Review: Happy Death Day 2U

Starring Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard

Review: Alita: Battle Angel

From James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez

Review: Isn't It Romantic

Starring Rebel Wilson and Liam Hemsworth

Review: Fighting With My Family

Starring Florence Pugh as WWE Superstar Paige

2/20/2019

Obi-Wan Kenobi Series May Be Headed To Disney+


Whether Disney and Lucasfilm want to admit it or not, the perception they are creating is of pulling back on movies and focusing on Disney+.  Case in point, the long-rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi movie may becoming a streaming series, rather than hit the big screen.

A new rumor from StarWarsNewsNet says an Obi-Wan Kenobi series is a "top priority" for Disney+. For years there's been talk of Ewan McGregor returning to the role he played in the Star Wars prequels, except in a spinoff movie. The idea originally intended for that is apparently where the germ of this series comes from, as well, so if true don't be surprised if McGregor is asked to return. He's been more than open to it in the past.

This would be a limited event series of around six episodes, which sounds like a lot for an idea that was meant for a single movie. But at the same time it sounds too short for covering the vast amount we don't know about Obi-Wan.

This isn't official by any means, but if Disney is going to make any kind of announcement you can bet Star Wars Celebration is where it will happen.

2/19/2019

'Leaving Neverland' Trailer: Controversial Documentary Promises To Change The Way You Look At Michael Jackson


I had a hard time finding anybody who saw the controversial Michael Jackson doc, Leaving Neverland, while at Sundance a few weeks ago. The reasons for that are many: HBO would be putting the film out in two parts in early March, the four-hour runtime pretty much ruined your plans for the entire day, and who wants to spend their Sundance with something guaranteed to be a depressing experience? Because this wouldn't be one of those movies celebrating Jackson's musical genius and artistry, but a searing account of his alleged sexual abuse of young boys, accusations that have dogged his career even beyond the grave.

Directed by Dan Reed, the film visits the allegations that Jackson abused two boys in particular: James Safechuck and Wade Robson. Based on the new trailer HBO has released, we may never listen to Jackson's music the same way here. Or maybe we'll never want to listen to it again after this. Here's the synopsis:

This two-part documentary explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives, and siblings, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own.

HBO will release Leaving Neverland in two parts on March 3rd & 4th.

James Cameron Talks 'Avatar 2', Those "Pesky" Live-Action Elements, And Kate Winslet's Performance


James Cameron has done a pretty good job keeping details on his Avatar sequels under wraps, but he's finally starting to shed a little light. Avatar 2 arrives in 2020, and according to Cameron's comments to Empire, at the center of the story will be the relationship between Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who he left his human side for and established a life with her on Pandora. The sequel is set some years after the 2009 movie, with Jake and Neytiri now having an 8-year-old daughter...

“There’s a three-page argument scene between Jake and Neytiri, a marital dispute, very, very critical to the storyline. I wound up shooting it all from the point of view of the eight year old hiding under the structure and peeking in […] Having gone through the experience with [Sam Worthington] on Avatar, I now knew how to write the Jake character going forward across the emotional rollercoaster of the next four movies. It’s been tough on him. He’s done two pictures back to back now, because we did 2 and 3 together. He had to go to some dark places.”

That's Cameron also confirming the next two sequels were indeed shot back-to-back, however he adds that production is far from over. He's got all of the technical stuff done, but damned if those "pesky" humans aren't slowing things down...

“[Performance-capture] is the vast majority of the characters, and that is the vast majority of the running time of the film, but that pesky little live-action component is going to cost me five months of my life, across the two movies.”

One of the new additions to the franchise is Kate Winslet, making this a reunion with her Titanic director. Cameron talked to Vulture (via People) a little bit about her "gung-ho" performance as Ronal, a free-diving member of the Pandoran race...

“She was really excited about doing the water work and at her peak, I think she held her breath for seven-and-a-half minutes – not during the scene but just during the training. She was regularly doing two-or-three minute scenes, underwater acting and swimming.”

Cameron jokingly added...

“She was a dream to work with — not the pain in the a— that she was the first time. No, she was a dream on Titanic as well.”


Avatar 2 opens December 2020.

Nope, Armie Hammer Isn't In Talks For 'The Batman'


I saw this rumor yesterday and ignored it because, well, the source is Revenge of the Fans. It was too bold in its headline that "Armie Hammer Is In Final Talks To Be The Batman" that I knew it better to wait for a response from Hammer himself. Well, it didn't take long. You'll be shocked to learn the rumor is complete booshit.

In an interview with Yahoo UK to promote the overseas release of On the Basis of Sex, Hammer shot down any talks that he's on the verge of becoming the Caped Crusader...

“No one who can actually give me the job has asked me if I’m interested. I don’t even know if they’re done – I think they’re still working on a script. I don’t think that they’re close to production but I can conclusively tell you that no one has checked my availability, which is a bummer.”

So that's a no.

Perhaps someone got their wires crossed. Maybe they found a decade-old story about Hammer playing Batman in George Miller's canceled Justice League Mortal, and thought that shit was current. Whatever. Sourcing matters, just sayin'.

Anyway, Matt Reeves is expected to go young in his search for an actor to lead The Batman. Hammer is 32, which isn't exactly old, but I think they'll go even younger. With shooting to start by year's end, I expect we'll hear definitive casting news around Comic-Con time. The Batman opens on June 25th 2021.



'The Dirt' Trailer: Rock Out To Netflix's Motley Crue Biopic


With Bohemian Rhapsody out there making $850M and raking in Oscar nominations, the time is right for musical biopics to step into the forefront. Enter Netflix's Motley Crue drama, The Dirt, which looks like it will be far less safe of a depiction than the aforementioned Queen film.

Promising an unconventional approach is director Jeff Tremaine, known for directing Bad Grandpa and other films in the Jackass franchise.  The cast is rather out of left field, too: Daniel Webber plays singer Vince Neil, Game of Thrones' Iwan Rheon plays guitarist Mick Mars, Douglas Booth is Nikki Sixx, and rapper Machine Gun Kelly is drummer Tommy Lee.   Motley Crue and Neil Strauss' book The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band serves as the source material, with a screenplay by Rich Wilkes.

With Motley Crue recording four new tracks for the film I expect audiences will be rockin' out hard to this one. The Dirt hits Netflix on March 22nd.

'The Souvenir' Trailer: Honor Swinton Byrne And Tilda Swinton Star In The Sundance Award Winner


One of the standout films at this year's Sundance, Joanna Hogg's The Souvenir came away with the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. The buzz for it hasn't really let up, either, with A24 picking up the rights just prior to its premiere.  Much of the talk has centered around the performance of Honor Swinton Byrne, who has the unenviable task of living up to her famous mother, Tilda Swinton, and performing opposite her in the film. Although based on the reviews she held her own quite well, as did co-star Tom Burke.

Here's the synopsis for what appears to be a deeply-moving portrait of her past as a young aspiring filmmaker finding love where it was least expected: “A shy but ambitious film student (Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.”

The Souvenir opens on May 17th.


Gwyneth Paltrow Says Goodbye To Pepper Potts And The MCU


You know we're entering a different era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe because everybody seems to be saying goodbye to it. In 2008 the MCU launched with the groundbreaking release of Iron Man, and over the last ten years and twenty movies they have made history. Gwyneth Paltrow was a part of making that happen in her role as Pepper Potts, and through seven appearances grew from Tony Stark's assistant to his eventual fiancee. And now with her role in Avengers: Endgame coming up, Paltrow revealed to Variety that she's saying goodbye to the character,...

“I mean, I’m a bit old to be in a suit and all that at this point. I feel very lucky that I did it, because I actually got talked into it. I was friends with [‘Iron Man’ director] Jon Favreau. It was such a wonderful experience making the first ‘Iron Man’ and then to watch how important it has become to the fans.”

Paltrow made it clear that if Marvel ever needs to call on her, like maybe Potts needs to don the Iron Man armor again, she'll be there in a heartbeat...

“I feel honored to be a part of something that people are so passionate about. Of course, if they said, ‘Can you come back for a day?,’ I will always be there if they need me.”

Avengers: Endgame opens on April 26th.

New 'Godzilla: King Of The Monsters' Footage Unleashes Total Destruction


In just a few months, Godzilla will come stomping back into theaters. A new trailer for Godzilla : King of the Monsters has been unleashed and it's pretty much all wanton destruction, which is perfectly fine with me.

What I like about the footage we've seen, and this must be calculated by producers, is the sheer amount of action. The chief complaint of Gareth Edwards' 2014 film was that we didn't see enough Godzilla destroying things, and that is going to be rectified in a big way, especially with kaiju adversaries Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidora showing up. Let them fight!!!

The cast is also an upgrade. While Ken Watanabe and Zhang Ziyi are back, the new additions include Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and David Strathairn.

Directed by Michael Dougherty, Godzilla: King of the Monsters opens May 31st.


'Fighting With My Family' Trailer: Florence Pugh Goes For The Win As WWE Superstar Paige


At Sundance I had the good fortune to attend the world premiere of Fighting with My Family, the WWE Studios film about superstar and former champion Paige. My biggest takeaways from the film were that it was good to see pro wrestling used to tell a traditional underdog story, and that star Florence Pugh is about to emerge in a major way.

Pugh, who had previously earned acclaim for Lady Macbeth and The Little Drummer Girl, captures Paige's wild spirit which made her a favorite to WWE fans. She gets to show more of that in the latest trailer on Paige's rise from an indie wrestler from Norwich, England to WWE Women's Champion.  The film also stars Nick Frost and Lena Headey as Paige's parents, both well-known wrestlers in their own right, and Jack Lowden as her brother Zack, who shares her dream of making it to the WWE. Dwayne Johnson makes a couple of cameos playing himself, and serves as a producer. He and Paige both come from wrestling families, which is one reason he was drawn to the project.

The family had a soft opening last weekend, earning $165K. A full rollout begins on February 22nd. Check out the final trailer below.


2/18/2019

Marvel Enlists Ned Benson To Rewrite 'Black Widow'


Marvel has enlisted some help in bringing their long-awaited Black Widow movie to the screen. According to Collider, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby writer Ned Benson has been hired to give the Scarlett Johansson-led film a rewrite.

Benson will be taking over from Jac Schaeffer, who wrote the original draft. Marvel made sure to hire a woman director in Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome), so some may see the decision to hire Benson as somewhat off-message.But Benson's claim to fame is The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, a film that he rewrote with star Jessica Chastain as to put greater emphasis on the female perspective. He released separate but complimentary versions of the film, one subtitled Her and the other Him.  It was his work on that film which caught Johansson's eye, and she was apparently integral in the decision to hire him.

Marvel has been pretty tight-lipped about the Black Widow film, but it's expected to be a prequel set before she joins the Avengers.