Hollywood moves in waves. Earlier this year, Nintendo broke download records around the world with its popular Pokémon GO game, kicking off a renewed interest in Japanese manga and cartoons as adaptable commercial properties. Almost immediately, Legendary Entertainment jumped into the fray with the announcement that they would be producing a live-action Detective Pikachu film. Now, not to be left behind, Lionsgate has made renewed promises that its live-action adaptation of Naruto will be coming soon.
With all due respect to the major acting and directing categories, I’ve come to really appreciate the Academy Awards’ technical categories in recent years. Whereas the performances and movies at the top of the program are often culled from a predictable pool of art films and auteur projects, the VFX Oscars tend to be a bit more egalitarian in nature, honoring whatever movies are the most impressive regardless of overall quality. This is often how populist film genres not typically noticed by the Academy — action, science-fiction, fantasy — slip into Oscar contention.
This has been a pretty busy week for fans of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Not only did we get an official title for the eight film in the series, The Fate of the Furious — which, for inexplicable reasons that continue to haunt the internet, did not spell ‘fate’ as ‘f8’ — we also got our first glimpse at new footage courtesy of a trailer tease and promises of a full theatrical trailer on Sunday evening.
After months and months of anticipation, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had its world premiere in Los Angeles last night, and the early reviews are absolutely glowing. Film critics and celebrities alike have commented on the blend of action and heart in the newest film — and, curiously, noted that a lot of the trailer footage did not find its way into the finished film — giving fans hope that Rogue One will be the next great thing to happen to the Star Wars universe. One more week, everyone. Tickets at the ready.
Al Gore is one of those people who gets me thinking about legacy. When Gore’s time on the earth comes to a close, how will he be remembered? As a solid vice president who lost one of the most hotly disputed elections of all time? Or as a champion of environmental conservationism? From the outside, it certainly appears that Gore is angling for the latter. Just this past weekend, it was announced by Paramount Pictures (via Variety) that Al Gore has been working on a sequel to his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth and that the film was set to be the opening night film at next year’s Sundance Film Festival.
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.
Even as an aging action star, Sylvester Stallone has kept up a steady pace. The actor has spent the past few years alternating between action vehicles and voice over work on children’s movies, always outpacing Hollywood obsolescence with his incredible work ethic and his willingness to not deviate from the ’80s action formula that helped make him a star. And while plenty of Stallone fans were pleased to see the actor pull in a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Creed, with Stallone’s latest production troubles, one cannot help but wonder if this will have an effect on the types of movies he makes going forward.
I wonder if history will be kind to the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises. On the one hand, these movies epitomize spectacle over substance, featuring attractive men and women — often dressed in skintight leather — shooting monsters in a Matrix-inspired slow motion that lags behind the current trend of modern action movies. On the other hand, they are two female-driven action franchises in an era desperately searching for female action stars. Kate Beckinsale and Milla Jovovich may not have the award season pedigree needed to be A-list actors, but they have been carrying two pulpy franchises on their backs for more than a decade.
In the four decades that Star Wars has dominated pop culture, we’ve never had to hear a soundtrack for a live-action movie that wasn’t written by John Williams. Williams wrote the original trilogy, and then the follow-up prequels, and even dove back in for the soundtrack for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So the fact that Williams did not write the music for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is just one of many ways in which Rogue One represents a departure from the main story. No Star Wars crawl, no John Williams, no problem? I guess we’ll see.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of Star Wars movies, with all the trailer announcements we’ve seen in the last few days, odds are good you might still find something to enjoy during Rogue One. A few days ago, we shared a fun little rumor that the first teaser for Spider-Man: Homecoming would be appearing before the highly anticipated Star Wars standalone when it hits theaters this December. Not to be outdone, Michael Bay took to social media to share that his first trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight would also be included with the film.
One of my favorite parts of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was Gal Gadot’s costume as Wonder Woman. Not only was it a much-needed splash of color in an otherwise monochrome film, it was also a nice departure from the overly bulky superhero costumes that have become the norm. Ben Affleck might be a great Batman, but there were times when he looked a little bit like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story, too padded up to put his arms down, let alone fight his way through a warehouse of bad guys. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, looked every bit the agile warrior we were hoping for.
It’s probably fair to assume that if a movie ever made a little bit of money at the box office, someone somewhere is hard at work on a reboot, prequel, sequel, or ‘reimagining’ of the franchise. Back in 2015, for example, we were inundated with rumors that The Crow was getting a reboot, first with Jack Huston playing the undead spirit of vengeance and then Justice League star Jason Momoa in the role. For a lot of movies, this is where the rumors dry up, but for The Crow Reborn, the headaches had just begun. Now Relativity Media has sold the rights to their tortured production and a whole new round of rumors and speculation can begin.
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