'Lone Survivor' creative team signs on for 'Six Billion Dollar Man' reboot
Credit: Universal Pictures

'Lone Survivor' creative team signs on for 'Six Billion Dollar Man' reboot

I'm dying to know what tone they'll try for this one

While I wasn't the biggest fan of "Lone Survivor," I was impressed with the way they managed to turn it into a genuine hit. It's a pretty stark and brutal story, but Mark Wahlberg worked overtime to help sell the movie, and it's obvious that it came from a place of real passion for him.

Peter Berg has such a strange filmography at this point that I've basically given up trying to guess what he'll do next. I always walk in hoping for him to put it all together as well as he does in films like "Friday Night Lights" or "The Rundown," because I think he's got the chops. I like that he's done some of everything at this point. Looking at how he shoots action in "Hancock," for example, or even in "Lone Survivor," he's got a sense for how to build a sequence. I just think he's been hindered by scripts at times. I like how he shot "Battleship," but I don't like the actual story being told.

It's exciting to hear that Berg and Wahlberg will collaborate for "The Six Billion Dollar Man," because there's plenty of potential in that idea. Universal's been trying to make a new updated version of this property for at least 20 years now, so I'm a little surprised to see that this is now in the hands of the Weinsteins. One of the earliest Hollywood script assignments that Kevin Smith took after he broke with "Clerks" was writing a version of what was still "The Six MIllion Dollar Man" at that point. There have been comedy versions, action versions, hybrids of the two.

I'm old enough to actually remember the show when it was on the air. I had the action figures. I had a lunchbox. I thought the show was really, really cool. When they released the complete series DVD set a year or two ago, I picked it up and started trying to watch a few episodes, and I'm shocked at how different it is from what I remember. This is why I find nostalgia so fascinating. So often, people's feelings about a thing are disconnected from the actual thing, and they're more about when something came out or who they were at the time. While there's some name recognition value for "The Six Billion Dollar Man," Universal has a pretty much blank slate to tell any story they want.

There was a book that actually came first, "Cyborg," and it's got a much more grim and straight-faced tone than the show, which is a very odd mix of tones. Whichever writer Dimension Films brings on to work with Berg and Wahlberg, their biggest trick is going to be figuring out what kind of movie this is. According to the report on Deadline, Universal may actually have a financial stake in this version. Wahlberg's got a lot of things lined up already, so we'll see when they end up ready to go in front of the camera on this.

For now, it's an intriguing prospect, if nothing else.

You can see Mark Wahlberg in "The Gambler," in theaters January 1, 2015.

As principal photography ends, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets a title
Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

As principal photography ends, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' gets a title

Sounds pretty good to us

In what feels like the ultimate anti-hype move, the title for "Star Wars Episode VII" was revealed today in a single tweet steering fans to the official website, where a single slide contains all the new information.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has completed principal photography.

That's a fairly safe title, but honestly, I don't need clever or cool from a title. Based on everything we know so far about the film, "The Force Awakens" sounds like it's pretty dead-on in terms of explaining what's going on.

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Channing Tatum in discussions for key role in Tarantino's 'Hateful 8' western
Credit: Warner Bros

Channing Tatum in discussions for key role in Tarantino's 'Hateful 8' western

It's really happening! Thank god.

While I understand exactly why his first impulse was to walk away from "The Hateful Eight" when the script initially leaked in January, I am glad that Quentin Tarantino reconsidered.

I was there on April 19th when Tarantino staged the script as a live read, using the draft that leaked, and I thought it was a fascinating evening. That draft essentially ended like "Reservoir Dogs," and it seemed anti-climactic after the careful way the rest of the script builds. Then again, this was always meant to be a first draft, and I've got to assume that the ending was always going to be the thing that Tarantino focused on getting right. In general, I think he's demonstrated a knack for knowing exactly how a film should end.

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Review: Stephen Hawking biopic 'Theory Of Everything' captures messy nature of love
Credit: Focus Features

Review: Stephen Hawking biopic 'Theory Of Everything' captures messy nature of love

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Eddie Redmayne's performance deserves the hype

One of the painful truths about love is that it is messy. Movies tend to trim off all the rough edges in favor of a neater, more digestible narrative, and the love story between Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane seems like a perfect candidate for that sort of nice, clean, safe repackaging.

What makes "The Theory Of Everything," directed by James ("Man On Wire") Marsh, so very effective is that it's not afraid of the mess, the contradictions, the lunacy that is part and parcel with love, and both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones do exemplary work in the lead roles. "Theory" is unabashedly nostalgic, shot through the hazy filter of warm memory, especially as it opens in 1963 with a young Stephen at Cambridge, still wrestling to figure out what his life's work will be.

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Zack Snyder's unusual plan for the 'Batman v Superman' score pits composer v composer
Credit: Warner Bros.

Zack Snyder's unusual plan for the 'Batman v Superman' score pits composer v composer

An interesting decision plays directly into the movie's themes

Okay, I have to give it up for this one. What a great idea.

While I understand that "Man Of Steel" isn't everyone's favorite, I am a huge fan of the film, and one of the things I love about it is the score by Hans Zimmer. There are places in that film where I think Zimmer does some of the best work of his career, big and inspired and beautiful and sweeping and intense and emotional.

It isn't a huge surprise to hear that Zimmer will be working on the score for "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" as well. I would expect him to continue from the themes that he created for "Man Of Steel," and I assume he and Zack Snyder had a good relationship on that film. It would be enough of an announcement for me to think it was awesome if they just said Zimmer was working on the score. But it's more than that, something entirely appropriate to the nature of the film itself, and it sounds like a perfect idea.

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'Chappie' trailer introduces a feeling robot from the director of 'District 9'
Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Chappie' trailer introduces a feeling robot from the director of 'District 9'

Sharlto Copley tries something new in a performance capture role

Neill Blomkamp made a big noise with his first narrative feature, and one of the things that made "District 9" so electrifying was that it seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a surprise, and it was a fresh take on science-fiction during a period when it felt like there wasn't much being done in the genre.

The hard part about coming out of nowhere and surprising everyone is that you can only do it once. His second film, "Elysium," had the crushing weight of expectation on it, and Blomkamp stumbled in the execution. It's certainly an ambitious film, and he's just as technically adept as he was in "District 9," but he wasn't really able to pull all of the narrative threads together. One of the common elements between the two films was Sharlto Copley, the hero of one film and the villain of the other.

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C-3PO star Anthony Daniels says 'Star Wars: Episode 7' is better than 'Empire Strikes Back'
Credit: Walt Disney/Lucasfilm

C-3PO star Anthony Daniels says 'Star Wars: Episode 7' is better than 'Empire Strikes Back'

Bold words from one of the franchise's most stalwart stars

Bold words, Threepio. Bold words.

I didn't see it until someone retreated it late Monday night, but Anthony Daniels, probably fresh from the "Episode VII" wrap party over the weekend, made a pretty big claim on Twitter this weekend.

There is a reason "The Empire Strikes Back" is constantly referred to as the gold standard of genre sequels. It's a film that took everything the first movie did and fine-tuned it, and it such breathless storytelling that it feels like every frame of the film is urgently important. Watching people imitate the film in all the wrong ways over the years, it's become clear that it is harder than it looks to make a sequel that really delivers for an audience.

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Tom Cruise cheats death in crazy 'Mission: impossible 5' plane stunt
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise cheats death in crazy 'Mission: impossible 5' plane stunt

This is why he's been a movie star for 30 straight years now

One of the 8,000 things my kids are currently obsessed with is the Tom Cruise "Mission: Impossible" franchise. They've seen the franchise completely out of order, because I used "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" to win them over. By far, it's the best of the entire series, and they're already Brad Bird fans because of "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," so when I showed it to them, all I had to do was tell them who made it.

Actually, that's not true. The other thing I told them was about the stunt that Tom Cruise did, the highly-publicized climb up the outside of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. They're Jackie Chan fans already, and we discussed how Jackie did his own stunts and why that's special. It's something that we've talked about in terms of Buster Keaton as well. I hate to say it, but it's true… there's something special about the thrill you get as an audience member when you know that you're watching someone really do something where they could have been killed.

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Film Nerd 2.0: An important line is crossed with James Cameron's 'The Terminator'
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Film Nerd 2.0: An important line is crossed with James Cameron's 'The Terminator'

Things got crazy on Saturday night

When I was 14, "The Terminator" quietly arrived in theaters, a low-budget SF/action film starring a guy many people had dismissed already as an onscreen presence, released without much hype or much of a media presence.

One of my friends had an older brother who was an usher at a local movie theater, and he would let us walk into anything we wanted to see, pretty much as many times as we wanted. It's where we spent most Friday and Saturday nights for most of '84 and '85, and I tried to see everything that played there.

With "The Terminator," though, it was special. Every weekend, no matter what else was out, we'd also see "The Terminator" at least once. The entire time it played, we kept going back. It was so obviously something special, something better than it had to be, and I found the whole thing so thrillingly made. I lost count of how many times we ended up seeing it, but without exaggeration, I know it was over 30. No matter what else Cameron does for the rest of his career, I don't think I will ever feel that same sheer overwhelming adoration that I did for "The Terminator," but that's mainly because it came out of nowhere and seemed like such a perfect example of how to take no money and make it work for you. That film works because, before anything, that script works, and that script is a perfect example of what you can do with very limited resources if you're smart. It is emotional, it is clever, and it is a beautiful example of how to structure an action film.

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TJ Miller and Damon Wayans Jr. talk about celebrating intelligence with 'Big Hero 6'
Credit: HitFix

TJ Miller and Damon Wayans Jr. talk about celebrating intelligence with 'Big Hero 6'

Disney's newest heroes are more brains than brawn and like it that way

While Baymax, the big soft robot, is the scene-stealing star of "Big Hero 6," there's another character who very nearly beat him for my kids when we saw it. Fred, played by TJ Miller, isn't actually a student at the high tech college where Hiro Hamada, the film's main character, meets the people who eventually become the crime-fighting team with him.

Instead, Fred is a fanboy for science, unabashed in his enthusiasm about the work being done by the other characters, including Hiro, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), and Wasabi Ginger (Damon Wayans Jr.), a tireless cheerleader to the others as they work. Miller's the perfect guy for the part, and if you follow him on Twitter, you no doubt saw his non-stop bombardment of images from Disneyland this weekend, where he seemed to be having an amazing time.

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