<p>Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe co-star in Rob Reiner's sweet new coming-of-age story 'Flipped,' in theaters this August.</p>

Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe co-star in Rob Reiner's sweet new coming-of-age story 'Flipped,' in theaters this August.

Credit: Warner Bros./Castle Rock

Watch: Rob Reiner's new coming-of-age film 'Flipped' gets a trailer

Will the director's new film mark a return to form?

There are few working filmmakers who have ever had a run of titles as good as the ones at the start of Rob Reiner's career, and yet these days, his name has very little value with film geeks.  Why is that?

Seriously, look at the first decade's worth of films he directed.  It's pretty stunning.  "This Is Spinal Tap."  "The Sure Thing."  "Stand By Me."  "The Princess Bride."  "When Harry Met Sally."  "Misery."  "A Few Good Men."  "North."  Oh... wait... "North."  That's what happened.  That's right.  I remember how shocking that misstep seemed at the time, too, considering how dead on his instincts had been up till that point.  I count at least two classics in that first decade, maybe four.  That's an insane batting average.

One flop, though, and it seems like it just plain winded him.  Since then, his output has been uneven at best.  I know plenty of people who love "The American President," and I'd argue without that film, there would have been no "The West Wing."  But "Ghosts Of MIssissippi," "The Story Of Us," "Alex & Emma"... these are films that feel like they were just churned out by development robots, not movies that feel like they come from the warm, human, gentle place of compassion that Reiner's earlier films all obviously shared.  "Rumor Has It" almost doesn't count since it was a last-minute thing for him, stepping in when Ted Griffin got booted from his film, and "The Bucket List" made a lot of money even though I found it intolerable. 

What Reiner has needed for a while is a film that showcases all of his strengths, a reminder of why we liked and even loved him in the first place.

"Flipped" is that movie.

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<p>Sarah Polley discusses 'Splice' at the press day for the film.</p>

Sarah Polley discusses 'Splice' at the press day for the film.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Sarah Polley talks about 'Splice'

Talented writer/director discusses her outrageous role in the new film

Sarah Polley is almost too smart for her own good.

By that, I simply mean that our industry doesn't seem to have much use for smart, uncompromising actresses who also write and direct.  It doesn't know what to do with someone like that.  The system isn't made to reward these people because it flies in the face of what they expect from their female leads.

She's been acting since she was six years old, and I first became aware of her in Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen."  What I've always found interesting about her is how she seems unable to disguise her innate intelligence, and how that informs the roles she picks and what she does with them.  Her first film as a writer/director, "Away From Her," revealed someone who has a keen eye for human behavior and whose interests aren't just limited to her own sphere of experience.

She is perfectly cast in Vincenzo Natali's "Splice," and both she and Adrien Brody are ideal choices to play super-smart rock star scientist nerds, drunk on their own ability to make life.  Her character is the more complex of the pair, thanks in large part to a backstory that's never quite spelled out, but instead is hinted at with various suggestions of an abusive childhood.  Polley sells both the IQ and the hidden pain with aplomb, and she proves once again that she is one of the most striking film presences of her generation.

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<p>Yep... that's Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl.&nbsp; Looks wacky, eh?</p>

Yep... that's Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl.  Looks wacky, eh?

Credit: Lionsgate

The M/C Review: 'Killers" is a moderate misfire

It's bad, but how bad?

I paid my own damn money to see this film at midnight at the Winnetka Pacific tonight.  Lionsgate did not make the film available for review.  And I'm not surprised.

I don't think it has to do with the quality of the film so much as the premise.  The trailer manages to give away the whole movie without telling you how the story is told.  It's got a good idea and some terrible structure, a screenplay that is sort of frustrating because it gets close to getting the concept right.  As it is, there is a core piece of the premise that they haven't used in the advertising at all, and i wonder if part of the "hide the movie" strategy was keeping that quiet.  I mean, it's not like this is a terrible, terrible, terrible movie... is it?

No.  That's extreme.  This is not a terrible, terrible, terrible movie.

One terrible will probably get the job done.

But it took the effort of a lot of people to make a film that doesn't work as much as this movie doesn't work.  Let's really break it down so we know who to thank.  First and foremost, let's talk about Katherine Heigl.   I think "Knocked Up" is a really good movie.  I think Heigl is pretty good in it, but in saying that, and in thinking about her work in the movie, I'd say mainly the movie is really good around her, and she's fine.  She is the plot of the film in "Knocked Up," and everyone else gets to play a fun character.

Then someone told her she was funny.  And she keeps making comedies now where she's supposed to do the heavy lifting.  Which she can't do.  Ouch.

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<p>Seals cavort beneath the ice of Antarctica in just one of the dozens of dazzling visual sequences in BBC&nbsp;Earth's 'Life,' on Blu-ray and DVD this week.</p>

Seals cavort beneath the ice of Antarctica in just one of the dozens of dazzling visual sequences in BBC Earth's 'Life,' on Blu-ray and DVD this week.

Credit: BBC Earth

My Blu-ray Shelf: BBC Earth's 'Life' dazzles

Title takes its place as one of the format's best demo discs

It's amazing.

I was sent a copy of the BBC Earth series "Life" on Blu-ray disc and asked if I'd review it and put up a gallery of images from the show.  Sure.  No problem.  The folder I looked through must have had another 20 or so images I could have run, and they were all great.  Over at DVD Beaver, they've got some gorgeous HD screenshots that are totally worth saving.  Just as visual art, "Life" is worthwhile for any owner of a Blu-ray player.  I'd go so far as to say it is essential.

And, yes, you can quote me on that.  "Amazing and essential."

Lately, my sons have been seriously campaigning to spend more time in my office during work hours.  Much of what I've been watching lately is not appropriate for them, however, making it difficult to let them hang out in here.  With "Life," I'm confident that they can handle it, and we've been using the educational value of the series as a way of convincing my wife to let them watch.  She's got very different standards for what Toshi can see, and it's been a real negotiation in the last few months.  I think a key part of Toshi watching a film is getting his mother involved in watching it with him.  We all went to "Toy Story 3" last week, for example, and the conversation as we walked across the Disney lot afterwards was one of the best we've had in a while.  There are some big adult moments in that film, but as she talked to him, it was obvious that he handled them well, which made her feel better.

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<p>Chris Hemsworth is gonna use that hammer next summer when Marvel Studios releases 'Thor'</p>

Chris Hemsworth is gonna use that hammer next summer when Marvel Studios releases 'Thor'

Credit: Marvel Studios

By the gods, what Photoshoppery bedevils Chris Hemsworth as Thor?

More Marvel images for next summer's big movies leak online

Oh, my.

So we start the day with some images of Captain America, clearly production art designed to show how the costume might look on the actor.  Reaction to those images have been mixed all day, and I understand... it's a pretty striking thing to suddenly see Captain America rendered "realistically."

Well, that reaction should be nothing compared to the conversations that some leaked images of Chris Hemsworth in his full Thor costume should inspire.

Over at Collider, they were sent two pictures that definitely show you the final design for the way Thor looks in next summer's "Thor."  However, I've been to the set for that film, and I've seen Hemsworth in final costume tests, and I've seen the overall aesthetic for Asgard.  While what you're seeing in the Collider images is indeed the design for the costume, there are several details about it that are ill-served by those images.

For one thing, it does not appear to be made of vinyl or plastic when you see the costume in context and in motion.  I'm surprised by how disco-shiny those photos make him look, because that's not at all what it looks like in the film.  There's a real cloth and metal feel to all of the costuming, especially the Asgardian stuff.

That early official shot of Hemsworth did a nice job of setting a mood, and that's something these leaked images lack completely.  Also, whoever did the Photoshopping on these has some real issues with scale.  Forget that cape that looks snapped on... what about the way his head and hands look freakishly large?

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<p>Adrien Brody sits down with HitFix to discuss his new film 'Splice'</p>

Adrien Brody sits down with HitFix to discuss his new film 'Splice'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Adrien Brody discusses 'Splice'

Oscar-winning actor embraces SF/horror this summer

It's hard to believe that it took this long for me to finally sit down with Adrien Brody.  I've been writing about his career since his first few films, and I remember seeing him in a film called "Restaurant" at a festival about a decade ago.  Long time coming, and now that we've actually spoken, he's every bit as intelligent and confident about his craft as I expected him to be, and even before the cameras were turned on, he was engaging and cracking jokes, working to set me at ease.

Still, if I'm finally going to interview him, it seems appropriate that it would be for a film that seems very film geeky while still managing to subvert expectations.  I know what movie I thought I was going to see when I viewed "Splice" at Sundance this year, but the film was much weirder and more sly about its agenda than I expected.  If you're in Los Angeles, and you want to take a peek at the film before it's released on Friday, then please join me Thursday night at the Egyptian Theater, where I'll be moderating a Q&A after a screening of the movie, with writer/director Vincenzo Natali and producer Don Murphy joining me.

In the meantime, though, check out the conversation I had with Brody, where we talk about the way the hedalines lately have almost felt like viral marketing for the film, and the way Brody and co-star Sarah Polley formed an unlikely family with Dren, the creation at the heart of the movie.

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<p>Yep.&nbsp; Looks like Captain America to me.</p>

Yep.  Looks like Captain America to me.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Evans as Captain America... revealed!

Online leak offers up first good look at The First Avenger

So last week, it was JoBlo who had the big Captain America exclusive, reporting on a costume test that he'd seen.  Fans all over the internet went to work trying to draw what he described.

Now Ain't It Cool has come up with the actual costume tests that JoBlo described, and they've published them this morning so you can take a look for yourself.

If I understand the way the film is laid out, this is the second costume we'll see in the movie.  There's an earlier version that is what Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wears when he's working for the USO, and it's showier, more colorful, geared more for the stage than for combat.

This is the combat version.  This is what he wears once he's hooked up with the Howlin' Mad Commandos and out in the field, ready to kick some Nazi ass.  This is what we'll evidently be seeing for the majority of the film, and I think it looks pretty good.  It seems like something you could wear and still have your full range of motion, something that wouldn't impede you in combat, and more than colors, that's what seems most important to me.

This is, of course, just artwork, and not an actual photo of Evans in the outfit, so the next question is how well this will translate to live-action.  I'm guessing this is going to be pretty much exactly what you see onscreen.  Now that this has leaked, I'm curious to see if Marvel's going to release an image of Evans in uniform sooner rather than later as a reaction, or if they're just going to hold out and release an image on their original timetable, whatever that was.  For now, this is a tantalizing first glimpse at where they're headed, and it looks to me like they're sticking close to the iconic look, with a few tweaks.

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Could 'Community' star Donald Glover play Spider-Man?

Could 'Community' star Donald Glover play Spider-Man?

An internet meme sets off a heated debate on race in pop culture

UPDATE - February 10, 2015. They've just made the announcement that there will be a new Spider-Man. Again. And based on the way "#DonaldForSpiderman" is trending everywhere today, things haven't changed that much.

I doubt Marvel's going to jump right to Miles Morales, but I would imagine that if Sony is going to make spin-off movies, they're going to need to rely on the very popular character in the near future. I would guess it's only a matter of time until we will see a black Spider-Man, and seeing the way some people are reacting to even the thought of that, we felt like it was worth revisiting the original piece we wrote and having this conversation again.

It will be lovely when we don't have to have this conversation and we fully internalize the idea that the default should never just automatically be "white male." We're not there yet, though, and so whether it's female Ghostbusters or a black Spider-Man, we find ourselves having that conversation.

Here's the original article:

Here's my first question for you:  why is Peter Parker white?

My answer to that question would be "Because the comic book was published in the early '60s, and there was no way Marvel was going to make their main character anything BUT white at that point in publishing history."

Aside from that, there's no inherent story or thematic reason for Peter Parker to be white.  None at all.  But you wouldn't know that looking at the reaction this weekend online to what started as a bit of a goof and has now blown up into a typhoon-force internet meme that is forcing an interesting and always-explosive conversation.

Donald Glover, who you used to be able to follow on Twitter under his name @donglover (and, yes, he knows exactly how else you can read that), has been building a following this year with his work on the show "Community." He's also a member of the group DERRICK Comedy which I wrote about last week, and he's an active member of LA's stand-up comedy community, a former writer for "30 Rock," and the star of "Mystery Team," which just got a DVD release.  I'd say his audience is still a cult audience, but a passionate and growing one, which is probably why he changed the Twitter name to @MrDonaldGlover.

Over the weekend, as people were publishing more stories speculating about the casting process on Sony's "Spider-Man" reboot, Don started a campaign via Twitter, using a simple hashtag.  Actually, here's how it started on May 30 at 2:45 PM:

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<p>Jonah Hill, Dren from 'Splice,' a new 'Karate Kid,' and a return of our old friends from 'Toy Story' is just some of what you can expect in theaters this June.</p>

Jonah Hill, Dren from 'Splice,' a new 'Karate Kid,' and a return of our old friends from 'Toy Story' is just some of what you can expect in theaters this June.

Credit: Universal/Sony/Walt Disney/Pixar/Warner Bros

A look ahead at 'Toy Story 3,' 'The A-Team,' Dren, and what else to expect in June

We start a monthly peek at what you'll see in theaters near you

I've heard the refrain over and over now, from all sorts of people.

"This is the worst summer ever."

Admittedly, the summer movie season just got started, but people are already starting to freak out, afraid that they're in for 16 weeks of "Prince Of Persia" and crummy "Shrek" sequels.  Even when I try to name films they might like, I can tell they're starting to feel like the summer is a total loss.

So instead of dwelling on this year's disappointments so far, let's take a quick look at what we can expect from June, and why this month just might save 2010's summer for most audiences.

Pretty much any flavor of film you might want will be represented by the new releases hitting screens in the next 30 days.  I've seen a good sampling of them so far (including the first great sequel of the year), and to me, it looks like you've got a lot of opportunity for genuine pleasure in theaters ahead of you.

There are movies that I'll admit give me pause when I see the ads for them.  "Killers" and "Marmaduke" both look to make this coming weekend a difficult one for viewers, and I think "Grown-Ups" later in the month seems fairly dire.  But I'm willing to bet there are Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl fans who are genuinely excited to see what looks to me to be a weak sauce retread of "True Lies" or "Mr. & Mrs. Smith."  I'm equally willing to bet that kids are going to get suckered into dragging their parents along to see the dancing talking doggies for "Marmaduke".  And Adam Sandler has long since proven himself to be critic-proof, no matter how terrible a film of his looks to be, and adding Chris Rock and Kevin James to the mix should only make the film even more of a powerhouse when it's released.

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<p>Jonah Hill tries to ignore Russell Brand, the devil on his shoulder, in 'Get Him To The Greek,' opening in theaters this weekend.</p>

Jonah Hill tries to ignore Russell Brand, the devil on his shoulder, in 'Get Him To The Greek,' opening in theaters this weekend.

Credit: Universal Pictures

The M/C Review: 'Get Him To The Greek' uneven but entertaining

Brand and Hill work well together again, but does the film work as a whole?

Judd Apatow may be taking things a little easier this year, but for the past five years or so, he's been omnipresent in American film comedy as a writer, a producer, and a director, and his influence on what comedy is getting produced has been undeniable.

What I found interesting about the way the Apatow team approached their films was how they didn't seem to be built as simple star vehicles, where you take a recognizable established comic persona and build a film specifically suited to them and their strengths.  As I continue our new "Saturday Night At The Movies" column (you can read the first two editions here and here), we'll be talking about what happens when you are more worried about servicing a personality than telling a story or creating characters.  I think Steve Carell is great in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."  Do I think he's the only person who could have played it?  Nope.  Do I think "Knocked Up" works because Seth Rogen is so good in it?  Yes.  Could they have made that same film with a different lead, like Jay Baruchel or Martin Starr?  Yes.  It would have been different, but possible.

When I was on-set for "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," I was introduced to Russell Brand, and as soon as our interview was done, I found myself in a conversation with producer Shauna Robertson, and right away, the talk was about building a movie around Brand's outrageous Aldous Snow character with Jonah Hill as a co-star.  Aldous was a fairly small part of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," all things considered, but even speaking to him while they were shooting, it was apparent that Brand had a unique comic presence that wouldn't just drop into any role easily.  It's little wonder, then, that "Get Him To The Greek" is one of the first of the Apatow Company films to really feel like a "Saturday Night Live" movie where the personality came first, with the story secondary, an excuse to throw a few performers together and see what happens.

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