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Review: Hail, Caesar!

Feb 05 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]220336:42811:0[/embed] Hail, Caesar!Directors: Joel and Ethan CoenRelease Date: February 5th, 2016Rating: PG-13  I feel for whoever it was who had to cut together the trailer for Hail, Caesar! I imagine it was a nightmare scenario, trying to take what is really just a series of occasionally linked comedic sequences and turn it into something that appears to be dramatic and compelling. And so whoever it was built a narrative, one where George Clooney, a big-name actor who sometimes forgets his lines at key moments, is kidnapped by a mysterious organization, and stars like Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson are enlisted to help get him back. Cameo appearances by Tilda Swinton and Jonah Hill and the like just serve to make it all one big star-studded Hollywood mystery. But… no. That’s not what Hail, Caesar! is at all. A couple of those things happen, but the context presented in the trailer is, to put it bluntly, bullshit. In fact, that opening, with George Clooney’s big speech? That takes place less than ten minutes from the end of the film. Yeah. That’s not the introduction to that character. It’s the resolution. In fact, much of the trailer comes from the second half of the film, and it almost feels like it went in reverse chronological order. The “reveal” of the secret society that ends the trailer feels like a big end-of-act reveal. Maybe the end of the first act? And sure enough, that does happen around then. Problem is, all of the imagery the trailer subjected us to up until that point takes place after we already know who they are. Because it’s not even really a secret. I’m not going to tell you, but that’s pretty much entirely because you’ve already had the ending spoiled, so why not give you something?  You don’t watch Hail, Caesar! for the narrative, because there is no narrative. As I said, it’s a series of occasionally linked comedic sequences. That’s honestly the best way to describe it. Characters come in, do their funny thing, and then are never seen from again. Or they come in briefly a handful of times, all teasing some far more interesting existence than the one we’re seeing. It’s all potential. This is a film of unending potential. Each character has a backstory that seems rich enough to justify not necessarily a movie, but certainly an episode of a series. I would watch Hail, Caesar! the series. None of the myriad characters really gets their due, and it’s such a shame. I wanted more of damn near everyone. And arguments could be made that being left wanting is better than the alternative, but I have to wonder: What’s the point of it all? It’s like a cupcake with a nice foil wrapper. You look at it, and it looks good. You take a first bite, and it is good. But then you pull back the foil wrapper, and you realize that there’s nothing more to the cupcake. It’s just air. You liked those couple of bites you got, but you’re so disappointed that that’s all there was. No cream filling? Heck, you would have even accepted just more cake! But you don’t get that. Instead, you just have a well-crafted cupcake top in the guise of something more. Of course, what is there is good. Let’s not pretend otherwise. The Coen Brothers are beloved for a reason: They know how to make good movies. Hail, Caesar! is pretty, funny, fun, and any number of other adjectives, but that’s just baseline. There’s nothing more here to remind you of why the Coen Brothers are a household name. You get some really fun sequences – and I sincerely hope that the musical numbers are practice for a full-blown musical film that they’ve got up their sleeves – but there’s nothing to really bite into. You go from fun thing to fun thing, always expecting more. Always hoping for more. Always feeling that there is more, but the Coen Brothers don’t think you’re cool enough to see it. When I think about the movie, I don’t really have any “complaints,” per se. I have my big fundamental issue, but from moment to moment, there’s not really much negative to say. But there’s also nothing wildly positive to say. This is a movie that is Good and nothing more. It doesn’t even really aspire to be more. It seems content in its Goodness. I don’t have a problem with Good movies – I appreciate any movie that has the audacity to be simply enjoyable – but I wanted this to be great. And it just isn’t. I never thought that word, or felt it, but I wanted to oh so badly. I felt like there were times where I should have thought, “Wow! That was great!” but I just… didn’t. And from the Coen Brothers, that stings. They’ve made so many classics, comedic and otherwise, that something merely Good from them feels lazy. This is a Coen Brothers puff piece, some something they did to fulfill a contract. And a Coen Brothers puff piece is still worth seeing, but it’s certainly not something worth celebrating.
Hail, Caesar! Review photo
Act One?

Joseph Kahn, director of Detention, the best film ever made, is an exceedingly well respected music video director. Most recently, he’s known as the guy who makes all those amazing Taylor Swift music videos. Together, the two of them have done Blank Space, Bad Blood, Wildest Dreams, and Out of the Woods. They make one hell of a pair, and everything they do is compelling. But some of it is more compelling than others. Of the four they’ve done together, one has always stuck out to me as lesser: Bad Blood. I was excited to see that music video. I followed the discussion on Twitter, saw the character posters, and all that good stuff. People were making references to the Thriller video, and so I was expecting a big epic. There were a dozen characters to be introduced, and then it would start.

But no, rather than kicking into gear when all of the characters have been introduced, Bad Blood ends. And I couldn’t help but think, “Is that it? All that setup? For what?”

Hail, Caesar! is kinda like that.

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The Satanic Temple is holding early screenings of The Witch, which has a new trailer

Feb 03 // Hubert Vigilla
Jex Blackmore, National Spokesperson for The Satanic Temple & Director of the Detroit Chapter of The Satanic Temple Dearest Comrade, With the discipline of a historian and the voice of a rebel, award-winning filmmaker Robert Eggers celebrates the sociocultural roots of the witch as a consequence of parasitic, puritanical worldviews. The Witch examines theocratic patriarchy in microcosm, documenting the pathology of a religious hysteria that is still influential in politics today. I speak to you as a Satanist, an individual who embraces her pariah status and actively challenges arbitrary authority in defense of personal sovereignty. To The Satanic Temple, Satan is a symbol of defiance, independence, wisdom and self-empowerment, and serves as an affirmation of natural existence. As Satanists, we are ever mindful of the plight of women and outsiders throughout history who suffered under the hammer of theocracy and yet fought to empower themselves. This film provides context to a period of American history that is too often fetishized by those seeking to wield this hammer once again. While the patriarchy makes witches of only the most socially vulnerable members of society, Eggers’ film refuses to construct a victim narrative. Instead it features a declaration of feminine independence that both provokes puritanical America and inspires a tradition of spiritual transgression. We are empowered by the narrative of The Witch: a story of pathological pride, old-world religious paradigms, and an outsider who grabs persecution by the horns. Efforts to oppress and demonize the heretic prove to be a path to destruction. The witch does not burn but rises up in the night. The Witch is not only a powerful cinematic experience, but also an impressive presentation of Satanic insight that will inform contemporary discussion of religious experience. Yet, The Witch is more than a film; it is a transformative Satanic experience that, in its call to arms, becomes an act of spiritual sabotage and liberation from the oppressive traditions of our forefathers. It is time to awaken. As we stand at the crossroads of history, let us confront the blind and self-righteous who persecute thought and reason. Let us rise up in celebration of our Satanic nature and embrace the embodiment of the witch. This is a new American era. Join us. [embed]220335:42810:0[/embed] I realize that I may have struck a jokey tone throughout all this, but the philosophy of TST is sound and seems rather inclusive, all things considered: The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people. In addition, we embrace practical common sense and justice. As an organized religion, we feel it is our function to actively provide outreach, to lead by example, and to participate in public affairs wheresoever the issues might benefit from rational, Satanic insights. As Satanists, we all should be guided by our consciences to undertake noble pursuits guided by our individual wills. We believe that this is the hope of all mankind and the highest aspiration of humanity.
The Witch and satanists photo
"I sell shoes!"

Ever since hearing about Robert Eggers' The Witch at last year's Sundance Film Festival, I've been waiting eagerly to see it. If you live in New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, or Detroit, you can catch the movie a few days early thanks to your friends at The Satanic Temple.

That's right. The critically acclaimed horror film has the official backing of The Satanic Temple, with TST spokeswoman Jex Blackmore hailing the film a "transformative Satanic experience." Blackmore noted in a statement that "The Witch examines theocratic patriarchy in microcosm, documenting the pathology of a religious hysteria that is still influential in politics today."

The TST screenings kick off in NYC on 2/10, with subsequent screenings in LA on 2/12, Austin on 2/16, and in Detroit on a day TBD. I'm having trouble finding the actual locations and times for these screenings, but TST did launch the website satanic-revolution.com, which I assume is where the info will eventually be available. (If anything, you can sign the guestbook and declare yourself a witch. Have fun.)

A new trailer for The Witch was released earlier in the week, which you can check out below.

[embed]220335:42809:0[/embed]

You can read Jex Blackmore's full statement about The Witch below.

The Witch officially hits theaters on February 19th. Look for our review of the film that week.

[via Den of Geek]

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Pandemic trailer photo
Needs HUD with health/ammo information

There have been quite a few films shot entirely from the first-person perspective. The results of this can vary. You have loads of found-footage movies, for example, many of which are fodder with some memorable exceptions (the original [REC] and Cloverfield come to mind). Beyond the diegetic conceit of cameras-on-the-scene, there's also POV-based movies like Franck Khalfoun's 2012 remake of Maniac and, going way back, Lady in the Lake, a 1947 first-person Philip Marlowe mystery.

Now we have Pandemic, a zombie apocalypse movie in the style of a first-person shooter. The film's promo material is even embracing its FPS roots ("a new model of action thriller for the video game generation," make of that what you will).

So yeah, kinda like Doom. Here's a trailer.

[embed]220333:42807:0[/embed]

Here's a synopsis:

Pandemic is set in the near future, where a virus of epic proportions has overtaken the planet. There are more infected than uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. Its only hope is finding a cure and keeping the infected contained. Lauren (Rachel Nichols) is a doctor, who, after the fall of New York, comes to Los Angeles to lead a team to hunt for and rescue uninfected survivors.

It'll be interesting to see if Pandemic can play with the first-person perspective to do something novel rather than just exploiting the FPS-style as a gimmick.

Pandemic will shamble into theaters on April 1st.

What do you think of the first-person visual style in general? Use the comments to chime in.

[via ScreenRant]

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Watch the red band trailer for Green Room, starring Patrick Stewart as a neo-Nazi (NSFW)

Feb 02 // Hubert Vigilla
I was just talking to Flixist Features Editor Alec Kubas-Meyer about Green Room last week and how it was one of his most anticipated films of the year. Based on the trailer and what Saulnier did with Blue Ruin, I can see why. Here's an official synopsis for Green Room: Green Room is a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band. Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain't Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren't meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they must face off against the club's depraved owner, Darcy Banker (Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise. But while Darcy and his henchmen think the band will be easy to get rid of, The Ain't Rights prove themselves much more cunning and capable than anyone expected, turning the tables on their unsuspecting captors and setting the stage for the ultimate life-or-death showdown. Intense, emotional, and ingeniously twisted, Green Room is genre filmmaking at its best and most original. Saulnier continues to build his reputation as one of the most exciting and distinctive directors working today, with a movie that’s completely different from his previous, highly acclaimed Blue Ruin, but which is just as risk-taking and even more full of twists. The entire cast deliver first-rate performances, but Patrick Stewart gives a transformative and brilliantly devious turn as Darcy--elegant yet lethal, droll yet terrifying, Stewart makes the film simply unforgettable. Green Room opens in New York and Los Angeles on April 15th, expanding nationwide on April 29th. The poster for Green Room is in the gallery.
Green Room trailer photo
From Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin was an exceptionally made, critically acclaimed revenge thriller that drew comparisons to the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple. It was one of my favorite movies released in 2014.

For a follow-up, it looks like Saulnier's knocked it out again with the intense-looking standoff thriller Green Room, which stars Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, and Alia Shawkat.

The red band trailer for the film was just released today, and while it uses the "ominous cover of a classic song" trailer trope, it does so to great effect. Here it is:

[embed]220334:42808:0[/embed]

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JLA vs. Teen Titans photo
Heroes vs. Possessed Heroes

In general, I'm more excited about the animated DCU releases than I am their live-action blockbusters (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad). There's something about classic and newer DCU animation like Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited, or the countless DTV films they've done that get the spirit of the comics and the characters right.

In addition to the short adventures of Justice League Action, DCU animated fans can look forward to Justice League vs. Teen Titans, an original animated feature coming out in late March/early April.

Here's the trailer for Justice League vs. Teen Titans.

[embed]220332:42806:0[/embed]

It's the good ol' story of heroes fightin' possessed heroes. I loves 'em when done right (e.g., the Stealing Thunder story arc from JSA back in 2003.)

Justice League vs. Teen Titans will be out on Digital HD on March 29th. The Blu-ray/DVD package will be available on April 12th, and will include a documentary on the Teen Titans, character featurettes, and more.

[via IGN]

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New John Carpenter album photo
If I were a carpenter...

Last year, horror maestro John Carpenter released the album Lost Themes, a collection of original compositions that could have come from one of his movies. If you loved Lost Themes, you'll be happy to know that a new Carpenter album, Lost Themes II, will be out on April 15th.

John Carpenter will play his first live music dates overseas this year. His first live performance will be at ATP Iceland in July, with subsequent ATP Release the Bats shows scheduled in Manchester on October 29th and London on Halloween.

According to the AV Club, the press release also teased possible US dates to be announced.

Here's a track from last year's Lost Themes.

[embed]220331:42805:0[/embed]

Hopefully Carpenter plays New York. I've loved his film scores ever since high school, and I'd love to see the director (currently 68 years old) in person. If he does play NYC, I'm totally wearing this Cinemetal t-shirt.

[via The AV Club]

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Ewan McGregor Star Wars photo
Obi-Wan Kenobi speaks

Several months ago we reported that Ewan McGregor might have a cameo in the new Star Wars films. Turns out the rumors were true.

While promoting Jane Got a Gun (a western starring Natalie Portman) on Jimmy Kimmel Live, McGregor talked about his contribution to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and how it came about.

[embed]220329:42803:0[/embed]

Guys, Ewan McGregor is totally ageless.

This makes me wonder if McGregor will be adding more of his vocal talent to the subsequent Star Wars movies. Whether it was a one-off or the start of something else, it's nice to see the best thing about the prequels (i.e., Ewan McGregor) being revisited, even if just briefly.

[via The Mary Sue]

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Behold: A complete list of every movie Bill Clinton watched in The White House

Feb 01 // Hubert Vigilla
1993 Lorenzo’s Oil - January 27, 1993 Leap of Faith - February 5, 1993 Falling Down - February 12, 1993 The Bodyguard - February 14, 1993 Howard’s End - February 20, 1993 Groundhog Day - February 27, 1993 Benny and Joon - March 4, 1993 Mad Dog and Glory - March 13, 1993 Married To It - March 20, 1993 Made in America - April 15, 1993 Born Yesterday (1993) - April 16, 1993 Dave - April 23, 1993 Point of No Return - May 1, 1993 Lost in Yonkers - May 14, 1993 Undercover Blues - May 21, 1993 Sleepless in Seattle - June 11, 1993 The Man Without a Face - September 3, 1993 Age of Innocence - September 11, 1993 Searching For Bobby Fischer - September 17, 1993 The Joy Luck Club - October 1, 1993 A Bronx Tale - October 10, 1993 Rudy - October 15, 1993 Striking Distance - October 22, 1993 Demolition Man - October 29, 1993 Philadelphia - November 13, 1993 The Three Musketeers (1993) - November 24, 1993 Cool Runnings - November 25, 1993 The Piano - November 26, 1993 The Pelican Brief - December 10, 1993 A Perfect World - December 26, 1993   1994 Tombstone - January 18, 1994 Shadowlands - January 20, 1994 Mrs. Doubtfire - January 21, 1994 The Air Up There - January 27, 1994 Grumpy Old Men - January 28, 1994 Six Degrees of Separation - February 11, 1994 Romeo is Bleeding - February 21, 1994 Guarding Tess - March 5, 1994 Abraham - March 11, 1994 Naked Gun 33 ⅓ - March 12, 1994 The Hudsucker Proxy - March 18, 1994 Four Weddings and a Funeral - April 15, 1994 Clifford - April 29, 1994 Little Women - December 25, 1994 Forrest Gump - December 26, 1994   1995 Nobody’s Fool - January 5, 1995 Legends of the Fall - January 13, 1995 Higher Learning - February 4, 1995 Boys on the Side - February 17, 1995 Miami Rhapsody - February 18, 1995 A Man of No Importance - February 19, 1995 The Quick and the Dead - February 20, 1995 Rob Roy - April 15, 1995 The Madness of King George - April 21, 1995 Jefferson in Paris - April 22, 1995 French Kiss - May 13, 1995 Braveheart - May 26, 1995 Kiss of Death - May 27, 1995 Braveheart - May 28, 1995 The Bridges of Madison County - May 28, 1995 Crimson Tide - June 2, 1995 Apollo 13 - June 8, 1995   1996 The Birdcage - April 3, 1996 Chicano! - May 2, 1996 Independence Day - June 22, 1996   1997 Jerry Maguire - January 10, 1997 One Fine Day - January 15, 1997 Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown - August 2, 1997 Shall We Dance - August 3, 1997 Cop Land - August 15, 1997 G.I. Jane - September 12, 1997 The Peacemaker - October 3, 1997   1998 Kundun - January 10, 1998 Good Will Hunting - January 11, 1998 The Apostle - January 24, 1998 Titanic - January 23, 1998 Fallen - January 30, 1998 Hard Rain - January 31, 1998 Temptress Moon - February 7, 1998 (mislabeled as Tempest Moon?) Zero Effect - February 15, 1998 HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon (parts 1-2 of 12) - March 5, 1998 The Boxer - March 14, 1998 Twilight (1998)- April 4, 1998 The Big Lebowski - April 10, 1998 Dangerous Beauty - April 24, 1998 Bulworth - May 30, 1998 Deep Impact - June 1, 1998 The Truman Show - June 6, 1998 About Sarah - June 20, 1998 Out of Sight - July 4, 1998 Smoke Screen - July 8, 1998 Armageddon - July 10, 1998 A Perfect Murder - July 13, 1998 Saving Private Ryan - July 14, 1998 The Mask of Zorro - July 22, 1998 Snake Eyes - August 8, 1998 The Avengers (1998) - September 6, 1998 Wrongfully Accused - October 4, 1998 Rush Hour - October 23, 1998 Holy Man - October 30, 1998 Beloved - November 3, 1998 A Bug’s Life - November 8, 1998 Soldier - November 16, 1998 The Siege - November 17, 1998 Enemy of the State - December 12, 1998 Waking Ned Devine and A Civil Action- December 25, 1998 Life is Beautiful and The Prince of Egypt - December 26, 1998   1999 You’ve Got Mail - January 2, 1999 Affliction - January 23, 1999 Forever Fever (aka That’s the Way I Like It) - February 13, 1999 Little Voice - February 16, 1999 Message in a Bottle - February 20, 1999a HBO’s Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports - March 4, 1999 October Sky - March 5, 1999 Analyze This - March 6, 1999 The Other Sister - March 14, 1999 8MM - March 26, 1999 True Crime - April 3, 1999 The Winslow Boy - May 2, 1999 Entrapment - May 12, 1999 The Castle - May 17, 1999 Cookie’s Fortune - May 21, 1999 The Harmonists - May 23, 1999 Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace - June 6, 1999 Shadrach - June 10, 1999 The Mummy - June 26, 1999 The 13th Floor - June 27, 1999 An Ideal Husband - July 2, 1999 Limbo - July 3, 1999 The General’s Daughter - July 12, 1999 Wild Wild West - July 17, 1999 Lake Placid - August 5, 1999 The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) - August 13, 1999 Fifty Violins (aka Music of the Heart) - August 15, 1999 Mystery Men - September 4, 1999 Runaway Bride - September 5, 1999 American Beauty - October 10, 1999 My Life So Far - October 11, 1999 Three Kings - October 14, 1999 Double Jeopardy - October 16, 1999 Music of the Heart - October 23, 1999 Fight Club - November 6, 1999 The Bachelor - November 7, 1999 Crazy in Alabama - November 12, 1999 (mislisted as “Crazy in Arizona”?) Liberty Heights - November 24, 1999 The World is Not Enough - November 25, 1999 The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc - November 26, 1999 End of Days - November 27, 1999 The Hurricane - December 3, 1999 Galaxy Quest - December 25, 1999 The Talented Mr. Ripley - December 30, 1999
Bill Clinton viewing list photo
Naked Gun 33 1/3 - March 12, 1994

The Iowa caucuses are today, which means that the race for The White House is really kicking off tonight. Whoever becomes the new POTUS will have the fate of the free world in his or her hands. He or she will also be able to watch movies in The White House, which sounds pretty flippin' sweet. (You can thank Jimmy Carter for making the Iowa caucuses matter. And as Matt Novak at Gizmodo points out, Carter also watched the original Star Wars with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat before the Camp David Peace Accords.)

Gizmodo filed a Freedom of Information Act request and obtained a complete list of the movies Bill Clinton watched while in The White House. He watched 171 films in his two terms as President, including a curious dry spell in 1996 and 1997.

Let your speculation run wild.

We've got the full list is below the cut. I think film/culture critic Nathan Rabin put it best on Twitter:

[embed]220330:42804:0[/embed]

What movie would you like to see with a President? You may choose any president you wish and post it in the comments. (I'd watch Drunken Master 2 with Teddy Roosevelt.)

[via Gizmodo/Paleofuture]

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Cabin Fever trailer photo
Superfluous remake seems superfluous

In 2002, Eli Roth launched his career with Cabin Fever. Now, 13-14 years later, we have a remake of Cabin Fever that looks a lot like, well, Cabin Fever.

Give the Cabin Fever remake a look below.

[embed]220328:42802:0[/embed]

While Peter Jackson hyped the movie many years ago, I've always felt that Cabin Fever was overrated. It's homage-y, sure, but it never really made an impression. By the end, I wondered what all the hype was about.

Numerous sources say that the Cabin Fever remake is basically reshooting the same script that Eli Roth used for the original film, which makes this remake feel even less worth seeing. Why would fans of the original Cabin Fever want to see an updated version of essentially the same film when they enjoyed the first one just fine?

The Cabin Fever remake comes out on February 12th in limited release.

Is anyone interested in this?

[via /Film]

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Justice League photo
With Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy in tow

While DC Comics and Warner Bros struggle to figure out what they should do with their movies, they've always dominated TV. Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow are huge on the CW, Supergirl is doing well on CBS, Teen Titans Go! plays for like 14 hours a day on Cartoon Network, and their animated projects are some of the most fondly remembered comic book adaptations of all time. Heck, they're still churning out home video animation regularly and they're always on the better end of decent. 

So now the Justice League are coming back...pocket sized. Much like Teen Titans, Justice League is getting a revival as Justice League Action, a 15 minute program featuring short adventures. While the show may sound weird at first, James Woods was cast as Lex Luthor, Diedrich Bader (who voiced the best animated Batman in Brave and the Bold) as Booster Gold, and the biggest surprise? Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are set to return as Batman and the Joker respectively. 

There are no further details as to the tone of the show or premiere date, but given that this new show has the some of the same producers from the original Justice League animated run, I'm not writing this off anytime soon. The same with Teen Titans Go! While I was sad we weren't getting a story driven show anymore, Go! ending up being pretty funny. So who knows?

[via DC Comics

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Nine Lives Trailer photo

"Just drown me."

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Trump vs. Trump photo
Giant Douche vs. Turd Sandwich

This year's presidential primaries have been fascinating and occasionally terrifying if you're a political junkie like me, especially watching the rise of unbridled derp on the Republican side. If you've been following the lead up to the Iowa caucuses, you know that Donald Trump decided to skip last night's Republican debate because Megyn Kelly and Fox News were mean to him.

(That's what we need in an American president: a massive yet fragile ego and thin skin, just like Eric Cartman from South Park. Also, awful hair.)

To rectify the situation, Stephen Colbert decided to hold a Donald Trump vs. Donald Trump debate last night on The Late Show. You can check it out below.

[embed]220325:42800:0[/embed]

This is some classic Colbert Report-style work that shows how flip-floppy and disingenuous Trump is at his core. But hey, his supporters don't care about that. He's still the frontrunner for the Republican party right now.

The Iowa caucuses are on February 1st. That should make for an insane night of television. 

[via Salon]

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Kubo Trailer photo
This looks so, so pretty

Laika is a studio we at Flixist gladly pay attention to. Thanks to ParaNorman and Coraline, they've earned our respect with their stop motion craft coupled with fine storytelling. Even their weaker entry, The Boxtrolls, ended up on the better side of good. So did you hear they've assembled a huge name cast (which includes the likes of Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and Matthew McConaughey) to tell the story of a young boy named Kubo and his magical shamisen in ancient Japan? I can't believe this exists. 

This first trailer's absolutely catching. From its Beatles cover, to its art style (that stop motion ocean!). and to Kubo controlling little origami animals with his music. Sign me up yesterday. 

Kubo and the Two Strings releases August 19th. 

[embed]220318:42799:0[/embed]

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2017 DeLoreans photo
Make like a tree and get out

With 2015 behind us, you'd think that was the end of weaponized Back to the Future nostalgia. Well, no. Turns out you'll be able to buy a brand new replica DeLorean in 2017. (As noted by /Film's Ethan Anderton, only 9,200 vintage DeLoreans were ever manufactured in 1981 and 1982, with just 6,500 DeLoreans remaining today. The rest were erased--eased from existence!)

You see, there's this law on the books that allows small batches of replica vintage cars to be made that do not need to adhere to modern safety standards. Only 325 of these replica DeLoreans will be made over the course of five years.

The 2017 DeLoreans are not exact replicas, however. The replica DeLoreans will come with a more powerful V6 engine (which will make hitting 88 mph a little easier), a modern brake system, and stuff for your smart phone (leave that Van Halen cassette at home, bucko).

If you want one of these replica DeLoreans, it will set you back between $80,000 to $100,000. You will also need to provide your own flux capacitor.

[via /Film]

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David Bowie auditioned for Lord of the Rings

Jan 29 // Hubert Vigilla
While Bowie would have made an excellent Gandalf (or anyone, really), Dennis DiClaudio of the AV Club guesses that he was most likely reading to play Elrond. The role wound up going to Hugo Weaving, who did a fine job, though I wonder what Bowie would have been like in the role. Ultimately, Bowie's persona was too big for any role, so in almost any film he's in, he wound up playing David Bowie. So yeah, he would have been great. [The Huffington Post via AV Club]
David Bowie LOTR photo
The Man Who Fell to Middle-Earth

Following the death of David Bowie, more and more information has surfaced about his works in progress and his past projects. Up until his passing, the man was writing new songs. He has multiple posthumous albums set for release starting in 2017. James Gunn even mentioned they were trying to have Bowie make a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

One of the interesting things that's come up recently is that David Bowie did in fact audition for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, confirming some old rumors. Dominic Monaghan said the following to The Huffington Post:

I was at the Hubbard's, which is a pretty notorious casting agency office in London, doing an audition for Lord of the Rings, and when it ended I went over and talked to John Hubbard, who was running the audition, and he said, 'Hey, it went really well. You should wait around for 5 or 10 mins. We'll give you some feedback.

I thought, 'Oh, OK, cool, and I sat in the reception office. As I was reading a magazine waiting, David Bowie came in and signed his little list and went in. And I'm assuming he read for Gandalf. I can't think of anything else he would've read for. He may have read for something else, but I'm a huge David Bowie fan, and I was lucky enough to know his son now so just seeing him in person was pretty special to me.

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RIP Abe Vigoda (1921-2016)

Jan 27 // Hubert Vigilla
The false reports of Vigoda's death turned him into a sort of irreverent comic figure (getting more irreverent and more comic as the actor got older), and it eventually spawned a few internet memes at various websites. Someone even started the website isabevigodadead.com, which up until yesterday simply said "No." Vigoda was beloved, to be sure, so much so that he would pop up in unexpected places and provide joy simply from his unexpected presence. Case in point, here he is at a Phish show on Halloween in 2013. [embed]220314:42798:0[/embed] According to his daughter Carol Vigoda Fuchs, Abe passed away peacefully in his sleep due to old age. "This man was never sick," Fuchs said. Here's a clip of Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter paying tribute to Abe Vigoda yesterday for his countless appearances on their NBC Late Night show. [embed]220314:42796:0[/embed] Classic Abe Vigoda. [via Variety, ABC]
RIP Abe Vigoda photo
Goodnight, Abe

Abe Vigoda, best known for his work in Barney Miller and The Godfather, passed away yesterday. He was 94 years old.

While he was recognizable character actor throughout his long career, at a certain point in his life, Abe Vigoda was most famous simply for being Abe Vigoda. He became a cult figure, making appearances on late night television with David Letterman and Conan O'Brien.

In the 1988 Letterman clip below, Vigoda laughs at the false reports of his own death.

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The Chickening photo
What has been seen cannot be unseen

Nick DenBoer and Davy Force's The Chickening is a poultry-centric parody of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

I want you to pause a moment, read that sentence again, and then just watch the NSFW video below.

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That was the Citizen Kane of poultry-based Shining parodies.

My friend Jon Russek sent this along to me last night, and it is a mesmerizing remix. Stranger still, The Chickening played at last year's Toronto International Film Festival as well as this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Since this is a riff on The Shining, I expect there to be lots of crazy conspiracy theory analysis a la Room 237, the documentary by Rodney Ascher.

Provide your detailed, overly intellectualized reads of The Chickening in the comments.

[Birth.Movies.Death. via @filmaddict]

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Angry Birds Movie trailer photo
Urine or you're out

The first trailer for The Angry Birds Movie was not particularly good. It was rife with bad animated movie cliches and seemed pretty lazy and silly (bad-silly, not good-silly).

There's a new trailer for The Angry Birds Movie you can check out below.

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Well... that happened, didn't it?

Man, this looks like piss after a lunch of asparagus and coffee. Not even cloaca shots can save this movie.

The Angry Birds Movie features the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Bill Hader, and Peter Dinklage, Keegan-Michael Key, and Hannibal Buress. It comes out May 20th.

[via /Film]

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Watch the opening scene from Southbound, a new anthology horror film (NSFW)

Jan 26 // Hubert Vigilla
The segment above was directed by Radio Silence, a collective also responsible for the Halloween party bit in the first V/H/S. The other directors of Southbound are Roxanne Benjamin (producer on the first two V/H/S films), David Bruckner (The Signal), and Patrick Horvath (The Pact 2). Here's a synopsis: On a desolate stretch of desert highway, weary travelers--two men on the run from their past, a band on their way to the next gig, a man struggling to get home, a brother in search of his long-lost sister and a family on vacation--are forced to confront their worst fears and darkest secrets in these interwoven tales of terror and remorse on the open road. Southbound hits theaters on February 5, and VOD on February 9. Check out the excellent poster for Southbound and the film's trailer below. [via /Film] [embed]220311:42793:0[/embed]
Southbound horror clip photo
On the road again, and again, and again

In 2012, V/H/S helped kick off a mini-boom in anthology horror films, eventually spawning two sequels of its own. Anthology films are typically hit or miss from short to short (or a big miss overall), though at their best, anthology horror movies are generally a nice showcase for the various filmmakers involved.

Southbound, a new anthology horror film that debuted at last year's Toronto Film Festival, looks like it could be more hit than miss. The opening scene of the film has been released online and looks like a promising and eerie set-up.

Give the opening scene of Southbound a watch below.

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The Survivalist photo
One of my favorites from Tribeca 2015

The Survivalist was one of my favorite movies from last year's Tribeca Film Festival. (You can read my review at another site here.) It was a moody, memorable indie drama set in the overgrown woods of a post-apocalyptic future. First-time feature filmmaker Stephen Fingelton was nominated for a well-deserved BAFTA for his film (Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer).

A UK trailer for The Survivalist was released last week, which you can check out below:

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The Survivalist stars Martin McCann, Olwen Fouere, and Mia Goth, with each of the three leads bringing a kind of feral suspicion and intensity to their roles.

The Survivalist will be out in UK and Ireland theaters and VOD on February 12. Hopefully the film secures US distribution in the future.

[via The Film Stage]

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Labyrinth sequel photo
It's a continuation, not a remake

Yesterday we mentioned that there is a Labyrinth reboot in the works, which is being written by Guardians of the Galaxy co-writer Nicole Perlman. Perlman took to Twitter over the weekend to assure fans that the film is not a remake, while suggesting the project is a continuation of the story that's been in the works for some time.

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There you have it. If this is a Labyrinth sequel, it'll be interesting to see if it revisits Jennifer Connelly's character as an adult; ditto how they'll discuss Jareth the goblin king (David Bowie).

So far my friend Christina Nicholls has the best suggestion for who should play the new goblin royal: Tilda Swinton.

Any other suggestions? Add them to the comments.

[via NME, AV Club]

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Batman v Superman TV spots and poster show how much our heroes hate each other

Jan 25 // Hubert Vigilla
If this were a screwball comedy, Batman and Superman would bicker and squabble until they realize there's an uncontrollable attraction underlying their initial animosity. What's more, their apparent hatred for one another is just a facade, a way to shield each other from their intense emotional vulnerability. Because when it comes to love, the one thing that both Batman and Superman fear most is being hurt by someone they care about. But since this is a Zack Snyder superhero movie, they'll just punch each other in the most dourly adolescent way imaginable. Then Wonder Woman shows up. And then someone else also shows up. (You can spoil the whole movie by watching the trailer from last December.) Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters on March 25th. A new poster for the film is in the gallery. #WhoWillWin, you ask? Why, love will win in the end, my friends. Love will win. [via /Film]
Batman v Superman photo
(But are secretly crushing hard)

It's just two months until Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters, which means we're getting a steady string of TV spots until then. In the most recent two TV spots, we can see our heroes seethe in each other's presence.

Batman and Superman are so into each other.

Check out these new Batman v Superman TV spots below.

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Avatar 2 delayed photo
And no one really cares

Looks like that Avatar sequel James Cameron has been working on for years is getting pushed back yet again. This is not a repeat from the last few years.

Avatar 2 was unofficially slated for a Christmas 2017 release after a previous delay, but as of now there is no new release date planned. According to /Film, Cameron wants to get all three of his planned Avatar sequels finished and release them annually. (I'm estimating a release date of 2039 at this point.)

While Avatar is still the biggest moneymaker of all time, the film's lasting legacy is just a high perch in box office tallies and technical kudos. Culturally it's not Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, and by that I mean you didn't have a generation of children growing up and aspiring to be the heroes in Avatar. I mean, who played Avatar on the playground? Who would want to be that bland lead guy or that tall blue love interest woman? It wasn't a bad movie at all, but people remember the 3D spectacle, not the story or its characters.

On the note of Star Wars, Avatar 2's delay means it won't have to compete against the rescheduled Star Wars Episode VIII.

What do you think about the Avatar 2 delay? Do you even care about Avatar anymore?

[via /Film]

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Warcraft TV spot photo
Generic Fantasy Film: The Movie: The Ad

After seeing the first trailer for Duncan Jones' Warcraft, News Editor Nick Valdez felt that the movie looked a little off. Some shots were great, some not-as-great, most shots looked green screened to heck, and the vibe of the movie seemed a little too been-there done-that. (He's still hopeful about the mainstream appeal of the film, as you can read in his recent feature on the potential of a great videogame movie in 2016.)

I agree with Nick on all of his assessments, and echoed some of his thoughts when writing about a subsequent international Warcraft movie promo.

Well, a new TV spot for Warcraft was released yesterday, which you can watch below.

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Yeah, I don't know, guys.

As much as I enjoyed Jones' other films (Moon, Source Code), Warcraft still looks like Generic Fantasy Film: The Movie. Maybe the final film will be different, but this looks like a bland collection of fantasy tropes and story cliches devoid of personality.

On top of that, 2015 was a fine year of merging practical effects and CG, with some standout VFX work seen in Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Something about Warcraft just looks synthetic and artificial--less like Lord of the Rings and more like The Hobbit, if catch my drift. Since the film is apparently in the can and awaiting release (Warcraft was purportedly good to go for its original December 2015 release), I doubt the visual effects can or will be polished beyond what we're seeing in these ads.

Disagree? Let me have it in the comments.

Warcraft will be in theaters on June 10th.

[via Collider]

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Star Wars 8 pushed back photo
Star Wars may be a Christmas tradition

Star Wars Episode VIII was originally going to be released on May 26, 2017, but now the film has been pushed back seven months. The new release date for Star Wars 8 is December 15, 2017. Rian Johnson is still set to begin production on Star Wars Episode VIII next month as planned.

While there is no official word on the Star Wars Episode VIII delay, there are two reasonable guesses about what caused it.

For one, this may be a strategic move by Disney to release the film in the winter rather than the summer. This ensures that Star Wars won't get lost in the week-to-week blockbuster rollout from May through July, boosting its chances of box office dominance in the process. It also places a full year of time between Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and another Star Wars film--a way of avoiding the Star Wars equivalent of an ice cream headache.

Another reason could be to accommodate some rewrites. Rian Johnson's screenplay for Star Wars 8 apparently introduced a number of new characters to the Star Wars mythos. Given the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the popularity of the new characters introduced in that film, Johnson is retooling his script to shrink the roles of the new characters he wanted to introduce and focus more on Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo, Maz, and company.

If anything, Star Wars might become an end-of-the-year tradition. Sort of like Life Day.

What do you think about Star Wars being pushed back a few months and the rewrites in progress?

[via AV Club, io9]

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Labyrinth reboot photo
Dance reboot, dance

For men and women of a certain age, Labyrinth was their introduction to the late, great David Bowie. The 1986 Jim Henson film starred Jennifer Connelly as a teenager who travels to a fantastic land in order to rescue her kidnapped baby brother. Dance magic ensues.

Given that we're in an age of reboots, rehashes, and remakes, it should come as no surprise that there's a Labyrinth reboot in the works. Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote Guardians of the Galaxy, has been hired to pen the reboot screenplay.

It's unclear how Bowie's role as the goblin king will fit into this reboot, as it may be a sequel or a restart to the franchise. It'll also be difficult to replace Bowie in the role since there's no one quite like him. Perhaps they could get Lady Gaga as a goblin queen given her shifting persona from pop-art popstar to high-class chanteuse (it owes a lot to Bowie). Maybe Bjork would work as well, and ditto the quirkily elfin Grimes.

Obviously no one can fill Bowie's shoes, but who do you think could play the goblin king or the goblin queen in a Labyrinth reboot?

[via THR]

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Review: Ip Man 3

Jan 22 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220266:42751:0[/embed] Ip Man 3 (葉問3)Director: Wilson YipRelease Date: January 22, 2016Rating: NRCountry: China In the three Donnie Yen Ip Man films, the constant concern has been how a person can remain righteous while dividing energies between country, family, and the martial arts. This boils down to the obligations a person has to the future of a culture, to immediate loved ones, and to the self. It's also about punching people in the face repeatedly very fast, sure, but if we're looking at the martial arts as a way of being (i.e., a way), Ip Man's always been about how a person takes a core belief, universalizes these dictums, and then puts this into action. It's explored visually in The Grandmaster with the way every strike disturbs the environment, but watching so many kung-fu movies over the years has made this whole notion of the extension of thought into action into the world more apparent. Maybe what makes Ip Man such a compelling hero is that taking thought into action into the world is what makes all sorts of heroes memorable. There's philosophy behind every punch. Ip Man 3 continues this tradition of duties to country/family/self, and the plot is mostly  hinged to all three. The film opens irreverently with Ip Man meeting a young Bruce Lee, who proceeds to demonstrate his fighting prowess in what can only be described as a martial arts anti-smoking ad. The rest of the plot involves a foreign crime boss trying to shut down a school to claim the land for his own (Mike Tyson), a would-be Wing Chun master in search of fame (Max Zhang aka Jin Zhang), and the health of Ip Man's wife (Lynn Hung). Ip Man, a righteous dude, volunteers to defend the school--Ip Man tropes ensue. The fights in Ip Man 3 may some of the finest in the series in terms of variety and staging. Sammo Hung handled the choreography in the previous two films, but Ip Man 3 instead turns to Yuen Woo-Ping. The fights seem more grounded though just as brutal, and generally a little more old school than bombastic. Yen's talked about how his diet and training changes with each role to better embody the character. Playing Ip Man means cutting carbs and staying as slim as possible, and Yen looks especially thin here. As much as I love Ip Man and kind of liked Ip Man 2, the biggest hurdle to each fight was Ip Man's sense of invincibility. He spends all of the first movie in God Mode, dominating almost every fight he's in, even the final battle. In Ip Man 2, he's still in God Mode for much of the film, which makes that movie's final battle feel out of place; what's more, Ip Man's solution of how to best his overpowered opponent would have been the first thing a skilled martial artist would consider, not the last. There was rarely a sense of danger. Ip Man 3, by contrast, seems to acknowledge that Ip Man is nigh invulnerable despite his age. The danger comes from having to defend other people nearby rather than just defending himself. It's a simple but great idea, and it leads to a harrowing rescue attempt as well as an excellent sequence involving an elevator later in the film. Much has been made of Donnie Yen and Mike Tyson's bout in the film, and it's one of the film's highlights, and it was more exciting than the Wing Chun vs. boxing bout that finished Ip Man 2. And yet the fight reveals Tyson's presence in Ip Man 3 as some hollow stunt casting. There's something great about Tyson cursing people out in snatches of Cantonese, but the entire storyline involving his character is dropped at a certain point. The whole impetus for the action fades away, which makes me wonder if Tyson was only available for a week or so, or if a finger fracture Tyson sustained while filming the fight scene required changes to the script. Even though Tyson's plotline feels unfinished, it's fascinating where the other threads go, and how they reveal the foundation for Ip Man as a character, as if Yen and Yip are tying to make their final definitive statements about who Ip Man was and what he'll represent as a cinematic icon moving forward. Ip Man's a loving husband, for instance, but not always attentive (think about how Peter Parker's love life is ruined by having to be Spider-Man). Here, he tries to focus more on home and what matters to him most, and there are some tender moments between Yen and Hung, as if Yen's trying to channel the acting chops that Anthony Wong and Tony Leung brought to the role, and Hung is trying to find the right note of melancholy glamour that Zhang Ziyi brings to her roles. Some of these scenes between Ip Man and his wife are lensed with a level of attention that might have been inspired by The Grandmaster; more beautiful to look at than anything in the previous Ip Man films, though a few scenes are marred by a semi-chintzy nylon-string Spanish guitar love theme. I began to notice this steady evolution of Ip Man's presence as a political/cultural icon as well in Ip Man 3. The first film was decidedly against the Imperial Japanese forces, which places Ip Man in the home of a character like Chen Zhen from Fist of Fury. The second film skirted this line between anti-colonialism and Chinese nationalism, with the British aristocrats rendered as grotesques of the nobility. Ip Man 3 also has a scoffing, snooty British caricature (he sounds like he should be tying women to railroad tracks while twirling his mustache), but the political stance is decidedly anti-colonial in a universal way. Ip Man even has a monologue in which he rails against oligarchs and plutocrats. If Mike Tyson was cast as a way of garnering attention for Ip Man from western audiences, this populist shift in Ip Man may signal an attempt to position him as a cinematic hero with a strong cultural identity but no borders in terms of an audience's ability to identify with him. If this is Yen's last full-on kung-fu film (there's still that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel to consider), he's ending his career with the movie series that catapulted him into leading man status. I got a sense he was passing the torch to Max Zhang. Zhang's 41 years old, but he makes a strong impression here as a performer and fighter, just as he did in The Grandmaster. (In another strange coincidence, Zhang also starred in SPL 2, the sequel to the 2005 movie (aka Kill Zone) that boosted Donnie Yen's star and signaled a kind of comeback for Hong Kong action films.) Zhang's character is a Wing Chun up-and-comer eyeing Ip Man, sizing him up, wondering if he's better as new blood. This had to be intentional, they had know what they were doing. Ip Man 3 might be my favorite film of the trilogy because of how knowing and assured it is, and because it understands the core of its main character so well. It's also a film that knows where it stands in terms of martial arts film history, and the same goes for Donnie Yen's filmography. Really, there's something rather Ip Man-like about Ip Man 3.
Review: Ip Man 3 photo
An Ip Man movie about Ip Man movies

It's weird to think that the first Ip Man came out in 2008. It seems so much longer than that. Since then, the series has spawned two sequels as well as plenty of other media about the eponymous real-life practitioner of Wing Chun. There's The Legend Is Born: Ip Man with Dennis To (a young-man Ip Man movie), Ip Man: The Final Fight with Anthony Wong (an old-man Ip Man movie), Wong Kar-Wai's sumptuous The Grandmaster starring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, and even an Ip Man TV series.

In just eight years, Ip Man has gone from real-life historical figure to full-blown action movie folk hero. He's become the new Wong Fei-Hung, the legendary martial artist who'd later be portrayed by the likes of Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Gordon Liu, and Sammo Hung. This all paves the way for Bruce Lee's inevitable transformation from on-screen icon to cinematic folk hero. (Lee was a real-life student of Ip Man's; Birth of the Dragon, a new American Bruce Lee biopic starring Philip Ng, is currently in the works. It's only a matter of time.)

Ip Man 3 is presumably the final movie of the Donnie Yen/Wilson Yip series, and it may even be Yen's last kung fu movie since the actor is now 51 years old. It's a fitting send off in a lot of ways, because Ip Man 3 seems to be an Ip Man movie about Ip Man movies.

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Awwwww photo
Greatest movie name since Die Harder

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Parody movies come in all shapes and sizes, but most of us think of something like Scary Movie when we think of them.Those can be funny, but truly great parody comes from creating something original that riffs on tropes, and that is exactly what Keanu looks like. Clearly the film's title cat is a nod of the head to the angst ridden John Wick and his puppy (seriously, f*ck those Russian gangsters), but the entire trailer shows off an hilarious take on the revenge genre.

Plus, it's Key and Peele doing Key and Peele things so I mean they goota put the pussy on the chain wax, right?

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Neighbors 2 Trailer photo

Remember Neighbors? It was the decent Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produced film released in-between juggernauts This is the End and The Interview. Well, if you've forgotten about that movie than Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is for you! In the sequel, a sorority moves in next door and can't stop they're wild partying! 

So Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne's parental figure characters decide to get them out of the neighborhood through wacky shenanigans! Except this time, Zac Efron's character is here to help! Ugh, seriously. This is really just the first film again. They even repeat a gag for keeps. Too bad for the sequel that Chloe Grace-Moretz has nowhere near the appeal Zac Efron had as the jerky college brat. 

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opens May 20th. 

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Suicide Squad photo
So punk, so edgy

The first full trailer for David Ayer's Suicide Squad plays like WB/DC's answer to Guardians of the Galaxy. Still don't like the songs these trailers keep using but it's pretty well edited. The film looks fun, but also kinda looks like a garbage fire. The marketing for the film has been trying way too hard to be the "punk" alternative to the other hero movies out there ("This ain't your average superhero movie!"), and I'm hoping all the style isn't trying to cover up a big pimple. 

I'm hoping the actual film ends up better, and I am looking forward to this. It's well cut enough that the film looks like it's got so much personality that even the standard drywall of a human being, Jai Courtney, even looks like he's having a good time. 

Suicide Squad opens August 5th. 

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