PAIN AND GAIN

It’s that time of year again. We’re in Las Vegas at CinemaCon, an industry-only convention (formerly called ShoWest) for movie theater owners and distributors. The Hollywood studios come here each year with their biggest stars and clips from upcoming films, hoping to impress the theater owners into booking their “products” in the coming year. For example, last year we saw footage from films that were in production and weren’t set to be released until late 2013. Some studios also present unfinished cuts of their films super-early. This year Pixar is screening Monsters University, for example.

The opening night of CinemaCon 2013 featured a presentation by Paramount Pictures. They screened a reel with brief clips from a ton of upcoming films including Darren Aroofsky’s Noah and Jason Reitman’s Labor Day. They also presented 18 minutes of Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D, three clips from World War Z, and Michael Bay premiered his film Pain & Gain. After the jump you will be able to read my first reaction to Bay’s latest, along with a video blog I recorded with Alex from FirstShowing giving our thoughts about everything screened.
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Sony held an event today in four cities across the world to launch to buzz for District 9 director Neill Blomkamp‘s new film Elysium. Fans in the four cities were invited to the event through the film’s viral website. Blomkamp, producer Simon Kinberg and co-star Sharlto Copley were in attendance at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood to answer questions.

Star Matt Damon also answered questions from a theater in Germany, with his appearance also simulcast to the other venues. The event was to premiere the first trailer for Elysium, which will be online tomorrow at some point. But the filmmakers also screened a 10-minute sizzle reel of footage from the movie. Get our thoughts on the footage in a video blog we recorded, after the jump.

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World War Z Forster Pitt

“I wanted to make a film my sons could actually see before they get old,” said Brad Pitt, talking about his upcoming zombie film, World War Z. “As you will see, we got a little carried away.” Pitt was on the Paramount lot last week, along with director Marc Forster, to introduce 20 minutes of footage from the June 21 release.

The actor, who is also a producer, spoke about what they were trying to do with the movie. ”In Max Brooks’ book we found much more than a zombie film. We found this global apocalypse,” Pitt said. “This zombie epidemic as worldwide pandemic.” That massive scope was certainly on display in the footage, which featured Pitt’s character separating from his family to travel the world, hoping to figure out the source of the rising zombie apocalypse. Oh, and also rising walls of vicious zombies.

After the footage, Forster took questions from a handful of journalists, many of which were aimed at the film’s controversial production. The process saw massive reshoots and rewrites. He admitted that, yes, the ending had been changed but that they were very happy with the result.

After the jump, read more about the footage itself, watch a video blog reacting to the footage, and read more from Forster about the ending, how the film goes against zombie conventions and more. Read More »

Now that the final Iron Man 3 trailer is out, do you find yourself craving even more? How about some details on 15 minutes of footage taken from the film? Disney showed two complete scenes, in context, to journalists a few weeks back and we’re finally ready to tell you about it.

We were shown the entire Malibu house attack, from beginning to end, followed by its immediate effect on Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. It’s an action-packed scene characterized by scope you’ve come to expect from Marvel, with plenty of surprises. We’ll save those for a spoiler section but, after the jump, read some thoughts and watch a spoiler-free video blog. In it, Steve from Collider and I discuss how, in this brief slice of Shane Black‘s May 3rd film, we get an idea of what Phase 2 will hold, and how the writer of Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout is putting his mark on the Marvel Universe.

Later this week, check back later this week for interviews with Black, Robert Downey Jr., and Marvel President Kevin Feige. Read More »

With three days remaining, A.C.O.D. is my favorite film of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by first-timer Stuart Zicherman, it’s about “Adult Children of Divorce” and stars Adam Scott as Carter, a man whose parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) had a brutal breakup on his 9th birthday. Decades later his brother (Clark Duke) decides to take the plunge into matrimony and it brings up some major issues caused by the traumatic breakup. Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jessica Alba and Jane Lynch are also along for the ride.

Co-written by Zicherman and Ben Karlin, the script for A.C.O.D. is a Swiss watch. Everything is economical, hilarious, perfectly-paced and never in-your-face obvious. There are loads of big laughs wrapped around unexpected plot points, resonant emotion and great character development. The cast all bring such vigorous life to the film that it almost makes a sad and touchy subject, divorce, into something to be envious of.

A.C.O.D. is a special, miraculous film and the exact reason why you come to the Sundance Film Festival. It’ll leave you happy and high on the power of comedic cinema. Read more after the jump and watch a video blog. Read More »

‘Upstream Color’ Video Reaction [Sundance 2013]

Today at Sundance saw the premiere of Upstream Color, the second film from Primer director Shane Carruth. Trailers for the movie position the film as an enigma, and while the film is hardly mainstream, I would argue that the feature isn’t nearly as impenetrable as those first looks suggested. That said, this film is quite a puzzle, and a very rewarding one.

It has been nine years since Primer made its festival debut, and in that time Carruth has polished his skills as a filmmaker. Upstream Color begins with a base in science fiction, but the sci-fi element is really just a launching pad for a story about two people trying to rebuild their identities after suffering severe trauma. It is an adventurous film, often playing with little dialogue, instead letting strong audio and visual components tell the story.

After the screening Germain and I recorded a video blog to get our first impressions on record. This isn’t a full-fledged review by any means; there’s a lot to think about, and a process to working out how to properly give the film its due without spoiling the mysteries within. That said, I’ve been thinking about Upstream Color constantly since the screening ended, and I don’t think my very positive view of the film is likely to change.

Check out the video below. We dance around the plot quite a bit in the video, and there isn’t anything given away here. Read More »

If for some crazy reason you forgot why you loved J.J. Abrams‘ 2009 reboot of Star Trek, you’ll be quickly reminded in the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. The first nine minutes of the film are visually impressive, exciting, incredibly surprising, and will be playing in front of select IMAX prints of The Hobbit starting December 14. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peak.

The film starts off soft, mysterious, and quickly jumps into a huge, exciting, colorful action scene that reintroduces you not only to all of your favorite Enterprise crew members - Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, John Cho as Sulu, Zoe Saldana at Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, etc – but puts Michael Giacchino‘s brilliant score front and center. Even though the film is called “Into Darkness,” there’s obviously still plenty of humor and fun in this movie. Or, at least in the first nine minutes.

After the jump, read more about the 3D IMAX footage and watch a video blog reaction. 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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