Finding Dory

A couple weeks ago, I got a chance to chat with writer/director Andrew Stanton about his new Pixar film Finding Dory. The film hit theaters this past weekend and earned an estimated $136.2 million, breaking the record for the biggest animated opening of all time. (Looks like my Summer Movie Wager pick wasn’t that stupid after all, although we’ll have to see how it does in the second weekend to see if it really has a chance to beat Captain America: Civil War this summer.)

I decided to hold off until after release to publish the full interview as we talk about some spoilers (so stop now if you haven’t seen the film). I talked with Andrew about the real and unexpected meaning behind the film’s title, how he tried (or didn’t try) to avoid the traps of “sequelitis,” how the sea lions and Sigourney Weaver got involved, and of course that story about the symbiotic relationship between the Disney’s story trust and Pixar brain trust that I shared last week. Read the full interview now, after the jump.
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Anton Yelchin dead

Actor Anton Yelchin, probably best known for his roles in the J.J. Abrams-produced Star Trek movies, was tragically killed early Sunday morning in a car crash.

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Finding Dory review

Note: We originally ran Peter’s Finding Dory review on June 10. We’re re-running it now that the film is in theaters.

Finding Dory is an example of why we should never underestimate Pixar. Did we need a sequel to Finding Nemo? No. This film is unnecessary… yet somehow Finding Dory is a fun, rewarding emotional journey. Join me after the jump for a virtually spoiler-free reaction to Pixar’s latest film.

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HDTGM: A Conversation with Renny Harlin

 

Renny Harlin

A couple months back, Paul Scheer and the gang covered The Covenant on How Did This Get Made? Ever since then, Paul and I have been trying to arrange an interview with the film’s director, the great Renny Harlin, a Finnish-born filmmaker best known for helming action-packed classics like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger.

It took a little while to coordinate the conversation, as Harlin has been stationed in China these past two years. But luckily for us, between finishing post on his upcoming Jackie Chan film Skiptrace and launching his new production company in Beijing, Harlin carved out an hour to take a stroll down memory lane.

During our chat, we talked about all sorts of things. From his mission to assemble the “sexiest cast ever” for The Covenant to his original choice to play the villain in Cliffhanger. But as interesting as details like that can be—and as wonderfully quotable as Harlin tends to be—they pale in comparison to the unexpected and over-arching story of Harlin’s career. A career that, as you will now see, never even should have been…

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raiders interview

Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is one of the most purely entertaining documentaries you will see this year, a tribute to the joys of cinema and the agonies of childhood. Directors Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen tell the story of Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, two childhood friends who set out to remake Steven Spielberg‘s Raiders of the Lost Ark. When they were eleven years old. In 1982. Their efforts resulted in Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, which has found a cult following over the years. Raiders! pulls double duty, exploring the making of the original fan film and the modern attempt by Strompolos and Zala to actually finish what they began as children and complete the one scene they never managed to film: the famous brawl on the German Flying Wing.

With the film currently touring around the country for the rest of the summer (you can check out the schedule and purchase tickets here), I sat down with Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala to talk about their experiences in making “the greatest fan film ever made,” their future filmmaking endeavors, and whether or not they’re sick and tired of Raiders of the Lost Ark at this point.

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Rich Moore Finding Dory

At the conclusion of Finding Dory, I was surprised to see Wreck-It Ralph/Zootopia director Rich Moore‘s name listed in the special thanks section of the film’s credits. I decided to ask Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton about it and the fascinating story that followed gives us some insight into how the Disney/Pixar creative ecosystem works, and how the creative heads of each company help push each other to create better stories. What’s the story behind that Rich Moore Finding Dory credit? Find out, after the jump.

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dungeons and dragons warcraft review

When Warcraft opened last week, the big screen adaptation of Blizzard’s opeugely popular fantasy franchise was greeted with scathing reviews from critics and lackluster box office from domestic audiences. For many viewers, director Duncan Jones‘ high fantasy epic of orcs and wizards and magic and war was dead on arrival. Normal people, it seemed weren’t interested in this movie or its world. It was too outlandish, too nerdy, too inscrutable.

However, every movie deserves a fair shake and I decided the best way to approach Warcraft would be to view it through the lens of the nerdiest people I know, the people who would be most open to what this movie was selling. If my Dungeons & Dragons group couldn’t embrace Warcraft, who would?

So I gathered my fellow adventurers at the local tavern to chat about this divisive film and it turns out that even people who spend hours going on fantastical adventures that only exist on paper and in dry erase marker were also thoroughly divided. Here’s our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity. Each participant is identified by their D&D character class and race (I’m the human rogue, for the record) and we get into major spoilers.

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no one recap

Every season of Game of Thrones has a weak spot or two, a few episodes where the wheel-spinning becomes a little obvious and transparent. While important things occurred in “No One,” this was undeniably the slowest episode of the show’s sixth season, an hour that pumped the brakes on plot in a big way. To be fair, the episode responded by providing more than its fair share of character development and humor, but it’s fairly obvious that this is intended to be the calm before the storm, the hour where a lot of business gets handled before all hell breaks loose next week.

Let’s sort through that business and discuss what went down.

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the conjuring 2 trailer

The Conjuring was one of my favorite films of 2013 and remains a genuine contender for one of the best horror movies of the past decade. At the time, it felt like a summation of everything director James Wan had accomplished until that point: it was a clever crowdpleaser filled with scares, but it was also character-driven and classy, recalling an age where horror movies didn’t have to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

The Conjuring 2 ranked high on my most anticipated films of 2016 list and my faith was not displaced. Although not quite as good as the first film, this is one of the best horror sequels ever made, capturing what made the first movie so special and sprinting with it. With Wan taking another break from horror to make Aquaman, this is a perfect and fitting a tribute to the genre that made his career, a gift to people who like horror movies with a little bit of ambition. Let’s take a closer look at what makes The Conjuring 2 work so well…and what holds it back from being as good as the first one. SPOILERS ahead.

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