#TomCruise is Still Trying to Get That Door Open in 2nd Trailer for MI:5 – Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible, Rogue Nation, movie, poster, Tom Cruise

The Avengers may have kicked off the summer tent-pole season, but for my money, it won’t be official until I hear the opening strains of Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible” theme.

Call me crazy, but I still get excited whenever I hear the “dun dun dun dun DUN dun”. I still look forward to whatever shenanigans that Ethan Hunt and company are likely to get up to in the latest installment of the Mission Impossible film franchise. Despite how looney tunes Tom Cruise is, may be, or you perceive him to be, he continues to provide a pretty reliable return on the investment of  whatever you paid for your ticket. JMHO, but I think he’s crazy like a fox. He’s still one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, whatever we think of him here at home. And I don’t think the fact that he puts 110% into his performances (or at least 110% of what he has left after the Thetans have taken their cut) can be called into question. Those big global bucks ensure that, even at 52,  Paramount is still willing to let Cruise run amok by doing his own stunts, (which seem to get more outrageous the older he gets and despite the fact that he was injured six times on this film) and the special effects wizards keep getting to invent at least semi-plausible weapons and gadgets. (Can you imagine if Ethan Hunt were to team up with James Bond?)

The IMF team once again includes Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames. The new addition is Rebecca Ferguson (“The White Queen”) plays the film’s Ilsa Faust (a better name for a femme fatale has not been cooked up since, well, since Natasha Fatale), stepping into the shoes vacated by Paula Patton as Ethan’s arm candy. Faust, judging from the trailer, would seem to have some skills as well.

Natasha Fatale

Other newcomers include Simon McBurney, the always excellent and usually menacing Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin as the head of the CIA who apparently wants the heads of the IMF on a plate.

Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

The Syndicate is the name of the organization that regularly provided the baddies for the original “Mission: Impossible” tv show. (What SPECTRE is to Bond and T.H.R.U.S.H.  is to the Man From U.N.C.L.E. – both of which will be revisited this year. That’s why Paramount moved the release date up from Christmas. MI5 gets to be first. Here’s a bit of trivia: Cruise was cast as Napoleon Solo, but dropped out to focus on MI5.) The film starts where Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (hard to believe that was 3 1/2 years ago) ends, with Ethan prepping his team to investigate the Syndicate.  Anyway, watch this:

“This may be our last mission. Let’s make it count.”  As if. As long as they keep making money, Tom Cruise will keep making Mission Impossible movies. I’m sure someone can figure out how to turn a walker into a weapon.  Bring it.

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (who has become Cruise’s go-to collaborator of late), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opens in the UK on 30th July and in the US on July 31.

Watch: #ChanningTatum and The Boys are Back to the Grind in #MagicMikeXXL Trailer

Magic Mike XXL Poster

The success of 2012’s Magic Mike (yes, it really has been three years) virtually guaranteed that a sequel would be made, whether anyone wanted it or not. I’m thinking that the same audiences that made the first one such a surprise hit, are gonna want to get in on this action as well.
What’s not to like? Most of the same ingredients have been reassembled, namely Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash, plus a few tweaks have been made that at first blush would appear to be for the better. One, no Alex Pettyfer. Thank you, sweet baby jeebus. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I’m pretty sure his abs were chiseled from wood – which would explain his acting. Ditto Cody Horn.
I’ll miss Matthew McConaughey, but he’s now an Academy Award winner. The price to get him to take off his shirt has probably quadrupled since then. Steven Soderbergh isn’t directing, but his presence will still be felt. He’s on board as executive producer, overseeing his long-time assistant director and producing-partner, Greg Jacobs at the helm.
The additions should be fun. In the trailer below we get a glimpse of Elizabeth Banks, Andie Macdowell and Jada Pinkett Smith, who seems to be doing a riff on her “Gotham” character, Fish Mooney (but I could be wrong). Who we don’t see, at least I didn’t see them (I might have to watch it a few more times *cough*) are terpsichorean newcomers Donald Glover and Michael Strahan.
Feast yer peepers on this:

While it would be so easy to dismiss Magic Mike XXL as just more voyeuristic, stereotypical piffle, that would be missing the point. It is voyeuristic and somewhat stereotypical, but the film knows it. No one is taking themselves too seriously here. Everyone is in on the joke. Let’s face it, these boys need an outlet to show off the fruits of all of that hard work and long hours put in at the gym. Tatum-tot is never going to be known as a great thespian. He knows where his strengths lie. The original Magic Mike was conceived by Tatum and written by his producting-partner, Reid Carolin and it was based on his own real experiences. This time around he and Carolin co-wrote the script as well as produced. And Joe Manganiello can only cash in on his guns and pecs for so long, before the Werewolf thing is a distant memory and he gets too long in the tooth. Where else, and by whom, are these guys going to get the unrestrained adoration they crave on so grand a scale as a wide release motion picture shown on the big screen with audiences cloaked in the anonymity of a darkened theater, free to drool at their leisure without worrying about going home covered in body glitter, and the only dollar bills they’ve parted with paid for a ticket and popcorn?

And given that 95% of what Hollywood produces is still aimed at 18-25 year old straight man-boys, I think the rest of us have earned this.

The question now will be, where do they go from here?  There is only one way to up this ante. If Magic Mike XXL is the hit I predict it will be, the 3rd installment will be in 3D…in IMAX.

Magic Mike XXL, which also stars Amber Heard, Stephen “Twitch” Boss, and Gabriel Iglesias, starts its strut across the globe in the US on July 1 and the UK on 3rd July.

Watch: Millennium Gives Us Our 1st Look at Antonio Banderas In Automata

Automata, movie, poster, Antonio Banderas, Dylan McDermott

poster for Automata with Antonio Banderas

The moviegoing public has flocked to films about automatons, machines, automatons and robots since the movies began. One of the world’s first “blockbusters” or event movies, was Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927, a film so beloved to this day that it has been updated, restored, and rereleased countless times.

One of the givens in 90% of these films is that we get to watch these machines turn on their makers, providing us with countless fables about the evils of progress and allegories for human nature. The latest such film stars Antonio Banderas in Automata, from Spanish director Gabe Ibañez. According to Ibañez, his film is about “this moment where artificial intelligence arrives at the same place as human intelligence.”

Banderas plays Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent or accident investigator 50 years in the future. Earth’s ecology is on the point of collapse. Vaucan, working for the ROC Robotics Corporation, begins another routine investigation into the “illicit manipulation of a robot”, but this time he gets to know the ‘bots a little better than he bargained for, and even starts seeing their side of things, as the machines develop sentient intelligence and begin to rebel. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

The actor also produced the film. During a recent Reddit AMA conversation he described it as “… a movie about … [a] scientific concept called singularity, which is the time in which machines actually overcome the human mind. So it’s a very reflective philosophical science fiction, going back to the science fiction I love, like Isaac Asimov. That’s the type of movie we tried to do.”

Take a look at this:

I like it. It doesn’t appear nearly as cold and bloodless as the landscape or even the synopsis would suggest. Or maybe it’s just the pulse-pounding score they put under this trailer. But c’mon, how cool was that gunslinger robot throwing off his cape a la Clint Eastwood and his serape? In any case, we see lots of different robots in varying degrees of technological advancement, which may hint at some sort of class structure and sociological hierarchy among the machines. A ‘bot “Animal Farm” perhaps.

In addition to Banderas, Automata stars Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster (in an Olympus Has Fallen reunion – although they didn’t share any scenes in that film), Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Tim McInnerney, Andrew Tiernan, and yes, that was Javier Bardem’s voice. Automata has been languishing on the shelf for a while, which explains the presence of the ex-Mrs. Banderas, Melanie Griffith. Automata bows at the San Sebastian Film Festival next month then opens in the US on October 10, released by, what seems appropriately enough, Millennium.

Tom Hardy’s World is Fire and Blood Where Only the Mad Survive

Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, George Miller, poster, movie

1st poster for Mad Max: Fury Road

Ah Comic Con. That Disneyland/Mecca/Nirvana for pop culture junkies of all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds, has, thanks to  Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow, yielded more treasure. Right on the heels of this morning’s four new character posters (and last week’s first official poster – seen above), today, at long last, we have our first look at some actual footage from George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy taking over from Mel Gibson (complete with Aussie accent, it would seem). It’s not a full-blown trailer, but it is a teaser to be sure.

Fury Road is the fourth film in the franchise, a sequel/reboot hybrid of Miller’s own films, the post-apocalyptic sci-fi classics, The Road Warrior and Mad Max. The movie also stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz, Riley Keough, Hugh Keays-Byrne, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, most of whom can be at least glimpsed in the teaser.

Peep this:

For all of the delays, for reasons ranging from financing, to scheduling to bad weather, (including having to find a new location when said weather turned the Australian outback green and lush) and reshoots, this an impressive first look. Hey naysayers, this might actually be GOOD!

In fact, it would appear that 1. This thing is going to kick all kinds of ass and 2. Hardy is going to have no trouble winning over the skeptical legions of die-hard Mad Max fans. If they won’t exactly forget Mel Gibson, they will at least be able to accept Hardy as Max.

Mad Max: Fury Road is set to be released on May 15, 2015, a date which will, no doubt be etched into your memory over the course of the next ten months.

So? Whaddya think? Are you excited or what?


Daniel Radcliffe Will Make You Ask, “Harry Who?”

Horns, poster, movie, Daniel Radcliffe

Poster for Horns with Daniel Radcliffe

One viewing of the first trailer for Horns, and it is clear ole’ DanRad, who is still only twenty five years old, by the way, has a very bright post-Potter future ahead of him.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the world of Harry Potter, nor any of its other inhabitants, since I’m one of the few people on the planet who has neither read the books nor seen the films. (Yeah, yeah…they’re on my list.) That said, I do not reside under a rock. I’m well aware of Daniel Radcliffe’s rabid fanbase and how desperately they want him to succeed.

To that end, Horns, which is based on the novel of the same name by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), is a hotly anticipated commodity, especially since it premiered at TIFF last year. Now, thanks to the film’s promotional appearance at Comic Con,  there is finally a full length trailer. I may be wrong, but this might be the flick that finally allows Radcliffe to step out of Harry’s shadow for good. He’s been steadily taking on roles with more and more edge and banking his indie cred the past few years. He’s even proven he can topline a film that doesn’t have the Potter name attached, when he starred in British chiller The Woman in Black (which earned enough to demand a sequel).

In Horns, Radcliffe plays a man trying to unravel the mystery behind what happened to his girlfriend, as well has why the hell he’s suddenly beginning to sprout…well, horns.

The story follows a 26-year-old man (Daniel Radcliffe) who wakes up after a nasty hangover to find his girlfriend (Juno Temple) has been raped and murdered and he’s the lead suspect. Then he discovers horns growing out of his head that grant him the power to make people confess their sins, which comes in handy as he searches for his girlfriend’s killer and prepares for revenge.

Take a look at the full-length trailer at MTV (there’s also a teaser below):
Is it me or does this seem to have a wickedly twisted sense of humor ? And while I can (grudgingly) see Shia LaBeouf in the role (he had it first then dropped out – who knows why), I think Radcliffe’s gonna kill this (with a pretty good American accent, too). I’m in! I may skip the multiplex (because let’s be honest, the honest will be comprised of Harry-heads and Potter-ettes, at least on the first weekend), but I’ll catch it on OnDemand (Radius-TWC is distributing, guaranteeing a multi-platform release).

Directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D– that must be where the sense of humor comes from) with a script by Keith Bunin (“In Treatment”), Horns also stars Max Minghella, Heather Graham, James Remar, Joe Anderson, Kelli Garner, and Kathleen Quinlan, and will be released, appropriately enough, on October 31 in the US and the UK.


A Few Words on the Meaning of Play or Pay & Then Some More Olympus Has Fallen Goodies!

When an actor accepts a role and signs on the dotted line of the contract , he or she takes a few things on faith, not the least of which is that he will be paid the agreed upon fee for his services. In exchange, the actor agrees to be physically available during the time period set forth in the contract (which will probably include the contingency of reshoots as well as the promotion of the finished product), to the exclusion of all other offers.

Now, since we all know that “shit happens”, and sometimes the best laid plans of mice, men and producers, go awry,entertainment lawyers have devised something called “a guarantee”.In filmmakers terms, a guarantee refers to a clause in an actor’s (or director’s) contract that guarantees him or her compensation if, through no fault of their own, the individual is released from the contract prior to the completion of their services. This is what is known in “the biz” as “play-or-pay”.

Why are we talking about this?Well, for those of us who follow such things, it’s been in the news recently as regards one of our favorites, Gerard Butler, who is suing the producers of the now-defunct Motor City, which as we know, shut down production late last summer just weeks before cameras were set to roll. Butler is claiming to have had a “play or pay” contract and he wants his money.

Of course the other side is claiming that he had no such contract and that all they had was what amounted to a verbal agreement and they owe him nothing. Seriously, regardless of what anyone thinks of Butler’s acting abilities (or even his ability to choose a quality project), does anyone actually believe he’d agree to do a movie on the basis of a handshake? Would anyone?

While some studios are reluctant to agree to guarantees, they accept them as part of the deal for signing major talent. They also have the advantage of enabling a studio to simply remove a player under such a contract with few legal complications – usually the lesser of two evils between legal and financial). Motor City wasn’t a major studio production, however.

Butler’s camp argues that it was on the basis of his name and bankability (and again folks, remember what I’ve said in the past, regardless of what you perceived to be the quality, Butler’s films generally make money) financing was secured for the flick. This point is difficult to argue since there is ample evidence of him working hard for the money down in the south of France during last year’s Cannes Film Festival.In addition to his duties promoting the sale of Olympus Has Fallen (which he went on to film shortly thereafter), he was doing the same forMotor City, which was to have been his second project of 2012.

Based on his commitment to Motor City, Butler alleges that he had the shooting schedule for OHF modified to accommodate that film.He also did not pursue, and indeed turned down, other projects.Those of you who may have been wondering why he’s been on an extended vacation for the last six months, now know why. Motor City was to have filmed, say late September to late November.Thunder Run, to be directed by Simon West and to costar Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey, which was changed from motion-capture, all CGI to live-action, was also pushed back (so that McConaughey could eat a sandwich after whittling himself away to nearly nothing for the filming of Dallas Buyers Club. Skeletons don’t make for very convincing tank commanders). Both of these things left Butler with a huge gap in his schedule.So the carnival rolled on.

Lending credence to Butler’s claims is the fact that he is not the only one unhappy with the producers of Motor City. Members of the various unions, who don’t have the luxury of “pay or play” contracts but who were relying on the weeks or months of employment, were told to pack up and go home. Many of them had turned down other work as well.Then there are the various suppliers of various services that had already been rendered to the location set when the plug was pulled, that have yet to be paid.

The producers can say anything they please (short of libel) with reference to the “frivolousness” of the lawsuit and the ridiculousness of Gerard Butler’s claims. that does not mean it is or they are.That’s for a judge to decide.My money’s on Butler. Whatever else you think he is, he’s not stupid.

Okay after all of that, let’s get back to Olympus Has Fallen.For whatever reasons, whether fairly or unfairly, both of Butler’s 2012 releases, Chasing Mavericks and Playing for Keeps, met with less than enthusiasm from critics and indifference from most of the ticket buying public (although not only did both do much better in foreign markets than domestic, but I do think both will do very well on dvd and VoD ).

As I’ve said before, perception is everything. So, despite the fact that the reasons for his inactivity were technically beyond his control, combined with the perceived failure of his last two films, the need for Olympus Has Fallen to hit and hit big, is even greater.

The good news is that, in my humble opinion, this flick just might do the trick. In Olympus Has Fallen, you’ve got a director not only capable of directing action but he’s also capable of directing actors.Antoine Fuqua directed Denzel Washington to a Best Actor Oscar in Training Day, after all. While I won’t be so bold as to predict any such thing will happen here, he has worked with some really fine actors including Clive Owen, Keira Knightely, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Stellan Skarsgaard, just to name a few.

Fuqua has assembled a truly talented cast this time around, including Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo, nominees Angela Basset and Robert Forster, Independent Spirit Award winners Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd as well as Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott.

The screenwriters for Olympus Has Fallen may be first timers, but the script written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt was so hot that it went into production very quickly and with virtually no rewrites. Well, until the producers got a hold of it. Still, practically unheard of, especially for first-timers.

The most promising news, in my humble opinion, is that the usually cynical coterie of movie bloggers and other web-based cinephiles, despite whatever reservations they may have about Butler of late, seem to be willing to give this one a chance. While some may snicker at the “Die-Hard in the White House” label, the majority seem to be saying “Hell yes!” to the full-on action. A lot of those that have been calling for Butler to abandon the rom-coms and return to his perceived (there’s that word again) macho roots are in that number. I even read a tweet from one the other day that said OHF should have been Die Hard 5 over what we were given instead (A Good Day to Die Harder).

We have the first featurette to share with you in which Butler and Freeman discuss the film. If the rest of the clips, featurettes and tv spots that are sure to follow in the next six weeks are met with the same generosity, I predict opening weekend for Olympus Has Fallen will be huge. (Okay at least better than average…Or pretty good…I don’t want to jinx anything!)

images courtesy of ComingSoon and Film District – video courtesy of Yahoo