Chris Pratt Guardians of the Galaxy

With Summer 2014 approaching its conclusion, its time to look back and inventory the blockbuster season. For the last few years, the Summer movie season has been filled with a lot of disappointment. This year, however, a lot of great films hit theaters. My top twelve best movies of Summer 2014 list is comprised of a mix of big Hollywood blockbusters and some smaller independent films which played Sundance and other film festivals earlier in the year. Some of these may have flown under your radar. Which films made my top ten movies of Summer 2014? Hit the jump and find out.
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Robin Williams Hook

Even when I didn’t think about it, Robin Williams was always a part of my life. His work was simply a part of everything that made me a person. Whether it was sneaking a peak at Comic Relief on HBO, watching old Mork and Mindy reruns after school, or catching the movies of the early nineties that turned him into a mega-star, Robin Williams was always a constant. If I needed to laugh, sing, be brought to tears or cringe uncontrollably, Williams was the man for the job.

He’s gone now, dead at the age of 63 from an apparent suicide, and it’s a horrible case of “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I’m filled with emotion. I’m mad, I’m sad, I want to cry. But then I start to think about Williams’ legacy, his films, and what they mean to me, and I feel some comfort. Let’s take a look back at my favorite Robin Williams movies, and more specifically, performances.
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Empire Strikes Back Voted Greatest Movie

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back has been voted the greatest movie of all time in a poll conducted by the British film publication Empire Magazine. More than 250,000 film fans voted in this latest poll, resulting in a list of the 301 greatest movies of all time. When the poll was last conducted six years ago in 2008 with 10,200 voters, The Godfather took the top honors. This year the Star Wars sequel displaced the Francis Ford Coppola adaptation for the top spot. Who else did Empire Strikes Back beat for the top slot? How has the list changed in the last six years? Find out after the jump.

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Ant-Man

Last week, Edgar Wright suddenly departed from Marvel Studio’s big screen adaptation of Ant-Man, with an official statement citing “differences in their vision of the film” as reasons for the “amicable” split. Marvel Studios says they still plan to have Ant-Man in theaters for the announced July 17th 2015 release date, and Marvel has already begun a search for a new director. The movie will have to begin filming this Summer to make that date, so an announcement will likely come soon. So who should replace Edgar Wright to direct Ant-Man? I explore this question in the article below.

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hammergirl

In the past five years, director Gareth Evans has seen has status grow from relative unknown to one of the best action directors alive. His film, Merantau, introduced the Indonesian martial arts form of Pencak Silat to the wider world, and his two follow-ups, The Raid and The Raid 2: Berandal (out in theaters right now), expanded on Silat’s usage and featured some of the most creatively shot and choreographed action/fight scenes in recent memory.

I had the chance to chat with Evans recently about the making of his Raid 2 teaser trailer. We also spoke about his five favorite action scenes, and in the below video essay, Evans breaks down exactly which films they are from and why/how each has influenced him.

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11 Board Game Movies Hollywood Should Make Next

Mouse & Mystics and other board game movies that Hollywood should make

Which board game movies should Hollywood make next? Over the last year or so I’ve gotten sucked into the table top scene, and now have a board game addiction. I’m not talking about Monopoly or The Game of Life, but designer hobby board games that offer more strategy and theme than the games we all played as children.

Hollywood has dipped its toes into the board game movies a few times now. First with Battleship. It was such a huge bomb that Universal later dropped Monopoly, which was being developed for years by Ridley Scott. Paramount is currently filming an action adventure thriller adaptation of Ouija produced by Michael Bay and Jason Blum and co-written by Simon Kinberg. Universal and Warner Bros are both fighting to make a movie based on the role-paying game Dungeons & Dragons. And most recently, 20th Century Fox has announced they are brining the popular role-playing card game Magic: The Gathering to the big screen, also with the help of Kinberg.

There are many reasons Battleship failed but I think first and foremost the audience refused to take the movie seriously after hearing the title. The studio clearly greenlit the project hoping to turn massive brand recognition into tickets sold, but it didn’t take a genius to realize that the 1930 board game didn’t have enough story to warrant a movie adaptation. So much so that director Peter Berg made up his own “alien invasion at sea” construct.

So if Hollywood is going to develop board game movies, why not look at some board games that offer deeper storytelling, more interesting scenarios and compelling characters? The list I have put together after the jump includes a bunch of board games that you might not have heard of, but are popular in the tabletop gaming world. Each of them has something to offer Hollywood if they wanted to bet on concept and story vs. huge branding.

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Rudderless

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival starts today, and with the opening of theater doors, hundreds of brand new movies will be revealed to the world. Some we’ve already heard of and are excited for — The Raid 2 and Life Itself come to mind — but the majority of them are wholly unknown. They’re films most audiences don’t yet know anything about, with massive stars, from famous directors, or featuring exciting premises..

Below I’ve pulled the titles of 25 2014 Sundance Films you may not have heard of yet, but sound absolutely amazing for one reason for another. Read More »

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby

No year in cinema ever shapes up exactly the way we’d expect. In fact, it’d be boring if one did. Still, when faced with the promise of a whole new year of movies, I can’t help try and predict which ones I’ll love or hate. I put my best guesses in list form last year, and I did it again this year.

Now, in the spirit of journalistic integrity (or, less charitably, critical solipsism), it’s time for me to look back at my most anticipated films of 2013 and see just how reality measured up to expectation. Hit the jump to see how great or terrible I was at guessing what’d be my favorite films of 2013.

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