chart and circling it in red.  I find that most days pass in a blur of exhaustion, where I feel like I'm moving backwards underwater at all times.

Other than that, I'm fine.  And you?

I will say that almost 11 hours sleep over the last 24 hours has gone a long way towards me feeling human for the moment.  I need to take care of myself this week... I can tell I'm on the tipping point of a major bronchial incident of some sort, and with BNAT this weekend, I really can't take being sick.  Throw in a quick trip to Vancouver for a set visit, and I'm daring my body to collapse.  Let's see how much we can get to this morning before I have to bail for the airport.

Speaking of set visits, when I saw the news on Shock Till You Drop this morning that "Jonah Hex" is gearing up for some additional photography, it flashed me back to that humid, gnarly swamp where a group of us visited Josh Brolin at work on the film earlier this year in New Orleans.  I think there's some real potential there, and I'm curious to see what happens with the film this year.  Westerns are always a hard sell these days, but I think they're up to something cool.  It's obvious people are getting crazy for Josh Brolin, with the rumor today being that he may end up in "Men In Black 3" in some capacity.

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<p>Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon co-star in 'Invictus,' the new film from Clint Eastwood&nbsp;</p>

Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon co-star in 'Invictus,' the new film from Clint Eastwood 

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch: Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman discuss 'Invictus'

Talking with two of Hollywood's best about their process

I've never had reason to sit down with Matt Damon before this year, and now we've done interviews twice in four months.

And as a special added bonus, this time he brought Morgan Freeman with him.

This was part of last Friday's running around that culminated in my evening with Peter Jackson that I wrote about yesterday.  This TV spot was typically brief, and I was the very last person in the room that day, so I expected the two of them would be worn out.  Instead, I was impressed by how they treated me with the same courtesy and gave me the same energy as if I was the first person of the day.

We had time to talk about the process of playing such recognizable media figures, and how they prepared for the roles, and that's about it, but when you're talking with these two guys?  It's enough.

If you want to watch a larger version, you can see it on its own page.  If you'd like to read my review of the film, you can do that as well.

"Invictus" opens this Friday.

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<p>So what do you think... should Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner be worried?&nbsp;</p>

So what do you think... should Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner be worried? 

Credit: SPHE

Will the 'Romancing The Stone' remake reunite the 'Ugly Truth' team?

And if so, why hasn't that news caused riots in the streets?

We have reached a tipping points for passivity, and it is the fault of each and every one of us that has allowed Hollywood to gradually move the line until reaching the point where there's nothing you can say about any of these films, because it's just business as usual.

I ran a column on Ain't It Cool called "Remake This!", and when I started it, I thought it was a mildly distracting trend that would run its course quickly.  But that hasn't happened... not at all.  Instead, it seems like it's ramped up over the last few years, and now it's just crazy.

Case in point:  "Romancing The Stone."  When that film came out, it was a last chance for Robert Zemeckis, who had been mentored into the business by Steven Spielberg.  He and his writing partner Bob Gale wrote "1941," which was a much-loved script but then became the first overt flop of Spielberg's career, which led many people to point at the writers as the problem.  Not Spielberg, though.  He believed in them, and he was involved in both "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "Used Cars," both of which went belly-up at the box-office.  I like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," but I'm damn near rabid about "Used Cars," which is brilliant.  Zemeckis floundered for a few years before getting handed a script by Diane Thomas that easily could have just been turned into a crappy Indiana Jones ripoff.  But Thomas was a better writer than that, and Zemeckis recognized something special in her work, so he took his shot, and the result was one of those perfect collisions of commercial appeal and genuine skill on the parts of all involved.  That script is one of the greats of the '80s, a sly poke at the notion of romance novels and the men they create, the women that read (and write) them, and the self-interest of treasure hunters.  It's packed with great characters, witty dialogue, and high adventure.

And so of course, they're remaking it now with Robert Luketic, director of "Legally Blonde" and "The Ugly Truth," stepping in to direct.

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<p>Anne Hathaway is rumored to be playing the Black Cat in &quot;Spider-Man 4.&quot;</p>

Anne Hathaway is rumored to be playing the Black Cat in "Spider-Man 4."

Credit: AP Photo

Are John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway the villains in 'Spider-Man 4'?

And if so, who are they playing?

I don't know what to think about this latest "Spider-Man 4" rumor from Movieline.

John Malkovich as The Vulture?  I can get behind that.  He's physically right for the part, and he's at the age where he suggests the way the character was written, but he's still got the right stamina to actually play the part.  And certainly he's a great actor, and a great villain if the material is right.  And, let's not forget, he was one of the actors considered for The Green Goblin for the original "Spider-Man," and was evidently a real possibility at one point before the role eventually went to Willem Dafoe.

We've mentioned the hunt for Felicia Hardy here on the site before, but if this Movieline article is accurate, the character isn't going to be the character we think she is.   And this is by far the strangest decision they've made yet on this series, and that's saying something after the dance number in "Spider-Man 3."

Felicia Hardy in the comics is a character named The Black Cat.  She's basically Catwoman for the Marvel Universe, a thief of some moral complexity who sometimes romances Spider-Man and sometimes fights him. Hot girl.  Tight costume.  Pretty simple stuff.  And Anne Hathaway, who is alleged to be getting closer and closer to signing for the role, would certainly fill out the spandex well.  She's engaging, she's funny, she's gorgeous and she's physically substantial, so I could actually buy her in the action scenes.

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<p>Even though Bela Lugosi's Dracula has remained iconic for over 70 years, filmmakers keep trying to redefine him on the bigscreen, and it looks like Summit's 'Vlad' will be the latest attempt&nbsp;</p>

Even though Bela Lugosi's Dracula has remained iconic for over 70 years, filmmakers keep trying to redefine him on the bigscreen, and it looks like Summit's 'Vlad' will be the latest attempt 

Credit: Universal Home Video

Summit cheats on 'Twilight' with the world's most famous vampire

Is there room for two bloodsuckers at the studio?

Jeeez, Summit.  If you love vampires so much, why don't you marry them?

Oh, wait, I think you probably are in one of the next few "Twilight" movies.  Just goes to show you, no one has more riding on the continuing relevance of vampires as cultural icons than Summit Entertainment.  The second installment of the "Twilight" series was released last month, and since then, "New Moon" has earned 275 grazillion dollars.  Roughly.

Now they're trying to do the one thing that "Twilight" would never be accused of doing:  they want to scare you. And it looks like actor Charlie Hunnam, best known for "Sons Of Anarchy" and "Undeclared," is the writer of the film.  It surprises me, not because I have any idea whether Hunnam can write or not, but because I didn't realize he was even interested.

How do you make vampires scary again?  Fair question right now, when their popularity has very little to do with them as icons of fear and everything to do with the way they serve as sexual metaphor.  And even worse, how do you make Dracula scary?  Or even interesting?  What remains unsaid when talking about the character or the historical inspiration, Vlad Tepes?  It seems that Hunnam is interested in a younger, earlier incarnation of the character, which explains his title:  "Vlad."

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