Remember those few days last August where Tom Cruise’s salary negotiations had shut down production on Mission: Impossible 6? For a moment there, it looked as though one of the best action movie franchises on the planet had finally shut down. No more age-defying stunts from AARP member Cruise; no more innovative action sequences from unexpected movie directors. When things were finally smoothed over between star and studio in September, I’m not ashamed to admit I breathed an audible sigh of relie
There’s just a few months left until Wonder Woman hits theaters, which means it’s time for Warner Bros. to get down to the business of promoting the crap out of this movie. When I saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in theaters, the crowd greeted her character during the climactic fight scene with wild cheers and applause, suggesting to me that audiences are ready to embrace the first standalone superhero movie. We’ve had the first two rounds of movie trailers; now it’s time to open the floodgates on teasers, TV spots, and production rumors. Let the games begin!
For most people, the decision to make a sequel to 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey is probably the punchline to a bad joke. But have you actually stopped and looked at the box office numbers for Fifty Shades of Grey recently? We’re not talking about $100 million at the global box office; we’re not even talking about $200 million. We’re talking about $571 million worldwide, more than Mad Max: Fury Road and Creed combined and the eleventh highest-grossing movie of the year. With those kind of numbers, you pretty much have to make a sequel. I don’t blame them.
With James Cameron caught in an endless loop of Avatar rumors and delays, it’s become fashionable for some fans to treat the director like a Hollywood has-been. I don’t get it. Even if you think the original Avatar is a hollow mess of special effects, it’s still a fun entry in Cameron’s ‘Soldiers vs. Monsters’ filmography. Are we so awash in incredible action directors that we can afford to dismiss Cameron’s eye for spectacle and clean action scenes? I think not.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of CGI actors returned from the dead, you probably had to appreciate the ways that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards tried to bring the events of Star Wars: A New Hope more directly into his film. In several key sequences, Edwards was even able to feature unseen footage from the original 1977 film, causing fans to wonder where that new footage came from (and why they hadn’t seen it before). Are there entire archives of unseen footage that Lucasfilm has been hiding from fans for all these decades?
It seems like forever ago that the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was an unexpected Hollywood hit, a questionable adaptation of a popular carnival ride that somehow managed to be one of the best action movies of the year. In the original film, Johnny Depp surprised us all with his mimicry and knack for physical comedy, even bringing home an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. Fast forward a few years, however, and the franchise seems to have devolved into what we originally feared: a hollow cash grab from Disney that has quite clearly overstayed its welcome.
BREAKING NEWS: After spending a bunch of money on a blockbuster motion picture, a Hollywood studio would like to turn that movie into its own franchise. This will come as quite a shock to the one person on the internet who is both familiar enough with the Assassin’s Creed franchise to get excited for the movie adaptation but who honestly believed that 20th Century Fox was taking a one-and-done approach with the film.
Every year, when the bottom drops out of the summer movie season and audiences decide to stay home and watch television instead, some well-meaning critic will publish an article asking if cinema is dead. And every year, I pose the same question in response: “Is Tom Cruise still an action star?” As long as Tom Cruise is running across multiplex screens — fighting rogue nations, government consiparcies, and even the occasional mummy — there is still hope for cinema. Then, when Cruise’s career is done and Hollywood is in ashes, then, cinema, you have my permission to die.
Last year, we published a video essay on Arnold Schwarzenegger that suggested that Arnold is much an auteur as the directors he has worked with. While most people still think of movies like Terminator and True Lies as the work of James Cameron, our own Matt Singer argued — and rather persuasively, I might add — that Arnold’s status as a cinematic auteur should be just as important a factor in how we evaluate his films. No matter who is behind the camera of an Arnold movie, you know the types of characters and narratives you are going to get.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a sucker for movies where soldiers fight monsters. Aliens. Predator. Starship Troopers. Dog Soldiers. Heck, even mediocre films like Battle: Los Angeles are the cinematic equivalent of catnip to me. Take a group of hardened soldiers, throw them into a paranormal environment, and sit back and enjoy as the bullets start flying and everything falls apart. It’s like the best of war movies and the best of monster movies, all swirled together in one high-octane bundle of crazy.
While there are any number of things to love about this weekend’s theatrical release of Arrival — and we do offer a few of them in our review of the film — one thing that doesn’t always find its way into the buzz is the career rehabilitation of Jeremy Renner. Renner has spent so much time the past few years playing interchangeable action figures that we almost forgot his talent as an actor. It’s been a long time since he’s been this likable.
This hasn’t been a great month for Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool 2. Between the departure of director Tim Miller and the loss of composer Junkie XL, the sequel to the breakout superhero hit has been losing momentum at a time where it should be locking in the moving parts for the next iteration of the film. That still hasn’t stopped 20th Century Fox from pushing forward with the sequel, which apparently will begin shooting as early as January 2017, production problems be darned.
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