Most people who saw 2012’s Dredd, a dark reboot of the classic British comic book anti-hero Judge Dredd, dug it. Almost 20 years after Sylvester Stallone made a thoroughly campy mess of the property in Judge Dredd, director Pete Travis, screenwriter Alex Garland and star Karl Urban produced a far more faithful version of Dredd with a bleak tone, gritty action, and a hero who never takes off his signature helmet.
Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas won just one Oscar (for supporting actor Joe Pesci) at the 1991 Academy Awards. (The year’s Best Picture winner was Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves.) But the film seems to grow more popular and critically acclaimed every year, to the point where it’s now considered one of Scorsese’s masterpieces, one of the best movies of the 1990s, and perhaps the best gangster film ever made without the word “godfather” in the title. Astonishingly (at least it feels astonishing to an old man like me), it’s been 25 years since Goodfellas made its debut in theaters, an anniversary Scorsese and his cast and crew will celebrate next month with a 25th anniversary screening and reunion at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.
When I first wrote about the true-crime documentary series The Jinx a couple of weeks ago, I was the only person I knew who was watching it. A few weeks later, it’s all anyone is talking about. It’s been one of the top trending topics on Twitter for three days straight, and my personal feed is clogged with debates about the case and the ethics of the filmmakers’ behavior. As I left my hotel in Austin yesterday morning, pundits were discussing the show on CNN; as I wrote most of this piece at the Austin airport, two men at the table next to me in the food court were talking about it as well. I spent a month recommending the show to people who looked at me like I was crazy (“The Jinx? Like the kid’s game?”). The show went from total obscurity to inescapable pop-cultural phenomenon in a matter of hours.
Furious 7 almost certainly won’t be the last Fast & Furious movie. But at times it feels like a series finale. There are numerous callbacks and homages to the franchise’s entire 15-year history. The setpieces are bigger and crazier than ever; it’s hard to imagine anyone topping them. And before the chases really get rolling, the mood is often downright mournful. Two different scenes are set in graveyards, and characters talk about taking “one last ride” together.
The news out of Disney’s shareholder meeting keeps on coming. This one isn’t much of a surprise: Disney is making Frozen 2. In a related story, the sky is blue and water is wet (until a princess with freezing powers comes along and turns it into ice).
For months it’s been rumored, now it’s confirmed: Rian Johnson, the writer and director of Brick and Looper is officially the writer and director of Star Wars: Episode VIII. Disney CEO Robert Iger also revealed to company shareholders today that Episode VIII has its official release date: May 26, 2017 — 40 years and a single day after the release of the very first Star Wars back in 1977.
Robert Downey Jr., presenting a bionic Iron Man arm to an exceedingly well-dressed 7-year-old fan named Alex, who was born with a partially developed right arm. The arm wasn’t built by Tony Stark, but rather by a college student named Albert Manero who makes low-cost 3D-printed bionic limbs for children. But Downey received the honor and pleasure of presenting him with his new arm, and comparing it to one of his own Iron Man suits.
The name “Disney” brings to mind images of fair princesses, charming princes, magical fairy tales, and simple happily ever afters. In recent years, though, Disney has begun rethinking their classic properties, and releasing more thematically complex versions of their famous films. Sleeping Beauty became Maleficent, which turned a wicked witch into a sympathetic anti-hero; a whole mess of fairy tales turned into Into the Woods, where happily ever after preceded a whole bunch of death and tragedy. The ranks of Disney Princesses grew to include women like Merida, the bow-slinging heroine of Brave, and Anna and Else from Frozen, who rescued each other from an prince, rather than the other way around. Every value and concept that Disney had established and reinforced through decades of repetition was seemingly up for reconsideration and revision.
With their new Cinderella just days away, Disney is continuing its streak of turning its animated classics into live-action features with the news, via the Wall Street Journal, that Dumbo is ready to make the transition from animated elephant to ... well, still-animated elephant surrounded by live-action actors. If that idea doesn’t get your ears flapping, maybe this will: the Journal says Tim Burton will be the man who’ll direct the new Dumbo.
It’s been a while since we had a really good disaster movie. Roland Emmerich was the last guy to really push the genre forward, but after freezing and then destroying the entire planet (in The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, respectively) there’s not really a lot of ground left to cover (and demolish). Next summer’s San Andreas will attempt to revive the disaster movie by juicing up an old favorite: the earthquake. This version, directed by Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’s Brad Peyton, features a tremor so huge it encompasses all of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It’s so big, Paul Giamatti gravely intones, it can even be felt on the East Coast. That’s a big quake.
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