Review: 'District 9' director fumbles frustrating sci-fi grab bag 'Chappie'
Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: 'District 9' director fumbles frustrating sci-fi grab bag 'Chappie'

HitFix
C
Readers
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I almost wish it was just awful, since that's easier to understand

One of the things that made that first screening of "District 9" such a tremendous surprise at Comic-Con was the way the film had flown almost completely under the radar. I remember seeing the short film he made, and I remember hearing his name mentioned in association with "Halo," but I was still blindsided by just how good "District 9" was.

When I reviewed "Elysium," I gave that film every benefit of the doubt. I went back to re-read the review tonight, and I stand by the enthusiasm of it, but not the final rating. When I re-watched the film, I felt it falling apart in front of me, and it was upsetting because I want to believe in this guy. I wrote that review from the perspective of someone who desperately wants Neill Blomkamp to make original science-fiction films that do not rely on existing properties.

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Captain America and Hawkeye on 'evolving fighting' on the set of 'Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Captain America and Hawkeye on 'evolving fighting' on the set of 'Age of Ultron'

Sounds like this is even more of a Joss Whedon film than the first one

LONDON - So far, we've run our conversations with Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Joss Whedon, and Chris Hemsworth, and next up is the first conversation we had for the day, with none other than Chris Evans.

He was actually the first sign we saw after entering the Shepperton Studios lot that we had crossed into Marvel's world. A golf car drove by us with Captain America sitting next to the driver in full costume. That's one of those things that is so surreal that it took us all a moment to register what had just happened, and by that point, they had looped back around to say a formal hello.

When we sat down to talk to Evans, he joined us in the shadow of the Quinjet, a full-size set that was pretty much completely immersive when you stepped inside. Evans is always one of the most no-nonsense and direct guys you can talk to on a set, and this was no exception:

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Film Nerd 2.0 digs into the notion of 'what is appropriate' between the PG and R
Credit: Warner Bros

Film Nerd 2.0 digs into the notion of 'what is appropriate' between the PG and R

We were surprised by which of the films seemed the most explicit

It's been a strange couple of weeks of films with the boys.

First, we had a period of almost three weeks where I didn't get to see them because of all sorts of different scheduling issues. The hardest part of adjusting to life as a divided family is making my peace with the very different way the kids and I spend time together now. I've gone from having hours with them every day to having a handful of hours every couple of weeks. It makes time feel much more precious, but it can add a layer of stress, as well, because I'm constantly aware of the ticking clock.

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Drew Goddard rumored to be taking helm of Sony's 'Spider-Man' reboot
Credit: Sony Pictures

Drew Goddard rumored to be taking helm of Sony's 'Spider-Man' reboot

Will we see Iron Man in the first stand-alone Sony film?

Drew Goddard is good news no matter what film you're announcing.

I would say that Goddard is one of the most interesting guys to come out of the recent wave of TV-writers-turned-feature-writers. He's also, simply because of the way things have worked out, one of the most untapped resources working today. So it is tremendous (if not terribly surprising) news that Sony is looking to him to write and direct their second major "Spider-Man" reboot.

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Jared Leto Joker

Jared Leto's getting ready to be Joker in 'Suicide Squad'

Over the weekend, Jared Leto had hinted that something was coming at the start of the week, and today, it appears to be the Twitter feed of "Suicide Squad" director David Ayer where the something finally arrived.

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Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered
Credit: Paramount Home Video

Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered

One of the icons of science-fiction has passed away, and we celebrate his life and work

Film Nerd 2.0 has become one of the things I am most closely identified with, which is fine by me. I think there is real value in talking about how we introduce media to our children, and there's absolutely value in talking about how that media affects them. It wasn't a column that I consciously set out to create, though. It just sort of gradually became clear that it was something I wanted to write, and the turning point, the moment of actual creation, was all because of "Star Trek."

For Toshi, the 2009 film was not just his entry point to "Star Trek," but also his entry point to movies in general. When I took him to the theater to see the film, he stood the entire time, and he didn't want to be touched or spoken to or distracted in any way. He was fascinated, and he had a million questions afterwards. The thing that he asked more questions about than anything else was the relationship between Old Spock and Young Spock. It was the first time he was introduced to the notion of time travel and alternate universes and the idea of more than one actor playing different versions of the same role. There's a lot to unpack there for a nascent science-fiction fan, and when the box set of Blu-rays showed up at my house for the first six "Star Trek" movies, he made it very clear that he wanted to watch the films.

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Chris Hemsworth on new villains and old fears for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Chris Hemsworth on new villains and old fears for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

Plus guess who we saw trading punches with Thor

If I had to rank the top ten things I've witnessed on a film set, one of those spots would be taken by the moment that occurred as a group of reporters, all flown to London by Marvel, walked out onto the upper balcony of the main room of the Avengers Tower set.

Below us, two figures stood locked in combat. Or at least, they stood locked in the rehearsal for combat, as Joss Whedon walked around them, discussing the staging of the fight. We immediately recognized one of the figures as Thor, and one of the things that I find most impressive about Chris Hemsworth is that even when they have his stunt double on set, Hemsworth is still the biggest guy in the room. He is gigantic. I'm not 100% sure I'm the same gender as Hemsworth. He is, in a word, absurd. Of course they cast him as a god walking the Earth. He's like a forced perspective trick.

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Review: 'Lazarus Effect' is effective if familiar mad scientist fare
Credit: Blumhouse

Review: 'Lazarus Effect' is effective if familiar mad scientist fare

HitFix
C+
Readers
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Would you believe this is from the guy who directed 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi'?

Let's just assume that if you are a member of a scientific team in a horror film, things are going to end very, very badly for you.

And if the research you're doing involves life after death or, even worse, the re-animation of dead things, then the odds you die in a horrible manner increase exponentially. Unfortunately, no one warned the characters in David Gelb's "The Lazarus Effect," and the results are understandably grim.

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'Prisoners' director set to direct Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' sequel
Credit: Warner Bros

'Prisoners' director set to direct Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner' sequel

It's an interesting match of filmmaker and material

Anyone who doubts the lasting power of Ridley Scott's early work need only look at the headlines this week to see how everything old seems to be new again.

Neill Blomkamp made headlines for being the first major studio filmmaker to ever win a job via Instagram, and he's been making fans crazy by talking about his approach to the upcoming "Alien" sequel. Does it ignore "Alien3" and "Alien: Resurrection" completely? Does it exists in some side universe? Where does "Prometheus 2," which everyone swears is still happening, fit into those plans?

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Marital pressures on diplay in exclusive 'Directed by Winding Refn' clip
Credit: Radius-TWC

Marital pressures on diplay in exclusive 'Directed by Winding Refn' clip

An uncommonly intimate documentary about the filmmaker behind 'Drive' and 'Only God Forgives'

As Nicolas Winding Refn prepares to begin production on "The Neon Demon," his upcoming foray into horror, you can take a peek into his process thanks to the new documentary "My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn," which was made by his wife.

There's a reason "Hearts Of Darkness" is often considered one of the best behind-the-scenes films about filmmaking, and it's because Eleanor Coppola had access that no one else would have. The same is true here, and it captures Refn at the moment where he was working to follow up his breakthrough hit "Drive."

It's a fascinating moment for any filmmaker. In Refn's case, he did a lot of great work before "Drive," but everything came together on that movie in a very special way. Ryan Gosling was at peak cool, and there was something compelling and immediate about that title and those trailers. When you make a whole bunch of films before you have your breakthrough, it can be confusing. What was it about that one that people responded to? Why was it that moment that you finally broke through?

People went nuts for that photo of Guillermo Del Toro and Ryan Gosling together at Disney's California Adventure, but it didn't surprise me. When I ran into Del Toro at the Toronto Film Festival the year "Drive" was there, Del Toro had already seen Refn's film four times, and he was on his way in to see it again. He flipped for that movie, and he's also on-the-record as being a huge fan of Gosling's directorial debut, "Lost River."

Refn was obviously feeling pressure, both internal and external, when making "Only God Forgives." It's a brutal and uncompromising film, and the expectations for it were sky-high because it was Gosling and Refn again. Watching Liz Corfixen's documentary, she captures the chemistry that exists between the star and the filmmaker, and she does a really wonderful job of allowing us into the absolute dead center of all of Refn's anxieties. I'm not surprised by how intimate the work material is that Corfixen shot, but I am surprised at how much of the marital tension she left in the film. Our exclusive clip, embedded above, shows you a hint of that when they're just getting back to Denmark after "Only God Forgives" wraps what looks like a very difficult and demanding shoot in Bangkok. The title of the documentary takes on a very different meaning when you look at the stuff about the pressures that the films put on the marriage. This is Corfixen's movie about how her life is literally directed by Refn at this point, since the choices they make as a couple are choices they make for him and his work.

It's a bracingly honest film, and one that any aspiring filmmaker should make a must-see. This is no mere promotional piece, and you can check it out for yourself as the film arrives in theaters, on iTunes, and on all VOD platforms tomorrow.

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