Out with the old X-Men, in with the new. Neither DC nor fully Marvel, the odd-duck X-Men cinematic franchise has been in the process of reinventing itself over the past couple installments by gradually integrating its past and present. I mean that literally — through a whole heap of time-travel tomfoolery, the original X-People we came to know during the original trilogy of films in the early ’00s have been commingled with the new generation of throwback X-Folks as shown in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. The chronology can be a lot to swallow, and it’s about to get even more confusing: we may now have two Rogues.
Johnny Depp needs some public image rehabilitation, and badly. When it came out last year that he had physically abused former spouse Amber Heard, a dark and sickly pallor was cast over the heretofore beloved actor’s profile. It isn’t helping that he hasn’t been in a good movie since 2011 (Rango, though Verbinski’s follow-up The Lone Ranger has its supporters), and hasn’t been in a really profitable one since 2014’s Into the Woods. The guy has to save a little face if he wants to secure his future in this business, and what better way to do that than to play to the only demographic unaware of his unsavory personal life: the youth!
We won’t have confirmation until it premieres in Competition at Cannes next month, but from where the general public is currently standing, it sure looks like Tilda Swinton owns Okja. She was rocking a ferocious bob wig in the earliest press photos, a later still revealed the force of pure magnificence known as Braces Tilda, and now a newly-released promo video reveals that she’ll get a chance to show off her bone-dry comic timing in the latest feature from Bong Joon-ho as well. (Though the braces are conspicuously absent in this new teaser. Whence Braces Tilda?!)
If you ever bellowed those words in the mirror while holding a cardboard tube aloft like a sword shortly after giving yourself a DIY bowl-cut, you were probably a fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. That, or a kid with extremely weird hobbies. Either way, the series of comics, cartoons and collectibles remains a cherished part of ’80s nostalgia, and as we have learned time and again over the past few years, no corner of Generation X’s childhood is safe from the plunderers at the major movie studios.
Remember David Fincher? You know, the guy whose name shows up in the credits for House of Cards? He directed movies once upon a time in 2014, but the genre maestro has been taking it relatively easy since Gone Girl shocked and tantalized audiences a few years ago. As he’s busied himself with TV work (he recently shot the Mind Hunters pilot for filmmaker-poacher Netflix), he’s batted around the occasional film offer without making any hard commitments. There were rumors of a grand adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea floating around for a while there, but those dissipated when Fincher revealed that he was being courted to helm the sequel to zombie spectacle World War Z. One of those two things has now come to pass, and here’s a hint, it’s not the one that takes place underwater.
If I learned anything about Abu Dhabi from watching the entirety of Sex and the City 2 while sitting in a tattoo parlor waiting room (which actually happened and is not a joke), it’s that the United Arab Emirates city is a mecca of wealth. The oil-rich nation has concentrated much of its affluence in its capital, and accordingly, the area has exploded with development in recent years. Skyscrapers have cropped up like so many dandelions, massive tourist resorts now dot the coastline, and high-end boutique shopping caters to such fashionable visitors as Carrie Bradshaw and her pals. And while Abu Dhabi’s latest attraction won’t invite as many Dolce & Gabbana puns as one might like, it will delight comic book fans worldwide.
This past weekend, a seismic shift in box-office history took place and went largely unnoticed. The writing was on the wall for Star Wars’ legacy in the all-time top 10 highest-earning films, as noted on Reddit prior to the start of this past weekend. Box-office behemoth Beauty and the Beast continued to generate healthy grosses in its fifth weekend of release, ending the weekend with a princely (or should I say, princessly!) sum of $471.1 million. This gave the film a slight edge of the next-most-lucrative film on the list, which just so happened to be George Lucas’ original space opus. Star Wars and its lifetime gross of $461 million have now slid down to the #11 spot.
For a franchise about slightly sketchy space crooks and intergalactic military types, the Star Wars films are almost conspicuously free of profanity. It makes sense from a business perspective — keeping the series PG-13 ensures that it’ll be open to a wider array of viewers — and yet the absence of cussing feels especially noticeable in a movie starring the famously coarse-tongued Carrie Fisher. The closest the series came to a four-letter word was Han Solo getting dissed as a “scruffy nerf-herder,” but a recently discovered cache of lost footage from the original 1977 Star Wars is going to change all that in short order.
Much online e-ink has been e-spilled over the question of which actor will take up the mantle of international superspy James Bond for the 25th installment of the perennial franchise. Will incumbent star Daniel Craig return for another go-round as 007, or will he be replaced by the likes of new challengers Tom Hiddleston, Dan Stevens, Emily Blunt, or Idris Elba? Who knows (not us), but as the mission to secure a star has been playing out, another big change-up has unfolded largely in the background.
Shooting a movie’s not like performing a play. The theatrical process is primal, all rooted in emotion and immersion within the fictional moment. Production on a feature film requires far more on a technical level, to the point where actors will be ordered to pick up a spoon in the exact same way ten times, just to be safe. (David Fincher famously went through one hundred takes to nail the opening breakup in his magnum opus The Social Network.) For the typical actor, most of filmmaking is waiting around for stuff to happen — but that’s far less tiresome when you get to hang out with Carrie Fisher between calls of “ACTION!”
Alien Vs. Predator. Freddy Vs. Jason. Kramer Vs. Kramer. Plessy Vs. Ferguson. Soon, a new rivalry shall join the ranks of the great cinematic grudge matches. You saw Bradley Cooper plumb new depths of moral compromise with American Sniper in 2014. Now, he’ll go up against his greatest nemesis yet: it’s American Sniper Vs. American Assassin — Battle of America.
While the post-credits scene was once a surprise specially afforded to those superfans with the dedication to sit through the final frames of a film, it’s now become par for the course, a de facto advertisement for whatever a franchise might have up its sleeve next. Marvel Studios has turned this into standard operating procedure, to the point where viewers expect nothing less than another tasty morsel of footage, the cinematic equivalent of the delicious fries waiting for you at the bottom of your McDonald’s bag. How to continue taking audiences off-guard, then? Marvel could do no post-credit scene at all, that’d certainly throw people for a loop. Or... they could do five.
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