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Fruit Ninja photo
Drain your brain batteries

As we previously reported, there is a film adaptation of Fruit Ninja in the works because money. The film rights have been picked up by New Line Cinema because produce and money, too.

In the brief Hollywood Reporter piece on this news, there's a tease about the plot of the film which is being co-written by J.P. Lavin and Chad Damiani. According to THR, the film "will revolve around a team of misfits who are recruited to become Fruit Ninjas in order to save the world."

Well, that is one way to do it, I suppose. One very generic way.

I was assuming there'd be some kind of town/village martial arts tournament of some kind in which some goofy kid trains in the art of fruitjutsu to defend himself/herself and learn a little bit about life. Basically The Karate Kid with more fruit and less pan flute. This is another way to do it, albeit also a very generic way.

Then again, it could also be about a meeting and interview between Sean Penn and El Fruit Ninja, a notorious produce lord.

How would you make a Fruit Ninja movie if you had to? Let us know in the comments. Also, eat more vegetables.

[via THR]

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The Simpsons photo
FXX's second "Every Simpsons Ever"

When Fox first launched its spin-off channel, FXX, back in 2014, we were treated with an "Every Simpsons Ever" marathon. A week long event that showed the 552 episode long series in full. Now topping that is their second marathon; which will run the now 600 episode strong series over 13 days. 

Starting November 24th at noon EST through Tuesday, December 6th, FXX will play all current 27 seasons of The Simpsons (with episode 600 being the latest Treehouse of Horror special). You know I'll be there to watch since it's pretty much what I've been doing daily since the launch of the FXNOW mobile app. I just hope there are a wider variety of commercials this time. I've seen those Jack Links and Slim Jim commercials so damn much.

Season 28 of The Simpsons premieres September 25th on Fox. 

[via EW]

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Power Rangers photo

To go along with the news of a New York Comic Con panel, first look at the zords, Elizabeth Banks as Rita, and Bryan Cranston as Zordon, is the coolest bit of news yet. Announced on Twitter, Bill Hader is joining the Power Rangers movie as the new Alpha 5 (presumably as a voice over).

I'm trying to keep a critical eye, but I can't help but geek over this. This could be as goofy as I'm hoping for. I've got nothing more to say than "Ai yai yai yai yai yai yai!" 

[via Twitter]

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Review: The Lovers And The Despot

Sep 22 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220842:43121:0[/embed] The Lovers and the DespotDirectors: Robert Cannan and Ross AdamRelease Date: September 23rd, 2016Rating: NR  It's 1978. Choi Eun-Hee is one of South Korea's top movie stars, often starring in the films of her husband, director Shin Sang-Ok. North Korean Kim Jong-Il kidnaps her in Hong Kong. Then he kidnaps her husband. After years in a prison camp, eventually the two of them are reunited. Kim Jong-Il tells them to make films. They do. They make lots of them (17, in fact) and even travel to foreign festivals to show them. And then, of course, they escape. It all sounds a bit silly, but, of course, it's all true. Oversimplified? More than likely, but ultimately True nonetheless.  The Lovers and the Despot tells this story almost exclusively through interviews, with Choi, her family, people involved with the case, etc. Shin passed away a decade ago, but some of his audio makes it in as well. The video and audio clips are interspersed with footage from Shin's films (including some of the ones made in North Korea) and reenactment shots. I thought the decision to do reenactments was interesting, but their effectiveness is diminished somewhat by the footage from the films. In a couple of cases, rather than using reenactments, they pull directly from his films. Those moments are some of the most compelling, and everything really comes together. The reenactments are fine, but you're hearing them narrated at the time, so they lacks any real oomph. They're just there to keep you from getting bored. They're successful in that regard, but they don't do much more. This stands in contrast with certain audio clips, which are literally just audio clips playing over a generic background. And they're fine, but they're also... ya know, audio clips playing over a generic background. At that point, you're not really watching anything. And maybe you're getting a little bored? Some people certainly might, though I can unequivocally say I did not. I didn't know anything about this story before going into The Lovers and the Despot, and I was enthralled by the story itself from beginning to end. The audio-only parts could have just as easily been an exceedingly compelling podcast or something, but what's important is that now I know this story, and that I have seen some footage from these North Korean films, and that I really, really want to see them now. Choi Eun-Hee says at one point in the film that, if she were to make a screenplay of her life, she would gloss over the bad things. She would focus only on the good. It seems to me that The Lovers and the Despot did as well. There are hints here and there of the horrors that they faced, but nothing is ever explicit and the filmmakers don't seem particularly interested in going down that path. Even though this is a film about the evil of North Korea, it's not about the evils of North Korea. And while that may sound like some obnoxious semantic thing, it's an important distinction. More often than not, Kim Jong-Il comes off as weird, to be sure, but not particularly scary. As citizens of the world, we know that he is, but there are only a handful of moments where that really comes across here, and the most impactful one is a scene that comes right from his mouth: Actual audio captured by the two of them of Kim Jong-Il. (It is genuinely fascinating to hear his voice, by the way; until that point, I was pretty sure he sounded like Trey Parker.) It's him talking to his kidnappees about that whole five years in prison that Shin went through. It basically amounts to an, "Oops. Sorry." That complete disregard for a person's existence — and of a person who was brought in to make him movies! — is kind of shocking. And, of course it's not all that shocking that the leader of North Flipping Korea would behave that way, but in a film that isn't about evils, it stands out as the exception that proves the rule. We're missing huge swaths of this story, and I'm conflicted about that. A very real part of me is glad for that, because it allows for some level of whimsy. This whole thing is so ridiculous, but it actually happened. And if you forget all of the awful things that came with it, it could totally be the plot of some weirdo comedy (possibly made by Matt Stone and Trey Parker). I liked being able to laugh and not have to constantly think about the awful things that weren't being said... But the other part of me thinks about sort-of-humanizing dictators and demagogues, and The Lovers and the Despot does a little bit of that. Is that a bad thing? I don't know. Probably. But I'm not going to damn it for that. It's sanitized a bit so that it can play to the widest possible audience, and that is a good thing, because everyone should see this movie. Everyone should learn more about this story. This story is truly incredible. Like, seriously, it's one of the craziest things I've ever heard, certainly the most interesting one related to cinema. And if glossing over the evils of dictatorship is what it takes to get it in front of people? Well that's alright by me.
The Lovers and The Despot photo
Truth is stranger than...

It can be kind of exhausting getting a dozen (or more) emails a day about movie X, Y, and Z. Do I want to see this? Do I want to learn more about this? And I'm sure I've turned down a lot of great movies because the sales pitch just didn't do it for me. You've got to prioritize. (I don't always make the right choices, but c'est la vie.)

Sometimes the things I go for feel sort of arbitrary; other times I'll have heard some buzz about something and so I check it out just because someone else said it was good. I had never heard of The Lovers and the Despot, but the instant I read the summary I knew I had to see it. A documentary about a North Korean dictator kidnapping South Korean filmmakers to improve North Korean cinema? What?

That's awesome.

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Here at Flixist, we appreciate the fine art of releasing one sheet teaser posters featuring an aging star hinting at everything (read: being incredibly vague) to come. Usually, this specific genre involves said aging actor gripping a gun and thus you know everything that needs to be known: lot of people are going to get asses (namely their own) handed to them, and probably a lot of them are going to be killed.

We've known for some time that John Wick was owed and getting a sequel. And now, we're getting our one-sheet featuring the man with a face that looks like a skull, John Wick.

Here, John Wick is either having his dick measured (probable: that thing needs to be documented and recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records*) or he's having a dapper, new, all-black suit made to mourn the death of another cute puppy (very probable: when will bad guys learn not to $%*& with John Wick's pets?).

What is very clear is that John Wick has just taken the art of the mysterious man with a gun poster to new heights. And not just because Keanu Reeves towers over Tom Cruise. This poster is all sorts of man sexy, and deadly. And whomever made that suit should get a credit on the poster: I'll go buy one right now and wear it to the midnight premiere, drunk, because good credit and getting to work on time are for suckers.

*Flixist educational fact of the day: "Molding the minds of America and beyond, one at a time": The Guinness Book of World Records was created by the Guinness brewing company, both of whom owe their founding to a man names Sir Hugh Beaver. You're welcome.

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Kevin Hart posted an exclusive first look image from the set of Jumanji 2 and the internet quickly ate it up. Not because diminutive Kevin is bite-sized (he is), but because amongst the characters wearing practical jungle attire, the lone female (Karen Gillan) is dressed as either the latest iteration of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider or the auteur's homage to an anime girl, and that my dear friends is what internet trolls affectionately call sexism. Boom. Let's open a dialogue.

Well, to avoid just such fireside chats, The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, was quick to tweet his own followup image, in higher resolution and slightly different pose, promising there is no need to get the digital pitchforks and torches quite yet: the costumes will make sense based off the movies plot!

Translation: the plot of this movie is that a sexy woman wears revealing clothing while loosely following a story that allows us to call this the sequel to another movie that didn't objectify a single woman in the least. Unless you can call Robin Williams in heavy beard an objectified woman. And for argument's sake, feel free. Just don't expect me to hand you a treat and say good puppy. For you're not. Bad puppy. Very bad. Some one get me a rolled up newspaper.

And side note, the character names?

Kevin Hart: Moose Finbar

The Rock: Dr. Smolder Bravestone

Jack Black: Professor Shelly Oberon

Karen Gillan: Ruby Roundhouse

Not only do they dress her the part, but they name her the same. While the men are learned scholars, doctors, and professors, poor Karen is named after a stripper. Someone should have told them that Tomb Raider's boobs are supposed to be big enough so that the just tips over naturally.

 

 

[Via Collider]

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It's back, baby

Horror franchise Phantasm hasn't been seen since 1998, with the release of Phantasm IV: Oblivion. This year, the series is back after nearly 20 years, with Phantasm: Ravager on its way next month. Entertainment Weekly's got the trailer for the reported final entry in the series. 

Ravager hits digital HD and video on demand on Oct. 4, before it's released in theaters on Oct. 7 alongside a new restoration of the original movie, Phantasm: Remastered. Original Phantasm writer-director Don Coscarelli returns as a producer on Ravager, which is directed by David Hartman. Series stars Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin and Reggie Bannister will reprise their roles for the movie.

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Power Rangers photo
Coming to NYCC!

Power Rangers may be hitting theaters in a little over six months, but I feel like I've been waiting for it forever. Make fun all you want, but it's a big deal for me and a lot of  folks my age. 

Along with these posters that tease goofy, Transformers looking zords is the news that Lionsgate is holding a Power Rangers panel at New York Comic Con in a few weeks (along with something else cool). Naturally, since I'll be attending this year, it's my one personal mission. We'll most likely get our first, in motion look at the film and that's going to make or break it for me. Because as much as I go back and forth over the new look, I'm kind of in love with how stupid it all is. The original show is dumb, and seeing the new Billy lounging on a giant Triceratops is admittedly a good sign. Same goes for the giant "GO GO" in the poster. Also, the pink ranger's shade of pink is kind of dope. 

All the new trailer needs to do to succeed is have some footage playing over some kind of rearrangement of the old TV theme (I'll even take the cheap slow piano schtick from that first Ghostbusters trailer). Check out the new posters in the gallery below. 

Power Rangers releases March 27th next year. 

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Passengers photo
Also Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt

There are very few genres that Passengers, the new film from The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldym, doesn't seem to want to fit into. It starts out as a rom-com in space and then delves deep into science fiction while going head first into action and comedy and layering on a hint of mystery. In short, it looks really intriguing and if the cast hasn't one you over yet than the incredibly random inclusion of Lawrence Fishburne looking at the camera for a split second should.

Who edited this trailer and why did they feel the need to toss that in there? I mean telling everyone that ol' Larry Fishburne is in your movie is never a bad idea, but it's weird, right?

Otherwise the movie looks really solid and the screenplay is from Jon Spaihts who wrote the first draft of Prometheus. That draft was reportedly logical and interesting before Damon Lindelof came in and Lindeloffed all over it.

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Spawn photo
Casting for digital cape not confirmed

The original Spawn movie holds a special place in a lot of people's hearts. It wasn't that good, but it was definitely of its times, especially the ridiculous cape CGI and Martin Sheens too black hair. Also, it wasn't quite in line with the actual feeling of the comic book as it lacked its darkness and violence. Now, thanks to the resurgence in comic book movies and Deadpool's runaway, R-rated success it appears we may get the Spawn movie we've always wanted... that is if we've wanted one. 

Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn, spoke once again about the film saying he's already finished the screenplay and is editing it. He's claimed that it's gorey and R-rated, but most of all scary. 

"You're never going to see a dude in a rubber suit," McFarlane said. "This is going to be my Jaws shark."

Of course McFarlane has been talking about a new Spawn movie for years with nothing coming of it. It's been a weird art house film and action film and a million other things according to statements he's made since the 90s. For instance it was supposed to shoot sometime in 2014 as a horror film. We'll see what happens this time around as the industry is fully prepped for an R-rated superhero flick.

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Zack Snyder's Justice League gets an 8-bit trailer (more like 16-bit)

Sep 19 // Hubert Vigilla
If you want a point of comparison, you can check out the actual San Diego Comic Con trailer for Justice League here. You may also notice the homage to Justice League Unlimited at the very end. Gosh, that classic run of Bruce Timm animated DC stuff was the best, wasn't it? Personally, I would have preferred NES Ninja Gaiden-style cut scenes. Those Tecmo people knew what they were doing in terms of creating dynamic images with limited technology. What do you think of the trailer? Is it all right as an SNES/Genesis-style cut scene? Do you also miss Justice League Unlimited? Let us know in the comments. [via Screen Rant]
8-bit Justice League photo
Also with a nod to JLU

Zack Snyder has been pretty good about hyping his Justice League movie on Twitter lately. In the last week he's released an image of Batman's tactical batsuit and a first look at J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.

The biggest push for the film, however, was the San Diego Comic Con footage of Justice League during the summer. The people over at 8-Bit Trailers have turned that tease into a retro video game cut scene. It looks a bit more like a 16-bit game, to be honest, like something that could have been on Super Nintendo or Genesis (i.e., The Death and Return of Superman, Batman Returns, or Justice League Task Force).

Check out the 8-bit/16-bit version of Justice League below.

[embed]220894:43118:0[/embed]

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Trailer: A fictionalized Bruce Lee fights hard in Birth of the Dragon

Sep 19 // Hubert Vigilla
The film looks heavily fictionalized even though it's inspired by true events, to a point where it seems totally fiction. The outsider perspective on Bruce Lee is off-putting to me as well. I'm much more interested in Bruce Lee than the trailer's narrator, and while I understand the need for an audience surrogate in certain situations, this doesn't seem like a good use of that trope at first glance. I also wonder about the depiction of Bruce Lee as a cocky braggart prone to thumbing his nose and thumb-pointing. It misses out on the poetry and philosophy that Lee brought to the martial arts as he developed Jeet Kune Do. Still, I'm interested in the clash in martial arts philosophy, though, which seems like it could be a strong exploration of tradition and expansion. I mean, that may be part of the Asian-American experience of immigration and cultural assimilation in a nutshell. And the fights look all right, which means Ng must have had say in how they're choreographed. Here's an official synopsis for Birth of the Dragon: An affectionate nod to the classic Kung Fu films of the 1970s, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a dramatization of the true life but much disputed fight between Kung Fu greats Bruce Lee and Shaolin Master Wong Jack Man in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1964. Based on Michael Dorgan’s magazine article, “Bruce Lee’s Toughest Fight,” the film is written by Chris Wilkinson and Stephen J. Rivele, the Oscar-nominated screenwriters of “Ali” and “Nixon”. They wove together many conflicting accounts of the actual fight and added in fictional characters Steve McKee (based on Steve McQueen who studied with Bruce Lee in the later 60s) and female lead Xiulan, whose fates become entwined in the outcome of the fight. A tribute to the films of Bruce Lee, that inspired generations of martial arts fans, the film is directed by George Nolfi (“The Adjustment Bureau”) and stars Phillip Ng, Xia Yu and Billy Magnussen. The Chinese/American co-production is produced by Kylin and Groundswell. What do you think? Will Bruce Lee become a cinematic folk hero like Wong Fei-hung or Ip Man? Is that something you think should happen? Let us know in the comments. [via Collider]
Birth of the Dragon photo
Kick, punch, it's all in your mind

Martial arts movies have a long history of fictionalizing real-life people. It's happened countless times with Wong Fei-hung, who's been portrayed on film by Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Sammo Hung, among others. There's also Shaolin monk San Te, who was turned into a screen icon by Lau-Kar Leung and Gordon Liu in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Shaolin Master Killer). And of course, we have a few different Ip Man movies, most notably starring Donnie Yen.

It looks like Bruce Lee will be getting that fictional treatment now thanks to Birth of the Dragon, a movie we first reported on back in 2013. While 1993's Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story was estate-approved, I'm not sure the family of Bruce Lee was involved in this new film. Hong Kong star Philip Ng (Once Upon a Time in Shanghai) portrays Lee in the movie.

Give the Birth of the Dragon trailer a watch below.

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Level Up photo
Gamer gets into actual game

Level Up is kind of a weird beast. It's about a "gamer" who gets caught up in a "game" after his girlfriend his kidnapped by a mysterious group. As you can see in the clip they start making him do some weird things like have sex with a stranger. Judging from the teaser this one turns into an action pic and we're guessing the gamer starts to level up and become an action vengeance star. 

Check out the full trailer here and if you're into it you can watch the full thing when it lands tomorrow on VOD. 

[embed]220893:43117:0[/embed]

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First look at J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon in Justice League from #BatmanDay

Sep 18 // Hubert Vigilla
Most people just celebrate Batman Day by dressing up and punching criminal goons in the street. Last year for Batman Day, I threw a car battery at some fool and then yelled, "I'M BATMAN!" at everyone instead of saying hello. This year, I ran from rooftop to rooftop in a cape and disappeared when people weren't looking at me mid-conversation. Belated I'M BATMAN to one and all. What do you think of that J. K. Simmons pic? How did you celebrate Batman Day? Give us your thoughts and a festive I'M BATMAN in the comments. [via IndieWire]
J.K. Simmons as Gordon photo
Zack Snyder loves the Twitter

A while back we reported that J. K. Simmons was cast as Commissioner Gordon in Zack Snyder's Justice League. Principle photography has reached the homestretch in the reportedly hopeful and optimistic superhero film, and Snyder has used Twitter to help give fans a taste of the new film.

Last week Snyder offered a peek at Ben Affleck as Batman wearing a tactical batsuit. Yesterday to celebrate Batman Day, Snyder gave the world its first look at Simmons as the venerable Jim Gordon.

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It's a distant shot of Simmons, but he looks pretty solid. Though it's hard for anything or anyone to look bad when they're standing beside a bat signal. Hope that we get to see some of Simmons' performance soon. Wonder what role he'll play in Affleck's Batman vs. hunky Deathstroke.

Snyder also included this pic on Twitter of himself standing in front of the bat signal dressed a bit like a Gotham detective. (Or maybe he's just generally a dapper guy on set.)

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Review: Blair Witch

Sep 16 // Matthew Razak
The Blair WitchDirector: Adam WingardRated: RRelease Date: September 16, 2016 [embed]220890:43113:0[/embed] If you haven't seen Wingard and Barrett's previous two films I would recommend going out and doing that now. They are two of the best horror movies of the past decade and take your expectations for the genre and flip them on its head. That is exactly what I was expecting out of Blair Witch. Why would the studio bring these guys in if they didn't want them to shake things up? Unfortunately Blair Witch feels more like standard found footage than a radical shift. Aside from the last 15 minutes or so of the film Blair Witch offers very little new to the genre, surviving only on the few interesting ideas that crop up. Blair Witch picks up 17 years after the original with James (James Allen McCune), the brother of Heather, one of the trio that went missing previously. After discovering some new footage online he and his friends Lisa (Callie Hernandez), Allie (Corbin Reid) and Peter (Brandon Scott) return to the Maryland woods in hopes of finding Heather. They're joined by the couple who uploaded the video to YouTube Lane (Wes Robinson) and Talia (Valorie Curry). As if they hadn't seen the footage from the original movie despite it obviously existing in this film's universe they proceed to make all the same mistakes the original trio did and start to get picked off one by one. Oh, and Lisa is making a documentary for school, which is why everything gets recorded and they bring a drone along with them. Wineguard is a superb horror director, but the screenplay never lets him do anything with his skills until the very end. While the original's found footage shtick was revolutionary for the time it feels entirely needless here, especially considering everything is shot on tiny HD cameras mounted to the heads of the actors. Instead of the really-there feeling you got from the scratchy DV camera footage of the original everything feels glossy. It's a problem in general for the found footage genre and one of the reasons its fallen a bit out of use. More importantly, though, the film falls into horror movie genre conventions a bit too often. One of the things that makes the original film still work is that it's more about the three people falling apart than the demonic spirit chasing after them. It's psychological terror with a hint of monster movie, whereas this new version relies far more heavily on jump scares and glimpses of a monster in the woods. They're perfectly well executed and offer up some scary moments, but it's a big disappointment in general. Wineguard's direction saves a lot of it from being truly standard, throwing in homages to Evil Dead and other horror classics, but there's not enough there to make stand out. Until that last 15 minutes that is. Blair Witch's last 15 minutes would have made an incredible short film. You could easily cut off the proceeding 75 minutes and almost all of the action would have made sense considering the pervasiveness of the original film in today's culture. Those last 15 involve a claustrophobia-inducing scene in a tunnel, a horrifying escape through an abandon house, a clever hint at time manipulation and a conclusion that actually pulls the movie out of just being a redo of the original with HD cameras.  It does really feel like a redo, and that's the final nail in the coffin. Much of what made Blair Witch Project work originally was the ongoing belief that it was real. The found footage genre wasn't a thing then and so half the horror was thinking that this really happened. Blair Witch is at a disadvantage there. We've been over saturated with the genre and so to really stand out it needed to do something new, and it just doesn't. It's not a bad film and it does get scary, but it could have been more.  At least we can all still pretend that Book of Shadows doesn't exist.
Blair Witch photo
Lost in the woods

Back in July a pretty standard looking shaky cam movie called The Woods pulled off the impossible by actually surprising the Internet at SDCC. It turned out that the film was a sequel to The Blair Witch Project. Blair Witch, as the movie was revealed to be called, got points for making an entrance for sure, and it got even more points because Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (You're Next and The Guest) were behind it.

Basically two guys who are known for subverting horror genres got a hold of property that started an entire genre in and of itself. That sounds like the making of greatness or at least a horror sequel that doesn't suck.

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Review: Snowden

Sep 16 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220888:43108:0[/embed] SnowdenDirector: Oliver StoneRelease Date: September 16, 2016Rating: R  Snowden is a film steeped in dramatic irony. It opens with the first meeting of Snowden, Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), and Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto). We don't see (then or ever) how he got in touch with them or how he convinced them to go to Hong Kong to meet him. But we know why he's there and why they're there. Everyone knows his name, and I imagine the people who have forgotten what he did will remember pretty quickly once it's all underway. Much of the film takes place in the past, as we watch Snowden go from a young man kicked out of the army after he's injured during boot camp to a CIA employee to a CIA contractor to an NSA contractor to the most famous whistleblower of the modern era. But at each step, we know who and what he will become, and that colors each and every interaction. I imagine it must have been agonizing, during the scripting process, to not get too hammy. The lines exist here and there — perhaps most blatantly: "You won't regret this" after being hired by the CIA — but I imagine that some of those lines were actually said at the time. I would entirely believe that a man would tell his new boss that they wouldn't regret hiring him, for example. Sometime people say things like that. It's only because we know what ultimately happens that that line is seen as anything other than genuine gratitude. To the audience, it's a joke, though no one actually laughed. I don't know how much of Snowden is true and how much is dramatized. I know for a fact that certain things didn't go down the way they were depicted because I remember reading news reports that explained the actual (far less sexy) events three years ago, but those wouldn't have made for compelling drama. Like Snowden, you know something is going to happen, and it's probably bad. He knows it, because he knows what the people he's up against are capable of; you know it, because this isn't the first time you've seen a movie. Movies are all about information. This movie in particular is about information, but I mean in the broader sense of the word, because drama is about the conveying of information. When, where, and how information is presented to the audience can radically change their perception of, well, everything. Information is the most crucial thing in storytelling, and sometimes that information is simple and something it isn't.  What makes Snowden's story so complicated is that the programs he revealed to the world are so complicated. It's hard enough to condense Xkeyscore and Prism and everything else into an easy-to-understand package without needing to also tell a human story about the guy who unveiled it all. Sure, the movie could just not try, but as much as this is Snowden's story, it also is one that tries to explain Why This Matters. Just presenting Snowden is all well and good, but it's crucial that we understand the gravity of the things that Snowden revealed. We need to know why he would throw away his objectively-pretty-good life because something was gnawing at him and he couldn't get away from it. And I think that the film does a decent job of explaining how it all works. Is it oversimplified? Of course... but it's also basically accurate, and that's what matters. People who didn't really pay attention in 2013 or didn't understand what they were being told can learn at least a little bit about what Snowden leaked. That's a big deal. Because information is also power. It's power in the film, but it's also power beyond. In a Q&A session after the film, Oliver Stone was asked what the message of the film was. He rejected the question out of hand and let the others answer it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt said that he thought The Point was to rekindle the conversation, an interest in the things that are talked about. To get people to dig deeper and draw their own conclusions. (The Edward Snowden depicted in the film says something like that, and the real Edward Snowden, beamed in from Moscow during the Q&A, did as well.) They all understand the importance of information. And I think that anyone who sees Snowden will feel it as well. It's an undeniably political film, and Snowden's shift away from hyper-patriotic, semi-authoritarian conservatism is kind of interesting to watch in the context of our current climate. Having seen the general even-handedness of W., I know that Stone isn't out to just make conversatives look bad, but that doesn't mean the reaction to this film won't fall down party lines. Let's be clear: Oliver Stone thinks that what Snowden did is a very important thing, and he stands firmly on his side (though not in all matters, necessarily). As a result of that, I think reactions to it will be heavily partisan. And if not, then what lines does it fall down? Some people will just think it's a bad movie (it's not) because they don't like it. That's fair enough. But others will have a visceral reaction and reject it out of hand. And I want to know why those people do, because I think it matters. To answer the question I posed at the beginning, yes: I think it should start that conversation and bring the issue back to the forefront. But it's important that we start that conversation based on information rather than opinion. It doesn't matter what you think of what Edward Snowden did, whether you think he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail or as a free man. What matters is that the conversation about privacy, about security, about all these extremely important topics can happen now in a way that they couldn't before. Snowden can be a jumping-off point. As the Q&A was getting set up, an older woman a few seats from me stood up. "You're a hero, Mr. Stone," she shouted. People clapped, but it was honestly a little awkward. I wondered how many people in the theater agreed with her. I don't, not really. I don't think that Snowden is a heroic film made by a heroic man. But it doesn't have to be. It just has to be good. To start that conversation, it needs to function as a cohesive narrative, tell a story that is compelling and do so in a compelling way. Snowden does all that. It does more than that. It makes you think. It makes you want to talk. It'll likely make you question your own beliefs about the power that a government should have, regardless of how you feel about it going in. Or maybe it won't, and that's interesting too. The point is that there's something to say, something substantive to discuss. And who know, maybe it can make a difference. How cool would that be?
Snowden Review photo
The power of information

I never saw Citizenfour, the documentary Laura Poitras made about Edward Snowden. I thought about it a lot and certainly meant to, but it was never really a priority for me. This was, in large part, because I followed along with the Snowden story back in 2013. I read Glenn Greenwald's columns long before The Intercept and I followed him there once he broke off on his own. (I also followed the story of The Racket, First Look Media's failed attempt to branch out under the leadership of Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, which is unrelated but also kinda fascinating.)

So I felt like I had seen enough and read enough when Citizenfour came around. We're now almost two years out from that and three years from the Snoweden leaks themselves, and though Snowden is still in the news on a fairly regular basis, I don't feel as inundated with his existence as I once did. And so when I saw the trailer for Oliver Stone's biopic and I heard Joseph Gordon-Levitt's spectacular Snowden voice, I was interested. It's an important story, and the ramifications of it are ones we're still dealing with and need our leaders to deal with.

And that leads to an interesting question: Were Snowden to crush at this weekend's box office, could it bring this issue back to the forefront? And, well, should it?

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Trailer: Morgan Spurlock's new documentary Rats looks like an intense horror thriller

Sep 16 // Hubert Vigilla
Rats looks and feels much different from Super-Size Me and some of Spurlock's other films. Spurlock tends to be a prominent figure in his movies, a sort of lighthearted tour guide through a topic. Instead, we get a very visceral and horrific set of images and facts without Spurlock on camera. Rats was inspired by Robert Sullivan's similarly named non-fiction book Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants. It's a solid, enjoyable, and informative read. A good chunk of the book is comprised of Sullivan's own observations of rats around Wall Street. You can catch Rats on The Discovery Channel on October 22nd. In the meantime, I will continue to make 311 complaints about that vacant building. [via IndieWire]
Morgan Spurlock's Rats photo
Vermin, vermin everywhere *vomits*

Rats are the worst. Like, seriously guys, the worst. There's this vacant building next to my apartment that's rife with them and the city seems helpless about controlling the problem. We may disagree about a lot of things, but most of us can agree on this: rats are terrifying and disgusting and awful creatures that are basically fur-covered garbage full of murderous disease.

Morgan Spurlock certainly feels that way. In Rats, his latest documentary which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Spurlock examines the infestation of vermin in cities around the world.

Rats looks like it's not for the faint of heart or the easily nauseated. Give the trailer a watch:

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NYC: Tickets available for first ever Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (October 14-16)

Sep 16 // Hubert Vigilla
  Opening Night Film: Mattie Do's Dearest Sister ( ນ້ອງຮັກ) [embed]220886:43109:0[/embed]   Centerpiece Film: Emiliano Rocha Minter's We Are the Flesh (Tenemos la carne) - NSFW [embed]220886:43110:0[/embed]   Closing Night Film: Erlingur Thoroddsen's Child Eater [embed]220886:43111:0[/embed]
Brooklyn Horror Film Fest photo
A showcase of independent horror

Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (BHFF), a showcase of independent horror movies taking place in North Brooklyn from October 14th through the 16th. The BHFF features world and regional premieres of horror movies from around the globe.

The opening night film is Mattie Do's Dearest Sister (Laos, France, Estonia; East Coast Premiere), the centerpiece film is Emiliano Rocha Minter's We Are the Flesh (Mexico; East Coast Premiere), and the closing night film is Erlingur Thoroddsen's Child Eater (USA, Iceland; World Premiere). There are more than 10 other feature films and more than 20 horror shorts screening during the fest. In addition to the films, there will be a pop-up art show, storytelling competitions, horror trivia, and more.

So far, screenings and festival events will take place throughout Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick. Announced venues include The Wythe Hotel, Syndicated Theater, Videology, Muriel Schulman Theater at Triskelion Arts, Spectacle Theater, Catland Books, and Throne Watches.

For tickets to BHFF screenings/events and more information about the festival, click here or visit brooklynhorrorfest.com. Below we've included the official poster for the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival as well as trailers for the BHFF's opening night, centerpiece, and closing night films.

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Fifty Shades Darker photo
Fifty Shades Danker

I read the trilogy, I reviewed the original film, and now I'm here to tell you about Fifty Shades Darker. There's honestly not much to say about it. It has the same look as the first one, has the same lack of chemistry its two leads were very public about, and even goes as far as featuring a cover of Beyonce's re-arrangement of "Crazy in Love." But, that's not what you're here for. 

Seeing as how little actual sexual content actually pushed the envelope in the last one, expect to be let down here too, sorry. 

Fifty Shades Darker releases Valentine's Day next year. 

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Annabelle 2 photo
Who really wants this creepy doll?

The first trailer for the sequel to the spinoff of The Conjuring is here, and much like with all other things involving a creepy doll it looks really creepy. Annabelle 2 brings us once again into the world of people who will keep a ridiculously creepy looking doll in their house for no good reason. We knew before that the would follow a doll maker and his wife who let a nun and several children stay with them for awhile. Bad stuff starts happening. 

In the trailer we see Miranda Otto’s character call out Annabelle to either the doll or the little girl so this sequel once again seems to be a prequel. Maybe the tale of how the doll got evil. With Lights Out helmer David F. Sandberg there's good chance we will be getting something really atmospheric.

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Review: ClownTown

Sep 15 // Sean Walsh
[embed]220877:43101:0[/embed] ClownTownDirector: Tom NagelRated: Not RatedRelease Date: September 30, 2016  The plot to ClownTown is a tail as old as time: four friends on their way to a country music concert in the area of southern Ohio with especially bad cell phone reception find themselves stranded in Clinton, a ghost town with a tragic history. As if their taste in music and dead vehicle weren't bad enough, a gang of psychopathic clowns are out to make their stay in Clinton a memorable one. Like most slasher films, there's not much to say about the cast of ClownTown beyond the slashers themselves. Our protagonists are bland simulacrums with paper-thin development and the few denizens of Clinton that aren't clowns are there to deliver exposition. The clowns themselves, for the most part, are actually pretty frightening, "Crowbar" and "Baseball Bat" in particular. ClownTown doesn't do anything we haven't seen before. All the tropes are there: no cell service, dead car, desolate town, random thunderstorm that has no bearing on the story, and generally poor decision-making by the protagonists. There are a few genuinely tense scenes, particularly the one on top of the warehouse, but it is generally a paint-by-numbers slasher film. That's not to say its wholly unenjoyable, however. If you like slasher films and can settle for the generic victims and borderline-tedious dialogue, there are some decent kills in this film. Nothing as creative as what Freddy or Jason bring to the table (which is a shame, considering we're dealing with clowns), but for what it is, it's not bad.  While less is typically more with slasher films, ClownTown left me wanting for more explanation. While we don't need to see Jason's base of operations to understand that he's an unstoppable force of nature, maybe we need just a few more details on why and how an entire town has not been able to put a stop to a small handful of clowns and their reign of terror. With that said, based on the ending and my wanting for more backstory, sign me up for a sequel. ClownTowns, maybe?
Review: ClownTown photo
Killer Clowns from Southern Ohio

In the fifty-six years since Psycho was released to an unsuspecting public, theater-goers have borne witness to slashers of every type. From psycho killers dressed like their mothers to psycho killers dressed up like Ronald Reagan to psycho killers in luchadore masks, there are very few outfits left for the psycho killer to choose from that haven't already been done (in many cases, to death!).

That being said, when I saw "abandoned town" and "violent psychopaths dressed as clowns" in the e-mail gauging interest in reviewing ClownTown, I jumped at the opportunity. Sure, greasepaint and rubber noses aren't exactly unheard of in the slasher genre, but you know what they say:

Send in the clowns. 

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Star Trek photo
This is a good thing

If you're anything like me then you've been waiting very impatiently for CBS to release Star Trek: Discovery so you can not watch it until its all out and that way only have to pay for one month of CBS's stupid streaming service. We're all going to have to wait a little longer now as CBS has announced they'll be delaying the release of the show from January 2017 to May. 

The delay comes as showrunner Bryan Fuller asked for more time to make it better, especially in the realm of special effects. 

“Bringing ‘Star Trek’ back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood. We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality. Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: ‘Star Trek’ deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of.”

It's easy to think that this may hint at some behind the scenes drama that has caused CBS to spook a bit, but in this case that's probably not what is going on. This is the marquee show for CBS's streaming platform and they're going to want to be good so that people actually pay them to watch it. As you can tell I'm hardly excited about the prospect and I'm a massive Star Trek fan. 

Still, I'm glad they're doing this so that the quality will be there. It's interesting to note that if this were a traditional television show scheduled to broadcast the likelihood of the creative team delaying release would be pretty low. Streaming definitely gives CBS a bit more wiggle room. 

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Moana Trailer photo
Oh my gosh.

With as good of a roll Disney has been on lately, I've seen many people joke along the lines of "I will push children out of the way to see this" and for the first time, I completely agree. While this newest trailer gives away a bit more Moana than I'd like (as we see what's most likely the climax), it only confirms there's a substance underneath all of its gorgeous animation. 

Either way this goes, I'm all in. Moana features Disney's first Polynesian princess (debuting Auli’i Cravalho) as she fights to save her people with the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), and to top it all off, Disney Animation did a great deal of research (speaking to scientists, historians, and the like) to make sure it's a true portrait of the South Pacific. 

Moana releases November 23rd, and I'll be pushing kids out of the way to see it. 

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OJ marathon screening photo
The best documentary of 2016

O.J.: Made in America is the crowning achievement of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries. Director Ezra Edelman's five-part, seven-and-a-half hour film is an imposing masterpiece, one which delves into the details of the O.J. Simpson murder trial while also exploring the history of race in America in the 20th century. Each part exists as its own fascinating sub-story in the tragic whole. Edelman begins way back into Simpson's college football career, laying a foundation of celebrity and racial passing that becomes key to understanding the man, his place in the world, and why he likely killed his wife and her friend and subsequently got away with their murder.

In short, O.J.: Made in America is the best documentary of 2016, and one of the best and most important movies of the year.

If you live in the New York City area, you'll have a chance to see the entire film on the big screen followed by a Q & A with Edelman in person. Metrograph is hosting three weekend screenings of O.J.: Made in America on September 24, October 2, and October 16. Edelman will field questions about the movie at the end of each marathon show. Those at the screenings will receive light refreshments prior to the film and during two intermissions.

For tickets and more information, click here.

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Mad Max High Octane Collection and B&W Fury Road coming December 2016

Sep 15 // Hubert Vigilla
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Mad Max goodies photo
Shiny, chrome, and just in time for Xmas

We've waited a long time for a black and white version of Mad Max: Fury Road, and this December we'll finally get it. On December 6th, Mad Max: Fury Road - Black and Chrome Edition will hit Blu-ray. All will be right with the world.

This B&W version of Fury Road will be available in two forms. You can buy a new Blu-Ray of Fury Road, which comes with both the color and B&W versions of the movie as well as a new video introduction with director George Miller. The Black and Chrome Fury Road will also be part of the Mad Max High Octane Collection, which includes all of the films in the series (Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max: Fury Road) as well as a new behind-the-scenes documentary called Road War, which features Miller, writer/producer Terry Hayes, and Mel Gibson discussing the series.

Mad Max: Fury Road Black and Chrome Edition will retail for $29.98, while the Mad Max High Octane Collection will retail for $79.99 on Blu-ray and $54.97 on DVD.

Start counting them pennies, people.

Are you looking forward to seeing Mad Max: Fury Road in B&W? Below is a reminder of what that looks like. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[via /Film]

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Zack Snyder reveals new Ben Affleck Batman suit as Justice League nears completion

Sep 14 // Hubert Vigilla
As the people at Collider note, Tactical Batsuit Batman looks a lot like Nite Owl from Watchmen. No word on if Tactical Suit Batman will eventually be followed by variants such as Underwater Adventure Batman, Arctic Strike Batman, Space Batman, Hulkbuster Batman, Batman with Almonds Batman, or Ultra-Thin Batman with Spermicidal Bat-Lube. We have both Tactical Suit Batman and Nite Owl in the gallery for comparison. (We've also included a lightened version of the new Batsuit for better detail.) What do you think of the new suit? Let us know in the comments. [via Collider]
New Batman suit photo
DO YOU COPY WATCHMEN? YOU WILL!

Zack Snyder is in the homestretch of principle photography on Justice League, which comes out next year. Ben Affleck recently wrapped filming and will likely move on to his solo Batman movie, which will pit the Dark Knight against hunky Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke. As a tease of what's to come, Zack Snyder took to Twitter and released an image of a new Batman suit.

Here's Zack Snyder's tweet:

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Fox making James Bond-style action movie about comics legend Stan Lee

Sep 14 // Hubert Vigilla
The real-person fictional-adventure model is nothing new. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter comes to mind, but briefly and fleetingly since it's so forgettable. The many Wong Fei-hung movies (e.g., Once Upon a Time in China, Drunken Master) have turned a real-life Chinese folk hero into a cinematic legend; the pattern has repeated with the recent Ip Man movies, notably those starring Donnie Yen. There have also been attempts to do this with Renaissance man (of action) Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac "Action/Reaction" Newton. They really need to do one of these about Jack Kirby. Have him get into an insane adventure through time and space with his wife Roz. He'll also draw ten pages of The Fantastic Four in two hours to make a deadline. Would you watch Stan Lee as Roger Moore as Stan Lee? Is a fictionalized adventure what they should be doing? What other historical figures should they do this with? Let us know in the comments, true believers. [via THR]
Lee, Stan Lee photo
Excelsior, not stirred

Fox has acquired the life rights of Marvel Comics writer Stan Lee. The studio is planning to make a fictionalized period action-adventure film about Lee's life in the style of a Roger Moore James Bond film and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Fox, of course, is the studio responsible for Deadpool, the X-Men movies, and the Wolverine films. In related news, Marvel Studios would probably do this project better.

Details on the Stan Lee movie are scant at the moment. Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce the film, which is currently in search of a screenwriter. They could write this movie in the old-school Marvel style, meaning they'll have a storyboard artist laboriously map out the movie's narrative and storybeats and then Stan Lee will take all of the credit.

I kid, I kid.

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Watch the trailer for Pokemon Generations, a new animated web series coming to YouTube

Sep 13 // Hubert Vigilla
Here's an official synopsis for Pokemon Generations: The new animated series Pokémon Generations revisits each generation of the Pokémon video game series to shed new light on some timeless moments. From the earliest days in the Kanto region to the splendor of the Kalos region, go behind the scenes and witness Pokémon history with new eyes! These bite-sized adventures, about 3 to 5 minutes long, will be released every week through December 23, 2016. Below is some concept art, a poster, and something special. Let us know how you feel about Pokemon Generations in the comments. [via Collider]  
Pokemon Generations photo
Make it so, Pikachu

Not too long ago we reported on the live-action Detective Pikachu Pokemon movie being put together by Legendary. Since that project is just getting underway, here's another Pokemon project to whet your appetite: Pokemon Generations on YouTube.

Pokemon Generations will debut on September 16th and roll out weekly 3-to-5-minute installments until December 23rd.

The Pokemon Company put out an official trailer earlier today, which you can check out below. (Sadly there is no Kirk or Picard.)

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NYC: Nitehawk buys The Pavilion by Prospect Park, will open dine-in cinema fall 2017

Sep 13 // Hubert Vigilla
A Eulogy for The Pavilion According to Cinema Treasures, The Pavilion first opened in 1908 as the Marathon Theater, where it looks to have housed vaudeville acts and stage shows. The space operated under the Marathon name until 1927. In 1928, the Marathon Theater reopened as the Sanders Theatre, which ran films until it closed in 1978. The Sanders building remained vacant for more than a decade. In 1996, The Sanders Theatre reopened under new management as The Pavilion, which has been in operation ever since. As a 10-year New Yorker and someone who's seen a few movies at The Pavilion, I can say with some confidence that it is one of the most awful movie theaters in Brooklyn. Nay, it may be one of the worst movie theaters in New York City. The seats are ripped and stained. The theaters themselves are in awful states of disrepair. The second floor reeks from the unkempt restrooms. There's trash all over the theater floors, usually popcorn or bags of chips, and the occasional greasy white bag and paper plates from a pizza place down the block. The staff never seemed to project movies properly on some of the screens--too dark, not centered, too large for the screen dimensions, and sometimes cropped at the top and bottom. One of the theaters is pitch black between films because the employees don't replace the light bulbs. Going to The Pavilion is like watching a movie in the world of The Warriors or Escape from New York; it's like stepping into a Times Square grindhouse in the 1970s except it's playing Zootopia. On the note of Zootopia, I saw it at The Pavilion, and I feared that at some point during the movie I would be attacked by a family of rabid raccoons that lived in the theater. Yet it was a place in the neighborhood, and it holds memories, and there's an odd comfort to it just like an old sweater. An old, bed bug-ridden, smelly, uncomfortable sweater. I'm glad The Pavilion is dead and will be reborn as something better. Nitehawk Prospect Park will respect the films being shown and, more importantly, it will respect the space it's occupying. There's more than a century of history on that corner, and it'll be preserved rather than torn down and forgotten. What a rare thing, and beautiful, too. [via The New York Times]
Nitehawk Cinema #2 photo
I'll sort of miss that crummy old place

The Nitehawk Cinema is an excellent dine-in movie theater, and one of the few reasons I still head to Williamsburg these days. With the Brooklyn Alamo Drafthouse currently in limbo, The Nitehawk is still my go-to destination if I would like a beer or cocktail while watching a cult or indie movie. With a second Nitehawk opening next year, I may not need to travel too far.

The Nitehawk has bought The Pavilion in Park Slope right next to Prospect Park, where it will open a second location. For a while it seemed as if The Pavilion would be torn down to make room for condos, but now it'll be shut down for much-needed renovations and re-open as the Nitehawk Prospect Park in fall 2017.

According to a report in The New York Times, the new Nitehawk location will have seven screens, 650 seats, two bar areas, and an atrium overlooking Prospect Park. By comparison, The Pavilion currently has nine screens, lots of trash on the floor, a persistent urine smell, and probably lice, bed bugs, and rats.

Matthew Viragh, founder of the Nitehawk Cinema, told The Times, "We want to elevate the cinema experience, because that's what it's all about. How rare is it to save a theater in New York, and not make it into a Duane Reade or a Starbucks?"

Very rare. And yes, The Pavilion was in dire need of saving.

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Assassin's Creed images photo
Do you even leap of faith, brah?

The end of the year is fast approaching, which means that the Assassin's Creed movie is almost upon us. While the people over at Ubisoft seemed to downplay box office expectations, this film may turn a pretty decent profit like The Angry Birds Movie and even Warcraft. The film stars Michael Fassbender (and his penis) and Marion Cotillard, and was directed by Justin Kurzel. Kurzel's work includes the recent Macbeth adaptation that starred Fassbender and Cotillard and his brutally effective debut The Snowtown Murders.

What I'm saying is, Nick may get his wish of a great video game movie yet.

To whet your appetite for the film, a couple new Assassin's Creed images have showed up online. They're mostly pics of Fassbender looking like he's about to go wreck some jabroni. Give them a gander in the gallery, brah.

Assassin's Creed arrives in theaters December 21st. Vaya con dios.

[via Collider]

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