Review: A Star is Born

Starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga

Review: The Hate U Give

Starring Amandla Stenberg

Review: Venom

Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed

Review: Private Life

Starring Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti

Review: The Oath

Written, directed, and starring Ike Barinholtz


Benedict Wong Teases 'Avengers 4' Return And 'Doctor Strange' Sequel's Start Date

Wong played a big role in the first half of Avengers: Infinity War, before taking leave before the big battles really began. However it seems he managed to not get turned into dust like Doctor Strange did, and will be around to help take on Thanos in Avengers 4.

Speaking at a fan convention in Vancouver, Benedict Wong confirmed that he's shot some scenes for the upcoming Avengers sequel. Presumably these are real scenes and not fake ones meant to confuse the hovering press.  It's also possible Wong is seen in flashback or is just somebody else needing to be saved. Marvel has really done an extraordinary job keeping so much of the story secret considering how many eyes were on every phase of the shoot.

Wong also seems to think a Doctor Strange sequel is approaching faster than previously thought. While a spring start had been talked about before, the actor says he thinks it will kick off at the end of this year. That's roughly around the time booked for Guardians of the Galaxy 3 before it got shelved, and if true this suggests Marvel is reshuffling the decks considerably.  It would also make sense to move up Doctor Strange 2 if the character is to take a more prominent future role, as many expect him to.

For now, look for Wong and Doctor Strange to appear in Avengers 4 (just give us the title already!) in May 2019.


DC Readers: Attend A Free Early Screening Of 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Starring Melissa McCarthy

We're happy to offer our DC readers the chance to attend one of two free advance screenings of Can You Ever Forgive Me?, starring Melissa McCarthy.

SYNOPSIS: In CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel, the best-selling celebrity biographer (and cat lover) who made her living in the 1970’s and 80’s profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen.  When Lee found herself unable to get published because she had fallen out of step with the marketplace, she turned her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant).

We have two screening options for you to choose from. If you'd like to attend on Tuesday, October 16th at 7:00pm at Regal Majestic in Silver Spring, go to the Fox Searchlight ticketing site here.

If you prefer the Wednesday, October 24th, 7:00pm screening at AMC Tysons Corner, go to the Fox Searchlight site here.

Please remember that having passes does not guarantee entry as all screenings are first come first served. You will need to arrive early to assure receiving a seat. Enjoy the show!

Can You Ever Forgive Me? opens October 26th.

John Carpenter's Pissed About Dwayne Johnson's 'Big Trouble In Little China' Sequel

John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China is a beloved cult favorite now, but when it opened in 1986 the film was a dud. Carpenter and star Kurt Russell weren't able to maximize on the success of their previous collaborations, Escape from New York and The Thing, which came as a little bit of a surprise. When I was a kid I didn't know what a flop movie was, so I think I always expected there would be a sequel to the film. That obviously never materialized back then, but we're getting one now starring Dwayne Johnson. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like Carpenter has much to do with it, and certainly he isn't pleased.

Asked about the film by CinemaBlend, Carpenter made it clear that he's pretty angry this sequel is happening without his involvement...

“They want a movie with Dwayne Johnson. That’s what they want. So they just picked that title. They don’t give a shit about me and my movie. That movie wasn’t a success."

Clearly he's pissed, not necessarily that it's happening at all, but that it's happening in such a generic fashion. They wanted to make a movie with Dwayne Johnson and so they just dropped him into it whether he makes sense or not. To be fair, it HAS made sense financially for practically every franchise he's been added to. He didn't earn the nickname "Franchise Viagra" for nothing. So while I don't think there's a big enough audience to justify a Big Trouble in Little China sequel in general, adding Johnson to the mix should be more than worth it.


Netflix Deals A Death Blow To Marvel's 'Iron Fist', No Season 3

Well, here's one Hero for Hire whose headed to the unemployment line. In a shocker move, Netflix has canceled Marvel's Iron Fist and there will be no season three.

This is a surprise only because there had been such a marked improvement with season two. The first season was so bad it had become the ass end of jokes about Marvel's Netflix shows, and star Finn Jones the only guy fans seemed to genuinely hate. But reviews for the sophomore effort were much better, including for Jones, and I think there was real enthusiasm for where his character might go.

Here is the joint statement issued by Netflix and Marvel: “Marvel’s Iron Fist will not return for a third season on Netflix. Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is proud of the series and grateful for all of the hard work from our incredible cast, crew, and showrunners. We’re thankful to the fans who have watched these two seasons, and for the partnership, we’ve shared on this series. While the series on Netflix has ended, the Immortal Iron Fist will live on.”

I think that last line is key: "the Immortal Iron Fist will live on."  This probably does not spell the end of Danny Rand. We could see him pop up in any number of shows, and I believe the possibility of a Power Man and Iron Fist series co-starring Mike Colter could still happen, and there's no way the popular Misty Knight and Colleen Wing characters will vanish. I also think this is the way of the future for Marvel, and eventually all of their Netflix output will migrate over to their new streaming service. They've denied that in the past, but why in the Hell wouldn't they do it?

DC Readers: Enter To Win Passes For A Free Early Screening Of 'Halloween'

Halloween has come early! Michael Myers is back in David Gordon Green's Halloween, and we are offering our DC readers the chance to attend an early screening of the anticipated horror sequel!

SYNOPSIS: Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

The screening takes place on Tuesday, October 16th at 7:30pm at AMC Mazza Gallerie. If you'd like to enter, simply complete the required steps in the Rafflecopter contest form below. Complete all of the steps to increase your chances. Winners will be selected on Sunday, October 14th and notified by email. Good luck!

Halloween hits theaters on October 19th. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

'High Life' Trailer: Robert Pattinson & Juliette Binoche Journey Into Deep Space

While the plot of Claire Denis' first English-language film High Life may read like just another space exploration disaster movie in the  vein of Alien or Event Horizon, it's probably not a good idea to assume too much. The director behing White Material, Chocolat, Let the Sunshine In, and so many more has consistently subverted genre and we can probably expect her to do so once again with her first foray into sci-fi.

Robert Pattinson, still doing his best to avoid the spotlight, headlines as one of a number of prisoners sent into deep space on a dangerous mission they are unlikely to return from.  A Denis favorite, Juliette Binoche is on board as an unscrupulous scientist who sees the criminal passengers as her own personal guinea pigs. Mia Goth, Andre Benjamin, and Lars Eidinger co-star.

High Life will hit theaters in 2019.

Review: 'Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween' Does The Monster Mash With Less Jack Black

The original Goosebumps movie was more than just a tip of the hat to fans of R.L. Stine's horror novels for kids, they were an attempt to reach out and grab a new audience. The surprisingly sizable box office shows some accomplishment in that regard, but the seasonal sequel Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween has a much narrower focus. It's almost solely for those who enjoyed the first movie, which makes the strange, uneven presence of Jack Black such a puzzler.

As Stine himself, Black was by far the biggest name Goosebumps had but he wasn't guaranteed to return for the sequel. Two scripts, one with Black and one without, were written and somewhere along the way maybe the pages got mixed up. The first half of the film shows almost zero interest in Stine, and certainly there's no sign of Black. And then out of nowhere he pops up on the scene in what amounts to a glorified cameo, so out of place that it's like he wandered in from a different movie. Maybe he did? The House with a Clock in its Walls seems like a reasonable culprit.

Kids who have yet to partake in the gory frights of Blumhouse or Stephen King won't care about the bizarre casting. Goosebumps 2 is perfectly enjoyable Halloween entertainment, full of decent kid-friendly "scares", some passable monster effects, and a story that zips along enough that adults won't get too bored. In the Halloween-obsessed town of Wardenclyffe, best friends Sonny (It star Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) have a fledgling junk business, and in the process of cleaning out an old haunted-looking house they discover not only a blank R.L. Stine manuscript, but his evil ventriloquist's dummy, Slappy. When they open the book, Slappy is released into the world to cause all kinds of mischief.  Jack Black voiced Slappy in the first movie but in another nod to the sequel's fractured production, he's voiced by Mick Wingert even though Black is in the movie.

Slappy is by far the best thing Goosebumps 2 has going for it. The kids are pretty bland, and that includes Madison Iseman as Sonny's older sister Sarah. She joins them when Slappy uses his magical powers to turn Halloween costumes, decorations, and even candy (evil Gummi Bears!!!) into living creatures, forming his own makeshift family. But you kinda find yourself rooting for Slappy, who has the maniacal streak of Chucky without the homicidal tendencies.  He's not even really scary, more like a pest with delusions of grandeur and he makes a good foil for the misfit protagonists. While witches, mummies, and even a giant spider made of balloons stalk the neighborhood, truly the kids' biggest threat turns out to be the school bully.

I take that back. Their biggest threat is being overshadowed by gobs of CGI, fun as it may be, and then later by Jack Black. The funny thing about Stine is that he shows up to help save the day, but the first thing he does is recognize that there isn't really anything for him to do. So...why is he there at all? It's just weird. Much better, and integral to the story, are Wendi McLendon-Covey as Sonny's workaholic mom, and Ken Jeong their wacky neighbor, Mr. Chu, who perhaps is too invested in Halloween for someone without any kids.

Despite some clear problems director Ari Sandel was unable to keep masked, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween should be a treat to its target audience. Whether it's enough to warrant a third movie is unclear but if so let's hope they figure out what to do with Stine well in advance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Ryan Coogler Returning To Write And Direct 'Black Panther' Sequel

In ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe what is the highest-grossing film domestically? You might think it's one of the Avengers flicks, or maybe an Iron Man, but nope. It's Black Panther, which earned $700M stateside and $1.3B worldwide, becoming a cultural touchstone that saw audiences dressing up like refugees from Coming to America. With those numbers you just don't break up a good thing, and Marvel is going to let Ryan Coogler slip away the way he did for Creed 2. They've now signed him to write and direct Black Panther 2.

The sequel was never really in doubt, it was just a question of whether Coogler wanted to return. He's a busy guy with a lot of irons in the fire, including the drama Wrong Answer which will pair him up with frequent collaborator Michael B. Jordan. He's also exec-producing a Space Jam sequel with LeBron James.

Timing is also at play here. Coogler may begin writing the script next year to start shooting late 2019 or early 2020, which means we may not see Black Panther 2 until 2021. Other than Spider-Man: Far From Home in July 2019 there are no confirmed dates for anything beyond Avengers 4, so expect Marvel to do some shifting around. If Black Panther comes away with a Best Picture Oscar nomination as some expect, I wouldn't be surprised if the timing gets moved up.[THR]

'Aladdin' Teaser Trailer: Disney Takes You Inside The Cave Of Wonders

With the $1B+ success of Alice in Wonderland, Disney realized they may be on to something. Audiences who had grown up with so many of their animated classics were eager to see those stories revisited in live-action form, and so we've seen Maleficent, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and Cinderella all break the bank at the box office with many more adaptations to come. And next on the list is Aladdin, one of the key films in Disney's animation renaissance of the 1990s.

In a somewhat unusual move, Disney hired Guy Ritchie, best known for Brit gangster comedies and the Sherlock Holmes flicks, to go behind the camera. Not the guy you'd expect for a musical-fantasy set in a far off land, but based on the new teaser he may have been a good choice. The story follows street rat Aladdin (Mena Massoud) who earns three wishes from a magic Genie (Will Smith), which he hopes to use to win the heart of Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). 

Aladdin's discovery of Genie's lamp is teased here, but it's music and the mood which Ritchie looks to have gotten right. The desert land of Agrabah looks gorgeous, as well as the Cave of Wonders. Original composer Alan Menken is doing music for this version, as well, joined by Tim Rice, Howard Ashman, and La La Land songwriters Pasek & Paul.

Aladdin hits theaters on May 24th 2019.


Scarlett Johansson Is Finally Making Avengers-Level Pay For Her 'Black Widow' Movie

I don't normally give a shit about actor salaries, but in this case it means a little bit more than just a dumb list of highest-paid stars.  After ten years and seven Marvel appearances, Scarlett Johansson's reported $15M (Marvel disputes this number, btw) payday for the upcoming but still unannounced Black Widow film will put her on par with Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth for their Marvel roles. 

Of course, NONE of them are making bank like Robert Downey Jr., who was scoring $50M for the first Avengers movie. We're about to have the fourth one so that number has probably gone up. Just a little. 

This is a big deal because how Marvel goes the rest of Hollywood follows. Over the years we've seen repeated examples of the pay disparity between men and women. Actresses who are objectively bigger stars than their male counterparts routinely find themselves paid millions less. An example would be Michelle Williams, who saw supporting player Mark Wahlberg earn $1.5M just for reshoots on All the Money in the World while she practically made scale

Marvel has clearly seen the writing on the wall and heard the voices of those advocating for equal pay.  They would've had a Hell of a time explaining how ScarJo could possibly make less than others for their first solo movie.  And she isn't some special case, either, as Brie Larson is making $5M for Captain Marvel and that is bound to increase if the character becomes a centerpiece as most expect she will.  It's going to take time before the rest of Hollywood follows suit, but if Marvel keeps leading the way theywill eventually fall in line. [THR]