Tom Cruise cheats death in crazy 'Mission: impossible 5' plane stunt
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise cheats death in crazy 'Mission: impossible 5' plane stunt

This is why he's been a movie star for 30 straight years now

One of the 8,000 things my kids are currently obsessed with is the Tom Cruise "Mission: Impossible" franchise. They've seen the franchise completely out of order, because I used "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" to win them over. By far, it's the best of the entire series, and they're already Brad Bird fans because of "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," so when I showed it to them, all I had to do was tell them who made it.

Actually, that's not true. The other thing I told them was about the stunt that Tom Cruise did, the highly-publicized climb up the outside of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. They're Jackie Chan fans already, and we discussed how Jackie did his own stunts and why that's special. It's something that we've talked about in terms of Buster Keaton as well. I hate to say it, but it's true… there's something special about the thrill you get as an audience member when you know that you're watching someone really do something where they could have been killed.

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Film Nerd 2.0: An important line is crossed with James Cameron's 'The Terminator'
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: An important line is crossed with James Cameron's 'The Terminator'

Things got crazy on Saturday night

When I was 14, "The Terminator" quietly arrived in theaters, a low-budget SF/action film starring a guy many people had dismissed already as an onscreen presence, released without much hype or much of a media presence.

One of my friends had an older brother who was an usher at a local movie theater, and he would let us walk into anything we wanted to see, pretty much as many times as we wanted. It's where we spent most Friday and Saturday nights for most of '84 and '85, and I tried to see everything that played there.

With "The Terminator," though, it was special. Every weekend, no matter what else was out, we'd also see "The Terminator" at least once. The entire time it played, we kept going back. It was so obviously something special, something better than it had to be, and I found the whole thing so thrillingly made. I lost count of how many times we ended up seeing it, but without exaggeration, I know it was over 30. No matter what else Cameron does for the rest of his career, I don't think I will ever feel that same sheer overwhelming adoration that I did for "The Terminator," but that's mainly because it came out of nowhere and seemed like such a perfect example of how to take no money and make it work for you. That film works because, before anything, that script works, and that script is a perfect example of what you can do with very limited resources if you're smart. It is emotional, it is clever, and it is a beautiful example of how to structure an action film.

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TJ Miller and Damon Wayans Jr. talk about celebrating intelligence with 'Big Hero 6'
Credit: HitFix

TJ Miller and Damon Wayans Jr. talk about celebrating intelligence with 'Big Hero 6'

Disney's newest heroes are more brains than brawn and like it that way

While Baymax, the big soft robot, is the scene-stealing star of "Big Hero 6," there's another character who very nearly beat him for my kids when we saw it. Fred, played by TJ Miller, isn't actually a student at the high tech college where Hiro Hamada, the film's main character, meets the people who eventually become the crime-fighting team with him.

Instead, Fred is a fanboy for science, unabashed in his enthusiasm about the work being done by the other characters, including Hiro, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), and Wasabi Ginger (Damon Wayans Jr.), a tireless cheerleader to the others as they work. Miller's the perfect guy for the part, and if you follow him on Twitter, you no doubt saw his non-stop bombardment of images from Disneyland this weekend, where he seemed to be having an amazing time.

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Paul Walker and Vin Diesel take one last ride in the gigantic new 'Furious 7' trailer
Credit: Universal Pictures

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel take one last ride in the gigantic new 'Furious 7' trailer

Oh, yeah, Kurt Russell's in this one, too!

Universal has not had the best luck with franchises over the last decade or so, but the one series that they can take full credit for nurturing and developing from an unlikely first film into what is now a globally-hyped event as part seven prepares to hit theaters.

I would have never pegged "The Fast And The Furious" as the beginning of a massive franchise, and I'm sure no one working on the film would have guessed how big this would eventually become. It's been a one of a kind happy accident, and Universal deserves credit for understanding what was happening and managing it properly.

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Channing Tatum's set for solo spin-off 'Gambit' movie, and now they've got a writer
Credit: Marvel Comics

Channing Tatum's set for solo spin-off 'Gambit' movie, and now they've got a writer

Will we see him first in 'X-Men: Apocalypse'?

These days, it seems hard for me to believe that there was a point where I did not like the work of Channing Tatum.

For several of his early movies, I felt like he was a good looking guy with no chops at all, and it didn't seem to me like he was ever going to loosen up. He had some buzz around him when he was in "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints," and he was certainly busy as the next few years unfolded, starring in films like "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra," "Dear John," "The Eagle," and "Step Up 2: The Streets," but it wasn't until 2011 that I started to come around to what he was doing. "The Dilemma" is a fairly awful film, but Tatum shows up late in the movie and suddenly things start to come to life. Also that spring, "Haywire" came out, and I thought Tatum was great in his few scenes, taking a beating from Gina Carano like a champ. Then in 2012, the back-to-back punch of "21 Jump Street" and "Magic Mike" made it clear that we had all under-estimated this guy.

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'ABCs of Death' director Vincenzo Natali picks his favorite movie death of all time
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

'ABCs of Death' director Vincenzo Natali picks his favorite movie death of all time

I think his pick might be the same as a lot of other people's pick. It's that good.

Vincenzo Natali is one of those guys who made a genre classic with his first feature, something that can be both a curse and a blessing to a filmmaker. Think of how many directors come out of the gate with something that defines them, only to end up trapped by it later in their careers. Natali certainly didn't disappear after "Cube," but he did deal with the sort of independent financing nightmares and development paralysis that has sidelined so many talented guys. I am a big fan of "Splice," a movie he made more recently, and I also think his segment in "The ABCs Of Death 2" is a lot of fun.

To help spotlight that anthology film, we asked Vincenzo to share with us his favorite movie death of all time. I think it's a great way to get to know a filmmaker. If you really want a bead on who they are, don't talk to them about their own movies. Talk to them about the movies that they love. When you do that, you learn so much about their sensibilities.

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Disney's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' brings on the writer of 'Orphan'
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Disney's 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' brings on the writer of 'Orphan'

This is the studio's second at-bat with the classic Bradbury tale

Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is not just one of his finest works, it's one of the best books I've ever read, and at this point in my life, that includes thousands of titles. What makes "Wicked" so great isn't just the story, although it's got a great plot, and it's not just the language, although Bradbury ladles it on like a master. It is the way "Wicked" captures not only the feeling in the air as Halloween approaches, but the way he observes and dissects human behavior so carefully and completely.

Here's a paragraph from the book that just makes me swoon.

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More 'Terminator: Genisys' images and details pile on the awkward for Paramount
Credit: Paramount Pictures

More 'Terminator: Genisys' images and details pile on the awkward for Paramount

It's like they're trying to sabotage the film

Working as a studio publicist is not an easy gig. There are plenty of times when you are asked to be an advocate for a product that you know just doesn't work, and when there are hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, the pressure to keep your smile fixed firmly in place is overwhelming.

Right now, it must look like Gotham City the day after the Joker dropped Smilex on everyone, because I can't imagine anyone at Paramount or at Skydance, the David Ellison-led production partner on the film, is feeling good about the reaction to this first big blast of publicity. They managed to set it up so that "Entertainment Weekly" would spend a few days rolling out images, probably imagining a wave of goodwill that would carry them right into Halloween weekend.

Nope.

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Seth Rogen may play Steve Wozniak in the Boyle/Sorkin Steve Jobs movie
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Seth Rogen may play Steve Wozniak in the Boyle/Sorkin Steve Jobs movie

It also sounds like they're about to start casting for the female lead

While some people had nice things to say about Ashton Kutcher's work as Steve Jobs in "Jobs," I thought it was a terrible fit between actor and material, and the film itself was so poorly made that I had a hard time taking any of it seriously. I did like Josh Gad's approach to playing Steve Wozniak, though, and I think that's just a testament to Gad's innate likability onscreen.

Part of my problem with that film is the way it seems to treat product launches as the biggest moments in Jobs' life, and while I certainly understand that he masterfully cultivated the nearly-religious fervor that people have for Apple technology, it just felt tone-deaf they way they handled it in that film. Normally, I'd ask why someone's bothering to make another movie about Jobs so soon after that one was in theaters, but I'm pretty sure I know the answer.

After all, Danny Boyle directing a script by Aaron Sorkin, based on the Walter Isaacson book, is a totally different proposition.

So far, we know that Christian Bale is the first choice to play Jobs. They are not done with his deal, according to Borys Kit, so while it looks very likely he's playing the part, it's not guaranteed yet. Today's news is that Seth Rogen is being considered for the part of Steve Wozniak, and the idea of Seth Rogen digging into a plate full of Aaron Sorkin dialogue is positively irresistible. That's especially true with Wozniak, who is a fascinating guy in his own right, justifiably beloved by people in the tech world.

In addition, Kit says Boyle will be reading with actors about the female lead part, and that Jessica Chastain is on that short list of people who will be part of that, but that's a long way from being able to say that she's in the film.

In general, it sounds like they haven't pinned anyone down completely, but the process is underway, and I'm just looking forward to seeing what Boyle does with a Sorkin script. It's a really interesting combination of voices, and I'm counting on them to figure out exactly why we need another movie about Steve Jobs, his life, and his work. If anyone can, they can.

In the meantime, you can see Christian Bale in "Exodus: Gods and Kings", and you can see Seth Rogen in "The Interview," both hitting theaters this Christmas.

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New 'Terminator: Genisys' details unveiled to less-than-stellar reactions
Credit: Lionsgate Home Video

New 'Terminator: Genisys' details unveiled to less-than-stellar reactions

How hard is it to make a Terminator sequel? Very, very hard, evidently.

It is genuinely surprising to see "Terminator: Genisys" on the cover of this week's "Entertainment Weekly." After all, this represents the third attempt to start a new trilogy of "Terminator" films, and the last fumble was made by Warner Bros, whose parent company owns and publishes "Entertainment Weekly," while the new film is being released by Paramount, a competitor.

Then again, looking at the pictures they used on the cover, maybe "Entertainment Weekly" knew exactly what they were doing, because they are profoundly unflattering shots of the cast, including a grinning Terminator, a weird decision since everyone else has on their "this movie is really serious" faces. And the article inside has set off a massive recoil from fandom, which certainly wasn't how Paramount was hoping to kick off their next nine months of promoting the film before its release.

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