What one bad screening of 'The Hateful Eight' means for the future of film
Credit: The Weinstein Company

What one bad screening of 'The Hateful Eight' means for the future of film

Quentin Tarantino would have popped a blood vessel if he'd seen what we saw

There are few things I've been looking forward to more this year than the release of Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight."

Since the live-reading he did of the script here in Los Angeles, I've been excited to see how he would hone the ending of the piece and how he and his longtime collaborator Robert Richardson would make the whole thing look. Tarantino's films are events for me, and I think a big part of that is because there is so much of my DNA as a film fan that was formed the same way as it was for him.

Starting with the Comic-Con presentation for the film, though, something else has become important thanks to the emphasis that Tarantino has placed on the 70MM presentation of the movie. After all, he went out of his way to work with Panavision to shoot in a real Ultra Panavision format, and it is so important to the way Tarantino wants the movie seen that he designed an entire special roadshow experience for the 70MM prints of the film.

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The true story of George Miller, Stanley Kubrick, and the talking pig
Credit: Universal Pictures

The true story of George Miller, Stanley Kubrick, and the talking pig

Part two of our interview with the legendary filmmaker takes a strange left turn

One of the pleasures of repeatedly interviewing George Miller over the course of 2015 was that he got chattier and chattier every time we ran into each other.

On the day we had him stop by the HitFix studios to talk about "Mad Max: Fury Road," which the NBR just named the best film of 2015, he was at his most charming and relaxed, and our one-hour conversation covered a lot of ground. One of the most unexpected digressions had to do with "Babe," a project that took quite a bit of time to develop. It eventually became a showcase for a masterful blend of animatronic and animation, and Rhythm & Hues won an entirely justifiable Oscar for their work on it.

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Peek behind the scenes of this year's most impressive animated movie
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Peek behind the scenes of this year's most impressive animated movie

This behind-the-scenes just makes the whole thing more impressive

Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson have pulled off something truly special with "Anomalisa," something I raved about when I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival, and it's exciting knowing it's going to be in theaters soon so people can experience it for themselves.

What I find most eerie and thrilling about the movie is the way it manages to sell the illusion of real life through the performances of these stop-motion characters. The voice work by David Thewlis, Tom Noonan, and Jennifer Jason Leigh is exquisite, and somehow, it feels like those performances are really being given by these beautifully crafted stop-motion puppets. Beyond that, the world that they've created for the story manages to work as pure metaphor, something I'm not sure many filmmakers could accomplish in any form.

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The truth about that bear attack from 'The Revenant'
Credit: 20th Century Fox

The truth about that bear attack from 'The Revenant'

People just want to be outraged about something, I suppose

Let's be clear about something: no, a bear does not rape Leonardo Di Caprio in "The Revenant."

Some days, I find myself wondering how certain people are even part of the ongoing conversation about film based on how alarmingly stupid they are, and how much trouble they have deciphering even the easiest of movies. It's not my job to police the internet or to correct every bit of misinformation that's out there, but when you see something truly wrong starting to take hold and spread, it seems like there is a responsibility to speak up and make sure the correct information is on the record somewhere.

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We break down all the amazing spoilers from the 'Star Wars: Force Awakens' soundtrack listing
Credit: Lucasfilm

We break down all the amazing spoilers from the 'Star Wars: Force Awakens' soundtrack listing

The whole movie, completely spoiled, beat for beat, just the way you want it

Okay, I'm finally at that point where I can't absorb any new knowledge about "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Now that the final marketing push for the film has kicked in, it's non-stop. We are awash in spoilers and new images and all I want is to see the finished movie.

One of the most egregious offenders in spoiler history was the soundtrack listing for "Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace," which gave away the death of a main character. I was reluctant to look at the track listings for "The Force Awakens" but since it's my job, I decided to go whole hog and attempt to tell you exactly how the entire film will unfold based only on what I've learned so far and what the tracks are called. I am confident this is a 100% accurate representation of the final film.

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George Miller says the original 'Mad Max' was meant to be set present-day
Credit: HitFix

George Miller says the original 'Mad Max' was meant to be set present-day

Our hour-long interview with the master filmmaker kicks off with a look back at his start

2015 has been a terrific year overall.

One of the absolute high points for me has been getting the opportunity to meet and chat with George Miller, whose "Mad Max: Fury Road" remains one of the finest things produced by anyone anywhere this year. I've always been a fan, and I'd interviewed him once before by phone, but this year brought him roaring back into the mainstream, and I took full advantage of the opportunity.

Our first encounter was at SXSW, where I moderated a Q&A after a screening of "The Road Warrior," and it was a magical evening. In the midst of this busy media event, we had a sold-out audience at the Paramount in downtown Austin, and it played like it was a brand-new movie.

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How will 'Mission: Impossible 6' be different than any other film in the series?
Credit: Paramount Pictures

How will 'Mission: Impossible 6' be different than any other film in the series?

It's the first time any director's been back for round two in this series

One of the things that has made the "Mission: Impossible" series so interesting so far has been the way they've used a different director each time, bringing a different sensibility to each entry in the series while playing with the rotating ensemble cast, Tom Cruise always at the center of the thing.

That's about to change, though. This morning, Christopher McQuarrie tweeted the very simple phrase, "Mission: Accepted." That is exciting news on several fronts, but mainly it's exciting because McQuarrie and Cruise have been developing this great creative chemistry for a while now, and anything that continues that has a chance of being good for all parties involved.

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Review: Pixar's latest, 'The Good Dinosaur,' is one of the studio's thinnest films
Credit: Pixar

Review: Pixar's latest, 'The Good Dinosaur,' is one of the studio's thinnest films

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
Pixar's working in a minor key here in a major way

It's nice.

That's not a slam against the latest film from Pixar, but I want to offer very tempered praise here. I was taken aback at first by just how slight the film is, but I think it has a gentle touch on the best material in the film, and it does have a very real sense of emotional power to it, cumulative but fairly undeniable.

What threw me off was just how simple the film is. This may be the single most stripped down narrative they've ever offered, and I can't help but wonder if this is the result of the film's development issues. It feels like the film's central relationship works, and they knew that was the key to making the film work, and so all the attention was focused on that to the detriment of what normally makes Pixar movies shine, the supporting cast of characters and the great strange left turns that are the things we often remember the most.

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Black Panther makes his debut in first 'Captain America: Civil War' trailer
Credit: Marvel Studios

Black Panther makes his debut in first 'Captain America: Civil War' trailer

The Marvel universe just got a little big bigger and a whole lot rougher

Oh, hi, "Civil War."

Tonight, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. made an unannounced visit to "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and they premiered the first teaser trailer for "Captain America: Civil War," next summer's mega-sequel that is essentially a third "Avengers" film.

It's a damn fine trailer, and one of the things I like most about it right away is just how little it reveals. Mainly, the trailer sets up the underlying tension that eventually leads to the civil war, starting with the return of General Ross, played once again by William Hurt. I love that they're bringing him back from "The Incredible Hulk," and it makes perfect sense that he would want to bring the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe under his control.

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Will Tom Cruise be the Robert Downey Jr. of the Universal monster universe?
Credit: Warner Bros.

Will Tom Cruise be the Robert Downey Jr. of the Universal monster universe?

The industry's trades spat regarding a key decision for the studio

There is no reverse engineering of the Marvel formula more risky right now than what Universal is attempting with their shared universe of monster movies.

That risk reportedly just got a little less terrifying for the studio, though, if Tom Cruise really is in talks to star in "The Mummy," the first film that they're using to help launch what they hope will be a major cornerstone of this new franchise. That's a huge win for the studio, and Cruise is one of those guys who works tirelessly once he's signed on to something. Considering how important he will be to the entire monster universe, not just his one film, this is a big moment for Universal. In essence, this is their Robert Downey Jr., which seems like an interesting echo when you realize that at one point, Tom Cruise was attached to play Tony Stark  for New Line in their "Iron Man" movie.

To be fair, Deadline absolutely refutes the Variety story, a case of some definite turf war playing out in public. I don't have a source either way, but I can do some digging and see if anyone's able to clarify off-the-record.

I'm so conflicted about these films. I would love for there to be a great series of Universal monster movies based on the classic characters. I love the classic characters. They had one of the original shared universes, and when I was young, watching films where Dracula and the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster all ended up colliding in different configurations was a huge spark to my imagination. They'd take the same basic pieces and rearrange them and see what variations they could play. It was fun. And they established a rule that holds true even now with franchises, that everything eventually degenerates into self-parody if things run long enough. You can be as serious about things as you want, and you will still eventually end up with Abbott and Costello running around screaming about Lon Chaney Jr.

When they first announced they were making these films, they made the comparison to Marvel, and there was some talk about "monsters as superheroes." Whatever feelings you had about those earlier rumblings, just know that they've had some really smart writers pushing really hard to crack this for a while now. Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer both are very good at what they do, and they take the legacy of the Universal monsters as a pretty sacred trust. It makes sense that Universal has Chris Morgan working on the project. He's been a key part of keeping the "Fast and Furious" movies chugging along on-schedule, and he's proven himself to have a pretty keen ear for what the audience likes as a franchise evolves.

But they've got to get it off the ground first, and it's going to be tricky to pull it off. Part of the disagreement between Deadline and Variety has to do with Cruise's schedule. He's working on the new Jack Reacher film right now, and he's got "Mission: Impossible: Whatever The Next One's Called" shooting at the end of 2016. That leaves room for something else between those two, and certainly the Universal monsters is a big enough draw for Cruise. He's got to see the upside of how big it could be if it works.

Regardless of who stars in it, "The Mummy" is one of the most important films on Universal's slate, and we'll see how those choices start coming together soon.

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