To narrate a nature documentary requires a certain softness of touch. The key is to wrap the audience up in your smooth tones like an oversize cashmere blanket without allowing it to be so soothing you lull them to sleep. Morgan Freeman mastered the form in his era-defining narration on March of the Penguins, hitting each syllable with the gentle force of a butterfly’s beating wings. It’s an art, and who better to undertake this intricate dance of restraint and delicacy than that most velvety-voiced bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger?
No bubble can last forever — it must eventually pop, as is the nature of bubbles. Marvel has built a vast media empire on the strength of such stars as Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Hemsworth, but no actor would be content with playing and re-playing the same role forever. All good (and obscenely lucrative) things must come to an end, and Evans has begun the long and painful process of consciously uncoupling from Captain America’s star-spangled shield and cowl. But a new quote from the actor suggests that he may not be the first big name to make a departure from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Kyle Davies, the President of Domestic Distribution for Paramount Pictures, is not having a great week. The early eruption of a backlash to his studio’s newest release (the generously-budgeted Ghost in the Shell remake) and its whitewashed casting was cause for concern. But up until recently, he could assuage his shareholders’ worries by clinging to the notion that hackle-raising on the Internet would not have any tangible effects on the box-office receipts. That changed after this past weekend, when the Scarlett Johansson vehicle mustered a piteous $19 million in wide release. Left to answer for the film’s commercial failure, Davies has placed the blame on the controversy over tapping confirmed white woman Johansson to portray an Asian role, to which the whole of the Internet will now respond with a hearty “DA-DOY.”
After the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga debuted to a critical shellacking, many believed the film would be a franchise-killer for the swashbruckling adventure series. (“Swashbruckling” is an industry term for Jerry Bruckheimer-produced films that include swordplay.) But because On Stranger Tides also raked in a cool billion dollars worldwide, yet another sequel was inevitable. Between the dire notices for the most recent film, the six-year gap between entries, Johnny Depp’s declining public profile, and the motivator of a financial imperative, fans braced to greet No. 5, Dead Men Tell No Tales, as more studio-mandated pap. What this article presupposes is... it might not be?
Five days ago, I denounced the banal evils of the recent trend of running trailers in promotion of trailers when covering the latest buzz for the upcoming Justice League movie. It would appear that the marketing executives at 20th Century Fox have not been reading my daily news writing (I know, I’m as shocked as you are), because they’ve returned today with an 18-second amuse-bouche for tomorrow’s brand new trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes. Give it a look above, it’ll only take a moment. Or, to be precise, 18 moments.
Pixar’s 2016 was something of a mixed bag, having landed a true-blue blockbuster with Finding Dory but then missing out on the coveted Oscar nomination. They’ll get back in the saddle in 2017 with Coco, a vibrant fantasy about the power of music, family, and remembrance of those lost to us. In the film, a lonely young boy finds a link to the past through an enchanted stringed instrument and sets off on an incredible journey with an animal companion, encountering all manner of dreamlike wonders (along with a monster or two) on the way. It bears mentioning at this point that this film is, in fact, not Kubo and the Two Strings.
What’s more exciting than a bold, accomplished feature debut from a director with vision and something to say? The non-rhetorical answer to that rhetorical question: the movie they make afterward. In 2014, Jennifer Kent wowed audiences with her fully-formed horror parable The Babadook, mining the frustrations of single motherhood for chills and creating a memorable monster along the way. (Whether the Babadook is indeed homosexual remains a topic of heated debate in some extremely specific online communities, however.) Now, her next challenge will be proving that her initial success wasn’t a fluke. And today brings the news that she’ll re-prove her filmmaking bona fides with a sophomore project titled The Nightingale.
Keeping the series of films featuring or tangentially related to the X-Men straight has become a task on par with reading Bleak House. The original three films from the 2000s were their own thing, at first independent of the rebooted X-Men: First Class set in the past. But they were then woven into the “present” with Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, which happen to be set in both timelines and physical dimensions. All this operates separately from Logan and Wolverine’s other solo films, and while Deadpool technically is set in the main universe, it can’t really bring in any of the major pre-existing characters due to intellectual property complications, so it might as well be an isolated entity as well. It’s a lot to keep track of, to put it mildly.
With the Oscars over and done with, awards season has officially reached its merciful end here in the States. Now, to rest for another three and a half weeks before feverish predictions for next year’s Academy Awards contenders can begin. But over in Germany, the festivities have not yet concluded — last week, the prestigious Goldene Kamera awards recognized the finest talents in film and television, from within the Deutschland and beyond. The ceremony was well-stocked with international celebrities, including Jane Fonda, Nicole Kidman, and a very special appearance from Ryan Gosling.
Peter Jackson’s been laying low as he’s prepared for his grand return to the director’s chair. Three years have passed since his final dalliance with the Hobbit series of films, and he’s been slowly building steam over the past few months for his next epic undertaking, Mortal Engines, an adaptation of the young adult novel series from Philip Reeve. It sounds like a typically ambitious project for Jackson, recreating the books’ colossal engine-powered mobile cities, but he’s raring and ready to go. And today brings him one step closer to an actual start of production as he ramps up his casting with three new additions — a “hey, that guy!” character actor, a musical sensation, and an unknown.
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