Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. premiered The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yesterday in New Zealand, but a review embargo was set in place to keep reviews from flooding the interwebs in advance of the first major US press screenings this weekend. But that embargo trick never really works, and so of course at least one outlet has broken out with a review (some might say “review”) in advance of the agreed-upon date. Get a few bits of reaction info below. Read More »

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The long Thanksgiving weekend brought major buzz for two potential Oscar contenders: Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables and Kathryn Bigelow‘s action procedural Zero Dark Thirty. Both films are from recent Best Director Oscar winners so expectations were predictably high for each. However, while Les Mis is a known property, a dramatization of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden is much more of a mystery, making the buzz out of those screenings even more intriguing.

Bigelow, along with Oscar-winning writer Mark Boal, was developing a film about the search for the most wanted man on the planet when United States military forces killed him. That completely changed their movie and made its completion even more time-sensitive. The film is now done, set for release December 19, with an all-star cast including Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, James Gandolfini, Kyle Chandler and Joel Edgerton. The first screenings took place over the weekend, and reactions to them were incredibly positive, with an eye on another Oscar run for Bigelow and Boal. Get some early buzz after the break. Read More »

Tom Hooper follows up his Oscar-winning The King’s Speech with a film version of the stage musical classic Les Miserables, and the first public screenings of the film were met with great enthusiasm, first by a New York City audience, then by LA viewers. Sure, the deck was stacked in favor of Hooper and the film, given that the NYC audience was a particularly theater-friendly crowd, so the reaction might not be a pure gauge of how to expect the film will play elsewhere.

But with the cast (Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Helena Bonham Carter, and Sacha Baron Cohen) drawing raves and individual musical numbers earning huge applause, the film does sound like a great success. Reviews are embargoed at this point, but a selection of reactions is below. Read More »

The 23rd film in the James Bond series premiered in the UK on Friday, and we have an early spoiler-free video blog reaction. I recorded my thoughts alongside Alex Billington from FirstShowing, a huge Bond fanatic who balances out my ambivalence to much of the series.

I think the latest entry into the Bond franchise will please both Bond fanatics and casual viewers, striking a great compromise between old Bond feel and contemporary action and seriousness. For me the highlight was Roger Deakins‘ cinematography, beautiful, striking, the best looking Bond film to date. There is one sequence in Shanghai which looks and feels like a contemporary Blade Runner but with the action of the Mission: Impossible series. Watch our complete video blog embedded after the jump to hear more.
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Five years ago, David Chase ended one of the best television shows of all time, The Sopranos. Now he’s rolled that legacy into his first movie. Not Fade Away is Chase’s feature directorial debut and it’s a semi-autobiographical story about a group of young men in 1960s New Jersey attempting to form a rock band. Starring John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett, Christopher McDonald and James Gandolfini, the film is currently playing the New York Film Festival before its holiday release, December 21.

After the break, check out the nostalgic first trailer, packed with rock and roll, and read some of the early buzz coming out of the New York Film Festival. Read More »

There are several major take aways from the latest trailer for Paranormal Activity 4. One is that Katie and the boy she kidnapped, Hunter, are definitely back. Another is that the evil spirits from the first three films still really, really love to drag people down hallways. A third is that your XBox Kinect is the devil. It all adds up to a very intriguing bit of marketing.

Paranormal Activity 4 opens October 19 from directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who did Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3. This time around, the story is back in the present, following the neighbors of a mysterious new family whose son may, or may not, be the aforementioned Hunter.

After the jump, you can not only check out the revealing new trailer, but read a bunch of early buzz from a work print screening at Fantastic Fest 2012. Either way, you’ll never look at XBox Kinect the same way again. Read More »

Testing a film with a live audience is a huge part of Judd Apatow‘s filmmaking process. Finding the biggest laughs and gauging reactions is treated as an additional round of editing for the writer/director/producer. The danger in that is, even though most people sign non-disclosure agreements, word is bound to leak out early. So while This is 40, Apatow’s latest film, won’t hit theaters until Christmas, the first review has made it online in a very non-traditional place.

Comedian Marc Maron, best known for his hugely popular WTF Podcast, was among a star-studded early audience invited to see the “sort of sequel” to Knocked Up starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann and talked about it on his show. Read his quotes and more after the jump. Read More »

Early Buzz: Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

Joss Whedon‘s already two for two this year, earning critical raves for The Cabin in the Woods (which he co-wrote with Drew Goddard) and then knocking it out of the park on every level with The Avengers. But he’s not finished: His third film of the year, the black-and-white William Shakespeare adaptation Much Ado About Nothing, just premiered at TIFF. And based on the reviews so far it sounds like the perfect capper to Whedon’s already stunning year.

Shot in just 12 days while Whedon was finishing up The Avengers, this version retains the Bard’s dialogue but moves the action to contemporary LA. (Specifically, Whedon’s own house.) Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof star as Beatrice and Benedick, acquaintances whose prickly banter signals an obvious compatibility. Other Whedon favorites fill out the rest of the cast: Fran Kranz, Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, and Clark Gregg. Read more of the early buzz after the jump.

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