Review: Proud Mary

Starring Taraji P. Henson

Review: Hostiles

Starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and Wes Studi

Review: The Post

Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks

Review: The Commuter

Starring Liam Neeson

Review: Paddington 2

Starring Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Sally Hawkins, and More

1/16/2018

'Creed 2' Casts Romanian Boxer Florian Munteanu As Ivan Drago's Son


For months Sylvester Stallone has been teasing Creed 2 as a return for Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer who killed Apollo Creed in Rocky 4. Apollo's death would not only serve as motivation for Rocky Balboa to get payback in the ensuing fight, but later would also drive Apollo's son, Adonis, to become a championship fighter. While a couple of names have been mentioned as possibilities to play the son of Ivan Drago, because there's no way Dolph Lundgren is getting back in the ring at his age, nobody had confirmed for the role until now. And this dude, who I've never heard of and never seen before in my life, is a true monster of the squared circle.

Romanian boxer Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu has been cast as Drago's son, according to The Tracking Board and Stallone himself. Homie is a straight up bruiser, 6'4" and 245 lbs and I'm guessing not a lot of body fat. This guy has more abs than I have hairs on my face. He doesn't even look like a boxer, he looks like a pro wrestler who should be powerbombing dudes through tables like Braun Strowman. Take a peek at this workout montage which looks like it was ripped straight out of a previous Rocky movie...



So I'm supposed to believe Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed can beat this guy? I'm guessing this will be the classic speed vs. strength matchup with a storyline to match. That's up to screenwriter Cheo Hodari Coker (Luke Cage) to figure out, but I'm guessing the cocky, headstrong Adonis will want to slug it out and Rocky will spend the movie trying to convince him how stupid that is.

I can already see Tessa Thompson at ringside screaming like Talia Shire as Adonis gets pummeled from post to post.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr., Creed 2 opens November 21st.


How Chewbacca Was Key To Lucasfilm Changing 'Star Wars' Continuity


When Lucasfilm was bought by Disney a few years ago, they made a decision that split the Star Wars fanbase in half. They decided to chuck all of the years of Expanded Universe stories that had been told in novels, video games, cartoons, and other forms of media. It was a smart move; while there were some great stories told there was also a lot of crap. And Star Wars needed a fresh, lean start for The Force Awakens.

But was there another reason to trim the EU fat, so to speak? Star Wars guru Lucasfilm Story Group member Leland Chee, the guy who manages The Holocron, the complete Star Wars database, says Chewbacca is was a driving reason for the change. For those who don't know, Chewie was killed by the Yuzhan Vong in the 1999 novel Vector Prime, and Lucasfilm saw a chance to bring him back to life as too good to pass up...

"For me it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the Legends — a big moon had fallen on him. Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca, because he can’t speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody, and it was Chewbacca."

"But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you’re not gonna deprive fans that. There’s no way that I’d want to do an Episode VII that didn’t have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head. And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison."

There was certainly a lot more to it than that, but it's hard to argue that we would have been bummed to see Han in the Millennium Falcon without his furry pal in the co-pilot seat. Of course, they ended up killing Han anyway, but at least it became a moment we all experienced and not something that was just written about in a book from twenty years ago. [SyFy]

1/15/2018

Rumor: Warner Bros. "Sour" On Ben Affleck's Batman; Update On Matt Reeves' Bat-Film


I think I've reached critical mass on The Batman rumors. Is Ben Affleck in? Or is he out? Is Matt Reeves' film part of continuity, or not? Until Warner Bros. and DC Films make something official, this will be my last update on it for a while. Fortunately, this update attempts to answer both of the major remaining questions.

Hot on the heels of yesterday's story that The Batman would be outside of the DCEU, and that Ben Affleck's Batman would be written out in Flashpoint or something, brand new nerd site Revenge of the Fans say they've got the real scoop from their own group of WB insiders. Take it with a serious helping of salt.

According to their story, an inside source told them “Batman is DC proper. Reeves’ Batman is connected. Just its own story.” when asked about Reeves' film.

Another insider reportedly told them “None of these Batman rumors are true. Reeves Batman is DC films.”  

The "Just its own story" comment echoes what Reeves said last summer after there was some confusion and fan backlash to assertions it would be non-continuity. What it sounds like is Reeves will make his movie how he wants, and there just won't be any easter eggs tying into Justice League or even alluding to other events in the DCEU. I think this is probably the best way to go to avoid audience confusion, although that could be messed up anyway by the next rumor.

Apparently Warner Bros. is "sour" on Ben Affleck as Batman, and the job is Jake Gyllenhaal's if Affleck opts out of his contract. The problem is that he still has a deal in place, so nothing can really be done unless he decides to split.  We could see Affleck stick around to fulfill the terms of his contract, which would probably put him in The Batman, only to be written out in Flashpoint or Suicide Squad 2.

So there you have it. And I'm done until Warner Bros. gets their shit together.

'The Boy Downstairs' Trailer: Zosia Mamet In What Looks Like A 'Girls' Spinoff


Now that Girls is over with, Zosia Mamet appears to have stumbled into a film that puts her in the position of playing Hannah. The Boy Downstairs marks the directorial debut of Sophie Brooks, and finds Mamet as Diana, a young New Yorker and writer who returns to the city for a fresh start in her new apartment. The problem? Her ex-boyfriend lives in the building below. And he's got a girlfriend. And stuff gets awkward. Hannah awkward, like trying to be friends but really just stalking outside his window awkward.

The film co-stars Matthew Shear (Mistress America) as Diana's ex-boyfriend Ben, joined by Sarah Ramos, Deirde O'Connell, and Diane Irvine. My interest in this is solely about Mamet, who went from my least favorite actress on Girls to the only one I cared about by the end. I don't know where her career goes from there, though, but I hope indie rom-coms is just a starting point and not the finish.

The Boy Downstairs opens in NYC on February 16th and in L.A. on February 23rd.

Al Pacino Eyed For Quentin Tarantino's Manson Film


There was so much clamor about Leonardo DiCaprio joining Quentin Tarantino's untitled Manson family movie that nearly everybody, including me, missed this little nugget. Variety noted in their story about DiCaprio that Tarantino also has designs on getting Al Pacino for a role.

Their report doesn't say much, and for good reason. We know very little about the movie itself, and at this point Tarantino just has Pacino on his wish list. Officially the only one confirmed is DiCaprio, but we've heard Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Margot Robbie mentioned for it. Robbie would be playing Sharon Tate, the slain wife of director Roman Polanski. If all of that comes together...wow, that would be an incredible cast.

So we'll see what happens here. Pacino could use the rub; his last few movies have been especially atrocious and starring in a Tarantino project could be a nice way to rebound.  He's also got Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, so maybe this will be a good year for the legendary actor. Tarantino's untitled movie opens August 9th 2019.

'Double Lover' Trailer: Who Needs 'Fifty Shades Freed' Anyway?


French director Francois Orzon has long since made the erotic thriller the sandbox in which he likes to play. He went off on a tear of them beginning in 1999 with Criminal Lovers, followed by the controversial but acclaimed Swimming Pool, which is the film that really set alight my interest in Orzon as a filmmaker, as I'm sure it did for many others stateside. Now he's back at it with Double Lover, and judging by the trailer it promises to steam up cinemas everywhere, which is exactly what his fans want.

I remember this playing at Cannes last year, but not hearing much about it after. Looks great to me. The film reunites Orzon with Marine Vacth (Young & Beautiful) and Jeremie Renier (Potiche), in telling the racy tale of a fragile young woman who falls in love with her psychoanalyst, only to learn that he is keeping a dangerous secret from her.

Double Lover opens on Valentine's Day in limited release. Looks like a helluva date movie. Who needs Fifty Shades Freed?

DC Readers: Attend A Free Early Screening Of 'Bilal'


We're happy to offer our DC readers the chance to attend a free early screening of the new animated adventure film, Bilal, featuring the voices of Ian McShane,  Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Jacob Latimore.

SYNOPSIS:  1,400 years ago, Bilal, a seven-year-old boy, with a dream of becoming a great warrior, is abducted into slavery with his sister and taken to a land far away from his home and thrown into a world where corruption and injustice rule all. Throughout his life he undergoes many hardships, through which he discovers an inner strength he did not realize he possessed. Through these experiences, Bilal comes to realize that if he is brave enough to raise his voice and choose his own path - everything becomes possible. It is through his courage, that he frees himself and ultimately his community; It is through the power of his voice and faith that his lifelong dream of freedom comes true. Bilal grows into a man who will inspire the world.

The screening takes place on Monday, January 29th at 7:00pm at Regal Majestic in Silver Spring. If you'd like to attend, simply register at the Gofobo ticketing site here and download one Admit-Two pass.  Please remember that all screenings are first come first served, and having passes does not guarantee entry. You will need to arrive early to ensure receiving a seat. Enjoy the show!

Bilal opens on February 2nd.

'The Expendables 4' May Be Back On!


“Just when you thought it was safe to go outside…They’re coming back!”

Who is "they", you ask? It's The Expendables, Sylvester Stallone's team of heavily-oiled, heavily-armed action heroes of a certain age.  News of The Expendables 4's revival was broken by Sly himself on his Instagram, featuring an image of himself alongside co-stars Jason Statham, and Randy Couture. Does this mean they are the only two who have agreed to return? What about Stallone? What got him back for another mission?

This is surprising because just last year Stallone was writing off the franchise he built, unable to come to an agreement with producers on a director and a creative direction for the next movie. Without Stallone, others began to drop out including arguably the film's biggest star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appeared in extended cameos in all three movies. Others who have appeared include Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ronda Rousey, Harrison Ford, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Wesley Snipes, and Mel Gibson.

They can't let these movies end until Jackie Chan gets his turn. Just sayin'.

Has Stallone decided to direct The Expendables 4 himself? He hasn't been behind the camera for one since the first, and arguably worst, movie in the series. But since he's no longer directing Creed 2 perhaps this is the best chance he has to get behind the camera again.

A post shared by Sly Stallone (@officialslystallone) on

Podcast: Cinema Royale Previews Sundance 2018!


With the 2018 Sundance Film Festival right around the corner, it's time for me and Joblo.com's Chris Bumbray to rap about all of the movies that you'll be talking about for the rest of the year. Except we'll have seen them mad early. After freezing our asses off under tents. 
Plus we'll review PADDINGTON 2 and the return of the world's most lovable bear! And the not-so-lovable Liam Neeson is back and in trouble again, this time in THE COMMUTER! Finally, I take aim at Taraji P. Henson's action flick, PROUD MARY!
All this and more! Tune in and follow Cinema Royale on Blogtalkradio as part of Critical: The Movie Critics Network!

'Traffik' Trailer: Paula Patton And Omar Epps Vs. The Sons Of Anarchy


You may not know the name Deon Taylor, but he's the director behind the horror satire, Meet the Blacks, a comic riff on The Purge that starred Mike Epps. It wasn't very good, but it was a chance for Taylor to venture a little bit out of his comfort zone after directing thriller Supremacy, which is actually worth checking out, and the horror Chain Letter which isn't.

Now Taylor is back with another nail-biter, Traffik, which stars Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Laz Alonzo, and Roselyn Sanchez, which is a pretty sweet foursome. They play couples at a gorgeous mountainous retreat who are stalked by a violent biker gang and must fight back to survive. Simple premise, and it looks pretty intense. Somebody's hiding something, that much is clear, and I'm actually pretty interesting in finding out what's going on.  Kinda looks like Green Room, only with 100% more black people, which is nice.

Traffik opens April 27th.