Not surprisingly, today’s tidbits begin with Star Trek Into Darkness. After the jump:

  • Simon Pegg is laughing at your Star Trek fan theories
  • You can count out Danny Boyle for Bond 24
  • Clerks III already has a 70-page outline
  • Andy Serkis talks The Hobbit and Apes
  • A Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sequel is coming 
  • Barbara Hershey will return for Insidious 2
  • Wolverine, X-MenApes, and Percy Jackson go 3D

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When The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is good, it’s really good. Throughout Peter Jackson‘s first film in the Hobbit trilogy, his camera sweeps through an epic battle, and Howard Shore’s score crescendos through the speakers as thirteen dwarves, one wizard and a hobbit fight for their lives. That’s what most audiences are paying to see, and the film provides that on a grand scale, again and again.

“Again and again” is also the film’s biggest issue. On a consistent basis, it’s almost as if Jackson forgets he has two more films to release and is forced to pump the brakes. Tangents pop out of nowhere, dialogue scenes are stretched into infinity, and a familiar structure of capture followed by rousing escape, is consistently repeated. Much of the film feels like it’s purposely attempting to stall the dwarves’ quest from progressing.

What we’re left with is a huge, beautiful piece of entertainment, the lows of which are slightly outweighed by its adrenaline pumping highs. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey works, but feels bloated, derived from the fact that it’s based on a child’s book, only stuffed and stretched beyond the bounds of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s original narrative.  Still, its flaws and fun work hand in hand to provide a suitably rousing first act to the Hobbit trilogy. Read More »

A full-length trailer gets somewhere between two and two and a half minutes to make its case, but a typical TV spot only runs about thirty seconds. Best to just to cut to the chase, then.

The new TV ad for Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey barely gets to establish who Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is or why Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is encouraging him to venture out into the wide world before the poor fellow is thrown into the midst of an action-packed fantasy adventure. Naturally, the promo still finds time to play up the film’s connection to the Lord of the Rings trilogy along the way. Watch it after the jump.

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If anyone has had a cooler career path than Andy Serkis, I’d be interested to hear it. A classically trained actor, Serkis happened upon a technological revolution when he took on the role of Gollum in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. His performance capture work in those films helped define a whole new way to look at acting and then he took it to the next level with King Kong and eventually Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Along the way Serkis worked not only with Jackson but Steven Spielberg, among others, and became a behind the camera presence too, earning him the job of second unit director on Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, The Hobbit Trilogy.

Now he’s chosen a project as his feature directorial debut and it’s a work worthy of such an eclectic career. He’s joined up with a London based production company called The Imaginarium to develop and direct a performance capture version of George Orwell‘s landmark work, Animal Farm. Read much after the jump. Read More »

Matt Reeves is about to take over the world. The director of Cloverfield and Let Me In now confirmed to helm Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The director of that film, Rupert Wyatt, was expected to return for this follow-up, but left the project due to a rumored problem with the production and release schedule. Reeves was the studio’s top choice to replace him.

Once again written by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which will continue the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis) and tell the next chapter of how he, along with the help of a rapidly spreading virus, will eventually change the world into what’s seen in the 1968 film starring Charlton Heston. It’s scheduled for release May 23, 2014. Read more after the jump. Read More »

A batch of new images from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey have hit today, but Warner Bros., MGM, and Entertainment Weekly have hit upon an unusual and (in this case) appropriate way to present them all at once. The images are stitched together to form one giant image “scroll” that shows several recognizable scenes from the first half of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novel.

That piece above is just part of the image, and those who know the novel will instantly recognize a couple of the scenes depicted. Nearly everyone will recognize the moment on the left, in which Bilbo (Martin Freeman) uses the sword Sting to light his way through an underground cavern inhabited by Gollum (Andy Serkis). The other images below show Wargs howling around goblin-lit fires meant to flush Bilbo and his company from trees on the far side of the Misty Mountains, and the first look at Gandalf (Ian McKellen) speaking with the man-bear Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt).

One version of the full image is below. Read More »

Ready for another teen cancer movie? Ian Fitzgibbon‘s Death of a Superhero stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster (that moppet from Love, Actually, all grown up) as Donald, an aspiring comic book artist who’s diagnosed with leukemia. Aisling Loftus plays the requisite love interest who gives him something to live for, and Andy Serkis his therapist. That’s actual, live-action, normal-human-faced Andy Serkis, sans CG or mo-cap. Imagine that! Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Debate has gone on for months over whether or not Andy Serkis should be nominated for an Oscar for his work in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The issue at hand isn’t the work done by Serkis, which is clearly strong. It is the fact that he did that work on set but isn’t actually seen in the film, as his physical presence is painted out and replaced with the all-CGI ape Caesar.

The problem, inasmuch as there is one, is that some people have a difficult time seeing through that wash of pixels to understand the work that Serkis did for the film. But a new clip shows a full scene as captured by cameras on set, with Serkis performing as Caesar, and then presents the same scene with his CG alter-ego in place. If you had any doubts about what sort of work Serkis did for the role, this will erase them. Read More »

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