John Wick review

Ninety percent of action movies are derivative. Carbon copies of better movies that came before them. They can be enjoyable, but are often forgettable. Then there’s the other ten percent. Those movies are something special. They originate and innovate, and rise about the rest by being different and surprising. However, by definition, even the best of the best employ many of the same beats. Punching, kicking, shooting, and explosions are the building blocks of an action movie. The ninety percent use them in ways we’ve seen before. The rest mix them up in ways we don’t expect. John Wick is among the ten percent.

In the first film by accomplished stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, Keanu Reeves stars as an unstoppable assassin hell-bent on revenge after thugs steal his car and kill his dog. We’ve seen the assassin revenge story a hundred times, but John Wick feels different because it’s set in a unique, dirty, and lived-in world. Everyone has a reputation. Connections. They know each other. This is a place with a rich history simmering below the surface action of guns, choke holds and car crashes. What makes John Wick a standout action film is that it makes us curious. Read More »

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Last Witch Hunter release

Briefly: Vin Diesel has your Halloween entertainment all covered for next year. Lionsgate has set his fantasy actioner The Last Witch Hunter for October 23, 2015, where it’ll be up against Jon M. Chu’s Jem and the Holograms and an untitled horror film from Warner Bros.

Directed by Breck Eisner (The Crazies), The Last Witch Hunter stars Diesel as an immortal witch hunter who is the last of his kind. (You know, like the title says.) When a group of covens in modern-day New York threaten to unleash a plague on humanity, he must join forces with his natural enemy, a female witch played by Rose Leslie.

Julie Engelbrecht plays the villainous Witch Queen. Elijah Wood and Michael Caine also star in the film, which will wrap shooting in December. [Lionsgate]

Hunger Games Mockingjay - Katniss 2

Any successful film franchise requires solid world-building. In the case of The Hunger Games, that world has a way of extending into ours, thanks to Lionsgate’s brilliant marketing campaign. Their latest effort for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is a five-part web series called District Voices, featuring YouTube personalities like iJustine showcasing different aspects of life around Panem.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Lionsgate is forgoing more traditional advertising efforts, either. The studio has also released a new promo featuring new footage from Katniss’ plight. Hit the jump for the Hunger Games District Voices series and the new Hunger Games Mockingjay TV spot.

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Dying of the Light protest

Yesterday we saw the trailer for Dying of the Light, the new film directed by Paul Schrader from his own script, with Nicolas Cage and Anton Yelchin starring as intelligence agents. But there’s some troubled backstory to the movie, and it isn’t really Schrader’s film now. He was locked out of the edit as the producers took over final cut and added their own score. Nicolas Winding Refn, who is on the film as exec producer, called the process “artistic disrespect.” Now the creators have lodged a creative Dying of the Light protest.

Schrader can’t talk about it because of the non-disparagement clause in his contract. So he, Refn, and his stars have posed wearing shirts bearing the text of that contract. Those images accompany a statement from the director, released today.  Read More »

Mockingjay Part 1 Teaser

In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 things are looking like they’re going from bad to worse for Katniss. The character played by Jennifer Lawrence endured a second round of Games in the last film, but now she has to face the wrath of rulers in The Capitol who won’t stand for even a spark of rebellion to float through the grey haze they call society. And so preventative action has been taken, and in this new Mockingjay Part 1 teaser Katniss is forced to confront it.

Compared to the first trailer this is far more somber, and uses almost entirely new footage. Watch after the jump. Read More »

Dying of the Light trailer

In Dying of the Light Nicolas Cage plays an intelligence agent who wants to do something worth remembering. Based on the Dying of the Light trailer, Nic Cage may not achieve the same thing in this movie.

We’ve followed the film’s strange history for a while: scripted by Paul Schrader, Dying of the Light was originally going to be directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, with Harrison Ford in the lead. But Ford and Refn had creative differences and that version fell apart. Eventually Schrader directed the film with Cage starring and Refn acting as exec producer. But there has been conflict between Schrader and the film’s primary producers, resulting in a final edit that does not involve the director. Check out the trailer below to see a representation of what will hit theaters in December. Read More »

Home Sweet Hell red-band trailer

So Katherine Heigl and Patrick Wilson star in Home Sweet Hell, a vision of a very messy marriage. Wilson plays the former used-car salesman husband, and Heigl the woman who has smoothed him out over the years. But he’s having an affair, with Jordana Brewster, and when she claims to be pregnant, Heigl’s character responds with murderous intent. Heigl is actually in a sort of Lisa Kudrow mode here as she orders murder in the most peppy, up-beat manner. (Shades of Serial Mom come to mind, too.) This Home Sweet Hell red-band trailer is somewhat cute and not safe for work. Read More »

new John Wick trailer

I don’t think I spoke to anyone at Fantastic Fest who saw John Wick and didn’t like it. I heard praise for Keanu Reeves‘ turn as a killer, for the action and overall direction of Chad Stahelski, who was Reeves‘ stunt double in The Matrix, and stunt choreographer for Man of Tai Chi, and, yeah, for the dog. You’ll see the dog again in this new John Wick trailer, and get a taste of everything else, too, as it promotes the story of a former assassin (Reeves) who goes back into action to target gangsters who have “taken everything from him.” Read More »

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