The Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar!

Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Channing Tatum, and Scarlett Johansson

Review: Deadpool

Starring Ryan Reynolds

Review: Tumbledown

Starring Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis

Review: The Choice

Starring Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Starring Lily James, Bella Heathcote, and Sam Riley

2/11/2016

John's Take: Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds



It’s hard to believe that it was almost 20 years ago that the modern comic book movie was born with New Line’s Blade. I know a lot of people give that accolade to X-Men but Blade showed up two years earlier and shook off the stink of the hyper cheesy Batman and Robin to usher in a new era in comic book fims…an era that people have been saying was going to die every year for the last 20. If I can stop for a minute and appreciate the fact that I live in a time where Deadpool, the least family friendly of all the Marvel properties is getting his own film, I mean, it’s amazing! Granted it was a long road to get to this place, what with the X-Men Origins debacle…it doesn’t matter how we got here, what matters is that we’re here, and it’s a great time to be a geek. Deadpool, for the uninitiated, is unlike anything else on the comic page. The “Merc with a Mouth” as he’s called is beyond description, but if one were to try it would be something like this, inappropriate, hyper-violent, more than a little insane, funny, kinky, crazy, etc, etc. What really sets the character apart, other than the R rated antics that he relishes in, unlike other characters who regret their more violent actions, is that Wade (Wade Wilson is his proper name) regularly breaks the fourth wall and involves the reader, or in this case viewer, in his thoughts. A fan favorite since his solo debut in the early 90’s a Deadpool movie was always one of those things that people yearned for but knew would never happen. How would the comic movie industry ever get to a point where they could cut off their child audience and make a hard R Deadpool movie, the only way to do the character right? Then came that “leaked” test footage two summers ago that set the internet ablaze…people wanted the merc with a mouth and let’s be honest, Ryan Reynolds, who I’ve always liked despite his less then fortunate roles, was BORN to play this part. Things were looking good, and now the film is here. I think, maybe, the ramifications of this film aren’t truly understood by the audience. If this film does well it breaks down the walls for R rated comic book films aimed at adult audiences, or at least it allows for more risk when it comes to making these films. Well, this was a overly long intro…onto the review, what do you say?

Wade Wilson is a former special ops soldier who spends his time as a mercenary. As far as we can tell his jobs are less international espionage and more scaring the life out of the punk stalking a young girl..not really what I expected. When Wade meets the equally scarred love of his life Vanessa at the merc hangout and bar which also happens to be a converted home for wayward girls, his life begins to mean something to him…well, mean as much as Wade can allow. In the midst of the most joyous time of his life he’s brought crashing back down when he’s diagnosed with late stage cancer in his lungs, brain, and other things he can live without (his words not mine). Wade doesn’t see a way out, weary of an opportunity presented to him by a mysterious stranger in the bar Wilson doesn’t see any other way out and calls the number given to him. He ends up in what can only be described as a Mexican prison hospital and is subjected to a number of tests designed to activate the latent mutant gene in his system. The research center, which is run by a former subject named Ajax, is revealed to be less of a hospital and more of a slave creation center all too late for Wade. After pissing off Ajax, Wade is left in an oxygen deprivation tank over the weekend which ends up permanently disfiguring him but also activating his mutation, total regeneration (ala Wolverine). Wade escapes swearing vengeance on those who made him this way.

I suppose I could have gone into more detail plot wise, but let’s be honest, this flick is not plot dependent. We want to see that vulgar, smart mouthed, bad-ass, hyper violent merc with a mouth do his thing…and BOY DO WE. Something told me that Ryan Reynolds, who’s had an unfairly bad run when it comes to comic book heroes, had some real love for the character and really understood what he was about. Contrary to what could have happened Deadpool is more than just a foul mouthed killer…it was understanding this that was the key to doing this movie right..Reynolds got it, and they did it 110% right. I don’t believe in redemption. I think someone does what they do and you should judge them on that and nothing else, however if I was the type to believe in such things, it’s safe to say that Reynolds could have made 4 more Green Lantern films and this movie would have STILL brought him back to the side of great comic book actors. From the opening credit sequence, which is like nothing you’ve ever seen, it’s obvious that these guys understand the character and are ready to break new ground in the world of comic book movies. I’m struggling right now on what to include and what to skip…there are so many bullet points where the movie could have taken a left turn to crapsville but didn’t, it stayed right on that road to awesome town and arrived in style.
Let’s start with the most obvious, the suit. Deadpool easily has one of the most recognizable and best looking suits in comics. Now generally when a character is adapted to the screen changes are made…can you really tell me that Hugh Jackman would have looked as cool in blue and yellow spandex? No, some things work on the page but not on the screen. For Deadpool though, it was a direct translation which made sense since it looked real world cool on the page. That being said it was still surprising to see how awesome it looked in full motion. Now they did some effects work on the eyebrow area but for the most part what you see is most likely how it would look if someone hit the streets in a high quality Deadpool outfit, I don’t know why but that really stuck out as really cool aspect to me. Next is the character itself…damn did they do their homework. Now of course they didn’t get into some of the intricacies of the character, only one chimichanga reference and though I really thought his long running relationship with death was going to be segued, they never did get there, but they captured the essence without question and that’s what matters. The movie serves as a revenge story, and I’m sure we’ll see more of the day to day deadpooling in the already greenlit deadpool 2, but that doesn’t mean they held anything back. Without exaggeration I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being one of the funniest movies of 2016. With the exception of any time spent in the research facility there isn’t a five minute stretch without a quality joke…hell even in the research facility when things are at their worst they manage to work in some laughs.
So where does Deadpool fit in with the Marvel universe at large? I’ll be honest, I thought this was going to be its own thing and not have anything to do with the more family friendly faire that we are used to…I was wrong. X-men is heavily referenced throughout and everyone’s favorite uncle Stan Lee even makes his obligatory cameo…I can’t lie, this REALLY surprised me. That being said I can fully respect it. They are treating the films the same way they treat their books and that, to me, is genius. On loan from the X-Men are Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (that’s right). I really thought their inclusion would be the low point of the film but damned if I didn’t love every second they were in. The filmmakers handled the lack of other X-men, not to mention the empty Xavier school perfectly turning a negative to a positive with a bit of humor. Keep an eye out for the highway fight between Deadpool and Colossus, it’s easily one of the best of the film and really captures the tone of the entire film, great action with better laughs! While I’m on the subject I really didn’t have thoughts either way toward the inclusion of Negasonic Teenage Warhead (really…couldn’t shorten that at all?) but at the end of the day they give her some bad ass powers and having her around isn’t just another excuse to showcase Wade’s sense of humor but also his humanity.

Morena Baccarin, who is quickly cementing a place on my top 5, plays Vanessa, the hooker with the heart of gold and Wade’s love interest. The woman is beautiful, that in itself is enough to get her on my list but what really catapults her to the top is her personality…she’s one of the guys, no doubt, and is given plenty of chances to prove that she doesn’t need protecting in this flick resulting in one of my favorite lines “Watch yourself Fat Gandalf”. She definitely owns the role and leaves now question that she’s able to hold her own against Wade. Credit where credit is due, the bravery she must show to put herself literally on complete display during one of the films best segments, lovingly titled ‘Sex through the Holidays’…though she does get her payback during women’s rights day. If I can take a second to be serious, though she does technically play the standard damsal in distress Vanessa is not like a character you've seen before and though she's more then physically outmatched by her superhuman captor you get the real feeling that she really doesn't care. Feisty to the end and fully capable of handling herself it's nice to see women portrayed this way. Though, technically she's still little more then a love interest and a hooker at that...yeah, we definitely have a long way to go. 


I’m sure I could fill another 6 or 7 paragraphs on what I loved about this movie but let’s face it…no one cares, so I’ll get to the point. Deadpool breaks new ground on what it is to be a comic book movie. There is no mold, no template, no limit. This movie proves that, like comic book themselves, they are simply another medium in which to tell stories and are not relegated only to family friendly stories featuring a good looking white guy saving the day. They don’t need to be family friendly and they don’t need to feature a strict moral code. For fans of the character, as I was prior to seeing the movie, you beloved merc is in good hands and is presented in a way that will, without doubt, bring droves more to the Deadpool fandom group. I suspect that, though he’s already a popular mainstay, we’ll be seeing much more of the red suited one at SDCC next year. Before I close I just want to include one more, perhaps the most important thing…at now point is the movie taking itself too seriously, and THAT, is one of the most important aspects which shows just how well the filmmakers get Deadpool. One of the most purely entertaining times I’ve had with a comic book film in the theater period. Obviously, I whole heartedly recommend getting your butt into a seat and giving this film your $12. 

4.5 Out of 5 Guttenbergs

New Trailer For 'The Invitation' Invites You To A Deadly Dinner Party


The more I hear of Karyn Kusama's thriller The Invitation, the more I think it will be this year's The Gift. If you recall that Joel Edgerton-directed film it was largely propelled by word of mouth, with those who saw it praising the many twists, turns, and nasty turns the story took. Well, that same kind of buzz is building for The Invitation, which also features an unwanted guest as a central plot device.

Starring Logan Marshall-Green,  Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lindsay Burdge, John Carroll Lynch, Mike Doyle, Michelle Krusiec, Marieh Delfino and Jay Larson, the film centers on a dinner party that turns deadly when a man shows up to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her new husband. Here's the full synopsis for the trailer, which hopefully doesn't give too much away:

In this taut psychological thriller by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), the tension is palpable when Will (Logan Marshall-Green, "Prometheus") shows up to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard, "Into the Woods") and new husband David (Michiel Huisman, “Game of Thrones”). The estranged divorcees’ tragic past haunts an equally eerie present; amid Eden’s suspicious behavior and her mysterious house guests, Will becomes convinced that his invitation was extended with a hidden agenda. Unfolding over one dark evening in the Hollywood Hills, "The Invitation" blurs layers of mounting paranoia, mystery, and horror until both Will —and the audience— are unsure what threats are real or imagined.

This may be one of those films best entered into knowing as little as possible. The Invitation hits theaters and VOD on April 18th.

Martin Lawrence Hugs 'Bad Boys 3' Into Reality; Joe Carnahan Sorta Confirms He's Directing


It looks like the Bad Boys are back! Actually, a third Bad Boys film has been talked about for years, with Martin Lawrence doing most of the talking while Will Smith sorta played coy, but the whole thing really began to come together when Sony Pictures confirmed dates for not only Bad Boys 3, but Bad Boys 4, with Joe Carnahan rumored to direct. While none of those three have been confirmed, it's beginning to look like a done deal, and we have a touchy-feely Lawrence to thank for it.

Speaking with BBC Radio, Smith confirmed an encounter with Lawrence that saw the two bad boys hugging it out for the first time in two years. And it was during the reunion that Smith suddenly felt like another Bad Boys movie was a definite...

“I saw Martin [Lawrence] a few weeks ago. I haven’t seen him for about two years. We just looked at each other. We hugged. In that moment, we knew we were making another Bad Boys. We’re definitely doing another one.”

It's doubtful that any big studio production can come to be quite so easily, but it's obvious Sony has big plans for the cop franchise. And apparently those plans do include Carnahan, who took to Twitter and dropped what appears to be a pre-production image for the film, featuring a gun-toting motorcycle rider and a #badboys3 hashtag. 


Is it too much to ask that it's Tea Leoni under that helmet?

So it looks as if Carnahan is well on the way to having Bad Boys 3 ready to open on February 17th 2017. Meanwhile, Bad Boys 4 is slated for July 3rd 2019.

'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' Trailer Takes Tina Fey To Afghanistan


Fish out of water comedies are pretty commonplace, but those that drop Americans into the Middle East....well, they tend to be pretty terrible and offensive. Last year's Rock the Kasbah was the most recent example of how terribly wrong they can go, but let's try not to hold the past against Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which thrusts Tina Fey right into the middle of Afghanistan.

Fey plays a foreign correspondent stationed in Afghanistan and dealing with being a woman in a male-dominated culture and male-dominated profession. And at least based on this trailer most of the jokes seem to be about that and not necessarily about the region. Margot Robbie plays an aggressive (both professional and sexually by the looks of it) British journalist, while Martin Freeman, Christopher Abbott, and Billy Bob Thornton have co-starring roles.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot opens March 4th.

New 'Equals' Trailer Has Kristen Stewart And Nicholas Hoult In An Emotionless World


Previously having explored the intricacies of difficult modern relationships with Like Crazy and Breathe In, Drake Doremus is moving into the future with his next film. Equals stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, along with Guy Pearce, Jackie Weaver, and Kate Lyn Sheil, and a new trailer for the dreamy sci-fi romance has been released.

The film is set in a world where emotions have been repressed and everyone lives in perfect harmony until a disease begins switching their feelings back on. Hoult and Stewart play two who begin to fall in love in this dystopian society, and the sexual tension between them is pretty palpable based on this footage. Here's a more complete synopsis:

SILAS (Hoult) lives in a future society called The Collective. The inhabitants of this modern world are a new breed of humans called Equals. Equals are peaceful, calm, fair, and polite. Life in The Collective is perfect; there is no greed, no poverty, no violence, and no emotion. The Equals go through life perfectly serene, disturbed by nothing. But a new disease is threatening everyone: SOS, or Switched-On-Syndrome, is activating in its victims everything they thought they’d escaped: depression, sensitivity, fear, love. Once a person is overtaken with SOS, they are sent away to The Den, and never seen again. Nobody says it, but everyone knows: The Den is where people go to die.When Silas is infected, he becomes an outcast, but he notices one person who seems to understand what he’s going through. NIA (Stewart) has feelings, but she seems to be able to hide them. Only Silas has noticed that she’s different. When he confronts her, they discover a connection that quickly takes over everything. They feel love and intimacy for the first time in their lives. They try to stay away from each other, because the risk of detection is too great, but the pain of being apart is even worse than the pain of living in secret. The only way for them to insure their survival is to escape. But who will help them? Where will they go? With their feelings overtaking them and their love visible to anyone they meet, how can they possibly escape undetected?

Equals doesn't have a release date but is expected to open this summer courtesy of A24.

Jessica Chastain Is A Badass Warrior In 'The Huntsman: Winter's War' Trailer


Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chasain, Emily Blunt, and Charlize Theron. That's a fantastic lineup one would not expect to find in a prequel to the mostly forgettable Snow White and the Huntsman. But somehow Universal managed to bring them all together for the fairy tale spinoff, The Huntsman: Winter's War, and a new trailer for the special effects-heavy film has been released.

While the action has certainly been kicked up a notch, the film looks nearly identical to the previous one. That's due to the presence of director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, who had previously served as the franchise's visual effects supervisor. Here's the synopsis, which reads a little like a dark version of Frozen:

Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom.  With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen—including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)—only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.

When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power.  But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen.  Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.

While nobody was exactly clamoring for this movie to exist, the chance to see Emily Blunt as an ice-powered princess and Chastain as a warrior badass is worth it. The Huntsman: Winter's War opens April 22nd.

First Trailer for 'Criminal' Has Kevin Costner And Ryan Reynolds Swapping Memories


What is it with Ryan Reynolds and body-switching movies? The Deadpool star had the memories of Ben Kingsley transferred into his body in last year's forgettable thriller, Self/Less. A few years ago he and Jason Bateman literally pissed their way into a mind swap in The Change-Up, another stinker. And now Reynolds is back to the same old tricks in Criminal, which sees him doing the big switch with Kevin Costner.

Ariel Vromen, who last directed bland crime movie The Iceman, is at the helm of this one, and again he's managed to assemble a stellar cast which includes Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Michael Pitt, Antje Traue, and Alice Eve. Costner plays a Death Row inmate  uploaded with the skills and memories of a dead CIA spy (Reynolds) in order to complete his final mission.

It's all pretty ridiculous in a Face/Off kind of way, but there's a grittiness to Vromen's direction that is at least intriguing, and that cast is pretty remarkable.  Criminal hits theaters on April 15th.

New 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Trailer And IMAX Poster


Want to know how much Warner Bros. is depending on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to be huge? Pretty much everything that follows: Suicide Squad, Justice League, a number of solo movies, will be crucially set back if the film underperforms. So it's no surprise they're marketing the Hell out of this thing, and today brings yet another trailer (hopefully the last) and a cool IMAX poster.

You know the drill: Ben Affleck plays Gotham city's protector, who hasn't taken to kindly to the arrival of Superman (Henry Cavill) and the destruction that often follows in his wake. DC's two biggest heroes will duke it out at first, but we know that Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) will also be in the mix, and that they will all unite to take on Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and whatever his nefarious schemes turn out to be.

Directed by Zack Snyder with Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, Scoot McNairy, Holly Hunter, and more co-starring, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens March 25th. 

First Trailer For Holiday Comedy 'Mother's Day' Starring Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, And Kate Hudson


If you loved Garry Marshall's saccharine sweet holiday rom-coms New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, chances are you were wondering what special day on the calendar he'd tackle next. Turns out it's Mother's Day, and he's assembled another star-studded ensemble to help celebrate all the great things Mom does for you on a regular basis. And if you decide to take mom to the movies to see his film, Marshall will probably be pretty happy about that, too.

Featuring an A-list cast that includes Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Hilary Duff, Timothy Olyphant, Jon Lovitz, Margo Martindale, and Sarah Chalke, the film tells intersecting stories centered around the one day of the year dedicated to mom. It all looks very agreeable and heartwarming, and should fit in as the third chapter in Marshall's apparent trilogy.

Then again, he could conceivably make these movies forever. Could Arbor Day be far behind? Mother's Day comes early on April 29th.

Review: 'Zoolander No. 2' Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, And Penelope Cruz


One of the many charms of Ben Stiller's 2001 fashion world satire Zoolander was its humble-ish beginnings. The idiotic supermodel was created as a joke for a fashion show, and grew wildly from there. The movie itself took some time to finds its feet on the runway, but not only proved to be a hit but arguably Stiller's most enduring, most quotable comedy. It had fun poking at celebrity culture and the quirks of the "incredibly good-looking" people of the world. And apparently everything Stiller had to say about those people was said 15 years ago, because the unnecessary, mostly unfunny sequel Zoolander No. 2 is about as fresh as Cross Colours and Starter jackets.

The best, most inspired ideas come early on, and were sadly given away by the plethora of trailers and promos. A harrowing chase through Rome's city streets finds Justin Bieber at the business end of an assassin's gun, but before he dies he stops long enough for one last selfie. It's the kind of silly, self-deprecating joke that made the original film a cult favorite, but moments like this are few and far between. A flurry of news reports from pretty much every TV journalist on the planet fills us in on Derek Zoolander's misadventures since we last saw him. The dopey model's wife (Stiller's actual wife, Christine Taylor) was killed by the collapse of the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too, which was built on flimsy model materials because he's...well, a dope. Also caught in the destruction was Zoolander's narcissistic buddy, Hansel (Owen Wilson), whose face bears such a "hideous" scar he's gone off into hiding. Zoolander has been living as a hermit(crab) in the frozen tundra of New Jersey ever since, until Billy Zane (Billy Zane!!!) comes walking back into his life with a mission to find out who is killing pop stars.

The original movie was delightfully absurd, taking place in a world where Zoolander's "Blue Steel" look could stop bullets, daggers, and people right in their tracks. Stiller cranks that ridiculousness up to a new level but in the process leaves behind the digs at the industry which was its strength; in favor of goofy spy movie that has more in common with Austin Powers. Zoolander joins with Hansel (who has been living in the desert as part of a polyamorous commune with Kiefer Sutherland) and a sexy agent (Penelope Cruz) from INTERPOL's fashion division to find the murderer, while at the same time reconnecting with his estranged son, Derek Jr. It turns out Zoolander's son is overweight, and a painful gag about whether or not this makes him a bad kid goes on for an interminable length of time.

The stupid murder plot keeps getting in the way of a much better storyline perfectly suited for knocking our superficial culture. Zoolander and Hansel have been out of the game for years and are now seen as relics, and their embarrassing attempts to fit back in provide some of the film's most pointed and hilarious scenes. Their first runway show back ends in utter disaster at the hands of trendy designer Don Atari (an intentionally intolerable Kyle Mooney) and gender-neutral model "All" played by a cat-like Benedict Cumberbatch. While the "All" gag doesn't work, it's at least somewhat inspired, which can't be said about much else.  Will Ferrell as the returning villain Mugatu and Kristen Wiig as the Donna Versace-esque Alexanya Atoz help liven things up a little, but not even they can help Zoolander No. 2 be anything more than out of style.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5