Review: Disney's Big Hero 6!

Based on the Marvel Comics superheroes!

Review: Christopher Nolan's Interstellar

Does Interstellar live up to the incredible hype?

Toby Kebbell Talks 'Fantastic Four' Reboot

Doctor Doom is a what now??

11/26/2014

Natalie Portman in Talks to Join Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs Biopic



This is how quickly things can change for a Hollywood production, given that it has enough potential. The Danny Boyle-directed, Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs biopic was dumped by Sony only days ago, and already it has a new studio at Universal and a confirmed star in Michael Fassbender. So what's next? How about another big name in Natalie Portman?

According to Deadline, Portman has entered negotiations to join the film, which is based on Walter Isaacson's best-selling biography. There's no word on her role but a couple of major female leads are yet to be filled, with Jessica Chastain said to be eying one of them. Steve Jobs' daughter is said to be a central character, and so is Joanna Hoffman, Apple's former head of marketing for the Mac. Portman hasn't appeared in a film this year, and only had Thor: The Dark World last year, so it's good to see her attached to a project this big. She does have a couple of Terrence Malick movies on the way, plus the troubled Western Jane Got a Gun.

Production on the film is set to begin in the winter, so expect more news to come soon.

Vince Vaughn Goes On a Business Trip in First Trailer for 'Unfinished Business'


Good for Vince Vaughn that he'll get a chance to show what will presumably be a much darker side on HBO's True Detective next year, but he knows where his bread is buttered. That would be comedies just like Unfinished Business (formerly Business Trip), which put him back as the everyman in a film that looks like Planes, Traines, and Automobiles meets Old School.

Rejoining his Delivery Man director Ken Scott, with Dave Franco, Nick Frost, James Marsden, Sienna Miller, and Tom Wilkinson co-starring, Unfinished Business has Vaughn as a businessman who goes on a European trip to secure a major deal. Of course it goes sideways and soon he's going toe-to-toe with his old boss. This looks like standard course stuff for Vaughn, but the tone of this NSFW trailer shows there may be some dramatic edges. A few, but clearly not too many.

Unfinished Business opens March 6th 2015.

Review: ‘Penguins of Madagascar,’ starring Tom McGrath, John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch


I have seen Dreamworks Animation’s “Madagascar” films and barely remember them, and I’ve never seen an episode of “The Penguins of Madagascar” television show on Nickelodeon (how has it been on for five seasons?!), so clearly I am not the target demographic for “Penguins of Madagascar,” the spinoff film meant to tide us over until 2018, when “Madagascar 4” is released. And yet there are still some jokes here that work for the casual viewer, some sly pop-culture references that aren’t too on-the-nose, and some solid (if not totally inspired) voice acting from the likes of John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch. “Penguins of Madagascar” isn’t all bad, even if it doesn’t really make a case for why it should exist in the first place.

Because at this point, there are nearly 150 episodes of the “Penguins” TV show, and so what goes on in this film isn’t that groundbreaking or forward-thinking. The foursome of penguin friends have distinct, definitive personalities at this point, and those aren’t really going to change: authoritative Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), clever Kowalski (voiced by Chris Miller), rowdy-yet-nonverbal Rico (voiced by Conrad Vernon), and adorable Private (voiced by Christopher Knights). The crisis they deal with in “Penguins of Madagascar,” from a vengeful octopus bent on transforming cuteness into ugliness, won’t have long-lasting effects, because why do anything to mess with a television show that is currently running and a future sequel that already has a release date?

So the urgency here is totally lacking, and “Penguins of Madagascar” doesn’t strive to be a film that has a real emotional message (in contrast to this year’s “Big Hero 6,” for example) or any kind of teachable moments (like Dreamworks’s own “How to Train Your Dragon 2”). Instead, get ready for a barrage of fart jokes (why else name a covert spy group the North Wind if not to wring every bathroom-humor opportunity out of it?), cinematic references (from “Planet of the Apes” to “Life of Pi”), and chaotic chase scenes that are, admittedly, a riot of color and design. As exhausting “Penguins of Madagascar” is because of the speediness of its storytelling, at least its pacing will keep younger audiences interested.

The film begins with backstory, presenting how Skipper, Kowalski, and Rico became friends and how they saved the cuter, younger Private from certain doom; over the years, they then traveled the world together, showed up in the “Madagascar” films, and became residents of the Central Park Zoo. All the while, they’ve operated like mercenaries or commandos, conducting super-secret missions that belie their sense of self-importance—until an infiltration of Fort Knox so they can obtain their favorite cheesy snack is foiled by Dave the Octopus (voiced by John Malkovich), an eight-tentacled, purple mollusk looking for revenge.

Dave has been resentful for years that when they were all at the Zoo together, the penguins stole his adoring crowds, and he’s come up with a plan to get rid of cutesy penguins forever: blasting them with a ray gun full of Medusa Serum, which will turn them ugly, deformed, and unlovable. (Yes, this is essentially the same plot from “Despicable Me 2,” where the minions were turned into out-of-control monsters.) Skipper et al. won’t stand for this, so they decide to take Dave down—until they’re undermined by the North Wind, a secret animal crime-fighting society. Led by a wolf who goes only by the moniker Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), the North Wind have better gadgets than the penguins, more professional strategies, and an even more inflated sense of importance. Whether the penguins and the North Wind can actually work together is an important question, and whether they stop Dave in time is another.

How much more bare bones could the plot get? Not much. There is a sole female character who is supposed to be a super spy but only succeeds in being desired by Kowalski. Skipper wants Classified’s respect and Private wants Skipper’s respect, but that’s about all the self-reflection these characters do. And with all the visual gags (the fact that penguins can’t fly is used again and again) and action sequences (a chase scene through the canals of Venice is very nice, but a long stop in China feels like pandering to the international box office), there isn’t much time to explore any vaguely serious themes. Unless you count making fun of old people being confused by Skype, or joking about National Public Radio pledge drives, or mocking French tax law as sophisticated concepts. And if you don’t, well, there’s always Rico’s ability to eat and then regurgitate everything in sight!

The humor aimed at adults is certainly strange, the characters don’t grow in any way, and there are no stakes to speak of, but there are enough sight gags and silly jokes in “Penguins of Madagascar” to make children laugh. But a generation-spanning film, this one isn’t. 

 Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Who Would Win? Flash vs. Arrow in New Trailer for 'The Flash'



Okay so I'm still a couple of weeks behind on The Flash, although I'm completely caught up on Arrow, and all I've been hearing about for the last week is this big crossover episode. Next week the CW will begin the first in their two-part crossover between The Flash and Arrow, which they've been hyping as a battle between the two superheroes. Well, kinda, except this new trailer makes it clear Flash (Grant Gustin) and Arrow (Stephen Amell) have different tactics but are ultimately on the same side. Frankly, I'm on the side of whoever lets me see more of Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak.

The Flash/Arrow crossover begins December 2nd on The Flash and concludes December 3rd on Arrow. Check out the episode synopsis followed by the trailer below.

Barry (Grant Gustin) is thrilled when Oliver (guest star Stephen Amell), Felicity (guest star Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (guest star David Ramsey) come to Central City to investigate a case involving a deadly boomerang. Excited about teaming up with his friend, Barry asks Oliver if he’d like to help him stop Ray Bivolo (guest star Paul Anthony), the meta-human Barry is currently tracking. Bivolo causes people to lose control of their emotions and has been using that skill to rob banks. Unfortunately, the superhero partnership doesn’t go as smoothly as Barry expected. When Oliver tells Barry he still has a lot to learn, Barry sets out to prove him wrong by attempting to stop Bivolo alone. However, when Bivolo infects Barry and sets him on a rage rampage, everyone is in danger, and the only one who can stop him is the Arrow. Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton) is furious when Eddie (Rick Cosnett) tries to get a task force to stop The Flash, Joe and Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) agree the Arrow is a bad influence on Barry, and Caitlin and Cisco deal with a new team in S.T.A.R. Labs. 


The Flash - FLASH VS. ARROW Trailer by Chroneek

New Trailer and Homage Posters for 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'


Maybe it was the crowd that was waiting with baited breath for the Marvel and DC presentations, but the footage from Kingsman: The Secret Service went over like a lead balloon at Comic-Con last summer. That must have been distressing for director Matthew Vaughn since the crowd there is exactly who they are appealing to. The film is based on the graphic novel by comics scribe Mark Millar (who also created Kick-Ass and Wanted), and it's basically a throwback to when spy movies were meant to be fun. And we see the fun Vaughn and Co. are having with the film in the latest trailer, plus four new posters spoofing James Bond's For Your Eyes Only.

Keeping his gentlemanly demeanor while beating up thugs with his umbrella, Colin Firth plays a Bond-esque secret agent who is tasked with introducing an unrefined street kid (Taron Egerton) into the espionage world. This one is full from top to bottom with spy riffs and looks like a lot of fun, especially Samuel L. Jackson as the eccentric, lispy villain.

Kingsman: The Secret Service opens February 13th.






Guillermo Del Toro Talks 'Pacific Rim 2'; Charlie Day and Burn Gorman to Return



Guillermo Del Toro is always making the press rounds for something because he takes on so many projects, and lately he's been pushing the DVD/Blu-Ray release of The Strain's first season. Of course that means he's going to get asked about other projects like Pacific Rim 2. The script for that one is coming together now that it has been officially confirmed, and while Del Toro has previously said some characters may not return we know two that definitely will: Charlie Day and Burn Gorman as scientists Newt Geiszler and Hermann Gottlieb.

Del Toro went on to reveal to Collider that the sequel takes place a few years after the last film's conclusion, and things have definitely changed...

"It’s a few years after the first one.  It’s not an immediate follow-up.  It is the world having been freed of Kaiju, what happens to the world after – what happens to the Jaeger technology once the Kaiju are not a threat.  It’s quite a jump."

So if there are no kaiju, does the world need scientists like Geiszler and Gottlieb? Maybe not, but there's always room for some comic relief...

"It’s quite a different movie from the first one in that, but I think that two of our main characters like in the first one are Burn and Charlie.  They are really, really – I mean, honestly, they are probably the guys I have the most fun writing along with Hannibal Chau so just from a purely selfish drive, I like writing them.  I love writing for Charlie and Burn.  I mean, [Burn's] in Crimson Peak for that reason, because I love working with him.  You’re gonna get a lot of that, but the Kaijus are very different and you’re gonna see a very different type of the robots I think.  It’s gonna be quite a different adventure."

A totally different status quo from the outset, but we know there will be plenty of new kaiju and jaeger designs so don't expect it to last.  Pacific Rim 2's script is being worked on by Zak Penn and Travis Beacham, with the film due to open April 7th 2017.

What’s Up with “The Walking Dead”: Recap of episode “Crossed”


Hello! It’s been a while, my fellow Walking Dead watchers, and I apologize for keeping you hanging without a recap for the episode “Consumed” last week. What can I say? All of that emotion between Carol and Daryl had me in a tizzy! They are best friends, you guys, and I came into this week’s episode very concerned about the lengths to which Daryl would go to save Carol.

So that was a major question heading into this week’s “Crossed,” but The Walking Dead writers also answered a few more questions for us: What is going on with Abraham and Co.? What about Beth and her extremely boring adversary, Dawn? How is Sasha’s grieving of Bob going? And will Father Gabriel ever understand that zombies WILL EAT YOU if you don’t do anything to stop them? Important questions, all of which were answered … well, somewhat.

“Crossed” was clearly a setting-up-stakes episode before this upcoming Sunday’s mid-season finale, “Coda” (our last new episode until February!), but that’s ultimately fine. The narrative urgency of previous weeks was somewhat lost by checking in with everyone, and the various subplots’ timelines were confusing (hasn’t it only been a couple of hours for Abraham and his group, but days for Carol and Daryl?), but we’ve got clear problems to be solved for next week. Carol needs to be saved. Sasha needs to figure out her shit. Father Gabriel needs to get it together. And if Daryl somehow tops his zombie-head-as-a-bowling-ball-weapon gimmick (here, watch this gif!), that would be impressive and great!

Anyway, let’s cover the various things that happened in “Crossed.” Even though we all know it doesn’t get better than Daryl’s resourcefulness, honestly.

+ “We all owe Carol.” “I owe her more.” Oh, Rick. Always nice to see some humbleness from him, especially when it’s coupled with ruthlessness – notice the cold way he mentions cutting a guard’s throat to rescue Beth and Carol. His plan is questioned by Tyreese, and then eventually brought down by Daryl (who agrees that Tyreese’s idea of taking prisoners first and then trading for Beth and Carol instead of just going in there and killing people right away), but as we see how rapidly Rick’s people get overwhelmed (why would you turn your back to your hostage, Sasha?!), maybe they should have listened to the onetime officer Grimes. Their attempt to talk their way into getting Beth and Carol might work … maybe. But only because Dawn is so ineffectual, which leads to …

+ “I thought you were weak. You’ve proved me wrong.” What is Dawn’s endgame with Beth, exactly? First she accuses Beth of killing Carol by exclaiming her outrage at them taking her off the life support machines; then she gives Beth the medicine cabinet key to save her. What the what? My excitement over how rapidly The Walking Dead handled the Garth and Terminus storyline has been steadily tempered by how long we’re spending in this Atlanta hospital with Dawn, especially since she’s utterly unbelievable as a hardass leader. Maybe it’s the actress or maybe it’s just the shallowness of the character, but I find her not at all compelling. True, the hospital has given us some opportunities to see Beth’s adaptability – love her bribing that patient with strawberries as a way to get the attention off her while she raids the medicine cabinet for Carol – but still, why spend so much time on this subplot? We get it, people in authority positions turn into jerks. No surprise there, given what we saw happen all those seasons ago with Shane. Dawn hasn’t exemplified anything we haven’t seen before, so here’s hoping next week wraps up this hospital storyline for good.

+ “Get over yourself.” Maggie, showing some spine! You know, as much as Beth is holding her own in the hospital, Maggie is holding her own with Abraham; nice to see the separated sisters each being self-actualized this week. Since Abraham punched Eugene in the face and knocked him out, Maggie has stepped into being responsible for the fake scientist, while Abraham is doing some kneeling vigil thing by the side of the road, refusing water and contact with anyone. It’s when he threatens Rosita (is that any way to treat a woman who will have sex with you while your creepy mulleted friend watches, Abraham?!) that Maggie refuses to put up with his shit any longer (the delivery of “Sit down or I’ll put you down” was nicely ice cold), and I liked that they stayed together while Glenn, Tara, and Rosita went off to forage.

Of all the subplots, this might have been the most hopeful this week: Abraham finally drinks the water Maggie gives him; Eugene finally wakes up; we finally get some Rosita backstory (“He saw what I could do, and he wanted my help,” she says of meeting Abraham; it would be more touching if we actually saw what Rosita could do, though); Glenn’s resourcefulness returns (catching fish like a boss!); and Tara’s weirdness finally clicks, as she revels in finding a yo-yo and nicknames their group GREATM. I can finally remember her name because she finally has a personality, you guys!

+ “Are you going to take the cross, too?” “If we need it.” Father Gabriel continues his self-hatred parade this week, fucking up his fingers as he obsessively tries to clean the blood from Gareth and Co. off the floorboards; arguing with Michonne when she tries to persuade him that “the things that we do, they’re worth it”; and eventually cutting himself an escape hole through the floor of the boarded-up church where Carl, Michonne, and Judith are hiding out until Rick, Tyreese, Daryl, and Sasha return from the hospital, theoretically with Carol and Beth in tow. But since Father Gabriel is inherently useless, he lands on a nail and basically tracks zombies to him through his blood loss – and then he stops himself from killing one who attacks him because she is wearing a cross.

Dammit, Father Gabriel! Your Christianity is doing nothing for you! Just let it go! Otherwise you are not long for this post-apocalyptic world, my friend (and yet I want Seth Gilliam to continue being on this show, because Sgt. Carver forever).

+ “You’re still a cop.” “No, the real ones are all gone.” Did you recognize Officer Bob Lamson, the one who Noah identifies as a good guy, who chats with Rick, and who smashes Sasha’s head into the window? If so, then you don’t watch FX’s The Americans, and you should! That is actor Maximiliano Hernandez, and he is really good, and let’s hope he sticks around The Walking Dead a bit longer. We’ll see how that shakes out next week, I suppose.

And some final things I liked:

+ “It might work. This will work.” I appreciate Rick’s conviction when Tyreese suggests his less-violent plan, but it’s a sign of Rick’s open-mindedness that he goes for it. Nevertheless, his pragmatic ruthlessness is my favorite thing.

+ “They were liars and murderers.” “Just like us?” Oh, Father Gabriel, your existential babble does not work on Michonne! She will not stand for this! Just don’t argue with her and you’ll be fine.

+ “Do you want me to shoot you?” “Thought I did.” Welcome back, Abraham. May your facial hair continue to thrive in this post-Eugene-admission landscape.

Two Clips from Russell Crowe's Directorial Debut, 'The Water Diviner'



Russell Crowe has been dabbling in filmmaking for awhile, but next month his native Australia will have a chance to check out his directorial debut, The Water Diviner. The rest of us will have to wait until next year to see if Crowe can make a similar leap as fellow A-lister Angelina Jolie, or if he should stay in front of the camera.

The first two clips from The Water Diviner have been released, which has Crowe pulling double duty as the star. Set in 1919 after the Battle of Gallipoli, Crowe plays a father who travels to Turkey to locate his missing sons, declared missing in action. The first clip mostly centers on a mustachioed Jai Courtney as a soldier aiding in the search, while the second clip shows a daring rescue from a terrible dust storm.

Also starring Olga Kurylenko, The Water Diviner opens April 24th 2015.



11/25/2014

Review: 'Horrible Bosses 2' starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, and Charlie Day


Here's the thing about Horrible Bosses: it's pretty funny....at first. There's a lot to love about a film that is basically mean-spirited wish fulfillment about the desire we've all had to do awful things to our bosses. Who wouldn't like that? Try to watch it again lately? It doesn't hold up, and certainly doesn't beg for a sequel. But it made $200M and so now we have Horrible Bosses 2, a lame and uninspired follow-up directed by the guy who inflicted That's My Boy on you a couple of years ago.

Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis return as Dale, Nick, and Kurt, but they weren't the funniest part of the first film; the bosses were! That's the case here, as well, with Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey returning to indulge in the chance to play nasty and depraved, and we love them for it. The plot this time around has the moronic trio deciding to launch their own business, so THEY are now the horrible bosses in question. Well, they aren't actually bosses until they hire employees, right? Enter Christoph Waltz as a sleazy rich businessman with Chris Pine as his son Rex, who proceeds to cheat the guys out of millions of dollars, ruining their company before it's even really started. So what do our murderous heroes do in retaliation? Well they can't plot another murder because that didn't turn out so well (although they got what they wanted out of it), so instead the guys decide to kidnap Rex for a hefty ransom.

Okay, so it's a given that the crime would be a total dud and that they'd mess up every single facet of it, but what's weird is how much the trio have changed. Dale is pretty much the same; still fighting off his oversexed boss Julia (Aniston), but Nick and Kurt are completely different. Nick was the "brains" of the operation last time, certainly smart enough not to fall into the kind of financial trap (he was an economics wiz in the first movie!) that screws them over this time. Kurt is such a creepy womanizer now that it's hard to like him at all. The only thing that gets them by is the easy chemistry between the three actors; they are genuinely fun to watch together because it seems like so much of the best gags are unscripted. That's a good thing because the actual screenplay by John Morris and Sean Anders (the aforementioned That's My Boy director) is underwhelming at best. To be fair, Anders also directed Sex Drive which is vastly underrated, but he doesn't seem to "get" Horrible Bosses and never makes good use of the concept or the cast. This time around we're meant to hate the slick corporate CEOs, the ones who get $50M golden parachutes to reward their failures and get rich on the backs of working stiffs. That's all fine, but the problem is that the bad guys aren't completely heinous here, at least not in comparison to three guys who can now add kidnapping to their growing criminal resume. In fact, it's Spacey's imprisoned character who sums up our heroes (and the film) perfectly when he says "You're all fucking morons".

While Aniston, Spacey, and the returning Jamie Foxx as "Motherfucker" Jones are great, they are firmly in the background this time and not key to the plot, which is a huge mistake. Waltz, who we can all admit is one of the best actors working today when it comes to playing villains, doesn't make any kind of impression. On the flip side, the generally-bland Chris Pine has maybe found his calling in roles that allow him to get a little crazy.  Horrible Bosses 2 has a few moments, but it's hard to escape the feeling that this film simply didn't need to happen, and there aren't enough laughs to justify its existence.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Ridley Scott won't Direct 'Blade Runner 2'


We've known for awhile that Ridley Scott was looking to toy around with another of his sci-fi classics, only this time it would be Blade Runner rather than Alien. While some may not have been feeling how Prometheus turned out (you're getting a sequel anyway!), a Blade Runner follow-up does hold a certain amount of promise if only because it won't have an entire franchise to navigate. Scott has been dodgy on whether he'd direct, but as the pieces are starting to come together he's now confirming someone else will take the reins.

Speaking with Variety, Scott said he'll be in a producer role for Blade Runner 2 but wouldn't reveal who would direct. He will be working closely with Hampton Fancher on the screenplay, though...

Scott: “We talked at length about what it could be, and came up with a pretty strong three-act storyline, and it all makes sense in terms of how it relates to the first one."

Harrison Ford previously confirmed his return as Rick Deckard, and Scott spills a small spoiler on the character's specific part to play...

Scott: “Harrison is very much part of this one. But it’s really about finding him. He comes in in the third act.”

A director will need to be announced soon as production is expected to begin next year.