As Marvel searches for 'Doctor Strange,' we suggest they look to 'John Wick' to find their lead
Credit: Lionsgate

As Marvel searches for 'Doctor Strange,' we suggest they look to 'John Wick' to find their lead

Keanu Reeves is ready for his Marvel moment

This past week, I got another heavily-embargoed peek behind the curtain of what Marvel's up to in the near-future, and once again, I feel like they've got a real handle on what they're doing. They have a very specific plan, and the focus it takes to pull that off is sort of remarkable.

Obviously, one of the priorities at the studio right now is "Doctor Strange." Scott Derrickson is onboard to direct, and they are working right now to find the right person to play the Sorcerer Supreme. Recent reports had Joaquin Phoenix circling the project, a rumor that started as far back as the week before Comic-Con. It has now been reported that those negotiations stalled, and that is probably a good thing. I think Phoenix is enormously talented, but he may be the same sort of artist as Edgar Wright, who probably fits better doing his own thing than working within the structure of the big-picture puzzle that Marvel's putting together. Phoenix seems like the sort of person who is going to follow what excites him or challenges him, and a six or nine picture contract is going to impose a structure on his work that he may not be prepared for.

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Review: Brad Pitt and a strong ensemble elevate the uneven WWII film 'Fury'
Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Brad Pitt and a strong ensemble elevate the uneven WWII film 'Fury'

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
The combat's harrowing, but the drama gets muddled

Writer/director David Ayer has spent his career writing about what happens in the space between men at times of enormous stress, and he's got a really brutal, nasty overall sensibility. He broke through with his scripts for "The Fast & The Furious" and "Training Day," and then made the jump to directing as well with "Harsh Times," starring Christian Bale.

Any first-time director who manages to someone as difficult as Bale and survives deserves some respect, and Ayer strikes me as someone who is struggling to make serious but entertaining films that explore these certain themes in certain ways, mixing up where and when they take place, but essentially circling the same ideas repeatedly. His new film, "Fury," feels like a bid for respectability, a hope that he might be headed back into awards season. I'm not someone who writes about awards, so I have no idea how it'll do, but as a simple piece of storytelling, it's pretty well-made, and occasionally, I think it even gets great.

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Bella Thorne says being a Disney star can make any day a 'No-Good Very Bad Day'
Credit: HitFix

Bella Thorne says being a Disney star can make any day a 'No-Good Very Bad Day'

Plus she explains why her character isn't mean, but misunderstood

I am unfamiliar with the work of Bella Thorne.

That's a good and normal thing for a 44-year-old man to say. Before I walked into the room to discuss "Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No-Good Very Bad Day" with her, I did enough research to know she's a big Disney star, she sings, and she's got a book coming out. While I do have young kids who are in the Disney demographic, we've raised them to not watch television. If they want to see a show, we watch it on DVD or Netflix, without commercials, and so they aren't hardwired to love everything on the Disney Channel the way it seems like many kids are.

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We discuss 'Star Wars' optimism and Salma Hayek's action chops in this week's 'Ask Drew'
Credit: Frank Marshall/Twitter

We discuss 'Star Wars' optimism and Salma Hayek's action chops in this week's 'Ask Drew'

Plus we once again discuss the idea of what makes for a good remake

Just after returning from Fantastic Fest, I shot a new episode of "Ask Drew" with the always-amazing video team here at HitFix, and then I ended up getting caught in this last-minute trip to New York and the video team ended up juggling about 40 things at once and, long story short, today I've got the episode for you. And it's a pretty good one.

It always just depends on what you guys send in, and if you guys set me up with the right questions, then it's really easy for us to put together something fun. This week, I may have just gotten a face full of new "Star Wars" material right before walking into the studio to shoot, something my video guys didn't know. It was just happy timing, and I think you can see exactly how excited I was to talk about the film at that particular moment.

We started with a conversation about Salma Hayek and her role in the new film "Everly," and we also get into the news from last week that Netflix is going to be releasing "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon 2" to theaters and online the same day. The interesting thing about the ongoing discussion of how distribution is changing is seeing how reactionary much of it is. Things are changing. There's no other way to put it. What place a company has in this new media age is going to be determined by how well they adapt to the new world, not how hard they fight to keep everything the same.

We also talk a bit about the philosophy of remakes and how I feel like it works best when it's about genuine excitement over an idea and not just servicing some corporate asset.

Overall, good one, and thank you to all of you who send in questions. If you want yours answered on the next episode, send it to video@hitfix.com with "Ask Drew" in the header. Don't send it to me, because that would ruin it. I hope yours is the next one I answer, and we appreciate you watching.

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William Shatner says 'I'm Back!': Is that for 'Star Trek 3'?
Credit: Paramount Pictures

William Shatner says 'I'm Back!': Is that for 'Star Trek 3'?

It makes sense, but does that mean it's happening?

It makes sense.

After all, the device that JJ Abrams used to bridge the original "Star Trek" series of films and television shows to his 2009 reboot was an appearance by Leonard Nimoy as an older Spock, adrift in time and able to catch a little face-to-face with both Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

Why wouldn't Paramount eventually make a move to try to get William Shatner to take advantage of some other temporal paradox and make an appearance with Chris Pine, passing the torch from Kirk to Kirk or, even better, maybe even taking a poke at the younger version of himself?

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Marvel's secret plan for their movie universe seems to be driving Hollywood crazy
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel's secret plan for their movie universe seems to be driving Hollywood crazy

Everyone's aping the moves, but not taking away the right lessons

Everyone else is just playing Marvel's game at this point.

I have no doubt some of the DC/Warner movies will be good, and some will likely be bad, and there will be people who prefer them because there is a strong chance they are going to be radically different in tone than anything Marvel's making, and fandom will continue to rage and debate even as Fox struggles to manage their own unconnected corner of the Marvel Universe. But make no mistake… Marvel is driving the entire conversation right now. Everyone else is reacting to them, or being forced to try to emulate them, or making a conscious decision not to react to them, which is still a reaction, and through it all, Marvel is making the choices they're making based on a long-range story-driven game plan that takes business considerations into account but that also seems designed to ever keep anyone from being in the position of being able to ruin their plans over money.

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Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner discuss how joy gets a family through a 'Very Bad Day'
Credit: HitFix

Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner discuss how joy gets a family through a 'Very Bad Day'

A 'Very Bad Day' was a chance for daily joy for the stars and their onscreen kids

At this point, I've known both Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner for years, and I have very strange memories of watching each of them work. I was on set for "Anchorman" when Brick killed a man with a trident, one of the weirder afternoons I've witnessed on any movie. I stood on top of a building in downtown Los Angeles and tried to have a normal conversation with Garner while a wardrobe assistant polished her butt in her Elektra costume, which is more distracting than you'd guess.

Through it all, the two of them have always struck me as titans of poise. Carell is one of those guys who generally seems bemused by things, no matter what's going on, that smile of his always threatening to erupt, and Garner is both no-nonsense and incredibly sweet in conversation. Both of them seem like people who are always up for the discussion of what they're doing, but also like they're very good at carving off private lives away from the work.

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Review: Paul Thomas Anderson turns 'Inherent Vice' into a woozy, wild triumph

Review: Paul Thomas Anderson turns 'Inherent Vice' into a woozy, wild triumph

HitFix
A
Readers
n/a
I will never look at a chocolate banana the same way again

NEW YORK - Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" is probably the most accessible novel he's ever written, set in 1970, a sort of hyper-clever nod to the Raymond Chandler tradition of Los Angeles detective stories. As much as I wanted to like his work, I was never able to really dig in and enjoy Pynchon's books. They felt to me like something to be conquered. With "inherent Vice," I finally found myself caught up in not just his language but with his characters and the world that he was describing. It was my in to the rest of his work, and so it holds a special place for me among his novels.

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The real-life refugee cast of 'The Good Lie' give the film's script credit for telling truth
Credit: HitFix

The real-life refugee cast of 'The Good Lie' give the film's script credit for telling truth

These 'lost boys of the Sudan' have found a way to share their story

The cast of "The Good Lie" came by the HitFix studios this week so we could sit down to discuss the work they did in the film, and the way the movie manages to avoid some of Hollywood's most irritating bad habits.

First up, I spoke with Arnold Oceng and Kuoth Wiel. Oceng is the film's ostensible lead, although I think it's a fairly balanced movie overall in terms of the way it treats its ensemble cast. He's also the one cast member of the four main refugees with the most acting experience, and unsurprisingly, he was fairly poised in our interview.

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Review: Evil doll movie 'Annabelle' never matches scary confidence of 'The Conjuring'
Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

Review: Evil doll movie 'Annabelle' never matches scary confidence of 'The Conjuring'

HitFix
C-
Readers
n/a
White people have it pretty good in this oddly bloodless thriller

John R. Leonetti is no James Wan.

"The Conjuring" is one of the most exciting surprises I've had in recent memory. I didn't expect anything of it when I sat down to see the horror film in a screening room at what used to be the New Line offices on Robertson. It was me and a handful of other people in the room, and for the first time in a long time, I found myself genuinely caught up in a horror film, scared, absorbed in a way that often escapes me. "The Conjuring" is as confident a ghost story as I've seen in recent years, and Wan deserves whatever bump he gets from that film's success.

I can see why "Annabelle" got made. I can hear the meetings in my head where the film was discussed, and it makes logical sense. After all, the opening sequence in "The Conjuring" is one of the scariest things in the movie. It's an effective, efficient scene that lays out the way the haunted artifacts room in the home of the Warrens works, and it establishes Annabelle as an ongoing source of fear. In theory, the idea of a film about that doll and the origins of its haunting sounds like a good idea.

So why doesn't the finished film work?

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