With all of his projects, J.J. Abrams has shown extraordinary good taste in casting and ‘Star Wars: Episode 7’ is no different. Forget about the old-timers returning to the saga and think about John Boyega, Adam Driver, Gwendoline Christie and the other terrific thespians being given the biggest spotlight of their careers. Abrams, more than most working filmmakers, knows how to showcase an actor or actress in a way that makes us wonder why they weren’t movie stars before he cast them. Anyway, this is just a longwinded way of getting around to saying that Abrams’ impeccable taste is once again on display since a trio of actors from ‘The Raid’ and ‘The Raid 2’ are apparently in ‘The Force Awakens.’
After the jam-packed month of December, with its huge family-friendly blockbusters and awards season Oscar bait, we have arrived in the month of January. Formerly a dumping ground for mediocre films, the month has taken on a new identity in the past few years as a testing ground for unique genre films (think ‘Cloverfield’) and a solid place to release a horror movie, which seems to do quite well right around New Year’s for whatever reason. This year, we have ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,’ which had a fairly solid opening. Not solid enough to topple the Christmas Week champions, but no one is complaining too much.
You’ve got to hand it to Jonah Hill and James Franco, both of whom manage to effortlessly glide between comedic and dramatic roles. It’s not easy to be a popular goofball and an Oscar nominated “serious” actor, but somehow these two have managed to pull it off. Their latest film, ‘True Story’ is unique in that it is the first project to cast them together in dramatic roles. When you watch the first trailer for film, you can be forgiven for expecting them to drop the dramatic stare-downs and start riffing with each other at any moment.
As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
The 'Taken' films have been a blessing and a curse for star Liam Neeson. Sure, he's found great success in his newfound career as an aging action hero, but the days of Neeson being a completely respectable presence in prestige films seem to have come to an end. So the 'Taken 3' trailer fills us with mixed feelings. We'd love to see Neeson doing something else, but man, he sure is good at killing people.
The odd couple is one of the basic principles of comedy. You take two very different people, fling them into an absurd situation and (hopefully) rack up some good laughs. The ‘Get Hard’ trailer shows off one of the more inspired comedic pairings in recent memory, with the tall whiter-than-white Will Ferrell teaming up with the short black Kevin Hart. If the differences between two lead actors generated laughs on their own, then this is already the funniest movie of 2015.
As major movie productions keep on getting more secretive, even the best laid plans keep on getting foiled by one thing: merchandising. Yes, hide you costumes and characters and plot points all you want, because when the toys arrive, all bets are off! The latest casualty in this very silly war is Iron Man’s new armor (the Mark XLIII), which was supposedly going to make its debut at some point in ‘Avengers 2’ but can now be clearly seen, examined, and salivated over in toy form.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
Every generation has their Batman. Depending on the age of the person you ask, you’ll discover Adam West fans, Michael Keaton fans, Kevin Conroy fans and, if you stare into the darkness long enough, a George Clooney fan. For a certain group of fans, Christian Bale’s take on the Dark Knight always be the definitive interpretation, with his gravelly growl and trademark intensity instantly beating out whatever Ben Affleck brings to the character in ‘Batman vs. Superman.’ Some of these people are going to resent Affleck no matter what. And, in a surprising turn of events, it looks like they can all rally around Bale himself.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
It's been three years since ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ was unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace, convincing even the most die hard fans of Disney's lucrative franchise that Captain Jack Sparrow needed to take a break. Maybe forever. And yet, these past years have been filled with rumors and casting and almost-casting for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.’ Like it or not, this film is coming and now it has the young up-and-comer Brenton Thwaites in its drunken, slurred, overlong clutches.
Marvel's ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was one of the most surprising blockbusters of 2014 for a variety of reasons, but one of the most interesting side effects of its success is that it got people all over the world listening to a bunch of catchy songs from the '60s and ‘70s. Yes, Star-Lord's “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” mix tape took the world by storm, even reaching number one on the billboard charts. Considering how much the soundtrack informed the tone of the film, it's not surprising that the movie ended with the reveal of an “Awesome Mix Vol. 2,” which we‘ll surely get to hear in the sequel.
Now, director James Gunn has revealed the existence of and “Awesome Mix Vol. 0” playlist.
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