Oh, hi there, Top Ten.
We are in the home stretch now as we count down the 25 Most Anticipated Summer Movies of 2013 here at HitFix, and hopefully what you've seen so far as we've done #25 - #11 is that there is real diversity available at the theater this summer, and a preposterous amount of potential.
Sure, not everything is going to work. I'm sure some of what we've picked here will end up disappointing us, but we wouldn't be film fans if we didn't give ourselves over to the sort of fingers-crossed anticipation that makes it so exciting when we do finally get to sit down and see a film. We have to hope each year that each of these movies is that great version of that film, and certainly part of being a movie lover is that rush that happens when you watch something that gets it all right.
Keep in mind that this is based on voting by most of the editorial team here at HitFix, and we've noticed that we have a pretty wide range of taste represented on our team. There are films in this top ten that represent huge financial undertakings by some of the biggest studios, and there are films in this top ten that are personal visions that are going to be fighting for some elbow room in a blockbuster season.
Five very different films that indicate dark is the way to go this summer
Oh, hi there, Top Ten.
Could the legendary pulp character finally get done right on the bigscreen?
It seems fitting that we start looking forward to what might be next for Shane Black now that his "Iron Man 3" has started to screen for delighted critics. Black has just given himself a huge boost in trying to get pretty much anything made, because he nailed what had to be a fairly intimidating gig. Stepping into a franchise after two films by the director who kickstarted the whole things and a team-up movie that was one of the biggest films of all time can't be easy, and Black had never directed anything like this.
I've had a chance to read at least one draft of the live-action "Death Note" that Black wants to make, based on a property that's already been a manga, an anime, and a Japanese live-action film, and it's a pretty solid piece of writing. It didn't knock me out, but I'm willing to bet he'd milk it for all it's worth.
Marvel bets big on Black and it pays off with the best stand-alone 'Iron Man' yet
"I am Iron Man."
That was Tony Stark's big announcement at the end of 2008's first film in what has become one of the biggest franchises in the world, the cornerstone of an even larger franchise called The Marvel Universe, a creative gamble that has paid off in a huge way. In that moment, Stark, personified rather than played by Robert Downey Jr., not only flipped the superhero formula on its head by revealing his identity to the world but also announced himself as the owner of the character. He's now played Stark five times on film, and there is no one who would argue that in terms of the pop consciousness, Downey is Stark and vice-versa.
In "Iron Man Three," as it's written during the closing credits, Stark finds himself genuinely tested by the Mandarin, a media-savvy terrorist, and a rival businessman who is angling to take away Pepper Potts. From that simple logline, Shane Black has spun my favorite of the standalone films about the character, including the first film. I think Jon Favreau deserves all the credit in the world for getting the entire thing off the ground, finding the right tone to play everything at, creating a credible world that has now expanded in ways that would have been unthinkable a mere five years ago.
One of last year's Midnight Madness films from Toronto gets ready for release
One of last year's Midnight Madness films from the Toronto Film Festival is arriving in theaters shortly, and we were asked if we wanted to premiere an exclusive clip from the movie here at HitFix.
I definitely try to see as many of the Midnight Madness selections as I can, and part of that is because I trust the taste of Colin Geddes, programmer for the section, and part of that is because these tend to be the films that speak to my film geekiest side. They often represent unlikely collisions between different genres or different styles or unexpected partnerships. Perhaps the strangest of those this year saw the WWE producing a horror film that starred Luke Evans and was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.
Kitamura first gained attention with the swords-and-zombies film "Versus," and he famously struggled to get his adaptation of Clive Barker's "The Midnight Meat Train" the theatrical release he felt like it deserved. WWE Films has been pushing into genre fare pretty much from the moment they decided to get into filmmaking, thinking much broader than just action films.
The latest from the 'Lost In Translation' director is a fame-drunk true-life story
I understand how you might have different levels of reaction to the various films that Sofia Coppola has directed, but I don't understand at all when I hear people try to downplay her talents as a filmmaker.
As soon as "The Virgin Suicides" ended that first theatrical screening I saw back in '99, I knew I was onboard with whatever she did in the future because that was as clear a display of filmmaker's voice as I've seen in a debut film in the last twenty years. Dreamy, literate, perfectly capturing a specific age in the life of the American teen, "Virgin Suicides" lingered long after many of 1999's more hyped movies started to fade. I quite like "Lost In Translation" as well, and even if I don't love "Marie Antoinette" or "Somewhere," I think they are absolutely the films she set out to make. She has real control over tone and she's great at building spaces for her actors.
Plus Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall in a legal thriller called 'Closed Circuit'
Focus Features doesn't have a new film every weekend this summer, so they have time to pay attention to each film fully, and they've sent out a new batch of pictures to preview the two films they are releasing.
First up, there's Edgar Wright's "The World's End," which we couldn't be more excited about. The reteaming of Wright, Nick Frost, and Simon Pegg is irresistible to us, and with a cast that also includes Paddy Considine and Martin Freeman, it looks like it's going to be something special. Right now, we know very little about the plot and it seems like that's by design. Edgar Wright has played mum about almost everything regarding the film, so all we know for sure is that the film deals with a group of old friends who are reunited to participate in a pub crawl on a night where some very strange things happen in London.
Simon Pegg's look in the film is pretty outrageous, and it's interesting seeing how everyone else looks clean-cut and settled and happy. I hope that more than anything, this is another examination of the strange ways that friendships among men work. It is a thematic vein that has proven quite rich for Wright in the past.
The Iron Patriot discusses his new place in the Marvel Universe
At this point, I think of Don Cheadle as Rhodey, Tony Stark's good friend, and I have to be reminded that he didn't actually play the part in the first film. That's a testament to just how naturally Cheadle stepped into the role when Terrence Howard negotiated himself right out of the sequels, and I think things ultimately worked out the way they were supposed to work out.
When I sat down to talk to Cheadle at the press day for "Iron Man 3" last weekend, I mentioned to him that I drive by the donut shop from "Boogie Nights" at least four times a week just because of where I live in the Valley. "Ever get the urge to rob it?" he asked me with a smile.
Funny and rude and out of control, is this an evolution of the 'Michael Bay' movie?
Michael Bay is one of the few overtly, blatantly, unapologetically amoral filmmakers working in mainstream Hollywood.
I think a lot of what passes as moral material in mainstream cinema is phony, grafted on without sincerity. When someone learns something about themselves in a movie, more often than not, it's complete bullshit. I have always preferred films that challenge me to have my own reaction to something, that trust me to navigate my own way through a work. I don't mind the big broad strokes of filmmakers working in archetype. I'm all for great bad guys and perfect good guys, as long as it's done well, but I'm equally okay with just watching sociopathic dummies screw up terrible plans.
Good thing, too, because "Pain and Gain" fits that bill exactly. Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely deserve credit for writing what feels like a tailor-made Michael Bay movie. Mark Wahlberg stars as Daniel Lugo, a guy who is the perfect customer for the self-help market. He wants to be a success. He wants to be famous. He wants to be a big man in his community. He wants every bit of the American Dream, and he doesn't want to work for it. He expects it. He believes he has a right to it.
Old foes, new faces, and the possibility of a broken heart all play into the sequel
Phase Two is in full swing.
While I can't say what I thought of it, I did see "Iron Man 3" over the weekend, and I conducted interviews with the cast of the film and with producer Kevin Fiege and director Shane Black. Now that we've seen three stand-alone adventures for Iron Man, it's about time for the first sequels to the other films that helped introduce the Avengers start to roll in, and it should surprise absolutely no one that the trailer for "Thor: The Dark World" will be on the front of "Iron Man 3" when it arrives in theaters.
Thankfully, it's online now, and it gives us our first taste of what to expect as Alan Taylor ("Game Of Thrones") takes over as director. Chris Hemsworth is back, as are Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard, Jaimie Alexander, and Idris Elba. Zachary Levi steps in for the departing Josh Dallas as Fandral, and there's a new bad guy in the form of Christopher Eccleston as Malekith.
Is 'Frances Ha' a black and white version of 'Girls'?
So far, we've had a very healthy mix of movies in the countdown of the 25 most anticipated movies for the Summer of 2013, and there's been some controversy about the ranking of some of these choices.
The thing to remember here is that we've voted on this as a group, and the results surprised us as much as they seem to be surprising you. I never would have expected that the follow-up to "The Avengers" would rank so low, but I think I understand why. Anticipation is based at least in part on the desire to be surprised, to have something new happen. And while sequels are part of the fun of summer, there's also a hope that most movie fans harbor that something new is going to sneak up on them as well.