Review: Ridley Scott's The Martian

Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and More

Review: The Walk

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Review: Sicario

Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro

Review: Addicted to Fresno

Starring Natasha Lyonne, Judy Greer, and Aubrey Plaza

Review: Partisan

Starring Vincent Cassel


First Trailer for the Coen Brothers' Hollywood Comedy 'Hail, Caesar!'

Any time the Coen Brothers have a new project it's a big deal, but Hail, Caesar! is a special case. In the works for years and delayed for one reason or another, fans of the duo have been waiting a long time for their star-studded riff on the Golden Age of Hollywood. While there's been some mixed signals on the tone, whether it's a wacky comedy or something more reserved, the first trailer suggests it will be their most theatrical effort since O Brother Where Art Thou?

Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Alden Ehrenreich, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, and Alex Karpovsky, the film centers on Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Brolin) as he tries to locate a kidnapped movie star.  The story takes place on a studio back lot and there are a number of big musical productions for the different movies being filmed. Tatum seems to be part of a sailor act while Johansson is part of a splashy water performance.

What this footage doesn't give away is the tone with some scenes echoing the Coens' dark, sardonic wit and others sticking closer to their "numbskull" comedies, of which Clooney has been part of every one. Hail, Caesar opens February 5th 2016.

Undead Invade the Austen Era in Trailer for 'Pride & Prejudice & Zombies'

The notion of blending zombies with the 19th century romances of Jane Austen may sound like the setup for a broad, Zombieland-esque comedy, but those who attended the Comic-Con panel for Pride & Prejudice & Zombies know that's not the intention. In fact, director Burr Steers admitted the goal was to achieve exactly the opposite by having the actors play everything straight. Will audiences want to see a zombie/romance mash-up that takes itself seriously? That's the question, but the first trailer, the same one released at Comic-Con, could help sway a few minds.

Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the film follows the basic premise of Jane Austen's classic, only it throws the undead and a lot of martial arts ass-kicking into the mix. The love story between Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) and Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) remains intact, only they're both also fierce kung fu warriors.  Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Charles Dance, Lena Headey, Matt Smith, Suki Waterhouse, Emma Greenwell, Aisling Loftus, and Douglas Booth co-star.

David O. Russell spearheaded the project initially and had Natalie Portman attached until both dropped out. There are still aspects of Russell's screenplay but just how remains unclear. That he and Portman were involved speaks highly to the uniqueness of the material.  Pride & Prejudice & Zombies opens February 5th 2016.

Review: 'He Named Me Malala', with Malala Yousafzai and Ziauddin Yousafzai

Having done so much already and spoken out against the Taliban for depriving women of education, it's hard to not have heard of young activist Malala Yousafzai. Named after Malalai, the Pashtun heroine, Malala was born and raised in the Swat valley of Pakistan. Encouraged by her father Ziauddin Yousafzai to love and value education, she stood up for women's right to be educated and at the precious age of 15, was shot in the head while on a bus for rebelling against the Taliban. Miraculously surviving the bullet but losing feeling in the left side of her face, Malala has relocated to England where she continues to learn and travel the world to speak about educating women.
Director Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman) has it easy this time around because the subject of He Named Me Malala has such an inspiring story and is so likable that Guggenheim serves merely to be the vehicle by which the story travels. Everyone who will watch the film will be familiar with Malala the activist and so Guggenheim starts the film by showing us Malala the person, the sister, and the daughter. The story isn't told in any sort of chronological order, but it goes at its own pace, never feeling rushed or jumbled. Malala's story is enhanced by the fact that she--besides being an activist, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a fantastic and inspirational public speaker--is a truly relatable person on so many levels. When she speaks there is no sense of a hero complex about her and her words carry because she is truly passionate about education.
One of the most endearing aspects of this superb documentary is the relationship between Malala and her father Ziauddin. There isn't anything boastful about the way it's presented, but you can tell that the two care for and are inspired by each other. The film breaks away from Malala very briefly to give us Ziauddin's background and how he was inspired by his father to speak passionately and publicly, even though he stammers, and how this was essentially passed down to Malala. Guggenheim accentuates all of the stories told prior to Malala's stand with clever and beautifully fluid animated sequences.
He Named Me Malala is well-made, inspiring, and full of moments that will touch your heart in ways many documentaries of this nature won't. Malala is every bit brave, passionate, and relatable. She's a young woman trying to fight for women's right to be educated and she is so genuine, sweet, yet firm in her choice of activism that it's honestly surprising she hasn't grown any kind of ego with all the attention she's received--making her all the more normal and notable in her efforts. Guggenheim doesn't have to reach very far to keep you interested in her or her story and it's a film everyone should aspire to see.


Iraq War Drama 'Sand Castle' Adds Henry Cavill and Luke Evans

Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Coimbra is hardly a household name, but that could change very soon. His directed the terrific kidnapping thriller, A Wolf At the Door (review here), and was also at the helm for episodes of Netflix's Pablo Escobar series, Narcos. His next film, Sand Castle, definitely won't go unnoticed as it is set to star three of Hollywood's top leading men, Henry Cavill, Luke Evans, and Nicholas Hoult.

Hoult has actually been on board the film since last year when there was a different director attached. This will be a reunion for Cavill and Evans who starred in Immortals together. Sand Castle is based on the memoir by Iraq War gunner Chris Roessner and his experiences in the Sunni Triangle. Hoult plays soldier Matt Ocre as he tries to win over the hearts and minds of Baqubah villagers while repairing a broken water system. Roessner adapted his own screenplay.

Filming begins next month which should give Cavill plenty of time before the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice press hype begins. Evans will be seen next in Ben Wheatley's High-Rise, and will play Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Don Cheadle Blows His Horn In First Clip from 'Miles Ahead'

A passion project of Don Cheadle's for years, there were plenty of times when it looked as if Miles Ahead wouldn't happen at all. His directorial debut would take a circuitous path, including a successful crowd-sourcing campaign, but now the film is set to debut at the New York Film Festival this weekend. For those of us who can't be there the first clip has arrived to give us a glimpse at Cheadle as the legendary jazz musician.

Far from your standard biopic, the film centers on the period of Davis' life in the '70s that found him out of the spotlight and dealing with his failed marriage to Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi). Ewan McGregor plays a Rolling Stone reporter who helps Davis recover his stolen music. In this clip we see Davis getting back into the studio and doing what he does best.

Sony Pictures Classics has the distribution rights and will release Miles Ahead at some point, but a date has not been set.

Review: 'Freeheld' Starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, and Steve Carell

The true story at the heart of Laurel Hester and Staciee Andree, chronicled previously in Cynthia Wade's inspiring 2007 documentary Freeheld: The Laurel Hester Story, makes an indisputable case for marriage equality in this country. That film worked on a number of levels, serving to fire up audiences at the mistreatment of two women whose love is treated as secondary to traditional unions. A lot has changed in the years since; the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling has leveled the playing field on a national scale, and sadly takes some of the fire out of Peter Sollett's well-meaning narrative drama. If poor timing were the only problem plaguing Freeheld it could be easily overcome, but it's actually in the transition from documentary to Hollywood feature that it loses a great deal of steam.

As previously stated, Hester (Julianne Moore) and Andree's (Ellen Page) story isn't without its share of thrills, miscarriages of justice, and outright denial of the basic human right to love who one wants. The problem is that Ron Nyswaner's screenplay goes out of its way to make their situation as average as people. It doesn't help that the central characters come across as unexciting, and their courtroom battles with New Jersey's Board of Chosen Freeholders isn't much better.

What saves the film somewhat are the lead performances by Moore and Page, the latter having put a lot of herself into bringing this story to the big screen. Hester is a tough-as-nails New Jersey cop keeping her sexuality tucked away in the closet, even from her loyal partner Dane Wells (Michael Shannon, purely in good guy mode) who may have a slight crush.  Because she has to hide so much of herself, Hester is essentially a loner until she meets up with the tomboyish Andree while playing volleyball. Despite the vast age difference, the two hit it off and soon settle into common domestic bliss. House with a garden, a dog, and bland everyday relationship troubles. Much of the film goes by without any kind of tension until a doctor's phone call reveals Hester's terminal cancer diagnosis, and even that goes by without causing much of a stir.

The second half of the film is where the conflict finally arises, as Hester battles with the board of Freeholders (Josh Charles plays one) to make sure her pension goes to Andree after her death. Despite state law allowing for that to happen, the conservative board rejects it so as not to rile up their base of supporters who don't care much for the gays. These encounters, mostly taking place in a tiny courtroom, hold little drama except for the pang of sadness you'll feel at watching Hester deteriorate. But there's also triumph in her defiant stance to make sure the woman she loves is cared for and protected after she's gone.

Moore, who won an Oscar for playing an ill woman in Still Alice, is once again the film's driving force. Page is solid in a role that doesn't require her to do much but stay on the sidelines and occasionally show signs of anguish. Steve Carell blows in like a tornado as Steven Goldstein, the wildly flamboyant head of an LGBT group supporting Hester's cause. It's possible that Goldstein is every bit as animated as he's portrayed in the film, but the moment Carell shows up it's like he walked in from some cheap Lifetime movie. Too much of Freeheld plays like a cinematic Wikipedia entry, minus any kind of drama. The struggle for any biopic is to remain true to the story while adding the creative flourish that every feature film needs, and Freeheld, despite its good intentions, never manages to do that.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Creepy New Teaser for Marvel's 'Jessica Jones' Introduces Purple Man

Marvel is slowly getting you ready for the release of Netflix's Jessica Jones with brief teasers introducing the troubled former superhero turned private detective. We know she's got anger problems, a drinking problem (or a drinking solution depending on who you ask), and now we know she's got a major supervillain problem to deal with, as well.

This footage introduces David Tennant as the villain Killgrave, aka the Purple Man. Killgrave has the power to take over a person's mind, forcing them to do some seriously depraved stuff. He's a big part of why Jones is so screwed up, and it will be interesting to see if the TV series goes as far depicting it as the comics did.

Marvel's Jessica Jones hits Netflix on November 20th.

Free Advance Screening of Steven Spielberg's 'Bridge of Spies'

We're happy to offer our DC readers a chance to attend a free advance screening of spy drama, Bridge of Spies, the latest pairing of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The film is based on the true story of Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.

The screening takes place on Wednesday, October 14th at 7:30pm at AMC Mazza Gallerie. If you're interested in attending, simply complete the mandatory steps in the contest form below. Winners will be selected on Sunday, October 11th and notified by email. Good luck!

Bridge of Spies opens October 16th.

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'The Incredibles 2' Gets 2019 Date, 'Toy Story 4' Bumped A Year

Disney has apparently designated today "Release Date Day" as they've been dropping fresh release dates and titles left and right. It began with a series of announcements for Marvel's Phases Three and Four, which include three mystery titles plus an Ant-Man sequel. Now we're seeing the rest of Disney's upcoming slate, which includes new release dates for The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4, and more.

First up is the film many have been begging for, The Incredibles 2, which has been pegged for June 21st 2019. Brad Bird is back at the helm chronicling the further adventures of Pixar's superhero family. Before that will be Toy Story 4, which is actually arriving a year later than expected on June 15th 2018. There's also another centerpiece franchise getting a sequel and its Cars, with the third film in the merchandise-ready series opening June 16th 2017.

The full list of release dates is below:

Cars 3 (June 16th, 2017)
Pixar's Coco (November 22nd, 2017)
Untitled Disney Live-Action Fairy Tale Project (December 22nd, 2017)
Gigantic (March 9th, 2018)
Toy Story 4 (June 15th, 2018)
Untitled Disney Live-Action Fairy Tale Project (November 2nd, 2018)
Untitled Disney Live-Action Fairy Tale Project (March 29th, 2019)
Untitled DisneyToons Studio Project (April 12th, 2019)
The Incredibles 2 (June 21st, 2019)
Untitled Disney Live-Action Fairy Tale Project (November 8th, 2019)
Untitled Pixar Film (March 13th, 2020)
Untitled Pixar Film (June 19th, 2020)
Untitled Disney Animation Film (November 25th, 2020)

Marvel Announces 'Ant-Man' Sequel Featuring The Wasp; Reveals New Phase Four Mystery Dates

Only in the mega-successful world of Marvel Studios is a $409M box office disappointing, but that's what Ant-Man grossed earlier this year. While that ranks it on the lower end of Marvel offerings, it was enough to earn a sequel, and the title won't come as a surprise considering how the first film concluded.

Marvel has announced Ant-Man and The Wasp for July 6th 2018. Obviously, this puts Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne side-by-side with Paul Rudd's Scott Lang, which was pretty much teased by the last film. We can probably expect to see Michael Douglas return as Hank Pym, as well. No other details are available, and considering the turbulent production last time Marvel is likely hoping for a smoother shoot.

That's not all, as Marvel has revealed three mystery projects set for May 1, 2020, July 10, 2020, and November 6, 2020. What are they? Well, that's the mystery, but these are well beyond 2019's Avengers: Infinity War Part II, making them the first dates in Phase Four. Meanwhile, Black Panther now arrives on February 16, 2018 and Captain Marvel has been shifted to March 8, 2019.

There had been a lull of Marvel news since Captain America: Civil War wrapped but this will certainly get fans buzzing again. What do you think the three mystery projects will be?