Review: Todd Haynes' Carol

Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara

Review: The Night Before

Starring Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2

Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson

Review: Secret In Their Eyes

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts

Review: Creed

Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone


Lionsgate Apologizes For All Those White People In 'Gods Of Egypt'

When Ridley Scott took heat for the milky white casting of Exodus: Gods and Kings, his response was to basically brush it off and blame the needs of making a big-budget Hollywood feature. It didn't endear him to many people, let's just say. So now after the diversity-deprived and sorta bizarre trailer for Alex Proyas' Gods of Egypt, the director and Lionsgate are taking a different approach. They're actually acknowledging the mistakes and apologizing for it. Wha!?

Here's the official statement they made to Forbes

Alex Proyas: “The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”

Lionsgate:  ”We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.​​”

This is unprecedented to have a director and major studio apologizing for the mistakes they've made months before the film even opens. How will this impact the marketing going forward? Will they decide to put an emphasis on Chadwick Boseman rather than Gerard Butler and Nikolaj  Coster-Waldau?  Proyas is right that casting a movie is difficult and oftentimes based on landing A-list stars that can appeal to a broad demographic. But this is Gods of Egypt and it was never going to be a film driven by star power, so they should have done a better job making it as authentic as possible, at least on the casting side of things.

Gods of Egypt opens next year on February 26th.

New Trailer For Tobias Lindholm's 'A War' Explores The Impact Of War Crimes

Tobias Lindholm's A War explores the war in Afghanistan from a different perspective, that of the Danish soldiers fighting the war on terror.  Rejoining with his star of A Hijacking, Pilou Asbaek (who recently landed a role in Ghost In The Shell with Scarlett Johansson), the story focuses on a military commander who makes a life-changing decision to ensure he gets back home to the family waiting for him in Denmark. The choice he makes leads to him being accused of committing war crimes.

The new trailer is much like the first, focusing on the life-or-death decisions made on the battlefield, and how those choices can have terrible impact on loved ones back home. We also get a look at the handheld camerawork from DP Magnus Nordenhof J√łnck, who has worked with Lindholm on numerous projects including the acclaimed Borgen TV series.

A War opens stateside on February 12th.


Ron Howard to Direct Thriller Adaptation 'The Girl Before'

How did you spend your Thanksgiving holiday? While most of us were busy stuffing our faces, Ron Howard was busy lining up his next project. Universal has picked up the rights to the anticipated novel, The Girl Before, a thriller penned by J.P. Delaney which many believe is a pseudonym for best-selling author, Tony Strong. Howard will direct and produce alongside his pal Brian Grazer and Michael De Luca.

This is yet another thriller with the word "Girl" in the title so it'll probably be a hit. The story centers on a traumatized woman who falls in love with an extraordinary minimalist home and with the man who designed it. However, when she learns that three years earlier another damaged woman died there she begins to wonder if she's following in the same footsteps.

Thrillers aren't usally Howard's forte, his Dan Brown adaptations The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons being notable exceptions, but he's always been the kind of director without a true signature style. There's no reason to think he'll have any trouble with it. [Deadline]

Trailer For Indie Spirit Award Nominee, 'Christmas, Again'

It's the holiday season, and while we've already seen a few Christmas films come down the chimney (including the excellent The Night Before), there's one more on the way that is only now starting to pick up some buzz. Charles Poekel's Christmas, Again got some attention recently when it earned an Indie Spirit Award nomination, and with the low-wattage film set to open next week a new trailer for it has arrived under the tree.

Starring Kentucker Audley, Hannah Gross, and Jason Shelton, the story centers on the appropriately-named Noel (Audley), a Christmas tree salesman for whom the holiday season isn't necessarily a time of joy. While working the night shift he encounters a number of colorful customers and one mysterious woman who may be able to save him from self-destruction.

So not your typical holiday movie but maybe something closer in tone to Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas?  It played earlier this year at Sundance and I don't recall it making a lot of noise, so I've been surprised by the awards attention it's getting. Check out Christmas, Again when it opens on December 4th.

Forbes Lists 'Rock the Kasbah' As Biggest Flop of 2015

We're now entering the final weeks of the year; a time when studios begin to take stock of how successful some of their films have been. Or, in some cases, how UNsuccessful they've been. It's those later films that Forbes is looking at now with their list of the least profitable movies of 2015, and at the top of the list is a film that features one of Hollywood's most beloved stars.

Bill Murray's awful, bizarre rock music comedy Rock the Kasbah tops the list of the year's biggest flops (in 2000 theaters), earning a dismal $2.9M on a budget of $15M. Really? That thing cost $15M? It just as easily could have topped the list of worst movies of 2015, and chances are it will in the coming weeks.

You won't be surprised to find Jem and the Holograms also ranking pretty high on the list, along with Cameron Crowe's star-studded dud Aloha, and stoner comedy American Ultra. You probably forgot Sean Penn's action flick The Gunman ever came out; the same with Michael Mann's tech-thriller Blackhat. Check out the full list below.

1. Rock The Kasbah
2. The Gunman
3. Blackhat
4. Unfinished Business
5. Jem & The Holograms
6. Self/Less
7. American Ultra
8. We Are Your Friends
9. Aloha
10. Mortdecai

'Alien: Covenant' Is First of Three More 'Alien' Prequels

While Ridley Scott's Prometheus felt very loosely connected to the Alien franchise, he's insisted that the upcoming films would eventually lead right up to his seminal 1979 sci-fi film.  This was pretty much confirmed by the title of the next film, Alien: Covenant, and the recently released synopsis:

"Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created in ALIEN with ALIEN: COVENANT, the second chapter in a prequel trilogy that began with PROMETHEUS — and connects directly to Scott’s 1979 seminal work of science fiction. Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition."

With pre-production kicking off in Sydney, Australia, Scott offered up more details on the sequels, which are actually Alien prequels, and revealed that there are two more films after Alien: Covenant, making for a total of four. He also revealed that Noomi Rapace's character, Elisabeth Shaw, who has been mentioned very little lately, will only be in the film briefly.

“Its a very complex story. Its an evolution of what I first did with Prometheus 1...Prometheus 1 was borne out of my frustration that on Alien 1 in 1979 – I only did one as I don’t normally do sequels. I was amazed that in the 3 that followed that no-one asked the question ‘why the Alien, who made it and why?’ Very basic questions. So I came up with the notion of Prometheus 1, which starts to indicate who might have made it and where it came from.”

He continued...

"So I’m now going to the next one, which is the next evolution directly connected with the first one, which was this Shaw, when [s]he replaced Michael Fassbender in two pieces and we’ll kind of pick it up there and it will evolve. When that’s finished there’ll be another one and then another one which will gradually drive into the back entrance of the film in 1979,” the British director revealed. So in other words, why was this space jockey there and why did he have an Alien inside him? And those questions will be answered."

With plans this ambitious it's no surprise Scott put a halt to Neill Blomkamp's project as it just would have made things more confusing.  But with this many films over the next few years chances are we'll never see what Blomkamp had planned.

Alien: Covenant is scheduled to open on October 6th 2017. [THR]


Kylo Ren Gets Tested In The Latest 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' TV Spot

The Dark Side doesn't care about your Thanksgiving! On this Turkey Day it's Kylo Ren and the evil First Order that take the spotlight in Lucasfilm's new Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV spot, getting away from what has been weeks of attention on newbies Finn and Rey.

This minute-long clip features nothing but action, with Ren at the center of nearly all of it. Not only do we see him on the attack with his awesome crossguard saber, but he also seems to be working some torturous mojo on Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who we see later leading a squadron of X-Wing fighters. Ren is also warned that he's "never faced such a test", but what exactly his mission is remains one of the film's big mysteries.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18th.

Feast On The New Trailer For 'Pride And Prejudice And Zombies'

Before feasting on that Thanksgiving turkey, Lionsgate wants you to remember Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, where the only feasting going on is the undead munching on brains. A new trailer and poster have been released for the horror mash-up based on Seth Grahame-Smith's book parodying the Jane Austen classic.

There's a lot of new footage here, but the constant seems to be that director Burr Steers is playing the material straight-up rather than going for comedy.  The film stars Lily James, Bella Heathcote, Sukie Waterhouse, Ellie Bamber, and Millie Brady as the beautiful Bennet sisters, only in this version they're renowned martial artists and zombie killers. Otherwise the story plays out exactly as Austen planned it, including the sisters' relationships with the men in their lives played by Matt Smith, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, and Jack Huston.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies opens February 5th 2016.

Review: 'Victor Frankenstein' Starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe

When it comes to Victorian era monster stories Hollywood seems to only have two tones, comicy (as in comic book like) like the vastly hated but actually serviceable Van Helsing or deadly serious drama as in, to keep the same vein (pun intended) Bram Stoker’s Dracula. You can usually tell by the trailers what side a film is going to go on, that’s really enough for most people. However if you’re like me the chance for enjoyment is equal if not a little different. Victor Frankenstein isn’t really sure where it is with tones that match both sides but with the more animated tone winning out. I shouldn’t really have to recap a story so ingrained in our social conscience, but I do and I’ll explain why. Changes, oh changes, and novel worthwhile changes at that. Igor is our hero this time around with the story told from his perspective…seriously, how hadn’t anyone thought to spotlight one of the  most interesting side characters in the history of horror, take that Renfield! Victor (James McAvoy) happens across Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), who’s a self-taught surgeon working as a circus clown when Igor saves the life of his crush (seriously, I need a thesaurus that’s the best I could come up with?), needing an assistant Victor takes notice, fixes his hunchback, and away we go.

There’s a lot to like about this film and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Andrew Scott’s Inspector Turpin. The actor, who got his star making turn as Moriarty on the BBC series Sherlock is quickly becoming one of the most oddly loved actors on the planet. The character of Turpin, which basically replaces the mob holding torch’s and pitchforks, brings in what has always been the main moral questions in Mary Shelly’s eternal story, should man play God? This question of religion is not hidden in Max Landis’s script as Frankenstein makes his atheism very clear several times and Turpin his religious feelings. My earlier comparison to Van Helsing was a bit off I realize as the Victorian England setting really gives more of a Sherlock Holmes feel in terms of look, which obviously is a ringing endorsement for the look of the film and the action can be just as slick as the aforementioned blockbuster. McAvoy as Frankenstein is something to see…it is quite possibly the hardest thing to do in acting to convincingly overact, put simply to play a mad scientist without making it laughable. Think of the original “IT’S ALLIIVVVEE”…classic, right? Then let’s look at another classic scene dealing with the same kind of performance, William Shatner as Captain Kirk yelling “KHHHAAAANNNN!!!”, yes still classic but undeniably laughable. Thankfully McAvoy rides the feel of the former giving a great performance as the world’s most well known mad scientist. Radcliffe’s Igor is the lynchpin of the movie and though his character arc is a major letdown, his performance shows someone who’s truly taken off those Harry Potter glasses.

So why was Igor’s performance a letdown? Mainly because the love story between he and Lorelai (the acrobat he saved when Victor found him) is lame, for lack of a better term. I would have much preferred a bromance movie with the traditional dynamic between him and the doc then the forced dilemma Igor is put into. The only other real problem is the monster. Yes, yes, I know Frankenstein is the doctor not the monster, one of the most confused things in history perhaps, but come on! If I tell you I’m going to show you a movie about Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park you still want to see some rad T-Rex action, no? The monster doesn’t come into play until halfway through the third act and that’s when it turns from a Sherlock Holmes looking film to feeling more like Van Helsing. Not a game changer for me but it was disappointing.

All in all this is going to be a 50/50 movie. If you’re at all harsh on what you go see in a theater then I think Creed is going to be your obvious choice this weekend. If you’re REALLY into the lead actors of a fan of all things Frankenstein then it may be worth a trip to the cinema, otherwise wait for home video.

2.5 out of 5 Guttenbergs 

New 'Men In Black' Film Will Have A Female Agent

There's already a female Ghostbusters movie on the way, so why not a female Men In Black? So wouldn't it be Woman in Black? Or would audiences think it's another horror movie with Daniel Radcliffe?  Whatever the case, producer Laurie MacDonald told Newsbeat that Men In Black 4 will have a woman in the tailored suit and shades.

According to MacDonald "there will be a prominent woman in black in the fourth [film]". But does that mean she'll be working alone? Or will she be partnered up with another agent, be they male or female? What we know, at least right now, is that it won't be Will Smith who isn't part of this new trilogy. Then again, MacDonald's husband and fellow producer Walter Parkes says "Never count Will out", so things could change.

At this point it's hard to figure out what's going on with the franchise. Sony has toyed around with the idea of crossing it over with 21 Jump Street, an idea which sounds absurd but could be fun. MacDonald went on to explain the thinking behind the next movie...

"We sort of looked at the first three in retrospect as a bit of a trilogy. We tried to tell a story about those two characters and that relationship, It sounds silly because it’s a fun, science fiction comedy but when you work on these things you sort of try to find some thematic basis underneath it. Now we are looking at a reinvention, but it’s a wonderful world to get back into.”

For the record, Men In Black once teased a female agent with Linda Fiorentino's (remember her??) character in the first film, but then they didn't follow up on it at all.  Don't count on it being her, though.