<p>'But seriously, you liked it, right?'</p>

'But seriously, you liked it, right?'

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

An open letter about film critics to the makers of 'The Lone Ranger'

Depp, Hammer, Verbinski, and Bruckheimer play a strange version of the blame game

First, let me preface this by saying I can't believe you took the bait. That question was designed to get you to crap all over critics in response to their reaction to your movie, and you seem like you couldn't wait to answer the question. That's a shame.

Let's start with the premise that critics prejudged your movie.

I think it is presumptuous to assume that you know why critics reacted the way they did to "The Lone Ranger," other than the actual reasons stated in whatever bad reviews you're talking about. I can't tell you why anyone else didn't like it, but as a critic who really, really didn't like your movie, I feel compelled now to defend my review to you, if only to challenge your comments during a recent interview for the UK release of the film. Besides, if there's any movie this summer that gets to play the "critics just wanted to beat the crap out of us" victim card, it's "After Earth," not "The Lone Ranger."

And if that is how critics decide to beat things up, wouldn't "John Carter" have suffered the same fate last year? Because I think a lot of critics ended up being pleasantly surprised by that, and their buzz was way worse than yours ever was. I know I liked it.

As I said, I'm speaking here for no one but myself. I considered writing this as a short news item about the comments you made, but there are tons of those already, and the truth is, I was personally bothered by the comments. I'm not irritated in the abstract sense, but rather in the specific sense.

After all, I've had many encounters with you gentlemen over the years. When you were building up to the release of the second "Pirates" film, you reached out to me, and that began a series of conversations and encounters, and in the interest of clarity, I'm going to list those, and let's see if this reveals some hidden bias that has just been waiting for the perfect moment to spring it on you.

Read Full Post
<p>Harrison Ford proved his real-life fearlessness by appearing at Comic-Con a second time this year.</p>

Harrison Ford proved his real-life fearlessness by appearing at Comic-Con a second time this year.

Credit: Denis Poroy/Invision/AP Photo

Stallone says Harrison Ford in and Bruce Willis out for 'Expendables 3'

The 'Rocky' icon takes a public shot at the 'Die Hard' star in the process

I love how Sylvester Stallone has embraced the immediacy of the Internet over the last few years. When I was at Ain't It Cool, he first reached out to Harry and did a series of Q&A sessions there that were fascinating because you could see how little filter he appeared to have in discussing his work.

These days, he uses Twitter to update fans on his films as he moves through development, announcing things like casting and even talking about things he'd like to do that aren't set in stone yet. It really doesn't feel like there's a publicist orchestrating things, and I think that's the key for any celebrity using social media. The more "official" something feels, the less interesting it is. People want to see someone like Alec Baldwin lose his shit at someone on Twitter because, more than anything else, it humanizes them. With Stallone, the charm of his social media presence is just how clear it is that he's enjoying this latest act of his career enormously, and he is aware of how tenuous all of it can be.

Read Full Post
<p>Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams get a case of the giggles in our exclusive clip from Brian De Palma's latest film, 'Passion'</p>

Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams get a case of the giggles in our exclusive clip from Brian De Palma's latest film, 'Passion'

Credit: Entertainment One

Watch: Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace size up some lovely ladies in exclusive 'Passion' clip

The latest from De Palma is about to roll out on VOD and in theaters

It makes me sad that Brian De Palma films are not greeted as major events in the film world.

It shouldn't really be a surprise. Even when he was at his career peak, De Palma has always been a polarizing figure, and respect for his work has never been a uniform thing. When I was young, each new De Palma film would be greeted by a huge debate about his talent and the source of much of his visual language, and the thing that people often tried to hang on him was that he was "just" a guy who borrowed from Hitchcock.

The truth is that De Palma was always one of the most visually accomplished guys of his generation, and he was no more a "thief" than Steven Spielberg, who learned just as much from Hitchcock as De Palma ever did. De Palma was a remix artist before anyone fully understood that term, and his movies have aged incredibly well. If you look at "Blow Out" or "Dressed To Kill" or "The Fury" these days, they look great, and there is such a great dark sense of humor underlining his work that I have to believe there is an element of prankery to everything he's ever done.

Read Full Post
<p>Will Poulter, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and Emma Roberts all seem as confused here as I was walking out of 'We're The Millers'</p>

Will Poulter, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and Emma Roberts all seem as confused here as I was walking out of 'We're The Millers'

Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Unfunny and undercooked 'We're The Millers' totally wastes a decent ensemble

HitFix
D
Readers
B+
Have you ever wanted to see a joke-free comedy? Good news.

It does not remotely surprise me that Sean Anders and John Morris are the writers of "Dumb and Dumber To," because I sense a strong admiration for the work of the Farrelly Brothers in the scripts of theirs that I've read. I think the best thing they've had produced so far was also directed by Anders, and that's "Sex Drive," a movie that I expected absolutely nothing from when it was first announced. That movie had a simple hook, and it made the most of its enthusiastic cast, including Clark Duke and James Marsden, who both absolutely killed it in the film.

"We're The Millers," unfortunately, feels to me like an outline for a film instead of an actual film. I can see what the hook is, I can see how all of the various characters should interact, and I can see where the punchlines belong, but as an actual film, I found it very nearly inert. A few painfully obvious laughs do not a successful comedy make, and I'm baffled how you can throw this many relatively funny people at an idea this blatantly down-the-middle and end up with something like this, where it just can't land a punch.

Read Full Post
<p>Josh Brolin was looking particularly Bruce Wayne-like at the LA&nbsp;premiere of 'Gangster Squad' this spring</p>

Josh Brolin was looking particularly Bruce Wayne-like at the LA premiere of 'Gangster Squad' this spring

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles/Invision

Josh Brolin one of many names in the mix as Warner gears up a new 'Batman' search

Why you shouldn't get too attached to anyone at the moment

It is early days as far as the hunt to find a new Batman is concerned, but what is rapidly becoming clear is that Warner Bros. has a very distinct approach in mind for who they would cast to step into the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Understand this… anyone outside the studio who claims to know the full approach of this film is blowing smoke. This is very much a project that is in development, and thinking on the film has been very fluid up till this point. When Warner Bros. made their announcement at Comic-Con, confirming that the "Man Of Steel" sequel would feature Batman, they knew full well that they were throwing red meat to the fanboy press, a question that they can spend weeks and weeks chewing on while Warner sets to work behind the scenes.

For a preview of just how this will all play out, look at this weekend, when early wish list notes became a major story, with people determined to try to spin something concrete out of something that is very much not concrete yet. All Warner is doing at this point is opening the lines of communication, considering types and names and schedules. Borys Kit is doing some very solid reporting, and I like that he's careful to emphasize how early all of this is.

Read Full Post
<p>Josh Gad, seen here at a special screening of 'Jobs,' which features him, will next tackle the role of Sam Kinison for 'Brother Sam'</p>

Josh Gad, seen here at a special screening of 'Jobs,' which features him, will next tackle the role of Sam Kinison for 'Brother Sam'

Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP

Josh Gad is set to star in long-developing 'Brother Sam' Kinison biopic, but is he right for it?

Larry Charles seems like a best-case-scenario as director, though

I was lucky enough to see Sam Kinison work several times. It's one thing to see someone's comedy special on TV or to listen to an album by them, and I certainly absorbed his work in whatever way it was available, but seeing a comic live, especially over several different nights with a wide variety of audiences is essential if you really want to understand who they are as an artist.

I'm not surprised by talk of a Kinison biopic. It seems inevitable at some point, just like the Bill Hicks movie I'm sure we'll also get from someone at some point. What I learned watching Kinison work the same material over many different nights is that he had learned how to handle a crowd from fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist preachers, and when he was onstage in front of a crowd, he was testifying. The screaming he did around his jokes was not just noise, but was punctuation. He was so caught up in whatever his subject that he couldn't stop himself from letting loose these guttural sounds. It's his version of speaking in tongues, being overcome by the power, and Kinison was a master at reading a room. He knew when something was working, he knew when something wasn't, and he was adroit at modifying his act on the fly to ride out the energy of the audience.

Read Full Post
<p>Sounds like 'Mockingjay' is at the top of Liam Hemsworth's priority list right now.</p>

Sounds like 'Mockingjay' is at the top of Liam Hemsworth's priority list right now.

Credit: HitFix

Liam Hemsworth says his part really doesn't kick in until the third 'Hunger Games' film

'Catching Fire' still has him playing supporting part

Sitting across from Liam Hemsworth at the press day for "Paranoia," it struck me that the thing that he and his brother Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) have most in common physically are their eyes. Otherwise, they seem like very different types. I have a feeling those differences will serve them well in the long run because they seem to be different enough that they won't be undercutting each other in terms of the roles they want to play.

What the Hemsworths have in common beyond the eyes is a no-nonsense oversized masculinity. I've complained in the past about how most of our lead actors these days are boys, no matter how old they get, instead of men. It's a generational thing. People in my generation never really got tested in any significant way. Not like a Depression or a World War. And so there are a lot of actors who seem soft to me onscreen, even in action roles.

The Hemsworths, though, are just these two charming giants, Australian boys who obviously drank their milk. Liam's been working like a madman for the last few years, and I think it' s safe to say that at this point, the biggest thing he's ever booked was his role as Gale in "The Hunger Games." In that first film, it doesn't really seem like much of a break for an actor, and I asked him when we sat down to talk about "Paranoia" if it felt good to finally jump in for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."

Read Full Post
<p>You can try to fight the smile, Harrison, but the power of Adam McKay compels you.</p>

You can try to fight the smile, Harrison, but the power of Adam McKay compels you.

Credit: HitFix

Harrison Ford is all smiles as he discusses the comic chaos of 'Anchorman 2'

Making the icon laugh may be the proudest moment of my life

I've interviewed Harrison Ford several times now, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

The simple truth of it is that the first time you meet Harrison Ford, you can do everything possible to stay cool, but if you grew up with "Star Wars" and "Raiders" as major pop culture landmarks as I did, staying cool really isn't an option. I didn't wig out the first time we sat down, but internally, I remember basically just screaming "OHMYGOD!" the entire time we were talking. The second interview went a little bit better, and certainly Ford has always been professional in conversation. But it's hard not to get the feeling that you're annoying him, and I think that's just the way he is with press. It does not appear to be something he enjoys doing, and being aware of that, I am always hoping to make the brief moment we have to speak just a little less painful for him.

Read Full Post
<p>'Soylent Green is people, you damn dirty apes!' 'You need to stop watching Chuck Heston films.' 'THERE&nbsp;ARE&nbsp;NOOO&nbsp;PHOOONES&nbsp;RINGING!' 'No, seriously. Stop.'</p>

'Soylent Green is people, you damn dirty apes!' 'You need to stop watching Chuck Heston films.' 'THERE ARE NOOO PHOOONES RINGING!' 'No, seriously. Stop.'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Matt Damon adds emotional weight to Neill Blomkamp's smart and unsubtle 'Elysium'

HitFix
B+
Readers
C-
Remember when science-fiction had something to say?

Thank god for Neill Blomkamp.

I sincerely hope I never end up writing a news story about how Neill Blomkamp, struggling to recover after a series of films that didn't earn their money back, is now signing on to direct the reboot of the reboot of "Robocop" or some similar money-driven monstrosity. I hope he is able to follow his own particular vision for as long as he wants to, and that audiences turn up to support him enough that he is able to maintain his independence.

Also, before we get started, if this movie had been made in 1974, Charlton Heston would be playing the Matt Damon role. AND IT WOULD BE AWESOME.

Right now, my oldest son has declared himself "a science-fiction fan." He is in the shallow end of the baby pool right now in terms of what he's seen or read, but he spends days after each new science fiction book or movie just asking me questions, and most of them aren't about things he saw in the film, but things that were suggested by the movies and the books.

Read Full Post
<p>Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg breathe rowdy, enjoyable life into the buddy action comedy in '2 Guns'</p>

Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg breathe rowdy, enjoyable life into the buddy action comedy in '2 Guns'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: '2 Guns' succeeds largely on the chemistry between Denzel and Wahlberg

HitFix
B
Readers
B
Sometimes low-key and charming is enough

Sometimes, when you order a hamburger, all you want is a hamburger.

No one is going to accuse "2 Guns" of being some bold reinvention of the action genre, but it's a big jump forward for director Baltasar Kormakur. His previous American action film was "Contraband," also starring Mark Wahlberg, and honestly, it did nothing for me. I didn't hate it, but I also didn't care for it. The whole thing felt inert to me, which happens sometimes with studio films. You can tell that people threw all the resources in the world at something, but it just doesn't come to life. Those films are, in some ways, more frustrating than flat-out bad films, because it's hard to pinpoint where things went wrong.

Read Full Post