<p>They may be leaning on Will Smith's name to sell the film, but Jaden Smith is easily the lead character in 'After Earth'</p>

They may be leaning on Will Smith's name to sell the film, but Jaden Smith is easily the lead character in 'After Earth'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Review: Will and Jaden Smith explore father-son dynamics against a science-fiction adventure backdrop in 'After Earth'

HitFix
B-
Readers
B+
Will M. Night Shyamalan ever get a fair shake again?

"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.

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<p>Will Smith seemed entertained to hear that there is a generation that considers his son the biggest movie star in the family when we sat down to talk about 'After Earth'</p>

Will Smith seemed entertained to hear that there is a generation that considers his son the biggest movie star in the family when we sat down to talk about 'After Earth'

Credit: HitFix

Will Smith plays the proud dad talking about Jaden Smith's work in 'After Earth'

What did I say to make the movie star laugh so hard?

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.

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<p>Elton John</p>

Elton John

Credit: Eltonjohn.com

Which unlikely choice could end up playing Sir Elton John in a biopic?

And will he wear his Bane mouthgear if he does get the part?

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.

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Alexander Skarsgard and Brit Marling would make the most Aryan babies in the history of the world.
Alexander Skarsgard and Brit Marling would make the most Aryan babies in the history of the world.
Credit: HitFix

Brit Marling and her collaborators on 'The East' talk about charisma and cults

An unconventional interview situation yields solid results

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."

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<p>'Direct the next movie, Sam.' 'I can't. Really. I've got so much stuff to do that I...' 'I&nbsp;SAID&nbsp;DIRECT&nbsp;THE&nbsp;NEXT MOVIE, SAM!&nbsp;DO&nbsp;IT!&nbsp;DO&nbsp;IT!&nbsp;DO&nbsp;IT!' '... I&nbsp;think I'll direct the next movie.'</p>

'Direct the next movie, Sam.' 'I can't. Really. I've got so much stuff to do that I...' 'I SAID DIRECT THE NEXT MOVIE, SAM! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!' '... I think I'll direct the next movie.'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Sam Mendes may return to direct 'Bond 24' after all

Did Cannes cost another director the gig?

 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.

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<p>Hmmm... why would I use a picture of Nova to illustrate a story about 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'? Why, indeed.</p>

Hmmm... why would I use a picture of Nova to illustrate a story about 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'? Why, indeed.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Will John C. Reilly join the Marvel Universe for 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'?

And if so, what does his character name suggest for the future?

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.

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<p>Rick Linklater is willing to wait if it means he'll get a great film out of it.</p>

Rick Linklater is willing to wait if it means he'll get a great film out of it.

Credit: HitFix

Richard Linklater on 'Before Midnight' and the relationship between narrative and time

How long until they discuss another film in this series?

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.

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<p>There's a chance Quicksilver will be joining this line-up, but first it looks like Marvel and 20th Century Fox may push their relationship to the breaking point in the process.</p>

There's a chance Quicksilver will be joining this line-up, but first it looks like Marvel and 20th Century Fox may push their relationship to the breaking point in the process.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Why are Fox and Marvel having a showdown over 'X-Men' and 'The Avengers 2'?

They can both use the same character, but will it be worth it?

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.

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<p>Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat seem genuinely happy to be awkward around each other once again in the new season of 'Arrested Development'</p>

Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat seem genuinely happy to be awkward around each other once again in the new season of 'Arrested Development'

Credit: HitFix

Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat talk about returning to the roles of loving cousins for 'Arrested Development'

Our conversation was an afternoon delight

When I first heard about "Arrested Development," the synopsis I read included a description of the relationship between George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) and Maeby Funke (Alia Shawkat), and my first thought was that it sounded incredibly tasteless and silly.

Now, of course, I'd say the opposite. I think the way the relationship between the two of them has been handled over the course of the show speaks to the way Mitchell Hurwitz and his amazing writing staff handle even the most difficult material. George Michael and Maeby are better people than any of the adults in their families. Maeby is a giant con artist, but is it any wonder? She would rather create one fantasy world after another than deal with the reality of Lindsay and Tobias, who can barely function as individuals, much less as a couple.

When I met Michael Cera for the first time, "Arrested Development" was already in his past, and while many of the cast members have been hounded by questions about the possibility of a return of the show, Cera has always somewhat avoided the issue, building a body of work for himself that stands separate from the show. When you're a young actor and you're known for one thing, I can see why you would want to show that you're able to play a range of things and you aren't just that one role. I thought the most interesting thing about his return to the series was the idea that he was part of the writer's room this time, giving him say in the fate of the Bluths.

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<p>Jordana Brewster holds the family together in 'Furious Six'</p>

Jordana Brewster holds the family together in 'Furious Six'

Credit: HitFix

Jordana Brewster talks about holding the family together in 'Furious Six'

One of the emotional lynchpins of the series discusses the newest film

I enjoyed the latest chapter in the "Fast and the Furious" series quite a bit, and part of what's finally won me over wholeheartedly is just how earnestly they handle all of the family stuff in the film.

Jordana Brewster plays Mia, the sister of Dominic Toretto, who is now married to Brian O'Conner, and it's because of her that the two guys, enemies in the first film, are now brothers in crime. She isn't involved in every major action sequence in the film, but she does play a crucial role, and towards the end of the movie, she gets a chance to get back into the thick of things.

Brewster looks like a 21st century Ali McGraw, and she is the necessary link between the characters. The clip you see at the start of this interview is an important moment in the movie, and it speaks to the way Justin Lin and Chris Morgan have approached these characters. Mia may have asked Brian to give up the life of crime, but she also knows that they are all stronger as a team.

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