J.J. Abrams is directing Star Wars Episode VII. If you’re like me, you’re going to have to let that one sink in for a bit. My first thought is happiness. Abrams is a huge fan of the franchise and a proven great director with a flare for the Spielbergian. My second thought is confusion. Not that Abrams is doing it after saying he wouldn’t, just that one man would be brave enough to tackle two monster franchises, first Star Trek and now Star Wars. Whenever anyone asked me if I wanted Abrams to direct Episode VII I always said, “We’ve already seen J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars film. It’s called Star Trek.”

But that got me thinking. Abrams has been very vocal that his Trek was influenced by Wars. The narrative is thematically very similar to A New Hope. So with a second Trek film out later this year, you’d have to imagine there has to be something specifically different to make him do a third space movie with “Star” in the title, right?  What could that be? Read More »

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[The following article contains spoilers for Zero Dark Thirty]

In the past month or so, it feels as though two opposing camps have been battling it out over Zero Dark Thirty: the film critics who laud it as one of the best films of the year, and commentators who believe that it in some way endorses torture or depicts it as effective. The latter group have also given time and effort to slamming the film (for example, by articulating that it “kind of sucked.”). These opinions especially have inflamed film critics in a variety of ways; Scott Mendelson (a writer who I deeply respect and admire) recently wrote on the “moral outrage” that has resulted from Bigelow getting snubbed for a Best Director Oscar nomination due to the growing controversy over her film.

I think both parties have a point.
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I was delighted to finally have the chance to catch Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables last night and despite a few significant missteps (e.g. Russell Crowe as Javert), I found it totally brilliant and engrossing. Nonetheless, I’ve been reading a bunch of criticism on the internet about Hooper’s directorial decisions, most pointedly regarding the look and sound of the film.

In Anthony Lane’s slam of the film in the New Yorker, Lane writes, “The actors were recorded live as they belted out the big numbers, and Hathaway, in particular, takes full advantage, turning in precisely the sort of performance, down to the last sniff, that she would be the first to lampoon on ‘Saturday Night Live.’” Over at The Atlantic, Christopher Orr writes, “The second or third time we watch a face fill the screen with notes tender or tragic, the effect is genuinely arresting. The 22nd or 23rd time…” Critics all over are having a ball blasting the unconventional directorial decisions made in the film. As someone who loved the movie, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on some of these decisions.
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Dan Aykroyd is as sick and tired as you are when it comes to Ghostbusters 3. For years he’s been not only answering questions about the proposed film, but actually developing it for free in hopes one day it would get made. That’s all he wants, to get a movie made, and he’s had to constantly change his concept with new writers coming aboard and his co-star, Bill Murray, refusing to play ball.

Then, several months ago, it seemed like the film was ready to go. Things quickly cooled off and that seemed to be the final straw. Aykroyd has had it. He’s now publicly given Sony an ultimatum about making the film.

In an interview with Esquire, the co-creator, co-star and de-facto mouthpiece for the successful franchise not only calls for Sony to make the film now, or forever hold their peace, he talks about the scripts Office writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg did, the one by Etan Cohen, Bill Murray’s non-interest and potential ideas for sequels. Why would he talk about sequels to a movie that hasn’t been made yet? Because he all but guarantees a nine-figure hit if Sony makes the movie. The guy is on a marshmallow man fueled rampage and I love it. Read his quotes below.

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One of the reasons I decided to purchase the best possible version of The Avengers on Blu-ray was the inclusion of a free digital copy. We all know that’s the way things are going. Discs are heading towards obsolescence so, on the rare occasion I buy a Blu-ray, I like to cover my bases for the future. Foresight is a big factor in my purchasing habits, such as with my new laptop: a Retina Display MacBook Pro. Much like my computer before it, I tried to buy the best available model at the time knowing it’ll still be relevant when it’s time for a new one.

Unfortunately, The Avengers don’t have the same foresight and now they’re the poster child for a bigger issue.

Upon excitedly opening my 4-disc Avengers Blu-ray, I hopped online to input my digital code, hoping to quickly download the film to my laptop and iPhone. It said I needed to insert the disc. Usually, this would be no problem, but as technology moves away from physical media and hardware gets smaller, Apple and other companies have begun to do away with disc drives. So my three-month-old MacBook Pro doesn’t have one. I called Disney to inquire about this problem. Everyone was as kind and friendly as you’d expect Disney employees to be. Unfortunately, after talking to two people, their only suggestion was to buy an external disc drive because uploading on a friend’s computer wouldn’t allow me to transfer the file. There’s no contingency plan for new hardware that lacks an old media interface. Why would the year’s biggest movie not be compatible with up to date technology? Why do Blu-ray digital copies require a disc at all?  Read More »

The following article was a collaboration between David Chen, Peter Sciretta, and Germain Lussier.

Between those of us at /Film, we’ve already seen The Dark Knight Rises several times and have found that many questions and problems still linger in our minds (see Dave’s review and Germain’s review). What’s consistently baffling about Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is people’s willingness to forgive Nolan for extremely problematic staging and editing, and for screenwriting crimes that would put any other writer/director in “script jail.”

What follows are the 15 biggest issues we had with The Dark Knight Rises. Some of these are major problems with the film, while others are minor niggles. But they all have one thing in common: they all jolted us out of the film and took away from our ability to get lost in Nolan’s world. We wrote this piece not to troll, but simply to articulate some of our own issues with the film and hold them up for examination. Two warnings before you proceed: 1) MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW, 2) If you think you’ll be upset by this article, based just on the title, it’s probably a good idea if you just pass this one by.

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NOTE: This post deals with a major plot point in The Avengers. If you haven’t seen it, please turn away, major spoilers follow.

Ever since the first Iron Man, one character has been the rock of the Marvel Universe: Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg. Though he didn’t appear in The Incredible Hulk or Captain America: The First Avenger, we know from The Avengers he’s very familar with “the big guy” and quite a fan of Mr. Rogers too. Add that to appearances in both Iron Man films, Thor and The Avengers and you understand why he’s such a fan favorite. He’s the human personification of the connectivity in the Marvel Movie Universe. That’s why, when Joss Whedon decides to kill him in The Avengers (I warned you there would be spoilers) you really feel something for him as does the team.

This is a comic book world though and ever since The Avengers started breaking box office records fans wondered if the tried and true practice of comic book resurrection would happen in the movies for Agent Coulson. There’s evidence and speculation on both sides of the spectrum. Read More »

How Should Critics Handle TV Spoilers?

A few days ago, Brian Moylan over at Gawker wrote up a manifesto for spoiler alerts. I’d tell you to go read it, except Moylan straight up spoils plot elements from Treme, Game of Thrones, and Lost with no warning whatsoever. To quote my colleague Matt Singer, if you spoil things in your article about the rules of spoilers, maybe you’re not really an authority on spoilers.
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