Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • Nobody Cookies Anybody in 'Dawn of The Planet of the Apes' Trailer, But It Still Looks Awesome
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 19, 2014
      Things have not gone well for humanity since James Franco decided to help a chimpanzee get better at puzzles. In the new trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, hitting theaters July 11 — three years after the surprising success of Rupert Wyatt's Rise (which, logistically, really seems like it should follow "Dawn") of the Planet of the Apes — we see that mankind has dwindled to to the likes of Jason Clarke (ape-friendly), Gary Oldman (anti-ape), a couple of dunderheaded drunks who still don't seem to have understand that apes are smart now, and a campfire resident who prophecizes about how apes have the upper hand — opposable thumbs and all — in that they don't need fancy things like electricity or heat. 20th Century Fox But apes don't want war, so insists Caesar, Andy Serkis' top banana chimp who led the '11 picture and incited a revolution with the simple act of cookieing Rocket (and oh what a mistake that seems to have been... like Franco-father, like monkey-son). Caesar wants to live in harmony with the few remaining humans, but his fur-laden brethren don't seem to be on the same page. Meanwhile, we can only assume that somewhere in the mix, a kindly, well-educated bonobo is developing a serum to boost the intellectual capacity of the horses that the apes have been using as transport, thus leading to a follow-up series in which horse trounces primate-kind. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Even John Landis' Son Won't Touch 'Ghostbusters 3'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 18, 2014
    Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection We're of the mentality that you should never write off a project on concept alone. Who'd have thought that some of this past Oscar season's best material would include a guy falling in love with his smartphone, Will Forte dragging an old man around the American Midwest, or a woman floating aimlessly around in space? So we're really trying to find the hope in your plans for Ghostbusters 3, Dan Aykroyd, but it's not a good sign when even Max Landis, the son of your longtime pal and frequent collaborator John Landis, is turning down the opportunity to direct. Rumors began circulating that li'l Max, writer of Chronicle and Daniel Radcliffe's upcoming Frankenstein picture, was attached to helm Aykroyd's widely lamented attempt at a third go. But the heir to the Landis throne denied these reports on Twitter (via Cinemablend), citing an already stocked foreseeable future: "Zero truth to the Ghostbusters report," he said on Tuesday. "Frankenstein, Me Him Her, American Ultra and Mr. Right come out next year. Working on things at Uni and Sony, and indies. GB3, sadly, no." This must be a letdown for Akyroyd, who must have really been banking on the "But your pa and I did Blues Brothers together! We made history!" speech to take weight. But it's not like the man doesn't have plenty of other pals with up-and-coming offspring to take the reins on this new project. Jason Reitman's got to be looking for a way to make up for Labor Day, right? Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • The Picture of Dornan's Grey: First Look at '50 Shades of Grey' Star
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 18, 2014
    Universal Studios There's nothing sexier than a hip young gent with a sweet ride, leather duds, a clean shave, and a silent glower that says, "I buy American." At least that's what the promotional team behind Fifty Shades of Grey seems to think... perhaps misunderstanding the title as '50s Shades of Grey, as they've stuck star Jamie Dornan in a still that's family friendly even by the standards of my grandmother who still insists that I shouldn't be listening to that awful Bill Haley. The pic keeps in step with the confirmation that director Sam Taylor-Johnson's Fifty Shades will be R-rated, as opposed to the NC-17 that the book's material would more naturally call for, leaving us to expect as tame and tepid a movie about sadomasochism can conceivably be. If you have your doubts, take another look at the photo. It doesn't even seem like Dornan's Christian Grey is driving, rather sitting in park until the devil-may-care youths breaching the speed limit are safely beyond the horizon. Lousy kids. Dornan and Dakota Johnson will take to the big screen with their mutual first step to film stardom next Valentine's Day, a date appropriately void of organic passion. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Mark Ruffalo Says Marvel Might Do Another Hulk Movie — Let's At Least Hear Him Out!
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2014
    Walt Disney Studios via Everett Collection Okay, Ruffalo. Sell it. Tell us why, with so many properties to choose from and all the money required to breathe life into its leviathan of promising characters, Marvel is "entertaining the idea" of another standalone movie for the Hulk. After all, the first two attempts at a Bruce Banner-centric picture resulted in sour reviews and lackluster box office intake. Ang Lee's maudlin interpretation of the character, as portrayed by Eric Bana in 2003, nearly sapped us of our Spider-Man highs, while Louis Leterrier's lunking, charmless 2008 version left us mourning the days when an Edward Norton headline meant a sure thing (there might not have ever been days like that, but it sure seems like there were at some point). But two years past the Hulk's gallant return to Bixbian form in The Avengers, and you're coming to DigitalSpy with the news that Marvel is considering another go at the rage-filled green giant for a spin-off feature? All right, we'll hear you out: "There's still nothing definitive, not even a skeletal version of what it would be. I look forward to going down that road, if we could crack that nut." Clearly, you and Marvel alike share our skepticism, which is, in its own way, comforting. As lovers of Banner in his comic book, television series, and Ruffaloan form (and that last bit includes your appearance in the Iron Man 3 stinger, for which you seem to share an affinity: "If they did Iron Man 4 and Banner’s in that, that’d be very cool."), we'd love nothing more than the Hulk granted his cinematic due. But such a complicated character takes patience and plotting... more so than Leterrier hocked at the screen in '08, but not quite as much as Lee wove so dreadfully in '03. A happy medium. Something that the Phase 2-and-on psychology might be able to bring to life.  Seems like you've convinced us, Ruffalo. Maybe there is some hidden gold left to mine for a Hulk movie. Just... be careful this time, okay? Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • There Are So Many Helicopters in 'The Expendables 3' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2014
    Lionsgate The new trailer for The Expendables 3 shows off an unsurprising abundance of explosions, gunfire, and sexagenarians saying things like "Lock and load." A bit more surprising in its ubiquity, however, is the action hero's old friend the helicopter. Yes, any film bording the lethal dose of adrenaline is bound to feature a chopper or two, but the two-and-a-half minute preview for Sylvester Stallone's upcoming threequel shows off an irrational number whirlybirds. And yeah, those are the only slang words for "helicopter" I know, so we're going to have to get creative now.   We catch glimpse the first of many propellerinos swooping down over an enemy train to rescue the apparently nonexpendable Wesley Snipes from incarceration. After rendering the entire locomotive to ruins (hopefully those were Nazis or something and not, you know, just military men doing their job apprehending criminals), we move onto a slew of other hummingbots prime for adventure: one drops off a maniacal Mel Gibson. One launches explosive at the side of a dock. One hovers over the speeding car of Natalie Burn. And one hovers just out of reach of what we can only assume is a ketamine-engendered Sylvester Stallone. And that's not even counting the jets (of both the plane and Li variety) sprinkled throughout the trailer. If the trailer offers up this many circle-spin-bumble-droids (too creative?), we can only imagine what the 103-minute runtime has in store. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • The 'Father of the Bride 3' Gay Marriage Plot Sounds Totally Outdated
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 16, 2014
    Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection Twenty-one years ago, we watched a homophobic Denzel Washington warm up to his fellow lawyer and client Tom Hanks, a gay man afflicted with AIDS, over the course of a criminal case that proved that America was no easy place for a homosexual gentleman to make a living or lead his life. And at the end of this story called Philadelphia, that no-longer-homophobic Denzel Washington was a hero. The sort of man who harbored "completely sympathetic" sentiments at the start, but graduated to sentiments altogether admirable. That's the sort of world we lived in back in 1993. But these 21 years later, we live in the sort of world that would take a homophobic Denzel Washington and cast him into villainy, redemptive arc or not. Which is why the plot of Disney's Father of the Bride 3, of all things, sounds about a decade or so too late. The threequel to Steve Martin's family comedies Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995) will have the snow-capped comedic dynamo lamenting the realization that his son Matt (played in the first two films by young Kieran Culkin, now age 29) is gay and engaged to a man. Nikki Finke's blog reports the premise, explaining that Martin's uptight-but-affable family man George Banks will this time be "thunderstruck and speechless" and none too keen on the revelation of his son's sexual orientation. Although George's wife Nina (Diane Keaton) plays the voice of reason in casting her thick-headed husband out of the house, so reports Finke, we're still looking at a severely outdated mentality in the approach of the subject. Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection Although homophobia is a far, far cry from absent in today's America, the media (including a few of Disney's own properties) seems to embrace the idea that anyone advertising prejudice against gay men and women is acting in the name of ignorance, idiocy, and injustice, not the "acceptable hesitations" of eras past. No longer do we live in the Philadelphia days when a character like Washington's attorney Joe Miller might be seen as sympathetic in spite (or perhaps in light) of his bigotry. Today, the homophobes of film and TV are the bad guys. Although heteronormativity remains a problem coursing through our media, abject hatred is aligned with criminal characters. How can we accept our own George Banks in his role as put-upon good guy with such a nasty proclivity for intolerance? And why is it necessary in a movie about gay marriage for any figure to express disfavor with the wedding at hand? Of course it would be ridiculous to deny extant hardships faced by the gay community, but we've also breached an era wherein the notion of a family accepting a member's profession of homosexuality without pause is hardly implausible. The Philadelphias of past helped to align the sympathies of viewing audiences with gay men and women, to point out the wickedness in the time's all-too-prevalent defamy. What we need now from our movies is to induct gay relationships into their depiction of normalcy. To show that the same love, happiness, drama, and comedy that we see in films like Father of the Bride would exist in a story about two men tying the knot. Even this notion seems too obvious to point out, but clearly Disney doesn't quite think so. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: The Simplicity of 'The Rover' Is Its Victory and Its Downfall
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 13, 2014
    A24 via Everett Collection Ten years after the civilized world bites the dust, making way instead for a criminal wasteland run on greed, violence, sex trafficking, and any number of other unthinkable vices, we meet a man who just wants to take back what was stolen from him. The terrific thing about The Rover is its simplicity. The vast contrivances of its post-apocalyptic world and the dozens of questions that arise as a result of its many mysteries aside, the film never strays from its focus on the bones of grisly Guy Pearce, a man on a mission who just happens to live on a surreal new version of the planet Earth. Pearce chauffers the audience through the nooks and cranies of a tattered Australian outback, giving us a look at the dingy yet colorful customs of the dark era while sticking with promise to his revenge-and-retrieval journey. The script doesn't give Pearce a lot of breathing room, resigning the hot-heated, closed-mouthed character to his mission without much room for exploration. While we celebrate the simplicity of his quest, the simplicity of Pearce's character — and more importantly, his performance — does keep from instilling The Rover with the nuance that would afford it true flavor. A24 via Everett Collection Beside him is Robert Pattinson, playing a young man of questionable mental capacity, roped along for the ride thanks to his tenuous knowledge of where Pearce's desired possession has been taken. Pattinson impresses as the far more vibrant of the duo, his performance abetted by the stark contrast to anything we've seen of him to date — even the stellar Cosmopolis kept the actor moreover subdued. But here, he's given free range to be vulnerable, menacing, and funny.  Ultimately, Rover delivers on everything it offers up, but nonetheless lands short of what feels like a complete and compelling feature. Though the brevity of its intent is one of its strengths, you almost wonder if the story wouldn't have been better served as a short film instead. But we aren't likely to see Robert Pattinson break free from routine in a short film, so I guess that's reason alone for the 102-minute runtime. 3/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 'Birdman' Looks Like Proof That We've Been Wasting Michael Keaton All These Years
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 12, 2014
    YouTube/Fox Searchlight No, not RoboCop — that's just a movie with Michael Keaton in it, puttering around the background with tempered menace. Not The Other Guys, which uses Keaton for nothing more than a recurring joke about TLC lyrics. It's been years. Decades, even, since we saw Keaton grab hold of a role that we could really take home and stew in. Acclaim as the man's greatest work will invariably land on Beetlejuice or Batman. But even these great, especially bizarre cinematic turns don't offer up the full scope of which Keaton is capable. But his latest venture — Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, which has released its first trailer — just might.   It's impossible to ignore the similarities between the premise of Birdman and Keaton's own career: the character began his life in show business as a big name movie star in a superhero franchise, falling toward obscurity in the years to follow. Keaton's decline was never quite as dramatic as the delightfully named Riggan Thomson's looks to be, nor has he ever (publicly) succumbed to this degree of mania. But there's one more connection: one last chance to prove himself more than anybody ever thought him to be. In Birdman, that takes form as a Broadway production that Riggan lands. In Keaton's real life, it's Birdman itself. YouTube/Fox Searchlight Forgive the meta interpretation, but Birdman does look like something we haven't seen (or let) Keaton do in quite some time, perhaps ever. Such a master at the wisecrack and so adept at playing the tertiary oddball, and ostensibly happy to stay relegated to these talents, Keaton has been robbed of his chance to shine as an offbeat dramatic star, instead sticking consistently to the background of commercial fare. In Birdman, so it seems from the trailer (and with consideration of director Iñárritu's history of helming inventive punch-to-the-gut pictures like Biutiful, Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores Perros), Keaton could tap freely into a darkness we haven't seen since his days with Tim Burton; he could use his expertise with vocal tics and manneristic schisms to evoke true psychological horror, drama, and comedy alike. Birdman could give Keaton exactly what the in-universe play gives the former Birdman. And for those of us hungry for the same brand of irreverent insanity packed into his tiny but memorable Beetlejuice performance, this time dipped in a batter of real world turmoil and emotional discord, it's quite an exciting prospect. Birdman, also starring Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Naomi Watts, hits theaters on October 17. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: Hokey 'The Signal' Is a Really Fun Bad 'Twilight Zone' Episode
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 11, 2014
    Focus Features via Everett Collection If you take the unpredictability, the philosophical depth, and the groundbreaking artistry out of a Twilight Zone episode, you'll be left with something like The Signal: a "dude wakes up in a weird place and everything's different and he doesn't know why" story, lacking in most of the merit, but still packing a good sum of the entertainment factor. Although it's hardly the stimulating piece of thought provoking sci-fi that it might aim to be, The Signal is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the avenues of B-movie kitsch, kookiness, and half-baked imagination. The film does the trick in establishing palpable characters. However rote they may be, MIT student Nic (Brenton Thwaites), post-millennial geek Jonah (Beau Knapp), and Nic's girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cooke) are colored bright enough to cart us through the bizarre world soon to ensnare them with no dearth of empathy. We meet the trio at the tail end of a cross-country road trip; Haley is moving to the West Coast with plans reeking of a "fresh start" mentality, despite her affirmed devotion to the recently crippled Nic and their relationship. During their travels, Nic and Jonah are contacted by an anonymous hacker of renown, Nomad, and driven to find his secret hideout in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, exploration of a remote cabin leads our heroes to ultimate doom: they wake up the next morning steeped in a set of strange, often incomprehensible, and consistently titilating circumstances. Focus Features via Everett Collection Government facilities, men in spacesuits (Laurence Fishburne leading the bunch), dense interrogations, disturbing footage, and lanced memories... all of the Rod Serling traditions, each injected with an intimate connection gratis of our mumblecorey introduction to the early 20s trio. As we follow Nic on his endeavor to figure out what the hell is going on and get himself and his friends the hell out of dodge, we're driven both by the mystery and the personal evolution of the characters at hand.   Granted, neither one is offering particularly stellar material: Nic's character arc is basic at best, ditto the "big questions" circling the enigmatic setting. But the saving grace of The Signal, odd as it may be, is that we're never really expecting to be impressed. From the get-go, we feel as though we're stepping into a particularly hokey second-rate feature. It's the embrace of this identity, and the appreciation for a movie of this aesthetic, that can help to carry us to the end (the big reveal!) with plenty of enjoyment. 3.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • The Fatal Difference Between the 'Dumb and Dumber 2' Trailer and 'Dumb and Dumber'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 11, 2014
    Universal Pictures The spirit of Dumb & Dumber is summed up, appropriately, in the final lines of the film. After inadvertently shooing away a busload of beautiful women seeking their company (and then some), our witless heroes Harry and Lloyd continue on their wayward journey down the Colorado highway, sinking blissfully into the little world that only they will ever occupy. After Jim Carrey bemoans their lonesome fate, Jeff Daniels stoically assures him that the duo's time will come — "We've just got to keep our eyes open." — before the inevitable game of its, no backsies, and double stamps erupts. It's this particularly tender ending that makes us realize that the previous two hours of infantile wisecracks and slapstick of the lowest brow were actually woven together, and made far more enjoyable than they should have been, by a sweet, warm thread of love for these characters and their joint private nirvana. It's the kindness, not the crudeness, that makes Dumb & Dumber such a special success. So we're worried that Dumb and Dumber 2, from the looks of the first trailer for the film, might be approaching its mission from the wrong side.    The trailer works blue with jokes about cat butts, bicycle dry-humping, and the vicious yanking of active catheters... nothing that would have felt too out of place in Dumb & Dumber. But the extended focus on a scene in which Lloyd attempts to swindle an ostensibly senile old women out of her hidden diamonds, amounting in the crassest gag in the preview. New Line Cinema via Everett Collection While crassness isn't a dealbreaker, it should not be the backbone of a Dumb & Dumber movie: innocence should. Harry and Lloyd were likable characters despite all the havoc and harm they caused due to their good nature and innocence. But here, that seems to be shafted in favor of an up of the ante on the crudeness that the Farrelly Brothers are so famous for. Look at lesser Farrelly films, like Shallow Hal and Hall Pass, as compared to Dumb & Dumber or There's Something About Mary — when crudeness takes a backseat to heart, we don't wind up with something memorable or particularly funny. We only hope that Dumb and Dumber To, as it is officially titled, does not make this fatal mistake. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com