<p>Michael Shannon is so good at playing intense that I almost don't trust him when he smiles.</p>

Michael Shannon is so good at playing intense that I almost don't trust him when he smiles.

Credit: HitFix

Michael Shannon talks about finding something sympathetic in General Zod for 'Man of Steel'

One of our best character guys discusses his side trip into super powers

I'm not sure what I expected from Michael Shannon's take on General Zod, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't what I got.

That should not come as a shock, though. Michael Shannon has been slowly but surely cementing his reputation as an actor capable of surprising in any role, and the more work of his I see, the more convinced I am that he's one of the great character guys in film at the moment. Anyone who can play the tortured father from "Take Shelter," the shithouse-crazy ex-solder in "Bug," the hilariously irritated cop in "Premium Rush," and General Freakin' Zod, and do so without covering the same emotional ground twice, is a guy worth playing close attention to, whatever he's doing.

The great "Man Of Steel" debate appears to have kicked in, and I'm dumbfounded by some of the reviews I'm reading. I'm on the record as being a pretty passionate fan of the movie now, and I saw it again last night right around the time that review went live, and still feel just as strongly. I disagree with a lot of what I've read, and it's not even about the "like or dislike" of it, but more with the interpretation of what happens in the movie.

Read Full Post
<p>I could try explaining what's happening in this scene, but it all basically boils down to 'college life' in 'Monsters University'</p>

I could try explaining what's happening in this scene, but it all basically boils down to 'college life' in 'Monsters University'

Credit: Pixar

Review: Pixar delivers a largely familiar 'Monsters University' with a few new twists

HitFix
B-
Readers
A-
Is 'pretty good' what people want from Pixar?

Perhaps we're entering an age of lowered expectations when it comes to Pixar, and perhaps that's not a bad thing.

Pixar deserved the reputation they built for themselves as a storytelling titan during their initial run of titles, and one could make a case that everything through "Toy Story 3" was part of a cycle that is now concluded. The decision to start playing the sequel game on a regular basis, no matter how story-driven, has created a shift in the way they are being treated, and it's hard to deny that it feels like a bit of a disappointment.

I am weary of prequels. I think they are narrative dead ends in the first place, and I don't understand the appeal. When they announced that the follow-up to the sweet and smart "Monsters Inc." was going to be a prequel, I thought it sounded really dreadful. And, honestly, I've barely looked at the marketing materials at this point. Why bother? Pixar movies are as pre-sold to the family audience as anything can be, and I know for a fact that whatever they release, we'll end up seeing.

Read Full Post
<p>You know what 'Star Wars Episode VII' is about? Not this.</p>

You know what 'Star Wars Episode VII' is about? Not this.

Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Buzzkill - Why today's big 'Star Wars Episode VII' rumors are complete nonsense

Fans should be excited, but not over fabrications like this

When JJ Abrams was planning "Cloverfield" with Matt Reeves and Drew Goddard, they had the bold idea to shoot a top secret teaser trailer for the film before they even started production on the film. The plan was to release it in front of "Transformers" without anyone knowing what it was. Unfortunately, I broke the story as they were shooting the trailer, and I wrote about the overall plan before they could get the trailer into theaters.

When Abrams was gearing up on the first "Star Trek," I ran a story about how the new film looked to be using time travel as a way to reboot the series in a brand-new timeline, and that it looked like Old Spock would be the one bridge between the two versions. This was early enough in the process that Abrams ended up calling me to ask me to please be careful about how much more I would reveal.

It was a fair call to make. As Abrams has explained recently lately, one of the reasons he has become so heavily invested in locking down the details of what he's working on is because of the experience he had on the version of "Superman" that he wrote for director McG. And who was the one who broke that story? Yep. Me.

Read Full Post
<p>Henry Cavill makes the character of Superman his own in Zack Snyder's triumphant 'Man Of Steel'</p>

Henry Cavill makes the character of Superman his own in Zack Snyder's triumphant 'Man Of Steel'

Credit: Warner Bros

Review: Zack Snyder's 'Man Of Steel' delivers a whole new level of superhero thrills

HitFix
A+
Readers
A-
Emotional, beautiful, and filled with brutal battles, this is a winner top to bottom

"Man Of Steel" is the Superman movie I've waited my whole life to see.

In the film, the most important struggle that Clark Kent aka Kal-El (Henry Cavill) has to overcome is the tension between his Kryptonian nature and his Earthly nurture. He is the last remnant of a once-vibrant race, and he is also fully human, a nice kid from Kansas. From that small description, this film spins a story so epic, so powerful, that my first viewing of it left me dizzy.

Growing up, I was much more of a Marvel fan overall, and of the DC characters, Batman was the one I really dug. I always thought Superman was okay, but somehow perpetually corny. It occurred to me as I was preparing to write this review that the most fundamental difference between DC's two flagship heroes comes down to one important detail: Batman is defined by his missing parents, while Superman is defined by his surplus of parents. Batman's grey moral code and his brutal, cold nature make sense based on his formative experiences, while Superman's optimism and his belief in the good inside people is completely due to the example given him by Pa and Ma Kent.

Read Full Post
<p>Zack Snyder is all smiles when he talks about his new film 'Man Of Steel'</p>

Zack Snyder is all smiles when he talks about his new film 'Man Of Steel'

Credit: HitFix

Zack Snyder discusses how he approached the apocalyptic action of 'Man Of Steel'

Also a quick lesson in why you never play poker with Zack Snyder

I've spoken to Zack Snyder at various stages of production for all of his films so far. On "Man Of Steel," I had no contact with him at all until the press day after the film screened. I didn't do the set visit. That was Dan Fienberg. And I hadn't had any early look at any part of the film except for the same trailers everyone else saw. So sitting down for this interview, it's the first time we really get to speak about it.

I do point out how silly I feel about a question I asked him before he started work on the film, and I take full credit for how silly it sounds once you've seen the movie. But what I like about Snyder is that he has a relentlessly positive and focused approach to what he's doing. No matter when you're talking to him about a film he's made, he can tell you exactly what he's thinking and doing. He is very self-aware. And I think he seemed pleased with "Man Of Steel" when we spoke, as well he should be.

Read Full Post
<p>Aaron Johnson, seen here reprising his role as Kick-Ass for this summer's sequel, may be joining 'The Avengers 2' as the character Quicksilver</p>

Aaron Johnson, seen here reprising his role as Kick-Ass for this summer's sequel, may be joining 'The Avengers 2' as the character Quicksilver

Credit: Universal Pictures

Aaron Taylor-Johnson may be joining 'The Avengers 2' as Quicksilver

I can't wait to see if there's a point to all this corporate posturing

Sometime in the next few weeks, I'll be running my coverage of my visit to the set of "Kick-Ass 2," where I had a few days to myself to see how director Jeff Wadlow is working with the returning cast, including Chloe Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, to make the sequel even more dangerous and deranged than the original. Of course, a big part of that coverage will be my conversation with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who returns to the sequel as Dave/Kick-Ass, the main character.

I was on the set for the original, and then really hadn't seen much of him since, so when I finally ran into him on the sequel, I was amazed by just how much muscle he's packed onto his frame. The difference that a few years make is monumental, and I suspect Johnson is a guy who studios are going to cast in action leads for many years to come. He's a smart actor who can play vulnerable very well, and for his age, he has a remarkable sense of maturity.

Read Full Post
<p>Brace yourself for a whoooooooole lot of this.</p>

Brace yourself for a whoooooooole lot of this.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Brad Pitt tries to bring 'World War Z' to life and fails

HitFix
C+
Readers
C+
Another example of the blurring line between games and films in narrative

First, there is no point comparing this to the Max Brooks book of the same name. This is not an adaptation of the book. It's barely related. This is a case of a studio liking a title and building a brand-new high concept around it after they buy the rights. Love it or hate it, this "World War Z" is its own thing.

I am of very split mind on this film. It's fairly well-made, even though Marc Forster still prefers chaos over choreography in his action, making it hard to see what's happening much of the time. Brad Pitt's fine in it, although he's barely playing a character. There is so little time spent defining who Gerry Lane is or why he's the central figure in the narrative that they should have just gone the same way as "This Is The End," letting Pitt play himself. That's the ad campaign anyway. "Brad Pitt versus zombies." And I'll give them this… it's truth in advertising. This is Brad Pitt flying around the world so he can run from zombies in new and exciting places, and nothing more than that.

Read Full Post
<p>You may not know her yet, but it is hard to forget Antje Traue once you've seen her work as Faora in Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel'</p>

You may not know her yet, but it is hard to forget Antje Traue once you've seen her work as Faora in Zack Snyder's 'Man of Steel'

Credit: HitFix

New face Antje Traue talks about stepping up for her big role in 'Man Of Steel'

Every bit as powerful as Superman, she's one of the many strong women in the film

It's safe to say that most filmgoers have no idea who Antje Traue is right now, but in a week, people are going to find themselves scrambling to figure out how to say her first name.

It's "aunt-juh," by the way. You're welcome, gents.

Traue is an East German actress who plays the crucial role of Faora-Ul in "Man of Steel." She is both companion and military right hand to General Zod (Michael Shannon), and when the film kicks into overdrive in its second half and the action gets apocalyptically scaled, Faora is right there in the middle of it, and she is just as scary as Zod. More importantly, she is just one of the many strong women represented in the film. It is easy to accuse the world of comic-book storytelling of handling its portrayal of women badly, but "Man Of Steel" seems particularly good at shaking off the more common problems.

Part of what defines the battles in the film are the very different moral codes that the characters follow. One of the major threads of the film involves the way Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) struggled to define morality and responsibility to his son, and we see the way all of those lessons manifest in the way Superman (Henry Cavill) handles himself as his fight with the Kryptonians progresses.

Read Full Post
<p>Greta Gerwig is a guest on today's podcast to discuss her new film 'Frances Ha'</p>

Greta Gerwig is a guest on today's podcast to discuss her new film 'Frances Ha'

Credit: IFC Films

The latest MCP features Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach, and legendary producer Walter Mirisch

Even technical issues can't ruin how good a line-up that is

I am disappointed.

I really enjoyed the recording I did with Scott Swan for the new podcast. It has been, as it seems to be between all of them, a little while since we last recorded, and I had a lot of fun this time. Felt good. I also have some great other things lined up as part of the podcast, three full interviews that I think all are worth your time.

So when I went to put it all together, I was shocked to hear something wrong with the audio. There's a strange sound, and I have no idea what caused it or where it happened in the process. I have tried everything I could to clean it up, following advice from audio nerd friends, but everything I tried seemed to make it worse.

In the end, I decided to cut it together and put it out even though it has the issue. There's too much about it that worked for me to just shelve it, and it took me a week to get through all of my efforts at fixing it. As a result, this was supposed to run last Thursday, just before the opening of "After Earth," and we do spend some time talking about what felt like a pile-on waiting to happen. If you followed the film's release over at Rotten Tomatoes, you know that's exactly what happened. Look at the quotes on that page: it's a contest to see who can shred Shyamalan and the Smith family the hardest. It's rough. We talked here about the way some directors end up getting their turn in the barrel and the way audiences and critics walk into films.

Read Full Post
<p>Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are trapped in 'The Internship,' and someone needs to let them out.</p>

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are trapped in 'The Internship,' and someone needs to let them out.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: Even Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn can't save the awful 'Internship'

HitFix
D-
Readers
n/a
Is this really what Shawn Levy thinks is funny?

If you feel like cinema peaked with Ron Howard's "Gung Ho," then "The Internship" may be the film of the year for you.

Personally, I'm baffled by the whole thing. Does Google have actual money in the film? Did they co-produce it in some way? Because if not, I'd love to know why a major studio produced a feature-length infomercial for a tech company. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are in it, sure, but this is "Larry Crowne" with corporate sponsorship. This is the sort of thing you show all the interns on the first day of the program to get them all revved up. What it's not is a film I would recommend to anyone, or a comedy that I would call funny in any way.

I was worn out by the end of the film simply from the full-body cringe of embarrassment that is "The Internship." If this is what Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were waiting on as a follow-up to "The Wedding Crashers," that is tragic. This is the best piece of material the two of them have read since that film came out? This was the winner out of all the possible combinations of those two guys that you could have possibly come up with? I find that hard to believe, yet somehow, this is the film they ended up making together.

Read Full Post