An open letter of thanks to JJ Abrams for keeping the 'Star Wars' mystery alive
Credit: Lucasfilm

An open letter of thanks to JJ Abrams for keeping the 'Star Wars' mystery alive

The new trailer's great, and I'm so happy I don't know much of anything so far

"Those stories about what happened…"

"It's true. All of it."

Dear JJ,

We haven't spoken much since you vanished into the world of "Star Wars." It was clear that when "Star Wars" began, your world became much more focused, and as a fan who is looking forward to Episode VII enormously, I'm perfectly fine with the idea that you're not randomly available to chat right now.

Besides, it's becoming increasingly clear that you've been busy. Last night, I was seeing a screening when the trailer came out. Or, more specifically, the trailer hit a few minutes before the screening was supposed to begin, but I was already inside the theater, sitting, and had turned my phone completely off, as I do any time I see a movie. My friend arrived and sat down behind me and told me he'd been trying to watch the trailer across the street. "I couldn't hear it, though, because evidently the guy behind us was losing his mind because somehow no one had told him there's a new 'Star Wars' film."

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Eddie Murphy told a joke onstage and the world did not end
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Eddie Murphy told a joke onstage and the world did not end

Bet Bill Cosby thought this would never happen again

One of the most controversial things I've ever published, based on the sheer volume and intensity of the mail sent to me afterwards, was my statement of belief that Eddie Murphy is, in fact, done.

I am happy to say that Eddie proved me wrong this weekend, if only for a single moment. If that happened, then anything could happen. That's good to know. I still don't believe he's ever going to get back out there in a major way. The occasion was Murphy's acceptance of the Mark Twain Prize For American Humor from the Kennedy Center, a major award at this point considering it's only been around for 18 years. That means that Eddie's been retired from comedy a full decade longer than they've been giving out this award. And to be fair, Eddie really only has two comedy albums to his name. One had a TV special that accompanied it, and there was also a full-length theatrical concert film. That's not a lot of material if we're talking about Murphy as a stand-up.

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One new picture! Two 'Alien' sequels! So much confusion!
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Neill Blomkamp

One new picture! Two 'Alien' sequels! So much confusion!

Seriously, what is going on with this franchise?

I'm really confused about all things "Alien" right now.

Ridley Scott's spent much of his time on the "Martian" press tour talking about how he's going to be making "Alien: Paradise Lost" as his next film. At the same time, Neill Blomkamp just dropped an image of a pulse rifle for his "Alien" film, which people are calling "Alien 5" when they write about it even though it's unclear how the math is going to work by the time it comes out.

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Review: Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks hit another historical home run with 'Bridge of Spies'
Credit: Disney
B+

Review: Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks hit another historical home run with 'Bridge of Spies'

The film's script helps make this a charmingly strange film for Spielberg

At some point, Tom Hanks appointed himself the official chronicler of America in the late '50s and early '60s, with occasional digressions to earlier eras in case of world wars. I am perfectly fine with that, and I particularly like it when he and Steven Spielberg collaborate on these things. I am especially fond of "Catch Me If You Can," and while I expected something more on the "Munich"/"Saving Private Ryan" end of the scale, I was pleased to see that "Spies" is not a thriller so much as an ode to both American diplomacy and the tradition of moral movie fathers along the lines of Atticus Finch.

In fact, there's a good deal of "To Kill A Mockingbird" in the script credited to Matt Charman and Joel & Ethan Coen. Tom Hanks plays James B. Donovan, an insurance lawyer who is asked to do his patriotic duty by representing an accused Russian spy, Rudolf Abel, who has been arrested. This father, this moral paragon, does his hard duty, and it is deeply unpopular with the people in his community. While it makes things difficult, he sticks to his convictions, and eventually, his family sees him for the hero that he is. Those are broad strokes, and I can see how someone who loves "Mockingbird" (i.e. anyone who loves movies) would enjoy being able to play that kind of dynamic, especially with Tom Hanks playing the part.

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Why that new 'Fantastic Four' rumor is complete nonsense
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Why that new 'Fantastic Four' rumor is complete nonsense

Sorry to break some hearts, but let's look at this logically, folks.

Here's the thing about rumors: the ones that spread the fastest are the ones that people reeeeeeeeeally want to believe.

Fans want Marvel to take control of "Fantastic Four." It's that simple.

Fox isn't planning to give it back to Marvel, though. Whether anyone wants to believe it at this point or not, they still have plans for the property. What form those plans will take is still under discussion, but they haven't just given up and thrown in the towel on it. They took a critical beating on the film, they had big problems with the press and with their director, and it's been a financial disappointment, to say the least. Even so, they managed to squeeze about $165 million out of the movie when you factor in the worldwide box-office.

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Luc Besson loses plagiarism suit to John Carpenter while prepping his new film
Credit: Europa Corp

Luc Besson loses plagiarism suit to John Carpenter while prepping his new film

Yay! 'Valerian' has an FX team! Boo! A French court says Besson's a plagiarist!

It's funny how someone can have a day in the press that's both terrible and terrific. Take Luc Besson, for example. Today's first story about him is thrilling because I've been waiting for him to get back to science-fiction for a while. Last April, he told me during a conversation at WonderCon that he felt like he made "The Fifth Element" at the wrong time.

"We had digital, but it wasn't like it is now. We still had to build everything first," he told me, and having seen some of the "Fifth Element" models in person at Digital Domain, I know what he meant. They used digital compositing and digital mattes more than almost any film made before that moment, but it was still largely a model-based shoot, and all of the aliens in the film were on-set suits and make-ups. I think it's a beautiful movie, but Besson talked about how much bigger he wanted to go, how much of the script that he had to cut (material that he once considered turning into a sequel called "Mr. Shadow) because he simply couldn't find a way to make it in 1997.

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You've never seen anything quite like this exclusive 'Tokyo Tribe' clip
Credit: XLrator Media

You've never seen anything quite like this exclusive 'Tokyo Tribe' clip

Sion Sono's bizarro musical is about to make its US debut, and we've got a peek for you

Have you ever thought to yourself, "You know what 'Walter Hill's The Warriors' needed? More gangster rap, and preferably in Japanese"?

Then allow me to introduce you to "Tokyo Tribe."

Sion Sono may well be one of the most interesting and prolific figures in international cinema. This year alone, he has made 574 new feature films, and in the time it's taken me to type this sentence, he has written and shot another 40. I am almost completely sure that every single film I saw at this year's Toronto Film Festival was directed by Sion Sono. Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but I am truly in awe of this guy's amazing work ethic, and by the variety in the films he makes. I find it hard to believe that the same man who made the delicate, quiet "The Wandering Star" could be the same candidate for every watchlist ever who made the hilariously perverted "Love Exposure."

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An open letter to the lunatics behind the 'Die Hard' pre-boot
Credit: 20th Century Fox

An open letter to the lunatics behind the 'Die Hard' pre-boot

Why? Why would you do this?

Dear Len Wiseman…

I'm going to do my best to avoid making the obvious joke here about your last name, since my last name is McWeeny, and nothing good can come from that particular war.

However, I would like to drop you a few quick thoughts regarding your proposed pre-boot (part prequel, part reboot) of the "Die Hard" series before you go too far down a road that dead ends in Stupid Town.

Obviously, I have not been in any of the conversations you're having about the film. Maybe the folks over at Deadline completely screwed up the reportage on the idea that you have. I certainly hope so, because if not, you are on the verge of doing something monumentally dumb, and I'd love to explain why.

There is only one great "Die Hard" movie. Unfortunately, you did not direct it.

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'Godzilla vs Kong' proves that we have finally, gloriously reached peak nerd
Credit: Universal Pictures/Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures

'Godzilla vs Kong' proves that we have finally, gloriously reached peak nerd

Legendary's partnering with their former home base for at least three giant monster mash-ups

Now, finally, Warner Bros confirms what seemed like a crazy possibility when I first mentioned it in the wake of Legendary's first "Skull Island" mention at Comic-Con a few years ago. That was July of 2014, and as soon as they showed the specially-prepared clip for Comic-Con, hinting at the inclusion of King Ghidorah, Mothra and Rodan in the "Godzilla" sequel, I called Toshi, my son who is positively kaiju-crazy, and he was the first one to say what I'm sure many fans who were in Hall H that day were thinking.

"OH MY GOD DAD THEY COULD PUT KING KONG IN THE GODZILLA MOVIE OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD!"

Since then, he has asked me if there is any news on that front, and I've kept him updated as "Kong: Skull Island" has inched its way through development. This afternoon, though, I suspect his ten-year-old mind is going to be blown by the news that was announced by Warner and Legendary, and the kaiju fan I was while growing up is already celebrating because it sounds positively preposterous.

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Is FX's adaptation of 'Y The Last Man' part of a larger, welcome TV trend?
Credit: Vertigo Comics

Is FX's adaptation of 'Y The Last Man' part of a larger, welcome TV trend?

Let's hope they start getting these stories right

TV's threatening to look a lot like my comic book shelf these days.

One of the things I love about a comic book series that ends is that it represents a complete story, so when I start reading "Transmetropolitan" or "Preacher" or "100 Bullets," I'm starting something that I know has a finite amount of story to tell, and that's building to something. I just worked my way through David Lapham's entire 41-issue arc of "Stray Bullets."

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