Superman has a long and, frankly, completely barking insane history.
One of the amazing things about a character like Superman is that because of his longevity, you can read through his publishing history and trace the various ebbs and flows of the comic industry. You can see how storytelling developed, and you can see how DC managed their key players because no matter what, Superman is always involved.
"Man Of Steel" is just a few weeks away now, and it is officially time to start getting very, very excited. Right now, fans are still speculating about what sort of riffs the new film will play on the long-established conventions of the character and the world around him. Will we see Lex Luthor in the new film? Is he a reporter for the Daily Planet? How do they handle Krypton's fate? Why does General Zod want him and how much does Superman know about his true identity as Kal-El?
Superman has a long and, frankly, completely barking insane history.
When you show a character onscreen doing something that is supposed to be genuine magic, the use of special effects and camera trickery is perfectly acceptable and even understood as a given. When you're showing a character onscreen who is performing stage magic, something meant to be an illusion performed for a live crowd, I find it far more problematic when I don't believe what I'm looking at. "Now You See Me" is energetic, well-cast, and very, very narratively busy, but it fails the most basic test for me: the magic is a bust, so nothing else matters.
I'm sure having David Copperfield consult and build things for you is a great anecdote for the press day, and they get the trappings of stage magic right, especially as it pertains to Las Vegas. But there's not a moment in this movie where it doesn't feel like a movie, like everything is heightened and slightly ridiculous and impossible, and for that reason, I find myself less able to engage with the genial caper film that uses magic more as set dressing than anything else.
Review: Will and Jaden Smith explore father-son dynamics against a science-fiction adventure backdrop in 'After Earth'
"After Earth" is, all things considered, a fairly small-scale story, and the conscious decision to create such a large world and then focus on two characters almost exclusively feels at first like a mistake. Ultimately, though, the film reveals that its true intent is to create a boy's adventure movie that externalizes the basic stresses and fears of parenthood, and its modest goals turn out to be an asset. This may not be the biggest bang for the buck this summer, but it's lovely to see something that is sincere, thematically focused, and that ultimately works in a way I didn't expect.
M. Night Shyamalan has entered the phase of his career where there is a certain amount of baggage that prevents a percentage of the audience (and the film press) from even remotely approaching a new film by him with an open mind. It's been fascinating to watch the fall from newly-annointed genius in 1999 to openly-reviled punchline in 2013. While he courted a certain amount of that with his Newsweek cover story and his self-commissioned immolation-in-book-form "The Man Who Hears Voices" and his ludicrous "documentary" about the making of "The Village," it is still discouraging to watch people spend weeks warming up for a new film of his by practicing their snark and trotting out their complaints about his prior work. At this point, Sony barely even acknowledged him in the marketing for this film, a clear indication that they were aware of the issue, and even so, I see people piling on already, and I'm baffled.
Will Smith may finally be human.
For well over a decade, he has been the Bulletproof Movie Star, the one guy who maintained a real degree of stardom even in an age where they're starting to prove that movie stars aren't really what drives this industry anymore. These days, for the first time, it feels like he's working a little harder to sell each film because he realizes it's not enough anymore to just show up.
Smith, though, is in that same class of guy as Tom Cruise, guys who have avoided the curse of movie stardom by making strong choices and working with great collaborators, and even when I don't like the films he makes, he impresses me because of the way he manages things. Do I wish he'd starred in "Django Unchained"? Sort of. I loved Jamie Foxx in the film in the end, but there would be something wonderful about watching Smith subvert his own image in a film like that.
Mad Max. Bane. Bronson. And… Sir Elton John?
That could happen. "Rocketman" is being developed right now by director Michael Gracey and executive producer Elton John, and it's being described as "a biographical musical fantasy that weaves together the life of Sir Elton John and his music."
Bernie Taupin is a key supporting role, and John Reid is also evidently key to the story, but obviously, the main draw here is going to be seeing someone try to bring to life the flamboyant contradictions of Elton John's performing persona. After witnessing what Michael Douglas did with the role of Liberace, I can imagine a number of actors lining up o try o get a chance to play Elton.
Right now, the project is out to Tom Hardy. That doesn't mean they've made him a formal offer yet, or even that he's interested, but it's an intriguing possibility. What I find most compelling about it is that Hardy seems like a guy who embodies a certain form of physical machismo, but who challenges that appearance at every turn. I like that. I think guys like Hardy will help to shatter traditional notions of what a "leading man" is or isn't allowed to do on film, and every little bit of that helps.
This was a strange one.
Not because of the cast of "The East," keep in mind, but simply because of my own scheduling snafu over the weekend. I flew to El Paso, TX, so I could attend a press event for "After Earth," and I was set to fly back to LA on a Friday night. Unfortunately, my flight, the last flight out of El Paso got cancelled, and so when the press day for "The East" took place on Saturday, I was still in Texas.
The only compromise we could find, thanks the way we had the rest of Team HitFix scheduled, was to have one of Fox Searchlight's publicists read my questions for the cast, so technically, this may be my interview, but I wasn't there.
It's a shame, too. I'd like to meet Brit Marling and talk to her about the work she's been doing for the last couple of years. I'm intrigued by the subjects she's drawn to as a writer and by the choices she makes as a performer, and "The East" certainly fits, thematically speaking, with "Sound Of My Voice."
This doesn't surprise me at all.
I saw The Wrap's Jeff Sneider recently at a screening of "Star Trek Into Darkness," and as we were waiting to head into the auditorium, we were talking about the tenuous nature of James Bond director rumors.
Team EON is legendarily specific about what they do and how they approach the process of collaboration, and one of the things that has been interesting to watch over the course of the Daniel Craig era has been the evolution of their thinking about who to hire to direct the films. The Bond series has been steered by some workhorses, some modestly respectable industry journeymen, and some guys promoted from other departments on the series who were as close to a Home Team as possible. Until recently, though, they didn't reach out to the A-list with any sort of serious intent.
James Gunn's "Guardians Of The Galaxy" promises to be one of the strangest of the Marvel movies so far, and that excites me.
Drew Pearce, who collaborated with Shane Black on the "Iron Man 3" script, was almost hired to work on the final polish for this film, but it looks like Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely will be doing the final polish on the script that Nicole Perlman and Chris McCoy wrote instead.
Quick side note… is Perlman the first female writer on a Marvel movie?
In a lot of ways, Marvel is treating "Guardians" as the beachhead for a new chapter of the universe, and they're seeding the film with archetypes that have worked well for them. Chris Pratt is onboard as Star-Lord, who is also known as Peter Quill, and they're looking to him to be the Robert Downey Jr. of this franchise. Fast, funny, able to play emotional while still getting big laughs.
I wouldn't say that Rick Linklater and I are friends, because that implies more familiarity than there actually is, but I would say that after spending over a decade going to film events in Austin, we're friendly. There's that moment of recognition when we run into each other, and that certainly made for a nice shortcut when I showed up at the Four Seasons on Tuesday to talk to him about his latest film, "Before Midnight."
The film opens today in limited release in NY, LA, and Austin, and then goes wider on June 14th. It is absolutely one of the best films you're going to see this year, and I think it enriches an already wonderful series by adding the perspective that only comes with time.
Time seems to be something that interests Linklater, and the impact it has on narrative in his work is something that seems to me to be worth closer inspection. The nine years between each of the films in the "Before" series have to pass, because the films only work if there is real life experience that each of the performers can bring to the table when they get back together to start writing each film. The kids we see in "Before Sunrise" have very little in common with the adults who star in "Before Midnight," but because there's that film in the middle between the two, it's possible for us as an audience to see how they've gotten from one point to the other.
Ever since the record-annihilating opening weekend of "The Avengers" last year, I've been hearing speculation and questions about whether or not other studios who have the rights to certain Marvel characters would end up trying to strike a deal with Disney and Marvel Studios to include those characters in some sort of cross-over situation that would allow them to appear in a future "Avengers" film.
At the moment, I would not bet on that happening with 20th Century Fox.
This is not a situation where the two different companies are working together to try and create a sense of a larger shared world. In fact, if either of them could get the other to back off, they would. The thing is, Bryan Singer has designed a sequence that he feels only works with Quicksilver, and Joss Whedon feels that there is a pressing reason for Quicksilver to show up in "The Avengers 2," and so what we're going to see is a legally-negotiated stand-off in which we'll get two totally different versions of one character. While they may act like things are amicable in public, HitFix sources say otherwise.