Matt Damon

Film Fanatic: ‘Jason Bourne’ News, Charlize Theron in Talks to Join ‘Fast 8’

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Film Fanatic

 

‘Jason Bourne’ Plot Goes to a Dark Place According to Matt Damon

Of all the Super Bowl movie spots to debut last Sunday, the one that got me the most excited was seeing the first footage of Bourne 5 or Jason Bourne as it will be called. It’s been nearly a decade since Matt Damon last trotted around the globe kicking ass, taking names and thoroughly confusing any government that was after him.

Jason Bourne-Universal Pictures
Matt Damon on the set of ‘Jason Bourne.’ | (Universal Pictures)

While The Bourne Ultimatum appeared to be a clean-getaway ending for the character, Damon and director Paul Greengrass were able to come up with a new story that to them is both fresh and exciting. In a recent interview with EW, Damon spoke about how the new film will build upon the foundation laid by the first three films:

“He’s living with the same things as he was before, and then he goes to find Julia Stiles’ character, who basically says, ‘Just because you remember everything, doesn’t mean you know everything.’ So you find him in a place that’s dark and unresolved.”

“This is the completion of this journey that started in the Bourne identity. It’s part of the first three movies, it’s not a whole new chapter. It feels like the conclusion, even though we’re not saying it’s the conclusion, it feels like the conclusion of my identity journey. It goes deeper than Ultimatum, basically.”

Damon basically hinted at the fact that this is the last chapter in Bourne’s story before catching himself and saying it feels like it is. It makes sense to say the character is in a darker place because he now has a clearer picture of his past. The first three movies were about discovering who he was and is and what he’s capable of and this new movie seems to focus on how he deals with everything he’s able to do both good and bad.

Damon also mentioned new cast members including Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones and how they clash over threats not only on the ground, but in cyber space. That should be an interesting angle to go down in relation to Bourne.

Jason Bourne opens July 29.

 

Charlize Theron in Talks to Join ‘Fast 8’

Fresh off of surviving a world of fast cars, explosions and death-defying stunts in Mad Max: Fury Road, Charlize Theron is apparently in talks to star in another movie with the same ingredients. Deadline is reporting that the Oscar-winner is being eyed to play the main villain in Fast 8.

Seems a bit preposterous that she would want to star in a brainless-but-thoroughly-entertaining Fast & Furious installment, but she did previously work with director F. Gary Gray on another action-oriented car movie in The Italian Job so perhaps she’s going through a faze. Or she just likes lots and lots of money.

Charlize Theron-Warner Bros.
Charlize Theron might be going from a badass to a baddie in ‘Fast 8.’ | (Warner Bros. Pictures)

It would certainly be a welcomed change to see a female as the lead villain in a Fast & Furious movie and Theron has played villains before in movies like Prometheus and Snow White and The Huntsman (And the upcoming sequel).

But the concern is how developed her character would be if she was cast. This certainly wouldn’t be a Fast & Furiosa movie (I would love to see that cross-over) as the previous Fast films have featured numerous mustache-twirling bad guys rather than three-dimensional characters.

Fast 8 is supposed to kick off the first of one last trilogy of movies before Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Dwayne Johnson hang up the tire irons and if they’re interested in moving the series in a new direction (Highly unlikely), Theron’s involvement would be a possible sign of change.

But who are we kidding. Furious 7 made more than a billion dollars. You think Universal is going to mess with that formula?

 

Jennifer Jason Leigh Offered Role in ‘Ex Machina’ Director’s ‘Annihilation’

Quentin Tarantino successfully revived another career when he cast Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight. Her performance was insane, strangely comical and sadistic and it earned her an Oscar nomination.

Jennifer Jason Leigh-criticsword.com
Jennifer Jason Leigh’s resurgence could continue with ‘Annihilation.’ | (criticsword.com)

Now the actress has been offered one of the leads in Annihilation, an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel of the same name. The adaptation will be written and directed by Alex Garland who previously wrote such scripts for 28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go and Dredd and who made his directorial debut with the stunning Ex Machina.

Annihilation follows the expedition of four women who are sent into the mysterious “Area X,” a portion of land in the United States that has been secretly quarantined due to abnormal activity. They are the twelfth expedition sent to investigate the area. The other actors already cast include Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Tessa Thompson (Creed).

The Wrap reports that the likes of Frances McDormand, Julianna Moore and Tilda Swinton (All Oscar winners) were all in the mix to play the fourth character but Leigh has now been offered the role. That’s some great company and I can’t see how how she doesn’t take the role considering the material and talent involved.

Film Fanatic: Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer Working on a Movie Together

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Film Fanatic

 

Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer Working on a Movie Together

A couple of months ago I was having a conversation with someone about how unbelievably likable and refreshingly real Jennifer Lawrence was in interviews. She’s just so damn authentic and completely oblivious to her surroundings that she says whatever she wants and its charming and endearing. But when you put her in front of a camera she is the most naturally talented actress to come along in a long time and she can do just about anything.

Then I saw Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and I thought holy cow, we need these two forces of nature in a movie together. I was thinking a road-trip movie.

Well low and behold, my wish has been granted because Lawrence and Schumer, who became close friends, have been writing a movie together according to Lawrence.

“We play sisters. We’re almost done writing. It just flowed out of us. We’ve got about 100 pages right now,” said Lawrence to the New York Times.

Amy Schumer-people.com
These two were made to be together on film. | (people.com)

Their friendship began through emails after Lawrence saw Trainwreck and they started developing a story organically after communicating.

“Amy and I were creatively made for each other. We have different flavors. It’s been the most fun experience of my life,” said Lawrence. “We start the day off on the phone, laughing. And then we send each other pages. And we crack up. I’m flying out tomorrow to see her in Chicago. We’ll write a little bit with her sister, Kim, who worked with Amy when she was writing Trainwreck.”

So all we know is that they’re playing sisters. Nuff said. You’ve got my money. The interesting thing about this project is who do they get to direct it? How about Judd Apatow again or perhaps Paul Feig.

The only concern would be, when will this come out? Schumer still has her show on Comedy Central as well as other projects she’s developing and Lawrence is the most in-demand actress in the business. She’s about to start shooting Passengers with Chris Pratt and she’s also attached to The Rosie Project which could potentially be directed by Richard Linklater.

The earliest we could see the Lawrence/Schumer comedy is 2017 if it’s a smaller scale film. It’s unfortunate we have to wait that long, but just knowing these two are starring in a movie together brings me utter joy.

 

Joaquin Phoenix May Reunite with M. Night Shyamalan

Joaquin Phoenix is one of the five best actors working today and has earned multiple Oscar nominations. Recently he’s worked with such talented auteurs as Paul Thomas Anderson and Spike Jonze and he’s currently in talks to work with someone who used to be in the same class as Anderson and Jonze.

According to Deadline, Phoenix is considering a reunion with his Signs and The Village director M. Night Shyamalan. While details of the project are unknown, Shyamalan’s new film would begin filming this November in Philadelphia.

M. Night Shyamalan-variety.com
This reunion could be beneficial for M. Night Shyamalan. | (variety.com)

Shayamalan has been on a downward spiral for a decade now and ironically, the last time he seemed to have a grip on storytelling, it was with Phoenix in The Village before the whole movie went off the rails in the third act.

The film will be produced by Jason Blum who produced Shyamalan’s upcoming found-footage movie The Visit.

The fact that Phoenix is considering working with Shyamalan again must speak to the quality of the project because as I mentioned earlier, Phoenix has the power to be selective with his projects and he works with top-level talent. He also passed on starring in Marvel’s Doctor Strange so you know it’s not about the money to him.

I’m interested to see how The Visit does because it’s Shyamalan’s first low-budget film in more than a decade. Perhaps a return to his roots will serve him well creatively and we can witness a well-deserved comeback for a filmmaker I believe to be extremely talented. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs are all masterpieces in my opinion and he’s too young and great to not make another quality film.

 

‘Bourne 5’ To Be Influenced By a “Post-Snowden World” According to Matt Damon

It’s been a full eight years since we last saw Matt Damon as Jason Bourne on the big screen. The Bourne Ultimatum felt like a worthy ending to a classic action trilogy and I never thought we’d see him play Bourne again.

But as time passed, Damon said that he was always open to making another Bourne film as long as director Paul Greengrass (Who directed The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum) was onboard and that they had a great script. Both those conditions were finally met and we will be seeing Bourne 5 next summer. But what was it about the script that made Damon want to return?

Matt Damon - indiewire.com
The return of Jason Bourne is long overdue. | (indiewire.com)

While speaking with Buzzfeed, Damon talked about working with a script that was relevant to what was going on in the world today. Like I said, it’s been eight years since we last saw this character. A lot has happened since then.

“Without giving too much of it away, it’s Bourne through an austerity-riddled Europe and in a post-Snowden world,” said Damon. “It seems like enough has changed, you know? There are all these kinds of arguments about spying and civil liberties and the nature of democracy.”

The Bourne series has always existed in a real-world environment (The antithesis of Bond) and it’s exciting that they’re taking this approach with the series moving forward. The days of Bourne trying to remember his past and wrestling with what he has become are over.

The untitled Bourne sequel begins filming next week, and opens July 29, 2016. The film also stars Alicia Vikander, Julia Styles and Tommy Lee Jones.

 

Film Fanatic: ‘Bourne 5,’ Liam Neeson, ‘Deadpool’ Movie

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Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass to Reunite for Bourne 5

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since we last saw Matt Damon portray the memory-stunted, ass-kicking, globe-trotting Jason Bourne.  The Bourne Ultimatum accomplished what so few trilogies have been able to do and that’s end on a high note.  It also somewhat wrapped up Bourne’s story (But also leaving some ambiguity) so the thought was that would be it for Damon and director Paul Greengrass.

Damon of course got asked over and over again if he would ever do another Bourne film and he was always open to returning with one caveat: Greengrass has to direct.  But Greengrass could never really come up with another story worth telling so another sequel never moved forward.  That is until this week.

Deadline has reported that Universal is in early negotiations with Damon and Greengrass to make another film and that Greengrass will for the first time, write the script.

Bourne 5 - indiewire.com
Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon. | (indiewire.com)

This is fantastic news obviously, but it also makes you wonder about the future of Universal’s spinoff series with Jeremy Renner.  The Bourne Legacy was by far the weakest chapter in the franchise, and the least successful, but it made just enough money that the studio planned to move forward on a sequel with Fast Five director Justin Lin at the helm.  Is that project now on the back burner?  Not according to producer Frank Marshall.

“[The Bourne Legacy sequel] is moving forward,” said Marshall.  It’s still in development.  We’re working to get a script as soon as possible.”  Marshall added that because there are no deals with Damon or Greengrass currently, the strategy is to proceed with both projects simultaneously.

“We’re on two tracks.  And if this one [with Damon and Greengrass] comes together, great, but they’re still just talking,” said Marshall.

It sounds as if they’re keen on continuing to create a sort of cinematic universe for the Bourne series in the vain of Marvel.  While this is an interesting and ambitious idea, a Bourne film without Bourne is like having an Avengers movie without Tony Stark.

If they want another Renner-led film to be successful, his character needs to play a key role in the next film with Damon and Greengrass to bridge the massive gap between each series.  I liked Legacy and would definitely be interested in seeing his, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton’s characters again.

A Bourne sequel is planned to be released in 2016.  The question is whether it will star Damon or Renner.  Or both.

Liam Neeson Kill Map

One of the most fascinating film career trajectories is the Liam Neeson action-star era.  Did anyone see this coming?  Since 2005, the towering, gravely-voiced Irishman has battled Batman, countless henchmen in Europe, corrupt military personnel, Gods, wolves, aliens and terrorists.

That’s an impressive nine-year run for a man in his early sixties.  It’s also ironic because while action stars from years past, Schwarzenegger and Stallone (Who are just as old as Neeson), seem to be fizzling with their desperate attempt to return to the glory days, Neeson is thriving in the genre.

Dating back to Batman Begins, if you average out his last seven action-driven films where he has been either the lead or a co-lead, that movie has averaged more than $111 million at the domestic box office.  Arnold and Stallone would take a quarter of that success at this point.

Oh, and by the way, next year he will have Taken 3 and Run All Night dropping between January and April.  A double dose of Neesons!

Liam Neeson Kill Map - nerdrating.com
Liam Neeson has been busy. | (nerdrating.com)

With the release of his latest film, the crime-thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones (Which looks refreshingly restrained), Universal has released a “Kill Map,” chronicling all of his movie kills throughout his career.  They even count the battle droids he mowed down in Episode I.

Now, if someone did this map with Arnold and Stallone, as well as Statham and Van Damme and Seagal and anyone else, they would blow him out of the water as far as career kills.  But remember, these stats are mostly in the past decade.  That’s a Hall-of-Fame type run.

There’s even a key to the right of the map which breaks down each kill.  Death by doorknob is my personal favorite.  What this map is ultimately saying is that Liam Neeson is currently the most bankable action star working today and may I remind you again that he’s 62-years-old!

If you jumped in a hot-tub time machine and went back 20 years to when Schindler’s List was coming out and shouted to everyone at that premiere, “You wait, Oskar Schindler will be the biggest action star in the world,” everyone would look at you like you had three heads.  His run is truly amazing and thank you Universal for highlighting that fact in a map.

Deadpool Movie Finally Happening

The only redeeming quality from the horrendous film X-Men Origins: Wolverine was Ryan Reynolds’ opening scene portrayal of Deadpool.  A character known for his motor-mouth and dark sense of humor, Deadpool was curiously muted (Literally) in the climax of the movie and turned into a nameless goon for Wolverine to fight.

But ever since that film, fans of the character have been waiting for 20th Century Fox to make a spinoff movie of Deadpool.  One of the hurdles could have been the less than stellar box-office track record of Mr. Reynolds.  Despite being good-looking, funny and dramatic when he wants to be, Reynolds has seen an unprecedented streak of poor films bombing financially.

Ryan Reynolds - geekbattleroyale.com
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. | (geekbattleroyale.com)

Green Lantern is the obvious pick; another superhero character, but you can throw in The Change-Up and R.I.P.D as costly failures.

The other hurdle for the film being made was the fact that it’s unavoidable to do a Deadpool movie that isn’t rated R.  But according to producer Simon Kinberg, not only is the film happening, but it will maintain its edge.

“Yeah, it makes sense to me.  Genuinely it’s early phases, early days, but if you’re gonna do a Deadpool movie, I think you’ve gotta do a hard-R, darker movie and he is the perfect character to do it with,” said Kinberg.

The film is rumored to have a $50 million price tag, which is on the low end of Marvel movies due to its rating, but a cheaper movie could bread a more creative and innovative movie for director Tim Miller who’s claim to fame is the spectacular Bondesque opening title sequence for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Deadpool is scheduled to be released on February 12, 2016.  In the meantime, check out this awesome test footage of a possible scene in the movie that was leaked earlier this year.

 

Film Fanatic

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James Spader to Play Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Last week there was some fairly big news regarding a casting decision in the world of superhero movies.  This one is not quite as big, but for fans of The Avengers (And there are a lot of them), this bit of news is probably just as exciting.

James Spader - empireonline.com
James Spader | (empireonline.com)

Marvel announced this week that James Spader has been cast as Ultron, the main villain in the upcoming sequel, The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  The character is apparently a humanoid robot, so it’s unclear whether or not Spader will do motion-capture work for the performance or just provide the voice.

It was thought that Thanos would be the primary villain in the highly-anticipated sequel since he had an after-credits scene, but the fact that Ultron is literally in the title of the sequel probably infers that he will be the main villain.  Marvel is known for thinking outside-the-box when it comes to casting their characters (Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Robert Redford), so the decision to go with Spader is not entirely surprising.  

The three-time Emmy Award Winner has had a diverse career both in film and television and he’s worked with some of the great filmmakers of our time including David Cronenberg, Sidney Lumet, Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone and most recently Steven Spielberg in Lincoln.  No doubt writer/director Joss Whedon has crafted a dark and complex character that Spader will nail.

Matt Damon Joins Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

In other casting news, Matt Damon has joined the already loaded cast for Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic Interstellar.  According to The Playlist, Damon will be playing a minor role as the actor is reportedly only going to be filming for two weeks in Iceland.

Matt Damon - indiewire.com
Matt Damon | (indiewire.com)

The actor joins Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine in the film which centers around a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

Who Damon will be playing (Or anyone else for that matter) is of course a secret, but news of the actor working with Nolan for the first time is exciting.  Despite being a major movie star, Damon doesn’t mind having small roles in films as he has had memorable minor roles, even cameos, in movies like Chasing Amy, Finding Forester, Jersey Girl and my personal favorite, EuroTrip.

Interstellar will be released on November 7, 2014.

Sweet Fake Batman vs. Superman Trailer Released

Well that didn’t take long.  It’s only been a week since news broke that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, but that didn’t deter a fanboy from making an awesome fake trailer for the film.

Splicing together footage from Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Affleck in Daredevil and State of Play, Amy Adams in Trouble With the Curve and random scenes from Elysium and The Prestige, the trailer is well made.  There’s even a shot of Jeremy Irons which I guess means this person wants him to play Alfred.

Of course the other presence in the trailer is Bryan Cranston who is already being talked about as the leading candidate for the Lex Luthor role.  The trailer features scenes from his performance on Breaking Bad, as well as the movie Total Recall, which is really all that movie should be good for at this point.

This will probably be the first of many fake trailers made for this and the next Star Wars film, but hey, us movie buffs need something to tide us over until 2015.  God I love the Internet.

‘Getaway’ Earning Worst Reviews of the Year According to Rotten Tomatoes

A couple of weeks ago, Paranoia, starring Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Liam Hemsworth had the distinction of being not only the worst performing studio film of the year at the box office (It made $3.5 million in its opening weekend), but it was also the worst-reviewed film of the year with a demoralizing 3 percent (Two likes, 62 dislikes) on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the crown of worst film of the year was short lived as we now have a new contender.  Getaway, starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez, has as of this writing, earned a one percent on the critic-tracking website.  That’s one like and 81 dislikes.  For a while the film was well on its way to having the dubious distinction of scoring zero precent and joining the illustrious zero club which includes the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and Ballistic – Ecks vs. Sever, aka the worst film I’ve ever seen.

GETAWAY
‘Getaway’ | (TheWrap)

But then someone had to go and like Getaway.  Norman Wilner of Now Toronto, praised the film’s quick pace and simple story saying, “At a fleet 90 minutes, Getaway feels like the opposite of the increasingly over-complicated Fast & Furious features.”

Anyone accusing the Fast & Furious franchise of being “over-complicated” needs to watch those movies again, but I digress.  While I don’t root for a film to be terrible, there’s a certain symmetry to seeing one with a big fat donut score on Rotten Tomatoes.  The same goes for the other end of the spectrum as well.  Someone had the nerve to dislike The Godfather: Part II and that movie sits at 98 percent with 59 likes and one dislike.

Of course all films are subjective, but when a group of people overwhelmingly dislike a film, there’s a good chance it’s pretty terrible.  Having watched the trailer, Getaway looks that bad.  What a weird year for Ethan Hawke.  He starred in a film with a 98 percent ranking (Before Midnight) and another at one percent.  Would that be considered versatile acting or is Hawke about to go down a Nic Cage path of erratic acting choices?  Let’s hope for the former.

 

 

 

 

Film Fanatic

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Sylvester Stallone Calls Out Bruce Willis on Twitter For Being Too Greedy

Imagine being offered $3 million for four days of work.  Then imagine someone turning it down because they want an additional million tacked on.  That’s what Bruce Willis reportedly demanded to reprise his role in the upcoming sequel The Expendables 3.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Willis turned down $3 million for four days of consecutive work on location in Bulgaria.  “He said he’d drop out unless he got $4 million,” said a source close to the production.  “A million dollars a day.  Stallone and everybody else involved said no.”

bruce-willis-expendables-2 - IGN
Bruce Willis | (IGN)

Sylvester Stallone was particularly upset by Willis’ decision but he seemed to get over it quickly by announcing that Harrison Ford had agreed to join the production.  Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas have since signed on too.  Who’s left by the way?  Eastwood, Neeson, The Rock?  We’ll save them for number 4.

“WILLIS OUT … HARRISON FORD IN!!!!  GREAT NEWS!!!!  Been waiting years for this!!!!,” tweeted Stallone.  He then followed that up with, “GREEDY AND LAZY … A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE.”

I don’t blame Stallone for being irked by Willis’ decision.  The Die Hard actor has had a pretty lucrative year with February’s A Good Day to Die Hard and March’s GI Joe: Retaliation each grossing more than $300 million worldwide so he’s certainly doing a lot better financially than his fellow Expendables action stars.  I mean really Bruce?  Was that extra million that important?

But to publicly call out Willis on Twitter is a bit unprofessional.  The last time I checked, the last decade of Stallone’s career has been dedicated to desperately clinging to old ’80s franchises (Rocky and Rambo) as well as The Expendables franchise which is essentially a geriatric ’80s muscle-man reunion tour.

Plus he’s developing a Rocky spinoff movie focusing on Apollo Creed and he’s starring in another boxing movie with Robert De Niro (Yes, it’s true) which will be released later this year.  Call Willis greedy all you want Stallone but at least he’s still taking chances in his career (Looper, Moonrise Kingdom).

Does Matt Damon Have a Non-Bourne Hit In Him?

Matt Damon is one of the biggest movie stars in the world.  He’s won an Academy Award, worked with a number of acclaimed directors (Spielberg, Soderbergh, Scorsese, Eastwood, Greengrass, Coen Brothers) and he’s constantly in demand.

But if you stop and look at his career, other than the Bourne franchise, Damon hasn’t been the lead in a major box office hit since 1997’s Good Will Hunting.  That’s sixteen years ago!  The Ocean’s Trilogy, Saving Private Ryan and The Departed were all successes for Damon, but they were all ensembles.  True Grit was a hit three years ago, but Jeff Bridges was the star of that film.

Matt-Damon-in-Elysium
Matt Damon | (Collider)

 

I bring this up because Damon is headlining his first summer blockbuster in six years with the release of Elysium.  Boasting a budget of $110 million, the Sci-fi film is projected to gross $35 million this weekend which would be good but not great, especially compared to two other original Sci-fi films (Oblivion, Pacific Rim) which each grossed $37 million in their opening weekend and failed to reach $100 million domestically.

Damon is a great actor and he tends to choose smarter roles over summer blockbusters but Elysium looks like a bit of both.  It’s currently fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s directed by Neill Blomkamp whose first feature film, District 9, was an intelligent science fiction film that blended thrilling action sequences with social commentary.

Elysium looks like it will be a modest success and Damon deserves it.  He’s had a diverse career that speaks to the versatility of his abilities as an actor.  But every actor has to do a popcorn movie every once in a while right?  Brad Pitt just did one, Denzel Washington has done a few as of late and that’s the only thing Will Smith does.  It’s Damon’s turn.

The Monuments Men Trailer Debuts

Speaking of Matt Damon.  He’s in yet another ensemble this Christmas with the George Clooney-directed film The Monuments Men.  Starring Clooney, Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and John Goodman, the film tells the true story of a World War II platoon whose mission was to track down and preserve precious works of art before they were taken by the Nazis.

The trailer certainly has an Ocean’s Eleven vibe about it but I was disappointed that Bill Murray didn’t get any memorable lines in the trailer.  Hopefully they’re saving his best stuff for when the film is released.  I can’t wait for this film for two reasons: that amazing cast that Clooney has assembled and that it reminds me of one of my favorite movies growing up, Kelly’s Heroes (Look it up kids).  I mean who wants to kill a bunch of Nazis when you can steal gold or art.  That sounds way cooler.  The Monuments Men opens December 18.

Film Fanatic

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Tom Cruise Sci-fi Movie Gets New Title

Tom Cruise isn’t done with his sci-fi faze just yet.  After starring in this year’s Oblivion, Cruise has another science fiction action movie slated to be released next summer and it is getting a new title.

Announced via Twitter by Mr. Cruise himself, Warner Bros. has retitled his sci-fi thriller All you Need Is Kill with the much more commercial and less violent sounding Edge of Tomorrow.  While it certainly sounds like the title of a Bond film, Edge of Tomorrow is much better than All You Need Is Kill which sounds like the title of a Grindhouse picture from the ’70s.

Tom Cruise - WB
Tom Cruise | (WB)

Directed by Doug Liman, the movie is set in the near-future where an alien race has attacked Earth.  Cruise plays a military officer sent on a suicide mission despite the fact that he’s never seen a day of combat.  Killed almost immediately, He’s thrown into a time loop where he dies during battle and returns to fight the aliens with increased skill and knowledge of their weaknesses.  Almost like Groundhog Day with a little Source Code thrown in.

The photos of Cruise in his weapon mech suit look pretty badass and I’m looking forward to another action film from Liman who also directed The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  Hopefully Edge of Tomorrow resembles those two well-made pictures and not his last action film, Jumper.

Liman and WB will be presenting some footage of the movie at this year’s Comic-Con.  The film costars Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton and it will be released on June 6, 2014.

Matt Damon’s ‘Elysium’ Role Was First Offered to Eminem.

Wait…….what?  You read that correctly.  Director Neill Blomkamp originally envisioned Marshall Mathers, AKA Eminem, as the futuristic anti-hero who takes desperate measures to save himself and restore justice to the world by invading Elysium.

Blomkamp’s follow-up to his debut hit District 9 was meant to be a low-budget project.  The South African director first envisioned Ninja, a rapper with the South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord, as the hero Max De Costa.  When Ninja declined, Blomkamp then went after Eminem to take the role.

The movie is set in 2154 where Earth has become a decayed and crowded slum where people struggle to survive while the privileged members of society live on the floating space metropolis known as Elysium.  When De Costa discovers he has cancer, he sets out to reach Elysium to cure himself and provide the people of Earth with the health care they require.

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Elysium | (TriStar/Getty Images)

 

Blomkamp met with Eminem to talk about the project and he was interested in the role.  But he had one stipulation that the movie be shot in his hometown of Detroit.  Blomkamp and the studio were unable to bring the project to Michigan, so they moved on and eventually settled with Matt Damon.

While it would have been interesting to see the Real Slim Shady take on such a role, he only has one major acting credit under his belt and that was essentially playing himself in 8 Mile.

Damon is obviously a more accomplished actor and his presence was no doubt a contributing factor to Elysium ultimately becoming a major summer movie.  It’s my most anticipated film of the year and Damon is a major reason why.  Eminem would have been an inspired choice, but it’s best to lead the acting to the actors and the rapping to the rappers.

Netflix Cropping Movies At An Extreme Level

So apparently a Tumblr called What Netflix Does has discovered that the company is cropping its movies to a ridiculous degree.  You might not notice when you’re watching a movie with the service, but the Tumblr features a number of glaring before-and-after examples that, to any cinephile, is awful.

Netflix Cropping - Gizmodo
Netflix Cropping | (Gizmodo)

Most movies these days are shot in a 16:9 aspect ratio, but Netflix is cropping the 2.39:1 image from the original frame to fill your television screen.

The website Gizmodo reached out to Netflix for a response and this is what they got:

“We want to offer the best picture and provide the original aspect ratio of any title on Netflix.  However, unfortunately our quality controls sometimes fail and we end up offering the wrong version of a title.  When we discover this error, we work to replace that title as soon as possible.”

This is just lazy and irresponsible.  The filmmakers who make movies have a specific vision (most of the time) in mind and they frame scenes in a specific way.  If you can’t see everything that’s going on inside the frame, then that’s editing someone else’s work.

I thought we fixed this problem with the emphasis on wide-screen formatted televisions and no longer releasing Blu-rays and DVDs in full-screen.  As someone who still buys discs (a dying industry), I feel a little more justified in that now.  As convenient and fast as streaming services are, they’re still not perfect.  For the average home-entertainment consumer that might be fine, but for me it’s not.

Film Fanatic

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2013 Movie trend emerges

Every year, usually by accident, a trend occurs in a number of movies.  Last year it was our fascination with bow and arrows (The Hunger Games, Brave, The Avengers), the year before it was the public’s desire not to see Ryan Reynolds movies (Green Lantern, The Change-Up, Buried).

This year’s trend: Hostility toward the President.  There have been years in the history of film where two high-profile movies come out with essentially the same plot (’97: Dante’s Peak, Volcano; ’98: Armageddon, Deep Impact; ’04: Chasing Liberty, First Daughter).  Well now you can add 2013 and the battle of White House takeover movies to that list as White House Down goes head-to-head with Olympus Has Fallen.

Based on who’s involved with both films, the early favorite is White House Down.  With a more high-profile director (Roland Emmerich), a significantly larger budget, more bankable stars (Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx) and an almost guaranteed PG-13 rating, White House Down will almost certainly become the bigger hit.  Of course it would be wrong for a year where the US government is attacked multiple times not to involve Roland Emmerich.  Judging by his past work (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), the blockbuster director can’t get enough of seeing the Oval Office destroyed.

Olympus has fallen
Photo: IMDB

Olympus Has Fallen has done surprisingly well despite its R-rating and the usually toxic box-office star Gerard Butler in the lead.  The film was a nice little throwback to action films of the ’80s and ’90s and it was a better Die Hard knockoff than the actual Die Hard movie that came out this year.  The movie is on pace to finish near the $100 million mark and considering its relatively cheap price tag ($70 mil) for an action movie, Fallen will turn out to be one of the surprises of the year.

But the trend doesn’t end with just the house at 1600 Pen.  Trailers for Iron Man 3 and World War Z reveal major action set pieces involving the destruction of Air Force One.  They should really look into amping up security.  I mean if you can’t prepare for a terrorist called The Mandarin or flesh-eating zombies than what’s the point.

Trailer(s) of the Month: Tie between Elysium and Man of Steel 

I know there’s another week to go in April, but this month has been so good that I’ve nominated two for not only best of the month, but perhaps early candidates for trailers of the year.

Elysium

A couple months ago I revealed my five under-the-radar movies to look forward to this year.  Atop that collection of films and number one on my most anticipated list was Elysium.  At the time I hadn’t seen any footage and the only photo was of a bald Matt Damon holding a badass futuristic weapon.

But because it was the follow-up film for director Niel Blomkamp (District 9 being the first), I was most excited to see what he could possibly do next in the sci-fi genre.  Based on this trailer, it looks as if he has once again delivered an entertaining futurist movie full of cool toys, unique landscapes and a socially-relevant underlining message ( a staple for any great science fiction).  District 9 was presented as a futurist allegory for the issue of illegal immigration.  Elysium looks to focus on the super privileged and elite versus the 99 percent.  If there’s a downside, it’s that we have to wait until August to see it.

Man of Steel

The first two Man of Steel trailers revealed Warner Bros. was attempting to do with Superman what they did with Batman.  Treating a superhero as a bit of an outcast in society is an effective theme that grounds the comic book genre in reality and the first two trailers strongly emphasized that theme.

man-of-steel-henry-cavill5-600x387
Photo: Collider

But the new trailer says, “remember how you all complained Superman Returns didn’t have enough action, well here you go.”  The latest preview features more of Superman’s father Jor-El as well as what is presumably planet Krypton in the middle of a war.  There’s also more Lois Lane and more of the villain played by the always intense Michael Shannon.  If there’s one thing Zack Snyder knows how to do, it’s shoot action so looks like fans won’t be disappointed in that department.

It’s also worth noting that this incarnation of Superman will not feature John William’s iconic score (Boooo).  But hearing Hans Zimmer’s new interpretation for the movie sounds terrific.  It has a great heroic sound about it and the crescendo does not disappoint.  June 14 can’t come soon enough.

Opening this week: 

Oblivion 

The latest Tom Cruise vehicle opens with much hype.  Returning to the science fiction genre (this time without Steven Spielberg), Cruise teams up with Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski to tell the story of Jack Harper, a drone repairman who inadvertently discovers the reasons behind Earth being uninhabitable.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it has something to do with the people Jack works for.

The reviews so far have been decent.  Although the common theme among top critics is that on a technical level, Oblivion is a sight to behold.  But as far as originality and sole, the sci-fi epic falls short.  Kosinski has a background in architecture rather than film and based on those comments about Oblivion as well as Tron: Legacy, I’d say the young director needs to stick to the visuals and leave the writing up to somebody else.

Place beyond the pines
Photo: Collider

The Place Beyond the Pines

Getting a wide release is the crime epic from Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance.  Starring a heavily tattooed Ryan Gosling, a clean cut Bradley Cooper and the always lovely Eva Mendes, the nearly two-and-a-half hour film connects three separate stories about fathers and sons, the consequences of our actions and how far we’re willing to go to survive.

The film has been receiving outstanding reviews and I’m always interested in seeing what surprises the versatile Gosling has to offer with each new film he’s in.  And after seeing Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook, I’m excited to see him play a conflicted cop dealing with police corruption.

There was a time when I was more excited to see summer fair like Oblivion over something small like PinesBut as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realisation that story, character development and good writing trump any action sequence.  If I had to pick between the two to see this weekend, I’d choose Pines.

Film Fanatic: Five 2013 Movies to See

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We’ve reached the beginning of a new year and with that comes what I like to call “Leftover Movies.” These are films released in January and February that seemed to be leftovers from the previous year that studios deemed too bad to release in the fall and have little expectation of making money.

This year’s prime example is Broken City. The film, starring Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones has performed poorly both critically and financially. Despite three big names in the cast, Fox realized it had a stinker on its hands and therefor released it as soon as possible so that they could eventually feature it in heavy rotation on the FX Network in two years.

Warm Bodies
A rom-com for the guys and the ladies.

But I don’t want to talk about bad movies with no expectations. I’m here today to discuss movies coming out this year that I feel could be really good. Instead of mentioning the obvious choices (Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Into Darkness, Anchorman: The Legend Continues, etc..), here’s five movies I’m looking forward to that might not be on your radar.

Warm Bodies (Release date: February 1)

Just when you thought the zombie genre had been done to death (Yeah Puns!), Warm Bodies comes along. Based on the popular novel of the same name, Bodies follows R, a zombie aimlessly walking through life and bored out of his mind. But when he saves Julie from an attack, not only does he begin to fall in love with her, he also sets in motion the possibility of a cure for the entire undead race.

Based on the trailer, this film looks like it has a lot of potential. Thankfully steering clear of any relation to the Twilight franchise, Warm Bodies feels like a creative film that will balance the love story, comedy and zombie gore effectively. This also looks like an exception to my earlier theory of February releasing bad films. Let’s hope that is the case.

Elysium (Release date: August 9)

We don’t know a whole lot about this movie yet (and that might be a good thing). Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, Elysium explores the two classes of people existing in the year 2159. The first lives in a luxurious man-made space station called the Elysium. The second class endures overpopulation in Earth’s ruin.

Matt-Damon-in-Elysium
Jason Bourne got a haircut.

Like his first film District 9, director Neill Blomkamp appears to have created yet another futuristic thriller that tackles contemporary issues like immigration and government control. There’s plenty of space in the summer for mindless action movies so it’s refreshing to see one that appears to have some intelligence behind it.

This is apparently the year for sci-fi. Damon has Elysium, Cruise has Oblivion, Smith has After Earth and then of course there’s Star Trek. But of all these, Elysium is my most anticipated. Of course at this point all we have as far as footage is this kick-ass photo of Damon wielding some futuristic weapon called the Chemrail. That’s really all I need to see.

Gravity (Release date: October 4)

There’s one other sci-fi film I forgot to mention and that’s Gravity. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron whose last film was the masterpiece Children of Men, Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission working with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) in command of his last flight before retiring.

On a seemingly routine spacewalk, the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone-tethered to nothing but each other and drifting out into space. Now they have to rely on each other to stay calm, conserve oxygen and figure out how to get back to earth.

Cuaron crafted some remarkable unbroken shots in Children of Men, and it’s rumored that the opening scene of Gravity will be a single 17-minute shot. The film was originally slated to come out in 2012, but due to the endless amount of CGI and 3D effects, it will be released in October.

The Counselor (Release date: November 15)

Counselor
Photo from the set of ‘The Counselor.’

Why am I excited for a movie that doesn’t come out for another ten months? Let me go over the reasons. Ridley Scott directing. Check. Acclaimed author Cormac McCarthy writing the script (His first screenplay). Check. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. Check!

The film centers on an attorney (Fassbender) who teams with Reiner (Bardem) to sell $20 million worth of cocaine. Pitt is reportedly playing the villain. The only way I’d be even more excited for this is if the Coen Brothers were directing, but I guess I’ll settle for the great Ridley Scott.

The Monuments Men (Release date: December 18)

What I just said about The Counselor goes for this film as well. Director, writer and star George Clooney leads a team of art historians and museum curators to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.

It’s like Ocean’s Eleven in World War II. And who’s this team of art experts? How about Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin. Oh and let’s thrown in Bill Murray just for the hell of it. Clooney can do no wrong in my book so this will undoubtedly garner great critical acclaim and multiple Oscar nominations.

So while you’re making your way through the summer robots, superheroes and zombies, keep an eye out for these films. What do all of these films have in common? They’re not sequels or prequels or remakes, just original pieces of work with the potential to be both entertaining and smart.

Adjust This ‘Bureau’

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♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ 1/2   out of    ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

What if every red light, every dropped call, and every missed bus wasn’t because of luck or chance? What if there is someone who makes sure you can’t find your keys in that moment when you’re rushing out the door? What if someones there to keep things going along a “plan?” A plan that must be adjusted when things go wrong…

In the world of The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon plays an up-and-coming/bad-boy congressman who takes a PR hit on election night and loses an important bid for New York senate. He retreats to the mens room to gather himself and practice his concession speech, when minutes later, the stunning Emily Blunt emerges from an empty stall. This is what the great Roger Ebert would call a “Meet-Cute,” when two beautiful people meet in a movie and set the rest of the film in motion with a glance or a kiss… and kiss they do, before she leaves (to escape security after wedding crashing) the young congressman to make his concession speech.

Here’s where it gets interesting… In the world of The Adjustment Bureau, everyone and everything is watched over by an FBI-type agency that adjusts events according to their neat little timeline-notebooks. Matt Damon’s character has been guided since before he was born and is of particular importance due to his future in politics. The charming young congressman and the beautiful wildcard ballerina were only “supposed” to meet once.   So when he finds his dream-girl sitting on the bus a month later (instead of spilling coffee on his shirt while walking to the bus stop), the meeting that should have been their first, now becomes something that was never meant to be, and excitement ensues.

The Adjustment Bureau reminded me of Inception or The Matrix when I was watching it, due in no short manner to it being loosely based on a Phillip K Dick story, and had the break-neck pacing of Minority Report… but all of this is after thought. Let me stress the fact that while I was watching it, I wasn’t thinking about any of thatI was glued to the screen. The Adjustment Bureau falls into a category of movie that is pretty much perfect… not due to anything that will get it an award… but simply because it all works. The acting, the story, the action, the music, all click together like pieces of a machine that whirls beautifully in front of you. I love being able to walk out of a movie saying, “this is how all movies should be made!” (Also at this point let me stress my perceived difference between “movies” and “films”, films are meant to be taken seriously, movies are for fun.)

I took my 10-year-old daughter to see The Adjustment Bureau, and she loved it (save the one, very tame love scene). So while not the simplest plot I’ve ever seen, the way it is handled is very laymen. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say: once Damon puts on a hat, things get very intense. The movie dabbles with enough pseudo-philosophy to give it weight, but not enough to hold in down during the action. The Bureau are the agents of fate, who answer to “the chairman…” “Humans have many names for us,” Damon’s caseworker from the Bureau tells him. The story takes place in a complicated world, where people can be yanked out of real life and into a giant warehouse-world-between-worlds kind of place that only the agents have access to.

If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because The Adjustment Bureau tells a wonderful and suspenseful story with fragments of stories we’ve already seen… but it doesn’t sink in until after you leave the theater. If you’re like me and can suspend your belief enough to get swept up in a good story, then movies like this are treasure. I can go back and find references to a dozen sci-fi movies in the Bureau, but at the heart of it are Blunt and Damon, who’s chemistry is so good that you can feel their yearning… their love… their earnestness… so at the time I didn’t care, and I still don’t. The Adjustment Bureau is a great, heartfelt action movie that takes the audience on a thrill-ride through New York City, not because of silly plot devices or catchy special effects, but because we’re able to feel with the characters, we want them to succeed, and to overcome the trappings of fate. Sure it has echoes of Inception, the Matrix, and Minority Report, but it’s  expertly crafted, and excellently put together, besides- those are all excellent movies to echo.

The Adjustment Bureau is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.

 

New Releases in theaters for Friday 3/4

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EUGENE– Oscars hangover anyone? Well if you haven’t seen all of the award winning films from last Sunday, especially The King’s Speech, then you’ve still got another week at local theaters. The Fighter, True Grit, and Black Swan are all excellent movies, and are still playing. Opening this weekend, however, is another wave of bigger movies… ah the oncoming tide of summer.

Rango movieFirst up we’ve got the charmer Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp. Rango is brought to us by the makers of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and looks like all the fun an animated chameleon can have in the wild west. It follows the adventures of Rango, a city-slicker chameleon who winds up in the western town of Dirt… that just so happens to need a sheriff. Rango is NOT in 3D, thank the stars. I’ve seen the preview a few times, and my kids are dying to see it. This is one that I’ll be glad to take them too. Rango is rated PG for rude humor, language, action and smoking.

Second out is the Matt Damon thriller The Adjustment Bureau. Damon plays an up and coming politician who takes on the agents of fate in order to meet Emily Blunt. The two flee across New York City and try to outsmart the Bureau, an FBI-type force that corrects fate when things go wrong. It sounds like an intriguing plot, and it looks like a smartly made movie. For anyone wanting action and romance, The Adjustment Bureau is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexuality and a violent image.

Next up we’ve got the comedy Take Me Home Tonight, yes named after the hit song from the 80s. The movie takes place late in that same decade and follows Topher Grace (from That 70s Show) as he graduates MIT, gets sickened by the greed and materialism of the 1980s, and quits his high-paying job to work in a video store. The movie centers around a Labor Day Weekend party where the sensitive male lead follows his dream girl around… Like a John Cusak movie. Take Me Home Tonight is rated R for language, sexual content and drug use.

Last up is the teen drama Beastly. Think Beauty and the Beast meets Twilight… which is weird because we’re also getting a Little Red Riding Hood meets Twilight… I’ll be glad when this Twilight things is over. Anyway, Beastly is brought to you by CBS Films and is rated PG-13 for language including crude comments, brief violence and some thematic material.