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


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.


Jennifer Lawrence Plans To Make Her Directorial Debut With 'Project Delirium'

At only 25-years-old Jennifer Lawrence has already accomplished more than most actresses twice her age. One thing she hasn't done, but has expressed interest in, is moving behind the camera as director. Well now she's revealed to Entertainment Weekly her plans to direct a film titled Project Delirium. She says...

“I’ve signed on to direct something called Project Delirium — it’s based on this article about mental warfare in the ’60s, like an acid experiment gone terribly wrong. It’s funny, I’ve wanted to direct since I was 16 and always thought I should start making steps towards that. If I had tried to do it earlier, I wouldn’t have been ready. Now I actually feel ready.”

The article she's talking about appears to "Operation Delirium" which appeared in New Yorker back in 2012. Basically it's about the Cold War-era testing of nerve gas and LSD on American soldiers, which doesn't sound like a comedy but one never knows.

Lawrence has already proven she's a threat to do just about anything. She can act, sing, and fall over inanimate objects with the best of them. She's also been very outspoken  about actress salaries compared to their male counterparts, and seems to be making a point to change how things work in Hollywood. A big part of that is creating more projects for female directors and stars.  Her next film, Joy, opens next month is already being eyed as another potential Oscar nomination for her. She also has a comedy she's writing alongside Amy Schumer, but who knows when that will be ready.

Review: 'Legend' Starring Tom Hardy and Emily Browning

Tom Hardy is an amazingly diverse actor, but what's great about him is that he can play a brute just as easily as he can be suave and debonair. It's just not often he's called upon to do both in the same film, and playing opposite himself, no less. But that's what he gets to do in Brian Helgeland's twin gangster tale, Legend, as the infamous London gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray. Double the Hardy is always going to be worth laying down a few bucks to see, but more often than not his dual performances are the only thing Legend has going for it. 

The story of the Krays has been told before in the weird 1990 film, The Krays, which starred two members of the '80s band Spandau Ballet. Legend, thankfully, isn't that; it uses some nifty visual tricks to have Hardy playing both Kray brothers. What's amazing is how easily Hardy becomes two completely different men, bringing different physical attributes, verbal cues and more. It doesn't take long before you forget its one man playing them. If only there were more inspiration in telling the Krays' story, rather than the point-by-point structure it eventually gives way to.

The Krays were kings of the London underground in the 1960s. Their firm, or gang, was infamous for extortion, fraud, and murder. But Reggie, the more level-headed brother, had aspirations of being something more. Strong-arming a therapist to release his psychotic, shark-toothed brother Ronnie from the mental ward, Reggie began using his influence and power to hob-nob with society's elite. He also met the perfect girl, Frances (Emily Browning), and began turning his life around.

Ronnie, an admitted homosexual with a severely violent streak, wasn't a fan of any of this. Not only does he keep yanking his brother back into the seedier side of being a gangster, but he's not too fond of the attention being lavished on Frances. The pull between family obligation and legitimacy is the key dramatic tension, for what little of it there actually is. Helgeland, who also wrote the script, sets up a number of interesting storyline possibilities that go nowhere. A rival gang led by a hammy Paul Bettany is set up as potential foils, but are practically written off in voice-over. Much is made of Frances' mental instability; her brother (played by Colin Morgan) refers to her as "fragile", but little is made of it even though it's something she shares in common with Ronnie. And while Hardy is great playing against a digital version of himself, only Reggie is a character to be taken seriously. Ronnie's uncouth, caveman demeanor is played up as comic relief too often for him to be seen as someone to be feared. Helgeland, along with cinematographer Dick Pope, capture the period details beautifully, evoking the look and energy of Scorsese's Goodfellas.  Still, if you're going to see Legend, see it for Hardy who gets the rare opportunity to beat himself up in a fight. Turns out that twice the Hardy isn't quite enough to ensure a great film, so an average one will have to do.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Free Advance Screening of 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard

We're happy to offer our DC readers a chance to attend a free advance screening of Justin Kurzel's Macbeth, a reinterpretation of Shakespeare's classic starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Fassbender stars as the fearless Scottish General, Macbeth, whose ambitious wife urges him to use wicked means to gain power of the throne.

The screening takes place on Wednesday, December 9th at 7:30pm at AMC Mazza Gallerie. If you're interested in attending, simply go to the Gofobo site here and download one Admit-Two pass. Please note that all screenings are first come, first served, and having passes does not guarantee entry.

Macbeth opens in DC on December 11th.

Quentin Tarantino Teaches About 70mm In 'The Hateful Eight' Featurette

The most frequent question among critics who are scrambling to see everything possible before their local awards is, "What about The Hateful Eight?". It's a good question as we still don't know if it will be presented to us as Quentin Tarantino clearly wants, which is in full 70mm. That's how the Western will be presented when it opens on Christmas Day as part of a traveling "roadshow" of sorts, with The Weinstein Company shelling out a lot of cash to get theaters ready for it. But for those who have no clue what the big deal about 70mm is, Tarantino has released this 7-minute featurette to school you up.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson with other members of The Hateful Eight cast chiming in, it basically runs through the history of 70mm Panavision; the amount of work it takes to present a film in that format, and how roadshows were once considered a special event. This is the same featurette they showed at Comic-Con and it's a good primer on what to expect from Tarantino.

The Hateful Eight opens in 70mm on Christmas Day, followed by a digital theatrical release two weeks later.

Ryan Gosling Orbits Neil Armstrong Role in Damien Chazelle's 'First Man'

Ryan Gosling is about to make a giant leap into the next project by Whiplash director, Damien Chazelle. Actually, since they just finished working together on the musical La La Land, it's more like one small step. Deadline reports Gosling is being sought to star in First Man, a biopic on astronaut Neil Armstrong.

It was late last year that Chazelle signed on for the film which Josh Singer (The West Wing, Spotlight) wrote based on James Hansen's book, First Man: A Life Of Neil A. Armstrong. Obviously, the story chronicles Armstrong's incredible life and career as a member of the Apollo 11 mission and the first man on the moon in 1969.

So talk about a role that could skyrocket Gosling's career. Could it be the film that wins him in Oscar? Only time will tell, but from top to bottom there's great talent involved with this one.

Review: Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

Pixar has been so consistently great, churning out one classic after another for so long, that the rare missteps are conflated. The vaunted animation studio has had very public issues developing The Good Dinosaur; struggling to crack the prehistoric tale's storyline and firing director Bob Peterson when they couldn't figure it out. Even with veteran animation Peter Sohn and a Pixar brain trust coming aboard, the film still feels incomplete and devoid of the depth we're accustomed to from them.

The Good Dinosaur is basically Ice Age, only a lot more violent and scary. We're accustomed to Pixar movies having mature themes that adults can appreciate and kids can grow into, but that's not what this is. It's tonally all over the map and more bizarre than endearing, and features one of Pixar's weakest lead characters in Arlo (voiced by Raymond Ochoa), the runt in an Apatosaurus family.

The film begins promisingly as the giant asteroid that supposedly killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago misses the mark. That means the dinosaurs stuck around and have evolved enough to talk and form their own little civilizations. Arlo comes from a farming family, complete with a chicken coop and everything. Arlo's a wuss; he's scared of literally everything, including the chickens. That makes it hard for him to relate with his family, led by the stoic Poppa Henry (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (Frances McDormand), who just want their children to make their mark in the world. Literally. They want them to make a print in the mud and "mark" it on their food silo, but not until they've made some kind of achievement. Everyone makes their mark but Arlo who is so timid he's a frustration to the family. Audiences may not like him, either.

Perhaps it was Pixar's struggles figuring out an approach, but The Good Dinosaur leans heavily on its influences. One of those, clearly, was The Lion King. When a Mufasa-esque catastrophe befalls the family, Arlo gets swept away by a flood (of which there seem to be daily occurrences) while chasing after the feral cave-boy, Spot (Jack Bright). Arlo blames Spot for everything that has gone wrong, but once lost must rely on him to return home.  For Arlo, being stuck in the Darwinian wilds where snakes, killer Pterodactyls, and velociraptors roam is like a Hellish nightmare. Good thing he has Spot, who basically acts like man's best friend...or dinosaur's best friend, to fight his battles for him, mostly through biting anything that moves. Of course, if Arlo is going to get home he'll need to put his fears aside and learn to survive in the dangerous world.

For all of The Good Dinosaur's problems, visuals aren't one of them. This might be Pixar's most beautiful film yet, featuring colorful images that are stunning and photo-realistic. It's so gorgeous they practically burst from the screen, and looks best when capturing some of the most terrifying moments such as raging flood waters and looming thunderstorms over the hillside. But the story is a mess that takes some truly odd turns. A berry feast turns into a psychedelic high that would put Seth Rogen and James Franco to shame. An encounter with a trio of Tyrannosaurs (including one with Sam Elliott's booming cowboy voice) takes the film on a Western course, and even has Arlo wrangling water buffaloes. Where the film works is in the growing bond between Arlo and Spot. They share a couple of truly sweet moments longing for their families. If only there were more scenes such as those.

Mostly what you'll remember from The Good Dinosaur is Arlo's fearful shriek. He's such a weak, ineffectual character that he's hard to cheer for. We sympathize with his family that had to put up with him. These are not the feelings Pixar hoped to stir, and maybe if there hadn't been a complete overhaul of the story and creative team, it would have been able to inspire more. Instead, The Good Dinosaur will probably be looked upon as one of Pixar's lesser efforts.

 Rating: 2.5 out of 5